Monday, November 30, 2009

The Tiger Woods Affair

If there were an innocent explanation for what happened, Tiger Woods would have already come forward with it. There is no innocence, alas.

It won't be for a long time, if we ever know what really happened the night Tiger Woods crashed his Cadillac Escalade into that fire hydrant and then crashed into that tree outside of his mansion in Florida. Chances are, though, that we will never hear the truth from Tiger or from Elin Woods.

Yet the gossip website TMZ is reporting the story as if someone on the inside is talking:
Tiger Woods did not suffer facial lacerations from a car accident. They were inflicted by his wife, Elin Nordegren -- according to a conversation Woods had Friday after the accident.

Because no pictures of Tiger's face have emerged since the car accident, it's impossible to know if the cuts on his lips are consistent with a car crash. However, two cut lips and no other facial wounds from a car accident sounds incredible to me. I can't imagine how exactly that would have happened. If his face had smashed into the windshield hard enough to cut his lips, he would have had a broken nose or jaw or some other severe facial lacerations. Yet the medical reports indicate that his only wounds were to his mouth. If his face had smashed into the steering wheel hard enough to slice open his lips, I would think the airbags would have deployed. Yet they did not. And considering the reports of Tiger's marital infidelity and the reports that his wife was wielding a golf club that night, cut lips and a bloody mouth strike me as being far more consistent with her having hit him with that golf club.
We're told he said his wife had confronted him about reports that he was seeing another woman. The argument got heated and, according to our source, she scratched his face up. We're told it was then Woods beat a hasty retreat for his SUV -- but according to our source, Woods says his wife followed behind with a golf club. As Tiger drove away, she struck the vehicle several times with the club.

TMZ's "source" may be a complete fraud. However, the story the source tells fits better with the known evidence than the idea that Tiger innocently crashed his car twice on his own street and his wife just happened to be up, heard the noise and ran out with a golf club to save him.

Also, if she used the golf club to break open a window to save her husband, why break open back windows on both the driver's and passenger's sides of the SUV? Once she broke open one window, she could have reached in and unlocked the car.
We're told Woods became "distracted," thought the vehicle was stopped, and looked to see what had happened. At that point the SUV hit the fire hydrant and then hit a tree.

We're also told Woods had said during the conversation Friday he had been taking prescription pain medication for an injury, which could explain why he seemed somewhat out of it at the scene.

The prescription pills' story jives with the fact that Tiger was out cold on the street and that after the EMT's woke him up he was still passing out.

Because I doubt there is any kind of an innocent explanation for this entire affair, Tiger Woods and his wife have a strong incentive to never talk about it. That's their right, of course. However, by keeping silent, they are saying aloud that they have something embarrassing to hide.

Question: What is the over/under for their divorce date?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Swiss ban mosque minarets in surprise vote

Much more so than in the United States, there seems to be popular hatred among ordinary Europeans for Islam.
Anxieties about growing Muslim minorities have rippled across Europe in recent years, leading to legal changes in some countries. There have been French moves to ban the full-length body covering known as the burqa. Some German states have introduced bans on head scarves for Muslim women teaching in public schools. Mosques and minaret construction projects in Sweden, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Germany and Slovenia have been met by protests.

The big news out of Switzerland is part of this larger trend:
GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on minarets on Sunday, barring construction of the iconic mosque towers in a surprise vote that put Switzerland at the forefront of a European backlash against a growing Muslim population.

The country's four standing minarets, which won't be affected by the ban, do not traditionally broadcast the call to prayer outside their own buildings.

Even though the prejudice is against a particular religion, I doubt the most prejudiced Europeans are people who themselves are religious*. I think this is a backlash coming from secular people (who may be nominally Christian, but likely have no religious beliefs) who feel threatened by the growth of a new and powerful and seemingly fanatical religious force. Unlike bigotry of previous centuries, where the bigots hated other religions because the other religions believed in the wrong god or in the wrong Bible or the wrong interpretation of the same Bible, this prejudice is against Islam, because many followers of that religion are perceived to be fanatic believers in their religion. The Swiss and other Europeans who don't like Muslims would dislike them less if the Muslims were more like they tend to be, atheistic or agnostic.
Muslim groups in Switzerland and abroad condemned the vote as biased and anti-Islamic. Business groups said the decision hurt Switzerland's international standing and could damage relations with Muslim nations and wealthy investors who bank, travel and shop there.

It is biased. It is anti-Islamic. It is intolerant. Of course, Muslims as a rule are terribly intolerant of others. So it's hard for Muslims to win on calling out the intolerance card.

Whatever the response is among Muslims, I strongly doubt this stupid ban will hurt the Swiss banks or the Swiss economy. After a round of condemnations by the usual suspects, investors will put their money in Switzerland for the same reasons they do now -- it's a safe place to invest.
The referendum by the nationalist Swiss People's Party labeled minarets as symbols of rising Muslim political power that could one day transform Switzerland into an Islamic nation. The initiative was approved 57.5 to 42.5 percent by some 2.67 million voters. Only four of the 26 cantons or states opposed the initiative, granting the double approval that makes it part of the Swiss constitution.

This is yet more proof of why direct democracy is a disaster; and why I am glad we have freedom of religion built into our Constitution. Majorities should not be able to deny minorities their rights in this fashion.

The only practical reason to ban a minaret would be if the muezzin who calls Muslims to prayer is making a racket so loud everyone else is bothered by it. However, that was not the case here. Moreover, a loud muezzin can be stifled by simple noise ordinances.
"The minaret is a sign of political power and demand, comparable with whole-body covering by the burqa, tolerance of forced marriage and genital mutilation of girls," the sponsors said. They said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared mosques to Islam's military barracks and called "the minarets our bayonets." Erdogan made the comment in citing an Islamic poem many years before he became prime minister.

Muslims in the U.S. are relatively well integrated in society. They need to make a better effort in Europe to integrate and adapt to the cultures of the countries they live in, if they want to stay.
"The sponsors of the ban have achieved something everyone wanted to prevent, and that is to influence and change the relations to Muslims and their social integration in a negative way," said Taner Hatipoglu, president of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Zurich. "Muslims indeed will not feel safe anymore."

If the Swiss fear there are too many Muslims in their country, esp. Muslims who are not integrating, then they ought to change their immigration policies and make a better effort at integrating their immigrants.
The sponsors of the initiative provoked complaints of bias from local officials and human-rights group with campaign posters that showed minarets rising like missiles from the Swiss flag next to a fully veiled woman. Backers said the growing Muslim population was straining the country "because Muslims don't just practice religion."

The People's Party has campaigned mainly unsuccessfully in previous years against immigrants with campaign posters showing white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss flag and another with brown hands grabbing eagerly for Swiss passports.

This is yet another reason why moderate Muslims need to distinguish themselves from radical Muslims by vociferously attacking the rhetoric and behavior of radical Muslims. Moderates are paying the price, wrongly, for the atrocious behavior of radicals.

*Note: After I published this blog entry, I read Nate Silver's take on the story on his blog, Nate studied the demographic data in Switzerland and found my supposition about just which people in Switzerland were the most anti-Islamic was wrong. He writes, "If we break the results of the referendum down by canton (province) and compare them against the number of nonreligious people in that region, we find a fairly strong relationship. The more religious the region, the more likely it was to support the ban. ... But it appears at first glance that this indeed reflects some degree of fear, dislike, or anxiety about Muslims -- and by Christians. In some ways, then, the analogy to American politics holds up, in which the religious right -- fairly or not -- is associated with intolerance, and sometimes xenophobia."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Letters to the Davis Enterprise

The Davis Enterprise published a provocative letter today by Noreen Mazelis, in which she scolds local Islamic leader Hamza El-Nakhal for his Veterans Day remarks.
Unlike the representatives of the other religions who spoke that day, Mr. El-Nakhal chose this occasion to perform another one of his infamous 'we Muslims are the real victims and you'd better not forget that' routines.

... He went on and on about this 'incomprehensible' event - that's the massacre at Fort Hood by Islamic terrorist Army Maj. Hasan, which is 'incomprehensible' to all but the morally flatulent and the willfully blind. Then he read several passages from the Quran to show how 'tolerant' Islam is, citing chapters and verses. Thus he managed to insult and proselytize the living while desecrating our dead. Not a bad day's work!

I don't disagree with Mr. El-Nakhal, that his version of Islam is tolerant and is a religion of peace. I've interviewed him and found him to be a reasonable man. However, if he said the Fort Hood massacre is not a reflection of Islam and that it is incomprehensible to him as a Muslim, Mr. El-Nakhal is ignoring reality.

The reality is that a fast-growing percentage of Muslims in countries all over the world -- including some Muslims in Mr. El-Nakhal's congregation in Davis -- have been radicalized, and in their version of Islam there is no tolerance for other faiths. Radical Islam is not a religion of peace.

What Mr. El-Nakhal and other moderate Muslims need to do is face up to the facts about this other Islam and stop pretending it is some infinitesimally tiny fraction of Muslims. Moderate Muslims everywhere need to fight back against the radicals and treat them as enemies. They need to stop holding hands with the radicals when that is convenient.

For far too long, the moderate Muslims have sided with the radicals. They nod their heads in concurrence about their hatred of Israel and their hatred of American foreign policy. They continually have blamed others (never themselves) for the rife problems in Muslim countries and the dictatorships which govern them.

Moderate Muslims never hold protest marches against Hamas or Hezbollah when those groups commit atrocities in the name of Islam. When was the last time Muslims in the U.S. or Europe or anywhere else for that matter had a large protest against al-Qaeda? Outside of Iranians themselves, when was the last time any Muslim group protested against the actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran?

Yet if Israel or the United States ever attacked innocent Muslims the way radical Muslims continually are attacking Muslims, Jews and Christians, the moderate Muslims would join together with their radical coreligionists. Literally tens of millions of Muslims the world over marched against the publication of a few cartoons in a Danish newspaper. Yet not one Muslim group has ever organized a protest against the hundreds of atrocities committed in the name of Islam against Jews. Did they march against the Islamic radicals who target daycare centers and pizza joints in Israel? Did they hold a vigil in opposition to the blowing up of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires? Did they condemn radical Islam when the radicals began murdering Jewish innocents in Tunisia? American Muslims protested in large measure against the misguided U.S. invasion of Iraq. However, they have been entirely silent every time radical Muslims, in the name of Islam, have slaughtered innocent Iraqis, blown up Shiite mosques or terrorized Kurds.

With rare exceptions -- like Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy -- moderate Muslims have sat on their hands. They will on occasion condemn a brutal atrocity committed by terrorists. But they then turn around and falsely claim that Islam does not countenance such terrorism. And therefore the attack does not represent Islam.

But of course to the terrorists and to tens of millions of Islamists and to everyone else but moderate Muslims, Islamic terrorism does represent Islam. That is why the only answer for defeating radical Islam is for non-radical-Islam to wake up and face facts and fight back against the global jihad.

Ms. Mazelis also references a letter by George Rooks to The Davis Enterprise which went after Mr. El-Nakhal for his association with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR):
Hamza El-Nakhal's recent 'American Muslims Condemn Attack' letter is the same public relations statement trotted out by the Council on American-Islamic Relations every time an event similar to the Fort Hood murders takes place.

The CAIR strategy is to condemn the murderer and then conclude by warning Muslims to 'take appropriate precautions to protect themselves, their families and their religious institutions from possible backlash.' CAIR always shifts the focus away from the terror that has happened to offenses that have (thankfully) not taken place. ...

Regarding suicide attacks, it is particularly ironic that Mr. El-Nakhal would use a statement by CAIR. In January 2009, the FBI cut off contacts with CAIR because of the group's roots in the 'Holy Land Foundation' network supporting Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization noted for its reliance on suicide bombers.

Why doesn't the local Islamic community specifically renounce CAIR, renounce Saudi Arabian funding of American Islamic institutions, and renounce Wahhabism? It is easy to denounce such events as the Fort Hood murders after they occur; it requires courage to work actively against the incitement that causes such atrocities.

I agree with Mr. Rooks.

Until Muslims of Mr. El-Nakhal's stripe go on the offensive against radical Islam, his message that "Islam is a religion of tolerance and peace" will ring hollow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Patrick Kennedy vs. The Roman Catholic Church

The AP and other news sources are reporting that Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) has been told by his bishop that he should not take communion in the Catholic Church because Rep. Kennedy favors abortion rights as a matter of law.
Their feud over a proposal expanding the nation's health insurance system has escalated to the point where Bishop Thomas Tobin has publicly questioned Kennedy's faith and membership in the church and said he should not receive communion, the central sacrament in Catholic worship.

It's an uncomfortable tangle of faith and politics for a congressman whose uncle John F. Kennedy was elected the first Roman Catholic president in 1960 after declaring to wary Protestants that he did not speak for his church on public matters, and that the church did not speak for him.

Setting aside the Catholic Church getting involved in political questions -- tax-exempt religions should not involve themselves in matters of legislation -- the Church has every right to deny Rep. Kennedy the chance to take communion.

And if that upsets Mr. Kennedy, then he should quit that Church and join one he feels more welcome in.
Patrick Kennedy is among several Catholic politicians to clash with their bishops over abortion, which the church considers a paramount moral evil not open for negotiation.

It's okay for Mafia dons to go to that Church. Just not okay for someone who believes in abortion rights.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., has said that U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic Democrat who supports abortion rights, should stop taking communion until she changes her stance.

Former Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis has said he would withhold communion from politicians who support abortion, such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican who also ran afoul of the church because he is divorced.

Thank god I'm an athiest.

"The woman said someone was trying to kill her."

A Sutter Street pizza parlor worker was stabbed to death early this morning, and police have arrested a woman they say had visited the restaurant just before the attack for a drink of water.

If you read major metropolitan newspapers every day, you will find a version of this story somewhere in the United States on a regular basis: S.F. pizzeria worker stabbed to death.

It's not a story about crime or violence or murder or revenge or weapons or jealousy or a love-triangle or money. It's a story about insanity. Yes, the woman who killed the worker at the pizzeria was out of her mind. But the story is really about the insanity of our system which allows mental patients to roam free. Does anyone in his right mind think someone who is deranged should be out on his own, out to harm himself or harm other people? That is total insanity.
The victim, a 28-year-old man whose name has not been released, was stabbed at 1:30 a.m. inside Bellissimo Pizza at 920 Sutter St., near Leavenworth Street, said Lt. Mike Stasko of the San Francisco police homicide detail. The victim died a short time later at San Francisco General Hospital.

No doubt, every person who knew the killer knew she was dangerous. No doubt they tried to avoid her. No doubt her family could not control her and our laws prevented her from being locked up in a mental hospital. And for the sake of the American Civil Liberties Union, one man is dead and millions of others are put at risk every day.
Stasko said the assailant was a 24-year-old from Hercules who had asked for water. The woman, whose name has not been released, got the water and left, Stasko said.

A few minutes later, the pizza worker was taking a break when the woman returned and stabbed him, police said. She ran down the street, dropped the knife, then started to flag down motorists.

I used to bother to wait for the legal authorities to report that killers like this were confirmed mental patients. But when you read the details of case after case, it is so obvious, there is no need to wait. No sane person ever commits this sort of crime.
A driver who stopped to pick her up reported that the woman said someone was trying to kill her, police said.

A cab driver who saw the woman get into the car, alerted by witnesses that something had happened at the pizzeria, followed the vehicle and called police. Officers stopped the car a few blocks away and arrested the woman.

We have laws in order to protect us. Yet in the case of the mentally ill, the laws are designed to make us less safe. Does that make any sense at all?
"What can you say? This is a horrible tragedy," Stasko said. "We have no idea why this happened at all."

It happened because treat the mentally ill as if they are in control of their actions, when by definition they are not.

Throw out the ACLU. Take control of our mentally ill. It is not their fault they are crazy. Rational adults need to act as guardians for all seriously ill mental patients. As guardians, they need to medicate the mentally ill. They need to care for all of the needs of the mentally ill, just as they would a child. And if the patient cannot be controlled, he needs to be locked up. The answer is not that tough.

EDIT: Subsequent stories identified the killer. No mention yet of her history of mental illness. Here is what KRON4 is reporting about her:
Maryam Achekzai, of Hercules, is alleged to have stabbed 38-year-old Lassaad Youssef Bokri, of San Francisco, at about 1:30 a.m. outside Bellissimo Pizza at 920 Sutter St. in the city's Nob Hill neighborhood. ... Achekzai has a prior felony conviction for a 2006 assault during a robbery in Fremont for which she served time in prison, and a misdemeanor conviction for hit-and-run in Contra Costa County. Attached to the murder charge is an enhancement for the use of a deadly weapon. There is also an enhancement for having served a prior state prison term. ... If convicted, Achekzai could face up to 27 years to life in prison, according to the district attorney's office.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Not a convincing case: The argument against Eric Holder

I was somewhat surprised last week when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the U.S. Department of Justice was going to put Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four of his co-conspirators in the 9-11 attacks on trial in federal court. I had presumed they would be tried in a military tribunal and quickly executed.

Not surprisingly, all of the usual right-wing nut-jobs (RWNJs) have jumped out of their high-chairs to call for Holder's head for this decision. Yet if you really examine what the RWNJs have to say against a trial in federal court, the critique does not hold up to scrutiny.

Here, for example, is former GW Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson:
America will be subjected to the airing of intelligence sources and methods, to the posturing of mass murderers fully aware of their terrorist star power, to the possibility of mistrial and procedural acquittal, and to an increased threat of revenge attacks against New York City. Holder seemed to concede this last complication by asserting that New York is "hardened" against possible terrorism. If I were a New Yorker, that would fall into the category of chilly comfort.

I don't buy any of that. Neither does Steven Simon, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the co-author of “The Age of Sacred Terror” and “The Next Attack.”

Mr. Simon, in the New York Times, addressed these charges one at a time:

1. America will be subjected to the airing of intelligence sources and methods.

Simon says no:
Our prosecutors are certain that there is enough unclassified evidence to make their case. Moreover, the most prized intelligence is recent, specific and actionable. Al Qaeda today is most concerned with discovering when and where the next drone missile attack will take place in Pakistan, information not likely to be disclosed during a trial about a conspiracy hatched more than a decade ago.

2. America will be subjected to the posturing of mass murderers fully aware of their terrorist star power.

Simon says no:
The truth is, if the trial provides a propaganda platform for anybody, it will be for our side. First, federal courts do not permit TV cameras in the courtroom, so the opportunity for “real time” jihadist propagandizing won’t exist. And while defendants and their lawyers can question witnesses, they cannot make speeches; judges are kings in this domain and can quash irrelevant oratory. Some point out that in earlier terrorism trials, like those of the plotters of the 1993 World Trade Center attack, the defendants did ramble at length. True, but does anyone who fears a circus now remember a single word from those earlier trials? The real propaganda event is likely to unfold very differently. Instead of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed making his case, we will see the full measure of the horror of 9/11 outlined to the world in a way that only methodical trials can accomplish. Historically, the public exposure of state-sponsored mass murder or terrorism through a transparent judicial process has strengthened the forces of good and undercut the extremists. The Nuremberg trials were a classic case. And nothing more effectively alerted the world to the danger of genocide than Israel’s prosecution in 1961 of Adolf Eichmann, the bureaucrat who engineered the Holocaust.

3. America will be subjected to the possibility of mistrial and procedural acquittal.

Gerson says "possibility," but doesn't say how likely that possibility is. So his statement could be true if there is a 0.001% chance of it happening. Insofar as a trial in federal court is likely to result in an acquittal, Simon says no:
That’s highly unlikely. First, he has already confessed to the crime; and, given the zero acquittal rate for terrorists in New York previously, any anxiety about a “not guilty” verdict seems unwarranted.

I would add this: But for the fact that even loathsome assholes have the right to a fair trial in our country, we would not have a country worthy of pride. If the argument is that there should be no chance of acquittal, then there is no reason to have a trial at all.

4. America will be subjected to an increased threat of revenge attacks against New York City.

Increased compared with what alternative? Already the crazed Muslim fanatics want to attack New York or anywhere else they can murder "infidels." This trial won't change that.

Steven Simon argues that compared with a secret military tribunal, a trial in federal court will do the least to inspire more attacks against us:

In the case of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alternatives — indefinite incarceration without trial, or a military tribunal closed to the public followed by execution — are far more likely to inspire militant recruits. And highlighting the transparency in our judicial process would strengthen America’s reputation just as cracks are beginning to appear in the jihadist base. ... Polling since 2001 has shown that in most Muslim-majority countries, tolerance for terrorism and support for Al Qaeda is gradually eroding. It is strongly in our interest to reinforce these trends by underscoring the terrorists’ killings of civilians and our own commitment to the rule of law.

In the National Review Andy McCarthy makes a different case against the trial in federal court:

If we are at war, and the Attorney General said this morning that we are, we have to treat it like a war. Pressed by Sen. Graham this morning, the AG could not name a single time when, during war, we captured an enemy combatant outside the U.S. and brought him into the United States for a civilian trial — vesting him with all the rights of an American citizen. That's because hasn't happened. That's not how you treat wartime enemies.

McCarthy could be right to say that is not how you (normally) treat wartime enemies, even if we have decided they are not prisoners of war. However, it is not clear why McCarthy thinks granting these defendants a federal trial is harmful to our war effort. He doesn't say he thinks they will get away with their crimes because of this decision by the AG. (He actually says, "I'm also very confident that KSM and the others will be convicted.") He doesn't argue this trial will lead to more attacks, will compromise our intelligence sources and methods or will turn the defendants into stars or beloved martyrs.

The two primary reasons I thought these criminals would be tried in military tribunals were 1) that a military tribunal would be faster; and 2) that it would be impossible to marshall an effective case in federal court because of the problem of admitting evidence.

The second reason seems to have been shot down. Even most RWNJs admit as much. And the first, as I understand it, is untrue because the military itself cannot adequately get its tribunals in order. That is a primary reason why there are still many prisoners at Gitmo: the military's court system is terribly slow, too.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

There are some religions we should be prejudiced against

Perhaps because I believe at the core of every religion there is an incredible myth -- some sort of god(s) created human beings and that omnipotent god controls the destiny of human beings and rules over an afterlife -- I have little reason to belittle one faith more than another. That is, when they are measured by reason, science and history, I think they are all unbelievable. I don't care whether you believe in Joseph Smith's gold tablets or Mother Mary's virginity, it's all fairy tales to me. I don't have a favorite in the Sunni vs. Shiite schism, because I find Sunniism as nonsensical as Shiitism.

People who really believe in the teachings of their chosen religion, whether they want to admit it or not, are by definition biased against the beliefs of the other religions. They may believe in the rights of other religions. However, they chose one faith because they think the others got it wrong, while theirs got it right.

By contrast, I believe all of them -- at the core level -- got it wrong.

Yet I don't believe there is no good to be had in some religious beliefs or that everything they teach is wrong or without value. I have no quarrel with common sense values of being kind to your neighbors, not stealing and not bearing false witness. I am, moreover, a great admirer of groups like the Salvation Army and Alcoholics Anonymous, who take in drunks and drug addicts and other lost souls and give them a much less toxic addiction to replace drugs or alcohol. Sure, people who try to proselytize are annoying. But I'd much rather drive on a highway full of annoying Born Agains than on one with intoxicated drunks. Former drug addicts who talk up the Bible are people who, but for their "salvation," would be robbing banks and liquor stores to feed their toxic habits. There is nothing but good to be said for the religious people who feed the hungry and house the homeless.

While I believe all religions are based on mythology, I don't view every religion as being equal. That is, I do have some religious prejudice.

If a religion preaches hatred and stirs its followers to commit violence or to beat their children or instructs their men to restrict the liberty of their women, that is a worse religion than most. If a religion is set up as some kind of con game designed to get sex or money in the hands of the few who control it, that religion is worse than most. If a religion condones criminality in the name of advancing the cause of their god, that is a religion which is worse than most.

That brings me to the tragic events this week at Fort Hood in Texas, the murder of 13 people and the wounding of many more by an Army major who appears to have been motivated to commit his crime to advance his religious beliefs. Dr. Nidal Malik Hasan reportedly was "a devout Muslim" who had spoken with admiration of Islamic suicide bombers and who reportedly shouted "God is great" in Arabic before he unloaded his weapons on his fellow soldiers.

It's possible that his religious training had nothing to do with his crimes. There have literally been hundreds of other such mass murders in the United States and almost none of them were done by Muslim fanatics or by a person who was taught by his religion that this crime was justified. It is not impossible to believe that Major Hasan was simply a lunatic, a man who had lost touch with reality (much like Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech killer). If so, his gloss of Islamic extremism only serves to distort the picture.

I am willing to wait to pass judgment on Dr. Hasan the individual. If it turns out that -- like with Mr. Cho -- there was ample evidence that he was psychotic and had lost touch with reality, then the blame for his crime should fall on those who did not restrain him before it was too late. Psychotics don't hide their craziness. Everyone who is around them knows they are nuts. People in their circle hear the crazy things they say and think.

So far, however, I have not heard or read a single report which quotes any associates of Hasan as saying he was delusional. But it's possible he was and those reports simply have not yet come out.

Some of his family members have said he was upset with having to go to Afghanistan and perhaps his pending deployment made him "snap." To that I say: Bogus! Snapping is getting so upset you ball up your fist and punch a wall or a door or the poor chap who happens to be right next to you when you lose it. Snapping is not loading up on ammunition for weeks and carrying loaded guns into a crowded hall where you know your unarmed and intended victims cannot stop you or escape. Hasan's crime was clearly planned in advance.

If his was not the act of a deranged psychotic but was an extension of his religious beliefs and the political ideology which goes with that religion, I think it is important to distinguish between his fanaticism and mainstream American Islam. We have literally millions of mainstream Muslims in the United States and virtually none of them are behaving the way Hasan behaved. Mainstream Muslims have not condoned Hasan's mass murder. Rather, they have condemned it and said it is opposite what their faith teaches.

Yet I don't think most Muslims in America (or elsewhere) are being fully honest about "what Islam teaches." The fact of the matter is that there is more than one type of "Islam." The radical beliefs of Nidal Malik Hasan are shared by millions of Muslims all over the world. No other major religion has such a large minority of fanatics as Islam has.

The idea that you can murder innocents to advance your cause is an idea held by most adherents of Wahhabiism, the brand of Islam which came originally from Saudi Arabia and has spread to lands far distant. It is no small sect.

The response to crimes committed "in the name of Islam" must be seen not as a reflection of all of Islam or most of Islam, but a very large and growing part of Islam. That is the brand of Islam which we are at war with the world over. Ultimately, ours is not "a war on terror," it is a "war on fanatical, Wahhabiist Islam."

For that war ever to be won, the vast majority of Muslims who don't agree with Wahhabiism have to join the fight against it. Up until now, most Muslims who are not themselves haters or fanatics have been silent about the crimes committed "in the name of Islam." They have essentially lied when they say, "that is not Islam." Of course it is Islam -- it's a significant sect within Islam, one only they can stop.

This excellent article in the Voice of America News explains this well:
The picture that emerges of Hasan is that of a deeply religious man embracing the most extreme forms of his faith, according to the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Zuhdi Jasser.

"It appears that he started to be driven towards the Wahhabi version of Islam, which is a very exclusivist, fundamentalist and militant version," said Jasser. "And their mentality is that the Islamic state takes preeminence over any other form of government - to impose the Islamic state by any means necessary."

Jasser, who says his family came to the United States from Syria in search of political and religious freedom, has a message for his fellow Muslim Americans.

"It is time for us to publicly debate imams that do believe that there should be a role for politics in the mosque because until we can separate mosque and state, the virus that infiltrates the minds of people like Hasan is going to continue," he said. "It only can be rooted out by an Islam that is at ease with liberty, freedom, and believes in American constitutional law."

I could not agree more strongly than I do with Mr. Jasser. There is no excuse left for mainstream American Muslims to not argue publicly against the extremist Muslims.

They also need to stand up and condemn groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, which use Islam as an excuse to murder Jews and Israelis.
Jasser adds that the U.S. military must be more vigilant of service members who appear conflicted between their religious beliefs and their allegiance to the armed forces. He says Hasan gave clear indications of such a personal conflict and that it should not have been tolerated.

"We need to start looking at warning signs and not allowing political correctness to make us anesthetized to a radical political ideology that has within it a theological construct," said Jasser.

U.S. officials say that while Hasan's correspondence with a radical imam was tracked, the messages did not contain any statements of violent intent.

No violent intent? That is total nonsense. We are at war with radical Islam. Any U.S. soldier or civilian who is attracted by our enemy's cause needs to be considered a great danger.
Analysts note that many people come to the attention of U.S. authorities for a variety of reasons, many of which turn out to be benign. Identifying who will commit a heinous crime - and when and where it might occur - is difficult, if not impossible, according to former State Department intelligence analyst Terrell Arnold.

"You need to take from Fort Hood the basic lesson that you cannot actually predict these things," he said. "The basic problem (in predicting attacks) is life in an open society that has a high regard for individual liberties, and also life in a military community where people are very careful to avoid offending other members of the group by making charges they cannot substantiate in advance."

That is complete, politically correct nonsense. Mr. Arnold is an idiot if he believes what he is saying. You actually can predict some things. For instance, if someone is suffering from schizophrenia and believes others are out to kill him and he is collecting guns, you can predict he is a very dangerous person who should not be allowed to run his own affairs. If someone else is telling his fellow soldiers that suicide bombers are heroes and he is communicating with Wahhabi imams in Yemen, you can predict he is not fit for service in the U.S. Army.
Several Muslim religious leaders in the United States have condemned the Fort Hood attack. And much like they did after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, many Muslim Americans say they fear becoming targets of suspicion and even hate.

Civil rights advocates warn against targeting and punishing the nation's Muslim population for the actions of one man. Vanita Gupta, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, says public outrage over the Fort Hood attack is justified. But she adds there is a danger.

". . . that we create policies and practices that result in deep suspicion of entire swaths of people in a very unfair and, frankly, un-American manner," said Gupta.

I agree with Ms. Gupta that we should not distrust Muslim Americans because of what Maj. Hasan did. However, we should distrust radical Muslim fanatics; and mainstream Muslims must do whatever they can to expose the radicals and argue publicly against their interpretation of Islam.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rapists should NEVER be released from prison

We have this idiotic system in which violent sex offenders must register with local authorities once they are released from prison in order to make it easier to keep a tab on them. Really? Would it not be A LOT EASIER to keep a tab on them if we never released them from prison in the first place?

Any man who would do what Anthony Sowell was convicted of doing in 1989 is not worth taking a chance on. He never should have been released. He was sentenced to 15 years, but he should have got life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer:
It began at 6 a.m. on July 22, 1989, when police showed up at a motel on Euclid and Lee roads in East Cleveland. The woman was waiting for her boyfriend, and she feared officers were going raid the motel.

Sowell was there, as well, and lured the woman to his car and told her that her boyfriend would want her to stay with Sowell until after the officers left. Sowell drove her to his home -- a third-floor apartment on Page Road in East Cleveland.

Once inside, Sowell threw her on his bed, choked her and repeatedly raped her.

When she tried to leave, Sowell tied her hands with a necktie, wrapped a belt around her feet and stuffed a rag in her mouth. He threw her on the bed and began pacing up and down the stairs.

He later came back into the room and fell asleep on the bed. The woman got her feet loose, spit out the rag and crawled out the window, onto the roof and screamed for help. She feared opening the squeaking door would wake Sowell.

"He told me that he was going to kill me, and I believed him," the woman told police.

Anthony Sowell did not kidnap, terrorize and rape his victim in 1989 because he had some grudge against her. He did that horrible deed because he is a psychopath, one who never should have been allowed out of his cage. Yet we sentenced him to 15 years behind bars, as if he would learn his lesson. Get real. Psychopaths don't learn lessons. They are irredeemable.

What was the result of our mistake in judgment about Anthony Sowell's nature? A lot more rapes and at least six murders.

The NY Daily News:
Cleveland Police were scrambling to identify the bodies of six women found in various stages of decomposition inside a convicted rapist's house of horrors over the weekend.

In a scenario ripped from "The Silence of the Lambs," Ohio ex-con Anthony Sowell allegedly strangled a series of women in his three-story house over a period of months - or even years.

Rotting bodies were found in upstairs bedrooms, the living room, a crawl space, a shallow grave in the backyard and another grave in the basement, police said.

The Sowell case not only demonstrates the insanity of letting convicted psychopaths back on the streets, it shows how incompetent so many of our police officers are.

The New York Times is reporting that "the police were notified repeatedly about violence there, but little was done. (A) neighbor ... said that about two weeks ago he found the rapist, Anthony Sowell, in the bushes alongside Mr. Sowell’s house naked and standing over a woman who was bloodied, beaten and naked. (He) said he called 911, and an ambulance soon took the woman away. But the police showed up two hours later and never interviewed him, Mr. Bess said."

None of that surprises me. A lot of police departments are filled with incompetent cops who are protected by their unions. Lawsuits make it too expensive to fire these boobs. And society suffers for it.

The Daily News:
"Not a pretty sight inside the home. I stood outside the home for about an hour and the stench from inside was overwhelming," said Cleveland Police spokesman Thomas Stacho.

Investigators were gathering DNA samples and dental records and combing through records of women reported missing since June 2005, when Sowell, 50, was freed after serving a 15-year prison term for choking and raping a woman.

Fearing the worst, some family members of two neighborhood women who went missing in April and June gathered in front of the house, joining reporters watching the police work.

A community vigil was being organized for Monday night.

All the dead women were black, and all died of strangulation, the coroner reported.

I wonder if this maniac had been white, as Garrido is, the reaction among his black neighbors would have been different. It's hard to say. It seems like any time a white criminal commits violence or other crimes against black victims, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton do everything possible to stir up racial hatred. But in a case like this, even if the murderer/rapist had been white, the heinousness of the crime may have caused everyone to just be numb to the normal rabblerousing.

The bottom line with regard to the victimization of blacks: Almost all of it is done by other blacks. The same is true with whites or Hispanics. Most crimes committed against anyone of any racial or ethnic group are committed by members of that same group. However, because of our racial history in the U.S., too many blacks continue to pay too much attention to the rare instances where blacks are harmed by whites. They ought to focus their attention on their own; just as white people who are crime victims should largely be looking at other white people.

The Daily News:
Police went to Sowell's house in a dicey neighborhood of southeast Cleveland on Thursday to arrest him for a new sexual assault and serve a search warrant.

Sowell wasn't home, but the smell was so bad the officers headed for the trash-strewn upstairs where they discovered the carnage.

A tipster spotted Sowell walking near his home on Saturday and alerted police, who arrested him without incident.

If the the Phillip Garrido case did not prove to you that keeping a sex-offender registration system in place is a huge waste of money, the Anthony Sowell case should.
Sowell had faithfully met with his parole officer and filled out all his sex offender paperwork.

Neighbors knew something was off about Sowell, who smelled so terrible their eyes would water.

"He came into my store last week and reeked so bad, I had to open the front and back doors," convenience store owner Eli Tayeh told the Los Angeles Times.

"I asked why he stunk. He shrugged, bought his beer and walked out."

But people blamed backed up sewers or Ray's Sausage company, housed in an adjacent building.

"We kept away from him and he kept away from us," said neighbor Tamica Pierceton, 26. "We should have said something to someone. I wish I had."

UPDATE: The AP is now reporting that in addition to the six bodies already found at Mr. Sowell's house of horrors, four more corpses were discovered:
CLEVELAND – Remains of four more people were unearthed from the backyard of a rapist's home Tuesday, raising to 10 the number of bodies found in and near the house, as police also searched boarded-up homes in the neighborhood where residents complained for years of a stench that one even said "smelled like a dead body."

"It appears that this man had an insatiable appetite that he had to fill," police Chief Michael McGrath said.