Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Where’s the Audacity to Hope for Iran?

16.06.2009 (12:24 am) – Filed under: Democracy,Iran ::

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Barack Obama was propelled to the presidency in part by his book, The Audacity of Hope.  But one has to wonder where his fabled audacity was when people just like us needed it the most. 

Despite reports of politically motivated arrests, police brutality, and at least one death, hundreds of thousands of people marched in Tehran, Iran today in protest over what they believe to be the fraudulent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 

Barack Obama’s support for Iranians who want nothing more than to free themselves from tyranny should be firm and unwavering. 

Not so says Ben Smith, who wrote that “Obama also was elected on a promise to tone down America’s moralizing rhetoric”.

Balderdash.  Barack Obama was elected primarily because he was a Democrat in the right place at the right time.  His convincing victory over John McCain would have been a true rout if the country trusted his foreign policy direction.  Thus far our lack of faith has been justified, as demonstrated by the administration’s failure to lend verbal support to the Iranian opposition in their hour of need.

Only when it became apparent that the Iranian’s protests were not going to fade away did Mr. Obama acknowledge the obvious, that the Iranian election was fixed for Ahmadinejad, the mullah’s choice for president of that country.

Obama said:

“I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent — all of those are universal values and need to be respected, and whenever I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting, and whenever the American people see that, I think they are rightfully troubled.”

Certainly true.  But Mr. Obama does not go far enough.  Americans were rightfully troubled when the fraudulent vote was announced because all people, in every nation around the world, have been born with the inalienable right to elect their own government and that right was stolen from an unknown number of Iranians last week, stolen and trampled by Iran’s oppressive theocracy in its lust for power.

Democrats may want to tone down the so-called “moralizing rhetoric” but I would suggest a different approach: Tell the truth at all times and let the diplomatic chips fall where they may.

Some of the sad truths in this case are that:

  • we will never know the true result of the Iranian elections
  • even if the votes were counted accurately the open ballot format is inherently repressive and un-republican
  • these protests are highly unlikely to change anything, at least in 2009
  • a direct endorsement of the protesters by Mr. Obama would almost certainly lead to greater tensions with Iran going forward

So be it.  If that is the price of standing on the side of an oppressed people, then westerners of all nations should be willing to pay it rather than appease the sponsors of terrorism that currently lead Iran for another day. 

That’s true even if Ahmadinejad would have won the election had the votes been counted fairly, for it’s not the outcome that is important but the Iranian government’s commitment to its responsibility to uphold the fundamental rights of its people.  That’s what Barack Obama must defend in the strongest possible terms, even if the result is unfavorable at the polls, the negotiating table, or both.

Barack Obama was elected in part because of his claims to boldness.  He said that he would be audacious.  The world is waiting.

Thwarting Barack Obama

05.03.2009 (9:07 pm) – Filed under: Democracy,Politics,Taxation ::

Michelle Bachmann, she of we-should-investigate-anti-American-members-of-Congress infamy, said today that Republicans must do whatever they can to keep Democrats from consolidating power during Barack Obama’s time in office:

they’re trying to consolidate power, so we need to do everything we can to thwart them at every turn to make sure that they aren’t able to, for all time, secure a power base that for all time can never be defeated.

Unfortunately I’m inclined to agree.  It’s not that I want Barack Obama’s presidency to fail.  I want him to lead this country on a road back to prosperity, balanced budgets, and smaller government.  But he seems disinclined to pursue any of those objectives in any comprehensible fashion.

For the time being at least, anything that hinders Democrats in their efforts to spend my children’s financial resources before they’ve even had a chance to earn them has to be considered a good thing.

Their $700+B spending spree poorly disguised as a stimulus bill is an abomination and a blatant use of fear and confusion on the part of Democrats to reap political gain and economic leverage.  Barack Obama’s plans for a $3.7T federal budget are even more grotesque.  This is a man who pretended to be a moderate during the presidential election?  Yes, but he was lying.  There’s no other way to say it.

Democrats’ spending spree is perhaps the ultimate example of political cynicism.  Like children whose lollipop was snatched away by an adult, Democrats wailed like colicky infants for the short time they were out of power and are now laser-focused on doling out all of the money they were denied the chance to spend during the last 12 years. 

It must be emphasized that a prime motivation for this liberal largesse is, of course, that by giving away other people’s money now Democrats effectively buy votes in future elections.  This is an obscene distortion of the democratic process and one that needs to be opposed, even if it’s by Republicans who are little better themselves.

Iraq Votes Peacefully and Properly

31.01.2009 (11:50 pm) – Filed under: Democracy,Iraq ::

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Iraq’s provincial council elections went off smoothly under the watchful eye of the military, the BBC reports, and the country’s Sunni minority turned out in force this time after boycotting similar elections in 2005, losing political representation as a result.

The head of the Iraqi electoral commission in Anbar province – a centre of the Sunni resistance to the US occupation – said he was expecting a 60% turnout.

Security was tight as voters had to pass through stringent checks.  Aiding the effort were thousands of Iraqi women who helped ensure traditional garments could not be used to disguise explosives.

Reports indicate that while some irregularities took place the election was for the most part run smoothly.  Even so, some Iraqis still have reservations about the process:

A Shiite lawmaker, Nassir al-Saadi, also found the election process generally good, but noted the real test is yet to come: how the major political bloc perceive the outcome.

“The only real gauge whether the election is credible or not is the results,” he said. “If the results are fair then we can say the election was fair.”

Superficially that may seem true.  However, the fairness of an election has nothing to do with whether parties, whether large or small, are happy with the outcome, a lesson some Iraqis evidently still need to learn.  That at least some of those are elected officials themselves is a little disheartening.

On one level it’s thrilling to see democracy taking hold in a country that’s never had a legitimately representative government.  On another, a nation isn’t truly free and functioning until such elections can be held without the presence of soldiers at polling places.  That’s the measure of how far Iraq still has to go.

A More Correct Definition of Tolerance

30.12.2008 (2:06 pm) – Filed under: Democracy,Islam,Society,World ::

The International Herald Tribune reports that the Netherlands’ Labor Party is moving toward a more realistic definition of what it means to accommodate Muslim immigrants, many of whom have refused to do the one thing necessary to deserve it – assimilate.

Lilianne Ploumen, Labor’s chairperson:

Ploumen says, “Integration calls on the greatest effort from the new Dutch. Let go of where you come from; choose the Netherlands unconditionally.” Immigrants must “take responsibility for this country” and cherish and protect its Dutch essence.

Not clear enough? Ploumen insists, “The success of the integration process is hindered by the disproportionate number of non-natives involved in criminality and trouble-making, by men who refuse to shake hands with women, by burqas and separate courses for women on citizenship.

Ploumen is exactly correct – assimilation into the social mores of their new homeland’s culture is imperative for the long-term sustainability of the host nation.

The lesson that the Dutch Labor Party has learned is one that has global applicability.  Western nations may well be importers of external labor; nevertheless, they are not obligated to import the undesirable social tendencies inherent in the immigrants’ countries of origin. 

Therefore, honor killings, polygamy, and female genital mutilation should be checked at the door.  Emigration requires those sacrifices and others to ensure the cultural integrity of the new homeland for it’s that very integrity that creates the economic and social circumstances that encourage immigration in the first place.

As for the host countries, the Dutch realization is particularly profound:  It is perfectly acceptable – in fact, it’s actually a duty – to expect and demand that immigrants give up those aspects of their native culture that conflict with their new home.  Likelihood of assimilation should be a key criteria by which immigrants are screened prior to admittance, even if their purpose is primarily to work in the host country.

Labor’s line seems to stand on its head the old equation of jobs-plus-education equals integration. Conforming to Dutch society’s social standards now comes first. Strikingly, it turns its back on cultural relativism and uses the word emancipation in discussing the process of outsiders’ becoming Dutch.

It’s time we all accept and adapt to the reality that, in addition to welcoming valuable diversity, we must also defend our cultures, before it’s too late.

Making an End to Political Succession

27.12.2008 (9:05 am) – Filed under: Democracy,Politics ::

Voters in New York should take the number one lesson from the Bush years to heart and refuse to vote Caroline Kennedy into the U.S. Senate as Hillary Clinton’s replacement.  Ms. Kennedy says that she has good relationships in Washington that could help the people of her state.  But what exactly are her qualifications for the job?  Knowing “the right people” is no substitute for actual ability.  Neither is being the daughter of a murdered president. 

Kathleen Parker literally mauled Sarah Palin in her Washington Post columns during the 2008 presidential election.  Now Parker says that “Caroline Kennedy is no Sarah Palin”. 

Some of the differences between the two women benefit the pro-Palin argument, but the underlying premise of the debate is flawed. Though they both are women, the important distinction is the power differential of the respective offices being sought.

There can be little debate that Palin, as a governor and former mayor, has the superior political resume. More to the point, she was duly elected to both of those positions and has enjoyed an 80 percent approval rating as governor.

Her biography is familiar to all sentient beings, so there’s no need to belabor it here. Suffice to say, she worked hard to get from Wasilla High to the governor’s mansion.

Come again, Kathleen?  But this article is not about Palin-bashing, so I shan’t digress.

Perhaps Ms. Parker’s new-found respect for Sarah Palin, shallow as it is, is based in part on her recognition of an unfortunate reality in American politics:  For all of our bluster about democracy, opportunity, and paying one’s way in life, there are a disturbing number of political dynasties in play in this country. 

The idea that congressional seats, governorships, and even the presidential office should follow lines of birth is both absurd and un-American.  Yet here we are, once again faced with the prospect of electing, both through our own foolishness and a stunted, preferential political process, an heiress who has done nothing to earn the position on her merits.

Down the way in Delaware, a similar situation is shaping up in the form of one Beau Biden, the presumptive heir to his father’s seat in the Senate once his father’s former chief of staff Ted Kaufman serves out his term in 2010.

The Biden situation isn’t as disturbing as the one in New York.  If Joe Biden’s son is elected into his former position, he at least has a resume that’s a partial fit for the job.  The younger Biden was duly elected as Delaware’s state Attorney General in 2006 and is now serving in Iraq. 

Not so with Caroline Kennedy who lacks even the modest experience that Beau Biden has in government, even if it was received whilst riding his father’s coattails. 

Voters in New York should reject Ms. Kennedy’s bid for office both because of the very thing she lacks – qualifications – and because of who she is – a blue-blooded member of a royal American political family. 

In 2010, voters in Delaware should consider Beau Biden with the skepticism with which all candidates for public office deserve to be received.  We have had enough of political succession in this country to last the rest of our lifetimes.

The Greatest Killer of All

02.12.2008 (9:57 pm) – Filed under: Communism,Democracy,Islam,Liberalism,Religion ::

Jobsanger, the Texas Liberal’s guest writer, says that religion was what killed 300+ Muslims – and an uncounted number of Christians – in Nigeria over the weekend.  The Nigerian conflict has been going on for some time and is at its core, as Jobsanger says, a religious war.  Religions have been the source of fighting back to the beginnings of civilization.  Surely if we did away with religion the world would be a safer, happier place, right?

Even a casual student of history can tell you the answer to that question is a resounding, "No!".  While the absence of Islam from the world would do wonders for peace, love, and understanding between different cultures at the moment, it’s a horrible mistake to believe that religion is the root of what’s wrong with mankind.

One need look no farther than our Russian friends to see an example of the ultimate evil.  Communism is to-date the world’s greatest killer, whether measured in terms of murders committed in communist regimes, the number of souls destroyed, or in the sheer loss of human potential.

Absolute equality, the endgame of communism and watered-down derivatives like socialism and liberalism, can only be achieved when those who strive to achieve, excel, and soar above the ordinary and mundane are brought down to the level of the dullard, the bully, and the jack-booted thug.  This has been demonstrated in country after country around the globe.  Similarly, witness the abject failure of Islam to create civilized, prosperous societies for its adherents.

I have often written that Islam is a cruel, backwards religion and political system that must be opposed by all people of good conscience because of its fascist tendencies, hatred of democracy, denial of women’s rights, and its agenda of world domination.  I still believe that is true.

But if we’re going to have a real discussion about governmental philosophies then secularists are going to have to explain the genocides that ultra-secular communist and fascist governments administered during the 20th century.

Nations that have renounced God have a track record of being far more cruel and barbarous that even the worst Islamic hell hole in the Middle East.  Anyone remember the Killing Fields of Cambodia, as one example?

One possible exception to this rule is that of post-Nazi Europe.  Many European nations that were built on the foundation of Roman Catholic Christianity are now very secular, with numbers of self-reported Christians well below 50%.

Modern Europe is also a largely secular, pacifist society at the moment and serves as an inspiration to American liberals of how a secular, socialistic society should be ordered.

There’s only one small problem with Europe’s model: it’s dying.  Europeans, comfortable in their government-provided lifestyles, simply aren’t reproducing.  Birth rates are so low in Spain and Italy, for example, that populations will actually fall because not enough love is being made.  Europe is committing cultural suicide by not perpetuating its society to future generations.  Furthermore, they have gotten into the bad habit of supplementing the work force by importing Muslim immigrants by the millions.  These immigrants aren’t shy about reproducing their Islamic roots in Europe – they have more than twice as many children per capita as indigenous Europeans.  Net-net, modern, secular Europe is no model to follow, any more than Soviet or Nazi totalitarianism was.

Jobsanger says:

There are millions in America who would love to force others to accept their beliefs, even to the point of violence.

Really?  Where does this number come from?  None of the Christians I know in the United States have the slightest interest in forcing Jobsanger or anyone else to follow Jesus.  Don’t get me wrong – we’d like it if more people did accept Christ and we’d like American national morals to be improved upon using Jesus as a go-by.  But Jobsanger’s statement is unsubstantiated precisely because it is untrue.  There is no presently no threat whatsoever of religious civil war in this country.

Granted, that could change if America’s demographics shift to become more like those of Nigeria.  But that would say more about the predilection of followers of Islam to create conflict than those of the Christians who founded this country and have lived in an orderly, wealthy, peaceful American for more than 230 years, would it not?

Causal Connections

21.10.2008 (6:18 am) – Filed under: Democracy,Terrorism ::

Dayle Hadden wrote this article for CNN about Congolese rebels’ violent, repeated, and systematic rape of village women that you should all read in order to refresh your sense of horror and outrage at what is being happening in that region, acts and consequences vile enough to make one ill.  Hadden:

Their pain is evident. A few women can barely walk or have to shuffle along with a large stick for support, as if they are very old — and in a way, they are. All these women have been violently raped.

I pass them as they wait to see the doctor. Puddles of liquid have collected under some of the women sitting on the courtyard benches. The smell of their urine hits me.

I catch the movement of balled up rags nervously crammed into their laps as they try to stop the flow.

I walk by with my eyes drawn downward. As I look up, I meet their eyes. They quickly look away, embarrassed that I have seen. I look away as well.

The women’s inability to control their bowels and urine comes from repeated rapes. The medical term is fistula. The walls of their uterus and bladder have been broken from repeated gang rapes by rebel soldiers, objects shoved roughly inside them and even guns fired into their vagina.

“A man with a gun can do whatever he wants,” Cecile Mulolo, the psychologist at Panzi tells me.

It’s 5 AM in Texas and I ought to be asleep.  But this post, feeble as it is, demands to be written.  I went to bed without doing so, needing the rest before another work day, but Hadden’s words won’t allow it.

A continent away, the Taliban’s Muslim terrorists executed a British woman working for Serve Afghanistan, a charity she represented in Kandahar.  Her crime? 

“We killed her because she was working for an organisation which was preaching Christianity,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

There’s a causal connection between the two events:  the mad, hateful promotion of self against other, cocksure religious and tribal zealotry that literally demands the death of anyone and any social structure that conflicts with “the way”.

Michael recently published Kourosh Ziabari’s diatribe against freedom of choice in which he decried westerners’ right to choose any religion or none at all.  Too much freedom, he implied, is a bad thing.  He then went on with the pat Muslim harangue about the west’s crimes against Islam:  the destruction of a few Korans, the Mohammed cartoons, etc., that we’ve all become familiar with.

It’s certainly within Ziabri’s rights as human being – inalienable rights, to most of us, though ironically not in his own mind – to hold and right about his opinions.  But they are just that, as any given copy of the Koran is merely ink on paper, and it must be understood that his is very nearly the most gentle method of retribution in the arsenal of the truly intolerant.  There are many others, some horribly cruel, that the enemies of freedom employ on a daily basis.

In response to my return post, Kaspar mocked me for advocating tolerance to the opposition while opposing the changes they desire.  In a way his mocking is justified, but not in the way he thinks.

In the west, we enjoy a prosperous, almost peaceful social order that simply doesn’t exist in other parts of the world.  Our bitter ideological battles, fierce as they seem, are trivial compared to the ludicrous extent to which zealots in the Congo, for instance, or in Afghanistan, will go to purge themselves of the other for fear that their kind will not survive on merit alone.

Unfortunately, it’s only rarely that a news report like Ms. Hadden’s penetrates into our consciousness and reminds us of the violent facts of life that are still predominate in many other parts of the world.

In that sense it is foolish to allow ourselves to be divided by the partisan debates over tax rates and the mechanisms for providing food and energy to our citizens.  There is so little to argue about, in the grand scheme of things, that both the argument and tolerance for those on the other side seem trivial.  In that sense Kaspar was correct to call me on it.

Yet nothing could be more essential than tolerance of the opposition to ensure that democratic and republican forms of government continue to exist and function as they ought.  The collapse of functioning governments leads directly to atrocities in the Congo, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere.  Is it too much to ask for civility?  Or to accept defeat when you are in the minority and don’t get your way on a particular issue, even if your group is slighted, even legitimately?

I can only scowl in disbelief upon reading Hadden’s account of the Congolese women’s shattered bodies and souls.  How can such a thing be allowed to happen?  And how, given the assassination of charity workers in Afghanistan can men like Ziabari trumpet the fanciful moral superiority of their creed?

More than any other words I’ve ever read, Hadden’s article demonstrates the utter necessity of the U.S. – and all other western nations – to act as the world’s policeman in foreign lands such as Congo. 

I’ve never seen it so clearly before, so I had to write it down.

Purpose

08.08.2008 (12:55 pm) – Filed under: Democracy,Islam,Society,Terrorism,World ::

After a grueling spring and early summer I’m on vacation with my son this week. Yesterday we hopped a jet and within 3 hours were 1000+ miles away from the baking sun of central Texas – nice. The flight was smooth and on-time and everything about the experience was exactly as it should be, with one exception – airport security.

Not that’s it’s not needed – the opposite has been proven by terrorists on multiple occasions. What’s wrong with security isn’t the appropriateness of it given the world situation and it isn’t the implementation either, uneven as it is.

No, the problem is with the existence of a need for security. See, there’s two kinds of people in the world, he said, oversimplifying things a tad – those who make order out of chaos by creating “goodness” and those who do the opposite. There are also two kinds of ideological philosophies that can be distinguished by their actions using the same criteria.

So on the one hand we have western democracies, countries that acknowledged individual rights and have created wealth and stability wherever they’ve rules, and on the other the medieval forces of Islam on the other. One is a set of societies that have a purpose rather eloquently expressed by the symbol of a jet airliner while the other is determined to halt human progress at the boundary it established for itself centuries ago and whose most revealing actions have been the destruction of the others’ greatest achievements.

What is the purpose of such a society? And should it be allowed to gain power over people who reject its repressive methods and stagnant theocracy? Or should it be opposed and, ideally, be forced to confront its own shortcomings before ascending to the world stage?

These are legitimate questions and you, despite what Muslim activist groups and those who practice too much political correctness would have you believe, are entitled to ask them.

Fundamentally, the question is this: Which model for the future of mankind is better, A or B?

A) B)

It’s really not any more complex than that.

With regard to questions of the world, as opposed to those of faith, is there another, more important question?  I don’t think so.  Therefore, this question should color all analysis of politics and its figures, workings, and elections.

For Americans, who understands this question and the correct answer better, John McCain or Barack Obama?

Independence Day Lesson

05.07.2008 (1:03 am) – Filed under: Democracy,Islam,Political Correctness,World ::

Today’s lesson in why it is imperative for Americans to remember and fight for our way of life comes from England where two school boys were given detention after a teacher tried to force them to pray to Allah during a school exercise.

Parents were outraged that the two boys from year seven (11 to 12-year-olds) were punished for not wanting to take part in the practical demonstration of how Allah is worshipped.

They said forcing their children to take part in the exercise at Alsager High School, near Stoke-on-Trent – which included wearing Muslim headgear – was a breach of their human rights.

One parent, Sharon Luinen, said: "This isn’t right, it’s taking things too far.

"I understand that they have to learn about other religions. I can live with that but it is taking it a step too far to be punished because they wouldn’t join in Muslim prayer.

"Making them pray to Allah, who isn’t who they worship, is wrong…

Luinen is correct, of course, and the parents’ outrage entirely justified, in particular because of the inherently alien nature of Islam with regard to British society.

And the most salient point of all:

"…if Muslims were asked to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion there would be war."

England, along with the rest of Europe, is floundering, societally speaking, because of an inability to confront Islam directly.  Pointing out that Islam does not belong in Western Europe would be an epic breach of political correctness.  As such it cannot be done, regardless of the need.

Meanwhile, European school children are being subjected to inane exercises in multiculturalism like the one described above.  The result, whether intended or not, is the appeasement of those who spread Islam through the west and the punishment those who recognize the danger that spread brings with it.

Worse still, religious and civil authorities who ought to be the ones standing firmly behind English and western democratic norms are leading the appeasement agenda.  Witness Lord Phillips’ incredible statement in which he said:

"There is no reason why sharia principles, or any other religious code, should not be the basis for mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution…"

On the contrary, there is every reason why Sharia should be denied a foothold in the English legal system.  Islamic law is incompatible with the most fundamental conventions of western democracies, including the rights of women to live as equals with men and the recognition of civil authorities as the supreme ruling body of the land, among others.

Think it can’t happen here?  Think again.  Multiculturalism and the political correctness it requires are both well established in this country as well.  When the systemic conflicts begin to take place here, will Americans have the fortitude to reject the relativism that such political correctness demands and stand up for the American way in the court rooms and legislatures of this country?

I hope so.  Damn few other countries are.

Happy Independence Day!

The Real Winner

12.05.2008 (5:53 pm) – Filed under: Democracy,Politics ::

The American people are the ultimate – and enviable – victors in the hard-fought Democratic nomination process, says Alan Wolfe:

After last week’s Indiana and North Carolina primaries, Obama has all but won the nomination — but democracy has been the real winner of the process. According to the Associated Press, 3.5 million newly registered voters appeared during the 2008 primaries, including unusually large numbers of women and African Americans.

Turnout reached historic highs in many Democratic primaries; indeed, more Democrats turned out this week in both North Carolina and Indiana than voted for Sen. John F. Kerry in those states in 2004. Both Clinton and Obama raised more money during a single month than most candidates in previous elections raised during the entire primary season. Moreover, the bulk of that money came from small donors; in fact, 1.5 million individuals, an unprecedented number, contributed to the Obama campaign. By every measure of individual interest in politics, this campaign has grabbed the public’s attention.

Even two major factors that should have made the contest less democratic somehow wound up helping. The first is the role of those unelected "superdelegates." Despite Obama’s convincing win in North Carolina and impressive performance in Indiana, neither candidate can win at the convention in Denver by racking up a majority of the primary and caucus voters; afraid of contests like the one we have just been having, party officials created a process in which they would have a major voice in deciding a close race. But even though the final choice rests in the hands of office holders and party professionals, few expect the superdelegates to override the choice of the voters; in fact, some high-profile Clinton supporters defected to Obama to respond to the will of constituents. To act as an independent agent would be to ignore the views of the citizens — something that most superdelegates are simply not prepared to do.

That’s the best reason for Mrs. Clinton to stay in the race until the very end, although the fact that she would make a better president doesn’t hurt either.