Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Support Denmark!

Michelle Malkin
has an in-depth discussion of the current "Mohammed cartoon" furor. (Briefly: a Danish cartoonist ran a series of twelve cartoons, depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed in various situations. This has portions of the Muslim world in an uproar, resulting in boycotts of Denmark, attacks on Danes, and the burning of the Danish flag, among other things.)

Ms. Malkin reprints the cartoons, so that we can all see for ourselves. Check them out -- they're not innocent, but they're not that incendiary... particularly compared to the antisemitic and anti-Christian cartoons regularly seen in the Muslim world.

(Later -- originally I did not post the cartoons themselves, but now I think it's important to do so. Here they are. Some extended commentary on how and why they were drawn can be found here.)

Ms. Malkin makes several important points. For example, some Muslims are objecting to the depiction of Mohammed, which is against Islam... but this is, of course, nonsense. (Since when have Muslim laws applied to non-Muslims, except in the fevered imaginations of fanatics who dream of imposing sha'aria over us all?) Ms. Malkin also links to a long list of images of Mohammed, going quite a ways back in history -- and yes, some of the images were drawn by Muslims.

She also points out that the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has courageously refused to capitulate, explaining quite lucidly that, in a democracy, the government does not censor political speech. (If you follow the link, you'll also see that the Danish public are also solidly behind this position. Good for them!)

Does this matter, other than the "theoretical" issue of freedom of speech? Yes, it does. For one thing, it sets a dangerous precedent, in terms of what Islamists will not permit us to say about them (while remaining utterly uninhibited concerning what they say about us). The issue has also gone far beyond the merely theoretical, as Ms. Malkin points out with chilling photographs:

This is a serious issue, and I'm glad that the Danes are taking a stand -- more so, it seems, than the United States did, over that silly flush-the-Koran-down-a-Guantanamo-toilet controversy last year.

Some commenters to Ms. Malkin are advocating that we purchase lots of Danish butter cookies. (Yum!) Others suggest that you buy Lego -- lots of Lego. Or simply show the flag.

Regardless, let's remember the stakes here. No one ever promised Muslims -- or anyone else -- freedom from being made uncomfortable. And a cartoon, published in an independent, non-government-affiliated newspaper, is no reason to boycott an entire country, or to beat up that country's representatives.

Did Israel threaten to boycott the United Kingdom over this cartoon, for example? Or this one? No, she did not. And British antisemitic cartoons are usually pretty mild, compared to those in the Arab press, which amount to "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion for Dummies", in James Lileks' memorable phrase.

Congratulations, Denmark! You proved your bravery, and your humanity in the face of evil, in WWII; and today we can see that you haven't changed. Bravo.

UPDATE: This issue has taken off in many directions. The Islamists' rhetoric has gotten angrier, which is not encouraging; but more and more people are standing up for the Danes, which is encouraging.

(Except for France, which so far seems eager to live up to the stereotypes about her.)

I've added an "I Support Denmark" image to the sidebar, which I got here. (The one below it, in Arabic, links to Ms. Malkin's reposting of the original 12 Danish cartoons.)

I was also toying with the idea of jumping into the fray with my own Mohammed cartoon, but Cox & Forkum have done a much better job than I could ever have done!

UPDATE II: Not all Muslims support the madness of their brethren, thank goodness. Solomonia points to the Free Muslim Coalition, who appear to have their heads on straight here. My buddy Sam is, uh, rather more blunt and graphic on the matter. Start with his "Stop Being Retarded" post and go forward from there. (Not entirely work-safe; don't say I didn't warn you. Have fun!)

UPDATE III: Solomonia links to a Bahrain cartoon in response to the Danish ones:

Akhbar al-Khalij, January 29, 2006 (Bahrain)
As the Islamic world reacted with anger to caricatures
of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper, this cartoon
claimed the controversy was a result of "The Penetration
of Zionism to Denmark." The cheese, shaped like a Star
of David, is labeled "Danish products." The text on
the far left reads, "Boycott it!"

(If you're curious about antisemitism in the Arab world, there's plenty more where that came from.)

The Danes, I hardly need point out, are overwhelmingly not Jewish. (Take another look at their flag.) So far as I know, the controversial Danish cartoonists were not Jewish. So there was no reason to slam them with antisemitic slurs... except that, as Sol points out, in the Arab world, that's the way you insult someone -- by calling him a Jew, or worse yet, a Zionist.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with antisemitic editorial cartoons, is there? Anti-Islam cartoons are abhorrent, but this is just fine... isn't it?



Orson Scott Card on a Withdrawal From Iraq

Orson Scott Card, in addition to being an award-winning science fiction writer, is a lucid thinker and quite the articulate columnist. I added his "Ornery American" columns to my sidebar quite a while back, and I nearly always find his columns (and his books) great reading.

His latest is no exception: Iraq: Quit or Stay? He makes the point clearly, and at great length, what a disaster a premature American withdrawal from Iraq would be. He also has some other points to make along the way:
Since we are not losing, it is hard to see what the people calling for American withdrawal think they are accomplishing.

Every speech by an American leader calling for immediate or early withdrawal leads quite directly to the deaths of more American soldiers. Because our success depends on proving Osama wrong, discrediting him and the other terrorist leaders, and weakening the loyalty of those on the periphery of the terrorist movement.

But every one of those speeches undoes the work of a thousand soldiers. It encourages borderline participants in the terrorist movement to stay involved, because it seems to prove that Osama is right and that makes it look like God is with him and he will prevail in the end.

That's why the terrorists trumpet every one of these speeches to each other as if they were a victory on the battlefield. Because each one of those speeches by an American leader is a victory for the terrorists on the most important battlefield they fight on -- the hearts and minds of the Muslim people.

Even if this war were being badly run, even if the Bush administration was full of liars and incompetents, even if we were losing the war, it would still be shameful for Americans to openly make statements that directly aid our terrorist enemies.

If during the Revolutionary War, members of Congress had made the kind of defeatist public statements that we're regularly hearing from some today, there is little chance that the war could have continued.
(emphasis added)

I agree completely. Don't Murtha, and McKinney, and Pelosi, and all the rest of them, know how often they are quoted on al-Jazeera? And does it not unsettle them, just a bit, to know that?

Card also makes a point that's been troubling me -- how will we stay the course, in Iraq and elsewhere, in January 2009? It seems clear to me that the Democrats don't have many high-ranking contenders with any credibility at all on national security... and the few that do (Joe Lieberman comes to mind) stand little chance of being nominated by the Democratic Party. But I'm not too thrilled by the options on the Republican side either.

Please note: I am not a Republican; I don't believe I've ever said otherwise. I am a strong supporter of President Bush and of most of his policies, but not of the Republican Party in general. Admittedly, the Republicans have a far greater chance of attracting my vote these days than the Democrats do... and so long as the Democratic Party continues bending its knee to the MoveOn.org / Daily Kos fever-swamps, that won't change. But that's not the point. My point is that the United States desperately needs to continue to pursue the terrorists and the regimes that harbor them, possibly for decades to come... and I'm very concerned about where we'll find the leaders to do that.

Would a President Hillary stay the course? How about a President Condi, or a President John McCain, or a President Joe Lieberman? There are arguments in favor for all of them... and I have deep doubts and concerns about all of them too.

To put it differently: can President Bush set his foreign policies so firmly in place, that even a weathervane President, who changes his mind after every poll, would have difficulty changing them? I don't think so... but I sure hope I'm wrong.

In any event, have a look at OSC's latest. He gets off track in a few places, but there's a lot of great stuff there.


Thursday, January 26, 2006


French Priorities

Sorry, but this just made me laugh...

As seen on Instapundit, quoting The Washington Times:
What is so surprising is that Mr. Chirac's government has in the past favored an approach of conciliation or even appeasement toward Iran and the Arab nations. He was, after all, the vociferous foe of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and a hard line against Iran. That approach benefited French companies that were able to obtain lucrative contracts in competition with corporations based in the land of the great Satan. So, what happened? There are two contributing factors. The first is the civil unrest in France several months ago, which involved nightly riots and a myriad of car burnings in many areas of the country. This violence had the same kind of impact upon Mr. Chirac and the French government that September 11 had upon the United States.

In his speech, Mr. Chirac bluntly declared, "In numerous countries, radical ideas are spreading, advocating a confrontation of civilizations." Mr. Chirac now understands the problem. The jihadists are attempting to capture town by town, areas within Western Europe. As one French government official put it, "This is more than a clash of civilizations. It is a cancer within our country that if unchecked will destroy all of France."

With his statements, Mr. Chirac is warning Iran and the Arab countries to desist in supporting and encouraging residents of France who launched last year's attacks and are undoubtedly planning to do far worse. His approach is to cut off terror at the source. This resembles the policy being pursued by the U.S. government, although it is hard to imagine how great the public outcry would be if President Bush threatened to use nuclear weapons.
(emphasis added)

First of all, I'm delighted that Chirac seems to have decided to take the gloves off. (Yes, seems. So far we've heard nothing but talk, and we've seen nothing at all. Because of this, I'm unwilling, as yet, to see this as a new foreign-policy direction for France. I'm certainly not willing to discuss the causes of something that might not even be there, e.g. the "French 9/11" comments above.)

But check out the (unattributed) two sentences in boldface. This is more than a mere clash of civilizations! This could not only destroy civilization as we know it -- why, it might even destroy France!

Those are some interesting priorities you've got there, buddy.



Hamas Wins (And Everybody Loses)

Well, perhaps not quite. As Roger Simon points out, some people do stand to benefit from this. And, as I believe Oxblog was pointing out yesterday, it may well be true that many Palestinians were voting against Fatah, rather than for Hamas, in an effort to rid themselves of the cesspool of corruption that has been their lives for the past ten years.

Well, we all may have gotten more than we bargained for. Hamas says it does not plan to negotiate with Israel; I doubt very much that that will last, but it does set a tone for what follows. (For context on that stance, by the way, have a look at this, the Hamas Martyr's Oath; or you may prefer to read the full Hamas charter here.)

The Palestinian Prime Minister, and his entire cabinet, have despondently resigned, thereby showing themselves to be quitters and cowards. (What ever happened to the idea of continuity of government; of staying at your post to ensure a smooth transition of power; of keeping The People's interests first?)

Meanwhile, a "smooth transition of power" seems unlikely. Roger quotes this AP report, as printed in Ha'aretz:
RAMALLAH - Hours after unofficial results indicated Hamas' clear victory in the Palestinian elections, Hamas supporters poured into the Palestinian parliament amid clashes with Fatah loyalists.

The Hamas supporters then raised the Hamas flag over the building.

The two camps threw stones at each other, breaking windows in the building, as Fatah supporters briefly tried to lower the green Hamas banners. The crowd of about 3,000 Hamas backers cheered and whistled as activists on the roof of the parliament raised the Hamas banner again.

It was the first confrontation between Hamas and Fatah since the Islamic militant group won parliament elections on Wednesday.
Didn't take long, did it?

I went looking for a photo of that, but couldn't find one. In the meantime, here's an interesting photo from the elections:

Fatah supporter outside
a Gaza City polling station

That, according to the Telegraph, is presumably a typical 'Fatah supporter'. (I can't read his headband, but presumably, were he a Hamas supporter, it would be green.)

Yes, he's holding a loaded Kalashnikov, and a custom-modified one at that... and yes, he's a 'Fatah supporter'. (Just remember that Fatah people are supposed to be the moderates in this election.)

I have a feeling that we may yet see the all-out Palestinian civil war that Abbas claims he's been avoiding at all costs. I hate to say it, but Palestinian society may just need that drastic a housecleaning.

Patrick Belton, still blogging for Oxblog on the spot, has a great take on it all:
WELL, THAT WASN'T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN! [...] it became clear in early hours Hamas has won a most solid and unexpected victory, aided by turnout substantially higher in Gaza, its most reliable source of support, than in the West Bank.

It's not clear anyone wanted this, least of all Hamas, who in assuming the administration of the Palestinian national authority's creaking and often corrupt bureaucracy single-handed in a moment when its sole lifeline of European and other international support appears threatened, may just have stumbled into the biggest molasses patch the
Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah has ever faced. Unlike the Lib Dems of 1985, Hamas did not go to its constituencies to prepare for government. It had prepared for a coalition, or possibly pristine opposition, but not this.
Fasten your seat belts, folks. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

The United States and the EU are not happy with this outcome either; I think we'll see some drastically-reduced foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority under Hamas control. And what will Israel do? Well, my guess is not necessarily better than anyone else's. But the smart move would be to stay put... and let the Palestinian infighting go on. (Later: looks like I was right. In today's Israeli Cabinet Communique, as reported by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, it says: "5. Acting Prime Minister Olmert referred to the recent Palestinian Authority elections and directed ministers not to comment on the results.")

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Speaking about not being able to get good pictures... for a brief time, while I was editing this post this morning, my new NeoWorx tracker showed that the fifth most common 'country' for my visitors was... the Palestinian Authority! (The flag displayed was the stock Palestinian flag, formerly the flag of Fatah / PLO. I wonder if a new flag will now be necessary?)

I tried to get a screen shot of it, but wasn't able to do so before it vanished.

In any event, if you're from the Palestinian Authority and you're reading this, please do come in and say hello.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006


A New Link...

...to FactsOfIsrael.com, a site I just discovered. Yes, I'm already linking to some other sites dedicated to the dissemination of factual information about Israel and the Middle East... but there's always room for one more. As the man says, "Truth cannot be too often repeated."

Besides, how can I not link to a site that shows a satellite map of Israel?


And yes, I find it pretty amazing that you can see the boundaries of Israel's border with Egypt from space -- that's the sharp light-dark line on the lower left, separating Egypt's Sinai desert from Israel's Negev. Some of the boundaries of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are visible too, amazingly enough, where some areas have been more heavily cultivated than others. (If I recall correctly, the 20th century saw forests and natural habitats retreating, all over the world, in every country except one. The exception, of course, is Israel. What other country would choose to remember the Holocaust, permanently, by planting a brand-new forest of six million trees?)

Later -- my wife expressed polite disbelief that Israel's national borders would be so clearly visible from space. So she checked it out herself, at ImageAtlas.GlobeExplorer.com -- a site that is, shall we say, strictly apolitical -- and saw those same sharp boundary lines, which become even clearer when you zoom in on them!

Here, have a look at GlobeExplorer's view of the southwestern Gaza Strip, and the border between Israel and Egypt:

Now compare that with a MapQuest map of roughly the same scale:

UPDATE: Some more links:

Good that they tried. Too bad that they missed.

Courtesy of Oxblog and Dartblog, a fascinating look at the same political cartoon, drawn three times from three different perspectives -- the American Left (National Security threatening Civil Liberties, while Terrorism looks on approvingly); the American Right (Civil Liberties tackling National Security, with the latter watching in stunned horror as Terrorism presents an immediate threat that Civil Liberties doesn't see); and the American Center (Civil Liberties and National Security fighting one another to a standstill, while Terrorism slinks by unnoticed). Just as fascinating are the things you don't see, such as the artist's choice of boxing rather than wrestling; he had good reason, and he explains why.

Regardless, Gregory Pence is definitely a cartoonist to watch out for -- not only is he very talented, but he's seemingly adept at portraying the other side's point of view. It's not clear at all which of these three, if any, portrays his point of view. Good for him!

Also on Oxblog, a good many observations -- from the scene! -- of the Palestinian elections. Personally, I think he's gotten swept up in the events on the street; the machinations ahead of time between Fatah and Hamas result in an election that's hardly fair (although not on par with the obscene parodies of "elections" that Saddam used to have, or even Mubarak, for that matter). I also can't forget that both Fatah and Hamas remain terrorist organizations, which is, to my way of thinking, a lousy way to run an election. (Will the losing party start setting off bombs in the winner's offices? Well, who's to stop them? That's what terrorists do.)

Nonetheless, I'm reluctant to criticize Patrick Belton's coverage, given that he's there and I'm not. Let's wait -- not just for the election returns, but for the threat of violence afterwards.

Austin Bay calls the current events there "a slow civil war". I think he's right... although I do wish he'd stop talking about "Palestine". There may one day be a sovereign State of Palestine, but they still have a long way to go.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006


On Joel Stein, and Supporting The Troops

Hugh Hewitt is (rightly) up in arms about a despicable editorial by Joel Stein (above) in today's LA Times.

If you haven't read it -- and chances are you already have -- then you might want to go do so. I'll excerpt part of it here, though, to give you the general idea:
I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.

I'm sure I'd like the troops. They seem gutsy, young and up for anything. If you're wandering into a recruiter's office and signing up for eight years of unknown danger, I want to hang with you in Vegas.

And I've got no problem with other people — the ones who were for the Iraq war — supporting the troops. If you think invading Iraq was a good idea, then by all means, support away. Load up on those patriotic magnets and bracelets and other trinkets the Chinese are making money off of.

But I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they're wussy by definition. It's as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.
He goes on, at great insulting and condescending length, but I think the point is made.

I won't try to argue that the man clearly has not the slightest idea of what a national army is for; Hugh has that covered nicely. Nor will I argue that his condescension towards American troops, all of whom have volunteered for risky, nasty, dirty work so that he can write his columns in safety, is in extremely bad taste at best; again, other bloggers have that covered quite well.

Instead, let me point out something that Hugh seems to have missed -- the one thing that Mr. Stein got right, in my opinion. He clearly says that, because he doesn't support the war, he can't bring himself to support the troops.

And you know, I commend him -- for at least being honest enough to say that. Many of us have been saying, for years, that it's stupid to argue "we support the troops but not the war"; you can't support the troops while condemning what they're doing, particularly when the troops are all too aware of what they're doing, and are, on the whole, proud to be doing it. Well, Mr. Stein has simply taken the next logical step... and so far as I know, he's the only one to have done so publicly.

Mind you, I think it's a lousy position to have taken. And his position is rife with contradictions of its own -- such as calling pacifists "wussy by definition", all the while dripping with sarcasm for the soldiers who make a society with pacifists possible. (Whom does he not hold in contempt, I have to wonder? Himself, presumably -- the 30-ish wordsmith who freely admits he knows nothing at all about the military he's been condemning.)

But when you compare him to all the "I support the troops but not the war" hypocrites, at least he's got the courage of his convictions. That puts him a cut above Cindy Sheehan, Rep. Murtha, Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, and all their ilk... not that that's saying much.

UPDATE: Joel Stein's biography at LATimes.com says repeatedly that he is "desperate for attention". Somehow I don't find that difficult to believe.

UPDATE II: Jeff Harrell apparently feels the way I do, but more strongly... and he says it better. Go have a look. (Later -- he's had occasion to revise his opinion, and not in Mr. Stein's favor.)

UPDATE III: Michelle Malkin & Stephen Spruiell point out a previous let's-make-fun-of-the-army column from The New Yorker. They're right; he's not funny. He sounds desperate... and sad.

UPDATE IV: Solomonia puts the whole thing back into perspective, with an open letter by a father sending his son to war. Does he "support the troops"? Damn straight he does... and he explains why.

UPDATE V: Michelle Malkin lists "25 ways to ignore Joel Stein"... brilliant!


Monday, January 23, 2006


Why We Should Laugh At Osama

Jeff Harrell hits all the right notes in his latest Wizbang editorial:
The war on terrorism is very much a war of bombs and bullets in which soldiers and civilians die. It's also an economic war, a war waged in dollars and cents on dusty ledgers in banks in New York and London and Geneva. But more than any of those things, it's a war of ideas. It's a war that will, when it reaches its eventual conclusion, finally settle the question of what kind of world we're going to live in.

Are we going to live in a world where airplanes fall burning out of the sky and where discotheques explode without warning and where skyscrapers turn into mass graves? That's the question the participants in this war seek to answer. And if we want the answer to be "no" - and we do - we've got no choice at all but to radically change the rules governing a third of the world.
Tyranny anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere. That's the war we're fighting. And it's bigger than al-Qaida. It's bigger than Iraq and it's bigger than Palestine, and it's sure as hell bigger than Osama bin Laden. It's a war to decide the fate of the entire world. And it's a war we mean to win.
(emphasis added)

For more of the same, and an answer to the question at the top of this post, please do go read the whole thing.


Sunday, January 22, 2006


Wear a T-Shirt -- Support a Terrorist

With thanks to Michelle Malkin, Gateway Pundit, and Free Thoughts, we can now bring you the latest fashions for terrorist supporters!

FIGHTERS+LOVERS brings you this outrageously stylish FARC
T-shirt, for the youth that dares to look cool and stand up for freedom!

FIGHTERS+LOVERS brings you this outrageously stylish PFLP
T-shirt, for the youth that dares to look cool and stand up for freedom!

For the record: these folks believe in their drivel fervently enough that they're dangerous -- just a little bit. From their "About Us" page:
Fighters+Lovers is a private enterprise dedicated to the cause of freedom and hard-rocking streetwear. Communication is key to any change. 5 euros of the price you pay for our products at an authorized dealer's are sent straight to Palestine or Colombia, where your money is paying for new equipment for radio stations and graphics workshops run by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This is our tribute to these freedom fighters.
Dear God in Heaven. They honestly believe that their donations will pay for "radio stations and graphics workshops"... and their T-shirts feature Kalashnikovs. (They even celebrate the image of the "classic stylish coolness" of Leila Khaled.) Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

For the record, the PFLP is a socialist terror organization... which seems to have been chosen by these nut-balls largely because, as socialists, they are secular:
PFLP is the brave exception in a region haunted by religious intolerance and fanatism. Staunchly secular, PFLP fights for a free Palestine where Jews, Moslems and Christians may live and prosper in peace.
Yes, they are a secular organization; the rest is utter nonsense. The PFLP are as intolerant as they come, advocating the destruction of Israel as a matter of course (and the overthrow of Jordan for good measure). They have never signed on to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, such as it is; only recently, with the ascendance of Hamas threatening to make PFLP irrelevant, have they softened that position a little.

Nonetheless, they are an organization founded on the principle of killing people. It was they that started the practice of skyjacking, in July 1968; it was they that hijacked Air France 139 to Uganda in 1976, prompting the famous Israeli Entebbe rescue. It was they that assassinated Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi in October 2001. They have the blood of hundreds of innocent Israelis on their hands.

And these are the murderous bastards that we should support... by wearing T-shirts?

The price, by the way, is 23 Euros... which, at today's rates, comes out to almost $28. Save your money, folks.

UPDATE: Woland asks, in the comments, if al-Qaeda T-shirts are also available. A quick Google search found them at CafePress.com.

Are there any Arabic readers in the house, who can confirm that this says what I think it says? (Later: Sam the Sandmonkey and Emmanuel Ben-Zion confirm. Still later -- as of February 2, these products are no longer available at CafePress... but it seems they did archive the images. Interesting. I think I'll keep some local copies, just in case the al-Qaeda dog and al-Qaeda teddy bear ever mysteriously vanish.)

has a few words to say as well, including an answer for those who say "but we're only financing graphics workshops".

I'd use this as an opportunity to recommend the fine folks at Infidel Apparel... but the URL doesn't seem to be working right now. What a shame.



Krauthammer prescience?

In searching online for the date of a famous phrase -- Margaret Thatcher's admonishing of President George H. W. Bush, in 1990, that "this is no time to go wobbly" -- I encountered an editorial by Charles Krauthammer, which used that phrase as a starting point:
"Remember George, this is no time to go wobbly." So said Margaret Thatcher to the first President Bush just days after Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait. Bush did not go wobbly. He invaded. A decade later, the second George Bush came into office and immediately began a radical reorientation of U.S. foreign policy. Now, however, the conventional wisdom is that in the face of criticism from domestic opponents and foreign allies, Bush is backing down. Has W. gone wobbly?
Has Bush gone wobbly? Not at all. [...] No need for in-your-face arrogance. No need to humiliate. No need to proclaim that you will ignore nattering allies and nervous ex-enemies. Journalists can talk like that because the truth is clarifying. Governments cannot talk like that because the truth is scary. The trick to unilateralism -- doing what you think is right, regardless of what others think -- is to pretend you are not acting unilaterally at all.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? The catch is that Mr. Krauthammer wrote this back in June of 2001, before the Twin Towers fell. The issues he's discussing are not withdrawal from Iraq and the looming threat of Iran; no, he's discussing the Kyoto protocol and missile defense!

By all means, read the whole thing... and try to remember what the world was like, and what we thought of it, before September 11, 2001.


Thursday, January 19, 2006


A Few Links

has been talking to his television again... specifically, addressing Rep. John Murtha on his recent 60 Minutes appearance.

It's a first-rate Fisking. Murtha contradicts himself several times during the interview with Mike Wallace ("Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency"; "the US troops are now caught in the middle of an Iraqi civil war"); along the way, he also paints a very bleak picture of American troop morale, while ignoring reenlistment rates. Greyhawk is on top of it all; check it out.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Israeli political squabbles -- yes, they've started up again -- have resulted in a new interim Foreign Minister. Tzipi Livni, who already holds two other cabinet portfolios, is Israel's first female Foreign Minister since Golda Meir, and clearly she's taking her role seriously:
Ostensibly I am receiving this portfolio for the transition period of a number of months until the elections, but as mentioned we cannot permit ourselves to view this period as one of transition or to rest until Israel's elections.

First of all, in the Middle East there is never a dull moment. Imagine to yourselves where we were a month or two months ago and where we'll be in another week or ten days.
There was a window of opportunity following the disengagement process that Israel created, and a choice should have been set before the Palestinians. We should have told them that this is the meaning of democracy and you should choose it, not go to the polls with weapons, and not come armed to parliament, and not go armed to the government.

But the Palestinians came with a different claim to the international community and said that they need these elections in order to provide legitimacy in the war against the terrorist organizations.

So our objective now, even though the PA elections were supposed to complete the process of dismantling terrorism
[...] our commitment today is to make it clear at home, but particularly to the international community, that this process has not been resolved and the Palestinians have not been released from their commitment to dismantle the terrorist organizations.
(emphasis added)

There's more, including comments on Iran's increasingly-hysterical threats, and a warning to the international community about growing antisemitism. (As many have observed before, Jews are a country's canaries in the coal mine. The way you treat your Jews today is a good approximation of how you'll treat your other citizens later. You cannot let antisemitism run its course, and then try to fix the problem, any more than the Palestinians can hold elections now and deal with terrorism later. Both are examples of badly misplaced priorities -- putting the cart before the horse, as people used to say.)

Both Palestinian terrorism and European antisemitism are hard problems, and it's easy to understand why people prefer to postpone dealing with them. But history will not forgive them for doing so.

UPDATE: In re Iran, lots of people are talking about "the Israeli option". (As Mark Steyn and others have pointed out, that essentially means looking the other way while Israel does the hard work, possibly nudging Israel in that direction, and then blaming Israel mercilessly afterwards.)

But not many people are asking Israel how she feels about all this. Gloria Salt provided one answer recently:
Israeli military Chief of Staff Dan Halutz was recently asked how far Israel was willing to go to put a stop to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Answer: “Two thousand kilometers.”
Spoken like a pilot! (And rather refreshing, isn't it, compared to all the weasel-worded comments we've been hearing from the diplomats?)

I might add that he then refused to discuss the matter any further -- whether anyone would act, or if so, who or when.


Thursday, January 12, 2006


Power Line: Just Keep Scrolling

When I started reading Powerline today, I kept my eyes open for interesting subjects, as I often do. I found myself quickly running out of fingers.

There's this, for example: a former law clerk for Judge Alito, arguing firmly for Alito's character and impartiality as a judge, and why the Democrat smear tactics are a big mistake. And she argues this as a Democrat and self-described progressive.

Or this, a reprint from the Minneapolis Star Tribune about a question Alito should be asked. Fascinating and very important, and too long neglected.

Or this, on a story that points up exactly why President Bush wanted NSA phone taps in the first place... and why a major success of that principle is being ignored by the American press, even though it got page-one coverage in Europe.

As a bonus, the same link offers clips from a recent town-hall meeting President Bush held in Louisville, Kentucky. It's great -- including an important question from a seven-year-old -- but the part that left a lasting impression for me was this:
And so we took action. We took action because the Taliban refused to expel al Qaeda. And we took action because when an American President says something, he better mean it. In order to be able to keep the peace, in order to be able to have credibility in this world, when we speak, we better mean what we say. And I meant what we said. And we sent some brave souls into Afghanistan to liberate that country from the Taliban.
A President with character. Sometimes I don't think we recognize how lucky we are.

By all means, pay Power Line a visit -- and just keep scrolling!



A Blogger's Dinner Out

At the invitation of Sol from Solomonia.com, I went out for dinner last night with him, Greg from The Jewish Russian Telegraph, and "Sam the Sand Monkey". We met at Shalom Beijing in Brookline for kosher Chinese food.

I had a fabulous time! The discussions were wide-ranging and detailed, as you'd expect a gathering of bloggers to be. (Opinionated? Who, us??)

In many ways, Sam was the star of the show, as the Egyptian guest in town for a short time. We asked him a lot about Egypt, Arab culture in general, and his opinions on the future of Iraq. He asked us about the goings-on in Israel, and wondered what's going to happen to Kadima. (I was glad to give him a definitive answer on that one. I told him that I had no idea.)

I also had an interesting moment when I quoted Sam a great bit I read somewhere in the Internet a few days ago:
If you live in an arab country, you know you heard those 3 statements before and sometimes from the same person:

1) The Holocaust never happend.
2) Hitler is a great man for killing the Jews.
3) Sharon is as bad as Hitler.

You figure out how someone can have those 3 statements in their heads and feel utterly comfortable with believeing them despite their galring contradictions, and you will figure out how the mind of the average conspiracy-theory-obsessed jew-hating arab works.
It turns out that Sam wrote it! (Ooops.)

A fun time was had by all, I think; we're hoping to get together at least one more time before Sam leaves town. In the meantime, please do check out their blogs, if you haven't already.

Oh, and I've got to get Sam to write more about the Muslim traditions that led to the Muslim Renaissance... because not too many people, Muslim or non-Muslim, seem to know much about it. (Hint: were the glorious Muslim advances in art, medicine, mathematics, and other fields made by people following Shiite dogma, or Sunni dogma? Answer: none of the above.)


Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Four By Four

Seawitch has
tagged me. Okay, I'll bite...

1. Four jobs I've had in my life: computer repairman, traffic cop, typing tutor, help-desk phone guy. (That last was a hoot. I was working a temp job for DEC, answering phones for their internal teaching programs. They set up a call center; I was one of four people set up to answer the phone in rotation; but we got, at most, ten calls per day. We spent most of our time playing FreeCell. I tell you, it was embarrassing; I was taking home $15/hour to play FreeCell!)

2. Four movies I could watch over and over (you're kidding me -- only four?!?): The Rookie, Victor/Victoria, Star Trek: First Contact, and Tomorrow Never Dies. My choices were in some ways arbitrary; I've got plenty more favorites than that. (Heck, I've got more categories from which to pick favorites than that.) But all four are movies that I have watched, over and over. Some favorites that almost made the short-list: The Count of Monte Cristo, Singin' In The Rain, Hopscotch, and Midnight Run.

3. Four places I've lived: Poughkeepsie NY, Sharon MA, Louisa VA, and Jerusalem, Israel. (Go ahead, tell me you've so much as heard of Louisa VA. I see they have a Website now and everything... but when I lived there, it was a county of 17,000 people with one traffic light. I'm not kidding. We used to give directions: "go through the center of town, then turn left at the traffic light. -- Which one? Don't worry, you'll know it when you see it.")

4. Four TV shows I love to watch: believe it or not, we don't have cable TV at home; my wife and I both believe the girls are better off that way. (Don't worry, they can watch TV at their grandparents' place... and they do. Oh boy, they do.) So I'll list some old TV shows I've loved: Chicago Hope (always liked it better than ER); The A-Team (pleasure without guilt, like Pepperidge Farm cookies -- nobody ever gets hurt!); M*A*S*H (no explanations necessary); and Hunter (I used to be a cop; see above).

5. Four websites I visit daily: Instapundit (well, of course); Citizen Smash; Roger L. Simon; and Day By Day.

6. Four of my favorite foods: vanilla malts, chicken schnitzel, steak tips, and Krembos. (That last is an inside joke for the Israelis in the room. Think of it as what a Mallomar wants to be when it grows up.)

7. Four places I'd rather be: Jerusalem for sure. Broadway. The Sistine Chapel. And just about any large library, with food nearby and all the time in the world.

8. Four albums I can't live without: The Best of Billy Joel, Channi Livne's "Vocaliza" (including two different tracks from my wedding!), the Vocal Majority's "The Music Never Ends", and Sean Altman's alt.mania. (Shameless plug alert! -- in December 2004, Sean became my brother-in-law. For all his hard-rocker persona, he's one heck of a sweet guy. Not all his music is to my taste, but I like this album a lot.)

Okay, time to tag four other hapless victims! Have fun, Sol and Gloria and Rich and Phil...

UPDATE: Hmm, my lists don't have much in common with theirs -- but Gloria, Rich, and Phil all seem to share my delight in a juicy steak. (And, when he gets around to his answers, I suspect that Sol will too.)

I knew I picked the right people!



Remind Me Why I Should Take Planned Parenthood Seriously

This just arrived by e-mail:

No, it doesn't bother me in the slightest that Planned Parenthood (in conjunction with SaveROE.com, apparently) has set up a gag site, in which you can ask any question you like and get totally irrelevant answers. Pretty funny, if you like that sort of thing.

What gets to me is that they hope to be taken seriously. Is this supposed to contribute something significant to the debate? Do they honestly think this nonsense will persuade people that Alito Is Evil?

Apparently, they do. Go ahead, play the silly game. After a few bogus "opinions" from the cartoon Alito, the screen says "Heard enough? Keep Alito off the court! Join our Save Roe Campaign!"

In all fairness, the animation is cute, and well-thought-out. But come on, people! The basic idea is right out of Calvin & Hobbes... and is one of the lamest straw-man arguments I've ever seen in my life.

(Think about it. What they're basically saying is: Here, look at this cartoon. Isn't this ridiculous? Isn't this totally lame? Would you want a cartoon like that sitting on your Supreme Court? To which I have to answer: no, I wouldn't want that cartoon, or any cartoon, to sit on the Supreme Court. Say -- perhaps we should listen to some of what the actual man has to say, instead of words put in his mouth by people who hate him? How would that sound?)

I'm willing to have an honest debate about the issues, really I am. But they're giving me nothing to work with.

UPDATE: The news of Judge Alito's hearings, if anything, make this even more ridiculous. Can anybody truly say that the U.S. Senate is avoiding asking Alito "the tough questions", when their browbeating yesterday made Alito's wife leave the chamber in tears?

Many things this confirmation process may be, few of them positive. But an honest debate it ain't.


Monday, January 09, 2006


on "Sharonism"

As I write, it is Monday in the United States, Tuesday in Israel, and the vigil for Ariel Sharon goes on. He continues to fight for his life, and doctors unconnected to his case continue to give conflicting predictions. No one yet knows if he will regain consciousness; even if he does, no one knows what degree of brain damage we can expect.

In the meantime, people across the world are attempting to show what they're made of with their reactions. Sharon is getting good press even across the Arab world, which has vilified him for decades. Egypt's Hosni Mubarak calls him "a man of peace", for instance; perhaps he forgets that, when Sharon was first elected Prime Minister, Mubarak refused to meet with him. As I said earlier, this is a natural reaction; Sharon's political enemies in Israel have been praising him too. (For contrast, Honest Reporting has some samples of what people used to say about him.)

From Amir Taheri, we see an interesting analysis of what he calls "Sharonism". (hat tip: Roger L. Simon)
As a professional soldier, Sharon saw that Israel had won all its wars with the Arabs in military terms but failed to translate those victories into lasting political gains. At some point he must have wondered why.

For a war to be won it is not enough for one side to claim victory, although that is essential. It is also necessary for one side to admit defeat. The problem in the case of the Arab-Israeli wars, however, was that the side that had won every time was not allowed to claim victory while the side that had lost was prevented from admitting defeat.

This was a novel situation in history, throughout which the victor and the vanquished had always acknowledged their respective positions and moved beyond it in accordance with a peace imposed by the victor.

In the Israeli-Arab case this had not been done because each time the UN had intervened to put the victor and the vanquished on an equal basis and lock them into a problematic situation in the name of a mythical quest for an impossible peace.
I agree with this analysis, although, to be fair, it was not always the UN solely at fault. It was the United States, for example, that saw Israel capture the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in 1956... and demanded that it be given back. It was the United States (as personified by Henry Kissinger) that saw Israel make not-insignificant territorial gains, after being brutally attacked, in 1973 -- and demanded, again, that they be returned. (Much more detail can be found here.)

(Don't misunderstand me -- I'm all too willing to blame the UN for much of the chaos in the Middle East, and much of the needless misery suffered by Israel, her Arab neighbors, and the Palestinians. From the execrable UNRWA, to the ridiculous bookkeeping nightmare of the numbers of Palestinian refugees, to the charade of the many toothless UN "peacekeeping forces", the UN has richly earned the mistrust of Israelis -- and seems determined to go on earning it. But much as I despise the messes the UN has made, I don't want to criticize them for the wrong things.)

Mr. Taheri continues:
There is, however, not a single instance in history in which the winner of a war has given the loser any land in exchange for peace. Nor is there a single instance in which justice and peace have gone together as Siamese twins. In every case the winner wins the land and gives the loser peace. In every case the peace that is imposed is unjust to the loser and just to the winner.

Without going far back into history, it is sufficient to glance at some of the dozens of wars in Europe, Asia and Africa in recent decades to see that they all ended with a peace designed, if not dictated, by the winner. Thus for more than 50 years Israel and the Arabs have been asked to achieve what no other warring parties have ever achieved.

Israel-Palestine became the only conflict to defy a resolution. Successive Israeli governments preferred to wait until there was a Palestinian partner that would accept the kind of peace Israel could offer. This was mirrored by the Palestinians, who were asked by their Arab brothers and others in the UN to wait until Israel offered a peace they would like.

Sharon understood that if such a formula remained in force there would never be peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It was necessary for the victor to claim victory, regardless of what anyone else said. It was also necessary for the victor to take unilateral action by imposing the peace it could live with.
(emphasis added)

Mr. Taheri claims (convincingly, in my opinion) that this is precisely what Sharon has done -- what he calls "Sharonism" -- by insisting that Israel dictate her own terms to the peace she has so desperately sought for the past sixty years. This is why Sharon's Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, argues Mr. Taheri, and why work has continued unabated on the Security Fence in the West Bank, in spite of almost universal worldwide condemnation. Sharon repeatedly insisted that the path of the Security Fence was not necessarily the final border -- but we can expect that, if the Palestinians refuse to accept it, then it will become the final border, for it will define the boundary of Israel's choosing.

Israel must live, and must plan for her own future; she cannot wait forever for the losers of her various wars to decide what peace they'd like to accept. "Sharonism" takes back the initiative for Israel, the initiative she ought to have had all along.

Can Sharonism survive its architect? One hopes that it can; it offers the best hope for a lasting peace that the region has seen in decades. Mr. Taheri thinks that it will; I hope that he's right.

If Israel dictates her own borders, announcing that she will live peacefully within them unless her neighbors make that impossible, the Palestinians will certainly be upset. (No final borders will be acceptable to all Palestinians, so long as Israel remains on the map at all.) But Israel will have enforced her will without killing anybody, which is a heck of a lot more than the Palestinians can say.

Israel will also have given the Palestinians a stake of land -- not all the land they wanted, by any means, but land nonetheless -- on which to root, hog, or die. That's more than most new nations have been given. (It's also more than the Palestinians were ever given by their own Arab brethren.) Time will tell, if we get that far, if the Palestinians are mature enough to understand that, and build their nation on what they have.

Sooner or later, the Palestinians will need to choose: do they prefer raising their children, or killing their children? Sharonism forces them to make that choice.



Menorah Lighting in Saddam's Palace

For the story behind this picture -- and more pictures -- read this. There's also more of the same here.)

In the meantime, enjoy! (I love that menorah -- or chanukkiya, as we Israelis call them. If I had to guess, it was jury-rigged for the occasion, out of whatever materials were on hand. Reminds me of the times I spent Chanukah in uniform, albeit under far gentler circumstances than that. And yes, I can't help thinking how Saddam would feel about all this! -- his former palace, with a menorah and a Christmas tree on display, side by side.)

In the words of the traditional Jewish prayer said on the first night of Chanukah (among other times):

...she-hecheyanu, ve-kiyyemanu, ve-higgiyyanu la-zman ha-zeh. Amen.

...[God] has kept us alive, and sustained us, and brought us forward to this day. Amen.


Thursday, January 05, 2006


On Western Civilization, and the Decline Thereof

Thanks to James Lileks, I found this crackerjack Wall Street Journal op-ed by Mark Steyn. It begins:
Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries. There'll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands--probably--just as in Istanbul there's still a building called St. Sophia's Cathedral. But it's not a cathedral; it's merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate. The challenge for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West.
Pretty strong stuff... and Mr. Steyn makes it deadly convincing. For once he's not trying to be funny, not at all.

His thesis is simple: our need to apologize for our very successes, and to welcome the very ones who would kill us and tear down all our accomplishments, spells doom for Western Civilization. It's a sobering thought, and a scary one.

I can't possibly spell it out as lucidly as he does; please do go and read it all.

Mr. Lileks, by the way, is no slouch himself. After writing at some length about how fashionable it is to protest against Christianity, for its evil past, while multiculturally embracing Islam (and ignoring its evil present), he says:
So you have Swedish clothing designers putting a tag on hot jeans with a skull and an inverted cross, with the express intention of pointing out the “evil” of Christianity. "It is an active statement against Christianity," Bjorn Atldax told The Associated Press. "I'm not a Satanist myself, but I have a great dislike for organized religion."Atldax insists he has a purpose beyond selling denim: to make young people question Christianity, which he called a "force of evil" that had sparked wars throughout history.

It goes without saying that selling anti-Christian iconography to European fashionistas is a brave an act as reducing the food pellet allotment to your pet hamster; a true act of bravery would be yanking the dead wildebeest out of a lion’s mouth. Or selling jeans that have the international cross-and-bar NO symbol over the crescent of Islam. They don’t dare do that – partly because they are deeply suffused in the very racism they decry, and regard the inhabitants of their tall dead Corbu-inspired concrete ghettos as brown rabble beneath contempt and therefore irrelevant to relevant discussion, and partly because they have a nagging fear of editorials, hate-speech laws, tut-tuts from the thinking class, and the occasional unhinged fellow with a knife. But Christianity? Didn’t that die in a muddy hole in Ypres?
Indeed. We've forgotten what Bravery means, with our nonsense about "speaking truth to power", haven't we?

(Well, some of us have. Others remember quite well what Bravery is. They could teach us a thing or two about Honor, and Courage, and Truth.)

By all means, read Mr. Lileks as well.

UPDATE: Victor David Hanson sends the same message, worded somewhat differently, as an open letter to the Europeans: "Cry the Beloved Continent". Stephen Green has written his own letter -- and if Hanson's is written in a scholarly style the Europeans might appreciate, Green's is written as the folksy American that is no doubt expected in Europe. Both are well worth the reading. (hat tip for both: Instapundit.)

UPDATE II: Another screed from Lileks, tangentially related. It seems that a letter to the editor caught his attention; have a look at this:
But that’s not really what tickled me about the letter. It’s a fairly concise summation of a particular mindset that does not, to put it lightly, share the same peril-set I do. [...] And that’s why the letter amused. He said:
Assume that violent Islamic fundamentalism, like Nazism and communism before it, is completely marginalized.
Right. The Iranian sponsors, with their nuclear ambitions and support of international terror, are off the stage; the Saudi paymasters are likewise cowed or replaced with a government that seeks coexistence with Israel; Syria has had a revolution, Iraq makes the Swiss look like South Bronx (or a Paris Suburb), the Chechen rebels have disbanded in shame, the store-front sheiks of London have decided to join in the experiment of 21st century post-national continental identity, the various rag-tag bombers and separatists and fundamentalists from Indonesia to India to Pakistan have likewise stood down, and the most primitive, unreconstructed, antagonistic threat to modernity, liberalism, gender equity, religious tolerance, pluralism, and all the other right bonny boons of the Western Civ have been defeated, thwarted, or persuaded to change their ways.

that, and we can get on to the issues the [Bush] apologists never consider.

Give me a call when it happens. We’ll sit down and have a nice hot cup of worry. Some scones, too. If they’re fresh.



A Crisis in Israel

Prime Minister Ariel ("Arik") Sharon of Israel is gravely ill, and the best speculation is that he will not recover. (Omri Ceren is all over this... for which I am extremely grateful.)

The short version: he has suffered a brain hemorrhage with massive bleeding, possibly caused by blood thinners he was taking after a mild stroke last week. The talk is that, even if he survives, he will not be able to execute the office of Prime Minister (and the other portfolios he holds); the Sharon era is over.

I'll add more of my own thoughts to this later; stay tuned.

For those looking for a simple answer -- what will this mean for the future of Israel, the prospects of peace in the Middle East, and so forth? Answer: not too much. Yes, Sharon is in many ways a pivotal figure -- under his leadership, Israel's foreign policies have changed direction dramatically, in some ways as much as American foreign policy has changed under President Bush. Yes, there will be some chaos to work out on the Israeli political scene.

But heck, there's always political chaos to deal with in Israel; Israeli politics are lively enough to make American politics look dull and tasteless. There has already been a smooth transfer of power, to Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (former mayor of Jerusalem, among other things), and, barring unlikely drastic moves on his part, things will most likely continue as before. Life will go on; Israel, and Israeli policies, will endure.

(Oh, there will be major upheavals within Israel in the short term. The ruling party that Sharon helped found, Likud, had been gutted by Sharon himself to form a new party, Kadima. But Sharon was Kadima; the party may not survive without him at the helm. Likud, thought by some to be on its deathbed, may now tread water for a while longer. But for the world outside Israel, little of this matters. Israel will conduct herself on the world stage as she has been doing.)

Remember, the major changes in policy instituted by Sharon -- the unilateral abandonment of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians, the evacuation of a handful of Jewish settlements in the West Bank -- were completed last summer. The ball is in the Palestinian court now, so far as major moves for peace are concerned.

Let me add, by the way, that the reactions of Palestinians to this is none too encouraging. As Omri says, why are they celebrating the near-death of the only political leader anywhere who has ever given the Palestinians land of their very own? No Israeli leader has gone so far in this direction as Sharon did... and no Arab country ever tried. Not Egypt, not Lebanon, not Syria, not even Jordan... no one.

(Omri also points out celebrating moonbats in America. Delightful.)

The Israeli press, by the way, is treating this as the tragedy that it is. I'm reminded of something that was said in mid-April, 1865, after the assassination of the newly-reelected President Lincoln: "it is no longer possible to determine the politics of a newspaper by what it says about Lincoln". Omri cites Ha'aretz -- one of Israel's major daily newspapers, and a longtime harsh critic of Mr. Sharon -- as follows:
Say a prayer for the prime minister.

Say a prayer for the man who could not be broken.

Say a prayer for our shattered present. Say a prayer for our shuttered common future.

Pray for the man who could not be stilled. Pray for the man who could not be swayed.

Say a prayer for the future only he knew.

Say a prayer for the people he has left behind. The Jewish People, the people he loved, at times despite himself, despite them. The people who could not bring themselves to love him.

Pray for those of us who once embraced him, and came to curse him.

Pray for those of us who once cursed him, and could not bring ourselves to forgive him.

Pray for those who call themselves religious and see in this, the hand of God.

Pray for those who call themselves non-religious and need now to pray.

Pray for the leaders who, unable to replace him, will now succeed him.

Pray for a miracle. Pray for all of us. Pray that we may know to heal each other.

Pray for this land. That it may know the peace that he never will.

This is a good time to pray -- not for the peace of Jerusalem, but simply for the health of a man, someone who never stopped fighting for his country. He fought as a young man to establish the State of Israel in the first place, in the 1948 War of Independence; he fought as a general in 1956, 1967, and 1973; he fought as Defense Minister in 1982; and he has fought for Israel ever since. He has led the State of Israel with guts and gusto that are virtually unmatched; he will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel's giants.

Mi she-beirach avoteinu, Avraham Yitzhak ve-Yaakov, hu yevarech ve-yirpeh et Ariel Sharon, rosh memshelet Medinat Yisrael. Ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu yemaleh rachamim alav, le-hachlimo u-lerafoto u-lehachziko u-lehachyoto, ve-yishlach lo mehera refu'ah shlema min ha-shamayim, lirmach eivarav, u-shesa gidav, betoch sha'ar cholei Yisrael -- refu'at ha-nefesh, u-refu'at ha-guf: ve-nomar, Amen.

Be well, Arik.


Monday, January 02, 2006


Sometimes Google Scares Me

A not-unreasonable number of hits to this blog come from Google searches, and sometimes I look into them to see what searches will find me. Usually it's innocuous enough... but today I showed up third in Google's responses for "preteen stepdaughters". Weird. And this post might kick me higher, heaven forfend. (Later -- it's been a week, and now I come up as Google match #31. I guess I can live with that.)

I have no idea who was doing this Google search... frankly, I'm not sure I want to know.

On the other hand, searching on Google for "barbershop withdrawal" (with the quotes) still returns this blog as the only answer. (No, that's not a Googlewhack... the quotes invalidate me, apparently.)

Okay, go back to whatever you were doing before.



Happy New Year!

...or Happy Sylvester, as we used to say in Israel. (Why a secular holiday would be named after a lisping cat never made sense to me.)

We can hope, as we tend to do, that 2006 will be better for us all than 2005 was. (Smash has his own take on that.) Personally, my first New Year's resolution is to try a new blog picture. (Not very ambitious, I grant you. But hey, I've already done something about it -- unlike some people I could mention...)

Lots of stuff going on at my end, from my first wedding anniversary to a joyous Chanukah with my wife and stepdaughters; from ramping-up ambitions for my barbershop quartet to some much-needed rest at home... and a funky puncture wound and hairline fracture above my right ankle, just for variety. None of that is blog-worthy, I'm afraid. Nonetheless, please stay tuned -- both of you -- for further stuff from me... and many thanks for your patience!

If you're curious as to what I've been reading lately, this and this and
this were interesting and thought-provoking to me, among many other things. I'll be blogging about them, or about issues like them, when I have something original to add to the discussion. Stay tuned.


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