Wednesday, September 7, 2005

That's Howard

How long will rank and file Democrats allow themselves to be led by people who have so few scruples that they'll do something like this:

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean has told one of the nation's largest black church groups that racism was a factor in the rising death toll from Hurricane Katrina.

Dean told the annual meeting of the National Baptist Convention of America in Miami that the nation must "come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a deadly role in who survived and who did not."

He also said the funds that now support the Iraq war could be used to rebuild New Orleans or to aid the poor and elderly.

The ugly truth is that Howard Dean is a mendacious demagogue who is a disgrace to American politics. If he's going to make the claim that skin color was a factor in determining people's fate in Katrina's aftermath he should at least have the decency to offer some supporting evidence aside from the simple-minded observation that there was a large number of blacks in the Superdome.

Does Mr. Dean have information that people were denied the ability to evacuate because they were black? Were they refused helicopter rescue because they were black? Were they denied access to shelters, food, water, or medical care because they were black? Exactly how did skin color play the role that Mr. Dean alleges? Tell us, Mr. Dean, precisely how were African-Americans singled out for discriminatory treatment?

Of course, he won't answer these questions because demagogues never get down to specifics - it would enable people to see through their scam. Sadly for this country, Dean and others like him in the Democratic party will continue to set one American against another for political advantage as long as they can get away with it.

It's disgusting. It's criminal. It's Howard Dean.

The Calm Before the Storm

Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail informs us here and here of preparations for a big battle at Tal Afar, an Iraqi city that has become a haven for insurgents. The coalition is evacuating the citizens in preparation for a massive combat operation along the lines of the assault on Fallujah. Already two hundred insurgents have been killed. The city is cordoned and escape is doubtful. The battle is imminent.

Requesting Your Help

As you know from our announcement at the head of our posts, we've been having trouble with our server not always responding to readers' requests to access it. The problem persists for a few minutes and then seems to miraculously heal itself. Being somewhat skeptical of the doctrine of the infinite extent of God's mercy and doubting that it reaches to healing machines several times a day, we've been trying to pinpoint a more mundane cause.

We'd like to enlist the aid of our readers in the effort. If you have gotten a "web site not responding" message when trying to access Viewpoint anytime within the last four weeks you can help us by going to the Feedback button and telling us whether this has happened once or twice during this period, or if it has happened more frequently.

If the Feedback button doesn't work with your browser feel free to e-mail me at Bill and I appreciate your help with this.



Saving the Beer From the Coelacanths

Years ago scientists dredged up a primitive fish off the coast of Madagascar called a coelacanth that had been believed to have been extinct for millions of years. Such finds are called "living fossils." I thought of the coelacanth when reading an article about Muslims who killed a woman for having a romantic relationship with a Christian and then went on a rampage destroying the homes of Palestinian Christians.

In the standard view, you see, man has evolved through stages of barbarism and savagery culminating in the civilized form he takes today as "thinking man", Homo sapiens. According to this version of human evolution man had to overcome along the way cognitive abilities on the level of an imbecile and religious beliefs that require that the gods be appeased through human sacrifice - the bloodier, more terrifying, the better. Think of the thugees in Raiders of the Lost Ark sacrificing their victim by ripping his still pulsing heart out of his breast.

We've advanced beyond this primitive savagery thanks largely to the influence of Christianity on the Western world, but there are still pockets of "living fossils" found throughout the world which still function cognitively at the level of an imbecile and hold to religious beliefs that cause them to revel in bloody human sacrifice. These people belong to the genus Homo, but they can hardly be considered sapiens. One such very large pocket stretches across the vast Arab world and produces stories like this on an almost daily basis:

Efforts were under way on Sunday to calm the situation in this Christian village east of Ramallah after an attack by hundreds of Muslim men from nearby villages left many houses and vehicles torched.

The incident began on Saturday night and lasted until early Sunday, when Palestinian Authority security forces interfered to disperse the attackers. Residents said several houses were looted and many families were forced to flee to Ramallah and other Christian villages, although no one was injured.

The attack on the village of 1,500 was triggered by the murder of a Muslim woman from the nearby village of Deir Jarir earlier this week. The 30-year-old woman, according to Palestinian Authority security sources, was apparently murdered by members of her family for having had a romance with a Christian man from Taiba.

"When her family discovered that she had been involved in a forbidden relationship with a Christian, they apparently forced her to drink poison," said one source. "Then they buried her without reporting her death to the relevant authorities."

When the PA security forces decided to launch an investigation into the woman's death, her family protested for fear that the relationship would be exposed. The family was further infuriated by the decision to exhume the body for autopsy.

The attack is one of the worst against Christians in the West Bank in many years. Residents said it took the PA security forces several hours to reach Taiba. Others complained that the IDF, which is in charge of overall security in the area, did not answer their desperate calls for immediate help.

"More than 500 Muslim men, chanting Allahu akbar [God is great], attacked us at night," said a Taiba resident. "They poured kerosene on many buildings and set them on fire. Many of the attackers broke into houses and stole furniture, jewelry and electrical appliances."

With the exception of large numbers of PA policemen, the streets of Taiba were completely deserted on Sunday as the residents remained indoors. Many torched cars littered the streets. At least 16 houses had been gutted by fire and the assailants also destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary.

"It was like a war, they arrived in groups, and many of them were holding clubs," said another resident.

"Some people saw them carrying weapons. They first attacked houses belonging to the Khoury family [looking for the man who had the affair with the women, not realizing he had already fled the village.] Then they went to their relatives. They entered the houses and destroyed everything there. Then they tried to enter the local beer factory, but were repelled by PA security agents. The fire engine arrived five hours later."

Col. Tayseer Mansour, commander of the PA police in the Ramallah area, said his men arrived late because of the need to coordinate their movements with the IDF. "The delay resulted in the torching of a number of houses and cars in the village," he said.

Taiba, the only West Bank village that is completely inhabited by Christians, is famous for its Taiba Beer factory, which was established by the Khoury family in 1994.

The residents are Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox or Greek Catholic. The village was originally called Ephraim, and is thought to be the city to which Jesus came with his disciples before his crucifixion: "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim" (John 11:54).

According to some accounts, Salah a-Din, who led the war against the Crusaders, was responsible for the name change. He is said to have found the villagers there to be nice and kind - in Arabic, taybeen - and the name stuck, to become Taiba.

Well, at least the PA police prevented the destruction of the brewery by the human coelacanths. There's no word yet, however, as to how Allah views this intervention to preserve the iniquitous manufacture of the vile fluid from the expression of his righteous anger. Maybe the police can atone for thwarting Allah's will by permitting the murder of a few more women and/or Christians. That will likely satisfy his wrath.

A closing question for the moral equivalence crowd: When was the last time you read about Israelis doing anything like this?

The World Begins to Step Forward

This is good to read although given the wealth of some of these countries one hopes that this it just a first step:

CAIRO, Egypt - Donations to Hurricane Katrina relief poured in from around the world Sunday, with Kuwait offering $500 million and other Mideast countries offering aid and condolences despite widespread opposition to U.S. policies in the area.

The European Union and NATO also stepped up to provide aid following rare requests for help from Washington, while the 22-member Arab League urged countries across the Middle East to "extend aid to the United States to face the exceptional humane circumstances."

Spain, Belgium, Britain, Germany and Italy announced they had started or were about to send aid and experts to the U.S. to help with the logistical operation of getting help to hurricane survivors. Britain's Ministry of Defense said Sunday the government would send 500,000 ration packs. Germany and Italy sent flights of supplies, including food rations, bed supplies, inflatable dinghies and water purifiers.

The $500 million offer by Kuwait - which owes its 1991 liberation from seven months of occupation by Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army to a U.S.-led coalition - is the largest to date, surpassing the $100 million pledged by Qatar, another U.S. ally in the Mideast. "It's our duty as Kuwaitis to stand by our friends to lighten the humanitarian misery and as a pay back for the many situations during which Washington helped us through," Kuwait's energy minister, Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah, said in a statement.

Kuwait's offer includes $400 million in oil products and $100 million in humanitarian relief, Al Sabah's spokesman told The Associated Press. Another close U.S. ally, the United Arab Emirates, is sending tents, clothing, food and other aid. The United States enjoys close relations with most Gulf states, particularly Kuwait, which was a launch pad for the 2003 invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam, and Qatar, a base for the U.S. military in the war's initial stages.

Bitter U.S. foes Iran and North Korea - which Washington pressured over their respective nuclear programs - offered to help rescue efforts, and Syria - another longtime opponent - was among numerous Middle Eastern states offering condolences. And Arab League chief Amr Moussa said the Arab world should support the United States, which "always expresses solidarity with nations that face natural catastrophes and extends most of the aid they receive."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a longtime opponent of the Bush administration, said Sunday he had offered 1 million barrels of gasoline and $5 million, but criticized the U.S. government for failing to evacuate the victims before disaster struck. "The rich were able to leave, by their own means. It was the poor that remained there," the leftist leader said on his weekly television and radio show. The United Nations said Sunday the U.S. had accepted its offer of U.N. assistance and expertise.

"A small U.N. coordination team is in Washington now consulting with government officials on how best the U.N. can complement the United States' own emergency efforts," said a statement from the U.N. spokesman. The Paris-based International Energy Agency has also said its 26-member nations would release the equivalent of 2 million barrels of oil per day from strategic reserves.

These offers of aid should not be turned away, even if we don't need them. To spurn the offer of a gift is to encourage resentments. To accept the gift is to make the giver feel good, not only about himself but about the one upon whom the gift is bestowed. Acts of kindness generate kind feelings in the doer. Feelings follow actions. When people or nations act in kind ways they find themselves experiencing much more positive feelings toward the object of their beneficence than perhaps they did before. We should encourage all the acts of kindness toward the U.S. that others wish to bestow.