Friday, May 28, 2010

Opening Statement of Terrorism Debate Sourced

Below is my opening statement from the debate last night, but with the relevant sources backing up my assertions.

On February 12 of this year, U.S. forces entered a village in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan and, after surrounding a home where a celebration of a new birth was taking place, shot dead two male civilians who exited the house in order to inquire why they had been surrounded, and then shot and killed three female relatives. Two were pregnant mothers. The third was a teenager.

The Pentagon reported that the dead males were insurgents and the females were victims of “honor killings” by Taliban militants. CNN and the NY Times reported the Pentagon claims as if they were facts, but since the then the Pentagon whitewash has been exposed. US soldiers in fact had mutilated the bodies by digging the bullets out of the females and washed the wounds with alcohol to hide responsibility. Source

ABC News described the efforts of US Special forces to apologize to Haji Sharabuddin the 80-year-old patriarch of that family who lost two sons, two daughters and a granddaughter in the attack -- by offering him two sheep, which is a gesture of begging forgiveness in Pashtun custom, and the article included this:
Presenting sheep is such a powerful form of requesting forgiveness that the father is now obligated not to take revenge, even though he has told reporters he wanted to become a suicide bomber. . . . the incident so inflamed the family, the father initially vowed to take revenge, "even if it breaks me into pieces."

"I have lost patience. I am obliged to revenge my martyrs," he told an ABC News cameraman on March 18. "I will destroy everything I have and will launch my own suicide attack. My heart is burning."

I believe that the hatred and violence from Muslims directed against us is a consequence of our government's foreign policy. Multiple detailed studies confirm this. Experts in the field confirm it. US intelligence predicted an upsurge in terrorism in response to our invasion, and that prediction has proved to be accurate. The words of terrorists themselves tell us that our foreign policy is their chief motivation. These evidences, along with basic understanding of historical facts, helps us understand that US foreign policy is the primary cause of Islamic terrorism.

The question of why they hate us has been asked before and answered by high level governmental planning agencies. In 1958 President Eisenhower concluded that "there's a campaign of hatred against us in the Middle East - not by governments but by the people". He asked the National Security Council to look into the matter, and they gave their analysis as follows: "there's a perception in the region that the US is supporting corrupt, brutal, and harsh regimes, and is blocking democratization and development, and is doing so because of our interest in controlling the oil reserves in the region. It's difficult to counter this accusation because it's accurate. It is natural for us to support status quo governments and to prevent democracy because we want to maintain control over the energy resources of the region." Source

The same question was asked more recently. On Sep 12, 2001 the WSJ had an article called "Why do they hate us?" in which they surveyed "monied Muslims", ie, Muslim managers and decision-makers in the financial and corporate world. What the survey found was roughly the same results that were discovered by the National Security Council in 1958: the US supports autocratic regimes, prevents democratization and independent development in the region, supports Israel's harsh occupation of Palestine and does this to maintain control of the countries' natural resources

I want to review a few basic historical facts to help you understand where Muslims get this notion that we want to control their oil. They probably don't read State Department memos which describe Middle East oil as "a stupendous source of strategic power and the greatest material prize in world history." They probably don't read the documents that discuss how control of the oil gives the US "veto power" over the decisions of other nations. They know their own history. They know what it feels like to have a boot on your throat, and I want to share some of those historical details so you can have a sense of what they go through. I'm going to focus on Iran/Iraq exclusively, but the story is much the same elsewhere.

In 1953 Iran elected a Prime Minister by the name of Mohammad Mossadegh via a legitimate parliamentary process. Mossadegh was a somewhat secular leader and he believed that the wealth of Iran was being exported to Britain so he vowed to nationalize the oil industry so that Iranians could also enjoy the prosperity. British Petroleum didn't like this so Britain contacted the United States about this problem and in response the CIA launched Operation Ajax. They removed Mossadegh from power through violence and subversion and installed the Shah. The Shah re-instituted the prior oil contracts and imposed a reign of terror on the Iranian people. The secret police, SAVAK, was trained by the CIA and they slaughtered and tortured with impunity. After 26 years of the Shah’s violence the Iranian people in a staggering display of non-violent resistance, expelled the Shah and took hostages at the US Embassy. The US Embassy was the staging ground for Mossadegh’s ousting, so they knew they needed to control it. About a year after the fact they released the American hostages from the embassy unharmed. Source

For having ousted the vicious dictator that had been imposed on them by the United States Iran became an enemy. Saddam Hussein launched a war against them, and according to Alexander Haige, Reagan’s Secretary of State, it was President Carter that gave Saddam the green light to attack Iran. Saddam did attack Iran with chemical weaponry and American logistics support. When Saddam Hussein gassed his own people killing 5000 Kurds at Halabja, the United States was so committed to aggression against Iran that the Reagan administration blocked Congressional efforts to condemn the atrocity for fear that it would hinder Saddam’s efforts. Source

The Iran-Iraq war finally came to a close because Iran surrendered after the American naval vessel the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, Iran Air Flight 655 killing 290 people. Iran surrendered because they decided that they could not withstand American war against civilian airliners. George Bush is quoted as responding to the attack in an August 1988 Newsweek article as saying, and I’m quoting him now, “I'll never apologize for the United States of America. Ever, I don't care what the facts are.” The crew of the USS Vincennes were all awarded Combat Actions Ribbons for their service. About a million people lost their lives in the Iran-Iraq War. Casualties might have been lower had the US not been secretly providing weapons to Iran in addition to the weapons they were providing to Iraq. These facts, all part of the public record, are widely known in the Arab world and naturally cause rage. Source

In 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, killing close to the same number of people that the US killed when they invaded Panama a couple of months earlier. Iraq of course was punished in a way the United States wasn’t. Tens of thousands of Iraqis died in the US response, if not hundreds of thousands. War planners realized that if unrest was occurring in Iraq this would hasten Saddam’s exit from Kuwait. So George Bush went on television and encouraged the suffering Iraqis to revolt against Saddam. This they did, and it did hasten Saddam’s exit. But as Saddam’s forces returned to Iraq they began to put down the rebellion. With Saddam now out of Kuwait George Bush realized that he did not want to see the suffering Iraqis succeed. A democratic Iraq would probably be a Shiite Iraq, aligned with Iran. Saddam was someone we knew and thought we could control. So with that George Bush authorized Saddam to crush the rebellion. The United States assisted Saddam in putting down the rebellion that Bush had called for and that probably would have successfully overthrown him. 300,000 were killed, much of it shown on state television as an example to others that might try and revolt. Source

Now, when you're an Iraqi Shiite getting slaughtered by Saddam you know there's only one thing that can save you. US support. They hoped the American people would support them and reverse Bush's policy. But in fact the punditry fully supported Bush's move. We prefer Saddam to a democratic Iraq because Saddam represented "stability" according to Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the NY Times Thomas Friedman. Control of oil is key. How are we going to control the oil of a democratic Iraq? Friedman went on to explain the plan of action. Weaken Iraq so that a future "iron fisted military junta" could come in and replace Saddam, but rule pretty much the same way he did. For now leave him there as he fills the mass graves.

Now, imagine you are an Iraqi that has survived this as well as Bush's invasion in 2003 and when no WMD's are discovered you see Thomas Friedman wringing his hands over the mass graves which were filled with his support. Let me quote his faux outrage. "Once the war was over and I saw the mass graves and the true extent of Saddam's genocidal evil, my view was that Mr. Bush did not need to find any W.M.D.'s to justify the war for me."

So the sanctions were imposed on Iraq, depriving them of food and water. The starvation and death was shocking and done for the express purpose of weakening Iraq to where a new malleable military dictatorship would arise, or barring that the US could just invade and easily topple a government that survives over a starving and impoverished population. Two UN Humanitarian Food Coordinators for Iraq resigned in outrage over what was occurring over the years, which they regarded as genocidal. These are Hans von Spoenek and Dennis Halliday. They say that the US wasn't just blundering and mistaken in what they did to the Iraqi people, but was actively attempting to cause suffering amongst the civilians for strategic goals.

Lesley Stahl did an interview with Madeliene Albright, Bill Clinton's Secretary of State on 60 minutes where she was asked about the effect of the sanctions. Here I quote the exchange.

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

At least hundreds of thousands were killed due to the sanctions regime. Maybe more than a million. George Bush in justifying the invasion of Iraq in 2003 pointed to the death rate in Iraq due to the sanctions and how invasion would bring that to a close. He cited 5000 a month. Almost 2 9/11 sized atrocities every month for 13 years in Iraq, which by the way the Iraqi people blame on the US. Since the sanctions ended with the invasion of 2003 foisted on the Iraqi people through a pack of lies another 1.3 million have died according to Oxford Research Bureau's latest estimates from 2008.

What is the consequence of the war in Iraq on terrorism? George Bush would have us believe that we need to be in Iraq fighting. Otherwise the jihadists will be on our shores and around the world engaging in terrorism. That's an interesting assertion, but where is the data to back it up? What does the data show? There's only one study I'm aware that looks at the data to evaluate this question. It was done by Peter Burgen and Paul Cruikshank, research fellows at the Center on Law and Security at the NYU School of Law. They asked these questions. Has terrorism gone up or down since the invasion of Iraq? What are the trends in terrorism if Iraq and Afghanistan are excluded. Has terrorism directed at the United States and it's allies increased or decreased.

The results are shocking. A staggering 7 fold increase in the rate of Islamic terrorism since the invasion, and their study goes on to explain why this is perhaps a conservative estimate. They note the staggering drop in public approval for the US and how the pool of Muslims hostile to the US has grown by hundreds of millions. Source

Robert Pape is an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago and he has written a comprehensive review of the causes of suicide terrorism in his book "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism". He's examined every single incident of suicide terrorism from the early 80's to today. He finds that foreign military occupation is the primary cause of suicide terrorism. For instance, many people don't know this, but the most prolific suicide terrorist organization prior to 9/11 was the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. This is group is expressly secular. However they live in a region that they regard as being occupied by an outside military, that of the Sri Lankan government. He shows that the presence of American military forces for combat operations on the homeland territory of the suicide terrorists is stronger than Islamic fundamentalism in predicting whether individuals from that country will become al-Qaeda suicide terrorists by a factor of 10 to 1.

Anyone familiar with these facts would have to predict an increase in terrorism with an expanded US presence in the Middle East, that is, with the invasion of Iraq. Not only do the facts bear this out, but in fact government analysts accurately predicted a dramatic increase in terrorism with a US invasion. I quote the NY Times reporting here:

"The estimate came in two classified reports prepared for President Bush in January 2003 by the National Intelligence Council, an independent group that advises the director of central intelligence. The assessments predicted that an American-led invasion of Iraq would increase support for political Islam and would result in a deeply divided Iraqi society prone to violent internal conflict."

Again, this makes a lot of sense to the experts. Michael Scheuer was the senior CIA analyst responsible for tracking bin Laden from 1996. He explains that bin Laden has been very clear about the motivations of his violence. US foreign policies. “US forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990’s. As a result … it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden’s only indispensable ally.” British journalist Jason Burke from his detailed study of Al Qaeda writes that "every use of force is another small victory for bin Laden," which is creating "a whole new cadre of terrorists." Source

So in summary we know that US foreign policy is the primary cause for several reasons. This is the conclusion of commissioned governmental studies, it's exactly what the Muslim world tells us, it's exactly what the terrorists themselves tell us. Our government predicted an expansion of terrorism with an increased troop presence and the data confirms this prediction. Knowledge of the historical facts in my view makes the motivations obvious. Let's do the difficult thing and look in the mirror and consider what we are doing that is contributing to this problem rather than concocting complex reasons that permit us to lay all the blame at the feet of others.

Islamic Jihad Debate Audio

I've got the full audio here, which I may edit if I can in the future to eliminate a couple of sections where pauses occur. I'm very pleased with the way the audio turned out. It was just my i-touch with some headphones that had a microphone. I've listened to just a bit and from what I heard the questions from the audience are for the most part clearly audible. Note that it's an apple file, so you'll need Quicktime or an I-pod or i-tunes. I'll probably convert it to add another format.

I thought it went great though Norm did well. A great experience for me because I can see things that I can improve.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Islamic Jihad Debate Tonight

As mentioned earlier my debate with my friend Norm Cohen regarding the causes of Islamic terrorism is tonight. We're going to try to record it so hopefully I'll have audio to post by tomorrow.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

You Must Grant Michael Moore Some Credit

This is a link I've provided before, but it still knocks my socks off to see it. Here's Michael Moore in the late 90's when I'm totally unaware that children are starving to death at a rate of 5000 a month in Iraq. He knows and he's risking severe criminal penalties to get food to them. It's surreal for me to watch because I think about how at the time I was part of the right wing war monger crowd supporting regime change in Iraq and completely oblivious to what was really happening, which was nothing short of a US implemented genocide. Michael Moore was not oblivious.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Obama Had Promised To Have Troops Out By Now

Remember that campaign pledge to withdraw all combat troops within 16 months of taking the oath of office? When questions later arose about whether that timetable might slip he wouldn't back down. Here's the Los Angeles Times.

FARGO, N.D. — Barack Obama struggled Thursday to explain his plan to end the war in Iraq, calling a rare do-over news conference to insist that he was not softening his campaign pledge to withdraw all combat troops within 16 months of becoming president.

"That position has not changed. I have not equivocated on that position. I have not searched for maneuvering room with respect to that position," he said.

With May 20th having passed it is obvious that this pledge was not fulfilled.

Well, things have changed I guess. Not the will of the Iraqi people. That's stayed the same. They want us out. But that's irrelevant. What's changed is we have not yet successfully installed a stable client regime. A successful regime is a government that takes orders from Washington but retains an Arab facade.

Nothing like getting sold a bill of goods. Not that I had any delusions. I think Obama successfully created an impression that he was working to pull combat troops, but if you read between the lines you could see that this really wasn't true. He had every intention of maintaining the troop presence.

For some reason I'm reminded of the Simpsons "Stampy the Elephant" episode, which is maybe marginally applicable. Bart gets an elephant and Homer charges a few bucks to ride him or see him. When he gets Stampy's daily food bill of $300 he realizes he needs to modify the fees. Now it's $100 to see Stampy, $500 to ride him. As he pounds the sign with the new fees into the ground everyone scatters. But he goes to collect anyway based on past usage.

Homer: Uh, Milhouse saw the elephant twice and rode him once, right?

Mrs. Van Houten: Yes, but we paid you $4.

Homer: Well, that was under our old price structure. Under our new price structure, your bill comes to a total of $700. Now, you've already paid me $4, so that's just $696 more that you owe me.

Mr. Van Houten: Get off our property.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Contrast Mearsheimer with Dershowitz

When I consider controversial topics I really do try and find reasoned arguments from both sides. With regards to the Israel/Palestine conflict it just seems to me that Zionism simply cannot make a reasoned, moral case. But I'm looking to Israel's proponents to try and see if I'm missing something.

Alan Dershowitz is a very prominent proponent of Zionism, but I have to say that when I listen to him he never seems to say anything. A lot of cliches. Little substance. But I don't know a lot of others that even try and defend Israel's actions, so I'm stuck listening to him. Right wing zealot blog Front Page Magazine recently had an effusive commentary of his recent speech, so once again I thought I'd give it a listen. You can find it here. But it's the same thing. He says nothing. "We have the arguments, we need to defend freedom of speech, we abhor your statements but defend your right to say them, these people live in 'Planet Chomsky', blah, blah, blah." I learn absolutely nothing and gain no insight in how a reasonable person would defend Israel's policies towards the Palestinians.

Contrast with John Mearsheimer. Reading the reviews from the right you'd think the guy was ready to fire up the gas chambers again. But have a listen. You can agree or disagree with him, but you have to admit that he's at least presenting a thesis and justifying it with facts and logic. At least you learn something. Dershowitz is just awful. Does anybody actually address the arguments of Israel's critics, like Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tomorrow is "Be An Atheist A-hole Day"

Muslims have engaged in frequent peaceful protests with regards to cartoons that depicted Mohammed. Unfortunately when you have frequent and worldwide protests on any hot issue clashes sometimes erupt and violence occurs. This of course happened with regards to these cartoons. The worst incident I know of was a clash between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria that left 127 people dead.

Many atheists have decided that because of this it makes a lot of sense to be a massive prick and stick your finger in the eye of the entire Muslim world, including the vast swaths of Muslims that protested peacefully. Let's all draw Mohammed. I guess the thinking is that the world would be much improved if we all treated those that think differently like crap.

It's interesting to note the selective outrage of some. The Muslim country of Iraq was invaded on a pack of lies for reasons thinking people know had to do with the control of resources. Around 1.5 million dead. Prior to this Iraq was subjected to a starvation campaign. Maybe a million dead. Muslim nations have been subjected to vicious puppet dictators by the United States for decades. These things aren't noticed. These are things that are going on today and could be stopped if people could figure out which things are really worth objecting to. Instead we will focus on a small handful of idiot Muslims and how they became violent. The speck in our neighbor's eye is a problem. The beam in our own eye is irrelevant.

Unfortunately Hemant Mehta, the so called "Friendly Atheist", is promoting this. You can read his reasons and my objections in the comments section here and here. I like Hemant and really he is a friendly atheist. He may have gotten swept up here by the atheist community. He probably won't see the light quickly enough to pull his support before this incident proceeds, but I hope that he will change his thinking eventually.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Iran Offers Peace, US Rebuffs

In an effort to prevent public knowledge from slipping down the memory hole, let's just note a few historical facts with regards to Iran's nuclear ambitions.

In 2003 Iran offered to dialogue with the United States in which everything was on the table "including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups." The US does not have diplomatic relations with Iran so this offer came via a Swiss diplomat.

The response from the United States was to censure the Swiss diplomat for bringing the offer. But Iran pressed on regardless. The following year they reached an agreement with the EU in which they agreed to suspend uranium enrichment. In exchange they asked for "firm commitments on security issues." Meaning, get Israel to stop threatening to bomb us.

The EU did not live up to it's end, apparently due to US pressure. So in 2005 Iran resumed uranium enrichment.

So it would seem that punishing Iran and excluding it from the world community is more important than the security of the world.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Deliver Us From Evil

This movie is a documentary about a rapist priest who savaged dozens if not hundreds of kids with the full knowledge of the Catholic hierarchy and they did nothing but cover up and enable his crimes. What you learn is that this is not simply the case of a few bad apples. This is an institutional problem.

One victim, Ann, was raped from the age of 5 until 12. Her dad had said while she was young "If anyone ever hurt you, I'd kill them." Young Ann asked a friend what would happen if her father killed someone. They said he would go to jail. So Ann out of love for her father would not say anything to anyone.

Father O'Grady, the rapist, got very light punishment due to Catholic string pulling. He served 7 years, then was shipped back to his home country of Ireland when he'd served his sentence. He lives comfortably today. The Church bought him an annuity to help fund his life despite the fact that he was retired from the priesthood. This may have partly been to encourage him to remain silent about the knowledge the Church had since the Church has the ability to de-fund the annuity at any time.

The rape has crushed Ann's parents, who now have little monetary resources because of all of this. Imagine that they paid good money to send their daughter to private school, where she was raped routinely, and they never got a penny back, whereas Father O'Grady gets monthly checks.

Ann and another victim went to the Vatican to deliver a letter expressing the pain they had experienced. They were denied entry to the Vatican. The Vatican did not respond to the letter.

President Bush though continues the tradition of showing how every law has two interpretations. One for the rich and powerful, another for the poor and weak. Molested children are poor and weak. Bush stands with the rich and powerful. He granted the Vatican immunity from molestation charges. The kids will not be getting compensation for the suffering and destruction that has come upon them.

Hillary Clinton Being a Ridiculous Bully

So Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani born US citizen in a very amateurish effort, left an SUV filled with firecrackers and full containers of gasoline in Times Sqaure in an effort to create a terrorist incident.

Apparently Hillary Clinton is ready to blame the Pakistani government. Here's what she said:

"We've made it very clear that if -- heaven-forbid -- an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences"

So let's think about this for a moment. Why did Shahzad attempt to kill American civilians? Due to US drone attacks in Pakistan which kill many civilians. Who's responsible for that? And how in the world is the Pakistani government supposed to control US citizens living in the United States?

A whipping boy is a boy assigned to a prince that would be punished in the prince's place. The responsibility for the terrorist incident is Obama with his brutal drone attacks in Pakistan. The Pakistani government will be the whipping boy.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cool Animation of Human Migration

This animation tracks human migration starting 150K years ago and finishing at the present day. There's a mirror here in case that link doesn't work. It can get overloaded.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Still Some Principled Liberals

The crimes of Bush continue under Obama, but what has changed is the amount of outrage from the left. For some it would seem that crimes are only crimes if done by Republicans.

Fortunately that's not true of all liberals. Some 2000 liberal actors and intellectuals are calling Obama out. Read their statement here entitled "Crimes Are Crimes No Matter Who Does Them."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

James White vs Robert Price Update

If you're like me you're itching to find out how this debate went. The best we got so far is James White's discussion of it on his Dividing Line program here. During the show he mentioned a review from a Catholic that apparently he didn't like too much. That was here. One Matthew Bellasario attended and gives a slight edge to Price.

I have to once again give James White some credit. It seems as though he thoroughly immersed himself in Price's thought. He always does this, but it's a lot more than can be said of many of his opponents. This makes the debate all the more interesting to me. It's great to hear people actually try and deal with Price's views. It will be interesting to see how White contrasts with someone like Phil Fernandez, who has one line. "Most people disagree with you." Yeah, yeah. You got anything else? Price was so disgusted by the experience with Fernandez that he hinted he might be done with debates. So now he got to have an experience with White, who apparently tried to do a little better than that, and it would seem Price really enjoyed himself. Hopefully this will encourage Price to do more of this.

Also I have to give White credit for taking on a tough topic. Christians think the Bible is the infallible Word of God, but people like William Lane Craig and Mike Licona don't even attempt to try and defend this view. They list their "minimal facts" and steer clear of beliefs that they are committed to, but which they just don't have the guts to defend. This is a tough subject for White and a tough opponent in Price, so again I think credit is due.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Debate Announcement: Islamic Terrorism

I'm going to be debating an atheist friend, Norm Cohen, on the primary cause of Islamic terrorism. Is it US foreign policy or Islamic fundamentalism? I take the former view and Norm takes the latter. If you're in the Detroit area and are interested please join us. I run a secular bible study at and I'm doing RSVP's via that website, so you'd have to register for my group. You can get the details here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The First Ammendment Does Not Grant Free Speech

Or put another way, free speech is not what you think it is. Howard Zinn explains here. Long but interesting.

In sum legally the first amendment has been interpreted via the doctrine of "No Prior Restraint". You can't be prevented from saying something, but your words can be judged illegal after the fact. Note for example the passage of the "Alien and Sedition Act" just 7 years after the passage of the first amendment, which made it a crime to write or say anything that would bring in to "contempt or disrepute" the US government, Congress, the President, etc.

The courts have sustained this interpretation into the present day. People distributing leaflets opposing the Vietnam War were arrested, and those arrests were upheld by the courts. That was 1972. In 1986 the courts barred the PLO's UN observer from entering the US to participate in a debate saying it would harm the US policy of not recognizing the PLO.

I'm reminded of this for 2 reasons. First a hilarious Onion article which is a profanity laced Supreme Court ruling affirming free speech in a recent case. And Bob Dutko's frequent arguments regarding separation of church and state. For the Onion free speech is an obvious right. For Dutko the fact that Congress immediately made religious gestures after the passage of the first amendment is proof that they didn't intend separation of church and state the way atheists do.

I think Dutko and the Onion are partly right, but you need to keep in mind an important caveat. The Constitution is whatever those presently in power say it is.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Is Fred Phelps Right?

Everybody hates Fred Phelps. Christian and non. But to my mind the hostility directed towards Phelps is directed at the symptom, not the cause. His hatred of homosexuality is the symptom. The cause is his belief is that the Bible is true.

I caught Sean Hannity on the radio a few years ago and he had one of Phelps daughters. Hannity says "I never heard from my priest that we're supposed to be this hateful." Her reply was "That's because you pay your priest to lie to you about biblical teaching." She went on to innumerate the Bible's unambiguous attitude towards homosexuality. She was right that Sean pays his priest to lie to him and she was right that the bible expresses abhorrence towards homosexuality. Phelps actions simply reflect a Biblical attitude and Sean ignores the bible when it is politically convenient. Sean was struggling.

Homosexuality is an abomination in the bible, worthy of the death penalty. Shellfish is also an abomination, but I'm not sure that one is quite as important. "Well, that's just the OT." Well, so is the condemnation of incest, which is at Leviticus 28. It's not in the NT. Does this mean incest is not a problem any more?

The question we should be asking Fred Phelps is not why he is so hateful towards homosexuals. We know why he's this hateful. Because the Bible is also hateful on these points and Phelps believes the Bible. So the question we should be asking him is this. Why do you believe the Bible?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Arrested for Calling Homosexuality a Sin

As much as I disagree with Christians on various moral issues we all need to take a stand against this crap. Wouldn't it be amazing if secular groups and gay rights groups defended this man's right to express his opinion. Count me in.

Items Forbidden From Entering Gaza

Israel blocks plastic toys, chocolate, jam, fruit juice. As of March though shoes and clothes have been permitted. That's big of them. Here's the story.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why Is It Always the Muslims?

With regards to the bomb placed in Times Square David Wood asks the question:

"Why, then, aren't we surprised to hear, over and over again, that terrorist attacks are almost always carried out by Muslims?"

He's absolutely right. It is always Muslims. But you must keep in mind that this is only true when we adhere to the conventional definition of terrorism. Terrorism is their violence against us. When we are violent towards them that's not terrorism. That's security or self defense or liberation. This is the reason, David, that it's always carried out by Muslims. By definition it has to be.

So take for instance the Israeli assault on Gaza that killed 1400. Self defense. Even though the pretexts have evaporated. Not terrorism because Israel does it with US support. Take Obama's drone attacks. All those dead civilians. No big deal because we're at war. Oxford Researh Bureau's death toll in Iraq was at 1.3 million two years ago. Pretty staggering. That's not terrorism. That's liberation.

When polls indicated Vietnam would vote the wrong way in a free election the response by Kennedy was to initiate a war that would leave about 4 million dead. When Nicaragua likewise voted the wrong way in a fair election 40,000 civilians were slaughtered during the Reagan years. They did it with US warplanes flying around identifying the Sandinista military so the Contras could avoid them and focus exclusively on defenseless civilians. Today perhaps the country with the worst human rights record in this hemisphere is Colombia. It's also the leading recipient of armaments from the US in this hemisphere. To be a union organizer is to take your life in your hands. Chemical warfare occurs even today against the poor peasant population. But then that's not terrorism because it's done by America.