Saturday, April 17, 2004

Maybe He'll Get 73 Virgins

I mean for God's sake, Rantisi was one of the best at what he did. Doesn't he deserve even more than the common, everyday shahid?

Fox News reports that Abdel Aziz Rantisi has been killed by an Israeli helicopter.

Imagine the nerve of those Israeli's. They kill people who swear to detroy their nation. Tsk tsk tsk.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Thanks For The Memri

There is a very important article, posted at, about anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism promoted by the Arab state-owned press. I quote just a small section of the article which talks about an Arab conspiracy theory about September 11th:

Dr. Gamal 'Ali Zahran, head of the political science department at Suez Canal University, wrote in Al-Ahram shortly after September 11th: "At the WTC, thousands of Jews worked in finance and the stock market, but none of them were there on the day of the incident. Out of 6,000 killed, of 65 nationalities from 60 countries, not one was a Jew!" Dr. Zahran later wrote: "There were many rumors, and open publicity, that the Jews, who were huge stockholders in the airlines and insurance companies, sold their stocks at the highest possible prices some 10 days before the attacks on America. After the stock market began functioning again, on September 17 … the Jews competed amongst themselves to buy [these] stocks at the lowest possible prices, or waited until the stocks reached their minimal value and then acquired them, for tremendous profits. There is no doubt that this can expose their involvement in the crime. This demands covert investigation by U.S. government bodies far from the official investigative bodies."

Columnist Muhammad Abd Al-Fattah Muhsin also wrote in Al-Ahram blaming Israel for September 11: "Israel, and the Jewish lobby behind it, have managed to drag American society into launching a hate campaign against Arabs and Muslims, after they pinned the blame for terrorism on them. They have depicted the Arabs and Muslims as the ones behind the tragic events of 'Black Tuesday.' Yet if we browse through the pages of history, we find obvious clues [indicating] that terrorism is originally 'made in Israel'…"

A comprehensive article also appeared in Al-Ahram by Ahmad Abu Zayid, titled 'The Jews are Behind the Explosions in America.' In it Abu Zayid counted 14 "pieces of evidence" in support of the theory that Israel and the Mossad were involved in the September 11th attacks, and cites other examples which appeared in Al-Ahram as evidence. [10]

That's Arab state-owned press. If such a theory were touted in American or European society the progenitor of the theory would be scorned out of normal society. That is what should happen.

In the Arab world, on the other hand, such theories are openly promoted by the government itself. Not since Nazi Germany has it been true that a government would be involved in such disgusting propoganda. The world needs to wake up to this reality. If we do not, then we are repeating history and it is a shame on us.

Stupid Americans - It's Not "No War For Oil." It's "No War," For Oil

The French say "No War," and the reason is oil, as revealed by, and Kenneth Timmerman's new book, The French Betrayal of America:

FP: President Bush's critics say Iraq was a war for oil. You seem to agree, but in your new book, you claim that war was being waged by French president Chirac. Could you explain this to our readers?

Timmerman: If you read the French press, or the glowing accounts of Chirac's opposition to the U.S. effort to build an international coalition to oust Saddam Hussein that appeared here in America, you might actually believe that the French were standing on principle.

I reveal that Chirac was defending something quite different when he sent his erstwhile foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, around the world to buy votes against America at the United nations. Chirac was determined to maintain Saddam Hussein in power so that two extraordinarily lucrative oil contracts, negotiated by the French, could go into effect. Very little has been written about this until now.

The deals were negotiated separately by CFP Total and by Elf Aquitaine during the mid to late 1990s. At the time, both companies were state-controlled. They have since been privatized and combined into the world’s second largest oil giant, TotalFinalElf.

Through my sources, I obtained a copy of one of these contracts. It spans 154 pages, and grants the French exclusive right to exploit one of Iraq’s largest oil fields at Nahr al-Umar for a period of twenty years. Under the deal, the French were given 75% of the revenue from every barril of oil they extracted – 75%! That is absolutely stunning. Not even during the pre-OPEC days were foreign oil operators granted such extravagant terms.

I discussed the contract with an independent oil analyst, Gerald Hillman, who estimated that during the first seven years alone, it would earn the French around $50 billion. Elf-Aquitaine negotiated a virtually identical deal with Saddam to expand the gigantic Majnoon oil field as well. Put together, those two deals were worth $100 billion to the French. That’s 100 billion good reasons for Mr. Chirac to keep Saddam in power.

FP: The contracts were dependent on Saddam?

Timmerman: That’s correct, although I am sure the French are trying to put pressure on the Iraqi Governing Council to honor these scandalously corrupt deals.

Because of the United Nations sanctions, the French were allowed to do some initial scoping out work on the oil fields, but they couldn’t begin actual production until the sanctions were lifted. So this was a clear quid pro quo. As Hillman told me, what the French were saying in this contract was very simple: “We will help you get the sanctions lifted, and when we do that, you give us this.” And that is precisely what the French were trying to do at the UN. I’ve called these $100 billion deals from Saddam to Chirac the largest bribe ever paid in history. It was Chirac’s War for Oil.

Now, that's what we 'muricans call some real fancypants nuancin', eh boy?

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Grandma Europa Is Playing Nude In The Park Fountain has an interesting article about a new French theory on the origin of Islamism (which is a nicer name for the militant Islamic ideology I call Islamofascism):

"Whence comes the phenomenon known as fundamentalist Islam or Islamism? Some French analysts from a range of disciplines (international affairs, Orientalism, security studies, journalism) have come to an agreement: it comes from. . . the United States. Despite the inherent implausibility of viewing a movement engaged in a sustained attack on Americans as a diabolical U.S. plot, this argument has considerable persuasive power. It presents Islamism as an American attempt to retard progress in Muslim countries and divide them from their natural allies in Europe.

Such ideas come at once from the Right and the Left, representing both nostalgia for the French empire ...

America is "the last empire" in the view of these analysts, and that explains its aggressive policies. Paul-Marie de la Gorce, a leftist author with a Gaullist perspective on foreign affairs, believes that "the American empire is the only empire in the world today, it is an exclusive hegemony, and it is the first time that such a strange phenomenon occurs in human history."

Worse, the United States is a "totalitarian democracy," writes Alexandre del Valle (the pen-name of Arthur Dupont, a French civil servant). It is a lone superpower intent on preventing any other power from emerging and determined to control Europe. Islamism is one whip used against Europe ...

Richard Labévière, a French-Swiss television reporter, makes the same point in a recent book, ostensibly a work of investigative reporting.

Without seeing the CIA's hand every time history moves faster, and without falling into a paranoid interpretation of the "grand conspiracy," our investigation always ends up identifying more or less direct American responsibilities, more or less converging interests, more or less controlled instrumentalization in many Islamist theaters of operations.

Gallois believes the United States, by its very nature, must be on the side of the Islamists: "Islam much resembles the capitalist conception of society that prevails in the United States," he asserts in a recent book.12 Labévière also finds a harmony between an America bent on hegemony and radical Islam:
Islamism is fully coherent with the market economy. The theological-political order required by Islam fully conforms with the requirements of American capitalism. America's imperial design feeds on a weakening of any principle of sovereignty and territorial organization of the national bodies politic. This disappearance of political sovereignty foreshadows the untrammeled rule of an uncontrollable globalization [mondialisation] run by business mafias and religious fanatics."

Boy oh boy, I don't know whether to be unhappy that they're on to us, or to be happy that, for once, the Jews aren't getting blamed.

But, I do have to hand it to those French thinkers, they really know how to turn a phrase. America is a "totalitarian democracy." That is awesome. Awesome.

We should just start calling ourselves that. It's so badass.

Answer: Because The Kurds Are Not Fighting Against Jews

The Blog Red Letter Day poses a good question:

Why do the Palestinians get to jump ahead of the Kurds?

I was thinking about this, and the Kurds meet all of the qualifications to get a state. They are a cultural and national group with strong ties to the land on which they live. They've been persecuted mercilessly for a long time (much worse then the Palestinians, FWIW), and even better, they have quietly gone about building the institutions of statehood and a civil society pretty much on their own.

So, if you want to talk about ethnic groups that deserve a state of their own, the Kurds ought to be at the top of anyone's list.

Oh, one other thing. The Kurds have never blown up any busses full of civilians, never desecrated religious shrines, never mutilated 'enemy' corpses, never machine-gunned elementary schools, never sent teenagers in bomb vests to kill other teenagers at restaurants and coffee shops, and as far as I know, they have never tried to make a bomb filled with rat poison or HIV+ blood.

Thanks to Red Letter Day.

The War On Terror Defined

There are liberal writers and policians who support the War On Terror and, even, the Iraq War. Among them are people like Christopher Hitchens, Norm Geras, Roger Simon, and, most obviously, my main man, Tony Blair.

Add New York Times columnist Paul Berman to the list. In an elegant and persuasive article he defines and defends the War:

"The war in Iraq may end up going well or catastrophically, but either way, this war has always been central to the broader war on terror. That is because terror has never been a matter of a few hundred crazies who could be rounded up by the police and special forces. Terror grows out of something larger — an enormous wave of political extremism.

The wave began to swell some 25 years ago and by now has swept across a big swath of the Muslim world. The wave is not a single thing. It consists of several movements or currents, which are entirely recognizable. These movements draw on four tenets: a belief in a paranoid conspiracy theory, according to which cosmically evil Jews, Masons, Crusaders and Westerners are plotting to annihilate Islam or subjugate the Arab people; a belief in the need to wage apocalyptic war against the cosmic conspiracy; an expectation that, post-apocalypse, the Islamic caliphate of ancient times will re-emerge as a utopian new society; and a belief that, meanwhile, death is good, and should be loved and revered.

A quarter century ago, some of the extremist movements pictured the coming utopia in a somewhat secular light, and others in a theocratic light. These differences, plus a few other quarrels, led to hatred and even war, like the one between Iran and Iraq. The visible rivalries left an impression in some people's minds that nothing tied together these sundry movements.

American foreign policy acted on that impression, and tried to play the movements against one another, and backed every non-apocalyptic dictator who promised to keep the extremists under control. The American policy was cynical and cruel. It did nothing to prevent those sundry movements and dictators from committing murders on a gigantic scale.

Nor did the policy produce anything good for America, in the long run. For the sundry movements did share a common outlook, which ought to have been obvious all along — the paranoid and apocalyptic outlook of European fascism from long ago, draped in Muslim robes. These movements added up to a new kind of modern totalitarianism. And, in time, the new totalitarianism found its common point, on which everyone could agree. This was the shared project of building the human bomb. The Shiite theocrats of Iran pioneered the notion of suicide terror. And everyone else took it up: Sunni theocrats, Baathist anti-theocrats of Iraq and Syria, the more radical Palestinian nationalists, and others, too.

The only long-term hope for tamping down the terrorist impulse was to turn America's traditional policies upside down, and come out for once in favor of the liberal democrats of the Muslim world. This would mean promoting a counter-wave of liberal and rational ideas to combat the allure of paranoia and apocalypse.

Some people argue that anti-totalitarian revolutions can never be brought about from outside. The history of World War II says otherwise.

The whole point in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, from my perspective, was to achieve those large possibilities right in the center of the Muslim world, where the ripples might lead in every direction. Iraq was a logical place to begin because, for a dozen years, the Baathists had been shooting at American and British planes, and inciting paranoia and hatred against the United States, and encouraging the idea that attacks can successfully be launched against American targets, and giving that idea some extra oomph with the bluff about fearsome weapons.

Nobody can doubt, however, that even in its planning stages, the invasion and occupation of Iraq were depressingly bungled. The whole thing was done in an odd mood of hysteria and parsimony, a bad combination. It is tempting to conclude that, all in all, we would have been better off staying out of Iraq altogether — and maybe this will turn out to be the case.

But everyone who feels drawn to that conclusion had better acknowledge its full meaning: the unavoidable implication that we would be better off today with Saddam Hussein in power; better off with economic sanctions still strangling the Iraqi people; better off with American army bases still occupying Saudi soil (Osama bin Laden's original grievance against us); and better off without the progress on weapons proliferation in the Muslim world

Entire populations around the world feel a personal dislike for America's president, which makes it difficult for even the friendliest of political leaders in some countries to take pro-American positions.

But the bigger problem has to do with public understandings of the war. People around the world may not want to lift a finger in aid so long as the anti-totalitarian logic of the war remains invisible to them. President Bush ought to have cleared up this matter. He has, in fact, spoken about conspiracy theories and hatred (including at Tuesday's press conference). He has spoken about a new totalitarianism, and has even raised the notion of a war of ideas.

But Mr. Bush muddied these issues long ago by putting too much emphasis on weapons in Iraq ...

Somebody else will have to straighten out these confusions, then. I think it will have to be the Democrats — at least those Democrats who accept the anti-totalitarian logic."

The thing is, Tony Blair has already eloquently spoken for this position. I don't think anyone could have been more forceful or eloquent than Blair.

Well, anyway, thanks Paul.

Your Brain And The Internet - Why Absolute Free Speech Is Absolutely Important

Yahoo Reports that the FDA has approved a "Human Brain Implant Device":

BOSTON - For years, futurists have dreamed of machines that can read minds, then act on instructions as they are thought. Now, human trials are set to begin on a brain-computer interface involving implants.

Cyberkinetics Inc. of Foxboro, Mass., has received Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) approval to begin a clinical trial in which four-square-millimeter chips will be placed beneath the skulls of paralyzed patients.

If successful, the chips could allow patients to command a computer to act — merely by thinking about the instructions they wish to send.

It's a small, early step in a mission to improve the quality of life for victims of strokes and debilitating diseases like cerebral palsy or Lou Gehrig's. Many victims of such ailments can now survive for long periods thanks to life support, but their quality of life is poor.

"A computer is a gateway to everything else these patients would like to do...

and the computer is the gateway to the internet. Are you with me here? It is becoming obvious that, in the future, our brains will be melded with computers through the use of such implants. Therefore, it is also obvious that eventually our minds will be connected to the internet via wireless technology. We will be able to access all known information at all times.

Now, the thing is, such a seemless integration of brain, computer and internet, will have profound effects on the way human beings can think about, what they will think about, and what they can accomplish. Such a profound effect will be clearly be seen as a a distinct advantage and will quickly come to be viewed as an imperative.

In other words, a technology, which gives one person such a profound and elemental advantage over another person who does not have access to the technology, will come to viewed as a necessity for basic human life.

Such technology will come to be viewed as a human rights issue. It will be the right of every human that their brain is linked to the internet.

When a child is born, the second thing the Doctor will do, after he slaps the baby on the butt, is implant a set of chips.

Human beings will know no other reality than that of "access to all known information at all times."

Great. However, the problem is there will always be people like John Ashcroft who will try to dictate what information people should have access to. In a world where the human brain is seemlessly melded with the internet that would mean the John Ashcroft's of the world would be attempting to dictate what people are allowed to think about.

In addition, if a particular brain went offline, and actually thought about something that was not allowed, it would be, presumably, immediately detectable.

It would be a thought crime.

Now, the truth is, such detection of an individual's thought processes could be avoided through the use of encryption. However, we know that encryption is not foolproof. So where does that leave us?

Such a melding of brain and internet would change human life in a fundamental way. Humans would have to rethink everything about their world. Issues would emerge which we are not able to conceive of currently.

It would be interesting, and probably important, to start trying to think them through now. When the atom bomb hit us, we had not begun to think through it's implications. Luckily, that has not bit us in the ass to date.

There's no reason for us to believe that we will be so lucky with other emerging technologies.

This is only the beginning...

Oh Jeez, You Lucky Guys - Take It, For God's Sake - Take It

Bin Laden offers a truce to Europe.

DUBAI (Reuters) - A purported audio tape by Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), aired on Arab television Thursday, offered a truce to Europeans if they pulled troops out of Muslim nations but vowed to continue fighting the United States and Israel.

The voice on the tape, which sounded like that on previous broadcasts believed to be genuine, also said that the March 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people were retaliation for Spain's role in Iraq (news - web sites), Afghanistan (news - web sites) and with the Palestinians.

"I offer a truce to them (Europe) with a commitment to stop operations against any state which vows to stop attacking Muslims or interfere in their affairs," the voice said.

"The announcement of the truce starts with the withdrawal of the last soldier from our land ..."

Hmmm, I wonder what he means by "our land?" Do you think he means everywhere in the "Arab World?"

Yes, that's what he means, and that's why the War on Terrorism is the same as the "Intifada" against Israel. Check out my article Guardian - Liar, Lunatic or Stupid? Sheikh Yassin wanted Jews out of Israel, BECAUSE IT WAS THEIR LAND.

That's what these nutjob Islamofascists think, if they have had control over a land for a period of time then it is their land for all time. In fact, Bin Laden is on record calling Spain "Andalusia" because that's what it was called when it was Islamic territory, therefore it still is Islamic territory and always will be, so we'll still call it Andalusia. Understand?

"Then why is he offering Spain a truce?" the Euro mindset asks. Well, that's a cute question, Europe. Let's read further, shall we?

"The announcement of the truce starts with the withdrawal of the last soldier from our land and the door is open for three months from the date of the announcement of this statement."

Sounds like a good deal, Europe. I advise you to take it. Take it, for God's sake.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Glenn Reynolds Is
The Most Photographed Barn In America

I don't get Glenn Reynolds. I don't get Instapundit. He's not a blogger. He's a linker. He's Drudge Report, with no reporting and no headlines. So, he's got a big audience. So what? Why does that mean he's worth reading.

This phenomena, this Instaworship, reminds me of this excerpt, from Don DeLillo's White Noise:

Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America. We drove twenty-two miles into the country around Farmington. There were meadows and apple orchards. White fences trailed through the rolling fields. Soon the signs started appearing. THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA.

We counted five signs before we reached the site. There were forty cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot. We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. A man in a booth sold postcards and slides--pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot.

We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book.

"No one sees the barn," he said finally.

A long silence followed.

"Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn."

He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced at once by others.

"We're not here to capture an image, we're here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies."

There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.

"Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. This literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism."

Another silence ensued.

They are taking pictures of taking pictures," he said.

He did not speak for a while. We listened to the incessant clicking of shutter release buttons, the rustling crank of levers that advanced the film.

"What was the barn like before it was photographed?" he said. "What did it look like, how was it different from other barns, how was it similar to other barns? We can't answer these questions because we've read the signs, seen the people snapping the pictures. We can't get outside the aura. We're part of the aura. We're here, we're now."

He seemed immensely pleased by this.

The whole idea behind blogging is to get your info from myriad sources. The idea is to decentralize the gathering and delivery of information. The idea is to break down the monolith. But, instead we are erecting new ones.

Just like people. We're given the unlimited, but instead we turn to idols.

The only reason people pay attention to Glenn Reynolds is because lots of people pay attention to Glenn Reynolds, and that's just a function of him having been an early artifact. The more people stare at him, the less they see him, and the less they realize that he's just a barn.

A Stern Reminder On Free Speech

The FCC says Howard Stern violates "Community Standards." However,

He's the number one rated personality in almost every market in which he airs.

This means that the community's "Standard" is they like him.

Thus, he can not be "violating Community Standards."

That's hard to argue with.

Hat Tip: Baba Booey

Are We A Nation Of Laws Or A Nation Of Standards?

I wish some reporter would pose the above question to Michael Powell and John Ashcroft. The FCC mandate indicates that they are to judge indecency by posing the vague question of whether a given communication violates "Community Standards."

The problem with that, as I have stated before is there is no law. It's just a standard. I have heard it said that the great thing about Democracy is that it's built on laws and that nobody is above the law.

However, if a few people (like Michael Powell and John Ashcroft, who are not elected representatives of the people) are defining "Standards" then they are above the law, are they not?

Our Jenin

Ok, so now we're being accused of a "Jenin Massacre." One could never say for sure until the facts are in, but I can almost guarantee you this is another "Jenin Myth."

"Shells slamming into houses. Bodies buried in the gardens of homes. Snipers in mosque minarets. Iraqis who fled Falluja after a week of fighting say they are haunted by the scenes in the city last week.

"I could see many bodies in the streets. Hundreds were lying in the street. Relatives were too scared to get them," said Samir Rabee, who escaped Falluja with relatives and eight other families in the back of a refrigeration truck.

"Many of the bodies were buried in the sports stadium and others were buried in the gardens of homes."

To accuse a people of committing an atrocity when they have not is a kind of war crime in itself. Of course, they would get off on an insanity plea, so why bother.

Good reporting Reuters.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Easter Message

My sister-in-law brought her boyfriend to church today. He is a Unitarian and I don't think the issue of the reality of Jesus Christ is a big thing for him. He's a real good guy, but he has said to her he doesn't really understand her perspective as an Evangelical Christian.

I myself have not asked him what he thinks. But, since he was sitting in our church for the first time today I wondered what his impressions were.

Our Pastor was quoting the verse where Christ said He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no man comes to the Father but through Him. And he was saying that this is the Truth. And that with Truth there are not two ways. There is only the Truth and any other error.

That must have freaked the boyfriend out because he knows us all as intelligent, sensitive, tolerant people. But now he knows we go to a church where the Pastor says these things, and he sees that we agree because - as silly as it may seem that agreement is shown through such little rituals - we do things like close our eyes during prayer and communion, sing along with the songs, and answer our Pastors call that "the Lord is risen," with our own "He is risen indeed."

He is?

Well, yes, I do believe that. And I believe it is the central fact of all of our live, and it is the central fact of history.

But, I was not always so convinced.

I "became a Christian" when I was thirteen. I put that in quotation marks because when I "became a Christian" it wasn't so much that I came to know the Lord - because I had always known of God and Jesus as a reality in my life - as it was that I was old enough at that time to understand the message that I needed God's forgiveness and that Christ's death on the cross was the atonement for my sin.

But, I must say, as I got older I became extremely unhappy with what I thought of as the Church. Comments like John Lennon's, "Jesus was ok, but his followers were a bit thick," began to make a lot of sense to me. I looked around me and saw a lot of people not following the rules I had been taught; not being good to each, not being sober or chaste, not being honest. My idea of "the Church" was the hypocrites I saw around me. I should have been looking at myself.

I went off to college, studied Philosophy and Religion and stopped going to Church altogether, although if anybody ever asked me, I still identified myself as a Christian. I always believed that Christ was the Way, but without a connection to the liturgical aspects of church, and without the encouragement of my fellow hypocrites/Church members, I gradually fell away from believing in a "Historic Jesus."

I became a kind of Jungian Christian, believing that the fact that the "Christ story" resonated with people of all lands and cultures meant that "Christ" was a reality in some ethereal plane, even if he had not walked on the Earth and touched the lives of fellow humans.

As a Jungian Christian I also, as you can imagine, became much more lax in my morals because I was basically walking around with a philosophy that said, "Whatever resonates is true." And I can tell you that when I was in my twenties what was resonating most for me was my male member and all it's narcissistic demands.

When it comes to the apostascy of people in their twenties, I don't which comes first the chicken or the egg. Do we fall away from God and thus become more immoral, or do fall away from God so that we may become more immoral (i.e. "have a good time")?

Who knows?

Anyway, as the story goes for most people it also went for me. Emptiness piled on top of emptiness, and gradually I realized I was a disappointed, unhappy, angry guy who wasn't living up to his ideals.

One day I was driving down the street listening to Dennis Prager on the radio and he said something like, "I'm a Jew, but I know that we needed Protestantism for Democracy to be born."

Now, I don't want to try to quote him extensively on a radio monologue I heard that I heard probably 7 or 8 years back, so I'll just tell you what I came to make of his thoughts.

I came to realize that everything that I believe is worthwhile in this world is built on one of two things:

1) The love one human being shows another,


2) Judeo-Christian philosophy/theology.

Now, clearly there are people who love one another all across the face of this world. As the Bible says, "Beloved let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows god."

But, that's just the world of interpersonal relationships, and that world rarely effects the broader world of political power. And, of course, political power, if wielded without wisdom, is the cause of the a large part of the world's misery.

And that's how Prager got me to return to my fundamentalist Bible-believing roots. Because, when I thought about it, I realized that Protestant Christianity was the birth of Democracy precisely because it says that each individual human being has a direct relationship with the God of the universe. We can talk to Him and he can talk to us. We are all priests. We do not need any other priest, imam, witch doctor, etc. as an intermediary.

In addition, I realized that Judeo-Christian philosophy says that life is created by God and that it is therefore "good." It is something to be cherished, not withdrawn from. Life is beautiful when lived with the wisdom of the Word of God. Life is good when you dream of what you want and create.

This is in direct conflict with the philosophy of Buddhism which says that Life is Pain and the way to enlightenment is detatchment from desire. And what happens when you tell a whole culture full of people that they should detatch from desire from the time they are born?

What happens is you produce a land full of people who will not give voice to what they want. Great, huh?

Listen, I don't want to go through all the religions of the world and put them down. That's not the point. As I said, I studied philosophy and religion in school and I love religion and it's pursuit of the eternal and ineffable. My favorite religions, other than Christianity and Judaism, are Hinduism (particularly Ramakrishna and the Atman is Brahman variety), and Sufi Islam.

So, there I was, in my early to mid-thirties, when I realized that I had to get back into the ground of my religion, because the particulars of Christianity are important.

When it says, God created the heavens and the earth and saw that it was good, that's important. It means that life is to be cherished. It means that God values matter and color and beauty.

When it says that God created man in his own image, that's important. It means that man is to be a creature that values matter and color and beauty. It means that we have free will and that we have the power to be creative like God, albeit just working with the materials he has provided.

So, to find my grounding I bought the 1928 Edition of The Book of Common Prayer and I read through all the verses of the Morning and Evening Prayers over and over. They tell the entire story of the Bible. I read the prayers, praises and psalms over and over. They slowly became a part of me. And slowly I found that my religion which I had discovered to be so important to the world around me, was becoming important to me again.

It had to. It would have been very ignorant of me to have looked at the fact that all that I valued in the world was created by an ideology in which I refused to have faith.

But, getting back to the original poing of this post, my sister-in-laws boyfriend does not have all the background that I do. He never was grounded. He's just an intelligent and creative, college-educated person who works in the music industry who, I would imagine, brings all the usual prejudices that go along with that kind of life, to church with him.

What must it be like for him to hear somebody say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that's that? He must think to himself,

"These people all seem so reasonable. They seem like good people. They are my friends, but what the ...?"

I came back to God through a philosophical route. How would he come to know God? What route would help him understand? Maybe it would be seeing people do music and dance for the glory of God, and doing it with joy and serenity, even if they are not the best performers in the world. Maybe it would be through watching our family and how we interact.

He is a loving person and so I believe he knows God already, in a sense. However, I now believe it is important to know God on an intellectual level as well. To think about Him, who He is, and to make a choice about Him, a step of faith.

What an encounter.

Is It Really Porn If It's So Small All You Can Do Is Laugh?

That's my question to John Ashcroft.

I've already gone into the Freedom of Speech issue in a previous post called Michael Power - King of All Media? I don't intend to go into it much further here. Suffice it to say, I don't think the government should be dictating content in means of communication that require choice on the part of the consumer, meaning one would have to access it through a purchase.

Anti-Semitism at Toronto's York University

York University in Toronto, Canada hosted a seminar called "From Ground Zero to Islamophobia: Who Are The Victims." The seminar was sponsored by a number of campus groups including the Middle Eastern Student Association, Muslim Action Network, the Muslim Student Association, the Pakistani Student Association, and the Pakistani Student Federation.

Speaker Mohammed al-Asi imparted this wonderful meditation on the almighty power of the "Jewish lobby":

The "Jewish lobby" in the United States "was very disturbed that Muslims were beginning to stand up and their voice was beginning to be heard. Something had to be done about this." The lobby hit upon a great idea: "something that would jolt public opinion into perceiving everything that is Islamic as terrorist." Mossad and the CIA infiltrated "Islamic combatant groups" in Afghanistan and were the forces behind the attack on September 11, 2001. QED.

One might be tempted to think, "Ok, so they invited a speaker to campus and he let loose with some crazy stuff." But, I think we should look again at the title of the seminar. Interesting, right?

And then maybe we should consider this andthis and this.

Give Me Some Of That Thar Perspective, Wouldja Ali?

I know we Americans lack the gift of nuance that our more complex brothers and sisters over in Europe have, so I'm going to have to go outside to get a little rational analysis on the current goings-on in Iraq.

Iraq the Model, a blog written by an Iraqi named Ali, gives some much needed perspective:

Despite the tragic loses on the part of the coalition forces and the innocent Iraqis who were accidentally trapped in between, I think that what's happening in Iraq now (al-Mahdi army revolt) will end up in a good way for Iraq. Why do I say that?

This was bound to happen. It was in the air since the 9th of April 2003.

So what’s good about this riot? As I said this is a very old dream that is strongly rooted to the conscience of the majority of the Shea’at. And with the freedom of speech and with the defeat of the Arab Sunni and with the support and motivation from Iran, this was bound to happen. It could’ve been worse if a leader with more brains and popularity than this clown carried it.

This riot should be and will be crushed sooner or later, because of the ignorance of the leadership and the lack of support of the majority of Iraqis including Shea’at which made those fanatics resort to terrorizing the people to show that they have the support of the Iraqis like their demand for a general strike which was associated with clear threats.

Another good outcome of this riot is that it showed that the influence of clerics including Sistani, is much smaller than they and their followers were claiming. I’ve heard it from most of the Shea’at that the whole Iraq supports Sistani and that the Americans don’t dare to defy him! They really believed their illusions. Now it appears that the fatwa of Sistani didn’t have any significant effect on the Americans’ determination to end this riot, nor it convinced the fanatic Shea’at to stay calm. Even the GC paid no attention to him and showed readiness to use force if it is needed.
When this riot will be crushed, and it will be, Sistani and all the clerics will no longer seem as strong as they seemed before, and once they see the 'wholly' name Al-Sadir in handcuffs, they will think a million times before committing a similar stupidity in the future.

This will certainly not happen tomorrow, nor will it happen soon after crushing this riot, but certainly the results will make Iraqis aware of the fact that their leaders are actually not as smart and strong as they look, and that their religious, tribal and ethnic groups will not provide them with their needs. Once that happen they will start to reconsider their goals and their loyalty and the voice of reason, logic will certainly be more heard once the horns of ignorance get silenced or ignored by the majority.

Damn, we'll have to get them Euros to come on over here and build some colleges for us. Then maybe we could do some cogitatin of our own, eh boy?

Maybe We Are Getting Close

Alot of people around the world have wondered, "What does Iraq have to do with the War on Terror?"

Well, beside the fact that everybody knows that Hussein's regime knowingly harbored terrorists and funded Palestinian terrorism by giving $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers... you mean beside just those measley facts, right?

Well, ok, here's my theory. I believe Bush knew that he could make a legal case for the invasion of Iraq before the U.N. Other than the already vanquished Taliban, there was no other terror-supporting regime for which Bush could make a legal case. So, while it is true you could say that Hussein did not perfectly fit the Islamofascist model, I believe Bush thought he could draw all the other Islamofascist regimes out into the open by invading Iraq. By that I mean, Bush believed that countries like Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, etc. would give him a reason to "change their regimes" and clean their clocks as well.

I think he has finally done it.

US intelligence officials believe that Iran's hard-line and fiercely independent security services are providing support -- either directly or through proxies -- to outlawed Iraqi militia forces loyal to Shi'a Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr that have been clashing with the US-led coalition during the past week, current and former US government officials and analysts said yesterday.

"We know on the ground that there are many hundreds and probably thousands of Iranian intelligence agents spreading money to their favored forces," said Larry Diamond, who returned from Iraq on Saturday, where he served as a senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority. "There are multiple signs all over. Iran has been funding and arming several radical Islamic militias, not just Sadr's, with different elements of the Iranian power structure aiding different groups."

One defense official who requested anonymity but has access to the latest intelligence reports added that Iran is "not providing official government support, but that doesn't preclude that individuals are coming across the border with government acquiescence."

Go ahead pick on big bad Satan my darling little Islamofascists. And for any of you Euros out there just waiting to ask the question, "Yes, America does intend to invade the whole world."