Wolf Pangloss's Fish Taco Stand

"But, reverend father," said Candide, "there is horrible evil in this world."

"What signifies it," said the Dervish, "whether there be evil or good? When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?"

"What, then, must we do?" said Pangloss.

"Hold your tongue," answered the Dervish.

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Location: Edge City, Titan

31 August 2007

Thai Kids nicknamed Ball, Bank, Oil, Mafia, and Seven

The other day brought an interesting item about Afghans being named for days of the week. Today, Preeti Aroon of Foreign Policy explores the nicknames children are given in Thailand.

In Thailand, children are given playful nicknames that stick with them through adulthood. Traditional nicknames have included Yaay (Big), Moo (Pig), and Dam (Black).

But in a rapidly changing, globalized world, more parents want "modern" nicknames for their kids—names that derive from TV, Hollywood, and other foreign influences. Some kids have been nicknamed Mafia and Seven (as in 7-Eleven). One teacher has students named Tomcruise, Army, God, Kiwi, and Gateaux (yes, that's the French word for "cakes"). A survey of students in one city found that the most popular English nickname was Ball—possibly after famous Thai tennis player Paradorn Srichaphan—with Oil and Bank following behind.

I am enraptured by names like Preeti, or as I have heard it elsewhere, Priti, so this whole story fills me with a sense of wonder.

As for me, just like Johny Cash you can call me Sue, after John Edwards and the other big-time class-action lawsuit abusers who are wrecking industry in America.

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Women are the first to fall under the Tyrant's Thumb

No Pasaran! has been reading Emily Parker's recent interview with Mario Vargas Llosa and notes that the Rafael Trujillo (of the Dominican Republic) and Saddam Hussein dictatorships had similar tastes in women.
Mr. Vargas Llosa describes traveling to the Dominican Republic and being stunned to hear stories of peasants offering their own daughters as "gifts" to the lustful tyrant. Trujillo and his sons, he tells me, could abuse any woman of any social class with absolute impunity. The situation in the Dominican Republic, which he refers to as a "laboratory of horrors," may have tended toward the extreme, but it underscores a larger trend: "The woman is almost always the first victim of a dictatorship."

Vargas Llosa continues
Mr. Vargas Llosa discovered that this phenomenon was hardly limited to Latin America. "I went to Iraq after the invasion," he tells me. "When I heard stories about the sons of Saddam Hussein, it seemed like I was in the Dominican Republic, hearing stories about the sons of Trujillo! That women would be taken from the street, put in automobiles and simply presented like objects. . . . The phenomenon was very similar, even with such different cultures and religions." He concludes: "Brutality takes the same form in dictatorial regimes."

Did this mean that Mr. Vargas Llosa supported the invasion of Iraq? "I was against it at the beginning," he says. But then he went to Iraq and heard accounts of life under Saddam Hussein. "Because there has been so much opposition to the war, already one forgets that this was one of the most monstrous dictatorships that humanity has ever seen, comparable to that of Hitler, or Stalin." He changed his mind about the invasion: "Iraq is better without Saddam Hussein than with Saddam Hussein. Without a doubt." [link]

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Iraqi WMD samples were hidden in UN File Drawer

The UN has been lying to us about Iraqi WMDs. In a sarcastically titled article, California Conservative sets out the timeline that proves it:
  • 1996: Chemical agents found in Baghdad, moved to U.N. office
  • 1996: U.N. began corrupt Oil for Food programme that lined Saddam’s pockets with billions in kickbacks.
  • 2003, Feb 14: on the eve of war Saddam “issues directive banning private companies and individuals from importing WMD materials or producing WMD”, according to the Iraq Survey Group/David Kay.
  • 2003, March: U.S. invaded Iraq.
  • 2003, Sept. 16: John Bolton as Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security address Congress concerning Syria’s WMD capabilities.
  • 2003, Oct: Kay and ISG told Congress WMD may have moved over Iraq’s border.
  • 2004, March: U.N. reports Iraq had no WMD after 1994.
  • 2007, Aug: U.N. finds WMD from 1996 in their NYC building.

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30 August 2007

Defiant Heroes and Scapegoats

I don't get it. Why do Republican politicians go after sinning Republican politicians with such gusto?

Teddy Kennedy (D) was supported by Democrats after drunk driving Mary Jo Kopechne to her death by drowning. His nephew Patrick Kennedy (D) was pulled over by DC cops for driving drunk and stoned on pain medications, and somehow escaped getting charged with any crimes. Gerry Studds (D) had sex with a 17-year-old male page, and was cheered for his defiance of the Ethics Committee by his fellow Democrats. Jack Murtha (D) escaped indictment in the Abscam investigations. "Dollar" Bill Jefferson (D) was caught with $90,000 of bribes in his freezer, was re-elected in New Orleans, and still serves in the Congress. Speaking of Bill Jefferson, William Jefferson Clinton (D) was impeached for having sex with an intern who worked for him and lying about it, and is now a respected elder statesman of his party whose wife is running for President, which would bring him back to the White House, with more time on his hands than he had before.

Democrats circle the wagons and go on defense, or into counterattack mode, when one of their Democrat comrades finds himself in a scandal, whether earned or unearned.

Of the recent Republican scandals, Duke Cunningham actually did something wrong and deserves his jail sentence. But Larry Craig, Mark Foley, Alberto "Pinata" Gonzalez, and Scooter Libby were all smeared and railroaded. All but Craig have already fled the public eye because they have been so relentlessly demonized by Democrats and Big Media, and were kicked to the corner by Republicans. It was similar with Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich. Their main "crime" seems to have been that they were too effective in their roles.

What explains the different treatment of Democrat and Republican sinners? Why do Republicans scapegoat sinners, while Democrats treat their sinners as heroes for standing against conventional morality? Is it merely that Republicans stand for morality and Democrats stand against it? Or is there a problem with a party that is so quick to jettison its own sinners, without having a plan to replace them with other effective Republicans? Is there a problem with a Republican party that cannot find it within its heart to forgive its own sinning sons, a party that would agree with the Prodigal Son's brother, and not his father?

The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to [1] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ [2] 22 But the father said to his servants, [3] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Why do Republicans rush to attack and jettison other Republicans as fast as Democrats can smear them? Hey Republicans. We are all sinners. How about a little forgiveness for a sinning brother now and then when there is still a war that must be won--a war that could be lost if the current set of degenerate Democrats grab the remaining levers of power? And how about sticking up for the team like Marc Antony did in the "Friends, Romans, Countrymen speech?

Others who all disagree with me via memeorandum.

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Righting the Capsized Narrative of the Vietnam and Iraq

Robert Tracinski outlines the case:
In a speech last week, President Bush surprised everyone by citing Vietnam as an analogy to Iraq. Just as we paid a "price in American credibility" for our abandonment of Vietnam, he argued, so we will suffer an even worse blow to the credibility of American threats and American friendship if we retreat from Iraq.

The New York Times, borrowing "military parlance," described this as Bush's attempt at "preparing the battlefield--in this case for the series of reports and hearings scheduled on Capitol Hill next month." The military terminology is appropriate, since this war will not be won or lost only on the battlefield in Iraq; it will be won or lost in the political battles that will be fought in Washington, DC. And Bush's invocation of Vietnam may turn out to be a brilliant rhetorical flanking maneuver. In one stroke, he has unexpectedly turned the political battle over withdrawal from Iraq into the last battle of the Vietnam War. The effect on the right has been electrifying. One conservative newspaper, the New York Sun, has even taken the step--inconceivable a year ago--of dedicating a page of its website to parallels between Iraq and Vietnam.

This certainly has caught the left by surprise, since the history of the Vietnam War is territory they thought they owned and controlled, which is why they have attempted to fit every conflict since 1975 into the Vietnam template. An editorial cartoon published early during the invasion of Iraq aptly depicted the Washington press corps as unruly children in the backseat of the family car, pestering the driver with the question, "Is it Vietnam yet? Is it Vietnam yet?" They assumed that if Iraq was Vietnam--if it fit into their Vietnam story line about dishonest leaders starting a war of imperialist aggression that was doomed by incompetent leadership and tainted by American "war crimes"--then it was guaranteed to be a humiliating defeat for their political adversaries.

Yet while the left complacently trotted out its same old Vietnam story line, a few historians have been busy revising and correcting the conventional history of the war. The leading work of this school is Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, by Mark Moyar. What makes Moyar's argument interesting is that he had access to facts that the conventional history of Vietnam, written in the 1970s and 1980s, could not have taken into account: the archives in Hanoi and Moscow, which reveal what our enemies regarded as our victories, our weaknesses, and our worst mistakes.

And at Protein Wisdom, Karl lists the butcher's bill for the Media's Bias, including their incorrect appraisal of Vietnam. With lots of links. The article is called The Big Picture(s).
Though public opinion polls consistently show that Americans consider Iraq to be the most important issue facing the country, establishment media has slashed the resources and time devoted to Iraq. The number of embedded reporters plunged from somewhere between 570 and 750 when the invasion began in March 2003 to as few as nine by October 2006. The result was the rise of what journalists themselves call “hotel journalism” and “journalism by remote control.”


Noah D. Oppenheim, who visited Baghdad for MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” noted that “The consequence of this system is that, on television, the story in Iraq is no more than the sum of basic facts, like casualties, crashes, and official pronouncements.” The data back Oppenheim. The television airtime devoted to coverage of Iraq has plunged dramatically. Television networks devoted 4,162 minutes to Iraq in 2003, 3,053 minutes in 2004, 1,534 minutes in 2005 and 1,122 minutes in 2006. The amount of time and space devoted to Iraq coverage has continued to decline through the first half of 2007.

Both these articles are well worth reading in their full. And worth bookmarking.

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29 August 2007

Bari Atwan prays for Israel to be nuked

For the record. From the Jerusalem Post:
Talking about Iran's nuclear capability on ANB Lebanese television on June 27, Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, said, "If the Iranian missiles strike Israel, by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight." [...]

"If a war breaks out, where will the Iranians retaliate? If Iran is able to retaliate, it will burn the oil wells, block the Strait of Hormuz, attack the American bases in the Gulf and, Allah willing, it will attack Israel, as well," Bari Atwan continued.

That is what I mean by a prayer. "Allah willing, it will attack Israel."

Who is Abd Al-Bari Atwan, anyway?
Bari Atwan founded the pan-Arab daily in London in 1989, and today the paper has a circulation of around 50,000. He is also a regular commentator on Sky News and BBC News 24.

So, should we expect Bari Atwan to be introduced primarily as someone who prays for Israelis to be murdered by nuclear bombs whenever he appears on Sky News and the BBC? After all, if he were a member of the KKK nobody would care what paper he edited. If he denied the Holocaust... wait. Never mind. He gets a free pass for Holocaust denial because he is Muslim.

H/T: memeorandum

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Moscow Women getting hitched to Muslim Men

From Paul Goble at Window on Eurasia:

Vienna, August 21 – A significant fraction of ethnic Russian women in Moscow are choosing to marry Muslim men -- at least in part because the latter typically do not smoke or drink, want several children, and are prepared to work to suppor t their families, according to researchers at the Russian Academy of Science.
During the first half of 2007, there were more than 60,000 marriages in the Russian capital, a quarter of which were between native Muscovite – typically an ethnic Russian woman -- and a citizen of a neighboring country – more often than not a man from Azerbaijan or Central Asia.

And partially as a result of this trend – and not just the Kremlin’s current pro-natalist policies -- Russian demographers say, the number of births is increasing: During the first six months of this year, there were 48,225 newborns in Moscow, some 2438 more than in the same period a year earlier

The article goes on to hit pretty hard at ethnic Russian men.
Olga Kurbatova, a senior scholar at the Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, noted that “girls in the capital see in migrants precisely the model of a real man: in practice, they don’t drink, especially Muslims like the Chechens, Ingush and Azerbaijanis,” they work hard, they are able to support a family and they want children.”

“Many of our [ethnic] Russian men,” she noted, are “exactly the opposite” with regard to each of these highly valued characteristics.

In other words, Moscow's women won't marry Russian men because they (Russian men) are lazy drunks who can't support a family and don't want kids. Any Russian men out there, now you know what the problem is and it's up to you to find a solution.

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28 August 2007

Can Muslims Awaken from their Civilizational Nightmare before they bring about the end of the world?

Very interesting from Bahrani blogger Emoodz, as translated by Amira Al Hussaini of Global Voices.
My family, like a lot of other families in Bahrain, suffers from a breakdown due to work, which never ends. We rarely meet as a family for lunch on weekdays. This gives lunch gatherings during holidays a special flavour, even if they lack in all the rice and curry dishes as many of us are avoiding getting obese - which has become the boogie man many families have been avoiding in the last half of the previous decade, mostly at the expense of delicious food.

While speaking to my dad as he was devouring a piece of Mullet (type of fish) in a unique ferocity associated with Bahranis (Shia population of Bahrain), we started speaking about sectarianism and the division in society based on sects, particularly in Bahrain, and around the Arab world in general. He spoke in depth about how religion was the basis and reason for sectarianism, adding that it is now one of the woes we as Muslims have to accept without objection. Islam has ruled on the unification of Muslims,, and that are as equal as the teeth of a comb, with the only differences being their righteousness and good deeds. But at the same time, it (Islam) opened the door for the plurality of sects, which in turn, created a sectarian dispute between Muslims. Islam too decreed on upbringing the new generations based on a sound basis and immaculate behaviour. However, today it has become a hatching ground for terrorism, which is crime and barbarism, enveloped in politics. Although Islam called for unifying the ranks and waging Jihad on the conquerors, today we see it replaced with sedition between Muslims every where. So Islam, or rather Islamic theory, has spawned three sons. They are sectarianism, terrorism and sedition. This is the trinity which has resulted from the Islamic theory and which will one day bury Islam and replace itself in its place. And we Muslims will be the ones to pay the price.

“I am not saying that Islam is a sectarian ideology but sectarianism is a natural consequence of Islamic theory.” He said that while spitting the bones of the fish from his mouth and getting closer to the plate of water melons. I didn’t respond to him, especially when his views had a lot of truth in them. This is because Islamic theory, even if it called for unifying Muslims, it couldn’t build the foundation upon which the desired Muslim unity could be established. As a result, the Muslim society changed from a unified one to another made of narrow minded groups, each alleging that they represent religion and history and accusing all those who don’t share their views as being apostates.

However, are we really a society which is ready for unity? Do we have the basis for unity? Can we live as a homogeneous nation on this land, putting citizenship and the general good of our society as a basis for showing preference to each other? Is it true that if break down the religion obstacle we will succeed in achieving this? Will we be able to overcome the class system which has become so widespread in this society? After a person is classified as Shia or Sunni, the situation gets further complicated. If he was Sunni, he is further sub-classified depending on the tribe he comes from and whether he is of Arab or Huwala origins and this further breaks down to whether he is close to the Ruling Family or related and other factors. On the other hand, if he is Shia, then the classification depends on whether he is originally from Manama or a villager. Those from Manama are city people and are thereby better and more sophisticated than those from villages, who depended on farming and fishing for their livelihoods. The next basis of classification is their religious role-model and that is a cause for preferences as the followers of one look down on the followers of the rest. Another cause of friction is whether they are the followers of this matam (Shia religious gathering place), who are in constant fights with the followers of that matam, etc.

The end result is that sectarianism (or the class system) is something deeply rooted in us, in more ways than we know. And even if we agree that we shouldn’t differentiate between the people of this nation to the degree that we wouldn’t be able to make out one person from the other, it would be impossible to completely eradicate sectarianism (or the class system), given our current conditions. All that I am saying is that this division and sectarianism is the result of the backwardness which is deeply rooted within us and that Islamic theory (even if it is the scapegoat we can hang the blame on for all our troubles today) is only a means which was used to implement sectarianism among us.

The situation is critical. We are living today on a keg of oil which is about to explode. Remember how religion was abused in the so called war of the Afghan Mujahedeen and how it resulted in the birth of the Taliban mentality which is among the most dangerous terrorist and extremist mentalities today. Remember how the conflict with Iran in the 80s resulted in dangerous terminology which is still being echoed in our newspapers today such as calling people Majoos (fire-worshipers) and Safawis (in reference to the Shia Safawi dynasty in Iran) and how these terms have created a rift in our society and how its wounds are still apparent after 20 years?

Will we ever wake up?

Questing toward an Awakening from the Nightmare

The view from halfway across the solar system is fuzzy and indistinct. But I can make out three major issues.

First, Arab Muslim kinship is unusual among the peoples of the Earth in that they typically marry within the lineage. A man will prefer to marry his father's brother's daughter. This is called consanguineous marriage, because it is within the same bloodline or lineage. Because both man and wife marry within the same lineage they grew up in and raise their children in the same lineage, they are less likely to develop close ties with each other than if one was in a strange place. Both husband and wife already have long-standing support systems in the lineage. The woman is less likely to be divorced by her husband (because he won't be allowed by his kin to divorce her), and she and the children will be protected by his and her kin if she is divorced or widowed. She will probably end up married to one of his brothers as a second or third wife. It is a very stable system for lineages, but less stable for societies. The rate of consanguineous marriage is between 30% and 80% in the Arab world. This makes the lineage more important than anything to Arabs. It also explains veiling, and the bandit tribe nature of Arab ruling families, but that's another issue.

Compare this to the old European standard form of cousin marriage. A man of old Europe would have preferred to marry his father's sister's daughter or his mother's brother's daughter. Since intermarriage between clans was often used to patch up disputes, it became the standard thing. Wives would leave their family and bear children into the lineage of their husbands. A woman's brother's children were not therefore of the same lineage as hers. And the result of this sort of marriage over time is that the lineage has not the same central importance as it has in a consanguineous system. Clan and tribe ties were looser and reached further, and this tended to encourage the development of nations where all felt a real sense of brotherhood and family that permeated all the strata of society.

These days in the West, cousin marriage is frowned upon and in many places it is prohibited by force of law. This is one of the keys to the peaceful societies of the West.

Second, Jihad is a religious obligation to wage war for Allah. And in order that warriors be ready to wage war against infidels, human nature being what it is they will keep in practice by assaulting other clans. Once a dispute has started between clans the feuds are almost impossible to start because of the importance of lineage and family honor. As long as Jihad is a religious imperative for holy war Muslims will prefer war to peace. As long as they prefer war to peace they will fight among themselves. And as long as they constantly fight the hostility between lineages will be increased and sustained.

Third, Ideology is a powerful idea, powerful, perverse and uncontrollable. The 20th century is littered with mass ideological movements that hoped to bring about a new Eden by making simple systemic changes to human behavior, and instead created Hell on Earth for their victims. Nazism, Communism, Socialism, and the Islamism of the Taliban and Al Qaeda are some of these movements. These ideologies all operated under the assumption that human behavior could be adjusted and perfected by a vanguard or elite class. And yet what happened when ideologies such as Soviet Communism were able to form governments and rule over people? Human behavior stayed the same and the system adjusted in order to force humans to support the Communist system, thus turning into a vast and efficient machine for crushing human will. A wise man once said, "Be careful what you wish for. You might get it." The initial, idealized goal of anointing a vanguard to create a system for the equal and free exercise of human will was irrelevant to the resulting system. Rather, the ideological system when implemented had perverse effects that crushed human will in a devilish, tyrannical machine. And this is all because ideologues insist on defining their systems by their intentions, which never works, rather than their results. The only way to get to the desired end point is to start by deciding how you will know when you have reached your goal, then take a small first step and test the results, then take another small step and test again. Repeat again and again, honing the result with each step and measurement, and once you have reached the end state, as defined by the results you expected when you started the trip, then you have a path that works. And what works, the path that falls out of an organic and non-ideological process like this, is a benign and loving and humane system.

Ideology is not sufficient, or even necessary, to create a good result, the most important piece of the puzzle is understanding how you will know when you have gotten to the good place. If you know that, the path will follow.

When Arab Muslims solve these three problems of consanguinity, Jihad, and ideology, they will have solved the riddle of what this Bahrani writer calls sectarianism. They will be able to function as cohesive nations with non-tyrannical, representational systems of government. They will put down the weapons of holy war and redefine Jihad as an inner struggle. They will stop thinking of marriage as a way to reinforce the ties within their lineage and start thinking of it as a way of creating linkages and reducing tensions between different lineages.

The answer to the question posed in the title is "YES."

Should Muslims desire to awaken from their civilizational nightmare the first step is to ban cousin marriage in all Muslim states. It is a hard step to take, but it is worth it for the promise the future holds.

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The Afghan Names of Char Khoone

In Iran they have Char Khoone, an Iranian television series that depicts Afghan characters as villains.

Since the beginning of the summer Iranian TV has aired a series named Char Khonneh every night. Sehat Sroush , the series’ director does not have any film making experience. At the beginning, this series did not have a large audience, but then the director created a new characters in order to make people laugh. Some of these characters are Afghans and their names are Shanbeh (means Saturday) and Charshanbeh (means Wednesday).

Though the Iranian declaration of this year as the year of Solidarity between Muslims, the Afghan blogger Dialog 3 says this is not a brotherly way to behave.
Dialogue 3 says examples like Afghans who call their children by the name of days of week, creates hatred between Moslem countries rather than solidarity

Surely the year of Solidarity between Muslims is the reason for all the diplomacy that Iran has been busy with this year. Trips to Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, Venezuela, Cuba, Peru, if I don't miss my guess Zimbabwe, North Korea and China too. If there is a Moslem or non-Moslem tyranny anywhere in the world that Ahmedinajad hasn't visited in his global perambulations this year I can't name it, unless you count the Fiery Pit of Hell as one.

And I think that dwells within him, anyway.

But more endearing to me is that Afghans are likely enough to name their children for days of the week and other quirky choices. In the English Speaking World we have movie stars like Tuesday Weld (right) and nursery rhymes like this one:
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child must work for a living,
But the child that's born on the Sabbath day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay.

And naming children funny, non-traditional names is a pop-culture phenomenon. Camera Ashe, Seven Sirius and Puma Badu, Zowie Bowie, Sailor Lee Cook, Kal-el Cage, Suri Cruise, Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence, Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette, Bogart Che Peyote and Rocco Kokopelli Rainey. These are the names of celebrity children. They are the names of the children of wealth. Only the wealthy dare name their children such fantastical names. Such names are an indication of parental wealth and the joy of parents in their children. Wealth comes in many forms. It can be money or power or confidence or happiness or culture. And the fact that names like that are found in Afghanistan says good things about Afghanistan, even if some Afghans are embarrassed by it.

Who knows, maybe Iranians are secretly jealous of names that don't remind them of a single day, always Friday.

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The Shaha Boy, Torture and the Egyptian Police State

Egypt's police have a reputation for brutality. Even so, the fate of the Shaha Boy is sickening.
This innocent [12 year old] boy entered the police station alive and left it as a dead body with all the signs of torture and pain. The following pictures are really shocking and appalling, so people with a light heart should heed my warning.

The minister of interior affairs’ assistant denies all that has happened, the photos that follow show such claims to be a lie.

The official report said that Mohamed Mamdouh did not have any signs of torture on his body, and that the cause of his death was due to heart failure

However, his body suffered from burns, fractures, serious injuries from electric shock to his buttocks and his testicles

What was the crime of a skinny 12 year old?

H/T: D.B. Shobrawy at Global Voices.

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Foolishness and Guilt

Do you agree with Villagers with Torches? I do.

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27 August 2007

Alms for Jihad: it's baaaaaaack!

From Bryan at Hot Air:
According to an email that we received today, Alms for Jihad authors Robert O. Collins and J. M. Burr have gotten the publishing rights to the book back from Cambridge University Press. They’re in negotiations with US publishers to have it published here in the US.

I wrote about Alms for Jihad and the libel tourist Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, personal banker to the Saudi royal family, former CEO of the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia and the unindicted, former Chief Operating Officer of of BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce International), the international criminal bank, here.

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A Russian Reason to Ban the Burka

My child, upon seeing a stranger in a burka, asked "why is that person dressed like a thief?"

The burka should be banned in all civilized lands. The burka is an excellent full-body and full-face disguise under which men can pose as women and also carry weapons and other items. The latest evidence is from Afghanistan.
A Russian citizen has been arrested in Afghanistan as a suspected associate of terrorists, the Iranian hews agency IRNA reported on Monday.

It said the man identified as Andrei, who professes Islam, and two citizens of Afghanistan had been arrested in the province of Paktia near the border with Pakistan.

A representatives of the Paktia authorities said they had been arrested after about 500 kilograms of explosives had been found in their automobile.

The Russian man allegedly told police he had entered Afghanistan from Pakistan after trips to Egypt, Turkey, and Iran. He planned to travel to Tajikistan from Afghanistan and then to Russia.

According to police, all three men were wearing women’s clothes.

H/T: Jihad Watch.

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Jewess Runs for Parliament in Morocco

Positive news from Al-Masaa via MEMRI.
A Moroccan Jewish woman, Maggie Cacoun, is to head the women's list of the Al-Wast Al-Aghtama'i party in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Morocco.

Cacoun, who defines herself as a "nationalist Moroccan," said that she does not want her religion to be the main issue in her candidacy.

The party's secretary-general said that Cacoun's candidacy was "an opening for Jews as a fundamental element among the elements of the Moroccan identity."

Another Jew, Joseph Levy, is currently the party's deputy secretary-general.
I wonder how she will do in the election.

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26 August 2007

Wordpress Blocked in Turkey

Seems that paranoid Creationist Adnan Oktar, aka Harun Yahya, has pressed the Turkish courts to issue an Internet ban on the whole Wordpress.Com domain in Turkey, because he claims to have been libeled on some Turkish language blogs on Wordpress.

This is one of the perils of increasing Globalization, along with libel tourism.

Give moral support to Wordpress to stand firm against this sort of fascist pressure to censor vast groups of people to protect the feelings of a single, well-funded crackpot.

Update: An explanation from "Edip" who is the target of the block.
The accusation of the Turkish lawyer, Mr. Kalkan, who represents a control-freak client who has blocked hundreds of websites before blocking wordpress, is not accurate.

I do not have a single blog on wordpress. Unfortunately, last year I came across a blog, which was using my name and posting a few articles of mine. However, if the owners of the wordpress check their database, they will know that none of those blogs have anything to do with me.

Occasionally, some of the former cult members who were spiritually, emotionally, and financially abused by Adnan contact me for help; but I know only a few of them personally, and I never recommended them to use wordpress for their fight against Adnan and the Turkish courts protective of him. It was their decision to fight the Turkish courts through blogging.

Personally, I do not approve blog-spamming; but knowing the abuse and suppression these young men and women have encountered in Turkey, I can understand and respect their motives. Their overuse or abuse of wordpress was their only chance to fight against a system that unfortunately has protected a cult leader that abused his victims to their bones in multiple ways.

After Adnan Oktar banned my website, www.19.org, I hired an attorney in Turkey. (I live in Arizona). After spending several thousand dollars on attorney fees, after getting another court order unblocking my website for Turkish visitors, after more than a year, we are still unable to actually unblock the website. Why? Perhaps, the cult has infiltrated to the Turkish Telecom company, as it infiltrated to some key government offices. This cult is no different than a malicious virus.

Thus, after all of this, I asked a friend of mine to manage a website (not wordpress), www.yahyaharun.com, to expose the real motives and works of this cult, which is harming many bright young Turkish children of rich families.

I stand by every statement I write and I never hide my name in my work. I am not scared of Turkish government nor the USA-Inc. I am a free-minded person and I support the freedom of expression of every idea, including those of my enemies. If you check the forums of www.19.org and its archives, you will see hundreds of criticism posted against my work and person; some even containing obscene insults against me.

As a principle, I never use obscene language and I am mindful of the moral implications of accusing someone, including my enemies, falsely. As I said, my fight against this cult and its leader was initiated by Adnan, the so-called Yahya Harun, not me. I am a very busy person, and I wish my path was never crossed with that cult leader.

I invite every rational freedom-lover to stand up against this cult for the following reasons:

1. Adnan Oktar’s cult is a fascist organization.

2. Adnan Oktar’s cult exploits young and gullible spiritually, emotionally, personally, and financially.

3. Adnan Oktar’s cult isolates the children of wealthy people from their parents.

4. Adnan Oktar’s cult uses black-mail and bribery to frustrate those who were harmed by the cult.

5. Adnan Oktar’s cult promotes pseudoscience. For instance, it promotes false ideas about the theory of evolution.

6. Adnan Oktar’s cult promotes racism, more specifically, anti-Jewish ideas.

7. Adnan Oktar’s cult considers Adnan Oktar as the promised Mahdi (Muslim version of Messiah) and propagates silly stories fabricated in medieval times.

8. Adnan Oktar’s cult exploits the work of cult members and puts the brand name “Harun Yahya” on all the books and videos.

9. Adnan Oktar’s cult plagiarizes the work of others (including mine), and attributes them to Adnan Oktar under his pen name, Harun Yahya.

10. To appeal masses, Adnan Oktar’s cult fakes as Sunni, yet among themselves they follow the cult’s rules.

11. According to numerous reports, Adnan Oktar’s cult engages in group sex and promote anal sex with girls they consider “concubines”.

12. Adnan Oktar’s cult uses money, political connections, and backward Turkish legal system to censor the former cult members to expose the secrets of the cult.


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Today's Opus: Big Media fails another test of character

Big Media papers are failing another test of character. Today many are not running Opus, not because in the words of Ace of Spades it has failed to "bring teh funny" over the last years, but because today it mentions the phrases "radical islamist" and "muslim fundamentalist." Beware, another ridiculous cartoon jihad is on its way.

Note to Opus readers: The Opus strips for August 26 and September 2 have been withheld from publication by a large number of client newspapers across the country, including Opus' host paper The Washington Post. The strips may be viewed in a large format on their respective dates at Salon.com. [source]

Go see it at Salon.

H/T: little green footballs

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HuffPo Fascist Calls for Coup D'etat in USA

As Captain's Quarters pointed out tonight, there is a snakepit of fascism and treason in the US that seeks to overthrow the president in a Coup D'etat: The ringleader is Martin Lewis at the Huffington Post.
Martin Lewis claims that the military can arrest a President while not conducting a coup d'etat by focusing only on his role as Commander in Chief of the military:
General Pace - you have the power to fulfill your responsibility to protect the troops under your command. Indeed you have an obligation to do so.

You can relieve the President of his command.

I'm not linking to this at the HuffPo. Follow the links through CQ if you must.

H/T: memeorandum.

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25 August 2007

This and That

Being a few things that I found that are not connected, nor necessarily timely.

From Abscam On: The career and modus operandi of Rep. John P. Murtha:
Murtha's patronage for his district has made him one of the most powerful members of the House of Representatives and a huge roadblock standing between the Democrats and the kind of meaningful ethics reform they promised during their 2006 "culture of corruption" campaign. The money he secures for Johnstown comes back to him in the form of campaign contributions, which ensure his reelection and provide him with surplus cash to give out to other members. Murtha has been reelected 16 times, giving him seniority in the House and the plum committee assignments that go with it. His chairmanship of the defense subcommittee gives him control over half of the earmarks in every defense appropriations bill, which buy him even more loyalty and influence in the House. On top of all that, Murtha has a strong relationship with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, dating back to when he helped get her a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee. He is an integral part of the new Democratic majority -- and it cannot be the party of institutional reform as long as he is in power.

Evidence of that was on recent display when Murtha twice violated a new rule governing earmarks -- provisions lawmakers can attach to bills directing agencies to fund specific projects -- and got away with it when his party defeated a Republican's attempt to hold him accountable. During one of their sporadic attempts at ethics reform since taking over Congress, House Democrats passed a new rules package in January that included a measure forbidding members to condition earmarks for other members on how they vote. In early May, Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, offered a motion to remove a $23 million earmark for the National Drug Intelligence Center from the intelligence authorization bill on the grounds that several government agencies tasked with auditing the center have declared it to be an inefficient and duplicative waste of taxpayer money. The only problem with Rogers's attempt to cut the center's funding was that the center is in Johnstown, and the guy who sponsored the earmark was John Murtha.

First, Murtha allegedly threatened Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a Kansas Republican and fellow member of the Appropriations Committee, for voting with Rogers. (Tiahrt, whose district houses a Boeing assembly plant with business before Murtha's subcommittee, declined to comment for this article and isn't discussing the incident.) Then Murtha went after Rogers: "I hope you don't have any earmarks in the defense appropriation bill because they are gone, and you will not get any earmarks now and forever," Murtha said. When Rogers told Murtha that this was not the way to handle their dispute, Murtha responded, "That's the way I do it."

A few items about Willi Münzenberg, a very influential propagandist for the Communist Party of Germany in the Weimar Era and founder of many of the front groups that spread Communist theory internationally.

From Stephen Koch at the New Criterion.
He was a major German Communist, but he was more. Since around 1921, Lenin had empowered Münzenberg in a series of tasks, some very public, some very secret, that left this dynamic man the de facto director of the Soviet Union’s covertly directed propaganda operations in the West.

The field of covertly directed propaganda operations is an area in the world of secret services which until now has rarely been mapped. As a result, the role of such operations in both the cultural politics of this century and its power politics has rarely been understood. Yet if one follows Münzenberg from Lenin’s side to the forest where he died, his path serves as an Ariadne’s thread through much in twentieth-century politics. The byways of his career link the most secret operations of revolutionary politics to central cultural events of the century. Through Münzenberg, the Kremlin is tied to Bloomsbury; the effects of his operations move from the Elysée to Hollywood and back to the Left Bank, from the life of Ernest Hemingway in Spain to André Gide speaking at the state funeral of Maxim Gorky. It is a thread that snakes through many mysteries, and across many encounters with betrayal, terror, and murder, not least of which is the possible murder of Münzenberg himself. It leads to the Second World War. It leads to the founding events of the Cold War. [link]

A review of The Red Millionaire: A Political Biography of Willi Muenzenberg, Moscow's Secret Propaganda Tsar in the West, by Sean McMeekin, from Quadrant.
EVERYBODY SEEMS agreed that Willi Muenzenberg (1889 - 1940) was a genius. Arthur Koestler said it repeatedly. David Caute spoke of his "financial genius", Stephen Koch of his "entrepreneurial genius", Richard Krygier and Arnold Beichman of his "propaganda genius". I did my bit too - describing him years ago as an "impresario of genius". So after all that nonsense, it is a relief at last to read Sean McMeekin who says that, if Muenzenberg was any sort of genius at all, it was an evil genius.

He was certainly a master con man, but according to McMeekin in his new book The Red Millionaire, he was also a true believer. He supported the Revolution from 1917 to his death in 1940. From the famines and the forced collectivisation on to the slave camps, Muenzenberg was always there to defend the Kremlin and the Soviet Union. The Communist Party was his life. It gave him his luxury apartment in Berlin, his chauffeur, bodyguard and private barber. It put him into the Reichstag and bailed him out of all his financial disasters.

In return he gave back two rich prizes. He invented the Front and he was the first to mobilise the Fellow Travellers. The front was an apparently independent organisation that was always secretly controlled by the Communist Party. Muenzenberg had a gift for conjuring them up - hundreds of them over two decades - at almost a moment's notice. They might seem to serve any purpose - against poverty, racism, fascism, imperialism and war, or in support of peace, culture and justice. But they were all instruments of the Communist Party.

Their supporters and most office bearers were rarely members of the party. They were the fellow travellers who prided themselves on their cultural cultivation and their disdain for the brutish loyalty of party members. As Jim McAuley put it in his caustic autobiographical essay "On Being an Intellectual", they all danced to the tune of their ideological pipers, some according to the strict choreography of Joseph Stalin and others in incoherent snatches. Muenzenberg despised them all - and knew how to stroke and use them.

Two pieces from the American Thinker of theological interest:

The Return of the Old Gods: A Challenge to Green Evangelicals: "
Wicca, along with the rebirth of such ancient nature religions as Druidism, are at the forefront of the modern Green movement. According to Catherine Sanders, author of Wicca`s Charm:
"Since Wiccans essentially deify the earth, a key element of Wicca is having a positive impact on the environment. Wiccans have become active in environmental circles, and I discovered that many Wiccans had been spiritual seekers or raised as Christians but felt that the Church had little to say about the care of the environment."

The goddess movement, such a large part of Wicca, leads naturally to Ecofeminism, the fusion of feminist thought with radical environmentalism. In short, earth worship is at the core of the modern environmentalist movement. Gaia Theory draws its name from the ancient Greek goddess of the Earth, and there is a touch of mysticism involved; the theory is that all life and the inorganic parts of the Earth are hopelessly interrelated to the point of forming a sort of überlife. Gaia theory is a major factor in the thinking of many environmentalists, and consequently looms large in the whole Global Warming debate.

So, too does socialism, that 19th century worship of blind economic processes, and the fusion of the two is called Ecosocialism. It is interesting to note the many socialists are involved in the "save the planet movement" -- most notably Mikhail Gorbachev, former dictator of the defunct Soviet Union. Why, one may ask, would environmentalism appeal to socialists? Every action of a human being has some affect on the environment. People must eat, which means someone must use land for farming, people must drink clean water, which means disturbing lakes, rivers, and wetlands, people must breathe which means exhaling the evil greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. By the very act of existence, a person necessarily disturbs his or her environment.

A doctrine which advocates the radical reorganization of civilization must find some impetus to compel people to make those radical changes. The promise of a future utopia was not enough to convince people to allow the communist yoke to remain around their necks, so the threat of extinction is being employed.

And Who Is Allah?, by Soeren Kern.
Muslims claim that in pre-Islamic times, "Allah" was the biblical God of the Patriarchs, prophets and apostles. Indeed, the credibility of Islam as a religion stands or falls on its core claim of historical continuity with Judaism and Christianity. No wonder, then, that many Muslims get uppity when the claims of Islam are subjected to the hard science of archaeology.

Because archaeology provides irrefutable evidence that Allah, far from being the biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was actually the pre-Islamic pagan moon-god. Indeed, it is an established archaeological fact that worship of the moon-god was the main religion of the ancient Middle East.

But what about the Arabian Peninsula, where Mohammed (570-632) launched Islam? During the last two centuries, prominent archaeologists have unearthed thousands of inscriptions which prove beyond any doubt that the dominant religion of Arabia during Mohammed's day was the cult of the moon-god.

In fact, for generations before Mohammed was born, the Arabs worshipped some 360 pagan gods housed at a stone temple in Mecca called the Kabah. According to archaeologists, the chief deity of Mecca was the moon-god called al-ilah (meaning the god or the idol), which was shortened to Allah in pre-Islamic times. Pagan Arabs even used Allah in the names they gave themselves: Mohammed's father (Abdallah), for example, had Allah as part of his name.

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24 August 2007

Not Islamophobia, but a justified concern

Responding to a heartfelt essay by Army Girl, I would start by saying that Islamophobia should properly be defined as a "senseless reaction against Islam." Defined thus, any fact-based objection to Islam is not Islamophobia, but justified concern.

Army Girl depended on Wikipedia's Islamophobia article, which features the Runnymede list of the eight characteristics of Islamophobia.

  1. Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
  2. It is seen as separate and "other." It does not have values in common with other cultures, is not affected by them and does not influence them.
  3. It is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive, and sexist.
  4. It is seen as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism, and engaged in a clash of civilizations.
  5. It is seen as a political ideology, used for political or military advantage.
  6. Criticisms made of "the West" by Muslims are rejected out of hand.
  7. Hostility towards Islam is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society.
  8. Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural and normal.[12]

I urge all who are interested in finding out the truth of the situation for themselves to start by reading the Koran. It's a relatively short book, and the message is easy to understand, if not to accept.

Robert Spencer has addressed the Runnymede list here. Twelve prominent Muslim free-thinkers signed a statement here rejecting Islamophobia as a meaningful label. Josie Appleton rejected the concept of Islamophobia as useful. Jenny James responded to the original article in 1997 with an article named When Fear is a Crime. Socialist Paul Anderson responded to the Runnymede definition by asking if he was an Islamophobe too. Trotskyite Harry of Harry's Place believes that the Runnymede definitions are destructive:
It is precisely those who seek with the label 'Islamophobe' to shut off any discussion of oppression within a Muslim dominated environment who are accepting the idea that Islam and/or Muslims cannot change.

The Runnymede report itself was a reaction to Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa of death against Salman Rushdie. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine what could have possessed the Runnymede Trust to spring into action to defend Muslims from being embarrassed because one of their most prominent Muslim leaders sent assassins out to kill a writer living in England. In other words, a death fatwa led to a diagnosis of Islamophobia as the problem.

The response of westerners who love their civilization and do not wish to give it up must forcefully reject Muslim criticisms of the West for being too Western and not Islamic enough. The criticism implied by the promotion of the word Islamophobia is just such a criticism. The West is not seeking to be transformed into a Muslim system, or engulfed by one, or to accept Islam as its equal or superior, but to remain itself. Members of the Ummah of Islam itself are seeking to transform the West, as has become official public court testimony recently in the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas.
The most compelling evidence of the Brotherhood’s true aims is contained in an internal memorandum written in 1991 by as senior Brotherhood leader and titled: “On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” In the document, the author is strikingly clear about the ultimate goal of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States:
“The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.
[The Ikhwan in North America: A Short History]
Of the Runnymede list, numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are questions which can be resolved as factual or not by examining the Koran and other items of evidence.

Number 1 is supported by the Koran commanding Muslims to take no Christians or Jews (let alone atheists or polytheists) as friends or associates, and to treat all other Muslims as brothers. Would be reformers are jailed or killed, and apostates are killed promptly. Change is not a part of Islam, since change agents are killed.

Number 2 is supported by the same commandments as 1, plus the distinction between the Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb, the house of Islam and the house of War, and the perpetual war of Islam against everything else declared by Muhammed as his last act. At the end, after the Muslims kill all the Jews (aided by talking rocks and trees), all religion will be for Allah. Everyone else will be dead or converted. Though Islam holds some values in common with other cultures, its steadfast rejection of everything un-Islamic does separate it utterly and place it in opposition to the rest of the world.

Number 3 is supported by the evidence. Who cuts off the heads of their enemies? Who tortures enemies to death? Who declares that everyone who isn't just like them is an enemy? Who still practices honor killings, female genital mutilation, human slavery in Sudan and Dubai and elsewhere, and perpetual warfare against all outsiders, who are called pigs and dogs and infidels? Who is stuck in the dark ages? Who calls modern Americans and Europeans Byzantines and Romans and Crusaders, I mean seriously? Whose religious law states that the legal testimony of women counts as half a man's? Who prosecutes and jails or stones women for adultery when they are raped? Who makes music illegal?

Number 4 is supported by Jihad, which means struggle, but in the sense of My Struggle, or in German, Mein Kampf. Individual Muslims may not like killing, but they are commanded to kill infidels and apostates by the Koran. And terrorism is an integral method of carrying out Jihad. Muhammed personally commanded assassinations, suicide attacks, genocidal slaughter and mass rape of enemies.

Number 5 is supported by Muslims themselves, who will gladly state that the weakness of Christianity is that it is an incomplete belief system that does not bind every aspect of life in a web of law that can only be violated at great risk of death. Religious Muslims do not seek personal freedom, but perfect subjection to Allah's word. And Salafist Sunni Islam is used by Arabs as a tool for Arabic imperialism, to spread the Arabic language and culture among non-Arab Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

In fact, many of the beliefs in the Runnymede definition are characteristic of such prominent Muslims as Osama bin Laden, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Does this mean that these famous Muslims are actually Islamophobes? Or does it indicate there is something fundamentally dishonest about the people who use the word Islamophobia?

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23 August 2007

George W. Bush: August 22, 2007 speech to the VFW Convention

Given in Kansas City, a great speech on terrorism, the Iraq War, and parallels to Vietnam. Read it for yourself and check out the history yourself. Don't believe the left-wing media spin about it.

Read more »

22 August 2007

I could cuss a blue streak, but I won't

When I was a lad, bicycling home from junior high school, which proves me to be of a certain age, I practiced cussing. Emphatically spitting out the saltiest four-letter words individually, separately, serially in combination, and by deconstructing and reconstructing them to come up with truly split infinitives in a wish to be specta-fricking-tacular at something that proved I wasn't quite as good and harmless a kid as everyone thought, I worked at the tetraphonic vocabulary like a beagle worrying a bone.

Shortly I mastered the four-letter obscenity, and with my equally foul-mouthed pals would toss them in profusion at the slightest provocation. Out of Mountain Dew? Getting dark and need to go home for dinner? Got mud on your shoe? Got a sentence that is too boring to be borne? Just feel like cussing? Anything could be an appropriate reason to start cussing.

In front of adults we would mind our manners. But when only peers were about, a casual observer might have wondered why we all sounded like convicts or Tommy from Goodfellas (which hadn't been written let alone released yet, so now that I think further this development would have been truly miraculous).

High school faded into college and I moved into an all-male hall in a dormitory, and then the cussing got really serious. With nobody about who would admit to being an adult, we all rebelled and cussed a blue streak together. Taken in sum with our shared attraction to sarcasm and existentialism I am certain we were completely unbearable. Reactions from the young women at the college tended to bear this out. Imagine a gang of sarcastic cussing existentialists who think they're smarter than you or anyone else, and ... well ... you don't have to imagine. Just go here and read.

Eventually I started to wise up. I noticed that when I started cussing people looked at me differently, with less respect. And however inventive I got with cuss-words, they were still only a few words to replace a vast vocabulary much as a cloudy night sky obscures thousands of glittering stars in the firmament. When I got married and had kids I resolved to stop cussing so darn-tootin much. I realized that people instantly treated me with more respect for holding my tongue than they had before. Even when I substituted gibberish for cuss-words I got more respect than when I lost control and polluted the air with bad old habits.

And now, I usually don't cuss. On occasion, I lose my temper or suffer from moral weakness, and then the verbal vermin come out. I smack myself after, and apologize to all who were near. Is that a sign of developing conservatism? I suppose it might be. Regardless, it's a positive development.

Try it yourself. Say, "I could cuss a blue streak, but I won't."

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Seek Truth and Report It

From Ace of Spades via TigerHawk via Dissecting Leftism. Ace tears into the increasingly desperate Big Media:
No one -- no one -- ever got into the media to report on local car collisions or new and exciting federal farm subsidies.

What they got into the media to do was to tell people how and what to think, and its that prerogative of the Intellectual Aristocracy, and not the unglamorous business of information collection, collation, and dissemination, that they're crying about losing.

Note that they do not dare actually state their belief that they are specially qualified to do the thinking for the American public. They can't say such a thing. The public would laugh at their presumption -- some idiots went to a one year finishing school (and not a particularly academically demanding one besides) and now they have the special privilege of deciding what the public should think about each and every issue?

So instead they have to make the argument dishonestly -- whining about a job that isn't seriously threatened in order to preserve the job they really fret about losing, but a job which no one ever asked them -- let alone beatified them -- to do. How reporters got conflated with analysts and general-purpose experts without portfolio is anyone's guess. But that conflation having been made (at least in the minds of some, particularly their own), they'll be damned if they're going to give that gig up now.

Ace was griping about an editorial in the LA Times. But he's talking about a well known journalistic "type," the idealistic journalist who wants to "make a difference," break "the next Watergate," to "speak truth to power," and "stick it to the man." And judging by the evidence in every paper, the wire services and papers are chock full of such bozos.

The central problem with journalism today is that journalists do not do their central mission well.

Reporting must be "who what where when and how." "Why" is almost always pure speculation and should be eschewed.

Reporting should begin at the beginning of the facts, take the shortest path forward through the facts, and end when the facts run out. Reporters should be at least as scrupulous about standards of evidence as the police (and yes I realize the police are flawed on this score). Today's story should cover the facts of today, not choice tidbits from yesterday or the day before to spice it up (and add bias through repetition). Rumor and hearsay is not a story, it is falsehood masquerading as a story. Anonymous sources and "he said/she said" are not factual. They are rumor and hearsay. They are useful because they might point the way to a real story. But whether they pan out or not, rumor and hearsay cannot be used. They are rumor and hearsay and not news except to gossip columnists. [based on my comment here].

Now it may be hard to believe, but Journalists actually do have a professional code of ethics. One is here. Some of the lines in this code of ethics are valuable; others imperil truth telling. Here is my whack at analyzing it, and however ambitious this may be, fixing it.

How it isHow it should be
Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.
Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.
Seek Truth and Report It
Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should
Seek Truth and Report It
Journalists shall be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Focus on "who, what, where, when, and how." Do not write "why," unless you have a first person confession or other incontrovertible evidence.

Journalists must

* Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
* Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
* Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
* Always question sources' motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
* Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
* Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
* Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
* Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
* Never plagiarize.
* Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
* Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
* Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
* Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
* Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
* Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
* Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
* Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

* Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible. "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."
* Allegations of wrongdoing are only that: allegations. Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing. Perform research to check out the facts behind allegations and assertions. Assume all allegations and assertions are false to some degree, and check them out before writing them down.
* Identify all sources, or do not use them. Anonymous sources make for rumor and innuendo.
* Anonymous material is not news. It is rumor and innuendo. Stories are based on facts and named sources. Emphasize this fact to sources who request anonymity. If you promise anonymity, deliver.
* Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
* Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
* Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, it's a bad story.
* Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
* Never plagiarize.
* Support the free speech of others by accurately and clearly relating what they say, no matter how repugnant you find it to be.
* Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
* Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
* Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
* Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.
Minimize Harm
Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

Journalists should:
Honor and Respect Others
Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as honorable human beings deserving of respect, unless facts prove the opposite.

Journalists must:
* Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
* Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
* Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
* Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone's privacy.
* Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
* Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
* Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
* Balance a criminal suspect's fair trial rights with the public's right to be informed.
* Follow the golden rule. Treat the human subject of reporting as you would have them treat you.
* It is better to err towards trusting those accused of terrible things than to err towards distrusting them. Trust, but verify. This is the journalist's version of the legal presumption of innocence.
* Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
* Do not descend vulturelike to photograph or interview those affected by tragedy or grief. Wait until they have had time to recover their dignity.
* Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort, and that reporters will sometimes make mistakes that harm people. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance. Remember that you make mistakes and stay humble.
* Public officials and celebrities have private lives that should be treated as private. No more do they deserve lurid curiosity, humiliation, persecution or embarrassment than do journalists.
* Recognize that private people have an even greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and celebrities. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone's privacy.
* Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
* Be cautious about identifying juveniles, witnesses, and crime victims.
* Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
* Balance a criminal suspect's fair trial rights with the public's right to be informed.

Act Independently
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.

Journalists should:
Act Honorably
Journalists should be good citizens and trustworthy, honorable persons who are known for keeping their word and telling the facts.

Journalists must:
* Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
* Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
* Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
* Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
* Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
* Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
* Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

* Be honorable, respectful, virtuous and kind. Cultivate your virtues. Volunteer in civic and charitable organizations in your community. Develop and maintain a reputation as a good person, a good citizen, and a local leader. Don't be one of those soi-distant journalistic putzes who gives us all a bad name.
* Avoid real conflicts of interest. Be scrupulous.
* Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility, especially with criminals, agents of foreign powers, and terrorists.
* Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment.
* Do not report stories where you have a personal conflict, in the same way that judges recuse themselves from cases. Request that another reporter without a conflict be assigned to work those stories.
* Be energetic, vigilant and courageous about finding the facts and reporting them.
* Deny favored treatment to advertisers and those with connections inside other departments of your publication and resist pressures to influence news coverage.
* Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.
* If a story appears to good to be true, someone is probably trying to take you for a sucker.
Be Accountable
Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

Journalists should:
Be Accountable
Accountability is an important virtue for journalists. Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

Journalists must:
* Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
* Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
* Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
* Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
* Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.
* Listen to and endeavor to understand constructive criticism.
* Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
* Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
* Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
* Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
* Abide by the same high standards to which journalists hold priests and government officials.

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21 August 2007

Olbermann Goes Broadcast--Don't Watch Football on NBC this Sunday Night

Brent Baker passes on a NBC press release.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann will bring his unique take on the day's events, from politics to pop culture, to a primetime network audience this Sunday night. A special edition of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will air on Sunday, August 26th at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT on NBC, leading into the network's "Sunday Night Football" pre-season NFL matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers, live at 8 p.m. ET. Olbermann is joining the network's "Football Night in America" studio team this season. The special edition of "Countdown" will be broadcast live from MSNBC's studios.

As Baker notes:
It sounds like a test to see how many viewers Olbermann's brand of left-wing harangues can capture in prime time on a real network, though maybe in his Sunday night broadcast debut he'll limit the politics and stick to his “Oddball” and celebrity segments. Given that the Football Night in America highlights show will air in the same time slot once the NFL season begins, we should at least be spared any further Sunday night airings of Countdown until after the NFL season ends.

Olbermann is a cartoon character of Democrat demagoguery, every night proclaiming yet another Republican to be the "Worst Person in the World." This Sunday night, NBC will put this cartoon character, who puts the lunatic in lunatic left, the moon in moonbat, the freak in freakshow, on broadcast television leading up to the football game. NBC is stealth-substituting Olbermann for Dateline, so beware.

We know the worst cartoon person in the world: Olbermann. And we know the worst cable news network: MSNBC. NBC makes the trifecta.

Don't watch football on NBC this Sunday.

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Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

                Matthew 7:15-16