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Thread: Shariah is coming! Shariah is coming!

  1. #21
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default I think you confuse "motivation" for "causation"

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    Which agenda, to bring this back to the original post, is their own, radical version of Sharia.

    There have been a lot of good points raised on this thread, but one that should be added is that Nations (in the capital letter sense) have interests. They also have culturally determined morals and ethics to govern how those interests are pursued. For all the talk of "international community," there is absolutely no consensus on what those morals and ethics should be. (which is why I've always thought talk of "international community" a useless form of intellectual [self satisfaction].)

    Whether we like it, or want to acknowledge it, or not, there are:

    a. Groups of radical, violent ideologues who draw inspiration, or at least political cover, from a specific religion they have be interpreted as requiring intrusion into all aspects of life. (Not my interpretation, it's theirs.) These groups completely and absolutely reject any notion of internationally accepted morals and ethics in any dimension of human experience.

    b. A significant number of people have adopted this radical interpretation as a way of explaining their circumstances in life, whether that be the unpopular American teenager or the impoverished and brutalized Yemeni peasant.

    c. There are Nation states that find it in their interest to promote and even encourage these groups as a tool in advancing what they have determined to be their national interest. That interest may be establishing a regional hegemony (Iran) or a tool for redirecting domestic frustrations (Saudi Arabia).

    I agree, it's not time to push any panic button over some grand international conspiracy to impose Sharia on the world. But I think it might be short sighted not to recognize that that is a major motivator to many of the people drawn to the violent movements.
    The Pied Piper is a fairy tale. Bin Laden is not leading the children of Islam to their doom with some magic flute of ideology. He is waging UW and his purposes, while twisted, are political. If the Muslim populaces of the Middle East in large, and Muslim populaces of the West in part, did not reasonably perceive that they were held in conditions of poor governance by the West, their would be little support to AQ.

    It is easier to blame Islam and label it as evil than to take hard looks at our own approaches to foreign policy in the Middle East. I get it. That doesn't mean I condone it, and I certainly won't just push of responsibility for my own actions onto some convenient foil.

    Radical Islam is no more and no less the problem for western governments today than Radical Christianity was 500 years ago. Sometimes governments bring these problems on themselves through their actions. It isn't about religion, it is about politics.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  2. #22
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    I agree, it's not time to push any panic button over some grand international conspiracy to impose Sharia on the world. But I think it might be short sighted not to recognize that that is a major motivator to many of the people drawn to the violent movements.
    No doubt but my point was that hysterical and nonsensical stuff like the Boykin/Soyster report detracts from our ability to recognize its real role. It's "crying wolf." People stop listening after a while and hence won't hear if there is a real wolf.

  3. #23
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    And my point was that the more democratic governments in the Islamic world become, the more anti-Americanism will influence their policies. Just compare Turkey's relationship to the U.S. today to its relationship under the military junta. Same with Pakistan.

    I believe that means that our best partners are going to be despots like Mubarak and the house of Saud. The more democracy grows, the less receptiveness to us.

    Is that a basis for a global strategy?
    *snark* It has been for decades, hasn't it? *snark*

    Perhaps I'm not understanding the thrust of your article. Is it that Islamophobia in the West is the issue, or that anti-Americanism in the Muslim world is the issue?

    If it's anti-Americanism, I would argue that the problem is quite manageable.

    Political majorities in Muslim countries are little different than in America in that they are primarily focused on domestic politics. You will get a lot of people willing to say they don't like America or American foreign policy, but very few people willing to actually vote or demonstrate or apply genuine political pressure based on anti-Americanism. This might shift based on a major media incident or if the U.S. becomes involved in a domestic issue (i.e. American bases or military presence, or U.S. involvement in elections, or U.S. invasion of a neighbor), but most people just don't pay that much attention to foreign issues, and rarely on a sustained basis.

    As Ken reminds us, anti-Americanism is quite strong as a cultural undercurrent in many countries, including many that are U.S. allies. This includes South Korea, large swathes of South and Central America, France, Mexico, Germany, etc. I would chalk up places like Indonesia, Malaysia, and India as other countries whose governments often find common ground with the U.S. despite cultural anti-Americanism in many parts of society.

    Culture matters to a degree, but in foreign affairs interests matter more, especially in the day to day.

  4. #24
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    *snark* It has been for decades, hasn't it? *snark*

    Perhaps I'm not understanding the thrust of your article. Is it that Islamophobia in the West is the issue, or that anti-Americanism in the Muslim world is the issue?

    If it's anti-Americanism, I would argue that the problem is quite manageable.

    Political majorities in Muslim countries are little different than in America in that they are primarily focused on domestic politics. You will get a lot of people willing to say they don't like America or American foreign policy, but very few people willing to actually vote or demonstrate or apply genuine political pressure based on anti-Americanism. This might shift based on a major media incident or if the U.S. becomes involved in a domestic issue (i.e. American bases or military presence, or U.S. involvement in elections, or U.S. invasion of a neighbor), but most people just don't pay that much attention to foreign issues, and rarely on a sustained basis.

    As Ken reminds us, anti-Americanism is quite strong as a cultural undercurrent in many countries, including many that are U.S. allies. This includes South Korea, large swathes of South and Central America, France, Mexico, Germany, etc. I would chalk up places like Indonesia, Malaysia, and India as other countries whose governments often find common ground with the U.S. despite cultural anti-Americanism in many parts of society.

    Culture matters to a degree, but in foreign affairs interests matter more, especially in the day to day.
    I'm not trying to assign blame. My point was simply that it makes no sense to pretend we can execute a strategy based on partnership when both sides are increasingly hostile to the other. We've deluded ourselves into believing this is all a misunderstanding, and we can fix it if we just get our STRATCOMMs better organized.

    And, personally, I think the anti-Americanism is Pakistan is quite a bit different than that in Germany or South Korea.

    And here's today's Exhibit #1 to show how outright ignorance and/or deliberate propaganda about Islam is becoming mainstreamed in the U.S. The op-ed begins with a demonstrably false assertion and then builds on it. But looking at all the whoopin' support in the commentary section.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    And, personally, I think the anti-Americanism is Pakistan is quite a bit different than that in Germany or South Korea.
    Yes, it's much more intense - probably more intense than anywhere else in the world. However, I'd argue it will be much less so when the drone campaign eventually comes to an end and the American withdrawal from Afghanistan occurs - that is, once American policy stops impinging in the domestic Pakistani political sphere.

    Actions matter. Pakistani anti-Americanism was less intense prior to 2001. Indonesian anti-Americanism, OTOH, was arguably much higher. These things can be managed, just as we've been managing them since 1945. The 'clash of civilizations' is a silly construct. Cultures differ, but they aren't going to inevitably clash.

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Cultures differ, but they aren't going to inevitably clash.
    Huntington's argument is not that cultures inevitably clash because they are different. I'm re-reading the book now.

  7. #27
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I think you're both correct...

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    ...We've deluded ourselves into believing this is all a misunderstanding, and we can fix it if we just get our STRATCOMMs better organized.
    I'm unsure who "we" are but personally, I don't think most Americans subscribe to that. If you meant the Washington power structure; those are people who prove on an hourly basis that they are out of touch with virtually everyone except themselves. That means they are dangerously deluded -- but then, we knew that...
    And, personally, I think the anti-Americanism is Pakistan is quite a bit different than that in Germany or South Korea.
    Totally true but all three pose their own sets of problems due to their latent anti-Americanism and of the three, which could be potentially the more dangerous...

    Not to mention that the difference in functional dislikes is in part driven by those nation's own culture, in part by previous US actions and will possibly affect our future in quite different ways. The various dislikes will manifest themselves in both overt and less obvious ways -- as has already occurred in the latter two Nations you mention.
    ...The op-ed begins with a demonstrably false assertion and then builds on it. But looking at all the whoopin' support in the commentary section.
    Look also at the location of the Op-Ed and said comments. Just as the Center for Security Policy is a fringe element, so is that paper and so is the author of the Op-Ed. I think it was Entropy who wisely said "Never read the comment sections in Newspapers..."

    As you say, the fact that most Americans will virtually ignore all three is eclipsed by the fact that it plays into the arms of those anti-US types -- worldwide, to include here in this nation, and of all stripes -- yet, on balance, I agree with Tequila. Actually, I agree with him on both points and I agree with you; I suspect the actualities are somewhere in between, muddled, as is the American way.

    That's not okay in many aspects -- but I doubt much can be done about it.

    As Tequila said: "The 'clash of civilizations' is a silly construct. Cultures differ, but they aren't going to inevitably clash." Even though there are fringe elements on both sides of any potential conflict who actively want that clash, most people are really pretty pragmatic and do not...

    All that said, I agree with your premise on several counts:
    "Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Whatever the context of his statement, he might well have been commenting on current U.S. strategy..."
    Too true...
    Reality now calls. If a clash with Islam is inevitable, then current U.S. strategy is paralyzingly flawed. A new strategy must reflect the inherent antagonism.
    While I doubt that such a clash is inevitable, I do think our current policies -- they are not a strategy -- are not helpful and that they could bring about the very clash that we should wish to avoid.
    This would represent the greatest shift in American strategy since the emergence of the Cold War... Americans have ignored the fissures and dissonance in their global strategy for nearly a decade now. Now that time has passed. Dangerous times lie ahead.
    True on the first bit, though I'd say it's in excess of two decades...

    I strongly agree the time has past. We have literally frittered away 20 years and the fault -- it is emphatically a fault -- can be attributed to four successive US Administrations and to four SecDefs from Cheney forward (I give Rumsfeld a minor break because he got stuck in a war he did not want and Gates is not yet gone). Congress is equally responsible. As I said up top about the DC crowd; "That means they are dangerously deluded -- but then, we knew that..."

  8. #28
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I'm unsure who "we" are but personally, I don't think most Americans subscribe to that. If you meant the Washington power structure; those are people who prove on an hourly basis that they are out of touch with virtually everyone except themselves. That means they are dangerously deluded -- but then, we knew that...
    Personally I don't know too many Americans, whether "the Washington power structure" or the Sarah Palin crowd, who accept the idea that people in the Islamic world understand us pretty well, but just don't like us and what we stand for. There are dozens and dozens of official statements from both the Bush and Obama administration contending that "public diplomacy" will make for better understanding and less hostility. After nine years in which this hasn't happened, we cling to it.

    Just as the Center for Security Policy is a fringe element, so is that paper and so is the author of the Op-Ed. I think it was Entropy who wisely said "Never read the comment sections in Newspapers..."
    First of all, I don't think that's true. I'm a South Carolinian and I can tell you that Nugent's essay very much represents the majority perspective in much of "red" America. But in any case, when people in Pakistan read that essay, do you think they'll say, "Oh that's just a fringe publication, so we should disregard it"?

    As Tequila said: "The 'clash of civilizations' is a silly construct. Cultures differ, but they aren't going to inevitably clash." Even though there are fringe elements on both sides of any potential conflict who actively want that clash, most people are really pretty pragmatic and do not...
    I'd be happy to discuss the merits and shortcomings of Huntington's "clash of civilizations" theory but don't see much value in debating a caricature version of it.

  9. #29
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Question My, my. Was it something I said...

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Personally I don't know too many Americans, whether "the Washington power structure" or the Sarah Palin crowd, who accept the idea that people in the Islamic world understand us pretty well, but just don't like us and what we stand for.
    I guess it's all in who you meet and where. I don't know too many Americans who do not realize that most natives of other Nations do not understand us at all well -- and that includes their intelligentsia -- and that many in those nations do not like us for various reasons, valid and not. Nor do I meet, talk with or know many who do not accept that we are not well liked -- or who fret much about that fact.

    Most of them, unwashed though they be, seem to grasp that the 'Islamic' problem with us revolves around several factors, that we are at fault in some ways and agree that the cultural disconnects are pervasive and difficult to reconcile. However, they really aren't interested in us changing -- and they can do math...

    That means they wish there was no disconnect but aren't inclined to try to change the attitudes of others. That latter sort of effort seems to be a Beltway habitue shtick.
    There are dozens and dozens of official statements from both the Bush and Obama administration contending that "public diplomacy" will make for better understanding and less hostility. After nine years in which this hasn't happened, we cling to it.
    Apparently you missed the bit where I said I agreed with you -- and faulted several other Administrations...
    First of all, I don't think that's true. I'm a South Carolinian and I can tell you that Nugent's essay very much represents the majority perspective in much of "red" America.
    We can disagree on that, the definition of "much," I mean. I'm a Kentuckian, have lived all over the South, to include two years in Charleston and fishing in Lake Moultrie. I now live on the Redneck Riviera, just got back from a trip to Jawja. I know and talk to many people (including relatives all over the South *) who would certainly agree with the Nugent perspective. I know a good many more who would not (Including more of the above *). Also know a bunch who would and do withhold judgment due to inadequate information (including most of the above *). That's three thirds, two of 'em likely do not agree with or support the Gaffney / Nugent view.

    No way to tell, really, we're both stating our perceptions or opinions and should be able to do so without being disagreeable.
    But in any case, when people in Pakistan read that essay, do you think they'll say, "Oh that's just a fringe publication, so we should disregard it"?
    Uh, no -- that's why I said above:

    "As you say, the fact that most Americans will virtually ignore all three is eclipsed by the fact that it plays into the arms of those anti-US types -- worldwide, to include here in this nation, and of all stripes..."

    You seem to have missed the fact that I agree with you.
    I'd be happy to discuss the merits and shortcomings of Huntington's "clash of civilizations" theory but don't see much value in debating a caricature version of it.
    Huntington's Clash is IMO a caricature in itself. People are more complex than that and times change. I did not attack that book or idea on its or their merits, what I did say was: "While I doubt that such a clash is inevitable, I do think our current policies -- they are not a strategy -- are not helpful and that they could bring about the very clash that we should wish to avoid."

    I'd say have a nice day but you seem to have made other plans...

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    And my point was that the more democratic governments in the Islamic world become, the more anti-Americanism will influence their policies. Just compare Turkey's relationship to the U.S. today to its relationship under the military junta. Same with Pakistan.

    I believe that means that our best partners are going to be despots like Mubarak and the house of Saud. The more democracy grows, the less receptiveness to us.

    Is that a basis for a global strategy?
    Interesting observation, and while it probably shouldn't drive our strategy it should cool our jets on our effort to "push" democracy around the world.

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    Default Non violent resistance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The U.S. must restate the problem. The U.S. must take responsibility for the effects of its role in the Middle East over the past 60+ years. Once we have that cathartic moment, not unlike step one in 12-step program, we can begin to get better.
    Do you see this admission as being more for our own sake, or for the benefit of the people in the Middle East? If it is for us, then it makes sense... if it is for the folks in the Middle East, then I am not sure if it would be effective.

    I do agree that we should confess our sins as it were...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    We can employ our influence to encourage meaningful evolution of government where such is required (on local terms, not ours)

    We can become the champion of the oppressed people of these regions, standing on the principles contained within our Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights rather than more recent corruptions of that founding Ethos to justify our behavior. We can implement a form of "soft-UW" that encourages very effective non-violent approaches; over the violence offered by AQ. By out-competing AQ we render them moot. By attacking them we validate and strengthen them at the same time. (Like cutting up starfish and throwing them back in the ocean...it makes sense, but the actual effects are the opposite of those intended)

    Or, placed in the terminology of my community: We must put the Liber back in De Oppresso Liber.
    I agree on the non-violence. If you look at our own civil rights movement, you see many elements of a (mainly) non-violent insurgency that was relatively effective...

    Why have the Palestinians, Kashmiris, or others in the Middle East not attempted to use non-violent protests and methods?

    It looked to me like the Kashmiris were going in this direction a little while back... but the emphasis on throwing stones is closer to the intifada than to MLK or Gandhi.

    These techniques could rally world opinion to their causes... It seems like the Gaza relief flotilla folks definitely benefited from this sort of push.

    Do you think that these methods could be effective if used en masse? Certainly us training/encouraging such efforts would hopefully help... but would long-term benefits occur? Or will the people just vote to institute sharia once they have the power?

    It seems like we gave the Mujahideen a lot of help, and not all of ended up liking us afterwards...

    I'd be curious to here folks opinions on the viability of non-violent resistance in the Middle East.

    V/R,

    Cliff

  12. #32
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Democracy is a lot like sex...

    Quote Originally Posted by Global Scout View Post
    Interesting observation, and while it probably shouldn't drive our strategy it should cool our jets on our effort to "push" democracy around the world.
    Its great when its voluntary, but it's rape when one party forces it on another "for their own good" or otherwise.

    I remain a big proponent for self-determination. Besides, I have a theory that we really got away from promoting self-determination in the Cold War when so many populaces were self-determining that communism was the best way to throw off the heavy yoke of western colonialism. Our national ethos got in the way of our mission to contain the Soviets, so we compromised a little and changed our product to "democracy."

    Personally I think we should go back. You may not like what you get with self-determination, but at least it's never rape...
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  13. #33
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Cliff,

    If we encourage governments to dialog with their populace and be open to reasonable evolution with one hand, and encourage non-violent challenges of poor governance by oppressed populaces with the other, we can realign ourselves with our national ethos. Not the neutrality of a fan sitting in the bleachers watching, but rather the neutrality of an umpire on the field keeping things from getting out of hand as the competition plays out.

    To proclaim that U.S. interests and US values are "universal" as we do in our National Security Strategy though,blows me away. The hubris is off the chart, or maybe it's just ignorance, I don't know which. Glenn Beck has been ranting about how we are out to form a world government; I guess if you think everyone shares your interests and values, why not? Worrisome stuff, that. People need to chart their own path; extremes of behavior don't fare well in the light of day, and there are fewer and fewer dark corners in the globe every day.

    Our current doctrine for COIN presumes keeping the current government in power. I am no fan of regime change, but I think we approach the troubled states where AQ has so much sway more effectively when we do not just grant the government a guarantee that we will help them maintain the status quo. We become more effective when we don't take sides and don't project our interests and values onto others. To wage this kind of diplomacy is nothing that our "state" department is trained, organized or inclined to do. We need to tune our own government and policies up to be more effective in the emerging world, and then go out to engage it.

    Who knows, our greatest allies 20 years from now may well be states that have not yet formed, or governments that do not currently exist. They might not even be states at all. Now is not the time to attempt to rigidly enforce the past, but rather to develop a greater flexibility for embracing the future as it emerges around us.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    But in any case, when people in Pakistan read that essay, do you think they'll say, "Oh that's just a fringe publication, so we should disregard it"?
    But Steve, why does it matter so much whether or not the general cultural mood in Pakistan is anti-American? Surely we should take steps to reduce it if possible, but do general public perceptions really matter so much when it comes to foreign policy?

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    Default Picking the wrong horse...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    To proclaim that U.S. interests and US values are "universal" as we do in our National Security Strategy though,blows me away. The hubris is off the chart, or maybe it's just ignorance, I don't know which. Glenn Beck has been ranting about how we are out to form a world government; I guess if you think everyone shares your interests and values, why not? Worrisome stuff, that. People need to chart their own path; extremes of behavior don't fare well in the light of day, and there are fewer and fewer dark corners in the globe every day.
    I agree with this. One thing that has been interesting for me to see in CGSC is the degree to which we mirror image... even folks who have just come from working wonders COIN-wise in foreign cultures still have a hard time seeing things outside the "American" perspective- especially strategically.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Our current doctrine for COIN presumes keeping the current government in power. I am no fan of regime change, but I think we approach the troubled states where AQ has so much sway more effectively when we do not just grant the government a guarantee that we will help them maintain the status quo. We become more effective when we don't take sides and don't project our interests and values onto others. To wage this kind of diplomacy is nothing that our "state" department is trained, organized or inclined to do. We need to tune our own government and policies up to be more effective in the emerging world, and then go out to engage it.
    Definitely agree with this... Karzai being one good example, the current Iraqi political structure being another, and Pakistan being a potential third.

    The problem is, how do you prevent the replacement from being worse than the status quo?

    If you look at the trajectory of democratization and economic progress, the folks who developed economically first and politically second did better than those who tried the other route. South Korea is a great example of this... I think the economic part is probably the most important piece- you gain so much traction if people's lives are better.

    Is there a middle ground, where you can encourage change but not chaos? Seems like a tough balance. I think our current policies may be too hypocritical to work - it's great to be for liberty but that kind of seems false when you support dictatorships.

    I guess the other question is will anti-Americanism fade if people's economic and political conditions improve?

    V/R,

    Cliff

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    Default This should help...

    This will help our stratcomms for sure.

    The Texas Board of Education has passed a resolution to limit references to Islam in textbooks.

    V/R,

    Cliff

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    A correction of a post I made earlier in this thread: JFQ retracted its acceptance of the essay I pasted in here so I don't know where, if anywhere, it will be published.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Coming? It's already there...

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101007/...a_senate_angle

    LAS VEGAS – U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle told a crowd of supporters that the country needs to address a "militant terrorist situation" that has allowed Islamic religious law to take hold in some American cities....

  19. #39
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    In an era of whacked political candidates, Sharon Angle is the Empress of Whackiness. I believe the Nevada Senate race may offer the worst choices in the history of American politics.

    But, seriously, what is troubling is that there are enfranchised Americans who believe nonsense like that Angle spouts.

  20. #40
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default In Re: Steve

    Steve...
    Just an observation...
    You seem more disillusioned than usual of late...
    A less than spectacular fall season?
    Or are you a closet 49er fan?
    Hacksaw
    Say hello to my 2 x 4

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