Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Grand Canyon, Science and God

It seems that scientists were a bit off in terms of the age of the Grand Canyon. Now, this is no big deal relative to an economy in the toilet, the war in Iraq racheting up a few notches, or the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but it is of minor interest.

Scientists had estimated the Grand Canyon to be about six million years old. That's still true in one sense, but now scientists realize that the western half of the GC started developing 17 million years ago.

An Arizona geologist, Wayne Ranney, was almost ecstatic. "This is really exciting for those of us work in the stories and theories of how the Grand Canyon has evolved. This ... helps us to more clearly understand that different parts of the canyon formed at different times. That's how big the Grand Canyon is."

Some people, religious people even, would say that there is a god out there who created the Grand Canyon however many years ago through an evolutionary process. No biggie.

A few religious fundamentalists, however, have picked up this story as an example of how scientists don't know what they're talking about and how there is no way the GC could have been created millions of years ago when the entire earth is only 6,000 or 8,000 or 10,000 or 12,000 years old (the actual age depends upon what fundamentalist or creationist school you belong to).

Here are a couple of actual responses to the Grand Canyon story (from AOL News):

1. "where is the outrage at the scientists? when a Christian says its around 8000 years old people are outraged and say scientific fact proves otherwise, well what happened to the scientific fact. Facts do not change they do not evolve into new fact either it was or the scientists were a-lying."

Other than the writer is almost illiterate, that is a funny comment and shows a complete and total lack of understanding as to what science is all about and what evolution is all about. Hopefully, this person is not a teacher or in any other position to influence our children.

2. The second response is a of a question/answer type:

"Some say: The Canyon is greatest cathedral in the world.

"I say: The Vatican is the greatest cathedral in the world.

"Now: How long will this new age of the Canyon last before, 'science' discovers another 'age' for the Canyon?"

I'd respond to these moronic statements, but I don't think it's worth it.

On Wearing a Niqab

There's a row in merry olde England as to what Muslim women should be allowed to wear. Some Muslim women are strolling around the streets of London completely covered except for an eye-slit in a garment called the niqab.

More than a few Londoners don't like it. The controversy has been going on now for several years and will no doubt continue for several more. More and more people want to make it against the law to wear the niqab.

There have been incidents. A niqab-clad lawyer was told she could not represent her client because the judge could not hear her. A teacher similarly garbed was told to go home. A student pressing her desire to cover herself head to foot while attending school, sued and lost.

One newspaper columnist, David Sexton, said he thought Britain was too lax. "I find such garb," in the context of a London street, first ridiculous and then directly offensive."

The wearing of the niqab does not seem to be an absolute necessity for Muslim women. The Muslim poobahs in Great Britain have said a plain old headscarf [hijab] is adequate. And only a very small minority of Muslim women in Great Britain wear the niqab.

The more devout Muslim women, however, believe wearing the niqab is something they must do; it is part of their identity. One young woman said "If I dressed in a Western way I could be a Hindu. I could be anything. This way (wearing the niqab) I feel comfortable in my identity as a Muslim woman."

There are other Muslim women, who, since 9/11, see the niqab "as a form of rebellion against the policies of the Blair government in Iraq and at home." A 24-year old Muslim said "For me it is not just a piece of clothing, it's an act of faith, it's solidarity."

Then some Muslim women have been taught that it's specifically a religious thing. A young Somali woman claimed that "Wearing the niqab means you will get a good grade and go to paradise ... when you wear something for Allah you get a boost."


Religions are fascinating. Does Allah require men wear specific clothing? I guess he says men must have beards, but what else? Isn't the real reason for the niqab to keep men from looking lustfully at a woman's physical charms? But why is that necessary when a man can have up to four wives anyway?

Could the niqab requirement be a way that Muslim men control Muslim women? Kinda the same thing as keeping 'em barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen?

If the more devout wear the niqab and go to paradise, what does that mean for the less devout who wear only the hijab or nothing at all?

It's kinda sad, too, that a woman would best find her identity in clothing that hides her entire physical being - except for her eyes.

It's all very confusing. And why would a god who could create an entire universe care about what clothing a few minor characters in his cosmic play wear?

The Holocaust Journal (Lest We Forget)

Germany - 1939 (III)

Poland became the testing ground for the "Final Solution," under Hans Frank, the governor-general of Occupied Poland. Frank said that Poland was a colony of Germany and the Polish people were "slaves" of the German Reich.

According to The Holocaust Chronicle, from which most of this material is taken, Frank "annihilated the Polish aristocracy, military and political leaders, priests and intelligentsia. He robbed art treasures, exploited material resources, and forced tens of thousands into slave labor. As people suffered, Frank lived ostentatiously in the royal palace in Krakow."

But Frank was frustrated by the fact that the Nazis had "dumped" so many Jews in Poland. He was unhappy about having to shoot or poison three and a half million Jews, but promised he would do his best.

From the invasion to the liberation of Poland, about six million people were murdered in that country, half of which were Jews. Frank was tried and executed as a war criminal in 1946.

* October 8 - The restriction of Jews to ghettos begins in Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland.

* October 10 - The Nazis establish a Generalgouvernement in Poland which is considered "an administrative area" and not part of Greater Germany. The death camps will be located in this Generalgouvernement.

* Mid-October - The SS starts the mass-killing of "mental defectives" in a forest near Danzig.

* October 24 - Jews in Wloclawek are required to wear a yellow triangle.

* October 26 - A decree is issued making slave labor mandatory for all Poles between the ages of 14 and 60.

* October 30 - SS chief Himmler sets a goal of clearing all Jews from rural areas in Western Poland in three months. Thousands of Jews will be uprooted from their homes and ousted from their communities with nothing more than what they can carry on their persons.

* November - Several German generals plot to overthrow Hitler at Zossen, Germany but it is never carried out.

Hans Frank establishes the first Judenrat (Jewish council) in the ghettos. The council leaders are required to follow Nazi orders.

* November 7 - Jews are deported en masse from western Poland.

* November 8 - Hitler narrowly escapes death from an assassin's bomb in Munich.

* November 11 - German troops in Ostrow Mazowiecki, Poland, murder six hundred Jews.

* November 12 - Jews begin to be deported from other parts of Poland.

* November 13 - 53 Jewish men are executed by the SS because they happen to live at the same address as a Jewish man who shot a policeman to death.

* November 15-17 - The Nazis destroy every synagogue in Lodz, Poland.

* November 23 - When Polish Jews go out in public they are required to wear white armbands with a blue Star of David.

* November 29 - Himmler orders that all German Jews who fail to report for deportation will be executed.

* December - The commander-in-chief of the Germany Army Group East, Johannes Blaskowitz, says that many Jewish children sent to the concentration camps are frozen when they arrive.

* December 1 - In Chelm, Poland, 1350 Jews are murdered.

* December 1 - 9 - A forced march of 1800 Jewish men results in the death of 1600.

* December 5-6 - The Nazis seize all Jewish property in Poland. They take businesses, homes, furniture, money, bank accounts, etc. The Jews have nothing left to keep them alive.

* December 12 - In eastern Germany, all Jewish males between 14 and 60 must serve two years at forced labor.

* December 16 - In Lodz, Jewish girls are forced to clean latrines with their blouses which are then wrapped around their faces.

The ghettos established in Poland in 1939 were intended to be transitional areas to hold Jews removed from their homes. Soon, however, the ghettos became the point of departure to the death camps in Poland.

The ghettos deteriorated rapidly and became places of immense suffering. They were places of hunger, disease, squalor, despair and death. And there was no way out, except to an exterminaton camp.

This link connects to a five-minute video of the IAF (Israel Air Force) flying over the Auschwitz death camp. It is quite moving and well-worth your time.

John Boehner, the "Fiscal Hawk"

Ken Silverstein has an interesting piece on House Minority Leader John Boehner, (R-Ohio), in Harper's Magazine.

Silverstein says that Boehner likes to pretend publicly that he is a "no-nonsense fiscal hawk and friend of the little guy and gal."

Boehner isn't alone in this duplicity, of course. The Congress is full of such birds.

But Boehner overplays the role: "While families struggle with rising costs of living, politicians are wasting their money on pork-barrel projects we don't need," said he, ruefully. You'll see how hypocritical that is at the end of this essay.

Boehner also enjoys playing the role of reformer. It's a good deal - for him. Here's how it works.
He claims he is all for finance reform and lobbyist reform, etc. The reality, however, is quite different.

The outfit that gave the most money to Boehner's leadership PAC since 1989 is the student lender, Sallie Mae. Before he became Majority Leader (when the House was Republican-controlled), Boehner chaired the House Committee on Education and the Workforce! He was able, in that position, to champion measures that would benefit Sallie Mae. One measure, which dealt a "serious blow to the competing direct-loan program," was passed and signed by President Bush.

It get's more interesting. Boehner at several different times was a guest of Albert L. Lord, the head honcho of Sallie Mae, on the corporation's jet - flying to golf outings in Florida. "The company also helped sponsor a party that Mr. Boehner threw in New York at the 2004 Republican National Convention." (Sourcewatch.org)

There's more of this stuff, the most interesting of which has to do with monies received from the Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff, and the basement apartment in Washington he rents from a lobbyist "whose clients lobby on issues that came before Boehner when he chaired the Education and Workforce Committee."

Silverstein says that Boehner, unlike his constituents in Ohio, is not struggling with rising costs of living.

Between 2005 and 2007, Mr. Boehner spent about "$685,000 on food, travel, entertainment, and fundraisers..." While raising money at a recent golf outing in Scottsdale, Arizona, his leadership PAC spent $5,054 on lodging, $3,358 on food, beverages and green fees, and $2,870 at a local steakhouse.

In 2007, Boehner used political funds to pay for fun and games at 16 resorts or country clubs. His combined spending between 2005 and 2007 at just one country club amounted to almost $60K.

As Silverstein says, "Boehner's three-year binge at the country club comes out to be roughly equivalent to the median family income (for a three-person family) in Boehner's home state of Ohio."

What's really depressing is that Boehner is probably typical of most of our Representatives and Senators!

Is Prezident Bush Reading Your Mail?

Last December 20, the prezident signed a new postal law. The USPS was happy as it "will benefit both residential and business customers by ensuring predictable price increases tied to the rate of inflation." This and other changes will put the USPS "on firm financial footing for the future," said Postmaster General John E. Potter.

Shortly after a bi-partisan group of Washington poobahs watched him sign this new law, the prezident sneakily issued another "signing statement" that said he had the right to open people's mail under emergency conditions without a warrant or judicial authority.

Whoa! That's illegal! Or as someone else noted, what Bush signed "is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill" to which he had just affixed his name!

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), said in spite of Bush's claim of legality, which allows him to ignore a basic privacy protection, the "new postal law continues to prohibit the government from snooping into people's mail without a warrant."

The problem is that Bush doesn't bother with those legal niceties. And Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington, says Bush's claim that he has the right to open people's mail without a warrant is "new and quite alarming."

Another, unnamed senior U.S. official warned that "You have to be concerned. It takes Executive Branch authority beyond anything we've ever known."

Bush, as usual, says there are certain "exigent circumstances" where he has the right to open mail without a warrant, such as "an imminent danger or a longstanding state of emergency."

As Jesse Wendel of Group News Blog says satirically: "I feel safer already."

Then Jesse asks, rhetorically: "Reading our mail? Letters from soldiers to their boyfriends and girlfriends. Strategy memos from Fortune 500 Companies to strategic partners including how they'll bid on government jobs. Whistle-blower memos. Letters to criminal defense lawyers, priests and rabbis."

The stage is set for our new, reformed, biblical, compassionate dictatorship: All we need now is an "exigent circumstance." Like setting fire to the Reichstag, maybe?

Mr. Good Enough or a Few Good Men

Suzanne Fields, in an article titled "Looking for Mr. Good Enough," wrote that some women with professional careers are having difficulty finding the man of their dreams. As they get older, "They feel a mild panic that motherhood might pass them by."

Fields says they have "put careers first," and "while seeking the passionate Mr. Perfect, they've overlooked Mr. Good Enough." Their quest becomes ever more difficult as the single men they encounter are not interested in marriage, they're "having too much fun to give up their freedom."

My dilemma is somewhat different. Ms. Fields concludes her article by defining "The Playboy of today" as "a bit of a beast. He's a young man in his 20s, refusing to grow up, with access to ATMs for instant money to spend on himself. You typically find him in the pages of Maxim magazine with movie heroes such as Ben Stiller, Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell, indulging in grossed-out adolescent humor. He's uncultured, uncouth and unkempt, preferring beer to fine wine, skateboards to sports cars and teenage toys to higher status symbols of maturity."

That's quite an indictment but from my observation I'd say at least a portion of it would hold up in court.

Here's my gripe and it's related to what Ms. Fields was saying: Male actors, have for some years, too often been exemplified by the Ben Stillers, Jim Carreys and Will Ferrells of the world - "uncultured, uncouth and unkempt, indulging in grossed-out adolescent humor." Now, these types can be funny, and engaging, and young women want to take them home and "mother" them, but ...

... where are the real men? Where are the Clark Gables [pictured above], the Cary Grants, the Gregory Pecks, the Audie Murphys, the Spencer Tracys, the Humphrey Bogarts, The James Cagneys, the Richard Burtons, the Gary Coopers, the Clint Eastwoods, the Henry Fondas, the Burt Lancasters, the Robert Mitchums, the James Stewarts, even the John Waynes?

Some would argue that they are out there and point to George Clooney, or Michael Douglas, or Sean Connery, or Kevin Costner, or Robert De Niro as examples. And they would be right.

The problem is we're inundated with adolescent junk featuring Ashton Kutcher, or Owen Wilson or Vince Vaughn, et. al. And while I may on occasion enjoy their pictures, there are simply not enough movies featuring real grownups playing real people.

We have a few good men and that's not good enough.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Martin Luther was A-OK, says the Pope

Martin Luther's been through rehab in Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI, intends to discuss Luther at his annual seminar this summer at Castelgandolfo (the Pope's summer palace). Some 40 theologians will participate.

Benedict plans to tell his theologues that Luther, who the church excommunicated and condemned for heresy , was not really, truly a heretic. No, Luther was a good guy who really, truly wanted to "purge the Church of corrupt practices."

The Vatican is becoming a very confusing place. Just last July, Benedict said that Protestants and Orthodox Christians were defective and their churches were "not proper churches."

Now, he wants to bring Luther back into the fold?


Supposedly there is a movement of sorts going on in the papal chambers to make Benedict look like a good guy himself and not a nasty, old, fusty cleric, still stuck in the Middle Ages. So, the Vatican has plans to put up a statue of Galileo. Galileo, you'll recall, said about 400 years ago that the earth revolved around the sun, rather than vice versa. The Church said, "Oh, my God, Galileo is a heretic," and forced him to recant what he knew was true!

The Pope also plans to bring Muslims in to talk. In 2006, Benedict stuck his foot in it again when he "appeared to describe Islam as inherently violent and irrational."

Back to Luther. One RC poobah said "We have much to learn from Luther, beginning with the importance he attached to the word of God." Blah, blah, blah.

Maybe the Pope should leave the dead in peace. Considering the totality of Luther's writings and sermonizing, his rants against the common folk, and especially that stuff about the Jews, it may be that Pope Leo X was right when he said Luther was "a drunken German who will change his mind when sober."

And ... if Luther is rehabbed by the RC's, does that mean that all Lutheran churches are automatically brought into communion with Rome and should attach the word, "Roman Catholic" after their name?

The Holocaust Journal (Lest We Forget)

Germany - 1939 (II)

In October of 1939, Hitler authorized certain physicians to kill people thought to be "unworthy of life." Such unworthies would include mentally and physically disabled Germans and Austrians, children as well as adults. The Third Reich considered such people defectives and thus a blight on German racial purity.

The paper work authorizing this program was signed in October of 1939, but was backdated to September 1 (when the war began) to give the impression these "mercy killings" were a necessity of wartime.

The program was known as Operation T-4. Initially, seventy to eighty thousand people (including about 4-5 thousand Jews) were murdered under Operation T-4.

There were public protests, even though the Nazis tried to hide the program. Catholic and Lutheran leaders in Germany made enough noise so that Hitler "officially" stopped the killings on August 24, 1941. Actually, they continued in greater secrecy until 1945. Altogether between 200,000 and 250,000 disabled people were murdered.

Methods used to kill people included starvation and lethal injection at first, but these were too slow. Doctors and nurses working at the euthanasia centers finally opted for gassing with carbon monoxide in rooms designed to look like tiled showers. "After gold teeth were harvested, the corpses were burned in crematoria."

The photo above shows a Jewish woman suffering from starvation.


* August 2 - Albert Einstein writes to President Roosevelt sharing his concern that the Germans may be first to develop an atomic bomb.

* August 17 - The Reich Ministry of the Interior publishes a list of names Jews can give to their children.

* August 19 - The Jewish refugee ship, Rim, headed for Palestine, runs aground and burns at Rhodes, Italy.

* August 22 - Hitler tells his generals he wants the Poles liquidated to provide "living space" for Germans.

* August 23 - The German-Soviet Non-Agression Pact is signed.

* August 25 - Great Britain promises, via the Anglo-Polish Alliance, to assist Poland in the event Poland is attacked. [Great Britain does not live up to that promise.]

* August 27 - The German economy is set up for wartime. Ration cards are given to Jews which allow for a starvation diet of 200 to 300 calories per day.

* September 1 - World War II begins as the Nazis run rampant over western Poland. About 3,000 Jewish civilians die in the bombing of Warsaw, and 5,000 Jews are trapped by the Nazis in Danzig. Laws are passed for Poland and Austria that forbid Jews to be outside after 8 pm in the winter and 9 pm in the summer.

* September 1 - October 25, 1939 - Mobile killers called the SS Einsatzgruppen, carry out Operation Tannenberg. Many Polish Jews are murdered along with Catholic intellectuals. Synagogues are burned throughout Poland.

* 1400 Jews escaping from Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia land on a Tel Aviv beach. British soldiers open fire and kill two refugees.

* September 3 - France and England declare war on Germany. The British cancel all visas that had been given to "enemy nationals." The practical effect of that is the Jews can no longer immigrate to England.

David Ben-Gurion and the Jewish Agency Executive, more or less the Jewish government of Palestine, vow that Jews will fight Hitler. Over one and a half million Jews will end up in the military forces of those countries at war with Germany. About 555,000 Jews will serve in the United States armed forces.

September 6 - 17 - Much of the rest of Poland is overrun by the Nazis.

September 21 - SS Security Service chief, Reinhard Heydrich orders the SS to establish Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland. The purpose is to gather Jews in urban areas near railroads so they can be transported to concentration camps.

September 23 - Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Throughout Poland, Jews are abased and humiliated by SS troops. They are conscripted for hard labor, beards are shaved, property is destroyed, Jews are beaten and forced to dance for the troopers.

In Piotrkow, Poland, Jews are made to relieve themselves in the synagogue school and then use prayer shawls and holy books to clean up the mess.

* September 24 - Jewish POWS are held for ten days with food, and forced to clean latrines with their bare hands at Zyardow Stadium.

* September 27 - Warsaw falls. Jewish ghettos are set up. Inmates at Dachau are moved so that the Waffen-SS can use Dachau as a training ground.

* September 28 - Poland surrenders. The country is split between Germany and the Soviet Union. At the start of the Jewish festival of Sukkot, the SS deports over 6,000 Jews from Pultusk, Poland.

* October 1939 - Jews in Vienna, Austria are deported to Poland to be used as laborers.

* October 1 - The Polish government-in-exile is established in France, but will later move to London.

* October 6 - Speaking to the Reichstag, Hitler says he will grant peace to England and France if Germany's former colonies are returned, if Germany can again trade on world markets, and if Germany is allowed to solve the "Jewish problem."

Germany - 1939 (III) tomorrow.

Secret Saudi Arms Deal in the U.K.

Democracies are supposed to be open, transparent. Democratic governments do not operate in secret. Democracies are built on the people's right to know.

It's true that there are "national security" issues that need to be kept under wraps. Unfortunately, in the U.S. in recent years, the words, "national security," have been used to hide from the public not just government espionage operations but all sorts of illegal Bushite shenanigans.

The United Kingdom deals with many of the same problems that the U.S. does. A current controversy is whether or not papers having to do with Britain's biggest arms export deal to the Saudis back in the 1980's should be made public.

CAAT, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, has requested some of the documents involved in this deal under the UK's 2005 Freedom of Information Act.

The government has refused to release these papers, claiming that would not be in the public interest, that it would be a "breach of confidentiality, and that the Saudis wouldn't like it.

William Patey, representing the British government, said that "The Saudis put a great deal of trust in our discretion. They put trust in us that we can keep a secret. That is the basis on which we do business. Letting them down is something that they remember."

The British ambassador to Riyadh said that the Saudi government trusts the British government to keeps its mouth shut about their business dealings.

Why?

This Saudi deal has been under investigation before by the SFO (Serious Fraud Office). The SFO was trying to determine whether BAE, Britain's largest defense group, gave money to Saudi officials as a bribe to secure contracts for the 43 billion pound sale in 1985.

But in December of 2006, that investigation was dropped. Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said the investigation threatened the United Kingdom's national security.

Good god, this all sounds so familiar.

Question: Why is the UK selling arms to the Saudis anyway? [Why is the U.S. selling arms to the Saudis?] Saudi Arabia is a notorious dictatorship that knows not human freedom or human rights. Saudi Arabia is a training ground for a continuing string of fanatic Islamists dedicated to destroying the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, and other democratic nations.

And the Saudis do not have a Freedom of Information Act!

Question: Why would an arms sale to Saudi have anything to do with "national security?" Were government officials bought off and therefore their "security" is in jeopardy?

Question: Since when does Saudi Arabia define the terms of a deal and ultimately the character of a country?

Question: What kind of a country aquiesces to extortion?

The Sikhs Sit This One Out

The Pope is planning to visit the U.S. next month.

He is scheduled to meet with various religious representatives in Washington, D.C. These representatives are to include Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists.

The Sikhs will not be present. Not because they don't want to be present; but because they can't.

From a Sikhism website: Sikhism is "A progressive religion well ahead of its time when it was founded over 500 years ago. The Sikh religion today has a following of over 20 million people worldwide and is ranked as the world's 5th largest religion. Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals. Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its 10 Gurus enshrined in the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib."

The problem is the kirpan, a ceremonial dagger. Sikh's wear the kirpan as symbol of their opposition to oppression and injustice.

The Secret Service says the kirpans are a no-no. The Sikh's say that's too bad because wearing the kirpan is basic to their faith, so they will have to decline the invite to meet the Pope.

The Secret Service says they understand how important the kirpan is, but in their view, it is also a weapon.

I wonder if maybe an area could be provided, at a safe distance from the Pope, where the Sikhs could sit? Surrounded by Secret Service agents with big guns, of course, just in case a peaceful Sikh lunges with his kirpan. I mean, it is the world's 5th largest religion!

Could a bit of common sense be exercised in this situation?

The Sainted Sister Alphonsa

When the saints go marching in!

Anna Muttathupadathu is said to have been a "generous and loving" person. She lived a short life, from 1910 to 1946, and she was ill much of that time, but despite her health problems, she remained committed to her religious vocation.

Anna was a nun. Her religious name was Sister Alphonsa. When a young girl, in order to avoid an unwanted marriage, she "burnt and disfigured herself."

After her death, people in Kerala, where she lived and worked, said she had worked miracles. One of these involved a young paralyzed boy who was cured by her prayers.

On a visit to India in 1986, the late Pope John Paul II beautified Sister Alphonsa, that beautification being the first step toward sainthood in the Roman Church. Sister Alphonsa will be canonized this October and will become India's first woman saint (before Sister Theresa!).

This canonization is expected to be a source of pride to India's Catholics and hopefully will offer support to Christians "who are often subject to persecution and violence by some Hindu groups, for political motives," said Marco Tosatti, Vatican correspondent for the Italian daily, La Stampa.

I'm willing to grant that Sister Alphonsa was a fine person, although the self-mutilation stuff is bothersome. But other than her winning ways, her smile, her commitment to her vocation, and her one miracle, there doesn't seem to much else that would qualify her to be a "saint."

And I can't help wonder why the Papacy keeps fooling around with this
"saintly" nonsense when there are so many other, serious and pressing issues facing the Church and the world?

James Cunningham - Why Israel?

Prezident Bush has nominated James Cunningham as ambassador to Israel.

James Cunningham is a career diplomat and he's been around. For the past three years, he's served as the U.S. consul general in Hong Kong. In 2001, his job was acting ambassador to the United Nations. He was also the deputy envoy to the UN from 1999 to 2004.

There's no scandal associated with Mr. Cunningham and he may be a perfect choice. One item is a bit troubling, though: During his service at the UN, Cunningham thought it necessary to criticize an IDF (Israel Defense Forces) action in Gaza. Fourteen members of the UN Security Council condemned Israel for this action. The US abstained.

Right after this vote by the Security Council, "Cunningham told reporters that the Israeli operation in Gaza had led to a deterioration in the humanitarian situation, ended with a conflict between Israeli and Palestinian forces and failed to improve Israel's security situation."

What's more worrisome, though, is that while Cunningham is a career diplomat, he's had no direct Middle East experience!

Do we not have any seasoned diplomats with experience and knowledge of the the peoples, lands, religions, cultures, as well as the massive problems current in the Middle East? Do we have to appoint someone without that experience and/or knowledge? There isn't much time for on-the-job-training!

Maybe experience wasn't considered because this appointment is another example of Bushite cronyism? Remember Michael Brown?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Chaldean Christians & America's Misadventure in Iraq

One of the earliest Christian groups was known as the Nestorians. There is evidence they go back to the first century and had their own gospel, the Gospel of Thomas, a copy of which was found in a cave in Egypt about 50 years ago and is similar in many respects to the New Testament gospels.

The Nestorians fought with the Orthodox over the nature of Christ. This came to a head in the fifth century. The Nestorians believed that Christ had two natures, the divine and the human, and they were distinct. Thus, one could not use the term, "Theotokos" (Mother of God) for Mary, as she was the mother of the human Jesus only.

In June of 431, the Emporer Theodosius called a church council at Ephesus. The council decided that while Christ had two natures, they were united in one person and thus Mary could indeed be called Theotokos. The Nestorians were wrong and Nestorius, the father of the Nestorians, was condemned.

This was not the end of it, however, as his doctrine became popular in Persia (Iran) and Mesopotamia (Iraq).

Some of the descendants of the Nestorians live in Iraq today and are known as Chaldean Christians. Nobody seems to know exactly how many Christians there are in Iraq -- I've seen figures ranging from 550,000 to 750,000. It's probably somewhere inbetween. They are a small percentage of the population, however, maybe two or two and a half percent.

The Chaldean spiritual leader is Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly and he's based in Baghdad. The Chaldeans are a separate Catholic church with their own liturgy and tradition, but live under the authority of the pope. Pope Benedict XVI made Delly a cardinal in 2007.

Unfortunately, many of these Chaldean Christians (maybe 60,000 or more) have fled Iraq because persecution of Christians has been steady and relentless. A number of Christian clergy have been kidnapped or killed by Sunni Muslims and several churches and monasteries have been bombed.

Just recently, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, of Mosul was kidnapped and three of his aides were killed.

The Chaldeans say that under the Baathist regime (Hussein) they were not persecuted, although they did suffer occasional "random acts of violence" from the Muslim majority. Today, the Chaldeans report, the American military action called "Iraqi Freedom" "appears to be emerging as a civil war between the minority, formerly dominant, Sunni Muslims who seek through violence to prevent the inevitable emergence of the majority Shia Muslims to the position of power and control of the state and its oil and gas reserves." [I wonder if the Bushites, who keep saying there is no civil war in Iraq, have talked to these people?]

The Chaldeans also say that Christian minorities are considered infidels and their situation grows ever more precarioius. "Christians are publicly harassed; their women are insulted for not dressing as Muslims; their businesses destroyed; and their churches are bombed, with the result that many are fleeing abroad."

The Shia power bloc intends to write a new constitution based on the sharia (Muslim law code) and "it appears to us highly likely that in the future Iraq will resemble the Islamic Republic of Iran. America's misadventure in Iraq is bearing bitter fruit."

What irony! Bush invades Iraq. The last reason given was, I think, to force a regime change and bring democracy to the Iraqi people. It doesn't appear that is what is happening. Instead, Iraq, because of what the Chaldean church leadership calls "America's misadventure," is ending up another Iran, an "axis of evil."

Holy Mother of God!

The Holocaust Journal (Lest We Forget)

Germany - 1939 (I)

In 1939, the German war against Europe's Jews began in earnest. It was given its first definition in a secret message by Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Nazi Security Police. The message ordered
that Jews be concentrated in large urban areas where railroad transportation was available. Heydrich's plan began the
ghettoization of Polish Jewry, but would eventually be applied throughout Europe and "doom millions of Jewish children, women, and men."

* During 1939, almost 80,000 Jews leave Germany and Jewish valuables throughout the country are confiscated (stolen) by the Nazis.

* The Jewish World Plague, an anti-Semitic book by Hermann Esser, is published.

* In order to increase the Aryan birthrate, SS chief Heinrich Himmler orders his SS men to impregnate their wives and to serve as "conception assistants" to women over 29 without children.

* In the U.S., the HUAC (House UnAmerican Activities Committee) begins an investigation into the activities of the pro-Nazi German-American Bund.

* A poll by Elmo Roper shows that 53% of Americans believe Jews to be "different," and need "social and economic restrictions."

* Another poll, this one by Gallup, indicates 83% of Americans are against admitting large numbers of Jewish refugees.

* January - By the end of 1940, about 27,000 Jews will have "illegally" immigrated to Palestine from Germany.

* January 1 - Arthur Rodl, the Deputy Commandand at the Buchenwald concentration camp, orders thousands of inmates to line up for inspection at midnight. He then chooses five men and has them whipped to a melody played by the inmate orchestra. The whipping continues through the night.

* January 24 - Gestapo boss Heinrich Muller is made head of the Jewish Emigration Office.

* January 30 - In a speech in the Reichstag, Hitler says that if there is war in Europe, all European Jews will be exterminated.

* February 3 - In Budapest, Hungary, a bomb destroys a synagogue, killing one worshipper.

* February 7-20 - A conference is held in London to try to resolve the situation in Palestine. Arab delegates refuse to meet with their Jewish counterparts and the Jewish delegates withdraw when the British support the Arab position.

* February 9 - Anti-Jewish laws are enacted in Italy.

* February 10 - Pope Pius XI dies. His encyclical on racism and anti-Semitism goes unpublished. It did not, however, say anything new but was based on St. Augustine's writings that said "Jews are Cains who must not be killed but who must wander in suffering for all eternity, until they see the light and choose conversion to Roman Catholicism."

* February 20 - An anti-Jewish rally is held in New York City. Some 20,000 attend.

* February 21 - German Jews must give all their gold and silver to the government.

* February (through June) - Robert F. Wagner, a Democratic senator from New York, along with Edith Nourse Rogers, a Democratic representative from Massachusetts, propose a bill to allow 20,000 German Jewish children into the U.S. over a period of two years. This bill eventually dies for lack of support and the rampant anti-Semitism in Congress.

Senator Robert Reynolds of North Carolina has a secret relationship with August Gausebeck, a German-American Nazi agent. Gausebeck's partner is Walter Schellenberg, coordinator of Gestapo activities in the U.S.

* March 2 - Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli is elected as Pope Pius XII.

* March 15 - Nazi troops cross into Czechoslovakia and take over Prague. Only 19,000 of the 50,000 Jews in Prague will escape to freedom. Thousands more Jews are trapped when the Nazis occupy Bohemia and Moravia. Slovakia becomes a German satellite.

* March 21 - The Germans take over Memel, Lithuania. The Jews there flee for their lives. Also on this date the French government passes a law forbidding "incitement to race hatred."

* March 25 - Over 20,000 protestors march through New York City in a "Stop Hitler" parade. About 500,000 spectators lined the parade route.

* March 31 - The United Kingdom and France promise to guarantee Polish sovereignty.

* April 1 - Franco's Fascists win the Spanish Civil War.

* April 7 - Great Britain sets up a draft. The Italian military occupies Albania.

* April 15 - President Roosevelt asks Hitler to respect the independence of European nations.

* April 28 - Hitler responds "mockingly" to Roosevelt's request.

* April 30 - German Jews no longer have "tenancy," which means they may be moved to "communal Jewish homes."

* May - Hungary passes discriminatory laws affecting Jewish lawyers and doctors. Jews can only constitute 6% of Hungary's economy.

* May 15 - Ravensbruck, a women's concentration camp opens 50 miles north of Berlin. Also on this date the German refugee ship St. Louis departs from Hamburg. The ship carries about 1,000 Jewish escapees from Nazi Germany. They hold landing passes for Cuba.

* May 17 - The English government puts out what came to be known as the MacDonald White Paper, that limited Jewish immigration to 10,000 per year for five years. It also allowed some 75,000 Jewish immigrants to enter Palestine. It further restricts Jewish land purchases in Palestine. Actually, the British government worked to keep the actual number of Jewish immigrants far below the quotas for both England and Palestine.

* May 22 - Italy and Germany sign a "Pact of Steel."

* June - The German refugee ship St. Louis reaches Cuba. The Cuban government tries to extort huge sums of money so the ship leaves and sails along the eastern U.S. coast. FDR orders the U.S. Coast Guard to prohibit any passengers from landing in the U.S.

* June 2 - In Boston, the Christian Science Church newspaper says that Jewish refugees are causing their own problems. Many important Protestant journals took the same line.

* June 17 - The German refugee ship St. Louis docks in Antwerp, Belgium. Belgium offers to take 214 passengers. The Netherlands took 181, Britain 287, and France 224. In the end, many, if not most of these people will be murdered in the Nazi killing centers in Eastern Europe.

Dig 'Em up and Pray to 'Em

I did not know that a "mystic monk" by name of Padre Pio was "one of the Roman Catholic Church's most revered saints."

He met his maker about 40 years ago, but now the Catholic Church has dug him up, cleaned him up and are going to put him on display in a glass coffin for several months. You can go see him yourself on April 24.

Pio, a Capuchin Friar, reportedly had the "stigmata" - the wounds from the nails driven into Jesus' hands and feet. (The interesting thing about this is that most scholars are convinced that, because nails were almost never used by the Romans, Jesus' hands and feet were tied to the cross - assuming you believe those stories at all.)

The exhumation of Pio's body involved a three-hour service that went 'til after midnight. That's kinda spooky.

Supposedly, Pio is the favorite saint of Italian Catholics and they pray to him even more than they pray to the "Virgin" Mary or Jesus. Some 7 million folks come to visit him in his tomb annually and there are more than 3,000 "Padre Pio Prayer Groups" around the world, consisting of about a million people.

He was quite a guy. He wrestled with the devil once in his monastic cell. He could predict future events. He was seen in two places at once. And, what's really scary, is that he could tell you your sins before you confessed them!

Pope John Paul II sainted Pio in 2002 in front of a huge crowd at the Vatican "after the Church said it had found evidence that the miraculous cure of a sick woman was due to the dead monk's confession."

Now, some party-poopers are claiming that he was a fraud. They actually have the gall to say that he used acid on his hands to create wounds similar to what Jesus' hands might have looked like if he had actually lived and actually been nailed to a cross.

Ladies and gentleman: In spite of what the above would suggest, we really do live in the 21st Century. It's just that some churches and their flocks are still stuck in the 11th century.

I like what someone else said: "Why not pray to the dead? They're closer to God than we are!"

The FBI Debacle - Felonies & Forgiveness

Almost a year ago, the Justice Department informed members of the US. House of Representatives that FBI agents had been secretly collecting telephone, banking and credit card records of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals living in the U.S., and may have violated the law and/or government policies over 3,000 times since 2003.

Glenn A. Fine, the Inspector General of the Justice Department, also confessed that perhaps 600 of these violations were "cases of serious misconduct," and involved the illegal use of "national security letters" to force banks, credit institutions and telephone companies to turn over their records.

National security letters are like subpoenas except they are issued directly by the FBI and no court review is involved. Fine said this abuse resulted from "mistakes, carelessness, confusion, sloppiness, lack of training, lack of adequate guidance and lack of adequate oversight." But, some agents may have behaved in ways that were "illegal," of "improper."

"Illegal" or "improper?" There's a world of difference between those two words. Improper is like a stupid misjudgment. Illegal could involve jail time.

Now, one year later, FBI Director Robert Mueller is doing a follow-up, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that "the privacy breach by FBI agents and lawyers occurred a year before the bureau enacted sweeping new reforms to prevent future lapses."

Mueller went on to say that the FBI is "committing to ensuring that we not only get this right, but maintain the vital trust of the American people."

Sorry, it's too late for trust! Now we demand extreme measures to oversee and guard our laws and our rights under the Constitution. [Maybe those "demands" will be met by a new administration?]

There isn't any excuse for the FBI to be so extensively involved in actions that, on the face of it, appear illegal. The FBI, better than any agency, knows the constitutional history as well as the importance of judicial review before warrants are issued. This wasn't a lapse on the part of a few agents, this was a program of illegal avoidance of legal procedures that went on for years!

And if, indeed, illegalities were involved, shouldn't those persons doing the illegalities be punished? If, next time, one of these agents decides to rob a bank, is it enough that he confess his sins and promise to clean up his act?

Of course, when the President and his cohorts provide a regal, real-life example of how to get by with felonious behavior, can we rightfully expect other government agencies to abide by the law and the Constitution?

China vs Taiwan - Now What?

Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa, and formerly ruled by the Chinese government, has been "self-governing" since 1949. Up until 1971, Taiwan held a seat in the United Nations as the Republic of China, but that seat was given to the Chinese government in Beijing.

Throughout, China has maintained that Taiwan is part of China, even though it is not on the Chinese mainland.

Thus, when Taiwan makes noises about declaring independence, China gets its back up and rattles its sabers.

We've got a problem. Taiwan wants to again apply for membership in the United Nations. Beijing says no. Beijing believes that a move for UN membership would be tantamount to a move for independence, which Beijing will not abide.

Taiwan has scheduled a referendum on March 22 on the UN membership question.

Jiang Enzhu, a spokesperson for the Chinese parliament, says Beijing would "repulse" any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence. He claimed that if the Taiwanese president, Chen Shui-bian, engages in "adventurous activities" aimed at making Taiwan independent, Taiwan "will surely play a dear price."

The Taiwanese act like such talk does not frighten them. That may be because the US has promised to protect them from the big Red bear.

So what are the freedom-loving, democracy espousing leaders of the United States saying about all this? Condi Rice, the US Secretary of State pulled no punches:

Washington is strongly opposed to Taiwan's referendum on membership in the UN.

It is, she said "a provocative policy," and raised tensions in the area "unnecessarily," without promising any "real benefits for the people of Taiwan on the international stage."

What that diplomatic doubletalk means is that the United States is scared to death of a conflict between China and Taiwan. There isn't any question that China, with its overwhelming military superiority, would wipe Taiwan from the face of the earth in about two hours. But that's not our real concern.

As mentioned above, we've made certain promises to cover Taiwan's rear extremities if they get into fisticuffs with China. Most of those were made in the heat of the Cold War, but they're still out there - hanging in the air.

And, with China being our largest trading partner, and holding billions of dollars worth of U.S. credit, China is one sleeping giant we really don't want to wake.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Muslim Anti-Semitic Boycott

The purpose of a book fair to be held in Paris is to "honour literature and promote dialogue between cultures."

Good luck with that.

This year's fair plans to honor 39 writers from Israel.

A number of Muslim countries are boycotting the fair because Israel is the guest of honor. To date, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Lebanon, Iran, and Saudi Arabia have canceled their participation.

Isesco (the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation) is urging all of its 50 members to withdraw from the fair, claiming that Israel has committed crimes against humanity in Palestinian areas and therefore Israel is unworthy to be the guest of honor.

In addition, a number of national publishing houses in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, have cancelled stands at the fair.

Tariq Ali, a British-Pakistani writer, is boycotting the event because it honors Israel, and a Swiss Muslim scholar, Tariq Ramadan is supporting the boycott because he feels Israel shows no respect for the Palestinian people.

Isn't this a fascinating spectacle? Here we have Muslim countries defending those who hate Israel; those who continually wreak violence and havoc upon Israel; those who devote their miserable lives to killing Jews and destroying Israel because they believe the state of Israel has no right to exist.

For sixty years, Israel has had to defend itself against unprovoked attacks by Islamic fanatics committed to driving Israel into the sea. For sixty years, Israel has had to protect itself from these same Islamic fascists who believe the only good Jew is a dead Jew and devote their lives to killing as many Jews as possible.

During the same sixty years, the Muslim countries that surround Israel have stagnated or become poorer for their only concern was the death of Israel. They have put neither money nor energy into improving conditions for their people. Instead, they opted to invest their wealth and their energy in weapons of war to cause death and destruction.

Today, Israel is a beautiful example of a modern, Democratic society. Israel's achievements in every area of life are exemplary. Israel is a showcase of what human beings are capable of when allowed the freedom and provided the resources to fulfill their dreams. The products that flow from Israeli labs and from Israeli companies benefit all the world every day. In addition, Israel allows Arabs to live within its borders, to work within its borders and provides Arabs with all the benefits the country has to offer.

Flip that coin. There is no Islamic country in the Middle East that allows Jews. Jews may not live in those countries and they may not own businesses in those countries. Any Jew traveling through one of those countries is in danger of being killed - just for being a Jew.

Today, Hamas is shooting rockets from Gaza into a defenseless Israeli town as this is being written. If and when Israel responds militarily to these rocket attacks, Hamas hides among the civilian population which is, not only a violation of the Geneva Convention, but ensures that innocents will be killed. Almost without fail it is Israel that is excoriated as being "inhumane," or worse.

So, I say to the organizers of the Paris book fair: Let all the Islamic fanatics and fascists go. Let them hide in the poverty and wretchedness and backwardness of their forlorn countries and watch the world go by. What have any of them brought to the table other than violence, racism, superstition, and more violence?

The goals of the Paris book fair, "to honor literature and promote dialog between cultures," are absolutely foreign to countries ruled by the Islamists; they do not understand what these mean.

Consider Saudi Arabia - an oil-producing ally of the U.S. - a country ruled by an iron fist. Saudi leaders allow no freedom of religion or freedom of speech. They treat women as second-class citizens. Violaters of religious laws are beaten and/or jailed. How foolish it is to think they can help "promote dialog between cultures." That encompasses a concept alien to their medieval mind-set.

We must hope those in charge of the Paris book fair stand firm. These Muslim countries that overtly practice anti-Semitism and seek Israel's destruction must never, ever, under any circumstances, be allowed to dictate the parameters of this fair, or any other event held in a Democratic, free society.

The Holocaust Journal (Lest We Forget)

Germany - 1938 (II)

In 1938, because of the increasing persecution, many Jews sought refuge in Palestine, which was controlled by the British. But the British were afraid that if they opened up Palestine as a Jewish homeland, their Arab allies would become angry.

The Arabs were already angry. They didn't want the Jews in Palestine and as more came in, the angrier they became. Attacks on Jewish communities began in 1936. In order to "protect and control the Jewish population, the British required travel permits" in order to travel from one city to another.

* July 14 - The Evian Conference had failed. A Nazi newspaper headline read, "Jews For Sale at a Bargain Price -- Who Wants Them? No One."

* July 23 - All Jews in Germany were required to apply for an Identity Card. This card had to be shown to police on demand.

* July 25 - The Nazis cancel the medical licenses of Jewish doctors. In the U.S., Father Charles Coughlin, a vicious anti-Semite, called for an American Christian Front "to combat Communists and Jews." The organization, when organized, consisted mostly of working-class Irish and German Americans. The American Christian Front held that America was a Christian nation and that Catholics should merge with Protestants to fight the Jews.

* July 30 - Henry Ford, the automobile maker, and a staunch anti-Semite, received the medal of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle. When WWII began, Ford argued that it was the fault of "the Jew bankers."

* August 8 - Austria sets up its first concentration camp at Mauthausen.

* August 10 - The Great Synagogue is destroyed in Nuremberg, Germany.

* August 17 - All male Jews in Germany must assume the Israel and all female Jews the name Sarah by January 1, 1939.

* August 18 - Miron Cristea, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, urges the Romanian people to "fight the Jewish parasites." The Swiss government denies entry to Jews.

* August 26 - Adolf Eichmann establishes the Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna.

* September - A concentration camp is set up at Neuengamme, Germany. Several German generals plan "The Berlin Putsch," the aim of which is to overthow Hitler and toss him into an insane asylum. It never happens.

* September 6 - Pope Pius XII tells Belgian pilgrims in an informal session that Christians should not be involved in anti-Semitic movements. However, they have a right to defend themselves if their legitimate interests are threatened.

* September 15 - Neville Chamberlain, the British PM, meets with Hitler to discuss the Sudeten crisis. Hitler demands that the Sudetenland be ceded by Czechoslovakia to Germany.

* September 22-23 - Chamberlain meets with Hitler again, this time at Godesberg, Germany.

* September 26 - Hitler promises that if he is given the Sudetenland, he will make no more territorial demands in Europe.

* September 27 - Jews can no longer practice law in Germany.

* September 29-30 - The Munich Conference. France and Great Britain allow Germany to illegally annex the Sedetenland of Czechoslovakia. Many in Europe are pleased and think that war has been averted. The Czech representatives to the conference break down in tears upon hearing the news. Chamberlain signs a "secret" friendship pact with Germany but does not inform France. When he arrives home, he holds up a scrap of paper to the crowd and proclaims "peace in our time."

* October - The Polish government voids the passports of all Jews who have lived outside of Poland more than five years. They have no place to go.

The most prominent Jesuit journal, Civilta Cattolica, published in Rome, writes that "Judaism is sinister and accuses Jews of trying to control the world through money and secularism. The journal says that the devil is the Jews' master; Judaism is evil and 'a standing menace to the world.''"

* October 1-10 - The German Wehrmacht moves in and occupies the Sudetenland.

* October 5 - All Jewish passports are recalled by the German government. They are then marked with a large, colored "J." This makes it impossible for a Jew to pretend to be a Christian and sneak into Switzerland.

* October 28 - Germany expels Jews who are Polish citizens. At the Polish border, they are refused entrance to Poland. Germany will not let them return to German soil. Seventeen thousand people are stranded in the small town of Zbaszyn, Poland.

* November - A Roman Catholic priest from Berlin, Bernhard Lichtenberg, condemns the Nazi treatment of the Jews. He is one of very few German Catholics to oppose the anti-Semitism of the German government. He sermonizes "Outside the synagogue is burning, and that is also a house of God."

* November 7 - A young Jewish man, unhappy with what Germany has done to his family, goes to the German embassy in Paris and shoots Ernst vom Rath, a Third Secretary of Legation. The Nazis use this as a pretext to start a long-planned terror campaign against the Jews.

November 9 - Hermann Goring is authorized by Hitler to deal with all Jewish issues.

November 9-10 - The infamous Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) occurs all over Germany. "Ninety-one Jews are killed; others are beaten. Thirty thousand male Jews are sent to concentration camps, though most will be released in a few weeks. 267 synagogues are desecrated and destroyed (almost all of the synagogues of Germany and Austria). SS Security Chief Reinhard Heydrich instructs security agencies to burn the synagogues unless German lives or property are endangered. Jewish businesses are looted and destroyed."

These two dates are important national holidays in Germany. November 9 is the Nazi Blood Witness Day which honors Nazi "martyrs" who died for the cause. November 10 is the birthday of Martin Luther who advocated the destruction of Jewish homes and synagogues and urged poverty for the Jews as well as forced labor, exile and death.

* November 10 - A rally celebrating Kristallnacht is held in Nuremberg, drawing 100,000 people.

* November 11 - A number of Jews are killed and injured during an anti-Semitic progrom in Bratislava, Slovakia.

* November 12 - A $400 million fine is levied against the Jews for Kristallnacht. On this date, the Nazis also decide that all Jews should be removed from German society. Hitler says in a meeting with a South African minister that Europe's Jews will be killed if there is war.

November 15 - All Jewish students are expelled from German schools.

November 18 - Hitler recalls the German ambassador to the U.S. after FDR recalled the US ambassador to Germany. The American Virgin Islands assembly offers the Virgin Islands as a possible refuge for Jews. The US government ignores this offer.

* November 20 - Father Coughlin, utilizing Nazi documents, claims that Jews are responsible for Russian communism and all of Germany's problems. His archdiocese approves his radio programs as "not contradicting Catholic faith or morals."

* November 24 - Winston Churchill, British Conservative Party leader, determines that Palestine cannot be used as a primary refuge for Jews.

* December 1938 - The British Cabinet approves the entry of 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children. This is known as the Kindertransport. Most of these children never see their parents again, and many of them will be converted to Christianity.

* December 3 - The Nazis say all Jewish enterprises will be forcibly "Aryanized."

* December 18 - Thousands of followers of Father Coughlin march through the streets of New York City shouting, "Send Jews back where they came from in leaky boats!" and "Wait until Hitler comes over here." These protests last until April 1939, often with approval of New York City policemen.

* December 24 - Some of the American Catholic hierarchy and a few leading Protestants sign a Christmas resolution to express their "horror and shame" at the Kristallnacht events.

Muslims Want Democracy?

A Gallup poll, just released, represents the views of 90% of the world's one billion plus Muslims. The findings will be incorporated in a book to be published next month, entitled "Who Speaks for Islam? What A Billion Muslims Really Think."

This poll was huge, involving over 50,000 Muslims in 35 countries. One of its major findings was that most of the respondents wanted the Western world to stop being so negative about Muslims and Islam.

This survey started before 9/11. "The overwhelming majority of those asked condemned them (the 9/11 attacks) based on religious reasons."

The poll is the response by Gallup's chairman, Jim Clifton, to President Bush's question in 2001: "Why do they hate us?"

What's interesting is, according to one of the authors of the book, John Esposito, that Muslims don't necessarily hate us. Even the 7% who considered themselves "radicals," "admire the West for its democracy and freedoms. However, they do not want such things imposed on them.

"Muslims want self-determination, but not an American-imposed and defined democracy. They don't want secularism or theocracy."

Esposito said "What the majority wants is democracy with religious values."

The poll also indicated that "most Muslims want guarantees of freedom of speech and would not want religious leaders to have a role in drafting constitutions."


Some of this is certainly hopeful. But pieces are missing. Reading about the poll, I felt like I was putting together a jigsaw puzzle, lacking a few, very vital pieces.

Certainly, we can understand the desire to be free from compulsion--no one likes things imposed on them, not even democracy. (Are you listening, King George?)

The poll discovered "They don't want secularism or theocracy." They want "democracy with religious values."

A democracy must, by definition, be secular, because a democracy is pluralistic. This, it seems to me, is the deal-breaker with the Muslims. What does a "democracy with religious values" mean to them? That was not spelled out in the brief review of the poll that I read. But that's a critical piece of the puzzle.

A democracy can have people living under its secular rule that have religious values. That's the American way! But a democracy cannot have a government that promotes "religious values."

Which religious values would be the correct ones? In a Muslim democracy, would this mean Sharia law? Probably not, according to the poll, as the respondents were against having religious leaders involved in drawing up a constitution.


But the question remains unanswered. And it is unanswerable. The government, if it is to function as a government for all the people, cannot operate under or promote "religious values." It can promote human values that most people have come to cherish, as does the United States. But nowhere in the United States Constitution is there reference to a God or to religious values as foundational.

Unfortunately, 90% of the world's Muslims still don't understand how a democracy works.

Conrad Black & the Lap of Luxury

Conrad Black or, as he is also known, the Lord Black of Crossharbour, is today ensconced in a Florida minimum-security prison. He is supposed to reside there, enjoying his new surroundings and new friends, for about six and a half years. Don't be surprised, though, if Lord Black's attorneys don't find some way to spring him before that time is up.

Mr. Black, inmate 18330-424, former chairman of Hollinger International, is having all this fun because he was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice last year. He and his wife stole money from Hollinger shareholders to finance a garishly lavish lifestyle.

I think when you're done reading this, you'll agree that 6 1/2 years in prison is insufficient to pay off his debt to society. But, we're not the judge nor the jury and they have spoken. And maybe he'll learn a trade while in the can and he can do something useful for the rest of his useless life.

A little background on Mr. Black:

He was born in 1944 in Montreal to rich parents who had profited nicely from a brewing company. At one time Mr. Black owned the Daily Telegraph and 400 lesser papers in the U.S. In 1992, he married a journalist by name of Barbara Amiel.

The Black's lifestyle:

* Two Park Avenue apartments in New York. One was for the servants.
* The butler had his own American Express card.
* Leased Gulf Stream IV jet - $3-4 million per annum. $3,500 for silverware aboard the jet.
* $90K for refurbishing a Rolls Royce used as Lord Black's personal automobile.

The following were items expensed to the corporate account:

* Handbags for Mrs. Black - $2,463
* Jogging clothes for Mrs. Black - $140
* Exercise equipment - $2,083
* Leather briefcase - 2,057
* Stereo equipment - $828
* Opera tickets - $2,785
* Summer drinks - $24,950

Mrs. Black was also paid $1.1 million dollars per year by the corporation to do nothing. That wasn't quite enough, so the corporation gave her extra compensation for her work as a "writer."

The corporation paid $42,870 for a birthday party for Mrs. Black at a New York restaurant. (Attending were, among others, Oscar de la Renta, Barbara Walters and Ron Perleman. The meals were $212 per plate. Evidently, Conrad had a twinge of conscience and kicked in $20K of his own money toward paying for the party).

Think about Conrad Black the next time you look at your paycheck and wonder how the heck you're gonna make it 'til the end of the month.

But remember, he's in prison and you're not. Today Mr. Black is not driving his Rolls Royce or flying about in his Gulfstream jet. He's likely working in the laundry (for 23 cents an hour) or as a carpenter or plumber (for $1.15 an hour) at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Florida.

Six and a half years still doesn't seem long enough, though.

Those Turks - Violating Iraq's Sovereignty!

Sometimes I think I live in Alice in Wonderland land.

Five years ago the U.S. preemptively invaded a sovereign country to insure that the head poohbah did not sell his oil to some other, unworthy country. In that five years, we have destroyed much of the infrastructure of that country. The terrorist group known as al-Qaida, which was not in Iraq prior to our invasion, is now using Iraq as a staging ground for terrorist operations against our soldiers and the Iraqis. According to some counts, over one million Iraqis have been killed since our preemptive invasion. Christians in Iraq are now in more danger than they have ever been and many have fled the country. The Iraqi government is controlled by the Shia Muslims and is encouraging closer relations with Iran, the country our prezident calls "an axis of evil." Most Iraqis blame the U.S. for the sorry state of affairs in Iraq and want the Americans to leave; the sooner the better.

Turkey has a problem with the Kurds (the third of the major Iraqi ethnic groupings). Kurdish guerrillas are giving Turkey a difficult time. Turkey has instigated military actions against the Kurds which has necessitated crossing the border into northern Iraq.

The government of Iraq has called for Turkey to quit these incursions immediately.

Now, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, has opened his mouth. Last Wednesday, he said that Turkey should limit its offensive against these Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq to as few days as possible and get out of Iraq completely.

Gates claims that Turkey's crossing the border to chase the Kurds violates Iraq's sovereignty!

Do you think our defense secretary has become the laughingstock of the world?

Turkey is violating Iraq's sovereignty?

Is this not the pot calling the kettle black?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Limbaugh, bloodied but unbroken

You'd think fat ol' Rush would shut up a bit after his addiction problems became public knowledge. But no, he kept running off at the mouth about other druggies, while asking his nut-case listeners to pray for him.

His mouth ever runneth over. This from David Knowles over on AOL:

Rush, always a compassionate conservative, suggested that those horses asses that tune him in in Texas (Limbaugh calls them "ditto-heads") vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary election. He wants to keep the Democrats fighting each other for a while longer. Or as Tommy Christopher (quoted by David Knowles) reported, Limbaugh said,

"We need Barack Obama bloodied up politically. It's obvious the Republicans are not going to do it, they don't have the stomach for it."

Sheesh. The Republicans have a stomach for most anything. Just witness the past seven years of stealing elections, war-mongering, lying, cheating, and law-breaking.

Unfortunately, Texas has an open primary, so Republican followers of ol' fat Rush can cross over to cast their vote for Hillary. Limbaugh's nastiness may just work.


This is a related story. In Natick, Massachusetts, two mothers got into a fight at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. It happened during a birthday party. According to police, the mother of the 9-year old birthday boy "apparently became enraged because the other woman's son was 'hogging' an arcade game."

It's a related story because there's fighting and fighting is Limbaugh's forte. It's also a related story because the other woman's son was "hogging" something or other.

No further comment.

The Holocaust Journal (Lest We Forget)

Germany - 1938 (Part I)

The level of persecution for Jews in Germany and other parts of Europe escalated during 1938. The Nazis invaded and annexed Austria, an action that came to be known as the "Anschluss," and suddenly all 190,000 of Austria's Jews were in mortal peril. They "would find themselves targeted by a campaign of persecution, expropriation, and forced emigration that moved more rapidly and thoroughly than anything the German Jews had as yet experienced."

Sigmund Freud, 82, left his home in Vienna when German troops crossed the Austrian border. His home was searched twice by the Gestapo, his daughter, Anna, was interrogated by the Nazi thugs, the Nazis seized family property and made Freud pay an emigration tax.

Freud was coerced into signing a paper saying that he was not mistreated. He did, but risking arrest, added to it these words: "I can most highly recommend the Gestapo to everyone." Nothing like a bit of ironic humor when facing the threat of imprisonment and death.

The annexation of Austria, while a triumph for Hitler, gave the Nazis a headache in that now they had a huge Jewish population with which to deal. But deal with it they did, and they were pleased to have the assistance of the International Business Machine corporation (IBM) to identify and move Jews out of Austria into other countries or concentration camps.

* By the end of 1938, about 200,000 of Germany's 500,000 Jews had emigrated.

* 1938 - Jozef Tiso, a right-wing Catholic priest, becomes prime minister of Slovakia and immediate establishes ties with the German Nazi regime.

* 1938 - Hitler tells Hans Frank, the Minister of Justice, that "he has come to fulfill the curse imposed by the Jews themselves in the New Testament: 'His [Jesus's] blood be upon us and upon our children..'

Hitler, born and raised a Roman Catholic, had a great fondness for Martin Luther and said that Luther , had he been fully aware of the Jewish threat, would not have criticized the Catholic Church, but would have energetically attacked the Jews.

* January - The Dachau Concentration Camp is enlarged.

* January - The Swedish government enacts rigid immigration rules.

* January 31 - Romanian Jews are stripped of their citizenship.

* February 4 - Hitler names himself supreme commander of the Wehrmacht. In Austria, the Nazis prepare to take over all Jewish-owned businesses.

* March - The Polish government says it will likely revoke the citizenship of Polish Jews living in Germany.

* March 12 - The Anschluss - German troops move into Austria. Jews in Austia are immediately subject to all anti-Semitic laws in effect in Germany. This also means that Jewish organizations and congregations are forbidden.

* March 28 - The German government refuses to recognize Jewish commmunity organizations in Germany.

* Apri 5 - Anti-Jewish riots run rampant across Poland.

* April 15 - A number of Jews are killed during a progrom in Dabrowa Tarnowska, Poland.

* April 21 - Germany enacts a law that allows the seizure of Jewish assets, and essentially removes Jews from the country's economic life.

* April 23 - This was a Sabbath day. Jews are rounded up by the Nazis and forced to eat grass at the Prater, an amusement park. Many of them suffer heart attacks; a few die.

* April 26 - All Jews in Germany with real estate or other assets valued at more than 5,000 marks must register with the authorities...this the first step toward expropriation of Jewish property.

* April 29 - A number of Jews are killed during an anti-Semitic program in Vilna, Poland.

* May - Jewish men and women are forced by Austrians to scrub streets with small brushes and the women's fur coats.

* May 3 - The Nazis set up another concentration camp at Flossenburg, Germany.

* May 28 - In Frankfurt, Germany, Jewish businesses are boycotted.

* May 29 - The proportion of Jews working in commerce, industry, the liberal professions and the government in Hungary is reduced to 20 percent.

* May 31 - A German law forbids "decadent [read Jewish] art."

* June 9 - Munich's most prominent synagogue is burned to the ground by the Nazis.

* June 14 - All Jewish busnesses not previously registered, now must register.

* June 15 - All Jews previously convicted of any crime (even a traffic offense) in Germany are arrested.

* June 22 - Joe Louis knocks out German heavyweight boxer, Max Schmeling, who Hitler thought symbolized "Aryan superiority." A PR win for the good guys.

* June 25 - Jewish doctors now may treat only Jewish patients.

* June 6-14 - An international conference is called by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at Evian-les-Bains, France, to deal with the Jewish refugee problem. The 32 nations attending decide they will accept only a very few Jews. Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic want exorbitant sums of money to take a small number of Jews. The conference is a failure!

More to come.

Creation Science is Christian Theology in Disguise

One of the major arguments that Creationists use when they attempt to pass off their nonsense on the public schools is that Creationism and/or Intelligent Design is not religious, but another "scientific" way of looking at the origin of the earth and its inhabitants.

As the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania, said: Baloney! Creationism and Intelligent Design is all about religion, and is nothing more that an underhanded attempt to foist a particular set of religious beliefs on children in our public schools.

I can't imagine why that was ever questioned. Even though the Creationists in all their various forms speak out of two sides of their mouths, they are very public and up front about their religious credo.

Point your browser to the Answers in Genesis website and see for yourself.

There you will find a biography of Ken Ham, [see photo] president and founder of Answers in Genesis--U.S., and information about the incredibly stupid Creation Museum. The biography announces proudly that Mr. Ham "is one of the most in-demand Christian speakers in North America." He is "the author of numerous books on the book of Genesis, the accuracy and authority of the Bible, dinosaurs, and the destructive fruits of evolutionary thinking ..."

That says it clearly. Key words: Christian, authority of the Bible, destructive fruits of evolutionary thinking...

On another page of the website you will find advertisements for various books, such as: "The Lie: Evolution." Another tome claims that it "Equips Christians to defend the book of Genesis." Or how about "Answers Academy Curriculum," which "equips you with a creation-based worldview"? Then there's a DVD called "Dinosaurs, Genesis and the Gospel." And everyone will need the booklet "Where Did God Come From," which "Teaches Christians the right way to defend their faith when they argue creation vs evolution."

If a school board in your area begins to ramble on about the importance of presenting different scientific points of view in its science classes, please remind them that Creation "Science" is an oxymoron, that it is not science in any sense of the word, but a Christian theological worldview and tell them to point their browsers to Answers in Genesis for corroboration.

You'll be doing our public school children a huge favor.

Those Damn Democrats!

Here are some responses to Democratic criticism of John Hagee and John McCain's failure to renounce Hagee's support for his presidential campaign. (They are taken from the Christian news site, onenewsnow.)

* "The Democrats are so hateful that it is ironic that only conservative thoughts are called 'hate speech' in the media. The liberals are really winning big in 2008, even if somehow Barack Hussein Obama loses to McCain, the liberals still get the most liberal Republican possible. The sad thing is that this truly is what the majority of voters want."

* The Democrats are hypcrites (sic) because they are the ones truly intolerant. 'Woe unto those who call evil good and good evil.'

* ... How sad that who is in the White House and controls congress (sic) is more important to most people then (sic) where they will spend eternity. I guess they have forgotten that God is in control and we all have a date in His courtroom. I don't agree with all of Paster (sic) Hagee's speech but he stands on his priciple (sic) and walks what he talks. If more Christians would stand for what is right and repent of their secret sins we wouldn't be in the moral mess we are in America. [What secret sins? I want to know more about that!]

* I am no fan of John McCain, but I have to give him a thumbs up for not caving to the democratic (sic) whiners on Pastor Hagee's endorsement.

* The Democrats hate everyone who aren't (sic) Godless, socialist, reprobate trash like them.

* I don't agree with everything John McCain stands for either, but I applaud him for taking a stand and not giving in to the DNC. Perhaps they should take a good look in the mirror when talking about 'hate speech.'

* The Dems have tried this same line several times when Bob Jones would endorse. It's just political garbage. [Huh?]

* Good grief! This is proof yet again that the Democratic leadership will go to any lengths to distort any oppositional speech. I complete agree with Senator McCain about this.

* The truth hurts.

* Pastor Hagee preaches the truth and some times (sic) the truth hurts. Hagee should run for president. He has my vote.

* Why in the world would John Hagee endorse John McCain? That's just as bad as Pat Robertson endorsing Rudy 'the cross dresser' Guiliani. Hagee has spoken out about our unsecured borders and radical Islam. What does he think John McCain will do? Nothing except make matters worse. It makes no sense why 'Christian leaders' consistently avoid Congressman Ron Paul especially those from the great state of Texas.

Aargh!

A Harangue of Hagee

Whatever else John Hagee is, he is certainly a supporter of Israel.

From Israel's point of view, that may be good, as Israel needs all the supporters it can get. The question, however, remains: How do you stay clean if you lay down in the gutter?

The reason that Hagee, a "Christian Zionist," is so pro-Israel, is that Israel plays a pivotal role in his crackpot end-times scenario. Israel is critical to the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecies, says Mr. Hagee. Therefore, Hagee will support Israel in every circumstance.

Part of Hagee's mindset is that we are involved in a religious war with Islam. In his book, "Jerusalem Countdown," Hagee wrote that "This is a religious war that Islam cannot -- and must not -- win." He goes on to warn that "The end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching ... Rejoice and be exceeding glad -- the best is yet to be."

How sick is that? Does that not resound with echoes of the theology of 19 Islamic fanatics who flew their planes into the Twin Towers?

Who is this Hagee, anyway, that John McCain has embraced and called a great spiritual leader and whose support he welcomes, even though he doesn't agree with everything Hagee says.

[Unfortunately John has chosen not to tell us which of Hagee's opinions or positions he doesn't agree with. I think it's important that McCain come clean on this issue.]

Hagee got his start in the big time in San Antonio back in 1975, when he joined the staff of the Church of Castle Hill, "a moribund parish with only a few dozen worshippers and heavy debts. He had quit his previous church the same year during a messy divorce that was quickly followed by his remarriage to a young churchgoer. Attracted by Mr. Hagee's mix of thundering oratory and folksy humor, the congregation mushroomed."

Today, it's known as the Cornerstone Church, a mega-outfit of some 18-19,000 members. He runs a TV company and is very close to the Republican head honchos. It is reported that he speaks with King George hisself about once per week.

It hasn't all been roses, though. Some folks objected when Hagee invited certain people to speak at Cornerstone, such as pardoned felon, Oliver North and the disgraced TV evangelist, Jimmy Swaggart. He also had a feud of sorts going with Jerry Falwell who claimed that Hagee believed in the "dual covenant." [The dual covenant refers to the notion that Christians and Jews have different agreements with God that allow each to get to heaven.]

Hagee met with Falwell and convinced Falwell that he did not believe in the dual covenant. But he's a bit fuzzy on what he actually does believe. As to whether Jews will get to heaven without converting to Jesus, he says that "a remnant of the Jewish people ... have favor with God right now," whatever that means.

One of his biggest miscues, though, was a "slave" sale. To assist some students find odd jobs, his church newsletter advertised a "slave" sale. It actually said, "Slavery in America is returning to Cornerstone. Make plans to come and go home with a slave."

There was, not surprisingly, an uproar. Hagee did apologize, but "in a radio interview, protested about pressure to be 'politically correct' and joked that perhaps his pet dog should be called a 'canine American.'"

If that shows nothing else, it shows an ungodly arrogance that lacks common sense and has little sensitivity toward those who are not white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants!

Hagee is an unmitigated hate-monger with an international audience. Some people would say he's an unmitigated SOB. So what does the fact that he's got the president's ear make King George? And what does the fact that John McCain thinks he's a great spiritual leader, make John McCain?

(Thanks to Andrew Higgins of the Wall Street Journal for much of the above information.)