Thursday, June 29, 2006

"This Is The Last Of 'Em"

(The above title comes from the words my husband spoke last night)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photo courtesy of Joe Citizen

This past week, we lost Walt, our last close friend who was a member of “The Greatest Generation.” In many ways, Walt was a second father to both my husband and me.

The following is an excerpt from Walt’s obituary:
“Born in Kentucky…[h]e served in the U.S. Army from 1941 until 1945 as a Sergeant Major. After military service, he was a budget analyst for the USDA for 37 years. He was an avid sportsman in hunting, fishing and competition skeet shooting. He was lifetime member of the NRA. His wife…preceded him in death. He is survived by his son…,several grandchildren, two sisters…”
Walt’s obituary doesn’t begin to communicate what a wonderful person he was! Obituaries never do. As part of the American death-ritual, they are impersonal and formulaic.

Take the phrase “budget analyst.” If you asked Walt what he did at the USDA, he’d invariably reply, “I was in charge of SWAGS. Silly wild-ass guesses. In other words, I was a statistician.” Walt knew thousands of one-liners and jokes, and he was the life of every party he attended. Nothing in the obituary communicates how alive he was.

Or take this phrase: “an avid sportsman in hunting, fishing and competition skeet shooting.” Those words don’t begin to communicate how superior a sportsman Walt was. He kept our freezer stocked with venison, fowl, and fish. And he provided the recipes, too, so that I could cook up a savory feast. As for competition skeet shooting, I’ve never seen a better shot. Well into his 80s, Walt was a force to be reckoned with at the range as he defeated competitors many years his junior. He was a modern Daniel Boone!

My husband and I had four friends who were members of “The Greatest Generation”: Earl, Charlie, Danny, and Walt—all of them with whom we made acquaintance through my husband’s work and coin business. We lost Earl to multiple sclerosis, Charlie to a heart attack, Danny to liver cancer, and now Walt to complications following surgery for gall-bladder excision and hernia repair. Those four friends were both Republicans and Democrats. What they shared was their unabashed patriotism and the highest sense of integrity. We’ll never again have friends like that group of four.

As I wrote in another tribute,
“We're going to miss those chats around the kitchen table—and Walt's wonderful one-liners. He could always make us smile.

“Walt is the last of our friends from ‘The Greatest Generation,’ and his passing is the end of an era for us on a personal level. We'll miss him!”
The next few days will be devoted to the funeral rites for a dear friend. This Fourth of July will be the first in some three decades without Walt.

Continue reading....

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Type Sketch: The Leftist

Back in May, I posted a student's type sketch, "The Lackadaisical Man." Just by way of reviewing that genre,
"A type sketch is the opposite of a character sketch. Instead of describing a specific individual, the type sketch paints a word picture of a general type of person. Usually the best way to bring the type sketch to life is to use humor, satire, or gentle sarcasm...Usually the title of the type sketch will reveal the opinion of the author..."
The following is another submission for writing a type sketch.
The Leftist

Kicked out of his parents' house prematurely at the age of 38, the leftist wants all to know that if not for global warming, Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans would have had the pre-planned hurricane shelter areas stocked with food and medicine.

Not satisfied with the fact that some people are perfectly unaware that he's a moron, the leftist opens his mouth to declare that it's in your economic interest for your boss to be taxed out of business to pay for unemployment programs and turds in museums.

The leftist has many paper fliers to tell you about the alleged evils of cutting down trees, which he passes out at public gatherings where he wears a Che Guevara T-shirt silk-screened in a seedy San Francisco sweat shop and screams about unfair wages.

Leftists personify a complete lack of a sense of irony, with hilariously pathetic results.

--Submitted by Mr. Beamish
Mr. Beamish mentioned irony, so added here is an excerpt from the follow-up reading assignment:

"What most people don't know is that Marx was an out and out racist and anti-Semite. He didn't think much of Mexicans. Concerning the annexation of California after the Mexican-American War, Marx...asks, 'Is it a misfortune that magnificent California was seized from the lazy Mexicans who did not know what to do with it?' Friedrich Engels, Marx's co-author of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, added, 'In America we have witnessed the conquest of Mexico and have rejoiced at it. It is to the interest of its own development that Mexico will be placed under the tutelage of the United States.'"
The article goes on to discuss Friedrich Engels, Thomas Carlyle, and Charles Dickens. Read it all!

Continue reading....

Monday, June 26, 2006

Expect Delay

Last night we had torrential rains here, and more rain is expected today. Comment moderation may be delayed.

Continue reading....

Vigil At The King Fahd Mosque

(Previous information here)

The picture on your left was taken on Friday, June 23, 2006, outside the Culver City Mosque in Culver City, California. The caption reads "Lighting candles for our two tortured soldiers, Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore."

About forty people showed up to participate in the vigil. Not a single Muslim participated in the vigil!

The report provides the following information about the vigil:
"All of the middle easterners you see in the pictures below are Coptic Christians from Egypy [sic], for the entire evening not ONE Muslim would join us in condemning the tortures of our two soldiers, and in fact some of them yelled out that the two soldiers deserved 'what they had coming to them' because they were 'in a Muslim land.'"
See more pictures, and read the full report from Sons of Washington here.

Continue reading....

Friday, June 23, 2006

Social Isolation On The Rise

A just-published survey seems to show that fewer of us have friends to whom we can personally confide. In 1985, 75% of Americans had a confidant, but in 2004 that percentage had dropped to 50%.

Excerpt from the June 23, 2006 edition of the Washington Post:

"Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago, and a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States.

"A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two.

"The comprehensive new study paints a sobering picture of an increasingly fragmented America, where intimate social ties -- once seen as an integral part of daily life and associated with a host of psychological and civic benefits -- are shrinking or nonexistent....

"If close social relationships support people in the same way that beams hold up buildings, more and more Americans appear to be dependent on a single beam.

"Compared with 1985, nearly 50 percent more people in 2004 reported that their spouse is the only person they can confide in. But if people face trouble in that relationship, or if a spouse falls sick, that means these people have no one to turn to for help...

'"They may have 600 friends on [a popular networking Web site] and e-mail 25 people a day, but they are not discussing matters that are personally important.'"
The article mentions television and work obligations as possible causes of the drop in social interaction. Read the entire article, which doesn't mention loneliness. Perhaps the word loneliness is no longer an acceptable word, or perhaps loneliness is an outcome of social isolation.

Interestingly enough, on the very next page of this same print edition of the Washington Post is this article, about depression.

Your thoughts about the increase of social isolation and a possible connection to some types of depression?

Continue reading....

Protest/Vigil on June 23, 2006... "King Fahd Mosque" in Culver City, California. Details here.

Continue reading....

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Terrorists Close To Home

[Thanks to Dymphna at Gates of Vienna for alerting me to the article cited below]

Here is a paragaph sure to get the attention of Northern Virginia residents—except that, to my knowledge, the information hasn't appeared in the local newspapers. From the June 20, 2006 UK Times Online:
"In the Falls Plaza shopping mall, most preferred to chat about their historic city’s latest civic award for its floral displays and not its reputation as the jihad capital of America."
More from the UK Times on Line article "British Agents Trace 7/7 Terror Links to Smalltown America":
"BRITISH agents are operating in the United States to trace links with Islamic extremists from England who recruit Muslims to fight for terrorist groups abroad.

"The British-led investigation has played a part in identifying a number of US-based terrorists and helped the authorities in Washington to break up an al-Qaeda cell operating in Falls Church, Virginia.

"The agents are particularly keen to discover if the visitors included Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 suicide bombers, who is alleged to have travelled to America’s East Coast to meet fellow militants and stage a series of attacks on synagogues."
The article provides details about U.S.-born teacher and founder of the Falls Church Dar alArqam Center for Islamic Information Ali al-Tamimi. In January 2006, he was sentenced to life plus seventy years without possibility of parole for his role in attempting to recruit followers to go to Afghanistan to fight U.S. Forces.

The convictions go beyond that of al-Tamimi. A particular group of individuals known as "The Virginia Eleven" regularly attended the the Dar alArqam Center in Falls Church and have also been convicted of terrorism charges. A twelfth attendee of the center, Ahmed Abu Ali, member of Al-Qaeda, is serving a penitentiary term for plotting to assassinate President Bush.

Asi Asad Chandia, the most recently convicted of "The Virginia Eleven," was a teacher and personal assistant to al-Timimi. In addition, evidence appears to show that Asi Asad Chandia once worked as chauffeur to Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the 7/7 London bombers.

In the article, much is made of the fact that the Dar alArqam Center was a break-away from the Dar al-Hijrah Center, which we locals call "the Falls Church mosque." Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki, the former imam of that mosque, served as spiritual mentor to two of the 9/11 hijackers; he never faced any charges and is now in Yemen. The following is his comment about The Virginia Eleven:
"'They made inappropriate and irreponsible comments,' the imam said. 'Some did go to training camps but none fired a shot in anger, and once they were in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan and saw what it was really like, they soon had a change of heart and came home. They are guilty of thought crimes.'"
No word as to whether or not they might have fired a shot as participant in the highest jihad—killing infidels in the name of Allah.

Knowing that an al-Qaeda cell local to me has been broken up is comforting. But the UK Times Online article also contains the following statement:
"After al-Tamimi’s conviction, what was left of his group abandoned the Dar al-Arqam centre, which no longer has any links with fundamentalist groups. FBI sources say they are unsure what has happened to some of his followers."
The article concludes with the following:

Among the measures suggested by the task force which have yet to be taken up:

A public inquiry into 7/7 bombings

Rapid rebuttal unit to combat Islamophobia

National resource unit for development of curricula in mosques and madrassas, and guidelines for teachers

Programmes to “upskill” current imams

Muslim “beacon centres” to help small mosques and cultural centres

Set up and fund network of Muslim safety forums to promote meaningful partnership between community and police

Ministerial review of raids, stop and search and armed police activity

Correct the “alien” image of Islam in the national curriculum
Ah, the dhimmitude!

Continue reading....

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Talking With Iran

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

Some time back, I posted this at Infidel Bloggers Alliance. That particular June 3, 2006 article from the Washington Post details how Ahmadinejad is "A Man of the People's Needs and Wants." The slant of the piece is utopian, with lots of good feelings pertaining to promises never kept.

In a comment to my posting at IBA, Epaminondas dropped this Google-search link about Hojatieh, referred to here as the Iranian Taliban. The Google-search link also listed a March 30, 2004 essay written by Amir Taheri before the election which brought Ahmadinejad to power in Iran:
"Westerners often meet with assorted officials who, they are led to believe, run Islamist Iran. They don't....

"At the center of the oligarchy stands the 'Office of the Leader,' Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the 'Supreme Guide.' Under the Khomeinist Constitution, the 'Supreme Guide' represents Allah's sovereignty on earth and has unlimited powers. The opening articles of the Khomeinist Constitution, approved in 1979, make it clear that the 'Supreme Guide' is also the leader of all Muslims throughout the world, whether they like it or not. Thus, theoretically at least, the Khomeinist 'Supreme Guide' can decide what Islam is and is not at any given time.....

"Teheran 'revolutionary' oligarchy uses the Iranian state structures, including the parliament, as instruments for implementing policies that are decided by a small group of mullahs and their advisers behind closed doors and without the slightest accountability. This is one reason foreign, especially Western diplomats and politicians, are often led up the garden path by Iranian interlocutors playing the role of ministers or other senior officials...."
It is worth your time to read all of Amir Taheri's essay.

Continue reading....

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Worthy Cause For Donations

Project Valour - IT (Soldiers' Angels). [Hat-tip: Mr. Beamish]

Continue reading....

The Golden Buffalo As Jewelry?

The image of the American bison, the symbol of the American West, will shortly be available on a new offering from the U.S. Mint. A report from Fox News Channel mentioned the possibility of a two-for-one starting promotion. The AP article about the Golden Buffalo is here, and a larger sketch is available here. This coin will be struck at the West Point Mint Facility, located near the U.S. Military Academy in New York. The pricing of this new coin will be determined by current gold-quotes, which have been rising at a steep rate.

My husband ran a coin shop for some ten years. Typically, when the U.S. Mint issues a new piece, coin-collectors flock in to buy. This new 24-karat-gold piece, however, will primarily attract investors as opposed to collectors.

Many coin shops sell bezels in which to mount coins so as to wear them as jewelry. Some bezels allow for a plexiglass shield, which protects the coin from scratches. I have a few such pieces in my jewelry box. A Golden-Buffalo pendant would be a nice addition to my collection. Wearing one's gold investment as jewelry is an added pleasure and beats keeping the investment locking in the safe!

One of my favorite pieces of coin-jewelry is a 1911 British-sovereign ring. The coin, 21-karat and depicting St. George slaying the dragon, was bent so as to be mounted on a band. The piece is very attractive and creates what amounts to a single brass-knuckle. Because my father was born in 1911, this ring has special meaning for me. Today is Father's Day and tomorrow marks what would have been Dad's ninety-fifth birthday, so I'll be wearing my British-sovereign ring today and tomorrow.

Continue reading....

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Anniversary Weekend

Thirty-four years! Love or sheer determination? Maybe a little bit of both — plus a lot of respect for each other and for those vows we took thirty-four years ago.

Having just spent a fortune on car repair, my husband and I might not do much celebrating on our special day. But it is not the celebration which matters. What matters is the relationship we have.

Continue reading....

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Before They're Gone

From a June 6, 2006 Washington Post article entitled "Surviving Voices Bearing Witness: WWII History Alive at Rocky Run School":
"Students at Rocky Run Middle School set out to answer some questions about World War II yesterday. What was life like in a Jewish ghetto? How were prisoners of war treated? What kind of music did U.S. soldiers listen to back then?

"But students at the Fairfax County school didn't turn to history books for their assignment. They talked to more than 40 people who lived the war experience -- veterans, concentration camp survivors, Japanese Americans held in U.S. internment camps and others....

"The school's World War II Oral History Day project began a few years ago when one student's grandfather, a veteran, visited Jamie Sawatzky's history class. The next year, with help from the National Archives, family members and friends, Sawatzky found about 15 people to share their stories with his students. The program has grown each year....

"At a table in the school library, Thomas Miller, who served as a U.S. Marine on Iwo Jima in the Pacific, leaned in to tell Emma, Julia and a few of their classmates about the morning when he was startled out of bed by a noise he thought was the sound of firecrackers. It was Dec. 7, 1941, and he was serving at an ammunition depot near Pearl Harbor....

"Across the room, other students sat transfixed as Charlene Schiff, who grew up in Poland, talked about living in a wartime ghetto. She told them how she and her mother tried to cross a river to escape but had to hide for days to avoid flying bullets. She dozed off and, when she woke, her mother was gone.

"'How old are you?' Schiff asked the youngsters gathered around her. 'Thirteen,' they chimed.

"'You're much older than I was,' Shiff told them. 'I was 11 years old. I ended up all alone, with no family and no money. I lived like an animal: I ate worms, insects, whatever I could put in my mouth.'...

"Robert W. Patrick, director of the Veterans History Project, said the students also are helping to preserve memories and experiences that otherwise might soon be lost. About a dozen interviews conducted by Rocky Run students in past years are among the thousands collected as part of the project....

"Michael Ingrisano, who was a radio operator on troop carrier airplanes, told the students about bullets tearing through his plane and just missing him. He talked about missing home cooking and recalled writing 343 letters to the woman who later became his wife. He promised to visit Rocky Run next year.

"'I'll keep on coming until they carry me out to Arlington Cemetery,' Ingrisano said. 'All I can do is give you what I feel, so you can pass it down the line.'"
Such enrichment activities bring history alive for students. Kudos to Rocky Run Middle School and to the the Veterans History Project!

Continue reading....

Monday, June 12, 2006

Part Of The Plan

My good friend Mustang of Social Sense has recently published an essay which well expresses some of my same concerns. Republished here, with Mustang's permission:


The global war on terror (GWOT) is not only formidable from the standpoint of placing our troops in harms way, or from the obvious drain on our economy. It is also challenging in the social sense, because there is no doubt but that we are facing a dedicated and crafty enemy. Our own people provide aid and comfort to the enemy by teaching them about political correctness, and they in turn use it as a strategy to their best advantage. Positive reinforcement comes from the fourth estate.

When people disagree on an issue, and one advocate speaks “plainly,” it has become a common practice to accuse that person of being “politically incorrect.” This suggests that the individual is “out of touch” with polite society. One successful strategy for shutting an opponent up is to infer that he or she is “non-PC” or a bigot. But the fact is that unless one is a member of a collegiate debating society, few arguments are ever really “won.” It is nearly impossible to change an opposing point of view. And the fact is that our society has lost its rhetorical ability.

The reasons for this are several. In the first place, few Americans are curious enough to read sufficiently to develop an appreciation for opposing views. In spite of my opinion that as a percentage of our overall population few Americans read at all, those who do seem to adopt an appreciation for a particular genre of reading material. I daresay that most of those who read Ann Coulter will bother to read anything written by any of her distracters. Ms. Coulter herself seems to encourage this by insisting that anyone who disagrees with her is an idiot. My question is why should an honest opinion ever be discouraged? We may not agree with that opinion, but we ought to consider opposing views before discounting them.

Those who seek to add confusion to the efforts of our government in combating terror are now using the demand for political correctness even in the face of factual or perceptive honesty. The debate begins when one group or another claims that they are “offended” by remarks, or symbols, or traditions. For example, Muslims and atheists (an interesting mix, if you ask me) claim offense by our traditional Christmas celebrations. It is no longer politically correct to celebrate a religious holiday. They insist that we call Christmas by some other name, such as “Winter Holiday.” These same people applaud loudly, however, when the United States Postal Office issues a stamp celebrating the change of Islam to a militant ideology; it was the antithesis to the “tolerance” supposedly demanded by the “PC” crowd. When people insist on maintaining the Christmas tradition however, they become “bigots” and “non-PC.”

But I believe that all of this is part of the plan. If the Islamic factions of American society can stir up a debate every time we celebrate our own western traditions, they gain an advantage through confusion and eventual apathy in our increasingly disinterested society. We can see this stratagem at work in other western societies, as well. Recently, the Archbishop of Canterbury has apologized for some traditional hymns in the Anglican Church and has vowed that the next coronation will no longer be specific to the Church of England. With the wave of the hand, the Archbishop discarded more than 1,000 years of tradition to appease British Muslims. And, take for another example how offended Muslims have caused British citizens not to display the flag of St. George. Muslims claim offense by the depiction of the cross. I’m sure that the flags of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Norway, or any nation of the British Commonwealth will eventually offend Muslims living there, as well. Some time ago, a Swedish student was send home for wearing the symbol of her nation’s flag on her blouse – it was offensive to Muslim students.

What else should western culture give up in order not to offend Muslims or multiculturalists? Should we take down crosses that appear over Christian churches? Should Catholics be prohibited from wearing prayer beads where they can be seen in public? Should we plant groves of trees around Jewish Synagogues so they are unseen from main thoroughfares? I should point out in the quest for a worldwide Caliphate Muslims certainly have no problem forcing their beliefs on the rest of us; theirs is a double standard if ever there was one.

In conclusion, it does not bother me that certain aspects of western culture offend people; but I am offended that these people come to my country and then insist that our American traditions are offensive to them. It bothers me that citizens in Great Britain are allowing themselves to be intimidated away from displaying the flag of St. George. It bothers me when a student is punished for wearing the flag of her country on her blouse. It bothers me that these people are so offended, and yet remain in my country. In effect, they insist that western culture change to accommodate them, while at the same time they are unwilling to change to accommodate western traditions. One might wonder, what was the point of coming here in the first place? But of course, we really do know the answer to that question, don’t we?

Dating back to the founding of this nation, Americans are steeped in the advantages of compromise. For example, students of American history know of Henry Clay the Great Compromiser, whose many efforts delayed the American Civil War.

But at what point does compromise itself erode, then destroy a culture? The answer to this question is playing out now, before our very eyes, particularly in Europe, which Bat Ye'or has termed "Eurabia" and, on a smaller scale, here in the United States.

Addendum: For additional reading, see "Beware: the new goths are coming." First paragraph:
"ONE of Britain’s most senior military strategists has warned that western civilisation faces a threat on a par with the barbarian invasions that destroyed the Roman empire."

Continue reading....

Friday, June 09, 2006

Zarqawi Zapped

See Mike's America's exhaustive article HERE.

Continue reading....

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Rethinking Birthright Citizenship

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Amendment XIV, Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Some time back, Cubed left the following comment at Protect and Defend:
"...[A]bsolutely no changes to the Constitution need to be made.

"I think we need to educate our legislators; they are obviously in great need of a lesson or two in the Constitution.

"[T]he 14th Amendment was never intended to constitute a claim to citizenship just because a person was born here.

"It's a little long, but worthwhile, to see what some of the Big Guns had to say about the intent of the 14th Amendment around the time it was written:

"In 1866, it was recognized that the legal status of recently freed black slaves was in limbo, so the 14th Amendment was written in order to clarify it.

"Senator Jacob Howard wrote: 'Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, or who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.'

"Thus, the original intent was specifically limited to freedmen, and specifically excluded 'foreigners' and 'aliens.'

"The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868; it was NOT designed to enable illegal aliens who were breaking U.S. law to be given all manner of privileges at taxpayer expense, or to 'go to the head of the line' for citizenship.

"If our legislators had studied harder in school, they might know that an illegal alien mother is subject to the jurisdiction of her native country, not the U.S., as is her baby born on U.S. soil.

"A bit of stickiness about the whole "born-in-the-USA-therefore-a-citizen" issue came up again a little over 100 years ago, when the decision about whether American Indians, whose reservations had been granted the status of independent nations, were citizens of the United States.

"The Supreme Court held to the original, narrow intent of the 14th Amendment, and said they were not U.S. citizens; the phrase 'subject to its jurisdiction' excluded them as 'children of ministers, consuls, and citizens of foreign states born within the United States.'

"This presented a number of difficulties, so Congress decided to pass a special act, the 'Citizens Act of 1924,' which granted American Indians full citizenship. The act said: 'The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth: 1) a person born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof; 2) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe.'

"The provision 'subject to the jurisdiction thereof" excludes aboriginal tribes not 'subject to the jurisdiction' of the U.S. - hence, it excludes members of aboriginal peoples of foreign jurisdictions like Mexico and other Central and South American countries.

"All of us who believe the mechanism exists already in the Constitution to exclude the children of illegals from automatic citizenship are right, and we need to let our woefully ignorant legislators know this."
So, where does the above leave anchor babies and their parents?

Continue reading....

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Book Review: Future Jihad

In light of the recent arrests of terrorists on both sides of the Atlantic, the book reviewed here has assumed an important immediacy.

Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against America, footnoted and indexed, is a riveting read. In its “Introduction,” Dr. Phares begins with a short and emotional description of the events of 9/11 and refers to the day as “The Pearl Harbor of Terrorism.” Having analyzed the jihad phenomenon for twenty-five years prior to 9/11, Dr. Walid Phares, an expert on the Middle East and a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, seeks to answer ten questions:
(1) Why did the jihadists launch the attacks of September 11?
(2) Are the jihadists planning on future wars?
(3) What can we do about these jihadists?
(4) Are they at war with us? Why? Since when?
(5) What did they want to achieve?
(6) Why didn't we know about it?
(7) Who obstructed our knowledge of it?
(8) Are they planning on future wars?
(9) Have these wars already started?
(10) What can we do about them?
Future Jihad provides historical background and ideological information, but not in an overbearing or difficult-to-understand manner. The opening chapter points out that jihad, a religious duty within Islam, dates from the seventh century and was officially a state business. Perhaps the most chilling material in the book can be found in Chapters 13 and 15, “Projecting Future Jihad” and “America: Jihad’s Second Generation,” respectively. In his concluding chapter, Dr. Phares warns, with some urgency,
“At the end of the next decade, historians will be asking many questions and will face the dilemma of hindsight....[A] stalemate could have been reached as well, if by the middle of this decade several opportunities have been lost.”
This final chapter gravely advises that Americans need to go beyond what they learn in the “educational establishment, which is now becoming an isolated bastion of denial.”

Dr. Phares has done a lifetime of research and is fluent in Arabic, thus able to understand what is being said in various terrorist chat rooms. He believes that proper identification of the adversary and an orderly progression of steps offer hope. Nevertheless, he also points out that jihad is capable of mutation in that a rising generation of jihadists is capable of adaptation, thereby promoting a more sophisticated level of operations.

Dr. Phares' recent commentary on this generation of jihadists was published on June 5, 2006. Excerpt from the introduction to that interview:
"One of the greatest myths about the War on Terror is that our enemy is a static force. Instead, the facts show that since 9/11, Islamist terrorism has been growing and changing in a profoundly dangerous way...."
Dr. Phares’ web site is here, and he also contributes to Counterterrorism Blog, an informative site for current developments related to the topics raised in Dr. Phares' book.

Continue reading....

Monday, June 05, 2006

Beyond Our Imagination

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photo from the Washington Post

Yvette Cade, pictured above, heard the verdict she was hoping for. Below is an excerpt from the Washington Post article "Man Who Set Woman Afire Gets Life in Prison":
"Roger B. Hargrave exercised his right to remain silent before a Prince George's County jury when he was tried and convicted in April of trying to kill his estranged wife by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire....

"In a barely audible voice, Hargrave, 34, apologized to witnesses to the assault. He apologized to Cade's family. He said he was sorry for Cade's condition and prayed she would accept his apology. He said he had become a Christian and hoped to counsel victims of physical and emotional abuse.

"'I still can't figure out what I thought I was doing,' Hargrave said. 'I'm sorry for the pain I've caused. I can only explain my actions as that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.'

"Circuit Court Judge William D. Missouri was unmoved.

"'You never once said I am sorry for what I did to my wife,' Missouri told Hargrave. 'You said I'm sorry for what happened to her. You're avoiding responsibility for what you did.'

"Because of his actions, Cade will suffer the rest of her life, Missouri told Hargrave.

"Missouri then handed down the unusually stiff sentence....

"When [Yvette] Cade was given the opportunity to speak yesterday before Hargrave was sentenced, she stood and said she couldn't think of anything else to say. She asked people in the packed courtroom to bow their heads and close their eyes, then recited the Lord's Prayer.

"During a brief news conference outside the Upper Marlboro courthouse after yesterday's hearing, Cade, who is divorced from Hargrave, praised the sentence.

"'With this sentence issued by the judge, I finally feel safe from him,' Cade said in a prepared statement.

"She said she had thought the protective order she obtained against Hargrave in July would help protect her, adding that she believes she was made vulnerable when it was rescinded.

"Although she did not mention him by name, she was referring to an action by District Court Judge Richard A. Palumbo on Sept. 19, about three weeks before the attack, according to court records....

"State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, who helped prosecute the case against Hargrave, said Hargrave would probably be eligible for a parole hearing in about 15 years. Even if he were to get a hearing and persuade the parole board to recommend his release, he would have to get the governor to sign off on it, Ivey said.

"During yesterday's hearing, Assistant Public Defender Gary Ward told Missouri that most of Hargrave's troubles with the law stemmed from his abuse of alcohol and drugs. Hargrave began using marijuana on a daily basis at 12 and began drinking daily seven years later, Ward said."
For months following the brutal attack on October 10, Yvette Cade's story has been a leading story in the local news and has made national news as well. What she suffered, as well as what she continues to suffer, is beyond the imagination for most of us.

Have you ever met a burn victim, up close and personal? Some years ago, I spent a few hours with a child who was such a victim. His careless mother squirted lighter fluid onto smoldering coals on the barbecue grill, and the four-year-old boy was engulfed in flames from the waist up. I saw him some six months after the event when my husband went over to the house to visit on a business matter. This beautiful little boy looked like a lizard. And the smell! I can't describe it, nor can I forget it.

Putting on my teacher's poker face, I sat down with him and played a board game while my husband and the boy's father chatted about business. Perhaps an hour went by. I breathed through my mouth, as unobtrusively as possible. To this day, I don't know how I managed not to let that little boy see on my face the horror which I felt.

Of course, the time came for my husband and me to go home. Before we left, the boy cried, "Wait! I have something for you." He then ran to his room and returned with his fist clenched, hiding the treasure. He handed me a $20 gold piece. "This is for looking at me," he said. Reflexively, I reached out to hug him, but he flinched away. I took the gold piece and, on the sly, returned it to his father.

That little boy is all grown up now. He's married and has a son of his own. In addition, he's a very prosperous financial advisor and CEO. But the scars are still there, even after multiple plastic-surgeries. Not long ago, I asked him if he remembered that day he paid me to look at him. He doesn't. But something of the memory must remain with him because we are on a first-name basis, even though in the course of some twenty-five years, we've seen each other only three or four times.

Being a burn victim is a life sentence, both physically and emotionally. I've seen that truth in my financial advisor's eyes. And a few days ago, I again saw that truth on television when Yvette Cade gave her statement to the media.

Continue reading....

Friday, June 02, 2006

Educating Hamas

In her presentation at the April 29, 2006 America's Truth Forum Symposium, Brigitte Gabriel mentioned that Hamas has cells right here in the United States, in forty of our fifty states. She rattled off a list so rapidly that I couldn't take down every U.S. city mentioned.

The very next day, an article about some of Hamas's members having received higher education here in our universities appeared in the Washington Post. The article is reproduced below in its entirety (emphases mine):
Distance Learning: Hamas's U.S. Education

"In an effort to pressure the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel, the United States has suspended hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority. But fortunately for the new Hamas-led government, its cabinet boasts well-trained economists, engineers and planners ready to tackle the fiscal straits. Where did they get that training? Start with Iowa.

"Of the 24 cabinet members, four attended college or graduate school — or both — at U.S. institutions, and a fifth had a postgraduate fellowship here. Two other senior Hamas political leaders also earned advanced degrees in the United States.

"They were among the hundreds of Arab students drawn to U.S. campuses in the late 1970s and 1980s, a time when the United States was trying to prevent the spread of the Iranian revolution in the Middle East. Some received subsidies through the U.S. Agency for International Development, and others won scholarships through the largely Saudi-funded Arab Student Aid International.

"Finance Minister Omar Abdel Razek spent eight years in Iowa, first at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, where he graduated magna cum laude, and then at Iowa State University. Despite his continued opposition to the Bush administration's policies, Razek has fond memories of Iowa and of his Jewish first-year roommate. 'They were the best four years in my life, actually,' he said."

-- Mark Matthews
Former Middle East correspondent,
Baltimore Sun
The following provides additional specifics, from the same Washington Post article:
Abdul Rahman Zeidan
Minister of Transportation
BA, civil engineering
University of Alabama at Birmingham (1985)

Sameer Abu Eisheh
Minister of Planning
MS (1984) and PhD (1987)
Civil engineering
Pennsylvania State University

Aziz Duwaik
Speaker, Palestinian Legislative Council (parliament)
MA, geography
State University of New York at Binghamton (1983)
PhD, regional science
University of Pennsylvania (1988)

Wasfi Kabaha
Minister of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs
BS, civil engineering
University of Detroit (now University of Detroit at Mercy) (1984)

Omar Abdel Razek
Minister of Finance
BA, with majors in mathematics, economics and computer science
Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (1982)
PhD, economics
Iowa State University (1986)

Naser al-Shaer
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education
Institute Fellow, Multinational Institute of American Studies
New York University
Studied religion in American history (1998)

Mousa Abu Marzook
Deputy chief of Hamas political bureau (Damascus, Syria)
MA, industrial science
Colorado State University (1984)
Studied engineering
Louisiana Tech University

NOTE: Omar Abdel Razek and Sameer Abu Eisheh do not identify themselves as members of Hamas.
At least some of the outreach to Arab students didn't quite work out as the United States planned. Are we still making that same mistake — training the enemy in strategies to use against us?

Continue reading....

Two Strange Stories

1. "Man drowns trying to save toy boat"

2. "Dozen cons take shot at sex change"

[Hat-tip to Mustang for emailing me that second one]

Continue reading....

Thursday, June 01, 2006

How I'll Begin Summer Vacation

Thanks to The Merry Widow, who sent me this photo in an email.

I'm not this cute when I'm sleeping, and usually I fall asleep with a book in hand. Right now I'm reading Fragile Innocence: A Father's Memoir of His Daughter's Courageous Journey.

I am as exhausted as the kitten in this photograph. And the close of today, the last day of this term's classes, is yet to come.

Continue reading....