Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Book Review: Infidel

In Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells what life was like as a girl born into a Muslim clan system in Somalia. She would move to Kenya and Saudi Arabia, but the clan system would never leave her. Eventually she would escape to Europe and adopt Holland as her new home. On page one, Ali describes the brutal murder of Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh in 2004. Theo was shot and as he asked, “Can’t we talk about this,” his attacker shot him four more times and sawed into Theo’s throat with a butcher knife. His killer stabbed a five page letter to his body. The letter was addressed to Ali. And three paragraphs into the book, I was hooked.

Theo and Ali had been singled out by a Muslim killer because they had released a short film critical of Islam. Ali had been questioning Islam and her faith for many years. She had seen some of the worse aspects of Islam as a child and young women. Many of these things would cause her to eventually loose her faith. She discusses the way devout Muslims in Africa and the Middle East treat women. The abuse is in most cases encouraged by Islam. One of the most shocking parts of the book for me was her memory of enduring female circumcision. She doesn’t say how old she was, but Ali says that most girls are five years old when they go through it and she was probably around five when it happened to her. She admits that not all Muslims believe in female mutilation, and not all who do it are Muslim. However, in Somalia, it is often done in the name of Islam.

As time would pass, Ali would live in Somalia, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia. As a teenage girl, she became more and more involved with Islam. As the Muslim Brotherhood was forming, she found herself listening to its believers and agreeing with them. But as she continued to get older, she questioned her faith more and more. How could a religion of peace permit the way women were treated in the name of Allah?

She would eventually flee to Europe and then Holland. She earned a degree in political science and ran for parliament. While in Holland, she openly criticized Islam for the way it treated women. This criticism would later force her to give up her adopted home and go into hiding. To this day she must live with arm guards at all times.

Ali says that in writing this book, her, “…central, motivating concern is that women in Islam are oppressed.” She also argues that Islam today creates a society where every generation lags further and further behind the west. The film Submission she made with Theo had a theme that shows up time and time again in her biography: A strict interpretation of Islam causes incredible misery for women.

Infidel is a very easy read. While it is a memoir of her life, it reads more like a drama one would expect on the big screen. I believe this is a very important book to read. Anyone who believes that those who kill in the name of Islam are corrupting a religion of peace must read this account. Ali lived the life of a Muslim in a society that had no influence from liberal media or conservative talk shows. Her opinion of Islam and her life experiences can teach those of us in the west a lot about Islam.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Weekend. If you know anyone in the military, take a few minutes this weekend and thank them for their service. Regardless of our political beliefs, our men and women in uniform protect us and our many freedoms. They should be thanked 365 days a year. Without them, we wouldn’t have the freedom to debate the issues we debate on here.

If you are looking for something political in nature to read this weekend, I have a new post up at Politics Wikia. Check it out, and vote for it if you like it. As a teaser, I take on former Vice President Al Gore’s marketing strategy. I hope you enjoy it.

Have a safe weekend, and thank you to anyone in the military or with family in the military.

Friday, May 25, 2007

John Edwards Calls for Protest Over Memorial Day Weekend.

Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards has come out with his Memorial Day weekend message. Officially titled, “Support the Troops and End the War,” Edwards is hoping many Americans will hold anti-war rallies this weekend. Memorial Day is the one holiday during the year that our nation has set aside to recognize the greatest sacrifice our soldiers have made to protect our rights. The man who would one day be Commander in Chief has called on his supporters to protest the war during Memorial Day weekend.

In case you are like minded, Mr. Edwards has set aside an entire website to tell the loyal followers what activities would be most helpful this weekend. Under the “10 Things You Can Do Over Memorial Weekend to Support the Troops and End the War,” there are a few things one would expect, and a few more repulsive suggestions. John Edwards instructs us to pray, greet a veteran, and say thank you. I think these suggestions are great, and I hope to do them myself. He also has more sinister suggestions such as “…make signs that say ‘SUPPORT THE TROOPS-END THE WAR. Bring them to your local Memorial Day parade.” Showing that Edwards realizes that this may be just a little much for our veterans to see on the day set aside for them, he asks that you not do this if your parade is on Monday. However, if you are one of the lucky ones who has a parade on Saturday or Sunday, he ask that you take pictures of you and your sign at the parade and send them to his staff so he can put them up on their site.

I find there aren’t words for just how offensive and repulsive this is. Memorial Day is a time we should be remembering those who have fallen in service. Regardless of your feelings on the war, this weekend is not the time to sully the memories of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our nation. There are 52 weeks in the year, is this really the only time anyone can make their thoughts on the war known? Is it asking too much for Mr. Edwards to simply reflect on the sacrifices made by those who died in our service, and the sacrifices of the families of our fallen soldiers?

John Edwards has lowered his name and actions to the same level of Rosie O’Donnell. He has shown he has no respect or compassion for our service men and women and their families. Calling for anti-war protest this weekend is an action we would expect from an activist. Making a political statement against our troops on the weekend set aside for them is not the actions of a future Commander in Chief. I believe many, many Americans of all political stripe will call this what it is, a shameless political stunt that is far beneath one who wants to be President. I hope and pray that none of our Veterans see any of the signs at any parade this weekend. I hope that this action reveals to the world that John Edwards hasn’t left the days of being an ambulance chasing lawyer behind.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Protect your Enemies and Attack your Friends?

With the new funding bill being discussed for Iraq, both Republicans and Democrats are claiming a win. Many Democrats and Republicans have called for benchmarks and timetables for Iraq. The theory seems to be that if we only threaten the Iraqi government, things might go the way we want.

The current threat is if the Iraqi government doesn’t meet certain benchmarks, it jeopardizes reconstruction assistance. While the President has the option to wave these restrictions, the intent of this bill shouldn’t be glossed over. If signed into law, the US would tell Iraq that the Iraqi government must meet certain benchmarks, or the US will stop funding reconstruction projects in Iraq. I think it is imperative that we continue to fight in Iraq without a surrender date. However, what are we really saying to our allies with these benchmarks?

Many Democrats are constantly demanding we negotiate with Iran and Syria regarding Iraq. The Democrats look at Iran, look at its continued involvement in Iraq and its continued UN violations and decide that Iran is a country they can trust. Just today, the IAEA released a report saying Iran continues to violate UN resolutions. The IAEA says it can not assure the world that Iran is pursuing nuclear technology for exclusively peaceful purposes. If only we would negotiate with the leaders of Iran, they would help us in Iraq. How many of the Democratic presidential hopefuls have discussed having a conference in the Middle East to discuss Iraq with Syria and Iran? The Democrats would have us believe we can trust Iran.

However, when the Democrats turn their eyes on Iraq, they insist on benchmarks with teeth. If the Iraqi government can’t pass laws and meet benchmarks by a date set by politicians in DC, then we should stop funding reconstruction efforts in Iraq, or we should withdraw our troops and leave Iraq to the wolves. Let’s not forget that after 200+ years of experience with Democracy here in the US, we still miss the ball. Look at how long it takes our congress to pass laws. However the DNC would have the Iraqi government held to a higher standard.

It seems to me these roles should be reversed. If Iraq is our ally, we should be working with them to get their nation rebuilt. We should protect them from enemies who would assassinate her leaders and enslave her people while raping the nation of its natural resources. Surely the United States can be called on to protect its allies?

If the Democrats insist on passing benchmarks, then let’s look at an Iranian resolution. If the Iranian government can’t prove to the world that it is pursuing a purely peaceful nuclear program in the next 60 days, then we will cut off all economic ties and aid to Iran. I would not advocate using ground forces in Iran, but I read we have three carrier groups near Iran right now. If Iran continues to kill US soldiers in Iraq, then perhaps it is time to see how effectively our military can bomb one country while fighting a war in another one.

The Democrats have taken the saying of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer to a new and corrupted level. The Democrats seem to be saying, “Protect your enemies while attacking your friends.”

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Flag Folding Ceremony

Today my wife attended a luncheon that included a Flag Folding Ceremony. While my wife does keep up with politics, and is in many ways smarter than I, she rarely provides inspiration for my blog. Today was an exception. She was quite impressed with the Flag Folding Ceremony. While talking to me about it, she said, “Anyone who doesn’t believe religion played a large part in our countries foundation is simply wrong.”

I tend to agree with her. Many of our documents our country was founded on contain references to God and to a Judeo-Christian creed. I will concede that there were important figures in our history that were either openly atheist, or questioned God’s existence. I think the ability to do either in our society is one of the things that makes our nation great.

My wife encouraged me to go look for the Ceremony online. I did a quick Google search for “Flag Folding Ceremony” and found many links. The rest of my information is taken from the USA Patriotism website. I encourage everyone to read the link to the meaning of the 13 folds of our flag. It is a very solemn and religious ceremony. Every website I looked at today had a disclaimer that this ceremony (while performed by an assortment of military units at different times) was not official military policy. This ceremony respects and honors life, God, veterans, mothers, fathers, and others. If the military if going to have policies like “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” would it be such a terrible thing if we adopted this ceremony as an official ceremony?

The Ceremony honors and glorifies the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. My understanding is that Islam honors Abraham and Issac, Christianity and Judaism honor all three. The Ceremony reminds us of those who have gone before to protect our rights. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes and read through the ceremony. I would especially like to point out what the fifth fold represents (taken from USA Patriotism):

“The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, ‘Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.’”

If we as Democrats, Republicans, and all others can agree on this, maybe we can solve many of the issues facing our nation today. May God bless America.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Not so "Fairness Doctrine"

There has been a lot of discussion in the media lately regarding a resurgence of the “Fairness Doctrine”. I thought it might be interesting to look at the history behind the Fairness Doctrine. It was once policy by the FCC, why is it not still enforced? The historical information for this post is taken largely from an article on the doctrine by Val E. Limburg on

In the words of Limburg, the “Fairness Doctrine” was, “ attempt to ensure that all coverage of controversial issues by a broadcast station be balanced and fair.” The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the FCC, and was not actual law. In 1949, the FCC believed that since there were a limited number of frequencies available, the broadcasters had a responsibility to report all sides of a particular issue. Editorials on assorted issues were permitted, so long as opposing views were also allowed. Journalists considered the doctrine a violation of First Amendment rights. They felt the FCC shouldn’t be in the business of enforcing “fairness”.

The doctrine also began to have the opposite effect of what was originally intended. Limburg points out, “ [i]n order to avoid the requirement to go out and find contrasting viewpoints on every issue raised in a story, some journalists simply avoided any coverage of some controversial issues.” Instead of many sides being presented, no sides were presented on controversial issues. This became known as the “Chilling Effect” and was the exact opposite of the intention of the FCC.

In 1985, the Fairness Report was issued by the FCC and argued against continuing to use the fairness doctrine. The FCC noted the chilling effect the policy was having and expressed its concern that the doctrine might be in direct violation of the First Amendment. In 1987, the courts ruled that the doctrine was not congressional law and the FCC could choose whether to enforce it or not. The FCC decided to dissolve the doctrine. Congress has tried to pass the fairness doctrine as law since that time, but each President has vetoed it. Congress has yet to muster the votes to override a veto.

Limburg closes out his article with the exact reason a fairness doctrine is not needed: “The public relies on the judgment of broadcast journalists and its own reasoning ability to sort out one-sided or distorted coverage on an issue.” With the number of cable, satellite TV, satellite radio, radio, and even internet sources, there is always someone covering an issue you are interested in. Think Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are too one sided? Tune in to CNN or NPR.

In case any reader may think I am simply repeating the conservative talking points, Newsweek recently ran an article detailing the problems with a new fairness doctrine. Regardless of your political belief system, liberal, conservative, or other, the fairness doctrine has no place in today’s society. The Fairness Doctrine represents an attempt to restrict freedom of speech and calling it anything else is simply not telling the truth.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thompson vs. Moore

If you have ever wanted to see a politician respond directly to his attackers, and pull no punches, you have to see Sen. Fred Thompson's response to Michael Moore. I first saw this video at Drudge. Moore is working on a new "documentary" about the workers of 9/11. As part of his movie, he took some of the workers who are suffering health problems to Cuba for medical treatment. Moore is now under investigation by the Federal government for taking these workers to Cuba.

Senator Thompson sounded in with his criticism of Moore for traveling to Cuba and Moore responded with an open letter criticizing Thompson's stand on health care. I haven't read either of these opening salvo's in this battle. Senator Thompson seems to be a straight forward kind of guy. Moore has yet to make a real documentary.

I have not picked a Republican candidate that I want to win the "Super Primaries" in February 2008. However, I believe President Bush has been too soft with his critics. When the Presidency is attacked, a strong President has to be willing to come out swinging. If you believe the country needs a strong President, Fred Thompson deserves a look with this attack against Moore.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Meeting Dr. Bennett

William J. Bennett was recently in town doing a book signing. I have copy of his newest book, America: The Last Best Hope: Volume II: From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom and took it along with The Children’s Book of Virtues for him to sign. I am a great admirer of Dr. Bennett’s, and it was a real thrill to meet him in person. He was very polite to all his fans that showed up for his book signing. He was willing to talk with everyone, have photos taken, and personalize any of the books however you wanted. I have seen other famous people do appearances where they charge for autographs. Not so with Dr. Bennett. Someone even had a printed picture that he was more than happy to sign.

I admire Dr. Bennett because he speaks with a great sense of right and wrong. If you listen to his morning show, the views he takes aren’t based on Republican or Democrat, but what is right and what is wrong. That is something that is sometimes lacking in today’s political commentary. I don’t always agree with his view points (which may say less of me and more of Dr. Bennett) but I always enjoy his show.

Dr. Bennett is a firm believer that America is a force for good in the world. I couldn’t agree with that viewpoint more. The title of his two history books America: The Last Best Hope boldly proclaims that. I would encourage anyone who hasn’t listened to Dr. Bennett’s Morning in America to give it a shot. I was greatly thrilled to meet a man I consider somewhat of a personal hero. Check back here for an upcoming review of America: The Last Best Hope.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Conservative Book Club

I have a new advertiser on my blog. In case you haven't noticed, I now have a link for the Conservative Book Club. I am a member of this club and have enjoyed the books I have purchased from them.

I have bought a few political books, and some history books with my membership. The way the club works is you pick three books for $1 each. Then, over the next two years you buy four more from them. They send you a monthly newsletter, or you can make all your selections online. It is really easy.

The books I have purchased have been of the same quality or better as you would see in Barnes and Noble or any other bookstore. They have arrived in good condition. I hope you sign up if you are interested in politics or history. And please let me know what you think of the club.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Call for an Islamic Reformation

A plot by six foreign borne Muslims to kill as many soldiers as they could at Ft. Dix was stopped today. The FBI attributed the victory to a video store clerk. The clerk was asked by one of the men to copy a video that showed many of the conspirators firing weapons and talking about jihad. The clerk contacted the FBI. Three of the Muslims were illegal immigrants and two had green cards. The plot had been in the works for some time, and the six had acquired a map of Ft. Dix and were purchasing weapons for their attack. Based on the detailed complaint filed by the FBI, there is no doubt these men thought they were acting in accordance with Islamic Jihad.

Most articles I have read end with the following paragraph:

"If these people did something, then they deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Sohail Mohammed, a lawyer who represented scores of detainees after the 2001 attacks. "But when the government says `Islamic militants,' it sends a message to the public that Islam and militancy are synonymous."

"Don't equate actions with religion," he said.

Not all Muslims wish harm to the United States and her citizens. I reviewed a book in February entitled American Islam which discusses how different Muslims in America see themselves and their faith. It also discuses how their lives have changed since 9/11. However, to ignore the violence that some Muslims in the world feel Islam dictates they use in the name of Allah is to ignore world events today. It does not help that many feel unable to safely discuss Islam without being labeled a racist or being painted as a target by certain Muslim groups. However, if Islam and the West are going to continue to co-exist, there must be a Reformation within Islam.

Is Islam a religion that endorses violence against Israel, Judaism, Americans, or even other sects of Islam, or is it a religion that has simply been misunderstood and manipulated? Muslims must come to terms with how they wish their religion to go forward. Will Islam continue to be used to kill untold numbers, silence dissent, kill and beat women under the term “honor killing”? Will Islam become the true religion of peace where Mohammad’s message can be taught and discussed without fear of violence? I can not answer these questions; this is a Reformation that must be lead by Muslims and come from Muslims.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Pro US France?

The French have elected a new president. One who sounds more favorable to the US, one who is not a socialist, and one who has said the US will always have a friend in France. Could this be a new day in France?

The two French candidates ran on very different platforms. The winner ran on a pro-US, pro-job growth, and pro-immigration control platform. The looser ran promising to protect welfare benefits, and promised to create new government jobs for young people. The French people have spoken. They have voted (by 53 %) for a more conservative president. I think there are a few very important long term implications for the US with this election.

One lesson is obvious. A Pro US foreign leader is always good for us. France has an important vote in the UN. I disagree with our involvement in the United Nations. However, the more pro US votes in the UN, the better for the United States. In addition, the new French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, ran on a tougher immigration policy. He believes that many of the rioting that has taken place in France since 2005 is because of a weak immigration policy. He stated that France cannot become the refuge for, “…all the world’s miseries.” Could it be that a European government has started to recognize the war the West is in with Islamist?

The other important lesson that should be taken from this is that France has thrown out socialism. The Socialist party in France has lost its third straight presidential election. Democrats in our country need to pay close attention to this lesson. The Socialist party has been preaching an anti-US, anti-capitalist, government can do everything message. The people of France have tired of it. The Democratic Party in the US runs a very similar message. If France is willing to reject this message for three straight presidential elections, might US voters as well?

Some of the problems cited as defeating the socialist are problems that might face Democratic candidates for the 2008 election. Two of the examples cited on include: suggesting huge government programs with no way to fund them and backing off core party beliefs while the party power based attacked their candidate for it. Both of these tactics have started to appeal to potential Democratic Presidential candidats.

Many, including myself, would argue the 2006 election was more about the Republicans loosing the election than the Democrats winning the election. The Democrats have made themselves the American Socialist party. They have campaigned on the belief that America is the root of many of today’s problems. Party leadership has declared the war in Iraq lost, while playing political theatrics with those fighting the war. The Democrats need to study what happened in France or they may find the same happening here.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

TIME's "Most Influential" 100

Time released their “Top 100 Most Influential People” list today. In the Time’s own words, this is their, “…list of the 100 men and women whose power, talent, or moral example is transforming the world.” Remember, the editors of Time magazine chose these rules. There are many characters and figures on the list. One prominent figure not on the list is the President of the United States.

The list is an interesting one. There are two members of the Communist Chinese government on the list as well as at least three dictators, Ayatullah Khamenei, and Osama bin Laden. Popular Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama are also listed as the most influential people in the world. Pope Benedict XVI, Queen Elizabeth II, Condoleezza Rice, Chief Justice John Roberts, and General David Petraeus also make the list. I shouldn’t forget Raul Castro as well.

I can’t fathom how the Time’s believe some of these people (like Raul Castro or Barack Obama) are more influential on the world wide stage than the most powerful man in the free world. Not even ex President Bill Clinton was able to get into the list and he is certainly more influential than some of the others on the list. He is arguably even more influential than his wife. I find it interesting to see so many terrorist and dictators on a list that includes “moral example” as one of the qualifiers for the top 100. The man responsible for much of the death and bloodshed in Dafur, Omar Hassan al-Bashir actually makes a very early appearance on the list.

Time magazine can’t possibly believe that Raul Castro has more influence on the international stage than President Bush. Whether you like his politics or not, Bush is the President of the United States. That title carries a tremendous amount of authority, power, and influence. Time magazine should have done a little more homework. Of the 21 political figures in their list (Rosie doesn’t count), 3 are in their jobs because Bush put them there (Rice, Roberts, and Petraeus). In discussing the 21 “Leaders and Revolutionaries”, President Bush is mentioned a total of 9 times in five different profiles. For someone to be discussed so much in the other “most influential”, how could he not be on the list?

The lone redeeming point to this story is the number of people who have posted complaints on the Time website for not including President Bush. Many of the complaints point out that as President, Bush should have been an easy pick for the list. Some argue he is more influential than the actors and sports figures on the list because of the power the President’s office wields. Is there really anyone willing to take up the banner and argue that Raul Castro is more influential than President Bush?

I think Time has finally revealed itself as the entertainment magazine it is. What was once considered a source of news should now be considered with the same credibility as the National Enquirer.