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9801  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 04, 2008, 03:00:41 PM
**That's Al Gore's theory. I personally think that we should make policy decisions based on facts rather than emotions.**

That is a cheap shot. I think you will recall me saying that global warming is not the issue we should be talking about. Play nice Wink

***No, i'm saying that knowingly creating bogus books and movies for profit and political power is what's he has done and it should be acknowledged as such.***

**Do you use public transportation?**

Yep, and it is not powered by gas. I am not making any claims that I don't use fossil fuels. If I had the option to somehow remove them completely I would do my best to do so... but that is hardly and option right now. For now I do what I can. For what it is worth my carbon footprint came up in the negative... I am not entirely sure about the inner workings of those calculations, so I don't put too much stock in them.

***Do you doubt that it was built and is maintained by using fossil fuels?***

I have found mountain bikes to be quite enjoyable.

***They are fun. Not everyone lives in such a place or lifestyle that would make them a viable form of transportation though.***

**Depends on what standard you use to determine if things are good or bad.**

Well, I think about how things could be better instead of sitting on my backside being content with the way things are now.

***Fine, but recognize that along with pollution, technology brings many things that lengthen and enhance one's quality of life.***

**Just by existing, you contribute to the impact humanity has on the planet. You may shape your lifestyle in such a manner as to lessen the impact, but you still leave "footprints" all the same.**

I never claimed otherwise. I do what I can which is more than a vast majority of other people. I don't even expect most people to go as far as I do. Little changes add up to big changes.

**Are you entitled to the good things that come from our technologically advanced-dirty fuel using society?**

I am not denying its use in making us what we are. I am saying we need to get away from dependence on it.

**Invest with what money? It sounds like your spartan lifestyle doesn't allow for you to fund much R&D for alternative fuel startups.**

I will however be in the market for an alternative fuel powered car when they become a reasonable option. This is really something the government needs to be involved with.

***When has the government ever successfully caused a shift in the free market that the free market wouldn't have done on it's own?***

It involves our infrastructure and the free market can't change that on its own.

***You say that, based on what?***

I know government interference pains us all, but if we let them tap our phones we can let them fund some R & D can't we?

***False choice. Who has a better track record of funding R&D and bringing viable technology into existance, gov't or the free market? BTW, the US military funds a huge amount of research on alternative energy.***

This is in the best interest of our nations security, and there is no denying that.

***I don't, and as I already pointed out, the US mil is already handing out lots of R&D money for alternative fuel.***

**Hmmmmmm. Pain, sacrifice and pain. You might want to find a different way to advocate your position if you want to win the general public over to your way of thinking. Exactly what kind of pain do you anticipate? Does Al Gore still get to keep his private jet and mansion?**

Hey, we new Iraq would involve lots of pain and sacrifice, but here we are right? People are not adverse to these things if they think the cause is good. We have yet to have anyone make a realistic case for it. I am saying that it is because we are taking the wrong approach. Global warming (or climate change, or whatever the new catch phrase is) isn't it. Talk about things we can solve like smog, and dumping toxic chemicals and garbage into the ocean and people will get behind it. Talk about energy independence. We saw how effective this was in these last presidential debates. Talk about how oil is entangling us with unstable countries with dangerous governments. This stuff is starting to happen I think. Don't you?

***Sure, but until we have alternative energy sources that are cost effective, we need to use oil (including domestically produced oil) as a bridge.***

And Al Gore can keep whatever he paid for... he can look like a jerk for owning it, but ultimately it is his I suppose.

**What reliable, renewable energy source are you talking about?**

Take your pick. There are lots to choose from. Hydro-electric, geothermal, wind, solar. They all have promise.

***Having promise is a bit different than something that is viable right here, right now.***

It depends on where you are, and what is most efficient. I am not even opposed to nuclear. We had a bill in the works to put up a bunch of wind towers where I live... but rich people thought they were too ugly so it got shot down Sad Then they went right back to whining about the costs of power... go figure... I just saw a thing on the discovery channel about a guy that beamed solar energy over 60 miles with microwaves. Tell me that isn't cool!

***Lots of cool things in the pipeline, still we need off the shelf tech that's cost effective today. Ethanol is one thing that can be looked at. My new vehicle is a flex fuel vehicle specifically because of this.***
9802  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 04, 2008, 02:12:52 PM
Sharia 101, ok, what about western civilization 101, thats all that matters.

That's pretty much my intent. The left wishes to empower sharia under their cultish "multiculturalism" concept, thus destroying the concepts of western freedom that allow them their existence. Ironic, no?

That is not true at all. Sharia Law is not cultural so much as it is religious insanity.

**Call it as you wish, but sharia is part of the islamic construct, where there is no divide between church and state.**

There is a big difference. I fall to the left in my political views but I can tell you that the last thing I want is Sharia Law. You know what else I don't want? Biblical Law. I don't want it for the same reasons. The bible is filled with dangerous superstitious nonsense that will destroy the very things this country stands for.

**The big difference is that there is the separation between church and state in christian theology. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's....." Unlike islam, there in no mandate to conquer the world and impose christianity.**

I was talking to a muslim just the other day about this subject. He went off for a time about how stupid other cultures were, and then he went on to say: "but you know the dumbest culture of all? Muslims! They have the wealth of the world in their hands and all they can do is fight over a book!" He is pakistani. He is totally against Sharia Law. If it were a cultural thing you would think he would have a different viewpoint on the subject right?

**No, many muslims chafe at the totalitarian nature of islam, but most dare not speak out least the face imprisonment of death, even in western nations.**

Why not incest? Because of very clear health risks.

**Again, as I stated earlier, there is no requirement that reproduction occur as an element of the crime. It's just as illegal for an elderly brother to marry his post-menopausal sister as those capable of bearing children.**

Why not polygamy? I don't know, but you are probably on to something when you say that monogamy worked so we kept it. I think what you are invoking is called "the slippery slope," and it is a well known logical fallacy. There is no evidence what-so-ever to indicate that allowing gay marriage will lead to incest or polygamy being legalized.

**NAMBLA cites the gay political movement as a model for the push for the social acceptance and legalization of what they are trying to label "intergenerational sex". Of course, an adult male marrying a 6 year old is already approved under sharia.**

All of that being said, you are correct when you state that Sharia Law should not be protected behind the curtain of multiculturalism. We do agree on something after all GM! Cheesy

I'm glad we can agree on this point.
9803  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 04, 2008, 01:48:36 PM
And when was that average joe born?


And you don't think the demands of international politics, and the oval office have changed a bit since then?

**Times changes, but human nature remains the same, and the demands of leadership are onerous no matter the time period.**

You also realize that not everyone always had the right to vote. It was only the land owning elite... Things change. The demands of the office have changed.

**Leadership and the affairs of state are eternal, though the details and technology changes. Machiavelli's "The Prince" and Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" as as valid today, as they were when they were written because of this.**

For better or worse she has played her part perfectly. I am only calling it like I see it. I think it is very disturbing that this is what America wants in its leaders.

**If you want to base your model of leadership on shallow surface appearances and mannerisms of speech, then I guess that's your prerogative.**

Imagine that Barry-O had a daughter that was pregnant, 17, and not married. The religious right would have been shaking the gates of heaven with cries of "the immorality of liberal family values, and safe sex education."

**Hardly. "Liberal family values" is an oxymoron anyway. No one claims that by having a religious faith, it places a bubble around your family that ensures that tragedy doesn't happen, or that 17 year olds don't fall victim to our highly sexualized peer culture that is the result of the "post-modern, post-moral" ethos that has afflicted our society since the left became culturally ascendent since the 60's/70's.**

It would have no doubt been the fault of gay marriage, and a sign of the end... but I degress.

**Not true, but as you said, you digress.**

You know that the issue would not have been glossed over. People would have been on that like flies on cowpies, as the saying goes. But because the fundamentalist crowd are Palins constituents they kept their mouths shut on the whole thing.

**You are misstating this. Christians, as as group recognize the imperfection of humanity and the need for redemption, as well as the value of life. I've never seen the right smear family members of politicians as the left does.**

Obama, Biden, or Mccain would have taken way more flak over that don't you think?


I am not in here advocating obama. I am telling you that I find nothing spectacular about her other than her ability to sell the average joe cheerleader soccer mom act.

On top of it all her religious beliefs send chills up my spine. If you like her you have every right to vote that way... but I can't bring myself to do it.

**How do the religious beliefs of Barry-O's church of "God Damn America" sit with you?**
9804  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 04, 2008, 01:17:25 AM

Sometimes fiction is the best teacher I guess?

**That's Al Gore's theory. I personally think that we should make policy decisions based on facts rather than emotions.**

I don't buy gas, because I didn't buy a new car when my last car died. I saw this fuel crisis coming from a mile away.

**Do you use public transportation?**

Yes, you are correct. I have to live in the world my parents, and their parents created.

**As do we all.**

And they have made a bloody mess of things Wink 

**Depends on what standard you use to determine if things are good or bad.**

I do my best to lead from the front and make changes in my life so I am not contributing to the problem.

**Just by existing, you contribute to the impact humanity has on the planet. You may shape your lifestyle in such a manner as to lessen the impact, but you still leave "footprints" all the same.**

I have no debt, but this comes with its own price. I live a fairly simple and frugal ( I actually like to say "spartan" because it sounds tough and cooler! ) life. I don't buy stupid things like bottled water, because our local water is perfectly safe. I try and buy food from the local farmers when at all possible. There are a lot of little things people can do, but they are lazy, or don't care, or think it isn't their responsibility. Create less waste. It really isn't that hard. My point was entitlement. Are we "entitled" to cheap dirty fuel. I don't think we are. Not if we care about the people coming after us.

**Are you entitled to the good things that come from our technologically advanced-dirty fuel using society?**

My sentiment is easy to back. Invest in renewable and clean energy sources.

**Invest with what money? It sounds like your spartan lifestyle doesn't allow for you to fund much R&D for alternative fuel startups.**

The conversion won't be a painless process, but it is immature to expect it to be. Big problems are not solved without sacrifices. There are many promising technologies on the horizon, but there will be some pain involved.

**Hmmmmmm. Pain, sacrifice and pain. You might want to find a different way to advocate your position if you want to win the general public over to your way of thinking. Exactly what kind of pain do you anticipate? Does Al Gore still get to keep his private jet and mansion?**

Personally I think we need to start by raising the mpg standards. Cars are what people focus on when they talk about getting out of the fossil fuel game, but I think getting reliable renewable energy sources for our homes and businesses is a  much better investment to start with. Cars will follow along on their own.

**What reliable, renewable energy source are you talking about?**
9805  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 04, 2008, 12:57:02 AM
GM: Be nice, Ifill although perhaps biased, was really quite fair during THIS debate. 

**Only because she found herself under an intense microscope due to her blatant conflict of interest she failed to disclose. What would happen to a judge that failed to recuse him/herself from a case where they held a direct financial interest in the outcome?**

You can't blame the moderator.

**I can blame her for her blatantly unethical behavior.**

Blame Palin if you want to pass the blame.  Jonobos has some good points.

**I'm still looking for them**

PS It's nice to agree once in a while    smiley  I hope you are having those "pops"; it has been a long week and I am sure for you too.  And I am really not
the devil incarnate although sometimes I think you think so.   grin

No, I don't think you're the devil. He's taller, and he lives in Santa Monica.   evil
9806  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 04, 2008, 12:50:15 AM
I agree Ifill behaved, indeed I thought she did a rather good job-- though I suspect her personal policitics being put in the spotlight had something to do with that.

I thought SP did quite well.  Although not able to wonk with Biden on some of the points and there were some passages where he scored well, she showed a strong ability to define things on her terms and an impressive abiilty to absorb and articulate a lot of material-- to operate at this level after 5 weeks on the national stage I find genuinely impressive.  She did very well keeping track of Biden's points and answering them-- and ducking the ones that she wanted to.  I thought she did well by steering the conversation to energy matters where she was able to show substance, and did VERY well with "the vision thing", leaving Biden looking the wonk.

I don't think she even answered half the questions she was asked, and I don't think that is a good thing. She just fell back on whatever her note cards said. Ducking the issue doesn't give me confidence in someones leadership abilities. It makes me think they are selling me a lemon.

Here is my real problem with Palin. she is playing the "I am a country bumpkin" card. "Say it ain't so Joe!" "Well gosh darn..." I don't want a bumpkin as our second in command. I think it is disgusting that people demand an "elite" brain surgeon, but when it comes time to vote they look for the most mediocre person they can find. Why does being a soccer mom all of the sudden qualify someone to be in office? I won't vote for someone that acts and talks like my grandmother. I love gramma, but she would make a terrible president! Tongue

**When did we become Britain, where having the "right" accent makes or breaks you? What kind of accent does an elite brain surgeon have? I'm pretty sure SP has a bit more than "soccer mom" on her resume, yes?**

Peoples expectations of presidential, and vice presidential candidates are so low that she pretty much won that debate by not screwing it up... it makes me sort of sad...

**She's been targeted in the most abusive and unfair ways possible since being announced. Her debate was "moderated" by one of the more corrupt members of the MSM i've seen in a long time. Apparently, Michelle Obama wasn't available, so Gwen Ifill was their second choice. She had the cards stacked against her going in, so it was a matter of playing a good defensive game and winning on personality.**

This isn't about accent, this is about acting like your an "average joe." The vice president should not be an "average joe," and if they act like one they should be called on it. I am sorry, but that is how I see it. She is presenting a personality and demeanor that I think is unbefitting of the VP of the United States.

**Let me remind you of the words of an "average joe" that was born in a log cabin and never attended Harvard: "and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." He never said anything about the supposedly elite members of our society running things for the rest of us. I bet his rural roots were quite evident in his speech patterns.**

As far as calling foul on how she has been treated... well... deal with it.

**She has. Quite well, thank you.**

She is a celebrity now, and she is under direct public scrutiny. This will not change if she is the VP, so she better learn to handle it. To be totally fair she has been given a pass on several things that any of the other candidates would have taken flack for.

**Oh really? Please explain.**

And she didn't win on personality. My point was that she won by not screwing up. "Hey look, she didn't answer any of the questions, but she didn't make a fool of herself so she did very well!" Like I said, I feel like I am being sold a lemon.

**When does Barry-O get the same sort of scrutiny from the MSM?**
9807  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 04, 2008, 12:03:50 AM
Global warming, and its denial are nothing but a way to dodge the issue. Believers and deniers are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are not talking about the real problems. Go ahead and explain to me why smog is a good thing, or why high levels of mercury in the fish is positive?

**Is there anyone out there that is pro-smog, or likes mercury in fish?**

Try and explain the island of garbage floating around the ocean? You can't spin those into anything beneficial and trying is insanity. Here is a famous letter from chief Seattle to pres Washington. Its historical accuracy is questionable, but you can't deny the wisdom contained within:

**The  historical accuracy isn't questionable, it's an outright fraud. Also, George Washington died in 1799, so the letter, which was written by a Texas screenwriter in the early 1970's probably wasn't intended for him.  wink  Yes, Texas based screenwriters are well known for their spiritual depth and wisdom.**

We are ruining the world for future generations. Do we really have a right to complain about gas being 4$ a gallon?

**Last time I checked, we are free to complain about anything we wish to complain about, like smog and mercury in fish, as well as high gas prices.**

 Are we really entitled to cheap dirty fuels?

**The next time you buy gas, insist on paying double. I doubt the station owner will complain.**

I think the future generations would say no, because they are the ones that have to live in, and clean up our mess.

**They have to live with what prior generations have done before, both good and bad, just like every human generation has had to do since the start of our species.**

Whatever we do to this world, we do to our selves, and more importantly, to the generations that have not yet come. So lets clean up our act, because the world doesn't belong to us. It is sappy I know, but it is the truth!  Wink

**Your sentiment is fine, but what are your tangible policy suggestions? Sure, smog is bad. Go a month without using/consuming anything that added to air pollution as a side effect. Let us know how that works out for you.**
9808  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 10:42:42 PM
I agree Ifill behaved, indeed I thought she did a rather good job-- though I suspect her personal policitics being put in the spotlight had something to do with that.

I thought SP did quite well.  Although not able to wonk with Biden on some of the points and there were some passages where he scored well, she showed a strong ability to define things on her terms and an impressive abiilty to absorb and articulate a lot of material-- to operate at this level after 5 weeks on the national stage I find genuinely impressive.  She did very well keeping track of Biden's points and answering them-- and ducking the ones that she wanted to.  I thought she did well by steering the conversation to energy matters where she was able to show substance, and did VERY well with "the vision thing", leaving Biden looking the wonk.

I don't think she even answered half the questions she was asked, and I don't think that is a good thing. She just fell back on whatever her note cards said. Ducking the issue doesn't give me confidence in someones leadership abilities. It makes me think they are selling me a lemon.

Here is my real problem with Palin. she is playing the "I am a country bumpkin" card. "Say it ain't so Joe!" "Well gosh darn..." I don't want a bumpkin as our second in command. I think it is disgusting that people demand an "elite" brain surgeon, but when it comes time to vote they look for the most mediocre person they can find. Why does being a soccer mom all of the sudden qualify someone to be in office? I won't vote for someone that acts and talks like my grandmother. I love gramma, but she would make a terrible president! Tongue

**When did we become Britain, where having the "right" accent makes or breaks you? What kind of accent does an elite brain surgeon have? I'm pretty sure SP has a bit more than "soccer mom" on her resume, yes?**

Peoples expectations of presidential, and vice presidential candidates are so low that she pretty much won that debate by not screwing it up... it makes me sort of sad...

**She's been targeted in the most abusive and unfair ways possible since being announced. Her debate was "moderated" by one of the more corrupt members of the MSM i've seen in a long time. Apparently, Michelle Obama wasn't available, so Gwen Ifill was their second choice. She had the cards stacked against her going in, so it was a matter of playing a good defensive game and winning on personality.**
9809  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 09:23:51 PM
Wow. Here i'm having to agree with JDN again. I may need to have a few pops now.....   grin
9810  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 08:51:00 PM
Sharia 101, ok, what about western civilization 101, thats all that matters.

That's pretty much my intent. The left wishes to empower sharia under their cultish "multiculturalism" concept, thus destroying the concepts of western freedom that allow them their existence. Ironic, no?
9811  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 05:31:28 PM

More on Biden's "misspeakings".

Anyone in the MSM with even an ounce of journalistic ethics left? Hello?
9812  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 05:07:02 PM
Islamist Circles: Sunna Deniers Who Oppose the Sunna as a Source of Religious Rulings Are Apostates

Gamal Al-Banna himself recently made headlines when the Islamic Research Institute of Al-Azhar University in Cairo banned his book, ' The Responsibility for the Failure of the Islamic State '. [6] His name also appeared in a detailed study against " Sunna deniers" that was posted on the Muslim website, the motto of which is "Life in the Way of the Prophet Is Harder than Death for His Sake" and which encourages Muslims to devote themselves to Allah in accordance with the Koran and the Sunna.

The study reviewed the history of Sunna denial that began in the second century of Islam (the eighth century CE), which sees the Koran as the only source of Islamic legislation and rejects the Sunna as an additional source for religious rulings. The study presents the various groups that rejected the Sunna, in part or in whole: the Shi'a, the Khawarij, [7] the Mu'tazila, [8] and the Orientalists. It goes on to review the development of Sunna denial in different countries, and discusses the important centers of Sunna denial in India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt.

The study also focuses on the main figures who advocated and still advocate this approach, including the prominent reformists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Egyptian scholar Muhammad Abdu (d. 1905) and his disciple, Syrian scholar Muhammad Rashid Rida (d. 1935); Egyptian writers Taha Hussein (d. 1973), Ahmad Amin (d. 1954); Tawfiq Al-Hakim (d. 1987); Libyan ruler Mu'ammar Qaddafi; former Al-Azhar University lecturer, fired for his anti- Sunna views, Ahmad Subhi Mansour; and liberal Syrian intellectual Muhammad Shahrour.

Following its comprehensive review of Sunna denial, the study determines that the doubts raised by opponents of the Sunna, past and present, should be studied and that it must be clarified that they are all disproved, and that their writings must all be subjected to a thorough examination; further, they must all be decreed apostates ( irtidad ) and Allah's laws must be applied, with the knowledge of the judicial system. The punishment for introducing forbidden innovations into Islam must be applied to those who oppose the proper Islamic traditions, and they must atone or be condemned. In addition, a world association for those wishing to defend the Sunna must be created. [9]

A similar view was expressed by Al-Azhar University member Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashour, who stated in an interview with the Egyptian paper Al-Masri Al-Yawm: "Anyone who calls to rely on the Koran alone and ignore the Sunna of the Prophet is an apostate and has left the fold of Islam, because he has denied a definitely known [aspect] of the religion. Further, he is denying half of the religion, because the Prophet said: 'I have left for you something that if you cling to it you will never err after [my death] – [that is,] Allah's book [the Koran] and my Sunna.' The Sunna of the Prophet illuminates and interprets what the Koran says. It also includes matters that do not appear in the Koran, such as the way of prayer, pilgrimage, giving charity, and the rest of the commandments between man and Allah, and the rest of life's affairs. Anyone who says that the Sunna should be ignored is beyond doubt an apostate." [10]

Reformists: The Koranic Texts Are the Sole Authentic Source; There Should Be No Monopoly on the Interpretation of the Holy Text; Ijtihad Must Be Renewed in Line with the Present Century

The issue of rejection of the Sunna as a source of legislation was discussed in a workshop on "Islam and Reform," held in Cairo on October 5-6, 2004. The workshop's concluding statement stressed "the importance of implementing both religious and political reforms in order to achieve comprehensive reform." It called "for creating a new intellectual context for Islamic thought based on clear assumptions and unity that will take into account all the changes in Muslim society throughout the past 11 centuries." To this end, the statement said, there must be "a profound reexamination of Islamic heritage, including all the Islamic sciences established during the past three centuries of Islam – Koran commentary, the Hadith [Islamic traditions], the roots of the religion, and religious law," and "reliance on the Koranic texts as the only authentic source for the purpose of reexamining all of Islamic heritage."

The concluding statement further called for "confronting all the institutions that claim a monopoly on the religion and on the proper interpretation of the holy text [the Koran]. Instead, there is [a need for] a new trend that will establish everyone's right [to implement] Ijtihad, under the banner of Islamic reform that is right for this century." [11]

The concluding statement was signed by leading progressives and reformists in the Arab and Islamic world: Dr. Sa'd Al-Din Ibrahim, chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center in Cairo; Egyptian intellectual Gamal Al-Banna; Egyptian intellectual Dr. Sayyed Al-Qimni; Syrian intellectual Muhammad Shahrour; Dr. Radhwan Masmoudi, executive director of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy in the U.S.; Dr. Najah Kadhim, director of the Islamic Forum for Islamic Dialogue in Britain; Sharifa Macarandas, president of the Mindanao Women's League, the Philippines; Tunisian intellectual Salah Al-Din Al-Jurashi; Dr. 'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, former director of the Faculty of Shari'a Law, Qatar University; Dr. Fabyola Badawi, director of the European Arabian Union for Democracy and Dialogue in France; and Abdallah Ali Sabri, editor-in-chief of the Yemenite Saut Al-Shura daily.

The workshop and its recommendations enraged Egypt's religious establishment. In statements to the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai Al-'Aam, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi said that the workshop had sounded "an explicit call to deny the Sunna of the Prophet, and the Al-Azhar [establishment] and [Egyptian] society rejects this." He added, "These centers [whose representatives participated in the workshop] have a destructive influence on Egyptian society, and [their activity] must be stopped and [their representatives] must be brought to trial… This is an explicit call to abandon the main source from among the sources of religious law in Islam – the Sunna of the Prophet. This is a danger that some of [our] foreign enemies are interested [in promoting]." [12]

In response to Sheikh Tantawi's statements, the Ibn Khaldun Center issued a communiqué arguing that it was not seeking to abolish the Sunna of the Prophet, but calling to issue religious rulings based solely on the Koran when disputes arose. In answer to Sheikh Tantawi's statement that the workshop participants were "a group of separatists, one of whom was in the past charged with treason," the communiqué explained that Tantawi was obviously referring to a case against Dr. Sa'd Al-Din Ibrahim and the Ibn Khaldun Center employees, and clarified that Dr. Sa'd Al-Din Ibrahim had not been charged with treason but with other false charges and the Egyptian Supreme Court had found him and the center's employees innocent.

The communiqué asked: "Is the Al-Azhar Sheikh entitled to accuse some of the Muslim intellectuals of separating from Islam? Doesn't that mean accusing us of apostasy and endangering our lives? Weren't similar charges responsible for the assassination of Faraj Foda, and for the assassination attempt on the world-renowned author Nagib Mahfouz? We call on Al-Azhar not to descend to the path of takfir taken by the violent and extremist groups…" [13]

About a month after the workshop,Al-Azhar Sheikh Tantawi again attacked the Sunna deniers who see the Koran as the sole source for religious rulings, calling them "ignoramuses, liars, and hypocrites" and warning the public not to listen to their views, which were aimed at fomenting confusion. In statements delivered on November 5, 2004 at a conference organized by the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Tantawi said, "The attack on the Sunna is a means employed by the enemies of Islam for the [upcoming] attack on the Koran, because the Sunna is only a clarification of the laws appearing in the Koran… Thus, anyone who raises doubts about the prophetic Sunna as a source of legislation is acting according to a plan that is hostile to Islam… We have no life, future, or greatness among the societies except by clinging to the Koran and the Sunna. It is incumbent upon us all to stand in one rank and in one thought against anyone who attacks and denies the Sunna, because the laws [regarding matters] between man and Allah are not correct without the Sunna that explains in detail the rules and clarifies the things that are important." [14]

The Critical Approach to the Koran Is Also Considered Apotasy

Islamic circles refer to the critical or scientific approach to the Koran as apostasy as well. For example, a weekly talk show on the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV channel dealt with removing certain Koranic verses from the school curricula in Arab and Muslim countries. Al-Azhar University lecturer Ibrahim Al-Khuli accused a program guest, the progressive author and journalist Shaker Al-Nabulsi, of denying Allah, and said that he should be expelled from the fold of the Muslim community.

Speaking by phone from the U.S., Dr. Nabulsi stated: "There should be a distinction between the Koranic chapters concerning belief, most of which were revealed in Mecca during the first 10 years [of the Prophet Muhammad's activity] and the chapters dealing with legislation or the life of the Prophet and his relations with his wives and his Companions and so on. That is, there are chapters that cut across history, and these are the verses revealed at Mecca … and there are circumstantial verses of legislation that were revealed at Al-Madina as a result of events that took place 1,400 years ago and which are no longer in existence. Frankly, there are many verses that we call political and military verses, that is, 'verses of the sword,' that are connected to circumstances that existed in the past but exist no longer. The verses revealed at Mecca, about the Jews, the Christians, and the People of the Book, for example … were usually verses of support for them, but the verses concerning the Jews and Christians at the stages of the revelation at Al-Madina were contrary to these verses. Why? Because the verses revealed at Al-Madina were the result of the changing political relations [of the People of the Book and] the Muslims…

"Politics are fluid, not static; therefore, the laws built on a political foundation are also subject to movement, and are not static. On the contrary, most of the verses revealed at Al-Madina regarding this matter [the People of the Book] contradict each other…

"What is happening now in the Arab world [the debate over removing Koranic verses from the school curricula] is not the removal of the permanent verses of belief that cross history, but an attempt not to emphasize or teach the circumstantial verses that incite to accusing the other of apostasy and to hatred of the other. Why was [the Second Caliph] Omar ibn Khattab, 1,400 years ago, more courageous than us when he eliminated [even] the verses connected to the heart of the faith, not [only] circumstantial verses… Why was Omar ibn Khattab capable of doing this 1,400 years ago, while today [Ibrahim] Al-Khuli calls anyone who eliminates any verse or chapter of the Koran an apostate…?"

Ibrahim Al-Khuli rejected Al-Nabulsi's statements out of hand, saying "He doesn't understand [Caliph] Omar, and he spoke nonsense that is unworthy of a response. Neither Omar nor any of the Sahaba ever dared to eliminate even a single letter of the Koran. What changed was the circumstances of the implementation [of the words of the Koran]…"

According to Al-Khuli, "Al-Nabulsi and Nasr [Hamid] Abu Zayd and their gangs speak of the historic aspect of Koranic scripture… Nasr Abu Zayd went so far as to say that the Koran is a human text that developed and crystallized, and is a cultural product. This is a lie, [and therefore] the Egyptian court's sentence regarding him was the sentence of ridda – and had he not left Egypt he would have been executed… Al-Nabulsi is not worth holding a discussion with, or of me mentioning him. He lied when he said that there are Koranic verses that contradict one another. When you say that in the Koran there are verses contradicting one another, you commit apostasy, and you leave the fold of the [Muslim] community through its widest gate. I take responsibility for these words." [15]

* Aluma Dankowitz is Director of MEMRI's Reform Project.

[1] IRNA (Iran), February 12, 2005.

[2] See article by liberal Tunisian intellectual Lafif Lakhdar,, July 1, 2003.

[3] Al-Ahram Al-Arabi (Egypt), July 3, 2004.

[4] Roz Al-Yusouf (Egypt), September 17, 2004.

[5] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 19, 2004.

[6] Al-Hayat, London, September 9, 2004.

[7] Khawarij, the first religious opposition in Islam, was formed when a group of Muslims left the camp of the Fourth Caliph 'Ali bin Abu Taleb at the Battle of Sifin in 657.

[8] Mu'tazila, a theoretical rationalistic stream of the 9th and 10th centuries, sought to set out the principles of religious faith in logical and rational formulae.


[10] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), October 25, 2004, as cited in Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 26, 2004.

[11] Ijtihad, or using individual judgment, was suspended in the 10th century by a consensus of ulema (Islamic clerics), and its resumption has not been permitted since. For the full text of the recommendations, see

[12] Al-Rai Al-'Aam (Kuwait), October 8, 2004.


[14] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, November 7, 2004.

[15] Al-Jazeera TV, Qatar, October 5, 2004.
9813  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 05:05:09 PM

Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 208
February 18, 2005   No. 208

Accusing Muslim Intellectuals of Apostasy
By: Aluma Dankowitz. *

Marking the 16th anniversary of the Fatwa calling for author Salman Rushdie's death issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards announced: "The day will finally come when the apostate Salman Rushdie will receive his due punishment for his disgraceful and slanderous move against the Qur'an and the Prophet [Muhammad]." Iran's Leader Ali Khamenei stressed that the death sentence following the publication of Rushdie's ' The Satanic Verses ' "is irrevocable." [1]

The accusation against Muslims - particularly intellectuals, artists, and writers - of "unbelief" (an accusation known as " takfir " ) recurs in the Muslim world. The traditional punishment for an apostate ( murtadd ) set in early Islam was capital punishment. This punishment was implemented on a large scale in the period following the death of the Prophet Muhammad, when Muhammad's successor Abu Bakr fought the ridda wars against the tribes that abandoned Islam. In modern Muslim history too, there are several cases of charges of apostasy against intellectuals who deviated from the dictates of Islamist circles.

Section 228 of Iran's Islamic Penal Code states that a "criminal" should be exonerated "if it is proven to the court that the blood of the victim was permitted." An example of the implementation of this law is the cash prize of over $2 million set for the murder of Salman Rushdie, who was accused of apostasy. Other prominent examples include the 1985 execution of Sudanese Sufi philosopherMuhammad Mahmoud Taha on charges of ridda and the 1992 assassination by Islamists, following similar accusations, of secular Egyptian intellectual Faraj Foda.When Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazaliwas asked for his view on this assassination, he simply said that "the sentence for ridda that the [country's] ruler refrained from carrying out has now been implemented." In 1994, Islamists made an attempt on the life of Egyptian Nobel Prize laureate Nagib Mahfouz. [2]

In other cases, conservative Muslim activists exploited the Hisbah law enabling anyone to file suit in a court of law against anyone else in the name of society. Thus, the charge of ridda was filed against several intellectuals; if found guilty, the court could force them to divorce their spouses [ tafriq ], because if one party to an Islamic marriage became an apostate, the marriage was nullified. Thus, in 1995 an Egyptian court forced Dr. Nasser Hamed Abu Zayd, an intellectual who had published critical research on the Koran, to separate from his wife. In 2001, a similar suit was filed against feminist Egyptian author Nawal Al-Sa'dawi;however, the prosecutor-general, who, according to a 1996 amendment, was the only one who could decide whether such a suit was warranted, rejected the claims against her.

Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi Advocates Implementing the Ridda Death Penalty

In an interview with the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, one of the most prominent clerics in Sunni Islam and among Islamist circles and a spiritual leader for the Muslim Brotherhood movement, discussed the view of modern religious law on carrying out the punishment for ridda, and permitted the murder of free Muslim intellectuals whose views differ from those of Islamist clerics.

Asked, "In Muslim society, has an individual the right to change his religion as he wishes?" Al-Qaradhawi drew a distinction between two types of ridda: "One of the freedoms that Islam does not accept is the freedom of ridda that expands [from the realm of the individual to that of the group] and threatens the social fabric and its foundations. [On the one hand,] there is limited ridda, and [on the other,] there is ridda that expands [from the individual to the group].

"Limited ridda is the ridda of the individual who switches religion and is not interested in others. According to Islam, the punishment for this individual is [Hell] in the world to come…

"But [the other] ridda,which expands [from the individual to the group], is a ridda in which the individual who abandons Islam calls [upon others] to do likewise, [thus creating] a group whose path is not the path of society and whose goal is not the goal of the [Muslim] nation, and whose allegiance is not to the Islamic nation. Such [individuals] endanger the social fabric, and they are like the murtaddoon [apostates],who were fought by [the first Caliph] Abu Bakr together with the Companions of the Prophet [the Sahaba]. Those murtaddoon falsely claimed that they were prophets with the same inspiration as was given to the Prophet Muhammad…"

Asked what the view of the modern Muslim sage should be about the danger of ridda, Al-Qaradhawi replied: "The gravest danger facing the Muslim is the one that threatens his spiritual existence – i.e., that threatens his belief. Therefore, apostasy, or unbelief after having been Muslim, is the gravest danger to society…

"In our generation, Muslim society has been subject to violent invasions and severe attacks aimed at uprooting it, and these were manifested by the invasion of Christian missionaries that began with Western colonialism and is continuing in the Islamic world and among the Islamic communities and minorities [outside the Muslim world] … [and by] the Communist invasion that destroyed entire Muslim countries in Asia and Europe and made every effort to eliminate Islam and remove it ultimately from people's lives … and by the third and worst invasion, the secular invasion that is continuing to this day in the heart of the Islamic world, sometimes openly and sometimes covertly, and which persecutes the true Islam…

"For Muslim society to preserve its existence, it must struggle against ridda from every source and in all forms, and it must not let it spread like wildfire in a field of thorns. This is what Abu Bakr and the companions did when they fought the people of ridda who followed the false prophets… There is no escape from struggling against and restricting the individual ridda so that it will not worsen and its sparks scatter, becoming group ridda… Thus, the Muslim sages agreed that the punishment for the murtadd [who commits ridda ] … is execution…" [3]

In his book ' Islam and Secularism,' Al-Qaradhawi explains: "The Muslim sages agreed unanimously that anyone who denies something that is known in the religion … is an apostate who abandons his religion. The Imam must demand of him to repent, and recant his deviation from the righteous path, or the laws regarding the murtadd will apply to him."

The progressive Egyptian intellectual Sayyed Al-Qimni, who cited the above quote in an article in the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yousef, explained what it meant: "According to Al-Qaradhawi, [the ridda ] punishment does not apply only to someone who decides freely to leave Islam for what satisfies his heart and his conscience – whether this be another religion or nothing at all. It applies in principle [also] to the Muslim who clings to the laws of his religion … but disagrees with those who have appointed themselves the priests of Islam and who call themselves religious sages … especially when the disputes concern the understanding of a particular matter in Islam … because [the priests of the religion] have determined that their understanding of the holy scriptures is the only [permitted] understanding and the absolute truth, and anything else is absolute falsehood… Any attempt at new thinking in reading the scriptures is thrust away [on the pretext] of [accusations of] abandoning the religion … and the punishment for new thought or expressing a different opinion is death." [4]

The issues of ridda, takfir, and tafriq are a constant concern in the Muslim world. The following are several recent cases.
Recent Egyptian Lawsuit: Forcing a Divorce upon an Intellectual

The latest affair to take Egypt by storm concerns statements by Egyptian author and TV writer Usama Anwar Ukasha, who slandered one of the Prophet's Companions, 'Amr ibn Al-'Aas, who commanded the forces that brought Islam to Egypt. Ukasha called him "the most contemptible figure in Islam" for causing divisiveness and internal conflict in Islam. Attorney Nabih Al-Wahsh, who in the past filed a suit against Egyptian author Nawal Al-Sa'dawi, filed a similar suit to separate Ukasha from his wife, claiming that by attacking ibn Al-'Aas, Ukasha had become a murtadd who had left the fold of Islam.

Egypt's shapers of public opinion are divided on the affair. For example, Dr. Abd Al-Sabour Shahin, lecturer on Islamic law at the University of Cairo, stated that Amr ibn Al-'Aas has an important place in Islam and therefore "we will not permit any secularist to deride him." He expressed support for legal measures against Ukasha in order to put an end to the harming of the Prophet's Companions and as a deterring measure against the distortion of the image of Islam heroes.

In contrast, Islamic intellectual Gamal Al-Bana,the brother of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood movement Hassan Al-Bana, firmly rejected all demands to ostracize any individual or to make charges of apostasy, arguing that criticizing the Companions of the Prophet was legitimate. He said: "The lawsuits we are seeing today to ostracize and prevent [different] ideas recall previous eras. We must understand that Islam has given man freedom of thought. Islam's history proves that no one is immune to error except the Prophet. The Companions of the Prophet made errors, and therefore it is not right for them to be exempt from criticism. This doesn't give us the right to curse any of the Companions of the Prophet or anyone else, or harm their belief, but it does permit us to describe their deeds in political terms. It is known that 'Amr ibn Al-'Aas has a controversial political history; therefore, there is nothing to prevent us from opposing him from the historical point of view." [5]

9814  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 04:58:37 PM

Afghan Clerics Call for Abdul Rahman's Death

In my previous blog entry about Abdul Rahman, the 41-year-old Afghan man who may face the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity, I noted that while a number of Islamic states outlaw apostasy, "the greater threat comes from vigilantes." I made a similar observation in a February 2004 article that I wrote for Commentary:

The greatest threat to apostates in the Muslim world derives not from the state, however, but from private individuals who take punishment into their own hands. In Bangladesh, for example, a native-born Muslim-turned-Christian evangelist was stabbed to death in the spring of 2003 while returning home from a film version of the Gospel of Luke. As another Bangladeshi apostate told the U.S. Newswire, "If a Muslim converts to Christianity, now he cannot live in this country. It is not safe. The fundamentalism is increasing more and more."

The Abdul Rahman situation bears this out. Even if the state doesn't put Abdul Rahman to death, Afghan clerics have announced that they will incite others to kill him. The Associated Press reports today (with emphases added):

"Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die," said cleric Abdul Raoulf, who is considered a moderate and was jailed three times for opposing the Taliban before the hard-line regime was ousted in 2001. . . . Diplomats have said the Afghan government is searching for a way to drop the case. On Wednesday, authorities said Rahman is suspected of being mentally ill and would undergo psychological examinations to see whether he is fit to stand trial. But three Sunni preachers and a Shiite one interviewed by The Associated Press in four of Kabul's most popular mosques said they do not believe Rahman is insane. "He is not crazy. He went in front of the media and confessed to being a Christian," said Hamidullah, chief cleric at Haji Yacob Mosque. "The government is scared of the international community. But the people will kill him if he is freed." Raoulf, who is a member of the country's main Islamic organization, the Afghan Ulama Council, concurred. "The government is playing games. The people will not be fooled."

"Cut off his head!" he exclaimed, sitting in a courtyard outside Herati Mosque. "We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there's nothing left." He said the only way for Rahman to survive would be for him to go into exile. But Said Mirhossain Nasri, the top cleric at Hossainia Mosque, one of the largest Shiite places of worship in Kabul, said Rahman must not be allowed to leave the country. "If he is allowed to live in the West, then others will claim to be Christian so they can, too," he said. "We must set an example. . . . He must be hanged."

These clerics add their voices to a growing chorus of Aghan citizens calling for Abdul Rahman's death, including his own father: "He is my son. But if a son does not care about the dignity of his family, the dignity of his father, God can take him away. You cannot make anything out of such a son. He is useless."

This case makes clear that the threat to converts out of Islam does not just come from the state, but from private citizens as well. And it makes clear that the belief that apostates deserve death is not an aberration, but is more widespread that many would like to acknowledge. The resolution of this case may well be a barometer of Afghanistan's future, and the future of democracy in the Middle East.

Posted by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross at 09:47 AM
9815  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 04:10:16 PM
It's nothing I want or support, but again, if we want to live in the "post-modern, post-moral" age the left advocates, then why any limits on anything? Just call it a lifestyle choice and be done with it.

BTW, incest laws say nothing about reproduction. It's just as illegal for an elderly brother/sister to marry as those capable of bearing children.

Never meant to imply that is was what you wanted or supported. 
And while you seem strongly against the "post-modern, post-moral" (me, I can't make up my mind, but you do have some points) so is Sharia Law very much against many of
these so called modern lifestyle choices isn't it?  Interesting dichotomy.

**The key division here is the role of government in matters of personal morality. I personally find male homosexual acts repulsive. However, I have no interest in seeing any governmental force being used against those that engage in such activities. Consenting adults, in the privacy of their own homes can do as they wish. If god has an issue with that, it's between them and god. People have a right to their views on the topic, including the condemnation of such activities, but do not have the right to interfere with those that choose to engage, again as long as it's between consenting adults in their own homes.**

And yes, I know incest laws say nothing about reproduction, but ... it happens...

**Sure, lots of deviant, sick things happen. There are adult women that have consenting sexual relationships with their fathers, having been sexually assaulted as children and taught that it's normative behavior. Stomach turning, but sadly, very true.**
9816  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 03:54:28 PM
States do differ, but very few 14 year olds do get married in 2008. Why? Because our society recognizes that a 14 year old male or female isn't capable of giving an informed consent due to maturational/developmental issues. Again, thankfully we don't use either the bible or the koran or the life of Mohammed as the standard on which we develop our laws. What might have been acceptable in 1908 isn't necessarily so in 2008. Whereas in an islamic society, what Mohammed did in 628 is just as valid in 2008, or 2128.
9817  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 03:34:15 PM
It's nothing I want or support, but again, if we want to live in the "post-modern, post-moral" age the left advocates, then why any limits on anything? Just call it a lifestyle choice and be done with it.

BTW, incest laws say nothing about reproduction. It's just as illegal for an elderly brother/sister to marry as those capable of bearing children.
9818  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: October 03, 2008, 03:22:46 PM

Oct 3, 10:52
The CIA and The Looming Threats for the Next President

CIA director Mike Hayden gave an an interesting interview to Fox News identifying the the greatest security challenges to the next administration.

One of the identified threats (after the increasingly unstable but nuclear-armed North Korea) is what Hayden dubbed the “Axis of Oil,” that dangerous mix of petro-fueled dollars giving Russia, Iran and Venezuela the economic means to become increasingly reckless militarily.

This is correct, and, I believe, a healthy recognition that there are serious threats outside the Iraq and radical Sunni Islamist threat. The alliance of a radical Shiite Islamist state, a radical populist government and a nation correctly described as one that is reversing democratic gains and ruled by officially sanctioned organized crime, indeed poses a threat.

What gives that Axis its power is the money we pay for foreign oil. What binds them together is this money and their avowed and public desire to go after not just the United States, but Western democracies in other places.

None of them would be able to retain their oppressive state structures and fuel instability abroad (particularly aimed at Latin America) if they didn’t have the billions of petro-dollars to do it.

Unfortunately, a full transcript of Hayden’s remarks has not been posted, so all we have is a snippet of Hayden noting that oil prices, which are still hovering around $100 per barrel, have emboldened these oil-rich nations. “Oil, at its current price … gives the Russian state a degree of influence and power that it would have not otherwise had,” he said.

He noted that Russia’s invasion of Georgian territory in August and Iran’s continued work on acquiring nuclear weapons only compound the threat.

While this threat matrix seems obvious looking at it from the Latin American context, it is not a widely voice priority in the intelligence community. I have been to numerous events recently, hosted by an array of U.S. government agencies and departments, and have been baffled by the failure to look at the very matrix Hayden names.

Two of the countries, Iran and Venezuela, openly support terrorist groups that have a long history of striking at Americans. Russia has a long history (and now a rapidly-quickening pace) of arming both nations. Russia has nuclear weapons, Iran is working hard to get them, and Venezuela has the type of leader who would like to use one.

So it is heartening to see someone finally, if only briefly, acknowledging this threat exists and needs to be a priority for whomever wins in November.

9819  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 03:16:15 PM
It appears that when Biden was sounding authoritative in the debate, he was just making things up.
9820  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 03:14:08 PM
Howabout "age of consent" laws and marriage of children? Under sharia, in it's various interpretations globally, it's just fine for an adult male to marry a young girl, citing Mohammed's marrying Aisha when she was six. Why should we forbid what allah has allowed?
9821  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 03:04:33 PM
Why is incest different? It's illegal as a reflection of our society's values (The few we haven't yet done away with in our post-modern, post-moral age). Not all cultures forbid it, some actually prefer it. In the arab world, the wedding of first cousins is seen as optimal.
9822  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 02:02:04 PM
**Watch, Senator Hairplugs will get a pass from the MSM on this one. If Sarah said something this stupid, this would be the headline screamed from the mountaintops.**

Mother of all gaffes”

Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House has followed the wars in Lebanon more closely than most bloggers, and Joe Biden’s assertion that the US and France “kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon” has him gasping for breath.  Calling it “completely insane”, Rick deconstructs the rest of the answer on this question to seriously challenge whatever credentials Biden claims on foreign policy.  First, here’s Biden’s answer in its entirety, emphases mine:

BIDEN: Gwen, no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would have never, ever joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion.  But you asked a question about whether or not this administration’s policy had made sense or something to that effect. It has been an abject failure, this administration’s policy.  In fairness to Secretary Rice, she’s trying to turn it around now in the seventh or eighth year.

Here’s what the president said when we said no. He insisted on elections on the West Bank, when I said, and others said, and Barack Obama said, “Big mistake. Hamas will win. You’ll legitimize them.” What happened? Hamas won.  When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, “Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.”

Now what’s happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.  The fact of the matter is, the policy of this administration has been an abject failure.  And speaking of freedom being on the march, the only thing on the march is Iran. It’s closer to a bomb. Its proxies now have a major stake in Lebanon, as well as in the Gaza Strip with Hamas.

We will change this policy with thoughtful, real, live diplomacy that understands that you must back Israel in letting them negotiate, support their negotiation, and stand with them, not insist on policies like this administration has.

Rick couldn’t believe his ears:

Of course, no one “threw Hezb’allah out of Lebanon.” They have been there all along as the expert above notes. The Lebanese people threw the Syrians out of Lebanon, with no help from liberal Democrats like Biden and Obama, but with a great big behind the scenes lift from France and the US. It was we who put the bug in King Abdullah’s ear to lobby the Syrians to get while the going was good as the French worked directly on Baby Assad. The combination worked wonderfully and the Syrians left in a hurry – after a couple of million Lebanese took to the streets in a breathtaking show of defiance to tyranny and love of freedom.

Joe Biden – or any rational human being on this planet anyway – never recommended that NATO be dispatched to “fill the vacuum.” It is a lie. If it had been proposed. Colin Powell would have been laughed out of the room – something we should do to Biden at this point because he compounded his gaffe by evidently believing that not having NATO as a buffer between Israel and Hezb’allah – an absolute impossibility mind you – led to the ascension of Hezb’allah in Lebanon as a political power.

Where has Biden been for the last 20 years – at least since the Taif Accords were signed in 1989 which gave Hezb’allah a free hand in the southern part of the country and then pressuring the Lebanese government to formally designate them as “the resistance” to Israel? Hezb’allah’s rise is directly related to Iran’s funding of their proxy to the tune of around $250 million a year.

Like Rick, I cannot recall anyone seriously suggesting that NATO occupy the sub-Litani region of Lebanon.  NATO already found itself stretched to meet its commitments in Afghanistan, although Germany and Italy did find troops to contribute to the beefed-up presence in UNIFIL, the same multinational force that had sat idle while Hezbollah armed itself after the Israeli withdrawal from the region a few years ago — and then turned around and did the same thing after the Israeli withdrawal in 2006.

Some people assumed that Biden meant that the US and France kicked Syria out of Lebanon, but Michael Totten — who has spent considerable time in Lebanon — doesn’t buy that explanation, either:

And did Biden and Senator Barack Obama really say NATO troops should be sent into Lebanon? When did they say that? Why would they say that? They certainly didn’t say it because NATO needed to prevent Hezbollah from returning–since Hezbollah never went anywhere.

I tried to chalk this one up as just the latest of Biden’s colorful gaffes. Did he mean to say “we kicked Syria out of Lebanon?” But that wouldn’t make any more sense. First of all, the Lebanese kicked Syria out of Lebanon. Not the United States, and not France. But he clearly meant to say Hezbollah, not Syria, because he correctly notes just a few sentences later that Hezbollah is part of Lebanon’s government. He wasn’t talking about Syria. He was talking about Hezbollah all the way through, at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of his outlandish assertion.

And all of this points out the folly of presidential-level meetings with the leadership of Iran, without the precondition of them ending their support for the terrorist group Hezbollah.  Iran funds Hezbollah and their terrorist activities, which Biden rightly decries.  But if Biden doesn’t want Hezbollah to be a “legitimate part” of the Lebanese government for that reason, why would he legitimize their sponsors with presidential-level meetings without first insisting on the end of that support?

It’s a completely incoherent policy as well as a terrible misreading of history and the present status of the region. And if Biden can’t get this right, what does that say about his running mate, who chose Biden to fill the gaps in his own foreign-policy portfolio?
9823  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 12:48:33 PM
Afghan on trial for Christianity

An Afghan man is being tried in a court in the capital, Kabul, for converting from Islam to Christianity.
Abdul Rahman is charged with rejecting Islam and could face the death sentence under Sharia law unless he recants.

He converted 16 years ago as an aid worker helping refugees in Pakistan. His estranged family denounced him in a custody dispute over his two children.

It is thought to be Afghanistan's first such trial, reflecting tensions between conservative clerics and reformists.

Conservatives still dominate the Afghan judiciary four years after the Taleban were overthrown.

The BBC's Mike Donkin in Kabul says reformists, like the government under President Hamid Karzai, want a more liberal, secular legal system but under the present constitution it is hard for them to intervene.


Afghanistan's post-Taleban constitution is based on Sharia law, and prosecutors in the case says this means Abdul Rahman, whose trial began last Thursday, should be put to death.

We will ask him if he has changed his mind. If so we will forgive him
Trial judge Ansarullah Mawlazezadah
When he was arrested last month he was found to be carrying a bible and charged with rejecting Islam which is punishable by death in Afghanistan.

Trial judge Ansarullah Mawlazezadah told the BBC that Mr Rahman, 41, would be asked to reconsider his conversion, which he made while working for a Christian aid group in Pakistan.

"We will invite him again because the religion of Islam is one of tolerance. We will ask him if he has changed his mind. If so we will forgive him," the judge told the BBC on Monday.

But if he refused to reconvert, then his mental state would be considered first before he was dealt with under Sharia law, the judge added.

He said he expected the case to take about two months to be heard.


The Afghan Human Rights Commission has called for a better balance in the judiciary, with fewer judges advocating Sharia law and more judges with a wider legal background.

Several journalists have been prosecuted under blasphemy laws in post-Taleban Afghanistan.

The editor of a women's rights magazine was convicted of insulting Islam and sentenced to death last year - but was later released after an apology and heavy international pressure.

Mr Karzai's office says the president will not intervene in the case.

Observers say executing a converted Christian would be a significant precedent as a conservative interpretation of Sharia law in Afghanistan.

But it would also outrage Western nations which put Mr Karzai in power and are pouring billions of dollars into supporting the country.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/03/20 13:15:27 GMT

9824  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 12:29:02 PM

War On Terror Hits New Front -- The First Amendment
by Robert Spencer (more by this author)
Posted 10/02/2008 ET

British authorities arrested three Muslims in London on Saturday after fires broke out in the offices of the publishing house Gibson Square and at the home of the publisher, Martin Rynja. Gibson Square had been planning to publish The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones, a trashy novel sensationalizing the marriage of the Islamic prophet Muhammad to the child Aisha (Muhammad was in his fifties, and Aisha was nine, when the happy union was consummated).

Then on Monday the book’s American publisher, Beaufort Books, closed its offices, explaining that it had received no specific threats but was nevertheless taking a “precautionary action” -- and that it still planned to publish the book.

Meanwhile, over at Random House, they must be drawing a sigh of relief. That venerable house was originally planning to publish the novel but dropped it at the last minute after determining that it might offend Muslims -- even though its portrayal of Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha is favorable, never straying into territory that might violate the strict tenets of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ media guide. Nevertheless, it looks as if those who thought Muslims would find the book offensive were right -- at least as far as the three Muslims arrested in London are concerned.

But when he picked up the British rights to the book last month, Rynja said some things that Random House -- and the rest of us -- would do well to keep in mind. In “an open society,” he declared, “there has to be open access to literary works, regardless of fear. As an independent publishing company, we feel strongly that we should not be afraid of the consequences of debate.”

Now those consequences have come, however, and Rynja is wavering. According to Alan Jessop of Compass, Gibson Square’s sales representative, Rynja “is in good spirits, but has put publication in suspended animation while he reflects and takes advice on what the best foot forward is.”

I can tell you that right now, Mr. Rynja. The best foot forward is to stand up for the principles of free discussion and inquiry on which free society depends and not to show that violent intimidation works. Of course, neither Rynja nor the employees of Gibson Square probably ever thought that by publishing books they would be taking their lives in their hands, but these are perilous times for everyone. Some will no doubt say these fires could have been prevented; if Muslims have found the novel offensive, for whatever reason, it shouldn’t be published as a gesture of multicultural solidarity.

The fires themselves show that much more is at stake. Although The Jewel of Medina is a silly, stupid book, the prospect of its being deep-sixed by bullying Muslims and cowering infidels doesn’t bode well for the future of freedom in the West. The legal protections on free speech were developed precisely in order to protect speech that some groups may find offensive so as to prevent the creation of a privileged class that is beyond criticism. But that is just what the three men who firebombed Martin Rynja’s home and the Global Square offices were trying to create by frightening non-Muslims into conforming to Islamic sensibilities -- or else.

London author Kenan Malik recently observed, “In the 20 years between the publication of The Satanic Verses and the withdrawal of The Jewel of Medina, the fatwa [against Rushdie]…has become internalized. Not only do publishers drop books deemed offensive but theaters savage plays, opera houses cut productions, art galleries censor shows, all in the name of cultural sensitivity.” But if they continue down this road, how long will we continue to be able to speak openly about the jihad threat -- and indeed, how long will we continue to be able to dissent from the Islamic perspective on the world in general?

Beyond the issue of this novel, if the people in America, Britain, and elsewhere who are threatened by the global jihad and Islamic supremacism are not willing to stand up and fight for the ability to hold in conscience to views that differ from those that Muslims wish us to hold, then all is lost.

The jihadists are willing to go all the way -- to give up their very lives -- in their quest to control ours. For them, no price is too high.

What price is too high for us?

Mr. Spencer is director of Jihad Watch and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)", "The Truth About Muhammad" and the forthcoming"Stealth Jihad" (all from Regnery -- a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).
9825  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 03, 2008, 12:27:43 PM
It is true; time's are changing.  On my street in one house there is single gay man, in another house live two gay men together and in another, two lesbians live together; still, most of my neighbors are married traditional (man/wife) and a few are single either by choice or divorce.  Mind you, most of the single ones are successful single women making the big bucks.  And one poor single mom struggling a bit.  My father's generation is still a bit shocked.  However, everyone seems to get along just fine.  The laws are changing; gay people are getting married.  Yet only a few years ago in America, many of these actions were a crime and you could/would be sent to jail not to mention being ostracized.  Why not polygamy?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a proponent.  Me, I'm too old and tired  smiley  but if adults voluntarily agree, well, why not?  Why is it criminal?   

**Why not incest then? It's just another lifestyle choice, right?**

And while Islam is being criticized, look in the Bible; Abraham, David, Solomon, et all all had multiple wives.  It didn't seem to a problem for our Christian God or any of the participants except for the normal jealousies. 

**Western civilization developed monogamy, which worked quite well, back when it was taken seriously.**

And do I care if my neighbor is gay, lesbian, straight, or polygamist?  Or Christian, Jew, or Muslim?  No, I really don't if they are all good neighbors.

**The problem being, that gay or straight neighbors are probably not directly or indirectly supporting or funding terrorist groups. By practicing polygamy, this creates a long term demographic wave that eventually allows for islam to gain the dominance it craves. Watch what is happening in europe now.**
9826  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 02, 2008, 10:44:54 PM

Senator Hairplugs was very dishonest about this point.
9827  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Count Dante? on: October 02, 2008, 10:28:34 PM
Frank Dux is a real person, the stuff from "Bloodsport" and other things are not true, as I understand. Anyone know more?
9828  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 02, 2008, 10:27:05 PM

By Michelle Malkin  •  October 2, 2008 10:50 PM

First, I would like to see all the Sarah doubters and detractors in the Beltway/Manhattan corridor eat their words.
Eat them.
Sarah Palin is the real deal. Five weeks on the campaign trail, thrust onto the national stage, she rocked tonight’s debate.
She was warm, fresh, funny, confident, energetic, personable, relentless, and on message. She roasted Obama’s flip-flops on the surge and tea-with-dictators declarations, dinged Biden’s bash-Bush rhetoric, challenged the blame-America defeatism of the Left, and exuded the sunny optimism that energized the base in the first place.
McCain has not done many things right. But Sarah Palin proved tonight that the VP risk he took was worth it.
Her performance also underscored the underhandedness of the hatchet job editors at ABC News and CBS News, which failed to capture her solid competence on the whole array of foreign and domestic policy issues on the debate table tonight. (I didn’t care for all the “greed” rhetoric, but I understand they are trying to appeal to independents and Dems. They’re trying to win the election.)
Pause to reflect on this: She matched — and trumped several times — a man who has spent his entire adult life on the political stage, run for president twice, and as he mentioned several times, chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sarah Palin looked presidential.
Joe Biden looked tired.
Sarah made history.
Biden is history.
Prediction: Watch for a whole new, severe strain of Palin Derangement Syndrome to begin tonight.
They hated her before tonight. They are going to pour on more unfathomable hate at a level we have never seen before.
Sarah, we’re praying for you.
Frank Luntz’s focus group agrees: Sarah rocks.
Reader Brett had a sharp observation: “Palin amazingly avoided falling into a trap when Gwen Ifill asked whether she agreed with Biden on a particulalr issue — instead Palin repeated the question and stated her answer — rather than say “I agree” — like Obama said so many times at an earlier debate.”
Yes, that was excellent.
Previous: Liveblogging the debate.
As for Gwen “Age of Obama” Ifill, she behaved herself for the most part. She was duly chastened. But the questions and the controversy and the double standards don’t go away. As I wrote in my column this week:
It’s not the color of your skin, sweetie. It’s the color of your politics. Perhaps Ifill will be able to conceal it this week. But if the “stunning” “Breakthrough” she’s rooting for comes to pass on January 20, 2009, nobody will be fooled.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
9829  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 02, 2008, 09:52:11 PM
Post turtle, my arse.
9830  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Count Dante? on: October 02, 2008, 09:20:28 PM
Wasn't Dux shown to be an outright fraud ?
9831  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 02, 2008, 05:34:01 PM
I know of one incident where a handcuffed arrestee used a razor to severely injure a transporting officer, using the above technique.
9832  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 02, 2008, 04:24:32 PM
Question: Would Gwen Ifill wearing an "Obama 2008" be more or less ethical than her refusal to recuse herself after not disclosing her book?
9833  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 02, 2008, 04:20:38 PM

Ifill Ethics Commission Clears Ifill

By Gwen Ifill
PBS Chief Political Correspondent
and Gwen Ifill
President, Ifill Center for Media Ethics
and Gwen Ifill
Editor, BarackBeat Fanzine

WASHINGTON - As expected, a blue ribbon panel from the Ifill Center for Media Ethics cleared award-winning political journalist Gwen Ifill of all charges today, ending a lengthy 20 minute investigation into "ethics" charges that most observers believe were motivated by politics and racism. Ifill, like dynamic groundbreaking President-in-Waiting Barack Obama, is Black. The complete exoneration clears the way for Ifill to moderate the Vice Presidential debate tonight between respected Senate veteran Joe Biden and former beauty pageant loser Sarah Palin.

"I would like to thank Ms.Ifill for her complete cooperation into this unnecessary politically-motivated witch hunt," said Commission Chairperson Gwen Ifill. "On behalf of the entire panel, I would like to offer my sincere apologies for dragging her in and wasting her valuable time on the basis of such obviously flimsy and bogus allegations."

Displaying her famous grace, Ifill said she harbored no ill will toward the inquiry.

"I'm satisfied by the result," said the objective, down-the-middle reporter whose work has earned her numerous awards for broadcast excellence as well as several honorary doctorates in Journalism Ethics. "Now if you'll excuse me, I've got debate questions to prepare."

The Ifill Ifill commission was convened late yesterday in the wake of a whispering campaign by racist internet operatives for cancer-ravaged reactionary Senator John McCain. The scurrilous charges included objections to Ifill serving as debate moderator because of her coming best-seller, President Obama: The Audacious Winning Campaign of the African-American Adonis Who Healed the Planet and Stopped the Oceans' Rise, available November 6 from Harper Collins. Save 20% of the $29.95 list price by preordering with your Amazon or Barnes and Noble card.

Some of the whispering campaign focused on the "issue" that Ifill forgot to mention the book to the debate commission, even though the respected media professional has had much on her mind lately, including the massive economic meltdown spurred by years of failed trickle-up Republican economic policies.

Some anonymous partisan critics also faulted Ifill for her work as Editor of BarackBeat Magazine Giant Poster Pullout Special, with over 100 commemorative Obama stickers and free mini-CD of the Jonas Brothers hit "Hope Is In The House," available on newstands now -- for the low cover price of $5.95!

Those criticisms were quickly dismissed by the blue ribbon ethics panel consisting of Ifill, MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, MSNBC "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann, and veteran Washington press correspondent Gwen Ifill. In its official report, the commission ruled that Ifill's book deal was consistent with prevailing journalism ethics standards, noting that 86% of national broadcast media personalities had similar pending Barack Obama book deals.

Ifill did not escape some criticism from the panel however, as she was warned several times by ranking member Olbermann that "your position of moderator is no excuse not to violently attack Palin."

"As journalism professionals, we are counting on you to do the right thing," said Olbermann, presenting her with the Center's "Dan 'Mr. October' Rather Journalist of the Year" commemorative baseball bat.

"You can depend on me," said Ifill, calmly pounding spikes into the engraved Louisville Slugger. "I promise to conduct myself in the highest traditions of Gwen Ifill."
9834  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 02, 2008, 04:11:56 PM

Let Biden be Biden.
9835  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 02, 2008, 02:16:00 PM
One common street weapon is the razor blade concealed in the mouth. This is more of an east coast gang thing for now. The practitioners of this are extremely skilled at manipulating the blade in their mouth without injuring themselves. A common method of attack is to grapple with the opponent, then hold the razor with their teeth and slash at whatever soft tissue is within reach.
9836  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Count Dante? on: October 02, 2008, 02:01:26 PM
Crafty can adopt "Count Dog-te" as his new nom de guerre.  grin
9837  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: October 02, 2008, 10:26:24 AM

Ohio, ground zero of ACORN voter fraud.
9838  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 02, 2008, 10:16:20 AM

October 02, 2008, 6:30 a.m.

Sarah Biden
Vice-Presidential meltdown.

By Victor Davis Hanson

Journalists continue to ask, “What was John McCain thinking in selecting the gaffe-prone Gov. Sarah Palin?”

In what has now become a disturbing pattern, the Alaska governor seems either unable or unwilling to avoid embarrassing statements that are often as untrue as they are outrageous. Recently, for example, in an exclusive interview with news anchor Katie Couric, Palin gushed, “When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the, you know, princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.’ ” Apparently the former Alaskan beauty queen failed to realize that in 1929 there was neither widespread television nor was Franklin Roosevelt even President.

Sometimes the Idaho-native Palin seems to confuse and embarrass her own running mate. Shortly after her nomination, she introduced a “John McAmerica;” then she referred to the Republican ticket as the “Palin-McCain administration;” and finished by calling Sen. Obama, “Senator George Obama.” The Palin gaffes seem to be endless: on her way to Washington to meet the national press corps, Palin, the mother of five, once again stumbled — this time characterizing Senator Biden as “Congressman Joe Biden,” who, she chuckled, was “good looking.”

But then Palin only compounded that growing image of shallowness when introducing her own snow-mobiling husband Todd, “as drop-dead gorgeous!” And when asked about the controversial McCain ad suggesting that Barack Obama had introduced explicit sex education classes to pre-teenagers, the Christian fundamentalist Palin scoffed that it was “terrible” and that she would have never had allowed such an unfair clip to run — before retracting that apology under pressure from the now exasperated McCain campaign staff. But then, according to press reports, wild Sarah only made things worse still by announcing that paying higher taxes was the “patriotic” thing for Americans to do.

This week, the gun-owning, moose-hunting Palin also promised blue-collar Virginians that she would protect their firearm rights — even, if need be, from her own running-mate: “I guarantee you, John McCain ain’t taking my shotguns, so don’t buy that malarkey. Don’t buy that malarkey. They’re going to start peddling that to you. I got two. If he tries to fool with my Beretta, he’s got a problem. I like that little over and under, you know? I’m not bad with it. So give me a break. Give me a break.”

Palin may have had some experience in Alaskan politics, but at times the former small-town mayor seems unaware of the pressures of running a national campaign in a diverse society. For example, Palin — who has had past associations with reactionary groups — caused a storm earlier when she characterized Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama in seemingly racialist terms: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Such stereotyping suggested that the Alaskan was not aware of the multiracial nature of American politics — an impression confirmed when in her earlier gubernatorial run, she had once suggested that to enter a donut shop was synonymous with meeting an Indian immigrant.

The recently-elected Governor Palin was further rattled by media scrutiny, when, in a moment of embarrassing candor, she confessed, “Mitt Romney is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president of the United States of America. Quite frankly he might have been a better pick than me.” That confession followed an earlier deer-in-the-headlights moment, when the nearly hysterical Palin urged a wheel-chair bound state legislator to rise: “Sally, stand up, let the people see you!”

The Palin gaffes are no surprise to those who have followed closely her previous races. They cite her aborted governor campaign, when she was forced to pull out after fraudulently claiming that her working-class family had been Idaho coal miners — in an apparent case of plagiarism of British Prime Minister candidate Neal Kinnock’s stump speech. Palin once boasted: “I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Sarah Palin’s the first in his family ever to go to University . . . is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright . . . who worked in the coal mines of Northeast Idaho and would come up after 12 hours and play volleyball?” It did not help Palin that reporters quickly discovered that while as a student at the University at Idaho she had been caught plagiarizing and also misrepresented her undergraduate transcript.

Most recently on the campaign trail, Governor Palin apparently promised a vocal supporter that the United States would certainly not burn coal to produce electricity — even though roughly half of current U.S. power production is coal-fired. The same uncertainty seems to extend to foreign policy. Under cross-examination, Palin appeared confused about her own recent trips abroad, first claiming that her helicopter had “been forced down” in Afghanistan, although other passengers suggested the landing was a routine cautionary measure to avoid a possible snowstorm. Palin likewise had alleged that she was shot at while in Baghdad’s Green Zone, although there was no evidence from her security detail that she had, in fact, come under hostile fire.

The Obama campaign has lost no time in hammering at the former hockey-mom Palin’s foreign-policy judgment, alleging that shortly after September 11 she once suggested sending $200 billion to Iran as a “good will” gesture, and reminding journalists that in repeated interviews, Palin had called for dividing Iraq into three separate nations, despite Iraqi resistance to such outside interference. Palin, the nominal head of the Alaskan National Guard, has also falsely insisted that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen had once suggested that we were losing the war in Iraq and that the Bush administration had sent Undersecretary of State William Burns to Teheran to meet with Iranian officials.

In response to Palin’s unbridled misstatements, journalists have coined the term “Palinism” — the serial voicing of sweeping declarations that are either insulting, or untrue — or both. No wonder rumors mount that Sen. McCain is now seeking a possible graceful exit for the gaffe-prone Palin, even as the Obama campaign continues to make the contrast with their own sober and circumspect Joe Biden.

— This parody is by NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
National Review Online -
9839  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 01, 2008, 11:34:12 PM
**I can't help but think that we are seeing the start of dark times.**

October 02, 2008, 0:00 a.m.

America’s Nervous Breakdown
Should it continue, a world breakdown may follow.

By Victor Davis Hanson

Ancient thinkers from Thucydides to Cicero insisted that money was the real source of military power and national influence. We’ve been reminded of that classical wisdom these last three weeks.

In a manner not seen since the Great Depression, Wall Street went into panic mode from too many bad debts. The symbolic pillars of American monetary strength for years — AIG, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Shearson-Lehman, and Washington Mutual — in a matter of hours either went broke, were absorbed, or were reconstituted. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed like the house of cards that they were.

Even though the U.S. government rushed to restore trust, hundreds of billions of dollars in paper assets simply vanished. Friends and enemies abroad were unsure whether the irregular American heartbeat was a major coronary or a mere cardiac murmur. How strong — really — was the world’s greatest economy? Was this panic the tab for years of borrowing abroad for out-of-control consumer spending? Had America finally gone too far enriching dictators by buying energy that it either could not or would not produce itself? Had the chickens of lavishing rewards on Wall Street and Washington speculators rather than Main Street producers finally come home to roost?

Allies trust that the United States is the ultimate guarantor of free communication and commerce — and they want immediate reassurance that their old America will still be there. In contrast, opportunistic predators — such as rogue oil-rich regimes — suddenly sniff new openings.

We’ve seen the connection between American economic crisis and world upheaval before. In the 1930s, the United States and its democratic allies — in the midst of financial collapse — disarmed and largely withdrew from foreign affairs. That isolation allowed totalitarian regimes in Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia to swallow their smaller neighbors and replace the rule of law with that of the jungle. World War II followed.

During the stagflation and economic malaise of the Jimmy Carter years, the Russians invaded Afghanistan, the Iranians stormed our embassy in Tehran, the communists sought to spread influence in Central America, and a holocaust raged unchecked in Cambodia.

It was no surprise that an emboldened Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once again last week called for the elimination of Israel. He’s done that several times before. But rarely has he felt brazen enough to blame world financial problems on the Jews in general rather than on just Israelis. And he spouted his Hitlerian hatred in front of the United Nations General Assembly — in New York, just a few blocks away from the ground zero of the Wall Street meltdown.

Flush with petrodollar cash, a cocky Iran thinks our government will be so sidetracked borrowing money for Wall Street that disheartened taxpayers won’t care to stop Teheran from going nuclear.

At about the same time, a Russian flotilla was off Venezuela to announce new cooperation with the loud anti-American Hugo Chavez and his fellow Latin American communists. The move was a poke in the eye at the Monroe Doctrine — and a warning that from now on, the oil-rich Russians will boldly support dictatorships in our hemisphere as much as we encourage democratic Georgia and Ukraine in theirs. Chavez himself called for a revolution in the United States to replace our “capitalist” Constitution.

The lunatics running North Korea predictably smelled blood, as well. So it announced that it was reversing course and reprocessing fuel rods to restart its supposedly dismantled nuclear weapons program.

Meanwhile, some shell-shocked American bankers looked to our “friend” China, which holds billions in American government securities, for emergency loans. But the Chinese — basking in their successful hosting of the Olympics, their first foray into outer space, and a massive rearmament — showed no interest in sending cash to reeling Wall Street firms.

During this Wall Street arrhythmia, Islamic suicide bombers attacked the American embassy in Yemen and the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan. Suspected Islamic terrorists were caught boarding a Dutch airliner in Germany. And suicide bombers were busy again in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The natural order of the world is chaos, not calm. Like it or not, for over a half-century the United States alone restrained nuclear bullies, kept the sea lanes free from outlaws, and corralled rogue nations. America alone could provide that deterrence because we produced a fourth of the world’s goods and services, and became the richest country in the history of civilization.

But the bill for years of massive borrowing for oil, for imported consumer goods, and for speculation has now has finally come due on Wall Street — and for the rest of us as well.

Should that heart of American financial power in New York falter — or even appear to falter — then eventually the sinews of the American military will likewise slacken. And then things could get ugly — real fast.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal and the 2008 Bradley Prize.

National Review Online -
9840  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 01, 2008, 09:19:21 PM
I was on vacation the last week and didn't watch any interviews or monitor things online until I got home. With that handicap, I expect that this is more of an artifact of "gotcha" being played by our corrupt media rather than any lack of ability on Palin's behalf.
9841  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / O-ppression on: October 01, 2008, 03:49:16 PM

October 01, 2008, 7:00 a.m.

Obama’s Assault on the First Amendment
Stifling political debate with threats of prosecution is not the “rule of law” — it’s tyranny.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

In London last week, a frightful warning was sounded about encroaching tyranny. At an important conference, speaker after impassioned speaker warned of the peril to Western values posed by freedom-devouring sharia — the Islamic legal code. Like all tyrannies, sharia’s first target is speech: Suppress all examination of Muslim radicalism by threats of prosecution and libel actions, and smugly call it “the rule of law.”

But we may already be further gone than the London conferees feared. And without resort to the Islamicization that so startled them. For that, we can thank the campaign of Barack Obama.

I’ll be blunt: Sen. Obama and his supporters despise free expression, the bedrock of American self-determinism and hence American democracy. What’s more, like garden-variety despots, they see law not as a means of ensuring liberty but as a tool to intimidate and quell dissent.

We London conferees were fretting over speech codes, “hate speech” restrictions, “Islamophobia” provisions, and “libel tourism” — the use of less journalist-friendly defamation laws in foreign jurisdictions to eviscerate our First Amendment freedom to report, for example, on the nexus between ostensible Islamic charity and the funding of terrorist operations.

All the while, in St. Louis, local law-enforcement authorities, dominated by Democrat-party activists, were threatening libel prosecutions against Obama’s political opposition. County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, abetted by a local sheriff and encouraged by the Obama campaign, warned that members of the public who dared speak out against Obama during the campaign’s crucial final weeks would face criminal libel charges — if, in the judgment of these conflicted officials, such criticism of their champion was “false.”

The chill wind was bracing. The Taliban could not better rig matters. The Prophet of Change is only to be admired, not questioned. In the stretch run of an American election, there is to be no examination of a candidate for the world’s most powerful office — whether about his radical record, the fringe Leftism that lies beneath his thin, centrist veneer, his enabling of infanticide, his history of race-conscious politics, his proposals for unprecedented confiscation and distribution of private property (including a massive transfer of American wealth to third-world dictators through international bureaucrats), his ruinous economic policies that have helped leave Illinois a financial wreck, his place at the vortex of the credit market implosion that has put the U.S. economy on the brink of meltdown, his aggressive push for American withdrawal and defeat in Iraq, his easy gravitation to America-hating activists, be they preachers like Jeremiah Wright, terrorists like Bill Ayers, or Communists like Frank Marshall Davis. Comment on any of this and risk indictment or, at the very least, government harassment and exorbitant legal fees.

Nor was this an isolated incident.

Item: When the American Issues Project ran political ads calling attention to Obama’s extensive ties to Ayers, the Weatherman terrorist who brags about having bombed the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, the Obama campaign pressured the Justice Department to launch an absurd criminal prosecution.

Item: When commentator Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center was invited on a Chicago radio program to discuss his investigation of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an “education reform” project in which Obama and Ayers (just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood”) collaborated to dole out over $100 million, the Obama campaign issued an Internet action alert. Supporters, armed with the campaign’s non-responsive talking points, dutifully flooded the program with calls and emails, protesting Kurtz’s appearance and attempting to shout him down.

Item: Both Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, have indicated that an Obama administration would use its control of the Justice Department to prosecute its political opponents, including Bush administration officials responsible for the national security policies put in effect after nearly 3000 Americans were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Item: There is a troubling report that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Section, top officials of which are Obama contributors, has suggested criminal prosecutions against those they anticipate will engage in voter “intimidation” or “oppression” in an election involving a black candidate. (Memo to my former DOJ colleagues: In a system that presumes innocence even after crimes have undeniably been committed, responsible prosecutors don’t assume non-suspects will commit future law violations — especially when doing so necessarily undermines the First Amendment freedoms those prosecutors solemnly swear to uphold.)

Obama may very well win the November election but he, like Sen. McCain, should be forced to win it fair and square: by persuading Americans that he is the superior candidate after our free society has had its customary free and open debate.

One understandably feels little sympathy for McCain here. His years-long assault on the First Amendment under the guise of campaign-finance “reform” has led inexorably to the brazenness of Obama’s Chicago-style strong-arming. But the victim here is not McCain. The victim is democratic self-determination. The victim is our right to informed participation in a political community’s most important decisions. The victim is freedom.

The Justice Department’s job is to prosecute those actively undermining our freedom, not to intimidate citizens in the exercise of that freedom. Consequently, instead of threatening criminal investigations of phantom future civil-rights violations, it should be conducting criminal investigations into whether public officials in St. Louis are abusing their offices to affect a national election.

The federal Hatch Act (codified in Title 5 of the U.S. Code) prohibits executive officials (such as prosecutors and police) from using their offices to interfere with federal elections. The statute may be of limited utility in St. Louis since it principally targets federal officials. Still, state and local government may come within its ambit if their activities are funded in part by the national Leviathan — as many arms of municipal government are these days.

The same bright-line demarcation does not limit application of the federal extortion and fraud laws. The extortion provision (also known as the Hobbs Act and codified at Section 1951 of the federal penal code) makes it a felony for anyone, including public officials, to deprive people of their property by inducing fear of harm. Property interests have been held to include, for example, the right of union members to participate in a democratic process; the harm apprehended can be either physical or economic. Inducing voters to fear prosecution and imprisonment unless they refrain from exercising their fundamental right to engage democratic debate may well qualify.

An easier fit may be fraud, which under federal law (Section 1346 of the penal code) prohibits schemes to deprive citizens of their “intangible right of honest services” from their public officials. Prosecutors and police who abuse their enormous powers in order to promote the election of their preferred candidates violate their public trust.

Regardless of the legal landscape, however, it is the political consequences that matter. Day after day, Obama demonstrates that the “change” he represents is a severing of our body politic from the moorings that make us America. If we idly stand by while he and his thugs kill free political debate, we die too.

National Review Online -
9842  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Secret WMD, State and Non-State on: October 01, 2008, 01:50:11 PM
Probably a shipment of infant formula intended for the US market.  evil
9843  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 01, 2008, 01:25:36 PM

What crazy looks like. She'll probably get a cabinet position under the Obama administration.
9844  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 01, 2008, 08:29:22 AM
My state's DOC had to remove "Jolly Rancher" candy from the inmate commissaries because they had figured out how to soften them, mashing them together, to make "shanks" out of them. From what was related to me, it's possible to put a razor edge on one of these candy blades.

The majority of stabbings I've seen when working "inside" was with pens/pencils. I've seen "golf pencils" used by psych patients to engage in serious self mutilation, including one incident where a female patient shoved one into her arm, through roughly 3-4 inches of muscle so that only the base and tip of the pencil were visible in the wound.

One of my biggest worries working as a C.O. was unsecured padlocks. We had lazy staff that would fail to lock the padlock. All it takes is a metal padlock to be placed in a sock and you've got a nasty bludgeon.

Anything that can be given a sharp point or edge can be a stabbing/cutting weapon. Anything that has weight/mass and a way to deliver it with kinetic energy can be a bludgeon. Bodily fluids, cleaning chemicals, flammable chemicals can all be used as offensive weapons as well.

As responsible citizens, you probably won't be throwing a "correctional cocktail" in anyone's face, but it's something to keep in mind. The thugs know that the whole world is a weapons factory. Learn to see it that way too, and you'll never be unarmed.
9845  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 01, 2008, 12:32:40 AM
There is very little new under the sun in the way of weapons, excluding firearms and high tech. Anyone that has done time knows more about improvising weapons than anything we'll discuss here.
9846  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 30, 2008, 06:34:12 PM
Another prominent accommodationist is humanities professor Mark Lilla of Columbia University, author of an August 2007 essay in the New York Times Magazine so long and languorous, and written with such perfect academic dispassion, that many readers may have finished it without realizing that it charted a path leading straight to sharia. Muslims’ “full reconciliation with modern liberal democracy cannot be expected,” Lilla wrote. For the West, “coping is the order of the day, not defending high principle.”

Revealing in this light is Buruma’s and Garton Ash’s treatment of author Ayaan Hirsi Ali—perhaps the greatest living champion of Western freedom in the face of creeping jihad—and of the Europe-based Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan. Because Hirsi Ali refuses to compromise on liberty, Garton Ash has called her a “simplistic . . . Enlightenment fundamentalist”—thus implicitly equating her with the Muslim fundamentalists who have threatened to kill her—while Buruma, in several New York Times pieces, has portrayed her as a petulant naif. (Both men have lately backed off somewhat.) On the other hand, the professors have rhapsodized over Ramadan’s supposed brilliance. They aren’t alone: though he’s clearly not the Westernized, urbane intellectual he seems to be—he refuses to condemn the stoning of adulteresses and clearly looks forward to a Europe under sharia—this grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and protégé of Islamist scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi regularly wins praise in bien-pensant circles as representing the best hope for long-term concord between Western Muslims and non-Muslims.

This spring, Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, writing in the New York Times Magazine, actually gave two cheers for sharia. He contrasted it favorably with English common law, and described “the Islamists’ aspiration to renew old ideas of the rule of law” as “bold and noble.”

With the press, the entertainment industry, and prominent liberal thinkers all refusing to defend basic Western liberties, it’s not surprising that our political leaders have been pusillanimous, too. After a tiny Oslo newspaper, Magazinet, reprinted the Danish cartoons in early 2006, jihadists burned Norwegian flags and set fire to Norway’s embassy in Syria. Instead of standing up to the vandals, Norwegian leaders turned on Magazinet’s editor, Vebjørn Selbekk, partially blaming him for the embassy burning and pressing him to apologize. He finally gave way at a government-sponsored press conference, groveling before an assemblage of imams whose leader publicly forgave him and placed him under his protection. On that terrible day, Selbekk later acknowledged, “Norway went a long way toward allowing freedom of speech to become the Islamists’ hostage.” As if that capitulation weren’t disgrace enough, an official Norwegian delegation then traveled to Qatar and implored Qaradawi—a defender of suicide bombers and the murder of Jewish children—to accept Selbekk’s apology. “To meet Yusuf al-Qaradawi under the present circumstances,” Norwegian-Iraqi writer Walid al-Kubaisi protested, was “tantamount to granting extreme Islamists . . . a right of joint consultation regarding how Norway should be governed.”

The UN’s position on the question of speech versus “respect” for Islam was clear—and utterly at odds with its founding value of promoting human rights. “You don’t joke about other people’s religion,” Kofi Annan lectured soon after the Magazinet incident, echoing the sermons of innumerable imams, “and you must respect what is holy for other people.” In October 2006, at a UN panel discussion called “Cartooning for Peace,” Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor proposed drawing “a very thin blue UN line . . . between freedom and responsibility.” (Americans might be forgiven for wondering whether that line would strike through the First Amendment.) And in 2007, the UN’s Human Rights Council passed a Pakistani motion prohibiting defamation of religion.

Other Western government leaders have promoted the expansion of the Dar al-Islam. In September 2006, when philosophy teacher Robert Redeker went into hiding after receiving death threats over a Le Figaro op-ed on Islam, France’s then–prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, commented that “everyone has the right to express their opinions freely—at the same time that they respect others, of course.” The lesson of the Redeker affair, he said, was “how vigilant we must be to ensure that people fully respect one another in our society.” Villepin got a run for his money last year from his Swedish counterpart, Fredrik Reinfeldt, who, after meeting with Muslim ambassadors to discuss the Vilks cartoons, won praise from one of them, Algeria’s Merzak Bedjaoui, for his “spirit of appeasement.”

When, years after September 11, President George W. Bush finally acknowledged publicly that the West was at war with Islamic fascism, Muslims’ and multiculturalists’ furious reaction made him retreat to the empty term “war on terror.” Britain’s Foreign Office has since deemed even that phrase offensive and banned its use by cabinet members (along with “Islamic extremism”). In January, the Home Office decided that Islamic terrorism would henceforth be described as “anti-Islamic activity.”

Western legislatures and courts have reinforced the “spirit of appeasement.” In 2005, Norway’s parliament, with virtually no public discussion or media coverage, criminalized religious insults (and placed the burden of proof on the defendant). Last year, that country’s most celebrated lawyer, Tor Erling Staff, argued that the punishment for honor killing should be less than for other murders, because it’s arrogant for us to expect Muslim men to conform to our society’s norms. Also in 2007, in one of several instances in which magistrates sworn to uphold German law have followed sharia instead, a Frankfurt judge rejected a Muslim woman’s request for a quick divorce from her brutally abusive husband; after all, under the Koran he had the right to beat her.

Those who dare to defy the West’s new sharia-based strictures and speak their minds now risk prosecution in some countries. In 2006, legendary author Oriana Fallaci, dying of cancer, went on trial in Italy for slurring Islam; three years earlier, she had defended herself in a French court against a similar charge. (Fallaci was ultimately found not guilty in both cases.) More recently, Canadian provinces ordered publisher Ezra Levant and journalist Mark Steyn to face human rights tribunals, the former for reprinting the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, the latter for writing critically about Islam in Maclean’s.

Even as Western authorities have hassled Islam’s critics, they’ve honored jihadists and their supporters. In 2005, Queen Elizabeth knighted Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain, a man who had called for the death of Salman Rushdie. Also that year, London mayor Ken Livingstone ludicrously praised Qaradawi as “progressive”—and, in response to gay activists who pointed out that Qaradawi had defended the death penalty for homosexuals, issued a dissertation-length dossier whitewashing the Sunni scholar and trying to blacken the activists’ reputations. Of all the West’s leaders, however, few can hold a candle to Piet Hein Donner, who in 2006, as Dutch minister of justice, said that if voters wanted to bring sharia to the Netherlands—where Muslims will soon be a majority in major cities—“it would be a disgrace to say, ‘This is not permitted!’ ”

If you don’t find the dhimmification of politicians shocking, consider the degree to which law enforcement officers have yielded to Islamist pressure. Last year, when “Undercover Mosque,” an unusually frank exposé on Britain’s Channel 4, showed “moderate” Muslim preachers calling for the beating of wives and daughters and the murder of gays and apostates, police leaped into action—reporting the station to the government communications authority, Ofcom, for stirring up racial hatred. (Ofcom, to its credit, rejected the complaint.) The police reaction, as James Forsyth noted in the Spectator, “revealed a mindset that views the exposure of a problem as more of a problem than the problem itself.” Only days after the “Undercover Mosque” broadcast—in a colossal mark of indifference to the reality that it exposed—Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair announced plans to share antiterrorist intelligence with Muslim community leaders. These plans, fortunately, were later shelved.

Canadian Muslim reformist Irshad Manji has noted that in 2006, when 17 terrorists were arrested in Toronto on the verge of giving Canada “its own 9/11,” “the police did not mention that it had anything to do with Islam or Muslims, not a word.” When, after van Gogh’s murder, a Rotterdam artist drew a street mural featuring an angel and the words THOU SHALT NOT KILL, police, fearing Muslim displeasure, destroyed the mural (and a videotape of its destruction). In July 2007, a planned TV appeal by British cops to help capture a Muslim rapist was canceled to avoid “racist backlash.” And in August, the Times of London reported that “Asian” men (British code for “Muslims”) in the U.K. were having sex with perhaps hundreds of “white girls as young as twelve”—but that authorities wouldn’t take action for fear of “upsetting race relations.” Typically, neither the Times nor government officials acknowledged that the “Asian” men’s contempt for the “white” girls was a matter not of race but of religion.

Even military leaders aren’t immune. In 2005, columnist Diana West noted that America’s Iraq commander, Lieutenant General John R. Vines, was educating his staff in Islam by giving them a reading list that “whitewashes jihad, dhimmitude and sharia law with the works of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito”; two years later, West noted the unwillingness of a counterinsurgency advisor, Lieutenant Colonel David Kilcullen, to mention jihad. In January 2008, the Pentagon fired Stephen Coughlin, its resident expert on sharia and jihad; reportedly, his acknowledgment that terrorism was motivated by jihad had antagonized an influential Muslim aide. “That Coughlin’s analyses would even be considered ‘controversial,’ ” wrote Andrew Bostom, editor of The Legacy of Jihad, “is pathognomonic of the intellectual and moral rot plaguing our efforts to combat global terrorism.” (Perhaps owing to public outcry, officials announced in February that Coughlin would not be dismissed after all, but instead moved to another Department of Defense position.)

Enough. We need to recognize that the cultural jihadists hate our freedoms because those freedoms defy sharia, which they’re determined to impose on us. So far, they have been far less successful at rolling back freedom of speech and other liberties in the U.S. than in Europe, thanks in no small part to the First Amendment. Yet America is proving increasingly susceptible to their pressures.

The key question for Westerners is: Do we love our freedoms as much as they hate them? Many free people, alas, have become so accustomed to freedom, and to the comfortable position of not having to stand up for it, that they’re incapable of defending it when it’s imperiled—or even, in many cases, of recognizing that it is imperiled. As for Muslims living in the West, surveys suggest that many of them, though not actively involved in jihad, are prepared to look on passively—and some, approvingly—while their coreligionists drag the Western world into the House of Submission.

But we certainly can’t expect them to take a stand for liberty if we don’t stand up for it ourselves.

Bruce Bawer is the author of While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within. He blogs at
9847  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 30, 2008, 06:32:57 PM

An Anatomy of Surrender
Motivated by fear and multiculturalism, too many Westerners are acquiescing to creeping sharia.

An example of Western self-censorship: Belgian officials prohibited Shark, by David Cerny, depicting Saddam Hussein as an aquatic predator.
Islam divides the world into two parts. The part governed by sharia, or Islamic law, is called the Dar al-Islam, or House of Submission. Everything else is the Dar al-Harb, or House of War, so called because it will take war—holy war, jihad—to bring it into the House of Submission. Over the centuries, this jihad has taken a variety of forms. Two centuries ago, for instance, Muslim pirates from North Africa captured ships and enslaved their crews, leading the U.S. to fight the Barbary Wars of 1801–05 and 1815. In recent decades, the jihadists’ weapon of choice has usually been the terrorist’s bomb; the use of planes as missiles on 9/11 was a variant of this method.

What has not been widely recognized is that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa against Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie introduced a new kind of jihad. Instead of assaulting Western ships or buildings, Kho meini took aim at a fundamental Western freedom: freedom of speech. In recent years, other Islamists have joined this crusade, seeking to undermine Western societies’ basic liberties and extend sharia within those societies.

The cultural jihadists have enjoyed disturbing success. Two events in particular—the 2004 assassination in Amsterdam of Theo van Gogh in retaliation for his film about Islam’s oppression of women, and the global wave of riots, murders, and vandalism that followed a Danish newspaper’s 2005 publication of cartoons satirizing Mohammed—have had a massive ripple effect throughout the West. Motivated variously, and doubtless sometimes simultaneously, by fear, misguided sympathy, and multicultural ideology—which teaches us to belittle our freedoms and to genuflect to non-Western cultures, however repressive—people at every level of Western society, but especially elites, have allowed concerns about what fundamentalist Muslims will feel, think, or do to influence their actions and expressions. These Westerners have begun, in other words, to internalize the strictures of sharia, and thus implicitly to accept the deferential status of dhimmis—infidels living in Muslim societies.

Call it a cultural surrender. The House of War is slowly—or not so slowly, in Europe’s case—being absorbed into the House of Submission.

The Western media are in the driver’s seat on this road to sharia. Often their approach is to argue that we’re the bad guys. After the late Dutch sociologist-turned-politician Pim Fortuyn sounded the alarm about the danger that Europe’s Islamization posed to democracy, elite journalists labeled him a threat. A New York Times headline described him as MARCHING THE DUTCH TO THE RIGHT. Dutch newspapers Het Parool and De Volkskrant compared him with Mussolini; Trouw likened him to Hitler. The man (a multiculturalist, not a Muslim) who murdered him in May 2002 seemed to echo such verdicts when explaining his motive: Fortuyn’s views on Islam, the killer insisted, were “dangerous.”

Perhaps no Western media outlet has exhibited this habit of moral inversion more regularly than the BBC. In 2006, to take a typical example, Manchester’s top imam told psychotherapist John Casson that he supported the death penalty for homosexuality. Casson expressed shock—and the BBC, in a dispatch headlined IMAM ACCUSED OF “GAY DEATH” SLUR, spun the controversy as an effort by Casson to discredit Islam. The BBC concluded its story with comments from an Islamic Human Rights Commission spokesman, who equated Muslim attitudes toward homosexuality with those of “other orthodox religions, such as Catholicism” and complained that focusing on the issue was “part of demonizing Muslims.”

In June 2005, the BBC aired the documentary Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic, which sought to portray concerns about Islamic radicalism as overblown. This “stunning whitewash of radical Islam,” as Little Green Footballs blogger Charles Johnson put it, “helped keep the British public fast asleep, a few weeks before the bombs went off in London subways and buses” in July 2005. In December 2007, it emerged that five of the documentary’s subjects, served up on the show as examples of innocuous Muslims-next-door, had been charged in those terrorist attacks—and that BBC producers, though aware of their involvement after the attacks took place, had not reported important information about them to the police.

Press acquiescence to Muslim demands and threats is endemic. When the Mohammed cartoons—published in September 2005 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten to defy rising self-censorship after van Gogh’s murder—were answered by worldwide violence, only one major American newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, joined such European dailies as Die Welt and El País in reprinting them as a gesture of free-speech solidarity. Editors who refused to run the images claimed that their motive was multicultural respect for Islam. Critic Christopher Hitchens believed otherwise, writing that he “knew quite a number of the editors concerned and can say for a certainty that the chief motive for ‘restraint’ was simple fear.” Exemplifying the new dhimmitude, whatever its motivation, was Norway’s leading cartoonist, Finn Graff, who had often depicted Israelis as Nazis, but who now vowed not to draw anything that might provoke Muslim wrath. (On a positive note, this February, over a dozen Danish newspapers, joined by a number of other papers around the world, reprinted one of the original cartoons as a free-speech gesture after the arrest of three people accused of plotting to kill the artist.)

Last year brought another cartoon crisis—this time over Swedish artist Lars Vilks’s drawings of Mohammed as a dog, which ambassadors from Muslim countries used as an excuse to demand speech limits in Sweden. CNN reporter Paula Newton suggested that perhaps “Vilks should have known better” because of the Jyllands-Posten incident—as if people who make art should naturally take their marching orders from people who make death threats. Meanwhile, The Economist depicted Vilks as an eccentric who shouldn’t be taken “too seriously” and noted approvingly that Sweden’s prime minister, unlike Denmark’s, invited the ambassadors “in for a chat.”

The elite media regularly underreport fundamentalist Muslim misbehavior or obfuscate its true nature. After the knighting of Rushdie in 2007 unleashed yet another wave of international Islamist mayhem, Tim Rutten wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “If you’re wondering why you haven’t been able to follow all the columns and editorials in the American press denouncing all this homicidal nonsense, it’s because there haven’t been any.” Or consider the riots that gripped immigrant suburbs in France in the autumn of 2005. These uprisings were largely assertions of Muslim authority over Muslim neighborhoods, and thus clearly jihadist in character. Yet weeks passed before many American press outlets mentioned them—and when they did, they de-emphasized the rioters’ Muslim identity (few cited the cries of “Allahu akbar,” for instance). Instead, they described the violence as an outburst of frustration over economic injustice.

When polls and studies of Muslims appear, the media often spin the results absurdly or drop them down the memory hole after a single news cycle. Journalists celebrated the results of a 2007 Pew poll showing that 80 percent of American Muslims aged 18 to 29 said that they opposed suicide bombing—even though the flip side, and the real story, was that a double-digit percentage of young American Muslims admitted that they supported it. U.S. MUSLIMS ASSIMILATED, OPPOSED TO EXTREMISM, the Washington Post rejoiced, echoing USA Today’s AMERICAN MUSLIMS REJECT EXTREMES. A 2006 Daily Telegraph survey showed that 40 percent of British Muslims wanted sharia in Britain—yet British reporters often write as though only a minuscule minority embraced such views.

After each major terrorist act since 9/11, the press has dutifully published stories about Western Muslims fearing an “anti-Muslim backlash”—thus neatly shifting the focus from Islamists’ real acts of violence to non-Muslims’ imaginary ones. (These backlashes, of course, never materialize.) While books by Islam experts like Bat Ye’or and Robert Spencer, who tell difficult truths about jihad and sharia, go unreviewed in newspapers like the New York Times, the elite press legitimizes thinkers like Karen Armstrong and John Esposito, whose sugarcoated representations of Islam should have been discredited for all time by 9/11. The Times described Armstrong’s hagiography of Mohammed as “a good place to start” learning about Islam; in July 2007, the Washington Post headlined a piece by Esposito WANT TO UNDERSTAND ISLAM? START HERE.

Mainstream outlets have also served up anodyne portraits of fundamentalist Muslim life. Witness Andrea Elliott’s affectionate three-part profile of a Brooklyn imam, which appeared in the New York Times in March 2006. Elliott and the Times sought to portray Reda Shata as a heroic bridge builder between two cultures, leaving readers with the comforting belief that the growth of Islam in America was not only harmless but positive, even beautiful. Though it emerged in passing that Shata didn’t speak English, refused to shake women’s hands, wanted to forbid music, and supported Hamas and suicide bombing, Elliott did her best to downplay such unpleasant details; instead, she focused on sympathetic personal particulars. “Islam came to him softly, in the rhythms of his grandmother’s voice”; “Mr. Shata discovered love 15 years ago. . . . ‘She entered my heart,‘ said the imam.” Elliott’s saccharine piece won a Pulitzer Prize. When Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes pointed out that Shata was obviously an Islamist, a writer for the Columbia Journalism Review dismissed Pipes as “right-wing” and insisted that Shata was “very moderate.”

So it goes in this upside-down, not-so-brave new media world: those who, if given the power, would subjugate infidels, oppress women, and execute apostates and homosexuals are “moderate” (a moderate, these days, apparently being anybody who doesn’t have explosives strapped to his body), while those who dare to call a spade a spade are “Islamophobes.”

The entertainment industry has been nearly as appalling. During World War II, Hollywood churned out scores of films that served the war effort, but today’s movies and TV shows, with very few exceptions, either tiptoe around Islam or whitewash it. In the whitewash category were two sitcoms that debuted in 2007, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Little Mosque on the Prairie and CW’s Aliens in America. Both shows are about Muslims confronting anti-Muslim bigotry; both take it for granted that there’s no fundamentalist Islam problem in the West, but only an anti-Islam problem.

Muslim pressure groups have actively tried to keep movies and TV shows from portraying Islam as anything but a Religion of Peace. For example, the Council for American-Islamic Relations successfully lobbied Paramount Pictures to change the bad guys in The Sum of All Fears (2002) from Islamist terrorists to neo-Nazis, while Fox’s popular series 24, after Muslims complained about a story line depicting Islamic terrorists, ran cringe-worthy public-service announcements emphasizing how nonviolent Islam was. Earlier this year, Iranian-Danish actor Farshad Kholghi noted that, despite the cartoon controversy’s overwhelming impact on Denmark, “not a single movie has been made about the crisis, not a single play, not a single stand-up monologue.” Which, of course, is exactly what the cartoon jihadists wanted.

In April 2006, an episode of the animated series South Park admirably mocked the wave of self-censorship that followed the Jyllands-Posten crisis—but Comedy Central censored it, replacing an image of Mohammed with a black screen and an explanatory notice. According to series producer Anne Garefino, network executives frankly admitted that they were acting out of fear. “We were happy,” she told an interviewer, “that they didn’t try to claim that it was because of religious tolerance.”

Then there’s the art world. Postmodern artists who have always striven to shock and offend now maintain piously that Islam deserves “respect.” Museums and galleries have quietly taken down paintings that might upset Muslims and have put into storage manuscripts featuring images of Mohammed. London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery removed life-size nude dolls by surrealist artist Hans Bellmer from a 2006 exhibit just before its opening; the official excuse was “space constraints,” but the curator admitted that the real reason was fear that the nudity might offend the gallery’s Muslim neighbors. Last November, after the cancellation of a show in The Hague of artworks depicting gay men in Mohammed masks, the artist, Sooreh Hera, charged the museum with giving in to Muslim threats. Tim Marlow of London’s White Cube Gallery notes that such self-censorship by artists and museums is now common, though “very few people have explicitly admitted” it. British artist Grayson Perry, whose work has mercilessly mocked Christianity, is one who has—and his reluctance isn’t about multicultural sensitivity. “The reason I haven’t gone all out attacking Islamism in my art,” he told the Times of London, “is because I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat.”

Leading liberal intellectuals and academics have shown a striking willingness to betray liberal values when it comes to pacifying Muslims. Back in 2001, Unni Wikan, a distinguished Norwegian cultural anthropologist and Islam expert, responded to the high rate of Muslim-on-infidel rape in Oslo by exhorting women to “realize that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it.”

More recently, high-profile Europe experts Ian Buruma of Bard College and Timothy Garton Ash of Oxford, while furiously denying that they advocate cultural surrender, have embraced “accommodation,” which sounds like a distinction without a difference. In his book Murder in Amsterdam, Buruma approvingly quotes Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen’s call for “accommodation with the Muslims,” including those “who consciously discriminate against their women.” Sharia enshrines a Muslim man’s right to beat and rape his wife, to force marriages on his daughters, and to kill them if they resist. One wonders what female Muslims who immigrated to Europe to escape such barbarity think of this prescription.

Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and one of Britain’s best-known public intellectuals, suggested in February the institution of a parallel system of sharia law in Britain. Since the Islamic Sharia Council already adjudicates Muslim marriages and divorces in the U.K., what Williams was proposing was, as he put it, “a much enhanced and quite sophisticated version of such a body, with increased resources.” Gratifyingly, his proposal, short on specifics and long on academic doublespeak (“I don’t think,” he told the BBC, “that we should instantly spring to the conclusion that the whole of that world of jurisprudence and practice is somehow monstrously incompatible with human rights, simply because it doesn’t immediately fit with how we understand it”) was greeted with public outrage.

9848  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: ACORN on: September 30, 2008, 06:01:24 PM

Obama and ACORN.
9849  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 30, 2008, 05:56:18 PM

I strongly suggest you read Bruce Bawer's book.
9850  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: September 30, 2008, 05:41:48 PM
- Pajamas Media - -

Who’s Sleeping More Deeply — Europe or America?
September 30, 2008 - by Bruce Bawer

In my 2006 book [1] While Europe Slept, I expressed concern about the will of Europeans to defend their freedoms in the face of the continent’s Islamization. I contrasted them in this regard with Americans, for whom, I argued, freedom is a living reality for which they are willing to fight and to sacrifice.

My book came out in the midst of the Danish cartoon crisis. And during that crisis I saw things in Europe that — quite frankly — surprised and impressed me. I saw the editors of a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, stand up for freedom of expression in the face of worldwide rioting, vandalism, and murder by Muslims and contempt on the part of foolish Westerners. I saw a Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in defiance of the UN, the EU, and most of the “international community,” stand by that newspaper and refuse to meet with Muslim ambassadors who were out to intimidate his country and to force Sharia-like restrictions on Western liberties. I saw the people of Denmark, in overwhelming numbers, stand behind their prime minister in his refusal to yield to jihad. And I saw major newspapers across Europe reprinting the Jyllands-Posten cartoons in acts of free-speech solidarity.

I don’t mean to paint too rosy a picture. The Danish response wasn’t perfect. Not a single newspaper in Britain reprinted the cartoons. And both the Swedish and Norwegian governments provided textbook cases of cowering dhimmitude. But none of that was really a surprise. What did surprise, and disappoint, me was the American political and media establishment. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush condemned the Jyllands-Posten cartoons out of hand. The State Department denounced them too, and only reversed itself after getting an earful from the Danish government, one of its few allies in Iraq. In the entire United States of America, exactly one major newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, reprinted the cartoons. And while the major broadcast networks, as well as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, reported extensively on the cartoon riots, none of them ever showed the cartoons at all.

A big part of the reason for this dismaying American response to the cartoon affair is, of course, that Islamization hasn’t progressed as far in America as in Europe, and there’s consequently an incredible level of ignorance in America both about what’s really going on in Europe and about the very nature of Islam. In the current presidential campaign, only a small portion of the electorate seems to think that the war with jihadist Islam is a major issue. The one candidate who understood best what we’re up against, and who took it most seriously, Rudy Giuliani, was ridiculed across the political spectrum for being obsessed with 9/11 — as if the events of that day had been some kind of fluke or accident that has virtually no meaning for us today.

In depressing numbers, in short, Americans seem not to grasp the lessons of 9/11 — which should hardly be a surprise, considering how many journalists and politicians keep repeating that the terrorists are betraying a great and peaceful religion, that jihad means doing good works, and so on. A while back, in response to rumors that Barack Obama is a closet Muslim, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof argued that it would be a matter of [2] utter indifference if the president of the United States were a Muslim. Of the hundreds of people who commented on this article on the Times website, the overwhelming majority applauded Kristof for his extraordinary courage in standing up to Islamophobia. Only a tiny handful of readers noted that there are, in fact, good reasons for free people to be concerned about the possibility of a U.S. president with a devout commitment to Islamic theology and law. The American media that do report honestly on the less attractive truths about Islam, moreover, tend to be media that people are encouraged to look down upon.

Make no mistake: if Europeans are, on average, more aware than Americans of the realities of Islam, it’s no thanks to their media but rather because they can see with their own eyes what’s going on around them. Yet many of them feel cowed — not only by Muslims but by politically correct politicians and media — into keeping their opinions to themselves, and feel powerless to prevent what now seems to many of them, in any event, inevitable. In other words, fatalism has taken hold.

In While Europe Slept I also contrasted European and American approaches to immigration. Ever since the Muslim influx began some decades ago, European countries have encouraged the newcomers to retain their cultural identity, to live apart from mainstream society, and to become clients of the welfare state. America, by contrast, has traditionally expected immigrants to learn English, to get a job, and to obey the law, and if they do so they’re every bit as American as anyone else. I didn’t argue in While Europe Slept that America was invulnerable to Islamization, but I did suggest that — thanks to this very dramatic difference both in the general public’s attitudes toward immigrants and in government immigration policy — America stood a far better chance than Europe did of seeing Muslim newcomers turn into loyal citizens rather than enemies within. I think I had a valid point there, though if I were writing the book today I’d probably be somewhat less sanguine about America’s ability to integrate absolutely everyone into its melting pot. I might also be less sanguine, I’m afraid, about the endurance of Americans’ love of freedom in an age of poisonous multicultural relativism.

I do feel, however, that there’s one very important difference between America and Europe when it comes to resisting cultural jihad, and that is this: that in America, a large proportion of the people who recognize the threat of Islam and who are determined to resist it are consciously fighting for freedom — for, that is, the principles articulated in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. In many parts of Western Europe, this kind of certainty and unanimity about freedom — simple freedom — as a first principle can be discouragingly hard to come by. The blogger Frank Martin has written about a teenage tour guide at a World War II battlefield in the Netherlands who told him that the Allied soldiers who fell there had been “fighting for bridges, how silly that they would all fight for something like that.” Somebody like that boy, who didn’t grasp that those soldiers had died for the very freedom that he had taken for granted his whole life, is incapable of standing up for freedom against Islamofascism. Yes, there are Europeans who realize that the opposite of Islam is indeed human freedom. But in Europe, with its checkered history of fascism and socialism, there are also all too many people on the right who are mounting the barricades in the name not of freedom but of ethnic identity, cultural tradition, or religion, and all too many on the left whose cri de coeur is not individual liberty but the welfare state.

Meanwhile Europe’s cultural elites are dominated by people who seem likely to continue to smile upon Islamization right up till the moment they’re stoned to death. At a recent Norwegian conference on integration, the Swedish government representative was asked: “Is Swedish culture worth preserving?” “Well,” she replied dismissively, “what is Swedish culture?” To people like that, European culture is a void waiting to be filled with something, and that something might as well be Islam. Granted, things aren’t quite that bad in the U.S. — not even at the New York Times. Yet to an extraordinary extent, the political and cultural elites on both sides of the Atlantic are in sync in their denial of the reality we’re up against.

This was driven home to me a few months ago when I took part in a day-long conference in Washington, D.C., about the America/Europe relationship. Nearly all the participants and audience members, I gathered, were Americans or Europeans who worked in the diplomatic corps. The day was crammed with panel discussions, and from early morning until late in the afternoon we talked about nothing but America and Europe. Yet aside from me, only one other person even mentioned Islam. And he did so in the most indirect way, as if he were bringing up something indelicate. Everybody present seemed to share an unspoken understanding that this subject was off limits. Indeed, pretty much everybody seemed to agree that Europe is doing great — that it’s moving from strength to strength — and that America should be more like it in every way.

How I even got invited to such a conference I have no idea. In any case, everything I said was dismissed out of hand. One genial fellow who seemed desperate to correct my folly and bring me into the tent came up to me after my talk and said, almost pleadingly, “But don’t you think that the real problem is not Islam but Islamophobia?” And on the panel that followed my talk, a retired diplomat with decades of experience (and a masterly command of the art of condescension) mentioned in a tone of both wonder and whimsy that I wasn’t alone in my peculiar affliction; even Walter Laqueur — the distinguished octogenarian historian of Europe whom the retired diplomat, as his tone made clear, had once, but no longer, held in high esteem — had written a book making the same bizarre arguments I was making! But neither this retired diplomat nor anyone else was willing to entertain the possibility that if both Laqueur and I, and many others, had made certain arguments, there might actually be something in them; no, it was as if, in their eyes, we had all simply been bitten by some exotic bug or contracted some mysterious new infection or had giant alien pods placed under our beds while we were sleeping.

Among those who are considered experts on Europe, or on transatlantic relations, that patrician diplomat’s attitude is ubiquitous. Tony Judt, in [3] Postwar, his acclaimed 2005 book on Europe since 1945, pronounced the continent in magnificent health and all but ignored Islam. Timothy Garton Ash, in his 2004 book [4] Free World, did the same, only pausing briefly on pages 197 and 198 to admit parenthetically that addressing Europe’s Islamization is “the single most urgent task of European domestic politics in the next decade” — after which he amazingly returned to pretending, as he had on the preceding 196 pages, that Europe’s most urgent tasks lie elsewhere. Meanwhile one book after another on the America-Europe relationship has contended that it’s America that’s the problem — that America is out of step with the world and needs to get back into line, pronto. In the title of Clyde Prestowitz’s 2005 book, America is a “[5] rogue nation” because it refuses to go along and get along with the rest of the planet under the wise auspices of the UN. I don’t know exactly how to characterize or understand this mass self-deception, this determination to cling to an illusion of the West in which the ongoing Islamization of Europe simply is not a factor; it would appear to be rooted partly in confusion, partly in cowardice, partly in careerism — and partly, I think, in a perhaps not entirely conscious conviction that some truths are just too sensational to speak without sounding hysterical, too repulsive to be honest about without sounding (to some ears) vulgar and bigoted, and too challenging to face without being utterly overwhelmed by the scale and the horror of it all.

What happens to the West will depend, in large part, on what happens to this pervasive self-denial and to those men and women of power and influence who cling to it as if to a life raft in a raging sea. Will Europeans who have faced the facts manage to gain power and turn things around before Europe passes the point of no return in its gradual surrender to Sharia? Will the European elites collaborate to realize Nicolas Sarkozy’s dark dream of a Mediterranean Union and develop it in the same ominous way in which the EU itself was developed, steadily compromising individual freedom and representative democracy — and leaving America increasingly out in the cold? Or will the next president of the U.S. be someone who is every bit as eager to appease Islam as the archbishop of Canterbury, resulting in a strong transatlantic alliance devoted not to the joint preservation of freedom but to the joint pursuit of dhimmitude? I’m sorry to say that a year or so ago, when it looked as if the major-party presidential candidates would be Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton — the former of whom obviously gets it, and the latter of whom, I suspect, does so as well — I was considerably more hopeful on this score than I am now.

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