Saddam is Dead . . . Let the Festival Begin

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The quick execution of Saddam Hussein, the Butcher of Baghdad, after his long circus-like trial was welcomed by many and condemned by some but the timing of Saddam’s death is a thing of wonder! Saddam’s death came at the end of the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, and as a prelude of sorts to the festival of Eid al-Adha.

The Hajj is a remembrance of the Prophet Abraham who is said to have been so devoted to God (Allah) that he was ready to take his son’s life at God’s (Allah’s) request. Eid al-Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice) follows the Hajj and lasts for three days, during which animals (sheep, goats, camels, etc.) are ritually sacrificed as a tribute to Allah and as a reminder that life (human life) is sacred.

Perhaps Saddam’s death should be remembered as the first “animal” sacrifice of this year’s Festival of Eid al-Adha; and perhaps it should continue to be remembered that way.
Saddam and the Hangman’s Noose

Butt-Printing: Creative Art or Improper Conduct?

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News and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

When you see a headline like the one on FOXNews.com this morning (12/13/06): Virginia Teacher Suspended for Painting With Genitals you just HAVE to read on! ‘They reported and I decided’ . . . I decided that the headline is quite misleading and the teacher in question was wronged.

The story goes that Stephen Murmer, an art teacher at a Virginia High School, also has a fairly successful career as a “pop” artist, although the word “artist” might, in this case, be considered a misnomer by some. Murmer describes himself as a “butt-printing artist.” He coats his rear end and genitals with paint and then transfers the paint to canvas by pressing himself against it. Wierd perhaps, kinky perhaps but not obscene, not illegal and, in my judgement, definitely NOT sufficient grounds for being terminated from his high school teaching position; especially since he uses a pseudonym and takes pains to disguise his identity. His finished work, by the way, is not in any way obscene you could have seen some of his work at his website, http://buttprintart.com/, but right now so many people are trying to visit that Tripod (his web hosting service) had to take his pictures off line. You can see one piece of his art and also read the outrage from parents and students in the school district HERE

I doubt it, but have to say that the School District may be able to make a case against Mr. Murmer, one that justifies their decision — the ACLU has taken up his case and the courts will decide. The mere fact that he uses a pseudonym and he apparently produced a “U-Tube” video showing his “creative process” while disguising his identity may be twisted to “show that he knew he was doing something wrong” in relation to his teaching career. This is the only time that I can remember ever rooting for the ACLU to win a case!

In my opinion, the school district officials, by deciding that Mr. Murmer’s unusual side-line can somehow corrupt their high school students, have shown themselves to be immature moralists. They have (had) an art teacher who is creative, successful, well-liked by his students and who takes pains to keep his career as a professional artist very separate from his teaching career. Since their school policy states that “teachers must set an example for students through their personal conduct” are they saying that being creative, successful and well-liked is improper? Of course not! They are saying that the mere fact that Mr. Murmer uses his genitals and rear-end, in the privacy of his studio, under a different name, to create his art is somehow a corrupting influence on his students.

I would guess that, even though there is no suggestion that he brought his private “personality” into his classroom, Mr. Murmer’s students were all aware of his side-line (its hard to hide anything from teenagers; and if they were unaware before they certainly know about it now) and they no doubt thought it was hilarious. After having had a good laugh, however, some of them might have also started to understand that a successful artist never limits his or her creativity based on what others might consider proper or improper artistic expression. Now, however, that the school board has done it’s bit, Mr. Murmer’s students have received a different lesson, a lesson about Puritan ethics.

Links:

FOXNews.com: Virginia Teacher Suspended for Painting With Genitals

Channel 8 News in Richmond VA: Reaction Continues Over Controversial Art Teacher (This site shows one sample of Mr. Murmer’s work.)

From the blogosphere:

BloggingBaby: Suspended art teacher moonlights as butt printing artist (Includes other samples of Mr. Murmer’s work.)

Slobokan’s Site: Teacher Suspended For Being Artistic

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Christmas: A Proposal Concerning the National Holiday

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

At Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport in the past few days:

Holiday Trees went Up

A rabbi wanted a menorah too
His lawyer said he would sue
The airport didn’t know what to do

Holiday Trees came down

The rabbi became a hated man
He had to quickly develop a plan
lawsuit plans went in the can

The Holiday Trees are back

Its a good thing the airport decided to put up “Holiday Trees” and not “Christmas Trees,” Christmas is contentious!

Yes! Christmas is a National Holiday so Sea-Tac would have been within their “legal” rights to put up signs saying: “These are Christmas Trees, Christmas is a National Holiday, so if you don’t like it, find the nearest exit.” They preferred, of course to go PC and call them “Holiday Trees” in a “Holiday Display.”

One simple question that might set your minds aflutter:

Since the First Amendment to the Constitution specifically states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”

. . . doesn’t the law establishing a Christian holiday as a National Holiday constitute the establishment of Christianity as the “National religion?”

To answer my own question, Yes! Of course it does! Christianity is clearly the United States National religion so I propose that the government should immediately stop the pretence and either revise the First Amendment to include the words “except Christmas” after the word “religion” OR change the name of the holiday, rename it “All Gods Day” or something like that, so it conforms to the Constitution.

Links:

Seattle Post Intelligencer: Treeless in Seattle? The port stumbles

Los Angeles Times: Oh! No Christmas trees?

From the blogosphere:

Red State American: Christmas trees are going back up at Sea-Tac airport

Christmas Spirit: This can happen only in America

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Iran’s Holocaust Conference: Place Your Bets!

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

The big news story today is that 67 “foreign researchers” from 30 countries are meeting today and tomorrow in Tehran to discuss the Holocaust. The conference was organized by the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and International Studies at the request, no doubt, of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad has in the past denied that the Holocaust ever happened, describing it as a “myth,” that was fabricated as a way to give the Jews land that, in his view, rightfully belongs to Palestine.

Its easy to understand the outrage that followed the announcement of this conference and that continues today. The fact that the holocaust happened is not a fact that is questioned by rational minds, there is too much documentation and there are too many witnesses still alive to deny this particular reality. The outrage itself, however, is counter productive; it only serves to draw the eyes of the world to the conference in a way that gives it the air of respectability that comes with recognition. Too late now, however, to be philosophical about it, the conference is under way and the world is watching and betting on its outcome.

The best bet is that Iran has ‘stacked the deck’ and has invited a vast majority of holocaust deniers (they refused to divulge a list of attendees for “security” reasons) so that the announced result will substantiate Ahmadinejad’s claim that the holocaust was a myth or, at least, an isolated event. More importantly, however, if this is the result, it is sure to be reported in a way that will attempt to make a rational argument that Israel has no right to the land that it now occupies. That, after all, is one of Ahmadinejad’s ‘end-games.’

There is only a slight possibility that those who bet on the above scenario will lose. That possibility arises from the fact that Iran lusts for control of the Middle-East and it may twist the unalterable fact of the holocaust to its benefit by admitting its misjudgment of the event. This will, predictably, draw appreciative nods from the critics, improve Iran’s (and Ahmadinejad’s) image, making Iran look more like a rational Middle-Eastern power (and less like a rabid dog) and, most importantly (to Iran) make those who today protest so loudly look foolish tomorrow.

The result, however it is framed, will, no doubt, be interesting.

Links:

The Baltimore Sun: Iran opens Holocaust conference

The Times and Democrat (South Carolina): Iran Holocaust Conference Draws Ire

From the blogosphere:

Zionist War: Iran hosts Holocaust conference

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Iraq is Just a Symptom

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

The Iraq Study Group’s 79-point plan that landed on the nation’s doorstep last week was received with mixed, but very predictable, reactions. The Left was elated and assumed that finally President Bush will have to admit his mistakes, start withdrawing troops and kow-tow to the Iranians and Syrians while asking for their help to get us out of the mess “he” got us into. The Right jumped on the same two recommendations from a different direction, ridiculing the recommended 18-month drawdown of troops as unrealistic and the suggestion that Iran and Syria would even consider helping us as ridiculous and recklessly dangerous.

President Bush might have had an easier time going along with some of the ISG’s plans if James Baker hadn’t had the incredible arrogance of presenting the recommendations as a package deal that will only work if implemented as a whole: no “cherry-picking” Baker said and he said it not to the President in private but to the world through the press corp. He forgot who’s the President and forgot that advisors are supposed to advise, not dictate. It looks very much now that President Bush will either dismiss the ISG report as unworkable or perhaps (more likely) “reinterpret” some of the ISG’s recommendations so they can be used as part of a new plan of action.

Ultimately, the problem with the ISG’s plan is not the fact that it was presented wrong or that it was presented as a complete, unamendable package deal; the problem with the ISG plan, from the president’s point-of-view is that the one option it does NOT have is victory, and President Bush will not settle for anything other than something he can at least ‘interpret’ as a victory. Whatever form that final version of “victory” takes, if it comes at all, it is destined to be a hollow victory because regardless of the outcome in Iraq, the true enemy is not terrorist forces operating in Iraq; the true enemy is radical Islamic fundamentalism itself.

Iraq is just a symptom of a possibly fatal disease that has infected Islam. The free world will never achieve a victory over radical Islamic fundamentalism unless and until Islam has the will to rise up and eradicate that mutant strain of it’s religion. Until such a time, every non-Islamic culture is in danger, a danger clearly stated by the radical extremists themselves, and as a result, every non-Islamic culture must view all of Islam with suspicion.

As for the United States, Iraq is just the opening volley in a war that may, depending on the actions or inaction of moderate Muslims, last for decades. If some future President decides that this is a war we can ignore, that decision will, almost certainly, eventually be taken away from him or her by radical Islam in a way that will make the continuing threat impossible to ignore.

Links:

Mark Steyn in the Chicago Sun-Times: ISG must stand for, uh, Inane Strategy Guesswork

BBC News: Iraqi leader criticises US report

From the blogosphere:

Fold/Spindle/Mutilate 2.0: The Sunshine Boys Can’t Save Iraq

Editoriale: “and an emergency shipment of magic pixie dust for the entire Middle East”

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The Dennis Prager/Keith Ellison War

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Columnist and radio talk-show host Dennis Prager is openly critical of Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) because Ellison, a Muslim, plans to bring a Quran to his House swearing-in ceremony in January. Prager’s contention, expressed here in an interview with the Jewish Journal, is that Ellison’s use of a Quran would “break a 200-year tradition.”

The Journal article also quotes Prager as making the incredibly bold and unbelievably presumptuous statement: “If you are incapable of taking an oath on [the Bible], don’t serve in Congress.”

Since Prager, a regular contributor to the conservative forum, Townhall.com, published his article at TownHall titled America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on, on November 28th, he has been under attack by both the Left and the Right; in my opinion, a fully justified attack.

Following is a snippet from Prager’s 11/28 TownHall column:

“What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book. Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison’s favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible.”

That is Dennis Prager at his self-righteous best!

From that quote one would assume that Dennis Prager was a Christian Conservative, he’s not! Prager is certainly a no-holds-barred Conservative but he is a Jewish Conservative with a very high regard for America and all it stands for — or at least what he feels it stands for. His dedication to what he feels is right is admirable in some respects but, at least in this case, far off the mark.

“America” does not hold any religious text as its holiest book; the U.S. Government does not have a religion — it is a government “of the people” and is, Constitutionally, a secular government.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, …” — from Amendment 1 to the U.S. Constitution

Yes there are traditions but who is Dennis Prager to say that there is no room for change. And, yes, the majority of Americans are Christian and hold their Bible to the high standard of being the only “true” word but being the majority does not make them the ultimate arbiters of right and wrong nor does it automatically turn our secular government into a Christian government.

The main point, however, beyond Dennis Prager’s hysteria, is that Keith Ellison is not a Christian and his oath of office with his hand on a Christian bible would be meaningless — steeped in 200 years of tradition perhaps, but totally meaningless. Ellison should take his oath on a Quran because doing that will mean something to him personally and it will signify that he means what he says when he swears to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic.”

Links:

The Jewish Journal: Dennis Prager won’t apologize for attack on Quran’s use in Congressional swearing-in ceremony

Washington Post: Group Asks Removal of Koran Swearing-In Critic

Prager’s Response at World Net Daily: A response to my critics — and a solution

From the blogosphere:

Progressive Muslima News: Prager: Keith Ellison Must Use Bible for Oath of Office

Piece of Mind: On Ellison and the Qu’ran

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Racial Quotas in Public Schools Target the Wrong Problem

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Daily news and commentary by: Whymrhymer at the Blogger News Network and at The American Chronicle Family of Journals

Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear two cases that address the concept of using race-based quotas to achieve a racial balance in public schools. A description of the specific arguments in these two cases can be found in this Christian Science Monitor article (as well as in every other major newspaper).

Both of these cases have parents groups suing their school districts based on the claim that the school districts use of race-based quotas are discriminatory and unconstitutional. The school districts, on the other hand, defend their use of race-based quotas as the best way to achieve a racial balance of students.

The key arguments in favor of the quota systems, from the Monitor article, are that they will provide “a diverse learning environment for the benefit of all students” and that they “fight the effects of discrimination and inequality.”

As I see it, both of these arguments, when applied to racial quotas in public schools, are fallacious and indicate false priorities. The idea that students will learn more or learn better just because they are sitting in classrooms with students of other races is ludicrous. The other idea, that it is the function of the public education system to attack the problems of discrimination and inequality, is equally wrong; the function of a school is to educate, not to fix societies problems.

The basic problem in Seattle (and probably in most ‘problem’ school systems around the country), is identified in this one brief paragraph from the Monitor article:

“Students were permitted to apply to attend any of the district’s 10 high schools. But because some schools were more popular than others, the board created a racial tiebreaker to determine eligibility at the most popular schools.”

Why would any of the districts ten high schools be “more popular” than any of the others? Obviously the school district has some sub-standard schools, some excellent ones and probably some that fall between. THAT is the problem and all the race balancing they can do won’t fix it. If the school district had ten high-quality high schools they would achieve a natural balance, i.e., whatever is natural for that schools location based on the racial, ethnic and religious makeup of the community surrounding the school.

If a “color-blind” society is the ideal situation, and I submit that it is, race should never be a component in any situation involving government (or non-government) organizations or institutions. A race-based quota, by its very nature is racist; it benefits some and discriminates against others based solely on their race . . . to me that proposition does not appear to be even debatable.

Links:

Christian Science Monitor: Back to the Supreme Court: racial balance in schools

ABC News: Debate Over Segregation in Schools to Hit Supreme Court Today

Other views from the blogosphere:

Burkean Reflections: Supreme Court to Review Desegregation Cases

The Todd B. Waldo Collection: How to ensure that schools are racially mixed

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