Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Generalissimo Franco, however, is still dead.

So, what do you say when your dead son calls you? Evidently, you say "Well, damn boy. We just had your funeral today."

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Anti-Idiotarian Manifesto

Well, I seem to be slow in catching on, but I just found this: The Anti-Idotarian Manifesto.

I think I can officially declare myself to be an Anti-Idiotarian.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Why it's important the Democrats wise up.

A self-proclaimed Democrat that I've never heard of makes some very good points at Opinionjournal.com today.

Watching the primary campaigns among this year's pathetic crop of Democratic candidates, I can't help but think that their campaigns would be vastly improved if they would only rise to the level of "Death to the Republicans."

Instead, their platforms range from Howard Dean's "Bush is the devil" to everybody else's "I'll make you rich, and Bush is quite similar to the devil." Since President Bush is quite plainly not the devil, one wonders why anyone in the Democratic Party thinks this ploy will play with the general public.

. . .

And the most vile part of this campaign against Mr. Bush is that the terrorist war is being used as a tool to try to defeat him--which means that if Mr. Bush does not win, we will certainly lose the war. Indeed, the anti-Bush campaign threatens to undermine our war effort, give encouragement to our enemies, and cost American lives during the long year of campaigning that lies ahead of us.

Osama bin Laden's military strategy is: If you make a war cost enough, Americans will give up and go home. Now, bin Laden isn't actually all that bright; his campaign to make us go home is in fact what brought us into Afghanistan and Iraq. But he's still telling his followers: Keep killing Americans and eventually, antigovernment factions within the United States will choose to give up the struggle.

It's what happened in Somalia, isn't it? And it's what happened in Vietnam, too.

Reuters recently ran a feature that trumpeted the "fact" that U.S. casualties in Iraq have now surpassed U.S. casualties in the first three years of the Vietnam War. Never mind that this is a specious distortion of the facts, which depends on the ignorance of American readers. The fact is that during the first three years of the war in Vietnam, dating from the official "beginning" of the war in 1961, American casualties were low because (a) we had fewer than 20,000 soldiers there, (b) most of them were advisers, deliberately trying to avoid a direct combat role, (c) our few combat troops were special forces, who generally get to pick and choose the time and place of their combat, and (d) because our presence was so much smaller, there were fewer American targets than in Iraq today.

Compare our casualties in Iraq with our casualties in Vietnam when we had a comparable number of troops, and by every rational measure--casualties per thousand troops, casualties per year, or absolute number of casualties--you'll find that the Iraq campaign is far, far less costly than Vietnam. But the media want Americans to think that Iraq is like Vietnam--or rather, that Iraq is like the story that the Left likes to tell about Vietnam.

Vietnam was a quagmire only because we fought it that way. If we had closed North Vietnam's ports and carried the war to the enemy, victory could have been relatively quick. However, the risk of Chinese involvement was too great. Memories of Korea were fresh in everyone's minds, and so Vietnam was fought in such a way as to avoid "another Korea." That's why Vietnam became, well, Vietnam.

. . . .

In other words, the Iraq campaign isn't over--and President Bush has explicitly said so all along. So the continuation of combat and casualties isn't a "failure" or a "quagmire," it's a "war." And during a war, patriotic Americans don't blame the deaths on our government. We blame them on the enemy that persists in trying to kill our soldiers.


Am I saying that critics of the war aren't patriotic?
Not at all--I'm a critic of some aspects of the war. What I'm saying is that those who try to paint the bleakest, most anti-American, and most anti-Bush picture of the war, whose purpose is not criticism but deception in order to gain temporary political advantage, those people are indeed not patriotic. They have placed their own or their party's political gain ahead of the national struggle to destroy the power base of the terrorists who attacked Americans abroad and on American soil.

Patriots place their loyalty to their country in time of war ahead of their personal and party ambitions. And they can wrap themselves in the flag and say they "support our troops" all they like--but it doesn't change the fact that their program is to promote our defeat at the hands of our enemies for their temporary political advantage.

Think what it will mean if we elect a Democratic candidate who has committed himself to an antiwar posture in order to get his party's nomination.

Our enemies will be certain that they are winning the war on the battleground that matters--American public opinion. So they will continue to kill Americans wherever and whenever they can, because it works.

Our soldiers will lose heart, because they will know that their commander in chief is a man who is not committed to winning the war they have risked death in order to fight. When the commander in chief is willing to call victory defeat in order to win an election, his soldiers can only assume that their lives will be thrown away for nothing. That's when an army, filled with despair, becomes beatable even by inferior forces.

He even rips on the media:


Our national media are covering this war as if we were "losing the peace"--even though we are not at peace and we are not losing. Why are they doing this? Because they are desperate to spin the world situation in such a way as to bring down President Bush.

It's not just the war, of course. Notice that even though our recent recession began under President Clinton, the media invariably refer to it as if Mr. Bush had caused it; and even though by every measure, the recession is over, they still cover it as if the American economy were in desperate shape.

This is the same trick they played on the first President Bush, for his recession was also over before the election--but the media worked very hard to conceal it from the American public. They did it as they're doing it now, with yes-but coverage: Yes, the economy is growing again, but there aren't any new jobs. Yes, there are new jobs now, but they're not good jobs.

And that's how they're covering the war. Yes, the Taliban were toppled, but there are still guerrillas fighting against us in various regions of Afghanistan. (As if anyone ever expected anything else.) Yes, Saddam was driven out of power incredibly quickly and with scant loss of life on either side, but our forces were not adequately prepared to do all the nonmilitary jobs that devolved on them as an occupying army.


According to the common knowledge, Dean is doing well because he's "about something," not just "trying to be 'Bush-lite'." I don't think that's true. He's not about something other than "not Bush." He's being trumpeted as a moderate because he has one not-so-much-left notion - that Vermont's gun laws probably shouldn't be the same as New York's. He may, unlike the rest of the anti-gun crowd, even acknowlege that the Second Amendment actually might mean something and that the Federal Government shouldn't be just going ahead and violating the Constitution. On the other hand, he probably also supports campaign finance reform, which (notwithstanding one of the worst SCOTUS decisions ever) is unbelievably violative the letter and the spirit, IMHO, of the First Amendment.

But his foreign policy is either (1) cynical, reflexive "Bush-bad" opportunism; or (2) cynical, reflexive "US-bad" leftist crap. Either way, as much as it plays with the college crowd that seems to be his base, I think it's gonna fail miserably with grown-ups.

I like having two parties. I want two parties. I cherish gridlock as a way to keep the government from just doing stupid stuff. But the Democrats are killing themselves, and the Republicans seem to be filling the void. We're heading for one-party rule, and I don't like that one bit. Even if that one party is the Republicans, especially if they're going to pass crap like a Medicare "reform" giveaway, and a campaign finance law that criminalizes political speech within 60 days of an election.

Monday, December 15, 2003

It was never a quagmire...

The one apparently sane Canadian notes:

Iraq has never been a quagmire, nor even close. The death toll since formal hostilities ended in May has been serious, but pales next to the mountain of corpses piled up by Saddam's regime.

. . . .

Opponents of the war and opponents of George W. Bush tend to be one and the same, and the intensity of their dislike for the President is such that it has often coloured the picture of Iraq that the world has been served.

The trick has been to equate Iraq to Vietnam. Al Gore made a point of it last week when he threw his backing behind Howard Dean for the Democratic party's presidential nomination, describing the situation as a "quagmire" -- the emotionally loaded term everyone knows means Vietnam.

Even on the surface this is a ludicrous proposition. U.S. involvement in Vietnam lasted the better part of two decades and killed more than 58,000 American troops. At its peak the United States had 440,000 soldiers in Vietnam, and they were dying at a rate of almost 320 a week. It was a jungle country, ideal for guerrilla warfare, in which insurgents had crucial support from major powers able to easily supply them with the weapons and financial support to carry on. And even as the United States fought on, it never had a workable plan for a legitimate government that could govern the country.

None of this is true in Iraq, nor even close.

. . .

It has somehow become more acceptable to attack Mr. Bush for risking U.S. lives than to condemn Saddam for murdering Iraqis. A report this week indicated Saddam's regime had executed 61,000 people in Baghdad alone. He is believed to have killed 180,000 Kurds, and his post-Kuwait reprisals on Shiite Muslims left another 60,000 dead.

He ran torture chambers and stuffed his prisons with political opponents. People were mutilated, apparently for no better reason than the entertainment of their killers. Critics had explosives strapped to them and were blown to bits. Dissidents were tossed off tall buildings. Since the U.S. invasion, authorities have found 41 mass graves; hundreds more are believed to exist, containing between 300,000 and 500,000 victims.

Yet the focus has been on attacking the Americans, a situation that may finally change with the capture of Saddam. It underlines a simple question. Given the choice, who would you want running your country: a democratic if imperfect administration like the one in Washington, or that madman they dragged out of a hole in the ground yesterday?


Judging from some of the posts on The Democratic Underground (Right Wing News has a decent selection), apparently some people really would prefer Saddam Hussein.

I've been noting a sad lack of appreciation for what freedom actually is. I think, though that just as the far-left and the far-right are identically authoritarian, and some things can be so uncool as to be cool (e.g. Neil Diamond), that the "intelligencia" has now gotten so "intelligent" that it is now stupid.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About

Well, this is amusing.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Iraqis Rally ... Against Terrorism

Ever since yesterday, when I starting seeing the images, I've been waiting for the headlines to appear. Somewhere. Anywhere. Sadly, nowhere. And I don't get it.

Look at the headlines from yesterday or today online or in print. You will see lot's of talk on the anger by the France, Germany, Russia, et. al. re: exclusion from reconstruction contracts (e.g., here, here and here). You will see lot's about how large portions of the new Iraqi army supposedly quit. You will see that more US soldiers died tragically and that a suicide bomber was thwarted. All important news. But did you ever see anything about the fact that there was a huge anti-terror / pro-democracy rally in Bagdad yesterday? I honestly did not expect the NY Times to cover it. I mean, come on. But I did expect Fox or WSJ to do something with it. Fox did have some images at one point. But no headlines, no frontpage stuff. In fact, I can't find anything about it.

Actually, Jeff Jarvis notes that the Times did cover it....
Well, the New York Times did cover the anti-terrorism demonstration (cover as in how Paris Hilton's clothes cover her, cover as in how well Rudy Guliani's hair covers his head, cover as in cover your ass by putting it in somewhere rather than cover the waterfront, which is supposed to be your job). Don't blink or you'll miss it. I'll spare you the first eight paragraphs of the story. This is the ninth:

In contrast, a heavily policed march in central Baghdad on Wednesday, organized peacefully by the country's major political parties, drew thousands of Iraqis to protest attacks by guerrilla fighters, which have injured and killed Iraqi civilians as well as occupiers.


That's it. Roger Simon asks "Do you think for one moment that if thousands had been marching for Saddam... for the fascists... excuse me "insurgents"... it wouldn't have been front page news?". And Glenn Reynolds thinks the Times coverage is almost harmful... "This kind of ass-covering ("See! We covered it!") is almost worse than not covering it at all. Pathetic."

What is this about? Is it that they want us to lose? Some maybe, but not all. Are they, as suggested, "consciously or unconsciously seeking "vindication" of their anti-war views?" Some maybe, but not all. The breadth of this missed coverage is simply too widespread for these explanations. If Hamas had hundreds march in Gaza, it would be headline news. If Shiites marched in the thousands in Bagdad to protest the occupation, it would be headline news. Why am I so certain....because we have seen it time and time again. But here, thousands marched to protest the "insurgents" and support democracy. Nowhere. Is the media simply not structured well to handle positive news? Is all positive news relegated to exposes or special story assignments?

I have heard that theory before. When no positive news was being reported from Iraq, I heard the explanation that the press is used to reporting bad events... that, for example, here at home, we don't hear about good things being reported typically, just the bad. So that's what reporters are used to doing. I then heard reporters complain that they keep trying to report about good news, but as they work on it, another bomb goes off and they report that.

Well, I say poppycock. What a lame excuse. Sorry, but nothing about Iraq is normal and EVERYTHING that goes on there is news to us back here. We understand our society, so we can figure out that what we read in the papers about events here at home is not representative about everything, just certain events. But that is not true in Iraq. That cars run, that schools are open, that markets are doing business, that hospitals are hiring (or firing), that good and bad things happen ...all news to us. And the choice to report one event over another is simply that...a choice. That another soldier dies is tragic and should be reported but shouldn't pre-empt anything else that is vying for space. Report both. Put it in the same story... who cares. Just report it.

Yet here we have AN EVENT. A march. Thousands of people. And still no mainstream coverage. I only know about it because I read the blogs. And it wouldn't have been possible but for Zayed, who is an Iraqi and who received a camera from Jeff Jarvis, that many people would have known. If you want to see pictures captured by Fox (but again, hardly reported), go to Donald Sensing.

So, we seem to have real problem here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Our Man Hitchens Unplugged

David Horowitz' Frong Page Magazine had an interview with the man on Iraq and the Left and it makes for some very interesting reading. Read the whole thing. But here are a few snapshots.

On convincing his former comrades:
"Most of the leftists I know are hoping openly or secretly to leverage difficulty in Iraq in order to defeat George Bush. For innumerable reasons, including the one I cited earlier, I think that this is a tactic and a mentality utterly damned by any standard of history or morality. What I mainly do is try to rub that in.

As I’ve told you before, there are some former comrades who take a decent position but they all half-understand that it’s now an anomalous one in terms of the “Left” as a whole. Some pessimistic liberals who don’t wish to sabotage the effort still describe the war against jihadism and dictatorship as “unwinnable”.

My short reply is that it is un-loseable. We still haven’t captured Radovan Karadzic or Ratko Mladic, who are hiding somewhere in Europe ten years after murdering over 10,000 Muslims in one day. But their protector regime is gone and one day they will be caught or killed. Osama bin Laden is dead in my opinion, and probably has been dead for more than a year. Saddam Hussein is alive, but not where he planned to be.

The Taliban and the Ba’ath and the Serbian Socialist Party will not regain power, however much violence they muster. These are facts. The combat as a whole will never be “over”, because it is part of a permanent struggle between reason and unreason, among other things. But to assert that rather minimal point is also to assert that the enemy cannot win. Given the proven nature of that enemy, I hope I need not say any more about what I think of its subconscious sympathizers, let alone its overt ones."


On being called a neo-con:
"[T]here is a sort of buried compliment here that I find I am willing to accept. The neo-cons, or some of them, decided that they would back Clinton when he belatedly decided for Bosnia and Kosovo against Milosevic, and this even though they loathed Clinton, because the battle against religious and ethnic dictatorship in the Balkans took precedence. This, by the way, was partly a battle to save Muslims from Catholic and Christian Orthodox killers. That impressed me. The neo-cons also took the view, quite early on, that coexistence with Saddam Hussein was impossible as well as undesirable. They were dead right about that. They had furthermore been thinking about the menace of jihadism when most people were half-asleep.

And then I have to say that I was rather struck by the way that the Weekly Standard and its associated voices took the decision to get rid of Trent Lott earlier this year, thus removing an embarrassment as well as a disgrace from the political scene. And their arguments were on points of principle, not “perception.” I liked their ruthlessness here, and their seriousness, at a time when much of the liberal Left is not even seriously wrong, but frivolously wrong, and babbles without any sense of responsibility. (I mean, have you read their sub-Brechtian stuff on Halliburton....?) And revolution from above, in some states and cases, is - as I wrote in my book A Long Short War - often preferable to the status quo, or to no revolution at all.

The matter on which I judge people is their willingness, or ability, to handle contradiction..."


On our ability to win this war on terror:
"Since I do still find that I use the method of historical materialism (not yet surpassed by any rival) I think it’s worth stating some unarguable propositions. First - all jihads have always failed. The last serious one, which was the declaration of a holy war by the Ottoman Empire in 1914, ended by the loss of that empire as well as the loss of the war, and was a defeat and erasure so complete that many people who hear Osama bin Laden’s call for the restoration of the Caliphate don’t even know what he’s screeching about. Lesser jihads tend to consume themselves in quarrels over spoils or doctrines: an irrational view of the world will tell against you in the end, as is shown by the crazy and self-destructive tactics now being pursued by Islamists in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey and elsewhere. They wish to be martyrs - we should be willing to help.

Second - dictatorship is a very unstable and uncertain (and highly vulnerable) method of rule. Third, no combination of dictatorship and clericalism can possibly stand against the determined power of the United States. In other words, the eventual result is certain victory, military and political, however long the task may take. It can be useful to bear this in mind. The job of citizens is to make sure that this American power really is self-determined, and not left either to professionals or to amateurs. We are not watching for the outcome of this war: we are participants in it and had better comport ourselves as such."


And on being asked by the interviewer only about the left's shortcomings:
"Concerning Iraq, I have to remind you that those of us who took the regime-change position (I invited the readers of my Nation column to support the Iraqi National Congress and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan several years ago) were confronted first by the arguments of Bush Senior - who wrote openly that it was better and safer to leave Saddam in power in 1991 - and of Bush Junior, who ran against Gore on the question of “nation building”. We also had to fight against the CIA, as we indeed still do, and against the Buchanan-type forces grouped around the magazine The American Conservative. Finally, we faced the conservative Arabists of the State Department and at least half of the staff of Kissinger Associates. So don’t be so goddam cocky about who was, or was not “pro-American”. Having changed my own mind after the end of the first “Gulf War”, I had at least as many arguments to conduct with Washington’s right wing as I did with the soft or the dogmatic left, and would not wish this any other way.


I liked that last point and he is right. I do not think Bush would be the president he is but for 9-11. Somehow, he shed his isolationist instincts and we are better for it.

The interview is in two parts apparently,...the next is on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict! Yikes...I have no doubt the Hitch will make my head steam with some of his thoughts on that topic. Nonetheless, when I do agree with him, I agree with him fully and when it comes to this war and the US's place and role in the world, Our Man Hitchens is right on target.

By the way, one of the most interesting interviews I ever read with Hitchens is found here. I recommend this one.

The Shoe Bomber

Remember the guy who got on a plane with a bomb built into his shoe and tried to light it? Did you know his trial is over? Did you know he was sentenced? Did you see/hear any of the judge's comments on TV/Radio? I didn't think so. Our diligent media at work again. Everyone should hear what the judge had to say:

Ruling by Judge William Young U.S. District Court
Prior to sentencing, the Judge asked the defendant if he had anything to say. His response:
After admitting his guilt to the court for the record, Reid also admitted his "allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah," defiantly stated "I think I ought not apologize for my actions," and told the court "I am at war with your country." Judge Young then delivered the statement quoted below, a stinging condemnation of
Reid in particular and terrorists in general.

January 30, 2003, United States vs. Reid.

Judge Young:
"Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you. On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutive with the other. That's 80 years. On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years consecutive to the 80
years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 for the aggregate fine of $2 million. The Court accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines. The Court imposes upon you the $800 special assessment.

The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further. This is the sentence that is provided for by our
statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence.

Let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist coconspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice. You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were, and he said you're no big deal. You're no big deal.

What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing. And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know. It seems to me you hate the one thing that is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose.

Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges. We are about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.

Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bare any burden, pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure.

Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.

The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid?
That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. You know it always will.

Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down."

So, how much of this Judge's comments did we hear on our TV sets? We need more judges like Judge Young, but that's another subject.
Pass this around. Everyone should and needs to hear what this fine judge had to say. Powerful words that strike home....

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The Bandwagon

Well, eventually I figured the rise in anti-semitism would start making the mainstream news. And it seems to have happened. There are a flurry of articles on it now. New York Magazine has it on their cover with a sobering, sometimes maddening, and absolutely depressing article this week. Time has a slew of them: two in November (An Old Evil Raises Its Weary Head and What's Causing the Anti-Semitic Attacks?) and a more substantial one last week (Seven Days Of Hatred). And today, National Review (other than the excellent ones written by Victor Davis Hanson, in particular, Those Jews) published a piece by Andrew Stuttaford called As Rome Starts to Smoulder: European illusions of multiculturalism. Stuttaford's piece is particularly interesting. While I think he great underestimates the deep-seated antisemitism that I believe is endemic in Europe, I think he is right that at least part of what is going on is the "Europeans' desire to accept any compromise so long as it could buy them a quiet life, at least for a while."
It's an attitude that used to show itself in the argument, once popular among large sections of the European Left, that there was a broad degree of moral equivalence between the Cold War's American (Holiday Inn, McDonalds) and Soviet (Gulag, mass graves) protagonists. It's an attitude that regards "peace" (that word again) as a good that trumps all others ... so when Israel is labeled the worst threat to world peace, or the U.S. and North Korea are described as being as dangerous as each other, it shows only that Europeans, left powerless by years of relative decline, falling self-confidence, and shrunken military budgets, have realized that both Israel and America are more interested in self-defense than suicide. That these two countries may be fully entitled to take the positions they do is, naturally, quite irrelevant.


He is also right in noting that Europe is playing a dangerous game by appeasing the changing face of its demographics.
To the EU, combating anti-Semitism, it seems, is less important than preserving the dangerous illusions of multiculturalism, and, probably, recognizing the demographics of a Europe where there are more Muslims to appease than Jews to protect.


I guess I should be glad to see all this attention to the issue. The increasing acceptance of social and political anti-semitic speech is so alarming that dramatic action needs to be taken over and over again to counter it.... if possible. Maybe this is a start. But I'm not that comforted. Most of the articles are facile and superficial and have an undercurrent of blaming Israeli policy for at least some of what is going on. Stuttaford's and Hanson's pieces are much better but will never reach the necessary audiences (if there is such a thing). So while I welcome the recognition, we have a long way to go. And a much, much, much longer way in terms of strategies on how to counter this evil.

UPDATE: I forgot to post this article by Anne Bayefsky in the Wall Street Journal today: The U.N.'s Dirty Little Secret: The international body refuses to condemn anti-Semitism. A must read.

Monday, December 08, 2003

First Hand Account - Letter From A Captain In Iraq

I got this from a friend of a friend.
/Stuart

We knew there was a dinner planned with Ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez. There were 600 seats available and all the units in the division were tasked with filling a few tables. Naturally, the 501st MI battalion got our table.
Soldiers were grumbling about having to sit through another dog-and-pony show, so we had to pick soldiers to attend. I chose not to go. But, about 1500 the G2, LTC Devan, came up to me and with a smile, asked me to come to dinner with him, to meet him in his office at 1600 and bring a camera. I didn't really care about getting a picture with Sanchez or Bremer, but when the division's senior intelligence officer asks you to go, you go.
We were seated in the chow hall, fully decorated for Thanksgiving when aaaaallllll kinds of secret service guys showed up. That was my first clue, because Bremer's been here before and his personal security detachment is not that big. Then BG Dempsey got up to speak, and he welcomed ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez. Bremer thanked us all and pulled out a piece of paper as if to give a speech. He mentioned that the President had given him this thanksgiving speech to give to the troops. He then paused and said that the senior man present should be the one to give it. He then looked at Sanchez, who just smiled.
Bremer then said that we should probably get someone more senior to read the speech. Then, from behind the camouflage netting, the President of the United States came around. The mess hall actually erupted with hollering. Troops bounded to their feet with shocked smiles and just began cheering with all their hearts. The building actually shook. It was just unreal. I was absolutely stunned. Not only for the obvious, but also because I was only two tables away from the podium. There he stood, less than thirty feet away from me! The cheering went on and on and on. Soldiers were hollering, cheering, and a lot of them were crying. There was not a dry eye at my table. When he stepped up to the cheering, I could clearly see tears running down his cheeks. It was the most surreal moment I've had in years. Not since my wedding and Aaron being born. Here was this man, our President, came all the way around the world, spending 17 hours on an airplane and landing in the most dangerous airport in the world, where a plane was shot out of the sky not six days before. Just to spend two hours with his troops. Only to get on a plane and spend another 17 hours flying back. It was a great moment, and I will never forget it. He delivered his speech, which we all loved, when he looked right at me and held his eyes on me. Then he stepped down and was just mobbed by the soldiers. He slowly worked his way all the way around the chow hall and shook every last hand extended. Every soldier who wanted a photo with the President got one. I made my way through the line, got dinner, then wolfed it down as he was still working the room.
You could tell he was really enjoying himself. It wasn't just a photo opportunity. This man was actually enjoying himself! He worked his way
over the course of about 90 minutes towards my side of the room. Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to shake a few hands. I got a picture with Ambassador Bremer, Talabani (acting Iraqi president) and Achmed Chalabi (another member of the ruling council) and Condaleeza Rice, who was there with him.
I felt like I was drunk. He was getting closer to my table so I went back oer to my seat. As he passed and posed for photos, he looked my in the eye and "How you doin', captain." I smiled and said "God bless you, sir." To which he responded "I'm proud of what you do, captain." Then moved on.

Incompetence or Malevolence

Best of the Web posted an unusual piece of reporting from Reuters today:
"In 1962 President John F. Kennedy issued a stirring call for the nation to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Apollo 17 astronauts landed there in December 1972."

As Taranto points out, seems to be just another case of the news agency taking a swipe at the US for something...in this case, that we didn't make it by the end of the decade. But that isn't even close to right, is it. As Taranto reminds us (in case we needed reminding), the US obviously made it to the moon in 1969, with Apollo 11. Not exactly cryptic history. Kind of an amazing omission by Reuters, isn't it? So, I just have to ask (as I did with respect to Senior Carter)...is that just incompetence and bad reporting (or just meeting a hurried deadline) or was there some malevolent intent to change our memory of the truth? Anything is possible, but I am going to assume that they know what they are reporting....

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Julie Burchill, Redux

The other day, I posted Julie Burchill's piece in the Guardian, on why she was leaving her employer. She just wrote another article on antisemitism, and it is terrific. Rather than add my babble, here is a snapshot, which blew me away. This follows a summary of notable rabid jew-haters:
"To contemplate the thought processes of such individuals makes any decent person want to wash their hands until the slime of hypocritical hatred is swept away. But when whole sections of society peddle such lies, it's scarier still. And when carriers of the disease are shielded by those who govern us, you start to believe the lunatics have taken over the asylum: the EU's racism watchdog recently suppressed a report on the rise of anti-semitism because it concluded that Muslims were behind many incidents. What sort of world do we live in, when racism is "allowed" to be reported only if it comes from the white and the right? What about a stubborn, shimmering little thing called truth?

I don't care who's doing it - white, brown or pink-and-purple paisley-patterned - if they're picking on the Red Sea Pedestrians, they're wrong 'uns, like all racists. Make no mistake, the Jews are not hated because of Israel; they are hated for their very modernity, mobility, lust for life and love of knowledge. Their most basic toast, "L'chaim!" (To Life!), is a red rag to those who fetishise death because they have failed to take any joy from their life on earth.

"Not our Jews! Leave our Jews alone! " yelled the locals who turned out to fight the Mosleyites in Cable Street. It may be politically incorrect to call this ancient people "ours", but what the hell: they're tough, they can take it. And they are still our Jews, in that if they are wiped out, in Israel or anywhere else, we will be wiped out, too, one day, all of the modern world and its achievements - swept back into the Dark Ages mulch from whence we came. The cry of Cable Street still rings true. Not our Jews! But, this time, "our" means mankind, and the very future of our species."
(Hat tip to Norm, as usual). Read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

A few random thoughts for the day...

First, check out Noam Chomsky's latest 'thoughts' on anti-semitism in the Independent. Here's a smidgen just to get your juices flowing...
"In the West, fortunately, it scarcely exists now, though it did in the past. There is, of course, what the Anti-Defamation League calls "the real anti-Semitism", more dangerous than the old-fashioned kind: criticism of policies of the state of Israel and US support for them, opposition to a vast US military budget, etc. In contrast, anti-Arab racism is rampant. The manifestations are shocking, in elite intellectual circles as well, but arouse little concern because they are considered legitimate: the most extreme form of racism."

(Hat tip to Norm.) That's right. That is why there are so many Muslim children are afraid to walk the streets or attend school in France, why Mosques are being blown up in Instanbul and why Israelis are strapping bombs to their chests and blowing up buses in the Arab world. Jews on the other hand...perfectly safe throughout the world. What is it about this guy? Read the rest of the interview. Enough in there to have him committed.

Next, check out Michelle's thoughts on Powell's decision to meet with the Geneva 'Peace Talks' participants.
"For now, Powell should be taken to task for getting involved in this sham of a peace process at all, and Bush should make it clear that Powell was acting on his own. Even if it makes the administration look shaky, it's better than looking like you stand in line with Clinton, Carter and Mandella by supporting terror."

She's absolutely right. Providing legitimacy to these talks is incredibly reckless and dangerous. That Carter is so enthusiastic is no surprise...one step to his 'final solution.' But Bush can't let Powell use the administration to support this effort.

And then there is Julie Burchill from the Guardian. I have never read her before, but will never forget her now. She has written for this paper for some time, but is now leaving because of what she call's its bias against Israel.

"Not only do I admire the Guardian, I also find it fun to read, which in a way is more of a compliment. But if there is one issue that has made me feel less loyal to my newspaper over the past year, it has been what I, as a non-Jew, perceive to be a quite striking bias against the state of Israel. Which, for all its faults, is the only country in that barren region that you or I, or any feminist, atheist, homosexual or trade unionist, could bear to live under. "

Bless her beautiful heart. Read the rest. Really.

Finally, do you watch Nightline? I don't, but every now and then turn it on because I have the failed memory that it somehow is an interesting show. Sort of like nostolgia (which Christopher Lasch once called the abdication of memory). Anyway, Tuesday night I turned it on at the beginning and in the first 30 seconds, Hair-man Koppel mentioned how US lawmakers are intimidated by the Israeli lobby against voicing criticism against Israel and how Israel is not only not making peace but expanding the settlements. That was in the first thirty seconds. And not only was I pissed, I was confused. What the hell did one issue have to do with the other... where was this heading. Well, I found out....sort of. The topic became a 'discussion' of Israeli Air Force pilots who have refused to carry out airstrikes in Palestinian areas, calling the practice "illegal... immoral... and corrupting [to] Israeli society as a whole." Now I was really pissed off and even more confused. The premise is ridiculous, but the content is just a barrage of shit thrown at the screen to make the overwhelming point of how horrible Israel is.

But I digress, .... it is anti-Muslim hatred that we need to be concerned about.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Wrong

Peter:
You are mistaken. The person whom accepted wisdom terms the "smartest President of them all" IS an idiot!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Freudian Slip?

Did you see what one of our ex-Presidents and resident blowhard, Jimmy "I Never Met a Dictator I Didn't Like" Carter, said the other day with respect to the Middle-East peace process? Criticizing the Bush administration for what he called its "bias" toward Israel, he speculated that history might have been different if he had been re-elected president in 1980:
"Had I been elected to a second term, with the prestige and authority and influence and reputation I had in the region, we could have moved to a final solution."
Okay.... let's just skip his ridiculous speculation about being re-elected given that he lost in one of the worst landslide defeats of a sitting president in this country's history, and let's just move beyond his remarkable display of arrogance with respect to what he calls his prestige AND authority AND influence AND reputation (sorry, but Camp David was about two men with true courage and a third who was needed only to foot the bill), HOW could Carter, a man who 'purports' to be a mediator and statesman, use the term "final solution?" Two possibilities I can think of: he is either an idiot or a man with deep-seated hatred of certain semitic peoples. I am going to assume he is not an idiot....

Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai's gonna want a royalty...

Notwithstanding the fact that Kabbalah is an ancient tradition, the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles, home to such Torah luminaries as Madonna and Britney Spears, has evidently tried to trademark the red string 'round the wrist used to stave off the evil eye. The U.S. has turned them down.

No word yet on whether the author of the Zohar is entitled to compensation...

Update: Thanks, Professor Volokh!