Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Iran-America dialog continues

Texas Rainmaker has written an appropriately thorough response to Iranian "President" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to the American people (via Michelle Malkin), so I don't have to.

Powerline points out the Democratic talking points in the Iranian leader's letter.

Kenneth Timmerman (via Gateway Pundit) sums up Mr. Admadinejad's letter succinctly for those with little extra time on their hands:

Dump Bush, allow the Muslims to destroy Israel, and adopt Islam — or else you will be destroyed. This is Ahmadinejad’s message.

Meanwhile, Raymond Ibrahim gives some background context for a Muslim leader to be sending such a message (also sent by Osama bin Laden), and which has been an Islamic mainstay since the Prophet Muhammed's days:

It is in this context of war and rumors of wars that bin Laden’s oft-quoted proverb — “Peace to whoever follows guidance” — was first made. Addressing the Christian emperor, Heraclius, Muhammad sent the following terse message in the year 628:

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Heraclius, the Roman emperor. Peace to whoever follows guidance. To the point: Embrace Islam and you shall have peace [al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Rusul wa’l-Muluk 8:104-105].

In Arabic, “Embrace Islam and you shall have peace” is simply a two-word pun: Aslam taslam, which most literally means “Submit, have peace.” In fact, perpetual warfare — that is, jihad — has been the true legacy of Muhammad’s ominous missive to the Christian emperor. After Heraclius refused to submit to Islam, an infinite barrage of jihad campaigns erupted, for centuries, until Constantinople, the seat of Christendom, was finally conquered by and incorporated into the Abode of Islam in 1453....

A fundamental tenet of Islam is that jihad must persevere until the entire globe is either converted to or at least governed by Islam. When the “Abode of War,” the non-Islamic world, has been subsumed into the “Abode of Peace,” then and only then will there be peace....

Thus, bin Laden [and Ahmadinejad] satisfies both diametrically opposed audiences: the liberal West, which honors peace and cultural sensitivity, and therefore seeks the best interpretation of his apparently prudent “guidance” — live and let live — and the Islamists, for using the same uncompromising approach the Muslim prophet did whenever he called upon infidels to submit or else.

There is a connection between the Iranian "president's" message and the Prophet Muhammed's "invitation" for infidels and polytheists (which includes pagans, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, Jews, and Christians, considered by Muslims to be polytheists for believing in the Trinity) to either convert to Islam, become a dhimmi and pay the infidel tax, or die. Anyone, especially any American, and most especially any American elected official, who doesn't see this connection needs to learn more about what's going on here and what Mr. Ahmadinejad is really doing.

Try these sources:

The Truth About Muhammad Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion by Robert Spencer

Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War on America by Kenneth Timmerman

American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us by Steven Emerson

The Trouble With Islam: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith by Irshad Manji

Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America by Brigitte Gabriel

Why I Am Not a Muslim by Ibn Warraq

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My helpful hint to college presidents: thugs on campus should be expelled

Who should be more ashamed for their actions--the bullying students, or the chicken administrators?

Instapundit links to a disturbing summary of recent student thuggery: "Mob Rule on College Campuses" by Cinnamon Stillwell, which starts out with this:

While academia has its own crimes to atone for, it's the students who have become the bullies as of late. A disturbing number seem to feel that theirs is an inviolate world to which no one of differing opinion need apply. As a result, everything from pie throwing to disrupting speeches to attacks on speakers has become commonplace....

Conservative speakers have long been the targets of such illiberal treatment. The violent reception given to Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, an anti-illegal immigration group, at Columbia University in October is a recent example. Gilchrist had been invited to speak by the Columbia University College Republicans, but was prevented from doing so by an unruly mob of students. What could have been mere heckling descended into yelling, screaming, kicking and punching, culminating in the rushing of the stage and Gilchrist being shuttled off by security.

The fact that the rioting students could be heard yelling, "He has no right to speak!" was telling. Apparently, in their minds, neither Gilchrist nor anyone else with whom they disagree has a right to express their viewpoints. In any other setting this would be called exactly what it is -- totalitarianism. But in the untouchable Ivy League world of Columbia, it was chalked up to student activism gone awry. While condemning the incident, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger has yet to apologize to Gilchrist or to conclude the supposed investigation into the affair. In other words, mob rule won the day....

She describes a number of other recent incidents, and points out that along with conservative speakers, courageous critics of radical Islam are also coming under fire by such campus thugs, who do not scruple to physically try to silence--silence!--free speech they themselves don't approve of. Such moral and intellectual bullying brings to mind the old blue-nosed New England Puritans, except for the very odd contradiction in terms going on with the current finger-wagging squelchers:

It's a sad state of affairs indeed when the figures of moderation and reform that many who call themselves liberal or progressive should in theory support are instead shunned in the name of political correctness. For how can one expect to promote progress while helping to stifle the voices at its heart?

How can these assaultive students remain at large, and how can such incidents of threat and anti-intellectual would-be censorship and intimidation continue to happen? How can college administrators be so craven and unprincipled as to let members of these mobs get away with such thuggish behavior--in effect, endorsing it?

Parents of prospective students are watching, and we will not forget. We who believe in wide-ranging yet civil intellectual discourse and free speech for all, especially in the realm of higher learning, are taking note of which college campuses allow such thuggery to go unpunished (and hence, encouraged). Administrators who pander to this behavior will find there are consequences to allowing a campus culture to grow that appeases and ignores bullies.

My advice to prospective students: if you venerate free inquiry and are looking for exposure to a wide range of topics and ideas during your college years, and expect to participate in reasoned discourse in the exchange of views, then stay away from campuses where politically-correct mobs are allowed to shout down or shut down speakers (or anybody else) with impunity. Such places will end up granting you a distinctly inferior education along with the stimulating but empty thrills of such fashionable street theater.

UPDATE: Mob disruption at Michigan State (via Michelle Malkin).

Shop now, blog later

Sorry I haven't been blogging much recently; the holidays have hit and I have more mundane things to get done. Today I am heading out to do some Christmas shopping so I can get packages mailed off to distant lands in time for Christmas. Then must take my son for his consultation with the oral surgeon, as he's getting his four wisdom teeth extracted over Christmas break. Humdrum daily chores that must be done. I enjoy this kind of day, though. Hope you will also enjoy yours.

Back when I have the time.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

John Edwards: hypocrite, anti-capitalist--and bad parent?

There's an excellent update on the John Edwards-Wal-Mart flap at Betsy's Page, where she highlights the inimitable James Lileks writing (hilariously and accurately) about this whole recent episode:

While ordinary working-class people across America were queuing for the new PlayStation 3, one fellow had a bright idea — dropping his boss's name at Wal-Mart to get the next-gen console sent over on the QT for the boss's family.

Unfortunately, the boss was former Sen. John Edwards, John Kerry's would-be veep and famous nemesis of Wal-Mart's evil dominion over the Earth. The hypocrisy was delicious: It was on the same day Edwards was talking to union activists about Wal-Mart's labor policies. But it didn't work. The staffer was lucky Wal-Mart didn't send an empty box weighted with rocks. Merry Christmas!...

But that's not the interesting part of the story. Nor is the fact that the person who made the call was a volunteer — you mean Edwards doesn't pay his staffers a living wage with full medical/dental and a $200 deductible for eyeglasses? Must have been a hangup in the paperwork. No, the telling part was in Edwards' conference call statement to the union activists. Said the AP story:

"Edwards ... repeated a story about his son Jack disapproving of a classmate buying sneakers at Wal-Mart.

"`If a 6-year-old can figure it out, America can definitely figure this out,' Edwards said."

Aw, isn't that cute.

This whole episode arouses my curmudgeonly ire on so many levels. First, of course, for the usual mindlessly ignorant Democrat attack on capitalism and freedom, coupled with the now-fashionable elitist scorn of lower-income Americans choosing to exercise their rights to same and disagree with John Edwards.

But the icing on the cake is Edwards teaching his six-year-old son to pick on his "lower-class" classmates in elementary school for their brand of sneakers. In my neighborhood, we call this bullying. We call it "not minding your own darn business." No matter how "politely" a child might have "reminded the person that Wal-Mart doesn't treat its workers fairly," which is a highly debatable subject more suitable for adult discussion, this episode is still classified, in my book, as a child (six-years-old!) indoctrinated by his parents into thinking it is perfectly okay to inject his parents' moralizing and demeaning leftist political views into the faces of his obviously benighted fellow classmates.

Lileks has the perfect summary:

Young Master Jack needs better manners. It's possible the kid didn't have access to a Bruno Magli outlet store, and his folks shopped at Wal-Mart because it fit their budget — in which case being lectured by the scion of a millionaire trial lawyer is a little like scolding classmates for drinking Tang instead of having Alfred hand-squeeze a dozen Valencias.

But never mind that. What the story reveals, in the end, is the tiresome fashion in which our betters insist on politicizing not just every aspect of adult life, but every detail of their children's world.

Everything is fraught with fashionable morality. Reasonable stewardship of the world turns into solemn denunciations of people who don't recycle; reasonable lessons on staying healthy end up stigmatizing people who enjoy a puff or a snoot as ethical degenerates. Daddy, look! That lady is SMOKING! She's causing an undue burden on an already strained health care system! Avert your eyes, my child. G-d will punish her.

You could say that if a 6-year-old can figure it out, then the concept has been presented so simplistically it lacks a real-world application. But that doesn't matter; what counts is the satisfied glow of a right-thinking parent when the Young Pioneer chants back the party line.

If Edwards is really smart--and I mean not just politically savvy, but truly smart enough to use this well-deserved public embarrassment as a wake-up call to examine his values as a human and a parent--he will quickly understand that teaching his child to ape his own elitist, anti-capitalist attitudes and actions--and then bragging about it to score political points--is an injustice to both his fellow Americans and his own son.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The parade that wasn't

Liveblogging the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade....

9:00 a.m.

Having gotten the turkey stuffed and into the oven and having fed my kids breakfast bright and early, my daughter, my mother, and I sat down to watch the Macy's parade coming live to us from New York City. My daughter was so excited, expecting to see big balloons of cartoon characters she recognized and liked. I was ready to see some high school marching bands, those curious and perennial Mummers, and other traditional figures. It was the 80th Macy's parade--what a tradition!--born just a year before my own mother. I had been watching it all my life.

We saw a few fleeting glimpses of marchers and balloons....then....a long string of other stuff. Non-parade stuff. Interviews with casts from new television shows we don't know and don't watch (while the parade passed in the background). Musical acts performed on a stage evidently nowhere near the parade. A male singer performing on a street corner somewhere (only taxis passing). Some male group singing and dancing from a pier in Hoboken, New Jersey. Martin Short in a helicopter flying over New York. Everybody lip-synching and dancing, but no parade.

Well, maybe there was a parade there behind the logo, just before the commercial breaks. Which high school bands were we missing?

We kept switching between NBC and CBS to avoid the innumerable commercial breaks and self-congratulatory anchorperson patter (none of us recognized any of these people, since we don't hang on television 24 hours a day). All we could find were stationery acts and interviews of "celebrities" we didn't recognize or care about. It got to be a joke, as the minutes dragged out and everything new that came on was definitely NOT the parade.


My daughter begs me to come back as I leave to go liveblog my disgruntlement about the current TV coverage of the parade that wasn't. When I hear her yell for me to come back and see the Snoopy balloon at last, I comply, come running, in fact--and catch a final glimpse of some huge bobbing thing behind the big Macy's logo before it cut to a commercial. What a crock.


My daughter, the die-hard parade-lover, gives up and goes outside to play.

80 years of a U.S. tradition sunk in the tank. So long, Macy's. So long NBC and CBS, you self-congratulatory dinosaurs. How long do you think you can keep abusing your audiences before they find better ways to spend their holidays with their families?

Or maybe it's just me and my own family that are the dinosaurs. Probably so, but that doesn't bother me. I just miss the former happy tradition now overstuffed with commercialism. Not appealing as it's packaged today. What irks me is they took the fun out of the Thanksgiving parade for the kids. I'm not sure who they are trying to appeal to, but they didn't appeal to any of our three generations.

UPDATE: My Dreamboat said I was being too harsh on the parade. I called my kids back in later and we watched the last 15 minutes of the show, from 11:45 to noon. Around lots of commercials and flying logos and promos, we did see a fireman balloon, the Pillsbury Doughboy float, a college marching band, Santa Claus's impressive reindeer and float, and a few shots of ordinary people on the streets, looking wet and happy. Okay, I guess there was some traditional parade fun there. My mistake was in thinking you sit down and watch the darn thing, instead of just keeping it on in the background as traditional holiday noise.

Next year I'd love to see the parade as covered by C-SPAN!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Off for Thanksgiving

In case you haven't already guessed it, I have put aside blogging during the Thanksgiving holidays (which, for the cook and hostess, started yesterday). See you next week, and in the meantime, I wish all a very happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Our civilian attitude toward our military

I've been following the latest story of "anti-military bigotry" displayed, this time, by the San Francisco Board of Education (via Instapundit and Michelle Malkin), which voted last week to abolish the Junior ROTC program from the San Francisco high schools. I was just about knocked over by this quote from one of the anti-ROTC activists:

"We don't want the military ruining our civilian institutions," said Sandra Schwartz of the American Friends Service Committee, a far-left pacifist organization that routinely condemns American foreign policy and opposes JROTC nationwide. "In a healthy democracy . . . you contain the military."

Those on the left are often ambivalent, if not schizophrenic about the military (or perhaps Rangel is just being--gasp!--disingenuous). But so many of the anti-war activists on the left seem to agree that anything military should be banned from all of our schools. When it comes to the subject of war or the military, these activists seem to feel their ideas should be tyrannically imposed upon all and alternative views should be squelched.

But then, facts tend not to matter to smug ideologues like Schwartz and Kelly, who are free to parade their contempt for the military because they live in a nation that affords such freedom even to idiots and ingrates. It never seems to occur to them that the liberties and security they take for granted would vanish in a heartbeat if it weren't for the young men and women who do choose to wear the uniform, willingly risking life and limb in service to their country.

Interestingly, this dichotomy of views seems to be no new trend, but is a long American tradition. Yesterday I came across old newspaper coverage of the 1923 dedication of the newly-constructed Memorial Hall in Salina, Kansas (of all USA-heartland places) and was fascinated to read that evening's speech delivered by Frank McFarland, department commander of the American Legion from Topeka:

It is a wonderful thing to build a memorial and an inspirational thing to build a military memorial. In this building is commemorated all the good that comes out of war. There is bad in every war—many things which we would like to forget—and yet there are lots of good things which we must not forget.

In stone and steel and cement you have written here the best that is in American history; you have written a history that all who come may read. You have erected a living memorial that all men who pass may be reminded of the cost of war, of the responsibilities of good citizenship. It will not do for us to forget what our government has cost us and it will not do to forget the duties of citizenship. We have had a great many forgetters, the profiteer who fattened at home, the slackers who perpetrated a fraud on their conscience, the women who considered the war an irritating thing that interfered with social pleasures and the pacifists who made the conscientious objectors and the tramps seem like heros.

There are people who say now that the American Legion is fostering war and teaching the children to look forward to another conflict. That is not true. The American Legion wants this nation to do all that is honorable to keep out of war and yet it teaches its children ‘If your nation does go to war, you go with it.’ If we forget this war, another will be easy. It is only by remembering the horrors and cost of the wars gone by that another one can be averted....

The call of war time is the call to arms. The call of peace times is in service. The American Legion is trying to serve, through this era of peace. The meeting place of democracy today is the meeting place of halls where former service men, from any war, meet. There men meet as man to man, without distinction of class or rating. They meet as they met on the battlefield, every man rubbing elbows, and the only test a man’s real worth. To forget war is to forget the lesson of democracy, for that is where it is taught....
[my bold]

It strikes me that Sandra Schwartz's assertion that "in a healthy democracy you contain the military" is a totally misguided and wrong understanding of the nature of both our democracy and of our military (she is probably thinking of your typical third-world tinpot dictator's military). In this country we are not divided between the "citizens" and the "military." We citizens are the military, and vice versa. Rather, in a healthy democracy, it is the people themselves who make up, govern, guide, and support the military (excepting, of course, people like Sandra Schwartz). The volunteer military, such as we have now, is the ultimate expression of a healthy democracy's self-protective arm.

All of us need to acknowledge the job our military does for us, and the necessity for it. To think we can possibly abolish war by abolishing our soldiers is more than wrong--it's insane.

We American citizens need to step up to the plate and remember and honor our military and even our wars and the lessons we learned in fighting them, and the costs they and we as a country have paid. We do not need to, and should not, sweep under any "politically correct" carpets our history, our current obligations as citizens, or alternative choices on campuses for our young people.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday's grab-bag of links

Apropos of nothing more than having read this with great satisfaction, I give you Roger L. Simon, mystery novelist and Hollywood screenwriter, letting out with an uncharacteristically untrammeled rant:

The last few days ... the reincarnation of Trent Lott, the rise of Murtha, etc., etc. ... have cemented in my mind that anyone who has the remotest confidence in either of our major political parties has cement for brains. Forget the best and the brightest. The leadership of both parties is dominated by an almost willfully constructed collection of the dull, talentless and (often enough) corrupt. Most would be eminently unqualified for a real job that required serious education and, especially, creativity and original thought. Many aren't even good at public speaking and communicatiing - that baseline second mother's milk of politics. And here we are at one of the most critical passes in human history with a passel of Third World countries ruled by despots and religious fanatics about to obtain nuclear weapons (if they don't have them already).

The big secret about the last election is that it didn't matter who won - both sides stink. I'm serious. Our system is broken given the quality of leaders we have developed. Make fun of third parties, if you will, and tell me they never work, etc., etc., but then tell me, if you will, with a straight face, that the Democratic or Republican parties are doing a job worth preserving.

Well said. That felt good, didn't it?

Meanwhile, Betsy' Page highlights the elitist hypocrisy of Presidential wannabe John Edwards for slamming Wal-Mart with one hand while the other sends his minions to go shopping (and line-jumping?) there, and sums up the embarrassing story with this bon mot:

Perhaps Edwards should get his preternaturally political six-year old son to explain to the staff volunteer why getting a lower price for consumers is so very, very bad for America.

Meow! Face the music and answer the question, John: why is Wal-Mart a bad place for ordinary schlubs (mocked by even your six-year-old) to buy kids' sneakers, but a fine place for you to send your minions to buy your latest pricey electronic toys for you?

I love it. Smart move on Wal-Mart's part to generate a press release, too. They have been more than sufficiently provoked by elitist-liberal baiting, progressive rhetoric, and political harrassment on the part of unions and those leftists and leaders who pander to them.

Finally, via the Drudge Report, a behavioral economist writes a new book that claims data proves conservatives give more to charity than other groups do:

When it comes to helping the needy, Brooks writes: "For too long, liberals have been claiming they are the most virtuous members of American society. Although they usually give less to charity, they have nevertheless lambasted conservatives for their callousness in the face of social injustice."

For the record, Brooks, 42, has been registered in the past as a Democrat, then a Republican, but now lists himself as independent, explaining, "I have no comfortable political home."...

The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don't provide them with enough money....

"These are not the sort of conclusions I ever thought I would reach when I started looking at charitable giving in graduate school, 10 years ago," he writes in the introduction. "I have to admit I probably would have hated what I have to say in this book."

Still, he says it forcefully, pointing out that liberals give less than conservatives in every way imaginable, including volunteer hours and donated blood.

So, if you are stuck on a desert island and can only have two or three things with you, better make one of those things a conservative.

And, a note to our country: to grow charity, justice, and freedom for all--grow and nurture more conservatives (you know, those strange people who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution).

Added bonus: Captain Capitalism debunks the "stinginess" of Americans.

Have a good weekend!

Milton Friedman - a fond and sad farewell

What will we--and the world--now do without him? obituary (via Instapundit).

Hoover Institution press release.

A statement from the Friedman Foundation.

Powerline does a round-up.

The Chicago Boyz have a tribute up.

Books and videos available from Idea Channel.

Milton Friedman on YouTube.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The media IS slanted; so deal with it

Michelle Malkin features two items illustrating yet again the slanted nature of the "mainstream media" in the U.S.

One is "Open Borders Consequences, continued," wherein she examines the untold story of how illegal immigration is hurting our country, and quotes John Andrews of the Rocky Mountain News who wonders "Whatever happened to investigative journalism?" He asks reasonable, important questions the kind of which we have been wondering about too (and not just pertaining to illegal immigration):

What percentage of arrests for DUI offenses in 2005 were illegal aliens? Recall that Justin Goodman of Thornton was killed in 2004 on his motorcycle by an illegal alien driver who had six prior DUI and other driving violations in Boulder and Adams counties. The man had never been referred to ICE for deportation.

Does the Denver city attorney's standing policy of not asking questions in court about the legitimacy of Mexican driver's licenses presented by defendants have any consequences for the law-abiding citizens of Denver? Recall that the man who killed police officer Donnie Young had used an invalid Mexican driver's license to avoid jail in Denver municipal court only three weeks before the slaying.

Why is it that a full year after the Colorado attorney general stated that one- quarter of Colorado's outstanding fugitive homicide warrants are for people who have fled to Mexico, no newspaper has asked how many of the individuals named in the warrants were illegal aliens with prior arrests? (In Los Angeles County, there are more than 400 such fugitive warrants.)

How are sanctuary cities like Durango, Boulder and Denver responding to SB 90, the new state law passed in 2006 to outlaw sanctuary cities? What is ICE doing to respond to SB 90?

If Denver received federal reimbursement for the incarceration of more than 1,100 illegal aliens in 2004, why were only 175 deported when they finished their terms? What subsequent crimes did the other 925 criminal aliens commit?

So many of us have been asking, where ARE the investigative reporters? Why is no one doing this job? Is nobody being educated in journalism school anymore? Certainly good, fair, thorough journalists are no longer seemingly employed en masse at the nation's newspapers, where declining circulation numbers reveal a disappointed, turned-off readership. Journalists as a whole are no longer doing their traditional jobs. They are, as a group, as John Andrews calls them, "lazy journalistic watchdogs"--

Think of how newspapers cover every other major policy issue--the war, abortion, health care, homeland security, racial discrimination, you name it. They have no problem taking one "anecdote" and using it to illustrate what they see as systemic failures. They have no problem sensationalizing individual cases of "undocumented workers" and their families. But point out a crime victim of an illegal alien? All of sudden, the journalism-by-anecdote school can't accept such "emotional" and "ideological" story-telling.

The second item, "Garbage in, Garbage out," describes how editors at two major U.S. magazines reworded a Middle East photographer's photo caption to reflect an anti-Israel stance:

His photograph, published by both US News and World Report and Time Magazine, had a caption describing the scene as the wreckage of an Israeli jet shot down by Hizballah. In this post, Stevens reveals that the captions he sent in with his pictures described the scene accurately—but editors at the magazines changed the captions to completely alter the story.

Meanwhile, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web also highlights how the Associated Press slants its news coverage to the point of lying by omission:

AP: We Have No Honesty

The Associated Press reports on a new legal filing in a case involving America's terrorist enemies:

The Bush administration said Monday that Guantanamo Bay prisoners have no right to challenge their detentions in civilian courts and that lawsuits by hundreds of detainees should be dismissed. . . .

"Congress could have simply withdrawn jurisdiction over these matters and left the decision of whether to detain enemy aliens held abroad to the military," the Justice Department wrote.

Instead, Congress set up a military commission structure establishing "unprecedented" levels of review for detainees, the attorneys wrote.

So according to the story, the administration is arguing that while the detainees don't have the right to file civil lawsuits, they do have procedural protections if tried before military commissions. In addition--although the AP does not mention this--all detainees receive an "Article 5" hearing to review their designation as enemy combatants, and each year they go before an Administrative Review Board, the equivalent of a parole hearing, to determine if they can be released without threatening U.S. security.

All these procedural protections notwithstanding, the AP headlines its story "Administration: Detainees Have No Rights."

All right, folks, it's a new world out there. Bloggers, conservatives, and the right in general now know a few things about the world that we didn't know before 9/11--besides the fact that we're in a war and Islamic jihadis are trying to kill us. One is that France is not our friend or ally. Another is that the United Nations is a corrupt sinkhole not to be counted on for anything. Another is that our nation's borders are wide open to massive illegal immigration and at this point, five years after 9/11, still show no serious hope of ever being secured by the Federal government. And another fact about the post-9/11 world that we now recognize is that the vast majority of the mainstream media, both in the U.S. and around the world, is hopelessly and irrefutably slanted toward the left, and would seem to habitually incorporate more than a soupçon of anti-American (and anti-Israeli) bias.

The time to lament, be outraged, and point fingers is ending. The time to accept these facts as true, incorporate them into our lives, and move on, is upon us.

Any plan or policy made by individual or groups of conservatives in their private or public lives from here on forward should take these facts in account as givens.

Accept the truth and move on.

Don't subscribe to or support biased, poorly edited newspapers or magazines. Don't expect a fair shake from the media (or from France, or from the U.N.).

Plan accordingly. Deal with it. Deal around it.

Use some of that famous Yankee knowhow and free-market ingenuity and be creative.

On the other hand, it never hurts to keep saying the obvious for the benefit of the new generation of kids coming up.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stay or go (Iraq)--maybe we should just make a list of pros and cons or toss a coin

Betsy echoes my sentiment of dread about the Democrats steering a rapid withdrawal policy in Iraq:

Don't they understand what this will do Iraq? All the terrorists have to do is hold out for a few months and then they know they will have won. Their policy of killing enough people there until the United States will have been validated. And the template will be established for any group that wants to take on the United States in the future. We will have proven that we are indeed the weak horse that Osama Bin Laden termed us.

Iraq will descend into anarchy and become the launching pad for terrorism to undermine our allies throughout the region from Afghanistan to Jordan to Turkey to Israel. And it will be just a hop, skip, and a jump from there to the rest of Asia and Europe. And we know the oceans won't protect us from such terrorism....

I hope all the experts working on this problem come up with a better solution than a replay of our abandoning the South Vietnamese to the Communists.

Meanwhile, James McConalogue offers a viewpoint on why the U.S. Democrats are wrong about Iraq and why the British should not be listening to them:

In February 2003, I participated in a massive anti-war demonstration in London because I did not believe a democratic government could be installed in Iraq. The Anglo-American forces did not seem to understand the proper conditions on which they could rest a modern Western government. Today, however, Britain should not follow the dishonourable turncoats in the American Democratic Party and in the British press advocating a sudden exit from Iraq....

...Following the dishonourable politics plighting the Democratic agenda in the US, it should remain clear that no counterpart critique or inquiry should arise in Britain. The reason why the US Democrats do not need to think twice about the Iraq turnaround is that they have no intrinsic sense of honour – for them, transparency and accountability is enough. Turncoats! They offer, as the basis of their agenda and goldfish-minded approach, a very different history on the origins of the Iraq war – openly swearing that the US and Britain went to war precisely and only because of the presence of WMD....

Meanwhile, Victor Davis Hanson makes a few apt comments about the return of Realpolitik.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Two wildly divergent views on Iraq

Even as President Bush and the outgoing Donald Rumsfeld seem to agree that the situation in Iraq could benefit from "fresh eyes," I have recently read two wildly divergent views on what the U.S. should be doing in Iraq from here forward. Both are thought-provoking arguments:

"Doubling Down in Iraq" (at the Weekly Standard, via Instapundit) argues for renewed dedication to topple our weaker enemies' hopes and will to fight, as Abraham Lincoln displayed to the Confederates in 1964:

Make sure the other side knows that our capacity to give and take punishment immeasurably exceeds their capacity to absorb and inflict it.

The difficulties the Army has experienced in Iraq are due, in large measure, to the fact that the Defense Department forgot this historical lesson. Donald Rumsfeld tried to run a businesslike war. But warfare is not business; it is not fought at the margin. By striving to do just enough to win, we have done too little. The right strategy is to do too much.

(But practically speaking, try telling that to the Democrats in Congress....)

Meanwhile, Hugh Fitzgerald at JihadWatch has a unique proposal for America winning the larger global war against Islamic jihadists by immediately pulling the U.S. out of Iraq and letting the warring Muslim factions there kill each other off:

And as the American squandering of resources -- men, money, materiel -- is replaced almost overnight by a situation in which the squandering of resources is that of Muslim states and peoples whose money, men, and materiel are now being used up, the shrill voices expressing delight over "the defeat of America" will grow fainter....

...and as the unstated American goal becomes, it is clear, no longer that messianic foolishness about making Muslim states happy and prosperous, but rather working to exploit the natural fissures -- ethnic and sectarian that are most obvious in, though hardly limited to, Iraq -- all sense of triumph over America, of having defeated America, will fade....
The spectacle of internecine warfare not only promises to divide and demoralize the Camp of Islam. No, it will also serve as a Demonstration Project to Infidels. Let them see how, without well-meaning Infidels to bring aid of all kinds and to keep the peace and to prevent one side or the other from behaving with their wonted barbarity (just read the reports of the corpses found murdered by Shi'a or Sunni militias or insurgents or irregulars or, for that matter, by members of regular army and police units), Muslims treat each other....

Who do you think is right? Do you think an American withdrawal will be a victory for Islam, or do you think an American withdrawal will not only conserve our reserves, preserve or halt the degradation in the quality of our armed forces just in time, and help to divide and demoralize the camp of Islam and Jihad?

Read the comments, too, which bring up related issues and regional and political concerns.

I admit there is something persuasive (perhaps the comfort of wishful thinking) about this realpolitik argument, even though I doubt any such Demonstration Project will ever get through the thick skulls of many infidels, who have managed to ignore many previous global demonstration projects. Yet I don't know enough about the dynamics of the Middle East to say if pulling out of Iraq for those reasons (or any reasons, before the country is "stablized" and "free") would be a net good thing or a dreadful mistake.

I fear the ramifications for the future if we reneg yet again on our pledges to help the Iraqi people attain self-determination (as the Shia Muslims and Kurds of Iraq were double-crossed by Bush I after the Gulf War). I do know the Muslims of Iraq are not monolithic nor even neatly divided by sects into all bad guys vs. bad guys. I would hate to see the Iraqis who have welcomed their American liberators and worked so hard and risked so much alongside us to be abandoned to anarchy and sectarian violence by jihadist mobs. Fitzgerald advocates a cold, calculated, strategic proposal that would doom our allies inside Iraq. (As well as "prove" Osama bin Laden's case that America is "weak," thereby encouraging more jihadis to attack, plus making the anti-war far left extremely happy.)

But if indeed we are in a war, how many American lives do we owe Iraq in general and our friends there specifically before the equation turns unfruitful for our own country? This is the crux of the problem, and perhaps unknowable.

Previously, I have believed (along with many of our troops and the nation's conservatives) that our fighting in Iraq is in our self-interest because the war against murdreous jihad is taken there, instead of inside our own country's borders. Is this a valid or a mistaken belief? Certainly free societies are better off and less inclined to wage war on their neighbors or around the globe, as President Bush has said. But is our war in Iraq to help make possible a free society going to succeed, and is it really draining a swamp or not? I had thought so but certainly it is never the wrong time for an evaluation by fresh eyes.

Perhaps the best thing to come out of the recent election is that we can now have a real public discussion about our goals and our actual success in Iraq (too bad we couldn't have had it earlier). Regardless of who is to blame for the slow progress and setbacks, can we now find ways for us to do better in Iraq?

Thinking back to Lincoln: How many American lives did we owe the black slaves to free them? A lot, it turned out. Lincoln felt the horrible loss of American lives in our Civil War, but he led by focusing on victory, because the implications of defeat would be too dreadful to bear. We were not just fighting for the freedom of slaves, but also for principles of union and the survival of the United States, just as we are fighting for principles and our nation's survival in Iraq. We are fighting for what we believe to be our self-interest in many ways, along with that of the Iraqis. How are we to weigh what that is worth?

Are we doing it right? Are we doing it as intelligently as possible, as wholeheartedly as possible? Are we doing it for reasons that are true? Should we continue to do it, redouble our efforts? Should we define a victory as leaving a stable, democractically elected government behind, even if it is based on Islamic law (that will necessarily subject women and others to second-class status)?

Cathy Young at Reason Magazine Online mentions Hugh Fitzgerald and JihadWatch as she tries to sort out some of our American views on Islam ("When Does Criticism of Islam Devolve into Bigotry?")

And Ralph Peters at U.S.A. Today writes a very defeatist editorial saying we have already lost in Iraq and says, as Fitzgerald advocates, that we should pull out.

All I can say for sure right now is that I think we do need all the "fresh eyes" and smart people of good will--educated, bright, informed, and interested above all in the best welfare of our country--from all areas, contributing to the best solutions we can get. I hope the Bush administration is placing enough emphasis on that, and on winning this war. I hope the newly elected Democrats will drop their partisanship, get serious, and step up to the plate for the overall good of our country. I hope all of our leaders will do what it takes to follow the wisest course for the love of our country first, for our troops secondly, and, thirdly, for the sake of the peaceloving, freedom-seeking Iraqis.

A majority of the provinces in Iraq are stable. And I for one have not forgotten and never will forget those lines of Iraqis queueing to vote in the face of threatened violence, and holding up their purple fingers. If America stands for anything, she should be proud to stand for and with them. As they should be proud to stand with America.

I, too, would like to see an Iraqi referendum on whether they want American troops in their country to stay or go. I think most Amercans would like to know the results of that election.

Bonus: The view of our elections by a long-time Iraqi blogger and friend of democracy.

UPDATE: I'm not the only one thinking about these lines. At least I'm in good company.

What to do if your local imam starts to preach hate

My reading has further opened my eyes to the fact that Saudi-financed radical Wahhabi Islam is currently being preached and pushed in mosques, Islamic centers and schools (including, creepingly, even in some public schools), and in the general colleges and universities in many ordinary communities within the United States. These institutions, teachers, community leaders, spokesmen, and imams are directly targeting the very young and impressionable, but they also account for some of the upswing in increasingly militant and fundamentalist views among adult Muslims in the U.S. as well.

The foremost aim of the Wahhabis is first, to impose the conformity of a single voice on Muslims (by theological, emotional, or physical intimidation of those believers who do not conform), and then to spread jihad to all people on earth by either conversion, subjugation (the state of dhimmitude), or the sword. Saudi-financed Middle Eastern Studies professors and programs are what's responsible for the puzzling rise in the number of virulent anti-Semitic, militant pro-Palestinian agitators on our nation's campuses in the past several years (happily joined by the traditional dupes and campus lefties who share the radical Muslims' hatred for "Amerikka").

The Muslim Brotherhood (affiliated with Hamas, its arm in the U.S. is called the Muslim American Society) is also involved in this goal of fundamentalist, militant jihad (and its name keeps cropping up around the U.S. in various incidents) in what can be viewed as an overall, deliberate "master plan":

Equally troubling is the ideology that lies behind the plan: inciting hatred and violence against Jewish populations around the world; the deliberate co-opting and subversion of Western public and private institutions; its recommendation of a policy of deliberate escalating confrontation by Muslims living in the West against their neighbors and fellow-citizens; the acceptance of terrorism as a legitimate option for achieving their ends and the inevitable reality of jihad against non-Muslims; and its ultimate goal of forcibly instituting the Islamic rule of the caliphate by shari’a in the West, and eventually the whole world.

This sounds incredible to snoozing Western ears, I know, like some loopy Roger Corman horror movie, or some nightmarish conspiracy theory you just want to wake up from. But though 9/11 had plenty of horror, it was no theory and it was no dream.

My research since 9/11 has led me to the point where I'm beginning to see, by a preponderance of the evidence now being marshalled and available to all, that the enemy is indeed among us and working actively and effectively to end our democracy and freedoms (freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of human rights--especially for all women).

What to do? First, educate yourself and others.

Non-Muslims: Become aware of who and where the Muslims are in your community; don't treat them as if they are invisible. Find out more about them and reach out to them, inviting them to feel they are a part of your community (or find out if they reject this). But stand up against "the Islamification of America." Support those who are speaking out the truth about radical Islam.

And if you are a Muslim in the U.S. and your imam starts preaching to you or your children hate and discrimination against your neighbors, or the Jews, the Christians, the country and the government that is sheltering you, stand up with the rest of your local umma for your beliefs in Islam as a loving and peaceful religion (if that is true) and send him back to where he came from.

Then call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI. Or send in an anonymous tip by email (you do not need to give your name, address, or other identifying information).

Peace-loving Muslims who believe their faith requires them to live honestly with their neighbors according to the Golden Rule have as much to lose from the advance of the militant and subversive jihadis and the "Islamification of America" as the rest of America's non-Muslim citizens do.

Read more:

Dissemination of hate propaganda in America by the government of Saudi Arabia

A madrassah in Bridgeview, Illinois

Jihad in Small-Town America

California schoolchildren forced to "convert" to Islam thanks to Clinton's school guidelines

Muslim polygamy in Dearborn, Michigan

The attempts to insert Islamic law into U.S. law

Islamic hip-hop artists turning young Muslims against the West

Pelosi, Conyers, and the Muslim caucus

Radical Muslims converting Americans in jails and prisons

'Try to have your own Muslim ghetto'

John Quincy Adams knew jihad

Friday, November 10, 2006

Make a donation for Veterans' Day

Project Valour IT (a Soldier's Angels Program) provides voice-activated laptop computers for our injured troops. I made my donation in time for Veterans' Day. You too can add your tax-deductible donation to help put them over the top: click here.

100% of your donation to Project Valour-IT will be used to purchase and ship the laptops that will provide independence and freedom to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.

You can join Powerline, Michelle Malkin, and many others in showing support of our veterans, this worthy project, and Soldier's Angels ("May no soldier go unloved")-- all in time for Veteran's Day.

Links for the weekend

Some more post-election thoughts:

Victor Davis Hanson says it may be time to rethink our assumptions about illegal immigration:

...The evidence suggests that massive illegal immigration causes as much upheaval inside Mexico as it supposedly prevents - while aggravating, not solving, problems in the United States....

Read the whole thing (via NealBoortz).

Davids Medienkritik offers the view from Germany: Europe's Socialists Overjoyed at Democrat Victory and this: Election Reaction: We Can Stop Hating America Now:

The rude awakening for America's Democrats will come when they realize that the "Hate America" cancer that has spread through Europe and beyond (while many of them looked the other way because after all it was hurting Bush) is a plague that they will have to contend with directly.

Bookworm Room points out the different kinds of sportsmanship exhibited by Democrats vs. Republicans (see also her post, You Shall Know Them By Their Bedfellows).

And TexasRainmaker hits the trifecta with three great posts:

These reading assignments should keep you busy over the weekend, while I'm off celebrating Veterans' Day and my mom's 79th birthday. And if there's any time left over, I'll be out raking leaves.

UPDATE: Betsy asks, Why is Al-Qaeda happy over the election results?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Looking on the bright side

Neal Boortz finds the nugget of good news in the results of yesterday's booting of so many Republicans from power in the U.S. Congress and across the land:

The Republicans worked very hard for this defeat. They've earned every lost seat. The Republican majority that was sent packing yesterday bore little resemblance to the Republican majority that rode to power 12 years ago. In 1994 we were promised less government. Over the next 12 years the Republicans more than doubled the size of the government. We were promised control over runaway spending. In the last six years discretionary spending has doubled. We were promised fiscal responsibility. We got a bridge to nowhere in Alaska. We were promised the elimination of the Department of Education. After all, educational achievement had been on a steady decline since education was federalized under this Department. In no time at all the Republicans doubled funding for the Department of Education. In the meanwhile America continues to slip on the international scorecard of educational achievement.

The Republicans, in full control of the government, couldn't even manage to stop the Mexican invasion. How many Hispanics invaded our country across the Mexican / American border in the last 12 years? Twelve million? Twenty? Funny, but I don't remember pressing 1 for English in 1994.

So how did I actually vote when I got that provisional (see below) ballot in my hand. Straight Libertarian. I voted for every Libertarian candidate on the ballot. I couldn't bring myself to vote for the Social Democrat Party ... and the Republicans simply had not earned my vote. I was heartened this morning to read the following line from an Augusta Chronicle story on the vote: "With the aid of statewide distribution of Libertarian Neal Boortz's radio talk show since the last election, the Libertarian Party is enjoying its strongest support ever, making Georgia one of the party's most vibrant states." Good to hear....

If the Republicans had maintained their power we would have faced two more years of business as usual. Two more years of spending and government growth. Now we have two years of Republicans figuring out how they can convince the American people that they deserve to lead again.

He also points out that today is a happy day for "the Mexican invaders:"

Amnesty for illegals is on the way. President Bush is for it. The Senate had already voted for it. The only roadblock was the House. Now, with Democrats in control, the House will be eager to go along.

This will be one of the first moves the Democrats make ... right after they go to raise the minimum wage. Amnesty for illegal aliens will be the order of the day, amnesty without any meaningful controls to make sure that the invasion ceases.

Every one of these invaders is looked on as a potential future vote by Democrats. Nothing will be done to stem the tide.

(Sigh.) I guess we'll have to muddle through somehow, as we always do. And as Boortz says, have your escape plan ready for when the Republic finally sinks. Maybe one of these states may offer a dedicated haven for individual rights, the rule of law, and restricted government someday:

Eminent domain abuse ballot initiatives won overwhelmingly in Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, and South Carolina. The Kelo decision could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the anti-eminent domain movement. All of the propositions won handily by an average of 75%. Not one proposal to limit eminent domain lost.

America is nothing if not schizophrenic and volatile when it comes to worldviews. Let's hope that can somehow turn out to be a saving grace, and not a fatal flaw.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

May the best contestants win

It's mid-term election day here in the U.S. and I'm not blogging today. (Blogger is running VERY slowly, so this post will be short, if it gets posted at all.) I'm not following the news today either. There really IS very little news today, when you stop and think about it. The real news will come tomorrow when the election results will be in and the chattering classes will be chewing on them.

Dreamboat and I have already voted and I can do without all the media hype today. I am not listening to any dubious election polls. I'm taking a break. That feels healthy! I've also started to write a book and I must say it feels much more worthwhile to devote my spare time and attention to that (and the other projects I've got going) than to sit with half a brain cocked to the TV, internet, or radio today. That's called "getting a life," I suppose. I keep telling my kids to be vigilant about consciously setting boundaries against the unhealthy or wasteful incursions into their life of popular culture, advertising, and media, and I should be doing the same.

I can directly attribute this book bubbling up out of me now to my experiment in blogging since last Christmas. I've become much more accustomed to just sitting down at the keyboard and letting blurts rip without being such a perfectionist. I am more willing to let my writing take the lead wherever it wants to go, and then shaping that later, instead of trying to force it into where I want it.

I can also attribute my starting to write a book to my finishing reading this one. Not that I can do as well, but Eire's evocative memoir was certainly catalytic, inspirational, and thought-provoking.

Sometimes a lot of factors just gel for the good. I also recently came across this poem that resonated for me, from Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Prize-winning Indian writer and poet, who was a friend of Gandhi:

The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day...

The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.
I have spent many days stringing and unstringing this my instrument.
The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set;
only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.
The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by....

I'm not getting any younger, and whatever things I can change (as opposed to the things I can't) to make sure my song gets sung before I'm out of here, I should try harder to do.

It's supposed to rain today, and I've got to take my kids into the city for a routine dental exam. Then I've got to take my daughter to her weekly piano lesson, then I get to pick up Chinese takeout for dinner. Nice day! A little rain won't melt us.

In the meantime, don't forget to get out and vote today, rain or shine.

And I sure would like to know how Democrats can convince themselves it's okay to vote for the party our enemies prefer.

Well, here's Lileks offering a somewhat oblique (for being ironic) answer (scroll down and keep reading to the bottom).

Guess I did blog a little today after all. Dang, this here blogging stuff is addictive.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Marriage--just a generation ago everybody knew what it was

There's an interesting discussion on "gay marriage" going on over at Bookworm Room. Her initial posting of her opinion, which I agree with, included this:

I think traditional marriage, which often includes children, is the glue that holds a stable society together. Married couples, especially those with or planning to have children, have an enormous incentive to hold jobs, save money, create safe communities, look to the future politically, and to crave non-revolutionary continuity when it comes to social and political issues. They’re the antidote to anarchy. That’s why I’ve been so opposed to gay marriage. It’s not because I think gays should be punished. I’ve long said that I support extending certain legal benefits (and concomitant burdens) to committed gay couples. My opposition comes about because I’ve seen gay marriage as a slippery slope, a wedge issue, aimed at doing away with traditional marriage entirely, with all that this radical change implies.

Stanley Kurtz now writes a lengthy article that essentially says my instincts are right. While many gays just want to “get married,” the intellectuals behind the gay marriage movement have much larger plans that really go to destroying marriage all together. And because I think traditional marriage is one of the single most important aspects of a healthy society, I’m baulking completely at heading down the gay marriage path. I’m not homophobic; I’m traditional marriage-philic!

She followed with a second posting, including this:

Because I believe that strong heterosexual relationships are the backbone of a strong society, I’m less sanguine about those who slip into homosexual relations because it’s a sexually available option. I believe that legalizing gay marriage will make sexual ambiguity even easier. That’s a belief, and you’re free to disagree....

If I accept Kurtz’s data and conclusions as correct, I would have to worry that legalizing gay marriage in America would damage traditional marriage. And as I noted in my earlier post, I think traditional marriage is a necessity for a healthy America.

I added my own comments to her second post. I do think the idea of raising the concept of "marriage" of homosexuals to the same legal status as traditional marriage would have vast unsuspected consequences that should be considered and discussed ad nauseum before any such huge societal change is enacted.

And it certainly seems to me that such a huge change and break with the traditional definition of human marriage should properly be decided (if at all) by a vote of the people who will be affected (i.e by votes taken in communities, states, and the entire country which will have to live with it), not by fiat enacted by a judge here, a mayor there. And, as Bookworm points out, we should be paying attention to the fact that there is evidence to weigh from European experiments along these lines, as well as a far-left movement afoot to devalue traditional marriage altogether and not just legalize homosexual couplings as "marriage," but many other sorts of affiliations as well.

I would hate to see non-traditional "marriages" touted as values-neutral "lifestyle choices" in our nation's schools (and probably on PBS children's television shows), as will be done once such non-traditional "marriages" are legally blessed. This is already being done, and it would get much worse and more pervasive with the force of law. The public schools and parents will have no legal leg to stand on to prohibit such re-education lessons, as they will then be tarred as bigots standing in the way of fostering "cultural diversity" and "gender tolerance."

With "gay marriage" and other variations of legalized alternate couplings (or polygamous groups) elevated to the same status as marriage, would we still be allowed to think or assume, to make personal or policy distinctions, on the basis that a traditional family would offer a child a better environment than a "alternate family"? I doubt it. So we are looking at a vast sea change that would happen in adoption law, foster-child placement, and in the hearts and minds of children raised in "traditional families." If our current views on the superiority of traditional families (husband and wife offering a secure home to children) is discrimination--and of course it is, by definition of making moral distinctions--it is sensible discrimination, and I fear it would be forcibly thrown out with the bathwater of the definition of "traditional marriage."

Sorry, I do not view that as an improvement in the personal, social, or political life of our nation. It would certainly not be an improvement in the lives of our nation's children.

I am very sorry if homosexuals feel their civil rights have been curtailed because they cannot "marry" a same-sex partner in the eyes of our government, but I do not find their arguments about this to be convincing. I have nothing against loving homosexuals making lifelong pledges to each other, living in peace from persecution, and being able to secure all the legal rights of contract, inheritance and disposition of property they wish. But no matter how much they wish it, or wish to redefine or romanticize it, such a partnership will never and can never be a marriage. Society or government is not to blame for this fact of life that some folks have a hard time accepting.

Americans have grown to think that anything is possible if we only want it badly enough. My concern in this case is that the consequences of our society and our government being willing to redefine the legal meaning (and hence, therefore also the status) of "marriage" out of compassion for the feelings of a minority, may well have devastating consequences not only for the majority, but for everyone.

We need to talk about it. This is serious stuff, not just this year's cause du jour, and I don't think we should be rushed into adopting such changes without much, much more due consideration.

Muslim brain-drain

Davids Medienkritik points out that the "best and brightest" young "moderate" Muslims are leaving Germany and Europe, headed for the U.S.

Moderate Euro-Muslims who expose the danger of Islamist fundamentalism are discriminated against by the European politically correct crowd.

All I can say is, Welcome. You can benefit from our society, and our society can benefit from you.

Guess these immigrants aren't too worried about "backlash" in America. Guess our so-called "backlash" against Muslims as Muslims isn't such a big problem, compared to what's going on in Europe right now.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be jihadis

I've been reading Mark Steyn's terrifically funny and dark new book, American Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. There is so much in this book I want to share with everyone I know, not the least of it the way his wickedly sharp writing makes me laugh right out loud while wincing at what he's saying (this talent is not unlike that of one of my other favorite political humorists, P.J. O'Rourke).

Here's just one passage I wanted to share with you, which is more dark than funny (pages 69-70):

We still have no strategy for dealing with the ideology. Indeed, for the first few years of the war on “terror,” our leaders declined to acknowledge there was an ideology. And, as the years roll on, groups with terrorist ties are still able to insert their recruiters into America’s military bases, prisons, and pretty much anywhere else they get a yen to go. How come? What gives the jihad its global reach? It’s not difficult to figure out: Wahabism is the most militant form of Islam, the one followed by all nineteen of the September 11 terrorists and by Osama bin Laden. The Saudis, whose state religion is Wahhabism, export their faith and affiliated local strains in lavishly endowed schools and mosques all over the world and, as a result, traditionally moderate Muslim populations from the Balkans to South Asia have been dramatically radicalized.

That kind of operation doesn’t come cheap. So who pays for it?

You do. After September 11, George W. Bush told the world, “You’re either with us or with the terrorists.” In fact, much of the world is with neither, and much of the world is with both. And why should anyone take the president’s demand to choose sides seriously when America itself refuses to: the United States is both “with us” and “with the terrorists.” American taxpayers are in the onerous position of funding both sides in this war. In the five years after September 11, the price of oil rose from $12 per barrel to hit an all-time high of $70—so, if you sell oil, your revenues are five times what they were. And there’s nothing like bigger oil windfalls to drive powerful despots down ever crazier paths. “Looking at it another way,” wrote Frank Gaffney in his book War Footing,Saudi Arabia—which currently exports about ten mbd [million barrels of oil a day]—receives an extra half billion dollars every day.” Where does that extra half-bil go? It goes to the mosques and madrassas that the Saudis fund in every corner of the planet. Oil isn’t the principal Saudi export, ideology is—petroleum merely bankrolls it.

How could the federal government be so complacent as to subcontract the certification of chaplains in U.S. military bases to Wahhabist institutions?

Well, because they didn’t notice it until it was too late—like SARS in that Toronto hospital. If your idea of globalization is a McDonald’s in Belgrade or a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Lahore, who’s running the imams in British and American jails doesn’t seem terribly important. The Saudis fund mosques that radicalize Muslim populations from Indonesia to Oregon, and schools that turn out terrorists on every continent on the face of the Earth. They set up Islamic lobby groups that put spies in our military bases and terror recruiters in our prisons. They endow think tanks that buy up and neuter the massed ranks of retired diplomats, and assistant secretaries of state, and national security advisers….

For a bunch of ramshackle Bedouin, the Saudis got the hang of global networking quicker than the Canadians and the Scandinavians.

Which globalization is shaping the world? Steyn gives a lot of examples, including how local Wahhabist mosques and Saudi-funded Muslim elementary and secondary schools in the U.S. and Canada are now spreading a radicalized, jihadist version of Islam to local Muslim communities, while the non-Muslim citizens of these countries hardly notice.

From the seventies onward, Saudi Arabia used their Yanqui dollars to export their faith even more widely than the oil. Instead of diversifying their industrial exports, they honed their idelogical one, financing Islamic centers, mosques, and schools in Morocco, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Bosnia, Nigeria, Britain, and America. In 2005, a twenty-three-year-old American citizen named Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was charged with plotting to assassinate the president....according to the Associated Press report in the New York Times, he "was born in Houston and moved to Falls Church, Va., where he was valedictorian of his high school class."

High school valedictorian from northern Virginia, huh? Was he in that year's production of Bye Bye Birdie? Not exactly. Neither the Times nor the AP had space to mention that the typical Virginia high school Mr. Abu Ali attended was the Islamic Saudi Academy, funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It's on American soil but it describes itself as "subject to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" and its classes are based on "the curriculum, syllabus, and materials established by the Saudi Ministry of Education." So what does it teach? No room for American history, but that's not so unusual in Virginia high schools these days. Instead, the school concentrates on Wahhabi history and "Islamic values and the Arabic language and culture," plus "the superiority of jihad." By the eleventh grade, students are taught that on the Day of Judgment Muslims will fight and kill the Jews, who will find that the very trees they're hiding behind will betray them by saying, "Oh Muslim, oh servant of God, here is a Jew hiding behind me. Come here and kill him." Beats climate change and gay outreach, or whatever they do in the regular Falls Church high school. [page 72]

I used to live a few miles from Falls Church, and this hits home.

It makes you wonder just exactly what is going on in your local mosque, even if previously you have prided yourself on minding your own business and showing your good American tolerance for freedom of religion and diversity of culture by not paying any attention. If a new Islamic center, mosque, Arabic school, or Muslim American Society center is being built in your community, do you wonder who is funding it? Do you ask who the imam is and what branch of Islam he teaches--what branch of Islam is sponsoring him and his organization? Or do you believe that even asking such questions or displaying this curiosity is crossing the line of good citizenship and good manners, rather than playing an important role in your local Neighborhood Watch?

I have discovered that non-Muslims are not the only community that has been asleep and unsuspecting, or taken by surprise, as militant Wahhabist Islam has been disseminated across the globe. Formerly "moderate" Muslims who become unsuspectingly involved or exposed to these spreading Wahhabist beliefs and institutions can soon become radicalized or victimized (we have seen examples of this all the time without connecting the dots before, as Steyn now has).

There are two fascinating websites I've found that tell harrowing personal stories of people who have become swept up into radicalized Islamic nightmares and somehow manage to break free (at the risk of death sentences, exile, and losing their families):

Apostates of Islam
(see personal testimonies and discussion forum)

Faith Freedom
(see personal testimonies and discussion forum)

Sadly, many people around the world cannot access these websites, as they are blocked by the countries they live in.

If I were a Muslim in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, or Australia today, I would be very wary about what was going on within my places and institutions of worship and culture. I would want to know exactly who was funding my institutions, who the imam was and where he comes from, and where my charitable contributions are going. I would want honest, forthcoming answers, and I wouldn't be browbeaten into taking "no" for an answer anymore than I now allow my own religious or political leaders to waffle and dissemble to me or browbeat me into silence with the cudgel of false authority or piety. Thankfully, that's my inheritance as an American, to expect honest answers, and I urge all of my fellow Americans, of whatever and all faiths, to demand and expect the same. It's your right.

If I were raising children in the Muslim faith today, I would be extremely vigilant about knowing exactly what they were being taught in their mosque or Arabic school. Evidence points to a growing tide of Wahhabi indoctrination that seeks to turn students toward anti-Semitism, militant jihad and suicide ideology.

If I were a young, single, non-Muslim woman falling in love with a Muslim man, I would definitely find out all I could about the truth of Islam (starting with some of the personal testimonies on the above two websites) and the truth about Muhammad.

If I were the friend or the parent of a young person interested in learning more about or converting to Islam, I would insist he or she find out more about this religion than just what his or her Muslim friends and counselors were saying. Some branches of Islam seem to have too many similarities to a religious cult for comfort or complacency.

I start from the very Westernized view that knowledge is good, knowledge is power, knowing more about the truth of a thing or a situation is better, and that asking curious questions and seeking answers is not wrong or bad (it may be considered rude and inconvenient by some in some cases, but that is a different question, and sometimes rude or offensive questions must still be asked in the name of acquiring knowledge for the greater good; ask Galileo or Socrates or Martin Luther or Irshad Manji). God gave us wonderous brains to use and our faculties for reasoning to figure out the truth. I want to know more about what's going on in our current world and I have been wrestling to find the truthful answer to the question, "Why do they hate us?" since 9/11. Books like America Alone by Mark Steyn are huge milestones along my path toward understanding Islam and what's going on in our country and the world today. I admit I was one of those sleeping, ignorant Americans on 9/11, but I am not using that as an excuse to continue to sleep today.

UPDATE: Instapundit points out that Canadian native Mark's Steyn's book, currently No. 2 on Amazon-Canada's list of bestsellers, can't be found in brick-and-mortar Canadian bookstores. More crushing of dissent?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us."

--Bernard Lewis

Michelle Malkin points out that today is the second anniversary of the jihadist murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh.

All the more fitting that today I share with you a lecture I read recently in Imprimis (the national speech digest of Hillsdale College; free subscription here), which was delivered by Bernard Lewis, Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, who has been called by many the foremost expert on Islam in the United States. The name of his lecture is "Freedom and Justice in Islam" and it offers an encapsulated history and analysis of the ideas of freedom and justice as viewed in the Islamic world that I found eye-opening, educational, and sobering.

Just one excerpt here:

Thanks to modern communications and the modern media, we are quite well informed about how Al-Qaeda perceives things. Osama bin Laden is very articulate, very lucid, and I think on the whole very honest in the way he explains things. As he sees it, and as his followers see it, there has been an ongoing struggle between the two world religions--Christianity and Islam--which began with the advent of Islam in the 7th century and has been going on ever since. The Crusades were one aspect, but there were many others. It is an ongoing struggle of attack and counter-attack, conquest and reconquest, Jihad and Crusade, ending so it seems in a final victory of the West with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire--the last of the great Muslim states--and the partition of most of the Muslim world between the Western powers. As Osama bin Laden puts it: "In this final phase of the ongoing struggle, the world of the infidels was divided between two superpowers--the United States and the Soviet Union. Now we have defeated and destroyed the more difficult and the more dangerous of the two. Dealing with the pampered and effeminate Americans will be easy." And then followed what has become the familiar description of the Americans and the usual litany and recitation of American defeats and retreats: Vietnam, Beirut, Somalia, one after another. The general theme was: They can't take it. Hit them and they'll run. All you have to do is hit harder. This seemed to receive final confirmation during the 1990s when one attack after another on embassies, warships, and barracks brought no response beyond angry words and expensive missiles misdirected to remote and uninhabited places, and in some places--as in Beirut and Somalia--prompt retreats.

What happened on 9/11 was seen by its perpetrators and sponsors as the culmination of the previous phase and the inauguration of the next phase--taking the war into the enemy camp to achieve final victory. The response to 9/11 came as a nasty surprise. They were expecting more of the same--bleating and apologies--instead of which they got a vigorous reaction, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. And as they used to say in Moscow: It is no accident, comrades, that there has been no successful attack in the United States since then. But if one follows the discourse, one can see that the debate in this country since then has caused many of the perpetrators and sponsors to return to their previous diagnosis. Because remember, they have no experience, and therefore no understanding, of the free debate of an open society. What we see as free debate, they see as weakness, fear and division. Thus they prepare for the final victory, the final triumph and the final Jihad.

There is much more of interest in this talk, including the succinct historical overview of modern Islam, particularly since the world wars. I, for one, did not know that "the modern history of the Middle East begins in the year 1798 when the French Revolution arrived in Egypt in the form of a small expeditionary force led by a young general called Napoleon Bonaparte...."

It was Napoleon who brought talk of "equality" and "liberty" into the Middle East. "The idea of equality posed no great problem," says Lewis. "Equality is very basic in Islamic belief: All true believers are equal. Of course, that still leaves three 'inferior' categories of people--slaves, unbelievers and women.... But liberty was something else.... The word liberty was not used as we use it in the Western world, as a metaphor for good government. So the idea of a republic founded on principles of freedom caused some puzzlement."

We in the West know that knowledge is power. "Why do they hate us?" And do they? And who does and who doesn't? Read the whole thing and learn.

And for more and ongoing current information, visit Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer's blog dedicated to bringing public attention to the role that jihad theology and ideology play in the modern world, and correcting popular misconceptions about jihad and religion in modern-day conflicts.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The final word on the coming elections

Neal Boortz said it:

Give me the big-spenders who support our troops over the big-spenders who slander them any day.

I'm voting Republican.

For those of us not particularly enamoured of the Republican contenders this time around, the past few weeks of mulling over the consequences of staying home from the polls or voting for Democrats or third-party candidates has finally driven home a reluctant truth: the Republicans (i.e. a Republican House and Senate) are the lesser of two evils. Thanks, John Kerry, for winding up the pre-election discussions in such a neat fashion. And thanks, Boortz, for pointing out some of the lovely surprises (like "imputed income taxes") the Democrats have up their sleeves.

Now, we can please hear more, much more, from the Democrats in the weeks and months to come? I want to hear everything Ted Kennedy has to say on many, many subjects, and everything Charlie Rangel, John Conyers, John Murtha, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi have to say too. Let's give them lots of air time and media scrutiny along with face-to-face interviews on talk radio and complete blog coverage, and so everybody can finally really find out what's on their minds. If John Kerry was just revealing the tip of the Democrat worldview iceberg, I'm fascinated to see what else would come floating up.

In the meantime, here are some men who know how to deliver a good joke. And this one knows how to deconstruct a bad one (via Instapundit).

UPDATE: "Terrorists to USA: Vote Democratic!"

Get a human on the phone

Dreamboat just sent me this, a website devoted to improving telephone customer service, including this database of "secret" customer service numbers and ways to reach a human.

Knowledge is power.

And it's nice to know someone is tackling the non-customer service industry currently thriving in telephoneland. Thanks to the power of the internet, customers can now band together and fight back with the power of the marketplace. Awesome.