Monday, November 1, 2010

Mock the Vote: Why did Jon Stewart include Ysaf Islam?

Yusaf Islam, the man previously know as Cat Stevens, played Peace Train at Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity". Doesn't Stewart realize that for devout Muslims the only real peace is submission to Allah, so when Yusaf Islam sings Peace Train it may mean the conversion of all to Islam? Maybe Stewart believes Yusaf Islam was merely making a bad joke when he said he would been interested in going to see Salman Rushdie beaten by a mob:

I guess it must be funny to a certain kind of person ... future suicide bombers, maybe?

Hat Tip John Nolte at Big Hollywood

Monday, October 11, 2010

Scotland: Criticizing Public Gay Sex Now a Hate Crime

Police in Scotland have been ordered to stop any verbal taunting directed at people engaging in public sex.
An extraordinary new Hate Crime Guidance Manual has been handed to officers telling them to arrest anyone suspected of committing a hate crime against those engaged in ‘dogging’.

Although it notes that outdoor sex can have an ‘impact on the quality of life of people using these locations for leisure pursuits’ - for example dog walkers and tourists - the rights of those cottaging, cruising or dogging must be taken into account by officers.
It states that even though ‘outdoor sex is unlawful’, people who take part in it still have rights which protect them from becoming victims of hate crime.

The manual, issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers of Scotland last week, states that people who take part in open-air sex are ‘more susceptible to hate crime’ and can suffer ‘post traumatic stress and depression’ if they are abused, Police Review revealed.

Read it all in the Daily Mail.

Hat Tip Nicky Goomba

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"One Nation" Rally Trashes the Mall

"One Nation" sounds very public spirited. But their actions prove they do not take responsibility for their own behavior. We can judge a group by the trash they leave behind. People who are truly public spirited clean up their own trash. And if someone makes a mistake and litters, than those who follow will pick it up.

I noticed recyclable cans and lots of recyclable paper. These are not people who care about the environment.

These are freeloaders.

And guess what? These are people from organizations that want to "spread the wealth". Hmmm.

Friday, October 1, 2010

GZ Mosque Design Has Visitors Walking on Stars of David

The developers of the Ground Zero Mosque have released three architects images of the planned building. The design seems to be using the Star of David, a widely recognized symbol to represent the Jewish people and central element in the Israeli flag, as a design element. Notice how people will be walking on the Star of David. Click on the third image to get a close up.

I think this is a sign of disrespect. Would Muslims be comfortable walking on symbols of their own religion?

Friday, September 17, 2010

US Soldier Tells Al Jazeera TV of US Army Hate Campaign Against Islam

I'm surprised that military personnel have the right to do this. But even if they do, isn't what he told Al Jazeera here going to contribute to creating a climate of hate toward the USA in the Muslim world? Even if he had the right, why didn't the US Secretary of State, etc try to dissuade him against doing this, as they did the Quran burning in Florida?

He even claimed the opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque was opposing his right to build it. This is deliberately directed towards the Muslim world since the medium is Al Jazeera TV and the message is inflammatory. Imam Rauf said that the Ground Zero Mosque is potentially a bigger issue in the Muslim world than the Danish cartoons, and that Muslim people could explode with anger. (Rauf's language was avoidant, "anger could explode in the Muslim world", but we know that means Muslims could explode with anger.) Now we see this US soldier deliberately stoking that anger.

The Al Jazeera moderator pointed out to Klawonn that there is a mosque at the Pentagon and that the U.S. military presents itself as open to minorities and those who "suffer" in American society. Klawonn responded that his training in the U.S. Army was "propaganda against Islam."
"I think there’s a pretty big misconception of the reality of what’s going on in the military and what the mainstream media says," said Klawonn. "The reality is that there is a sense of Islamophobia and there is a big misunderstanding of the Islamic faith and that contributes to people’s negative notions coming into the military. Also the training we get and the information we are subject to constitutes propaganda against Islam.
"Unfortunately we are going through this right now,” said Klawonn. “I think this speaks volumes about us as a society right now. I mean, as an American citizen and a service member I see the opposition of American citizens to my right to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero as a big slap in my face as a service member."

More at CNS News

Hat Tip: The Two Malcontents

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another Successful Fatwa -- Molly Norris Disappeared

The cartoonist from Seattle who created and published a cartoon poster suggesting an Everyone Draw Mohammed Day , Molly Norris, has disappeared herself so no one else can. Remember she retracted the idea after receiving death threats? Now she has changed her name and no longer exists as her previous identity on the advice of the FBI. The Seattle Weekly announced it like this:
The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, "going ghost": moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program--except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab.

Sounds to me like she and those top security specialists at the FBI are Islamophobic.

Hat Tip: Jihad Watch

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why Americans have grown more suspicious of American Muslims

I want to show some of what we have been presented since the previous anniversary of 9/11 in terms of American Muslims who turn out to be secret terrorists:

September 2009 -- just days after the anniversary of 9/11 Najibullah Zazi a resident of Colorado was arrested along with two of his high school classmates from Queens, his father, his uncle, and an imam from Queens, New York, on charges related to a plan to detonate backpack bombs on the New York subway system, similar tothe July 2005 London Subway Bombing.

September 2009 --- Michael Finton, a US citizen who had converted to Islam was arrested for the attempted bombing of the Federal Building in Springfield Illinois. He thought he was working with Al Qaeda, but his accomplice was an FBI agent. At the same time the FBI also arrested Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, an illegal immigrant from Jordan who attempted to kill as many people as he could with what he thought was a car bomb in the basement of the 60 story building Fountain Place in downtown Dallas. ABC News reports FBI Stings Are Chilling Evidence of Homegrown Terror

November 2009 NY Times A Terror Suspect With Feet in East and West, about David Headley, an American citizen with an American mother and a Pakistani father who was involved in the gruesome and sadistic Islamic terrorist Mumbai Massacre.

November 2009 -- Nidal Malik Hasan, American born of Palestinian descent, a US Army Major, who committed 13 murders and attempted 32 more in the Ft. Hood Massacre. See the presentation he made on The Koranic World View as it Relates to Muslims in the US Military.

December 2009 --- 5 young men, Umer Farooq, Ramy Zamzam, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, Waqar Khan and Aman Hassan Yasir, all US citizens from the suburbs of Washington DC, are arrested for traveling to Pakistan to join the Taliban and al Qaeda to fight American troops in Afghanistan.

December 2009 --- Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab a Nigerian man who had studied engineering and finance in London and headed the student Islamic Society there attempted to blow up an airplane flying to Detroit on Christmas Day. The Sunday Times Online article Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab: one boy’s journey to jihad details how he went to Yemen and met up with the American Anwar al-Awliki and Al-Qaeda where he is believed to have received the bomb materials and training.

January 2010 NY Times Magazine article exploring how an American became The Jihadist Next Door. Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki a man raised in Alabama with a white Christian (Southern Baptist) mother and a father who immigrated from Syria who now leads a group of Islamic fighters in Somalia supporting the destruction of Sufi shrines and the imposition of brutal Islamic law.

March 2010 --- An American citizen who had worked at five different nuclear power plants in the US, Sharif Mobley, is arrested in Yemen with ten other suspected Al Qaeda members.

March 2010 --- We learned that an American woman from the Philadelphia suburbs, Colleen LaRose had been arrested the previous fall as a terrorist recruiter and had been involved in a scheme to kill the Danish cartoonist Lars Vilks. The New York Times quoted the the United States attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania, Michael L. Levy, that "the case illustrated how terrorists were looking for American recruits who could blend in." Another American woman who had been recruited by LaRose was also arrested, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez of Colorado.

May 2010 NY Times article titled Imam’s Path From Condemning Terror to Preaching Jihad exploring how a man born and educated in America, Anwar Al-Awliki went from being presented by the MSM as a moderate Muslim to revealing himself to be a radical jihadist. Al_Awliki's preaching was an inspiration to both the Ft Hood Shooter and the Christmas Day Bomber.

May 2010 -- Faisal Shazad, an American citizen born in Pakistan was trained and financed by the Pakistani Taliban in his attempt to Bomb Times Square in New York. Politicians and the media initially suggested: 1) the bombing was not Islamic terrorism and 2) it was a one person job.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fear of Islam is not a Phobia

Last night on TV I saw Imam Rauf tell us that if he has to move his planned mosque, there will be an explosion of violence in the Muslim countries. Does that mean Imam Rauf is Islamophobic, expressing a pathological fear of Muslims? Or is he a person particularly knowledgable about Islam and Muslims whose characterization of their expected behavior is reasonable?

And today I see that the US State Department has issued a travel advisory over fears of violent Muslim reactions to the planned burning of some Qurans by a small church in Florida:
The Department of State is issuing this Travel Alert to caution U.S. citizens of the potential for anti-U.S. demonstrations in many countries in response to stated plans by a church in Florida to burn Qur'ans on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Demonstrations, some violent, have already taken place in several countries, including Afghanistan and Indonesia, in response to media reports of the church's plans. The potential for further protests and demonstrations, some of which may turn violent, remains high. We urge you to pay attention to local reaction to the situation, and to avoid areas where demonstrations may take place. This Travel Alert expires on September 30, 2010.

So, is the US State Department Islamophobic, expressing a pathological fear of Muslims? ? Or is the US State Dept. particularly knowledgable about Islam and Muslims and this anticipation of their expected behavior is reasonable?

If Americans are frightened of Muslims, I am thinking maybe it is due to actual world events and anticipated world events as expressed by Imam Rauf and the US State Dept.

In support of the US State Dept travel advisory, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan says that if the Pastor in Florida burns Qurans, it will be received as "a declaration of war":
Claiming that burning the Koran is a part of freedom of expression is ridiculous and does not make any sense," the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, said in a statement.

"Insulting religions and holy books is a crime that provokes people. It is a declaration of war against them," it added.

I'm not supporting the idea of burning Qurans. But I do think it is a free speech issue. I wish he wouldn't do it. But the blame for any violence that results must be placed on those who react violently to a symbolic act.

This is comparable to the way women in the USA had to deal with arguments about rape. The fact that a woman dressed in a sexy way used to be used against her in rape trials in the USA. But now, in the USA, we accept that the man is responsible for his own actions. Hmmm, of course in many Muslim countries, women are still held responsible for the actions of the men. Women have to wear burkas so the men won't be aroused.

It sure seems like Muslim men have not been taught to separate their feelings from their behavior and that they are responsible for their own actions. They blame others for provoking them to violence and they blame others for provoking them sexually. It makes sense to me to be afraid of people who don't take responsibility for their own actions.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

thinking about IQ and Islam

I've been wondering about people who would commit murder over cartoons or a book burning. I've been thinking that the people we are dealing with are unable to think in categories and make necessary distinctions. I remembered that there was an article in the Economist last month on infectious diseases and their possible effect on children's intellectual development. The study used IQ data from 184 countries. It occurred to me to look at the average IQ's for some of the countries provided in the study. I've selected out some and grouped them.

98 United States
99 Canada

108 Singapore
105 China
106 South Korea
105 Japan

98 France
99 Germany
100 Netherlands
101 Switzerland
102 Italy
98 Spain
97 Russia

95 Israel

90 Turkey

82 Lebanon
82 Egypt
83 Syria
83 Libya
84 Pakistan
87 Iraq
84 Iran
84 Afghanistan
86 Kuwait
84 Saudi Arabia
84 United Arab Emirates
85 Yemen
84 Morocco
84 Jordan

Friday, September 3, 2010

Moderate Islam? 75% of Muslims Want Sharia Law

There is a great article posted at Big Peace today exploring the op/ed in last Saturday's Wall street Journal Islam is Not Islamism. The must see chart in the article is this one from a 2007 study of Muslim opinion by researchers at the University of Maryland

Looking through the study, I found on page 16 that 20% or less of the Muslims in the four countries polled had a negative opinion of Bin Laden.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What US soldiers see in Afghanistan -- rampant sexual abuse of boys.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article his Sunday by Joel Brinkley on the study by social scientist AnnaMaria Cardinalli on man-boy love in Afghanistan. The military commissioned this study because soldiers were disturbed to see Afghan men trying to "touch and fondle" boys.
For centuries, Afghan men have taken boys, roughly 9 to 15 years old, as lovers. Some research suggests that half the Pashtun tribal members in Kandahar and other southern towns are bacha baz, the term for an older man with a boy lover. Literally it means "boy player." The men like to boast about it.

"Having a boy has become a custom for us," Enayatullah, a 42-year-old in Baghlan province, told a Reuters reporter. "Whoever wants to show off should have a boy."

Baghlan province is in the northeast, but Afghans say pedophilia is most prevalent among Pashtun men in the south. The Pashtun are Afghanistan's most important tribe. For centuries, the nation's leaders have been Pashtun.

Cardinelli's study explains that this is the culture, but she is not a cultural relativist:
"There's no issue more horrifying and more deserving of our attention than this," Cardinalli said. "I'm continually haunted by what I saw."

The article says the source of the problem is Islamic law, because men are forbidden to see women and told that women are unclean:
Sociologists and anthropologists say the problem results from perverse interpretation of Islamic law. Women are simply unapproachable. Afghan men cannot talk to an unrelated woman until after proposing marriage. Before then, they can't even look at a woman, except perhaps her feet. Otherwise she is covered, head to ankle.

Fundamentalist imams, exaggerating a biblical passage on menstruation, teach that women are "unclean" and therefore distasteful. One married man even asked Cardinalli's team "how his wife could become pregnant," her report said. When that was explained, he "reacted with disgust" and asked, "How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean?"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Understanding Islam: What "Bridge Building" Means

When Imam Rauf says the goal of the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero is meant to build bridges, we may naively assume he means inter faith dialogue. But he has stated to Arabic speaking audiences that he disdains interfaith dialogue. As reported at Former Muslims United, in an article titled “I do not believe in religious dialogue” Rauf wrote:
And regarding religious dialogue Abdul-Rauf stated “this phrase is
inaccurate. Religious dialogue as customary understood is a set of events with discussions in large hotels that result in nothing. Religions do not dialogue and dialogue is not present in the attitudes of the followers regardless of being Muslim or Christian. The image of Muslims in the West is complex which needs to be remedied.”

On May 25th Rauf wrote an op/ed in the New York Daily News that included this:
My colleagues and I are the anti-terrorists. We are the people who want to embolden the vast majority of Muslims who hate terrorism to stand up to the radical rhetoric. Our purpose is to interweave America's Muslim population into the mainstream society.

So to English speaking Americans he says he wants to "interweave America's Muslim population into the mainstream society", but to Arabic speakers he claims he "does not believe in religious dialogue". Is there a contradiction going on here?

Well, Rauf's father was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood andFrank Gaffney at Big Peace provides this quote to help us understand what the Muslim Brotherhood means by the phrase "bridge building".:
For example, Team Obama fails to recognize that when Rauf talks about “bridge-building,” he means it the same way as did Seyyid Qutb, one the Brotherhood’s most important ideologues. In his seminal book, Milestones, Qutb makes clear that this term does not translate into a quest for interfaith and cross-cultural harmony. Rather, it is meant to achieve the infidels’ submission: “The chasm between Islam and Jahiliyyah (unbelievers – the land of gross ignorance and disbelief) is great, and a bridge is not to be built across it so that the two sides may mix with each other, but only so that the people of Jahiliyyah may come over to Islam.”

This attitude makes sense when we accept that Muslims view Islam as the last and superior prophesy, and that conversion from Islam is viewed so unfavorably that it is punished by death.

Which reminds of another quote from Imam Rauf's NY Daily News op/ed:
Freedom of religion is something we hold dear. It is the core of what America is all about, and it is what people worldwide respect about our country. The Koran itself says compulsion in religion is wrong.

But Rauf refuses to sign Former Muslims United's Freedom Pledge:
I renounce, repudiate and oppose any physical intimidation, or worldly and corporal punishment, of apostates from Islam, in whatever way that punishment may be determined or carried out by myself or any other Muslim including the family of the apostate, community, Mosque leaders, Shariah court or judge, and Muslim government or regime.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Courage and the Ground Zero Mosque Debate

I I have been thinking that it takes no courage to advocate for the Ground Zero Mosque. No one is going to violently attack the politicians and media celebs who support the building. But there may be a real danger of violent attack against those who are exercising their constitutional 1st Amendment right of free speech to oppose the mosque. Have the mainstream media and so many politicians taken up the Muslim Brotherhood talking points and sought to silence this debate because that is the safe thing to do in the short run?

It is the elephant in the living room. No one is talking about it. But the symbolism of Ground Zero to me is that we are vulnerable to attack by people who hate us. The attack on the World Trade Towers was the midpoint of a more than twenty year era of fear of radical Islam.

I pulled out Christopher Hitchens piece about the twenty year anniversary of the Fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Hitchens says the violent threats have done there job and there is now a pervasive climate of self-censorship in the media. We know these are not just threats, the violence is real, as we saw in the Danish cartoon controversy. And he says that we use the "guise of good manners and multiculturalism" to hide that we are actually caving in to the threat of violence and failing to support the true moderate Muslims.

Sometimes this fear—and this blackmail—comes dressed up in the guise of good manners and multiculturalism. One must not wound the religious feelings of others, many of whom are poor immigrants in our own societies. To this I would respond by pointing to a book published in 1994. It is entitled For Rushdie: Essays by Arab and Muslim Writers in Defense of Free Speech. Among its contributors is almost every writer worthy of the name in the Arab and Muslim world, ranging from the Syrian poet Adonis to the Syrian-Kurdish author Salim Barakat, to the late national bard of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Darwish, to the celebrated Turkish writers Murat Belge and Orhan Pamuk. Especially impressive and courageous was the list of 127 Iranian writers, artists, and intellectuals who, from the prison house that is the Islamic Republic, signed their names to a letter which said: “We underline the intolerable character of the decree of death that the Fatwah is, and we insist on the fact that aesthetic criteria are the only proper ones for judging works of art.… To the extent that the systematic denial of the rights of man in Iran is tolerated, this can only further encourage the export outside the Islamic Republic of its terroristic methods which destroy freedom.” In other words, the situation is the exact reverse of what the condescending multiculturalists say it is. To indulge the idea of religious censorship by the threat of violence is to insult and undermine precisely those in the Muslim world who are its intellectual cream, and who want to testify for their own liberty—and for ours. It is also to make the patronizing assumption that the leaders of mobs and the inciters of goons are the authentic representatives of Muslim opinion. What could be more “offensive” than that?

Andrew McCarthy has a piece in National Review Online today that discusses the difference between the fake moderate Muslims supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas versus the true moderate Muslims that are threatened by the the Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas who will use violence to impose their will.

It doesn't take courage to kowtow to those who threaten violence. It does take courage to speak up against them. McCarthy says Imam Rauf and the Ground Zero Mosque are on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Why doesn't the MSM research this it? Or do they know but are to afraid to say?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is Rauf a moderate Muslim when it comes to Sharia Law?

Imam Feisal Rauf, the Muslim leader planning to build an Islamic cultural center with mosque two blocks from the site of the destruction of the World Trade Center by Islamic militants, also heads the Shariah Index Project, an ongoing evaluate the Sharia compliance of the nations. Rauf has said to US audiences that the USA is a Sharia compliant state.

And another muslim was recently quoted in the New York Times saying that Sharia is compatible with the US Constitution:
Camie Ayash, a spokeswoman for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, lamented that people were listening to what she called “total disinformation” on Islam.

She said her group was stunned when what began as one person raising zoning questions about the new mosque evolved into mass protests with marchers waving signs about Shariah.

“A lot of Muslims came to the U.S. because they respect the Constitution,” she said. “There’s no conflict with the U.S. Constitution in Shariah law. If there were, Muslims wouldn’t be living here.”

When I read that, I wondered if this was a Muslim "Talking Point" now and how the reporter could print it without asking some basic questions about obvious conflicts between the U.S. Constitution and Sharia Law.

Let's look at Rauf's presentation of Sharia Law at a meeting of the Shariah Index Project in Malaysia to see how the two are irreconcilable. As the reporter summarized Rauf's presentation:
The pillars of Shariah are based on five – some say six sacrosanct rights and principles. Breaching any of them is considered a major sin that requires punishment.

The most important is the protection and furthering of life.

Then there is the protection of religion – which includes all three Abrahamic faiths and, through most of Islamic history, other religions as well. It was this principle that the Muslim world evoked during the controversy over cartoons lampooning the Prophet that were published in a Danish newspaper. The same principle prohibits Muslims from satirising elements of any religion.

In the video, Rauf said that Sharia provides the "right to freedom of religion". That's not the same as "protection of religion". It is in direct conflict with the US Constitution's 1st Amendment protect of speech and of the press. We have seen how Muslims have silenced free speech in our own country through threats of violence as the country has begun to self-censor.
Another pillar is the protection of dignity and honour, which can be used as a basis for punishing slander, which recently became a crime in the UAE under the country’s new media law. The same principle is behind UAE cases where drivers have been prosecuted for making rude gestures at other road users, who took it as an insult to their dignity. Similarly, a woman can sue a man, even a stranger, for a lewd or inappropriate comment that “undermines her honour”.

What he doesn't say is how this is used to punish those who are raped and seeking help. If the rape charge cannot be proved, then the one making the accusation is punished for slander. And it is very hard to prove rape when the Quran requires four witnesses. Here is an example I posted a while ago about a student in Saudi Arabia who said his school principal raped him.
Protection of lineage, another pillar of Shariah, is the basis for criminalising adultery and, as was decided by muftis in Dubai last year, for banning IVF.

And remember, the Quran provides for the death penalty for adultery.
Protection of the mind or intellect includes the protection of sobriety, the basis for prohibiting Muslims from drinking alcohol or using any mind-altering substance, except under a doctor’s orders.

The final pillar of Shariah is the protection of property, an element that many scholars say contributed to the economic growth of early Muslim states.

Rauf says in the video that Sharia is the "fulfillment of five fundamental rights: "the right to life, the right to freedom of religion, the right to family, the right to property and the right to mental well being." But as the punishments from the Quran are applied in Sharia Law:

The right to freedom of religion means the death penalty for criticism of religion.
The right to family means the death penalty for adultery.
(I'm not seeing the right to life in this.)
The right to property means cutting off the hands of thieves.
The right to mental wellbeing means lashing those who drink alcohol.

What is a moderate Muslim when it comes to Sharia Law? Isn't Rauf just talking up a good game for us when he knows the Quran requires these punishments? It reminds me of the story of the Muslim man who convinced a Jewish alcoholic to convert to Islam.

And what good is the US Constitution's 8th Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment when this is the usual punishment and Allah is merciful? (So if you are going to be lashed for drinking alcohol and even question the punishment as cruel, are you insulting religion and insulting Allah, so now you get the death penalty?)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

8% of US Babies Born to Illegal Immigrants

The Wall Street Journal has a front page article on the new report from the Pew Hispanic Center on the children of illegal immigrants:
One in 12 babies born in the U.S. in 2008 were offspring of illegal immigrants, according to a new study, an estimate that could inflame the debate over birthright citizenship.

Undocumented immigrants make up slightly more than 4% of the U.S. adult population. However, their babies represented twice that share, or 8%, of all births on U.S. soil in 2008, according to the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center's report.

This is a large number and will certainly figure into the public discussion of the 14th Amendment and "anchor babies". The report does note that over 80% of the mothers had been in the US over a year. So, that makes about 20% of the 8% first time "anchor babies". I calculate that as over 1% of US births in 2008 were clearly "anchor baby" phenomena.

I noticed the Wall Street Journal article and the Pew report, Unauthorized Immigrants and Their US-Born Children, assume the 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants who are born in the US and that a revision to the constitution is necessary to deny birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens. But I thought that was an open question since the 14th Amendment includes the language "subject to the jurisdiction thereof".

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Should judge have recused himself in Prop 8 case?

There is an interesting argument presented in today's San Francisco Chronicle that the federal judge, Vaughn Walker, should have recused himself in the the Prop 8 (California same-sex marriage) case. John C. Eastman, a law professor and former dean of Chapman University School of Law argues that the fact that Walker is gay is not reason enough for him to recuse himself, However, it has been reported that Walker is in a same-sex relationship and that would put Walker in the position of materially benefiting from his own ruling. Eastman concludes:
If the relationship does not create such a conflict, it nevertheless creates the circumstance "in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned." That ground for disqualification can be waived by the parties, but the judge must "disclose on the record the basis of the disqualification" and then only continue after the parties have agreed in writing to his continued involvement. No such disclosure and agreement occurred in this case.

Judge Walker's failure to disqualify himself or at least to disclose his potentially disqualifying relationship to the parties requires that the opinion in the case be vacated and a new trial conducted before a different judge. In Liljeberg vs. Health Services Acquisition Corp., the Supreme Court held that the original judgment had to be set aside even when the disqualifying relationship only became known to the parties 10 months after the judgment entered in the case had been upheld on appeal. Where an objective observer would have questioned the judge's impartiality, recusal is required, and the appropriate remedy is to annul the judgment because of the risk of injustice to the parties and of undermining the public's confidence in the judicial process.

The Huffington Post has listed two other cases in which Walker ruled against religious objections to the promotion of gay sexual behavior:
In 1999, he rejected arguments from the parents of a San Leandro boy who claimed their religious rights were violated by pro-gay comments their son's teacher had made in the classroom.

In the other case, he dismissed a free speech claim by two Oakland city employees whose managers had confiscated a bulletin board flier for a religious group that promoted "natural family, marriage and family values." The city had "significant interests in restricting discriminatory speech about homosexuals," Walker wrote in his 2005 ruling.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Matthew J. Franck on the Prop 8 Ruling

I think Matthew J. Franck has a helpful analysis of Judge Walker's legal reasoning in the California same-sex marriage case. He explains how Walker took the movement towards the equality of the sexes in marriage to mean that gender no longer mattered:

By the same token, says Judge Walker, the doctrine of coverture, in the common law, in which a wife's legal identity was subsumed by that of her husband as the superior partner in the marriage-that too has been abandoned by a more modern understanding of the sexes as equal partners. Thus, concludes the judge, there has been a "movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and toward an institution free from state-mandated gender roles." And this has not been an essential change in the "core" of the marriage institution, but merely a shedding of an extraneous characteristic, thanks to "an evolution in the understanding of gender."

And now watch carefully, for here the fallacious reasoning enters the equation. When "the genders" are no longer "seen as having distinct roles," it is revealed that at marriage's "core" there is ample space for same-sex couples too. Since "gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage," indeed since it never really did, "plaintiffs' relationships are consistent with the core of the history, tradition and practice of marriage in the United States." There, you see? There is something eminently conservative about the admission of same-sex couples to the marital bond. What could we have been thinking, denying them this right for all these centuries?

Judge Walker seems to have committed the fallacy of composition-taking something true of a part and concluding that it is also true of the whole of which it is a part. If it is true that "gender" no longer matters as it once did in the relation of husband and wife, he reasons, therefore it no longer matters whether the relation is one of husband and wife; it may as well be a relation of husband and husband or of wife and wife, since we now know that marriage is not, at its "core," a "gendered institution." But restated in this way, it is quite plain that the judge's conclusion doesn't follow from his premises. To say that the status of men and women in marriage is one of equal partners is not to say that men and women are the same, such that it does not matter what sex their partners are. The equalization of status is not the obliteration of difference, as much as Judge Walker would like to pretend it is.

Read it all here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The problem with relying on speech writers and teleprompters

Whoever wrote the speech for the White House Correspondents Dinner knew who Snooki was.

Is the problem relying on speech writers and teleprompters or is trying to go with out them on The View?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

San Francisco Chronicle propaganda article on Oscar Grant case

Today in the San Francisco Chronicle there was an article on the front page of the local news section about some protests regarding the Oscar Grant killing. The protesters who claim Oscar Grant was murdered were claiming to be imitating Grant's position when he was shot, lying face down with their hands behind their backs. The reporter, Demian Bulwa, accepted that this was in fact how Grant was positioned, stating in the article:
they lay in the street mimicking Grant's position when he was shot - prone with his hands behind his back.

And one of the two featured photos was captioned:
Counterprotesters lie in the street with their hands behind their backs to illustrate the unarmed Grant's position when Mehserle shot him.

The problem with this is that the BART officer, Mehserle, testified Grant did not have both hands available to be handcuffed and that is why he decided to Tase Grant:
But when attempting to arrest Grant, the former officer testified that it turned into a brief struggle for the man’s hands.

“His hands were underneath him,” he said. “I wasn’t paying attention to his left hand, I was trying to get his right hand.”

Mehserle said he saw Grant’s right hand reach into his pocket.

“It made me question what his intentions were…I knew the right front pocket was a place where people kept–,” Mehserle then paused.


It was at this point the former officer said he decided to Tase Grant.

The attorney prosecuting the case (who wanted Mehserle charged with murder), Stein, also says that Grant didn't have his hand available to be handcuffed and explained why in this San Francisco Chronicle article (by the same reporter Demian Bulwa):
Stein said that before Mehserle fired his single shot, the prone Grant had tried to get his right hand behind his back to be handcuffed. However, the prosecutor said, officers had pinned him against the outstretched left leg of a friend, Carlos Reyes, who was also detained.

He referred to the TV screens, where footage of the shooting showed Reyes' leg moving a split second before the gunshot, and Grant's right arm coming back at about the same time.

The San Francisco Chronicle is treating as fact something that seems clearly false to me. It is inserting this propaganda in what is presented as a straight news story. Clearly, the judge, having heard the evidence, believed that the decision to Tase was appropriate under the circumstances when he ruled out murder as an option for the jury. And clearly the jury believed that the decision to Tase was appropriate under the circumstances when they convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Here is the court's compilation of the eyewitness videos from cell phones. You can see from various vantage points and it is clear Grant was resisting being handcuffed.

I wonder if the attorney for the civil suit by Grant's family, Burris, is behind the attempts to create the belief that Grant was not resisting arrest. But why is the San Francisco Chronicle playing along?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

California: July Field Poll Wrong on Arizona Law

The new July Field Poll of California registered voters shows that the majority support the new Arizona law on illegal immigration -- even though the Field Poll question misstates the law. The Field Poll results were that 49% support the law and 44% oppose. Here is how the Field Poll phrased the question:
The state of Arizona recently passed a new law that gives police the right to question anyone who they think may be in the country illegally and ask them to produce documents to verify their legal status. Do you approve or disapprove of Arizona’s new illegal immigration law? Do you feel this way strongly or somewhat?

In fact, the law says police may only investigate immigration status incident to a "lawful stop, detention, or arrest". The police are also not allowed to stop someone based on suspicion about their immigration status. And even after a lawful stop, detention, or arrest" the police may not question someone about immigration status simply based on their race or national origin.

So, I think the Field Poll was asking a false and biased question. But still they found the majority support the law.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Are they Muslim Terrorists motivated by politics or Islamic Terrorists?

Over at the Washington Post at On Religion, there are some posts on whether we should use the phrase Islamic Terrorist. John Esposito has argued that they may be Muslim terrorists, but it is wrong to call them Islamic. He argues that they are really motivated by politics and not religion. So, I'm posting the Times Square Bomber's video where he explains his motivation.

I think Ronald Rychlak got it right:
I don't know how we are going to resolve issues that surround our very different world views, but I am quite certain that restricting what we say - whether that means barring topics from textbooks or rejecting the use of terms like 'Islamic terrorist' and 'jihad' - is not a good start. Let's first be honest in our language and our discussions. That will be hard, but it is the surest way to the truth. If we get to the truth, let's hope that we can also find peace.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oakland: charge white outside agitators instigating riot

Like many in the Bay Area, I was worried about a possible riot in Oakland when the verdict came out in the trial of the Bay Area Rapid Transit officer who killed the young African-American Oscar Grant. There had been riots the previous year over this case, and as Zombie documented, some communists and anarchists were seeking to use the verdict to promote a riot.

Well, the verdict came out last Thursday night and we only had a mini-riot. And the really good news is the police caught the white communists and anarchists who were trying to instigate rioting. These were young white people from outside of Oakland who were coming into Oakland to incite the local African-American youths to violence. Matier and Ross are reporting today:

Throw the book: Oakland City Attorney John Russo says he's exploring suing some of the dozens of "outside agitators" who came looking for trouble in downtown Oakland after Thursday's verdict in the Johannes Mehserle trial.

"I want to throw the book at them, and see if we can hold them civilly liable for some of the city's cost," Russo said Friday.

He says he'll talk about the idea first with District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, who must decide whether to file criminal charges against the 78 people arrested Thursday night.

At the very least, Russo said he'd like to get a stay-away order to keep some of the troublemakers from returning to the city.

"People have the complete right to protest," he said. "But that is different than using the tragedy to act out your own personal psychodrama.

"I wouldn't even dignify these clowns with the name 'anarchists,' because that would suggest they actually had a philosophy," Russo said.

"I just can't follow how a bunch of young white people come into a city that is two-thirds people of color and start trashing it because they are supposedly mad about racism," he said. "Why don't they wear swastikas and be skinheads?"

Some of these whites had even painted their faces black:

One group tore through the metal gate protecting a Footlocker shoe store on Broadway near 14th Street, shattered a window and emptied the shelves. Soon there were shoe boxes on the street.

Afterward, the group moved across the street and smashed a window at the Far East National Bank building and rampaged inside. Graffiti was sprayed on the bank wall reading "Riot for Oscar." Up and down Broadway within the police lines, skirmishes broke out between officers and small groups of protesters, some wearing black face paint.

Rioters ran down the street with officers in pursuit, and some were tackled as other protesters tossed debris at the police. The BART stations at 12th and 19th streets were closed down at times to avoid problems, and at one point officers used smoke bombs to disperse crowds.

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said the people causing trouble did not seem to be Oakland residents bent on voicing displeasure at the Mehserle verdict. He described them as outsiders "who are almost professional people who go into crowds like this and cause problems."

Friday, June 25, 2010

USA to assist Muslim efforts in UN to criminalize "defamation of religion"

Rashad Hussain, Obama's special envoy to the Organization for the Islamic Conference (OIC), told the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on Wednesday that the USA will work with the OIC in the United Nations on defamation of religion. This is terrible. The OIC has been pursuing an effort to have the UN ban the defamation of religion.

Hussain has now divulged that the U.S. will support the OIC in the latter’s United Nations effort to criminalize “defamation of religion” – widely perceived as a measure to suppress criticism of Muslim practices that violate human rights. "The OIC and the Obama administration will work together in the UN on the issue of defamation of religion, especially in Europe," said Hussain. He had previously said, at the above-mentioned April “post-Cairo” conference, that the U.S. would work with the OIC to defend the Muslim head-scarf against prohibitions on its display in schools and governmental offices – a measure common to secular France and now Islamist-ruled, but still legally-secular Turkey, as well as Muslim-majority Tunisia and Kosovo.

I don't think he should be conflating the headscarf issue with the "defamation of religion". A strong argument can be made for allowing headscarves as a freedom of expression issue, just as criticism of religion is an issue of freedom of expression. Prohibiting defamation of religion goes against the USA 1st Amendment protecting free speech.

Just this March, the USA was taking a firm stand against "defamation of religion" legislation in the UN :

Eileen Donahoe, U.S. ambassador to the UN, also slammed the resolution as an "ineffective way to address" concerns about discrimination.

"We cannot agree that prohibiting speech is the way to promote tolerance, because we continue to see the 'defamation of religions' concept used to justify censorship, criminalisation, and in some cases violent assaults and deaths of political, racial, and religious minorities around the world," she said.

"Contrary to the intentions of most member states, governments are likely to abuse the rights of individuals in the name of this resolution, and in the name of the Human Rights Council," added the U.S. envoy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sperm donor kids not really all right

Slate has an article about a new study of 18- to 45-year-olds including 485 who were conceived via sperm donation, 562 adopted as infants, and 563 raised by their biological parents that has found that children conceived by sperm donation are more likely to have problems with the law, substance abuse and mental health:

Regardless of socioeconomic status, donor offspring are twice as likely as those raised by biological parents to report problems with the law before age 25. They are more than twice as likely to report having struggled with substance abuse. And they are about 1.5 times as likely to report depression or other mental health problems.

Here's a link to the whole study report.

Will Mitregate effect Episcopal funding of Anglican Communion Office?

Is Ruth Gledhill of The Times raising the possibility that the Episcopal Church may soon retaliate financially against the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) for the recent insult to the Presiding Bishop on the occasion of preaching and presiding at Southwerk Cathedral?

In her article in The Times, Gledhill notes:

Significantly, The Episcopal Church funds at least 40 per cent of the budget of the Anglican Communion Office, without which the Anglican Communion and its 38 provinces would be unable to continue as a coherent body.

And in her blog, Gledhill notes regarding the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church meeting in Baltimore:
Apparently the question of the ACO budget is one of the issues on the agenda this week...

The juxtaposition of the Archbishop of Canterbury's lines in the sand with the financial stakes serves to underscore the courage he is now demonstrating. And the difficult position the Secretary General of the ACO, Canon Kenneth Kearon, faces in his meeting with Executive Council.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Germany: Religious Muslim boys more violent, study says

A study of 45,000 teenagers (14, 15 and 16 year olds) in Germany has found that boys growing up in religious Muslim families are more likely to be violent. The study, conducted by Christian Pfeiffer of the criminal research institute of Lower Saxony, took into account the level of education, standard of living in the families, how religious the teenagers considered themselves, and how integrated they felt in Germany.

Pfeiffer said that even when other social factors were taken into account, there remained a significant correlation between religiosity and readiness to use violence. There were some positive correlations too he said, noting that young religious Muslims were much less likely than their non-Muslim counterparts to drink alcohol – or to steal from shops.

The increased likelihood to use violence was restricted to Muslim boys Pfeiffer said – Muslim girls were just as likely to be violent as non-Muslim girls.


The results showed that Muslim boys from immigrant families were more than twice as likely to agree with macho statements than boys from Christian immigrant families. The rate was highest among those considered as very religious, Pfeiffer said. They were also more likely to be using violent computer games and have criminal friends.

TheI selected quotes above from the article gave factual information about the study. Much of what I edited out were the efforts of the researcher to report his results without being labeled a bigot.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gaza bound Flotilla response to request from Israeli army

I'd think this was a fraud expect
1) for seeing that video of Helen Thomas last week,
2) this is from the official Israeli Defense Force News desk,
3) a story about it is carried in the Jerusalem Post.

"This is the Israeli Navy, You are approaching an area which is under a naval blockade."

"Shut up. Go back to Auschwitz."

"We have permission from the Gaza Port Authority to enter"

"We're helping Arabs going against the US. Don't forget 9/11 guys."

Douglas County GA Tea Party: Still Clinging to Guns and Religion

Today is the anniversary of D-day, the day in World War II that the US had the courage to invade Normandy. That was before I was born, and my father, who did fight in WWII was also a native Californian and fought in the Pacific.

In honor of D-Day, I am posting this video of a moment at a Tea party across the country from me in the state of Georgia. Thank you for still clinging to your God and your guns.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the Star-spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Hat Tip to America Daughter

Saturday, June 5, 2010

New documentary The Lottery shows Teacher's Union rent mobs

I really want to see the new documentary The Lottery about charter schools in Harlem. The Wall Street Journal today had an interview with the filmmaker, Madeleine Sackler, Storming the School Barricades by Bari Weiss, that describes how she came to understand that the teacher's union was paying Acorn to create a false sense that parents were against the charter schools:
Her initial aim was simple. "Going into the film I was excited just to tell a story," she says. "A vérité film, a really beautiful, independent story about four families that you wouldn't know otherwise" in the months leading up to the lottery for the Harlem Success Academy.

But on the way to making the film she imagined, she "stumbled on this political mayhem—really like a turf war about the future of public education." Or more accurately, she happened upon a raucous protest outside of a failing public school in which Harlem Success, already filled to capacity, had requested space.

"We drove by that protest," Ms. Sackler recalls. "We were on our way to another interview and we jumped out of the van and started filming." There she discovered that the majority of those protesting the proliferation of charter schools were not even from the neighborhood. They'd come from the Bronx and Queens.

"They all said 'We're not allowed to talk to you. We're just here to support the parents.'" But there were only two parents there, says Ms. Sackler, and both were members of Acorn. And so, "after not a lot of digging," she discovered that the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) had paid Acorn, the controversial community organizing group, "half a million dollars for the year." (It cost less to make the film.)

Finding out that the teachers union had hired a rent-a-mob to protest on its behalf was "the turn for us in the process." That story—of self-interested adults trying to deny poor parents choice for their children—provided an answer to Ms. Sackler's fundamental question: "If there are these high-performing schools that are closing the achievement gap, why aren't there more of them?"

Here's the trailer for the film:

But I also want to juxtapose this film with the Chris Christy video I saw over at Nickie Goomba's site.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Afghan girls flogged for fleeing forced marriages

Young girls in Afghanistan (13 and a 14 year old ) being flogged for running away from arranged marriages. They had been married to old men who beat them when they resisted consummating the marriages. However, a police officier in an ajoining province found them and returned them to their village. In Afghanistan, marriage of girls under 16 is against the law and flogging is against the law.

The New York Times reports:
Forced into a so-called marriage exchange, where each girl was given to an elderly man in the other’s family, Khadija and Basgol later complained that their husbands beat them when they tried to resist consummating the unions. Dressed as boys, they escaped and got as far as western Herat Province, where their bus was stopped at a checkpoint and they were arrested.

Although Herat has shelters for battered and runaway women and girls, the police instead contacted the former warlord, Fazil Ahad Khan, whom Human Rights Commission workers describe as the self-appointed commander and morals enforcer in his district in Ghor Province, and returned the girls to his custody.

After a kangaroo trial by Mr. Khan and local religious leaders, according to the commission’s report on the episode, the girls were sentenced to 40 lashes each and flogged on Jan. 12.

Efforts to call this to the attention of the authorities have meet with indifference:
The Human Rights Commission took the videotapes and the results of its investigation to the governor of Ghor Province, Sayed Iqbal Munib, who formed a commission to investigate it but took no action, saying the district was too insecure to send police there. A coalition of civic groups in the province called for his dismissal over the matter.

Nor has Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry replied to demands from the commission to take action in the case, according to the commission’s chairwoman, Sima Samar. A spokesman for the ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Humbolt County: More Bad Trips for LSD Users

Humbolt County in Northern California is "the heartland of high-grade marijuana farming in California." The county has been ceded to the marijuana growing industry, as one can see in the film Humbolt County. But now I see in the San Franicisco Chronicle that LSD is a problem there.

Police in one Humboldt County town are warning LSD users to beware after responding to a rash of incidents apparently connected to bad acid trips.

Arcata police say the problems began last month when officers responded to a home where paramedics found a 31-year-old man who had castrated himself.

I followed this to the source in the Eureka Times-Standard, Arcata Police Report Rash of Bad LSD Trips:
It started on April 18, when officers responded to a residence to help Arcata-Mad River Ambulance personnel with a 31-year-old man who had just castrated himself. Medics and officers couldn't find the man's testicles, according to APD, and he later told police that he'd flushed them down the toilet because they contained “monsters.”

Then, beginning on May 8, the incidents picked up. A 21-year old man took LSD and wandered from his home without adequate clothing or shoes and without saying where he was going. The man wandered in the forest for two days while his family and friends looked for him. He returned two days later, according to police.

The next day, police were called to Mad River Hospital to assist with a combative 19-year-old man reportedly undergoing flashbacks -- two weeks after he took LSD.

And the list goes on.

The police are not sure if the recent incidents are due to bad LSD or an increase in usage because the police have not been able to obtain samples related to the incidents, according to Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman. He also made some general observations about the drug:
Chapman said people using the drug can become a danger to themselves and others, and that its use can trigger a mental health “break” in someone with underlying mental health issues.

Arcata is Humbolt County's college town, home of Humbolt State University.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Just Completed My Absentee Ballot -- Voted for Poizner

Last night I received a phone call from one of the automated polling companies. At first I thought it was another Robo-Call. But, it wasn't, so I listened. The questions were about my opinions of the Republican Primary candidates for governor and senator. I used to hang up on these automated polls, but this time I listened to the questions and pressed the number on my phone to answer each one. I wasn't completely honest. On Meg Whitman, I chose the number to indicate I had heard about her and had no opinion. In fact, I had formed a negative opinion of her, but I wasn't quite ready to tell that to the machine.

I have been receiving so many robo-calls this past week. And many Meg Whitman mailers. A few weeks ago, I was a lucky recipient of the Meg Mag, a 48 page magazine titled Meg 2010: Building a New California. I was going to vote for her until I received that extravaganza. The state of California is going broke and she is running as a fiscal conservative who will get the state spending under control. Before the Meg Mag I knew she was spending $65 million on her Primary campaign (well, $68 million now, but who's counting?) and I recognized intellectually that she was spending too much.

But when I got the Meg Mag I couldn't stand the cognitive dissonance. I thought of the old saying "the medium is the message". Whatever good was in the content of the Meg mag, the message I got was the profligacy of creating such a campaign mailer. It is the size of a news weekly. And many pages are just photographs, with maybe a caption or a few lines of text. The message I got was: Spendthrift.

I decided to pay attention to Steve Poizner. And I liked what I saw. As Deborah Saunders explains in her piece on the Meg Mag, Whitman can spend, but can she govern?, Poizner has been
a Republican active in politics over the last decade. While Whitman didn't even register as a Republican until 2007, Poizner volunteered in public schools, steeped himself in the charter school movement and ran for office in a decidedly Democratic district. Failing in that race, he went on to win the state insurance commissioner's post, a rare statewide office win for a Republican. Poizner proclaimed, "I'm not a rookie."

The I got another Meg Whitman vanity piece. This is smaller than the Meg Mag, but even worse in terms of its message. The cover is a large photo of Meg Whitman as a young girl with her mother. Her mother looks nice in a Barbara Bush sort of way and Meg is about 12 or so. Then you open the cover and there is a portrait photo of Meg, again at about 12 or so. The text on the accompanying page reads
"My mom, Margaret, was a determined woman and taught me I could accomplish anything. When we were young, she packed my brother, sister, and me into a Ford Econoline van, and we spent three months car-camping throughout the West" California seemed larger than life, a place where anything seemed possible."
I thought, this is ridiculous. This is childish. The point we Californians have learned is that anything is not possible, at least any more. We are going broke! Why are you spending your money sending me this?

So, now I've shared my secret with you all, the negative opinion I've formed of Meg Whitman. And I've marked my ballot. I voted for Poizner because he has shown an interest in the issues facing California for many years now. He is currently serving in state government. And I think he will hold up better against Jerry Brown in the General Election. Brown is frugal and always was. Whitman has proven herself to be a spendthrift. And California needs a frugal governor.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Times Square Bomber: "Cartoons of Beloved Prophet as War Drums"

CNN has a story that includes a 2006 email from the Times Square Bomber , Faisal Shahzad, that gives some insight into his religious views and hostility to the West and the US in particular. This would seem to put to rest any confusion whether the bombing was motivated by radical Islam.

Within the three page email we find:
It is no doubt that we today Muslim, followers of Islam are attacked and occupied by foreign infidel forces. The crusade has already started against Islam and Muslims with cartoons of our beloved Prophet PBUH as War drums.

We don't yet know why he chose the Times Square location, but this reference to how offensive he finds cartoons of Mohammed leaves open the possibility that he may have been reacting to the recent South Park episode put out by Comedy Central.

Hat Tip Women Against Shariah

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Kagen and the Decline of the American WASP

Some facts and ideas from two articles in the Wall Street Journal today are worth considering.

The first article "That Bright, Dying Star, the American WASP" directly discusses the absence of Protestants on the Supreme Court.
Of the 111 Supreme Court Justices who have served, 35 have been Episcopalians, making them the largest religious group on the court, according to court historians. The court's first non-Protestant was Catholic Justice Roger Taney, appointed by President Andrew Jackson in 1836.

Whether the court's religious makeup even matters in today's legal world has become a subject of hot debate. Yet by ushering in a Protestant-free court, Ms. Kagan is helping to sweep away some of the last vestiges of a group that ruled American politics, wealth and culture for much of the nation's history.

"The fact that we're going to zero Protestants in the court may not be as significant as the fact that her appointment perfectly reflects the decline of the Establishment, or the WASP Establishment, in America," said David Campbell, associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame.

The article goes on to note that other groups are now wealthier than Protestants:

In old-money enclaves like Palm Beach, Fla., Nantucket, Mass., and Greenwich, Conn., WASPs are being priced out of their waterfront estates and displaced on their nonprofit boards by Jewish, Catholic and other non-Protestant entrepreneurs.

A survey by Pew Research found only 21% of mainline U.S. Protestants had income of $100,000 or more, compared with 46% of Jews and 42% of Hindus.

Then in her column "The Lamest Show on Earth", Peggy Noonan describes what she sees as "the great class marker of the age":
The ones on top now and in the future will be those who start off with the advantage not of great wealth but of the great class marker of the age: two parents who are together and who drive their children toward academic excellence. It isn't "Mom and Dad had millions" anymore as much as "Mom and Dad made me do my homework, gave me emotional guidance, made sure I got to trombone lessons, and drove me to soccer."

I think historically mainline Protestants were providing their children with "two parents who are together and who drive their children toward academic excellence." Mainline Protestant churches used to be places where parents could take their children to be surrounded by others who shares the values of two-parent families who valued education. The sexual morality of the Bible emphasized the two parent family. And the Protestant tradition was based on every family being able to read their own Bible, so literacy was emphasized.

These days, mainline Protestants are more concerned with "social justice" and personal gratification. The parents in the churches can get divorced and still be beloved members of the community because divorce is no longer stigmatized. Episcopal priests now celebrate the move to authenticity when men divorce their wives to live authentically in gay relationships. Morality is now about helping in soup kitchens or organizing a protest for some public issue (health care, immigrant rights, etc.) And the ones who are being short changed are the children of the church.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Arizona: 46% of K-2nd grade school children are "English Language Learners"

The people of the state of Arizona say they are being overwhelmed by non-English speaking illegal immigrants and their children. Maybe it is true. I found this table in an article in the Wall Street Journal last Friday on education of non-English speaking school children in Arizona:

How much extra does it cost the state per pupil to educate "English Language Learners"?

Here's a news article I found that says the legal formula estimates the extra costs of educating the English Language Learners at 40 million but:
Horne places that cost at a fraction of the amount put together by the Arizona School Administrators at $304 million. Horne explained he arrived at the $40 million after he weeded out extra costs and deleted textbooks and classroom-space expenses because they are not allowed under the formula created to guide spending on ELL instruction.

Much of the $40 million covers the hiring of 1,500 extra teachers, he said.

Why aren't the newspapers talking abut this when they report on the new legislation in Arizona?

Update: I just found a report from the California Legislative Analyst's Office on the 2007-8 budget that says that for California "Nearly 40 percent of the state’s kindergarteners and roughly one-third of the state’s elementary school students are classified as EL."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Was New York Car Bomb Intended for Comedy Central?

The Viacom building, the parent company of Comedy Central, is located in New York City on Broadway, taking up the block between 44th and 45th. The car bomb was on the southwest corner of 45th St. and Broadway. Please do check the link and do a maximum close up. You will see that the southwest corner of 45th and Broadway is the corner of the Viacom building.

While the US news media are reporting the location as adjacent to the Lion King theater production, the UK's Telegraph is reporting the Viacom Building could have been the terrorist target:
The location is also adjacent to the Viacom building, fuelling speculation that it might be linked to the company's controversial South Park cartoon which recently depicted Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Arne Duncan -- Some pigs are more equal than others

Hmmm, when the US Education Secretary Arne Duncan was running the Chicago schools, his office kept a secret list of special admissions requests to get students in to the elite public Chicago college prep high schools. Admissions to these schools was supposed to be based on test scores, but Chicago political insiders were hoping a special request from Duncan's office would assist their special kids.
The log is a compilation of politicians and influential business people who interceded on behalf of children during Duncan's tenure. It includes 25 aldermen, Mayor Richard Daley's office, House Speaker Michael Madigan, his daughter Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

Non-connected parents, such as those who sought spots for their special-needs child or who were new to the city, also appear on the log. But the politically connected make up about three-quarters of those making requests in the documents obtained by the Tribune.

Many of the politicians named on Pickens' log acknowledged that they made calls on students' behalf because this is how the system works in Chicago. They weighed in on behalf of relatives, friends and campaign workers.

"…Whenever anybody asked me — whether it was a relative, a distant relative, a next-door neighbor or the guy across the street — I would write letters," said Ald. Walter Burnett Jr., 27th, who has ended the practice. "Sometimes the kids get in; sometimes they don't.

Here's how it worked for fromer Senator Carol Mosely Braun, who lives in Hyde Park in Chicago and now has a private law practice there:
In 2008, former U.S. Sen. Braun sought help for two students, though she said Monday she does not recall placing a call to Duncan's office. Pickens said she called him, seeking help getting a student into Whitney Young Magnet High School, and he asked Principal Joyce Kenner to call the former senator back.

Braun said she called Kenner to inquire after one child's mother told her the student's application had been "lost in a computer glitch." Braun said Kenner told her: "I'll take care of it."

The child got into Whitney Young, despite a below-average admission score. The Tribune is not naming any students involved because they are minors and it is unlikely they knew about efforts being made on their behalf.

"This process is not pure, and everyone knows it," Braun said. "The process is a disaster, and quite frankly, I don't have a problem making a call. If the process were not as convoluted as it is, parents wouldn't be asking for help."

While Duncan says he did not "intercede" for anyone, Duncan does admit he forwarded on the request for special consideration to the principals of the elite schools.

Current top Duncan aide Peter Cunningham also confirmed that Duncan talked to the inspector general, but he insisted by e-mail that Duncan "did not lobby or intercede for anyone.''

"In an effort to be responsive, we would log these calls, get the information and forward it to principals, but it was entirely a principal's discretion to respond to the requests," Cunningham said.

As the New York Times reported on this story:

According to The Chicago Tribune, about three-quarters of those in the log had political connections. The log noted “AD” as the person requesting help for 10 students, and as a co-requester about 40 times, according to The Tribune. Mr. Duncan’s mother and wife also appeared to have requested help for students.

“The fact that his name might be next to some of these names doesn’t mean he was trying to get the kid in a school,” Mr. Cunningham said. “He was only asking after someone said, ‘Hi, Arne, is there any way to get into this school?’ ”

Mr. Cunningham said he did not believe principals would have felt any special pressure because Mr. Duncan was the source of the inquiry. “We were always very clear with them that it was up to the principal to make the decision,” he said.

But the Chicago Sun Times isn't buying that excuse. As they write in today's editorial:

Chicago parents have long suspected that a shadow admissions system gave the elite an alternate way to go after a seat at the city's highly coveted college-prep high schools.
Turns out they were right.

The latest bit of evidence is this week's revelation that former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan's office kept a list of aldermen, businessmen and others in positions of power who called his office to appeal admissions denials at test-based public high schools. The flood of calls suggests these folks knew the regular route wasn't the only route.

It appears that most kids were ultimately rejected, and some regular Chicagoans were on the list too -- looking for a safer school for their kid, for example. Duncan's associates defend the list, saying CPS was just organizing the crush of calls they got and that they demanded no favors for the callers. They simply passed the information to principals, without any recommendation.

But in real life, everyone knows a call from the CEO's office isn't received like any old call.

Seems like a good time for the Obama administration to drum up a lot of media attention to violent rhetoric about the Health Care bill.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Social Justice means not having to respect free speech rights of others

I was appalled this morning as I was reading an article in the San Francisco Chronicle to find that the President of the UC (University of California) Students Association appeared before the UC Regents and defended the Irvine Eleven for shouting down the Israeli Ambassador as he tried to deliver a lecture on the UC Irvine campus.

Calling it an intolerable attack on free speech, Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake told the regents that "a great university depends on the free exchange of ideas. This is non-negotiable."

Yet, one by one the students disagreed.

Victor Sánchez, president of the UC Students Association, called the attempt to silence Oren "a social justice issue."

Here's a video of the disruptions. You might think, "Do I have to watch the whole thing?" Well, no, but it really does go on and on, interruption after interruption.

I was glad to see the reporter, Nanette Asimov, put a social justice issue in quotation marks. Who determines what is a social justice issue and when the social justice issue trumps free speech?

I had previously been moved almost to tears as I read the article in the Wall Street Journal in which we learned that Sergei Brin had been the motivating factor behind Google's refusal to participate in China's effort to silence dissidents.

Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin pushed the Internet giant to take the risky step of abandoning its China-based search engine as that country’s efforts to censor the Web and suppress dissidents smacked of the “totalitarianism” of his youth in the Soviet Union.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Brin, who came to the U.S. from Russia at the age of 6 in 1979, said the compromises to do business in the world’s largest Internet market had become too great. Finally, a cyberattack that the company traced to Chinese hackers, which stole some of Google’s proprietary computer code and attempted to spy on Chinese activists’ emails, was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

China has “made great strides against poverty and whatnot,” Mr. Brin said. “But nevertheless, in some aspects of their policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see the same earmarks of totalitarianism, and I find that personally quite troubling.”

I am sure that the Chinese officials view their behavior as socially just and the efforts of the dissidents as efforts to undermine the social justice institutionalized by them.

Then I started reading through the blogs I follow and found Greg Griffith at Stand Firm had posted an article on some gay activists in Boston trying to silence an ex-gay meeting in a church.

Tuesday afternoon, April 28, several major homosexual activist figures, including a prominent state employee, led a screaming demonstration to terrorize a downtown Boston church while it was holding a peaceful ex-gay religious training event inside. Using a bullhorn, they illegally trampled through an adjoining Revolutionary War-era cemetery in order to be directly outside the church's windows. Despite numerous apparent violations of the law, the Boston Police talked with them but refused to make any arrests.

Greg directed as to watch the video at "2:10 when activist Chris Mason holds up a bullhorn to a window with its siren at full blast." But the whole video is instructive as to the tactics of this gay group in Massachusetts.

I am connecting these three, what may seem as disparate, events because to me they show the movements towards and against totalitarianism occurring now in our country. I feel angry at the Irvine Eleven for their behavior but even more so at the UC Student Association President for excusing their behavior because he agrees with their cause. I so admire Sergei Brin for getting Google to stand up to the Chinese government for attempting to silence dissent. And I see the behavior of the gays in Boston as coming from the same place as the Irvine Eleven.

They think that since their cause is just, their tactics are acceptable -- Social justice by any means necessary. But if we lose our rights, like free speech, to implement "social justice", their is no guarantee that future leaders will agree with what is social justice. And those future leaders will not have to give those who see an alternative vision of social justice the free speech to articulate it.

This way leads to totalitarianism. And then won't these "useful idiots" with their utopian ideals of "social justice" be the next to go?

Anyway, that's what I was thinking as I read the news today.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Nigeria: 162 People to be Prosecuted for March 7 Massacre

Reuters is reporting that 162 people face prosecution, of which 41 face the death penalty, for the March 7 massacre of about 500 Christians, mostly women and children, in the villages of Dogo Nahawa, Rasat and Jeji near the city of Jos:

"Forty-one of the suspects are to be charged with terrorism and culpable homicide, which are punishable by death," police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu said.

The remaining detainees would be charged with unlawful possession of firearms, rioting and "mischief by fire" for the burning of buildings during the attacks.

Fierce competition for control of fertile farmlands between Christian and animist indigenous groups and Muslim settlers from the north have repeatedly triggered unrest in central Nigeria's "Middle Belt" over the past decade.

The "Muslim settlers from the north" are Fulani nomadic cattle herders. Those attacked were Berom.

For more context, see these posts on the 2008 riots in Jos:
Media Reporting on Muslim Violence in Jos
Christian Leaders Believe Jos Riots Were Coordinated and Planned