Watching Football with My Four-Year-Old

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Craig Sunter http://youtu.be/PnGIakNY7lk

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Craig Sunter http://youtu.be/PnGIakNY7lk

There was a time when I let my babies “style” my hair while I read or watched tv.

Now, I just give them money. :-)

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RIP Leonard Nimoy

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Shashi Bellamkonda https://www.flickr.com/photos/drbeachvacation/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Shashi Bellamkonda https://www.flickr.com/photos/drbeachvacation/

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The Cliche-Ridden Reaction to the Unmasking of Jihadi John

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matt Lemmon https://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matt Lemmon https://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/

The world has a name and a face to go with the mask and the knife.

It turns out that Jihadi John, the serial killer in the ISIS videos, is an educated, well-to-do Londoner named Mohammed Emwazi. The early coverage of Mr Emwazi was the usual fill-in-the-blanks hand-wringing claptrap. Nobody said that Mr Emwazi’s murders were workplace violence, but that was one of the few cliches they missed.

We were treated to the standard “he’s such a gentle person” from his “shocked” acquaintances, and the “what made this fine young man into a killer” stuff. There were the fill-in-the-blanks attacks blaming Western governments for Mr Emwazi’s murderous behavior.

It seems that British security thought Mohammed Emwazi might be a security risk and took steps to stop him from going to join up with ISIS. According to his apologists, that is what “radicalized” this  “gentle, kind young man … a beautiful human being” who was a “victim” of “harassment” by British security agencies. The British government followed through by defending their security services from this absurd charge.

This posturing, which, considering Mr Emwazi’s crimes, verges on the malefic, completely ignores the rather well documented fact that Britsh security services were correct to be suspicious of this “beautiful human being.” They thought he might be a terrorist. Imagine that.

There were other reactions mixed in with the what-made-him-this-way stuff. The only adult photo of M Emwazi sans mask that we have so far shows him wearing what looks like a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap. The Pirates are not flattered by the association. First, they took to Twitter to disavow their murdering fan. Then they issued a statement saying that everyone in the organization found it “sickening” to see Jihadi John wearing their insignia.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to use all means at his disposal to hunt down Jihadi John and his fellow killers. A former teacher of Mr Emwazi’s has stepped forward with the information that the “kind, gentle young man” had to undergo anger management therapy while he was in secondary school.

There has been a spate of articles discussing the radicalizing atmosphere at Westminister University where Mr Emwazi took his degree. A former student at the school wrote an article for the Washington Post describing the atmosphere in the school in an article titled “Jihadi John, a graduate of my radical university.”  The Daily Mail has joined in with a story titled “The Campus of Hate.”  CNN ran a similar story  titled “Why Jihadi John is so Worrying.” 

It turns out that Jihadi John is an example of what Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil.” Evil can be gripping when we view a dramatized and glamorized version of it in a movie. The gorgeous sound track, great script and world class acting can make evil seem interesting.

Of course, what we’re watching in these films is not evil. It’s talent being used to give evil a gloss. Real world evil only has one way to get our attention, and that’s by horrifying us. Then, it gets caught in the trap of its own boring, one-dimensional banality.

That’s why ISIS keeps coming up with more horrific ways to kill people and why it’s begun putting out videos of  mass executions instead of videos of murdering people one at a time. The public stops watching ISIS’ murder videos if they don’t find something more horrific to get attention.

Evil only destroys. It does not create. And destruction becomes numbing with its repetitiveness.

Jihadi John is not an evil god. He is also not a “kind, gentle, beautiful human being.” He is a stone killer with a religious shtick. He, and all his murdering “brothers,” must be hunted to the ground. Civilization in a whole region of the world depends on it.

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Mexico Needs to Stop the Faux Outrage at the Pope and Get Real

Protests Against Violence in Mexico. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by  John S and James L. Knight https://www.flickr.com/photos/knightfoundation/

Protests Against Violence in Mexico. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by John S and James L. Knight https://www.flickr.com/photos/knightfoundation/

Evidently, Pope Francis was concerned about problems in Argentina and, in a private correspondence,  said, “Hopefully we are in time to avoid Mexicanization.”

When this statement became public, there was tsk-tsking in all the predictable quarters and Mexico went into the usual knee-jerk outrage and demands for apologies. I’m not sure if the Mexican president said he was “hurt” by the Pope’s remarks, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Everybody is “hurt” by things that couldn’t possibly hurt these days, including private remarks in private letters written by people they don’t know.

Whatever.

The Vatican apologized. Sort of. Here’s the sort-of apology:

‘The pope intended only to emphasize the seriousness of the phenomenon of the drug trafficking that afflicts Mexico and other countries in Latin America,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. “It is precisely this importance that has made the fight against drug trafficking a priority for the government.”

Now, according to the New York Post, Mexico is rebuffing the Pope’s sort-of apology.

I know this puts me entirely outside the politically correct industry of constant complaint and apology, but Mexico needs to get real.

I’m not outraged by the Pope’s comment. I am outraged by the long-standing corruption in Mexico’s government which has allowed drug cartels to kill, rape, torture and terrify civilians for decades.

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Julieta Alvarez Leal https://www.flickr.com/photos/soaringbird/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Julieta Alvarez Leal https://www.flickr.com/photos/soaringbird/

The murders of women in Juarez has been going on for decades. The people there have staged marches, asking for police protection. When families reported that their daughters were missing, the police told them they had run off with their boyfriends. When the mutilated bodies were recovered, the police told the families the girls were prostitutes. Even if that had been true, it had nothing to do with the fact that the women had obviously been murdered; except in the minds of these Mexican police.

Mexico’s corrupt police have allowed the situation to fall into a near state of anarchy in parts of the country in which citizens are murdered and battles occur that rival actual war zones. Tourists have been advised to avoid Mexico because of the violence.

This violence and corruption play a major role in the situation in which the Mexican people are so unhappy with their home country that they risk walking across the desert to get into this country. I’ve been saying for a long time — to deaf ears, I might add — that if America wants to stop the influx of illegal immigrants at our Southern border, we need to help Mexico develop good government. That would mean, among other things, that we need to stop exploiting Mexico, which gets into corporatism.

Government in Mexico is a failure. It is not just and it certainly is not stable. If Mexico had a just and stable government, these people would not leave their homes and families to make the perilous journey to this country. They would stay in the comforts of their own lives rather than go live as strangers in a strange land. They would stay home, if home was livable.

So, the Pope said something that was based on actual fact, and the Mexican government goes through the faux outraged dignity routine and demands more and better apologies.

The real apology should be made to the Mexican people by the Mexican police, Mexican elected officials and everyone else in Mexico who has failed their people so abysmally for decades. I’ll go back to the women of Juarez to make a point: If this violence against women had been addressed at Juarez — as a legitimate police force and a legitimate federal government would have done — it would not have worsened and spread into the rest of the country. Instead, it was ignored and allowed to continue. The official response seems to have been misogynist jingoism rather than police work and justice for the women of Juarez.

I think, instead of “rebuffing” the Vatican’s apologies, Mexico needs to get real. The Mexican government is the one that should apologize, first to its own citizens and second to the world community, for allowing corruption in its police force and its government to continue unabated and unchallenged for decades.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Thomassin Mickael https://www.flickr.com/photos/mickou/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Thomassin Mickael https://www.flickr.com/photos/mickou/

Will Mexico be able to pull itself out of the abyss of bandit government where the nation is run by drug cartels and the people flee the result of that corruption in such mass numbers that it has created a crisis of illegal immigration in this country? Not unless it decides it wants to, and not unless this decision goes from the top to the bottom.

I would guess that being an honest official of any sort, be that cop, elected official, priest, teacher or clerk, is dangerous business in Mexico. From the things my former constituents from Mexico have told me, the corruption honeycombs the country and all its institutions.

I don’t think the Pope should apologize to anyone for his comment about Mexico. The word choice may have been inept, and the fact that he said such a thing is sure to get him hammered by gaffe reporters and the politically correct censorship cops. But the comment was based on a sober reality that no amount of politically-correct censorship can change.

Mexico does not need the band-aid of politically correct censorship. Mexico needs a just and stable government.

 

 

What is Conversion Therapy?

Where I worked for 18 years. Notice the Seminole warrior on top the dome and the oil derrick to the right. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matthew Rutledge https://www.flickr.com/photos/rutlo/

Where I worked for 18 years. Notice the Seminole warrior on top the dome and the oil derrick to the right. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matthew Rutledge https://www.flickr.com/photos/rutlo/

Representative Sally Kern has managed to get a ban on bans of what is called “conversion therapy” out of a House committee. I do not know if she will manage to get it to a vote of the full House.

I published a post yesterday, summarizing those two facts. The resulting conversation has left me confused, which is why I’m writing this post now.

I honestly do not know what “conversion therapy” is, except what I get from the name itself. A year ago, I would have had to vote on this particular piece of legislation. I still react to proposed legislation like a legislator.

My basic belief in these matters is that legislative bodies do more harm than good when they try to make medical therapies illegal. An example would be vacuum aspiration. This therapy is used in elective abortions, and is tainted in most people’s eyes. Even though I am strongly pro life, I would not vote for a piece of legislation making vacuum aspiration illegal. It has other uses, and even if it didn’t, it would not be my place as a legislator to determine its worthiness as a therapy in medical situations.

Every pro life bill I passed was based on the fact that the pregnant woman and the unborn child are both human beings deserving of protections under the law.

I look at the question concerning “conversion therapy” through that lens. I am prejudiced at the outset against laws such as the one that has passed in California outlawing “conversion therapy” for several reasons. First, I do not think that making such a determination is within legislative competence. Second, I believe that the entire discussion about “conversion therapy” is freighted with political activism and outright lies. Second, I believe that this atmosphere of junk thinking and junk science concerning this issue and other issues like it has even infected professional associations.

I do not see how a professional association vote on whether or not something is true is anything more than a political statement. I do not take it seriously.

Now. To get back to the whole issue of conversion therapy. I would, based on the things I’ve said here, be inclined to vote for this bill. However, I would not be, at this juncture, set in concrete about it. I do not know enough about the therapy itself to judge.

That’s why I’m writing this post. I would welcome an intelligent discussion of this whole issue. I don’t, however, want a lot of ranting and raving, accusing and counter-accusing. Attacking individuals does not address the question of whether a  particular therapy is in some way so clearly and irrefutably harmful to the public health and safety that it must be made illegal. Attacking individuals sidesteps that whole question and obfuscates facts rather than illumines them.

I’m giving you an inside view into the kind of thinking that goes into legislative votes. Of course, this isn’t always true. If the public is a lynch mob, legislators are going to try to jump out in front of it and make it into a parade. I think that’s what happened in California, which is another reason why I’m chary of the law they passed. I think it was pandering and demagoguery rather than good legislation.

I’m going to back off now and see what bubbles up in the comboxes. If you have something to say that will shed genuine light on this topic, please say it. I would like to know more.

 

Jihadi John Unmasked

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matt Lemmon https://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matt Lemmon https://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/

“Jihadi John,” the murderer of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Peter Kassig, Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto is not a victim of poverty and discrimination. He is a well-to-do Londoner who obtained a degree in computer science from Westminster University. His name is Muhammed Emwazi.

Of course, the nonsense is already starting. According to CAGE, a Muslim-led human rights advocacy group in London, Emwazi was “harassed” by UK security services. International Business News immediately posted an article headlined: Jihadi John: Was ‘gentle’ Mohammed Emwazi radicalised due to harassment from UK security services? 

The harassment they cite is that Mr Emwazi had trouble obtaining permission to leave Britain. What they’re leaving out of their “analysis” is that UK security services were right about Mr Emwazi.

He was and is a terrorist murderer. I do not normally support the death penalty, but there are certain criminals — Adolph Eichmann, Osama bin Laden and Muhammed Emwazi come to mind — for whom the death penalty is necessary. This man needs to be put down and his ashes scattered over the sea in an anonymous location.

From Reuters:

LONDON (Reuters) – Investigators believe that the “Jihadi John” masked fighter who fronted Islamic State beheading videos is a British man named Mohammed Emwazi, two U.S. government sources said on Thursday.

He was born in Kuwait and comes from a prosperous family in London, where he grew up and graduated with a computer programming degree, according to the Washington Post.

In videos released by Islamic State (IS), the black-clad militant brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent appears to have decapitated hostages including Americans, Britons and Syrians.

The Washington Post said Emwazi, who used the videos to threaten the West and taunt leaders such as President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, was believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined IS.

History of the Crusades: The Battle of Tours, 732. Islam Halted

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I hope that you are following this series. Popular media and the anti-history that we are being taught gives an inaccurate view of the Crusades designed to be used in Christian bashing. This has reached the point that the President of the United States can allude to this propaganda as history in a speech about the genocide of Christians in a large part of the world today.

We need to know the truth.

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings in 633-638 AD. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost 1400 years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/02/history-of-the-crusades-the-rise-of-charles-martel-and-byzantine-iconoclasm-718-731/#ixzz3SsKgzub2

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Rep Kern Gets Ban on Bans of Gay Conversion Therapy Out of Committee

Representative Sally Kern. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Representative Sally Kern. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Representative Sally Kern got her bill banning bans on gay conversion therapy out of committee.

HB 1598 passed without debate on a unanimous vote after a committee substitute was accepted, also on a unanimous vote.

It now goes to the full House, where it may or may not come to a vote. For an explanation of the process, go here.

If it does come to a vote, we may get to see some entertaining debate.

From The Daily Oklahoman:

A bill that seeks to protect the practice of gay conversion counseling passed out of an Oklahoma House committee Tuesday.

House Bill 1598, which now goes to the full House, says the state will not prohibit or restrict counseling intended to rid people of attraction to those of their own gender. It also seeks to protect parents who want such counseling for their children.

Nothing prevents this type of counseling now, but Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said her bill is needed because the practice is under attack legislatively in other states.

“All across the nation, bills are being introduced to ban parents from having the right to take their children for counseling if they are struggling with same-sex attractions,” Kern said. “As you know, we do lots of bills that are pre-emptive, so this is pre-emptive to make sure that parental rights are upheld.”

Gay rights advocates and others vehemently opposed the bill, saying conversion therapy has been harmful to children, including leading to anxiety, depression, shame, guilt and, potentially, drug abuse and suicide.

History of the Crusades: The Rise of Charles Martel and Byzantine Iconoclasm 718-731

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

This video may seem rather dry. But it gives the background leading up to the resistance which led to the Crusades themselves. Charles Martel was a game-changing personage in Christian history.

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings in 633-638 AD. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost 1400 years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/02/history-of-the-crusades-visigothic-brilliance-in-pre-islamic-spain/#ixzz3SmCO6YIy

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Teaching Hate: Anti-Semitism Soaring on US College Campuses

Graffiti on University Campus bathroom wall Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

Graffiti on University Campus bathroom wall Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Quinn Dombrowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

University Campuses have become hotbeds of anti-Israel propaganda. Anti-Semitism is rising along with this.

From The Washington Free Beacon:

Anti-Semitism on college campuses is growing, with more than half of Jewish students claiming they have witnessed or been subjected to some form of anti-Jewish harassment, according to a new report by a leading human rights organization.

With college campuses across the country acting as a hotbed for anti-Israel activism, Jewish students say they are beginning to be targeted on the basis of their religion, according to a nationwide survey conducted by Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

The survey, which interviewed 1,157 self-identified Jewish students at 55 U.S. colleges, found that 54 percent experienced or witnessed “anti-Semitism on campus during the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year.”

Perhaps most surprising, the report found evidence of anti-Semitism across the country, a finding “strongly suggesting anti-Semitism on campus is a nationwide problem,” according to the report.

The findings come as anti-Semitic incidents rise across the globe, with Jewish citizens being targeted for attack by Islamic extremists and far-right neo-Nazis.

This has been accompanied by several high-profile episodes on college campuses in which Jewish students have been subjected to harassment and, in some cases, violence.

The Trinity College researchers who performed the study said they were surprised by the findings.

“The patterns and high rates of anti-Semitism that were reported were surprising,” said Ariela Keysar, an associate research professor at Trinity who co-wrote the report with her colleague Barry Kosmin. “Rather than being localized to a few campuses or restricted to politically active or religious students, this problem is widespread. Jewish students are subjected to both traditional prejudice and the new political anti-Semitism.”

The survey was conducted prior to last year’s conflict in the Gaza Strip, when incidents of anti-Semitism spiked globally.

 


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