Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mayor Livingstone I Presume

Last week, Mayor Ken Livingstone of London received a suspension by the Board of Standards from his mayoralty for egregiously insulting a Jewish journalist, Oliver Feingold, by comparing him to a a concentration guard even after he learned the man was Jewish. Since the suspension there has been a ruckus in the press, with people commenting in various directions, with some of them deploring Livingstone's speech, but also deploring the legal action that suspended him from his job for four weeks as a breach of free speech.

Andrew Sullivan, for example, with typical over-exuberance, went so far as to call this a case of "Sharia law from the Jewish lobby in England". A charge which Melanie Phillips demolishes.

Today, by the way, the suspension was blocked by the UK High Court while Livingstone mounts a legal challenge. And in typical fashion, turns the complaint back against the Board of Deputies of British Jews, accusing them of using "the tactic of McCarthyism" to silence his criticism of Israel.

Ah, so it turns out, this is all about Israel. Heh! It's another Zionist plot! And it's not about the Mayor's public behavior at all, which was extensively covered in the Press and which he could have handled at any point by issuing a perfunctory and meaningless apology. Which is the typical way these minor scandals are dealt with by public officials who want them to go away.

Norm Geras hosts Shalom Lappin responding to the flap that has arisen in the wake of Livingstone's suspension, by reminding us of some of the facts of the matter.
[Livingstone's] comment to Oliver Feingold may have been an ill-considered act, but the manner in which he dealt with the reaction to it was not. Livingstone's subsequent conduct was an integral part of a cynical campaign of divisive ethnic politics that he has been pursuing for electoral advantage.

The current defence of his insult as legitimate if offensive political expression indicates a general refusal to take seriously the deeply racist nature of his political strategy. He systematically provokes Jews in order to curry favour with a variety of political and religious constituencies. Interestingly, he incurs no serious political damage for this policy. While one can agree that it is unacceptable for an unelected administrative committee to suspend an elected official for a non-criminal act, this does not conclude the matter. Where is the general public opprobrium that one would expect as a corrective to such behaviour in a genuinely liberal society? Its absence suggests that for a large part of British public opinion this behaviour is entirely acceptable and offers no cause for alarm.

David T at Harry's Place points out in The Boy Who Called 'Zionist' that Livingstone and 'the Zionist plot' meme is old news.

Also of interest at Norm Geras' site, something I meant to post about last week, is Norm himself debating with Canon Paul Oestreicher about sanctions and boycotts against Israel imposed by the Anglican Church on the BBC World Service programme 'People and Politics'.

Norm is too modest to tell us, but he wipes the floor with the Canon, who is caught at one moment providing more than tacit justification for Palestinian suicide bombers against Israel, and when out doing this, piously proclaims himself a pacifist.

Well worth a laugh.

UPDATE: Heh, I just read in the comments at Harry's Place that Livingstone did exactly the same thing. Provide tacit support and understanding for suicide bombing at one moment, and when confronted, piously proclaim himself a pacifist.

This meme about virtuous pacifism from Canon Oestreicher and Red Ken is interesting in light of the fact that just such an ideology was encouraged by the Communists as a way to fight against free, capitalist societies, to undermine them from within.

For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.

When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to ... understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.
It's a matter of bitter irony that the ideological framework set up to destroy the freedoms of the West by the Communists are now being equally well exploited by the Moslems.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sleeper was Right!

Cocoa 'cuts heart disease risk'

Dutch scientists found elderly men who consumed cocoa had lower blood pressure levels, and were less likely to die from cardiovascular problems.

They say cocoa contains ingredients which may keep the circulatory system healthy in different ways.


Cocoa contains chemicals called flavan-3-oils, which have been linked to lower blood pressure and improved function of the cells lining the blood vessels.

But the Dutch team believes the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease may be down to the fact that cocoa is also a rich source of antioxidants.

These substances are able to limit the tissue damage caused by highly reactive chemicals called free radicals, which are released by the body's energy-producing processes.
I was just off to have some chai tea, but maybe I'll have some cocoa instead!

So, coffee and cocoa are good for you! And contain many anti-oxidants! Heh!

Confabulating Once Again about Cheney

So Cheney is going to retire in a year, after the midterm elections, reports Insight magazine, quoting "Senior GOP sources". Which is nicely anonymous and means absolutely nothing. It could be senior GOP sources from previous administrations, who are not in tune with this administrations policies and engaging in some wishful thinking that they hope becomes prognostic.

In any case, I'll believe it when I see it. Because there's been a spate of such reporting in recent months. A great deal of it from Thomas DeFrank, Washington Bureau Chief of the New York Daily News, who has recently taken to being a regular-ish guest on Hardball, where such views and political wisdom is very welcome, indeed! So far, not a whit of what I have read has come true.

RCP commented on the phenomenon some months ago here. And I commented on it previously here.

In related news, verging on self-parody, Katharine Seelye of the NYTimes reports on the tense atmosphere that reigns during televised White House Press Briefings. And ends up suggesting that reporters reacted in the ridiculous, overblown manner that they did last week to the story of the Cheney hunting accident because they were feeling their own pain.
Renana Brooks, a clinical psychologist practicing in Washington who said she had counseled several White House correspondents, said the last few years had given rise to "White House reporter syndrome," in which competitive high achievers feel restricted and controlled and become emotionally isolated from others who are not steeped in the same experience.

She said the syndrome was evident in the Cheney case, which she described as an inconsequential event that produced an outsize feeding frenzy. She said some reporters used the occasion to compensate for not having pressed harder before the Iraq war.

"It's like any post-traumatic stress," she said, "like when someone dies and you think you could have saved them."

The fact that the article points out that Renana Brooks has counseled several White House reporters, seems to answer the tacit question: how it is that she became the "expert" on this matter. One wonders if she is Katharine Seelye's therapist, or only that of her friends.

Full disclosure. I used to be quite friendly with Renana Brooks while we were both in graduate school, though I haven't seen her now in over a decade. And while I obviously regard Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a serious syndrome, to suggest that the recent bad behavior of the majority liberal press corps results from it - because if only they had asked harder questions about it, they could have prevented the Iraq War - strikes me as a very silly non-sequitor. Moreover, it is now out of date, since evidence based on more recent documentation from Iraq is now slowly accumulating that Saddam indeed possessed WMD, that were moved to Syria (or Lebanon). We've reported on some of that here and here is another such report.

There's a much easier explanation. The reporters don't like Cheney, because Cheney has never demonstrated any particular deference to them or their ilk. And they feel entitled to that official nod of respect since they are the self appointed "gatekeepers" of information. Moreover, they don't like his policies, since they disagree with them - and feel disenfranchised since the party that represented their views has now been twice out of office.

All of these feelings are quite normal in a democracy when the party you dislike is in office.

Leave it to the Democrats to only take this "phenomenon" seriously enough to turn it into a syndrome when it happens to them.

Plame's Status - Covert, Classified, or Not - Is Unimportant

Or so claims Patrick Fitzgerald, the CIA Leak Prosector, currently prosecuting Lewis Libby.
CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald argued at a hearing Friday that, as far as the perjury charges against former Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby are concerned, it does not matter whether or not Valerie Wilson was a covert CIA agent when she was mentioned in the famous Robert Novak column of July 14, 2003. "We're trying a perjury case," Fitzgerald told Judge Reggie Walton. Even if Plame had never worked for the CIA at all, Fitzgerald continued — even if she had been simply mistaken for a CIA agent — the charges against Libby would still stand. In addition, Fitzgerald said, he does not intend to offer "any proof of actual damage" caused by the disclosure of Wilson's identity.

Fitzgerald's comments mark the evolution of the CIA leak case from a matter in which Fitzgerald investigated allegations that members of the Bush administration outed covert agent Wilson as part of a plot to discredit her husband, Joseph Wilson — an alleged act about which Fitzgerald once said, "the damage wasn't to one person. It wasn't just Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us" — into a case in which Valerie Wilson's job status and any damage done by the disclosure of her identity have become irrelevant, at least in Fitzgerald's view.
Uh huh. Of course, if her status was that irrelevant, there was absolutely no need to have a special prosecutor investigating it in the first place.

It turns out Fitzgerald also does not intend to give up the original referral sent by the CIA to the Justice Department after the publication of the Novak column, pleading that it is not discoverable because it is "classified".

I guess the classification in that case is still relevant.

Tom Maguire of JustOneMinute offers more prognosticating on this development.
The gist - a non-White House senior official leaked the Plame story to Bob Woodward in June, and (quite probably) Bob Novak in July; the source admitted to the Noval leak but only testified to the Woodward leak in November 2005. However, he lacked criminal intent, or was not part of a sinister conspiracy, or something, because Fitzgerald is apparently not pursuing him.

Libby, on the other hand, mentioned Plame to Judy Miller, discussed the Wilson trip but not Ms. Plame with Tim Russert, and responded with something like, "I heard that, too" when Matt Cooper ran the Plame story by him (per the reporter's versions).

Does this make Libby a criminal conspirator, or a criminal leaker? Not yet - he hasn't been indicted for that. However, per Fitzgerald he lied about his conversations with three reporters, and, as Fitzgerald explained in his press conference, he is guilty of something, so away we go.

Just what Libby is guilty of that Mr. Clean of the non-White House is not guilty of eludes me presently, but I assume all will come clear in the fullness of time.

Meanwhile, the FBI-DoJ probe to discover who leaked the intelligence that actually hurt National Security is ongoing, and appears to be focused "on the staffs of two Senators, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Sen. Dick Durbin, as well as committee staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee and career intelligence staff detailed to U.S. Senate offices and committees."

Macsmind has been pointing at this development for a while now.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The NYTimes, Other Journalists Anti-Semitic?

U.S. journalists urged to apologize to Jews

More than 70 leading American journalists sign petition urging Newspaper Association of America to acknowledge failure of U.S. journalists to aid Jewish refugee journalists trying to flee Nazi regime in 1930s.

More than 70 of the United States' leading journalists signed a petition urging the Newspaper Association of America to apologize for failing to aid Jewish journalists who escaped the Nazi regime at the end of the 1930s.

The journalists based their petition on a study conducted by Laurel Leff, a journalist professor from Northeastern University and author of the book "Buried By The Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper," in which she studied the New York Times' coverage of the Holocaust.

In her research, Leff described how American journalists, professors and newspaper publishers refused to aid Jewish journalists fleeing Germany's Nazi regime. As opposed to doctors and lawyers, who established committees in a bid to assist their oppressed colleagues, Jewish journalists from Europe were ignored.
They're not anti-semitic. Why, if they had helped the Jews fleeing Nazi regimes, it would have made them look biased.

Instead, this balanced reaction makes them historically objective. Or maybe just objectionable.

The petition already has some heavy hitting signatories, including Nicholas Lemann, Leon Wieseltier and Marvin Kalb. Considering, though, that the NYTimes still has not returned Walter Duranty's Pulitzer for covering up the truth from the American public during the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933 in the Soviet Union on ideological grounds (because he wanted to make communism look successful), I doubt very much that the NYTimes will admit anything this - true.

Good for Sasha Cohen for Winning Silver


That is, since she didn't hit gold. She may have screwed up two jumps in the long program, but I thought her artistry was fantastic, the best by far. The Times seems to disdain her. Typically, I disdain the Times.

And did anyone else notice she was wearing one of those red bracelet thingies. I wonder in her case whether it is a kabbalah bracelet or from Kever Rachel. (There is a tradition that women wear red string around their wrist that was once wrapped around the grave of Rachel - one of the Holy Sites of Israel, now in Bethlehem. Typically this was for marriage and fertility - but hey winning an Olympic medal might have a causative effect in that direction, indirectly. Well you never know. I haven't figured out why the kabbalah people wear them though.

And by way of Blackfive we learn she has adopted a soldier via Soldiers' Angels. And considers Soldiers' Angels one of her favorite charities.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Kosher Bigamy - Rabbinic Style - Blessed on High

How is this for a headline: Son of Jerusalem Rabbinic Court head remarries - without a get

It turns out, with the right rabbinic family connections in Israel, you can marry a second wife in Los Angeles before the divorce with the second one is concluded.

By their deeds shall you know them (Matthew 7:16) Or, in other words, perhaps a llttle Temple cleaning might be a good thing right now, unless trading on familial relations is supposed to earn you special halachic privileges in the rabbinic courts.

"This is a genuine case of bigamy," says Rabbi Yigal Krispin, the bureau chief of Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, speaking for the chief rabbi. "According to Jewish law, in the event of a permit to marry a second wife, the wife must be given an unconditional get. Krispin said such permits are mostly given in cases where the woman has been unable to receive a get, due to her medical or emotional condition. "Rabbi Amar is opposed to any permit to marry a second wife, except in rare cases. According to the laws of the State of Israel, a permit to marry a second wife in a case like this would not have been accepted," says Krispin.

The case in question may have occurred far from here, in Los Angeles, but the involvement of rabbinical figures and judges from here makes it relevant to Israel. The groom's father, Ezra Batzri, is the av beit din (president) of the Jerusalem Rabbinic Court, on whose rulings numerous women depend. Hagay's brother, Rabbi Moshe Batzri, who has submitted his candidacy to the selection committee for dayanim (religious court judges) and who expects to be appointed a dayan in the near future, performed the ceremony...

The support of figures in the Israeli rabbinic establishment, some quietly and some openly, for the second-wife marriage permit without the granting of a get to the first wife - against Jewish law - hints at the forgiving nature with which rabbis and dayanim in Israel relate to refusal to grant a get and the blackmailing of husbands.

In fact, as dayanim go, Rabbi Batzri is considered sensitive when it comes to redressing the suffering of women. Halperin-Kaddari asks, how can he be a party to such a terrible injustice, when the matter concerns his own family?

This is just treating the law as a vehicle to do what you will. In this case, Hagay Batzri wanted to remarry without arranging for an equitable property settlement and his father, and his father's powerful connections accomodated him.

The Asymptote of Disaster in Iraq

Mosque Attack Pushes Iraq Toward Civil War Approaching Disaster in Iraq


Insurgents posing as police destroyed the golden dome of one of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines Wednesday, setting off an unprecendented spasm of sectarian violence. Angry crowds thronged the streets, militiamen attacked Sunni mosques, and at least 19 people were killed.

The raid was led by a group of men dressed like Iraqi police commandos in an attempt to begin a civil war in Iraq. The most likely suspect is Al Zarqawi. Bill Roggio has more analysis here.

Despite the fact that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani sent instructions to his followers forbidding attacks on Sunni mosques and seven days of mourning, I personally am finding this is the most worrying development since the battle of Falluja. And Iraq the Model is reporting on the undeclared emergency around Baghdad and the country.

This might be the painful spur needed to get the country more functional.

On the other hand, it made me start thinking more seriously about the option of partitioning of Iraq into three parts. Depending on what happens in the next while in Iraq, it may come to that. And I suppose that option might also prove workable, as it did after some bloody wars, in Yugoslavia. Or not.

Could you imagine what would have happened if Jews had taken out the dome of Dome of the Rock? Remember that plan to do just that back in the 80s by a couple of fanatics. Didn't that include Rabbi Moshe Levenger's son?

UPDATE: BBC is reporting 50 bodies recovered in overnight violence, including 3 journalists.

The Telegraph is reporting up to 60 Sunni Mosques have been targeted in reprisal raids.

I wonder how this fits into Ahmadinejad's belief in the imminent apocalyse. A helping or a hindering development ?
And of course Ahmadinejad pronounces: it's all the fault of the Great Satanist Americans and those evil Zionists.

His brain chemistry seems to be wired on only one trajectory. Must get kind of boring in there for those neurons.

Iraq the Model reports on the extrended curfew in Baghdad.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A Teapot and A Broom

So does anyone understand curling? How does the scoring work? What are you supposed to do? Why would you ever play it? What's the point?

Though those full layout shots as they are setting up and releasing the, um, large puck thingees are pretty impressive, aesthetically speaking.

I heard someone on Imus, I think, joking around about it - the wives sending out their husbands to play in the snow with a teapot and a broom because that's all they could afford. And curling is the sport they came up with. There's a certain resonance there...

Stephen Holden Reviews Sophie Scholl

The New York Times Never Fails To Disappoint

Ten days ago, I pointed to the trailer of Sophie Scholl, this year's German nominee for best foreign film, as a movie that looked compelling. It's the story of a young German idealist with the courage to dissent under Hitler's regime, a crime for which she paid with her life. Acts which took extraordinary, exemplary courage in the worst of worlds.

So this morning for reasons no longer apparent to me, I thought, what the heck. I'll look at the NYTimes online. And when I saw the little thumbnail for Sophie Scholl, curious, I opened the review.

This is the opening paragraph:
"Sophie Scholl: The Final Days" conveys what it must have been like to be a young, smart, idealistic dissenter in Nazi Germany, where no dissent was tolerated. This gripping true story, directed in a cool, semi-documentary style by the German filmmaker Marc Rothemund from a screenplay by Fred Breinersdorfer, challenges you to gauge your own courage and strength of character should you find yourself in similar circumstances. Would you risk your life the way Sophie Scholl (Julia Jentsch) and a tiny group of fellow students at Munich University did to spread antigovernment leaflets? How would you behave during the kind of relentless interrogations that Sophie endures? If sentenced to death for your activities, would you still consider your resistance to have been worth it? In a climate of national debate in the United States about the overriding of certain civil liberties to fight terrorism, the movie looks back on a worst possible scenario in which such liberties were taken away. It raises an unspoken question: could it happen here?
Oh, good to know that Stephen Holden identifies immediately with the heroine. He is a young (well actually I don't know how old he is), smart, idealistic dissenter in Bush's Nazi America. The story of her time is also the story of his. For obviously the question of whether he would dissent at the cost of his life in this neo-Nazi Con regime has occurred to him frequently. Does he have as much courage as Sophie??? Because obviously, the Hitler regime might make another appearance here.

The question of courage seems to be much on Democrat's minds these days. There are two obvious rejoinders to this: the Democrat's really feel they are living in a proto-Nazi regime and think they better keep on testing their internal fortitude. The insanity, lack of perspective and ahistoricity of that one pretty much speaks for itself.

And the other one is that many of their positions don't appear on the face to be particularly brave. So they need to keep wondering about their own level of courage as they give up the fight on so many fronts.

It is with this question in mind that we turn now to those brave dissenters who work in the entertainment industry who recently have remarked publicly on their own courage: George Clooney and Steven Spielberg.

How do I know they are brave?

Why, Steven and George told me they were.

They, too, dare to be dissenters in Bush's Amerika. From a recent Newsweek interview:
CLOONEY: From the end of the first wave of the civil-rights movement, all the way through Watergate, people were constantly talking about what was going on in the country. Now it seems that's happening again. You can sit in a room and have people talk about politics—in Los Angeles, of all places.

LEE: There seems to be a collective social consciousness.

SPIELBERG: I think we all have been given our marching orders ... Maybe I shouldn't get into this. [Pause] I just feel that filmmakers are much more proactive since the second Bush administration. I think that everybody is trying to declare their independence and state their case for the things that we believe in. No one is really representing us, so we're now representing our own feelings, and we're trying to strike back.

So Bush has been good for film?

SPIELBERG: I wouldn't just say Bush. The whole neo-conservative movement.

CLOONEY: Because it's polarizing. I'm not going to sit up and say, "This is how you should think." But let's at least acknowledge that there should be an open debate, and not be told that it's unpatriotic to ask questions.
And to think, they might suffer by being excoriated in the press. Or by making less money. That's some courage they're displaying.

Or as Mark Steyn points out about George Clooney:

"We jumped in on our own," [Clooney] said, discussing Good Night, and Good Luck with Entertainment Weekly. "And there was no reason to think it was going to get any easier. But people in Hollywood do seem to be getting more comfortable with making these sorts of movies now. People are becoming braver."

Wow. He was brave enough to make a movie about Islam's treatment of women? Oh, no, wait. That was the Dutch director Theo van Gogh: He had his throat cut and half-a-dozen bullets pumped into him by an enraged Muslim who left an explanatory note pinned to the dagger he stuck in his chest. At last year's Oscars, the Hollywood crowd were too busy championing the "right to dissent" in the Bushitler tyranny to find room even to namecheck Mr. van Gogh in the montage of the deceased. Bad karma. Good night, and good luck.

No, Mr. Clooney was the fellow "brave" enough to make a movie about — cue drumroll as I open the envelope for Most Predictable Direction — the McCarthy era!
Hollywood prefers to make “controversial” films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won. Go back to USA Today’s approving list of Hollywood’s willingness to “broach the tough issues”: “Brokeback and Capote for their portrayal of gay characters; Crash for its examination of racial tension . . .” That might have been “bold” “courageous” movie-making half-a-century ago...

And, just as Transamerica’s allegedly unconventional woman is a perfectly conventional woman underneath, so the entire slate of Oscar nominees is, in a broader sense, a phalanx of Felicity Huffmans. That’s to say, they’re dressing up daringly and flouncing around as controversy, but underneath they’re simply the conventional wisdom. Indeed, “Transamerica” would make a good name for Hollywood’s view of its domestic market — a bizarro United States run by racists and homophobes and a poodle media in thrall to the administration.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Just another reason to admire William Hague - my favorite British politician.

There was a packed house in Parliament today when William Hague faced his old adversary Tony Blair over the dispatch box for the first time since resigning as Tory leader in 2001.

An accomplished debater since his teenage years, Mr Hague used to look forward to the regular Commons duel of Prime Minister's Questions, when he often succeeded in scoring points against Mr Blair.

Tory backbenchers relished those battles, roaring their approval, stamping their feet and waving their order papers when their young champion wrongfooted the Labour leader again.

"It was always like the Glasgow Empire on a Saturday night when Hague and Blair were at it hammer and tongs," one Tory said before today's encounter. "I'm looking forward to the show."

Mr Hague's secret, it is claimed, was to confuse Mr Blair by combining several subjects in one question, with key words at the beginning and end of the alphabet. This meant that the Prime Minister had to scrabble through his alphabetical briefing notes, from one end to the other and back again, leaving him no time to formulate a sensible answer...

Today Mr Hague was back, standing in for the new Tory leader David Cameron, who is away on paternity leave. Rising to his feet to a House of Commons audience so full that MPs stood packed together in the aisles, Mr Hague swiftly proved that he had not lost his mastery of the arcane skill of rolling the Prime Minister a googly.

"It's probably the first time in history at Question Time that all three parties have been represented by a stand-in for the real leader," he remarked by way of an introduction.
That's a sly reference to Tony Blair's promise to resign in favor of Gordon Brown any time now. I actually, by chance, caught a few moments of this on C-SPAN early Wednesday morning. Wish I'd seen Hague's opening line.

Hague is due in the US today to lead the Tory rapprochement with the White House. Michael Howard's convenient attacks on the Iraq War and Blair created a rift between the Tory party and the White House while he was head of the Tory party. Now, with a "compassionate conservative," pro Iraq Tory heading the party, the moment is ripe to close the rift.

I doubt this difference will signify while the widely admired Blair remains in office. But when he is replaced by Old Labour Gordon Brown, I think the natural alliance between the Republicans and the Tories will reform.
There is a long tradition of British Conservatives coming to America to glean political tactics and ideas. William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, the influential neo-conservative magazine, said the Tories might be pleasantly surprised to find this time it would be a "two-way exchange."

He added: "The Republicans are in a rough patch and need some fresh thoughts. They have in common a need for new thinking especially in domestic policy. It is not as if conservatives are agreed on what the solution is. There is a fair amount of interest in what the Tories are doing."

Red Grapefuit Lowers Bad Cholesterol Significantly

Eating grapefruit (especially the red variety) or drinking its juice daily can significantly minimize "bad cholesterol" (low-density lipoprotein or LDL) and triglycerides that are major factors in cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in an online edition of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
I just happen to like red grapefruit. It's nice to know it serves a useful function, too. Though, as news of "studies" goes, it isn't quite as exciting as discovering that coffee was really, really high in antioxidants!

Time Waster

Things You Learn from Reading The Huffington Post:

Apparently, not only was Cheney, um, dead drunk when he shot Whittington last Saturday - that appears to be the Democrat legal conventional wisdom at the moment - but he and Whittington were having a shooting tryst with women they were not married to - implication: their mistresses. Which makes him quite as contemptible as - um, Democrats - like Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy.

And somehow a born again evangelist has played a role in something - his presence alone indicates - don'tcha know - more clearly than anything else just how far into evil Cheney has already descended.

Frankly, I'd rather play with the Red Square. Hey! I got up to 14.935 seconds on my first try today. Not quite "brilliant" - that's 18 seconds - but close.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Is ABC News Experiencing a Growing Spurt in an Essential anatomical region?

According to Drudge, ABCNEWS PLANS AIRING OF SADDAM TAPES: Saddam talking with his advisors about hitting Washington with WMD, hiding weapons, etc... Developing...

Previous Posts on the Saddam Tapes and new evidence on the WMD here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

German Moslems Challenge Ahmadinejad on Holocaust Denial

A Muslim cultural institute in Germany on Monday criticised Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for disparaging the Holocaust, daring him to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp.

"In this place of horror he can again deny the Holocaust, if he has the courage," a spokesman for the Islam-Archiv-Deutschland Central Institute told the German Catholic press agency KNA.

In recent statements, the hardline Iranian president has dismissed the Nazis' systematic slaughter of mainland Europe's Jews as a "myth" used to justify the creation of Israel and called for the state to be "wiped off the map".

...The Berlin-based institute, founded in 1927, is the oldest Muslim body in Germany.

It has been dedicated to preserving the community's archives since the 18th century and fostering relations between Muslims and other religions.
I wonder if these Moslems are to other sects and sociological groupings of Islam as Yeckishe Jews (German Jews) are to other branches of Ashkenzi Judaism.

Aux Barricades, Mes Amis? Ou Non?

I guess we'll soon get to see whether France is going to the barricades or is going to submit, legally speaking:

French papers in cartoon lawsuit

France's top Muslim organisation has decided to take legal action against French newspapers that printed cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

The French Council of Muslim Faith (CFCM) said it was acting after receiving lawyers' advice.

CFCM lawyer Maitre Hafiz said details of the case were still being worked out, without specifying charges...

The CFCM decided to launch legal action against the newspapers that published the caricatures, the council said in a statement after a closed-door meeting between its member groups and lawyers.

The House Committee Hearings On Retaliation Against DIA Whistleblowers Were Held Today

Don't forget! Tomorrow is the Open Session Able Danger Hearings.

From the House Subcommittee Hearing Today Re Whistle Blowers:
(Partial audio clips available here)

Pre-Sept. 11 intelligence conducted by a secret military unit identified terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta 13 different times, a congressman said Tuesday.

During a Capitol Hill news conference, Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., said the unit _ code-named "Able Danger" _ also identified "a problem" in Yemen two weeks before the attack on the USS Cole. It knew the problem was tied into the port of Aden and involved a U.S. platform, but the ship commander was not made aware of it, Weldon said.

The suicide bombing of the Cole killed 17 sailors on Oct. 12, 2000.

If anyone had told the Cole's commander that there was any indication of a problem in Aden, "he would not have gone there," Weldon told reporters. "He had no clue."

Weldon would not say who provided evidence of such intelligence to him.

Since August, Weldon, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has pushed Congress and the Pentagon to investigate the workings of Able Danger, which used data mining to identify links that might indicate the workings of terrorists. If he is correct, it would change the timeline for when government officials first became aware of Atta's links to al-Qaida.

Former members of the Sept. 11 commission have dismissed Weldon's findings.

Cmdr. Greg Hicks, a Pentagon spokesman, released a statement saying that Pentagon officials welcome the opportunity to address these issues during a hearing scheduled Wednesday before a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.
Unfortunately, this 'revelation' about the Cole Bombing alert is old news to people following this story.

Partial audio clips of the hearing available here. (Or they are supposed to be, but I can't get them to play - perhaps it's an apple thing.)

Some Previous Posts on Able Danger:

7. Able Danger Update
6. Looks like Porter Goss has made a lot of people upset
5. Able Danger - The Continuing Story
4. Uh Oh
3. Enable Danger
2. Watching Enabled
1. Defending America From The Truth

David Gregory, the George Clooney of the press corps

Mark Steyn's brilliant skewering of NBC reporter David Gregory as the George Clooney (1) of the press corps seems particularly apt here, where Gregory shows off his more charming side in public.
Gregory asked White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan about the Cheney hunting accident.

'David, hold on, the cameras aren't on right now,' McClellan replied. 'You can do this later.'

'Don't accuse me of trying to pose to the cameras,' Gregory said, voice rising. 'Don't be a jerk to me personally when I'm asking you a serious question.'

'You don't have to yell,' McClellan said.

'I will yell,'' said Gregory, pointing a finger at McCellan at his dais. 'If you want to use that podium to try to take shots at me personally, which I don't appreciate, then I will raise my voice, because that's wrong.'

'Calm down, Dave, calm down,' said McClellan.

'I'll calm down when I feel like calming down,' Gregory said. 'You answer the question.'

'I have answered the question,' said McClellan, who had maintained that the vice president's office was in charge of getting the information out and worked with the ranch owner to do that. 'I'm sorry you're getting all riled up about.'

'I am riled up,' Gregory said, 'because you're not answering the question.'"
Didn't there used to exist public standards of grown up behavior, otherwise known as decorum, for people who served in the White House Press Corps? Not to mention Gregory's bad pun on taking pot shots at him. (O! that someone would. Hopefully an MSNBC producer, which would get him off the air, unmartyred by the left.)

Michelle Malkin notes that after Vince Foster famously, um, turned up dead, there was a 30 hour delay that Hillary insisted on before his suicide note was reported to the press. And the press wasn't offended then.

And what's the difference now? That liberals can't stand Bush. That makes the incident "suspicious" as opposed to unfortunate.

(1) See Mark Steyn's brilliant skewering of George Clooney here.
It's a like a series of Escher mirrors. Each skewering contains a reference to yet another brilliant Mark Steyn skewering.

[Hat Tip: Gene on the Post graphic though, doubtless, he won't be thrilled with my take on the matter.

Sarkozy in 2007

[Nicholas Sarkozy,] the interior minister [of France] compounds his popularity with regular, high-profile deportations of criminals, rioters and mad mullahs who turn out to be in France illegally. And he takes every opportunity to point out that he is far from finished yet.

His success - or lack of it - would have great consequences for France and for Europe. There might also be a lesson for our own troubled Conservative Party, which has deliberately avoided Sarkozy-style plain-speaking for fear of appearing "nasty".

I am not aware of any pronouncement David Cameron has made about the shocking protests in London, 10 days ago, calling for beheadings and executions. His economic policy consists of maintaining Labour's.

Oops, I forgot the link the first time and to add in an attribution. That's what I get for running out without checking my work...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Case Cheney

This is pretty funny:

Although I also agree with this:

Ugh! Robert Novak alert!

Ugh! Robert Novak is appearing on Brit Hume tonight to replace Fred Barnes!

What the hell did they have to hire him for.

What passes for art on the tolerant left

Oriana Fallaci decapitated. Check this sick thing out.

The left appropriates the means of Islam in its 'art'.

And of course, the hatred of the left towards Fallaci is more unforgiving since she was once one of their number. And has recanted the faith.

Robert Spencer explains.

Michelle Malkin adds:
Needless to say, none of Fallaci's supporters have threatened suicide bombings across Italy, burned down the art exhibit, or cast fatwas on the painter.

'If I Speak In the Arab World, I Will Be Shot'

Nonie Darwish speaks here about her childhood indoctrination education in Gaza.

And in the NYSun Ira Stoll interviews both Nonie Darwish and Khaled Abu Toameh, Palestinian journalist.
Khaled Abu Toameh used to work for a Palestine Liberation Organization newspaper. Now he writes for the Jerusalem Post and for Mortimer Zuckerman's U.S. News & World Report, and he's so critical of the PLO that two pro-Israel advocacy groups, StandWithUs and Hasbara Fellowships, recently brought him on a speaking tour to North America.

Nonie Darwish grew up in Gaza City, where her father was the head of Egypt's armed resistance to Israel known as the fedayeen. Now she worries about the "systematic indoctrination into hate in all Arab schools" and is on a speaking tour with a retired Israel Defense Force colonel that is sponsored by another pro-Israel group, the Israel Project.

Not That Envelope Please

Protesting the academy: there's a petition to protest the nomination of Paradise Now - the European financed, pro Palestinian film glorifying suicide bombing:
An anonymous on-line petition to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which so far has been signed by 4,313 people in Israel and abroad, calls upon the academy to withdraw the film Paradise Now from the list of nominations for best foreign film.

Directed by Israeli-born Hany Abu-Assad from a screenplay he wrote with Dutch producer Bero Beyer, and starring Kais Nashef and Ali Suliman, Paradise Now chronicles 48 hours in the lives of two young men in Nablus who are sent on a suicide mission to Israel. After one of the two terrorists decides at the last minute to return home, the film ends with his friend sitting on a Tel Aviv bus with an explosive belt tied to his body - moments before the inevitable explosion.
Googling got me to this link. But it appears to be down at the moment. Hacked by people in favor of the movie? I wouldn't be surprised. [If someone else has another link, please let me know.]

Update: The link is working now.

Later Update: That is, it's sort of working. It's still not letting me sign.

Let's get the petition some exposure on the web.

'I Feel Ashamed to be an Anglican'

Melanie Phillips has a long post on the recent Anglican decision to "disinvest" from Israel that I recently mentioned here.

Apparently, though he was voting for disinvestment, Rowan Williams did not "realize" he was voting for disinvestment. A position that sounds Kerry-esque in its carefully manufactored disingenuousness.
In his carefully crafted letter Dr Rowan Williams, who voted in favour of the motion, denies that it represented a decision to disinvest. At the same time, he admits that it was a response to a call from the Anglican church in Jerusalem to disinvest...

Dr Williams defends the synod as merely urging the Church of England 'to engage with companies about whom we had concerns and to encourage a fact-finding visit to the Holy Land.'

In his letter to Sir Jonathan Sacks, the Archbishop of Canterbury says: 'The Synod has not resolved to disinvest.'

Dr Williams says: 'It is unfortunate that this has arisen at a time when anti-Semitism is a growing menace and when the State of Israel faces challenges not only in respect of the new administration in the territories administered by the Palestinian Authority but also elsewhere in the region.'
So the timing of this vote is unfortunate, yet the Archbishop of Canterbury, with his considerable influence, did nothing to effect the timing. Except vote for disinvestment. Which he denies is disinvestment.

Nor has he yet commented on the Hamas victory in the Palestinian election.

Ah the vacuity responsibility of ecclesiastical leadership.

Fortunately, there are still a few decent Anglican leaders left.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury reacted to the Synod vote by saying that he was 'ashamed to be an Anglican.'
The former archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday he was "ashamed to be an Anglican" following Monday's vote by the Church of England to disinvest from companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the territories.

The February 6 divestment vote, which was backed by current Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, was "a most regrettable and one-sided statement," Lord Carey said, and one that "ignores the trauma of ordinary Jewish people" in Israel subjected to terrorist attacks.

Simon McIllwaine, the head of Anglicans for Israel has a interview on the BBC here against the Synod's vote with a rebuttal by the Bishop of Chelmsford, John Gladwin, who supported the vote.

McIllwaine does us the favor as well by letting us know that many of the people who voted to disinvest are Liberation theologists and that some of the others, presumably Bishop of Jerusalem, the Right Rev Riah Hanna Abu El-Assal, practiced a form of Moslem influenced Anglicanism - syncretism at work.

Good to know that 50 years after Stalin, the communist creed is still perverting the thinking of influential people in the West. The self-willed naivete of these bishops who have no idea the extent to which the entire Palestinian cause was first shaped in the USSR as another front in the cold war is astounding. And their knee jerk, programmatic response to continue the fight to liberate the people 'oppressed' by the capitalists here represented by the Zionist entity and the company - Caterpillar - which does business with it.
But the cold-war syllogism lives on today in a new guise. Too many haters of capitalism and the United States still cram everything into the frame of untruth and self-deception that says my enemy's enemy is still my friend because, even if he blows up my family on the tube, murders my colleagues on the bus or threatens to behead me for publishing a drawing, he is still at war with Bush, Blair and Berlusconi. It is 50 years this month since that simplistic view of the world lost whatever moral purchase it may once have had. It is time such thinking was, to choose a sadly appropriate word, purged. Too long, my brothers and my sisters, too long.

By the way, methods of indoctrination dreamt up by the Soviets in collusion with Arafat continues, in many of its manifestations, until today. But not a word from the Anglican leadership on any of this.

Here is the response of Anglicans in Israel.
The Israel Trust of the Anglican Church is in no way connected with the Church of England in sponsoring this initiative. The Church of England would be better served to find practical ways to facilitate dialogue instead of passing one-sided resolutions. This naïve action will do nothing to promote genuine reconciliation between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East."

Earlier posts on the the Anglican situation here.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

26+ inches of snow

That's a record for NYC, but after living in Boston for several years, and hearing about 12 feet of snow in Japan this year, it doesn't seem so exciting.

Still, for now, it's pretty. I love tree silhouettes with snow. Unfortunately, my camera konked out after four pictures. I forgot to recharge it overnight - though I suspected it was low. And this is the best of the bunch.

So, pretty much the Democrat party's wet dream

Not to mention the comedians:



The man, Harry Whittington, 78, is now '"alert and doing fine' after Cheney sprayed Whittington with shotgun pellets on Saturday at the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas."

Ahoy the fascist jokes. And the execution jokes. Especially because it happened in Texas. And the comments about target practice.

Update: Not to mention the dread Halliburton connection!

How could we have overlooked that! And if that doesn't show that something nefarious was behind this then...

Update II:

JPOD offers advice at the Corner about what Cheney should do.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Moronic Convergence Dept.

Judith, my co-blogger in chief at Kesher Talk points us to the absurdity of the notorious anti-zionist professor Joseph Massad reviewing the movie Munich.

In a similar vein, Martin Kramer's comments on the Moronic Convergence that promoted Joseph Massad to Associate Professor at Columbia:
Massad, a Palestinian extremist and protege of the late Edward Said, was the prime culprit in last year's student abuse scandal. His most famous contribution to the store of human knowledge is his ingenious discovery that Zionism isn't just racism, it's antisemitism...If Edward Said hadn't been pulling all the strings on Morningside Heights, Massad probably would have ended up teaching in a community college. Now he's one step away from tenure at a leading university.

Kramer relates further how in the opinion of David Biale, it was the very din against Massad that led those who formerly had doubts about giving Massad tenure to now side with him.

So protesting against a professor for inappropriate behavior assures the promotion of said professor among a certain cadre of tenured professor?

Very, uh, liberal minded of them.

David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy responds to Kramer's comments here.

For more about Massad's promotion to Associate Professor, see also the NYSun. ]

Friday, February 10, 2006

My Favorite Muslim Protest Slogan of the Week

Although this one isn't bad either for its sheer, mindbending incomprehensibility.

More slogans at Jawa Report

Bugged - A Paranoic Feast

So, is that really your personality you are exhibiting? Or are little parasites controlling your behavior?
Are brain parasites altering the personalities of three billion people? The question emerged a few years ago, and it shows no signs of going away...

Some scientists believe that Toxoplasma changes the personality of its human hosts, bringing different shifts to men and women. Parasitologist Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague administered psychological questionnaires to people infected with Toxoplasma and controls. Those infected, he found, show a small, but statistically significant, tendency to be more self-reproaching and insecure. Paradoxically, infected women, on average, tend to be more outgoing and warmhearted than controls, while infected men tend to be more jealous and suspicious....

Torrey and his colleagues had noticed some intriguing links between Toxoplasma and schizophrenia. Infection with the parasite has been associated with damage to a certain class of neurons (astrocytes). So has schizophrenia. Pregnant women with high levels of Toxoplasma antibodies in their blood were more likely to give birth to children who would later develop schizophrenia. Torrey lays out more links in this 2003 paper. While none is a smoking gun, they are certainly food for thought. It's conceivable that exposure to Toxoplasma causes subtle changes in most people's personality, but in a small minority, it has more devastating effects.

Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Sot

I'm exceedingly pleased to see that Carsten Juste, the editor in chief of Jyllands-Posten, the paper in Denmark recently notable for launching one of the first battles of World War IV in Scandanavia the Great Cartoon Jihad of 2006, has taken my advice and placed Flemming Rose, the culture editor, on indefinite leave. Not for the original decision to run the cartoons, but his decision to overcome the problem he had landed in with the Muslims by reprinting cartoons depicting the Holocaust commissioned by an Iranian newspaper.

Earlier this week, [Flemming Rose] said he would also be open to reprinting cartoons depicting the Holocaust commissioned by an Iranian newspaper. That prompted a public disagreement with editor-in-chief Carsten Juste, who has also come under pressure to resign over the row. "The editorial management and Flemming Rose have agreed that he needed a break from work until further notice," said Tage Clausen, a spokesman for the Jyllands-Posten paper.

Jyllands-Posten has apologised for offending Muslims but has insisted it was right to print the cartoons because of the importance of freedom of speech. Muslims incensed by the images have insisted that Denmark properly apologises to defuse the row.

And apparently Flemming Rose was of the opinion that the best way to defuse the row was to insult Holocaust Victims.

Hat Tip: LGF

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Able Danger Update

Public Able Danger Hearings are set for February 15, 2006. The day before this, February 14th, Lt. Col. Anthony Schaffer will testify on the DIA retaliation for speaking out on the subject of Able Danger despite attempts to silence him.

Hat Tip: Able Danger Blog

NEW: See also Bob Kerrey's somewhat self important statement about Able Danger Hearings at gsnmagazine.com. He's in favor of them.
I'm trying to understand how this could be possible. Let's assume for the moment that Lt. Col. Shaffer told me during a two-hour face-to-face interview last August that he sat with Zelikow in Afghanistan and went over Able Danger in great detail. "I spoke with Zelikow for longer than we've just spoken," Shaffer told me. "This interview is nothing compared to what I went through with Philip Zelikow," he added.

There's no question in my mind that your staff director, Philip Zelikow, heard this information about Able Danger in great detail.

No question in your mind.

In my mind and certainly no question in Shaffer's mind, as the briefer.

Well, there's a question in my mind.

Okay, that's what I'm asking you: Why is there that question? Because you think someone like Shaffer could be making this up?

Because there's no motivation for Philip Zelikow to withhold it. He's got a phenomenal memory and a phenomenal intellect and he could have been half asleep and he would have remembered that. That's a wake-up statement, so there's no motivation for Philip Zelikow not to bring that information back.

But, I can't get to the bottom of it. I have no capacity to get to the bottom of the dispute between these two individuals. The only way to get to the bottom of it is for the House Armed Services Committee to subpoena them both and bring them before the committee as witnesses.

The Politics of Fear - Abu Hamza

Daniel Johnson has an excellent article in the NYSun today about the politics of Abu Hamza's conviction. Unfortunately only a small portion of it is available online. So I've had to resort to the old fashioned method of typing it in, rather than cutting and pasting.
The importance of Hamza's trial, owever, transcends his own role as the demoagogic imam of Finsbury Park Mosque. It is hard to overestimate the significance of the fact that, after four weeks of evidence, a British jury did find Hamza guilty. Several times similar trials have collapsed because juries are reluctant to convict, especially where new anti-terrorist laws are invoked. In the present atmosphere of moral panic, neither juries nor judges neither policemen nor politicians are prepared to stand up to islamist intimidation. The Abu Hamza trial could - indeed must - mark a turning point.

One thing, and one thing only, is feeding the Islamist attempt to bully the West. It is fear: fear of terrorism, fear of the mob, fear of an implacable, fanatical foe, internal as well as external You can sense the fear every time European governments fail to show solidarity in response to a deliberate provocation, such as burning embassies in Damascus, or Holocaust denial in Teheran.
The London Times makes a similar point about the jailing of Hamza:
One of the unanswered questions relates to why Abu Hamza was not prosecuted earlier. Police and MI5 had been watching him for years. Yet he was initially arrested on an extradition request from US authorities, and only subsequently charged by their British counterparts. The verdict will perhaps encourage officers to intervene more promptly in cases where radical clerics are abusing their position to rally their flocks to hatred and killing.

Though I have to say I'm fairly confused about why Hamza was arrested on hate speech and incitement to murder, as opposed to charges on the possession of the various and sundry illegal weapons found at the Finsbury Mosque. Perhaps someone who understands this area of British law could explain this issue to me. American Prosecutors seem thoroughly devoted to overcharging people at trial rather than undercharging them, that it is hard to understand why a battery of weapons charges were not also added.
After today's trial the Metropolitan Police released for the first time photographs of items seized from the mosque in January 2003 as part of a separate inquiry into a terrorist plot.

The items have never been unveiled so as not to prejudice proceedings against Abu Hamza, but include CS spray, a stun gun, three blank firing pistols, a dummy gun, a chemical warfare suit and hundreds of blank forms, passports, credit cards and cheque books.

And here is the link to an article about Abu Hamza from his ex wife's perspective, which provides information on the development of a radical.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

...And Everybody Hates the Jews

[UPDATED at bottom: crisis resolved ]

So it looks like Flemming Rose, the culture editor from the Danish paper that originally published the anti-Muslim cartoons, has figured out an exit strategy for the quagmire of Muslim hate and death threats into which he has fallen.

He is planning to run the cartoons from the great Iranian Holocaust cartoon contest coming up next week simultaneously with their publication in Iran.
The Danish editor behind the publication of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad that ignited deadly riots in the Muslim world said Wednesday that he is trying to coordinate with an Iranian paper soliciting cartoons on the Holocaust.

"My newspaper is trying to establish a contact with the Iranian newspaper, and we would run the cartoons the same day as they publish them," Flemming Rose said Wednesday in an interview on CNN's "American Morning."

That'll show those extremist Muslims what a good, upstanding guy he is. After all, he was only acting on principle. Their hatred against him is all misdirected. Because after all, he has so much in common with them. The lowest common denominator. Because everybody hates the Jews.

"Well, the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Catholics hate the Protestants
And the Hindus hate the Moslems
And everybody hates the Jews...

I'm sure the Muslims who incited this riot will enjoy winning this round they drummed up out of nothingness. And enjoy as well despising the Danes - as represented by this man - even more for being so weak willed.

*And now it turns out that the cartoons were published last fall in Egypt and no one even blinked. Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey points to a scan of them here.

Hat Tip: Solomonia.

UPDATE: Apparently the editor in chief decided that this idea - of republishing the Iranian Holocaust cartoon simply to suck down to extremist Moslems - was quite as dreadful as it sounds. And nixed it absolutely.
Editor-in-Chief Carsten Juste said his newspaper Jyllands-Posten "in no circumstances will publish Holocaust cartoons from an Iranian newspaper."

I am now of the opinion that they should get rid of Flemming Rose - he's clearly an idiot. In this case, it wouldn't be like dhimmitude. Just a reasonable decision.
Earlier, culture editor Flemming Rose said of the Iranian cartoons: "We would consider publishing them, but we will not make a decision before we have seen the cartoons."

"I have committed an error," Rose said later in an interview with Danish television. "I am 100 percent with the newspaper's line and Carsten Juste in this case."

From the Annals of Heh!

So it looks like John Bolton along with longtime Iran investigator Kenneth R. Timmerman have been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Piece Prize. It seems a little early in the year for a nomination, but what the hell. Enjoy the feeling as long as it lasts.

Bolton and Timmerman were formally nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Sweden's former deputy prime minister and Liberal party leader Per Ahlmark.

Ahlmark is meeting with journalists, opinion leaders and policymakers in Washington this week at the invitation of the Jewish Institute for National Security Afffairs (JINSA).
I don't for a minute imagine they'll get it, but finally a nomination for someone I agree with! Although in the end, I'm sure it will go to someone like Ahmadinejad, for not yet nuking Israel, or to someone else unsuitable for some equally ridiculous reason.

Still, I'm kind of curious about the reason for this. Is it a public maneuver to show the Iranians just how serious the international community intends to be on Iranian nuclear weapons? I'm fairly well inured against thinking that high level European types could actually be right and straight out sincere on an issue like this.

And the second best thing is the incredulous reaction from the lefties.

You just can't make up how true to form they are.

Warmest January in US on record

It's no surprise here to find out that it was the warmest January in the US on record, what with the several days when the weather hit 60 degrees in the North East. Although my friends in Alaska have been suffering from 45 below, there's been 13 feet of snow in Japan and even rare snow in Hawaii, and Europe and Russia have been blasted with colder than usual temperatures.

But now it's the first week of February and the flowers are blooming, literally. I first noticed snowdrops last weekend, but now there are more of them up and a crocus in full bloom as well.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Watch This Trailer

I just watched the trailer to Sophie Scholl, the Oscar-nominated portrayal of the student protestor executed by the Nazis. Hadn't heard about it before I saw the recommendation at Clive Davis. But I've seldom seen a more powerful trailer. By the end, you already fail an inward quail coming on.

To paraphrase a comment at the site, so it's this film against Paradise Now, the Palestinian film about suicide bombers and their "glorious missions".

Which one do you honestly believe will win in the world Hollywood, and its various apparatchiks, believes in now?

Hunhh?!? I Question The Timing Or Maybe They're Just Insane

Even a world awash in the Great and utterly contrived Cartoon Jihad of 2006 could not keep the earnest men and women of the General Synod, the established legislative body of the Church of England, from performing their righteous duty of voting for disinventment from Israel.
In a surprise move, the General Synod voted to back a call from the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East for "morally responsible investment in the Palestinian occupied territories".

In particular, the Synod backed the Jerusalem church's call for the Church Commissioners to disinvest from "companies profiting from the illegal occupation", such as Caterpillar Inc. Caterpillar, a US company, manufactures bulldozers used in clearance projects in the occupied territories, and also used by Palestinians in their own rebuilding work.

The motion was passed overwhelmingly, in spite of strong lobbying from leading members of Britain's Jewish community, concerned that Israel's right to protect itself from suicide bombers and other Palestinian terror attacks should not be compromised. No time was made to debate an amending motion put forward by Anglicans for Israel, the new and influential pro-Israel lobby group.

As appears now to be par for the course in such decisions, no time was made for Anglicans for Israel, the new and influential pro-Israel lobby group, to debate the issue. [There is, by the way, a very interesting interview by Tovia Singer on Israel National Radio with the founder of Anglicans for Israel, Simon McIlwaine, on the website on the upper right hand side of the page.]

The call for disinventment this time was put forward by one Keigh Malcouronne, a lay member from Guildford who was responding to a plea from the Bishop of Jerusalem, the Right Rev Riah Hanna Abu El-Assal, urging disinvestment.
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Rev John Gladwin, said that Christians in Palestine were in despair. Although recent reports have indicated high level of Muslim persecution of Christians in Israel, Bishop Gladwin blamed the Israeli government for their plight.

Ah yes. Israelis are the cause of the current persecution of Christian Palestinians and the misery currently planned for the immediate future. Also, we steal their children and drain their blood to use it to make matzoh for Passover.
[Keith Malcouronne] moved that the synod "heed the call from our sister church, the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, for morally responsible investment in the Palestinian occupied territories and, in particular, to disinvest from companies profiting from the illegal occupation, such as Caterpillar Inc, until they change their policies".
Ah yes, morally responsible investment, such as the past "funding" of Fatah, or at least its corrupt leadership, and today's promise of the ongoing funding of Hamas the Palestinians.

Another example of responsible investment in Palestine:
Nigel Roberts, the World Bank's former representative in the Palestinian territories, said in a recent interview with Israel's Haaretz daily that the PA received more than $5 billion of aid over a five-year period but was on the verge of bankruptcy.
In other words, the very model of responsible investment in a people over time.

But let us return to the subject of the vote to disinvest from Israel:

The Jewish community's distress will be augmented by the fact that the vote to disinvest was backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. By contrast, Dr Williams has so far not commented on the recent Palestinian election victory of Hamas, an organisation committed to destroying the state of Israel.
But then again, why would he criticise Hamas or say anything negative at all. After all, Hamas is known far and wide for the charities they run and the religious purity of their clerics.

Ruth Gledhill, Religion correspondent for the London Times, offers her perspective on the matter, a rather more sanguine perspective than what we get from the Archbishop of Canterbury who was among those who voted to disinvest.
[H]ow much longer can people such as myself remain in a body that remains so steadfastly stuck in a mindset of the 1970s and 1980s? Have we really got to wait for all those wishy washy liberal baby-boomer ex- and extant hippies to reach the Church's retirement age of 70 and step down before the Church can begin to confront the religious and terror realities of the 21st century? Where, asks Disgusted of Kew (me), is the Synod's condemnation of Hamas' tactics over previous years and its concern at recent developments? Where is the private member's motion calling for Hamas to recognise Israel? Where is the condemnation of Muslim protesters - in particular the convicted drug dealing Muslim protester - inciting religious fear in law-abiding citizens by dressing as fake terrorists in response to a dozen cartoons published in another country?

...[hostage still to a discredited Palestinian liberation theology that perpetuates conflict and has failed to find a credible way through to the two-state solution that most people now want, the synod bangs on about Caterpillar and creates needless conflict with a community it should be working with, not against.

This sober comment at Gledhill's site is also worth reading in full. The commenter reminds us that it is now 350 years since the Jews were invited to return to England. And with this act to commemorate it, finds very little to be cheerful about.

In other news from Britain, we learn that 37% Of British Muslims Believe Jews Are Legitimate Target.
[N]early 37 per cent of the Muslims in Britain believe that the Jewish community in Britain is a legitimate target “as part of the ongoing struggle for justice in the Middle East”. Moreover, only 52 per cent think that the state of Israel has the right to exist, with 30 per cent disagreeing. One in six of all Muslims questioned thinks suicide bombings can sometimes be justified in Israel, though many fewer (7 per cent) say the same about Britain. I wonder how many Israelis believe that a Palestinian nation has no right to exist, or that Muslims in general are legitimate targets.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Blame it on the Women

Apparently women made up a massive block of swing voters for Hamas in the last election in the Palestinian territories, according to Ian Fisher for the NYTimes.
Reem Abu Athra, who directs women's affairs in the Fatah youth wing, said that her party did not seem to understand how mobilized Hamas's women were generally — and that it did not match the grass-roots work by Hamas women during the elections. She said that Fatah seemed to think it would naturally win the women's vote, as the more secular party that has been in some ways a leader in the Arab world in rights for women.

"Fatah took women for granted, and this is one reason it lost," she said.

The questions now seem to be what role Hamas's women will play, and exactly how that will be expressed in the rules of Islam.
The model of women under Hamas will, of course, be Islam - sharia law to the extent that the new government can implement it in the territories. Which, from the point of view of according women more rights -as understood in a non-religious and Western sense, will represent a setback for women in the territories.

Mariam Farhat, left, beside Jamila
al-Shanty at a rally in Gaza City.

The best known among the 6 women who won seats in the Hamas parliament is Mariam Farhat, notoriously mother to three sons whom she merrily sent off to become suicide bombers. Of this event, she has said that she wished she had 100 sons to sacrifice that way. And for that, she is loved as heroine and mother to the people, who voted her into office.
"She is a mother to every house, every person," said one of the students, Reem el-Nabris, 20, who kissed and hugged Ms. Farhat.

Ms. Farhat, 56, who had not been active in politics, said she hoped she deserved their praise as a role model. But she said her role should not be the only one for Hamas's women.

"It is not only sacrificing sons," she said after the rally. "There are different kinds of sacrifice, by money, by education. Everybody, according to their ability, should sacrifice."

Another example of a woman elected to the parliament is Mouna Mansour:
In an interview before she won a legislative seat, Mouna Mansour, 44, a physics teacher and widow of Jamal Mansour, an assassinated Hamas leader, seemed very much engaged in the central issues. The peace process with Israel, she said, was dead. There should be a Palestinian state, but not at the cost of Jerusalem or the claims of Palestinian refugees, who under previous negotiations would not be permitted to move into what is today Israel.

Hamas, she said, needs to rebuild the economy, get rid of poverty and unemployment and, for now, to continue the cease-fire with Israel.

In other words, Hudna, until we are strong enough to build our strength back up. And then the jihad.

This seems a fitting epitaph, stated by one Hamas voter:

"A lot of Palestinians love Hamas and wanted them," she said. "But we don't know what will happen."
And neither unfortunately do the rest of us.

But won't it be fun while we wait and see.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Study: Molestation Strongest Holocaust Trauma

I found this study very interesting. It says that sexual abuse traumas have greater effect on survivors than any other experienced during Holocaust years.
A new study conducted at the Haifa University reveals that Holocaust survivors who suffered sexual abuse during World War II were much more traumatized by molestation than by any other of the horrifying experiences they went through during that period...

Prof. Rachel Lev-Wiesel, who conducted the research, said that although the survivors experienced other traumatic events during the holocaust, including the loss of parents, physical abuse and hunger, the memory of sexual abuse remained etched in their minds more than anything else.

"This abuse still causes incessant thoughts on the subject and nightmares," Lev-Wiesel said.

Coincidentally at the time, I happened to be reading a trilogy of novels set in the future - er, otherwise known as sci-fi - Warchild, Burndive and Cagebird, by Karin Lowachee, which deal with children orphaned or otherwise bereaved during War, effected by a pirate culture where molestation has become normative. The various novels deal with how they overcomes their situations, while being also unable to eradicate the whole of the trauma.

Reading the study after I had finished the trilogy affirmed the strong research and powerful presentation in the novel.

Safe Inside My Hollywood Sized Dalet Amot

In the comments at KesherTalk saxcriminal wrote:
Spielberg says that "Jewish fundamentalists" are attacking him. Wow, he's really crossed a line.
Just to point out, I added some commentary to this story a bit further down the page.

Yes, it is amazing that Spielberg complains that Jewish "fundamentalists" are attacking him.

His basic position appears to be - discuss among yourselves - as long as no one disagrees too much with me. Outside of my dalet amot everyone else is insane. [dalet amot means 4 cubits (of land) and is the rabbinic calculation for one's personal space.] While simultaneously he considers himself extremely broadminded.

While the contradiction has its amusing angle, the naivete of the man is astounding. He makes a film that deals with a nexus of issues that includes the most thorny and untractable issues of our times - the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, plus how to manage terrorism successfully to defuse it - questions which really don't have answers at all - and he's actually surprised by the strength of the reaction. And is in so much denial about it all and unaware of the limitations of his own perspective that all he can do is insult everyone who disagrees both to the right and the left. It's fairly mindboggling. Except that it seems typical for Hollywood.

But then Spielberg meant well. So let's all sing kumbaya, pay tribute to Spielberg's great genius and humanity, and go home.

But it's an odd interview, isn't it. Spielberg and Clooney come across as these huge narcissists with colossal egos - well, Clooney is even worse than Spielberg. That's unsurprising, really. Whereas I find a lot less narcissism in the comments of Ang Lee and Paul Haggis, both of whose past work I've admired a great deal in the past. Though I have yet to see either Crash and Brokeback Mountain.

Evan Coyne Maloney discusses the the self assumed bravery of big Hollywood machers like Spielberg and Clooney patting themselves on the back for having the courage to produce films that spout what everyone they know already agrees with. And the ones that don't agree presumably shut up about their politics, at least, in public.

Interestingly, if the Jerusalem Post has it correct, much of the Israeli audience of Munich is simply bored.

Finally, Gabriel Schoenfeld, writing in Commentary, reviews Munich. And not in a positive way. Of course, Commentary is a far right fundamentalist magazine run by neo-cons, so that is to be expected.
Occasionally these scenes descend into cartoonish banality. Verbal cliches direct from The Joys of Yiddish - including many 'mazal tovs' and jokes about brisket - are supplemented by, in the words of Anthony Lane of the New Yorker, visual cliches 'direct from your travel agent: Eiffel Tower for Paris, bicycles for Holland, and feast-laden tables for Israelis, wherever they are.'
The first stylistic quirk, by the way, reeks of Tony Kushner, with his penchant for establishing his Jewish creds with yiddishisms and matzah ball humor.
Never once in all this does any Israeli present us with a reasoned argument for striking back against terrorists who have hit once and - wandering around Europe virtually unmolested by European governments - may be planning to hit again. National security? Self-defense? Deterrence? Justified retribution? None of these considerations is invoked in all the film's talk and debate. On the contrary, what Israel is proposing to undertake is made to seem a departure from justice, and especially a departure from traditional Jewish values - even in the eyes of the Israelis themselves. 'People say we can’t afford to be civilized,' says the prime minister. 'I've always resisted such people. . . . Today, I am hearing with new ears.' In a line perhaps intended as the moral touchstone of the film, she declares wanly, 'every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values.'

This discreditable rationale is, furthermore, the loftiest offered for what Israel intends to do; others, lower and uglier, are on display as well. Avner's mother, a refugee from Hitler's Europe (and hence also trapped by the past), insists that absolutely anything is permissible in Israel's name: "Whatever it took; whatever it takes." Steve, the South African driver on the team, argues for the mission in terms even cruder in form ("Don’t f-- with the Jews") or nakedly racist ("The only blood that matters to me is Jewish blood"). And there the whole issue is allowed to rest.

One begins to wonder whether these people understand the ideas of people other than themselves at all - elsewise how to explain why they end up portraying these other Jews, who are plainly their ideological enemies, in such reductionalist terms? As if the only place where complexity can exist is among people who represent their POV. This is no surprise to anyone who grew up or passed adult years not belonging to the tribe of liberals, with all their received conventional wisdom. Still. What a very paucity of artistic imagination that entails.

The only good Jews are liberal Jews who agree with me. Thus sayeth the film makers. And ultimately they relate better to their conventional enemies - the complex Palestinian thinker-terrorists - than to the morally simplistic Jews who disagree with the stance they grow into.

Thus, it is no surprise to find this:
By the end of the movie, Avner himself demands that his Mossad controller "show me the evidence." But no evidence is ever forthcoming. We are led to conclude that, in a perfect counterpoint to the Arab massacre of innocent Jews at Munich, there has been a systematic killing by Jews of innocent Arabs.

In the meantime, evidence of a very different sort is given a thorough hearing. At various junctures, Palestinians press the case both for their methods and for their larger national goals, and in terms that contrast invidiously with the case that is made, or rather not made, for Israeli nationhood. The Palestinian cause is made to seem reasonable and historically grounded; the establishment of a Jewish state gets scarcely a positive word...

...The difference between the two sides is drawn as well in the nature of the violence they employ. Palestinian deeds may be ferocious, but they are also passionately felt, an upwelling of the persecuted weak against the implacably strong. Israeli violence, though no less brutal, is heartless and methodical - not the expression of individuals willingly sacrificing themselves for a just cause but the coldly mechanical and calculated product of the intelligence apparatus of an aggressive state....

...In Munich, Israel's response to the Olympic massacre is made to seem not only futile but the root cause from which an entire wave of Palestinian terrorism will spring.
Not surprisingly, Schoenfeld excoriates Munich. It's well worth a read. But I'm fairly sure, that tucked safe within his dalet amot in Hollywood, Spielberg will dismiss all of its contentions as more right wing babble and never seriously address any of its points in his mind.
The movie deserves an Oscar in one category only: most hypocritical film of the year.
Now wouldn't that be a sight to see!

Hamas Again

I've been meaning to link to this one all day:

The Guardian unsurprisingly, granted Khalid Mashaal editorial space to explain Hamas' mission to the world and its current statement of purpose.
Our message to the Muslim and Arab nations is this: you have a responsibility to stand by your Palestinian brothers and sisters whose sacrifices are made on behalf of all of you. Our people in Palestine should not need to wait for any aid from countries that attach humiliating conditions to every dollar or euro they pay despite their historical and moral responsibility for our plight. We expect you to step in and compensate the Palestinian people for any loss of aid and we demand you lift all restrictions on civil society institutions that wish to fundraise for the Palestinian cause.

Our message to the Palestinians is this: our people are not only those who live under siege in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but also the millions languishing in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria and the millions spread around the world unable to return home. We promise you that nothing in the world will deter us from pursuing our goal of liberation and return. We shall spare no effort to work with all factions and institutions in order to put our Palestinian house in order. Having won the parliamentary elections, our medium-term objective is to reform the PLO in order to revive its role as a true representative of all the Palestinian people, without exception or discrimination.

Our message to the Israelis is this: we do not fight you because you belong to a certain faith or culture. Jews have lived in the Muslim world for 13 centuries in peace and harmony; they are in our religion "the people of the book" who have a covenant from God and His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be respected and protected. Our conflict with you is not religious but political. We have no problem with Jews who have not attacked us - our problem is with those who came to our land, imposed themselves on us by force, destroyed our society and banished our people.
Ah yes. All of us Jews are looking forward to the return to the imposition of dhimmitude.

As Joseph Braude points out, Khalid Masha'al is the person that Abbas called to congratulate officially on the Hamas victory. He is their spokesperson and their current policy formulator. The head of Hamas, for all intents and purposes.

Bush has stated, for the moment, that there will be no Palestinian state as long as Hamas refuses to change.
U.S. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that a Palestinian state could not be established if a Hamas-led government refuses to renounce its desire to destroy Israel.

The American presindent also vowed that the United States will rise to Israel's defense if Iran launched an attack against it.

Bush said it was too early to tell what path Hamas, which won a shock victory in last week's parliamentary elections, would choose in dealing with Israel.

"The conditions for peace and the conditions for a settlement will be up to Hamas to make the right decisions," he said.

Bush was the first U.S. president specifically to endorse a state for Palestinians to live side by side in peace with Israel. Immediate prospects of that have dimmed with the triumph of Hamas in Palestinian parliamentary elections last week.

"I made the position of this government very clear," Bush said. "Hamas must renounce its desire to destroy Israel; it must recognize Israel's right to exist, and it must get rid of the armed wing of its party."
Well, considering what happened with Arafat, we know Bush has the cojones to shut Hamas out entirely if he so chooses. And if Condi doesn't talk him out of it for "pragmatic" reasons.