Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bob Smizik: Bad Sports When Boys Play Against Girls

Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This startling piece of news was revealed in these very pages last week: In Pennsylvania high schools, boys are eligible to participate in any girls' sport they choose.

It previously had been believed boys could participate in girls' sports only when that particular sport was not offered to boys at their school.

Not so. The doors are wide open for macho young men who wish to test their athletic prowess against girls.

There might be any number of boys out there who feel the need to compete against opponents that, generally speaking, are smaller, slower and weaker than them. There also might be some boys -- teens being what they are -- who just might think it's a kick to go out en masse and perhaps take over a girls' team.

It's perfectly legal. And perfectly ridiculous.

Five years ago I witnessed such an athletic event. The Woodland Hills girls' field hockey team used four boys in a game against Fox Chapel. Woodland Hills did not have a boys' field hockey team. Two of Woodland Hills' boys -- actually, they were young men -- looked more like they belonged on the football team.

It was disgusting sight, and I'm not talking about the boys competing in kilts. I'm talking about the coach of the Woodland Hills team allowing this to happen. I'm talking about the principal of Woodland Hills not heading this off before it became an issue. I'm talking about the PIAA and WPIAL sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring the issue because of the specter of a costly and possibly losing court battle.

These are the people who are supposed to be watching out for our children. If they are allowing boys to compete against girls and merely shaking their head in dismay, they're not doing their job.

Girls should not have to compete against boys. It is the epitome of unfairness and goes against everything athletic competition stands for.

Of course, there will be yahoos out there insisting if girls can play on boys' teams, then boys have a right to play on girls' teams. That's not even apples and oranges; that's apples and meatloaf.

Does this make sense?

If freshmen are eligible to play on the varsity -- and they are -- should seniors be eligible to play on the freshman team?

Of course, they shouldn't. Seniors would have an unfair advantage in any number of areas over freshmen. Just as boys have any number of advantages -- speed, size, strength -- over girls.
Girls who are athletic enough to compete on a boys' team should be congratulated, much the same as a freshman who can make the varsity. Boys who compete on girls' teams should be condemned, much the same as a senior wishing to compete against freshmen.

High schools should do everything possible to discourage boys from competing against girls and that means taking the issue to court if necessary.

That's what the Ann Arbor, Mich., school district is doing. It's a school district that puts fairness and safety in front of political correctness.

Maxime Goovaerts is 13. He's 5-foot, about 100 pounds and a native of Belgium. He wanted to go out for his middle school girls' field hockey team. The school district said no. When the Goovaerts family threatened a lawsuit, the Ann Arbor School District didn't back down. The matter went to court last week.

George Fornero, the superintendent of the Ann Arbor schools, said: "We're pretty strong in our position that this is a girls' sport. We don't want to get in a situation where we take up slots with boys for girls' teams or the boys physically dominate the girls out there."
This is an administrator with a backbone.

Too bad two Western Pennsylvania school districts didn't have similar gumption.

Pietro Pezzella, a 5-8, 140-pound senior, is a member of the New Brighton girls' volleyball team. Josh King, a 6-5, 175-pound senior, is a member of the Southmoreland girls' volleyball team.
Both of these school districts abdicated their responsibility. Sure, there's no boys' volleyball teams at those schools. So what. Let these aspiring athletes try another sport if the competitive urge is so great in them.

They should not be allowed to compete against girls. This isn't just a fairness issue. It's a safety issue.

In 1999, a Fox Chapel player was sent to the hospital twice in boy-involved injuries with Woodland Hills, which, by the way, has boys on its field hockey team again this season.
No one wants to take on this issue. The schools defer to the WPIAL. The WPIAL defers to the PIAA. The PIAA looks to the courts and doesn't want the expense of a lawsuit.

One of the most positive things happening in athletics in the past 30 years is the way girls and women have been given a chance to compete, just as men have for decades before that. Bully boys and weak-kneed educators should not be allowed to undo this remarkable achievement.

(Bob Smizik can be reached at

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mike S. Adams: Primer on Firearms Basics

Getting into the world of firearms
Mike S. Adams (archive)
September 27, 2005

Thanks for your following letter, Matt, which I received this afternoon:
Do you think at some point you could write a column on some of the basics of getting into the world of firearms? Specifically, I'm looking for tips on acquiring weapons for home defense and hunting. While I'm not a survivalist weirdo, I have no intention of waiting for any level of government to ride to the rescue, should bad times come along.

Since I have been hit with numerous requests (mostly post-Katrina) from people looking for that first firearm, I am pleased to respond with a column on the topic. Since you used the word “weapons” (plural) and spoke of “getting into the world of firearms” (again plural) I have a number of recommendations for you. And here they are:

Marlin .22 Magnum, Model 25 MN. We are going to start you off with an inexpensive gun you can easily pick up at WalMart. I bought my Model 25 five years ago for just $150, although they cost about $170 now. Take your new .22 magnum out to the country and fire a few shots at a paper plate taped on the side of a tree stump. Start out at 25 yards. When you get confident, you can put an inexpensive Simmons scope on it for those 50-yard raccoon shots. I have a big back yard and, for me, a part of home defense is getting rid of those raccoons that tear up everything in sight. Your varmint problems will soon be a thing of the past with this little bolt action rifle. It will also teach you patience and shot discipline better than a .22 semi-automatic. Remember, Matt, every shot counts so don’t waste ammo. In fact, make sure that you always buy more than you just shot after a day at the range. Some people call that stockpiling. I call it an investment in your future.

Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum, Model 686. I usually recommend a four-inch barrel but I want you to get a six-inch stainless model. This will help you in the realm of hunting and self-defense. For example, a 145-grain Winchester silver tip will stop that coyote you run into while deer hunting. It will also help stop any intruder (it will even stop his pit bull, for that matter). Keep this gun under your bed and loaded at all times.
Also, this is a great revolver for your wife (assuming you are married, which is another choice I recommend) to get used to shooting. Put some light 110-grain .38 Special rounds in it and see how she likes it. With a big six-inch barrel, it will be easy to handle with hardly any recoil.

Benelli Nova 12-gauge. I have a couple of Remington 870 pump shotguns. But, recently, I bought a 24-inch barrel Nova with Advantage Timber camouflage. I will use mine – a super magnum that takes 3 ½-inch loads – to hunt a turkey this Thanksgiving. You can use yours for varmint hunting, quail hunting, and a number of other purposes with the right 2 3/4 –inch load. Some light buckshot will also make this a good home defense weapon, provided you are in an open space (the barrel is a little long for this particular function).

Stoeger Double-barreled 20-gauge Supreme Coach Gun. If you really want your wife to get into this (to make it a family affair), she needs her own shotgun. I recommend the nickel-plated version because it’s so darned pretty. Let her keep it under her side of the bed and, please, stay on her good side. For more details, see this link:

Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle. A lot of people who saw what recently happened in New Orleans have concluded that every man needs an assault rifle. I came to that conclusion years ago. Go to WalMart and get this nice .223 semi-automatic for around $500 (I got mine when they were $375). Then get a scope (the rings are included with this model). I would also recommend several 30-round magazines by Thurmold. I have fired hundreds of rounds through mine without a single jam – even when firing as rapidly as possible. You might also want a flash suppressor, which will keep the muzzle low while you fire away. This is a fun gun that helps explain why I never picked up golf.

Browning A-bolt .270. And, of course, you will need a long-range bolt action rifle when you start bagging deer. My 30.06 Browning A-Bolt Medallion is probably my favorite weapon. Deer, black bear, and boar like it much less. I recommend the .270 to the novice because it has less recoil and will still get the job done. Winchester Power Point rounds (130-grain bullets) are very cheap and more than adequate. Mail me later for venison recipes.

Ruger Super Redhawk .454 Casull. I have no business recommending this gun to you, Matt. Nonetheless, buy it anyway. This gun takes Colt 45 rounds that are great for home defense. When, somewhere down the road, you feel like handling a very powerful handgun, this will provide some great entertainment with the .454 Casull rounds. Get the model with the 9 ½-inch barrel and kill a wild boar. Then kill a black bear. Then put a scope on it (the scope rings are included) and kill a deer at 100 yards. After you are done with your assignments, call me and let me know whether I have given you good advice.
Thanks for writing, Matt. And welcome to my world.

©2005 Mike S. Adams

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Christopher Hitchens: Anti-War, My Foot

The phony peaceniks who protested in Washington.
Updated Monday, Sept. 26, 2005, at 11:19 AM PT

Are they really "anti-war"?

Saturday's demonstration in Washington, in favor of immediate withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq, was the product of an opportunistic alliance between two other very disparate "coalitions." Here is how the New York Times (after a front-page and an inside headline, one of them reading "Speaking Up Against War" and one of them reading "Antiwar Rallies Staged in Washington and Other Cities") described the two constituenciess of the event:

The protests were largely sponsored by two groups, the Answer Coalition, which embodies a wide range of progressive political objectives, and United for Peace and Justice, which has a more narrow, antiwar focus.

The name of the reporter on this story was Michael Janofsky. I suppose that it is possible that he has never before come across "International ANSWER," the group run by the "Worker's World" party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the "resistance" in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the g√©nocidaires in Rwanda. Quite a "wide range of progressive political objectives" indeed, if that's the sort of thing you like. However, a dip into any database could have furnished Janofsky with well-researched and well-written articles by David Corn and Marc Cooper—to mention only two radical left journalists—who have exposed "International ANSWER" as a front for (depending on the day of the week) fascism, Stalinism, and jihadism.

The group self-lovingly calling itself "United for Peace and Justice" is by no means "narrow" in its "antiwar focus" but rather represents a very extended alliance between the Old and the New Left, some of it honorable and some of it redolent of the World Youth Congresses that used to bring credulous priests and fellow-traveling hacks together to discuss "peace" in East Berlin or Bucharest. Just to give you an example, from one who knows the sectarian makeup of the Left very well, I can tell you that the Worker's World Party—Ramsey Clark's core outfit—is the product of a split within the Trotskyist movement. These were the ones who felt that the Trotskyist majority, in 1956, was wrong to denounce the Russian invasion of Hungary. The WWP is the direct, lineal product of that depraved rump. If the "United for Peace and Justice" lot want to sink their differences with such riffraff and mount a joint demonstration, then they invite some principled political criticism on their own account. And those who just tag along … well, they just tag along.

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.

Some of the leading figures in this "movement," such as George Galloway and Michael Moore, are obnoxious enough to come right out and say that they support the Baathist-jihadist alliance. Others prefer to declare their sympathy in more surreptitious fashion. The easy way to tell what's going on is this: Just listen until they start to criticize such gangsters even a little, and then wait a few seconds before the speaker says that, bad as these people are, they were invented or created by the United States. That bad, huh? (You might think that such an accusation—these thugs were cloned by the American empire for God's sake—would lead to instant condemnation. But if you thought that, gentle reader, you would be wrong.)
The two preferred metaphors are, depending on the speaker, that the Bin-Ladenists are the fish that swim in the water of Muslim discontent or the mosquitoes that rise from the swamp of Muslim discontent. (Quite often, the same images are used in the same harangue.) The "fish in the water" is an old trope, borrowed from Mao's hoary theory of guerrilla warfare and possessing a certain appeal to comrades who used to pore over the Little Red Book. The mosquitoes are somehow new and hover above the water rather than slip through it. No matter. The toxic nature of the "water" or "swamp" is always the same: American support for Israel.

Thus, the existence of the Taliban regime cannot be swamplike, presumably because mosquitoes are born and not made. The huge swamp that was Saddam's Iraq has only become a swamp since 2003. The organized murder of Muslims by Muslims in Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan is only a logical reaction to the summit of globalizers at Davos. The stoning and veiling of women must be a reaction to Zionism. While the attack on the World Trade Center—well, who needs reminding that chickens, or is it mosquitoes, come home to roost?

There are only two serious attempts at swamp-draining currently under way. In Afghanistan and Iraq, agonizingly difficult efforts are in train to build roads, repair hospitals, hand out ballot papers, frame constitutions, encourage newspapers and satellite dishes, and generally evolve some healthy water in which civil-society fish may swim. But in each case, from within the swamp and across the borders, the most poisonous snakes and roaches are being recruited and paid to wreck the process and plunge people back into the ooze. How nice to have a "peace" movement that is either openly on the side of the vermin, or neutral as between them and the cleanup crew, and how delightful to have a press that refers to this partisanship, or this neutrality, as "progressive."

Related in Slate:

Last month, Christopher Hitchens skewered the anti-war movement's den mother, Cindy Sheenan, for what he called her "sinister piffle," here; he wrote about the consequence of Bush granting her wish here. Is leftist gadfly Michael Moore producing Leni Reifenstahl-caliber propaganda for the anti-war crowd? Read Hitchens' analysis of Moore's "Baathist-jihadist" work, Fahrenheit 911, here. The late Jude Wanniski, Ronald Reagan's supply-side economics guru, wasn't a Trotskyite, but like George Galloway he was an "unreconstructed Saddamophile," according to Timothy Noah. Click here to read why, if conservative bomb-thrower Ann Coulter had her way, this bunch would be on trial for Treason.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent books include Love, Poverty, and War and Thomas Jefferson: Author of America.

Increase in Yellowstone Grizzly Population Spurs Debate

The New York Times
September 26, 2005

BOZEMAN, Mont. - By all accounts the turnaround of the Yellowstone grizzly is an all-too-rare success story of the Endangered Species Act.

After dwindling to 200 or so by the 1970's, the number of the big bears in the mountains and grassy meadows around Yellowstone National Park has grown to more than 600, thanks to the federal protections given to the species in 1975.

"It's the biggest success story under the Endangered Species Act because grizzly bears are one of the toughest species to manage," said Chris Servheen, who has been working on efforts to protect and to re-establish grizzlies in Yellowstone and elsewhere for 25 years and is coordinator for grizzly bear recovery for the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service in Missoula, Mont.

While there is widespread agreement that the story is a good one, however, there is disagreement on the next chapter.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, saying that the mission to bring the bear back has been accomplished, will propose removing the bear from the list of threatened species this fall and, after a comment period, make a final decision in 2006. Delisting has happened for only about 15 species out of the 1,830 on the imperiled list.

But opponents of delisting say the bear is still endangered, primarily because of threats to critical food sources.

Both sides say the science is on their side.

While the federal government says safeguards are in place to reinstate federal protections if the bear population falls, critics are beyond skeptical, many saying they do not trust the Bush administration on conservation issues.

"Quite frankly, they are lying through their teeth about relisting the bear," said Craig Pease, a population biologist who teaches science at the Vermont Law School and has studied the Yellowstone population.

Louisa Willcox, who advocates for bears with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Livingston, Mont., said the administration has been hostile to the Endangered Species Act. "How can we be sure they'll rush in and list the bear if something happens?" Ms. Willcox said.
Whether to recognize the Yellowstone bears as a recovered population is not just an abstract scientific debate. Grizzlies, which occasionally prey on people, are moving out of the park's mountain wilderness and federal forest refuges and into areas with growing human populations. Removing protections would allow the bears to be hunted.

Since the late 1960's, there have been 17 fatalities involving bears and many more attacks in Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, home to the only other large population of the bears in the lower 48 states. In mid-September an elk hunter was attacked and wounded by a grizzly in the wilderness near Cody, Wyo.

"As bear numbers increase they are getting into places they haven't been seen in 50 or 100 years," Dr. Servheen said.

One place where the bears are showing up is at the two-room Valley School, on the South Fork of the Shoshone River southeast of Yellowstone. Recently, a grizzly bear charged a couple of fishermen and followed them to their vehicle near the school, then scared a fencing crew into their truck.

Audra Morrow, the teacher for the four students at Valley School, recalls cooking dinner in her log cabin next to the school when she looked out her kitchen window and saw a grizzly sow with two cubs headed her direction. "I was face to face with Momma," Ms. Morrow said. "I was cooking a veggie burger. I'm convinced that's why she left." She now keeps a loaded shotgun and cans of pepper spray within reach, and local parents erected a fence around the school's playground.

While people who live along the South Fork of the Shoshone are used to a wild way of life, many say the bear population is too big and support removing the bears' protection. Ms. Willcox believes hunting will not solve the problem. "It's the nature of that ground," she says. "Bears move through there. If you remove a bear another bear will replace it."

Along with Old Faithful, bears were once the heart of a visit to Yellowstone Park. Both black bears and grizzly bears were allowed to wander the roads and to beg for handouts or be watched by delighted tourists as they scavenged in dumps. In 1967, two backpackers were attacked and killed by grizzly bears in separate incidents on the same night in Glacier National Park.

Biologists believed the bears attacked because they had lost their fear of humans, and officials in both parks ended the "Yogi Bear period," forcing bears to return to an all-wild diet. Bears who pursued human food were shot, and from 1969 until 1971 more than 220 grizzlies were killed in Yellowstone. By the early 1970's, the number of bears had plummeted to fewer than 200.

In the 1980's biologists began an aggressive campaign to bring the bear back. Helped by environmental groups, rewards were offered for poachers, sheep were moved out of bear country, garbage cans were replaced with bearproof versions and campers were given rules on keeping food away from bears.

The grizzly bear population is the healthiest it has been in 30 years, and biologists say it is growing 4 percent to 7 percent a year.

"Does that mean you turn your back and walk away?" said Chuck Schwartz, who personally supports delisting and heads the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team in Bozeman, a collection of biologists and other scientists from state and federal agencies who oversee greater Yellowstone. "Absolutely not. It's an animal that requires a high degree of vigilance."

Critics say that in the push to delist, federal agencies have painted an overly rosy picture and that the numbers are suspect. Dr. Pease of the Vermont Law School thinks the reproductive rate is much less than what is claimed. But, he says, the interagency team has refused to release some of its research for other scientists to analyze. "There's every reason to mistrust them," he said.

A critical element in the Yellowstone grizzlies' future is that they are an island population, a remnant of a much larger one that once extended from the Pacific Ocean to the Midwest. While bears in Glacier are connected to much larger Canadian populations, bears in the Yellowstone area are, in terms of numbers and genetics, on their own. A disease could decimate the population.

The plan designates a 9,200-square-mile primary conservation area, more than a third of which is Yellowstone. The conservation area contains 90 percent of the bear population and would continue many of the same restrictions on livestock grazing, roads and other development that are currently in place. "The average bear won't see any difference" after delisting, Dr. Servheen said.

If bear numbers decline below a certain level or other threats emerge, Dr. Servheen said, there are plans to relist the bear in as little as two weeks.

The sooner bears are delisted, said Marcos Gonzalez, a ranch foreman at the Brown Thomas Meadows Ranch near the Valley School, the better. Mr. Gonzalez is worried about bears near the school that his 7-year-old daughter, Alejandra, attends. "You used to see them once in a while," he said. "Now it's everywhere, all the time."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Monday, September 26, 2005

John Fund: Louisiana- A Swamp of Corruption

In Katrina's wake, Louisiana's political culture needs a cleanup too.

The Wall Street Journal
Monday, September 26, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

Perhaps no footage from Hurricane Katrina was replayed more often than the "Meet the Press" clip of Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, La., telling Tim Russert that bureaucrats had "committed murder" in the storm's aftermath. He sobbed as he told about a colleague's mother drowning in her nursing home after begging her son on the phone for four days to save her from the rising waters. Talk show host Don Imus said he had never seen such gripping testimony on TV in his life.

But later found the story didn't hold up. Eva Rodrigue, the 92-year-old mother of Thomas Rodrique, the parish's emergency services director, did drown--but not because federal or state officials failed to rescue her. Mr. Rodrique said his mother died the day of the hurricane because the nursing home's owners ignored commands to evacuate. The owners are now under indictment for negligent homicide. Mr. Rodrique says his mother never spoke with him, and he can't explain why his boss, Mr. Broussard, got it so wrong.

Mr. Broussard returned to "Meet the Press" yesterday to punch back at critics of his obviously embellished statement. "What kind of sick mind, what kind of black-hearted people want to nitpick a man's mother's death?" he roared. When Mr. Russert continued to point out the discrepancies in his account, Mr. Broussard told him "Man, get out of my face" and then said the bureaucrats and officials who failed his region "should be strung up. Those people should be burned at the stake."


No state turns out better demagogues than Louisiana--the state that Huey Long ruled with an near-fascistic fist and that inspired the new Sean Penn version of "All the King's Men" that hits movie theaters this November. While the Bush administration and Congress aren't in danger of being fried as witches, they better figure out that they and the taxpayers are about to be fleeced like sheep as they ship south $62 billion in emergency aid with few controls or safeguards.
More will be coming. Last week, Louisiana's two senators didn't even blink when they asked the feds for an ultimate total of $250 billion in assistance just for their state. "We recognize that it's a very high number," Sen. Mary Landrieu admitted. "But this is an unprecedented national tragedy and needs an unprecedented national response."

Even if the total ends up far short of that figure, the opportunity for fraud and waste will be unprecedented. "We're getting a lot of calls" on emergency aid abuses, reports Gen. Richard Skinner, the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. Last week, police officers found a treasure trove of food, drinks, chainsaws and roof tarps in the home of Cedric Floyd, chief administrative officer for the Jefferson Parish suburb of Kenner. Mr. Floyd is one of several city workers who will likely be charged with pilfering.

Despite assurances from President Bush, "the government is fighting this war [on waste] with Civil War weapons, and we're just overwhelmed," Joshua Schwartz, co-director of the George Washington University Law School's procurement law program, told Knight Ridder. Democrats are already scoring political points. Rep. David Obey, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, is lamenting the lack of accountability in the aid package. He is calling for "the beginning of some new thinking" on how to handle disaster relief.

Put bluntly, the local political cultures don't engender confidence that aid won't be diverted from the people who truly need and deserve it. While the feds can try to ride herd on the money, here's hoping folks in the region take the opportunity to finally demand their own political housecleaning. Change is past due. Last year, Lou Riegel, the agent in charge of the FBI's New Orleans office, described Louisiana's public corruption as "epidemic, endemic, and entrenched. No branch of government is exempt."

Louisiana ranks third in the nation in the number of elected officials per capita convicted of crimes (Mississippi takes top prize). In just the past generation, the Pelican State has had a governor, an attorney general, three successive insurance commissioners, a congressman, a federal judge, a state Senate president and a swarm of local officials convicted. Last year, three top officials at Louisiana's Office of Emergency Preparedness were indicted on charges they obstructed a probe into how federal money bought out flood-prone homes. Last March the Federal Emergency Management Agency ordered Louisiana to repay $30 million in flood-control grants it had awarded to 23 parishes.

Much of the region has long had a relaxed attitude towards corruption. ABC's Cokie Roberts, whose parents, Hale and Lindy Boggs, both represented New Orleans in Congress, was only half-joking when her first suggestion for speeding reconstruction was releasing convicted former governor Edwin Edwards from prison because he "knows how to get things done."

But there is room for optimism. "The hurricane was so big and traumatic it could jolt the relaxed political culture," says Ron Faucheux, a Democratic former state legislator from New Orleans. He also notes that 2007 will inject new blood into Louisiana's Legislature when term limits kick in for the first time and force almost half its old-boy members to step down.


As for New Orleans, no city in America would better serve its most vulnerable residents with a clean sweep of its institutions. Just this summer, associates of former mayor Marc Morial were indicted for alleged kickbacks involving public contracts. Last month the FBI raided the home and car of Rep. William Jefferson as part of a probe into allegations he had misused his office.
It is the city's dysfunctional police force that needs immediate attention. Lt. Gen. Steven Baum, chief of the Pentagon's National Guard bureau, lamented the poststorm "disintegration" of the force. City residents have long endured men in blue who not only fail to fight crime but sometimes engage in it, with more than 50 officers going to prison in the past dozen years, two of them to death row. When one police district was caught altering its data, Chief Eddie Compass said, "I don't need an outside agency coming in. I think we have proven that we are capable of taking care of our own house."

Indeed, many local officials are quick to attack any outsiders who question the local way of doing things. Sen. Landrieu is especially sensitive since politics is her family's business. Her father was mayor of New Orleans, her aunt sits on the city's school board, and her brother is the state's lieutenant governor. She did a passable imitation of the overwrought Aaron Brossard when she told ABC News that if President Bush utters any criticism of how local officials responded to the disaster "I might have to punch him--literally."

But some questions must be asked before city residents decide whether to return. "We can't go back to the way we've done things," says former congressman Bob Livingston, a Republican. He notes that the Orleans Parish Levee Board allowed money to be diverted from levees into many other projects. Those included a local casino, a convention center and a Mardi Gras fountain. "We were trying to be good neighbors," former board member Jim Livingston (no relation to Bob) explained to me.

Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who grew up in New Orleans, says the area must leave behind an economy and political culture that belongs to the last century. He notes that Houston has become the South's energy capital, Atlanta its commercial capital and Charlotte its financial center. "Katrina provides a chance to give up populism and embrace reform," he says. The area has given the country so much--in music, in cuisine, in style. But it has also bred a fatalistic attitude which has left too many people with little belief that things can be better. As William Faulkner put it, people too often endure rather than hope.


The massive federal aid now flowing to the region should give victims of Katrina and Rita some hope--along with the knowledge the country has embraced them. It is up to them to seize the opportunity and make a fresh start. If that means abandoning some of the comfortable practices of the past and electing fewer demagogues, the next generation will appreciate that Katrina's survivors chose not just to rebuild their homes but to begin "some new thinking."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Nancy Kobrin Reviews ''The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam'

What You Can't Say About Islam
By Nancy Kobrin
September 23, 2005

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)
By Robert Spencer
Regnery Publishing, Inc.: Washington D.C. 2005

To order a copy, click here.

Recently, I was invited to teach 300 law enforcement officers about Islam, radical Islam and Islamist terrorists. It was an honor and a privilege, but it was also difficult work: It is no small task making sure that these officers, really our first line of defense in the war on terrorism, fully understand both the history of Islam and the motivations of those who are willing to murder in its name.

But it is especially challenging for the officers. Beyond being able to distinguish moderate Islam from more extremist strains, they must be on good terms with the local Muslim community in order for its members to trust them with sensitive information, which, at times, must be turned into actionable intelligence. They are not afforded the luxury of time. The question before them is no longer if Islamic suicide attacks will occur but when and where.

Equally as important, they must understand why. Why do terrorists lash out in the name of Islam? To explain this to my officer students, I attempted to demystify the somewhat exotic light in which Islam is too commonly held. I recounted the history of Islam, pointing out that the five Pillars of Islam have their equivalents in Judaism because the prophet Muhammad had borrowed extensively from the Jews with the hope that they would convert. When that didn’t happen, I noted, he turned to jihad. Still, despite my reliance on everything from PowerPoint presentations to video clips, I struggled to come up with more vivid images that might shed light on why this supposedly peace-loving religion drives some of its adherents to commit acts of mass murder.

If only I had Robert Spencer’s new work, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and The Crusades), my teaching would have gone much more smoothly.

Spencer, the director of Jihad Watch, an invaluable web site that daily informs readers of Islam’s global jihad, cuts right to the chase in this absorbing antidote to the received wisdom about Islam. He turns his attention to the most problematic nature of Islam: its ideologies of warring. In this context, Spencer discusses not just the more gruesomely familiar form of jihad, suicide attacks, but also jihad in the form of Islamic proselytizing, da’wa, in which prisoners are pressured to revert to Islam. (It is “revert” instead of convert because Islam holds that we were all born Muslim, except that our parents lost the correct path, the sabil, and raised us incorrectly.) Spencer also examines Islam’s hostility to women, as well as its historical denigration of religious and ethnic minorities living under Islamic rule, Ahl al-Dhimma.

Spencer repeatedly demonstrates that jihad is part and parcel of the fabric of Islam; it is ingrained in the very ideologies of the holy text, the Qur’an. Spencer minces no words. Two of his chapters are aptly subtitled “Religion of War” and “Religion of Intolerance.” He also takes remarkably precise aim at the politically correct myths that preclude an honest discussion about Islam.

Chances are, you’ve heard them all: “The Qur’an teaches believers to take up arms only in self-defense;” “The Qur’an and the bible are equally violent;” “Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists;” “Islam was once the foundation of a great cultural and scientific flowering;” “Christianity and Islam spread in pretty much the same way;” “The Crusades were an unprovoked attack by Europe against the Islamic world;” “The Crusades were fought to convert Muslims to Christianity by force;” “The Crusades were called against Jews in addition to Muslims;” “The Crusades were bloodier than the Islamic jihads;” and “The Crusades accomplished nothing.”

Against such feel-good bromides, Spencer quotes Ibn Warraq, a Muslim apostate and author who wrote that while there are moderate Muslims, Islam itself is not moderate. Most people are in denial when it comes to this candid observation. As for the misunderstood Crusades, Spencer sets the record straight: the Crusades were waged as a defense against the relentless onslaught of Islamic jihad. My favorite PC myth—concerning the supposedly Great Golden Age of Islamic Spain—is convincingly laid to rest by Spencer.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam is replete with useful, and user-friendly informational boxes. One such box traces current jihadist behavior back to the life and times of Muhammad, thereby proving the degree to which Islam is influenced by the warlord mentality of the prophet. Another box contrasts Muhammad’s bellicosity with the peaceful message of Jesus: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44), while Muhammad’s ideology is one of power: “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know.” (Qur’an 8:60) Not exactly the pacifist portrayed by conventional wisdom.

Another valuable feature of the book is the list of bullet points that accompanies each chapter. Titled “Guess what?” it presents some uncomfortable truths about the Islam. For instance, turn to Chapter 6, “Islamic Law: Lie, Steal, and Kill,” and you discover the following: Islam’s only overarching moral principle is “if it is good for Islam, it’s right.” Spencer does not flinch from pointing out that “Islam allows for lying, as well as stealing and killing in certain circumstances,” and that “This leads to large-scale deception campaigns today.” You won’t hear that from the peddlers of political correctness.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Spencer’s book is its timeliness. Islam is widely acknowledged to be the world’s fastest growing religion, but few know just how fast. In fact, Islam is estimated to have reached 1.5 billion adherents thereby surpassing Christianity’s 1.2 billion faithful and dwarfing Judaism’s world-wide population at a mere 13-15 million. Leading counter-terrorist expert, R. Paz, who heads Prism, (The Project for the Research of Islamist Movements,, recently told the Christian Science Monitor that while most Muslims are in the moderate camp, "If we're talking about percentages, maybe the supporters of global jihad are only 1 percent of the Muslim world.'' That means, then, that there are about 15 million would-be Muslim terrorists.

In other words, the need to understand Islam will only grow more urgent. Spencer has done a remarkable job lifting the veil on its tenets. Previously, the failure to counter the specious arguments of Islam’s politically correct defenders may have been understandable. Similarly, many could be forgiven for doubting whether Islam could really show so little capacity for seeking middle ground. Now, with the publication of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), they no longer have an excuse.

To order a copy of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), click here.

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Nancy Kobrin is an affiliated professor to the University of Haifa, Arabist, psychoanalyst and author of the upcoming book, The Sheikh's New Clothes: Islamic Suicide Terror and What It's Really All About.

Mark Steyn: Politicians Not Giving Us Much of a Choice

September 25, 2005

American politics seems to have dwindled down to a choice between a big government party and a big permanently-out-of-government party. The Senate Democrats had two months to cook up a reason to vote against John Roberts and the best California's Dianne Feinstein could manage come the big day was that she'd wanted to hear him "talking to me as a son, a husband and a father." In that case, get off the judiciary committee and go audition for ''Return To Bridges of Madison County,'' or ''What Women Want 2'' ("Mel Gibson is nominated to the Supreme Court but, despite being sensitive and a good listener, is accused of being a conservative theocrat").

That slab of meaningless emotive exhibitionism would make a good epitaph for the Democratic Party. The reality of life as a bigshot Dem is that what John Roberts is like "as a father" is less important than what George Soros is like as a sugar daddy. The more money shoveled at the party by, Hollywood, NOW and other unrepresentative fringes, the less it's able to see over the big pile of green to the electorate beyond. A party as thoroughly Sorosized as the Democrats is perforce downsized.

To be sure, they have many institutional advantages: If you watch the TV news, you'd still think Cindy Sheehan was an emblematic bereaved army mom, rather than a pitiful crackpot calling for Bush to pull his troops out of "occupied New Orleans." Her Million-Moan March washed up in Washington on Thursday to besiege the White House. As the Associated Press put it, "Sheehan, Supporters Descend On The Capital." There were 29 supporters. Can two-and-a-half dozen people "descend" on any capital city bigger than the South Sandwich Islands'? Surely her media boosters were cringing with embarrassment at their own impotence. Since its star columnist Maureen Dowd got the hots for Mrs. Sheehan's "moral authority," the New York Times has run some 70 stories on Cindy -- and every story they ran attracted another 0.4142857 of a supporter to her march on the capital.

Nonetheless, Hillary Rodham Clinton has yielded to "pressure" from all those 0.41428s and agreed to meet with Mrs. Sheehan to "explain" her vote for the Iraq war. The dwindling stars of today's Democratic Party expend most of their energy jumping through the ever smaller hoops of an ever kookier fringe.

These days one party raises a ton of money from George Soros and the other raises a ton of money from you. George Bush has committed to spending $200 billion on Gulf Coast "hurricane relief." The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore put the figure in perspective: There are supposedly half-a-million families displaced by Katrina. For $200 billion, you could give every family 400,000 bucks, and they could build their own beachfront home virtually anywhere in America except next door to Barbra Streisand's pad.

For 400 grand, they could all move into the Plaza Hotel -- with a view of Central Park, not the cheap rooms looking out on 58th -- and live off the 30-dollar Snickers from the mini-bar. Oh, sure, some might blow the $400,000 on beer and strippers, as several hurricane "victims" have already done with their complimentary Fedit-credit cards at the Baby Dolls Club in Houston. "You lost your whole house," said Abby, one of the eponymous dolls, "you might want some beer in a strip club."

But even Abby, skilled as she no doubt is, would have a hard job taking as much off as the "public servants" of Louisiana will once that $200 billion starts sluicing through the sewers of its kleptocrat bureaucracy. Even taking the gloomiest view of human nature's partiality to beer in a strip club, giving every displaced Gulf Coast family an instant 401(k) with an instant 400k would be unlikely to be as economically wasteful as a 200 bil government program -- unless, that is, it's going straight to the Army Corps of Engineers to build the world's highest seawall out of unused Sacagawea dollar coins.

Big-time Republicans tell me Bush's profligacy is doing a great job of neutralizing the Dem advantage in the spending-is-caring stakes. This may have been true initially -- in the same sense as undercover cops neutralize a massive heroin-smuggling operation by infiltrating it. But, if they're still running the heroin operation five years later, it looks less like neutralization and more like a change of management.

Savvier GOP types say, ah, well, Bush is the war president, his priority's the war, and he doesn't want a lot of domestic nickel-and-diming to distract from his prosecution of it. I like that argument even less. One lesson of Sept. 11 is that a government that tries to do everything is likely to do most of it badly. You could make the case that the government simply doesn't have the resources even to read the immigration applications of young single men from hotbeds of terrorism -- but not if that same government apparently has no problem finding the resources to fund Congressman Young's now famous "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska. If a thousandth of the care lavished on the Don Young Bridge had been lavished by U.S. Immigration on the 9/11 killers' visa paperwork, things might have gone very differently.

More to the point, domestic policy isn't a distraction from the war, it's a key front in it. Alaskan oil is part of the war on terror, so is increased refinery capacity. One reason why half the country's tuned out Iraq, Afghanistan and all the rest is because they can't see any connection between Bush foreign policy and their own lives. Way back in the summer of 2002, I wrote, "Sept. 11 is not just an event, hermetically sealed from everything before and after, but a context. Everything that's wrong with the environmental movement, with the teachers' unions, with the big-government bureaucracies can be seen through the prism of their responses to that day."

Ambitious presidents seize on extreme events to change the culture, as FDR did, using the Depression to transform the nature of the federal government. In allowing the eco-crazies to get away with prioritizing the world's biggest mosquito herd over Alaskan oil, and the teaching establishment with insisting that there's nothing wrong with the most overfunded public education system in the world that can't be fixed with even more wasted dollars, and the bureaucracy with creating an instantly sclerotic jobs-for-life federalized airport security (that just walked off the job in Houston), the Republicans missed their post-9/11 opportunity.
Instead of changing the nature of the federal government, the Republican majority in Washington seems to be changing the nature of the Republican Party. The Democrats' approach to government has been Sorosized, the GOP's has been supersized. Some choice.