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Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Sunday, 08 July 2007

Marco Polo (1254-1324) knew where the end of the world was.  He never went there but he heard about it.  It was a "great red island" in the vast unknown sea far to the south of India, and it had a strange name:  Madagascar.

Although near Africa, folks here - known as Malagasy - are not from Africa.  They came from Indonesia 2,000 years ago.  For a thousand years they lived in isolation from the world. Then strangers started appearing on their northern coast calling themselves "Moslems."

The Malagasy wanted no part of them or their strange and offensive religion.  Persians ("Shirazis" from Shiraz) and Arabs were sailing in their dhows down the east coast of Africa enslaving and Islamizing as they went.  But when they crossed the Mozambique Channel to Madagascar, they discovered people very different from Africans.

Arabs had found the islands of Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, etc.) easy Islamic pickings for converts.  Somehow, the converts' distant relatives weren't.  This is an important mystery.

Ever since they invented Islam, Arabs have forced their religion upon peoples throughout the world, most of the time with little or no resistance.  The exceptions are among people who have a competing religion like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.  It's very hard to think of any place without a strong competing religion already in place that resisted Islam.

Madagascar is that place.  That's one reason it is a light at the end of the world.
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FREEDOM’S BIRTHDAY 2007 Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Tuesday, 03 July 2007

[This was originally in To The Point for July 4, 2004. This is the version for 2007.  We at To The Point wish all of you an exceedingly happy Fourth of July.]

July 4th is Freedom's Birthday. My suggestion is, amidst the fireworks and barbeques and flag-waving fun - all of which are great - that you take the time to feel good about America.

You travel around the world and you see the remnants of history's great civilizations. You walk through the preserved wreckage of Rome's Imperial Forum or the Acropolis of Ancient Athens and you wonder -- what was it really like to be here when these civilizations were at their peak? You can do that today in Washington DC -- or your hometown.

We Americans are privileged to live in one of history's supreme moments. We Americans are participants in one of history's greatest civilizations in its prime.

Someday in some future epoch, history will have moved on, and there will be distant centuries between that time and the American Era. People will then look upon America as we do upon ancient Egypt or Greece, and will do so with same wonder and awe.

I suggest you look upon America with that wonder and awe now.

Written by Lawrence Mead   
Tuesday, 03 July 2007

[In celebration of the Fourth of July, To The Point is pleased to provide this transcript of a lecture given by Dr. Lawrence Mead, Professor of Politics at New York University, delivered in Sydney, Australia on July 1st]

To read the newspapers, one would believe US power was in steep decline. There are prophets of error, the many critics who believe US foreign policy has gone seriously wrong, especially in Iraq.

And there are prophets of weakness, such as Yale historian Paul Kennedy, who wrote even before the end of the Cold War that the US had succumbed to "imperial overstretch". How much more are we overstretched today when we face crises in three or four places across the globe?

I am skeptical about these arguments. The great fact is that the US has become a dominant nation. Even if the US fails in Iraq, there still is no other country that can replace the US in dealing with the world's problems.

We have in fact returned to a world order similar to the late Victorian period, at the end of the 19th century. Then, as now, the world economy was globalizing and English was its lingua franca. Britain was the strongest single country and the US was just becoming a world power.

Today, the US is first and Britain is second, but remarkably little else has changed. It is as if the 20th century, with its calamitous wars and ideological conflict, has faded away. The countries that challenged the Anglos - first Germany, then Russia, then Japan - have all fallen back. The US's challengers, such as China and India, are likely to fall back as well.

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Written by Jack Kelly   
Wednesday, 04 July 2007

"Scooter" Libby will serve as much time in prison for lying under oath to a federal grand jury as Bill Clinton served for lying under oath to a federal grand jury.

Democrats in Congress were outraged.  "As Independence Day nears, we are reminded that one of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under law," said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York.  "This commutation completely tramples on that principle."  

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said President Bush should be impeached for "crimes against the Constitution of the United States."

That's rich, as in Marc Rich, the financier who fled the country to avoid prosecution for tax evasion, fraud and "trading with the enemy."  On his last day in office, President Clinton pardoned Mr. Rich after his ex-wife, Denise (with whom Mr. Clinton reportedly had been sleeping) donated $1 million to the Democratic party and $10,000 to the Clintons' legal defense fund.

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Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Sunday, 01 July 2007

This is sad tidings.  When I returned from the Serengeti, I learned that on Friday, June 22, Dennis Turner, my friend of over 40 years and author of TTP's Dennis The Wizard column, passed away.

Dennis had been in horrible pain and suffering for so long that his passing was likely a blessing.  He never mentioned it in his columns, and how he wrote them in spite of it was heroic. 

Some years ago, he contracted an infection in his spine which caused a progressive deterioration of his spinal nerves.  He lost the use of his legs, and then all the functions of his digestive system. 

Few of us can even imagine what it is to try and continue living like that.  Yet Dennis did.  He persevered, maintaining a wide range of interests and a dense network of friends.  He never lost his intense intellectual curiosity and passion for life.
His was a mind apart.  Not surprising -- for he was a six-foot-two, 280-pound Mongolian Jew with an IQ of 180. 

Written by Dr. Joel Wade   
Sunday, 01 July 2007

I have written before in WHAT MAKES A GOOD SOCIETY about the importance of social capital - the capacity to trust one's neighbors, one's community, and one's culture, and the kind of involvement in one's community that helps to build and sustain that trust and the relationships it is built on.

While in the United States most other measures of happiness have increased tremendously over the past several decades, social capital has not. A new study may help to explain why.
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Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Friday, 29 June 2007

Maseru, Lesotho, Southern Africa
My son Jackson and I arrived here in a snow storm.  It soon became a raging blizzard.  Inches of snow, accidents all over the place, for most people here (they all belong to a tribe called Basotho) have never seen snow, much less know how to drive in it.

An African blizzard may seem a joke, but that southern Africa is suffering through one of its coldest winters isn't.  (Remember that it's winter now below the Equator.)

It's just another one of the blizzard of problems that a place like Lesotho (luh-soo-too) is enduring, none of which is a laughing matter. In fact, There's no way around it, for Lesotho's fate is baked in the demographic cake.  Lesotho is doomed.  The real African Blizzard is going to sweep it away.

What a tragedy - for it had such a heroic start in the 19th century...

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Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 28 June 2007

You disappear into the African bush for over two weeks, only to emerge back into the world to discover everything's the same. 

Bush is still commiserating over the dead horse of the immigration, people with 2-digit IQs are still paying attention to Paris Hilton, Palestinians are still killing each other in Gaza, Moslems are rioting around the world over some perceived insult to their religion of intolerance (in this case, the knighting of Salmon Rushdie by Queen Elizabeth), and good news from Iraq is not being reported.

What really got my attention, though, was a news bulletin from Cologne, Germany.

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Written by Richard Rahn   
Wednesday, 27 June 2007

If you were a member of the U.S. Congress and you wanted to hand a victory to Fidel Castro, his buddy Hugo Chavez, and the international drug gangs, you could do so by voting to reject the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement.

And that is precisely what the Democrat leaders of Congress threaten to do.

After the truly heroic achievements of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in weakening drug lords and corrupt officials, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and some of her colleagues were downright rude to him during his trip to Washington last month, with their demands for more. Yet Mr. Uribe and his colleagues are under constant death threats for their efforts (Mr. Uribe's own father was assassinated by the left-wing terrorists).

How many of Mrs. Pelosi's tribe do you think would have taken the physical risks and have been as effective as Mr. Uribe? Regarding corruption in Mr. Uribe's own ranks, as far as I know, no Colombian member of parliament has been caught with $90,000 of someone else's money in his freezer.

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Written by Jack Kelly   
Wednesday, 27 June 2007

PBS is the beau ideal of many liberals when it comes to free speech.  Their point of view is subsidized by the taxpayers.  Other points of view are suppressed.

Now in yet another triumph for the liberal view of free speech (free for me but not for thee), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled city officials may override the First Amendment if the exercise of free speech by some city employees offends the delicate sensibilities of liberals.

Liberal intolerance of other than liberal opinions is behind efforts to reinstate the inaptly named "Fairness Doctrine" in radio.

I see this every day at the very liberal newspaper where I work.  Conservatives often write angry letters to the editor, criticizing the arguments made in an editorial, or what they perceive as the slant in a news story.  Liberals unhappy with my columns often demand that I be fired.  They object not just to my point of view, but to the fact that it was expressed. 

To paraphrase Napoleon...

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Written by Tony Blankley   
Wednesday, 27 June 2007

The word Iraq seems to derange the minds of almost all who contemplate it. Like other famous vexations in history - Carthage for the Romans, Germany for the French, the Irish for the English (and, of course, the English for the Irish) - Iraq induces in the current American mind the full range of mentalities except reason.

Come September, not only Gen. David Petraeus, but many other designated experts, will deliver their report cards on Iraqi progress - or lack of it. Now, two months out, serious huffing and puffing is already building up inside Washington.

Let me save you the bother of waiting for the September deluge of reports from the four corners of our government. Come September it will be the received wisdom of Washington that we need to figure a way to weasel out of Iraq.

That is fine, if losing in Iraq doesn't matter much. But if losing in Iraq does matter a lot, then it is mad to use diagnoses of our current shortcomings as a death sentence, rather than as a guide to better treatment methods.

It's like this conversation.  Doctor: "You have a high fever and infection. You're going to die."  Patient: "How about giving me some penicillin?"  Doctor: "I don't have any." Patient: "Could you get some?"  Doctor: "It would be quite a bother."  Patient: "Oh, in that case you are right to let me die."

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OUT OF AFRICA Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Saturday, 23 June 2007

Sleeping in a tent with a half million wildebeest nearby on the short grass plains of Africa's Serengeti is like sleeping next to an eight-lane freeway at rush hour - with all the cars honking their horns.

The incessant snorts and grunts of the vast herds vibrate the leaves off the trees which fall like rain on the tent.  They are punctuated by the whistling barks of thousands of zebras, and interrupted by the cackling cry of hyenas on a kill.  One hyena pack's cries are so close they must be less than 100 feet away.

In the short breaks of silence when the hyenas cease and the wildebeest resume, there are lions coughing in the distance.

With the coming of dawn, things quiet down.  The wildebeest and zebras emerge out of the relative safety of the trees where we are camped and onto the plains the Masai call endless - for that is what Serengeti means in their tribal language, "endless plains."

I have had no contact with the outside world now for going on two weeks.  Not a single phone call or email, not a newspaper or short-wave radio.  I'll be posting this once I reach the town of Arusha, which is the jumping-off spot for safaris to the Serengeti, but as of now I haven't the faintest idea of what's been happening in the world.

The world seems very far away from where I am writing this, on the veranda of my tent with a plain of endless grass spread before me, countless black dots of munching wildebeest covering the dark green all the way to the horizon.
It seems a perfect place to discuss just how we all got out of Africa and into that far away world so long ago - for it is an astounding and fascinating story.

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Written by Dr. Joel Wade   
Sunday, 24 June 2007

In past columns I have referred to what is called in Positive Psychology the "Set Point Theory." This states that each of us appears to have a set range of happiness, or subjective well being.

The research seems to show that we tend to adapt rather quickly to either big positive events such as winning the lottery, or big negative events such as spinal cord injury, so that we return to our previous range or set point of happiness.

A rigid adherence to this theory could lead a person to some degree of complacency. After all, if I have a set range that is not particularly affected over time by either tragedy or great good fortune, then I might as well just settle in to whatever life happens to bring my way. Doesn't much matter, anyway, right?


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Written by Jack Kelly   
Friday, 22 June 2007

Imagine it's June 7, 1944, the day after the D-Day invasion.  You pick up your newspaper.  There's no mention of Normandy on the front page, and only a brief reference to it in a roundup story on an inside page.

The biggest battle since the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime is under way in Iraq.  Its outcome could determine whether the war is won or lost.  But our news media have paid less attention to it than to Paris Hilton's legal troubles.

The heart of the offensive is Operation Arrowhead Ripper, in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, involving some 8,000 American and 2,000 Iraqi troops.
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Written by Tibor Machan   
Friday, 22 June 2007

Michael Moore's new docutribe Sicko is set to unleash a torrent of disinformation about the U.S. health care system that will play into the hands of those who wish to turn our entire health care industry over to government bureaucrats.

However, we're firing back with a new internet movie that attacks one of the central premises of his propaganda: that 45 million Americans have no health insurance - and no access to health care. Uninsured in America is a new 9-minute film which examines the facts behind the oft-repeated cries of an "uninsured crisis".
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