12/19/2007

Season's Greetings

To All My Democrat Friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great.

Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.


And to My Republican Friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

11/16/2007

Muslims Enforce Slave Status of Women in Rape Case

In Saudi Arabia men are men, and women are property. Justice is a foreign concept to these backward, barbaric people.


From the BBC:

Saudi gang rape sentence 'unjust'

A lawyer for a gang-rape victim in Saudi Arabia who was sentenced to 200 lashes and six-months in jail says the punishment contravenes Islamic law.

The woman was initially punished for violating laws on segregation of the sexes - she was in an unrelated man's car at the time of the attack.

When she appealed, judges doubled her sentence, saying she had been trying to use the media to influence them.

Her lawyer has been suspended from the case and faces a disciplinary session.

Abdel Rahman al-Lahem told the BBC Arabic Service that the sentence was in violation of Islamic law:

"My client is the victim of this abhorrent crime. I believe her sentence contravenes the Islamic Sharia law and violates the pertinent international conventions," he said.

"The judicial bodies should have dealt with this girl as the victim rather than the culprit."

The lawyer also said that his client his will appeal against the decision to increase her punishment.

Segregation laws

According to the Arab News newspaper, the 19-year-old woman, who is from Saudi Arabia's Shia minority, was gang-raped 14 times in an attack in Qatif in the eastern province a year-and-a-half ago.

Seven men from the majority Sunni community were found guilty of the rape and sentenced to prison terms ranging from just under a year to five years.

The rapists' sentences were also doubled by the court. Correspondents say the sentences were still low considering the rapists could have faced the death penalty.

The rape victim was punished for violating Saudi Arabia's laws on segregation that forbid unrelated men and women from associating with each other. She was initially sentenced to 90 lashes for being in the car of a strange man.

On appeal, the Arab News reported that the punishment was not reduced but increased to 200 lashes and a six-month prison sentence.

'Personal views'

Mr Lahem accused the court of letting personal views influence its decision:

"It seems that the sentence was influenced by the fact that the woman escalated the issue with her lawyer and also with the supreme judicial authorities," he said.

"This is astonishing because justice is supposed to be independent from all pressures as well as personal considerations, be it a feeling towards the lawyer or defendant herself," he added.

The Arab News quoted an official as saying the judges had decided to punish the girl for trying to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.

Mr Lahem said that the judges' decision to confiscate his license to work and stop him from representing his client is illegal.

11/09/2007

Lieberman Agrees: Democrat Politicians are Paranoid Assholes

"But there is something profoundly wrong—something that should trouble all of us—when we have elected Democratic officials who seem more worried about how the Bush administration might respond to Iran’s murder of our troops, than about the fact that Iran is murdering our troops. "
- Senator Joe Lieberman, Nov 9, 2007



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 2007
Contact: Marshall Wittmann


Lieberman Delivers Major Address on "The Politics of National Security"




WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, November 8, 2007, Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) addressed a Center for Politics and Foreign Relations/Financial Times breakfast at The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. The subject of Senator Lieberman’s talk was “The Politics of National Security,” in which he spoke about the future of the Democratic Party and its response to the threat of Iran.



In the address, Senator Lieberman stated, “Since retaking Congress in November 2006, the top foreign policy priority of the Democratic Party has not been to expand the size of our military for the war on terror or to strengthen our democracy promotion efforts in the Middle East or to prevail in Afghanistan. It has been to pull our troops out of Iraq, to abandon the democratically-elected government there, and to hand a defeat to President Bush.




“Iraq has become the singular litmus test for Democratic candidates. No Democratic presidential primary candidate today speaks of America’s moral or strategic responsibility to stand with the Iraqi people against the totalitarian forces of radical Islam, or of the consequences of handing a victory in Iraq to al Qaeda and Iran. And if they did, their campaign would be as unsuccessful as mine was in 2006. Even as evidence has mounted that General Petraeus’ new counterinsurgency strategy is succeeding, Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving, or even that that progress has enabled us to begin drawing down our troops there.”



Senator Lieberman also indicated, “…there is something profoundly wrong—something that should trouble all of us—when we have elected Democratic officials who seem more worried about how the Bush administration might respond to Iran’s murder of our troops, than about the fact that Iran is murdering our troops.



There is likewise something profoundly wrong when we see candidates who are willing to pander to this politically paranoid, hyper-partisan sentiment in the Democratic base—even if it sends a message of weakness and division to the Iranian regime.”



Below is the full text of his remarks, as prepared for delivery:




“Thank you so much, Bob, for that kind introduction. It is a pleasure to be here this morning at the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.



SAIS bears the name of a great American statesman and strategist. Paul Nitze served in six presidential administrations, from the outbreak of World War II through the twilight of the Cold War. As the principal author of NSC-68, he quite literally wrote the road map that guided America to victory in our long struggle against the Soviet Union.



Nitze is a figure of particular resonance for me, and his career provides an ideal starting place for the subject of my talk today—the politics of national security.



As many of you know, Paul Nitze was a Democrat, but he worked for Republican presidents as well as Democratic ones. He did so because he understood that, whatever domestic political differences divide us, they must never blind us to the far more profound national security challenges we face together from abroad.



Throughout his long career, Nitze put country before party, policy before politics. Although he was a Democrat, he did not look to the Democratic Party to tell him how or what to think about foreign policy.



The foreign policy convictions that animated Nitze, it so happened, were also the convictions that animated the Democratic Party from the 1940s through the early 1960s. Confronted by the totalitarian threats first of fascism and then of communism, Democrats under Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy forged a foreign policy that was simultaneously principled, internationalist, and tough-minded.



This was the Democratic Party I grew up in—a party that was unafraid to make moral judgments about the world beyond our borders, to draw a clear line between what Nitze in NSC-68 called “the free world” of the West and the “slave society” behind the Iron Curtain. It was a party that grasped the inextricable link between the survival of freedom abroad and the survival of freedom at home—that recognized, as Nitze wrote, that “the idea of freedom is the most contagious idea in the world.” And it was also a party that understood that a progressive society must be ready and willing to use its military power in defense of its progressive ideals, in order to ensure that those progressive ideals survived.



This was the worldview captured by President Kennedy, when he pledged in his inaugural address that the United States would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”



That Democratic foreign policy tradition—the tradition of Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy—collapsed just a few years later, in the trauma of Vietnam. And in its place, a very different worldview took root in the Democratic Party.



Reflexively skeptical about America’s authority to make moral judgments about the rest of the world, inclined to see the planet’s leading problems as more often the result of American involvement than American disengagement, and viscerally opposed to the use of military force, this rival worldview was in many respects the polar opposite of the self-confident and idealistic internationalism that had, just a few years earlier, animated the Democratic Party under President Kennedy.



Nitze was among those who courageously fought against this turn in the Democratic Party. He was a critic of the anti-war, isolationist candidacy of George McGovern in 1972 and later broke with Jimmy Carter over his arms control policy, which Nitze felt was weak and misguided. With Eugene Rostow, Nitze reestablished the Committee on the Present Danger, to keep alive the principled, internationalist, and muscular foreign policy tradition that had once lay at the heart of the Democratic Party.



Throughout this period, although Nitze remained a Democrat, he did not hesitate to challenge Democrats with whom he disagreed, or to work with Republicans with whom he agreed. One of the Republicans that Nitze came to support, in fact, was Ronald Reagan, himself a former Democrat, who welcomed Nitze to his foreign policy team after winning the presidency in 1980.



Reagan was the last president Nitze would serve, but in the proud legacy he has left, Nitze offers us important lessons for our own time about the politics of national security.



I arrived in Washington, D.C., as a first-term Senator in January 1989, just as Paul Nitze was departing government to return to his office here at SAIS. As I began to make foreign policy decisions in the Senate, I found myself drawn to the Democratic tradition of my youth—the morally self-confident, internationalist, and muscular tradition of Truman and Kennedy, whose inaugural address had inspired me to be a Democrat in the first place.



By the late 1980s, that tradition had been out of fashion in Democratic circles for twenty years. But then, Democrats had also been out of power for most of those twenty years—something that struck me and many others as more than coincidental. Simply put, the American people didn’t trust Democrats to keep them safe, and the McGovernite legacy was a big reason why.



By 1989, historic changes were taking place in the world that made the strong, self-confident foreign policy that linked Democrats like Truman and Kennedy to Republicans like Reagan look increasingly justified. Although too many Democrats had grown accustomed to criticizing Reagan’s approach to the Cold War as simplistic and dangerous, now the Soviet Union was imploding—economically and ideologically.



The collapse of communism emboldened those of us who felt that the McGovernite legacy had been a disastrous detour for the Democratic Party, and that it was time to reclaim our own lost tradition of strength abroad.



Then in 1991, America’s stunning victory in the first Gulf War presented anti-war Democrats with graphic proof of why their reflexive opposition to the use of military force was substantively wrong and probably politically wrong too.



It was not until the Clinton-Gore administration, however, that a tectonic shift really began inside the Democratic Party about foreign policy. In particular in the Balkans, as President Clinton and his advisers slowly came to recognize that American intervention, and only American intervention, could stop Slobodan Milosevic—Democratic attitudes about the use of military power began to change.



Ironically, just as Democrats in the White House were growing more comfortable with the idea of an interventionist foreign policy, Republicans in Congress were moving in the opposite direction. In the absence of the Soviet Union, Republicans in the 1990s too often defined their own foreign policy vision as instinctive opposition to whatever President Clinton was doing in the world.



It is worth remembering, however, that some Republicans rose above this partisan reflex. Senator John McCain and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole courageously championed our intervention in the Balkans, without regard to domestic politics. But many others didn’t—and by the time of the 2000 presidential contest, it was the Democratic Party that was the more hawkish and internationalist, not the Republicans.



And in the 2000 campaign, it was Vice President Gore, who championed a values-based foreign policy, confident of America’s moral responsibilities in the world, and unafraid to use our military power. He promised $50 billion more in new defense spending than his Republican opponent—and, to the dismay of the party’s left, made sure that the Democratic Party’s platform that year endorsed a national missile defense.



Incidentally, he also chose a hawkish Democratic senator from Connecticut as his running mate.



Governor Bush, by contrast, campaigned for the presidency promising a “humble foreign policy,” criticizing the peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo. He signaled his intention to appoint as his secretary of state a retired general, who had counseled against military intervention both in Iraq and in Bosnia. One of his top foreign policy advisers warned that “America’s armed forces are not a global police force”—a line that another prominent Republican noted was “closer to the spirit of George McGovern than Ronald Reagan.”



In the politics of national security, it seemed, Democrats and Republicans had traded places.



Certainly no one listening to George W. Bush in the fall of 2000 could have imagined that, scarcely four years later, this same man would stand on the west front of the Capitol building and pledge, in his second inaugural address, that “it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in the world.”



Indeed, as Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis has written, it is easy to imagine these words being spoken by Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman or John F. Kennedy or Bill Clinton. But it was George W. Bush, who—in the aftermath of September 11—responded to the attacks with a national security strategy not of isolationism or realpolitik—but by drawing on the same morally self-confident, internationalist, and muscular foreign policy tradition he had once scorned.



In particular, President Bush defined the nature of this new conflict in quintessentially liberal terms—as a struggle for freedom against tyranny. Like the Cold War, he described the war on terror as ultimately “between two fundamentally different visions of humanity.” On the one side of this struggle are the Islamist extremists who “promise paradise, but deliver a life of public beheadings and repression of women and suicide bombings.” And on the other side, “are huge numbers of moderate men and women…” in the Muslim world, who believe that “every life has dignity and value that no power on Earth can take away.”



That is why, to defeat radical Islam, President Bush has repeatedly argued that we must simultaneously fight—and fight hard—to uproot their networks, while offering our own, more powerful vision of the future, based on the universal values of freedom and justice and opportunity.



In this regard, the Bush administration’s post-9/11 ideological conversion confronted Democrats with an awkward choice. Should we welcome the President’s foreign policy flip-flop? Or should Democrats match it with a flip-flop of our own?



Between 2002 and 2006, there was a battle within the Democratic Party over just how to answer this question—a battle I was part of.



I felt strongly that Democrats should embrace the basic framework that the President articulated for the war on terror as our own—because it was our own. It was our legacy from Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Clinton.



We could rightly criticize the Bush administration when it failed to live up to its own rhetoric, or when it bungled the execution of its policies. But I felt that we should not minimize the seriousness of the threat from Islamist extremism, or the fundamental rightness of the muscular, internationalist, and morally self-confident response that President Bush had chosen in response to it.



But that was not the choice most Democrats made. Instead, they flip-flopped.



It did not happen all at once. In the weeks and months after September 11, Democrats and Republicans put aside our partisan divisions and stood united as Americans. As late as October 2002, a Democratic-controlled Senate voted by a wide bipartisan margin to authorize President Bush to use military force against Saddam Hussein.



As the Iraq war became bogged down in a long and costly insurgency, however, and as President Bush’s approval ratings slipped, Democrats moved in a very different direction—first in the presidential campaign of 2004, where antiwar forces played a decisive role in the Democratic primaries. As you may recall, they also prevailed in Connecticut’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary last year.



Since retaking Congress in November 2006, the top foreign policy priority of the Democratic Party has not been to expand the size of our military for the war on terror or to strengthen our democracy promotion efforts in the Middle East or to prevail in Afghanistan. It has been to pull our troops out of Iraq, to abandon the democratically-elected government there, and to hand a defeat to President Bush.



Iraq has become the singular litmus test for Democratic candidates. No Democratic presidential primary candidate today speaks of America’s moral or strategic responsibility to stand with the Iraqi people against the totalitarian forces of radical Islam, or of the consequences of handing a victory in Iraq to al Qaeda and Iran. And if they did, their campaign would be as unsuccessful as mine was in 2006. Even as evidence has mounted that General Petraeus’ new counterinsurgency strategy is succeeding, Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving, or even that that progress has enabled us to begin drawing down our troops there.



Part of the explanation for this, I think, comes back to ideology. For all of our efforts in the 1990s to rehabilitate a strong Democratic foreign policy tradition, anti-war sentiment remains the dominant galvanizing force among a significant segment of the Democratic base.



But another reason for the Democratic flip-flop on foreign policy over the past few years is less substantive. For many Democrats, the guiding conviction in foreign policy isn’t pacifism or isolationism—it is distrust and disdain of Republicans in general, and President Bush in particular.



In this regard, the Democratic foreign policy worldview has become defined by the same reflexive, blind opposition to the President that defined Republicans in the 1990s – even when it means repudiating the very principles and policies that Democrats as a party have stood for, at our best and strongest.



To illustrate my point, I want to talk about a controversy in the current Democratic presidential primaries, in which I have played an unintended part.



I offered an amendment earlier this fall, together with Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, urging the Bush administration to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and impose economic sanctions on them.



The reason for our amendment was clear. In September, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker testified before Congress about the proxy war that Iran—and in particular, the IRGC and its Quds Force subsidiary—has been waging against our troops in Iraq. Specifically, General Petraeus told us that the IRGC Quds Force has been training, funding, equipping, arming, and in some cases directing Shiite extremists who are responsible for the murder of hundreds of American soldiers.



This charge had been corroborated by other sources, including the most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, the independent assessment of the Iraqi Security Forces led by General Jim Jones, as well as the on-the-ground reports of our division commanders in Iraq.



It was also consistent with nearly three decades of experience with the IRGC, which has been implicated in a range of terrorist attacks against the United States and our allies—long before the invasion of Iraq.



In light of this evidence, Senator Kyl and I thought that calling for the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization was a no brainer. Rather than punishing Iranians indiscriminately, it would apply a set of targeted economic sanctions against the part of the Iranian regime that was responsible for the murder of our troops in Iraq.



One big reason Kyl and I thought that calling for the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization would be politically uncontroversial was because a bipartisan group of 68 senators, including several of the Democratic presidential candidates, had already signed onto a piece of legislation introduced earlier in the year that asked for the IRGC’s designation along exactly the same lines as our amendment. Whatever the differences or disagreements on foreign policy or even on Iran, I assumed that tougher, targeted economic sanctions against the IRGC were something that we could all agree on.



I was wrong.



What happened instead is a case study in the distrust and partisan polarization that now poisons our body politic on even the most sensitive issues of national security.



First, several left-wing blogs seized upon the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, offering wild conspiracy theories about how it could be used to authorize the use of military force against Iran.



These were absurd arguments. The text of our amendment contained nothing—nothing—that could be construed as a green light for an attack on Iran. To claim that it did was an act of delusion or deception.



On the contrary, by calling for tougher sanctions on Iran, the intention of our amendment was to offer an alternative to war.



Nonetheless, the conspiracy theories started to spread. Although the Senate passed our amendment, 76-22, several Democrats, including some of the Democratic presidential candidates, soon began attacking it—and Senator Clinton, who voted for the amendment. In fact, some of the very same Democrats who had cosponsored the legislation in the spring, urging the designation of the IRGC, began denouncing our amendment for doing the exact same thing.



The problem with the Kyl-Lieberman amendment of course had little to do with its substance, and a lot to do with politics.



I asked some of my Senate colleagues who voted against our amendment: “Do you believe the evidence the military has given us about the IRGC sponsoring these attacks on our troops?” Yes, they invariably said.



“Don’t you support tougher economic sanctions against Iran?” I asked. Again, yes—no question.



So what’s the problem, I asked.



“It’s simple,” they said. “We don’t trust Bush. He’ll use this resolution as an excuse for war against Iran.”



I understand that President Bush is a divisive figure. I recognize the distrust that many Americans feel toward his administration. I recognize the anger and outrage that exists out there about the war in Iraq.



But there is something profoundly wrong—something that should trouble all of us—when we have elected Democratic officials who seem more worried about how the Bush administration might respond to Iran’s murder of our troops, than about the fact that Iran is murdering our troops.



There is likewise something profoundly wrong when we see candidates who are willing to pander to this politically paranoid, hyper-partisan sentiment in the Democratic base—even if it sends a message of weakness and division to the Iranian regime.



For me, this episode reinforces how far the Democratic Party of 2007 has strayed from the Democratic Party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and the Clinton-Gore administration.



That is why I call myself an Independent Democrat today. It is because my foreign policy convictions are the convictions that have traditionally animated the Democratic Party—but they exist in me today independent of the current Democratic Party, which has largely repudiated them.



I hope that Democrats will one day again rediscover and re-embrace these principles, which were at the heart of our party as recently as 2000. But regardless of when or if that happens, those convictions will continue to be mine. And I will continue to fight to advance them along with like-minded Democrats and like-minded Republicans.



Some of you in this room are students at the beginning of what will be long and distinguished careers in public policy and public service. Chances are, you already have formed some strong convictions about American foreign policy, and for that reason, identify more with one party than the other.



But as you consider your future, I ask you to reflect for a moment on the past, and the dramatic shifts that I have described in the foreign policy orthodoxy of Democrats and Republicans alike over the past sixty years.



These shifts are almost certain to continue to occur. Just as the foreign policy convictions of the Democratic Party of 2008 are very different from those of the Democratic Party of 2000, so too will the Democratic Party of 2016 and 2028 look very different from the Democratic Party of today.



I ask that as future practitioners of foreign policy, you do not become so wedded to a party that you are unwilling to diverge from it, when your convictions diverge from it. Let your views about national security determine your politics, rather than the other way around.



If you choose to identify as a Democrat or a Republican, in other words, I encourage each of you to be independent Democrats and independent Republicans.



It may mean that you belong to a smaller and, at times, lonelier caucus. You may even find yourself on the losing end of an election or two. But far more important, you will not lose your convictions about what you believe is best for the security of our great country—and that, as Paul Nitze understood, is what matters most.



Thank you so much.”

Pious Muslims Murder School Children

59 schoolchildren killed in Afghan blast

(The "Religion of Peace" strikes again. Thank Allah for the peaceful ways he has taught his devout followers.)

By FISNIK ABRASHI, Associated Press Writer

KABUL, Afghanistan - Dozens of schoolchildren and five teachers were among those killed in a suicide attack in northern Afghanistan earlier this week — the country's deadliest since the fall of the Taliban — the government said Friday.

The 59 schoolchildren had lined up to greet a group of lawmakers visiting a sugar factory in the northern province of Baghlan on Tuesday when a suicide bomber detonated explosives.

"The education minister has ordered that no children should be ever again be used in these sort of events," said Zahoor Afghan, an Education Ministry spokesman. He said the children ranged in age from 8 to 18.

In all, the explosion claimed the lives at least 75 people, including several parliamentarians, and wounded 96. It was the deadliest attack in the country since the toppling of Taliban regime from power in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared three days of mourning Wednesday and ordered an investigation. No group has claimed responsibility, and the Taliban denied any involvement.

Also Friday, NATO and Afghan troops battled Taliban fighters near Gulistan district in western Farah province. The soldiers seized the district center, killing up to 20 suspected militants who overran it last week, said Gen. Abdul Rahman Sarjang, the provincial police chief.

On Thursday, U.S.-led coalition and Afghan troops surrounded a compound where militants had gathered near Tirin Kot, in Uruzgan province, sparking a clash which left seven suspected Taliban fighters dead, said Juma Gul Hamat, the provincial police chief. Four militants were detained, he said.

There were no casualties among coalition and Afghan forces, Hamat said.

In southern Zabul province, Taliban militants on motorbikes ambushed and killed Shahjoy's district chief and two bodyguards as they were shopping on Thursday, said Mohammad Rasool Khan, a district police chief.

Coalition and Afghan troops, meanwhile, came under fire from Taliban insurgents in southern Helmand province's Nahr Surk district on Wednesday, a coalition statement said.

"The combined force immediately engaged the Taliban fighters with small-arms fire and close air support, killing many of the insurgents before they fled the area," it said.

Violence in Afghanistan this year has been the deadliest since the Taliban's ouster. More than 5,700 people, mostly militants, have died so far this year in insurgency-related violence, according to an Associated Press count based on figures from Afghan and Western officials.

Separately, a British soldier was killed Friday in a vehicle accident in Afghanistan, the British Ministry of Defense said.

Associated Press writer Amir Shah in Kabul and Noor Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.

10/16/2007

Americans at War

US Army taking care of business:




Not smart to shoot at United States Marines:




The US Air Force is not slacking either:

10/15/2007

Muslims Still Murdering Their Daughters and Sisters

Thank Allah for the civilizing influence of Islam. Otherwise, who knows what else these people might do?


Honour crime fear of Syria women
By Lina Sinjab
BBC News, Damascus


Seventeen-year-old Bushra is too scared to give her real name. She talks in a low, trembling voice, her face full of fear.
"They want to shed my blood, they want to kill me," she says, as she recounts how she escaped being murdered by members of her own family in a so-called "honour killing".
A Sunni Muslim, she had fallen in love with Fadel, from Syria's Alawite Muslim minority. He went to her family to ask for her hand in marriage, but he was rejected.
The family said Bushra must marry her cousin. But on their wedding day, she ran away with the man she loved and family members began to hunt her down, to "erase the dishonour" she had caused.
Bushra's story is not an exceptional one in Syria, where women's organisations estimate more than 200 women are murdered every year by brothers, cousins or fathers.
But she is one of the lucky ones. Bushra was arrested after her family reported her to the police, and taken into custody.
The juvenile centre where now lives gives her some protection, but her freedom of movement is severely limited.
'Rehabilitation'
The Syrian authorities are trying to crack down on the practice of "honour killing", and they have widespread support.
About 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for an end to the practice, in a campaign backed by senior Muslim officials.
Although Bushra has been in contact with the family, her eldest sister told her not to come back unless she married her cousin.
"She said: 'Even if you do (get married), hide for two or three months until things calm down. But don't come now, the family will definitely kill you'," Bushra tells me.
So she waits at the centre run by the National Organisation for the Development of Women (NODW) and the interior ministry, whose aim is to rehabilitate the girls and get them ready for a new life.
Many of them are serving sentences for vagrancy, prostitution, begging or running away.
But when they leave, they are still at risk, as the case of 16-year-old Zahra al-Ezzo tragically showed.
Zahra was kidnapped and raped by a family friend. The family reported the incident to the police and three days later the kidnapper, Taiseer Muhanna, was arrested and Zahra was freed.
He was sent into jail and she was brought to the juvenile centre, where she remained for 10 months until her family had her released after arranging that she marry her cousin.
One month later, Zahra's brother Fayez paid the young couple a visit. On the third morning of his stay, he murdered her while she was asleep.
"Zahra was a victim at the beginning and a victim at the end," says NODW head Rania al-Jabiri.
Her organisation is campaigning along with other groups for a change in the law. They have prepared a draft law which has been passed to parliament.
"We cannot do everything. We need the whole society with us to change this idea. It takes time and a change in mentality," she says.
It is an issue for all communities - Christian, Muslim and Druze - says Daed Musa, a lawyer and women's rights activist
"The laws are old and go back to the 1940s. No woman can feel safe under the current legislation."
Murders considered to have been in defence of honour are not considered a "crime" under Syrian law, but an "offence". It carries a maximum penalty of a year's imprisonment, but could be reduced to a month by a judge.
Some families entrust the task of erasing dishonour to a juvenile, further reducing the penalty.
Cultural change
After Zahra's death, the NODW renewed the campaign, circulating the petition and mobilising religious clerics to denounce the killing.
Syria's top Sunni cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Hassoun, rejects any suggestion that "honour crime" is sanctioned by Islam.
He explains that Islamic law requires four witnesses for the crime of adultery - an almost impossibly high burden of proof, which means in effect that no-one can be found guilty of it.
The mufti believes, however, that the starting point should be in education and tolerance especially with religious preachers.
"It is difficult to change laws that people are used to it and considered it as Sharia. In many cases, it is traditions rather than laws," he says.
"What we need is to educate people and spread awareness among the society. The problem is when you have people preaching at mosques and don't have a profound knowledge on Islam."
No women can be protected of an act of killing unless legal changes are introduced. This will take political will to actually happen. Until then, women in Syria will still be at risk.

Monument to Gullibility Completed

The world's fourth largest church is built at the shrine of Fatima in Portugal.

This is where the Virgin Mary appeared to three children in 1917.

Children can be forgiven for believing in magic, but how ignorant and gullible does one have to be to believe as an adult?

Oh, yeah. I forgot. I guess most adults are that ignorant and gullible. Just look at all the churches and religions in the world. And don't even get me started about the casinos.

Turks: Stupider Than Ever

Here is the article. I will add emphasis and comments as needed.


US Armenian vote: Readers' views Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Washington after a US congressional committee voted to recognise the mass killing of Armenians during World War I as genocide. Turkey denies claims it was genocide, while Armenia has welcomed the vote. Here, readers from Armenia and Turkey discuss the resolution, which has rekindled a heated and long-running debate.

CAVDET CANER, ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Labelling this as genocide is wrong. [Yeah, Cavdet. They only raped, murdered, and starved one and a half million christians. It must have been a local incident.] Genocide happens when one side is superior to the other.
But illegal acts were carried out against us too. [You mean some of them fought back? But that was illegal! They should ALL be killed!]
Does anyone know or realise how many Turks were killed by Armenians at that time? [Why don't you tell us? Whatever it was certainly must have justified murdering all those innocents.]
Yes, Turkey killed some Armenians, but it was not an orchestrated act. [What did you smoke for breakfast?] That kind of an operation would have needed force which we didn't have. [So you are saying that it did not even happen? So where are all of these millions of Armenians? Are you hiding them?]
It was a consequence of war. [It was an opportunity to murder millions without having to deal with international condemnation of the crime.]
Armenians and other nations are always talking about the dead and the past. [How dare they remember their grandparents and cousins! They deserved to die!] We have lost many people too but we do not dwell on it. [Let's not dwell on unpleasant things.]
What I am trying to say is that we are not the bad ones. [Right, you are the good guys. All we have to do is ask you.]

ARMEN ASRYAN, YEREVAN, ARMENIA

As an Armenian, I feel deep respect towards the US lawmakers who passed this resolution, in spite of White House lobbying.
There is a human tragedy that has to be acknowledged, 90 years later. I salute the bravery of people who voted for it.
Three of my great-grandparents were survivors of the genocide. They fled from what is now Eastern Turkey.
Being children, they were separated from their families and placed in an orphanage founded by American missionaries in what is now Gyumri in Armenia.
I have heard the stories since I was a child, and although I don't have any negative feelings towards the current Turkish state, a bitter feeling of betrayal has remained.
There has always been a need for the world and the Turkish government to at least recognise that those killings were indeed genocide.
Now that has been achieved.

ASUMAN YILDIRIM, ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Does the US Congress think Turks are stupid? [I doubt it. But I think Turks are stupid.]
They pass such a bill, then say the American government is not against the Turkish government and that good relations will be maintained with Turkey.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said the vote was unacceptable They don't know the Turks. [They will kill you and everyone else in your pathetic dirty kuffar country if you don't take it all back.]
I condemn a committee which appears to have bowed to pressure from Armenian religious leaders.
I don't think the US should have the right to vote on other nations' problems or condemn a nation for what happened 90 years ago. [We should have just ignored what the Nazis did too, right? Jews and Armenians just can't take a joke. Lighten up!]
Armenians killed Turks and Kurds, and Turks and Kurds killed Armenians.
It was a war. Things like that happen in wartime. [Exactly. Genocide happens in wartime.]

AVADIS JANIACHIAN, YEREVAN, ARMENIA

The genocide is a fact that cannot be denied. [Sure it can. Just read what the Turks are saying.]
It was planned and conducted very coolly under the nose of, and probably with the approval of, Europe in 1915. [Actually, Britain protested against it, and even Germany did. Imagine that: Germans thought it was bad.]
Armenians have welcomed the decision. What is surprising now is to see that the most powerful nation in the world got scared by Turkey, after its lawmakers took this decision.
France made the same judgement with dignity and honour.
Turkey was allied initially in both world wars with Germany and played its role quite dexterously, changing sides. [Yeah, they switched just as soon as it was apparent that Germany was going to lose. Very dexterous.]
It will be interesting to see if that will happen again as a result of this ruling.

ONDER TAHINLI, ANKARA, TURKEY

The decision of the US Congress is unacceptable, unjust and unfair. [Unjust? Unfair? Rape, enslavement, starvation and murder are unjust and unfair.]
US lawmakers do not have the right to judge a historical case. [Actually, they do.]
I condemn Armenia for its attempt to blackmail Turkey and try to promote a false image of this country and what happened in the past.
Armenia is, after all, a problematic country itself in the region. [That means the genocide didn't happen.]
It has already - with the help of Russian forces - invaded 20% of Azeri land and forced millions of Azeris to leave their homeland. [So we were right to murder them all.]

ARTUR, YEREVAN, ARMENIA

The US Congress ruling could create real political tensions not only for Armenia and the wider region, but also for the US.
I think that this discussion should be halted.
It could really hurt the many thousands of Armenian people who live and work in Turkey. [They might start killing Armenians again. That will prove that they never killed Armenians.]
The US recognition of genocide may seem beneficial for Armenia, but we don't need conflict with Turkey.
The two countries would do better to leave this topic to the historians and focus on improving relations between neighbours. [Historians agree: it was Genocide.]
This kind of issue can do a lot of harm and has the potential to destroy political and economic relations.

10/13/2007

New York Times Reveals its Disdain for Black Citizens

The NY Times article, entitled "A Clinton-Obama Quandary for Many Black Women", published today, 10/13/07, features quotes from many ignorant and ill-informed black women. To me, this is a subtle form of racism, because instead of featuring educated, articulate black women, of which there are plenty, they instead choose to highlight the stereotype of black women who don't know what they are talking about.

Everyone knows that ignorant people abound, and finding one or many is as easy as walking down to your nearest barber shop, or hairdresser. Why did the NY Times reporter choose to talk to black women at the beauty parlor instead of, for example, the university, or at restaurants where lawyers and business people meet?

No, the NY Times likes to portray blacks as stupid, uneducated, ignorant, illogical, and incapable of rational, independent thought or analysis. They also never portray blacks with opinions that differ from the NY Times party line, even though there is a broad diversity of opinion among black americans. In case you never knew, there are even conservative and Republican black Americans. The propagandists at the NY Times do this while trying to think of themselves as supportive of the cause of black america.

That's enough of my rant for now. I will conclude with quotes from the article, which highlight the ignorance of the opinions solicited.

Regarding Obama, one woman said:
“I fear that they just would kill him, that he wouldn’t even have a chance...”
She suggests that one way to protect Obama would be to not vote for him.

About Hillary:
“We always love Hillary because we love her husband...”
Now that is certainly a great reason to vote for Hillary.

Spouting and embracing religious nonsense, this was reported in the article:
“A man is supposed to be the head, ... I feel like the Lord has put man first, and I believe in the Bible.”


Vanessa Gerald, 38, a stylist at Carrie’s Magic Touch, a salon around the corner from Miss Clara’s, said she was torn because Mr. Obama was “trying to help his people, which Hillary is too.” Ms. Gerald said she would “have to go with my faith” in making her final decision but was thrilled to have such a choice.
“This is history here,” she said, puckering up a client’s hair. “On both sides. Either way, it’s history. So let’s see what history going to bring in.”


Yeah, let's see what "history going to bring in".

10/12/2007

1914 - 1918: Global Jihad Begins in Turkey

The Armenian Genocide, carried out by the MUSLIM GOVERNMENT of the Ottoman Empire, was not just a racial genocide. Armenians were targeted because they were CHRISTIAN, not because they were Armenian.

The massacres of tens of thousands of men, women, and children at a time, the forced deportations, the brutal rape of hundreds of thousands of Armenian women and children, the confiscation of property and supplies, the forced labor, then murder of the laborers, led to the death of over 1,500,000 humans who happened to be Armenians, because they were not MUSLIMS.

Here is an interesting quote (from the article) from the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives:
And the top Republican in the House, Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday that bringing the resolution up for a final vote would be "totally irresponsible."

"The fact is that Turkey is a very good ally of the United States. They are critical to our security, not only her to but our troops oversees," Boehner said. "Let the historians decide what happened 90 years ago."

LET THE HISTORIANS DECIDE! What an ass this guy is. Turkey is not a good ally. Turkey is an ally because it benefits Turkey. They are MUSLIM, and nearly all of them HATE THE UNITED STATES.

I understand the need to maintain good relations with nations that can offer assistance to us, and that should be the only reason to not pass this resolution. These other statements are ridiculous, and those who are making them should be ashamed of themselves.

I am no fan of Christianity, but at least Christians are not going around murdering everyone (in the last couple of centuries, anyway).

For a heart-rending description of the Armenian Genocide, check out this website: http://www.armenian-genocide.org/chronology.html.

10/09/2007

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: abandoned to fanatics


From the Los Angeles Times Opinion Page





The outspoken former Dutch legislator deserves the protection her country promised before she ran for parliament.

By Sam Harris and Salman Rushdie
October 9, 2007

As you read this, Ayaan Hirsi Ali sits in a safe house with armed men guarding her door. She is one of the most poised, intelligent and compassionate advocates of freedom of speech and conscience alive today, and for this she is despised in Muslim communities throughout the world. The details of her story bear repeating, as they illustrate how poorly equipped we are to deal with the threat of Muslim extremism in the West.

Hirsi Ali first fled to the Netherlands as a refugee from Somalia in 1992 after declining to submit to a forced marriage to a man she did not know. Once there, in hiding from her family, she began working as a cleaning lady. But this cleaning lady spoke Somali, Arabic, Amharic, Swahili, English and was quickly learning Dutch, so she soon found work as a translator for other Somali refugees, many of whom, like herself, were casualties of Islam. These women had been abused, mutilated, denied medical care and proper educations and forced into lives of sexual subjection and compulsory childbearing.

After attending the University of Leiden, Hirsi Ali began speaking publicly about the repression of women under Islam, and shortly thereafter she started receiving death threats from local Muslims. Her security situation eventually became so dire that she moved to the U.S. in 2002. However, she was soon contacted by Gerrit Zalm, then deputy prime minister of the Netherlands, who urged her to run for parliament. When Hirsi Ali voiced her security concerns, Zalm assured her that she would be given diplomatic protection wherever and whenever she needed it. She returned to the Netherlands with this assurance, won a seat in parliament and became a tireless advocate for women, for civil society and for reason.

The rest of her story is well known. In 2004, Hirsi Ali collaborated with Theo van Gogh on the film "Submission," which examined the link between Islamic law and the suffering of millions of women under Islam. The reaction from the Muslim community was nothing short of psychopathic, and it confirmed the necessity of Hirsi Ali's work and the reasonableness of her fears. Van Gogh, having declined bodyguards of his own, was gunned down and nearly decapitated on an Amsterdam street, and a letter threatening Hirsi Ali was staked to his chest with a butcher knife.

Hirsi Ali was immediately forced into hiding and moved from safe house to safe house, sometimes more than once a day, for months. Eventually, her security concerns drove her from the Netherlands altogether. She returned to the U.S., and the Dutch government has been paying for her protection here -- that is, until it suddenly announced last week that it would no longer protect her outside the Netherlands, thereby advertising her vulnerability to the world.

Hirsi Ali may be the first refugee from Western Europe since the Holocaust. As such, she is a unique and indispensable witness to both the strength and weakness of the West: to the splendor of open society and to the boundless energy of its antagonists. She knows the challenges we face in our struggle to contain the misogyny and religious fanaticism of the Muslim world, and she lives with the consequences of our failure each day. There is no one in a better position to remind us that tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.

Having recapitulated the Enlightenment for herself in a few short years, Hirsi Ali has surveyed every inch of the path leading out of the moral and intellectual wasteland that is traditional Islam. She has written two luminous books describing her journey, the most recent of which, "Infidel," has been an international bestseller for months. It is difficult to exaggerate her courage. As Christopher Caldwell wrote in the New York Times, "Voltaire did not risk, with his every utterance, making a billion enemies who recognized his face and could, via the Internet, share information instantaneously with people who aspired to assassinate him."

The Dutch Parliament will be debating Hirsi Ali's case this week. As it stands, the government's decision to protect her only within the borders of the Netherlands is genuinely perverse. While the Dutch have complained about the cost of protecting Hirsi Ali in the United States, it is actually far more expensive for them to protect her in the Netherlands, as the risk to her is greatest there.

There is also the matter of broken promises: Hirsi Ali was persuaded to run for parliament and to become the world's most visible and imperiled spokeswoman for the rights of Muslim women, on the understanding that she would be provided security for as long as she needed it. Zalm, in his capacity as both the deputy prime minister and the minister of finance, promised her such security without qualification. Most shamefully, Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, has recommended that Hirsi Ali simply quit the Netherlands and has refused to grant her even a week's protection outside the country, during which she might raise funds to hire security of her own. Is this a craven attempt to placate local Muslim fanatics? A warning to other Dutch dissidents not to stir up trouble by speaking too frankly about Islam? Or just pure thoughtlessness?

The Dutch government should recognize a scandal in the making and rediscover its obligation to provide Hirsi Ali with the protection she was promised.

There is not a person alive more deserving of the freedoms of speech and conscience we take for granted in the West, nor is there anyone making a more courageous effort to defend them.



Sam Harris is the author of "The End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation." Salman Rushdie is a novelist whose works include "Midnight's Children," which won the Booker Prize, and "The Satanic Verses."

10/05/2007

Islamic Justice - Rapists are Acquitted



Because Islamic law requires four male witnesses to a rape, the brutal rapists who raped a young woman for "honor" were acquitted.

Won't the world be much nicer once we are all living under Sharia law?

10/02/2007

New Turkish Constitution to "Protect" Women Back to Slave Status

Women condemn Turkey constitution
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Istanbul

Women's groups in Turkey have condemned a new draft constitution, saying it sets the country back years in terms of gender equality.

A new constitution is being prepared to replace the current one, introduced after the military coup of 1980.

The document describes women as a vulnerable group needing protection.

The proposed constitution has already sparked fierce debate with a clause to allow women to attend university wearing the Islamic headscarf.

Speaking on Tuesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured critics the new draft constitution will reflect the values and needs of all groups of society.

'Patriarchal society'

More than 80 women's groups have come together to voice strong opposition to the draft constitution, calling it a major step backwards for equal rights.

The current constitution in Turkey obliges the government to ensure equality for all - a clause that women's groups fought hard to include.

The new draft removes that, describing women instead as a vulnerable group in need of special protection.

Women's rights activist Selen Lermioglu calls that worrying proof that Turkey is still a highly patriarchal society.

"If the government accepts this it will show their ideology and mindset about women and men - that women are a group that needs to be protected," she said.

"No we're not, we don't need protection. We need equality and ask for that, not protection.

"If all laws and the whole constitution is prepared with this mindset, it can have a really bad impact," she added.

The group says it has not formed a common position yet on the issue of the Islamic headscarf, worn by more than 60% of Turkish woman but banned in state offices, schools and universities.

The government wants to change the constitution to ensure girls who cover their heads can attend university.

Women's activists, like the wider society here, are divided on that.

So far the new constitution has been drafted behind closed doors: now women's groups are demanding to be consulted.

They want to make this process an opportunity to push for more rights, not fewer, including a clause insisting on a temporary quota for women, to eliminate discrimination in all areas.

They argue that is the only way to lift Turkey from close to the bottom of the list in Europe on gender equality.

10/01/2007

Islamic Asshole Tries to Blow Up US Embassy

Excuse my redundancy. I suppose you don't HAVE to be an asshole to be a Muslim, but it seems to help. Notice how they don't mention his religion. As you read the story, you would think that it was just some regular guy who decided to bomb the US Embassy. The only indication of his religion is "Islamic literature" found in the backpack. I say it's time to round these people up.

The article:

Man busted trying to bring bomb into U.S. Embassy
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DAILY NEWS STAFF

Monday, October 1st 2007, 4:02 PM


A Bosnian man tried to enter the U.S. Embassy in Vienna today with a backpack loaded with explosives but was stopped by security, Austrian police said.

The 42-year-old man try to flee after his backpack set off a metal detector at the embassy, officials said. He was nabbed a short time later and no one wa hurt in the incident.

Investigators said the man's backpack was filled with explosives, nails and Islamic literature.

"There were a lot of nails in that bag. Had it exploded, it would have had an enormous shrapnel effect,” said Doris Edelbacher, of Austria's federal counterterrorism office.

The suspect was identified only as a native of Bosnia-Herzegovina who had been living in Austria.

Last month, authorities arrested three people — all Austrian citizens of Arab origin — in connection with a video posted online in March that had threatened Austria and Germany with attacks if they did not withdraw their military personnel from Afghanistan.

9/25/2007

Democrats Admit: Democrat Voters are Stupid

The article referenced above (click on the headline) is about the Supreme Court hearing a case, but to me the arguments against the law are telling a very interesting story.

Lawyers say that a law requiring photo ID for voting will hurt Democratic candidates more than Republican candidates, because it is a hassle for the "elderly, poor, disabled or homeless." What they are saying is that these people who normally vote for Democrats (I suppose because Democrats promise them free stuff) are not smart enough to get a state-issued ID card. Or perhaps they are saying that this group is not capable of keeping such an ID card.

Of course, it would make voting by the dead much more difficult too, which is often a factor in Democratic victories.


Here is the text of the article, just in case the link goes bad:


Supreme Court to decide photo ID voting law
Tue Sep 25, 2007 11:22am EDT

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court said on Tuesday it would rule on whether U.S. voters must show a government-issued photo identification at the polls, a divisive issue ahead of next year's national elections.

The justices said they would review a U.S. appeals court ruling that upheld an Indiana law considered the most restrictive in the nation requiring voters to present a photo ID issued by the state or federal government, such as a driver's license or a passport.

The 2005 law, which applies to both primary and general elections, has been challenged by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Indiana Democratic Party for imposing an unfair burden on the right to vote, especially on the elderly, poor, disabled or homeless.

Indiana was one of a number of states to enact such laws in the wake of voter fraud allegations in Florida and elsewhere during the closely fought 2000 elections.

Before 2002, few states had voter identification requirements and no state required photo identification. Now, 26 states have some form of a voter identification law, and six states require photo identification at the time of voting.

The only exception to the proof-of-identification requirement in Indiana is if the person lived in a state-licensed facility, such as a nursing home, and voted there.

MAY DETER DEMOCRATS FROM VOTING

The Indiana law was one of 17 cases the Supreme Court agreed to decide during its upcoming term that begins on October 1. The justices met on Monday to review some 2,000 appeals that piled up during its three-month summer recess and selected the 17 cases to decide.

Attorneys challenging the Indiana law urged the Supreme Court to resolve the law's constitutionality, calling it an issue of great national importance ahead of the 2008 presidential and congressional elections.

The appeals court upheld the law, even though it acknowledged it would deter some people from voting, and that those deterred are more likely to vote for Democratic rather than Republican candidates.

The lawyers challenging the law said the appeals court's decision undermined the fundamental right of individuals to vote.

Indiana officials opposed the appeal.

State Solicitor General Thomas Fisher said granting Supreme Court review of the issue now would likely prompt a spate of lawsuits across the nation that would disrupt the 2008 presidential primaries and create new uncertainty over the validity of all voter identification requirements.

He said the justices should wait for another case after the 2008 elections.

But the Supreme Court rejected that recommendation. It is expected to hear arguments in the case early next year, with a decision due by the end of June.



© Reuters2007All rights reserved

Who values the truth?

By Dennis Prager

There are conservatives who lie and there are liberals who lie. Neither blue nor red has a monopoly on truth-tellers.


However, unless one denies that there are distinctive values on the right and on the left - a proposition that no serious liberal or conservative would deny - how much truth is valued may be different for the right and the left.


In the hierarchy of leftist (as opposed to traditional liberal) values, truth is below other values, such as equality, opposition to war, the promotion of secularism and a number of other highly regarded values on the left.


This does not mean that the number of truth-tellers among individuals on the left is necessarily smaller than the number of individual truth-tellers on the right. It means that truth-telling is not high on the left's list of values.


Since this is, obviously, a generalization, and a negative one at that, anyone who makes this generalization is obligated to provide arguments and examples.


The first example is what is known as political correctness. Leftist denial of what is true is so widespread that we have a term for it, political correctness. There is no comparable right-wing political correctness, i.e., denying truths so as not to offend right-wing values or certain groups.


For example, among many on the left, especially academics, it has been almost impossible for decades to tell the truth about the innate differences between men and women because of the leftist dogma of innate similarities between the sexes. So deep is the left's hostility to truth regarding the sexes that a president of Harvard University was forced from office after suggesting that men's and women's brains process math and some science differently.


Similarly, many leftist professors at Duke University used the false rape charges against three white lacrosse players to reinforce the left-wing belief (itself not true) that America is racist. The truth was not nearly as important to them as proving how racist whites are.


Textbooks. A prime example of the left's view of truth is its changing the goal of high school American history textbooks from telling truth to promoting self-esteem among minority and female students by depicting more women and more non-whites in American history textbooks.


"Bush is a liar." Currently, the most widely repeated lie of the left is that President George W. Bush lied about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. It is repeated so often ("Bush lied, people died") that many Americans now believe this. But it is not true. There were valid reasons for anyone to believe that Saddam Hussein had WMD. Saddam had used them in the past; he refused to allow unfettered inspections; he was the major foreign sponsor of Palestinian terror; and most important, virtually all Western intelligence agencies believed Saddam had WMD.


Nor did President Bush lie, as the left frequently charges, about Saddam seeking uranium in the African nation of Niger. The president said in his 2003 State of the Union address that "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." That was exactly what British intelligence reported, and the British intelligence is now widely believed to have been accurate. It is a left-wing lie that President Bush lied when he spoke those now famous 16 words.


Callling liberals "unpatriotic." Another lie of the left is that Republicans and conservatives regularly label opponents of the war in Iraq "unpatriotic." Thus, during the CNN/YouTube debate, Sen. Hillary Clinton claimed that "I asked the Pentagon a simple question: 'Have you prepared for withdrawing our troops?' In response, I got a letter accusing me of being unpatriotic." That is - and this is not said easily - a lie. Anyone who reads the Defense Department response to Sen. Clinton will see that what she claims is entirely untrue. Her patriotism, or lack of it, was not even hinted at. Moreover, it is rare almost to the point of nonexistent for mainstream Republicans or conservatives to call any liberal critic of the Bush administration "unpatriotic."


The homeless, heterosexual AIDS and rape. For years, mainstream liberal news media purveyed false information supplied by Mitch Snyder, the major liberal activist on behalf of the homeless. Likewise, we were told by gay and AIDS activist groups that AIDS "doesn't discriminate," meaning that heterosexuals in America were as likely to contract the HIV virus as homosexuals. It was never true in America (Africa may be another story for other reasons). Feminist groups have offered statistics on rape and sexual violence that are patently false.


Few liberal activist groups tell the truth. Not because their members are liars - in private life they may well be as honest as anyone else - but because whatever the left advocates it deems more important than truth.


This does not mean the right is always honest. For example, conservatives who say that "pornography causes rape" are doing what the left does - putting their agenda, in this case a loathing of pornography, above truth-telling. I have seen no credible statistics linking the proliferation of pornography with increased rape.


But when the left ceaselessly repeats the mantra "Bush lied," it may simply be projecting onto George W. Bush what comes quite naturally to the left - when it offers false Iraqi death statistics, false homeless data, false rape statistics, false secondhand smoke statistics, false claims about the percentage of gays in the population, and false claims of just about everything else the left cares about.

9/21/2007

George Soros

George Soros: The Man, The Mind And The Money Behind MoveOn

INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY

Posted 9/20/2007

The Left: The smear ad published against Gen. Petraeus has drawn attention to its sponsor, MoveOn.org. But the fingerprints of the group's chief financial backer, George Soros, were all over it. Who is this man and what is he up to?

To read Soros' own spun story, he's a Jewish survivor of Nazi-occupied Hungary who pulled himself up by his bootstraps, studied economics in England, became a U.S. citizen in 1961 and made a multibillion-dollar fortune as a financier who pioneered hedge funds.

Over the years, Soros has written books giving his philosophical take on global affairs and acquired a reputation as something of a "stateless statesman." He calls himself a philanthropist and has given away $5 billion of his now $8.5 billion fortune through his principal vehicle, the Open Society Institute. The institute, in turn, has passed cash on to far more radical groups, such as MoveOn.org.

But Soros is no hands-off donor. According to the Open Society Institute's Web site: "Despite the breadth of his endeavors, Soros is personally involved in planning and implementing many of the foundation network's projects."

Soros says he gives away about $400 million annually.

It's an admirable picture, but "philanthropy" may be the wrong word. Unlike, say, Bill Gates, who really does put the bulk of his charity into helping the world's poor through medical services, Soros tends to fund pressure groups and foundations he misleadingly characterizes as promoting "civil society" and "democracy."

The image gives him moral cover to manipulate democracies whose voter verdicts he opposes.


Tearing Down America


The first groups Soros supported back in the 1980s did play a role in undercutting the rickety communist regimes of Eastern Europe. But his motives seemed less than idealistic. All Soros groups tend to tear down tyrannies rather than build up democracies.

And since 2003, tearing down what he views as the "fascist" tyranny of the United States, as he has put it, is "the central focus of my life."

Through networks of nongovernmental organizations, Soros intends to ruin the presidency of George W. Bush "by any legal means necessary" and knock America off its global pedestal. "His view of America is so negative," says Sen. Joe Lieberman, who, like Gen. David Petraeus, has been a target of Soros' electoral "philanthropy." "The places he's put his money are . . . so destructive that it unsettles me." Soros' aim seems to be to make the U.S. just another client state easily controlled by the United Nations and other one-world groups where he has lots of friends.

Best known among these groups is MoveOn.org, a previously small fringe-left group to which Soros has given $5 million since 2004. Bulked up by cash, the group now uses professional public relations tactics to undercut the Iraq War effort, with its latest a full-page New York Times ad that branded Gen. Petraeus "General Betray Us."

It ran Sept. 10 in the New York Times, the same day Petraeus delivered his progress report on the surge in Iraq.

MoveOn.org previously put out ads depicting Bush as a Nazi, something that certainly echoes Soros' sentiment.

"We have to go through a certain de-Nazification process," he told this year's Davos conference in Switzerland.


Moving On To The Far Left


MoveOn.org was also pivotal in getting Howard Dean elected chairman of the Democratic Party in a bid to push the party to the far left.

Soros acolyte Arianna Huffington is on record as advocating that outcome. Berating Democrats for their electoral losses in 2004, she wrote: "Have these people learned nothing from 2000, 2002 and 2004? How many more concession speeches do they have to give - from 'the center' - before they realize it's not a very fruitful place?"

Soros also has financed spin outfits such as Media Matters that specialize in providing distorted conservative political statements as grist for leftist politicians and media.

Media Matters (and MoveOn.org) succeeded last year in denying incumbent Lieberman the Democratic nomination for Senate in Connecticut and effectively drove the moderate out of his own party. Net result: Fewer Democrats, including today's crop running for office, are willing to challenge any Soros-financed pressure group.


Money & Elections


Soros' efforts go beyond spin. He has also bankrolled groups involved in the manipulation of elections, an activity that has increased since his money came into the picture. Two groups - Americans Coming Together and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - were sanctioned recently by the Federal Election Commission for fraud.

Soros pledged $10 million to ACT, which has since been fined $775,000 for illegally funneling $70 million set aside for voter registrations to Democratic candidates.

He also gave at least $150,000 to ACORN, the left-wing group best known for pushing minimum-wage hikes, marching for illegal-immigrant amnesty and harassing Wal-Mart. ACORN has been accused of voter fraud in 13 states since 2004 and was convicted of falsifying signatures in a voter registration drive last July, drawing a fine of $25,000 in Washington state.

Soros says he has ended funding to voter-drive organizations, but he still heads a secretive rich-man's club called "Democracy Alliance" that has doled out $20 million to activist groups like ACORN.

It's also noteworthy that the Soros-funded MoveOn.org advocates "paper-trail" electronic voting in the U.S., the same kind used in Venezuela, where allegations of electronic fraud and ballot secrecy violations have ended confidence in the system and sealed Chavez's dictatorship.


Terrorist-Friendly Groups


Soros additionally finances groups best described as helpful to terrorists. Since 1998, he has given the American Civil Liberties Union $5 million to empower criminals, including lawsuits on behalf of terrorists' "civil rights."

Soros' Open Society Institute gave $20,000 for the legal defense of radical attorney Lynne Stewart. She was convicted in 2002 of abetting jailed terrorists after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Soros is also involved in the financing of a 9/11 memorial at ground zero, the World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex - which critics say blames the U.S. for 9/11.

"Bush says (the terrorists) hate us for what we are, not what we do, and I think that's false," Soros told an audience at UC Berkeley last year.

He has handed $3.1 million to the left-wing Tides Foundation, which funds organizations, such as the Sea Shepherds, Earth First! and the Ruckus Society, that have condoned or engaged in eco-terrorism.

On the international front, Soros-backed groups have undercut important U.S. allies, including Israel and Colombia, which have aligned with the U.S. rather than the U.N.

Both see their sovereignty as non-negotiable, view victory over their enemies as an absolute good and refuse to become failed states - all anathema to the thinking of Soros. His Human Rights Watch repeatedly attempts to portray both nations as pariah states.


One World Government


Soros additionally finances groups supporting the interests of one-world government. While he has criticized the United Nations occasionally, he favors U.N. dominance in world affairs, sees the European Union as a model for "open society" and has called for a global central bank.

Anyone who doesn't agree with this vision, or who doesn't fit cozily into his multilateral model, gets a visit from Soros-backed groups.

MoveOn.org, for example, led the charge to keep John Bolton out of a permanent seat in the U.N., and Bankwatch piled on to topple Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank.

In fact, pick any cause that seeks to weaken the U.S. and it's hard not to find Soros' name on its list of financial backers. Most of these causes are financed by relatively small amounts, but that's all that's needed to make trouble.

And without the cash, countless bad ideas would have no presence in American political debate at all.

What keeps these groups on cue, and Democrats in line, is the prospect that any funding from Soros can be stepped up to massive levels. It's probably no coincidence that Soros was a big backer of campaign finance reforms that have allowed nominally nonpartisan groups like MoveOn.org to strike with the kinds of tactics they are using.

Soros usually doesn't offer up or endorse specific candidates for office. His chief aim seems to be tearing down Bush, driving the Democrats to the far left and enforcing party discipline through fear. In fact, he seems to like keeping Democrats guessing whether or not he's offended.

The strategy seems to be working. No Democrat had the courage to cross MoveOn.org after its libelous Petraeus ad. On Thursday, a symbolic vote in Congress censuring MoveOn.org for the Petraeus ad passed, but with the notable absence of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Election looming, neither wants to cross Soros' MoveOn.org.

Soros himself does not believe in victory in Iraq and wants to keep America from achieving it.

"The war on terror cannot be won," he has said.

More on NY Times Re: Moveon.org Ad

Subsidizing Sedition

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, September 13, 2007 4:20 PM PT

Media: The New York Times gives moveon.org a discount on a full-page ad smearing Gen. David Petraeus.


Does anyone think for a minute that the Times would grant a similar discount for a group backing Petraeus?

This being a nation where speech is - or should be - absolutely free, moveon.org has every right to express its opinions. And the New York Times has just as much right to publish any opinion it wishes.

That said, there's an ugliness about this moveon.org advertisement that many Americans recognize immediately. And they no doubt agree with Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch who, in unusually blunt language on the Senate floor this week, said of its sponsors:

"These people are nuts."

The screed below the photograph of Petraeus isn't the work of a rational person or group making a cogent argument. It reads like the unhinged scrawling of someone suffering acutely from Bush Derangement Syndrome - the condition that has rendered much of the Democratic Party and most on the left incoherent.

Whatever President Bush supports, they oppose. To them, the man Americans trusted enough to elect twice is nothing but an imperialist monster who stomps on civil rights.

The Sulzberger family that owns the Times should be ashamed for allowing the ad to run at all. No one would have faulted them for turning it down for reasons of taste and/or an unwillingness to be associated with such an extreme, hate-filled group.

But they not only took the ad, they subsidized moveon.org's vitriol by cutting its usual price for a full page from $181,692 to $65,000.

But then, what else should we expect? The ad, which was timed to coincide with Petraeus' congressional testimony on the progress of the war in Iraq, fits nicely with the Times' own view of the war.

To paraphrase moveon.org, the Times has been at war with the war in Iraq and the global war on terrorism for years, and it seems to be intent on undermining U.S. efforts to win both. At least three times in 2005 and 2006, America's newspaper of record published reports revealing details of secret security programs designed to foil terrorists. How much damage that did to our war effort we may never know.

The Times is not alone, however, in fighting its war. Others in the mainstream media have also done their part - even to the point of refusing to run ads in support of the war effort, as was the case with CNBC and MSNBC last month. NBC tried to explain away the rejection by citing network policy to reject ads from groups that touch on controversial issues of public importance.

Never mind that organizations such as the conservative Move America Forward, the political American Medical Association and the nonprofit Save Darfur Coalition have aired their commercials on the NBC network.

With its supposedly clever wording, moveon.org's ad suggests that General Petraeus - or General "Betray Us," as the headline says, is a traitor to his nation. But it's moveon.org - not the man who's trying to protect our safety - that's flirting with treason here.

This is an organization, after all, that in 2004 allowed a video comparing Bush to Adolf Hitler to appear on its Web site.

That's not sedition, but it clearly illustrates the sort of twisted thinking that animates the group and its followers. No one should be surprised to find elements within moveon.org who might think toppling the U.S. government - at least one headed by George W. Bush - is not such a bad thing.

9/18/2007

Iranian Slaves Forced to Protest Against France and USA


Just click the title for the story. The picture says it all, though, really.

I'm sure the women of Iran are really happy that the Shah was deposed and they were restored to their rightful place in society according to Islamic law... slaves in clown suits, without the right to even think on their own.

9/16/2007

France Finally Grows a Backbone

France warning of war with Iran

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner says the world should prepare for war over Iran's nuclear programme.

"We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war," Mr Kouchner said in an interview on French TV and radio.

Mr Kouchner said negotiations with Iran should continue "right to the end", but an Iranian nuclear weapon would pose "a real danger for the whole world".

Iran has consistently denied it is trying to acquire nuclear weapons but intends to carry on enriching uranium.

Mr Kouchner also said a number of large French companies had been asked not to tender for business in Iran.

EU sanctions

"We are not banning French companies from submitting. We have advised them not to. These are private companies."

"But I think that it has been heard and we are not the only ones to have done this."

He said France wanted the European Union to prepare sanctions against Iran.

"We have decided that while negotiations are continuing to prepare eventual sanctions outside the ambit of UN sanctions. Our good friends, the Germans, suggested that," he said.

Until now the Security Council of the United Nations has imposed economic sanctions on Iran, but did not allow for military action.

The United States has not ruled out a military attack against Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

9/14/2007

Blogger gets 4 years for insulting Islam

Thursday, February 22, 2007 • Last updated 9:28 a.m. PT
By NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt -- An Egyptian blogger was convicted Thursday and sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and Egypt's president, sending a chill through fellow Internet writers who fear a government crackdown.
Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 22-year-old former student at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, an Islamic institution, was a vocal secularist and sharp critic of conservative Muslims in his blog. He also lashed out often at Al-Azhar - the most prominent religious center in Sunni Islam - calling it "the university of terrorism" and accusing it of encouraging extremism.
His conviction brought a flood of condemnations from Amnesty International and other international and Egyptian rights group and stunned fellow bloggers.
"I am shocked," said Wael Abbas, a blogger who writes frequently about police abuses and other human rights violations in Egypt. "This is a terrible message to anyone who intends to express his opinion and to bloggers in particular."
Judge Ayman al-Akazi issued the verdict in a brief, five-minute session in a court in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. He sentenced Nabil to three years in prison for insulting Islam and the prophet and inciting sectarian strife and another year for insulting President Hosni Mubarak.
Nabil, wearing a gray T-shirt and sitting in the defendants pen, gave no reaction and his face remained still as the verdict was read. He made no comment to reporters as he was immediate led outside to a prison truck.
Seconds after he was loaded into the truck and the door closed, an Associated Press reporter heard the sound of a slap from inside the vehicle and a shriek of pain from Nabil.
His lawyer, Ahmed Seif el-Islam, said he would appeal the verdict, saying the ruling will "terrify other bloggers and will negative impact on the freedom of expression in Egypt." Nabil had faced a possible maximum sentence of up to nine years in prison.
Egypt arrested a number of bloggers last year, most of them for connections to Egypt's pro-democracy reform movement. Nabil was arrested in November, and while other bloggers were freed, Nabil was put on trial - a sign of the sensitivity of his writings on religion.
Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a pro-reform blogger who was detained for six weeks last year, said the conviction for insulting Mubarak will "have a chilling effect on the rest of the bloggers."
"We (the Egyptian people) are enduring oppression, poverty and torture, so the least we can do is insult the president," he said.
Amnesty International, the New York-based Human Rights Watch and the France-based press rights group Reporters Without Borders - along with a string of Egyptian rights group - warned that the ruling would hurt freedom of expression in Egypt, a top U.S. ally in the Mideast. Amnesty said it considered Nabil a "prisoner of conscience."
Nabil, who used the blogger name Kareem Amer, was an unusually scathing critic of conservative Muslims - and his frequent attacks on Al-Azhar, where he was a law student, led to the university expelling him in March. Al-Azhar then pushed for prosecutors to bring him to trial. His writings also appeared on a Arabic Web magazine called "Modern Discussion."
The judge said Nabil insulted Islam's Prophet Muhammad with a piece he wrote in late 2005 after riots in which angry Muslim worshippers attacked a Coptic Christian church over a play put on by Christians deemed offensive to Islam.
Egypt arrested a number of bloggers last year, most of them for connections to Egypt's pro-democracy reform movement. Nabil was arrested in November, and while other bloggers were freed, Nabil was put on trial - a sign of the sensitivity of his writings on religion.
Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a pro-reform blogger who was detained for six weeks last year, said the conviction for insulting Mubarak will "have a chilling effect on the rest of the bloggers."
"We (the Egyptian people) are enduring oppression, poverty and torture, so the least we can do is insult the president," he said.
Amnesty International, the New York-based Human Rights Watch and the France-based press rights group Reporters Without Borders - along with a string of Egyptian rights group - warned that the ruling would hurt freedom of expression in Egypt, a top U.S. ally in the Mideast. Amnesty said it considered Nabil a "prisoner of conscience."
Nabil, who used the blogger name Kareem Amer, was an unusually scathing critic of conservative Muslims - and his frequent attacks on Al-Azhar, where he was a law student, led to the university expelling him in March. Al-Azhar then pushed for prosecutors to bring him to trial. His writings also appeared on a Arabic Web magazine called "Modern Discussion."
The judge said Nabil insulted Islam's Prophet Muhammad with a piece he wrote in late 2005 after riots in which angry Muslim worshippers attacked a Coptic Christian church over a play put on by Christians deemed offensive to Islam.
-----
Abdel-Kareem Nabil's blog, in Arabic:
http://karam903.blogspot.com/
Nabil's writings on the Modern Discussion site, in Arabic:
http://www.rezgar.com/m.asp?i432
-----
AP correspondent Maggie Michael in Cairo contributed to this report.

Wild CIA tale scams 22 out of almost $1 million

La. woman faces prison for making claims involving satellites and spies

Updated: 7:59 a.m. PT Jan 22, 2007

SHREVEPORT, La. - She claimed to be a CIA agent who could have satellites scan people’s bodies for disease, then have CIA agents administer secret medicines to them while they slept.
As far-fetched as her story was, Stacey Finley convinced 22 neighbors, in-laws and friends in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi to pay her nearly $1 million over the past six years.
The 34-year-old Farmerville resident will be sentenced May 7 on one charge of wire fraud. Until then, she is under house arrest, U.S. Attorney Donald Washington said.
She pleaded guilty Tuesday and could get up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000. As part of her guilty plea, she acknowledged that the judge must order her to repay the money, and that she defrauded her victims of $989,898.
She is “a predator who preyed on basic human fears,” and deserves the maximum, Washington said. However, the guilty plea calls for some consideration that her guilty plea allowed the government to avoid the cost of preparing for trial.
Prosecutors described the victims as “solid, middle-class, educated citizens” who ranged from young adults to elderly. Most were friends and relatives of Finley’s husband, authorities said.
“She can be best be thought of as a cult-like, charismatic personality who could convince the victims this scam was real,” Washington said.
Husband not charged
According to investigators, Finley claimed she could arrange a satellite scan of her victims’ bodies, detecting hidden medical problems, and that CIA agents would then enter their homes while they slept and administer secret medicines that would prevent serious health problems and hereditary diseases
Some of the victims depleted their savings, pensions and life insurance to pay her, authorities said.
Authorities said Finley used the money for living expenses, mortgage payments and clothes — although she and her husband had five vehicles. Most things were paid for with cash.
The husband has not been charged. Washington would not say if he is being investigated.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

9/13/2007

Sam Harris on Morality

"religion remains the only mode of discourse that encourages grown men and women to pretend to know things they manifestly do not (and cannot) know"


In his essay, "Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion, "Jonathan Haidt worries that the "new atheists"-Dawkins, Dennett, and I-may be "polluting the scientific study of religion with moralistic dogma and damaging the prestige of science in the process." According to Haidt, Dawkins becomes the Grand Inquisitor whenever the topic of group selection is politely raised; Dennett has misinterpreted the literature on religion and morality for reasons inscrutable; and for my part, I am merely waging war with straw men. As luck would have it, Haidt comes to this debate in the guise an increasingly familiar "straw man"-that of the liberal, atheist scientist who would deliver us to the threshold of moral relativism, if not across it, with the best of intentions.

Haidt concludes his essay with this happy blandishment: "every longstanding ideology and way of life contains some wisdom, some insights into ways of suppressing selfishness, enhancing cooperation, and ultimately enhancing human flourishing." Surely we can all agree about this. Our bets have been properly hedged (the ideology must be "longstanding" and need only have "some" wisdom). Even a "new atheist" must get off his high horse and drink from such pristine waters. Well, okay...

Anyone feeling nostalgic for the "wisdom" of the Aztecs? Rest assured, there's nothing like the superstitious murder of innocent men, women, and children to "suppress selfishness" and convey a shared sense of purpose. Of course, the Aztecs weren't the only culture to have discovered "human flourishing" at its most sanguinary and psychotic. The Sumerians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Canaanites, Maya, Inca, Olmecs, Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, Teutons, Celts, Druids, Vikings, Gauls, Hindus, Thais, Chinese, Japanese, Scandinavians, Maoris, Melanesias, Tahitians, Hawaiians, Balinese, Australian aborigines, Iroquois, Huron, Cherokee, and numerous other societies ritually murdered their fellow human beings because they believed that invisible gods and goddesses, having an appetite for human flesh, could be so propitiated. Many of their victims were of the same opinion, in fact, and went willingly to slaughter, fully convinced that their deaths would transform the weather, or cure the king of his venereal disease, or in some other way spare their fellows the wrath of the Unseen.

What would Haidt have us think about these venerable traditions of pious ignorance and senseless butchery? Is there some wisdom in these cults of human sacrifice that we should now honor? Must we take care not to throw out the baby with the bathwater? Or might we want to eat that baby instead? Indeed, many of these societies regularly terminated their rituals of sacred murder with a cannibal feast. Is my own revulsion at these practices a sign that I view these distant cultures with the blinkered gaze of a colonialist? Shall we just reserve judgment until more of the facts are in? When does scientific detachment become perverse? When might it be suicidal?

Despite Haidt's suggestion to the contrary, it actually matters what people believe. Most religious practices are the direct consequence of what people think is actually going on in the world. In fact, most religious practices only become intelligible once we understand the beliefs that first gave rise to them. The fact that some people have begun to doubt these doctrines in the meantime, while still mouthing the liturgy and aping the rituals, is beside the point. What religion, after all, is best exemplified by those who are in the process of losing it?

Haidt draws comfort from the fact that even biblical literalists occasionally yield to common sense and ignore their holy books. Of course they do: their holy books are not only bursting with ancient ignorance-they are actually self-contradictory. Is Haidt suggesting that there are no real religious fundamentalists out there at all, or that their numbers are negligible? According to a recent poll, thirty-six percent of British Muslims (ages 16-24) think apostates should be put to death for their unbelief. Just how much exculpatory sociology is Haidt inclined to do in this area so as to get Islam entirely off the hook? When is a belief system not only false, but so encouraging of falsity and needless suffering as to be worthy, not merely of our understanding, but of our contempt?

Haidt offers us a choice between "contractual" and "beehive" approaches to morality-the first is said to be the province of liberals like myself, who care only about harm/care and fairness/reciprocity; the second represents the social order imposed by conservative religion, which incorporates further concerns about ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. The opposition between these two conceptions of the good life may be useful to talk about, and the data Haidt presents about the differences between liberals and conservatives is interesting, but is his interpretive scheme correct? I have my doubts. It seems possible, for instance, that these five foundations of morality are simply facets of a more general concern for harm/care.

What, after all, is the problem with desecrating a copy of the Qur'an or taking the Lord's name in vain? Well, if a person really believes that the Qur'an is a sacred text or that God is listening, he almost surely believes that some harm could come to him or to his tribe as a result of these actions-if not in this world, then in the next. Examples of this sort of thinking should come so readily to the reader's mind as to make any examples I provide superfluous (AIDS as a punishment for the sin of homosexuality? The Asian tsunami as repayment for idolatry? September 11th as the result of too little faith and too much tolerance for abortion and gay shenanigans?). A more esoteric reading might be that any person who blasphemes or desecrates will have harmed himself directly thereby: a lack of reverence might be its own punishment, dimming the eyes of faith. Whatever interpretation we favor, sacredness and authority have collapsed to the harm/care axis just the same. Perhaps Haidt's thinking on this subject has been powerfully distorted by his own atheism, as he seems incapable of seeing the world as the faithful see it. We might well wonder, at this juncture, just which of us atheists are in danger of "misunderstanding religion." At least Dennett, Dawkins, and I have made some attempt to understand what it might be like to actually believe what people of faith say they believe.

The same point can be made in the other direction: even a liberal like myself, enamored as I am of my two-footed morality, can readily see that my version of the good life must be safeguarded from the aggressive tribalism of others. When I search my heart, I discover that I want to keep the barbarians beyond the city walls as much as my conservative neighbors do, and I recognize that sacrifices of my own freedom may be warranted for this purpose. I even expect that conservative epiphanies of this sort could well multiply in the coming years-just imagine how we liberals will be disposed to think about Islam after an incident of nuclear terrorism. Liberal hankering for happiness and freedom might one day yield some very strident calls for stricter laws and tribal loyalty. Will this mean that liberals have become religious conservatives pining for the beehive? Or is the liberal notion of reducing harm flexible enough to encompass the need for order and differences between in-group and out-group?

Even if we accept Haidt's "new synthesis" without caveat, we can ask whether any given culture is raising its children to have "bad" moral intuitions and to be incapable of the sort of moral reasoning that might lead to a more enlightened outlook. Are certain conceptions of morality especially good at binding a community together, but incompatible with modernity? What if certain cultures are found to be relying upon moral codes that look terrible no matter how we squint our eyes or jigger Haidt's five variables and four principles? What if we find a culture that is neither especially sensitive to harm and reciprocity, nor especially cognizant of the sacred, nor especially conducive to human flourishing, nor especially astute in any other way? Would Haidt's conception of morality allow us to then demand that these benighted people to stop abusing their children? Or would that be unscientific?

Finally, I should mention that Haidt fails to acknowledge the central point of "new atheist" criticism. The point is not that we atheists can prove religion to be the cause of more harm than good (though I think this can be argued, and the balance seems to me to be swinging further toward harm each day). The point is that religion remains the only mode of discourse that encourages grown men and women to pretend to know things they manifestly do not (and cannot) know. If ever there were an attitude at odds with science, this is it. And the faithful are encouraged to keep shouldering this unwieldy burden of falsehood and self-deception by everyone they meet-by their coreligionists, of course, and by people of differing faith, and now, with startling frequency, by scientists who claim to have no faith. Even if Haidt's reading of the literature on morality were correct, and all this manufactured bewilderment proves to be useful in getting certain people to donate time, money, and blood to their neighbors-so what? Is science now in the business of nurturing useful delusions? Surely we can grow in altruism, and refine our ethical intuitions, and even explore the furthest reaches of human happiness, without lying to ourselves about the nature of the universe. It is time that atheist scientists, above all people on this infatuated planet, acted as if this were so.