Monday, August 18, 2014

Fundamentalist Islam Is Recent

Is the claim by fundamentalist Muslims, that they are working to re-establish the original, true Islam — as received by Mohammed — real or a is it a fraud?

Thus, Islamism represents a political ideology that claims to restore the pristine Islam of the 7th century and indeed appeals to Muslim history and sensibility, but in fact represents something new. As Roy notes, “The illusion held by the Islamic radicals is that they represent tradition, when in fact they express a negative form of westernization.”4
        4Olivier Roy, Globalized Islam, p. 20
Indeed, this claim to be restoring the "original Islam" seems to have developed at the time of the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920's, based on Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi movement (founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who was opposed by his own father and brother for his non-traditional interpretation of Islam).

This analysis may be accurate. If so, such an "originalist" cult appears to be a recurring theme within Islam, with the Assassin and Thug cults being its best-recognized predecessors. The new Islamic State is also part of this group. Other Islamic predecessors include the cult responsible for the vandalism long ago in Fatehpur Sikri, India's capital city during part of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585, some of which is pictured here. These cults insisted that images of people and/or animals violate Islamic law, just as the Wahhabis preach. But the cult that vandalized Fatehpur Sikri was not characteristic of the Muslim Mughal Empire, which commissioned the beautiful carvings in their capital city. That cult developed in Afghanistan, just as the very similar Taliban did more recently — and, oddly enough, just as did the much more moderate Mughal Empire. (The Mughal Empire also did not agree with the cults' "convert or die" theology, as shown by the fact that the Emperor in Fatehpur Sikri had three wives — one Muslim, one Hindu, and one Christian.)

There must be a reason this kind of aberration keeps coming up within Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood's extreme version of Islam may be recent, but it represents a recurring theme within this "religion".

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Obama Parties While World Burns

President Barack Obama parties, ...
... dancing nearly every dance ...

... while the world burns at home ...
... and abroad, in violence ...
... and flight, seeking at least temporary safety, ...
... especially in areas occupied by ISIS.
A little girl beheaded in Syria, executed by militants because she was of a Christian family. Allegedly, Christian children in Mosul are being systematically beheaded and their little heads placed on poles in a park as a warning to others who love their children.
Islamists killing a woman by slitting her throat and capturing her blood in a bowl, holding her firm as her life literally drains from her neck. Such forms of execution are intended to intimidate others.

Events there are so bad that Pope Francis and the Chaldean Christian Patriarch have called for an armed response in the Middle East. But it's not bad enough for President Obama to interrupt his vacation, and only barely to interrupt his golf game.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Radiation Sense

A lot of people, especially in this country, are frightened and paranoid about anything that has the words "atomic" or "nuclear" associated with it. The same goes for anything associated with the word "radiation".

It shouldn't be that way. We all get some radiation dose. Some of that is from dental and medical x-rays. More is from naturally occurring doses. Those at lower altitudes get lower doses unless they live in an area of radioactive bedrock or similar materials. The higher the altitude, the less atmosphere shielding us from radiation prodoced above us.

In fact, — Remember Three Mile Island? There was no one who was in that nuclear plant through the entire time of the crisis there. If there had been someone in the control room throughtout the crisis, however, that person would have received less radiation dose than did every person living at 1 mile altitude (such as Denver and Albuquerque) during that same time period. But, somehow, this natural dose never seems to reach anyone's consciousness.

Now there has been an item or two published in the newspaper suggesting that radiation may not be so bad, even in much higher doses than commonly considered safe.

Maybe over time more people will develop a more realistic view of radiation. One can only hope.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

More Thought Is Needed

Herewith, a few items sure to produce added thought — and perhaps a chuckle. The first two are from Sense of Events. No further comment is needed, I think, for any of them.

Monday, August 11, 2014

We Need This Policy Here

I received this by e-mail last week, and think it's worthy of further disseminiation. In fact, as the title says, we need to have this policy here. After all, these people are coming here because they want what we have created and built. And that's based on our environment and our culture. It's the same in Australia.

Australia says NO -- This will be the second Time Julia Gillard has done this!

She sure isn't backing down on her hard line stance and one has to appreciate her belief in the rights of her native countrymen.

A breath of fresh air to see someone lead with guts and determination. Australian Prime Minister does it again!!

The whole world needs a leader like this!

    Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.

Separately, Gillard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying she supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques. Quote:

IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT... Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.

This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!

Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.

We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.

This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, 'THE RIGHT TO LEAVE'.

If you aren't happy here then LEAVE. We didn't force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country that accepted you.

I'm informed this statement is actually a composite of statements by the Prime Minister and members of her Administration. I don't think that matters — it's still her policy and intention. And it's what every country needs to follow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

69 Years After Trinity

On this date 69 years ago — July 16, 1945 — the world was divided. Half was peaceful, and half was still at war. And an event in New Mexico changed history.

The war in Europe had been over for nine weeks, since the German surrender on May 8th. But the war in Asia and the Pacific continued and appeared likely to keep on for at least another year. Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin were meeting at Potsdam, mostly to make plans for post-war Europe. But Truman and Churchill were also outlining surrender terms for Japan.

While there, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson delivered a message to President Truman that said "Operated this morning. Diagnosis not complete but results seem satisfactory and already exceed expectations ... Dr. Groves pleased." This was the message that told Truman that the Trinity Test had taken place in New Mexico earlier in the day, and had been a success. As a result, Truman mentioned having an unspecified "powerful new weapon" to Stalin; presumably Churchill got more details. At the end of the conference, an ultimatum (that did not mention the new weapon) was given to Japan to surrender or meet "prompt and utter destruction".

When the Potsdam Conference began, the Allies were looking at plans for another year or more of war in the Pacific, including invasions of the Japanese home islands that would have made D-Day look small. Because of the Trinity Test (and the resulting operations), Japan surrendered — without an invasion — a little over a month after Trinity.

The Manhattan Project and its Trinity Test changed the course of the Pacific War. Today is the 69th anniversary of that change.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

D-Day 70th Anniversary

Mrs Critter and I recently returned from a tour related to the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and other events of the Second World War. Two World War II veterans — one from the 82nd Airborne Division and one from the 9th (and later the 42nd) Infantry Division. Both added a lot to our experience as they had been at a number of the places we visited, though the last time they had been there before now was when they helped capture these places in World War II.

The tour was the proverbial "drink from a firehose" on Normandy as we visited a whole series of D-Day sites on June 5th & 6th before going on to other World War II sites. We had far too little time at every site we visited. But it was enough to make us remember.

70 years ago, 160,000 troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Along with 24,000 paratroopers dropped into the area a few hours earlier, they began the final invasion of the European continent.

Omaha Beach was the most restricted and most heavily defended of the invasion beaches. One of the units landing on that beach that day was the 29th Infantry Division — the Blue and Gray Division. The division included National Guardsmen from the Virginia and Maryland area, and men who were not yet assigned to the Division when the 29th shipped out to England (including my father).

Maybe this would be a good day for a movie that includes the Normandy invasion. A good one that provides a good sense what the landing felt like (according to one of the men who was there) is Saving Private Ryan. (When the movie ends, consider that all its action took place in just one week.) Another excellent choice would be Band of Brothers — the second episode is all D-Day, though it's focused more on the Airborne rather than the Infantry. Or, for a broader picture, a good choice would be The Longest Day.

The picture below is apparently the picture one of my father's wartime letters referred to, saying this was the beach he landed on.

With all of this, this would be a good time to read the D-Day commemorations at Blackfive, specifically this and this, and to consider how terribly high the stakes were on D-Day in 1944.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Obama's Issues

President Barack Obama is being asked to deal with several issues at the same time lately. Actually, these issues have been there for a long time and just haven't been dealt with effectively.

One such issue is the Veterans Administration and its handling of health care for veterans. President Obama knew about this in his first presidential campaign, and promised to fix the problem. Instead, nothing has been done and the situation has gotten worse during his Administration.

That's bad enough on its own. But the whole country should be concerned about what it means for everyone under the horribly mis-named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

Part of the problem is that Obamacare does nothing in the field of health care. It is an insurance bill, not a health care bill. It does not create a single additional doctor or nurse or dentist or other health care provider. But its demands will demand more of those still working in the medical care system.

And that's before you add in all the people coming across the border. You know, the ones the Department of Homeland Security is busing (and flying) to relocation centers all over the country, those who are given a court date and released, etc. They're all going to need free lawyers, we're told, and free health care.

That's also before you add in the fact that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) isn't stable — it isn't finished. It's still being changed, both by the Department of Health and Human Services (formerly Kathleen Sebelius) and the White House (Barack Obama).

Of course, a lot of folks insist the President and his Cabinet departments don't have that kind of authority. They aren't allowed to change the laws passed by Congress and signed by the President, either by adding provisions to those laws or by declining to enforce those laws. If they do, it comes to this.

There also seem to be other differences in views between those inside the Administration cocoon and those outside it. Some of those differences are rather substantial.

Just one more. And this one may be a little snarky. But it gave me a chuckle, so here it is anyway.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Top 10 Amazing Things About the U.S.

Here (received from a friend in Arizona by e-mail) is a Canadian's version of a David Letterman Top 10 list — of U.S. American stupidities. It just makes you wanna shake your head in disbelief, it's so true.

  • Number 10 — Only in America could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000.00 per plate Obama campaign fund-raising event.
  • Number 9 — Only in America could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when they have a black President, a black Attorney General, and roughly 20% of the federal workforce is black while only 14% of the population is black, and more than 40% of all federal entitlements goes to black Americans — 3 times the rate that go to whites, and 5 times the rate that go to Hispanics!
  • Number 8 — Only in America could they have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner (the head of the Treasury Department) and Charles Rangel (who once ran the Ways and Means Committee), BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.
  • Number 7 — Only in America can they have terrorists kill people in the name of Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.
  • Number 6 — Only in America would they make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege, while they discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just 'magically' become American citizens (this probably should be number one or two).
  • Number 5 — Only in America could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be thought of as EXTREMISTS.
  • Number 4 — Only in America could you need to present a driver's license to cash a check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.
  • Number 3 — Only in America could people demand the government investigate whether oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas went up when the return on equity invested in a major U.S. Oil company (Marathon Oil) is less than half that of a company making tennis shoes (Nike). This in spite of the fact that, on each gallon, the federal government makes several times as much in taxes as the oil companies make in gross (pre-tax) profits.
  • Number 2 — Only in America could you collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a trillion dollars more than it has per year (for total spending of $7 million PER MINUTE) and complain that it doesn't have nearly enough money.
  • Number 1 on the list — and this is especially amazing! — Only in America could the richer people, who pay 86% of all income taxes, be accused of not paying their "fair share" by people who don't pay any income taxes at all.
You have to laugh, or you'll cry.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day, 2014

Today commemorates the United States formally becoming a nation.

That was 238 years ago.

And the U.S. is still the beacon of liberty for the whole world.

Happy Independence Day! Happy Fourth of July!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Media Gets It Wrong

Mrs Critter and I recently returned from a tour related to the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and other events of the Second World War. With that as background, I found this clipping fascinating.

Too bad this report wasn't anywhere near right. It would have saved much of the world a whole lot of trouble.

Update: I should have noted that it was during this period in the Landsberg Fortress prison that Hitler wrote Mein Kampf. That should have been a clue!

The Washington Redskins

Two comments on the flap over the name of the NFL team in our nation's capital. Both are in the form of cartoons.

'Nuff said.

Sub-Human Barbarians

Every time I think they can't possibly get more debased and perverted, they can't possibly sink to an even deeper level of barbarity, the sub-humans of al Qaeda and their ISIS affiliate prove me wrong.

ISIS fighters have told families in Iraq to hand over their daughters for sex, saying that the women must sleep with militants in order to cleanse themselves.

According to the Mirror, leaflets in the captured cities of Mosul and Tikrit claim the women – virgins or not – must join jihad, or Holy war, and cleanse themselves by sleeping with militants.

Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague recently held a conference to bring attention to the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war. That is really a crime against humanity — apparently now used almost exclusively by Islamists.

In Ninevah Province, this same ISIS published what has been described as a "rape fatwa". In pertinent part, their notice says

Therefor, we ask all the people of this province to bring forward unmarried women so they fulfill their duty of pleasing their brothers, the mujahideen. Who ever fails to comply, shall face consequences imposed by the sharia law. [red emphasis added, bold emphasis in original]
I have frequently noticed behavior by Islamists that would absolutely disqualify them from membership in the human race. But I don't think I have seen anything this barbaric since back in 2007 (also by al Qaeda sub-humans in Iraq). But for al Qaeda and its affiliates, this is just a normal al Qaeda day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The VA Scandal

You have to laugh. If you don't, you'll cry.

Not only is the VA hospital delaying treatment to our veterans (the average wait time in Phoenix was 115 days, compared to the VA's 14 day requirement), they're now destroying evidence of what they have done. And now we find that some veterans have lain in morgues, unburied, for perhaps 18 months without being buried — whether with or without the honors to which they are entitled.

But it's not just Phoenix. Last I saw, at least 26 VA hospitals are being investigated. It appears at least a number of these were using the same subterfuge to game the VA system. While it is possible these schemes were independently "invented", it is much more likely that these incredibly immoral activities were orchestrated from above — somewhere higher in the Veterans Administration heirarchy.

Here in New Mexico, the VA hospital masked some of its deficiencies by assigning sick veterans to doctors who don't work there. And when they were challenged, their response was like that given to

Retired Air Force lieutenant colonel Renee Sussman. She recounted a telephone conversation with a VA pathologist after a two-month delay in which she was told to “call the president” to take up her problems with the system before being hung up on.

How have the Obama Administration and its allies responded? Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist and chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said "People die every day." Eric Holder's Department of Justice has no plans to investigate, causing White House correspondent Jake Tapper to inquire "How many dead veterans do you need?". Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed a dozen VA reform bills, all of which have been blocked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (probably on instructions from the White House of President Barack Obama). The result is that Al Qaeda terrorists being held at Guantanamo get better health care than our veterans.

President Obama's personal response? He says he's "mad as hell" over the VA scandal, which he says he learned about through newspaper reports in recent weeks. But that's not believable.

Barack Obama was briefed on the issues of the Veterans Administration before his inauguration — before he was president — and since. If he really didn't know about these problems, it was a matter of willful ignorance.

Something more is needed. Yes, some of the VA's issues are problems of long standing. But those problems have worsened in the past five years under President Barack Obama. The House Republicans have at least been proposing possible reform actions. But their counterparts in the Senate and the Executive haven't been listening — haven't been talking — haven't been engaged. Saying they're "mad as hell" has been their only response.

It's not enough.

The Last Communist City

The following is provided without unnecessary commentary.

Cuba was one of the world’s richest countries before Castro destroyed it — and the wealth wasn’t just in the hands of a tiny elite. “Contrary to the myth spread by the revolution,” wrote Alfred Cuzan, a professor of political science at the University of West Florida, “Cuba’s wealth before 1959 was not the purview of a privileged few. . . . Cuban society was as much of a middle-class society as Argentina and Chile.” In 1958, Cuba had a higher per-capita income than much of Europe. “More Americans lived in Cuba prior to Castro than Cubans lived in the United States,” Cuban exile Humberto Fontova, author of a series of books about Castro and Guevara, tells me. “This was at a time when Cubans were perfectly free to leave the country with all their property. In the 1940s and 1950s, my parents could get a visa for the United States just by asking. They visited the United States and voluntarily returned to Cuba. More Cubans vacationed in the U.S. in 1955 than Americans vacationed in Cuba. Americans considered Cuba a tourist playground, but even more Cubans considered the U.S. a tourist playground.” Havana was home to a lot of that prosperity, as is evident in the extraordinary classical European architecture that still fills the city. Poor nations do not — cannot — build such grand or elegant cities.

But rather than raise the poor up, Castro and Guevara shoved the rich and the middle class down. The result was collapse. “Between 1960 and 1976,” Cuzan says, “Cuba’s per capita GNP in constant dollars declined at an average annual rate of almost half a percent. The country thus has the tragic distinction of being the only one in Latin America to have experienced a drop in living standards over the period.”

    — Michael J. Totten

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Superb Memorial Day Tribute

The Path Of The Warrior

Give yourself a gift. Take the time to watch this video.

Hat Tip: BizPacReview via WeaselZippers

Further comment is unnecessary.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Since I Be Votin'

Got this by e-mail. It's too good not to pass on.

Since I be votin’ for Obama 4 times,
My taxes have gone up,
My gas has doubled,
My employer stopped offering health insurance,
My wife and sons have lost their jobs,
My Momma's welfare check is late,
And they are tryin’ to take my guns away.

Damn you George Bush!

Friday, April 11, 2014

This Is Scary!

This starts out as a fairly complex story. But it ends up with some very scary simplicity.

There are a lot of conflicting claims in the run-up to the current situation. The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) claims Cliven Bundy was grazing his cattle illegally on 600,000 acres of federal land. And the BLM claims it has banned grazing on that land to protect habitat for a species of desert tortoise the government says is endangered. But Bundy says the land is his and has belonged to the Bundy family for generations. His family has been running cattle there since the 1870's, long before the BLM even existed.

This sounds a lot like the MacDonalds in New Mexico. Their ranch land was borrowed in World War II — the Trinity Test was managed from the MacDonalds' ranch house, and took place on the MacDonald ranch. The land was subsequently taken by the federal government (it's now part of the White Sands Missile Range). Neither MacDonald nor his family has ever been compensated for the federal government taking their land.
So what has the BLM done? After claiming the land for the federal government, they first restricted the number of cattle Bundy would be allowed to graze on that land, and then banned his use altogether. Bundy ignored the BLM's edicts.

So now the BLM has changed tactics. They have banned Bundy from even setting foot on any of that land. They have sent 200 or so agents (rustlers?) to collect his cattle from their land. They arrested one of Bundy's sons for shooting film of the landscape — and, incidentally, the cattle roundup. They used a taser on another son — multiple times. They assaulted one of Bundy's daughters, knocking her to the ground.

But none of that is in the scary part. Flagrant government overreach, yes. Deliberate stupidity, yes. But not really scary. What's scary is the specific reason why Dave Bundy was arrested. According to the news story,

On Sunday, the Logandale, Nev.-based Moapa Valley Progress reported that Dave Bundy, son of rancher Cliven Bundy, was arrested while taking photographs of his family’s cattle that are being rounded up by federal agents. According to the report, Bundy was violating an arbitrary "First Amendment" zone that had been established by federal agents. Worse yet, federal agents also deployed snipers against the man.
“He was doing nothing but standing there and filming the landscape,” Ryan Bundy said of his brother Dave. “We were on the state highway, not even off of the right-of-way. Even if they want to call [the area that we were filming] federal land; which it’s not; we weren’t even on it. We were on the road.”

None of the family members on the road were armed, but 11 BLM vehicles each with two agents arrived and surrounded him as he began filming the cattle, Paul Joseph Watson said at Infowars.

“They also had four snipers on the hill above us all trained on us. We were doing nothing besides filming the area,” Ryan added.

Bundy also said federal agents told them they had no First Amendment rights except in the areas so marked.

"The BLM has established two fenced areas near the City of Mesquite, that they have designated as free speech areas for members of the public to express their opinions," the Progress said.

So the federal government, represented by the Bureau of Land Management, has arrogated to itself the authority to determine where and how US citizens can exercise their constitutional rights, or even whether citizens have any rights. Let me restate: The federal government says it can determine when, where, and if you have any of your inalienable constitutional rights. That's scary!

My reaction to that is like Mark Steyn's, and that of someone who posted a sign on the "First Amendment Area" fence: The First Amendment is not an area. And as Donald Sensing noted: You probably thought that the entire United States was a "First Amendment Zone." At least that's what the Constitution says.

And then there's the BLM's statement about the younger Bundy's arrest:

“An individual is in custody in order to protect public safety and maintain the peace,” BLM officials said in an email. “The individual has rights and therefore details about the arrest will not be disclosed until and unless charges are filed.”
That statement qualifies for a "Say what?!?!?" moment.

And then there's this additional information:

Making matters worse, Bundy says the family has nowhere to go for assistance.

“We don’t have any policing representation,” he said. “Our local police will not respond. The County Sheriff will not respond. NHP will not respond.”

Bundy's father, Cliven, had reportedly called for help, but was told to get off the phone or face arrest, the Progress added.

That's pretty scary, too.

Oh. Did you notice? The BLM had snipers drawing down on unarmed peaceful citizens. Aside from the impropriety of that action, just by itself, there's this:

As I wrote only last week, if someone wants to stroll in to Fort Hood and shoot as many people as he's minded to, the fellows on the receiving end have to call 911 and wait for the county sheriff to send a couple of deputies - because "the only government department without a military force at its disposal is the military". But the Bureau of Land Management has snipers.
That, too, is scary.

What makes the whole situation even more surreal is the stated reason for the land withdrawal, cattle roundup, arrest, assault, etc. It's supposedly to protect habitat for an endangered species of desert tortoise. But, because of budget cuts, the federal government itself has killed hundreds of the tortoises. In other words, the federal government is much more of a danger to the endangered tortoises than Cliven Bundy could ever be, even if he tried.

That sounds a lot like something I ran into in the 1990s at the Rocket Lab on Edwards Air Force Base. There was a habitat for a species of endangered desert tortoise just below the rocket engine test stands. The California state animal protection and conservation department insisted that the area below the test stands be carefully walked before a test, and all tortoises removed, to be replaced in their exact locations and orientations after the test. The irony was that the Air Force was never responsible for the death of even a single tortoise, but the state personnel were responsible for a number of tortoise deaths on Edwards AFB.
All that is a good part of the reason that "Many believe that [the endangered tortoise's habitat] is merely a smokescreen to take control of the land." (Side question: Is it really the federal government, or is it Harry Reid? He certainly seems dishonest enough.) Why the suspicion? As the article notes,
The government doesn’t have the money to run the center to save the tortoise, but they can spend at last report at least a million dollars to move against Cliven Bundy to supposedly protect the tortoise, while they are actually killing them.
Can you see why I think this story is so scary? Rights restricted and denied. Citizens threatened. And that's without even considering whether or not Cliven Bundy is right in saying the federal government stole his land.

UPDATE: Suspicion confirmed. As reported by InfoWars:

The Bureau of Land Management, whose director was Sen. Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) former senior adviser, has purged documents from its web site stating that the agency wants Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's cattle off of the land his family has worked for over 140 years in order to make way for solar panel power stations.

Deleted from but reposted for posterity by the Free Republic, the BLM document entitled "Cattle Trespass Impacts" directly states that Bundy's cattle "impacts" solar development, more specifically the construction of "utility-scale solar power generation facilities" on "public lands."

"Non-Governmental Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of trespass cattle," the document states.

Another BLM report entitled "Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone" (BLM Technical Note 444) reveals that Bundy's land in question is within the "Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone and surrounding area" which is part of a broad U.S. Department of Energy program for "Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States" on land "managed" by BLM.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: It was tense for a while, as this shows

but this standoff is over — for now — and Bundy's cattle that were being held near Mesquite, NV (and that BLM said it was going to sell) have been released back to Bundy by BLM.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Religion In Your Life? Or Only In Your Church?

It's getting harder to find justice in the civil courts of this state and country. But sometimes something reasonable and appropriate does happen. Here's a case in point:

The Court of Appeals in Washington, DC appears to be taking the view that the law (in this case, Obamacare) actually means what it says. In the case at the bar, the statute says that Obamacare subsidies are only available for health insurance plans purchased through the state healthcare exchanges, and not for plans purchased through the exchange run by the federal government. The subsidies were extended to the federal exchange by IRS fiat, contrary to the law, thus provoking the lawsuit. Now it appears the Court of Appeals will side with the law and the plaintiffs. That's sure to give the White House heart attacks, so it's sure to be appealed to the US Supreme Court — perhaps arriving there about the same time as the lawsuit over the Obama Administration attempting to compel the Little Sisters of the Poor to direct others to provide contraception and abortion drugs on their behalf.

Meanwhile, too, we're waiting to see what the Supreme Court will do in the Hobby Lobby case. (I forget the name of the other primary plaintiff in that case — the Mennonite wood products manufacturer.) The decision, when it comes, will answer two key questions:

  1. Does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (passed unanimously in the House and nearly so in the Senate, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton) mean what it says?
  2. Do Americans enjoy religious liberty protections when they are at church, or do Americans enjoy religious liberty protections when they are Americans?

I'm not sure I hold out a lot of hope. One reason is an item in the news today. (See this report, too.) The US Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a case from the New Mexico Supreme Court. In it, an Albuquerque professional photographer would not accept a job to assist in celebrating a gay commitment ceremony. (At the time, the NM Supreme Court had not yet unilaterally rewritten the state's marriage law, so it was a commitment ceremony rather than a marriage.) The gay couple easily got another photographer, and paid less in the process, but sued this photographer for illegal discrimination. The courts convicted the photographer of discrimination, and the NM Supreme Court upheld the conviction. Comments made by the justices in their opinions include that the photographer is “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.” and that the photographer "must surrender the faithful practice of their religion in the name of citizenship." And the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

An article about this case, written at the time of the New Mexico Supreme Court decision, can be found here. A current update that also notes some of the comparable cases is here. Some of those other cases are also discussed here. Perhaps the US Supreme Court will take one of these other cases and use it to make clear that the New Mexico Supreme Court screwed up.

I have heard it said that the best way to attack a bad law is to insist on its vigorous enforcement. Perhaps we can do that here. No, not against the Left — they have no principles or scruples to press them on. But perhaps we can press one of the Left's key allies. Like this:

That may be the quickest and easiest way to get everyone to agree that religious principles matter.