Commentary From the Mile High City

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Joshua Sharf

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January 5, 2009

The Good Guys Gather

Inside the Hebrew Educational Alliance, the pro-Israel speakers and community members met to promote moral clarity. I had been afraid that it would be heavy on the peace and light on the moral distinctions between the two sides, but I was pleasantly surprised. Below, Rabbi Bruce Dollin gives a strong defense of Israel (I missed the first 30 seconds or so). Gil Artzyeli, the Deputy Consul from LA, also addressed the group, and his video is at my YouTube channel.

Towards the end, the assembled recited the prayers for the IDF and for the State of Israel. I think it's important to reprint the IDF prayer here, so you can see what a Jewish prayer for the military looks like:

Bless the soldiers of Israel's Defense Forces, and every one who stands guard in order to protect our people. May the Holy One, Blessed be He, protect them and save them from all troubles and afflictions, from all sickness and injury, and send blessing to all their endeavors. May the words of the Prophets come to fruition through them, "and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. And each shall sit under the vine and under the fig tree and none shall be afraid," and let us say, Amen.

That's slightly different from the sentiments expressed by the pro-Hamas demonstrators outside the synagogue:

Note the one sign that says, "Live by the sword, Die by the sword," featuring a mushroom cloud. Can anyone find me any interpretation other than a naked threat of annihilation?

I also like the claim that "750,000 were murdered by the 'Israelites.'" Unless they're out there representing the Canaanites, Amalekites, and Moabites, I have no idea what they could be talking about.

And of course, for some reason, the chants of "Allahu Akhbar" went unremarked by the media.

January 4, 2009

Gathering For Israel

Tomorrow evening at 5:30 PM at the Hebrew Education Alliance, at 3600 S. Ivanhoe St. in Denver, the Jewish community is sponsoring a "Gathering for Israel." It has three sponsoring and 20 co-sponsoring organizations, including synagogues of every denomination and Faith Bible Chapel.

I don't have any more information at the moment about the program, but to paraphrase the old ad, you don't have to be Jewish to come.

December 31, 2008

Hamas's Friends in Colorado

Last night, Denver had its very own pro-Hamas rally on the steps of the state capitol building, mostly involving sign-waving, chanting, and evening prayers. Yes, organized in some small part by, well, she who doesn't use that last name any more since she got married.

"We have a neighbor who is active with Hamas. The entire neighborhood has evacuated. They are afraid of being attacked."

Good for them. I have an even better idea.

Shemsadeen Ben-Masaud, a youth director with the Muslim American Society, led the crowd in chants: "Hey, hey, ho, ho - the occupation has got to go" as well as "Long live Palestine."

Ah, yes, that Muslim American Society. Maybe that explains the chants the Rocky didn't mention:

They keep this sort of thing up and Islam is going to have an image problem.

As well as some of the other signs that somehow didn't make it into the paper.

Because nothing says, "a free people," like a bloody red fist punching through the bottom of their flag:

Ah, the police here aren't like the police in Gaza:

For the Powerline guys, yes, it seems as though the domestic political affiliations and hopes are the same here as in Minneapolis, just two sides of the same sign:

The obligatory appropriation of Jewish holidays and horrors:

Which for some reason isn't as bad as appropriating their food. Look, sushi, pizza, and hamburgers aren't American, either, but you don't see those countries going out and attacking the US, do you?

No American flags in evidence, for some reason, but the baby blues were there for all to see:

As I said, a fair amount of the chanting was in Arabic, there were public prayers, and there are plans for Friday public prayers to be held there either this Friday or on an upcoming Friday. Not a prayer vigil. Friday public prayers, as in, "which way to the wudu?" prayers.

But...I didn't think this had anything to do with religion.

December 26, 2008

The Crucifixions Will Continue Until Morale Improves

According to a report in the London-based Al Hayat:

The Hamas parliament in the Gaza Strip voted in favor of a law allowing courts to mete out sentences in the spirit of Islam, the London-based Arab daily Al Hayat reported Wednesday. Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh...

According to the bill, approved in its second reading and awaiting a third reading before the approval of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as the Palestinian constitution demands, courts will be able to condemn offenders to a plethora of violent punitive measures in line with Sharia Law.

Such punishments include whipping, severing hands, crucifixion and hanging. The bill reserves death sentences to people who negotiate with a foreign government "against Palestinian interests" and engage in any activity that can "hurt Palestinian morale."

Naturally, Hamas is denying the report, but Palestinian Media Watch has collected a number of previous statements by Hamas, promising to introduce such a code.

Doubt, or at least the attempt to create confusion, about Palestinian legislative proceedings is pretty much a constant in their affairs. When the Palestinian Parliament supposedly voted to amend its charter removing statements hostile to Israel's existence, nobody could be sure how the vote had been taken, if it had been taken, or produce a reliable text of the new charter or agree on what changes had been made.

Then again, even when the western media bother to report their proceedings, they can't even get such basics as the time of day correct, falling for midday candlelight vigils.

Real governments with actual parliaments don't behave this way. Propaganda machines run by dictators do. Hamas isn't serious about governing, any more than the Palestinian Authority is. It does appear serious about maintaining its vicious grip on its own people, and of course, it's most serious about killing Jews.

December 1, 2008

Disarming the Front Lines

Completely missing from media reports of the Mumbai attacks are India's strict gun control laws, which virtually disarmed the people at the point of attack, turning them almost inevitably - and almost immediately - into victims. (Hat Tip: Instapundit)

I'm mentioned before that should you - God forbid - find yourself in such a situation, you must act as though your life is already forfeit, since the jihadis will treat your life that way. Difficult though it is, acting to thwart or complicate the attack is the best way to save your life and those of others.

Apparently, it hasn't occurred to the media that the best way of making sure that doesn't happen is to make the targets helpless.

November 27, 2008

But Don't Call Them Anti-Semitic, or Anything

It's not just westerners:

From the NYT:

The Chabad-Lubavitch center, the local outpost of a global group that promotes Judaism, is located in Nariman House, one of the buildings that has been attacked in Mumbai.

The whereabouts of Rabbi Gavriel, who runs the center, and his wife, Rivka, remain "unknown," according to the group.

And the Moderate Voice is also following the story.

Just remember, to these barbarians, Jews anywhere, anytime, are fair game.

November 21, 2008

The Oldest Hatred, The Newest Slander

You'd think that after, oh, 3300 years, there wouldn't be much new for the anti-Semites to say.

You'd be wrong.

The meme started by History's Greatest Monster, that Ariel Sharon is Jan Smuts with a kipah, has gotten new traction from a group called, "End the Occupation." You might remember. It was in all the papers. Which is why pretty much everyone Jewish who had even looked at the Carter Center from the parking lot walked out of the place in early 2007.(It's a measure of how poorly the Republicans did in 2006 that even Carter couldn't get them re-elected.)

So now, along comes Diana Buttu, and her presentation, taking the ball and running with it. Bringing her Separate Is Not Equal Travelling Road Show and Snake Oil Pharmacy to Boulder on Monday, she showed how effective an unopposed and disingenuous attorney can be when presenting her case.

If repetition is the soul of propaganda, then her main themes were:

1) The Ideology of Superiority
2) There are no "Israeli Arabs," only "Palestinian Citizens of Israel"
3) We are all "privileged."

These are powerful ideas taken together. She refers repeatedly to, "theological underpinnings" of, "apartheid," which can only mean the concept of chosenness. I have been told, but cannot confirm, that she has made that connection explicitly in previous Tour Stops.

She repeated the phrase, "ideology of superiority" at least 11 times. By repeating that theme over and over, it not only demonizes Israel and Israelis, it also deligitimizes anything that Jews might do to defend themselves.

Her reference to "Palestinian Citizens of Israel" makes it easy to identify where she thinks their loyalty ought to lie. Can you say, "Fifth Column?" I knew you could. Never mind that every time rumors surface about turning over eastern Jerusalem start circulating, Jerusalemite Arabs vote with their resident applications concerning which government they prefer. Again, it's intended to deligitimize Israel's control over the Galil and other Arab-majority areas.

As for 3), "privileges" are a left-wing buzz-word of the first order. Just remember that you can be "privileges" and not even know it. And privileges, unlike rights, can and need to be revoked.

The Q&A was more distinguished for the questions Ms, Buttu didn't answer than for those she did. Among those:

  • What solutions do you propose?
  • Do you support a 1-state or a 2-state solution?
  • What can Israel do to defend itself? (The good reverend, accompanying Ms. Buttu as her warm-up act, implied that surrender would be a good start.)
  • What about the Egyptian and Jordanian occupations of Palestine-outside-the-Green-Line?

These, of course, are the tough questions, the ones that might prove embarassing to one of her many constituencies.

Interestingly, among those most-targeted constituencies would be American blacks, those for whom a comparison to apartheid might resonate. All of three showed up.

I'm working on uploading the video of her presentation. It's truly chilling, but forewarned is forearmed.

UPDATE: I'm reminded that Bridget Johnson over at the RMN was there was well.

November 2, 2008

My Dinner with Gloria

Gloria Steinem was in Denver this evening, at a house party designed to get Jews excited about carrying the Obama-message to their friends.

So was I.

While Ms. Steinem proposed to talk about, "the issues," in reality, the one issue on which she appears to actually be qualified to comment is abortion, but it wasn't the issue I was interested in discussing. She had opened her remarks commenting on how wonderful it would be if we could raise "just one generation without violence, since we now know that it is violence in the home that leads to violence in the streets and violence between nations."

Leaving aside the dubious proposition that all the world's wars are a result of corporal punishment, I asked the following: given the crowd assembled, Israel would certainly rank high among its concerns. And yet, it is not the Israelis who train their children to be suicide bombers, dress them up in little uniforms with genocidal slogans printed on their bandanas. It is, instead, Hamas in Gaza and the PLO in the West Bank that does such things. Why then has there been no clear statement of a moral difference between the two sides, not simply an attempt to draw lines this way or that way on a map, to split differences that don't even exist?

"You mean you don't hear that coming from the two candidates?"

"No, I mean I don't hear it from one candidate." Especially given that that one candidate has surrounded himself with people who feel quite comfortable talking to Hamas, including Rashid Khalidi." Because of time, I failed to mention Zbignew Brezezinski, Samantha Power, and others who have quite clearly been hostile to Israel.

Ms. Steinem read a number of supposedly strong pro-Israel quotes. Including the following, "...Israel's greatest security will come from peace." Of course, this reverses the formula exactly. In fact, Israel's peace will follow from its security. The difference is telling.

A friend of mine asked about the LA Times's suppression of a videotape of Obama toasting Mr. Khalidi. Ms. Stieinen professed ignorance of the tape. You know, I actually think it's possible that she lives in a such a bubble, and that the media has so thoroughly ignored this story, that she really might not know about the tape. To her credit, she promised to talk to the Times editors and get back to me, but I doubt she'll learn anything.

Afterwards, I also brought to Ms. Steinem up the fact that Obama hadn't been present for one version of the Iran sanctions bill, but had written a letter saying he would have voted against it. He then claimed in a speech in Israel, credit that "my committee, the Banking Committee," on which he doesn't serve, had passed an Iran sanctions bill. "That," I said, "is why I don't trust him."

"Well," retorted Ms. Steinem, "I don't trust McCain because he's the original go-to-country clubs white male Republican who sits around telling anti-woman and anti-semitic jokes."

Yes. I asked about an instance where Sen. Obama had at least left serious doubt, through his public policy statements, about how seriously he takes a nuclear Iran. And Ms. Steinem responded with an unsubstantiated, and unverifiable ad hominem attack on Sen. McCain.

You may draw your own conclusions.

October 29, 2008

The Third Jihad

Last Thursday, I had a chance to join the Jewish Republicans for a special screening of The Third Jihad, the sequel to the film Obsession. It's largely narrated by Dr. Zudhi Jasser, staunch opponent of political Islam here in America, and friend of my District 6 campaign, for a variety of reasons. (One of those reasons was seated directly in front of me during the screening, but more about that another time.)

Today, at 3:30 PM, on a special edition my Blog Talk Radio show, I'll be interviewing Tom Trento, one of the producers and promoters of the film.

August 24, 2008

The Al Qaeda Fan Club Slithers By

During the pro-troops rally this morning at the Pioneer Memorial, look what slithered by.

The theme of the day:

The irony escapes them:

Yes we can!

Of course. We're just the same as them:

A fine sentiment:

Except for those who use kids as bombs:

The answer to our prayers:

John Andrews, call your office:

Finally, the real agenda. Good to see such honesty at last:

August 20, 2008

Dem Convention Demos Worth Attending

There will be at least two rallies worth being at during the upcoming Democratic Circus Convention. First, the American Victory Coalition will be hosting a rally at Pioneer Monument Park in support of our troops. It'll take place on Sunday from 10-2. Brian Ivers, Steve Ward, and my good friend Neil Dobro will be among the speakers there.

Then, Neil will be at it again on Monday at a rally at the Pepsi Center urging a united Jerusalem, and no creation of a Palestinian terror state.

Yours Truly will be speaking at the Sunday Rally. Strictly speaking, it's not a campaign event, since there are a number of 501(c)3s participating, and we have to keep it non-partisan. But it'll still be a heckuva lot of fun.

August 7, 2008

(Not) Lost in Translation II

Rima Barakat Sinclair also found time to opine on Iraq during her candidacy. In the past, at the Big Tent Event on April 10, and at a subsequent Colorado Federation of Republican Women's meeting, Mrs. Barakat Sinclair has expressed admiration for the salutory effects of the regime change on Iraq's women, and the opportunities they now enjoy. She also - at a Colorado Jewish Republicans meeting in June of 2008 - expressed gratitude for the service and good works of an injured Iraqi veteran who spoke there.

However, in the chat session with Al-Arab Al-Yawm, she responded quite differently to a question from an Iraqi expatriate who had returned to the Middle East. Here's his question:

Ms. Rima ... Being an Iraqi I would like to ask you questions that have been so long in the minds of Iraqis for more than five years. Being an American, and in the vicinity of (American political kitchen) I returned to the region convinced that the US desired a return of Iraqi rights, which are still waiting, hoping for the dream of freedom. How is it that America & Britain are unable to find a solution to Iraq's security crisis, economically and socially? Was it the scheme of the freedom promised by the Iraqis that the price of the blood of thousands and thousands widowed and orphaned thousands and displaced millions? Did the U.S. administration expect the events that took place in Iraq? Are things, in a nutshell, in Iraq as expected and planned by the U.S. government, or was what has happened and is happening in Iraq not an unthinkable shock when I returned preparing to enter Iraq? If the purpose of the occupation of Iraq was to find weapons of mass destruction (across continents), then where can't America eliminate the weapons of mass destruction that kill Iraqis daily, in numbers increasing with the growing militia sources, and the processing of enough simple weapons to destroy dozens of Iraqis?

And here's her answer:

When reality contradicts propaganda and theory, logic gives you an honest answer. You have found the answer to your question yourself. What happened and is happening in Iraq does not constitute a surprise. In 1994, Dick Cheney, George Bush's current Vice-President, predicted the expected consequences for Iraq if U.S. troops entered the country. What was said then is achieved today, knowing that Mr. Cheney is still one of the foremost supporters of starting a war against Iraq. He is today also one of the most zealous advocates of waging war against Iran under the same slogan, "weapons of mass destruction" and "protecting Israel."

This amazing video shows that in 1994, Dick Cheney understood the consequences of invading Iraq:

And here, Mrs. Barakat Sinclair provides a transcript in mixed Arabic and English.

No attempt to defend the invasion. No attempt to defend America's performance. An outright attack on the integrity of a sitting Vice President in a foreign newspaper. Tell-tale quotes around "weapons of mass destruction" when obliquely referring to Iran's nuclear weapons program.

In other parts of the chat session, Mrs. Barakat Sinclair is quite fulsome in her praise of America's protection of free speech and civil liberties. The Constitution completely and correctly protects Mrs. Barakat Sinclair's rights as a citizen. I leave it to the reader to judge the use she's putting them to, and her fitness for office.

August 6, 2008

(Not) Lost In Translation

More from Rima Barakat Sinclair's big adventure, the email chat session with the Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Al-Yawm . The following is a translation of one of her answers to a question from a reader, and consists entirely of her own words:

We are aware that the Arab media influence on Western society is limited, and we also know that the Arab issues are not fairly covered in the western media. There are many Arab American organizations that provide activities aimed at the definition of truth and justice the Palestinian cause.

The source of activities in non-Arab countries, which were founded some 20 years ago, has remained limited within the point of view and vision of the founding members of those organizations. Most have focused their efforts in Washington DC, leaving their influence on public opinion and American media deflated.

There are several factors affecting the ability of Arabs to launch publicity campaigns to explain the issue and win the American people to their side. One of them was the lack of interest by Arab tycoons or companies in producing films or television program available for worldwide sale. This is the reverse of the actions taken by a number of wealthy Jewish supporters of Zionism like Robert Maxwell and Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch. So media campaigns advocating for Arabs or Muslims in America are limited to the efforts of individuals or small enterprises that suffer most from financial difficulties and limited distribution.

The reality of a Western media hostile to Arab and Islamic issues will not change as long as Arabs are only waiting for the West to see the "right," one day, without developing an integrated effort to deliver their message. A dialogue of religions is needed, and part of the Divine message is that the powerful should have compassion for the weak.

Ideally, morality starts with tolerance of others and self-understanding. If people applied this principle in their own lives, it would solve many of their problems. What applies to individuals applies to relations between nations. But reality dictates that the strong decide what is "right." It is the duty of the victim to remind the strong that he didn't consider the effects of his unjust abuse. Therefore, it remains important that one talk with a strong knowledge of his thinking and point of view. This does not mean forgetting or abandoning the right.

The Saudi Madrid initiative has received wide and positive media coverage, especially by the one rabbi invited to the conference. And since Saudi Arabia began and will continue this initiative, it is preferable to encourage religious scholars and Islamic institutions to study and support such initiatives, instead of having the positive reaction only or participating in conferences organized to discuss Islam by non-Muslims.

Well, at least it isn't the weird paranoid theories about McCain and Obama conspiring to turn Jordan into a holding cell for Palestinians.

Note also the purpose of the interfaith activity. Some of us have been called some pretty nasty names for bringing this up. Some of us are owed an apology. None of us expects one.

On the other hand, it does have that bit in it about the Jews running the media. It might be a little more convincing if she had found some actual Jews. Maxwell, yes, but Murdoch & Black, no.

You know, one time I was in Johnstown, Pa., site of the flood, for work. I took the afternoon off and went to a local very minor league baseball game. Of course, I was wearing the yarmulke. So two guys come down, sit on either side of me, and say, "You're not from around here, are you?"

Frequently, those words, directed towards someone wearing a yarmulke are quickly followed by, "and would you please go back." In this case, it turned out to be a couple of local yiddin who worked sports for the local radio station and newspaper. They wanted to let me know about the minyan.

"So," I said, "it's true. We really do control the media."

Back then, it was funny.

UPDATE: The newspaper has been named, and it has been made clear that all the indented comments are Mrs. Barakat Sinclair's own.

June 21, 2008

Thursday Night At the J-GOP

Thursday night at the Jewish Republicans, we heard from Ted Kohler, the latest in three generations of Jews to serve in the US military. His grandfather was in the US Army, and his father served in the Vietnam-era US Navy. Ted himself was wounded when his tank ran over and set off a sarin-gas IED. Since his injuries haven't responded as well as the doctors would have liked, he was given an honorable medical discharge.

Ted gave a brief, military-style briefing, listing the positives and negatives of such battlefield components as the IP, the IA, the US Military, its equipment, and support. While he mentioned a number of items that any milblogger-reader would know about, such as the military's high morale and re-enlistment rate, and the growing importance of the UAV, he also emphasize a number of items that haven't gotten as much attention. For instance, Ted pointed out that the US has been increasingly effective in countering the IED as a weapon.

But one thing stuck out. He notes that the enemy was quick to exploit our "humanity and our rules of engagement." This draws attention to the basic difference between us, and the enemy we are fighting, and it's a distinction that the morally blinkered among us would like the morally lazy among us to ignore.

I asked him about the popularity of milbloggers. He said that while many of the troops, tired from a day of actually fighting of the war, didn't necessarily go home to read about it, he did, and he singled out both Michael Yon and a new milblog I hadn't heard of, Battlefield Tourist. Take a look at both.

May 30, 2008

Bad News From Canada

On the face of it, this would be good news. After all, the journalists sound as though they're defending Steyn. (Via Instapundit):

The Canadian Association of Journalists has formally applied for standing as an intervenor at the upcoming British

Columbia Human Rights Tribunal hearings on a complaint of religious and racial discrimination against Maclean's magazine.


The CAJ has applied to intervene in defence of freedom of the press, freedom of expression and because journalists' interests are clearly affected, on many levels, by the proceedings. One argument the CAJ hopes to make is that human rights cases under section 7 must consider the intent of the writer in assessing published material. (emphasis added)

The problem is that they're defending him on grounds that Styen himself (and Ezra Levant before him) resoundingly and rightly reject. Author's intent doesn't matter at all: the government simply has no business regulating what its citizens may read, or what its citizens may write. Period.

When the Albertians asked Levant about his intent in his hearing, he replied that he had made his intent clear in other forums, but that for the purposes of that hearing, he wanted the Commissioner to assume the basest, most foul, most offensive motives she could allow her blinkered mind to imagine.

If only the CAJ had those, er, guts, Steyn and Levant wouldn't have had their problems to begin with.

UPDATE: Added Links

May 26, 2008

Bill Mauldin...or Michael Yon?

April 13, 2008

Steyn - As Only Steyn Can Be

One of the arguments for hate crimes legislation is that it will deter hate crimes. But of course, this is absurd on the face of it. The drunken gang that's headed out the door to go string up some gay student in Wyoming isn't going to stop at the door and say to themselves, like the cows in a Far Side cartoon, "Hey guys, you know, this is a hate crime..."

The goal here is that minority groups can claim special protections under the law. And the problem is that all groups aren't created equal. Jews think that they'll get protection from Nazis and Islamists, and end up being told to bug off, because the other groups push harder.

In 2002, a brick was thrown through the window of the CU Hillel House, and its sukkah had a swastika painted on it. Nope, the Boulder police, doing their best Lt. Frank Drebbin impersonation, decided that this wasn't a hate crime, nothing to see here, please move along.

On July 4, 2002, an Egyptian living in Los Angeles walked up to the El Al counter at LAX and started plugging bullets into everything in sight. Turns out he had some rather provocative Islamist literature hanging around his apartment and on his front door. Nope, wouldn't want to call this an act of terrorism or anything. Probably upset his family couldn't get a direct flight to Tel Aviv from Cairo.

Just recently in Brooklyn, an orthodox Rabbi had his yarmulke snatched off his head by a group of "youths" shouting "Allah hu-Akhbar." He chased after the gang, and one of them ended up in the middle of the street where a passing car administered its own form of rough justice. New York's finest didn't see anything odd here, just some kids who probably didn't know what "Allah hu-Akhbar" meant. This is the same mentality that would find the violation of Clean Air Colorado regulations the most offensive thing about a cross-burning.

In fact, hate crime laws are unnecessary. I've got as much to fear from someone who beats me up for my wallet as from someone who beats me up for my religion. If there are groups promoting this sort of violence, then there are already conspiracy and RICO laws on the books. And if there's a Moseley hanging around with a full-fledged political movement behind him, a little thing like a hate-crime law won't stop him. Like disarmament treaties, they only work where they're not needed.

But don't just listen to me. Watch Mark Steyn make the case, as only he can.

And then look at who's speaking in favor of the federalization of thought crimes.

April 9, 2008

Rudderless Rockefeller

West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller on John McCain:

He's a fighter pilot. He flies at 35,000 feet and drops laser-guided bombs, missiles. He was long gone when they hit. What happened down there, he doesn't know.

That's unkind, because that's fighting for your nation and that's honorable. But you sort of have to care what goes on in the lives of people. ... and he never gets into those subjects.

Not many people know this, but George McGovern flew bombers over Europe in WWII, and was the main subject in Stephen Ambrose's The Wild Blue. He often spoke of the painful memory of having to drop a bomb at noontime, which ended up hitting a farmhouse where the family was likely eating lunch. He knew it was necessary to get rid of the armed bomb, but he was always disturbed by where it hit.

Later, a member of the family called into a radio show McGovern was appearing on, to let him know that the family had heard the bomb coming and escaped the house just before it hit.

I wonder what Rockefeller would have to say about that.

March 29, 2008

War Films

At the end of Across the Pacific, Humphrey Bogart, having helped to thwart a Japanese plan to attack the Panama Canal, offers up the US Army Air Force to assist any home-islanders wanting to commit hara-kiri over their failure.

Make that picture today, and not only would the plan succeed (although the enemy would either be nameless, or a fascist member of the fast-disappeaing class called, "white Europeans"), some heroic American would probably try to off the President, not for failing to stop it, but for trying to stop it.

Glenn Reynolds is proposing an X-Prize for Iraq War films, where the 1) Americans are the good guys, 2) the jihadis are the bad guys, and 3) we win, for the benefit of innocent civilians more interested in living their lives. A lot of people might contribute to such a prize, but it would seem that such a prize is unncessary - just buy a ticket.

C'mon, Glenn, whatever happened to the whole Army of Davids idea?

UPDATE: This is what happened. Outside the Wire is trying to sell 2900 DVDs to beat Redacted's box office. Heh. Still, it's a documentary. While decent on-the-spot reporting is in short supply, documentaries like this aren't going to make box-office history.

We need stories.

March 24, 2008

L.A. Times: Who? Us?

The L.A. Times runs a story today about the difficulties that the US is having in tracking and shutting down terrorist financial operations. The story leads with a number of factors impeding both our domestic and international efforts:

The U.S.-led effort to choke off financing for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups is foundering because setbacks at home and abroad have undermined the Bush administration's highly touted counter-terrorism weapon, according to current and former officials and independent experts.

In some cases, extremist groups have blunted financial anti-terrorism tools by finding new ways to raise, transfer and spend their money. In other cases, the administration has stumbled over legal difficulties and interagency fighting, officials and experts say.

But the most serious problems are fractures and mistrust within the coalition of nations that the United States admits it needs to target financiers of terrorism and to stanch the flow of funding from wealthy donors to extremist causes.

Can anyone spot what's missing? Anyone? Sigh Anyone besides Lisa?

Apparently the Times doesn't think that the media's disclosure of the nature, procedures, and targets of those programs could have a deleterious effect on their effectiveness and foreign cooperation.

Moreover, the Times doesn't thing that the House Democrats' refusal to grant immunity to telecom companies who helped the government with foreign intelligence gathering could be interpreted by foreign banks and governments as a warning of might be in store for them if they, too, make the mistake of assisting the US is tracking down terrorist transactions.

And certainly, the House Democrats' refusal to renew the PAA couldn't have any effect on our ability to locate and track new targets for investigation?

No, certainly not. But we wouldn't want to question their patriotism.

March 12, 2008

Mark Udall, Natural Gas, Iran, and You

Mark Udall - a good, patriotic American - is a threat to national security.

OK, not all by himself, and not any one of his positions, but as part of a Democratic Senate majority, and as a combination of his policy views.


  1. He has repeatedly opposed expanded gas production on the western slope
  2. He has voted against an additional 700 miles of fencing along our border with Mexico

Why is this a threat to national security? Because Iran is almost certainly plotting to disrupt our supply of natural gas from Mexico, And because they may well be trying to insert operatives directly into the United States.

Todd Bensman of the San Antonio Express-News, wrote the series, "Breaching America," and appeared as a guest on Backbone Radio with John Andrews and me. Well, he's back, with a story about Iran establishing a presence in Nicaragua, now run by Venezuela-friendly and decidedly US-unfriendly Danny Ortega.

Make no mistake, this is no humanitarian mission. This is exactly from the Soviet playbook - promise aid to establish a reason for being there. In this case, the aid amounts to a ridiculously ambitious project with little-to-no economic reason for being. Send a high-level delegation, with ministers of electricity, or whatever, providing cover for intelligence operatives. (Note that one of the delegation members is the Iranian Ambassador to Venezuela, also a likely intelligence agent.)

With completely ineffective border security, the Iranians will soon be in terrific position to start slipping agents across borders. And there aren't a whole lot of borders between Managua and El Paso.

More immediately, they may already have tried to blow up the main Mexican pipeline. Or, they may have gotten the idea from that attempt, and want to do it right this time.

If it were an oil pipeline, it might matter less. Oil is easily shipped all over the world, so there's a world market for it. Natural gas is difficult and expensive to ship across oceans, and the US has also resisted building LNG terminals. This means that there is, at best, a continental market for natural gas. And it also means that the best defense against any disruption in supply is...a good, reliable, local supply.

Mark Udall's policies leave us both more vulnerable to an attack, and more vulnerable to the effects of that attack.

March 6, 2008

Cycle of Violence

These are pictures of the contrite, introspective, apologetic reaction in Gaza and the Lebanon refugee camps.

I'm sure our local bridge-builders and voices of reason will be willing to help us understand.

Of course, the Arab countries and the UN refuse to dismantle the camps and assimilate their residents inmates precisely in order to create such scenes.

In contrast, here are the scenes from the murder scene created by Hamas, the elected government of Gaza.

Will someone please explain to me exactly why we're supposed to help broker a base of operations state for these jackals and hyenas?

November 13, 2007

France, UK, Seek US Prom Date

In further evidence that George Bush has caused irreparable harm to US foreign policy interests by alienating our closest allies, the UK are France are now arguing over, ah, which one is our closest ally:

After decades of Anglo-French rivalry, in which France has vehemently deplored the global influence America and Britain have attained and what every president of France since Charles de Gaulle has described as "Anglo-Saxon culture," Mr. Sarkozy claimed during his visit to Washington last week that France, not Britain, is now America's best friend and partner.

Mr. Brown, who has been portrayed on both sides of the Atlantic as having distanced himself from America to avoid the charge against his predecessor, Tony Blair, that he was Mr. Bush's "poodle," fought back last night, claiming in a speech at a banquet thrown by the lord mayor of the city of London that the French president's bid to usurp Britain's traditional place alongside America would not succeed.

"It is no secret that I am a lifelong admirer of America," Mr. Brown said. And, in a thinly veiled reference to France's traditional dislike of America and its culture, he added, "I have no truck with anti-Americanism in Britain or elsewhere in Europe, and I believe that our ties with America — founded on values we share — constitute our most important bilateral relationship."

He welcomed France's late conversion to the American cause and a similar newfound affection for America expressed by Chancellor Merkel of Germany in her visit to Mr. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, over the weekend.

Behind her back, however, Gordon was heard to snap that Merkel was just tarting up to get Bush's attention.

September 26, 2007

Obey Gets It. DeGette Doesn't.

Jim Spencer's offended.

Well, I guess that takes the attention away from Diana DeGette's decision today to vote in support of, a decision that even Rep. Obey (D - Wis.) characterized as the equivalent of the Republicans not bringing Joe McCarthy to heel. (Although this September's Rockies might have managed it.)

Jim, what you choose to find offensive is a matter best left between you and your therapist. I'm not going to answer for or even discuss any right-wing fringe personal insults towards Cleland, the left-wing equivalents of which apparently pass for centrist and mainstream in the internal discourse of the Democratic party these days. In any event, blog postings or Ann Coulter weren't what prompted original Democratic puffery that made Max Cleland a byword. Losing was. This ad was:

Cleland was - and is - a politician, and attacks on a politician's campaign ads, and questions about his moral courage to confront evil, as opposed to his evident physical courage in fighting a war, are perfectly in line.

Nobody denied his heroism. Nobody disdained his military service. (And since the Left likes identity politics so much, Cleland's a hero in the Atlanta Jewish community, where my family lives. And rightly so.)

Nobody attacked his patriotism.

Right now, at this moment, the man with his life on the line isn't Max Cleland it's David Petraeus. And but for Bill Frist, he would have given his life for his country.

"Betray Us," indeed.

September 25, 2007

Men On Horseback

Over at the Washington Post's Post Global, journalist Daoud Kuttab continues to exhibit the Palestinians' debilitating tradition of hitching their wagons to increasingly toxic foreign leaders, hoping to rescue them from themselves:

Columbia University was correct to invite the Iranian president, and those opposing the invitation include individuals who do not tolerate any viewpoint other than their own, whether domestic or international. Iran is a major player in a region of strategic importance to the U.S.. American diplomats are willing to meet with their Iranian counterparts to talk about Iraq; certainly American academics and students (and hopefully the public at large, via CSPAN's television coverage) will get to hear the Iranian president’s opinions from his own mouth, rather than through the filters and spin doctors of the U.S.’s pro-Israel lobby.

Ahmadinejad is no saint; plenty of what he says reflects intolerance and can be considered hate speech. Iran’s role in the Iraq conflict can be debated, but compared to what President Bush and his administration and army have done in Iraq, Guantanamo, and in other parts of the world, I think that the Iranian president doesn't look so bad. I, for one, plan to hear what he has to say.

Assad, Nasser, Sadat, Arafat (what, you thought he was Palestinian?), Saddam, and now Ahmedinejad. Kuttab understands all too well that the real target of yesterday's propaganda wasn't the US, but the Middle East. So much for the unbridgeable Shia--Sunni divide.

September 23, 2007

Reading Material For Tonight's Backbone

Tonight, I'll be discussing the antics and background of our local Shiite Imam and Abrahamic Initiator, Ibrahim Kazerooni.

Here's the original audio of the Mesbah-Yazdi speech he translated.

Here's the Homiletics Online interview; pay close attention to the bio in the beginning.

Here's the translation from the original Indonesian article from the Jalal Center in Indonesia.

Sayyid Hasan Nasrullah’s Surprise

"If you, Zionists, think to attack Lebanon again, I prepare surprise for you, which will change the result of war and the future of the region."
-Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah in his speech to commemorate cease fire.

In history, Arab leaders always use hyperbolic rhetoric, rather than what they have achieved, in communicating with their people. Now, they have to acknowledge that Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah’s words should be seriously considered. Nasrallah not only avoids arrogance but also he approves with his achievements.

It occurs in what he calls as “God’s Win” in a battle with Israel last year, which is also well known as “Second Lebanon War” for Israel and “July War” for Siniora government. Israeli aggression, which is as a retaliation for its two ‘kidnapped’ soldiers (who illegally entered Lebanon border), is fought by Nasrallah with artilleries and Katyusha rockets.

After an attempt to assassinate him in an attack in his office in South Beirut fails, Nasrallah in al-Manar TV says “surprises that I promise to you will begin now. Now, you will witness the ship destroying civil infrastructures and houses burnt and drowned.”

Soon after that the ship, which has besieged Beirut, burnt. And, this incident is broadly broadcasted by televisions.

At the end of war, sophisticated modern arms are forced to accept cease fire. What they do is only demolishing but their objective is not achieved to destroy Hisbollah and kill Nasrallah.

The Arabs are happy. The Sunni Palestinians sing hymns for the Shiite militant group and Nasrallah is called as an “eagle from.“ He is leveled with Gemal Abdul Nasser and his name is mentioned in the whole region.

But this celebration is done only by the people not the leaders. Egypt, Jordan, Arab Saudi, and all American-allied dictators are surprised to see the ability of Hisbollah to defend their land and strike back.

From the perspective of America and the Arab leaders, there is more chance to make the situation in balance. And, the next war will begin from inside, through extremist Salafi infiltrated by the governments. If this plan fails, they will think another aggression, learning from their past failures and changing their tactics.

What then becomes Nasrallah’s surprise?

Once again, Ben-Elizer says, “he (Nasrallah) knows much better what he says. If he says 2000 rockets, I trust him, but I don’t know what surprise he means.” It is possibly more sophisticated arms, new navigating systems, or long -distance missiles? Perhaps. But, Nasrallah in his speech, which is broadcasted to thousands people gathered in dahiyah (South), said that the surprise will “change the result of the war and the future of the region.”

If they are foolish enough to attack again, is it possible for Nasrallah to unite Shiah and Sunni in a large scale to fight against the intervention and the invasion? Or is he able to show how a popular militant movement is able to win in its battle against a military state? Nasrallah has been able to convince the people that they have power to reject the corrupted governments, which pretend to protect national interests but what they do actually to protect their vested interests and America. And if the regimes only watch and do nothing, their people will take over the government. And, it will change the landscape of Middle East.

Whatever it is, Nasrallah’s surprise will come to the people who believe that he is only intimidating.

And while you're here, take a look at some of the more cheerful sections of the site.

September 20, 2007

At Long Last, Senator...

The Senate voted to condemn's shameful ad attacking General Petraeus:

To express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces.

Senator Salazar voted in favor, but not before supporting the weasely Boxer Amendment. That amendment tried to link condemnation of with supposed attacks on John Kerry's and Max Cleland's patriotism.

Now, I saw ads attacking Cleland's judgment, and Kerry's leadership, honesty, and honor. But not their patriotism.

But even stipulating that such attacks were made, the role of politicians and political campaigns is fundamentally different from that of the military. This is a man who has put his life on the line repeatedly for this country, and continues to do so every day. He is part of an institution that had better be defined by being apolitical. I'll wager than not one Senate Democrat in 20 has read Rick Atkinson's portrait of him, as the consumate professional, in In The Company of Soldiers.

Well aware that their political hackery can't withstand an honest report from an honorable source, their solution is to turn him into just another politician. Of course, with more than half the Democrats voting to oppose the amendment, and with Harry Reid dialy communing with them to coordinate strategy,'s money appears to be money well-spent.

September 10, 2007

Al Qaeda in Mexico?

Pemex is reporting six coordinated explosions in a large-scale act of sabotage of its eastern natural gas pipelines.

Well, you hear that, and, if you've got a brain, you think, "terrorism," or at least, "Chavez." Turns out there's evidence linking the EPR, who's claiming responsibility, to al Qaeda.

Another Pakistani document shows the links between al-Qaida and Mexico's Popular Revolutionary Army, EPR. The documents reveal that al-Qaida sees EPR as collaborators in attacks in Mexico on foreign targets – "especially those of the United States and Britain." It also says that EPR can play a key role in allowing al-Qaida operatives to enter the United States through the busiest land crossing in the world – Tijuana.

These same jokers attacked the pipeline back in July, a few months after

...a Saudi Arabian terrorist group linked to al- Qaeda called for strikes on oil and gas installations in Canada, Mexico and Venezuela. In May, Mexico formed a government committee to gather and share terrorism-related information with other countries.

According to the Arizon Star, "Mexico is a dangerously soft target since it has more than 17,000 miles of oil pipelines and 8,235 miles of natural gas pipelines to protect."

Why Mexico? And why now?

1) Mexico is notorious for preventing terrorists from transiting through its territory on the way to the US. This could be an indirect threat, making the Mexican government a deal it can't refuse

2) Natural gas is difficult to transport. What you get from North America, stays in North America. So hitting a natural gas pipeline is a way of hitting the American consumer.

3) That gives Chavez another chance to look magnanimous, and to allow various Massachusetts representatives to grovel in thanks when he offers heating oil to Americans

4) I doubt the terrorists would be thinking this far ahead, but we've been trying mightily to increase natural gas drilling out here. If the actual response is to divert more food to energy, it'll just mean more corn riots in Mexico City. Good if the Mexican government decides to reform its agriculture. But destabilizing nonetheless

5) Al Qaeda was going to try to hit Germany this week. Maybe they had to settle for this instead.

September 6, 2007

Watchdog? No, Scared Puppy

Human Rights Watch likes to style itself as a fearless watchdog, especially where Israel is concerned:

In a statement issued before the report's release, the human rights organization said there was no basis to the Israeli claim that civilian casualties resulted from Hezbollah guerrillas using civilians as shields. Israel has said it attacked civilian areas because Hezbollah set up rocket launchers in villages and towns.

HRW notes that Hezbollah didn't wear uniforms, fired from next-door to UN positions, and fired weapons from on top of apartment buildings, but somehow falls short of condemning these as violations of the laws of war. (I will merely note that, as a result of these violations, by law, Hezbollah forfeits all rights under the Geneva Conventions.)

Then, this:

The full report was being released Thursday at a news conference in Jerusalem. Human Rights Watch had to cancel a similar news conference in Beirut last month because of threats of Hezbollah protests. That report accused Hezbollah of firing rockets indiscriminately at civilian areas in Israel.

Apparently, the irony escapes HRW.

August 17, 2007

Zero-Sum War

From lefty activist David Sirota today's Denver Post PoliticsWest site, and the Gang of Four Blog:

I will say, John, that I do think what's telling/frightening about your outlook is your assertion that winning automatically means "somebody else loses." That's called zero-sum thinking - the exact kind of thinking that got us into this mess in the first place. We are in the middle of a civil war in Iraq - it's hard to frame the quagmire (not my words - Dick Cheney's) in the conventional terms of us "winning" and someone else "losing" because frankly, I don't hope that the Iraqis lose (while you might). I do, however, think us getting out of Iraq will hurt Osama bin Laden's cause because it's no secret that he's been using the Iraq War as a huge recruiting tool for Al Qaeda.

Oh yeah, when I originally answered your question about Iraq I forgot to add that I also think us "winning" means fewer American men and women coming home in body bags or with arms and legs blown off.

This argument doesn't just border on the incoherent. It's taken up residency and is applying for an H1-B.

What he's trying to say, in his own, hyper-partisan sort of way, is that while territorial war is zero-sum, and the results of elections may be zero-sum, the result of the political process is not zero-sum, and that the war in Iraq is now essentially an exercise in Iraqi civil politics.

He then does the not-so-subtle switcheroo when he talks about us winning and "the Iraqis" losing. But in a civil war, it's perfectly ok if some Iraqis lose in order for the rest of the Iraqis to win. That's what's happened in Baquaba and Anbar. I would characterize the al-Qaeda-affiliated Iraqis (and their foreign leadership) as most definitive "losers." I would characterize Iraqi civilians who no longer have to worry about their lungs being ripped out for smoking as, "winners." (Unless Baghdad civil government imposes a single-payer health care system, then they'll be "losers," too.)

I would say that the Iraqis living near Baqubah were losers, until we arrived and helped the Iraqi Army turn them into winners. If we help to stabilize the place and give ordinary Iraqis a role in their own political life, then both we and (most) Iraqis will be "winners," and al-Qaeda will be losers.

As for Iraq as a recruitment tool for bin Laden, even if this assertion were true, it wouldn't be true where it mattered - Iraq. The fact is that the al-Qaeda-in-Iraq leadership is foreign, sent in by Syria on one border and allowed in by Saudi Arabia on another. This is because al-Qaeda has made itself so unpopular it can't get Iraqis to lead it, it can't even persuade Iraqis to fight for it. (Blackmail and coecion don't count as, "persuasion.") So if legions are flocking to bin Laden because of our involvement in Iraq, it's news to the Iraqis.

As for his history lesson, I suppose he's technically right. The only reason that Germany was able to fight itself to the brink of world domination twice in 25 years was that it had stopped fighting itself. But I think if you go back to the 1000s and 1100s, you'll find plenty of Franks fighting Germans and Franks fighting Anglo-Saxons and Anglo Normans.

I should point out that the group blog membership is balanced between left and right, so that's why this isn't a post about media bias.

August 15, 2007

Suicide Killers

Last night, the Claremont Institute, with a little help from Larry Mizel and others, and with sponsorship from ActionIsrael and Americans Against Terrorism, hosted a showing Pierre Rehov's "Suicide Killers." Inside the mind of a suicide bomber isn't necessarily a place most of us want to go. But it's a place worth touring if we're to understand why explosive one-time belts are the Palestinians' leading export.

The film goes a long way towards dispelling the myths about why teenagers - usually male teenagers - volunteer for these missions. It's because they're carefully taught. By schools, state-sponsored mullahs and broadcasts, parents, street signs. You think of it, they've got it.

It's not money. Money is mentioned only in the context of needing it to get married (more about that later). The very first on-camera personality, a hooded volunteer, explains that he's happy to go on this mission because he knows his children lack for nothing. And the fact is that, even in the West Bank, towns like Ramallah, Jenin, and Nablus have infrastructure and utilities courtesy of Israel, that citizens of other countries would kill for. So to speak. It makes the academic who prattles on about economic deprivation sound as though he's from another galaxy.

Remarkably, in Israeli prison, as at Guantanamo, the radicals hopped-up on Islam are able to have communal prayers. Since they derive their strength and their identity from their religion, it would seem that any good deprogramming effort would first take that away from them. Freedom of religion is a principle, not a fetish. After all, they're in prison, without freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, freedom from search and seizure, you know, all the basics.

Much of this we've seen before. Rehov's most powerful and most disturbing point is that Palestinian society operates under a radical deformation of relations between the sexes.

Notions of democracy and equality, of course, threaten the status quo, where men run the place with an iron fist. One of the biggest laughs came from a clip of Saudi TV of an imam of some sort saying that "if it were my sister, and her husband, he would completely and totally oppose beating her, except in one case..." (pregnant pause) "...and that is if she did something to deserve being beaten." Another mullah explained that women's rights meant that women went out of the house naked.

Women and women's bodies are quite literally demonized. There is complete and utter inaccessability of girls to boys, and young women to young men, in a society whose average age is a hormone-flooded 16. Actually scraping together enough money to get married is hard. Having to live next door to Israeli beaches makes it harder. Pushing a button and getting 72 wives is a lot easier.

And here's where Rehov made one of his few mis-steps. The fact is, Israel isn't any more permissive than the average Western society. But when he cuts from a mullah denouncing western nudity to a beach where there's not much left to the imagination, he actually gives some credence to Islamist complaints. It's worse that the pop song they're dancing to mocks, "...God, the Blessed, we are all students." I don't want to chance to appease murderous fanatics, but I wouldn't mind changing, nonetheless.

The movie was probably about 20 minutes too long, and a little repetitive, as well. But it's well worth seeing, and dragging your friends to see, since it probably won't be showing at the multiplex any time soon.

John Andrews and Kathleen LeCrone did a great job putting this together at the last minute, and wec can only hope that the performance is repeated in other cities.

See Ben DeGrow's take for better insight.

August 13, 2007

Dinner With Pierre Rehov

In advance of tomorrow night's screening of Suicide Killers, John Andrews & the Claremonteers took the event sponsors and one blogger out to dinner with director Pierre Rehov.

Rehov is a dual French-Israeli citizen, whose family came to France after the Algerian revolt and subsequent independence. Prior to that, they had been chased out of Spain - 500 years ago. It was his knowledge of Arabic and Arab society that let him infiltrate Jenin and other Palestinian camps for his film, "Road to Jenin," debunking the myth of the Jenin massacre.

Rehov was one of the first to expose the Mohammad Al-Dura farce, used to such great propaganda effect by Arafat and Jacques Chirac. He has a couple of other projects in the works, including one looking at the sad fate of Arab Christians at the hands of a re-energized Islamist community.

Tomorrow night promises to be interesting.

August 1, 2007

Suicide Killers

On Tuesday night, August 14, the Claremont Institute, Americans Against Terrorism, and Action Israel will sponsor a free showing of Pierre Rehov's Suicide Killers, examining the mind and motivations of the Arab world's most influential innovation of the last 500 years. It'll be shown at 7:30 at the Colorado History Museum, and Mr. Rehov himself will be on hand for a Q&A session afterwards. See the trailer, and then go to Backbone America to register, or buy the video and invite some friends over to see it.

The Saudis Recognize Israel?

Not exactly. Now now. Likely, not ever. And recognizing Israel was supposed to be one of the preconditions for attending President Bush's proposed Middle East railroading peace conference later this year. That requirement was the linchpin of the usually reliable Michael Oren's argument in the WSJ, where he claimed that this was not a fundamental change in the administration's Mideast policy. So, this from the AP:

Saudi Arabia will attend a Middle East peace conference proposed by President Bush for later this year, the Saudi foreign minister said Wednesday.

"We are interested in the peace conference," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

"When we get an invitation from the minister (Rice) to attend, when this takes place, we will discuss it and we will make sure that we attend" the conference, al-Faisal said.

Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel and its presence at a peace conference with the Jewish state would be a diplomatic breakthrough (emphasis added).

Yes, for the Saudis. I believe that we had diplomatic relations with the Japanese right up until kickoff of the Redskins-Giants game that Sunday.

It's good to see Rice holding form firm from the get-go.

July 16, 2007

A Stupefyingly Bad Idea

Under the "More Evidence that the Bush Administration Has Ended" file, we have this report from Beitbart/AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush on Monday announced an an international conference this fall to include Israel, the Palestinian authority and some of their Arab neighbors to help restart Mideast peace talks and review progress in building democratic institutions.

He said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would preside over the session. Bush said the conference would include representatives from Israel, the Palestinians "and their neighbors in the region" and said participants would include just those governments that support creation of a Palestinian state.

Bush also pledged increased U.S. aid to the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas and called for the convening of a meeting of "donor" nations to consider more international aid, including the Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Bush said the past few years had see "some hopeful, some dispiriting" changes in the Middle East. And he called the present time "a moment of clarity for all Palestinians. And now comes a moment of choice."

If I had a dime for every time I heard some Administration official over the last 20 years talk about how it's time for the Palestinians to make a choice, I could retire and blog full time. The Palestinians have have decades to have a change of heart, and have consistently made the same choice - war by some means or another.

The only evidence that anything has changed is evidence that it's changed for the worse. Hamas has turned Gaza into an Iranian client and given al Qaeda a seaport. Hezbollah is eating out Lebanon from the inside. Abbas - whose doctoral thesis consists of Holocaust denial - is being promised more money to steal, the same program that gave Gaza to Hamas in the first place.

Some will see significance in the fact that this announcement was made at the beginning of the Nine Days, a heightened period of mourning over the loss of the two Temples and the destruction of the Jewish Commonwealth by the Roman Empire. Others will just see a flight to fancy by the well-intentioned, and glee by the ill-intentioned.

Those with long memories will remember the Madrid Conference as the real beginning of the Oslo Process, bringer of death and destruction to Jews on a scale not seen since before there was an Israel. Now, we see the same self-deluding psychotic pattern, with concessions to murderers expected to produce - something. Since the criteria for participation isn't acceptance of Israel but rather acceptance of the Palestinians' desiderata, the Conference is clearly set up to repeat the pattern of pressuring Israel for actual concessions in return for more false promises from the Palestinians. The only question is what concessions will be expected to drain strength from one set of enemies, or to prop up another set of enemies.

July 11, 2007

Democratic Immunity

Those of us warning of disaster should the US pack up and leave Iraq to Iran's devices have implicitly, although perhaps not explicitly, counting on the American public to hold the Democrats and weak-kneed Republicans accountable for such irresponsibility.

Don't hold your breath.

The American public won't know. And if it knows, it won't care.

Right now, today, as our soldiers fight, the AP reports massacres that didn't occur and fails to report those that do. When we've left, when our attention has turned to someplace else, someplace of critical national security importance like, say, Belize, the MSM simply won't be around to report on Iraq. In fact, they're not there to report on Iraq now, since Reuters and the AP rely almost exclusively on local Arab stringers for their writing.

With Iraq reduced to a bad memory, with Americns no longer dying in attacks, and with the Presidential election considered much more interesting (heck, with Congressional hearings into the Bush administration much more interesting), murders and massacres in Iraq will barely break the A section, much less the front page.

And when they do, the notion that an American presence might have prevented them will never be mentioned, except to chide the Administration for not getting it right from day one, by way of criticizing those who supported the war from the beginning. Even were Iraq to descend into Vietnam-like catastrophe, or Sudan-like genocide, the MSM will both blame the chaos on us and claim that there's nothing we can do to prevent it.

At least, not until Americans start dying again. Here.


If I say the S stands for "Scholars for," and the P stands for "Peace," you're probably thinking that the "ME" stands for "through Moral Equivalence."

You would be wrong.

I just wish there were more non-Jews signing this thing. Especially since you don't have to be an academic to sign.

July 6, 2007

Interview With Todd Bensman

On Backbone Radio last week, John Andrews, Matt Dunn, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Todd Bensman of the San Antonion Express-News about his four-part series, "Breaching America," that ran earlier in the year. The series followed an illegal immigrant and asylum-seeker from his homeland across the US-Mexican border, to his release by US authorities to join his family in the States.

His homeland: Iraq.

It turns out that there's a pipeline of illegals from "Countries of Special Interest" - mostly in the Middle East, almost all Muslim - that runs through Latin American into the United States.

The original series can be found here, here, here, and here.

After the interview, Todd graciously agreed to take follow-up questions for this blog by email. It took place in two parts, an initial round of questions and then a follow-up round. Except where noted below, the questions and answers are presented in order below.

1) What led you to do the series?

For the last several years, working as a reporter in Dallas, I'd occasionally heard through my ICE and FBI friends about Arabs being caught crossing the Mexican border. Not until I took a special projects reporting job closer to the border, with The San Antonio Express News, did it become feasible for me to think harder about substantiating these reports. At the same time, national immigration reform had been in the air for a couple of years - and was heating up - but none of the media reporting or political talk ever seemed to consider the primary underlying assumption for reform: is the border indeed vulnerable to terrorist infiltration? I decided the time was ripe for an American news reporter to finally step up and take a serious, considered look at the issue of Arab migrants jumping U.S. borders post-9-11.

2) Describe the role of Russia in this transit process?

Russia seems to figure in only one or two popular routes that move people from the Middle East to South- or Central America, and then over the U.S. border. It's mainly a transit country that U.S.-bound immigrants from places like Syria, a so-called State Sponsor of Terror, use to fly to Cuba and then on to, say, Guatemala. There's a larger unaddressed issue here: Russia is one of many, what I call, "stepping stone" countries because it is generally hostile to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and indifferent enough to American security concerns to not ask many questions about its Iraqi or Syrian friends who are on their way to the Western Hemisphere.

3) Describe the consulates that the central and South American counties keep in Syria and Jordan?

Middle Eastern immigrants bound for the U.S. border wouldn't be able to get within reach without tourist visas issued by Latin American countries like Guatemala, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Peru and the like. All of the countries I just named, and more, have embassies or consulate offices that issue travel visas to locals in Damascus, Syria; Amman, Jordan; Beirut, Lebanon; and elsewhere. Of course, Latin America has every right to keep diplomatic presences in the Middle East, to serve large populations in their own territories of Middle Eastern settlers who have legitimate reasons to move back and forth. A perceived U.S. national security problem here, however, is that theseconsulate offices routinely hand out visas to Middle Easternerswithout thoroughly checking who they are or their stated travelpurposes, several consuls in Syria and Jordan told me. In addition, at least one convicted Hezbollah terrorist crossed the Mexico/U.S. border in 2001 after bribing Mexican consulate office in Beirut. That means, bribery is likely playing out elsewhere.

4) Would more concerted operations in those countries make a difference?

Probably in some but not in others. Venezuela, for instance, is openly hostile to the U.S. and is establishing many kinds of ties to countries like Iran. The Chavez government is not likely to allow U.S. law enforcement in, while its opening the continent's first airline routes to Iran. The same can be said of Cuba, which happily supplies transit visas to Middle Easterners on their way to Mexico, no questions asked. Corruption and weak central governments elsewhere would make U.S. efforts to interdict this human traffic difficult, in places like Ecuador and Guatemala. Some large smuggling operations have been brought down in Guatemala since 9-11, but they've been quickly replaced.

5) Describe the growing Arab and Muslim populations in those countries, and the role they play in smuggling? While the people you followed were Christian, I seem to remember reading about a growing Muslim population in the tri-border region (Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela) in South America. How could a hostile Venezuelan government, working with Iran, make use of these groups?

Hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners (fleeing various wars and disturbances over the past 70 years) have resettled in places you'd least expect, opening legal and illegal businesses and becoming Latin American citizens. Among these countries are Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala and even Mexico, where hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have settled over the years. An examination of about a dozen U.S. prosecutions of smuggling organizations shows that a number of major ringleaders turned out to be Middle Easterners with dual citizenship in places like Mexico, Guatemala and Ecuador. The court cases also show that these ringleaders made much use of local citizenry of Middle East descent to provide safe haven, transportation and staging services for "clients" on their way to the U.S. I found a number of situations where Iraqis found work and smuggling connections in Guatemala, for instance, by making their way to the capitol's Zone One marketplace, where thousands of Arab merchants make their livings. This makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. There's a shared language and a sympathy.

6) It sounds as though increased border security would have the perverse effect of depriving the Mexican government of its incentive to cooperate, but would also reduce the traffic from the Guatemala and other transit states (by raising the price, but drastically reducing the actual number of migrants)?

Mexico makes no bones about wanting a liberal border policy allowing its millions of workers to send home billions a year in remittances. This money quite literally keeps the Mexican economy afloat. But I found in my reporting that the Mexican government has no tolerance for one group of illegal migrant: those from Arab countries. The idea is if one gets through Mexico to bomb an American target, the U.S. will promptly militarize the border for all of the Mexican, remittance-sending laborers. At least according to Mexico's new ambassador. So a top Mexican national security policy tracks quite well with the American one: stop the Arab migration. The Mexican government has been extremely aggressive in doing so. It's locking up Arab migrants in droves, and goes so far as to allow American intelligence and FBI officials inside its detention centers to do interrogations, a program that has remained secret until the Breaching America series. The Mexicans also have aggressively prosecuted smugglers of Middle Easterners, while going easy on other kinds of smugglers.

6) (Follow-up:) I guess what I'm asking here is if you think that increasing border security, say, by building a fence, will remove the Mexican government's incentive for cooperating. After all, if we're stopping the illegals as best as we can at the Rio Grande, that will by definition cut down on the remittances...

That's an interesting supposition. I think a fence would indeed reduce Mexico's incentive to interdict special interest migrants from the Middle East - but only if the fence is pretty effective at slowing and rerouting illegals. And if the fence is effective, the need for Mexican interdiction should diminish also, no? Middle Eastern immigrants are attracted to the U.S. border because it's always been so easy to sneak over.

I'd base my own supposition on what the Mexican reaction to the fence has been all along: stiff, heated, unremitting opposition at every level. Opponents of the fence always give great ode to the idea that the fence wouldn't be very effective keeping determined Mexicanworkers out, so why bother? Yet the Mexican government's persistent opposition to it shows, at least to me, that THEY believe it will be highly effective and constitutes a grave threat to the remittance money flow. You have to give the Mexican government credit for one thing: consistency; it wants those remittances flowing back. If the Mexican government is working so hard at both stopping the fence and capturing Islamic migrants, it's for the same reason, that $25 billion in annual remittances. I'd argue that an EFFECTIVE fence would reduce Mexico's incentive in rough proportion to the special interest migrants' willingness to bother breaching it.

7) Why do you think the rest of the mainstream media has been so reluctant to pick up on the story?

I sort of consider myself mainstream media, but I know what you mean...This lapse by major American news organizations like The New York Times is a very happy mystery to me, especially given all the nonstop political talk about terrorist infiltration over the borders since 9-11. But it's also a lapse for which I'm eternally grateful. I don't like competition for great stories, and I don't do them if someone else already has. So from my perspective, I can only hope they keep that attitude and stay the hell away!

8) What reason does the FBI give for being so poorly staffed for interrogating illegals from States of Interest, and in your opinion, is this valid, or is there an actual reluctance to confront the problem?

I think the FBI's failure to properly staff its border offices - and most especially its Mexico station - for the purpose of conducting threat assessments and interrogations is a product of the absence of media attention. That will change the day someone gets over the border and commits a terrorist act - and FBI supervisors are standing before congressional committees explaining what went wrong in Mexico.

9) In your report, you quote a number of foreign nationals poo-poohing the idea of terrorists transiting the border this way. Yet the Millenium Bomber, the Fort Dix Six, and others have crossed borders, or attempted to, illegally. Clearly other sheiks and hostile clerics have gotten in this way. To what other uses could a hostile terrorist organization put a porous border?

Last year, General Accounting Office investigators went undercover in Mexico. They mail-ordered enough radioactive material for two "dirty bombs," and drove several different loads of it in passenger cars over the U.S. borders to see if they'd get caught. They were stopped, in one case, in Texas but were allowed to pass after presenting a bogus cover story. The GAO report is available on their web site.

Follow-up questions:

New: is there any evidence of coordination between Muslim groups here in the US, like CAIR and the Muslim American Society (which is the group that the > Muslim Brotherhood operates under here), and the Muslim communities in Latin America?

Not that I'm aware of, but I believe U.S. intelligence agencies know a lot more than what's been publicly released. They firmly believe that Hezbollah and other designated terrorist groups have found firm footing throughout South America, particularly in the lawless "Tri-border" region where Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil meet. In December, the U.S. Treasury Department, for instance, released a "fact sheet" naming specific individuals and organizations from the border region who are tied to terrorist organizations and are wanted for material support activities ranging from gun-running to money-laundering. But as far as direct links to U.S.-based organizations, I'm pretty sure any evidence of that remains secret.

New: Are you aware of any intellingence or law enforcement activities directed at those communities, as opposed to the smuggling rings, which are probably dominated by native Guatemalans, Hondurans, etc.

No, I am not, though top American intelligence officials have publicly warned they have seen intelligence about Islamic extremists recruiting poor native Latin American Muslim converts, who would easily pass for an illegal laborer, and because these converts would be "clean" they'd never show on a terror watch list screening if caught on this side.

New: Are there any other countries: Ecudaor, Costa Rica, El Salvador, who are more friendly, whom we could also be using as stoppers? Since the land corridor is usually one country wide, this would seem to be a way of limiting the problem geographically.

Past U.S. prosecutions of human smugglers specializing in Middle Easterners shows that all of these friendly countries have been used as stepping stones for a northward journey. Most of their borders are lawless, vast and unpatrollable. Ecuador, one of the busiest of these stop-over countries, has cooperated with U.S. authorities to penetrate Middle East smuggling rings but the sense I get from some of those who were involved is that these made hardly a dent in the trade. Enforcement activities by us in these countries can't be episodic; there has to be a sustained activity with local authorities who have been vetted for corruption, which is another problem that has to be tackled separately.

July 3, 2007

Michael Hirsh, Hearing Impaired

From the people who brought you detente, Glasnost, and the two-state solution, we now get, Iran Has a Message, Are We Listening? Iran has a message all right, but it's not the one Hirsh thinks he's hearing.

Hirsh was invited to receive an unofficial message from Iran's government, supposedly eager to reach a modus vivendi with the United States. The "message" is thoroughly unconvincing to the critical ear, both on its own terms and in light of the regime's complete history.

Hirsh claims that "Iran has grown weary of its economic and political isolation..." But later, we are told:

Stores are well stocked, the streets are thronged with shoppers, and flower stores and luxury goods abound, indicating that people in this oil-rich economy still have plenty of disposable income. The U.N. sanctions and the quiet pressure on international banks to cut off business with Iran inflict some pain, but they are generally nuisances and not deal-breakers. And the sanctions are shot full of holes: European businesses do vibrant trade with Iranian counterparts, and Iranians have just shifted their business dealings from dollars to Euros.

Iran doesn't sound either weary or economically isolated.

The Iranians ostensibly want to make this about the nuclear program, but then bring up the rest of their catspaws in the region:

My conversations with hard-liners and reformers inside Tehran also suggested something deeper: that under the right circumstances, Iran may still be willing to stop short of building a bomb. "Iran would like to have the technology, and that is enough for deterrence," says S.M.H. Adeli, Iran's moderate, urbane former ambassador to London.

... even as the administration continues to accuse Iran of delivering sophisticated makeshift bombs to Iraqi militants. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government "is of strategic importance to us," Rezai said. "We want this government to stay in power. Rival Sunni countries oppose Maliki. We haven't." It also stands to reason that in Afghanistan, Lebanon and the new "Hamastan" in Gaza -- all places where Tehran wields enormous influence -- an Iran that is encouraged to play a broader regional security role could become more cooperative.

Hirsh's "delivering sophisticated makeshift bombs" barely scratches the surface of Iran's involvement in Iraq. Hezbollah now appears to be taking part in the attacks directly. Iran trained the groups that ambushed and killed 5 US soldiers in January. In the south, Iranian-trained and supported death squads have been preparing the ground for the eventual British withdrawal. When Mookie Al-Sadr fled Iraq in advance of the Surge, he fled to Iran.

Hirsh claims that, "...several Iranian officials hinted that Ahmadinejad crossed a red line in Iranian politics when he pushed his rhetoric beyond the official hope that Israel would one day disappear to suggest that Tehran might help that process along. A new Iranian president would rebalance that position, they indicated." Rebalance it to what? Hirsh's host may well be the man responsible for the 1994 bombing of the JCC in Buenos Aires. The men who actually carried out the bombing live under the protection of the Venzuelan government. It's good to know that Iran will retreat from Armaggeddon back to the routine murder of Jews around the world.

Yes, Iran aided the new government in Afghanistan - because the US victory was so overwhelmingly decisive that aid was the only way for Iran to stay in the game.

Only someone as blinkered as Hirsh could possibly interpret this as a peace overture. Iran believes that the United States is so hobbled by internal divisions that the administraion will seek any face-saving measure it can come up with. This "peace overture" consists entirely of forebearance on the part of Iran - for now. Iran will neither disband nor disown Hezbollah, ensuring that Tehran's domination of southern Lebanon. It will neither disband nor disown Hamas. It hopes to eat out the government of Iraq from within. It will stop just short of actually building a bomb, refraining from crossing the line while reaping all the benefits of having done so.

The real message here is, "Just give us what we want, and nobody gets hurt. For now. Until the next time." Only Hirsh is too deaf to hear it.

June 26, 2007

The Inevitable Americans

Perhaps this young letter writer was one of the audience of fifteen hundred well-informed students who crowded into the auditorium at the University of Colorado to give a thunderous standing ovation a little while ago to a handsome office of the United States Army who compounded a mass of half-truths, false inferences, equivocations, and palpable lies about the behavior of the unfortunate American prisoners of war in [country x] into as vicious an attack on our national character as Pravda could concoct. When one lone girl rose after the talk to point out what she thought was an obvious distortion of fact, this American audience, led by this American army officer, crushed her back into her seat with derisive laughter.

2007? Iraq? No, this was written by then-Associate Professor of Anthropology John Greenway in1963, and the war was in Korea.

The rot runs deep.

The book was The Inevitable Americans, and the professor was a liberal. The book was written to defend the US against these thugs, something that, had I given you the year beforehand, would have seemed bizarre and unnecessary. Here's what he had to say about the difference between Republicans and Democrats in 1963:

However, the basis of the conflict between the Republicans and the Democrats of the world is simple: the existing culture gave the Haves a major share at the feast and they are fat and content; the existing culture gave the Have Nots rather small potatoes, and they are hungry for a change, any change.

The Haves are, by definition, conservative, opposed to culture changes, fighting the change that the Have Nots want to have. One wonders what he would make of a world where the wealthiest give to the Democrats (indeed, of a state like Colorado where the wealthiest have bought the state for them), and whether he'd still see that those elites were essentially resistant to change.

This is as precise a definition of pre-Gompers class warfare as you were likely to get. The Republicans are Wall Street, the Democrats Main Street. But while he mentions Goldwater as, "sensible and simple," he has no idea that one year later, he'd lead the Main Street takeover of the Republicans.

Later, astonished by the radicalism that liberalism had wrought, he would carry a tire iron into his classroom to confront those radicals.

January 12, 2007

Openings at the Carter Center

It's like something out of the Onion: "Carter Canvassing Local Home Depot for Replacement Board Members."

OK, not quite. But 14 members of the Carter Center board have resigned in protest over Carter's increasingly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments:

Your book has confused opinion with fact, subjectivity with objectivity and force for change with partisan advocacy. Furthermore the comments you have made the past few weeks insinuating that there is a monolith of Jewish power in America are most disturbing and must be addressed by us. In our great country where freedom of expression is basic bedrock you have suddenly proclaimed that Americans cannot express their opinion on matters in the Middle East for fear of retribution from the "Jewish Lobby" In condemning the Jews of America you also condemn Christians and others for their support of Israel. Is any interest group to be penalized for participating in the free and open political process that is America? Your book and recent comments suggest you seem to think so.

In the past you would inject yourself into this world to moderate between the two sides in the pursuit of peace and as a result you earned our admiration and support. Now you repeatedly make false claims. You wrote that UN Security Council Resolution 242 says that "Israel must withdraw from territories" (p. 38), but you know the word "must" in fact is not in the resolution. You said that since Mahmoud Abbas has been in office there have been no peace discussions. That is wrong. You wrote that Yassir Arafat told you in 1990 that, "The PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel" (p. 62). Given that their Charter, which explicitly calls for Israel's destruction, was not revised until the late 1990s, how could you even write such a claim as if it were credible?


As a result it seems that you have turned to a world of advocacy, including even malicious advocacy. We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position. This is not the Carter Center or the Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support. Therefore it is with sadness and regret that we hereby tender our resignation from the Board of Councilors of the Carter Center effective immediately.

Read the whole thing. And then fill out an application. We've often been told that racism - or anti-Semitism - is a virus, and It turns out they have a position available for an epidemiologist. When they get around to posting the requirements for Board Member, they'll already have your resume on file.


ISIME has just sent an email announcing that their planned January 23 showing of Obsession has been canceled, but not giving a reason. Details as they become available.

January 9, 2007

The Syndicate

Then again, what do I know? I'm just here representing the New York Money People:

Clark is talking about the possibility of military action against Iran:

"How can you talk about bombing a country when you won't even talk to them?" said Clark. "It's outrageous. We're the United States of America; we don't do that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the military option is off the table - but diplomacy is not what Jim Baker says it is. It's not, 'what will it take for you boys to support us on Iraq?' It's sitting down for a couple of days and talking about our families and our hopes, and building relationships."

When we asked him what made him so sure the Bush administration was headed in this direction, he replied: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided, but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."

Best of the Web was all over this on Friday.

So the three questions bear repeating:
1 - Why don't the Democrats seem to care?
2 - Why doesn't the MSM seem to care?
3 - Why doesn't the MSM seem to care at least that the Democrats don't care?

December 8, 2006

Jeane Kirkpatrick, RIP

The AP is reporting that Jeane Kirkpatrick has died. Ms. Kirkpatrick, some will recall, was one of the occasional UN Ambassadors we've had - Stevenson, Moynihan, Bolton also come to mind - who used their position to aggressively and relentlessly defend US interests and positions.

A Democrat from a time long ago when that party took foreign policy seriously, Kirkpatrick was invited into the Reagan administration after he saw her piece differentiating between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. That piece provided the intellectual heft necessary to distinguish between enemies and unpalatable temporary allies.

Kirkpatrick also famously described the UN Security Council as less debate than mugging, and was astonished at the UN's institutional anti-Semitism.

The irony of her passing this week of all weeks, when her heir John Bolton threw in the towel; when the ISG Report (which would have been beneath her time had they even bothered to ask her) was issued; when Robert Gates returned to public life, couldn't be more obvious, and most likely will be missed entirely by the Washington punderati.

Kirkpatrick had moral clarity. More than that, she understood that without moral clarity, success in foreign policy is fleeting and illusory. It was that understanding that led her to initially defend the same jokers who issued yesterday's ISG report. As long as the vision was there, she wrote, the men executing didnt' matter. She must surely have been disappointed both then and now.

December 4, 2006

Name of the Rose

In striking contrast to Ms. Barakat was Flemming Rose, editor of the once-obscure Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, now famous for having shamed its larger, American competitors by publishing and standing by a series of fairly mild and somewhat amusing cartoons, some of which show Islam in a less-than-flattering light.

Mr. Rose is a truly courageous figure, and will be speaking at CU-Boulder law school this evening, Wittemyer Courtroom, at 7:30 pm.

Barakat Baccarat

Afficianados of James Bond will recall that in the book Casino Royale, Bond attempts to bankrupt SMERSH at a game of baccarat. In the current movie version, the target isn't SMERSH but a terrorist financier, and the game is Texas Hold 'Em. Unlike in poker or blackjack, in baccarat, there's no bluffing, and the players have no choice in how many cards to draw. They were right to change the enemy, but the producers should have kept the original game.

Which brings us to last night's "interview" with local terror apologist Rima Barakat Sinclair. The whole "interview" played like a game of baccarat, with Ms. Barakat refusing to engage, simply reeling off scripted and irrelevant answers to simple questions, and refusing to discuss other fairly simple, mundane matters. It was without a doubt the most frustrating interview I've been a part of in my eight months on Backbone Radio.

And yet, the experience was enlightening in its own way. For instance, Ms. Barakat refused to discuss her affiliation with MILA. She spent several minutes arguing that her activism within the local Islamic political community wasn't relevant to...her local Islamic political activism, and then complained off-air that she had been sandbagged. (No doubt she meant that she was unprepared to find people prepared to ask tough questions, although, "you work with Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism?" hardly qualifies as a tough question.)

Worse, she tried to claim that her ties to the group were purely as a participant who sometimes went to their meetings. In fact, the MILA website clearly identifies Ms. Barakat as a member of the Steering Committee and coordinator of MILA's PR Committee. When confronted with this, she smiled somewhat sheepishly and admitted that she sometimes helped organize events and that she sometimes acted as spokesman for the group. Never admit anything until you know what they have on you.

Her claim that the Hamas Charter doesn't call for Israel's destruction is risible.

Perhaps more interesting is Ms. Barakat's own history. While she likes to describe herself as Palestinian, this seems to be true in the same way that George Clooney is Irish, with the difference that Palestinian "national identity" seems both to predate its inception and outlive its accuracy. While in some places, Ms. Barakat claims to ahve been born in Jerusalem, in other announcements she is described as having been born in Saudi Arabia of Palestinian parents, and having grown up in Lebanon. This would also seem to be bolstered by her appearance on an alumni roster of the American University of Beirut. Although it's unclear if this is the same Rima Barakat, it certainly undermines the claim that American Universities abroad make friends for us.

We'll be trying to post the audio of the "interview" later in the week.

November 27, 2006

The Empire Strikes Back

My good friend, Dr. Neil Dobro has responded to Rima Barakat's execrable op-ed of a week ago.

Barakat characterizes the terrorist Qassam rockets as "firecracker rockets." Since Israel removed all Jews from Gaza a year ago, more than 1,500 thank-you rockets and artillery bombs have landed in Israel from there. Eleven people have been killed and more than 100 wounded. Last week alone, a mother of four was killed, one man in the Israeli town of Sderot was killed and a factory worker there was critically wounded while another man's legs were blown off. If those rockets had landed in our great country, Barakat would have a hard time telling Americans that it was just an overgrown Fourth of July event. The notion that the United States would just sit back for the next 1,500 attacks would be absurd; and Barakat's counsel notwithstanding, it is no less absurd for Israel.

Read the whole thing.

November 22, 2006

The Return of Holger Jensen?

Longtime Denver newspaper readers - of whom there seem to be fewer and fewer every year - will remember someone called, "Holger Jensen" who used to edit the Rocky's foreign coverage. Jensen had a thing about Israel. He didn't much like it. Eventually, his bias got the better of him when he allowed it to overwhelm his journalistic ethics and he printed an easily-fact-checkable-and-yet-un-fact-checked slander against Ariel Sharon. The Rocky had no choice but to can him, and he was last seen writing fishing articles.

This morning, the Rocky has printed what is easily one of the most dishonest pieces of Islamist propaganda ever to disgrace its pages. Then again, "dishonest" and "Islamist propaganda" are quite reundant.

Rima Barakat accuses Israel of deliberately murdering a random, innocent, Palestinian family for the crime of practicing for the 4th of July. She then calls on the world to hold the Jewish community here in the US accountable for this. Really.

Barakat begins with a bill of particulars against the IDF. Here's how it starts:

The latest massacre in Gaza of 18 members of the Athamna family, including eight children, who were sleeping in their beds, is another example of the level of contempt with which the Israel government views Palestinian lives. The regular use of disproportionate firepower against a trapped population not only violates international law but also contradicts the basic civilized conduct of any responsible government.

One might well think that the "basic civilized condust of any responsible government" would include preventing its citizens from launching armed missiles into schools, homes, cars, ice cream stands, and whatever other "soft targets" are in their way. One might be forgiven for thinking they include not launching cross-border raids to capture and murder soldiers. But such strictures apparently don't apply to the Hamas government of the Palestinian territories.

Of course, I suppose it's possible that the IDF troops, seeing a group of small children picking strawberries, just decided to pick up and machine-gun them all, although if they wanted the strawberries, they probably could have just taken them after the kids were finished.

No, this tragedy, like so many others, is a result of deliberate cynical Palestinian strategy - the placement of Qassam rocket launchers in civilian areas, in order to maximize the deaths of their own people for propaganda purposes. People like Ms. Barakat are mouthpieces for this sort of calculating blood libel, making hay on the deaths of the very people they purport to support. People like Ms. Barakat ought to be ashamed of themselves, yet apparently are beyond shame.

In fact, the Palestinians in question make use of the very humanity of the Israeli soldiers - which they then seek to deny. The Jerusalem Post reported the other day that masses of people flocked to the home of a targeted Hamas murderer, in order to prevent him from being killed or arrested by Israeli troops. I know Gaza has turned into a large school for martyrs, but my guess is that most of those people were there knowing they were safe from the depradations of the IDF.

Israel justifies these attacks as military responses to a simple homemade device called the Qassam "firecracker" rocket. But Israeli politicians do not believe that the Qassam creates a threat to Israeli security. In fact, Shimon Peres, has commented that "This hysteria over the Qassams must end."

Well, when you're quoting Shimon Peres, you know you've run out of options. I'm surprised she just didn't go all the way and quote Jimmy Carter. Let's make a deal - when the Qassams stop killing people in Sderot, and turning that and other border settlements into ghost towns, Israel will stop trying to uproot them. Until then, it's not really up to a government whose charter foresees the complete destruction of Israel in every paragraph to decide what constitutes a security threat.

Brutality has never brought peace to any country or people. Slavery, apartheid and Nazi concentration camps have eventually brought ruin and disgrace upon the perpetrators. All acts of mass slaughter of innocent civilians must be condemned by people of all faiths.

A special responsibility sits with people belonging to the Jewish tradition. After all, these atrocities continue to be committed in their names. It is time that they stand up and defend the Jewish faith from being associated with acts of heartlessness. We have yet to hear even a whisper of disapproval coming out of the American Jewish leadership. This silence from the Jewish community about Israeli atrocities is unconscionable.

One might well conclude that yes, in fact, Palestinian brutality, from Arafat to Abbas to Hamas, hasn't really gotten the Palestinians very much, and that they might want to take a different tack.

As for the call for American Jews to stop defending Israel, Barakat knows perfectly well that's not going to happen. Certainly not as long as Israel remains under existential threat from its Muslim neighbors. In fact, given Barakat's recent hosting of the Mufti of Jerusalem and representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, such a call could be construed as a thinly veiled threat to bring that existential threat Stateside.

Ms. Barakat is apparently beyond shame. But the Rocky ought to know better.

November 13, 2006

All Fundamentalisms Are Not Created Equal

Bookworm Room wonders what happens when you have the left’s favorite oppressed groups at each others’ throats.

The Left likes underdogs. Gays are underdogs. Palestinians are underdogs. Muslims are underdogs. What happens when you throw all three into the mix? This:
A group of gay Palestinian Americans canceled a planned pride march in East Jerusalem on Friday after one of them was beaten unconscious by a local man who said he was from the Waqf Muslim religious authority.

The beating incident occurred on the same day an Israeli gay pride rally went ahead as scheduled, though without a planned march through city streets. The march had been called off after threats by religious and right-wing opponents to mount huge counterdemonstrations. Only minor violence marred the event.


In the East Jerusalem beating, two men — one wielding a knife — came looking for the group of gay Palestinian Americans who were staying at the Faisal Hostel near the Damascus Gate of the Old City. One of the assailants identified himself as being from the Waqf, the clerical trust that administers Muslim religious sites in the city.

“I’m pretty terrified right now,” said Daoud, an MBA student from Detroit who declined to give his full name. “We left the hostel immediately, but when my friend went back to collect some things, they were waiting for him. They asked if he was with ‘the homos’ and then started beating him.”

I'm sure someone is citing this as evidence of the intolerance of both Orthodox Judaism and Islam. Note, however, that the rabbis aren't actually going around turning their yeshivas into training sites for anti-gay street gangs.

(Hat tip: American Thinker)

November 4, 2006

"Their Finest Hour"

Listeners to Hugh Hewitt's radio show are probably familiar with the closing lines of Winston Churchill's famous "Finest Hour" speech. The speech was delivered in 1940, just after Dunkirk, during the mopping up after the Battle of France, and well before the Battle of Britain began. While much of the speech consists of a clear-eyed assessment of the war, the last paragraph is worth reprinting in its entirety:

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole worlds, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."

I have this from a 1941 collection of Churchill's pre-war and wartime speeches, Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Fortuitously, the original buyer of the book tucked a column from the August 15, 1941 New York Times, just after the Atlantic Conference. Here's the closing:

...there is implied the creation of a post-war organization to maintain peace, with the United States a full partner in this effort.

This is the second great decision implicit in this hisoric Declaration of the Atlantic. It means that so long as the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt prevails, and so long as a great majority of the American people endorse his views on world affairs - as they do unquestionably today - the prestige and the influence and the resources of this country will be marshalled on the side of international law and order. This is the end of isolation. It is the beginning of a new era in which the United States assumesthe responsibilities which fall naturally to a great World Power.

One expects that Churchillian insights are still relevant today. Sad, then, that the most valuable words the New York Times has to offer on our current situation were written 65 years ago.

November 1, 2006

First Rule of Holes

When disparaging the intelligence and precision of someone whose grades were better than yours, try to get the syntax right. "Every time I tried to mock you, the words just came out wrong," isn't exactly a calculated to score debating points.

OK, we've all been having a lot of fun at John Kerry's expense today. But what of the MSM? Over at, the writers are collecting a long list of comments by TV, radio, and newspaper reporters and commentators, all of them devoutly hoping that the story will disappear in a day or two. Here, the Denver Post ran a portion of the Washington Post report on the lame joke, which included the following two paragraphs:

The unusual back-and-forth that has little to do with the 2006 midterm elections comes as Democrats are planning to end the campaign by bashing Bush and GOP candidates for supporting the U.S. war policy.

A senior Democratic strategist said the party will run Iraq- focused ads in at least 15 of the most competitive House races between now and Election Day. The strategist, who would not discuss internal strategy on the record, said the Kerry comments are an unnecessary distraction but would soon be forgotten.

Well, I suppose that the positions of a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and ranking member of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs subcommittee (think: "I'm so Ronery") might be irrelevant to an election. Of course, the statement itself is internally contradictory beyond belief: if Senator Kerry is irrelevant to the mid-term elections, why is he out campaigning, and why are those candidates starting to cancel those appearances?

"Ravaging the Countryside Like Suleyman..."

From a 2005 Heritage Foundation study about troop demographics ("Who Bears the Burden?"):

If one single statistic could settle this issue, it is this: 98 percent of all enlisted recruits who enter the military have an education level of high school graduate or higher, compared to the national aver­age of 75 percent.[5] In an education context, rather than attracting underprivileged young Americans, the military seems to be attracting above-average Americans. What remains to explore is whether this pattern of military enlistment is (1) consistent across ZIP codes, (2) consistent across all branches of service, and/or (3) consistent proportionally across all levels of education.

Kerry's remarks got play in part because there's a lingering stereotype that most enlisted men join the military because they have no other options. I'm not so confident that a high school education, generated by the current teachers' union establishment, actually qualifies you to do much except learn more. But having one is essential credentialing, and 98% of troops have one.

October 24, 2006

Reporters Without Borders Redux

Apparently, for the Reporters Sans Frontiers who decided that France has a freer press than the US, the definition of a "free press" includes the right to slander entire countries, and then to haul into court anyone who bothers to question that right. Richard Landes reports on the Paris trial of Philippe Karsenty, who questioned France 2's coverage of the Mohammad al-Durah Pallywood Production. Karsenty has been found guilty of libeling France 2.

Landes, tartly:

After all, the definition of honor-shame culture is one in which you are allowed, expected, even required to shed the blood of another for the sake of your own (alpha-male) honor. And the definition of a civil society is one that systematically substitutes a discourse of fairness for violence in dispute settlement. When a civil society uses the very courts that were created to make that transition from violence to discourse, in order to unfairly protect the honor of dishonest people who pump poisons into its information stream, it corrupts the very life-blood of its republic.


October 23, 2006

Fate and Destiny

Over Shabbat, I finished reading Rav Joseph Soloveitchik's Fate and Destiny, his defense of and definition of religious Zionism. In short, the Rav equates Fate with the isolation that happens to the Jewish people, represented by the Covenant with Abraham. He equates Destiny with the moral role of the Jewish people that they have a hand in creating, defined by the Covenant at Sinai.

The Rav uses as his base text the line, "Kol Dodi Dofek," from Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs). At that point in the story, the maiden hears her lover knocking at her tent and she responds - tragically, too late. Fate and Destiny hears God knocking at the Jewish people's tent, and calls for us to respond by rallying around and helping to build Israel before it's too late. It's brilliant, accessable, and required reading for anyone whose Zionism is rooted in religious faith.

The book is a translation of one of the Rav's Israeli Independence Day lectures, and contains this astonishing line:

The State of Israel today is isolated in precisely the same manner that the Jewish people has been isolated during the thousands of years of its history. If anything, the isolation of the State today is even more striking than the isolation of the Jewish people in the past, for the present-day isolation manifests itself in the international arena.

This lecture was delivered in 1956.

The notion of Israel as the Jew among the nations has gained some currency among thoughtful commentators in the last year or so. Just a f ew weeks ago, Mark Steyn wrote in MacLeans:

The energy expended by the world in denying this particular regional crisis the traditional settlement is unique and perverse, except insofar as by ensuring that the "Palestinian question" is never resolved one is also ensuring that Israel's sovereignty is also never really settled: it, too, is conditional -- and, to judge from recent columns in the Washington Post and the Times of London, it's increasingly seen that way in influential circles -- tolerated as a current leaseholder but, like Anthony Hope's Jew, it can never truly own the land. The Jews are once again rootless transients, though, in one of history's blacker jests, they're now bemoaned in the salons of London and Paris as an outrageous imposition of an alien European population on the Middle East. Which would have given Aaron Lazarus a laugh. The Jews spent millennia on the Continent without ever being accepted as European. But no sooner are the Continent's Jewry all but extinct than suddenly every Jew left on the planet is a European.

The Rav saw it coming 50 years ago.

September 21, 2006

Asking Kazerooni the Hard Questions

Our Favorite Imam is at it again, this time with the enabling help of the Denver Post. Asked about the Pope's comments and the worldwide Islamic justification thereof, Kazerooni replied:

Said [Denver Archdiocese Chancellor Fran] Maier: "Holy war is becoming a cult in parts of the Islamic world, and naming that for what it is needs to be done. The pope spoke reasonably and truthfully. The criticism so far is neither."

Kazerooni said Benedict's comments inflamed tensions as the Middle East simmers over Danish cartoons portraying the prophet Muhammad and President Bush's comments about "Islamo-fascism." Kazerooni leads an interfaith program based at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral.

Asked about the violence in recent days in the Muslim world, Kazerooni said, "I condemn violence of any shape or form. But one has to understand, if you have a charged atmosphere and add fire to it, the situation gets out of control. People in the Middle East, rightly or wrongly, they perceive or believe this is the old crusade coming back."

Kazerooni called Maier's comments about a cult of holy war a stigmatization of all Muslims.

As Wolfgang Pauli used to say about some of his dimmer students' work: This isn't right. This isn't even wrong.

Kazerooni focuses on one sentence in the speech, reducing it to the very caricature (oops!) that the radicals used as a catalyst for the violence in the first place. He avoids the call for dialogue that he's supposedly employed to pursue. He notes the "charged atmosphere," but conveniently forgets his co-religionists who've ionized it in the first place. He refuses to engage the Pope's definition of and call to defend Christianity.

He avoids the fact that Islamists - alone among those criticized - decided to burn churches, some of them Catholic, and shoot nuns. Maybe he's been in on meetings at St. John's where the church fathers are discussing their imminent midnight raid on the cathedral. As for the crusades, the Islamists have been referring to Israel as a "Crusader State" for at least 15 years. And this idea that Maier, who hedged his indisputably true comments so much they need garden clippers, has "stigmatized all Muslims" is just victim politics, pure and simple.

In the meantime, the US has played host to two Iranian Islamo-fascists speakers and at least half a dozen speeches by them. The Post unthinkingly reprints a Boston Globe report calling Ahmadinejad "conciliatory." Here's an example of his conciliation:

The pretexts for the creation of the regime occupying Al-Qods Al-Sharif are so weak that its proponents want to silence any voice trying to merely speak about them, as they are concerned that shedding light on the facts would undermine the raison d'être of this regime, as it has. The tragedy does not end with the establishment of a regime in the territory of others. Regrettably, from its inception, that regime has been a constant source of threat and insecurity in the Middle East region, waging war and spilling blood and impeding the progress of regional countries, and has also been used by some powers as an instrument of division, coercion, and pressure on the people of the region. Reference to these historical realities may cause some disquiet among supporters of this regime. But these are sheer facts and not myth. History has unfolded before our eyes.

At the same time, Mohammed Khatami spoke at the University of Virginia's Rotunda. He began his remarks by quoting Jefferson: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man," which is like Hitler quoting the Hebrew Bible of Amalek from a synagogue pulpit.

Kazerooni has at least indirect ties to these guys, he's a Shiite Iranian Imam who studied in Qom and was chosen to translate a speech by Mesbah-Yazdi celebrating the Iranian Revolution and ridiculing the Jews in the process. (To call Mesbah-Yazdi the Iranian Billy Graham is to explain all you need to know about the difference between the Islamists and contemporary Christianity.) You'd think he might have some useful insights, some telling embarassment, or more-telling lack thereof, on these speeches. Instead, crickets. They bury the story, leaving the questions not only unasked, but even un-alluded to. Readers wouldn't even know those questions are there to be asked.

All of this allows Kazerooni to pose as the wounded, spurned moderate. It's a useful mask, and one the Post ought to be exposing, not enabling.

The Looming Tower

I've been reading Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower. Your friend and mine Mark Steyn has written a review:

In an Islamist grievance culture, the tower doesn't have to be that tall to loom. The tragedy in Wright's book is that across little more than half a century a loser cult has metastasized, eventually to swallow almost all the moderate, syncretic forms of Islam. What was so awful about Sayyid Qutb's experience in America that led him to regard modernity as an abomination? Well, he went to a dance in Greeley, Colo.: "The room convulsed with the feverish music from the gramophone. Dancing naked legs filled the hall, arms draped around the waists, chests met chests, lips met lips . . ."

In 1949, Greeley, Colo., was dry. The dance was a church social. The feverish music was Frank Loesser's charm song Baby, It's Cold Outside. But it was enough to start a chain that led from Qutb to Zawahiri in Egypt to bin Laden in Saudi Arabia to the mullahs in Iran to the man arrested in Afghanistan on Sept. 11. And it's a useful reminder of how much we could give up and still be found decadent and disgusting by the Islamists. A world without Baby, It's Cold Outside will be very cold indeed.

But read the whole thing.

September 16, 2006

Syria? Syria?!

I agree with the thrust of Powerline's posting on Milbank on Powell to McCain, I think it was a mistake to include Syria among those cooperating with us. (I know, there was a fairly heavy qualifier in front of it, but still.) The embassy attacks had all the earmarks of a setup by the Syrian government. See Counterterrorismblog for a more detailed discussion, although it was the first thing that leapt to my mind, too. Remember, the Syrian government follows Soviet doctrine in most things, and this is a classic Soviet ploy.

Add to that that we know Syria is supporting Iran & Hezbollah, and that we have strong reason to believe Iran cooperates with al-Qaeda. Syria is reqesting, "more Western intelligence" so it can operate in a regional manner. First, what region? Turkey? Iraq? Jordan? Lebanon? These are pretty much the last places we want Syria operating. Second, Syria's a police state; they know what's going on inside their country as well as Saddam knew Iraq. This plea sounds like a request that we turn over our counterintelligence networks so the Syrians can help the Iranians roll them up.

We've all gotten a lot better at reading enemy (Islamist) and opponent (Democratic & MSM) propaganda more critically. We can't let those faculties desert us when the news appears to be good.

Unintentional Irony

So, I'm reading Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower, when I come upon the following paragraph:

After Israel's victory in the 1967 Six Day War, the entire Arab world sank into a state of despondency. Turki became so depressed that he began skipping classes, then had to make up the work in summer school. One of his classmates, a gregarious young man from Arkansas named Bill Clinton, spent four hours coaching him for an ethics test. It was August 19, Clinton's 21st birthday. Turki got a B in the class, but he dropped out of Georgetown soon afterward without finishing his undergraduate degree.

So far, I'm impressed. The book starts with Sayyid Qutb, whose thought turns out to have crystallized while doing a turn at UNC's predecessor in Greeley, CO. The footnotes actually have sources, as opposed to, "conversation with anonymous Pentagon source." I'll have a full review when I finish it.

September 13, 2006

Betraying Mr. Jefferson

I graduated from Virginia in 1987. My sister graduated in 1982. My father graduated in 1957. My mother, while she left school after my father graduated, as was the style in those days, also was a student at U.Va. I bleed orange and blue, a condition which tends to confuse the doctors, but makes perfect sense to me.

Which is why I am seeing crimson.

I found out today, via Hugh Hewitt, that my University had the dishonor of hosting Mohammed Khatami, lately president of Iran. Now, not without dissent. But still.

I'm sure the members of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, all of whom Mr. Khatami and his kind hold in utter contempt, would agree with the Cav Daily's editorial:

After Khatami's visit to the University, he will speak at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. a church, that, if it had an ideological affiliation, would be to toleration and reason -- values instilled by Jefferson into the American conscience. One can only imagine the reception many would give to an American official speaking at one of the holy sites of Islam. But here, political posturing aside, Khatami will encounter an attentive, respectful audience. And that alone will be a victory.

I'm sure that Mr. Khatami would count it as a victory, anyway. Ah well, never mind. You like the Cowboys, I like the Redskins, but we can all go out and have a beer green tea afterwards.

Not merely having him speak on Grounds, but at the Rotunda no less. If there is a Holy of Holies at the University, the Rotunda is it. It was the original library, housed the original classrooms. As Hugh pointed out, Jefferson detested theological absolutism. When he wrote, "I have sworn on the altar or God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man," it was Khatami he had in mind. Some arguments we settled a while back.

It's from the same building (although not the same room) that FDR delivered his famous "stab in the back" speech when Italy entered the war against France:

Surely the new philosophy proves from month to month that it could have no possible conception of the way of life or the way of thought of a nation whose origins go back to Jamestown and Plymouth Rock.


On this tenth day of June, 1940, the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor.

On this tenth day of June, 1940, in this University founded by the first great American teacher of democracy, we send forth our prayers and our hopes to those beyond the seas who are maintaining with magnificent valor their battle for freedom.

To invite the modern-day equivalent of Mussolini to speak at the Rotunda is to betray everything the University of Virginia is supposed to stand for.

September 11, 2006

September 10, 2001

No, I've not given in to the September 10th mentality. But a September 12th mentality only works by comparison to what came before.

September 10, I was looking forward to starting a new contract, after having been looking for several months. As a last little exercise of my weekday free time, I got in the car, and drove up to Adams & Adams bookstore in Laramie to buy a book I had seen there earlier in the year. I can't even remember if I called ahead to see if they still had it.

Later, much later, I remembered the trip, but not the date. Not until I happened to open the book to the flyleaf, where I always write my name & when I bought the book, did I remember when I had had time to drive 2 1/2 hours to buy a book. The next day was a close-range bullet-hole in the calendar, spreading poweder burns backwards and forwards.

September 10, 2006

Well, There's Islam And Then There's Islam

In last Sunday's Denver Post, John Andrews refers to "Islam's violence problem." It's a formula that inevitably draws protests that the problem lies not with Islam, but with some violent people who claim to practice it. This is misdirection masquerading as nuance.

I think there's a terminological problem here. "Islam" is a religion, described by books, and defined by religious, theological, legal, and ethical traditions. There are many versions of "Islam." To say that "Islam" (these aren't scare quotes, just quotes to distinguish terms under discussion) can't be peaceful, or isn't peaceful is indeed too broad if it's this "Islam" we're discussing.

"Islam," however, is also a community, a people, with current religious and political institutions. The shape that "Islam" the religion takes is determined by what direction "Islam" the community directs it to take. In that sense, "Islam" has a serious violence problem, which it needs to rid itself of. I don't doubt that many if not most American Muslims, as terrified of the bomb-makers as we are. But there are specific steps that Islam the community can take to isolate and destroy the radicals.

I'm going to take the unusual step of suggesting that Islamic (or Arabic, in this case) terminology may help clarify matters. Rather than discussing "Islam," criticism of which will inevtiably lead Muslims to argue the first definition, I suggest saying that the "Umma," or the Muslim community, has a violence problem.

I don't doubt that Islamic texts give plenty of sanction to violence to expand the religion. Jihad is as jihad does. But by making this distinction, it then becomes possible to pin the responsibility where it belongs. When a Muslim says, "Islam doesn't have a violence problem, certain Muslims do, or certain people calling themselves Muslims do," then the proper response can be, "OK, so what is the umma doing to isolate and rid itself of these people?"

It's a case where we can, with little effort, use the language of those we're trying to persuade to simultaneously clarify the issues, and to discredit our enemies. And if a Muslim responds by saying that the religion and the umma are indivisible, then we can go right back to saying that Islam does have a problem, after all.

September 1, 2006

The Goof is in the Pudding

So is pudding a gel or a liquid? Because security seems to think that sealed Jello pudding cups (mmm, only 60 calories each), are a mortal threat to life and limb. After having waited on line for 20 minutes. After having gone through the ritual x-ray screening. Then, the guy takes the pudding out and informs me that while I may continue on, the pudding, and the plastic spoons, have been confiscated.

"What if I eat it?"
"I mean, eat it, right here. Is that ok?"
Incredulous: "No?"
"No. You can go back out there and eat it, but not here."
Grasping: "What if I eat it over there, in that corner?"
"But I'm not taking it on the plane then, I'm just eating it."

There are some people who were just born to be security checkers. I know the guy has what has to be pretty close to the Worst Job on Earth, but let him buy his own damn pudding.

August 30, 2006

San Francisco Attacks - Map

UPDATE: Fromt he map, it's hard to conclude anything about his targeting. Most of the Jewish targets are to the west or south of the attack zone, and Federation is down by the waterfront, far out of the way. If he was heading west when he was stopped, then that might point to a little more intent. At the same time, two things to bear in mind: 1) most - though not all - of the targets to the west are synagogues, which are unlikely to have lots of people hanging around mid-day during the week, and 2) the JCC, but not nearby Shearith Israel and Temple Emanu-El would likely have had people hanging around during the day. The question is how much of this, if any, Popal knew.

Here's a map of the San Francisco SUV attacks from yesterday.

If someone with better knowledge of the area can send me a list of nearby Jewish sites, I'll overlay them on the map.

At the same time, Wizbang Blog has more, and a commenter suggests possible family connection between the driver and the 1999 murder of a 24-year-old honors student from Queens.

August 28, 2006

Snakes on a Panel

Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni led a panel discussion Sunday evening on "The Abrahamic Path to Peace & Justice," talking about the ethics of war as seen by Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

A couple of weeks ago, the Imam helped organize a "peace" rally here in Denver. Dr. Susan Heitler took pictures, and was kind enough to send them along. Here they are. You won't see them in the Denver Post.

These signs aren't too bad. Of course, it's interesting to see what the Muslim Society of America considers to be evil. Take note of the counter-protestor in the background. We'll see more of him in a bit.



Ahhh, here we go. Notice how she's holding the sign so daintily, as though she doesn't want to be soiled by the message. Obviously the star pupil in the sign-holding class. If Israll did miss this poor child, it's almost certainly because he was out of earshot when Hezbollah rang the dinner bell for the chow house launching pad.



And Official Villification of Israel Rally would be complete without the obligatory Rachel Corrie sign. Now, this protest took place within a few blocks of several fine construction zones. If he really wanted to protest what happened...



I wonder why they use this picture instead of this one. Apparently, they're more subtle in Berkeley than they used to be. Perhaps that doesn't fit in with the proper image of a "peace activist."



Well, carrying around pictures of Nasrallah does. What a cute little hyphen that "Anti-Semetic" has in it, too.



And, hey! It can get you a ticket! No, not really. This is probably a reporter in search of even-handedness.



A Useful Idiot, looking every inch the part.



Forget the guy with the bullhorn for a minute. If you passed this kid on a street, with his Nuggets jersey and his rakishly-tilted hat, along with what looks like maybe a little bling, would you think he identified with a genocidal maniac?



Same with his little red-haired friend. You know, there's a chance that this kid in the Nuggets jersey is just handing out pictures of the newly-hidden-Imam. Next time, he'll have one of those life-size cut-outs where people can get their picture taken shaking hands with the guy.



"Mommy, can I get a semtex belt this year?" "No, not until you're old enough to understand what a virgin is. Now help me match the ball-bearing size for the warhead."




Want to know what Hezbollah's a problem. As they say in Quebec, "Je Me Souviens." And he's even got some constructive suggestions.



How certain, how self-confident, how self-righteous. Kind of makes the whole spelling thing really, really satisfying.



Naturally, we wouldn't want to politicize the kids. Remember this photo the next time someone brings up the little girls writing clever messages to Nasrallah on those smart bombs.



Oh, no, this doesn't have anything to do with Jews at all. In another instance of accusing the enemy of what you do yourself, this guy is clearly asking us to consider what Israel - the Jews, dontcha know - would do if they had WMDs. Don't tempt me.



And this leads to this. Such bravery, such courage. Hey, if you're a real man, why are you wearing a burkha?



And so it goes. And people wonder why I worry about self-defense.

August 23, 2006

Putting Autism to Work

The Blotter reports that TSA workers stink at detecting bombs:

The test, called TIPS, Threat Image Protection System, is performed while officers are on the job. While screening passenger bags, a TIPS test image is randomly displayed on the baggage checking screen amongst images of the bags that are being checked. The test image is usually of a bag with what may be a bomb, bomb-making materials or a weapon. The screener is meant to hit a button in order to determine whether the image is of a real bag or if it is a TIPS image.

Many officers are missing the test images all together. Another problem is that many of the officers are trying to "game" the system, meaning they often indicate a threat image when none are present. This may mean TSA officers are being overly cautious in identifying a potential bomb. This becomes a problem because it slows down the line as bags are pulled off to be opened and searched.

(Hat tip: Hot Air)

Temple Grandin, in Animals is Translation, suggests using autistic adults for this job. Many people with autism are able to separate unusual patterns from the noise extremely well, in part because they don't filter out as much information to start with. Normal people (her term) don't do this, so they tend to find out too much signal, as well, especially signal that they're not looking for. Since it's hard to concentrate on this work for very long, screeners get tired easily, and stop being able to look for things that are out of place in the baggage x-rays.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

August 22, 2006

Moral Equivalence

Imam Kazerooni authored a Speakout op-ed piece in yesterday's Rocky ("Reverse the Logic of War, Terrorism"). While he doesn't mention the upcoming panel, sponsored by MILA, it serves to frame the expected discussion there. To wit - Israel is guilty, too. Maybe not even, "too."

The problem isn't that there's anything controversial with what he wrote - the problem is that there's nothing controversial in what he wrote. The US and Israel come in for relentless criticism because they have higher standards for conduct, and largely live up to them. Hezbollah, Hamas, and al Qaeda seek to benefit from the low expectations people have of them.

It would appear that Imam Kazerooni wants not only a pathetically low bar for victory, but also for behavior.

August 21, 2006

Midwestern Approach to Finance?

Supposedly a conservative approach to finance at a national level.

Has she ever seen what the national debt was, as a percent of GDP, at the end of WWII? My problem with Iraq isn't that we're doing too much, it's that we're probably not doing enough. In any event, she could probably fund the whole war effort from this list.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

August 16, 2006

The Iranian Cartoons Unveiled

Much like the Danish cartoons, everyone's writing about them, some people are condemning them, but nobody's showing them. I put the Danish cartoons here because too many people were happy chatting away without a clue what they were talking about. And not just Democrats.

Likewise, it's all well and good to remind everyone what the mullahs are with words, but there's a reason that people still watch Triumph of the Will. The Caricature House hasn't posted the actual cartoons yet - probably worried about selling limited-edition prints, and wouldn't want to give the milk away for free - but they and some other outlets have posted photo galleries.

So let's get started, shall we? We need to be back in time for the afternoon beheadings.

You gotta admire their attention to detail. I mean really, you spend, what, thousands of dollars promoting the contest, inviting the press, buying figs and dates for kiddush for the opening, and then you screw up the poster. Half the cartoons are in English, which tells you a little something about the target audience, but also tells you that apparently their proofreaders are Reuters rejects. Someone's getting a stern reprimand over this.

Note, by the way, the theme of the contest. Take a close look at the right-hand edge of that top helmet. Others have noticed, but it bears repeating: these guys want to deny the Holocaust happened, while portraying the Israelis Jews as latter-day Nazis. The genius of good propaganda is doublethink.

Lost in thought. Probably unfamiliar territory. But look at the cartoon over the guy's shoulder. Sharon in a Nazi uniform! The caption hardly matters. There's a lot of stuff with this idea. In fact, pretty much anything with an actual Holocaust theme has this one. Ah well, dictatorship'll do that to creativity.

Bonus points if you noticed the name of the wire service on the microphone.

See what I mean? This guy, who looks kind of normal, so we can't call him, "Green Helmet Guy," or anything like that, seems to be the head of Caricature House. Maybe we'll call him "Houseboy."

Houseboy's the center of their attention, but focus on the cartoon to the right. Yes, that's Lady Liberty giving a Nazi Hezbollah salute. My guess is that Bernard Goldberg is right - you could probably find a half-dozen of these in Leftist US publications protesting the Patriot Act.

One long staircase just for the women,
And one even longer for the men.
And one more leading nowhere just for dhimmis.

Well, you know, once you're retired, you've got all this extra time. I mean, sure, you've got your 10,000-hour pin from the Men's Club down at the dungeon, but really, after a while, who needs it?

There's another one of those, "The Palestinians are the New Jews" cartoons again. The guy's in a concentration-camp uniform but he's wearing a kaffiyah, and look closely. Yes! It's a little yellow crescent. How clever! Especially given the Law of Dhimmitude, Clothing Chapter.

Like so much else, this is called, "projection," where you accuse the other guy of doing what you're a specialist at. Then you count on the moral laziness of the enemy to nod thoughtfully, sorrowfully, and ask if it's really come to that.

The one on the left looks like a little wind-up toy with a rifle going through his nose. There's red, white, and blue, and my guess is that there's a Magen David on there somewhere. Somehow, I don't think they'd get the Pinnochio reference.

On the right, it looks like a little girl asking a soldier, "Are you a Holocaust?"

No cute, little girl, I'm probably here to hand out candy and schoolbooks. Only these ones will have maps that actually show Israel, and won't refer to Jews as monkeys and pigs.

Here's Houseboy making an important point of some kind.

The last word on the cartoon over his shoulder is, "DEAD," and there's a little red-and-white swastika on top of Uncle Sam's head, although Uncle Sam, upon further reflection, looks a lot like Uncle Adolf. If anyone can make out the words in white, I'm sure that would help us all get the joke.

Here's another common theme - that Israel only exists because of the Holocaust. See, the hook-nosed Shylock uses the Holocaust to plant himself and his menorah on Palestine. Of course, Zionism began long before WWII. There would have been a state even without the Holocaust, because the Jews who founded it did the spadework necessary to create one.

Something symbolic in this picture, isn't there?

The first one doesn't have any Holocaust imagery that I can find, so really, the judges ought to be fined for misapplying the rules. The second cartoon seems to be saying that the Holocaust was a Christian activity, although the Nazis were pagans. Again, the idea is that whatever happened, the Muslims weren't involved, even though they seem to be trying to make up for lost time.

This one's unusual, in that it beats up on the British. I can't quite make out what the eggs are, though.

Here's another idea, ripped from today's Air America - the idea that little angels get baptised by fire through the flame of Israel, and are forged into Hamas-niks. Whatever you do to defend yourself, you just make more of them. Again, though, nothing to do with the Holocaust. Really, are these judges French ice dancing judges or something?

"You have to be carefully taught." Apparently, these people haven't heard that Hate Isn't a Family Value. Despite all the putridness oozing from the other cartoons and their admirers, this is probably the most chilling picture of them all. I remember when I was about fifteen, we took a family vacation to Montreal, and the site of the World's Fair. The Humour Pavilion was still there, and included a whole roomful of cartoons. L'havdil.

She's laughing! She's actually enjoys this stuff. And the kid is pointing at the cartoon in the corner (look carefully at his left arm). The only one with the decency to look the other way is the stuffed animal.

This is a case study in propaganda. The Iranians really believe that the main reason the West supports Israel is guilt over the Holocaust, so they try to 1) deny its existence, 2) tie Israel's existence to it, and 3) equate the Jews with their murderers. No, it's not intellectually coherent, but there's something there for everyone post-modern.

August 14, 2006


Downtown Denver experienced an anti-Israel rally this past Saturday - out of respect for the Jewish Sabbath, no doubt. We'll get into the more bizarre aspects of the rally - and the Post's coverage of it - in another post, but for the moment, consider this, from the Denver Post's coverage:

Religious leaders helped organize the march. Mixed messages ranging from steadfast nonviolence to support for Hezbollah "show the diversity" of a new organization called the Front Range Coalition for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, said Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni, a leader of interfaith efforts at St. John's Cathedral.

If I were capable any longer of being astonished at what gets said at these things, I'd be astonished. This is so jaw-droppingly incoherent and dishonest that one wonder just what on earth the church fathers have been smoking, that they allow this man to stay on the payroll as leader of an office dedicated to "interfaith understanding."

Diversity? Yes, the crowd ran the gamut all the way from the genocidal to the merely anti-Semitic. Evidently he's been reading the CU student handbook as a dictionary. I hadn't realized that tolerance for, indeed applause for, Ahmedinejad's willing executioners was included in the definition of "interfaith efforts."

I've thoroughly chronicled the antics of this mild-mannered mullah on this blog, and while I've been pretty hard on some pretty bad behavior, I've resisted characterizing the man's beliefs. One measures the content of one's words carefully, and I would never want to give someone an excuse to give up and go over to the dark side, or say something that I'd be embarassed by years later.

No more. There are ways of handling this sort of miscreancy. A well-organized rally would have had marshals controlling the message a little bit. The quote to the paper would have been about how his "movement" had no place for the sort of hatred that Nasrallah represents, blah blah blah. But Kazerooni couldn't even bring himself to say that.

Kazerooni knows what Hezbollah and Nasrallah are. He knows perfectly well that Nasrallh, too, has said he's looking forward to the ingathering of the Jewish exiles, all the easier to kill them. He's also a professional at PR, so he knows how to stay on message when he wants to. And in this case, the message was, "we'll take all comers, even if they're experimenting with Zyklon B in their back yards."

He's not anti-war, he's just on the other side.

Practical Suggestions on Iraq

When I knew Michael Eisenstadt, I always got the impression that he was a pragmatic, center-left guy. Unlike most center-left guys, though, he's actually interested in seeing the Iraq project succeed, and has offered practical advice both before and after the invasion. This may come in part from his experience in the reserves, and his participation in the First Gulf War.

I hope that someone in the administration is reading today's Daily Standard, where Michael's offering of good, sound advice on avoiding a sectarian civil war can be found. Here's his conclusion, but read the whole thing.

As the sectarian violence in Iraq increases, the United States cannot afford to be seen standing by while Iraqis slaughter each other; this would further undermine its credibility in Iraq and the region and encourage neighboring states to actively support one side or another, making a bad situation worse. The United States has both a moral obligation to act, and an interest in doing so, when U.S. forces can save innocent lives, and when it has a reasonable chance of limiting or containing the violence. The recent U.S. decision to send thousands of extra troops to Baghdad--the site of most of the sectarian bloodletting of the past few months--is thus a step in the right direction.

On the other hand, there is a significant danger that U.S. intervention will further undermine domestic support for an increasingly unpopular war; further stress an already overstretched force; and jeopardize the tacit U.S. alliance with the Shiites, which has underpinned U.S. policy in post-Saddam Iraq. Finding a way to contain the sectarian violence and to balance these latent tensions in U.S. Iraq policy may prove as difficult for Washington as containing the insurgency has been. But it is essential if the United States is yet to achieve an acceptable outcome in Iraq--and if Iraq is to have a future as a viable state.

August 10, 2006

Setting Back the Middle East 15 Years

Andrew Stuttaford over at The Corner quotes an article in the Financial Times (the voice of the European establishment) by one Mamoun Fandy:

The US and the rest of the world should take into account the concerns of moderate states and moderate elements within Muslim societies – or else Washington’s desire to create a “new” Middle East may bring to the fore a very old one. To avoid this, the US and Europe have no option but to tip the balance in favour of moderate governments. One way would be to convene an international conference similar to the one in Madrid in 1991 after the first Gulf war to address the root of the problem, namely to solve the issue of Palestine and get the world behind the idea of the two-state solution. Only then can the world deny the Islamists their ultimate rallying cry, take the Middle East from the hands of the Islamist movements and put it back in the world of nation states.

Mamoun Fandy is either irretrievably naïve or cynically manipulative. I don’t know anything about him, so I can’t say which.

But by all means, yes, let’s repeat Madrid, which led to Oslo, which has been such a resounding success.

How on God’s green earth is “Palestine” the root problem related to Hezbollah? This is a group that teamed up with Syria to manufacture the Shebaa Farms issue so they had an excuse to keep killing Jews.

Israel keeps offering a two-state solution. The Palestinians keep choosing war. They have now voted in a government who are Islamists. Why would Hamas willingly deny themselves their rallying cry? And why is Holocaust denial radical and dangerous from Iran, but acceptable and “moderate” from Abbas? (That was his PhD thesis – that only a few hundred thousand Jews were killed.)

We can debate drawing the line here or there or the sanctity of the pre-1967-borders-but-not-the-pre-1948-borders from now until Doomsday (or August 22, whichever comes first), but none of that is the point. The conference could decide that the permanent, defensible borders of Israel were the city limits of Tel Aviv and it wouldn’t make any difference.

Israel Is Winning This War

From Lee Smith on the Daily Standard site ("Invincible?"):

It's useful to keep in mind that the experts who keep telling us that Hezbollah is such an integral part of Lebanon and Lebanese politics have a vested ideological interest in saying so. Never mind the fact that in the last month somewhere between 150,000 to 250,000 Shiites have found refuge in Syria; or that many of the Shiite regions in the South and the Bekaa valley and parts of the Daheyh from which they came have been demolished; or that hundreds of Hezbollah fighters and political officials have been killed.

Or that the group's charismatic leader will likely be bunkered for the rest of his life. The group's capacity to provide its much-vaunted social services is also greatly diminished and many other local political actors will be looking to take revenge for the destruction of Lebanon not just on Hezbollah, but the Shia community itself. And so the possibility that Hezbollah might very well be on its last legs does not seem to register with the Hezbollah experts who insist that the party of God is a permanent part of Lebanon's social fabric.

Israel can do this job; in fact, only Israel can do this job. It was true four weeks ago, and it's true now.

August 9, 2006

Imam Kazerooni: Medical Expert

In an appearance of such magnitude that it rated coverage by the Workers World, Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni has revealed his credentials as a medical expert. At a showing of portions of Poison DUst, a film purporting to demonstrate the dangers of depleted uranium (other than the obvious ones of being shot at with it), Kazerooni noted:

Sheik Ibrahim Kazerooni was quick to point out, when the question was asked about other factors that might be responsible for the rise in cancer rates, such as burning oil, that during the first U.S. war against Iraq, the burning pipe lines were in Kuwait, not Iraq, and that there had been a jump in cancer rates only in Iraq. Incidence of cancer there has since increased over 300 percent.

Kazerooni isn't a doctor or an epidemiologist. His appearance here is completely political, an effort to undermine the moral standing of his adopted country, the United States.

You want to know about depleted uranium? Start here and here.

Three Down, Eight To Go

The FBI has located three of the 11 Egyptian "exchange students" who went missing yesterday, leaving eight on the lam. One was found in Minneapolis, and two others in New Jersey.

Two were found in New Jersey, according to two law enforcement officials, one of whom said they turned themselves in to authorities. No further information was available.

Eslam Ibrahim Mohamed El-Dessouki, 21, was arrested without incident about 11 a.m. (noon ET) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, according to a statement from FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko.

"El-Dessouki was taken into custody on an administrative immigration violation as an out-of-status student," Kolko said.

El-Dessouki "was located through source information," a federal law enforcement official said.

There was no indication what El-Dessouki was doing in Minnesota, but he was not visiting relatives, the official said.

Below is a list of the 10 non-Minnesotans. I couldn't even find these names or the press release surrounding the El Alamein Eleven on the FBI or ICE websites, much less pictures. I'm sure glad there's no terrorist threat.

  • El Sayed Ahmed Elsayed Ibrahim, 20
  • Alaa Abd El Fattah Ali El Bahnasawi, 20
  • Mohamed Ragab Mohamed Abd Alla, 22
  • Ahmed Refaat Saad El Moghazi El Laket, 19
  • Ahmed Mohamed Mohamed Abou El Ela, 21
  • Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed El Moghazy, 20
  • Ebrahim Mabrouk Moustafa Abdou, 22
  • Moustafa Wagdy Moustafa El Gafary, 18
  • Mohamed Saleh Ahmed Maray, 20
  • Mohamed Ibrahim Fouaad El Shenawy, 17

Post-War Occupation

Honestly, I don't see any good options here aside from depopulating the place. (No, that's not really an option.)

The Lebanese Army has almost certainly been compromised by Hezbollah infiltration. Even assuming that's a minor inconvenience, this isn't exactly the Third ID we're talking about (from today's WSJ):

But Lebanese commanders such as Maj. Gen. Achraf Rifi, who leads the nation's police force, believe the task could prove difficult. Lebanon's military is poorly equipped and fragmented along ethnic and religious lines. Its police force has 20,000 members, but fewer than half have guns or ammunition. Some of the weapons they use are World War II-era rifles.

An international force would seem to be the worst alternative of all, as it would almost inevitably morph into a Hezbollah Protection Force. It will be composed of countries with virtually no stake in Israel's safety, but a great investment and sense of mission in a continued "cease-fire." It will become a coalition, hostage to its slowest, least-aggressive members.

Since it will derive its legitimacy from its broadness, countries that are less interested in diarming Hezbollah than in sticking their fingers into the pie will be able to prevent any effective action merely by threatening to pull out. (There is no symmetry here. One could see Australia, for instance, getting disgusted with inaction and withdrawing, only to be condemned and ignored because it didn't know how to play well with others.)

At this point, the force becomes passive, and assumes a defensive posture. The goal of its individual soldiers becomes to survive, and the most immediate threat to its survival comes not from Israel, but from Hezbollah. ("Nice little tent you got there; shame if anything happened to it.") Count on Hezbollah to establish that fact quickly and decisively by breaking whatever cease-fire agreement gets passed.

In fact, military necessity dictates that this is true. Expecting troops speaking different languages, with no history of joint operations, to conduct offensive operations on foreign and hostile ground is expecting too much. Expecting them to be willing to take the casualties necessary to learn how to do this under fire leads back to the same political conclusion.

Israel would be left with no real options to reverse such a failure. If the Lebanese Army were to fail to control and disarm the Hezbos, Israel could hold it responsible for its failure, militarily if necessary. Such an option doesn't exist with a UN-sponsored force.

Israel itself really doesn't want a repeat of its 1982-2000 occupation of the place. That occupation was justifiable for the same reason this one would be, which earned Israel not one bit of sympathy or support. Eventually, the will to continue in Lebanon collapsed from within.

In this case, Israel is already noisily looking for a way out of Lebanon, and it hasn't even occupied the place yet. It's going to be a long, hard, slog to persuade the world that it's willing to stay there as long as is necessary to be able to leave on its own terms.

August 7, 2006


Driving through northern Colorado and Utah yesterday, we had the radio - and thus the hourly news - on the whole time. Not a single word about the Reuters photoshopping scandal. Not on ABC, CNN, or CBS.

Imagine that.

In spite of Rathergate, Jason Blair, and countless other fiskings of the MSM by the blogosphere, the MSM continue to believe that if they don't report it, it isn't news. And that whatever they do, whatever they do isn't news.

August 6, 2006

Changing the Narrative

I've been given an assignment by a friend of mine in Israel. She's near Jerusalem, out of the line of fire - so far. She sent me the following email:

I'm finished being depressed (though that may well return periodically--ten killed today in one Katyusha strike)--now I'm mad.

It looks like we are losing the PR war even though we are doing good work on the ground. I'm not talking about the pictures of Lebanese dead and refugees ad nauseum; I'm talking about the fact that Nasrallah is weaving a narrative of victory, even as he is taking it on the chin. Being a democracy, we criticize ourselves endlessly and keep wondering whether we're doing the right thing, etc. etc.

In a war against terror, the narrative is important, because this is not going to be a knock-down, cry-uncle situation even if we win. Hizbullah is not a sovereign state (although it functions as a state-within-a-state and a powerful military organization in Lebanon) so it will never have to concede defeat and/or sign any formal declaration of defeat. They can *always* claim to have won, even if we manage to assassinate Nasrallah (halevai...). So we have to change the narrative--*not* because we're losing, but because we're winning and to defeat terrorists we have to be seen by the world--particularly the Arab world--to be winning.

So your assignment is to change the narrative in your corner of the blog world (blogosphere?), and ask others who think as you do to do the same. Believe me, this is almost as important as what the soldiers are doing in the field. It may be even *more* important in the long run.

Honestly, I don't think I can do much better than this. We're winning this war on the ground. We need to let the world know that fact.

August 4, 2006

Chavez Moves Into Iranian Orbit

Pulling his charge d'affairs from Israel is only the latest indication of Hugo Chavez's growing aspirations for full Senior Partner Status in the Axis of evil.

Venezuelan blogger Daniel Duquenal reports on a Venezuelan governor who's state seems to have its own foreign policy.

Governor of Anzoategui, Tarek William Saab, a son of Libyan immigrants, has used state funds to take out this newspaper ad. Go take a look.

The Spanish is fairly simple, mostly cognate words with English, so even I can translate the salient passages. It refers to Israel as a terrorist state, and one of terrorism's "diverse forms of oppression," and its invasion of southern Lebanon as "genocide." It refers to the 1978 and 1982 invasions, and no anti-Israel screed would be complete without a cameo by the Butcher Sharon and his appearance at Sabra and Shatilla. There's also the traditional, "I know you are, but what am I?" taunts of neo-fascism and "holocaust" against the Arab peoples.

This isn't some rural governor run amok. Anzoategui is a major province, including Puertoa La Cruz, and running right up to the banks of the major river, the Orinoco. Here's a map.

Saab is known as part of Chavez's inner circle, apparently acting as his lawyer at one point. As usual with the Left, violence isn't far behind.

Groups of demonstrators from three anti-Iraq war rallies that took place in Caracas in the first months of 2003 (noted above) made a detour in order to pass the Tiferet Israel Synagogue. Several with masked faces drew graffiti on the walls and door against Israel, against the Jews (for example, the words “Cursed Jews,” surrounded by swastikas and the swastika equated with the Star of David), against Sharon, against the US and against George Bush, and in favor of the Palestinian cause. The last rally, which took place on 25 March, was the most violent: the group threw bottles and stones at the wall of the synagogue and tried to break in the door. The rally itself was attended by several officials and public figures, including Minister of Communications and Information Nora Uribe, Congressman Tarek William Saab and Governor of the Municipality of Libertador Fredy Bernal.

Saab has also intervened to protect Hezbollah terrorists involved in the bombings in Buenos Aires of Jewish targets, and has run interference for Islamist elements operating on Margarita Island.

Whether Chavez is being used by the Islamists, or thinks he's using them, or both, we've seen this story before, and it doesn't end well.

August 2, 2006

Is "Convergence" the Price of Support?

For a while, I've noticed that Britain has abandoned its usual Arabist line during this war. It even joined an effort by Poland, the Czechs, Germany, and Denmark, to water down an EU cease-fire call.

Now, with Olmert again pushing post-bellum "convergence," I wonder if maybe the cost of that support has been the West Bank. It wouldn't be the first time. Blair supported the Iraw War, but there was a tacit understanding that afterwards, the "Palestinian Problem" would be dealt with.

We all know what rational people believe the long-term map should look like, give or take a few cities here and there. But the Palestinians, having repeatedly rejected that map in favor of war, are clearly not rational, and clearly not defeated. Rewarding this behavior is only going to produce more of it, and if we're not learning that lesson now, we'll never learn it.

Olmert Politicizes the War

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert is in the process of blowing every major advantage that Israel had going into this war.

It started the war with a sense of urgency, thinking it had less time than it did. Now, it runs the risk of running out of time, having lately assumed it had more time than it did. Despite diplomatic successes by the Bush administration - the latest being the decision by the UK, Denmark, the Czechs, Poland, and Germany(!) to water down an EU call for a cease-fire to near-meaninglessnes. Nevertheless,

It started the war with an overhwelming advantage in men and materiel. Having used them in dribs and drabs, it has allowed Hezbollah to engage piecemeal, rather than face an irresistable onslaught. Even while keeping a strategic reserve, Israel could have put 70,000 men on the ground, while sealing off Hezbollah's retreat and confronting them from all sides. Instead, Olmert has confined himself primarily to probing frontal assaults, allowing the enemy to redirect its men to the threat of the moment.

It started the war with almost unparallelled unanimity, now it risks destructive political infighting. An generally gloomy email from a friend of mine in Israel cited the unity, or "achdut," as the one bright spot worth mentioning. Olmert has now shattered that by attaching an unpopular and divisive (not to mention strategically suicidal) "convergence" plan as a war aim for a popular and necessary war. Some reservists from the territories are now threatening not to fight, if the purpose of the war is to make politifcal room for Olmert to declare victory and give away their homes.

All of these failures of leadership - and it is a massive failure of leadership - are magnified by Israel's need for at least tacit support from parts of the rest of the world for its efforts. If the US (for instance) concludes that Israel's war aims are muddy, tha Israel isn't seriously pursuing victory, or that it's falling prey to internal battles, it may well change the cost-benefit calculus of the war.

July 29, 2006

Motzei Shabbat Pick-Me-Up

A while back, I wanted to know why we weren't making more fun of the Iranians. After all, lack of a sense of humor is a sure sign you're losing (ask any Democrat).

July 28, 2006

Seattle Jewish Federation Shooting

The Seattle Allied Jewish Federation was attacked today, apparently by a lone Pakistani gunman with a criminal history, who identified hiimself as an American Muslim angry at Israel.

Federation and the local ADL here in Denver are responding by paying for security tomorrow morning at all area synagogues. I'm sure that west coast synagogues will also be able to take appropriate measures, but since the attack happened at about 7:00 PM Eastern Time, it may be up to New York City to do something about the shuls there.

There's no word on the man's citizenship status or the nature of his criminal background, but there's only one combination of events that shouldn't have resulted in his deportation - if his crimes were committed after he became a citizen. Anything else would be another reminder of the suicidal nature of our immigration policies.

Time to finish getting that concealed carry permit, I suppose. Sigh.

All Hugs and Kisses

Why is it that the normally-sensible Rocky goes all weak-kneed and gooey-eyed when the subject is Israel and its neighbors right now?

A few dozen Israeli Jewish, Israeli Arab, and Palestinian schoolgirls are coming to Denver to meet each other and you know, like, have a dialogue.

Seeking Common Ground requested that the teens' last names not be published for safety reasons.

No comment necessary.


"I'm so completely confused," said Lily, 18, of Guerneville, Calif....


"There's no right on either side," said Lily...

QED! I promise, any lack of context here is entirely the fault of the reporter.

"Any time you get Palestinians and Israelis in the same room together, it's a success," she said.

Unless it's a deli, schoolbus, shopping mall, pizzeria, bar, or ice cream stand. Then it's only a partial success.

When the Israeli girls talk about understanding someone else and discovering similarities, and the Arab girls "have their opinions" and are "ready to talk about differences," it says a lot about the relative confidence of their cultures.

These kinds of things have been going on for as long as I can remember, along with mushy NPR-speak about "building bridges" and "breaking down barriers." That's all well and good as long as the enemy isn't using them for resupply and cover.

July 26, 2006

Who Is Raeed Tayeh?

Last Friday, the Colorado Muslim Society held a prayer service cum press conference to attack Israel for defending itself, and to defend terrorists and jihadists for attacking Israel. Among the participants was one Raeed (also Raed) Tayeh, apparently representing the Muslim American Society. Here's how the Rocky described Mr. Tayeh:

Raeed Tayeh, who will lead today’s event, is former head of the public relations office of the Muslim American Society, a national civil rights group. He also served as a speechwriter for Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, D-Georgia. His articles have appeared in major newspapers and magazines, and he has been a guest speaker on several radio and television programs including, "The O'Reilly Factor." Tayeh is also the author of "A Muslim's Guide to American Politics and Government."

I glad the reporter from the Rocky knew how to type, so she could transcribe this from the press release word for word. Either that, or she can cut-and-paste with great aplomb, with the same great skill I used to bring it to you.

Harmless enough, "national civil rights group," probably gave Congresscreature McKinney lessons in how to use a cell phone for self-defense (hint: it doesn't seem to involve dialing 9-1-1, you know, the Capitol Police). Sacrificial lamb for O'Reilly.

Turns out he probably wouldn't want to use McKinney as a reference, and not just because she doesn't carry much weight in the part of the world not labeled "Criminally Psychotic." Congressthing McKinney fired him after he wrote a letter to The Hill objecting to some Representatives' support for Israel:

What is more disturbing to me is that many of these pro-Israeli lawmakers sit on the House International Relations Committee despite the obvious conflict of interest that their emotional attachments to Israel cause.

The Israeli occupation of all territories must end, including Congress.

He fancies himself an Arab-American Walt Whitman, as well:

Oh how I dream of that wonderful day, when our flags are raised, and when the marching bands will play. When the young will cheer, and when the old will cry. When the refugees return, and when Zionism will die.

He has prior connections to the Islamic Association for Palestine and the American Muslims for Jerusalem, both tied together by the Holy Land Foundation, an American fundraising arm for Hamas. (He was in town to promote a new "Children Crisis Fund" for Lebanon and the West Bank & Gaza. One guess as to where that money ends up.)

But what of his job with MAS? Well, for one thing, he was dispatched to Cleveland to patch things up between a radical cleric convicted of naturalizatin fraud and his understandably nervous congregants. This same Imam's later conviction of being Jerry Lewis to Islamic Jihad's Suicide Kids doesn't seem to have hurt Tayeh's status any, which should tell you something right there. (It should also tell you something that after said conviction, it took 18 months to start deportation proceedings. That's a year and a half we hosted this bacillus after we knew he had infected us. And they say we're not serious. But I digress.)

Currently, MAS is planning a jihad march on Washington on August 12. Take a look at the co-conspirators, and see if you notice a pattern.

Tayeh would probably say he just wants non-Muslims to understand them better. That's ok, Mr. Tayeh. I think we understand you plenty well. At least, if we don't write for the Rocky.

The deeper concern here is that the Denver Muslim community has developed a recent and disturbing pattern of inviting out-of-state radicals to come speak on political matters. A community with a history of assimilation and getting along is being routinely exposed by its religious leadership to people who want to see me dead.

I understand Nonnie Darwish is going to be in town again on August 6. Maybe they can make some room for her.

July 25, 2006

Luttwak's Realpolitik

Edward Luttwak was one of the great Cold War strategists. His book, Strategy, is still a classic of multi-layed military thinking and analysis. But his strategies revolved around fighting, and since the whole point of the Cold War was to not fight, his strategies were therefore not designed to win. They were designed to deter, to allow the professionals to manage. Ironic, then, that one of the great military strategists was more or less blindsided by Reagan's philosophy of victory, and economic strategy to that end.

"Managing the conflict" is exactly what's gotten Israel into the state that it's in now, giving away land for the promise not to be killed. Well, not today, anyway. And Luttwak, once again, is fighitng the last non-war. In today's Wall Street Journal, Luttwak invites Syria back into Lebanon, this time to tame its own client-militia (Come Back, Bashar).

Then there is the horrible-to-contemplate but irresistibly seductive diplomatic option: to invite the Syrians to disarm Hezbollah and persuade it to follow the political path. Hezbollah already has two ministers in the Lebanese cabinet and might claim more.

Naturally that would imply the recognition of Syrian suzerainty over Lebanon, and of course the thoroughly unworthy Bashar Assad would have to be treated as a leader of regional importance. Only that could tempt Mr. Assad to abandon his alliance with Iran -- along with the important rewards that would come his way more or less spontaneously. These rewards would include gifts from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, all three of which now fear Iran as the most dangerous threat they face; they would also include the approval -- or at least the diminished hostility -- of Syria's Sunni majority, which vehemently dislikes the alliance with Shiite Iran, especially now that the Iranians are supporting Iraq's Shiites in their bloody fight with the Sunnis.

Back to the same game with the same faces, balancing one against the other, and then multiples against the one. Spending time and energy and treasure to stay in the same place. A perfect, realpolitik solution where nothing changes and the diplomats can manage the crises as they arise.

Or, we can disarm Hezbollah ourselves, permit the Lebanese to give democracy a try, relieve the pressure on Israel's north. Perhaps - perhaps - the Syrian generals will ditch Assad and the Iranians, realizing that alliance is a dead end, and then they can come to us on our terms, rather than our trying yet again to go to an Assad on his. At which point, with Iran isolated, we can look for an endgame there as well.

Now tell me, which one do you want to see? Of course you do. Because this time, there is a difference among the Arab players. This time, it's not one faceless dictator against another, but a democracy (Israel) defending itself, and helping to give another (Lebanon's) enough breathing room to make a go of it.

Luttwak's is a little game for little men, and if it's what the Arabs choose for themselves again, we have to let them play it out. Unfortunately, Islamofascism has bigger dreams, and the only way to counter them in the long run is to offer big dreams of your own. It's that component of strategy Luttwak has never seemed to grasp.

July 24, 2006

Lebanese Flypaper

Counterterrorism Blog is reporting that a relatively small number of South Asian fanatics are headed to Lebanon to cash in and collect their virgins (or raisins). This strikes me as a terrible idea, militarily.

Militaries work when they're coordinated and cohesive. These guys have elan oozing out of their pores, but they have no operational history with Hezbollah. They don't know tactics, communications, and God only knows what weaponry they've trained on. Their command of the local dialect has got to be uncertain, and while I don't know very much Arabic, the risk of accidentally forming a circular firing squad in the heat of battle, by mistaking one word for another, has got to be uncomfortably high. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are making the opposite choice, heading north or into Syria, and that probably includes a fair number of Hezbollah leadership. So there's no plan on where to plug these guys into the order of battle.

Israel has found a small number of Hezbollah operatives in the West Bank and Gaza. These guys might effectively take advantage of the relative disorder to infiltrate and conduct suicide missions. But their physical features and their dialect differences will make it hard to hide for very long.

Add Indonesia and Malaysia to the list of governments who are quietly thankful for Israel's doing their heavy lifting.

July 23, 2006

Kazerooni Archives

I mentioned today on Backbone Radio that our local Imam Kazrooni had been chosen to translate a speech by the execrable Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, and promised to link to the sound file and to my attempt to transcribe it. Here's the sound file, and here's the transcription.

If anyone can help out with the missing parts on the transcription, or can provide any corrections to errors I may have made, that would be greatly appreciated.

July 20, 2006

The Company You Keep

Denver's favorite Imam, Ibrahim Kazerooni, translator of Ayatollah Mezbah-Yazdi and now head of the local Episcopal Church's "Ibrahimic Initiative," er, "Abrahamic Initiative," is keeping some interesting company these days. Appearing at a forum in New York, Kazerooni shared the stage with:

The conference featured five guest speakers as well as renowned linguist and author Dr. Noam Chomsky.


...Amy Goodman, host of the nationally syndicated radio show, "DemocracyNow!"

Annas Shallal, a Sunni Iraqi artist who does intra-faith and inter-faith work with different groups, was the first to address the audience. He spoke about the targeted killing and torture of Iraqi civilians by American troops.

Dr. Anisa Abdul-Fattah, an African-American Shi'a activist and scholar, followed Shallal and echoed his sentiments, criticizing the premise of the war, which was to liberate Iraqis from an oppressive dictator. Instead, she said, the Iraqis find themselves in a similar, if not worse, situation.

A Shi'a Iraqi imam from Denver was the third panelist to discuss the current situation in Iraq. Ibrahim Kazerooni was held at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and was tortured by Saddam's troops when he was 15. He added that Abu Ghraib was originally built to accommodate 4,000 inmates and was currently holding close to 16,000 prisoners, who have mostly been picked up randomly and detained without access to legal counsel.

The most passionate talk was given by Salma Yaqoob, a British Sunni Muslim who was the head of the Birmingham, England-based "Stop the War Coalition" and was recently elected to Birmingham's city council. Yaqoob spoke about the stigma and fear that Muslims have of speaking out for political and controversial causes that affect the Muslim community and her own struggle to overcome this.

Last winter, Kazerooni spoke at a panel discussion comparing the warlike passages in the Tanach, the New Testament, and the Koran. Kazerooni's comments were less enlightening than obfuscating, whitewashing the manifest violence done to spread Islam over the centuries. Whether he's being honest, or just too weak to stand up to the radicals among his community, American Muslims need better leaders than this guy.

Stockholm Syndrome

From this morning's Washington Post:

In Sweden, another country with a long history of neutrality, prosecutors last month convened a top-secret closed trial of three terrorism suspects in the southern city of Malmo. Authorities have not identified the suspects or disclosed any evidence. But Swedish media have reported that the arrests were made at the request of British counterterrorism investigators.

Someone tell Justice Ginsberg!

July 19, 2006

Howard Dean Is Right

If the Democrats were in power, we might not be seeing an effective Israeli defanging of Iran's Catspaws-on-the-Med. We'd be seeing much more lethal displays by those catspaws five years from now. They had their chance with these exact players ten years ago.

The Center for Security Policy, at the time:

Rarely has there been a more brazen display of contempt for the President of the United States and his Secretary of State than has been evident over the past few days in Damascus: Hafez Assad kept Warren Christopher waiting for two hours on Tuesday while the Syrian despot met with his old KGB contact, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov. Then Assad declined to meet with Mr. Christopher at all when the Secretary of State returned to Syria on the following day.

While the Syrian did deign to see the United States' top diplomat today, the message conveyed by his earlier conduct was unmistakable: The Clinton-Christopher team's pandering to a ruthless thug -- evident in the twenty pilgrimages Secretary Christopher has made to Damascus since taking over the State Department -- has only served to embolden Assad. Worse yet, if recent experience is any guide, Assad's behavior will likely be met with unjustifiable concessions on the part of the U.S. and its friends (in this case, Israel).


Meanwhile, events in Lebanon over the past fortnight have amply demonstrated the folly of the so-called Middle East "peace process" in which Messrs. Clinton and Christopher -- among many others -- have massively overinvested. Syria's direct complicity in the lethal operations of Hezbollah terrorists, a complicity made manifest by the U.S. shuttle diplomacy to Damascus, proves the error of relying upon one group of Arabs unreconciled to Israel's existence to curb another group. The denunciations of actions taken by Israel in self-defense that have been heard throughout the Arab world also serve to reinforce fears that there has been no real change in the attitudes of those considered to be the Jewish State's erstwhile enemies.

If Secretary Christopher does ultimately broker a cease-fire between Syria and Israel temporarily suspending Hezbollah's terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, its impermanence will be a further reminder of the wisdom of America's traditional support for a free and independent Lebanon. As long as Syria calls the shots (literally) in Lebanon, Hezbollah will be able to resume hostilities at will. As long as Israel believes it can safely "contract-out" its security interests in Lebanon to Hafez Assad, its northern communities will know no peace.

The WSJ is reporting that when Condi Rice goes to the region, it will be to isolate the bad actors, not to put them on life-support. Let's hope she keeps the jet keys in the ignition.

Hezbollah and Arab Democracy

Rich Lowry quotes Tom Friedman as claiming that Hezbollah's war is killing prospects for Arab democracy:

First, Nasrallah has set back the whole fledgling Arab democracy movement. That movement, by the way, was being used by Islamist parties — like Hezbollah and Hamas — to peacefully ascend to power. Hezbollah, for the first time, had two ministers in the Lebanese cabinet. Hamas, through a U.S.-sponsored election, took over the Palestinian Authority. And in both cases, as well as in Iraq, these Islamist parties were allowed to sit in government and maintain their own militias outside.

What both Hamas and Nasrallah have done — by dragging their nations into unnecessary wars with Israel — is to prove that Islamists will not be made more accountable by political power. Just the opposite; not only will they not fix the potholes, they will start wars, whenever they choose, that will lead to even bigger potholes.

Does this mean Hamas and Hezbollah will never get another vote? Of course not. Their followers will always follow. What it does mean is that if the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or Islamists in Jordan or the gulf, had any hopes of taking power through electoral means, they can forget about it. I don't see their governments ever allowing elections that might bring Islamist parties to power, and I don't see the U.S. promoting any more elections in the region, for now. The Arab democracy experiment is on hold — because if Islamist parties can't be trusted to rule, elections can't be trusted to be held.


Friedman seems to assume that once a Hamas voter (or a Muslim Brotherhood voter, or a Hezbollah voter), always so. That a Hamas voter is a Hamas follower. Hasn’t it been accepted (esp. by Friedman himself) that “moderates,” or at least, non-Islamists, have voted for or supported these parties for other reasons, fully expecting them to be domesticated by power. Why wouldn’t these independents then abandon these parties once they see that isn’t happening? And wouldn’t that make Arab elections less risky? (This argues, of course, for holding voters responsible for their choices, not insulating them from those consequences.)

Electoral politics aside, Israel’s goal seems to be to eliminate Hezbollah as an effective fighting force, and permit the Lebanese government – now Democratic – to toss them out of the Cabinet and for the Lebanese army to reassert its authority in the south.

In short, why does this do more damage to Lebanon’s democracy than to Hezbollah?

July 18, 2006

Canada Finds Spine - Globe and Mail Perplexed

The Anglosphere's Northern Front used to be known for more than peacekeeping. It used to be known for peace-making, something it's practicing again with great success in Afghanistan. A decade-plus of Liberal rule pushed much of that history into the old-age home, but now Stephen Harper has decided that it's time for Canada to rejoin the rest of the English-speaking world.

Harper was one of the G-8 countries backing the US in its support of Israel.

Harper, on his first major international foray, hadn't even touched down in Europe before aligning himself firmly with the United States and Israel in the latest conflagration.

"Israel has the right to defend itself," the prime minister told reporters aboard a Canadian Forces Airbus en route to London, where he's starting a week-long diplomatic mission.

"I think Israel's response under the circumstances has been measured."

Naturally, the Canadian MSM (Can-MSM) doesn't get it.

That same pre-G8 summit article quoted above continues:

Harper's unabashed pro-Israel stance, is sure to prove divisive at the G8 summit this weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia, which anchors Harper's first major overseas foray as prime minister.

Russia and France have both criticized Israel for using disproportionate force in its attacks on Lebanon.

So Russia and France find something to agree on other than hemming in Germany, but when Canada takes the opposition position, by definition, it's the one being divisive. To paraphrase a famous politician from south of the 48th parallel, divisiveness in the defense of liberty is no divice.

Naturally, the Canadian Left doesn't quite see it that way:

Canada is in danger of losing its role as a mediator and peacemaker in the Middle East, Liberal Leader Bill Graham said Tuesday. Graham,a former foreign affairs minister, told a Vancouver news conference that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has moved Canada away from its traditional non-aligned stance, and said while he supports Israel's right to defend itself from attack, be believes Canada needs to keep some distance so it can be part of a diplomatic solution to the current Mideast conflict.

"Canada has always had a proud tradition in the Middle East of being able to work with all parties in a way to establish the conditions of a long and lasting peace," Graham said.

I can understand why Graham wouldn't want to abandon a position that's shown such success up until this point, After all, where would we be without Canadian leadership in establishing lasting peace?

"If we act in a way that interferes with our credibility in that respect, we will not be able to be an effective ally of Israel or of Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East where we call have an extraordinary stake."

In other words, if we want to be Israel's ally, we can't really be Israel's ally. The NDP - the "Democratic" being optional - has a similar point of view:

He also said it was "regrettable" that Canada is still in the process of planning the evacuation of Canadian nationals from Lebanon, while a number of other western countries have already begun bringing people out.

NDP Leader Jack Layton echoed Graham’s sentiments, saying his party called for an evacuation to begin Friday and is disappointed with the government’s response so far.

"We’re particularly concerned with the situation facing Canadians in south Lebanon and this has not been adequately addressed," Layton told a news conference in Ottawa.

"The prime minister must insist that Israel provide safe passage for civilians attempting to escape the south and must ensure that evacuation efforts by Canada reach the south," he said.

Well, if the Liberals and the NDP hadn't spent the last 10 years breaking helicopters into subsidized plowshares, Canada might have the lift capacity to do something about its citizens caught in the cross-fire. In the meantime, that last plaintive bleat for Israel to do something - maybe air-drop IFF beacons with little maple leaves on them - is ironic in light of this story:

The IDF has found that Hizbullah is preventing civilians from leaving villages in southern Lebanon. Roadblocks have been set up outside some of the villages to prevent residents from leaving, while in other villages Hizbullah is preventing UN representatives from entering, who are trying to help residents leave. In two villages, exchanges of fire between residents and Hizbullah have broken out.

Seems Hezbollah's hostage-taking skills aren't limited to actual hostages, but extend to most of the civiliam population south of the Litani.

At the moment, the Globe and Mail can't decide whether Prime Minister Harper is guilty of good policy and bad politics, or good politics and bad policy. To the extent that it's catering to the "lower-income" "evangelical Christians" who were foolish enough to vote for him, Harper's policy isn't "nuanced" enough.

Although a more nuanced position might be to suggest that Israel react with more restraint, Mr. Harper almost certainly believes that the more easily understood message is to back the country that reflects the mores of Canadian society.

By doing so, he probably appeals to a portion of the lower-income mainstream that voted for his party earlier this year, say his supporters.

I'm sure the Globe and Mail would be happy for Mr. Harper to nuance himself right out of office on lack of principle, but why is the moral equation of the murderers and the murdered more satisfying to the paper? And note that it's not right to back Israel, just "more easily understood."

But then the Can-MSM, demostrating a lamentable lack of independence from its US brethren, argues that the position it doesn't like isn't even good politics:

One senior Tory believes that Mr. Harper has made a bad calculation.

There are not, for example, enough votes among Canadians of Jewish background to make up for those other voters who are upset with the idea that Canada has given up some of its independence by hewing to the U.S. line.

But to believe that Mr. Harper didn't say what he meant is to ignore several years of evolving conservative ideology.

"I don't think it's positive growth material," said the source. ". . . But this isn't necessarily winning politics. It's sound policy."

Unlike the Globe's article, at least Harper's position and statements have the virtue of coherence. Harper believes in democracy and doesn't believe in genocide. He believes that this is another front in the same war Canada's fighting in Afghanistan, and doesn't believe it's good policy to abandon allies who are doing your heavy lifting for you. He happens to head a party that also believes these things, and has for some time. And he happens to think that a democracy like Canada is more likely to sympathize with another democracy than with theocratic butchers whose ideological cousins just tried to decapitate that country's parliament - literally.

What, exactly, is so hard for the Globe or the Liberals to understand about this?

July 17, 2006

Israel Rally Report

I wasn't able to be there, but from all reports, the rally Sunday evening was a success. We got 1500 people - so many that the main sanctuary couldn't hold them all, and they had to open the doors to include the social hall in the back.

The speeches were, by and large, uncompromising, more concerned with winning than with a false peace, which is a real change in tenor for some of the speakers involved.

The Rocky's report this morning was fairly accurate as far as the rally went, and fairly negligent in terms of the local Muslim response.

Mohammad Noorzai, executive director of the Colorado Muslim Council, cautioned Sunday against a herd mentality that supports any one side in the conflict.

"If everyone sticks with their own clan - no matter what they do - we'll never get anywhere," he said.

Noorzai said the vastly stronger Israeli military should "restrain itself" and make a concerted effort to stop killing and hurting Lebanese civilians who have nothing to do with the conflict.

Armando Elkhoury, a native of Lebanon and pastor of St. Rafka's Maronite Catholic Church in Englewood, faulted both sides.

""What Hezbollah did is not acceptable: crossing into Israel and attacking Israelis."

But Elkhoury criticized Israeli military leaders as well.

"The response by Israel is disproportionate," he said. "They've taken a whole country hostage."

Now, Noorzai may have said something like, "Hezbollah needs to disarms and place itself under the control of the Lebanese government that it's joined. Coordinated rocket artillery barrages and kidnappings against a country that's not occupying any Lebanese territory doesn't help matters. Hezbollah needs to realize that Jews have a right to their own country, too. If everyone sticks with their own clan - no matter what they do - we'll never get anywhere."

But I don't think so.

In the meantime, the Rocky completely fails to mention that Hezbollah has been using private patios as rocket launching pads, and that the Israelis have been dropping leaflets trying to get civilians to move the hell out the way. And of course, there's no contrast with Katushyas and other rockets that are only good for hitting cities and killing civilians.

July 14, 2006

Israel Solidarity Rally

This Sunday, at the BMH-BJ Congregation here in Denver, there's going to be an Israel Solidarity Rally, organized by the local Jewish community. The rally will be 6:30-7:30 pm, and the shul is located at 560 South Monaco Pkwy.

I'm not going to go on about how important it is to be there, since you already know that. I will point out that there's plenty of room, and plenty of parking. (Not only do the synagogue and GW High School have large lots, it's right across the street from my house; if those lots get filled up, I have two spots in my driveway, and I won't charge. Or at least, not very much.)

I'm going to be on air with John Andrews, but I'll be looking for pictures, so if anyone has a camera, feel free to send them to me, and I'll be happy to post them.

OK, I lied. Guys, it's game on now. This is serious business, with Haifa and now a ship getting hit. The Air Force is, ah, preparing the battlefield, as they say, but eventually it's going to take boots on the ground to play Orkin Man to Hezbollah's cockroaches. We need to make sure that Israel has the time it needs to do the job it needs to do.

Be there.

Palestinians Enter Gaza From Egypt


Hundreds of people poured into the Gaza Strip from Egypt on Friday after Palestinians blew a hole in the border wall separating the two places, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.

People carrying suitcases crossed into Gaza through the hole. Some walked through on crutches, others ran and walked.

The border has largely been closed since June 25 when Palestinian militants carried out a cross-border raid on a military outpost, killing two Israeli soldiers and capturing one. Hundreds of people have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the border, unable to get to their homes in Gaza.

(Hat Tip: Pajamas Media)

Gee, how much you want to bet that some of those suitcases contained dinars, riyals, shekels, dollars, and whatever the Palestinians are using for cash these days - seashells, maybe?

This seems to happen with some regularity, reinforcing the impression that Egypt's border patrol has been taking lesson from ICE. Or maybe, they're just carrying on their tradition to aiding whatever enemy of Israel happens to be most useful.

The Palestinian government is cash-poor but HX rich, so this would have been a fairly simple thing to orchestrate. I'm not certain what the Egyptian side of the border looks like - it looks as though Rafah may be a divided city -, but it still seems unlikely that this was, "spontaneous."

UPDATE: On the other hand, makes you wonder why they just didn't use the tunnels.

July 13, 2006

Iraqi Parliament Speaker Blames the Jews

The Iraqi Parliament speaker has decided that the US and "the Jews," are conspiring to keep Iraq under US control:

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani hinted that the Americans and Israelis did not want to see officials of Sunni and Shi'ite parties running the country because "this is not their agenda."

"They will say that we brought you in a democratic way to the government but you are sectarian people. One of you is killing the other and you don't deserve to become leaders because you are war lords," al-Mashhadani told reporters after a parliament meeting.

Al-Mashhadani is a member of the Sunni Muslim Iraqi Accordance Front while Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a member of the Shi'ite Dawa party.

"Some people say 'we saw you beheading, kidnappings and killing. In the end we even started kidnapping women who are our honor,"' al-Mashhadani said. "These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew."

"I can tell you about these Jewish, Israelis and Zionists who are using Iraqi money and oil to frustrate the Islamic movement in Iraq and come with the agent and cheap project."

"No one deserves to rule Iraq other than Islamists," he said.

Emphasis added, of course.

Some were hoping that the Sunni decision to join the political process meant that they were committed to that process. Apparently they, like Mookie al-Sadr on the other side, joined it in order to hijack it for their own ends. (This is also the logical conclusion of not insisting that Iraq be Israel-friendly from the beginning.)

The notion that Islamists - Sunni or Shiite - were going to join the government, and then, having gotten comfortable with "the process," were going to abandon religious fanatacism in favor of budget earmarks was naive beyond belief. Now, the wolf is in the fold. We can't leave, because we can't let the Islamists run the country. We can't throw this monster and his whole party in Abu Ghraib, because they part of the Legitimately-Elected-Government-Of-Iraq.

This isn't some backbencher looking for a headline. This is the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, people.

July 5, 2006

Barry McCaffrey, Meet Bill Roggio

In this morning's Washington Times, Arnaud de Borchgrave summarizes an interview with former Clinton Administration Drug Czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey:

Three years ago the Taliban operated in squad sized units. Last year they operated in company sized units (100 or more men). This year the Taliban are operating in battalion-sized units (400-plus men). So reported retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, professor of international affairs at West Point, after his second trip to Afghanistan to assess the balance of forces.

The former Clinton administration drug czar and commander of the 24th Infantry Division in the Gulf war, Gen. McCaffrey concluded that in the last three years, Taliban has reconstituted the obscurantist movement that took Afghanistan back to the Middle Ages in the 1990s. "They are brutalizing the population," said the general's written report, "and they are now conducting a summer-fall campaign to knock NATO out of the war, capture the provincial capital of Kandahar, isolate the Americans, stop the developing Afghan educational system, stop the liberation of women, and penetrate the new police force and Afghan National Army (ANA)."

Taliban now have "excellent weapons" and "new field equipment" -- prized by the equipment-poor ANA -- and "new IED [improvised explosive devices] technology and commercial communications," Gen. McCaffrey said. "They appear to have received excellent tactical, camouflage and marksmanship training," and "they are very aggressive and smart in their tactics."

"The Afghan Army is miserably underresourced," the report concluded. "This is now a major morale factor for their soldiers. They have shoddy small arms -- described by Defense Minister [Abdul Rahim] Wardak as much worse than he had as a Mujahideen fighting the Soviets 20 years ago.

Contrast that rather gloomy report with Bill Roggio's observations from the front lines:

- The Taliban is unable to stand up against the Western militaries when they attempt to mass in large formations (100 to 300 fighters, equivalent to company or battalion sized units). Their advantage is they know the local terrain far better than the Coalition forces....

The levels of effectiveness of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police varies from unit to unit. The Canadian soldiers trust the army units, but are very wary of police units. Corruption is a major problem with local police formations, as is drug usage (this is also a problem within the Taliban). The ANA and ANP are often poorly armed and trained. But to a man, the Canadian soldiers are impressed with their enthusiasm and courage once a fight breaks out...

The Taliban's weapons are not as sophisticated as the media reports would lead you to believe. Their primary weapons are AK-47 assault rifles and RPG-7s (the old variant of the RPG). Rarely are mortars brought to bear on the battlefield. ... Roadside bombs (IEDs), while a threat, have yet to reach either the sophistication or intensity in deployment as they have in Iraq.

The strength of the Taliban lies in their ability to blend in with the local population, and intimidate or coerce the local population when they must. There are small pockets of Taliban safe havens in southeastern Afghanistan. The increase in airstrikes is related to striking at targets of opportunity and the increased operational tempo to weaken the Taliban prior to ISAF (the International Security Assistance Force, the NATO mission) takes command of the region by the end of the summer.

Roggio spent a few weeks embedded with the Canadians in southeastern Afghanistan, and has more to say about the fighting here, here, and here.

While Roggio and McCaffrey agree that the Taliban are now a Pakistan-based operation, the tenor of their reports is completely different. McCaffrey claims the Taliban operate in battalion-sized units. But Roggio reports that every time they try this, they get killed by the hundreds. McCaffrey reports sophisticated IEDs. Roggio doesn't report seeing any. McCaffrey doesn't seem to have a very high opinion of the NATO troops holding things down in the south. Roggio gives the Canadians there a very good report.

Weekly reports of substantial Taliban deaths and injuries, sustained in firefights that rarely take NATO or US life, would seem to support his take on things. If the Taliban are fighting an offensive to drive NATO out of Kandahar using such tactics, their success will be as delayed as the fearsome Afghan winter.

And McCaffrey's report is internally inconsistent. A summer/fall offensive that could dislodge the Americans from Kandahar would hardly be the tactic of choice for someone seeking to wait us out. (After 2001/02, do they still not think we can operate in the winter over there?) It would seem to require a great deal more operational capability than Roggio is reporting that he's seeing. Unless the Taliban are merely throwing thousands of their men down the disposal unit in order to ferret out NATO tactics.

The point here isn't that McCaffrey doesn't know what he's talking about. McCaffrey's an experienced military man, who fought in the first Gulf War against Saddam. But militaries almost always overestimate the enemy and underestimate our allies. It's good, sound, conservative thinking that keeps your men from getting killed. But it can also lead you to overcommit resources and move with undue caution, costing you opportunities.

Suppose we took Gen. McCaffrey's advice, and suppose we took it retroactively. Suppose we had committed 100,000 men to Afghanistan. What would that have accomplished? We still couldn't pursue them over the border into Pakistan, a border that the Pakistani government takes seriously with regard to our operations, even if the Pushtun don't. We wouldn't control Afghanistan any more firmly than we do now; we'd have a higher profile, possibly alienating the local Afghans.

In the meantime, Saddam would have gotten his bought-and-paid-for friends on the Security Council to remove the sanctions regime, he'd be back to manufacturing WMDs, possibly handing them out to non-state actors, and threatening worse if we didn't let him have the southern and northern thirds of his country back to practice on. We'd be too "tied down" in Afghanistan to respond, and we'd no doubt be hearing about our mistaken "quagmire" in Afghanistan that could have been averted with more subtle diplomacy.

Like, you know, getting the Europeans to help us track bank transactions.

June 29, 2006

The Washington Post Goes Litigator

My friend Peter Baker is following the President around on the campaign trail. This morning's report from a Missouri fundraiser for Senator Jim Talent contains this technically accurate but deeply dishonest paragraph:

Sharpening his rhetoric as the midterm congressional campaign season accelerates, Bush offered a robust defense of his decision to invade Iraq even though, ultimately, no weapons of mass destruction were found, and drew standing ovations for his attacks on those who question his leadership of the war or the fight against terrorists.

The only merit in this sentence is that it so neatly encapsulates the MSM's storyline on Iraq and the politics surrounding it. And the only thing that allows the Post to publish something like this without abject shame is their years-long ostrich-like refusal to publish anything that doesn't fit.

Saying that, "Bush offered a robust defense of his decision to invade Iraq even though, ultimately, no weapons of mass destruction were found," is like saying that, in 1778, Washington defended the Revolution even though there was trade with Mexico, meaning that George III hadn't quite, "cut off trade with all parts of the world."

Never mind that they have been found. Never mind that the WMDs were merely one reason for going to war in the first place. Never mind Iraq's running a pre-war bed-and-breakfast for Islamist terrorists. Never mind the Duelfer Report's findings that Saddam was planning to restart his WMD production after his hos on the Security Council got sanctions lifted. The war was all about WMDs, and the fact that we haven't found Castle Anthrax makes it a failure.

The second half of the sentence is no better. The President takes hits all the time for his "leadership of the war." What he's objecting to here is something very specific - the attempt by politicians to run the war by PERT chart, or at least to score points by appearing to try to do so.

The Post is trying to narrow the focus of the war to a point it can pretend it's won, while broadening the President's presumed response into Ray Bolger.

And no Post political story about the President would be complete without the obligatory Bush-as-Rove's-sock-puppet reference:

In his appearance in this St. Louis suburb, he said directly that some Democrats want to surrender, adopting the more cutting approach of his senior political adviser, Karl Rove.

The fact that this is exactly the take that Congressional Republicans, in one of their few recent moments of lucidity, used exactly the same language is of no moment whatsoever. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

This is how the MSM and the Post will make use of the narrative they've established.

June 27, 2006

The Senate Dems' Campaign and National Security

This DSCC fundraising email nominally comes from Al Gore:

The evidence now makes it hard to avoid the conclusion that George Bush has repeatedly and insistently broken the law and the corrupt Republican Congress has shirked its constitutional duty to hold him to account.

In my view, a president who breaks the law poses a threat to the very foundation of our democracy. As Americans with a stake in the future of our country, we must act quickly and decisively. We have less than five months to win the six seats we need to control the Senate -- and pull our country back from the brink of a constitutional crisis.

"In my view, a president who breaks the law poses a threat to the very foundation of our democracy." He may actually believe this. After all, had any Senate Democrat decided to hold the previous President to this standard, Gore might have had the advantages of incumbency without the disadvantages of guilt by association. He probably wouldn't have even needed to campaign in Tennessee.

This email came out several days after the NYT handed over the details of another intelligence program to our enemies. The fact that "the evidence now makes it hard, blah blah blah" would seem to be an indirect reference to the SWIFT program. That absolutely no evidence - not even in the pages of the Times - has been presented to suggest any illegality or abuse in that program, ah, inconveniences him here as little as elsewhere.

Not one Senate Democrat has called for the discontinuation of any of the Big Three: international surveillance, phone call data mining, or financial transaction analysis. The Senate Dems, at least those in leadership, want the political gain of appearing to defend civil rights while realizing that they'll want those programs at their disposal should they gain power. Yet this doesn't stop the DSCC from sending out fundraising emails like this one all but threatening impeachment.

Of course, the notion of an impending Constitutional crisis is ridiculous. The courts are perfectly capable of resolving the legality of these programs, and there's never been even the hint of a suggestion that the Administration is interested in pulling an Andrew Jackson, or even an FDR (to name two Democratic Presidents) on the courts. Gore certainly has some experience in this area, as The closest we've come to a Constitutional crisis in the last 30+ years is the one perpetrated by him and his friend on the Florida Supreme Court.

It's almost enough to make you think they knew Gen. Casey would be briefing the President on a troop draw-down when they proposed one of their own.

June 23, 2006

Worse Than Toxic Waste

Glenn Reynolds argues that telling the terrorists about intelligence programs is like profiting from dumping toxic waste in the river.

I disagree.

I think it's like selling the Soviets the plans for the hydrogen bomb.

These newspapers don't just go after companies who commit fraud or who poison our kids for a fast buck. They're the ones who've been chanting Halliburton-Halliburton-Halliburton as the reason why Dick Cheney took us to war. They're the ones who've screamed from the rooftops about $(fill in alarmist and armageddon-like number here) Air Force toilet seats and hammers. They're the ones who suggest that if we hadn't gone to war in Iraq, we wouldn't have brush fires out west from SunTeXXonMobil-induced climate change.

But faced with a chance to rescue his buggy-whip business model for another week, Pinch Sulzberger will gladly do more damage to his city's safety than all the Homeland Security Budget formulas laid end-to-end.

Maybe Eason Jordan really has convinced Bill Keller than George Bush is trying to kill him.

Former Spook Calls It

In From the Cold had this to say about the MSM's treatment of the chemical and biological shells found in Iraq:

The MSM--if it ever gets around to this story--will likely claim that Santorum and Hoekstra are playing politics with intelligence.

From this morning's Washington Post (buried on Page A10):

The intelligence officials also suggested that they were pressured by Hoekstra into declassifying the study in recent weeks. Hoekstra first sought its release June 15 and June 19 and made the request again giving John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, 48 hours to declassify it, according to a senior intelligence official.

In From the Cold does what the Post declines to - describes the way intelligence now operates that makes such pressure necessary:

As a young intelligence officer, I was drilled that important information should make its way up the chain of command as soon as possible. Apparently, things have changed since I left the business. Information that contradicts prevailing judgements can be ignored, or simply buried on an intelligence website--let the customer find out on his own. If members of Congress want information, simply delay your response as long as possible, and provide data only when someone with enough horsepower (in this case, the HPSCI chairman) demands answers. Then, provide only a fraction of what they ask for.

June 10, 2006

Air America on Zarqawi

Well, some people may be quietly pleased, but here at the Sharf household, it was toasts and cheers when we heard he had gone to the Big Dirt Nap. And more satisfaction on hearing the news that he was conscious and aware that the Americans had gotten him. Apparently, some Iraqi neighbor is claiming that he saw Americans beating the crap out of Zarqawi after they pulled him from the rubble. We can only hope.

Driving home on Friday evening, with the local ESPN affiliate off the air for some technical reason, it was a choice between Randi Rhodes and Michael Savage. Ms. Rhodes - and boy, is that one angry woman or what? - spent one segment equating Zarqawi with Tom DeLay, and another segment comparing him favorably to the President.

During that last segment, she made a point of dragging out quotes from Michael Berg, Nick Berg's father, and explaining how terrible it was that Michael was being demonized for being "truly religious" in his attitude towards Zarqawi's timely demise. After all, Michael Berg realizes that revenge killings only perpetuate the endless cycle of violence, and the "peace movement" is all about ending war. In doing so, she sounded almost genuinely sorry that Zarqawi had been killed by American bombs.

Randi Rhodes is an idiot. Michael Berg simply lacks the ability to forgive Zarqawi.

While Michael Berg may be forgiven for believing otherwise, this wasn't only about Nick Berg's beheading. Nick Berg's beheading is referred to in order to show what kind of monster Zarqawi was; it's not shown as the only crime the man was guilty of. Zarqawi was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and of quite possibly over 100 American troops, not to mention thousands of casualties. The only man who can forgive him Nicholas Berg's murder is dead, and in any case, there are thousands of others with equal moral standing who are not in quite so forgiving a mood.

One last point. While it's important for the military to recognize and adjust based on who the informants were, it's not necessary or desirable for you and me to know. Almost any scenario is a good one, because almost any scenario indicates weaknesses - political and military - we're now able to exploit.

So let's raise a glass to Zarqawi's End. As our favorite commercial would ask, "How in the netherworld are you, anyway?"

June 6, 2006

Nineteen and Islam

Or, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the 20th Hijacker"

Apparently, the number 19 has some significance in Islam. Scroll down to Verse 30.

30 Above it are nineteen.

31 We have appointed only angels to be wardens of the Fire, and their number have We made to be a stumbling-block for those who disbelieve; that those to whom the Scripture hath been given may have certainty, and that believers may increase in faith; and that those to whom the Scripture hath been given and believers may not doubt; and that those in whose hearts there is disease, and disbelievers, may say: What meaneth Allah by this similitude ? Thus Allah sendeth astray whom He will, and whom He will He guideth. None knoweth the hosts of thy Lord save Him. This is naught else than a Reminder unto mortals.

The problem is, nobody can quite agree what this means, or even if it's very important. Some say that it's the number of Angels Guarding Hell. Some say that it's the number that signifies the Unbeliever (that'd be you and me). Some people go completely 'round the bend and write application letters to succeed Martin Gardner. Loius Farrakhan, who at least thinks he's Muslim, went on a little 19-based riff during his 400,000-Man March speech a few years back.

I'm sure that Salafists and Wahabbists probably have violent late-night Hooka fueled bull-sessions about the importance of the Number 19, at least until the Hanafis barge in and declare them all infidels. Long, mystical, Qat-enahanced tracts probably exist holding forth on this mystery.

Me, I'm guessing scribal error. Squiggle the thing the other way and it probably means, "Snack Bar."

The point isn't who's right. It's that 19 seems to hold an important place in Islam, like 613 in Judaism. It wouldn't suprise me at all to learn that there was no 20th hijacker, because Osama was trying to send a message, the same way the Ahmedinejad was with his letter. Roughly translated as, "Convert, or Die and Be Condemned to Hell." It's only our Western sense of symmetry that makes us assume that someone got caught in traffic on the way to Newark that day, leading us to spend a lot of time worry about the Missing Murderer.

Theodore Dalrymple Squares the Circle

In his review of Efraim Karsh's Islamic Imperialism: A History, Dalrymple explains how peaceful Muslims can inhabit a violently expanding religion:

But the fact that many Muslims are not fanatics is not as comforting as some might think. Consider, by way of illustration, Eric Hobsbawm, the famous, much feted, and unrepentantly Marxist historian. No one would feel personally threatened by him at a social gathering, where he would be amusing, polite, charming, and accomplished; if you had him to dinner, you wouldn’t have to count the spoons afterward, even though he theoretically opposes the idea of private wealth. In short, there would be no reason to suspect that he was about to commit a common crime against you. In this sense, he is what one might call a moderate Marxist.

But Hobsbawm has stated quite openly that, had the Soviet Union managed to create a functioning and prosperous socialist society, 20 million deaths would have been a worthwhile price to pay; and since he didn’t recognize, even partially, that the Soviet Union was not in fact on the path to such a society until many years after it had murdered 20 million of its people (if not more), it is fair to assume that, if things had turned out another way in his own country, Hobsbawm would have applauded, justified, and perhaps even instigated the murders of the very people to whom he was now, under the current dispensation, being amusing, charming, and polite. In other words, what saved Hobsbawm from committing utter evil was not his own scruples or ratiocination, and certainly not the doctrine he espoused, but the force of historical circumstance. His current moderation would have counted for nothing if world events had been different.

June 1, 2006

They've Gone Too Far

Powerline notes that the Palestinian Media Watch has collected Palestinian cartoon portrayals of the Statue of Liberty as everything from a suicide terrorist to a prostitite. The latest atrocity, worthy no doubt of an angry mob burning Palestinian flags and reducing Hamas-sympathetic mosques to rubble, is that of a Palestinian boy peeing on Lady Liberty, on the book she holds.

Some of these are terrible, although I'm sure the Left will sympathize with the one of her being led off in chains by the FBI & CIA, since it's one they could have drawn themselves.

But the one showing a dead Spiderman simply goes too far!

May 28, 2006

Let Ahmedinejad Come

Come to the World Cup, in Germany. Where Holocaust denial is a crime.

And then arrest him, and make sure that he's given every full time-consuming measure of due process.

The Iranians like extra-territoriality? Good, we'll give them some extra-territoriality.

That should give him plenty of time to consider "negotiations."

May 22, 2006

John Howard at the White House

In a story that rated Page 4 coverage by the Washington Post, President Bush welcomed Australian Prime Minister John Howard to the White House for state dinner. I'll leave the discussion of Peter Baker's, um, "report," to my Newsbusters entry. For the moment, thought, it's worth quoting the redoubtable Mr. Howard, with emphasis added:

We remain a steadfast ally of the United States in the war against terror. I've made that clear on every occasion I've spoken here in the United States. The war against terror will go on for a long time; I think we have to accept that. Progress is being made. The challenge remains very, very strong and there needs to be a continued commitment. And we admire and respect the leadership given by you and by the United States in that war. And it's a war that confronts us all. Those who imagine that somehow or other you can escape it by rolling yourself into a little ball and going over in the corner and hoping that you're not going to be noticed are doomed to be very, very uncomfortably disappointed.

We did have an opportunity to talk extensively about some of the challenges in our immediate region. And I spoke about the situation in East Timor and the Solomon Islands, and the importance of the role of Indonesia. The symbolism and also the practical consequence of Indonesia being the largest Islamic country in the world, and, therefore, the success and prosperity of moderate Islamic leadership in that country is itself a very important factor in the long-term success of the fight against terrorism, because the fight against terrorism is not only a military and physical one, it is also an intellectual one. And it's a question of providing within the Islamic world a successful democratic model as an alternative to the fanaticism of those who would have seemly invoked the sanction of Islam to justify what they seek to do.

Can I finally say that the many ties that bind Australia and the United States, as I said on the lawn earlier today, and none are more important, of course, than the shared values and the beliefs that both of our countries have that the spread of democracy around the world is an important goal and an important responsibility. It's been a privilege for our two peoples to enjoy democracy in an uninterrupted fashion for so long, that we tend to take it for granted. And we forget its liberating impact on those who taste and experience it for the first time. And both of our societies have a responsibility in expanding the opportunities for democracy, and that, of course, lies very much at the heart of much of what our two societies do.

The domestic press then proceeded to ask questions about immigration and the NSA.

Thanks to reader Danny Reichwald for point this out to me.

May 18, 2006

More Historical Echoes

There's not a better popular history of the run-up to the Civil War than Bruce Catton's The Coming Fury.

In it, he describes the considerable pro-Union sentiment that existed in the South, even as its political leaders, having engineered secession, prepared to defend it via the Confederacy. The North, including Lincoln, continued to delude itself that these pro-Union Southerners wouldn't let it come to blows. But when it came to blows, even Unionists in Virginia and North Carolina, states that hadn't formally seceded yet, sided with the secessionists.

One of the arguments against attacking Iran is the presence of considerable pro-Western, pro-Democracy, pro-American sentiment. The fear is that war would alienate these people, and that fear may well be correct.

But in order to justify doing nothing, that fear has to be coupled with the hope that those people will organize and defeat the mullahs.

During the election, and indeed, until his inauguration, Lincoln made the mistake of not talking about slavery, on the grounds that whatever he said would be twisted by malicious editors. (Hmmm.) But they simply repeated their claims that he would immediately push for universal emancipations, demoralizing Unionists and animating secessionists.

This administration has seemingly been unwilling to aid the Iranian opposition for fear of making them look like tools of the United States. This has had the effect of demoralizing them, animating the mullahs, and hasn't stopped the mullahs from waging war on their own population to stay in power, anyway.

Look, I take second place to nobody in my desire to see the mullahs doing a collective Mussolini impersonation in the public square. But it's not going to happen on its own.

May 15, 2006

"Bold Incentives"

European Union foreign ministers will propose a "bold package" of incentives to Iran, possibly including security guarantees, if Teheran accepts international oversight of its civilian nuclear program to make sure it is not used to produce weapons, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Monday.

Among the incentives being discussed are France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and an option on a "substantial fraction" of greater London.

Said Solana, "We believe that the future of the continent is a small price to pay for the right to pretend that we are not being threatened with nuclear extinction."

Iranian President Ahmedinejad replied in the negative. "The voices in the well have told me to reject this offer. Why should we pretend to be under UN supervision, when we will already have the territory of which they speak in but a few short years? It is a typical Westen negotiating ploy, trying to re-sell the same goods over and over for more and more concessions."

A woman who identified herself as German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared, "I am here today, wearing this burka, as a symbol of what Europe can become, if only we have the will to accept this wise and far-sighted policy."

Mr. Bush's Reply

Mr. President Ahmedinejad,


President George W. Bush

May 12, 2006

Qwest For a Defense

The Denver Post reports that among Joe Nacchio's other problems, he was the first Qwest CEO to refuse to help the NSA analyze phone records in the pursuit & deconstruction of terrorist networks. Even as,

"This is a case where (Qwest) showed some independence and courage," said Phil Weiser, a University of Colorado law professor who specializes in telecommunications issues.


In 2002 he chaired the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, a group of industry executives who advised President Bush. He also chaired the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council, an advisory panel on emergency communications networks and homeland security to the Federal Communications Commission.

Powerline has already noted that Qwest's independence and courage ended where its business relationships began:

As a general rule, Qwest does not release customer account information to unaffiliated third parties without your permission unless we have a business relationship with those companies where the disclosure is appropriate."

The Post quotes the Qwest Privacy Policy on the matter of aiding law enforcement, ignoring the question of sharing the information with other businesses.

At the same time, the Post, assuming incorrectly that the rest of the country is as outraged as its newsroom is at these shocking, five-month-old revelations, claims that:

The news report casts Nacchio in a more positive light than he has received since departing the company amid an accounting scandal and falling stock price in mid-2002.


His fight with the NSA could improve Nacchio's image in Denver, where his own lawyers concede he is "reviled." They are seeking a change of venue for his trial.

Note the assumption that this relevation is "positive." Also note that apparent the DenPo didn't get a chance to read the WaPo before going to press:

The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it.

A slightly larger majority--66 percent--said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made, the poll found.

Also, I can't find this disclaimer at the bottom of any other overnight polls the WaPo has done:

The practical difficulties of doing a survey in a single night represents another potential source of error.

Qwest: We Put The "W" in Qwality

May 11, 2006


Because of Qwest's non-cooperation on the little matter of not getting us killed, I'm going to start looking around for other local phone service. Frankly, given cell phone rates, I'm not ever sure why we still have a land line.

May 10, 2006

AP and Reuters: It's Israel's Fault

In an ironic twist of Sophoclean proportions, an Israeli company has cut off - get this - gasoline supplies to the Iranian-funded Palestinian territories for non-payment of bills:

An end to fuel supplies could cripple hospitals, halt food deliveries and keep people home from work - a devastating scenario for an economy already ravaged by Israeli and international sanctions.

Right. The "economy" has been "ravaged" by Israeli sanctions. It's nothing whatever to do with the fact that Arafat and his friends - and that includes the current President, the Holocaust-denying, walking Hamas assassination target, Mahmoud Abbas - have spent the last fifteen years shipping everything that's not nailed down (and if they can pry it loose, it's not nailed down) out of the country. Which, as of the last AP report, was the reason that Hamas got elected in the first place, not their hostility to Israel, if you remember.

In Nablus, a line of taxi drivers said they had stopped working because they had no fuel. One driver, Mahmoud Tourabi, said he would try to drive to a nearby Jewish settlement in hopes of filling his tank.

``They may kill me there, so I will be the martyr of the gas,'' he quipped.

Oh, that Mahmoud! What a card! Why hasn't he quit his day job yet? But seriously folks, when was the last time you heard of an Israeli crowd torching Arab cars?

Asaf Shariv, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said Israel would ``absolutely not'' bail out the Palestinians in this case. Dor has threatened to cut off supplies twice before this year - only to be paid at the last minute by the Palestinians.

This will be important in a moment, as we examine the Reuters-fueled Washington Post version of events:

The fuel shortage, caused by a cash liquidity crunch, threatened to worsen an economic crisis that began when Western countries froze aid and cut most diplomatic ties after the Islamic militant group Hamas came to power in March.

So this has happened before. The crisis didn't just suddenly descend from the skies. What Reuters stringer Mohammed Assadi (now there's a surprise!) forgets is that while the current - er, liquidity crunch - is a result of sanctions, there's a gigantic difference between a government solvency crisis and an economic mess. Governments all over the US, including the one in Washington (and no, I don't mean the one Formerly Known as Marion Barry's Glorious Patronage and Coke Machine) shut down all the time over budget disputes, and it doesn't bring the economy to its knees.

The real problem here, the reason that taxi-driver Mahmoud is contemplating suicide by buying gas from Jews, is that the Palestinian Authority has no business being the fuel supplier for whatever remains of the "private" economy in a state consciously patterned after Stalin. It only does this so they get a couple of more chances to skim the scum off the top of the barrel on the way to the pumps.

Naturally, no Reuters piece would be complete without a discussion of how Hamas's intentions are good, please don't let them be misunderstood:

Hamas, winner of a January parliamentary election, is formally sworn to destroy Israel although it has largely abided by a truce for over a year.

Oh, those pesky formalities. It's not as though every paragraph in the Hamas charter refers to Israel's destruction, or anything like that, as though Hamas's entire reason for being were the takover of everything between the Jordan and the Med.

Aside from that. I suppose that the sentence is accurate, if by "largely," you mean "except for the daily cross-border Kassam rocket attacks, and the daily dispatching of suicide bombers to the Green Line like a game of 'Red Rover,' which, incidentally, many of the would-be martyrs are young enough to be playing during recess."

Ironic for Reuters, then, that as the US and Israel buckle to international pressure to fund Hamas's recruiting activities, no doubt to prevent them from becoming radicalized from their association with Iran, that:

Hamas's political chief in exile, Khaled Mashaal, while on a visit to Qatar on Wednesday, asked "Hamas supporters throughout the world, as well as Arab states, to send weapons, fighters and money to the Palestinian Authority."

And to think that in our day, it was only "lawyers, guns, and money."

May 8, 2006

Cell-Phone Replay

If Carter-appointee Judge Harry T. Edwards has his way, soon terrorists will have another surveillance-free avenue of communication:

A federal appeals court on Friday challenged the Federal Communications Commission's rules making it easier for law-enforcement authorities to wiretap Internet phone calls. One judge called the government's arguments "gobbledygook."


Judge Edwards appeared skeptical over the FCC's decision to require that providers of Internet phone service and broadband services ensure their equipment can accommodate police wiretaps under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. The rules go into effect in May 2007.

Critics said the FCC rules are too broad and inconsistent with Congress's intent in passing the 1994 surveillance law, which excluded categories of companies described as information services.

At issue is VOIP, which, given Vonage's "Don't Try This At Home" ad campaign, is particularly appropriate. The FCC has probably over-reached in trying to subject all broadband traffic to the 1994 law, but case law frequently develops by analogy. Senate Democrats (and a couple of Republicans, as well) seem bound and determined to grandstand over terrorist's rights to disposable cell-phones. Now, unless Judges Sentelle and Brown are willing to stand up to Edwards, whole new vistas of ineffective, out-of-date warranting procedures will open up to people trying to kill us.

May 7, 2006

Parachute Packers

I flew out of Denver last Thursday evening. It's now clear that United 93 isn't too early but perhaps, like almost every other effort by this legally and psychologically hamstrung country in defending itself, tragically too late.

Airport Homeland Security had 10 people on duty at 12:00 midnight, possibly 4 of whom were working. It's taken less than 5 years for HS to devolve into a petty, turf-grabbing, bureaucratic nightmare staffed by unmotivated time-stamping paycheck-cashers, performing mind-numbing yet time-consuming perfunctory tasks designed to keep up the eternal appareance of vigilance, which as we know, is the price of coffee at 12:30 in the morning.

It's almost enough to make me want to go to work for ICE so I can start asking these guys for their work papers and entry visas.

I know I've seen this idea before, but maybe they should be made passengers on randomly-selected flights, just to test out their handiwork.

May 3, 2006

Parole Bored

Hugh just pointed out to a caller that Moussaoui, like at least one other famous criminal, will continue to come up for parole every three years, absorbing our attention for the brief time it takes to send him back to the clink.

I guess that means that we've pinned the Sirhan Rap on him.

May 1, 2006

Bernard Lewis - Sage

Don't miss this morning's tribute to Bernard Lewis from Fouad Ajami in the Wall Street Journal. I have almost every book that Lewis has written, and have read almost all of them. The clarity of his thinking comes through in the clarity of his writing, unlike the muddled, self-serving tracts by critics such as Edward Said.

It was vintage Lewis--reading the sources, in this case a marginal Arabic newspaper published out of London, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, in February of 1998--to come across a declaration of war on the United States by a self-designated holy warrior he had "never heard of," Osama bin Laden. In one of those essays that reveal the historian's eye for things that matter, "A License to Kill," Mr. Lewis would render into sublime English prose the declaration of bin Laden and would give it its exegesis. The historian might have never heard of bin Laden, but the terrorist from Arabia practically walks out of the pages of Mr. Lewis's own histories.


In the American academy, he may be swimming against the currents of postmodernism and postcolonial history; he has given up his membership in the Middle East Studies Association, of which he had been a founding member. But countless Arab and Iranian and Turkish readers recognize their tormented civilization in what he has written. They know that he has not come to the material of their history driven by bad faith, or by a desire for dominion. They take him at his word, a man of the Anglo-Saxon world, convinced that the ways of the West today carry with them the hopes of other civilizations. In one of his many splendid books, "Cultures in Conflict: Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Age of Discovery," he gave voice to both his fears and to his faith. "It may be that Western culture will indeed go: The lack of conviction of many of those who should be its defenders and the passionate intensity of its accusers may well join to complete its destruction. But if it does go, the men and women of all the continents will thereby be impoverished and endangered."

April 26, 2006

The Last Der Fuehrer's Face Post

It turns out the movie is online. Apparently, it won the 1942 Academy Award for Best Short Subject. (We'll see if United 93 even gets nominated.)

Maybe this was raucus stuff in '42, but honestly, I like the song better than the cartoon. Still, the impressive thing weren't that it were done well, but rather that 'twere done at all.

April 25, 2006

"Fit Subject For Humor?"

Jed Babbin sat in for Hugh Hewitt yesterday, and in commenting on American Dreamz, a new movie that makes fun of both Preident Bush and suicide bombing? Babbin seemed offended that the war would be a fit subject for humor.

Of course it's a fit subject for humor. Maybe not the American Dreamz type, but making fun of things is what Americans do best. Just before we entered WWII, Spike Jones released a song, "Der Fuhrer's Face". It was turned into a Donald Duck cartoon. It's a riot, even now.

Mark Steyn pointed out a couple of years ago that Hitler would be pleased to see his works banned in Europe, and mortified to see a Broadway audience laughing at him.

If Neil Young spent less time writing bitter, anti-American songs and more time writing the next "Der Fuhrer's Face," he'd be contributing a lot more to the effort.

As Captain Kirk once said, "No, quite The contrary - I take this mission very seriously. It's you I take lightly."

April 6, 2006

Walt's and Mearsheimer's Damage Done

Powerline may indeed have dismembered the Mearsheimer & Walt "study" purporting to show that you can't spell "neocon" without "J-e-w,"

If there were a referee, he'd stop the fight. If this were a Little League baseball game, it would have been called long ago under the ten-run rule. I think we can officially proclaim this the most one-sided intellectual debate in history. Mearsheimer and Walt have been reduced to rubble, and that was by Scott's initial post on the subject. What's happened since is almost too painful to contemplate.

Rubble it may be, but it's the rubble of a nuclear power plant. The toxins will be poisoning the atmosphere for years to come, as shieks, mullahs, and George Galloways quote it as a respectable source from oddly-admired institutions. Watch al-Jazeera and MEMRI for the fallout, the slander that takes a moment to assert, and an essay to refute.

UPDATE: In response to a reader request, I've added links to the original working paper (pdf) and to paul Mirengoff's original demolition of it. The schools in question are the Harvard and the University of Chicago.

Since Walt and Mearsheimer appear to have gone to ground on this subject, I've also downloaded the article, and can send to anyone interested in reading it. The clock is running on how long it takes for them to recast their current cowardice as the effects of the "Israel Lobby" on free academic inquiry.

April 2, 2006

...And When You Don't Have the Facts Or the Law...

If she's not careful, young Rima Barakhat is going to acquire quite a name for herself. Probalby one she wants, but that the rest of us could do without.

A little while back, I mentioned the visit of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to Denver, and Ms. Barakhat's somewhat, er, defensive reaction to the AJC and the ADL's calling an anti-Semite an anti-Semite. Since Ms. Barakhat lives in America, and not the Islamic state envisioned by the Mufti, papers like the Rocky often offer space for alternative viewpoints, and she took her chance to, well, change the subject.

Instead of defending the indefensible, she decided to attack the Indispensible MEMRI, supposed source of all the confusion about the Mufti's gentle nature and kind-hearted spirit. Fine. We all make mistakes; MEMRI is included in, "we all." Then, this:

Today, the standards of Israeli-Palestinian political and religious discussions have been redefined by pro-Israeli organizations that are working amongst us.

"Working amongst us." Ah, yes, those shadowy cabals, meeting in dark alleys and at Bingo Night down at Rodef Shalom. No doubt many of the Men's Clubs and all of the Ladies' Auxiliaries - not to mention most editorial boards - have been infiltrated, even compromised, by those "working amonst us." Soon, she'll be accusing doctors at Rose Hospital of infecting Muslim youths with AIDS.

She goes after a translation here, a missed word there, not because MEMRI is wrong, but because they perform a valuable service. The imams and muftis they translate say one thing on Friday morning and another thing Sunday morning, and here, she perceives a threat.

Of course, this is a diversion. The real issue, that being what in God's name a "moderate" group in the middle of the United States is doing inviting a bigot to come speak, is too embarassing to deal with. Ah, you want non-MEMRI proof. Fair enough:

"It is shocking to hear a mufti say that there was never a temple there," Palazzi said. He was referring to recent comments by Jerusalem Mufti Sheikh Ekrima El Sabri in which he said "there is not even the smallest indication of the existence of a Jewish temple on this place in the past. In the whole city (of Jerusalem) there is not even a single stone indicating Jewish history." (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

Sabri, addressing this week's Friday congregation in the Aqsa Mosque, said that all Zionist governments ever since occupation of the eastern sector of Jerusalem in 1967 were indulging in a series of excavations underneath the holy site in a desperate attempt to find whatever could prove their illusions (on presence of the remains of the first and/or second Jewish temples). (Palestine Info.)

Speak ing at a press conference at his office on the Temple Mount, Sabri said the Western Wall and the plaza in front of it are part of the holy Mount and are also Waqf property. He stressed there were no political overtones in the timing or content of the fatwa , but that the fatwa compelled a billion Muslims around the world to act accordingly. (Haaretz)

Sheikh Sabri, in his weekly sermon at Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque on September 12, 1997, declared: "Oh Allah, destroy America, her agents, and her allies! Cast them into their own traps, and cover the White House with black!"
The speech was broadcast on the PLO's Voice of Palestine Radio, immediately after it broadcast a speech by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. (Likud)

The figure of 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust is exaggerated and used by Israel to gain international
"It's true, the number was less than 6 million and Israel is using this issue to get sympathy worldwide," Sabri said in an inter

He repeated his accusations to other media outlets.

"Six million? It was a lot less," Sabri told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. "It's not my fault if Hitler hated the Jews. Anyway, they hate them just about everywhere. The Jewish people has found a formidable means of winning solidarity from the world."

He told Reuters that he does not deny the Holocaust, but "I think the figures have been exaggerated. We denounce all massacres, but I don't see why a certain massacre should be used for political gain and blackmail." (JPS)

The mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Akrameh Sabri, says that suicide bombings are justified and should be encouraged, according to a report published on Friday in the international Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat. (Haaretz)

Wow, no wonder MEMRI thought he said all those terrible things. Jews have no right to Israel. Jews have to reason to be in Israel. Jews were lucky enough to have to the Holocaust to so they could get to Israel. These are not criticisms of Zionism; they're barely criticisms of Judaism; they're attacks on Jews. If Barakat wants to pretend that they're not, she'll have to perform contortions that I'd pay to see.

Americans like tending to their own gardens, and I can't begin to tell you how much I hate having to write these pieces. I would rather be writing about baseball, design, business, or finance. I'd rather be photoblogging my latest roadtrip. I'd much rather be hanging out someplace warm trying to keep my attention on a good book in the face of delightedly un-burkha-ed babes. The fact that we have to spend time engaged in intellectual combat with people whose intellect stopped creating around the year 700, and who have a conveniently post-modern idea of truth, isn't just annoying, it's stealing my life, and yours.

And next time, if they're as interested in getting along with Jews and Israel as they pretend, they could invite this guy instead. They might actually learn something.

March 29, 2006

CJR's High Journalistic Standards (Update)

Columbia Journalism Review's Daily takes note of my comments on Hugh's interview yesterday with Michael Ware. In doing so, they exhibit the kind of straw-man argumentation that's made the MSM a kind of Jefferson Society with keyboards.

But the View isn't done. "[Ware] could do a lot more reporting under the protection of the US military than he either knows or acknowledges." (Ware doesn't know the embed option exists?) "If he's really concerned about either his safety or that of his staff, there does seem to be an answer."

This was the part of the interview I was referring to, and going back and reading it, it appears I misheard:

But I mean, what I'm saying to you is that if you think anyone would have the right to complain or to take umbrage at what I do, it would be the troops here on the ground. It would be U.S. military intelligence. It would be the U.S. military. You'd think that they wouldn't give me embeds, wouldn't you? You'd think that they wouldn't grant me backgrounders, or wouldn't take me out on special events. You'd think that they wouldn't give me access to the generals, or to military intelligence. You know, in this war alone, I've been in combat with virtually every kind of U.S. fighting force there is, from the SEAL's, to the Green Berets, to Delta, to Infantry, Airborne, Armored, Mechanized. I mean, I've been there, done that in combat. I've been in every major battle of this war, except from Najaf and the first battle of Fallujah. That includes the battle of Tal-Afar, the Battle of Samara, and the Battle of Fallujah, with front line units. I witnessed an event that the Pentagon subsequently asked me to write about as a witness, which is now a matter for the Congressional Medal of Honor nomination. And I am mentioned in that citation. So if anyone would have a problem with what I do in exploring the issues of this war, you'd think it'd be the military. Yet strangely, they don't.

When I heard this on the air, it sounded to me as though Ware was complaining that he might be denied access based on how he reported. Going back and reading it, he's clearly not saying that. But he does say this about other reporters:

And something happens, something that may not exactly play well back home. And yet, it's something that you know, well, people outside of this experience would never understand that. I mean, how do you relay that without betraying the trust and the confidence of the troops? And for some journalists, they have to bear in mind well, if I write a negative story about the military on this embed, will they give me another embed? So there's always these pressures from all the players. (emphasis added. -ed)

And yet, there's plenty of evidence that most reporters don't get out much beyond Baghdad, and those that do limit themselves to military press events. Bill Roggio reported that while he saw reporters on the ground outside of those events. Ware appears to have been all over the place, and does seem to have availed himself of the military's openness in a way that is unusual for western journalists.

Incredibly, the CJR responds to my complaint as though I had the right interpretation, and proceeds to defend the press on that basis.

UPDATE: In reading even further, I found another quote which supports my initial interpretation, that Ware seems to believe that the military picks and chooses its embeds based on their coverage. Ware's ostensibly referring to what other reporters believe, but then goes on to describe a case where he claims the Iraqi government came after him for a story he wrote. So he's also clearly tying this to his own experience. Whether his later comment is a clumsy recovery aimed at buttering up his, er, bread-and-butter is unclear, but it's certainly at odds with the second quote, from earlier in the interview.

March 28, 2006

Reporting From the Other Side

One section of Hugh Hewitt's interview with Michael Ware struck me in particular. Hugh analogized to WWII, and what would happen if a reporter had the chance to report from the other side in that war.

Actually, William Shirer & other journalists did report from Germany during the war. But they did it 1) when the US wasn't a belligerent, and 2) while reporting that they were under Germany censorship. Neither of those conditions obtains with Michael Ware.

Like it or not, when the war broke out, the Germans didn't make it a habit to kill foreign correspondents; they deported them. Once the war started, any newspaperman wandering across the front lines to hang out with the Germans on maneuvers would have been shot as a spy. And for good reason. The mere fact this is at least a matter of dispute amongst the councils of our current enemy should tell you something about the service that Mr. Ware is performing.

Remember, too that normal military censorship has relatively well-known rules. Talk about morale if you like, but the troop train schedule is off-limits. Ware's admitted to being "careful," but without careful questioning after each story, it's impossible for a reader to figure out what kind of restraints he's putting on himself. Not only can't you read between the lines, you're not even sure what directlon the lines run, or if there are any lines.

The fact is, there are plenty of embeds who reports what they see, good or bad. Michael Yon comes to mind. The military is confident in the rightness of its behavior to the point that as long as Yon doesn't pick up a weapon again, or as long as Bill Roggio doesn't have flashbacks to his service days, they can keep going and reporting as long as they like. While it does seem that Ware has gotten out of the bar at the Palestine Hotel, he could do a lot more reporting under the protection of the US military than he either knows or acknowledges. If he's really concerned about either his safety or that of his staff, there does seem to be an answer.

This is worse than the deal cut with Saddam, first, because it comes after Eason Jordan's nasty little revelation, and second, because you can't make normal assumptions about what's fair game and what's not.

This guy's sold his soul for a few bylines.

UPDATE: Upon further reflection, this post has been revised and extended from its initial form..

March 27, 2006

War Quickies

First, does anyone really believe that Moussaoui was in cahoots with Richard "Really Big Shoe" Reid to hijack a fifth airplane? It more or less goes against everything that we know operationally about that day. I'm content to believe that Moussaoui was part of the 9/11 plot at some point, but this sounds like the ravings of someone who's either trying to save his skin by confessing everything, or who's a few seats short of a full flight.

Secondly, are we finally getting serious about Mookie al-Sadr? I didn't like the deal we cut in the first place, letting him go, just to rebuild his militia. Didn't we already make that mistake with one Iraqi, er, strongman? Having private militias operating outside the government is a recipe for chaos. On the other hand, maybe this will be a test for the Iraqi security forces' competence and loyalty. Either way, we need to put Mookie out of business.

March 19, 2006

Sleeper Cell

Last week at Shabbat dinner, I met a fellow visitng from New York, who was working for Showtime on their series, Sleeper Cell. "Better than 24," he said. "So, the terrorists, they're...," I tried to ask. "Yes, they're Muslim, but they're not all Arab." "Hmm," I averred.

Well, the DVDs are out, for those of us unwilling to pay extra for what's mostly premium crap. While I'm not willing to agree that it's "Better than 24," the mere assertion of which plants doubt, that's mostly because it's a completely different animal. While Jack Bauer (reverent pause), has only one day to save LA and uncover conspiracies of increasing complexity, size, and scope, Sleeper Cell is more like Wiseguy.

The language is a lot rougher, the (brief) sex scenes are more explicit, although for some reason the violence is probably more explicit on 24. But the story is more subtle, and while the terrorists are clearly the bad guys, and the Muslim FBI infiltrating is clearly the good guy, he's got to deal with bureaucracy and ignorance in trying to get his superiors to play their cards right. At times, this borders on cliche, but at other times, there's real insight.

One episode shows how drug trafficking and prostitution are helping to fund terror rings, using our own vices against us. At the end of episode 4, Darwin (the FBI agent), informs his handler that "it's not just a war on terror, it's a civil war within Islam, and [the moderate Imam] and those like him are the only ones that can win it." There's a lot of truth in this, and while the outspoken moderate Imam has yet to appear outside of Hollywood, the outspoken moderate Muslims in LA, Denmark, and Holland could use real politicians saying more of this sort of thing.

Each season seems to be 12 episodes, and I've only been through the first DVD, but on the whole, I'm impressed.

Jimmah Strikes Out

At the risk of repeating myself, I'd like to point out that Hamas has apparently proven impervious to the entreaties of our worst ex-President, Jimmy Carter. Despite his pleas to keep the money flowing, in order not to radicalize Hamas (really!), the Islamofascists have decided to form a government "without moderates." While this may come as a disappointment to the Carters and the James Wolfensohns of the world, it's unlikely to change their opinions.

Keep an eye out for any MSM reference to these requests - essentially honored - and their failure to "moderate" Hamas in any future reporting. I doubt they'll be there. Instead, watch for the same post-Gulf-War-I dance to be repeated, this time with Hamas. Watch for the MSM to latch onto anything, anything at all, to avoid coming to the conclusion that Hamas means what it says.

Included in the AP report is this little gem:

The Palestinian Authority is highly dependent on foreign aid to prop up its economy, which has suffered a near fatal blow during five years of fighting with Israel.

In fact, the Palestinian economy has been destitute from at least the time of the first intifada, suffering first from a greater interest in making bombs than making, well, much of anything else. Also unmentioned is the complete lack of evidence that the foreign aid that flowed in like Niagara was going anywhere but into the pockets of Arafat and his Abu Buddies. Inasmuch as this corruption is the most-often-cited rationalization for why the Palestinians didn't really mean it when they voted for these thugs, it's an odd omission at best.

March 17, 2006

Vacating the Field

Take a look ah the Issue groups focused on the Middle East that Project Vote-Smart tracks:

  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA)
  • American Muslims for Jerusalem
  • Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel
  • U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

    See a pattern? Yes, I thought so.

    I'm fairly sure this isn't a bias Vote-Smart's part; every other section of the site has both sides represented where they exist. Since Israel's security isn't (or shouldn't be) particularly controversial among Jewish groups, why do the ADL, AJC, and AIPAC (AIPAC, of all people!) not publish ratings of their own on this matter?

    The standard answer is that we don't want, and can't afford, for Israel to become a partisan issue. It's not without merit. Since people vote on many issues, you don't want an election to turn on, say, the economy, and find that you've got a Foreign Relations committee taking campaign contributions from Hamas fundraisers. But I'm pretty sure than abandoning the field to the bad guys is having the opposite effect, and may eventually make Israel a bi-partisan issue, the other way. And I'm not even sure it's a completely honest answer.

    By allowing the other side to drive the ratings, you're creating an incentive for one party to seize the issue as soon as they think the bad guys may have some strength. And in a hyper-partisan era, when one party thinks that impeachment is a winning campaign issue, this becomes a real possibility. In the short run, you encourage it to become a partisan issue. In the long run, your friends start to ask why they're supporting you in the first place. That's how politics works.

    I think there's also something else at work here, though. I think there's a reluctance on the part of a traditionally Democratic leadership to admit that that party has become the (still uncomfortable) home of anti-Semitism, a la Cynthia McKinney and Al Sharpton. I think they and their largely Democratic membership don't want to face that fact, and the fact that conservative Republicans are now Israel's most reliable supporters, in part because they've been listening to their own press clippings about "theocracy." In the meantime, the actual theocrats are busily enrolling in Yale where they can take a census of gay and Jewish students to see how large the swinging wall has to be.

    Further, it's too easy to just write off Republican support as "those evangelicals." Maybe, somewhat. (Evangelicals aren't a majority of the party; they aren't even really driving the agenda.) But if you do that, then you have to explain why you can't carry the Democrats anymore, why you can't appeal to them on their terms, and that's profoundly embarassing, as well.

    Either way, the Jewish leadership isn't doing its job here.

    For statistical geekery, continue reading below.

    Continue reading "Vacating the Field" »

  • Better Late Than Never

    While inhabitants of the blogosphere have known about the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment's exploits in Tall Afar for some time, apparently the news is just penetrating the Denver Post newsroom.

    Better late than never, I suppose. I don't have the print version in front of me, so I can't say what page it's on, but it's nice to see a report about local soldiers that doesn't focus solely on their funerals.

    Campaign Finance, Iraqi Style

    Among the documents released by the military is one with the following tantalizing description:

    Correspondence among various governmental offices regarding the French law for funding and financing election campaigns. The original French text of the law translated into Arabic, referring to the rules of the authority to regulate the financing.

    I don't read Arabic, but I'll bet they weren't just keeping track of Chirac's Adventures in Money Laundering for entertainment purposes.

    March 16, 2006

    Iraqi Intelligence: al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2002

    So that first set of declassified documents from Iraq includes this interesting item:

    2002 Iraqi Intelligence Correspondence concerning the presence of al-Qaida Members in Iraq. Correspondence between IRS members on a suspicion, later confirmed, of the presence of an Al-Qaeda terrorist group. Moreover, it includes photos and names.

    Unfortunately, like the dog in the Beggin' Strips commercial, I can't read (Arabic). Still, you'd think this sort of thing would be getting some attention.

    March 15, 2006

    Denver Rep Opposes Military Recruiters

    Last night, the House voted 347-65 in favor of a resolution supporting the Solomon Amendment. Surprisingly, all 65 who voted against were Democrats (Hat tip: Tax Prof)

    Among those voting against military recruiting on campuses receiving your tax money was Denver's own Diana DeGette. Why not call - (303) 844-4988 - or email (politely, of course), and ask, um, what on God's green earth she was thinking?

    March 13, 2006

    Things To Do In Denver When You're An Imam (or a Mufti)

    I didn't take much notice when St. John's Episcopal Church here in town hired Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni to head up their Abrahamic Initiative. Sure, the guy was anti-Israel, but that didn't make him dangerous.

    Then, I found some interesting, uh, reading material on the web, and went to go hear him speak yesterday.

    First, the reading material. Kazerooni was chosen, pre 9/11, to translate a speech by the Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, Ayatollah to the Stars, or, in this case, the current President of Iran. Yes, that President of Iran. If you'd like to know more about the current theologician behind the throne, go here, or here.

    The speech itself, which I've uploaded and transcribed as best I can (the quality is truly lousy), is a sermon celebrating the 21st Anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

    Now, you might think that this is an academic translation, not really indicative of Kazerooni's beliefs. Guess again. It was at a public event, the Imam's voice is clearly full of reverence, and in any case, you don't just happen to get chosen for something like this because you can speak English. Islam, like Judaism, runs on the personal ties and confidence of its leaders, so suffice it to say that Yazdi knew what he was looking for. Go ahead and listen, with the text in front of you. (Corrections and amendments accepted.)

    Then, there's this interview, with Homiletics Online, a leftish religious site dedicated - as near as I can tell - to the principle that Christians don't necessarily believe anything worth arguing over. Wherein you will find the following pearls of wisdom:

    Number one, one has to start dealing with the premise that is used for such an argument. If we look around the world from Northern Ireland to Lebanon to the Far East, to South America, conflict exists between various religious communities. This violence is not unique to Islam. In Northern Ireland you have the Catholics and Protestants fighting each other. In the Balkans you had Christians on one side and Muslims on the other. In the Middle East you have Jewish-Muslim conflict, in India and Pakistan you have a Hindu and Muslim conflict.

    So if we are trying to make a judgment based on contemporary events, I don’t think it is unique to Islam in particular.

    OK, I'll give him Northern Ireland. City centers fenced off and searched, and nary a mosque in sight. But Latin American? Religious strife there pretty much ended with the last of the Inca converts, unless you want to count the uncontracted demolition of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center by, um, Iranians.

    As for the rest of the conflicts, you might notice a certain common thread: Lebanon (Muslim-Christian, Sunni-Shiite), Far East (Philippines: Muslim separatists; Indonesia: Muslim separatists; Sri Lanka, Muslim separatists), Balkans (Muslim-Orthodox), Middle East (ok, Israel here, to be precise, Muslim-Jewish), India (Muslim-Hindu). So really, it's not just Muslims involved, but by and large, they're one of the dance partners.

    And this qualifies as his defense.

    He also claims that 1) Israel doesn't care about world opinion (if only!), that 2) Israel deliberately killed Rachel Corrie, 3) that moderate Muslims like himself don't get enough platforms to speak, 4) Hezbollah isn't really terrorist, because they were only killing Israelis.

    Read the whole thing. And this is the guy who wants to bring understanding to the world.

    Oh, right, him and the Mufti of Jerusalem.

    Both Vincent Carroll and Dave Kopel had some choice words for the Denver Post's coverage of this wretched little anti-Semite's appearance here in town.

    Yesterday, one of the guests (not panelists) was the girl from MILA, who had defended this fellow's appearance and was surprised that the Jewish community wasn't shoulder-to-shoulder with them on it. She was there to promote the appearance this Friday of a Muslim comedian at DU. I'm sure he's a laugh riot. Shame he's performing on Shabbat.

    Denver's Muslim community has been among the least radicalized around. Too bad these guys are getting a platform.

    More about yesterday's appearance soon.

    UPDATE: The Kopel/Carroll links have been fixed

    History Rhyming?

    I'm off to a Denver Center-Right Coalition meeting, so I'll have to make this much briefer than it deserves.

    I wonder if, instead of being the FDR or William McKinley that we had hoped, President Bush isn't going to end up more like Lyndon Johnson. Even many conservatives, being fed a steady diet of bad news from the front, are starting to look for a way out of Iraq, and Federal spending, fed a steady diet of entitlements, is starting to look like Edgar just before the gas attack. Right now, that's not inflationary or recessionary, but only because everyone else's long-term interest rates are even lower than ours.

    If the party split grows, it could open the door for a serious but unpopular candidate like Hillary, playing the role of Nixon. Nixon's party at the time was about as minority as the Democrats are now - controlled nothing, and hadn't for a while. His victories did little to improve the overall party's standing, another Clinton parallel. But they did make the party credible again, and set the stage for Reagan to break the decades-long liberal monopoly on ideas.

    Gotta run. Discuss.

    March 9, 2006

    Oh, Those Middle East Experts

    The Washington Post this morning reports on a supposed anti-Muslim backlash in the United States:

    James J. Zogby, president of the Washington-based Arab American Institute, said he is not surprised by the poll's results. Politicians, authors and media commentators have demonized the Arab world since 2001, he said.


    Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, agreed, saying Americans "have been given the message to respond this way by the American political elite, mass media and by select special interests."

    Cole said he was shocked when a radio talk show host asked him if Islamic extremists would set off a nuclear bomb in the United States in the next six months. "It was ridiculous. I think anti-Arab racism and profiling has become respectable," he said.

    Messrs. Zogby and Cole, Paging Messrs. Zogby and Cole, Please pick up the white courtesy phone, your spaceship has arrived.

    Sure, it has all to do with that avalanche of Hollywood films showing Arabs and Muslims as the bad guys, that non-stop stream of race-baiting invective from the White House and Congress, and, no doubt, the posting of the Danish cartoons as reading material for the long lines of young, Middle-Eastern men being detained by TSA for screening.

    Nothing at all to do Iran's eschatologically loopy President, riots and embassy bonfires over a few innocuous drawings, MSM depictions of an Iraq seemingly resistant to common sense, French Citroen-fueled marshmallow roasts, and a CAIR that's to be worried that the McCarthy era won't return and they won't be in charge. Indonesia and Malaysia stand as symbols of how Islam can work within the modern world, but they're not the ones getting the ink, and most (but not all) of the loudest American Muslim groups are less interested in battling for the soul of their religion than in protecting the "rights" of the opposition. That's bound to leave an impression, even if it's not the right one.

    What's remarkable is that Juan Cole's opinions on the matter are still considered newsworthy. This and this leave little doubt as to the "special interests" he has in mind. Cole's reading of the 9-11 Commission report beggars description. And he's been a leader in the attempt to keep government money flowing to Middle Eastern Studies departments, while not producing the skilled language experts the money is supposed to help fund. (He's not anti-war; he's just on the other side.)

    Finally, Cole is an intellectualy bully who has slandered the indispensible MEMRI, called publicly for opposition research on Martin Kramer, and spends a lot of time rejecting calls for intellectual honesty as McCarthyism while hinting darkly about lawsuits against his detractors.

    The next time the WaPo needs a real Middle East expert, allow me to suggest Fouad Ajami, Amir Taheri, Bernard Lewis, Martin Kramer, or Daniel Pipes.

    March 7, 2006

    Al Qaeda's Navy

    For all of you concerned about the UAE ports deal, the History Channel is re-running a 2004 hour-long episode on Al Qaeda's Navy. It's on now, and will repeat at 6:00 PM Eastern.

    I only managed to catch a few minutes, but it was certainly enough to re-raise suspicions.

    More importantly, there was this little tidbit. We all know that Hugo Chavez is playing Mussolini to Iran's Hitler. We also know that Venezuela has been supporting Colombia's insurgency, hoping to destabilize a democratic US ally. And we also know that drug money has been supporting al Qaeda activity, even as we shut down domestic money pipelines.

    What I hadn't realized is that the bustling tri-state border region between Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil, has acquired for itself quite the sea of Middle Eastern immigrants for the terrorists to swim in. Yes, the area's landlocked, but it's also remote, so an excellent place to organize sea-borne missions out of sight and out of mind.

    This matters because most of al Qaeda's merchant fleet are small ships. They probably couldn't hit the US from across the ocean, but they can from South America. And the trip from Africa to South America is much, much shorter.

    Watch the whole thing.

    March 6, 2006

    Hamas to Jimmy Carter: Drop Dead

    Hamas has used its outright majority in the PA legislature to emasculate alleged "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas. (Abbas, who prefers his nom de guerre, "Abu Mazen," was last seen complaining that Israel was killing Islamic Jihad mililtants death-squadders who were taking refuge among children.)

    Hamas has 74 seats in the new parliament and Fatah just 45, and the first order of business for Hamas was to cancel the powers the outgoing parliament gave to Abbas, the Fatah leader, authorizing him to cancel laws passed by the new parliament and appointing Fatah officials to key positions.

    Now, as I recall, ex-President Jimmah Carter, the Democrats' shadow Secretary of State, was arguing that the EU and the US should keep right on funnelling money to the PA, in order not to radicalize the new government. The EU rushed to move money in under the deadline, and the US promised to find ways to help free up money for guns by funding essential services recruiting tools such as schools and hospitals.

    Wow, I'm sure glad that worked out as planned.

    February 24, 2006

    An Army of Daweeds? realize that the popular reading of the Toledo story is to lump it in with the Lodi "Send Your Son to Jihad Camp" story, but a somewhat closer reading suggests a fair amount of good news in it.

    Sure, there's the typical CAIR-like statement about how this-isn't-typical-and-please-don-'t-judge-us-all. And the obligatory "he seemed like such a nice, quiet guy" quotes from the neightbors. But then there's this:

    Authorities said they uncovered the plot with the help of a man who came to them 18 months ago. Code-named “the Trainer” in the indictment, he had been approached by Mr. El-Hindi to provide security and bodyguard training to the group.

    Other members of the Muslim community had already gone to federal authorities with information regarding “violent and radical” statements made by the men. After the Trainer contacted them, law enforcement began actively pursuing him, officials said yesterday.

    Isn't this sort of inside help exactly the kind of thing we've been looking for? And isn't it a relief to know that law enforcement actually took the tips seriously?

    Secondly, note that these are Muslims, living in America, Land Of the Soft Target, planning to attack American troops in Iraq. Now, maybe this goes along with the typical jihadist death wish, but it also suggests that right now, Iraq really is the central front. They figured that the best move, the one best calculated to cause trouble for the Great Satan, was to attack us not at home, but at the front.

    As a side note: while it does appear that "traditional" methods were used in taking these guys down, wouldn't you still like to know something about any international phone calls they made? Really? Yes, I thought so.

    Finally, it's a little disappointing that we're treating this as a traditional criminal case, rather than something more, well, military. Perhaps someone with a fuller understanding of Hamdi can explain why this isn't being transferred to a military court, given the intended targets of their little operation.

    February 23, 2006

    Airports & Seaports

    Peggy Noonan today says everything about airport security that we don't:

    I gave the speech that night, and returned the next morning to the West Palm Beach airport for the flight home. Here, at 9:30 a.m., it was worse. Again roughly a thousand people, again all of them being yelled at by airport and TSA personnel. Get your computers out. Shoes off. Jackets off. Miss, Miss, I told you, line four. No, line four. So much yelling and tension, and all the travelers in slump-shouldered resignation and fear. The fingers of the man in front of me were fluttered with anxiety as he grabbed at his back pocket for his wallet so the woman who checks ID would not snap at him or make him miss his flight.

    This was East Germany in 1960. It was the dictatorship of the clerks, and the clerks were not in a good mood.

    We don't say it when we're in the airport, for fear of getting taken to a small holding cell and interrogated like Nina at CTU. We don't say it when we're home from the airport because we'd just as soon forget the whole thing.

    I am almost always picked for extra screening. I must be on a list of middle aged Irish-American women terrorists. I know a message is being sent: We don't do ethnic profiling in America. But that is not, I suspect, the message anyone receives. The message people receive is: This is all nonsense. What they think is: This is all kabuki. We're being harassed and delayed so politicians can feel good. The security personnel themselves seem to know it's nonsense: they're always bored and distracted as they go through my clothing, my stockings, my computer, my earrings. They don't treat me like a terror possibility, they treat me like a sad hunk of meat.

    I don't think most of us get extra screening because they think we are terrorists. I think we get it because they know we're not. They screen people who are not terrorists because it helps them pretend they are protecting us, in the same way doctors in the middle ages used to wear tall hats: because they couldn't cure you. It's all show.

    It's not like this a secret.

    As with the port deal, it's a matter of bureaucrats following rules. There's no more risk-averse group in the known universe than civil service bureaucrats. Nobody ever gets fired for following the rules, and the rules are entirely a substitute for judgment. There are no consequences to being wrong, only for being out of line.

    I know everyone points to Israel, and the fact that despite being the terrorist target, Israel never gets its planes blown up for flown into Shalom Towers. Why? Because 1) they teach their screeners judgment and 2) their screeners care enough to use it.

    TSA workers shouldn't be allowed to show up at the airport in uniform. They should have a locker room with a 24/7 continuous loop of 9-11, 7/7, Khobar Towers, the USS Cole, and the rest.

    Then, like WWII parachute packers, they should be required to serve drinks on a 707 at least once a week.

    February 21, 2006

    Life Imitates Art

    Hmmm. A guy named Bauer breaks up a terror cell with a guy named Marwan. What does that remind me of?

    February 9, 2006

    Obligations, Not Rights

    American law thinks in terms of rights. Jewish Law, halachah, is much more comfortable speaking in terms of obligations than of rights. In the case of the Danish Cartoons, I think there's something to be learned from the differences.

    I would argue that the halachic concepts offer some advantages over the American ones. They could be compared to an intersection, where truck meets pedestrian. Under the American system, where each presses his rights, the truck driver frequently ends up in jail and the pedestrian in traction. Under the halachic system, with each mindful of his obligations, you may wear out your brakes a little more quickly, at the savings of a great number of collisions.

    In American terms, there are two conflicting rights: freedom of the press and the "right" not to be offended. In Jewish terms, there would be two complementary obligations: the obligation not to offend and the obligation not to behave like a beheimah when offended. You could therefore argue, as Hugh Hewiit and other have, that both sides are wrong, although now with the die cast, we need to defend press freedom.

    Or, you could argue, as I do, that that all works as long as you're in a civil society. But once one side starts to play chicken, pretending to step off the curb in order to get you to slow down, things change. There's no sanction for the other guys trying to enforce your obligations by denying theirs, to back you off by threatening violence. Muslim groups, even Western ones, have been playing chicken with the press and public officials for too long now.

    To put it back in American terms, I'd take a third alternative: absolute right-of-way. At roundabouts, or traffic circles, one side has the absolute right of way. In America, if you're on the left, you win. It means you're in the circle, and you get to go where you want, ahead of the guy entering the circle. (Exiting, of course, there's no collision.) Since I don't really believe in the right not to be offended, I'd give full preference to free press, and to expect the insulted groups to get the address right for their protests.

    Denver Papers Link to Cartoons

    Since I live in the 21st Century, and read both the Post and the News online, I don't know if the papers have reprinted the Mohammed cartoons.

    However, much to their credit, both Denver papers have linked to the cartoons online (although, regrettably, not to a local blog who put them up). It's true that at this point, that doesn't reach much of an audience who hadn't already seen the things. Still, the links are on the front pages of their respective sites, and appear to be linked to ongoing coverage, rather than to any specific article. This means that they'll stay there for the time being, rather than getting shuffled off to the archive.


    February 8, 2006

    Intelligence Operation

    If Austin Bay is right, then Hugh Hewitt is wrong. And so are the self-styled "Warriors of Civilization."

    The Wall Street Journal reports that, in order to inflame Arab opinion, the radical Danish clerics running this show had to make stuff up:

    Keen to "globalize" the crisis to pressure the Danish government, Mr. Abu-Laban and his colleagues decided to send delegations to the Middle East. They prepared a dossier to distribute during the travels. .... It also contained a group of highly offensive pictures that had never been published by the newspaper, including a photograph of a man dressed as a pig, with the caption: "this is the real picture of Muhammad."

    Why? In the same issue, Amir Taheri comments that even the mildest supposed offense - portrayal of Muhammed and religious humor - are little more than politcally-invented nonsense.

    And Iraq the Model notes that:

    You know that those cartoons were published for the 1st time months ago and we here in the Middle East have tonnes of jokes about Allah, the prophets and the angels that are way more offensive, funny and obscene than those poorly-made cartoons, yet no one ever got shot for telling one of those jokes or at least we had never seen rallies and protests against those infidel joke-tellers.

    So, the war-of-civilizationists are wrong, inasmuch as the actual number of Muslims involved in this rioting is fairly small.

    But Hugh Hewitt is wrong, because since this is a pre-planned intelligence operation, supplemented by disinformation, virtually anything critical of Islam could have been used to set it off. Go look at the CAIR site sometime, and see the kind of normal, everyday kind of criticism that has them scurrying to their hate-crimes lawyers and other professional intimidators. John O'Sullivan's argument in favor of not letting someone else's reaction dictate our discussion becomes ever stronger.

    In fact, I would argue that doing as I an Charles Johnson and other bloggers have done - reprint the cartoons so people like Iraq the Model can actually find them - is key to defeating this hostlie operation. When people haven't seen the cartoons, their imaginations run wild. When they have seen them, their first reaction tends to be, "this, this is what they're upset about?" And then, the addition of actually offensive material to the "dossier" makes sense.

    Denmark in Denver

    For those of you who want to find out what Danish products are available for purchase, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, the contact information for the local Danish Trade Consulate is:

    Consul Nanna Nielsen Smith
    5353 W. Dartmouth, Ste. 508
    Denver, CO 80227

    February 5, 2006

    Missing the Point

    My posting of the cartoons here is not an endorsement of their content. It's an attempt to actually report what the controversy is about, which can't be done in the absence of the original document.

    The American media has been grossly negligent in their reporting of these cartoons by not reprinting them, and not linking to them in the online reports. Contrary to Fred Barnes's assertion on Hugh Hewitt's show, this is not to their credit, rather to their disgrace. Any informed opinion requires actual facts, and while even the grossest slurs don't justify embassy torchings and threats of violence, it would be nice to know just what set them off this time.

    As WFB put it:

    A quite natural curiosity attaches to how these twelve caricatures actually looked. One of them features Mohammed in a vaporous cloud addressing an assembly of suicide terrorists, with the caption that the heavenly kingdom has run out of virgins, so that aspirant debauchers simply have to lay off for a while. How was all that actually depicted by the cartoonist? Even the banal representation of Mohammed with a bomb replacing the turban on his head did not appear in the New York Times, the paper of record.

    The offending cartoons have to be imagined.

    And the imagination is usually worse than the real thing.

    When Powerline reproduced cartoons showing the Star of David as walls in a prion camp, nobody thought they were self-hating Jews. Likewise, the press in this country needs to find the nerve to tell the story - to do their jobs.

    Lord knows, they've spent enough time telling us whose side they're not on.

    February 2, 2006

    Those Cartoons

    To answer Ron.


    UPDATE: Courtesy of the American Kestrel, I have translations for the two untranslated cartoons. The one with the (rather odd) Stars of David and crescents translates as: "Prophet who has all kinds of silly thoughts going on in his head but keeps women under his foot." Apparently "The first part is a Danish saying having to do with a lid on a pot. And it rhymes in Danish. Loget is the lid on the pot and oget is a cattle harness."

    The one with the police lineup translates as, "Hmmm. I'm not sure I can recognize him."

    UPDATE: The Washington Post finally catches up with the cartoon story today, but remarkably, doesn't show the cartoons.

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    January 29, 2006

    The War and the Temptations of Electoral Politics

    Since the Republicans are right on the War on Radical Islam, and since that is the defining issue of our time, and since, for the moment, most Americans agree, there is a strong temptation to try to ride this issue to victory after victory.

    This would be a mistake with potentially tragic consequences for the party, and worse, for the country.

    At the most basic level, the war is only one issue, and one that operates primarily (although not exclusively) at a national level. Focusing on the war makes it easier for down-ticket large-government Republicans to recreate the successes of Illinois and Pensylvania. Simultaneously, failing to make electoral tests of free-market economics and conservative social policy puts off serious reduction of government indefinitely - since those issues never win a mandate.

    More importantly, though, acquiescing in making the war a partisan issue makes it almost impossible to win the war. Bruce Catton, in a series of lectures, published as America Goes to War, points out that the Civil War - and any war in a democracy, really - is as much a political problem as a military one.

    Lincoln understood that the war couldn't be won if it became a Republican War. Lincoln was able to co-opt prominent state and local Democrats through the device of the "political general." Whatever their military shortcomings - and it's far from clear that they, rather than the professionals - did the lasting damage to the war effort - political generals served to keep the war non-partisan, and to keep the country generally unified on the issue.

    In allowing the War on Radical Islam to become partisan, and by not co-opting lower-tier Democrats, every election becomes a referendum on the war, even if that's not the issue forwardmost in voters' minds. In means that in order to win the war, Republicans have to win every time, and in a 48-48 (or even 52-48) country, that's just not going to happen.

    Now it's no good saying, "the Democrats wouldn't allow that this time - they were too set in their Bush-hatred." Even given that certain elements of their party were beyond hope, it's the President's job to find a way to get as many of them on board as possible. The longer we wait, the more powerful the anti-war voices get within the Democratic party, and the harder the job gets.

    January 27, 2006

    Hamas & "Negotiation"

    CNN is reporting that by a margin of 48-43, Israelis want to leave the door open to negotiations with Hamas. The reporter claims that this is because the Israelis "don't want to believe that there's no partner on the other side."

    He's got it completely backwards: such a result is only possible because Israelis have already given up on the Palestinians. It also suggests that public grasps and accepts the logic behind Kadima's platform.

    It's a mark of how effectively Sharon changed the political equation by taking the initiative, promoting disengagement behind the security fence. Israelis don't really believe they'd be negotiating peace with Hamas; they understand they'd be negotiating temporary accomodations, which they'd be doing with Abbas as well. The election of Hamas isn't going to alter the strategic balance between the two sides.

    The DenPo-WaPo Bubble

    The Denver Post editorial staff who attacked the NSA international intercept program yesterday probably think of themselves as bold crusaders for domestic civil rights. Unfortunately for them, they comes across as willfully ill-informed. Again.

    President Bush launched a campaign-style offensive this week to defend his secret executive order allowing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop, without court warrants, on phone calls and Internet traffic in the United States.

    His advisers hope the publicity blitz will impress the public in advance of Bush's State of the Union address next Tuesday and upcoming congressional hearings on whether the president has the authority to order such surveillance.

    It's not until the end of the editorial that the Post acknowledges that the speeches are not happening in a vacuum, but are coordinated with the release of a Justice Department white paper laying out the President's legal case.

    The road show is a distraction. If the president sees the need for an unbridled domestic eavesdropping program, he should negotiate its provisions with Congress. (emphasis added -ed.)

    And if the President wanted to declare Tuesdays to be "Dress Like a Disney Character Day," he'd need to negotiate that, too, and it has about as much relevance. That the Denver Post can't understand the difference between "domestic" and "international" suggests a woeful shortage of dictionaries in the newsroom. Intercepting phone calls that cross international boundaries is nothing like an "unbridled domestic eavesdropping program." Things that cross borders are different from things that don't. We have passports, visa, tariffs, Customs, border police, the Interstate Commerce Clause.

    As the Justice Department notes:

    Finally, as part of the balancing of interests to evaluate Fourth Amendment reasonableness, it is significant that the NSA activities are limited to intercepting international communications where there is a reasonable basis to conclude that one party to the communication is a member or agent of al Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist organization.

    It's also little short of bizarre that the Post would argue that the President should enter into political negotiations without making a political case to the public. Of course, for a paper that has consistently supported elections without campaigns, also known as McCain-Feingold, maybe this position makes sense to them. It also presumes good faith on the part of Congressional Democrats, who were well-informed of the program, failed to object in any meaningful way for years, still don't call for the program's end, but are willing to use its existence as a political bludgeon.

    On the campaign trail, the president is re-branding the surveillance program to make it seem more palatable. "It's what I would call a terrorist surveillance program," Bush said Monday during a town-hall-style session at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.

    So the Post, having out-and-out lied about what the program is doing, turns the tables and accuses the President of "rebranding."

    Polls suggest the public is divided on the issue, although two recent surveys indicate most Americans favor the NSA obtaining a warrant whenever it sees a purpose to snoop on domestic communications.

    When asked about what's actually going on, however, the public turns out to be not quite so divided.

    After finally acknowledging the Justice Department White Paper, the Post quotes, verbatim, from a discredited Washington Post report on the Congressional Research Service's own findings. (Incidentally, the DenPo has the CRS responding on January 7 to a White Paper issued on January 19. Someone needs to look into this covert time-travel program.)

    "It appears unlikely that a court would hold that Congress has expressly or impliedly authorized the NSA electronic surveillance operations here," the authors of the CRS report wrote. The administration's legal justification "does not seem to be ... well-grounded."

    Note the ellipses. This particular quote - and the WaPo's misrepresentation of the CRS report - has already been deconstructed by Powerline.

    For the record, here's the full quote: "Given such uncertainty, the Administration's legal justification, as presented in the summary analysis from the Office of Legislative Affairs, does not seem to be as well-grounded as the tenor of that letter suggests."

    The Denver Post editorial writers willfully repeated a discredited, misleading partial quote, weeks after its appearance. Who do they think they are, the LA Times, or something?

    January 24, 2006

    The Compleat Electronic Subversive

    This is a repeat of a post from last August. Because trackbacks and comments didn't survive the port to MT 3.2, I've been asked by the company to re-post it as an FYI for their user community.

    As any Neal Stephenson fan knows, it's an arms race between the encryptors and the decryptors. Still, this looks like the kind of thing that any aspiring terrorist operative - or Chinese protest organizer - would want to have.

    Stealthsurfer II is a little USB device that looks like one of those Jumpdrives, but acts as a shunt for all your Internet traffic. Even browsers with very small caches still write to disk, and those files are more or less permanent. Arthur Anderson should also have taken hammer to all of their Enron hard drives. The Stealthsurfer intercepts email, web browsing, and FTP traffic, and encrypts it using ES3. It's apparently versatile and easy to use.

    Why would this be useful? Well, think of the number of intelligence coups we've had when we caught al-Qaeda guys parading around with their laptops. Using the Stealthsurfer, much of this content would never have hit the hard drive. Captured, they could either impersonate drug mule or just toss the little capsule away. Someone could use the Net for operational traffic, and if they weren't under surveillance, searching their laptop wouldn't do intelligence agents or federal prosecutors any good.

    Another feature lets you spoof your IP address, making it seem as though your traffic is originating from a computer thousands of miles away. Handy little tool for the terrorist on the go.

    It appears that the service reroutes your traffic through their servers, 128-bit encrypted, so the host website your accessing thinks that Anonymizer is the client. Anonymizer claims to cooperate with law enforcement, but if the transmitted information is already encrypted or hidden, they might never know their service was being used this way. And since they also claim they don't keep any of the traffic, the trail might well stop at their servers.

    Now the tool does have limitations. Chinese dissidents or protest organizers wouldn't exactly be able to parade into an Internet cafe and cover their tracks. There's a login screen, a popup window, and some other give-aways. Also, the ChiComs are in the nasty little habit of blocking internet sites and monitoring traffic, so this kind of thing is likely to attract the attention of that little white van parked across the street.

    So, take an electronic one-time pad that tell me where to look for my next instructions, a host site that has nothing but an innocuous-looking JPEG with the instructions embedded in it, a hand-held GPS for setting up remote drops and meetings. Add plausible deniability to my laptop and even my physical location, and I'd say we've got a little problem here, 99.

    January 19, 2006

    What Cease-Fire?

    The Jerusalem Post is reporting that an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber has wounded upwards of 30 people at a Tel Aviv shwarma stand near that city's old Central Bus Station.

    In the meantime, ISIME at DU is promoting a panel discussion with optimistic poll results, including one that claims that 2/3 of Palestinians support continuing the "cease fire." To paraphrase, with cease fires like these, who needs war?

    The WaPo Shish-Khababs Good News From the Front

    Front-page real estate on the Washington Post is hard to come by, especially if you're good news from the GWOT. The Post has run five stories in the last six days on the American airstrike intended for Zawahiri, but which seemingly instead got his assistant Abu "Shish" Khabab, and you can gauge how good the news is by the page number.

    At first, when simply reporting that the airstrike had taken place, and who its target was, the Post put the news on page 9. The next day, the page-9 airstrike turned into a page-1 debacle:

    Pakistani officials said Saturday that a U.S. missile strike intended to kill al Qaeda deputy Ayman Zawahiri had missed its target but had killed 17 people, including six women and six children.

    Tens of thousands of Pakistanis staged an angry anti-American protest near the remote village of Damadola, about 120 miles northwest of Islamabad, where Friday's attack took place. According to witnesses, the demonstrators shouted, "Death to America!" and "Death to Musharraf!" -- referring to Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf -- and the offices of at least one U.S.-backed aid organization were ransacked and set ablaze.

    On Monday, as the PR situation deteriorated, the protests were demoted to Page 10, but the only note of doubt was a comment that, "U.S. intelligence sources were uncertain about the identities of those killed and about whether Zawahiri was among them." You had to wait until paragraph 10 to hear that unsupported doubt. While the story was on Page 10, I seem to remember it getting a somewhat, er, larger, headline on the website.

    Two days later, also on Page 10, the emphasis remains on the negative: we didn't get Zawahiri, and there were demonstrations:

    U.S. intelligence sources said Tuesday that they were increasingly certain a missile strike in Pakistan on Friday had failed to kill Ayman Zawahiri, second in command of al Qaeda, but regional officials in Pakistan said the attack had killed four or five other foreign Islamic extremists who were attending a dinner in a village near the Afghan border.

    The Pakistani report bolstered earlier U.S. assertions of strong pre-strike intelligence that a group of al Qaeda figures was in the immediate area. But political condemnation and confusion continued in Pakistan over the CIA-ordered strike, in which 13 to 18 civilians, including women and children, were also reported to have died.

    Finally, today, when the news is actually confirmed as being good, it barely merits 225 words, and gets demoted to page 16. Really:

    A senior Pakistani intelligence official who also spoke on condition of anonymity said Pakistan had received convincing reports Wednesday confirming that at least three al Qaeda operatives were killed, including Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, who uses the alias Abu Khabab al-Masri. The United States has posted a $5 million bounty for the reputed training camp leader and expert in explosives and poisons.

    The intelligence official also said Abdul Rahman Maghribi, the son-in-law of Zawahiri, was killed. Maghribi was believed to have been al Qaeda's chief of propaganda for the region. A key operative in Afghanistan's Konar province, Abu Ubayida Misri, also died, the official said.

    Now, if we can only get Abu Shwarma and Abu Falafel, we'll be in good shape.

    December 29, 2005

    Nothing New at the NSA

    It's not as though the NSA hasn't been listening to Americans' international phone calls for a long time.

    I just finished buying a car, and just about every salesman I dealt with was ex-military. One of them, trying to warm up, got to talking about his rotation out at the NSA. He recounted in some detail a conversation between an overseas soldier and his stateside wife, and then how they left the circuit open, and heard the wife invite her boyfriend over.

    This was, I note, a couple of days before the Times printed the details of the currently-controversial program.

    December 23, 2005

    Tom Daschle, Strict Constructionist

    And legislative historian, too:

    As Senate majority leader at the time, I helped negotiate that law with the White House counsel's office over two harried days. I can state categorically that the subject of warrantless wiretaps of American citizens never came up. I did not and never would have supported giving authority to the president for such wiretaps. I am also confident that the 98 senators who voted in favor of authorization of force against al Qaeda did not believe that they were also voting for warrantless domestic surveillance.

    Warrentless. But not domestic, and not surveillance.

    Senatitis Comes Early...

    ... to Colorado's former Attorney General:

    "The president could have gotten permission (for wiretaps) from the FISA court," Salazar said Monday, noting the secret federal court was establish for intelligence purposes. "There is a court procedure for this. It's a very important question whether the president has broken any laws in ordering this surveillance and the American public needs to know the truth."

    Salazar sent a letter to Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Monday, saying the FISA legislation allowing secret surveillance and searches requires FISA court approval.

    "The administration's reported assertion that it did not do so because it was inconvenient to do so at least arguably constitutes a violation of federal law that should be investigated by Congress," he wrote.

    On the radio, I also heard a radio snippet of him saying that he didn't know of any legal precedent or statute under which such surveillance would be legal, which is a much stronger statement. Also a much more ignorant one.

    Now, this comment came a couple of days ago. But at the very least, it implies a need to issue pronouncements on subjects where the Senator hasn't got a clue yet. I know he claims to be a supporter of the Patriot Act, possibly a holdover from his selective law-and-order days here in Denver. But he's also an attorney, has attorneys on staff, and could at least do a little background research before opening his mouth.

    Even if it's only reading this and this. Waiting for the latter would have delayed the Senator's Olympian comments for all of one day, although he would have missed the Sunday papers, to be sure.

    December 20, 2005


    One of the reasons that the wiretap story has gotten so much attention is the initial and ongoing NYT and WaPo characterization of it as "domestic spying." Since the phone calls were all international, this is perhaps 50% true and certainly 95% misleading.

    Among those most disappointed must the the Air America folks. For a while there, they had hope that someone might actually be listening.

    December 13, 2005

    Day By Day By Ramadi

    The good news: a top al-Qaeda terrorist has been arrested in Ramadi, apparently turned in by the locals. So while there's more reason for optimism, there's also reason for caution.

    But let's go back a couple of weeks, to the beginning of December. At that time, there was sort of a town-meeting, organized by US forces but supposed to be representative of city. The Post reports that during the meeting, gunmen, presumably al-Qaeda, were firing mortars at the meeting and shots in the street.

    They also report that many of the attendees were referring to themselves by their former ranks in Hussein's military. Now when an old Confederate soldier refers to himself as "Colonel" at an 1890s barbecue, it's pretty harmless, but there's a lot of evidence that a lot of these guys really mean it.

    If Buckley is right, and the insurgency is a combination of al-Qaeda and Baathists, it may be the Baathists who turned them in, or encouraged people to do so. It may also be that people in this tribal society are tired enough of the al-Qaeda-type shooting up the joint that they're looking to the Baathists to maintain order after we're gone from Anbar.

    If that's true, the Baathists will have secured a political base by keeping order - exactly the situation we're looking to avoid. Never mind that for now, they're participating in the process. To me, that suggests that they (along with that Man of the People, al-Sadr) have just figured out the way to keep us happy and to get us out is to run in the elections. One of the great lessons of the 20th Century is how easy it is for totalitarians to hijack the democratic process, gain key ministries, and then overthrow the whole thing by force.

    Keep your eye on the ball.

    December 7, 2005

    Dean: Bush as Nixon

    Vietnam managed to consume two presidencies - Lyndon Johnson's through failure to win, and Richard Nixon's through his own paranoia. Ironically, President Nixon and General Creighton Abrams had a winning strategy, but the Left still manages to think of Vietnam as Nixon's war. That's how they want you to think of it, too.

    Earlier, I posted that the Democrats seem to think they can recreate their short-lived success in 1974 by turning President Bush into President Nixon. Howard Dean's infamous radio interview with WOAI seals the deal.

    First, there's the quote about troops levels. No, not the Democrats' "plan" to redeploy (remember when they ridiculed Ronald Reagan for "redeploying" troops off the coast of Lebanon?). The talk about troops killed. Reuters and even ClearChannel itself have quoted Dean as saying:

    "I've seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam. Everybody then kept saying, 'just another year, just stay the course, we'll have a victory.' Well, we didn't have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening."

    Well, not exactly. WOAI has an MP3 of the interview, and what they present as one quote is actually two with a little surgery:

    I remember going through this in Vietnam, and everybody kept saying, "yeah, just another year, we're going to have a victory." Well, we didn't have a victory then, and it cost us 25,000 more American troops because people were too stubborn to be truthful about what was happening.


    I've seen this before in my life, and it cost us 25,000 brave American soldiers in Vietnam and I don't want to go down that road again.

    Now, when I was growing up, quotations marks actually meant that you were, well, quoting someone, as in, transcribing the words that actually came out of his mouth. Apparently, to ClearChannel or Reuters, quotation marks are an excuse to redact and comment. This conflation has caused a great deal of confusion. By starting with the beginning of the second quote, they've led most radio producers to air the second quote. When people go to the story, they think that Reuters just made up the "additional" part out of whole cloth. In the first quote, Dean does in fact say "25,000 more American troops."

    But the misquote itself is still wrong. The way Reuters "quotes" Dean, he's saying that we were "too stubborn to recognize what was happening," meaning that we were misleading ourselves. In fact, Dean is quite clearly saying that Nixon then and Bush now were and are "too stubborn to tell the truth," that they are deliberately misleading us.

    Then, there's the matter of where the number 25,000 came from. In fact, about 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam. Dean's starting to count casualties when Nixon took office. Even then, Dean gets it wrong by 25%; about 20,000 American troops died after Johnson left office. That's true even if you put Nixon in the White House while Kerry wasn't in Cambodia collecting magic hats.

    This becomes clear from Dean's answer to the first question put to him, about prewar intelligence:

    What's happening now, oddly enough, there are so many parallels to the Vietnam era, it's a little scary. And we see, uh, what we see is very much like what was going on in Watergate. The Watergate burglary, for example, happened before the election but the President wasn't forced to resign until afterwards because there was so much additional information.

    Turns out there's a lot of good evidence that the President didn't tell the truth, uh, when he was asking Congress to give him the power to go to war, un, and, uh, but a lot of that didn't come up until after the election was over, so I think that what the President's finding now is that now that the election is over and the sort of "he said, she said" nature of the discussion is gone that there's a whole big body of evidence that suggests that the President was not truthful with the American people and that's pretty convincing evidence and that's why it's all coming back up again now.

    Are the Democrats trying to lay the groundwork for impeachment? Quite possibly. Remember, it was only the honorable actions of Republicans like Howard Baker that made Nixon's impeachment possible. By repeating, first as stray thought, then as suggestion, now as established fact, the notion that BUSH LIED!!!!!, the Democrats hope to make it impossible for Republicans to stand up and say otherwise.

    By ignoring this part of Dean's comments, Reuters and ClearChannel do another service to Dean. They make it appear that the suibstance of his remarks was focused on the Democrats' evolving "plan" to take credit for Pentagon strategy. So when the White House reacts to the comments as a whole, the headline writers respond with "White House Brutally Attacks Dean's Constructive Criticism of War's Progress." It lets Dean operate under the radar, getting in punches all over the country, building a case for impeachment, but throwing the flag on the retaliation.

    December 4, 2005

    "Scoop" Lieberman

    Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson was every Cold War Republican's favorite Democrat. Jackson managed to get the One Great Issue of the day - the struggle against the Soviets - right, while being a prominent member of the party that got it catastrophically wrong. It's primarily for this reason that Sen. Joseph Lieberman has been compared to him. Even as the names have changed (well, most of the names, anyway), and his party gets this war wrong, too, Sen. Lieberman, almost alone has been reliable on the war.

    The problem is, Jackson't legacy was decidedly two-sided. His common sense seemed to stop at the water's edge, especially where oil was concerned. Jackson spent most of the 1970s helping to ensure gas lines, odd-even license plate days, and the election of Ronald Reagan. Jackson introduced the price-control legislation in 1973, and then in 1975, when President Ford tried to get it repealed, his response, according to David Frum in The 70s:

    By proposing decontrol, Jackson said, Ford was "working hand in hand with the major oil companies to push the price of oil up and up and up."

    And the New York Times reported that in April 1979, Scoop was there to oppose Jimmy Carter's(!) Nixon-in-China moment, when he finally phased out controls.

    Turns out Joe Lieberman shares this - trait - with Jackson. Lieberman has co-sponsored no fewers than four windfall profits bills (SR 1631, S Amdt 451, S Amdt 2587, and S Amdt 2626), and one price control bill (S Amdt 2612, proposed by Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, who ran on her business experience). (Hat Tip: George Will)

    Lieberman has his eye closely on oil, and realizes that China and the US are liable to end up at war over it unless something is done. (What he doesn't seem to realize is that that's probably ok with China. They think they're playing the role of the US to our Japan circa 1940.) But he seems to think that the way to handle it is to let China sign what amount to very long-term futures deals, while removing exploration incentive for our own companies.

    Lieberman's right on one Big Thing, but he's following his party's tradition a little too closely on another.

    December 2, 2005

    American Jews & Israel: A Vicious Circle

    Over at the American Thinker, Clarice Feldman has noticed a disturbing trend - the re-emergence of the so-called "dual loyalty" accusation, the myth that American Jews are appendages of the Israeli Foreign Ministry first, Americans second. (That this myth has been perpetrated by Citizens of the State Department and Citizens of the World, whose own loyalty might be questioned, is ironic if not surprising.)

    At the same time, the Israel Project has commissioned a survey which finds that American Jews, while strongly supportive of Israel, don't spend a lot of time actually defending it in conversation.

    No doubt, some of this reticence comes from wanting to avoid arguments with non-Jewish co-workers and friends, many of whom have been fed a on steady diet of the Crescent News Network. At the same time, I can remember growing up being confronted with the dual-loyalty question, and having to find an answer. So there's some reason to believe that many American Jews, even if they don't doubt their own loyalties, don't want to push the question for fear of having it doubted by others.

    This silence lets hostile Muslim-American and Arab-American groups have it both ways. Their existential opposition to Israel is overwhelmingly more monolithic and intractable than is American Jewish support for Israel. But the repetition of the Bie Lie of Jewish Dual Loyalty makes it possible for the LA-area leader of CAIR - a group whose loyalty lies solely with Islam and not at all with America - to accuse Frank Gaffney of being in the pay of the Israeli government on the air. Gaffney's more than able to defend himself, but many more of us are not.

    The problem is that by lying low, we don't reverse the problem but reinforce it. After all, if your opponent is silent on a question, the most natural thing in the world is to assume that they're hiding something. When Jews do support Israel, their arguments are immediately suspect because of who they are. In effect, failing to support Israel now makes it much harder to do so later, when that support may be even more critical. After all, what happens if a democratic Lebanon and a democratic Iraq still find themselves opposing Israel? You'd better have serious arguments ready, and you'd better have an audience willing to take them seriously.

    Right now, evangelical Christians are among the most vocal and strongest supporters of Israel. In fact, this support, while welcome, may be allowing some Jews to duck their responsibilities to hone arguments and engage in debate. After all, the obvious answer to the dual-loyalty charge is twofold: 1) there are Jews who don't support Israel much, and 2) there are non-Jews who do. But ultimately this is not their fight. It saddens and perplexes the evangelicals I know when it turns out that Jews don't automatically rise to defend Israel. Americans will eventually tire of fighting for someone who won't take risks for themselves, no matter the eschatological consequences.

    This is still a reversible problem. And the best way to reverse it is for American Jews to have confidence in the rightness of Israel's cause, and to be willing to defend it when necessary.

    The Time Warp Continues

    For the AP, there's never a lost opportunity to turn Iraq into Vietnam. Now, Saddam's WMDs are the same thing as the Gulf of Tonkin, only worse:

    WASHINGTON - A spy-agency analysis released Thursday contends a second attack on U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin never happened, casting further doubt on the leading rationale for escalation of the Vietnam War.

    Much as faulty U.S. intelligence preceded the invasion of Iraq, the mishandling of intercepted communications 40 years earlier is blamed in the National Security Agency paper for giving President Johnson carte blanche in the conflict.

    There's more than one parallel here, and it goes to the blinders the AP is wearing when it reports on either war. The idea that America was going to go to war over the Gulf of Tonkin alone is absurd. Unless there was a much more serious threat, like the notion that Communists were going to overrun southeast Asia (which they did), a couple of bullet holes in the side of a ship weren't going to goad this country into a 10-year, 500,000-man commitment half a world away.

    Lkewise, the AP assumes that the sole rationale for invading Iraq was WMDs. In fact, the administration made a much broader case for war, including known cooperation with al Qaeda (although not on September 11), known support of terrorism, plotting to subvert and eventually repeal sanctions, and that little matter of shooting at our planes.

    In fact, this is part of a deliberate leftist strategy to turn Iraq into Vietnam, winning the war on the ground while undermining it at home.

    "The parallels between the faulty intelligence on Tonkin Gulf and the manipulated intelligence used to justify the Iraq war make it all the more worthwhile to re-examine the events of August 1964 in light of new evidence," said researcher John Prados.

    Prados is a specialist on the Gulf of Tonkin at George Washington University's National Security Archive, which is not affiliated with the National Security Agency, and which pressed for release of the documents through Freedom of Information requests and other means.

    Prados has done a fair amount of historical research on Vietnam, which I'm certainly not qualified to judge. I will, however, point to this article in which he claims that the Winter Soldier Dog & Pony Show hasn't been discredited.

    More importantly, Prados has been peddling the "manipulated intelligence" line for some time now, with several articles and a book out on the subject. He obviously believes that focusing attention of the Gulf of Tonkin right now is a good way to further embed the Iraq=Vietnam meme in the public mind.

    At the same time, Prados isn't completely nuts. He does have some useful questions about the nature of the Iraqi resistance - he believes, plausible enough, that the insurgency is really a diverse set of guerilla groups with the common goal of defeating us.

    Still, when a guy has a vested interest in pushing historical parallels to his current conspiracy theory, which just also happens to be the subject of his not-so-bestselling book, you'd expect the reporter to point those out.

    Unless he's antiwar. And unless it's the AP.

    December 1, 2005

    Kadima Platform Emerges

    Like a bad penny, Shimon Peres just won't go away. Even though he has quit the Labor Party, he would join any new Sharon government as "senior minister in charge of peace talks with the Palestinians and developing the Galilee and Negev regions." Showing a dangerous ignorance of recent history, "Responding to charges that Peres would scare right-of-center away voters from Kadima, a Sharon associate said, 'Peres has joined us, not the other way around, and he has to accept our platform.'"

    This is the man who set about undermining the foreign policy of a government he belonged to.

    Then again, maybe it's not an ignorance of history, but part of an emerging platform for Sharon's new Kadima party. Consider the following:

    Meir Sheetrit, the Transportation Minister and Likud veteran who has joined Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new Kadima party, believes that not a "single additional house" should be built in Judea and Samaria because the "true Zionism of tomorrow" is to settle the Galilee and the Negev.


    He indicated that he thought it would be "fair enough" were Israel to permanently control the 5%-10% of the West Bank covered by the major settlement blocs.

    But "from my point of view," Sheetrit stressed in the interview, "People who want to build homes should build only in Israel. Build in the Negev and the Galilee. I think that the true Zionism of tomorrow is not to build a single additional house in Judea and Samaria. Only in the Galilee and the Negev."

    In my view, this begins to form the core of a dangerously delusional foreign policy for Israel - the adoption of the notion that the Palestinians and the EU will let Israel move "Forward" (the English translation of "Kadima") in peace, and focus on its internal growth.

    In fact, the EU has already recently been making troubling noises about Jerusalem. Perhaps Sharon is hoping that sufficient Israeli resolve will result in the EU pressuring the Palestinians to accept "facts on the ground." I wouldn't hold my breath.

    November 30, 2005

    It Really Is All One War

    You know those new hostages in Iraq? The ones whom the Washington Post describes as working for a "peace" group? You know, the one with lots of experience going into war zones?

    Turns out they've got lots of experience in one particular war zone that the AP doesn't bother to mention, and it's earned them a pretty interesting set of friends:

    On 30 November 2005 the National and Islamic Forces in Hebron held a press conference to ask for the release of four CPTers being held by an Iraqi armed group. They released a joint statement expressing their "sorrow at the kidnapping of four of the peace advocates from the CPT in Iraq."

    The first speaker was Sheikh Najib Al Ja'abri, who hosted the press conference at the Ali Baka'a Mosque in the Haret e-Sheikh neighborhood of Hebron. He spoke of his warm sense of working together with CPTers over the years. The second speaker was Abdul 'Alim Dana of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, followed by Fahmi Shahin, Coordinator of the National and Islamic Forces in Hebron, representing the Palestine People's Party. (emphasis added -ed.)

    Here's the JCPA backgrounder on these charmers.

    Look, I hope they alll get back safely, although it's probably too much to expect that they'll have learned anything from the experience. After all, they're not anti-war; they're just on the other side.

    November 28, 2005

    Strange Bedfellows

    One idee fixe of the Left, presented not only without evidence, but in the face of established fact, is that Saddam Hussein would never have cooperated with religious zealots like Bin Laden because of ideology.

    In my copious free time, I've been reading Paul Johnson's magisterial Modern Times, which contains some fascinating echo for our own time on just about every page. The Versailles Treaty imposed severe military restrictions on Germany, which the Prussian-led military worked hard - through several constitutions - to evade. Including the following:

    The help [by Germany to Bolshevik Russia] took the immediate form of Freikorps officers, munitions and in due course, industrial expertise in building new war factories. The last point was vital to the Germans, who under the Versailles Treaty had to dismantle their armaments industry. By secretly coaching the Bolsheviks in arms technology and developing new weapons in Russia they were maintaining a continuity of skills which, when the time was ripe, could onve more be openly exploited back at home. Thus a strange, covert alliance was formed, which occasionally broke surface...a working relationship of generals, arms experts, later of secret police, which was to continue in one form or another until 22 June 1941...The deeper irony is that this was a marriage of class enemies: what could be further apart than Prussian generals and Bolsheviks? Yet in the final crisis and aftermath of the war, both groups saw themselves, and certainly were seen, as outlaws. There was a spirit of gangster fraternization in their arrangements...

    Of course, the 9/11 Committee found exactly such a relationship, and the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes has been documenting it for years. Now, it appears that the religious zealots running Iran have been cooperating with the self-consciously godless Communists running North Korea.

    So now, there's a Spectrum of Fraternization, where entites that are really far apart, like Iran and North Korea, can cooperate, and entities that are really close together, like Iran and Al Qaeda, can cooperate, but somewhere in-between, corresponding exactly to whatever foreign policy threat we're facing at the moment, is a zone of non-cooperation.

    Makes you kind of question the whole thesis, doesn't it?

    November 27, 2005

    Local ADL No Better

    Sometimes, when a national organization goes off the rails, there's hope that sanity will bubble up from the local chapters. If that's going to happen with the ADL, sadly, it's not going to start from Denver. The local ADL chapter has decided to adopt a local imam's absolutist line when it comes to Islam and terrorism, deciding that it's more important to try to isolate Tom Tancredo than to isolate terrorists:

    What began as a search for common ground between Congressman Tom Tancredo and Colorado interfaith leaders has disintegrated, with the two sides unable to agree on a joint statement about religion, terrorism and retaliation.

    For more than two months, the Colorado Republican and a group of Muslim, Christian and Jewish representatives tried to broker peace after Tancredo suggested it was acceptable to bomb Muslim holy sites in response to terrorist attacks.

    Not only did the envisioned statement crumble over a few words but the religious leaders came away even more upset over Tancredo's comments linking Islam to the French riots and to a Sept. 11 memorial.

    "To me, the problem is not where the statement broke down," said Joyce Rubin of the Denver office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), part of the interfaith group.

    "The problem is that Congressman Tancredo continues to characterize and blame a whole religion and a whole group of people based on the actions of a few extremists and hasn't apologized for it," Rubin said.

    The interfaith group included Shiite Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni, Rima Sinclair of Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism, and Methodist minister Chuck Mowry of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.


    Tancredo and the group agreed on several points, including:

    a whole religion, race or group should not be condemned "for the actions of a few misguided individuals"; all religions deserve respect; violence against innocent people in the name of advancing religion is unacceptable; and the security of America is everyone's responsibility.

    The rift opened over Tancredo's insistence on a section stating: "Places of worship which do not offer refuge or financial or political support to persons conducting or planning acts of violence deserve both respect and protection in any conflict that might erupt in combating terrorism."


    "He was adamant bringing in concepts that are abstract and you could not define," Kazerooni said. "He is using these few words as a way of preventing an agreement."

    First of all, look at who the ADL's in bed with here. Imam Kazerooni, who can barely speak the word "Israel" without descending in paroxysms of rage, has never publicly lent his name to any ADL effort to condemn Muslim or Christian anti-Semitism. A Google search for his name and the ADL, absent the Tancredo negotiations, turns up nothing relevant.

    As for the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, a quick search of their policy statements reveals support for C&D, support for gay marriage, support for gay partners' names on birth certificates, support for gun control, and fans of Jim Wallis. None of this is surprising; it merely indicates that the Christian leg of this trio is typical of the deracinated, content-free religion-as-social-work that the mainstream churches have become. (Appropriately, the site's only section devoted to religion, something called the "Religious Foundations Project," currently has no postings.)

    Undefinable and abstract concepts are the essence of diplomacy. They let both sides declare victory and save face, because each side knows that the other will be around for a while, and may come in useful some time in the future. The fact that Kazerooni is using these as a reason to walk away speaks volumes about what he's really after - Tancredo's admission to a thought crime.

    In fact, though, it's not the abstraction and lack of definition that has Kazerooni worried. It's that banning political and financial support to terrorists actually adds definition to "responsibility" and "security," requiring something - anything - on his part. I don't for a minute think that Kazerooni is personally writing checks to Hamas. But it doesn't sound like he's very interested in catching those who are.

    This is further bolstered by the shock and horror at connecting Islam to the riots in France. This, despite considerable | evidence of Islamist interference and opportunism surrounding them.

    That the ADL is participating in this charade, designed to humiliate the Congressman rather than produce a productive statement, is shameful and a betrayal of its actual mission. Don't they have better things to do?

    November 22, 2005

    BBC: Israel Defends Self, Violates International Law

    The BBC has a funny view of international law - make sure the obligations fall on Israel.

    Yesterday, Israel responded to a broad Hezbollah attack - including artillery-supported cross-border raids - by, well, responding:

    Hizbullah launched a failed attempt to kidnap soldiers Monday in an assault on Mount Dov and the northern town of Rajar and a coordinated mortar and rocket barrage on northern Galilee towns and kibbutzim.

    A fierce Israeli response killed four infiltrators and struck at Hizbullah targets in south Lebanon, but at least 12 soldiers were wounded and a house severely damaged in Metulla by Hizbullah mortar fire.

    Now, here's the BBC on the matter:

    Israeli troops have killed three Hezbollah fighters during a guerrilla attack near the Lebanese border, which also left several Israelis wounded.

    It was the heaviest fighting in the disputed Shebaa Farms area since 2000, when Israeli troops left south Lebanon.

    Hezbollah fighters launched a major assault on Israeli army posts, triggering retaliatory air strikes.

    Israel captured the area from Syria in the 1967 war but it is now claimed by Lebanon with Syria's backing.

    Eyewitnesses reported at least 250 explosions in an intense two-and-a-half hours of rocket duels.

    Scores of fighters were observed taking part in the Hezbollah operation, which Lebanese security sources said was aimed at taking Israeli hostages.

    Israeli aircraft overflew south Lebanon as far north as Tyre, in defiance of repeated calls by the United Nations for an end to violations of Lebanese air space.

    Israeli TV said Hezbollah's artillery barrage was designed to divert attention from a raid on the Druze village of Ghajar to capture Israeli soldiers.

    The majority of residents in Ghajar are reported to have taken Israeli nationality after Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967.

    The water-rich Shebaa Farms area lies at the convergence of Lebanon and Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    The UN has ruled that the area belongs to Syria - not Lebanon - and says its fate is linked to the Golan Heights.

    In 2004, UN Resolution 1559 called for the disarmament of Hezbollah, but the Lebanese government has so far refused to act.

    So, in 246 words, the Beeb manages to:

    1. Start the story with Israel killing Hizbollah fighters
    2. Mention twice that Shebaa farms is "disputed," while leaving until the next-to-last paragraph the news that the only people disputing its status are those who want to keep killing Israelis
    3. Refer to Israeli overflights as "defiance," while waiting until the last paragraph to note that the Lebanese government apparently has different definitions of "sovereignty" for different parts of its territory
    4. Not note the irony in those two facts.
    5. Ignore completely Hizbollah rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in towns far from the attempted raids...
    6. ...leaving the impression that almost all the fighting was at Shebaa Farms

    Naturally, it's not only the BBC. Reuters does pretty much the same thing, waiting 10 paragraphs to note the nature of the "dispute" over the area.

    November 21, 2005

    Remembrance of Disengagements Past

    One of the refrains from the Left about Israel's disengagement from Gaza was to compare it to Lebanon. After all, the argument went, since Israel pulled out from southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has been quiet. Obviously, the violence there was solely a result of Israel's occupation.

    Not now:

    Following an afternoon of escalating violence along the northeastern border between Israel and Lebanon, residents of the north from the Mediterranean to Mount Hermon were ordered into bomb shelters Monday evening for the first time in years.

    In the latest development, Hizbullah extended the fighting across the entire northern border, as mortars landed near the towns of Nahariya and Shlomi.

    Earlier in the evening, mortar and Katyusha barrages hit the northern Galilee towns of Kiryat Shmona and Metulla during which one house in Metulla was directly hit by a Katyusha. While family members were in the house at the time, no injuries were reported. Extensive damage was caused to the building.

    While it's tempting to think that everything your enemy does is in response to what you do, this may or may not have anything to do with Israel's announcement of early elections next March.

    More importantly, it should remind us that the Islamist war on Israel isn't circumstantial, but existential.

    November 18, 2005

    Blowing Smoke

    An Italian film crew claims that the US military indiscriminantly blanketed civilians in Fallujah with the white phosphorus during last year's assault on the city. The Denver Post picks up the Colorado angle on the white phosphorus non-story, and while it impeaches the credibility of the film's star witness, it buries the lead, and leaves most of the background fabrications intact.

    Here's the big news. The "witness," Jeff Englehart, can only claim to know that 1) white phosphorus was used in the attack, and 2) someone inside the city got caught in it:

    Englehart said Thursday that some of his statements were taken out of context. He maintained that he believes white phosphorus killed civilians, though he never saw anyone burned by it while in Fallujah.

    "I never personally did," he said. "That's where the ... documentary misquoted me. They took that out of context."


    "I know I heard it being called for on the radio. That's the only proof that I have, and I talked to a reconnaissance scout after the siege while we were still in Fallujah. He said they called in for white phosphorus on human targets," Englehart said.

    Englehart said an Italian reporter asked him during a five-hour interview in August whether he had seen innocent civilians killed in Iraq. Englehart said he had. Englehart said the producers of the Italian documentary took his answer to that question and edited it in after a question from a reporter about whether he had seen women and children killed by white phosphorus.

    "It wasn't very good journalism," Englehart said. "It's about 80 percent true."

    Sounds to me like it's about 0% true. It ought to be the lead of the story, and it ought to be the headline.

    (Also, Washington Post military affairs blogger William Arkin takes the claims at face value, while appearing to hedge his bets on its legality. He lumps various governmental responses together, assuming that any given briefer has perfect information, and that, for instance, the State Department can speak for the DoD. According to this logic, I suppose I should just skip the intermediaries and claim that the WaPo takes the claims at face value. Naturally, if white phosphorus isn't a chemical weapon - and it factually isn't - then we would deny having used "chemical weapons," until it became clear what the hell the accusation is.)

    But again, as with so many attempts to turn the US Military into a marauding gang of war criminals, there's just no there there.

    Here's the DenPo again:

    The use of white phosphorus is not banned but is covered by Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. The protocol prohibits use of the substance as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations and in air attacks against military forces in civilian areas. The U.S. is not a signatory to the convention.

    Here's Snapping Turtle on that:

    I've seen a lot of people claiming that the 1980 Incendiary Weapons protocol of Geneva forbids the use of white phosphorus against civilians. It does not. It forbids the use of "incendiaries," and specifically excludes weapons like WP where the incendiary effect is a secondary effect of smoke production (incendiary weapons by definition are those weapons designed to create fires... WP occasionally will start fires, but it's not very reliable in that role... generally it just creates a lot of smoke). Whether the U.S. has signed it or not is irrelevant.

    As for how the weapon was used, there's been some confusion. Apparently, the State Department, as the Turtle puts it, managed to make things worse by confusing phosphorus with magnesium, and claiming rounds that make smoke were being used for illumination. (Cough.) The military claims that it was using WP to smoke out defenders from hardened positions, and it's certain that some of those defenders happened to be standing a little too close to those shells when they went off. For further common-sense rebuttals, see tjic and Mudville Gazette.

    Murtha: Porkbusters Target?

    Yes, I know this is a cheap shot, but as long as we're playing offense here, maybe someone should ask Murtha about this US News article from May, about the NDIC. Seems as though Murtha was learning a few lessons from another "conservative" Democrat:

    Pork? In the beginning, the Johnstown center did have some friends in the White House. With the blessing of President George Herbert Walker Bush, then drug czar William Bennett proposed the creation of the NDIC in 1990. Its mission: to collect and coordinate intelligence from often-feuding law enforcement agencies in order to provide a strategic look at the war on drugs. But the Drug Enforcement Administration, worried that its pre-eminent role in the drug war was slipping away, openly fought the idea. So did many on Capitol Hill, arguing that the new center would duplicate the efforts of existing intelligence centers, notably the El Paso Intelligence Center, operated by the DEA. With little support in the law enforcement community, the NDIC looked all but dead. Enter Congressman John Murtha. The Pennsylvania Democrat, who chaired the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense, tucked the enabling legislation for the center into a Pentagon authorization bill, with the caveat that it would be placed in his district.

    The center was troubled from the start. Murtha's new drug agency was funded by the Pentagon, but the Department of Justice was authorized to run it--an arrangement bound to cause problems. "All of us wanted the NDIC," says John Carnevale, a former official with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as the drug czar's office is known. "But none of us wanted it in Johnstown. We viewed it as a jobs program that Mr. Murtha wanted [for his district]."

    Murtha bristles at implications that the Johnstown center is a boondoggle. "They say anything we do is pork barrel," he fumes. The congressman argues that the federal government should spread its facilities around the country, citing the security risk of a centralized government and cheaper operating costs elsewhere. But "obviously," he says, "I wanted it in my district. I make no apologies for that."

    Headquartered in a renovated department store downtown, the center has brought nearly 400 federal jobs to Johnstown, a struggling former steel-mill town. Law enforcement agencies, ordered to send employees to the new center, had trouble finding skilled analysts or executives who would agree to live in Johnstown. Even the bosses didn't want to go. The first director, former FBI official Doug Ball, traveled back and forth from his home near Washington. His deputy, former DEA agent Jim Milford, did the same and made no bones about it. "I've never come to terms," Milford says, "with the justification for the NDIC."

    I wonder if those "cheaper operating costs" include all the gas and rubber being burned in I-70 and the Pennsy Turnpike. I used to work at NDIC for a government contractor, and I would drive up and back each week, spending three, sometimes four nights at the lovely downtown Johnstown Holiday Inn, all expenses paid by you. It was the Monkey's Paw version of, "I'd like a job with travel."

    To be honest, we all thought it was part of a good fight, but I didn't see anything particularly urgent going on there, and I certainly didn't see any former steelworkers holding down analyst positions. Maybe we should take the money spent at NDIC, and spend it on winning the war.

    Then again, maybe that's what Murtha's worried about.

    November 17, 2005

    Faster, Please

    Iraq may be the central front in the War on Radical Islam, but there should be no doubt about who the central enemy is. Iran's leader has told the Palestinians to be patient for just a little while longer, the Badr Brigade is busy giving the Iraqi government a bad name, and the Iranian armed forces are essentially fighting a proxy war against the British and us in Iraq.

    Today, FrontPage publishes an interview with a former UNSCOM inspector. While his comments about Iraq have gotten most of the attention, this paragraph seems to have immediate relevance:

    It was probably on my second inspection that I realized the Iraqis had no intention of ever cooperating. They had very successfully turned The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections during the eighties into tea parties, and had expected UNSCOM to turn out the same way. However, there was one fundamental difference between IAEA and UNSCOM that the Iraqis did not account for. There was a disincentive in IAEA inspections to be aggressive and intrusive, since the same standards could then be applied to the members states of the inspectors. IAEA had to consider the continued cooperation of all the member states. UNSCOM, however, was focused on enforcing and verifying one specific Security Council Resolution, 687, and the level of intrusiveness would depend on the cooperation from Iraq.

    (Hat tip: Powerline)

    Note that right now, today, as Iran either nears a bomb or bluffs its way to more time, the IAEA is the organization responsible for enforcing their cooperation, as task at which it has completely and utterly failed.

    This is a real threat. Here. Today. Now.

    If the Senate Democrats were part of a serious party, they'd be paying attention, prodding the Administration, turning up the heat on real, rather than imagined, enemies. But they have no agenda for dealing with Iran, any more than they have for dealing with Iraq. Their vocabulary for dealing with enemies doesn't extend past the international alphabet soup that already doesn't work. Any more than their worldview allows for the existence of actual enemies.

    So it's not only that they're reduced to Orwellian rewritings of history, using selective readings that do little more than prove that all intelligence analysis is a judgment call, that you can always find someone who disagrees. (See Joel Engel, Norman Podhoretz, Stephen Hayes, and others for more complete rebuttals.) It's that they fundamentally don't see anything wrong with trying to cripple the Administration diplomatically, or keep it from acting effectively.

    I'm sure that when they wake up to newscasts talking about the former city of Tel Aviv, they'll be full of remorse.

    Until the next news cycle.

    November 13, 2005

    Egypt Opposes Democracy - State Department Disappointed

    Egypt has torpedoed a US diplomatic initiative to expand democracy in the Middle East:

    In a surprise move, Egypt, which accounts for more than half the Arab world's population and is the second-largest recipient of U.S. aid, derailed the Forum for the Future by demanding language that would have given Arab governments significant control over which pro-democracy groups would receive aid from a new fund.

    Fortunately, the US let the conference break up without agreement, rather than cave to Cairo on this one.

    Why, oh why do we continue to believe that despotisms will ever support efforts to undermine them? I'm sorry, Mr. Morris, but the more Condi Rice acts like Brent Scowcroft, the less she looks like a President.

    November 9, 2005

    Iran: Worse Than You Think

    How is that possible? Well, it turns out that the conference at which the Iranian President declared his intention to, uh, redraw the map of the Middle East has a website. I admit, I'm at something of a disadvantage here, since most of the juicy bits are in either Arabic or Farsi, but they do have an English section.

    Now, the English section doesn't actually have much English, which ought to be a tipoff that we're not likely to get the subtle, nuanced, witty political discourse of Jonathan Swift or Chuck Schumer. Instead, we get a lot of cartoons and pictures. Now admittedly, the state-sponsored conference & rally garnered fewer people that typically show up when a guy with a bullhorn yells "panty raid" at a frat party, but this is what the Iranian government wants you to know about them:


    OK, ready?

    First of all, anyone care to tell me now that anti-Zionism isn't anti-Semitism? The Jewish noses all look like they were borrowed from Jimmy Durante, and I haven't seen that many black coats since, well, shul this weekend, which is kind of the point. Moreover, the Jews-not-in-uniform are all religious Jews - haredi - as though that were the driving ideology of Zionism. Aside from the endless irony of that assertion, what on earth is going on here?

    These are Jewish representations, that have nothing whatever to do with the secular Jewish state and parties that runs the show. Now, maybe the mullahs just have an affinity for guys with beards dressed in black caftans, but by picking religiously Jewish symbols, they make it clear who exactly in their eyes is providing the intellectual backing for Israel. They make Judaism their enemy, and legitimize attacks on Jewish targets all over the world. So when it comes to criticizing Israel without being anti-Jewish, apparently that memo wasn't written in Farsi.

    The other message is that War on Israel is all about the kids. But only very special kids. White ones. How many Arab kids have you seen with freckles? Now we know what's substituting for all those English words they left out. And for those of you who still think that the Religion of Peace is also the Religion Without Racism, check out this winning entry from a government-sponsored contest on, ahem, "Justice." (Speaking of Justice, or rather, not speaking of it, those crickets you hear are the Jesse Jacksons, Al Sharptons, and Cynthia McKinneys.)

    As a side note, the URL is right there on the poster. Here. Small print at the bottom. Evidently a little too small for most western reporters to read.

    (Democratic) Party Like It's 1973

    Harry Reid's tantrum the other day certainly reads like a bill of particulars in the court of public opinion:

    The manipulation of intelligence, to sell the war in Iraq, Vice President Cheney is involved in that. The White House energy policy, that puts Big Oil ahead of the American consumer, Vice President Cheney is behind that. Leaking classified information to discredit White House critics, the Vice President is behind that. Halliburton, contracting abuse, the list goes on and it goes on. Certainly America can do better than that.

    Leave aside that there's not a single sentence that's not demonstrably false. It doesn't matter. The Democratic Party is now attempting to create a series of unchallengable orthodoxies in the public mind. Iraq was a mistake, if not a moral obscenity. The war was conducted for Big Oil, and at the behest of corporate slavemasters. The Bush administration, having not found either hidden underground terrorist enclaves, and not found WMD, clearly told untruths during the runup to the war. Therefore, BUSH LIED about those things. What's that you say? We saw the same intelligence and came to the same conclusions? Well, then, Bush, er Cheney, must have manipulated the intelligence. From there, it's a short step to simply having lied us into war.

    There's no question that the Democrats seek to fan a general discontent into a general rage. That this strategy will forfeit Iraq and make action against actual enemies like Iran, Syria, and North Korea all but impossible is beside the point.

    Whether or not it comes to actual impeachment, the Democrats seem to think it's 1973 all over again. They can attack and either remove or neuter a Vice President (although it was easier then, since they had Agnew's fingerprints on the money envelopes), and then reduce a President to impotence or remove him. Then, as now, allies of good faith will be abandoned to barbarians. Then, as now, the Party has no strategy to confront an existential threat to the country.

    Should they gain power in 2008, that will all too tragically obvious.

    November 8, 2005

    How Do You Say "Protection" In Arabic?

    Yesterday's Wall Street Journal discusses the role of French Muslim groups in trying to calm the situation in Paris and around the country, and how they stand to enhance their status. While there's no evidence that they're actually inciting the rioting, that might be something to keep an eye on.

    Everyone understands that the riots are fed - at least in part - by the insular character of these Muslim immigrant communities. But the Islamists, and indeed most mainstream Muslim leaders in Europe encourage that very isolation. In doing so, they'll be helping to perpetuate the situation that requires their aid. In the US, we call this sort of thing either "the welfare state," or "organized crime," and in France, it has an element of both.

    If the French government finds itself relying on these groups to restore order, and in turn, taking their advice on how to treat the immigrants, it will only be encouraging a obviously dangerous trend, not solving the problem.

    November 4, 2005

    Intifada Parisienne

    Did you notice how the Israeli government hasn't issued any statements criticizing French police tactics?

    Also, remember that it was in a Paris hospital that Arafat died. Trouble just seems to follow this guy around, doesn't it?

    October 23, 2005

    Some Rachels Are More Equal Than Others

    Tom Gross notes in this week's Spectator (London) that for some reason, if you're Jewish, your death in a terror attack is likely to get a lot less attention ("Dead Jews Aren't News"):

    ven though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.

    Rachel Corrie, on the other hand, an American radical who died in 2003 while acting as a human shield during an Israeli anti-terror operation in Gaza, has been widely featured in the British press. According to the Guardian website, she has been written about or referred to on 57 separate occasions in the Guardian alone, including three articles the Saturday before last.

    The cult of Rachel Corrie doesn’t stop there. Last week the play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, reopened at the larger downstairs auditorium at the Royal Court Theatre (a venue which the New York Times recently described as ‘the most important theatre in Europe’). It previously played to sold-out audiences at the upstairs theatre when it opened in April. (It is very rare to revive a play so quickly.)

    On 1 November the ‘Cantata concert for Rachel Corrie’ — co-sponsored by the Arts Council — has its world premiere at the Hackney Empire.

    But Rachel Thaler, unlike Rachel Corrie, was Jewish. And unlike Corrie, Jewish victims of Middle East violence have not become a cause célèbre in Britain. This lack of response is all the more disturbing at a time when an increasing number of British Jews feel that there has been a sharp rise in anti-Semitism.

    Thaler is by no means the only Jewish Rachel whose violent death has been entirely ignored by the British media. Other victims of the Intifada include Rachel Levy (aged 17, blown up in a grocery store), Rachel Levi (19, shot while waiting for the bus), Rachel Gavish (killed with her husband, son and father while at home celebrating a Passover meal), Rachel Charhi (blown up while sitting in a Tel Aviv cafe, leaving three young children), Rachel Shabo (murdered with her three sons aged 5, 13 and 16 while at home) and Rachel Kol, 53, who worked at a Jerusalem hospital and was killed with her husband in a Palestinian terrorist attack in July a few days after the London bombs.

    While we have the blogosphere to cover these things, the British press apparently has been less than vigilant. While Charles Johnson has been all over the story about the ISM & its anti-Semitism, and exactly what it was that Rachel Corrie was "defending" when she put herself in front of a bulldozer,

    However, in many hundreds of articles on Corrie published in the last two years, most papers have been careful to omit such details. So have actor Alan Rickman and Guardian journalist Katharine Viner, co-creators of My Name is Rachel Corrie, leaving almost all the critics who reviewed the play completely ignorant about the background to the events with which it deals.

    No wonder he's a natural for Snape.

    Sadly the American press doesn't do much better. The Denver Public Library has an extensive full-text newspaper search archive. Here's the score:

    Rachel Corrie 685 Rachel Thaler 3 Rachel Levy 19 Rachel Levi 2 Rachel Gavish 0 Rachel Charhi 0 Rachel Shabo 26 Rachel Kol 2

    Even this overstates the case. Most of the mentions of Miss Levy come either from reports of the First Lady condemning terror attacks, or from an infamous New York Times piece equating her and her murderer. Rachel Shabo is only mentioned in the context of the Israeli response to the infiltration that killed her, again, carefully juxtaposed to her neighbors' desire for "revenge." And Rachel Kol is only mentioned in one news piece (the other is an oped by Uri Dan), which focuses on the Palestinians' anticipation of the Gaza pullout.

    Rachel Corrie's memory is the beneficiary of an active propaganda campaign, by her parents and by sympathetic leftists, aided and abetted by a media too lazy and biased to question the official story line. Meanwhile, if Israel doesn't respond, or doesn't capitulate, its victims barely get a mention at all.

    October 11, 2005

    How To Make a Plane Disappear

    B Relevant is asking questions about a Cessna Citation that was stolen from St. Augustine, Florida, showing up at Gwinett, Georgia. The question I'd be asking is why anyone would take a plane to Gwinett?

    B Relevant asks:

    What is particularly troubling is that police have "narrowed down" the plane's arrival time at Briscoe Field in Gwinnett County to between 9:00 PM Saturday and 6:30 AM Sunday. That is a mighty big window of time. How is it possible that we can't say more precisely when this plane landed?

    and Michelle Malkin asks:

    Ok. How does a $7 million charter jet just disappear from Florida and mysteriously appear in Atlanta without anyone finding out until after the plane has landed and the pilot(s) disappeared?

    To answer B Relevant, because the towers at both Gwinnett and St. Augustine are only open from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM. It may sound like a big deal that Gwinett is Georgia's third-busiest airport, but almost all the traffic runs through the Atlanta airport, and Peachtree-DeKalb, which has twice the traffic of Gwinnett.

    That also begins to answer Ms. Malkin's question. The plane didn't land in Atlanta, it landed well outside Atlanta. If the plane took off under Visual Flight Rules, it wouldn't have needed to file a flight plan. It could simply have taken off from St. Augustine and flown to Gwinnett. At 275 nautical miles, that would just about have been enough time for a Citation to get its engines warm.

    It wouldn't have needed flight following. This means that it would just have shown up on Jacksonville and Atlanta regional radar as another blip, more or less indistinguishable from any other plane, except perhaps for its speed. And again, given the distance, it wouldn't have to be flying that fast to begin with.

    Why do they say it was a pilot familiar with Gwinnett? Because there are obstructions at both ends of the single runway. And because you need to know where to park the thing once you land, so as not to arouse suspicion.

    In fact, if I had made this flight in a Cessna C172, there would have been nothing at all unusual about it, except for the fact that my medical is out of date, and I live in Denver. What is unusual (other than someone desperately wanting to get to Gwinnett) is that they did this in a Citation, whose almost always flies under Instrument Flight Rules.

    Let's also remember that the tower is not responsible for airport security: it's responsible for maintaining separation between planes on the ground and in the air. When the Gwinnett controllers reported for work in the morning, assuming the plane wasn't parked in the middle of the runway, they would have probably shrugged. And the St. Augustine controllers almost certainly wouldn't have even noticed that one was missing. Trust me on this: controllers are plenty busy booting up systems and looking over the morning's departures & arrivals without having to take inventory of the hundreds of airplanes based on the field.

    This is a charter jet, evidently not based at St. Augustine. It was a holiday weekend. It isn't the kind of plane you take out to practice turns about a point. So again, it's not surprising that the pilots parked the thing, went home, and didn't notice until they arrived Monday that their ride was gone. (Memo to Pinnacle Air: make sure your pilots lock the doors when they park the plane. Maybe get some better locks.)

    To be honest, I don't want a system where the airport or the government is responsible for the planes.

    Hat Tip: InstaGlenn. PhotoDude also has a good post and some good comments.

    October 3, 2005

    Another Clinton, Same Blair

    This speech by Hillary Clinton is interesting:

    President Abbas must be held accountable for any and all actions that take place under his leadership. The disengagement has shown a bright spotlight on the Palestinian people and their leadership. The excuses have had to end. They now have responsibility for Gaza. The world will see whether they are capable of exercising responsible leadership. Will they be able and willing to pursue a path of peaceful coexistence? Or will they be overrun by the extremists the terrorists, whose only vision of the future is the destruction of Israel? Will they build roads and infrastructure or will they loot buildings, greenhouses and synagogues?

    ... a nuclear-armed Iran would shake the foundations of global security to its very core.

    Mind you, I don't think a President Hillary Clinton would actully do anything to hold the Palestinians accountable, nor let Israel do so for very long. Nor do I think she's got either a clue or an interest in confronting the mullahs or toppling their regime. This could simply be more triangulation.

    Or, she could really remember the shellacking she took at that post-9/11 benefit concert. And if she is serious, the risk for the country is a dramatic shift to the left domestically, covered by a serious foreign policy.

    I've believed for some time that Hillary believes that 2008 will look a lot like 1968, with herself taking the place of Nixon.

    Via the new Weekly Standard blog.

    September 29, 2005

    Oooh, Are You Sure That's Good Idea?

    If there's one writer I wouldn't want to piss off, it's Mark Steyn. And yet, displaying that keen sensitivity the UN is so known for, that's exactly what some UN representative to West Africa has decided to do. Apparently, there's not enough AIDS, corruption, death, disease, and famine nearby to keep him busy. And evidently, there's not much going on outside the UN compound, either. This "diplomat" has decided that he's got nothing better to do than pick a fight with a journalistic Vegematic.

    The Spectator published a piece (go there, now, before it disappears into the archives) by one "Andrew Gilmour is senior advisor in the United Nations Office for West Africa, based in Senegal. These views are his own, rather than the UN’s." Mr. Gilmour's feelings are wounded by Mr. Steyn's insistence on calling attention to his employer's, ah, shortcomings. The fact that Mr. Gilmour can't actually tag the UN with opinions offered in its own defense should tell you all you need to know about the UN's spine.

    I suppose I should actually wait for the Great Canadian-Belgian Himself to stoop to conquer. But what's the point of blogging if you don't blog?

    So let's start at the top:

    Question: what do the Taleban, Serb war criminals, al-Qa’eda, Rwandan genocidaires, the Ku Klux Klan, the Kach movement, the Japanese Red Army and the Janjaweed of Darfur have in common? Answer: two things actually. The obvious one, plus the fact that — like the Spectator columnist Mark Steyn — they all passionately abhor the United Nations, see it as an obstacle to their particular agenda and call for its abolition.

    Question: what does this question tell us about the UN? The obvious, plus the fact that it always has to bring some Jews into the mix just to prove how evenhanded an honest broker they are. Just for the record, perhaps Mr. Gilmour could answer what the old Soviets, the Chinese communists, the Arab League, Robert Mugabe, and Fidel Castro have in common? Aside from the obvious.

    The UN has always evoked violent passions, especially among its detractors. Its defenders tend to be rather calmer.

    Yes, I remember the calm, civilized anti-war demonstrations invoking the UN's name leading up to the Iraq War, and the calm civilized way in which the demonstrators alternately hanged and burned Bushitler in effigy. Perhaps Mr. Gilmour has in mind the calm disdain that the bureaucrat always has for those whose money he's living off of. I suspect that if his beloved institution were ever threatened with anything worse than being ignored (although that's quite bad enough, thank you very much), you'd see a little less calm in the ranks.

    Then, this:

    In the West, the common criticism is that the UN is a slow, excessively bureaucratic talking-shop urgently in need of reform since, as it is now set up, it doesn’t have the capacity to confront the great challenges of the coming decades. For those opposed to the war in Iraq, the UN’s fault is that it couldn’t stop the invasion; for those in favour that it didn’t support it.

    Along with time, Senegal must have a straw surplus, because Mr. Gilmour's been very busy making men out of it. Certainly one criticism in the West has been that the UN is inefficient. But that's hardly Steyn's problem with it. It's not that it doesn't have the "capacity to confront challenges." If that sentence means anything - an open proposition, to be sure - it's that the UN can't confront evil. But here's a UN defender openly demonstrating his disdain for the sort of moral clarity that could make the UN something worthwhile.

    Look at the list Gilmour starts out with. Of those groups, there's not a single one that the UN has had a role in subduing. Not one. Aside from some no-doubt-very-calm tsk-tsking, the UN was either late to the party or never got around to RSVPing in a single case. Gilmour may take pride in the UN's list of enemies, but its complete impotence in deaing with them shame one capable of it. The UN didn't support the invasion becuase it doesn't really think Saddam was all that bad. In that sense, its position on the war was a symptom, not the disease.

    Gilmour defends the regional voting bloc system as the moral equivalent of Samuel Gompers and the 10-hour day. It's the only way that the poor countries of the world can stand up to the rich and powerful. I suppose the analogy works if you equate governments with countries. But the problem with the regional blocs isn't just that they don't vote with the US. It's that they allow the governments as good at stealing elections as stealing cash to claim moral equivalence. In what possible sense can these governments be said to represent the interests, much less the wills, of their populations?

    You think this really bothers the UN's supporters? A substitute b-school professor of mine really couldn't have cared less that the Human Rights Commission boated Libya, Sudan, and Cuba among its members. And all of Gilmour's protests that the replacement will be better can't hide the fact that he ignores the little inconvenience that agreement was achieved at the price of actual change. The new body, the Human Rights Council, doesn't have anything in its charter that keeps creeps like Castro off the board.

    Most importantly, in one of the most radical restatements of international law of the past century, the entire UN membership went along with a declaration accepting the right of the world community to take military action in the case of governments failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. Prime Minister Tony Blair was right when he said, ‘For the first time at this summit we are agreed that states do not have the right to do what they will within their own borders’. No longer will governments who carry out mass butchery be able to hide behind the mantra of national sovereignty to prevent the UN interfering in their crimes. This is a reform as profound as it gets.

    What? Oh, I'm sorry, I couldn't hear while I was yawning. Does Gilmour really believe that any government thinks this applies to them? The only clear loser here is - surprise, surprise - Israel, because it's the only country that a UN subjected to the whim of the Arab League can consistently get a consensus to condemn. Why not a consensus to invade? Aside from the humiliation of getting its butt kicked all the way back to Turtle Bay.

    In the end, Gilmour can only make his points by charicaturing Steyn's, allowing him to dismiss or ignore the moral bankruptcy of his employer.

    September 27, 2005

    What's a Little Stoning Among Friends?

    From Tom Shales's WaPo review this morning of the new Geena Davis vehicle, "Commander-in-Chief":

    But when she gets tough, she's formidable, even if "the issues" in the pilot are not exactly earth-shaking. Chief among them is the case of a young woman in Nigeria who, by local custom, is to be buried up to her neck in sand and stoned to death for the crime of having sex and giving birth before marriage.

    Maybe such things really happen, but by leading off the series with it, Lurie suggests that the show won't be about a female president and her problems of adjustment but instead about a myopic busybody who sees herself as a feminist first and leader of the people second (or third).

    Ah, that old "local custom," kind of like deep-fried Adulteress-On-A-Stick at the Minnesota State Fair.

    In fact, the northern third of Nigeria has been suffering under a brutal form of Sharia (that's Islamic Law to you, Tom), of the sort advocated by people who did a little earth-shaking piloting of their own about 4 years ago. They use the flimsiest of pretexes to terorrize local Christians, rampage through the streets, pass death sentences on government officials, ban women from public transportation, and yes, sentence women to be stoned to death. (And this is what they do to people they're trying to help.) It's a wonder he didn't accuse Geena Davis of just doing it for the oil.

    Maybe he'd be more upset if he saw what they did to gays, Lawrence notwithstanding.

    Tom, I realize that most of the time you're fixated on the color of the President's ties, so perhaps the problem might seem more serious if the man fighting it were wearing red. But if you're going to write about political shows and pass judgment on "issues," it might help if you actually knew something about the issues.

    Cheap Imitations

    So in checking this morning's emails, I found a gem in there from something called the "Arabs Against Discrimination." Going to their website, we find that:

    Arabs Against Discrimination is a non-governmental organization legally registered in France. AAD was established by a group of concerned Arabs with the aim of exposing and combating all forms of discrimination and racism which contravene human rights covenants and established international law, using all possible media, legal and cultural channels to achieve this aim.

    AAD really should be renamed "Ayman George's Bad News from Israel." It's little more than a news digest from the English-language Israeli press, a cheap, lazy imitation of MEMRI, trying to portray Israel in the most unflattering light possible.

    Ayman George is the administrative conatct for AAD, listed in Giza, a suburb of Cairo, now swallowed by the expanding city. A quick Google search reveals that there's an Ayman George who edits and reports for the "independent" Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram. MEMRI reveals that, in fact, Al Ahram and its foundation are Egyptian government organs. Al Ahram also publishes a monthly Arabic-language digest of the Israeli print media. Ayman George may be a common Egyptian name, but I didn't get any hits other than this one, and it sure is a good fit.

    So, this means that the Egyptian government is clumsily and covertly subsidizing a project whose job is to discredit Israel. Given that Israel actually has a free press, they just pick out anything that's not complimentary, and file it "discrimination again [insert non-Jewish group here]."

    Is anyone surprised that such a group would interpret "human rights convenants and international law" as applying only to Jews, and only to Israel?

    No, I didn't think so.


    Power, Faith, and Fantasy

    Six Days of War

    An Army of Davids

    Learning to Read Midrash

    Size Matters

    Deals From Hell

    A War Like No Other


    A Civil War

    Supreme Command

    The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

    The Wisdom of Crowds

    Inventing Money

    When Genius Failed

    Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

    Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

    How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

    Good to Great

    Built to Last

    Financial Fine Print

    The Day the Universe Changed


    The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

    The Case for Democracy

    A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

    The Italians

    Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

    Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

    Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud