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

Read the story here

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Deep Thought By Sean Penn

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Hat tip to Ed Driscoll for this beaut:

"I hope that he will understand, if he is the nominee, the degree of disillusionment that will happen if he doesn’t become a greater man than he will ever be".
--Sean Penn on Barack Obama

I am sure you are as moved as I by Mr. Penn's eloquence. He remains a national treasure. Sure he does.

Best Bumps

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Hat tip to Barking Moonbat Early Warning System where you can see more. Funny stuff.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Story Jam: Osama Video, The Dark Knight, Margaret Thatcher, John Conyers And Keith Olbermann - Something For Everyone!

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Expected to be more popular and only slightly less comprehensible than George Clooney's latest film OBL is expected to release a new video in the next 72 hours or so. It is to be titled "The Causes of Conflict on the 60th Anniversary of the Establishment of the State of Israeli Occupation," I don't usually like to give away the endings to movies but I'm going to make an exception here: The causes of conflict? Yeah, that'll be us. Sorry for blowing it for you.


Hillsdale College unveiled the first US statue of Lady Margaret Thatcher last weekend. Sadly, Lady Thatcher was too ill to attend the unveiling.

Sculpted by Bruce Wolfe, the statue is over six feet in height and depicts Thatcher sitting in a pensive posture. A plaque on its base includes a quote from a 1990 Thatcher speech:

"The new world of freedom into which the dazzled Socialists have stumbled is not new to us. What to them is uncharted territory is to us familiar and well loved ground. For Britain has returned to those basic truths and principles which made her great—personal liberty, private property and the rule of law, on which democratic freedoms everywhere are based. Ours is a creed which travels and endures. Its truths are written in the human heart."

Excellent. Where are today's Thatcher's, anyway?


Just a few minutes ago I saw the first Batman, The Dark Knight trailer on TV. Dark Knight looks to be seriously cool.


I think I just may have found Barack Obama's running mate...


While John McCain is running around the country dissing Republicans and kvelling at the idea of "reaching across the aisle" to sing Kumbaya with Dems, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers was heard saying:

“We’re closing in on Rove. Someone’s got to kick his ass.”

Conyers said the committee wants Rove to testify about his role in the imprisonment of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, among other things.

“We want him for so many things, it’s hard to keep track,” Conyers said.

Good luck with the reaching, Senator McCain.

Barack Obama Am Stupid

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If George W. Bush were setting a trap then Barack Obama went for the bait like a starving shark after chum. In a speech before Israel's Knesset today Bush said the following:

"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

And Barack Obama flipped out, responding:
"It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."
Ok, fine. Except Bush never actually mentioned Obama and if he and the rest of the vast left-wing attack machine hadn't decided that they recognized themselves in Bush's comments and then went nuts, GWB's comments would probably have only received a brief mention on the evening news instead of becoming the story du jour. And it is not a story one would think Obama wants getting a lot of attention as it highlights his inexperience in and embarrassing naivete about foreign policy.

My guess is that Obama was trying to set up his template for the election in which any criticism of him is immediately labelled an "unprecedented"and "vicious" attack and just the Republicans using the "politics of fear". (Hold me, Mommy. I'm scared.) The only problem here is that in bringing attention to this issue Obama has sent everybody running to his website to come up with this:

Diplomacy: Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.

Now if you want to be generous and say that Iran is not a terrorist state (stop laughing!), alright but no one can say that they don't sponsor terrorism. So Obama wouldn't ever negotiate with terrorists but he's proud and happy to negotiate with their bankers. Oh. Then, it's ok, I guess.

There is no way Obama comes out of this looking good to the average Joe. Calling attention to it was a stupid thing to do.

But stupid and Obama are becoming synonymous lately. On May 13 he launched into the following meandering, fact-poor, verbal glider-looking-for-someplace-safe-to-land and not finding it:

And then there was the May 14 kerfuffle that led to this:

And let's not forget that Obama is apparently a mite confused on how many States there are:

And then, of course there was his abysmal performance in his last debate with Hillary and...well you get the point.

As I pointed out in a previous post Obama has far fewer accomplishments and far less experience that the much maligned Dan Quayle. He is simply not qualified to be President. And continued examples of the kind of ineptitude he showed today (and there will be continued examples) will just make that more and more clear to the American people.

Liberty Pundit comments.
Wake Up America comments.
Hot Air comments.
Common Sense Political Thought comments.
Baldilocks comments.
Exurban League comments.
Fred Thompson comments in a video clip.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

ET Phone The Vatican

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In one of yesterday's posts, The Vatican, Aliens, Ahmadinejad, Hillary, Operation Chaos and Bill Shatner, Too - This Post Has It All I talked about a story in which a Vatican astronomer said that the possible existence of intelligent aliens wouldn't "contradict belief in God". As I mentioned then, the impact of contact with extraterrestrials on religion was a topic that I've been interested in for some time and I'd done some research on it.

Well judging by the rather noticeable spike in my traffic yesterday (and my traffic software's ability to pinpoint what posts are getting attention) it would seem that I'm not the only one interested in the subject. So, it seemed like a good idea to revisit my previous research and do a bit more and I came up with some fascinating things.

As I had remembered yesterday, the "news" that the Catholic Church had no real problem with the idea of intelligent alien life wasn't news at all. Not only isn't the Vatican intimidated by the discovery of alien intelligence in particular but it isn't intimidated by scientific discovery in general, even having its own Pontifical Academy of Sciences, manned by very real and forthcoming scientists as you can see here. If you're interested the Vatican's take on science there is a terrific audio series now on YouTube in which Brother Guy Consolmagno of the Vatican Observatory talks about a wide range of scientific issues and their interrelationship with religion. The first one is below:

Consolmagno is a delightful and amazingly unpretentious man who wrote the booklet (published in 2005) in the upper left corner of this post which, as its sub-title states is about "Catholic Belief and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life". Consolmagno did a great interview with (of all things) Astrobiology Magazine, some of which follows:

AM: You're at an astrobiology conference, and the goal of astrobiology is to understand the origin of life on Earth and to search for life elsewhere, including other intelligent life. So let's just go for the big prize. Suppose another intelligent species is discovered. What would that do to the Church's beliefs about God creating the universe, and Earth, and the creatures on Earth, and sending his only son - which is what it says in the book - to this planet, where there is an intelligent species, perhaps one among millions?

GC: There are five hypotheticals there. So, "I don't know," "I don't know" and "How the heck could I know?" But, I'm also a science fiction fan --

AM: Have you read "The Sparrow"?

GC: Yes, and I hated it. But that's a whole different issue. Nobody in that book had a sense of humor. Nobody in that book knew how to laugh.

But here are three scenarios. The most likely one: We find an intelligent civilization and there's no way in creation we can communicate with them because they're so alien to us. We can't talk to dolphins now. In which case, we'll never know.

The number of stars in the visible universe is estimated to be ten times more than the number of grains of sand on Earth and eleven times the number of cups of water in all the Earth's oceans-- or 70 sextillion, or 70,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000 [seven followed by twenty-two zeros].

Second scenario: We find the intelligent civilization. We can communicate. We discover that they have the two essentials that theologians talk about for the human soul, intelligence and free will. They know who they are, they're self-aware, and they're able to do something about it. I think dogs are self-aware, but they don't have a whole lot of free will. Maybe computers are the same sort of thing. Human beings have to have both.

That means if you're going to have freedom, you've got the capability of doing right and wrong. There is evil in the world, that's an observed fact. There is the need to overcome evil in the world. There's that need for salvation that we all have. I can't imagine they wouldn't need it, if they've got the same freedom we've got.

If you want to trade good bible quotes, here's one: The beginning of the Gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word." The Word is, of course, Jesus, the Word is the second person of the Trinity, the Word is the salvation, the Word is the incarnation of God in the universe, who according to the Gospel is there before the universe was made. The one point in space-time that's the same on every timeline. So that the salvation occurs and is made manifest in the person of Jesus Christ here.

Is it possible that there are other Words in other languages to other cultures? Beats the heck out of me. But that's scenario number two. And people have talked about that for hundreds of years, the idea that there could be other lives - this is classic Catholic poetry. And that's what it is, it's poetry, it's not theology. 'Cause it's so many hypotheticals.

A third scenario: We find a dozen civilizations out there, and a bunch of Jehovah's witnesses go up and convert them all. At the end of the day, every civilization is Christian, except the human race is still not too sure about this. I mean, anything's possible.
The rest of the interview is well worth reading as is this interview with the Catholic News Service in which Consolmagno quotes an obviously very secure Pope John Paul II who once told a group of scientists the reason he wasn't afraid of scientific inquiry,

"Truth does not contradict truth," meaning scientific truths will never eradicate religious truths and vice versa.

All of the above raises a lot questions. Does the Church believe aliens have souls? Why? How would the Church view aliens' place in the universe vis-a-vis humans? There is plenty of material here for conversation and I have more research as well, so if people would like comment, please feel free.

I'll be doing further updates in the future but this looks like a good starting point.

American Papist comments, too

Whom Gods Would Destroy - The Coming Republican Bloodbath

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A portent. An augury. An omen. You don't need a crystal ball or psychic ability to recognize that Tuesday's Republican House seat loss in Mississippi, the third such recent special election House loss in a previously safe Republican district is spelling out potential catastrophe for Republicans in November. Reid Wilson on Real Clear Politics spells out some of the very troubling behind-the-scenes reactions in Washington:

"The political environment is such that voters remain pessimistic about the direction of the country and the Republican Party in general," Cole continued. "I encourage all Republican candidates, whether incumbents or challengers, to take stock of their campaigns and position themselves for challenging campaigns this fall by building the financial resources and grassroots networks that offer them the opportunity and ability to communicate, energize and turn out voters this election."

Still, losing heavily Republican seats in the Deep South is a big blow to the Washington GOP. "To lose two Southern seats in two weeks, I mean, oh my God," the leadership aide said. The aide told Real Clear Politics that something new is going to happen at the NRCC. "People look at Cole, and they say, 'What are you going to do to change?' And if he doesn't want to change, change is going to be forced on him."

A top adviser to a Republican incumbent who has a difficult race in November already says his boss is not looking to the NRCC for the same help he got in 2006. "This chairman badly underestimated how important it is to have top-flight staff," the adviser said, adding that some NRCC staffers are "toiling" under supervisors with less campaign experience. "We had been planning all along to operate without much help from them."

The leadership aide suggested that a former NRCc chairman, Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, could take on a larger role in the coming months. Davis, who is retiring after this session of Congress, ran the committee earlier this decade and currently serves as chairman of the NRCC executive committee. The adviser suggested, instead, that the wounded NRCC presents an opportunity for other members of the caucus to help out their fellow Republicans with political action committee donations, setting up future advancement for themselves.

The troubling thing about this insider info is that while the Republicans are seeing the writing on the wall the only thing they seem to be able to think to do in response is fine-tune their campaign machinery. Well that's ok. You need to be well organized in order to win an election. What they seem not to understand is that you also need a message.

The reason Republicans are held in such low regard is that they went from being Bob Michel country-club Republicans to being Newt Gingrich rebel-young-Turk Republicans and then right back to being country clubbers again. They have become the epitome of big spending, out of touch pols, more interested in perks than people. What they need is a revitalized message built on Reagan-Gingrich style principles. It is probably too late at this point. You can't show up at the 11th hour and say "Forget the last ten years. Now we believe in something again." The credibility just isn't there.

While salvaging November may no longer be possible, it isn't too early to recommit to conservative policies as a foundation from which to run in future elections. The head of the ticket (John McCain - boo hiss) certainly isn't going to energize the base but the stirrings of some real commitment to conservative principles, even now, might be enough to save some House and Senate seats.

On Brit Hume's show on Fox tonight I saw House Minority Leader John Boehner saying that, yep, this is "another wake-up call." He looked awake alright but he didn't look like he knew what to do with his new found consciousness. I'm glad you're awake, Mr. Boehner, now please just act like a conservative. When you think about it, it isn't that much to ask for, is it?

Liberty Pundit shares in the disgust
And so does Below The Beltway

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Vatican, Aliens, Ahmadinejad, Hillary, Operation Chaos and Bill Shatner, Too - This Post Has It All

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Okay, today was a pretty news-heavy day and there were a lot of things that caught my eye so I'm going to go through a whole bunch of them here...because I want to. So following is a potpourri of things in the news:

Today the BBC reported:

Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the astronomer, Father Gabriel Funes, said intelligent beings created by God could exist in outer space.
Father Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory near Rome, is a respected scientist who collaborates with universities around the world.

The search for forms of extraterrestrial life, he says, does not contradict belief in God.

The official Vatican newspaper headlines his article 'Aliens Are My Brother'.

'Free from sin'

Just as there are multiple forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings in outer space created by God. And some aliens could even be free from original sin, he speculates.

Asked about the Catholic Church's condemnation four centuries ago of the Italian inventor of the telescope, Galileo, Father Funes diplomatically says mistakes were made, but it is time to turn the page and look towards the future.

Science and religion need each other, and many astronomers believe in God, he assures readers.

To strengthen its scientific credentials, the Vatican is organising a conference next year to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the author of the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin.

A year or so ago I researched (its a long story as to why) the topic of the Catholic Church's feelings about aliens. I don't really think this story is news. If I remember right, the Church has been open to the idea of extraterrestrials for some time. I'd really like to see Father Funes' here interviewed in greater detail about what he believes aliens' relationship with God would be? Does he think there are alien counterparts to Jesus? What would creatures "without original sin" be like? It would make for fascinating reading. I think so, anyway.

Rhymes With Right discusses. So does Hot Air

: I'll be dealing with this subject in greater detail tomorrow.

Ahmadinejad says Israel is already gone according to this story:

Tehran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Israel would "be soon swept away" from the Palestinian Territories by the Palestinians. It is the second time within less than three years that the Iranian president predicted the eradication of the Jewish state.

The first time was in 2005 when Ahmadinejad hoped that Israel would be eradicated from the Middle East map.

"This terrorist and criminal state is backed by foreign powers, but this regime would soon be swept away by the Palestinians," Ahmadinejad said in a press conference in Tehran.

Referring to worldwide celebrations for the 60th anniversary of Israel's foundation, he said that "it would be futile to hold a birthday ceremony for something which is already dead."

"As far as the regional countries are concerned, this regime does not exist," Ahmadinejad added.

The Iranian president said last week that the anniversary feasts could not save this "rotten and stinking corpse."

Ahmadinejad caused international outrage in the past by hoping for the eradication of Israel, the relocation of the Jewish state to Europe or Alaska and questioning the historic dimensions of the Holocaust.

And Obama can hardly wait to talk to this guy: no preconditions. I don't foresee any problems. Do you?

Hillary wins BIG! Operations Chaos strikes again!


The Shat is back...Well actually, he never really went away. I don't have any research on this (do you? I'd love to see it.) but it wouldn't surprise me if William Shatner has been on TV more frequently than any other actor. I can't think of anybody who'd be likely competition. He's got a new autobiography (with a co-writer, natch) that is already garnering positive reviews. The cover is below.

Yes, I know he's a ham. Yes, I know his reputation as an ass. Yes, I know...well, all the rest. But, the guy is 77 years old, has more energy than I do, his CD Has Been was brilliant (I swear), Denny Crane is hysterical and he was Captain Kirk, for goodness sake, Captain Kirk! . He can't be all bad.

The book looks to be a fun read.

Stop The ACLU - The Next Generation

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Congrats to Jay (of Stop The ACLU) and his wife on the recent birth of Reagan Dailene Stephenson. She's beautiful...and I love her name!

John McCain's "Base-less" Global Warming Speech

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John McCain had a good day today; no, John McCain had a great day today. He had the kind of day that he likes best, the kind that makes him smile and laugh that "Heh-Heh" laugh of his. McCain gave a speech that he knew would make people like me really unhappy with him.

McCain's speech on global warming, given in a windmill factory in Oregon, spelled out his "cap and trade" plan, which is ostensibly a free market approach to limiting CO2 emissions. Sadly, like most global warming schemes it a feel-good plan masquerading as reasoned policy. National Review Online editorialized against it today and hit on most of its very large flaws:

The Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) estimates that a U.S. cap-and-trade regime like the one discussed in this speech would cause about a one-percent reduction in GDP within five years. In less abstract terms, under that projection, by 2014 something like 1 million people would lose their jobs and the average American family would have about $150 less to spend every month. The costs would ramp up dramatically from there. In short, it would cost a lot. The U.N. IPCC estimates that unconstrained global warming is expected to cause damages equal to about 1-5 percent of global economic output about a century from now. William Nordhaus of Yale has estimated that the net benefit that would be created for the world by a perfectly implemented, globally harmonized carbon tax would be just under 0.2 percent of the present value of future global consumption. That presents a painfully thin margin for error, ignores the fact that costs will be disproportionately borne by the U.S., and does not bear much resemblance to the rhetoric of crisis that Sen. McCain uses in his speech.

It is highly unlikely that we could ever realize this theoretical benefit. Nobody has any realistic plan to get China and India to reduce emissions, and without doing so the costs of cap-and-trade to the U.S. would be dramatically greater than the benefits. Even if we could get the developing world to go along, the theoretical benefits that such a regulatory regime might create would, in the real world, be more than offset by the economic drag that would be created by the side deals required to get China, India, and the U.S. ethanol lobby, among many others, to go along with it.

Well, that's ok because McCain knows just what he'll do in relation to those countries that don't go along: nothing:

The scariest sentence in the speech was: “If the efforts to negotiate an international solution that includes China and India do not succeed, we still have an obligation to act.” This is posturing in the place of thought. It puts us in the worst possible negotiating position, and confirms that Sen. McCain is not engaging practically with the costs and benefits of his own policy. It indicates a foolish willingness to sacrifice trillions of dollars on the altar of fashionable, though uniformed, opinion and political expediency.

This is climate stupidity of Al Gore-ean proportions. It is harmful to the economy, won't accomplish its stated goals and diverts our attention from policies that might be sound.
But this is all about cynical calculation and has little to do with sound policies, anyway. McCain figures if he acts the maverick and annoys people like me, it will attract Independents away from Obama in the general election. Thinking as he does, he sees no way he can lose here. He'll get great press and while it is an extreme policy, Obama's response will attack it as being basically, not extreme enough. McCain figures he can live with that.

Apparently he believes that even though folks like me (and probably you) may throw our slippers at him whenever we see him on TV, on election day we'll still vote for him rather than Obama while at the same time he's attracting enough Independents to win. His calculation has a flaw, of course. Just because we'll never vote for Obama doesn't mean that we will vote for him. If he's going to give the finger to his base he may just find out that the base will give him the finger right back.

He's going to need a whole lot of Independents to make up for our loss.

Also discussing: Hot Air, A Newt One, Gina Cobb

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Definition Of Irony - MSNBC Criticizes Fox News For Hypocrisy -

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In this clip Dan Abrams of MSNBC (DAN ABRAMS OF MSNBC!!!) mocks Fox News for firing a reporter/producer for telling John McCain that she voted for him and knows he's going to win. Abrams says that she obviously forgot that those on Fox are supposed to "pretend" being fair and balanced.


Keith Olbermann call your office!!

Obama You're No Osama Revisited

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Center for Strategic and International Studies fellow, Edward Luttwak has a particularly interesting op-ed in today's NY Times titled "President Apostate" which has garnered a good deal of blogosphere buzz and the thesis of which is best summed up here:

As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.

Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.

His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).
The point is a legitimate one. Of course it is unsurprising that I would find this to be so since it is the same point I made on this blog's second post way back in January as can be seen here. And no I don't think Luttwak somehow found his way into my small corner of the universe and swiped my swell idea. Daniel Pipes raised the idea in an article back in December 2007 as have others. (And no I didn't steal the idea from Pipes or anyone else.) It is a legitimate issue to raise. My thinking on the matter was that although I don't believe that Obama is a Muslim (this emphasis being required so that people don't miss that point, intentionally or otherwise) he may well be perceived as having been one and therefore may now be considered to be an apostate by many Muslims. As I said in the original post:

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.
Luttwak is right in sync with this line of thought:

Because no government is likely to allow the prosecution of a President Obama — not even those of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the only two countries where Islamic religious courts dominate over secular law — another provision of Muslim law is perhaps more relevant: it prohibits punishment for any Muslim who kills any apostate, and effectively prohibits interference with such a killing.

At the very least, that would complicate the security planning of state visits by President Obama to Muslim countries, because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards. More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama’s conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House. This would compromise the ability of governments in Muslim nations to cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism, as well as American efforts to export democracy and human rights abroad.

That an Obama presidency would cause such complications in our dealings with the Islamic world is not likely to be a major factor with American voters, and the implication is not that it should be. But of all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic.
There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a President and many people (granted most of them are Lefties) believe that in electing Obama President they'll be getting someone who is more likely to "get along" with the rest of the world. This belief may turn out to be as misguided as many of the ideas of what an Obama Presidency are likely to be. President Obama could find himself even more loathed abroad than *GASP* GW Bush.

A personal aside: My original post about Obama's perceived apostasy was written before this blog was even a glimmer in my eye. It actually originally ran as a post on To my enormous surprise, within an hour or two of the post being published it was removed and I was banned from Redstate *sniff* never again to be allowed to post there. The actual reaction can be seen here .

When this happened I really didn't know what to think. I didn't think the post was "bigoted" or inappropriate in any other way and yet I was gone. Their actions angered me and made me decide that if I wanted to get my opinions "out there" the best way to do it was to do it myself. Thus Because I'm Right was born. Thank you,

I have to admit to feeling somewhat vindicated by Luttwak's piece and the good deal of attention that it has gotten, including this comment by Lisa Schiffren on NRO:

Andy and Byron, you make excellent points about the Luttwak piece on the possibilities that a former Muslim president will create more ill-will than good among the Islamic nations.
Numerous other bloggers have discussed the issue (there are links to some of them below) I smiled at that. I really did.

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.
BLACKFIVE finds merit in the argument, too.
A Blog For All is also finds sense in the idea.
Ditto for Rhymes With Right

Monday, May 12, 2008

Kidnapped By Japan - Update

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According to The Asahi Shimbum:

Japan to sign parental-abduction treaty


Japan will sign a treaty obliging the government to return to the rightful parent children of broken international marriages who are wrongfully taken and kept in Japan, sources said Friday.

The Justice Ministry will begin work to review current laws with an eye on meeting requirements under the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the sources said. The government plans to conclude the treaty as early as in 2010.

The decision was reached amid criticism against Japan over unauthorized transfer and retention cases involving children. The governments of Canada and the United States have raised the issue with Japan and cited a number of incidents involving their nationals, blasting such acts as tantamount to abductions.

In one case, a Japanese woman who divorced her Canadian husband took their children to Japan for what she said would be a short visit to let the kids see an ailing grandparent. But the woman and her children never returned to Canada.

Once parents return to their home countries with their children, their former spouses are often unable to find their children. In Japan, court rulings and custody orders issued in foreign countries are not recognized.

Under the convention, signatory parties are obliged to set up a "central authority" within their government. The authority works two ways.

It can demand other governments return children unlawfully transferred and retained. But it is also obliged to find the location within its own country of a child unlawfully taken and retained, take measures to prevent the child from being moved out of the country, and support legal procedures to return the child to the rightful parent.

Sources said the Japanese government will likely set up a central authority within the Justice Ministry, which oversees immigration and family registry records. The ministry has decided to work on a new law that will detail the procedures for the children's return.

In 2006, there were about 44,700 marriages between Japanese and foreign nationals in Japan, about 1.5 times the number in 1996. Divorces involving such couples more than doubled from about 8,000 in 1996 to 17,000 in 2006.
While this sounds positive, any optimism must be tempered by the reality of the fact that, although Japan has agreed to sign the Convention, its requirements remain contrary to Japanese custom, calling Japan's commitment into question. Signing the Convention, which at best is still two years off, does not guarantee immediate action. In order for any real action to take place Japan will first need to overhaul significant portions of its family law system. More than that is required though as even modified laws are only as good as the judges and police whose job it will be to enforce the new system and historically they have frequently chosen to ignore mandates with which they disagree. Or as The Japan Times stated,

“Professor Colin Jones of Doshisha University testifies in a recent law journal article, ‘In the Best Interests of the Court: What American Lawyers Need to Know about Child Custody and Visitation in Japan,’ … Japanese courts often act in the ‘best interests of the court’ to protect themselves from becoming irrelevant to society due to their inability to enforce their own orders. This authoritative source ensures that future judges will understand the unique meaning of the ‘best interests of the child’ in Japan and realize that even Japanese court orders are not enforceable, so neither are foreign ones.”
To compound the uncertainty, whatever inroads are made in the current system with the impending signing of the Hague Convention, the case of Paul Wong and his daughter Kaya remains even more problematic than most as it doesn't involve a divorce as do almost all other cases of Japanese child abduction, but involves one parent's death. Although this might logically seem more straightforward, the fact that it is an unusual case may very well place it outside whatever the rules for child custody of which Japan finally decides to abide.

The truly encouraging aspect of this news is that it shows that Japan is susceptible to international pressure and it should act as an impetus for further action to speed Japan along the way to rectifying its inhumane policy of kidnapping foreign children. Therefore the following actions from the original post are even more necessary than before:

This story needs the kind of exposure that will cause the Japanese government to feel the shame that it should. You can help by emailing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi here and Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid here. Let our Congressional leaders know of your awareness of this issue and your belief that it needs to be addressed now so that not another day passes where another American family and its children are torn apart, or in Paul's case, his daughter continues to be ripped away from her sole remaining parent to one day become a ward of the state.

In addition you can email your local newspaper, call local or national radio talk shows and inform them of this injustice.

The Japan Children's Rights Network offers a number of avenues that can be used to spread the word, as well and CRC Japan has a Yahoo group that can be used to help families torn apart by Japan's custodial policies get the word out.

Paul Wong can be reached at where you can leave ideas, notes of encouragement etc.

And finally, if you have a blog please consider posting about this story. The fate of these kidnapped children is now in our hands.

International Family Law News and Analysis is also skeptical

Barack, You're No Dan Quayle [And NO, That's Not A Good Thing]

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So Barack Obama doesn't know how many states are in the United States. Well. Ordinarily I might be willing to cut him a little slack and say that he was tired and misspoke but the Democrats have made very clear that when a Republican says something stupid there can be no explanation except that he is a fool. They've made an entire industry out of cutting no slack for these guys, publishing books of malapropisms and factual gaffes, web site filled with mockery, etc. So I'm sure they would have it no other way than to have their guys judged by the same standards. So, let me say here and now that Barack Obama is a maroon, an ignoramus and a twit. And when thinking of such things I am, of course immediately reminded of the original village idiot, Dan Quayle. Well, I've never thought of Quayle this way (I've always liked and admired Quayle) but the Dems and the media have been working overtime to portray him that way for more than a decade.

This Obama/Quayle confluence got me thinking: how exactly do these two guys stack up against each other? As we've already established using Democrat rules, they're both twits, so the best way to judge them would have to be by seeing how much and what quality experience each has. Hmmm. Let's see, here's a quick look at Quayle:

QUAYLE, James Danforth (Dan), a Representative and a Senator from Indiana and a Vice President of the United States; born in Indianapolis, Marion County, Ind., February 4, 1947; attended the public schools of Phoenix, Ariz., and Huntington, Ind.; graduated, DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind., 1969; graduated, Indiana University, Indianapolis 1974; admitted to the Indiana bar in 1974 and commenced practice in Huntington; served in the Indiana National Guard 1969-1975; associate publisher of the Huntington Herald Press; elected as a Republican to the Ninety-fifth Congress in 1976; reelected to the Ninety-sixth Congress (January 3, 1977-January 3, 1981); was not a candidate in 1980 for reelection to the House of Representatives, but was elected to the United States Senate; reelected in 1986 and served from January 3, 1981, until January 3, 1989, when he resigned to become Vice President of the United States; chairman, Select Committee to Study the Committee System (Ninety-eighth Congress); elected Vice President of the United States in 1988 with President George Herbert Walker Bush and was inaugurated January 20, 1989; unsuccessful candidate for reelection as Vice President in 1992; is a resident of Paradise Valley, Ariz.

Wow. Kind of impressive. But certainly the Obamessiah has a resume that will put Quayle to shame. Let's look here:
OBAMA, Barack, a Senator from Illinois; born in Honolulu, Hawaii, August 4, 1961; obtained early education in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Hawaii; continued education at Occidental College, Los Angeles, Calif.; received a B.A. in 1983 from Columbia University, New York City; worked as a community organizer in Chicago, Ill.; studied law at Harvard University, where he became the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review, and received J.D. in 1991; lecturer on constitutional law, University of Chicago; member, Illinois State senate 1997-2004; elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 2004 for term beginning January 3, 2005.

Huh? Wait a second. How is this possible? Dan Quayle had sixteen years of national-level political experience before he made his aborted run for the Presidency (which was generally mocked)? And Obama has three? Well, obviously Quayle's many years must be empty, petty, partisan years while Obama's shorter time must be filled with accomplishments and "bringing people together. Let's see; first Quayle:

His assignments on the Labor and Human Resources Committee (and its subcommittee, Employment and Productivity, which he has chaired) and on the Senate Armed Services Committee give him perspective on both domestic and foreign policy. Quayle wrote several defense-procurement-reform measures, one of which recommended a Pentagon czar to oversee defense purchasing, a measure later supported by President Reagan's blue-ribbon procurement-reform panelthe Packard commission-and now a reality. Interestingly, Quayle frequently allied himself with Carl Levin, the liberal Democratic senator from Michigan, in trying to eliminate waste and fraud at the Pentagon.

Along with Ted Kennedy, Quayle co-sponsored the 1982 Job Training and Partnership Act (JTPA), which passed not only the Senate but also the House, and which is now law. JTPA replaced the failed make-work Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program in providing work skills to the hard-to-employ.

Quayle was JTPA's prime mover. As he had with Levin, Quayle worked with Kennedy to develop the measure, introduce it, and manage the entire process in collaboration with Reagan's Department of Labor. "He brought them all along-Metzenbaum, Simon, Hatch, Humphrey," says a Hill insider. "Quayle's the only one on that committee who could reach across lines. Hatch has a hard time doing it-I mean, playing honest broker. Likewise Humphrey." Of Quayle's politics, this source adds: "Despite his press image, he's rational, and fairly moderate. No one who's seen Dan Quayle in action classifies him as a hard-core conservative ideologue." In 1982, Quayle was the first senator to introduce a comprehensive tax-reform plan, beating to the punch New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. On environmental issues like soil conservation, the Clean Water Act (he voted to override Reagan's veto), and expansion of wilderness lands, Quayle has been in the vanguard.

In the child-care debate, Representative Tom Tauke (R., Iowa) crafted a consensus conservative alternative to the bill of Senator Chris Dodd (D., Conn.), trying to head off Dodd's massive federal day-care bureaucracy. By no means a pioneer in child care himself, Quayle had the good sense to sponsor the Tauke measure in the Senate. On the basis of this bill, plus the Labor Department's valuable taskforce study (commissioned by the able and prescient Secretary of Labor, Ann McLaughlin), George Bush fashioned a compromise proposal to meet the child-care needs of families where the mothers stay at home, as well as those of families where the mothers work.

Another legislative activity that gives insight into Quayle is his work as ranking Republican on the Labor subcommittee dealing with pensions-that dry-as-dust, extremely complex workforce subject that is both critically important and intolerably boring. Quayle, for example, introduced the Pension Portability Law. "It's not an issue for lightweights," says a ranking Labor Department bureaucrat (not the Secretary). "Quayle is seen as articulate, hard-working, and capable of dealing with very complicated legislative fine print." This month's Pension and Investment Age credits Quayle with an active role in the pension arena, notably in the production of the important 1987 Pension Protection Act.

WHAT HIS 12 years on Capitol Hill tell us about Quayle is that, perhaps more than anything else, he is a deal-cutter. Skilled and pragmatic, Quayle is not unlike Dole in this respect, though he is not quite as smart as Dole. Quayle's father is right when he says, "Dan's quite a salesman." In the Hill context, "negotiator" might be a better word, or "consensus-builder"-which, come to think of it, would put him beyond Dole.

What? Quayle wasn't a "lightweight" and actually worked with Dems to build a consensus? How can this be?

Well if the man most mocked by Dems has this much going for him Obama must just blow Quayle's quality of accomplishment out of the water. Let's take a look:

Hillary Clinton has been trying to make a point about Barack Obama that deserves one last careful look before Tuesday's probably decisive Democratic primaries: If Obama truly intends to unite America across party lines and break the Washington logjam, then why has he shown so little interest or aptitude for the hard work of bipartisan government?

This is the real "where's the beef?" question about Obama, and it still doesn't have a good answer. He gives a great speech, and he promises that he can heal the terrible partisan divisions that have enfeebled American politics over the past decade. And this is a message of hope that the country clearly wants to hear.

But can he do it? The record is mixed, but it's fair to say that Obama has not shown much willingness to take risks or make enemies to try to restore a working center in Washington. Clinton, for all her reputation as a divisive figure, has a much stronger record of bipartisan achievement. And the likely Republican nominee, John McCain, has a better record still.

Obama's argument is that he can mobilize a new coalition that will embrace his proclamation that "yes, we can" break out of the straitjacket. But for voters to feel confident that he can achieve this transformation should he become president, they would need evidence that he has fought and won similar battles in the past. The record here, to put it mildly, is thin.

What I hear from politicians who have worked with Obama, both in Illinois state politics and here in Washington, gives me pause. They describe someone with an extraordinary ability to work across racial lines, but not someone who has earned any profiles in courage for standing up to special interests or divisive party activists. Indeed, the trait people remember best about Obama, in addition to his intellect, is his ambition.

Obama worked on some bipartisan issues, such as a state version of the earned-income tax credit, after he was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996. But he also gained a reputation for skipping tough votes. The most famous example was a key gun-control vote that he missed in December 1999 because he was vacationing in Hawaii. The Chicago Tribune blasted him and several other vote-skippers as "gutless." One Chicago pol says that "the myth developed that when there was a tough vote, he was gone."

Obama's brash self-confidence led him into his only big political blunder. Prodded by the Daley machine, he challenged Bobby Rush, an incumbent Democratic congressman and former Black Panther, in 2000. Rush pounded Obama by more than 2-1in the primary. "He was blinded by his ambition," Rush told The New York Times last year.

Obama has been running for president almost since he arrived in the U.S. Senate in 2005, so his Senate colleagues say it's hard to evaluate his record. But what stands out in his brief Senate career is his liberal voting record, not a history of fighting across party lines to get legislation passed. He wasn't part of the 2005 "Gang of 14" bipartisan coalition that sought to break the logjam on judicial nominations, but neither were Clinton or other prominent Democrats. He did support the bipartisan effort to get an immigration bill last year, winning a plaudit from McCain. But he didn't work closely with the White House, as did Sen. Edward Kennedy.

What? Obama is a village idiot whose record doesn't stand out for its brilliance,

But what stands out in his brief Senate career is his liberal voting record, not a history of fighting across party lines to get legislation passed.

? How can this be? By looking at the record it is obvious that Dan Quayle (Dan Quayle??) was and is a more accomplished legislator and was more likely to have made a better President than Barack Obama ever will.

Wow. Wait till the media finds out. Boy, I bet they'll really tear Obama apart. Right?