Sunday, October 29, 2006

No Khalwat For You!

Randall Barnhart, 62, and his wife Carole, 61, were rudely awakened at 2 AM by shouts in Malay and pounding on the door of their rented condominium unit in Langkawi, Malaysia. When Barnhart cracked the door, he found six Malays dressed in blue jackets with a government department crest on their breast pockets. One produced identification from the Islamic Affairs Department.

"You are Muslim, we are coming in," they cried. Mr Barnhart replied, "I told them we were Christians." The Islamic Affairs agents accused the Barnharts of khalwat, close proximity, which Islam forbids between unmarried people of opposite sex. The Barnharts were certainly guilty of close proximity, having been married for 42 years.

The Muslims demanded to see his "woman," then their marriage license. Barnhart recounts, "I told them I did not have it on me... Next, they demanded to see our passports, so I showed them. They took down our passport numbers and noted that we were from the US. Then one said 'thank you' and shook my hand."

Barnhart made a complaint to the US embassy which reached Malaysian Tourism Minister Adnan Tengku Mansor, who promised to look into it. Said his spokesman, "The minister does not like things like this happening to tourists as it spoils the country's image."

Welcome to the Tora Bora Hilton

Gul Agha Sherzai, the black-bearded warlord turned governor of the Afghanistan province of Nangahar, plans to build a multi-million dollar hotel development overlooking Tora Bora, Osama Bin Laden's infamous bastion. Sherzai thinks he can leverage the upcoming publicity from Oliver Stone's film in progress about the hunt for Osama into tourist dollars. Said Sherzai, “The name Afghanistan at the moment is associated with terrorism. We want to remove that label and replace it with tourism.”

Sherzai's tourist resort would feature restaurants overlooking the hand-dug caves and mud brick houses built by Al Qaeda and craters dug by American bombs. Sherzai visualizes tourists flocking to his terrorist-themed resort: “I don’t just want one Tora Bora hotel. I want three or four. Long before anyone had heard of Osama, Tora Bora was known as a picnic spot and now it can be both.”

Afghanistan used to be a regular stop for hippie tourists forty years ago. Inexplicably, tourism has not rebounded since the rout of the Taliban in 2001. Perhaps part of this lull in tourism may be attributed to the failure of proposed British package tours to Afghanistan in 2004 when the Minister of Tourism was assassinated in one of the guesthouses in Herat where the tourists would have stayed. The Afghan locals also have an unfortunate habit of murdering outsiders. Two German journalists enjoying the scenic spot of Bamian were shot dead this month.

However, that aside, tourists should be perfectly safe when driven by a squad of armed bodyguards as fast as possible over the dirt road from Jalalabad, three hours away. The road runs out a couple miles short of Tora Bora, but Sherzai plans to pave the road all the way to his new tourist Mecca.

Sure it may sound crazy now, but it's just crazy enough to work. If you close your eyes and squint, one can imagine Tora Bora Land, something like a jihadi Disneyland with kids running around in little Mickey Martyr turbans, jumping on the Suicide Bomber Ride To Paradise or splashing in The Islamic Martyrs Fountain of Blood, going to see the animatronic Osama Bin Laden declare war on America or smiting infidel mannequin necks in Zarqawi's Beheading Gallery, where for $29.95 you can take home a snuff video on DVD to show your friends.

Ya gotta remember, Las Vegas was once just a crazy desert dream of a mobster. Is Tora Bora Land any crazier than that? If Sherzai builds it, they will come.

The Dead Vote Democrat

The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that there are 77,000 dead people on New York state's registered voter rolls, of whom 2,600 have continued to cast their votes, unimpeded by death. The Dead lean Left, too. The Journal reports, "Democrats who cast votes after they died outnumbered Republicans by more than a 4-to-1 margin." So it appears that the Democrats have the dead vote locked up.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Girls Denied Pole-Dancing In Britain

Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, has decided to pull it's "Peekaboo Pole-Dancing Kit" (£50 or $125) from the toys and games section of its website, Tesco Direct, after outraged parents complained that it "destroy's children's lives."

The kit comes complete with a three-piece 8'6" chrome plated, extendable dance pole, instructional DVD, one Peekaboo Sexy Garter, and 100 Peekaboo Dance Dollars to stuff in that garter or where ever. The blurb on the kit urges its owners to: "Unleash the sex kitten inside ... simply extend the Peekaboo pole inside the tube, slip on the sexy tunes and away you go! Soon you'll be flaunting it to the world and earning a fortune in Peekaboo Dance Dollars." So really, it's an educational toy meant to teach a trade.

Dr. Adrian Rogers of the Family First group is appalled, "It is an open invitation to turn the youngest children on to sexual behaviour. This will be sold to four, five and six-year olds. This is a most dangerous toy that will contribute towards destroying children's innocence. Children are being encouraged to dance round a pole which is interpreted in the adult world as a phallic symbol. This should only be available to the most depraved people who want to corrupt their children."

Tesco denies it is marketing the pole-dancing kit to children and claims it is a, uh, er, fitness accessory. That's it, a fitness accessory. Said a Tesco spokesman, "Pole dancing is an increasing exercise craze. This item is for people who want to improve their fitness and have fun at the same time." So, there you are.

British parents who wish to train their daughters for a lucrative career in the exciting world of exotic dancing can still purchase a pole-dancing kit at the main Peekaboo website along with their Home Lap Dance Kit (only £6.99, cheap!).

Extreme Comedy In North Korea

Mads Bruegger, a Danish journalist and mad prankster working for Denmark's public television, pulled the ultimate prank on the Stalinist regime of North Korea by telling the commies that he and two South Korea-born Danes, Simon Jul and Jacob Nossel, were part of a left-wing theatre troupe that supported wacky evil dictator Kim Jong Il and wished to visit as part of a cultural exchange.

In a sort of "Borat Meets Kim" mockumentary production, Bruegger and his pals appeared on North Korean TV, marched in an anti-U.S. parade in Pyongyang, and praised the North Korean missile tests. Bruegger told the dimwitted commies that Denmark should follow North Korea's example and "test fire missiles to defend our strong Danish culture."

The mockumentary will be broadcast on Danish TV Channel DR2 in four parts beginning December 1st. You can almost see the North Koreans slapping their hands on their heads now. Hopefully, Kim will have somebody shot for this. Somebody big.

In one clip, the Danish jesters proudly presented a North Korean official with a pizza shovel as a gift to Our Dear Leader Comrade Kim Jong Il. Said Bruegger, "No one grasped the thick irony and satire. I believe we only survived because fifty years of mind control has wiped out any sense of irony and satire." Nobody in North Korea caught on. Nobody called their bluff. They got away with the joke completely.

It wasn't all laughs and giggles. When they were placed in front of the parade, it got a little hairy. Said Bruegger, "It's a parade leading up to a missile launch. It's a direct message to the US. We were told it's a "peace march" but the rhetoric is "Kill, murder, smash!" and for some reason they put Jacob and I in the front of this marching legion of workers. So in a way they've used us for their own propaganda. You could see us on TV that evening.
Being there was one of the scariest situations I've ever been in. Nürnberg in Nazi Germany was like Roskilde Festival compared with that. But the scene is important because Jacob Nossel gets scared and starts shouting, "I want to go home, I'm scared"... I try to calm him and the interpretor is asking "What's happening, what is he saying?" and I say "He's very happy, but tired." And I think it's a scene that tells a lot about the society."

Wafa Sultan

Wafa Sultan is a Syrian-born psychiatrist who lives in California, now famous for aggressively confronting Al Jazeera host Faisal al-Qasim and guest Ibrahim Al-Khouli about the defects of Islam. She gave an interview to the Jerusalem Post. Some excerpts:

Jerusalem Post: "...what made you want to move to the United States?"

Wafa Sultan: "I was looking for a better life - freedom to express myself - because I was born a writer. All my teachers said so. But anyway, I secretly underwent a change before coming to America. ... But 1979 was the real turning point of our lives. It was the year I witnessed the murder of a professor of mine. While shooting him, the killers were screaming "Allahu Akbar [God is great]!"

I was in a state of shock. The sound of the bullets became associated in my mind with Allah. ... After the trauma of the murder in the name of Allah, I delved into all the Islamic texts - the Koran and the Hadith - carefully studying each, one by one. ... what I was trying to find out through my research - whether Islam is inherently violent, or whether its adherents misunderstand its teachings. The more I researched, the more convinced I became that the root was in Islam itself. I believe that beliefs drive behaviors."

JP: "Is belief-driven behavior something you come across in your work as a psychiatrist?"

Sultan: "Of course. In order to change any situation, you have to change people's behavior. And in order to change their behavior, you first have to change their belief system. Look, the Iraqi woman on the panel [Pascale Warda] told me about a case of a man killed in Iraq for selling ice, since Muhammed didn't use ice. Can you imagine? According to Sharia, selling ice is a crime! She also told me that Iraqis believe that you must not put cucumbers and tomatoes in the same bag, because cucumbers are male and tomatoes are female. This is an example of a dangerous belief system driving bad behavior."

JP: "Your view of Islam is dim, and your rejection of it indicates pessimism about its ability to reform. If so, what is the solution to its spreading radicalization?"

Sultan: "I personally don't believe Islam can be reformed. But my view is very much needed among those who wish to reform it. There are two choices: rejection or reform. My voice forces the reformists to work even harder. The first step is for the West to put pressure on Islamists to respect my right to reject Islam as much as I respect their right to believe in it. Once Muslims are free to choose, the rest will take care of itself. The real solution, in other words, is transformation, not reformation."

JP: "Christianity underwent a reformation. Why not Islam?"

Sultan: "They are not comparable. According to Islam, anyone who questions a single word of the books or teachings should be killed."

JP: "How did your own parents respond to your shift?"

Sultan: "My father died when I was 10. My mother hasn't spoken to me for two years. I understand her situation. It's tough on her. She's ashamed of me. If my family lived here in America, they might be able to understand me. But, from where they're sitting, it's a tough task."

JP: "Yet your mother is also a woman who suffered - and continues to suffer - from restrictions. Why doesn't she believe in the message that you are conveying?"

Sultan: "She, like too many women in the Islamic world, grew up with the belief that they have to have a man to protect them. My mother came to visit me in the US four times since 1989. And she got very angry whenever I asked my husband to bring me a cup of water. She reprimanded me by saying, "You're a woman; you have to serve your husband." This mentality has been shaped for 1,400 years."

JP: "Are Western feminists on your side? I have encountered Americans and Israelis who - when it comes to the rights of women in Arab countries - side with multiculturalism. Has this been your experience as well?"

Sultan: "Yes it has. I haven't received the kind of support I expected from women in the US. Recently, I gave a speech at the University of California, and during the question period, an American woman told me she didn't believe the things I was saying about Muslim men's treatment of women. She said: "Muhammed was the first man on earth to give women rights."

I responded, "Would you please tell me what some of those rights are, so I can tell Muslim women to be aware of them?"

She said, "I don't know, but I was invited to a mosque in LA, and that's what the mullah told us." Can you believe how naive these women are?"

JP: "Are the Saudis the worst among the Islamists in this respect?"

Sultan: "Yes, and I believe they Islamicized the Syrians. They are behind the trouble everywhere. In 1991, when I was relatively new to this country and struggling financially, I was offered $1,500 per month by the Saudis to cover my head and attend a mosque. In California, when you tell any American about this, he says, "Who cares?"

You have to care and you have to pay attention! Not caring and not paying attention is why we ended up with the events of September 11 - events the likes of which I expected and predicted well before."

JP: "Why did you expect such a massive terrorist attack?"

Sultan: "Two or three years prior to 9/11, a Jordanian Islamist came to LA to attend an event held by the Muslim community there. I wasn't there, but I read in the newspaper that he gave a speech in which he said, "Now we are ready to rule the world." Nobody paid attention to that but me. I wondered why nobody asked him, "What kind of political, economic, moral or psychological readiness do you have to rule the world?"

And I thought, "How stupid these Americans are. It's happening right inside their country." I wanted to tell them, "Fight terrorism here before you fight it there. Protect yourself here before you go there for that purpose." That guy knew what he was talking about when he said the Muslims were ready to rule the world."

JP: "What about suicide bombing? Is that also a tool used by leaders of Arab countries?"

Sultan: "Martyrdom is deeply rooted in our teachings. The Koran clearly states that God buys your life from you - "To kill or to be killed." But with the help of Saudi money and Wahabbism, what was written in our holy book came to life."

JP: "Are the Saudis also involved in Palestinian terrorism?"

Sultan: "No question about it. They are everywhere. People [all over] are starving for a piece of bread, while millions upon millions of dollars are being spent on building mosques. And how many Americans - if offered $1,500 a month to cover their heads or become Muslims - would turn that down? I heard the Saudis are willing to pay $1,000 to any man who changes his name to Muhammed. How many poor or homeless people would refuse that offer?"

JP: "Would a better US policy have been to throw money around, like the Saudis do, to foment revolutions in Arab countries?"

Sultan: "Why not? Dissident groups need to feel supported. I've heard that only three percent of the Syrian population have access to the Internet, for example. Why not provide them with computers, radio and TV broadcasts... so they can be exposed to different cultures, and freely choose their own way of life? Islam has been the only source of knowledge or information in the Middle East.

A few days ago, I asked a Palestinian I met: "Let's assume that all the Jews of Israel were to convert to Islam, would you still fight them?"He said, "No." In that case, the land is not the problem.

A month ago, I read on a Saudi Web site that Muhammed was walking with a group of his followers, and they heard a noise; so they asked him what it was. He said: "Oh, don't worry about that, it's only God torturing the Jews in their graves." But during the time of Muhammed, there was no Israel or America. So there you have it. Our biggest problem is religion. If we overcome that, we will be able to resolve the political problems."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tell Maura I Love Her

Construction workers building the transit hub on the site of the World Trade Center found human remains in an abandoned manhole last Thursday morning, victims of the Muslim atrocity of Sep 11. The manhole covers were paved over during the initial recovery effort to bring in the cranes needed to move the ruins. A hundred bones have been found, from an inch to a foot long. They look like ribs, arms, legs and vertebra. Personal effects were found, including a wallet.

"Oh my God, is that more of Matthew?" said Diane Horning the day after the discovery. Diane's son, Matthew Horning was a database administrator for the Marsh & McLennan insurance company on the 95th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. He was 26. They found parts of his body near the manhole over four years ago. Matthew's family has long ago held a funeral and it is distressing to have remains continuing to show up that may be their son. Says Diane, "But it's been sitting there for over five years."

Matthew had graduated magna cum laude from James Madison University. He loved the Mets and the Jets and animals and played the guitar a little. He loved Star Wars enough to think that he might write his own fantasy novel or comic book someday. He lived in Hoboken, NJ and had worked for Marsh & McLennan for a couple years. Matthew told a coworker at an office Christmas party in 1999 that he had two major goals in life: play the guitar better and find someone to love.

He met Maura Landry the following August at a Mexican restaurant where mutual friends had gathered for dinner. She lived in Hoboken, too. "Hi!" he called down to her at the other end of the table. "We're neighbors." He started coming home with what his family called his "Maura smile." His sister, Dana, said he was getting pretty sappy.

After a year, Matthew was planning to pop the question to Maura. He had asked his Dad how to buy an engagement ring. They planned to go shopping for it the next Wednesday, September 12th. Matthew was hoping for a future with Maura that included children and a big dog. Says Maura, “We didn’t have to live in the biggest house on the street, but the people inside had to be happy.” Maura wanted four children but Matthew talked her down to three. He was hot to walk her down the aisle to the "Star Wars" theme. Said Maura, "We’ll see."

Muslim fanatic Mohammed Atta piloted American Airline's Flight 11, a Boeing 767 jumbo jet, directly into the floors where Marsh & McLennan did business, hitting seven out of eight of them. Matthew survived the initial impact and the intense fire that followed. He made a couple cell phone calls to his family. He asked his father to tell Maura he loved her. He text-messaged a co-worker outside the building: "Tell Maura I love her." He kept communicating right up until the end. His last text message said simply, "Scared."

His father watched the North Tower collapse from his office window. Kurt says of his son, "Funny, handsome, millions of friends. We had so many people who came to tell us he was their best friend, and I thought you could only have one. I still can't believe it happened."

Of the 2749 people who are believed to have perished in the World Trade Center, remains of 1599 have been found. Three hundred intact bodies were found, of which only a dozen were identifiable by sight. The rest were found in pieces, over 20,000 individual body parts in total. That's an average of fifteen pieces per victim. A single tooth was all that was found for one person. One man was broken into two hundred pieces.

For 1150 of the victims, there are no identifiable remains at all. The three billion tons of debris acted like a giant mortar and pestle which ground the bodies to bits. Much of the remains were burned to ash and mixed with pulverized concrete and building materials. Unrecognizeable.

The first forensic teams from the FBI and New York Police sifting through remains at Ground Zero found a few of Matthew's personal effects and three small fragments of his body. They were returned to his family. That's what they buried.

The remaining rubble from the World Trade Center was hauled by the truckload to the Fresh Kills dump on Staten Island, where New York City had taken its trash for a century. The forensic teams sifted through it again for human remains. That's when Matthew's company security badge, which he hung around his neck, was found.

The forensic teams sifted through the debris again. A year after the badge was returned to them, Matthew's wallet was found and returned. It contained his company ID, a subway fare card, five scorched twenties, and a ticket stub from a baseball game. His Mom, Diane, says, "It just makes me shake when I open it. Because I know he touched his Blockbuster card ..."

Sifting through the two million tons of debris trucked to Fresh Kills culled out the identifiable remains larger than one-quarter inch. Of the remains found, 53% of them have been identified, mostly through DNA analysis. However, the medical examiner's office can not identify 9328 remains. No good DNA could be extracted from them because they are too scorched, soaked or decomposed. Work has stopped on them while they are stored in the hope that future technology will reveal their identity.

The future came faster than anyone expected. A Virginia company developed new methods of DNA identification that may identify more of the remains. Technical progress does not translate into emotional progress as it is terribly painful to have the remains dribble in over years. Kurt Horning says, "It's a horrible way to have your loved one returned to you, bit by bit by bit. We'll never say no to the medical examiner, but you think you're finished getting calls at dinner time. Now all the doors are open again. What was returned was so small — not even one-half of 1 percent of what my son was. It's just such an unusual and unnatural situation. This could go on forever as science catches up with technology."

Emotions are also churned up by the discovery of remains in new places. Workers demolishing the Deutsche Bank building, damaged in the Sep 11 attack, found 760 bone fragments evidently tossed there from the World Trade Center. There is another neighboring building where cleanup work is due to begin which may also yield fresh remains.

The 1.2 million tons of remaining debris from the World Trade Center covers 48 acres of Fresh Kills to a depth of ten to twenty feet, lying on an eighteen inch bed of dirt that separates it from the century's worth of city trash beneath. The debris that was screened for human remains, much of it ashes, was buried on Hills One and Nine. There is a strong smell of methane from rotting garbage at the site. The city plans to eventually make the site into a Ground Zero memorial. Presently, only family members may visit with an escort by the Sanitation Department.

Diane Horning visits the site and does not like what she sees: "I don't go because it gives me any sense of connection or peace. I feel his presence, but in an unsettled way, that in essence I'm being asked not to leave him there." Diane and Kurt believe that their son is buried there among tons of crushed concrete, sheetrock, and glass with thousands of other victims. Says Diane, "The dead are not here at Ground Zero, though for many of us their spirits are still here. Their corporal bodies are in a garbage dump." Diane calls it a "national shame."

So Diane Horning, retired school teacher, co-founded "WTC Families for a Proper Burial." They don't want the remains of their families buried in a dump. They demand the city sift through the ashes again to retrieve the bits of their loved ones they fear still remain there. Diane argues, "This is Matt's ID badge from Marsh, and it was found at Fresh Kills."

Maura is outraged, too. In a letter to the New York Times, she wrote, "While I am deeply grateful to the men and women who worked diligently in the Fresh Kills landfill, I cannot help but be horrified that minuscule particles of human flesh and bone from the victims were left among common household trash when the recovery operation was complete in July 2002. I am glad that items were saved to document the horror of that terrible morning for future generations. But as the fiancée of Matthew Horning, who was killed on Sept. 11, I do not find much comfort in those relics being saved when his ashen remains have been treated like trash."

New York City doesn't want to do it. The city says the 500,000 tons of ashes have been sifted three times already and that moving them would cost $450 million. The Hornings dispute that, noting that the initial sortings cost $67 million. They think the federal government should pick up the tab.

Kurt made the argument during the Republican Party convention in New York City in 2003. He made his protest at the World Trade Center site, arguing that the money spent on the Republican "coronation" could have been spent on moving the ashes out of Fresh Kills.

Kurt has taken it further than that, falling in with the Truther movement that promotes the theory that the US government was complicit in the Sep 11 attacks which killed his son. He has signed a "911 Truth Statement" from the that claims that half of New York City thinks the government knew of the attack and sat on its hands. They want a Congressional investigation to get to the "truth."

It's crazed nonsense supported by lefties who want to throw tar on the Bush administration, people like Ralph Nader, former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, actor Ed Asner, Medea Benjamin & Jodie Evans of Code Pink. Most of these conspiracy theories are neatly answered in the State Department's Misinformation website. Nevertheless, they have filed a criminal complaint with the New York State Attorney General that charges that "there is ample evidence and probable cause to believe that many grave and still unresolved crimes were committed by US officials prior to, during and after the events of 9/11."

And so Sep 11, which began in madness, spawns more madness.

The Jihad In France

We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists. This is not a question of urban violence any more. It is an intifada, with stones and Molotov cocktails. You no longer see two or three youths confronting police, you see whole tower blocks emptying into the streets to set their 'comrades' free when they are arrested,” says Michel Thoomis, secretary general of the French police union, Action Police. He wants armored cars for his members. Bruno Beschizza, the leader of the French police union Synergie, says, “The thing that has changed over the past month is that they now want to kill us.”

"They" are the Muslim "youths" of the French housing projects called estates located on the banlieues surrounding the cities, so well described by Theodore Dalrymple in his article, "The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris." The Muslim gangsters have been fighting an intifada against French society for years, an insurgency that flaired up into open war a year ago in Clichy-sous-Bois, a banlieue on eastern outskirts of Paris, after two Muslim teenagers hid from the police in an electrical substation and inadvertently electrocuted themselves. Now they're martyrs in the war against the French by these Muslim sons of North African immigrants.

The Muslim gangsters have ambushed the French police four times this fall in the Paris banlieues, badly injuring them. There are fifteen attacks per day in France by the gangsters on police and emergency services. In one confrontation, 250 policemen faced one hundred Muslims with baseball bats. Firemen and paramedics are attacked, even when they are coming to put out fires in Muslim neighborhoods or save the lives of Muslims. Almost 3000 police officers have been wounded by Muslim gangsters this year, who also burn about 112 cars per day for sport.

Omar, a 17-year-old son of immigrants from Mali and a veteran of last year's riots is proud to show off a cell phone movie of a car he torched: “It was great. We did lots of them and then we went out and torched more the next day.” Omar loved the riots, “We’re ready for it again. In fact it hasn’t stopped,” he added. Muslims torched ten thousand cars in the riots.

France has a population of 62 million, of whom about seven million are Muslim, 11%. The Muslim immigrant women have an average of five children apiece while native French women have less than two. Consequently, a quarter of the French population under 20 are Muslim, 40% in some cities. It's possible that France could feature a Muslim majority in 25 years. As France goes, so Europe is going on a slow march to Eurabia.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

This Is Paradise

Hyok Kang, a refugee from North Korea, tells of his horrible life as a boy in Kim Jong Il's failing regime in his book, "This is Paradise!." After the Soviet Union fell, it stopped its support which propped up North Korea. The great famine of the 1990s came to Kang in 1994, when the government rations gave out. When the rice and potatoes disappeared, they searched for weeds, grass, shrubs, and tree bark to eat.

Writes Kang:

"My mother started selling buns and pancakes in the market. She was shattered by the sight of dozens of ragged urchins (some of them little more than toddlers) avidly watching the customers as they ate their pancakes just in case they accidentally dropped some. Then they would dart forwards to pick up scraps and stuff them into their mouths. Some adults, racked with hunger, beat the children and stole from them.

Hunger engulfed my little universe. The poorest children lived on nothing but grass, and during class their stomachs rumbled. After a few weeks their faces began to swell, making them look well nourished. Then their faces went on growing until they looked as though they had been inflated. Their cheeks were so puffy that they couldn’t see the blackboard. Some of them were covered with impetigo and flaking skin.

My classmates started dying during the summer of 1996. One girl spent her days by her dying brother’s bedside, going short herself so that he would have more to eat. She died before he did.

As time passed there were fewer and fewer of us sitting at the school desks. Sometimes there were only about 10 in a class of 35. The teachers themselves no longer had enough energy to take their classes. They sat shapelessly in their chairs, cane in hand, while we repeated by heart lessons we had already learnt about the childhoods of Kim Il-sung and his son and successor Kim Jong-il, the Dear Leader.

The famine encouraged the most selfish kinds of behaviour. My grandmother sold soya dishes and soups at home, a little trade that helped her to survive. I remember one father who regularly came to my grandmother’s house in secret to eat his fill far from the eyes of his family. Many parents left their homes in search of food, and most didn’t come back.

People generally died at night, and every morning we counted five or six deaths in our neighbourhood. Most of them were ordinary people, because neither party cadres nor policemen nor high-ranking military officers suffered as a result of the famine. My father calculated that the district where we lived had shrunk from 4,000 to 2,000 inhabitants.

There were empty houses everywhere. We felt as though we were living in a ghost town. Nonetheless, with my boy’s eyes, I found it all relatively normal. It was all I had ever known, and I thought that things abroad must be pretty much the same, or worse, as our leaders told us, assuring us that North Korea was “paradise” compared with other states. My belief in Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il remained unshakeable.

The party cadres blamed “natural disasters”, the US and South Korea for the shortages.

My friends and I caught frogs and cooked them skewered on bicycle spokes. We also ate grasshoppers, which are delicious fried, as are dragonflies. Grilled, the flesh of fat dragonflies tastes a bit like pork; but you can eat them raw, once the head and wings have been removed. Sparrows and quails ended up in the pot. We caught them with nets set in wooden frames. Other birds, like crows, we fried on a brazier.

The railway station was a hideout for abandoned children. The shortage of petrol and electricity had reduced the daily rail service to one departure every two weeks. So the station was filled with people waiting for trains that never came. Destitute crowds slept there night and day. Skeletal children wandered through the waiting room. Some of them were very young: I remember kids of one or two who couldn’t even stand upright. They crawled on all fours on the filthy floor, picking up whatever they could with their black fingers.

People gathered for a few minutes around the body of a child who had just died, but lost interest almost immediately. A friend of my father’s was in a unit responsible for their collection and burial. He told us he never rushed to pick up dead children. He waited until at least three had died before collecting their bodies because that way he only had to dig a single grave. He dug rather shallow graves so as not to tire himself, and then laid the little skeletons in the holes, sometimes without so much as a shroud.

By 1997 my school had ceased to function. I ended up joining the gangs of children who stole from the market stalls. I would distract a well-padded person’s attention and then my gang of five or six would jump on them and grab their money. The misfortune of others, even your own family, leaves you completely indifferent when you have nothing in your belly. You rob ruthlessly; you would even kill."

Kang's father, suffering from malnutrition, asked the local government authorities to be given softer work than his hard labor in a coal mine. When they refused, he went beserk in their office. When the government called him the next week to go to the reeducation camp, he fled to China. When he returned carrying food for his family, the border guards arrested him, ate his food, and sent him to prison.

"Eventually, after contracting typhus from infected lice, my father was granted provisional release on condition that he would go back to prison if he recovered from the illness. Depressed, he hit the bottle and one evening he suddenly started shouting at the top of his voice: “Kim Jong-il, son of a bitch . . . bastard, swine!” My mother, in a panic, jammed both hands over his mouth. Our house was under constant surveillance from neighbourhood informers, and this sort of outburst could get us all shot."
Kang's father wanted his family to escape with him from North Korea. Even though Kang was trapped in the Jurassic Park of communism, he and his mother still believed the government propaganda and were sure that no matter how much they were starving, it was worse outside North Korea.

"He made up his mind to smuggle us to China. For more than a month he tried everything he could think of to persuade us, but my mother wasn’t convinced. “In spite of the shortages,” she insisted, “North Korea is without a doubt one of the most prosperous countries in the world!” I told him I would rather be a beggar in North Korea than follow him to China. I spouted phrases that I had learnt at school: “Let us safeguard socialism . . . I will fight to the death to protect socialism and the Great Leader Kim Il-sung!” My father went on insulting Kim Jong-il in the worst possible terms.

My mother finally yielded. In turn she tried to persuade me, the confused 13-year-old. She said we would spend a year in China, no more, and we would earn money and come back to North Korea.
Reluctantly, I agreed. We made our getaway from home on March 19, 1998, at 4am, because that was the time when my father was under the least amount of surveillance. We had only the clothes on our backs, because even the smallest bundle of clothing would have looked suspicious. Needless to say, we did not return after a year — nor have we ever."

Kang and his family lived like hunted animals for four years in China, fearing they would be caught and deported home to North Korea, until they made their way to South Korea, their paradise on Earth at last.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

No Excuses For Terror

David Aaronovitch, a columnist for "The Times" of London and a self-admitted lefty, has had enough of Israel-bashing and terrorist-coddling. Something has gone terribly wrong when the Left is making excuses for fascism, he quite sensibly but tardily claims. Breaking from the lefty herd, he made a documentary that rebuts the demonization of Israel, points out where the media have turned a blind eye to Muslim radicals, and hears out the voices of the sensible Right on the current crisis with Islam. "Don't Get Me Started: No Excuses For Terror" was broadcast on British Channel 5 on September 26, 2006.

Says Aaronovitch, "It wasn't a subtle argument, that suicide terrorism is not our fault and that it is a choice made by murderous egotists, but bizarrely it's an argument that needs to be made these days. For me watching the full version of [London Tube bomber] Mohammed Sidiqui Khan's "testament" was sufficient repudiation on its own of the "we provoked it" school of apologism."

The documentary runs 39 minutes. You can watch it in four sections on YouTube: Part 1 (9:58), Part 2 (9:18), Part 3 (9:46), and Part 4 (9:57).

It's time well spent on intelligent television.

Teen Threatens President Bush

High school freshman Julia Wilson, 14, of Sacramento, California doesn't like President Bush, which is not unusual in liberal Sacramento. So she posted a picture of Bush on her MySpace web page, titled it "KILL BUSH," and added a dagger stabbing him.

She replaced the page after she found out in her eighth grade history class that threatening the President was a federal offense. Julia was at school when her mom, Kirstie Wilson, sent her a text message: "There are two men from the secret service that want to talk with you. Apparently you made some death threats against president bush."

Uh oh.

"Are you serious!?!? omg. Am I in a lot of trouble?" Julia texted back to Mom. Her question was answered a few minutes later when the Secret Service pulled her out of molecular biology class for fifteen minutes of questioning. Julia complained that the Secret Service agents said she could be sent to juvenile hall. Says Julia, "They yelled at me a lot. They were unnecessarily mean." Evidently it doesn't occur to Julia that threatening the President in public is mean, that she deserves to be yelled at for making such a threat, or that threatening violence against other people is a good reason to put her in jail.

Julia claims she's just politically passionate, "I wasn't dangerous. I mean, look at what's (stenciled) on my backpack - it's a heart. I'm a very peace-loving person. I'm against the war in Iraq. I'm not going to kill the president."

Julia, peace-loving people don't advocate killing the President. Even if you stencil a thousand hearts on your backpack it doesn't cancel out a death threat. Perhaps if you want people to believe that you would never kill the President you should avoiding shouting in public that you think the President should be killed.

Her parents back her up. They all think the Secret Service should have just known she wasn't dangerous and shouldn't have bothered her in school. Doubtlessly Julia's parents, who fostered her unhinged Bush hatred, are deeply puzzled why the authorities would pester her daughter for making a simple death threat against the President. They are probably puzzled, deeply puzzled, as to why children act out violently in school, too. It's probably the NRA's or Bush's fault.

Julia Wilson has learned her lesson though. Her experience with the Secret Service has convinced her the government is wrong. She is planning to post a new MySpace page protesting the war in Iraq. Says Julia, "I decided today I think I will because it (the questioning) went too far." In other words, the government was wrong to challenge her death threat. Hey, like whatever happenned to free speech, dude?

Welcome to the next generation of the Left. They are learning their lessons well. Threats of violence are completely unacceptable unless they are against Republicans. Peace, Love, & Kill The Conservatives!

Muslims Who Don't Hate America Sin

Scott Atran of the British online magazine "The First Post" interviewed Abu Bakar Bashir, 66, the spiritual leader of the Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Al Qa'eda's main ally in Indonesia, in a jail cell in Jakarta. Abu was in fine spirits, being served dates by JI bombers acting as his servants, and buoyed by the news that his 30-month prison sentence for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali bombings was being generously reduced by the Indonesian government by four months so that he will walk free soon. Bashir is very popular among Indonesia's mainstream Muslim population.

The 2002 Bali bombings killed 202 people, 89 of them Australian, and injured a further 209, most of them tourists revelling in nightclubs which the Islamists of JI condemned as un-Islamic, as opposed to murdering infidels which is perfectly Islamic. Senior JI members testified that Bashir approved the terror operation. Nor did JI regret the violence, bombing Bali again in 2005 to kill another twenty, wounding 129.

Atran's interview with Bashir reveals the intolerant and murderous mindset of radical Muslims and exactly why they hate us:

Scott Atran: "What are the conditions for Islam to be strong?"

Abu Bakar Bashir: "The infidel country must be visited and spied upon. If we don't come to them, they will persecute Islam. They will prevent non-Muslims converting."

Atran: "What can the West, especially the US, do to make the world more peaceful?"

Bashir: "They have to stop fighting Islam. That's impossible because it is sunnatullah [destiny, a law of nature], as Allah has said in the Koran. If they want to have peace, they have to accept to be governed by Islam."

Atran: "What if they persist?"

Bashir: "We'll keep fighting them and they'll lose. The batil [falsehood] will lose sooner or later. I sent a letter to Bush. I said that you'll lose and there is no point for you [to fight us]. This [concept] is found in the Koran."

Atran: "Have you met Osama Bin Laden?"

Bashir: "No, no. I want to though. After my release, I hope I can meet him."

Atran: "Where will you find him?"

Bashir: "If he still exists - but how could I? I have sympathy for his struggle. Osama is Allah's soldier. When I heard his story, I came to the conclusion that he's mujahid, a soldier of Allah."

Atran: "You will always be on his side?"

Bashir: "His tactics and calculations may sometimes be wrong, he's an ordinary human being after all. I don't agree with all of his actions. Osama believes in total war. This concept I don't agree with. If this occurs in an Islamic country, the fitnah [discord] will be felt by Muslims. But to attack them in their country [America] is fine."

Atran: "So this fight will never end?"

Bashir: "Never. This fight is compulsory. Muslims who don't hate America sin. What I mean by America is George Bush's regime. There is no iman [belief] if one doesn't hate America."

Atran: "How can the American regime and its policies change?"

Bashir: "We'll see. As long as there is no intention to fight us and Islam continues to grow there can be peace. This is the doctrine of Islam. Islam can't be ruled by others. Allah's law must stand above human law. There is no [example] of Islam and infidels, the right and the wrong, living together in peace."

Just as the Koran dictates, the Hadith confirm, and the example of Mohammed demonstrates, Bashir and the radical Muslims will continue to fight non-Muslims until they convert to Islam, submit to Muslim rule as dhimmis, or die.


Failed Coup In Pakistan

Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf returned from his book tour in the US to discover a coup plot against him based in the Pakistan Air Force. The plot unravelled when a rocket was fired at the President's home in Rawalpindi. The rocket was launched remotely by cell phone. When the rocket was recovered, its activation mechanism yielded the cell phone number of an Air Force officer. His arrest led to the arrest of more than forty other plotters, most of them field grade Air Force officers. One of the civilian plotters was the son of a general officer. All of them were Islamists.

More rockets were recovered from other high security zones, including the headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Islamabad, which is infested by Islamists. Apparently, this was more than a simple assassination plot, of which this is the fifth known attempt, but part of a larger Islamist plot to overthrow the government.

Islamists previously tried to kill Musharraf in Rawalpindi in 2003 by blowing up a bridge as he crossed it in a convoy. Evidently, electronic jammers in the convoy interfered with the radio signal to detonate it until after the convoy passed, when the bridge exploded. Eleven days later, the Islamists sent two suicide bombers in separate cars to kill Musharraf in his car. They got close enough to crack Musharraf's windshield and kill sixteen innocent people, but not close enough to draw Musharraf's blood.

It bodes ill for the future that murderous Islamists have so thoroughly penetrated major organs of the government such as the ISI and air force. Once Musharraf and his cohort of British-trained officers have passed from the scene, the wild men in beards and turbans take over. Pakistan has nukes, about forty to sixty of them. They may have enough nuclear fuel for another fifty nukes. And they're spinning more fuel in three thousand centrifuges.

Even under Musharraf, who is somewhat sympathetic to the West, Pakistan spread nuclear bomb technology to villianous countries such as North Korea, Libya, and Iran via a black market run by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani atom bomb. One of Khan's agents offered atom bomb technology to Iraq. Three Pakistani nuclear scientists in Khan's program met with Osama bin Laden to consult on Al Qaeda's pursuit of an atomic or radiological bomb.

Part of the reason that Pakistan spread it's nuke know-how around is that it raised the funds for atom bomb development by pitching it as an Islamic project to Libya, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran. Pakistan feels a religious obligation to share the technology to make its "Islamic Bomb" with other Muslim countries. Muslims of all nations see Pakistan's nukes as a weapon to be used against infidel countries. The Imam of Al-Aqsa mosque preached that test detonation of the Pakistani bomb marked "the beginning of the resurgence of Islamic power."

When Musharraf is overthrown, Pakistan and its nukes passes into the hands of Islamist nutcases intent on prosecuting the jihad against non-Muslims. Rather than informal consultation with terrorists interesting in acquiring nukes under Musharraf, we can expect full cooperation with terrorists from an Islamist-ruled Pakistan. America is about one heartbeat away from a nuclear attack by Islamists.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Isaac's Journey

Isaac Schrödinger calls himself a Pakistani-born, ex-Muslim, refugee-claimant, who is pro-USA. He details his journey from ordinary Pakistani Muslim, the son of a Pakistani expatriate working in Saudi Arabia, to an ex-Muslim yearning to be an American in a series of posts on his eponymous blog. His personal collision of cultures came when he studied in America and Canada. A sample of anecdotes follows.

His schooling in Saudi Arabia was based on memorization, not critical reasoning:
"We only copied and memorized the history of Islam and Pakistan, the various prayers in Arabic, the numerous feats of science, and the various stories in Urdu and English. Most of us never learned them. Such was the art of "ratta." Sadly, students even memorized the math problems for homework. They could instantly write the solutions for the math problems they had seen before. Yet, the same problems with different numbers would confound them."

Schrödinger contrasts the difference between his American and Saudi schools:
"Most students in Saudi Arabia would go through their entire education without asking a single question. The fear of offending the teacher and thus receiving verbal and physical abuse was always a present danger. Yet, in the US, students would often say that they didn’t get the material. The teacher, instead of being offended, would try a different approach or provide a new example to illuminate the situation. I finally had true teachers after 10 years of barbarity."
Schrödinger stayed with American families during school breaks and was surprised to find himself welcome:

"There were a few breaks during the school year. The school and the dorms would close at such time. So, resident students had to find a place for themselves. The school offered, for a small price, the option of residing with a local family when the dorms were closed. It was an economical choice.

My first stay was very pleasant. The family had one son about my age and a friendly dog. The American family was genuinely warm and interested in my alien culture. Later, that hospitable experience was repeated with another family. Through many conversations, we learned a lot about each other. I was surprised to hear about so many different backgrounds of these few Americans and they were amazed at the harsh punishments for crimes in Saudi Arabia. These experiences helped shape my views of Americans.

I can honestly say that I talked longer and with more Americans in any 10-day period in the US than I did with Arabs in over 10 years in Saudi Arabia. I was a student in Saudi Arabia for over a decade, yet not one friendly Arab ‘brother’ invited me or any of my family members to his home. We spent all the time within our detached Pakistani community. However, in a couple of years in the US, I spent many days with different families. They were always respectful of my customs. They didn’t cook pork or use alcohol in the food when I stayed with them. Their understanding, generosity and openness were in stark contrast to the Arabs."

When he returned to Saudi Arabia, Schrödinger found that his Saudi landlord did not respond well to his Amerian education:

"The landlord came over once and was talking to my dad in the guest room. I wanted to meet him simply for courtesy. “Do you need any help?” he asked my dad in Arabic as I entered the room. He laughed as he saw me. “Oh, you already have help!” We moved towards each other to shake hands. At that very moment, my dad mentioned that I was doing my studies in the US. Immediately, revulsion was etched in his face. He took his eyes off me as though I was a maggot-infested carcass. He backed off and motioned me away with both hands as someone would a leper.

My dad did nothing except laugh. I was filled with rage as I lowered my hand and left the room. Later, my dad said that the landlord tried to convince him of sending me to a highly reputed madrassa in Saudi Arabia for a decent education. My dad politely and repeatedly refused."

Schrödinger found that his fellow Muslims in Canada were disgruntled with late night talk show monologues lampooning Bin Laden after the Sep 11 attacks:
"From my experience, the reactions of the Muslims in Canada ranged from indifference to outright support of Islamists. It made little sense because these Muslims would never live in an environment with harsh Islamist rules."

Schrödinger describes the Muslim reaction to the Sep 11 attacks in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia:
"The days that followed were unreal. “The planes were remote controlled by the Americans. That’s why it was easy for them to be slammed into the buildings.” “They want to start a war to go after Afghanistan.” “How could Osama pull off 9/11? He is thousands of kilometers away in Afghanistan.” “The US is the superpower, isn’t it? So, how could supposedly 19 Arabs cause such havoc to such a super country?” “The US wants to subjugate Muslims.” That’s just what I heard from my family.

The situation was not much different in the newspapers and magazines. Every time the media mentioned Osama in a story, the “who is blamed for 9/11 by Washington” was not far behind. I was reading through a Pakistani magazine where in the letters section was this gem. “The attacks on 9/11, which we all know were caused by Mossad,...” It was mind-numbing. The Muslim world simply couldn't agree as to who was behind the 9/11 attacks when the plain truth was staring them in the face.

Though, what they could all agree on was a sense of uninhibited joy. Whether it was Americans, Israelis or the tooth fairy that was behind 9/11, they didn't mind the auspicious atrocity. My dad told us of a blue Saudi in his office. “He was distressed because he wanted the twin towers to topple sideways for more death and carnage.” I felt sick.

The US, just a decade before, had sent half a million of her finest to save the Saudis from imminent danger. On 9/11, the citadel of the US was attacked, thousands of innocents were murdered, and the ingrate citizens of Arabia were delighted.

Many went a step further and defended the "innocent" Muslims of Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia was one of three countries which not only recognized the Taliban regime but also sympathized with it. The attack on the pure Islamic state of Afghanistan was considered an attack on Islam itself. It seemed that with a few exceptions the entire Muslim world had gone stark raving mad. Instead of opposing the evil regime of Afghanistan, they openly supported it.

There were women in Pakistan who publicly supported the Taliban. That made about as much sense as blacks in favor of the KKK. It felt like being in a lunatic asylum where the US was attacking Muslims and the Taliban were gentle and sinless creatures. Many Muslims had supported Saddam against the US, more than a decade before 9/11. Why? Because he's a Muslim! Again, the same horrid logic was being used to defend the most wretched and wanted man in the world."

Schrödinger sees no reconciliation between the Western and Muslim worlds:

"The West simply can’t please the Muslim world. The Umma [the Muslim community] basically manufacture reasons to hate the West. There’s a conspiracy theory to back up each and every grievance for loathing the West. The infidels, in the minds of most Muslims, are out to destroy their communities.

However, their very Islamist rules cripple a functioning society. Their one-and-only solution to every perceived problem is more Quran, more Islam, more aping of Muhammad, more 7th century barbarism - in one word, Islamism. That was, and is, by far the loudest force in the Muslim world.

Very few, very precious few, look at the US, and the West in general, and say, “How about emulating those successful folks?” The rest are shocked and ask, “You want the Great Satan and his minions to be our role models!?” That is enough to shut up most liberals in the Muslim world."

Schrödinger on Saudi Arabia, where conspiracy theories are King:

"There was no respite from conspiracy theories in Saudi Arabia. “4000 Jews were told not to show up at the WTC as Mossad carried out the 9/11 attacks.” The following is one of my favorites. “The entire War on Terror is a scheme cooked up by Israel and the US to attack and keep down the Muslim world.” That’s particularly rich considering that the overall economic and democratic condition of a Muslim country improves after the US attacks.

This one is for hating the US even when there’s no open war. “The US steals Saudi oil. The Americans in Saudi Arabia pump [let’s say] 20 million barrels of oil but write down, and pay for, only 10 million. They’ve been doing that since 1991!” Let it not be said that the Muslim world is not creative. They have an incredible talent for creating a conspiracy theory for every event and occasion. The sad result is that they end up hating the Jews and the Americans more than their own tyrants and terror masters."

Schrödinger returned to study in Canada after Sep 11 and found Canadians to be dimwitted America-bashers:

"I went back to Canada and started my new university year in the fall of 2002. After the Axis of Evil speech everyone knew that Saddam was the number one target. The Unfinished War of 1991 would finally be brought to an end. That made for some very dull and sometimes absorbing conversations.

The usual charges would often be brought up: “War for OOILLL,” “No moral authority,” “Imperialism.” It was strange that people who placed themselves on the right of the political spectrum were easily demonized by many Canadians but calling real evil by its name was considered uncouth.

In a conversation about the US and Iraq: “Bush is evil,” a friend pontificated. “What do you mean?” “He looks evil,” he replied. “Hunh.” “I think Saddam is also bad from what you have said...” He really didn’t think that Saddam was objectively evil. Saddam was just being puffed up to be this BIG BAD BUTCHER so that the US could easily take him on.

Later, I was talking to a different friend. We were in a group of four in which two guys were spectators. I was tallying the crimes of Saddam and the reasons for the West to take him out. My friend didn’t have much of a reply. “You talk like...” Everyone was attentive. “ American.” There were audible gasps from the other two guys.

Remember, this was a group of university students, so often the language was R-rated. But still, calling someone an American in Canada is harsh. “Yeah, so?” was my reply. They all laughed. The conversation always ended when one played the “American” card. Instead of calling me ignorant or jingoistic or a warmonger, the umbrella term would be employed to convey all the negative stereotypes.

It was the same as when my dad’s friend called me an American or when my mom said that “you talk like a Jew.” These remarks said more about the people making them than about myself."

Schrödinger, knowing both West and Islam, sees a long-term war that we must win:

"Our war against the Islamists will be multi-generational. The US has to fight. She has no other choice. We’ve tried leaving the Middle East alone in its soup of hatred, the result of which we witnessed on 9/11. The Islamists do not fully understand the West. They do not comprehend the latent might of the American Republic and they constantly deny the dignity of freedom in Israel. They truly believe that they’ll make us kneel before them. If not today, then twenty years from now. For them it is only a matter of time.

It is up to the US to prove them wrong. We must destroy Al Qaeda, crush Hamas, smash the Iranian regime, and grind the Saudi rulers into powder. We must completely and utterly annihilate Islamism.

Many Westerners didn’t say a word of support for the tortured and oppressed population of Iraq. We had useful idiots before, today we have useful infidels. They are quick to point out all the supposed evils of the West but when it comes to Islamists, the silence is deafening. They effortlessly consume freedom, yet refuse to even rhetorically support the providers and defenders of liberty: the Allied armed forces with major credit to the US troops."

They're Not Americans In Funny Costumes

Stephen Browne is an egghead from Norman, Oklahoma who took his master's degree in Anthropology with him to see the world. He worked in Saudi Arabia, among other places, where he became familiar with Arab culture, which he writes about in an excellent post called "Observations On Arabs" in his blog "Rants and Raves." It's well worth reading the whole thing.

Browne complains, "Since the beginning of the Iraq phase of this conflict of civilizations, I've experienced the teeth-grinding frustration of watching both pro- and anti- Iraq sides make the exact same mistake - that of supposing that these people are bascially Americans in funny costumes. In this respect, George Bush and Michael Moore are equally clueless, as was Jill Carroll apparently." Jill Carroll is a Christian Science Monitor reporter who was wandering Iraq in search of a story, relying on the kindness of strangers, and got herself kidnapped by insurgents.

Life in Saudi Arabia stripped away Browne's liberal illusions:
"In the case of the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia], I went there with a certain sympathy for Arab grievances, a belief that America had earned a lot of hostility from "blowback" from our ham-handed interventionist foreign policy and support for Israel etc. I came back with the gloomy opinion that over the long run we are going to have to hammer these people hard to get them to quit messing with Western Civilization."

Browne distills his experience into a dozen points, all worth reading in full. Here is a sample:

"1) They don’t think the same way we do. No, I mean THEY REALLY DON'T THINK THE SAME WAY WE DO.

3) Their values are fundamentally different from ours, their self-esteem is derived from a different source. And you know what? Theirs is PHONY. Yes I know, I’m making a cultural value judgment, the cardinal sin when I was a grad student in Anthropology. With us, the most important sources of self-esteem are useful work and the love of a good woman. Being good at something that requires skill (even a hobby) and being of primary importance to somebody just because you are who you are. Work for them, is something to be avoided. The basic forms of work: making stuff, growing stuff and moving stuff around, is taken care of by a class of indentured servants, usually non-Arab Muslims from the Third World, and even today, by outright slaves.

8) They don’t place the same value on an abstract conception of Truth as we do, they routinely believe things of breathtaking absurdity.

I cannot begin to tell you of some of the things I’ve heard from Gulf Arabs or read in the English language press in the Kingdom. “The Jews want Medina back.” (Medina was a Jewish city in the time of the Prophet.) The Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been turned into an immensely popular miniseries on Egyptian TV. The Blood Libel (the medieval myth that Jews need the blood of non-Jewish babies to celebrate Passover) is widely reported in the Arab press, and widely believed. Allah will replenish the oil beneath Arabia when it runs out.

I’ve been assured, by well-educated and otherwise sensible people that Winston Churchill was Jewish and that Anthony Quinn had been blacklisted and would never work again after making Lion of the Desert (just before he made that turkey with Kevin Costner).

9) They do not have the same notion of cause and effect as we do.

This involves some seriously weird stuff about other people being responsible for their misery because they ill-wished them. I’ve read in the English-language press of the Kingdom serious admonitions against using Black Magic to win an advantage in a dispute with a neighbor. The columnist did not deny the efficacy of Black Magic, he just said it’s forbidden to use it.

10) We take for granted that we are a dominant civilization still on the way up. They are acutely aware that they are a civilization on the skids.

11) We think that everybody has a right to their own point of view, they think that that idea is not only self-evidently absurd, but evil.

12) Our civilization is destroying theirs. We cannot share a world in peace. They understand this; we have yet to learn it. ... To compete, or even just survive in the world they must become more like us and less like themselves – and they know this."

USS George Bush Christened

Today the Bush family christened the Navy's newest and last Nimitz class aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush, at Newport News, Virginia. The $6 billion, 1,092-foot-long carrier, the largest warship type in the world, will be delivered in 2008 after workers fill it full of whupass at its outfitting berth. The USS Bush joins the Nimitz nuclear-powered super-carriers USS Ronald Reagan, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS Harry S. Truman, USS Theodore Roosevelt, USS Abraham Lincoln, and the USS George Washington.

Which brings us to the obvious question: What ship should be named after Bill Clinton? An oiler, perhaps? The USS Slick Willy? Methinks that no military ship nor facility will ever be named after Clinton, though something must to honor his legacy. Perhaps a hospital would be appropriate: The President Bill Clinton Venereal Disease Clinic in Dripping Springs, Texas? Or perhaps President Bill should be honored with something associated with the environmentalism he espoused, perhaps one of those caverns in Utah turned into dump sites for radioactive and chemical wastes: Slick Willy's Toxic Waste Hole.

The possibilities are endless.

Letter From A Marine In Iraq

Time publishes an email written last month by a Marine officer stationed in Fallujah in "The Secret Letter From Iraq." Originally intended for just friends and family, it was so frank and funny it got wide circulation. Email has long legs, my friends. The Marines are working this guy hard, so hard he barely has time to write nor sleep, so he offers some anecdotes to illustrate his experience:

"Most Surreal Moment — Watching Marines arrive at my detention facility and unload a truck load of flex-cuffed midgets. 26 to be exact. We had put the word out earlier in the day to the Marines in Fallujah that we were looking for Bad Guy X, who was described as a midget. Little did I know that Fallujah was home to a small community of midgets, who banded together for support since they were considered as social outcasts. The Marines were anxious to get back to the midget colony to bring in the rest of the midget suspects, but I called off the search, figuring Bad Guy X was long gone on his short legs after seeing his
companions rounded up by the giant infidels.

Most Profound Man in Iraq — an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."

Favorite Iraqi TV Show — Oprah. I have no idea. They all have satellite TV.

Biggest Hassle — High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and "battlefield" tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no effect on their preconceived notions of what's going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they've been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here.

Biggest Outrage — Practically anything said by talking heads on TV about the war in Iraq, not that I get to watch much TV. Their thoughts are consistently both grossly simplistic and politically slanted. Biggest Offender: Bill O'Reilly.

Best Chuck Norris Moment — 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in a small town to kidnap the mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the Bad Guys put down his machine gun so that he could tie the mayor's hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machine gun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can't fight City Hall."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Red Badge Of Patriots

It looks like an apartment building, and a nice one at that, except that all its residents seem to be fit young men in their prime. A closer look at the men congregated at the entrance reveals half of them standing on prosthetic legs. It is a bracing sight.

It is a guest house for ambulatory patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. When wounded soldiers recover enough in the main hospital to make it to their treatments unaided, they move to a guest house on the grounds or outside. They check in to the equivalent of an efficiency apartment, equipped with appliances including a DVD player and laptop. It’s easier on their wives, too, who can sleep in a bed with their husbands instead of balled up uncomfortably in a chair next to their husbands’ hospital beds.

The spacious foyer, lit by a chandelier, is like those of upscale apartment buildings in one of DC’s nicest neighborhoods. The carpet is rich and padded, better than the carpet trod by the generals in the Officer’s Club a few miles away in Fort Myer by the Pentagon. But then, the wounded outrank the generals.

The foyer holds more wounded troops in civvies. They’re still learning how to use their legs, so they walk a bit stiffly and awkwardly. Some have wounds to the head. Oddly enough, most of them are in a pretty good mood. I’m told that the more seriously wounded, the better attitude they have. I’m the only guy in the joint who can’t stifle a tear.

A guy next to me talks matter-of-factly about his son’s amputation next month as cute little kids chase each other around the legs of the adults. Some of the kids are there to visit their wounded mothers, like the one shot in the face or the other who had her foot amputated. It’s an equal opportunity war.

I came with a group of private citizens who make runs to the guest house several times per month to bring snacks, bottled water, Cohiba cigars, clothes, and other stuff to the troops. The wounded often need clothes, because they are transported directly from the battlefield to hospitals where their clothes are cut off to treat their injuries. They arrive at Walter Reed with nothing, not even a shirt on their backs.

Some families are too far away to comfort their wounded sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives in person so these private citizens fill in for them. They are often the first civilians seen by the troops when they return to America. It’s important to make contact with our guys, some of whom are gravely wounded, and act naturally, give them encouragement. While the hospital handles the patients’ physical recovery, there is their psychological and emotional recovery to consider as well.

This effort kicked off through casual conversation with soldiers at the hospital. One of the guys, a 21-year-old soldier, got to talking with folks visiting from outside and it developed into a regular thing over the course of a year. The folks pay for it out of their own pockets.

Once in a while, radical leftists find a way in to propagandize the patients with anti-war rhetoric. Code Pink visited on Mother’s Day to hand out pink flowers bearing anti-war slogans. It’s the last thing the wounded want to hear, that their sacrifice was made for nothing. Code Pink has been protesting the war at Walter Reed, of all places, for the last eighteen months. They are hotly despised by people at Walter Reed.

The soldiers recovering at Walter Reed have little use for Cindy Sheehan. One soldier in bad shape made his mother promise that if he should die she would not do a Sheehan on him. The mothers, proud of their sons fighting for America, take a dim view of Sheehan’s shenanigans, as well. Said one mom at the guest house, “Dad gum if somebody is going to take the honor of my son away.”

Many of the soldiers at Walter Reed are baffled by the protesters outside the hospital, wondering why the protesters are protesting THEM. When they get well enough to walk, some meander out the gate on Georgia Avenue to gawk at the protesters to figure it out. A few try to talk to the protestors, but their protest leader forbids that, orders the protestors not to talk the soldiers. The Code Pink protestors literally turn their backs on the incredulous walking wounded so that all the soldiers can see are their signs: “LOVE THE TROOPS, HATE THE WAR” and “SUPPORT THE TROOPS, BRING THEM HOME NOW!” Some love. Some support.

One young Army Ranger, wounded in the legs, had his buddy, wounded in the face and blinded in one eye, roll him out in his wheelchair to the protest to see it for himself. He was a scrawny guy from Pennsylvania who seemed awfully, awfully young to be a combat veteran. Two months previously he had been on his second mission of the day on his second deployment in Iraq in a town I won’t name when his squad approached a suspicious house and prepared to lay down explosives to breach the door, which may have been booby-trapped. Just as they were laying down the explosives, the door swung open and Abdul the Insurgent poked his nose out in surprise to find American troops on his doorstep.

The door slammed shut and the Rangers called “COME OUT” before they charged into the house to reach the bad guys before they could grab their weapons. Down the hall they ran toward an interior courtyard when an insurgent grenade detonated and hit the whole squad. Down they fell on top of each other, returning fire from the floor, when the second grenade hit them hard. The Ranger could not feel his arm nor leg and turned around to crawl back to cover in a room when the third grenade tore up his butt and the soles of his feet. It all took about ten seconds.

The rest of the fire teams filed into the house, taking hits, and kept on coming until the house was secured. It was a fast and furious fight of about five minutes. Insurgents would pop up to toss grenades and disappear, surging out of a tunnel like fire ants. The house was a safe house used to smuggle terrorists into the country.

The medics assessed the wounded, stabilized them, and loaded them on a vehicle where a forward observer was lasing the house, illuminating it with a laser to direct the inbound air strike. As they pulled away, an AC-130 gunship blasted the house to rubble, killing thirty or forty terrorists inside. An exact count was difficult after the fact.

The Ranger was rushed to a military hospital in Iraq, then to Germany, then Walter Reed. He had been hit by Russian grenades, wicked little things full of steel BBs in a sheet metal shell, whose effect is like being shot with a 12 gauge shotgun. Shrapnel to his leg muscles made his legs swell up with blood to three times their normal size. The surgeons at Walter Reed performed a fasciotomy on each leg, slicing open the sides of each calf to relieve the pressure and restore circulation. He could see his calf muscle hanging out and the bone beneath.

The Ranger pulled up the legs of his track suit to show me his scars. He was proud of them. His legs were peppered with tiny dot-like scars from the grenade shot. Ugly red scars about two fingers wide ran down both sides of both calves. The docs say he may not run again, but he will walk for sure. He’s lucky, he says, because there are so many amputees at the hospital. Still he wants to run again so he can reenlist and return to Iraq. His Mom is not crazy about the idea. She was the one who told him about the Code Pink protestors while he was still drugged up.

Said the Ranger, “I’m against the protest over there. I mean, it’s their right to do whatever they want. As far as me personally, I get upset because 99.9% of them have very strong opinions yet they have no idea what’s going on over there. I doubt any of them who are standing on that corner tonight over there have actually talked to somebody who lives in Iraq about how they feel over there yet they have all these strong opinions.”

The Ranger has spent a lot of time in bed watching CNN and doesn’t recognize the Iraq it depicts. He sees a lot of anti-American Iraqis on CNN. Most of the Iraqis he met were pro-American except for the terrorists he fought. Says the Ranger, “They don’t show the guy who cleans our bathroom who says, ‘Go Bush, John Kerry bad, bad,’ during the election. They don’t show the dozens of times when I’m walking down the street, going to do a mission and the women on top of the roofs are saying ‘Americans, we love you.’ They don’t show that on CNN.”


“My son got shot.” It’s a startling introduction to Debbie, standing in the foyer of the guest house at Walter Reed. She’s a nice Southern lady who woke up in her home outside Atlanta one July morning at 7 AM to find that somebody with an 888 number had called her eighteen times while she slept. Curious, she called the number back to find that it was her son’s task force in Afghanistan who transferred her to his commander who told Debbie, “Your son’s been injured.”

Her son, David, was riding a Humvee as the gunner in a convoy of ten Humvees when he was shot through the neck. He survived because the only medic in the convoy happened to be riding in his Humvee and immediately treated him before he could bleed out. That was July 29, 2006, a Saturday.

The military flew David to Germany for surgery. He called his Mom after the operation, still groggy from the anesthesia. “I’m fine,” he said. “I’m numb all over.” He wasn’t really all that fine. He had been paralyzed immediately after being shot, having fallen hard inside the Humvee, suffering a hairline fracture in his neck. He was flown on to Walter Reed.

Debbie earns a nice living creating balloon art for her employer. Her coworkers pitched in to pay for her airline ticket to Washington. She boarded a jet to DC to comfort her baby.

Scott, David’s step-dad, took the news hard. Scott is a veteran of the Army’s 5th Special Forces, had served in Vietnam, and was shot there in the right knee in 1973. He and seven of his hometown friends had all enlisted together. Scott was the only one to return home alive. Having his son shot dredged up all those bad memories he’d rather forget. Going to the hospital was hard for him.

The hospital was full of horrible spectacles. One guy had an RPG stuck in his hip which, thankfully, had not detonated. Two other guys were nearly burned to death in a Humvee. Another guy had a dent in his head the size of a dinner roll, later restored to a normal appearance. Yet another had part of his head blown away so that it looked like a triangle.

David made an amazing recovery. He was shot on a Saturday, transported to Walter Reed on a Tuesday, where he was released as an out-patient on Thursday. By the time he arrived at Walter Reed, he was up and about, joking around. It’s not a complete recovery. David has a brace on his neck and his left arm remains paralyzed. He’ll need therapy to regain partial use of it.

And there is the pain. David has terrible pain in his left arm due to nerve damage. He’s on pain meds which do the job some days but other days they don’t. Some days he just stays in bed until the pain passes.

The scar on David’s neck is tiny, the rifle bullet having drilled neatly through it. That was lucky. AK-47 bullets are built to tumble, transferring all their energy to their targets to tear them up. David may have been shot too close to give the bullet time to tumble, carrying the bulk of its kinetic energy with it when it left his neck. David credits his Mom’s lucky bandana for his survival. The doctors told him they could improve the appearance of that scar but David likes the look of it.

David returned home to Cobb County a hero. Cobb County is the home of the Big Chicken, a fifty-six foot tall sheet metal chicken that has been a local landmark since the ‘60s. For a few days, David was bigger than the Big Chicken and that’s saying a lot.

The local newspaper wrote a story on him. His church, the Open Bible Tabernacle, received him in triumph. David could not walk into an Arby’s nor Taco Bell without the customers picking up the tab. It was a wonderful homecoming.

The only problem was the construction crew working next door to David’s home. When he was lying in bed, he flinched every time he heard their nail gun, which sounded like gunshots. It drove him crazy, that nail gun. He wanted to crawl under his bed to get out of the line of fire.

It is odd for David’s parents, too. They are a military family. Scott, of course, is an Army vet. Debbie served in the Coast Guard for eleven years. At one time, five of her family were serving in the Coast Guard simultaneously. Her Dad was a Master Chief Yeoman in the Coast Guard. Her parents are buried in the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in the crater of an extinct volcano on Oahu, Hawaii along with the dead from Pearl Harbor and the Pacific theater of WWII. It’s not far from Waikiki where the tourists happily splash on the beach without a care in the world. The old Hawaiians called the Punchbowl “Puowaina,” the “Hill of Sacrifice.”

The problem for Debbie and Scott is that few of their friends have served in the military. Their friends’ lives roll on undisturbed by the war in any way. They don’t understand the sacrifices military families make in peacetime, let alone wartime. When a soldier is wounded, it wounds his whole family. They live with the damage long after the war is wiped off the front pages.

Their poise in dealing with this blow is based on their faith. David was raised in the church by his parents and though he is reserved about it, his faith runs deep. When he was shot, he had stored up a well of faith he could draw upon. He would tell Debbie, “Mom, just keep praying and it will all work out.”

David is back in the guest house to continue his treatment. He’s talking about going to school to be a pediatric neurologist but mostly he plays video games all day. Many of the wounded combat vets are just big kids, playing with their Game Boys. David wants to get well so he can see his girlfriend, Jess, if you know what I mean.

The Secretary of the Army is coming to pin the Purple Heart on David, among other patients, though there is a rumor that the President himself may do it. He’s jazzed about that. Debbie has been waiting on him hand and foot, but now David is playing the Purple Heart card on her to wheedle even more favors from her. Mom knows a scam when she sees one, but she just kinda lets it slide and goes along with it. She walks around the guest house sporting a big button that says, “My Son Is Serving Proudly In The Army. Pray For Peace.”

David and his Dad, Scott, rented a car to get out of the hospital and see the sights of DC. They parked near the National Mall and slowly made the long walk to the Wall, David in his neck brace and Scott on his artificial knee. There they read the names chiseled in the Vietnam Memorial and probably saw in it their own reflections, princes of America’s natural aristocracy of patriots.