Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why is the Civil War Label Important?

At, Michael Medved posts an interesting article called "Why the Insane Obsession with the 'Civil War' Label for Iraq?" on his blog. I'd been noticing that battle to have the Iraq situation labeled a civil war--it buzzed in the back of my mind like a stray housefly, but I didn't pay too much attention to it. I just wondered at it.

Michael Medved writes,

Critics of the Bush administration’s Iraq policies have been obsessed for more than a year with an odd effort to designate the struggle as a “civil war.” This week, NBC News as a matter of policy agreed to call the conflict a “civil war,” while UN Secretary General Kofi Anan and even former Secretary of State Colin Powell also suggested that this might be an appropriate description for the current state of the struggle. Anti-war forces are jubilant over their apparent rhetorical victory, but offer no explanation whatever as to why it’s important. Even if the whole world embraces the “civil war” phrase, why is that significant in any way for shaping future policy?

Obviously, anti-war forces would maintain that once we acknowledge that a civil war is raging on the ground, it becomes clear and inescapable that we have no role to play and we’ll be forced to pull our troops far away from the warring combatants.

But where has it ever been established that the U.S. can’t get involved in “civil wars”?

He goes on to write an interesting, if brief, history of a number of times when the US has been involved in various civil wars around the world, including
In Bosnia and Kosovo the United States (under President Clinton) also inserted itself into the midst of horrible civil wars and, in both cases managed to reduce the nightmarish killing which, in its genocidal horror, far exceeded even the current misery of Iraq.

He then writes

This history is worth reciting only to defeat the idiotic leftist assumption that if Iraq gets classified by everyone as a civil war (a bogus classification, but one that’s gaining ground) then it means that the argument is over – we most get out.

Why? Since when? Who says?
It is an idiotic assumption that somehow labeling the war in Iraq as a civil war means we have to pick up our toys and go home. But so often, that is the way leftists and liberals play--with words, semantics, whatever.

Michael Medved ends with this:

And even if you succeed in forcing this unique and tragic war into that classic label, you’re still left with one huge, unanswerable, inescapable two word question---


The man makes a most excellent point.

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Conversely, Why Aren't We Hearing About Some of These Stories?

Yesterday I wrote about the Mainstream Media (MSM) publishing stories that haven't been confirmed and are not from reliable sources. Today, I am asking why we don't hear stories about those in the mideast who are working to surpress freedom of their own people.

My friend, Pop, emailed me about a news article in The Independent in the UK. While not pleasant reading, this is important. The story is titled "Disembowelled, Then Torn Apart: The Price of Daring to Teach Girls." The story begins with a painful two paragraphs:

The gunmen came at night to drag Mohammed Halim away from his home, in front of his crying children and his wife begging for mercy.

The 46-year-old schoolteacher tried to reassure his family that he would return safely. But his life was over, he was part-disembowelled and then torn apart with his arms and legs tied to motorbikes, the remains put on display as a warning to others against defying Taliban orders to stop educating girls.

Why do you think we in the states don't see these stories? Do you suppose it is because it doesn't make the US look bad? Another paragraph:

Fatima Mushtaq, the director of education at Ghazni, has had repeated death threats, the notorious "night letters". Her gender, as well as her refusal to send girls home from school, has made her a particular source of hatred for Islamist zealots.

Perhaps, too, we don't see these stories because it does shed a negative light upon Islam.

You would think that Mohammad Halim and Fatima Mushtaq would be haled as heroes by women and especially feminists. However, those groups remain silent.

People all over the world suffer oppression and are murdered for fighting that oppression. We need to be aware of the true picture of what is going on.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Apparently, We Shouldn't Believe the Mainstream Media

It seems that on yet another story, the Mainstream Media (MSM) has used worthless sources, and has not confirmed the incident at all. I am speaking of the burning of six Sunnis by Shiites. See Michelle Malkin's column, "The rumor-mongering media," at Jewish World Review for details.

Would anyone care to explain to me why the MSM feels it necessary to lie to the American people, not to mention all the others around the world who read their material? I mean, I know there is an excessive liberal, Democrat bias among the MSM, just as there is in academia. What I don't get is why their integrity and honesty isn't more important to them than politics.

When I first heard of the revenge killing mentioned above, I was appalled. Yet, at the same time, there was a tiny, niggling doubt in my mind as to the truthfulness of the story. Why? Because the MSM has tried repeatedly to make things look bad in Iraq, whether they are or not.

How is anyone supposed to understand what is going on and what would be the best course of action if we have to put up with tainted news stories written by reporters more concerned with advancing their personal political agendas than with being truthful and honest and trustworthy.

And people wonder why I am conservative and not liberal?!

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

"Consensus is Nonsensus in Scientific Matters"

Michael R. Fox, Ph. D., writes a great article called "Consensus is Nonsensus in Scientific Matters" at Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

In this article, he talks about situations in which consensus is an important part of decision-making, but points out that consensus is entirely inappropriate in scientific investigation and fact-finding. In his first paragraph, he writes,
The concept of consensus means little more than a majority of opinions on a given matter. In politics this is the best we can do in making decisions to proceed with political actions. In the scientific world consensus is meaningless, and often unscientific, and worse, often wrong. Even the act of seeking such a consensus as a form of proof is not science.
Dr. Fox gives examples of important scientific findings being suppressed due to its going against the consensus of the time--examples such as Galileo and Ignaz Semmelweis.

Dr. Fox's conclusion? It is, in his final two paragraphs:

Serious scientists should welcome criticism, and many have in the past. Hypotheses are to be examined, modified, or abandoned, while knowledge is advanced, understanding improved. But it is not welcomed these days, which is, sadly, a most unscientific situation.

When Michael Crichton said that “Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled”, he was right. When it comes to the natural sciences consensus is not science, and science is not consensus.

I thought this article made some important points about how we often make serious mistakes by seeking a consensus in science and then buying into that consensus.


"Christianity's Real Record" by Greg Koukl

At columnist Greg Koukl writes an interesting article called "Christianity's Real Record."

Mr. Koukl writes of a common accusation--that religion in general and Christianity in particular has been the instigator of war and mass killings. He refutes that claim by explaining how Christianity has helped the world. As he writes, "Love for Christ and a desire to obey Him has transformed the world in four areas: education, human rights, acts of mercy, and general moral transformation of culture."

He writes about, for example, the work of missionaries in China and Africa in establishing schools and hospitals, and in creating written languages for many of Africa's dialects. He writes of the work of those such as Mother Teresa in helping the poor and down-trodden of the world.

He concludes by writing, "This is Christianity’s real record, not a history of evil, violence, and debauchery, but a legacy of radical transformation for good."

Something to consider.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Food Timeline

A fun and interesting website is The Food Timeline which starts at the very beginning (with water and ice) and travels through the centuries with links to click on for all sorts of cool information.

Down the left side of the screen is a column of "Beginnings" which tells when food items were invented/began to be used. The latest entry is Deep Fried Coca-Cola in 2006. You can click on various words to be taken to websites with more information about that item.

Down the right side of the screen is a column of "Recipes" which leads you to old cookbooks on the web and recipe websites. I've had fun looking into cookbooks from the 1800's. There are lots of others, of course.

Even if you aren't interested in trying some of the recipes, you'll have a lot of fun seeing when different items came into use and learning more about them. Kids can have fun with the site as well. You can have them look up things like Jello and TV dinners or foods from whatever era of history they are studying at the moment.

Scroll clear to the bottom of the screen for information about the website, links to other websites, and how to cite the site in case your kids want to do a report for school about something they found there.

This is one of my favorite websites and I think you'll enjoy it, too.


Friday, November 24, 2006

What is Happening to our Society?

Jewish World Review has two columns in this weekend's edition decrying what our society and culture have become. One is Cal Thomas' "Crossed What Line?" and the other is Greg Crosby's "Not My World."

I, too, would like to know where civility, modesty, and other virtues have gone? And why, as Cal Thomas says,
Many other parents have been very concerned but, as they expressed themselves individually and through various advocacy groups over the years, they were told not to interfere with "artistic expression." When they persisted, they were disparaged as censors and bigots who were attempting to impose their morality on the country (as opposed to networks imposing their immorality on the country). And yet the crudities, lack of modesty and self-restraint on TV have been major contributors to antisocial behavior and loss of respect for women and almost everything else. The debate continues over whether TV violence encourages real violence, but TV violence certainly doesn't help.

Why is it that people who try to maintain some standards of morality, modesty, and civility are shouted down? Do some people really think that an "anything goes" society is a good thing? Perhaps they do until it is their own children who are seduced into a life of gangs, drugs, sex, and violence--until it is their own marriages that are damaged, sometimes beyond repair, by adultery, pornography, and other evils of our day.

I do not understand why "entertainment" such as movies, novels, and video games feel that 4-letter words, premarital or extra-marital sex, violence, substance abuse, and so forth are not only acceptable, but necessary? Sure, there are some people who want that sort of thing, but don't most people have some standards? Do they think they have to put up with vulgarity and immorality if they want any entertainment? Why?

In talking about clothing, Greg Crosby writes,
I don't get the clothes that most people are wearing today. Why would a woman want to wear garments that accentuate her fat stomach? Why would a mature man want to look like a five-year old boy? I never got the baseball hat thing and now it has been a staple in wearing apparel with adults for more than twenty-five years. You look at old photos in books and magazines, you watch classic movies, and people are dressed so well. Why don't people want to look nice anymore? They purposely dress down and I suppose the idea is to look as dirty and unkempt as they can. Why do middle class upwardly mobile folks want to look like prison convicts, gang members, and the homeless? I just don't get it.

I don't get it, either. And it isn't just clothing--it's manners and language and general good taste. Is it because people have learned to be lazy and it is easier to not impose standards and restraints on themselves and their children? Has our society become so "dumbed down" in every area that people just follow along with whatever is popular at the moment, whether it is fashion or entertainment or politics?

It is a sad state of affairs that we are in today. People want to wear jeans and t-shirts to church and work and everywhere else, regardless of whether the place they are going deserves some respect. They want to use bad grammar and vulgarity no matter where they are or who they are talking to. They want to not bother to learn to spell or know facts or understand math and science. This is in part due to the influence of our public school system, where making the kids feel good seems to trump all, and academic culture at our universities. It is in part due to the poor example set by the so-called adults in our society. What I don't understand is why individuals, among whom there are surely many who would like to see a return of standards and values and morality, don't set good examples themselves and teach their children better. Are we really that afraid of the criticism we might (probably will) receive?

What should we do to stop our society's downward descent? How can we reverse the trends and again have a civilized society?


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"After the Muses Fall Silent"

Caroline B. Glick writes another wise article for Jewish World Review. This one is titled "After the Muses Fall Silent." She gives example after example of either those who try to appease jihadists or those who speak against them and are silenced in one way or another, if you get my drift.

Tony Blair, once something of a loyal friend of the United States, has granted an interview to Al-Jazeera in English, a new broadcast channel of the Arab media network, and has made it clear that the US and Britain should retreat from Iraq. You know, cut and run.

Speaking of Al-Jazeera in English, Ms. Glick writes, "It is widely accepted, even by some of the British media, that Al-Jazeera's Arabic satellite station is used as a recruiting tool for global jihad. It can be reasonably presumed that the English channel will be used to erode the West's will to defend itself against global jihadist domination. The fact that the network is now operating an English channel should send a chill up the spine of Western and specifically British media outlets which will now have to compete against an enemy propaganda arm masquerading as a news channel." Hmmmm. Makes you think, doesn't it? Or it should.

Ms. Glick says also, "THERE ARE many reasons that actions like Blair's strategic retreat from reason and responsibility have gone uncriticized by the media. It is not simply that Western, and particularly European journalists are overwhelmingly anti-American and virulently anti-Israel. One of the central reasons for the silence of Western intellectuals and media in the face of actions like Blair's is fear of death at the hands of jihadists." And you know, I can understand being afraid. We are all afraid of things of one kind or another, and death at the hands of jihadists is a fearful thought. The thing is, we have to strengthen our spines and stand up for rights and freedoms and we have to do it now, right away. We have to do this or we will lose freedom and all that we hold dear. And, frankly, there are things worth dying for. One hopes that few have to die, but to appease ourselves into oppression and captivity--well, that just isn't acceptable and you know it.

Ms. Glick ends her article by saying, "If journalists, intellectuals, social critics, authors and concerned citizens throughout the world do not rise up and demand that their governments protect their right to free expression and arrest and punish those who intimidate and trounce that right, one day, years from now, when students of history ask how it came to pass that the Free World willingly enabled its own destruction, they will have to look no further than the contrasting fortunes of Al-Jazeera and Dyab Abou Jahjah on the one hand and Le Figaro and Robert Redeker on the other."

Political correctness has run amok for long enough that there are people who think those of us who try to warn of how dangerous the situation is are just mean-spirited or prejudiced or something. They fail to see the danger--they think there is no danger. And yet our freedoms, our religion, our very lives are at stake--jihadists want to dominate the world. Everyone must convert to Islam or they must be destroyed. Their plan is just that simple. And just that terrible.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

100 Milestone Documents in American History

There is a website called Our Documents that has a page with links to 100 milestone documents. These include the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, speeches, court cases, treaties, and acts.

These documents cover the period from 1776 to 1965 and are some of the most important documents in our nation's history. The site is not only a good resource for students, but also for the citizen who wants to be more informed about our nation's history and operation.

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School has a website with The Federalist Papers. This is a good resource for reading the writings of our early leaders. The site also has links to documents from "Pre-18th Century" right on through "21st Century" so you can read a lot of other historical documents there, in addition to the Federalist Papers.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day and on it, I thank all of those who have served or are serving in the military for their service to our beloved country. Thank you!

For some history of the day, here is a link to Wikipedia's article called "Veteran's Day." For a tribute, read "The True Meaning of Heroism" by Jeff Emanuel at For several pages of Veteran's Day tributes by various cartoonists, visit Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonists Index.

This all feels inadequate. I did want to recognize the day, however. God bless you all.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006


If you need to know more about economics and how it works and what works best, try reading Walter Williams at Jewish World Review. His archives are here. His latest article is "Common Sense Economics" and in it, he reviews a book called Common Sense Economics by Professors James Gwartney (Florida State University), Richard Stroup (Montana State University) and Dwight Lee (Georgia University). Dr. Williams highlights the main points covered in the book, which looks to be a good read.

Dr. Williams says, regarding the book, "It's a small book, less than 200 pages, that addresses a serious economist dereliction of duty: making our subject understandable to the ordinary person." He goes on to say, "Public misunderstanding of basic economic principles leaves us easy prey to political quacks, charlatans and assorted hustlers. Part I of 'Common Sense' focuses on 10 key elements of economics that I'll only briefly describe."

A further education on economics can be obtained by looking through Dr. Williams' archives (linked above) and reading a variety of his articles. Try Thomas Sowell's columns, too (archives here), for an education in economics and politics. These two men write clearly and with common sense. They cover topics we all need to know more about so that we can be better informed voters and citizens.


Alas! The Election!

To put it mildly, I was disappointed in Tuesday's election results. However, Ann Coulter cheered me up with her "Historic Victory for Diebold!" (Diebold Corp. is the voting machine company, by the way.) So cheer your hearts, conservatives! Life isn't over yet!

Besides alerting me to Ann Coulter's column, my friend, Pop, sent me a link to this article from Australia. Printed in The Australian, you can read it here. Titled "Beheaded Girls Were Ramadan "Trophies", the article tells about Indonesian militants who thought of the idea after visiting Phillippines jihadists. Three Christian schoolgirls were murdered, a fourth was able to break free and run away. Why is it that people aren't understanding that terrorists target innocent civilians? Why is it that the United States and its allies are the ones criticized in the war on terror? One of the things that concerns me most about the Democratic majority in the House and Senate is that we won't be able to get anything accomplished in the war on terror. And if we start appearing weak, you can bet the attacks will increase. Don't people understand what we are dealing with here?

Other articles at Jewish World Review that comment on the after-election situation are "Post-Election Washington" by Tony Blankley and "A Loss's Silver Lining" by George Will. Lots of good reading to give you some things to ponder.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Vote on November 7

In 4 days, we can vote! I hope that you are all planning to take the time to do so. The more people who vote, the more likely we are to have the government that the majority want. Regardless of your political leanings, vote! And encourage others to do so.

You still have time to think over the issues and do some research, on the internet or in newspapers or other media, finding out what candidates really stand for. The more knowledgable you are, the more wisely you will vote.

It does take some time to learn about the issues and candidates, but it's important to know what you are voting for or against. I think it is a responsibility that we have to be active, knowledgable citizens and do our best to participate, whether it is by voting or working for a candidate or an issue. Our active participation is good in and of itself, but it also encourages others to do the same.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Why is Religion Important to Mankind?

In an interesting article called "The Power of Religion" by Will Durant, there are some interesting insights and ideas about what religion has to offer society.

The first paragraph is as follows:

Religion is the last subject that the intellect begins to understand. In our youth, we may have resented, with proud superiority, its cherished incredibilities; in our less confident years, we marvel at its prosperous survival in a secular and scientific age, its patient resurrections after whatever deadly blows by Epicurus, or Lucretius, or Lucian, or Machiavelli, or Hume, or Voltaire. What are the secrets of this resilience?
The entire article is intriguing with its reasons as to why religion has survived. It gives hope. It brings order to society. Dr. Durant, as near as I can tell, is an agnostic who nevertheless admires the good that religion can bring to people and to civilization.