Kidnapped by Japan - How A Mother's Dying Wish Led To A Father's Unimaginable Loss

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bits and Pieces

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For all the advances in technology, has anything really been invented in the computer age that can give more genuine pleasure than a simple book?

Is there anybody in the US who says more things that are true more frequently than economist and author Thomas Sowell (who does this kind of column much better that I)?

Could anything be more perfect than standing on the beach in Carmel, CA listening to the waves lap the shore, with a full moon rising at dusk?

Is there anybody who will save Britney Spears from herself and rewrite the impending fatal conclusion to her bizarre, sad story?

Is there any more ironic sight than that of John Edwards, a man who has made millions of dollars while producing nothing campaigning on the "greed" of companies that produce useful products and advocating taking their earnings and giving them to politicians who make their livings spending money that others worked for?

Would everybody who thinks 9/11 was an inside job, that George W. Bush invaded Iraq to line the pockets of "his oil buddies" and/or believes that the Trilateral Commission has its evil tentacles everywhere, please hook up with the folks who believe that aliens are kidnapping people to experiment on them, believe that crop circles are a form of alien communication and think that global warming will destroy humanity within the next decade and see if any of you thinks that any of the others are nuts? I'd be curious.

Is Jack Bauer great, or what?

Every day I deal with shallow, annoying people doing and saying dumb things, why on Earth would I want to watch "Reality TV" where shallow, annoying people do and say dumb things?

Hondas are great cars.

I read Lonesome Dove over a year ago and I still think of it often.

The Sopranos was addictive but would it really have been a crime if the last episode had had a satisfying conclusion?

I've always been a DC man more than a Marvel fan-boy.

Going from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon you see Man at his most extreme and then God at His. Man's got nothing on God.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Obama, You're No Osama

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Now that the results of the Iowa Caucus has given Hillary Clinton yet another type of surge from which to recoil in horror, causing her to resort to some truly odd campaign decisions, such as apparently hiring Edmund Muskie’s old campaign manager, it seems like an appropriate time to look at her apparent replacement as the newly anointed savior of America, Senator Barak Obama a little more closely. While the msm treats him with the kind of deference they might reserve for the love-child of Che Guevara and JFK there is much about him that the American people should consider before going into the polling booth, pulling the lever for him and then being carried away in the Rapture.

While it is vaguely known that Obama had some sort of childhood Muslim connection, the specifics of that connection remains hidden by the blinding light of the Senator’s ambition. A review of the information available does show that while his mother was Christian both his natural father and step-father were both Muslims. His given name, Barak Hussein certainly makes that Muslim influence clear. While living in Indonesia as a small child he attended both Christian and Muslims schools. Now there is ample evidence from the time to make a case for the fact that he was, at least in a technical sense, a Muslim. He says today that at no time was he ever anything but a Christian and frankly it is hard to know what was in his heart then or even if what was in the heart of small child has any bearing at all on the man of today. If he says he wasn’t a Muslim, I’m perfectly happy to take his word for it.

But the issue can’t just end there. While whether baby-Obama was Muslim or not may or may not matter to you or me there are people to whom it matters a great deal: Muslims. The fact that there is some evidence that he was once an adherent to the faith and now proclaims himself to be a Christian makes him an apostate; and that is not a very good thing to be at all. And the fact that he should be viewed as such has some very real ramifications should he become President.

According to Islamic teaching the punishment for apostasy is death. Now while George W. Bush may be an infidel, the very existence of whom may cause any self-respecting Islamofascist to start sharpening his scimitar, apostates really drives them berserk. We are in completely alien territory when we begin to try determine how, not just Muslim extremists would react to having an apostate as President of the US (although considering how some not unusually nasty cartoons sent them into a tizzy, I’m sure we can all just imagine) but how even more “moderate” Muslims would react.

The effect it would have vis-à-vis relations with the Arab world might be seen if we look at how Muslim countries treat apostates within their legal systems. As it turns out apostates don’t fare very well. In Saudi Arabia apostasy is punishable by death. The death sentence hasn’t been imposed for a number of years however, 300 lashes being the preferred punishment of late. Sudan, Qatar and Mauritania also have codified death as the proper penalty for converts as well. Shari’ah courts in a number of countries also have called for fatwas for the offense. Even as American-friendly a country as Afghanistan recently had a controversy over its prosecution of Abdul Rahman, once Muslim, now Christian. After a loud international outcry he was eventually released, going to Italy with his life intact, if not his nerves.

How exactly would countries whose laws call for the death of apostates work with, negotiate with a US President who is one? Would he be invited to those countries? Would his representatives? How would Pakistan, already unstable, react to such a turn of events? How would it affect the “peace process”?

And what would be the foreign policy implications within the US? The Democrats, who have seemed to adopt a the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend policy toward Islamic radicals while George Bush has been in office may find their blinders ripped off when an ever growing Islamofascist “fringe” makes the central focus of their lives the destruction of, not the hated hillbilly Texan but their own beloved hero.

All this may not be the sole issue on which people decide who will be getting their votes but if it is not a consideration everyone may be in for a very big surprise.

Hot Air comments on a NY Times op-ed on just this subject.

Gina Cobb finds the topic worthy of discussion as well

Outside The Beltway adds their thoughts

Gateway Pundit picks up the story, too.

Abe Greenwald at Commentary Magazine looks at the issue, as well

The Southern Appeal finds it an interesting topic.

First The Bill, Then The Change

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We can learn a lot about people by the words they use. In the Democratic presidential debate that took place on January 5, the word “change” was uttered 65 times by the candidates and moderator.

They touted their experience in “making change”, how they “delivered change”, that they represented “significant change” and would bring “real change”. At one point Senator Hillary Clinton said that for 35 years she has been an “Agent of CHANGE” (caps mine) (a turn of phrase that conjures disturbing images of the former First Lady tooling around in a classic Aston Martin, while unleashing all manner of clever gadgets at all the nefarious enemies of CHANGE before announcing they’d been brought low by “Clinton, Hillary Clinton”).

From all this one idea shines through, brightly: this “change” thing is hot stuff. Obviously everybody wants it, wants a lot of it and wants it now. But I wonder…is change, in and of itself, necessarily good?

Since the past is frequently instructive in answering such questions I decided to revisit the outcomes of situations where “the people” demanded change and got it. Following is a very abbreviated history of political change:

· In 1917 the Russian people, dissatisfied with their chronic poverty, food shortages and out-of-touch autocracy, overthrew it and brought into existence the Soviet Union. This certainly was change writ large. This change was then followed by seventy-plus years of political repression (including the forced starvation of ten million Ukrainians), economic stagnation and a Cold War that for forty years threatened to lead to nuclear incineration for all of humanity.

· In 1933 with Germany reeling economically, socially and politically after its defeat in WWI and the punitive terms of the Treaty of Versailles under which it was forced to exist, change was obviously needed and Adolph Hitler became chancellor promising to deliver it. This change was then followed by WWII, the Holocaust and the deaths of twenty-plus millions of people.

· In 1976, the American people, angry at President Gerald Ford for pardoning the corrupt Richard Nixon voted for change and elected Jimmy Carter. This change led to gas shortages, a 12% rate of inflation, a 7.5% unemployment rate, a hostage crisis and the triumph of Islamic radicalism in Iran.

Of course political change also led (in no particular order) to the election of Ronald Reagan, American economic and spiritual renewal, the collapse of the aforementioned Soviet Union and American Revolution. So it would seem that the history of political “change” is a checkered one indeed and that “change” is positive only insofar as the kind of change that is being brought.

While apparently trying to turn “change” into some sort of mystical mantra the recitation alone of which shows their worthiness, the Democratic candidates haven’t totally ignored why they feel change is needed and the type of change they plan to bring. Senator Barak Obama has said and the others agree that Americans have lost their trust and confidence in government. Of course believing this to be true it is somewhat odd that the Democratic party-line on this is that the answer to it is more government. All the Democratic candidates are throbbing in anticipation of having the federal government take over health care, take more of our money in new taxes and basically do more of what they believe the American people feel the government doesn’t do very well in the first place. Hillary Clinton has made it known that she has more ideas for government than we “can afford”, a much more honest and bold admission than can be found in the Pavlovian chanting of “Change!” in response to every question.

After understanding the uselessness of the bald notion of “change” maybe it would be better if, every time a politician tries to hypnotize us into thinking the future will be rosy because they’ve got “change” in their hip pockets we asked them how much the bill will be instead. After all, there could well be a big cost for the change they plan to give us in return.