If it’s not the Crusades, it’s the cartoons

muhammad15“If it’s not the Crusades, it’s the cartoons,” was the reaction of President Bush back in 2006 as to possible motivations of Islamist jihadists. Cartoons which depicted Muhammad were published by a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, in September of 2005 with the by now predictable outrage.

Fleming Rose an editor at the Danish newspaper, made the following defense of the decision to publish in 2005:

The cartoonists treated Islam the same way they treat Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions. And by treating Muslims in Denmark as equals they made a point: We are integrating you into the Danish tradition of satire because you are part of our society, not strangers. The cartoons are including, rather than excluding, Muslims….

As a former correspondent in the Soviet Union, I am sensitive about calls for censorship on the grounds of insult. This is a popular trick of totalitarian movements: Label any critique or call for debate as an insult and punish the offenders. That is what happened to human rights activists and writers such as Andrei Sakharov, Vladimir Bukovsky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Natan Sharansky, Boris Pasternak. The regime accused them of anti-Soviet propaganda, just as some Muslims are labeling 12 cartoons in a Danish newspaper anti-Islamic.

The lesson from the Cold War is: If you give in to totalitarian impulses once, new demands follow. The West prevailed in the Cold War because we stood by our fundamental values and did not appease totalitarian tyrants.

ch3ch2ch1This was ten years before Charlie Hebdo. These photos reflect the results of that attack. None of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons were printed in any major U.S. newspaper. A major victory for the Islamists.

About those Crusades. A reminder from historian Bernard Lewis:

The Crusades could more accurately be described as a limited, belated and, in the last analysis, ineffectual response to the jihad — a failed attempt to recover by a Christian holy war what had been lost to a Muslim holy war…

Mohammed himself led the first jihad, in the wars of the Muslims against the pagans in Arabia. The jihad continued under his successors, with a series of wars that brought the Middle East, including the Holy Land, under Arab Muslim rule and then continued eastward into Asia, westward into Africa, and three times into Europe — the Moors in Spain, the Tatars in Russia, the Turks in the Balkans. The Crusade was part of the European counterattack. The Christian re-conquest succeeded in Spain, Russia and eventually the Balkans; it failed to recover the Holy Land of Christendom.

Ross Douthat with a perspective on the Crusades that inspires:

… not interested in an exercise in historical amnesia where the actual necessities of medieval geopolitics get wiped out of Western memory in favor of blanket condemnation of anyone who took the cross. If you want me to condemn pogroms in the Rhineland or the bloody aftermath of Jerusalem’s fall or the entirety of the Fourth Crusade, I will, and readily. But ask me if I’m sorry that Spain is Spain and not Al-Andalus, or if I regret Lepanto or Jan Sobieski’s gallop to Vienna, or if I wish that Saint Louis had somehow rescued Outremer or that aid had come to Constantinople in the 15th century — I’m not, I don’t, I do.


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Why our Civilization could fall to Islamists

Historian Niall Ferguson does not look away from the weakness being exploited by *Islamists:

I am not going to repeat what you have already read or heard. I am not going to say that what happened in Paris on Friday night was unprecedented horror, for it was not. I am not going to say that the world stands with France, for it is a hollow phrase. Nor am I going to applaud President Hollande’s pledge of “pitiless” vengeance, for I do not believe it. I am, instead, going to tell you that this is exactly how civilizations fall.

Here is how Edward Gibbon described the Goths’ sack of Rome in August 410 AD:

“In the hour of savage license, when every passion was inflamed, and every restraint was removed . . . a cruel slaughter was made of the Romans; and . . . the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies . . . Whenever the Barbarians were provoked by opposition, they extended the promiscuous massacre to the feeble, the innocent, and the helpless . . .”

Now, does that not describe the scenes we witnessed in Paris on Friday night?
Let us be clear about what is happening. Like the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, Europe has allowed its defenses to crumble. As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its shopping malls and sports stadiums. At the same time, it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith.

So who exactly will speak up to ensure that future citizens ‘renounce their ancestral faiths’ when those faiths are incompatible with western secular values? Clearly not a job for the feint of heart, or perhaps we can just use the shorthand ‘college administrators‘ going forward. Someone who is up to the job is named Maajid Nawaz.

Nawaz coined the term *Islamists. He is a British Muslim who speaks frankly and at great personal danger about the extremism in the Muslim world. He describes Islamists as “those who wish to impose their version of Islam over society.” [see video at the 11 min mark below]. More from Nawaz:

[He likens] Islamism to the evil character Voldemort, from the Harry Potter books. In the novels, Harry is the only one allowed to name Voldemort and acknowledge his existence, while the rest of the wizard community are too scared to do so and instead insist he does not exist.

“When we’re dealing with the challenge that we call Islamism, if we get to a situation where the president of the United States cannot even bring himself to name this ideology, we cannot even begin to tackle it. So what we’ve been doing with the British government is focusing on getting the British government and the prime minister to recognise that there is an ideology.

This ideology is called Islamism. It needs to be isolated from whichever interpretation of Islam Muslims may happen to subscribe to and then it needs to be challenged, because we are indeed engaged in an ideological war.”

Nawaz’s influence might have had something to do with the fact that this week British Prime Minister David Cameron finally broke with those leaders who to date continue to pretend that terrorism is unrelated to Islam.

Douglas Murray, another British warrior in this cause, who also happens to be a gay atheist, happily documented the PM’s newfound clarity, Cameron said the following:

“It is not good enough to say simply that Islam is a religion of peace and then to deny any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremists. Why? Because these extremists are self-identifying as Muslims.”

The Niall Ferguson article is copied in full at end of post

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Pope Francis denies the dignity of the Cuban dissident

Just when you thought this Papal visit couldn’t get any more dispiriting to Cuban dissidents, it did.

The following questions were asked of Pope Francis on his plane trip leaving Cuba:

Rosa Flores, CNN: We understand that more than 50 dissidents were arrested as they were trying to have a meeting with you. First, would you like to have a meeting with the dissidents, and if you had that meeting, what would you say?

Pope Francis: Look, I don’t have any news that that has happened. I don’t have any news. Some yes, yes, no, I don’t know. I don’t know, directly. The two questions are about reading the future. Would I like this to happen? … I like to meet with all people. I consider that all people are children of God and the law. And secondly, a relationship with another person always enriches. Even though it was soothsaying, that’s my reply. I would like to meet with everyone. If you want me to speak more about the dissidents, you can ask me something more concrete.

Rosa Flores, with the follow-up later on: What would you tell them if you met with them.

Pope Francis: Oh, my daughter, I don’t know what I would say. (laughs) I would wish everyone well, but what one says comes in that moment and … You’ve got the Nobel Prize for being a reader of the future, eh? (laughs)

Given a second opportunity to give a word of encouragement to the truly dispossessed in Cuba, Pope Francis not only declines, twice, but goes out of his way to minimize their dignity, by noting four times in this brief exchange that his thoughts on the matter apply to EVERYONE.

Mission accomplished. No one can report that the Pope repudiated the dissidents, but neither can they report that Pope Francis wished to meet with the dissidents. The exchange is skillful on his part, note the playfulness at the end, it only lacks in morality.

This from a pope who recently visited a prison in Bolivia and stating that “he could not leave without visiting with them.” This from a Pope who will visit a Philadelphia prison during this U.S. visit. This from a Pope whose frequent off-hand comments have caused great confusion in the Church. And yet, at the prospect of offending the Castros, or reneging on whatever deal he made, discipline rules the day. Will this constitute his first miracle?

Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal on the politicization of the Pope Francis:

Francis’ popularity remains high, but the dangers in his current course are high. What many of his new political friends mainly seek is to have the pope “moralize” their politics. Francis’ spiritual message could not be more secondary. They won’t be with him in Philadelphia. How allowing the papacy’s core moral authority to be politicized is in the interests of the Catholic Church as an institution is difficult to see.

For those interested in following this issue, Charles Lane is a great source on Twitter.

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The Pope? How many additional Parishes does he want?

Ladies in White arrested at home of Berta Soler

Ladies in White arrested at the home of Berta Soler

Stalin famously mocked the moral authority of the Catholic Church by asking “how many divisions” the Pope had. Perhaps he should have just sarcastically inquired as to how many safeguarded Parishes would be required to have them look the other way?

A Pope whose hagiography emphasizes his humility, aversion to the trappings of power and the need the evangelize directly to the people could not find a moment in his three day trip to Cuba to meet or mention any dissident. But Pope Francis did meet with at least two dictators, one who has no official government role.

If Pope Francis’s heart is as compassionate as we are told, I don’t see how he makes it through his next lost sheep parable without choking on the hypocrisy of it all.

Realpolitik is not a game for the feint of heart, I get it. Those who play it are willing to sacrifice a chunk of their moral authority in the hope of the greater good, or that the ends justify the means, to be more blunt.

But what if moral authority is all you bring to the game? How big a payoff is required to risk it then? Because we are all watching these moral compromises in real time. Do they expect people to forget or ignore?

The Washington Post editorial summarizes it well:

Pope Francis may believe that merely by touring the country he will inspire Cubans to become more active and press the regime for change. But two previous papal visits, in 1998 and 2012, did not have that effect. By now it is clear that the Castros won’t be moved by quiet diplomacy or indirect hints. A direct campaign of words and acts, like that Pope Francis is planning for the United States, would surely have an impact. But then, it takes more fortitude to challenge a dictatorship than a democracy.

The complete editorial is copied at the end of the post.
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Joan had the Dauphin, we got Francis

Socialist dauphins listening to audio version of Laudeto Si

Socialist dauphins listening to audio version of Laudeto Si

Did you hear the one about the Papal encyclical whose subject matter was only on the radar of the enemies of the Church, while ignoring the rising level of violence against Christians residing in the Muslim world as the centuries-old conflict between the faiths reignited? Yeah, me too.

Looking for inspiration on how to remain a practicing Catholic during the reign of Pope Francis, a man who blithely encourages socialist economic prescriptions to nations, while failing to specify why the 21st-century results of those policies would differ from the 20th-century results of those policies. Only God, and perhaps Christopher Nolan, know the inception of that idea.

Naturally I turned to Mark Twain’s biography on St. Joan of Arc to help me through this particular bad dream. From the introduction:

… Joan’s notion of the Church includes Christ as its active head, the saints in heaven, the Pope as Christ’s Vicar, and good parish priests. Opposed to these warmhearted priests who console the people of God are theologians and bishops whose ambitions are sometimes self-serving and politically parochial. Both de Conte [Twain’s alter ego used to narrate story] and Joan have precisely the same regard for religion and secular authorities. If as men these authorities are sometimes misguided or unscrupulous, they are, nevertheless, necessary because they are God’s chosen means to govern His Church and His people. To de Conte and Joan authority is primarily a matter of legitimacy rather than merit. For example, both de Conte and Joan know that the Dauphin is the legitimate heir of the kingdom of France, even though both know that as a man the Dauphin has little self-confidence and less courage. Even after Joan’s military victories on his behalf and her testimony to him regarding the inevitability of France’s triumph over the English invaders, even after she made it possible for him to be crowned King, he was too weak-willed to offer the ransom to free Joan, a ransom which her Burgundian captors were required by the conventions of war to accept. Even though de Conte and Joan knew that the King’s hesitancy to act in a kingly way made him responsible in part for Joan’s martyrdom, they never once doubted his right to rule, nor did they secretly desire that someone more virtuous and talented—but someone other than God’s chosen ruler—were King. They may have wished that the King were a better man, but they never questioned his authority.

That I can embrace. The idea that obedience need not require ignoring the socialist cleric in the room. I may wish my Pope was not motivated by past theological and ideological defeats (not to mention a certain Malvinas ass-kicking), but I don’t question his authority.

As such, the one prayer I sincerely proffer my legitimate and to date unworthy Pontiff, John Paul II-ishly speaking; On his judgment day, may he not be judged too harshly for ignoring victims of oppression, causing those victims to despair at the immoral silence exhibited by the Vicar of Christ. † Amen.

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Christians on the rack, Brooks on the couch

David Brooks on ISIS:

The ISIS atrocities have descended like distant nightmares upon the numbed conscious of the world. The first beheadings of Americans had the power to shock, but since then there has been a steady barrage of inhumanity: mass executions of Christians and others, throwing gay men from rooftops, the destruction of ancient archaeological treasures, the routine use of poison gas.

Even the recent reports in The Times about the Islamic State’s highly structured rape program have produced shock but barely a ripple of action.

Reading his column feels as though I am eavesdropping on a counseling session in a novel. In the session, the patient, let’s call him Harold, struggles to come to grips with a truth which is evident to everyone but him.

The session is ostensibly about why the United States hasn’t been more alarmed or done more to combat ISIS. Harold is troubled over this. But there’s a problem, he is an acquaintance and great admirer of President Obama. We the readers are rooting for him to make the connection with who dictates US policy and the inaction, but he seems unable.

If this were a novel, we could bring in a trusted and brilliant friend, Nikhil, without any emotional or political baggage who would blurt out the obvious. For the role of Nikhil, think Tyler Cowen with amnesia and a melliferous Ben Kingsley-like accent.

Nikhil addresses Harold with a slightly annoyed tone, “Is it really that hard for you to get that given your President’s background, the plight of Muslims in the future is a greater concern to him than some Christians in mostly Muslim nations today?”

“You’re always lecturing people on how smart he is and how he’s playing the long game. Maybe so, but it sure ain’t the long game of a Christian American who is occasionally filled with pride when thinking about the Founding Fathers. When this brother thinks about the Founding Fathers, intercontinental grievances are what come to mind.”

Then Nikhil added a little more angrily than he intended, “You supported an unknown dude named Barack Hussein. Now you’re acting all surprised. Sheeeeeeeite.”
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The Schilling effect

Schilling extremism tweetCurt Schilling got in trouble with his employer [ESPN] for tweeting a comparison of the number of Muslim extremists that might exist today vs the number of Nazis in 1940. [May I suggest Stalin or Pol Pot for future attempts at evil equivalencies?] The move comes just in time to be part of the upcoming paperback edition of Kirsten Powers’ book, The Silencing.

On the one hand, ESPN’s suspension is the latest attempt by the powers that be to communicate to Muslims that; ‘While savageries are continually committed in the name of your Islamic faith across the world, we deem that no stigma or responsibility shall be ascribed to those of you residing in the Western societies, safely separated from the realities of being governed by your brethren in the faith. This protection is applicable even if you share the belief in Sharia law which is the main justification for the many atrocities committed in the name of Islam.’

In short, another example of the type of political correctness which is driving my fellow Republicans so insane, that they are actually telling pollsters that they would support Donald Trump for President. Don’t worry, I know you guys are kidding. Right?

But on the other hand [while I still have one, pending Sharia law implementation for blogging excesses which may offend the Profit [see what I did there?]], its an opportunity to highlight the very point Schilling was attempting to make.
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Jorge Ramos: Small man with even smaller ideas

2 Think Good

Univision network’s diminutive anchorman, Jorge Ramos, has pointed his cannon at John Paul II and the Catholic Church. Fortunately for us Catholics, his is a short cannon with limp arguments as I will detail. First a little background.

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MLS stadiums – facts vs emerging conventional wisdom

I was thrilled to hear that the Beckham-Claure group finally acknowledged that the location next to Marlins Park was the most feasible for their potential new MLS franchise. In listening to sports talk radio over the last few days, a consensus has emerged; it’s a great opportunity for Miami to get a MLS franchise without having to pay for a stadium, but what a shame about the location.

Why? I’m confident you’ve already heard this explanation. “MLS prefers smaller stadiums and urban settings for their franchises, where people can walk to the games and enjoy restaurants and bars nearby to foster the fan experience.” The last time a party line has come together so quickly was the framing of Lee Harvey Oswald, at least according to Oliver Stone.

I decided to check on the most recently awarded MLS franchises and compare reality with the conventional wisdom about MLS criteria regarding stadium size and urban settings.

The detail is below, but you guessed it, the conventional wisdom doesn’t match reality in 4 out of the last 5 franchises MLS has awarded. As would be expected, downtown real estate is too expensive for soccer stadiums everywhere, not just Miami. The exceptions are old stadiums which have been renovated over the years [Portland], or publicly financed construction and ownership of a facility [Seattle].

So if you come across ‘that guy,’ people who think soccer would be great here, but just not at the most obvious and feasible location, just a reminder to trust your instincts, they don’t know what they are talking about.

#1 – San Jose Earthquakes in 2015:

Avaya Stadium - after

Avaya Stadium – after

Avaya Stadium - before

Avaya Stadium – before

  • Capacity 18,000
  • Privately financed
  • Stadium opened 1 year past schedule
  • Not Downtown – location so close to airport that property needed to be rezoned
  • San Jose addressed the lack of nearby entertainment by including the “Largest Outdoor Bar In North America” as part of the stadium

#2 – Orlando City FC in 2015:

  • Currently playing in the Citrus Bowl, capacity 65,438, built in 1936 – 19,500 for soccer
  • Similarities to Miami in that a wealthy South American businessman, Flávio Augusto da Silva, is a majority owner
  • Ownership just committed to privately finance the entire cost of a new stadium [capacity 25,000] after efforts at getting public monies failed
  • City of Orlando donated $4 million land parcel to build stadium. Will be located next to home of Orlando Magic in the Downtown district.

#3 – New York City FC in 2015:

  • Capacity 54,251 – 27,470 for soccer
  • Yankee Stadium was massively subsidized
  • Fans don’t stroll through this neighborhood to the games, they run

#4 – Houston Dynamo in 2012:

Houston site for Dynamo stadium

  • Capacity 22,039
  • The city of Houston committed $35 million towards the stadium
  • Not Downtown. If a realtor was selling this they might say that Downtown is visible from stadium skyline

#5 – Montreal Impact in 2012:

Montreal stadium

  • Capacity 20,801
  • The Quebec government contributed $23 million to increase stadium capacity
  • Not Downtown. In fact, built in the shadows of one of the great white elephants of all time, site of the 1976 Olympics. Quebec just finished paying for them in 2006, referred to as The Big Owe.
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Wade opts out, but its McRoberts who will go

jamesAll this grief because the guy with the hairline to the right was too embarrassed to walk around in the bright Miami sun after cosmetic surgery. Oy vey.

Miami Heat luxury tax v1Heat Hoops is a great resource for us Heat fans. His recent posts have done a great job of explaining the main issue in the Wade contract situation, luxury taxes. But since I’m more of a visual learner, I threw his numbers on a spreadsheet. In crunching those numbers, it is obvious that anyone on the Heat bench of any value to another NBA team will soon be gone in order to afford Dwyane Wade.

First, let’s look at the solid assumptions made by Albert Nahmad at Heat Hoops about the factors the Heat must account for:

  • Goran Dragic’s contract will likely be around $97 million, structured in a creative manner to help the Heat in 2016-17
  • The Heat must allow for a near maximum contract for Hassan Whiteside [$21 million] in 2016-17 as part of their Wade contract calculations for this season
  • Wade’s options are a 1 year max deal, with a promise of a 2 year deal next year or a 3 year deal now

Miami Heat luxury tax v2The deal worth the most to Wade is the 1 year max with the promise of a 2 year deal to come. But the cost is prohibitive to the Heat, given that it results in a $58 million dollar luxury tax.

Miami Heat luxury tax v3Mikey Arison is not Prokhorov stupid to pay that amount of tax. So who are the Heat players with trade value? Josh McRoberts might be it. But its more complicated than that. The Heat literally want nothing in return. The trade needs to happen with a team whose player has a non-guaranteed contract.

At the end of the post, there is the list of all players with non-guaranteed contracts the Miami Heat will attempt to trade McRoberts for, to save around $22 million. Oh by the way, if they could trade Birdman too, they’d save another $16 million.

Wait, it gets better. The best fit would be with Cleveland and Brendan Haywood’s $10 million dollar non-guaranteed contract. Oy vey?
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