Friday, June 25, 2004
All the major news agencies, such as People, MTV, and Reuters, are reporting that Britney Spears is engaged to marry her dancer-boyfriend Kevin Federline. (MTV article)
This story is so big it crashed the Google news server. I tried to search Google News for "Britney Spears" and I got an error page.
This will be Britney's second marriage, but the first marriage doesn't count because it was annulled after 55 hours.
I have no idea why I'm writing about this because this is supposed to be a blog about serious news. But after writing this week about whether or not Britney Spears is fat, I feel obligated to post this followup story.
I think the whole "fat" story was a ruse to keep people's attention away from the real story, that Britney was marrying this Kevin fellow.
I wonder if her recent knee injury, which forced her to cancel her summer Onyx tour, has any relevance?
Kevin Federline's ex-girlfriend, actress Shar Jackson of the TV show "Moesha", is pregnant with their child and she's expecting in July. They already have a two-year-old daughter together.
Interesting comments at the blog Gene Expression about why Britney would want to marry her dancer.
One of my college roommates had an ex-girlfriend who was a dance major at Brigham Young University, mecca of Mormon youth, and she one day confided to him that almost all the male dance majors were closeted homosexuals.
Kevin Federline doesn't seem to be gay, based on the number of kids he already has.
Will there be an exodus of western workers from Saudi Arabia because of the Paul Johnson beheading? This is an issue that has hardly received any attention in the American news media. There was an Associated Press article from last weekend saying that this wasn't likely.
But according to an article in yesterday's Guardian, the situation is worse. The Guardian reports that western companies are offering increased pay to workers staying in Saudi Arabia in order to retain staff. BAE Systems, which as 2,400 expatriate staff in Saudi Arabia, is increasing its pay by £1000/month ($1823 at today's exchange rate).
The Guardian reports that an exodus of workers may be imminent. "In interviews with the Guardian, several workers in Riyadh and Jeddah suggested that the numbers who have already left or are planning to leave are much higher than has yet been reported." The article includes comments from various workers in Saudi Arabia.
Some may have wondered why the Saudi government was so eager to suddenly hunt down and kill al-Qaida operatives that seem to have been ignored for a long time. The answer is that the Saudis are worried about the threat to the country's economy and its oil profits.
There is no fear that the oil will suddenly stop flowing. There is such a large a amount of profit to be made from pumping the oil that it will continue to be pumped. But Saudi profits will be impacted if western companies have to significantly increase their prices for work they do in Saudi Arabia. And no one will want to do any other kind of business with Saudi Arabia.
There is no doubt that the Paul Johnson kidnapping and beheading has already financially hurt Saudi Arabia. So they will do what it takes to create the illusion that the problem is being taken care of and that it's safe for foreigners to live in the desert kingdom.
The Paul Johnson execution could potentially backfire against al-Qaida. It seems to me that Saudi Arabia was generally complacent about al-Qaida so long as al-Qaida wasn't directly hurting the wallets of the Saudi royal family. Saudi Arabia is now forced to fight more forcefully against al-Qaida.
He could have made it right with the book. But he hasn't. He is a revisionist of history. He has lied.
Monica Lewinsky has been talking it up in the United Kingdom about Bill Clinton’s memoirs. (It’s not clear why the British press are taking the lead on an American story.) The quote above is from an Associated Press article about her interview with the Daily Mail. She also told the Daily Mail the following:
I really didn't expect him to go into detail about our relationship.
But if he had and he'd done it honestly, I wouldn't have minded. ... I did though at least expect him to correct the false statements he made when he was trying to protect the presidency. Instead, he talked about it as though I had laid it all out there for the taking. I was the buffet and he just couldn't resist the dessert.
That's not how it was. This was a mutual relationship, mutual on all levels, right from the way it started and all the way through. ... I don't accept that he had to completely desecrate my character.
Reuters reports that Monica Lewinsky also did a television interview that will appear today on ITV. She had a similar statement in this interview:
I really didn't expect him to talk in detail about the relationship.
But what I was hoping, and did expect was for him to acknowledge and correct the inaccurate and false statements that he, his staff and the (Democratic National Committee) made about me when they were trying to protect the presidency.
Monica Lewinsky is mad that Bill Clinton didn’t acknowledge that they had a mutual relationship. He just calls it an “inappropriate encounter” in his book.
Lewinsky also says, “In the process he destroyed me, and that was the way he was going to have to do that, to get through impeachment,” and she says, “I have spent the past several years working so hard to just move on, and to try and build a life for myself.”
My take on this is the Monica is completely justified in pointing out how Bill Clinton has lied about their relationship in order to make himself look better.
On the other hand, she should stop whining about how the whole thing destroyed her life. In fact, and this is a sad indictment of our popular culture, the incident made her. She designs handbags, she’s a spokesperson for diet company Jenny Craig, and she hosted the reality TV show Mr. Personality. She wouldn’t have done any of these things were it not for Bill Clinton. She’d just be a big nobody. And that’s big in more than one sense of the word.
Former U.S. Congressman John LeBoutillier writes the following in his blog (link):
A Hidden Scandal: I have previously predicted - wrongly so far - of another huge, national scandal involving both political parties that was soon to break into the public.
So far it has not.
Only God knows for sure.
But if and when it does, it will change the political landscape. And if it comes out before the November presidential election, it will also greatly impact the race.
It is huge. It involves both parties. It has nothing to do with sex. It involves the biggest cover-up in our political history.
And it is a total disgrace.
Pray that the truth comes out - and soon.
I have no clue what he's talking about, but since he's a former U.S. Congressman, I presume he has some inside knowledge that us regular people don't. But I wish he'd write about it more clearly!
I tried to search for his site about such a prediction, but didn't find anything except a recent post about the Valerie Plame CIA leak scandal. On Wednesday, George W. Bush talked to a special prosecutor regarding that issue for more than an hour. (link to Washington Post article) But that is a scandal that only involves the Bush White House.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Mary-Kate, the brunette half of the Olsen twins, is anorexic, and she entered a treatment facility. I discovered this from looking through my referral logs, of all places. It seems that everyone else already knows about it, except me. It was reported by Reuters and you can read about it here at CNN.com.
How did it show up in my referral logs? Well I was just writing about the Olsen twins turning 18 in one post, and in another post I wrote about whether Britney Spears is fat, and I commented that I preferred her body to the anorexic body of Calista Flockhart. Google got these posts mixed up!
There is a photo of Mary-Kate Olsen accompanying the CNN.com article. And she does look anorexic.
I blame fashion magazines for endorsing a standard of beauty that encourages young women to feel that they are fat when they are actually too skinny. It would be better for society if these fashion magazines instead showed photos of women with more normal weights.
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Check out Big Mike's Wedding Blog for the latest news on celebrity weddings
In Tuesday’s New York Times, Paul Krugman rants like a mad lunatic about a guy named William Krar who plead guilty in November, 2003 to one count of Possessing a Dangerous Chemical Weapon.
Krugman wants you to think that there is some kind of big cover-up, and that John Ashcroft is ignoring the huge problem of domestic terrorism and only focusing on the much smaller problem of Islamic terrorism.
The problem is that there isn’t any evidence that this guy is anything but a nutty survivalist who likes to stockpile a bunch of weapons just in case the country goes into civil disorder. According to CNN.com, “investigators said they were unable to determine exactly what he intended to do with the arsenal.” (link) For the guy to be a “terrorist,” he has to be part of an organization and have actual plans to commit terrorist acts. There is none of that in this story. No plans, and no organization except one friend he had in New Jersey.
Apparently, the FBI did an extensive investigation and didn’t find anything. The article at CNN says, “The findings led to one of the most extensive investigations of domestic terrorism since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.” After this big extensive investigation, the only people convicted of any crimes are William Klar, his friend form New Jersey, and his common-law wife.
Meanwhile Krugman’s article contains an outright lie. Krugman writes:
In April 2003, John Ashcroft's Justice Department disrupted what appears to have been a horrifying terrorist plot. In the small town of Noonday, Tex., F.B.I. agents discovered a weapons cache containing fully automatic machine guns, remote-controlled explosive devices disguised as briefcases, 60 pipe bombs and a chemical weapon — a cyanide bomb — big enough to kill everyone in a 30,000-square-foot building.”
As I said, there was no evidence of any “horrifying plot,” but that I’ll just call puffing. The lie is that Paul Krugman says the FBI found a “chemical weapon—a cyanide bomb”. According to the actual DOJ/FBI press release, there was no cyanide bomb. What was found was sodium cyanide, plus other chemicals that might be mixed with it to create cyanide gas. According to CNN, there were “nearly two pounds of almost pure sodium cyanide.” By itself, powdered sodium cyanide just sits there and isn’t that deadly unless you eat it. Sodium cyanide by itself is not a bomb. When chemical precursors to bombs were found in Iraq, liberals like Krugman laughed and said “ha ha this doesn’t count as chemical weapons.” What hypocrisy from the liberal left!
I sent the following email to the New York Times asking for a correction:
To Whom It May Concern:
In Paul Krugman's column of June 22, Paul Krugman writes that the FBI discovered a "cyanide bomb" in the possession of a William Klar. He mentions this "bomb" three times in his column.
But based on the press release from the Department of Justice, Klar had in his posession the compound sodium cyanide, as well as other chemicals that could have been used to create dangerous cyanide gas with it, but there is nothing about him having an actual cyanide bomb in his possession.
This is the URL of the Department of Justice press release:
And according to news reports I've read in other news publications, Klar had 800 grams of pure sodium cyanide, but there is nothing in these reports about there being a cyanide or other chemical bomb. Sodium cyanide by itself doesn't explode.
I think that this is an extremely important distinction that should be corrected.
There’s a story in today’s New York Times about a muscular baby. (link to story)
It seems that the baby’s mother is a professional sprinter in the 100 meter dash, and her grandfather, a construction worker, was able to unload 330 pound curbstones by hand. The mother has one gene with a mutation that blocks the production of a chemical called myostatin. The baby has two copies of this gene. The unidentified father must also have a copy of the mutated gene (otherwise how else would the baby get two copies).
The spin in the New York Times and on CNBC (yes, the story was on CNBC this afternoon) is that this will lead scientists to develop ways to fight muscular dystrophy and other muscle-wasting diseases such as AIDS.
But all I see is the dark side of this story. First of all, the kid (who is four years old) may have health problems when he gets older due to his unnatural lack of myostatin. For example, some think that his heart muscles will grow too big and he’ll wind up dying from heart failure at an early age.
Beyond that, there’s the Pandora’s box created if a new muscle-enhancing drug is developed. Maybe it will help people with muscular dystrophy, but healthy people will want to take it to improve their athletic performance, or just because of the cosmetic benefits of having big muscles.
There has been a lot of interesting discussion at Slashdot. If bigger muscles are so great, why don’t people already have them? It was suggested that big muscles don’t create a survival advantage because the big muscles use up more calories, so the big muscled human would have to eat more food and wouldn’t be as good at surviving famines. The thin and wiry human would survive better in a primitive hunter/gatherer society.
The previous explanation suggests that there is no longer a disadvantage to having bigger muscles now that we live in a society with plenty of food for everyone. But there may be other health problems associated with bigger muscles. Whatever the health problems may be, there will be millions willing to suffer them in order to gain cosmetic and athletic benefits. Such is already the case with steroids.
Rance, whose blog may be a hoax, suggested that it’s pretty common for people in Hollywood to use steroids. It makes you wonder if the massive muscles seen on Brad Pitt in the movie Troy are natural. Watch a movie from the 1950s and see how skinny the men are compared to modern movies. Will myostatin blocking drugs create yet another chasm between those with access to these substances and the average man on the street?
This story also points out that the best athletes are not just regular people who have trained hard, but people who are blessed with genetics that allow them to excel in their sport. The mother was obviously a professional sprinter because of her muscle building gene. There is a certain sort of morality attached to being good at sports, that it’s a reward for hard training that other people are too lazy to engage in. But in reality being good at sports is just a combination of the right genes, combined with a natural human propensity to engage in activities we are good at.
There is additional blogosphere commentary about the muscular baby at Gene Expression.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
There is an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal (Soaked in New Jersey) about an increase in New Jersey’s state income taxes.
On Monday the Legislature passed Governor Jim McGreevey's "millionaire's tax" (which actually kicks in at $500,000 of household income, but never mind). The state's top marginal tax rate is set to rise by 41% -- to 8.97% from 6.37% -- and make New Jersey's top income bracket the fifth-highest in the country.
I agree with the Wall Street Journal editorial page on this issue. The desire to sock it to the rich may be with the best egalitarian intentions, but it’s bad policy, especially for a state such as New Jersey which is in a multi-state area, meaning that people can choose to live in a different state and still keep their same job.
In the short run the tax increase will increase New Jersey’s tax revenues. But in the long run, high taxes have negative effects on a state. People will have a greater preference to live in a neighboring state. Rich people working in New York City will be more likely to live in New York City than live in New Jersey. So New Jersey will lose some of its best taxpaying citizens, the rich people.
Washington, DC suffers from the same problem. Washington has a ridiculously high income tax rate compared to Virginia, so no one who has a good salary lives in Washington. If you earn $100,000/year, and the tax rate is 9.3% in Washington and 5.75% in Virginia, then you save $3,550/year by living in Virginia. Washington will never be anything but a pathetic financially starved city until it lowers its income tax rates. (Note: the actual tax savings are somewhat less than $3,550 because the top rates kick in at $30,000 in Washington and $17,000 in Virginia. Source: Bankrate.com).
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Word on the internet is that Britney Spears is fat.
According to the World Entertainment News Network, “Britney Spears begged designers to airbrush photos for her upcoming World tour – because she looked too fat in them.” (via teenmusic.com, 4/2/2004)
I have no idea where this photo came from or
why Britney Spears looks like she’s half naked.
And from the desk of Rick Sky (via Borkowski, 5/25/04):
Simon Cowell has branded Britney Spears fat and told her to visit a gym. The ‘Pop Idol’ judge said the singer should have toned up before performing in her underwear on her Onyx Hotel tour. He said: “I shouldn’t say what I’m about to say but the shot of her in her underwear onstage – I would have gone to the gym before I did that.”
Allegations that Britney is fat have been around for a long time. Back in 2000, someone wrote on the usenet, “Britney Spears is fat in all senses of the word. She's chunky. Heavy. ‘Big boned.’ Whatever!”
Well I say that Britney Spears is incredibly hot. Way better looking than anorexic celebrities like Calista Flockhart. So stop calling her fat!
What do you think? Leave a comment
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Check out Big Mike's Wedding Blog for the latest news on celebrity weddings
This is actually non-news, because we all know that Bill Clinton lied about everything related to his sex life. But since I like to cover political sex scandals, and the Bill Clinton Monica Lewinski relationship is the mother of all political sex scandals, it deserves a mention in the blog.
And I might add that this sex scandal produced the Starr Report, the most entertaining document ever created in the history of the United States government. It was well worth all the taxpayer money used to produce it.
Clinton's own legal battle with independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr accounts for one of the book's more peculiar revelations. In his August 1998 grand jury testimony, Clinton said he began an inappropriate sexual relationship with Monica S. Lewinsky in "early 1996." His testimony, as was widely noted at the time, was in conflict with Lewinsky's story: She testified the relationship began on Nov. 15, 1995, in the midst of a government shutdown.
Starr's prosecutors, in their report to Congress, accused Clinton of lying about the date of their relationship in order to avoid admitting that he had sexual relations with an intern, as Lewinsky still was in the fall of 1995 before being hired for a paying job in the winter.
Without explanation, in his memoir Clinton departs from his grand jury testimony and corroborates her version: "During the government shutdown in late 1995, when very few people were allowed to come to work in the White House, and those who were there were working late, I'd had an inappropriate encounter with Monica Lewinsky and would do so again on other occasions between November and April, when she left the White House for the Pentagon."
And there you have it. Clinton said one thing to the grand jury, and another thing in his book. Liar, liar, pants on fire.
The problem for totalitarian governments in the internet age is that it’s hard to stop people from reading banned material without turning off the entire internet. People in Iran and China have been figuring out how to get around the filters using proxies and other methods.
Will the internet and blogs bring new freedoms to repressive regimes? I hope so, but it’s too soon to tell.
Xanga and Blogger are perhaps the two most popular blogging tools. Both are free and include free hosting. Yet on the other hand, they are so vastly different in some aspects that I’m not even sure they deserve to be grouped in the same category. No wonder that the concept of blogging is so hard to explain to outsiders!
Xanga and Blogger are so different from each other that I suspect that a lot of my readers have no idea what Xanga is actually about. Well, to sum up the difference in a nutshell, Xanga is the place where teenage girls go to blog, and Blogger is where the serious bloggers go. Well the serious bloggers also go to Movable Type and Typepad. The teenage girls also go to Live Journal. But this is a comparison between Blogger and Xanga.
I decided to go undercover and find out what this strange Xanga place is all about. I created a blog. I poked around. I visited many random blogs. Half of the blogs are impossible to read. Teenagers think it’s the most incredibly cool thing to type in aLtErNaTiNg LoWeRcAsE aNd CaPiTaL lEtTtErS, and to mangle the English language in as many other ways as possible. This is a quote from an actual entry from a typical Xanga blog written by a high school aged girl:
hmm i have no idea of what to think when i hear about the sat II, me being stupid of course, i forgot to count how many i left blank, and im really scaring myself...hmm i duno, i seriously considered cancelling my scores but whatever if i did really bad ill just take it over again...
I’m not surprised she didn’t do too well on her SAT II. She made it to the 11th grade and no one taught her about those things called sentences that begin with a capital letter and end with a period. No one on Xanga believes in using capital letters. Many don’t believe in paragraphs either.
Xanga seems to give its users a considerable amount of control over their template. I couldn’t figure it out myself, but most of the teenagers seem to have figured out how to make their blogs nearly impossible to read by using awful color combinations, fonts, backgrounds, layouts, etc. Check out this blog for a typical example of something that’s impossible to read.
Occasionally you may actually find something interesting at Xanga. Like this blog, Carrie’s Site of Negativity. Interesting in a very scary and depressing kind of a way. The girl writes using real sentences and paragraphs, but unfortunately she’s anorexic and suicidal, and I fear that one day there won’t be any more posts because she’ll be in the hospital or dead.
PC Magazine did a survey of blogging software in December, 2003, and they gave Xanga four out of five stars, while only giving Blogger two stars. This was completely uncalled for considering that they were comparing blog apples to blog oranges. But the reviewer was looking at the actual features of the interface and not what you can actually do with the blog. So in that sense, Xanga is a pretty nifty application. It’s very easy to set up a blog, and the site is very fast and responsive. Xanga has a really great commenting system, and a very easy way to create a list of links to other blogs on the Xanga site.
But PC Magazine seems to have ignored the fact that there’s no easy way to make a list of links to sites outside of Xanga. Or an easy way for people to access your archives. You can’t even search through your own blog posts unless you upgrade to a paid subscription. PC Magazine ignores the fact that Google won’t be able to spider your Xanga blog (because it uses dynamic urls and has no links to archives) so your blog entries won’t show up in search engine results. And you can’t use Xanga to create a blog with your own domain name. Xanga is completely useless as a serious blogging tool.
Subsequent to the PC Magazine article, Blogger made some major improvements. The new Blogger is designed to make it easier for neophytes to get started, and at the same time it adds important new features that were previously lacking, including comments and individual post pages. This blog uses Blogger and takes advantage of both these new features.
In conclusion, there’s no reason for anyone to use Xanga unless they are in high school and all of their friends have blogs on Xanga. Otherwise, Blogger wins easily. It’s completely free, with free hosting, and you have complete power to modify the HTML on your template if you’re so inclined. And you can also set up a blog using your own domain name.
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This an additional recommendation for anyone starting a new blog. Although Blogger offers free hosting, you can’t point a domain there. There are a lot of advantages to having your own domain, and it hardly costs any money at all. I strongly recommend anyone starting a new blog to register a domain name at Go Daddy (the least expensive domain registrar that I know of), and then host your domain name for free at Netfirms. Netfirms is where this blog is hosted. Netfirms has the best free hosting that I’ve seen on the web; all they do is stick a banner ad on top of the page. A lot of other free hosting plans bombard you with popups and other types of nasty advertising. And when you’re ready to upgrade to advertising-free paid hosting, Netfirms has good deals.
Monday, June 21, 2004
Clay Aiken is the former American Idol contestant who is now a big pop music superstar. But with his fame comes discussion about whether he might be gay.
The Gay and Lesbian newsmagazine The Advocate features a special report devoted to this important question. The following deep commentary is offered:
My boyfriend talks about Aiken’s goal to become a special-needs teacher as one that screams out as a career track often pursued by gay men. And my boyfriend also points out that there’s a definite subset of closeted Christian males in their 20s (having been one himself) who have so successfully repressed their sexuality that they don’t even know that they’re really gay.
Nevertheless, Clay has publicly stated that he’s not gay. He also may have publicly stated that he’s a virgin. Or maybe he just implied that he’s a virgin. And that he’s never had a girlfriend.
Of course there’s a perfectly logical explanation for this that has nothing to do with Clay Aiken being gay. He was just a nerdy guy who was a complete loser with girls until he became famous. But that explains why he was a virgin. Now that there are thousands of young women who’d love to have sex with him because he’s famous, he is being held to a higher standard to prove his manhood.
But there's a perfectly plausible explanation here. He has hang-ups with respect to Christianity, shyness, and never having had any sexual experiences, so he just doesn’t know what to do now that he’s the guy that millions of girls actually want.
What do you think? Leave a comment.
Michelle Malkin comments about websites that were counting down the days until the Olsen Twins turned 18 (the event already happened). Malkin says "Someday when they have daughters, I hope they look back on what they do with these Web sites and feel ashamed of themselves." (Hat tip Politburo Diktat.)
Malkin needs to get rid of all that righteous anger she has. Hollywood markets the teenaged Olsen twins to give men a little titillation, and I'm sure the twins are enjoying all the money they are getting from their crappy movies and TV shows. (Full House had to be one of the worst shows ever aired in the history of TV.)
The only thing worthy about Malkin's post is that it contains a put down of Wonkette, with a link to those faux-lezbo pictures of her and Jessica Cutler. Malkin obviously has that page bookmarked in her web browser.
Andrew Sullivan is still mad about what he considers to be a cover-up (link) and he includes a link to a Time Magazine article that contains some brief descriptions of heretofore unrevealed abuses by Military Intelligence interrogators, but nothing about cover-ups. This is what Andrew writes:
We are getting information that electrocution of genitals, rape and murder are also part of the "coercive interrogation techniques" allowed at Saddam's former torture-palace. All the more reason to find out if these methods were approved by higher-ups, all the way to the secretary of defense. I will be harangued for continuing to write about this. But it is a huge deal if torture has been sanctioned by this administration in secret and on the authority of only the president, against U.S. and international law. We need to know what is in the April 2003 memo entitled "Coercive Interrogation Techniques approved by the Secretary of Defense." Did Rumsfeld authorize Abu Ghraib? Is he responsible? Is the administration knowingly scape-goating underlings for doing what they were told? The memo should help clear it up, and presumably exonerate Rumsfeld. So why won't he clear his name? It should be subpoenaed, if necessary.
As you know if you’ve read my blog, I am mad at the news media for pushing the Abu Ghraib story but downplaying the beheadings of American hostages. Especially with respect to the repeated showings of photos from Abu Ghraib.
I also believe there is something to the viewpoint that in order to fight a successful war against insurgents, we need to use some bad-ass tactics, including coercive interrogation techniques.
But I am outraged that low level soldiers are being court-martialed while higher-ups who implemented the policies pretend they know nothing. No one is man enough to say “yes, this was the policy, and let me tell you why it’s necessary for us to be bad-asses…”
On June 19, the New York Times published the following description of the Paul Johnson photos (link):
The most detailed photograph showed the head on the back of Mr. Johnson's body with a knife leaning against its forehead and blood splashed all over and around the orange jumpsuit he was wearing. Another showed a hand lifting up the head and a third, more grainy shot showed the body from a different angle.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s certainly the case when the words are trying to describe what a picture looks like. Just show the picture!
Among the arguments people gave for not showing the picture is that it’s not really necessary for people to know about them. What additional information do you get out of the story that you wouldn’t get if you were merely told that Paul Johnson was beheaded?
But apparently the New York Times seems to think that a description of the photos posted on the internet is newsworthy. Describing what the photos look like, but not printing them, only makes sense from the perspective that the New York Time has a political agenda. Printing a grisly photo would inflame Americans more than a written description. This is why, in a criminal trial, the prosecutors always want pictures of the murder victim shown, but the defense wants them excluded.
We are currently engaged in a trial of public opinion. The political left wants the United States to lose the trial of public opinion because they think that everything the United States does is bad. They think we have no moral authority to hunt down our enemies because we are just as bad, if not worse, than they are.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
I will begin this post by answering the question with a resounding “no,” in case a reader might suspect that, because of the headline, I somehow support the terrorists.
But I was looking at the Yahoo webpage an hour ago, and I couldn’t help but notice the following headline: al-Qaida Head Justifies Targeting Johnson.
I think it’s certainly worthwhile to spend a little time pondering the motives of our enemies. From the AP article:
In an article posted Sunday on a Web site used by Islamic radicals, Abdulaziz al-Moqrin called Johnson "an infidel, a warrior of the military."
Johnson, who had worked on Apache helicopters for Lockheed Martin in Saudi Arabia, "works for military aviation and he belongs to the American army, which kills, tortures and harms Muslims everywhere, which supports enemies (of Islam) in Palestine, Philippines, Kashmir," al-Moqrin wrote.
The article, posted on the Web site "Sout al-Jihad," or "Voice of Holy War," was written after the kidnapping but apparently before Johnson was killed on Friday.
You will note that there are two reasons given for this horrific beheading: (1) Paul Johnson was an infidel; and (2) he worked on Apache helicopters, thus was a “warrior of the military.”
One might get caught up in reading the lengthier explanation of the evils of the American military, but it seems to me that the very fact that Paul Johnson was an infidel was reason enough for the terrorists. The name of the website is “Sout al-Jihad.” Al-Qaida leaders believe they are engaged in an Islamic holy war against infidels.
Paul Johnson was actually a civilian employee of Lockheed Martin, but this is a technical distinction that al-Qaida doesn’t care about. If they believe they are at war with the U.S. military, then a guy who fixes Apache helicopters is a natural target.
And what exactly is the beef with the United States military? Besides Afghanistan and Iraq, Abdulaziz al-Moqrin mentions “Palestine,” the Philippines, and Kashmir. These are three regions where the goal of Islamic terrorists is to take the place over and kick out the infidels.
United States has no direct involvement in those three conflicts. Israel, the Philippines, and India are sovereign nations which are naturally going to fight back against terrorists trying to seize their lands in the name of Islam.
The problem with some in the West is that they are reluctant to take sides in these regional conflicts. I sadly admit to not knowing as much as I should about what’s going on in the Philippines, but with respect to India and Israel I will flat out say that those two nations are in the right and the terrorists fighting against them are in the wrong. The Islamists view these regions as conflict points in a jihad, or holy war, whose ultimate goal is converting the entire world to Islam through force.
Israel tried to offer the Palestinians a deal in which both sides would live in peace, but the Palestinians under Yasser Arafat left the negotiating table and started the intifada. Arafat said that with no right of return there would be no deal. A right of return would mean the eventual demographic destruction of Israel, because massive waves of returning Palestinians would make Jews a minority in their own country.
India rightfully owns Kashmir. India is a democracy whose citizens enjoy the freedom of religion. Indians are free to believe in any religion they want. Which is a marked contrast to Islamic nations where disbelieving in Islam can be punished by beheading. That’s right, the beheading of Paul Johnson is not some new invention of al-Qaida, but the standard way that Islamic nations have meted out death sentences. It seems to be a common practice in Saudi Arabia. From a 1999 article I found in the Guardian Observer (Beheadings rise in the desert kingdom):
They call them the 'Chop Squares', the killing grounds across the kingdom of Saudi Arabia where the condemned meet their deaths at the hands of a sword-wielding executioner.
If you are found guilty of any of the following in the kingdom - murder, rape, armed robbery, drug smuggling, apostasy (turning your back on Islam) or witchcraft - the price is beheading.
That’s the kind of government the Islamic terrorists would like to set up in Kashmir, one where people are subject to beheading for not believing in Islam.
I guess this rambling post has no point except to express my dislike for Islamic terrorist organizations, the kind of governments they would like to set up, and those who have even the least bit of sympathy for them. And my first sentence was misleading, too. If the terrorists truly believe that we are their enemy in a holy war, then from their perspective the beheading of Paul Johnson was “justified.” And it’s because of their unwavering and fanatic belief in their Koranic war against us that we have no choice but the fight them until they are destroyed.