Men of God
                 created 7/06
                  updated 2/17
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Andrew Sullivan on Trump (2/17)
        Evangelicals have broadly supported Trump since he was nominated in spite of the fact, and this is indisputable, that he lies all the time. Lies intended nearly always to flatter him, to show was a big shit he is. When challenged, he often includes an ad-hominem attack that is crude, extreme and frequently absurd.  Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr has been a strong supporter from the beginning and has now been appointed by Trump to lead a study of regulations governing for-profit colleges. Can you say 'conflict of interest' since the huge number of (high profit) online students at Liberity makes it one of the largest for-profit colleges in the country.

       Probably a hundred political writer have weighed in on what a lying SOB and mini-dictator Trump has shown himself to be, but I like the writing of Andrew Sullivan who for 15 years blogged daily. Well, Sullivan, sucked in by the antics and danger of Trump, is back and has begun writing weekly column on NYMag site. Here he is on Trump in his first column.

        (All politicians lie, but) "Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality — and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum. They are attacks on the very possibility of a reasoned discourse, the kind of bald-faced lies that authoritarians issue as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission. That first press conference when Sean Spicer was sent out to lie and fulminate to the press about the inauguration crowd reminded me of some Soviet apparatchik having his loyalty tested to see if he could repeat in public what he knew to be false. It was comical, but also faintly chilling."

         "None of this, (like Trump's REPEATED claim that the'murder rate in our country is the highest it's been in 45 to 47 years, whereas nationally it's about half of what it was in 1980), moreover, is ever corrected. No error is ever admitted. Any lie is usually doubled down by another lie — along with an ad hominem (crude) attack."  (And I would add repeated promises made by Trump during the campaign, like the specifications of the wall, are now just quietly 'forgotten'.)

        That evangelicals would trade their principles for access to political power by supporting this narcissistic, crude, ignorant, 'don't bother me with details', non-religious, potential mini-dictator, lying SOB is extremely revealing.  Does this give a clue as to the kind of people evangelicals really are?

Poparini (2/13/17)
        Let's not forget the catholics. The New York Times has an editorial today about a detailed report of priest abuse of minors in Australia and the wide ranging cover-up. I don't follow this issue closely, but from what I read this same basic scandal has been widespread in many countries across the world for decades, including US, Ireland and Australia.  So the obvious question is this:

        Church --- How could the (various) popes not have known about this widespread priest minor abuse problem?  Especially since the church requires for the job a rigid extreme policy that priests be and remain celibate, which goes against the grain of human nature.
        Reminds me of the diesel scandal engulfing Volkswagen, the largest car company in the world. The issue here being that the superior diesel technology that Volkswagen claimed to have developed and used in millions of its cars was fraudulent. It could achieve very low emissions and good performance, just not at the same time! So the obvious question for the CEO of Volkswagen at the time this came to light is this:
        Volkswagen --- How could the Volkswagen CEO (Martin Winterkorn) not have known that the company's heavily advertised and profitable diesel technology was fraudulent? Especially since he comes out of engineering (Phd in metal physics). I find it curious that a few days after the scandal hit the headlines the Volkswagen CEO, after checking his pension of course, issues a vague non-denial, and ran like a scare rabbit! But popes can't run can they.... 
Jimmy Swaggart (music) ministries (10/16)
        I have a limited cable package and because it has few commercials and lots of music I have spent a lot of hour watching SBN (SunLife Broadcasting), the "Christian Television Network of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries". What amazes me is the scale of the operation. Swaggart has a huge stable of performers. There must be dozens of featured soloists. While the size of the ensemble varies, usually there is a large orchestra orchestra, many of whom are highly skilled musicians, a big choir (35 in one photo), and an audience. And all this group comes together and performs in his TV studio in Baton Rouge, LA. (The web site of his collage says there is HUGE church on the property (7000 seats!), but it looks to me like the TV shows come from a separate, but quite large, TV studio.) Also the music they perform is amazing diverse, nothing seems to be repeated, every song is new to me, most upbeat and pretty good, never an organ. I guess this is a sampling of modern christian music, about which I know nothing. How is all this possible?

        Are the musicians and singers paid? A photo gallery on his site shows only about a dozen singers and musicians, but in recent months I have seem far, far more singers than this. Also Swaggart has been doing this musical extravaganzas for years. They have been pulling archival footage out of their vaults showing similar performances, one on the road in NY, in 1985, which is 31 years ago! And unlike some other religious channels the Swaggart team has a staggering 24 hours a day of programing, seven days a week to fill, and everything I see seems to me to be produced by his team. As I write, there is some young guy, who I have never seen before, preaching on the stage which is empty (no orchestra, no choir), except over in the corner Swaggart and his wife and son Donnie are sitting and listening. Donnie Swaggart, Jimmy's only son, is a preacher associated with the ministry too. Jimmy (born 1935) married at 17 to his present wife who at the time was 15 (deep  south!), so while I can't find Donnie's birth date, he is probably in his early 60s. A few minutes later, the young preacher has finished, and now Jimmy is center stage singing with eight featured singers, the full orchestra and full choir behind him. It's all very polished. The camera rarely shows the audience, but a view from the rear of the orchestra show it's easily more than a hundred people.

        Jimmy's home church is the Family Worship Center, Baton Rouge, LA (8919 World Ministry Ave 70810). Google Earth shows across the street an ugly concrete monolith labelled World Evangelism Bible  College, which Wikipedia says in not accredited. Swaggart is now 81 years old, but he is seen frequently playing the piano and singing, as well as preaching. I see Jimmy on the TV far more often than Donnie.

         Even though I have heard Swaggart (and his son) 'preach' a lot, I knew little of his beliefs. Only recently did I learn that he thinks evolution is a fraud, and this was just for an offhand comment during his preaching. Looking at this site, there's a list of a dozen or so principles of belief, but there's nothing about evolution there. In his list of beliefs I see healing is mentioned and "The Bible is the inspired and only infallible and authoritative written Word of God." whatever the hell that means. I presume from Jimmy's evolution comment, they take it literally. A list of (supposed) Swaggart quotes has this: "Evolution is a bankrupt speculative philosophy, not a scientific fact. Only a spiritually bankrupt society could ever believe it. Only atheists could accept this Satanic theory."

What we believe

        "One of their (Democratic) leaders had been hanging around the camp of another preacher man, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. — a nutball like (Pat) Robertson, blaming America for bringing on the horrid attack (9/11). What is it with these men of God?" (Timothy Egan, NYT Op Ed Columnist, Mar 22, 2008)

Sullivan on Islam (post Boston bombing)
        What distinguishes Islam is that its founder practiced violence, whereas Jesus quite obviously favored the exact opposite – nonviolence to the point of accepting one’s own death. Unlike Christianity, but like Judaism, Islam also claims sacred land, and, along with extremist forms of Judaism, the divine right to repel intruders from it. Religion is dangerous enough. A religion founded by a violent figure, with territorial claims, and whose values are at direct odds with modernity is extra-dangerous. Which other major world religion believes that apostates should be killed? Or regards negative depictions of the Prophet as worthy of a death sentence?

        As I wrote more than a decade ago now:

        The terrorists’ strain of Islam is clearly not shared by most Muslims and is deeply unrepresentative of Islam’s glorious, civilized and peaceful past. But it surely represents a part of Islam — a radical, fundamentalist part — that simply cannot be ignored or denied.
Discussion of Islam from Sam Harris and Sullivan's blog following Boston Marathon bombing
        Sullivan's excerpt of a long Harris response:
        (Harris) Which is to say that even if Noam Chomsky were right about everything, the Islamic doctrines related to martyrdom, jihad, blasphemy, apostasy, the rights of women and homosexuals, etc. would still present huge problems for the emergence of a global civil society.

        (Sullivan) How can one seriously deny that? All religions contain elements of this kind of fanaticism. But Islam’s fanatical side – from the Taliban to the Tsarnaevs – is more murderous than most.

Views of Sam Harris, famous atheist and neuroscientist":
       Because I consider Islam to be especially belligerent and inimical to the norms of civil discourse, my views are often described as “racist” by my critics.
         My condemnation applies to the doctrines of Islam and to the ways in which they reliably produce these “bad acts.” Unfortunately, in the case of Islam, the bad acts of the worst individuals—the jihadists, the murderers of apostates, and the men who treat their wives and daughters like chattel—are the best examples of the doctrine in practice.

        What, for instance, is the penalty for apostasy? Interestingly, it isn’t spelled out in the Koran—there, apostates are merely promised their just deserts in hell—but it is made painfully clear in the hadith, and in the opinions of Muslim jurists and Muslim mobs everywhere. The year is 2013, and the penalty for apostasy, everywhere under Islam, is death. I have yet to meet an apologist for the religion, however evasive, who could lie about this fact with a straight face.

        The freedom to poke fun at Mormonism is guaranteed by the fact that Mormons do not dispatch assassins to silence their critics or summon murderous hordes in response to satire. As I have pointed out before, when The Book of Mormon became the most celebrated musical of the year, the LDS Church protested by placing ads for the faith in Playbill. A wasted effort, perhaps: but this was a genuinely charming sign of good humor, given the alternatives. What are the alternatives? Can any reader of this page imagine the staging of a similar play about Islam in the United States, or anywhere else, in the year 2013? No you cannot—unless you also imagine the creators of this play being hunted for the rest of their lives by religious maniacs.

        At this moment in history, there is only one religion that systematically stifles free expression with credible threats of violence. The truth is, we have already lost our First Amendment rights with respect to Islam—and because they brand any observation of this fact a symptom of Islamophobia, Muslim apologists like Greenwald are largely to blame.

        Some percentage of the world’s Muslims—Five percent? Fifteen? Fifty? It’s not yet clear—are demanding that all non-Muslims conform to the strictures of Islamic law. And where they do not immediately resort to violence in their protests, they threaten it. Carrying a sign that reads “Behead Those Who Insult the Prophet” may still count as an example of peaceful protest, but it is also an assurance that infidel blood would be shed if the imbecile holding the placard only had more power. This grotesque promise is, of course, fulfilled in nearly every Muslim society.

         Religion only works as a pretext for political violence because many millions of people actually believe what they say they believe: that imaginary crimes like blasphemy and apostasy are killing offenses.

        ... all the other barbarism in the Muslim world that has its origins in religion. Was the fatwa against Salman Rushdie the result of foreign occupation? The Danish cartoon controversy? The calls for blood over a poorly named teddy bear? The movement to hang atheist bloggers in Bangladesh? What about the internecine murders of apostates in Pakistan (accomplished, all too often, by suicide bombers)? The ubiquitous abuse of women?

        Finally, as I regularly emphasize when discussing Islam, no one is suffering under its doctrine more than Muslims themselves: Muslim jihadists primarily kill other Muslims. And the laws against apostasy, blasphemy, idolatry, and other forms of peaceful expression diminish the freedoms of Muslims far more than those of non-Muslims living in the West. ... And any way in which I might be biased or blinded by “the religion of the state,” or any other form of cultural indoctrination, has absolutely no relevance to the plight of Shiites who have their mosques, weddings, and funerals bombed by Sunni extremists, or to victims of rape who are beaten, imprisoned, or even killed as “adulteresses” throughout the Muslim world.

        Liberals like Greenwald, who are so eager to swing the flail of Islamophobia, display a sickening insensitivity to the plight of women, homosexuals, and freethinkers throughout the Muslim world. At this moment, millions of women and girls have been abandoned to illiteracy, compulsory marriage, and lives of slavery and abuse under the guise of “multiculturalism” and “religious sensitivity.” And the most liberal Muslim minds are forced into hiding.

         Suicidal terrorism is overwhelmingly a Muslim phenomenon. My position on (airport) profiling is very simple: We should admit that we know what we are looking for (suicidal terrorists) and that certain people obviously require less scrutiny than others. We should scan everyone’s luggage, of course, because bombs can be placed there without a person’s knowledge. But given scarce resources, we can’t afford to waste our time and attention pretending to think that every traveler is equally likely to be affiliated with al Qaeda.

        It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry?

        We must come to terms with the possibility that men who are every bit as zealous to die as the nineteen hijackers may one day get their hands on long-range nuclear weaponry. ... . There are a significant number of people in the Muslim world for whom the slogan “We love death more than the infidel loves life” appears to be an honest statement of psychological fact, and we must do everything in our power to prevent them from getting long-range nuclear weapons.

        Indeed, it is telling that the people who speak with the greatest moral clarity about the current wars in the Middle East are members of the Christian right, whose infatuation with biblical prophecy is nearly as troubling as the ideology of our enemies. Religious dogmatism is now playing both sides of the board in a very dangerous game. ... The whole purpose of that essay (written in 2006) was to express my concern that the political correctness of the Left has made it taboo to even notice the menace of political Islam, leaving only right-wing fanatics to do the job.

        (Wikipedia) While Harris is "extremely critical of all religious faiths", he asserts that the doctrines of Islam are uniquely dangerous to civilization, stating that unlike Jainism, Islam "is not even remotely a 'religion of peace'", (which both George Bush and Tony Blair have so stated).

60 thousand horsemen attack Jerusalem!
        Heard about this on a PBS biblical archeological show looking for evidence of King Soloman 1,000 years before christ. It quoted without comment 2nd Chronicles 12:3 describing an attack on Jerusalem by an Egyptian king as follows:
"with twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand horsemen and the innumerable troops of Libyans, Sukkites and Cushites that came with him from Egypt, the Lumim, the Sukkiim, and the Ethiopians."
        I checked a few biblical translations and yup they all say 60 thousand horsemen (not to mention 1,200 chariots). Really, 60,000 horsemen? Presumably this is 60,000 men on 60,000 horses. Did a google search and found not a single reference to the absurdity of this number.
        A recent PBS special on the chariot gave a little history. No mention that at this time (1,000 BC) men rode horses, perhaps the saddle had not invented. (Yup, Wikipedia says, "The earliest known saddle-like equipment were fringed cloths or pads used by Assyrian cavalry around 700 BC.") The implication was horses were just (or mainly) used to pull chariots. If so, that would mean 'horsemen' refers to those who rode on the chariots.  (Shows how little I know!) OK, but internally there's a big problem here: horesmen or chariot guys outnumber chariots by x50 to 1! Even allowing for 3 or 4 man chariots, what are the other 55 thousand 'horsemen' doing, walking?
        So evangelical biblical types really believe that egypt rounded up an army of 60,000 men and something like 60,000 horses plus 1,200 chariots to march 250 miles through desert (maybe 3,000 years ago it wasn't desert) from Cairo to Jerusalem keeping both the men and horses fed? Don't think there's maybe a little number inflation here? For reference largest battle of the ancient world in Roman times (excluding China) is generally considered to be Catalaunian fields, which is about 1,000 years after the 2nd Chronicles 12:3 attack, estimated to have been 50,000 men on each side. Idiots...

Not the only large numbers
        After writing above, I stumbled on a KJV concordance and realized above is just the tip of the iceberg. A search for the word 'thousand' yields hundreds of returns. Dozens of these are counts of men in war or numbers of animals scrificed.

Men at war
        200,000,  250,000, 400,000, 500,000, 630,000, 800,000

Chariots and horsemen
     Samuel 13:5  Philistines fighting Israel had 30,000 chariots
     Kings 4:26     Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 thousand horsemen
     Samuel 2 10-18  David slew 40,000 horsemen

        Just saw a PBS special where two Egyptian chariot were built and it was a huge effort. Building one is a real exercise in wood steam bending, since most pieces of it are bent into complex shapes, including all the spokes of the wheels. 30,000 chariots means 60,000 horses (or more since some chariots used 3 or 4 horses) to pull them.

Animals sacrificed
King 8-63    Solomon offered a sacrifice of 20,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep
Chronicles  7:5    sacrifice of 22,000 oxen
Kings 2 3-4   rendered unto the king of Israel a 100,000 lambs, and 100,000 rams
Chronicles  5:21   they took away of their camels 50,000, of sheep 250,000


Rev Pat Robertson
         Well known TV preacher, founder and chairman of Christian Broadcasting Network,  who claims to have leg pressed 2,000 lbs (one time ) when he was over age 70.  Some people are a more than a little skeptical (see Slate link below).

        Link below gets you to a CBN video showing Robertson, at age 74 and saying he has not been on the machine recently, leg pressing 1,000 lbs with some difficulty and with poor form.

         Note the video shows the machine is angled at what looks like 45 degrees. If it is 45 degrees, a little trigonometry reveals that the Robertson's legs are actually holding 70.7% of the weight on the bar, or 707 lbs when there is 1,000 lbs on the machine.

Key Lay
        Bible spouting Enron Chairman of Board/CEO and convicted lying sonofabitch.

        "Lay was found guilty of 10 counts of conspiracy, fraud and misusing personal bank loans" (CNN)  "In the funeral for corporate thief and crook, Ken Lay, we have a spectacular display of what is wrong with contemporary Republicanism. We have the famiglia (family) paying their respects to a loyal money-man - Bush senior, Baker, Mosbacher. And we have the exoneration of malfeasance (by Rev Bill Lawson at First United Methodist Church in Houston) by the Christianist doctrine that if you're on our side, you can do no wrong." (Time magazine blog)

Rev Martin Luther King
        Preacher and civil rights leader who plagiarized much of his doctoral dissertation. Hence King's Ph.D. was fraudulently obtained, and in passing off the work of others as his own, a petty little man.

        "When our research was published in June 1991 in the Journal of American History, the  article made clear that King's plagiarism was (not a youthful indiscretion, but) a general pattern evident in nearly all of his academic  writings"  (Editors of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University).

For a detail discussion of King plagiarism see

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah & Sheik Nabil Qaouk
         Nasrallah is the leader of Hezbollah. It was Hezbollah in association with Iran that blew up Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996 killing 19 American serviceman and in 1980's killed 241 US serviceman in a suicide bombing in Lebanon.. Qaouk is commander of Hezbollah forces in the southern Lebanon. Both are jew hating sonofabitches and world class terrorists.

         Nasrallah is a devoted Muslim and has spent periods of his life studying at religious centers in Iraq.  “Islam is not a simple religion including only praises and prayers, rather it is a divine message that was designed for humanity, and it can answer any question man might ask concerning his general and private life. Islam is a religion designed for a society that can revolt and build a state.” (Nasrallah quote from Wikipedia, currently uncredited)

Here is the home of the Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah after Israeli warplanes finished
with it early Sunday (7/23/06) in the southern suburbs of Beirut. (International Herald Tribune photo)

       Sheik Qaouk wears the robes and turban of a Shiite religious leader, indeed, he  studied religion for more than 10 years in the Iranian holy city of Qom. --- Ted Koppel in New York Times, July 21, 2006

        Tom Friendman in NYT  (7/28/06) --- " ( Hezbollah) a religious militia that calls itself  the party of God'"

'Moderate' Muslims' on Killing Jews
         The only difference, (Goldberg) said, between the terrorists and the “moderate” Islamic supremacists that Gerecht would empower is that the terrorists want to kill all Americans and all Jews, whereas the moderates only want to kill all the Jews. --- New York Times columnist David Brooks, July 20, 2006, quoting Jeffrey Goldberg in a debate with Reuel Gerecht on Middle East at Pew Forum on Religion meeting 2005.

        Comic on Ed Sullivan show --- "a moderate arab is an arab who only holds a grudge for five generations"

        Tom Friendman in NYT (7/28/06) --- "(middle east is) mullahs with drones"

        David Brooks in NYT (7/30/06) --- The “moderate” Arabs are finding that if you spend a generation inciting hatred of Israel you will wind up prisoner to groups who hate Israel (like Hezbollah) more than you do.

        One of the best cartoon responding to the outrageous intolerance, which is putting it mildly since many people were threatened and killed, of Muslims to a few Danish cartoons.

Sharia law
   --- on beating your wife
        "When I (Goldberg) used to travel around this part of the world, whenever I talked to a cleric or an imam, one of the things I always would bring up is sharia's view – sharia being Islamic law and of course this is what all these guys want to impose on their societies is Islamic law – sharia's view of corporal punishment of wives. We know that the Islamists all share an understanding of the role of wives, which is to say that they believe that wives are a possession and a second-class citizen within a marriage and within a house. But nearly every single one I've spoken to admits or says openly that yes, according to Islamic tradition, it is the theologically granted right of a husband to beat his wife when she steps out of line. You go to bookstores and you can find many, many guides for men about how to control their wives. I bring this up because this is not just something I heard in madrassas in Afghanistan. This is something that you hear among highly educated clerics .. all across the Muslim world." --- Jeffrey Goldberg, Staff Writer, The New Yorker from a meeting of Pew Forum on Religion 2005

   --- punishment for drinking
        Sharia law imposed in 2005 in Banda Aceh providence Indonesia. In Indonesia, far from Arabia,  NYT characterized Muslim religion there this way,  "For centuries Indonesia has been known for the open-minded, sometimes freewheeling, interpretation of its dominant religion (Muslim).

        "In mid-July, a 27-year-old man sentenced (under Sharia law) to 40 lashes fainted on the seventh stroke of a rattan cane from a hooded man in the yard of a mosque here in the provincial capital. The caning was televised nationally, with an announcer reporting that the man, who had been arrested for drinking at a beachside stall, would receive the remainder of his punishment once he had recovered" 7/30/06 NYT

Muslims on converting to Christianity
        "The Prophet Muhammad has said several times that those who convert from Islam should be killed if they refuse to come back," says Ansarullah Mawlafizada, the (Afghan) trial judge. The Afghan judiciary is dominated by religious conservatives, many with strong religious ties or background. "Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance, kindness and integrity. That is why we have told him if he regrets what he did, then we will forgive him"  --- British Broadcasting Corp on March 2006 Afgan death sentence give to Abdul Rahman who is a Muslim convert to Christianity

        "In a country (Afghanistan, 80% Sunni Muslim and 19% Shia Muslim) where soldiers from all faiths, including Christianity, are dying in defense of your government, I find it outrageous that Mr. Rahman is being prosecuted and facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity" -- Rep. Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, wrote in a letter to Karzai (president of Afghanistan).

Sunni Muslims on Shia Muslims
        The two sheiks (Sheik Hamid al-Ali, a religious leader in Kuwait & Sheik Abdullah bin Jabreen, a prominent cleric in Saudi Arabia), like many Sunni militants, belong to the fundamentalist Salafiya branch of Islam, which regards Shiites as little better than non-Muslims. Osama bin Laden is a Salafist, as was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian jihadist who declared war on Shiites in Iraq and helped drag the country into its sectarian violence before he was killed by an American airstrike last month.   .. consider this (web) posting about Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah: “Let us explain that the party of Hassan Nasrallah, for us, is a party which has a Shia ideology. Thus, he is considered our enemy like our enemies the Jews, the Christians.” --- Edward Wong in New York Times, July 22, 2006

         Several of Al Qaeda’s ideologues (Sunni's) have issued official statements explaining Hezbollah’s (Shiites) actions and telling followers how to respond to them. The gist of their argument is that the Shiites are conspiring to destroy Islam and to resuscitate Persian imperial rule over the Middle East and ultimately the world. The ideologues label this effort the “Sassanian-Safavid conspiracy,” in reference to the Sassanians, a pre-Islamic Iranian dynasty, and to the Safavids, a Shiite dynasty that ruled Iran and parts of Iraq from 1501 till 1736. (Bernard Haykel, an associate professor of Islamic Studies at New York University in NYT 7/26/06)

What is the objective of Islamo-fascist Muslims?
        Al Qaeda or  Al-Qaida (Sunni) often states it objective in fighting is to bring back the Caliphate. In a recent video tape from  Al-Qaida's #2 man, Ayman al-Zawahri, they state their objective thusly:
        "It is a Jihad for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq" (and, of course, we want to kill as many jews (& Americans) as possible)
        "Muslims everywhere must rise up to attack "crusaders and Zionists" and support jihad (holy war) "until American troops are chased from Afghanistan and Iraq, paralyzed and impotent ... having paid the price for aggression against Muslims and support for Israel" (Al-Qaida video tape released 7/27/06 ).

Comparing Sunni & Shia Muslims
       A council of twelve scholars (ulema) elects a supreme Shia Imam. The best known modern example of the Shia supreme Imam is the late Ayyatollah Khomeni. The Shia Imam has come to be imbued with Pope-like infallibility and the Shia religious hierarchy is not dissimilar in structure and religious power to that of the Catholic Church within Christianity. Sunni Islam, in contrast, more closely resembles the myriad independent churches of American Protestantism. Sunnis do not have a formal clergy, just scholars and jurists, who may offer non-binding opinions. Shias believe that their supreme Imam is a fully spiritual guide and an inerrant interpreter of law and tradition.

 Shia and Sunni distribution map
        An interesting map on where Shia and Sunni live from US Central Intelligence.

Quran on Infidel
        What does the Quran and other Muslim teachings have to say about infidels?  Do infidels have rights? Is it OK to kill them?  Who knows, not me. Like many religious books the Quran is written in an elliptical, repetitive style with variations that is subject to a range of interpretations. Quite a few people find the Quran, which is strangely organized by the text length of its revelations, to be unreadable.

But you can find in the Quran stuff like this:

      8:12  I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.     Quran chapter 8

        So is it just a coincidence that Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg, both jews (and infidels), along with many other non-muslims were publicly beheaded by Islamo-fascist terrorists, and chopping off fingers is now a favorite form of Muslim torture used by Sudam too?

Bible on killing your son
        You can find stuff like this in the bible... "This son of ours is disloyal and defiant. He does not heed us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Thereupon the men of his town shall stone him to death.” (Deuteronomy 21)

        In reference to above David Plotz on Slate (9/13/06) asks, 'What are we supposed to make of these son-killing guidelines?  And he adds, "It's particularly unsettling that Deuteronomy calmly condones the murder of children."

       NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, NYT columnist on the bible's child killing guidelines --- "The Koran and Bible alike have passages that make 21st-century readers flinch; most Christians just ignore sections on slavery or admonitions to kill a disobedient child." (Dec 10, 2006)

        Is your preacher preaching on the bible's child killing guidelines? Why not?

Here is the bible's  'son killing guidelines'  in context from two bibical translations.

Deuteronomy 21, verses 18-21 (New International version)
           18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." 21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

Deuteronomy 21, verses 18-21 (King James version)
         18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
         19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
         20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
         21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Bible on more reasons to kill
         "Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death." (Exodus 21:17)
        “If anyone insults his father or mother, he shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 20)
        “Whoever does work on it [the Sabbath] shall be put to death.” (Exodus 35)
        “And to the Israelite woman, speak thus: Anyone who blasphemes God shall bear his guilt; if he also pronounces the name Lord, he shall be put to death. The whole community shall stone him.” (Leviticus 24)

Bible on beating your slaves
         "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property. (Exodus 21:20-21)

Bible on ethnic cleansing
        David Plotz in Slate 10/4/06 discusses Joshua Chap 10 where in town after town the Israelites kill every man, women, and child, so they can take over the land.

        "Joshua took Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed every person in it; he left no one remaining …"
        "Then Joshua passed on … to Libnah … He struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left no one remaining in it …"
        "To Lacshish … He took it on the second day, and struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it …"
        "Gezer … Joshua struck him and his people, leaving him no survivors …"
        "To Eglon … [They] struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it he utterly destroyed that day …."

        Yes indeed, it's kill, kill, kill, beat that slave, and ethnic cleansing too!

Christian Jesus fantasy story
        When you look at the documentation of the story of Jesus, as revealed by 2,000 years of biblical scholarship, what you find is about as believable as Joseph Smith in 1830 in New York coming up with the book of Mormon by using (magic) stones to translate buried gold plates he found written in an unknown language in a hill behind his house.

        The Mormon/Smith translation story in detail is even more fantastic than the short version above. Smith used friends to help him with the gold plates' 'translation' because he had only a 3rd grade education. The transcription of the plates using the stones (in some versions 'translation spectacles') was done with Smith sitting behind a partition and 'reading' plates aloud to a scribe on the opposite side of the partition. The dictation manuscript was later cleaned up by Smith and friends, which suggests possible joint authorship.

        The story gets even weirder. After two months of work Smith and his scribe had the first 116 pages written out, but these 116 pages never made it into the Book of Mormon. They got 'lost' when the dictation man's skeptical wife made off with them. Now, of course, if the plate translation was not a hoax, the gold plates could just be retranslated and two versions should match, right?. But surprise, surprise!  Smith said a second translation wasn't possible, but, mirabile dictu, an angel showed up with more gold plates that covered the same material thus filling the gap. Yes, isn't god great.

        A further twist of the story is when Smith started translating again, he dictated up a storm going about five times faster than before, dictating the 500 page Book of Mormon in about two months. Do you suppose that the ten months he took off between the two translations (maybe to compose!) had anything to do with this?  Of course, during the whole time nobody but Smith ever saw the gold plates, and when the translation was finished an angel spirited the plates away. Pretty convenient, heh? The Book of Mormon affirms that 11 witnesses had seen the gold plates, but their later testimony is that they had seen the plates only with their "spiritual eyes". Oh, yea! And on this nonsense a large modern religion was built.

        In a recent book long time Mormon, Grant H. Palmer, has laid out the historical facts about the Mormon church founding and has recommended to church leaders that they face up to the fact that their prophet, Joseph Smith, was a lying con man: An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, by Grant H. Palmer (Amazon 4 1/2 star customer rating, based on 74 reviews)

Christionists would have us believe (about the story of Jesus)
         Nobody bothered to write down his full name in his native language
         Nobody bothered to write down the year in which he was born or died
         Nobody bothered to write down the names of all his brothers and sisters
         Nobody bothered to describe his parents (in any detail)
         Nobody bothered to write down if, or how, he was educated
         Nobody bothered to gather up any letters he might have written
         Nobody who wrote up his life (30 to 60 years after he died!) bothered to sign or date his
                     (or her) manuscript
         Nobody bothered to get any of his speeches or saying accurately recorded. {The gospels,
                    which pretend to tell some of his stories and sayings, are written in (Koine) Greek
                    probably not the language that Jesus spoke. Experts think he spoke Aramaic, but no
                    one knows for sure.} Yes, indeed,  write down his saying 30 to 60 years after
                    he dies, and then only in translation, that will make them accurate!

         Not to worry --- the bible itself says Jesus' quotes are accurate! John 14:26 says (a helper will come and) “bring to your remembrance all that I (Jesus) have said to you” Yup, that solves the problem.

       Let me get this straight --- Not only did nobody bother to accurately record what this 'god' said, nobody even bothered to note what language he said it in?

        Jesus knows he's a god (well maybe a junior god). He knows his job on earth is to say and do cool stuff, following directions from the big guy upstairs, so people in the future will learn from him and know the right way to live. But he can't be bothered to write anything down? And the people following him can't be bothered (during this time) to write anything down either? And this happens in the Roman empire, near the height of its power when literacy is very high.

       Let me get this straight --- Moses (supposedly) wrote down stuff, Peter wrote stuff, Paul wrote stuff, dozens of early Christians wrote stuff, but somehow nobody in the Christian community seems to find it strange that this 'god' in his 30 years on earth did not bother to write anything down! Jesus was what like too busy to write anything down?

        So three days after he dies, he comes alive again, in the sense that his body is gone and people see him in (real like) visions. This the Christionists tell us is proof that he was a god. It must have convinced his followers that he was not a normal man, and probably he was a god just like he had claimed, right?  You would think that any rational group of people close to him in those circumstance would then right away start working, probably together, to remember everything that he had preached, said, and done, so they could get it accurately written down, wouldn't you?  Nah!  Maybe work to memorialize where he was born or died or did other cool stuff? Nah! Maybe talk to his childhood friends, brothers, sisters, and parents if still alive, and learn about his upbringing and education? Nah! Maybe gather up his correspondence? Nah! Maybe write up his life as a history, as was common in Roman times. Nah!  (No need to hurry one Biblical reference 'explained', because he's coming right back, isn't he?)

        Why not wait 30, 40, 50, or 60 years after his death until eye witnesses are dead and peoples memories are pretty much gone, and then start writing about his life. That sounds like a plan! Let's start writing the gospels decades after he is dead because that will sure make them real accurate! Do you suppose that maybe this has anything to do with the fact that each of the four 'histories' (gospels) are quite short. Mark focuses on the last week of his life and much of Matthew and Luke are copied from Mark. And the four who (individually) 30, 40, 50, or 60 years later who decided to write up his life all chose to write it up anonymously, didn't bother to date their manuscripts, nor state where or for whom it was written. And according to modern scholars none of them ever saw Jesus, and they wrote up what he (supposedly) had to say based on oral tradition and in translation.

        Did the 12 followers (apostles) of Jesus write anything? According to Wikipedia the entire new testament was supposed to have been written by the apostles (+Paul). The thinking now is that none of them wrote anything except (maybe) Peter, who might have written one of two books of Peter. But even here the evidence is shaky, since based on internal evidence, it probably was not written until 80 or later, which makes Peter very old. Peter, like all the apostles, is supposed to be a (presumably) Aramaic speaking fisherman according to the gospels, so if he knows Greek it's a second language. So how come he writes in high quality, cultured and urban Greek? Scholars fudge this one by saying Peter's 'writing' was probably done with a Greek speaking 'secretary'. Of course what this really means is Peter didn't write anything, it was ghost written. Peter even names his ghost writer, Silvanus (1 Peter 5:12).

        Paul, scholars agree, wrote a good chunk of the new testament. Paul describes himself as an apostle (Galatians 1:1). He's like the 13th apostle whose job it is to preach to the gentiles, and some of Paul's writing are quite early (about 50 or so). So here is writing by a guy who knew Jesus? Nope, it turns out that Paul's only contact with Jesus is via images that come to him after Jesus is dead. Whoops. Oh, and scholars think Paul did most of his 'writing' (in Greek) using a ghost writer too.

         In a couple of key places in the original gospels Jesus' words are given not in the usual Greek translation, but in another language. It's  “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” or  “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” ((Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46), which is usually translated "My god, my god, why hast thou forsaken me". Some biblical scholars say that since these are Aramaic words, this proves that Jesus spoke Aramaic. But if you dig a little deeper you find that these words are not actual Aramaic words, they are a transliteration of Aramaic into Greek! Curiously (?) Psalms 22:1 says (in Hebrew), “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

        Let me get this straight --- The authors of the gospels couldn't be bothered to write the actual Aramaic words that Jesus (supposedly) spoke at critical times, even though Aramaic is a written language that was extensively used in earlier Jewish writings. Instead they chose to write a transliteration of these words into Greek?

        "Aramaic has a 3,000-year history and is still spoken today by half million people. It has been the language of administration of empires and the language of divine worship. It is the original language of large sections of the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, and is the main language of the Talmud. Aramaic was the native language of Jesus." (Wikipedia -- Aramaic)
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani
        While researching this phrase I found much confusion about what Jesus said on the cross, which is the 'thou has forsaken me quote above'. In Mark 15:34 the Eloi version of the phrase is usually given, and the words are identified as Aramaic. But in In Matthew 27:46 most bibles have the Eli version, which when footnoted is identified as Hebrew! One bible couldn't decide and footnoted (for Matthew 27:46) that 'some manuscripts' say Eli and some Eloi. The Contemporary English Version of the bible covers all the bases with the Eloi spelling in Mark 15:34, which it footnotes as Aramaic, and the Eli spelling in Matthew 27:46, which it footnotes as Hebrew.
         Terrific, Mark has Jesus speaking Aramaic on the cross, and Matthew has him speaking the same phrase (at the same time) in Hebrew! Maybe he was bilingual!
        There's actually a Wikipedia discussion of this phrase. "The slight differences between the two gospel accounts are most probably due to dialect. Matthew's version seems to have been more influenced by Hebrew, whereas Mark's is perhaps more colloquial." Seems like a fudge to me. (Wikipedia --- Sayings of Jesus on the cross)

Gospel authorship
        Scholars think that none of gospel authors ever saw Jesus, hence the gospels were not written by any of the 12 apostles (followers) of Jesus. Earliest surviving complete copies of the Gospels date to the 4th century. Here's the Wikipedia summary of the majority, secular scholarly opinion of the gospels' authorship:

                 Mark --- written by non-eye witness to Jesus' ministry, possibly 2nd hand from Peter
                              after Peter's death, for Greek speaking Romans, written first
                 Matthew --- written by anonymous non-eyewitness to Jesus' ministry,
                                        for Jews (copies Mark)
                 Luke --- no consensus on the author, traditional view is written by Luke who was a
                                        companion of Paul (both non-eye witnesses to Jesus' ministry),
                                        for gentiles (copies Mark). Same author wrote "Acts of the Apostles"
                 John --- written by anonymous, non-eye witness to Jesus' ministry, written last

Why write in Greek?
        The anonymous gospel authors all wrote in (Koine) Greek for an audience fluent in Greek. In fact the whole new testament is written in (Koine) Greek, but Jesus a few decades earlier was speaking and preaching in Aramaic?  Why write in Greek, why not Aramaic or Latin?

        Essentially a language shift in the eastern Mediterranean was occurring. The language of ruling powers over time tends to spread via commerce and often via fiat. The Jews had been ruled by the Babylonians starting about 500 BCE and over time their spoken language switched to Aramaic from Hebrew (these languages are related). About 300 BCE Greece's power started spreading, and at the beginning of the CE Greek was common in much of the Roman empire and dominant in the eastern end of the empire. However, Aramaic continued to be spoken in some jewish pockets of the middle east, and since Jesus was (supposedly) born a jew in an Aramaic speaking region, it is presumed he spoke and preached in Aramaic. The few (transliterated) Aramaic words sprinkled into Jesus' gospel 'quotes' are taken as confirmation of this.

Why was Jesus' name changed?
        Scholarly etymology of the name 'Jesus' is as follows:

                        Yeshua => (xxxx in Greek) => Iesus => Jesus

        The name, Yeshua, is transliterated from Hebrew (or is it Aramaic?) to Greek, in which the New Testament is written. Then the Greek is translated into English as Iesus in the original (1611) edition of the king James Bible. English in mid 17th century then splits usage of 'i' into 'i' and 'j' and presto chango the name 'Jesus'. Further muddying the waters, when the Old Testament is directly translated from its original Hebrew into English, anyone named Yeshua becomes Joshua. Thus it appears that the name Jesus has come about simply because it passed though Greek. This is the conclusion of this Slate article:

        "So why do we call the Hebrew hero of Jericho Joshua and the Christian Messiah Jesus? Because the New Testament was originally written in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic."
        So my questions: Why was it necessary to mess with proper names during Biblical translations? If it's essentially an historical boo-boo, then why in modern times hasn't that mistake been corrected and Jesus today called by his original name, Yeshua, or is it Joshua? (not as sexy?)

Mister Louis Farrakhan
        A bow tie wearing, violin playing, head of the Nation of Islam and jew hating mini-hitler wanta-be (based on a two hour Farrakhan sermon I once heard).

            In 1994 a venomous anti-Jewish speech was given by Khalid Abdul Muhammad, a spokesman for the Nation of Islam, that caused a national furor. Kahlik's talk included this: "the so-called Jew ... is sucking our blood in the black community"  Farrakan statement about the speech was this: "While I stand by the truths that he spoke, I must condemn in the strongest terms the manner in which those truths were represented." (italics added)

More on Farakhan's anti-Semitism at this link:

Conversion to Islam
         "We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint," Centanni later told Fox (News). "Don't get me wrong here. I have the highest respect for Islam, and I learned a lot of good things about it, but it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns." (Fox News journalist abducted by Palestinians upon release, 8/27/06).

         The demand of their kidnappers was to release all Muslim prisoners in US jails, and their threat, “Any infidel who comes to Palestine will be killed unless he converts to Islam.” Ah yes, men of god.

President of Iran on Destruction of Israel
           "Undoubtedly, I say that this slogan and goal is achievable, and with the support and power of God, we will soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism (Israel) and will breathe in the brilliant time of Islamic sovereignty over today's world." (italics added) (President of Iran, Ahmadinejad, 2005)

Speaker of Iraqi Parliament on Jews
             The speaker of the Iraqi parlement accused "Jews" of financing acts of violence in Iraq in order to discredit Islamists who control the parliament and governent so they can install "their" agents in power... "Some people say, 'We saw you beheading, kidnapping and killing,' " {speaker Mahmoud} al-Mashhadani said, "These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew. I can tell you about these Jewish, Israelis and Zionists who are using Iraqui money and oil to frustrate the Islamic movement in Iraq...No one deserves to rule Iraq other than the Islamists."  (July 13, 2006, Associated Press, as quoted by Tim Russett on Sun morning TV)

        Oh, yes, Islamists are really a  piece of work

Lecture by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey
    The Cross and the Crescent: The Clash of Faiths in an Age of Secularism

       Lord Carey said that Muslims must address "with great urgency" their religion's association with violence. He made it clear that he believed the "clash of civilisations" endangering the world was not between Islamist extremists and the West, but with Islam as a whole. Arguing that [Sam] Huntington's thesis has some 'validity', Lord Carey quoted him as saying: "Islam's borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power." Lord Carey went on to argue that a "deep-seated Westophobia" has developed in recent years in the Muslim world.

         "We are living in dangerous and potentially cataclysmic times," he said. "There will be no significant material and economic progress [in Muslim communities] until the Muslim mind is allowed to challenge the status quo of Muslim conventions and even their most cherished shibboleths." (Sept 2006)

President of Iran on coming of Twelfth Imam

"I emphatically declare that today’s world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet...  and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return ..." (speech to UN general assembly, 9/06)
        "It is the most terrifying statement any president of any nation has made to the U.N. We have a dictator on the brink of nukes, striving to accelerate the Apocalypse. Think of the Iranian regime as a nation-as-suicide-bomber. And anything serious we can do to prevent it may only make matters worse. No wonder Ahmadinejad smiles. Paradise beckons." (comment by Andrew Sullivan on Time mag blog, 9/21/2006)

Islam reformation
        Andrew Sullivan (former New Republic editor) in an Oct 06 debate with Peter Beinart (current New Republic editor) said, "I found myself asking if, given the new technologies of destruction available, Islam will ever have enough time to reform itself before a catastrophe of some sort. History suggests that there is not enough time - and so the collision of Islam with modernity is looming in ever more destructive forms."

Worries on Islam spread in Europe (front page,  NYT 10/10/06)
        'Europe appears to be crossing an invisible line regarding its Muslim minorities: more people in the political mainstream are arguing that Islam cannot be reconciled with European values. “You saw what happened with the pope (Islamic protests about his speech in Germany),” said Patrick Gonman, 43, the owner of a funky wine bar in Antwerp,  “Islam is an aggressive religion." And the next day they kill a nun somewhere (Somilia) and make his point.'

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on "monumental struggle" with Muslims (12/06)

       "There is a monumental struggle going on worldwide between those who believe in democracy and modernisation, and forces of reaction and extremism. It is the 21st century challenge. Yet a great part of our own opinion either thinks there is no common theme to it all; or if there is, is inclined to believe that it is our - that is America and its allies - fault that this is so.
       In any other situation in which terrorists with almost incredible wickedness butcher completely innocent people, provoke sectarian conflict, spread chaos and despair, in almost any other situation we would say well our response should be to stand up and fight back. In Iraq, in Afghanistan, but seeping across the board, voices instead say: we shouldn't be involved: better leave well alone; it is none of our business.
       Here are elements of the Government of Iran openly supporting terrorism in Iraq to stop a fledgling democratic process, trying to turn out a democratically elected Government in Lebanon, flaunting the international community's desire for peace in Palestine - at the same time as denying the Holocaust and trying to acquire a nuclear weapon capability: and yet a huge part of world opinion is frankly almost indifferent. It would be bizarre if it weren't so deadly serious.

       We have in my view to wake up. These forces of extremism - based on a warped and wrong-headed misinterpretation of Islam - aren't fighting a conventional war, but they are fighting one against us, "us" being not just the West, still less simply America and its allies, but "us", as all those worldwide who believe in tolerance, respect for others and liberty."

Tom Friedman, NYT columnist ---'Something is wrong with arab Muslims' (1/24/2007)
        "It’s hard to know what’s more disturbing: the barbaric sectarian murders by Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, or the deafening silence with which these mass murders are received in the Muslim world. How could it be that Danish cartoons of Muhammad led to mass violent protests, while unspeakable violence by Muslims against Muslims in Iraq every day evokes about as much reaction in the Arab-Muslim world as the weather report?  I can’t understand how the mass slaughter of 70 Baghdad college students last week by Sunni suicide bombers or the blowing up of a Shiite mosque on the first day of Ramadan in 2005 evoke so little response. Every day it’s 100 more."

       "I raise this question because the only hope left for Iraq — if there is any — is not in a U.S. counterinsurgency strategy. That may be necessary, but without a Muslim counternihilism strategy that delegitimizes the mass murder of Muslims by Muslims, there is no hope for decent politics there. It takes a village, and right now the Muslim village is mute. It has no moral voice when it comes to its own. There’s a lot at stake. If Iraq is ultimately unraveled by Muslim suicide-nihilism, it certainly will be a blot on our history — we opened this Pandora’s box. But it will be a plague on the future of the whole Arab world. If Arab Muslims can summon the will to protest only against the insults of “the foreigner” but never the injuries inflicted by their own on their own, how can they ever generate a modern society or democracy — which is all about respecting and protecting minority voices and unorthodox views?"

Two years after Danish cartoons ---
         "Last month the Danish police arrested two Tunisians and a Dane of Moroccan descent on charges of plotting to kill Mr. Westergaard, one of the 12 cartoonists whose pictures of Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten sparked protests, some of them violent, by Muslims around the world in 2006 and put bounties on the heads of Mr. Westergaard and his editor, Flemming Rose. Mr. Westergaard (he drew Muhammad with a bomb in his turban) has been in hiding ever since. (NYT 3/20/08)
Christopher Hitchens on Iraq invasion (3/19/2007)
         Best (pity) explanation I have seen as to why Iraq was invaded --- "Question: Was the terror connection notexaggerated? Answer: Not by much. The Bush administration never claimed that Iraq had any hand in the events of Sept. 11, 2001. But it did point out, at different times, that Saddam had acted as a host and patron to every other terrorist gang in the region, most recently including the most militant Islamist ones. And this has never been contested by anybody. (money quote)
      The action (invasion) was undertaken not to punish the last attack—that had been done in Afghanistan—but to forestall the next one."
Samuel P. Huntington on Muslims
        Here is Samuel P. Huntington's (Harvard professor) view on muslims and muslim culture/politics from his famous 1996 book (228 Amazon reviews!) The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.

        1. "Wherever one looks along the perimeter of Islam, Muslims have problems living peaceably with their neighbors. ...Muslims make up about one-fifth of the world's population but in the 1990s they have been far more involved in intergroup violence than the people of any other civilization. The evidence is overwhelming. ...Islam's borders are bloody, and so are its innards."

        2. "A third possible sources of Muslim-non-Muslim conflict involves what one statesman, in reference to his own country, termed the 'indigestibility' of Muslims. Indigestibility, however, works both ways: Muslims countries have problems with non-Muslim minorities comparable to those which non-Muslim countries have with Mulsim minorities. Even more than Christianity, Islam is an absolutist faith. It merges religion and politics and draws a sharp line between those in the Dar al-Islam [house of Islam] and the Dar al-harb [house of War]. As a result, Confucians, Buddhists, Hindus, Western Christians, and Orthodox Christians have less difficulty adapting to and living with each other than any one of them has in adapting to and living with Muslims."

        3. "American leaders allege that the Muslims involved in the quasi war [what we'd now call the terror war on the West] are a small minority whose use of violence is rejected by the great majority of moderate Muslims. This may be true, but evidence to support it is lacking. Protests against anti-Western violence have been totally absent in Muslim countries. Muslim governments, even the bunker governments friendly to and dependent on the West, have been strikingly reticent when it comes to condemning terrorist acts against the West. ...

        "The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power. The problem for Islam is not the CIA or the US Department of Defense. It is the West, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the universality of their culture and believe that their superior, if declining, power imposes on them the obligation to extend that culture throughout the world. These are the basis ingredients that fuel conflict between Islam and the West."

        4. "Some Westerners, including President Bill Clinton, have argued that the West does not have problems with Islam but only with violent Islamist extremists. Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise. ...Islam is the only civilization which has put the survival of the West in doubt, and it has done that at least twice."

This is a religious war (3/26/07 Andrew Sullivan blog)
        "There was a fascinating interview with one Hassan Butt, a former Qaeda trainee and organizer in Britain, on Sixty Minutes last night. It's riveting not just because of the details of the terrorist network, but also his analysis of what really drives it: devout religious faith (and a nifty suspension of arranged marriages for the murderers). We are facing terrorism rooted in the deepest wells of religion and nowhere else. It spans across classes, cultures and countries. It is a theology - a manifestation of faith stripped of doubt, bereft of a loving God, and integral to Islam:

"The four men who blew themselves up [on 7/7] all came from good families, good homes, good educations. How do you explain what they did?" Simon asks.

"I mean, for me, they did it simply because they were convinced that they were doing something in the name of God, in the name of Islam. And they honestly believed they would obtain paradise from doing the activities that they carried out, the terrorist attacks that they carried out," Butt explains.

How does this extremism relate to Islam in general?
"The position of moderate Muslims is that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. Do you buy that?" Simon asks.

"No, absolutely not. By completely being in denial about it's like an alcoholic basically. Unless an alcoholic acknowledges that he has a problem with alcohol, he's never gonna be able to go forward," Butt argues. "And as long as we, as Muslims, do not acknowledge that there is a violent streak in Islam, unless we acknowledge that, then we are gonna always lose the battle to the militants, by being in complete denial about it."

The current state of Islam is the problem; and only Muslims can find the solution."

Iranian Shiite view of 'morally corrupt'
        News story (4/07) ---The Iranian Supreme Court exonerated six members of the Basiji Force -- an armed Islamist vigilante group -- of brutally killing five people they deemed morally corrupt. One couple was slain for walking together in public.

        (follow up from Slate)  "It is rather disturbing in the greater sense that the Iranian government believes all citizens of so-called Western nations are morally corrupt. Using this guideline it would be permissible to simply kill all citizens of said nations under Iranian law, but also morally correct to do so because this law was handed down by a cleric. I needn't remind anyone, but Iran is building a nuclear program." (Slate reprinting a blog comment)

Malaysian muslim view of freedom of religion
        (NYT 5/30/07)  Malaysia's highest court refused to recognize the conversion of a Muslim-born woman (who wants to marry a Catholic) to Christianity.  Muslims, who make up about 60 percent of Malaysia's population of nearly 25 million, have coexisted with Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs for decades in one of the world's most progressive and modern Muslim democracies. But the ruling (made by two Muslim judges) underlined the increasing separation of Muslims from others and reinforced the notion that Islamic law should have primacy over secular laws in certain aspects of Muslims’ lives. Muslims in Malaysia are already subject to separate laws on inheritance and marriage and must marry within the faith.

        Malaysia's Constitution (says the NYT article) both defends freedom of religion and declares Islam the official religion. To change her religion officially, Chief Justice Ahmad said, Ms. Joy must offer proof from a special Muslim court that she has abandoned Islam,  “She cannot at her own whim simply enter or leave her religion.” The abandonment of Islam, or apostasy, is strongly opposed by many Muslims and in some Malaysian states is punishable by fines and imprisonment.  Outside the courthouse members of an Islamic youth organization cheered the decision. Ms Joy because of this has been harassed, lost her job, and is now seeking asylum in Australia.

Muslims on adopted little boys
        (excerpt from front page article NYT 6/12/07 about Egyption shieks who give out personal fatwas. "In Egypt, and other Muslim countries, where laws must abide by the Koran, fatwas by government-appointed officials can have the weight of law.")

        "A couple approached. The man’s clothes were tattered, and his wife looked distressed. Their 9-year-old son’s clothing was clean, his hair gelled, his smile bright. The man explained that they had adopted the child when he was 9 months old, and that they had just heard that under Islam their son had to be put out of the house, because the mother had not given birth to him or breast-fed him. He would reach puberty as an outsider, and could not, technically, be around the woman he knew as his mother.

        The imam at their local mosque said it was haram — forbidden under Islam — to live with the boy. The sheik said yes, that was right, that the boy could not live with them."

        Muslims are really a piece of work.... and there's more. Here's the infamous (according to the NYT) May 2007 fatwa on breast feeding issued by a religious scholar, who headed a department that studies the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings at the Foundation of Religion College of Al Azhar University.

        "Breast-feeding an adult puts an end to the problem of the private meeting, and does not ban marriage,” wrote the scholar, Izat Atiyah. “A woman at work can take off the veil or reveal her hair in front of someone whom she breast-fed.”

On the death of Iraqi husband & wife team who worked for US embassy in Baghdad
        "The swords of the security personnel of the Islamic State in Iraq ... are with God's grace slitting the throats of crusaders and their aids and lackeys."  Ah yes, men of god! (Islamic internet site as quoted in Wall St. Journal 6/14/2007)

Muslim terrorists   --- an ex-terrorist explains (7/3/07)
        Excerpts from an article by a (supposed) former British Islamic terrorist on why the Islamic community in the West is a breeding ground for terrorists. (from an article in British newspaper, Daily Mail, by Hassan Butt, as reprinted in Drudge)

     "The main reason why radicals have managed to increase their following is because most Muslim institutions in Britain just don't want to talk about theology. They refuse to broach the difficult and often complex truth that Islam can be interpreted as condoning violence against the unbeliever - and instead repeat the mantra that 'Islam is peace' and hope that all of this debate will go away.

        It isn't enough for responsible Muslims to say that, because they feel at home in Britain, they can simply ignore those passages of the Koran which instruct on killing unbelievers. Because so many in the Muslim community refuse to challenge centuries-old theological arguments, the tensions between Islamic theology and the modern world grow larger every day."

Muslim terrorists   --- Thomas Friedman explains (7/4/07)
        Excerpts from a powerful NYT column by regular NYT columnist Thomas Friedman. (Friedman starts the column by saying on the night the Muslim doctors car bombs had failed to explode in the London theater district he had been just a few blocks away.).

        "In the past few years, hundreds of Muslims have committed suicide amid innocent civilians — without making any concrete political demands and without generating any vigorous, sustained condemnation in the Muslim world.

        Islam’s self-identity is that it is the most perfect and complete expression of God’s monotheistic message, and the Koran is God’s last and most perfect word. To put it another way, young Muslims are raised on the view that Islam is God 3.0. Christianity is God 2.0. Judaism is God 1.0. And Hinduism and all others are God 0.0. One of the factors driving Muslim males, particularly educated ones, into these acts of extreme, expressive violence is that while they were taught that they have the most perfect and complete operating system, every day they’re confronted with the reality that people living by God 2.0., God 1.0 and God 0.0 are generally living much more prosperously, powerfully and democratically than those living under Islam.

        This creates a real dissonance and humiliation. How could this be? Who did this to us? The Crusaders! The Jews! The West! ... It’s been widely noted that virtually all suicide terrorists today are Muslims.

        Muslims have got to understand that a death cult has taken root in the bosom of their religion, feeding off it like a cancerous tumor. This cancer is erasing basic norms of civilization. In Iraq, we’ve seen suicide bombers blow up funerals and schools. In England, seven out of the eight people detained in the latest plot are Muslim doctors or medical students -- doctors plotting mass murder!

        If Muslim leaders don’t remove this cancer — and only they can — it will spread, tainting innocent Muslims and poisoning their relations with each other and the world."

Christopher Hitchens on making nice, nice with Muslims
        "We are incessantly told that the removal of the Saddam Hussein despotism has inflamed the world's Muslims against us and made Iraq hospitable to terrorism, for all the world as if Baathism had not been pumping out jihadist rhetoric for the past decade (as it still does from Damascus, allied to Tehran). But how are we to know what will incite such rage?

        A caricature published in Copenhagen appears to do it. A crass remark from Josef Ratzinger (leader of an anti-war church) seems to have the same effect. A rumor from Guantanamo will convulse Peshawar, the Muslim press preaches that the Jews brought down the Twin Towers, and a single citation in a British honors list will cause the Iranian state-run press to repeat its claim that the British government—along with the Israelis, of course—paid Salman Rushdie to write The Satanic Verses to begin with. Exactly how is such a mentality to be placated?" (Slate June 25, 2007)

Offending Muslims with teddy bears
        A British elementary school teacher in Sudan was tried, convicted and thrown into jail because she approved the suggestion of one of her seven year old students, who is named Muhammad, one of the most common names among Muslims, that their class teddy bear be named Muhammad.

        "The teddy bear ordeal began in September when Ms. Gibbons, who taught at one of Khartoum’s most exclusive private schools, started a project on animals and asked her class to suggest a name for a teddy bear. The class voted resoundingly for Muhammad. As part of the exercise, Ms. Gibbons told her pupils to take the bear home, photograph it and write a diary entry about it. The entries were collected in a book with a picture of the bear on the cover and titled “My Name Is Muhammad.” Most of her students were Muslim and the children of wealthy Sudanese families.

        The government said that when some parents saw the book, they complained to the authorities. Ms. Gibbons was arrested on Nov. 25 and went to trial last Thursday. After an all-day hearing, the judge seemed to reach for a compromise by finding her guilty of insulting Islam, but handing her a relatively light sentence." (NYT dec 4, 2007)

        "Muslims who wonder why non-Muslims are often baffled, angered, even frightened by some governments’ interpretation of Islamic law need only look to the cases of two women in Saudi Arabia and Sudan threatened with barbaric lashings... In Sudan, a British primary school teacher was originally threatened with 40 lashes, a fine, or six months in jail after her class of 7-year-olds voted to name a teddy bear Muhammad. The government accused her of insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad is one of the most common names among Muslims, including the student who suggested it for the teddy bear. On Thursday, the court reduced the teacher’s sentence to 15 days in jail, but found her guilty and ordered her deported."  (NYT editorial Dec 3, 2007)
        While after a week in jail she was deported, but this occurred only after several thousand protesters in the streets of Sudan demanded that she be killed, after she released a groveling apology, after Gorden Brown prime minister of Britain got involved, and after two Muslim members of the British parliament traveled to Sudan to discuss her case with the president of Sudan!
        One Muslim leader in Gaza had this to say about the teddy bear teacher --- "I pray to Allah that I could have the opportunity to go to Sudan with my brothers to slaughter this unbeliever Christian. We ask the Sudanese to execute her in [the] hardest way. Any execution must be public; she must be stoned or fired on and the punishment must be harsh." (Muhammad Abdel-Al, spokesman and a senior leader of the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees)
        Are Muslims total nutjobs or is this a case of medieval culture surviving into the 21st century?

Where are the moderate Muslims?
            NYT oped (Dec 2007) by Ayaan Hirsi Ali    She is a former member of the Dutch Parliament and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of “Infidel.”

        "Organization of the Islamic Conference are quick to defend any affront to the image of Islam. The organization, which represents 57 Muslim states, sent four ambassadors to the leader of my political party in the Netherlands asking him to expel me from Parliament after I gave a newspaper interview in 2003 noting that by Western standards some of the Prophet Muhammad’s behavior would be unconscionable."

        But she says that in three recent cases of outrageous Islamic justice toward women, one of which is the teddy bear case above, in three different countries, the author points out that the Organization of the Islamic Conference is quiet, saying nothing.

        "It is often said that Islam has been “hijacked” by a small extremist group of radical fundamentalists. The vast majority of Muslims are said to be moderates. But where are the moderates? (Are there any?)

        It is this order to choose Allah above his sense of conscience and compassion that imprisons the Muslim in a mindset that is archaic and extreme.  If moderate Muslims believe there should be no compassion shown to the girl from Qatif, then what exactly makes them so moderate?  When a “moderate” Muslim’s sense of compassion and conscience collides with matters prescribed by Allah, he should choose compassion. Unless that happens much more widely, a moderate Islam will remain wishful thinking."

NYT columnist Thoman Friedman (11/28/09)
         Friedman on "Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who apparently killed 13 innocent people at Fort Hood?  ... The "more (we learn) it seems that Major Hasan was just another angry jihadist spurred to action by 'The Narrative'.” Friedman ends his column with a suggestion for a future Pres Obama speech to Muslims:

        “Whenever something like Fort Hood happens you say, ‘This is not Islam.’ I believe that. But you keep telling us what Islam isn’t. You need to tell us what it is and show us how its positive interpretations are being promoted in your schools and mosques.

            If this is not Islam, then why is it that a million Muslims will pour into the streets to protest Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but not one will take to the streets to protest Muslim suicide bombers who blow up other Muslims, real people, created in the image of God? You need to explain that to us — and to yourselves.” (Thoman Friedman 11/28/09)

Will A Liberal Islam Emerge?
        "If the number of liberal Muslims reaches a critical mass, they’ll find ways to justify their political and cultural outlook within a rich theological tradition, just as liberal Christians have done in the West.

        But it took centuries for that to happen within Christianity. The question today is whether in a world of weapons of mass destruction we have the same amount of time to withstand the fruits of murderous religious certainty." (Andrew Sullivan blog, 11/30/09)