Sunday, July 31, 2005

Sand Bullets for Riot Control

Israel has announced that it will be using bullets made of sand to control riots in the future. These bullets are to used to replace the rubber bullets currently used. The rubber bullets have resulted in a number of rioters, the majority of which are Palestinian to be badly injured or killed during the four year 2nd Intifada. Theses bullets will be less lethal as they will break up upon hitting a target.

Two things have occurred about these:
1. What kind of damage will be done to soft parts of the body if they are hit?
2. Will this really work long term to break up an agressive crowd of 'unarmed protestors' who are throwing rocks and Molotov Cocktails?

My thinking is that this will not have a long-term effect. Even if they hurt substantially when you get hit, just like with anything else, a determined opponent will either ignore or shield against the weapon of choice.

I also fear that these were developed more for use in the disengagement. It will go down much easier for the average Israeli citizen if the 'Settlers' are not being shot and killed by IDF forces during their force transfer.

The Disengagement

I am rather disturbed that this is going on!

I am not necessarily opposed to the idea of transferring people from the Gaza and Northern 'West Bank.' I am opposed to doing it under the circumstances which it is being accomplished. I have a problem with leaving the territory with out any kind of assurances or negotiations with the 'Palestinian Authority.' This is a recipe for major problems afterword.

I also don't really care for the concept of forcibly transfering populations from one area to another. Unfortunately this has happened far to often in our history. The 'settler' movement extremists seem to want to compare this to the Shoah. I do not like this comparison only because I feel it lessens the importance of the Shoah. If we don't want others to compare stupid things to the holocaust or Nazi's, then we need to stop doing the same thing. If we do it ourselves, then others obviously feel free to do the same.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Federalist Society and John Roberts

I have not, to date, done a whole lot or research on John Roberts and whether I feel that he is qualified to be a member of the Supreme Court. Whether I actually succeed in making time to do that I can't say, but I kept seeing references to Judge Roberts being a member of the Federalist Society and decided to investigate a little bit as I had never heard of this group before, at least not that I remember. All that having been said I took a few minutes to do that this afternoon and, before I read their purpose, thought the concept of the organization seemed like a good idea. They seemed, from the first couple of things I read, to be sort of an ACLU for lawyers. A group dedicated to making America safe for all Americans. Then I read the following (Original will be in blue my comments in black.)

Law schools and the legal profession are currently strongly dominated by a form of orthodox liberal ideology which advocates a centralized and uniform society. While some members of the academic community have dissented from these views, by and large they are taught simultaneously with (and indeed as if they were) the law.

I found this to be a very strange view. That the liberal ideology was to advocate a centralized and uniform society. It seems to me the 'liberal ideology' as it is generally defined by 'conservatives' is to change to society to allow 'every freak' to do what they want. I believe it is the 'conservative' movement in this country that is trying to set a defined definition of marriage, trying to say that if you have a different position on an issue from them you are just wrong and un-American. Additionally it seems to me that the term 'orthodox liberal ideology' is an oxymoron.

The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order. It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is,not what it should be.

I don't really see much of a problem with this 'ideal.' What I think is interesting though is that they state that they exist to preserve freedom and the separation of governmental powers, does any person with a legitimate interest in the health and wellfare of the country truly believe that freedom shouldn't be preserved or that the separate branches of government are not a good idea. I think this state, while on the face is wonderful, really is nothing more than an attack at a non-existent radical element. Honestly, I don't believe anyone, with the possible exemption of the extreme elements on the Left and Right, have any interest in doing away with freedom or the separation of governmental branches. (I do think that there are people who wouldn't mind this though.)

The Society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities. This entails reordering priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law. It also requires restoring the recognition of the importance of these norms among lawyers, judges, and law professors.

This is another one that looks just wonderful on the surface. But again, are there really a substantial number of people in this country that are in favor of the removal of individual liberty or the rule of law. Do people the 'conservatives' in this country truly believe that anyone doesn't believe in these ideas. (Though I have my doubts that some of the administration does, with the constantly changing stance on say Karl Rove.) The one thing here that bothers me is the concept of Traditional Values. What exactly constitutes a traditional value. Should we all go back to using outhouses and farming. Raising crops and cattle. Those are 'traditional values' in this country that go back to the founding of the country. Should we re-institute slavery, that also is a 'traditional value,' at least in some parts of the country, that date back far before the founding of the country. Or are these 'traditional values' something much less obvious. Are they the 'Judeo-Christian' morality set that the so-call 'Religious-Right' espouse. If so they have only been a 'tradition' in this country for about 30 years, and even then they do not really reflect anything other than a fundementalist view of the bible. (Or New Testament alone in some cases.)

In working to achieve these goals, the Society has created a conservative and libertarian intellectual network that extends to all levels of the legal community.

Really nothing in this one at all.

So what have I learned about the Federalist Society. Not much, but I do know that it is nothing more that a 'Conservative' judicial activist group. (As opposed to a 'Liberal' judicial activist group.) I do believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution. I just don't believe that people on either side of the political debate really know a strict interpretation truly is. I don't believe that anyone truly can look as the Constitution who has an ideological outlook and not intreprite it through that ideology. (Actually I believe that is true of any information actually.)

CAIR - And the Anti-Terror Fatwa.

The Council on American Islamic Relations endorsed a fatwa by an organization called the Fiqh Council of North America. I tried briefly, and intend to try more after Shabbat, to find out about this organization. The full text of the fatwa is at the below link, but I would like to address portions of this for my own peace of mind.

The Qur’an, Islam’s revealed text, states: "Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind." (Qur’an, 5:32) I find this quote to be interesting, by adding the word unjustly in this quote, it actually changes the meaning. It actually, with the addition, allows the killing of a person. Why you may ask, well if I can 'justify' the killing of a person, then I have just removed the concept of what this quote from the fifth Sura says.

Prophet Muhammad said there is no excuse for committing unjust acts: "Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil." (Al-Tirmidhi) I find that this quote actually is much closer to the type of prohibition that I would be looking for. Only one problem I see. It is not from the Qur'an, therefore would not have quite the same authority.

The fatwa goes on to condemn terrorism 'against civilians' I could not tell if this fatwa was to include 'only' North Americans or was intended to apply to 'all' Muslims. If it is the second one, the it would seem this is the way to 'stop world terrorism.'

I do have a question though, if this fatwa is legitimate and accurate on the face of it, why has it taken so long for someone, anyone, to issue this type of fatwa? I know that the leading Islamic scholar of Italy had come out sometime ago and made these types of statements, and not just about terror in the US or Europe, but in Israel and other part of the world. So I ask again. If this fatwa is both legitimate and accurate why did it take the Fiqh Council of North America almost 4 years from the 9/11 attacks and even longer since other attacks to issue this fatwa. And why is the FCNA the only group that seems to be doing this. (as noted on the 'fatwa link' above, it has been endorsed by 145 Islamic organizations and a long list of individual Muslims.)

I have to say, I do have problems with this. For one I live/work in a city where the Imam of the largest Mosque was arrest, stripped of his naturalized citizenship, and tried for ties to Palestinian terror groups and for help raise money for them.

As a trained prayer leader(Imam), should he not have been aware of this information and not gotten involved in this situation.

Hopefully someone can help me.

Frist Removes Part of Head from Ass.

The following italic quote and the link are from/for an article on CNN.Com.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Friday threw his support behind House-passed legislation to expand federal financing for human embryonic stem cell research, breaking with President Bush and religious conservatives in a move that could impact his prospects for seeking the White House in 2008.

"It's not just a matter of faith, it's a matter of science," Frist, R-Tennessee, said on the floor of the Senate.

I have felt that the President, and the 'Conservative' movement, is rather silly on this issue. Later in the article Scott McClellan says "There is a principle involved here from the president's standpoint when it comes to issues of life." While I do understand this idea, there are issues of life on the other side of the argument as well. I will admit that I am bias on this issue as I have an ailment that is, at least partially, genetically related and the a good possibility for correcting the issue may be found through stem cell research. I would like to see people with various genetic health issues be able to live more productive lives.

I have to say I am not exactly sure what it is that is getting Senator Frist to change his mind on this issue. I suspect that at least a portion of this, dare I say flip-flop, reversal on this subject has as much to do with how the issue polls with the general public and Billy's wish to be President, as it does with the Science or Morality of the issues involved. I do hope the President finally will pull his head out of his ass at least a small amount and to realize that the Culture of Life issues as he sees them are not as clear cut as they may appear to be.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Conversion Camps

The following is an article reprinted from and written by Ron Reagan Jr. I saw a report on these on last night/this morning similar to this on CNN.

Summer’s here, meaning thousands of kids are heading off to camp and participating in a host of familiar activities: hiking, canoeing, archery, re-programming their sexual orientation. Don’t you remember that from your summers at camp?

It’s part of the so-called refuge program, one of several similar efforts to turn gay teens straight. When a 16-year-old gay Tennessean known only as Zach blogged about being forced to attend one of these camps, other bloggers jumped in and the issue reached new prominence.

According to the Reverend John J. Smid who runs the program in question, the goal is to put “guardrails” around the teens’ sexual impulses. To that end, there are rules: no secular music, no more then fifteen minutes behind a closed bathroom door, no contact with other gay folks, and, for reasons I’d rather prefer not to imagine, no Calvin Klein underwear.
Reverend Smid himself claims to be a recovered homosexual. He goes on to say, “I may see a man and say, he’s handsome, he’s attractive, and it might touch a part of me that is different from someone else.” Reverend, that would be the gay part.

At the heart of this is the notion that people choose to be gay so they can chose to switchback. Common sense suggests otherwise. Remember coming home from school and telling your parents you decided to be heterosexual? I didn’t think so.

But the homophobic fringe clings to this mean-spirited fiction so they can deny that issues like same sex marriage are matters of civil rights. After all, if certain people are simply born gay, it wouldn’t be fair to persecute them. So, to stave off this uncomfortable reality, they induce in vulnerable teens the same self-loathing that so obviously troubles men like Reverend Smid.

The report on CNN included a conversation with 2 different attendees of the 'Reverend' Smid's camp. One became convinced at the camp that G-D had made him gay and that was how he planned on living. He current lives in TN and attends Church with his boyfriend and works to help others improve their lives. The second one has been at the camp for several weeks and plans to be there for at least another 8 months and plans on possible going on to seminary to become a Pastor/Reverend. He stated to the reporter that he could now see himself marring a woman and having kids and being happy.

I really don't know what to think about this issue. Ron Reagan made several good observations about the reasons for this type of camp existing in his final paragraph. I know the biblical prohibition, but I also have a good friend from college that is gay. I have to say I am torn on this issue. I would never tell my friend that he is wrong, but at the same time I wonder about the situation.

If one accepts the Torah as being divinely written, then can you really say that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. G-D said it was wrong.
If you do not accept the Torah as being divinely written, then you can start to analyze. The first thing you need to do is to decide whether the Torah is divinely inspired but written by man and corrupted to their idea. Or you could look at the Torah as being nothing more than a book, if this is the way you look at it then perhaps the prohibition is nothing more than our ancient forefathers way of differentiating us from the many cultures around ours that allowed or even encourage same sex relationships.

I guess I will just have to spend more time and thought, not to mention prayer and meditation, trying to comes to gripes with both my secular thinking and my religious thinking. And maybe, just maybe, one day I will have the type of epiphany that will resolve the issue in my own head.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sharon Cursed

The attached article discusses the cursing(death threat) of Ariel Sharon. I would like some one to explain the logic of this. Shall we all start just cursing those that we disagree with politically/religously. Doesn't this just defeat the purpose of the whole idea of Jewish unity and family?

Somebody, hopefully, will be able to give a logical explination of the stupidity of this idea.

After more thought about this I desided to add something. The stupidity of this idea really just eliminates the any real sense to it. What they really will succeed in accomplishing is further strengthening the disengagement movement. The death of Ariel Sharon either by being killed by someone or in some other mysterious way will have, in my opinion, a similar effect to the disengagement movement as the death of JFK had on the the civil rights agenda in the US. The death of JFK made it much easier, relatively, for President Johnson to get the civil rights agenda through Congress.

Monday, July 25, 2005


I would like to introduce my self but that will take more time than I have currently. That being said I would like start by saying like anyone doint this, I will reveal of myself overtime. Hopefully you'll like who I am.

Those who have read my posts else where hopefully this will help you get a deeper understanding of me.

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