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IT'S one of history's most important questions: Why did Europe and North America embrace democracy and thrive economically while countries elsewhere suffered oppression and stagnation?
Leading U.S. sociologist Rodney Stark says many scholars purposely overlook the obvious answer: It was the spread of Christianity that made possible political and economic freedoms, modern science and resulting western advancement.
...He thinks the basis for the West's rise was "an extraordinary faith in reason" resulting from Christianity, which "alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth." Faith in humanity's reasoning capacity, in turn, stimulated scientific theory-making, democratic theory and individual freedoms. Capitalism applied this to economics, producing an explosion of wealth.
No links between the Saddam regime and Al Quaeda. No links between the Saddam regime and terrorism. That's the mantra of the left that has essentially become conventional wisdom. There's only one problem. It simply isn't true:
THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME OF Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The existence and character of these documents has been confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by eleven U.S. government officials.
Bill Kristol blames the Bush Administration for not getting these facts out to the general public. He even goes so far as to call the administration unmanly:
The Bush administration has shied away from engaging the issue of Saddam and his terror ties. This is both foolish and unmanly. The president is neither. It is past time that he insist that his subordinates get the facts out. Then we can have a serious debate, and reach a better-grounded judgment, about the terror connection. Our reporting so far convinces us of the reality and the significance of the terror connection. But we want all the facts--and we trust the purveyors of the conventional wisdom will join us in asking for all the facts as well.
Why are we all so easily offended these days? I suppose it stems from our "zero-tolerance" mindset. We expect no casualties in war. We expect every consumer item to work perfectly without problem (and then we sue when it doesn't). We want risk-free lives. We expect to be perfectly comfortable at all times. Whenever one of these conditions doesn't persist, we look for someone to blame. Midshipman Samatha Foxton was recently made uncomfortable and now an Annapolis Oceanography teacher is being court-martialed:
The incident occurred last August during an oceanographic cruise in the Chesapeake Bay. Lt. Black served as safety officer on what is called a yard patrol craft. The charging document states that Lt. Black made "a crude remark" in the presence of a female midshipman, Samantha Foxton, about how a battleship sexually arouses him. He suggested how it might arouse her. The remarks created "an intimidating, hostile and offensive working environment."
This sounds strangely reminiscent of the Left Behind books:
Iranian President Mahmoud's Ahmadinejad's mystical pre-occupation with the coming of a Shiite Islamic messiah figure – the Mahdi – is raising concerns that a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic could trigger the kind of global conflagration he envisions will set the stage for the end of the world.
...In a videotaped meeting with Ayatollah Javadi-Amoli in Tehran, Ahmadinejad discussed candidly a strange, paranormal experience he had while addressing the United Nations in New York last September.
He recounts how he found himself bathed in light throughout the speech. But this wasn't the light directed at the podium by the U.N. and television cameras. It was, he said, a light from heaven.
..."On the last day when I was speaking, one of our group told me that when I started to say 'Bismillah Muhammad,' he saw a green light come from around me, and I was placed inside this aura," he says. "I felt it myself. I felt that the atmosphere suddenly changed, and for those 27 or 28 minutes, all the leaders of the world did not blink. When I say they didn't move an eyelid, I'm not exaggerating. They were looking as if a hand was holding them there, and had just opened their eyes – Alhamdulillah!"
Now, I was no fan of the Clinton Administration, but even I don't think they were so dumb as to do this:
Beginning in February 2000, the CIA recruited a Russian scientist who had defected to the US years earlier. His mission: Take the nuclear blueprints to Vienna to sell them - or simply give them - to the Iranian representatives for the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Dubbed "Operation Merlin," the plan was supposed to steer Iranian physicists off track by incorporating design flaws in the blueprints that would render the information worthless. But in what may turn out to be one of the greatest foreign policy blunders of all time, Operation Merlin backfired when the Russian scientist spotted the design flaws immediately - and even offered to help Iran fix the problems.
Risen said the Clinton-approved plan ended up handing Tehran "one of the greatest engineering secrets in the world, providing the solution to one of a handful of problems that separated nuclear powers such as the United States and Russia from rogue countries such as Iran that were desperate to join the nuclear club but had so far fallen short."
HENLEY UPON THAMES, England -- This photo supplied by Guinness World Records shows Edd China talking to a shopper while driving his way into Guinness World Records book in Henley-upon-Thames, England, after engineering what the book calls the largest motorized shopping cart in the world. The 11.4 feet tall, 9.8 feet long and 5.9 feet wide cart was created to celebrate the book's self-proclaimed first ever Guinness World Records Day on Wednesday Nov. 9, 2005. Edd is also currently featured in the Guinness World Records 2006 edition book for his record for the World's Fastest Sofa.
Here's the theme in the MSM for the weekend: after the fall guilty pleas of Jack Abramoff, the mid-term election prospects for Republicans are dire. This is the story they want to sell (oh, how they want to) to the gullible American public. One way they accomplish this is to breathlessly report on bogus polls:
In an ominous election-year sign for Republicans, Americans are leaning sharply toward wanting Democrats to take control of Congress, an AP-Ipsos poll finds. Democrats are favored 49 percent to 36 percent. The poll was taken this week as Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to tax evasion, fraud and corruption charges and agreed to aid a federal investigation of members of Congress and other government officials.
So, Democrats are favored over Republicans by 13 percentage points. Well, that makes perfect sense if you look at who was polled:
2a. Do you consider yourself a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent or none of these? *
(IF “DEMOCRAT” TO Q.2a, Q.2b ASKED. IF “REPUBLICAN” TO Q.2a, Q.2c ASKED. IF “INDEPENDENT” or “NONE OF THESE” TO Q.2a, Q.2d ASKED. RESULTS SHOWN IN SUMMARY BELOW.)
2b. Do you lean strongly or only moderately toward the Democratic Party?
2c. Do you lean strongly or only moderately toward the Republican Party?
2d. Do your beliefs tend to lean more toward the Democrats or the Republicans?
Strongly Republican .......................... 13
Moderately Republican ..................... 27
Definitely Independent/neither........... 8
Moderately Democrat........................ 32
Strongly Democrat ............................ 20
Total Republican ............................. 40
Total Democrat ................................ 52
There's more over at Ankle Biting Pundits:
We're not saying the GOP is going to have an easy time in 2006, but when you read slanted polls like this you really wonder if the purpose of conducting it was to get good results, or push an agenda. Given the history of the AP/Ipsos poll, my bet is on the latter.
Was Ariel Sharon's stroke an act of God? Well, many people think so:
As Prime Minister, Sharon was frequently heard to express his belief that “no one” could tell him how to run the country; “no one” could teach him what he needed to know to provide security for his people; “no one” would tell him what to do.
This very afternoon, just hours before he was felled by his second stroke, Sharon declared his intention to – after the elections he was so sure he would win – continue to “disengage,” letting go great swathes of Judea and Samaria, Israel’s biblical heartland, and pulling his nation behind a “security wall” while enabling the State of Palestine to be established on the other side.
If the medical and political experts flooding the airwaves tonight are only partially correct in their estimations, this is a policy Sharon will never be able to carry out. He has been unseated; the reins of power have been taken from his hands.
Pat Robertson thinks so too:
Robertson said Sharon divided Israel and ... quote ... "woe unto any Prime Minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU (European Nation), the United Nations, or the United States of America."
Zeta again strengthened into a tropical storm Thursday and could break the record for the storm lasting the longest into January since record keeping began in 1851.
Zeta, the 27th and final named storm in a tumultuous, record-breaking hurricane season that officially ended more than a month ago, had sustained winds near 40 mph at 10 a.m., up from 35 mph earlier in the day, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Winds had reached 65 mph on Wednesday.
Do you trust the media? Do you think mainstream reporters and media outlets have an agenda or do you think that they are attempting to give you their honest assessments of the current state of affairs? For those of you who read this blog, you probably already know my opinion--but keep an open mind. Carefully consider the story in today's Washington Post titled, Political Splits on Immigration Reflect Voters' Ambivalence. Here's the opener:
When Congress returns to the unfinished business of immigration early in the new year, lawmakers will be trying to reconcile sometimes conflicting public attitudes on an issue that has become a crusade to some conservative Republicans but has defied effective solutions over the past three decades.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll taken in mid-December found Americans alarmed by the federal government's failure to do more to block the flow of illegal immigration and critical of the impact of illegal immigration on the country but receptive to the aspirations of undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States.
We'll just read right through the evocative crusade to some conservative Republicans and the purposely fuzzy receptive to the aspirations language and get to the main premise: there are conflicting public attitudes on illegal immigration. Much as some blatantly liberal Democrats would like to believe it, this is demonstrably untrue. A quick internet search will yield multiple polls which belie this assertion. Just look here or here or here or here.
The problem of illegal immigration has not defied an effective solution, rather it has defied political will to effect a solution. While it may not be economically or politically feasible to round up and deport all current illigal aliens, it is certainly economically (and becoming politically) feasible to stop them at the borders. This is overwhelmingly supported by the polling data. And while Americans may be receptive to the aspirations of illegals, they certaintly want them deported when they commit crimes.
So next year when Congress debates a new immigration reform law and the Democrats will stop at nothing less than wide open borders and driver's licences and voter registration for illegals, remember, there really isn't much disagreement among Americans.
And here's another little tidbit that has its origins in an allegedly fallacious Washington Post piece written about a blogger embedded with front-line units in Iraq:
The piece claims that I had retired from the military, when in fact it requires 20 years of service to retire. I served four years on active duty and two years in the National Guard. The authors report that I was credentialed by the American Enterprise Institute, when in fact this is impossible, as a think tank cannot provide media credentials — this must be done by a recognized news organization. I was credentialed by The Weekly Standard and the Canadian talk-radio show The World Tonight. And finally, contrary to the report, I was not in Iraq when the article was published. I had been home for nearly a week. Each of these items could have been easily confirmed by a simple inquiry.
The incorrect facts on their own can easily be discounted as trivial, but...
Wanna know what the NEA is spending Union dues on? Check this out.
2005 has been a very good year for blogging and bloggers--although I've been largely absent. One of my New Year's resolutions is to get this portion of the site back up and running. Although I've been very busy this past year, I've really missed the total news immersion that blogging
provides requires. I don't want to get burned out, so I'll start slowly. Here's to a great 2006.
Michele Malkin has an excellent rundown on the mainstream media's agitation over blogs and bloggers during the past year.Meanwhile, even though such reputed sources as the Washington Post are accusing bloggers of being instruments of the administration, today's NYT outlines their real beef in this quote by Jamie McIntyre of CNN (emphasis added):
"With the Internet, with blogs, with text messages, with soldiers writing their own accounts from the front lines, so many people are trying to shape things into their own reality," he said. "I don't worry so much anymore about finding out every little detail five minutes before someone else. It's more important that we take that information and tell you what it means."
A Denmark newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, published several cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed last September. Of course, this has upset the practitioners of the Religion of Peace and a bounty has been offered for the heads of the cartoonists (similar to what happened to Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh). After all, what's a faithful practitioner of the Religion of Peace supposed to do when Mohammed is maligned? The answer comes via the Fatwa Bank on Islamonline.net:
In Islam, it is well known that the punishment for the one who insults the Prophet is to be killed because it constitutes an attack against the Seal of the Prophets and the symbol of Monotheism. However, we Muslims are ordered to be forgiving and pardoning. There is a clear indication to this in the Qur'an as Allah Almighty says: (…Forgive and be indulgent (toward them) until Allah gives command. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things.) (Al-Baqarah 2: 109)
So basically, the idea is that these cartoonists should be killed--but not until Allah says so. Human Events has a good primer on the subject.
And now, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (which, according to their website "represents the cultural conscience of the Islamic world") has called for a boycott on Denmark. Well, I suppose the boycott will have to do until Allah allows something better.
Thomas Sowell, on terrorists:
Just last year, before the American election, Osama bin Laden warned that those places that voted for the re-election of the President would become targets of terrorist retribution.
We could ignore him then. But neither we, nor our children, nor our children's children will ever be able to ignore him again if he gets nuclear weapons from a nuclear Iran. We will live at his mercy -- of which he has none -- if he can wipe out New York or Chicago if we do not knuckle under to his demands, however outrageous those demands might be.
We will truly have passed the point of no return. What will future generations think of us, that we drifted on past the warning signs, preoccupied with library records and with giving foreign terrorists the same legal rights as American citizens?
Mark Steyn points to demography and Islam's bloody borders:
Speaking of which, if we are at war—and half the American people and significantly higher percentages in Britain, Canada, and Europe don’t accept that proposition—than what exactly is the war about? We know it’s not really a “war on terror.” Nor is it, at heart, a war against Islam, or even “radical Islam.” The Muslim faith, whatever its merits for the believers, is a problematic business for the rest of us. There are many trouble spots around the world, but as a general rule, it’s easy to make an educated guess at one of the participants: Muslims vs. Jews in “Palestine,” Muslims vs. Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs. Christians in Africa, Muslims vs. Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims vs. Russians in the Caucasus, Muslims vs. backpacking tourists in Bali.
Read the whole thing. It's brilliant. Try this one little nugget about multiculturalism:
Take multiculturalism: the great thing about multiculturalism is that it doesn’t involve knowing anything about other cultures—the capital of Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is feeling good about other cultures. It’s fundamentally a fraud, and I would argue was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don’t want to live in anything but an advanced western society: Multiculturalism means your kid has to learn some wretched native dirge for the school holiday concert instead of getting to sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or that your holistic masseuse uses techniques developed from Native American spirituality, but not that you or anyone you care about should have to live in an African or Native-American society. It’s a quintessential piece of progressive humbug.
Artifacts with links to Bible unearthed
On a lighter note:
A pack of angry Chihuahuas attacked a police officer who was escorting a teenager home after a traffic stop, authorities said. The officer suffered minor injuries, including bites to his ankle, Detective Bill Veteran said.
The five Chihuahuas escaped the 17-year-old boy's home and rushed the officer in the doorway Thursday, authorities said. The teenager had been detained after the traffic incident. The officer was treated at a hospital and returned to work less than two hours later.