Civilization Calls
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
  Gallery Michael J. Totten juxtaposes Palestinian "activists" with Israeli ones.

There are no words. 
  It Was Hot, Humid, and Everyone Was Impassioned: Framing the Constitution Part 2

I wonder what the Constitutional Convention would have looked like if it were televised on C-SPAN? Imagine it: fifty-five men in the sweltering Pennsylvania State House, trying to answer the question of the best way to hold the new Union together, ensure representation for the people, keep the economy together, and trying to decide whether it was better to continue on as an amiable Confederacy, or give more punch to the concept of a centralized government.

They must have been miserable. The only relief from the heat would have been errant puffs of breeze from the open windows.

However, they applied themselves to the task with fervor.

By mid-June of 1787, it became painfully obvious that the Articles of Confederation would never do. Although the original intent was to revise them into something servicable for all, the Convention realized that their task had grown: they must draft a new governmental framework from scratch.

If it were me sitting there, I would have heaved a huge sigh and looked around for a bottle of ibuprofen before taking a break to pull myself together. I think I would have thought that the job was too big for me, and I would have wondered at the strange quirk of fate that brought me to this place. No--I'll be honest. I would have put my head in my hands and moaned, "Oh, why me, God? Why me?" (It's probably just as well that I wasn't there, then!)

Maybe that sort of thought crossed the minds of a few of those men. Maybe more than one bit of willow bark was ingested before carrying on. I'm sure more than one bottle of whiskey or wine was unstoppered in the evenings.

They'd already agreed to the Virginia Plan in May; which is to say that they'd already agreed that the new government should be three-pronged: Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary. It remained to determine how best to effect this.

Keep in mind that there were huge stumbling blocks. The nationalist position horrified several delegates who scarcely wanted to give up the states' autonomy. Who can blame them, really? They'd just fought one war for independence. They didn't want to walk right back into the old situation, and have to face the same issues risked by centralized sovereignty again.

They debated for three days, but in the end, the notion of federalism; aka "The New Jersey Plan", was defeated.

Not long after, on June 18th, Alexander Hamilton proposed a form of government that would not be too different from the one the burgeoning United States had just cast off. He proposed, "an executive to serve during good behavior or life with veto power over all laws; a senate with members serving during good behavior; the legislature to have power to pass 'all laws whatsoever'."

Yikes. Fortunately, this too was struck down. Too many people had hard feelings toward aristocracy, and hateful memories of their life under monarchial rule.

By the end of June, a point that still engenders acrimony to this day was resolved: representation in the House would be based upon each state's population density. The smaller states had fought a terrific battle against this; arguing that each state should have equal representation, regardless of population. In an attempt to recover lost ground, they then pushed for equal representaion in the Senate. The subsequent vote resulted in a deadlock.

The strain began to show. History tells us that George Washington bemoaned ever having any part of the Convention. But then, the Great COmpromise happened.

The delegates knew that they needed to reach some sort of agreement, in order to complete their task and keep the Convention from falling apart. July 12 saw these compromises:

1. Representation in the House would be based upon the number of white inhabitants plus three fifths of "other people" in each state.
2. Each state would be equal in the number of representatives sent to the Senate.

A collective breath was drawn. Battle lines were erased. Everyone really needed a break following the last two months' worth of heated debate, so they took ten days off, and the following men went to work on the first draft of the Constitution:
Nathaniel Gorham
John Rutledge
Edmund Randolph
James Wilson
Oliver Ellsworth

When the Constitutional Convention reconvened, they were presented with the first draft of the document that would be the basis for American National Government. Although the final draft was yet weeks away, the delegates now had a document to work with.

Yet, all was not serene in Philadelphia, even with the ink still drying on the provisions of the Great Compromise, and the parchment glow of the Constitution before them. The next big argument erupted over commerce. The southern states were afraid of economic damage resulting from too-heavy export taxes. This concern quickly became linked to the issue of slavery. The issue spun off into the morals and ethics of slave ownership.

Again, the situation got hot as fifty-five intelligent, impassioned men debated every aspect of the issue.

At last, they "bargained": the northern states would let the southern states continue to import slaves unimpeded for twenty years, and the southerners would accept the clause requiring a simple majority vote on navigation laws. This outraged abolitionists. Samuel Hopkins exploded, accusing the other delegates of hypocrisy, basically saying that he couldn't believe that the very States that had struggled for freedom against Imperial tyranny would turn around and endorse the enslavement of other human beings.

Good point.

Nevertheless, the Convention moved forward, even though by the end of August, a few of the delegates were seriously reconsidering their support of the document. I'm editorializing, but there's indication that Hopkins wouldn't piss on the Constitution if it were on fire, and George Mason wrote to his son, saying, "I would sooner chop off my right hand than put it to the Constitution as it now stands."

Oh joy--life in committee. Who hasn't felt that way after weeks and months spent on a team, trying to agree on a common process? ( Ed Note: This author has recurrent nightmares about one such team she was part of about three years ago. And that was just a Disaster Recovery Plan.)

Mason was worried that a Bill of Rights had not been drafted into the Constitution, and he felt that the lack of one could be seriously injurious to the States. He wanted a new convention to consider the matter, but was voted down at first. It would take better than two years for the need to be revisited and implemented.

Another point of contention was the matter of how to elect the executive leader. The result was the electoral college, which worked this way:*

The year of 1787 was grinding toward its close. Eager to return home, the delegates came to compromises on the remaining points of concern, and then the new Constitution was turned over to a Committee of Style and Arrangement.

On September 15th, the Constitution was voted into being. Its birth was no less tumultuous and painful than any child's, and like the birth of a child, the real work for the parents was just beginning.

On September 17th, the Convention adjourned, and Ben Franklin made a speech, in which he said, "I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats."

Nevertheless, the Constitution had yet to be ratified by the People. That was months away. In the meantime, the Federalists and Anti-Federalists would vie for the hearts and minds of the public.

Part 3 tomorrow: Ratifyng the COnstitution; Or, "Will This Hound Hunt?"

*(Ed. Note: Click on the link to see the details of the way the electoral college works. The points above are a gross simplification.)
  Bully for you, Blair! Tony Blair correctly refuses to offer any apologies for his part in supporting the Coalition in Iraq, and would even do it again. Asserting that the course of action he followed was appropriate in light of the intelligence he'd received, he went on to say, "...I’ve had plenty of advice over what I should say in this speech. Some of it I’ve even asked for. One suggestion was leading you all in a chorus of 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'. So what do we do — give up on it, or get on with it?


“It’s the only leadership I can offer. And it’s the only type of leadership worth having.”

Damn straight! 
  Words to Live By One of the singular distinctions I've received in my adulthood is the tacit invitation to "come out and play" with my heroes; that is, my father and his buddies (VietNam Vets, all). I don't know exactly when they determined that I should be in on their circle, or how I should rate the honor, but I've found myself increasingly included in their fun.

So, I got a chuckle out of an email my godfather sent me this morning:

I'm always open to good advice! ;->
  And because I'm nitpicky Virgo... Comments have been reinstalled. So has a sitemeter.
I feel better. 
  Comments down for a while I've taken the comments down for now. Blogspeak sent a warning that their scripting was potentially infected with malicious code.

I apologize for this. I shall find another comments script to run.

Thank you.
  Acquitted, but not safe. Amina Lawal may have been acquitted, but she and others still are not safe. Take the statement of Mohammed Kabir, "Stoning is appropriate. It is apportioned to her crime."

The article tells us:

On the day Lawal was acquitted, a report from a Muslim court in the state of Bauchi showed how prominent the issue of sharia remains in northern Nigeria. The court decided last week that a man who had sex with three boys should be stoned to death for sodomy. Bauchi is one of a dozen northern states that have introduced severe sharia punishments, such as amputation for stealing, since the return of civilian rule to Nigeria in 1999. People in other states are living under stoning sentences, including a young couple in Niger convicted of having extramarital sex.

Remember that the case against Amina Lawal was thrown out because of legalities, and not because the courts declared that stoning is wrong. She may still be in danger--remember the concept of "honor killings"? Also, there are other hapless souls facing the same horror.

Keep making noise--pressure your elected representatives to put pressure on Human Rights organizations.

And let's hope to whatever God we each revere that some enlightenment can reach leaders in places like Nigeria.

(Thanks to Who Knew? for the link.) 
Monday, September 29, 2003
  Do Not Call Registry Signed Into Effect by President Bush Well, good.
That's what I hired him for: support the Will of the People.
(Again--50 million signatures. I do call that "the Will of the People".) 
  It Was Hot, Humid, and Everyone Was Impassioned: Framing the Constitution. Part 1

I've been thinking about the framing of our Constitution lately, as Iraq struggles to take highly disparate and competitive tribes, and weave them all into a national whole.

In the beginning, with just the Articles of Confederation to guide us, the United States were not much different. What strikes me, as I review the histories, is the drive and desire of the Founders to be free people, guided by their own lights. There was no fatalism within these sons of the Age of Reason. They absolutely believed in the Individual Light and Call of Freedom, and they succeeded, after much debate, and many compromises, to frame a document which is the example of democracy still, more than two hundred years after that sweltering summer in Pennsylvania.

May 14, 1787 did not start auspiciously. Although it was the day set for the Convention of the men responsible for revising the federal system of government, only a handful showed up.

In fact, James Madison tells us that seven states did not convene until the following Friday: May 25th. On that day, everyone else finally made it. (A list of the Framers, with brief descriptions of each, may be found at this link, as well as here.)

Robert Morris of Pennsylvania, ostensibly on behalf of Benjamin Franklin (who was ill at the time), nominated George Washington as President of the Convention. When he was elected, we are told by Madison that, " a very emphatic manner he thanked the Convention for the honor they had conferred on him, reminded them of the novelty of the scene of business in which he was to act, lamented his want of better qualifications, and claimed the indulgence of the House towards the involuntary errors which his inexperience might occasion."

One wonders what went through General Washington's head at that time? Some might argue that he thought that he was entitled to the honor. After all, he'd just led a rag-tag army of revolutionaries to freedom from Imperials. Shouldn't he head up this rag-tag assembly of landowners and would-be legislators?

I don't think that crossed his mind at all. I think he uttered a silent prayer for strength and guidance, and mounted the podium to carry-through on what he considered his sacred duty: founding a Union of free people. He was honored by the faith put in him by his fellows, humbled, and resolved to do the best job that he could for the sake of this and future generations.

It's interesting to read of the daily business of the Convention, as described by James Madison. The Founding Fathers very carefully observed all sorts of minutiae to ensure that they were doing things properly.

For example, on Monday, May 28th, Rufus King objected to the authorisation of any member of the committee to call for votes at any time, and have them entered in the minutes. He argued that as the Constitution was framed, there would be many reversals of opinion, and it would bog the minutes and cause confusion as contradictions were logged.

They were also sticklers for Parliamentary Procedure so that things wouldn't get too rowdy.

The first weeks of the convention are filled with the delegates determining their processes. Early on, they decided not to publish or communicate the business of the Convention without first obtaining leave. The reason for this was mostly due to the fact that they knew their task was fluid: decisions could change daily, or even hourly. It was best to hammer things out, and then worry about communicating it to the public at large. (They did a lovely job later on, too; in the form of the Federalist Papers.)

Edmund Randolph from Virginia stood up that day, and apologized for coming so abruptly to the point, but it had been urgently impressed upon him that it was imperative that the prophecies of American downfall were prevented.

Thus, on May 29th, 1787, we see the very first roughing out of the first rough draft of the constitution. I quote:

"...He observed that in revising the foederal system we ought to inquire 1. into the properties, which such a government ought to possess, 2. the defects of the confederation, 3. the danger of our situation & 4. the remedy.

The Character of such a government ought to secure 1. against foreign invasion: 2. against dissentions between members of the Union, or seditions in particular states: 3. to procure to the several States, various blessings, of which an isolated situation was incapable: 4. to be able to defend itself against incroachment: & 5. to be paramount to the state constitutions..."

That day also saw them explore the shortcomings of the original Articles of Confederation.

In short, the task before them was enormous, and that summer would be one of the hottest on record. They perspired, argued, debated, shouted and listened to one another. Some maneuvering did occur, as some people tried to leverage concessions in the best interests of their particular state, but over all, they managed to hammer out the Constitution of the United States of America, a handwritten, four-page document that exemplifies the best spirit of men dedicated to the god-given independence of the human soul.

Part II of this brief history comes tomorrow. 
  Front Line Voices Frank J. and team have been busting their tails over there! Go see for yourself:

Front Line Voices 
  How I Do It. This is where I blow it, and scare off the (maybe) two people who glance at this thing. But if I'm going to do this, I need to be honest.

It isn't a question that anyone has asked me directly, but I'm sure it's gone through a noggin or two (maybe my husband has thought it, maybe someone else). Anyway...

How do I balance being a Pagan with my political views? I mean, aren't I supposed to be off in la-la land, believing that I can change the world by hugging a tree or making kissy-face with a squirrel, or something? Shouldn't I be borrowing a leaf from the terribly self-aggrandizing works of people like Starhawk (NOT the blogger), or Silver Ravenwolf?

Hell, no.

It's actually pretty easy to be both Pagan and Libertarian.

Paganism is my religion. It teaches things like personal responsibility. It tells me that each decision I make impacts my world, and that I am accountable for those actions. My attitude and actions shape my reality. I can do whatever I like, so long as I don't harm anyone else.

That's a pretty Libertarian premise, actually. Mind you, I am defining "libertarian" as follows:

"lib·er·tar·i·an: n.
1. One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.
2. One who believes in free will."

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Now, by choosing this path of personal responsibility and liberty, I acknowledge that others also have the same freedoms, and will be subject to the same human failings that I am. So, I make the conscious decision to live and let live.

That doesn't necessarily mean pacifism. Since I agree to live as I wish and harm none, that means that I do not necessarily have to agree to be harmed. If someone threatens me, or tries to abuse me in some fashion, I get to make the decision to stand up for myself and make a defense. That also means that I, alone, am responsible for my part in any fallout.

That's part of what's referred to as the "Threefold Law": "That which you do will come back to haunt you three times over". That includes the good as well as the bad--so it's important to be as good as you can as you walk through life.

Conversely, the other person is responsible for their decision to do whatever it was they thought they could do to me. In the example of violence, the agressor is saying, "I choose to set myself in reverence of the Threefold Law by trying to visit harm upon you." By answering the danger, I am saying, "You have set yourself in reverence of Universal Law. Your first negative repercussion is that the harm has rebounded upon you, in the form of my self-defense."

That pretty much covers why, as a Pagan, I have no problem owning guns or taking self-defense courses.

The next thing is my religious tolerence. In a specific example, I don't care that the President of these United States is a devout Christian. To tell you the truth, I prefer someone with morals and principles in a high office, because that means that they can make a stand. Nor could I have really cared one way or another about the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court Building. Also, I hope they leave the WTC cross exactly where it is.

I don't feel particularly downtrodden for not being a Christian. The thing is that although it isn't something I'm comfortable with screaming from the rooftops, nor do I have to live cowering with the fear that troops of the JC Theocracy are going to storm my house and take me and my family away in the middle of the night. For one thing--even though many alarmists deeply believe otherwise--my right to worship whatever I want is still protected in the US, and very likely always will be, so long as we go on being active at the ballot box, and in politics. Also, if it wasn't safe for me to be what I am, I already would have been hauled off. (Even though a few of the theoretical stormtroopers would have paid dearly for it. See preceding paragraphs.)

So, no, I don't feel like a minority. I choose to believe what I wish. So does President Bush. So do you. So does everyone else. Additionally, because I don't feel threatened by other people of other faiths, I don't have a problem with looking at their religious icons in public, or even seeing other people observing what they believe--in public. In fact, I always think that it's a great sign of the healthy diversity of a nation when you see people from all walks and beliefs making free observance.

As a Pagan, I revere nature. I have a responsibility to it. But as a Pagan, I am also responsible for the actions I take to protect the Mother, and keep Her in good health.

That means making intelligent choices. To use the Kyoto treaty as one particularly hot example, I could not--would not--support it. It was a noble, beautiful idea that would have done more harm than good. In reading its provisions, and spending a great deal of time weighing the advantages and disadvantages, I could not, in conscience, lend it my political support. I resolved to pressure my representation to oppose it, and ultimately, it was thankfully shot down. (Interested parties can read the text of the protocol at CNN. Otherwise, get online and search for "provisions of the Kyoto treaty".)

That aside, yes, I do feel personally responsible for my environment. That means that I will pick up garbage as I see it. That means that my husband and I will impose stricter water restrictions on our lawn and garden than the water company calls for. That means that we will recycle what we can, and responsibly dispose of the rest. The list goes on ad infinitum.

My stewardship of my world does not include legislating ridiculous and ill-supported resolutions, just because they "feel good". That gets in the way of the free action and choice of other people. Over-limiting urban sprawl can hurt others in the long run because of a lack of jobs or places to live. I won't do that. (Even if it does increase the value of my house.) I won't burn construction sites or equipment. I won't do any one of a thousand stupid, immature, reactionary things that give people of my belief system such a bad name.

The freedom of Paganism means that I must extend the same courtesy to everyone else. I don't get to live as I will, yet infringe upon the license of others to do the same. That means less legislation; less anything that impedes an individual's personal choice. The exception is criminal law. Murderers, terrorists, thieves, rapists, pedophiles, etc., etc., etc., have placed themselves in reverence of the Threefold Law, and get to answer for the crimes they personally commit.

I will grant, the path I've chosen has high expectations. It assumes that when weighing options, one will do the right thing, as opposed to the "feel good" thing.

But that is a pitfall of liberty. Mistakes will be made. Worse, some will choose to follow a darker road, and wilfully do harm. However, in liberty, the individual is responsible, rather than society. One person can make a stand with whatever weapons are most appropriate to the scenario--whether it is rhetoric, ballots, or bullets. It's risky, and not everyone is comfortable with it. It's easier to blame others, blame society, blame whatever. It's more comfortable to sit back and let others make the decisions (and so have convenient scapegoats when something "goes south").

I do not choose to surrender my free will. As a Pagan, I believe that it is up to me to become who I wish. It is incumbent upon me to raise my child to become a contributing member of society. It is my freely-chosen duty to lend a helping hand to my fellow man; to help the downtrodden learn to stand for themselves and become strong and independent. It is up to me to protect my environment by making sure that wherever I go, I leave things a bit tidier than they were when I arrived. It is also my choice to stand my own defense, and man my own watch, so I may, with alertness, fight to maintain the liberties I revere; whether that fight takes me to the courts, the ballot boxes, the Sacred Grove, or the battlefield.

I am not a Pagan who believes that peace will always prevail. History has shown differently, and horrors like The Burning Times and Holocaust stand in testament to what happens when a people do not resist forcefully. Appeasement is not always the answer. I know this, and I fear for those who refuse to face that fact.

Blessed Be.  
  Ethne's Experience In High School, my friend Ethne got to go to Rome to sing for the Pope. On the day she arrived, terrorists belonging to the PLO bombed DaVinci Airport.

Here is her account. (Ed. Note: "Eerily", as she says, this account was posted the day before 9/11.)

A quote:

"We were shuttled off the plane in a rather hasty fashion, and through Customs so quickly that I never even had my passport stamped. (It is a bummer to have a passport, and never actually see it get stamped... it makes it hard to prove that you even left the country.) But that all turned out for the best. We went downstairs to baggage claim just in time to see the belt start up, and start spewing forth luggage that had looked like it had been through a war. Damn baggage handlers, is what I was thinking. Suddenly I heard this big thud like noise...
the belt stopped moving
the silence became deafening
time had slowed to a crawl
then the screaming began...

The first time she ever shared this story with me, my blood ran cold, then hot. I've never forgotten it. For her, it's all the proof she ever needed of the reality of terrorism. She needs no other proof to underscore the point that "Hizbollah", "Hamas", or "Palestinian militant" are all just euphemisms for "cold-blooded murderers". 
Friday, September 26, 2003
  From Sir Churchill's "Iron Curtain" Speech

"...But we must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.

All this means that the people of any country have the right, and should have the power by constitutional action, by free unfettered elections, with secret ballot, to choose or change the character or form of government under which they dwell; that freedom of speech and thought should reign; that courts of justice, independent of the executive, unbiased by any party, should administer laws which have received the broad assent of large majorities or are consecrated by time and custom..."

Winston Churchill, in his "Iron Curtan" speech, delivered at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri; on March 5, 1946.

  Back in a Bit Not that anybody really reads this to care, but I shan't be posting for a few days. You see, the whole family has been ill for over a week, now, and last night saw the peak where my infant daughter is concerned.

In a nutshell, I got three and a half hours of sleep last night, my husband got two, and we're both wiped. Couple that with the fact that we nevertheless had to get up and go to work, and I think it's pretty easy to intuit that I'm a walking medulla oblongata today.

Her? Oh, she feels great! (At this point, anyway.) She had no fever this morning, ate really well, started playing like there's no tomorrow, and was full of smiles and baby kisses.

So, I'm going to drag my tail through today, go home, and go to bed roughly when she does, to spend the weekend being an attentive wife and mother.

I actually really like my life.  
Thursday, September 25, 2003
  Do Not Call Lawmakers are working fast to save the Do Not Call Registry. Judge Lee R. West ruled, on Tuesday, that the FTC did not have the authority to create the registry. However, 50 million people have already signed up for it.

The telemarketers are citing discrimination against their businesses...

I just think that the message should be clear when 50 million people say, "go away".

Nothing personal, of course. But still: Do. Not. Call. Me.
Can I get any more clear than that? 
  Toys for Iraqi Children As well as picking up Toys For Tots to help at the local level, why not pick up one or two extra for children in Iraq?

Chief Wiggles is spearheading a wonderful effort. The page provides the APO to ship to.

Please consider it. 
  Culpability and Responsibility While taking my customary stroll (much delayed due to recent illness) through Steven Den Beste's posts at the USS Clueless, I found his recent discussion of Faith Fippinger, who is one of several people who ignored US sanctions against Saddam's regime in the days preceeding the war, and who went to serve as human shields, anyway.

The fact of the matter is that these folks broke the law. Now, they're facing legal and economic consequences for their actions (oh horror of horrors).

The BBC article cited by Mr. Den Beste paints a picture of horrible persecution, and forgets the facts of the matter, which I feel Mr. Den Beste sums up nicely,

"...There's a deeper message in the BBC's article, and it's one which resonates in much leftist thinking: it's that intentions are more important that acts."

He goes on,

"...Fippinger has a right to hold any political position she wants. She has the right to express those opinions. There were countless ways she could have done that without facing any legal peril at all.

She could have written about it. She could have written about her political opinions online, as so many of us have. She could have had handbills printed and distributed them. She could have written letters-to-the-editor. She could have organized with others who opposed the war, tried to publicly express her point of view, tried to influence the majority of her fellow citizens to agree with her. A lot of people in the US did all of those things, and none of them have received letters from the Treasury Department threatening them with legal prosecution.

We as citizens have rights, and we also have duties. Our rights are not absolute and unconditional. There are limits on the right of free speech. It is the virtue of our system that our freedom of speech is very broad and the kinds of things which are not protected are very narrowly prescribed, but there are such proscriptions. In particular, when our speech represents a clear and present danger to the health or wellbeing or rights of another citizen, our speech is no longer protected. That's why we have no right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater, and why "fighting words" aren't protected.

We as citizens have a right to hold and express political positions which disagree with current government policy. But we have a duty to try to work within the system to change that policy, and we have an absolute duty to not try to subvert the system and deprive others of their right to do the same. We also have a duty to not give direct aid and support to its enemies, potentially letting such an enemy destroy or weaken that fundamental system.

If this nation is at war, or considering war, against some other nation, we can state that we think it would be wrong. We can say that we think the other nation is actually in the right in the dispute. We can agitate at home to try to convince as many of our fellow citizens as we can. But if we actively work for or with that other nation, then we have crossed a line. At that point it is no longer "freedom of dissent". At that point, it's treason."

I recommend reading it all. He's right, and states it beautifully. 
  Excellent News While I was busy talking about networks, Cara and Jeremy over at Who Knew? had already caught the real news.

Amina Lawal has been freed. She gets to raise her little girl.

"Happy for her" doesn't begin to convey my joy and relief.

The link to the CNN article is over at Who Knew? Go give it a look-see. (Then hang around for a while. That blog is addictive.)  
  Welchia Hits the State Department This may be old news, but Welchia hit the State Department on Tuesday, and threatened to compromise the CLASS system which contains the records that help manage visa approvals. The concern rests in the fact that, "CLASS has been identified as one of the tools the U.S. government is leaning on to help stem the flow of terrorists and other criminals entering the United States. According to the State Department, CLASS has been improved over the past two years and now can access more detailed information banks to scrutinize eligibility of potential visa applicants."

Now, the system didn't actually crash. When IT discovered the problem, they appropriately isolated systems in order to contain the spread of the worm.

OK, before anyone starts screaming about some sort of conspiracy, let me just have a few words, OK?

First, Blaster, Welchia, and Sobig.F have been really prevalent across the technical industry, lately, and even some "technical" companies have been hit.

So, let's turn this into a public service announcement.

Destructive programs, or "viruses" get onto the network through user error of some sort. Uneducated operators will open the wrong email, and launch the wrong attachment. Some visit the wrong website, and download executables that have the malicious code piggybacked.

SOOO... Obey your company's computer usage policies, and don't open unsolicited emails. Moreso, go ahead and scan attachments that you are expecting, just to be on the safe side. Keep anti-virus definitions current. If your software supports it, set it up to both scan and update itself automatically.

Network Administrators can go the extra mile to make sure that the virus never arrives on the LAN in the first place. Strict access control lists and policies on the firewall can make a world of difference. Then, be proactive about keeping Operating Systems patched. A lot of headaches can be prevented through paying close attention to security warnings. Always sign up for proactive notification email lists so you can have advance warning before the issue comes to camp out on your infrastructure.

Just a little friendly advice from someone who works with networks when she isn't blogging.  
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
  Stonewalling Peace Efforts Once again, the Palestinians stonewall peace. It seems that the terrorist organization, Hamas, refuses to disarm. By the way, their Manifesto can be viewed here. Anybody else want to argue that they're poor, downtrodden militants? 
  Religion of Peace, Indeed. Kari Huus over at MSNBC seems almost sympathetic--but not of the right person.

The article, "Stoning sentence for Nigerian mom raises global issues" seems, by its language, to be more sympathetic of the brutal Islamic sentence of stoning.

Let's review a few facts, shall we? First, stoning is predominantly carried out against women, anymore. Women accused of "sexual misconduct", or adultery, are the ones who receive the sentence. It is relatively easy for a man to exonerate himself--he merely has to deny his involvement. He'll sometimes get punished with a caning, say, but his life is not necessarily forfeit. A woman, on the other hand, has to produce two or more witnesses supporting her claim of innocence. Regardless, she may yet be the victim of an "honor killing", perpetrated by her male kinsfolk.

Next, the hapless soul to be stoned is buried up to their upper chest. There is no chance for them to resist, shield herself, or run away. Then, stones are lobbed at her, splitting her skin and skull, until her head is a misshapen, shredded bloody mass. Did you know that the eyes are often popped out of their sockets by the force of the blows, and that it can take some time for the victim to die? Stoning is a brutal, agonizing, horrible death.

Amina Lawal is not the only person facing this brutality. In Islamic countries, it happens all the time. Stonings and honor killings are justified through the invocation of Sharia, the Islamic code of justice.

This is a religion of peace, huh? If you don't believe me when I say that these activities are commonplace, and even expected in the Islamic world, look here, "Middle East: Anything But Shame", and here, at Israpundit. (Thanks to LGF's site for the links.) There are more articles outlining unbelievable barbarism at

Of course, some might argue, Not everyone guilty of such "crimes" in the Islamic world are so punished. What about the little gal who only received 90 lashes and deportation?

Oh sure, that was really lenient of them. I have to wonder if someone inclined to debate the point has ever been struck once or twice with a leather belt or cane? Could you imagine having to take that 90 times? Oh sure--all 90 strokes probably weren't delivered all at once, but how is that comforting? Even drawing it out over a number of weeks, allowing the victim to heal between sessions, is torture.

Women aren't the only victims. How about flogging children in Saudi Arabia? How about the man who is to receive a death sentence for blasphemy?

My question is, where are the UN and Amnesty International, right now? Aren't these human rights violations their baliwick?
  Can You Handle the Truth? Frank J of IMAO has a great idea. He feels that the negative spin put on our successes in Iraq is obscene, and that it is time to start a blog to capture the tales of our soldiers--both good and bad. The blogosphere, as he says, is about filling in the holes left by the "mainstream" news services.

I recommend getting out there. Let's support this. Visit Frank's post, and get behind him.

If readers know someone who serves in Iraq, please get them in touch. We want to know the truth from the source--our fighting men and women.

Civilization calls you to pursue the truth. 
Friday, September 19, 2003
  A Brief Summary of the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

The land known as Israel is small, covering only 10,000 square miles. Its history is filled with strife. Since its UN-approved inception, the Israeli state has fought for its very existence against repetitive waves of Arab aggressors. Today, she holds her own against everything the Palestinian Authority, and its various terrorist organizations, can throw at her.

The story of the birth of the Israeli state is a long one, arguably covering centuries. In the interest of brevity, only the current conflict will be explored. It has its roots in The Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which the establishment of a Jewish state was mandated by the British.

It is interesting to note that the original document called for, “Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people.” Yet, after detractors attacked the wording, the verbiage was changed to, “the establishment in Palestine of a Home for the Jewish people.” Clauses were also added to protect the religious and civil rights of non-Jewish communities.

When the Declaration was issued, Britain had not yet conquered Jerusalem and Palestine. But, after WW I’s end, the United Kingdom was in possession. Then, as the League of Nations began dividing the Ottoman Empire into territories, the Arabs opposed the founding of Israel, feeling that Palestine was theirs. They tried to block the annexation of the land that would be called Israel by lobbying the American King-Crane commission. They were also trying to block France’s assumption of Syria. ( ed. note: It seems that the British had been very busy promising land to everyone in order to get their cooperation during WW I.)

Ami Isseroff writes,
” At the commission hearings, Aref Pasha Dajani expressed this opinion about the Jews, "Their history and their past proves that it is impossible to live with them. In all the countries where they are at present, they are not wanted...because they always arrive to suck the blood of everybody..."

By this time, Zionists had recognized the inevitability of conflict with the Palestinian Arabs. David Ben Gurion, who would lead the Yishuv (the name for the Jewish community in Palestine) and go on to be the first Prime Minister of Israel, told a meeting of the governing body of the Jewish "Yishuv" in 1919 "But not everybody sees that there is no solution to this question...We as a nation, want this country to be ours, the Arabs as a nation, want this country to be theirs."

In Paris, the issue was tackled, ultimately resulting in the adoption of the British plan. The proposal for the Jewish State received an area much larger than originally envisioned. This mandate was formalized in 1922. That year, the British geographically defined Jordan and Palestine.

Although the British hoped to help the establishment of a self-governing Palestinian state, the Arabs would hear of nothing that included Jews. Because the Arabs waned nothing whatsoever to do with the Jewish people, they would not participate in municipal councils, or have anything to do with the Arab Agency proposed by the British.

In the spring of the years 1920, 1921, and in the summer of 1929, Arabic nationalists instigated riots and pogroms against Jews, leading to the evacuation of Hebron. Also, roughly half of the residents of the old Jewish quarter of Jerusalem fled as well. This resulted in the formation of the Haganah Jewish self-defense organization.

As is well known, the 1930’s saw increasing persecution of Jews in Europe. This resulted in increased immigration to Palestine, and the Jewish Agency instituted the Hesder, which helped Jews escape Germany to Palestine. The Hesder is credited with saving many, many lives.

As if the European situation and rise of Nazism wasn’t bad enough, 1936 saw the Arab Revolt.

Hundreds from both sides of the conflict died. The Husseini family indiscriminately slaughtered both Jews and Arabs opposed to their hegemony. The British stepped in, and Husseini fled to Germany. He was guilty of broadcasting for the Axis powers, and also of organizing SS death squads in Yugoslavia.

In 1937 and 1938, the first noises regarding splitting Palestine into a smaller Jewish state, and a larger Palestinian one were nosed about, thanks to the recommendations of the Peel and Woodhead commissions. The commissions supported segregating the Palestinian and Jewish people into separate populations. The Jewish leadership considered it, but the Arabs dismissed it out of hand. It seemed that an accord would be practically impossible to reach.

Then, the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust of WW II came to the forefront of international attention. It is an interesting note in history that Jewish Haganah leaders joined the British in fighting the Germans in WW II. Horribly, in retrospect, it seems that the British-imposed limitation of immigration to Palestine during the last years of the 1930’s resulted in more Jewish dead than might have been. The immigration restrictions left hundreds of thousands of Jews stranded in Europe for the Holocaust.

The Palestinian Jews sued to have their remaining European brethren brought to Palestine as quickly as possible. Two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) people were being held in displaced persons’ camps. The Palestinian Jews wanted to bring them home.

This desperation led to Haganah trying to bring people in illegally. Also, underground Zionist terrorist groups decided that they’d had enough of British oversight, and began bloody terror campaigns to drive them out. Meanwhile, the US and other nations pressured Britain to allow immigration to resume. The Arabs pressured Britain to block immigration.

Caught between two rocks, Britain decided that Palestine was ungovernable, and opted to turn the matter over to the United Nations. Then, this is where it gets interesting, and where most people argue that the conflict “really” began. The United Nations Special Commission on Palestine ultimately resulted in the UN General Assembly's (in 1947) adoption of UN Resolution, GA 181. The Resolution was supported by the Soviet Union, and President Harry S Truman. Former President Truman dealt with tremendous pressure and lobbying on the matter, and dealt with it in his stalwart way. He is cited as writing that he thought the proper thing to do was to go on following his convictions, and to let everyone else “go to hell”.

Palestine was divided into two states. The Arabs rejected it again. The original intention was to create two states with open borders and an economic union. The allocation of land was meant to produce two areas with equal majorities. Jerusalem was to be internationalized, leaving the Jewish population of roughly 100,000 cut off from the rest of the Jewish state by a corridor of land allotted to the Palestinian state. This corridor included the towns of Lod, Ramla, Qoloniyeh, Emaus, and Qastel (among others.)

The original intent was doomed to failure. Haj Amin Al-Husseini instigated the Arab League into declaring a war to rid Palestine of the Jews. He seethed, “I declare a holy war, my Muslim brothers. Murder the Jews! Murder them all!” Israel, in the wake of declaring its independence, was attacked by a coalition comprised of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq.

Against all odds, Israel beat them back. Arguably, the turning point arrived with Haganah’s Operation Nahshon, which resulted in temporarily breaking a siege of Jerusalem. This resulted in events leading to the death of the key Palestinian commander, Abdel Khader Al-Husseini, in Qastel.

Additionally, the Israelis beat the “Salvation Army”, led by Fawzi El-Kaukji on April 12, 1948, in the battle of Mishmar Haemeq. Somewhere around 600,000 Jews fled from other Arabic states to Israel, and about 720,000 Arabs fled Israel at the urging of their leaders. Whereas Israel absorbed her refugees, the Arabic nations kept them in refugee camps, ostensibly with the intention of using them as political pawns.

The wake of hostilities, and Israel’s clear victory, led President Truman to abandon a trusteeship proposal by the US to the UN. In 1949, the US gave Israel full recognition in the wake of its election of a permanent government.

It was during the Israeli War for Independence that the forces of Haganah, Palmah, Irgun, and Levi coalesced into the Israel Defense Force (IDF).

It was also during the War for Independence in 1948 that the Burma Road was completed, resulting in breaking the siege of Jerusalem. The road was built as a means of getting around the Jordanians in Latroun. The IDF had engaged them three times, but could not overcome them. So, in what seems to be a grand show of common sense to this author, they simply went around Latroun.

During this time, Israel made its first foray into the Sinai Peninsula, in answer to Egypt’s attempt to cut off Negev from the rest of Israel. However, the IDF withdrew after encounters with the British.

The IDF was also successful in cutting a swath through the “corridor”, allowing Jerusalem to be geographically reunited with the rest of Israel. Interestingly, the UN made no real attempt to enforce the “internationalization” of Jerusalem in the wake of this war (although the city continued to be split between Israel and Jordan; separated by a no-man’s land).

Amazingly, not only did Israel win this war, but they also held territories totaling 78% of lands west of the Jordan River.

Also in 1949, Israel signed armistice agreements with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. As stated above, Jerusalem was split between Jordan and Israel; Egypt and Jordan occupied the rest of the area allocated to the Arab state. Jordan also held the West Bank, while Egypt held the Gaza Strip.

Because the Arab countries refused to sign a permanent peace treaty with Israel, the borders she established with the armistice commission never received legal international recognition, although the UN established the borders of Israel along the “green line” of the armistice agreement.

Still, the Arabic countries refused to recognize Israel, or her borders.
About this time, the USSR decided to break with its previous tradition of supporting an Israeli state, and allied itself with the Arab countries. Israel was left to her own devices during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations.

Realizing that further hostilities were likely only a matter of time, the IDF were armed with third-hand surplus military equipment, French aircraft, and light armor. Meanwhile, the Arab countries received aid and arms from the Soviets.

Things settled into an uneasy peace for a few years with the Arabs and Israelis eyeing each other warily.

Then, in 1954, in the face of preliminary Egyptian overtures of friendship, an Israeli spy ring tried to blow up foreign institutions in Egypt—including the US Information Agency. They succeeded in damaging reconciliation overtures between Egypt and Israel. In what is now called, “the shameful business”, the Israeli Defense and Prime Ministers pointed the finger at one another.

This resulted in Egypt’s purchase of arms from Eastern Bloc countries. The Egyptian President, Gamal Nasser, closed the straits of the Suez Canal and Tiran to Israeli shipping interests.

In answer to this, the Israelis concluded an arms deal with France.

The situation began to escalate. The Palestinians and Egyptians initiated a series of border incursions along the Gaza Strip, goading the Israelis into increasingly stern reprisals.

In 1956, with the collusion of both France and Britain, Israel took Sinai, and therefore the Suez Canal. The United States was outraged, and with the UN, called for immediate withdrawal. After several months, and after securing guarantees that waterways would remain open to Israeli shipping, they did withdraw. Consequently, a UN force was stationed in Sinai to help secure the promise.

1964 saw the establishment of the PLO, with the avowed intention of the destruction of Israel. It behooves the student to further realize that at no time has Israel ever declared such intentions toward her opponents. Stopping to review the timeline to this point will show that Israel has repeatedly come to the table for peace talks, and kept her side of any agreements.

The year 1967 saw the “Six Day War”. Israel was implementing a plan dating from 1955 called the, “National Water Carrier” plan. It was meant to pump water from the Sea of Galilee, in order to allow the irrigation of lands in central and southern Israel. Arab engineers had agreed to the plan, although their governments refused to participate. After all, participation might be construed as political recognition of Israel.

The PLO decided that the time was ripe to strike. They attempted to divert the sources of the Jordan River, essentially attempting to starve the Sea of Galilee. Israel responded by opening fire on the equipment doing the diversion work, driving home their point with accurate long-range guns, whose bombardment followed the removal of the equipment deeper into Syria.

Then, Israel attempted to establish DMZ’s, which was in accordance with armistice agreements. Syria answered by firing upon the demilitarized zones, and when Israel responded to the attacks, they began shelling inside the Israeli borders. The conflict quickly escalated.

One should note that the USSR was, at that time, supporting—wait for it--pro-Soviet Ba’athists in Syria, and told them, with Egypt, that Israel was massing troops on the borders. This claim turned out to be false. (ed. note: Because traitors are, after all, kittle cattle who will turn their cloaks this way and that, as suits their design.)

So, flying in the face of the UN agreement from 1956, the Egyptian President again closed the Straits of Tiran to the Israelis, and dismissed the UN peacekeeping force. In the halls of the United Nations, and out of Arabia, rhetoric aimed at the destruction of Israel blew like a black wind. Gamal Nasser said that, “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight.” He then went on and on about how his people would accept no co-existence with Israel, and that he had no intention of ever establishing any sort of peace.

At the end of May, Jordan joined Egypt. Before long, the entire “Arab nation” was arrayed against Israel: Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, and the Sudan.

Despite the Arab countries’ superiority of arms and numbers, and after repeated warnings from the Israelis to cease fire, Israel handily conquered the West Bank and Jerusalem. Then, they took the Golan Heights in the face of Syrian artillery, which was deliberately pounding civilian targets.

When the smoke cleared, the small nation of Israel had defeated her enemies and expanded her territory as a direct result. Israel held the Sinai Desert, West Bank, and Golan Heights.

Originally, the Israeli government meant to return all territories except Jerusalem, but the unwillingness of the Arab countries to enter into any sort of negotiation with Israel, coupled with activism from within, caused the government to reconsider. In what this author considers to be a show of overweening stubbornness at the Arab Summit Conference in Khartoum (Sept., 1967), the Arabs refused to give any sign of recognition to Israel, who had just severely trounced them twice. This served to “cut off their nose to spite their face”, because they never really got their territories back. They resolved that: (1) There would be no peace with Israel; (2) There would be no recognition of Israel; and (3) There would be no negotiations with Israel. (ed. note: I’ve seen this sort of sulky behavior before—in several toddlers of my acquaintance.)

Recall that the disputed area of the West Bank belonged originally to Jordan since 1948, which lost it during the Six Day War. It never belonged to the Arabs living in Palestine.

It should be further noted that in the wake of the Six Day War, the chairman of the PLO was replaced by none other than Yasser Arafat. The PLO began its extensive terror campaign against the Israeli state, citing always the goal of the destruction of Israel, and expulsion of the Jews.

Then, in 1970, civil war erupted in Jordan. Yasser Arafat was bent on the removal of King Hussein. Repeatedly, they hammered out agreements designed to bring the chaos under control, but Arafat continually violated them. In an unprecedented move, King Hussein offered to form a government with Arafet, which would make the PLO leader Prime Minister, but Arafat refused, knowing that there would be “strings attached”, and that he would likely have to curtail his operations against Israel.

Israel had to defend her existence once again on Yom Kippur in 1973. Egypt and Syria launched that attack, knowing that the majority of the populace would be in Synagogue, fasting and praying.

This time, the Israelis were caught by surprise. The Egyptians poured huge numbers of troops across the Suez Canal. They busied themselves with setting up a beachhead. Israeli equipment was not in place to repel them immediately. Reserves were not mobilized by the Ministry of Defense. A small number of soldiers faced down the Egyptians, and were wiped out after a hard fight. The Egyptians were armed with SAM’s (Surface to Air Missiles) and anti-tank weapons, thanks to the Soviets. These weapons impacted the effectiveness of the Israeli Air Force. It was some time before the IDF could destroy the radar stations controlling the SAMs.

The Golan Heights were left poorly protected with less than 200 tanks. The Syrians took advantage of this, while the Egyptians seized a strip of the Sinai Peninsula.

The Israelis suffered terrible losses, but finally succeeded in retaking the Heights. Additionally, then-General Ariel Sharon took the Egyptian side of the Suez, and cut off the entire Egyptian Third Army! By the time cease-fires were implemented (within a month), almost 3,000 Israeli soldiers were dead, as well as over 8,000 Arab combatants.

Golda Meir resigned as Prime Minister, to be replaced with Izhak Rabin.

In 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty. Egypt got the Sinai Peninsula back, and Israel withdrew from the geography in 1982. Also in 1982, Israel sought to expel the PLO from Lebanon. They succeeded in pushing the PLO back to Tunis. This unfortunately led to the creation of the fanatic Shi’ite terror group called, “Hizbollah”. They were established after Lebanese Phalangist militia allied with Israel committed massacres in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps. (ed note: Remember the camps that the Palestinians never absorbed? These are two of those.) As a means of making reparations for the atrocities committed by their Lebanese allies, Israel withdrew from Lebanon.

There is no peace for Israel; no rest. Further events are quickly outlined:

Active violence continued into 2001 and 2002. The terrorist attack on the United States turned attention to what Israel has fought for decades: terrorist organizations headed and manned by radical Islamic fascists still bent on the destruction of Zionism. The organizations of Hamas and Hizbollah were revealed to have ties with al-Qaeda.

Most telling were the celebrations and demonstrations held in favor of Osama bin Laden by Palestinians on the day of 9/11, and thereafter. Also damaging was the interception of a boatload arms bound for Palestine on January 3, 2002, by Israel. The boat was Iranian.

Despite a Saudi Arabian call for peace, and a willingness by Israel to consider it, continuous terrorist attacks have led the Israelis to conclude that there is a need to build a defensive wall to keep the zealous murderers out. Israel seized documents showing that Yasser Arafat had personally approved the formation of terrorist cells, which is really quite damaging to the publicly affable face of the PLO. Especially when we stop to consider that Palestinian Authority funds have been used to fund the construction of the explosive belts used by suicide bombers.

Israel begun targeted attacks of terrorist leaders, and it appears to be working.

Meanwhile, the "Cycle of Arafat" continues.

Let me ask a question ere I end this long, long post:
If it were the United States who were facing this sort of day-in, day-out aggression, the American people would be up in arms, screaming for a solution. You can bet that a defensive wall would be up by now, and we would have reduced the terrorists to so many raw, blood-soaked bits.

That being the case, why are so many people against Israel’s self-defense?

I have read the history; familiarized myself with it. Hence, I have decided that Israel is a brave nation, surrounded by foes. Her history and success against multiple attempts at annexation has convinced me that we could have no better friend at our shoulder in the Middle East.

Couple that with the “tiny” fact that of all the Middle East, they wept with us on 9/11, and I realize that Israel is our friend.

Therefore, I am a friend of Israel.


Reference materials:

History of Israel and Palestine In Maps.
History in a Nutshell. This is a web presentation with maps and highlights.
Academic Guide to Jewish History.
The Jewish Virtual Library is a division of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.
Finally, for the serious student, Amazon offers several books on the subject. Search for “Israel” or “Israeli/Palestinian Conflict”.  
Thursday, September 18, 2003
  Credit Where It's Due

On Monday (Sept. 15), the IDF caught two barefoot Palestinian children ¯ ages 8 and 10 ¯ breaking through the security fence from Gaza.

Why were they breaking through the fence? Agence France-Presse reports a cruel case of child abuse: "The boys had been sent to test the security capacity of the fence around the Kissufim area, the Israeli army said Monday."

What AFP doesn't report, however, is the boys' statement that an Arab man from Gaza forced them to do it. "An adult told us to cross the fence, and if not, he would hurt us," the boys said. IDF officials said that terrorist elements sent the boys as "guinea pigs" to see how the IDF would react.

AFP quotes the IDF that the boys were sent "to test the security capacity of the fence." But since there's no mention whatsoever of Palestinian agents (who would also be interested in testing the fence), the reader has no reason to consider that a malicious Palestinian sent the boys, and is left assuming Israeli guilt.

HonestReporting does not wish to imply that AFP intentionally distorted this story. However, given the sensitive and volatile nature of the Mideast conflict, it is irresponsible for journalists to present facts in such a vague manner ¯ in this case, falsely suggesting that Israel used two innocent boys for a cruel test of IDF readiness.

Please write to AFP, requesting they clarify the matter in an official correction:

I received this from Honest Reporting this morning.

Let's get one thing straight:
If I were to learn that some stranger had threatened my B., and coerced her into something like that, I would not be angry at the IDF. Oh, no.

I would hunt that terrorist asshole down and shoot him myself. He would be responsible; not the soldiers defending their own homes and families.

There will be a post on the History of the Israeli/Palestinian war coming up. The Israelis are not the terrorists.

And Hamas is not merely a "militant" organization.

When I think of any child getting hurt, I get angry. No--enraged. When 9/11 happened, I was coldly angry. When she was born, I became a Mama Wolf, and it has never slacked off.

I know who the enemy is, and I have my eye on them. My bullets will be verbal--for now. Keep your eyes peeled. Those with sensitive constitutions had better head for cover.

That will be all. 
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
  About Face While cruising around, doing some research on self-defense laws, I ran across this article:

An About Face After Being Saved by a Gun Owner

"The smaller of the two approached me with a knife as I was about to open the door to put my child in her car seat. He yelled at me to get in the back of the car, they were taking me for a little ride. I obviously told them to just take my keys, they could have the car, but they insisted I get in the back. I then heard a man yelling something I don't quite recall, and saw him running towards me with a gun in his hand. The two men vanished into their car, and sped away. I stood there frozen in time, and by the time the gentleman with the gun got to me I just broke down and cried.

To make a long story short, you were all right, and I'm sorry. This man with a gun saved me, and I just keep thinking if I had gotten my wish and guns were banned, there is no telling where I'd be, and what would've happened to my daughter. The only regret I have is not getting the man's phone number who saved my life. I thanked him over and over again, and told him that he saved me, but he calmly said to me something I'd never forget. He said "That's what people like me are here for Ms., and I'm happy to have been able to help."

My first impression was relief that this person was not raped, nor was her child injured or murdered. Yet, she could also have prevented the scenario by turning around and not continuing to her car, where the two would-be assailants were waiting.

People, when you are out in public, whether you have a child in your arms or not, it behooves you to keep your eyes open. You must be aware of your surroundings by keeping your eyes open at all times. Look left, right, to the front, and behind you. If your instincts tell you that something isn't right, believe them. It has been shown that assailants are less likely to attack if you show that:
(a) You are aware of them;
(b) That you are willing and capable of defending yourself.

Whenever a situation looks suspicious--like strangers hanging around your car--you must believe what you are seeing. Don't be worried about seeming like a "bitch" or an "asshole". The stranger should not be in your personal space. They should not be loitering about. They should not be making an effort to make you uncomfortable. If someone approaches you in a way that seems too intimate or threatening; if someone is loitering around your property, tell them to, "Get away from me!" Do it in a loud, confident tone. Practice it in the mirror if you have to. Use body language that carries the warning through. Put your hands up to keep distance between you and them. Draw yourself up. (Hell, take a self-defense course.)

If you find yourself in such a situation, one option is to turn around and go back into the well-lit area with lots of other people. Call for help. Call the cops. Ask for escort to your car. Do whatever it takes. Just keep and maintain the attitude of someone who is a survivor. Do not think like a victim.

I'm glad this lady and her baby are all right today. Deeply so. I'm as glad that the experience served as an "eye opener" for her. I'm sorry that the harsh reality of this world had to smack her so hard.

Personally, I plan to use her story as another example I will use in my battle to preserve my right to defend myself and my family.  
Monday, September 15, 2003
  Choosing the End In regard to the photo of the man leaping to his death at the WTC, there's a great piece over at Who Knew? They're specifically addressing some criticism that Glenn Reynolds received for reposting it last week.

There is no clear right or wrong answer to this. Some people look at the photo, and turn away, shuddering. Others look at it (if they're like me, with tears threatening), and see someone who took his fate entirely into his own hands, and freely made his choice.

Either way, it's a hard photograph to look at.

For me, the difficulty rests in the necessity. He, and others like him, chose to leap, rather than succumb to smoke, fire, and the collapse of the buildings.

Whatever your personal stance on the matter, I think it's safe to say that the true atrocity was the circumstance that made it necessary for him to make such a decision.

His death is still heaped on the heads of the terrorist animals that flew two jetliners into the Twin Towers. The fact that he still managed to make his own end, on his own terms, speaks volumes about the depth and strength of spirit he possessed. 
Thursday, September 11, 2003
  Never Forget: September 11, 2001 I have rewritten this post several times. How can I do justice to the people personally affected by the events of September 11, 2001?

I read the eyewitness chronicles, haunt the memorial websites, and weep at the accounts of widows still grieving their spouses, and little boys climbing trees in hopes that it will take them close enough to Heaven to hug their Daddies one more time.

It brings me to tears and quivering fury. It makes me need to go in to hug my daughter and my husband; to tell them that we are safe, and that I love them. It makes me feel an urgent need to make sure that the people we lost will never be forgotten.

Today, there are still widows and widowers mourning their dead spouses. Parents mourn children. Children miss parents that they will either never see again, or never meet to begin with.

I think of signage I saw on a picture taken in Israel: “Today, we are all American.” It makes me set my jaw and roll up my sleeves. If the Israelis can suffer near-daily terror attacks, and yet mourn with us, I can do no less.

Put personal politics aside for now. Close your eyes and take a moment to remember where you were on the morning of September 11, 2001. Recall the slant of the morning sun when you learned that we were attacked. Remember the desperate activity of the first hours and days following the attack, in which we were truly One Nation, Indivisible.

Then open your eyes, and take a deep breath. If you need edification the way I have needed it while preparing this write-up, take a look outside, or glance over at your family. Tell somebody important that you love them. Then, if still so inclined, read on.

First, look at the archives located at The September 11 News Site. Then, for pictures of the aftermath in New York City, visit Gary Suson’s website. For perspective on the reasoning behind the attacks, consider this article by Robert S. Wistrich at

The roll call of the lost can be found at these URLs:
The Victims of Flight 77 and the Pentagon
The Victims of the WTC and Flights 11 and 175
The Victim-Heroes of Flight 93

The names brought it home to me again. There is nothing abstract in this. It happened, and may history damn those who claim that it did not; or, even worse, those who claim that some horrible internal conspiracy led to the massacre.

In the wake of 9/11, the world cried with us. Well, mostly. In Palestine and other radical Islamic states, there were those who danced with joy. Always remember that, too. There are people in the world who hate us for our freedom. The Great Experiment (America) works, and there are those enslaved to authoritarian ideologies who hate us for it, and would love to see us fall.

I think I can say with some authority that Islamic Heaven will run short of virgins, and the Devil will be wearing ice skates, before that ever happens. At least, such will be the case if I have anything to say about it. Judge Young summed my sentiment nicely at the sentencing of Richard Reid, “…See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten.”

In the wake of 9/11, we knew who our friends were. In an unprecedented show of support, Queen Elizabeth II of England ordered the American National Anthem played at the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Who can forget the moving salute paid to our men aboard the USS Winston Churchill by sailors aboard the German destroyer, FGS Lutjens? These are only two examples of the overwhelming support the world showed. We thank them. Their support moved us to tears, and brought us to shuddering silence. I remember, and I will not forget.

Yet, when we stood up, dusted ourselves off, and declared the intention to bring the murderers to justice; when we said that we were not best pleased to maintain the mantle of sad victim, many of our “friends” were dismayed, and we found less support in the world arena than we originally expected.

The reasons for this are many and complicated. I think in some places, there is merely a cultural bent to victimization. I believe that those with a poor grasp of world history believe the lies accusing America of Imperialism. I also think, as Steven Den Beste explains, that there are political entities living with the fear that their sweetheart business dealings with terrorist-harboring regimes will evaporate if the Coalition is successful in bringing democracy to the Middle East.

As I stated, there are many reasons, and each is more convoluted than the last.

Yet, I asked readers to put aside personal politics for this post, and simply remember.

At 8:00 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 with 92 passengers departed Boston. At 8:45 a.m., they struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. That tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m...

At 8:15, American Airlines Flight 175 with 65 passengers departed Boston, and struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. This tower collapsed at 10:05 a.m., taking heroes like Rick Rescorla with it.

(Three hundred and forty-three New York Firefighters gave their life that day. They died while trying to evacuate people from the Towers. When they saw the buildings begin their ultimate collapse, many FDNY heroes ran toward them. Many NYPD officers did the same. Those men and women are to be remembered forever.)

American Airlines Flight 77 with 65 passengers on board departed Dulles Airport in Washington at 8:21 a.m... At 9:45 a.m., they struck the East wall of the Pentagon. At 10:10, a large portion of that façade collapsed. Barbara Olsen called her husband, Solicitor General Theodore Olsen, from this flight, telling him that the plane was hijacked by terrorists wielding knives and box cutters.

Finally, United Airlines Flight 93 with 45 passengers departed Newark, New Jersey, at 8:43 a.m... They crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m... From this flight of brave souls, we heard the immortal words, “Let’s roll.”

President Bush promised us justice in the wake of this act of war. His administration has been striving tirelessly toward it ever since. He was not content to offer meaningless phrases of condolence and lectures on how we must "find forgiveness in our hearts". He figured that we would do that in our own good time. As Commander in Chief, he knew that his duty was to ensure the safety of our populace. Rightfully, he answered the terrorists in the only manner they could respect: violently. The stumbling block is the faltering heart of the American media and some frightened people in the private sector. Internationally, some entities we thought were friends turned out otherwise. But there are those of us who are committed for the long haul. I, for one, realize that crushing terrorism on this globe is an arduous process that will take years—perhaps decades—to complete.

I am heartened by the dedication of our fighting forces. In a previous post, I wrote of the morale and sense of duty exemplified in our warriors. To these men and women, there is no price too high to pay in the interest of keeping our soil safe. They will willingly die to make sure that we can never again be attacked the way we were two years ago. We owe them our thanks.

September 11 woke many of us up. I remember the attack every day, and it galvanizes me. In the midst of the initial crushing, breath-stealing rage and sorrow, I realized that I was not broken. I live. I walk freely under the sun, and breathe the crisp autumn air. I am the citizen of a nation that makes vitriolic debate safe. I know that the terrorists failed in their mission, because this nation still rings with the sounds of millions of different voices, each pulling to have his or her way.

That cacophony is beautiful to me. I will scream and shout and fight to maintain it. I take joy in it. The terrorists who attacked us strove to silence us. Instead, we rose from the wreckage with increased strength and vigor. I hope that we will not lose our focus. In memory of the innocents who were murdered two years ago, and also to remember the heroes who have died at home and abroad to save us, let us keep shouting, and never forget.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
  'Tribute' will be up next. I had no idea that anything was wrong when I arrived at work that morning. At first, the unnatural quiet hanging over the office held little meaning for me. My company had recently held the first layoffs in its entire history; morale was low, so I attributed the flattened affect of those around me to that.

But then, I went upstairs to the cafeteria, and saw one of the food service staff crying. I asked her, "Are you all right?"

And that's how I found out. As if waking from a dream, I felt my scalp prickle with cold. I looked around to see the televisions turned on, and the groups of people huddled together in shock and pain and denial.

Agonized rage staggered me. To this day, I cannot think of the attack on the World Trade Center without tears. Last year, the pain was too near to speak of, and I riffled off an entry that remembered those murdered on that bright September morning in 2001. I exhorted my readers to "honor those who died by living".

Those were pretty words. I know they resonated with some. People wrote me to say thanks for the benison, and I was humbled that I'd been able to offer some small balm. But there is so much more to it. We must **never forget**, either. Since 9/11/2001, I have felt a sense of outrage that has not diminished with the passage of time. It lends urgency to my words and the issues I choose to tackle within my journal, and within my community. I choose to honor those who died by doing what I can, at my level, to make sure that our nation can never be violated the way it was on that crisp Tuesday.

Therefore, the next full-length entry will be in remembrance of September 11, 2001.

Civilization calls.  
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
  Leni Riefenstahl: Nazi? So, Leni Riefenstahl is dead. She produced several notable movies that are considered propaganda for the Nazi Party in the 1930's and '40's. Throughout her life, she denied any knowledge of the true motivations of the Nazi Party, but I don't really buy it, myself.

Although there is no incontrovertible proof that she was a Nazi, or supported their ideals, a few facts are yet questionable. She was smart and savvy enough to get close to Hitler and his inner circle of advisors.

She was able to obtain her production goals in Nazi Germany. She was invited to meet other dictators, like Mussolini and Stalin. She could not have been exposed to these men without having heard of their obsessions and beliefs, especialy when we remember just what an egomaniac Hitler was.

Additionally, in viewing her films, it is clear that she had intelligence. After all, in terms of cinematography, she was applying elan to elements such as voiceover and soundtrack--tricks that were still being experimented with, elsewhere. Triumph of the Will is an example of editorial excellence, even though the subject matter--the rally at Nurembourg--leaves my blood cold. It seems that __Olympia__ is still held up as an example of sports cinematography.

Could anyone posessing the vision and talent to go as far as she did, and produce pictures containing such sweeping visuals as those found in __Olympia__ and __Triumph of the Will__ not be savvy to the real workings of Der Fuhrer? Could she have been exposed to the pervasive anti-Semitism without being aware of what was going on? Come, now.

We will never know for sure. But my instincts tell me that Leni Riefenstahl was as guilty as the rest. If she was among the culpable in terms of the Holocaust, I hope her last years on this earth were peaceful, because I'm pretty sure that her afterlife won't be. 
Thursday, September 04, 2003
  Sentencing Richard Reid As posted at the Community Corrections Association of Pennsylvania website.

I feel that I must post it here in full. Any emphasis will be mine.

Why didn't we hear this in the news?


"U.S. District Court Judge William Young made the following statement in sentencing "shoe bomber" Richard Reid to prison. It is noteworthy, and deserves to be remembered far longer than he predicts. I commend it to you and to anyone you might wish to forward it to.

"January 30, 2003 United States vs. Reid. Judge Young: 'Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you.

'On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General.

'On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutive with the other. That's 80 years.

'On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years consecutive to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 for the aggregate fine of $2 million.

'The Court accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines.

'The Court imposes upon you the $800 special assessment.

'The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further.

'This is the sentence that is provided for by our statues. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you.

'We are not afraid of any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect.

'Here in this court , where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice, you are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist.

'And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

'So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.

'In a very real sense Trooper Santigo had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and he said you're no big deal. You're no big deal.

'What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing. And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire record it comes as close to understanding as I know.

'It seems to me you hate the one thing that is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose.

'Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely.

'It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their, their representation of you before other judges. We are about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden, pay any price, to preserve our freedoms.

'Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice,individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.

'The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

'See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. You know it always will.

'Custody Officer. Stand him down.'"


In case anyone wishes further supporting documentation, portions of the sentencing are cited (verbatim) in this article from the Jefferson City News Tribune.

Richard Reid is a terrorist. The judge's comments were appropriate for the crime, as is the sentence. (Although personally, I'd rather see the murderous filth hung from a high gibbet at the end of a short, coarse rope. But that would just "martyr" him, and I'll be curst if we give him the satisfaction.)

Of course, the case is still in appeals--another beautiful thing about this wonderful country. We are so dedicated to fairness that we'll give terrorists and traitors day after day in court. At our expense, even!

I raise a glass to Judge Young. Well said, sir! 
Monday, September 01, 2003
  Links and Blogs They're intelligent, thoughtful, and take nothing at face value. I discovered this lovely (and rather new) blog just this morning.

Who knew?

Love the shrugging Marx.


God/s bless him, Lt. Smash is home.

Welcome home, Lieutenant!

Thank you.
Assuming "among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" have entitled me. In other words, a weblog by a free woman who says what she thinks.

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