Friday, June 25, 2004

Religion of Peace? Yeah... right.

I've been walking around a conundrum for a while: Moderate Muslims? All the historical literatures I've read for years have described the spread of Islam in military terms. And the smattering that I've picked up from reading the Koran has been all brutally direct in its language.

Ibn Warraq, the executive director of the Institute for the Secularization of Islamic Society says, "There may be moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate. There is no difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism. At most there is a difference of degree but not of kind. (from

From the Koran 4.56: "As for those who disbelieve in Our communications, we shall make them enter fire; so oft as their skins are thoroughly burned, We will change them for their other skins, that they may taste the chastisement; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise."

Also: "Then when the Sacred Months have passed, then kill the Mushrikun (Jews) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salat (Muslim prayer) and give Zakat (pay a fine)then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

I guess what that means is that if you will bend over and take it from the Muslims, then as long as you are willing slaves they will allow you to live, but they are obliged to snuff you out if you don't follow like slaves. Hey, it's God's will. It's the old line of My Way or the Highway.

The trouble I'm having is that I sat right here and heard our President pour understandable oil on the troubled waters after the 9/11 disaster. I can understand it only as a way of avoiding a "Wounded Knee" style reaction for our quick draw population. He didn't want a bunch of pissed off red necks going down to the local mosque here in Cracker Orlando and burning the place down with a bunch of children inside hiding from their neighbors.

These are the folks (I mean the Muslims who live here in America that only want what every reasonable American --- read secular --- person wants... a peaceful life)who want us to believe that they are moderates. OK, they're moderates because they don't want to witness bonfires of burning babies here in the land of Mickey. And they know intuitively that we are just the kind of folks who can burn down their mosques in a heartbeat and kill their children without blinking an eyebrow and make their sandy jihads seem like small potatoes. I already hear otherwise serious people talking about deserts of glass surrounding the Middle East. Even while the Muslim fundamentalists are hacking off the heads of Americans on the other side of the world.

These folks really don't have any idea who they are messing with. We are not nice people. Ask the Indians. Or the Japanese. Or the residents of Dresden. Heck... go ask the Muslims who bucked us in the Phillipines and didn't see General Black Jack Pershing coming.

The point is that there may be lots of "moderate" guys who are of the Islam point of view... but they are gonna have a hell of time with their neighbors. Their church says Kill the Infidels. No partial measures, no compromise, no meeting at the half way point. Can you be a Moderate Muslim? I think not. That's kind of like being a Moderate Hellfire and Brimstone Fundamentalist Baptist. You know, one of those snake handling, Bible thumping, Gospel shouting Baptists that are constantly asserting that if you don't repent and be quick about it... they're by God gonna burn you at the cross. Of course, that kind of rabid Christianity used to be the norm. Remember, Savronola was burned alive at the stake right in the Florentine street in front of Machiavelli's office. And remember the Inquisition once upon a time emptied out whole villages in Medieval Europe.

The Muslims who are troubling our sleep today are still trapped in those old... and I do mean olden... days. Their culture made a full stop when they failed to take Vienna and stirred up a Holy War that resulted in the Crusades. Today WE can only stir up memories of those days in books and bad movies starring Governor Arnold. But to those rag heads... they are trying to pick up the banner that they dropped when they failed Allah and lost a war of conquest at the gates of Vienna before the Crusades. They haven't forgotten. We have. We moved on. They haven't.

They have hated us (the West)for centuries because they think that their God was defeated at the hands of evil Shaitan. They refer to America as Satan and they will kill us all if they can. That is the precise reason Black Jack Pershing understood that the only way to coexist with them was if they all were dead. Well... OK. Let's get on with it.

Yeah... that makes sense. But "a religion of peace"? Not even close. Not in a dozen centuries. Islam has always been a religion based of conquest. Those guys make us seem like lightweights in the brutal massicree business. Hell, Sulieman was one of those guys who lead the way in defining what a mass murderer is. Him, Stalin, Pol Pot... lovely characters. Madmen, true believers, fundamentalists.

Now these loonie fundamentalists are chopping off heads to prove a point. Fine. And there are lots of guys who are recommending the traditional answer to rabid fundamentalism: If they won't listen to reason, apply the General Pershing solution to them -- eradicate them. The nice thing about killing your enemies is that they aren't around making any more noises.

My suggestion is to not give way to anger, but to calmly seek each and ever one of them out and stop their breathing. Pershing did just that in the Phillipines, and today most folks can't even remember what they were fighting about.

I know it's an old Marine Corps joke but there is a kernal of truth in it - Kill them all... Let God sort them out. That way we only have managable problems.

Then let's get on with the business of managing them.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004


I've been mulling over my ideas about this most recent film of Michael Moore's. Mostly, I just loathe the guy. But I read this today on Slate that says it all: Unfairenheit 9/11 by Christopher Hitchens. He says it all.

If you were to bottle the stuff you could sell it for weed killer. Moore is everything that is nasty about the American Left. Hitchens is so so on target. I may have to go wipe myself. The guy just gives me that much of a violent wrench in the guts.


Friday, June 18, 2004


I know, I know, it's been a week between blogs. But I've been buried in work (whine whine) and... I caged a copy of Paul Theroux's new book from my friend Tom Leete. For those of you who aren't familiar with this guy, he is the premier travel writer of all times and one of the best all round scribblers living today. Anyhow, this new book with the postscript has been out for several months and I have been procrastinating and walking around and around in Barnes and Nobles for a while staring at it and finally my friend Tommy appeared with his very own copy so I mooched it. Now understand, this is the guy who wrote "Sailing Through China" and "The Pillars of Hercules" and just about every other travel book worth reading since Burton... "To The Ends of the Earth" is chilling. Ooo Wee. And "Sunrise With Seamonsters" and "The Great Railway Bazaar" and "The Old Patagonian Express". And this new one is the best yet.

Theroux took a trip from Cairo to Cape Town without benefit of any airplanes. Just took off to hoof it from the northern end of Africa to the southern end. Up the Nile from Cairo through Karnak and Kom Ombo and Aswan and Philae. Then across the border into the Sudan and down to Khartoum and the split of the White Nile and the Blue Nile. Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique. Struggling through all the filth and unhappiness of the most desolate of landscapes. Lawless children in a country of orphans. Hunger, disease, violence, suffering. And... hope and bleak cheerfulness engendered by knowing that the bottom has been reached and there is no other way to go but up. Venal, corrupt, ruthless, heartless indifference to the suffering of the poor. And the bland and dangerous generosity of the "helping" professionals who have a vested interest in keeping the poor poor and the weak weak.

The book wears me out. Paul Theroux wears me out. He is so relentlessly honest and has such a powerful vision of "The Truth" with capital letters. He begs for comparison in our own culture. It is the charities that are killing Africa. And here, the parallel is clear. The most dangerous thing that has happened to the American poor this century has been the entitlement programs. Whole waves of people dependant on a system that beggars them and keeps a jackboot on their throats while making them grateful for the measley handout they get from Uncle Sugar. It's scary.

And Theroux calmly talks about the fear he feels while trying to negotiate the streets of the Malawian border patrol.

"What are you looking for?"
"Drugs and guns."
"Do you ever find any of that stuff?"
"Before the day ends we will find something."

Hopeful hungry policemen looking for today's bribe money. Food on tomorrow's table for the starving rulers of a subsistance nation. They live off boiled maize when they can get it. The money is worthless because there is nothing to buy. AIDS is running at 40% of the population and the largest pool of workers are the coffin makers. Dante's pit is here.

I've felt that fear in unlikely places myself. Often in remote places a far far way from help. I recall having to bribe my way across Panama and bribe my way through the Sunda Straights. I also have felt the cool fear of the dark streets of Orlando's 'hood... the Carver Street area of Washington Shores where the police do not go and the CS Boys actually are the government.

Anyhow, this superb book is the reason why the blogging has been a little light this week. Interested in a really good read? Go get a copy of Paul Theroux's "Dark Star Safari" published by Houghton Mifflin. Like I said. I'm feeling a little restless.


Friday, June 11, 2004


Well, it's been one of those kind of weeks. The Gipper is gone. It isn't like we didn't expect it, and in a quiet way I think that it was a kindness to take him. I mean... the man was gone.

And now we've lost Ray Charles too. Well, damn. Again, it's not like it was a surprise.

It's just that it's hard to imagine a world without those guys. It's a little like losing a parent. They were both men who reshaped their worlds to suit themselves. Reagan transformed modern politics, created the new Republicans who gave up being losers and became Reagan Republicans, and created a world where I can't imagine anyone going back. You want another dose of the Great Society? And... he made it just about impossible for us to go back to all that kind of loser politics unless we deliberately and intentionally choose to shoot ourselves in the foot. Can you imagine Hillary actually having a shot at the brass ring? Shudder! And heck... there isn't a Russia to go back to, is there?

And Ray Charles... well, Ray was an artist who moved gospel and country and soul and blues all together into modern music without being trapped by categories or labels. Charles didn't make any music but his own and he made it possible for artists to move from one genre to another without losing audience. Now days we think nothing of picking up CDs of pop singers singing country and rock guitar players making soft jazz. Diana Krall making CDs with Tony Bennett! What can I say?

They'll both be missed, and every day that goes by will make that fact more and more apparent. Like I said, it's like losing a parent. I can't imagine a world without either of them.

The only comfort we can cling to is the fact that all the work of both of them will go on and on in all those old movie channels and big sky music channels on cable. And... in all of our lives that reflect their art.



Wednesday, June 02, 2004


You get used to a certain level of whining, no matter what your natural inclinations. For a long time I've been tolerating a certain level of whining about media bias... yada yada liberal asshats yada yada. You know the usual complaints.

And... there is a distant but certain truth to all of it.

But I have always discounted a large part of the right leaning whiners' claims of an organized media bias because I don't believe that there is any actual "conspiracy" at work. Conspiracy implies some sort of organized and intelligent control with intent, and I've never given the moonbats that much credit. I suppose it's because I have always worked in large institutions like schools and universities and state agencies and courthouses. My bail bond business always had a focal point of the courts and you couldn't ask for a more out of control bunch of loonies than the cops and the courts. The courts define the notion of human error. And, schools by definition are chaotic. Those idiots couldn't conspire their way out of a wet paper sack. I still believe that. We all depend of a certain high level of organizational incompetence. Jeez... the last time the government (especially the government) was capable of getting the trains to run on time they killed half of the Nation of Israel and heaped corpses up to the sky. Imagine if the SS was running the liberal press. Yikes!

What we have always counted on is that there is no evil intent to do harm or to defraud. I know it happens, but most people intuitively know that good pushes out bad and that most of us want to do the right thing. It's one of those givens, from the time of Plato... that if man knows the right he will strive to achieve it. Always. So where does this crap come from? Huh?

We may disapprove of Mr. Kerry and his politics, but I don't hear anyone coming up with criminal intent charges, just rabid biases. I may not wish him well and I certainly don't intend to vote for him, but I haven't got the energy that it would take to actively oppose him because I believe that he is a dingbat and a loser and has the wrong end of the stick. Would I deliberately try to quash a report of something that he did that I might find good? Nope. I wish he would spend more time trying to find things that we agree on. Heck, he might wind up voting Republican. I can dream, can't I? But suppress the truth? Not me. That wouldn't be playing fair and if we have to stoop to cheating then the game is not worth the prize. Is it?

What I'm trying to say is that while I agree generally with the bias claims I have, until recently, inclined to think that the consipracy whispers are an example of "crying wolf too much". But...

Yeah... there's a but.

A couple of weeks ago I came across a human interest story about the Prez stopping on the campaign trail when he heard a kid admit to losing her mom at the twin towers to the terrorists on 9/11 and the President of the United States took a moment to talk to the girl and her father, give the kid a hug, and actually came across as a decent and compassionate man, a father who cares about a child's grief. Come on guys, that was one of those golden moments of human interest and it should have been on every TV screen in America. You've got to be made of granite to not get misty over that kind of heart tug. Was there one? Nope. Other than the local paper the only place you might have heard about it was in the trusty ole blogosphere. Come on! This shit should sell papers. I mean... tons and tons of papers. TV. Guest shots on Oprah. I mean... come on!

Well, OK... they missed it and you can't got it back and if you try to recreate something like that without killing the goose it will turn to poison and bite you in the ass. So it went on by.

Now we come to this.

Sgt.Hook has another absolutely solid gold human interest story that should sell to any... I mean ANY... market. Have you seen the story anywhere else in the media? Nope.

Now suddenly, I'm getting a little queasy about the free market of ideas. I'm beginning to seriously think that if it wasn't for the trusty blogosphere there would be NO exchange of ideas. That's scarey. That's like saying that the traditional media shills are deliberately avoiding any news that might make the Prez look good.


I'd like to think that the Office has more power than this. I'd like to think that the President of the United States has sufficient clout to Make News no matter what the biases of the vendors.

I'm on the edge of admitting that I'm a polyanna. Does tnis mean that all those conspiracy loonies that I have shrugged off as wholesale bullshit might have had a whisper of truth? Shudder.

Can we, as a culture, afford to have a radically negative skewed market such as this? And what is it that supports this shoddy workmanship? And how long can this nasty little secret be maintained?

The traditional answer in most marketplace imbalances is that good work pushes out bad. But how long is it going to take for poor reportage to die the slow death... and where is the good reportage that should replace it? Could it be that the only responsible reporting a person can get in America is on the Internet? Does this mean that GutrumbleRob and Velociman and SgtHook and the Belmont Club represent the future of journalism. I guess so.

Imagine a world where the only way the average guy can taste the Truth unadorned is at the gentle hands of Acidman or Sgt. Hook. That does seem to have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?