Monday, October 2, 2006

Fearing For His Life

Robert Redeker is a French philosopher who can no longer spend more than two nights in any one place. He must be constantly on the move to elude those who seek his life. What was his offense? In an article in Le Figaro titled "Faced with Islamic intimidation, what should the free world do?" he said this:

"Pitiless war leader, pillager, butcher of Jews and polygamous (people), this is how Mohammed is revealed by the Koran."

For this Redeker is in fear of his life, not in some dysfunctional Arab state, but in France. The Islamists know nothing of the freedoms we in the West take for granted and they're determined to wipe them out. Their weapon now is to intimidate those who speak against Islam by killing some and threatening others. Eventually their goal is to reduce the West to a state of abject servitude to Islamic overlords who will demand that it be written into our laws that no one be permitted to speak ill of Islam or the Prophet.

Read Redeker's story here.


Ever since 1969 I have been silently convinced that the whole world was wrong about a certain historical event and that I was right. I could never prove it, of course, and besides it wasn't a big deal, but it was always an irritant for me whenever I heard the mistake repeated.

When Neil Armstrong stepped down onto the moon's surface and uttered his famous words, quickly engraved in stone by, I think, Walter Cronkite, as "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," I recall saying to my future wife, who was with me at the time, "That's not what he said. That doesn't even make sense. It's like saying 'One small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind. What he said was one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Subsequently, every time I heard the apocryphal rendering repeated, I cringed, just as I cringe when someone says "I could care less" when what they mean to say is "I could not care less".

Anyway, now, after all these years, I have been vindicated, and I want to tell the world:

HOUSTON (Sept. 30) - That's one small word for astronaut Neil Armstrong, one giant revision for grammar sticklers everywhere.

An Australian computer programmer says he found the missing "a" from Armstrong's famous first words from the moon in 1969, when the world heard the phrase, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." The story was reported in Saturday's editions of the Houston Chronicle.

Some historians and critics have dogged Armstrong for not saying the more dramatic and grammatically correct, "One small step for a man ..." in the version he transmitted to NASA's Mission Control. Without the missing "a," Armstrong essentially said, "One small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind."

The famous astronaut has maintained he intended to say it properly and believes he did. Thanks to some high-tech sound-editing software, computer programmer Peter Shann Ford might have proved Armstrong right.

Ford said he downloaded the audio recording of Armstrong's words from a NASA Web site and analyzed the statement with software that allows disabled people to communicate through computers using their nerve impulses.

In a graphical representation of the famous phrase, Ford said he found evidence that the missing "a" was spoken and transmitted to NASA.

"I have reviewed the data and Peter Ford's analysis of it, and I find the technology interesting and useful," Armstrong said in a statement. "I also find his conclusion persuasive. Persuasive is the appropriate word."

See? I knew it.


Rep.Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned from congress when e-mails and instant messages he had been sending to congressional pages all under the age of 18 came to light last week.

The internet dialogue reveals a sick man who desperately needs help. Like former NJ governor Jim McGreevy who resigned when the sordid details of his double life were exposed last year, Foley's life and reputation are destroyed.

On one hand one can't help but be disgusted by the sleaziness to which these men have descended (the incriminating dialogue Foley engaged in with a minor can be accessed through the above link, but I don't recommend it unless you have a high tolerance for human degradation), on the other, one must feel very sorry for them. Their lives, even before they were found out, must have been filled with fear of being caught and self-loathing at what they had become.

It's easy to feel contempt for powerful people when, despite their transgressions, they are arrogant, defiant, and unrepentant, but surely when they're broken and devastated, contempt must give way to compassion. To the extent that Jim McGreevy and Mark Foley are humiliated and laden with self-reproach they need, and should have, our prayers. Unfortunately, it's not clear that either of them are yet at that stage.

In any event, as if the Mark Foley imbroglio hasn't done enough to harm Republicans going into the mid-term elections, it turns out that House speaker Dennis Hastert and House Majority leader John Boehner are both being accused of having known of Foley's illicit involvement with underage House pages and lied to cover it up.

If this is true, and I'm not persuaded yet that it is, it would be absolutely astonishing, especially in light of the ordeal the Catholic Church has been undergoing for the last decade over similar revelations about some of their clergy. It's hard to believe that in light of the Catholic Church's nightmarish experience the Republican party would make the same mistake.

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters has details and is calling for the resignation of both Hastert and Boehner from their leadership positions. I think this is a little premature since it's not clear yet how much anyone knew about what Foley was doing. If it turns out, however, that anyone, including Democrats and media types, knew for months what was happening and didn't do anything to stop it, then those people should indeed be required to pay a price.

UPDATE: Dennis Hastert has just come out with a statement insisting that the Republican leadership knew nothing of the salacious instant messages, but, he notes, somebody did know about them and evidently did nothing to stop them. It's beginning to look as if these messages have been withheld in order to use them for political purposes close to the election. That's almost as immoral as the messages themselves.