Thursday, August 31, 2006
I just finished Fawaz Gerges' book, Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy and I can unequivocally draw the following conclusion: as with biographies, if you're looking for the truth about a topic, one must seek out source materials to avoid individual biases.
Jihadist was an effort by Gerges to interview key figures of Muslim militancy, and he used his Lebanese background to gain access to people that an otherwise Christian Western journalist might not achieve. It is a pity that his conclusions are colored by his early experiences in Lebanon.
Gerges recounts growing up in Lebanon and how idyllic his youth was, until things began to change in the 1970s. Gerges takes great pains to illustrate for us that Islam is not an inherently violent religion, using first-person accounts with Muslims as his evidence of that theory. The problem with using personal experience to make a generalization is one of sample size; I am certain that there were many good Germans who helped Jews escape or hide in Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and yet, this doesn't negate the evil of the Nazi regime nor the complicity of most Germans. Likewise, there are accounts of white Southerners who assisted in freeing black slaves in the United States during the Civil War; this doesn't invalidate the proper generalization that the South was engaged in the vile and despicable institution of slavery.
There are a couple of points worthy of sharing... and commentary. First, as I mentioned to Samuel one day, Gerges completely missed the date on The Battle of Mogadishu (which he places in August 1993; in fact it was October of that year).
Let's go to the text, shall we? Regarding the Beruit bombing in 1983 that killed our Marines (page 87): "Telephone calls by an unknown group called Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility: 'We are the soldiers of God,' said a voice in classical Arabic on behalf of the mysterious group. 'We are neither Iranians, Syrians, nor Palestinians, but Muslims who follow the precepts of the Qur'an.'" (emphasis mine)
Is Jihad a personal duty of every Muslim? According to a militant named Abu-Jandal who fought in Bosnia (page 115-116): "By the time he departed from Bosnia a few months later, he viewed jihad as a permanent and personal duty, a pillar of Islam: 'There is a dilemma and a misunderstanding that most Muslims face. It can be summed up in that jihad has become merely a matter of thought for them, and they forgot that jihad is something that God has prescribed to us as a religious duty, like prayers, fasting, alms-giving, and pilgrimages.'" (emphasis mine) Got that? Jihad is as necessary as praying, according to God.
Later (page 126) Abu-Jandal recounts how they would offer condolences to friends who got married, because they couldn't run off and fight any more. Says Gerges: "The context of this notion is the Qur'anic verse in which Allah says that one cannot be a true Muslim unless one holds Allah and his messenger Mohammed in higher esteem than one's loved ones and one's material possessions." Which sounds a little bit like "Thou shall love the Lord your God above all" except Christians and Jews generally don't use this verse as justification for killing others.
In all, Gerges paints an almost schizophrenic analysis of militant Islam. He closes the book on a low note - after the invasion of Iraq, we've reached a low point of relations between Islam and the West, and he recounts this for us in his conversation with a militant named Kamal, who was very active in the early years of militancy in Egypt. According to Kamal (page 236): "Muslims feel they are facing an existential threat, a 'new Christian crusade allied with Jewish fundamentalism' whose goal is to neutralize Islam by discrediting 'positive Islamic values like jihad, fighting, martyrdom, and the idea that all Muslims belong to one ummah. The new crusade is targeting traditional Islam,' he said." (emphasis mine again)
Jihadist is an interesting, if just a fairly well-thought out book, whose inability to decisively summarize the nature of the conflict betrays a certain moral confusion of the author. Sadly, rather than focus on the problems inherent in Islam, most of the book portrays militancy as merely an effect of Western foreign policy.
But there's a good lesson to take away. We must look at the world as it is, and not as we remember it, or as we wish it to be.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Much has been said and will continue to be said about the Hurricane that hit New Orleans one year ago today. I have several issues with the reporting of the disaster anniversary which I guess should surprise no one.
I'm going to pull a few gems out of this article for your reading enjoyment. OK, let's be candid, they're for my editorial urges, but maybe you'll enjoy them too. "The tears were mixed with anger at officials who abandoned tens of thousands..." This statement is particularly offensive. Officials abandoned people there? Which officials? Were they there together, perhaps, and then the officials piled into their VW van and got the hell out of there as soon as they heard of the storm, but failed to warn the "tens of thousands"?
The MSM loudly bills Katrina as the greatest disaster to hit the United States. It was the most costly, and you'd have to go back to 1928 to find more deaths from a storm. But I think there's a bigger disaster, and I'll get to that thought in a minute.
Further, why in the world is President Bush accepting full responsibility? Because he failed to go door to door, reminding those people living in government-funded housing, collecting government-funded welfare that 1) a dangerous storm was coming and 2) they might want to get off their backsides and get the hell out of town? At one extreme, Bush could have had the city and area forcibly evacuated. At the other extreme, he could have literally done nothing (not the figurative nothing that everyone claims he did). But let's be candid: in either case, he would have been ripped from one end to the other. What exactly would have been the appropriate thing to do? Ask any individual, and their response would likely be self-focused: in other words, if I got out, I wouldn't be mad. But were people forced to stick around in the face of a category-5 storm? Can we really look at any person other than the ones who stayed as responsible for the outcome they are faced with? For Bush to accept "full responsibility" is just... plain... well, irresponsible. Yes, it is the politically comforting thing to do (after all, no one is going to hold him to this; there will be no charges or investigations into his "full responsibility") but in the end, it reinforces what the real disaster is here: rampant dependency and a lack of self-government. So much so that the very instinct of self-preservation is deadened in people. This still, to this day, shocks me.
Here at last is my point: we have a citizenry that is growing ever more dependent on "the government" (in whatever form is most conducive to the problem at hand) to do for them the things they should be doing for themselves. Can't pay your rent? Get the government to help. Can't feed and clothe your family? Get the government to help. Can't have the conscious awareness necessary to remove yourself from the path of a destructive force of nature? You get the idea.
I can only wonder: will this growing dependence end? Where and how? Can we really become more dependent as a people - is that possible? How, I wonder, could we?
So, put me down for a little bit of anger tonight as well, Dear Reader. I'm a little angry that the family unit has fallen apart so much so that people look to the government for their care, something that was once the domain of the family and the church. Let's not forget: that "government" is only in business because you and I work and pay those ever-growing taxes. Lost in all of this is the fact that we're sliding towards absolute despotism. If we lose, or if we cannot regain, that sense of self-government necessary for the success of a federal representative republic, we might as well admit that what we're supposed to have is no longer in the cards and that what we're going to have is socialism, pure and simple.
Oh, and must I smack you over the head with it? Which political party would you guess has spent the better part of the last thirty years doing whatever they can to undermine the importance of the family? I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
I'm encouraging everyone I know to read up on the topic. We need a healthy dose of intellectual honesty - now, more than ever - if we're going to understand fundamental threats to our way of life and how to deal with them.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
The Iranians offered their response to the package of incentives offered by the West today, saying little and remaining ambiguous by design.
You can read all the, uh, riveting ambiguity here.
While Iran's negotiator indicated that they were prepared for serious talks as early as tomorrow, the Iranians have also intimated that they will not, repeat, not, give up their nuclear development program(s). This leaves us exactly where we were a week ago, two months ago, six months ago (you get the idea). Nothing has changed except the Iranians have altered the game.
We're now faced with a foot-dragging international community that will earnestly desire to debate the possible next steps with Iran (meanwhile, under 50 feet of concrete in the Iranian wasteland, scientists are not, repeat, not, taking the day off, and will continue to work on enriching uranium). In Iran's game of brinkmanship, they are hoping to delay, divide, and develop.
We're now in the delay phase, during which western powers and our friends Russia and China will wring our hands somberly over how to proceed with Iran. We will hear numerous accounts of how sincere the Iranians are.
The divide phase follows shortly after the delay phase. This is where Iran and her sympathizers will attempt to - and probably succeed - divide the UN Security Council, well-known for its collegial atmosphere and ability to "get things done." And of course, the endgame is de facto development.
When Iran can say "we have the bomb" a large percentage of the international community and even some well-meaning Americans will insist that Iran must thereafter be treated differently - after all, they have the bomb.
What these useful idiots don't understand is that Iran will use the bomb, or, sell it to someone who will. This won't be a rematch of the chess game that was the Cold War, despite this being the fantasy of every liberal America-hater (who are dying to shout: Finally! The Empire gets its comeuppance! Now we'll see how the Cowboy handles this one.). Instead, we will be dealing with an adversary that plays by a different set of rules, contrary to everything we think we know about human nature. This enemy desires mass murder, and, as a bonus, martyrdom; the threat of being killed in a retaliatory strike brings them no fear, or possibly, happiness.
We're entering a period of time in which inaction endangers our way of life. The difference between this standoff and the Cold War is that conservatives won't have the pleasure of telling liberals "we told you so."
Poor Webster and his crew were working out in that 100 degree heat - mind your fluids, boys. Congrats are in order too, as he's been working on a really big job. And whereas some guys might not price 'em right, I know my pal Webster won't miss a thing.
Looking forward to having you back soon, DW. Until then, make hay while the sun shines.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
I was rough-housing with my three-year old son, and he jumped up to run in the other room. His first step (and he's got an explosive first step, I see Notre Dame in his future) was right on my hand. The audible crack and the enormous swelling remind me of when I fractured the same segment of my right middle finger saluting Bill Clinton.
Nah, I got it caught in someone's shirt playing flag football. But Clinton-induced fatigue might have had something to do with it. Repetitive motion injuries, you know.
Anyway, the odd angle will be my left index's mark forever more. Funny how much you use a thing like your left index finger and don't even realize it until it hurts to do so.
DISCLAIMER: If you've got a weak stomach for reading about injuries stop here.
But this finger deal isn't that bad compared to an injury I had probably seven years ago...
I was in the gym, and was sitting on a flat bench getting ready to do a set of dumbbell flys. I had the weights resting on my thighs, leaning against each other, and decided I'd let go with my left hand to adjust my portable CD player. As you might have guessed by now, I became unbalanced, and the left weight slid down and smashed my right thumb between the handle of the right weight and the cast iron part of the left weight. Basically, I took a 60 pound piece of iron and a solid steel handle, and made a right thumb sandwich out of those.
I immediately put the weights back and returned to my apartment (I was living high-rise style, before kids came along). By this point, I'm bleeding more than a little, and it feels like my whole hand was throbbing. Which is how it felt for three days - nothing was able to chase that pain away. Of course I lost the nail, but it grew back nicely. Point is, imagine being right handed and not being able to use your right hand because the thumb has been tenderized. I struggled for a few days with that.
OK, enough injury stories for now. Unless you've got a good one, in which case, let 'er fly as my buddy Webster might say.
Friday, August 18, 2006
(or: Samuel has lost his mind)
To even the least observant among us, world events have, of late, brought one's attention unavoidably to the geographic, political, and eschatological center of the known universe--by that I mean, of course, Israel. It therefore behooves the more observant and productive among us to contribute to the universal discourse his thoughts on the matter. So, with the reader's leave, I beg of you all to allow me to go out on a limb, as it were, and put something to you afresh that you may or may not have yet considered. But first, a brief disclaimer...
ATTN: Anti-Semitic Lefitst reader; Everything I think and say is from the perspective of a God-fearing Christian whose Redeemer, a Jew, was slain by his kin and yet lives; and by Whose Blood I, a descendent of Viking barbarians, am made as one directly from the line of Abraham. So, get in, sit down, shut up, and hold on! (...'cause this is gonna get hairy.)
Now, where was I? Ah, yes, my spiel...(ahem) ...
When did the Enlightenment occur? When were the grand experiments on human liberty commenced in the old and the new worlds? Right, roughly between the beginning of the 17th Century and the end of the 18th century…to put it more broadly, sometime between the Diaspora and the middle of the 20th century. During this time, Israel was comfortably out of the picture and Zionism was under control.
Over the centuries leading up to 1947-1949, the world underwent the growing pains associated with the emergence of Liberty (at least as it is presently manifested in the United States). By this, I mean (and I beg your indulgence on my attempt at cramming hundreds of years of world history into a mustard seed husk) the Wittenberg Theses of Luther sparked the Reformation, giving rise to Protestantism; the Church Universal was toppled as supreme political power, launching nation states, energizing science and learning and industry, vastly expanding the literacy of the common people, thereby endangering monarchy and aristocracy.
The east falls to the left (atheistic communism, the State remains supreme ruler) and the west falls to the right (unalienable rights of man granted by the Creator, the individual rules the State, under God). England is slow to accept this Liberty-of-the-people business, and they pay for it dearly with the loss of America; The United States of America comes into being and grows and grows and grows, in size and in strength--especially in strength. The phoenix of Germany rises again and again and is struck down again.
Finally, after many centuries, with the help of the new United Nations, Israel returns to statehood in the midst of an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Without the Soviet Union, USA is the major power in the UN, thereby becoming the default armorer of Israel. Immediately, Israel is attacked, and they quite convincingly crush their attackers… thanks to whom? The United States. Again and again, Israel is attacked, and each time they reclaim the land they once held without question before Babylon and Assyria came around thousands of years earlier.
The brief point I am making here is that, while Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, wherever they are, history has always been for the benefit of Israel; Liberty thrives for the benefit of Israel.
I surely must have stepped on more than a couple of toes out there, so I am dying to hear the reader's response to all my blarney. Seriously, I'd like this to be discussed honestly; please tell me how you feel and what you think.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Without further adieu, here's Mom.
"I was watching the Mike Wallace interview with the Iranian president the other evening. I think this interview was a test to see how the manipulation of the media can be used to the advantage of the nation of Islam. And guess what? It was pretty successful. The Iranian president says I want to do an interview with Mike Wallace, and Mike Wallace leaps at it. He presents himself as reasonable and says the most amazing things in a reasonable tone. He makes points about religious convictions (martyrdom, etc.) that seemingly go right over Mr. Wallace's head. He insults Mr. Wallace, saying "Oh are you giving me lessons in courage now?" and Mr. Wallace doesn't even bridle at the aspersion.
At no time in the interview does he have physical contact with Mr. Wallace, not so much as a handshake. That seems a little odd and quite adversarial to me. It also maintains his distance from the mainstream American media machine, while using it to manipulate foreign and domestic opinion. It says to Americans, "Look at me, I am perfectly reasonable and all the things liberals have been saying about American tendencies toward imperialism and greed are true" while saying to his own people, "I am doing my job as president, I have boldly told the American people that I will not bow down to their wishes", and giving the nation of Islam yet another message; "See how I can use their own media against them. I send them a message to convert and they are such fools that they don't even recognize it for what it is. See how even this veteran journalist doesn't know enough about his own faith, much less mine, to understand what I am saying." He successfully deflected any question that he didn't want to answer and made every point he wanted heard.
Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad was very impressive. He dressed in a way that would be appealingly upscale, yet casual. His answers were well rehearsed and appeared spontaneous rather than scripted. (A spontaneity supported by Mr. Wallace's insistence that he didn't ask for a list of the questions that would be asked beforehand-as though a 10 year old couldn't tell you what sorts of questions would be likely to come up in such an interview) Even his facial expressions were well controlled. If he were an American we could have presidential candidate material here. He is sincere. He is bold. He knows what every American wants to hear.
The more perplexing thing is Mr. Wallace's apparent lack of understanding of the fundamental gulf between our country and his, between Christianity and Islam. There was a point in the interview with Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad where he says he believes the United States is against Islam. Instead of acknowledging that as a Christian nation we have basic irresolvable issues with Islam, Mr. Wallace simply dismissed it with a "oh, that's not true" type of statement. As though he wanted to indicate that it is not possible to have differences with an entire religion or group, because that wouldn't be very nice. (And we all know that being nice is what America and Christianity is all about, right? May I suggest the book No More Christian Nice Guy to those who may have missed the sarcasm of the preceding sentence?) Mr. Wallace also seemed flustered and defensive throughout the interview. He seemed unaware that many statements had religious overtones that I, as a viewer, would've liked him to follow up on. Perhaps the main stream media really is oblivious to the fact that deeply religious people will hold their loyalty to God in higher regard than their loyalty and duty to any one government or people. Perhaps they don't get it that when a people's governmental goals align with their religious goals, it will be very difficult to stop them from achieving those goals, no matter how small the country.
The reason our governmental structure has been as successful as it has been, I believe, is because of it's Christian underpinnings. It is difficult to espouse freedom when your religion demands that everyone must convert or die. I would submit to Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad that my religion allows you to take your time and investigate other religions because it is the truth. "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." Christianity allows you to be of your "same opinion still" for as long as you have time in the world without threatening you with death if you don't convert immediately. Islam does not.
Mr. Wallace also missed several points where I thought, he is telling the truth, as he sees it. I have no doubt that he loves all the people of the world and wants them to get along peacefully - as members of Islam. I also have no doubt that what he thinks of as peaceful and what I think of as peaceful are not even close. I'm sure that he would regret the necessary deaths - of all infidels. Not enough to prevent them, because that would go against Islam, but he would regret it deeply that they chose not to swell the ranks of Islam by refusing to convert.
In his letter to President Bush, it seemed to me that there was a call to conversion throughout that letter. (Very evident in this passage on page 7: "Will you not accept this invitation? That is, a genuine return to the teachings of prophets, to monotheism and justice, to preserve human dignity and obedience to the Almighty and His prophets?" See here for the letter. Maybe I'm reading that incorrectly, but it seems like a call to the president to recognize Jesus as being just another prophet as Islam does, instead of being one part of a triune deity, which is the Christian belief.
I also found it very interesting to watch the segment on the 60 minutes web-site where Mr. Wallace is giving his "take" on the interview. He speaks with a closed body position, much stern hand shaking and anxious knee rubbing. When referencing Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad's insistence that the Jewish people should have been given Germany instead of Israel, Mr. Wallace has a smirky look on his face and there is a photo flashed of Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad greeting (or being greeted by) another man giving him a kiss. While I have heard that this is a perfectly acceptable greeting between two men in that culture, it is certainly a photo most likely to cause unfavorable associations in ours. My point is that when I watched the segment with the sound off, I received the impression that he is uneasy about the content of what he is saying and that the show had some hostility toward the Iranian president. Once I turned the sound on though, he was full of praise for the way the Iranian president conducted himself. See the segment at this link.
Perhaps this is the mainstream media's gut reaction to anyone of faith now, look interested and then make them look bad in editing. A rather passive-aggressive approach and perhaps they are truly unconscious of it in this case, but it was badly done.
I believe that this Iranian president is a deeply religious man who will act according to his principles. We know what those principles are. I think that given the opportunity, he would wipe Israel from the face of the Earth and us along with it in service to his God.
I could be wrong. I do tend to look at things from a Biblically centered perspective (at least I try to). I may be reading too much religion into the whole situation between our countries. After all, I'm not psychiatrist, an intelligence officer, an elected official, a journalist, a Biblical scholar or even a veteran. (My thanks and prayers go out to those who serve.) I'm just a Midwestern mom who is trying to stay informed."
OK, it's Alex again: Thanks Mom, I think you're not alone in your impressions of the Iranian President. I've said as much here before: we really ought to take this guy at his word. I hope you don't mind I edited a little and made some of your links embedded in the post.
For the record, you don't have to be any of the above professionals to understand what's going on in the world. You need to have brains in your head and the heart - the courage - to use them. Lots of experts possess the former, yet imperil Freedom with wrong assumptions due to a lack of the latter. I've heard Dr. Rice's comments replayed two days running now that we should "hope" that Hizbollah lays down their arms, but that it is not our job (that of the UN, specifically) to disarm them. If that's the best we've got - if we're reduced to hoping that tyranny will leave peace-loving people alone - we're doomed.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
It started back when Bush had a Ramadan celebration at the White House.
How odd that he was the first, I recall thinking. One would think that surely Clinton would have had the first celebration, but maybe the White House was booked full (after all, it's the holidays, and rooms fetch a premium at that time of year) during the Clinton years.
I couldn't quite put my finger on what bothered me about it, until one of my brothers in this blog pointed it out (Samuel or Webster, sorry guys, I can't remember which of you it was): to speak and act as if Islam is a legitimate religion is intellectually dishonest. Now, I'm certain that those weren't the exact words used, but that's the gist of it.
See, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the "big three" - the three largest monotheistic religions, and furthermore, all claim to worship the same God. That, my friends, is the rub. We know quite obviously that Jews and Christians worship the God of Israel: the one true God. We share a common faith heritage, namely what Christians call the Old Testament. I'm not a scholar on Islam - yet - so I can only speak in generalities of what I know of that religion, through limited study and personal observation, and the Quran.
I've read certain passages of the Quran and it advocates beliefs and actions that are inconsistent with the one true God as revealed in the Old and New Testaments. To claim that the same all-powerful, all-knowing God would offer such different guidance (on even seemingly mundane topics, such as divorce) is illogical. My growing conviction is that the religion of Islam is false. This doesn't mean that there aren't many very good Muslims who certainly just want to raise their families in peace and in fear of God.
Personal observation over the last twenty years also leads one to the natural conclusion that the violent tendencies of Islam - in the name of Islam - are incompatible with the one true God; not, however, that one needs twenty years of history to come to that conclusion. Apologists will of course suggest that there are extremist elements in all religions, yet, Jews and Christians (nor Hindus or Buddhists, for that matter) aren't routinely killing "infidels" in the name of their religion. It just doesn't happen.
So what does this mean? I'm not sure yet. I'm planning on diving into some reading on the topic, that's for sure. Before I become inflexible in my resolution, I need to be sure that the evidence supports my position. I am left contemplating three thoughts. First, that when the President has a Ramadan celebration at the White House, or when well-meaning people accept Islam as a valid religion like their own, there is some damage being done: Truth is being devalued. Second, there's a whole other group of well-meaning people who erroneously view current events as a struggle for the "soul of Islam" - some ideological battle being waged between extremists and every other normal practicing Muslim. And third, that tyranny cloaked in religion is still tyranny - and our deference to religious sentiment is extremely dangerous. We give religious beliefs a pass, because of our heritage and the overwhelming connection people have of religion being something positive. That religion in the form of Islam is a source of wrong is something that people must realize before they are able to cast off their politically correct shackles that don't permit criticism of religious beliefs.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
First I want to send out thanks to a kindred spirit, Mr. Light Bulb. Excuse the corny joke, but this is one bright dude. Check out his blog when you get a chance. As soon as I figure out how to add links to other sites here, his will be one that you ought to visit regularly, Dear Reader. Particularly, enlightening - shall we say (I'm going to stop with the bad jokes. I promise.) - was his post on Fauxtography.
OK, I'm off for the evening.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Both forces possess the ability to seriously undermine, and destroy, the Republic; having given this some thought, I'm still unable to determine which is the greater threat.
The first is Islamofascism. Our asymmetric foe - who has no home nation we can strike and fights under a different set of rules than we do - is single-mindedly focused on our destruction, and the lackluster support for our efforts in Iraq bodes ill for the sustainability of a long war. The second is Liberalism, or Leftism, if you prefer. This internal threat, this fifth column, undermines the foundations of our Republic: the Judeo-Christian values and institutions necessary for the survival of a republic.
With the luxury of leisure time, I'm going to devote some energy to delving into these two threats in greater detail. In particular as it relates to the internal threat, I'm reminded of a quote from President Washington:
"The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained."
We are not yet lost. There is time, still, to redeem ourselves and ensure the blessings Liberty are not lost forever, and that future generations do not curse us for our cowardice. The effort will be enormous, and yet it couldn't be any simpler: all it will take is for good people to act and Providence to smile upon us.
Saw this picture on Yahoo, and quite frankly, I'm shocked. They must not be practitioners of the "real" Islam.
Here's the AP caption: "Palestinian gunmen, who identified themselves as members of the Islamic Jihad group, shoot a man in a public square in the West Bank town of Jenin Sunday Aug. 13, 2006. The man, who was executed in front of hundreds of people, was accused by the gunmen of giving information to Israeli authorities, helping them to kill two militants last week in a targeted attack, said witnesses and Islamic Jihad members. The victim was identified as Bassem Malah, 22, who worked in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)"
I am certain that he received a trial by jury in the District Court of his choosing. No, wait, that's the rights that terrorists have in the United States. My mistake, but you can see how it would be an easy one to make.
This is not a movie for kids. The language can be very rough, and the situations are for an adult audience. But the characters - this collection of misfits - learn to pull together for each other and demonstrate the importance of family.
I promise that "Alex's Movie Recommendations" will not become a part of this blog, but I felt compelled to pass along some good news. It's not all garbage, after all, coming out of Hollywood.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
I've got some advice - no charge for this, boys - for the folks at CAIR: a little anger at that number of your religion that uses violence either just because they hate the West, or because they want global Sharia, might make you a little more credible with your average non-Muslim.
I'm still waiting for the rush of outraged Muslims to come forward and denounce terror.
Based upon the number of callers to the Michael Medved show who thought this was either part of a conspiracy or a manipulative power grab by the Project for a New American Century, we're appallingly uneducated in this country on the nature of our enemy and what they want.
Let's take a moment and reflect on what might have been - and I'm of the opinion that murder and attempted murder shouldn't be treated any differently. Reports now say that as many as 10 airliners were potentially part of the plot. This would have been right up there with 9/11 from a shock value and mass-murder standpoint.
Let's all take some time to thank God that this was stopped and pray that He continue to bless this Republic and keep His people from harm.
It appears that a major terror plot was just foiled by the British, and we've moved to red on the warning system. This is a breaking story this morning, so there'll probably be a lot more on it as the day progresses.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Anyone who is unclear on the moral issues at stake in the conflict between terror and freedom should read this piece. Correction: everyone should read this piece. I'm pretty clear on the right and wrong and I still enjoyed his ability to get to the heart of the matter.
You've heard it from me before, and I'll say it again: this is clash-of-civilizations type of serious. We're staring down a major confrontation with Islam, like it or not. We appease, we delay, we postpone such a reckoning at our own peril; the threat only gets bigger with each passing day. And shame on American politicians who suggest neutrality in the conflict. There's not a more despicable position than looking the other way as an ally is threatened because we're too cowardly to face the brutal facts of reality.
Does this sound familiar?
"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist--so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat--so I did nothing. Then they came for the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew--so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left who could stand up for me."
Martin Niemöller, a Protestant minister, who was an opponent of the Nazis.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Ten years ago I was getting ready for my wedding in early May, and decided I'd make a lunchtime trip to the mall for something for my bride-to-be. It wasn't a big deal, nothing special (not wedding-related), but I wanted to get her a little something she'd find funny (I'm pretty sure it was a t-shirt).
I'm doing forty mph on a four lane road, with no dedicated turn lanes (left lane is for left turn, or straight through the light). I was in the right lane, and there was traffic backed up (3-4 cars and a large cargo van) waiting to turn left at the intersection I was approaching. There's a slight bend in the road, which obviously obscured me from the vision of someone who intended to turn left in front of me. He was obscured from my vision too, and only too late to see each other did we hit, almost head on (I hit the front right of his car, he the front-left to center of my front bumper).
We ended up on the far curb, out of the intersection. Luckily, I was wearing my seatbelt (I'm almost religious in my insistence that people in my car wear them) and doubly lucky, the airbag went off. After I pushed the thing out of my face and reached for my phone in the glovebox (there was a time when cell phones were too big to carry around and they were solely for emergency), I staggered out of my car to check on the other guy.
He's staggering out of his car when I see him and ask: are you OK? Which he answers in the affirmative when he takes off running down the middle of the street in the direction from which I just came. Not a good sign, so I elected to stay with my car and not give chase.
Later, the cops would pick him up. No license, no insurance, not his car, not even in the country legally. Lucky me.
What's my point? Not much, except I think it's a good story. Plus it was my first run-in (pun intended) with the costs of illegal immigration. The friction burn from the airbag was gone from my neck by the time of the wedding a couple weeks later - a small price to pay for getting to tell the story every now and then.
Hey, this blog can't be all political, can it? Check out my disclaimer above before you contact the complaint department.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
It's important to resist the urge to describe this man, or his comments, as crazy, insane, or anything of that color. Although civilized people flinch in the face of such candor, and desperately search for some other explanation for his words and actions, it's important to not dismiss him as mentally imbalanced. Ahmadinejad truly believes that Israel should be wiped off the map. He's said so enough times.
Let's take him at his word.
I must stress that we're facing a threat bigger than most people are willing or educated enough to acknowledge. First, the goal of Islam is world-wide Sharia; rule under Muslim law. Every practicing Muslim wants this. Second, a certain percentage deems any actions under the sun justifiable to achieving those ends. If all infidels must be killed to achieve the goal, that's OK with them (and you can call this group Jihadists, Islamofascists, whatever tickles your fancy). Third, the rest of the Islamic world disagrees with the tactics of the Jihadists, but is willing to see if holy war can make it happen.
This is truly a clash of civilizations on the grandest of scales, and we dismiss the severity of it at our own peril. This iteration of the struggle between fascism and freedom has the potential to make WWII look like a playground fight.
So, the "voter lottery" would give one citizen a cool million just for voting.
Now, let's look at this in it's most basic terms. Voting is both a right and responsibility. As citizens, we choose our governors: this is a right of citizenship. The corresponding responsibility is to choose wise and virtuous leaders; to make educated voting decisions: this is our responsibility.
The proposal set for a vote this November trivializes this remarkably important aspect of civic duty to a virtual game of chance. I'm not surprised, however. There is an overwhelming sense of entitlement (just check out the comments of Mark Osterloh in the article, if you don't believe me), and a great book on the topic is Something For Nothing by Brian Tracy. Better yet, read that.
May an epidemic outbreak of common sense strike the people of Arizona and may they roundly reject such folly come November 7.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Lincoln was an amazing leader, and I'm more than a little ashamed to admit that there wasn't much I knew about him (chalk it up to a public school education, if you must have a reason, Dear Reader). He has grown considerably in my mind, to say the least.
So, I've been thinking, if I had to rate the five greatest Presidents, what would that list look like? Highly unscientific, here's mine, and please share yours as well.
1. George Washington
2. Abraham Lincoln
3. Ronald Reagan
4. Harry Truman
5. George W. Bush
The first two are really no-brainers, but I'll elaborate if you insist. Reagan won the Cold War, revisionist nonsense aside. He's the greatest modern President, hands-down. Truman I respect a lot for his courage to use the Bomb. A lot of people tried to convince him otherwise, and taking Japan conventionally might have cost a million more lives. War is a brutal thing, and not for the faint of heart. Which brings us to Bushie, as my dry cleaner calls him (as in: "Oh, Bushie, he try so hard. I don't like that other guy with the mean face." Of course, she was speaking of Jean-Francois Kerry). He was the right guy at the right time. As much as he drives me nuts with this "compassionate conservatism" idiocy, he's done a fine job prosecuting the war on Fascism.
On 9/12/01, if you asked people how likely they thought it was we'd have another terrorist attack, and would it be worse than 9/11, I think you'd have had affirmative responses probably 7 or 8 times out of ten.
P.S. I left out FDR because although he led this Republic through one of the most challenging periods in history, his failure to recognize the threat of Soviet ambition (and spies like Alger Hiss in his employ) exposed this same Republic to the threat of nuclear destruction for the better part of forty years.