Monday, 30 August 2010

Movie Review: The Expendables

The expression "B movie" historically referred to a low budget movie made as the 2nd feature of a double bill; some "filler" entertainment. However, the term has come to mean a movie of a lesser quality, something which may be worth a look but not necessarily something where you'd shell out your hard earned bucks to see at the theatre. Wait for the DVD; rent it at Blockbuster; hope that one of the specialty channels will show it at some point. Watch it if you've nothing better to do; watch it if you're sick in bed... and can't get up to change the channel.

But don't shell out your hard earned bucks to see it at the cinema.

39% at Rotten Tomatoes? [groan] 2 hours of my life! 2 hours that I will never get back! God only gave us so much time in this world and I just spend 2 hours of my precious allotment on 39%. The Expendables? The dispensables!

"Yes, but did you like it?" I hear you ask.

It was horrible. But I know from experience that if I like a genre, a certain type of film like an action or spy film, it is almost like I can't stay away; I just have to see it even if I suspect it's going to be a stinker. After all, how will I know exactly how bad it is unless I see it? How else to explain my presence in the theatre when Rotten Tomatoes ranks it with 39%? Okay, I went because I wanted a theatre hotdog.

Sylvester Stallone is an industry, a movie icon and there is no denying him as a cultural influence over the years in the film industry. He's had his ups with the likes of Rocky and Rambo and he's had his downs with some forgettable films but he has certainly succeeded in imprinting his name on our collective consciousness. Consequently, this film under his tutelage was in itself a guarantee of public attention. However, Mr. Stallone just didn't stop with his own name on the marquee; he managed to attract a considerable list of big name action stars to develop an ensemble film. The term "ensemble cast" means that each actor gets roughly equal time so there is no single star per se.

Developing a story about a group of elite mercenaries who have a mission to overthrow a Latin American dictator, Mr. Stallone's intention was to pay tribute to the blockbuster action films of the 1980s and early 1990s. He managed to gather together various stars from those decades, including Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger (the latter two in cameo roles), plus more recent stars such as Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Steve Austin. Looking at such a list for the cast would seem like a guaranteed hit, a sure fire way of bringing in the crowds but I repeat that the film was horrible. Ha! Is that going to stop you diehard fans from going to see it? [laughs] No way! ... I just realized: "die hard" fans, a sideways reference to Mr. Willis? :-)

I must admit that I found the one scene where we have Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester on the screen at the same time amusing. Sylvester and Arnold are playing fellow mercenaries while Bruce is the man doing the hiring. Bruce questions both of them about doing the job during which Sylvester and Arnold exchange sarcastic quips. Finally Arnold says, "Give him the job. He likes to play in the jungle."

As Arnold walks off. Bruce asks, "What's the matter with him?" to which Sylvester replies, "Oh, he just wants to be president."

Unfortunately, that's the high point of the entire film! Well, at least for me. Nevertheless, there are still enough blowing-stuff-up, fist-fightin', testosterone-filled moments to satisfy the most rabid fan of action films and those with a calculator will have their work cut out for themselves trying to tally the body count.

According to Wikipedia, there are a few back stories of interest. Mr. Stallone asked Jean-Claude Van Damme but he refused so Stallone asked Van Damme's other Universal Solder star, Dolph Lundgren. Stallone asked Steven Segal to do a cameo but Segal refused. Sandra Bullock was rumoured to be involved - she and Stallone were in Demolition Man (1993) - but that didn't pan out. Whatever the case, Sylvester did manage to attract a lot of interest in this project.

Despite a mixed critical response to the film, it has done decently at the box office. It had a budget of $80 million and seems to have now made a profit with gross revenue of $104 million. Sylvester has been reported to be mulling over a sequel depending on how well the film does and was quoted as saying, "If this does perform, I think it will open a little more liquidity in funding the sequel. I have an idea ready to go. People think doing a sequel is easy, but it's not because you need the element of surprise. I'm going to try to do something that's quite radical."

For all the trivia aficionados:
  • Dolph Lundgren, the Swedish actor, got his break playing opposite Stallone in Stallone's movie Rocky IV (1985).
  • The restaurant chain Planet Hollywood, competition to the Hard Rock Café, was started in 1991 with the backing of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. The chain has gone bankrupt a couple of times. Arnold backed out in 2000.
  • Bruce Willis got his big break in the television series Moonlighting, from 1985 to 1989.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent was deemed so thick in his first film Hercules in New York, 1970 that his lines were dubbed after production.
  • Mickey Rourke for his role in the movie The Wrestler (2008) was nominated for an Oscar but lost out to Sean Penn. Rourke left acting from 1991 to 1995 to go back to his career as a boxer.


Rotten Tomatoes: The Expendables: 39%

Wikipedia: The Expendables

Wikipedia: B movie


Thursday, 26 August 2010

We always come back to Hitler

For quite some time now, we have all been able to see in various media outlets how politicians are compared to Hitler. While on the one hand this can be an amusing way of criticizing somebody for their policies, it does on the other hand distract from an honest debate about the issues. In fact, such a comparison in print or as an image or a video can serve as a scare tactic whereby the author is not convincing you of the legitimacy of his arguments; he is scaring you into believing him, into believing the veracity of his point of view.

Hitler is the embodiment of evil. Nazism probably evokes in all of us a visceral reaction to the horrors of World War II. Anyone who has any knowledge of WW II reacts negatively to any mention of this. Consequently, making the association between Hitler and anybody, between Nazism and any proposed policy or idea is a sure fire way of making a connection in the mind of the public to something horrible; so horrible, it must be stopped at any cost. At that point, rational debate stops; a search for the facts stops; the quest for the truth stops and we all hunker down in our tightly held beliefs only to periodically emerge to point an accusatory finger at our opponents and yell some obscenity.

I have seen some pretty funny stuff using this Hitler comparison but I have also seen some pretty serious stuff using this comparison. To be perfectly clear, I find the serious stuff to be quite stupid. This is not a rational debate; this is an example pure and simple of scare tactics meant to impress the target audience with what turns out to be an outlandish point of view. I say outlandish because a close examination of the idea behind the Hitler comparison invariably leads to an argument with holes like Swiss cheese.

Barack Obama

I was a little taken aback when I first saw this image. In doing a search on Google, one can uncover all sorts of similar pictures all linking Obama to the likeness of Hitler and the Nazis. This is quite remarkable imagery and certainly does a lot to evoke an idea of impending doom.

With Google searches, I can turn up George Bush as Hitler, Bill Clinton as Hitler, Hillary as Hitler, etc., etc. Ha! Others have certainly found this a good way to voice their concern and/or disagreement with a politician.

Sarah Palin: Death Panels
In the middle of 2009, debate was running hot on Barack Obama's proposed health care reform. On August 7, 2009, Sarah Palin posted on her Facebook page a note in which she described how the Obama plan would enable "death panels". Supposedly, elderly people would go before a review panel that would judge whether the person received health care or not. Palin characterised this as the panel would determine who lived and who died. All of this was linked to a Nazi euthanasia program called Action T4. Fair? Reading about the actual T4 program is horrifying and making such a comparison to Obama's health care plan is not just unjustified; it's downright insulting.

Of course, none of this was in the least bit true but that didn't stop an already misinformed and scared public from quickly making the connection between Obama and Hitler. Death Panels? Next stop: death camps! PolitiFact.Com conclusively proved that all this was just a bunch of nonsense but then went on to award Sarah Palin the dubious distinction of "Lie of the Year" for 2009.

Barney Frank: heckler
Mr. Frank has been the United States House Representative for Massachusetts's 4th congressional district since 1981. He is a member of the Democratic Party. On August 18, 2009, he participated at town hall meeting in Dartmouth, Massachusetts where the following video was shot.

This video shows Mr. Frank at a Q & A confronted by a misinformed woman who holds up a defaced picture of Obama as a likeness of Hitler and asks about the Nazi T4 program and Obama's supposed death panels. Barney then lets the woman have it belittling her about her comparisons to Hitler and Nazism of being completely unworthy of comment and an affront to American politics and civilization.

“As you stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis, my answer to you is, as I said, before, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated.”

Comedy: Yes, the Nazis can be funny
Consider it commentary but it is certainly amusing commentary. The film The Downfall: Hitler and the End of the Third Reich (2004) has a scene during which Hitler talks with his staff in German with subtitles. People have taken this scene and replaced the subtitles with dialogue relating to modern events with quite hilarious results. I feel sorry however if you speak German as I suspect these little video clips would not be quite so funny.

The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
In the Fall of 2008, the Conservative party with their minority rule in parliament was in deep trouble over its budget. The opposition parties had gathered together as a coalition with the intention of defeating the Conservatives and taking over power. On December 4, 2008, Prime Minister Harper convinced the Governor General Michaëlle Jean to prorogue parliament, that is, suspend its activities temporarily until January 2009. Of course, this was done by Harper to avoid a confidence motion which would have surely seen him defeated; it allowed his party time to regroup.

Proroguing parliament under such circumstances is so rare, it is tantamount to sidestepping democracy itself and many in Canada were outraged at such a flagrant disregard for the political process. This video, from the movie The Downfall captures quite humorously the view of many about the Prime Minister, Mr. Stephen Harper.

YouTube: Hitler Rants About George Bush

YouTube: Hitler Rants About Hitler Parodies

Godwin's Law
Yep, somebody has actually codified this idea. Back in 1989, an author by the name of Mike Godwin humorously observed: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." He noticed that sooner or later, people start making comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis.

Godwin was talking about the Internet and online discussions but this idea dates even farther back in time.

Reductio ad Hitlerum
Coined by an academic ethicist, Leo Strauss, in 1953, this expression refers to the idea whereby somebody compares a policy to a policy advocated by Hitler and therefore said policy is wrong. Obviously such argumentation is wrong but it can certainly be effective in evoking a visceral reaction to a policy with which one disagrees. It's a lousy argument but it's great politics.

Where will it end?

On July 18, 2010, the Iowa Tea Party erected a billboard about socialism showing Hitler, Stalin and Obama. Fair? Funny?

Washington Post - Sunday, July 18, 2010
The tea party makes trouble with a capital T By Dana Milbank

The National Post - Jul 16/2010
Dear Tea Party, please quit trying to help by Jonathon Narvey

So, as I once again turn my attention back to the latest headlines to see what's going on in the world, I bid you, "Sieg Heil!" (Hail victory) :-)


Wikipedia: Godwin's Law

Wikipedia: Reductio ad Hitlerum

PolitiFact.Com: Sarah Palin falsely claims Barack Obama runs a 'death panel'
August 7, 2009

PolitiFact.Com: PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: 'Death panels'
December 18, 2009

Wikipedia: Action T4
This article is about the actual Nazi "death panels".


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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Dearborn, Michigan: Watch out for extremists!

Dearborn, Michigan is home to the largest mosque in the United States. 30% of its population is of Arab descent and many of those people have apparently been in the city for generations.

On June 18, 19 and 20, 2010, Dearborn played host to the 15th Annual Dearborn Arab International Festival. As per the web site of American Arab Chamber of Commerce, this event is described with the following: "Highlights of the festival include 30-international food booths, large carnival, interactive children's stage, Arab merchandise, calligraphy, and bread making." Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly Jr. and Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad call the festival a family event.

During the festival, 4 Christian missionaries who were demonstrating outside were arrested by police supposedly for disturbing the peace.

According to the Press & Guide: Negeen Mayel, 18, of California; Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, 29, of Virginia; Paul Rezkalla, 18 of New York, and David Wood, 34, also of New York, face fines of up to $500 each and up to 93 days in jail. Mayel was also charged with disobeying an officer.

This incident has sparked a national furor over the arrests of these missionaries and the possible violation of their constitutional rights. Even Newt Gingrich has weighed into this. According to the Detroit Free Press of August 4:

In a letter published last week on the Human Events Web site as well his own Web site, the former U.S. House speaker says that the jailing of the four Christian missionaries is an example of Islamic extremism coming to the U.S.

"This is a clear case of freedom of speech and the exercise of religious freedom being sacrificed in deference to shari'a's intolerance against the preaching of religions other than Islam," Gingrich wrote in a letter published last week.

Gingrich said the missionaries were handing out copies of Christian literature, which is "of course, forbidden by shari'a's rules on proselytizing."

Just what the heck is going on?

The Detroit Free Press of August 4:

The missionaries are with a Web site called Acts 17 Apologetics, which seeks to convert Muslims. They visited the Arab festival in 2009, producing a video that critics say was selectively edited to make the city and Muslims look bad.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly Jr. and others have said the missionaries were trying to provoke people when they came back to the festival this year in order to gain attention and raise money for their small group.

They note there were several other Christian groups at the Arab festival, as in previous years, who had no problems.

The Press & Guide of July 27, 2010:

At the heart of the case are the group’s alleged actions during the festival, which took place June 18-20.

City officials said in a written statement July 9, that at approximately 8:30 p.m. June 18, Dearborn police officers received a complaint, from a Christian volunteer working the festival, regarding members of Acts 17 Apologetics harassing and intimidating patrons of the festival and that a large crowd was gathering.

Officers responded to the area where “a large agitated crowd had gathered due to the actions of the individuals of Acts 17 Apologetics,” according to the city’s public information department.

“The four members of Acts 17 Apologetics chose to escalate their behavior, which appeared well-orchestrated and deliberate, and chose not to follow the directions being given to them by the responding officers,” city officials said in a press release. “The behavior of these individuals drew and incited a large crowd to a point where they were in violation of city of Dearborn misdemeanor ordinances of breach of peace and failure to obey the lawful order of a police officer.”

Hold on there a sec...

The missionaries are with a Web site called Acts 17 Apologetics, which seeks to convert Muslims.


They visited the Arab festival in 2009, producing a video that critics say was selectively edited to make the city and Muslims look bad.

What? Selectively edited? That doesn't seem fair. In fact, it doesn't seem to be very Christian.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly Jr. and others have said the missionaries were trying to provoke people when they came back to the festival this year in order to gain attention and raise money for their small group.

Provoke people? You mean they weren't there to spread the gospel; they were there to cause a ruckus?

They note there were several other Christian groups at the Arab festival, as in previous years, who had no problems.

So, Christians at this festival are not the problem, it's this particular group, Acts 17 Apologetics.

Gingrich said: "This is a clear case of freedom of speech and the exercise of religious freedom being sacrificed in deference to shari'a's intolerance against the preaching of religions other than Islam"

What? How did he make that leap of logic? What's Sharia got to do with the Dearborn Police Force? Christian groups have been at the festival for years and there hasn't been a problem: this is the 15th annual festival. Acts 17 Apologetics have been on record in 2009 for causing problems; now they come back in 2010 and do it again.

From the Detroit Free Press, July 27, 2010:

Scott Cherry, 45, of Dearborn said the missionaries were misleading the public with edited videos posted on YouTube. The missionaries said on the videos that Christians are oppressed and persecuted in Dearborn.

The four missionaries "didn't tape all the other Christians" at the festival distributing literature, Cherry, a counter-demonstrator, said.

From the Press & Guide, July 27, 2010

In the letter dated July 9, Dearborn Mayor O’Reilly states, “the city of Dearborn has been under attack for several years by a group identifying themselves as Acts 17 Apologetics. They arrive in Dearborn with the intent to disrupt a local cultural festival and misrepresent facts in order to further their mission of raising funds through emotional response. The funds they raise are then used to finance travel and cameras to disrupt other events in other cities.”

He goes on to say that the group’s videos, which were posted on “YouTube” shortly after their arrests, are “a distortion of the group’s experience and a misrepresentation of the Dearborn Arab International Festival.”

“This video was filmed on June 19 and was edited by Acts 17 Apologetics to appear that the video is showing members of Acts 17 Apologetics being arrested for handing out Christian literature,” O’Reilly said.

City officials maintain that the four individuals representing Acts 17 Apologetics were not arrested for handing out literature, and in fact, were not handing out literature at the time of their arrest.

“This issue has nothing to do with First Amendment Rights; it has to do with public safety and the individual choices made by the arrested parties,” city officials said prior to the arraignment.

Hey, what a minute! These guys are falsifying the video evidence. They're trying to twist things around in their favor and hoodwink us all into believing something which isn't true. That's not fair; that's not very Christian.

Letter from the Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr. - July 9, 2010
(full text below at end of this article)

What the heck is this Acts 17 Apologetics?

From their web site, I find the Mission Statement of Acts 17 Apologetics:

The mission of Acts 17 Apologetics Ministries is to glorify God by defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

We also refute the arguments of those who oppose the True Gospel, most commonly the arguments of Muslims and atheists.

From their web site, Acts 17 Apologetics: About Us... Ah, I only see two names: Nabeel Qureshi and David Wood.

Who is Nabeel Qureshi? The About Us page states : Dr. Nabeel Qureshi is a former devout Muslim who was convinced of the truth of Christianity through apologetics and a spiritual search for God. Since his conversion...

Who is David Wood? The About Us page states: David Wood is a Teaching Fellow in Philosophy. A former atheist, David converted...

Hold it! They're converts? Oh boy, how many converts have I known who don't just convert but go to the ultimate extreme in the far end of the spectrum of belief in anything? They're right; everybody else is wrong. see my blog Extremism: I'm right, you're wrong (September 13, 2010)

From Press & Guide, July 27, 2010:
Two of the missionaries who were arrested say that Islam is a violent religion and that Christianity is the only true faith.

Hmmm, now let me get a proper picture of this group:
  • refute the arguments of those who oppose
  • converts
  • Christianity is the only true faith
Oh boy, this is a recipe for tolerance and understanding. Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe we have extremists in our midst and they ain't Muslim, they're Christian!!!

Good Christians, rise up against the ring-wing extremists in our midst. They seek to mislead us. They seek not peace, love and understanding; they seek war, hatred and ignorance.

"My" Christianity is tolerance.

"My" Christianity is acceptance.

"My" Christianity is peace.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
(Matthew 7:15 King James Version)

Let's get a grip, folks. The sky is not falling.

But this is what's happening:

Right-wing, extremist elements are at work in all camps everywhere. For them, the ends justify the means. This story isn't about a Christian group; it is about an extremist group. Act 17 Apologetics deliberately provoked a confrontation with the authorities in order to martyr themselves. They falsified video footage in order to seek out public sympathy to their cause. Their ultimate goal is to convert the world to their view. They are not interested in peaceful coexistence; they are only interested in domination.

The Ninth Commandment reads:

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. (Exodus 20:16)

Stop. Think. Reflect. If you are about to rise up against your neighbor, something is very, very wrong.


15th Annual Dearborn Arab International Festival
June 18, 19 and 20, 2010

Detroit Free Press - July 27, 2010
Rally in Dearborn backs arrested missionaries
Did Christians go too far? Or did city quash free speech?

Press & Guide - July 27, 2010
ACLU joins those defending rights of Act 17 Apologetics at Arab Festival - July 27, 2010
Muslim candidate leads rally in Dearborn for Christian evangelists arrested at Arab Fest

UPI (United Press International) - July 27, 2010
Muslim-led rally: Free arrested Christians

Detroit Free Press - August 4, 2010
Newt Gingrich calls Dearborn arrests of missionaries extremism

Exposing David Wood: Of Mosques and Men, Pt. 1
Posted on 24 June 2010 by Garibaldi

Acts 17 Apologetics

Dearborn and Islam: an open letter to Newt Gingrich by Ali Elhajj
I write to you today as an American, Evangelical Christian, former Muslim, and an Arab who lived in Dearborn, Michigan for over 10 years. I also write to you as someone who lived through a civil war in the Middle East and now dedicates his life, through his work in the name of Christ, to reconciliation and understanding between Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians.

Newt Gingrich Plays Loose With The Facts To Bash Muslims by Matt Buss - July 28, 2010

References: Dearborn, Michigan

Wikipedia: Dearborn, Michigan,_Michigan

In the 2000 census, Arab Americans comprised 30% of Dearborn's population; many have been in the city for generations. More Iraqi immigrants have been arriving as refugees from the continued war in their country since 2003. The majority of recent Arab immigrants are Muslims. In the first half of the twentieth century, it was predominately Christian Arabs who immigrated to Metro Detroit. Lebanese descendants comprise the largest proportion of Arab Americans in Dearborn.

U.S. Census Bureau: The Arab Population 2000
Ten Places With Largest Arab Population
Dearborn: 29.85% of the total population is Arab

NPR (National Public Broadcasting) - May 12, 2005
Largest Mosque in USA opens in Dearborn

From the Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr. - July 9, 2010

Please consider the following before condemning us

The City of Dearborn has been under attack for several years by a group identifying themselves as Acts 17 Apologetics. They arrive in Dearborn with the intent to disrupt a local cultural festival and misrepresent facts in order to further their mission of raising funds through emotional response. The funds they raise are then used to finance travel and cameras to disrupt other events in other cities.

In our case, the targeted event is not about the Muslim faith or its believers. It is a Middle Eastern cultural festival sponsored by a Chamber of Commerce and a local charitable service organization. Neither of these two entities have a religious alignment. Like events in cities all over our nation, this festival has a variety of entertainment and interests, including rides, games, performances, foods, souvenirs, and community information. Also like other events, it relies on sponsorships and fees to cover its costs. Large tents are set up to house organizations and businesses that want to have access to the thousands of people attending this event. These groups pay a modest fee for the privilege and are allowed to carry out their activity in an assigned space within the tents. There is no restriction placed on any lawful activity carried out in this manner, including preaching the word of God.

This past year, five Christian organizations and two Muslim organizations chose this lawful method of reaching the attendees. This is similar to past years and there has never been a problem or controversy about this type of preaching or religious engagement. The total number of table vendors at the festival exceeds eighty, so these seven faith-based groups represent a relatively small aspect of the festival. In all the materials released by Acts 17 Apologetics they have failed to mention this manner of preaching and evidencing the teaching of Jesus Christ, even though they have been offered the same opportunity each year.

In addition to the booths, we have a free speech zone at the festival for those that want free access to the festival to promote their message. This space was utilized this past year by two different Christian groups who were allowed to preach and proselytize the entire weekend without any interference. Acts 17 Apologetics did not mention this either, even though they were within 30 feet of this space when they pretended to be arrested.

Yes, I said pretended to be arrested. In a video they have posted on their website, they are standing near the Ferris wheel when some police officers approached them on Saturday, June 19. They lead you to believe that they were arrested shortly thereafter for passing out Christian flyers. Although they were temporarily detained for violating the festival rules regarding the location of the distribution of literature, they were not arrested on that day. And they were never arrested for passing out flyers.

On Friday, June 18, they behaved very differently than what you saw on film from Saturday, June 19. They were not handing out flyers but were aggressively engaging passers-by in confrontational debate when they were arrested and cited for Breach of the Peace and Failure to Obey the Lawful Order of a Police Officer. See for more details.

Acts 17 always retained the right to carry out their activities in a lawful manner at the festival. The video taken on Saturday illustrates that the group returned to the festival after the four arrests on Friday.

Acts 17 Apologetics has been at the Arab Festival in past years and is well aware of the written policy with regard to crowd control. They are also aware of a federal court decision in favor of the Dearborn policy of controlled access to the festival site. This is standard practice at events all over the country. A site is identified and authorized by the government entity as a special event site. In the case of the Arab Festival, it is a number of commercial blocks between the rear alley accesses behind the businesses on either side of the commercial road.

Despite knowing this, Acts 17 Apologetics lead the viewers of the distorted video to believe that they are on public sidewalks. For the duration of the three-day event, the public sidewalks in front of the stores and businesses in the event district are no longer “public” in terms of the application of the First Amendment. They are in an area controlled to protect public safety during the event because of the extreme number of people occupying a space that was never intended to support that much activity. This practice has been upheld by the Supreme Court in “Hefron vs. International Society for Krishna Consciousness”

And that is what the Federal Court upheld in June.

The court decisions protect every community that must balance personal freedom
with the need to provide public safety during an unusual situation.

At the time he was arrested on Friday, June 18, Mr. Wood had gathered a large crowd around him, blocking a key access point between the tents. The crowd was forced to grow bigger solely because people could not pass. Those who created this public danger did so with the knowledge that they were violating the laws because they wanted to be arrested while their cohorts were actively recording the event for posting on the web. They knew that they could inflame the passions of viewers who would be taken in by their misrepresentation of what was really going on. They have even found media that would put them on air to repeat these inaccurate representations without seeking information or the truth from others.

It makes a good news story to say that a community is infringing on peoples’ rights especially when it is couched in the true bias of generating negative feelings about another religion. The real violation of First Amendment rights occurs with Acts 17 Apologetics trying to imply they were the victim when the real violation is their attack on the City of Dearborn for having tolerance for all religions including believers in the Koran.

Dearborn is a true American City that welcomes everyone in the full spirit of our great constitution. We are a community of faith that is dedicated to the welfare of everyone whether resident or guest. These gross misrepresentations have caused us to come together in a stronger way.

Almost a year ago, after earlier attacks by Acts 17 Apologetics on Dearborn, I hosted a meeting with the Dearborn Area Ministerial Association (DAMA), a group of mostly Christian religious leaders, but inclusive of all faiths in Dearborn. I asked them to review the video from the 2009 festival, examine the facts and measure the impact on our community. The discussion was frank and sincere.

After that meeting with DAMA, a separate group of Dearborn Christian evangelical ministers released a written criticism of the actions and misrepresentations of Acts 17 Apologetics.

They released their statement only after trying to contact Acts 17 Apologetics to engage them in a discussion of how to achieve the goal of converting others to Christ. They were unsuccessful in getting a response from Acts 17.

The truth is Christian evangelists are active at the Arab Festival. They participate in lawful ways. While many are local, some, like world renowned minister and author Josh McDowell, come to the festival because it offers a large number of people who can be engaged in the message of the New Testament. He and the other evangelists followed the rules and have been successful in achieving their goals. Mr. McDowell posted positive recordings of his experience at the festival in 2009

These videos provide a sharp contrast to the recordings of Acts 17 Apologetics and, better yet, they have only truth as their motive.

Dearborn is not your enemy nor are the people who live here. People who would promote hatred and lies to get others to act in ways that are contrary to what America stands for are the real enemy for all lovers of our country. History is full of horrific events that were manufactured by lies to get good people to act purely emotionally to achieve the deceiver’s ends. We hope that you will choose to become informed and avoid being taken in by people that have yet to share true faith with anyone in Dearborn.

Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr.
City of Dearborn


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Movie Review: Eat, Pray, Love

Me: What do you known about Eat, Pray, Love?

A female colleague at work: This woman [the author of the book] is full of herself; she's a big time narcissist and the movie is supposed to be terrible.

Hmmm. Eat, Pray, Love? Eat, Pray, Loathe? Well, with that ringing endorsement...

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia has been on the New York Times Best Seller for 158 weeks. This 2006 memoir by American author Elizabeth Gilbert (b. 1969), chronicles her attempt to put her life back together after a divorce and a bad affair. "Eat" is represented by four months in Italy of enjoying life; "Pray" is 4 months in India finding her spirituality and "Love" comprises a stay in Bali, Indonesia where she meets a man. Ms. Gilbert has received the full endorsement of the queen of daytime television, Oprah Winfrey which no doubt plays a part in the success of the book and its staying power on the Best Seller list.

The movie, starring Julie Roberts attempts to capture the personal journey of the writer, encapsulating a book of 352 pages in 2 hours and 13 minutes. However, as with most if not all book adaptations, the movie doesn't quite impart the details of the spiritual journey of the author; somehow the story telling in text never seems to translate that well onto the silver screen. The visual presentation doesn't quite capture the personal narrative; you can't completely recreate the thoughts of the author in a movie.

The locales are beautiful and the people are pretty but the result is more of a travelogue than a personal journey. But, I can see that the appreciation for the movie will be very much dependent on the viewer, whether they have read the book and whether they gave the book thumbs up or thumbs down. It is sometimes odd how a movie can stand on its own: you don't need to read the book and how a so-so or even a bad movie can turn out to better if the viewer has read the book and enjoyed it. Julie Roberts is, as per usual, a delight. That unto itself is not sufficient to see the film but for those who do see the film, a bonus over and above the story itself.

So, should you go see the film? If you have read the book, I'm sure you will not be able to not see it. However, I will now add what I consider to be the best assessment of any film: the rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Eat, Pray, Love garnered 38%, well below the 60% certified fresh threshold making it definitely "rotten". As I've said elsewhere, I have come to trust the Rotten Tomatoes' rating as an excellent indicator of the quality of the film and I can say from experience that if the rating is below 60%, you are taking a risk, sometimes a big risk that your movie experience is not going to be pleasant. 38%? I want 2 hours of my life back!

Thinking of this movie adaptation of the book, this experience certainly reminds me of another famous book, the Da Vinci Code. I loved the book but considered the movie at best just so-so. Unlike the movie, the narrative of the book, the process of reading as opposed to watching gave me a sense of a one on one connection with the author and an appreciation of his ability to describe things and events. It allowed me to "get into" his characters by sometimes reading their thoughts. The movie just didn't do that for me.


For those of you who read the book, you will find below some interesting links to various reviews and secondary sources of information about it. Have fun!

Rotten Tomatoes: Eat, Pray, Love: 38%

The NY Times: book review

Wikipedia: Eat, Pray, Love,_Pray,_Love

Wikipedia: Elizabeth Gilbert

Official Movie Web Site

Elizabeth Gilbert's official web site: Eat, Pray, Love

The NY Post: book review <-- [laughs] This review is definitely thumbs down!;jsessionid=4A7309ED7D4C12C24894499255272925

The Oprah Show: Why We Can't Stop Talking About Eat, Pray, Love!


God Hates Women

"For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man."
(I Corinthians 11:8-9)

"Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."
(I Timothy 2:11-14)

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."
(Ephesians 5:22-24)

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
(I Corinthians 14:34-35)

"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
(Genesis 3:16)

"Give me any plague, but the plague of the heart: and any wickedness, but the wickedness of a woman."
(Eccles. 25:13)

"Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die."
(Eccles. 25:22)

Bible God vs. Women by Old Fart Rants

Jimmy Carter; US president from 1977-81
This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. ... The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.


The Dark Bible: Women's Inferior Status

God Hates Women: Feminism and religion do not mix by Allison Kilkenny

Attention All Women: Religion Threatens Feminism by CJ Werleman

Jimmy Carter: The words of God do not justify cruelty to women

Christian Mysogyny: Alive And Well In America by Al Stefanelli


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Monday, 16 August 2010

Freedom of Speech: Freedom to say "anything"?

In Canada, the anti-Jewish extremist Salman Hossain has been charged in absentia with three counts of promoting hatred and two counts of advocating genocide based on what he said on his web site.

In the United States, the white supremacist "shock jock" radio host Hal Turner has been found guilty of threatening 3 judges based on what he said in his blog.

We all think we're free to say anything we want but are we free to say absolutely anything?

In the USA: Freedom of Speech

The Constitution of the United States was adopted on September 17, 1787. The first ten amendments known as the Bill of Rights came into effect on December 15, 1791. The first amendment reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Wikipedia defines Freedom of Speech as the freedom to speak without censorship or limitation, or both. Wikipedia goes on to further qualify this in its article Freedom of Speech in the United States:
Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws. Criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy, such as racism, sexism, and other hate speech are generally permitted. There are exceptions to these general protection, including the Miller test for obscenity, child pornography laws, speech that incites imminent danger, and regulation of commercial speech such as advertising. Within these limited areas, other limitations on free speech balance rights to free speech and other rights, such as rights for authors and inventors over their works and discoveries (copyright and patent), interests in "fair" political campaigns (Campaign finance laws), protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons (restrictions on fighting words), or the use of untruths to harm others (slander).
A key phrase from the above explanation is this:
Criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy, such as racism, sexism, and other hate speech are generally permitted.
Starting from this point that one is free to express any idea; the above explanation notes that there is an attempt to balance the rights to free speech and other rights. I make note here of "protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons" or "the use of untruths to harm others".

Is Freedom of Speech absolute? Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932, wrote in a ruling in the case Schenck vs. United States, 1919:
The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

Mr. Holmes presented a qualifying test to judging free speech by stating that such speech must not bring about a clear and present danger. You can't falsely shout Fire! in a crowded theater as you could cause panic.

About the court case Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969, Wikipedia states that it held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it is directed to inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action.

Wikipedia explains Imminent Lawless Action:
Imminent lawless action is a term used in the United States Supreme Court case Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) to define the limits of constitutionally protected speech. The rule overturned the decision of the earlier Schenck v. United States (1919), which had established "clear and present danger" as the constitutional limit for speech. Under the imminent lawless action test, speech is not protected by the First Amendment if the speaker intends to incite a violation of the law that is both imminent and likely.
The doctrine states that speech that will cause, or has as its purpose, "imminent lawless action" (such as a riot) does not have constitutional protection. As of 2009, "imminent lawless action" continues to be the test applied in free speech cases.

The Wikipedia entry on the court case Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969, ends with:
The Brandenburg test was the Court's last major statement on what government may do about inflammatory speech that seeks to incite others to lawless action. It resolved the debate between those who urged greater government control of speech for reasons of security and those who favored allowing as much speech as possible and relying on the marketplace of ideas to reach a favorable result...
As of 2009, the Brandenburg test is still the standard used for evaluating attempts to punish inflammatory speech, and it has not been seriously challenged since it was laid down in 1969.

The above entry uses the term marketplace of ideas which Wikipedia defines as:
The "marketplace of ideas" is a rationale for freedom of expression based on an analogy to the economic concept of a free market. The "marketplace of ideas" belief holds that the truth or the best policy arises out of the competition of widely various ideas in free, transparent public discourse, an important part of liberal democracy.

Where does this leave us?

It would seem that we arrive at the last major decision on the question of free speech in the United States. The test as to whether one is free to say anything depends on whether what the person says could lead to an imminent lawless action. Otherwise, the marketplace of ideas will in the end ultimately decide the fate of an idea, whether it takes root in the collective conscience or whether it withers and dies.

Subverted Nation by Adam Austin
Subverted Nation is the place to go for hard hitting, no holds barred analysis of current and past events relating to, what many deem, the jewish question, but this is not the question…it is the only answer. This is indeed the one true enemy of mankind, and all that stands for good. So here, they are given no quarter, as they have never given quarter to any peoples throughout history. Undermining whole nations, committing genocide against their peoples, ritually murdering their children. They bring with them viscious depravity in the place of morality, and deeming themselves god’s to rule over humanity, they leave nothing to question. The mission behind Subverted Nation is to disseminate information, in a fashion unlike all other outlets for news pertaining to the “jewish question”. Subverted Nation exposes to the American people how our country has been undermined, by a parasite that eats away at it’s hosts until it is bled dry.
Why would I call for a “final solution” of death to all jews and followers of judaism, cabala, and the like?
I am NOT advocating violence or BREAKING ANY LAWS. Let’s get that disclaimer out there before someone gets a hair up their ass to bother me about what I’m saying. Again, I am merely stating the FACTS to you as they ARE and as they ALWAYS WILL BE, and I am doing so well within the law. In fact, I would LOVE NOTHING MORE than for our military and law enforcement to CARRY OUT THESE TASKS LAWFULLY, but they will not because they are controlled by the jew owned media and hollywood, not to mention they (just like the so-called truth movement) are LEAD BY THE JEW.

A Voice For Men by Paul Elam
[Note: Mr. Elam has modified his web site and the following links are now invalid. I will endeavour to find the associated articles.]
The purpose of this web site is to offer information, perspective, and most importantly direction for men living in the age of virulent misandry.
Feminism is a Marxist strategy designed to undermine the family and all other traditional institutions so that the primary relationship individuals have is ultimately with The State.
Central to pulling this off was to first vilify masculinity, then criminalize it. 
The only thing that remains for men is their own survival. It is men who are the pack animals and indentured servants of this new world order. And their answer is not in going to war against Marxism, which will only result in the certain evisceration of their lives. Their answer is quite simply... to abandon any notion of commitment to women or vulnerability to them.
The emphasis [of this web site] ... will be anti marriage and anti commitment to the core.
Jury Duty at a Rape Trial? Acquit!
Should I be called to sit on a jury for a rape trial, I vow publicly to vote not guilty, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true.
your fellow jurors, who can be assumed to be living unconsciously in the misandric matrix
Women lie about being raped, judicial politicians make careers off of putting away sexual offenders, and a brainwashed public cheers it all on.
If the system is rigged, then the outcome must be assumed to be tainted.

Voting not guilty on any charge of rape is the only way to remain faithful to the concept of presumed innocence.
Better a rapist would walk the streets than a system that merely mocks justice enslave another innocent man.

The Knights Party, USA - The Ku Klux Klan
Hello, all of us at the national office would like to thank you for stopping by our site. We have prepared this site in order to give an accurate portrayal of the nationalist movement.
The entertainment industry backed by individuals with a Marxist agenda have waged an attack upon the consciousness' of white Christians. To further obliterate any remaining racial instinct among our people, those who hate white Christian civilization have chosen to desecrate anything which might cause a stirring of loyalty and heritage in the heart. They say Christianity must go and they say nationalist pride must go.
From changing the names of schools, streets, avenues, stadiums, libraries, etc. to Martin Luther King the toppling of Southern monuments, anything which has the potential of causing a white person to swell with pride is forbidden.
We want to state for the record that we do not endorse hatred. It is hypocritical for one to think a black, Asian, Mexican or any other person should be praised for being loyal to their heritage. Yet a white person can feel the same sense of pride and be criticized for it. It doesn't make sense.
The Knights is a love group not a hate group. We love America and the Christian foundation of our nation. We love our white brothers and sisters world wide and we recognize the contributions they have made to civilization. We also realize that our nation's future and in fact all white Christian civilization is in jeopardy.


3 web sites are supposedly operating within the law of freedom of speech: one anti-Jewish, one anti-women and one anti-non-white. Despite the rhetoric supporting their individual self-prescribed goals, one could argue that there is no threat of an imminent lawless action, the key word here being "imminent". Yes, nothing is going to happen in the next 10 minutes; yes, nothing "may" happen tomorrow or next week. Who knows? Freedom of speech means you are permitted to say what you want, to express whatever thoughts you have. At this point, the marketplace of ideas will decide the fate of these ideas, whether they take root in the collective conscience or whether they wither and die.

Or, is it that simple?

Hal Turner

Mr. Turner is a shock jock radio host and a white supremacist that has a history of threatening public figures. In 2005, disagreeing with the handling of a court case against Matt Hale (another white supremacist who is now in jail), Turner published the names and addresses of the presiding judges on his web site with the suggestion they should be assassinated. In 2008, he once again encouraged violence against a school superintendent who had set up a curriculum supporting gays and lesbians.

On June 2, 2009, in response to a 3 judge panel upholding a handgun ban in Chicago, Turner wrote on his blog:
"Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions."
Turner then published information on how to find the judges.

Mr. Turner was arrested on June 3, 2009 on charges of inciting his website's readers to take up arms against the officials. There have been 3 trials. The first trial ended with the jury being deadlocked, the 2nd was declared a mistrial but the 3rd trial found him guilty on August 13, 2010 of threatening the 3 judges. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Hal Turner, in his defence, stated that he did not say that he himself would kill the judges; he merely said that they deserve to be killed.

Postscript: On 21 December 2010, Hal Turner was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

2 Final Points

Point #1

Are we totally free to say anything we want without any consequences whatsoever? Can we be totally absolved of any responsibility, of any complicity in what transpires as a result of our words? Can we falsely yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater then in the ensuing panic say, "Hey! It's not my fault you believed me."?

Point #2

I repeat what I have said elsewhere:
A friend is the principal of a public school in an area where the students come from all over the world, from all sorts of backgrounds. The school board publishes a school calendar on which is noted every religious holiday and celebration for everybody: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddha, Bahá'í, etc. and all students are always made aware of everybody else's observances. In fact, ofttimes the entire school celebrates various festivals so that everybody is observing Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali or Ramadan.
This friend pointed out to me recently, in talking about the children of this school that children already know how to love; they "learn" how to hate.

Is this "freedom of speech", the freedom to say anything we want, "misused" as the freedom to teach, promote and incite hatred?


I am in no way going to claim I have exhaustively covered this topic. I realize in researching this article that I have not covered all the rulings of various court cases (Hess v. Indiana, 1973) which have had an effect on the law or the differences between the U.S. and Canada and other countries. However, I hope I have provided enough detail and background material to clearly make my point about freedom of speech and its limits and associated issues.

Wikipedia: First Amendment to the United States Constitution

Wikipedia: Freedom of Speech

Wikipedia: Freedom of Speech in the United States

Wikipedia: Shouting fire in a crowded theater

Wikipedia: Brandenburg v. Ohio

Wikipedia: Imminent lawless action

Wikipedia: Marketplace of Ideas

Wikipedia: Hal Turner

Old Fart Rants: Danger Will Robinson


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Your an idiot

Anybody who publishes on the Internet has to be prepared to be criticized. You write something while crafting your prose to best explain your point of view to the world and then the world comes and gives you thumbs up or thumbs down. Sometimes, the world uses another digit.

A blog is certainly more of a personal nature, a series of "opinion pieces" as opposed to "hard news" or a factual description of things. I guess you could say that stating your opinion is pretty much opening the door to comments not necessarily about the material, but about your opinion if not yourself personally.

The other day, an anonymous person commented on one of my blog entries by writing "Your an idiot." An Internet resource called WordNet, a "lexical database for English" hosted by Princeton University of Princeton, New Jersey, succinctly defines the term "idiot" as a person of subnormal intelligence. Obviously, the commenter did not have a very high opinion of my blog entry and was certainly extending his opinion to me personally.

However, as I contemplated this comment and whether or not my ego would be able to sustain the fury of this brief and conclusive assault on the very intellectual foundation of the raison d'être of my blog, I was very much stuck by one particular detail of this fortuitous bit of literary criticism which had escaped the attention of the author.

I was very much appreciative of the commenter's brevity; after all, let's not waste time by beating around the bush. The presentation followed the accepted rules of grammar. Capitalization was impeccable. The use of the indefinite pronoun was superlative and I noted how its use by the author implied that I was not alone in the world of those deserving this qualifying moniker. But, and I must repeat but, the author had unfortunately overlooked one small but important detail in the expression, or should I say the correct expression of his disparagement by falling into what may be considered a familiar homonymic trap. He had written the possessive form of the second-person personal pronoun you instead of writing the accepted form of the contraction of the second-person personal pronoun you and the verb to be.

Yes, while my bruised self-image figuratively attempted to pick itself up off the floor after this verbal fist to the chin, I couldn't help noticing that the corners of each side of my mouth had begun to slowly curl up into what any innocent passer-by could have easily construed as a smile. A memory from oh so long ago had welled up, a story of some amusement about my youth.

Sometime during my teenage years, I got into a verbal exchange with an acquaintance. This had evolved for my sparring partner and me into a winner-take-all, no-holds-barred debate about some topic of profound importance about the fate of all humanity and the future of the entire planet. At the culminating point of our oratorical competition, I scored a touchdown which brought down the house, showered me with accolades and left my opponent speechless in a quagmire of certain defeat and humiliation. There was a pregnant pause during which both I and the surrounding crowd waited with bated breath for a rejoinder which would possibly see the successful comeback of the boxer who has been knocked to the canvas and is in the process of receiving the ten-count. We all watched with great anticipation as the face of my adversary indicated that every neuron in his head was madly firing off at once in what turned out to be a futile attempt to get back up and take another swing. Finally, the expression on his face turned to a look of both frustration and anger. He glared at me and snarled, "You're an idiot." Then he turned and stomped off.

As a final word, I will stick with leaving the comment feature of my blog turned on. I know that some people turn comments off as one way of dealing with unwanted, no undesirable comments but this could be interpreted as "I'm saying the final word on this topic". I guess I would like to feel I'm trying to open some sort of dialogue with a potential reader and would not want to miss out on having some feedback, either positive or negative on my personal observations on life. Nevertheless, I will moderate comments with an eye on sorting out which ones may be deemed of questionable value. After all, I would hope to maintain a certain level of literary merit.

A friend, who works in I.T. (Information Technology) field, told me that he and his colleagues had a private joke amongst themselves for labelling troublesome users. He told me of attempting to fix a user's problem computer only to find out that the user had done something extraordinarily stupid. My friend turned to his partner and said, "Yep, it's an eye dee ten tee." The user, who overheard my friend, asked what that meant and my friend explained it was a technical term for the problem. After a moment, the user said somewhat surprised, "Hey, I just wrote that down. Did you know that the term looks like..."

I D 1 0 T

[chuckles] "Your an idiot." You're an eye dee ten tee?

Hmmm, I just noticed that I've received another comment. Gosh, this author is certainly upping the ante in the strength of his resolve to impress upon me the unworthiness of my intellectual capacity to formulate both a rational thought and a grammatically correct sentence. This may be worth another blog entry! Now if I can only figure out how to respond to "You're a f**king douchebag."* :-)

* Seriously, I did receive this comment but have now removed it. Censorship? I suppose, but I wanted to spare him the embarrassment of his mother finding out.


Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Salman Hossain: Update

To recap: Salman Hossain is Bangladeshi-Canadian who was living in Toronto while attending York University. He started a web site called Filthy Jewish Terrorists and embarked on a campaign of promoting terrorist attacks on Canada, cheering the killing of Canadian troops in Afghanistan and the urging of fellow Muslims to "exterminate" Canada's Jewish population. I first reported my finding out about this gentleman on July 8, 2010 in my blog with the article reprinted in the on-line newspaper Oye Times!

Protests against Mr. Hossain had been growing steadily at York University and in Canada in general. However this didn't seem to deter Mr. Hossain; this seemed to inspire him to continue his questionable pastime. With things heating up, he did leave Canada but pursued his diatribe of hatred through his web site.

Finally, Mr. Hossain was charged by the Ontario Provincial Police on July 8 with three counts of promoting hatred and 2 counts of advocating genocide, charges approved by the Ontario Attorney-General. Unfortunately, with Mr. Hossain out of the country, those charges remain pending until authorities can get a hold of him.

In a follow up to this story, the National Post reported on July 20, 2010 that Hossain's web site had been taken down by its U.S. host, the Arizona-based web host GoDaddy.

“Go Daddy received a complaint from Canada’s Attorney-General regarding the domain names in question,” said Ben Butler, the company’s Director of Network Abuse.

“After reviewing the content on the sites, Go Daddy determined they are in direct violation of our terms of service and have been removed from our network.”

According to the National Post, Hossain did attempt to set up his web site in Ireland but when the Post contacted the Irish web hosting company Blacknight, it cancelled the hosting contract with Hossain.

“The content on that website would be illegal in Ireland and in Europe,” said Blacknight spokesman Michele Neylon. “And as far as our legal counsel is concerned, any website content that incites anybody to murder another human being, be that an individual or mass genocide, would be illegal.”

For the moment, Salman Hossain is off-line. (Click here to see the Internet lookup of the domain name.)

This isn't the end of it

In researching this article, I used Google to search the Net for information associated with Salman Hossain. Much to my surprise - I guess you could call me naive - I ran across several other web sites spewing - yes, that's the right term: spewing - the same message. Excuse my French, but WTF?

Subverted Nation, showing the motto "Give no Quarter, Ask no Quarter", is a white supremacist web site promoting the hatred of Jews. Reading the information contained therein absolutely shocked me.

But the surprising discovery? This web site is also hosted by the same American Internet company GoDaddy. (Click here to see the Internet lookup of the domain name.)

My surprise is that GoDaddy took down the Salman Hossain's web site after being contacted by Canada's Attorney-General but remains the host for web sites of similar materials. If the Irish web hosting company Blacknight states it has a policy against anybody inciting murder, and here I'm assuming hatred, does GoDaddy have no such policy?


Since the National Post article mentioned them, I wrote to the CJC (Canadian Jewish Congress) with a copy of this blog and they kindly wrote back to inform me of the state of affairs. While Canada does have laws which make it an offence to promote hatred or advocate genocide, those laws only govern web sites which are actually hosted on Canadian soil or they govern individuals who control the web site and are Canadian citizens. Apparently it is rare to find a hate site hosted in Canada and consequently these web sites are usually governed by the host country.

While GoDaddy's response in the case of Salman Hossain's was commendable, the company was not required by law to comply. The United States' First Amendment protects free speech and the CJC points out that American ISPs take the view that allowing any content does represent free speech.


National Post: Internet company pulls plug on extremist's websites

DNS Tools:!

DNS Tools:!

Subverted Nation

Canadian Jewish Congress


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

3.8 Trillion Reasons to Think of Sarah

Sarah Palin has been putting out the following message: Barack Obama and the Democrats are going to institute the largest tax increase in the history of the United States, an amount of $3.8 trillion. Is this true or not true?

The curious aspect of such statements, especially for an average guy like yours truly, is to confirm this. Exactly where can I go to find out if this is, in fact, a true statement? Do I have to go a hold of a copy of the budget and read through a zillion pages trying to decipher God only knows what numbers? Do I have to become a budget expert well versed in the ins and outs of government spending?

Somehow though, I think there must be a touch of simplicity to the math, there has to be some common sense to all of it. This isn't really rocket science, is it?

2 plus 2 equals 5
In digging through the wealth of material, what's evident right up front is the difficulty of determining who is telling me the facts and who is telling me their opinion. Believe me, when people start throwing numbers at you with colour graphs and charts and tables of values showing history and projections, it is pretty hard to know whether there's manure in the air or not. In the end, one tried and true method is to sample several sources and see if they match up. If everybody says that 2 plus 2 equals 4, you would think this is right; unless, we're collectively all wrong. That is a possibility, you know. Heck what if the equation turns out to be 2 plus 3? Ha! 2 plus 3 equals 4 would certainly be wrong too!

Fortunately, the United States has a couple of free and independent organizations which work unfettered by the political will of the various political parties. Of course, your average citizen is still free to doubt these unbiased views but comparisons of the "facts" as reported by these organizations coupled with other well respected sources like newspapers who do their own fact checking, leads me hopefully to the unvarnished truth, not some personally coloured version of the truth.

This organization which is dedicated to fact checking has an amusing summary presentation of their findings called the Truth-O-Meter. True, half true, false and Pants On Fire are the basic classifications of their findings. Somebody makes a statement; they do their research then they publish their findings including source materials with their Truth-O-Meter rating.

Sarah Palin: Pants On Fire
In 2010, various tax cuts instituted under Bush will expire. The total of these tax cuts is apparently equal to $3.8 trillion over the next 10 years. Barack Obama has the choice to let them expire or renew these cuts. Obviously, if Obama lets them expire, this would equal Sarah's statement.

But according to PolitiFact.Com, the Democrats do not intend on letting all of the cuts expire. The Democrats do want to let the cuts expire for the top 2% which would equal to approximately $678 billion over the next 10 years. This is in line with their platform pledges to continue to provide relief to lower income earners. This money, obviously, would be well spent in bringing down the deficit grossly enlarged by the stimulus package of the various bailouts.

Oddly enough, the Republicans are proposing to keep these tax cuts, tax cuts which target specifically the wealthiest people in America. Yep, Barack is proposing to have the wealthy pay more which when I think about it, seems very reasonable. After all, shouldn't the wealthy pay more as they can afford it?

So, is this the "largest tax increase in history"? Apparently not. Ronald Reagan's increase was larger than what is going to be done by the Democrats this year but the largest of all was the increase instituted by Roosevelt during the Second World War.

But I digress. Let me return to the original premise of this article and Sarah's statement. She is just plainly not telling the truth.

My Checking
Admittedly, at this point, I have not read the budget myself. I have neither the time or the expertise to be wading through thousands of pages of cryptic budget numbers. So what did I check?

I read various newspapers. I reviewed PolitiFact.Com and FactCheckers.Org. I listened to various official news sources and some not so official ones including "Old Fart Rants"; that one is quite amusing. In averaging out the pro's and the con's, I arrive at the conclusion that Sarah's accusations are unfounded; she does in fact have her pants on fire.

But why?
If I can find out this information; if other can come to these conclusions, why can't Ms. Palin? Why is it that I hear everybody stating their opinion but very few people discussing the facts? Why does she and others from the Republican party, the right wing Conservatives pound away with this mantra of fear, the-sky-is-falling, we're-all-doomed-at-the-hands-of-Obama?

If I give everybody the benefit of the doubt; if I think that in the end everybody wants to do the right thing, that everybody truly does want to make life better for all of us, I must arrive at the conclusion that not everybody has the knowledge and the expertise to make these decisions. Not everybody can run the country. The majority of people, the majority of us, the "unwashed masses" are pretty much voicing an opinion based on our own probably narrow view of the world. I'm casting my vote based on what I can see sitting on my front porch. I don't know; I don't give a hoot about what's happening on the next street; I am only concerned about my corner of the world, the view from my veranda.

$100 vs. $100 Billion
My own theory: All of us are familiar with a hundred bucks. We've dealt with this sum; we've held the bills in our hand; we've purchased items, done deals worth one hundred dollars. Consequently we can all state truthfully that we understand this sum of money, what it is worth, what a transaction for a hundred involves.

But what if it's a question of $100 billion? How many of us have ever - and I mean ever - had any experience with a sum so large? I'd say the percentage in question is just about nil. And I'm certain that $100 billion within the context of the economy of a nation, within the economy of the entire world has to so complex as to defy one's imagination. Nevertheless, all of us arm chair generals, Monday morning quarterbacks would approach this sum with the same knowledge, experience and expertise of our one hundred dollars. After all, at the end of the day, what do we all fall back on when dealing with life? Ourselves: our own experiences, our own knowledge, our own expertise. Ha! What else do we have?

Unfortunately, applying the same financial prowess for dealing with $100 to a sum of $100 billion may not be the best thing to do. While anybody could put forward the idea of using common sense; we must admit right up front that the sense necessary to deal with $100 billion has nothing common about it.

The American comedian Bill Cosby, in his comedy album Why Is There Air? released in 1965, talked humourously of this idea of common sense. He's driving on an icy road during the winter when the car begins to slide. He starts to panic but remembers the instructions to turn into the skid. He then goes on to explain how this seems to defy logic and says that this seems like you are supposed to lean into a punch to the face.

Quite amusing but I find this does exemplify the problems we face. How many of us have gone into a skid and successfully dealt with it? How often do any of us go into a skid in the first place? I return to our own experiences, the sum of one hundred dollars, and our capacity to properly deal with a new, unusual or "uncommon" situation, the one hundred billion dollars.

Are politicians telling the truth?
Sarah Palin continued her "attack" against Obama by claiming that the Democrats have no plan about the Bush tax cuts and are going to let all of them expire thus causing this $3.8 trillion tax increase. However, PolitiFact.Com has come back to the table pointing out that on page 39 and pages 164-165 of Obama's budget, there is a plan and that plan is to let tax cuts expire for the wealthy, not for everybody.

Okay, do I believe PolitiFact.Com? They are stating the proof is right there on page 39. Do I have to go get a copy of the budget and read it myself? Hmmm, just how would I get a copy of the budget? Guess what? Here it is: - There is a link at the top of the page to download a single PDF of 7.4 mb which comprises the entire budget document of 192 pages)

Gee, that wasn't tough. I turn to page 39 as PolitiFact.Com stated and I read

Allow the Bush Tax Cuts for Households
Earning More Than $250,000 to Expire. In the last Administration, those at the very top enjoyed large tax breaks and income gains while almost everyone else struggled and real income for the middle class declined. Our Nation cannot afford to continue these tax cuts, which is why the President supports allowing those tax cuts that affect families earning more than $250,000 a year to expire and committing these resources to reducing the deficit instead. This step will have no effect on the 98 percent of all households who make less than $250,000.

I turn to pages 164 and 165 and I find a table of values dealing with "Upper-Income Tax Provisions" clearly marked as "for those taxpayers with income over $250,000 (married) and $200,000 (single)".

What? PolitiFact.Com is right. The Democrats under Barack Obama have no intention of penalizing the small people; they want to merely make the wealthy pay their fair share. Why is Sarah Palin saying otherwise? What can I conclude?
  • Sarah Palin is lying.
  • Sarah Palin's staff is lying to Sarah.
  • There is some nefarious plot to fool us.
What in blue blazes is going on? Sarah Palin is going on TV and saying something which isn't true. Independent fact checkers say she's wrong. I go check myself right to the original source document itself, the actual budget for the fiscal year 2011 and I confirm that the fact checkers are right. Why is Sarah doing this? What possible reason could explain her behaviour?

1. Sarah Palin is lying
I suppose this is a possibility.

2. Sarah Palin's staff is lying
Maybe the staff didn't do their homework. Maybe the staff is doing what they think necessary to scare voters into believing Obama is bad for the country.

3. There is some nefarious plot to fool us.
I want to be the 1st female president of the United States?

Is Sarah Palin just plain dumb?
I have felt, others have so observed, politicians want to keep their jobs. They are well paid; they have a good pension; who wouldn't want to keep on the gravy train? As a consequence, the main motivation for doing anything may not necessarily be doing what's right but doing what's necessary to remain employed. Ask anybody who has ever taken a course on macroeconomics and they will tell you about the dichotomy between economics and politics: politics is a 4 year cycle while economics is a 10 year cycle. Politicians may be keeping their eye more on the next election in 4 years and not on what really needs to be done for the economy over the 10 years.

However, the more important issue in all this may be stupidity. Economics is a complicated issue. Running a country is no simple task. Anybody who stands up and says "vote for me because I can do this job" is either in possession of really big cojones or has absolutely no idea of what they're letting themselves in for. Frankly, after going through everything about this tax increase and discovering that what Sarah is saying is wrong, I am quite frankly ready to take her name off my Christmas card list.

Right now, I am personally offended. This all started with Sarah explaining to me that Obama is a bad man and is not good for the country. I have now discovered that she either hasn't done her homework or has incorrectly interpreted what is in plain view of anybody who would bother to read the facts. Maybe she thinks I'm completely gullible and wouldn't bother to do any research. Maybe she thinks I'm easily bamboozled.

But what I find really scary is that maybe she believes what she's saying. She's wrong but she thinks she's right. 2 plus 2 does not equal 5 no matter how you slice it. And even if you convince people that 2 plus 2 equals 5, sooner or later you are going to have to pay the piper because you can't fool the facts.

To quote a member of her party who came before her:

"There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."
— President Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

8 years of Bush. Anybody up for 8 years of Palin? Got to celebrate it! :-)


PolitiFact.Com: "Democrats are poised now to cause this largest tax increase in U.S. history."
- August 1, 2010

PolitiFact.Com: Democrats do not have a plan for extending the Bush tax cuts.

FactCheck.Org: Tax Cuts, Medicare and Florida Democrats
- August 6, 2010

Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2011

single PDF: Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2011

"Schooling Sarah Palin On Economics" by Old Fart Rants
This gentleman has an amusing way of delivering "the message". I intend on consulting his other videos on various topics. Curiously enough, I've realized that this series of videos is pretty much like a blog except this man's blog entries consist of videos. Interesting.

Sarah Palin: Refudiate This!


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