Friday, March 31, 2006

Will There Be Jews in France in 10-15 Year?

"All the Jews in France want one thing, to leave for Israel or the United States," said [Murielle Brami, 42, whose parents immigrated to France to escape anti-Jewish riots in Tunisia]. That is hyperbole, but it is a sign of the anxiety percolating through France's Jewish community. "When our parents came, it was paradise here," said Ms. Brami, who remembers staying out late without worrying about her safety.

Now she avoids certain neighborhoods even in the day and no longer allows her son to wear a yarmulke in the street after some youths put a knife to his throat last year.
Remember last year when we were being "officially" reassured that the situation for Jews in France had changed?

[Hat Tip: Solomonia]

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Linguistic Imperialism

Pooter Geek in reaction to his Dad's comments about another writer's poor grammar:
I think you should reflect on the possibility that you have become infected with a crude Lancastrian imperialist grammatical prescriptivism.

Can We Have the Election Again?

Which is worse?

The Israeli Finance or the Defense Portfolio in the hands of Labor?

I think its equal opportunity horribility.
The struggle for the finance portfolio is likely to be at the center of negotiations to build the next coalition. Although finance is considered one of the top three portfolios, it will probably become even more prominent, in view of the priority of social economic issues caused by the composition of the 17th Knesset.
Therefore, opinion is growing in Kadima that it should hold onto the finance portfolio in order to lead social change, rather than handing the portfolio over to its senior coalition partner, presumably Labor, thereby strengthening its political support ahead of the next elections...

Since it won fewer seats than expected and because it prefers the finance portfolio, Kadima will have to concede the defense portfolio to its senior coalition partner, after Olmert promised the foreign affairs portfolio to Tzippi Livni, who is also the leading candidate for the post of acting prime minister.

Labor Party chairman MK Amir Perez's associates are already readying him for the possibility that Labor will not receive the finance portfolio, and they are trying to get him to accept the defense portfolio, which will strengthen his position within the party. Other Labor Party sources are proposing to give the defense portfolio to Ami Ayalon, while Perez will channel his social welfare energy to the labor and social affairs portfolio, after labor is separated from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor.
Anyone know anything about Ami Ayalon?

Some Dead Babies Along with Your Organ Meat?

On the one hand, Berlusconi's recent baby gaffe riles the Chinese:
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has landed himself in hot water with comments that the Chinese under Mao Zedong "boiled babies".

The PM, who is running for election in April, refused to withdraw his remarks when pressed by reporters, saying it was "an historical fact".

But the gaffe has angered China, which is marking the Year of Italy in 2006.

The Chinese foreign ministry has said it is "dissatisfied with such groundless words".

"Italian leaders should use words and actions that are beneficial to stable and developing friendly relations between China and Italy," the ministry said in a statement.
On the other hand, what may actually be going on in China currently is quite as repulsive, according to new reports emanating from Sujiatun in China. Jay Nordlinger weighs in.
There is a horrifying story going around the world: In the northeast of China, thousands of prisoners are being held, so that they can be killed for their organs. The prisoners are practitioners of Falun Gong, the meditation-and-exercise system. The facility at which they are being held - called a "concentration camp" or a "death camp" - is at Sujiatun. Chinese human-rights activists believe that this name should cause the same shudders as Treblinka and the others.

I cannot say whether this story is true; I can say that one ought to pay attention.

Of course, "organ-harvesting" is a very familiar story: The PRC has been doing it, with prisoners, for many years. In 2001, the U.S. Congress held hearings on the matter, which caused a sensation. But the sensation died down, as sensations tend to do. Organ-harvesting has gone on, with no negative consequences for the Chinese government.

Organ-selling is a huge business for the Chinese. You can obtain organs in China as you can nowhere else: any type, and very speedily...
Whereas killing babies is a gruesome, but time honored way to survive a horrible famine -which isn't to suggest there is anything good about it, more like people have been doing it since the beginning of time, killing people to harvest their organs for money is a brand new, space-age horror.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The NYTimes Lying? I'm shocked, shocked

Check out how the NYTimes's reporter Eric Lichtblau entirely misrepresents the position of the FISA court judges, delivered in plain English in order to maintain the Times' narrative that Bush overreached on the NSA kerfuffle.

For more of the transcript, check out Powerline or NRO's Media Blog.

Here's the bottomline:
Senator Feinstein: Judge?

Judge Stafford: Everyone is bound by the law, but I do not believe, with all due respect, that even an act of Congress can limit the President's power under the Necessary and Proper Clause under the Constitution.


Chairman Specter: I think the thrust of what you are saying is the President is bound by statute like everyone else unless it impinges on his constitutional authority, and a statute cannot take away the President's constitutional authority. Anybody disagree with that?

[No response.]

Chairman Specter: Everybody agrees with that.
Jeff Goldstein adds:
But of course, the truth is secondary to the support of the dominant narrative. After all, we need to be taught the important lesson in all this - and sometimes, inconvenient facts get in the way of that narrative.

But we can forgive this. Given that it's for the greater good and all...

Just One Minute has an excerpt from a different part of the transcript, from the testimony of Magistrate Judge Allan Kornblum, who first got involved with these issues in the mid-70's:
However, the FISA statute has very specific definitions, and there are intelligence activities that fall outside the FISA statute. Those activities went forward and have continued to this day and are still being done under the president's authority as set forth in the executive orders describing U.S. intelligence activities.

There were three orders: President Ford's order, 11905; President Carter's order, 12036; and the current order, 12333 (text here), which was issued by President Reagan in December of '81.

That order has been used by all of the presidents following President Reagan without change.

Bush: No US Aid for Hamas led PA

"I weep for the Palestinians' suffering," Bush said in a speech. "They've been ruled for years by a disappointing government, but we can't fund a nation that seeks to destroy its neighbor."
Bush apparently isn't the only one.
Earlier Wednesday, Soon after Hamas formally took power, Canada announced it was suspending aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement that Canada had no choice but to suspend assistance to the PA and decline contact with the new Hamas cabinet.
Good thing that Stephen Harper got elected, because I imagine it would have been business as usual with Paul Martin.


In other news, here's the opening gambit in negotiations for the Finance Ministry Portfolio within Israel. Looks like a showy negotiating position:
[Olmert's associates] said the Treasury was off limits in coalition talks, especially with regard to Labor chairman Amir Peretz.

"There is a limit to what the economy can tolerate," an Olmert associate said. "Peretz has a history of paralyzing the economy with strikes, so if he were appointed, the stock market would collapse. He can't be finance minister for the same reason that [Israel Beiteinu head] Avigdor Lieberman cannot be defense minister."

Such insults to Peretz offended Labor Party leaders who insisted they would have to be paid a reasonable price to join the coalition, unlike the national-unity government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, where Labor's top portfolio was the Interior Ministry.

"A party that has run on a socioeconomic platform could not possibly accept anything less than the Finance Ministry," a senior Labor official close to Peretz said. "The basis of any talks would be Peretz heading the Finance Ministry."
Though I shudder to think what could be worse. Finance or Defense. Foreign Affairs is more like the State Department, and that's where Peres always went. So it is at least traditional to give that to a dove.

Ilya Somin, guest blogging at Volokh Conspiracy, agrees that this position looks to be merely a "tough," initial negotiating stance.
At the same time, Olmert says he's leaving open the possibility of allying with the right-wing parties instead. I suspect that he's bluffing. As I noted in my earlier post, these parties categorically oppose Kadima's main policy objective: unilateral Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank.

For more on the negative repercussions of surrendering the Finance Portfolio to Labor:
The election results indicate that the next government will focus on a social agenda, and we hope that the government will be able to maintain a budgetary balance and keep the economic principles of the Sharon government, which the world welcomed and attracted foreign investment. If the government keeps its predecessor's targets, i.e. a budget deficit of 3% of GDP, and 1% growth in spending in real terms, then, so long as there are no distortions in budget allocations, any specific change won’t be perceived as problematic.

"Kadima will inherit the Likud's economic approach of the free market. Therefore, the choice of the next finance minister is critical. It's no secret that foreign investors support a free market, so if Kadima surrenders the finance portfolio, this will have negative repercussions on the market. That said, the Labor Party has been sending more responsible signals recently, and it seems that it will also try to preserve the budget framework. We therefore do not expect foreign investors to make their exit from Israel, even if Labor gets the finance portfolio, and the media will play its role in allaying apprehension over this."
[Hat Tip: Am Echad]

Whither Israel: Back Into the Red?

The big question arising from the results of the Israeli election is why the Israeli electorate "punished" Bibi Netanyahu by only giving Likud 11 seats.

The most compelling answer is that Bibi was the person most identifiable as being to blame for Israel's free market reforms, the same reforms which had greatly benefitted the Israeli economy as a whole, though impacting the financial status of some individuals, particularly pensioners, in a negative manner.

Netanyahu, if you recall, stayed in Sharon's government just until his economic reforms were completed.
[A] Likud figure said that during a Tuesday faction meeting numerous people, "yelled at Bibi for harming the elderly and pensioners with his economic plan. He never learned that people don't forget when their income is hurt. Now we are seeing the results. The four senior members [Silvan Shalom, Limor Livnat, Danny Naveh and Yisrael Katz] didn't show up yesterday - and that says everything."
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) told Army Radio that Netanyahu's economic policies caused the party's collapse at the polls.
In reaction to the election news and the fact that the Labor Party, led by former union leader Amir Peretz, is now going to be back in the Government, the Israeli stock market took a plunge on fears for the future. And not surprisingly, now that it emerges that Kadima might have to yield the Finance Portfolio to socialist-leaning Labor.
Major banks held center stage today after reporting record results for 2005. But they, too, closed down after share sell offs by foreign investors who refused to take the election results in their stride.

Fears over the future took their toll on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) today which closed down as a result...
Trading on the TASE was conducted against the backdrop of the final election results which came through in the early hours of the morning.
It's as if the vital Thatcher-era economic reforms had been accomplished in Britain, only for the Conservatives to be voted out immediately afterwards.
Olmert said Wednesday that Kadima would not give up any of the three senior portfolios - the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry or the Finance Ministry. But Kadima Minister Meir Sheetrit speculated earlier in the day that the party would have to yield one of the three, given the limited number of seats Kadima won.

Over at Labor, Peretz met Wednesday with party director-general MK Eitan Cabel and faction whip Ephraim Sneh to discuss the party's coalition negotiating team.

Labor sources told Haaretz that either Cabel or former justice minister David Libai will probably head the team, which is likely to consist of MKs Isaac Herzog, Yuli Tamir and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer.

In the coalition talks between Kadima and Labor, which began in an unofficial capacity Tuesday night, Peretz is expected to demand one senior portfolio, most likely the Finance Ministry.

Even so, the Labor leader could be willing to take the defense portfolio if he receives Kadima's promise to push through socio-economic legislation, including a hike in the minimum wage and universal pensions. A veto on the next state budget is also likely to be one of his conditions.

Sheetrit said Wednesday that it would be possible to form a government without Labor, and did not rule out the possibility of incorporating Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu into the coalition. He noted, however, that right-wing governments oppose Olmert's plan for unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank, giving them a slim chance of being invited into the government.

Other reactions:

David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy:
[T]there is bad news for those of us who believe that Israel's inept and corrupt version of social democracy has been stifling economic growth there for years. The new "Pensioners Party" won 7 out of the 120 seats. I don't know much about this party, but I've seen it described as "socialist." Even if it's not, the last thing Israel needs is a domestic equivalent of the AARP holding decisive votes in the Knesset. Meanwhile, the Labor Party, led by former union leader Amir Peretz, did better than expected with 20 seats, running largely on a "social justice" (i.e., big government) platform. The religious Separdic Shas Party, which made increased transfer payments from the government its major issue, won 13 seats.

The Likud Party, meanwhile, garnered only around 11 seats, in part, analysts seem to agree, because voters chose to punish party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who as finance minister pushed through free-market economic reforms and budget cuts that rescued the Israeli economy from a nasty Intifada and tech-collapse induced recession.

Stephen Pollard observes:

The main sense in which Israel has turned left, however, has little to do with issues of security and foreign policy. Likud collapsed not because of its stance vis-a-vis the West Bank and the Palestinians, but because it was led by Bibi Netanyahu, who as finance minister was responsible for some hugely unpopular (but wholly necessaary and successful) reforms to the economy. Labour ran a campaign under Amir Peretz, the former Histradut Trade Union federation leader, almost wholly focussed on those reforms and the economy.

Israel, it must never be forgotten, was founded as a socialist country, and in its heart largely remains that. Labour's tactics were thus bound to strike a chord with many voters who disliked the more bracing economic world which Netanyahu recognised needed to be acknowledged. I was in Israel during part of the campaign, and this was an obvious factor.

And here's some news about Rafi Eitan, the head of the Pensioner's Party, that I did not know:
The biggest winners last night were niche interest groups, such as a party lobbying for retirees' rights headed by a former Mossad agent, 79-year-old Rafi Eitan. Seen largely as a protest vote against belt-tightening fiscal policies, the Retiree Party won eight Knesset seats, turning it into a necessary linchpin in any coalition government.

But many of its voters, which, according to exit polls, included some young people who sympathized with the plight of retirees whose incomes were cut, were unaware that Mr. Eitan has become wealthy through doing business in Cuba, where profits must be shared with the communist dictator Fidel Castro. Mr. Eitan turned to Cuba after being barred from even visiting America, where he is wanted for his role in the Jonathan Pollard spying scandal.

For a lengthy recent interview with Rafi Eitan on his involvement with Jonathan Pollard, see this story in YNET.

As for Netanyahu's fate, I sure would not count him out prematurely. I remember all too clearly the days when the conventional wisdom was that Sharon was finished forever politically.

Linked with Outside the Beltway

Return to the Apocalypse

A must read column today from Amir Taheri on the long term strategy of Iran as given shape by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose vision of the future is bolstered and shaped by his belief in the coming apocalypse between Muslims and non-believers in Islam and the arrival of the 12th hidden Imam:
...Mr. Ahmadinejad's defiant rhetoric is based on a strategy known in Middle Eastern capitals as "waiting Bush out." "We are sure the U.S. will return to saner policies," says Manuchehr Motakki, Iran's new Foreign Minister.

Mr. Ahmadinejad believes that the world is heading for a clash of civilizations with the Middle East as the main battlefield. In that clash Iran will lead the Muslim world against the "Crusader-Zionist camp" led by America. Mr. Bush might have led the U.S. into "a brief moment of triumph." But the U.S. is a "sunset" (ofuli) power while Iran is a sunrise (tolu'ee) one and, once Mr. Bush is gone, a future president would admit defeat and order a retreat as all of Mr. Bush's predecessors have done since Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also notes that Iran has just "reached the Mediterranean" thanks to its strong presence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. He used that message to convince Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to adopt a defiant position vis-a-vis the U.N. investigation of the murder of Rafiq Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon. His argument was that once Mr. Bush is gone, the U.N., too, will revert to its traditional lethargy. "They can pass resolutions until they are blue in the face," Mr. Ahmadinejad told a gathering of Hezbollah, Hamas and other radical Arab leaders in Tehran last month.

According to sources in Tehran and Damascus, Mr. Assad had pondered the option of "doing a Gadhafi" by toning down his regime's anti-American posture. Since last February, however, he has revived Syria's militant rhetoric and dismissed those who advocated a rapprochement with Washington. Iran has rewarded him with a set of cut-price oil, soft loans and grants totaling $1.2 billion. In response Syria has increased its support for terrorists going to fight in Iraq and revived its network of agents in Lebanon, in a bid to frustrate that country's democratic ambitions.

It is not only in Tehran and Damascus that the game of "waiting Bush out" is played with determination. In recent visits to several regional capitals, this writer was struck by the popularity of this new game from Islamabad to Rabat. The general assumption is that Mr. Bush's plan to help democratize the heartland of Islam is fading under an avalanche of partisan attacks inside the U.S. The effect of this assumption can be witnessed everywhere....
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Allah Fish

Is the allah fish weirder...or less weird than the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese selling for $28,000 and/or the Virgin Mary image in the Window?

Or exactly the same?

Check here for the video.

Michelle Malkin has more extensive coverage - showing photos of all the odd Allah symbols that have regaled and amused and baffled us of late days.

[Hat Tip: LGF]

Even the Chinese Heard About the Syrians Getting Ahold of the WMD

According to Iraqi Intelligence Document: ISGZ-2004-028179, from the Iraqi Files now publicly released.

Even the Chinese received intelligence that the WMD went to Syria, and this by January 10, 2003.

B. He mentioned that a meeting in Beijing in the beginning of this month was held between the Prime minister of China and the German Chancellor Schroeder in the occasion of the opening project for the fast train and the latter was asked about the information that was obtained by the Chinese intelligence and it says that Iraq has moved his mass of destruction weapon to Syria and the German Chancellor told him that the German intelligence did not indicate this. And after two days the US state secretary went to Damascus to check on this with the Syrian government that in turn denied this news...
I wonder if the Chinese also knew the Russians delivered them?

[Hat Tip: Barcepundit]

Israel Exit Polls

UPDATE: After counting 94.3% of the votes, Kadima gets 29 seats
Followed by Labor with 20, Shas 12, Likud 12, Israel Beitenu 11, NU/NRP 8, Pensioners 8, UTJ 6 and Meretz 5.

EXIT POLLS: KADIMA 29-32; LABOR 20-22; LIKUD 11-12

Israel Beitenu [right] gets 12-14 seats, surpassing Likud as third-largest party; pensioners shock with 6-8 mandates.

Vital Perspective has more detail on the breakdown.

JPOD, at the Corner offers his analysis of the results.

Unmistakably Smelly

Christopher Hitchens, no friend of Israel, as he makes clear in the article, delivers his normal trenchant analysis on the now notorious Mearsheimer and Walt Jewish Lobby paper.
Mearsheimer and Walt belong to that vapid school that essentially wishes that the war with jihadism had never started. Their wish is father to the thought that there must be some way, short of a fight, to get around this confrontation. Wishfulness has led them to seriously mischaracterize the origins of the problem and to produce an article that is redeemed from complete dullness and mediocrity only by being slightly but unmistakably smelly.
And Vital Perspectives lets us know that:
Stephen M. Walt, the academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the co-author of "The Israel Lobby" will resign his administrative post on June 30. He will remain at the school as a professor. School officials deny that there is any relation between this move and the paper.
Uh huh. That latter point definitely rings "true."


As of 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, only 47 percent of Israel's five million eligible voters had turned out at Israel's 8,000 polling stations to cast their ballots. The figure is much lower than that at the same time on election day 2003.


Evidently, voter turnout in Israel is at historical lows.

30.9% cast their ballots by 2 p.m.

People seem uninspired by the choices, or perhaps, given the situation with Hamas, just unclear about who best to trust.

Although Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteni appears likely to be gaining seats, into the double digits.

Moshe Arens comments on the lack of discussion on the Israeli-Arab issue.

Daniel Pipes discusses Israel shunning talk of Victory - none of the parties discuss a victory strategy openly, as though the whole thing is now taboo.

Is this refusal to address key issues directly adding to the uninspirational nature of the vote today?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Student Exchange

This sounds worthwhile:
Yasser Arafat failed to understand Western mentality and Western culture, according to Al-Quds University Professor Muhammad S. Dajani. Along with four graduate students in Al-Quds's American Studies program, Dajani is spending the next two weeks at Jewish-founded Brandeis University.

Dajani, whose stay at Brandeis is being funded as part of a $500,000 Ford Foundation Grant meant to bolster Al-Quds University, said he feared that Hamas "will also fail to understand how to deal with the United States."

... .

Dajani, who founded and directs Al-Quds's American Studies Institute, said the idea for the program came about when he noticed that Al-Quds University decision-makers at the highest level, as well as administrators, didn't really understand Americans, engaged in a lot of stereotyping about them and held a lot of wrong perceptions.

He said a key part of the program is teaching students to think objectively and rationally rather than to "resolve conflict... through ideologies.

"Part of our culture is to be emotional," said Dajani. "So this is when we discuss issues that are very sensitive like the return of [Palestinian] refugees, try to see solutions that are more rational than emotional."
I certainly disagree about Arafat, who was a deliberate product of the KGB training. Ion Pacepa has a piece about his training here.

However, I think it is great there are some Palestinian professors taking the opportunity to teach rationalism and a fair sense about America to their students. I hope everyone involved benefits from this.

Out of the Mouth of [College] Babes...

Writing in the Yale Daily, Yale Senior James Kirchick discusses the reaction of his fellow Yalies to the presence of Rahmatullah Hashemi on campus.
Outrage over religious fascism ought to be the province of American liberals. But in Hashemi's case it has been almost entirely trumpeted by Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page and right-wing bloggers. A friend of mine recently remarked that part of his and his peers' nonchalance (and in some cases, support for) Hashemi has to do with the fact that the right has seized upon the issue. Our politics have become so polarized that many are willing to take positions based on the inverse of their opponents'. This abandonment of classical liberal values at the expense of political gamesmanship has consequences that reach far beyond Yale; it hurts our national discourse.
Well yeah. that's the reason for the very odd and immoral alliance between extreme left and religio-fascistic government and religious oligarchies these days. Some people on the left are willing to overlook a whole lot in their "allies" because they share a loathing of Bush.

[Hat Tip: Best of the Web]

Are the AIPAC Charges Unconstitutional?

Judge: AIPAC charges may be based on unconstitutional law
A federal judge on Friday questioned the constitutionality of a law under which two former lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee have been charged with receiving and disclosing national defense information to reporters and foreign diplomats...

The law has rarely been used, and has never before been applied to lobbyists. Ellis said the case has moved into "new, uncharted waters," and that the defense's request for dismissal must be reviewed with strict scrutiny because of the potential impact on First Amendment rights.

The Russian Connection

Gateway Pundit has a post with links detailing ties between the Russians and Saddam's Iraq in the days before the war began and the question of whether they gave the Iraqis the US war plan:

Gateway Pundit: Ouch! Photos Show Iraqi & Russian Defense Reps Days Before War!

I turned on a few minutes of Meet The Press yesterday, because I wanted to see Condi, and there's Timmy Boy acting shocked! shocked! by this Russian development. And still bringing up the President's words about Putin delivered after 9/11, when Putin was in a different frame of mine than he was during Iraq. Condi had to remind Tim that Russia didn't support the Iraq War. You would think these high priced journalists would be able to keep better informed. Or alternately ask new questions, not the same old ones they have been asking in precisely the same formulas for years now.

Can't they dust off their brain cells?

But as for the reason the latest Russian development doesn't surprise me?

I read the Bill Gertz article when it was written. And I have kept current with highly informed speculation, from former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense John A. Shaw, that it was Russian soldiers who moved Saddam's WMD to Syria.
"The short answer to the question of where the WMD Saddam bought from the Russians went was that they went to Syria and Lebanon," former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense John A. Shaw told an audience Saturday at a privately sponsored "Intelligence Summit" in Alexandria, Va. (
Implying of course a high level military relationship between the Russians and the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein.

But the reason why none of this surprised me in the least is this article by Ion Pacepa, former Romanian spy chief before he defected to the West - the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc, written in 2003. Pacepa surely knows more - through trained intuition and experience - about the mentality of how these Russian bureaus work from the inside out than almost anyone else currently writing in the free press and willing to shine a revelatory light on it.
As a former Romanian spy chief who used to take orders from the Soviet KGB, it is perfectly obvious to me that Russia is behind the evanescence of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. After all, Russia helped Saddam get his hands on them in the first place. The Soviet Union and all its bloc states always had a standard operating procedure for deep sixing weapons of mass destruction - in Romanian it was codenamed "Sarindar, meaning "emergency exit."I implemented it in Libya. It was for ridding Third World despots of all trace of their chemical weapons if the Western imperialists ever got near them. We wanted to make sure they would never be traced back to us, and we also wanted to frustrate the West by not giving them anything they could make propaganda with.
Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Michael Ledeen has more.

ML: Yeah, and someone commented that the Russians seemed to know, even before we did, that the Turks were going to say no to our request to use their NATO bases to send our guys into northern Iraq.

JJA: Indeed. That information probably came from the French and Germans, who were blackmailing the Turks at the time.
ML: In the past few days there have been lots of articles about hostile Russian espionage operations, as if that were news. Why should people find that surprising?

JJA: Because the United States long since stopped even pretending to be serious about counterintelligence. When Bush made Negroponte intelligence czar, the top two counterintelligence officials at DoD resigned on the spot, because they lost their independence.

ML: I noticed that. Haven't they been replaced?

JJA: I don't think so. And Negroponte, in case you haven't noticed, has been an enormous roadblock in the matter of the Harmony documents. My sources tell me that the president had to order the release at least three times, with mounting decibels, before they finally started to trickle onto the web.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Journalists and the War

From two interviews on Hugh Hewitt's radio show:

The first, Hugh Hewitt interviews Christopher Hitchens and this is how it concludes:
HH: Well then, in 30 seconds, if the Democratic Party returns to power in this country, you get thirty seconds now, what happens?

CH: I'll just tell you something a very senior person at a well-known network. I know this sounds a bit odd, but I just can't tell you who he is or which network. I don't have the right to do it. But you'll have to believe me, okay?

HH: Okay.

CH: He called me the other day. This is not a guy who's in any way a conservative, and said you know, we've known each other for a bit. He said you know, I'm beginning to think you must be right, because it really worries me what we're doing, when we are giving the other side the impression that all they need to do is hang on until the end of this administration. Do people know what they're doing when they're doing this? One doesn't have to make any allegation of disloyalty, but just...if it worries him, as it really does, I think it should worry other people, too, and it certainly worries me.

After that, and following from Christopher's point, Hewitt interviews Glenn Reynolds, of Instanpundit:
HH: And today, Glenn Reynolds, I want to ask you both about this. New documents indicating contacts between al Qaeda, and specifically Osama bin Laden, and Saddam's people came to light, a '95 document, 2001 document. Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly writes, so what? I mean, that's his quote. So what? What do you do to that, Instapundit?

GR: You laugh at it. I mean, you just have to note that people are out of touch with reality. One thing I've noticed about the press, by the way, the defensiveness I've seen in the last week or two illustrates a couple of things. I think first it shows that even they realize that they've gone too far and overplayed their hand, and it's likely to come back to bite them. The other thing I think they've figured out is imagine that in fact, what they're doing succeeds, that we do lose the war, that it is seen as another Vietnam. A substantial portion of the American public, 30, 40%, at least, is going to blame them and hold a grudge that will last decades. Now is that a position they want to be in? Because that's what's going to happen, and they will have earned it.

Stages of the Koran

From Ruth Gledhill's blog, here's a way to explain the degrees of varying aggressiveness in countries with Moslem populace.

The Qur'an is not written in chronological order. It is possible however to link the different parts of the Qur'an to different periods of Mohammed's life, each characterized by a slightly different philosophy. During the early part of his ministry in Mecca, his followers were few in number, and the peaceful passages all come from this period. During the Medinan period, his followers had grown in numbers, were stronger and much more influential and this is reflected in much more adversarial attitude. The third period, marked by the return to and conquest of Mecca gives us an altogether different picture of Islam and an intolerance of other religions. Surah 2.256 was thus abrogated by a later verse, composed after Mohammed had conquered Mecca and was preparing his new Muslim empire for Jihad against the non-Muslim world: "Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush" (Surah 9.5). This "verse of the sword" not only abrogates 2.256, but also abrogates well over a hundred earlier verses that formerly taught peace and tolerance toward non-believers.'

[Scottish academic Graham] Spence continues: 'When you look at Mohammed's life in conjunction with the Qur'an and the Hadiths you can see a pattern that is reflected in the Islamic world today. In Islamic societies which are complete i.e. have some form of Shariah law and are therefore closest to Mohammed's third period, you see these aggressive attitudes to other religions writ large. In those who are closest to the second period, such as the Mogul rule of India, there is more tolerance, and in those where Muslims are a minority, such as the UK and France the philosophy of the first period applies.

In places like northern Nigeria we are seeing a transition from stage two to stage three. Some argue that in the UK, France and Holland we are seeing a transition from stage one to stage two.'
Hit tip Melanie Phillips

The Ivy League Moral Wilderness

The dementia which has gripped much of the leftist intellectual elite is spreading through the Ivy League, once-upon-a-time the most prestigious universities in America. Harvard fired its president and published anti-Semitic claptrap, Yale invites the Goebbels of the Taliban to be a student, and Columbia has a Middle Eastern Studies department where Jewish students complain of harassment, and has accepted money from Libyan dictator Ghadafi and hosted a speech (via television) in which he called for the overthrow of democracy.

Now there is a new scandal at Columbia brought to our attention by the NYSun, my favorite newspaper.

Unfortunately subscriber only, but more details are cited at The American Thinker.

And speaking of the Taliban kerfuffle at Yale, it now turns out that "uber-liberal" Yale university preferred to accept former Taliban spokesman Ramatullah Hashemi, with his fourth grade education, rather than any talented women repressed under the Taliban who had to study in secret, at the risk of their lives.
A statement from Yale University, defending its decision to admit former Taliban spokesman Ramatullah Hashemi, explained that he had "escaped the wreckage of Afghanistan." To anyone who is aware of the Taliban's barbaric treatment of the Afghan people, such words are offensive--as if Mr. Hashemi were not himself part of the wrecking crew. It is even more disturbing to learn that, while Mr. Hashemi sailed through Yale's admissions process, the school turned down the opportunity to enroll women who really did escape the wreckage of Afghanistan.

In 2002, Yale received a letter from Paula Nirschel, the founder of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. The purpose of the organization, begun in that year, was to match young women in post-Taliban Afghanistan to U.S. colleges, where they could pursue a degree. Ms. Nirschel asked Yale if it wanted to award a spot in its next entering class to an Afghan woman. Yale declined.
Is that, perchance, because men are now at far more of a premium at American Universities, since women are now in the majority?

Rumsfeld Love

Saying before the cameras what so many people think:

Gateway Pundit has the goods on a Rumsfeld-CNN reporter exchange:
Reporter: "Do you feel embattled at this point in your tenure? In a recent column, Maureen Dowd quoted an unidentified administration official who described you as an "eccentric old uncle who's ignored." She claims that you don't hold the same sway in meetings."

Rumsfeld: "Did you get all that? You want to be on camera, right? That’s a sure way to get on the evening news. The answer to your question is no."

Reporter: "Well, I'm asking about the facts reported in the column. Do you feel you hold the same sway in meetings?"

Rumsfeld: "I'm not going to comment on that."

(Pause)- Rumsfeld looks away for a moment, then...

Rumsfeld: "If you believe everything you read in Maureen Dowd, you better get a life."
And, then there was Rumsfeld to Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon reporter:

"I'm rather old fashioned, I like to engage my brain before
my mouth."

Gateway Pundit: Rumsfeld: "If you believe Maureen Dowd, you better get a life!"

The video is at Expose The Left.

The amazing thing is that ostensibly the reporter actually does believe what he reads in a Maureen Dowd article, else why would he have quoted it. When appearing to believe it makes him seem like a naive, credulous and suckered fool.

[UPDATE] Jay Nordlinger adds:
This reminded me of an interview I had with him ... in November 2003. I wrote all this up, for NR, in a piece called "Air Rummy: A conversation with the secretary of defense — and the missus."

Here is an excerpt:

I ask [Rumsfeld whether he reads] Maureen Dowd, the New York Times columnist who regularly makes sport of him. He allows that he reads the headline and the first paragraph or two. Then, having gotten the drift, he quits. "Do you know her?" he asks me. "No," I say, "but you've been good for her career." He responds: "I'm not so sure about that - that this has been good for her career." A highly interesting point, which there is too little time to pursue.
I think that point still holds. She may be a superstar on the far left, but she seems absolutely without any intellectual heft on the right.

The London March for Freedom of Expression

David T. at Harry's Place has the idea of an appropriate slogan at the London Freedom of expression March, that Judith at Kesher Talk discusses.
Read the rest of his post to see why he feels that way.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Taliban at Yale: More Mutual Massaging

John Fund has another piece on the saga of the Taliban at Yale and the moral failure that allowed him to gain admission:
Back in the early 1990s, when he was dean of Yale College, Yale history professor Don Kagan warned about what he called the university's "mutual massage" between value-neutral professors and soft-minded students. He is even more critical now: "The range of debate on campus is more narrow than ever today, and the Taliban incident is a wake-up call that moral relativism is totally unexamined here. The ability of students to even think clearly about patriotism and values is being undermined by faculty members who believe that at heart every problem has a U.S. origin." Mr. Kagan isn't optimistic that Yale will respond to outside pressure. "They have a $15 billion endowment, and I know Yale's governing board is handpicked to lick the boots of the president," he told me. "The only way Yale officials can be embarrassed is if a major donor publicly declares he is no longer giving to them. Otherwise, they simply don't care what the outside world thinks."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Mr. Zarqawi's Brilliant Tactic

Christopher Hitchens has a must-read column up today in the WSJ, that points out the insanity of blaming 'Iraq's Imminent Civil War' on Bush:
In February 2004, our Kurdish comrades in northern Iraq intercepted a courier who was bearing a long message from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to his religious guru Osama bin Laden.... Zarqawi wrote of Iraq's largest confessional group [the Shi'ites] that: "These in our opinion are the key to change. I mean that targeting and hitting them in their religious, political and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies . . . and bare the teeth of the hidden rancor working in their breasts. If we succeed in dragging them into the arena of sectarian war, it will become possible to awaken the inattentive Sunnis as they feel imminent danger."

Some of us wrote about this at the time, to warn of the sheer evil that was about to be unleashed. Knowing that their own position was a tenuous one (a fact fully admitted by Zarqawi in his report) the cadres of "al Qaeda in Mesopotamia" understood that their main chance was the deliberate stoking of a civil war. And, now that this threat has become more imminent and menacing, it is somehow blamed on the Bush administration. "Civil war" has replaced "the insurgency" as the proof that the war is "unwinnable." But in plain truth, the "civil war" is and always was the chief tactic of the "insurgency."
In point of fact, by taking up this cry and pointing it against President Bush, the left has now - unwittingly for the most part, but not I imagine, entirely - allowed itself to become the very instrument of Al Qaeda, pointed at the breast of the West.

Useful idiots, indeed.

At Belmont Club Wretchard notices a similar phenomenon:
It was Zarqawi and his cohorts themselves who changed the terms of reference from fighting US forces to sparking a 'civil war'. With any luck, they'll lose that campaign too.

Morally Bananas

Van, a co-blogger at Kesher Talk writes of a new study by a Harvard led team of Human Resources researchers who worry that problems may arise from employees who are biased and don't even know it.
[I]t is entirely possible that you and your manager are biased–and that you don't even know it.
He compares this, in effect if not in intent, fairly enough to my mind, to Stalin's charging his enemies with the thought crime of being Trotsky-ites.

Still, I'm a bit taken with the notion of unconscious bias, which does have a place in the study of some of the issues du jour. Sometimes this bias can be so large and so unconscious, it becomes a spectacle in and of itself.

First of all, there is the case of the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish lobby "position paper" by Harvard Professor Stephen Walt and University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer, recently published in the London Review of Books, with a longer version released as a Harvard Kennedy School working paper.  

Strangely enough, the position that they take, meets with the perfect approval of Klansmen David Duke, who claims that their position vindicates what he has always stated about Israel and the Jewish lobby.
"I have read about the report and read one summary already, and I am surprised how excellent it is," he said in an e-mail. "It is quite satisfying to see a body in the premier American University essentially come out and validate every major point I have been making since even before the war even started." Duke added that "the task before us is to wrest control of America's foreign policy and critical junctures of media from the Jewish extremist Neocons that seek to lead us into what they expectantly call World War IV."

Mr. Walt said last night, "I have always found Mr. Duke's views reprehensible, and I am sorry he sees this article as consistent with his view of the world."

"I think that the people who wrote that report were working for the interest of the American people," a senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's guidance council, Abdulmo'em Abulfotah, said yesterday. "I ask a question here: Is it in the interest of the American people to clash with 1.3 billion people in favor of 5 million people who represent the Zionist project? Not even the Jews, but the Zionists."
You know something may be a bit off with your argument when your most vocal supporters turn out to be David Duke and the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood. Most likely not the target supporters they were aiming for.

But it does speak volumes...

There is also the case of Yale University's reaction to having a bonafide Taliban supporter and spokesman in their midst. Debate on the issue appears to be verboten by many of the students, as well as the Yale Administration, which has dealt with public criticism by refusing to address the topic.

Invite the Taliban, kick out the US military.

There are students, however, writing in support of Hashemi's presence at Yale. Here's an example, from earlier this month, in the Yale Daily News:
...there is no better way to develop a clearer understanding of our differences and similarities to the Afghani (sic) people than to invite Hashemi to learn in our system. Despite our anxieties, we must maintain the energy and tolerance to seek the origins of other ideologies. If Hashemi's voice were absent from University discourse, we would risk crippling our perception of today's world.

It's amusing then to note, as Penraker points out yet another editorial from the Yale Daily News, from today:
 Is gay marriage immoral? Merely asking the question infuriates many Yale students. In response, they walk away in a huff, angry and indignant -- they don't engage the questioner at all. Those who do engage skirt the content of the question, responding with a theme of their own: "How can you question the personal choices of others?" or "Don't impose your opinions on me!"

...The question is illegitimate only under the condition that a moral standard does not exist. But Yale students are quite committed to the existence of a moral standard. Consider the extensive moralizing on campus: It is wrong to eat a banana that is not fair trade, the administration is wrong with regard to financial aid, a student is in error when he does not recycle, others err in committing theft while riding bicycles, Perrotti is bad if he reports on skin color, the University is bad if it invests in Darfur, the Iranian president is wicked, Larry Summers is misogynistic and so on.
Got that. The existence of a moral standard at Yale is apparent to all and sundry because of the extensive moralizing on campus.

It is wrong to eat a banana that is not fair trade.

And simultaneously:

Hashemi's absence on campus would risk crippling our perception of today's world.

In this case, the scale of right and wrong seems curiously biased towards the show of moral sentiment over moral seriousness. Or, so open-minded that all the polarities appear to be reversed.

A banana becomes a moral issue. But Mr. Hashemi's presence, as a representative of multi-culturalism, is too sacred to judge.

Maybe Iraq really is like Vietnam...

But not the way you think!
The last time Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Baghdad, back in December, the top U.S. military commander there gave him an unusual gift.

Gen. George Casey passed him a copy of "Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam," written by Lt. Col. John Nagl. Initially published in 2002, the book is brutal in its criticism of the Vietnam-era Army as an organization that failed to learn from its mistakes and tried vainly to fight guerrilla insurgents the same way it fought World War II...

Col. Nagl's book is one of a half dozen Vietnam histories -- most of them highly critical of the U.S. military in Vietnam -- that are changing the military's views on how to fight guerrilla wars. Two other books that have also become must-reading among senior Army officers are retired Col. Lewis Sorley's "A Better War," which chronicles the last years of the Vietnam War, and Col. H.R. McMaster's "Dereliction of Duty," which focuses on the early years.

The embrace of these Vietnam histories reflects an emerging consensus in the Army that in order to move forward in Iraq, it must better understand the mistakes of Vietnam.

In the past, it was commonly held in military circles that the Army failed in Vietnam because civilian leaders forced it to fight a limited war instead of the all-out assault it longed to wage. That belief helped shape the doctrine espoused in the 1980s by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Colin Powell. They argued that the military should fight only wars in which it could apply quick, overwhelming force to destroy the enemy.

The newer analyses of Vietnam are now supplanting that theory -- and changing the way the Army fights. The argument that the military must exercise restraint is a central point of the Army's new counterinsurgency doctrine. The doctrine, which runs about 120 pages and is still in draft form, is a handbook on how to wage guerrilla wars.
So the next time you hear Andrew someone scream that if only Rumsfeld had increased the troops levels considerably, the war would already be won, you'll know just how much weight to accord that idea. That doctrine turns out to have been born from a now discredited analysis of what went wrong militarily in Vietnam.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

School for Propaganda

Writing in FrontPage Magazine, Lee Kaplan reveals the mechanics of the propaganda operation that is the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), when it hosted its fifth annual divestment conference at Georgetown University. He and many members of his organization - Stop the ISM - had to attend in disguise in order to gain admittance - otherwise they would not have been granted entry.

It is largely due to Kaplan's work that Israel now treats the ISM, not as a "fringe “leftist” group of starry-eyed “peace activists” [but as] what it really is: an arm of the PLO allied and supported by U.S. anarchists and communists bent on Israel’s destruction."

Not incidentally, Georgetown University was recently, and rather notoriously, the recipient of a $20 million dollar grant from Alwaleed Bin Talal, the Saudi philanthropist to whom Rudy Giuliani handed back a $10 million check after 9/11. Bin Talal also helped fund the families of martyrs suicide bombers during the last Intifada.

Here's a look at how a command of the facts disables the propagandists, as Lee Kaplan converses with a co-founder of the ISM, Huwaida Arraf:
I had just settled into a seat in the first row when I was approached by Mrs. Adam Shapiro, a co-founder of the ISM herself, Huwaida Arraf.
Huwaida greeted me: “Mr. Kaplan, I understand you think I’m a terrorist.” I replied, “No, Huwaida, I never said you were a terrorist in my articles, just a terrorist supporter and enabler.”
Huwaida knew that I had a tape recording of her saying at the previous Duke Conference that the ISM works willingly in cooperation with terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the PFLP. She confirmed this when she wrote a letter to the Washington Post just days earlier that was subsequently printed in which she admitted again working with such groups, but claiming that because she considers herself nonviolent that it is ok to do so.
She can say anything she wants about being nonviolent, but she and her followers in the ISM have confirmed they function as human shields for Palestinians who engage in terrorism. The Patriot Act is clear about not lending logistical or any other type of aid to any terrorist group. That’s enough to get her indicted if only Homeland Security would do its job. She repeated in front of me again that she works with these terrorist groups “nonviolently,” then complained that as a “Palestinian” with Israeli citizenship through her father she could not “go back to the village she came from.”
“But, Huwaida,” I replied. “You were born in the United States. Besides, Arab-Israelis have equal civil rights by law in Israel and you know it.”  Stunned at my reply showing I knew her real history, she said, “As an Arab I am discriminated against whenever I go to Israel.”  I replied, “Huwaida you go in and out of Israel constantly for the ISM urging the end of Israel, so your claims of discrimination are just not true.” Suddenly, she had to dash away.

Hollywood Finally Gets One Right

But not in the way you think.

From the annals of "It takes a Moonbat to play a Moonbat."

Susan Sarandon is set to play Cindi Sheehan in a new biopic on the anti-war virago, who is famous for such lines as Get the Troops Out of Occupied New Orleans and Bush is a worse terrorist than Osama bin Laden.

I can't imagine it will take much of an effort for Sarandon. Which is why, after all, it is perfect casting. She'll simply have to de-glamorize herself a bit more and then emote. And express outrage at President Bush and the evil right-wing in Amerika. Since all the emotion will be in line with what she already feels, absolutely no acting chops are required.

But how much more appropriate is this bit of casting than hiring left wing Nicholas Cage as the hero of the first movie about 9/11, written and directed by Oliver Stone.

I am curious though about who is funding this. Nary a Hollywood portrayal of a brave soldier has emerged from Hollywood in the last three years. Meanwhile, Cindi Sheehan, All American Heroine, has a reality series filming her and a one woman show in London.

Here is Cindi Sheehan in her own words:
But Cindy Sheehan isn't apologizing for her anger. "How can your rage not increase when every day something comes out that says my son should still be alive, that the reasons for this war are bogus? ... I'm not an extreme wacko -- I'm with the mainstream on this. I don't think it's naive or wacky to be upset that we're still killing people to solve our problems."

In fact, she wishes people to know that she's a nice person. She says that when people meet her, their biggest surprise, other than discovering she stands 6 feet tall, is that she has a great sense of humor.

Not an extreme wacko - and with the mainstream -- uh huh. Why that statement is an indicator all by itself. Moreover, I always find it a tad worrisome when people have to explain to you that they have a great sense of humor!

I imagine, don't you, that this biopic will have all the sophistication and nuance of the Rachel Corrie production in London. Which, as even the NYTimes reviewer puts it, cloaks its [ideological] stand as high moral sentiment" while refusing to admit it is taking a stand except for the "truth."

By the way, in Britain there has actually been some public discussion of late of the fact that the arts are all being written and controlled by people in ideological leftist lockstep.
The arts are stuck in a "lazy" and outdated left wing mindset, says Oscar winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes. The Conservative-supporting actor and writer backed calls by National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner for a "good, mischievous right wing play".

Mr Fellowes, who won an Oscar for Gosford Park, said the arts in Britain were dominated by 1960s attitudes.

He said it was bad for society that these "orthodoxies" had not been challenged.

"It's created a kind of laziness in the arts", Mr Fellowes told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"These opinions are given out as truths and part of that is the demonisation of the right so that now the phrase 'right wing play' conjures up images of jackboots clunking over the cobbles at dawn."

He added: "There are all sorts of interesting areas for the right wing playwright to get into - the subversion of parliament, the intrusion of government into every day life.

"You could write a play about any of these things and technically it would be a right wing play but the phrase 'right wing' has now been kind of cast out into the shadows.

"And really, for the post sixties generation, it was not respectable intellectually not to agree with them. And that, I think is not good for any society. Everything has to be challenged, preferably by the arts."
Imagine that. The possibility of the arts challenging the respectable, socially acceptable, leftist herd mentality from the right - not the far left.

In these days, it seems like a dream to me.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Is Islam Compatible With Democracy? II

Last week I ran a post on whether Islam was compatible with democracy - based on a lecture that Ann Althouse attended. The answer was a tentative yes, depending on whether a suitable model could be found in which was religious law was housed outside the apparatus of the state.

Today, war supporter David Warren deals with the same question in his review of the Bush Administration's decision to go to war in Iraq, and the answer he comes up with is far less sure.

Last week we ran a post on whether Islam was compatible with democracy - based on a lecture that Ann Althouse attended. The answer was a tentative yes, depending on whether a suitable model could be found in which was religious law was housed outside the apparatus of the state.

Today, war supporter David Warren deals with the same question in his review of the Bush Administration's decision to go to war in Iraq, and the answer he comes up with is far less sure.

Mr Bush was staking his bet on the assumption that the Islamists were not speaking for Islam; that the world’s Muslims long for modernity; that they are themselves repelled by the violence of the terrorists; that, most significantly, Islam is in its nature a religion that can be “internalized”, like the world’s other great religions, and that the traditional Islamic aspiration to conjoin worldly political with otherworldly spiritual authority had somehow gone away. It didn’t help that Mr Bush took for his advisers on the nature of Islam, the paid operatives of Washington’s Council on American-Islamic Relations, the happyface pseudo-scholar Karen Armstrong, or the profoundly learned but terminally vain Bernard Lewis. Each, in a different way, assured him that Islam and modernity were potentially compatible.

The question, “But what if they are not?” was never seriously raised, because it could not be raised behind the mud curtain of political correctness that has descended over the Western academy and intelligentsia. The idea that others see the world in a way that is not only incompatible with, but utterly opposed to, the way we see it, is the thorn ever-present in the rose bushes of multiculturalism. “Ideas have consequences”, and the idea that Islam imagines itself in a fundamental, physical conflict with everything outside of itself, is an idea with which people in the contemporary West are morally and intellectually incapable of coming to terms. Hence our continuing surprise at everything from bar-bombings in Bali, to riots in France, to the Danish cartoon apoplexy.

My own views on the issue have been aloof. More precisely, they have been infected with cowardice. I am so “post-modern” myself that I, too, find it almost impossible to think through the corollaries from our world’s hardest fact. And that fact is: the post-Christian West is out of its depth with Islam.

I've been made to confront the fact that I also had a Hegelian sense that the outcome to the Iraq War would more likely be progress, as opposed to leading to corrosive, ongoing chaos. Although I always saw the overall confrontation as a very long one, indeed, like the Cold War. But it seemed to me far more likely that there would be a positive than a negative outcome, though I recognized it as a gamble.

Cliff May notes one of the many factors keeping us from victory, which was unclear to many people before the war began, which is related to the efficacy of the propaganda war:
In a conventional war, if one side has tanks, fighter jets, submarines and similar weapons, while the other side does not, who wins? The answer is obvious.

In an unconventional war, if one side has suicide bombers, license to kidnap, torture and violate the laws of war while the other side must refrain from deploying such weapons and abide by all the rules, who wins? The answer, I'm afraid, may be equally obvious.

The West is now in a funny position. If it decides not to yield on any of its internal values in order to be true to itself in this confrontation, it may very well lose the wider war; which will make it that much more difficult to be true to its values.

But most of the representative organs, such as the media and the academy, etc, continue their myopia in face of what could easily be at stake: namely the freedom of the West, uncensored, in the future.

Not to mention that both the media and the academy seem unable to understand the extent to which they have been consciously propagandized, starting with the USSR, by a system that still uses the same yardstick to measure things.

Physllis Chesler has more on propaganda in the universities now and in the past.
In the war of civilizations that is upon us: Dare to argue for military as well as humanitarian and educational intervention and you will be slandered as a "racist," even when you are arguing for the lives and dignity of brown, black and olive-skinned people. Such cultural relativism is perhaps the greatest failing of the western academic and media establishments.

If we, as Americans, want to continue the struggle for women's and humanity's global freedom, we can no longer allow ourselves to remain inactive, cowed by outdated left and European views of colonial-era racism that are meant to trump and silence concerns about gender, religion and culture.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Great Semen Smuggling Scheme

Semen smuggling attempt thwarted

After receiving authorization to bring a child into the world through artificial insemination, prison staff found a bag containing [Yigal] Amir's semen during a visit [from his wife Larissa] Trimbobler. The visit was stopped immediately and Trimbobler was removed from the prison.

Earlier, the couple received approval in principle to carry out artificial insemination, but it seems that the couple couldn't restrain themselves and wait for the Prisons Authority to allow them to carry out the insemination process.
The least you can say is this smuggling scheme is better than drugs, or bombs or women.

Larissa Trimbobler, Yigal Amir's wife, has denied the charges. As has her family, on her behalf.

Yigal Amir is the convicted murderer of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

I was Zogby Polled!

So I just got my first call from Zogby to poll my opinions:

One of the questions I was asked about was of interest:

To the best of my recollection, it went like this:
In the next NY State Senatorial election, if the candidates are someone who is hawkish on Iraq and has the same position as President Bush and someone who wants the troops to withdraw, who would you vote for?

Don't you love the wording - the same position as President Bush! Someone out there doesn't much like Hillary I thought to myself. So I argued with the very nice lady on the phone with me and said, "that's a false question. They are obviously talking about Hillary and supposing that a Republican will want to withdraw the troops - which is unlikely - unless they are planning on having two Democrats run for Senate.

Sure enough, the very next question was: If Hillary is running in the next election and another candidate who wants to withdraw troops from Iraq, who would you vote for.

I pointed out once again that it was a specious choice, since a Republican would not be wanting to withdraw troops from Iraq; so they have set the question up to sound like two Democrats once again. So I told them I wouldn't vote for either.

So, this is either a way for a competitor to test Hillary's competitiveness, despite her unpopular position in Iraq. Or the more paranoid view would be that Hillary herself wants to know how detrimental her Iraq position is to her popularity.

I wonder who was sponsoring the poll.

UPDATE: The results of another NY State poll on Hillary.

"Is Islam Compatible with Democracy?"

Ann Althouse attends a lecture at her university, given by law school colleague Professor Asifa Quraishi, and provides an account.
What I was tackling in my presentation was the roadblock in this issue that I think is presented by the western tendency to think that the sovereign state should be the location of all law for all of society. Once we are able to re-think the location of legal authority in a society, that some can exist as valid and authoritative, yet outside the realm of public lawmaking mechanisms, then I think that we will have gotten much further to coming up with a system of government and lawmaking and adjudication for Muslim societies that can be (but doesn't have to be, frankly I don't care what it looks like, that's up to them) "democratic" but in a very different model than western nation-state democracies.

I don't have any specific proposal on how this would look, and how it would work (that's something for me to work on for the next several years). I'm just saying that the western model is not the only one, and then I try to push that point by showing how the merging of nation-state model with Islamic law pressures from the people and political movements has actually resulted in the worst of both worlds - i.e. theocratic-type authorities despite the fact that neither Islamic heritage, nor the western model would have chosen that on their own.
Well, we know of at least one functioning Middle East democracy where the sovereign state is not the location of all law for all of society. Though that often irks quite a few of the citizens of that country.

But if Professor Asifa Quraishi is looking for models, there is one, not far off.

Snapshots From the Edge

Chilling recollections of a Polish POW in World War II who was ordered to photograph Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz before they were sent to the crematoriums. And then , later, some of the people whom Mengele experimented on:
For years afterward, photographer Wilhelm Brasse saw them in his dreams -- emaciated Jewish girls, herded naked in front of his camera at Auschwitz.

Eventually, his dreams stopped. But he never took pictures again.

"I didn't return to my profession, because those Jewish kids, and the naked Jewish girls, constantly flashed before my eyes," he said.

"Even more so because I knew that later, after taking their pictures, they would just go to the gas."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

When Mad Messianists Meet

Ahmadinejad and the anti-Zionist sect Neturei Karta agree on one thing. To bring the Messiah - either the Jewish or Islamic version - you must first destroy the state of Israel. Which makes it perfectly natural for them to meet in Iran and join forces, as it were.

Which is why it makes perfect sense that a delegation from Neturei Karta paid a solidarity visit to Iran.
[Neturei Karta] added that they were "upset about the recent ploys, propaganda and tensions which have been created by the West regarding the statements of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about a world free of Zionism, since this is nothing more than wishing for a better world dominated by peace and calm."

It is well known that Neturei Karta has a strict messianic code by which they reject all Jewish intercession in the world - such as a human establishment of the state of Israel - which they believe will set back the coming of the Messiah, who will only come based on God's will at the end of history. But still, this does not quite explain why they join with Ahmadinejad in Holocaust denial:
At the meeting, according to the Iranian news agency IRNA, Weiss "praised the 'enlightening' statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the Holocaust and said the establishment of a Zionist government and occupation of Palestine are contrary to the injunctions of Judaism."
They appear to be in accord with Ahmadinejad that European guilt at the Holocaust was no reason to found the state of Israel. But one wonders why they are ostensibly claiming it didn't happen at all.

Of course, these types, they are not precisely rationalists...

UPDATE: Netrei Karta should meet Bob Persinger who helped liberate Jews from a concentration camp.
Bob Persinger ... remembers half-dead prisoners singing and cheering, and the way he was whipsawed between elation and horror: “They were celebrating like you wouldn't believe, they were so happy. So were we, but on the other hand, we were crying.”
61 years later, he meets one of the Jews from the concentration camp he rescued from imminent death.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Brava Brave Nonie Darwish


Nothing tells you more about Hollywood than what it chooses to honor. Nominated for best foreign-language film is "Paradise Now," a sympathetic portrayal of two suicide bombers. Nominated for best picture is "Munich," a sympathetic portrayal of yesterday's fashion in barbarism: homicide terrorism.

But until you see "Syriana," nominated for best screenplay (and George Clooney, for best supporting actor) you have no idea how self-flagellation and self-loathing pass for complexity and moral seriousness in Hollywood.
So writes Charles Krauthammer in his column Oscars for Osama.

Thank God there still are people in this world who stand up for moral courage - instead of the complex moral quagmire of relativism so prized by the Hollywood click.

One of those people is Nonie Darwish, herself the daughter of a Gazan "martyr" and a very brave woman.

Last Friday she presented a petition with 36,000 signatures on it to the Academy, denouncing its selection of Paradise Now, a film that glorifies suicide bombers and the culture that produces them. That's the petition I had earlier mentioned here.
Nonie Darwish harshly criticized the Palestinian film about two suicide bombers for "putting a human face on the murderers of children."

She warned that if Paradise Now, one of five nominees in the best foreign film category, wins an Oscar at Sunday evening's ceremony, "it will send a message to young Arabs that we are accepted in the West and we have won."
I have no idea if this film will win. But undoubtedly the idiots who vote for it think they are being brave and subversive.

Meanwhile Hany Abu Assad, who made Paradise Now, implies that the Palestinian occupation is worse than the Holocaust, which is why Palestinians behave so much worse than did Jews during the Holocaust:
Even during the Holocaust, people did not strap on a bomb and set out to kill innocent people.

This was a different situation that only lasted six years, Abu-Assad replies, adding that in the first 30 years of occupation there were no suicide bombings. Who knows what would have happened in Germany had the oppression continued for 30 years, he asks rhetorically.

Abu-Assad stresses he is a pacifist who believes any killing is wrong, and that he advocates a non-violent struggle as the right method for obtaining one's goals. However, he states, while he currently has the privilege to make such a stand, in a different situation his moral position may have been different.

In other words, had you been living in the territories, you would have become a shahid (martyr)?

Abu-Assad hesitates for a second before replying, "yes." He recounts an episode in which he was humiliated by a soldier at the Kalandiya checkpoint near Jerusalem, and says this was what made him realize what runs through the heads of people who later become suicide bombers.

You feel like such a coward it kills you, he describes, saying this cowardice makes people start hating life and feel impotent.

I realized, Abu-Assad explains, that when a man systematically goes through such humiliation, he chooses to kill his own impotency by carrying out an act of "let me die with the philistines."
So you see, feeling impotent is a perfectly valid excuse for murder and suicide bombing.

I suppose this is also the excuse for honor killing. This woman in my family had sex in a non-controlled setting. I feel impotent. Now we will kill her.

The rationale must go something like that.

God is a Bad Word

The new orthodoxy, in Britain.

So it turns out that Tony Blair, well known to be a religious man, actually did something as shocking as pray to God (gasp!) before he made the decision on War in Iraq.

Shocking, indeed!

It's a truth which dare not say it's name aloud. At least not before the squeamish press.
[P]erhaps, without another election to fight, Mr Blair feels less need to make allowances. If he now feels that he can be truer to himself in public remarks, that is all to the good. But it would be very bad indeed if he set a trend for "doing" God in British politics.
The funniest bit is the evident lack of familiarity of all those who wrote about this great scandal with the mechanics of prayer. They assume that praying to God naturally leads to God responding in kind. As if the only experience they have of the phenomenon is that scene in Love and Death where Diane Keaton tells Napolean she was praying. And when he asks why he heard two voices, she replied, she was playing both parts.

Perhaps they don't realize that that is a comic spoof?

Either that or they are taking Martin Buber's notion of the dialogic relation between God and Man very literally, indeed. Though of course, Tony Blair is a Christian, and Christianity does not precisely share that philosophy.
Liberal Democrats agreed that God should not be part of the [Iraq War] equation.

"It is a bizarre and shocking revelation that the prime minister claims to have been guided by the supernatural in this matter, especially given the particular religious sensitivities in the Middle East," said Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat member of parliament from the Oxford area, who is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.
In other words, those who pray naturally claim that their decisions were guided by the supernatural.

Here's another example:
Roger Bacon, who has been trying unsuccessfully to meet Tony Blair since his son, Major Matthew Bacon, 34, was killed in Iraq, said last night: "This would explain why he won't see the parents. How can he speak to us when God told him to send the troops out to Iraq so our sons could be killed?"
Of course, this man, whose son was killed in Iraq, is apparently distraught. But the Independent dignifies his argument by printing it. As though his response had a direct relation to what Mr. Blair revealed.

And then the other "scandalous" thing Mr. Blair said was to invoke God as the final judge of the Iraq war. In effect, he is saying that since he believes God presides over history, then God will be the final judge of the war, as He will be of everything else.

This seems an obvious comment to make, for a religious person. But somehow it has shocked Britain.

Would they prefer him to lie about what he really believes? Or simply omit it because it is too racy and edgy for the British public. Speak about desiring one's own infantalization. Somehow grown-up concepts are too shocking to say aloud. It's a truth which dare not say it's name. Lie to me, baby.

Of course no Independent article would be complete without an egregious slam of President Bush. And this one doesn't disappoint on that score.
Mr Bush once told Palestinian leaders: "God would tell me, 'George, go end the tyranny in Iraq' and I did."
I suggest Mr. McSmith check the record, now available, gee, on google. It might take him 5 minutes or so. I wrote about this previously here.

Mr. Nabil Shaath, former PA Foreign Minister and member of Fatah, professed that President Bush "said to all of [the Palestinians at a certain meeting]: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq." And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"

Or to translate this into English, Abu Mazen, who appears to be slightly less excitable in temperament, recounts that President Bush told him, " "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."

Of course, the White House absolutely denied Mr. Nabil Shaath's claim, calling it absurd, as, indeed, it sounds to anyone familiar with President Bush and not suffering from severe Bush Derangement Syndrome, a particular form of brain rot.

It is all too obvious if the preppy, Yale-educated Bush ever spoke like this in his life once, and I'd be shocked if he had, he'd have the discretion and brains not to do it in front of Nabil Shaath.

But I guess those thoughts are too complex for Mr. McSmith to work out on his own.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Beautiful Soul of Rachel Corrie

In the world of theatre, the writers of Rachel Corrie, Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner are very upset that they cannot show American audiences the beauty of Rachel Corrie's soul.
As James Nicola, the theatre's artistic director, said yesterday: "In our pre-production planning and our talking around and listening in our communities in New York, what we heard was that after Ariel Sharon's illness and the election of Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections, we had a very edgy situation." Rachel was to be censored for political reasons.
This translates to the fact that the usual suspects, otherwise known as patrons of the arts - white liberals, likely of the Jewish persuasion - wouldn't cough up the dough this time around for a project which for whatever reason - probably because of the puerility of its subject matter - didn't interest them enough to fund.

Yes, it's an egregious case of censorship!

By the way, Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner have been out all weeks manning the barricades leading the fighting against the censorship of the European Press when it comes to publishing anti-Muslim cartoons.

Just kidding.

That is to say, they would be crusading for that noble cause, except 1) crusading is a verboten term because Christians and Imperialists are evil and 2) this week they were too busy preening and whining in the pages of the Guardian.

In Katherine's own words:
I'd heard from American friends that life for dissenters had been getting worse - wiretapping scandals, arrests for wearing anti-war T-shirts, Muslim professors denied visas. But it's hard to tell from afar how bad things really are. Here was personal proof that the political climate is continuing to shift disturbingly, narrowing the scope of free debate and artistic expression. What was acceptable a matter of weeks ago is not acceptable now.
Can we snicker yet at this vast political obtuseness?

Ah yes. America is narrowing the scope of free debate and artistic expression. Not the cowering press in Britain, none of whom printed the Danish cartoons for fear of an Islamic response. No problem there.

Secondly, she wants to convince us to show it here by pointing out how horrible and narrow American society now is. That's her idea of a persuasive argument for Americans as opposed to Brits - whose elite class loves to wallow in anti-Americanism?

On the other hand, it might just be the thing to convince a liberal - someone like George Clooney say - that his rights are being trampled unless he does underwrite this production financially.

Prepare for a major financial loss.

Meanwhile, the IDF has now seen fit to ban all military officers from entering Britain for fear they will be charged with warcrimes and arrested. But if you are Hamas - no problem.
Senior Israel Defense Forces officers are outraged over the army's decision to prevent one of their number from traveling to Britain for fear he might be arrested as a war criminal, charging that leading Hamas terrorists now enjoy more freedom of movement than IDF officers.

On the advice of the military advocate general, Avihai Mandelblit, the IDF decided to bar Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi, the commander of the Gaza Division, from taking courses at Britain's Royal College of Defence Studies, lest left-wing activists seek an arrest order against him. ...

..."An absurd situation has been created here," one senior officer told Haaretz. "Senior Hamas figures - Khaled Meshal, and soon, certainly, Ismail Haniyeh as well - can roam the world at will, but Kochavi has to stay home for fear of being arrested. These are people who have given direct orders to carry out attacks against civilians, but now they are politicians who enjoy protection."
And if Britain did arrest a member of the IDF for warcrimes, I bet Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner would be fulminating against him as attractively as Rachel Corrie fulminated and agitated against Americans and Israelis, as in this picture.


But, ah yes, she had a beautiful soul.


Earlier this week, the really early morning tv watching crowd was treated to a video of Condi showing off her exercise routine. And it is pretty impressive really. She's a former figure skater, and now, at age 50+, she's up at 4:300 every morning to complete a no nonsense 40-45 minute routine, no matter what she has done the night before. Jetlag? No matter. According to Condi, she never blows it off, 7 days a weeks. That's serious stuff. Tremendous will power there. She says she watched her father's health decline after he, an excellent athlete, ceased exercising as he grew older. And spun her own cautionary tale from that.


And today, in Pakistan, the baseball loving Bush, which is nicely alliterative, tried out his hand at cricketing, both batting and bowling. Cricket, like curling, is a sport I've never been able to figure out how it works - even though I've actually been to a cricket match.

And for the life of me, I can't figure out why they won't call bowling, pitching. That's obviously what they are doing.

Blasphemous Pakistan


While the Danish support protest got very good feedback across the Western web, we know of one person who wouldn't be happy about it.

That's Ayman Al-Zwahiri urging a boycott on countries that had published cartoons caricaturing the Prophet. Countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan.

Whoops, does that mean Osama will have to leave Pakistan now? And he's so comfily ensconced in some warlord's fortress on the border.
In a reference to cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad printed in several European newspapers, Zawahiri said the West had committed deliberate blasphemy and was guilty of double standards.

"They did it on purpose and they continue to do it without apologising, even though no one dares to harm Jews or to challenge Jewish claims about the Holocaust nor even to insult homosexuals."


"In France a Muslim father cannot prevent his daughter from having sex because she is protected by the law, but this same law punishes her if she covers her hair," he said.
Ah, yes, the double standards of the West. The father, indubitably, should be allowed to kill her if she has sex without legal penalty - the way he'd be able to do in so many Muslim countries.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Fortune Favors the Brave

A new development on events in Denmark in the aftermath of the Great Cartoon Jihad.

The daughter of one of the cartoonists was sought out at school by a posse of 12 Muslim men, according to Jens Rohde, political chairman of the prime minister's Liberal Party, who made this claim during a debate program on Danish television on Thursday evening.

The girl, fortunately, was not found because the cartoonists and their families are now all living in hiding, with guards.

UPDATE CORRECTION: This story turns out to be exaggerated. The "assailants" were only a group of 6 or 7 school age Muslim girls looking for the daughter of man who made the cartoons. Still could be scary from the POV of the girl, had she been there, but nothing like the original story made out.

Getting the Short Shtick


As a result of the July bombings in Britain, Tony Blair announced a plan which would ban certain terror organizations from Britain, among them Hizb ut Tahrir.

In response to this, former international development secretary and current MP, Clare Short "volunteered to facilitate a meeting at the House of Commons so that Parliamentarians can decide for themselves whether the organization should be banned."

Decent of her.

The meeting took place this week and Harry's Place has an account of the proceedings from one of the people who attended it. Harry's Place has, for quite a while, been doing an excellent job of following the Hizb ut Tahrir controversy in Britain - they have a long article here discussing the movement, with lots of links.

The meeting itself is a very instructive read. Because Short, a Labour Parliamentarian, who notoriously resigned from Blair's government in an undignified snit during the build up to the Iraq war, is absolutely shameless in providing support for an organization which wants to establish a caliphate, to impose sharia law on both women and gays - with all that implies, including the death penalty for practicing gays who are caught out - and to "offer" Israel the choice of allowing the caliphate to rule it, before it destroys it by force of arms. All this is the Hizb ut Tahrir constitution. Short apparently believes that these measures are non-objectionable. Because "it's the cultural norm for the Middle East."

Evidently, to oppose it would be cultural imperialism. She is apparently happy to help it stay rooted in Britain.

According to the report, Short interjected herself to cut off just about anyone raising critical points against Hizb ut Tahrir. So, she did not allow many critical points even to be heard in full.

The fact that the left has talked itself rather openly into such alliances goes a long way to explaining why debates such as the following, scheduled for next month, are now necessary amongst Jewish leftists.

Unholy Alliance? Is the Left right - or wrong?
Plenty of long-time Jewish supporters of the Left now complain that it has lost its way, forming an unholy alliance with an anti-Zionist, anti-western, even reactionary form of radical Islam. Others say that the Left has always sided with the underdog - and today that must mean solidarity with Muslims, at the sharp end of daily discrimination at home and latter-day imperialism abroad.

Who's right – and where should Jews stand? Jonathan Freedland chairs an in-depth discussion with speakers Nick Cohen, Anthony Julius, Brian Klug and Lynne Segal.
And of course the Ken Livingstone-all-the-talk-against-me-is-just-a-Zionist-plot-by-my-enemies imbroglio is obviously creating more displacement for leftist British Jews as well.

In a related matter, Jonathan Freedland, one of the leftist panelists, writes in the Evening Standard about Livingstone.