Archive for June, 2009

Norway – Nazis

What we do to ourselves is far worse than what others can do to us

Take the case of Norway, for example. They have two Nobel Laureates in Literature. One, a huge fan of Hitler, a man who gave his Nobel prize to Joseph Goebbels as a gift, the other a writer who fled the Nazis and tried to save European Jews.

Norway is honoring the Nazi. (Aside: have you ever noticed how many peace-type folks just adore fascists? I’m thinking of the Quakers, but the nation of Norway has similar pretentions.)

Norway recently assumed the chairmanship of an international task force on Holocaust education. Yet the Norwegian government also recently launched a year-long celebration of the life and work of a supporter of the Nazis. The object of this adoration is Knut Hamsun (1859-1952), author of such acclaimed novels as Hunger, Pan and Growth of the Soil, which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920. Among the latter book’s most ardent fans was Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who had it translated and published in a special edition for German soldiers during World War II.

The feeling was mutual. Hamsun welcomed the Nazi occupation of Norway, met personally with both Goebbels and Adolf Hitler, and in 1943 sent his Nobel Prize to Goebbels as a gift.

NONE OF THAT has stopped the government of Norway from undertaking “Hamsun 2009,” commemorating Hamsun’s 150th birthday with a year of public events, exhibits, commemorative coins, a new 27-volume collection of his writings and, on August 4 (Hamsun’s birthday), the opening of a $20-million, six-story Hamsun Center in his home town of Hamaroy, complete with the unveiling of a huge bronze statue of the honoree.

Queen Sonja personally kicked off the festivities, joining members of the Hamsun family for a viewing of the National Library’s exhibit of Hamsun’s handwritten manuscripts. The exhibit included an article Hamsun wrote hailing Hitler as “a warrior for mankind, and a prophet of the gospel of justice for all nations.” Afterward, the queen would say only, “I think we’ll have to keep two thoughts in our head at the same time.”

Evidently she meant thoughts about both Hamsun the writer, on the one hand, and Hamsun the Nazi supporter, on the other. A third thought might be in order – a thought about the fact that the royal family was forced to flee Norway when the Nazis, so admired by Hamsun, occupied their country.

THE CONTRAST between the experience of the royal family in the
1940s and the behavior of the Norwegian royalty today is not the only irony in this story. Consider the fact that the only other Norwegian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in the past 100 years was Sigrid Undset, a fervent anti-Nazi – in other words, Hamsun’s moral opposite.

Undset (1882-1949) won the Nobel Prize in 1928 for her novels about life in medieval Scandinavia, including the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter. Joseph Goebbels had no interest in Undset’s works; the accolades of her countrymen, and her readers around the world, had to suffice. Undset fled Norway in 1940 to escape the Nazis. Taking up residence in New York City, she soon became cochair of the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe (better known as the Bergson Group), which pressed the Roosevelt administration to rescue Jews from the Nazis.

While the Nazis, cheered on by Hamsun, were deporting more than 700 Norwegian Jews to Auschwitz in the autumn of 1942, Undset was a leading activist in the Bergson Group’s campaign of rallies, newspaper ads and Washington lobbying for US action to save the Jews. Yet there is no word from Oslo about any plans by the Norwegian government to hold any year-long celebration of her life and work, nor to erect a statue of her, nor even to sponsor an exhibit acknowledging her literary and moral achievements.

ALL OF WHICH would be bad enough, but to make matters worse, Norway recently assumed the chairmanship of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education Remembrance and Research, a group of 26 European countries organized in Stockholm in 1998 to promote awareness of the Nazi genocide. In an essay published last week, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, challenged Norway’s chairmanship of the task force. “This country is unfit to hold such a position when in the same year it has held major memorial activities for the Nazi-admirer Hamsun,” Gerstenfeld wrote.

Europe is very, very sick.

- Aggie

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Cat Fight

I heard reference to this, but I’m glad to find a report on the kerfuffle:

“A spirited affair” — that’s what the Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney is calling his Sunday talk-show smackdown with Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.

Long story short: Last week, during President Obama’s press conference, the president called on Pitney, asking him if he had a question. Milbank wrote a column in the Washington Post on the unusual exchange:
“Nico, I know that you and all across the Internet, we’ve been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran,” the president went on. “I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?”

It was Rush, I believe, who played this clip the other day. It sounded even worse than it reads—a complete set up.

Milbank slammed the exchange as “stagecraft,” calling Pitney a “planted questioner.” Pitney, who has been live blogging events in Iran, said he was contacted by the White House the night before the press conference.

From Politico:

“I received a call from White House staff saying they had seen what I’d written and thought the President might be interested in receiving a question directly from an Iranian. The White House didn’t guarantee that I would be able to ask a question. But I decided that if there was even a chance, I should try to reach out to as many Iranians as possible.”

Deputy press secretary Bill Burton told the Washington Post that Pitney’s wasn’t a “pre-planned” question:
“He wasn’t planted nor was the question pre-planned. He happened to ask the best question on the issue of Iran, and it isn’t one that we knew in advance nor that we asked him to pose.”

(In a post today, Pitney claims that Milbank called him an un-nameable part of the male anatomy.)

A beer gut?

But you just have to love this. They’re all clamoring to love President Obama “long time, make him go boom-boom,” that they’re fighting over him.

I’m recalling Alexis and Crystal from the famous dust-up in Dynasty

Nico called Dana “pathetic,” Dana fired back that he’s never worked in “collusion” with a White House administration.

Oh, you’re the one.

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As Tehran Goes, So Goes Minnesota

Funny, innit, that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Al Franken are confirmed in their respective recounts on the same day.

In both cases, no alleged irregularities were actually discovered to void the elections.

So President Bush has indeed successfully brought American style democracy to the Middle East. Now, if we can only get a little of it back.

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Obama Proves Bush Doctrine

I suppose the only real weakness behind President Bush’s assertion of an Axis of Evil was any evidence that they actually worked in concert. Proving so would certainly be difficult in the case of Iran and Iraq, which fought to a stalemate after years of war.

But Iran and North Korea, that’s more credible—and we all owe President Obama a debt of gratitude for making the case:

The Obama administration on Tuesday imposed financial sanctions on a company accused of involvement in North Korea’s missile proliferation network.

The Treasury Department moved against Hong Kong Electronics, a company located in Kish Island, Iran.

A company named after Hong Kong, based in Iran, is accused of aiding North Korea.

Is Karl Rove still running the country? Nah, even his evil genius couldn’t dream this one up.

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Senator Everyman

The Boston Globe has made the mistake before of publishing fiction not identified as such. In fact, that’s how Mike Barnicle became a national figure—losing his column in the Glob for the twin sins of plagiarism and just making stuff up.

But now they’ve gone and done it again. They’re trying to convince us that John Forbes Kerry, multimillionaire and blue-blood, has become Senator Pothole:

When the longtime mayor of North Adams, John Barrett III, picks up the phone these days, he often hears a familiar deep voice that he once acidly complained wasn’t heard very much in his city or other smaller venues in Massachusetts.

“He’ll say, ‘What do you need? What’s going on back there? How can I help you?’ ’’ Barrett said.

Could you lend me a couple of hundred till next month would be my response.

But the Glob swears Kerry is a new man:

For decades, Kerry has been dogged by a reputation for a lack of interest in local affairs and aloofness around his Senate colleagues – an attitude that, combined with his patrician habits, often got him labeled as arrogant. Even when he rode the strength of his foreign policy experience and the drama of his personal story to his party’s presidential nomination, a lack of affection for him hampered his candidacy.

But the Kerry who returned to the Senate from the presidential trail was a different man, many colleagues noted, and now, with his presidential ambitions behind him and the senior colleague who long dominated his state sidelined by cancer, Kerry is experiencing what fellow lawmakers describe as a midcareer metamorphosis.

Midcareer? MID-career??? He’s in his fifth term, and we’re supposed to endure another couple of decades of his humorless monotony?

Not so, says the Glob. He’s a regular Joe now. A back and knee slapper:

Long regarded as a loner, Kerry now lingers on the Senate floor during votes, talking with colleagues. Once known more for his solo speeches on the floor, Kerry for months has been leading weekly strategy sessions with other senators to find consensus on a climate change bill – a tactic usually identified with Senator Edward M. Kennedy – and following up with friendly meetings with individual senators to address their objections.

Kerry’s Senate schedule is heavily packed with hearings, speeches and international travel associated with his new role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But in Massachusetts, Kerry has taken an elevated role, keeping in close contact with local officials and securing federal grants for in-state projects. His staff has been directed to hold “office hours’’ in more than 350 communities, and has completed about 200 of the sessions this year to hear constituent concerns.

Note that’s his staff that is dispatched to Belchertown and Athol to talk to the yokels. “Live Shot” himself has never been west of Cambridge, unless it’s to Tanglewood, where he choppers in and out.

Come on, Boston Globe. Next you’ll tell us Barney Frank is dating Megan Fox. I’d believe that first.

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Open Season

Just one question for the Liberal Media—and since that includes just about everyone still working in print, pick a spokesman to answer for you—if Governor Palin is such a joke, why the hell are you guys spilling so much ink to bring her down?

As Palin makes her way slowly across the crowded ballroom—dressed all in black; no red Naughty Monkey Double Dare pumps tonight—she is stopped every few inches by adoring fans. She passes the press pen, where at least eight television cameras and a passel of reporters and photographers are corralled, and spots a reporter for a local community newspaper getting ready to take a happy snap with his pocket camera. For a split second she stops, pauses, turns her head and shoulders just so, and smiles. She holds the pose until she’s sure the man has his shot and then moves on. A few minutes later, the evening’s nominal keynote speaker, the Republican Party’s national chairman, Michael Steele, who has been reduced to a footnote in the proceedings, introduces the special guest speaker as “the storm that is the honorable governor of the great state of Alaska, Sarah Palin!”

Just where that storm may be heading is one of the most intriguing issues in American politics today. Palin is at once the sexiest and the riskiest brand in the Republican Party. Her appeal to people in the party (and in the country) who share her convictions and resentments is profound. The fascination is viral, and global. Bill McAllister, until recently Palin’s statehouse spokesman, says that he has fielded (and declined) interview requests from France, England, Italy, Switzerland, Israel, Germany, Bulgaria, “and probably other countries I’ve forgotten about.” (Palin, keeping her distance from most domestic media as well, also declined to talk to V.F.).

Can’t imagine why.

But at least the author acknowledges her appeal, and gets a glimmer of the reasons for it (“… people in the party (and in the country) who share her convictions and resentments is profound”). But her convictions (in the greatness of America) are not their convictions: they respond, rather, to President Obama’s catalog of complaints about the country. And her resentments (big government) are most assuredly not theirs either. Stimulus? How exciting! Cap-and-trade? How bold! Socialized medicine? What took us so long?

Palin’s shortcomings need no more elaboration here: they were covered amply enough in the campaign. And if she repeats the mistakes of last time, there won’t be much of a next time.

But I don’t see that happening. And if Chris Matthews can get a thrill up his leg (and beyond) from Barack Obama, I don’t see what the problem is with millions of conservative who suffer the same sensation at the sight or thought of Miss Wasilla.

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Obama Back Under Water

I cite the Rasmussen Poll from time to time, with the caveat that it doesn’t give a consistent return day to day.

But that’s changed:

Over the past two weeks, the Presidential Approval Index has stayed in a narrow range between +2 and -2.

The number of people who think he’s a disaster is now at least equal to the number of people who think he walks on water. It’s the mildly favorable who are buoying his poll numbers—and they can change their minds.

Meanwhile:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 50% of U.S. voters at least somewhat favor the Democrats’ health care reform plan, while 45% are at least somewhat opposed.

While the overall numbers favor the plan, those with strong opinions tilt the other way. Twenty-four percent (24%) strongly favor the plan, but 34% are strongly opposed.

Take note, America, of this cautionary tale:

Twenty-six percent (26%) of Massachusetts voters say their state’s health care reform effort has been a success. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state finds that 37% say the reform effort has been a failure, while another 37% are not sure.

Barely one in four Bay Staters think our health care “reform” was a success, while the other three out of four either think it’s been a disaster or find themselves underwhelmed.

It’s mystery to me how President Obama can remain as popular as he is by espousing policies as unpopular as the ones he does. But that’s beginning to change, and if those policies are as bad as many of us have been arguing, his popularity will soon be in the toilet where it—and his policies—belong.

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And More Taxes

Most of our readers don’t live in Massachusetts, but our little piece of Paradise is about to get a lot pricier.

Governor Deval Patrick signed a budget yesterday that imposes more than $1 billion in additional taxes on Massachusetts residents and visitors, most of it through the first increase in the state sales tax in 33 years, even as he declined to rule out a future boost in the state gas tax.

Patrick, whose earlier proposal for a 19-cent-per-gallon increase in the gasoline tax was largely ignored by the Legislature, continued to make the case yesterday that the tax could be necessary to put the state’s transportation network on sounder financial footing.

“We haven’t done that yet. We haven’t finished that work yet,’’ Patrick said, when asked if he would keep pushing for a gas tax. “And whether that’s the gas tax or something else, we’re going to have to face those issues, I think sooner rather than later.’’

Oh yes, let’s get to work! You may not know this, but David Axelrod, the fellow who designed the Obama campaign, ran Governor Patrick’s campaign first. Call it the beta version of the Obama campaign. They worked out all the kinks here. And can you guess what the campaign slogan was?

Together We Can!

They changed it to Yes, We Can for Obama. Patrick reminds me of Obama in many ways. Very liberal, African American, attorney, low-key, pleasant demeanor, loves to spend and spend.

If we are lucky enough to get all the tax increases that these guys envision, at both the state and federal levels, we won’t be left with two nickels to rub together. Welcome to the future.

- Aggie

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More Talk Of Value Added Tax

Is this idea being floated to frighten everyone into agreeing to many other taxes, or is it real?

My understanding of Value Added Tax (VAT Tax) is that it is sort of like a national sales tax (on top of our state, federal, FICA and other taxes). So, if the VAT tax is 5% and your state sales tax is 6%, you would pay 11% over the cost of the product. Additionally, I think that the VAT tax is assessed at every step of the manufacturing process, but I’m not sure exactly how that works. If I’m correct, it means that the underlying cost of the product goes up by 5% at each step of the way, a huge price increase to the final consumer. This would be an enormous tax increase and gobs of money for the federal government. And it is “regressive”, meaning that the poorest among us will pay the largest share of their resources, proportionally, because they won’t be able to cut back on their spending for essentials. Here is an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, written by the deputy secretary of the Treasury in the first Clinton administration, Roger Altman.

Only five months after Inauguration Day, the focus of Washington’s economic and domestic policy is already shifting. This reflects the emergence of much larger budget deficits than anyone expected. Indeed, federal deficits may average a stunning $1 trillion annually over the next 10 years. This worsened outlook is stirring unease on Main Street and beginning to reorder priorities for President Barack Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership. By 2010, reducing the deficit will become their primary focus.

Why has the deficit outlook changed? Two main reasons: The burst of spending in recent years and the growing likelihood of a weak economic recovery. The latter would mean considerably lower federal revenues, the compiling of more interest on our growing debt, and thus higher deficits. Yes, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors is still forecasting a traditional cyclical recovery — i.e., real growth of 3.2% next year and 4% in 2011. But the latest data suggests that we’re on a much slower path. Probably along the lines of the most recent Goldman Sachs and International Monetary Fund forecasts, whose growth rates average about 2% for 2010-2011.

A speedy recovery is highly unlikely given the financial condition of American households, whose spending represents 70% of GDP. Household net worth has fallen more than 20% since its mid-2007 peak. [We were at our wealthiest during the Bush years??? I thought that was a terrible economy. I read too many newspapers, apparently. - Aggie] This drop began just when household debt reached 130% of income, a modern record. This lethal combination has forced households to lower their spending to reduce their debt. So far, however, they have just begun to pay it down. This implies subdued spending and weak national growth for some time.

He goes on to tell us that we’re in trouble, we’re going to do a national health bill, we’re going to cut other places, blah, blah, blah… but still it won’t be enough. We need a VAT tax. And he predicts bi-partisan support.

We all know the recent and bitter history of tax struggles in Washington, let alone Mr. Obama’s pledge to exempt those earning less than $250,000 from higher income taxes. This suggests that, possibly next year, Congress will seriously consider a value-added tax (VAT). A bipartisan deficit reduction commission, structured like the one on Social Security headed by Alan Greenspan in 1982, may be necessary to create sufficient support for a VAT or other new taxes.

This challenge may be the toughest one Mr. Obama faces in his first term. Fortunately, the new president is enormously gifted. That’s important, because it is no longer a matter of whether tax revenues must increase, but how.

Ok, so, according to the dems, it is important to increase taxes, and soon. They spent us to this point in just about half a year. It is as annoying as can be, but over half of us voted for it, didn’t we?

- Aggie

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Sanford and Wife

Just as Sarah Palin gave conservative cover to John McCain, Governor Juan Peron Sanford is bettered by his better half:

As her husband’s affair with an Argentine woman exploded onto the global stage and publicly humiliated her family, Jenny Sanford, 46, and their four sons sought refuge here at their large beachfront cottage on this lush island enclave outside Charleston.

In marked contrast to elsewhere across the state, where residents remain riveted by the scandal of Gov. Mark Sanford’s disappearing act and affair, Sullivan’s Island is the cocoon protecting Jenny and the boys as they strive for normalcy.

But it has also been the first lady’s war room, where she has given her wayward husband a public thrashing. In the process, she seems to have drawn a new path for the aggrieved spouse of a philandering politician, an episode that has become something of a ritual in American politics.

“Jenny is the hero in this story,” said Cyndi Mosteller, a longtime friend and a prominent Republican operative here. “She’s the hero to her children, and I think she’s the hero to this state. In the midst of this tragedy, she is standing strong to who she is and what she believes in. . . . I think Jenny has not had these types of ambitions, but I think every woman in South Carolina would vote for Jenny Sanford for governor right now.”

For Mark Sanford to move South Carolina past a sex scandal that gripped the nation and embarrassed his state last week, family friends here said, he may need help from his wife, who has long been his chief political strategist.

When her husband first ran for Congress in 1994, Jenny Sanford had a 15-month-old and a newborn to care for. She ran the campaign from the basement of the cottage, a role she continued to play in other campaigns.

“He would have never won either of his governor’s races without her — no way,” said Will Folks, Sanford’s spokesman from 2001 to 2005. “She ran the show. He pointed the direction he wanted to go, and she was the bulldozer that cleared the path and got him there.”

If Governor Sanford has fallen in love with Miss Buenos Aires, good luck to him. But his behavior as governor is indefensible. Disappearing for days at a time, using state funds to finance his international booty calls—people still resign for that sort of thing, don’t they?

Full disclosure: I lauded Governor Sanford in this post for turning down stimulus funds. If credit was instead due to Jenny, I hereby transfer it with apology and admiration.

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Honduras is Not Iran

Are you hearing what I’m hearing? President Obama had his mitts all over the “coup” (or whatever it was) in Honduras:

The Obama administration and members of the Organization of American States had worked for weeks to try to avert any moves to overthrow President Zelaya, said senior U.S. officials. Washington’s ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, sought to facilitate a dialogue between the president’s office, the Honduran parliament and the military.

The efforts accelerated over the weekend, as Washington grew increasingly alarmed. “The players decided, in the end, not to listen to our message,” said one U.S. official involved in the diplomacy. On Sunday, the U.S. embassy here tried repeatedly to contact the Honduran military directly, but was rebuffed. Washington called the removal of President Zelaya a coup and said it wouldn’t recognize any other leader.

Huh.

If you substituted “Iran” for “Honduras”, carping back-biters (like, well, me) would have had nothing to complain about.

Instead we got this:

We respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran.

Huh.

Can I hear our policy on Honduras again?

U.S. President Barack Obama called the ouster illegal.

Huh.

I don’t get it. Maybe Mary Anastasia O’Grady can explain it to me:

Hugo Chávez’s coalition-building efforts suffered a setback yesterday when the Honduran military sent its president packing for abusing the nation’s constitution.

It seems that President Mel Zelaya miscalculated when he tried to emulate the success of his good friend Hugo in reshaping the Honduran Constitution to his liking.

But Honduras is not out of the Venezuelan woods yet. Yesterday the Central American country was being pressured to restore the authoritarian Mr. Zelaya by the likes of Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Hillary Clinton and, of course, Hugo himself. The Organization of American States, having ignored Mr. Zelaya’s abuses, also wants him back in power. It will be a miracle if Honduran patriots can hold their ground.

That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

Well, that explains why Chavez, the hefty jefe, likes him: that’s behavior straight out of his play book.

But why are we supporting this tinpot?

The OAS response is no surprise. Former Argentine Ambassador to the U.N. Emilio Cárdenas told me on Saturday that he was concerned that “the OAS under Insulza has not taken seriously the so-called ‘democratic charter.’ It seems to believe that only military ‘coups’ can challenge democracy. The truth is that democracy can be challenged from within, as the experiences of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and now Honduras, prove.” A less-kind interpretation of Mr. Insulza’s judgment is that he doesn’t mind the Chávez-style coup.

The struggle against chavismo has never been about left-right politics. It is about defending the independence of institutions that keep presidents from becoming dictators. This crisis clearly delineates the problem. In failing to come to the aid of checks and balances, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Insulza expose their true colors.

I’m serious when I say I still don’t get it. About all I can come up with is that Obama supports left wing dictators over democratic institutions.

Am I off base? And if I’m not, what does that suggest about his intentions here?

PS: American Thinker is thinking along the same lines:

Sadly, the Obama presidency keeps getting “curiouser and curiouser.” According to Obama, Israel’s settlement building is illegal, the Iranian elections are legitimate, and the Honduran military’s respect for the rule of law is “not legal.” In other words, it is fine for the Obama administration to meddle in the internal affairs of a sovereign ally, it has no interest in defending a popular uprising in which people are dying in the name of freedom, and it will support the Chavez-cloned dictator in the face of a democratic struggle.

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Father Was Murdered By Suicide Bomber

Son ok with that

Read this article. This is what people mean when they say things like: They don’t think like we do.

I first realized something was wrong when the hand-held metal detector didn’t make a sound.

There were three phones in my pocket, surely one of them should have triggered the guard’s electronic wand to do something. Not a bleep, not even a twinkling LED.

It was all a little surreal. Here we were just feet from where a Taliban suicide bomber had blown himself up the week before killing the owner of the establishment and yet security was so lax his brother could have come in with a second pay load and no one would have been any the wiser until it went off.

The man the suicide bomber had come to kill was Mulana Safaraz Naeemi, the proprietor of the religious schools we were now entering.

Naeemi had built a vast network of religious schools, better known here as Madrassas, all across Pakistan. In Lahore alone he had more than 100, attended by as many as 100,000 young students. The one we were now visiting was the flagship, Jamia Naeemi.

As we moved inside, there arrayed around the open courtyard and in classrooms were his students, sitting on low benches at low tables rocking backwards and forwards memorizing the Quran. Apparently they had taken a two-day break after he had been killed and then gone back to their studies.

Naeemi’s office was by the main door; his son Mulana Raghib Naeemi told me what happened.

He described how after leading the main weekly prayers on Friday his father had retired to his office, was sitting in his chair talking with his students when a young man came in and asked for him by name.

The man they now know was a Taliban killer asked for a glass of water, slowly drank it, dropped to one knee then detonated his explosive vest.

Naeemi’s crime in the eyes of the Taliban was to issue a religious ruling, a Fatwa banning suicide bombing. He was a real threat, a top level cleric with a lot of pull. If young fanatics listened to him the Taliban would be without one of their best weapons.

Naeemi junior showed me the nuts, bolts, screws and ball bearings they had gathered from around the room, even found embedded in the store across the road. Everything that had spewed from the Taliban bomb.

Then he delivered his own stunning secret and even now it feels surreal. He tells me his father could have had security but had turned it down choosing to put his faith in God. It sort of explains the lack of attention to detail by the guard on the front gate.

At least I thought that was the scoop until I started asking Naeemi junior more about the suicide issue. His father had a huge following and Naeemi told me he was committed to following in his footsteps. To do anything else, he said, would be to turn the country over to the Taliban and anarchy.

Then he told me suicide bombings in Afghanistan against U.S. and NATO troops are justified because they are invaders killing Muslims. That is when the penny dropped so to speak. A question I’d had for a while just got answered.

While Pakistan and Pakistanis are more committed than they have ever been to crushing their own internal Taliban problem, they are far from turning on the Taliban across the border in Afghanistan.

Inside Pakistan the sentiment is clear; the Taliban are a menace to stability. Outside the country however they are still seen as a tool to achieve regional goals.

Pakistan, it appears, is still pursuing historic national interests, what they call having “strategic depth.” Simply put to have a stake in who runs Afghanistan.

Suicide bombing for thee, but not for me. These are our friends.

- Aggie

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