Update: A year ago, Thomas Sowell identified two of the villains: byzantine construction restrictions, which jack up real estate costs, and the Community Reinvestment Act, which "lets politicians pressure lenders to lend to people they might not lend to otherwise" - i.e. bad credit risks.
This sura covers a few familiar themes, including Mohammed's idenitifcation as a true propher, warnings to unbelievers, the Day of Judgment, and Islam's peculiar form of predestination by which humans have no free will even regarding belief in Allah.
Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.
Blogger News Network misreports the story as "Shock Jock Mike Savage Savages Autism." In comments I addressed the site's spin and vented my frustration with what's missing from this fracas:
Your headline is inaccurate. Savage alleges that many children are misdiagnosed as being autistic. That is not the same thing as “savaging autism.”
What evidence does Savage claim? What counterevidence does the NAA offer? I have no idea who’s right. (No, I don’t automatically assume that professional organizations are right 100% of the time. Medical professionals were wrong when ages ago they claimed AIDS couldn’t be transmitted via saliva.) Let’s have a real debate here, folks.
FYI, I have never seen or listened to Savage.
Neither the site nor its source, WSJ Market Watch, reported Savage's 99-percent claim. I had to go to Fox News (top link) for that.
Savage adds some detail here - offering his own examples of the professionals not always being right - but it's not enough:
Just as some drug companies have overdiagnosed "ADD" and "ADHD" to peddle dangerous speed-like drugs to children as young as 4 years of age, this cartel of doctors and drug companies is now creating a national panic by overdiagnosing "autism, for which there is no definitive medical diagnosis!
Many children are being victimized by being diagnosed with an "illness" which may not exist, in all cases. Just a few weeks ago doctors recommended dangerous anti-cholesterol drugs for children as young as 2 years of age! Without any scientific studies on the possible dangers of such drugs on children, corrupt doctors made this controversial, unscientific recommendation.
What's missing here is citation of scientific studies supporting his claims that a) autism lacks a "definitive medical diagnosis" and b) that misdiagnoses of autism are anywhere as rampant as he claims.
NAA should have the courtesy to request the Savage either back up his claims with hard evidence or apologize. The organization is requesting only the latter, treating Savage as if he were intentionally lying.
He may consider voting for John McCain after all - not out of any sense of support, but to minimize the damage to be inflicted on us by the next administration.
I'm voting for McCain for the same reason, and with the same lack of enthusiasm.
I wanted a political D-Day - a new president who would step in and fight a vast array of destructive policies. Instead I have to settle for a political Dunkirk - salvage what we can this year, and prepare for a decent fight with or without President McCain's help one or two Congressional elections from now.
This prisoner exchange nonsense just makes me want to scream. When the released terrorists kill again, will Israel finally wake up and realze that these prisoner swaps only encourage more terrorist attacks? Will Israel finally begin to pursue victory over these evil swine?
Update: Read here the story of a woman whose family was killed by one of those released terrorists.
"One of the best things about the democratic primaries was that horse-race-obsessed reporters rarely asked the candidates about education. Why was that good? Because hundreds of delegates who were at stake are members of Paleolithic teachers unions, ready to pounce on any challenge to the failed system they dominate…. General elections are won among moderate swing voters, many of whom would respond well to a Democratic candidate willing to show he can slip the ideological stranglehold of a retrograde liberal interest group. Obama's right that the NCLB-inspired testing mania is out of control, but wrong to give teachers 'ownership over the design of better assessment tools.' That's a recipe for no assessment, because the teachers unions, for all their lip service, don't believe their members should be judged on performance. They still believe that protecting incompetents is more important than educating children."
Giving the teachers unions authority over teacher assessments is like John McCain hiring James Carville as a campaign consultant.
Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 33, "The Confederates," verses 21-73
Robert Spencer has the installment here. Topics include more details about his marriage to Zaynab, some rules on marriage, and some bad things to say about unbelievers.
Verse 50 states one of those marriage rules: Mohammed may marry women who offer themselves to him, but no other believers have that privilege. Another offers an example of the misogyny of Islam:
Muhammad may go to his wives in any order he chooses, and may postpone the turn of any of them if he wishes (v. 51). When this verse was revealed, Aisha said acidly to Muhammad: "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires."
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.
When composing Wednesday's post I only half-glanced at the linked article that documented the most recent Congressional approval rating. I missed this part of the article:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said President Bush has been a drag on public perception of Congress.
“Any time you have a president who is down so, so far in poll numbers, it drags down city council members, it drags down any elected official — including us, and we recognize that,” Reid said, adding that he met Monday night with a group of pollsters and consultants, one of whom put Bush’s approval rating at 11 percent.
I have some thoughts:
Why would Americans associate a Republican president with a Democratic Congress (aside from his spending and immigration policies, both of which were most prominent prior to this plunge into the polling abyss)?
The soundness of Reid's spin logic could be tested by looking back at the 1990s - did Clinton's high ratings pull up the ratings of the Republican Congress?
Bush has the higher approval rating, as it has been for most if not all of the Reid-Pelosi era - how do we know that Congress isn't the one dragging down Bush's numbers?
I believe that the numbers largely reflect the perception that Bush and Congress aren't really doing anything at this time. The numbers will go up when more people perceive that Bush and company aren't just loitering at taxpayer expense.
Update: After further thought, I believe the attitude described in my last point accounts for the political middle much more than it does for the partisans. Each party's base is, very roughly, a third of the electorate. When the approval ratings are in the single digits or just a stone's throw away, it should be clear that neither Bush nor Team Reid/Pelosi has the support of their respective bases. We know why conservatives are fed up with our moderate President - why are so many liberals fed up with the liberal Congress?
Usually when approval ratings are that low the people want new leadership.
Behold the Taunton River in Fall River, Massachusetts, pictured nearby. Congressman Barney Frank thinks your family would love to visit this scenic wilderness. Among its attractions are the fuel-storage tanks along the eastern shore. The container ships and piers are always a hit with the children looking for a place to romp.
This could be America's next "wild and scenic river," if Mr. Frank gets his way. Last month the powerful Congressman pushed a bill through the House Natural Resources Committee that would give the Taunton River that designation under federal law [the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act].
The article speculates on an ulterior motive:
This is the proposed site of a terminal for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG). The terminal would be located right about where those five white storage tanks are at the top of the picture – hardly untrammeled wilderness. The Congressman, whose district includes part of Fall River and the Taunton River, has long opposed the LNG port.
Mr. Frank claims that the wild and scenic designation has nothing to do with the terminal. But six months before the terminal was first proposed in 2002, Mr. Frank had advocated dredging this not so pristine landscape to preserve its viability as an industrial port. Suddenly, he's discovered its wild, natural beauty. Mr. Frank has also blocked the demolition of the Brightman Street Bridge just downriver from the site, with the aim of blocking ship access to any LNG terminal.
What is undeniable is that as a means of importing LNG the terminal would be less costly than piping LNG from the Gulf of Mexico.
At this time, the measure has been temporarily blocked by House Republicans. My advice is that they make this - and all Democrat interference with lowering energy prices - a major campaign issue.
On the first day of the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul, delegates will discover that all displays of the convention's roadkill elephant logo have been replaced by images of Snorky from the Banana Splits.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama will hold a special pre-convention gala at which he will honor Hillary Clinton and present her with a copy of Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese.
The International Olympic Committee will receive a petition to make jousting an official Olympic sport. PETA will not be amused.
Wall Street will not know how to react when Starbucks introduces coffee-based ethanol fuel.
In yet another effort to improve relations with Muslims, the British government will announce that minarets will be added to Westminster. The renovation will be completed in time for the knighting of Matthew Yglesias.
GlobalSecurity.org has a complete transcript of the speech the late senator delivered before the United States Security Council on January 20, 2000.
Early in his speech, the senator expressed his views on opinion polls:
Now I am confident you have seen the public opinion polls, commissioned by UN supporters, suggesting that the UN enjoys the support of the American public. I would caution that you not put too much confidence in those polls. Since I was first elected to the Senate in 1972, I have run for re-election four times. Each time, the pollsters have confidently predicted my defeat. Each time, I am happy to confide, they have been wrong. I am pleased that, thus far, I have never won a poll or lost an election.
Here he addresses what was then a common complaint against the United States:
They [American citizens] know instinctively that the UN lives and breathes on the hard-earned money of the American taxpayers. And yet they have heard comments here in New York constantly calling the United States a "deadbeat." They have heard UN officials declaring absurdly that countries like Fiji and Bangladesh are carrying America's burden in peacekeeping.
That common complaint was, however, baseless:
Before coming here, I asked the United States General Accounting Office to assess just how much the American taxpayers contributed to the United Nations in 1999. Here is what the GAO reported to me:
Last year, the American people contributed a total of more than $1.4 billion dollars to the U.N. system in assessments and voluntary contributions. That's pretty generous, but it's only the tip of the iceberg. The American taxpayers also spent an additional EIGHT BILLION, SEVEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY NINE MILLION DOLLARS from the United States' military budget to support various U.N. resolutions and peacekeeping operations around the world. Let me repeat that figure: EIGHT BILLION, SEVEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY NINE MILLION DOLLARS.
That means that last year (1999) alone the American people have furnished precisely TEN BILLION, ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY NINE MILLION DOLLARS to support the work of the United Nations. No other nation on earth comes even close to matching that singular investment. So you can see why many Americans reject the suggestion that theirs is a "deadbeat" nation.
Helms discusses the goals of the Helm-Biden law, under which Congress, "the sole guardians of the American taxpayers' money," would release funds to the UN contingent on certain goals toward reform.
Here he defines one of the pillars of Western civilization...
What the Secretary General calls "rights beyond borders," we in America call "inalienable rights." We are endowed with those "inalienable rights," as Thomas Jefferson proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence, not by kings or despots, but by our Creator.
...one of whose logical conclusions is stated here:
The sovereignty of nations must be respected. But nations derive their sovereignty -- their legitimacy -- from the consent of the governed. Thus, it follows, that nations can lose their legitimacy when they rule without the consent of the governed; they deservedly discard their sovereignty by brutally oppressing their people.
Helms replaces the Divine Right of Kings with the Divine Right of Resisting Unlawful Kings:
Slobodan Milosevic cannot claim sovereignty over Kosovo when he has murdered Kosovars and piled their bodies into mass graves. Neither can Fidel Castro claim that it is his sovereign right to oppress his people. Nor can Saddam Hussein defend his oppression of the Iraqi people by hiding behind phony claims of sovereignty.
And when the oppressed peoples of the world cry out for help, the free peoples of the world have a fundamental right to respond.
How did the United States respond to global tyranny?
In some cases, America has assisted freedom fighters around the world who were seeking to overthrow corrupt regimes. We have provided weaponry, training, and intelligence. In other cases, the United States has intervened directly. In still other cases, such as in Central and Eastern Europe, we supported peaceful opposition movements with moral, financial and covert forms of support. In each case, however, it was America's clear intention to help bring down Communist regimes that were oppressing their peoples -- and thereby replace dictators with democratic governments.
What role did the United Nations play in these endeavors?
In none of these cases, however, did the United States ask for, or receive, the approval of the United Nations to "legitimize" its actions.
Helms states what the Security Council can and cannot contribute to furthering freedom - and gives examples of its spotty record in doing so:
The United Nations has no power to grant or decline legitimacy to such actions. They are inherently legitimate. What the United Nations can do is help. The Security Council can, where appropriate, be an instrument to facilitate action by "coalitions of the willing," implement sanctions regimes, and provide logistical support to states undertaking collective action.
But complete candor is imperative. The Security Council has an exceedingly mixed record in being such a facilitator. In the case of Iraq's aggression against Kuwait in the early 1990s, it performed admirably; in the more recent case of Kosovo, it was paralyzed. The UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia was a disaster, and its failure to protect the Bosnian people from Serb genocide [recall the Srebrenica massacre - AKH] is well documented in a recent UN report.
And, despite its initial success in repelling Iraqi aggression, in the years since the Gulf War, the Security Council has utterly failed to stop Saddam Hussein's drive to build instruments of mass murder. It has allowed him to play a repeated game of expelling UNSCOM inspection teams which included Americans, and has left Saddam completely free for the past year to fashion nuclear and chemical weapons of mass destruction.
Next topic - UN threats against national sovereignty:
The American people do not want the United Nations to become an "entangling alliance." That is why Americans look with alarm at UN claims to a monopoly an international moral legitimacy. They see this as a threat to the God-given freedoms of the American people, a claim of political authority over America and its elected leaders without their consent.
The effort to establish a United Nations International Criminal Court is a case-in-point. Consider: the Rome Treaty purports to hold American citizens under its jurisdiction -- even when the United States has neither signed nor ratified the treaty. In other words, it claims sovereign authority over American citizens without their consent, How can the nations of the world imagine for one instant that Americans will stand by and allow such a power-grab to take place? The Court's supporters argue that Americans should be willing to sacrifice some of their sovereignty for the noble cause of international justice.
I will nitpick with Mr. Helms over this point:
International law did not defeat Hitler, nor did it win the Cold War. What stopped the Nazi march across Europe, and the Communist march across the world, was the principled projection of power by the world's great democracies. And that principled projection of force is the only thing that will ensure the peace and security of the world in the future.
Just war is a form of application of international law. Such military enterprises parallel police activity. The Nazis fought the cops and lost. The Soviets and its Warsaw Pact lieutenants, instigating the mother of all hostage situations, eventually let their hostages go - with minimal violence (barring the Romanian example).
What Helms really meant was that international judicial activity did not stop international tyrants.
"International law" is sometimes an Orwellian contradiction in terms:
More often than not, "international law" has been used as a make-believe justification for hindering the march of freedom. When Ronald Reagan sent American servicemen into harm's way to liberate Grenada from the hands of a communist dictatorship, the UN General Assembly responded by voting to condemn the action of the elected President of the United States as a violation of international law -- and, I am obliged to add, they did so by a larger majority than when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was condemned by the same General Assembly!
Similarly, the U.S. effort to overthrow Nicaragua's Communist dictatorship (by supporting Nicaragua's freedom fighters and mining Nicaragua's harbors) was declared by the World Court as a violation of international law.
At that time, two-fifths of the permanent membership of the Security Council was Communist - what do you expect?
Helms called for a UN that woudl serve as an "effective tool of diplomacy" and not a self-appointed government that would "impose its presumed authority on the American people [or on the citizens of any other member nations, by implication] without their consent." Sounds like a reasonable request to me.
Spencer comments on the Koran's views on adoption (given in Verse 4):
[T]he passage is intended to end the practice of adoption, starting with Muhammad's own family. Ibn Kathir explains: "This was revealed concerning Zayd bin Harithah…the freed servant of the Prophet. The Prophet had adopted him before prophethood, and he was known as Zayd bin Muhammad. Allah wanted to put an end to this naming and attribution." An adopted son should be known by the name of his natural father: he can never truly enter into his adoptive household (v. 5).
Why was Allah so intent on ending the practice of adoption? Because Muhammad wanted to marry Zayd's ex-wife, Zaynab bint Jahsh — and as a result of his dalliance with his former daughter-in-law, says Maududi, "the hypocrites and the Jews and the mushriks [unbelievers] who were already bent on mischief would get a fresh excuse to start a propaganda campaign against Islam." So Allah here emphasizes that an adopted son cannot be a true son, and so by extension Zaynab was never really Muhammad's daughter-in-law at all, and there is no cause for scandal.
The remainder of this section of the sura tells about the Battle of the Trench - for additional background see Wikipedia.
Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.
I Don't Think He Has To Worry About Losing Any Of Their Votes To McCain, Anyway
Barack Obama commits heresy before the National Education Association:
He expressed support for much of NEA's agenda - overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act, higher pay, college tuition for new teachers, etc. - but he also specifically noted his backing of charter schools (around the 4:45 mark of the video) and caused quite a stir, including some very loud booing, when he said (around the 6:10 mark):
"Under my plan, districts will be able to design programs to give educators who serve them as mentors to new teachers the salary increases they've earned. They'll be able to reward those who teach underserved areas or take on added responsibility. As teachers learn new skills or serve their students better or if they consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well."
After the booing, Obama said, "I know this wasn't necessarily the most popular part of my speech last year, but I said it then, and I'm saying it again today, because it is what I believe."
Original posted July 4, 2002. Every year a change is made:
2003 Original image of WTC replaced with mini-collage of WTC, Liberty Bell, and the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. 2004 Image of young girl celebrating the liberation Iraq; LOTR quote. 2005 Iraqi girl image replaced by Iraqi voter; Cathy Seipp quote via Samizdata. 2006 Viktor Frankl quote 2007 Oriana Fallaci quote 2008 William F. Buckley quote
Through these fields of destruction Baptisms of fire I've watched all your suffering As the battle raged higher And though they did hurt me so bad In the fear and alarm You did not desert me My brothers in arms
Dire Straits, "Brothers in Arms"
"Then I will live in Montana, and I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck, or possibly even a recreational vehicle, and drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?"
Vasili Borodin (played by Sam Neill), The Hunt for Red October
"'We hold these truths to be self-evident... That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights... That among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness... That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men ...'. And this paper that from the French Revolution on the whole West has copied, from which each of us has drawn inspiration, still constitutes the backbone of America. Her vital lymph. Know why? Because it transforms the subjects into citizens. Because it turns the plebes into people. Because it invites, no, it orders the plebes turned into citizens to rebel against tyranny and to govern themselves. To express their individualities, to search for their own happiness. (Something that for the poor, for the plebes, means to get rich). The exact contrary, in short, of what the communists used to do with their practice of forbidding people to govern themselves, to express themselves, to get rich. With their practice of installing His Majesty the State on the throne."
Oriana Fallaci, The Rage and the Pride
"With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."
Martin Luther King
"There is an inverse relationship between reliance on the state and self-reliance."
"The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden - that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time."
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
"Funny that the same people to whom diversity is a holy word so often bemoan diversity of opinion as divisive. But in a democracy, politics are naturally divisive: you vote for this candidate and someone else votes for that one; you vote yes (or no) on a proposition and other citizens disagree. What's not divisive? Saddam and his 99.96% of the vote. That's how it went during the previous Iraqi election -- an illustration of the Latin roots of the word fascism, which actually means a bunch of sticks all tied together in one big unhappy unified bunch, and not (despite what many assume) any variation from p.c. received-wisdom regarding gay rights, affirmative action, bilingual education, etc. This election was different because it was divisive, which means it was better."
"It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn't. Because they were holding on to something...That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."
Sam Gamgee (played by Sean Astin), Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
"[W]e recognize that we are living in the middle of the most overwhelmingly successful experiment in human history. Not perfect. Just the best place in the world to live in, that's all."
"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered! My life is my own."
Number Six (played by Patrick McGoohan, "The Prisoner" TV series)
"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."
"So this Jefferson dude was like, 'Look, the reason we left this England place is 'cause it was so bogus. So if we don't get some primo rules ourselves - pronto - then we're just gonna be bogus, too."
Jeff Spiccoli (played by Sean Penn), Fast Times at Ridgemont High
"Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."
Alexis deTocqueville, Democracy in America Vol. 2
"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way"
The Sixth Seventh Henderson Prize For The Advancement Of Liberty
On this day the eve of America's Independence Day, the award honors one of the great legacies of the Anglosphere, the Magna Carta, which, among other things, provided the legal and philosophical foundation for our Founding Fathers.