Saturday, February 26, 2005

The French Reconnection

From Christianity Today:

Catching a breather at a sidewalk café, Cyril Gordon, a Paris-born American evangelist, told me he was astounded at how well the gospel was being received in France. "I've done evangelism in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Paris," he says, "and of all these, I've been by far best received in Paris. I'm used to getting some broadsides ripped up and thrown in my face or people cussing at me. I haven't had one instance of this in the two weeks I've been here. We are constantly talking to French people who walk up to us wanting to know about Christ." As a result of the four-week campaign, 730 people turned in the tear-off forms, asking that someone follow up with them. Among those who converted was a Muslim studying philosophy of religion at the Sorbonne.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the postmodern French have deconstructed deconstructionism, seen through the utopia of socialism, and realized that wine and other sensual delights only go so far in filling what French philosopher Blaise Pascal described as the "God-shaped void." According to France Mission, an opinion poll conducted in March 2003 showed that 32 percent of those who call themselves Christians have recently returned to the faith. In 1994, only 13 percent said so.

You see this trend in the writings of French intellectuals and philosophers who are products of the 1960s sexual revolution when "it was forbidden to forbid," says Mark Farmer, former pastor of a Baptist church across from the Louvre. The most articulate plea for France to re-examine its Judeo-Christian roots came recently in Jean-Claude Guillebaud's critically acclaimed Re-founding the World: The Western Testament.

"What's this? A French intellectual starting his book with a quote from Psalm 1?" Farmer recalls his reaction to first paging through the volume. "And he's got a chapter on the apostle Paul? He starts the book by saying that the 20th century has been a century of disillusion. Marxism, evolution, socialism, hedonism, wars have all failed us. He says it's easy to be pessimistic, but there are some things that we appreciate about our civilization. For example, the notion of right and wrong that transcends any culture—where does that come from? He stops short of saying that he himself has become a Christian, but he's led the horses to the water."

The sales of another book—the Bible—are at a historic high, according to the French Bible Society. In 2003—which Christians promoted as the Year of the Bible—FBS's publishing house sold an unprecedented 100,000 Bibles and 50,000 New Testaments, says Christian Bonnet, the group's secretary general. At the time of our conversation, the Bible with life application notes for seekers, La Bible Expliquée, had just sold a record 80,000 copies in one month. In the last 15 years, Bonnet says, secular bookstores, "which never wanted to sell Bibles before," and major supermarket chains began selling Bibles.

The search for God in the most secular country of Europe is so universally felt that even a business journal—the equivalent of Forbes or Fortune—was compelled to publish a special issue in July and August of 2003 whose cover exclaimed, "God, the Stocks Are Rising!" Its 72 pages describe the surge of interest in religion and its effect on the business world, says Paris-based International Teams missionary Steve Thrall. The contents page announces that "after a materialistic 20th century, religions are coming back in force. In France, this rise in spirituality is pushing out secularism in both schools and business."

I think this is probably a residual effect of 9/11, and the rise in awareness of Islamofascist terrorism since that date. Before 9/11, I was only vaguely aware of terrorism and Islamofascism. I had seen, on the news, large groups of Iranians, and Iraqi's, in the streets chanting "Death to America", but I believed that it was exaggerated by the media.

As was the case with many Americans, when seeing the towers fall, the first question I asked myself was, "Why do they hate us so much?" In the dark hours afterward, expert after expert came on the news, and explained who Osama bin Laden was and who Al Qaeda was. I had never heard the names.

As I started to understand why those who attacked did so, the second question I asked myself was, "Would the world be better off without America?" Truly, that is the question to ask, especially in light of the fact that Bin Laden has declared his intention to acquire nuclear weapons.

Now, you know that my answer to the second question is yes. I think the French people are probably asking themselves the same question. Islamic militants in France have been caught with chemical weapons. Apparently, they intended to use them on the subway in Paris, if I recall correctly. There have been numerous other arrests, and cases of Intelligence data, suggesting that, even though they did not join in the Iraqi War effort, the Islamofascists intend to hurt France badly as well.

France may be hateful, and a bad ally, but the French people are not stupid. When they ask themselves questions, the answers they come up with are usually more convoluted, but as Samuel Johnson said, "The gallows doth powerfully concentrate the mind." I'm guessing many of them have answered the question of whether the world would be better off without France, and Western Civilization, with a simplistic and resounding, "No."

They might not be confident enough to admit their thoughts as unashamedly as Americans, but they've got to be thinking these things through.

And that brings me finally to my point. The third question that I began asking myself, in the months following 9/11, was "What is it that makes Western Civilization so powerful and productive." The answer is our intellectual framework; the ideas upon which we were founded. Those ideas began with the Judeo-Christian tradtion. In the beginning, Catholicism and Protestantism gave birth to this magnificent culture. There have been many other ideas added along the way, some good and some not so good, but it all began with the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Protestantism, in particular, with it's emphasis on each individual having a direct line to God, organically grows Democracy. For, why would a person who has God's ear take orders from a King or Dictator?

If this article from Christianity Today is true, then it would seem that, at least inwardly, the French are coming to the same conclusions as we Americans.

I am happy for them, spiritually, and I am happy for us, polically.

The Genocide In Darfur
What We Can Do About It

Roger Simon has a good idea. Maybe we should pass this around:

Few people want to be reminded of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, just as they didn't want to hear about Rwanda. It's too frightening and depressing. So Nicholas Kristof deserves support for his strong oped in the NYT this morning - The Secret Genocide Archive. The photographs alone are stomach-turning.

So why has the world largely ingored this? Kristof offers this solution:

What will really stop this genocide is indignation. Senator Paul Simon, who died in 2003, said after the Rwandan genocide, "If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different."

Yes, of course. We should all do what we can. But this shouldn't be an exclusively American problem. It is a world problem. The United Nations, which was formed in the wake of genocide and was supposed to make the repetition (Pastorius note: uh, I think he means prevention. Must have been a Freudian slip) of such horrors its number one priority, has not nearly done its job here, just as it did not in Rwanda. Why? Maybe there just isn't any money it.

I'm going to fire off an email to my Congressman and Senators right now.

Dead? Posted by Hello

The above photograph shows Terri Schiavo with her mother. Terri's husband, and some cabal of doctors, lawyers, expert witnesses, and judges, say that Terri is in a Persistant Vegetative State. In other words, they contend that she in Brain-Dead.

When one looks at that photo with the knowledge that a rather large group of experts are in agreement that Terri is essentially dead, one must begin to wonder who else around us would be considered "dead" if these people had their way.

I've always been kind of neutral on the issue of assisted suicide. The fact that Terri Schiavo is considered "dead" has changed me fundamentally. Advocates of her starvation have won me over to side of the staunch pro-life crowd.

That's what happens when the face of evil shows itself in the open. Many people like me, who couldn't pick up on the subtle hints, will recoil in horror at the perverted grotesquerie of the pro-death view of the world.

If our courts do end up allowing Michael to remove Terri's feeding tube, then Terri will have died because we took a nasty fall down the slippery slope.

Was It All For Nought?
"We Want Her To Be Educated Enough
That She Will Not Force Him To Beat Her"

From Mystery Achievement:

Do women who grow up in a culture of domination, submission, and violence see this as some sick form of "caring" on the part of their men? If that sounds to you like I'm stumping for cultural relativism run amok, then let me assure you that I'm not buying in. It simply means that I am totally at a loss to explain why Iraqi women eye Islamic law:

BAGHDAD - Covered in layers of flowing black fabric that extend to the tips of her gloved hands, Jenan al-Ubaedy knows her first priority as one of some 90 women who will sit in the national assembly: implementing Islamic law.
She is quick to tick off what sharia will mean for married women. "[The husband] can beat his wife but not in a forceful way, leaving no mark. If he should leave a mark, he will pay," she says of a system she supports. "He can beat her when she is not obeying him in his rights. We want her to be educated enough that she will not force him to beat her, and if he beats her with no right, we want her to be strong enough to go to the police."
Broadening support for sharia may not have been the anticipated outcome of the US mandate that women make up one third of the national assembly. But Dr. Ubaedy's vision is shared by many members of the United Iraqi Alliance, a list of religious Shiite candidates that won a majority of seats. She says the women on the UIA list are meeting now to coordinate their agendas and reach out to women from other parties.

If the Iraqi women in the National Assembly think like this and vote, along with their male couterparts, for Sharia law to be implemented in Iraq, then we, in the United States, are the beaten women. After all we have done, this would be the ultimate "kick in the head".

Friday, February 25, 2005

Europe As Amusement Park

I found this in my archives and thought it needed to be resurrected. The orignal link does not exist anymore. Sorry.

Weekly World News is an important journal breaking stories crucial to the development of Western Civilization. For instance, one earthshaking scoop was their April 2003 revelation (complete with photos) that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were sharing a "Gay Love Nest."Anyway, now they have this "scoop." I'll just call it a "suggestion":

Member nations of the European Union have announced plans to discontinue their status as individual countries in order to merge into one giant theme park!
The new park will be called EuroWorld and will cover the entire continent of what is now known as Europe. The decision was made by the EU countries in response to their collective realization that no one in Europe has had an innovative idea in well over a century.
With nothing new to offer visitors, the European countries decided to stop pretending they were still relevant, and to start celebrating their colorful pasts.
"Our stagnant continent has been a virtual museum for decades," explains an unnamed EU representative. "Many could argue that we already were nothing more than an amusement park. The decision to legally become a large theme park is really only a formality."
Each country will now be an exhibit within the park. For example, what was once known as Germany will now be the Germanland exhibit. Only traditional German foods such as bratwurst, sauerkraut and beer will be permitted in Germanland.
The citizens of each European country will now be considered "Euro hosts." The Euro hosts will be required to dress in traditional ethnic outfits from their respective homelands to better entertain visitors.
Thus, Germans must wear lederhosen at all times, Scots must wear kilts, and so forth.
"It's better this way. I remember vacationing a few years ago in Holland and nobody was wearing wooden shoes. And very few of them lived in windmills. I was outraged and demanded my money back from my travel agent," comments sociologist Alan Kennedy, a consultant to the EU for the theme park initiative.
Admission tickets to EuroWorld will actually be one-week passes that allow visitors access to each exhibit.
Much of the entertainment for visitors to EuroWorld will come from creative new activities that incorporate established European traditions.
For example, there will be bungee jumping from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, waffle juggling in Brussels and prostitute races in Amsterdam.
Because of the relatively large size of EuroWorld, it is expected to become a significant competitor to the Disney theme parks in Florida.
Amusement park consultant Dee Hamel explains, "Disney has an advantage because it is an established name and has been in business for more than 20 years. It is also in close proximity to a number of decent hotels.
"EuroWorld needs to establish its own identity and not be simply another cliched theme park with ferris wheels and people dressed like animals. And they cannot possibly allow mimes and expect anyone to want to go there."
Hamel also believes that EuroWorld will need new accommodations. "The park will need to upgrade the antiquated hostels and bed-and- breakfasts found in European cities.
"Nobody wants to go to an amusement park all day and then stay in a crowded hostel with other malodorous tourists. Especially French travelers, as we all know of their aversion to bathing.
"Many experts agree that the reason Europe has become an intellectual wasteland is that all of the industrious and motivated European citizens had the good sense to emigrate to the United States over the past 100 to 150 years.
"The cupboard was left bare, so to speak," notes respected historian Dr. Peter Sanvorth. "While the best and brightest of the Old Country found their way to America's shores, left behind were buffoons like Jacques Chirac and madmen like Adolf Hitler.
"It saddens me that the continent that once developed the printing press, experienced the Renaissance, and built beautiful cathedrals and cities has reached this point of intellectual bankruptcy," says Dr. Sanvorth."
With no new European ideas, inventions or architecture, all that's left is their history. So why not celebrate it with a giant theme park? I think it's a great idea."

Real Or Imaginary?
It Doesn't Matter
When You Want To Get The Jews

From Melanie Phillips:

The row over the Thought for the Day broadcast by the Scottish cleric Rev Dr John Bell has taken an even more surreal and sinister turn. As I noted in a previous post, BBC Radio Four allowed Bell to broadcast a totally unsubstantiated smear that the Israel Defence Force ordered its soldiers to shoot unarmed Palestinian children. He was reporting a conversation he had had with a waiter in a Vancouver restaurant, who claimed to be an Israeli Arab who had resisted such an order. Embarrassed by the fact that Bell had made no effort to discover whether any of this was true, the BBC posted a qualified apology for factual ‘inaccuracies’, although it did not apologise for the libel about the IDF.

Now, an official in the Church of Scotland has weighed into the controversy -- by comparing Bell to Jesus! In a letter to the Herald, Sandy Gemmill, a deputy treasurer in the church, has written:

‘Two thousand years ago there was a man in Israel who used such uncorroborated tales of Samaritans, servants, agricultural workers, sheep, weddings and the like to illustrate various controversial points. Clearly the passage of time has not dampened the enthusiasm of the Israeli authorities to speak out against such tales and take action to suppress apparent lies …Unfortunately, any criticism of the Israeli government is now taken as being anti-Semitic…The term should not be used to deflect unfavourable comments about the way that governments abuse their powers. The Israeli government is no different from those in authority in, for example, Great Britain and the United States. Governments are like monoliths in exercising power on behalf of the people and from time to time must be reminded of the need to see beyond their own self-centred interests to those of the human race. If an uncorroborated story concerning any member of the Israeli Army,
real or imaginary,
can aid that process then that should be applauded.’
I'm going to run that by you a couple more times:
If an uncorroborated story concerning any member of the Israeli Army,
real or imaginary,
can aid that process then that should be applauded.’
If an uncorroborated story concerning any member of the Israeli Army,
real or imaginary,
can aid that process then that should be applauded.’
Boy, we sure are seeing a lot of statements like that out of the left lately. CBS has documents that are "fake but accurate". Congressman Hinchey makes up a story about Karl Rove planting documents, and when questioned says he doesn't have evidence, but it doesn't matter because it's important just to entertain the notion.
Now, here we see that it is ok to libel Israel with "imaginary" stories because it will "aid" the process of criticizing the Israeli government.
Melanie Phillips says:

So faced with a libel perpetrated against the Jews, Gemmill concludes that the Jews who are protesting are trying to suppress the truth and crucify the perpetrator, just like he thinks they did to Jesus! One is aghast at this calumny piled upon calumny, at the anti-Jewish prejudice that is here revealed and at the brazen revelation of the ancient theological underpinning of this prejudice. Gemmill assumes that what Bell said was true, even though there is not a shred of evidence for it and even though his account contained two demonstrable errors of fact which should surely give any rational person grounds for suspecting that the whole thing was a farrago of nonsense. Gemmill nevertheless assumes it to be true because he knows, beyond any shadow of doubt and beyond the small question of demonstrable evidence to support such a claim, that Israel abuses its powers. Indeed, he would like to see even more such uncorroborated claims expressed – even about ‘imaginary’ Israeli soldiers — simply in order to throw mud at Israel. So even lies will do. What pathological spite is this? What terrifying beast has been unleashed here?

Gemmill also claims that claims of anti-Semitism are being used by Jews to ‘deflect unfavourable comments’ about Israel -- in other words, to promote ideological censorship. But this is itself a grossly defamatory and wickedly unfair accusation. Jews like myself do not cry anti-Semitism at any ‘unfavourable comments’ about Israel.
What we are up against is a systematic campaign of falsehoods, ignorance, misapprehensions and grotesque prejudices designed to delegitimise Israel by falsifying current and historic realities and further delegitimising the moral probity of the Jewish people. Israel does not generally abuse its powers. Rather, it is abused by people spreading lies and libels about it, which are believed by the likes of Gemmill because -- as he has so graphically revealed -- they correspond to a vicious theological Christian prejudice against the Jews.

Bell, who has apologised for unintentionally giving offence, has expressed his bewilderment that what he thought was an unexceptional account should have been taken to be an expression of anti-Jewish prejudice. But now we can see that, whatever Bell may have thought he was thinking, there is a strain of thinking in the church which is indeed virulently anti-Jewish -- and can express such prejudice without any shame.
These are indeed the most dangerous and worrying of times for the Jews of Britain. And that's bad news for everyone else.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Democratic Evangelist

A week or two ago National Review published an article by Victor David Hanson titles "Why Democracy?" in which he listed ten reasons we need to support Democracy in Iraq. My friend Jack, over at Jack of Clubs, had a "minor quibble with number five:

... point number 5. Here is the full context:

5. In the case of the Muslim world, there is nothing inherently incompatible between Islam and democracy. Witness millions in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Turkey who vote. Such liberal venting may well explain why those who blow up Americans are rarely Indian or Turkish Muslims, but more likely Saudis or Egyptians. The trick is now to show that Arab Muslims can establish democracy, and thus the Palestine and Iraq experiments are critical to the entire region.
I disagree with both the theoretical assertion and the practical examples that Hanson produces. There is a conflict between Islam and democracy. Because Islam is a religion without grace, there can be no fundamental trust among fellow men. Every sinner will be forced to hide the fact of his imperfection and, therefore, to be all the more critical of the imperfections of others. Furthermore, since only an inhuman standard of achievement is worthy of heaven, the cult of the hero is inevitable. This has two distinct but reinforcing anti-democratic effects.
First, it tempts people to overlook the flaws in their leaders as long as they are capable of command, because to suspect that a particular man may be imperfect opens up the possibility that perfection is impossible.
Second, it tends to make such leaders brutally suppressive of dissent, for obvious reasons. This is why secularization is usually on the lips of those who advocate the advance of democracy in Islamic cultures.
But I suggest that secular government is ultimately without authority. The worst atrocities of history were committed in the 20th century by secular governments: the Nazi concentration camps, the killing fields of Cambodia and Stalin's programs of mass starvation in the Ukraine. Without a moral basis, government becomes hateful to its constituents. Fallen men cannot be trusted with the power of life and death, unless they are subject to a transcendent authority (and not even always then).
This leads me to the "successful" Muslim democracies that Hanson cites: India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Turkey. I have already mentioned the occupation of Cyprus in other posts, but would include oppression of both Kurds and Christians as among Turkey's anti-democratic tendencies. In fact, all of theses countries have problems with religious persecution, although it is admittedly less than in more despotic governments. But the fact remains that Islam has not proven itself capable of tolerance toward non-Islamic religions in any of these places, even in India, where Islam is in the minority. It may well do so, but until then this matter must remain in doubt.
There is, of course, a sense in which all cultures, even those informed by Christianity, are subject to the perfectionist influences that I noted above. This is because even Christians do not fully trust the grace that we profess, and are constantly tempted to justify ourselves. This was visibly the case with the mediaeval Catholic monarchies, but is even evident in the most thoroughly protestant countries after the Reformation. Nevertheless, I think that only under Christianity can democracy prosper.
My support for democracy in Islamic countries is thus diametrically opposite to that expressed by Mr. Hanson. If democracy is only possible under Christianity, it is also true that Christianity has the best chance of thriving, and therefore dominating, within a democracy. Like many real-world processes, the two have a mutually reinforcing feed-back relationship that amounts, absent outside obstacles, to a virtuous circle. It is therefore in order to promote Christianity that I support democracy.
I am well aware that this thesis has yet to bear fruit in history. But that is what makes these times so interesting, hmm?

All's I can say is I hope Jack never has a "major quibble" with me.

But seriously folks, doesn't that post on geopolitical affairs follow nicely from the post below where Someguy talked about the personal affairs of Terri Schiavo and Hunter S. Thompson?


I thought my man Someguy, over at Mystery Achievement, really hit the nail on the head with this post:

What is it that makes so many of us rush towards death with a determination to drag others along in our wake? Do we in some fashion project onto others our own inability to any longer bear our reflections in the mirror? Or is it that our response to our inability to realize some sort of human perfection via human means is limited either to destroying ourselves out of spite, or destroying anyone or anything that reminds us of how short of omnipotence we fall?These are some of the questions running through my mind as I think about Hunter and Terri.
Hunter S. Thompson took his own life at the age of 67. As Mark C.N. Sullivan notes in his post:
"That Hunter S. Thompson made it to 67 is itself remarkable."
And James Lileks neatly sums up my own feelings about the man and his later work:

A great writer in his prime, but the DVD of his career would have the last two decades on the disc reserved for outtakes and bloopers. It was all bile and spittle at the end, and it was hard to read the work without smelling the dank sweat of someone consumed by confusion, anger, sudden drunken certainties and the horrible fear that when he sat down to write, he could only muster a pale parody of someone else’s satirical version of his infamous middle period.
But even after that period, Thompson was one of my favorite writers. At his best, he was a master storyteller whose strikingly original prose and use of language were Good and at times even Great--something that Trudeau's cruelly-drawn caricature for the chattering classes never came close to capturing.
I still recall an interview he did with Rolling Stone when he said that the best thing you could do for a child was get him to read. When the love of language and literature was his muse, his writing was a marvel of astute observation and original expression. What I think might have happened--and what James Lileks captures beautifully but sadly--is along the lines of what happened to Morgoth when he stole the Silmarils; or to Sauron in the ruin of Numenor. Neither were ever able again to assume outwardly pleasing forms.
Whether from drink, drugs, a worldview with disdain for any condition that wasn't chaos--or some combination of all of the above--Thompson's persona ended up stuck in one gear. Sometime back, his love of language fled and took his muse with it. And whenever someone loses both his true love and the hope of ever finding it again, we should not be surprised if he asks himself whether life is still worth living.
The case of Terri Schiavo is, in a sense, the same thing only with the telescope pointed outward rather than inward. How else to explain the decisions of courts on the fate of a human life that should terrify any sane observer with their Orwellian intrusiveness and naked seizure of power? How else to explain their alacrity and perserverence in carrying out this decision, while people convicted of murder sit on death row for years? Do we really imagine that there is no possible way that any one of us could ever end up like Terri, with our fate in the hands of such people? Or, in so realizing it, do we prefer to destroy any reminders of such a possibility?
I titled this post "Pride" because of Someguy's question about whether we get angry, and set to destroying others and ourselves, because of our lack of ability to achieve perfection. The answer is, of course, yes.
I, more than most probably, suffer from this problem, as I am an odd sort of perfectionist myself. I never feel like I'm living up to some strange standard I carry within myself. And, for some reason, I find it very hard to let go of the reins, and let God, in His Mercy, comfort me. No, most of the time, I'd rather keep the illusion of my omnipotence and sacrifice the blessings of God.
Anyway, I think this is what the Bible means when it says "The wages of sin is death."

Germany Is On The Wrong Side Of History
Says The German Paper Der Spiegel

From Der Spiegel, via No Pasaran:

This, in fact, is likely the largest point of disagreement between Europe and the United States -- and one that a President John Kerry likely would not have made smaller: Europeans today -- just like the Europeans of 1987 -- cannot imagine that the world might change. Maybe we don't want the world to change, because change can, of course, be dangerous. But in a country of immigrants like the United States, one actually pushes for change. In Mainz today, the stagnant Europeans came face to face with the dynamic Americans. We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow.

That sounds suspiciously like an apology without the "I'm sorry". You know, really, that's good enough for me. Now, we just need about a half a billion more of those and we'll be all settled up.

The Tipping Point

Tom Friedman and Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point) had a discussion of Nightline about the possibility of whether we are currently at a Tipping Point towards democracy in the Middle East. From Front Page Magazine:

TED KOPPEL: Malcolm, is it ever possible to view the tipping point in anything other than a rear-view mirror? In other words, can you see it when it's happening?
MALCOLM GLADWELL: Sometimes. Of course, it's easiest to see these kinds of things in retrospect. But I think there are moments, and occasions, when it is obvious to us when we're going through one of these kind of cataclysmic shifts. And I think there are -- I mean, I think, clearly the reason we're here is that we have a very, very strong suspicion that what's going on in Iraq right now with the election is such a shift. I mean, I think we can develop a strong suspicion that this is something worth examining and watching.
TK: All right. Tom Friedman is clearly the expert on that region. But before we go to Tom, Malcolm I'd like you to sort of spell out for us, if you can, what some of the factors are that might cause you, as the developer or one of the developers of the theory of the tipping point, that might cause you to believe that what happened last month with the elections meets the necessary standards.
MG: Well, the most important thing in trying to analyze whether something is at the verge of a tipping point, is whether it -an event causes people to reframe an issue. So, for example, an example of reframing is -- a dumb example is the Atkins' diet, which reframes dieting from thinking about it in terms of avoiding calories and fat to thinking about it as avoiding carbohydrates. Which really changes the way people perceive dieting. It becomes a much simpler concept to handle, a much simpler strategy to follow.
TK: All right. Let's look at the elections last month. And Tom Friedman, I'm an avid reader of your column. So, I know that you, in fact, believe that something fundamental has shifted here. Have we reframed the way we think about Iraq, as seen through the prism of those elections? And if so, why?
TOM FRIEDMAN: I think we have, Ted. And I like the way Malcolm really defined the tipping point as a reframing. I would argue that before the election in Iraq, Iraq was perceived -- the meta-story in Iraq was "Iraqi insurgents, against American occupiers and their Iraqi lackeys." I would argue after the election, the whole issue in Iraq has been reframed much more as a civil war between a tiny Jihadist insurgency and Baathist insurgency, against what is clearly an overwhelming Iraqi majority that aspires to some form of constitutionalism and pluralism. I think for it to successfully reframe the issue, the insurgency has to be defeated now by that Iraqi majority.
TK: All right. So, it may or may not be the tipping point. Malcolm, let me come back to you and ask you whether in the course of events -- and let me use a sports analogy: in an exciting football game or an exciting basketball game, there can be half a dozen tipping points. They can turn it first in favor of one team and then back again in favor of another team. When one talks about the tipping point, as you do in your book, it suggests that there's one and that's it. But that's not the way life is.
MG: Yeah. No. There's no question that -- what the whole idea is behind the tipping point is that systems, organizations, institutions, situations, are far more volatile than they appear. So, I think we always have to be on-guard, under the notion. Once we granted the inherent volatility of situations, on guard against the notion that things could go in the other direction just as quickly.
TK: Tom, let me ask you to look at what's been happening over the last two years. ... and point out to me, if you will, where you think the tipping points have gone over the past couple of years. And why you think this one may be "the" rather than simply "a" tipping point.
TF: Well, for me, Ted, as someone who is following this issue, I had my own tipping point in my head, what I was looking for. And I was looking for two things. One was an Iraqi majority that was ready to come together and claim ownership of Iraq. Number one. And for that, we needed an election. And then, that same majority being willing to fight and die for it. And it seemed to me that to have a unified -a decent Iraq, we really required those two things. And that's why, when the election happened, I, for one, you know, was very excited about it because I felt I was seeing the necessary but still not sufficient. Now, this majority's going to have to fight or negotiate to see that its will is sustained for Iraq to really have that outcome we want.

I pretty much agree with Thomas Friedman on this. Yeah, the election looks like a tipping point, but we don't really know yet. The election of an Islamist to Prime Ministership doesn't make me feel all warm and gooey, that's for sure. But events in Syria and Lebanon are seemingly very positive.

The key is what happens in Iran. Will we allow them to develop nuclear weapons? That would be a real "Tipping Point".

The Net Value Of The Charm Offensive?

From World Net Daily:

President Bush went to Europe to launch what has been billed as a "fence-mending charm offensive" designed to heal the "transatlantic rift" existing between Washington and the leaders of the Western European Alliance.

The "rift" was caused when the Europeans refused Washington's call for assistance in both the 2003 invasion and the post-war reconstruction of Iraq.

The "rift" opened even further when post-war documents established that those same European leaders were part of a multibillion dollar ripoff of the Iraqi people and that Europe's opposition was rooted in a conspiracy to keep Saddam in power and the kickbacks flowing freely.
What was a rift became a fissure, and finally, an open chasm, when the Iraqis themselves defied European predictions that Iraqis were incapable of appreciating or grasping the concept of democratic self-rule.

After the European self-delusion of superior political and diplomatic maturity was exposed, somehow, it became the responsibility of the United States to extend its hand across the Atlantic to grasp the European hand only recently removed from the knife in Uncle Sam's back.

The European press – while less vitriolic in its criticism of President Bush than it was when it delighted in reporting the mass mooning of the president by demonstrators during a previous visit – was still critical of the American president's "unapologetic" (some said "defiant") attitude regarding the Iraq War, and continuing U.S. opposition to giving nuclear material to Iran and lifting technology sanctions against Red China.

The president tried to spin the trip as a success by pointing out that, at long last, France, Germany and Belgium have joined the alliance to reconstruct Iraq.

France agreed to aid in training Iraqi police, offering to send a single French national to Belgium, where he will serve as a coordinator in transferring unspecified "equipment" to the Iraqi security services.

Germany agreed to aid in training Iraqi troops as well, provided the Iraqis can come to the United Arab Emirates, since Germany won't send any of its troops to Iraq.

Belgium, not to be outdone by French and German cooperation, promised to send 10 driving instructors to Qatar, where, if they find any Iraqi police officers walking around, they will teach them how to drive back to Baghdad.

And tiny Estonia also made the list of European donors, offering to send a single staff officer to Iraq, equipped with a reconstruction budget of $65,000. It is unclear whether that amount is over and above, or if it includes, the staff officer's salary and expenses. (But at least Belgium can brag it has [a] troop on the ground in Iraq.)

Overall, as a consequence of President Bush's fence-mending tour, the assembled heads of the European Community met at NATO headquarters to announce a joint pledge of just over $5 million to offset America's $5 billion commitment to aid the Iraqi people.

Given the price tag for security and travel for the president and his entourage, the E.U. pledge should come to just about half what it cost the United States to ask for it.

I think it's important for us Americans to be aware of these facts, but I don't think Bush expected anything more. I really believe there's more going on behind the scenes. For one, France is uniting with the U.S. in calling for Syria to remove it's troops from Lebanon. For two, I believe Bush went to Europe to drop a big (albeit behind-closed-doors) hint to the leaders of Europe that Iran is in big trouble.

Hey, I could be wrong. But, think about it. It certainly isn't going to hurt us if Chirac goes and tells Iran that we're headed their way. I believe that while the last three years have been years of great change in our world, 2005 is going to be more astonishing.

Dry Brush Just Waiting For A Spark

From the International Herald Tribune:

Racist incidents jarring the French

By Katrin Bennhold International Herald Tribune Thursday, February 24, 2005
PARIS Swastikas on the walls of a Paris mosque. An arson attack on a railway carriage commemorating French Jews who were deported to Nazi camps in World War II. Blatant anti-Semitic comments by a comedian.
A recent string of racist incidents in France has shaken the political establishment at a time when the country is battling its image abroad as a country where anti-Semitism is making a powerful comeback and anti-Arab sentiments are rising.
President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday telephoned Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, condemning the neo-Nazi graffiti that was discovered on the outer wall of the mosque a day earlier. The building had been defaced with a dozen black swastikas as well as the insignia of Hitler's SS and the words "Get out!"
On Monday, Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin visited Drancy, outside Paris, where a gasoline bomb had charred a wooden rail car. During the war, the town was a transit point from which the Gestapo and the French occupation government deported Jews by train to concentration camps.
But those incidents have been eclipsed by an uproar over comments by Dieudonné, a black French comedian, who described the recent commemorations of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp as "pornographic."
Justice Minister Dominique Perben has called for a preliminary inquiry into whether repeated anti-Jewish comments by Dieudonné constituted the punishable offense of "contestation of crimes against humanity." The comedian, the son of a French mother and a Cameroonian father, has been widely popular but was first criticized in late 2003 for a television sketch deemed anti-Semitic. He has now been nearly universally condemned for the latest comments, which he made at a press conference in Algiers last week. Two French journalists taped the comments and posted them on the Web. Among other things, Dieudonné called France's main Jewish organization a "band of criminals." Three days later, at a Paris press conference, he declared Zionism to be "the AIDS of Judaism."
Underlying the outrage is the fact that some of Dieudonné's comments may have resonance for France's ethnic minorities. In Algiers, he argued that while funds were readily available for films about the Holocaust, he could not get funding for a film on the slave trade. He said war had been declared on the black world, "and they are trying to make us weep" about the fate of Jews.
Christophe Bertossi, a specialist on Immigration at the French Institute for International Relations in Paris, described the recent incidents here as "symptoms of the same crisis."
Home to Western Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish communities, France is also home to a concept of equality that makes it a taboo to distinguish among citizens on the basis of race or religion. Behind this veil of equality, discrimination has flourished, feeding racial divisions and hindering opportunity for immigrants.
"There is a color bar in French society, but the Republican concept of equality is blind to this reality," Bertossi said. "That means you have no concrete means of tackling the problem, you just deny it."
A third of some six million French residents of North African descent live in suburban ghettos where joblessness is widespread, according to the Paris-based Montaigne Institute. And a recent study by the institute showed that unemployment among Algerians and Moroccans, the largest immigrant groups, is above the 30 percent mark, three times as high as the nationwide rate. Meanwhile, despite the French government's support for the Palestinian cause, anti-Jewish attacks committed by Arabs in France have escalated in recent years. Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, last year called on French Jews to emigrate to Israel.

Europe is such a tolerant culture.

You can be pretty darn sure it wasn't Jews who defaced the Mosque. I'm guessing it was some white French boys 15-28 years old. I'm guessing they feel that their country is being overrun by immigrants who care nothing for "French culture".

Unfair of me to say? Perhaps.

Ward Churchill Has Got To Go

Ward Churchill has been caught on tape advocating terrorist actions against the government and the murder of American citizensFrom Michelle Malkin:

Ward Churchill: If you are Arab, for example, you are automatically profiled as a potential terrorist. Period. And you can be asked to leave a plane because some Nordic-looking woman two rows down tells the stewardess she’s not comfortable with you being there—her presence makes her uncomfortable—why?
And why by the way did it take Arabs to do what people here should have done a long time ago?
Question from audience: You mentioned a little bit ago, ‘Why did it take a bunch of Arabs to do what you all should have done a long time ago,’ that’s my question.

And as a white man standing here in your midst from a fairly liberal/conservative/middle of the road background—and I tell people I’m so far left I’m coming up on the rigt—and I’d like you to respond to, why shouldn’t we do something and how could we move so they don’t see us coming?

Churchill: I’m gonna repeat that, tell me if I got that right: Why shouldn’t we do something and how do you you move so they don’t see you coming.

As to the first part, not a reason in the world that I could see. I can’t find a single reason that you shouldn’t in a principled way—there may be some practical considerations, such as do you know how (laughter from audience)—you know, often these things are processes. It’s not just an impulse. And certainly it’s not just an event. And the simple answer, although it probably should be more complicated, but I’m not being flip and giving the simple answer, is: You carry the weapon. That’s how they don’t see it coming.

You’re the one…They talk about ‘color blind or blind to your color.’ You said it yourself.
You don’t send the Black Liberation Army into Wall Street to conduct an action.You don’t send the American Indian Movement into downtown Seattle to conduct an action. Who do you send? You. Your beard shaved, your hair cut close, and wearing a banker’s suit.
There’s probably a whole lot more to it, you know that. But there’s where you start.

I never agreed with those who thought Churchill should be fired. I'm pretty much an absolutist when it comes to free speech. But, I draw the line at advocating murder. I recognize that many times it is difficult to distinguish when someone is actively advocating murder, versus theoretically advocating murder. But, to my mind, this is a clear cut case.

Ward Churchill should not only be fired from his job as a Professor, he should also be removed from society altogether.

We can be pretty sure that a man who would casually tell an audience of people that they should kill American citizens, in the interest of overthrowing the American government, is very likely actively plotting with people behind the scenes to do the same thing. Or, at the very least, knows people who are.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Not Dead Yet
But Getting There

You know you're getting old when you start saying stuff like this:

BOB DYLAN has launched a withering attack on contemporary rock bands in the programme notes for his latest American tour.

"I know there are groups at the top of the charts that are hailed as the saviours of rock'n'roll and all that, but they are amateurs. They don't know where the music comes from," he wrote, adding, “I wouldn't even think about playing music if I was born in these times... I'd probably turn to something like mathematics. That would interest me. Architecture would interest me. Something like that."

I am a big Dylan fan, but really, this is just stupid. Recently, a friend asked me if I wanted to go see Dylan. I was considering it. Now, there is no way I will go. I really don't like bitter old people who think the old days were better.

There's a lot of great music coming out these days. Check out Radiohead, Jet, Muse, Wilco, Ryan Adams, Starsailor, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Moby. Heck, I don't even pay that much attention to pop music anymore and I know about all those people.

I always admired Miles Davis. No matter how old and decrepit he got, he was still excited about what was going on in the world, and innovating from where things stood in the present. Dylan's last great album was Time Out Of Mind, on which the only innovation was provided by Producer Daniel Lanois.

I'm really disappointed in old Zimmy.

A Call For Moderate Muslims
To Take The Lead In The War On Terror

From Kamal Nawash, in Front Page Magazine:

Muslim-bashing. That's the accusation many of my fellow Muslims now hurl at the various news outlets for their news stories about a Freedom House investigation that found extremist Islamic literature in some leading American mosques. This name-calling is unfortunate.

Since 1980, the Muslim world has experienced an enormous growth of religious fanaticism and extremism the likes of which Islam has not experienced in its 1,400 years. This movement continues to grow because of the spread of Wahhabi Islam; a sect that used to number no more than one percent of all Muslims, but because of money and technology, has spread to more areas around the world.

Extremism is also growing because of an ideology called political Islam. The basis of political Islam is the rejection of secularism and the belief that the mosque and the state should be completely intertwined. Unfortunately, history has shown that when politics and religion are completelyintertwined, disaster results.

Most importantly, extremism in the Muslim world continues to grow because most Muslims are unwilling to admit that we have a problem with extremism and support for terrorism. The response by Muslims to the Freedom House report is not the first time that the Muslim community resorted to denial and accusations of Muslim-bashing when presented with evidence of Muslim culpability.

After September 11, many in the Muslim world chose denial and hallucination rather than face up to the sad fact that Muslims perpetrated the 9/11 terrorist acts. After 9/11, many Muslims, including religious leaders and "intellectuals," blamed 9/11 on a Jewish conspiracy, and went as far as fabricating a tale that 4,000 Jews did not show up for work in the World Trade Center on that day.

Since 9/11, the world has watched in horror as hundreds of schoolchildren were murdered in Russia by Chechen Muslim terrorists. Scores of civilians were murdered by Islamic terrorists in Spanish train bombings. Many others have been murdered in suicide bombings in buses, restaurants and other public places, human beings have been beheaded, two Russian passenger planes were blown out of the sky, and many, many atrocities that are too long to mention. All carried out by Muslims.

With all the evidence that Islam is facing a crisis, one wonders what it will take for Muslims to realize that those who commit mass murder in the name of Islam are not just a few fringe elements. What will it take for Muslims to realize that we are facing a crisis potentially more deadly than the AIDS epidemic? What will it take for Muslims to realize that there is a large, evil movement that is turning what was a peaceful religion into a death cult?

Will Muslims wake up before it is too late? Or will we continue blaming an imaginary Jewish conspiracy and entities like The Dallas Morning News for all our problems? The blaming of all Muslim problems on others is a cancer that is destroying Muslim society. And it must stop.

Only moderate Muslims can challenge and defeat extremist Muslims. We can no longer afford to be silent. If we remain silent to the extremism within our community, then we should not expect anyone to listen to us when we complain of stereotyping and discrimination by non-Muslims. We should not be surprised when the world treats all of us as terrorists. And we should not be surprised when we are profiled at airports.

Simply put, not only do Muslims need to join the war against extremism and terror, we need to take the lead in this war.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Jacques Derrida Asks
What If God Was One Of Us?

From Inside Higher Ed:

Among the scores of books and essays that Derrida published over the final 15 years of his life, "Force of Law" looms as one of the most important. In 2003, not long before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Derrida published a book on the possibility of global democracy called Rogues, just released in an English translation from Stanford University Press. ... "Force of Law" (was) almost a prerequisite to understanding Derrida's final book.

"What is currently called deconstruction," said Derrida in 1989, "would not at all correspond (though certain people have an interest in spreading this confusion) to a quasi-nihilistic abdication before the ethico-politico-juridical question of justice and before the opposition between just and unjust...."

His goal, in effect, is to point to a notion of justice that would be higher than any given code of laws. Likewise, in other late writings, Derrida seeks to define a notion of forgiveness that would be able to grapple with the unforgivable. And, he asks, might it be the case that Levantine traditions of hospitality (of welcoming the Other into one's home) transcend more modern conceptions of ethics?

For someone constantly accused of relativism, Derrida often sounds in these late works like a man haunted by the absolute. There is a sense in which, although he was an atheist, he practiced what a medieval scholar might have recognized as "negative theology" -- an effort to define the nature of God by cutting away all the misleading conceptions imposed by the limits of human understanding.

The implications were political, at least in some very abstract sense. In his keynote talk at the American Academy of Religion in 2002, Derrida proposed a notion of God that, in effect, utterly capsized the familiar world of monotheism by stripping it of all our usual understandings of divine authority. Suppose God were not the all powerful king of the universe (the image that even an atheist is prone to imagine upon hearing the name "God"). Suppose, rather, that God were infinitely weak, utterly vulnerable. What then?

Yeah, just imagine (from Isaiah 53):

3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

I would like to also mention that these other ideas Derrida was playing with, in his later life, were also directly from the Bible and the Judeo-Christian tradition. The idea that there would be "a notion of justice that would be higher than any given code of laws" (Galatians 5:14):

14The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The idea that one can find God, or the absolute through the negative way, or the "via negativa", was pioneered by such Christian mystics as Pseudo-Dionysus and Meister Eckhardt, and can be summed up thusly:

Apophatic (un-saying) theology -This theology says that God is not any of the things that he is called. Apophatic theology commonly uses negative words (via negativa), beginning in or im, than positive words:God is invisible, infinite, incomprehensible, immortal.

Some apophatic mystics have described being "pierced by darkness" and living in a "cloud of unknowing". I myself wrote a poem (admittedly crap, but I was only, like, 17 at the time, so you don't have to tell me about it) which went a little something like this:

Confront the Light, Attack the Light
The Light will not fail
All that will happen is we'll shatter the illusion
And finally see beyond the veil

My opinion is, the via negativa is the direct way to find God. The via negativa says, tell God about your doubts and disappointments. Tell Him you are angry with Him. Tell Him that you don't understand. Because in so doing you are expressing the fact that He is real. The Lord will provide. You can be sure of that. By confronting and attacking your doubts, you will find your way through them.

Anyway, enough of the theology study, huh? I ain't exactly an expert.

So, Derrida was working within the Christian tradition whether he wanted to admit it or not, whether he was an atheist or not. It certainly sounds like he was searching for something he could not find. That is sad. However, it sounds like all his thoughts were leading towards a big celebratory "Thank You". I hope he was able to utter those words. "Thank You" is a phrase that's hard to deconstruct, even for God. Thank You, it seems, is the rock that God made that is so big, even He can't move it.

UPDATE: Reader Lynn writes in with a great comment:

The interesting thing to me is that when we express to God our doubts, our anger, our uncertainties, we are affirming God exists. But we are also bringing our false images of God...for God to dispel.

Often our anger, doubts, etc. are based on our human presuppositions about God...not based on who God really is. When we come and reason together with God (as Isaiah 1:18 invites) He teaches us the reality of who He is...which is much larger and more creative than our human minds can fathom.

I think this is why, great thinkers, like Derrida eventually come to the end of their own thinking and ultimately end up with the Divine. If God is indescribable...then perhaps those who spend all of their words trying to prove that there is no God, once they have nothing more to say, realize who God is in what cannot be said.

UPDATE II: Reader tvd says:

After Derrida deconstructed everything he could get his hands on, still, he found himself left with something there. The closest he could come was in identifying a manifestation of that "something," justice, as a universal value. But he found a universal value, and it only takes one to pull us back from the abyss.

Lynne Stewart And
The End of Resistance

From the Evil Pundit of Doom:

In many ways, the case of Lynne Stewart is a microcosm of the Left.

Dedicated to social justice and the assistance of the oppressed, she expanded her concept of the underdog until it included anyone at all who was opposed to the "establishment". Thus she came through gradual stages to a position where she supported terrorists and criminals -- first by way of legal assistance, then with increasing sympathy, and finally with active collaboration.

That she ended up on the side of the Islamofascists who would destroy democracy and eliminate all women's rights, demonstrates the peril of following an ideology of resistance too far.

Go Evil Pundit, go. Evil Pundit is a superhero of truth.

George Washington And The Jews
Everyone Shall Sit In Safety
Under His Own Vine and Figtree

On this day, George Washington's birthday, here' a reminder from Powerline, of what a great Father he was for our country:

In anticipation of Washington's visit to Newport, the members of America's oldest Jewish congregation prepared a letter welcoming Washington for presentation to him at a public event on the morning of August 18. The letter was authorized by the congregation's board and signed by its president, Moses Seixas.
By far the most striking feature of the congregation's letter is its expression of sheer gratitude both to Washington himself and to America for the religious freedom it afforded. Here is the congregation's letter:
Permit the children of the stock of Abraham to approach you with the most cordial affection and esteem for your person and merits ~~ and to join with our fellow citizens in welcoming you to NewPort.

With pleasure we reflect on those days ~~ those days of difficulty, and danger, when the God of Israel, who delivered David from the peril of the sword, ~~ shielded Your head in the day of battle: ~~ and we rejoice to think, that the same Spirit, who rested in the Bosom of the greatly beloved Daniel enabling him to preside over the Provinces of the Babylonish Empire, rests and ever will rest, upon you, enabling you to discharge the arduous duties of Chief Magistrate in these States.

Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People ~~ a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance ~~ but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: ~~ deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine: ~~ This so ample and extensive Federal Union whose basis is Philanthropy, Mutual confidence and Public Virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatever seemeth him good.

For all these Blessings of civil and religious liberty which we enjoy under an equal benign administration, we desire to send up our thanks to the Ancient of Days, the great preserver of Men ~~beseeching him, that the Angel who conducted our forefathers through the wilderness into the promised Land, may graciously conduct you through all the difficulties and dangers of this mortal life: ~~ And, when, like Joshua full of days and full of honour, you are gathered to your Fathers, may you be admitted into the Heavenly Paradise to partake of the water of life, and the tree of immortality.

Done and Signed by order of the Hebrew Congregation in NewPort, Rhode Island August 17th 1790.Moses Seixas, Warden

And here is Washington's response:

To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island.


While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport, from all classes of Citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet, from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people.

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

Of course, it is not quite true that our government gave no quarter to bigotry. But, it is true that we can be proud that the Jews have been treated better here in America, then they ever have been treated by any people in history.

Thou Shalt Not Murder

The following is from the Pro-Life Blogs Administration, and I agree with them absolutely on this:

Today, the courts rejected the pleas of Terri's parents to stop herhusband, Michael, from withholding food and water from her. He haspromised to begin starving her tomorrow at 1 pm.

Most of you are aware that Terri is not a "vegetable" or "brain-dead"as Michael and his lawyers claim, but responds to others and is awareof her surroundings. She laughs, smiles and, according to her nurses, has a small vocabulary.

Terri is not on life support and is healthy. She needs help eating andis fed through a tube (helping someone eat and drink who is impairedhas never been considered artificial life support).

While Michael asserts he is carrying out Terri's wishes, he waiteduntil after he received a large sum of money from a lawsuit againsther doctors before making this claim . During the lawsuit, he allegednegligence and motivated a financial award with the potential cost ofTerri's rehabilitation.

However, Terri has been denied rehabilitation that experts testifycould allow her to eat and talk. The courts in Florida haveconsistently blocked appeals to give Terri proper tests and therapythat would improve her life.Terri may not have the capabilities she once had, but she is no lessvaluable and no less a person.Here is what you can do to help Terri:Pray for Terri and her family.

Blog - communicate the truth about what is going on and rally supportfor Terri and the Schindlers.

Visit BlogsforTerri ( for information and tojoin the team of blogs for Terri.Deluge Gov. Jeb Bush with emails and phone calls. He has the power tointervene. Here is his contact information:

Governor Jeb Bush

The only thing I would question here is whether it will be fruitful to deluge Jeb Bush with requests for help. I sent him an email, saying, "Thanks for sticking up for Terri." Because he has.

I think it's out of his hands now. Short of strapping on his cowboy hat and six-shooter and going down to the hospital and physically fending off those who would murder her, Governor Bush doesn't have the authority to do anything.

Next stop, Supreme Court. God willing.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Democracy or Bust

The past several weeks have looked good for the spread of Democracy in the Middle East. Beginning with the elections in the Palestinian Authority, which bring new hopes for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, then moving to the thrilling elections in Iraq, and then on to the news from Lebanon today of thousands marching in the streets against the Syrian occupation, and now this (thanks to LGF):

Hundreds of protesters have staged a demonstration against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. It was the largest such rally in a series of anti-government protests which began in December. Thousands of riot police stood by as the protesters chanted “No to Mubarak”, but they did not intervene.

Campaigners are opposed to Mr Mubarak seeking a fifth six-year term and are urging freer presidential elections.

The recent cascade of events reminds me of the heady days of Perestroika, and the eventual collapse of Communism, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, circa 1987-89. However, before we get too excited about this news, there are a few factors to take into account. As Charles Johnson of LGF notes:

The danger here is that by opening their long moribund systems to participatory democracy, countries like Egypt and Lebanon risk having Islamist parties stage a bloodless coup by election. We can only hope that in the long term, the power of freedom will overcome these totalitarian forces, and that the people of the Middle East won’t blow this historic chance.

Yes, that is one of the dangers. However, news out of Iraq since the election seems to indicate that the Iraqi's just may have elected themselves the makings of a real working Democracy. The twin gifts of the Iraqi election; that the Shiites did not win a majority, and that the the Kurdish party made a very strong showing, mean that coalition-building will be a must, in order to get anything done in the new Iraqi government. That is good news.

It remains to be seen, however, what will happen in Lebanon. There are very serious, possibly even grave, forces at work against Lebanon at this time. Perhaps understanding that they can't afford to risk yet another Middle-East nation slouching towards Democracy, the mullahs of Iran have announced their solidarity with Syria. One would imagine this solidarity goes both ways. For Iran also surely knows it needs an ally, in the event that it is attacked by either the United States or Israel, who are both intent on making sure that the mullahs do not complete their "Manhattan Project".

Earlier this week President Bush signaled U.S. solidarity with Israel saying,

"... if I was the leader of Israel, and I listened to some of the statements by the Iranian ayatollahs about — that regarded my security of my country, I’d be concerned about Iran having a nuclear weapon, as well. And in that Israel is our ally, and in that we’ve made a very strong commitment to support Israel, we will support Israel if — if there’s a — if their security is threatened."

So, The alliances of the next stage of the War on Terror are clearly delineated.

Meanwhile Iran announced, this past week, that the United States has been flying drone aircraft into Iranian airspace for months, in order to collect intelligence on their anti-aircraft and nuclear systems. The United States has not denied this.

As noted today on this blog, Israel is "prepared" to attack Iran in an attempt to take out their nuclear facilities. The comments of the Israeli Air Force Commander, General Eliezar Shakedi would seem to indicate that he believes they can succeed in their objective. If they do, then that stage of the War would likely be over and done with in one evening. It is unlikely that Iran, left without it's prized nuclear capabilities, would think it wise to risk the possibility of the all-out war with the United States which would likely follow, were they to attack Israel.

However, if Israel were to fail in their attempt to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities, the world would very possibly be in for a war unlike any previous war. Depending upon how close Iran is to completing their nuclear weapons, they might choose to sit back for a few months, and not respond, until their ultimate weapons are ready for usage. I am guessing this would run counter to U.S. strategy. It would seem that the United States would hope that Iran would retaliate in some limited fashion, so that we would be given justification to intervene.

Whatever happens, these are interesting times.

Israeli Air Force Commander Says
Israel Must Be Prepared to Attack Iran

From Haaretz:

Israel Air Force Commander-in-Chief Major General Eliezer Shakedi said Monday that Israel must be prepared for an air strike on Iran in light of its nuclear activity.
But in a meeting with reporters, Shakedi wouldn't say whether he thought Israel was capable of carrying out such a mission alone, as it did when it bombed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981.
When asked whether Israel has a plan for the Iranian nuclear program, Shakedi replied, "You know that for obvious reasons, I won't say even a word."
But when asked whether he was confident the air force could provide the answer to the Iranian threat, Shakedi replied, "I must be prepared for everything."

Lebanese Protest in Streets Against Syria Posted by Hello

"Independance Uprising" In Lebanon

From AP, via Powerline:

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Tens of thousands marched Monday in the biggest anti-Syrian protest in Lebanese history amid signals that Syria will soon withdraw its troops from parts of the country. President Bush (news - web sites) renewed demands for Syrian forces to leave Lebanon immediately.

The protest marked one week since the Feb. 14 death of Rafik Hariri and began at the bomb-scarred site of the former prime minister's assassination, which turned many Lebanese against Syria and increased international pressure on Damascus to extract its army from Lebanon.

Holding aloft red roses and Lebanese flags, the throngs on the streets shouted insults at Syria and demanded the resignation of the pro-Syrian government in a march that began at the seaside site where Hariri and 16 others were killed and ended at his grave in the city center.

The protesters wore scarves of red and white — the colors of Lebanon's flag — which have become the symbol of the opposition's "independence uprising," described as a peaceful campaign to dislodge the government and force the Syrian army out of Lebanon.

Hariri's assassination has brought Lebanese together and strengthened the opposition, but it was unclear if the momentum would force a change in government or push the Syrian army out of the country.

Another former prime minister Gen. Michel Aoun, said Monday he would return from exile before this year's parliamentary elections and that he may launch his own candidacy if the opposition needs his support. The former commander of the Lebanese army fled the country in 1990.

"I will return before the legislative elections, probably by mid-April," Aoun told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Paris. "And if the situation is critical for the opposition in a region, then I will throw in my personal weight and run in the elections."

As the demonstration was under way in Beirut, Bush issued a strong warning to Syria from Brussels, saying Damascus "must end its occupation of Lebanon."

In Damascus, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said Syrian President Bashar Assad affirmed during a meeting that his country will "soon" take steps to withdraw its army from Lebanese areas in line with a 1989 agreement. It was not clear whether that meant Syria would completely leave Lebanon.

This "Independance Uprising" is a residual effect of America's "cowboy-like" policies. Our "imperialism" has spread democracy to two countries already in the past two years, and now a third country is threatened with democracy.

We live in frightening times, and we have Bushitler to thank for it.