Thursday, February 28, 2002
Mark Steyn of Canada's National Post has a great piece in today's paper about the murder or Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and the moderate Muslim world's complicity with radical Islamists.
Let's assume that all the chips fell the jihadis' way, that they recruited enough volunteers to be able to kidnap and decapitate every single Jew in Palestine. Then what? Muslims would still be, as General Musharraf told a conference the other day, "the poorest, the most illiterate, the most backward, the most unhealthy, the most unenlightened, the most deprived, and the weakest of all the human race." Who would "the victim of the world" blame next? The evidence of the Sudan, Nigeria, and other parts of Africa suggests that, when there are no Jews to hand, the Islamofascists happily make do with killing Christians. In Kashmir, it's the Hindus' fault. There's always someone.
Much of America rejects this whole idea of racial or religious victimhood (those few wackos who want reparations paid for slavery notably excepted), but it has been the norm for much of the Muslim world for decades. Always someone else (Jews and Americans) is to blame for poverty, decadence, etc.
It's not true, but until they figure out that they are responsible for themselves, radical Islamists will always have an open door and Americans and Israelis will have to live with terror.
South Carolina Sen. Fritz Hollings appears to be more senile than Strom Thurmond -- and that's saying something. Today, during a press conference, Hollings mixed up Attorney General John Ashcroft and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. That takes some doing, because Abraham is Arab and Ashcroft's a honky from Missouri.
Then Hollings took a page from Oliver Stone's book and said that the Bush administration allowed Usama bin Laden to use offshore tax havens to funnel money to the Sept. 11 hijackers. If Hollings was a TV, he'd be on the Fritz.
Foxnews' "Special Report with Brit Hume" today reported alarming news. A study out of the University of Washington (U-Dub to the locals), found that parents are leaving their kids with unlicensed, uneducated and unsupervised child-care providers. Oh my gosh! What do they call these people? Well, grandparents, aunts and uncles, just to name a few. The professors in their ivory towers are worried that kids could fall behind, because these people, these grandparents, don't have the formal training in child development and early childhood education. One professor even said that these people don't know "modern discipline techniques."
I'm not sure that modern discipline techniques are necessary. You can ask my grandfather for verification, but the belt always seemed to instill discipline in me.
Wednesday, February 27, 2002
From today's "Best of the Web Today" at OpinionJournal.com:
Great Moments in Airport Security
Reader Dal Jeanis writes:
Regarding the three-year-old who was wanded: I had a similar experience flying with my two-year-old son to meet my wife in San Antonio. As well as wanding him, they made him take his shoes off! Well, in all honesty, he did fit the profile: a young single male with poor English skills traveling one-way.
Well, I missed it earlier in the week, but in Monday's Washington Post there was an article on some of the Muslim charter schools operating in the United States.
The article is disturbing. The kind of brainwashing and indoctrination that was once thought limited to madrassas in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia has come to America.
Eleventh-graders at the elite Islamic Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia study energy and matter in physics, write out differential equations in precalculus and read stories about slavery and the Puritans in English.
Then they file into their Islamic studies class, where the textbooks tell them the Day of Judgment can't come until Jesus Christ returns to Earth, breaks the cross and converts everyone to Islam, and until Muslims start attacking Jews.
Some of the Islamic schools appear to try to be teaching respect for other religions. However, they are burdened by a lack of Islamic studies books that speak of tolerance, instead having to use ones that might be found in the schools of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority. But these schools are trying. But there's one exception -- a Washington-area school funded by the government of Saudi Arabia.
The Islamic Saudi Academy does not require that U.S. history or government be taught, offering Arabic social studies as an alternative. Officials there said that only Saudis who intend to return home do not take U.S. history, though a handful of U.S.-born students who plan to stay in this country said they opted against it, too.
School officials would not allow reporters to attend classes. But a number of students described the classroom instruction and provided copies of textbooks.
Ali Al-Ahmed, whose Virginia-based Saudi Institute promotes religious tolerance in Saudi Arabia, has reviewed numerous textbooks used at the academy and said many passages promote hatred of non-Muslims and Shiite Muslims.
The 11th-grade textbook, for example, says one sign of the Day of Judgment will be that Muslims will fight and kill Jews, who will hide behind trees that say: "Oh Muslim, Oh servant of God, here is a Jew hiding behind me. Come here and kill him."
Several students of different ages, all of whom asked not to be identified, said that in Islamic studies, they are taught that it is better to shun and even to dislike Christians, Jews and Shiite Muslims.
Some teachers "focus more on hatred," said one teenager, who recited by memory the signs of the coming of the Day of Judgment. "They teach students that whatever is kuffar [non-Muslim], it is okay for you" to hurt or steal from that person.
And the Saudis are supposed to be our friends?
Tuesday, February 26, 2002
The New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, has been pilloried for months by The Wall Street Journal, among others, because of his two-faced columns on Enron and his questionable economic theories.
On Friday, Krugman took on the "Bush Tax Cut" with the following analysis:
Finally, there's line 47. You haven't heard about that, but you will.
Here's the story. The Bush administration didn't want to give those famous $300 rebate checks; its original plan would have pumped hardly any money into the economy last year. Under prodding from Democrats the plan was changed to incorporate immediate cash outlays. But those outlays were included only grudgingly, and with a catch: they really weren't rebates. Instead, they were merely advances on future tax cuts.
What that means is that most taxpayers, when they reach line 47 of their 1040's, will discover that they owe $300 more in taxes than they expected. In other words, the one piece of the Bush tax cut that probably did help the economy last year is about to be snatched away. The direct monetary impact will be significant; the psychological impact, as taxpayers realize that they've been misled, may be even greater.
Krugman must be getting his advice for filling out a tax form from the IRS help line. In fact, the Treasury Department made a point to issue a special tax information press release for the Times columnist.
Last summer Congress passed, and the President signed into law, a bill that provided immediate tax relief for taxpayers. The bill created a new 10% bracket that did not go into effect until January 1, 2002. In order to give taxpayers the benefit of the new 10% bracket immediately, Advance Payment checks were sent in the maximum amounts of $300 for singles, $500 for head of households, and $600 for married filing jointly.
Line 47 of Form 1040 (line 30 of Form 1040A and line 7 of Form 1040EZ) provides a Rate Reduction Credit for those taxpayers who did not get the maximum benefit from last summer's Advance Payments, and whose 2001 income or tax amounts qualify them for an additional amount.
Contrary to the column's assertion, last summer's checks did not reduce refunds or increase tax bills. In fact, the most recent figures show that the average amount for nearly 23 million refunds processed has actually increased by $232, to $2,210.
Taxpayers who received the maximum Advance Payment for their filing status should leave line 47 blank. The Advance Payment check they received last year is theirs to keep. Period.
Hopefully Krugman has an accountant doing his taxes. If he did them himself, he might end up overpaying. Even after the press release from the Treasury Department, Krugman continues to assert he was right in the first place in a note at the end of today's column.
My Feb. 22 column mentioned "line 47" in this year's 1040. What I said was correct, but has been subject to misinterpretation, most of it innocent, some of it deliberate. Let me say it another way: Most people think that they received both a rebate and a tax cut. But the rebate was only an advance on the tax cut; it must be counted against the refund you would otherwise receive. Hundreds of thousands of early filers have already gotten this wrong. The effect is to give many people a rude shock, which is not what this economy needs.
I knew last year that the $300 was "an advance on the tax cut," my father, the wise, (very) old and infirm former tax preparer informed me of this early on. Krugman's problem was due to the fact that he was in such a lather to bash Bush, that he got a little sloppy with his words. Don't listen to Krugman when it comes to how to fill out your tax returns. If you listen to him, many more taxpayers will get a visit from the tax man.
Edward Rapp of Inverness, Fla., scares me. His letter published in the New York Times will hopefully never come to pass, though it is just what many liberals want.
The country is moving in the right direction on cleaning up campaign financing. We should go further and start serious debate on public financing of campaigns.
"Clean money" reform is working in several states where a set amount of money is apportioned to candidates.
The McCain-Feingold and Shays- Meehan bills are merely steppingstones to true reform: public financing.
Inverness, Fla., Feb. 25, 2002
Public financing? Is this guy crazy? Does anyone seriously want to be taxed in order to fund the candidacy of someone like former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke? How about Rep. Gary Condit? Rep. James Traficant, who's on trial now for allegedly forcing his employees to kick-back portions of their salary to him?
Forcing people to fund candidates who they fundamentally oppose is not democracy. It's not right. And hopefully there are still enough people in Congress who will stand up for what is right.
Monday, February 25, 2002
Disappointed, but not surprised: If Chinese citizens wanted to hear all of what President Bush said last week, they better have watched it on television, because it's not appearing in the paper.
BEIJING -- The Chinese government responded to President Bush's call for religious tolerance Friday by promptly editing out his remarks on freedom and faith in its transcript of a speech that Bush delivered on live national television.
Before the U.S. leader had even boarded Air Force One to return to Washington on Friday afternoon, China's state-controlled media put out their version of the morning address, in which Bush spoke to an audience of university students.
Almost half the speech--large chunks extolling American liberty and urging China to relax its political and religious restrictions--was simply hacked out in the transcript released by the official New China News Agency. The heavy censorship prompted indignant complaints on the Internet from people who demanded that the full text be restored. "Why must the New China News Agency kid itself?" someone using the name Crawler asked in one chat room. "Does striking out someone's words mean the person never said them?"
Others took to posting the censored portions for others to read. "The Chinese media always distort the facts," another cyber-citizen wrote. "Everyone ought to compare the live remarks with the subsequent transcript."
You can read the entire story here.
If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck...: The following exchange occurred on Sunday's "Meet the Press" on NBC between Kansas GOP Senator Sam Brownback and California's own Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
SEN. BROWNBACK: And I would hope we wouldn’t have litmus tests on judges. It used to be that, OK, Ronald Reagan was accused of a litmus test on judge. We shouldn’t have a litmus test from the left or the right on judges. And I think it’d be fair to say that that should be a standard for both sides.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to another...
SEN. FEINSTEIN: Let me just say one thing ‘cause I can’t let that one go. This isn’t a federal district court. This is an appellate court. For most people, the appellate courts are very much like the Supreme Court. They decide the cases. There are big cases to be decided. There are points that many of us feel passionately about, one of them being Roe vs. Wade. Sam and I would disagree on Roe vs. Wade. I don’t want to see Roe overturned. I’m in a position where I’m going to be very careful that a judge that I vote for to go to a circuit court will not do that. And I think I have every right to do so. It’s not a question of a litmus test. It’s a question of following established law and keeping that law intact.
SEN. BROWNBACK: I think that was defined as a litmus test under Ronald Reagan what Senator Feinstein just articulated.
Yep, Sam hit the nail on the head. Dianne, what you just described is a litmus test. If Brownback had said that he's only going to vote for judges that would overturn Roe v. Wade, then you'd be among the first ones to call it a litmus test and hit him over the head with it. Finally these Senators are admitting that they're only going to confirm judges who share their views on the issues, instead of simply determining if they are qualified.
Sunday, February 24, 2002
The latest Christian Coalition voter guide is out. I got mine today on my car at church. I don't think churches should be involved in politics like this. I don't like it when (typically democratic) politicians go and speak in black churches. I don't like it when the Christian Coalition drops its voter guides on the cars in a church parking lot. If you want to distribute them, send them out by direct mail or pass them out in mall parking lots.
I think that everyone should exercise their right to vote. But I also think they need to be well-informed. Unfortunately they're not going to be well-informed by the so-called voter guide. The Christian Coalition sends out these questionnaires to candidates and then simply publishes the answers. The answers may or may not be accurate. The answers are certainly selective. For example, candidates for Congress are asked if they support or oppose abolishing the Internal Revenue Service. That question seems to fall under the admonition to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." Pretty cut and dried. They didn't ask candidates whether they support increased enforcement of anti-pollution laws. That sort of question would fall under us being "stewards of the Earth." Of course, they can't ask every possible question, it's just that why would you choose a question about abolishing the IRS? There is absolutely no way that is going to happen.
At least candidates for Congress would potentially have some say in whether or not the IRS is abolished. But can anyone tell me why we should care if a candidate for the state board of equalization supports sex education that stresses abstinence? The state board of equalization sets rules on taxes. What does tax policy have to do with abstinence. I mean, maybe if they were considering a condom tax. I don't know, someone help me.
The answers also don't tell the entire story.
If you looked at the race for the two county board of education seats, you could be easily fooled. In each race one candidate didn't respond to the questionnaire and the other candidate gave all the "right" answers. Some ill-informed voters would look at that and create chaos on the county board.
In the 3rd District, which covers East San Diego County, Sylvia Sullivan is running against Ernest Dronenburg Jr. Sullivan is endorsed by the California Republican Assembly and Southern Californians for Life. Sullivan also answers all the questions "right." Dronenburg did not respond to the questionnaire. Sounds like he's a bad guy. Sounds like he's got something to hide. Well, you'd be wrong. I've known Ernie Dronenburg for much of my life. I know his kids. I've been to his home. We attended the same church. Dronenburg is a godly man; a Christian who doesn't flaunt his faith. He's also the best man for the job.
In the 5th district, Susen Fay also has the endorsements and answers the questions "right." I don't know much about her opponent Susan Hartley, except that she's a school board member in the San Dieguito district and a former schoolteacher. What I do know is that Fay is a vindictive and divisive woman.
The pastors at my church have been going over the qualifications in being a leader in the church, in the context of spiritual maturity. But these qualities aren't just indications of spiritual maturity. They're also evidence of plain, old-fashioned non-spiritual maturity. One of the disqualifications for leadership in a church, and it should similarly be a disqualification from an office of public trust, is someone who is quarrelsome or overbearing.
Fay certainly fits the bill. In Sunday's sermon, a portion of the outline read: "Overbearing people....1) Take the big piece; 2) Need to be right; 3) Take their ball and go home." Fay has continually over the years refused to approve federal block grants to local schools because of an extreme distaste for the federal government. Never mind that the individual school districts had requested the funds. Never mind that this is simply getting some of the tax money sent to Washington returned to our schools, Fay's distaste for the federal government trumps all of this, and our local schools suffer.
Dronenburg is the opposite of Susen Fay. He is even-tempered, slow to anger, able to teach.
Don't believe everything you read -- here or in the Christian Coalition Voter Guide. Find out the truth. Become informed. Don't be lazy and vote for candidates who simply answer the questions "right." If you do, you do a disservice to democracy.
Saturday, February 23, 2002
The guy's got cajones: Rep. Gary Condit, whose mistress Chandra Levy disappeared from Washington D.C. last fall, says that his re-election could help solve the case of the young woman's disappearance.
"Well, I don't know what the public does and I don't know what you guys do, you probably won't even report it again if I'm not around. But I intend to make sure there is a closure and resolvement of the case, and I think the fact that I would be in Washington, D.C., I would be able to at least have some contact with law enforcement to see that they don't let the thing sort of die out."
What a guy! Always thinking about the needs of his constituents!
U.S. and Pakistani officials are vowing to bring the murderers of Wall Street Journal reporter to justice. Unfortunately, unless Pakistani law is changed, the respite from this sort of terror will be short.
The alleged ringleader of the Pearl kidnapping and murder is Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Sheikh was in jail once before, in India, but was freed as part of a deal with terrorists. Some of Sheikh's supporters hijacked an Indian Air plane back in 1999, and demanded his freedom.
The solution to preventing a replay of this 1999 event is to make sure there is no Sheikh around for hijackers to demand freedom for. Unfortunately, Pakistani law only allows for the death penalty for murderers of Muslims. If you're a Christian, Jew, or Hindu and are murdered in Pakistan, the most your killer can get is some jail time.
The murderers of Daniel Pearl shouldn't be contaminating the Earth for much longer. Jail is too good for them.
One of my loyal readers has objected to my claim that the Chinese government kills Christians for sport. Well, here's some testimony about how Christians are treated in China. The following is a letter from a woman who Chinese police attempted to coerce false testimony from.
Testimony of Zhang Hongjuan
Dec. 10, 2001
My name is Zhang Hongjuan (Xu Tong kge), and I am 20 years old. On Aug. 14, 2001 I was arrested by officers of the Shi Pai Police Station. The police officers interrogated me with severe torture before sending me to the Detention Center of Zhong Xiang Police Department.
At this Detention Center they tortured me further. They put shackles on my hands and feet, and used electric clubs to touch my whole body, especially my chest. I had no strength to resist such assaults, so I called them “rogues.” It enraged them to more violent acts. They forcefully unbuttoned my shirt, tearing off one button, and touched every spot of my chest with the electric club. I yelled at the top of my voice, but they moved the club into my mouth to stop me from crying. “It’s useless to call for help. No one will come. You’re in the hands of the Communist Party. The Party has given us these electric clubs, shackles fetters for the very purpose of dealing with you!” One of the men pulled at his pants and threatened: “When I’m angry, I will take off your clothes and give you a good beating. You said we shouldn’t unbutton your shirt? I won’t be held accountable even if I strip you naked and strike you hard.” I was one of many people tortured in this way, and my torture was lighter than theirs. I don’t know why they tortured me so cruelly.
The following is my testimony of the greater humiliation and torture suffered by my fellow inmates. I will describe what I saw and heard in person. Fengjiu, who is only 15 years old, also had her chest, hands and feet touched and injured by their electric club. When Li Li (Tongjin) saw the blisters on Fengjiu’s body, she exclaimed that the policemen had violated her human rights. The policemen overhead her and took note of it. When it was Li Li’s turn to be interrogated, they sneered: “So you mentioned human rights. I will treat you as subhuman and give you no human rights. Are you still a human?” With these words they came up to her and tore at her blouse. She held it tight, so they abused her with these words: “You talked of holiness and purity. But you’re a sham! Tell us the truth: How many times have you slept with your teacher [referring to Gong Shengliang]?” Li Li flew into a rage: “You slanderers!” she shouted and demanded: “Let’s go to a hospital to check it out!” Hearing this challenging statement, they dared not push this any further, yet they still would not let her go. They continued to torment her by inserting the electric club underneath her shirt to burn her chest and her lower parts, pulling off her hair by handfuls from her head, and splashing water unto her face. For a whole day, a whole night and yet another whole morning she was continuously tortured. The police spared no means of torture to get information from us.
Wang Lan, nearly beaten to death, had passed out several times. Seeing that she couldn’t eat anything, the police insisted that she was pregnant by having sexual intercourse with the teacher [Gong Shengliang], whom they wanted to put to death. Believing they had got hold of some material evidence against Gong, they brought Wang Lan to a hospital for a pregnancy test, but they were disappointed by the result. Tong Cuijuan underwent the same torture. They beat her up, hoping for a confession that she had slept with her teacher [Gong Shengliang]. When they used electric clubs to touch her breasts, anger gave her courage to call them “base.” They unbuttoned all but two buttons on her shirt and pulled it down. Her chest was exposed for their humiliation. Later they announced: “A 3-year sentence will be unfair for Tonghao (Cuijuan) because she cooperated with us very satisfactorily.” They said this as if they had got what they had wanted from Tonghao.
Chi Faling, too, had her chest and lower parts touched by electric clubs. The police tortured us in this ruthless manner for no other purpose but to get “verbal and material evidence” to accuse and incriminate our teacher [Gong Shengliang].
You can find the full report with other documents and testimony here.
I don't see this behavior much different from the Romans who fed Christians to the lions. Yes, I think these police are on a power trip. Yes, this is torture. Yes, this is a violation of human rights. Yes, I think that they think of it as sport.
You've got terrorists in jail at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba that are getting three square meals a day -- and they plotted to kill thousands of Americans. Christians who desire only to worship God as they please are shocked with cattle prods.
Is the Chinese government evil? Yes.
Well, I can't find a link to it anywhere on the Web, but a Florida judge has ruled that a Saudi princess accused of beating her maid can return to Saudi Arabia until it is time for her to stand trial.
Princess Buniah al-Saud's attorney told the judge she wanted to go home to celebrate Eid al-Adha, a holiday associated with the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. When asked by her attorney if she would return, al-Saud said softly: "Of course I will."
Al-Saud, 41, a niece of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, added that her family's name would be tarnished if she didn't.
Circuit Judge Richard Conrad allowed her to have her passport back. A trial date has not been set and it was not known when the princess would leave the United States.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Bill Vose said he was reluctant to let al-Saud leave the country because the United States has no extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia and would have no legal recourse if she failed to return.
"This isn't the crime of the century," Vose said. "But I'm concerned that she won't come back because she has no legal reason to come back."
I'll be following this case, but I will honestly be very surprised if the princess returns to the United States. She's facing jail time and that just isn't for pampered princesses.
Chuck Jones has died. Goodbye Chuck, we'll miss you. "That's all folks."
Friday, February 22, 2002
Well, if the Israelis keep doing this, maybe there'll be fewer terrorist bombings, especially if they make it a policy.
I can see clearly now: Foxnews put up side-by-side photographs of then-President Clinton and President George W. Bush at the edge of the DMZ in South Korea. It was unassailable proof that when it came to military matters, Clinton didn't have his eyes open. You see, Bush managed to take the covers off the binoculars when he looked across the DMZ. Clinton looked intently through the binoculars with the covers still on.
Thank God that Jimmy Carter isn't president today. The man has done a lot of good through his work with Habitat for Humanity, but he opened his mouth at Emory University and promptly stuck his foot in it.
ATLANTA –– Former President Jimmy Carter on Thursday criticized President Bush's labeling three countries an "axis of evil," saying the statement was "overly simplistic and counterproductive."
Carter said Bush's statement seriously jeopardized progress made with North Korea, Iran and Iraq in recent years.
"I think it will take years before we can repair the damage done by that statement," said Carter, speaking at an Emory University conference on the impact of terrorism.
Carter should know better. And exactly what progress have we made with those countries in recent years. North Korea won't talk to us. Iraq kicked out weapons inspectors and sends cash payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers Iran still calls us the "Great Satan."
How does China really treat Christians? Well, it tortures them to death, according to Freedom House.
Pastor Gong was sentenced to death on December 5 on charges of operating an "evil cult" and on the seemingly trumped-up charges of rape and assault. The month-long period for deciding his appeal was extended January 5 by a Hubei court following sharp international protest.
The letter, written by two underground Christian women, Li Ailian and Wang Yue, reports that in efforts to find and apprehend Pastor Gong and suppress the South China Church, police arrested and severely beat at least 25 Christians, and tortured others with electric prods. Two victims, described below, reportedly died.
Yu Zhongju, a young mother from Zhongxiang was arrested May 27, 2001 in a private house connected with Pastor Gong's congregation. She died in police custody in late July, allegedly as a result of torture. According to her family, police informed them of Yu's death July 20, after her body had begun to decompose. The police paid the family, warning them not to raise the matter further. There has been no official investigation of the case.
Gu Xuegui, a Christian man also connected with Pastor Gong's church, disappeared while in police custody, probably sometime in October. A congregant from Puyang City, Henan province last saw Gu in a prison vehicle with his face showing signs of beatings. His family later received information that he had died under severe torture.
Don't buy Chinese products. Do nothing to help this brutal government that kills Christians for sport.
Thursday, February 21, 2002
After trying a couple of times, it appeared that American reporters finally got Chinese President Jiang Zemin to answer a question on religious liberty, or lack thereof, in China.
During the 37-minute news conference, the Chinese president twice initially ignored questions from U.S. reporters about why his government restricts practicing religious faith and has imprisoned Catholic bishops. When he later answered, Bush looked away.
"I don't have religious faith," Jiang said. "Yet this does not prevent me from having an interest in religion. I've read the Bible, I've also read the Koran, as well as the Scriptures of Buddhism. . . . Whatever religion people believe in, they have to abide by the law. So some of the law-breakers have been detained because of their violation of law, not because of their religious belief."
Well Jiang, if your laws make it impossible for people to worship as they wish, then of course believers are going to violate them. No one should have to smuggle Bibles into China.
He lies to himself so often, he no longer knows the truth: The Foxnews crawl, that little strip of news briefs that "crawls" along the bottom of the screen contains the following tidbits.
Vatican: Catholic clergy are forbidden to worship by Beijing. Vatican News Agency: More than 50 Roman Catholic clergy have been detained or are under surveillance in China. China's Pres Jiang: People are free to worship as they choose; Jiang claims Roman Catholic Bishops detained must have broken the law.
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
The Wall Street Journal's Claudia Rosett has praise for Santee Mayor Randy Voepel and nothing but scorn for the repressive Chinese Communist regime. It seems that China is attempting to export their abuse and oppression abroad. The Chinese government is now making it a practice to approach American cities that issue, or are considering issuing, routine proclamations in support of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement.
Typical is the experience of Santee, Calif., a city of 58,000 on the outskirts of San Diego County. A little over a year ago, Mayor Randy Voepel received a letter from the newly arrived Chinese consul general in Los Angeles, Lan Lijun. Mr. Lan's letter began with a cheery greeting and rolled right along to describe the Falun Gong movement as a "doomsday" cult that creates "a panic atmosphere" and if left unchecked in America could end up "jeopardizing your social stability." Noting that China would "like to establish and develop friendly relations with your city"--and implying this would require complying with China's wishes--Mr. Lan's letter went on to urge that "no recognition and support in any form should be given to the Falun Gong" and urged banning them from registration as any kind of official organization.
Not so typical was Mr. Voepel's reaction. A Vietnam War veteran, he wrote back: "Your letter personally chilled me to my bones. I was shocked that a Communist Nation would go to this amount of trouble to suppress what is routinely accepted in this country. . . . I have the greatest respect for the Chinese people in your country and everywhere else in the world, but must be honest in my concern for the suppression of human rights by your government as evidenced by your request." Mr. Voepel then issued a mayoral proclamation commending the Falun Gong.
Voepel's response was the right one. Unfortunately, it's one that many other mayors have not followed. Rosett reports that the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Baltimore have all caved to Chinese pressure. Every American should stand up for freedom. Elected Americans have a greater responsibility to do the same.
Credit for the most outrageous comment of the day goes to Larry Joe Doherty of the Foxnews show "Texas Justice." Appearing on the "O'Reilly Factor," the lawyer attempted to defend child-killer Andrea Yates. Doherty contended that Yates was insane at the time of the act. That she didn't know right from wrong.
O'Reilly: "Then why does she call 911 after she kills her kids? Explain."
Doherty: "That's a fact. That's not any evidence that this woman is in her right mind. Just because she knows that 911 is a place to call for help."
O'Reilly: "Why does anyone call 911?"
Doherty: "Well somebody had to come take care of the mess."
O'Reilly should have slapped him. Five murdered children shoud never be discounted as a simple "mess."
More proof that campaign-finance reform is a joke. The Hill newspaper is reporting that before the Shays-Meehan bill has even passed the Senate, Democrats are already making plans to circumvent the new rules.
As comprehensive campaign finance reform nears its expected enactment, House Democratic lawmakers have already adopted strategies for redirecting the flow of large contributions to outside groups aligned with their party, a move they hope will help them regain control of the Chamber.
House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) has assured African-American members of his caucus that he will raise money for groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southwest Voter Project to pay for their voter registration and get-out-the-vote operations.
Reform legislation sponsored by Reps. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) that passed the House last week bans soft money but allows federal lawmakers to raise funds in $20,000 increments for outside organizations as long as those groups are “nonpartisan.” The loose restrictions would allow party leaders to direct hundreds of thousands of dollars for such groups.
I'm sure that the Republicans will be doing much the same thing with interest groups that typically align with their beliefs. But it just shows you that as far as the general public is concerned, nothing will really change in Washington. So, instead of the GOP and the Democratic parties funding ads, NARAL, the NRA and the NAACP will. The fact that major newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post and San Diego Union-Tribune, have come out in support of the "reform" is disappointing and troubling. Give them just a few years of the new law, and I'm sure there will be calls for even more "reform." What they've done already being insufficient.
Why? Because it's funny: Twenty British commandos had a tryout for the Keystone Cops yesterday after invading Spain, instead of Gibraltar.
One headline: "Raid on Spain was plainly in vain."
But I love the comment from the British Ministry of Defence spokesman: "We are not trying to take Spain and we have no plans to do so."
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Idiot of the day: Columbia University literature professor Edward Said weighs in with this doozy in an online discussion group:
The slogan "NYC, Terror Free" worries me. To throw anyone out of New York would be unjust. The cycle of hostilities since September 11th have (sic) spun out of control. My answer to PLO out of NYC is that the moment we start kicking terrorists out of New York City - I leave also. A terror-free city is no place for me.
Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.
"Special Report with Brit Hume" today on Foxnews did a report on how some California schools are teaching "tolerance." Specifically tolerance for homosexuals. Now, I've had this debate before with some politically liberal friends, but let me make it clear that there is a difference between "tolerance" and "acceptance." By definition, in order to tolerate something, you must first disagree with it. I don't approve of homosexuality, but I don't confront people about it and I don't volunteer my opinion on it. If someone asks me, I'll tell them what I think, but I'm not going around hitting people on the head about it.
Now, if you want to teach tolerance, that's fine, but what they're doing in some California schools is going too far. They're teaching about homosexuality and "transgendered" people to second-graders. Second-graders, that's 7-year-olds.
The way it's being done is also very troubling. Foxnews pulls the following quotes from the textbook "Cootie Shots."
In one of the presentations, a "transgendered" boy says: "Let them say I'm like a girl, what's wrong with being like a girl? Let them laugh, let them scream, they'll all be beheaded when I'm queen."
In another, entitled "Princess Petunia," the female main character says: "The one I love she wears a dress."
If I'm a parent, I want to know what is going on, and, at the very least, I want the option of pulling my kids out of these little presentations.
If it's not bad enough that some schools are teaching this, what's worse is some of the defenders of this curriculum. Rosa Futomuto of UCLA's teacher education program, displays intolerance for people of faith who believe that homosexuality is morally wrong.
"If they truly feel that way then their children should maybe be home-schooled. And that that would be their choice. Or maybe they can afford a private school, where they can practice racism and sexism and whatever they want to practice. They're entitled to their view, but then maybe they need to check out of the world, because that's the way the world is."
It's amazing the lengths the school system is going to to prevent homosexual kids from being teased. No matter what they try to teach, it's not going to work, not with kids that young. They couldn't stop little kids from making fun of the fat kid, and now they're trying this?
The public education system shouldn't be promoting a lifestyle with which the parents disagree. The parent should have every right to pull their kids out of this sort of "education." We're all in trouble, and maybe I will have to home school my kids if Ms. Futomuto's "let them eat cake" attitude takes hold.
Monday, February 18, 2002
Saudi Arabia's judicial system makes the news once again.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) –– A Saudi court has sentenced a man to six years in prison and 4,750 lashes for having sex with his wife's sister, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The woman involved in the case was sentenced to six months in jail and 65 lashes, the paper Al-Eqtisadiah reported, though the court found she had not consented to the relationship. She had also reported the affair to the police.
The AP is playing nice with the language here. The woman is a rape victim and she gets six months in jail and 65 lashes. Yeah, that's a really fair, open, egalitarian society you've got over there in the Middle East.
Sunday, February 17, 2002
When looking at sites opposing Pickering's nomination, I came across Eleanor Smeal's Feminist Majority Foundation site. The site has a neat feature that allows you to send a pre-written e-mail to several senators. I used it, but changed some of the words.
I am writing to thank you for attending the hearing on the nomination of Judge Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and to urge you to support his nomination because of his hostility to child murder, men-bashing, and civil rights. Because of his record on these issues and his recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I urge you to vote for his confirmation and make sure the full Senate considers him.
Judge Pickering is a staunch opponent of infanticide. He served as a State Senator from 1972-1980; during that time he voted in favor of a convention to propose a constitutional amendment to ban abortion, and he voted against state funding for abortion-advocacy groups. In 1976, Judge Pickering chaired the subcommittee of the National Republican Party that approved a plank calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to make abortion illegal. Pickering also sensibly opposed the Equal Rights Amendment.
Senator Feinstein (D-CA) questioned Pickering about his support for a constitutional ban on abortion, and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) also pressed Pickering as to his views on Roe v. Wade. Pickering refused to reveal his position on Roe v. Wade, as is common for both liberal and conservative judicial nominees, or discuss his views on other Supreme Court cases decided after Roe that have allowed states to limit abortion access. Pickering’s reluctance to answer these questions clearly is the proper decision, demonstrating that he has good judicial temperment.
Judge Pickering’s history on civil rights issues is also encouraging. In 1959, he wrote a law review article analyzing a Mississippi statute that criminalized interracial marriage. His legal objective legal analysis resulted in the state legislature amending the law that was later found unconstitutional.
By supporting Pickering’s nomination, we will send a message to the President that he should continue to nominate candidates who are wise, reasonable and conservative.
I get a little feeling of excitement by using the FMF's resources against it. If you wish to cut and paste my version of the message and similarly misappropriate FMF's resources, feel free. Also, remember to change "oppose" to "support" in the message header.
In further researching the Pickering nomination, I came across an article by the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page. Page is urging the Senate to vote down Pickering's nomination, apparently because, once again, he's a racist. But if Pickering is a racist, then he has to address one big incident in Pickering's history that would tend to prove that he isn't a racist.
With that in mind, Pickering deserves praise for courageously testifying in 1967 against Sam Bowers, a Ku Klux Klan leader who was being tried for the firebombing death of Vernon Dahmer Sr., a civil rights leader who was helping blacks register to vote.
Pickering's testimony against Bowers cost Pickering his re-election as the local prosecutor, Medgar Evers' brother Charles Evers wrote in a Wall Street Journal piece in support of Pickering.
On the other hand, William Taylor, a Washington lawyer who served on the Washington, D-C.-based Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights at that time, pointed out that, by that time, even the white establishment of Mississippi had begun to decide that Klan violence was bad for business.
Wait a second Clarence. If the Klan was bad for business, then why was Pickering defeated in his re-election campaign? If the citizens of Mississippi were so opposed to the Klan, then he would have been re-elected. And if the Klan was losing its popularity at that time, then why are you characterizing Pickering's testimony as courageous? Certianly by your logic, Pickering's decision to testify would have been purely in his own self-interest. Nice try Clarence, but to quote a former president: "That dog won't hunt."
The Washington Post assails the treatment President Bush's latest nominee to the 5th District Court of Appeals. Judge Charles Pickering has been demagogued by Democratic senators as a racist, segregationist and anti-miscegenationist. The Post points out that the claims fo racism appear to be spurious, but while Pickering may not be a racist, he's a simpleton and a conservative.
In his tenure on the district bench, he has shown an amateurish tendency to use legal opinions as vehicles for extended discussions of issues of public controversy. The fact that one of these opinions openly questions basic principles of modern civil rights law makes supporting him difficult.
I'm sure he's appreciative of the support.
But at least the Post calls a spade a spade when it comes to the democratic senators.
Pickering's entire record is not that of a committed -- if now closeted -- segregationist; nor did the Senate find him to be such when it unanimously voted to confirm him as a district judge in 1990. The need on the part of liberal groups and Democratic senators to portray him as a Neanderthal -- all the while denying they are doing so -- in order to justify voting him down is the latest example of the degradation of the confirmation process.
If you'd like to read more on the Pickering nomination, try the following links:
The Next Big Fight:The first major judicial-confirmation battle of the Bush administration.
Behind the Democrats’ Attack:Democrats vs. Charles Pickering.
And, in the interest of presenting both sides of the story:
People [not] for the American Way
Saturday, February 16, 2002
There's another great article on the Weekly Standard's Web site on China's access to the Internet. The Internet in China isn't the Information Superhighway that it is in the United States. It's more like Big Brother central, where news sites like CNN and The New York Times are blocked, and every e-mail message read and monitored.
If that isn't scary enough, what is extremely frustrating is the complicity that many American high-tech companies have in creating this atmosphere.
In China, the government had a unique problem: how to keep a billion people from accessing politically sensitive websites, now and forever.
The way to do it would be this: If a Chinese user tried to view a website outside China with political content, such as CNN.com, the address would be recognized by a filter program that screens out forbidden sites. The request would then be thrown away, with the user receiving a banal message: "Operation timed out." Great, but China's leaders had a problem: The financial excitement of a wired China quickly led to a proliferation of eight major Internet service providers (ISPs) and four pipelines to the outside world. To force compliance with government objectives--to ensure that all pipes lead back to Rome--they needed the networking superpower, Cisco, to standardize the Chinese Internet and equip it with firewalls on a national scale. According to the Chinese engineer, Cisco came through, developing a router device, integrator, and firewall box specially designed for the government's telecom monopoly. At approximately $20,000 a box, China Telecom "bought many thousands" and IBM arranged for the "high-end" financing. (American computer engineer Michael) Robinson confirms: "Cisco made a killing. They are everywhere."
So, what can the United States do? Fortunately there's a solution, they're called proxy servers.
IS CHINA'S Internet beyond redemption? Is it destined to be a tool of surveillance and repression, managed by the Chinese government and serviced by cynical Western partners? Maybe not. The Great Firewall might be vulnerable to a few physicists at the University of Oregon. I spent a day watching Stephen Hsu diagram the Chinese web and its weaknesses. Hsu and his company, SafeWeb, have developed a proxy server system called Triangle Boy. The triangle refers to the Chinese user, to a fleet of servers outside of the firewall, and to a mothership which the servers report to, but the Chinese government cannot find. Already tens of thousands of Chinese users have connected with it; five of the top twenty Triangle Boy search sites are in the Chinese language. Every day, the Chinese user receives an e-mail listing new addresses of Triangle Boy servers, which allow the user to visit websites that they would otherwise be unable to reach. Because the addresses of the servers change constantly, the system is practically unbeatable. Any attack, especially on the mothership, requires enormous resources.
But as surely as Triangle Boy works to liberate the surfing Chinese masses, you can bet State Security is looking for a way to pounce on this latest proxy rebellion. The simplest one will be to enlist American companies, still eager to curry favor in Beijing, and get them to develop software allowing the Public Security Bureau to sniff out and block proxies as quickly as they are created.
The only practical solution to this puzzle is for the Bush administration to make Internet freedom in China a high priority. At the moment it is a laughably small priority. The Voice of America, whose website has been a high-profile target of Chinese blocking, last summer began funding Triangle Boy to the tune of $10,000 per month. VOA officials undertook that small effort in frustration; they attempt to send daily news via e-mail to some 800,000 addresses in China, with no guarantee that they are getting through. Hsu estimates that supplying one million Chinese users with Triangle Boy (approximately 600 million page views a month) would require just $1 million annually. Budgeted at $300 million a year, VOA has the means and is wisely looking at several other solutions as well. But for VOA to justify an anti-blocking effort on a scale that will make a difference, it will need to be seen as carrying out an important plank of American foreign policy, not just acting on the margins as it is now.
If the U.S. is serious about freedom in China, it would do well to fully fund this system that could help bring information, and an eventual democratic revolution, to China.
President Bush is on his way to China for a visit this coming week. U.S. diplomats have been listing several issues that Bush will raise with his Chinese counterpart, President Jiang Zemin. Foremost among them, allegedly, is the Chinese human-rights policy, or lack thereof.
To qualify for the "Axis of Evil," the countries had to be rogue states, developing weapons of mass destruction, supporting terrorism and participating in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. China already has nukes, but it also supports those terrorist states in the Mideast by exporting missile technology. Several Chinese companies were banned recently from doing business with the U.S. for violating agreements not to export such technology. Of course, since China's a communist country, all of these companies are controlled by the government.
The Chinese government is evil, brutal and routinely ignores human rights. There is an open letter to President Bush in today's Washington Post from a man whose wife has been imprisoned in China. Her crime? It seems she sent some newspapers to her husband here in the U.S. That's right, some newspapers you can buy on the street corner of the town she lived in.
China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights nearly four years ago. And four years later it has still not ratified it nor even attempted to follow it.
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
After giving the Chinese permanent normal trade relations, something never awarded to the brutal Soviet regime or Cuba's repressive government, China better shape up. Purchasing Chinese-made products doesn't help the Chinese citizens who are jailed for their religious beliefs or advocating for Democracy.
Attorney Leo Terrell was on the "O'Reilly Factor" last night. He is one of the lawyers filing a civil-rights lawsuit on behalf of the terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay. His main argument that was since they were being held on U.S.-leased land at the Marine Corps base there, that they are covered by the Constitution and should be tried in U.S. civilian courts.
What an idiot.
Friday, February 15, 2002
The biggest controversy of the Winter Olympics appears to have ended, with the Canadian figure skating pair being awarded a gold medal. The French judge was suspended for misconduct, and most of the focus was on that judge, but let's not forget that there were four other blind or corrupt judges who also voted to award the gold medal to Russian skaters. The International Skating Union should investigate the entirety of the outcome and not just the French judge.
It is a gold medal that is well deserved. The best and most honorable solution did not occur, unfortunately. What would have happened in an ideal world was for the Russians to have voluntarily presented the Canadians with their gold medals. The Russians surely know that they did not put in the best performance. That is what they should have done.
Geez, I thought the Shays-Meehan bill was bad enough just reading CNN's and Foxnews' reports on the issue. Today's Wall Street Journal editorial page reveals more about the bill that makes it even more odious to First Amendment freedoms.
For example, there's the little-understood but dangerous provision limiting "coordination" between candidates and, yes, citizens. You have to be a lawyer to understand the nuances here. But in essence the bill redefines what is illegal "coordination" to include "any general or particular understanding" with a candidate by a group that later campaigns on his behalf.
So let's say you're the AFL-CIO, and you meet to lobby a Member of Congress on a looming trade bill. If the union later ran issue ads for or against that Member at election time, or ran phone banks or sent out voter guides, that Member might well be in violation of the law's new "coordination" ban.
At a minimum, that candidate would almost certainly be subject to legal harassment from his opponent, in the form of petitions for probes from the Federal Election Commission. This threat to free speech and the right to assembly is egregious enough that it is opposed by, among others, the ACLU, the AFL-CIO and the National Right to Life Committee.
It also appears that I was mistaken earlier. According to the WSJ, this bill only affects candidates for Congress.
It's not just stupid. It's really stoopid!
Thursday, February 14, 2002
Before today passes into tomorrow, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Valentines' Day.
Well, the House passed campaign-finance reform today. The bill is really nothing more than an incumbent protection act. The Shays-Meehan bill doesn't reduce the amount of money going into federal elections, it just redirects it. Unlimited donations to the national parties are banned. Using the Enron case as an example, apparently these politicians believe that they are influenced by money going not into their own pockets, but into their party's coffers. Does Congressman Joe Schmo from Podunk, Neb., really know exactly who is giving money to the Republican National Committee? Is he influenced by that donation? Can that kind of donation really corrupt him?
According to some political columnists, this change hurts those who would challenge incumbents because national parties are typically the only major donors who will seriously fund a competitive race.
The bill also raises the so-called "hard money" limits to federal candidates from $1,000 to $2,000. This is the only provision which I think is good. The $1,000 limit was set back in the mid-70s when $1,000 bought a lot more.
While banning donations to the national parties, the bill would allow state and local parties to raise and spend up to $10,000 in "soft money" for get-out-the-vote efforts and other miscellaneous things. Is this really reducing the amount of money in political campaigns? Before: Big Corp./Big Union gives unlimited money (well, not really unlimited, just whatever they feel they can afford) to the Republican/Democratic National Committee. Now: Big Corp./Big Union gives $10,000 to every single little piddly local party. $10,000 to the San Diego Democratic Party. $10,000 to the La Mesa Democratic Party. $10,000 to the Rancho Santa Fe Republican Party, etc. The bill says that these funds can't be used in connection with federal campaigns, but where is that line? Who draws it? Does saying: "Republicans are great! Democrats stink!" on the eve of an election qualify? How about the infamous "issue ads"?
All this does is make the money more of a pain in the butt to track. To figure out who's funding Bush's reelection campaign, instead of going to the RNC, newspapers or watchdog groups have to go to every single local party office.This doesn't make the process more open, it makes it tougher to find out who's bought whom.
Then these idiot politicians get so lazy and stupid that you just want to slap them. Shays-Meehan would prohibit unions, corporations or advocacy groups from running ads within 60 days of an election or 30 days of a primary. Why are they even wasting ink on paper for this. It's unconstitutional on on its face. I've heard no legal scholar or pundit that thinks this passes constitutional muster. It's also the most blatant of the incumbent-protection schemes.
If the Senate passes this, Bush would do well to veto it. He probably won't. When the Supreme Court hears the challenge that is certain to follow, they should force every congressman and the president to eat the paper that that provision is printed on. The court should never be bothered with something so obviously unconstitutional.
Worst lede of the day: Today's winner is ESPN.com's Rupen Fofaria for this lede on a story about the Daytona 500 one year after race car driver Dale Earnhardt's death.
Dale Earnhardt's death changed many lives this past year. It even changed his own.
Wednesday, February 13, 2002
The Washington Post's Robert Samuelson makes an interesting point about the Enron/Campaign finance connection.
Even if Enron deserved help (it didn't), few politicians would have risked public wrath by rushing to its aid. What this episode actually shows is that the breadth of contributions insulates politicians against "undue" influence by large donors.
This is also the main reason that most people spread their contributions around. You don't want some elected official to totally ignore you because you gave them nothing. Instead, you give them some campaign cash, even if you give their opponent more, at least you have some influence. I'd also rather have a politician that gets a lot of contributions from many different sources, than all of his money from just one source. No one can serve dozens of masters, instead they serve their constitutents.
Something stoopid at the EU: A proposed workplace regulation would limit the noise level to 83 decibels. If the noise level rises above that point, hearing protection, earplugs or a similar device, would be required. The problem? This applies to ALL workplaces, even symphony orchestras.
"It will stop us playing any loud music whatsoever, affecting almost of all of the pieces played by orchestras."
She said that if the directive was followed to the letter it could have a "devastating impact" on the music industry.
"We recognise that at certain times there is a risk of hearing damage to musicians. That is irrefutable.
"But we are working to try and remedy this in ways that are practical for the musicians."
Alison Wright Reid, an occupational health and safety specialist, said: "This will make classics unplayable.
"Musicians simply would not be allowed to play them all, including the EU's anthem, the finale of Beethoven's Ninth."
And you thought that some government regulations in the U.S. were dumb.
Former federal prosecutor Victoria Toensing makes a case that the "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh should be charged with and tried for treason.
Although he was carrying grenades and rifles when captured, it matters not whether Walker ever shot an American or even discharged a weapon. Nor does it matter whether Congress declared war. It is constitutionally sufficient that there is a military conflict where the United States is involved. "[I]f a body of men be actually assembled, for the purpose of effecting by force a treasonable purpose" then any act by the accused, however "minute" or "remote" is treason, according to Chief Justice John Marshall almost 200 years ago.
Lindh should have been charged with treason from the start. He should be given a fair trial and then promptly hanged.
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Idiot of the Day
Today's award goes to CNN founder and resident liberal Ted Turner. At a speech at Brown University, the man who's previously called Christians "wackos," enlightened the world with his take on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"The reason that the World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot of people living in abject poverty out there who don't have any hope for a better life," he said.
He said the attacks were an act of desperation, and that Americans lack an understanding of a willingness to die for one's country.
Turner may lack an understanding of a willingness to die for one's country, but most Americans don't. Ask the family of Johnny Spann. Ask any Vietnam, Korean, or WWII veteran if they understand, Ted. They do, you don't.
Contrast Ted's assessment of the moral state of the poor with that of the United States' ambassador to the U.N., John Negroponte in a speech to the Heritage Foundation.
"We sometimes read that terrorism is bred in poverty, that poverty is its root cause and conveyor belt, and that the best palliative would be substantial transfers of money from the developed to the developing world," he said in a speech before the conservative Heritage Foundation. "I would think we should be wary of this argument."
While Negroponte said that though there are a multitude of compelling reasons to assist the developing world in "maximizing its economic potential," he also noted that the al Qaida terrorist group was far from poverty-stricken.
He pointed out that it was well funded and maximized some of the benefits of the developed world, including modern airlines, hotels and communications networks. The group did not spring forth from, but rather worked to the detriment of, its economically underdeveloped host nation, Afghanistan.
"People do not suddenly loose their moral compass because they are poor, and terrorism does not represent or benefit the poor," he said. "One look at what terrorism did to Afghanistan's people and economy demonstrates exactly what might be called the terrorist's ethic of social and economic justice."
Power and money are much the same. The old axiom, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Likewise, great wealth, more often than not, saps the soul of its moral compass. All things considered, I think that poor people are more moral than the wealthy. Ted Turner and Osama bin Laden have done nothing to prove me wrong.
National Review's Rod Dreher has a great article on how California's seventh-grade social studies textbook deals with Islam. In brief, if Christianity was presented in the classroom in a way that was similar to how Islam is presented, the ACLU, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, People for the American Way and every other liberal group would be screaming.
"The book talks about how Islam gave women rights, but nowhere does it teach that the Koran says a man is allowed to have seven wives. Kids should know that, because it's relevant to the religion and the culture," (Attorney Brad) Dacus says. "They want to make Islam palatable to Americans."
And, (Daniel) Pipes and Dacus claim wording in the Islam chapters presents theological beliefs as historical facts.
This isn't entirely true. There are numerous passages that contain language like "Muhammad is believed by his followers to have...." But others are more ambiguous ("Muhammad was awakened one night by a thunderous voice [of God] that seemed to come from everywhere..."), and still others do in fact present theological belief as fact ("[T]he very first word the angel Gabriel spoke to Muhammad was 'Recite.'").
If Islam is played up in the textbook, Christianity is played down.
The transmission of the Christian faith throughout the Roman Empire, decrees the state, is to be taught in the "Fall of Rome" unit. But Across the Centuries makes no mention of Christianity here, not even when it discusses the Emperor Constantine, whose battlefield conversion to the Christian faith was one of the pivotal events of Western civilization.
State guidelines call for Christianity to be addressed again in a unit on medieval Europe: "Special attention should be paid to Christianity in the Middle Ages because the Church, more powerful than any feudal state, influenced every aspect of life in medieval Europe. The story of St. Francis of Assisi should be told, both for his embodiment of the Christian ideal and for the accessibility to students of his gentle beliefs."
But in the seven pages devoted to the European Middle Ages, Christianity is presented not in terms of moral and theological belief, but almost entirely as a matter of power relations and social organization. How much space does Across the Centuries give to St. Francis of Assisi, a historical figure so important he merited special mention in the state guidelines? Ten sentences, plus three lines from one of his poems.
This bias against the religious content of Christianity extends into the unit on the Reformation, which gives short shrift to the theological ideas that inspired Protestantism, and focuses almost exclusively on the social and political fallout.
I will confess that I don't remember much about what I was taught about Islam or Christianity in Junior High. Personally, I don't think I'd really mind if Christianity was shortchanged to a certain extent. I really wouldn't want the local public school teaching my kids anything about Christianity -- there's too big a risk they'd get it wrong. Besides, it's my job as a parent, not theirs. On the other hand, a textbook that doesn't mention Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity isn't well written in the first place.
The New York Times has an article in today's paper on the challenges faced by Christians in Saudi Arabia.
The situation is particularly painful for American troops. They are offered a range of religious services, with the help of military chaplains.
But they must worship in private, even though many of them are protecting the kingdom from outside threats. And soldiers who wear a cross or a Star of David must keep the symbols hidden.
"We have all these fine young American men and women over here," one chaplain said. "They're great Americans. They're great soldiers. Yet they're expected to surrender their religious practices when they arrive."
President Bush has called Islam a great religion and described the American people as both religious and tolerant. When he addressed a joint session of Congress shortly after Sept. 11, he said that the "barbarians" who attacked the United States "hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."
But neither Mr. Bush nor any of his national security advisers have criticized the refusal of Saudi Arabia to allow Americans and other foreigners to worship freely. The United States, like other governments, has agreed to a compact dictated by the Saudis: if you have to practice your religion, do it in secret.
The United States' relative silence on this religious bigotry is unacceptable. Saudi rulers are safe and happy because the United States has assured them that Christians will sacrifice their lives for their country. The least the Saudis can do is allow U.S. soldiers to worship without restriction. They'd also do good to allow their own citizens the same freedom.
Monday, February 11, 2002
From the stupid-lawsuit file: British Telecom is suing U.S. Internet service providers, starting with Prodigy, for patent infringement. Why? Well it seems as though BT patented hyperlinks, like this one back in 1976.
BT tried to persuade the judge to interpret the language broadly for the jury -- to include a computer mouse, for example, as the "keypad" mentioned in the patent.
"It has keys," BT lawyer Robert Perry said hopefully.
The only thing worse than BT bringing this thing to court is the lawyers who agreed to take the case.
Apparently there is a ruckus being raised over some remarks reportedly made by Attorney General John Ashcroft about Islam.
"Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for Him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends His son to die for you."
American-Islamic groups are calling for Ashcroft's head. However, the statement appears to be an accurate analysis of the difference between the two religions. In Islam, the only way to be assured paradise is to die a martyr. That's the truth. In Christianity, the only way to be assured heaven is to accept that Jesus died for your sins. That's the truth.
The more I read about the wacky French, the more I think that President Bush should have gone further in his State of the Union speech. He should have named an Axis of Stupid -- topped by the French. (I'll take nominations for what other countries should be named to the Axis.)
The latest stupidity is a French court's ruling on free speech. While I hold no love for anti-Semitic or pro-Nazi racist propoganda, I do worry about the tack that the French courts are taking.
A little more than a year ago, the judge in the French case, Licra v. Yahoo (news/quote), shook the mahogany desks of lawyers around the world when he reaffirmed an earlier ruling that Yahoo, based in Santa Clara, Calif., had violated French law by allowing French citizens to view auction sites displaying Nazi memorabilia.
The case has jumped the Atlantic and is making its way through the courts in the United States, where a federal judge has ruled that French sanctions against Yahoo — including $13,000 a day in fines — cannot be enforced in the United States. The two groups that sued the company in France, the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (known as Licra) and the Union of French Jewish Students, are appealing the federal judge's decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco.
Regardless of the appeal's outcome, nations seeking to control potentially harmful speech that arrives from offshore are seen as almost certain to use the French precedent to bolster their efforts.
While the French effort may be noble, I would hate to see a country like China try to chart a similar court against people who run Web sites exposing the truth of that tyrannical regime.
The New York Times has an article on one of the Americans who was held hostage at the United States embassy in Iran back in 1979. Sgt. Rodney "Rocky" Sickmann, then one of the Marine guards at the embassy, thinks that he and his comrades should've started shooting when student radicals invaded sovereign U.S. territory more than 20 years ago.
On orders from his superiors, Sergeant (Rodney "Rocky") Sickmann did not so much as lob a tear gas grenade at the mob coming to occupy the embassy. Now he thinks he and his fellow guards should have started shooting.
"Had we opened fire on them, maybe we would only have lasted an hour," he said. But if he and 51 others had died there, rather than becoming hostages for the next 444 days, "we could have changed history," he said, by sending the message that Americans could not be attacked without cost. Instead, he said, the surrender sent the message that there was no penalty for attacking the United States.
"If you look back, it started in 1979; it's just escalated," he said in an interview at his home here.
The Israelis had been experiencing this sort of radical Islamism for years before the Iranian students took over the embassy. (See the 1972 Munich Olympics.) But this was the first time they'd tried taking on Americans directly, and we gave them little reason to fear us. Emboldening them for attack after attack for decades to come, culminating in Sept. 11.
Sunday, February 10, 2002
The Guardian, a left-wing British newspaper, has an article on the United States military build-up. The basic point of the piece is that the U.S. can kick any country's butt as it is now, why do we have to buy more military equipment?
'Ostensibly,' says one European diplomat, 'this is about security. But quite how a massive increase in defence spending is supposed to prevent another terrorist attack remains unclear. Instead this seems to be about repairing the bruised American psyche after 11 September. America's powerlessness in the face of this attack requires big gestures and reassurances, even if they are counter-productive and meaningless.'
Indeed, some analysts say, if it is security that America seeks it is better sought in dialogue with potentially threatening states, rather than in reinforcing the idea already held by many anti-US groups that it is an evil empire bent on world domination.
We always try talking first, but talk doesn't always do it. When we saw that Saddam Hussein was marshalling his forces to invade Kuwait in 1990. This just in to all of those America-haters across the pond: Saddam didn't listen, others will not necessarily listen either. That's why we have a military. As I recall, Hitler wasn't a good listener either. Maybe that's how we can find out who may be a danger. If the kid won't listen, he or she will probably grow up to be a mass murderer.
The reality - even before the latest proposed increases in military spending - is that America could beat the rest of the world at war with one hand tied behind its back. The requirement that US armed forces be able to fight two fully fledged wars with two separate adversaries simultaneously may recently have been dropped, but only because it would be hard pushed to find two such equal foes to fight.
A single US nuclear-powered carrier group - which forms around the USS Enterprise, for example, with a flight deck almost a mile in length and a superstructure 20 storeys high - concentrates more military power in one naval group than most states can manage with all their armed forces. America has seven of these battle groups.
Well, two points here. First, yes we can whoop any one country's butt at our leisure, but it can cause a drain on our economy. A friend of mine who had served in the Marine Corps has been recalled, he will be spending 6 months as an MP on the East Coast. You can be sure he's not the only one. That's people leaving the private sector to go on the government payroll. Second, check your facts. U.S. aircraft carriers are big, but they're not that big. The max length of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier is just over 1,000 feet in length. If that's "almost a mile," then, well.....I once caught a fish and it weighed at least 2,000 pounds.
'Will the Americans ever fight a war through Nato again?' asks Carl Bildt, former Swedish Prime Minister. 'It's doubtful. The United States reserves the right to itself to wage war, and dumps on others the messy, expensive business of nation-building and peace keeping'.
At last check the U.S. had immediately pledged $300 million in aid to Afghanistan. France had pledged $2 million. Who's the cheapskate in this scenario? Add to that, the war part is the where most of the dying occurs. Peacekeeping is police work. You don't have to take ground, you don't really have to defend it...you just make your presence known. You can ask the Muslims left in Srebrenica if the peacekeepers there were any help when Serbs bent on genocide came calling.
If the Europeans want to complain, we won't stop them. But they'd come whining to the U.S. if the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre got bombed. I don't think the whines from the other side of the pond about American military might would be so loud then.
Spotted this on a board posting. It's good for a laugh.
It is worthwhile to note recent advances in military technology on the part of France.
All French tanks now are equipped with a transmission that has only one speed forward (low-low,slow-slow) and fifteen speeds in reverse. You may laugh at the American Phalanx anti-missile system until you see the new French Frigates, which are equipped with 22 different means to signal surrender. New French military radios transmit surrender on all channels simultaneously.
The New French Aircraft Carrier, the "DeGaulle", had it's propeller fall off. The radiation levels are above standards for human habitation, but French have nothing to worry about because the mass of the testicular area is so much smaller. The Carrier cannot make the speed of it's oil-fired predecessor, and cannot make wind over deck sufficient to launch aircraft at gross weight. The French have rectified that problem by assigning French UN Diplomats who continually expel hot air while an air event is taking place.
There was much discussion about the yellow stripe down the back of the uniforms of the French Army, but you have to admit, it reduces the possibility of injury from friendly fire. "We believe in visibility," said the French Minister of Defense.
Yes, France stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States in combating the forces of evil. Americans remember proudly how the French refused to allow F-111 bombers to overfly France when we (the United States) creamed Libyan dictator Moamar Khadafi, and accidentally (how careless) put a missile into the French compound. And when we talk of military might remember the nation of Cameroon, that was placed under French authority by the United Nations, and the massacres of women and children by French machine guns in the 1950's. Yes the French stand ready, and their military might is not to be underestimated.
Saturday, February 09, 2002
Fred Barnes has an excellent article on a little-publicized event for journalists held every year on the eve of the National Prayer Breakfast.
Cal Thomas, a syndicated columnist and TV talking head, started the dinner more than a decade ago. The first one was held in the Hilton bar, which easily held the 25 people who showed up. The speaker was evangelist Billy Graham.
Mr. Thomas's idea, then and now, was to bring Christians in the media together with their non-Christian colleagues for an evening of fellowship. The aim is to reproduce the conditions under which Mr. Thomas himself became a Christian in 1973--by being exposed to "educated, talented professional journalists who have a relationship with God." Speakers usually talk about their Christian faith in a personal way. There is no altar call.
So what's the significance of the turnout? It obviously doesn't amount to a full-blown revival in the Washington press corps, with masses of hard-bitten reporters converting to evangelical Christianity. Rather, it suggests something more modest, yet still impressive: a turn to faith among dozens of journalists in the nation's capital.
One of these days I'd love to attend this event. This year's speaker was Foxnews anchor Tony Snow.
Mr. Snow's speech was a self-effacing account of what he has learned as a Christian. "I'm kind of a dull guy living an exciting life," he said. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the media are "in a quest for news," not truth. "You want the truth?" Mr. Snow said. "Read this thing." He held up a Bible, which he jokingly summarized this way: "We had this big fight. God wins."
His final point was that we must pray for our enemies because even in them we "see the face of God." At this point, he looked at Sam Donaldson of ABC-TV in the audience. "Sam, you're the face of God." Mr. Donaldson snapped back: "That's a terrible thing to say about God."
Mr. Snow got the last word. "Sam," he said, "I said God has a sense of humor."
Friday, February 08, 2002
New York magazine has an insightful article on the infamous phone call from former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin to the Bush administration, lobbying on behalf of Enron and, by extension, his employer, Citigroup.
So Bob Rubin did what Bob Rubin does. On his own, without consulting Weill or anyone else, he picked up the phone and made what he thought would be the most discreet of calls to Treasury Undersecretary Peter Fisher. Rubin and Fisher weren't strangers -- Rubin knew him from his Treasury days, when Fisher worked at the New York Fed.
"Hey, Peter," Rubin proposed, "this is probably not such a good idea, but what do you think about putting a call in to the ratings agencies? Maybe they could work with Enron's bankers to see if there might be an alternative to an immediate downgrade."
It was a cheeky proposal: Rubin was asking the federal government to meddle in the private business of the independent ratings agencies, Moody's and Standard and Poor's, on behalf of a company with manifold financial and spiritual links to the current administration. Not to mention the fact that he was a major shareholder and executive of one of the two banks that stood to lose the most if Enron went under. "Gee, Bob," Fisher smartly demurred, "I'm not sure if that's advisable at this point."
I've said it before, but Rubin's little phone call was the most questionable move (that we know about) that was made regarding the federal government and Enron. It probably wasn't illegal. But it definitely was unwise.
But for once, Bob Rubin was pushing against a string. By inserting himself into the Enron mess so late in the game, he made his presence physical, not spectral. Which is not how Bob Rubin's power works. For such a famously self-denying man, the call was a rare act of hubris.
The author is right. The call wiped away a little of that aura of omniscience and omnipotence that Rubin had carried for so many years.
Miss Manners may write very pretentiously and aloof, but her "A valentine for all the nice guys" column today is a great one.
They listen as well as talk. They have been known to produce something nice, such as flowers, when it is not required. They even know how to dress, speak and perform other ordinary human functions.
In theory, they are much beloved for all these qualities. It is only when they try to have an actual romance that they run into trouble. So do the objects of their affections, but in that case, the trouble comes when the ladies in question try to explain to their hopeful parents why they are not interested.
Like those poor parents, Miss Manners has never understood what was so unappealing about gentlemen's reliability, and so appealing about the shenanigans and sloppiness of their rude rivals. Or rather, she understands, but does not share, these tastes. Therefore, she feels obliged to warn those nice gentlemen not to get their hopes up.
Thanks for the praise, and warning. Of course, being nice guys, we already knew not to get our hopes up.
Thursday, February 07, 2002
It's old news to some, but it's news to me, and probably to you too. Historically, it's often in time of the greatest persecution that Christianity grows. First reported last year, this appears to be the case in Algeria, where Christianity is experiencing a boom due to a radical Islamic campaign of terror in the country.
The deterioration of the image of Islam during the crisis has played its part in this rise of conversions to Christianity and the adoption of its principles. What is happening and what has happened in Algeria, such as the massacres and killings in the name of Islam, has [sic] led many, when asked what the difference, in their view, was between Islam and Christianity, to declare: "Christianity is life, Islam is death."
A religion fueled by hate cannot overcome one fueled by love. The radical brand of Islam promoted by Saudi Arabia, Iran and people like Usama bin Laden has no future.
Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas agrees with my take (no surprise here) on the brouhaha over the Bush administration's decision to expand a government health insurance program for low-income children to unborn children.
Thomas also highlights some proposed legislation before Congress.
Also last week, Rep. Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican, announced plans to introduce legislation to help pregnancy resource centers acquire ultrasound machines so that pregnant women might see what is growing inside them. Many abortion clinics have such machines but, according to women with whom I have spoken, doctors turn the screen away so they cannot see the image. Several studies of pregnancy resource centers with ultrasound machines have found that nearly 90 percent of abortion-minded women choose to have their babies after seeing the shape and movement of the child in their wombs.
Abortion-rights groups oppose Stearns' bill. Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt says, "They're using medical technology as political propaganda." How is it propaganda to allow a woman to see inside her womb? What Planned Parenthood has been saying about the unborn being unhuman is the real propaganda. The truth is in the picture, which is what the "pro-choice" Feldt doesn't want women to see.
Besides, doesn't the very word "choice" presuppose that there is more than one?
The "pro-choicers" aren't that anymore. They have become de facto pro-abortion.
Please contact your congressman or congresswoman and tell them to support Stearns' legislation. Anything that reduces the number of abortions in the U.S. is something that everyone should be able to support.
I'm anticipating going out with some friends this Sunday afternoon to see "A Walk to Remember." Earlier I voiced concern that Hollywood might have gone out and removed God from the movie. If a recent column by Michelle Malkin is correct, then my concerns were misplaced and I will pleasantly surprised when I see the film.
The movie promotes kindness, abstinence and honesty. It treats young women with respect and encourages the audience to cherish life. It is unapologetically wholesome.
Expect a complete review after I've seen the film.
Wednesday, February 06, 2002
Another reason not to mess with Americans: 42-year old American Tom Johnson beat a horse in a 50-mile desert endurance race.
I have two very good friends who are social workers. Neither, I will note, work for the government. Social work is a challenging, thankless, high-stress, low-pay job. But that doesn't excuse some of the injustices that government Child Protective Services sometimes perpetrates. The fact that 99.9 percent of the time social workers do the right thing should not be lightly dismissed. But the 0.01 percent of the time that they do the wrong thing shouldn't be chalked up as the cost of doing business. That small percentage is host of shattered families.
Foxnews.com highlighted a couple of recent cases where CPS appears to have gone too far.
The first troubling case involves a woman who took her daughter to see her father in prison. The father was in jail for sexually abusing the daughter. Sounds like a stupid thing to do. But not so fast.
(Deborah) Rabideau said she is trying to understand how she can minimize the long-term impact that abuse has on her daughter’s life. "There’s no excuse for what he did and I will not excuse what he did," she said.
But after extensive counseling, Rabideau believed the next step in healing was forgiveness. She thought the best way to help her daughter cope with the trauma was to help her put her anger behind her.
"For her not to forgive him will devastate and ruin her life much more than it will ruin his," she said.
Her daughter "wanted to see her father desperately," Rabideau said, and counselors the family was seeing recommended the visits. "If my daughter didn’t want anything to do with her Dad, I wouldn’t have pushed her," she said.
Rabideau, a Christian, was trying to do what was best for her daughter. Counselors recommended the visits. The state CPS didn't voice any concern until...
Weeks later, Rabideau said state troopers stormed her house without warning, grabbed her daughter and threw the child into a van.
"She was clutching, she was screaming," Rabideau said. "She almost vomited from the violent force with which they threw her into the van," she said. That same day, Rabideau received a notice from the prison informing her officially that she could no longer visit the facility with her daughter.
Rabideau says she would have stopped the visits immediately had she known she was jeopardizing her custody, but that she never received so much as a warning from the state.
Problems here include a lack of communication and the Elian Gonzalez-type of raid that CPS staged. That sort of commando-type abduction can be very emotionally scarring to a young child, especially when it was wholly unnecessary.
Massachusetts authorities are recommending that Rabideau lose her parental rights to the child. A judge will rule on the case in the next few months, but taking this girl away from her mother would be a mistake.
Massachusetts officials are also involved in another case involving overzealousness. Diana Ross (no, not that one) of Ware had her newborn son taken away from her one day after his birth. Why?
The neglect that warranted Aaron Ross being placed in foster care were charges that Ross was not holding him or his bottle properly during feeding.
The hospital staff did not voluntarily file a neglect report on Aaron; they were ordered to by DSS who was aware that Ross was about to deliver. The nurse who filed the report noted in Ross’ medical records that the form was "sent to DSS per their request. DSS aware we are unable to establish neglect in such a short period of time. Form sent regardless."
There's more to the story, of course. Ross has 1 other child in the foster care system. He was placed in the system because Ross' kids had a history of walking around outside unsupervised. Ross definitely isn't a model parent, but CPS in Massachusetts certainly appears to have a certain overzealousness in taking children away from parents.
At one time Ross had two other children in the system, but that changed when one of her sons, 3-year-old Kyle, was mauled to death by the foster parents' rottweiler. Ross had filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the state before her youngest son was taken from her.
The state is currently seeking to have Ross' parental rights terminated. A trial is scheduled for March.
CPS social workers have a tough job to do. But they need to admit that they too make mistakes, and not continue to persecute parents, rather than admitting they are wrong.