Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Value of Human Life

What is the value of human life?

We all have within us a well established concept of the importance and the value of human life. Science tells us that the drive to protect others, especially women and children, is genetic. Survival of the species. Many religions tell us it is part of the commandment from God. In any case it is ingrained into our very soul. Our literature, our history, our religions and even our myths are all filled with stories of heroic efforts to save the lives of innocents.

Perhaps our greatest recent example of heroic actions to save innocent lives are the bravery of the police, the firemen and ordinary people on 9-11.

Throughout our history such stories are legion. The preservation of innocent life, especially the lives of children, is an integral part of our culture. We simply can't imagine any other view point.

Most of the world shares these values, too. That's why there is such outrage over the bombing this morning of Qana, Lebanon. At least 56 people, 34 of them children, were killed during the air strike.

The world is demanding an immediate cease fire. Israel and the United States seem to be the lone holdouts against this move.

Picow blogs on,

    "As the bodies were continuously pulled out of the rubble, the angry outcry has resulted in a cancellation of a planned visit to Beirut by U.S. Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice. Though Israeli military authorities reported that Qana had been used to launch Katyusha rockets into Israel, the resulting death and injury and of innocent civilians has created such a strong backlash against Israel that an immediate and unconditional ceasefire is now being demanded by world leaders, including Jordan’s King Abdullah, who called the attack “an ugly crime”." STORY LINK: CLICK HERE

Meanwhile the Associated Press reports on the implications the attack had on US peacmeking efforts:

    "Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said Sunday she is "deeply saddened by the terrible loss of innocent life" from Israel's attack on a Lebanese village, but she held firm to the internationally unpopular position that a quick cease-fire won't solve the crisis."

    "She said she is working with all parties to try to stop the violence. "Too many innocent people — Lebanese and Israeli — have suffered," Rice said. "Too many people have lost their lives. Too many families are homeless. And too many children have been killed, injured or are living in fear for their lives." "

    " "Emotions are understandably running high on all sides," she said."

    "Hoping to get Rice's message out to the Arab world, the State Department made an unusual request and asked NBC to share its video of Rice's press conference to Arab television stations."


However, Hezbollah has learned a different lesson about the value of human life. It's not the lesson the rest of us share.

Instead Hezbollah has learned that innocent people, especially children are a great asset in war. Innocents can be used as human shields to protect against raids and bombing.

Innocents provide camouflage to hide terrorists and militants. They blend in easily, becoming almost impossible to find.

Innocents are especially valuable when killed. They become both martyrs to the cause of Holy War and they become a mighty propaganda tool to use against the west.

In other words, Hezbollah exploits our own morality and uses it to both weaken our resolve and gain sympathy.

If Hezbollahah hadn't used Qana as a staging ground for their attacks on Israel AND if Hezbollah hadn't used children and innocents as a shield, they could never have gained the huge propaganda victory they had today.

And, perhaps most important of all, Hezbollah has sent Israel and the west a strong message. If you want to root out the Hezbollah fighters you're going to be forced to kill thousands of innocent civilians, mostly children.

A tip of the Wizard's pointy cap to Michelle Malkin who posted the above cartoon on her web site a few days ago. Michelle writes, "One more image, kind of apropos of this report on Hezbollah refusing to allow civilians to leave their village and using mosques in their ambush on IDF soldiers at Bint Jbeil Wednesday."


Doug Mataconis writing in Below the Beltway has links to more compelling evidence of the Hezbollah Human Shield strategy. LINK TO DOUG'S ARTICLE HERE: CLICK HERE




Saturday, July 29, 2006

Holy War

The war between Iraq and Hezbollah has just escalated further. The AP reports that Hezbollah has fired a new longer range rocket deep into Israeli territory. While this is of some concern, the statement released by Hezbollah is even more troubling.

    "With this, the Islamic Resistance begins a new stage of fighting, challenge and confrontation with a strong determination and full belief in God's victory."
Hezbollah named their new super rocket the Khaibar-1. Khaibar is the sacred and holy site of a historic battle between Islam's Prophet Muhammad and Jewish tribes in the Arabian peninsula.


I don't believe this war, which is undoubtedly now entering at least its 1,378th year, will end with any treaty negotiated in the next few weeks.

Khaibar is the name of an oasis located 95 miles of Medina in what is today the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

But in the time of Muhammad, Khaibar was a fertile oasis in the Arabian desert. The Jews had settled and controlled this land, and built an irrigation system that captured runoff and used it to provide water to farms and gardens. The Jews both lived off these farms and established Khaibar as a regional trading center.

Muhammad conquered the oasis in 628, subjugating and enslaving the Jews. For a time some of the Jews were allowed to remain and maintain the farms and gardens, but in return they had to pay 50% of their harvest to the Muslims. Muslims ruled Khaibar under the guidance of Muhammad, who continued to expand his empire. Soon after, the Arab Christians of Najran were forced to accept the same conditions.

The right of the Jews of Khaibar to stay on their former lands was a temporary concession, withdrawn in 640 by Muhammad’s dying wish that the "two religions shall not remain together in the peninsula of the Arabs."

On Muhammad's orders, Khaibar was then cleansed of all non-Muslims.

There is no doubt that Hezbollah wants the new missle to carry two strong messages to the Israeli's.






Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Power, Strength and Beauty of Democracy

If you ever want to have a real lesson on the power and strength and beauty of democracy look no further than Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq.

This morning the leader of the democratically elected government of Iraq marched into the lion's den known as the United States Congress and faced down his critics and allies alike.

Of course his fiercest critics were too cowardly to actually attend, but, hey, they all issued press releases.

Democracy is really a wonderful thing. The citizens of a country actually get to chose their leader. And he or she will likely reflect their views, values, hopes and fears. And it sure looks to me like Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki fits the description perfectly.

While this will come as a terrible shock to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and many other Democrats, Iraqi's are mostly Arab and largely Muslim. I'm just guessing here, but I think they voted for leaders who match their opinions, values and morality.

And, in a democracy, people expect their leaders to represent them in both foreign and domestic affairs. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki came to the United States and did exactly that.
There is absolutely no doubt that al-Maliki knows exactly where the United States stands on the current war between Israel and Hezbollah and Hamas. The U.S. has made their position abundantly clear. And, I am equally certain, President Bush pressured the Prime Minister heavily in their private meetings.

The free and unfettered U.S. press clearly and painfully made the position of members of Congress equally clear to both al-Maliki and the Iraqi people.

When you have 130,000 foreign troops occupying every inch of your country, you know the meaning of pressure!

Still Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki stood his ground and followed the will of his people and his own values and REFUSED TO OUTRIGHT CONDEMN HEZBOLLAH.

Talk about "Speaking Truth to Power!" Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was as diplomatic as possible. In the country of his occupiers, in the halls of their government, al-Maliki stood strong.

To his credit al-Maliki did not outright confront or embarrass President Bush or Congress. He politely dodged the questions, made the speech he needed to make and paid tribute to the United States.

But al-Maliki was no puppet and he didn't let the United States pull his strings. And President Bush was enough of a statesman to understand the Prime Minister's position and allowed him the dignity and honor of having his own views. Just as Bush would any other head of state.

By his actions and honor, Bush elevated Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to the same level as United Kingdom's Tony Blair, who also recently addressed Congress.

Bush may have been privately seething, but he confined such discussions to private meetings and diplomatic channels.

However, Senator Schumer was unable to show the same diplomatic courtesy. Schumer led a boycott of the Iraqi prime minister's speech to Congress, demanding that al-Maliki outright condemn Hezbollah's actions against Israel.


    "I'd like to ask Maliki, when it comes to terrorism, which side is he on?" said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who boycotted the speech.

    "If he can't denounce Hezbollah, which is a group that even the Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians don't like ... what kind of ally is this? I'm very upset about where Maliki is," Schumer said.
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. is equally unenlightened.

    "It makes me question what are we fighting for over there. Is it going to be enlightened leadership of Arab moderates, or the same old nonsense, replacing Saddam Hussein with some other unhelpful government?" said Engel.
Also boycotting the Prime Minister's speech were Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-Manhattan, Anthony Weiner, D-Queens, Nita Lowey, D-Westchester, and Gary Ackerman, D-Queens.

It is sadly obvious that Schumer and company don't understand the first thing about democracy. Schumer must have thought that his meagerly and begrudging financial support of the Iraqi government and the war on terror had bought and paid for a tin leader.

Schumer learned the hard way that al-Maliki doesn't represent Chuck Schumer, he actually represents the people who risked their lives to vote for this Iraqi government.

Chuck, here's civics lesson 101. There is a gigantic difference between a democratically elected leader in Iraq and the near dictatorships in in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Those kings and potentates don't actually have to listen to their people. They'll never face an election. They don't allow free speech or a free press. And their political enemies seem to disappear.

The will of the people actually frightens these dictators. They are frightened of Hezbollah and, to tell the truth, Iraq frightens them too.

This is, of course, exactly why President Bush wanted a DEMOCRACY in the middle east. He wanted the people to have a voice. To have a real stake in their future.

I am proud of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and I'm hoping the people of both America and Iraq are too.

ADDENDUM: 9:00 pm 7/26/2006

I just read a really superb blog entry by pollster James Zogby over in the Huffington Post. It's titled Stop Playing Politics With the War on Lebanon LINK: CLICK HERE. I strongly suggest all Wizard readers pop over there and read it. I'm reprinting a couple of key points below:

    The Senate and House are playing politics with the war on Lebanon and I can't be silent.

    First came the shameful, bi-partisan, one-sided resolutions passed by both Houses of Congress, which gave total support to Israel's onslaught against Lebanon, expressing barely a concern for the hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians killed or the devastation to that country's infrastructure.

    Piling insult on this injury, Senate and House Democrats have insisted that the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki embrace Congress's pro-Israel stance. Should he fail to do so, they pressured Speaker Hastert to withdraw his invitation to have al-Maliki address Congress, or force a boycott of his speech.

    It is a bizarre fantasy, borne of their unconscionable ignorance, to expect the Iraqi Prime Minister to become on ally of Israel. And it is downright shameful for Chuck Schumer to say, "Before [al-Maliki] speaks before Congress and the American people, we ask him which side is he on in the war on terror."

Thank you Mr. Zogby.


    Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    The Tipping Point, Part Two

    I woke up early and full of energy this morning. Cleaning, organizing and preparing for the day. Normally I'm not up early enough to watch Don Imus on MSNBC, but I was able to turn it on today. I always enjoy Imus.

    Chris Matthews was Don's guest this morning at 6:30 am Central Time. And Don Imus and his listeners (and viewers) discovered what I was saying a few days ago in my essay "The Tipping Point," Chris Matthews has gone over the edge. He is way past the "tipping point."

    Imus was simply stunned by Matthews. Poor Chris went on a rant that seethed with nonsensical hatred of George Bush and the "neo-cons." His view of the war in Iraq has colored his every view.

    Chris' rant went on for a full ten minutes without so much as taking a breath. Matthews wove a tapestry of facts, fiction, insults and propaganda. It's not that his view of Bush and American's foreign policy isn't shared by others, or that it is wrong, it's that he can no longer see any action by Bush in an objective light. There's a neo-con monster under every bed in Chris Matthews world.

    Imus finally interrupted him and suggested he take a breath. Then Imus went on to dissect poor Chris, who so clearly had gone off the deep end.

    I'm so sorry I don't have a link or a quote. I didn't make a vid cap. I hope someone did. If I locate something I'll come back and post it here.

    I did make a few notes of the comments by Imus and the crew of the Don Imus Show after the Chris Matthews interview earlier this morning:

      "Chris Matthews is wound too tight."

      "He needs to take a vacation."

      "He needs to go on a news fast."

      "I just hope he's O.K."

      "He's got to calm down."

    Let's hope Chris Matthews can regain his footing. He is a great analyst when he can remain objective.

    Monday, July 24, 2006

    We All Lose

    One of my favorite commentator's here on the Wizard, fkap is a gentleman named John. He drops by from time to time (not often enough) and adds his comments to my essays.

    In reply to my article
    The Tipping Point John wrote, "You say that Israel has made a mistake, but in your left wing bias you don't even mention the terrorists who started this conflict in the first place when they invaded Israel and murdered and kidnapped. Aren't these murderous terroristic thugs that ones who made the mistake?"

    John is, of course, correct. I did fail to mention that Hezbollah and Hamas did start each of the recent conflicts by invading Israel's territory and kidnapping Israeli soldiers.

    Tragically, John is horribly wrong when he asserts that it was the "terrorist thugs" who made the mistake. It looks today like they have done everything right. Not morally right, but strategically right.

    Israel is getting their butts kicked by a bunch of rag-tag Islamic fundamentalist revolutionaries.

    Ralph Peters, normally a conservative columnist, wrote in
    The New York Post,

      "The sands of the hourglass favor the terrorists - every day they hold out and drop more rockets on Israel, Hezbollah scores a propaganda win."

      "All Hezbollah has to do to achieve victory is not to lose completely. But for Israel to emerge the acknowledged winner, it has to shatter Hezbollah. Yet Israeli miscalculations have left Hezbollah alive and kicking."

      "The mess Israel has made of its opportunity to smack down Hezbollah should be a wake-up call to the country's leadership. The IDF looks like a pathetic shadow of the bold military that Ariel Sharon led into Egypt three decades ago. The IDF's intelligence, targeting and planning were all deficient. Technology failed to vanquish flesh and blood. The myth of the IDF's invincibility just shattered."

    It's darn hard to find anyone who disagrees with this analysis.

    And the world is watching and gauging both Israel and The United States. Future actions by other Arab nations, especially Iran and Syria are being determined by these events.

    Borzou Daragahi reports in the
    LA Times,

      "Though embroiled in a bloody war over the future shape and identity of their country, Iraq's Sunni Arabs, Shiites, Kurds and even Christians have unified in condemning Israel over its fighting in Lebanon against the Hezbollah militia."

      "Condemnation of Israel's actions in Lebanon and of the United States as the Jewish state's backer has emerged as a rare bridge issue, cutting across political, ethnic and religious lines."

    I'm not writing today to agree or disagree with John's point that Israel is morally right and that Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist thugs. I'll leave such arguments to other commentators and future essays.

    I'm posting today to say that Israel is losing the battle, the war and perhaps the future of the entire middle east.

    I happen to think that George Bush was right when he said the the best hope for the future was a strong democracy in the middle east that provided it's citizens with hope, a voice, and a real stake in the future. Sadly Iraq is not (and perhaps never was) that beacon of hope. Toppling Saddam may have been a fool's errand.

    But, Lebanon WAS that Democracy. Lebanon had the potential to be that beacon of hope. And through heavy handed, ineffective war, Israel has handed Lebanon, gift wrapped, to the Islamic fundamentalists.

    We all lose.

    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    The Golden Age

    John C. Dvorak continuously writes that we are in "the golden age" of the Internet. And, he cautions, that age is likely near an end. Big money and power struggles will bring an end to the "golden age." I fear he might be correct.

    But today the Internet is rich with content, communication, ideas, resources and, most recently, community.

    I'm actually writing today in order to sneak in a short review of a movie. Now I could just post the review since this is a blog and, in theory, any topic is acceptable for posting. But the stated purpose of this blog is to explore and travel through Cyberspace and examine it's impact on the physical world. And, curiously enough, as I prepared to write my short movie review, that is exactly what I did.

    Speaking of "the golden age" I grew up in the 1950's and early 60's in a small town in Colorado, Pueblo, Colorado to be specific. Many people will tell you that that was the real "golden age" in America. And I have very fond memories of growing up in small town America.

    We had three movie theaters in Pueblo. The Main, the Chief and the Uptown Theater. The Uptown was walking distance from my home. In those days walking distance was about two miles.

    Long before the Internet, long before video games and long before 150 cable television channels, movie theaters had Saturday Matinees "programmed" especially for kids. The Uptown had Saturday afternoon specials with at least two features, a dozen cartoons and a few news reels and featurettes. The show would last four to five hours and cost, perhaps 50 cents to attend! Of course you would buy popcorn, sodas and candy and the theater depended on that income to make ends meet. The whole afternoon might cost a dollar!

    One of my "Golden Age" memories of the 1950's was a very special chocolate available only at the Uptown Theater called "Flicks." This exotic chocolate came in large wafers packaged in rich foil tubes. Flicks was the highlight of my Saturday afternoon marathons.

    Which brings me back to the "Golden Age" of the Internet. A quick search for 'flicks' in my
    Alexa Toolbar brought me to the Flicks Web Site. It seems the company's golden age had also been in the 40's and 50's and had actually gone out of business in 1989. However, someone has resurrected the company and they are back in business today, attempting to once again find a spot in the hearts of American theater goers.

    Again, we see the tremendous power of the Internet. Although you will never find Flicks at a store of theater near you (at least not yet), a number of small candy companies sell Flicks on the Internet! I especially enjoyed the website for the
    Remember When Candy Company who wrote about Flicks:

      "Who doesn't know the chocolate bite size candy pieces so popular at the theatres on a Saturday afternoon."
      "You know the candy business is a funny thing , just when you thought that the Nostalgic candies were all being produced in abundance a new (old ) one will be reintroduced. I'm talking about Flicks, those wonderful chocolate drops that were the very staple on those Saturday afternoon movie theatre adventures. Check them out , They taste just as wonderful as I remembered !"

    I liked the entire concept of the Remember When Candy Company. Bubble Gum Cigars, Wax Lips, Black Jack Gum, Atomic Fireballs!! This wondrous business could not possibly exist anywhere except on the Internet.

    The richness of the Internet doesn't stop with Flicks candy (although that was a wonderful start). I really want to comment on the wealth of "movie reviews" available on the Internet. While Pueblo had three theaters, we had only one newspaper and I doubt it had a movie reviewer. Maybe they had a syndicated review from New York or Chicago, but probably not. And movie reviews on television in those days? Not a chance.

    Perhaps we were better off. We actually had to make up our own minds. But I digress (once again).

    Today we have
    Rotten Tomatoes and dozens of other movie and review websites. A quick glance and I can learn that only 22% of the 130 reviews posted thought this movie was worth seeing. That's pretty rotten, even by Rotten Tomatoes standards. Another click and you can read any review from anywhere around the country.

    But you need not stop there. Just a hop away is
    Technorati and their collection of 49 million web pages (mostly blogs). Type in the movie title in their search bar and you'll get thousands of individual blog entries, just like mine. Technorati may be how you found my blog entry today.

    If you're looking for a movie, most entries will take you over to and the zillions of blogs written there, most by teenagers. I don't pretend to actually understand the allure of My Space. But it's popularity is undeniable. People spend countless hours designing and redesigning their little web homes. Entire industries have sprung up just providing software to customize My Space spaces!!

    Writing is far from a lost art among our youth! Spend some time over at My Space and you'll be amazed and impressed. These posters are bright, engaging, entertaining, funny, insightful and involved. I find it especially interesting that they are so willing to discuss their innermost thoughts in print. I can promise you that NEVER HAPPENED among the teens in 1960's Pueblo, Colorado.

    I now know more about some 19 year olds in Philadelphia than I ever did about my best friends in High School. A few of them did like the move I saw, about 22%, same as the reviewers.

    The movie I want to review is M. Night Shyamalan's
    "Lady in the Water." I thought it was excellent!

    Let me start by explaining I'm not a big M. Night Shyamalan fan. While I thought "The Sixth Sense" was OK, I thought "Unbreakable" was awful, easily the worst movie Bruce Willis ever made (and that is saying a lot). "Signs" was so badly scripted it was laughable and I predicted the plot twist of "The Village" from the opening scene.

    But I disagree with the 78% of the reviewers on "Lady in the Water." I thought Shyamalan really broke the mold with this movie. In his last three movies he had attempted to beat the "plot twist" approach he had already perfected with "The Sixth Sense." He failed badly each time.

    Here, he simply told a straight forward story, and a fairy tale at that. The result was certainly not what movie goers or reviewers had expected. But, taken on its own merits, the result was superb. Paul Giamatti gave what, in my opinion, was an "Academy Award" caliber performance. And Bryce Dallas Howard was wonderful. The supporting cast was all excellent, even the much maligned Shyamalan himself.

    I believe that if you go see "Lady in the Water" expecting to see a wonderful fable and not another Shyamalan plot twister, you'll be surprised and enthralled.

    The only thing that could improve the movie would be a tube of Flicks!

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    The Tipping Point

    We have a real surplus of news. And that is a good thing. I was able to stay "in touch" yesterday with a wide variety of news resources and the flow of information is nothing short of impressive! As usual, the very best resource seems to be National Public Radio, with amazing, in depth stories, coming from the middle east.

    Most impressive is a story on NPR's Day to Day with Alex Chadwick and photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair complete with some of Sinclair's photographs. I strongly urge all Wizard readers to listen to the story and view the photographs. Link: CLICK HERE

    We also have a real surplus of opinions. And I have to believe that is a good thing, too.

    I read a few dozen blogs yesterday, but there are tens of thousands by most estimates. To be certain not all are politically oriented, but many have opinions of the current Israeli ~ Palestinian conflict.

    And the news media is "Chock Full 'o Nuts" loaded with a lot more opinions than actual news reports. The cable news channels are especially guilty of this. Fox, MSNBC and CNN have apparently discovered it's a lot cheaper to hire retired generals and political hacks than real reporters who gather real news.

    Isn't it amazing that each network can, every single hour of the day, locate two different military retires with absolutely opposing opinions on any subject. It makes you wonder how the military ever actually gets anything done.

    I hate it when any columnist/blogger/commentator reaches the "tipping point" in their political view and is no longer able to be objective or even rational.

    You know what I mean. The "tipping point" is when a commentator becomes so obsessed with his or her opinion that he/she can longer be rational or objective about a particular subject. This can happen in any arena from global warming to stem cell research, but it usually involves either the President (and conservatives in general) or the Democrats (and liberals in general).

    Occasionally, going over the "tipping point" can be a good thing. Ann Coulter is a great example. She is so far over the tipping point, she has turned it into an art form. In fact, it's that completely biased view of the world that allows her to be one of the funniest, brightest and most insightful satirists writing today. It's a fine line between irrationality and brilliance.

    Notice I didn't say Ann Coulter was always right in her opinions. By definition, by being over the tipping point, she is actually incapable of being objective. She is often wrong, occasionally downright crazy. But she is always funny, often right on target and always worth reading. If you haven't read her column this week, CLICK HERE

    Don't tell me you haven't thought exactly what Ann says this week, "Most Americans have been glued to their TV sets, transfixed by Israel's show of power, wondering, 'Gee, why can't we do that?' "

    President Bush is certainly most polarizing of all modern politicians. Bush has pushed (or pulled) many commentators and bloggers over the tipping point. I personally have been most disappointed by Chris Matthews on MSNBC, who I believe is one of the brightest and most insightful political commentators around today. But watching Chris yesterday it became obvious his hatred (dislike? distrust?) of President Bush taints his observations and makes them significantly less valid.

    I apologize that I don't have a link to prove my point. His blog (CLICK HERE) doesn't reflect his strong (practically irrational) bias. In fact his blog is so boring it doesn't even reflect his personality. If his show was as deadly dull as his blog, no one would ever watch (and the ratings indicate very few watch now).

    Chris, if you're going to be as biased as Ann Coulter, you need to be a heck of a lot funnier!

    But it is the sum total of all the bloggers and commentators from Coulter to Matthews that leads me to believe Israel has made a huge and tragic mistake in it's current war with Hezbollah and Hamas. Almost every commentator believes the key to Israel's future and to peace in the middle east seems to be a strong, viable democratic Lebanon.

    Israel, in its effort to defeat Hezbollah, has destroyed entirely too much of Lebanon's infrastructure. The democratically elected government will have great difficulty governing or supplying minimal physical or social services.

    Nature abhors a vacuum. But it's a vacuum that Israel has created. And Hezbollah, far from being damaged, is actually strengthened by the current war. Sure, Israel can wipe out all the missiles, blow up the roads and destroy the electrical plants, but each bomb dropped by Israel converts one more heart or mind to the Hezbollah cause.

    When the democratically elected government can't provide services or protect the people, they will turn to Hezbollah. Israel risks winning the battle and losing the war. All bloggers and commentors seem to agree on that, even those over the "tipping point."

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    World War III ?

    I was (and still am) unprepared to comment intelligently on the rapidly escalating violence between Israel, Palestine, Hamas, Hezbollah and now Lebanon. But, as of 9 o'clock this evening, it is rapidly becoming very frightening.

    I seems to me that Israel is over reacting. And I fear that other Arab nations might be forced into the battle.

    I ordinarily don't simply cross-post a link to another blog, but I am tonight. Vigilante has an excellent analysis combined with his usual personal observations. It's titled "Zidane Is a Verb (like "Profane")." I urge you to read it. LINK: CLICK HERE

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    What Happens in Cyberspace...


    A vast armada of diverse interests are readying their ships to blockade the entrance to the Internet!

    Each one of these entities has their own valid reasons for seeking the blockade. Social Conservatives want to fight sin. State and local governments are attempting to protect their tax revenue. Brick and mortar businesses are attempting to stave off competition.

    And, as usual, members of Congress are looking for their next campaign contribution.

    Put them all together and you might just have an unstoppable force. After all the only losers will be the public. And who the hell cares about them?

    In year's past, on-line gaming companies employed the powerful lobbyist Jack Ambramoff who led a tough and well financed campaign against similar bills. But with Ambramoff in jail, many congresspersons are looking for a new sugar daddy.

    And so the House of Representatives is poised to pass House Bill 4411, a bill that would make on-line gambling illegal.

    It's one tough bill. It would blockade on-line gambling web sites. You would be prevented by your Internet Service Provider from accessing thousands of web sites. You would be prevented by law from using credit cards to pay on-line gambling debts. Sites only tangentially involved in gaming would likely be banned.

    It's the first step toward massive regulation and censorship on the Internet. And it's the most dangerous attack mounted so far simply because the arguments are so compelling.


      "John Kindt, a business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has studied the issue, calls the Internet "the crack cocaine" of gambling."

      " "There are no needle marks. There's no alcohol on the breath. You just click the mouse and lose your house," he said."

    But, if you actually believe the government is looking out for your well being, take a hard look at the exemptions and bill supporters.

      "Online lotteries are allowed in the latest bill, largely at the behest of states that increasingly rely on lotteries to augment tax revenues."

      "The horse racing industry also supports the bill because of the exemption it would get. Horse racing states would not be prohibited from any activity allowed under the Internet Horseracing Act. That law written in the 1970s set up rules for interstate betting on racing. It was updated a few years ago to clarify that betting on horse racing over the Internet is allowed."

    Of course the traditional gambling industry are strong supporters of the bill. Las Vegas can't keep what happens in Vegas IN VEGAS, if the gamblers are actually in cyberspace.

    But what happens next? Pornography is the next obvious target.

    Many politicians already want to regulate or stop on-line political campaigning.

    And on-line retailers certainly hurt brick and mortar businesses. Why should the gambling industry be the only one to receive FEDERAL PROTECTION of their business?

    This bill is stupid, ill advised and harms the public. And it ignores the obvious tax advantages of both regulating and taxing the on- line gambling industry, estimated conservatively to exceed 12 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR!!

    Please let your Representative know you do not support this attack on your freedom of choice and you especially don't like this attempt to censor the Internet.

    Let's break this blockade before censorship turns the United States into People's Republic of China.

    *** UPDATE: 7/11/2006 6:00 pm LINK TO NEWS STORY (REUTERS): CLICK HERE ***

      "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House on Tuesday approved a Republican-written bill to crack down on Internet gambling, in what critics said was an election-year appeal to the party's conservative base."

      "The House voted 317-93 to impose a ban on most forms of Internet gambling by making it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites. Internet gambling generates some $12 billion annually worldwide, half from American gamblers."

      "It won support from majorities of both Republicans and Democrats."

    It's an election year. I find it terribly tragic that the politicians can actually gain votes by taking away our freedoms.

    What a wonderful world this would be if a member of Congress could improve his (or her) chances of re-election by voting to end the genocide in Darfur.

    Sunday, July 09, 2006


    Michelle Malkin is writing extensively today about the horrific murder of a 14 year old girl (some reports indicate she was 20 years old) in Nigeria who died at the hands of rampaging Islamic youth. The girl, whose name isn't even known, was stoned to death for criticizing the Prophet Muhammad of "some misdeeds."

    The girl had sought refuge in a Police Station. The police handed her over to the mob without firing a shot.




    Michelle sarcastically ends her column by challenging the left, "I am waiting for the human rights crowd to express its utter disgust over such barbaric religious persecution and am so sure we will hear feminist outrage over this young woman's senseless brutal lynching."

    And so I decided to check it out. And, of course, Michelle is right. There isn't a peep in all of the left leaning blogoshpere, Koz, Huffington, and the big left independents all have other oxen to gore. This story won't gain any traction on the left. The girl was a Christian evangelist in an Islamic country.

    But, The Huffington Post LINK:
    CLICK HERE is busy revealing and discussing the equally horrific terrorist activities of the Iraqi Police revealed today by the LA Times LINK: CLICK HERE. The Iraqi story is much bigger and involves many times the rapes, murders, tortures and "crimes against humanity" than the lone murder, however tragic, of the young Christian evangelist.

    And Malkin fails to even give passing mention of the Iraq story. So maybe Huffington is right to cover the "bigger" story. Or perhaps they are both equally wrong. I'm personally sick of left versus right arguments over what ought to be a universal view of human rights.

    But today's column is actually about an unbelievably clueless and self absorbed blog entry written by Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Connie Schultz. LINK: CLICK HERE The title of Connie's blog entry is "We Are Not Afraid."

    Connie Schultz, as it turns out, is the wife of U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who has announced his candidacy for the US Senate. Ms. Schultz writes:

      "Aren't you afraid?" people ask, usually before Sherrod gives a speech or I show up on his behalf.

      "Aren't you afraid of what they can do to you?"
      Every time we hear this question, we see what a chokehold the politics of fear can have on so many decent people - from university professors to small-town farmers, from stay-at-home mothers to corporate executives. They want to believe in fair elections and a campaign of ideas, but they can see what's coming by who's already laid tracks in this bellwether state.
      So far, President Bush has shown up twice in Ohio to raise money for Sherrod's opponent. Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove, the mastermind of some of the nastiest campaigns in recent history, have made high-profile visits here. Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell is pulling out one hat trick after another to impede voter registration -- even as he runs for governor.
      So, it's not hard to understand why so many Ohioans have nervously pulled us aside or stood bravely in a crowded room to ask if we're scared of what "they" can do to us.
      Sherrod decided to run for the Senate after months of private discussions that included weaving every imaginable worse-case scenario. These were late-night talks in the wake of the 2004 swift boating of John Kerry and nine-hour waits at the polls in parts of Ohio, so it wasn't hard to conjure up our own boatload of ugly possibilities.

    Exactly what in hell does this high profile multi-millionaire couple have to fear? That their opponents will run advertising filled with half truths and slanderous accusations?

    That their opponents ads might contain whole truths and Brown will be embarrassed?

    That Sherrod Brown's ads might be equally vicious, and contain the same half truths as his opponent's ads?

    That President Bush might say bad things about him?

    That the people of Ohio might actually reject them in favor of their opponent?

    Yes, all those things might happen in the United States in a campaign for the US Senate. And you might have to eat some lousy chicken dinners and stay in some cheap motels (although that is unlikely).

    Connie, it's called democracy. It's called "Freedom of the Press." Actually, it's called FREEDOM.

    FREEDOM. It's what the people in Iraq are fighting for, every day. But they really are brave. Running for the parliament there means risking your life.

    FREEDOM. It was a search for FREEDOM OF RELIGION that cost a young girl's life in Nigeria.

    Dear Ms. Schultz, I can promise you one thing. You will never be stoned to death while seeking refuge in a police station.

    And you don't know the first thing about fear.

    Thank God.

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    Happy 4th of July

    Happy 4th of July! Today we remember our heritage and celebrate the amazing freedoms we enjoy everyday.

    Michelle Malkin has posted this portion of a speech given by Zell Miller during the last Republican National Convention in 2004. Michelle felt it was extremely appropriate for Independence Day and I agree.

    "Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier.

    And, our soldiers don't just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home.

    For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.

    It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

    It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.

    It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom he abuses to burn that flag." --- Zell Miller

    As we celebrate the 4th, we try to reconnect with those values and ideas that have brought us to the where we are today. I read a large number of blog entries early this morning and found great wisdom in many of them. Certainly blogging itself has become one of our greatest freedoms. Thousands of us are sharing our ideas, our faith, our values and our spirit with the entire world today.

    It would be wonderful if we could read them all.

    Take some time today to both read the ideas posted by others and share your vision yourself. I'm not sure you could do anything more patriotic.

    the Wizard...........