It’s Like Being Shot With Your Own Gun

wall-stI have been conspicuously quiet about economic downturn, aka Twenty-first Century Depression, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. Au contraire, I care a great deal. Millions of dollars worth. Yes, a year ago yours truly owned a financial statement stating a net worth in the low seven figures. Not bad, but keep in mind the majority of the balance sheet was in real estate and I’d been plugging away at my chosen career—home design and building for thirty-five years. So in essence, it really wasn’t that much for years of hard work, but then again, unlike the banks, I’m a conservative kinda guy.
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On the other hand, one year later my balance sheet is in the negative high six digits and growing. In other words I’m being water boarded in a sea of red ink and being sued by a bank who was involved in this mess to boot.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about the banks and by extension the mortgage companies and by further extension, the investment banks. I think it’s safe to say they got not just you and me, but the whole country in a pickle—a giant dill pickle—and unfortunately not just us. The whole world economy is in the toilet as well, thanks to these fast and lose loaners of our money. That’s right folks, these purveyors of calamity strangled us with our own money. It’s like being shot with our own gun.
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Our money? True story, it’s not their money they were recklessly giving away over the last fifteen years or so. Banks have very little of their own money and what they do have is supposed to be kept in reserve for times like these. That’s how banks operate—OPM, other peoples money. Your money, my money. I’ll give you an example. Take a fictitious bank. Some guy, call him Mr. Doe thinks he knows how to run a bank and decides to open one. He gets a federal or a state charter and then solicits investors to back him (buy stock) to raise enough money to meet reserve requirements. Then he rents, buys or builds a building and after hiring employees opens his doors and voila, he’s a bank, wise in the world of finance. We the customers, then make deposits in the form of savings and checking accounts in his bank. The bank takes our money and loans it back to us and other customers in the form of car loans, business loans, credit cards, etc.
FILE USA MORTGAGE CRISIS FREDDIE MAC
The thing is banks are supposed to be a good thing. They’re supposed to take our money and make strong, prudent loans charging a few percentage points more for the loan than they pay their depositors and indeed some banks did and still do operate that way. That two – three percent margin is supposed to cover the bank’s operating costs and what’s left over is profit. That’s the way it’s supposed to work and when it does it’s a good thing helping the community and everyone in it grow and prosper.

So what went wrong? I’m not sure, but one thing is for sure, greed is involved along with excess. Every so often, unless held in check by regulations, greed will raise its ugly head and bite us in the rear end, like the saving and loan crises did in the eighties. If you remember, the savings and loan institutions exclusively made non-conforming, non-government backed home loans. When they were wiped out after a round of pigging out after being de-regulated, banks and other investment groups took up the slack in home loans. As it turned out this was tantamount to letting the fox guard the hen house. Only the hens was our money. Oh, sure our money was insured by the FDIC, but the country and world was not insured against recklessness. In fact it was estimated at the beginning of the year that the financial institution sponsored economic sinkhole cost the citizens of our country eleven trillion in net worth. That’s $36,666 for every man, woman and child.

Isn’t life grand?
The Reluctant Republican

September 8, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Atrocity, dishonest, economy, politicians, politics. 4 comments.

Price of Honor: Muslim Women Lift the Veil of Silence on the Islamic World

While women can be mistreated by individuals in any society, Islam, at least extreme Islam, sanctifies the systemic abuse of all women.

“A man loves first his son, then his camel, and then his wife”
Arab Proverb

This book, written in 1995 by Jan Goodwin, describes the sometimes gruesome position many women find themselves in just by living in many predominantly Muslim countries. It lays out a theory wherein the rising popularity of militant, extreme, Fundamentalist Islam is the main reason for the deterioration of the rights of Muslim women, as these Islamists increase they’re power base at the expense of women’s rights. Goodwin goes on to say that there is little or no basis in the Koran (the Islamic Holy Book) for the deteriorating position of women in many Muslim countries. The scope of women’s disenfranchisement varies from mild to severe from country to country as Goodwin addresses conditions in the ten countries she visited. It also varies according to the beliefs of branch of Islam to which the woman’s family belongs, Fundamentalist being the most oppressive. She also describes how this creeping tide of militant fundamentalist Islam in a danger to mainstream Islam and moderate Muslims. Though life in moderate or mainstream Muslim societies is very hard on most women it borders on slavery under extreme societies.

“There is no fun in Islam”
Ayatollah Khomeini

In the Peoples Islamic Republic of Iran, Khomeini lowered the marriage age for females from eighteen to thirteen (ya hear that Jerry Lee), but permitted girls as young as nine, even seven in some cases to be married if a physician signs a certificate agreeing to their sexual maturity. (pedophilia heaven). However, to the Ayatollah’s credit, he drew the line at seven, stating that it is forbidden to have sex with girls under seven!

“If a man and woman are alone in one place, the third person present is the devil”
Prophet Mohammad

“Under the law as it stands in Pakistan, women who have been raped can be charged with adultery or fornication. The proof required for zina (sex outside of wedlock including rape) is that there be four Muslim adult males of “good repute” present who can attest to the act of sexual penetration. No male witnesses of good repute, of course, are likely to stand and watch a rape in progress without trying to stop it. And because of this requirement it becomes impossible to punish the rapists. Instead the victim is prosecuted. Her legal complaint of rape is considered a confession of illicit sexual intercourse.”

“The majority of Muslim women find their lives controlled by their closest male relative. They are the daughters whose future marriage partners continue to be determined by their fathers. They are the brides who must be virgins on their wedding nights in a culture where, if they are not, honor killings are common and often carried out by the girls own brothers”


Muslim Irony

Fundamentalists restrict women from working, leaving the house unescorted and unveiled, being clergy, driving, reading the Koran, marrying an infidel, going to school after the sixth grade if at all and more.

The Irony of this treatment is in this Quote: “Such restrictions on women are necessary. They are to protect women’s honor and they are also a symbol of our enormous respect for women”

CONCLUSION

This book and several others like it document the ugly, onerous, abhorrent living conditions perpetrated on many Muslim women by Muslim men in the name of Islam. In fairness, The Author has on numerous occasion stated there is no basis for this treatment in the tenets of Islam. In Islam, especially the fundamentalist version religion is power. The Clergy gain power by elevating their male adherents, as do the adherents, over the females. They also gain power by espousing enmity toward a common enemy as Khomeni did toward the U.S. This is the politics of Theocrats. (The last three sentences are my observations)

As for the book, I highly recommend it. It’s 358 pages is well written, easy to read, compelling and chuck full of insights. The author, Jan Goodwin, did a tremendous amount of research, visiting and living in some ten countries, interviewing hundreds of, sometimes shy and reluctant, women to publish this very comprehensive book. Many of these women gave interviews, even though it endangered them. A couple observations I came away with is that the exception of Saudi Arabia, the holy seat of Islam, the quality of women’s living conditions increased with the wealth of the country or in large countries the area. Also it seemed to me that for the average Muslim male, appearances took precedence over the welfare of his womenfolk.

There are so many other things I would like to bring out, like how many Muslim women are malnourished by getting only leftovers, while doing three times the work of her counterpart but you really need to read the book.

July 27, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Atrocity, Islam, misogyny, religion, review, Sharia, Shiite, Sunni, Terrorism, Wahabism. 9 comments.

A Review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (And the Crusades)

The Bottom Line
Most followers of Islam maintain their faith is a religion of peace and Allah (God) is merciful. Yet, the jihadists are even more vocal about their aggressive, destructive ways being directly from the Qur’an, therefore Allah (God).

Who’s right? They both are. Remember Muslim hordes set out in the seventh and eighth century to conquer the world and convert all infidels (non believers) to Islam. The fact is, the Qur’an and other Islamic holy books are full of contradictions, so if you are looking for answers to questions you may have about Islam, you won’t find them here. But, if you want to know what kind of people we are fighting against and why, this book will tell you.

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In this timely, hot button book, Robert Spencer examines the motivation and goals of, not necessarily, just the terrorists alone but fellow extremists and, by association, all Muslims in general.

He claims there is a substantial quantity of misinformation being disseminated about Islam, some officially and some by apologists. Islam, which, translates into surrender, appears to be aptly named since there was plenty of surrendering going on among Islam’s perceived enemies in the first hundred and fifty years of the religion. That’s when aggressive, ruthless armies of the Prophet Muhammad, poured out of Arabia, spreading the nascent religion across a swath of Africa and Asia from the Atlantic Ocean to India. Later Indonesia and parts of India, Thailand, China, Malaysia and the Philippines were added. The victims of this onslaught were given three options: surrender and convert to Islam, surrender and become a dhimmi (a second-class citizen subject to onerous taxation) or DEATH.

This area is home to some one point two billion Muslims, which Spencer claims are all potential enemies of the rest of the inhabitants of the globe. The reasoning is that the seeds of confrontation are intertwined within the fabric of Islam, through the Muslim holy book and he cites various passages from the Qur’an to substantiate his theory. At the head of these passages is Jihad, which means struggle. The struggle, according to Spencer is to struggle against the infidels (non-believers) to achieve a position of preeminence where Islam reigns supreme.

We all know that this is what bin Laden wants but it’s been widely reported that this view is a perversion of Islam. According to Spencer, this is straight out of the Qur’an and the perversion is that this information is being withheld from the public, ostensibly to not engender additional angst with John Q. Public. Even mainstream Muslim’s seem to have trouble coming to grips that their holy book is the basis of so much terrorism and could be so inconsistent.

Other passages that should be of concern to Westerners are the traditions of deceit and duplicity. Muslims should not befriend infidels and it’s expected that they should lie to them (but not Muslims). If they do befriend an infidel, it should only be to gain an advantage and any agreements with infidels are again, to gain an advantage and if no longer needed, should be discarded. No wonder Israel cannot get a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Spencer also takes a cursory look at the Crusades. He states that, although they appear to have been a waste of time and manpower, they kept the Muslims at bay for almost two hundred years. Spencer believes this gave the Europeans just enough time to build their strength and technology to hold their own when the Islamic hordes, once again set their sights there.

Even so, there are large pockets of Muslims left over from Jihadists incursions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania and Spain. It is Spencer’s contention that without the Crusades we might all be on our knees five times a day facing Mecca. However, that still might happen since an estimated fifteen million Muslim immigrants, with more daily, have inundated Europe. As we’ve all seen on the news recently with bombings in London and Madrid and riots in France, these immigrants can be problematic, but they also could become a fifth column.

Conclusion

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) is the kind of book that can get under your skin if you let it. I’m sure it’s accurate and factual and in comparison to other similar books I’ve read, specifically, about the plight of Muslim women, it backed what I had previously read. However, it seems to me, to be written with a conservative slant. It seems to highlight the worst of Islam, giving only perfunctory concessions to other views. The fact that Regnery Publishing, a well-known right wing publisher, published the book reinforces that feeling.

As for the author, Robert Spencer, he did a good job of presenting his case in a fluid, easily understandable and readable style. I personally believe what he wrote but many would feel it wasn’t balanced. He is obviously well versed on the subject of the book, providing the chapter/verse in the Qur’an, wherever he paraphrases a passage. He has a thorough knowledge of the subject and puts his views forward in a believable method. In addition, he provides many interesting sidebars where there are comparisons of the teachings of Muhammad and Jesus, quotes from historic figures, Books You’re Not Supposed to Read and Just Like Today segments.

Spencer makes several good points, such as saying our war on terror is incorrectly named, terror being a tactic. He says the enemy is the Jihadists and the war should be so named. I also got a kick out of Spencer’s term for outrageous, seventy-two virgins in heaven Muslim belief. He called it bordello paradise.

Frankly, if you are looking for some good news about the Muslims, this book is not for you, unless you consider learning more about their downside, good news. The bottom line, according to Spencer, is their can be no long-term peaceful co-existence with the Muslim society unless they modify the aggressive tenants of the Qur’an. Don’t hold your breath.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) is 231 pages and contains eighteen chapters. They are titled:

1] Muhammad: Prophet of War
2] The Qur’an: The Book of War
3] Islam: Religion of War
4] Islam: Religion of Intolerance
5] Islam Oppresses Women
6] Islamic Law: Lie, Steal, Kill
7] How Allah Killed Science
8] The Lure of Islamic Paradise
9] Islam – Spread by the Sword? You Bet.
10] Why the Crusades were called
11] The Crusades: Myth and Reality
12] What the Crusades Accomplished – And What They Didn’t
13] What if the Crusades Had Never Happened?
14] Islam and Christianity: Equivalent Traditions?
15] The Jihad Continues
16] “Islamophobia” and Today’s Ideological Jihad
17] Criticizing Islam May Be Hazardous to Your Health
18] The Crusade We Must Fight Today

November 3, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Atrocity, attack, Baghdad, Cheney, George W. Bush, Iran, Iraq, Islam, President Bush, Saudi Arabia, Sharia, Shiite, Sunni, Syria, Terrorism, women. 6 comments.

Execution of a teenager – A followup

Here is a follow-up of the blog I posted October, 17th.

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Neka (northern Iran), Aug 31 – The orphaned 16-year-old girl hanged in front of residents in this town close to the Caspian Sea on August 15 suffered years of brutal violence, exploitation and torture in the hands of relatives, local officials and plain strangers, and in a country where girls are the most vulnerable members of society, she had no one to go to for help.

The tragic picture emerges from dozens of interviews conducted by an Iran Focus correspondent with Atefeh Rajabi’s classmates, friends, relatives and neighbors in this humid, overcrowded industrial town that sits on a busy highway linking Tehran with the north of the country.

The hanging of Atefeh Rajabi has shocked the residents of Neka, who still differ widely in their assessment of the girl, but none voices support for the punishment that she has received. An air of tension and eerie silence hangs over the town’s smoke-filled tea-houses, or chaikhanehs, where men spend hours chatting quietly in clusters of three or four over tea. In a summer month like August, business should be booming in this town as thousands of Tehran residents flock to the sandy beaches of the Caspian. But right now, the visitors are for the most part not holidaymakers.

“There are lots of strangers who come and we are used to them,” says Askar, a young shopkeeper who sells a variety of citrus fruit jams. “But right now, all of them are asking about the girl. They want to know who she was and how she died.”

The shock of Atefeh’s execution has gone far beyond this town. Even in a country that has the highest number of executions in the world and routinely executes minors, Iranians across the nation have been bewildered by accounts of the hanging of a 16-year-old girl. The fact that the religious judge himself put the rope around her neck and the letters of “congratulations” from the town’s governor to the judge, commending him for his “firm approach” have only added to the torment and pain many say they have felt.

“Atefeh was not a well-behaved girl, that’s for sure. But do you hang a girl for having sex with an unmarried man?” asked Fariba, a girl in Atefeh’s neighborhood, who like many others did not want to be identified.

According to judicial records, by the time Atefeh was 16, she had been convicted five times of having sex with unmarried men. Each time she spent some time in jail and was given 100 lashes (Under Iran’s law, punishment for having sex with a married man would have been far heavier.)

Atefeh’s father is an unemployed drug addict whose whereabouts are not known. Her mother died when Atefeh was still a child and she was left in the care of her octogenarian grandparents, which meant no care at all.

“She was abused by a close relative,” says Mina, one of the few girls in Neka who identify themselves as Atefeh’s friends. “But she never dared even to talk about it to anyone. Tell your teachers? They’ll call you a whore. Tell the police? They lock you up and rape you. Better keep your mouth shut.”

Mina sobs as she recalls her friend’s tormented life, but many of these horrendous experiences are everyday facts of life for girls being brought up under a rigid theocratic regime that has institutionalized misogyny in its laws and practices.

“She sometimes talked about what these ‘Islamic moral policemen’ did to her while she was in jail. She still had nightmares about that. She said Behshahr Prison was the Hell itself.”

Alijan, a local grocer with graying hair, said many parents did not want Atefeh to socialize with their kids, because they thought she would have a corrupting influence on other young girls.

“Who can blame them?” he said, with a deep sigh. “In this country, if you’re a man and you go to jail, you can forget about having a future. Now imagine if a girl goes to jail. She was hopeless.”

“I knew this girl very well and she did not deserve what they did to her,” explains a middle-aged woman who once taught Atefeh in the local girls’ school. “She was lively, intelligent, and, of course, rebellious. She wouldn’t take injustice from anyone. But the authorities here equate these qualities in a girl to prostitution and evil. They wanted to give all the girls and women a lesson.”

Hamid was one of those fathers in the neighborhood who did not want her two daughters to befriend Atefeh, but with hindsight, he feels the guilt of not having done anything to help the girl.

“I think the most devastating event in her life was the death of her mother,” Hamid said. “Before that, she was a normal girl. Her mother was everything to her. When she died, she had no one to look after her.”

A pharmacist, whose shop is not far away from the Railway Square, where Atefeh was hanged, recalls her final, painful hour. “When agents of the State Security Forces brought her to the gallows, I felt cold sweat running down my back. She looked so young and innocent, standing there in the middle of all these bearded men in military fatigues. Judge Reza’i must have felt a personal grudge against her. He put the rope around her neck and left her dangling on the gallows for 45 minutes. I looked around and everyone in the crowd was sobbing and damning the mullahs for doing this to our young people.”

Atefeh had no access to a lawyer at any stage and her death sentence was upheld by a Supreme Court that is dominated by fundamentalist mullahs. Haji Rezaii, the religious judge, was reportedly so incensed with Atefeh’s “sharp tongue” during the trial that he travelled to Tehran to convince the mullahs of the Supreme Court to uphold the death sentence.

The tragically short life of Atefeh Rajabi its brutal end are a reminder of the plight of millions of girls in a country where, according to state-owned newspapers, 75 percent of the population live below the poverty line, 66 percent of women are victims of some form of domestic violence, and over 70 percent of women suffer from varying degrees of depression. Iran remains, in the words of UN Human Rights Rapporteur Maurice Copithorne, “a prison for women.”

October 25, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Atrocity, Iran, Islam, misogyny, murder, Sharia, Terrorism, women. 6 comments.

Iranian Justice (Based on Islamic law)

On August 8, 2004, Atefeh Rajabi, a sixteen year old girl, was executed in the Iranian city of Neka. Officially, her crime was ‘acts incompatible with chastity.’ Unofficially, it was because she was a free spirit in a dogmatic theocracy, doing what she wanted and thumbing her nose at authority in the form of the stupid Iranian laws

An example had to be made and made it was as the teenager, Atefeh Rajabi dangled from the end of a crane in a square for forty-five minutes.

The late not so great Ayatollah Khomeini, was quoted as saying “There is no fun in Islam.” Obviously this is true, unless you happen to be one one the misanthropes who run the misbegotten hunk of desert called Iran.

The following is a reprint of an article I came across on the internet.

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Siamack Baniameri
September 25, 2004
iranian.com

In the past twenty some years, I have seen them come and I’ve seen them go. Some live, some die, and some disappear. Some are executed, some are tortured, some are rotting in prisons, and some are rotting in hell or heaven — depends on who you talk to.

It doesn’t bother me none. They have chosen that path and they have bigger balls than you and I. They have been around for thousands of years and they’ll be around for thousands more: the rebels, revolutionaries, freedom fighters, activists, and whatnot.

But seeing her picture, hanging from a rope, broke my heart. I generally don’t give a shit, but this one, I couldn’t stomach. Dead, she looked more human than many of the living in this jungle of inhumanity.

Atefeh Rajabi was my kind of a girl: a hard-drinking, sex-loving, foul-mouthed, rebellious, defiant, seductive teenager who didn’t take shit from grownups and made no attempt to sugarcoat her demeanor the way Iranian women often do.

She was a type of a teenager who would look us straight in the eyes and tell us to go to hell. She didn’t put up with our rules and laws and traditions and social standards and religious beliefs or code of conduct. She didn’t buy any of our bullshit. She didn’t care anymore. She had enough of our crap.

Atefeh did what she liked and for that she stays on my cool-list. Atefeh’s defiance of all conceited Iranian social and cultural values is what makes her my number one girl.

Some of you are probably thinking that admiring a teenager who exhibited immoral and decadent behavior is inappropriate and sets a bad example. The only answer I have for you is what most likely Atefeh would’ve told you to fuck off. You created Atefeh and many like her. And you — that’s right, you — tie the rope around their necks every single day of their young lives.

Atefeh and many like her are byproducts of dysfunctional Iranian culture that push teenage girls underground in search of answers to some fundamental human questions and needs. A sick culture that is cherished by many of us because it feeds our egos and band-aids our defeats and deficiencies.

We have managed to deprive our teenage girls from every essence that makes them human. We have managed to take away their desires, curiosity, self-respect, wit, and the most basic instinct of every human: to seek happiness.

We get offended by Atefeh Rajabi and others like her because she challenges every fiber of our traditional pride and she questions everything that is sacred to us. Atefeh was poison to Iranian values and she needed to be silenced. And that’s exactly what we did.

While thousands of execution enthusiasts watched her little neck snap like a toothpick and her small body dangling from a rope for twenty minutes, not a single asshole said a damn thing to stop it. Boy, am I proud to be an Iranian.

I wish I knew her. Like her big brother, I can picture myself having a lively conversation with her over a shot of chilled vodka and maasto-khiaar. Would I have a drink with my teenage sister? Why the hell not!

I would’ve told her a dirty joke or two and I’m sure she would’ve matched with some of her own. I would have asked her if there was a guy in the ‘hood that she had her eyes on. I would’ve asked her who her favorite singer was or what kind of music she listened to. I would have thanked her for being who she was and kissed her small hands for no particular reason.

For many self-righteous Iranian folks who abandon Atefeh and many like her because she was a “whore” or “misfit,” take a good look at that small girl’s body hanging from a crane. This is your daughter.

October 18, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Atrocity, execution, hang, Iran, Islam, misogyny, murder, Overzealous, sex scene, Sharia, Teen, teenager, Terrorism, women. 3 comments.