Condemning The Book-Burning Idiocy

I’m sure most everyone has heard by now of the Florida church that is planning on burning the Koran on Saturday to commemorate, in the most wrong-headed way imaginable, the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  The book-burning exercise has been roundly condemned throughout the world, and General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has warned that the act would put the lives of American troops in even greater danger.

It is unnecessary, but I nevertheless want to add my voice to the chorus of disapproval for two reasons.  First, book-burning is unacceptable, period.  Anyone who believes in free speech believes that the appropriate response to speech is more speech, not censorship — and certainly not the pointlessly provocative act of burning a book that is sacred to another religion.  This is America, not Nazi Germany, and the ignorant members of the Dove World Outreach Center would do well to remember that.

Second, the contemplated action of this obscure church is exactly the kind of thing that makes non-religious Americans cringe in shame and shake their heads in dismay — and I am sure it is even more embarrassing and infuriating to Americans who are religious.  America is founded on fundamental concepts of religious tolerance.  Freedom of religion means that we put up with the apparently nutty members of the Dove World Outreach Center and allow them to gather and celebrate their religious beliefs, whatever they may be, without interference.  All we ask is that they behave responsibly and respect the views of others who hold different beliefs.  Any Americans who put members of our armed forces, who already are in harm’s way, in even more peril in order to receive publicity or to further their obscure religious beliefs are acting with unforgivable recklessness.  They are perversely giving America a black eye for religious intolerance when, to the contrary, the very existence of the Dove World Outreach Center is compelling evidence of the sweeping religious tolerance that characterizes this country.

What the members of the Dove World Outreach Center are planning on doing is shameful, and they should be denounced by every American.

Should Mark David Chapman Be Paroled? (Update)

A New York parole board has decided to deny Mark David Chapman’s latest application for parole.  The board interviewed Chapman, who is now 55 years old, and decided  that his “release remains inappropriate at this time and incompatible with the welfare of the community.”

As I’ve noted, I agree with that decision.

A Man of His Word

Over the weekend I finished a book written by Imam Rauf in 2004 called What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America. I highly recommend it. I’ve written about Imam Rauf in a prior blog and he is the man behind the community center they hope to build a few blocks from Ground Zero. 

Imam Rauf recommended in his book that a good start in mending our relationship with the Muslim world would be for an American President to give a speech somewhere in the Muslim world on US – Muslim tensions. I was reminded of the excellent speech (below) that President Obama gave early in his presidency.   

Another important thing I took from the book was some of the key historical events that have caused the rise in Islamic religious fundamentalism. Imam Rauf points to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after World War I which Muslims regard as a deliberate attempt by the West to destroy Islam, a widely shared Muslim perception that the United States has supported undemocratic regimes in Muslim countries, the CIA overthrow of Mossadegh a popularly elected prime minister of Iran in which we refused to support the will of the governed and the first George Bush’s request of Iraqi citizens to rise up against Saddam Hussein which they did, but then not supporting them.

Imam Rauf wants the United States to be a catalyst and supporter for nurturing discussions that raise dialogue to help implement democracy in the Islamic world. How can this be a bad thing ? It’s just my humble opinion, but more communication has got to be the answer. If our government continues to choose the military option to accomplish our objectives then things will never get better and we will never escape this vicious cycle.

The 2003 National Championship Game (II)

The game day edition of the Arizona Republic

The 2003 National Championship Game posed some daunting logistical challenges.  How to get to tickets?  How could I possibly get to the game without having to take out a second mortgage on the house?  Once we got to the Phoenix area, where would we stay?

The tickets were the toughest issue.  I didn’t have season tickets, nor did I make four-figure donations to the Ohio State Athletic Department or Alumni Association that might permit me to get some.  I could use a ticket broker, but long-suffering Buckeye fans had bid the cost of tickets through the roof, and there was an undercurrent of concern that fraudsters offering phony tickets might prey on Ohio State faithful.  (This turned out to be a valid concern, as one of my friends learned to his chagrin that year.)  So, in hopes of getting a ticket for a somewhat reasonable price, I used eBay for the first, and only, time.  I found a pair of tickets purportedly being offered by a Miami student, bid and re-bid, and ultimately got the ducats for $980 — more than three times face value, but still below the apparent market price being quoted by brokers.  A few days later, the tickets arrived.  They looked genuine, but I wouldn’t know for sure until we got to the stadium on game day.

Once we had the tickets (apparently), the travel pieces fell into place.  Air fare from Columbus to Phoenix had been jacked through the roof, and all flights were packed.  So, I looked into the possibility of flying into some relatively close airport, like Las Vegas, San Diego, or Tucson, and renting a car.  I ended up getting round-trip tickets to San Diego for a reasonable price.  And when word got out the Russell and I were going to the game, one of my friends from work, the saintly Dan Minor, asked if Russell and I would like to stay with Dan and his son John in a condo at The Boulders resort in Scottsdale.  That was one of the easiest decisions I ever made!

The weeks after the Buckeyes’ victory over Michigan had been busy with logistics.  Now, with tickets and travel plans in hand, Russell and I enjoyed the holiday season, all the while waiting for our January 1, 2003 departure date.

The 2003 National Championship Game (I)


President Obama has proposed another form of stimulus legislation to address our economic woes.  This time, his proposal seeks to spend $50 billion to rebuild more roads, railways, and runways.

It’s hard to see how this $50 billion stimulus proposal could have a significant immediate impact on the economy or unemployment.  After all, last year’s much larger stimulus bill, which was supposed to target “shovel-ready” projects, didn’t deliver what was promised.  In addition, the President’s latest proposal would have to go through the ponderous government contracting process, which means that the money would not be spent quickly.  Cynics no doubt will argue that this proposal is a political gambit that is intended only to give President Obama and congressional Democrats a platform to criticize Republicans, who clearly will oppose more spending in view of the nation’s budget woes, as heartless and indifferent to the plight of the many unemployed.

Let’s take the President’s proposal at face value, however.  In view of the apparent failure of the first stimulus package, isn’t it curious that more stimulus spending is all the President’s economic team can come up with?  Polling data is showing that a broad majority of Americans think that the first stimulus legislation was a colossal waste of money.  By going back to the well with another stimulus proposal notwithstanding the polls, the Administration is showing a remarkable tin ear.  In view of this proposal, won’t voters in November be well within their rights in concluding that a vote for congressional Democrats really is a vote for still more borrowing and spending?  Given the mood of the country, that conclusion probably won’t bode well for the President or his allies.