Saturday, September 30, 2006

Al-Qaeda Leader Defames Christianity

The recent video tape released by Osama bin Laden's right hand Imam al-Zawahiri, includes this declaration (as reported by CNN):
On the tape, al-Zawahiri calls the leader of the Roman Catholic Church an "impostor" whose religion "is made of myths, like the Trinity, crucifixion, sacrifice and the original sin."
I've previously reported on this increasing tendency among radical Islamists to attack the validity of Christianity and who consider it to be polytheistic rather than monotheistic. Here, for once, we have a clear statement of the Islamist's rejection of the central tenets of the Christian faith as being "myths."

Zawahiri is, of course, entitled to his opinion. But so is Pope Benedict XVI and the 14-century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologos.

From an objective standpoint neither has really defamed the other. They have simply asserted certain beliefs that challenge those held by another. The Byzantine Emperor did so in the context of personal dialogue with a scholar who represented the beliefs that were being challenged.

Benedict has also called for personal dialogue.

Personally,I would be deliriously happy to see a public debate on these matters between Pope Benedict and Zawahiri.

Like far too many of his Islamist friends, the blowhard Zawahiri, hiding in a cave in fear for his life, a man with blood on his hands and hatred in his heart takes offense when his brand of Islam is accurately described by someone who lived seven centuries ago yet sees no irony in calling into question the beliefs held by over 2 billion people.

According to CNN Zawahiri said that Benedict "went beyond his way to defame us, [but] we will respond to his insult with kindness."

I think that we can all figure out what Zawahiri means by "kindness:" First cut out the heart of the Christian faith . . . and then cut off the head of the Christian believer.

It adds new meaning to the phrase, "Killing with kindness."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why George W. Didn’t Chase bin Laden Before 9/11

Much has been made of Bill Clinton missing opportunities to capture of kill Osama bin Laden during his presidency. This is normal historical reflection as we consider all of the “what-ifs” that can only be seen clearly after a significant historical event has taken place.

In pointing out Clinton’s “misfires” and inaction in this regard even conservative Republican pundits have been careful to point out that President George W. Bush didn’t do much about bin Laden or terrorism in general until that fateful morning of September 11, 2001.

Personally, I think that a quick review of the Bush W. administration between his inauguration on January 20 and the terrorist attacks less than 8 months later will show that “W” was severely handicapped in ways not shared by his predecessor in office.

FIRST: Consider the political turmoil surrounding his election. His loss of the popular vote to Gore; His narrow margin of victory in the Electoral Vote, hinging on a bitter legal challenge to the vote tabulations in Florida; the ruling of the Florida Secretary of State (a Republican) in favor of Bush’s victory being over-ruled by the Florida Supreme Court (a majority of whom were Democrat); The issue finally being resolved by a split decision of the US Supreme Court on December 11, 2000.

The uncertainty of the outcome of this legal mess delayed and confused the normal course of the transfer of power. It would have been unbecoming of Bush to have announced his Cabinet appointees and to have begun the process of their confirmation prior to the resolution of the controversy. Accordingly, advance consultation and planning between Bush and his future cabinet was uncertain and distracted making advance strategic planning concerning domestic and foreign policy tentative and disjointed.

SECOND: The massive Democratic Senate resistance to the confirmation of John Ashcroft as the nominee for Attorney General consumed most of the pre-inaugural political attention of Bush and his supporters. It was a major distraction and, with manifold doubts as to whether his confirmation would even take place many strategic plans concerning national law enforcement matters (which is where the Clinton administration had focused their anti-terrorism and terrorist prosecution policies) were also put on hold until after the inauguration. In fact, Ashcroft’s nomination was not confirmed by the Senate until January 31, eleven days after Bush’s inauguration!

THIRD: Consider that the three people with the most power, influence and responsibility for the fight on terrorism during Bush’s first months of office were all holdovers from the Clinton administration.

--Richard Clarke—Chair, Anti-Terrorism Division, U.S. Security Council—Appointed by the first President Bush in 1992 and served in this position until 2003.

--George Tenet, Director of the CIA—Appointed by Clinton July 11, 1997 and served until July 11, 2004.

--Louis Freeh, Director of the FBI—Appointed by Clinton on July 20, 1993 and served until June 25, 2001 when he was replaced by--Thomas J. Pickard who served as Acting Director of the FBI until September 4, 2001 when, just seven days before the 9/11 attacks, he was replaced by--Robert Mueller III who continues as the Director of the FBI today.

FOURTH: Note further that the agencies headed by Tenet and Freeh were forbidden, by a policy enacted by the Clinton administration, to communicate or share intelligence information with each other.

FIFTH: The Clinton administration had not adopted any comprehensive policy or plan concerning anti-terrorism measures in general or concerning Osama bin Laden in particular. Accordingly, there was nothing “passed on” to the incoming Bush administration for them to evaluate or to build on. They were left with starting, essentially, from scratch.

Given the historical and political distractions of entering the Presidency under massive confusion and controversy, and; given the partisan divide between Congressional Democrats and Republicans, and; given the fact that virtually all political appointees and a majority of those working in the State and Justice Departments had been hired or promoted under the Democratic Clinton administration; it is not surprising that “W” and his administration, faced with such a myriad of issues demanding their full political attention and energy, did not have the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden as a high priority during those first eight months in office.

To his credit, however, when faced with a terrorist attack on American soil, Bush responded forcefully and decisively. Had he inherited such an approach to terrorism from the Clinton administration perhaps something could have been done to prevent or disrupt the 9/11 attacks.

But, of course, we’ll never know . . . because all the “what ifs” in the world can never change the past.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Best Headline of the Week

The Honolulu Advertiser posted this headline on Page 3 of its morning edition on Saturday, September 24, 2006. It made me smile . . .

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Thomas Edsall Interview Confirms Bias & Elitist Focus of MSM

Hugh Hewitt's latest Vox Blogoli challenges his readers to comment on a recent interview he had on his radio show with Thomas Edsall, who recently retired as the senior Political Reporter with the Washington Post.

Hugh was impressed with how openly Edsall acknowledged the overwhelming left-of-center bias within the MSM. I must say that I was, too.

One of Hugh's favorite hobbies is baiting MSM types with the "bias" question whenever he interviews them on-air. Most of the time the entertainment value is in hearing the stammering, the denials, the "turning-the-question-back-on-Hugh" and the general obfuscation that ensues when someone is asked, "Have you ever voted for a Republican presidential candidate."

For reasons I can personally identify with (and Hugh won't admit to) I can understand why a reporter would be reluctant to broadcast his personal political and/or religious bias to an audience as large and relatively hostile as Hugh's.

Even so, Hugh does have a point when he states that we all have our personal biases. Why, then, do we try to pretend they aren't really there? Isn't honesty the best policy? Isn't one measure of a person's character how comfortable they are in their own skin and in presenting themselves to others as a genuine, authentic and transparent human being?

The answer to this last question is, of course, and always must be, a "Yes."

In this sense, Thomas Edsall rose above the murky depths of his lesser compatriots by being refreshingly forthright and honest in his answers to Hugh's questions. While this was more astonishing than entertaining it was unique, unusual and rare enough to qualify as a captivating interview.

Edsall not only admitted his own biases (he is a liberal Democrat and an atheist) but also made an honest guess that the Democrat members of the MSM outnumbered Republicans by as many as 15-20:1.

Why the honesty? Well, my guess is that Edsall is, by nature, an honest man and respects others who share that all-too-rare virtue (such as Hewitt).

A second reason may well be that, since he is not longer a "reporter" but a "commentator" the admission of being biased is no longer a liability but actually a necessary part of his future success as a writer for the New Republic.

Whatever the reasons, I found myself liking the man even though I was disappointed in his inability to give a single example of an elected Republican who illustrated the many biting characterizations and libelous criticisms he made of conservative in his recent book, Building Red America.

I was also offended by the way that he kept linking his description of present-day Republicans with George Wallace (he even Freudian-slipped that name in place of George Will's at one point) and David Duke.

I think that Hugh put his finger on the cause of Edsall's skewed view of the average conservative Republican when he asked, "you don't get out much, do you, Mr. Edsall?"

Somehow, I did not get the feeling that Mr. Edsall has visited a conservative Evangelical church service and talked to the sort of people that worship there in a very long time . . . if ever.

In this Edsall is not unlike many of us, whether conservative or liberal, religious or secular, who tend to spend most of our time hanging around people like ourselves, listening to radio stations, watching television stations and reading print media that reflect our own biased views.

What is disappointing, of course, is that a man who has spent his career supposedly reporting on the "pulse of America" is and apparently was so out-of-touch with what can only be called "main street" Americans.

Edsall seemed far too comfortable with his caricatures of conservatives, Republicans and people of faith. It seems inexcusible to me that someone who had attempted to "get the story and get it right" for so many years could have forgotten how important it is to understand all sides of an issue before reporting on it either fairly or accurately.

Sadly, it appears that many of the foundational assumptions that guide Mr. Edsall's political philosophy and world view are based on reasonable guesses based on stereotypes of people he never has made an effort to know personally.

Conclusion? Thomas Edsall is an honest and likeable man who seems completely ignorant of how narrow and bigoted his view of others truly is.

On the one hand, it is sad.

On the other hand, it is frightening.

Friday, September 22, 2006

World Trade Center Collapse Photo--Why Haven't I Seen This One Before?

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Have you seen this photo before? I hadn't. It's spectacular as well as horrifying. This is the first tower (WTC #2) to fall. The initial tilt of the tower reveals the side that initially gave way in the collapse. The massive weight of the now-disconnected top of the tower quickly collapsed the other side of the tower enough to more or less even out the toppling.

On the fifth anniversary of 9/11, as the second tower collapsed "live" on CNN's replay, I noticed that a slice of the WTC tower's facade at least 40+ stories talls stood for a brief second or two after the tower had completely fallen. I had never noted this before either.
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Nothing really important about all this. But the details are always help keep the whole thing from becoming completely abstract.

Remember, there were living, breathing people still alive on the top floors of the towers as they began their falls into oblivion.

And don't forget the people who caused this horror . . . and why!

HT:lgf for the photo

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The "Bullet Bra" Comes to Hawaii

I've been way too serious lately so here's something to lighten things up just a little bit.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin carried this story today:
A woman cited on suspicion of drunken driving also was arrested for allegedly hiding a bullet in her bra.

Police said that at about 1:14 a.m. yesterday, a 28-year-old woman was arrested in Waikiki for investigation of drunken driving.

During a search at the main police station officers found a bullet hidden in the woman’s bra, police said.

Since the woman is a convicted felon, she was then arrested for investigation of being a felon in possession of ammunition.

She was also arrested on suspicion of driving without a license.
I've tried very hard to come up with something clever to say but finally decided that the story is its own best punch line!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingHaving said this, the thought of a "bullet bra" made me think of Cloris Leachman's Nurse Diesel in Mel Brooks classic, "High Anxiety." Who'd be brave enough (or crazy enough) to even try to arrest her!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ahmadinejad's Speech to the United Nations--Why Aren't Christians Rioting?

You can read the full text of the Iranian President's speech to the United Nations General Assembly today at the UN web page.

It is ironic that, during a week when riots break out over the Pope's use of a 14th century quote and Muslims are so offended that they murder a nun, firebomb Christian churches and call for the Pope's death, the President of Iran can get away with far worse . . . and without a single Christian riot and without a single whimper from the MSM.

Take the final two paragraph of Ahmadinejad's speech today:
I emphatically declare that today's world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.

O, Almighty God, all men and women are Your creatures and You have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause.
Consider, for a moment, if Pope Benedict XVI, speaking to the UN as a Head of State, had prayed that all present would, for the sake of world peace, become followers of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and that, together, they would "strive for his return and his cause."

All hell would break loose. Every radical Islamist would sweat blood in a rage and the MSM would "pontificate" (pardon the pun) on the insensitivity and inexcusable rudeness of "His Holiness the Pope."

Tomorrow we shall find out if what I say is true or not. Will there be outrage over this public call for the nations of the world to become, not only Muslim, but Shi'ite Muslim in particular? Don't hold your breath. Ahmadinejad's words were so softly veiled that only Muslims and folks who have studied Islam will understand the full measure of what he declared before the UN.

It is unlikely that those who write on such things in the MSM will comment on this either due to ignorance, denial or simply to cover up the reality because it might have the potential to encourage support for the Bush administration.

I want, before closing, just point out one small matter that will be missed by most. When Ahmadinejad makes reference to "monotheism" (in the paragraph that just precedes the two cited above) he is referring only to Islam (Sunni and Shi'a) and (in a lesser way) Judaism. Modern "fundamentalist" Islam does not consider Christianity (as it is actually practiced) to be a monotheistic faith.

His use of this term is designed to be a slap at both the United States (as a Christian nation) and at the Christian faith itself and every person who identifies themself as a Christian.

With that as an introduction, read this paragraph in this new light:
All Divine prophets from the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), have all called humanity to monotheism, justice, brotherhood, love and compassion.

Is it not possible to build a better world based on monotheism, justice, love and respect for the rights of human beings, and thereby transform animosities into friendship?
Note that the President of Iran is essentially saying what other radical Muslims are boldly declaring these days: Jesus Christ was a Muslim and would be one today if he was still present in this world.

The inference is clear here that "justice, brotherhood, love and compassion" are only available to the world through Islam (Judaism is, in this interpretation, also excluded as a true montheistic religion due to the corruption of its scriptures. There is only one true monotheistic faith. ie. Adam, Moses Jesus Christ and Mohammad were all Muslims).

With this understanding of these paragraphs, the full intent of Ahmadinejad's closing words become all the more chilling.

This man is crafty and smart. He knows that Americans are theologically ignorant of both Islam and their own (supposedly) Christian faith. His repeated mantra throughout the speech where he decries "decadence" is yet another veiled assault on the United States and, again by inference, the Christian faith.

Make no mistake about it. The only peace that Ahmadinejad envisions is in a world where everyone and every nation is Muslim.

The perfect and pure human being who is yet to come is not Jesus, of course, but the "hidden Imam" or the "mahdi" of Shi'a Islam. For Ahmadinejad his appearing will usher in the final judgment and the final vindication of Mohammad as the Prophet of God through the imposition of Islam upon every person on earth.

The most worrisome thing of all is that, in his closing prayer, the President of Iran declares his firm belief that the coming of the made can be brought about by those who "strive for him and his cause."

Could it be that Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ayatollahs have a strategy to bring this about? If so, what could that be?

Whatever it is, it does not appear to bode well for Western Civilization as we now know it, nor for those who are Christian, nor for the United States nor, of course, for the nation of Israel.

A speech filled with platitudes of peace. But, apart from a universal submission to Islam, the platitudes are empty. The speech does not comfort me. Not at all.

As always, read it and draw your own conclusions.

Quote of the Day--The Pope's Speech and Islam

Captain Ed wins the Quote of the Day hands down. In resonse to someone who said that the Pope's quote from the 14th century was a "slap in the face" at Muslims the Captain effectively shuts down the entire controversy in one sentence:
(The Islamist) haven't been insulted, they've been exposed, and they don't like it.
Well true and well said!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hungarians Won't Take Prime Minister's Lying Down

I have some advice for those who run the nations of the world: "If you're lying, don't admit it . . . at least not out loud where someone has a tape recorder."

I am not offering this advice to Ferenc Gyurcsany, Prime Minister of Hungary, however. It's too late and no use closing the barn doors after, well . . . you know.

You see, Ferenc was recorded last May telling his liberal government collegues that, as far as the nation's economy was concerned,
We lied throughout the past one and a half or two years. We lied in the morning, we lied in the evening and also at night.
According to CNN he also said the government had botched economic policy "not a little bit, but very much. None of the other European countries have done such stupid things that we did."
Unfortunately for Mr. Gyurcsany, the state radio network broadcast the recording today (Sunday).

People were so upset that 10,000 of them showed up to register their displeasure by . . . well . . . by attacking, invading, occupying and looting the offices of the national television broadcast station. Why? I don't know. I'm sure that it makes sense to the upset Hungarians.

In any case, last April Gyurcsany's liberal party was reelected by the slimmest of margins in a campaign that included charges that his party had been manipulating economic data.

As an honest, upright politician, Gyurcsany immediatly responded to the crisis by vowing to remain in office despite the protests.

I suppose this is because of the patriotic duty he feels towards those who voted for him.

Hungary deserves better.

So do we all.

Are you listening world leaders?

Keep your mouths shut.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Pope Has No Reason to Apologize--Captain Ed Morrissey Agrees With Me!

So, the Pope has apologized in various ways and means and words three times now for "anything said" that might have been considered offensive to any Muslim in any place, mosque or cave.

What have these apologies accomplished so far?

1. Repeated cries from Muslim leaders that the apologies have not gone far enough;

2. Calls for his death by Muslim clerics;

3. The cruel and bigoted murder of an Italian nun in Somalia; and,

4. The firebombing of two Christian churches in Gaza (neither of which was Roman Catholic).

5. A call for the murder of all Christians in Iraq (one was already murdered there today).

Ed Morrissey, of Captain's Quarters, who is himself a Roman Catholic, has posted a "letter" to Pope Benedict XVI in which he calls on the Pope to speak the truth and not apologize for it . . . especially under the threat of physical violence.
I'm angry about the fact that a speech given by you has been manipulated by Muslims into rationales for their violence. I'm also angry because your apology this morning -- which at least did not extend to withdrawing your main point of the speech -- seems to give credence to their rationales.

In this, you appear to have withdrawn at least partially from your main point -- that the rejection of reason and dialogue amounts to a rejection of God, within whom reason and faith finally meet. You bravely attempted to open a Socratic dialogue with Muslims on this very point, inviting them to move away from violence and extortion in the spread of their faith and encouraging them to use rhetoric and reason to support their doctrines.

They answered you by murdering one of your flock . . .

Do not apologize for speaking the truth. Stand up to the threats and violence and make the world understand that no one of any faith or of no faith at all has to be cowed or intimidated into silence.
Read the whole post. As often happens, his words capture my feelings far better than I can express them myself.

Note: For other excellent, thoughtful and bold commentary I suggest visiting The Anchoress and then check out what RC Father Raymond J. de Sousa has to say at the National Post.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Response of Muslim World to Pope Benedict's Comments Shame Islam

On Tuesday, September 12, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a speech to a group of scientist gathered in Munich. The speech (more acurately described as a lecture) contained nearly 4000 words or 7 single-spaced, typed pages.

One quote from this lecture, taken out of context, has produced a seemingly choreogaphed and embarrassingly "irrational" response from Muslim leaders (and even leaders from predominantly Muslim countries) from all around the world, but particularly from the Middle East. For examples of this response see the following:

Muslims in uproar over pope’s remarks on Islam.
Muslims deplore Pope speech, want apology.
Muslims express fury over pope’s remarks.
Turkish lawmaker compares pope to Hitler.
Muslims assail pope’s remarks on Islam.
Pakistan parliament demands Pope retract Islam comments.
Pope branded a medieval crusader in India.
Muslims demand pope apologise for Islam comments.

What caused this uproar? You'll never find out from reading the newspapers or listening to the network news. Even CNN and FoxNews' online coverage has been simiplistic, sensationalist and void of any serious attempt to put the Pope's comments into context.

For those of you interested in really knowing what the Pope said and then discovering just how outrageous and pathetic the Muslim response has been, you can take the time to read the entire text of the Pope's speech or trust me to provide you an accurate and concise summary in the following paragraphs.


The Pope's theme concerned the importance of reason and rational inquiry in matters of faith and of God. In this way he was attempting to bridge the growing gap between the academy (which all-too-often mistakenly views the Christian faith, or any faith, as fundamentally anti-reason and irrational) and Christianity. Reason and rational inquiry is central to the understanding of both science and religion (at least the Christian religion).

As part of his introductory remarks Benedict quoted from a record of a historical and reasoned dialogue between the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a Persian (Muslim) scholar that took place in Ankara, Turkey, around the year 1381. The dialogue concerned the relative merits and beliefs of Christianity and Islam and occurred just before the unsuccessful Muslim seige of Constantinople (which was the captal city of the Christian Byzantine empire) during the years 1394-1402. (Note: A later seige in 1453 was successful...the city was renamed Istanbul...and has remained in Muslim control ever since).

Here is what Benedict said:

In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably.

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

Note the context of this quote. Islam had long ago violently swept across the Christian lands of the Middle East and North Africa and offered either dhimmitude or coversion to all Christians and Jews they encountered. Spain, at this time, was still under Muslim rule, Greece was being infiltrated and the gates of Budapest and Vienna were also being threatened. Constantinople was literally the last island of Christianity in a flooding expanse of violent Muslim expansionism. Only the 1st Crusade had been able to turn back and temporarily stall the otherwise unimpeded stampede of Islam.

In the midst of this "die or become a Muslim" situation, it is noteworthy that the Byzantine Emperor took time to take part in a nonviolent, rational discourse with a Muslim intellectual concerning each other's religious beliefs. It is also noteworthy that the Emperor's comments do not appear to have offended the Muslim he was conversing with. No doubt similar statements were being made by the Muslim in regards to the Christian faith as well!

This is, to a large degree, the very point that Pope Benedict was trying to make. The dialogue between science and Christianity should be like that dialogue between the Byzantine Emperor and the Muslim scholar. The dialogue should be reasonble and polite yet unabashedly honest.

A more subtle point being made here is that Christianity, at least as it is understood by this Pope, continues to be grounded in reasonable thoughts and ideas that are consistent with the Christian understanding of the "person" and "mind" of God as he has revealed himself in the Old and New Testaments.

The Pope's point is that this theological grounding in rational discourse is not central to Islamic belief or thought and is, in fact, incompatible with the Muslim understanding of the nature of God (Who is distant, unknowable and capricious).

The knee-jerk, insecure and irrational response this past week by those who would ordinarily be considered to be rational, reasonable Muslims has gone a long way to prove that the Pope's thesis is essentially correct.

One Muslim leader, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, went so far as to say (without any hint of irony):
Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence.
Both the Byzantine Emperor and the Muslim scholar in the 14th century knew full well of the Muslim use of violent conversion to their faith. That this was a given fact was not in dispute then nor should it be in dispute today. The only question raised by the both the Pope and the Emperor is, "Can such an approach to faith be considered to be reasonable or rational."

The Pope's answer to this question, the Emperor's answer to this question and my own answer to this question is, and must be, "Certainly not! Never!"

If the Muslim world would calm down and discuss this question with the same calm and confident sense of reasonable dialogue that existed in their "golden age" then, perhaps, there might be some value in conversation. Until then, the apparent approach to respectful debate appears to be: "Agree with us and become a Muslim or we will riot, spit on you, threaten you, attack you and, if necessary, kill you. We are the religion of peace and we will make sure that you have no peace until you become one of us!"

Personally, I'm not convinced by their logic.

Without Even Knowing It Walter Pincus Unveils New Evidence of CIA Incompetence Re Iraq & al Qaeda In 2002

According to an article by the Washington Post's Water Pincus reprinted in the Honolulu Advertiser today, the "CIA knew of no Iraq-bin Laden link, report shows." According to the article, the reason the CIA knew that there was no Iraq-bin Laden link was because, "A senior CIA officer, after months of trying, was able to question (Naji) Sabri (Iraq's Foreign Minister at the time) through a trusted agency intermediary when the Iraqi foreign minister was in New York City around September 19, 2002." Sabri reportedly "said that Iraq has no past, current, or anticipated future contact with Osama bin laden and al Qaeda," and that the official "added that bin Laden was in fact a longtime enemy of Iraq."

CAN THIS BE SERIOUS! Is this how the CIA reaches its conclusions in matters so important that the Vice-President personally keeps asking about it, national security depends on it and an imminent invasion of Iraq relies on it? The CIA actually talked to the Iraqi Foreign Minister AND TOOK HIS WORD FOR IT!

Thank God we have a President who is able to discount "intelligence" gleaned from such an "impeccable & objective" source as this!

If this story is true then the CIA appears to be even more incompetent and gullible than previously thought!

Thank you, Walter Pincus, for exposing the total ineptitude of the CIA during this crucial period of our country's history. I know that this is not what you wanted the public to think when they read your article but I'm grateful for your inept journalistic effort nonetheless.

Curiously, the Honolulu Advertiser editors thought that the final paragraph of Pincus' article was not important enough to include:
Sabri's role as an intelligence source for the CIA has already been publicly reported. New details, including a payment of $200,000 to the intermediary and a secret signal system to assure the CIA officer that Sabri was cooperating, are contained in the recently released book "Hubris," by Michael Isikoff of Newsweek and David Corn, Washington correspondent for the magazine the Nation.
Without this paragraph the article makes no sense at all. Even with this paragraph the source should have been considered somewhat circumspectly, even if the CIA DID in fact, shell out $200,000 of our tax dollars to the intermediary...who probably laughed all the way to the bank!

Note: Unfortunately the Advertiser's version of the article is not available online. It is, with the exception of the final paragraph, identical to the Washington Post's version.

UPDATE: It appears that, according to an Wikipedia article, Naji Sabri may well have been a CIA informant. The evidence is very compelling in this matter. It is not clear, however, just how reliable Sabri's intelligence information was. Without more details on this matter it is hard to judge whether Sabri's supposed information on the Iraq/al Qaeda relationship was accurate or not.

Even more interesting is this quote from the Wikipedia article:
Sabri offered the agency important details on some of Saddam's alleged weapons programs and assurances on the discontinuance of others. Sabri told the CIA that Saddam had stockpiled certain chemical weapons, specifically "poison gas." Newly declassified reports indicate that Saddam had if (sic) fact possessed those same weapons of mass destruction.
Does anyone know what "Newly declassified reports" are being referred to here? Would this be important news if it was true?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Muslims Proselytizing On the Internet--Where Is the Christian Response?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingEric Meek, the Vice-President of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) spoke last night as the invited guest of a Saudi-Wahhabist-supported student group (Muslim Student Association) at the University of North Texas.

One of the more provoking comments made during his talk was this one:
"If Jesus were here, he'd be a Muslim, and he'd say what I'm saying."
Years ago, after comparing Christianity and Islam, he said he came to the conclusion that, "Islam is totally more convincing."

I have been seeing this line of reasoning repeatedly on the internet lately, firmly articulated by very confident Muslim commentators. Arguments basically affirm that the Christian faith is "all wrong" and that the central truths of the Christian faith (specifically the doctrine of the Trinity which, to Muslims, is blasphemous) are a clear misreading of the scriptures (which are garbled and unreliable in any case).

It has become my opinion that, like missionaries from other religions (such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons), conservative Muslims (most likely funded by Wahhabist money from Saudi Arabia) have been recruited and trained to search the internet for any articles or comment threads dealing with Islam. These missionaries then offer a defense of Islam and immediately begin attacking Christians and the Christian faith as being corrupted and false. President Bush is always singled out as a "born again Christian" who is a murderous, hateful man illustrating the complete bankruptcy of the Christian faith.

This is always contrasted with Islam as being the religion of true peace. The logic actually goes so far as to declare that there are only "good Muslims" because, if a Muslim is not good, they are not really a Muslim!

Even when I have offered a Christian hand encouraging peaceful coexistence and that friendship has been accepted and affirmed, the effort to challenge and undermine the Christian faith does not stop. As long as comments continue to be expressed at any given site the Muslim missionaries are there to respond. They are persistent and indefatigable! They are passionate about what they are doing and, by sheer perseverance they must be having a monumental effect on the thinking of marginal Christians in every corner of the world-wide web. (See the comment thread of one of my postings at for a good example of this . . . a "dialogue" that has been kept alive by two Muslims for nearly 10 months!)

As a Christian this is becoming a great concern for me. Where are the dedicated Christian apologists who will serve the Lord, Jesus, with the same unceasing and tireless effort to respond with the full force of the Christian gospel?

Islam is relatively easy to catch in contradictions and to arrive at conclusions that are impossible to defend. When I raise such points in a commentary thread I am, EVERY TIME, either ignored completely or attacked on some point irrelevant to the one I had tried to make.

Make no mistake about it: The Christian faith in the United States and around the world is under an organized and concerted attack by fundamentalist Islam. This is not in any way to be confused with terrorism. It is simply a strategically targeted and well-organized proselytizing of the Western World.

The freedom of religion that we value in Western culture is not reciprocated in Islamic countries. In this we are at a distinct disadvantage. Even so, there are fertile fields for the Christian gospel among Muslims through the internet as well. Even in otherwise closed Islamic cultures such as Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
I propose that some Christian evangelical college or university take my challenge to heart and develop a curriculum and program to recruit, train, equip and supervise an organized Christian response to Islam using the internet as its primary media.
Far more Muslims can be reached in this way that with all the street theater performances of YWAM and Covenant Players combined!

Perhaps a new academic discipline of "cyber-missions" might eventually evolve!

If Christians truly desire to "win the world" for Christ then we need to listen and learn from our Muslim counterparts and get up to internet speed very soon!

We must not allow this missionary internet assault to go either unnoticed or unchallenged.

And we must never lose sight of the fact that, even in the midst of a world filled with terror, the pen can still be mightier than the sword.

Note: Peter Kreeft has one of the best summary comparisons of Christianity and Islam (from a Christian perspective) that I have ever read. Please read it. You will be glad you did!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tweedie Twiplets Up Close and Personal

Here they are in living, breathing color! While in LA yesterday to attend a Presbytery meeting I stopped by my nephew and his wife's home and got to see their entire family all together in one place! Makaia had only come home from the hospital the day before. They are beautiful. And their parents aren't looking too bad, either! Just exhausted!

Enjoy the pictures. You can make them larger by clicking on them.

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From Left to Right: Jonathan, Makia & Nicholas

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Later--Remembering 9/11

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNote: The following is adapted from my Pastor's message in the church newsletter.

Five years ago today . . . September 11, 2001 . . . A day now simply known as “9/11.”

As I was waking up that morning it did not appear to be a day any different than any other day. But the phone was ringing and John Martin’s voice told me to turn on my TV and see what was on the news.

What I saw unfolding on my TV was a scene straight out of Hollywood special effects and science fiction. What I saw, and what hundreds of millions of other Americans saw that day, was something that had never been seen before in human history. There was nothing in my memory of historical events to relate it to. What we saw was a new reality unfolding before our eyes. 21st Century terror was being introduced into the United States.

I sensed immediately that the world as I had known it would never be the same again. The old days of Cold War, bomb shelters, duck-and-cover drills, Nuclear Winter, détente, glasnost, Berlin Wall, Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy and King assassinations, Vietnam, perestroika, nuclear freeze, MAD, MIRVS, SALT & START which had framed my view of the world from my birth were swept away in a moment.

Since that that first 9/11 new images and new words have crept into our collective consciousness: Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Afghanistan, Taliban, Iraq, Axis of Evil, airport security, Homeland Security, Islamic Fascism, Wahhabism, Sunni, Shi’ite, suicide bomber, Bali-Madrid-Beslan-London-Mumbai, IED, troop deployment, WMD, and, the one word that captures it all: "Terror."

People died on 9/11/01 and more will die today, 9/11/06. Some of those who will die will be American. Each has been, or will become, a casualty on one of many different fronts of the same conflict.

Here at MPC we are experiencing our second major deployment of "The War On Terror." I personally know of between 25-30 former and present MPC members who have served or who are currently serving in the US Military in Iraq. Afghanistan, and other countries and regions engaged in related conflicts.

As a church we have not taken a political position on US policy but we have attempted to respond to the situation with love, support, prayer and hope. We continue to affirm that evil and sin are at the center of all human conflict and we continue to seek God’s forgiveness for ourselves and for our nation. We do this even as we try to understand what it means to “love our enemies” and to “pray for those who persecute us.”

Following the way of Jesus is never easy. It often leads us through the “valley of the shadow of death.” It often leads us to the front lines of suffering, injustice and oppression. It often places us in the moral crucible of good & evil, sin & righteousness, Good Friday & Easter.

This morning we rang the bell on the church lanai. The church and preschool staff and the preschool children all paused for a moment of prayer and remembrance. On my knees I prayed for peace. And I thought of Easter.

Other 9/11 thoughts can be found here, here, here, here and, of course, here.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Tribute to Thomas Patrick Cullen III--One of 2,996 People Who Died Five Years Ago on 9/11

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I am humbled to have been given the privilege of honoring Thomas Patrick Cullen on this 5th anniversary of his death and I am grateful for the 2,996 website that has organized this national blog-tribute to all who died five years ago on 9/11.

Hawaii, where I have lived for the past 13 years, is 6 hours and 4,968 miles away from New York. By the time a friend woke me up with a phone call on that terrible morning both of the World Trade Center towers had collapsed and Thomas Cullen had already died along with far too many of his fellow firefighters, law enforcement officers and ordinary citizens who had been going about their daily business on an ordinary September day. Then the planes hit and world history paused for a moment before disintegrating before our eyes.

I have found very little information on Thomas Patrick Cullen. He was 31 years old. He was the son of a firefighter and was himself a member of the NYFD, Squad 41. He died “in” or “at” one of the two WTC towers. He was married to Susan and had a young son, Tom, who was 2 years old when his father died. No doubt that little Tom has grown into a likeness of his father over the past 5 years. I pray that his life and laughter brings comfort and joy to his wife.

His full name was Thomas Patrick Cullen III. This implies a close and loving family, the first-born son of a first-born son. No doubt he was loved and, by his decision to serve as a firefighter, he fulfilled the high hopes and expectations of his family. He worked and trained and fought hard for his job. It was a position that he had earned honorably. The long shifts, constant dangers and being “on-call” must have caused a great deal of stress and inconvenience. But I have no doubt that he was proud of what he had accomplished and took great pleasure in the service he was providing for the city and people of Manhattan.

A friend has written a note calling him “Tommy.” I don’t know what the other firefighters, his wife or family called him but that name “Tommy” reminds me that he was more than just a name to people. “Tommy” implies a childhood. It implies friends. It implies memories of school and summer vacations and all the things that come with “growing up” including hopes and dreams and thoughts and plans and talents and skills and jokes and tears.

As I have pondered the events of that first “9/11” morning I have tried to imagine what it must have been like to jump and fall to the earth like a spent meteor. I have tried to imagine what it must have been like to be a passenger on an airplane, swerving into a skyscraper and evaporating in an instant. I have tried to imagine what it must have been like to have been sitting at a desk and catching a glimpse of an airplane heading straight towards your office window.

I have tried to imagine what it must have been like to stand alongside my friends from my fire station, heart pounding, weighed down by the full burden of my emergency response pack, and running into what I knew could well be my own tomb . . . setting all thoughts of my own safety and well-being aside . . setting all thoughts of my own wife and family aside . . . thinking only of others who might need my help to survive.

I have tried to imagine what it must have been like to experience a moment when you sensed, deep down in the deepest part of your being, that you had been born and had lived all your life in order to be prepared and present for this one moment of time. To know without words that your entire life would somehow be summed up in the next few minutes of your life and that, should your life come to an end, it would have been a life worth living.

I have tried, but I have failed, to imagine the race up and down darkened stairways filled with the smell of smoke, the shouting of rescuers and the silent, shadowy figures of people in disheveled dresses and ties staggering downward, arm in arm, hand in hand, helping and encouraging one another in intimate yet nameless friendship.

If Thomas Cullen’s death was similar to that experienced by most other members of the NYFD that day it must have come suddenly, with perhaps a distant roar of crumbling concrete and steel and a sudden and fatal blast of air and debris that preceded the actual crush of the building a moment later.

I note that Thomas Cullen is listed as a “confirmed death.” It is my hope that some personal part of his physical person was recovered so that his family could grieve and mourn over a tangible loss. I hope that these remains were laid to rest at a time and place where he could be remembered and honored . . . a place where his son can visit and get to know him and love him in silent prayer and reflection.

I do not know whether Thomas Cullen was a man of religious faith but I do know that his life was celebrated at a Roman Catholic Mass on October 5, 2001. As a Christian myself, I entrust him to “the care and mercy of Almighty God.” I believe that God raised his Son, Jesus, from the dead and that a place has been prepared in eternity for those who belong to him. My God, the Father of my Lord, Jesus Christ, is Love greater than evil; Life stronger than death; Light brighter than darkness and Hope victorious over despair.

I claim this faith not only for myself and my own family but for Thomas Cullin and his family as well.

I do not know Cullen’s wife, Susan, to know what words of comfort or encouragement she might need on this 5th anniversary of her husband’s death. I do know that she wrote the following note to her husband on the day of his memorial service:

When I was young, I dreamed of finding someone really special who would come into my life and love me wholly and uniquely…someone who would understand my desires, encourage my efforts, and share my dreams…When I grew older I found that person: I love you for loving me just the way I dreamed it would be.
I can only hope that my thoughts, my prayers, my gratitude and my remembering her husband in this post will bring some assurance that his life was not lived in vain and that an honorable and courageous death, the giving of ones life out of love for others, is often the seed that one day reaps a harvest of peace and a new generation of heroes for tomorrow.

History as we knew it cracked, collapsed and died in a pile of dust and debris five years ago in Lower Manhattan. Just last October I personally walked around the remains of the World Trade Center site as if on some sort of spiritual pilgrimage, pausing often to reflect, ponder and pray.

I prayed for people like Tommy Cullen. I prayed for peace. I prayed for hope. The thought of politics did not even cross my mind that day. I did, of course, feel like an American that day . . . and proud to be one. But I also felt something more than that. I felt human. I felt humble. I felt vulnerable and weak yet incredibly strong and resolute at the same time.

Freedom never does come easily or free to any people. Yet, because of the brave and courageous sacrifices of people like Thomas Patrick Cullen, I continue to enjoy the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness in the United States.

As a new cycle of history emerged in the days after 9/11 I came to understand, appreciate and treasure this freedom more than I ever have before.

It is a freedom given to all people by God. It is a freedom protected and preserved by our nation’s Constitution.

On the day when others tried to take that freedom away from us, Thomas Cullen, by his own free choice, proved to me that true freedom is always ours for the giving.

Thank you, Thomas Patrick Cullen. Thank you for your life. Thank you for your sacrifice and your death.

The world would be a far better place if we all could die with the love of others in our hearts as you did five years ago on a day that must always be remembered, because of people like you, as one of our nation’s finest hours.

"Love Your Neighbor As Yourself"--Liberty Mutual Gets It!

If this commercial had been produced by a Christian church or denomination it could not have done a better job in conveying what the fundamental moral ethic of the Christian faith represents. Nice job, Liberty Mutual. Thanks.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Tweedie Twiplets Get National Coverage

At last week's football game between Alabama and the University of Hawaii, the UH fans put on a card show to celebrate the recent triple-delivery of Nathan and Cathy Tweedie in Los Angeles! What a great way to introduce the new three-some to a national audience!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Reply to a Muslim and a Question for Him to Answer

This post respresents my response to this comment from "Abdel":
CONCERNING the messages of attacking muslims everywhere,it is a rule of nature that the righteous must be always attacked by the villains.i hope tghey stop attacking islam in russia and america and also australia
Abdel, I am puzzled at your allegation that Muslims are being "attacked" in the United States. Can you give me an example? According to statistics there are more than 6 times as many hate crimes against Jews than against Muslims in the US. And even those numbers are very, very small.

America exists on the premise that all citizens are governed by the same civil laws established and protected by the US Constitution. Muslims are treated exactly the same under those laws as Christians, atheists, Jews, Hindus, etc. We are "one nation . . . with liberty and justice for all."

If one section of the population demands their own legal system (sharia, for example) and be treated under a different standard of civil law than other Americans then America would cease to be America. If portions of sharia are in conflict with American civil law it is foolishness to identify that as "persecution" or "attack."

By their own public statements it is clear that many Muslims (not just Arab) want to reclaim former Muslim territory by jihad, reestablish a caliphate and "submit" (which is the true meaning of the word, "Islam") the rest of the world to the Muslim faith.

It is neither persecution or "attack" on Muslims or their faith when a nation is forced to search out members of that particular religion who are plotting, financing or encouraging physical attacks on various targets within that country.

This situation puts all Muslims in a difficult place where their loyalties to their faith (which desires a one-world Muslim faith) conflict with their desire for peace with their non-Muslim neighbors and friends in a tolerant, free, secular society.

The real conflict here is within Islam itself. The non-Muslim world is being confronted with a conflict it did not choose to create but which has emerged from within the Muslim community both locally and from afar; articulated and organized by various diverse groups lead by various diverse leaders.

The United States, as a free and independent nation under constitutional law, is under attack. Bin Laden and others have publicly declared this to be "World War III." Government leaders in Iran have declared that they will intitiate Armageddon against the West unless the US President and others (including the military) convert to Islam.

It would be foolish and naive for me or my government to ignore these threats and do nothing to defend ourselves.

To label this defense an "attack" on Islam or an "attack" on Muslims is pure ignorance or delusion.

If you want to be "left alone" then reject those in the Muslim community who advocate and perpetrate violence in jihad. Expose them, identify them and turn them in. Speak against them and condemn them. Show no tolerance or sympathy for their actions.

If, on the other hand, you sympathize with their goals and believe that their actions are legitimate and righteous within the bounds of Islam under the authority of the word of Allah contained in the Qu'ran, then consider yourself an enemy of the United States and my enemy as well.

If you would feel no remorse or shame or disgust at my being blown to bits from a bomb planted by someone acting in the name of your God and your Prophet then you have set yourself up as my enemy.

If you have no problem in contributing your zakat to "charitable organizations" that seek to kill me, to kill women and children, to overthrow my government, to reclaim Spain for Islam through violence or to "wipe Israel off of the map" along with every Jew who lives there, to bomb Jewish synagogues, community centers and desecrate their cemetaries, to raise up "suicide bombers" and who then honor them as heroes and martyrs of the faith, then you have declared yourself to be my enemy and the enemy of my country.

It is not necessary for a Muslim to believe these things. It is a free choice that every Muslim can make before Allah, whether to accept this interpretation of Islam or to reject it. A person can be a good Muslim while rejecting such doctrines and teachings.

When a Muslim chooses to accept this understanding of Islam and jihad then they have taken upon themselves the role of my enemy. In response they are worthy and deserving to receive the full force of wrath and opposition of those they seek to destroy.

As a Muslim you must choose. The choice is yours. You cannot straddle the fence and have it both ways. You are either my true and sincere friend or you have chosen to be my true and sincere enemy. As an American (who happens to be a Christian) I am reaching out my hand to you (as a Muslim) in friendship and in peace. While I would like to see you accept the Good News of the Christian faith I will love and accept you should you continue to remain a Muslim. My hand of friendship will continue to remain extended in the hope that you will join me in that friendship.

But, should you choose to wage violent jihad against me, or support those who do, you will have rejected my sincere offer of friendship and, instead, offered me the threat of death in return.

The ball is now in your court. Are you my friend or are you my enemy? I have chosen to be your friend. What have you chosen to be?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction: Hugh Hewitt Creates a New Verb

On his radio show this afternoon Hugh Hewitt created a new verb. In response to a question concerning ABC's upcoming miniseries, "The Path to 9/11," Hugh responded that, since he had the pre-airing review copy of the show, if anyone claimed that there had been a last-second, substantive editing change "I will be able to truth it." Hugh repeated this phrase at least one more time during that segment of his show.

Curious about the use of the word "truth" as a verb I went to Google and typed in, "I will be able to truth it." Nothing. Then I tried, "I will truth it." Nothing again. Then, "I truth." Yet again, nothing. And lastly, "I truth you truth we truth." Still nothing.

I therefore conclude and declare that Hugh Hewitt, on September 3, 2006, did create and express a new English language verb: "Truth"

I suppose we might wish to lay out the general form of grammar for this new verb as follows:
I truth
You truth
We truth

He/She truths
You truth
They truth
That would cover the present active tense of the verb but there are, of course, other forms to consider. For example:
Past Tense = "I truthed"

Future Pefect (active) = "will have truthed"

Future Perfect (passive) = "will have been truthed"

Past Progressive = "was being truthed"
And we must not forget the adverb that also comes into play. Fortunately, Jesus and the KJV of the Bible have already provided this one for us:
Thankfully this helps us to avoid the more awkward form, "Truthly." As in, "Truthly, truthly I say unto you . . ."

Of course the word can still be used as a noun but, thanks to Hugh, we may now feel free to write sentences such as the following:
"During deliberations, the jury, following the instructions of the judge, spent several hours truthing the evidence presented by the prosecutor."

"We hold these truths to be self-evident. That among them are lifeing, libertying and the pursuit of happinessing."

"I promise to truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
And, of course, Jesus offers us the final word:
"You will truth the truth; and the truth that you have truthed will set you free!"
Now that all has been said and done there is nothing left to do . . . except to submit this new usage to the editors of the OED!

Monday, September 04, 2006

"Crikey!" Steve Irwin Killed By Stingray

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Austrailian naturalist Steve Irwin, known to millions around the world as the "Crocodile Hunter," died today while diving along the Great Barrier Reef. Irwin was filming a new "adventure" when, according to local reports, he was stung on the chest by the barb of a stingray.

Irwin was a favorite of youngsters and adults alike, made famous by his seemingly fearless attitude towards anything in the natural world that might be considered lethal.

Irwin had cheated death on several occasions, including nearly dying from a poisonous snake bite before receiving the antidote.

I have always considered Irwin to be a death waiting to happen. But, unlike other "extreme sports" activists, Irwin invited us to join him in his adrenaline-rush, life-and-death interactions with the teeth, the fangs, the claws, the barbs and the horns of natures deadliest animals.

He presented such things with humor, intelligence and clearly felt more respect for the life, health and well-being of the creatures he studied than he had for himself.

Just like a non-roped rock climber or a skier who starts avanlanches for the sheer thrill of trying to outrace them, Irwin enjoyed the excitement of "getting away with it" time and again.

But the old saying is true, "Don't play with matches or you will get burned."

Today, Irwin played with danger once too often and got burned . . . and died.

I expect that, at least on the level of the popular entertainment scene, the word "Crikey" died with him.

Rest in peace, Steve Irwin. And may God provide love and comfort for your wife, your two children and your extended family and friends around the world . . . especially the children who have idolized you and come to believe that you were both invincible and immortal.

Irwin was 44 years old.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Canon Guitar

This video is worth a few minutes of your time, whether you like classical music or prefer rock this "cross-over" guitar piece will leave you amazed (and will leave Pachelbel turning over in his grave . . . with a big smile on his face, no doubt!)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hike to Kaena Point

Kaena Point is the northwestern corner of the island of Oahu in Hawaii. It is the most isolated piece of coastline on Oahu because a driveable road no longer travels around this corner of the island. Both the North Shore and Leeward side sections of Farrington Highway stop about 2 miles short of the point.

This isolation has allowed the State to designate Kaena Point as a wildlife refuge and to provide a safe nesting area for the Laysan Albatross.

Daughter #1 and I hiked along the Leeward Coastline during her recent visit from Los Angeles. It is an easy, level hike but very hot and little shade (the same is true for the North Shore hike).

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Most of Kaena Point itself is lava rock covered with sand and shrubs.

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Within these shrubs the adult albatross digs out a shallow hole where it lays one egg each year.

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Dogs are forbidden at Kaena Point because of the vulnerability of the eggs and chicks. Hikers are required to stay on paths marked out by white posts.

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Even with these restrictions we were able to see many nests, one of which had an egg and another a newly-hatched albatross chick.

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At the end of the point the sand disappears leaving the lava rock exposed to the surf. In the winter the waves can grow to be as high as 30-40 feet at Kaena Point. Unfortunately, the waves break directly onto the rocks so even the best surfer in the world would only be able to ride one of those waves one time...and then die!

In the summer, however, the ocean is calm. Upon our arrival we found a bonus surprise. Two months earlier a mommy Monk Seal (an endagered species) had given birth to a pup out on the lava rocks on the point. The mother had finally left (or "abandoned") the pup that morning.

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Observant volunteers for NOAA had been waiting for that moment and immediately tip-toed out and placed a tag, back markings and a small radio transmitter on the pup. (Calling it a pup is somewhat ironic since it had already grown to be at least 6-7 feet long and must have weighed over 250 pounds . . . all from mother's milk!

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When a mother leaves, the pup is on their own. As we watched (from behind temporary orange plastic fencing that kept us 100+ feet away) the pup wobbled across the sharp rocks down to the ocean and hopped in for the first time on its own. (I put the red arrow in the photo to help you find the pup in the water).

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We left soon after and felt as though we had fallen into a National Geographic special!

It was a good morning hike that took a little over 2 1/2 hours including all the stops, photographs and seal watching.

Having now walked to the point from both sides I must say that this Leeward route is the most scenic and enjoyable. The North Shore route is somewhat further back from the ocean but does pass long-vanished sites where US troops once trained before setting off to the Pacific to fight the Japanese during World War II.

The military's presence is still felt with the highly visible radar/communication dome sitting at the highest spot on the bluffs above Kaena Point.

If you are a botanist you might want to bring along a book with descriptions of endemic Hawaiian plants as you will be sure to find more than a few along the way.

During the winter and early spring the area also affords a wonderful venue for watching the Humpback whales, something I normally prefer to do from the opposite end of the island at Makapuu Point. But that's another story...

Oh, several days later at Hawaii Kai we watched jellyfish swimming in the murkey water of the boat harbor. If you look closely at the first photo (or click on it to enlarge it) you can see several floating just beneath the surface.

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The second photo shows me holding one upside-down in my hand. You can see how perfectly clear and colorless this particular jellyfish is--without sail and without anything but the smallest fringe of tiny tentacles.

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The world is a beautiful place and full of wonders if we only take a little time to pause and enjoy it from time to time. And you don't have to live in Hawaii to enjoy it, either. It's just a wonderful right where you live!

Palestine: Only Muslims Allowed

The Islamist terrorist group that kidnapped FoxNews reporter Stephen Centanni and photographer Olaf Wiig have issued a press release.
CAIRO, Egypt - Palestinian militants who held two Fox News journalists hostage for nearly two weeks threatened in a statement posted online Saturday to abduct non-Muslims visiting the Palestinian territories and kill them unless their demands were met.

The statement, posted in the name of the Holy Jihad Brigades on a Web site frequently used by militants, said the group would kill any hostages it takes unless they converted to Islam, paid a ransom or Muslim prisoners were exchanged for their release.

“Any infidel blood will have no sanctity,” the group said in the statement.
These are the folks that Centanni claims he has "sympathy" for. Centanni also wants journalists to continue to visit the region. Perhaps he wants them all to convert to Islam, too!

Personally, I take offense at being told that my blood has no sanctity (unless I say the words, "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet"). For Christian believers like myself this is blasphemous! We believe that God has declared that his Holy Spirit has been poured out on all flesh. All people are created in God's image and, as Jesus puts it, "If you have done it to the least of these, my brothers, you have done it unto me."

God sent his son into the world so that all might be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Christians must conclude that the slaughter of "non-Christians" by Christians simply because they are not Christians is a horrendous sin against God. Any edict by Muslims that declares that non-Muslims may be murdered simply because they are non-Muslims is equally horrendous.

Christians (and other Muslims, too, I trust) will view this evil proclaimation as having come directly from hell. We must oppose this view and we must oppose those who assert it with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength. If we say we love God...and if we say we love our neighbor as ourselves...then we must put on the full armor of God and stand firm against those who would attack us with their fiery darts of wickedness.

Evil is truly on the march. The dark clouds continue to gather. We must sound the trumpet and take our stand.

Some things are deserving of our hate.

Some things are deserving of being deemed intolerable.

Those who hold views such as those quoted above pose a threat to us all.

And they do not help the Palestinian tourist industry much, either.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Tweedie Twiplets Are Here!

My nephew, Nathan Tweedie, and his wife, Cathy, became the proud parents of triplets yesterday morning in Los Angeles. Child "A" (the first delivered by the c-section) was a boy, 4lbs 8 oz, 19" long; Child "B" was a boy, 4lbs 15 oz, 17" long and; Child "C" was a girl, 4lbs 4oz, 16.5" long. Everyone is doing fine and my brother Tim and wife Judy are proud grandparents for the first time!

The babies have names but they are still a secret until tomorrow after the birth certificates have been signed.

Nate and Cathy have many busy, happy, busy, wonderful and busy days, weeks and years ahead of them. They have been triply-blessed!

As the bumper sticker I saw earlier this week put it, "Got Triplets?"

In Turkey, Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

When I first read an excerpt from this story at lgf I smiled at what I thought was a parody written by the in response to the forced conversions of FoxNews reporter Steven Centanni and photographer Olaf Wiig. When I linked to the whole story, however, I was surprised to find that there was no parody at all . . . just a straightforward news story about more Islamic goofiness, this time in Asia Minor.

It seems that, according to some Turkish publishers, traditional children's stories are not good enough for Muslim kids. So . . . with a little creative editing, they have been improved as follows:
Pinocchio, Tom Sawyer and other characters have been converted to Islam in new versions of 100 classic stories on the Turkish school curriculum.

“Give me some bread, for Allah’s sake,” Pinocchio says to Geppetto, his maker, in a book stamped with the crest of the ministry of education. “Thanks be to Allah,” the puppet says later.

In The Three Musketeers, D’Artagnan is told that he cannot visit Aramis. The reason would surprise the author, Alexandre Dumas. An old woman explains: “He is surrounded by men of religion. He converted to Islam after his illness.”

Tom Sawyer may always have shirked his homework, but he is more conscientious in learning his Islamic prayers. He is given a “special treat” for learning the Arabic words.

Pollyanna, seen by some as the embodiment of Christian forgiveness, says that she believes in the end of the world as predicted in the Koran.

Heidi, the Swiss orphan girl in the tale by Johanna Spyri, is told that praying to Allah will help her to relax.

Several more books have been altered, including La Fontaine’s fables and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.
Other stories reportedly
contain insults, slang and rude rhymes which mock the president and the prime minister.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is Turkey's first Islamic premier, has called for swift action to be taken against the publishers.

The education ministry has threatened to take legal action against any publisher which continues to issue such books.
Then comes the "money quote:"
Huseyin Celik, the education minister, said: "If there are slang and swear words, we will sue them for using the ministry logo."
Ah, yes . . . that would be the offensive part, wouldn't it!

Note: In all fairness to those Turkish publishers, American Christians have attempted some of the same shennanigans by rewriting traditional nursery rhymes with a distinct "Christian" flavor! What was it that Jesus said about "planks" in our eyes and "specks" in someone elses?