Thursday, April 12, 2007

O! For a British Al Sharpton

It's A Good Thing Tony Blair Doesn't Work at NBC .

Because they would be firing him just about now:
Tony Blair yesterday claimed the spate of knife and gun murders in London was not being caused by poverty, but a distinctive black culture. His remarks angered community leaders, who accused him of ignorance and failing to provide support for black-led efforts to tackle the problem...

Black community leaders reacted after Mr Blair said the recent violence should not be treated as part of a general crime wave, but as specific to black youth. He said people had to drop their political correctness and recognise that the violence would not be stopped "by pretending it is not young black kids doing it".
At least in America, this is the kind of statement which generally only receives approbation when uttered by an extremely successful member of the black community. In our case, someone such as Bill Cosby whose speeches are controversial, but are accepted.

I wonder if Tony Blair is unaware of this rule? Or if he decided to crash the gates of political correctness because he felt that the stakes were important enough finally to act. Not that that will do him any good, I imagine.

It's clear enough that not everyone in his government agrees:
Mr Blair's remarks are at odds with those of the Home Office minister Lady Scotland, who told the home affairs select committee last month that the disproportionate number of black youths in the criminal justice system was a function of their disproportionate poverty, and not to do with a distinctive black culture.
Which is more along the lines of the pablum such events as rising murder rates usually elicit.

In other words, it's not their fault, because they're victims of that world evil known as capitalism.

Apparently, Mr. Blair was motivated to speak by listening to members of the black community itself expound on the matter:
[T]he prime minister admitted he had been "lurching into total frankness" in the final weeks of his premiership. He called on black people to lead the fight against knife crime. He said that "the black community - the vast majority of whom in these communities are decent, law abiding people horrified at what is happening - need to be mobilised in denunciation of this gang culture that is killing innocent young black kids".

But, then, this is quite all right when a black leader utters such words. But when a white man issues such a statement, the only result is likely to be a rush of criticism directed at him. While everyone concerned ignores his statement.

In fact, the phenomenon is quite similar to non-Muslim criticism of Islamic culture. It does no good; it only results in cries of "orientalism," loud dismissals of the criticism and censure to the person who has mustered the courage to speak.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Some Thoughts on the Season 3 BSG Finale

I enjoyed watching the episode while it was running, but I haven't really enjoyed thinking about it afterwards.

I don't like the idea that the heads of the resistance were all cylons, as though humans didn't have it in them to defend themselves, only cylons could do that effectively and with leadership.

Or, on the other hand, for people who found those methods unpalatable, that all those mistakes could be chalked up to the cylons as opposed to an actual resistance.

I'm also having mixed to negative feelings about Adama being unable to separate his own feelings of guilt, imperfection and inadequacy as an officer and an Admiral from ruling on Balthar. True, he did not live up to perfect standards at all times. But Balthar really was a traitor and collaborator and Adama knew that. Should his self knowledge of his limitations determine his perspective on judging others?

True, he took the more humane approach, at least in the short term. It won't be more humane, however, if it leads to more human deaths and destruction in the longer term.

At least we know Adama is consistent. This choice parallels the one he made last year, in the finale, about the election. And we already the outcome of that choice. His choice, though more satisfying to his conscious, led to the death of 1000s. Yet here he is faced with the same sort of choice and, once again, he steps up to the line, but then retreats hastily. This also parallels what happened with Admiral Cain. He gives orders to execute her, and then steps back from that. That situation ultimately led to a good result, but only because fate lent an immediate hand and created the result he desired - her death. Adama has a horror of becoming like Admiral Cain - a healthy one, considering her final incarnation and the kind of untempered military justice she meted out.

But he is the leader of the military and at times he must assert decisive control in that position.

And if even the head of the military can't differentiate in his public role between his own shortcomings and those of others, which have led to more serious problems than the ones that he caused or feels guilty about causing, I think the remains of the human race are in serious trouble.

It is poor leadership; Adama is merely creating conditions that will continue to incubate the same kind of problems that they have had. The cycle will run on continuously, one imagines, until he can overcome this issue of his, his false guilt about launching the cylon war made more poignant by the fact that if, as think we just learned, that Tigh is a cylon, the intent by the cylons to go to war had been going on for decades. In any case, as I have argued before, it is naive to believe that the cylons could respond in force like the way they did if they had not been separately building up their armies to go to war. Does Adama really believe the cylons weren't simultaneously spying on them? How absurd and naive of him, a point I also made at the time.

Moreover, how soon until Balthar attempts to step into a political role once again? And causes more trouble?

And why didn't the prosecution think to charge him with some lesser charge as well as treason and collaboration?

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The Latest from Robert Novak

Robert Novak's latest column, A President All Alone, discusses Bush's distance - even isolation - from congressional Republicans, and their chagrin at ongoing revelations of Bush administration incompetence.
"We always have claimed that we were the party of better management," one House leader told me. "How can we claim that anymore?"

But the final paragraphs in the article is what really grabbed my attention.

A few Republicans blame incessant attacks from the new Democratic majority in Congress for that image [of endless incompetence]. Many more say today's problems in the administration derive from the continuing impact of yesterday's mistakes. The answer that is not entertained by the president's most severe GOP critics, even when not speaking for quotation, is that this is just the governing style of George W. Bush and will not change while he is in the Oval Office.

Regarding Libby and Gonzales, unofficial word from the White House is not reassuring. One credible source says the president will never -- not even on the way out of office in January 2009 -- pardon Libby. Another equally good source says the president will never ask Gonzales to resign. That exactly reverses the prevailing Republican opinion in Congress. Bush is alone.
I'm wondering who that anonymous source is for the quotation about Libby - as each official refracts a different experience of the President. Is this a close reflection? Or one with high built in distortion?

We know that Novak is paleocon-ish; he definitely has a point of view on Bush in disagreeing with him on policy matters. Are his chosen sources representing this POV as well, or has disillusion become more widespread. Because the picture of Bush he is painting in the last paragraph is sure not a pretty one - it's very arrogant and self absorbed. As opposed to the picture of Bush of being overly loyal to the people who work for him.

It would reflect terribly on Bush, and would be disillusioning and disheartening both, if Tenet ends up with the Presidential Medal of Freedom - which he already has - while Libby ends up in jail.

What do we think?

At least we know that there will be a high burden of competence demanded from all candidates in the next election. And that burden will be met by a large number of them.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Madness of King George III

For those with an interest in history, there's been some interesting new research on the Madness of King George III.

As has been long suspected, King George III was suffering from porphyria. The new information is that his case was made more severe because he was treated with arsenic, which heightened the effects of his illnesss.


Friday, March 23, 2007

The Obligatory Aw Knut Post!

Aw Knut, the most adorable baby polar bear. Yesterday, he was introduced to the public in his new quarters at the Berlin zoo.

I love the last one. Well really, I love them all, but the last one reminds me of the illustration of Winnie the Pooh's legs sticking out of the honey jar.

Plenty more Knut goodness can be found here and here.

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Irony Alert

How amusing!

Former President Bill Clinton yesterday complained that “it’s just not fair” the way his wife, presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is being depicted for her controversial Iraq war vote.

Speaking to hundreds of supporters on conference call, the former president said, “I don’t have a problem with anything Barack Obama [has] said on this,” but “to characterize Hillary and Obama’s positions on the war as polar opposites is ludicrous.

“This dichotomy that’s been set up to allow him to become the raging hero of the anti-war crowd on the Internet is just factually inaccurate.”

How ironic. Hillary has become a victim of media spin.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Weird New Ad Campaign Spotted Around New York

Manhattan Mini Storage has a new ad campaign going on NY city, to help publicize their three new locations.

I spotted the first Manhattan Mini Storage ad yesterday as, it happened, that I was strolling with two other republicans after gym. Fortunately, my closets are not that narrow.

Noticed the second one tonight on the way back from the gym, while schlepping bags home from Fairway.

I guess they figure they are safe enough, given the demographics of NYC. But I bet some minority gets completely turned off and won't use their services.

I swiped the pics from manhattah chowder, which believes the ad campaign is just great.

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And Now for the Important News of the Day

Battlestar Galactica gets renewed for a full season 4 plus a two hour movie.

The third season finale is coming up this Sunday evening - along with the end of Rome.

The big question is whether Starbuck returns this week, or we have to wait until next year to find out what happened to her? And is she a cylon, or did her ship pass out of Major Apollo's visual range before he saw the explosion of what looked like her ship on the horizon?

Apparently, for people who analyzed the digital download frame by frame, there was another ship in the frame with Starbuck's right before the explosion.

If Starbuck turns out to be a cylon - one of the original 5 as some people have speculated - we'll get to have a nice time doing a bit of metaphysical speculation over the hiatus.

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Training Up the Next Generation of Soldier Bots

Instilling young Palestinian children with their parents' ideals on Hamas children's tv. Instead of Sesame Street, this is what they get.

Watch a four-year-old girl sings about the glories of her mother, female suicide bomber Reem Riyashi.

Imagine coming from a culture where maternal self-sacrifice means not how much one's mother was prepared to do to to help her children; but, rather, that she considered taking care of her children of lesser importance than blowing herself up while killing a few enemies.

Now there's a life lesson no shrink will be able to overcome.

And there's a whole generation being trained up to think this way. These are now "Palestinian values."

Golda Meir's words are as relevant now as the day they were first spoken: “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

That goal is not yet in sight.

Palestinian Media Watch provides the translation of the song:

The following is the text of the song that Duha, Reem's daughter, sings to her mother:

[Daughter sees mother preparing explosives sticks]

"Mommy, what are you carrying
in your arms instead of me?

[Mother turns to hide bomb]

A toy or a present for me?...
Mommy Reem!
Why did you put on your veil?
Are you going out, Mommy?...
Come back quickly, Mommy
I can't sleep without you,
unless you tell me and Ubaydah [her brother] a bedtime story.

[Daughter sees mother's picture and news story about bombing on PA TV]

My mother, my mother,
Me and Ubaydah are awake and waiting for you
to come to put us to sleep.
Me and Ubaydah, oh Mommy,
still need you to wipe our tears...
Instead of me you carried a bomb in your hands.
Only now, I know what was more precious than us...
May your steps be blessed,
and may you be flawless for Jerusalem.
Me and Ubaydah wish we were there with you.

[Images of her mother's grave and the graves of other terrorists,
including Aayat Al-Akhras, 17-year-old female suicide terrorist]

Send greetings to our Messenger [Muhammad] and tell him:
'Duha loves you.'
My love will not be [merely] words.
I am following Mommy in her steps.

[Finds explosives that mother left in her drawer,
picks up stick of explosives]

Oh Mommy, oh Mommy."

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Has Bush Learned from Past Mistakes?

And the nature of the domestic enemy he faces? One can only hope that the disaster of the Scooter Libby verdict had a salutary effect. And that he now plans to stand firm and defend his people when the Senate Democrats are determined to pick them off, one by one.
Bush, in a late-afternoon statement at the White House, said, "We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants. ... I proposed a reasonable way to avoid an impasse."

He added: "There's no indication ... that anybody did anything improper."

Bush gave his embattled attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, a boost during an early morning call to his longtime friend and ended the day with a public statement repeating it. "He's got support with me," the president said...

"If the Democrats truly do want to move forward and find the right information, they ought to accept what I proposed," Bush said. "If scoring political points is the desire, then the rejection of this reasonable proposal will really be evident for the American people to see."
This is just Leahy and Schumer engaging in extremely partisan politics and going big game hunting.

They want to show off some heads to the troops.

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Menu Foods - Sue Their Asses

It turns out that Menu Foods - makers of the poisonous pet food since recalled - has known for at least a month that there were problems with its pet food. But instead of doing an immediate recall and then sorting out the difficulty, they waited until late last week to come clean to the public and issue their recall. In the meantime, pets continued to fall ill of kidney failure and to die. The true number of pets to die from this is not, at present, known. It seems to be widespread, across the country.

The tainted ingredient was the wheat gluten in the food which may have contained molds or heavy metals - the cause is not yet known. If you think about it, though, feeding wheat gluten to cats is just bizarre. It's not as though their systems have evolved for wheat in the diet. In fact, after 1000s of years of eating wheat, it is becoming recognized lately, that not all humans are able to tolerate wheat either - thus the rising number of people recognized to have wheat sensitivities and celiac disease.

Menu Foods claim that reports of problems first reached them in February and they still waited a month to go public. But, that looks like the legal ground that they are staking out for themselves.

According to more informal sources, the kind found on the internet in the comments sections, so take it for what it is worth, warnings first arose months before that.

Kidney disease is the number one killer of cats in the US. Coincidence? I don't think so. I think this is related to the pet food industry. The difference is on this occasion enough food was tainted so that the effects were absolutely widespread and fatal and it couldn't be passed over. I suspect that food has been tainted before.


My cat had a similar but not fatal incident last year. All of a sudden, for no apparent reason, he got quite ill - vomiting, no energy, drinking tons of water. I brought him to the vet, it turned out he had early kidney disease, and I changed his diet completely and started using some natural remedies as well, such as making parsley tea for him and giving it to him in a dropper.

I now feed my cat only human grade cat food and table scraps. And he has mostly returned to health although I believe he still has some kidney problems that were brought on with his serious illness. He still drinks a great deal of water, for instance, a symptom of kidney disease. A healthy cat kidney permits a cat to go a long time without water, an adaptation necessary since they were once desert animals.

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If Only Bush Would Have Fired His Ass

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald was ranked among prosecutors who had "not distinguished themselves" on a Justice Department chart sent to the White House in March 2005, when he was in the midst of leading the CIA leak investigation that resulted in the perjury conviction of a vice presidential aide, administration officials said yesterday.

Doesn't look like he'll be able to do it now.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Serious Questions for Henry Waxman's Show Trial

By Rick Ballard, reposted with permission:

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman will continue his show trials masquerading as Congressional hearings tomorrow with a focus on the purported outing of CIA celebrity agent Valerie Plame by the White House and Office of the Vice-President. Apparently Waxman has limited access to simple facts. If Waxman had even a minimal desire to determine the truth, Joe Wilson would have been called to sit beside his wife and testify to their joint decision to go into electoral politics.

The primary responsibility for the protection of agents’ identities rests with the agents themselves. That is a fact hammered into all CIA employees from the moment they are hired. Valerie Plame Wilson initiated her own ‘outing’ by participating in her husband’s successful effort to become an advisor to the Kerry campaign. The precise moment in which she abandoned any pretense of being ‘undercover’ is difficult to determine, but it is safe to presume it occurred prior to May 2, 2003.

On that day, during a meeting of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, the Wilsons succeeded in inserting Joe Wilson into the electoral political process. They also made contact with New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof.

From Vanity Fair:
“In early May, Wilson and Plame attended a conference sponsored by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, at which Wilson spoke about Iraq; one of the other panelists was the New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof. Over breakfast the next morning with Kristof and his wife, Wilson told about his trip to Niger and said Kristof could write about it, but not name him.”

The Wilsons pitched Ambassador Munchausen’s fable to Kristof and he bought it with the same degree of faith that won Walter Duranty (and the New York Times) a Pulitzer prize for publishing every lie Stalin’s propagandists fed him. The very gullible Kristof cobbled the Wilsons’ bogus concoction into an article in the New York Times, published on May 6, 2003. In that article Kristof stated:
“Consider the now-disproved claims by President Bush and Colin Powell that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger so it could build nuclear weapons. As Seymour Hersh noted in The New Yorker, the claims were based on documents that had been forged so amateurishly that they should never have been taken seriously. I’m told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president’s office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.”

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence disposed of Wilson's fable on pages 443 - 444 of the report:

... The plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador's wife, a CIA employee. The former ambassador's wife suggested her husband for the trip to Niger in February 2002.

... On February 12, 2002, the former ambassador’s wife sent a memorandum to a Deputy Chief of a division in the CIA's Directorate of Operations which said, “[m]y husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.”

... Rather than speaking publicly about his actual experiences during his inquiry of the Niger issue, the former ambassador seems to have included information he learned from press accounts and from his beliefs about how the Intelligence Community would have or should have handled the information he provided.

... The former ambassador told Committee staff that he, in fact, did not have access to any of the names and dates in the CIA's reports and said he may have become confused about his own recollection after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in March 2003 that the names and dates on the documents were not correct. Of note, the names and dates in the documents that the IAEA found to be incorrect were not names or dates included in the CIA reports.

... While the CIA responded to the Vice President’s request for the Agency's analysis, they never provided the information gathered by the former Ambassador.

... The Committee found that, for most analysts, the former ambassador's report lent more credibility, not less, to the reported Niger- Iraq uranium deal. [emphasis added]

According to the Vanity Fair piece, both of the Wilsons were present with Kristof and it is reasonable to assume that Valerie Plame Wilson at least listened attentively as her husband provided politically loaded misinformation to a Times byline reporter. Mr. Wilson casually disclosed his wife’s maiden name in the preparation of numerous biographical sketches beginning with Who’s Who and including Corporate and Public Strategy Advisory Group, the Middle East Institute and the EPIC Forum. Twenty people provided biographical sketches as participants in the antiwar EPIC Forum on June 14, 2003, some three weeks prior to the publication of Wilson’s fable on the NY Times editorial page. Joseph Wilson was the only forum participant to include even a mention of a spouse, let alone her maiden name.

The Kerry Campaign must have been impressed with the Wilsons’ ability to gull a Times reporter by having source and confirmation share a common last name, for soon after Kristof’s article appeared, Wilson was named as an ‘advisor to the campaign’ and held that position until the exposure of his prevarications. Wilson’s status as a Kerry advisor, coupled with the Times own Kristof having swallowed Wilson’s tale whole, was sufficient for the Times to grant Wilson its editorial page on July 6th, 2003. The Wilsons, working together, had achieved a level of national notoriety based entirely upon their manipulation of the Kerry Campaign and the New York Times.

As Jim Marcinkowski, one of Plame’s classmates during their CIA training has noted, she’s “a hell of a shot with an AK-47”. There is no reason to disbelieve that assertion; however, ample evidence also exists that Wilson can shoot his mouth off at least as well as Plame can fire a rifle. Why did Plame not unload the weapon that was her husband’s mouth—aimed as it was at her identity as a CIA agent? Indeed, why did she apparently load it herself by suggesting Wilson for the trip to Niger?

One person had the primary responsibility for the protection of a CIA agent’s identity. Valerie Plame Wilson failed. One person was primarily responsible for the events and actions leading to the ‘outing’ of a CIA agent’s identity. Joe Wilson succeeded.

Chairman Waxman has chosen to investigate the circumstances that led to the disclosure of Valerie Plame’s relationship with the CIA for strictly political purposes. If the Chairman is seeking to protect other CIA personnel, Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband can provide a complete primer on what not to do. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson could be of great assistance by honestly and forthrightly answering some simple questions that should have been asked a very long time ago.

Based on what we know to date, Congressman Waxman’s decision to look to the White House will not bring us closer to any answers. That fact should not diminish the importance of the task for other members of the committee. If you recognize your representative’s name on that list, click it and send them a copy of this article along with a suggestion that they ask a few of the following questions.

Questions for Valerie Plame Wilson:

Since the CIA maintains an office which is responsible for contacts with the press, on what date did you report your May 2 and 3 contacts with Nicholas Kristof to that office?

Did you also inform that office of the nature of your contacts? Who did you speak to?

Specifically what did you report?

What is the procedure at the CIA for reporting that classified information has been compromised? What typically takes place after a report is made?

Have you ever followed that procedure? How many times, and on what dates?

Did you disclose the nature of the conversations between your husband and reporters to the CIA?

When did you first inform Joe Wilson that you worked for the CIA?

What did you tell him was the nature of your job at the agency?

When you informed him that you worked for the CIA, was he aware that you wanted to keep your identity protected?

Did you and he discuss the methods of keeping your identity protected?

Your name, Valerie Plame, was listed in Who’s Who in America from 1999 through 2005, under your husband’s listing? Did you seek special permission from the CIA to be included in that entry?

Did you accompany Joe Wilson to the 2003 EPIC Iraq forum?

Did your husband consult with you before including your maiden name in his bio published at that conference? Did you seek and obtain permission from the CIA for that disclosure?

Did you discuss this publication with your bosses at Langley?

Is it common practice for CIA agents to donate to political campaigns? When you contributed to the Gore campaign in 1999 under your own name, did you have any obligation to report that to your superiors?

At the time of the alleged disclosure by Richard Armitage that you worked at the agency, your husband was working for the Kerry campaign, correct?

Did you also donate money to Senator Kerry’s campaign? What about organizations trying to help elect Senator Kerry?

When you informed Joe Wilson that you worked at the CIA, did you file a report that your identity had been compromised?

When you became aware that your husband had identified you in Who’s Who in America, did you make a report that your identity had been compromised?

When you learned that your husband had included your name in his bio for the EPIC Iraq forum, did you make a report that your identity had been compromised?

When you learned that Joe Wilson had included your name in his bio at the Middle East Institute, did you make a report that your identity had been compromised?

When you learned that your husband included your name in his bio with the CPS Corporate & Public Strategy Advisory Group, did you make a report that your identity had been compromised?

At anytime did you, or anyone at the CIA, ask Joe Wilson to stop exposing your identity?

Only the Republican members of the Oversight Committee can prevent Congress from joining The New York Times and John Kerry on the Wilsons’ sucker list. We wish them well.

Jane Woodworth, Jeff Dobbs, Mara Schiffren and Rick Ballard collaborated on this article (with help from several Plame aficionados from Tom Maguire’s Just One Minute).

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Erasing History, One Objection at a Time

Does objecting to history because it hurts your feelings make it go away?

The University of Leeds was accused of infringing free speech last night when it cancelled a lecture on 'Islamic anti-Semitism' by a German academic.

Matthias Kontzel arrived at the university yesterday morning to begin a three-day programme of lectures and seminars, but was told that it had been called off on 'security grounds'.
For security grounds, read "insecurity grounds." Namely, the fact that some Muslims can't deal with the free discussion of history. And some academics in the west seem eager to pander to their every insecurity.

Dr Kontzel ... said: 'I have lectured in lots of countries on this subject. I gave the same talk at Yale University recently, and this is the first time I have been invited to lecture in the UK. Nothing like this has ever happened before – this is censorship.

'It is a controversial area but I am accustomed to debate. I value the integrity of academic debate and I feel that it really is in danger here. This is a very important subject and if you cannot address it on university property, then what is a university for?'
What is a university for?

Why, to pander to feelings, of course.
Dr Kontzel ... said that he had been shown two e-mails that had been received, which objected to his lecture.

One, apparently written by a student, said: 'As a Muslim and an Arab this has come to me as a great shock. The only intention that you have for doing this is to increase hatred as I clearly regard it as an open racist attack.'

Ahmed Sawalem, president of the university's student Islamic Society, confirmed that he had contacted the office of Professor Michael Arthur, the Vice-Chancellor, to register an official complaint.

'The title of the talk is provocative and I have searched the internet to read his writings and they are not very pleasant,' Mr Sawalem said. “We are not opposed to freedom of expression. We just sent a complaint, we did not ask for the talk to be cancelled.”
No, but don't be shy there. You are delighted at your victory. And at how easy it was to impose your will and your ideology on the the Dhimmi Vice-Chancellor of Leeds University to sway him to do your bidding simply at the drop of the word racism.

Sad times for the academic world. What is academic freedom if not to resist this?

Or was there someone behind this decision who was delighted to suppress the lecture and hid his actions by claiming it was the result of bureacracy?

Here is the lecture that Professor Kontzel was going to present.

UPDATE: Other articles by Kuntzel can be found here.

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Washington's Blood Sport

Joseph Bottum's reflections on his friend, Scooter Libby:

let's remember what this was all really about. A black spot was being passed from hand to hand in Washington. Somebody was going to end up with it, and Scooter Libby was the unlucky one. Forget the lies Joseph Wilson told; forget the jovial leak from Richard Armitage to Robert Novak that started it all; forget what Scooter said or didn't say to the grand jury about conversations with reporters. The case was a political trial from the beginning--and the opponents lined up in a properly political way. One side wanted to use Scooter Libby as a step ladder to reach up and pull down someone higher. The other side wanted to make sure that the case ended with Libby.

I never saw much concern from either side about the man himself. I still don't. In its chortling editorial after the verdict was announced, the New York Times admitted that one of its own reporters had been jailed in the course of the investigation and a general legal respect for reporters' promises of confidentiality had been forever swept away. You'd think these would be frightening developments for a newspaper. But, no, it turns out the political purpose of Scooter Libby's prosecution trumps all that. "The potential damage" for the press, the Times agreed, "remains of real concern. But it was still a breath of fresh air to see someone in this administration, which specializes in secrecy, prevarication and evading blame, finally called to account."

I have several friends--a surprising number with real literary talent--who were invited to help this administration. And each one I urged to accept the appointment. You owe it to your country, I said, particularly in times like these. Public service is a duty you can't refuse, when your turn comes.

Never again. Bene vixit, bene qui latuit, Ovid once warned ambitious young men about the bloodsports of ancient Roman politics: "He lives well who is well hidden." Good advice, I suppose. Keep your head down. Don't look for trouble. Stay under the radar. Cultivate your own garden. It's just that, until now, I never really believed this was America. I never really believed this was us.

At the Spine, Marty Peretz writes:
Let me confess--not for the first time here--that Libby is a friend. I like him, I respect him and I think him an utterly honest and decent person. I am a member of the board of his defense committee, and I have contributed money to it. So you may discount my argument on his behalf. Still, I am deeply persuaded that there are many reasons in logic, in fact and in the very idea of justice why Libby's conviction should be overturned.

First of all, there is the question of why the special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald did not indict Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's second at State, who the counsel knew without the slightest doubt--before he ever charged Libby with anything--was the source of the leak, the leak being that Valerie Plame was an undercover officer at the CIA and also the wife of Joseph Wilson, one of the president's critics on the matter of whether Iraq tried to buy yellowcake from Niger. Here is someone who actually committed the crime, if any crime was actually committed, and he was charged with nothing. Absolutely nothing. There are others in the same cushy position as Armitage. Like Karl Rove. Why?

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