Every nation has them. They come from all socioeconomic backgrounds. They are made up of every ethnic group, mother tongue and religion. Yes, we are talking about the proverbial malcontent.
These chronically dissatisfied individuals rebel against the established order of things because, well, they are cut from that cloth from the beginning. These are the children who were never contented with their own little stack of Christmas gifts under the tree. Gazing resentfully at the gifts of their sibling, they secretly imagined the parent more loving and caring of the other child. It mattered to them if a bag of M&M's was to be divided in half that the candy be divided evenly. An odd number required that the malcontent receive the extra morsel of chocolate.
Malcontents are never satisfied within a chain of command structure. They resent when they are not in control and they hate it even worse when the spotlight is taken off them. There is no such thing as "bad attention" when one is a "malcontent". The show must go on.
There are the productive of society who do the work and then.... well, we have the malcontents. There are wonderful visionaries who compel others with their words to perform acts of goodness, decency and kindness toward fellow citizens. And then, there are the malcontents.
Dr. Jeremiah Wright and those who would believe his message, believe that citizens leaping from windows on 9/11 are the recipients of the wrath of God, or believe that our government is secretly giving AID's to blacks to depopulate the U.S. into more of a white man's landscape, are to be pitied by the rest of us.
Because in the eyes of a malcontent, the world is never enough.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Every nation has them. They come from all socioeconomic backgrounds. They are made up of every ethnic group, mother tongue and religion. Yes, we are talking about the proverbial malcontent.
Posted by tammyswofford at 5:43 AM
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Sodium Pentathol, Pancuronium Bromide, Potassium Choride. This is the most common drug combination used by thirty-six of the states which use lethal injection to carry out the death penalty. Nebraska, just plugs in the old electric chair.
Kentucky lawyers, terribly concerned about the possible pain which might be inflicted on Ralph Baze and Thomas Bowling during the last seconds of their lives, took up the fight. Both men were convicted of double murders. Ralph, snuffed a sheriff and his deputy execution-style. Tom did a little two-for-one number on a man and his wife and shot their young child just for the hell of it. The SCOTUS decision in Baze v Rees put our individual states back on track to execute the most heinous of criminals. And it lays to rest some of the meddling by district judges in what is the business of the state, for the benefit of the law-abiding citizen. Against the death penalty? Feel free to move to one of the diminishing number of states which do not allow a death penalty option. I prefer to stay in Texas, thank you.
In a classic case of compassion where none is due, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel (CA) blocked the Feb 2006 execution of Michael Morales, putting executions on the ropes in California. Mike, the rapist, is also Mike the murderer. A seventeen year old young lady didn't get to blow out the candles on her eighteenth birthday cake because of this particular bastard, otherwise considered worthy of being called "human". Judge Fogel, was concerned that Mr. Morales have a physician confirm that he was comfortably oblivious to his impending death. As for his victim, undoubtedly the last sound she heard was breath escaping her lungs for the last time. Her last moments, were filled with terror.
Lethal injection was first used in Texas. Pearl Harbor Day 1982. Yep, we modernized the process on Pearl Harbor Day. Challenging lethal injection is just the latest tactic by anti-death penalty advocates to overturn the death penalty laws in our nation. I imagine next, they will be requesting pillows, mood music and aromatherapy in the death chamber.
But for me, even sedate, paralyze and kill can be a bit too humane in light of some circumstances. Anyone else believe certain crimes are so vile, incredibly wicked and completely violent that those convicted deserve to go to their deaths with their eyes wide open? I certainly do.
Monday, April 28, 2008
There are distinct impracticalities and political barriers to a ten year truce between Hamas and Israel based on the list of demands made by Khalid Meshaal. Regarding Hamas and the ten year window for a truce, the question must be asked of my readership. How many of you read this news item with an understanding of the significance of the number ten as the designated time frame? Let’s look at the historical application. This will count as “Islamic Distance Learning” for the month.
The languishing pool of political thought spawned by the Carter administration created a foreign policy of suspended animation for many years, as opposed to active and proportionate engagement of our global neighbors in the Middle East. While propping and supporting Israel as the counterbalance to the region, other areas were lacking in diplomatic investment. A pellucid and coherent foreign policy toward Muslim-majority nations lacked practical political interface and at times cultural intelligence. Meantime, pursuing organizations such as Hamas with intelligence and tactical capabilities proved elusive at times.
And from "terror" to cultural "institution" is a matter of transitional decades in issues such as these. When terror organisations diversify their portfolio to create social welfare programs by passing out rice in Gaza, we see parallel political applications being used for maximum gain. Sadly, the man passing out food one day is possibly the assassin seeking out his civilian target the next, but these things can be hard to prove.
For their own part, Israel has faced many external threats from their neighbors which have now become internal threats, from a terror-based organization. Hamas, imbedded into the political scaffolding of the Palestinian government has enough sway to attract either disdain or adulation, depending on the side of the political fence. While supporting legitimate government structures, nations can ill-afford to be supportive of political entities such as Hamas, who maintain a military wing for the purpose of terror operations on an international scale.
Once again, I seek to give you a glimpse into the prism that is Islam. So today, let’s move to the Al-Hudaibiyah Treaty. The Qur’anic historical context for this treaty is Surah 48, The Victory. (Al-Fatah)
Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik. You have already listened to the chant of the Muslims as they moved across the desert with sacrificial camels and swords in their sheaths toward Makkah to seek entrance to a region to which they had been denied access for several years.
It was A.H. 6 and quite some time since Muhammad had fled by night on his fattened camel with Abu Bakr at his side. Now taking his people back from Madinah to Makkah they sought to perform Umrah. Push came to shove as the men of the tribe of Qureysh, the dominant political power in the region, sought to deny the Muslims access to their center of commerce.
It was under a tree, that the men aligned with Muhammad took a pledge to fight to the death for the rite of their religion. This pledge is known as Bayt-e-Ridwan.
"Allah was well-pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance to you under the tree." Al-Fatah 18 (translation by Malik) In light of a fast-developing and potentially bloody struggle a treaty was hammered out between the men of Qureysh and the followers of Muhammad. The recounting of the development of this document, whether Qur’an or Sunnah, provide a practical corpus juris for Islamic crafting of treaty which seeks entrance and egress, and possible concessions regarding land borders.
Now stupidity bores me. But intellectual dishonesty evokes quite a different response. In examining both context and the spirit of the law of just one aspect of this treaty it is glaringly apparent that Hamas has violated the principles set forth in seeking such a truce.
The minute details of concessions in the actual writing and development of the Treaty of Hudaibiyah are extremely interesting. Wording was changed from draft to final copy. Exchange of prisoners was addressed. But one thing stands out: The major concession was a cessation of hostilities for one year. In other words, a cool down preceded anything else. The bigger overshadowing thought of this document was that beyond a one year cool down, there was to be a ten year period where neither party would engage hostility, in open or secret manner, against the other.
As Khalid Meshaal announced to the world his desire for a truce, jeeps were painted to resemble Israeli army vehicles. They moved through the fog toward a checkpoint and Hamas operatives detonated their explosives. So much for using the word "truce".
A lateral conciliatory move for a broad prisoner exchange is certainly a noble gesture. But it must be preceded by a year of calm. And rank for rank, must the prisoners be exchanged. Such is a just prisoner exchange.
Sorry, Mr. Meshaal. But if you are going to play the game, play it by the rules of your own Rasool. The requirements of such type of truce, are a year without hostilities.
It remains to be seen if Khalid Meshaal possesses the leadership strength to bring an organizational stand down of the violence throughout the Hamas chain of command. Transitionary times from open conflict to treaty, either bring leaders to the top of their game or to the brink of disaster. The distinct greater difficulty of leading by restraint as opposed to leading in war is addressed in Al-Fatah 15. This translation is by Yusuf Ali:
Those who lagged behind (will say)when ye (are free to) march and take Booty (in war): "Permit us to follow you." They wish to change Allah's decree: Say "Not thus will you follow us: Allah has already declared (This) beforehand"; then they will say, "But ye are jealous of us." Nay, but little do they understand (such things).
If Khalid Meshaal is able to maintain his men in rank, firing off nary a rocket into Israeli airspace for a year, he will be closer to the negotiating table with the people that count in the process. Until then, he is reduced to chatting amicably with Mr. Carter.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
As the next blog will bring a rapid-fire analysis of the offer Hamas has placed on the table for Israel as viewed through the lens of Islamic political thought and history it is necessary to bring a preface to the blog. This is so that a continuous fluidity of thought can move like a stream, unhindered by the pebbles. This blog, is a "pebble". But you need to understand it to move into the Monday blog.
Please click on this link and listen two or three times to this chant. "Labbaik, Allahumma labbaik". What you are hearing is the echo of what was said long ago by the followers of Prophet Muhammad as they moved across the desert toward Makkah. (Mecca)
Labbaik, Allahumma labbaik.
Listen again and hear the ground shake under the sound of one million voices - the voices of those standing in rank, praying to their god.
Here is a translation provided by a Shi'a Muslim in Europe. My grateful thanks to Anwar, as he just returned from a trip to Amman, Jordan and was kind enough to respond to my request for assistance in correct translation.
"As for the translation of Labbaik, Allahumma Labbaik, it roughly translates as follows: "I am present and at your service O Allah, I am present and at your service." You may wonder why three words translate into so much. Thats for two reasons: firstly Arabic as a language has a great play on words, unlike English that has evolved and borrowed words from many other languages, Arabic has remained quite close to its origins and therefore a lot is sometimes left to the imagination. So whilst the word itself may not translate exactly in English, a native Arabic speaker will know what it means simply by using their imagination and understanding the context in which the word is being used.
I believe you may be looking into the the rituals of "Hajj" because that would be the only time when this phrase would be used. (or "Umrah" which is the mini-version of Hajj and may be performed at any time during the year). So a Hajj pilgrim will utter these words upon entering Mecca and will know that by uttering these words he is conveying to his Lord that he is here and at His service."
*You will see the words "Labbaik, Allahuma labbaik" again in the next blog, used contextually, as we examine Hamas and the deficits of their offering of truce to Israel.
New Swofford website
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Hamas offered up a ten year truce (of sorts....) with Israel as proof of the absolute selling power of public relations guru, Jimmy Carter. Let's move back into the arena on Monday with a little discussion about the art of the deal.
With the utmost respect for our Supreme Court, I now carry a nifty little syringe in my pocket as a reminder that decency still exists in America. I consider it the decent thing to do, to place convicted murderers on death row and mix up the coctail of our choice. Their days should be numbered, like the way they snuffed out the birthday candles on their victim's cake. Yeah, let's go for the jugular on that topic next week.
Possibly a news item from Texas will hit the page. Nice to write about Texans, as the readership here is increasing.
What is everyone reading? I am moving through "Strange Pilgrims" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez which is a collection of short stories. It is enjoyable reading. The author is more well-known for "Love in the Time of Cholera" which I have not bothered to read yet. Kind of hard for me to move into a tale of lost love, followed by hundreds of alley cat affairs; but maybe you loved it.
So what are you reading this week? And let me know in the email what you would like to see on the blog. smile
Friday, April 25, 2008
The Governor of Alaska was in the 2nd greatest state, Texas, giving the keynote speech at the Governor’s Energy Conference on April 18, when she felt the familiar pains of childbirth contractions. Like many expectant mothers in America, she worked right up until the birth of her child. She didn’t have to do so. I’m sure she could have “phoned it in”. I'm sure her medical insurance covered it. However, Alaska’s governor is dedicated to her job of representing Alaskans and doesn’t seem to waste a minute of time in her public position.
Unlike most expectant mothers, Sarah Palin knew her son would be born with challenges. Trig Palin was diagnosed with Down Syndrome through early fetal testing. Mama Bear Sarah had "talked the talk" on the topic of abortion for all of her public life. On that Friday morning, she "walked the walk" and gave birth to a beautiful son, to the criticism of many. We are all entitled to our opinions, of course, but sometimes those opinions border on topics that just are not anybody’s business but that of the Palin Family.
“We didn’t even know she was pregnant until April 7.” Answer: Do you need to know every time a boss or co-worker has heartburn? If a co-worker has an appendix removed, does it affect you, outside of covering his work during their medical leave? Sarah did her job throughout her pregnancy. Kudos to her for keeping us all unaware that she had a baby on the way. Knowing she was pregnant might have distracted from the work at hand, and might have been more of an issue than it needed to be. Seeing that she is already back at work, it would have been energy wasted.
“The Palins already have 4 children. They’re overpopulating the earth.” Answer: I can think of no better people to have 5 children than the Palins. Americans who are a drain on the system are the parents who have 5 children, but have no means to support them. The drain comes from a lack of education in the home, and a lack of inspiration from the family system to go out into the world and lead productive lives. We should all be pulling our own weight, when possible. I know the Palins will provide for Trig's needs, and that he will be a asset to humankind, in his own right.
“Why bring a ‘disabled’ child into this cruel world?” Answer: I am sure that Trig is perfectly able to fulfill his life’s purpose on this earth. Yes, he is “special” ... He’s Alaska’s 2nd first son, after all. I haven’t met him yet, but I know through experience that alot of DS people are inspirations to people who cross their paths. Todd and Sarah Palin just happen to be the people who were chosen to be blessed by Trig on a daily basis, along with his older siblings.
Modern medicine is great, but when it leads parents to make the choice to end their child's life, isn't it more archaic than modern? In the case of Down's, we now know that a full and eventful life is possible. Give parents who have kids with special needs the same respect as you would the gardener who grows flowers that aren't your favorites. You might not like the color or scent of their garden, but you have to admit that they are a joy to others. Leave the pruning to God.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Where is the outrage? This year, more than one million new people went on food stamps, many of them with one full-time or several part-time jobs. For the first time in history, the world is unable to feed itself. Why do you think bell peppers and lemons are now 99 cents each at my local supermarket? Gasoline is likely to top $4.00/ gallon before the Fourth of July. People are losing their jobs at an alarming rate. And the Pentagon itself says the War in Iraq was and is mishandled. Add to that the indecent treatment of prisoners including, as we learned yesterday, the administration of hallucinogenic drugs to get confessions.
Yet, the great majority of the American people are more concerned with an incredibly chunky Marisa Tomei’s performance on Dancing with the Stars than with the mess this country has become.
The Three Stooges running for President have no answers. John McCain, doing his best John Galt imitation, was trying to convince Ohioans, who had lost their manufacturing jobs to overseas competitors, that it was a good thing because now they could all go out and get better jobs. Maybe they could all become real estate agents or investment bankers. Or, wait for it. They could all work at call centers. The theory of globalization is the newest iteration of the trickle down theory and the Laffer curve. You would think that after more than 30 years of uninterrupted trade deficits, somebody would ask, “what do we have to sell those people?” All we have are airplanes and weapons, and don’t look now, but we are losing the airplane market. French, now German, software giant SAP has got IBM, Oracle, etc. on the ropes. We used to export a lot of food. No longer.
Senator Obama probably has some ideas other than Hope and Change, but he doesn’t want to divulge them until his acceptance speech in Denver. The difference between President and Senator Clinton is that William Jefferson’s website was full of policy papers on every subject. Thus, the Democrats are reduced to making history. They will field either the first woman or the first black candidate (Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson and Alan Keyes never attracted enough interest to be serious contenders).
If the coming depression is to be forestalled, we are going to have to do it ourselves, despite a clueless and criminally cowardly Congress and a President with no clear idea of what to do. I honestly can’t understand why the revolution hasn’t started already. Why have we returned crooks, lushes and well-meaning fools to office time and time again? Why have not hundreds of thousands, or millions of us taken to the streets to scream that we are fed up and are not going to take it anymore? What the hell is wrong with us?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Cowabunga! This election season is so exciting! Even Pennsylvania is on the map! Who would have ever thought it would come to this, with Obama and Clinton crawling toward a bloody finish in this state. Yet if we were to splice together the most memorable vignettes of the Democratic presidential campaign and offer it as a two hour special, it would be a sleep aid for insomniacs. Bring your pillow and blanket to the couch! snore
So far our perceptive (translation: lazy) American journalists have moved into significant groundbreaking expose of our candidates and their personal lives. Wow! Who would have thought that John Edwards was getting a $400 dollar clip and a shave? And golly gee, the Edwards home is 28,000 square of connected space? Barack Obama got a sweet deal on a home too, and we ain’t talkin’ Old Mother Hubbard’s house either.
Hillary drags dear old mom and daughter Chelsea along for the ride to highlight the plight of the “sandwich generation”. While admirable that her mother receives good care and is not neglected in manner as was Brooke Astor by her son, it did occur to me that most of us are not sitting on top of a 100 million dollar treasure trove to provide care for our aging parent. And isn’t Chelsea a mature adult? It is hard for anyone to claim being sandwiched by the pressure with that silly scenario.
We have been treated to Hillary of Camelot shedding a tear and Hillary the Magnificent, dodging sniper fire in Bosnia. We endured platitudes and bad attitude with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright fiasco.
Meanwhile, American families across the nation are moving into their parents’ home with children in tow, because of the convoluted lending crisis. Less Americans can afford the “American Dream” and maintain a nuclear family structure. The Adams Family will be the model of the future, with "Cousin Itt" moving in to help pay the mortgage.
Elderly Americans are working as Wal-Mart greeters because it is the only way they can afford their prescriptions. Today I observed a polite elderly Muslim man at the grocery store struggling to push a train of shopping carts back up the ramp into the store. Every week, he is pushing those carts. What bills is he struggling to pay? My heart was drawn with sympathy to his plight. My husband says that I think too much. But will our returning veterans with PTSD receive adequate treatment? Or are those dollars being sucked into the charity hospitals of the nation to provide care for illegal immigrants? What about the strength of the American dollar abroad?
I really don’t care if our candidates are multi-millionaires and live in mansions. It doesn’t bother me if their children attend the best of private schools and travel to Europe for the summer. I don’t care to know the name of their pets or their favorite meal. But I do hope they recognize that many of us are attempting to discern if they have the wisdom, integrity and tenacity to lead our nation. It seems that for the moment, we will continue to suffer at the hands of “Campaign Lite”.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Aliza Shvarts certainly submitted a stunning idea for approval as her senior year art project at Yale University. Abortion as art! What an absolute masterpiece! Who would have ever considered the artistic brilliance of a female student performing artificial insemination with a syringe and fresh sperm donation, possibly from a Yale student down the hall; self-inducing a miscarriage with an abortifacient and filming the results. Sounds like a project which merits approval, does it not?
Yale officials are now claiming this whole thing to be a small misunderstanding. Their student was involved in fantasy art. Yup, it never happened. Yale officials will dig a tunnel to China and bury this thing. Ms. Shvarts is sticking with her story. One thing is clear. This falls in the category of “mental illness by any other name”. Not quite sure who deserves the first trip to a psychiatrist's couch at this point: art advisor or student.
We had a young female admitted to our hospital facility several years ago with severe vaginal bleeding. I cared for her the first time she came through the emergency and operating room. She required blood transfusions and was pale and recovering from shock in the PACU. Sufficiently stabilized, the surgeon believed she would be cleared for a discharge to home the following day. Two more times, she returned to the operating suite with severe bleeding of unknown origin. More surgical peeks to find the source of the vaginal bleeding and another unit of blood was given The surgeon was now sweating bullets. Tests and scans were performed. It was finally concluded that the young lady was instrumenting herself with a foreign object to induce the bleeding. She was such a sweet young lady. Sweet. But crazy as a man staked to a fire ant bed in Texas heat. Psychiatric consult was ordered and hopefully someone figured out why any person in their right mind would put their body through such abuse. Repeated attempts at pregnancy followed by use of abortifacients, bleeding into a cup and filming the whole biazarre episode again and again also sounds like self-abuse. It smacks of mental illness.
So what should we conclude about this woman? We are talking about someone who needs psychological help. Aliza Shvarts is not within the normative plane of humanity with her artistic expressions whether real or faked. Her mother should be frightened for her daughter's future safety. She might attempt her own hysterectomy next. Don't think that nurses and surgeons haven't encountered such things in the past. We had a man in Dallas perform a self-castration, leaving it to the urologist to stop his bleeding and clean up the butchery he made of his private organs.
Even as college officials across our nation threw up their arms after the Virginia Tech massacre and claimed they were not responsible for the mental illness of students such as Mr. Cho, it seems psychosis is only "free expression" within the art department at Yale University. The Yale Daily News was all too happy to document it. Parents can only hope there is not a Yale student busily submitting an art project on serial killings and secretly acquiring their personal photographic documentation. The move from fantasy to an acted-upon reality is only a baby step away. We didn't know Mr. Cho was crazy until he pulled the trigger. And I have worked with enough off-the-cliff personalities in psychiatric nursing to have great concern that Ms. Shvarts be directed to a mental health professional.
Tammy Swofford, R.N. BSN
Monday, April 21, 2008
Segregation. It is a word which retains a high volatility index of response due to our national history of segregation of black American students from their white counterparts. Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title IV and Title VI) gave the teeth of enforcement to the prior SCOTUS ruling on segregation in public schools (Brown v Board of Education), the fight raged for several years to integrate our public schools.
This readjustment continued with much passion, hatred and internal turmoil because of strongly polarized public opinion. President Nixon chose to bow out of the ring for the fight, harnessing the issue in 1970 by proclaiming that the fight and froth should reside within the courts, handled by the states.
It is interesting to even read a dictionary definition of segregation. From the American Heritage dictionary we read the following:
“The policy or practice of separating people of different races, classes, or ethnic groups, as in schools, housing, and public or commercial facilities, especially as a form of discrimination.”
It is easy to view segregation only within the confines of punishment, discrimination or as being inherently evil in light of historical context. Keep this in mind as you continue to read.
The Bilingual Education Act of 1968, along with a Supreme Court decision in 1974 opened the door to erosion within our public school systems. The court mandated that students with limited English proficiency receive instruction in their native language. That native language today, is predominantly Spanish. The encroachment of Spanish as the dominant native language within campus structures of many of our public schools today has had far-reaching and detrimental effects for native-born, English proficient American students. And I also believe the delivery of services employs a business model which is not fiscally responsible to the taxpaying citizen.
Bilingual Education has become an educational tumor. The socioeconomic impact of this tumor is to be counted far beyond the mere dry financial statistics with a state-by-state accounting of funds for bilingual education. And as in all large tumors, radical surgery seems to be the order of the day. May I suggest that the surgical tool wielded by policy makers be segregation?
Education is a right in America. I support the right of every American child who speaks English to enter their first day of school on a campus where all of the instructors, all of the counselors, all of the students speak and learn in English. All instruction is in English, all questions are asked and answered in English, and all intercom announcements are in English. All students speak English throughout the day whether in the classroom, cafeteria or hallways. All notes going home to parents are in English. This is America. We speak English.
Education is a right in America. I also support a segregated school system where children not speaking age-appropriate fluent English enter their first day of school on a campus whose sole purpose is to transition them as rapidly as possible, from the Spanish-speaking campus to the campus where only English is spoken. Are we able to at least acknowledge that adept use of English, both spoken and written, is the key to keeping America strong, unified and globally competitive? While English was an honored language acquisition by earlier generations of legal immigrants, English is now both despised and neglected by many illegal immigrants within our borders.
It is time to reconfigure our school campus structure. It is time for “mainstreaming” to move as a campus-to-campus function and not a classroom-to-classroom endeavor which wobbles along all the way through high school. The non-English speaking student should not move into an English-speaking campus until fluency to function independently within an English classroom environment is achieved.
Education, lest we forget, is not only a right, but resides within the realm of merit. We do not like to discuss such things but I am unafraid to state the obvious. When an “anchor baby” is born to an illegal immigrant at Parkland Hospital in Dallas in 2002 and enters kindergarten in 2007 unable to say more than “MacDonald’s Happy Meal”, our nation is pandering to a parent and a child who do not merit the best education America has to offer. And that best education, is to be found with school campuses which employ OUR native language 24/7 for student instruction.
The truth should be addressed. Many of the illegal immigrants whose children are within our school systems are here to stay. The federal government has failed in their responsibility to secure our borders, and secondarily, deport those residing here illegally. Some immigrants don’t give a rat’s ass to teach their children English. They do support the use of American tax dollars to accomplish the task.
So it now falls to state government working with local school board initiatives to change the configuration of the bilingual education delivery system. We are penalizing English-speaking American students with the current business model.
Should there be extrinsic pressure placed on the immigrant to learn English, teach English to their child to prepare them for a public school education? Or do we intend to continue with the current erosive educational experiment where English-speaking American students have been denied the right to a quality public school education? The discrimination, is against the citizen, in this case.
Is segregating a campus based on English fluency discriminatory? Or is it wise to configure district schools in a manner to offer all students who want the best shot at a quality education the opportunity to achieve their highest potential? They cannot achieve that potential in classrooms with multiple levels of English deficiency among the student body. I support a complete reconfiguration of how public schools deliver bilingual services. I strongly support a move to segregate all district schools into a two-tier campus structure based on English fluency. If you don’t speak English, you will attend the proficiency-attainment campus. You will earn the right to transition to an English dominant campus. In America, opportunity is bound to obligation.
Friday, April 18, 2008
In what is a showcase of the American bureaucratic tradition to continue allocation of funds to failed ideals, may I present today: The United States Bilingual and ESL Public Education System.
I have been rocking along following this story since the blog of February 8th. (Bilingual Education on the School Campus: Putting a Psychological Hex on our Children) Unlike the female ostrich who buries her eggs in the sand and forgets them, I remain in firm guardianship of my thoughts. If I present a falsehood, the burden falls on me to bring clarification.
In reading article after article which in subtle manner expresses the crisis we face, firm conclusions have been formed. The SCOTUS judiciary who set this educational system in motion should have had the letter "E" placed as a tattoo on their foreheads as eternal reminder of the word "Erosion". For it is social erosion which has been their gift to us, in mandating that public schools teach in (what is now) predominantly Spanish, as the bilingual offering.
Three decades later we know the truth. This court decision did not preserve a bright educational future for our children. It has brought erosion on many levels.
We have seen an erosion of strong American identity. E Pluribus Unum no longer rings out within our public schools today. We no longer see the action of many uniting into one. For when there is not commonality of language, the fabric of identity is torn.
There has been an erosion of educational excellence. When reading that our students are no longer competitive against some of their international peers, it is because of an erosion of the teaching environment. Students are no longer taught to the highest levels of English language. The teaching is directed to below the mean of language aquisition in many schools across our nation. How can your high school student meaningfully discuss "The Odyssey" or "The Raven" if approximately 30 percent of their classmates have limited English proficiency? Throw in possibly the next thirty percent with only moderate language mastery and the problem is huge. (Think Texas schools!)
There has been an erosion of equality among educators. Bilingual education has created a caste system much like that of India. Excellent teachers with English fluency, but unable to speak Spanish are the new "Dalits" or untouchables. They earn less, than their Spanish-speaking counterparts. This is a travesty!
There has been an erosion of the civil rights of American parents to secure a solid education for their American born children.
There has been the financial erosion of the middle-class as American parents struggle to pay monthly fees to educate their progeny in private schools. They are not seeking parochial guidance or religious reinforcement at this point. They seek classrooms where English is spoken for eight hours a day.
We have seen (and in some cases documented) an erosion of:
*Equality among educators
*Civil rights for American citizens
*Finances of the middle class.
All of this, from a seed of thought from liberals with compassion but lacking a brain. The idea was half-baked from the start and it should now be thrown to the compost heap of defeat. This seed has not produced public school campus made up of educational oak rather educational mesquite, which are considered woody weeds.
The Monday blog will be highly controversial. Enter the free speech zone with an awareness that what is born on wings of controversial thought is an opportunity to seek solutions to the disastrous consequences of Bilingual Education. And do sharpen your claws. The designated scratching post will be the Haloscan comments.
*Link from a Dallas Morning News Blog
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Traveling in search of signs of intelligent life took me to the Irving Arts Center on April 14 to attend the Pope John Paul II theology lecture hosted by the University of Dallas. The guest for the evening was Cardinal Francis Arinze. The attendees filled the auditorium to hear what this man had to share on interfaith dialogue.
Although not a Catholic it is always my personal policy to listen and glean from others any nuggets of truth which are presented. Maintaining a childlike posture which acknowledges there are things my fellow man can teach me, has allowed me to absorb multi-faceted aspects of universal truths.
One of the truths which came from the lips of this highly intelligent man was that of the dignity of man. Each human being is unique and loved in the eyes of His Creator in spite of our differences. It is my observation that many of us have a hard time accepting certain class of people as worthy of dignity. In the corners of my own heart the dirt must be swept away on a regular basis because of retained bias; some from my upbringing, other areas for which I am fully responsible with none other to blame. Knowing my weaknesses, it is necessary to guard against these thoughts dwelling anywhere but within the periphery of my mind. They must not become predominant. Because racism or ugliness to our fellow man is not just about color. It is what enters into our psychological make-up when we cast any group of people into a universal subset.
But what is to be considered is the necessity of correctly separating out the concepts of respect and dignity. Respect is something which is earned. But dignity is the wonderful gift we extend to our fellow man. Dignity is placed on the shoulders of another man, as a gift from our own hands.
I don’t respect prostitutes, homeless men and people who are pro-abortion but send up a clamor against buying a fur coat. Such are my quirks. But I acknowledge that some prostitutes were little girls who suffered sexual abuse. A homeless man may be an old vet suffering from undiagnosed PTSD. The pro-abortion woman who is taking her stand against killing a fox, while sleeping well at night with the thoughts of legal abortion, may be a good mother to her own children.
I try to give the gift of dignity to all who cross my path. My ability to extend dignity says much about my own character. And truth is always more palatable, when served up with humility.
At the end of the lecture we were given a book of prayers written by Cardinal Arinze. Opening to the prayer on "Humility" I stand guilty as charged, by the opening words:
"Lord, I extol myself too much. I think too highly of myself. I tend to look down on others. I even seem to forget any good thing I have done is itself Your gift. I expect too many marks of honor by people."
These words remind me again that as I honor others and their uniqueness, they receive the gift of dignity.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Did I mention that Mr. McEachin is a very gracious man? He called this morning to point out a couple things:
*He wants each of you to be aware that he is not the sole person assuming the position as an Ambassador within the Army Reserve chain of command.
*The final frame is of Mr. McEachin at the commemoration ceremony for the fiftieth anniversary of the Korean Conflict.
*Mr. McEachin was wounded, awakened in a river and was transported to the battle aid station. He retains a small projectile "souvenir" in his abdomen beyond the healed wounds to his liver and spleen from a grenade attack.
*The mission was aborted at that time for their fallen comrade.
Hope this all sets straight a story which I was so anxious to tell to the readers!
And may I add, God Bless James McEachin!
What you will view on the link is an authorized pre-date release of "Memorial Day" by James McEachin. When speaking to him after viewing the tribute, I was unable to identify the man shown in one particular frame. It is the photograph immediately following the picture of Old Glory.
You need to know the story. The man being honored is Lt. Henry Schenk. He was the platoon leader of a search and rescue mission for a soldier during the Korean Conflict. During an ambush, Mr. McEachin watched Lt. Schenk die. It was also the firefight in which Mr. McEachin sustained battle wounds.
And the soldier whom the platoon sought? He was later recovered dead, having been staked to the ground by the enemy. But Mr. McEachin states that Lt. Henry Schenk is the bravest man he has ever met. Approximately a month ago, he was able to locate a picture of his platoon leader. Lt. Henry Schenk now retains a place of honor beyond the honor in which he has been held for all of these years in the memory of our nation's Army Reserve Ambassador.
Lt. Schenk has earned his place, in this excellent Memorial Day video tribute and it reminds each of us who wear the uniform that the cost of our cloth, is very dear. It is the cost of our oath, pledged with a willingness to give our blood, for this nation we love.
I will include the best quality download. Due to the file size it takes about ten minutes to download on my computer with DSL. So if you click on the download, go drink a cup of coffee and return. wink Should you have trouble with the download on your particular computer send me an email and I will send you a different file.
Link for Download Here.
God Bless America!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
Our former president, Jimmy Carter, is heading to Syria for a meeting with exiled Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal. Remembered as a warm-hearted and friendly president in whose hands peace was the ideal, his trademark naivete makes its way to the forefront again. Granted, our former president did broker a peaceful co-existence between Israel and Egypt which remains his legacy. But that particular road to peace, traveled through negotiations within legitimate and internationally recognized governmental chain of command. “Peace” is the Achilles heel of men such as Mr. Carter, when the desire for peace becomes a love-fest with men who should never make it to the alpha guest list.
Recognizing that even a temporary cessation of hostilities will be as fruit cast to the ground, should such ventures be entertained? What may appear to be birthing pains of progress in the eyes of the entourage of Mr. Carter will provide little strength to bring a lasting solution to birth. This “baby” will be stillborn.
Jimmy Carter will pack his luggage to leave, unpack his luggage on return, and nothing will have changed. But Mr. Carter will sustain some sense of satisfaction that once again, he embarked upon a little journey for peace. Too bad it will only play out as well as the nonsensical literary children’s book that was really written as satire for adults.
Hamas is like other designated terror organizations in growth and ideology. Its ranks are filled with the men skimmed from the top of the pool of university-level radicalized student groups. Jamaat-e-Islaami is one such organization in Pakistan. A large percentage of members do the radical stint while training for their degrees. But the radicalism which is directed by angry men to attend a weekly grind of campus meetings with strategies to intimidate the professors and fellow students begins to fade to a greater reality. As university students leave the campus, marry and settle down with the kids, stances can soften. Monthly bills have to be paid and little mouths have to be fed. Radicalism is tempered by the realities of family life. It is no longer important to shove their non-compliant roommate to their death from the window of the dorm or beat the female student caught exposing her neck. But for the university students who stay within these campus organizations with commitment to the cause, the radicalism is funneled into parent organizations such as al-Qaeda and Hamas. So the leadership represents both top professional talent and ideological distillation. These organizations are filled with scholars with advanced degrees. But they aren’t the ones doing the hands-on dirty work. It is delegated tasking into the lower ranks. Hamas is designated as a terror organization by our government. Sorry guys. But your terror organization does not merit a level playing field until you change what is wrong with your charter’s creed and abide by international standards of behavior.
But back to Mr. Carter who also left us with another legacy. It is the one we wish not to address because it plagues us even now. It is the legacy of his use of a somewhat reticent diplomacy toward Tehran during the traumatic season of the hostage stand-off during the heady days of the Iranian Revolution. The passive administrative posture which allowed for our men and women to remain in a captive state for 444 days cast a shadow over foreign policy decisions. (*Fifty-two American hostages with most retained in captivity for the full 444 days.) Reagan countered Carter’s passivity with an aggressive obstructionism. Firmly shutting the door to Iran after our hostages were returned during the early days of his new administration, this model, which is actually a mirror image of passivity, continued to be followed by subsequent administrations. The status quo is always the easiest management style to follow, even with foreign policy. Yet it is a foreign policy of neglect, which has allowed the current state of affairs. From Carter until the present administration, non-negotiation has been the deal of the day.
Engaging a diplomatic standstill for over twenty-five years has not served us well. We are seeing the fruit of our neglect to skillfully engage a rising political power in the region. Like it or not, Iran has a Constitution, stable governing body, robust military and a mature chain of command. Although unable to turn the page of history back we must consider turning the page forward. The 21st century cannot be adequately addressed by policies of the previous century. What worked then does not work now. Cold War, Soviet era analytical models will not work. This will be a dangerous century.
We are working from an outdated model. We kept the “Model T” in place. Meanwhile, Iran has cranked up a BMW. They are embarking on placing a modern nuclear-capable Islamic state on the map which will compete against our presence in the region. Chugging along in our Model-T seems a bit quaint, does it not?
But as for Jimmy Carter and his trip to visit with Khalid Meshaal? He is stepping into what is considered in most quarters to be an illegitimate chain of command. I hope he enjoys his trip to “Wonderland”.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Pick one selection to read. It will allow you to let your thoughts settle a bit regarding the upcoming trip of former President Jimmy Carter to Syria and his meeting with Khalid Meshaal.
HAMAS- The Charter
Profile on Khalid Meshaal
The view offered from Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Saturday, April 12, 2008
In a remake of a classic children's book, Jimmy Carter will travel to Syria to broker peace once again. I will leave it up to you to decide which children's book I have in mind, but my thoughts on this whole mess.... on Monday.
Presidential contender Barack Obama tells us that he will not criticize Carter, but he wouldn't make the trip himself. If a topic is controversial Mr. Obama just won't talk about it. (Unless trying to clean up the Rev. Wright mess....and his damage control speech was actually pretty good.) In distancing himself from the fray does anyone else contemplate if his serenity merely masks inadequacy? Lord, if you can't comment on what is a controversial trip by a former president, are you qualified to tackle the really big issues that await the next administration? Not quite sure I want the man as the big dog on the porch. And where, oh where, is Senator McCain? Has he weighed in on this thing? Shouldn't this be addressed? But I guess if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can get away with violating the Logan Act, so can Mr. Carter. sigh
Moving on to a more optimistic future event: I have within my hot little hands a pre-release copy of the Memorial Day video by producer, actor and friend, James McEachin. I am trying to catch up with him to beg for permission to release it on the blog prior to Memorial Day. But as he is also the Army Reserve Ambassador for Army Reserve Affairs, he may be jetting to Geneva, speaking at the U.N. or God knows where the man might be at this moment. Last time I caught up with him he was at the Reagan Library. Anyway, it will be an honor to bring his latest patriotic work to you. Naturally, I have viewed it about ten times now and nearly have the whole thing memorized. But with a voice like James Earl Jones, Mr. McEachin has a gift for oration. Plus, he writes his own lines!
Everyone have a nice week-end. And be looking for the Memorial Day video release!
Friday, April 11, 2008
It is with a grateful posture that I return again to write my thoughts on free speech. The topic is discussed with regularity because I retain as a core belief that free speech strengthens society. The free speech zone moved into a free-fire zone street fight at the top of the week with the blog by Dr. Jeff Cunningham, D.C. As with all good fights, we now have both M.I.A’s and wounded from the battle. I am a bit bruised too, but that is o.k. because I believe in free speech so strongly that it is the one thing for which I will risk imprisonment, even death.
So how can we continue to survive the “death in a box” experience provided by the Haloscan comments section? If we truly believe in free speech, there is just a small part of us that has to die. We have to die to our own opinions and make room to examine new ways of thinking. But on the other hand, to exercise free speech we must be allowed to retain our fierce survival instinct, holding onto things of conviction. So it seems important that we look at the things we need in our arsenal to defend our stance and also “die gracefully” when shot down by our adversary. We also need to understand the countermeasures available to us when faced with a strong opponent who comes over the berm with their weapon when we least expect it! On Monday we all came out to the fight leaving our sidearms in the holster and reaching for the grenade launchers. Isn't this fun, fun, fun?!! But to keep it from being too stressful, let's take stock of what we have in our armory to use on this blog site.
Pride: Each one of us should have pride when posting on this site. I retain a distinct pride in the quality readership. Your comments show me that you have already done your homework on the topic to be discussed. So step out with confidence! Be proud of your contribution!
Journalistic Integrity: I trust the readership to retain integrity and post without manipulation or a hidden agenda.
Honesty: Say what you think and mean what you say. Don’t flank the opponent. Bring such a strong focus to your thoughts that it leaves no doubt as to where you stand. It makes the counter-attack of thought better when the opponent knows how to seek out your bulls-eye. Let us pull the trigger for the bulls-eye, fellow warriors!
Passion: Pull out your biggest weapon and site up your intellectual scope for your first comment of the day. If you don’t have an opinion about the post, don’t comment. I would rather see you comment once a month with passion, then with monotonous regularity for no reason. I don’t need the strokes.
Humor: It is o.k. to bring humor to bear. Most of mine is under the radar. Some of you display a wicked sense of humor in my email. Use it on the blog when appropriate.
Here are the countermeasures:
Adequately identify the threat: For example, I oppose fetal stem cell research. I think we are killing babies. Months ago, Tom Gordon told me we are only killing bugs. He considers bugs, what I consider babies. Yes, we are still friends, and very dear ones at that. Free speech recognizes that we are not conceding ground on personal conviction, but merely conceding ground to opinion, when debating politically difficult issues. Our convictions will always move us to action. Opinions can lie dormant for years. So any sense of threat from an opinion diverse to our own should be kept at the lowest threat level possible. If the heat is too much, decline the invitation to bring rebuttal. Just cool your heels and return another day. smile
Humility: This is the hardest area for me. How can anyone expect me to be humble when I am so doggone smart? If you are smiling, it is because you secretly know that this also applies to you! Excessive pride in our opinions, will kill the blog.
Humor: The ability to laugh at ourselves and others is a wonderful way to remain friends on this site. So use humor in rebuttal, but try to keep it light-hearted, neither mocking nor scornful of the opponent.
Again, my thanks is extended to each of you who participated in the comments section on Monday. Generalissimo Cunningham had no idea what he started, but we all gave it a good fight to the finish! Thanks Again!!!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
"Above All" is the Air Force's new slogan, along with new ads featuring space defense. What was wrong with "Aim High"? Well, maybe it sounded too much like the practical guide to the way our enemies take down our aircraft. I hadn't heard the interim "Do Something Amazing." Snore. Navy recruiters are using "Accelerate Your Life" and, come what may, the Marines are "Semper Fi." The Army regularly changes its slogan. "Be All You Can Be." "An Army of One." I think they should permanently adopt "Army Strong" and spend their marketing research budget on intelligence and weapons technology. If I live long enough, I know I'll witness many more motto changes of our Armed Forces. But once recruits sign on the dotted line, what influence do these ad campaigns have on them? Do you think they're humming military jingles as they're humveeing down the IED-laden roads of Iraq? I sure hope not.
In the civilian world, there is the idea that our troops put God first, Family second, then Country. That mantra is probably pretty easy to abide by in peacetime. They do normal, everyday things like picking up their kids from school, shooting off firecrackers on the 4th, and attending the churches of their chosen faiths on Sundays. Proverbs 22:6 teaches: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Teenagers and young adults test their parents' principles and adopt the ones that work for them, while incorporating new ones of their own. Our soldiers are adults, most of whom have formed their belief systems. Still, they sometimes struggle to hold onto the values they held before being deployed halfway around the world.
In the movie "A Few Good Men", the code: "Unit. Corps. God. Country." got my attention. The concept that God comes after anyone or anything is surely upsetting to steadfast Christians. If anyone needs God to come first in their lives, it is our military members, right? I don’t dispute that. However, I can understand how our young military men and women can question their trust in God, if not abandon their faith altogether. I can understand, because I witnessed it firsthand, when a friend put aside her faith after her son died. More a statement than a question: "How could God allow this to happen." It was like tapping a barrel of trust and watching it flow out. I don't think this means these people are faithless, I think it means they're human.
We’ve heard and seen reports about our military members' experiences. In case you missed it, you can watch PBS Frontline's special "Bad Voodoo's War" online. There is no amount of training that can prepare a young soldier for combat. It is an overload of all the senses and emotions. However, God built into us an amazing survival system. The physical body can take more abuse than we realize, and the mental process of dealing with dangerous situations and the possibility of death means that other parts of the brain are put on the back burner. A Chaplain once told me that God is bigger than our anger and fears. I know that’s true, because he allows our brains, consciously or subconsciously, to even put our faith in Him on hold. Do you think He would allow this, if He didn’t believe in us? One thing is sure: He is always there and ready to listen, when we’re ready to talk.
As for those military ad slogans, I have a few ideas. Instead of "Above All" the Air Force could use "You're Covered When We're Called". Marines: "Semper Fi". Hey, why mess with perfection? Navy: "Fire From Afar." Coast Guard: "They're ALL Our Coasts to Guard." Army: "Don’t Get My Ass Shot Off." (Something they could sing while humveeing down an IED-laden road, sung to the tune "Be All That You Can Be.") No? Okay, how about this for the Army: "Don't Make Me Shoot Your Ass." What are your ideas for the next generation of military ads? Catchy slogans are welcome on this Free Speech blog.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
The Democrats are offering up Undeserving and Over-Rated as their best talent. Senator McCain is somewhat quietly filing his nails and watching the show. So I figure it is time to offer up my own campaign slogan and check for an emotional response with a bid for the presidency. Holy Smoke! I might actually have a shot at this thing! So I trust the readership today to let me know if this is reality or psychosis. Could we ditch Tweedledum and Tweedledee and give Senator McCain the run to the finish line he deserves? The man is just strolling at this point. Am I the woman for the job?
First, I considered writing a book. But then I would have to lie. Isn’t that how books today end up being published? In the mega-universe of Oprah if you can’t sit on the couch and cry, it ain’t worth selling. I endured a poor childhood, overcame adversity, ate crackers with peanut butter to get through college. I am the product of a mixed heritage as my grandmother is distinctly Cherokee. All of the aforementioned is true, but I would have to add a cherry veneer to what is a piece of plywood of a story. Each one of us has had both triumph and tragedy. It encompasses humanity. But Oprah doesn’t have time for all of us. So contemplating the sheer waste of time (both mine and yours) to tell you the romanticized version my life I am opting for campaign lite: Just a little slogan.
Anyway, I figure the worst possible scenario is to end up like Kinky Friedman in his failed bid to govern Texas. He is still trying to get rid of those campaign T-shirts and remnants of the political day at his on-line store. You can also purchase a nice Cuban cigar. Making discreet enquiries for a toy company to make me into a talking action figure like Kinky, there is a distinct lack of interest. I so loved the Kinky action figure with his words of wisdom. So there is no time like the present for another underdog to enter the race. Carpe Diem!
O.K. For the slogan to stick (to both your car bumper and into the furrows of your brain) I needed to produce something catchy. Beyond that, realizing our public schools are increasingly churning out high school graduates with memory banks the size of a pecan, I knew the slogan needed to be short. Apart from the shortest verse in the Bible, which is “Jesus wept”, I felt the need to expand the slogan to three words.
Hell, if Barack Obama can sell us on “hope” and Hillary can get us to parrot the word “change” like a voodoo chant, I can certainly do as well. And that now brings me to the campaign slogan. Because hope doesn’t pay my bills and when an elected public servant mouths the word “change” it really translates into the word “regulation” within the Neverland otherwise known as the Beltway. Regulation, silly, means more taxes and less personal freedom.
So here is my slogan!
SLAY THE OCTOPUS!
Government is too big. We started out with three branches. Now we are the proud owner of a gigantic octopus and those little suction cups represent our elected political representatives sucking the lifeblood out of the veins of middle-class Americans.
SLAY THE OCTOPUS!
I will veto the best of bills which contain the worst of earmarks. There will be no Bridge to Nowhere built during my presidency.
SLAY THE OCTOPUS!
I will put the citizens of the United States of America first. I will support all state initiatives which recognize the need to protect the right of the American worker to earn a decent wage. Read my lips. Illegal immigration will be dealt with aggressively in my administration. The issue is not compassion. It is survival for our legal citizens! Read my lips again. If we reverse illegal immigration then public education, the healthcare crisis and Medicaid overload will begin to adjust on their own. I write out a check every month for health insurance. I also send gifts of money (via my taxes) to our local hospitals to pay for “anchor babies”. Yes, I will work to make your taxes work for you, not for illegal immigrants. Let’s take care of the root first, and there will be less pruning for the fruit of our government's compromised stupidity. The root, is burgeoning illegal immigration of low-skilled, severely undereducated wage earners. The root is lax enforcement. I will return the benefits of your tax dollars, to you, the legal American.
SLAY THE OCTOPUS!
I will work to reverse a cultural trend toward victimization as opposed to self-reliance. If the Pilgims had attitudes like ours they would have died off the first hard winter. Funds to entitlement programs which reward reckless personal choice will be heavily scrutinized. We have handed out money to the young and lazy at the expense of our elderly Americans who brought prosperity to us years ago. The Americans who preserved our freedoms in World War II, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam represent our elderly and aging population. It is a travesty that they lack adequate medical care and provision for their twilight years because of lazy oafs without a plan. Your representatives have their handle on the toilet of entitlements, and I will hold them accountable for every single flush.
SLAY THE OCTOPUS!
You now have the campaign slogan. As I am frantically forming my HQ staff and planning my itinerary please let me know in the comments section which other governmental octopi sucker cups we need to work to slay. The guilty, have both names and programs which need to be slashed. Feel free to bring the full force of your patriotism and concern for America to the blog today.
Your Next Commander-in-Chief:
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Polygamist cult leader Warren Jeffs is safely tucked in jail where he belongs. His small band of followers residing in Texas are coming under legal scrutiny and intervention from law enforcement agencies. Fanning out across the property they seek a teenage girl who sent up a cry for help against her own sexual and physical abuse at the hands of a fifty year old man. Women and children have been placed on chartered buses and removed from the compound. Child Protective Services has their hands full figuring out which children need to be placed in foster care. Civil society tries to bring some sense to bear in a sad saga which needed to come to an end quite a long time ago.
From the earliest days of civilization it has proved inherently good for humans to cluster together for the mutual benefits derived from close community. These relationships generally work. But when a leader arises preaching a doctrine of autocratic rule which confines a group of adherents to an insular environment and denies contact with the outside world, I always have a concern. As seen in the story of Warren Jeffs (and his father before him) the influence has been sufficiently strong to coerce young girls to be “married” almost in batches, to the men embracing these crazy beliefs. And while the demise of this cult may be imminent, just think back to a couple of the other cults in the past which have sucked the brains right out of Americans' skulls.
Men are castrated prior to hoping to hitch a ride in their spaceship on the tail of a comet to heaven. They go to a restaurant for their final meal and all order the same dinner from the menu, right down to their dessert selection. Whole families packed their bags and left America to follow Jim Jones. They ended up drinking an elixir of cyanide at the request of their Messianic-appearing leader. Cult leaders don’t bring liberation and salvation but they do bring destruction.
We wonder why these things happen and our minds can’t comprehend, yet the truth is there to be seen. Any family which willingly allows its members to be enslaved to the desires of one man will bequeath to their own children and future generations a downward-turning spiral into darkness. It can be no other way.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
God meant for us to be free.
Monday, April 07, 2008
CSI Texas by Dr. Jeff Cunningham brought more traffic to the blog than any other topic since this site has been in existence. It also is one of the top blogs in number of comments and reader interest for this site.
Dr. Jeff Cunningham and I received a letter of demand to remove the blog with the threat of a lawsuit. This demand came as the result of naming the owner of a necrophilic website which operates out of our state.
After much consideration over the last four days, the blog and 27 comments are returned to the drafts folder. I do not retain the financial resources needed to move this thing into the legal system. The blog has come down. He will continue to run his site. But Texans will again seek the changes in our law to deny necrophilic porn producers the right to build a members-only paying viewership in our state. It is the right thing to do.
Dr. Cunningham and I want to thank each one of you who posted both eloquently and passionately in the comments and a special thank you to other members of the team, Tom Gordon, and Blackfoot for their consideration. Additional thanks to the small handful of faithful readers allowed into the loop, who have been patiently awaiting this decision made today, 27 May, 2008
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Dr. Jeff Cunningham will start the week with a blog on necrophilic websites. Suck in your breath and get ready for a graphic link. After much discussion, I have swung the pendulum in favor of posting the link provided by Jeff. He has been in the trenches politically in the fight to criminalize such sites in Texas. Providing expert witness and moving into the fray against the ACLU, we need to consider his words. He knows his stuff. It will be a powerful blog which you won't want to miss.
In the past I have covered child porn, cell phone porn and pre-paid cards for access to internet porn sites. While not accessing child porn, because I consider it so incredibly offensive, I have in the past viewed other sites to get a sense of what is out there. Having always maintained the "one click" rule, has been a safety for my own emotions. On the site which will be provided on Monday I merely accessed the home page and it was sufficient. No need to view the "movies". As comments come into the blog or any questions, Jeff will be able to further educate each of you, as he has me, as to what goes on in the chat rooms, and other things which need to be considered. We are all adults. Let's tackle this like adults. And while some of you may not be willing to violate a sensitivity of conscience, I do ask that you present any questions to Jeff. I will post the word "graphic" next to the link as a reminder to those who prefer not to take a peek. We need to be willing to discuss what may at a first look appear to be harmless role-playing to see the underlying danger to the women and little girls in our society.
Blackfoot is also moving back into play for the blog next week, so be looking for two guest blogs and three offered up by me. Not sure yet where my thoughts will take me this week. Let's see what pings on the radar. smile
Friday, April 04, 2008
In assessing jihad-fueled insurgencies, government must differentiate between chain of command structures coming into play.
The insurgencies which function by proxy under a state sponsor will be the most difficult to manage. While analysts are able to uncover financial trails, weapons procurement and at times even monitor the travels of the power brokers across national borders, diplomatic solutions which bring disarmament can be difficult. Destabilization brought about by insurgency operations keep regions conveniently weakened to the benefit of the sponsor. The state sponsor which dare not sucker punch the opponent can deliver a back-handed slap via insurgencies. The cost/benefit ratio is desirable.
The strength of insurgency attacks is potentiated by the cascading effect into the civilian population where the operation is unleashed. The trick is to keep the government from knowing from which direction the next slap is coming. Welcome to Iraq. One well-placed suicide bomber at a masjid revered by the Shi’a brings a vigilante mood against the Sunni. An attempted Sunni alliance against Al-Qaeda suffers with the assassination of an Iraqi tribal leader whose picture was just splashed across news organizations showing him smiling alongside Americans. A bold message, sent with a back-handed slap. Our forces entered into Iraq with shock and awe and it remains a tribute to our forces and battle commanders who moved us into Baghdad in such rapid manner. But is it remotely possible that due consideration was not given on how to manage "the morning after"? Political affairs can also be just as tricky as affairs of the heart. Iraq will be judged by future historians not based on the monumentally successful two week push into Baghdad. It will be judged by how Iraq looks ten years post-initiative. That thought, is distinctly depressing to me at the five year mark.
There are insurgencies which function within national borders solely to deconstruct the current government in attempt to set into place some manner of quilted-together republic with Shari’ah law. Such is the disaster seen within Somalia, which functions with a Transitional Federal Government established in 2004.
Somalia is a disquieted place where elderly Catholic nuns are shot in the back for the Muhammad cartoons in Denmark; the unlucky village woman on her way to the city to sell her chickens is caught in the crossfire of blazing old Kalashnikovs; where we lost American men when our Blackhawks went down years ago. The stage remains the same; only the players have changed. Just another cluster.
The Sudan has for many years also sustained an intra-national insurgency. With the existing power structure carefully looking aside and aided by the ineptitude of The United Nations, there are no viable solutions. Beyond the approximately two million souls displaced into IDP camps those spilling over into Chad are on a very real Voyage of the Damned. If the violence came to a skidding halt tomorrow what do you propose to tell the two million newly "liberated" Sudanese? Your wells have been poisoned, irrigation destroyed, springs destroyed, homes burned and we are liberating you? All this, from sustained insurgency operations.
Sadly, in areas where insurgencies are moving via Muslim-majority populations we see a strengthening of Jihad ideology to accomplish operational goals. The Qur’an gives clue to the "officer rank" which is controlling the "enlisted", or the proverbial Grunt. And dissemination of a distilled ideology of Jihad has a two-pronged focus. On the one hand, it provides a recruitment tool to refill the ranks. It is also a means of flanking legitimate government structure, such as we see happening in Pakistan. The deconstruction of stable political environments can be accomplished with insurgency operations. And each successful operation, is able to advance the encroachment of the ideological front into the very bowels of the legitimate government structure. In the end, everyone wants to be on the "winning side".
There is continued need to go head to head with the “Admirals” and “Generals” who stand ready at the planning table. For all is not as it appears, when seeking to mold policy and engage nation building. Isalmic insurgency movements may be seen as a hybrid, but they support a deep tap root in the end. These movements function within a parallel chain of command structure and the true power is wielded behind the scenes. Certain men stand ready to perpetuate a Jihad without end. Isha’Allah. (Allah knows best.)
Thursday, April 03, 2008
In looking at the topic of being a martyr you will read several accounts below from Hadith literature to understand how martyrdom is both rallying cry and an action of eternal merit for the Muslim. Hadith is a recounting of things of importance regarding early Islamic life. These examples today, are directly from the e book by Shamil Basaev. One of the weaknesses of his writing is to not give specific reference to the Hadith. For my lack of time to track these references, I apologize. But here we go anyway!
“When Al-Muhajir noticed that Muslims lost many of their Muhajids killed, he firmly decided to sacrifice himself thus trying to attain favor from Allah. He rubbed the mixture for embalming the dead all over his body, wrapped himself in a shroud and issued his last orders to his brother Ar-Rabia.... Al-Mujahir drank some water and said, ‘I swear to Allah, I had had a drink of water not because I feel thirsty but because I followed the call of my commander….’ And then he unsheathed his sword and courageously rushed to the battle....Al-Mujahir fell in the battle as a Shaheed (martyr). God is Great! (Allah Akbar!)”
Said used to say that Abu Ubaida once said when he was trying to inspire Muslims before a battle:
“O servants of Allah! Help Allah and he will come to help you by sending you steadfastness. Oh servants of Allah! Be steadfast for steadfastness is the means of salvation from unbelief, and it will help you gain favor from Allah and avoid disgrace. So aim your spears at the enemy and cover yourselves with shields. Do not be saying anything but mentiong the Most High and Almighty Allah in your souls for as long as I am in command of you, with the permission of Allah.”
“Prophet, (PBUH) said, ‘The ones who were sincerely asking Allah Almighty to let them die for the Faith, Allah will bring to the state of Shaheeds (Martyrs) even if they die in their beds.’”
(Blog note: This Hadith is from the work of Muslim, born in the city of Nishapur, which is in Iran, near Meshed.)
When during one of the battles Muslims were in a critical situation, Ikrima dismounted, broke the scabbard of his sword and rushed into the middle where the enemies were. Khalid ibn Al-Walid rushed to him with the words: “Don’t do that Ikrima! If you get killed, it will be a great loss for the Muslims.” Ikrima answered him, “Leave me alone, Khalid.... So, am I supposed to be running away from the Byzantines today?” Then he called to the Muslims, “Who will take an oath to face certain death?” Ikrima’s uncle, Al-Haris Ibn Hisham and Dirar Ibn Al-Azwar, along with four hundred Muslims, swore to face death. They engaged in a fierce battle with the enemies for Khalid’s command post and they historically defended it.
Muslims believe what is written in the Qur’an regarding the watchfulness of an eternal God over both their actions and their deeds. At the Day of Requittal the angels bear witness to the life of a man. (Al-Infitar 10-12) Surah 83 speaks of Sijeen- a prison record, the written record of hell. (Al-Mutaffifin 7,8) Naturally, you do not desire to end up in Al-Hutamah with the columns of fire that breathe like bellows. ("When they are cast in, they will hear the drawing in of its breath as it blazes forth." Al-Mulk 7)
You want to end up in the "win column" with the record mentioned in Al-Mutaffifin 18-Illeyeen, or the register of the righteous ones. Gaining Paradise is a tricky thing. But one sure way to gain Paradise is to become a Shaheed in the Way of Allah. Plenty of motivation, guys. Press that button on a suicide vest.... Paradise awaits.
Men today, at this moment, are being groomed for martyrdom operations. Just as in the battles of years gone by they take the oath, bow to pray one last time, and then they willingly cross over into eternity. Unfortunately, the rules of the game have changed. They take civilians with them. The line has moved from seeking out a worthy opponent to targeting civilian vulnerability. And that fact alone, both saddens and frightens me.
“Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah; so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least.” (The Clans, 23)
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Allah says, “Wherever you are, death will overtake you, though you are in lofty towers.”
The Women, 78
September 11, 2001
19 well-trained men and 2,998 victims.
Praise be to Allah, who revealed the Book, controls the clouds, defeats factionalism, and says in His Book: “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war).”
Fatwa signed by Shaykh Usama Bin-Muhammad Bin Ladin, February 1998.
It is time to consider Jihad. We will not be speaking of Jihad as a man’s struggle within himself nor Jihad of the pen or tongue. The jihad of the scholar, such as mentioned in the Hamas Covenant is within a different scaffolding of thought. Let’s ponder “the other Jihad”, the one which took the lives of our citizens on 9/11. You must understand Jihad to understand the passions driving some Islamic insurgencies.
Let’s examine Jihad as described by a man who armed himself not with pen or debate but with weapons of war. Shamil Basaev rose through the ranks training a formidable military insurgency in Chechnya. We will move forward in a three-burst squeeze of the trigger to hit the bulls-eye. So line up the cross-hairs of your intellectual scope, and let’s go!
“Praise God, the Lord of the Worlds, Who created us Muslims and Who Blessed us with Jihad on His Straight Path.” Shamil Basaev March 2004
*Jihad as Duty:
“The Most High says, ‘Fight then in Allah’s way; this is not imposed on you except in relation to yourself, and rouse the believers to ardor, maybe Allah will restrain the fighting of those who disbelieve and Allah is strongest in prowess and strongest to give an exemplary punishment.’” (The Women, 84)
“A Mujahid admires the call to duty that Abu Talha had.”
Shamil Basaev writes further, “.... he (Abu Talha) started getting ready for a difficult march, his sons said to him, ‘May Allah have mercy on you Father. You are a man of very old age. You used to take part in marches with the Messenger of Allah, Abu Baqr and Umar. The time has come for your to rest, and we will be fighting instead.’” He replied to them, “Verily, the Most High and Almighty Allah says, ‘Rise for Jihad both unburdened one and the ones with burden.’ It means that everybody is obligated to participate in Jihad, including the elderly and the youth, and no age limits were determined for us. And in that march Abu Talha became a Shaheed (a Martyr), God Willing (Insha Allah)."
Please note that Shamil Basaev placed no age limits on the call to duty based on selected Hadith literature. He states, "Once he started a Jihad, a Mujahid goes to the very end. His motto is VICTORY OR PARADISE." Although this motto sounds very good, reality paints more graphic portrait. Presented as a "win-win" situation, all men know that war produces both victor and vanquished. But for the Islamic jihadist, victory is not counted within the confines of the temporal battlespace rather the eternal scheme of things. Our American military combatant wishes to live to fight another day. For the Muslim, the black battle standard of Khalid bin Walid and the cries of the warriors still echo from the past. That there is no sword but Dhu'l Fiqar, still rings out in the battles which rage today.
Under Soviet Communism, the fight was to maintain a restrictive secular system devoid of a god. Within our democracy the fight essentially remains for “mom and apple pie”; to preserve the freedoms we enjoy within a somewhat open societal structure. For many Islamic insurgents, the call to duty also includes the fight for Allah. So while duty to government propels the uniformed combatant who has taken an oath to defend and protect, we must be cognizant that an additional passionate response is at work within the mind of an Islamic insurgent- fighting for Allah - as duty to Al-Malik. In studying these movements, I have noted an interesting thing. The scholars and clerics who bring the chant of war, rarely lead from the operational front lines. So you have men such as the cleric Abu Bakar Bashir who stir up the poor young lads of the village to beat an infidel, any convenient infidel tourist, for nudity on beaches in far away Australia; or cheering on the suicide bomber who creates havoc within a night club in Bali. Make no mistake. For these men, the fight is for Allah. It is both mandated and executed in the name of God.
Jihad: For Pride
"....a child's scar, which he sustained because his father suffered a defeat, will remain for the rest of his life." Shamil Basaev
"For the Arab, to make a promise was to run into debt. He would never grudge the death of his children or destruction of his household...."
Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpurl Islamic University of Al-Madina Al-Munawarra
"With the last drop of blood of my last child I will defend this land."
*We cannot ignore the issue of cultural pride when viewing Jihad.
Jihad literature written by scholars is chock-full of historical accounts of the battles of Muhammad and his men, their strategies, reasons for their wins and losses. The life blood of jihad can be found in these accounts, whether telling of Khalid bin Al-Waleed or merely the story of the blind Muslim waving the battle standard as the Muslim troops advanced on the field.
Greatly tied into Jihad is also the strong sense of root identity with the land, such as in Afghanistan or areas which sustain a Muslim-majority demographic. Oral traditions coupled with tribal lineages that date back centuries are things which are hard for Americans to understand, with our own rather short national identity on the historical timeline.
Jihad: For Eternal Merit
Duty to Allah and cohesive pride can provide the mental armor for battle. But eternal merit snaps the backbone into place and displaces fear. The theme of eternal merit dovetails into that of choosing purposeful martyrdom to achieve battlefield superiority. Eternal merit, fuels the passion of many. Tomorrow the blog will give historical vignettes from early Islamic battles with a tie-in to how martyrdom is viewed favorably and death as a Shaheed is but the bridge to Paradise.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Inscriptions on Chechen daggers say: "Do not unsheathe with no need, do not sheathe without a deed."
“A Mujahid is perfecting the beauty of his strikes.”
“For the weapon is created not to accompany speeches.”
The nature of operational warfare has changed dramatically over the last one hundred years but one thing is certain. Appropriating the chess rule of controlling the center will no longer suffice when considering the movement of insurgency-based operations into play within vulnerable geographic regions. A strongly developed insurgency in Chechnya continues to provide a model which follows rules of engagement set into place in the seventh century as the nascent Islamic state began to move forward in stunning military conquest in the years following the death of Muhammad. In the truest historical sense, early Arabian Peninsula warfare tactics, whether against caravan or clan, are well-suited for crossover insurgency-based operations of an under-equipped force against a more robust military opponent.
Chechnya has been a proving ground for perfecting this type of operation because of the topography of hills and ravines. More fearful to consider is how urban cities now also function as desirable “hills and ravines” for insurgency tactical advantage. Falling under the umbrella of another term, urban guerilla warfare, our troops now train diligently for these scenarios. While it seems far removed from America this training is crucial for our troops. So let’s move into the mind of the Mujahid in Chechnya and see how the game is mentally tackled. Things in quotation marks are from the book by Abdallah Shamil Abu Idris. (Shamil Basaev) Let's take a glance at the doctrine of adaptability today.
“Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘A believer will not be stung twice from the same burrow.’”
“A true mujahid remembers that a combat in the winter is different from a combat in the summer. When engaging a combat, he always chooses the right moment.”
“You cannot fight in the mountains the same way you are fighting on a plain. Evaluate everything around you and choose the best way to fight.”
“At times a Mujahid is like streaming water that flows around obstacles that are getting in its way. Sometimes it happens that resistance leads to inevitable death, and the Mujahid adapts himself to the circumstances....The weakest stream gains power little by little from meeting with other rivers.”
“The mujahid uses the tactics of his glorious ancestors” ‘the bee tactics’. Just like bees, the Mujahideen constantly circle around the enemy and dealing weak yet multiple and regular blows to any spot that there is available.”
"A Mujahid will never start picking an unripe fruit."
"The skill to catch the adversary by surprise is a prerequisite of victory in war."
*One of the strengths of insurgency is adaptability against the greater force. The reference to not being stung twice from the same burrow, is just one of many such type of statements that are thematic as to the adaptable nature of operations.
*The second and third statements regarding operational considerations based on climate and terrain is gleaned from any “Warfighting 101” class. Only a dummy declares their war initiative in twenty below zero weather before the first thaw of spring. Rolling the tanks across Iraq is in a different operational class then securing mountainous areas within Afghanistan. Mountains are perfectly suited for insurgency operations. Again, adaptability at work.
*Like it or not, bloodline alliances still come into play within Islamic insurgencies. While unable to tell you anything significant regarding my own family tree beyond the early twentieth century, tribal leaders within Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas trace their bloodline back through the centuries. Different family clans have formed alliances spanning decades. This allows for some of the various insurgency streams to flow together because of the psychological nourishment provided from commonality of ancestry and culture.
*The “bee tactic” is one which seeks an element of stinging surprise allowing a smaller battlefield success to create a stronger secondary psychological impact on the combatant and civilians. There has been a continuous adaptability of tactics in Iraq and Afghanistan. Part of the reason why we have seen a downward spiral in some insurgency operations is due to a willingness to adapt operations to take advantage of the Western psychological make-up. We hold our women and our children in high regard and would never consider using them for cannon fodder. Insurgency operations will use available means, as seen in the attack discussed on this link.
*Insurgency also depends on timing of the strike for secondary benefit. You will observe an increase in insurgency activity immediately prior to political milestones in Iraq. In correlation, a heightened threat level exists for our troops dependent upon events in the U.S.A. The insurgency timing of strikes can be used to derail delicate diplomatic maneuvers between governments as with the upcoming NATO summit.
*Early Islamic battles also depended upon classic "element of surprise" to mount an attack of lesser numerical strength. Insurgencies also receive their lifeblood from surprise attacks which when successfully mounted, serve as a recruiting arm for subsequent ventures.
The challenge of dealing with an insurgency force is not only to cut off the physical land bridges and financial streams of support, but to think a step ahead in the game. Insurgencies depend on adaptability to the environment for survival. The on-the-ground networking capabilities are good. Tactics evolve, timing of attacks are carefully considered, and secondary psychological impacts are weighed. The game is played in complicated manner. And just as in the game of chess we need to remember the hard truth: a cleverly placed pawn, can capture the Queen.