The Grim Milestone of Blogs "I find the language and rhetoric coming from America too confrontational" - Prince Charles "Nuts" - Gen McAuliffe America: Saving idiots from themselves since WWI
Sunday, August 29, 2004
The title of a recent column clarifies the difference between great nations like the United States and theocratic disasters such as Iran: The GOP is not A Church, by Rev. Jerry Falwell
It's not often I agree with Rev. Falwell. I laughed at the cartoon which led to his lawsuit against Larry Flynt. Perhaps I should apologize. Flynt has turned his fortune towards politics with a greater vengance than Falwell.
The most significant innovation in the American constitutional system, a landmark achievement at the time, is the First Amendment. It strikes a tenuous balance between the free exercise of religion, but against the establishment of it.
In Islam we often see the church and state merged. This is Koranic Islam in it's raw, ugly form. It leads to honor killings, beheadings, a lack of technical innovation, misogyny, the shame-honor dynamic, denial of obvious provable facts, and theocratic governance. Worst of all is the fundamental belief that human progress is not possible, that morality expressed through the legal system is immutable. This is why shari'a (Islamic law) is still handing down judgments worthy of Monty Python's Holy Grail. I forget whether witches float or sink. I had never seen a snuff film until Islam began shooting them on video. In Islamic banking there are Orwellian terms for interest to avoid medieval usury law. The belief that a Seventh Century 'prophet' perfected a legal system keeps millions of women and children in unimaginable conditions throughout the world. Jerry Falwell is a greater 'prophet' than Mohammed. Of course, his Bible does not include instructions on how to kill anyone who is not a Christian. This gives him a leg up on Muslim clerics.
When we talk about diversity or accepting other cultures, it's good to keep one rule in mind: cultures bent on destroying culture are not worth accepting.
Friday, August 27, 2004
I'm not Jewish. But I could pass for one from the waist down. That alone is reason enough for me to think someone needs to put a fork in these European neo-Nazis by pointing out they are Nazis. There, I did it. How many standard anti-Semitic cliches can one person spew in one interview? I think this one deserves the gold medal.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
I happened to be watching CNN when this story broke. The CNN reporter asked various Shiites who they thought were responsible for these mortar attacks. According to the CNN reporter on the scene the theories ranged from the Interim Iraqi Government to United States forces.
A more rational observer would note that those two institutions have nothing to gain, but much to lose, by enraging the Shiite population. The only person or group that gains anything is al-Sadr and his Medhi Army of cowardly martyrs. The tribalism which one sees within the Islamic community makes me wonder if it is possible to have decent government or any kind of progress in Islamic society. The only 'moderates' in Islam seem to live in the West. The doctrine of taqiyyah (lying to spread Islam among non-believers by denying Islamic scholarship), and wise apostates, explains this phenomenon. Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani is one voice of so-called moderation, but even he has not stated the obvious yet, other Shiites are the ones who attacked his people.
Al-Sadr is an Iranian pawn trying to stir up trouble in Iraq and a coward, nothing more. Or, don't believe your lying eyes. How many more claims he will fight to his last drop of blood followed by retreating into a supposedly holy shrine will it take?
In other news, the latest hudna (a temporary truce for the repositioning of forces) has been reached.
What will the Shiites do if they cannot even acknowledge the obvious schism in their own religion? They will continue to kill each other, while in denial, that's what.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
by Vijay Dutt ("The Hindustan Times," August 2, 2004)
Some Muslim doctors are allegedly refusing to treat patients with sex diseases and Aids because they believe that such ailments are result of sinful behaviour and punishments from God.
Islamic groups have reportedly increased their activities at medical colleges. At the famous Guy's Hospital in London, leaflets have been distributed questioning the theory of evolution. No wonder that hardline attitudes are being adopted by an increasing number of medics.
Such "militant" doctors are generally found in inner-city areas with large ethnic population, such as Leeds, Bradford and London. They pass such patients to other GPs. They are not identified because of the fear of action by the General Medical Council.
Some students from the community are also refusing to accept the theory of evolution or to studying abortion, euthanasia or fertility procedures. Female students are insisting on wearing veils to class despite strict rules against it. The rule is that a patient must be able to see the face of his doctor.
A campaign to sanctify the European Union through the beatification of its founding father, Robert Schuman, has run into stiff resistance from the Vatican and now appears likely to fail.
For 14 years investigators under the diocese of Metz have combed through the life of the French statesman to determine whether he merits the title "Blessed Robert", the first step to sainthood.
The drive for his beatification and eventual canonisation was launched by a private group in Metz, the St Benoit Institute, but has acquired powerful backers, including President Jacques Chirac.
Monday, August 23, 2004
.....The intellectual father of French Revolution, Voltaire, wrote of the Children of Abraham: "They are, all of them, born with raging fanaticism in their hearts, just as the Bretons and Germans are born with blond hair. I would not be in the least surprised if these people would not some day become deadly to the human race." This observation came at a time when European Jews cowered in ghettos.
Anticipating the Holocaust, 19th century French socialist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon had his own solution to the Jewish problem – "either sending back the Jews to Asia or exterminating them."
French anti-Semitism was the original impetus for Zionism. Theodor Herzl, an assimilated Austrian Jew, was so shocked when he encountered Parisian mobs shouting "Death to the Jews" during the Dreyfus Affair, that he was moved to write Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State), starting a movement which would lead to the establishment of the State of Israel within 50 years.
The father of racist theory, Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882), was a Frenchman whose advocacy of Aryan supremacy influenced Hitler. In all of occupied Europe, the Nazis found no more willing accomplices to the Final Solution than the French. The Vichy government rounded up 61,000 Jews and handed them over to the Nazis – almost all died at places like Auschwitz.
By contrast, the Italian army (allied with Germany) saved Jews in its zone of occupation in Southern France. The commander of these troops said it was "against the honor of the Italian army" to allow the deportation of Jews in territory it controlled. (The honor of the French army is illustrated by the scapegoating of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus.)
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Foreign Policy -- March / April 2003
We must also change the way we interact with the world. For people who have suggested that unilateralism is “just the American way,” it’s time to acknowledge that, more and more, our allies are our eyes and ears around the globe and will play a critical role in intelligence operations. We need partners. We should work on our public and private diplomacy more thoughtfully, sensitively, and intensely to develop both.
I support the Bush administration’s goal of a regime change in Iraq. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is a renegade and outlaw who turned his back on the tough conditions of his surrender put in place by the United Nations in 1991. But the administration’s rhetoric has far exceeded its plans or groundwork. In fact, its
single-mindedness, secrecy, and high-blown phrases have alienated our allies and threatened to undermine the stability of the region.
----- John Kerry
Has anyone heard Senator Kerry mention the United Nations oil-for-food scandal, even once? Will Senator Kerry, a near-native of France, ever speak to us about modern French foreign policy or in French? What about those U.N. resolutions Iraq had flaunted last year? Why didn't France stand up for your fictional "international law" last year?
France triangulates between whichever forces it sees fit, always doing what is in the short-term financial interests of France. There is no chance France or Germany will come charging to replace United States troops in Iraq. If The United States is taking unusually high casualties (but the military is performing unbelievably given the IED v. Hummer environment), or allowing disorder, watch the French and Germans handle Iraq.
Kerry's pondering offering our jilted "allies" oil deals in the hopes they send troops. But the vast majority of voters in those nations were opposed to the war in Iraq thanks in part to their, ours, and your proficient media barrage of propaganda. They think it is a quagmire of torture now. Good luck with that one, Boston Strangler. Your United States Senate testimony (perjury?) had more to do with the leftist "baby-killer" meme than any other single event. Every significant television camera in Washington D.C. carried that testimony, every socialist nation uses it as propaganda to this day, and the movies -- the source from which many derive their history -- provided you your military history in some cases. Right Martin Sheen / Col. Kurtz / Dennis Hopper / Boston Strangler?
France and Germany would bait a President-Elect Kerry to make themselves feel important, make the EU look like a powerbroker. They might send a few thousand troops for their soulmate Jean, but I doubt even that. If they do, they will be 'peacekeeping' soldiers with strict orders not to fight back. Kerry would get the same "Non, Nein" but with some diplomatic cover.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Even on its face, this cliche of a canard does not make any sense. The following article is unusual in questioning the conventional stupidity. I hesitate to call it wisdom.
What about Bush's plan for reform in the Middle East? This article tries to answer some of the basic questions. If, like me, you live in a free society can you honestly say you would prefer a brutal dictatorship with no freedom of expression? If you are reading this but answer yes, you are a liar, foolish, or a hypocrite.
.....According to this argument, the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict (or, more generally, the Arab-Israeli conflict) perpetuates a regional security climate that is inimical to political reform. There are several sub-variations of this claim, but the most well developed holds that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict allows authoritarian governments to maintain oversized security apparatuses and restrict public freedoms in the name of national security.
Although Arab governments do typically justify repressive policies on this basis, outside of Lebanon and Syria (and, to a lesser extent, Jordan), the conflict with Israel does not directly affect, or even have the potential to directly affect, the livelihoods of Arab citizens. No informed expert on the region would contend that a war between Israel and Egypt (let alone Morocco or Bahrain) is a real possibility in the next ten years. The threat of internal subversion by Palestinian militants is also very remote in most Arab states. None of the thousands of militants rotting away in Egyptian jails have anything to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Were the conflict to be resolved, Arab regimes would have no trouble finding other suitable security pretexts to oppress their people.
Even in Syria and Lebanon, the claim that the external security threat posed by Israel decisively inhibits democratic transition is dubious. Comparable or greater external security threats did not block democratization in India, South Korea, or Taiwan. In fact, external security threats eventually helped facilitate democratization in Taiwan - the military dictatorship introduced reforms partly in hopes of mobilizing greater Western sympathy for its struggle against China. If the Syrian government were really worried about "Zionist expansion," it would not be so complacent about committing gross human rights violations.
.....the Arab world's authoritarian political climate has itself fueled the growth of militant Islamist movements - this is what President Bush meant when he talked last month of breaking the "cycle of dictatorship and extremism" in the Middle East. Denying citizens peaceful channels of political participation naturally enhances the appeal of ideologies that radically challenge the entrenched political order, particularly among intellectuals. A quarter of a century ago, most radical opposition movements in the Arab world were leftist. Since the end of the Cold War, which diminished the credibility of socialist dogma, Islamic fundamentalism has been the dominant ideological force challenging autocratic governments (many formerly leftist intellectuals literally switched over).
In an environment where freedoms of speech, association, and assembly are heavily restricted, Islamists also enjoy a natural advantage because they can organize and express themselves through mosques and other religious institutions, where governments are typically reluctant to intervene. If relatively free and fair elections are held under such conditions, radical Islamists are likely to achieve inflated electoral success. This is precisely why Islamists won such an overwhelming victory in Algeria's 1991 parliamentary elections (prompting the military to seize power and annul the results). The more protected political rights and civil liberties are, the less likely Islamic extremists will monopolize the political opposition.
Is terrorism an outgrowth of poverty or bad social planning? Absolutely not. The root cause of Islamic terrorism is a violent ideology of jihad, or holy war, against kuffar (unbelievers).
Will appeasement work? Only if the enemy feels like it is losing, and not for long.
Can western nations fight by the traditional rules of warfare against an asymmetric enemy? Yes, if they want to lose.
Why do they hate us? We are successful, powerful, and civilized nations. The powerful have never been loved, and weakness is not a virtue.
It is not too difficult to examine whether there is such a correlation between poverty and terrorism, and all the investigations have shown that this is not the case. The experts have maintained for a long time that poverty does not cause terrorism and prosperity does not cure it. In the world’s 50 poorest countries there is little or no terrorism. A study by scholars Alan Krueger and Jitka Maleckova reached the conclusion that the terrorists are not poor people and do not come from poor societies. A Harvard economist has shown that economic growth is closely related to a society’s ability to manage conflicts. More recently, a study of India has demonstrated that terrorism in the subcontinent has occurred in the most prosperous (Punjab) and most egalitarian (Kashmir, with a poverty ratio of 3.5 compared with the national average of 26 percent) regions and that, on the other hand, the poorest regions such as North Bihar have been free of terrorism. In the Arab countries (such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but also in North Africa), the terrorists originated not in the poorest and most neglected districts but hailed from places with concentrations of radical preachers. The backwardness, if any, was intellectual and cultural — not economic and social.
.....If the issue at stake is a certain territory or the demand for autonomy, a compromise through negotiations might be achieved. But it ought to be recalled that al Qaeda was founded and September 11 occurred not because of a territorial dispute or the feeling of national oppression but because of a religious commandment — jihad and the establishment of shari’ah. Terrorist attacks in Central Asia and Morocco, in Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and partly in Iraq were directed against fellow Muslims, not against infidels. Appeasement may work in individual cases, but terrorist groups with global ambitions cannot be appeased by territorial concessions.
.....Western Europe has become over a number of years the main base of terrorist support groups. This process has been facilitated by the growth of Muslim communities, the growing tensions with the native population, and the relative freedom with which radicals could organize in certain mosques and cultural organizations. Indoctrination was provided by militants who came to these countries as religious dignitaries. This freedom of action was considerably greater than that enjoyed in the Arab and Muslim world; not a few terrorists convicted of capital crimes in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Algeria were given political asylum in Europe. True, there were some arrests and closer controls after September 11, but given the legal and political restrictions under which the European security services were laboring, effective counteraction was still exceedingly difficult.
West European governments have been frequently criticized for not having done enough to integrate Muslim newcomers into their societies, but cultural and social integration was certainly not what the newcomers wanted. They wanted to preserve their religious and ethnic identity and their way of life, and they resented intervention by secular authorities. In its great majority, the first generation of immigrants wanted to live in peace and quiet and to make a living for their families. But today they no longer have much control over their offspring.
.....Terrorism does not accept laws and rules, whereas governments are bound by them; this, in briefest outline, is asymmetric warfare. If governments were to behave in a similar way, not feeling bound by existing rules and laws such as those against the killing of prisoners, this would be bitterly denounced. When the late Syrian President Hafez Assad faced an insurgency (and an attempted assassination) on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Hama in 1980, his soldiers massacred some 20,000 inhabitants. This put an end to all ideas of terrorism and guerrilla warfare.
Such behavior on the part of democratic governments would be denounced as barbaric, a relapse into the practices of long-gone pre-civilized days. But if governments accept the principle of asymmetric warfare they will be severely, possibly fatally, handicapped. They cannot accept that terrorists are protected by the Geneva Conventions, which would mean, among other things, that they should be paid a salary while in captivity. Should they be regarded like the pirates of a bygone age as hostes generis humani, enemies of humankind, and be treated according to the principle of a un corsaire, un corsaire et demi — “to catch a thief, it takes a thief,” to quote one of Karl Marx’s favorite sayings?
.....Big powers have been respected and feared but not loved for good reasons — even if benevolent, tactful, and on their best behavior, they were threatening simply because of their very existence. Smaller nations could not feel comfortable, especially if they were located close to them. This was the case even in times when there was more than one big power (which allowed for the possibility of playing one against the other). It is all the more so at a time when only one superpower is left and the perceived threat looms even larger.
There is no known way for a big power to reduce this feeling on the part of other, smaller countries — short of committing suicide or, at the very least, by somehow becoming weaker and less threatening. A moderate and intelligent policy on the part of the great power, concessions, and good deeds may mitigate somewhat the perceived threat, but it cannot remove it, because potentially the big power remains dangerous. It could always change its policy and become nasty, arrogant, and aggressive. These are the unfortunate facts of international life.
Friday, August 20, 2004
The 1980 Venice Declaration:
This article discusses the attempted modern rehabilitation of Mary Magdalene's image. I recently purchased The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, translated from the Coptic by Jean-Yves LeLoup. The Gospel itself is discussed below. Any thoughts? Anyone? *tapping on the glass*
.....The legend that they were married and had a child was "kept alive by an underground stream of art and artifacts in Western Europe" over the centuries, she said. Terming the supposed union "the most important secret of the Middle Ages," Starbird said the marriage represents God in the form of "male and female symbiosis" that goes beyond mere sexuality. As concern grew over her role as "apostle to the apostles," the one that Jesus loved more than his male apostles, early church leaders set out to suppress her role and voice in Christian tradition, Starbird said. Ancient texts discovered and translated within the past century — including the "Gnostic gospels" named after Christ's disciples including Thomas, Philip and Mary — have rekindled debate not only about Mary's relationship with Christ and her life after his death, but whether he told her information before his crucifixion that had been withheld from his apostles. Much of the book's conjecture about Mary comes from such noncanonical texts, including the "Gospel of Mary." Current liberal scholarly discussion about such questions is presented in "The Da Vinci Code" as factual information, shared during the quest by the book's protagonists to find Magdalene's remains and the documents that accompany them. Those documents — which Brown tells readers were retrieved from the Holy of Holies in ruins of the ancient Jewish temple by a real secret society known as the Knights Templar — purportedly show how the early Christian church subverted the role of women. He makes sweeping statements about an early Christian conspiracy to burn 5 million women as witches throughout Europe and another to cast Mary as a prostitute. There is some truth in both characterizations, but scholars dispute the details. More than a dozen books have been penned in an attempt to separate fact from fiction in "The Da Vinci Code."
Notice the roses leading up to the vessel on the right side of the plate. The vessel is marked with vertical and twin meridian lines. The monk figure is depicted in an unflattering light. The Knights Templar were warrior-monks.
If you carefully examine the female figure, you might draw some strange conclusions. For one thing, what is 'she' wearing on her head? It reminds me of something else. What is the white object the monk is holding under his arm? Does the 'female' figure look pregnant to you? What secret is she telling the monk? Why are his toes pointed in the air?
This plate is a mystery wrapped in an enigma -- made in France. If anyone has ever seen one like it, or any painting it might be based on, please let me know.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
I don't know much about it. It appears to be a Montereau and Creil plate. The markings on the back are:
B & Cie
The B & C stands for Barluet and Company. B & C made plates for Montereau and Creil from 1876 - 1884. The markings on the plate appear to match the style of the Barluet Company very well. I think you will find, as I have, that this plate is unlike any Montereau and Creil plate of the Barluet, or any other period. Here is a link to the markings found on Montereau and Creil plates:
The plate appears genuine to me. Which raises the question, why can't I find out anything about it?
The plate itself is exactly 13 inches wide.