What is Honor Anyway?

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Today Virginia we will talk about a forgotten word: Honor

Over at the FirstAmendmentCenter.org there is a piece on a recent challenge to the federal law criminalizing false assumption of military honors, namely medals awarded for combat.  It seems that in this day and age no one can quite figure out just why it is not a form of free speech to claim falsely to have won the Medal of Honor.

“2 men challenge federal law barring lies about military medals
By The Associated Press
02.09.10

DENVER — The federal courts are wrestling with a question of both liberty and patriotism: Does the First Amendment right to free speech protect people who lie about being war heroes?

At issue is a 3-year-old federal law called the Stolen Valor Act that makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to falsely claim to have received a medal from the US. . military. It is a crime even if the liar makes no effort to profit from his stolen glory.

Attorneys in Colorado and California are challenging the law on behalf of two men who have been charged with the violating the law, saying the First Amendment protects almost all speech that doesn’t hurt someone else. Neither man has been accused by prosecutors of seeking financial gain for himself.”

And that last bit is the crux of the whole matter; not for financial gain.  But a recipient of a Purple Heart and a Silver Star does not just have a shiny piece of metal that can be used to get a free airline upgrade.  The honored members of our military that have been awarded medals possess the collective gratitude and respect of the Nation.  They have been awarded a sort of diploma or “Letter of Confidence” declaring them to have EARNED that status in the eyes of the law.

“Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School who is not involved in the two cases, says the Stolen Valor Act raises serious constitutional questions because it in effect bans bragging or exaggerating about yourself.

"Half the pickup lines in bars across the country could be criminalized under that concept," he said.”

Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School can kiss my ass.  Pardon me, I mean he can kiss George Washington’s ass.  Is it just bragging to claim to be a brain surgeon if there is no prospect of someone asking you to perform surgery and you make no money?  Only someone who feels they are given for worthless service could believe so, in my humble opinion.

“The Stolen Valor Act revised and toughened a law that forbids anyone to wear a military medal that was not earned. The revised measure sailed through Congress in late 2006, receiving unanimous approval in the Senate.

Dozens of people have been arrested under the law at a time when veterans coming home from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are being embraced as heroes. Many of the cases involve men who simply got caught living a lie without profiting from it. Virtually all the impostors were ordered to perform community service.”

The key phrase above is “embraced as war heroes”.  Nothing more need be said. Anyone identifying themselves as a holder of a Purple Heart, let alone the Medal of Honor is given a MANTLE OF HONOR that all who are aware of will react to; MOST people, even citizens of other nations, will react with an automatic goodwill and benefit-of-the-doubt respect toward these people. 

“Defense attorneys say the law is problematic in the way it does not require the lie to be part of a scheme for gain. Turley said someone lying about having a medal to profit financially should instead be charged with fraud.

One of the men challenging the law is Xavier Alvarez of Pomona, Ca. He had just been elected to a water-district board in 2007 when he said at a public meeting that he was a retired Marine who received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration.”

I would say that it is the defense attorneys lack of military service that it the “problematic” issue here.  They are unable to see that in cases like Mr.. Alvarez from my neighboring city of Pomona that if he had gotten away with it, EVERYTHING he did after that would have carried that patina of honor, an honor that was not his but belonged to the nation. 

Hey Prof. Turley, how about if you look at it this way, suppose someone lied about having saved your daughter from being raped and murdered, do you think that even if they did not get a penny from you they might have stolen something precious?  Imagine telling others about your new friend, imagine letting little “problems” go by because of his past “actions”.  Are you starting to get it now? 

In selling a business the goodwill of the customers is often a part of the package offered.  If the former owner messes things up at the last moment and makes the customers angry the new owner can recover part of the cost. 

“The other person challenging the law is Rick Glen Strandlof, who claimed he was an ex-Marine wounded in Iraq and had received the Purple Heart and Silver Star medals. He founded an organization in Colorado Springs that helped homeless veterans. Military officials said they had no record that he ever served. He has pleaded not guilty, and a judge is considering whether to throw out the charge….

Attorneys challenging the law say that lying about getting a medal doesn’t fit any of the categories of speech that the U.S. Supreme Court has said can be banned: lewd, obscene, profane, libelous or creating imminent danger to others, such as yelling fire in a crowded theater…

Army veteran Pete Lemon of Colorado Springs, who received the Medal of Honor for turning back an enemy assault and rescuing wounded comrades in Vietnam while injured himself, supports the law, saying that pretending to have a medal can bring undeserved rewards.”

Helping homeless vets is a good thing but, this man is the one who would be making his living from the money collected, money that would flow a lot easier with his pretended credentials.  This is about as close as you can get to someone practicing medicine without a license as you can get.  Who would not feel that such a medal winner would not be the best person to relate to troubled vets? Instead they got a wannabe who had no idea what they had been through or needed.

The sad part though are the lawyers who are too greedy or too soul-dead to get it.  More monkey motion while the Gremlins of Roman prepare the matches.

 

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller; ernhaftik held & heldin

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Over on Jihad Watch today I got a bit of a disappointment and huge rush of satisfaction in seeing Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller (Atlas Shrugs) stand up for their mission, their dignity and their self respect while losing a large sum of money and a major networking opportunity.

I myself had planned to attend the May 1 premier of Martin Mawyer’s film Islam Rising in Los Angeles.  I have been awaiting an opportunity to meet and network with many figures from the political and blogospheres. Now this will not be. Geller and Spencer today announced that the event has been cancelled.

I will let Robert Spencer tell the tale; I agree 100% with their decision.

This was my comment on Robert’s site:

Kudos! It is hard standing up for your principals against those that threaten to withdraw support for things you agree on if you won’t support them in things you do not like.
It also is wise to hold to the mission; Jihad Watch, not Lefty Watch even when you DO agree. Without a focus on something Liberals and Conservatives can support (anti-Jihad)the already tenuous movement would crumble.
Of course the Partisans on the Right would not mind if that happened.
Anyone ever realize that all too often in history the only thing that keeps the radicals from completely destroying all that we call civilization are the radicals on the other side? And this we call politics? I call it suicide by passionless Moderates!
Even not being able to attend the event does not outweigh the pleasure I feel from this concrete,and expensive, evidence of integrity

Tweaking Moral Noses on the Left & Right: Prison Reform

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Prison reform, whichever way you mean that, has always meant to ME going back to a more objective and dispassionate way of looking at things.

Regardless of what the Bible or Torah might say the U.S. is NOT basing its justice system on an eye for an eye. I know there are many people who take a great, tribalistic pleasure in contemplating the pain and suffering of a condemned criminal, especially when the crime was a heinous one.

I submit that this attitude is a selfish one; it has nothing to do with the classic Liberal Enlightenment values that this country was founded upon.

Let me pause to ask the more reactionary of readers to calm down and take a deep breath and stop preparing to shove words in my mouth. I do not think that EITHER major side in this debate is framing things in the right terms.

There is a war between people who want to make each day of a criminal’s sentence HURT. What would Jesus say about that? What would Buddha or Krishna say? What would Hillel think about it? The other side SAYS they want to rehabilitate the prisoner and that harshness in the environment only makes the PERSON more messed up and likely to remain a committer of crimes and a danger to, or at least destabilizer of, society. But the result seems to be coddling and pampering and again we see a criminal who becomes a MORE irresponsible member of society.

For these people ARE members of or society, we cannot disown them the way irresponsible parents do when they pretend that the horrible children they raised do not reflect upon them.

The People, for in the U.S. it is said WE are the Sate, have the right to protect its citizens. The State has a DUTY to reduce the incidence of crime and keep criminals from harming life, limb or property. But how best is that end served? Mollycoddling rapists and telling them that if not for their mean daddy they would be a good person, and then recommends that rapist be set free? Or do we have a prison system designed to humiliate and break a person’s body and soul, so that when released they are debilitated in proportion to their crime? To me the first breeds arrogant, contemptuous new crimes and the second breed desperate angry new crimes, for do not forget just how “blind” justice can be when self-involved humans are in charge. “We must do the best we can with what we have. “ – John Paul Jones

As far as I can see, any approach that does not recognize the both the right of the People to protect themselves and their society AND the right of the CITIZEN prisoner to be treated, not only humanely, but with an implicit admission that ANY human system is fallible, and that it is better to err in mercy than in harshness. We also need to take a practical approach to the management of day to day prison life.

Regardless of stupid excesses promulgated by ignorant or irresponsible officials it is NOT in line with founding principles to deny that AT NO TIME DOES A PRISONER STOP BEING A CITIZEN, just like you and me in their essential Constitutional rights. (I think we have gone too far in abrogating this over the decades; the only crime that should deny a person their vote are felonies involving elections or voter rights and, the only crimes that should deny a citizen the right to bear arms are violent crimes of a felonious nature. That said, it should be obvious, to anyone who hasn’t drunk the PC Kool-Aid that a violent criminal who has only used his hands should NOT be allowed carry a gun any more than the one that killed with a gun.

What DO I think our prisons should look like? How long should sentences be? What rights to medical care does a prisoner have? Well Virginia, let me share with you MY vision for justice and rehabilitation in America.

Any right that does not allow a prisoner to harm others CANNOT BE TAKEN AWAY OR DILUTED IN ANYWAY! How is that for simple? It might be needed that a prisoner be kept in solitary and controlled with very positive means, as Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs but, like Lector he does not lose his right to ANYTHING that cannot be used to cause harm or escape. If a prisoner does cause harm or escape it is because the sate failed for logistical reasons, not because they failed to strip the prisoner of enough rights.

If you put a stupid psychologist in charge of a mental ward would you expect the patients to get well or worse? Well PC correct mentality is about the dumbest there are.

If you put a sadist in charge of people who are violent and lack self control would you expect them to become centered, grounded and reasonable?

Obviously neither approach will work, we need to take the good parts of both concepts and trash ruthlessly all ideas that are proven to not work. One way to do this is to…

A. stop thinking of a convicted prisoner as anything but a special class of CITIZEN, as viewed by the State

B. Understand that the People’s right to CONTROL the ability of the prisoner to harm others is ABSOLUTE.

C. Understand that in the interest of preventing future crimes by the convicted Citizen when they are released the People have the right to FORCE prisoners to submit to education and non-coercive or invasive psychological therapy. Obviously it is wrong to make a person take mind altering chemicals; equally it is silly to think that a prisoner who refuses his meds should not be put under tighter control.

D. (this is the one that will have the conservatives howling to the moon) The standard of comfort, access to media and information and medical care should be at a level consistent with mid-line Middle Class folk. Food should be at the same standard and religious accommodation for established faith diets, i.e. kosher, Halal, Vegetarian should be accommodated on a one for one basis with the mainstream food in terms of quality and abundance. A person cannot be expected to GROW in human terms and be the Citizen you WANT him to become if you dully his senses and sap his vitality.

What all these points add up to is the recognition that ONLY issues that are important are to protect society from criminals and to return those criminals to society as unlikely to reoffend as possible.

I have always felt that the people who are big on harsh prison conditions really just wish they could execute anyone that is convicted of an offense deserving prison time to profound is their abandonment of that persons capacity for a human future. Of course the other side seems to think that if you just treated him “fairly” and if you “gave him trust” and hired him to be your communities youth organizer Charles Manson would be fine on parole. To me both sides have little to add to the situation but more toxic results. How about we get over trying to use the State to inflict revenge and realize that once a “threat to society” is convicted and sentenced there is no NEED to nor MORALITY in getting off on making them “pay.” OF course if you want to talk about CIVIL restitution, that is a whole ‘nother ball of wax, I see no problem with making someone try to restore balance that they have destroyed.

I hope by now you all can see I am no soft-headed PC fool nor a self-righteous seeker of counterproductive revenge on the unfortunates of society. I am a moderate citizen who believes that the principals of justice held dear by our founders STILL apply and IF ACTUALLY IMPLIMENTED, would work far better than the senseless mélange of toxicity and lenience that prevails in America today.

Muslim Staffers in Congress Organize Lobbying Group: Stonewall on Election Process

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As I have reported before in Congress there is a group that purports to represent the concerns and needs of ALL Muslims working for Congress, and indeed all Muslims in America and those affected by US policy.

Heretics Crusade has done a series of posts on this group, the public background of it’s executive board and some analysis of the “resources” provided on the CMSA website.

The Congressional Muslim Staffer’s Association website reads in part:

The Congressional Muslim Staffers Association (CMSA) was established in 2006, during the 109th Congress, and is an officially recognized Congressional staff association registered with the Committee on House Administration. Every Congressional term, the CMSA receives sponsorship from a Congressional Member(s) to be registered with the Committee on House Administration. Congressmen Ellison and Carson are the current CMSA sponsors for the 111th Congress…

The CMSA is a valued resource to Congressional Members and staff, conducting programs that increase their awareness about the diverse Muslim American community and presenting the plurality of the community’s social and political perspectives and concerns…

Any Muslim Congressional employee is considered a CMSA member regardless of their level of participation or the degree that they publicly identify themselves as “Muslim”

So, here we have a group that CLAIMS to represent virtually all Muslims and former Muslims who happen to work for Congress, they also claim to represent the views of “mainstream” American Muslims, yet they only invite Islamist friendly speakers and only link to Islamist friendly resources and to conservative Islamic Law sites.

In my previous pieces regarding the CMSA I have shown the bias that seems to permeate almost all the the links and people associated with the group.  Today I want to address a new concern, elections of the CMSA executive board.

Now the CMSA website declares in no uncertain terms that:

The Executive Board is elected on an annual basis, with its term being congruent with the calendar year beginning on January 1st and ending December 31st. Board elections are held in late November/early December. Elections are coordinated by an Ex-Officio Board Member who cannot run for any Executive Board position.

The only problem with that is that the Executive Board changed not a single member from last year, no election was announced on the site and no candidates were provided, nor was there any listing of votes received. 

The only (sporadic, and now long since ended) contact I had with ANY member of the board informed me that elections were ACTUALLY held in sync with Representative’s elections but, the web site still (two months later)proclaims their yearly occurrence. 

The board members are listed, and contactable but, do not seem to have mastered hitting the reply button or returning calls.  One wonders how they manage to function on the staff of a Congressman with such poor communication skills!   Not one email or message that I have sent/left inquiring as to facts or inviting their response to my posts has been answered.

My last message was to Assad Ahkter Himself, Lord High Poobah of the CMSA,  asking him to please correct the miscommunication of his, no doubt sincere, subordinates and please inform me of the dates, participants, and votes received for their last election.  Not even an echo has been heard.

Surely there is someone on the Hill who can pop into Congressman Ellison’s or Congressman Carson’s office and ask them to please inform their protégés that transparency is about the public being able to SEE things, not that the things sought after should be invisible!

Good Old “Moderate” Imams! Fatwa bans American Muslims from Giving Aid to US Troops

This has got to take the cake for sheer chutzpa!  And meanwhile CAIR tells US Muslims that they should NOT cooperate with law enforcement AT ALL.

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“American Muslims are banned from helping U.S. soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and other "Muslim lands," according to a shocking fatwa, or religious decree, recently issued by American-based Islamic jurists.

One of the most respected Islamic law authorities in America has decreed it is "not permissible" for even Muslims who are citizens of America to send food or other aid to American troops serving in those Muslim countries.

The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, or AMJA, ruled it is a "sin" to help the U.S. military in its multi-front war on terror. AMJA delivered the ruling through its online "fatwa bank":

"Q: Is it permissible to participate in taking food to the American and foreign soldiers working in Muslim lands?"
"A: That would not be permissible, for that would be helping others in sin and transgression."

Critics warn that such anti-military views by Muslim scholars have translated into homegrown violence against American soldiers.

Another American cleric, Anwar Awlaki, has decreed that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are crimes against Muslims and has warned fellow Muslim Americans not to serve in the U.S. military or support U.S. military efforts in any way. Recently, he has issued fatwas declaring U.S. troops and military bases open target for jihad.

The Fort Dix Six terrorists cited Awlaki’s sermons as a prime motivating factor in their plot to attack Army personnel based at the New Jersey post.

"He gave the fatwa," Muslim terrorist Dritan Duka of New Jersey said of Awlaki. "Hit them (American soldiers) here" in the U.S.

In a series of e-mail exchanges, Awlaki personally counseled Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the accused Fort Hood terrorist, who railed against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars during a PowerPoint presentation to Army colleagues. He also praised a deadly 2009 attack on an Army recruiting station in Arkansas by a Muslim American.

Hasan in late 2008 and early 2009 had asked Awlaki "about killing American soldiers and officers and whether that was legitimate or not."

In response, Awlaki gave his blessing to such attacks. “

READ IT ALL…

Heretics Crusade’s Israel Apartheid Week Response Via Latma to The MSA (Muslim Student Association)

More timely video from Carline Glick’s Hebrew satire site Latma. The segment on the Palestinian Minister of Uncontrollable Rage is hilarious! If Julie Andrews sees this she will have a heart attack THEN turn in her grave; but it is too funny to miss.

Looking West to America: Middle-Eastern Voices

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So low have we sunk that commentary in al-Arabiya strikes home:

One can say many things about George W. Bush’s years in office, positive and negative, but he never sinned through ambiguity. A year into Obama’s term, however, ambiguity and disorientation are presidential trademarks in the Middle East.

Does the administration stand for democracy, for example, or more broadly has it made human rights principles a centerpiece of its policy? Not really. During his campaign Obama consciously played down that trope by accepting that he would talk to the region’s rogues without condition. He tried with the Iranian regime, which ignored his overtures, and when the Green Movement took to the streets last summer, the president for a time studiously avoided encouraging the demonstrators. In his Cairo speech, Obama only paid lip service to democracy and human rights, showing that they were really not what preoccupied him.
Now Washington has sent an ambassador back to Damascus – without conditions…

Syrian involvement in the myriad bomb attacks in Iraq, its support for Iraqi Baathists, and its permissiveness toward al-Qaeda in Iraq have not made the administration reconsider its Syrian opening. Violence works, and Obama has not proven otherwise.
In that case, can we say that the administration stands for stability and balance in the Middle East? …

The Syrians have made it amply clear that they will not turn against Iran, nor do they see any advantages in doing so, and Damascus’ propensity for exporting conflict to Iraq, the Palestinian areas, and Lebanon, hardly enhances stability….

The reality is that the Obama administration these days provokes little confidence in its allies and even less fear in its adversaries. The U.S. remains the dominant actor in the Middle East, but to what end? If Obama’s ultimate goal is to be different than George W. Bush, he hasn’t even managed that. As setback follows setback, he is increasingly finding himself constrained by the same dynamics that Bush faced. But at least Bush knew what he was supposed to be about. Obama just seems lost.
Read It All…

And this one:

Does the idea of getting involved in the fight against Al Qaeda, despite its dangers, bring with it the key to Ali Baba’s cave and the treasures within? Why did the idea come about to show generosity and support to states that threaten regional and international security just as the case is with Pakistan and Afghanistan?
Why didn’t anyone embark upon helping Yemen when it was stable and in desperate need of this kind of support? Jordan, which is an example of a country in need of this support, succeeded at containing Al Qaeda and fighting terrorism, and is committed to the rules of development and political reform, yet it receives less than a fifth of what was promised to Yemen recently. Does Bin Laden first need to set up a branch in Amman so that the Jordanians can call for a meeting of donor countries and provide for half of its population made up of refugees? The same goes for Tunisia and every country that is in dire need of aid but did not neglect its development or security [issues], which was the case in Yemen.

Read It All…