Friday, July 22, 2005
Temporary Leave of Absence
I'm off to a week-long business conference in Washington D.C., followed by a week of intensive coaching and singing with my quartet. I'll be back on August 10th or thereabouts.
In the meantime, thanks for stopping by... especially if you're not a regular reader of this blog. (My thanks goes out to those who are regular readers... both of you.)
Hang tight; I'll be back.
Clearing An Explosives Dump in Mosul
The temperature down there was at least 20 degrees beyond any measure of hot. The air was filthy with dust, darkness, and the menace that wafted like a stench off all the bombs, bombs, and more bombs. I was sitting on bombs and missiles that I could not identify--there was not enough floor cleared for three men to stand. There were mortar rounds, some with fuses, some without. Some fuses had no safety pins. Some rounds had charges on the fins.
Wow. As Smash says, thank God that there are brave men willing to do this dangerous work.
Soldiering is a dirty, nasty, unpleasant job, and often in ways you wouldn't expect. The confident opinions of pacifists notwithstanding, it's by no means all about killing people. Soldiers spend a lot of time digging ditches, marching with heavy packs that they hope they won't need, and just doing anything that needs doing.
In this case, what needed doing was dealing with an underground explosives cache. Left to itself, it was both a source of munitions for the enemy and a ticking time bomb; throw a grenade inside, and you'd bring down several city blocks. So the cache needed to be emptied, a little at a time, with great care taken:
The soldiers inside the hell hole passed up a green ball, about the size of a large cantaloupe, and handed it over to another soldier who began to walk with it, and he said, “I wonder what this is?” Someone looked and said, “STOP. Don’t move. Don’t put it down. You hear what I say? Don’t move. Wait right here.”
By all means, read the whole thing. You'll be impressed, as I am, with the quality of work American troopers are doing under harrowing circumstances.
And let's offer a vote of thanks to Michael Yon for writing about it!
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Courtesy of Tim Blair, this remarkable admission, by Pamela Bone of Australia's The Age, of the need to take terrorism -- and the cultures that foment it -- more seriously:
It is almost certain now that last week's attacks on the London underground were carried out by young British men of Pakistani background. British intelligence estimates that 10,000 to 15,000 Muslims living in Britain support al-Qaeda.Well, I'm glad to see that we have your attention! No, this does not necessarily mean the death of multiculturalism -- as Pamela Bone points out later in her editorial, different cultures blend well and non-violently in other places. America has seen its share of immigrant violence, to be sure, but hardly any anti-American terrorism.
It was not supposed to be like this. The idea was that tolerance and liberalism towards migrants would in turn make migrants tolerant and good citizens. Instead, Britain became a haven for terrorists. Did the bomb blasts in the London Underground mark the death of multiculturalism?
Perhaps the difference is in what 'multiculturalism' means. Does it mean, as in America, that you may bring your culture with you but that you are expected to behave in public as an American? Or does it mean, as in Britain, that you may transplant your home country and pretend, like some macabre Accidental Tourist, that you've never left home at all?
(We do indeed struggle with these issues in America. But the default assumption is not that we must bend over backwards to accomodate the immigrants; if anything, we expect, in most cases, for them to accomodate to the majority that's already here. For example, not long ago there was a court case, in Florida I believe, in which a young Muslim woman sued for the right to wear a veil for her drivers-licence photograph. Unless I'm very much mistaken, she lost... and for good reason. Not only does a veiled photo make the driver's licence useless as an ID, it's ridiculous on the face of it. Driving is not a universal right, and more than one Muslim country forbids women to drive altogether. Be grateful, in other words, that the United States allows you to drive, anywhere you want, wearing what you like, veiled or unveiled. If that doesn't appeal to you, you can always let someone else do the driving.)
By all means, read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Mary Madigan, writing at www.deanesmay.com, has more to say about liberals waking up to the dangers. She also compares terrorism to piracy, rather interestingly, and points out that we stamped out piracy successfully... by the same sort of means we'll need to stamp out terrorism.
(Can we stamp out terrorism? Yes, we can. It will take decades, and it will require the determined cooperation of all of terrorism's potential victims, which is all of us. But yes, we can. As Bill Whittle eloquently explained: the terrorists, sowing death all around them and not afraid of death themselves, cannot be deterred. But they can be defeated. And the people they depend on for survival can be deterred.)
By all means, check it out.
Acting on an idea by Alan K. Henderson -- namely, what phrases cause one's own Web site to come up as #1 on Google? -- it seemed like fun to throw in some catch phrases and see if they stick. For example:
Bite the wax petunia. BITE THE WAX PETUNIA!!!
(Say it a few times with me. Go on, it's relaxing.)
For the record, it's not quite original. I got it by conflating this with this:
Let me also add: CURTAIL THAT LADDER! DO IT NOW!
And one other -- avoid unreasoning salami on toasted rye. (Inspired by my lunch.)
Just one more, which I can't believe shows no matches on Google: barbershop withdrawal. (Ask any barbershopper who hasn't sung in a while -- barbershop withdrawal can be a serious thing.)
Thanks for listening, folks. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled programming.
UPDATE: As of July 23rd, all four phrases are now Googlewhacks -- A Google search only finds them once. (We'll see how long that lasts!)
John Roberts Nominated for Supreme Court
Yep, it's official: Bush has nominated a judge to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. (Not bad -- SDO'C announced her resignation, subject to a successor being approved, on July 1st.)
And, after endless speculation, the nominee is...
...John Roberts, of the D.C. Court of Appeals.
I haven't written much about this, frankly, because I have little to say. I've been going to PowerLine for info, among other places -- who better to ask about lawyers than another lawyer?
I've been getting frantic e-mails from Planned Parenthood ("Act Now! We can still save Roe v. Wade!"), starting about half an hour after Bush's announcement last night. Frankly, I'm not convinced. Overturning Roe v. Wade would be a serious undertaking under any circumstances, so it's by no means certain that it would even be attempted; besides, we have more serious things to worry about right now, don't we? (And, I must admit, I'm far from convinced that overturning Roe v. Wade would necessarily be a bad thing. I've read some convincing arguments that Roe v. Wade was precisely the catalyst for the Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice battles we've been fighting for the last thirty years. Sending abortion rights back to the states would by no means be a bad thing, and it certainly wouldn't be the End Of The World As We Know It... which is how Planned Parenthood talks about it.)
And I have to say that I'm sick of judicial attempts, successful or not, to legislate from the bench. That's not their job. (Remember, I live in Massachusetts... where gay marriage was legalized from the bench, not by the State Legislature. We can argue some other time about what a great thing gay marriage is; I still feel that this was not the way to do it.) So if John Roberts lives up to his billing as a constructionist -- one who will interpret the Constitution as written, rather than trying to see new things in it if you hold it up to the light just right -- then I'll be happy.
In the meantime, I stand by my feeling that, in the long run, nobody knows what a Supreme Court Justice will do after ten years on the bench! As too many bloggers have pointed out, Justice O'Connor, a semi-consistent liberal voice, was appointed by Reagan, and so on. We can pick candidates apart carefully, analyzing every last nuance of what they have said and not said... but in the end, people do change, and we have no control over that.
So I refuse to get too worked up over this. The Republicans seem confident that they can get Roberts approved by the Senate; good, I'm tired of filibusters too. (I'm especially tired of wishy-washy "filibusters" during which people go home and business continues to be conducted. If you hate what's going on enough to filibuster, I think, you should go ahead and do it the old-fashioned way.)
And if we wind up with a Justice Roberts, well, we'll see in due course of time what sort of Justice he is. I'll wait.
UPDATE: Of course, some people are much more intensely involved than I am. Perhaps too involved...
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
The UN: Now With Color-Coding!
Everyone else is linking to Arthur Chrenkoff's UN Color-Coded Alert System, I know... but it's so good, I don't want to be left out!
I mean, that's just funny! (Almost as funny as "Bert Alert"...)
Monday, July 18, 2005
A Muslim Author Speaks Out
For reasons beyond me, the London Times refers to her (in their headline!) as a 'lipstick lesbian'. (Would they do that for an outspoken Catholic?) Other than that, the article (hat tip: Professor Glenn) is fascinating, and well worth a read:
No wonder Irshad Manji has received death threats since appearing on British television: she is a lipstick lesbian, a Muslim and scourge of Islamic leaders, whom she accuses of making excuses about the terror attacks on London. Oh, and she tells ordinary Muslims to “crawl out of their narcissistic shell”. Ouch."Ouch" indeed. Nothing new here... except that the speaker is a Muslim. (And a Muslim woman at that! Remarkable.)
The underlying problem with Islam, observes Manji, is that far from spiritualising Arabia, it has been infected with the reactionary prejudices of the Middle East: “Colonialism is not the preserve of people with pink skin. What about Islamic imperialism? Eighty per cent of Muslims live outside the Arab world yet all Muslims must bow to Mecca.” Fresh thinking, she contends, is suppressed by ignorant imams; you can see why she has been dubbed “Osama’s worst nightmare”.*grin* Dream on, Osama...
“The good news,” she insists, “is it doesn’t have to be like this.” She wants a reformation in Islam, returning it to its clever, fun-loving roots. “The world’s first ‘feminist’ was an 11th-century Muslim man. Baghdad had one of the first universities in the 9th century; the Spanish ‘Ole!’ comes from ‘Allah’; Islam even gave us the guitar.” But now it gives us the suicide bomber: why?Why, indeed? (More to the point, why are terror -- and oil -- the chief exports of Islam to the non-Islamic world today? This is a question Muslims should be asking themselves.)
It was not always like this -- Islam gave us much more than feminism and guitars. We have much to thank Islam for, in fields as diverse as science and poetry, algebra and art. (Ask any student of poetry about Khalil Gibran or Omar Khayyam... or any linguist about where the word "algebra" comes from.)
And if Muslims today want it badly enough, they can cause their culture to flourish again. Speaking of my own religion, Jews contributed relatively little -- beyond their own communities -- to European culture during the Middle Ages. Jewish contributions to Europe -- during the Christian Era, I mean -- didn't start in earnest until the 19th century, when "emancipation" (as it was then called) opened up previously-forbidden professions and lifestyles to Jews. Jewish contributions to the world at large really got going with the establishment of Israel in 1948. (Mind you, if Muslims want to spark off a new Islamic Renaissance, they don't need a new Muslim state; they already have quite a few.)
Ms. Manji speaks specifically about European treatment of Muslims, too:
“In continental Europe people of faith are regarded as second-class citizens. In America Muslims are allowed to earn their status by competing. In Europe, Britain included, your past establishes your identity much more than your future. If you don’t have the lineage here people might well feel disaffected.” She points out that American mosques display signs proclaiming: “God bless America”; inconceivable here.Amazing. I think I'm going to have to buy her book.
Friday, July 15, 2005
Not much time to write today (or yesterday, apparently)... so let me copy in two links, courtesy of The Professor of Instapundit:
The Washington Post: "Support for Bin Laden, Violence Down Among Muslims":
Osama bin Laden's standing has dropped significantly in some pivotal Muslim countries, while support for suicide bombings and other acts of violence has "declined dramatically," according to a new survey released yesterday...Very good news indeed, if true -- and if the trends continue. Let's hope so.
The new poll also found that growing majorities or pluralities of Muslims now say that democracy can work in their countries and is not just a Western ideology. Support for democracy was in the 80 percent range in Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco. It was selected by 43 percent in Pakistan and 48 percent in Turkey -- the largest blocks of respondents in both countries because significant numbers were unsure.
"They are not just paying lip service. They are saying they specifically want a fair judiciary, freedom of expression and more than one party in elections. It wasn't just a vague concept," Kohut said. "U.S. and Western ideas about democracy have been globalized and are in the Muslim world."
And, as Glenn says, bravo for John Howard:
MAXINE McKEW: Prime Minister, if as you say you can't rule out that possibility that we could have potential bombers right here in Australia, what if today's announcement, this redeployment to Afghanistan and our continued presence in Iraq is all the provocation they need?There's a lot more; by all means, read the whole thing.
JOHN HOWARD: Maxine, these people are opposed to what we believe in and what we stand for, far more than what we do. If you imagine that you can buy immunity from fanatics by curling yourself in a ball, apologising for the world - to the world - for who you are and what you stand for and what you believe in, not only is that morally bankrupt, but it's also ineffective. Because fanatics despise a lot of things and the things they despise most is weakness and timidity. There has been plenty of evidence through history that fanatics attack weakness and retreating people even more savagely than they do defiant people.
Oh, and one more for the road. This was written a year ago, but I think is still timely (if not newsworthy). It describes the alarming tendency of the Democratic Party to cater to its own least common denominator, the frothing-at-the-mouth anybody-but-Bush crowd. Yes, there are loonies on the Republican side too, certainly... but the Republican party doesn't kowtow to them the way the Democrats do to theirs.
This bothers me greatly, and not just because I used to consider myself a Democrat. This country needs two vibrant, healthy parties, brimming with ideas to improve our country and the lot of its citizens. Right now we don't have that. And I sure don't believe that the Republicans have all the answers.
Democrats, please wake up. The inmates are taking over the asylum... and they must be stopped. Your country needs you.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
The Saddam - al Qaeda Connection(s)
We've been hearing an awful lot of shrill cries, ever since 9/11, about the failure to find any explicit connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and world terror in general, or to al-Qaeda in particular. The cries go up and down in volume, relative to the daily headlines, but they've been unceasing.
As I found myself saying to people before the United States invaded Iraq, we might never get the sort of documented proof that would stand up in a court of law. For the purposes of going to war, however, we had all the connections we needed:
- Saddam was a known supporter of terror, Palestinian terror in particular; families of Palestinian suicide bombers were heavily compensated by Saddam, even at the height of UN sanctions. There was no telling when the money might go elsewhere.
- Saddam had a known tendency to strike out without warning. He'd done so against Iran in 1980, and against Kuwait in 1990. He'd even viciously attacked Iraqis, using chemical weapons. There was no telling whom he'd attack next, given the whim and the opportunity.
- Saddam had a known antipathy to the United States. He'd tried to assassinate a former President of the United States in 1993; statements and murals denigrating the United States were plentiful in Saddam's Iraq. There was no telling when he'd decide that it was America's turn to become a target.
- Saddam had a known thirst for weapons of mass destruction, and had openly boasted of his WMD programs. His nuclear-weapons potential was seriously delayed in 1982, with the destruction of the Osirak reactor complex; but there was evidence that he had worked hard to restart the program. He was known to have used chemical weapons, and was known to be strongly interested in biological weapons. There was no telling when, aided perhaps by another rogue regime or by an unscrupulous Western power, he might get his wish.
- Finally, Saddam had a known tendency to hide what he had. He was known to lead weapons inspectors around by the nose, enjoying his own game of cat and mouse; perhaps he never expected the world to call his bluff. Regardless, there was no telling what he already had, waiting for an opportunity.
For me, therefore, it was never about connections to al Qaeda. If he needed to find terrorists to do his dirty work for him, no doubt he'd find them, al Qaeda or not.
So how much stronger is the case for war, then, when it turns out that there were connections to al Qaeda?
Claudia Rosett, doing her usual thorough job, writes about this at length in today's Wall Street Journal. Here are a few excerpts:
If anything, Mr. Bush in recent times has not stressed Saddam's ties to al Qaeda nearly enough. More than ever, as we now discuss the bombings in London, or, to name a few others, Madrid, Casablanca, Bali, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, or the many bombings in Israel--as well as the attacks on the World Trade Center in both 1993 and 2001--it is important to understand that terrorist connections can be real, and lethal, and portend yet more murder, even when they are shadowy, shifting and complex. And it is vital to send the message to regimes in such places as Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran that in matters of terrorist ties, the Free World is not interested in epistemological debates over what constitutes a connection. We are not engaged in a court case, or a classroom debate. We are fighting a war.Indeed. And, as intelligence officers the world over understand, finding concrete evidence of clandestine collaboration can be devilishly difficult... and might not help in time to avoid the terrorist strike. People have become quite adept at speaking in code phrases, at using pre-arranged signals, at sending messages through third parties that are obscure to anyone but the intended recipient.
If our intent is to prevent 9/11 from happening again, standard police work won't get the job done.
Actually, there were many connections, as Stephen Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn, writing in the current issue of the Weekly Standard, spell out under the headline "The Mother of All Connections." Since the fall of Saddam, the U.S. has had extraordinary access to documents of the former Baathist regime, and is still sifting through millions of them. Messrs. Hayes and Joscelyn take some of what is already available, combined with other reports, documentation and details, some from before the overthrow of Saddam, some after. For page after page, they list connections--with names, dates and details such as the longstanding relationship between Osama bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Saddam's regime.
The difficulty lies in piecing together the picture, which is indeed murky (that being part of the aim in covert dealings between tyrants and terrorist groups)--but rich enough in depth and documented detail so that the basic shape is clear. By the time Messrs. Hayes and Joscelyn are done tabulating the cross-connections, meetings, Iraqi Intelligence memos unearthed after the fall of Saddam, and information obtained from detained terrorist suspects, you have to believe there was significant collaboration between Iraq and al Qaeda. Or you have to inhabit a universe in which there will never be a demonstrable connection between any of the terrorist attacks the world has suffered over the past dozen years, or any tyrant and any aspiring terrorist. In that fantasyland, all such phenomena are independent events.(emphasis mine)
The Wall Street Journal might not keep that link available (and free) for long. By all means, read the whole thing now.
UPDATE: Norm Geras has more to say, a lot more, on the subject of anti-war apologists:
It needs to be seen and said clear: there are, amongst us, apologists for what the killers do, and they make more difficult the long fight that is needed to defeat them. (To forestall any possible misunderstanding on this point: I do not say these people are not entitled to the views they express or to their expression of them. They are. Just as I am entitled to criticize their views for the wretched apologia they amount to.)He goes on to explore "root-causes advocacy" a bit, as well as a reminder that correlation does not imply causation -- or, as the old saying goes, just because the cat had her kittens in the oven, that doesn't make them biscuits. Ditto for proportional response -- as he points out, if I make disparaging remarks about your mother, and you respond by burning my house down, then yes, I am not entirely blameless... but my remarks don't excuse your actions either.
The plea will be made, though - it always is - that these are not apologists, they are merely honest Joes and Joanies endeavouring to understand the world in which we all live. What could be wrong with that? What indeed? Nothing is wrong with genuine efforts at understanding; on these we all depend. But the genuine article is one thing, and root-causes advocacy that seeks to dissipate responsibility for atrocity, mass murder, crime against humanity, especially in the immediate aftermath of their occurrence, is something else.
In other words, for me to be wronged, and seek redress from you, it's not necessary for me to be perfect. (A good thing, too, because none of us are perfect, are we?) Similarly, the United States didn't need to be blameless before invading Iraq; the scales were unbalanced -- extremely so -- and that was enough.
Norm goes on at some length, but it's well worth it to read it all.
(hat tip: Instapundit)
LATER: It took me a while to realize why that final sentiment sounded familiar to me. I just realized that I'd read about it years ago in Merle Miller's excellent biography of President Harry Truman, Plain Speaking. (I highly recommend the book, by the way, if your interested in a sympathetic portrait of the thirty-third American President in his own words.)
The passage I was invoking came from chapter 33, "The Dean Resigns". I hope Merle Miller (and the descendants of Dean Acheson) will forgive me for quoting directly:
Mr. Truman was a good friend of Justice Brandeis, and when he was in the Senate, he used to go, almost every week, I believe, to the Justice's at-homes. On Monday evenings.Good words to live by, particularly for those of us who must make difficult decisions... or who wish to understand those who do.
It may have been Justice Brandeis who told him, as the Justice once told me, that: 'Some questions can be decided even if not answered.' He meant by that that it isn't always necessary for all the facts on a given situation to be available. They almost never are, perhaps never are. And it isn't necessary that one side be wholly right and the other totally wrong, because that seldom happens either.
It is enough, the Justice used to say, that the scales of judgement be tipped in one direction, and, after a decision is made, he would say, "One must go forward wholly committed.'
And yes, I see an application of this principle to President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq in 2002, despite the fact that many important questions (e.g. WMD) were unresolved. A decision needed to be made, and one was -- not because Saddam was completely evil or the United States totally blameless, but because the scales were tipped, more than enough, to enable a decision to be made. (But you knew I'd say that, didn't you?)
Are We All Israelis Now?
Mark Steyn makes an interesting case, in his article "The Israelification of Europe":
The British and many Continental police forces have long experience of terrorism, and are good – within the political constraints they operate under – at dealing with it. [...] Now, as then, prestige targets will be secured against terrorism, and that will leave soft targets – in a word, you, your morning bus ride, that little restaurant you like. And, as in Israel, Europeans will get used to the idea that every so often, entirely at random, there will be days when your husband or daughter or best friend sets off for work and doesn't come home.More:
It was the late Ayatollah Khomeini who popularized the idea that the United States is the Great Satan – a shrewd shorthand in that it acknowledges not merely that the hyperpower is evil, but that he is a great seducer too. And when one contrasts the vast number of British, European and Canadian jihadists who've turned up in the thick of it in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Israel, Bosnia, Chechnya and beyond with the relatively insignificant number of American Muslims so embroiled, one begins to appreciate that the Great Satan is indeed a relatively effective seducer – at least to the extent that America seems to be doing a better job at assimilating Muslims than Europe or Canada.A good point, and one we don't hear enough of. Sure, I wish American Muslims would denounce terror, unambiguously and more often... but American Muslims, by and large, have not gone to war against the West the way Westernized Muslims elsewhere have. Perhaps America is doing something right after all...
He ends with some unforgettable rhetoric about antisemitism (along with the observation that, regardless of what you think about it, antisemitism has historically been an ideology for losers). Check it out.
Monday, July 11, 2005
As seen at Instapundit, this eye-opening article. The thesis is that, no, the war between radical Islam and the West is not a new phenomenon; we've seen this before. And we can learn valuable mistakes from the ways we handled it last time.
By all means, read the whole thing. It has interesting consequences, both for those who would fight terror and for those who seek to 'understand' the terrorists.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Well, well! Ain't this sweet?
I Googled it because I saw it, today at the supermarket, worn by a young Goth girl one aisle over. (This being Brookline, a young Orthodox Jewish couple was in line ahead of her. I resisted the temptation to ask them what they thought of it...)
It turns out that Ramallah is a heavy-metal band --and, judging from their bio, one that's particularly clueless about international affairs; their knowledge of Ramallah, the city, seems limited to the notion that people sometimes die there. (I can only wonder if even one member of the band has ever visited Ramallah. They should. I found it an interesting place, and no doubt they would too.)
Okay, seeing "Ramallah" as a symbol of miscellaneous random bloodshed -- I don't agree with that, but I can understand it. But "kill a celebrity"? (Are there many better-dead celebrities to be found in Ramallah these days? Now that Arafat is dead, I'm not aware of any.)
My wife and I, chatting quietly in Hebrew, concluded that the young Goth girl with the facial piercings was expressing her "anti-everything" sentiment. You know the sort: "What are you against today?" "I dunno, what have you got?"
As if to underscore the message, they seem to have another T-shirt for sale:
How utterly adorable... a time bomb adorned with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim symbols. (For the record, time bombs have been used in the Middle East for several decades now... used, almost without exception, by adherents of one of those religions. The question of which one may be left as an exercise for the student.)
Have fun, boys. I hope your rage gets you somewhere. If not, I hope you someday contemplate the irony -- you're protesting the bloodshed of a region consumed in rage (at least, as you see it), and your response is... more rage. Do you really think that will help?
Or, to put it another way... is your music, and your rage, what Abraham really wanted?
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Terror in London
London was hit this morning by a coordinated bombing attack, hitting London Underground stations and a double-decker bus. According to Sky News reports (summarized by Smash, among many others), at least 45 people are dead and over 1000 wounded.
Today is a day for flying the Union Jack... and reminding our British cousins that we stand with them.
In this, I speak both as an American and as an Israeli. (Both Israel and the United States began as territories of the British Empire, after all.) Both countries have been hit by terror, albeit in very different fashions... and both countries stand ready to help.
But it's not clear if the British need help. No doubt Tony Blair's government will take swift steps to deal with this; in the meantime, though, Londoners seem to be handling themselves just fine, with traditional British aplomb and dignity.
My hat's off to them. They are made of far stronger stuff than the terrorists realize. As London Mayor Ken Livingstone said:
nothing you do, how many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our cities, where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another... Whatever you do, how many you kill, you will fail.The terrorists have no idea, no idea at all, what they have unleashed. As Winston Churchill is reputed to have said, in response to a similar outrage: "What sort of people do they take us for?"
I suspect that British involvement in the War on Terror has just reached a new phase. Stay tuned.
In the meantime -- pray for England.
UPDATE: Commenter RonF on Smash's site sums it up far better than I did:
The choice is not one of being terrorized or not. The choice is whether you go down fighting or not. Either Western civilization subdues these people, or it submits to them. Those are our choices.
UPDATE II: Via Kim du Toit, the following sublime expression of an Englishman:
Bombs all over London, very little movement other than the sound of the emergency services rushing to the 7 confirmed blast sites.
And you wonder why we fight?
We fought you in the fields of Flanders
We fought you through the fields of France and in the fields and streets of Northern Ireland.
We will fight you on the streets of Basra and if you decide to come to London, we will fight you there.
All of Hitlers bombers and V weapons couldn't daunt us, neither will you.
Ironic that when the G8 leaders are trying to do something about some of the worlds problems, the barbarians are hammering at the gate. Well, open the gate says I and bring it on...we have seen this all before. We have defeated this all before.
Now if you will excuse me, I am going to try and get home to my family.
UPDATE III: Via Dean Esmay, this lovely graphic. (T-shirts etc. are available!)
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
International Kissing Day
Sometimes it seems there's a special day for everything, doesn't it? But that's okay -- as Amber points out, you don't have to buy anything special today -- just show your appreciation for the fine art of kissing. Okay, I'm with that.
She also suggests that she'll link to kissing stories today. I didn't think I had any good kissing stories -- well, not that I was willing to share, anyway -- but I just thought of one, so fine, I'll take the bait. (If such stories don't interest you, feel free to read something else instead.)
Back in 1990 or so, I was dating a woman named Sandy, and on one occasion she, I, and a friend of hers went to the movies. (I'll call the friend "Yael", because that was her name.) As we waited on line in a crowded Jerusalem cinema, Yael suddenly faces me with an anxious serious expression, and she says, "Daniel, kiss me."
Now, being the monogamous sort (then and now), I wasn't inclined to do any such thing -- and it didn't help that Sandy was standing right there! But Yael whispered briefly in her ear, causing Sandy to face me and declare, "She's right, Daniel. Kiss her now."
WELL, then! I'd never been ordered to kiss a woman before... but it seemed only reasonable to follow through, as the saying goes, with feeling. So with one hand on the back of Yael's neck and the other at the small of her back, I kissed her, dipping her nearly to the floor in the process. The result was a somewhat dazed-looking Yael... and Sandy looking at me sharply and saying, "Yes, I asked you to kiss her, but not like that!" (You can't win, can you?)
I later found out that Yael had just spotted her ex-boyfriend in the crowd, with a date... whereupon she felt an urgent need to be seen with someone, too. She assumed that her good friend Sandy wouldn't mind lending her boyfriend out for a moment or two. (What, you think I'm supposed to have a say in this??)
Anyway, there's the story, for whatever it's worth. Now back to your regularly-scheduled programming.
Oh, and go and kiss someone. It's not just a good idea; it's International Kissing Day!
Can You Believe This?
Check this out. Go to Google.com, type "French military victories", and click the "I Feel Lucky" button. I just did (thanks to a commenter at Citizen Smash), and here's what I saw:
(And yes, I know it's a parody site. No doubt if I was French, I'd be offended by this. I must say, though, that for wicked parodies, this one is inspired!)
LATER: In for a penny, in for a pound. Have you ever heard a joke that you knew was too nasty to be considered funny, but it made you laugh your head off anyway? This one did it for me:
Monday, July 04, 2005
Happy Birthday, America!
July 4th, 2005 -- Independence Day, #229. (Or, as my friends and I used to call it, Entebbe Day.)
A bit of appropriate reading material for the holiday (hat tip: Richard F.), titled "George W.'s Quagmire":
Philadelphia, the American Colonies, July 4, 1776 — Leaders of the self-described “American patriots” movement gathered in this Pennsylvania city today to sign an official declaration of their political intentions, despite widespread criticism of a failing war policy and complaints that their military action was launched under false pretenses.
“Here it is, July of 1776, and George W. and his lackeys are just now getting around to declaring what this war is supposedly all about?” complained Loyalist playwright Michael LeMoore. “Washington and his neo-congressionalists rushed us into war at Lexington and Concord, before anyone had ‘declared’ a single word about independence. Face it: George lied, and people died.”
Be sure to read the whole thing.
Later: Here's a more serious perspective on the day:
What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the Crown? To each of you the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock, and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words. Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them?We know of them that they mutually pledged their Lives, their Fortunes, and their Sacred Honor. But it's easy to forget what that means. Certainly they knew full well what they were risking... and many of them lived to see their unspoken fears realized:
Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create, is still intact.How many of us would be willing to risk what they did, with our eyes open as theirs were? It's a sobering thought.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Letter From A Military Wife
As seen on NRO's "The Corner", titled "How the Left doesn't get Red State America". In spite of how this "military housewife" describes herself, I think this needs to be quoted in full:
... I like to see facts presented in a simple, straightforward manner. I have long been baffled as to why some people still do not understand why we are in Iraq. I am "just" a homemaker, most of my time being spent taking care of my husband and my home. But I read, and I listen, and even I have been aware of many of the Iraqi terrorist connections mentioned in your article. So it has been puzzling to me that self-sharpened pointy-headed liberals, like Reid and Gergen and those at the New York Times, so stridently deny any connections between Iraq and al Qaeda. What is the motive? Is it that ignoring or denying the connections frees them from the responsibility of taking or supporting action? Could it be that simple?
Things are pretty simple in my world.
You recognize the connections, you support the action (or take it, if you are able). You don't recognize the connections, you don't support the action.
Men and women rotate in and out of Iraq. We call it "The Sandbox." When they leave, we cry. When they get home, we cry some more. They go off to fight, we hold the fort. Everybody does their job.
The terrorists are bent on attacking Americans. The Americans are going to be either highly trained, heavily armed professionals over there, or happily oblivious, defenseless civilians over here. You choose.
Some say the above is only valid until we are attacked on U.S. soil again. Oh, I don't know. I've kind of enjoyed the last four years of being able to go to Wal-Mart without fear of being blown to smithereens by a suicide bomber.
The media lament the influx of "insurgents" into Iraq. So…the terrorists flooding into the waiting arms of the most lethal military around is a bad thing?
Many want a "timetable" for the end of the war. Me too. As soon as the terrorists announce their timetable for implementing a "Be Sweet to Infidels" policy, we should reciprocate by announcing our timetable for ending the war.
Too many troops killed, they say. Now if the troops are the ones fighting and dying in the war (and they are), and the President enjoys overwhelming support among the troops (and he does), then there must be something the media are missing. Hmmmm…
Too much money spent, they say. There is always a price to be paid. You pay in taxes, the troops pay in blood. You choose. (Also, see above.)
So what is my point? Simply this: The politicians, the pundits and the media need to get out of the military's way and let them do their job. Reid and Gergen and their ilk don't have to worry that they'll be asked to do anything scary if they acknowledge the obvious connections between Iraq and al Qaeda. Lots of people have already recognized them and have volunteered for the scary stuff. It's 9/11, stupid.
Nancy Pelosi says...
"I assume the war in Afghanistan is over, or is the contention that you have [is] that it continues," Nancy Pelosi replied to a reporter on June 22. A few moments later she declared that "[t]his isn't about the duration of the war. The war in Afghanistan is over."Gee, Congresswoman Pelosi... is that anything like "Mission Accomplished"?
On Passover, we remember that "in every age, tyrants have risen up against us to destroy us". But for a while, we forgot just how easy it all was.
Hillel Halkin points out that, no, the attempts to destroy Judaism -- and Jews -- did not go away; they just lay low for awhile. Now they are resurfacing.
The most common defense is to say that one is not antisemitic, but is merely opposed to the senseless violence and hatred perpetrated by Israel against the poor Palestinians. (And yes, this point of view makes a certain amount of sense, although it requires myopia verging on legal blindness. Are the excesses of the Palestinians themselves -- which make Israelis look positively saintly by comparison -- not worthy of condemnation as well?)
Criticism of Israel is legitimate, certainly. But criticism of only Israel -- while ignoring the many countries and regimes that do the very things Israel is (falsely) accused of -- is either dangerously naive or willfully antisemitic. (Take your pick.)
The same applies for cries of "anti-Zionism". Down to brass tacks, people -- Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people, the movement that first established a Jewish state, and since then has been committed to keeping the Jewish state alive and thriving. (Yes, I said the Jewish state; there is no other. I'm not aware of any other major religion that can say that -- we have examples aplenty of Muslim states, Catholic states, Protestant states, Buddhist states, and so on. Nor is any other state on constant trial for its life the way Israel is.)
So. If you don't think the Jewish state has a right to continue as such -- but are perfectly willing for Saudi Arabia to exist as a Muslim state, for Britain to exist as an Anglican state, and so forth -- then why are you singling out Jews for special treatment? Yep, we're back to antisemitism again.
Mr. Halkin makes these points, and more... and points to recent examples, disturbingly evocative of the dark past:
[Russian State] Prosecutor Ustinov has already summoned Moscow rabbi Zinovy Kogan, chairman of the Congress of Jewish Organizations, for questioning in order to determine whether the Shulhan Arukh should be banned for "racist incitement." He took this action after receiving a letter last January, signed by 500 patriotic Russians, calling the Jewish religion "anti-Christian and inhumane" and demanding that the Shulhan Arukh be banned.As Halkin points out, there is precedent for this -- in 1240, Pope Gregory IX ordered an investigation of the Talmud. The result was a confiscation of Talmuds, and a massive book-burning ceremony in Paris. (Yes, this was nearly eight hundred years ago; we Jews have long memories for this sort of thing.)
There are other signs -- the calls to divest from Israel (from the American Presbyterian Church to the British Anglican Church); the refusal of British scholarly journals to publish the work of Israeli academics; the increasing antisemitic attacks against European synagogues and cemetaries; the UN's insistence that Israel must not defend itself against terrorism; and so on.
By all means, read the whole thing.