Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hippies Want To Run The Country

I'm in a rush, so I'll just post a quick link here. Read it!

[Hat-tip to Donal]

Continue reading....

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Shari'a Law Comes To The UK?

According to a November 29, 2006 article in the London Telegraph, Shari'a law, based on the Koran and the Hadith, is becoming an alterate source of justice in some parts of Britain. According to a recent show on BBC 4 Radio, an unofficial Somali "court" recently rendered a decision in a stabbing case in southeast London. According to the article,
Mr Yusuf [a youth worker from Somalia] told the programme he felt more bound by the traditional law of his birth than by the laws of his adopted country. "Us Somalis, wherever we are in the world, we have our own law," he said. "It's not sharia, it's not religious — it's just a cultural thing."
In the UK, shari'a law is not binding. Yet.

Meanwhile, some in the UK see the use of shari'a law as a good measure:
Some lawyers welcomed the advance of what has become known as "legal pluralism".
"Legal pluralism" - multiculturalism as applied to the legal system?

The article also states the following:
Dr Prakash Shah, a senior lecturer in law at Queen Mary University of London, said such tribunals "could be more effective than the formal legal system"....
Read the entire article in the Telegraph HERE.

[Hat-tip to Nanc for providing me the link to the above story]

Continue reading....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Don't Fire Illegals

According to a November 28, 2006 article in the Washington Times, firing illegal immigrants is discriminatory:
A Mississippi Democrat in line to become chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has warned the nation's largest uniform supplier it faces criminal charges if it follows a White House proposal to recheck workers with mismatched Social Security numbers and fire those who cannot resolve the discrepancy in 60 days.

Rep. Bennie Thompson said in a letter to Cintas Corp. it could be charged with "illegal activities in violation of state and federal law" if any of its 32,000 employees are terminated because they gave incorrect Social Security numbers to be hired.

"I am deeply troubled by Cintas' recent policy change regarding the Social Security Administration's 'no match' letters," Mr. Thompson said in the Nov. 2 letter. "It is my understanding that hundreds of Cintas' immigrant workers have received these letters. I am extremely concerned about any potentially discriminatory actions targeting this community."...
Complying with immigration laws and regulations is discrimination?

[Hat-tip to Raven for calling my attention to the above article in the Washington Times]

Continue reading....

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Campaign Promise To Go Unfulfilled?

Surprise, surprise! The Democratic Party's pie-in-the-sky plan to "fix" the Medicare prescription-benefit program might not be so feasible. From "Success of Drug Plan Challenges Democrats" in the Sunday, November 26, 2006 edition of the Washington Post:
It sounded simple enough on the campaign trail: Free the government to negotiate lower drug prices and use the savings to plug a big gap in Medicare's new prescription-drug benefit. But as Democrats prepare to take control of Congress, they are struggling to keep that promise without wrecking a program that has proven cheaper and more popular than anyone imagined.

House Democrats have vowed to act quickly after taking power in January to lift a ban on Medicare negotiations with drugmakers, which they hope will save as much as $190 billion over a decade. But House leaders have yet to settle on a strategy and acknowledge that negotiation is, in any case, unlikely to generate sufficient savings to fill the "doughnut hole," the much-criticized gap in coverage that forces millions of seniors to pay 100 percent of drug costs for a few weeks or months each year....

"This is going to be much more of a morass than people think," said Marilyn Moon, director of the health program at the American Institutes for Research and a former trustee of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. Negotiating drug prices is "a feel-good kind of answer, but it's not one that is easy to imagine how you put into practice."

The Medicare drug benefit, one of the Bush administration's signature domestic programs, was created in 2003 and took effect in January....The cost of the program has been lower than expected...

For now, it is not clear how aggressively Democrats are willing to push price negotiation. Ideas range from simply repealing the ban on negotiations -- which would accomplish little if the Bush administration refuses to negotiate -- to creating a separate, government-run Medicare drug program with strong negotiating power.

Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.), who is in line to become chairman of a key health subcommittee, said he prefers a middle path, with Medicare setting ceilings from which private insurers could negotiate downward.

But Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the incoming Senate Finance chairman, is cool to the idea of government negotiation, and has committed only to holding hearings to "determine what the result would be of eliminating" the no-negotiation clause.
Tell the AARP, staunch supporters of the Democratic Party, that they've been had on this one. Oh, never mind:
John C. Rother, policy director for AARP, the powerful lobby for elderly Americans, said he has no doubt that the next Congress will give government some role in negotiating Medicare drug prices.

"This is an idea that's favored by 90 percent of the American public," Rother said. "It's not like you have to convince the American public that this is a good idea."
Sure, Mr. Rother. Just keep on believing that. After all, "Hillary Care" worked out too, didn't it?

Continue reading....

Saturday, November 25, 2006

More On Tariq Ramadan

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

In my previous post, "Time Magazine's Dhimmitude," I relied on information from FrontPageMagazine. I did so as a matter of convenience because a Google Search of "Tariq Ramadan" yields a multitute of hits. Probably the sources I'm using below won't be any more satisfactory to a leftist because, as Diana West editorialized,
The media love a martyr. And I don't mean "martyr" in the context of modern-day jihad. I mean the sort from our pre-Islamic consciousness, the long-suffering "victim" of "witch hunts" and moralizing of a singularly "right-wing" and "puritanical" kind. Such martyrdom never dims -- and I'm thinking, say, of Alger Hiss, or, on a different level, Bill Clinton. It beams on in perpetuity, alight with liberal pieties projected by a media culture that, in turn, basks in reflected martyrdom.

Tariq Ramadan, a Eurabian intellectual with a string of associates linked to terrorism, is becoming just such a media martyr.
Below is a bit more information about Tariq Ramadan, from Tariq Ramadan's editorial in the October 1, 2006 edition of the Washington Post:
What words do I utter and what views do I hold that are dangerous to American ears, so dangerous, in fact, that I should not be allowed to express them on U.S. soil?

I have called upon Western societies to be more open toward Muslims and to regard them as a source of richness, not just of violence or conflict. I have called upon Muslims in the West to reconcile and embrace both their Islamic and Western identities. I have called for the creation of a "New We" based on common citizenship within which Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Muslims and people with no religion can build a pluralistic society. And yes, I believe we all have a right to dissent, to criticize governments and protest undemocratic decisions. It is certainly legitimate for European Muslims and American Muslims to criticize their governments if they find them unjust -- and I will continue to do so.

At the same time, I do not stop short of criticizing regimes from Muslim countries. Indeed, the United States is not the only country that rejects me; I am also barred from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and even my native Egypt.
Note that Mr. Ramadan doesn't say why he is s was banned from certain Islamic nations. According to the Washington Times,
Mr. Ramadan's activities do not stop in Europe. In 1995, when the Algerian Armed Islamist Movement (AIM) perpetrated several terrorist attacks in Paris, French Interior Minister Jean Louis Debre barred Mr. Ramadan at that time from France -- based on his links to AIM. Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and his native Egypt also bar Mr. Ramadan from crossing their boarders. He is denied entrance to those countries, not for supporting Hamas or because he carries peaceful messages. They keep him out because of his links to and influence on radical Muslim groups.

Regardless, Mr. Ramadan's popularity among the Europeans is growing fast....
The above link also includes the following information:
...On Dec. 8, 2005, the French prosecution of Chechen terror network chief Menad Benchellali revealed evidence of Mr. Ramadan's links to terrorists in Europe. Benchellali had traveled to Switzerland "one or two times in 2000, to attend conferences on Islam provided by Tariq Ramadan." Benchellali, who later planned chemical attacks in France "under the supervision of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi," was sentenced in June to 10 years in prison.

Earlier, in March 2005, Algerian al Qaeda member Djamel Beghal received 10 years in prison in Paris for participating in a foiled terror attack on the U.S. embassy there. Beghal testified in September 2001 that "his religious engagement started in 1994," when "he was in charge of writing the statements of Tariq Ramadan." That October, Beghal added that he had also taken "courses given by Tariq Ramadan."

Moreover, a 2001 Swiss intelligence memo said: "brothers Hani and Tariq Ramadan coordinated a meeting held in 1991 in Geneva attended by [al Qaeda leader] Ayman Al Zawahiri and Omar Abdel Rahman," the imprisoned planner of the 1993 World Trade Center attack.

Spanish Judge Balatasar Garzon, whose investigations into the terror activities of the Algerian Ahmed Brahim, rendered a 10-year prison sentence in April 2006, reported Ramadan's "routine contacts" with Brahim, the alleged financial chief of Al Qaeda in Europe and financier of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Mr. Ramadan denies these charges. But according to French terrorism expert Jean-Charles Brisard, Mr. Ramadan also "denied being a director of the Geneva Islamic Center, a position he still holds, according to the official Swiss register of companies."
Again, from the Washington Times (a different article/commentary):

Tariq Ramadan is radioactive. Speak to any Christian in the Arab world, and "roadkill" is the nicest thing you'll hear about him. For the left -- especially the far left -- the grandson of the founder of the incendiary Muslim Brotherhood, the most important Islamist movement of the 20th century, is just in from a little stroll on the Sea of Galilee.

For France's influential Jewish intellectuals -- Bernard-Henri Levy, Andre Glucksmann, Bernard Kouchner -- Ramadan is a dangerously skillful anti-Semite....

Mr. Ramadan's apocalyptic, nihilistic vision appears to some as a scene-setter for the center-stage appearance of Osama bin Laden Superstar.

The author of a dozen books, Mr. Ramadan lets fly staccato-style, at the speed of an AK-47 on full automatic, quotations from Nietzsche, Heidegger and the Koran, to prove a central point: Decadent Europe will give way to an Islamized Europe.

The 21st century, he says, will see a second role reversal between Islam and the West: "The West will begin its new decline, and the Arab-Islamic world its renewal" and ascent to seven centuries of world domination after seven centuries of decline.

The fully European Islam, he predicts, presupposes a violent upheaval against the Western values Mr. Ramadan rejects. But he quickly cushions the supposition with hosannas to democracy and free expression. He is a past master of dissimulation and disinformation.

"To Be a European Muslim," published in 1999, was translated into 14 languages. The European Parliament consults him as an expert voice of reason in a cacophony of extremist epithets.

Criticism of this Islamist intellectual troubadour is quickly rejected as Islamophobia. Mr. Ramadan speaks the language of Europe's intellectual left. A frequent lecturer in U.S. universities, his brilliantly articulate perorations mesmerize his liberal fans. "Only Islam can achieve the synthesis between Christianity and humanism, and fill the spiritual void that afflicts the West." All good people are implicitly Muslims, he maintains, "because true humanism is founded in Koranic revelations."

"Today the Muslims who live in the West must unite themselves to the revolution of the anti-establishment groups from the moment when the neoliberal capitalist system becomes, for Islam, a theater of war," is another thunderclap that says "jihad" to his detractors and sweet reasonableness to his fans.

Marxism failed because it slavishly followed the dictates of a bunch of aging klutzes in Moscow, according to the Ramadan school. Islam, he says, can now bring forth a body of values that would form the embodiment of this universal vocation.

This, in turn, would replace the values of Western civilization. Islam-centric thinking thus replaces Eurocentric rearview mirror nostalgia for what was once a great civilization.

Muslim identity is the only true source of universality, proclaims Tariq Ramadan. "It will fill the spiritual void that afflicts the West." Music to some, but a hidden Islamist agenda to DHS. Some would say, not so well hidden.
From this source, quoting Tariq Ramadan:
"Only Islam can achieve the synthesis between Christianity and humanism, and fill the spiritual void that afflicts the West" ("Islam, le face à face des civilisations," Tawhid, 2001).

And again: "The Koran confirms, completes, and corrects the messages that preceded it" ("Les messages musulmans d´occident"). Some Christian personalities whose charitable works cannot be misconstrued - Mother Teresa, Sister Emanuelle, Abbé Pierre, Fr. Helder Camara - are exceptions who show only that all good people are implicitly Muslims, because true humanism is founded in Koranic revelation. Thus, both directly and through this humanism, the "Muslim City" can be founded upon the earth. "Today the Muslims who live in the West must unite themselves to the revolution of the antiestablishment groups from the moment when the neoliberal capitalist system becomes, for Islam, a theater of war..." ("Pouvoirs," 2003, n. 164).
The article below is cited in its entirety:
NS Profile - Tariq Ramadan Profile
Andrew Hussey
Monday 21st June 2004

Some call him ''the most dangerous man in Europe'', others ''the Martin Luther of Islam''. Just how sinister is he?

You will find the headquarters of Tariq Ramadan, described by some people as "the most dangerous man in Europe" and by others as Islam's Martin Luther, in Saint-Denis, the slightly battered and down-at-heel town at the end of the Paris Metro line, once known mainly for its glorious gothic basilica, the final resting place of Clovis, founder of the French nation. Ramadan is admired across the francophone Islamic world, from the ghettoes of Lyons and Marseilles to the souks of Morocco and the slums of Senegal. His pamphlets, books and speeches sell in their tens of thousands. He has put political Islam at the very top of the political agenda in France, challenging ministers over the banning of the hijab in French schools and defending the application of sharia law in Muslim areas. His confident, insolent manner in a televised debate last year with Nicolas Sarkozy, then minister of the interior, now finance minister and Jacques Chirac's most likely successor as president, made him an instant hero to radical Muslim youth in France. Time magazine named him as one of the hundred most important innovators of the 21st century. The anti-globalisation movement embraced him at the European Social Forum last autumn despite misgivings from some activists who saw him as a demagogue.

Ramadan, aged 41, was born in Switzerland to a family that had a tradition of Islamist political involvement. His maternal grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, was a founder in 1928 of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the cornerstones of modern Islamist fundamentalism. His father, Said Ramadan, fled Gamal Abdel Nasser's crackdown on fundamentalist troublemakers in 1954 and founded an Islamic Centre in Geneva which Tariq's brother Hani still runs.

Although he studied French literature and philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Geneva, Tariq Ramadan chose 19th-century reformist Islam as the subject of his doctoral thesis. Much to the chagrin of his supervisor - who later described him as a "pseudo-intellectual" and "vain opportunist" - the thesis ended up as a hagiography of his grandfather. He got his doctorate, but without the traditional congratulations of the judging panel. None the less, he teaches at a lycee in Geneva and holds a part-time position at the University of Fribourg.

Ramadan's academic career has always been secondary to his religious enthusiasms. In the early 1990s, he founded the Movement of Swiss Muslims, to bring Islam to Swiss and European youth. The European secret services - noting that, around the same time, Ramadan pursued further Islamic studies in Cairo - believe he was chosen to act as the Muslim Brotherhood's figurehead in Europe, an allegation he firmly denies. He also denies press allegations of links to terrorism in general and al-Qaeda in particular.

Ramadan's big idea (set out in his latest book, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, now published in English by Oxford University Press) is that Islam is an essential part of modernity. The opposition between western and non-western societies should be dissolved, he says, into a "European and American Islamic culture", which would allow Muslims to live in the west without any sense of contradiction.

But what does Ramadan mean by this? He talks constantly of respect for European tradition (by which he means Judaeo-Christian religious thinking) but rarely gives any positive examples of what he means in terms of art, music or literature (the poet Rimbaud is quoted, but only in a distorted and misleading fashion). His only advice to Muslims in the US is to commit themselves to "the spiritual life" and "radical resistance".

What is clear from Ramadan's writings is that, for young Muslims, integration into western society as it exists is not an option. He refers to the concept of tawhid, faith in the unity of God, which he sees as a universal value. It is the west that has to be integrated into this totality. In other words, he does not see Islam adapting to local conditions - as is the case with many more progressive Islamic thinkers such as Mohammed Taleb or Malek Chebel - but as an extension of the "house of Islam" into the land of the unbelievers. Muslims in Europe should not consider themselves a minority in alien territory but as leaders in the spiritual redemption of the west.

At his office in Saint-Denis, I put it to Ramadan that there is some justification in his critics seeing him as the enemy of a multicultural society. "It is important, I think, not to see Europe and Islam as two separate, monolithic terms," he says. "I am a Muslim and European, and the two identities do not always have to be in contradiction. I think multiculturalism is a way forward. But really, cultures are not separate beings. Islam is and always was a participant in the history of Europe. Unfortunately, many Europeans do not understand this either. And it is this lack of knowledge which creates suspicion and ultimately war."

So is he really arguing not for a "European Islam", but for an "Islamified Europe"? "These two words are another false opposition," he replies. "Islam has always been part of European history. It is wrong to think otherwise. But Islam in Europe is the same Islam as across the world. The duty for Muslims now is to take Islam from the periphery of European culture to the centre."

He goes on: "France is one of the most tense European countries from the point of view of cultural and religious conflict. That is why it is so important to bring Islam, which is universal, into debate here, a place where there is no coherent political belief."

Ramadan is equally clear about the need for intellectuals in the west to understand that Islam is not the exclusive property of medieval-minded fanatics, but, as he sees it, a living component of modernity in Europe and the rest of the world. Ramadan himself lays claim to legitimacy in such debates by stressing that he is a trained philosopher in the western tradition and that, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Jean Baudrillard, there are distinctly European influences on his thinking. He cites as key influences the French writer and film-maker Guy Debord (also a favourite thinker of many in the anti-globalisation movement) and his book The Society of the Spectacle (1967). "Debord saw that modernity in the west had reached the end of its uses for capitalism," says Ramadan. "My opinion, like that of Debord, is that in the west we are trapped in a society of spectacles, illusions. But we are obliged also to fight against false representations, false images of the world."

In France, Ramadan, despite his ubiquitous media presence, is personally still very much the object of fear and suspicion. He does not hold a French passport and was banned from entering France in 1995 by Charles Pasqua, then minister of the interior, on suspicion of having links with the Algerian terrorists who had launched a bombing campaign in Paris that year. More recently, leading intellectuals in France have charged him with spreading the crudest and most divisive form of anti-Semitism.

This came to a head in an article that Ramadan published on the internet in which he accused several leading Jewish intellectuals in France of "communitarian politics". By supporting the Anglo-American war in Iraq, he says, they were also supporting Israel. The names cited by Ramadan included secular thinkers such as Alain Finkielkraut and the humanitarian Bernard Kouchner. Ramadan also accused the writer Bernard-Henri Levy of "vilifying Pakistan" in his book Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, an emotive account of the American journalist's murder.

Most loaded of all was Ramadan's use of the term "communitarian politics" as a charge against the liberal intelligentsia. In French, it carries with it not only an attack on the intellectual integrity of individuals, but also a challenge to the fundamental principles of the Republic. Ramadan was, in other words, not only accusing Jewish intellectuals of Jewish self-interest but also, in an echo of the Dreyfus affair, of deliberately acting against the interests of the state. This is precisely why the level-headed and highly respected Kouchner called him "a most dangerous man". Ramadan's response to his critics is that he does not want to be drawn into "a discourse of hate". He adds that all Muslims must know how to rise above such predictable enemies. "There are certain insults which are unworthy and which we do not have to answer," he says.

The cafe in the elegant courtyard of the Grande Mosquee de Paris, in the heart of the Latin Quarter, is a long way from the grimy streets of Saint-Denis. It has always been a tolerant place and is at present a fashionable meeting place for young Parisian Muslims of both sexes. At the cafe tables, the jury is still out on Tariq Ramadan. "He pretends to be a moderate but anyone who has heard his speeches knows that he is a sympathiser with hardliners," says a well-dressed young woman in a disgusted tone of voice. The writer and academic Khalid Amine, who travels frequently between Morocco and Paris, offers a slightly different view. "Ramadan is important because he can speak to both sides - to moderate Muslims and to fundamentalists," he says. "But it remains to be seen what can emerge from this dialogue."

The consensus at the Grande Mosquee, which has always been at considerable remove from hardliners, is that Ramadan is no Martin Luther, but a propagandist for radical Islam. However, even his enemies agree that his message does contain one important insight: that the real conflict of the 21st century is not between east and west, or even rich and poor, but between ignorance and knowledge, sacred truth and lies.

This distinction is, as Ramadan sees it, the issue that defines the new wars of religion, from Iraq to the council estates of Paris. Most importantly, and most dangerously, as his support grows in France, Europe and even in the United States, Ramadan is beginning to feel sure that he is on the winning side.
Tariq Ramadan is the Islamic expert to whom Time Magazine turns and presents to its readers as the European voice of reformist Islam?

Continue reading....

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Time Magazine's Dhimmitude

This is one of my long posts, so be prepared for a lengthy read. All emphases are mine.

The day before Thanksgiving, the November 27, 2006 edition of Time Magazine arrived in my mailbox. Not wanting to spoil my appetite for the big feast, I decided to wait after Thanksgiving dinner to read this particular issue. But early on Thursday morning, as I was cruising the blogs over my first cup of coffee, I read this blog article by Pim's Ghost. She was all riled up:
...[I]t is their little timeline on pages 42-3 that really irked me the most....

The timeline in question is simply pathetic. It is biased, it is poorly worded (to show perhaps the bias?), it skips several centuries, and is careful in its treatment of the beginning of Islam. This bothers me, all of it. The other thing that bothers me is that if you are going to write a "History of Interaction", you should add more than a handful of questionable views of historical fact. Maybe this is why I could not find this in the online version, only the print copy. Therefore, let me reproduce it for you here:


589-632 Koran revealed to Muhammad; it shares stories with Judeo-Christian texts

711-718 Arabs conquer Spain, which becomes center of commerce and culture

1096-1291 Christian Europe launches the Crusades against Islam

1453 Ottoman Turks take Constantinople, capital of Orthodox Christianity

1492 King Ferdinand drives the Moors from Spain and next expels the Jews

1683 The Ottoman siege of Vienna fails, marking the end of its Islamic expansion

1965 The Vatican issues Nostra Aetate, which calls for interfaith discussion

2001 Pope John Paul II is first Pontiff to visit a mosque, in Damascus, Syria

Sept. 2006 Pope Benedict XVI links Islam to violence, igniting debate and protest

And that's it. That's the history of interaction. Never mind that it is merely belief that the Koran was "revealed" to Muhammad, a distinction usually not afforded to Christians or Jews, but instead given the common journalistic disclaimer "What Jews/Christians believe to be an event in their Faith in which.....". Note the conquest of Spain, simply put, but pleasantly wrapped up by the odd mention of the myth that it became a "center of commerce and culture" that somehow implies peace for the conquered. Then, oh heavens to Betsy, Christian Europe launches those darned Crusades! Why not mention the "interaction" that led to the call for the Crusades in the first place? Wouldn't want to anger guest writer Tariq Ramadan I suppose....

After some time of "European Christians" doing their Crusading against apparently placid Muslims, they somehow take Constantinople. No mention of how Turks come into Islam, nor of any Muslim activities that may have "ignited debate and protest" on the part of any non-Muslims. Skip to La Reqonquista, which was not glorious but involved "driving out", as of so much cattle. And note that the rotten Christian King also "next expels the Jews". Can't let that one slip, unlike the wholesale slaughter of the Jews of Granada in 1066. Am I being nit-picky? Pardon me, TIME. Skip quite a bit again to 1683, never mention the details of the Siege of Vienna, leave readers wondering just how anyone in Europe could have been hostile to the Ottomans while they've had a major city under siege and their failure brings "Islamic expansion to an end".
Being the trust-but-verify type, I turned immediately to pages 42-43. Sure enough! Pim's Ghost had exactly reproduced what Time passes off as "Christianity and Islam: A History of Interaction." Something else jumped out at me from Pim's Ghost's essay — the author of one of the commentaries which Time included in this edition. More on that author in a minute.

As long as I was thumbing through the magazine, I decided to read the lead story for myself. At that early hour with the first cup of coffee still in hand, what I read seemed to me to be blah, blah, blah. Then I came to the post-article commentaries in the "Viewpoints" section. The first viewpoint was "What the Pope Gets Right" by Father Richard John Newhaus. Excerpt:
By decrying the use of violence in the name of God, Benedict is challenging Muslims to confront hard truths....

Benedict XVI's journey to Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, is laden with the wounds of history both ancient and painfully contemporary. The Pope's controversial Sept. 12 lecture in Regensburg, Germany, quoted a 14th century exchange between a Byzantine Christian Emperor and a Muslim intellectual in which the Emperor made some distinctly uncomplimentary observations about Islam. The Pope admitted that the Emperor's statement was brusque. But his point in reaching so far back into history was to demonstrate that problems between the Christian West and Islam long precede today's "war on terrorism."

Although the West, and most notably Europe, may be less Christian today, Muslims still view it as the Christian West. For a thousand years, from the days of Muhammad in the 7th century, Islam enjoyed a run of triumphant conquest, interrupted only momentarily by the Christian Crusades. The time of conquest lasted until the failed siege of Vienna in 1683. After Vienna, and most dramatically under 19th and 20th century Western colonialism, Islam was sidelined from history--one of the main sources of the rage and resentment of today's jihadists.

The jihadists believe their time of resumed conquest has come. Through terrorism and the mass immigration of Muslims in Europe, the jihadists are pressing for the reversal of the military outcome of 1683. This is the context in which Benedict attempted to make a larger point at Regensburg....

The violent responses to the Pope's speech reflect the belief of jihadist groups, such as al-Qaeda, that their religion mandates the use of any means necessary, including suicide bombers and the mass killing of civilians, to bring about the world's submission to Islam. In an Oct. 12 "Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI," 38 distinguished Islamic religious authorities, including Grand Muftis in Turkey, Egypt, Russia, Syria, Kosovo, Bosnia and Uzbekistan, wrote that "jihad ... means struggle, and specifically struggle in the way of God. This struggle may take many forms, including the use of force." The signers delicately criticized some acts of Muslim terrorism, such as the killing of a nun in Somalia, but failed to address the relationship between religion and politics in Islam, or whether the "maintenance of sovereignty" includes, as radical jihadists claim, the violent reconquest of Western lands that were once Muslim. Whether out of conviction or fear of being targeted by terrorists, the 38 did not frontally reject the linkage between violence and the advance of Islam....
Then I came to the second of the "Viewpoint" essays, "Where He's [the Pope] Still in the Dark" by Tariq Ramadan. Excerpt:
Since delivering the speech in which he quoted a 14th century Emperor who said the Prophet of Islam had given nothing positive to humanity and had commanded followers to use violence to spread their faith, Pope Benedict XVI has been subjected to bitter Muslim reaction around the world. Benedict has responded by saying he regretted the consequences of his misunderstood words, but he did not retract his statement--perhaps rightly so. After all, he had simply cited an ancient Emperor. It is Benedict's right to exercise his critical opinion without being expected to apologize for it--whether he's an ordinary Roman Catholic or the Pope.

But that doesn't mean he was right. Muslim attention has focused mainly on the lecture's association between violence and Islam, but the most important and disputable aspect of it was Benedict's reflection on what it means to be European....

As I have written before, this profoundly European Pope is inviting the people of his continent to become aware of the central, inescapable character of Christianity within their identity, or risk losing it. That may be a legitimate goal, but Benedict's narrow definition of European identity is deeply troubling and potentially dangerous....

What the West needs most today is not so much a dialogue with other civilizations but an honest dialogue with itself--one that acknowledges those traditions within Western civilization that are almost never recognized. Europe, in particular, must learn to reconcile itself with the diversity of its past in order to master the coming pluralism of its future....

Selective about its past, Europe is becoming blind to its present. The European continent has been home to a sizable population of Muslims for centuries. While visiting Turkey, the Pope must acknowledge that he is encountering not a potential threat but a mirror. Islam is already a European religion....

Rather than focus on differences, the true dialogue between the Pope and Islam, and between secularized societies and Islamic ones, should emphasize our common, universal values: mutual respect of human rights, basic freedoms, rule of law and democracy....
And who is this Tariq Ramadan? According to Time,
Tariq Ramadan, a research fellow at Oxford, is the author of several books on Islam, including To Be a European Muslim.
Before including Ramadan's commentary, did Time consider this information about Tariq Ramadan? Excerpt from the first article in the above link, an index to several articles at FrontPageMagazine:
The most vocal advocate of Wahhabism in France is Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss philosophy teacher who happens to be the grandson of Hassan Al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ramadan has been very active in France during the past ten years, spreading his extremist views and becoming the unofficial voice of French Islam. He has now become a "star," appearing constantly on French prime-time television.
Excerpt from the third article in the above index:
While claiming to be “against these acts of terror,” he immediately qualifies the reasonableness of those who advocate for terrorism against Israel. This position is taken straight from the American leftist playbook: “I’m personally opposed to suicide bombings, but I would never prevent someone from exercising their right to conduct one against the Zionist oppressors.”

Ramadan identifies these Western policies as the cause of the rise of extremist Islamic political groups and the source of the “us-and-them” worldview of the “four young” (and it should be noted – Muslim) 7/7 London suicide bombers.
Excerpt from the second article in the above index:
It’s not every day that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revokes a visa issued to a Swiss-national scholar scheduled to teach at one of America’s premier universities. But this has just happened, and it’s a good thing too.

The Swiss scholar is Tariq Ramadan. He is Islamist royalty – his maternal grandfather (Hasan al-Banna) founded the Muslim Brotherhood, probably the single most powerful Islamist institution of the twentieth century, in Egypt in 1928. Tariq is a Swiss citizen because his father (Sa‘id Ramadan), also a leading Islamist, fled from Egypt in 1954 following a crackdown on the brotherhood. Sa‘id reached Geneva in 1958, where Tariq was born in 1962.

Thanks to his pedigree and his talents, Tariq has emerged as a significant force in his own right. Symbolic of this, Time magazine in April named him one of the world’s top hundred scientists and thinkers. And so, when Notre Dame University went looking for a Henry R. Luce professor of religion, conflict and peacebuilding, it unsurprisingly settled on Ramadan....

Here are some reasons why Ramadan might have been kept out:

· He has praised the brutal Islamist policies of the Sudanese politician Hassan Al-Turabi. Turabi in turn called Ramadan the “future of Islam.”

· Ramadan was banned from entering France in 1996 on suspicion of having links with an Algerian Islamist who had recently initiated a terrorist campaign in Paris.

· Ahmed Brahim, an Algerian indicted for Al-Qaeda activities, had “routine contacts” with Ramadan, according to a Spanish judge (Baltasar Garzón) in 1999.

· Djamel Beghal, leader of a group accused of planning to attack the U.S. embassy in Paris, stated in his 2001 trial that he had studied with Ramadan.

· Along with nearly all Islamists, Ramadan has denied that there is “any certain proof” that Bin Laden was behind 9/11.

· He publicly refers to the Islamist atrocities of 9/11, Bali, and Madrid as “interventions,” minimizing them to the point of near-endorsement.

And here are other reasons, dug up by Jean-Charles Brisard, a former French intelligence officer doing work for some of the 9/11 families, as reported in Le Parisien:

· Intelligence agencies suspect that Ramadan (along with his brother Hani) coordinated a meeting at the Hôtel Penta in Geneva for Ayman al-Zawahiri (deputy head of Al-Qaeda) and Omar Abdel Rahman (the blind sheikh, now in a Minnesota prison).

· Ramadan’s address appears in a register of Al Taqwa Bank, an organization the State Department accuses of supporting Islamist terrorism.

Then there is the intriguing possibility, reported by Olivier Guitta, that Osama bin Laden studied with Tariq’s father in Geneva, suggesting that the future terrorist and the future scholar might have known each other.

Ramadan denies all ties to terrorism, but the pattern is clear. As Lee Smith writes in The American Prospect, he is a cold-blooded Islamist whose “cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it’s still jihad.”
How sincere are Tariq Ramadan's efforts at interfaithing, the emphasis of his essay in Time? According to this October 13, 2006 article,
...One of Ramadan's interfaith partners, Fr. Christian Delorme, had this to say in 2001:
I am today convinced--and it took me time to understand it--that Tariq Ramadan's thinking and actions are dangerous. I believe he is not at all a man of dialogue. He knows how to charm his audience, but in reality, he wants a total separation between Muslims and other communities. I am convinced that Tariq Ramadan deeply hates the West.
For all his interfaith zeal, an examination of Ramadan's work fails to turn up any positive discussion of Christianity or Judaism. He calls Arabs "my brothers and sisters" while addressing all others as "madam," "sir," or without any honorific. When Ramadan faced off with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French interior minister and presidential hopeful, in 2004 on French TV, he repeatedly called the minister "Sarkozy" instead of the usual "Mr. Sarkozy" or, as the French say, monsieur le ministre. During this debate, Sarkozy pressed Ramadan to condemn the stoning of adulterers, a form of capital punishment endorsed by his brother, Hani Ramadan, head of the Islamic Center in Geneva. Tariq declined to go beyond his previous call for a moratorium on corporal punishment and the death penalty while Islamic scholars study the matter....
A great many adults and students read Time Magazine. The publication has untold impact upon its readers. Would that the rebuttal to Neuhaus's article "What the Pope Gets Right" been penned by someone without the disturbing connections alluded to in the above articles from FrontPageMagazine! Then, again, anti-dhimmitude from the mainstream media is too much to hope for.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Give Thanks

Abraham Lincoln was our first President to make Thanksgiving Day a national holiday. He probably set the observance in late November so as to correlate the holiday with the date of the Mayflower's anchoring (November 21, 1620, by the modern Gregorian calendar but November 11, 1620, by the Julian calendar used by the Pilgrims).

Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation reads as follows:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln
In keeping with the words of President Lincoln, let us meditate upon our blessings, which are too numerous to count.

May this Thanksgiving be a special time for each and every one of you!

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Monday, November 20, 2006

"A Clash Between Two Opposites"

Doctor of psychiatry Wafa Sultan, named this year as Time Magazine's one of the 100 most influential people of the world in "A Daring Voice Calls For a New Islam," sharply criticized President Bush, according to the November 18, 2006 WorldNetDaily article "Bush empowering terrorists, charges vocal Islam critic":
President Bush is undermining criticism vital to the survival of Western civilization and empowering terrorist leaders by proclaiming Islam a "religion of peace," says one of the most outspoken critics to emerge from the Muslim world in recent years....

She understands Bush's position as president and believes he is only trying to be diplomatic, but insists, nevertheless, his words are "empowering" Muslim leaders whose ultimate aim is for Islamic law to govern the world.

"I believe he undermines our credibility by saying that," said Sultan....

[She] told WND she would urge Bush to take a closer look at Islamic culture and its general embrace of violence as a means of establishment and expansion.

"Facts are very stubborn things. Facts are facts," she said. "If you are not familiar with Islamic culture, how can you claim Islam is a peaceful religion?"

The White House declined WND's request to respond to Sultan's comments....
In a February 21, 2006 interview on Al-Jazeera Television, Dr. Sultan stated the following:
"The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations....It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete....

"The Muslims are the ones who began using this expression. The Muslims are the ones who began the clash of civilizations. The Prophet of Islam said: 'I was ordered to fight the people until they believe in Allah and His Messenger.' When the Muslims divided the people into Muslims and non-Muslims, and called to fight the others until they believe in what they themselves believe, they started this clash, and began this war...."
Read the entire WND article HERE, and watch the video of Dr. Sultan's interview on Al-Jazeera Television. According to the New York Times, this video has already been viewed at least one million times. If you've never seen this clip, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

[Hat-tip to Nanc for alerting me this article in WorldNetDaily]

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The Height Of Dangerous Fashion

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

Photo from the Washington Post

Caption: "[A] platform-wearing model tripping and then falling at Vivienne Westwood's Paris show last month."

Having once fallen off my platform shoes back in the 70's and having been on crutches for over two weeks as a result of the fall I took, this article in the November 18, 2006 edition of the Washington Post brought an I-told-you-so smile to my face:
Platform shoes could be the eighth architectural wonder. They are remarkable examples of design but, like most of the seven fabled monuments of the ancient world, surely these extravagant pillars of footwear cannot last.

However exhilarating the shoe's concept, those wearers who equate inches with power must finally acknowledge the obvious:

Platform defies function.

At the recent Paris fashion shows, towering soles topped out at seven inches, with designers such as Christian Lacroix and John Galliano showing all manner of sparkles, tassels and lacings up top. At such heights, the platform shoe ranks as the skyscraper of footwear, but runway models were toppling over them.

"It's like walking on stilts," says Washington podiatrist Arnold Ravick, or "falling off a hill. You're up so high that the center of gravity and balance is off. It's much harder to walk."

Historically, shoes were made for walking, of course, as the Italian Cultural Institute's "Walking Art" exhibition makes clear. Roman soldiers marched to Hadrian's Wall on sturdy thin-soled sandals (which looked a lot like Birkenstocks), so it's fair to surmise that the Roman Empire would have been a lot smaller had those soldiers tried that trek on platform shoes.

Common sense would consign such footwear to historical oblivion. But the wobblies, in fact, have endured a long time. "Walking Art" traces the first elevated shoe to 16th-century Venice.

A pair of 12-inch burgundy velvet platform shoes stands out in the display. The exaggerated soles of these chopines are sculpted like inverted ocean liners, with small, ordinary lace-up booties on top. They were not mere fashion statements. Chopines were designed to elevate Venetian women -- literally above the floodwaters and garbage, and metaphorically above the lowly stature previously attached to their sex.

There has also long been the suggestion that courtesans wore them to stand above the crowd, so potential customers could see them. The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art argues that the height of the shoe rose in tandem with the nobility of the wearer, rather than her downfall. The curators of "Walking Art," Luciano Calosso of the Colosseum Associazione Culturale of Rome and theatrical designer Enrica Barbano, take no position.

There is no argument that these early platform shoes were only relatively stable for standing and almost useless for walking. Unlike modern fashion victims, the Renaissance women of Venice did not try to go it alone. Instead, they relied on walking sticks and a gentleman, who could balance the lady on his left arm while leaving his right free to draw a sword.

Fast-forward to the 1970s, when such acts as David Bowie and Elton John and Kiss rocked onstage in platform boots, and fashion designers picked up on the style. The fad faded, only to be revived in 1993, when Naomi Campbell walked the runway alone in Vivienne Westwood platforms and fell.

More women wear high heels than platforms. The high heel was invented in 1533 to give Caterina de Medici the stature of a platform shoe but with more stability at her wedding to the Duke of Orleans. The kings of France adopted high heels, as did the aristocracy, which explains why poor people who couldn't afford them were said to be "down at their heels." After the French Revolution, flat shoes -- the populist flip-flops of that day -- came back in style.

But high heels made a roaring comeback in the 20th century. After World War II, shoemakers acquired steel that made the stiletto possible. Spike heels have mostly supplanted platforms ever since. Their appeal is made obvious by a Donna Karan design that resembles a corset of black velvet and brass, with a zipper snaking up the back.

The form is great, but function gives spike heels their appeal, according to Ravick.

"The appeal is the way high heels make a woman walk," he says. Not so appealing is that "it's easier to fall off and break your leg."

He considers two-inch platforms potentially safer than six-inch stilettos.

Glass cases at the embassy offer examples of both, along with white leather thigh-high boots crafted for Sophia Loren in the 1966 movie "Arabesque," and soccer star Francesco Totti's shimmering silver-and-blue World Cup boot. Among the historic shoes, there are two examples of poulaines: slippers with long, pointed toes, which fashion-conscious men were willing to trip over for a few hundred years during the Middle Ages.

The collection of shoes was lent by the legendary Italian shoemaker Rossimoda, which supplies the world's fashion houses, and Arditi, a maker of theatrical costumes.

Why haven't platforms gone the way of poulaines, which men abandoned some six centuries ago? Perhaps because fashion has always exerted a more powerful pull on women, enticing them to apply a separate standard. In the design of shoes, fantasy matters more than function.
The long-ago damage to the ligaments in one of my ankles has forced me to abandon wearing outrageously high platform shoes and to choose practical footwear. After a few more close calls with falling off my own shoes, I've decided that the risks of wearing high heels of any kind far outweigh their appealing look. But I miss wearing shoes which used to bring me closer to eye-level with those whose company I keep!

Continue reading....

Friday, November 17, 2006

PlayStation Insanity

Watch the video. All this over a game?

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My Take

I've not had time to read all the comments carefully, but this thought crosses my mind after skimming what various commenters have said:

The right views victory in Iraq as important for presenting a strong face to the enemy. Hence, the right is averse to withdrawal, which smells like appeasement. Time and again, history has shown that appeasing an enemy serves merely to embolden that enemy. Case in point, of course--dealing with Hitler in the 1930's.

Also, some on the right feel that a stable Iraq will lead to stability in the Middle East. Additionally, some of the right feel that regime change in Iraq can serve as a model for other Middle Eastern countries.

The left, on the other hand, sees the American presence in Iraq as the problem in the Middle East. Were the United States to withdraw, the Middle East would settle down. What historical examples can the left offer to substantiate their position? Or is the situation so unique as not to offer examples?

In sum, the right believes that the costs of staying far outweigh the costs of withdrawal. The left, of course, believes the opposite.

Perhaps the above is simplistic and a misinterpretation of the discussion which has been going on here in my absence. Feel free to correct me.

[Hat-tip to The City Troll for giving me the idea of transferring one of my comments]

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Discussion Invited

From Steve's Hodgepodge:
"The question I have is this: Are all Liberals totally aware that they possess the same ideology as al-Qaida, or are some of them in the blind about this? Do they get angry when compared with our enemy, or do they maintain a prowess of pride when being told that they are progressing in the wrong direction toward anti-Democracy and the support of fascism?

"...I am addressing each and every single Liberal that may read this blog to please comment and explain the motives behind backing our enemies, or try your very best to prove the piece as being wrong or misguided."
Before commenting, please read "Al Qaeda Gloats over U.S. Election."

You are, as usual, welcome to comment here, but Steve would also like your comments.

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CAIR: The Other Winner In The November 7 Elections?

From "CAIR's Congress," in today's edition of FrontPageMagazine:
With the Democratic victory in the midterm elections, one big winner was the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). The American Islamic pressure group now has a chance to advance its agenda in numerous ways, with energetic water-carrying by, among others, the Speaker of the House, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and the first Muslim member of Congress....
The article goes on to discuss John Conyers and House Resolution 288. According to the article in FPM,

Such a bill, of course, would do a great deal to stifle honest discussion of the elements of Islam that give rise today to violence and fanaticism. William Gawthrop, former program manager for the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the Defense Department’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), has noted: “There is evidence to support the contention that sources of terrorism in Islam may reside within the strategic themes of Islam,” including “the example of Muhammad, the Quran, the hadiths, Islamic law, the pillars of faith and jihad.” However, “as late as early 2006, the senior service colleges of the Department of Defense had not incorporated into their curriculum a systematic study of Muhammad as a military or political leader. As a consequence, we still do not have an in-depth understanding of the war-fighting doctrine laid down by Muhammad, how it might be applied today by an increasing number of Islamic groups, or how it might be countered.” Conyers’ resolution would effectively end any hope that the Department of Defense or any other agency would begin such study, as vitally needed as it is.

Nothing would please CAIR more, of course, as that agency routinely tars as “bigotry” any attempt to discuss such matters.
Read the entire article HERE.

[Hat-tip to Nanc for alerting me to the article in FPM]

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Personal Update

This posting is a follow-up to "Frazzled!"

1. After nearly two weeks, my car is back on the road. The dealership refused to acknowledge that, in the course of their repair to the heater-tube assembly leading to the intake manifold, they had fouled up the spark-plug wires. Nevertheless, once the dealership provided the diagnosis as to why my car was suddenly running roughly and threatening to stall, my husband replaced wires and plugs. The other major repair — a complete overhaul of the front brakes, marked as "Urgent!" by the dealership — turned out not to be needed at all!

2. Cameo, our youngest cat, had to undergo another surgery, which involved a huge incision with debriding so as to remove an odd irritation of the skin on her back. The pathology report came back yesterday and showed nothing definitive to treat. We're hoping that the problem has now been resolved but won't know for certain until the stitches are removed and the hood comes off. Cameo doesn't like to eat unless I remove the hood; she also needs time to groom. Therefore, I'm tied down as the cat nurse but not as much so since the drains have been removed.

3. The midterm elections are over. No more signs are standing on my yard, so I don't have to stand watch for the sign swappers. I no longer have the tedium of getting out a flashlight to check my front yard when I get home from work.

4. The dead tree has been removed. We have a huge stack of wood for our fireplace.

5. Even though I have finished my course of physical therapy, I still have multiple medically related appointments. The neurologist wants to investigate some other possibilities because of my recent relapse into terrible pain. Meanwhile, I have a massage therapist who knows about trigger points and can provide me with some relief. I see her three or four times a week.

6. I'm starting to catch up with grading papers, making blog rounds, checking snail-mail and email, writing out checks for bills, and reading the daily newspaper. I may even find time to start reading Stephen King's latest — Lisey's Story. I need some recreational reading!

Best of all, Thanksgiving break begins November 17! An end to my overload is in sight!

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Melanie Phillips's Analysis

Today, Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan, posted her analysis of the recent election results. Excerpt from "America Falters":

...[T]he most likely outcome of these mid-term elections is another major terror attack on America. Whatever the smart analysis of the likely shape of domestic American politics over the next two years, America has now signalled a faltering of resolve; and that’s the cue for a redoubled Islamist attack....

Alarmist or realist?

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

God's Paintbrush And A Reflection

I took this photograph on October 31, 2006, a block from home. I have merely to walk a few feet out into my front yard, from which point I can gaze at the "on fire" tree standing in front of the nearby country church built in the 1800's. And when I look at that tree, I see my mother, who so loved this time of year.

A few days before her passing, Mom and Dad took a long drive so that she could enjoy looking at the fall foliage, which reached its peak a bit earlier that this year's peak. Did she know that their drive that day would be her last opportunity to drink in the beauty of God's earthly creation? Perhaps, because she said, "You never know. This could be the last time I see the autumn leaves."

A mere five days later, most of the trees had shed their leaves. And Mom, too, was gone, having shed this mortal coil.

An early snowstorm surprised the D.C. area on the day of Mom's funeral. Like my mother's passing, winter of 1987 had arrived with suddenness. The chill of that year's early winter mirrored the coldness in my heart at my having suddenly lost both parent and best friend.

In these beautiful days of fall, as I do every year, I find myself thinking back to nineteen years ago. One day my mother was vibrantly alive, the next she wasn't — just as the autumn leaves around us are vibrant with color, yet at the same time preparing the trees for dormancy.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Today, If You Vote For A Democrat...

1) You want Nancy Pelosi to be speaker of the House.

2) You want Harry Reid to be Senate Majority Leader.

3) You think its okay for Senators in your party to bash the troops.

4) You love paying high taxes!

5) You want to Cut and Run in Iraq!

6) You don't want drilling in Alaska or anywhere else in the U.S. but you like to whine about how we shouldn't be dependant on the Middle East for our oil.

7) You love activist judges and how they erode our religious freedoms and re-write laws to fit their belief system.

8) You say you're concerned about national security but you're against every plan that has been implemented to prevent future terrorist attacks.

9) You want to sock it to big oil and tax them to death so our gas prices can go up even further even though they already pay an astounding tax rate.

10) You believe in abortion on demand and experimentation on human life.
[The above, reposted from Sunday, shamelessly appropriated from The Chatterbox Chronicles, which has graphics, videos, and links for the list]

Please scroll down to read "Beyond The Congressional Majority."

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Beyond The Congressional Majority

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

The past several weeks, most of us voters have focused our attention on the consequences of having either a Republican or a Democratic majority in Congress. But other matters will also be on the ballots in various states. Among those referenda, according to the November 5, 2006 editorial in the Washington Times:
Missouri, Amendment 2: This ballot initiative to protect and grant access to embryonic stem cell research has drawn national headlines recently...Advocates of the amendment say that it will open the door to any number of cures, and that it bans cloning. But critics allege those assurances are false, and that the amendment's fine print actually permits cloning most conservatives oppose.

Michigan, Proposal 2: Otherwise known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, this ballot measure would prohibit state and local government from discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to any individual based on race, sex, ethnicity for employment. In other words, the campaign...would correct the Supreme Court's disastrous 2003 case upholding the University of Michigan's use of racial preferences in enrollment....

Virginia, Question 1: A state constitutional amendment to protect marriage as a union between a man and woman has a good chance of passing. With state supreme courts in Massachusetts and New Jersey legislating homosexual "marriage" from the bench, traditional marriage proponents have taken their fight to the voters, the democratic way....

Colorado, Referendum I: This is a domestic partnership initiative authorizing the state government to extend to homosexual couples many of the same benefits and protections that are currently granted to a married couple. Its supporters like to point out that the text of the referendum clearly states a "domestic partnership is not a marriage, which consists of the union of one man and one woman." Critics say that's just a matter of semantics and the initiative essentially legalizes homosexual "marriage."

South Dakota, Abortion Ban: The South Dakota legislature took the addition of two conservative justices on the Supreme Court as a sign that the days of Roe v. Wade were numbered. It passed an outright ban on abortion with no exception in the case of rape or incest. Opponents quickly gathered enough signatures to put the law on the ballot for the voters to decide. The law's original drafters knew that it would be challenged in court, perhaps getting as far as the Supreme Court....

California, Proposition 87: In the name of global warming, California liberals, a set which includes the uber-wealthy Hollywood class, have decided that the best way to get Californians to cut back on their carbon-dioxide emissions is to stick them with a $4 billion tax increase. Naturally, that's not what the proposition's supporters claim. They say that the tax increase on oil companies will not be allowed to be passed on to the consumer....
Don't forget to educate yourself as to any referenda on the ballot you will be casting on November 7!

Continue reading....

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Don't you hate it when, in the course of a single week,...

you take your car into the dealership for a major repair and the first time you take the car out for a spin, the vehicle has another problem — a problem which requires returning to the dealership?

you don't find the new problem with your "repaired" car until Saturday, when no neighbors are available to help shuttle you home and, therefore, you have to wait until Monday to return the vehicle to the service deparment, thus dragging the car repair into its second week?

your beloved pet seems fully recovered from a minor surgery, later develops an undiagnosed problem at the incision site, has to wear the hated Elizabethan collar (aka "the cone," aka "the lampshade") and continues not to improve despite following the vet's new set of instructions to the letter?

you come home from a doctor's appointment and find that not only has one of the political signs in your fenced front yard been stolen but also that the missing sign has been replaced by the opponent's sign?

here comes the tree-service expert to give an estimate for removing a dead tree and he sees those two conflicting political signs in the yard of his prospective customer? He must be thinking, "Man, what an easy mark this ditzy woman is going to be!"

you have four medically related appointments in the course of one week, all because a cabbie rear-ended you some eighteen months ago?

all of the above puts you so far behind schedule that you don't have time to respond to comments at your own blog nor to visit your favorite web sites nor to answer your emails or even to read the daily newspaper?

Continue reading....

Friday, November 03, 2006

Fox News Special — November 4

From this source,

Sat., November 4 at 8 p.m. ET
Hosted by E.D. Hill

This weekend, join host E.D. Hill as FOX News examines Obsession: The Threat of Radical Islam.

They are the most vital questions of our time: How deadly is the Islamic terror threat to the world and especially to the United States? Do terrorists really want to destroy our economy, our civilization, our way of life or is this just an exaggeration?

A frightening new documentary by filmmaker Wayne Kopping seeks to answer those questions. Kopping examined reels of Islamic news footage, interviewed former terrorists and obtained undercover footage from the lairs of the terrorists and jihadists.

What he found, is something FOX News believes every American should know.

It's a FOX News special that you can't afford to miss — Obsession: The Threat of Radical Islam, Saturday at 8 p.m. ET

[Hat-tip to Nanc for providing the link to this FNC special]

Continue reading....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Too Little, Too Late

Statement from John Kerry, from this source:
As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop.

I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended.

It is clear the Republican Party would rather talk about anything but their failed security policy. I don’t want my verbal slip to be a diversion from the real issues. I will continue to fight for a change of course to provide real security for our country, and a winning strategy for our troops.
Having had two uncles who served at Omaha Beach and one who served on the front lines of the Pacific Theater, I find Senator Kerry's apology hollow and just as offensive as his failed "joke." My uncles volunteered to serve on the front lines because they loved America — not because they flunked out of school. Besides, the apology came after pressure from his fellow Democrats. As I see it, their primary concern was and is the November 7 election. Senator Kerry's apology is nothing more than pandering for votes.

The photograph below sends a more polite message than I'd like to send:

Continue reading....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Who Pushed First?

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

The 2006 Senate race between incumbent George Allen (R, VA) and challenger Jim Webb (D) has been one ugly campaign. Webb supporters point to Senator Allen's using the term "macaca," and Sen. Allen's supporters point to salacious material written by Mr. Webb. [Hat-tip to Steve's Hodgpodge for the link]

Yesterday the confrontation between supporters became a bit physical. WATCH THE VIDEO. (You'll first have to endure a short commercial)

The October 31, 2006 story from WUSA-TV9:
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- A protester who shouted questions at Virginia Senator George Allen was pushed to the floor during Allen's campaign appearance today at a Charlottesville hotel.

Allen held a campaign event there this morning with North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole.

The protestor and blogger was put in a choke hold and slammed to the floor by three of Allen's supporters.

First-year University of Virginia law student Mike Stark approached Allen at a campaign event.

Stark loudly asked Allen about a rumor Allen once spit at his first wife.

Allen's campaign says in a statement that Stark was being aggressive and was screaming at Allen.

Allen's former wife, Anne Waddell, issued a statement calling Stark's question "a baseless, cheap shot."

Stark tells The Associated Press that as a constituent, he should be allowed to ask a question to his senator.

He says he will press charges against the people who accosted him.
Excerpt from the Washington Post version of the same story:
A Democratic activist who verbally confronted U.S. Sen. George Allen at a campaign rally in Charlottesville yesterday was shoved, put into a headlock and thrown against a window by three men wearing Allen stickers, according to a widely disseminated video of the incident.

W. Michael Stark, who identified himself in an e-mail after the incident as a University of Virginia law student, yelled a question at Allen (R) about whether he had ever spit on his first wife, an unsubstantiated charge that has been circulating on liberal blogs on the Internet. Allen supporters hauled him away from the senator as television cameras rolled....

Allen aides accused Democrats and the Webb campaign of orchestrating the event as a way of getting news organizations to write about the Internet rumor. "These are the typical Jim Webb tactics," said spokesman Dan Allen, no relation to the senator. "It was disappointing to see, and this certainly has no place in Virginia politics."

Kristian Denny Todd, a Webb spokesman, said Stark has no affiliation with the Webb campaign. "I have no idea who this guy is or what he was trying to accomplish," she said. "I saw the video, and from what I saw, he was wrestled to the ground by a bunch of Allen supporters so that is not very nice behavior."...
The 2006 race for the Virginia seat in the U.S. Senate has been one ugly campaign, certainly not of the type which most Virginians usually see. This latest incident reminds me of spats on the playground. "He pushed me first!" "No, he started it!" Considering how important the midterm elections are with regard to which political party will have a Congressional majority, I can understand that emotions of both sides run high. But shoving matches? Shouts of "Did you spit on your first wife?" I didn't even know that George Allen had a first wife, nor do I care.

Election results should hinge on a debate of the issues, and I think that most Virginians want to hear discussion of issues such as immigration and national security. As Northern Virginiastan said in a comment to this posting,
"I am getting disgusted by the Senatorial race between Sen. Allen and Jim Webb. I want to know the candidates's stance on substantive issues like national security, immigration, and terrorism, but instead we're getting regurgitated ads about what Jim Webb said about women at Annapolis some twenty years ago and George Allen's potential conflicts of interest, his mother being outed for her Jewish origins, and his gaffe in calling Webb's staffer a 'macaca.'"
In another week, the race will be over, and I'll be glad to see the end of it. Even better, once the midterm elections are over, the blitz of political spots which infest our television screens will have ceased.

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