“In today’s war, our military must be resilient to the high stress that comes with terrorist and insurgent threats. To help them, the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) is sponsoring a trial of the Warrior Optimization Systems (WAROPS) at Fort Carson, Colorado on April 29.”
Joint IED Defeat Organization Strategic Communications, 24 April 2009
Which endeavors were undertaken yesterday in your quest for a meaningful life? If you were productive, inventive or creative America also benefitted from your unique talents. Possibly you planted flower beds, walked the dog, or did a bit of home maintenance in your spare time. The ebb and flow of life in America resides under an umbrella of peace. Our distinct national security allows for your individual prosperity and well-being. The backbone of this security is the American soldier.
Be brutally honest. During the last 24 hours did you remember the American soldier? Did your thoughts travel to our major theaters of operation, Iraq and Afghanistan? The ability for each of you to maintain a normal life depends on the military personnel who willingly move operationally within zones of abnormality. The last time you saw an object along the road did you swerve to avoid an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) ?
End of lesson.
Yesterday Fort Carson administered a trial of the WAROPS training program to 4,000 Army personnel of the 4th Brigade, 4th infantry Division who are stationed on site. As in all things military the training teams are selected for areas of expertise. Marine Force Recon, Army Special Forces and other specialties were involved in training. JIEDDO has lined up the prime rib of the military for this exercise.
The Department of Defense established JIEDDO in 2006. This is the Pentagon’s lead agency tasked with the job of knocking out IED’s as weapons of strategic influence. To train the force, attack the network and defeat the device is the core mission. The exercise at Fort Carson, a distinct train-the-force endeavor.
The military is equipped with physical armament. We are now involved in an upgrade process to equip our latest generation of warriors with the psychological gear necessary for their security. The evolutionary nature of insurgency-based combat environments now requires training which reflects that “the brain and body require equal attention to maintain performance both on and off the battlefield.” To put it simply, man must dominate over the primitive weapon.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
“In today’s war, our military must be resilient to the high stress that comes with terrorist and insurgent threats. To help them, the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) is sponsoring a trial of the Warrior Optimization Systems (WAROPS) at Fort Carson, Colorado on April 29.”
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
It was supposed to be one hell of a photo shoot, and ended up being one Hell -- with a capital "H" -- of a civilian training exercise. On Monday the unmistakable white and blue VC-25 that serves as Air Force One and two F-16 fighter jets, flying low near the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero, terrorized people in New York City and New Jersey. If this had happened over the skies of Anchorage, or even Dallas, it probably would not have evoked the amount of alarm that it did in NYC, a city that witnessed firsthand the World Trade Center buildings falling like the walls of Jericho.
White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera, who is responsible for all operations aboard Air Force One, issued this statement: "Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused."
President Obama's live statement was not as satisfying, neither in taking blame nor in way of apology: "It was a mistake, as was stated. It was something we found out about along with all of you, and it will never happen again." I'll take his word, that he might have heard about the mass panic along with the rest of us, but not that he was unaware of the planned flight.
I have heard of fear therapy, where people who suffer from arachnophobia are made to hold tarantulas or people with acrophobia are coaxed onto the Grand Canyon Skywalk. We don't need Prince Harry to dust off [BBC] his old Halloween costume and lead Holocaust survivors into the high school showers to help them get over their fear of Nazis. It has been a mere 7½ years since that fateful September morning when two jets flew into the WTC. Only later did we hear about the military fighters who were given the order to scramble. Anyone who saw the three aircraft on the morning of the 27th had the right to be apprehensive. They flew as low as 1,000 feet and close enough to office buildings to rattle windows. Those who were in fear for their lives deserve, at the very least, a respectful apology from Obama.
Air Force spokeswoman Vicki Stein estimated the cost at about $300K for AF1 and $28K for the F-16s. She said the flights were a training mission and "would have been flown regardless". That's all well and good. We know our Armed Forces need to perform training missions to stay current and prepared, and that requires tax-payer money. But maybe they should think twice before going for a spectacular photo shoot near the Golden Gate Bridge.
The more perplexing issue is how our own government could underestimate the potential confusion and trepidation of possibly hundreds of thousands of people. This was, after all, a warm spring Monday morning in a city of over 8 million people. The FAA's Capital Region Coordination Center Manager James Johnston said in a memo that the agency was aware of the "possibility of public concern", but demanded secrecy from the NYPD, New Jersey State Police, Secret Service, FBI, Mayor Bloomberg's office, and other agencies under the threat of federal sanctions.
Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels who is now a radio talk show host, sat in on a panel on CNN on Tuesday. He expressed the opinion that he wasn't sure this wasn't some kind of a government test, to see how the city would react under the threat of an attack over their skies. I hear some are already threatening a class-action lawsuit. New Yorkers are tough. They have proven it throughout their history, and especially on 9/11. They need to be concerned about crime, this latest "swine flu", and the economy. They shouldn't have to run in terror because some halfwit wants a souvenir photograph.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
When you think of poverty, what picture comes immediately to mind? I see my daughters. Actually, I see two little babies whom I desperately wished to adopt. Instead, it was just my job to save their lives.
My childhood was spent in Oaxaca, Mexico with parents who were compassionate Protestant missionaries. We spent several days each month visiting the villages which dotted the mountains surrounding Oaxaca Valley. Squatting on dirt floors inside small cane huts and eating hot tortillas was a fine way to visit with friends. I remember the distinct posture of rocking back on my heels slightly to maintain balance. We washed our feet and sandals caked with mud after walking along muddy trails along the corn fields. As a family we collectively loved the people and my fondness for the poor and their distinct cultural underpinnings remains to this day. My parents' hands delivered educational gifts which reside outside of the walls of a traditional classroom.
The day I took the call regarding the babies is etched in my mind. Twin Oaxaca newborns, abandoned by their mother and in desperate need of an emergency rescue. They were being cared for by another poor woman without monetary resources. A week later I was on a flight to take care of the babies. My parents’ home awaited me, albeit they were in the U.S.A. on vacation.
When I picked up the tiny bundles of life their eyes were rolled back in their heads. One baby was responsive but the second, unconscious. She did not stir at all. The caretaker had been boiling rice to feed them the run-off nutrients from the grain. They had no other sustenance. Both girls fit into a very small baby carrier with room to spare. I worked for several days to feed first the one and then the other, back and forth, coaxing them along. With full heads of jet black hair and dark brown eyes the girls seemed identical. I placed a bracelet of colored thread on the wrist of one of the babies to tell them apart so that should they be sleeping I would know which one was due the next feeding.
After the girls were eating on a regular schedule and had developed an adequate sucking reflex I made arrangements with an area lawyer and placed Lauren Elizabeth and Tiffany Marie in an orphanage. Months of legal process stalled when it came time for me to bring the girls home. They were nearly a year old and I saw them one last time. These tiny, beautiful girls never became my own. God had other plans.
Tiny dancers. How is it that creatures so small and helpless etch themselves on our hearts? I fell head-over-heels in love. And as with all things regarding love, not only does it creep slowly into our hearts, but it also can set up eternal residence within the corners of our minds. On the day that I picked up the babies, (dirty and smelling badly) poverty had a face. It became little faces that I loved.
What does poverty look like to you? Does it look like an old pair of shoes in your closet or a bank account which disallows a nice meal at a restaurant? Does it look like the new carpet you cannot afford or the vacation not taken? Poverty has a face. Poverty has a heartbeat and the warmth of flesh. Poverty, looks like little babies drinking rice water instead of formula.
This week, my money goes to Pakistan to support a medical camp for the poor in a region with a 25 percent unemployment rate. The plentiful bounty of America allows us many blessings. My new outfit can wait a bit longer. There are some tiny dancers with pretty eyes in Pakistan. I hope to send them all my love wrapped with the memories of my life.
Monday, April 27, 2009
David Duke is certainly not on my "fantasy dinner list". My personal guest list for the ultimate dinner party retains the names of humane intellectuals and a couple of people with a great sense of humor. So it rather pleased me to read that the Czech police stirred it up the Dukester a bit. I believe in free speech. The police undoubtedly used their free speech pass effectively. Mr. Duke is no longer welcome in the Czech Republic.
It is a waste of valuable time to consider reading anything by David Duke. His book is somewhat inappropriately titled, "My Awakening". Sounds like the title of a horror film, doesn't it? Moving briefly into his self-serving website, I noted these words regarding his book:
"In the last section of his book, David Duke takes us on a journey of the heart."
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Or in this case, the mouth doth spew. Black skin, black heart. Both exist but one is not necessary. Skin tone is just a genetic dispensation, a gift of the generations. But black heart? A definite choice.
The books in my personal library fall in two categories: autographed copies and cherished copies. In readings regarding the issue of American racism early in this century my autographed copy of "Farewell to the Mockingbirds" comes to mind. Written by a close personal friend the stage is carefully and patiently set as the story moves to stunning conclusion. Within the pages, is a most graphic description of the lynching of a black man. Personally, it made me physically nauseated. (pp. 144,145) Nurses have iron stomachs but my own gastric regions twisted as violently as the noosed rope when reading the account.
"Up in the Old Hotel" was given to me by another humane intellectual. This book falls in the cherished copy category and is certainly worthy of my shelf. A chapter titled "The Downfall of Fascism in Black Ankle County" makes for a fine spot of reading. The Jewish man being threatened by the KKK merely purchases a shotgun and a couple of boxes of shells in full view of the men who have threatened him with physical harm. That pretty well takes care of it for him. Naturally, their conviction is about as long as the barrel of a shotgun when it comes to their own hides. This factual account is rather amusing, as I perceive most racists as legitimate cowards.
If you have not read "Farewell to the Mockingbirds" or the aforementioned chapter in the second book, both will give you a greater understanding of issues of racism in our past. Last week, one of the Swofford blog team voiced concern of the video posted which showed a Confederate flag waving at a Lynard Skynard concert. Here is the standard. We do not engage historic revision on this site. We present the facts and are grateful for the journey of the heart which most Americans have taken regarding the melting pot of our generations. America remains a great place to live! But it is a nation which also allows room for the David Duke crowd. Luckily, it appears his audience is shrinking.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Bob Miller will be laying down his sword for a few weeks. Children engaged in multiple sports is the issue at hand. We have all been within that compressed time environment with our children. So Monday, I will be blogging. Naturally, should Bob have a few minutes to spare, you will see his distinct journalism on the page.
After taking approximately six weeks off from active research of Geopolitical Islam it is time for me to return to my studies. So as I write this, I am glancing over at my infamous "stack". It is somewhat of an alien life form which grows, even when ignored. If I were to measure the stack, it looks to be approximately eight inches tall at this point. smile But I am actually looking forward to the process! I miss reading things written by Islamic theorists. And sandwiched between books and articles are notes regarding little rabbit trails I wish to pursue. If my brain were classified as an archive it would be stamped with the word "tornado". It is all in there.... somewhere, if I can locate the thought or the snippet of fact.
All of the above to bring up the following. Should you see sputtering along in the daily posts please return the following day. But it is important that I begin to tackle my stack and return to disciplined study.
-Blackfoot will continue to cover Wednesday and hopefully Tom and Jeff can make an occasional appearance.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
News coming into my email regarding the situation in Pakistan is disheartening. While the international news agencies present one story, the truth on the ground is much different. Hundreds of miles from the identifiable "front line" of Taliban activity, the army of the faithful is paying visits to co-educational facilities and threatening administrators if they continue to educate little girls. Churches and shops are burning. Christians are threatened if they do not convert to Islam.
Perhaps we do not comprehend the war that comes to the doorstep, or a literal threshhold of a family dwelling. Let me place you in the shoes of your Pakistani neighbor. The doorbell rings. The man is polite enough. The message, perhaps delivered in polite manner. Your daughter needs to come home and stay home. She can only move about the neighborhood with a male escort. It is also suggested that her wardrobe needs a bit of a change. As the man leaves, you note he departs in a small pick-up with two men with Kalashnikovs seated in the back. You love your family. Who do you pay for protection? Tomorrow, your daughter, stays home.
These things, have made me pull out the same book again and again in the last couple of weeks. When war comes to the door as is happening in Pakistan the subtle unheeded suggestion soon becomes the plume of smoke from what remains of your home.
In the vast swathe of Pakistan where the tribal regions governed by tribal council, the encroachment of a parallel political force was tolerated and left to its self. These things, seemed far from the seat of government. But the infilitration force now moves into Quetta, Lahore, Karachi and urban landscapes to present the vision of a new Pakistan. The new look of Pakistan will be one of a retrograde polity which brings an increasingly feudal system of governance into the lives of the average citizen. The misery index is on the rise for the average citizen of Pakistan.
The Qur'an supports the concept of government by consultation: amruhum shura baynahum. The business of government is to be delivered as a top-down endeavor whether from the decision of the majlis ash-shura, or for the Shi'a, the decision of a Grand Ayatollah which is then supported and implemented by his cadre of leadership. But the Taliban is establishing governance by intimidation, street by street, fearful response by fearful response.
"He who departs from the community (faraqa 'l-jama-'ah) by (even) a handspan ceases to be a Muslim. (literally, "throws off Islam from his neck.")
Abu Da'ud and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, on the authority of Abu Dharr.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The next two blogs will be written by a former Marine and a current LCDR in the Navy. Tom Gordon will bring his thoughts to bear first. A tandem blog will follow giving my thoughts. Mr. Gordon and I have been on the same page regarding harsh interrogation techniques for many years now, and it has been an issue of discussion over coffee on more than one occasion. We will go ugly, early on the current information being released by our government regarding the administration of our detainee programs.
Do not flinch. Let's all put on our big boy pants and move into the comments later tonight and tomorrow. We need to create a flight vortex on this one. State your case with conviction. This blog will remain a free speech zone. For ease and continuity, we will place all comments under Tom's blog and block the comments from my own. Later tonight, (as the Thursday offering) the two blogs will post and round out the week. There will be no official Friday blog unless something breaks across the news wire in grand and glorious manner, worthy of the Swofford Team.
Do not flinch.
Ignorance as Excuse
Link to topic
I am sorry to see that President Obama shares his constituents’ ignorance of, or disrespect for, history. His decision to grant blanket immunity to the CIA agents and their contractors for the torture and at least two homicides of prisoners is clearly a mistake. President Obama’s rationale is that the interrogators were acting in accordance with legal decisions formulated by the U.S. Justice Department.
The agents, soldiers and contractors were obeying lawful orders when they subjected prisoners to measures that fell short of loss of life or a major organ. The Justice Department said so.
The only trouble with that approach is that we, the American people, have held others to a much higher standard, and the rest of the world knows it, even if most Americans don’t.
Following World War II, the United States held a number of war crimes trials in its sector of occupied Germany. One of the defenses offered by the accused was that they were following orders. They were obeying the laws of their country. We didn’t accept that defense and told them, before we hanged them, that they should have known what they were doing was against a higher law. Why did we hold peasants and teenagers to standards we are not prepared to hold ourselves to?
Some would suggest there is a difference between torturing and killing people because they were Jewish, gypsy, homosexual or in the wrong place at the wrong time, and because there is reason to believe (an extremely loose concept as it turns out) that someone possess information important to our safety. We Americans have spent far too long repudiating the idea that the ends justify the means to suddenly reverse course because it is convenient to do so. We fought the bloodiest war in our history partially to support the belief that all human beings have the right to be treated like human beings. How can we now turn around and say so-and-so is not a human being because he has beliefs that are different than mine?
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, now there’s a man that ought to be in jail, has been zooming around the lunatic fringe, flogging the idea that we have tortured our way to security. Despite thousands of years of evidence to the contrary, Mr. Cheney claims that useful, truthful information was gleaned by putting a person into the position that he will say whatever we want to hear to get out of. He recently called upon the Obama administration to release interrogation results, which, he claims, will show that we got information we needed. That is certainly not going to happen, as he very well knows. Not because the Obama administration is stacking the deck against torture, but because no government in the world releases that kind of information.
Mr. Cheney’s blatherskite misses a very important point. Do we have to act like beasts to be able to live like people? Are there not other ways to get the information? Mr. Cheney, and others like to cite The Peacemaker or the Jack Bauer scenario. They seem to forget that those are fiction; they come out the way the writer wants them to.
We set the standard in the 1940s and 1950s. Now we have to meet it.
Your next door neighbor is an American citizen who was sequestered during a terrorism investigation and released one month later. They recount to you multiple waterboarding episodes, being slammed against flexible walls, enduring stress positions and being subjected to 72 hours of sleep deprivation in a cold cell. This was followed by an intense interrogation session while shackled naked to a wooden chair.
Question: What is your level of recoil to this gritty piece of news?
Read through the scenario again but this time substitute the phrase “American citizen” with P.O.W. or Enemy Combatant.
Question: What is your response now?
If your response varied, it is possible that you might support torture and harsh interrogation as a non-judicial means of dealing with a prison population.
We are a nation governed by the rule of law. We are also a signatory to the Geneva Convention. I just pulled out my military I.D. The front states “Armed Forces of the United States” and also proclaims it a Geneva Conventions Identification Card. Flipping it over are the bar codes which tell all about “me”, that I am a “Geneva Convention Category IV”. My category, due to my billet as a nurse, is not one of P.O.W., but a distinct designation as retained medical personnel. In examining this rather small piece of plastic I have always commented to my girlfriends, “This does not mean that I won’t be raped or otherwise brutalized if I fall into enemy hands. It merely reminds me that when it happens, Americans are better people and WE (always said with emphasis) don’t do such things.” Having received P.O.W training and read many stories of our Vietnam Vets who survived with honor in spite of their brutal interrogations my own comfort was always that of a psychological nature. Should I ever suffer in such manner myself, it would be with a smug bit of recognition that “we” were not engaging the same activity against our P.O.W’s, or in this case, Enemy Combatants.
Apparently, my altruism and innocence does not match reality. The reality is that members of the C.I.A. and some who wear the cloth of the nation have lost moral clarity. I find it repugnant that a few SERE instructors did not decline their assignments to teach these techniques. What ever became of issues of personal conscience? I also find it a bit surreal to imagine medical personnel involved in assessing that things not go too far. If medical personnel are involved as monitors against taking things too far, the obvious is already apparent.
Think not for a moment those within chain of command structures unafraid to spit across this moral line are incapable of spitting in your own face next should you present as the next threat. We preserve these rights for our prisoners, so that they are preserved for the rest of us. We hold to a standard so that should our own men and women in uniform become P.O.W’s we can speak from a position of negotiated strength to seek the welfare of our own. We have lost that strength, with these revelations.
Sure, averting new attacks remains the highest goal. But not at the expense of what it means to be an American. We are not beasts of the field. We are not sadists. We are humane in the face of danger. But beyond the immediacy of a need for a prosecutorial investigation is to examine what happens in the domain of the law of unintended consequences. The inherent risk to our soldiers and sailors in the field has been increased because of these revelations. The military, should have stood in rank on this issue. We should not have dirtied our hands.
These realities remain:
*America was attacked on 9/11 in a brutal and undeserved manner.
*In our custody are men who possibly retain information of vital importance to our national security.
*We will be attacked again. It is not “if” but the “when” and the “where” which eludes us.
*We need better HumInt field officers. An ape can be taught to waterboard a prisoner, but an ape shouldn’t be in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Let the C.I.A. keep their apes. I don’t give a damn about them.
I love my nation. I wear the cloth of the nation with pride. But this officer must speak up against torture.
Damned Right, it is Wrong!
LCDR Tammy Swofford, USNR, NC
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain-climbing, camping, photography, and the enjoyment of natural scenery will all, surely, figure in your report. So will the wilderness as a genetic reserve, a scientific yardstick by which we may measure the world in its natural balance against the world in its man-made imbalance. What I want to speak for is not so much the wilderness uses, valuable as those are, but the wilderness idea, which is a resource in itself. Being an intangible and spiritual resource, it will seem mystical to the practical minded -- but then anything that cannot be moved by a bulldozer is likely to seem mystical to them.
Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste.
Not many people are likely, any more, to look upon what we call "progress" as an unmixed blessing. Just as surely as it has brought us increased comfort and more material goods, it has brought us spiritual losses, and it threatens now to become the Frankenstein that will destroy us. One means of sanity is to retain a hold on the natural world, to remain, insofar as we can, good animals. Americans still have that chance, more than many peoples; for while we were demonstrating ourselves the most efficient and ruthless environment-busters in history, and slashing and burning and cutting our way through a wilderness continent, the wilderness was working on us.
For an American, insofar as he is new and different at all, is a civilized man who has renewed himself in the wild. The American experience has been the confrontation by old peoples and cultures of a world as new as if it had just risen from the sea. That gave us our hope and our excitement, and the hope and excitement can be passed on to newer Americans, Americans who never saw any phase of the frontier. But only so long as we keep the remainder of our wild as a reserve and a promise -- a sort of wilderness bank.
Sherwood Anderson, in a letter to Waldo Frank in the 1920s, said it better than I can: "Is it not likely that when the country was new and men were often alone in the fields and the forest they got a sense of bigness outside themselves that has now in some way been lost. Mystery whispered in the grass, played in the branches of trees overhead, was caught up and blown across the American line in clouds of dust at evening on the prairies. I am old enough to remember tales that strengthen my belief in a deep semi-religious influence that was formerly at work among our people. I can remember old fellows in my home town speaking feelingly of an evening spent on the big empty plains. It had taken the shrillness out of them. They had learned the trick of quiet."
We could learn it too, even yet; even our children and grandchildren could learn it. But only if we save, for just such absolutely non-recreational, impractical, and mystical uses as this, all the wild that still remains to us... We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
THE SWOFFORD LENS:
We have met three times in six weeks. Mohammed is from the Hashemite Kingdom, has held jobs within the Department of the Interior, served as a regional governor and also worked as a translator for a military hospital in Saudi Arabia. Pulling a map out of his pocket on Sunday his index finger traced a main thoroughfare through Jerusalem and stopped at the Knesset. "My ancestral home was 120 meters from that building. They stole our land." During each visit, the same four words tucked somewhere into the conversation: "They stole our land."
Israel Statehood: May 14, 1948
For high drama by political pranksters nothing will come close to the nose-snubbing behavior which will be seen in Geneva during Hatefest II. The United States and six other nations have declined representation for what exhibited its self as a definite political cluster nearly eight years ago. As usual, the U.N. whipped up another political declaration written with disappearing ink. It appears measurable outcomes are negligible and the rhetoric remains the same.
Yes, Americans! It is time for “Durban II”, better known as a United Nations World Conference Against Racism. (WCAR) Luckily, it appears a majority of the racists will be in attendance.
For light fare, merely preview the graphs in the link below. Then allow me to share brief thoughts regarding this conference.
Please view graphs: pp: 6,7 and 19
It is amazing how one man summed up in five words the simple solution for racism.
"Love thy neighbor as thyself."
In a post-British colonial environment there also existed a secondary humanitarian upheaval which is significantly similar to what was required to secure a homeland for the Jews. Take a look back and consider the British Partition of India. The modern Muslim-majority nation of Pakistan was also birthed with equally bloody clash and internal displacement. In this case "mujahirs", Muslims migrating from India, massacred their way into statehood by putting to flight millions of Hindus, a unique civilization in their own right. The Hindus also fought their darndest, but the Muslims took the trophy for the win. It hasn't been pretty since then either, for Hindus in Pakistan.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks freely regarding his hatred for the State of Israel. But it is interesting to note that the invective displeasure directed toward Israel is never redirected to acknowlege that the same tactics were used by the Muslims whilst surging into the Western horn of a newly recognized territorial domain to create a new social order of their own. Possibly the hundreds of thousands of displaced Hindu families would also like "their land back"? Can we just move along folks? The British gifted two distinct civilizations with the gift of national autonomy. But one of the two, appears to be receiving the worst rap. Turban II appears to be playing out as expected.
Possibly the exit of the British from the world of colonial empire-building should have been accomplished with treaties written upon toilet paper. The global community has been cleaning up the crap ever since then. But as far as racism? It is only dealt with on individual basis. We each..... know our own heart. And a knowingly compromised U.N. Conference will not make a whit of a difference.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Scandalous! Absolutely! Is anyone else appalled at the actions of the children of a lesser god? Love of money, baby! It is the root of all evil.
It seems the children and relatives of Martin Luther King, Jr. are sucking the last little bit of marrow out of the bones of a dead man.
There is no journalistic wrap provided by the King children which changes the truth of the matter. They are greedy clods of dirt. The legacy of a great man is better preserved by the power of his words and a slow assimilation of his ideas as opposed to the image of the continuous swipe of a Daddy's Bucks charge card being used by the King progeny.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Have you ever felt your backbone? I'm not talking about the one that physically holds your head erect, but the one that lets you hold your head a little higher. Have you ever saved another person's life, while your survival was questionable? The truth is that few of us civilians receive the God-given opportunity to feel our backbones. That's right: God-given. One of the greatest triumphs of the human experience is to face our fears and to overcome them.
When I think of "hero" I think of our military. These men and women have seen malevolence up close, and still put on their boots in the morning. However, heroes come in many forms, and heroic acts don't have to be incredible. Think of the mother who is afraid of heights and rides a roller coaster with her teenager. Or the man with a speech impediment who gives a presentation at work. I've lately seen [youtube] Susan Boyle on every news show. How many of you could stand in front of an auditorium full of people and sing? Add in three jaded celebrity judges. Miss Boyle is a champion for the common man. David vs. Goliath.
We all have the potential for heroism, just as we have the potential to turn our heads. There are a couple of times in my early teen life I wish I could have back. Unfortunately, my backbone was still forming and I turned my head. Believe me, the sounds of a domestic dispute I heard when I was about 14 is etched in my brain.
These days, I hope to have the resolve of Capt. Richard Phillips who gave himself up as a hostage to save his crew, and Capt. Chesley Sullenberger who was the pilot and the last person off of Flight 1549 in the Hudson. It is not only their selfless acts that make them heroes, but their humility and appreciation for everybody else's contributions.
Tammy Swofford is a true American hero. Her careers speak for themselves. She is also a champion of free speech, witnessed on this blog every day. Along with her intelligent and insightful posts, she allows a team of ragtag writers -- Bob, Tom, Jeff and me -- to express ourselves without her censorship, although I'm sure she's often tempted to pull out the blue pencil.
I can see her rolling her eyes as she's reading this, because she is one of those humble heroes I mentioned earlier. Thank you, Tammy, for keeping your blog moving forward for all these years. If the time ever comes when I'm not able to connect two brain cells (no comments, Bob) or when you have to Trump me, I will remain your lifelong fan. God bless you.
Today is the anniversary of Ernie Pyle's death. In the age of receiving news within seconds after an event, let's remember the godfather of all war correspondents. Just think how effective he might have been with Twitter or a blog at his fingertips.
"Who's Ernie Pyle?" Here are a couple of links to get you started:
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The Envelope Please: The Intellectual Midget of the Year Award goes to...Texas Christian University!
America offers one distinct advantage which is not available in some nations. America offers the gift of anonymity. You can be a Catholic, Protestant, Jew, or Muslim and never declare it publicly. It is your choice. You can attend public events and will not be required to declare whether you are a monogamous heterosexual, an alley cat sleeping with anything that doesn't move fast enough, or a gay with a partner. You do not have to declare your love for nachos with extra jalapenos or your bias against fat Medicaid blondes with ankle tattoos. (O.K. Ya' got me!) In America you are allowed a large degree of anonymity in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
Children are sent to universities by parents with open wallets in hand. Why do parents siphon their earnings into the coffers of the universities across our nation? Is it possible they desire their progeny grasp aspects of maturity which cannot be learned at home?
Dear old Dad and Mom love you, warts and all. But guess what? Outside of the home, love and respect are earned commodities. "Growing up" can include joining a university community and moving into a dorm or student housing. Living in close proximity to people who may not like you, or in fact ignore you, can build character. Sure, they may not accept you because you are gay. But on the other hand, they may really not like you because you are obnoxious about being gay. Welcome to adulthood. I have noticed one thing about the "rights crowd". They are not as gracious as those of us who assume little of our rights yet much of our responsibility to society.
Segregating university students based on a demographic or preference shows a distinct narrow-mindedness within a community which trumpets academic freedom. TCU is also to be faulted for inadvertently turning their campus into a battle ground for "rights" instead of a safe haven for Freedom of Speech.
So why would any parent send their child to a university which segregates based on the least of common denominators - sexual preference? Why would the wallet open to a university which declares any American a special class to be coddled along in motherly fashion? I find the concept of DiversCity Q repugnant on many levels. The campus is to be a place where each individual learns to function as part of a vibrant and cohesive society. It is distinctly unhealthy to begin to pockmark the campus with separate housing units because of the cacophany of the emotional toddlers.
For their myopic focus, a distinct dampening of free speech, and consideration of the creation of a Utopian society where all spoiled kids get what they want: The Intellectual Midget of the Year Award goes to TCU.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The Good Friday [CNN] video of "Mandy K" being attacked in the polar bear exhibit at the Berlin Zoo got my ruff up, even more so when I read that she didn't accidentally stumble in while attempting to snap a photograph. Mandy, the 32-year-old mother of an 8-year-old, had to clear a hedgerow and a fence to access the bear enclosure. Authorities don't believe it was an accident, because she broke up with her boyfriend four years ago and had recently fallen on hard economic times. She was in so much debt last year that the German courts considered putting her in prison, and her electricity was shut off in February. When her daughter went to spend time with her father, Mandy took herself on a little outing to the zoo.
The bear keeper told reporters that the bears would have been shot, had they not been able to rescue the woman, saying: "We have weapons in the zoo in case we have to save a person's life." Now, if there is some level of mental illness, and I can hardly believe there isn't, I have some sympathy for her. But if she is of sound mind, she should be prosecuted for endangering wildlife, and not merely for "trespassing" as she is now charged. There are selfish people who choose "suicide by cop" or who step out in front of trains or Mack trucks to end their lives, leaving others to deal with the aftermath of their poor choices. This woman had absolutely no consideration for these magnificent creatures. Again, if she is legally sane, this woman should receive more serious charges. If not, I hope she gets some help.
Wild polar bears are thriving, according to some sources. There were around 800 polar bears in Canada in the mid 1980s, and there are now around 2,100. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature conducted a worldwide survey in 2005 that estimated their numbers to be somewhere around 20,000 to 25,000. The U.S. Interior Department listed the polar bear as "threatened" in May of 2008. This was not due to a smaller population of bears, but to a substantial shrinking of their natural habitat, polar ice.
This week Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, is [KTVA] visiting Alaska. He visited Dillingham and held a town hall meeting in Anchorage, where he learned more about Alaskans' needs and concerns regarding offshore oil drilling. Alaskans in general have always been aware of the great wealth of wildlife that surrounds us. There may have been a time in our history when we were not great conservators, but at least since statehood there has not been a Papa Hemingway "big game hunter" mentality of "killing them all and sorting them out later". The Alaskan Native culture is very respectful of the land and the people are not wasteful in the practice of subsistence hunting and fishing.
As a civilized nation, we have studied and developed ways to reverse the effects of resource development on native species of plants and animals. There are, of course, changes in the environment wherever there is a human footprint. If we cannot develop techniques to tap into our oil and natural gas resources that are environmentally safe, then we should suspend operations until we can develop more skillful approaches. With modern technology and the expertise of qualified biologists, there is every reason to invest in exploring methods of responsible drilling in ANWR and in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
As for the Good Friday incident at the Berlin Zoo, "Knut" was not involved.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Pakistan’s penal code was originally set up as a document which mirrored British colonial law. Pakistan declared their independence in 1947 and Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the first president of the sovereign Muslim-majority nation. In the 1970’s and under the unpleasant rule of General Zia-ul-Haq drastic changes were set in motion which brought a distinct rigidity to both the governing documents and institutions of Pakistan. The educational system was deconstructed of secular aspects and a more strident religio-political curriculum was set into place even down to the elementary school level. An anti-West and anti-progressive sentiment was sought for the national psyche. This was also a time when Hudood penalties found their way into the Pak penal code. Hudood addresses issues such as blasphemy, theft and yes, family law which includes women’s issues.
Within the Qur’anic text is a protection afforded women against false accusation of zina, or extramarital sex. Additional text bolsters this protection, and it is within Seerah literature that the historical backdrop is found for such ayat. The Qur’an requires any accusation of infidelity to be accompanied by four eye witness accounts to the physical act. But in many locales the text has been twisted into an origami piece of jurisprudence which is used to incarcerate women who are actually rape victims. This is especially true within tribal regions where Islam is practiced. But after General Zia’s venture into the unknown realms of the Qur’anic galaxy, it was codified hell-to-pay against women.
Can’t produce four witnesses to a rape? Well, Darlin’, it is obvious you commited adultery or fornication instead. The metal prison doors have slammed shut across Pakistan since a bastardization of family law was allowed. In 2003 it was estimated that eighty percent of the women in Pakistan’s prison were incarcerated for failure to prove a rape charge. Let this sink in: failure to prove a rape charge? Can't the victim just head home? (Statistic from the Pakistan National Commission on the Status of Women). What ever happened to good old-fashioned DNA from a rape kit? Don’t get me started on how many brave women probably also received a good lashing to boot. The whole thing infuriates this nurse and it begs a question: Would any woman in her right mind ever admit to an assault with such potentially dire consequences? Suffer in silence Pakistani women.
When I was a young nurse my eyes beheld a marvelous wonder in a county hospital emergency room. A young lady had been brought in for a rape exam and was cradled…. in the arms of her father. Both of them, were crying. Isn’t that the way it should be?
Welcome Pervez Musharraf to the stage. The Women’s Protection Bill passed the National Assembly in November of 2006 and was signed into law. It removes rape and adultery issues from the Shari’ah courts and moves them into the kinder and gentler civil court venue. Even so, the deck is still stacked against the weaker of the species. You have heard me say before and it will forever pass my lips: Thank God for being born an American woman!
The Swat Valley is now under the control of the Taliban, a group of men who are hostile to fifty percent of God’s creation. Oh, possibly they do not see it as hostility: they see it as an act of social justice, their ill-conceived plans to turn the region into a place where the echo of women’s laughter is only heard within the walls of their own homes. Their intimidation is now being felt in Lahore, which is a mere one hundred miles from the Swat Valley. Store windows are beginning to display signs forbidding female children entrance to the premise. And when Lahore collapses, Islamabad will feel like the new Pusan Perimeter.
When the Talib made their way into Kabul they sent all of the working women packing home. This collapsed the health care system. Seventy percent of these positions were held by women. Little girls were forbidden to attend schools. This increased illiteracy rates. Some zealous patriots painted the window panes of homes so that the women could not look out. Surely an unreasonable madness entered society. We can never condone as “culture” what are excessively oppressive restrictions on any segment of society. Little girls and women in the Swat Valley are soon to experience a taste of a cultural whip. Let me stop for a moment. Hear that whizzing sound? I just threw my shoe at Baitullah Mehsud.
Do you love little girls? I certainly do. But when Pakistan falls to the Taliban shed tears for the women. It will become the world’s largest women’s prison.
Report: The Taliban's War on Women
The Threat to our Nation
Monday, April 13, 2009
Human societies, like human beings, live by faith and die when faith dies.
“But what about you? He asked. Who do you say I am?”
-The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 8:29
So it is official, folks. We are NOT a Christian nation. That sounds like check mark number two completed on the “fundamentally change America ‘to do’ list”. It would be easy for me to ridicule the president’s Carter-ish last couple of weeks, but for #%its and giggles, let’s assume he’s correct on this one. So what?! In the scheme of things, does it matter to God?
Maybe not. The story of Jesus Christ has thrived for over two thousand years under a myriad of rulers and systems of government. That the U.S.A may, or may not, have been founded by Christians likely did not go unnoticed by the Almighty. As a nation we are limping to reach a quarter of a century. I suppose, should “a nation” let his contract lapse, he will be somewhat disappointed. But what I’ve read about the dude gives me the impression he’s a detail guy. Jesus had this uncanny nature and seemingly bad habit of picking people out of crowds and using modes of communication that somewhat defied conventional wisdom of the time. Grouping humans is a human trait, not a Godly one.
I get the feeling he really doesn’t NEED a Constitutional Democratic Republic as much as we do. One could actually argue this whole “freedom” thing has made us just a little lazy and ineffective. C’mon, we know where I’m going. Take a step back. Survey the landscape. Take into account all that is happening. Now, read Mark 8:29 again and consider its context and setting. I did this in church this morning, glancing back and forth in my note guide from the bulletin handout. It hit me pretty hard. “Being” Christian has been really easy for us, and those days are going away very quickly. Imagine how hard “witnessing” will be when threats are real, rather than the manifest nervousness of worrying someone might see me publicly praying in a restaurant before dinner? Secular historians know and admit of his existence and his death. The challenges mounted to debunk a resurrected Christ are weak. We too are weak, though. Have we been sufficiently tested? Take for example the challenge often made that “I think this Jesus was a good guy and a great moral teacher but…I don't buy he's God”. How does one respond?
“A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell.
You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
-CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
Recently I read that Ronald Reagan was drawn to and fascinated by the stories of atheist and agnostic, conservative intellectuals who converted to Christianity. Some of the names include Malcolm Muggeridge, Wilhelm Roepke, and Frank Meyer. Reagan also studied Alexander Solzhenitsyn. A late, great friend of this blog, Dr. Ben Michael Carter, followed their discovery path as well. You see, in the end the human spirit can only obtain temporary fulfillment by seeking to control one's surroundings. Faith is more than emotion, more than intellectual pursuit, and more than physical works. Such an enlightened devotion is a threat to the collectivist state.
Our nation is moving quickly toward an environment in which spiritual conviction is met with great disdain by the establishment. What today is only uncomfortable in confrontation will unfortunately become heated. As individuals we owe it to ourselves to be prepared.
Was he a liar, insane, or right?
For in this century, within the next decades, will be decided for generations whether all mankind is to become Communist, whether the whole world is to become free, or whether, in the struggle, civilization as we know it is to be completely destroyed or completely changed.
For Reading: The Intellectual Origins of Reagan's Faith (by Paul Kengor, Ph.D. 4/30/2004)
Sunday, April 12, 2009
As many Christians have a day of rest and reflection on Easter, the chaotic world keeps turning. Families are cleaning up in the aftermath of natural disasters, like the earthquake in Italy. The hostage situation off the coast of Somalia remains unresolved. American families are mourning the losses in the wake of the recent shootings. Young Nick Adenhart's family will grieve his death at the hands of a drunken driver. There is violence in Sri Lanka, Peru and Mexico. People are dying from disease in Africa. People suffer the consequences of oppressive regimes. Human rights are being violated every day.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." - John 3:16-17
As my family gathers together this Easter, happily and full of health, we will pray for our fellow man. God bless you all, no matter your beliefs, no matter your needs. Amen.
Little girls in Easter dresses,
Do you hear the echo?
White House Easter Egg Roll,
Do you hear the echo?
Easter bunnies with big bow ties,
Do you hear the echo?
Ham and fixin's, cakes and pies,
Do you hear the echo?
"He is not here: for he is risen as he said.
-Come, see the place where the Lord lay."
Happy Easter to each of you!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
On 04 June of 2005 I attended the Association of Muslim Social Scientists 4th Regional Conference at Southern Methodist University. I attended with the recommendation of a scholar from Chicago. AMSS was founded in 1972 as a means to preserve the Islamic intellectual heritage.
The conference presentation was, “Islamic Medieval Scholars and Their Impact on the West.” It was a delightful event, with Dr. John Esposito as one of the keynote speakers. Equally fascinating was the cadre of Muslim men who either assisted in chairing the event or gave presentations on various topics. Men such as Dr. Nazeer Ahmed (a Chief Engineer for the Hubble Space Telescope) and Dr. Ibrahim Syed, Ph.D, D.Sc., FACR come to mind. Also in attendance was an area cardiologist with whom I had worked in the past within an ICU environment at an area hospital . Dr. Yusuf Kavakci, a noted Turkish scholar and a former Pakistani ambassador were present. And then of course, scraping the shallow end of the gene pool, people such as “moi”, an Islamic social science intellectual midget.
I have been away from my Islamic studies for approximately six weeks and am just moving back into research. This necessitates looking at the disaster zone which I lovingly call my personal library and culling through files. Finding the booklet attached to the AMSS event has given a few pleasant moments of reading today. So let me bring another blog on Islamic Distance Learning and introduce you to a famous Muslim scientific mind. Let’s take a peek at the life of Al-Battani a noted astronomer and mathematician.
Al-Battani was born in 858 A.D. in Harran, Turkey but later moved to Raqqa, situated along the banks of the Euphrates river. In his forties he relocated to Samarra, where his research and life work continued until his death in 929 A.D. The contributions he made to the scientific world include the following:
*He rectified several orbits of the moon and the planets and his observations of lunar and solar eclipses were used by Dunthorne in 1749 to determine the secular acceleration of motion of the moon.
*Al-Battani introduced the use of orthographic projection for resolution of spherical trigonometry problems.
*He was the first to replace the use of Greek chord sines and developed the concept of cotangent and furnished their table in degrees.
*His book “Zij” was translated into Latin in the 12th century as De scienta stellerum – De numeris stellerum et motibus with an old translation retained by the Vatican. This is a famous book on astronomical treatise. His work was extremely influential in Europe up until the Renaissance, with translations available in several languages.
The AMSS conference was well-attended and a luncheon was prepared by area Muslim women. Delicious! Haven’t a clue what I was eating beyond the serving of rice, but I tried it all. The one downside to the conference was the one rabble-rousing attendee who came armed with his one Jihad ayat from the Qur’an and his slingshot in hand to take a pot-shot at a Ph.D. scholar who had more activated brain cells than the majority of us in attendance. Read my lips. Don’t attend any event merely to be the intentional jack-ass. Stay at home and bray at home.
But back to Al-Battani. I am grateful for men who have been given the gift of intellect, reasoning and the necessary curiosity to figure out how things work. As for me, I merely flip the light switch and expect the wires in my house to perform in more intricate manner than the few wires in my own brain. smile Should you ever have opportunity to attend an AMSS conference in your area it is worth the fee.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Bob Miller finds inspiration for his writing from movies. Jolly for you, Bob! Tammy Swofford finds her inspiration for blogs from..... er, cartoons.
"Pinky and the Brain" places the viewer smack dab into the middle of the escapades of two free-wheeling lab rats. In less than thirty minutes "The Brain" concocts a virtually fool-proof means of taking over the world. In a countdown to the final seconds of operational execution and with barely more than a respiratory drive coming from his brainstem, "Pinky" screws things up and disaster ensues. This is a cartoon series for thinking adults. Theory models are rapidly built by "The Brain" that attempt to extrapolate human responsiveness to his schemes without much scholarly effort put into process. The plans look good on paper but success is evasive. At the end is glorious upheaval, a fatal flaw is discovered and a trip back to the drawing board is required.
The G-20 Summit was interesting from the public sidelines. Here are just a few highlights.
*The membership gave a rousing cheer for the current U.S. plan for a surge in Afghanistan. Such is the confidence level that we can expect a few non-essential personnel to be the "contribution" from the majority. Golf clap, please. President Obama doesn't take the hit for this one. He inherited the challenges which are traditionally passed from the predecessor in the Oval Office to the new incumbent. But Americans need to know the measurable benchmarks for a "win the war" scenario to bring the troops home from this theater of operation. What does a "win" look like in Afghanistan? Ask the Soviets. They thought the whole thing looked easy. What we can anticipate is to manage an operational stage for a bit longer. Occupying forces never win in Afghanistan. They endure. History bears this pattern out. Word on the cobbled Muslim street is that Karzai has avoided assassination only because of the American presence in Afghanistan. Pakistan has her own political toilet to scrub. The whole region is FUBAR, and that is that.
*If you pick up a dog by the ears you will be bitten. President Obama should not meddle in the EU and their membership process. Turkey remains an unwelcome addition on several levels. He doesn't have a dog in this fight. He overplayed his hand on this issue.
*Can the President travel abroad without feeling the need to stage at least one self-affirming pep rally to secure his rank as an "internationalist"? I am beginning to feel like I am watching "Obama: The Movie". Perhaps on a psychological level I feel defrauded that our President is projecting an American Idol image. It cheapens the office. The English have a tradition of pageantry attached to their monarchy. I am a bit envious of the dear old Queen and the staid Brits at this point. More decorum Mr. President and less rah, rah, rah. I want the world to respect you, and dare I say it? I want the world to fear you just enough to sweat should they consider harming me and my family. Read my lips! You are not a friend of the whole wide world. If you wanted that warm-fuzzy feeling, the Peace Corps would have been a better career choice. You are the Commander in Chief of the combined military forces of our nation, the final say on our nuclear arsenal, and the reason we hope to sleep well tonight. Didn't lose any sleep under Bush.
*It appears that the G-20 leadership held their respective stances and gave little in allowances on any side to the United States. Chess pieces did not move. That is good because the new administration is still young. The chess pieces will move under a more experienced hand. Until then, the status quo is not necessarily undesirable.
This brings me to a final reflection, a very tender one.
*Can an American President who seems to struggle with his own fragmented identity as an American first, adequately represent the interests of the American People abroad? President Barack Obama seems apologetic as opposed to patriotic. He seems conflicted about America. This bothers me, guys. Stand up and shout Mr. President: I am an American! That echo must be heard across the world from the one who was elected to represent us.
Pinky and the Brain
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
bow (bou, baʊ)
1. to bend the head, knee or upper body in reverence or shame
2. to cease from resistance; to submit or yield
from Old English būgan; akin to Old High German biogan "to bend" and Sanskrit bhujati "he bends"
Tomorrow begins the Jewish observance of Passover. In America, we respect this as a major religious holiday that is hand-in-hand with Easter. Similarly, we respect Hanukkah as a holiday that coincides with Christmas. Judaism is commonly recognized as the world's oldest religion. While I have Jewish friends whom I will wish a peaceful Passover, this Sunday I will join other Christians around the world in commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We will bow our heads in prayer in church and hold feasts in His honor, and in observance of God's Sacrifice for us. We will gather our children around us and read New Testament scriptures. We will answer their questions, as best we can, about how God could let His own Son be crucified. Our society has adopted several secular and pagan customs, which include [allthingsgerman.net] Osterhase, as well as colored eggs and Peeps. Yes, it's fun to pull the colorful baskets out of storage and fill them with chocolate and toys for our children to find on Easter Sunday, but it is, most importantly, a day when we teach them the Message of Christ.
The Muslim world does not revere the life of Christ in quite the same way, but they do recognize His existence, including His virginal birth and the miracles He performed during His life. To them, Jesus is simply God's messenger, a prophet who predicted the coming of the Prophet Muhammed, the Comforter. Islamic belief does not include Christ's crucifixion, let alone His resurrection. They believe Christians were tricked into believing Jesus rose from the dead, and that Romans grabbed the nearest bearded Jew on the street, since "they all looked alike", and made an example of him. The sayings of the Prophet Muhammed predict that, in the end, Jesus will speak to the world and convert us all to Islam.
When we consider the statements President Obama has made during his first journey to the Middle East, it seems to me he is securing his sarcastic moniker "The Messiah", the nickname which still makes me grimace. To tell Muslim nations that "we are not a nation of Christians" is misleading them. It's true that we do not set our laws in accordance with the Bible, but we were founded on and largely live by Christian ideals. I agree with Obama's statement that there are misconceptions and stereotypes in our views of their daily lives and in their views of ours. However, there is one big difference: We are free to independently study and research any nations and religions, at will. We are free to worship, freely, any religion we choose, without fear of persecution.
The symbols most Americans equate with Muslim life are men with beards and women who dress in hijabs and burqas. Americans, as a whole, are respectful of religious freedom. On Ash Wednesday, non-Catholics politely nod and smile at Catholics who wear the previous year's palm ashes on their foreheads. Throughout the year, the Amish of Pennsylvania, the Hasidic Jews in New York, and even the FLDS in Arizona honor their religious beliefs with their appearances. Men wear beards and women's hair is considered their crowning glory. I am not drawing parallels between these different belief systems, other than to say we recognize that there are some similarities in the external choices. Average Americans are very accepting of beliefs that are foreign to their own. It is only when there is abuse or when human rights are violated that our collective attention is drawn to the peculiarities.
Obama's foreign policy message is that he wants the world to forget everything his predecessors have done or said, almost as if he wants them to deal with him as if he is the very first American president. The oft-repeated "reset button" phrase, which Hugo Chavez recently picked up on, will not erase or repair our past relations. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. With all due respect to his heritage, I do not appreciate Obama's statements regarding our past "mistakes". Not one to beat a dead horse, I am drawn to the similarities between our current president and the Dixie Chicks. (An appropriate analogy for Easter week?) They are moderately talented musicians who bashed our president, and thus our country, while on an overseas tour. Obama is a moderately talented politician who has bashed our country while on an overseas tour.
I am a patriot who likes to believe that every president has done what he thought was best at the time, even if history shows that there may have been better options. May President Obama remember that history will also be his judge.
[YouTube] American President Obama bows to Saudi King Abdullah
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Monday, April 06, 2009
Education is a state-controlled manufactory of echoes.
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)
Does anyone else wonder how long it will be before all GSA-listed employees are required to drive GM vehicles?
I saw something in my son’s Texas History textbook last fall that really stuck in my craw. Now, either I read way too much into a steaming pot of water on the lighted stove, or I’m unfortunately and completely correct and every one of us is unknowingly just a pair of tongs away from tasting like chicken.
From “Celebrating Texas: Honoring the Past, Building the Future" (McDougall, Littell):
The following is a margin callout on page 592, in chapter 28’s “Chapter Assessment” page:
The federal government cannot supply every need of every citizen in the country. For this reason, Texans rely heavily on state government for many important laws and services.
County government helps meet those needs not covered by the state or local government. Many times, special districts also are set up to help fill the gap between state and municipal governments.
Municipal government is the most personalized level of government in Texas. Besides being easy to access, it has a major effect on people’s day-to-day lives.
Does anything stand out to you…anything at all? Now I could be bat-$### crazy, but their "State Government" section sure reads like a socialist's dream justification for keeping "state government" around. I would point out that the pages' main text does little more to address what "needs" are. Which "level" did they list first, and how does the author of a book filling up your little “skull full of mush” go about explaining government’s existence?
I’ll tell you one reason it really bugged me. It’s not just that it’s written from a blatantly socialistic mindset, but that a large majority OF US have no idea stuff like this has been consistently crammed down our kids’ throats for over 50 years. Who’s going to challenge it? If they do, then a large percentage haven’t the slightest inclination to challenge the top-down and anti-Constitutional bias. Keep in mind this textbook is in use in a conservative suburb of a conservative state in the bourgeois Bible belt. Imagine what's on page 529 in Cooke County, Illinois...most likely something glowing about Stalin or Che Guevera.
It is disingenuous to suggest or argue that Democrats hate war. On the contrary, they love it. As long as we’re mowing down Christians and political conservatives, war is a beautiful thing. I only came to remember this textbook discovery last week as I began to ponder the rapidly growing number of ways in which the left has set itself up to be perpetually supported.
When you get in the car to drop the tricycle motors off at the government-subsidized school being taught by unionized teachers, count the number of GM’s Chevy’s or Buicks in the parking lot. Ask yourself how likely those folks are to vote for someone who likes “limited government”.
We have been eating this bilge for decades now. Merely 15 years ago, voters sniffed the [healthcare] take-over wind and mobilized to stop the threat of government encroachment. There seems to be little stomach for confrontations now, even though the need for such resistance is greater than ever. The socialistic element has been so persistent and unyielding over the years that most of what is taught ignores the unique and compelling aspects of the American experiment.
In fact, I and a female friend of similar age discussed this. She went so far as to set me straight by explaining that, though she was sorry I wouldn’t like to hear it, the president is “over” all of the governors. Is that so? Whether I liked it or not, anything decided in the states but disputed had to be kicked “up” to the Federal level. Are the states nothing more than convenient divisional provinces for us peasants to be filtered and sorted?
I find it shocking how a Wes Cravenish crowd of leftists, criticizing wars on two fronts, has no problem employing manipulative, underhanded strategies to entrench and galvanize their hold on a once-free society by indoctrinating youth against the founding principles fought for by thousands upon thousands of soldiers.
Arrogance apologies and tele-prompter marathons by Barack Obama...
Textbooks by Tokyo Rose.
Sleep soundly, little ones.
The advantage of a classical education is that it enables you to despise the wealth that it prevents you from achieving.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
WHAT PAKISTAN MUST DO:
Pakistan has two years. It will be over, or it will be a new beginning. Pakistan is ruled by one path and two forks. The path is an Islamic one, conceptualized by Muslims within India in the early years of the twentieth century and made reality near mid-century with the British Partition of India. The path can survive, if the forks off the path move to the tip of the fork to withstand the forward movement of the Taliban. These forks, are the powerful landowner and military class. Unless they begin to converge for the good of Pakistan, go ahead and say good-bye now.
The landowner class: They must cease the pillage of the national treasury. USAID, loans from the IMF, etc. must be directed to the needs of the impoverished. This will be difficult, as the example has not been set by the current president, "Mr. Ten Percent" and many of the top political "talent". Corruption and graft which brings large areas of population to the brink of starvation causes civil unrest. These things are tricky you know. Getting the theft/benefit ratio just right can be difficult. Provide just enough for the poor so that they don't squawk. The theft ratio fell off the cliff years ago in Pakistan. Al-amr bi'l-ma'ruf wa n-nahy 'an al-munkar. Hard to enjoin the good and forbid the evil when engaged in corruption.
The military class: Pakistan should consider administering the oath of office to every single military officer again, in individual manner. This should follow with a day when the oath of office is then administered publicly and in mass demonstration, televised for all to see. Ulu l'-amr: holders of legitimate authority. The military, has legitimate authority. Immediately following, the officer community should begin to rigorously court martial every bastard among them who provides material support, information or harbor to any sectarian group which seeks the destruction of the central government and the national unity of Pakistan.
WHAT ISRAEL MUST NOT DO:
An unknown terror group ran a false flag operation this week with the hatchet death of one Israeli child and wounding of another. The reason I say "false flag" is because the group claiming responsibility is a rather unknown entity, "The Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh." Hezbollah's top operative Mughniyeh's death will be avenged but it will not be by cracking open the skull of a thirteen year old child. It will be a distinctly rank-for-rank endeavor. There was no Hezbollah mastermind behind this isolated incident.
So what must Israel not do? There should not be a hasty military response. Israeli intelligence must take the lead on this one, to capture and bring penalty to bear on the sole perpetrator of the murder. A false flag operation which seeks escalation of tensions must be viewed through the proper political lens. A measured response to this incident is prudent. And to the families: my condolences and continued hope that the perpetrator will find himself behind bars.
Friday, April 03, 2009
LCDR Tammy Swofford, USNR, NC