The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘terrorism’ Category

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISLAM, MODERATE ISLAM AND RADICAL ISLAM – PART II

I apologize to my readers who anxiously awaited part two of this piece for my delay in posting but sometimes life not only imitates art – but it gets in the way of it.

In response to the recent and ongoing terrorist attacks carried out by people who are Muslim throughout Europe and the United States among other places, the news media has found a new go to buzz word that they have nearly succeeded in beating into the ground.  That word is “radicalized”.  It’s as though they feel they should be able to pinpoint that psychotropic moment when a perfectly happy, normal individual suddenly has an internal button pushed by some external entity or event and they suddenly enter a different world with a personality totally antithetical to their previous one.  That is nonsense and hog wash of the first order.

Of course, the present administration has bent over backwards with the limberness of a double jointed gymnast to avoid calling Islamic impelled terrorism what it is, despite the fact that every one of the three acronyms we give it, IS, ISIL, ISIS all start with the word Islamic.  The official, politically correct reason is that using that term disparages a religion and brands all Muslims with the same broad brush strokes of hatred which is essential to the makeup of those who blow themselves and others up with a religious zeal that can be described as nothing other than Islamic.  The holy book of Islam, the Koran, encourages this behavior.

I find it hard to understand how those on the left proclaim that we should have understanding and respect for one of the world’s largest religions – yet they do not see what it is that Islam actually is and what it teaches.  The throw away phrase that it is a “religion of peace” is belied by the facts of history from its inception until today’s most recent atrocity in a parish in France.  Islam is both a religion and a political entity which teaches that it should be the exclusive faith of every human on earth and those who fail to convert should be killed. That is Islam at its core.  In it’s political aspect it is no more or less totalitarian than Hitler’s Third Reich or Stalin’s Soviet Union.

For a moment, let’s consider the left’s premise that those who drive trucks through crowds with the intent of killing as many as possible, carry out beheadings of people of other faiths, throw gays from buildings, stone to death women accused of adultery and perpetrate “honor killings” should one of their children marry outside her or his parent’s determination of who should be their spouse, are really only lost souls who have gone mentally AWOL.  Their Islamic faith had nothing to do with their behavior.  But the fact is that Sharia Law, the codification of behaviors and punishments set forth in the Koran and in the Hadiths (sayings) of Mohammed preach exactly those forms of punishment and dictate that exact behavior in Islam’s adherents, the truck and flying planes into buildings being modern improvements, of course.

For an administration that considers the luxury accommodations at Guantanamo Bay to be cruel and unusual punishment, it is somewhat difficult for an intelligent person to understand how it dismisses, or more exactly, totally ignores the pernicious punishments which Sharia Law so generously hands out with the sanctity of what they believe is their holy faith.  Most Westerners would consider Sharia Law to be an exact description of the term “radical”.  And while the left so quickly dismisses these horrific acts as mere aberrations of the mentally challenged, let’s see how many Muslims actually believe in the sanctity of Sharia Law.  To that end, we’ll spend a moment with Ben Shapiro, one of the most brilliant people I know and see his analysis of this issue.

https://youtu.be/g7TAAw3oQvg

So according to Mr. Shapiro’s presentation there are (or were a few years ago) 680,000,000 “radical Muslims” in the countries he analyzed.  And while I have the greatest respect for Mr. Shapiro, I think he (and most others) are missing the point which is that by the very nature of Islam, any true believer is “radical” – at least as we in the West think of civilized conduct and behavior.  But even if we accept Ben’s analysis of “radical Muslims” and were to assume that while “radical” most of these are not “motivated” to perform radical deeds, let’s say one out of one thousand, that means there are 680,000 Muslims worldwide who might strike out against what they perceive as the enemies of Islam – which is to say the entire non-Muslim world.

While some may consider that a slam against a religious faith, Islam of the three great “faiths of the Book” is the only one which has both a religious and political agenda.  And it is that political agenda to which I am referring.  By contrast, Christian missionaries try to convert those who are non-Christian through preaching and example.  By contrast, Judaism discourages people from converting to that faith.  It is only Islam that views all infidels as worthy of contempt and in the failure of conversion, worthy of death at the hands of the devout Muslim.

It fascinates me how the left, so pre-occupied as they are, with “diversity” can be so defensive of Islam which preaches nothing other than religious and political homogeneity.  It amazes me that the left that so decries the “racism” inherent in the pre-amendment Constitution, valuing a black person as only three fifths of a white person for purposes of census and apportionment of Congressional seats, can be so supportive of Islam which states that a woman’s inheritance shall be only one half that of a male relative’s.  It astounds me that the left, so intent on equal justice for the bathroom rights of transgenders should be so silent when it comes to Islam’s imposing the death sentence on men who are involved in homosexual sex acts.  But then, one has to be logical to be astounded – and that has never been a core principle of the left – and most likely never will be.

The American apologist in chief, President Obama, has led this country and the Western world down a dreadful path with the “Iranian Nuclear Deal.”  The mullahs in Tehran must be laughing and drooling in their beards.  This is a bad deal, not because of the terms which they essentially dictated, but because there can be, as holy followers of the Koran, no deal whose terms they must honor because one of the parties is not a Muslim state.  According to both the Koran and Mohammed’s own actions in dealing with non-Muslims, any requirements imposed on them cannot be enforced as Allah allows, in fact, invokes faithful Muslims to agree to anything that will advance the furtherance of Islam in the world but in no way penalizes the faithful if they default on their end of the bargain.  It’s not unlike negotiating with an extortionist who has your entire family hostage and threatens to dismember each one of them if you don’t agree to his terms.

In light of this admittedly negative view of political Islam, Donald Trump’s much denounced statement about a “religious test” for admitting Syrian “refugees” is, perhaps, not so terribly outrageous.  The fact that every intelligence branch of our government has acknowledged that there is no way we can possibly corroborate the backgrounds of those who wish to migrate here should, of itself, be sufficient reason to oppose letting potential Trojan horses into the United States.  But there is a way out – one that would allow us to fulfill our welcoming outreach to the downtrodden and which would provide those who are already here with at least a moderate sense of security.

Let us open our arms to those few remaining Christian Syrians whose population has been so genocidaly reduced by ISIS.  They are people who most desperately need our help.  And they are people who are most likely to assimilate and be thankful for having the opportunity to be a part of the American dream.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISLAM, MODERATE ISLAM AND RADICAL ISLAM – PART I

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(See Part II)

THE WAKING DREAD

Several days ago I mentioned the impact that 9/11/01 had on me psychologically.

It was inconceivable to me that a person could be so unfeeling to take an airliner filled with innocent people and crash it into a building filled with thousands of other innocent people.  And that sense of overwhelming despair only increased as we found out that it wasn’t one person but many.  And the death count mounted, as those whom they left behind hoped against hope that perhaps somehow, by some incredible miracle, their loved ones had escaped the devastation and the rubble.  But for most of them, their hopes would not come to fruition and they had to face the reality that they were gone forever.

The ennui that I felt I’m sure was shared by many Americans.  And if there were one thing that helped me through it that came in the person of two individuals.

The first was President George W. Bush, (not one of my favorite people).  But giving credit where it is due, when Bush went to New York, donned a first responder’s jacket and rallied the people of the city to press on, I believe that was one of the defining moments of his presidency and was a statement of his love for this country.

The second was Mayor Rudy Guilliani (one of my all time favorites).  The Mayor not only had the Herculean task of dealing with all the turmoil, the heartbreak and the aftermath of the destruction of two of New York’s landmarks but he did so without giving any indication of feeling the strain from this undertaking and, most importantly got the job done.

Both of these men fulfilled their duty and went above and beyond the call of rallying us out of our shell-shocked state and proved examples of how the American people can rise above tragedy and regroup and rebuild.  They were an inspiration – at least that’s how I viewed them.

One of the more popular current television programs is The Walking Dead.  I inadvertently ran across it as I was surfing channels in a desperate attempt to find something that would be entertaining and stimulating.  I had the show up for probably ten seconds when I saw a lineup of men, apparently kneeling and then systematically having their throats cut over a trough into which their blood ran.  I happened to catch this episode not too long after the iconic picture of some Syrian Christians wearing orange jump suits were similarly slaughtered by ISIS.

I quickly changed the channel.

Now movies about zombies are nothing new.  They’ve been around since I was a kid – although the preferred method of “zombie-ification” was normally caused by a spell or potion which the Haitian voodoo doctor had concocted.  Today, we have managed to advance beyond herbs and arcane rituals and have been able to harness the power of chemicals, germs and viruses with the intent of weaponizing them.  (Normally, the research is done under the much more noble guise of trying to figure out how to weaponize them so that if one of the “bad guys” weaponized them we would be prepared with an antidote – if you believe that story).

But what if, just what if, there were some virulent poison released on the general population which either decimated the population or transformed us into those flesh-eating zombies?  Would those of us who might be lucky enough to survive such an attack be able to rely on the resources and people who head up government – or would we have to go it alone?

Or what if a far more realistic possibility occurred and those JV terrorists knocked out the electric grid?  We’ve known that is a serious vulnerability and have known that for at least a decade.  What is more disturbing is that we also have a way to fix the problem so that it wouldn’t cascade into a national power outage but have failed even to take steps to begin to implement that protection.  And with all that knowledge, with all the money that Washington finds for pet projects, not one dime has been allocated to protect this vital resource which, if it were crippled, might result in the death of as much as ninety percent of the population.

The way in which the Obama administration has addressed every assignment thrown at it or which it has initiated does not inspire me with confidence.  The mantra of Hope and Change suckered enough of us to hear a chord of promise which turned into a cacophony of pretense.  And as I wake each morning with a sense of dread deep set in the recesses of my mind, I now cling to that campaign theme and hope that we make it through the next fourteen months and find a leader who will help us change back into a united country, strong in resolve and optimistically leading the world toward a new and brighter dawn.

CAIN AND ABEL

1Adam knew his wife Eve intimately, and she conceived and bore Cain. She said, “I have had a male child with the LORD‘s help.”

2Then she also gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel became a shepherd of a flock, but Cain cultivated the land. 3In the course of time Cain presented some of the land’s produce as an offering to the LORD. 4And Abel also presented [an offering] – some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering. Cain was furious, and he was downcast.

6Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why are you downcast? 7If you do right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

8Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”

And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

—Genesis 4:1-8

The Biblical account of Cain and Abel details how the first human born slew his brother, the second human to be conceived.  There is no description of how it was that Cain accomplished his fratricide but it is fair to guess that he didn’t use a Colt .45.

Whether it is jealousy, anger, pride, willfulness, mental illness, greed or war, there have been many reasons that one human has found justification for doing away with others of his kind.  And that has been an unfortunate truth about the human condition since humans first made their way upon the Earth.

For those of us who witnessed and participated in the Civil Rights movement going back to the early 1960’s, it is hard to escape the similarity of the act of terrorism that occurred at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and bombings and lynchings that occurred fifty years ago in the deep South.   But with one very important difference.

In the ‘60’s there was at least a perception of near indifference on the part of those in elected position to the murderous tragedies which occurred to black Americans and today there has been a nearly universal outpouring of support which transcends racial lines at the deaths of the nine innocent Bible study participants who were summarily executed by the racist Dylann Roof.

The survivors of the nine victims exhibited an amazing amount of grace in the face of their losses, several of them openly forgiving Roof for his murderous acts.  That is a display of Christianity at it’s finest.  And it would have been uplifting if both President Obama and presumed Democrat presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton had merely expressed their sadness at this terrible incident rather than turning it into an opportunity to lobby for and make statements about gun control, as though mankind has only begun slaughtering one another since the gun was first invented.  At the very least their comments were both gauche and insensitive.

We have only to look at ISIS to know that no gun has ever been used to behead a person.  The story of Cain and Abel clearly demonstrates that until we as a race find a path to inner peace there will be neither peace nor justice among us.  And from our history, it appears that quest may be a long time in coming.

THE REFRESHING HONESTY OF ISLAMIC RADICALISM

It was a rainy and cold fall day so after school athletics had ben cancelled and I returned home from school early.  I finished most of my homework, leaving the assignment to translate the second chapter of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s  classic story, “Le Petit Prince” for later as I had three days to complete that.  As I closed my math book, Grandma asked me to set the table for dinner and I was in the process of doing that when the door opened and my father came home.  I went over to give him a hug and could tell that something was bothering him.  He wasn’t his usual jovial self.

At dinner the conversation turned to the fact that he had let go Andy Willis, his salesman who covered the New England states for his company.  He also told us that since he didn’t have a salesman representing the territory, he would have to go to Boston to man the Gift Show which was being held a few weeks later and would probably spend a week calling on his clients in the region.  It was a bit reminiscent of the days gone by when Dad was on the road forty or more weeks a year before he started his own company.

Mom asked why he had let Andy go.  This was not an every day occurrence by any means as most of my father’s employees had been with him for ten or more years.  And I knew, given my father’s disposition, that he would have tried everything in his power to help his now former employee become successful as he tried to help everyone he met and knew.  That was one of his most impressive virtues.  He simply said, “Well, to call a spade a spade, Andy simply wasn’t meeting the goals that we had mutually agreed were reasonable – and I saw no reason to believe that was going to change.”

I believe that it was the first time I heard that expression, “Calling a spade a spade.”  It was very characteristic of my father’s approach to life.  He called things the way he saw them – no pussyfooting around.  That is not to say that he was crude or rude because he was one of the most gentle people I have ever known.  But if you tried to put one over on him, he would call you on it – albeit in the most polite manner.  I know because on more than one occasion I tried.  I lost every one of those attempts at deception.  And finally, perhaps because I learned that telling the truth was a heck of a lot easier than trying to fabricate and maintain a lie, I adopted my father’s philosophy and came to believe that, “Honesty is the best policy.”

The events this week in Paris would have infuriated my father – not for their mere depravity but because of the dissembling response by most world leaders, including our president, about the cause of these events.  And the effete news publications which have “covered” the slaughters would be right behind in deserving his derision.  What it all comes down to is the fact that none of them is willing to “Call a spade a spade.”  Instead, they all pussyfoot around the central and unifying issue which caused the deaths of more than a dozen people in France and which several days ago took the lives of more than two thousand in Nigeria.  And the name of that cancer is “Islamic Radicalism.”

Whether or not President Obama or the media wish to admit or acknowledge it, there is a war going on between terrorists who are Muslims and whose goal is the overthrow of Western Judeo-Christian civilization and its replacement with their interpretation of the Quran and Sharia law.  That’s the facts plain and simple.  And no amount of politically motivated vocabulary ethnic cleansing is going to eradicate the truth nor ameliorate the outcome.  In fact, by denying the truth these “leaders” are more likely to ensure that a worse outcome will ensue since they are failing to address the root cause of the problem and call it out for what it is.

I have to say I appreciate the honesty if not the execution of it in actual terms of the terrorist radicals.  They make no bones about their goals and they make no apologies for their methods.  They are focused with an absolute if misguided faith in what they want to achieve.  The complete domination of the world and the replacement of Western Civilization with their own perverted version of Islam.

Meanwhile, back in the capitals of Europe and the U. S. we listen to idiots like our potential new president, Hillary Clinton speak about how, “We should listen to our enemies and try to see the world through their eyes and from their perspective.”  What a load of crap – pardon my Urdu.   And this woman wants to be president.  It’s hard enough to believe she’s sufficiently competent to schedule her next appointment for a cellulite removal treatment.

And then we have our beloved media.  “The New York Times” springs to mind as the standard bearer for what passes now for modern journalism.  The Times had well over thirty articles describing the antics of the Westboro Baptist Church, a hate organization masquerading as a Christian church with a membership of less than thirty people who are focused on a single subject – deriding and ridiculing gays and lesbians.

To my knowledge, as repugnant and un-Christian as this organization’s tactics are, I don’t believe they have ever been accused of either stoning to death a gay male or lesbian woman or beheading one – in sharp contrast to Radical Islam (or one might argue Islam as a religion) which holds that is the appropriate punishment for a person engaged in gay sex – among quite a few other offenses – including extramarital sexual relations of any kind.  It’s hardly surprising that the left wing media choose to ignore that fact because if Sharia law were implemented, three quarters of Hollywood would disappear overnight.  One might argue that wouldn’t be so bad.

So as those in positions of political authority dither along, the enemy, firm in its convictions and determined in its will, are undoubtedly planning the next event, to which when it occurs our “leaders” will come out and make platitudinous general statements, descrying the most recent “outrage.”  But it will be an outrage which has been decades in the making – since the invention and implementation of “Political Correctness” (a/k/a “B*ll Sh*t”) – and will most likely continue and intensify unless and until they get a grip, put down the rose-colored glasses and take up the AK47’s.

We’ll requisition a supply of clothes pins that they can attach to their noses, to dampen their distaste at pulling the trigger, before those who are sworn enemies of our way of life pull theirs and put them out of our mutual misery.

HANDS UP, PLEASE SHOOT

With the bad rap that the liberal left in America is generally heaping on the police in this country, it might be useful for the mainstream media to pay some attention to the hostage situation in Sydney, Australia which fortunately has been resolved with minimum injury.The alleged hostage taker, one Man Haron Monis has been captured and his captors released.

“Monis has long been on officials’ radar. Last year, he was sentenced to 300 hours of community service for writing offensive letters to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. He was later charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. Earlier this year, he was charged with the sexual assault of a woman in 2002. He has been out on bail on the charges.”  (AP – Kristen Gelineau).

While Australian authorities are downplaying the hostage taking as a “one-off” event, during the course of his occupying the Lindt Coffee Shop, apparently Monis forced several of the hostages to hold up the Islamic State flag within the store, inscribed on which is the Shahada, the first of Islam’s Five Pillars of Faith and required that other of the hostages stand in the window of the store with their hands up in the symbol of surrender.  Is this merely a matter of “shopping center violence” or is there something deeper going on here?

Fortunately, the police were successful in defusing the situation.  But I couldn’t help think, what if, (God forbid) this situation had occurred in the United States and Hillary Clinton were president (double God forbid).  Given her “enlightened and progressive” views and worldview and her recent statements, this situation might well have been handled in a different manner:

 

 

The fundamental problem of the left in characterizing the Ft. Hood shooting, the beheading of the innocent woman in Oklahoma and countless other tragedies is that if you refuse to recognize the reality of what your enemy is about, it is impossible to deal with defeating that enemy effectively.  This applies not only to radical Islamists but to the situation in our inner cities where black on black violence continues unabated and where the focus of the “race mongers” including President Obama and his Henchman in Chief,” Al Sharpton, want to deflect from the real problem and focus our attention on “police brutality” and racism.

I suspect that when the hostages in Sydney were rescued from their captor, thanks to the Aussie SWAT team that liberated them, they probably cried out, “Hands Up, Please Shoot – the hostage taker”

Islamic Flag in Sydney Hostage Siege Analyzed

 

 

 

WHO YA GONNA CALL?

It was the last post that Anahlia Cowherd posted on Facebook – a plea for help – help for deliverance from a predator who lived in her house – her grandfather.  Apparently, the sexual abuse she had received from her 79 year old relative, Honorario Yango came to her mother’s attention who then confronted her father with the allegations.  He in turn killed her, his granddaughter and attempted to kill his 10 year old grandson who thankfully escaped.  Yango then turned the gun on himself, saving the taxpayers from another costly trial – and the prison system from having to make space for yet another depraved pervert.  That last sentence might sound cold – because it is.  After reading story after story about the kooks who dominate the news with their predation either on relatives or strangers, it’s getting harder to maintain a rosy outlook on humanity.

Those stories sometimes revolve around sexual abuse but others are more generic, exhibiting sheer animal gratification and the thrill of killing.  Stories such as those regarding ISIS and the events last week in Canada, New York, earlier this week in Sacramento and the innocent woman in Moore, OK who was beheaded by a former co-worker in her office fit that second category.  There are far, far more of these stories than should be appearing in any civilized society.  If I were a betting person, and I am, I suspect that the curtain is far from falling on reports of this kind.

In my years as a self-employed business person I realized that I had certain skills on which I could dependably rely and that there were some areas of running the business in which others had more ability than I did.  Rather than spend my time performing duties in which I only had average ability, I chose another route to make sure that those aspects of the business were handled in the most professional manner.  That answer was to hire someone with the expertise to manage those activities.  Whether it’s a private business or the business of government that same principle applies.

Fortunately for the business person, their enterprise is fairly simple.  It is either to manufacture a product or offer a service and do that while earning a profit so that they can continue either to manufacture a product or offer a service.  The Founding Fathers had a similarly simplistic view of the function of the Federal government granting it very few responsibilities.  But one of those was to protect the country from intruders and to keep the country’s borders secure.  That wisdom seems to have been lost on those in Washington who have taken a path where they want to control everything – resulting in their not controlling much of anything very effectively.

Recently I came across a website which I spent some time exploring.  It is a website devoted to the topic of how to stop bullying.  Without regard to partisanship, I hope that we all might agree that the actions which caused Anahlia Cowherd’s death at her grandfather’s hand is bullying carried to an extreme.  It is a problem that affects people tragically, but fortunately that number is fairly small.  And if your view is like mine, the person who engages in bullying activities has mental problems which would best be treated medically rather than governmentally.  The rather well done website, by the way can be found at the following link:  www.stopbullying.gov.  Yes, that’s right, our Federal government used some of our tax dollars to create and maintain this site.  The fact that it is easy to navigate suggests that they did not use the same contractors who were hired to put up the Obamacare website.

I would be exceptionally happy if all bullying suddenly ceased – as a result of this website or otherwise.  But we all know that is not going to happen because that same activity has been around for my lifetime and I suspect was around for centuries before I arrived on planet Earth.  So while this website leaves us with an impression that our Federal government cares about the issue, it really does nothing to fix the problem – most likely because realistically, no fix is possible.

Meanwhile, in California, there are two law enforcement officers who are dead at the hands of one man, Luis Monroy-Bracamontes a Mexican national who has been deported four times, rejected twice at the border before he entered the country and two more times after he made it into the U.S and on his second “visit” remained here for five years.  This is the practical result of the Federal government’s failure to address one of its few Constitutional responsibilities – securing the country from intruders.  What is disheartening is that the present administration actively chooses to worry about issues like bullying and passively chooses to ignore the question of securing our borders and making the country a safer place for all our citizens.

It would be foolish to suggest that all those who are in the country illegally have either criminal inclinations or intent.  But the fact that we obviously don’t enforce our laws certainly would be an inducement to those who do have criminal inclination and intent to come here, knowing that we do not give their presence or activities a very high priority.  If we suddenly stopped prosecuting people who committed bank robbery, it should surprise no one if there were a spike in the number of bank robberies that were committed.

One of the premier planks in the liberal agenda is restricting access to firearms of people who are either mentally unstable or who have criminal backgrounds, all this as a stopgap provision until they can try to figure a way to sell the idea of banning all individual ownership of munitions for any reason or purpose.  I don’t know whether Anahlia’s grandfather had a weapon which was purchased legally and registered.  I do doubt that Luis Monroy-Bracamontes’ weapon was owned licitly.  And despite the fact that the two law enforcement officers were armed, he was able to ambush and kill them.

With the Federal government’s inability or inadequacy to prioritize the safety of American citizens, we are currently dealing only with isolated incidences of violence.  What if, and hopefully this doesn’t occur, the worldwide jihadist terror movement decided to launch widespread attacks throughout the country – or attack vulnerable infrastructure such as the electric grid.  Based on the responses from the Obama administration to date, is there a rational person among us who feels confident that any Federal response to such an incident would either be effective or timely?  And having developed a sufficient permanent underclass in all of our major cities, who does not believe that members of that group would take full advantage of this situation as an opportunity to loot stores and abscond with private property?

Perhaps the greatest lobbyist for American’s right to bear arms and for the NRA is the administration and its supporters themselves.  Should such an event occur, notifying your friends on Facebook or even dialing 911 may well prove either impossible or fruitless.  And it is for that reason, so many Americans feel that if they place a call to anyone to protect them in that emergency, that call will be to Smith and Wesson.

EBOLA AND MENTAL HEALTH

After my mother’s death, my Aunt Helene readily inserted herself as a surrogate.  I had always been very close to Mom’s younger sister and I welcomed her nurturing and support at both that difficult time and for many years afterward.  I never failed to call her weekly and always sent her a wonderful birthday present.  On her 70th birthday I hosted a party for her, her three children and their spouses at The Four Seasons for dinner – although I had to specify that they gave the guests menus without prices on them – as she would have gone into cardiac arrest if she saw the cost of the meal and would have opted for bread and a glass of water.  She was a very practical lady.

There was a one year period when I was a child when my aunt disappeared from the scene.  It’s as though she had been abducted by aliens and transported to a distant planetary system.  In fact, although my parents never told me what happened and I learned the truth many years later, she had been consigned and confined to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for what was diagnosed as schizophrenia.  This was in the late 1950’s.

The “modern medicine” of that day frequently addressed this psychological illness with what today we may consider to be a rather primitive treatment.  It  was known as “shock therapy.”  If you saw the first “Lethal Weapon” Mel Gibson movie, you may remember the scene where he is suspended by his hands from the ceiling and water is poured over him as his interrogator hits him with electrodes to force him to talk.  That’s “shock therapy.”  It’s apparently extremely painful.

Well, the medical practitioners at Bellevue pronounced my aunt “cured” after she had been confined there for a year and undergone that treatment twice a week during her interment.  She returned home to her family, but I could see that she had gotten much more docile, measuring every word and making sure never to offend anyone.  She had always been a very gentle person but her gentility had transmuted to an almost submissive meekness.  It was many years before she rediscovered some of her previous élan.  And discussing that one year was so painful that no one in the family dared speak of it or ask for details – until many years later when my aunt felt comfortable discussing it and brought it up herself.

Four years went by and Aunt Helene began experiencing the same symptoms she had exhibited before her commitment.  Many years later she confided in me that she would have committed suicide rather than repeat her “therapy” at Bellevue, which incidentally, was known as one of the premier psychiatric hospitals in the country.  Fortunately, she had found an osteopathic doctor and had been seeing him for several years.  She described her current symptoms and told him about her stint at Bellevue.  He told her that he had a theory but he would need to request her medical records from the hospital before he could confirm his belief.  While waiting for those records he ordered some blood work done so that he would have those results when he received her transcript from Bellevue.

Two weeks later he called my aunt with news – some bad, some good.  “Helene, you do have a medical condition – that’s the bad news.  The good news is it isn’t schizophrenia – it’s hypoglycemia.  You have low blood sugar, the reverse of diabetes.  And hypoglycemia manifests itself in many symptomatic ways that may look like schizophrenia.  We need to raise your blood sugar level which we probably can accomplish through diet – and you should be just fine.”  My aunt told me that when she hung up from that call she felt as though the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders.  And she dealt with her condition through dietary management until her death at the age of 85.  I still miss her as she was a wonderful lady.

The blood work that Dr. Castin had received from Bellevue Hospital showed the same low blood sugar levels five years earlier.  But none of the physicians there caught it.  So my aunt went through nearly one hundred unnecessary shock treatments which left deep psychological scars.  Well, we all know the old joke that if you’re on the operating table the one thing you don’t want to hear your surgeon say as you float off under the anesthesia is, “Oops.”

Ebola is a potentially fatal disease – the mortality rates ranging between 50 – 70% according to the World Health Organization.  Mostly it has been confined to large areas of west Africa.  Probably those mortality rates would be lower in countries with more advanced infrastructure and medical systems.  Both the flu and traffic accidents kills more people in the United States than have fallen to Ebola in Africa.

As much as man would like to think he is in complete control of his own destiny, what we used to refer to as Mother Nature has a vote in the conversation – and she sometimes holds a very strong hand.  We have seen devastating plagues afflict human populations several times in recent and past history.  And while it is probably true that we are better equipped today than in the Middle Ages when bubonic plague ravaged Europe, it would be pure hubris to believe that we are so wise and so well prepared that we are impervious to a potentially ruinous outbreak of something the old gal has cooked up for us.  Admitting that would be to take the first step toward truly preparing for the potential of just such an outbreak.  And therein lies the problem.

Repeatedly since the first Ebola victim came to America from Liberia and subsequently died in Dallas, we have been told that any “large scale” outbreak of the virus is unlikely.  While that sounds reassuring, I for one would like to know the definition of “large scale.”  Is that one hundred patients; one thousand or one million?  That would seem a germane question since we have now been informed by the CDC that we have five hospitals which are prepared to handle just such an outbreak should it occur.  What the CDC has neglected to tell us is that between all five of those hospitals, spread throughout the country, there are a total of eleven beds to accommodate those who might come to them with the infection.

The CDC and its head, Dr.Tom Frieden have not exactly been reassuring in the way in which they have handled the situation thus far.  Nurses’ union leaders are complaining that they not only have not been instructed in the protocols that should be implemented to insure their safety and the proper treatment of the patients entrusted to them, but that they do not have the appropriate equipment nor instruction in how to use it.  That is a bit chilling.

The president assured us that there was no chance that Ebola would make its way to the United States.  As of this writing, we now have four such cases, the latest being a returning doctor who is with Doctors Without Borders and lives in our most populous city, New York.  He is currently quarantined in Bellevue Hospital.

This evening, from that hospital, the mayor of NYC, Bill de Blasio and NY governor, Andrew Cuomo together with the physicians who head NYC’s and the state’s health services appeared together at a news conference to update and reassure the public about the most recent Ebola patient and any potential threats to the health of New Yorkers because of the exposure he may have had to others.  I was impressed with several things at that press gathering.

First, in the finest tradition of the White House, the scheduled press conference began late.  In fact it started nearly forty minutes late.  Simple common sense would suggest that if you’re dealing with a restive public who are concerned about a situation, delaying a scheduled press briefing is not the way to instill confidence.

Second, I was struck by the almost robotic monotone in which the public was updated on the latest Ebola patient by both the mayor, the governor and the female doctor who heads NYC’s health department.  I will give credit to the state’s chief physician.  He appeared definitely to have a pulse and seemed to engage actively and with interest in the topic at hand.  I don’t expect a Periclean speech from either our elected officials and certainly not from appointed bureaucrats, but a little bit of emotion would convey a sense of actual interest.

Third, we are asked to rely on our government’s public health officials and agencies to keep us safe from harm.  One of those on a Federal level would be Sylvia Burwell, the head of Health and Human Services.  You’ll remember that agency which formerly was headed by Kathleen Sibelius who brought us the Obamacare website roll out.  In his remarks, Governor Cuomo, never a candidate for a MENSA application, referred to Ms. Burwell as the head of Homeland Security – a post currently occupied by Jeh Johnson.  Forgive me but I’m not instilled with the warm glow of security when those who are supposed to be in charge don’t know where those with whom they may need to coordinate actually work.

If we accept, perhaps with a grain of salt, that Ebola is fortunately a hard virus to transmit from one person to another, that may give us some comfort.  But what is disturbing is the response from those within Federal agencies which seem at best, confused and unprepared.  That is not unlike this administration’s response to a host of other issues which have surfaced in the last six years.

There are threats which nature provides and which man has created.  The two terrorist attacks which have occurred in Canada, I use the term terrorists because Canada’s PM has done so being unafraid to call it as he sees it, are truly disturbing, especially in this context.  We have seen recent purported uses of mustard gas in Syria.  After 9/11 we had a mini crisis as we worried about the dissemination of anthrax.  And terrorists in Japan have used sarin gas to advance their agendas.

In view of the savage brutality of the Islamic extremists (terrorists), it is not beyond the realm of possibility to believe that if they view their mission as destroying the infidel by any means possible they would eagerly resort to the dissemination of chemical weapons within major U. S. or other western population centers without regard to the niceties of international conventions to the contrary.

I hope that our officials are correct and that any outbreak of Ebola in the U. S. will be limited in nature and that we may assist in eradicating it in west Africa.  But based on the response we’ve seen to date, to put all one’s faith in that outcome might cause a trained medical professional to question the state of our mental health.

DODGE BALL, THE LIBERAL LEFT AND TERRORISM

When I was in grammar school, all of us engaged in a weekly game of dodge ball.  Students from four grades were sided up, the “A” homeroom students on one side and the “B” homeroom students on the other.  The balls were divided evenly between both sides and we scrambled to pick up this ammunition, intent on destroying our enemy students.  This gave me an early insight into my own and my fellow students’ different personalities.

Generally, the older kids, oblivious of the pelting they were likely to encounter, ran to the demarcation line dividing the two sides, poised to hoist and hurl their soft rubber missiles at their opponents.  Naturally, many of these were felled by their opponents’ projectiles and were retired from the game.  Others who were perhaps more prudent, hung back from the front line of the playing field, more intent on avoiding the balls flung at them than demolishing the enemy until the numbers on both sides had been culled down to a more manageable size.

In a typical game I found myself sidelined fairly early on.  In part this was due to the large, heavy prescription glasses that I wore from an early age that limited my peripheral vision, resulting in my taking more than my fair share of balls to the head and other body parts.  But perhaps the more important factor in my less than stellar performance was my own view of my abilities.  I knew that I didn’t throw as well as other kids and I didn’t have a vision of being the superstar who carried my side through to victory.

One day, through a matter of chance and a little bit of artful dodging, I was the last kid on my side still standing – versus three older kids on the other side.  My classmates, knowing my less than stellar athletic skills, still cheered me on enthusiastically.  All of a sudden my adrenaline started flowing.  I had to hold up the honor of all of us “A” homeroom kids.  I put out of my mind the fact that I was outnumbered by three to one and these kids were all better throwers than I.  The only assets I had going for me were agility and desire.

One kid came to the line and fired one of the small, fast balls at me.  Remarkably, I caught it – much to both our surprise and the cheers of my classmates.  I hurled it right back and it struck one of the two remaining contenders in the foot.  More cheers from the sideline.  Then it was one on one.

After an exchange of mis-fired balls my nemesis on the other side of the chalk threw one of the larger balls.  For a moment I debated whether I should try to grab or evade it.  I finally thought I could catch it – and I did.  We had won – and my classmates cheered me with tremendous enthusiasm (and I suspect a modicum of disbelief).  I felt a tremendous glow, knowing what it was to win.

America once had this “can do” spirit of winning.  That’s what brought millions of immigrants to the country.  Nowhere else in the world was it possible for a humble person to make the best possible life for him or herself and his kids.  Being the best was the goal.  It was not an embarrassment.  And we won consistently and that had benefits not only for Americans but billions around the world because Americans are a charitable people.

It always amazes me when I hear the envy, inherent in the philosophy of the liberal left that, “So and so has too much money.  We should take most of that and redistribute it to those who barely have enough food to eat.”  While helping out the poor is certainly a moral thing in which to engage, what the left either fails to realize or chooses to ignore is that once that one time distribution is made, the poor person will continue to engage in the behaviors that made him poor and the formerly wealthy person will continue to engage in the behaviors that will enable him to amass a second fortune.

The underlying premise of left wing American politics is that America is an evil-doer, without the moral compass to participate in world affairs since they believe that it is American past policy which has misshapen our globe into the turbulent place it is.  If we were to ask them to name a country that has done more to help out humanity through charitable giving or selfless military service where and when it has been needed, they will either be silent or they will change the focus of the conversation.  That is because there is no answer to that question by virtually any measure.

While the real motivation for initiating the war in Iraq may be debatable, there is no question that Saddam Hussein was a violent, ruthless and genocidal dictator.  That in itself would present sufficient reason for ridding his people of him.  Estimates are that between 250,000 and 500,000 died at his hands.  Is that not a sufficient number dead to have removed this scourge from the Earth?

We ignored Hussein and his murders for years.  Whether he possessed WMD’s or not, the slaughter of one half million of his own countrymen should stir even the most pacifistic person to action.  And after a hard fought war, Hussein was eliminated and Iraq was brought to what, by Middleastern standards, was a level of balance and tranquility.  And then we withdrew and the country is once again in chaos with perhaps an even more violent and ruthless force now in control of much of the country.  The previous post had several graphic pictures of the horror they currently are bringing on those whose views differ from theirs.

In defense of what can only be generously termed a “policy,” President Obama said in a New York Times interview yesterday that “The responsibility for Iraq falls on the shoulders of the Iraqi government – not the United States.  And if we had left a force of 10,000 troops there it would have made no difference in ISIS’ ascendancy to power.”  The first part of the statement, that Iraqis should determine their own fate has some fair amount of validity to it.  The second part, that leaving troops there would have had no impact on future developments is purely speculative and, in my belief, likely untrue.  Having a U. S. military presence there might have at the least shown that we hadn’t abandoned the country and left it totally in the hands of what has proven to be an inefficient and inept government.

Part of the left’s justification for withdrawing from Iraq and soon Afghanistan is that the American people are war weary.  Poll after poll shows that is the case.  But that is a reflection and expression of politics not policy.  If we were to use that metric, there would have been a bipartisan law passed repealing Obamacare since the majority of Americans in poll after poll oppose the law.  If liberal Americans want to use polling as the basis for policy decisions they should, at least, be consistent.

Now, in a limited way, we’re back in Iraq.  We’re finally supplying some armaments to our longest standing allies, the Kurds and humanitarian relief to the Yazidis and other minority groups that are being butchered by the ISIS savages.  Even as we embark on this, we have shown our hand by describing our present and future involvement as being “limited.”  It’s fairly clear that if anyone in this administration has ever paid poker, they have not done well in that venture.  There is no difference in the way in which the Obama administration pursues American relations with other countries than an NFL coach who shares his playbook with the opposing team.

Because of our natural resources, not the least of which is our people’s ability to perceive that evil, where it existed, could not be tolerated and had to be combatted, America has been the perhaps unwilling caretaker for the world at least since the end of WW II.  As a result of a philosophy that ignores that fact, this administration has led an exodus of retreat – and the results are what we see before us today on the world’s stage.  It is not a pretty picture and belies Obama’s recent statement that, “The world has never been a safer place.”

When I found myself the lone survivor in our dodge ball game I realized that I was outnumbered and had poorer skills than my opponents.  But sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.  America faces no such similar deficiency.  We are still the world’s strongest power militarily and, despite the decline in our standards of morality, know the difference between what is right and what is wrong.  Hopefully, we will do the right thing even at the cost of personal sacrifice.

It’s time that the administration stood up, moved to the demarcation line, looked the army of terror in the face and said, “Enough.  You will go no further.”  We’ll see if our future actions are determined by partisan politics or intelligent policy.

GREEN ENERGY AND THE ATTROCITY IN UKRAINE

Yesterday President Obama took a break from fund raising (although he will resume his schedule for that purpose later in the week) to offer a statement on the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 over the Ukraine and wag his finger at those who are impeding the effort to provide the 298 victims and their families the dignity of closure.  The “speech” seemed perfunctory, devoid of either passion or real outrage which we all should feel about this act of terrorism. Of course, there wasn’t much outrage when President Putin acquired Crimea.

The president of the United States has not been alone in providing a muted response to what most believe was a tragedy that either was directly attributable to Vladimir Putin or at the least one in which he was a willing partner.  The leaders of Europe have been similarly silent.  It took a former head of state, Tony Blair of the UK to make a statement which accurately reflects the outrage that we all should feel.

It is neither surprising nor difficult to understand why Obama generally avoided facing the issue head on.  That is clearly his method of “non-operation.”  If he doesn’t acknowledge something he must believe either that it doesn’t exist, it’s someone else’s problem to deal with or it simply will go away.  If he doesn’t give much of a hoot about how black children are being murdered regularly in his home town of Chicago, why worry about a few hundred Europeans who were blown out of the sky somewhere in Europe?  But why the silence in Europe?  The simple answer is energy – and much of the European Union’s dependence on gas which flows abundantly from Russia and through Ukraine.

The Maastricht Treaty was signed by the members of the European Union in 1992.  The goal was to reduce dependency on carbon based fuels and to replace them with “green” fuels, purportedly to the benefit of the world’s ecology.  In the twenty-two years since its enactment, some progress has been made by the EU members to replace oil and gas with alternate fuel sources as the following chart shows:

 

The information contained in this chart is for the year ending in 2012.  The total estimated population of EU countries for that same period was approximately 505,000,000 – and the four largest countries by population, Germany, France, UK and Italy housed more than fifty-five percent of those people.  The four countries which achieved the best records of finding alternative sources of energy, Sweden, Latvia, Finland and Austria had approximately 26 million residents, representing a little more than five percent of the total population of EU countries.

Not surprisingly, the four most populated EU countries had average or below average rates of replacing carbon based fuels with alternate energy sources – suggesting that while developing renewable clean energy may be an admirable goal, this technology is still in its infancy and is unable to provide a sufficient replacement for our traditional fuels to large numbers of people.  That lesson is clearly lost on President Obama – but it is abundantly clear to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and the leaders of other countries which are dependent on petroleum products from Russia.  It’s difficult to negotiate with the loan shark who is holding your family hostage, threatening them with death, if you fail to make a payment.

In some respect, the seizure of Crimea and the murders of 298 plane passengers is partly the fault of the Obama administration’s focus on green energy – whatever the price in terms of increased energy costs to be passed along to consumers, the loss of jobs in the coal industry, the failure to enable the creation of new jobs with the Keystone Pipeline, the refusal to permit LNG processing plants by the EPA which could provide at least some replacement for Soviet fuels that could be shipped to Europe to reduce that continent’s dependence on Russian energy – well, the list goes on.

The president’s recent photo-op (which he has publicly said he hates doing) eating at a local restaurant, somehow brings an image of Wimpy to mind.

wimpy

 

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” —Proverbs 29:18

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