Daily Archives: March 15, 2008

Dutch Establishment Threatens to Prosecute Wilders and Claim Damages

Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who is making a 10-minute movie about Islam entitled Fitna (Arabic for “ordeal”), has felt compelled to cancel the March 28 press conference where he intended to show his film. The Nieuwspoort press center in The Hague, which is run by a board of journalists, publishers and government press officers, demanded that Wilders pay 400,000 euros for extra safety measures. “Apparently, you have to be a millionaire to organize such an event,” Mr Wilders said. “Even if I had the money I am not going to spend it on a press conference.”

No Dutch broadcaster, public or private, has been willing to show the film. There are indications that Fitna will also be banned on Youtube, which removed a clip featuring Mr Wilders two week ago, on so-called “ethical grounds”.

Dutch international companies, fearing a boycott of their products by Muslims, have announced that they intend to hold Mr Wilders responsible for a loss of profits and markets in the event of a boycott. They have asked Gerard Spong, one of the top lawyers in the Netherlands, to see whether a court case claiming damages from Wilders will be possible. Mr Spong and several other lawyers have already lodged some fifty formal complaints against the politician for “incitement to racial hatred and discrimination of Muslims” because Mr Wilders expressed the opinion that the Koran is “a fascist book which should be banned in the Netherlands.”

Last November, when Wilders announced he was going to make a movie expressing his view on Islam and the Koran, Doekle Terpstra, a member of the board of directors of the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever, told the Dutch media that “Geert Wilders is evil, and evil has to be stopped.” The Unilever director, anticipating a worldwide Muslim boycott of Unilever products (brands such as Axe, Ben and Jerry’s, Best Foods, Brooke Bond, Colman’s, Cif, Dove, Glidat Strauss, Heartbrand, Hellmann’s, Imperial Margarine, Knorr, Lipton, Pepsodent, Sunsilk, Unox, Vaseline, etc.), called upon the Dutch to “rise in order to stop Wilders from preaching his evil message.”

Mr Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament, has been living under police protection for almost four years. Muslim fanatics have threatened to assassinate him for his outspoken criticism of Islam. The politician has no fixed residence and has to live in army barracks or other heavily secured premises.

Radical Muslims have threatened to indiscriminately kill Dutch citizens or retaliate against the Netherlands with a terror attack if Mr Wilders’ movie is released. This week, Dutch people with the surname “Wilders” received death threats. Though not related to the politician, three Wilderses received anonymous letters ordering them to prevent their namesake from releasing his movie. If they fail, the letter states, “the first deadly victim will be you, one of your children or grandchildren.”

Last week Henk Hofland, the nestor of Dutch journalism, proposed on Dutch television that the Dutch authorities lift Geert Wilders’ police protection. “Let him feel what it is like for those whose lives he endangers,” Hofland, the former editor of NRC Handelsblad, the leading newspaper in the Netherlands, opined. Mr Hofland, who was given the title “Dutch journalist of the century” by his colleagues in 1999, asserted that, if Dutch citizens get murdered in retaliation for Wilders’ opinions on Islam, not the assassins are to be blamed, but the politician. Apparently, to Hofland and his ilk being critical of Islam is worse than slaughtering innocent people in the name of Islam.

Hofland’s declaration did not lead to widespread indignation, which indicates that Mr Hofland is not the only Dutchman willing to deliver Mr Wilders and other critics of Islam to those who want to murder them. All this could have been predicted. In fact, it was. Last month I questioned the wisdom of Geert Wilders here, asking whether he was on a suicide mission:

If the Wilders movie results in (fatal) attacks on Dutch citizens and Dutch interests abroad, it might lead to an anti-Wilders backlash. The Dutch are not Danes. […] Like the Spanish after the Madrid bombings they might paint their hands white and surrender. Rather than banning the Koran, they might ban every criticism of Islam. In 1940, the Dutch surrendered to the Nazis after barely five days when Hitler bombed Rotterdam. The British never surrendered, despite the blitz. Perhaps Geert Wilders thinks that his compatriots are braver today than they were 68 years ago.

Given the predictable Dutch reaction of turning against those who endanger their cosy, hedonistic existence, perhaps Mr Wilders does not think his compatriots braver today than before. Perhaps he is on a suicide mission, and fully realizes it. In an interview last week, Wilders, who is married but has no children, said that he is prepared to die for his opinions. He is not endangering the lives of others, as Mr Hofland implies; it are his Islamist enemies who are threatening others with death.
Maybe it is Mr Wilders’ preparedness to fight and die that bothers and enrages the Dutch business and media establishment. If so, many of them will be relieved when Mr Wilders gets killed by his enemies. They might be quite happy that having got rid of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, they are now rid of Geert Wilders, too, so that Unilever can continue doing business in the Arab worlds while Henk Hofland and his admiring fellow journalists can continue advocating free speech for everyone except those who are critical of bullies who threaten kill anyone who does not agree with them.
All this, as said, should have been common knowledge. The Dutch showed what stuff they were made of two years ago, when they made life impossible for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an elected member of their parliament, just like Mr Wilders. Her neighbours sued to get her removed from the apartment where she was living under police protection. The court of appeal ordered Ms Hirsi Ali to leave her house within four months, invoking… the European treaty for Human Rights. As the judges said:

The court considers in its ruling that the neighbours have been put into a situation that has contributed to them feeling less safe in their own house. That feeling is extended to the communal living spaces of the apartment complex, but also to their own apartments. The court argues that this is a severe violation of one’s private life (as per Article 8 of the European Treaty for Human Rights).

Ms Hirsi Ali was booted out of her own house by virtue of the European Treaty for Human Rights because Muslim fanatics threatened her, thereby causing her neighbours to “feel less safe in their own house.” Soon, Mr Wilders, whatever one thinks about his opinions, his motives or the wisdom of his decisions, will be booted out – also in the name of grand principles such as human rights – because he makes others feel less safe. That is his crime: While the majority of the Dutch are willing to submit, he is not.

More on this topic:

The Wilders Controversy: Do Europeans Still Belong in Europe?
4 March 2008

Wilders Postpones Movie, Fortuyn’s Lawyer Attacks Wilders
, 26 January 2008

Is Geert Wilders on a Suicide Mission? 25 January 2008

Dutch Unilever Director Wants Wilders Stopped, 8 December 2007


Verbatim: Bush On The Economic Challenges And America’s Record Of Resilience

By PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH | Posted Friday, March 14, 2008 4:30 PM PT

Following are excerpts from President Bush’s speech made Friday at the Economic Club of New York.

This is not the first time since I’ve been president that we have faced economic challenges. We inherited a recession. And there were the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, which many of you saw firsthand, and you know full well how that affected our economy.

Then we had corporate scandals. And I made the difficult decisions to confront the terrorists and extremists on two major fronts, Afghanistan and Iraq. We had devastating natural disasters. And the interesting thing, every time, is this economy has bounced back better and stronger than before.

So I’m coming to you as an optimistic fellow. I’ve seen what happens when America deals with difficulty. I believe that we’re a resilient economy, and I believe that the ingenuity and resolve of the American people is what helps us deal with these issues. And it’s going to happen again.

Our job in Washington is to foster enterprise and ingenuity so we can ensure our economy is flexible enough to adjust to adversity and strong enough to attract capital. And the challenge is not to do anything foolish in the meantime. In the long run, I’m confident that our economy will continue to grow, because the foundation is solid.

Unemployment is low at 4.8%. Wages have risen, productivity has been strong. Exports are at an all-time high, and the federal deficit as a percentage of our total economy is well below the historic average. But these are tough times. Growth fell to 0.6% in the fourth quarter of last year. It’s clearly slow. The economy shed more than 80,000 jobs in two months. Prices are up at the gas pump and in the supermarket. Housing values are down. Hardworking Americans are concerned about their families, and they’re concerned about making their bills.

Fortunately, we recognized the slowdown early and took action. And it was decisive action, in the form of policies that will spur growth.

This package is temporary, and it has two key elements. First, the growth package provides incentives for businesses to make investments in new equipment this year. As more businesses take advantage, investment will pick up, and then job creation will follow. The purpose was to stimulate investment. And the signal is clear — once I signed the bill, the signal to folks in businesses large and small know that there’s some certainty in the tax code for the remainder of this year.

Secondly, the package will provide tax rebates to more than 130 million households. And the purpose is to boost consumer spending. The purpose is to try to offset the loss of wealth if the value of your home has gone down. The purpose is to buoy the consumer.

* * * *

The Federal Reserve has taken action to bolster the economy. I respect Ben Bernanke. I think he’s doing a good job under tough circumstances. The Fed has cut interest rates several times.

This week the Fed also announced a major move to ease stress in the credit markets by adding liquidity. It was strong action by the Fed, and they did so because some financial institutions that borrowed money to buy securities in the housing industry must now repair their balance sheets before they can make further loans. The housing issue has dried up some of the sources of credit that businesses need in our economy to help it grow.

This morning the Federal Reserve, with support of the Treasury Department, took additional actions to mitigate disruptions to our financial markets. Today’s events are fast-moving, but the chairman of the Federal Reserve and the secretary of the Treasury are on top of them, and will take the appropriate steps to promote stability in our markets.

Now, a root cause of the economic slowdown has been the downturn in the housing market. After years of steady increases, home values in some parts of the country have declined. At the same time, many homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages have seen their monthly payments increase faster than their ability to pay. As a result, a growing number of people are facing the prospect of foreclosure.

Foreclosure places a terrible burden on our families. Foreclosure disrupts communities. And so the question is, what do you do about it in a way that allows the market to work, and at the same time helps people?

The temptation is for people, in their attempt to limit the number of foreclosures, to put bad law in place. And so I want to talk about some of that. First of all, the temptation of Washington is to say that anything short of a massive government intervention in the housing market amounts to inaction. I strongly disagree with that sentiment.

I believe there ought to be action, but I’m deeply concerned about law and regulation that will make it harder for the markets to recover — and when they recover, make it harder for this economy to be robust. And so we must be careful and mindful that any time the government intervenes in the market, it must do so with clear purpose and great care. Government actions have far-reaching and unintended consequences.

I want to talk to you about a couple of ideas that I strongly reject. First, one bill in Congress would provide $4 billion for state and local governments to buy up abandoned and foreclosed homes. I guess this sounds like a good idea to some, but if your goal is to help Americans keep their homes, it doesn’t make any sense to spend billions of dollars buying up homes that are already empty.

As a matter of fact, when you buy up empty homes you’re only helping the lenders, or the speculators. The purpose of government ought to be to help the individuals, not those who speculated in homes. This bill sends the wrong signal to the market.

Second, some have suggested we change the bankruptcy courts, the bankruptcy code, to give bankruptcy judges the authority to reduce mortgage debts by judicial decree. I think that sends the wrong message. It would be unfair to millions of homeowners who have made the hard spending choices necessary to pay their mortgages on time.

It would further rattle credit markets. It would actually cause interest rates to go up. If banks think that judges might step in and write down the value of home loans, they’re going to charge higher interest rates to cover that risk. This idea would make it harder for responsible first-time home buyers to be able to afford a home.

There are some in Washington who say we ought to artificially prop up home prices. It sounds reasonable in a speech, but it’s not going to help first-time homebuyers, for example. A lot of people have been priced out of the market right now because of decisions made by others. The market is in the process of correcting itself; markets must have time to correct. Delaying that correction would only prolong the problem.

* * * *

We’ve taken three key steps. First, we launched a new program at the Federal Housing Administration called FHA Secure. It’s given FHA greater flexibility to offer refinancing for struggling homeowners with otherwise good credit. In other words, we’re saying to people, we want to help you refinance your notes.

Over the past six months this program has helped about 120,000 families stay in their homes by refinancing about $17 billion of mortgages, and by the end of the year we expect this program to have reached 300,000 families.

I’m old enough to remember savings and loans, and remember who my savings and loan officer was, who loaned me my first money to buy a house. And had I gotten in a bind, I could have walked across the street in Midland, Texas, and said, “I need a little help; can you help me readjust my note so I can stay in my house?” There are no such things as that type of deal anymore. As a matter of fact, my mortgage could be owned by somebody in a foreign country, which makes it hard to renegotiate the note.

So we’re dealing in a difficult environment, to get the word to people there’s help for you to refinance your homes. And so Hank Paulson put together what’s called the Hope Now Alliance to try to bring some reality to the situation, to focus on helping creditworthy people refinance rather than pass a law that will make it harder for the market to adjust. This Hope Now Alliance is made up of investors and service managers and mortgage counselors and lenders. And they set industrywide standards to streamline the process for refinancing and modifying certain mortgages.

Last month Hope Now created a new program called Project Lifeline, which offers some homeowners facing imminent foreclosure a 30-day extension. The whole purpose is to help people stay in their houses. During this time they can work with their lender. And this grace period has made a difference to a lot of folks.

An interesting statistic has just been released: Members of the Alliance report that the number of homeowners working out their mortgages is now rising faster than the number entering foreclosure. The program is beginning to work, it’s beginning to help.

The problem we have is a lot of folks aren’t responding to over a million letters sent out to offer them assistance and mortgage counseling. So one of the tasks we have is to continue to urge our citizens to respond to the help, to pay attention to the notices they get describing how they can find help in refinancing their homes. We’ve got toll-free numbers and Web sites and mailings.

We’ve also taken some other steps that will bring some credibility and confidence to the market. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson is proposing a rule that requires lenders to provide a standard, easy-to-read summary statement explaining the key elements of mortgage agreements.

These mortgage agreements can be pretty frightening. There’s a lot of tiny print. And I don’t know how many people understood they were buying resets or not. But one thing is certain: There needs to be complete transparency. And to the extent that these contracts are too complex, and people made decisions that they just weren’t sure they were making, we need to do something about it. We need better confidence among those who are purchasing loans.

And secondly, Hank Paulson announced new recommendations yesterday to strengthen oversight of the mortgage industry, improve the way the credit ratings are determined for securities and ensure proper risk management at financial institutions.

* * * *

There are some further things we can do, by the way, on the housing market that I call upon Congress to do. Congress did pass a good bill that creates a three-year window for American families to refinance their homes without paying taxes on any debt forgiveness they receive. The tax code creates disincentives for people to refinance their homes, and we took care of that for a three-year period. And they need to move forward with reforms on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They need to continue to modernize the FHA, as well as allow state housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to homeowners to refinance their mortgages.

Congress can also take other steps to help us during a period of uncertainty — and these are uncertain times. A major source of uncertainty is that the tax relief we passed in 2001 and 2003 is set to expire. If Congress doesn’t act, 116 million American households will see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800. If Congress doesn’t act, capital gains and dividends are going to be taxed at a higher rate. If Congress doesn’t make the tax relief permanent, they will create additional uncertainty during uncertain times.

A lot of folks are waiting to see what Congress intends to do. One thing that’s certain that Congress will do is waste some of your money. So I’ve challenged members of Congress to cut the cost of earmarks in half. I issued an executive order that directs federal agencies to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on by the Congress.

* * * *

I sent Congress a budget that meets our priorities. There is no greater priority than to make sure our troops in harm’s way have all they need to do their job. That should be a priority of any president and any Congress.

And beyond that, we’ve held spending at below rates of inflation on nonsecurity spending, discretionary spending; we’ve held the line. We’ve submitted a budget that’s in balance by 2012 — without raising your taxes.

If the Congress truly wants to send a message that will calm people’s nerves, they’ll adopt the budget I submitted and make it clear they’re not going to run up the taxes on the working people, and on small businesses, and on capital gains, and on dividends, and on the estate tax.

* * * *

I believe strongly it’s in our nation’s interest to open up markets for U.S. goods and services. I believe strongly that NAFTA has been positive for the United States of America, like it’s been positive for our trading partners in Mexico and Canada.

I believe it is dangerous for this country to become isolationist and protectionist. I believe it shows a lack of confidence in our capacity to compete. And I know it would harm our economic future if we allow those who believe that walling off America from trade to have their way in Congress.

We expect for Congress to move forward on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. It’s important for our national security interests, and it’s important for our economic interests.

Most Americans don’t understand that most goods and services from Colombia come into the United States duty-free. Most of our goods and services are taxed at about a 35% rate heading into Colombia. Doesn’t it make sense to have our goods and services treated like those from Colombia? I think it does. I think our farmers and ranchers and small-business owners must understand that with the government finding new markets for them, it will help them prosper.

If Congress were to reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, it would send a terrible signal in our own neighborhood; it would bolster the voices of false populism. It would say to young democracies, “America’s word can’t be trusted.” It would be devastating for our national security interests if this United States Congress turns its back on Colombia and a free trade agreement with Colombia. Once they pass the Colombia (pact), they can pass Panama and South Korea as well.

Let me talk about another aspect of keeping markets open. A confident nation accepts capital from overseas. We can protect our people against investments that jeopardize our national security, but it makes no sense to deny capital, including sovereign wealth funds, from access to the U.S. markets. It’s our money to begin with. It seems like we ought to let it back.

* * * *

We’re going to deal with the issues as we see them. We’re not afraid to make decisions. This administration is not afraid to act. We saw a problem coming and we acted quickly, with the help of Democrats and Republicans in the Congress. We’re not afraid to take on issues. But we will do so in a way that respects the ingenuity of the American people, that bolsters the entrepreneurial spirit and that ensures when we make it through this rough patch, our driving is going to be more smooth.

The Monster

Obama’s ‘Church’

Some kind words from Jeremiah Wright, Barack Hussein Obama’s pastor, about America:

Obama’s Jeremiad

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, March 14, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Election 2008: Imagine the uproar if John McCain’s pastor used the “N”-word and asked God to “damn” blacks. Yet Barack Obama’s pastor condemns whites, and liberal pundits bite their lip.

Read More: Election 2008 | Religion

This newspaper was the first to draw attention to Obama’s hate-mongering preacher, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, and his black segregationist church in Chicago.

Our January 2007 editorial, “Obama’s Real Faith,” exposed their preaching of a militantly anti-white and socialist doctrine called the “Black Value System,” triggering a major story in the Chicago Tribune, which led to other stories.

Now comes the leaking of recently videotaped sermons by Wright angrily condemning whites as racists and America as evil. If you close your eyes, you’d swear you were listening to the hateful rantings of uber-bigot Louis Farrakhan.

Like the Nation of Islam minister, Wright feeds his 8,500-member flock, including Obama and his family, legends about whites keeping blacks down by getting them hooked on crack and then locking them up. He even claims whites invented AIDS to destroy blacks.

Obama is not immune to such myths. Until recently, when he was informed it wasn’t true, he repeated a favorite Wright line that “we’ve got more black men in prison than there are in college.”

“The government gives (black men) drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people,” Wright thundered in a 2003 sermon. “God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”

Locked in a Jim Crow time warp, he claims America — which he affectionately calls “the US-KKK-A” — is “controlled by and run by rich white people.” Never mind that institutionalized racism is a distant memory. Or that the most popular candidate in the country right now, according to some polls, is his top acolyte.

In 2006, Wright said from the pulpit: “Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. And. And-and! God! Has got! To be sick! Of this sh*t!”

Wright believes all white men are responsible for the oppression of the past, and until they make atonement, there will be no forgiveness. He takes a sick joy in 9/11 as a much-deserved punishment for America supporting Israel, which he thinks should be targeted for a divestment campaign.

In a sermon to his congregation just five days after the attacks, Wright bellowed: “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

Lest anyone mistake who he felt was to blame for 9/11 and deserved punishment, Wright elaborated in 2005: “White America got a wake-up call after 9/11. White America and the Western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just disappeared as the great white West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns.”

That Obama’s preacher would sound like Farrakhan is no coincidence. The two are old pals. In the ’80s they traveled to Libya together to pay homage to terrorist Muammar Qaddafi. Last November, Wright honored Farrakhan with a “lifetime achievement” award and featured him on the cover of his church magazine, Trumpet.

Obama has never directly repudiated his pastor’s praise for Farrakhan: “I assume that Trumpet magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders.”

This is disingenuous by half. The magazine is produced by Wright’s church and published by his daughters. Second, the article never mentions Farrakhan’s work with ex-cons.

Obama’s campaign also issued a lukewarm denunciation of Wright’s leaked sermons, saying only that “there are things he says with which Sen. Obama deeply disagrees.” Like what? We don’t know. Has he ever walked out of a sermon in disgust? We don’t know. But we need to know, and voters deserve to know. Now.


Islamic Mein Kampf

After watching this I’m speechless.