Sunday, February 25, 2007

What Do WE Stand For?

Two interesting education stories caught my attention today.

First a tip of the Wizard's pointy cap goes to Federal Judge Mark Wolf who dismissed a suit by two families who wanted to stop a Massachusetts town and its public school system from teaching their children about gay marriage.

Wolf courageously ruled on Friday that public schools are "entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy."

Judge Wolf's ruling shows that the U.S. legal system and the American people are ready to provide a broad based, open and intellectually honest education for our children.

Wolf wisely concluded, "Diversity is a hallmark of our nation."

Or, to state is very bluntly, we're not going to allow fundamentalist Christians dictate our public education.

For some time now we've strongly rebuffed the continuous assaults from fundamentalist Christians. We've rejected mandatory, teacher led, prayer in school. We've fought off attempts to require the teaching of pseudo-science alternatives to evolution. We've fought against book burning and banning of great literature by fanatics from all corners.

But are we prepared to take the same stand against the Muslim fundamentalists?

In the second education story to catch my attention, The UK Telegraph reports that
Islamic leaders have accused British schools of failing to accommodate the needs of Muslim children.

The Muslim Council of Britain criticized the public schools for not tailoring many aspects of education to meet the strict Islamic requirements of students.

The Muslim Council has provided a lengthy list of demands that include everything from the elimination of many mixed classes of boys and girls....

..... to restricting sex education and the elimination of all discussion of homosexuality and banning all sexual visual aids in classes.....

..... to providing private changing rooms and seperate showers for physical education.....

..... to providing meals in all schools that meet strict Islamic dietary requirements.

Further, the Muslim Council has urged the British Government to build prayer rooms and avoid scheduling exams during Ramadan, when many pupils are fasting.

Some of these requests seem very reasonable. U.S. schools generally plan vacations around major Christian holidays, like Christmas and Easter.

And meeting society's generally accepted standards for modesty has already led many U.S. schools to eliminate communal showers.

But where should lines ultimately be drawn?

These new Muslim demands follow a British Government review which said all pupils should be taught core "British values" to promote good relations between communities.

But many of these British "core values" are a direct affront to basic fundamentalist Muslim beliefs.

But, as the court case in Boston clearly illustrates, some American "core values" conflict directly with the teachings of fundamentalist Christians.

From the UK Telegraph, here is an overview of the Muslim requests:

"Many of these issues relate to aspects of schooling such as collective worship, communal changing, swimming, halal meals and sex education.

"It is essential that positive account is taken of the faith dimension of Muslim pupils in education and schooling.

"Unfortunately Muslim pupils are sometimes placed in situations where they feel pressured into acting contrary to their beliefs and conscience and also experience Islamophobic sentiments and comments within schools."

Sex education for Muslim pupils should include "Islamic moral perspectives" when covering issues such as sexual orientation and behaviour, the guidance said.

"Girlfriend/boyfriend as well as homosexual relationships are not acceptable practices according to Islamic teachings," the document said.

Sex education classes should be taught in single-sex groups, by a teacher of the same gender, and "the use of sexually explicit videos, pictures and objects" should be avoided.

The document also said that school uniform policies should allow girls to wear a head scarf and full-length loose skirt and that boys should be allowed to grow beards for religious reasons.

School caterers were urged to provide halal meals, storing and preparing halal food separately, and labelling it clearly in canteens.

As a society today, the United States is struggling with the demands of Islamic groups even as we routinely reject similar demands from Christians.

We provide Federal Public (taxpayer) Funding to artists who place cow feces on a painting of the Virgin Mary or who place a crucifix in a bottle of urine.

Yet, virtually all American media refused to even publicly state their support of the Danish cartoonists who portrayed Mohammad, let alone reprint their illustrations.

We are an accommodating and understanding people. We tend to respect the rights and beliefs of all people.

Yet we also cherish and support work of rebels like Amanda Marcotte, who fight daily (and in the most aggressive and profane language) against the restrictions of Christianity.

If and when a Kareem Amer appears on our shores to inflict the same assault on Islam will we support him like we have Amanda in her running battle with Christianity?

And if Judge Wolf someday issues a court order against the beliefs of Islamic families who object to certain school curriculum, will we support him?

We are going to have to face these issues. WHAT DOES THE UNITED STATES STAND FOR?




Thursday, February 22, 2007

How They Spent Their Day

Here's a brief follow-up on the two bloggers we profiled yesterday.

If you will remember, both these young bloggers attacked their government demanding changes, insulted and vilified religion as oppressive to women, and personally insulted the President.

Well today, one blogger, Amanda Marcotte wrote several new blog entries, one titled
Abortion is a Moral Good.

I think that abortion is not only a good thing, but I’d like to posit that it seems to me that in the vast majority of abortions, the choice made was the most moral choice for that woman.

Another thought provoking blog entry claimed that Republicans have only one issue: women having sex and how to stop it.

And we wonder why people think that the Republicans own “morality”, because apparently the only issue of great moral importance is the fact that women are having sex and someone needs to stop them.

She also made a television appearance over on MSNBC and she was interviewed on National Public Radio.

Our other blogger, Kareem Amer, wrote.......

Oh, wait..... he didn't write anything. Amer was was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, three years for insulting religion and and fourth year for insulting the President.

Kareem lives, attended school and wrote in Egypt. Amanda in the United States. Kareem insulted Islam, Amanda insulted Christianity.

Amanda is suffering under the iron fist of justice American Style, while Amer is learning about justice in his native Egypt.

From the Washington Post:

An Egyptian blogger was convicted Thursday and sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam and Egypt's president, sending a chill through fellow Internet writers who fear a government crackdown.

Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 22-year-old former student at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, had been a vocal secularist and sharp critic of conservative Muslims in his blog. He often lashed out at Al-Azhar, the most prominent religious center in Sunni Islam, calling it "the university of terrorism" and accusing it of encouraging extremism.

Nabil's lawyer, Ahmed Seif el-Islam, said he would appeal the verdict, adding it will "terrify other bloggers and have a negative impact on freedom of expression in Egypt." Nabil had faced a possible maximum sentence of nine years in prison.

I wonder if Amanda realizes she won the lottery?

She had the good fortune to be born in a country that treasures its dissidents rather than imprison them.




Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Tale of Two Bloggers

The Technorati Home page proudly proclaims "55 million blogs, some of them have to be good." And it's more than true. I frequently catch myself surfing through MySpace and I'm constantly amazed at the quality and depth of writing on the millions(???) of teenagers and ever pre-teens who post there.

Writing is no longer a "lost art." If anything we are chronicling life in 21st century as never before. And it's a world wide phenomena. We can catch a peak into the daily lives of everyone from soldiers stationed in Iraq to students in Japan.

Today I want to write about two of these young people who write about politics and religion. Like most youth, both these bloggers, one man and one woman, are idealistic, full of hope and eager to fight for those they believe are oppressed. Both want to see society changed for the better.

Both writers are smart, articulate and well versed in the technology of the Internet and the world of blogging. Today, both are relatively famous, and both are well read, at least in blogger terms. After all, there are 55 million blogs and we can't read them all.

The similarities don't stop there. Both are crusaders for women's rights. And both take on established religion as an oppressor of women. To say this ruffles the feathers of conservatives is an understatement. Both have been accused of writing "hate speech" in their attacks on religion. I personally have been very hard on one of the two bloggers profiled here today.

Both also are quick to attack the government when they feel the government is wrong. This is especially true when they see their government officials side with religious leaders in an effort to take away the rights of women.

They both absolutely refuse to support a President they believe is wrong, wrong headed and stubborn. They cannot and will not blindly follow a President who is leading the country in the wrong direction. They both are quick to fight for free speech and against a government they feel is involved in denying people their basic legal rights. They hate the abuse of power they see coming from the top.

Once again, their positions and their harsh, sometimes hateful language has made them very unpopular with conservatives, who fight back. The conservatives attack these bloggers political and religious positions, their language, their lack of respect for authority and their outrageous writings with equal force and vitriol. Conservtives accuse these bloggers of being unpatriotic, even of being traitors.

But, you know what? If you read as many blogs as I do, you quickly discover that there are an awfully lot of young people who feel exactly the same way as our two profiled bloggers. These young people write about the same things.
The marketplace of ideas is rich with great young voices.

One of these two bloggers has recently had some great difficulty because of their blogging.

O.K., it's time for me to admit that one of these two bloggers is
Amanda Marcotte, who I have personally accused of writing hate speech right here in my blog. But let's give Marcotte some credit. Marcotte believes she must be strong and gutsy and bold and forceful to make her points. She is fighting for women's reproductive rights against a church and religion she believes only wants to subjugate women into subservient roles.

She is fighting a government and a President she feels is guilty of taking our country into a misguided war. She is fighting against the torture of prisoners, the rights of those in prison to receive representation and the rights of all Americans to receive honesty and justice from their government.

Now Marcotte may chose to use verbal atomic bombs where another writer might use rapier sharp logic and wit, but she is still fighting for the causes for which she believes.

But Marcotte is not the one in trouble. Unless you consider media adoration, millions of new readers and a faithful, vocal group of ardent followers to be a problem. Sure, she lost her job with the Edwards campaign, but her voice is stronger and more vibrant than ever. In many ways she will now be a more effective voice for her causes because of the visibility the Edward's flap gave her.

No, the blogger in trouble is Abd'al-Karim Nabil Suleiman, better known by his pen name
Karim Amer. Karim Amer has done exactly what Amanda Marcotte has done. He has blogged for the rights of women against a repressive church. And he has lobbied in his blog for changes in the law to assure that all people, including all women, have the same basic rights. And he has been vocal in his attack on the President.

Amer's problem is that instead of blogging in the United States, where such rebels land jobs advising presidential candidates and receive numerous television appearances, Amer is blogging in Egypt.

In Egypt, such blogging land you in jail, in solitary confinement for months, without any legal representation, without charges being filed and without any contact to or from your family.

Now charges have been filed against Amer, he faces nine (9) years in prison or possibly much worse. Under sharia law he could actually face the death penalty.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both been active in demanding Amer's release. Amnesty International writes:

Amnesty International today called for the immediate and unconditional release of Karim Amer, the first Egyptian blogger to be tried for writing blogs criticizing Egypt's al-Azhar religious authorities, President Husni Mubarak and Islam.

Karim Amer, a former al-Azhar University student and blogger, is facing up to 10 years in prison for his writings in a trial that resumes today. Charges against him include "spreading information disruptive of public order and damaging to the country’s reputation", "incitement to hate Islam" and "defaming the President of the Republic".

"Karim Amer's trial appears intended as a warning by the authorities to other bloggers who dare criticize the government or use their blogs to spread information considered harmful to Egypt’s reputation," said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme. "This is particularly worrying as bloggers have increasingly been posting information about human rights abuses in Egypt, including torture and police violence against peaceful protesters."

Amer is on trial now with a verdict possible as early as today. And the situation looks grim. In a posting on the FREE KAREEM! website his lawyer writes, "I am very pessimistic about the verdict."

To make matters worse, Amer's own parents have turned against him. From the Free Kareem! website:

The family of Al-Azhar student Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, accused of “contempt of religion”, has disowned him before his court verdict session on the upcoming Thursday. His father, a retired mathematics teacher, has demanded applying the Sharia [Islamic law] ruling on him by giving him three days to repent, followed by having him killed if he does not announce his repentance.

The father of the Al-Azhar student, who is accused of contempt of the Islamic religion, harming the reputation of Egypt, and inciting to disrupt the peace and to overthrow the regime, has decided to rescind from boycotting his trial hearing sessions.
[He has decided] to attend the court verdict session with his four brothers, who completely memorized the Holy Quran, to announce disowning the accused Abdul Kareem inside the court room, in order to reduce the embarrassment and pressure that civil rights organizations are applying on the court panel.

The father of the accused also described the organizations that are working on having his son acquitted as “monkey rights” organizations, in his own words. He also described his son as the “monkey” who has imitated the atheists of the West in their intellectual thinking.

The family also said that they will announce their disownment of their son on the Internet as well.

The Dean of Sharia in Al-Azhar University, which the student Abdul Kareem attends, had him attend a disciplinary hearing after he attacked the Islamic religion on the Internet, and spoke against the Messenger of Allah – peace and blessings be upon him – and the companions [of the prophet of Islam].

This is a tragic story and one that may have no happy ending. Kareem Amer will never return home. He will likely face either prison or extradition from Egypt to a foreign country, away from family, his university studies and his country. Because he is accused of insulting Islam, he may face constant death threats and a lifetime of hiding.

Fortunately there is international outrage. There is great pressure on Egypt to change laws which forbid free speech. There is pressure to allow and permit blogging as a method of free expression.

From the Human Rights Watch website:

“Charging someone for the peaceful expression of their views is sadly not new in Egypt,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “By curbing a blogger’s freedom to post, the government may be trying to close an important space for Egyptians to speak openly about events and issues that worry them.”

I urge you to add your voice to the efforts to secure basic freedoms throughout the world. To join us in the fight to free Abd'al-Karim Nabil Suleiman. I urge you to support Amnesty International and Human Right's Watch in their efforts.

Let's make sure everyone has the same rights you, I and Amanda Marcotte have.




Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Walter Reed Hospital and The Washington Post

I keep trying to decide if my opinion of our three cable news networks could possibly drop any lower. As I watch the wall to wall "live coverage" on all three networks of today's Anna Nichole Smith hearing, I realize that there is no depth to which these bottom feeding slime won't go.

Thank god MSNBC interrupts the coverage every few minutes to replay the footage of Britney Spears new bald look.

I feel badly for Smith's extended, dysfunctional family and especially the remaining daughter who deserved much better from life.


There is real news. There are important stories. There is real tragedy. There is human suffering. There are people abused, abandoned and tortured. And while we couldn't possibly ask a reporter to leave their hotel in the safety and comfort of the Green Zone, how about just visiting Walter Reed Hospital in (relatively) safe Washington, D.C.?

My good friend David (famed world traveler and ex-CIA agent, at least according to Randi Rhodes over at
Air America) called me late last night to make sure I was aware of the horrific situation at America's premier military medical facility. David had been corresponding with Randi, who made the story a centerpiece of yesterday's broadcast.

While MSNBC, FOX and CNN were using there very expensive on-air talent to cover the ongoing Anna Nichole Smith saga, two real reporters from The Washington Post, Dana Priest and Anne Hull, were investigating the absolutely dreadful conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The first of their series of reports can be found here:
Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility (free registration required):

Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

This is the world of Building 18, not the kind of place where Duncan expected to recover when he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Iraq last February with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, nearly dead from blood loss. But the old lodge, just outside the gates of the hospital and five miles up the road from the White House, has housed hundreds of maimed soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The common perception of Walter Reed is of a surgical hospital that shines as the crown jewel of military medicine. But 5 1/2 years of sustained combat have transformed the venerable 113-acre institution into something else entirely -- a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients. Almost 700 of them -- the majority soldiers, with some Marines -- have been released from hospital beds but still need treatment or are awaiting bureaucratic decisions before being discharged or returned to active duty.

Of course the real scandal here is not the pathetic news coverage by the cable news networks, it's the pathetic health care offered to so many of our military personnel who sacrificed life and limb in service to this country.

The Post articles have already gotten results. From
Editor and Publisher:

"The facility's commander, Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, said Army staff members inspected each of the 54 rooms at the building and discovered that outstanding repair orders for half the rooms had not been completed. He said that mold removal had begun on several rooms and that holes in ceilings, stained carpets and leaking faucets were being fixed...."

"Walter Reed and Army officials have been 'meeting continuously for three days' since the articles began appearing,
Weightman said. A large roundtable meeting with Army and Defense Department officials will take place at the Pentagon early this morning to continue talks about improvements in the outpatient system, he added."

The question I have is why did it take two reporters from The Washington Post to get the ball rolling? The President and many Congresspersons and Senators proudly proclaim they visit the wounded. Some visit weekly.

Didn't any of them notice the mold, the rot and the psychologically damaged patients? Didn't any of them demand that the military clean the place up?

Well, my hat is off to the real heroes in this current story, Dana Priest and Anne Hull, and to Randi Rhodes, the many bloggers covering this story and to my friend David (O.K, so he's not really part of the CIA....... at least I hope he's not.... I hate to reveal a covert agent and end up on trial like Scooter Libby).

Oh, and I want to tip my pointy cap to Rita Cosby..... no... wait.... Rita is covering the Anna Nichole Smith story.... my bad.




Monday, February 19, 2007


The Congressional antiwar revolt against President Bush was slightly less successful and considerably less enthusiastic than war opponents had hoped. Only 17 Republicans in the House crossed party lines to vote with the Democrats for a watered down, nearly neutral resolution against the troop surge.

And this was partly offset by 2 Democrats who crossed party lines and voted with the Republicans to support Bush's new, more aggressive strategy.

Never-the-less, the resolution, combined with various Democrat threats to cut off war funding or reduce troop strength, brought out the conservatives within the main stream media to launch a harsh attack on the Democrats, especially the point man, Representative John Murtha.

Liberals and especially the anti-war progressives often complain they are being accused of being "unpatriotic" or even worse, "traitors" for opposing the war and the Commander and Chief. Now these liberals have proof. In writing.

Ralph Peters, writing an opinion piece in the New York Post titled
Cowards Give Up on GI's - & Give Into Evil, said:

PROVIDING aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime is treason. It's not "just politics." It's treason.

And signaling our enemies that Congress wants them to win isn't "supporting our troops."
The "nonbinding resolution" telling the world that we intend to surrender to terrorism and abandon Iraq may be the most disgraceful congressional action since the Democratic Party united to defend slavery.

Talk about taking the gloves off. Peters was unrelenting in his attack. I'm not sure I've ever read anything this strong, this aggressive, in a main stream media publication. Is this "hate speech?" It comes awfully darned close.

Peters continues:

The vote was a huge morale booster for al Qaeda, for Iraq's Sunni insurgents, and for the worst of the Shia militias.

The message Congress just sent to them all was, "Hold on, we'll stop the surge, we're going to leave - and you can slaughter the innocent with our blessing."

Now that Donald Rumsfeld's gone, the Democrats are doing just what they pilloried the former Secretary of Defense for doing: Denying battlefield commanders the troops and resources they need.

That line about Rumsfeld is funny.

Still, in my opinion Peters was out of line. Our Representatives are not traitors. They are struggling to find a reasonable exit strategy. They are also bending to the will of their constituents. Unlike Peters, the public wants the troops to come home.

However, we must be honest. Like it or not, the vote did send a message to both our allies and our enemies within Iraq. Congress must accept responsibility for sending that message.

Peters could be dismissed as the lone gunman of the right, except for the fact he was not alone. The generally liberal editorial staff of the Washington Post took careful aim at Representative Murtha and opened fire with this editorial,
Not The 'Real Vote':

Mr. Murtha's cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq. He continues to insist that Iraq "would be more stable with us out of there," in spite of the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that early withdrawal would produce "massive civilian casualties."

He says he wants to force the administration to "bulldoze" the Abu Ghraib prison, even though it was emptied of prisoners and turned over to the Iraqi government last year. He wants to "get our troops out of the Green Zone" because "they are living in Saddam Hussein's palace"; could he be unaware that the zone's primary occupants are the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy?

It would be nice to believe that Mr. Murtha does not represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party or the thinking of its leadership. Yet when asked about Mr. Murtha's remarks Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered her support. Does Ms. Pelosi really believe that the debate she orchestrated this week was not "the real vote"? If the answer is yes, she is maneuvering her party in a way that can only do it harm.

WaPO was not alone in attacking Murtha. The normally reserved (but always conservative) Brit Hume let go with both barrels attacking Murtha on Chris Wallace's Fox News Sunday (this link takes you to the very conservative Hot Air website, but the full video is there):

That sound bite from John Murtha suggests that it’s time a few things be said about him. Even the “Washington Post” noted he didn’t seem particularly well informed about what’s going on over there, to say the least. Look, this man has tremendous cachet among House Democrats, but he is not — this guy is long past the day when he had anything but the foggiest awareness of what the heck is going on in the world.

And that sound bite is naivete at large, and the man is an absolute fountain of such talk, and the fact that he has ascended to the position he has in the eyes of the Democrats in the House and perhaps Democrats around the country tells you a lot about how much they know or care about what’s really going on over there.

I find Hume's attack much more compelling than the Peter's attack above. Frankly I do believe the vast majority of Democrats are blindly voting the most recent poll numbers without much real consideration about the real situation in Iraq. I've written before that we are at a fork in the road concerning Iraq. There simply is no path down the middle, as much as Congressional Democrats might wish there were.

Not all the main stream media' coverage was negative or vitriolic. But one surprisingly strong "pro-war" piece was found in, of all places, the Los Angeles Times. In a large photo and essay titled
"A Higher Calling Than Duty", the Times told the story of 2nd Lt. Mark Jennings Daily.

Daily has long been a hero among conservatives in the blogosphere because of the post he placed on MySpace. He told this story about why he joined the Army and his mission to help the suffering people of Iraq. Daily was killed in Iraq In death, his words have become a call to service.

From the LA Times article:

In typical fashion, he sought out new points of view. In one discussion, he wrote that he asked a Kurdish man whether the insurgents could be viewed as freedom fighters. The man cut him off. "The difference between insurgents and American soldiers," Daily said the man told him, "is that they get paid to take life — to murder — and you get paid to save lives."

"That Kurdish man's assessment of our presence means more to me than all of the naysayers and makeshift humanists that monopolize our interpretation of this war," Daily wrote in a Dec. 31 e-mail.

Whether they intended to or not, the Times did more to bolster Bush's call for a troop surge more than all the venom spewed out by the angry Peters, the Washington Post or any other of the dozens of critical editorials.

There is a conservative media backlash against the Democrat's anti-surge vote. One poll touted on the Sunday morning news shows (sorry, I have no link) showed that public support for Bush's new strategy was growing, though still less that 40%.

If the media backlash against the Democrats convinces more of the public to support Bush, look for the next round of defections to come from the Democrat's ranks.




Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Road Not Taken

My journeys through cyberspace took me this morning to this, perhaps the most insightful essay I've read about our (the American) situation today in Iraq.

Below I've provided a portion of that essay, very slightly abridged. The emphasis is all mine. I'll discuss the author and provide a link to the full essay below.

There is nothing noble about war. There is nothing uplifting or heroic about fighting one. Individual acts of heroism notwithstanding, war ultimately represents a failure of some kind. For the United States, sleepwalking during the 1990’s while al-Qaeda gathered strength and states like Iraq trained terrorists with utter impunity, it was a failure of intelligence, of diplomacy, of will, and finally a failure of imagination that led to the catastrophe of 9/11.

There is nothing moral about war except its quick and decisive ending. And whether or not you believe Iraq was a war of choice or whether you think it was thrust upon us by the exigencies of the times,
the fact of the matter is we either fight to win – and win as quickly as circumstances allow – or we admit defeat and leave, accepting the consequences of our folly while holding harmless the young men and women who sacrificed much in service to the government and the people.

I say to you that whether you believe this war to be moral or immoral, the actions of the Democratic leadership in deliberately drawing out our withdrawal because they lack the political courage to take a stand on what they believe and cut off all funding for the Iraq War to bring the troops home now constitutes a towering act of moral cowardice rarely seen in Congress. Perhaps the debates over the Dyers Anti-Lynching Bill of 1918 would find an echo in today’s craven attempts by Democrats at avoiding responsibility for the moral consequences of their loudly proclaimed position on the war.

Instead of leadership, we get glitz and smoke and mirrors. Instead of a sober, serious approach to this issue of life and death, war and peace, we get the circus of a meaningless, degrading resolution that states opposition to sending more troops. And instead of bold, clear cut, up or down votes on whether we should stay or go, it appears we are going to get the tactics of the saboteur and assassin; cowardly end runs that seek to undermine the military in ways that even an enemy of this country could only dream.

President Bush, the lamest of lame ducks, whose approval ratings are in the low 30’s, apparently still frightens cats, little children, and the House Democratic leadership.

Was this written by a conservative or a liberal? The answer is really obvious. IT DOESN'T MATTER.

We are at a fork in the road of the Iraq misadventure. There is NO MIDDLE PATH. We must either fully support President Bush and the "surge" strategy or we MUST force the nation to a rapid withdraw from Iraq.

Robert Frost wrote, in 1920, this most famous of all poems:

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The blogosphere author of the essay I've reprinted at the top of the page wrote one more thought I'll share with you:

As House Democrats prepare to open debate on the Iraq war resolution, we have further evidence that when it comes to having the courage of their convictions, the House Democratic leadership has feet of clay.

A "slow bleed strategy?" Whose blood? I daresay it won’t be any of the Democratic leadership.

No doubt the last final entry reveals the author as a conservative firebrand, and, indeed it is. But does it matter? I can't imagine any progerssive or liberal disagreeing with his thoughts and analysis.

Two roads have diverged in a yellow wood, we must choose a path. There is no path down the middle.

Please link over to and read the entire essay by
Rick Moran.




Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hate Speech?

Yesterday afternoon the other shoe dropped and Mellisa McEwan also resigned from the embattled Edward's Presidential Campaign.

Melissa herself so correctly wrote "This is a win for no one."

But what struck me yesterday as traveller through cyberspace was that each side of the blogosphere's debate over Marcotte and McEwan was so vehemently accusing the other side of "hate speech," or "bigotry" or "vile behavior" and, of course, the always popular "censorship."

Now I've already
weighed in on half of this debate. I have already written that I feel both Marcotte and McEwan have engaged in the worst kinds of religious bigotry and hate speech. Their writings are among the most hate filled I've encounted on the web.

But, what about the other half? The counter attack from the left seems to be almost entirely directed at Bill Donohue, the publicity seeking, ego driven head of
The Catholic League.

O.K., you can tell I'm no fan of Donohue. He is, in my never to be humble opinion, paranoid. He can find "anti-Catholic" meaning in a can of tuna. And, it often seems to me, his main goal isn't to protect Catholics, but rather to promote Bill Donohue.

Still, it is an amazing study in style and content to compare the left's attacks on Donohue with the right's attacks on Marcotte and McEwan.

Consistently, the bloggers on the right did two things. They reprinted expansive sections of Marcotte's and McEwan's own writings. And they condemned Edwards for hiring them.

These two ladies were an easy target. They were prolific and were absolutely unrelenting in their attacks on Christians, Catholics and conservatives. To say their language and imagery were colorful would be an understatement.

Often Marcotte's diatribes were very personal and extremely hateful.

The right's reprinting of Marcotte and McEwan was certainly self-serving. Hell, they really didn't need to do much more. The strategy was simple. Expose Marcotte and McEwan for what they were.

But, in all my readings of all the conservative blogs, I never read any demand for anything more than their dismissal from Edward's campaign.

And, usually, you didn't even find that. In fact 90% of the conservative bloggers simply wanted to "illustrate" the type of people on Edward's campaign staff. They wanted Marcotte and McEwan to stay. As long as those two were there, Edwards was more vulnerable to attack.

If you want to really get the flavor of the conservative attacks on Marcotte and McEwan, just read the posts of
Michelle Malkin and follow the dozens of links she provides.

Over on the left the reactions are just now reaching a boiling point. In the last 24 hours I've read thirty or forty blogs attacking the conservative blogosphere and, especially, Bill Donohue.

The most interesting thing in reading these new posts is that they are nearly identical in tone, language and proposals to the posts done by the conservative side.

For example,
Jeffery Feldman, writing over on Frameshop, says the following:

Donohue's cynical attack on Edwards was not only baseless, but also strategically deployed. Donohue's goal was not to inform the public, but to incite a fearful chorus of violent threats--the better to turn his lone voice into a political force capable of defeating a political organization.

But Americans will not be silenced or intimidated by Bill Donohue or his kind.

We will not allow our political system to be overrun by men who use the threat of sodomy, rape and murder to enforce their political views.

America is not some lawless frontier town where the boss with the biggest gun and the meanest wranglers rules the roost.

But in contemporary America, when a man like Bill Donohue has strong ties to major media outlets, a $300,000 per year salary, and the tacit approval of the entire Republican Party--he becomes a powerful person capable of running roughshod on the American electorate.

This has to stop and it has to stop right now.

Feldman goes on to list 5 actions that must be taken to stop Donohue including legal action, investigation by the FBI, and a demand that "All media outlets must cease to invite Bill Donohue on the air."

And I love the comment by C.E. Petro wring over at
Thoughts of an Average Woman:

Hate and vitriol have taken the place of discussion. Yet, the media is silent on this aspect. They were silent on William "Bill" Donohue's own bigotry. Nothing was said about Mitt Romney's decision of where to announce his candidacy.

How the heck did Mitt Romney get into this discussion?

[If you really want to know, and if you would really like to read just about the most stupid and convoluted attack ever written, go ahead and follow this link to
Media Matters.]

But, back on topic. I could go on, probably forever, but let me reprint a bit of
Lane Hudson's essay in The Huffington Post The emphasis below was done by Mr. Hudson in his article.

The ramifications of Bill Donohue and the Catholic League's reckless rhetoric has materialized in the form of death threats to bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan. This is what happens when the ultra-right wing is given the megaphone of mainstream media.

Bill Donohue must immediately rescind his hateful comments against these two young women and call on the hate-mongers, which he is responsible for inciting, to cease their threats against Amanda, Melissa, and their families. Call him at xxx-xxx-xxxx and demand this.

[Phone number deleted by the Wizard]

The left is rightfully outraged by hate emails and threats received by Marcotte and McEwan. I wonder if they were equally outraged when death threats were received by Michelle Malkin, but I digress.

Still, the blog entries, like Lane's above, all focus on the "hate speech" of Donohue. But, unlike their conservative counterparts, not one blog I've read so far has posted a single quote of "hate speech" from Donohue himself. If there are any quotes at all they are from the deranged emails received by and reposted by McEwan and Marcotte

In fact, although many left leaning bloggers accuse Donohue of inciting his base, no one has posted a single quote showing that incitement. Yet almost all advocate their supporters take action against Donohue.

So I went to
Donohue's own writings and read every post and press release on the Edwards, Marcotte and McEwan topic. I then searched technoratti for any other quotes by Donohue.

And guess what? I could not find anything remotely resembling hate speech. The absolutely worse thing Donohue did was to reprint Marcotte's and McEwan's own words and demand they be dismissed from the Edwards campaign.

Donohue may be a jerk, but he never advocated anything other that the absolutely identical demands by writers like Lane Hudson, C.E. Petro and Jeffery Feldman above.

I certainly invite my readers to join the search. Can you locate any hate speech by Donohue in this matter, beyond the demand for Edwards to remove his bloggers from his staff?

If there were a high school debate, the right would win this one on points. They used real quotes, sources, dates and links. The left is only using weird and seemingly baseless accusations.

I cannot close without reprinting one more quote from Jeffrey Feldman:
"Bill Donohue, it seems, has achieved his objective: to use the threat of violence to silence political debate in this country."

What a load of bull!
Donohue never once advocated silencing debate!

But, much more importantly, the debate on these issues is louder, broader, more vigorous and more engaged than ever! Marcotte and McEwan are writing up a storm! And people are reading them. And folks from Jeffery Feldman to the Wizard are writing and talking and engaging in the debate.

If Donohue had wanted to silence debate, he sure as hell failed!




Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why Barack Obama May Be President

I have a very brief post about two small, yet important, news items

Amanda Marcotte, the hate spewing far left wing blogger has semi-quietly resigned from the John Edward's Presidential campaign,
exactly as I predicted she would. Insiders say she was likely forced out, unable to tone down her anti-Catholic and anti-Christian writings in spite of public promises to do so.

Marcotte blamed her problems on Catholic activist Bill Donohue and wrote this letter to her readers (link currently down):

In fact, he’s [Donohue] made no bones about the fact that his intent is to “silence” me, as if he—a perfect stranger—should have a right to curtail my freedom of speech. Why? Because I’m a woman? Because I’m pro-choice? Because I’m not religious? All of the above, it seems.

Sorry Amanda, Donohue is a bit of a nut case, but it was your own writings and your own attitude that caused this end. And certainly no one wanted you silenced. I, for one, am positive you'll have a long career writing for many websites and publications.

But I am really posting quickly today to point out exactly how a strong, principled, intelligent Presidential candidate handles this type of problem.

Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President over the weekend with a speech that overwhelmed virtually everyone who heard it. Strong, decisive, unafraid to take on the issues directly, Obama is a real breath of fresh air in a poll driven, photo op charged field of pretenders to the Presidency.

However, during a campaign speech in Iowa, Obama said:

We ended up launching a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged and to which we have now spent $400 billion and has seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted.

I personally guarantee that 70% to 80% of the American public absolutely agree with every word in that statement. Including the "lives wasted" comment.

But, a (statistically) few people, soldiers, families and others, were genuinely hurt by the statement that our soldiers lives were "wasted."
And many of the far right wing bloggers and talk show hosts quickly attacked Obama, just as they had attacked Edwards for the Marcotte disaster.

The difference - and the reason Obama may well be elected President next year - is that Obama realized he had made a mistake and apologized virtually immediately!! From the
New York Times:

As he arrived in New Hampshire, Mr. Obama said he would “absolutely apologize” to military families if they were offended by a remark he made in Iowa while criticizing the Bush administration’s Iraq policy.

"What I would say — and meant to say — is that their service hasn’t been honored,” Mr. Obama told reporters in Nashua, N.H., "because our civilian strategy has not honored their courage and bravery, and we have put them in a situation in which it is hard for them to succeed."

"Even as I said it," Mr. Obama said Monday, "I realized I had misspoken."

The John Kerry campaign might well been on track today if he had handled himself as graciously as Barack Obama.

Step up to the plate and do what's right. And immediately go back on message.

"... their service hasn’t been honored our because our civilian strategy has not honored their courage and bravery, and we have put them in a situation in which it is hard for them to succeed.”

We may well have another John Kennedy on our hands. It's about time.




Monday, February 12, 2007

Not Ready to Make Nice

I want to congratulate The Dixie Chicks for there sweep of the Grammy Awards. It was a great comeback victory for the very talented group!

And I applaud their handing of the awards and speeches last night, too. They were a class act. No long political rants, but good spirited zingers.

As I listen to "Not Ready to Make Nice" and the whole
Taking the Long Way album today on Wizard Radio (shameless plug), I really wonder if this is deserving the triple crown awards of "Song of the Year" and "Album of the Year" and "Record of the Year?"

Now, I've long ago learned that the Grammys are not the best or most reliable awards. The industry is famous for honoring one hit wonders as "New Artist of the Year."

And, frankly, any organization that has made yet another recording of "Mahler: Symphony No. 7" as both "Classical Album of the Year" and "Orchestral Performance of the Year" is really suspect for their judgement.

But still, the pop-infused, yet still slow and draggy "Not Ready to Make Nice" seems like a very poor choice for the triple win. It's just not that good.

Which leads me to believe it is largely a political victory and a political statement by the voting members of The Grammys.

And there certainly is nothing wrong with that! The Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, along with the Instigator and Chief, President George Bush, are horribly unpopular! And there cannot be a better messenger than The Dixie Chicks to carry the message to our governmental leaders.

Back in 2001, the President was at the absolute peak of popularity. And, what was then seen as "The War in Iraq" had huge bipartisan backing. So when Natalie Maines shot off her mouth, the Dixie Chicks were suddenly banned from most Country Radio Stations (but never from Wizard Radio).

It was pure politics back in 2001 and it seems to me that the win is pure politics today.

Just as Al Gore's upcoming Academy Award victory for "An Inconvenient Truth" will be a huge political statement by the Academy.

Now I can make a much stronger endorsement for "An Inconvenient Truth." It is an excellent documentary. It's a fine and compelling movie.

And yet..... The politicizing of science is a rather dangerous thing. Today, issuing a statement, a report or a study that counters the overwhelmingly politically correct view of global warming is professional suicide.

It's one thing to politicize the Grammys or the Academy Awards, it's another to treat science the same way.

I sure as hell don't want conservative Christians to stop the teaching or the studying of evolution. But neither do I want the pc liberal left to stifle research into other potential causes of climate change.

One of the nay-sayers about global warming, Neil Calder, has written a superb piece in
The Sunday Times. You don't have to agree with his views on climate science, but we must listen and heed his warning about about the the current political climate.

When politicians and journalists declare that the science of global warming is settled, they show a regrettable ignorance about how science works. We were treated to another dose of it recently when the experts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued the Summary for Policymakers that puts the political spin on an unfinished scientific dossier on climate change due for publication in a few months’ time. They declared that most of the rise in temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to man-made greenhouse gases.

The small print explains “very likely” as meaning that the experts who made the judgment felt 90% sure about it. Older readers may recall a press conference at Harwell in 1958 when Sir John Cockcroft, Britain’s top nuclear physicist, said he was 90% certain that his lads had achieved controlled nuclear fusion. It turned out that he was wrong.
More positively, a 10% uncertainty in any theory is a wide open breach for any latterday Galileo or Einstein to storm through with a better idea. That is how science really works.

Enthusiasm for the global-warming scare also ensures that heatwaves make headlines, while contrary symptoms, such as this winter’s billion-dollar loss of Californian crops to unusual frost, are relegated to the business pages.

The early arrival of migrant birds in spring provides colourful evidence for a recent warming of the northern lands. But did anyone tell you that in east Antarctica the Adélie penguins and Cape petrels are turning up at their spring nesting sites around nine days later than they did 50 years ago? While sea-ice has diminished in the Arctic since 1978, it has grown by 8% in the Southern Ocean.

So one awkward question you can ask, when you’re forking out those extra taxes for climate change, is “Why is east Antarctica getting colder?” It makes no sense at all if carbon dioxide is driving global warming.