Friday, September 30, 2005

More On The Saudi Prince

Frank Gaffney, Jr., has made a few more points about Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, recent investor in Fox News:
"Al-Waleed is said be the world’s fifth richest man and now NewsCorp’s fourth largest voting shareholder (behind the Murdoch family, Liberty Media and fund giant Fidelity Management & Research Co)....

"[After his check was rejected by Mayor Giuliani] the prince released a statement that blamed the United States and its support for Israel for the devastating 9/11 attacks....

"Shortly after the check fiasco, he permitted the CBS program 60 Minutes to profile him and his hyper-rich, internationally jet-setting lifestyle....[H]e told his incredulous interviewer, Ed Bradley, that that Saudi Arabia is a country with 'no problems.' When pressed, he insisted, 'What I'm telling you is Saudi Arabia has no civil unrest, no civil disobedience. Sorry. Saudi Arabia is a very stable country. Sure…we had these bombs here and there, but they were all related to a certain subject.'

"Even more troubling than having a Saudi spinmeister, even a lousy one, at the decision-making table of America’s most successful, and conservative, television network is another aspect of Al-Waleed’s deal with Mr. Murdoch. The Australian entrepreneur has reportedly also given the prince the unfiltered ability to broadcast Saudi-produced materials directly into America on Murdoch’s satellite....Prince Al-Waleed’s Rotana Audio Visual Company, which operates TV channels in the Middle East, has signed a deal with DirecTV, the TV-satellite firm controlled by NewsCorp. As a result, it would seem Rotana will be able to beam its programs into U.S. cable boxes without interference from federal regulators, or anybody else."

More details about the deal between Murdoch and the Saudi prince are available. Not being any kind of expert in media economics, I don't understand all of what Gaffney is saying. But my intuition tells me that these details are ripe for exploitation.

Broadcasting in Saudi is controlled and censored by the Saudi government. When I send certain articles to my American friends in Saudi, I have to copy and paste entire stories if the links I'm using are not approved ones. Can Saudi extend their own information-control policy to the media in the United States by means of financial investment? Or has Saudi already quietly extended their policy and we don't even realize it?

I may be way out of line here, but I have to ask the following question: Who holds large shares of ABC/Disney, which owns WMAL Radio, the station which dismissed Michael Graham for making negative statements about Islam?

Continue reading....

Monday, September 26, 2005

Fox News And The Saudi Prince

In my perception, the Fox Network has been quite cautious about saying anything even slightly negative about Islam ever since some outspoken Muslim civil-right groups objected to the plot of 24, a weekly series in which a terrorist was portrayed by an Arab-looking actor. In reaction to the objections or out of fear of legal repercussions--probably both--the network released of a filmed statement by actor Kiefer Sutherland. This statement amounted to a disclaimer: Not all Muslims are terrorists. When I saw that little snippet, I thought to myself, "Well, this is stupid. CAIR [which had, on its website, patted itself on the back as to success in combatting the sterotyping of Muslims] just called attention to something I would never have thought of. 24 is a TV show, not the evening news."

Now comes the following September 25, 2005 article, which I learned of at Jihad Watch/Dhimmi Watch:
"Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal has purchased 5.46 percent of the Fox corporation, according to Gulf Daily News, raising concern that the conservative Fox News may soften its anti-terror stance due to the views of the new shareholder.

"Al-Waleed, the nephew of the late Saudi King Fahd, was in the news when he visited the World Trade Center's remains just after the September 11th attacks and offered then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani a $10 million check for relief efforts. Al-Waleed then released a statement blaming US foreign policy and support for Israel for the attacks.

"Giuliani returned the prince's check with a statement that, 'There is no moral equivalent for this attack. The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification when they slaughtered . . . innocent people ... Not only are those statements wrong, they're part of the problem.'"
DC Watson made the following comment to the article at Jihad Watch/Dhimmi Watch:
"When Fox begins to lose its share of the market, the board of directors need to look no further than [bin Talal], who has a strong resemblence [sic] to Saturday Night Live's Father Guido Sarducci.

"You can already see a change in O'Reilly, and the other Dhimmis will follow. Our relationship with the Saudis have proven to be nothing but disasterous [sic] for the U.S."
Will we be seeing less Islamophobia from Fox News? Not that we saw much in the first place.

Add to the above the following information dated September 22, 2005 [my emphases added in bold]:
"An August 29, 2005 program on Saudi Iqra TV was devoted to supporting Jihad in Palestine. The program host began by telling all Saudis that they must donate and explained how to do so.

"A caption then appeared on the screen: 'Saudi Committee for Support of the Al-Quds Intifada, Account No. 98, a joint account at all Saudi banks.' A moderator stated that 'Jihad is the pinnacle of Islam' and explained that the funds would go directly to those waging Jihad, where it would 'help them carry out this mission.'

"The program included the secretary-general of the Saudi government's Muslim World League Koran Memorization Commission, Sheikh Abdallah Basfar, who explained why it was an 'obligation' for all Muslims to support Jihad. He also promised that 'all of the funds sent via the known charities and organizations' would reach 'your Muslim brothers.' "

Continue reading....

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Spirit Of Giving

Over at Social Sense, my good friend Mustang recently pointed out how closely our nation's response to Hurricane Katrina approaches socialism. Certainly our government has a role in the relief and recovery of the Gulf area. But the fostering of government dependence by means of the distribution of unlimited and responsibility-free funds promotes an attitude of victimhood. Such an attitude played a part in the outcome of Hurricane Katrina. Worse, the victim mentality will hamper the efforts to restore the Gulf region to vitality.

Individuals should be helping their fellow Americans, and some are doing so in a personal, hands-on manner. One such individual is Roger Guyette of Manassas, Virginia. This man knows all too well what it's like to lose everything because, five years ago, a fire destroyed his home and everything in it. As is often the case, the Red Cross came to his assistance. Instead of merely accepting help and going on with his life, a month after the fire, Guyette became a volunteer for his local chapter of the Red Cross. He has worked many disasters in the past five years, included flooded areas and the Pentagon on 9/11.

Because Guyette feels a special empathy for those in the Gulf area, he takes a personal and selfless role in helping out. According to a front-page article in the September 19, 2005 edition of the Washington Post,
"Roger Guyette knows the frustration and fear of losing everything. Five years ago, fire swept through his Manassas home, leaving him with nothing until the local Red Cross stepped in to help.

"Which is why day after day -- drooping with exhaustion and an aching back -- Guyette has stayed at the window of a Red Cross truck, dishing out beef brisket, applesauce and vegetables to worn hurricane victims amid the floodwater and debris of this Katrina-lashed bayou country.

"Just 48 hours after the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Guyette began ladling out food. Since then, he has offered sustenance and comforting words to thousands of traumatized, angry survivors. He has lost count of the meals, of the people, of the days. But he knows the devastation they face.

"'There's not a whole lot they can do,' he said. 'They're here. They have to reorganize their whole lives. It's tough on everybody.'

"Guyette, 46, is a quiet foot soldier in this disaster -- one of tens of thousands from across the country who have descended on the shattered Gulf Coast to help the hundreds of thousands affected by it...."
Guyette himself hasn't had an easy life. His parents abandoned him when he was a child, so he was reared in a foster home. At the age of eighteen, he had to assume responsibility for himself, without the help most young people receive. But he hasn't allowed victimhood to dominate his life. Instead, Guyette puts his hands to work:
"Guyette and a fellow volunteer, telephone company retiree Gary Rogers, drove the Manassas chapter's emergency disaster vehicle 1,400 miles to Little Rock -- a Red Cross staging area -- arriving Monday, Aug. 29, just as Katrina was departing. From there, they were ordered to Alexandria, La., 140 miles northwest of New Orleans, where evacuees from the city were headed.

"By then the situation was going from bad to hellish. Levees had broken in New Orleans, and by Tuesday night, thousands of people were pouring into Alexandria. The city opened its convention center and other public facilities.

"Day after backbreaking day, Guyette and Rogers loaded hot food in insulated chests into their Red Cross vehicle and dished it out at shelters and churches. As evacuees in Alexandria moved on, the volunteers headed south.

"By the time they reached this bayou country town early last week, Guyette had lost his cell phone as well as Rogers, who had gone home ill.

"Guyette's eyes are red-rimmed with fatigue. He aches from too many days of hefting heavy food chests and too many nights of folding his 6-foot-1 frame onto narrow cots in damp church basements.

"Nevertheless, he has extended his stay beyond the usual three-week Red Cross rotation."
Some of the people whom Guyette is helping are not openly grateful for the assistance:
"Sylvia Targo, 53, strode over. She had been washed out of her home in Metairie, west of New Orleans, and she was angry. She had been told to sign up for financial assistance by calling a number available at Red Cross headquarters. But once she'd arrived, she learned that the number was one she already had.

"'I came over here, wasting gas, and they told me the same telephone number,' she told Guyette.

"'I know it's hard,' he said. 'We're all trying to help all we can.' He told her about the free meals at the site twice a day. Targo shook her head.

"'It'll cost me more than it's worth to drive all the way over here,' she snapped and got back into her car."
Others, however, react differently:
"At another stop along the railroad tracks, a woman stopped her car and ran over to the truck. She lived in St. Bernard Parish, an area east of New Orleans that was largely ruined by the storm. She said she couldn't reach the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross on the telephone and wanted to know if there was anything more she could do. Guyette told her to keep trying and offered her food. She shook her head.

"'I'm not starving yet. I still got a few dollars,' she said with a laugh." Guyette works on, expressing only his empathy: "'I've been right there, too,' he had said earlier. 'Everything gone -- everything except what's in your car and in your pockets.'"
Individuals, both relief volunteers and devastated residents, should play a role in the relief and recovery efforts. We need more volunteers such as Roger Guyette. And we also need more Gulf residents to accept only what they need for the moment. Sadly, we are already hearing of the misuse of some who have received taxpayers' dollars in the form of FEMA funds--the purchase of Louis Vuitton bags, lap dances, and breast implants. Now is not the time for such waste!

Roger Guyette is promoting and playing an active part in a faster and a more effective recovery for the devastated Gulf region. His mission is a laudable one. He personifies the spirit of giving--the spirit of personal giving, an ideal which socialism destroys.

Continue reading....

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Update On Michael Graham: What Did CAIR Accomplish?

The following is the complete article ,with emphases added by this blog author, from the September 20, 2005 edition of the Washington Post:
If Ex-WMAL Host Is Sorry, It's Not For Bashing Islam

By Marc Fisher
Tuesday, September 20, 2005; B01

Being sacked for arguing on the radio that Islam is a "terrorist organization" may not be the best thing that ever happened to Michael Graham's career, but it's pretty close.

After WMAL (630 AM) fired the midmorning talk show host for refusing to apologize for his remarks about Islam, Graham became the flavor of the month on TV shoutfests and talk stations across the country. Even now, after his 15 days of fame, Graham is busy fielding job offers, working as a substitute host on stations in Los Angeles and other big markets, and conducting a daily Internet-based talk show, happily reiterating his comments about Islam.

But all Graham ever wanted to be was the host of a local talk show in Washington, and ABC Radio, which owns WMAL, has now denied him that platform, which leaves Graham, who lives near Falls Church with his wife and four children, a frustrated soul.

"The whole idea of talk radio is to be a lot of fun, a little edgy, a place where crazy ideas are entertained," he says. "They may be mocked and dismissed, but they help focus the conversation. For me to be sacked for saying what I believe -- it is heartbreaking for me to leave WMAL. I just don't get it: I got your station more publicity than you'd had in five years, and you fire me? What did I miss?" (I sought comment from WMAL President Chris Berry, but he did not respond.)

Graham's journey to the limits of acceptable speech began after this summer's terrorist attack in London. The talk host, a former stand-up comedian who was inspired by listening to Rush Limbaugh six years ago to try radio as a performance medium, argued that because polls showed a large minority of Muslims were unwilling to turn in extremists in their midst, support for fundamentalist terrorism must be intertwined with the faith's teachings.

"If your theology feeds the killers and if millions of your members support the killers, even though they're a minority, you have, in my opinion, a terrorist organization," Graham said.

Graham, whose bombastic style and disdain for nuance made him a rising star in talk radio, had made similar comments many times before. But this time, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington lobby promoting the civil liberties of American Muslims, was listening. Its spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, called me and other reporters to encourage stories about Graham's remarks. CAIR rallied its followers to urge WMAL's advertisers to pull commercials from Graham's show.

WMAL executives told Graham to apologize. He refused. "If I'd said something racist, I would have apologized. But I am concerned about this paradigm that the most oversensitive people get to fire you. I love that CAIR protested what I said. I had them on my show. Yes, protest, argue. If you have the argument, you don't need to have anybody fired."

Graham's firing sent shock waves through a world of sharp-tongued performers who are paid to be provocative. Over a beer at the pub across from the Heritage Foundation, where Graham uses a radio studio, the lanky funnyman marvels that he's considered a wild man in Washington.
"I'm in the middle of the pack in talk radio. But here, I'm crazy loon Michael Graham on the edge. Doug Duncan and Gerry Connolly wouldn't come on my show," he said, referring to the Montgomery county executive and the chairman of the Fairfax County supervisors. "They're scared of me. I'm a graduate of freaking Oral Roberts University -- and I'm scary?"

Talk radio in Washington is among the tamest in the nation. Talk hosts marvel at the high ratings won here by the low-key "Diane Rehm Show" on public radio's WAMU.

But Graham believes Washington audiences are eager for talk with more bite. "Washingtonians are not tight prudes," he said. "Real-life people want me to climb up on my pony with my lance and go after those in power. Real-life people who know nothing about Islam look at the newspaper and say, 'Holy crap, why are they trying to kill us?' "

Graham hopes to have the last laugh. ABC is seeking bids for its radio stations, including WMAL, and the overwhelming response Graham has had from other radio companies makes him optimistic that a new owner might put him back on the air here.

"The only people who are happy about this," Graham said, "are CAIR and the corporate weasels at ABC who go to bed every night terrified that someone will call them insensitive."
Graham makes a good point when he speaks of making an argument. CAIR's actions took measures to get him removed from the air waves instead of putting forth an argument to prove that Islam's teachings do not pose a threat.

Talk radio would have been a good forum for moderate Muslims to have reasoned with us infidels and to have explained how Islam can be compatible with Western ideals. Or is discussion between Westerners and Muslims impossible because the guiding ideologies are themselves incompatible?

Note: Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch has also commented today on CAIR. Read it here.

Continue reading....

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Defining Islamophobia

In Robert Spencer’s recently published The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), an entire chapter is dedicated to the analysis of Islamophobia as ideological warfare. According to Spencer, the term “Islamophobia” is a relatively new word invented by “moderate” Muslims in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and is frequently used as a propaganda tool and as a tool of intimidation in order to silence criticism of radical Islam and, indeed, of Islam itself.

What is the proper definition of “Islamophobia”? According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “phobia” means “an irrational persistent fear or dread.” Therefore, “Islamophobia” should mean “the irrational persistent fear or dread of Islam.” What has happened, however, is that the charge of Islamophobia is used to silence the exposure and criticism of one of the most dangerous aspects of Islam—jihadism.

Spencer cites the following example from January, 2004 (199-200):
“The charge of ‘Islamophobia’ is routinely used to shift attention away from jihad terrorists. After a rise in jihadist militancy and the arrest of eight people in Switzerland on suspicion of aiding suicide bombers in Saudi Arabia, some Muslims in Switzerland were in no mood to clean house: ‘As far as we’re concerned,’ said Nadia Karmous, leader of a Muslim women’s group in Switzerland, ‘there is no rise in Islamism, but rather an increase in Islamophobia.’

“This pattern has recurred in recent years all over the world as ‘Islamophobia’ has passed into the larger lexicon and become a self-perpetuating industry….The absurdity of all this was well illustrated by a recent incident in Britain: While a crew was filming the harassment of a Muslim for a movie about ‘Islamophobia,’ two passing Brits, who didn’t realize the cameras were rolling, stopped to defend the person being assaulted. Yet neither the filmmakers nor the reporters covering these events seemed to realize that this was evidence that the British were not as violent and xenophobic as the film they were creating suggested.’”
The fact is that the Koran and the ahadith, the latter considered to have the same or nearly the same weight as the Koran, promote violent jihad as the best deed one can do, aside from becoming a Muslim, because jihad is active and militant service in Allah’s cause. As proof of the elevated status of waging warfare in the name of Allah, Spencer cites these words from Mohammed the Prophet (34):
“’A journey undertaken for jihad in the evening or morning merits a reward better than the world and all that is in it.”
And the promise of eternal reward has proven to be a powerful motivator, even for numerous jihadists who previously experienced the freedoms of Western society.

Instead of crying “Islamophobia!” or “Hate crime!” when thought-provoking or realistic observations of Islam are made, Muslim organizations which present themselves as Islamic moderates would do better if they were to explain how those troublesome passages from the Koran and the ahadith can be made compatible with Western society. Attempts to silence or thwart by lawsuit both Muslim and non-Muslim discussion of Islam appears to be stonewalling. Stonewalling difficult issues doesn’t satisfy, but rather conveys the impression of secretiveness and complicity.

Continue reading....

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Patton Prayer

One of the highlights of our recent vacation to Kentucky was our visit to Fort Knox. My husband and I knew in advance that Fort Knox itself was closed to tours, but just as we neared the fort via the highway bypass, we saw a sign for The Patton Museum. The display of tanks on the grounds was quite impressive, and we made the decision to stay the night nearby so as to visit the museum the next day.

Somehow, probably as a result of George C. Scott's award-winning portrayal in the movie Patton, I had always pictured the famous general as larger than life. Seeing how small his uniforms were came as quite a surprise! What matters, of course, was not General Patton's physical size but rather his commitment to achieving victory:
"I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight."
The museum contained a lot of material about the renowned general, and on prominent display was one of his Christmas cards to the troops; on the back of the typically worded greeting card was printed The Patton Prayer, which the men of the Third Army received on December 11-12, 1944. The weather lifted on December 20, and the Third Army eventually went on, in the face of extremely difficult odds to the contrary, to achieve victory in a hard-fought battle against the Nazis.
Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.
Perhaps to some, especially to those never having been on the field of battle, The Patton Prayer seems egocentric. Perhaps some feel that the general presumed too much and implied knowing the mind of God. But the man recognized Nazism as an evil which required total defeat, and he did his best to make sure that defeating the enemy was the outcome. To my mind, a war motivated by the ideal of exterminating evil is a just war--a necessary war--because fighting evil is a moral responsibility.

General Patton, a supreme military stategist, understood the importance of locate, close with, destroy. He believed that such was the only way to deal with evil personified by a totalitarian regime.

As we move forward from the the fourth anniversay of 9/11, and we see and hear the renewed threat from American al-Qaeda terrorist Adam Gadahn, do Americans accept the necessity of using proven military strategy in order to achieve victory? Or have we become obsessed with pointlessly trying to understand the enemy?

Continue reading....

Friday, September 09, 2005

In Commemoration of 9/11

The following poem came to me from a recent homeschool graduate in the Washington, D.C., area. This young poet is a Christian and a patriot, and he well remembers 9/11.

On 9/11, those of us living in the D.C. area were most directly affected by the attack on the Pentagon. But our hearts went out to those in and near the World Trade Center as we watched, over and over again, the television broadcasts of the devastation in New York City.

The following poem reflects on what happened in the Washington, D.C., area and also touches on the larger significance of 9/11.

What Dreams May Come

Early to rise,
Early to bed,

For years
History has repeated itself.

Day and night,
Night and day,

The world keeps turning
Like a needle on a broken record.

Over the years, the record has a few scratches.
And one scratch is
Enough to stop the music-

On this day a shout came from many people-
People who would get up, have their coffee,
Read the newspaper, and go to work,

But this time all eyes are on those who shouted-

This is not a dream.
Those people died.
This is real smoke-

On this day all schooling stopped.
All roads to Washington are closed.

As the families of those who died
Watched in horror as this
News was being repeated
Like a broken record on the television,

All hope was lost.
Nothing ran through their minds
Except that family member,
That empty chair,
The kiss or hug before their spouse, son, or daughter went to work.

To those who lost someone important to them-
On this day the world stopped.

What of them?
What dreams may come for them?

I pray and hope for comforting dreams,
Dreams of happiness and love.

For the bodies of the lost loved ones may be here,
But their souls are up there,
Walking on the streets of gold
And sitting at the right hand of God.

They will be watching,
And hoping for dreams that are magical.

To those who came to destroy
The freedom of America-
Our freedom cannot be destroyed!

Every time an attempt or an attack is made,
People from all over the world unite
To help fight for freedom and destroy the system that hates
Everything we are and do.

God is on our side,
And the American dream still lives.

Contributed by NB

For an eyewitness's story about 9/11, see this.

Continue reading....

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thank You

Always on Watch will be back posting tomorrow. She has an excellent essay written by one of her students, and I hope the normal readership will stop back and take a good look at it. Meanwhile, it has been a distinct pleasure filling in for a few days. There are some truly exceptional people who have developed a sense of loyalty to Always on Watch, and I would be honored to have you stop by Social Sense from time to time.

Thank you readers for your kindness, and thank you Always on Watch for the honor and privilege of helping you hold down the fort.

Semper Fidelis,

Mustang out

Continue reading....

In search of . . .

Posted by Mustang with the permission of Always on Watch

In private communications with friends, throughout the blogosphere, in the mainstream media, and all across the civilized world, it seems to me that everyone is in search of perfection. It makes me wonder if, in looking for the perfect world, the perfect leaders, the perfect theologians, the perfect mate, and the perfect offspring, we all didn’t take the wrong exit from the galactic freeway. If it is true that we are all looking for perfection, we aren’t likely to find it on planet earth.

Generally, I do not like politicians. I simply do not trust their motives for running for elective offices; I honestly believe that most politicians are primarily interested in personal gain rather than serving the people who elected them. If we lived in a perfect world, every politician would exhibit the same love of country, the same selfless devotion as our lowest ranking soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine. One does not see privates, seamen, or airmen taking bribes from foreign interests; politicians do not risk their lives for America. But of course, we do not live in a perfect world.

George W. Bush is not perfect (even though I supported him twice), nor any of the members of his administration; he’s made mistakes that affect my country in the most acute way. Yet, in spite of his mistakes, I think that Mr. Bush is doing his level best in confronting global and domestic challenges. If the American people are looking for a perfect president, they are likely to be disappointed because I don’t think we’ve ever had one. And as much as I admire George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt, they were far from perfect.

Our religious leaders are not perfect, either. No matter how much we admire or respect them, for what they say or do, for their devotion to their beliefs and those who follow them, we are often disappointed. They say things that we disagree with, and there are times when their fundamentalism causes us a great deal of concern. I frequently wonder, having read the Bible, where they are getting some of their ideas. I think that too many of these men of the cloth are zealots, and in my view, such people (no matter what the underlying theology) are dangerous to a free society. But of course, all this simply means that religious leaders are far from perfect.

Jesus of Nazareth, who I admire at many levels, did many good things in his scant 33 years. Yet, in the final moments of his life, this man who many believe was the Son of God, questioned his Holy Father. In doing so, he underscored his humanity and demonstrated that he too was imperfect. Still, among those who we remember as having made significant contributions (whether positive or negative), Jesus of Nazareth was as close to being perfect as any other, and yet he was crucified.

Is it human nature to demand more than it is possible for people to deliver? Is our standard of expectation too high? Does this expectation spill over into our personal relationships, and could this be a factor in high divorce rates in this country? Our children, who we dearly love, routinely disappoint us; is it because we looking for perfection? Are we likely to find perfection in our spouses, our children, or our parents and siblings?

The vetting of all those who bear some responsibility for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is coming as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow. It is natural to ask questions, to find areas that warrant criticism, because we want to “get better,” both as a nation, and as a society. We ought to try to do that, of course — and as painful as it might be for some, vetting is part of progress. At the same time, we should remember that there are no perfect people. Relatively speaking, some people are better leaders. Some people are incompetent, while others are exceptional. We can strive to be better leaders, employees, husbands, parents, but we will never achieve perfection because we live in an imperfect world. If we are looking for answers, let’s start with that premise — and in the search for solutions, is it possible for once that we can go about the business of America without being petty?

Of course, I am not holding my breath. Clearly, some of us (politicians) are more imperfect than others.

Continue reading....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Stifling Criticism

Posted by Mustang with the permission of Always on Watch

One sure way of limiting the amount of criticism one receives is to sue them in a court of law. At least, that’s the plan among such groups as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). According to Robert King, writing for the
Indianapolis Star, as many as 40,000 Muslims attended a convention this past weekend in Chicago where they were told that one way of standing up for their religious beliefs is to file lawsuits against those who are critical of Islam (generally) or about Islamic organizations (in particular). According to Mr. King:

“At a Saturday morning seminar attended by more than 200 people, the discussion included how to apply pressure on politicians who smear the faith, the benefits of corporate boycotts and what constitutes legal grounds for defamation suits.

"The key," Corey P. Saylor, government affairs director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the audience, "is to not just sit back and take it."

Aisha El-Amin, who sat in on the lecture, agreed with the need to be proactive. She was especially interested in a Web site that tracks contributions to political candidates.

"We can only fight for ourselves," said El-Amin, a New Orleans resident who was visiting relatives in Chicago when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.”

Apparently, CAIR is proud of its record of filing lawsuits against members of congress, website owners, and radio stations as a means of stifling any criticism about Muslims or the Islamic faith. In particular, again according to Mr. King:

“Already fighting on behalf of American Muslims is the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, as it is commonly known. The organization, playing a prominent role at ISNA's convention, has developed a reputation for being something of a pit bull in protecting the civil rights of Muslims.

“CAIR, for example, sued a North Carolina congressman after he accused the organization of acting as a fundraising arm for Hezbollah, a militant Palestinian group. The council also organized a boycott against a radio station until it fired a disc jockey who called Islam a terrorist organization. CAIR also brought considerable pressure on a Colorado lawmaker who asserted that America should take out Islam's holy sites in the event of another terrorist attack.

“Arsalan T. Iftikhar, the national legal director for CAIR, said Saturday it was time for everyday Muslims to "defend the image and reputation of the community and Islam in general."

"I am here to teach you how the American Muslim community can legally empower itself to protect itself in the American courts," he said, as he went into the nuances of the limits of the First Amendment.

“Sayyid Syeed, the secretary general of ISNA, a group generally less vocal than CAIR, earlier in the weekend said his organization is considering filing defamation lawsuits against some of its sharpest critics.”

Mr. King goes on to recount a telephone conversation with Islamic critic Stephen Emerson, who maintains that the ISNA’s interest in using defamation lawsuits against those who are critical of Islam seek only to “stifle free speech” and that such organizations “ . . . are apologists for militant Islam.” In response, Iftikhar said that Emerson’s remarks are exactly the reason why Muslims “are becoming more vigilant in responding to their critics. He [Emerson] uses innuendo, conjecture, and defamation.”

Could it be true that Islamic organizations, finding themselves criticized by Americans from a wide range of interests (legislative and journalistic) are resorting to lawsuits because they are unable to provide acceptable responses to such criticism? Is it lawful to stifle any citizen’s right to free speech by alleging “defamation?”

We define “defamation” as an overarching synonym that includes slander and libel. In breaking the law, an individual is proven to have made a false statement of fact that injures the reputation of another. Slander involves a written communication, while a spoken false statement is libel. In most legal systems, the proof of defamation is that the statement(s) issued are false. If the statements are true, there can be no defamation. In addition, many legal systems require that allegations of defamation also prove malice; that a false statement intended to injure the reputation of another, or that in making a false statement, the speaker, or writer exhibited “reckless disregard” of the consequences.

In making the statement that organizations such as ISNA and CAIR are apologists for militant Islam, is Mr. Emerson guilty of defamation? No doubt, his attorney would argue that Mr. Emerson is not guilty of defamation based on an assertion that his statement is true. For example, if the goal of all Muslims is the same, and if some Muslims call for the destruction of infidels as the enemy of Islam, and such organizations as ISNA and CAIR publicly support the creation of an Islamic state within the United States in contravention to our Constitution, are these organizations apologists for militant Islam? Beyond that, what harm has Mr. Emerson done in making such a statement? Has he injured the reputation of people who murder others in cold blood?

Meanwhile, Mr. A. J. Whitehead, who operates a website called Anti-CAIR, recently wrote:

“Let’s recap: if an American Muslim group is criticized, the Muslim group should immediately run to the courts and file a lawsuit rather than answer the criticism? If a company should somehow insult Islam, that company’s products should be boycotted until the proper apologies are made? If Muslims or Islam is criticized, then a defamation lawsuit is called for? Anti-CAIR believes that CAIR’s brand of Wahhabi Islam must not be worth very much considering CAIR’s inability to defend Wahhabi Islam on its merits. Wasn’t it Wahhabi Muslims who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001? Now we fully understand why CAIR can’t defend Islam; their brand of Islam isn’t worth the effort and CAIR knows it can’t win in the court of public opinion.”

The reader must decide for him or her self whether it is the goal of Islamic organizations to deny citizens their right to free speech. And of course, the courts will have to decide such issues, also. But one thing appears to be perfectly clear: stifling criticism is not the American way. In fact, it is decidedly UN-American, and it causes one to wonder why Muslim organizations would pursue such a strategy in the first place.

Cross post: Social Sense

Continue reading....

Monday, September 05, 2005

The American Worker

Posted by Mustang with the permission of Always on Watch.

Today, we are ostensibly celebrating the American Worker, but I wonder if it should be a day of mourning instead. In the United States, Labor Day is a federal holiday that is fixed on the first Monday of September. While its beginning involved a Knights of Labor Parade in 1882, it took several years before Labor Day became a recognized holiday. Today, it is generally regarded as a day of rest, but in the past it was a time for political demonstrations, some of which became violent. Of interest, President Grover Cleveland once considered making 1 May our annual day of celebration, but that would have aligned the observance with the occurrence of the infamous Haymarket Riots and associated the movement with socialists and anarchists. In part, September was selected as a means of disassociating our celebration from that of European socialist movements.

Today, as in the past, Labor Day involves such events as family and community picnics, fireworks displays, and short vacations before students returned to school. By custom, Labor Day also marks that point in the year where white is no longer worn as the principle color of clothing, which signals the approach of winter.

Americans observe Labor Day as a celebration of the contributions of working men and women in the development of a strong, vibrant economy; but it evolved through an on-going conflict between workers and business leaders, who for many years, demanded 10-14 hour working days, utilized children as a source of cheap labor, and maintained working conditions that resulted in death and serious injury of hundreds of working men and women. We should commemorate the contributions of the American worker in our present day economic success, but at the same time, we must also realize that labor unions took a turn toward our history’s dark side.

Gaining tremendous power after 1948, labor unions aligned themselves with the criminal underworld, became corrupt, cheated workers, and often encouraged labor strikes when doing so was clearly not in the best interests of their members. As unions insisted on higher wages and improved benefits for workers, American companies (whose motivation has always been profit) began looking around for alternatives to the increasing cost of American labor. This of course explains the exportation of jobs to other countries, where unskilled labor is cheap, and taxation is favorable to manufacturing. For some reason, labor unions (or their members) never quite understood the effect of increased wages and improved benefits on the cost of goods and services to themselves, as consumers.

The United States has already transitioned away from its earlier role as an Industrial power. In this post-industrial age, few goods are produced exclusively in the United States. For example, when one disassembles a brand new automobile and lays it out on a large concrete pad, we learn that only 40% of that vehicle’s parts are produced within the United States, even if the final product is assembled in foreign owned plants located here. When one stops to consider our present economy, it is startling to realize, given that wealth is based on production, Americans are producing very few goods. Rather, the largest percentage of the American economy is allocated to the so-called “service industries.” Service industries include such things as financial services, health care, real estate, transportation, retail activities, government (education), and tourism — and it is interesting to note that for the most part, none of these service sector industries lend themselves to unionization.

As the global economy continues to emerge and redefine itself, perhaps it is time to ask if our system of education is properly aligned to our future labor requirements. I have argued for quite some time that our “one size fits all” education system does not meet the needs or desires of 70% of our public high school students. For example, while most students do not want to attend college, they are not being taught any meaningful skills in high school. Instead, they are being forced to participate in pre-college curriculum; this may well explain high failure rates and disciplinary problems in America’s public high schools. While the socialist mentality prevails in American education, has anyone considered the value of a college degree when everyone has one?

In European countries, skilled workers are highly respected and well paid. Automobile mechanics in Germany are treated as well as physicians. People who are carpenters, welders, electricians, plumbers, brick masons, steel workers, or who labor in manufacturing centers are a valuable and intrinsic part of the overall economy. In America, students are getting the opposite signal: such vocations are not valuable because such skills are not taught as part of our secondary curriculum. In my view, this elitist attitude among socialist educators is a slap in the face to our parents and grandparents who, without a college degree, provided a comfortable standard of living for their families. The fact is that Americans who work as mechanics, electricians, and welders earn a much high wage than do most college professors, and their contribution to the U. S. economy is greater.

As we celebrate Labor Day, think about where we are heading as a nation that has a long history of appreciation for blue-collar workers. Our admiration for the working class should extend well beyond setting one day aside each year so that we can have a picnic with our families. If we truly appreciate the working man and woman, then we should be thinking about preserving this tradition by re-examining our education system and putting an end to the socialist/elitist attitudes that governs it. If we truly admire the American worker, then let us all become the champion of vocational and technical training that will allow our children to become honorable members of society — yes, even without a college degree.

Cross posted:
Social Sense
The Wide Awakes

Continue reading....

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Teen Pregnancy

Posted by Mustang with the permission of Always on Watch

The mindset of some people in this country reflects their socialist upbringing. For example, one mother thinks that if her daughter had received a free condom, then she would not have become pregnant in her freshman year of high school. This revelation comes to us in a story about Timken High School in Canton, Ohio — sent to me in email by a good friend — where out of 1,000 students, 64 females (or 13% of the student body) are pregnant. One student, who is now concerned about starting classes with a bulging stomach, and who is feeling pressure about planning an adoption, said “I’ve been crying every day and every night. I keep blaming myself for this.”

Well, at least we’ve found a teenager who is willing to take responsibility for her own actions. I certainly applaud her notion of putting the child up for adoption, rather than having it aborted. Meanwhile, the stupidity in our public school system continues as “concerned members of the community” debate such issues as why so many teenagers are getting pregnant. Could it be that they’re having sexual relations?

Nevertheless, some members of the community do not feel that teenagers are getting enough “sex education” in public schools. Of course, my reaction is that perhaps they’re getting too much education, including practical application exercises. Other members of the community are demanding that teenagers have better access to birth control methods, and that they be instructed to use it regularly. Here, I have to wonder why anyone thinks that it is the responsibility of the public school system to provide access to birth control devices; isn’t that what parents are for?

One student, an 18 year old high school drop-out who is now working on his GED certificate, labors at a hot dog stand during the day while taking care of his 2-year old son. According to this young man, “My Mom had a kid when she was in school, and now I have a kid. It goes back to how you were raised. Down here, it’s not looked down on because a lot of parents had kids when they were kids.” Bingo!

Now, returning to the Mother who thinks her daughter should have been given a condom, she is quoted as saying “It is time to take the blinders off and realize that these kids are having sex. Obviously, abstinence is not working. If we have to, just give them condoms.” Okay, this would be good advice were it not for the fact that children have parents so that parents can control the activities of their children. A 9th grade student should not be getting pregnant because there should be no time for such activities given proper parental supervision. How good of a parent was is this mother? According to this person, “I asked her 45 times a week if she was having sex, doing drugs, or drinking.” Okay — I think we get the picture. These loving parents should have been consulting a professional counselor rather than berating the child 45 times a week. She may have had sex for no other reason than because she was being accused of it anyway.

The sexual behavior of people does not have a place in America’s high schools. High schools exist in order to provide a basic education to young people so that they can (1) pursue higher level studies after secondary education, or (2) find meaningful work in the business community. Public schools do not exist to replace parents, and they should not be conducting experiments in social engineering — but given the willingness of some educators to take on such tasks, it is easy to see where parents might have become confused over the past 30 or so years.

Credit: ABC News

Cross posted: Social Sense

Continue reading....

Thursday, September 01, 2005

America's Vulnerability

Posted by Mustang with the permission of Always on Watch

We have all been hearing some strange words being spoken lately, some of which are understandable, some expected, some revealing, and some words that are patently untrue. For example, I’ve heard one reputedly well-educated individual say on television that hurricane Katrina is President Bush’s fault because, after all, he failed to sign the Kyoto Protocols. Of course, I’m shaking my head because the fact is that hurricanes are a natural phenomena and much beyond the capability of human beings, even President Bush, to control or direct. There are all kinds of reasons to explain “global warming,” not the least of which could be a pattern or cycle of nature. I do not pretend to be a scientist, but like art, I recognize “good science” when I see it. Declaring that any president could have prevented the effects of Katrina is not good science, and it isn’t even good common sense.

All of us are flabbergasted by the devastation wrought upon the Gulf Coast, and while governments attempt to respond to the need for assistance, we are now hearing reporters ask such questions as, “Well, why wasn’t our government prepared for such an event?” How does one prepare for a Category 5 hurricane, especially when we haven’t experienced one with this kind of devastation? How can the government “do better” when it is clearly doing the best that it can? Now, it is true that the government isn’t working “fast enough,” but when it is doing the best that it can do, doesn’t the argument become moot?

I’ve heard some reporters demanding to know why the government is taking so long to pick up those stranded people in New Orleans. How do you “pick up” tens of thousands of people who are stranded on small islands of concrete structures in a city that is 80% flooded? The fact is that we are not living in a “James Bond” world where suddenly, out of the distance, hundreds of jet skis materialize and come to the aid of the poor and afflicted. For now, let’s forget the “bad decisions” that people made when they refused to obey an order to evacuate the city; the fact is, the people are there, they need help, and the governments are doing the best that they can to render assistance. Limited telephone communications and the absence of electrical power limit the ability to marshal the human and equipment assets that are needed to deal with such issues.

But all of this leads me to the point of this post — and that is a realization of how vulnerable Americans are to catastrophic events, natural or otherwise. In the short term, citizens along the gulf coast region are in serious jeopardy of disease and pestilence that results from water polluted by rotting human and animal corpses, sewage, and leaching chemicals. I believe that we are about to see a horrible outbreak of illness, and while medical personnel will fight as hard as they can to deal with it, their ability to curtail the disease will be limited. One television camera captured a man drinking unclean water, and when the journalist attempted to stop him from doing so, the man pushed the journalist away saying, “I’m thirsty, man.” Beyond such lunacy, Hordes of unsavory people have engaged in looting, intimidating others with firearms, and car-jacking. And now we learn that an idiot has fired a weapon at a rescue helicopter, wounding a member of the National Guard, which has had the effect of suspending humanitarian efforts until military police can be moved into the area.

We are also witnessing an economic event with significant long term consequences. As the price of gasoline rises, so too will the cost of goods that rely upon transportation to move those goods to market. Personally, I will not be surprised to see gasoline reaching $5.00 per gallon, and I’ve begun to worry about the folks who are living in the northern regions of the United States and the cost of warming their homes as we enter the fall and winter months. In some areas of the United States, service stations are already out of gasoline; communities have suspended school because the cost of gasoline is too high to run school buses. What will happen to our “well ordered” society when the demand for commodity goods is greater than available supplies? How will normally decent people react to not being able to obtain gas, food, or water?

And now consider how relatively easy it would be, whether in the face of this natural disaster, or beyond it, for a relatively few thoroughly bad characters to shut down an entire region of the United States. No, there is no reason for panic — but it is time for a reality check among those who typically walk around with their heads in the clouds thinking that all is well in River City. In my view, our nation is vulnerable at several levels. I hope that our government is thinking about that right now, in addition to all the challenges that are associated with hurricane Katrina — but I also hope that John Q. Public starts thinking about it . . . and plan accordingly.

Cross Post: Social Sense

Continue reading....