Friday, March 14, 2008

Today's Tune: Big Country - Wonderland

(Click on title to play video)

Muslim Elementary School Welcomed in Minnesota

by Robert Spencer
Posted: 03/13/2008

Can you imagine a public school founded by two Christian ministers, and housed in the same building as a church? Add to that -- in the same building -- a prominent chapel. And let’s say the students are required to fast during Lent, and attend Bible studies right after school. All with your tax dollars.

Inconceivable? Sure. If such a place existed, the ACLU lawyers would descend on it like locusts. It would be shut down before you could say “separation of church and state,” to the accompaniment of New York Times and Washington Post editorials full of indignant foreboding, warning darkly about the growing influence of the Religious Right in America.

But such a school does exist in Minnesota, in a different religious context, and so far the ACLU has uttered nary a peep.

Tax dollars are currently at work funding the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, a popular, rapidly growing K-8 charter school with campuses in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine, Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, as a Minnesota charter school implementing a statewide “performance and professional pay program” known as Q-Comp, Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy pocketed $65,260 in state money for the 2006-07 school year. The school’s website, meanwhile, boasts that it offers a “rigorous Arabic language program” and an “environment that fosters your cultural values and heritage.” Whose cultural values and heritage? According to the indefatigable investigative reporter Katherine Kersten of the Star Tribune, “there are strong indications that religion plays a central role” there.

Which religion? Do you need three guesses?

The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy was co-founded by two imams; is housed in the same building as a mosque and the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS); features a carpeted space for prayer; and serves halal food in the cafeteria. All students fast during Ramadan. They attend classes on the Qur’an and Sunnah, or Islamic tradition and law, after school. The school is closely tied to the MAS: Kersten observes that “at MAS-MN's 2007 convention, for example, the program featured an advertisement for the ‘Muslim American Society of Minnesota,’ superimposed on a picture of a mosque. Under the motto ‘Establishing Islam in Minnesota,’ it asked: ‘Did you know that MAS-MN ... houses a full-time elementary school’? On the adjacent page was an application for TIZA” -- the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy.

The existence of the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy is, of course, yet another manifestation of the witless multiculturalism that grants protected victim status to Muslim groups in view of the “racism” and “Islamophobia” from which they supposedly suffer. Latitude that would never be granted to other faith groups, particularly Christians, is readily given here.

But it’s even worse than that. According to a 2004 Chicago Tribune exposé, the Muslim American Society is the name under which the Muslim Brotherhood operates in the United States. And according to a 1992 Brotherhood memorandum about its strategy in the U.S., it is embarked upon a “grand Jihad” aimed at “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Is Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy part of this “grand jihad”? A clue might come from the name of the school itself. Kersten notes that it was named after the eighth-century Muslim conqueror of Spain. Islam Online praised Tarek ibn Ziyad in a 2004 article as a “man of valor, a man of extraordinary courage and a true leader.” He is chiefly remembered for one incident in particular. Landing in Spain, he ordered the Muslim forces’ boats to be burned, and then told his soldiers: “Brothers in Islam! We now have the enemy in front of us and the deep sea behind us. We cannot return to our homes, because we have burnt our boats. We shall now either defeat the enemy and win or die a coward’s death by drowning in the sea. Who will follow me?” The soldiers, crying “Allahu akbar,” rushed ahead and defeated a vastly superior Spanish force.

Does the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy represent the same idea for those who founded it and now operate it -- the burning of the boats, representing the determination of Muslim immigrants to stay in the U.S., followed by conquest? In light of the Brotherhood memorandum and other evidence about the jihadist allegiances of the Muslim American Society, it is not an illegitimate question.

But what public official, in Minnesota or elsewhere, dares to ask it?

Mr. Spencer is director of Jihad Watch and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)" , "The Truth About Muhammad" and "Religion of Peace?" (all from Regnery -- a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).

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For Crystal, a Strikeout and a Lasting Memory

The New York Times
Published: March 14, 2008

TAMPA, Fla. — The most famous Yankee of all, at least for a day, traded autographed baseballs late Thursday afternoon with Paul Maholm, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ left-hander who had struck him out in the first inning of an exhibition game at Legends Field.

Scott Audette/Reuters
Billy Crystal, who played with the Yankees for his 60th birthday, worked the count to 3-1.

“So we’re forever linked,” Billy Crystal told him. “We’re Louis and Schmeling now.”

For Crystal, the actor who turns 60 on Friday, the six pitches he saw from Maholm will be a personal highlight, every bit as memorable as the Joe Louis-Max Schmeling bouts of the 1930s. The Yankees signed Crystal to a contract for the game, a gift for a lifelong fan who later gave a party for the team.

Crystal was older and smaller than his teammates, who hazed him by slicing his shoelaces and cutting the toes from his socks. But he has a home batting cage and took lessons from a former All-Star, Reggie Smith. As much as he could, Crystal looked the part.

He sized up Maholm from the on-deck circle and said he barely noticed the Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson kidding with him. He rubbed sticky grip on the bat handle, bumped fists with Derek Jeter and strode to the batter’s box, kicking dirt from his spikes with the barrel of the bat.

With his friend Robin Williams watching from a box beside the dugout, Crystal took a ball and then bounced a foul down the first-base line. Two balls followed, and Crystal adjusted his batting gloves.

Noticing that Maholm was behind in the count, 3-1, the Yankees’ Mike Mussina expected him to bear down.

“You give up a hit to a pitcher in the National League, that’s not too good,” Mussina said. “But you give up a hit to a 60-year-old actor, you’re going to hear it for a while. And he came back from 3-1. If he had walked him, it would have been just as bad.”

Maholm’s next two pitches were his toughest, cutters bearing down and in on Crystal, who swung at both and missed. The last one hummed near 90 miles an hour, a legitimate big-league offering.

“It’s tough to hit for a player, a cutter inside,” Jeter said. “You could tell he probably didn’t want to give up a hit.”

Maholm said he took something off his first few fastballs, to give Crystal a chance. But he was never concerned he would plunk him.

“I think I’ve got good enough control so I wouldn’t hit him,” Maholm said, “especially because he wasn’t all that close to the plate.”

Had Crystal reached base, Johnny Damon would have replaced him as a pinch-runner. After the strikeout, Crystal waved to the cheering crowd. Alex Rodriguez asked Maholm for the ball and gave it to Crystal as a souvenir.

Crystal called the at-bat the most unbelievable — and strangest — moment of his life. He was grateful that Maholm took him seriously.

“It was tough; that’s how it should have been,” Crystal said. “I didn’t want him to throw a softball, a sky ball. It would have been great to do that, but I think it’s better to strike out on a really tough, 89 mile-an-hour pitch than to say, ‘Oh, good, I got a single off a 60 mile-an-hour piece of pie.’ ”

Crystal hung around the dugout and also visited the suite of the principal owner, George Steinbrenner. He joked that he thought he was getting traded for Jerry Seinfeld, and thanked Steinbrenner for the chance.

The experience, Crystal said, was nothing like a live performance, where he knows his material and feels in control. But he was not scared, he said, and he felt his legs under him. Never has a strikeout been so rewarding.

“I hung in there for six pitches against a good pitcher,” Crystal said. “At this age, I did my job. I was the leadoff man and I felt like a baseball player. I didn’t feel like the actor who came to do this. I worked hard, really hard, and I hung in there. What a great feeling.”

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Today's Tune: When In Rome - The Promise

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Victor Davis Hanson: Tired Gaza Two-Step

A familiar scene.
March 13, 2008 12:00 AM

Gaza erupted in celebration last week to the news that a Palestinian had murdered Jewish religious students in Jerusalem. And almost daily terrorists send rockets from Gaza into nearby Israeli cities, hoping to kill civilians and provoke Israeli counter-responses — and perhaps start another Middle East war.

This is not the way some imagined Gaza two and half years after the Israelis withdrew both civilians and soldiers from the territory in September 2005. At the time, the Palestinian Authority controlled Gaza, but in early 2007, Hamas took over in a violent civil war, claiming legitimacy after once winning a popular election.

Gaza has plenty of natural advantages. It enjoys a picturesque coastline on the Mediterranean with sandy beaches and a rich classical history. There is a contiguous border with Egypt, the Arab world’s largest country and spiritual home of pan-Arabic solidarity.

The Palestinians are a favorite cause of the oil-rich Middle East, and would seem to be in store for at least a few billions that accrue from $100 a barrel oil. In short, an autonomous Gaza might have been a test case in which the Palestinians could have crafted their own Singapore, Hong Kong, or Dubai.

Instead, despite Palestinian rule of Gaza, Hamas has continued its civil war with the Palestinian Authority, and looters have ruined infrastructure that was left by the United Nations and the Israelis. Mobs crashed the border crossing with Egypt. Hamas-led terrorists have launched over 2,500 mortar rounds into Israel, as well as over 2,000 Qassam rockets.

We all now know the familiar Gaza two-step. The Israeli Defense Forces respond to Hamas rockets with targeted air strikes against terrorist leaders or small-rocket factories. Hamas makes certain both these targets are intermingled with civilians in the hopes of televised collateral damage.

Hamas counts on the usual sympathetic European and Middle Eastern media coverage and commentary. Terrorists deliberately trying to murder Israeli civilians are seen as the moral equivalents of Israeli soldiers trying to target combatants who use civilians as shields. To the extent that the IDF kills more of the terrorists than Hamas kills Israeli civilians, sympathy goes to the “refugees” of Gaza.

Islamic Jihad militants are seen in Gaza March 6, 2008.

This tragic charade continues because Hamas wants it to continue. Its purpose is to make life so unsure and frightening for nearby affluent Israelis that they will grant continual concessions, hopefully leading to such wide-scale demoralization that the Jewish state itself will collapse and disappear. In that regard, the last thing Hamas wants is calm and prosperity in Gaza, which would turn the population’s attention toward living rather than killing and dying.

Hamas in Gaza also feels that the war is not static — and that it is already winning on all fronts. As Europeans, Middle Easterners, and the United Nations lecture Israel about “inordinate” or “disproportionate” responses, the terrorists’ smuggled missiles increase in range, payload and frequency of attack.

Hamas has gained powerful patrons in Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah. Both provide terrorist training and weapons as long as Gaza serves as a useful proxy in their own existential struggles against Israel.

On the world front, we’ve reached a new threshold in which evoking the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews has become commonplace and almost acceptable. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, publicly brags about hoarding the body parts of captured Israelis. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad openly talks of Israelis in Hitlerian terms as “filthy bacteria” that should be wiped off the map.

Palestinians in Gaza can enshrine mass murderers and praise terrorist killers without much worry that the world will be appalled at their grotesque spectacles — much less cease its sympathy and subsidies.

And what a world it is that enables Gaza! The Russians have fought a dirty war against Muslim separatists in Chechnya. The Chinese have been hunting down Muslim separatist Uighurs who claim Xinjiang Province as their own. India wages bloody periodic wars against Muslim terrorists who claim Kashmir.

Imagine tomorrow that all of the above nations told the Gazans that their dispute is no more or less important to the world than similar land quarrels in Cyprus or Azerbaijan; that they are no more or less deserving of international money and sympathy than are the Chechnyans or Uighurs or the Muslims of Kashmir; or that the Israelis have as much right as the Chinese, Indians or Russians to retaliate and put down neighboring Islamist attacks. Then the crisis would shortly recede from the world’s attention.

And Hamas in Gaza would either begin negotiating and building Palestinians’ own civil society — or face the sort of typical Chinese, Russian, or Indian retaliation that Israel is quite able to unleash.


Bridging Eras: What Palmer Did, Woods Is Doing

The New York Times
Published: March 13, 2008

Hans Deryk/Reuters
Tiger Woods, during a pro-am event Wednesday, is a driving force for TV ratings for PGA Tour events.

ORLANDO, Fla. — To arrive at golf’s present requires a stroll through its past, a walk to remember just how closely linked the game’s eras and stars are.

The Arnold Palmer whose 62 career victories were passed by Tiger Woods two weeks ago can best be recognized today on flickering newsreels and in black-and-white photographs, frozen in time. Whippet-waisted, with forearms like a stevedore’s, Palmer grins from the walls of a special MasterCard exhibition at the entrance to Bay Hill, through which thousands of fans will pass this week on their way to see Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and other current golf stars compete at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

To see Palmer as he was then, with his arms draped around the 1955 Canadian Open trophy after his first professional victory, or punching the air with an exuberant fist pump after his last in 1973, is to grasp how much he and Woods share in common as golfers, influencers and global ambassadors of the game.

Although Woods’s overall game is most often compared to that of Jack Nicklaus, there are some stylistic elements of the hard-charging, risk-taking Palmer in it. Woods’s perilous shot to the right of the pin on No. 17 at the TPC at Sawgrass in his first United States Amateur victory in 1994 and his 6-iron from a fairway bunker 218 yards over water at the pin to lock up the 2000 Canadian Open spring to mind.

Those shots, the birdie putts that followed and Woods’s signature fist pump — much like the 1973 version Palmer did during his fifth victory at the Bob Hope Desert Classic — are bridges across eras.

“I always remember Arnold being so aggressive and going after a lot of shots that most players would not try,” Woods said. “You know, that’s basically what his career was built upon. It also cost him some major championships. But he probably would not have won some majors if he did not play that way.”

Like the United States Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver in 1960, when Palmer entered the final round seven strokes off the lead and drove the first green en route to a 65 that won the tournament.

United Press International
Arnold Palmer, left, who has served as a role model and ambassador for golf, with his fellow great Ben Hogan in 1965.

It was then that the Palmer phenomenon was in full flower, when his twisting body leans and expressive face told television viewers exactly where his tee shots were headed — even on the 24-inch black-and-white screens of the era. Then, Palmer and televised golf were a happy marriage of a new star and a new stage. Now, the athletic power and grace of Woods drives golf TV ratings like no one else.

And at the live gate, no golfers in the last 50 years drew crowds like Palmer did and Woods does. Arnie’s Army, the throngs of near-fanatical Palmer followers, first lined the fairways at Augusta National, and his personal wall of fans generated some generous bounces for the man known as the King. Today’s tournament directors see a bounce of a different kind from Woods — more than a 25 percent rise in ticket sales when he plays.

As much as Woods’s playing goals were influenced by his desire to eclipse Nicklaus’s victory totals, he also tried to learn from and emulate Palmer’s impact on the game as a role model and ambassador.

“We all try and do that,” Woods said. “He’s promoted the game all around the world. He’s bent over backwards to make the game better, and he has. We would not have had the growth in our sport without him. Without Arnold Palmer, we would not be playing for all the things that we are able to play for now.”

Palmer has a similar level of appreciation for what Woods has accomplished, and what he believes he will accomplish, in the game. He thinks Woods could achieve his stated goal of winning the Grand Slam this year — “I can see Tiger doing it,” he said — and is clearly impressed by his run of victories dating to last season.

“I think right now he has got the game by the neck and he’s choking it — and he should,” Palmer said. “His game is obviously responding to his commands, and I think that’s what it’s going to take to do the things that we’re talking about.”

Palmer, 78, will return to Augusta National in the spring to hit the ceremonial opening drive for the Masters tournament, and he may even consider playing in the annual par-3 contest on Wednesday of tournament week. This year will mark the 50th anniversary of his first of four Masters victories, and it will also be the year Gary Player will play in his 51st consecutive Masters, surpassing Palmer’s record of 50, set in 2004.

Looking back, the Arnold Palmer of today does not seem to care much about either mark. His legacy is secure, his tournament is in its 30th year and his smile is that of a grandfather who enjoys watching younger players go after it like he once did. Asked whether he believed he would be remembered more for the way he played golf or the way he carried himself, he leaned forward in his chair.

“Well, you know, I’m pleased that I was able to do what I did from a golfing standpoint,” he said. “But I would like to think that I left them more than just that.”

Ann Coulter: Whoreable Behavior
Posted: 03/12/2008


Gov. Eliot Spitzer, with his wife, Silda, at his side, announces his resignation Wednesday.

This is a disaster for Hillary Clinton.

According to the wiretaps, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was delighted to be getting the prostitute "Kristen" again. At least he knew her name. It took Monica Lewinsky's boyfriend six sexual encounters to remember her name (raising his lifetime average to 8.2).

You know that queasy feeling you get thinking about Bill Clinton back in the White House again? Now you remember why. Hillary Clinton couldn't feel worse about the Spitzer case if she were an actual New Yorker.

Proving that Karl Marx got everything wrong -- more bad news for Hillary -- history is indeed repeating itself, but, contra Marx, the first time as farce, the second time as tragedy. Clinton's scandal was hilarious; Spitzer's is just depressing.

Most people outside of New York can't grasp the enormity of Spitzer's political free fall.

Eliot Spitzer was the golden boy with an absolutely charmed life. His parents were the children of Jewish immigrants, who created a Ralph Lauren lifestyle for their children.

Spitzer's father made half a billion dollars in New York real estate and raised three high-achieving children -- two lawyers and a neurosurgeon. In a family like that, becoming governor of New York makes you the black sheep.

Spitzer went to the best schools -- Horace Mann, Princeton and Harvard Law School. He must have written some good papers.

He lives at the perfect address (Fifth Avenue and 79th St.) with his perfect Harvard Law School-educated Southern Baptist wife -- whose parents must be telling her they told her so right about now -- and their three perfect daughters. (Admittedly, the apartment is a gift from Dad: A mere top-flight education doesn't get you an apartment overlooking Central Park.)

And now Spitzer's entire anal-retentive, good paper-writing life has collapsed in the horrifying image of a frenzied masturbator. This is the most complete coup de grace imaginable, short of an assassin's bullet.

Spitzer's life is ruined. It doesn't matter if he has defenders who will wail, "It's his private life!" It doesn't matter if he fights the charges. It doesn't matter if this was a political prosecution. As Talleyrand said: "It's worse than a crime; it's a blunder."

Eliot Spitzer, Harvard Law graduate and Fifth Avenue denizen, is forevermore: "Client No. 9."

Forget about his career -- those around him better have him on suicide watch. Dudley Do-Right is on tape in a white-knuckle negotiation with pimps about payment for a prostitute. (Let's just be thankful that there's no anti-Semitic expression for Jews haggling about money.)

No one will ever be able to look him in the eye again. How can Spitzer hold a press conference when reporters won't stop giggling at him?

Spitzer can't go to the restaurants he used to frequent. He can't go to the Whitney Museum near his apartment. He can't go to track meets at his daughters' expensive private school. He can't show his face in public.

The golden boy's disgrace is deep and subliminal; it can't be expunged.

One shudders to imagine the sepulchral gloom pervading the Spitzer home this week. At least Hillary would liven the place up with some lamp-throwing.

Whatever Spitzer's flaws, he was a pristine product of wealth and attainment. And he threw away a star-studded life of accomplishment in a wanton, reckless pursuit of sex with prostitutes.

There's no prettifying what Spitzer has done. The Web site of the "Emperor's Club VIP" whorehouse patronized by Spitzer heroically claims the prostitutes -- or "models" -- are chosen for their "level of education, family background, intelligence, personality."

One can almost hear the typical John, heavy-breathing into the phone: "And this one you call 'Busty Betty' -- does she come from a good family? Parents still together? What church do they attend?"

Surprising no one, police wiretaps indicate that the "models" were semi-literate, could not learn to swipe a credit card and seemed invariably to be on drugs. That's what you get for $2,000 an hour in this charming business.

After one prostitute missed an appointment and left a "crazy" text message for one of her pimps, the procurer remarks that the girl is on drugs. It seems, the procurer adds, "a lot of these girls deteriorate to this point."

Behold the "victimless" crime of prostitution. Hard to believe these girls would turn to drugs. Having sex with strangers for money, nothing to live for ... just thinking about it makes me want to take drugs.

It's absurd to talk about Spitzer's problem being "hypocrisy" -- as if everything would be fine if only he had previously advocated legalized prostitution.

It's absurd to talk about "alpha males" and political power -- an alpha male does not bring his family shame and disaster. Who was more alpha than Ronald Reagan? Think he ever had a "whore problem"? This is more like a dog who wee-wees on your leg.

It's absurd to talk about legal defenses. This guy has fallen from the pinnacle of New York society to being a disgrace to his class. He's the Ivy League version of Paris Hilton.

That was always the advantage Clinton had: We never expected any better. He went from Skunk Trot, Ark., to Skunk Trot, Ark. Spitzer fell from Fifth Avenue to Skunk Trot, Ark.

Ann Coulter is Legal Affairs Correspondent for HUMAN EVENTS and author of "High Crimes and Misdemeanors," "Slander," ""How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)," "Godless," and most recently, "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans."

Mark Steyn: The West's Two-Tier Sisterhood

Tuesday, 11 March 2008
from National Review

Afghan women display an election poster after registering to vote. Associated Press photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko

For reasons best known to its editors, The Guardian in Britain has been publishing extensive excerpts from The Terror Dream: Fear And Fantasy In Post-9/11 America, by Susan Faludi. The other Monday morning, halfway through one of no less than three excerpts (plus an interview) in that day’s edition edition, I came across this, harking back to the fall of 2001:

“Fighting the gender war seemed to be a preoccupying concern, too, of Mark Steyn's November 19 article in the National Review, in which he denounced the proponents of nanny-state big government – ‘Hillary & Co’ prominent among them - for having de-balled American men in the air just as they had on the ground. The airline cabin was ‘the perfect symbol’ of ‘the modern social-democratic state’, he wrote, with a female FAA director who stripped pilots of their handguns and an oligarchy of flight attendants on every plane whose dictates had to be obeyed…”

You know, Susan, sometimes it’s not about you. I wasn’t writing about “the gender war”, but about “the war” – you know, the one involving thousands of dead bodies in New York and bombers setting off for Kabul and Kandahar. You remember, the non-metaphorical war. But, if you’ve been peddling war as lame-o leftie metaphor your whole life (Ms Faludi’s previous book was Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women) I guess it’s hard to remember there was ever another kind. I didn’t recall my ancient NR column as being about “fighting the gender war” and, indeed, on sending my mail-order bride to retrieve it from the vault I could discern no “gender war” component to it whatsoever. There is no animus directed to the “female FAA director” on account of her femaleness, which can only be deduced by the fact that I mention her name. The piece is about big government, and, insofar as it targets any serving politician, it’s far more critical of a non-female, Dick Cheney, and his post-9/11 swoon to the virtues of the overbearing state, than of Hillary or the FAA director or anyone else.

The western feminist left are like those Japanese guys in the jungle who don’t know the war is over. Ms Faludi doesn’t know the war is over and she won. Which is why, as Kate O’Beirne pointed out in her book, American feminists are reduced to complaining that “women make up only 1.3 per cent of plumbers, pipe fitters and steamfitters…” Jiminy. Maybe laying pipe is something that particularly appeals to boys, and maybe girls would rather be the hotshot lawyers who sue the contractor for not hiring enough female plumbers: after all, 60 per cent of US college graduates are now women. If it’s hard to get a female pipe-fitter, it’s because they’re all at law school.

At the time Ms Faludi was detecting patriarchal oppression in my NR prose, the Bush/Blair patriarchal phallocracy was busy liberating Afghanistan, a country where women were forbidden by law from feeling sunlight on their faces. When I used to point that out in speeches, huffy western feminists would object that the Taliban were a particularly vile regime but a long way away and not especially relevant. Okay. But all that’s happened in the last six years is that we now know that that distant evil on the fringes of the map has embedded itself in the heart of every western city. There are forced cousin marriages in Muslim communities throughout the developed world: In 80% of New York Pakistani families, the parents determine whom and when you marry; 57% of British Pakistanis are wed to a first cousin, with daughters as young as 11 being sent abroad to marry. The Province of Ontario gives polygamous men welfare checks for each of their wives, and Canadian immigration recognizes arranged marriages performed over the telephone. There are “FGM resource coordinators” in Australian hospitals. In the Netherlands, Muslims account for the vast majority of those taken in to battered women’s shelters. There are “honor killings” in Germany and Scandinavia, and Toronto and Dallas.

When they’re sufficiently hectored by the likes of David Horowitz, Ms Faludi and her sisters can be temporarily roused to express some pro forma objection to “honor killings” and the like. But only for a moment, and then it’s back to the usual dreary myopic parochial preoccupations: Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women had to be retitled for the paperback edition The Undeclared War Against American Women lest anyone whose pieties hadn’t been gathering cobwebs since 1969 might carelessly imagine that a leading feminist might have something to say about the “war” being waged against her Muslim sisters in Dearborn and Portland and Montreal and London, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Oslo and Berlin.

I appreciate that to Ms Faludi I will always be as revoltingly patriarchal as a 1950s sitcom dad. Yet there is something not just boring but grotesque in western feminists’ inability to prioritize. They seem implicitly to have accepted a two-tier sisterhood, in which white upscale liberal women twitter about NR columnists’ appalling misogyny in criticizing a female Bush Administration official, while simultaneously the women of the fastest growing population group in the western world are forced into clitoridectomies, forced into burqas, forced into marriage, forced into psychiatric wards, forced into hiding – and, if all else fails, forced off the apartment balcony by their brothers and fathers to fall to their deaths, as has happened to at least seven Muslim girls in Sweden recently. This is the real “war against women” being waged across the western world, but, like so much of the left, a pampered and privileged sisterhood would rather fight pseudo-battles over long vanquished enemies.

from National Review, February 25th 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Today's Tune: Joe Ely - Gallo del Cielo (Live)

(Click on title to play video)

Patrick J. Buchanan: To Die for NAFTA

March 10, 2008

Patrick J. Buchanan

"The commonest error in politics," said Lord Salisbury, "is sticking to the carcass of dead policies."

Lord Salisbury's rule comes to mind on reading of John McCain's delight at the $40 billion contract awarded the French-led parent of Airbus—to build the next generation of U.S. Air Force tankers.

The contract could run to $100 billion and is a body blow to Boeing in its duel to the death with Airbus. Two-thirds of all air-to-air refueling tankers are used by the United States. The contract gives a 30-year lease on life to the expiring Airbus A330 and means early death for Boeing's 767, the U.S. model for the tanker.

Congratulating himself for having exposed corruption in the Boeing bid, McCain purred, "I have always insisted that the Air Force buy major weapons through fair and open competition." [Boeing backers blame McCain for losing deal, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 7, 2008 ]

If McCain thinks Airbus has prospered through "fair and open competition," he is beyond recall. In its first 25 years, Airbus sold 770 planes but did not make a dime in profit. It was started as a socialist cartel, subsidized by the governments of Spain, France, Britain and Germany, to invade and capture a market owned by Americans who built the planes that won World War II.

Airbus drove Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas out of the business of commercial aircraft and almost took down Boeing. And like indolent buffalo munching grass as they are shot one by one, we let it happen.
Lost U.S. jobs should not be our primary concern, said McCain, "I've always felt the best thing to do is to create the best weapons system we can at minimum cost to taxpayers."

But if McCain thinks cost trumps all in building weapons of war, why not outsource the building of U.S. carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates and submarines to the foreign shipyards that construct America's merchant ships? Why not hire and train foreign sailors as crews?

Why not outsource the scores of thousands of U.S. government jobs handling Social Security checks and tax returns to Bangladesh and India? After all, the neocons want to hire foreign mercenaries to fight America's wars and reward them with U.S. citizenship, as the Romans did in the last days of the empire.

What does it mean to be an American anymore?

It took 20 years to wake up blockheaded Republicans to the social insanity of open borders. Only the collapse of his candidacy last summer jolted McCain into realizing that the 80 percent of Americans who reject amnesty and want a border fence are not all "bigots," as his Tonto, Lindsay Graham, said they were.

Is it going to take 20 more years for Republicans to awaken to the economic disaster they have created and the political ruin they are inviting with this fanatic faith in "free trade," while the rest of the world loots our country through mercantilism?

When Europe imposes a 15 percent value-added tax on U.S. imports and rebates the VAT on exports to the United States, that is not free trade. When China devalues its currency 45 percent, as it did in 1994, and bolts it down to suck jobs and factories out of the United States, that is not free trade. When Japan manipulates its currency, preaches economic nationalism to its people, and shelters its market for TVs, autos and steel, while dumping into and capturing ours, that is not free trade.

McCain admits to knowing almost nothing about economics and is now being advised by my old friend Jack Kemp. In a Wall Street Journal essay bemoaning my views, Kemp concedes, "I'm on the advisory board of Toyota North America and now drive a hybrid Lexus."

Nor is Jack the only pol who has found happiness in a foreign employ. Ex-secretaries of state and Cabinet officers, ex-senators and congressmen, and ex-White House aides are getting rich working for foreigners who are carting off American jobs, American technology, American markets, American factories—and America's future.

Yet retribution may be at hand for our multinational GOP. In Ohio, NAFTA is a five-letter word with a four-letter meaning, as Ohio lost a huge slice of the 3.5 million manufacturing jobs that vanished under the McCain-Kemp-Bush policy of unilateral disarmament in the trade wars being waged against America.

Look at the Bush-McCain record: $4 trillion in trade deficits, $2.5 trillion in manufactures alone. One in every six manufacturing jobs, 3 million, gone.

With America borrowing $2 billion a day to pay for foreign goods, we have seen a collapse of the dollar, the price of gold quadruple to $1,000 an ounce, oil soar to $107 a barrel and gas heading toward $4 a gallon.

Where Bush has created an average of 46,000 new private-sector jobs a month, Bill Clinton did five times as well, creating 220,000 a month.

Hillary won Ohio denouncing the NAFTA deal Bill Clinton cut. The lady gets it. McCain remains a loyal NAFTA man. Good luck in Ohio and Michigan. As the Great Peer said, "The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies."

Patrick J. Buchanan needs no introduction to VDARE.COM readers; his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from His new book is Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart.

David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'

An election-season essay

The Village Voice
March 11th, 2008 12:00 AM

Cliff Lipson / AP
Executive Producer David Mamet, left, poses with Producer Eric Haney on the set in Los Angeles while filming an episode of "The Unit," the network's military drama.

John Maynard Keynes was twitted with changing his mind. He replied, "When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?"

My favorite example of a change of mind was Norman Mailer at The Village Voice.

Norman took on the role of drama critic, weighing in on the New York premiere of Waiting for Godot.

Twentieth century's greatest play. Without bothering to go, Mailer called it a piece of garbage.

When he did get around to seeing it, he realized his mistake. He was no longer a Voice columnist, however, so he bought a page in the paper and wrote a retraction, praising the play as the masterpiece it is.

Every playwright's dream.

I once won one of Mary Ann Madden's "Competitions" in New York magazine. The task was to name or create a "10" of anything, and mine was the World's Perfect Theatrical Review. It went like this: "I never understood the theater until last night. Please forgive everything I've ever written. When you read this I'll be dead." That, of course, is the only review anybody in the theater ever wants to get.

My prize, in a stunning example of irony, was a year's subscription to New York, which rag (apart from Mary Ann's "Competition") I considered an open running sore on the body of world literacy—this due to the presence in its pages of John Simon, whose stunning amalgam of superciliousness and savagery, over the years, was appreciated by that readership searching for an endorsement of proactive mediocrity.

But I digress.

I wrote a play about politics (November, Barrymore Theater, Broadway, some seats still available). And as part of the "writing process," as I believe it's called, I started thinking about politics. This comment is not actually as jejune as it might seem. Porgy and Bess is a buncha good songs but has nothing to do with race relations, which is the flag of convenience under which it sailed.

But my play, it turned out, was actually about politics, which is to say, about the polemic between persons of two opposing views. The argument in my play is between a president who is self-interested, corrupt, suborned, and realistic, and his leftish, lesbian, utopian-socialist speechwriter.

The play, while being a laugh a minute, is, when it's at home, a disputation between reason and faith, or perhaps between the conservative (or tragic) view and the liberal (or perfectionist) view. The conservative president in the piece holds that people are each out to make a living, and the best way for government to facilitate that is to stay out of the way, as the inevitable abuses and failures of this system (free-market economics) are less than those of government intervention.

I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind.

As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them in my life. How do I know? My wife informed me. We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. "?" she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been—rather charmingly, I thought—referring to myself for years as "a brain-dead liberal," and to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio."

This is, to me, the synthesis of this worldview with which I now found myself disenchanted: that everything is always wrong.

But in my life, a brief review revealed, everything was not always wrong, and neither was nor is always wrong in the community in which I live, or in my country. Further, it was not always wrong in previous communities in which I lived, and among the various and mobile classes of which I was at various times a part.

And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it? I began to question what I actually thought and found that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years. I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine, and that this, indeed, is not only a fit subject, but the only subject, of drama.

I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances—that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired—in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.

For the Constitution, rather than suggesting that all behave in a godlike manner, recognizes that, to the contrary, people are swine and will take any opportunity to subvert any agreement in order to pursue what they consider to be their proper interests.

To that end, the Constitution separates the power of the state into those three branches which are for most of us (I include myself) the only thing we remember from 12 years of schooling.

The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long.

Rather brilliant. For, in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms.

I found not only that I didn't trust the current government (that, to me, was no surprise), but that an impartial review revealed that the faults of this president—whom I, a good liberal, considered a monster—were little different from those of a president whom I revered.

Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh.

And I began to question my hatred for "the Corporations"—the hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those goods and services they provide and without which we could not live.

And I began to question my distrust of the "Bad, Bad Military" of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a very hostile world. Is the military always right? No. Neither is government, nor are the corporations—they are just different signposts for the particular amalgamation of our country into separate working groups, if you will. Are these groups infallible, free from the possibility of mismanagement, corruption, or crime? No, and neither are you or I. So, taking the tragic view, the question was not "Is everything perfect?" but "How could it be better, at what cost, and according to whose definition?" Put into which form, things appeared to me to be unfolding pretty well.

Do I speak as a member of the "privileged class"? If you will—but classes in the United States are mobile, not static, which is the Marxist view. That is: Immigrants came and continue to come here penniless and can (and do) become rich; the nerd makes a trillion dollars; the single mother, penniless and ignorant of English, sends her two sons to college (my grandmother). On the other hand, the rich and the children of the rich can go belly-up; the hegemony of the railroads is appropriated by the airlines, that of the networks by the Internet; and the individual may and probably will change status more than once within his lifetime.

What about the role of government? Well, in the abstract, coming from my time and background, I thought it was a rather good thing, but tallying up the ledger in those things which affect me and in those things I observe, I am hard-pressed to see an instance where the intervention of the government led to much beyond sorrow.

But if the government is not to intervene, how will we, mere human beings, work it all out?

I wondered and read, and it occurred to me that I knew the answer, and here it is: We just seem to. How do I know? From experience. I referred to my own—take away the director from the staged play and what do you get? Usually a diminution of strife, a shorter rehearsal period, and a better production.

The director, generally, does not cause strife, but his or her presence impels the actors to direct (and manufacture) claims designed to appeal to Authority—that is, to set aside the original goal (staging a play for the audience) and indulge in politics, the purpose of which may be to gain status and influence outside the ostensible goal of the endeavor.

Strand unacquainted bus travelers in the middle of the night, and what do you get? A lot of bad drama, and a shake-and-bake Mayflower Compact. Each, instantly, adds what he or she can to the solution. Why? Each wants, and in fact needs, to contribute—to throw into the pot what gifts each has in order to achieve the overall goal, as well as status in the new-formed community. And so they work it out.

See also that most magnificent of schools, the jury system, where, again, each brings nothing into the room save his or her own prejudices, and, through the course of deliberation, comes not to a perfect solution, but a solution acceptable to the community—a solution the community can live with.

Prior to the midterm elections, my rabbi was taking a lot of flack. The congregation is exclusively liberal, he is a self-described independent (read "conservative"), and he was driving the flock wild. Why? Because a) he never discussed politics; and b) he taught that the quality of political discourse must be addressed first—that Jewish law teaches that it is incumbent upon each person to hear the other fellow out.

And so I, like many of the liberal congregation, began, teeth grinding, to attempt to do so. And in doing so, I recognized that I held those two views of America (politics, government, corporations, the military). One was of a state where everything was magically wrong and must be immediately corrected at any cost; and the other—the world in which I actually functioned day to day—was made up of people, most of whom were reasonably trying to maximize their comfort by getting along with each other (in the workplace, the marketplace, the jury room, on the freeway, even at the school-board meeting).

And I realized that the time had come for me to avow my participation in that America in which I chose to live, and that that country was not a schoolroom teaching values, but a marketplace.

"Aha," you will say, and you are right. I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, and Shelby Steele, and a host of conservative writers, and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism.

At the same time, I was writing my play about a president, corrupt, venal, cunning, and vengeful (as I assume all of them are), and two turkeys. And I gave this fictional president a speechwriter who, in his view, is a "brain-dead liberal," much like my earlier self; and in the course of the play, they have to work it out. And they eventually do come to a human understanding of the political process. As I believe I am trying to do, and in which I believe I may be succeeding, and I will try to summarize it in the words of William Allen White.

White was for 40 years the editor of the Emporia Gazette in rural Kansas, and a prominent and powerful political commentator. He was a great friend of Theodore Roosevelt and wrote the best book I've ever read about the presidency. It's called Masks in a Pageant, and it profiles presidents from McKinley to Wilson, and I recommend it unreservedly.

White was a pretty clear-headed man, and he'd seen human nature as few can. (As Twain wrote, you want to understand men, run a country paper.) White knew that people need both to get ahead and to get along, and that they're always working at one or the other, and that government should most probably stay out of the way and let them get on with it. But, he added, there is such a thing as liberalism, and it may be reduced to these saddest of words: " . . . and yet . . . "

The right is mooing about faith, the left is mooing about change, and many are incensed about the fools on the other side—but, at the end of the day, they are the same folks we meet at the water cooler. Happy election season.

It’s Not an Adventure, It’s a Job

The Scholarship Divide

The New York Times
Published: March 12, 2008

Tim Shaffer for The New York Times
Stephanie Campbell received a $19,000 athletic scholarship to play field hockey at Villanova, but she said the demands of the sport and her schoolwork left her little time for a social life.

A few months into her first year at Villanova, Stephanie Campbell was despondent.

As a high school senior in New Jersey, she had been thrilled to receive a $19,000 athletic scholarship to play field hockey at Villanova University, a select, private institution outside Philadelphia. But she had not counted on the 7 a.m. start of every class day, something required so she could be in the locker room by noon to prepare for a four-hour shift of afternoon practices and weight-lifting sessions. Travel to games forced her to miss exams and classes. There were also mandatory team meetings, study halls and weekend practices.

She was overwhelmed.

“Plus, her roommate had a typical college student’s social life, while Stephanie was in her room on weekend nights trying to sleep because she had a game the next day,” her mother, Kathleen Campbell, said last month. “She came home crying.”

So Kathleen Campbell sat her daughter down, waited for a break in the sobs and said: “Villanova costs more than $40,000 a year to attend. They’re paying you $19,000 to play field hockey. At your age, there is no one out there anywhere who is going to pay you that kind of money to do anything. And that’s how you have to look at this: It’s a job, but it’s a great job.”

Campbell, 22, kept at it all four years, serving as a team captain last fall while majoring in marketing. She is expected to graduate this spring.

“I’m missing the sport terribly already,” she said last month. “But it was a ton of work. Receiving an athletic scholarship is a wonderful thing, but most of us only know what we’re getting, not what we’re getting into.”

Dozens of scholarship athletes at N.C.A.A. Division I institutions said in interviews that they had underestimated how taxing and hectic their lives would be playing college sports. They also said others share a common misperception that athletes lead a privileged existence.

“You know, maybe if you’re a scholarship football player at Oklahoma, everything is taken care of for you,” Tim Poydenis, a scholarship baseball player at Villanova, said. “But most of us are nonrevenue-sport athletes who have to do our own fund-raising just to pay for basics like sweat pants and batting gloves. We miss all these classes, which obviously doesn’t help us or make our professors happy. We give up almost all our free time. Our social life is stripped bare.

“Friday happy hour or spring break? Forget it. I haven’t had a spring break since I was a sophomore in high school.”

The athletes were interviewed over several weeks from a cross section of sports at two representative Division I institutions, Villanova, a charter member of the Big East Conference, and the University of Delaware, a state-run institution that is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. None of the athletes asked for or expected sympathy. They know there are many overscheduled college students who devote extra hours to academic and extracurricular activities or part-time jobs and internships.

“We love what we do, and it is worth it,” Poydenis said. “But everybody thinks every college athlete is on a pampered full ride. The truth is a lot of us are getting $4,000 and working our butts off for it.”

The life of the scholarship athlete is so arduous that coaches and athletes said it was not unusual for as many as 15 percent of those receiving athletic aid to quit sports and turn down the scholarship money after a year or two.

“I came in with 10 recruited girls,” Stephanie Campbell said. “There are four of us left as seniors. Not everyone was on scholarship, but maybe half who left were getting money.”

Campbell said she had a teammate who wanted to be an engineer but that the classes and off-campus projects in that major clashed with field hockey practices and trips.

Katie Lee, a senior softball player at Delaware, said at least one scholarship player had quit the team in each of her seasons. Of her former teammates, she said, “I see them around campus, and they look happy.”

Tim Shaffer for The New York Times
Many college athletes, like Elvis Lewis, who runs track at Villanova, start their classes early in the morning to accommodate training and game schedules. For events away from campus, teams can leave at 1 p.m. and not return until 10 p.m.

Emily Schaknowski, a sophomore lacrosse player on athletic scholarship at Delaware, said 5 of the 12 women she entered with were no longer on the team. Most had relinquished their scholarships.

Joe Taylor, a junior soccer player at Villanova, said he was one of four left from a freshman recruiting class of 10.

“You wonder if you should try to talk them out of it,” Taylor said. “But for most of those guys, it probably is the best decision to walk away.”

At Villanova, Poydenis said he thought the defections resulted from the shock that set in after a youth sports culture ethos collided with the realities of college athletics.

“Kids who have worked their whole life trying to get a scholarship think the hard part is over when they get the college money,” he said. “They don’t know that it’s a whole new monster when you get here.”

His coach, Joe Godri, says he tries to warn recruits before they accept athletic aid. He tells them that being a Division I student-athlete is a full-time job. “It’s not even close to being a normal college student,” Godri said.

The Division I athletes interviewed indicated they devoted at least four hours a day to their sport, not counting the time it takes to play or to travel to games. Classes must be scheduled in the early morning to free the afternoon for practices and games. Practices often last from 4 to 6:30 p.m., although several athletes talked about how they had to arrive early for treatment of injuries or to have old injuries taped or harnessed. Highly competitive, demanding practices come next.

There is often a team dinner, perhaps a short meeting and a mandatory study hall in some cases. Weekday away games, which are common, can mean a bus ride that begins at 1 p.m. and a return trip that reaches campus at 10 p.m.

“You come back to your dorm room ready to crash,” Taylor said. “But you’ve got homework or maybe a test the next morning. The rest of the dorm is starting to get a little rowdy because those guys have all finished their homework. They might be getting ready to go out. A lot of them took a nap in the afternoon.”

College athletes routinely said there was one accouterment not often mentioned in recruiting trips but essential to the athlete’s equipment bag: ear plugs.

“They help you sleep on those nights when you have a game the next day,” Jamie Flynn, a junior soccer player at Delaware, said.

Many athletes tend to gather together in off-campus housing, so at least their apartment is quieter on the nights before games. Most teams have a rule prohibiting alcohol 48 hours before a game. The Villanova field hockey team, for example, pledges to not to drink alcohol for the entire season.

And the players police other teammates who might not be abiding by the rules about partying before games or practices. Jillian Loyden, a senior All-Big East goalie on Villanova’s soccer team, said it was usually first-year players who slipped up.

“They get to college and want to be normal college students on a Friday night,” said Loyden, who has raided parties to usher first-year teammates out of a building so they would head home to bed. “You have to make them understand that our team is not a social club.”

Athletes from the nonrevenue sports also customarily have to do extra work on campus to raise money to pay for equipment or apparel not normally financed by the athletic department, like warm-up jackets. Cortney Barry, a scholarship swimmer at Delaware, cut short her Thanksgiving Day break at home last year because the swim team had agreed to clean the garbage from the football stadium bleachers to pay for some expenses.

For this and other reasons, college athletes often refer to students who are nonathletes as “normals” or “regulars.” When asked why, Stephanie Campbell answered, “Because we’re not normal.”

“Look, we are fortunate to be athletes and to get tuition money to do it,” Campbell added. “I have loved my time here. I’m going to get a prestigious degree, and I know there are a lot of people who would have wanted to trade places with me. But I’d still say Division I athletics is not meant for everybody. Nobody tells you that.”

Campbell, who was an All-Big East selection in her final season, has gone back to her hometown, Gibbsboro in South Jersey, to help coach the club team she played for as a youngster.

“I worry about the kids I see now, because they’re under so much stress to get something out of field hockey,” she said. “You can never lose sight of why you play. Yes, I got a scholarship, but in the end, I put up with the sore muscles, lost sleep and everything else because I loved playing that much.”

These days, she is trying to make up for lost time on the business networking front, attending vocational seminars and fairs aimed at easing college graduates into the workplace. It is a new game for Campbell.

“Well, I’m graduating in May,” she said. “I need a job.”

Griffin Palmer contributed reporting.

Jihad Comes to Dallas

Phyllis Chesler
March 10, 2008 10:01 AM

The Female Relatives of the Honor Murderered Teenagers Speak Out

Sara and Amina Said

“I have been warned to shut up. But when Yasser Abdul Said killed those girls he did not just spill Muslim blood on American soil. He shed my blood. I am not going to be quiet. I made a promise at their funerals that I would speak out.”
I am talking to Gail Gartrell, the great-aunt of Amina and Sarah Said who were honor murdered by their father, Yasser Said, on New Year’s Day, 2008. (I have written about this tragic case before for Pajamas Media.)


As of this writing, Yasser Said has not yet been captured.

The girls were murdered in Irving, Texas, an area with a large Muslim population that is also known to some experts as a place where Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood may be active. Gail and the other female relatives with whom I have spoken believe that Yasser Said is “possibly some kind of terrorist. I was only recently told that Yasser always seemed to have a lot of guns, machineguns—they’re illegal here—but handguns too.” Gail tells me:

“It’s another face of jihad. These men come here from Egypt, they marry American women in order to become American citizens. The American wives convert to Islam. Then, they have children who are natural-born American citizens—but who are raised to hate America and to want to live under shari’a law. Then, these men expect their teen-age American daughters to marry much older Muslim men from Egypt in arranged marriages. I know that Yasser wanted Amina to marry someone from Egypt.”

On March 8, 2008, nine relatives, who live in Texas and who are Christians, gathered on the spot where Amina and Sarah were murdered to “celebrate their lives.” The spot is right near a shooting range and shots continued to ring out as they and their Minister spoke. (Gail told me that here is another example of Yasser knowing “exactly what he was doing. He did not want anyone to pay attention to a gun going off when he shot his daughters dead.” )

The girl’s own mother, “Tissie” (Patricia) Said, was not at the March 8th Celebration. She is the one who effectively lured her daughters to their deaths. Also not there was their brother, Islam Said, Yasser and “Tissie’s” first-born son.

Gail is proud that her great-niece Amina refused to accept an arranged marriage, glad that they were both brave enough to run away. Both girls had non-Muslim boyfriends. Neither girl wanted to wear hijab. Clearly, these American-style choices are all capital crimes to someone like Yasser Said.

After my original articles ran, Gail Gartrell, Amina and Sarah’s great-aunt, reached out to me. I have now talked with her, with two other great-aunts: Joyce and Jill, and with Connie, who is “Tissie’s” sister.

Gail, Connie, Jill, and Joyce are all risking their lives in speaking out. Here’s an idea of what they are saying.

That Yasser is probably still hiding out in Texas; that his brothers are hiding him; that Yasser and his brothers may have committed another honor murder in the past. They were allegedly heard plotting to kill their own sister when she threatened to leave her husband; that Yasser beat and sexually assaulted his two daughters; that “Tissie,” their mother, both denied and enabled the sexual and physical abuse.

Since the double honor murder, “Tissie” Said has been living with a brother-in-law (the murderer’s brother). She has broken with her Texas female relatives and has warned them to shut up. Here’s what Gail Gartrell has to say:

“Tissie” is a dead woman, no matter what happens. They will kill her if she leaves. But they will also kill her even if she stays. Why? Because she once dared to run away with the girls, if only briefly. But she came back to Yasser and she convinced the girls to come back. I believe that they will kill her because she ran. “

I will be publishing a series about this double honor murder. I will also post a radio interview with Sarah and Amina’s brave female relatives later this week. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Today's Tune: U2 - One Tree Hill (Live)

One Tree Hill- Auckland, New Zealand

U2- Chicago, 29 April 1987

(Click on title to play video)

Recruits Clamor for More From Coaches With Less

The Scholarship Divide

The New York Times
Published: March 11, 2008

Tim Shaffer for The New York Times
College athletes in sports other than football and basketball, such as the Delaware shot-putter Chase Renoll, often receive only partial scholarships.

The country’s celebrity college football and basketball coaches lead nationally ranked teams on television, controlling a bevy of full scholarships and a sophisticated marketing machine that swathes college athletics with an air of affluence. They are far from typical.

More common is the soccer, lacrosse or softball coach who sits in a closet-sized office beside a $100 air conditioner and a 12-inch TV, trying to figure out ways to buy the best athlete possible for the least amount of scholarship money, which can be as little as $400. A jack-of-all-trades, this coach has a job that requires the skills of a stock portfolio manager, labor lawyer, headhunter, family counselor and soothsayer.

“There have been days when you feel like a used-car salesman,” said Joe Godri, the baseball coach at Villanova University. “I’ve always been completely honest, but you can’t get away from the fact that the process can be crazy. You pump up a kid so much to come to your place, and when he agrees, you say, ‘O.K., and what I’ve got for you is 25 percent of your cost to attend here.’

“And no one believes you, but that’s a good Division I baseball scholarship. You have to convince his parents that you’re being really fair.”

The current cost to attend Villanova is nearly $45,000 a year, and it has cost more than $35,000 since 2003. The average N.C.A.A. Division I baseball scholarship, compiled from 2003-4 statistics obtained from the N.C.A.A., is worth $7,069.

“It’s like we have a salary cap from the professional sports model,” said Godri, whose baseball program can dole out the equivalent of six full scholarships across four years. “Except we’re dealing in thousands, not millions, and we have to stretch it across 25 or 30 kids.”

Working against these college coaches is a perception in the hyper and driven youth sports culture that scholarship money is plentiful. Online recruiting services and private counselors promote the notion that some athletic scholarships go unclaimed.

In interviews with more than 20 college coaches and administrators at two representative N.C.A.A. Division I institutions, Villanova and the University of Delaware, the coaches said they routinely encountered parents with an almost irrational desire to have their children earn some kind of athletic scholarship. Sometimes the amount is irrelevant, as long as the child can attend his or her high school’s national letter of intent signing day and be feted in the local newspapers as a scholarship athlete.

“Parents say to me all the time: ‘Can’t you just throw her something? Just make her feel good,’ ” said Joanie Milhous, the Villanova field hockey coach. “I have to explain I don’t have money to throw around. I think these families have just invested so much in private lessons, tutors and camps, they can’t stand the thought of getting nothing at all back financially.”

The Delaware men’s track coach, Jim Fischer, added: “I’m somewhat amazed that the question of scholarship money always comes up, even when it’s an athlete I haven’t shown much interest in and who clearly isn’t a college-level player. When I meet with them, I sit there thinking, this parent will never even ask about money because their kid would have trouble making some high school teams. But you know what? They ask for money, too.”

Other coaches said athletes or their parents tried to be too wily in their scholarship negotiations.

“Families will try to play the coaches off each other,” said Kim Ciarrocca, who coaches women’s lacrosse at Delaware. “They’ll say that they’ve got a half or full scholarship offer from some school and want us to match it. What they don’t know is that we coaches all talk to each other, and we know the truth.”

She added: “We will call the other coach and ask, ‘Hey, did you offer that kid a full ride?’ When the answer is no, that kid might have lost the interest of two coaches.”

Tim Shaffer for The New York Times
Villanova’s baseball coach, Joe Godri, says money is limited.

Godri said parents sometimes are misled by advisers who use the high-profile sports of football or basketball as a model for how to play the recruiting game. That is a mistake, Godri said, because the money in the nonrevenue sports is limited.

“The first thing people have to understand is that they are probably not going to recoup the money they’ve already spent on their kid’s athletic career,” Godri said. “But that’s what they are told. People get exploited. I wish people would relax and talk frankly to coaches. I’d tell them to lower their expectations, and everything will probably work out fine for all concerned.”

At the same time, the coaches concede that there is a competitive nature to the recruiting system and that they are not above using tactics to sway or hurry high school athletes in their decision-making.

Ciarrocca’s husband, Kirk, is an assistant football coach at Delaware. They discuss recruiting strategies.

“I think all the women’s sports have learned from the men’s sports, and right or wrong, we now do some of the things they do,” Ciarrocca said.

For example, if she is looking for a goalie, she might bring to campus each of her top three potential recruits at the position in the space of a few days. She said she would tell them that there were three players, that all three had been on campus recently and that they had a week to decide whether to attend Delaware. The first player to commit gets the scholarship money. The others do not.

“I’ve waited patiently in the past,” Ciarrocca said, “and lost all three.”

Coaches said the rules of this recruiting engagement were understood by anyone who had been in the game before. That is why coaches say they are happiest when they make their first call to a recruit’s home and find out the object of their attention had an older sibling who was recruited by colleges.

“Those people understand the landscape,” Milhous said. “If it’s the oldest child, I know it’s going to be harder.”

Among the principal things families do not know, the coaches said, is that there is a lot more money available outside athletics in the form of grants, loans and other institutional aid. In many cases, the athletic aid will be a piece of the financial package.

“The athletic money can also increase over time, because a good 17-year-old player can grow into a great 19-year-old player, and just about any coach will want to recognize that and keep the player happy,” said Godri, who has had two recent graduates drafted in the second round of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft.

For that reason, most coaches treat their pool of scholarship money as a reserve that must be strategically invested like a stock portfolio. And like a stock plan, it can be drastically affected by unforeseen outside forces — in this case, injuries and academic ineligibility. Other factors are the attrition of graduation and an always volatile position depth chart.

“Sometimes you have to try to predict the future, and if you think it’s easy, you’ve never done it,” Godri said. “This is why when a parent says to me, ‘You must have more money,’ I can say with a clear conscience, ‘There ain’t no more money.’ ”

Every coach interviewed said the battle over scholarship dollars would go more smoothly if parents and athletes did their homework and knew how few full scholarships the N.C.A.A. allowed in each sport (11.7 for baseball, 12 for field hockey, for example) and how few Division I institutions actually funded sports to those levels (far less than half). Most said there was an overemphasis on the potential financial benefit of a child’s athletic success.

“What they should be doing is attending the games of a college they are considering,” Milhous said. “Go sit with the parents of the current players. That will tell you everything. By the end of the game, they’ll know everything — good or bad. And that’s what really matters.

“But people tend to just focus on the money. They chase the scholarship and I’ve had several families come back to me a year or two later and say, ‘Chasing the money was a mistake.’ It sounds like a cliché, but there’s a lot more to being a happy college athlete than how much money you get. The money alone won’t make you happy.”

Griffin Palmer contributed reporting.

Book Review: Sins of the Assassin & More

[I highly recommend all three books mentioned in this article as well as Andrew Britton's three novels: The American, The Assassin and The Invisible. If you like the work of Robert Ferrigno, Vince Flynn and Stephen Hunter, then I guarantee you will enjoy Britton's books. - jtf]

By David Forsmark
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sins of the Assassin
By Robert Ferrigno
Scribners, $24.95, 400 pp.

As if I needed another reason why I'm glad to not be Canadian — besides its health system — it turns out I would likely run afoul of the ironically named "Canadian Human Rights Commission."

Like the incomparable Mark Steyn, I gave a rave review to Robert Ferrigno's Prayers for the Assassin, an enormously entertaining speculative suspense novel. Who knew that could be prima facie evidence of a hate crime in the Great White North?

Most readers of this column know the Canadian Human Rights Commission is persecuting Steyn, a noted columnist and blogger. What's not so well known is that the complaint filed against Steyn points out he gave a good review to Ferrigno's novel, supposedly a "known Islamophobic book." In doing so, it is alleged, Steyn violated the complainants' "sense of dignity and self-worth."

This concerns me, as my first positive review of a novel for Frontpage after joining up in January 2006 was a rave review of Prayers, a darkly satiric and suspenseful actioner about a future in which most of America is governed as an Islamic republic after a terrorist nuclear attack and a brutal civil war.

Now, I'm about to become a repeat offender by reporting that Sins of the Assassin, Ferrigno's sequel to Prayers, is just as much fun, every bit as thought-provoking -- and potentially inflammatory -- as the first book in his planned trilogy.

So, until I find out if this free-speech-squelching outfit goes after only Canadians, I better avoid a couple of nearby border bridges to Ontario and hope that Michigan's ultra-liberal Canadian-born governor doesn't have an extradition agreement with the "Human Rights" Commission.

In Ferrigno's futuristic scenario, a decadent and spiritually moribund America is seduced by Islam's "bright light and clear answer" after acts of nuclear terrorism that level New York and Washington, D.C., are falsely blamed on Israel.

At the 21st century's mid-point, the Islamic States of America dominates the former U.S. territory, but it's not quite strong enough to conquer the Bible Belt, which roughly comprises the states of the old Confederacy.

It turns out a considerable amount of pre-Islamic America's spiritual and moral decline was due to not only the nuclear strike but also the machinations of a wahhabist Saudi zillionaire known as The Old One.

"It had been his money, filtered through numerous fronts, that had financed the think tanks and jihadi legal defense teams … all the useful idiots. It had been his money that had funded politicians and religious figures, compliant judges and radical journalists, billions of dollars in honoraria, with presidential libraries and foundations in particular targeted. That was the carrot. … There was also the stick. Hard-line military leaders discredited. Evangelicals mocked. Curious investigators framed or fired. Or worse."

But domestic spiritual decline was only half the cause. America also was weakened by those who held the idea of projecting power to protect liberty in contempt. In Ferrigno's future, the mainstream media's undermining of the Iraq War was a key turning point:

"The U.S. Military won every battle, but they had no voice, no message that could be heard. The Old One's servants monitored every TV station and never saw a hero, only the dead. A war without heroes, without victories. Only petty atrocities inflated for all the world to see, clucked over by millionaire news anchors and fatuous movie stars. Their president himself apologized. We must show that we are more humane than the terrorists, he said. As though the wolf should apologize for having sharper teeth than the rabbit. Good fortune beyond the Old One's wildest dreams, an enemy who wanted to be loved. Be ashamed of the war and soon you will be ashamed of the warriors — the warriors got that message soon enough."

But Sins of the Assassin is an adventure yarn, not a polemic. And while the scenarios Ferrigno invents are the most fun to talk about, it is the white-knuckle action, unpredictable plot twists and engaging (and sinister) characters that make the novel such fun to read.

Rakkim Epps, a scientifically enhanced superwarrior from a unit known as Fedayeen, is the hero of the series. Rakkim has sworn loyalty to the moderate Muslim president of the ISA but is doubtful of his professed faith. Rakkim once did a long undercover stint in the Bible Belt and is attracted to the measure of individual freedom he found there (and the food).

His new assignment is to penetrate the Bible Belt and discover what a charismatic character known as the Colonel is digging for in the Smoky Mountains with the help of a Fedayeen defector named Moseby (the first of many historical allusions for history buffs).

Along for the ride is Leo, a teenaged techno-geek whose job is to evaluate whether the Colonel has uncovered a doomsday device hidden by the U.S. military as the old order fell apart. This sets up an entertaining personal dynamic not unlike that in last summer's Bruce Willis movie, Live Free or Die Hard, as the team navigates through some really rough situations in the back woods.

Thirty years of war and stalemate have radicalized many of the militias, and bandits roam the hill country. The extremely weak central government is holding on by letting Chinese and Brazilian corporations pillage the South's natural resources. Nonetheless, the secular-minded Leo and the increasingly skeptical Rakkim are still impressed by the high degree of personal autonomy the Southerners enjoy, thanks in large part to the nature of their Christian faith —though more radical charismatic offshoots are becoming the order of the day.

Unfortunately, Rakkim discovers too late that his divide-and-conquer scheme to secure the Colonel's discovery has, in effect, set the modern equivalent of Quantrill against a Robert E. Lee-like figure who might be the key to re-uniting America into a single country again.

Meanwhile, back in the ISA, the Old One is preparing to make a comeback after his bitter defeat by Rakkim and his wife Sarah in Prayers. Even in a constitutionally "moderate" Islamic state, a takeover by radical Islamists seems to never be more than one bullet away.

Second books in trilogies are always the trickiest, but Sins is even more seamlessly written than Prayers even if it doesn't have quite the "WOW!" factor you get from your first introduction to Ferrigno's fascinating vision.

Novels about future dystopias are generally a pretty glum group, but the Assassin novels ultimately are remarkably optimistic. Beneath the war, disaster and a divide that makes the Civil War look like a family squabble, Ferrigno has faith that Americanism and the American spirit would survive and not allow itself to lie on the ash heap of history.

When we first meet Rakkim, he reminds us of Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko, a principled Russian cop who's the hero of Gorky Park -- a foreigner whose quest for justice while serving a tyrannical regime makes us cheer. By the end of Sins, we realize Rakkim is brilliant twist on the outwardly cynical but ultimately heroic and idealistic American tough guy.

Ferrigno, the author of eight splendid Southern California noirish crime thrillers, says he plans only a trilogy in the Assassins series. However, I think fans would agree Rakkim Epps has the potential for a more enduring run.

Rapping the Ayatollah

Speaking of American tough guys, Mitch Rapp is back in Vince Flynn's latest Protect and Defend (Atria, $26.95), and he's taking on Iran in ways that cause great consternation among D.C. liberals and the kind of obstructionist bureaucrats Ken Timmerman calls "shadow warriors."

Protect and Defend is Flynn's best book in a while, as Rapp, America's favorite dog of war, is unleashed on Islamist terrorists on foreign soil — or, actually, he slips his leash.

After a saboteur spectacularly destroys the Iranian nuclear program that doesn't exist, a new liberal president is suckered into sending CIA chief Irene Kennedy, Rapp's mentor, to a secret "peace" meeting with "moderate" Iranian forces. When Kennedy is kidnapped in a daring rogue operation engineered by Iranian President Ahmadinejad — oops, I mean Amahtullah — Rapp knows America will have no secrets left if he can't get to her in time. At least that's his excuse to wreak havoc on bad guys in order to save his friend.

Flynn's fans will get everything they want from a Mitch Rapp adventure. Beginning with Rapp calmly assassinating an American traitor aboard a luxurious yacht, to his "forceful interrogation" methods that involve a lot more than a wet washcloth, and comaxing with a raid on a radical mosque in violation of the rules of engagement; there is no doubt. Rapp is back.

American Samurai

The awful Mark Wahlberg movie Shooter isn't exactly the best selling point for Stephen Hunter's latest novel, The 47th Samurai, (Simon & Schuster, $26) which is the taut and thrillling continuation of the Bob Lee Swagger series that started with Point of Impact, the book on which Shooter was based.

Shooter's grating Michael Moore-like speeches and the cynical blood-for-oil plot were a complete invention of the filmmakers. Hunter, the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for the Washington Post, has always been interested in exploring what makes the American fighting man so special in the history of arms. Thus. unlike the film, the worldview of this great action series is akin to Victor Davis Hanson, not Howard Zinn.

The novel begins with Bob Lee undertaking a seemingly simple task: He wants to return the samurai sword his father took from a dead opponent on Iwo Jima to the soldier's surviving son. Instead, Swagger gets mixed up with the Japanese underworld and a warrior cult determined to recover a sacred sword. While Bob Lee finds much to admire in the strength and honor code of the samurai, he also learns about its limitations in rigid obedience and lack of individual initiative and moral choices.

Bob Lee Swagger may be an extraordinary warrior, but he also stands as a common American archetype — the soldier who comes from a small town, likes tinkering with guns and hunting and believes defending his country is a family tradition that's as natural as breathing.

The plot of The 47th Samurai follows a similar path to the underrated Robert Mitchum classic, The Yakuza. And if you think too hard, you might decide that Hunter takes his Hanson-like thesis about the superiority of the Western way of war a bridge too far.

But if you indulge in just a smidgen of suspension disbelief you'll find The 47th Samurai to be one of the most enjoyable reading experiences of the year.

Robert Ferrigno dedicates Sins of the Assassin to the post 9-11 Medal of Honor recipients; but I guarantee you that all three of these authors would join ranks over this sentiment:

"To Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith
Corporal Jason L. Dunham
Lt. Michael Murphy
and to all the other warriors who sleep badly.
so that the rest of us can sleep well."

Roger that.