Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Update On White, Middle-Class, Belgian Suicide Bomber

Here is an update on the Belgian woman suicide bomber I wrote about yesterday:

MIREILLE, who was born in Belgium to a white, middle-class Christian family, blew herself to pieces last month in a suicide attack against American troops near Baghdad. In one of the most extraordinary tales of Islamic radicalisation, she is thought to be the first white Western woman to carry out a suicide bombing.

Belgian investigators, who arrested 14 people associated with her, are keeping the 38-year-old woman’s true identity secret, but details have started to emerge. She was from the southern Belgian town of Charleroi, married to a Moroccan and converted to an extreme form of Islam.

“This is how she came into contact with the organisation which allowed her to become a fighter for jihad,” said Glenn Audenaert, the federal police director. Her Belgian documents show that she travelled with her husband to Iraq. On November 9 she blew herself up in a car bomb attack on a US military convoy, killing — according to conflicting reports — either only herself, or six people. Her Belgian passport was near by. Her husband was killed by American troops in a separate incident.
As I said yesterday...Sad. Sad. Sad.


Roman Catholics No Longer In "Limbo?"

Captain Ed Morrisey gives all of us Christian folks a "heads up" with a post that offers an inside look into some important stirrings in the Vatican

Specifically, rumor has it that a special theological advisory group will soon be suggesting to Pope Benedict that he declare an end to the teaching of the existance of "Limbo" in the Roman Catholic Church.

Limbo is a non-biblical, theological construct from the Middle Ages, created, in part, to explain the destiny of dead, unbaptized babies.

Captain Ed suggests that, if Limbo goes into limbo, the doctrine of Purgatory may step up to fill in the gap.

Hawaii Supreme Court Ruling Has Important Abortion Implications

From today's Honolulu Advertiser:

The Hawaii State Supreme Court unanimously (5-0) overturned the conviction of a

. . . woman whose newborn infant died because she smoked crystal methamphetamine during her pregnancy.

The high court ruled that the homocide prosecution of Tayshea Aiwohi did not fall under state law because her unborn child was not a "person" when she smoked the drug.
This will no doubt come as a surprise to Scott Peterson who, just one year ago, was conviced of 2nd Degree Murder in the death of his unborn son, Conner.

In the Hawaii case, the mother

. . .said she used ice the three days fefore the birth and took a "hit" on the morning of (her son's) birth.

The baby died two days later of what the city medical examiner's office found was high levels of methamphetamine and amphetamine in his system.

The implications of this ruling are far-reaching.

As one Justice stated in an opinion signed by four of the five Judges (the fifth wrote a separate opinion), the "logical implication" is that a person cannot be prosecuted for causing the death of a child by injuring the pregnant mother.

The reason for this is clear: An unborn child cannot be a "person" when someone other than the mother causes his/her death at the same time that the same child is NOT a "person" if the mother causes his/her death.

I should think that in Hawaii, at least, this would mean that a Doctor who does something prior to a baby's birth that either kills, permanently maims or otherwise injures the child cannot be prosecuted because, at the time of the incident, the unborn child was not yet a "person" under the law.

This would mean that a drunk driver who slams into the car of a pregnant woman and causes either the death of her unborn baby or a miscarriage cannot be prosecuted for the same reasons.

There can be no doubt that this ruling will create years of litigation chaos in Hawaii.

If an unborn child is not yet a "person," what is it? The property of the pregnant woman? (Note: She can't be called the "mother" because there is no "person" to be a mother of!) Does a father have any claim on "ownership" of his unborn child? Or is the unborn child simply an extension of the womans body, like her are or her legs?

Could the person causing harm to the unborn child be charged with personal injury against the pregnant woman? Or with destruction of property?

It is all absurd, of course. And the reason for this absurdity is this:

The Hawaii Supreme Court knows (and almost every other US Appeals Court knows) that to rule that the unborn child is a "person" would have a profound impact on the legality of abortion. Because the law permits a woman to voluntarily dispose of her unborn child at virtually any time during her pregnancy, it MUST follow that the unborn child is not a "person" and is, therefor, not in possession of any personal legal rights, including the rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Because of the illogic of the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, the courts must twist and bend and contort common sense in order to protect this so-called phantom "Constitutional Right" for a woman to have an abortion without legal penalty.

The solution to this is clear.

The U.S. Supreme Court must revisit Roe v. Wade and revoke the Constitutional interpretation on which that ruling was based.

This does not mean that abortion need be declared unconstitutional, of course. The most simple respose is to erase the ruling from Federal jurisdiction completely. All existing state laws (all of which permit abortion in varying degrees) would be untouched. This would return the abortion debate to state legislatures and, if necessary, to the U.S. Congress to determine whatever limits or boundaries should be set both nationally and regionally.

It would appear to me that the definition of what constitutes a "person" under the law should be a Federal matter rather than a state decision. This has precedence in the Federal abolition of slavery, a decision that effectively removed the right of the states to make arbitrary distinctions between what constitutes a "person," half of a person or when a non-person can be deemed to be property (slavery).

The logical solution to this mess is to rule that an unborn child is indeed a "person" but without the full constitutional rights of a full-born person. Perhaps the age of viablility could be considered a legal turning point.

If the law allowed, a woman could be given the legal option of terminating her pregnancy at certain times under certain circumstances. This could even be voted into state constitutions as a "right" if the legislatures and the voters agreed.

In this scenario state law could clearly state that the "right" of the woman to terminate her pregnancy trumps the "right" of the unborn child to be carried to full term and birth.

Such a law would preserve some status of "personhood" for the unborn; allowing for the prosecution of those, other than the prospective mother, who might injure or cause the death or miscarriage of the unborn child.

Until people realize that the Gordian Knot and the legal mess that is Roe v. Wade cannot be unraveled but must be cut to pieces and disposed of entirely at the Federal level, we will continue to have confusion and chaos in every legal matter that pertains to an unborn child.

Personal Note: As a Christian I believe abortion to be a grave moral sin; not an unforgivible sin, certainly, but a sin nontheless. Within the pluralistic context of American society I will do all I can, within the law, to affirm the personhood and protect the human rights of the unborn.

Even so, it is not the Christian Church's role to impose its moral standards on those who have not accepted the Christian faith. It is, however, our Christian moral duty to attempt to pursuade and to influence public opinion on this and many other important matters.

With abortion and other difficult issues, Christians should be very careful to remove the beams from their own eyes before even thinking about pointing out the specks in everyone elses.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Osama bin-Laden Dead? Did Senator Harry Reid Blab Top Secret Report?

Update: It appears that the actual \audio of the Reid interview shows that he did not imply that he had been "informed" of the "bin-Laden is dead" idea; simply that he had "heard" it. Where? Through the grapevine?On the web? At the Senate barbershop? This seems to diminish the charge (written below) that Reid had somehow improperly revealed classified information gotten in some sort of "briefing."

I have frequently criticized bloggers who either just "go" with whatever the daily story is or those who simply ape the bigger bloggers who they look up to and follow like "groupies." It seems that I did the same thing with this story. I should have spent a little time confirming its accuracy. For this I apologize.
"Loose lips sink ships," they say. If that's true then some ship somewhere is filling up with water at this very moment!

The source of this leakage is none other than Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who appears to have suffered a relapse of his seemingly chronic "Loose Lips Syndrome."

Last May he publically made use of an unverifiable reference to a confidential FBI file to damage the reputation of a Bush judicial nominee to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Now, as reported by John Fund,

Is Senator Harry Reid all that swift when it comes to U.S. Intelligence matters? Last Wednesday, the Minority Leader appeared on KRNV-TV's "Nevada Newsmakers" program and dropped a stunning revelation. He had been informed just that day that Osama bin Laden was killed in the giant Pakistan earthquake last month.

"I heard that Osama bin Laden died in the earthquake, and if that's the case, I certainly wouldn't wish anyone harm, but if that's the case, that's good for the world."

Intelligence analysts tell me that the only proper action by a top U.S. Senate leader who has been given such information is radio silence. If the report is true, such information is best released at a moment of the U.S. government's choosing. For one thing, as long as the information is tightly held, it can be used to sift out electronic intercepts that might lead to other Al Qaeda leaders. On the other hand, if Mr. Reid's public speculation proves groundless, it only embarrasses the U.S. and contributes to enemy morale....

If the Navy ever launches a USS Harry Reid I can guarantee that it will sink straight to the bottom. Glub.

ht: Michelle Malkin

Suicide Bomber in Iraq Was Belgian Woman

The Jawa Report records this sad that I expect we will hear more of in the future:

A convert to the ROP (ie. "Religion of Peace" aka "Islam") left FranceJunior (Belgium) to become a suicide bomber in Iraq. Here's the saddest part: her Muslim husband is said to have talked her into it.

According to UPI:
A woman who carried out a suicide attack in Iraq two weeks ago was identified Tuesday as the first European female suicide bomber.

The Belgian anti-terrorism unit has confirmed that the woman was a Belgian citizen who converted to Islam after her marriage to a Muslim fundamentalist, news service RTL reported Tuesday.

American military forces identified the woman at a combat scene in Baghdad. She was carrying recently issued Belgian identity papers which revealed she had traveled via Turkey. There are no traces of her radical husband who is believed to have organized her trip.

One Jawa reader left this pithy comment: "Divorce. Sharia-style."

Sad. Sad. Sad.

Move-On.Org Screws-Up On Anti-War Ad

So many soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan have told me how much they resent the biased and skewed reporting by the American media in their coverage of the conflict.

Opinion Journal has a report from a returned soldier who saw something that left him wondering whether he should laugh or cry:

Yesterday we got an e-mail from an old friend who is a captain in the U.S. Army. He writes:

"I just got back from my third deployment from Iraq on Friday, and I happened to be at the dentist and saw a completely offensive ad from the idiots at this morning. Anyway, it is a Bush-bashing ad that pretends to be arguing for American soldiers families as they will miss the holidays and it shows turkey and crying wives and blames Bush for it all. Here is the crucial part of the ad that I would like to bring to your attention. As they pretend to argue on my behalf, they show a group of soldiers standing around a table in the Middle East."

Here's the scene to which our friend refers:

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"A hundred and fifty thousand American men and women are stuck in Iraq," according to the narration that accompanies this scene.

Our friend (we've cleaned up a bit of his language for civilian consumption) continues:

"These are not your normal everyday U.S. soldiers though. If you look at the frame they are actually British soldiers. One is in shorts (we don't have shorts as a normal combat uniform) and the others are all clearly wearing British pattern fatigues. So, my point is that these [turkeys] pretend to argue on my behalf and bash the president in the name of my crying wife, and they don't even know what an American soldier looks like! Anyway, it really [ticked] me off.

"The only thing that would have made this more galling is if the ad had mentioned that the liberation of Iraq was "unilateral."


Update: Not only did MoveOn get the wrong soldiers in their ad but, when they realized their mistake, their first response was to literally "cover it up!" That tell-tale Brit wearing the shorts just had to go, so the MoveOn folks PhotoShopped some camoflage fatigues onto his bare legs and posted the altered photo on their web least until the news media, being tipped off by dozens of bloggers, started calling them for interveiws on the debacle. With (one would hope) red faces, they have removed both the video ad and the photo from their web site. Score one more for the blogosphere! You can see the altered photo at Michelle Malkin and many other sites as well.

News Flash: George Bush & Tony Blair Forced Clinton to Bomb Serbia!

The Opinion Journal caught this mind-bender this past weekend:

Simon Jenkins, a columnist for London's Sunday Times, comments on reports that President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair toyed with the idea of bombing al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based TV network:
That Blair and Bush should have discussed bombing the Al-Jazeera building in Qatar is hardly surprising. They agreed to bomb the headquarters of Serbian television during the Kosovo war.
Well, color us impressed. Who knew President Bush was already conducting foreign policy back in 1999, when he was still governor of Texas?


FOX News Analyst Gets Un-Fair & Un-Balanced Treatment vs Cindy Sheehan

The Daily Star reports that anti-war zealot Cindy Sheehan will receive $11,000 in student fees to speak at the State University College at Oneonta.

FOX News military analyst and Iraq war veteran Lt. Col. Scott Rutter, who will counter Sheehan in a separate presentation, will receive $600.

Now that's what the far-out left would call, "Fair and Balanced...You Decide."

ht:Michelle Malkin

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Panama Canal Miraflores Locks Video Cures Bordom

Image hosted by Photobucket.comBored? Never fear....hope is on the way!

Just click here and watch one week of shipping traffic at the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal condensed down to just over 11 minutes.

BoingBoing describes it as hypnotic...
Watching the stately dance of the giant ships, day and night, passing through the locks, is like watching ogres waltz -- their grace is perfectly offset by their hulking, container-stacked brutal unloveliness.
As a bonus, watching this video is guaranteed to cure insomnia.

Hanging of the Greens

Tonight our church held its annual "Hanging of the Greens" service. In 30 minutes we sing carols and decorate the Worship Center. When it is beautiful for the Advent Season we head off to the lanai for our first taste of Christmas cookies since last year. Our Preschool children and Adult Choirs also sang. But the evening is especially wonderful for the children.

Here are some photos I took this evening. Click on them to make them bigger! Enjoy....

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......................Before.............. ...........After..........
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..................Preschool Children Sing
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........................Decorating the Tree
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...................Creche.....................Worship Elders
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Personal Correspondance from al-Anbar Province, Iraq

A friend and former member of my congregation is a Marine officer currently deployed in al-Anbar Province in Iraq.

In reply to a recent email, he writes:

I enjoyed getting your letter and I, and all the Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen, are very appreciative of all the prayers and good wishes that are sent our way. I think you might like the article below – I was directly involved with this Operation and can attest the validity of the reporting . . .

This is a very good article that needs to be highlighted. For those of you that have spent time over here, you know what I mean. For those that have not, this article speaks to what is really going on that, of course, is not reported in the mainstream media. Americans need to hear the truth, the whole truth, not just what CNN / Headline News want them to hear.

Semper Fi, (name withheld)

The Badlands of Al Anbar
Cutting the ratlines and quashing the insurgency in Western Iraq
By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
Insurgencies are not put down in a fortnight. But considering the successes in the recent counter-insurgency sweep in Iraq's Al Anbar Province, one fact becomes obvious to anyone with so much as a sliver of an understanding of ground combat operations: Eliminating the insurgency in Iraq is best left to those who best know how to do it.

Not the White House: Americans learned the hard way in both Vietnam and the Iranian desert that the Oval Office should never call the tactical shots once forces are committed to action. President Bush understands this, and thus — to all of our benefit — does not micromanage his commanders in the field.

Certainly not the House and Senate: Many on Capitol Hill seem more concerned about scoring points with their stateside constituencies than they are the Marines and soldiers who must battle the enemy on the ground. And make no mistake, the ground along the Euphrates River valley and up along the Syrian border has been the stage of an ongoing series of running gun-battles between insurgents and coalition troops for months.

Therein lies the obvious: The troops on the ground, taking the fight to the enemy, are the ones who best know how to quash the insurgency. They are doing so systematically. The proof is in the results of their work (whether opponents of the war want to believe it or not), and the vast majority of those troops express no intention of abandoning that country with work to be done.

(Don't miss the rest of the article. Click here to read it all!)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Boston's 'Holiday Tree' Captures the True Spirit of Secularism

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has declared that he will keep calling the city's 48' Nova Scotia spruce a "Christmas tree" regardless of the fact that the city is officially calling it a "Holiday Tree" this year.

"I grew up with a Christmas tree, I'm going to stay with a Christmas tree."

Many conservative Christians are not happy with the removal of "Christmas" from the seasonal symbol.

Neither is the Nova Scotia man who cut the tree down for donation to Boston, a tradition of "thanks" since 1917 for Boston's help in the aftermath of an explosion in Halifax that killed 1,900 people.

Donnie Hatt was indignant and said he would not have donated the tree if he had known of the name change.

"I'd have cut it down and put it through the chipper," he told a Canadian newspaper. "If they decide it should be a holiday tree, I'll tell them to send it back. If it was a holiday tree, you might as well put it up at Easter."

Sorry, Donnie, but you can't celebrate Easter anymore, either. You might call it a "Spring Holiday Tree" but that's about as far as you can go these days, at least in the law-suit-fearing, politically correct, secularist cities on the outer fringes of the United States.

Just wondering..... what other holiday tradition besides Christianity puts up a hewn evergree tree and decorates it with lights, ornaments and tinsel every year in December? Kwazaa? Hannukah? (my Jewish friends had "bushes")

Oh, I see. We just take the symbol and remove what it symbolizes! As a Christian I consider that to be a rape of my faith. The tree is a symbol for the everlasting life that is ours in Jesus Christ whose birthday we celebrate on December 25 each year.

How dare a city take my religious symbol and strip it of its significance. What right does government have to step into my religious tradition and manipulate it for its own commercial purposes.

Whatever happens to the so-called "separation of church and state" when the state can mess with my religion but will not permit me to express my faith in a public place?

If the city of Boston does not want to have a "Christmas Tree" this year then they should not have a tree at all! Period!

Let them put up a totem poll and offend other people for a change.

"Merry Holiday?" Bah.....Humbug!

Help! We're Running Out of Sea Water!

In today's Honolulu Advertiser there is a letter to the editor that is worth posting simply because of its unassailable logic.

It seems that bottled, purified, desalinated deep-sea water is a big thing in Japan these days. It's a fad thing, like the Pet Rocks of legend.

On the Big Island of Hawaii at least two commercial outfits have plugged into this gold mine and are pumping deep-sea water to the surface where they (surprise!)desalinate, purify and bottle it.

This is, most certainly, the inspiration for this letter. I honestly cannot decide if it is a sincere, but naive, effort from a child or sarcasm written by an adult. Read it and decide for yourself!

Selling Hawai'i's sea water is a no-n0. To read that our precious sea water is being sold for commercial profit is very disheartening and needs some soul-searching.

Taking Hawai'i's sea water could eventually cause environmental danger to shorelines and also to seaweed, fish, crab and so on.

Sea water is in this world for many special reasons; selling it is not one of them.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Japanese Spacecraft Lands On Asteroid....Again!

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According to BBC News,

Japan's space agency says it believes its Hayabusa probe has become the first to collect samples from the surface of an asteroid.

The craft made a successful landing on the asteroid Itokawa and fired a small metal ball to loosen surface material for collection, the agency says.

But scientists will only be sure the probe picked up the loose matter in 2007, when Hayabusa return to Earth.

I don't know about you but this story convinces me of two things:

1. Modern technology is amazing and not limited to the United States, and

2. There is no need to send men and women to Mars when research and exploration can be done nearly as effectively, far more safely and much more inexpensively by unmanned space probes.

It is my opinion that the Japanese engineers that designed and built this asteroid mission have the "right stuff!"

I congratulate them and join them in hoping for a successful conclusion to the mission in 2007.

Michael Jackson: "Jews Are Leeches" and I'm Converting To Islam

Well, the King of Pop is soon to be a Muslim living in Bahrain. At least that's the story coming out of that small kingdom today.

American pop star Michael Jackson has officially announced that he has been following the five tenets of Islam and intends to convert to Islam, according to a report on the website of Arab-Israeli newspaper Panorama.

The report is based on information elicited from sources in Bahrain.

According to the report, Jackson’s announcement noted he is moving to Bahrain and has purchased some real-estate on an artificial island there. The singer said he decided to convert to Islam because he is convinced it is the closest religion to his personal beliefs.

According to a phone recording released last week, among Jackson's "personal beliefs" is one that considers Jews to be "leeches."

According to that story,
Jackson is heard saying that "they're like leeches…I'm so tired of it. They start out the most popular person in the world, make a lot of money, big house, cars and everything. End up penniless. It is a conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose."

I suppose that fits in with most Muslim attitudes these days, at least in the Middle East.

The story of Jackson's conversion to Islam continues,
Jackson also noted he intends to soon move all his assets and his studio from the U.S. to Bahrain, and expressed his hope to be rid of various legal troubles and enjoy the kind of freedom he says he does not have in America.
Considering that Jackson is supposed to be flat broke, how does he come up with enough money to buy and artificial island and house in Bahrain? And what assets does he have that are not already claimed by creditors?

In any case, it looks as though Neverland will be left behind for good.

I wonder if we have an extradition treaty with Bahrain?

I also wonder if child molestation is considered to be a crime there? Maybe Jackson will name his new home, "Pleasure Island."

Jackson has been a creative and talented entertainer. He is also, as I have stated before, a very troubled man. I cannot, in good faith, wish him well in the new path he appears to be taking. I would prefer to see him submit to the judgement of God, repent and be "born again" into a new and improved Jackson rather than to see him pick a religion because it "comes close" to agreeing with his own beliefs.

What about his hope that he will "enjoy the kind of freedom he says he does not have in America"? Well, when you have enough money, you can enjoy freedom without accountability in just about any corrupt, despotic country you care to choose.

It is only in nations that believe all individuals are to be held equally accountable under the law that a rich man or woman loses the freedom to do whatever they want.

If this is freedom for Michael Jackson, then perhaps it is better for all of us for him to live in Bahrain.

HT: lgf

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Jihad Comes To Oakland Like "A Clockwork Orange"

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe security videos capture the African-American men, all dressed in suits and bow-ties, as they enter the grocery stores in Oakland. They also capture them smashing the stores to pieces (with special attention to the liquor and beer displays) with their hands and with metal batons.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe arrogant coolness of these "men with a mission" is chillingly reminiscent of the gang of thugs in Stanley Kubric's "A Clockwork Orange."

No one was badly beaten or raped, however, but Charles Johnson at LGF notes that the men's sartorial splendor looks suspiciously similar to that worn as the unofficial "uniform" of members of the Nation of Islam.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comStore owners were accused of "poisoning our neighborhoods;" a clear reference to the selling of alcohol, a beverage forbidden in Islam.

Has sharia law come to Oakland?

My guess is, "Yes."

Thanksgiving In Hawaii

Image hosted by Photobucket.comJJ was born in Korea, was a prima ballerina and speaks four languages. She has also recovered from a heart attack that left her without a heart-beat in the emergency room.

Dorothy was born in mainland China, has nearly recovered from a stroke and just returned from a trip to China where she keeps in touch with members of her family. As always, she took plenty of Christian Chinese literature to give away to Christians there....(she knows people in both the state-endorsed and the unapproved and often persecuted house churches).

Image hosted by Photobucket.comSean was, a few years ago, a member of the Hawaii State Champion High School Football Team at St. Louis High School in Honolulu.

Quinton and Kalen are brothers who are swim champions and Eagle Scouts. Kalen is also a triathlon and cross-country champion in his age group.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comBarry is an expert on submarines

Judy leads and teaches the Hawaii Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) in Honolulu.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comNot to mention a U.S. Navy officer, a tile and ceramic wholesaler, four nurses, a university faculty member, a retired military meteorologist, a church organist, an administrative assistant (for a US Congressional-sponsored international relations project that brings future political, diplomatic and military leaders together for seminar training from the Pacific Basin, South and South-East Asia and the Middle East), a U.S. Postal Service employee (aka "mailman" or "letter carrier"), and an assortment of children and young people.

And me, Bird of Paradise (aka "Pastor").

What a great group of people to share Thanksgiving Dinner with this year.

As you can imagine, there were plenty of interesting conversations taking place around the various tables.

Everyone filled out a card and listed something they were thankful for:

The most frequent reason for being thankful was family, followed by knowing God's saving love in Jesus Christ, being a part of a loving church family and then a mix of health and other assorted blessings.

What are your reasons for being thankful this year?

Ordinarily my Wonderful Wife and I host the "open-invitation" dinner at our home each year. With my wife still recovering from a hospital stay less than two weeks ago, the Submarine guy and his BSF/nurse wife were kind enough to offer their home instead.

So....the bad news is that we didn't get to keep all the left-overs when everyone left....but...the good news is we didn't have to set up the house and clean it up afterwards!

Usually I have a snack in the evening before going to bed. Tonight I am too filled with turkey and the blessings of friends and family to even think of adding anything more.

Court Rules Girl Will Not Be Returned To Her Parents...Huh?

When Anna Mae He was born in Tennesee back in 1999, her parents, immigrants from China, were facing financial and legal problems.

Shaoquiang "Jack" He and Qin Luo "Casey" He did not feel that they could provide stable care for their first-born child until these matters had been resolved. Accordingly, they arranged for Jerry & Louise Baker to have what they believed was temporary custody of her.

When, some months later, the Hes returned to get their daughter, the Bakers said, "No."

At issue was the fact that the girl's parents had not visited her in over four months. The Bakers declared something to the effect that this constituted legal abandonment.

When the courts became involved, they ruled on behalf of the Bakers.

Yesterday, a state appeals court upheld that ruling.

Shaoqiang He, who now works as manager of a Chinese restaurant in Memphis, responded by saying, "We don't understand why it is so difficult for our family to be reunitied."

The Hes, who still hold Chinese citizenship, are still wondering, after five years of legal battles, what they did wrong?

I also wonder about this.

Anyone who has ever worked with the child welfare system, the child protective services or the foster care programs know how hard it is to permanently take a child away from their natural parent or parents.

Parents must be proven to be unfit in a court of law.

Before the legal ties that naturally bind child to parents can be broken, the parent/s are given repeated opportunities to "get their act together." They may go through drug rehabilitation programs...even serve out a jail term. The child, in the meantime, is placed in foster care only if there are no other family members or close friends willing and able to care for them.

Even when the decision has been made, a process that often take years, the parents are given numerous rights to appeal that decision.

In every case the legal responsibility rests with the county or state to prove that the parents are unfit.

When there is any uncertainty at all, courts will almost always err on the side of the child's parents.

Even when a newborn child has been legally released for adoption, the birth-parent has a relatively long period of time to reconsider their decision and to revoke the legal declaration that they had signed earlier.

What is it about this case in Tennessee that makes it so different?

The He family is now stable. They have regular income. They have two other children that they are providing for. There is no record that they have ever abused any of their children and there is no evidence that they have ever acted out of anything short of having their children's best interests in mind.

Why, I wonder, are the Bakers so defiant? Why do they demand to keep someone else's child as their own? Is "possession" 9/10 of the law in Tennessee?

The Chinese Embassy has publicly supported the He's attempts to regain custody of their daughter and has led Chinese community groups to complain of cultural bias in Tennessee courts.

The He's are already planning their next appeal which will be to the State Supreme Court. It is unlikely, I think, that it will go beyond there as I cannot see any Constitutional matter at issue. I'm sure that route will be pursued, however, if the He's should lose again at the state level.

Pray for Anna May. Pray for her parents. Pray for the Bakers. Pray for the Tennessee Supreme Court justices who will hear this case. Pray that God will "works for the good" in this sad, sad and seemingly unnecessary impasse.

Pew Poll Results Predetermined by Who They Chose To Ask

Powerline's John Hinderacker has a wonderful post today in which he dissects what, on the surface, are polling results that appear to show overwhelming lack of support for the war in Iraq.

Based on what is revealed about the demographic status of the pre-selected subject samples it becomes clear that the results of ths Pew Poll were pre-determined from the start.

Read the poll. Read the post. We report....You decide.

Jordan Becomes the First Arab State To Declare War On Terror

(Note: This may be the most important article I have ever posted. It has been written with fear and trembling).

AP has released remarkable story today. It is so full of hope and is such a wonderful Thanksgiving Day present that I'm about to bust....and I haven't even eaten dinner yet!

On the other hand the implications of this story may be almost apocalyptic.

I have always known that, at some point, an Arab nation would be pushed to the point of saying, "Enough!" to the likes of bin Laden, Zarqawi and the so-called theological school of thought that justifies their use of lethal force against anyone that may be considered to be an infidel....even other Muslims.

Well, today the time has come. King Abdullah II of Jordan has said, "Enough!"

Here are some excerpts from the story:

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- Jordan's King Abdullah II appointed a new prime minister Thursday and urged him to launch an all-out war against Islamic militancy in the wake of the deadly triple hotel bombings earlier this month....

(We reaffirm) our need to adopt a comprehensive strategy to confront the Takfiri culture," Abdullah said, referring to the ideology adopted by al-Qaida and other Islamic militants who condone the killing of those they consider infidels.

Abdullah said the strategy should "not only deal with the security dimension, but also the ideological, cultural and political spheres to confront those who choose the path of destruction and sabotage to reach their goals."

The king called for a "relentless war on all the Takfiri schools, which embrace extremism, backwardness, isolation and darkness and are fed on the ignorance and naivete of simple people."

I have no doubt that Abdullah's father, the late King Hussein, would be proud of his son today. I am, too.

By God's grace, other Arab nations will follow suit.

War has been declared. As a direct result there will be much violence in the Arab Middle East.

Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia will be hit hardest at first. It is uncertain whether the government in Egypt, in particular, will be able to stand.

The goal of the Bin Laden's, the Zawahiri's and the Wahabbi, Takfiri, Muslim Brotherhood and Taliban ideologies is to remove the governments of every Muslim nation, replace those governments with a unified rule under Sharia law, and, ultimately, to remove national boundaries entirely, thereby creating a vast, pan-Muslim "empire" that will sweep across the world for Islam.

To use a word that is anathema to them, these folks are "crusaders" in the worst sense of the word.

Western nations will be hard-pressed to step in and assist these soon-to-be embattled nations, yet great restraint must be shown lest the Muslim populations be swayed on impulse to join the Islamists simply to resist the "non-Muslim infidels."

This new "war" must be fought between Muslim and Muslim; Imam and Imam.

The violence, however, will likely spread across Europe and Asia (including the southern republics of the former Soviet Union) all the way to the Philippines.

It is also likely that the intentional and strategic freeze on direct attacks on the United States (a strategy designed to prevent any rise in support for the war in Iraq) will also be swept away.

In the end, only God and Muslims will be able to resolve this matter.

Until now, however, it has all been pre-game warm-up.

What King Abdullah has done today may, in retrospect, be seen as the game's opening kick-off.

Being Thankful In Hawaii

Image hosted by Today is Thanksgiving and the Honolulu Advertiser published two pages of letters to the editor from local people telling what they are thankful for. The names of the letter-writers have their own stories to tell. Their names represent the story of Hawaii. Indeed, they are Hawaii. For the privilege of living among them….for this I am Thankful!

Hale, Buss, Medeiros, Yang, Spadavecchia, White, Mori, Rieben, Perry, Gibbons, Lui-Kwan, Choy, Lihilihi, Eng, Powell, Sussman, Ruidas, Sawyer, Koki, Tenn, Villalino, Sandry, Cassen, Levey, Ballucanag, Grotstein, Aldenderfer, Aki, Abraham, Cazinha, Guerrero, Rarangol, & Fujiyoshi.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Brazil's Police 'Execute Thousands'

A BBC investigation has determined that "hundreds, if not thousands," of Brazilians are executed" by Brazilian police each year.

"Around 60% of the bodies of people that were killed by the police had more than six shots," explains (Former police ombudsman Professor Julita) Lemgruber.

"Most of them [were shot] in the head and in the back - mostly executions."

It was reported that "in the state of Rio alone, the police killed 983 people last year. The figure is similar for Sao Paulo."

A former military policeman, Gordinho (not his real name), says executions by police death squads are common.

"Everyone knows the police here in Rio de Janeiro... nearly all of them abuse their authority," he says.

Most people killed by police are criminals caught up in raids, officials say "When you get excited you feel you are the law... The shooting cases you hear about, most of them are executions.

"It's all premeditated--very cold-blooded and calculated."

The story is quite chilling. It makes Iraq seem like a safe place in comparison!

Dying for a Drink--England Volunteers To Help

Image hosted by Photobucket.comTwo news stories today struck me as somehow related.

The first, from BBC, tells of new regulations in England and Wales that will permit 1000 pubs, clubs and supermarkets to sell liquor 24-hours a day. In these establishments there will never again be anyone to say, "Sorry, mate. We're closing up. Time to go home."

In the second story, we read of a 34 year-old man in Norway who downed 19 shots of tequilla in 90 minutes. He then fell into a coma and died. The bartender who served him the drinks was sentenced to 6-months in jail.....not for causing his death, but for serving drinks to an intoxicated man.

The story also noted that the bartender apparently tricked the man into thinking he was engaged in a drinking contest by downing shots of water to encourage the other man to keep drinking!

I suppose that popping into the pub for a "quick one" at 3 am might seem better than draining a bottle of vodka in your apartment by yourself. On the other hand, if you were already home, you wouldn't have to drive anywhere afterwards.

Note: As some sort of a public service the BBC attached a link to an article entitled "How Much Is Too Much?" Apparently the man in Norway hadn't read it. Too late now......

Christian Top 1000

Christian Top 1000 is a blog aggregator that bills itself as "The Ultimate Christian Directory." I discovered it while reading another blog recently and decided to sign up. Blogs are listed in order of visits per day. I landed at #251 out of 2300 blogs listed.

I am seven spots above "Teen Girl Hangout" and five spots behind "Jesus--About My Return." Personally, I would think that Jesus' blogsite would have been ranked higher than that. But, then again, I am only ranked 10 places below "The Word of God" which, I should think, places me in some good company.

Japanese Spacecraft DID Land on Asteroid

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The probe's shadow is clearly seen on the asteroid last Sunday

Last Sunday, Japanese space officials lost track of their Hyabusa Space Probe for three hours during what they later said was a failed attempt to land the probe on an asteroid. Today, however, they have determined that the craft DID, in fact, land on the asteroid and remained on the surface for at least a half-hour before taking off again.....but without any rock or soil samples.

The fact that the landing was a success is a great acheivement, technologically. Scientifically, however, it was a great disappointment.

As a result, the craft is being maneuvered back to the asteroid for an attempt at a second landing.......this time with the hope that it will pick up some rocks or gravel or something for scientists to analyze when, and if, it safely returns to earth.

Hugh Hewitt's Pol Poll Poses Problematic Positions

I love taking on-line polls. I think this is because I scored well on standardized tests when I was younger. In some subliminal way, taking a poll sort of makes me feel like I might win something. But, of course, I never do.

Hugh Hewitt, the “Hockey Commissioner of Minnesota,” has posted a poll at his blog today. I have no issue with the lists of "usual suspects" who may or may not be contending in the 2008 Presidential campaign.

I do, however, wonder at the choices we are given in the two multiple-choice responses at the end of the poll.

The first question gives three ways to finish this sentence:” The Republican majority in the United States Senate is: "Too Confrontational," "Just Right" or "Too Collaborative with Democrats."

Surely none of these choices comes close to representing the clear consensus of Conservatives, which is to say: “A bunch of wimps.”

Regarding ANWR, we are told that one can either believe it to be "A national security issue of supreme importance," "A useful bit of exploration that will bring oil prices down in a few years" or "A disastrous despoiling of the wilderness that should left as it is for future generations."

I cannot agree with either the second of the third choices but why does the only choice left seem to be so extreme?

Most conservative folks would agree with Hugh that ANWR is a security issue. But of "supreme importance?" Probably not. Supreme means, the "highest," as in, "there is no other security issue that ranks higher than this.

Hyperbole may score points in a debate but, in a poll, it puts words into people's mouths that make the answer taste as though there was too much chili or thyme in the entree than the recipe called for.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Gaza Palestinians Launch Fake Kosher Products Into Israel

A "Krembo" is a round biscuit topped with foamy cream and chocolate. It is a seasonal kosher treat popular with Jews all over the world.

No one at the border crossing between Gaza and Israel had ever heard of "Sambo's Krembos" before (I'm serious....I am not making this up!). After some investigation the Krembos were found to have been made in Gaza and packaged with forged kosher lables and certificates.

When the question arose as to whether the "Sambo Krembos" might possibly have been successfully exported overseas, one man claimed that he had seen them in a kosher store in Cooper City, Florida.

It is not true that Israeli border guards spent several hours checking out each fraudulent Krembo to see if plastic explosives, ammunition or suicide bombers had been hidden inside.

When questioned concerning this rumor the guards were unable to answer. It seems that they were still too busy licking their fingers.

(Sambo's? Krembos? You've got to be kidding...Right?.....)

A British (Tongue-In-Cheek) Take on the Panther's Cheerleader Escapade

Golly gee, I just love British humor. Even British journalism is so grounded in satire that sometimes you can't tell whether you're hearing the truth or a little fib, slipped into the narrative just for fun.

This article on the two Carolina Panther's Cheerleaders (who were allegedly "holding hands" with each other in a toilet stall in a night club's women's room) is a perfect example.

Fact and fiction and glittering pom-poms give the article the sort of "savoir faire" and "joie de vivre" that invariably eludes American writers.

Click on the link and give it a read. You'll be laughing with a stiff upper lip in no time.

Note: Sorry, no pictures. At least no real good pictures. Sorry.

Poor Embattled France Now Hit By Rail Strike

French rail workers went on strike today, shutting down nearly 60% of the country's rail service. The workers want reassurances that the government is not planning to privatize any of the national railroad system. The assurances were, of course, immediately doubt with a defiant apology for the misunderstanding and a brave and courageous pledge to increase the worker's pay by whatever they suggest.

The timing of the strike is believed to have been triggered by the realization that, in the wake of the recent national riots, there were only 39 unburned (although slightly singed) cars left in the entire country, leaving commuters held hostage to the rail system.

A spokesman for the nation's disenfranchised, unemployed immigrant youths, begged to differ, saying that his sources had reported that there were at least 48 cars still operable in France and that, working in solidarity with the rail workers, his group would try and finish off the remaining cars within the next two or three days.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Renault vehemently denied rumors that company executives had been seeing torching Renault dealerships in the hopes of increasing their declining production levels.

Teen Killer of Girlfriend's Parents, "I Intended to Kill Them. And I Did."

18-year old David Ludwig has confessed to having killed the father and mother of his 14-year old girlfriend after her father refused to allow him to see her anymore.

Kara Borden also confessed that she saw Ludwig shoot her father. As she ran away she saw him point the pistol at her mother. Soon after, she says, she ran to Ludwig's car and voluntarily drove away with him. According to her statement, Kara said that she wanted to get "as far away as possible, get married and start a new life."

I can't wait to stay home and miss the movie.

CNN Slaps "X-Rating"On Cheney During Speech Today

Image hosted by According to Drudge Report, when CNN did a live telecast of Vice-President Dick Cheney delivering a speech at the American Enterprise Institute this morning, a mysterious, large, black "X" appeared superimposed over his face at regular intervals, each time for less than a second.

The photo at the top of the post was taken from a "freeze frame" on a video of the broadcast.

CNN has not yet responsed to enquiries nor yet offered any explaination.

I suppose that someone at CNN will lose their job over this.....unless they are given a promotion, instead!

UPDATE: After a good airing out on the internet (bless their pajama-bottomed souls) the concensus is that the "X" appeared as part of a video/electronic glitch. You can just hear the sound of air being sucked out of everyone who thought they had discovered another MSM conspiracy! Michelle Malkin has the final update and Hugh Hewitt has some good links to wrap this story up good and tight.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Locked Door Hinders Bush's Escape In China

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIn Beijing, China, and wanting to conclude a press conference today, Bush said, "Thank you," and walked stage right to a large set of double doors. He grabbed the handle to open the door and abruptly laughed. The door was locked.

With a slow Jack Benny deadpan and then a shy grin, Bush faced the reporters and said, "I tried to escape....but it didn't work!"

As the reporters laughed, Bush exited behind the stage backdrop.

The incident was very human and even amusing. You can read about it and even watch the video. But first you have to go to the BBC.

New Evidence: Man Executed 12 Years Ago Was Innocent

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An apparently innocent 17-year old Cantu in 1984

Ruben Cantu was only 17 in 1984 when he was accused of murdering one man and nearly killing a second man in Texas. During the trial his fate was sealed when the only eyewitness (the man who survived) identified him as the killer and his co-defendent chose not to tell prosecutors that Cantu had not been with him the night of the killing.

In 1993, at the age of 26, Cantu, who always had claimed he was innocent, was executed.

Recently both the eyewitness and the co-defendent signed affidavits swearing that Cantu had been wrongly charged, convicted and executed.

The eyewitness (who was an illegal immigrant) said he had been pressured by police to identify Cantu and the shooter.

The co-defendent did not say why he failed to waive prosecutors away from Cantu. Perhaps it was because he might then have been charged with the murder? Or that he had been threatened by the real killer not to reveal anything to the police?

In any case, I was struck by the story for this reason: If either of these two men had done the right thing during the trial, Cantu would be alive today. Whether pressured by police or not....whether threatened by the real murderer or not....they were the ones who held Cantu's life in their hands.

So, what does the eyewitness to the shooting, who knowingly falsely identified Cantu as the killer, say?

You've got a 17-year-old who went to his grave for something he did not do. Texas murdered an innocent person.
Yes, my friend, but you led him to the slaughter. You kissed him on the cheek. You and the co-defendent collected the 30 pieces of silver and it has taken you 21 years to come to the same conclusion that took Judas Iscariot only hours.

The news report did not make any reference to a Potter's Field.

Note: Although I do not consider the "death penalty" to be inherently immoral, this story illustrates one of the reasons I oppose its use in our legal system. I believe it should be abolished because it is frequently applied unjustly.

Writer/Blogger Michelle Malkin Has Had It Up To HERE!

Image hosted by Photobucket.comConservative blogger extraordinaire Michelle Malkin has finally called out the racist hate-filled supposedly liberal bottom-feeders who have repeatedly called her a "whore" and made derogatory attacks on her race (Asian), her husband (a Jewish professional who, since his wife's career took off, now stays at home and helps with their two children) and have called her conservative views a pathetic attempt to mimic her "white masters."

You can read her stirring and empassioned response here.

As for me, perhaps I have lived in Hawaii for too long (13 years). Even though she has her photograph posted at the top of her blog-site (which I visit often) I had never realized until today that she WAS Asian!

Ah, me. Perhaps if I was a true liberal such things would matter to me. Sigh.....

Time Magazine Skewers Islam With Cartoon of the Week

LFG mentioned this in a post today. I checked it out and can not believe the political cartoon I found at the Time Magazine site. If this cartoon had appeared on Little Green Footballs Charles Johnson would have been immediately condemned as a bigot or worse.

It will be interesting to hear how Muslims and the "lovers-of-tolerence" folks will react to a political cartoon like that I, personally, consider to have fallen over the edge of propriety.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Catholic Catechism For Laughs

Is it possible that the Roman Catholic Church has finally found a way to lighten up just a little bit? Has the Vatican given its imprimatur to this idea? Will Catechists have to stifle their giggles during class?

Check it out. Go to and type in "Church Humor" and then look at what pops up at number 18!

Coming soon: "St. Chuckles of Chalcedon Cracks the Comic Code of Aquinus!"

By the way, have you heard the one about the priest the rabbi and the Presbyterian minister........?

200,000 Jordanians Publically Condemn Zarqawi

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Al-Husseini Mosque, Amman

Between 200,000-250,000 Jordanians gathered in Jordan today to protest the terrorism of the Jordanian-born Palestinian known as Zarqawi. According to reports, the protest began at the al-Husseini Mosque and grew ever larger as it moved 1-1/2 miles from the downtown Suq (shopping area), ending at a large rally at the Amman City Hall.

The people held signs and chanted slogans such as, "Zarqawi, from Amman, we say to you: 'You are a coward.'"

Many other signs identified people as representing the many different tribal groups in Jordan...both Bedouin and Palestinian.

The media reports that, "An anti-terrorist demonstration of such size is unprecedented in the Arab world."

It appears that Arabs themselves are beginning to draw their own "lines in the sand' and declare, "This shall not stand!"

As I have said repeatedly over the past year, there will be no resolution of Islamist terrorism until the Muslim world itself rises up and takes a stand against it.

Certainly, there was no Muslim vs. Muslim sentiment expressed today in Amman (although the act of one Muslim murdering other innocent Muslims is unjustifiable to many Muslims....especially when it happens in YOUR neighborhood!). The issue was more political and nationalistic in nature....a declaration of Jordanian solidarity against an enemy who, by attacking Jordanians and Palestinians in Amman, had attacked them all, personally.

In this sense, the anger directed against Zarqawi today was intensly personal in nature. Each Jordanian there was letting Zarqawi know that he was hated by each of them, personally. A strong message that this al-Qaeda affiated terrorist will most certainly have to take to heart.

In another blunder, this time two-fold, Zarqawi released a statement intended to explain himself but will most certainly only make the Jordanian people even more outraged.

According to CNN, Zarqawi (referring to the Radisson Hotel were over 30 people attending a Jordanian/Palestinian wedding receiption were killed) denied that the wedding party was a target.

Instead, he praised who he called the "three lions (who) left their dens in Iraq and headed to the heart of Amman to carry out the blessed attacks against three targets known to be headquarters of Jews, Crusaders and other enemies of God." (He did not make reference to the would-be suicide wife who was arrested after her failed attempt to blow herself up along with her husband at the Radisson wedding reception).

Zarqawi declared that the evidence that one of the bombers purposely blew himself up amid the crowded wedding party as "baseless lies fabricated by the evil Jordanian intelligence services." Instead, he suggested that the bomb may have exploded on the floor above the reception, causing the ceiling to collapse; then adding,

Oh, our people in Jordan, what do we have to do with explosions amidst wedding celebrations? If we wanted to blow up our bombs in such places, be mindful that wedding halls are all over the country, open to everyone with no guards or security risk.
No doubt these words will fall on deaf ears of a Jordanian population that, following the November 9th bombings, gathered in the streets of Amman chanting, "Burn in hell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!"

The evidence is clear and undeniable....and backed up by the full confessions of one of the attackers on the Radisson Hotel....that the suicide bombers freely chose to place themselves in that wedding reception in order to kill and injure as many of those people as possible. Unless they were blind they could have easly seen that there were few, if any, Israelis or Americans in that room that night.

Zarqawi can blame the Jordanian Security folks for lying all he wants. The Jordanian people know better. He has proven himself to be a liar and a traitor to not just the ordinary Jordanian and Palestinian individual, but to the religion of Islam, as well.

The second blunder in Zarqawi's alleged tape message today is to declare King Abdullah of Jordan "an infidel and a traitor." The Jordanian people may well wonder, "A traitor to what? A traitor to who? Zarqawi? Islam?"

The motto for the country of Jordan is, "Allah (God), Homeland, The King: Jordan First."
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King Hussein (l.) & King Abdullah II (r.)

By attacking King Abdullah as well as bombing hotels in Amman Zarqawi has hit the people of Jordan where they are the most passionate. Most Jordanians love Abdullah almost as much as they loved his father, the late King Hussein. Abdullah earned his own way through the Jordanian version of Special Forces and, although his power is almost absolute (he can be over-ruled by a 2/3 vote of both houses of the freely-elected National Assembly), he is trusted as one who sincerely puts the interests of the people of Jordan first in all things.

Zarqawi can never hope to attain the level of support in Jordan enjoyed by Abdullah. Given a choice, all but the most marginalized and radical Palestinians living in Jordan would choose Abdullah in a second.
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King Abdullah II & Family

This second blunder is compounded by attacking the King personally with this threat,

(King Abdullah) "Your star is fading. You will not escape your fate, you descendant of traitors. We will be able to reach your head and chop it off."
This final charge will be particulary galling to Muslims since Abdullah is the Great Great Grandson of the Sharif (religious leader) of Mecca and a member of the Hashimite tribe which traces its roots back to the Great Grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad himself. (...a "descendent of traitors" ....hmmmm.)

If you listen very carefully you can hear the sound of millions of Jordanians scratching Zarqawi's name off of their 2005 Christmas lists.

Iraq Ranks #4 in Middle East Freedom Index

Each year the British-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranks countries according to an Index of Political Freedom.

When applied to 20 Middle Eastern countries the EIU ranked them as follows (with the most free getting the highest score):

Israel: 8.20
Lebanon: 6.55
Morocco: 5.20
Iraq: 5.05
Palestine: 5.05
Kuwait: 4.90
Tunisia: 4.60
Jordan: 4.45
Qatar: 4.45
Egypt: 4.30
Sudan: 4.30
Yemen: 4.30
Algeria: 4.15
Oman: 4.00
Bahrain: 3.85
Iran: 3.85
UAE: 3.70
Saudi Arabia: 2.80
Syria: 2.80
Libya: 2.05

First of all, note that the nation most criticized and excoriated and censured by the United Nations and by all other Middle Eastern countries is also, by far, the home of the freest people in the region--Israel.

Also not the irony of having Lebanon ranked second from the top...having just recently been liberated from the oppressive occupation of Syria...which is ranked second from the bottom!

Iraq, which only a few years ago would have ranked at or near the bottom has, like an unbeaten/untied college football team, moved up in the regional rankings with amazing speed! Could it be that the United States military intervention in that country has had anything to do with this?

I find it remarkable that "Palestine" receives the same score as "Iraq." Yes, Iraq is not yet either stable or secure....but neither is Palestine. Everyone who claims that Iraq is in the process of becoming a representative democracy would be given some measure of credibility by most people...even those who may disagree with that assessment.

But what about Palestine? Does anybody really believe that people are being governed by the people they have freely chosen? Does anyone truly believe that the Palestinian government is anything but corrupt, inept and powerless to even police its own streets? Does anyone truly believe that there is any semblance of multi-party participation in the government?

In Palestine the voters are threatened and cowed by local terrorists.

In Iraq, however, the voters have defied the threats and attempts at coercion by local terrorists.

I suspect that next year's list will bring about a well-deserved and growing gap between Iraq and Palestine. The one going up....the know.

By the way, here is the criteria used for making the list:

Election of head of government
Election of parliament
Fairness of electoral laws
Right to organise political parties
Power of elected representatives
Presence of an opposition
Minority participation
Level of corruption
Freedom of assembly
Independence of the judiciary
Press freedom
Religious freedom
Rule of law
Property rights

Friday, November 18, 2005

U.S. Congress Says, "Leave Them There!"

What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday's poster child for the Democratic Party as the voice of both the people and the military was Representative John P. Murtha (D/PA). At a well-attended and well-covered press conference Murtha demanded the "immediate redeployment" of U.S. troops in Iraq, claiming that their mission had been completed.

Today the House Republicans took Murtha up on his demands and submitted a bill that would demand the President to begin immediate withdrawal of troops beginning as soon as possible.

So, the bluff was called. The bill submitted for a vote. And those squawking Democrats, including Kucinich, Pelosi and, yes, even Murtha, all voted unanimously to prevent any vote on the measure at all.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, enough Republicans voted to ensure that the House would immediately proceed to an actual vote.

At the end of the day, only three Democrats voted for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq(McKinney (GA) Serrano (NY) & Wexler (FL)). And SIX (Capuano,Clay, Hinchey, McDermott, Nadler & Owens) refused to enter a vote at all--simply listing themselves as being "Present." The final vote? 3 against the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

This is the party that wants to be in control of United States foreign policy? A party that says one thing for political effect but, when it comes down to a vote, backs away from just about the only policy suggestion they have made during the past two years.

Watching this play out today I was reminded of the wonderful scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where, under heavy resistance during a seige on a castle, the good knights retreat to the rear, crying out, "Run away! Run Away!"

If nothing else, Rep. Murtha (who voted twice against what more or less amounted to his own suggestion) has been effectively discredited as a US military policy wonk. Today's defeat was so complete and the beating, humiliation and embarrassment of the Democrats in general and Murtha in particular was so severe that it may well qualify Murtha for his third Purple Heart for injuries sustained in combat.

When the water starts to boil over on my stove I pour some oil on it to help "simmer it down."

Today the Republican Congress not only poured a little oil on the Democrat's head of steam but probably threw a bucket or two of cold water on the fire under their kettle as well.

Note: Yes, I know that the Republican resolution did not match Murtha's proposal in any but a general sense....and, yes, I know that one Republican Representative quoted a Marine in a way that insinuated that Murtha is a "coward." And, yes, these two things dampen any Republican claim to have taken the "high road" today. Nonetheless, the matter of "immediate withdrawal" demanded by so many on the far left wing of the Democratic Party actually got a hearing and an opportunity for some comments directly related to this matter to be permanently recorded in the Congressional Record. In the end, while the Republicans did not come out looking very good, the Democrats came out looking pretty bad.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

US Congressman John P. Murtha Says, "Bring Them Home!"

Image hosted by Photobucket.comU.S Representative John P. Murtha (D/PA) made several debatable assertions in a speech today, calling for the immediate "redeployment" of American troops in Iraq (the speech in its entirety can be found here).

The gist of his speech can be found in his opening and closing paragraphs:

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

....Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.
(emphasis his)
He gives many reasons for his conclusions and I encourage you to read them. Unfortunately, his reasons are based far more on public emotion and partisan political aspirations than on any objective reality...especially in Iraq or among our US military.

Rep. Murtha is a veteran with 37 years service in the US Marine Corps. He is to be commended and respected for his service.

His military service does not, however, categorically give his opinions on US military involvement in Iraq any more weight those of anyone else who is in elected or appointed office with authority over US foreign policy and defense.

The point he makes may be worthy of debate but the evidence he musters in support of that point is shaky at it best and dead wrong at its worst.

For example, he states,

....the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.
Now no one is going to argue that the US intelligence on pre-war Iraq was anything but a total failure. It is wrong, however, to say that, "It (was) not a world intelligence failure." US intelligence was gathered from many allied sources including Italy, United Kingdom, Germany and many other intelligence agencies. All came to similar conclusions. Even the United Nations was convinced that the intelligence was accurate and did not dispute it.

Murtha is also incorrect in his charge that the intelligence was "misused." The Senate Intelligence Committee saw the same intelligence that the White House saw and came to the same conclusions about its significance. This has been affirmed in several reports, including a bi-partisan investigation by the US Senate. There has been no evidence of any kind that the Bush Administration either pressured the intelligence communities to skew their data or that they White House in any way twisted or excluded intelligence that did not support some "predetermined" conclusion.

Murtha continues to comment on the morale of US troops, especially those he has personally spoken with at Bethesda and Walter Reed Hospitals in the Washington DC area:

...what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.
I have no doubt, and no sane person would deny, that these are all concerns that eat away at the morale of our troops.

What Murtha conveniently leaves out, however, is the one thing that overwhelmingly frustrates, outrages and demoralizes our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And what is that? The anti-war bias of the mainstream media and the non-stop criticism of the President, the conduct of the war and of the soldiers who are serving their country with such honor and distinction by both the anti-war fringe and by the leadership of the Democratic Party....including Senators Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid, Dennis Kucinich, John Kerry and.....John Murtha.

If our troops are demoralized, it is because of the sort of speech that John Murtha gave yesterday...and the news coverage that it generated. Murtha might have served honorably in the Marines but I doubt that he could be elected "Dog Catcher" by any active Marine unit in Iraq, Afghanistan or on American soil.

In Vietnam, where Murtha served, the soldiers were the disillusioned ones who saw no point to what they were being asked to do. In Iraq and Afghanistan, ironically, it is the troops on the ground (volunteers soldiers to boot) that see the point about what they are doing, support what they are being asked to do and have frequently re-upped their service with the full knowledge that they will be required to return to Iraq or Afghanistan for second and third tours of duty.

No soldier wants war. No soldier likes war. No soldier will freely choose to fight a war that they believe to be "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion." But that is exactly what members of the US armed forces are doing. Murtha's point is refuted by the actions of the very soldiers he claims to represent.

Murtha continues,

Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.
First of all, what does he mean by, "Our military has accomplished its mission?" The Democrats have been ranting over and over again saying either that there was not legitimate mission in Iraq to begin with ("Bush lied. People died.") or that the President has never given a clear explaination of how we would know the mission was completed even if we had completed it!

Amazingly, Murtha seems to know what no other Democrat has dared even say exists: An actual goal for our invasion of Iraq.

Murtha, of course, doesn't believe there is one, either. But he does show his creativity in making one up out of thin air.....a purpose and goal that just happens, by coincidence, to support his preconceived notion that we need to get our troops out of Iraq now.

He reminds me of those good-old-days of Vietnam when critics of the war said, "Why don't we just declare "victory" and bring everybody home?" In essence, this is what Murtha is proposing. It was a lie then and it is still a lie today.

To his credit, he does not embrace the infernal urban legend that over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died in the past 1-1/2 years. His estimate of 30,000 has widespread support.

His statement that, "Over 15,500 (US troops) have been seriously injured" is, however, a complete misrepresentation of the facts as Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette so exquisitely demonstrates. It seems that there have been 15,000 troops wounded but...... 8375 returned to duty within 72 hours.....7347 troops were wounded severely enough to require over 72 hours recuperation..... 2,791 Soldiers were wounded seriously enough to require evacuation to Stateside Army Medical facilities..... and 280 amputees have been treated in Army facilities as a result of the war.

As Greyhawk puts it,

A lot of unscrupulous types who just want to pretend to "support the troops" ignore these facts in favor of the less correct (and more impressive) claim that 15,500 troops have been seriously wounded, or maimed, or mutilated. The real numbers are big enough - I just can't understand why some feel the need to pad them.

I'd also like to comment on Murtha's assertion that

A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops...

This may be true but Murtha conveniently overlooks the fact that another recent poll showed that only 12.56% of residents of Baghdad "support the pull-out of foreign troops 'at once'." In spite of this, claiming to speak on behalf of the Iraqi people, that is exactly what Murtha proposes to do! I suppose he should be encouraged that as many 12.56% of Iraqis agree with him!

This post is already longer than I had planned and there is more in Murtha's speech that is worth debating and/or criticizing. But I shall close out this post with reference to a comment that Murtha made in response to a question at a press conference today as noted in the New York Times:

When asked about Mr. Cheney's remarks on Wednesday, Mr. Murtha replied sarcastically: "I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

In the Vietnam era, Mr. Cheney had five deferments and did not serve in the military.

Hugh Hewitt responds to this by saying,

That's fever swamp stuff, the old "chickenhawk" charge that would be equally applicable to hundreds of Democrats in Congress as well as great war time leaders like FDR. It discredits the Congressman, not his targets.
In that same post, Hugh quotes an email he received from from someone who described himself as an "active duty officer with significant combat experience":

As to the Congressman's remarks regarding our Vice President, that is a direct assault on the Constitution of the US which clearly gives the civilians control over the military. You will not meet ONE officer in our Armed Forces who does not believe in this as an article of faith. We have sworn our very lives to its protection. I find it interesting that Cong. Murtha would attack that precept of our governing document. One caller mentioned FDR. What about President Clinton? Was he unqualified to conduct the war in Bosnia due to his contempt for our Armed Forces? NO. He was the president and that makes him the commander in chief, PERIOD. Murtha should be pilloried relentlessly for his seditious remarks and he should never be taken seriously again.
Captain Ed adds his own comment to Murtha on this point,

When will Democrats get through their head that our military comes under civilian control? This isn't Starship Troopers, where only veterans make decisions on war and peace, and most Americans wouldn't want to live in that kind of society. All due respect to Murtha's Viet Nam service, but being an enlisted man in Viet Nam doesn't make him the reincarnation of von Clausewitz, either. Dick Cheney has served as a Secretary of Defense and has his own expertise on military matters, even if Murtha doesn't want to admit it.
Considering that Rep. Murtha was posing as one soldier speaking on behalf of the other soldiers in the US Armed Forces, he sure seemed to tick off most of them.


No.....Just pathetic.

Especially when a soldier cannot even tell when his side is winning.....

Mother Goose & Grimm Go Blogging

Here is today's comic strip from Mother Goose & Grimm

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You can click on the picture to enlarge it if you'd like. You can also smile!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Italians Celebrate Dead European Constitution With Commemorative Coin Anyway!

Image hosted by Photobucket.comNo matter that the proposed European Constitution is dead in the water and sinking fast after being voted down by the Belgians and the French.

That didn't stop the Italians from issuing a Two-Euro coin commemorating the 1st anniversary of the completion and endorsement of the Constitution by the leaders of the European Union.

BBC quotes Marco Niadi, London correspondent of the Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, as saying,
"We all know the constitution is not going anywhere at this moment, so to make a commemorative coin is a bit odd,.

However, he said Italians would accept the new coin without fuss, as they would a rainstorm.

"In the UK, people would ask about the cost to the tax payer and question whether it was a sensible thing to do. In Italy we are used to the many ways of wasting public money," he said.

Aussies Blind-Sided by Glow-In-The-Dark Pork Chops

Leave it our friends from Oz to find a scandal where no one else in the world would ever think to look for one.

Most refrigerators have a little light in them. Apparently this is not the case with some folks Down Under.

It seems that reports have come in from people who opened their refrigerator only to find their pork chops glowing in the dark.

Concerns were raised amidst fears of radiation poisoning of irradiated meat.

"No worries," says the food experts. The glow is caused by "the harmless pseudomonas fluorescens bacteria."

It was explained that thebacteria were safe and were "not known to cause food poisoning."

Nonetheless, Aussies were told to "Remember this simple advice - if it glows, throw it."

(unless, of course, his name is Rudolf....)

Avian Flu Virus Reaches Anaheim (Not)

Once in a great while a joke forwarded by someone by email brings a smile. This one from my father-in-law did just that. I smiled so much that I decided to post it for your pleasure.

The photo caption is, of course, "Avian Flu Reaches Anaheim."

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PS: I don't want some nit-picker commenting that the picture is not Disneyland in Anaheim. I know that. It's obviously a Cinderella Castle from a different Disneyworld somewhere. But that's not the point. It's a joke! It's a joke! Go! You are even permitted to laugh!