Even Bill Maher concedes that Christianity is not as Bad as some Religions

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 23rd, 2013

Week in Review

The American left is not a fan of Christianity.  They don’t like their moralizing.  Their opposition to abortion.  Even the Catholic’s opposition to birth control.  So they attack and belittle Christians every chance they get.  And they say and do some pretty horrible things.  The more outrageous or blasphemous the more the left seems to enjoy it.  But they don’t dare criticize Islam.  Which Christianity pales against when it comes to moralizing, birth control, abortion and the brutal oppression of women (see Bill Maher hammers Islam: ‘It’s the liberals here who don’t quite get it’ by Jeff Poor posted 6/22/2013 on The Daily Caller).

“The problem is, the Arab Spring kind of turned into the Arab Winter,” Maher said. “And Saudi Arabia, I mean, is the most conservative of all. As people criticize me for what I say about the Muslims. I love all people. And it’s funny because the people that come up to me privately say, ‘Bill, I’m with you about the Muslims.’ It’s the American Muslims. It’s the liberals here who don’t quite get it. We’re not criticizing people. We’re criticizing a belief system that turns people into something we wish they wouldn’t be.”

But he also observed that compared to other religions, Islam gets a pass on some of its practices.

“But, you know, Mecca is the capital of the country,” he continued. “And they routinely put people to death … the religious capital, but it’s equivalent to like the Vatican, right — with Catholicism. And, if at the Vatican, they were putting people to death for homosexuality and apostasy, and, you know, adultery — things like that, I feel that there would be a big outcry. I feel that liberals would be upset about that, and it is the center of the religion. It’s a ‘mecca.’”

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  And as long as Christianity is around some on the left will tolerate Islam no matter what they do.  Even the feminists.  And those who support gay rights.  They’ll attack Christianity for every transgression, real or imagined.  But they won’t criticize Islam.  Even though if given the choice these people would choose to live under Christianity over Islam.  For while Christianity may moralize against them.  They’re not publicly executing anyone.  At worst they just have to listen to the Christians about how they’re going to burn in hell for whatever ‘sin’ they’re engaging in.  Which even they will have to concede is a lot more pleasant than being beheaded or stoned to death.

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Cane Sugar, Crystallized Sugar, Sugar Trade, West Indies, Wealth and War

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 7th, 2013

History 101

As Muslim displaced Christians from the Lands of the Roman Empire Sugar moved West

There is a war on sugar.  It’s making us fat.  And it’s making us sick.  Because it tastes so damn good.  We crave it.  And always have.  Since the first days we chewed on sugarcane.  Sucking out the juice.  Which was where that sweet delight was.  It was so good that the people in New Guinea (just north of Australia) learned how to plant it and raise it themselves.  Instead of just looking for it in the wild.  Around the eighth millennium BC.  From there it spread.  North.  To Southeast Asia.  Southern China.  And into India.  Where they took sugar to the next level.  They didn’t just chew on sugarcane to suck out the juice in India.  They refined it into a crystallized substance.  Around 350 AD.  Concentrating that sweetness.  And making it portable.  Then the Arabs entered the picture.

The Arabs took the Indian sugar-making technique and made it into big business.  They established plantations to grow it in tropical climes.  Where the two things that made sugarcane grow best—heat and water—were plentiful.  They built the first sugar mills to refine the cane.  Basically presses to squeeze out the juice.  Which they then boiled the water out of.  Leaving behind sugar crystals.  And added it to their foods.  As Muslim Arabs displaced Christians from the lands of the Roman Empire sugar moved west.  The Arabs introduced sugarcane plantations as far west as southern Spain.  When Christian Crusaders returned from fighting Muslims in the Holy Land they brought back crystallized sugar to Europe.  And they quickly fell in love with those white crystals.  By the late 13th century even England had grown a sweet-tooth.  Who would go on to consume so much of the stuff that they would rot their teeth away.

Then the Europeans entered the sugar business in the 15th century.  At first it was just the wealthy that enjoyed sugar.  Then it spread to the common people.  As demand grew they established new plantations to meet that demand.  In southern Spain.  The Atlantic island of Madeira.  The Canary Islands.  The Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa.  All had good growing climates for sugarcane.  And each plantation had its own processing plant.  For a ship’s hold full of crystallized sugar was far more valuable than a ship’s hold full of harvested sugarcane.  Making these plantations labor intensive endeavors.  And working the fields was backbreaking work.  To step up production required a larger labor force than was available.  And to meet that demand they turned to using African slaves.

Sugar was a Turning Point from an Agrarian World of Slaves and Indentured Servants to the Modern Industrial World

By the 16th century the Europeans were taking sugarcane across the Atlantic.  And African slaves.  The Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French and British brought sugarcane and slaves to Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Barbados, the Virgin Islands, Guadaloupe, Saint-Domingue (present day Haiti) and elsewhere in the Americas.  With the Caribbean Islands becoming the sugar capital of the world.  France’s Saint-Domingue being the single largest producer in the world.  Until their slave uprising.  It was France’s wealthiest possession in the Western Hemisphere.  And its loss changed French ambition in the New World.  For Napoleon had his eyes on rebuilding the French Empire in North America that was so rudely interrupted by France’s loss in the Seven Years’ War.  But with the loss of Saint-Domingue and all that sugar wealth Napoleon lost all interest in the New World.  And sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States.  To prepare for war with Britain.  Again.

The British and the French both had lucrative sugar plantations in the West Indies.  When the American Revolutionary War turned into a world war the British and French squared off once again.  Especially in the West Indies.  Where they wanted to protect their possessions producing that valuable sugar.  And take the other’s possessions.  So they could expand their holdings.  And their wealth from the sugar trade.  As well as put down any slave uprisings.  Such as would later happen in Saint-Domingue.  Some say the reason the British lost the American Revolutionary War was because they diverted too much of their military resources to the Caribbean.  But the French were diverting a lot of their military resources to the Caribbean, too.  Which is one reason why the war lasted 8 years.  As the French were more interested in taking the British possessions in the West Indies than American independence.  Their first efforts fighting alongside the Americans (Rhode Island in 1778.  Savannah, Georgia, in 1779) did not help the cause.  It was only when the French fleet could be spared from the action in the West Indies that they joined General Washington in trapping General Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781.  With Cornwallis’ surrender effectively ending the war.  Even though they wouldn’t sign the final peace treaty until 1783.

By the end of the international slave trade Europeans sent approximately 10 million Africans to the New World.  Mostly to Brazil and the Caribbean.  To work in the sugar plantations.  Where slave ships left Africa.  They unloaded slaves in the New World.  Loaded the sugar these slaves grew.  Shipped the sugar back to the Old World.  Unloaded the sugar and loaded on finished goods.  Then sailed back to the African slave stations.  Where they traded their finished goods for more slaves.  There was big money in The Trade Triangle (trade from Africa to the New World to the Old World and back to Africa).  But sugar also helped to kick off the Industrial Revolution.  For the iron industry grew to make the machinery of the sugar mills.  As each plantation processed their sugarcane into crystallized sugar that was a lot of cast iron gears, sprockets, levers, axles, boilers, etc.  Basically a turning point from an agrarian world of slaves and indentured servants.  To the modern industrial world and wage-earners.

There is a Correlation between America’s Obesity Problem and the Switch from Cane Sugar to Corn Sugar

By the 19th century technology was making better sugar at lower costs.  The British designed a low-pressure boiler.  As water boils at a lower temperature when at lower pressure they were able to refine sugar with less energy.  Cutting production costs.  And waste.  As higher temperatures caramelized some of the sugar.  Though caramelized sugar can be delicious on crème brûlée you don’t want it when you’re producing crystallized sugar to sell.  Then the Americans improved this process by creating the multiple-effect evaporator.  A multi-stage device where the pressure is lower in each successive stage.  They use steam to boil water in the first stage.  This vapor then provides the energy to boil water in the next stage.  Which is at a lower pressure.  And, therefore, has a lower boiling point.  That vapor then boils water in the next stage which is at a lower pressure.  And so on.  Where one energy input creates a lot of useful work cost-efficiently.

With the advance in refining equipment refinery plants grew more complex.  And expensive.  So instead of building one on every plantation they built fewer but larger ones.  And shipped raw product to them.  Modern ships and economies of scale made this the new business model.  Companies grew and opened other refineries.  And expanded vertically.  Growing sugarcane as well as refining it.  One of the best at this was the American Sugar Refining Company.  That at one point controlled 98% of the sugar processing capacity in the United States.  Which earned it a spot on the original Dow Dozen.  The first 12 industrial stocks the Dow used in calculating their Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896.  And remained a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average until 1930.

Eventually the Americans couldn’t compete with foreign sugar producers any more.  They enlisted the help of Congress to impose tariffs on cane sugar imports.  Forcing Americans to pay more for their sugar.  Then they started making sugar out of government subsidized corn.  High-fructose corn syrup.  Which pretty much sweetens anything manufactured in the United States today.  That some say causes more health problems than cane sugar.  Including obesity.  Those in the high-fructose corn syrup business vehemently deny this.  But there is a correlation between America’s obesity problem and the switch from cane sugar to corn sugar.  Because of the different way the body metabolized corn sugar it did not satiate our appetite.  Leading us to over consume.  Such as with sugary drinks.  Which have gotten so large in size that New York City Mayor Bloomberg tried to make these large sizes illegal.  Because America’s over consumption of sugar was making us obese.  While Britain’s over consumption of cane sugar only rotted their teeth away.  It didn’t make them obese.  Which makes the case that corn sugar is less healthy than cane sugar.  Despite what the corn sugar lobby says.

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The Wall Street Protesters’ Pain is a Joke to those Truly Suffering around the World

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 10th, 2011

Cuba is Imploding.  Like all Communist Countries Have.  Are.  Or Will.

Wall Street is bad.  Capitalism is bad.  Because they put profits ahead of people.  Instead of putting people before profits.  Like they do in Cuba (see A Troubling Sign that Economic ‘Reform’ in Cuba Isn’t Working by Juan Carlos Hidalgo posted 10/10/2011 on Cato@Liberty).

The number of Cubans intercepted at sea trying to reach the coast of Florida more than doubled in the last fiscal year according to figures released by the Department of Homeland Security…

This is yet another sign that the much heralded economic “reforms” announced by Havana aren’t working. The massive layoffs of hundreds of thousands of public employees undertaken by the government of Raúl Castro were meant to be absorbed by Cuba’s almost non-existent private sector…

Earlier this year I talked to an official from the U.S. Interest Section in Havana who told me that we shouldn’t be surprised if we see a steady increase of Cubans trying to escape the island towards the United States. Faced with a dilapidated economy, hundreds of thousands of unemployed, and growing social unrest, the Castro regime wouldn’t hesitate in letting more Cubans use the “escape valve” of emigration. We might be seeing the first signs of this.

The Castro brothers (Fidel and Raúl) are no fans of America.  Or capitalism.  No.  Cuba is a hardcore communist country.  Because the communist way guaranteed the best of everything for everyone.  Without corporate greed or the pursuit of profit getting in the way.  But Cuba is imploding.  Like all communist countries have.  Are.  Or will.  As they always will.  Whenever you have the government put people before profits.  Because when states do that somehow the people always take it on the chin.

So the solution to save their people?  Get rid of their people.  Let them swim to America.  Because if they’re no longer in Cuba they no longer have to feed them.  House them.  Or fight them in the inevitable revolution.

Life is Truly Difficult in Syria with some 400 People Dying on Average each Month

Castro would rather these people flee his communist utopia than fight them.  Because this kind of thing has been going on in North Africa.  The Middle East.  And he wants none of that (see Syria violence: EU poised to announce fresh sanctions in wake of latest killings by Adrian Blomfield posted 10/10/2011 on The Telegraph).

More than 30 people were killed in the latest wave of violence after security forces opened fire on a funeral in the city of Homs and the army clashed with deserters from its ranks who have defected to the opposition. The battle underscored the growing shift in the uprising from the peaceful demonstrations of its early days to an armed insurrection that is gaining strength on the periphery of what is still an overwhelmingly civilian revolt.

The latest fatalities took the overall death toll since the uprising began to just under 3,000, according to UN calculations.

Makes you scratch your head about the Libyan War.  For we launched that war to prevent these things from happening in Libya.  And here they are.  Happening in Syria.  And yet we have a different policy.  Why is that?  But that’s another story.

This brutal oppression has been going on for some 7 months.  And it’s only gotten worse.  After living under such an oppressive regime these people won’t give up.  And neither will Assad.  Making life truly difficult in Syria.  And claiming some 400 lives on average each month.  For now.

Why is Europe the go-to Continent during Humanitarian Crises?  Because they are Richer and More Capitalistic.

Some of these Syrians are fleeing their country.  A lot of them are trapped for the duration.  Not really knowing what their nation’s fate is.  Or their own.  As millions of others face turmoil throughout the world.  And millions of these are fleeing their countries.  And for their lives (see Multiplying crises create 43 million refugees by D. Parvaz posted 10/10/2011 on Al Jazeera).

Regional conflicts and the potential for violence have complicated aid efforts aimed at the nearly 12 million affected by the drought in Africa. The unrest rose to such a level that people were crossing over from Libya to Tunisia, from which people were also fleeing to France and Italy due to mass unrest.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), as of September 30, more than 700,000 people have left Libya, with the bulk of that migration, 304,127, heading to Tunisia…

Livio Zilli, the international secretariat of Amnesty International’s Refugees’ and Migrants’ Rights Team, points out that many of the people leaving Libya aren’t Libyan nationals, but likely were already among transient populations who were forcibly displaced due to security or economic issues. These people are refugees twice over…

This, said Zilli, makes the current situation: “A refugee crisis on the doorsteps of Europe.”

And Europe might not want to deal with it, he said.

Like Europe doesn’t have enough problems to deal with.  What with that whole sovereign debt crisis crippling Europe.  They’re going broke.  And spending more and more tax dollars to try and save the Euro.  Which is in danger of going the way of the dodo because of excessive government spending.  That caused excessive government debt.  And the last thing they need are tens of millions of refugees being fed and housed on the taxpayers’ dime.

Yes, this is a humanitarian crisis.  But Africa was here before Europe.  So why is it that Europe is the go-to continent during humanitarian crises?  Because they are richer than most of these countries in crisis.  And more capitalistic.  Where the Rule of Law keeps the peace.  And puts no one above the law.  Setting the stage for a prosperous free market economy.  That can provide for all a nation’s needs.  Or trade for them during times of crisis.  All handy things for a safe, healthy, prosperous nation.

No Doubt some of the Egyptian Protestors from 8 Months back are having Buyer’s Remorse

Egypt had a lot of these things.  By Middle East standards it was a pretty prosperous nation.  People had more freedom than others.  A bustling tourism industry thanks to a rich and glorious past.  Peace and stability with its neighbors.  And within the country.  Even Muslims and Christians lived together in relative peace.  For all its corruption, oppression and faults, it was one of the most benign of Middle East dictatorships.  But the Egyptian people threw out the tyrant during the Arab SpringHosni Mubarak.  And it hasn’t been as peaceful since (see Coptics Criticize Egypt Government Over Killings by David D. Kirkpatrick posted 10/10/2011 on The New York Times).

Egypt’s Coptic Christian church harshly criticized the government on Monday over its actions in crushing a bloody protest in Cairo the night before that left at least 24 people dead, mostly Christians, as grieving families began to bury their dead, some of them mangled by tanks, bullets and beating wounds.

The protest on Sunday was the most violent in Egypt since the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak from the presidency eight months ago and raised new questions about the country’s ability to move forward toward a pluralistic and tolerant democracy…

The violence on Sunday began after a demonstration by Christians angry about a recent attack on a church. By day’s end it had morphed into a raging riot directed against the military council that has ruled Egypt since Mr. Mubarak was ousted in February. The violence seemed to be aggravated by the public’s widespread distrust of the military’s authority because of repeated delays in turning power over to Egyptian civilians.

After some 8 months of ‘freedom’ from the tyrant the country still bleeds.  And burns.

If you’re a Christian in Egypt you no longer have the peace and security you had under Mubarak.  And if you’re a Muslim that just wants to live in peace with everyone.  As you did before the Arab Spring.  You now risk being caught in the crossfire.  Eight months and still no democracy.  Still military rule.  And growing violence.  No doubt some of the protestors from 8 months back are having buyer’s remorse.  And probably believe perhaps Mubarak with some reforms might have been better than near-anarchy they’re seeing the occasional glimpse of.

The Protesters are Asking the People to Use the Power of Capitalism to Redress the Abuses of Capitalism

We finally have a demand from the Occupy Wall Street people.  Well, not so much of a demand.  But a request.  Not for the oppressive bankers and corporate thugs.  But for the people (see Wall Street Protests Get Specific: Could ‘Bank Transfer Day’ Pit Americans Against Their Big Banks? by Martha C. White posted 10/10/2011 Time Moneyland).

The growing anger directed at U.S. banks (especially the big ones that took federal bailout funds) over recent fee increases coalesced this weekend into a Facebook-driven campaign urging Americans to close their accounts at large banks and move their money to credit unions by Nov. 5.

Remarkable.  They’ll march on Wall Street because Bank of America imposed a monthly debit card fee.  But they could care less about the out of control government spending and regulation that takes more out of their pockets every hour of every day.  But I digress.

These protesters aren’t all that original.  I’ve heard of this request before.  They’re asking the people to use the power of capitalism.  If one business becomes less attractive to your needs let your wallet voice your displeasure.  They act as if we aren’t free to be able to do this already.  But we are.  And we have a myriad of choice available.  Because that’s what capitalism is.  Businesses compete against each other to see who can please us the most.

People Truly Suffering Around the World must be Thinking if Only they Had it so Bad as the Wall Street Protesters

There is real suffering around the world.  And these Occupy Wall Street people are whining about high bank fees.  They want government to intervene.  When they already have the power to cause change themselves.  We call it free market capitalism.  We have it.  A lot of people don’t.  People in Cuba.  Syria.  Libya.   Somalia.  Kenya.  Ethiopia.  And everywhere else where capitalism is constrained and maligned.

Can you imagine these people truly suffering around the world seeing these Wall Street protesters?  Playing their drums?  Tweeting their whiny tweets to family and friends?  Wearing face paint?  Women dancing topless?  While they starve.  Get run over by tanks.  And shot.  They must be thinking if only they had it so bad.

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Tragedy in Norway

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 24th, 2011

The Attacks on Oslo and Utoeya Island

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in Norway.  The Oslo bombing and the shooting rampage on Utoeya island were horrific acts of cruelty.  And no doubt will leave long lasting scars on a great and peaceful people. 

Norway is a beautiful country.  You can hear it in the music of Edvard Grieg.  Who drew inspiration from the rich cultural heritage of his beloved land.  The country.  The people.  The beauty. 

So sad that a lunatic grew up in their midst.  Unbeknownst to them.  This singular aberration from normalcy and sanity.  A merchant of death.  Who preyed on the innocent.   Because of a sick mind.

Something that Spilled out of a Diseased Mind

The man they arrested on Utoeya is Anders Behring Breivik.  And he is insane (see An Interview with a Madman: Breivik Asks and Answers His Own Questions by Beau Friedlander posted 7/24/2011 on Time World).

The 32-year-old gunman — with his blond hair, green eyes and a six-foot build — is a Nordic ideal, and for at least nine years, he meticulously crafted his plan to root out anyone different. Breivik’s rambling writings, grandly titled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, present him as a right-wing nationalist fueled by a combined hatred of Muslims, Marxists and multiculturalists. His beliefs recall neo-Nazi politics that continue to linger throughout Europe, but freshened with a new, 21st century toxicity.

As part of the manifesto, Breivik interviews himself, offering a highly personal Q&A in which he throws himself admiring questions and answers them with disturbing calm.

You can read an abridged version of this self-interview on Time World

Breivik is insane.  Or very stupid.  Because a sane person does not believe they can change the world by going on a killing spree.  Unless he is so stupid that he believes the people will rise up and join him in his crusade.  Of course, the odds are slim for that happening when you are killing not your enemies (in his case Muslims) but the people you want to join your crusade.

This was not part of an organized movement.  This bloody day was just something that spilled out of a diseased mind. 

Only an Idiot would think Mass Murder would help Advance his Agenda

And what may come as a shock to Breivik, the aftermath of his massacre is not playing out as he no doubt hoped (see Analysis: Brutal attack tests Norwegian society by Wojciech Moskwa posted 7/24/2011 on Reuters).

In a low-crime country where a single murder is front-page news, the shock from the scale of the violence would drown out any message on immigration Breivik was seeking to make, said Matlary. Even politicians who usually espouse anti-immigrant views, will above all seek to distance themselves from Breivik.

“This will surely tone down the debate on immigration ahead of local administration elections in September,” said Frank Aarebrot, political scientist at Bergen University. “In the traditional way, politicians will self-censor themselves.”

What sane person could not see this coming?  Breivik sure didn’t.  Because he’s not sane.  His actions have made the problem (as he saw it) worse.  He wanted more restrictive immigration policies?  Thanks to him, no one will dare speak about any immigration reform lest they be associated with a homicidal maniac.  Only an idiot would think mass murder would help advance his agenda.

The Rush to Judgment to Blame Islamic Terrorism

Of course, now the media is focusing on what’s really important in this massacre.  Not the dead and traumatized.  But the rush to judgment to blame Islamic terrorism (see Media Reacts to News That Norwegian Terror Suspect Isn’t Muslim by Ujala Sehgal posted 7/23/2011 on The Atlantic Wire).

Yesterday’s first reports on the massacre in Norway suggested that there was a link between the horrific attacks, which left 92 dead at latest reports, and Muslim extremists. Only later was the news released that the suspect taken by police, Anders Behring Breivik, was apparently a conservative, right-wing Christian with strong anti-Muslim and anti-immigration beliefs. Many in the media were left reeling over the fact that others were so quick to report and comment that Muslims were involved, before there was clear evidence.

In all fairness, there’s a reason a lot of people jumped to that conclusion.  Such as recent history.  Or they may have read an article in The Atlantic (see On Suspecting al Qaeda in the Norway Attacks by Jeffrey Goldberg).

Well, perhaps it was because [Jennifer Rubin] was reading the Atlantic. Shortly after the bombing in Oslo, the Atlantic re-posted on its home page a very interesting piece from last year by Thomas Hegghammer and Dominic Tierney entitled “Why Does al Qaeda Have a Problem With Norway?” You can read it here. In the piece, Hegghammer and Tierney discuss why Norway, against all odds, has become a favored target of al Qaeda. They give several reasons, among them fallout from the Danish cartoon crisis, and Norway’s participation in the war in Afghanistan. And then they bring up a third possibility: The presence in Norway of the aforementioned Mullah Krekar…

So there’s that.  And a history of terrorism by people in the name of Islam.

It is not perverse or absurd for normal people to think of al Qaeda when they hear of acts of mass terrorism. It is logical, in fact, to suspect al Qaeda. The Norway catastrophe does not negate the fact that the majority of large-scale terrorism spectaculars by non-state actors over the past decade have been committed by Muslims. For the Right, Norway should underscore the point that Christians (and Hindus, and also Jews) are just as capable of committing murderous atrocities as Muslims.

Yes, they are.  But more times than not when it is a Christian it’s usually a lone idiot and not part of a bigger international movement.

Helping the People he Hates

When you have a large scale coordinated assault directed against multiple targets, something that is very al-Qaeda-esque, you think al-Qaeda.  And you start worrying about other possible attacks.  Like the Americans did on 9/11.  Like the Spanish did during their multiple train bombings in 2004.  Like the British did during their multiple subway bombings in 2005.

Not only did Breivik make it easier for radical Muslims to get into Norway (by making everyone nervous about being too anti-Muslim), he also gave al-Qaeda a present.  Killing people al-Qaeda would have loved to kill.  Never in their wildest dreams did they think a Christian would kill a bunch of infidels for them while at the same time gaining sympathy for the Muslim people.  They must love this guy.  Helping the people he hates.

You may be able to uncover and stop international plots of terrorism, but you’ll never be able to stop the lone idiots.  A lone idiot is completely inside his head.  All but impossible to find.  Virtually invulnerable before he attacks.  And irrational as hell.  That’s why we keep reading about them in the news.  And why we’ll keep reading about them.

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The Far Left Hates Christians more than Radical Muslims

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 26th, 2011

No Morality Police under 20 Years of Republican Presidents

The far Left hates conservatives.  And Christians.  They don’t want them shoving their morality down their throats.  Like conservatives do in some countries (see Iran’s Hardline Fashion Police by Babak Dehghanpisheh posted 6/24/2011 on The Daily Beast).

It’s that time of year again. As summer temperatures soar in Tehran and other large Iranian cities, the morality police, or gasht ershad as they’re called in Farsi, come out in droves to make sure the citizenry isn’t flashing too much skin or acting in other inappropriate ways. The activities of the gasht ershad ramped up after the election of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, but it seems this year they’re going for broke: since mid-June, 70,000 morality police have been sent out into the streets of Tehran alone.

Ronald Reagan was president for 8 years.  George H.W. Bush for 4 years.  George W. Bush was president for 8 years.  That’s three Republicans occupying the Oval Office for 20 years.  All the while the far Left was attacking them for being too close to the Religious Right.  Trying to scare everyone into believing that they would set up a Spanish Inquisition-like morality police to punish people misbehaving.  But in those 20 years let me ask you this.  Did any of these Republican presidents ever send 70,000 morality police to any American city?  No.  In fact, by my recollection, during those 20 years we still had pornography.  Women were still wearing bikinis in public.  Birth control and abortion were still available legally.  And guys were able to do whatever they wanted to with their hair.  Even wear gold chain necklaces if they wanted to.  But in Iran…

No more mullets (a move even some Tehran fashionistas applauded), ponytails, or a popular hairstyle called the rooster, which swoops up in a faux-hawk in the front and flares out at the back. And there’s a new restriction for men this summer: no necklaces.

During those 20 years of Republican presidents there was no morality police.  There was no one saying what fashion was and was not permissible.  As I think parachute pants and the mullet attest to. 

The government has not only spelled out the crackdown in legal terms, but has also tried to make the case that inappropriate clothing can be directly linked to damnation. Last week, an analyst named Ali Akbar Raefipour, appeared on state television and claimed that the word “jeans” actually comes from the word “jinn,” which are supernatural beings that can fly and take the form of animals. He took it a step further by comparing women’s high heels to the hooves of demons. And if that wasn’t enough, Raefipour said that numbers and symbols on some t-shirts can be read as “spells or satanic slogans.”

After only a week of the crackdown, Tehran police chief Hussein Sajedinia held a press conference and claimed resounding success, citing a 50 percent drop in the harassment of women on the streets (without a hint of irony)…

Who would have known?  That wearing blue jeans will send you to hell.  That high heels are the sign of the beast.  And writing on t-shirts is satanic.  If I’m not mistaken, though, during 20 years of Republican presidents I’m pretty sure I saw women in high heels, in tight denim jeans and in shirts with stuff written on them stretched taut across their bosoms.  Not that I looked.  I wonder why the Religious Right allowed this to happen during those 20 years of Republican presidents.

Anyway, it’s good to know that Iranian women are now safe.  Free to walk along the streets.  Without any men harassing them.  Just by exercising a little more modesty in their appearance.

For ordinary Iranians, the evidence of the crackdown is in plain sight. Checkpoints run by the morality police have mushroomed all over Tehran and, residents say, it’s not uncommon to see women getting stuffed into one of their ubiquitous vans…

Soheila, a 28-year old Tehran resident, has had enough. “I was even with my husband one time when a policewoman gave me a warning about bad hijab,” she says. “‘[I’m] going to start wearing the chador [a head-to-toe cloth covering] because [I’m] afraid of the morality police.” 

Exercising a little more modesty in your personal appearance.  And by living your life in absolute fear and oppression.  Again, I lived through 20 years of Republican presidents yet don’t recall any such oppression of women.  Guess there’s a difference between Islam and Christianity.  And women have more freedoms under Christianity.

One thing you have to say about Muslims living under Sharia law, though.  They must really love, honor and respect their women.

Al Qaeda has a PR Problem because they’re Killing Muslim Men, Women and Children

Actually, they don’t.  Which is really a puzzling thing about the far Left’s open hostility towards Christianity and absolute tolerance for anything Islamic.  Christians don’t physically and/or brutally oppress their women.   Or use them as suicide bombers (see Taliban say husband and wife in Pakistan suicide attack posted 6/26/2011 on the BBC).

A husband and wife carried out a suicide attack that killed eight people at a police station in north-western Pakistan, the Taliban has said…

The BBC’s Orla Guerin, in Islamabad, says that the use of a husband and wife suicide squad by the Pakistani Taliban is a new tactic, and a new threat.

Already, our correspondent adds, the militants have resorted to using children as human bombs. And a suicide attack in Pakistan’s tribal areas last December was blamed on a woman bomber.

I don’t think this is the kind of gender equality women living under Sharia law want.  To be sacrificed like men. 

You just don’t hear about Christians doing things like this.  Or Jews for that matter.  Judeo-Christian societies treat women better than this.  They can show a little skin.  Wear high heels.  Even smile at passersby.  Including men they don’t even know. 

With feminists populating the far Left it just boggles the mind that they fear and hate Christians.  While no such vitriol is ever directed against anything Islamic.  And yet it’s elements in Islam that are doing some of the worse things imaginable against women.  And children (see Afghanistan: Eight-year-old girl ‘used in attack’ posted 6/26/2011 on the BBC).

An eight-year-old girl has been killed after insurgents used her in a bomb attack on police in southern Afghanistan, the government has said.

The interior ministry said insurgents gave the girl a package and told her to take it to a police vehicle, detonating it as she approached…

Correspondents say insurgents have recruited both adult women and recently male children to carry out suicide attacks, though the Taliban denies recruiting children.

According to letters seized during the mission that killed Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda has a marketing problem.  For there was no religious element in the name ‘Al Qaeda’.  And they were losing the PR war with the Americans.  Because Al Qaeda was killing more Muslims than the Americans were.  So bin Laden wanted to change the name to stress the holy war element in the war against the Americans.  But that didn’t happen because of his ‘untimely’ death. 

Apparently he was alone in this view.  Because giving an 8 year girl a package and telling her to take it to the police station without telling her what’s in the package and then detonating the bomb in that package while hiding from a safe distance away doesn’t exactly help put a positive spin on the holy war against the Americans.  Especially when you’re killing Muslim men, women and children by blowing up a bomb being held by a Muslim child.

The Far Left Hates Western Civilization

Islam is a religion of peace that some twist the meaning of to do unspeakable things.  Christianity is a religion of peace, too.  And some may twist the meaning of it to do some unspeakable things.  But if you’re tallying these unspeakable things you’re going to see the tally far greater for one religion than the other.  Unless you don’t consider putting bombs on women and children as unspeakable.

Western societies tend to be Judeo-Christian societies.  And in these societies women have a lot of freedoms.  They can do anything they want.  Have a career.  Go into politics.  Become presidents.  Prime ministers.  Or be porn stars.  They can eat and drink anything they want anywhere they want.  They can go to a movie, a bar or a dance club.  Women have come a long way in Western Civilization.  Nowhere are they empowered more.  And nowhere are they empowered less than in Islamic society.

And yet, despite all of this, the far Left attacks Christianity.  They will say some of the most vile and vicious things.  Insult their institutions.  And openly mock them.  But they don’t do this with Islam.  In fact, if anyone says anything critical of Islam the far Left calls that hate speech.  While their criticism of Christianity is merely free speech.

This makes no sense.  Unless the far Left hates Western Civilization.  Then it makes perfect sense.  The far Left is the liberal Big Government left.  Who wants more government in our lives.  Telling us what’s best for us.  Regulating us.  Controlling us.  And this they have in common with radical Islam.  Because they, too, want to tell their people what’s best for them.  To regulate them.  To control them.

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Political Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa: Democracy in Action or an Extension of the Iranian Revolution?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2011

Democracy Movements Sow the Seeds of Shariah Law

The Arab world is ablaze with democracy movements.  Which is creating disorder and chaos.  A most fertile ground for Shariah law to take root and grow (see AP’s Al-Qaida calls for revolt against Arab rulers posted 2/26/2011 on myway).

Al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen urged Muslims to revolt against Arab rulers and establish governments based on Islamic law, according to an audio tape posted Saturday on militant websites…

He also said toppling longtime rulers is not enough and that new governments must be established based on Islamic religious law, or Shariah.

“One tyrant goes, only to be replaced another who may fix for the people some of their worldly issues by offering job opportunities and increasing their income, but the greater problem remains,” al-Rubeish said, according to a translation provided by SITE.

This is how the Iranian Revolution ended in a rigid theocracy.  Nothing at all what those female college students wanted when protesting against the Shah.  But this is the danger of revolution.  Disorder and chaos tend to favor the less savory types.  People with ulterior motives.  Who never let a good crisis go to waste.

Big Trouble in Little Bahrain

Bahrain is ripe for chaos.  A majority Shiite population ruled by a Sunni minority.  Home to an American naval fleet.  Supported by Saudi Arabia who is seen as too friendly to the United States.  And now an exile returns home (see Key Shi’ite opposition leader returns to Bahrain by Adam Schreck, Associated Press, posted 2/26/2011 on The Washington Times).

A prominent Bahraini opposition leader returned home from exile Saturday and urged the Gulf kingdom’s rulers to back up promises of political reform with action.

The return of Hassan Mushaima, a senior Shi’ite figure, could mark a new phase for an anti-government movement in the tiny nation which is strategically important for the U.S. because it hosts the U.S. Navy‘s 5th Fleet.

Mr. Mushaima heads a Shi’ite group known as Haq, which is considered more hard-line than the main Shi’ite political bloc that has led two weeks of protests. Mr. Mushaima returned Saturday from several months of voluntary exile in London, with a stop in Lebanon.

A more hard-line Shiite?  Sort of like in Iran?  This reminds me of someone.  I seem to recall another opposition leader in exile who returned to Iran following that democratic revolution.  What was his name?  It’s on the tip of my tongue.  Who was that?  Oh, yes.  Now I remember.  Ayatollah Khomeini.  In exile he wanted but one thing.  For the Shah of Iran and his government to be overthrown.  (And he wanted to impose Shariah law but he didn’t tell the people about that.  He would surprise them with that one later.  After he seized power.)  Surely Mr. Mushaima wasn’t in exile for anything like this.

Mr. Mushaima had been among a group of Shi’ite activists accused of plotting to overthrow Bahrain‘s rulers.

Then again he could have been in exile for exactly the same thing.  But is this any cause for concern?

Bahrain is the first Gulf state to be thrown into turmoil by the Arab world’s wave of change. The unrest is highly significant for Washington because Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy‘s 5th Fleet, which is the Pentagon’s main counterweight against Iran’s widening military ambitions.

Well, as long as we have nothing to fear from Iran, there should be no problem.  And what has Iran been doing lately that should worry us?

Iran Working on the Ingredients to Build an Atomic Bomb

Iran has been trying to build an atomic bomb.  They deny this but they have begun enriching uranium.  And enriched uranium is an ingredient of an atomic bomb.  But we can take Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his word, can’t we?  Sure, he denies the Holocaust.  And he wants to wipe Israel from the face of the planet.  And he oppresses his people.  Locks up dissidents.  But despite all that, then candidate Barack Obama said he would sit down with this man and talk with him.  So that must mean he’s a reasonable man.

Well, that.  Or Obama is woefully naive and ignorant of Middle East history.  Ahmadinejad is a threat and a loose cannon in the Middle East.  Everyone should be worried about him.  And not trust a single word he says (he supported the democracy movement in Egypt while cracking down on dissidents in Iran).  He’s up to something.  And a bad something, no doubt.  Others know this.  And have taken action to delay his atomic bomb making ability.  Many believe that these people launched the Stuxnet computer virus with the objective of interrupting the Iranian nuclear program.  This malware spun some of their uranium-enrichment centrifuges out of control, damaging them.  It would appear they are unloading the uranium fuel to make repairs, further delaying their ability to make an atomic bomb.

Some will object to this interference into a sovereign nation.  And some have criticized those in the West.  Who are we to say who can and cannot have a nuclear program?  Well, the West has never started a nuclear war.  It would appear that we can’t get the same kind of assurance out of Iran (see Iran nuclear plans: Bushehr fuel to be unloaded posted 2/26/2011 on BBC News Middle East).

The IAEA report – obtained by the BBC and made available online by the Institute for Science and International Security (Isis) – says Iran is “not implementing a number of its obligations.”

These include “clarification of the remaining outstanding issues which give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme”.

Six world powers are negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme, and the country is subject to United Nations Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

Enriched uranium can be used for civilian nuclear purposes, but also to build atomic bombs.

The United States has been a nuclear power since 1945.  Who in the world today is worried about a U.S. nuclear first strike?  No one.  It’s not who we are.  And our history of being a nuclear power proves it.  Now who thinks Iran can be trusted with nuclear weapons like the U.S.?  Only those who see the world through the same prism as Iran.  Those people who want to see Israel and the United States destroyed.  Other, rational people know the world will be a more dangerous place with a nuclear Iran.

Saudi Arabia on the Right Side of Soviet Communism and Iranian Hegemony

And we come back to Bahrain.  Which can be the fuse to the tinderbox growing in the Middle East and North Africa (see Could the next Mideast uprising happen in Saudi Arabia? by Rachel Bronson posted 2/25/2011 on The Washington Post).

The unrest in Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen (to the kingdom’s west, east and south) plays on the Saudis’ greatest fear: encirclement. The Saudis aligned with the United States instead of colonial Britain in the early 20th century in part to defend against creeping British hegemony. During the Cold War the monarchy hunkered down against its Soviet-backed neighbors out of fear of being surrounded by communist regimes. And since the end of the Cold War, the overarching goal of Saudi foreign policy has been countering the spread of Iranian influence in all directions – Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Yemen…

Sunni-ruled Bahrain, less than 20 miles from Saudi Arabia’s oil- and Shiite-rich Eastern Province, has been a longtime recipient of Saudi aid. It has also been a focus of Iranian interests.

The Saudis are “concerned about the events unfolding in Bahrain and throughout the region.”  And they weren’t too happy with President Obama on Egypt.  They were “reportedly furious that the Obama administration ultimately supported regime change in Egypt, because of the precedent it could set.”  And for good reason.  The Saudis have always been on our side.  I mean, they’re not perfect, but it doesn’t get much better in the Muslim Middle East.

The United States has a great deal at stake in Saudi Arabia, though Americans often look at the Saudis with distaste. As one senior Saudi government official once asked me: “What does the United States share with a country where women can’t drive, the Koran is the constitution and beheadings are commonplace?” It’s a tough question, but the answer, quite simply, is geopolitics – and that we know and like Saudi’s U.S.-educated liberal elites.

The Saudis have been helpful to us. They are reasonably peaceful stalwarts. They don’t attack their neighbors, although they do try to influence them, often by funding allies in local competitions for power. They are generally committed to reasonable oil prices. For example, although their oil is not a direct substitute for Libyan sweet crude, the Saudis have offered to increase their supply to offset any reduction in Libyan production due to the violence there. We work closely with them on counterterrorism operations. And the Saudis are a counterbalance to Iran. We disagree on the Israel-Palestinian issue, but we don’t let it get in the way of other key interests.

Saudi Arabia is not in as bad economic conditions as the other nations falling into unrest.  It may not fall.  But if Bahrain falls under hard-line Shiite control, that’s not going to help the Saudis.  The Middle East.  The United States.  Or world peace.  Before that happens, we should consider treating our friends better than our enemies.

Will Democracy Win the Day for Oppressive, Authoritarian Rule?

As volatile regions go, they don’t come much more volatile than the Middle East.  And, like it or not, many of the world’s economies are dependent on their oil.  We know this.  They know it.  And our enemies know it.

As chaos spreads opportunity knocks.  And it’s clear who is knocking.  Iran.  We have kept this oppressive, authoritarian regime’s ambitions in check so far.  It’s rather ironic, then, that it’s greatest enemy may be the key for her success.  Democracy.  In other countries.  That will cause chaos that Iran can exploit.  Much like they did during the Iranian Revolution. 

History does have a funny way of repeating itself, doesn’t it?

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #31: “Islam and guns are a lot alike. And yet when something bad happens, we try to ban one and forgive the other.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 14th, 2010

INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE

Yes, people with guns do kill people.  And, yes, extreme Islamic fundamentalist fanatics do kill people.  But guns keep the peace.  As does less fanatical Islam.

Societies have formed militias (armed with guns) to protect themselves from aggressors who did not wish to cohabitate in peace.   Thomas Jefferson used guns to stop the piracy along the Barbary Coast.  The Allies used guns to stop Adolf Hitler.  The NATO nations used guns to balance the Soviet threat in Eastern Europe.  An American led coalition used guns to first prevent Saddam Hussein from invading Saudi Arabia.  They then used guns to force him out of Kuwait.

Islam, and religion in general, provides a code of morality.  Religion can unite an otherwise diverse people.  It is this common faith that lets a diverse people to live together in peace and harmony.

GUNS DON’T KILL; PEOPLE DO

Guns don’t kill people.  And it’s not the bullets, either.  You can place a loaded handgun on a table with the safety off and it won’t do anything.  You can call it a name, sleep with its wife or impregnate its daughter (figuratively, of course) and it will just lay there.  For that gun to do something, a person has to pick it up.  Place their finger on the trigger.  Aim.  And shoot.  Until a person does, a gun will never harm a soul.

ISLAM DOESN’T KILL; PEOPLE DO

You can read about Islam in a book.  You can put that book on a table and it won’t do anything.  You can insult it, profane it and denounce it and it will just lay there.  For this religion to do something, someone has to read the book.  If they cannot read, a person who has read the book has to explain it to the illiterate one.  And then act.  Only when a person makes a conscious choice to commit some action can a religion harm anyone.  And if these people choose peace there will be peace.  If they choose violence there will be violence. 

ZYKLON B DOESN’T KILL; PEOPLE DO

The Nazis used to shoot undesirables (Jews, gypsies, Slavs, etc.).  They’d make a mother hold a child so one bullet could kill two.  But as the killing increased, bullets just proved to be inefficient.  And costly.  So they developed the extermination camps.  The death chamber.  And Zyklon B.  This poison could be stored and handled safely.  When it was time, a person would open a canister and pour the chemical into the gas chamber.  If left undisturbed in the canisters, Zyklon B never would have harmed a soul.  It only killed when a person placed it in into an environment where it could.

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION DON’T KILL; PEOPLE DO

The Kurds are a lot like the Palestinians, only without Jewish neighbors.  After the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, everyone in Mesopotamia got a nation-state except the Kurds.  With the new national borders, the nomadic Kurds could no longer move freely through the lands they once did.   And, well, this caused problems.  Conflicts.  And bitter feelings.  The Kurds supported the Iranians in the Iran-Iraq war.  Saddam Hussein was not amused.  The Iraqis had stockpiles of chemical weapons.  Hussein decided to use them.  On the Kurdish town of Halabja.  He killed some 5,000 Kurds.  Injured about 10,000 more.  Mostly civilians.  If these weapons were not loaded on aircraft, then flown over and dropped on Halabja, they would not have harmed a soul.  But when orders were given, and carried out, by people, they did.

PEOPLE DON’T KILL; IDEOLOGY DOES

Yeah, so it’s pretty clear that guns, religion and chemicals are pretty benign when left alone.  Unless a person gets involved, these things just won’t hurt anyone.  It’s the people.  They’re the problem.

There are a lot of gun owners in the United States.  Few use their guns to hurt others, though.  And Muslims tell us their religion is a religion of peace.  Only a small minority perverts it to harm others.  And there’re many national leaders.  Few have committed chemical genocide.  So it’s not all people.  Just some.  That are the problem.

So what, then, makes some people do these things while others do not?  Ideology.  Some people are passionate about their ideology.  And some are so passionate that they do not permit an alternative ideology.  This is when things get dangerous.  Because they kill for their ideology.

WE KEEP GUNS OFF OF AIRPLANES AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED

The Left wants to take away our guns.  They point to gun violence and say, “See?”  But law-abiding gun owners don’t commit these crimes.  Criminals commit these crimes.  Using guns obtained on the black market.  And denying law-abiding citizens from owning guns won’t shut down the black market.  Just as illegalizing drugs hasn’t made drugs unavailable.  Make something illegal and a thriving black market will develop.  Which will be lucrative for criminals.  So much so that they will use extreme violence to maintain their market share.

Let’s imagine a fictional world where we ban all guns.  Would it be a better, more peaceful world?

On September 11, 2001, Islamic fundamentalists armed with box cutters hijacked 4 commercial jetliners.  Two of these planes crashed into the Twin Towers.  One crashed into the Pentagon.  The passengers on one plane fought back with what weapons they could find.  The plane crashed.  They died.  But they prevented the terrorists from successfully completing their mission.

Since 9/11, some people carry guns on airplanes.  You know why?  Because a gun can stop a passionate ideologue with a box cutter.

DON’T IMPOSE YOUR VALUES ON ME

Ideology is far more dangerous than guns.  And yet, when something bad happens with a gun the Left wants to enact another level of gun control.  But when a militant Islamic fundamentalist kills Americans, the Left cautions us not to rush to judgment.  Because we may anger the Muslim world.  Who appear only to get angrier however we may try to appease them.  And yet we continue to try.  Even if it compromises our national security.  There comes a point where you have to ask yourself, why?  Why do we adhere to a lose-lose policy?

They don’t like us.  They never will like us.  Trying to make them like us only portrays us as weak.  Which makes them feel more contempt for us.  And emboldens them.  For they respect strength.  And only strength.  Which is something the Left does not understand.  Nor will they ever.  For they think that if you just apologize enough people will like you.

Of course, the Left has no compunction about attacking Christianity.  They have no problem with pornographic films with priests and nuns.  A movie where Jesus Christ has an affair with Mary Magdalene.  Or placing a crucifix in a jar of urine and calling it art.  But they would never, ever, show such disrespect to Islam.  Why?

The Left does not like the Christian Right imposing their values on them.  So they attack Christianity.  And support Islam.  In the name of religious freedom.  Christianity must accommodate Islam.  And we must forgive every transgression of Islam.  Anyone who disagrees is a right-wing extremist.  Intolerant.  And un-American.  The Left couldn’t ask for a better group of people to exploit.

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