Friday, July 05, 2002
After the dimunition of the Constitution 40 years of the War on Drugs has wrought I shudder to think what the result of a few years of the War on Terror will be. For an excellent book on this subject read Robert Higg's Crisis and Leviathan. (Slate link via TurkeyBlog)
Thursday, July 04, 2002
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
"Global group calls fire a hazard to mankind. Sets up commision to regulate use."
That about sums up current attitudes which call for overregulating everything.
"Become a Muslim warrior during the crusades or during an ancient jihad." Thus read the instructions for seventh graders in Islam: A Simulation of Islamic History and Culture, 610-1100, a three-week curriculum produced by Interaction Publishers, Inc. In classrooms across the United States, students who follow its directions find themselves fighting mock battles of jihad against "Christian crusaders" and other assorted "infidels." Upon gaining victory, our mock-Muslim warriors "Praise Allah."
The Interaction unit contains many other controversial elements. It has students adopt a Muslim name ("Abdallah," "Karima," etc.). It has them wear Islamic clothing: For girls this means a long-sleeved dress and the head covered by a scarf. Students unwilling to wear Islamic clothes must sit mutely in the back of the class, seemingly punished for remaining Westerners.
Interaction calls for many Islamic activities: taking off shoes, washing hands, sitting on prayer rugs, and practicing Arabic calligraphy.
Students study the Koran, recite from it, design a title page for it, and write verses of it on a banner. They act out Islam's Five Pillars of Faith, including giving zakat (Islamic alms) and going on the pilgrimage to Mecca. They also build a replica of the "sacred Kaaba" in Mecca or another holy building.
It goes on. Seventh graders adopt the speech of pious believers, greeting each other with "assalam aleikoom, fellow Muslims" and using phrases such as "God willing" and "Allah has power over all things."
They pronounce the militant Islamic war-cry, Allahu akbar ("God is great.") They must even adopt Muslim mannerisms: "Try a typical Muslim gesture where the right hand moves solemnly... across the heart to express sincerity.""
Where is the Ninth Circuit Court? I guess open promotion of religion in schools doesn't count as long as the religion is not Judeo-Christian.
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
"Rajoub is one of the most powerful figures in the West Bank but has had a falling out with Arafat. During a previous incursion into the West Bank, Israeli forces destroyed Rajoub's headquarters. He ordered the men inside to surrender, forcing them to lose face among many Palestinians."
In other words, Arafat hated Rajoub because it looked like he was positioning himself as a more "moderate" alternative to Arafat. One definitely more acceptable to the West. In fact, Rajoub is the man that Arafat pulled a gun on several months ago in some sort of paranoid fit.
"I don't want to appease them, I don't want to understand them, I don't want to let them reap the benefits of our liberalism while plotting our destruction. Like most Americans, I would have been more than happy to let them pretend the last 400 years of progress never happened, as long as they didn't force their warped-vision goggles on anyone else. But since they brought the war to us, let's pave the middle east with outlet malls, fast food franchises, and Disney Mecca. Let's infect their entire population with personal liberty and dissension and critical thinking. And if that doesn't work, let's flood them with porn spam."
"Just as Germany and Japan had to undergo a process of rehabilitation in order to rejoin the international community following World War II, so today Palestinian society must undergo a transformation. I hope that we will not be sidetracked once again by accepting Arafat's phony promises of reform or legitimating his call for snap elections. This will only serve to perpetuate dictatorial rule that will preclude the possibility of peace. Everyone who genuinely wants peace in our region should now heed the president's call and work toward reforming Palestinian society. For only if the Palestinians are truly free can we hope to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East."
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
I guess now we need to add Agatha Christies 'Life Terminating Activities on the Trans-Asian Express' to our list of PC book titles.
Also someone should inform the folks at the Institute for Oriental Culture at the University of Tokyo and the Institute for Oriental Study in India. They should know how offensive they are being to people of Asian extraction.
"BY ANY modern standard of civilization, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a bizarre place. In an age of spreading consensual government, the House of Saud resembles an Ottoman sultanate staffed by some 7,000 privileged royal cousins. The more favored are ensconced in plush multi-million dollar palaces and maintain luxury estates abroad in Paris, Geneva, Marbella, and Aspen. All 7,000 haggle over the key military and political offices of the kingdom—normally distributed not on the appeal of proven merit but more often through a mixture of blood ties, intrigue, and bribes.
Polygamy is legal, and practiced, among the Saudi elite. Everywhere in the kingdom, women are veiled, secluded, and subject to the harsh protocols of a sexual apartheid. A few female Saudi professionals who in 1991 drove cars as a sign of protest mostly ended up arrested and jailed. Women who have traveled to the West remain under the constant surveillance of the Committee for the Advancement of Virtue and Elimination of Sin, a Taliban-like government watchdog group of clerics and whip-bearing fanatics.
There is no religious tolerance in Saudi Arabia for creeds other than Islam; in our State Department’s own muted nomenclature, “Freedom of religion does not exist” there. The Wahhabi strain of fundamentalist Islam—over 30,000 mosques and growing—is prone to occasionally violent spasms. The Saudi constitution is defined officially by governmental decree as the Qur’an, and the legal system is the domain of clerics who adjudicate by an array of medieval codes and punishments. Presently the UN Committee Against Torture is asking the Saudis to curtail flogging and amputations; so far, they have answered that such punishments have been an integral part of Islamic law “for 1,400 years” and so simply “cannot be changed.”"
If Bush wanted to get really serious about states sponsoring terrorism we would start withdrawing our troops and let the House of Saud fend for itself with a clear message that we will consider any attempt by any future government to withhold oil an act of war (also another reason to open up ANWR). And while the troops are still there any female soldiers should remove the veils they are forced to wear in public and the chaplains should start holding regular services for any Christian, Jewish, Hindu or other faith servicemen who wish to attend them. (end of rant)
"The United States cannot and will not compromise on the International Criminal Court. Commentary from various European governmental representatives and blathering heads are, for the most part, talking around the reason why. Either it's because they're disingenuous or because they truly don't understand us and our system. For instance, the BBC comments:
To its European and other critics, United States opposition to the Court seems to be based on a fundamental unwillingness to limit American sovereignty in any way.
That makes it sound like we're petulant children unwilling to compromise because we're stupid, ignorant and stubborn. (Where have we heard that before.) Sorry, but it's much deeper than that.
We keep running into this. Again and again, in international treaty negotiations, the Europeans would come up with some grand idea for a treaty clause which had the slight flaw that it violated the US Constitution. They'd then apply pressure to the US to agree to such clauses, and US negotiators would refuse, and the US would get denounced for being stubborn, unilateralist, not a team player. Never mind that stupid Bill of Rights; it's just a piece of paper. National charters are a thing of the past, obsolescent; we're moving past that into postmodern internationalism and trying to form a world confederation, and the only way we can do it is if every country gives up its own sovereignty and becomes part of that process. Now, are you going to play along, or what?"
The whole piece is well worth reading.
"But today Israelis fear the transition is happening in reverse. "The suspicion slips into the heart that maybe the ultra-Orthodox were right when they warned that a sovereign state for Jews would annoy the nations and bring annihilation on the remnant of the Jewish people," wrote Peggy Cidor, a former left-wing activist, in Kol Hazman, a secular Jerusalem newspaper. "The state of Israel, which was intended to give the Jews an entry ticket into the family of nations, didn't deliver the goods. We're still being judged by separate standards; there is still no proportion between our actions and the responses around the world.... It was nice to feel like everyone else for a while, but that seems to be over.... The state of Israel has turned into the `Jew' of the nations."
But now the world is closing up again. I know Israelis who hesitate to write their home address on their luggage when they travel to Europe. When some Norwegian supermarket chains recently announced plans to mark Israeli products so customers could consider boycotting them, a spokesman for the normally understated Israeli Foreign Ministry caustically suggested that the chains use yellow stars."
Monday, July 01, 2002
One wonders what the resulting fire did for biogical diversity in the forest?
"The U.S. Forest Service approved a plan to thin trees and remove volatile debris in parts of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest on the Mogollon Rim in September 1999, according to court records. The plan was halted after the Center for Biological Diversity appealed the decision, then sued in May 2000, claiming the Forest Service had not followed regulations.
The matter is still pending in federal court.
Environmentalists say they can't be held responsible for the fires raging out of control in Arizona. But the lawsuit all but halted any kind of fire prevention work in the Apache-Sitgreaves forest, said Pat Jackson, regional appeals and litigation officer for the forest service in New Mexico. About 90 percent of the management area where forest thinning was blocked by the lawsuit has burned, he said."
If I were a Dead Russian Composer, I would be Sergei Rakhmaninov.
I lived in the early Twentieth Century and was well known for my compositional, conducting, and piano skills, yet I am melancholy despite this talent. My famous works include my nearly-impossible piano concerti.
Who would you be? Dead Russian Composer Personality Test
If I were a Dead Russian Composer, I would be Igor Stravinsky.
Known as a true son of the new 20th Century, my music started out melodic and folky but slowly got more dissonant and bizzare as I aged. I am a traveler and a neat freak, and very much hated those rotten eggs thrown at me after the premiere of "The Rite of Spring."
Who would you be? Dead Russian Composer Personality Test
Alternative religion practitioners of Eastwick
Snow White and the Seven Vertically Challenged Gentlemen
Ali Baba and the Forty Socially Separated Men
The Merry Life-Partners of Windsor
The Under-Attractive Duckling
and as a bonus here are the politcally correct versions of Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs
Sunday, June 30, 2002
"I was aware, as we all are, that the Palestinians hate the state of Israel. What has surprised me is the virulence of this new anti-Semitism throughout all the Muslim countries. It is frenzied, vociferous, paranoid, vicious and prolific, and is only incidentally connected to the Palestinian conflict. Hope, the familiar bromide, seems to have little to do with it. The moment of high hope following Camp David saw a surge, not a diminution, in the tide. It is a singular phenomenon; there is nothing comparable to it in relation to Arabs or Muslims.
Who could be naive/crazy/malign/misguided enough to disseminate such fabrications? The effluent is from official sources, newspapers and television in Arab states, from schools and government-funded mosques, from Arab columnists and editorial writers, cartoonists, clerics and intellectuals, from websites that trail into an infinity of iniquity. The appearance of modernity in the Arab media is illusory. More important than the presence of the hardware is the absence of the software, the notion of a ruggedly independent self-critical free press. CNN will film American bomb damage in Afghanistan; al-Jazeera and the Middle East stations would never dream of talking to the orphans and widows whose loved ones were blown apart by a suicide bomber. An Arab critic of America and the coalition is always given the last word. How could people be so susceptible to misinformation? Well, conspiracy theories simplify a complex world. The absence of evidence is itself proof of plot: missing records at Pearl Harbor, missing bullets in Dallas, missing bodies in Jenin. Preconceptions are outfitted in fantasy. Contradiction by authority is mere affirmation of the vastness of the plot: so he’s in it, too. Conspiracy and rumour bloom, especially where the flow of news and opinion is restricted and illiteracy is high."