Friday, November 14, 2003

Victor Davis Hanson

War is a failure of humanity. Its existence -- its need -- is civilization's bane. While that does not mean we should not fight them when necessary, it does mean that we cannot forget its many tragic consequences. Victor Davis Hanson, one of the great essayists of our times, has just written a book, Ripples of Battle: How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think and the introduction has been excerpted in four parts (1, 2, 3 and 4). I haven't read the whole thing, but what I have has brought me to tears. When I hear statistics of war with thousands or even millions dead, it grieves me greatly but largely in an abstract way. But when I read about one person, in this case Hanson's uncle -- his life, his death, the people who mourned him and remember him still -- I get overwhelmed. And then, when I apply that story to the thousand, millions that died, well ....

I think I will buy the book.


On European sensibilities:
"Sometimes I swear that if a European hits his thumb with a hammer when no one’s around, he shouts GODDAMN JEWS!"
On Ted "Wingnut" Rall:
"The French have a saying: his head, it is filled with urine. Or they should have such a saying; I’m sure it would sound elegant and dismissive. These people aren’t the loyal opposition anymore; they’re just the opposition. They may say they love America, but they love some idealized nonexistent America that can never exist as long as there’s individuality and free will. They’re like people who say they love women and beat their wife because she doesn’t look like the Playboy centerfold. I’m sick of the lot of them!"
On Soros:
"I was tempted to write about George Soros comparing Bush and America to the rise of the Nazis, but I’ve just had it with these people. I’m more interested in those who ride the coattails of their rhetoric. I want someone to ask Dean this question in the Presidential debate: “Governor Dean, one of your wealthiest backers has compared America in 2000s with German in the 1930s. Do you agree with this analogy?” The only acceptable answer to my ears is “No, I don’t.” Period."
And on writing in defense of a war even if you are not a soldier:
"I have to fight before I can express my opinion? That’s like saying I have to live in Antartica to draw penguins."
Whenever I read him, I always chastize myself for not reading him regularly. Today is a good day to start....

Thursday, November 13, 2003

After all, you named her after the French capital...

In The New York Post, Linda Stasi takes Paris Hilton's parents to task in connection with the video that has now caused email servers to creak under the strain of all the forwarding:

She is, (and it is), without a doubt, a parent's worst nightmare. Well, unless of course you are Paris' parents, Kathy and Rick Hilton - then maybe you're living the dream.

I mean, let's be honest, the naked, probably drunk, 19-year-old sexed-up girl (it was shot three years ago) in this video is everything you raised her to be - and is playing exactly the role you raised her to play.

What are you so suddenly shocked and angry about? Did you find out she was having unprotected sex in a Marriott and not a Hilton hotel?

Come on!

Where the hell have you been since your two daughters were running wild at 14? How did you allow them out to go clubbing and looking all sexed-up at an age when they should have been home with you having dinner and doing homework?

Hard to argue with her, really.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

A Day at Baltimore Airport

This story was verified as accurate by ( It's worth reading.

The writer and his wife live in LA and both work for Uncle Sam.

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope that you will spare me a few minutes of your time to tell you about something that I saw on Monday, October 27.

I had been attending a conference in Annapolis and was coming home on Sunday. As you may recall, Los Angeles International Airport was closed on Sunday, October 26, because of the fires that affected air traffic control. Accordingly, my flight, and many others, were canceled and I wound up spending a night in Baltimore.

My story begins the next day. When I went to check in at the United counter Monday morning I saw a lot of soldiers home from Iraq. Most
were very young and all had on their desert camouflage uniforms. This was as change from earlier, when they had to buy civilian clothes in Kuwait to fly home. It was a visible reminder that we are in a war. It probably was pretty close to what train terminals were like in World War II.

Many people were stopping the troops to talk to them, asking them questions in the Starbucks line or just saying "Welcome Home." In addition to all the flights that had been canceled on Sunday, the weather was terrible in Baltimore and the flights were backed up. So, there were a lot of unhappy people in the terminal trying to get home, but nobody that I saw gave the soldiers a bad time.

By the afternoon, one plane to Denver had been delayed several hours. United personnel kept asking for volunteers to give up their seats and take another flight. They weren't getting many takers. Finally, a United spokeswoman got on the PA and said this, "Folks. As you can see, there are a lot of soldiers in the waiting area. They only have 14 days of leave and we're trying to get them where they need to go without spending any more time in an airport then they have to. We sold them all tickets, knowing we would oversell the flight. If we can, we want to get them all on this flight. We want all the soldiers to know that we respect what you're doing, we are here for you and we love you."

At that, the entire terminal of cranky, tired, travel-weary people, a cross-section of America, broke into sustained and heartfelt applause. The soldiers looked surprised and very modest. Most of them just looked at their boots. Many of us were wiping away tears.

And, yes, people lined up to take the later flight and all the soldiers went to Denver on that flight.

That little moment made me proud to be an American, and also told me why we will win this war.

If you want to send my little story on to your friends and family, feel free. This is not some urban legend. I was there, I was part of it, I saw it happen.

Will Ross
Administrative Judge
United States Department of Defense

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Pacifist Europeans have short memories

Mark Steyn writes an interesting piece about the odd pacifism of Europe.

I liked this paragraph:

You can't help noticing that it's the low-tech weapons that are really horrible. In Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and the Congo, millions get hacked to death by machetes. Even on the very borders of EUtopia, hundreds of thousands died in the Balkans in mostly non-state-of-the-art ways until the Americans intervened.

According to the latest estimates, the mass graves in Iraq contain the remains of at least 300,000 people, but we're still arguing about whether the war was "justified". The pacifism - or, more accurately, passivism - of Europe does not seem especially moral.


The EU has done a grand job of trumpeting its weakness as strength, but the fact remains that there's something hollow at the heart of European identity. You can't be a great power without great power: Slobodan Milosevic called the EU's bluff on that a decade ago.

When you say as much to Euro-grandees, they say, ah, but you wouldn't understand, here on the Continent we have seen the horrors of war close up, the slaughter of the Somme casts long shadows. I'll say. In the New Statesman last week, Philip Kerr managed to yoke All Quiet On The Western Front with Joan Baez and John Lennon, and unintentionally underlined just how obsolescent the Sixties folk-protest canon is. Where Have All The Flowers Gone? would have made a great song for the First World War, but not for Afghanistan or Iraq or anything we're likely to fight in the future.

In our time, mass slaughter occurs only in places where the West refuses to act - in the Sudan or North Korea - or acts only under the contemptible and corrupting rules of UN "peacekeeping", as at Srebrenica. In Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, technological advantage changes the moral calculus: it makes war the least worst option, the moral choice. At the 11th hour of the 11th day, we should remember those who died in the Great War, but recognise that it could never be "the war to end all wars" and never should.

Israeli Rap takes on politics

An interesting news story about Israeli Rap music's political content.

Wearing baggy sweat pants, a baseball cap pushed off-center and a glittering, rhinestone-studded Star of David necklace, Kobi Shimoni (known by the stage name Subliminal) swaggered on stage as if he were the Israeli incarnation of Eminem (news - web sites). With a booming rhythm track and an Israeli flag draped from the DJ stand, the show turned out to be as much a patriotic pep rally as a rapper's delight.

"Who has an Israeli army dog tag, put your hands in the air!" Subliminal called out in a mix of Hebrew and English. Hundreds of hands shot up. "Who is proud to be a Zionist in the state of Israel, put your hands in the air! Hell yeah!"

Say Thank You

I have had a small correspondence with a Lt. Colonel in the army, who is stationed in Afghanistan. I sent the following e-mail to him. It would be nice if we all did something similar today:

I dont know many people who are on active duty in the military so, on this Veteran's Day, I decided to send this to you as a representative of all those whom I don't know.
I want to extend to you a heart-felt thank you for your service. Although these sentiments are (unfortunately) not often expressed, you are in our prayers.
Stuart Kaufman
Management Recruiters of Great Neck
stuartk at

Friday, November 07, 2003

On a happier note...

Required reading: two speeches, one by Bush and one by Josh Chafetz. The President's speech was remarkable and hopefully seminal (we shall see if it filters out there). If you haven't read it, please do so. One line that grabbed me yesterday and which I was glad to see others pick up on it:
Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe because in the long run stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty.
The end of Carterism, the end of what we never liked about Kissingerism. Those who say that the strategy used by Bush is dangerous have to first answer the threat and perils posed by continued appeasement. And they can't.

The other speech by Chafetz at Oxford had this zinger:
Three of the most widely read American magazines have recently run stories on how the occupation is going, and the verdict is unanimous. "Americans are Losing the Victory" screams one. "How We Botched the Occupation" is on the cover of another. "Blueprint for a Mess" is the verdict of the third.

Actually, I've taken some liberties with two of those headlines, so let me start over. "Blueprint for a Mess" is indeed the cover article in this week's New York Times Magazine. But "Americans Are Losing the Victory" is from the January 7, 1945 issue of Life magazine, and the full headline is "Americans are Losing the Victory in Europe." The Saturday Evening Post on January 26, 1946 ran "How We Botched the German Occupation." The Life article solemnly declared that, "Never has American prestige in Europe been lower" and that "we've lost the peace." It cites the prevalence of looting, the disorganization of the reconstruction authorities, the prevalence of disease, the continuing disorder. "We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease," it intoned.
Chavetz goes on to say correctly that
"I mention this, not to make the (obviously fallacious) claim that it "proves" that Iraq will turn out as well as Europe did. But I mention it as a caution against impatience and as a reminder that setbacks and rough patches are to be expected."
Some perspective is actually important. Finally, two articles of note, one by Our Man Hitchens and the other by the incomparable Victor Davis Hanson. Their perspectives are invaluable.

Jews, Jews and more Jews

If perhaps you were feeling pretty good today and thought things were getting better, here are three little items I found today that will bring you right down in the dumps. So read if you feel up to it.

First, check out this EU poll that showed that 59% of those polled in Europe found Israel to be the biggest threat to world peace, far ahead of anyone else (of course, US was in second).

Next, my man Norm found this lovely editorial in the New Straits Times. Here is a sample:
Not too long ago, disliking Jews was a legitimate political and cultural attitude in the West. Nowadays, antiSemitism is politically incorrect, and people like Hier and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre are adept at exploiting this taboo to support Israel's racist and genocidal policy towards the Palestinians. They try to stifle discussion and criticism of Israel, and use threats when they can. But Dr Mahathir's example shows not everyone is afraid of being labelled anti-Semitic when they speak the truth, and not every voice can be silenced. The Palestinians continue their struggle and everywhere, as the EU poll shows, people are speaking up for justice and peace for the Palestinians, and against the Zionist threat to world peace and Israel's continuing illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.
Ahh, the days when anti-semitism was not politcally taboo and free speech reigned. Notice the parallel on world peace...a trend I think we will continue to see.

Finally, Norm noted this entry by french blooger Francois Brutsch:
I haven't really got over a discussion I had last year with a very dear friend, of the generation before mine (and who had lived, therefore, through the war), a grande bourgeoise of the cosmopolitan left. After September 11 2001 she was indignant at the satisfied admiration felt by another friend, also of the left. Viscerally pro-Palestinian this woman had exclaimed: 'Well, you know, there are too many Jews about!'
How are you feeling now? By the way, if you haven't seen all this other stuff from Andrew Sullivan, then your day isn't complete. Check out all the entries on that day....

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Zell Miller

I was watching Tony Snow's Sunday program a couple of weeks ago, and the panel was discussing Zell Miler's new book, and his "motivations" for writing it.
It was Cece Connolly who expressed a view that I realized was a perfect illustration of the cynical and vile way that the Washington establishment views the world. Ms. Connolly posited that perhaps Senator Miller wrote the book because he is seeking appointment to a high level position in a second Bush administration.
Her musings made it clear that the Washington establishment considers it impossible that an elected official can actually have an agenda outside of his/her own personal self aggrandizement. She, in fact, projected her own worldview onto Senator Miller. She (and they, with few exceptions) is incapable of recognizing decency when it is staring them straight in the face.
This, in a nutshell, is the reason why the Congress and the big media are leading us down the road to perdition

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Ah, the left...

The always-interesting Evan Coyne provides some video of his favorite protester at the Rutgers pro-Palestinian rally.

As he notes:
Mary Lou is an attractive, articulate spokeswoman for liberal causes. She is also an example of why so many on the left refer to President Bush's intellect in derogatory terms: their standards are simply too high. It is unfair and unreasonable to expect that every candidate for elective office demonstrate the level of mental acumen shown in this speech. Watch, and you will see why Mary Lou is my new favorite protester.

Note: The above constitutes considerable sarcasm on Evan's part.

Once Again, the Singer Proves That She Should "Shut Up and Sing"

On her web site ( ), America's reigning self-proclaimed political pundit/diva holds forth on the First Amendment and the CBS decision to exile the Reagan defamation to Showtime.
She Says:
"Due to their experience with the restrictive English government, the framers of our constitution specifically included a ban on prior restraint in the First Amendment, which is an attempt to stop information from getting out there before the public has a chance to see it at all - exactly what is going on in this case."

She is such a schmuck! She still hasn't grasped that the First Amendment applies to government censorship, and that what happened in the Reagan smearfilm/CBS situation, was nothing more than the marketplace operating at its best.
What an ignorant cow!


At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science, AAFS president
Dr. Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of
a bizarre death. Here is the story:

On March 23, 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and
concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. The decedent had
jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide.

He left a note to that effect indicating his despondency. As he fell past
the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through
a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent
was aware that a safety net had been installed just below at the eighth
floor level to protect some building workers and that Ronald Opus would not
have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned. Ordinarily,
Dr. Mills continued, "a person who sets out to commit suicide and ultimately
succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended" is still
defined as committing suicide. Mr. Opus was shot on the way to certain death
nine stories below at street level, but his suicide attempt probably would
not have been successful because of the safety net. This caused the medical
examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.

The room on the ninth floor from whence the shotgun blast emanated was
occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing vigorously, and
he was threatening her with a shotgun. The man was so upset that when he
pulled the trigger he completely missed his wife and the pellets went
through the window striking Mr. Opus.

When one intends to kill subject A, but kills subject B in the attempt, one
is guilty of the murder of subject B. When confronted with the murder
charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant. They both said they
thought the shotgun was unloaded. The old man said it was his long standing
habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to
murder her. Therefore the killing of Mr. Opus appeared to be an accident,
that is, the gun had been accidentally loaded.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's
son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal accident. It
transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the
son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly,
loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother.

The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of
Ronald Opus.

Now comes the exquisite twist. Further investigation revealed that the son
was in fact Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly despondent over both the
loss of his financial support and the failure of his attempt to engineer his
mother's murder. This led him to jump off the ten-story building on March
23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth-story
window. The son had actually murdered himself, so the medical examiner
closed the case as a suicide.

Stuart Kaufman
Management Recruiters of Great Neck

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Worst Album Covers Ever

Well, they're right, these are the Worst Album Covers Ever.

I especially like the pedophile's favorite album third from the bottom, Julie's Sixteenth Birthday.

My Son

Last night my wife (Susan) and I attended a ceremony at which my son (David Kaufman, for those ignorant few who don't alrady know) was presented an award by Judge Judith Kaye (the top honcho judge in NY State) on behalf of the Legal Aid Society.
I just wanted to take advantage of this forum to tell whomever may be interested that no father was ever prouder of his son than I am of mine. He goes from strength to strength. He is an honorable, decent person who uses his intelligence and wit to improve this world. If I have done nothing more in my life than produce David A. Kaufman, then my life has been an unqualified success!

Monday, November 03, 2003

Girls pummel man who exposed himself

Hee. I really don't have time. But this was too good.

OpinionJournal - Extra

I'm incredibly busy today, but I just wanted to put this out there. OpinionJournal - Extra.

Great column, lists lots of bloggers (though it shockingly neglects to include KaufmaNet) and is fairly interesting.

I'll reblog about this later, maybe much later.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Those Jews

I was going to blog about another Victor Davis Hanson article today, but it can wait. I read this one today and was simultaneously elated by his clarity and devastated by its implications. I keep seeing so much evidence of anti-semitism that I am no longer shocked, but rather, a bit unhinged. But if there is a silver lining in this, or at least a ray of hope, it is that there are so many non-Jews, like Hanson (and Sullivan and many others) who see what is going on, are equally alarmed by it, and are talking about it again, and again, and again.

Read the whole's all a money quote. And for teasers, try this:
"These are weird, weird times, and before we win this messy war against Islamic fascism and its sponsors, count on things to get even uglier. Don't expect any reasoned military analysis that puts the post-9/11 destruction of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein's evil regime, along with the liberation of 50 million at the cost of 300 American lives, in any sort of historical context. After all, in the current presidential race, a retired general now caricatures U.S. efforts in Iraq and quotes Al Sharpton.

Do not look for the Islamic community here to acknowledge that the United States, in little over a decade, freed Kuwait, saved most of the Bosnians and Kosovars, tried to feed Somalis, urged the Russians not to kill Chechnyans, belatedly ensured that no longer were Shiites and Kurds to be slaughtered in Iraq, spoke out against Kuwait's ethnic cleansing of a third of a million Palestinians — and now is spending $87 billion to make Iraqis free.

That the Arab world would appreciate billions of dollars in past American aid to Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, or thank America for its help in Kuwait and Kosovo, or be grateful to America for freeing Iraq — all this is about as plausible as the idea that Western Europeans would acknowledge their past salvation from Nazism and Soviet Communism, or be grateful for the role the United States plays to promote democracy in Panama, Haiti, the Balkans, or the Middle East.

No, in this depressing age, the real problem is apparently our support for democratic Israel and all those pesky Jews worldwide, who seem to crop up everywhere as sly war makers, grasping film executives, conspiratorial politicians, and greedy colonialists, and thus make life so difficult for the rest of us.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Even the Broken Clock is right twice a day...

So said the wise sage and loveable Papa Kaufman on Tom Friedman many months ago when I commented favorably on one of Friedman's articles. Well, time and Thomas largely coincided again today with this article, entitled appropriately, "It's No Vietnam." He first grabbed me with this passage:
"The great irony is that the Baathists and Arab dictators are opposing the U.S. in Iraq because — unlike many leftists — they understand exactly what this war is about. They understand that U.S. power is not being used in Iraq for oil, or imperialism, or to shore up a corrupt status quo, as it was in Vietnam and elsewhere in the Arab world during the cold war. They understand that this is the most radical-liberal revolutionary war the U.S. has ever launched — a war of choice to install some democracy in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world."
He then followed it with something you can only find in a Post-Raines NYTimes:
"Most of the troubles we have encountered in Iraq (and will in the future) are not because of "occupation" but because of "empowerment." The U.S. invasion has overturned a whole set of vested interests, particularly those of Iraq's Sunni Baathist establishment, and begun to empower instead a whole new set of actors: Shiites, Kurds, non-Baathist Sunnis, women and locally elected officials and police. The Qaeda nihilists, the Saddamists, and all the Europeans and the Arab autocrats who had a vested interest in the old status quo are threatened by this."
Outstanding stuff and right on the money. But alas, time moves on and the clock reveals itself to still be what it is most of the time...broken; Tommy just couldn't help but slam Bush and cast angst-ridden doubt on Bush's ability to follow through:
Can this administration, whose national security team is so divided, effectively stay the course in Iraq? Has the president's audacity in waging such a revolutionary war outrun his ability to articulate what it's about and to summon Americans for the sacrifices victory will require? Can the president really be a successful radical liberal on Iraq, while being such a radical conservative everywhere else — refusing to dismiss one of his own generals who insults Islam, turning a deaf ear to hints of corruption infecting the new Baghdad government as it's showered with aid dollars, calling on reservists and their families to bear all the burdens of war while slashing taxes for the rich, and undertaking the world's biggest nation-building project with few real allies?
Did he just feel he had to throw in this littany to re-establish his left credentials? What the hell does tax policy have to do with an analysis of whether Bush has the staying power for Iraq? Is his foreign policy team that divided? Calling up reservists is wrong because.... (in fact, doesn't it demonstrate his conviction). Look, PLENTY of administration mistakes to talk about. But this was just an add on. And a badly thought-through add on. Whatever one thinks of Bush, only the loopiest would conclude that he invaded and overthrew TWO Muslim countries for political gain. The political risk involved in these ventures, particularly Iraq, where HUGE. And still are. Bush isn't playing politics here. And Thomas just can't fathom that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Israeli 'guard pigs'

Hee, hee. According to the BBC:
An organisation in Israel has gained rabbinical approval to train pigs to guard Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Until now, Jewish settlements have been guarded by men with guns and also by guard dogs.

But a new idea - guard pigs - has been thought up by an organisation called The Hebrew Battalion.

The man in charge, Kuti Ben-Yaakov, insists it is a serious proposal.

"Pigs' sense of smell is far more developed than that of dogs," he said.

"The pigs will also be able to identify weapons from huge distances, and walk in the direction of the terrorist, thereby pointing him out.

"Moreover, this animal is considered to be dangerous by Islam and, according to the Muslim faith, a terrorist who touches a pig is not eligible for the 70 virgins in heaven."

I've always thought that it should be made clear that the remains of any suicide bombers will be buried with pig and dog bones, which, I understand, will prevent a Muslim from going to heaven. Maybe that would stop it.

...And you turn yourself around...

Among other things, Lileks's take on The Hokey Pokey, that childhood classic which my mother routinely used to pull me out of a sulk, by fooling me into doing the damned thing.

Dennis Prager on The Passion

Dennis Prager has an interesting take on Mel Gibson's new movie, The Passion.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Brad and Jennifer try Mid-East diplomacy

Sigh. Evidently Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, and Danny DeVito will be traveling to Israel "in the belief that their charms will work magic on the Israeli-Arab conflict."

Uh, huh.

As Israeli sociologist Oz Almog (which, even I must confess, sounds a little bit like one of the names from Quest For Fire) notes:
Many Palestinians do not even have television sets. What is more, for the past three years here no one has listened to anyone, so what makes these people think they will listen to Danny DeVito?"

And I like all of them. Oh, well.

Thanks to Reasonblog for the pointer.

Rock Paper Scissors through history

Eugene Volokh points to the World Rock Paper Scissors Society home page. As he notes, the best part is the "Historical Archives."

Friday, October 24, 2003

Bad-Driver World Series

From Dave Barry's Blog:


Maybe this has been said before, but i just realized the unifying factor of this World Series: No one with half a brain wants to be anywhere near the traffic when the games let out. This World Series has succeeded in combining the two worst sets of drivers in the world in it's fans: New Yorkers and Floridians. It's only a matter of time before some poor Marlins fan on his way home from a game and in the left lane of I-95 doing 40 with his turn signal on is run down by a Yankees fan doing 'Warp 7' and is surprised that an accident occurred because, after all, 'He should have heard me coming, I've been leaning on my horn for the past mile and a half.'
Just an observation.
-- Daniel 'Nude Klan, Hi!' Kuhn (or possibly 'Unkind Heal')

You're kidding...

The Wall Street Journal discovers that PBS is biased leftward.

Stop the presses.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

All the News that's fit to print....

The headline on line in the New York Times reads:
Bush Is Heckled in Australian Parliament
Four paragraphs in you read
"With thousands of anti-war demonstrators protesting outside the building and two hecklers jeering him from within, ... (emphasis added).
Always best to read the fine print....

Dad's Response to David's Response

This is how you treat your father???? Ah, me.... the Fifth Commandment seems no longer to have any meaning whatsoever.......

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

When Protesters Attack

Evan Coyne Maloney, a guy who goes to protests and interviews people, often showing their relative ignorance about the subject they're supposedly very up in arms about, went to the Palestinian Solidarity Conference near Rutgers University earlier this month, and reports that he was physically attacked at the rally.

Even before the first speaker addressed the rally, people walked among the attendees, once again pointing us out as "Zionists". One protester came up to the camera and started blocking it with his sign. When I moved the camera several feet away, and the protester followed and again obstructed the view. I moved again, and he followed again. I tried raising the camera above the sign, but he just raised his sign.

We started asking him why he was trying to censor us. (One of the complaints made by the protesters was that the university tried to censor them. But if they were so sensitive to censorship, why were they trying to do it to me?) He didn't have an answer. I asked again while moving the camera, and again, no response. The commotion attracted a group of protesters, who surrounded me and blocked the camera's view in all directions.

Once again, I tried to move, but I was now completely encircled. When I tried to escape, the protesters then started smacking the camera with their signs, while others were shoving me from different directions. I started retreating, pushing my way back from the loudspeaker, all the while leaving the camera running and asking the protesters why they weren't letting me film. One man tried to prevent me from getting audio by unleashing a high-pitched squeal into the microphone. Another man asked me whether my camera was expensive, a question that--under the circumstances--I interpreted as a veiled threat.

Alexis and Tim also had cameras and were able to snap some stills and shoot few seconds of video. But they, too, were set upon by protesters. When they tried to use their cameras, protesters would put signs in the way. They dodged and weaved like basketball players, but at each turn, they were stopped. One protester with a masked face lunged at Alexis, threatening to break her camera and telling her, "I'm gonna kick your fucking ass." She was also hit by signs.

There's also a video report of the incident.

Peace lovers, all.

Jukebox From Hell

I just discoved this blog: Jukebox From Hell which helpfully lists the most horrible, wretched, evil songs of all time.

And yes, Dad, T A Y R... is on there, as #49.

But Afternoon Delight is #24.

Told 'ya.

Dad's response...

My father, who doesn't feel like blogging this himself, writes:

It just goes to show you that no matter how brilliant a person is (and my son, David, is unquestionably one of the most brilliant, most humorous, best looking and all around good guys of all time), when it comes to music, he has an incurable blind spot.

Of course, the mere mention of that vile TAYR..... song (I cant even complete the intitials) has now caused me to go into a humming fit that makes me want to jump out of the window. However, "Afternoon Delight" is one of the great songs of all times. It brings back sunlit memories of law school, strolling in Georgetown and more innocent times.

David can be a disappointment at times!

Stuart Kaufman
Management Recruiters of Great Neck

To which I simply respond that music is a matter of great subjectivity and personal opinion, and my father's is wrong.

Because Afternoon Delight just plain sucks.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003


Prepare to waste a huge amount of time.

Thanks (?) to Dave Barry.

Who knew?

According to Paul Krugman, it's Bush's fault that the Prime Minister of Malaysia had his anti-semitic hissy fit the other day.
"Now Mr. Mahathir thinks that to cover his domestic flank, he must insert hateful words into a speech mainly about Muslim reform. That tells you, more accurately than any poll, just how strong the rising tide of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism among Muslims in Southeast Asia has become. Thanks to its war in Iraq and its unconditional support for Ariel Sharon, Washington has squandered post-9/11 sympathy and brought relations with the Muslim world to a new low.
Amazing. It never occured to me. If we just had Bill Clinton (or anyone other than the religious zealot Bush) in the White House, there wouldn't be rising anti-semitism in the Muslim world. So simple.

I wonder ... At what point does anyone else in the world bear responsibility for their actions other than the US (actually, just Bush) and Israel?

Liberal Hawks

My heros. Really. I like people who buck the trend, as a principal, ... or at least those that use their head. Various writers with leftish instincts supported the war, the most obvious being Hitchens and Paul Berman (if you haven't read his book, Terror and Liberalism, stop everything and buy it now. No really).

James Atlas from the NYTimes wrote a piece on a number of these guys. While the article has good elements, like all Times articles it comes with a slant.... Atlas decided that perhaps these guys aren't really liberals at all but really Neocons. Now, since I happen to like neocons, that would be fine; but to Atlas, I think, it is really a way to discredit them in the eyes of the left...lest this phenomenon spread. Atlas, as you may remember, was the guy who wondered whether Bush's foreign policy was being run by a 'cabal' of Leo Straus devotees (ahhh, those pesky Jews again).

This sparked some interesting thought, as always, from Norm Geras, Michael Totten and Oliver Kamm. Michael was particularly thoughtful on his own analysis of himself as it relates to neoconservatism; Kamm gave a terrific analysis of the piece itself. What I took away is something I have suspected for awhile. What unites many of those on the right and left in their support of the war and in their view of foreign policy, is belief in the strong defense of a liberal society and democracy against the opposing ideologies of totalitarianism and fascism. Clearly a very general statement, and I have no doubt that there are many of those who opposed the war that feel that they are doing the same thing....although they see the real threat from within the country. The war supporters are unabashed in their defense of this country and its principles and history--warts and all--and see the threat (properly in my view) outside, from forces that will fight us no matter what our foreign policy is.

More earworm things.

Appropos to David's story below concerning Stuart's total aversion to a certain song, here's an anecdote about TAYRRTOOT and Stuart. It's absolutely true.

A number of years ago, Stuart and I were watching TV in bed, when a news story came on about a family with a missing child. The family was interviewed out in their yard, and there were a number of YRs tied around the OOTs. Stuart's looking at it and asks me what's the reason for all the bows. Now, I have been warned (nay, browbeaten) for years against even the mere whisper of that song title, and I was really in a difficult position.

So I said, "I can't tell you."

"You mean you don't know either?" he asked.

"No. I know, I just can't tell you."

"Why can't you tell me?"

"Because I'm not allowed to."

"What do you mean, you're not allowed to? Tell me!"

"No, I can't. Really."

"Who said you're not allowed to? I want you to tell me!!" (getting a little irate).

"You did. Really, I'd be happy to tell you if I could, but I can't."

Exploding, "This is ridiculous. I want you to tell me. Now, come on, why??"

"You'll just get mad."

"No, I won't. I promise."

"No. I know you. You'll just get mad at me."

"I promise I will not get mad at you. Just tell me. It's driving me nuts."

"Okay, well, if you promise."

"I promise. Now, what is it."

"Well, it's because of that song ..."

"Oh, God! No!!! Why did you tell me! Now I'll never get to sleep!! It's going to be rattling around in my brain all night!!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2003

I Need More Cowbell!

Apropos to that earworm thing below, a major earworm for me is the Blue Oyster Cult's (Don't Fear) The Reaper. And apropos to that, here's a link to a great SNL skit where the producer of (Don't Fear) The Reaper "needs more cowbell!"

"Saddam Is A WMD"

Robert Prather publishes what he says is an email from a Marine stationed in Baghdad, who reports on a woman who lost her whole family in the war. From American bombing? Nope.

While [she was] at work Sadamm's men had come to her house and because her family was Christian, Sadamm's men felt that the family would side with the US. So they shot her father, mother, and 3 sisters in the head. They came looking for her but the owner of the hotel hid her till the US troops showed up and took her to her house where her family was still in the yard. She buried them and now lives in the hotel. She runs the computers here and is very grateful to be alive and loves the US.

Yeah, this wasn't worth doing...

Bumper Sticker Hell

David Bernstein writes over at The Volokh Conspiracy about irritating bumper stickers:
Least favorite: "It'll be a great day when schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to have a bake sale to buy a bomber."

Close second: "You can't hug a child with nuclear arms."

Hear, hear! It's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, won't it be wonderful when the armed forces are pathetic blah blah blah fishcakes. I hate those.

It's the overtly earnest ones that are annoying -- the ones that use alliteration or puns -- "He's not the President-Elect, he's the President-Select."

"Re-Elect Gore in '04" -- Get over it already. I was able to get over the fact that the country was OK with President Clinton.

I don't like "Free Mumia," but at least it's pithy -- I just don't think we should.

"Free Tibet" -- well, yeah, OK, I agree. How about the rest of China, too? And while we're at it, let's free Cuba and all other collectivist dictatorships, OK? Who's with me? Probably not you. Because inevitably next to the "Free Tibet" sticker is a "Stop The War On Iraq" bumper sticker.

Then there are the non-political ones that are just dumb:
"Ask me about my grandchildren." -- Well, I certainly have the time to, because you're going 5 miles an hour.

"Beer: It's not just for breakfast anymore" -- If you ever wanted a bumper sticker guaranteed to frighten off any decent woman, that'd be it.

"One Tequila Two Tequila Three Tequila FLOOR" -- This one gives the last one a run for its money and also has the bonus pun factor.

And of course, "This Car Climbed Mount Washington" -- Well, that's nice. And?

..typically caused by Tony Orlando and Dawn...

Evidently, some professor has done a study of what he calls "earworms" -- those songs that get stuck in your head FOREVER!!!!!

Last year, he surveyed about 500 students, faculty and staff on campus asking about the type, frequency and duration of earworms, and possible causes and cures. Among the songs respondents picked as most likely to become stuck were: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” the Chili’s restaurant “baby back ribs” jingle and “Who Let the Dogs Out.”
But the choice that topped the so-called “playlist from hell” was “Other,” meaning the majority of those surveyed chose a unique song of their own as the most probable earworm. That led Kellaris to conclude that stuck songs are highly idiosyncratic.
“There are certain tunes that we would describe as catchy that are more likely to become one, but just about anything can become an earworm,” he said.

Now, the quickest way to make my father nutso is to sing a certain song by Tony Orlando and Dawn. He is so crazed by this song that you can't even say the title. I will, therefore, merely hint at the title -- T A Y R R T O O T. The sentiment addressed in the song has been adopted as a method to show support to troops abroad (which, incidentally, makes no sense, considering the song has nothing whatsoever to do with that, but we'll ignore that for now) and is both criminally catchy and is also so lacking in soul that it amazes me that a guy named Tony Orlando (and not, for example, Pat Boone) sang it.

I'm sure you know the one I mean, now -- the one that soaks into your head and makes you want to put on a powder blue tuxedo with ruffles, so that you can match the song.

It is not, however, in my opinion, the worst song ever. That award goes to "Afternoon Delight," by the Starland Vocal Band. That one is truly terrible.

Also, "Feelings."

Funny, you don't look Jewish...

Turns out that The Thing from The Fantastic Four is Jewish.

Go, know.


An old story by now, but the spasms caused by Gregg Easterbrook's blog on the responsibility of Jewish Hollywood executives for movie violence are still reverberating. If you haven't read it, do so here. It caused quite a stir and many of the bloggers I favor were on it quickly (Totten, Simon, Geras, Yourish....).

It initially put me into quite a tizzy as well, and I jumped into the fray early with this post to Michael Totten's comment site:
"I think Norm Geras put it correctly..."Shouldn't recent European history, to say nothing of much other history, cause everybody to have these second thoughts?" Why is a group singled out to be sensitive, as if a wrong is made more wrong by who committed it. Would it be any better to say that since the Holocaust was committed by non-jews (Catholics and Protestants), then all Christians should be more sensitive to promoting Hollywood violence. I mean some committed it so they all should be sensitive to anything that promotes violence. That is ridiculous. As human beings and what has transpired throughout the past century, we all should be sensitive. Bottom line, fucking leave the Jews alone...why are they being singled out? What does it matter what their background is? If Eisner and Weinstein were not jewish, would it be more understandable to Easterbrook that they distributed the movie? Someone in the comments section said that history dictates that jews should be more sensitive. All jews? Everyone of them? So two people distrbute a movie and their religion becomes an issue. For all we know, they weren't even raised jewish. Irrelevant... as jews, they should be castigated. Had they not been jewish, no big deal. Or at least their religion would not have been an issue or a point to discuss.

What anti-semtisim is about is just that. Beyond all the stereotypes (money-loving, yada yada yada) and other crap, it is the treatment of jews as something different for no other reason than that they are jewish. They are apart from all others and deserve (or should I say "history mandates"; why not start with Judas for that matter) unique inspection. They can't do things without their jewishness becoming a weighing factor in the analysis.

Sorry, but religion and collective history can't be binding or relevant to only one party.
That caused a response from Tom Perry that left me bewildered (I don't think I can link to it, so you will have to go to it if you care; it wasn't his best stuff to say the least.... he was all over this issue and said some outrageous things, but is a bit better and arguably thoughtful now at his site (isntapundit)). Having said all that, I have softened a bit ... at least as it relates to Easterbrook. In part that is due to the defense offered by Andrew Sullivan (he has been terrific on the issue of anti-semitism) and Wieseltier, as well as the conversations Easterbrook had with Simon and Yourish. But what really did it for me today was Taranto. I think he nailed it:
"Well, allow us to explain. Easterbrook's essay was an expression not of anti-Semitism but of a lesser, though still insidious, form of prejudice. Call it liberal condescension. This sentence from his apology reveals all: "How, I wondered, could anyone Jewish--members of a group who suffered the worst act of violence in all history, and who suffer today, in Israel, intolerable violence--seek profit from a movie that glamorizes violence as cool fun?"

"Members of a group": This is the language of liberal identity politics. And note that this is a philo-Semitic prejudice, not an anti-Semitic one. Easterbrook's premise is that the suffering of the Jewish people ennobles Jewish individuals--or should--even if those individuals have not themselves suffered. Thus he presumes to hold Jews to a higher moral standard by virtue of their Jewishness--though in fact all he's doing is asking them to agree with his highly debatable opinion (does it really make any sense to liken stylized Hollywood violence to the Holocaust?).

Ideologically, Easterbrook's earnest criticism of Jewish studio executives is of a piece with Maureen Dowd's racist rant against Clarence Thomas. Because Thomas is black, Dowd, like other liberals, expects him to conform to liberal orthodoxy and thus treats his conservatism as a far greater offense than that of, say, Antonin Scalia. This kind of prejudice may not lead to pogroms and lynchings, but it's divisive and often ugly all the same.
I don't think Easterbrook is anti-semitic. I have read him for years and always found him interesting. But I do think he is the way many of the Left think about is usually a device used to bolster up disenfranchised group of peoples, which I understand, but it has unfortunate ramifications. It is not an explicitly rascist or prejudiced way of looking at society, but structurally, it can't help but be. The subservience of individual recognition in favor of group affiliation is a form of prejudice. And I think it is that orientation that Easterbrook suffered from. Anyway. perhaps I will expound on this sometime, but I thought Best of the Web was again the best today.

James Lileks goes to the circus...

Nothing exciting, no political statements. Just James Lileks writing a sweet column about going to the circus with his daughter.