Wednesday, September 27, 2006


On Criticizing Islam

James Lileks doesn't mince words:
Clip and save, for this may come in handy: If you mock Islam with a drawing or a novel, you get riots and dead people. News of mishandled holy books yields riots and dead people. Insufficiently reverent short films by a Dutchman yields a dead person, specifically the Dutchman.

Now we add this detail: Quoting medieval religious colloquies is a reasonable justification for burning churches, shooting a nun and holding up signs demanding that the pope convert to Islam or saw off his own head. [...]

This is a new twist: Now history itself cannot be discussed. Since it's difficult to predict what else will enflame the devout, Islam has to be treated with unusual deference, like a 3-year-old child with anger management problems.

Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun has a similar list:

But let’s now sum up our list of artistic must-nots, based on recent history. We must not:

  • draw or publish pictures of Mohammed, however respectful, for fear of causing deadly riots
  • make films criticising Islam for fear of having our head nearly sawn off by a furious Islamist a la Theo van Gogh
  • tell a joke against a Muslim for fear of having our act banned by the Melbourne Comedy Festival’s director
  • preach to our Pentacostal congregation about the danger of Islam’s jihadist preaching for fear of being found guilty of vilifying Muslims and sentenced to run full-page advertisements to tell the world of our guilt
  • quote the verdict on Islam of some 14th century Byzantine emperor for fear that a Catholic nun might be murdered, churches in Palestine torched and demands be issued for an apology or violent else
  • perform Mozart’s Idomeneo (or, for that matter, his Aduction from the Seraglio, which is set in a harem and features a dumb Muslim guard) for fear that our theatre might be blown up
Other than that, we should be right. Or not, given how badly we tremble.
Remember this, boys and girls. There will be a test later... and the grades could be just deadly.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006


Pope Benedict Is A Jew?!?

Well, that's what some of the Palestinians are saying:

A Palestinian protester holds an unflattering picture showing Pope Benedict XVI during a demonstration against his recent speech about Islam, following prayers in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, Sept. 22, 2006. Thousands of Muslim worshippers staged anti-pope marches in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza on Friday, waving green Hamas banners and denouncing the pontiff as a coward. The Arabic writing on the poster reads, 'There are many lies that go out of their mouths. ' (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Okay, someone please help me out here. How ignorant, or deluded (or both) does one have to be to associate the Pope with Judaism? (He's wearing a Moshe Dayan eyepatch, albeit on the wrong eye. Please note also the Star of David pendant.)

Personally, I think it's just a little sick -- but also hilarious, in a way -- that certain people cannot think of any way to insult a man without calling him a Jew! (Talk about a limited imagination. Edmond Rostand could have taught them a thing or two.)

I'm reminded of an observation The Sandmonkey once made, that many Arabs (and Muslims) seem perfectly willing to believe:
1. That the Holocaust never happened.
2. That Hitler should have "finished the job".
3. That Israelis are worse than the Nazis.
Could someone please explain to me how it's possible to believe these things simultaneously? (Ahmadinejad seems quite comfortable with all three.)

No, friends, the Pope is not Jewish. (He is also not a coward. The very fact that he is willing to speak out against militant Islam should be proof enough of that.)

hat tip: LGF. (And thanks to my Lovely Wife for pointing it out to me; she reads LGF more often than I do.)

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Friday, September 22, 2006


On Standing Up For One's Country

"Hugo Chavez abused the privilege that he had speaking at the U.N. In doing so, in the manner which he characterized the president, he demeaned himself and he demeaned Venezuela. Hugo Chavez fancies himself as a modern day Simon Bolivar, but all he is an everyday thug."
Thank you, Nancy Pelosi.

"You do not come into my country, my congressional district, and you do not condemn my president. If there is any criticism of President Bush, it should be restricted to Americans, whether they voted for him or not. I just want to make it abundantly clear to Hugo Chavez or any other president, do not come to the United States and think because we have problems with our president that any foreigner can come to our country and not think that Americans do not feel offended when you offend our Chief of State."
Thank you, Charlie Rangel.

"Let me put it this way, I can understand the frustration, ah, and the anger of certain people around the world because of George Bush's policies... We tend to forget that a few days after 9-1-1 thousands, thousands of Iranians marched in a candlelight procession in Teheran in support of the United States. Every Muslim country was basically on our side. Just think, in five years, President Bush has squandered all that."
Thanks for nothing, Tom Harkin.

UPDATE: Hmm, maybe that's why Sen. Harkin was so eager to defend Hugo Chavez. Chavez, after all, devoted a fair bit of his UN speech praising Noam Chomsky -- who happens to look amazingly like Harkin...

In all seriousness, perhaps Sen. Harkin has had reason to regret his remarks -- or, at any rate, the inappropriate timing of them. Today he says:
“Yesterday’s comments by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela were incendiary and unworthy of a nation’s leader. While I understand the frustrations of many in the international community because of George W. Bush’s policies, I do not believe that gives them the right to come to our country and personally insult and attack the President of the United States. This is especially inappropriate at a forum such as the United Nations, dedicated to civil and peaceful dialogue among nations.”
I like that a lot better. Still, it's a pity when people need to be reminded of such things.

There are many reasons that, as we used to say, "politics ends at the water's edge" -- that we will criticize our people as seems appropriate to us, but that we'll close ranks and defend our own against outsiders. It's the right thing to do ethically and pragmatically, for one; and it establishes rules of polite conduct, which others hold us to in other countries, and which we have every right to expect of them in ours.

As Robert Heinlein once pointed out, morality is exemplified by a mother cat who dies to protect her kittens. The lives of her children are more important to her than her own life; or, to put it another way, the survival of her family is more important than her own personal survival. That's what moral behavior boils down to, at its most basic -- helping to ensure the survival of something bigger than yourself.

Human beings can do more than that. We can reach for a higher level of morality, in which a person is ready to die to protect others he or she doesn't even know; that's what firefighters do. And there's a higher level than that, involving loyalty to one's state, or one's country -- being ready to die to protect more people than one could ever possibly meet. (That's called 'patriotism'; it's a word that has fallen out of favor lately. But it means helping to ensure the survival of your entire country. It means that there are people willing to save my life, and even to die to protect me, simply because I'm an American. That's a powerful thing.)

And one aspect of that sort of loyalty is knowing when to criticize your own, and when to present a united front. (Does a mother criticize her children when they misbehave? Of course she does. But she'll still protect them against others, and will probably refuse to stand for criticism of her children by other parents.)

Besides, as Sen. Harkin seems to have forgotten, showing loyalty to your own country -- and treating it as more important than "understanding" some other country -- is helpful in winning elections.

As for this clown:

"The devil is right at home. The devil, the devil himself, is right in the house.

And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today.

Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world."
No comment necessary... except to say that, by comparison, he makes Ahmadinejad seem almost sane and reasonable, something I didn't think was possible.

UPDATE II: Many in the blogosphere have castigated Rep. Pelosi and Rep. Rangel, pointing out that their own standard rhetoric is not all that different from what Chavez said.

That's true enough. But I don't care. Certainly, I've given them a hard time myself, when I thought they deserved it. Contrariwise, it is proper for me to praise them when I think their actions are praiseworthy, as I believe these are.

When it comes to deranged Democrats, I'd much rather reserve my ire for idiocies such as this:

That's Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, former governor of Vermont and former Presidential candidate -- and he's dancing while wearing a Fatah khaffiyeh, the style worn by Yasser Arafat when he was out killing Israelis (and Americans). The political blindness implicit in that photo is well-nigh unbelievable.

(Later -- Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly also calls Dean out on "know[ing] your audience", albeit with respect to a different issue.)

Follow the link for more speculations on Democrats and Jews. Powerline has more, as does Ed Lasky at The American Thinker. It's getting scary out there.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006


A Daily Smorgasbord

I don't have time for much in-depth blogging today, so I'll just link to a few things that caught my eye.

It seems that Thailand has experienced a bloodless coup -- its first coup in fifteen years, according to the LA Times -- and is under martial law for the time being. The population seems happy enough that the corrupt ex-Prime Minister Thaksin has been ousted, and General Sondhi Boonyaratkalin -- who is now chief of state, it seems -- promises to hold free elections "by October 2007" and to have a new interim Thai constitution "within weeks".

Well, my hat's off to the Thai military for managing a bloodless coup; they couldn't have done it unless avoiding bloodshed was a top priority for them. Apparently it was, which speaks well for them. Nonetheless, much as I'd prefer a bloodless coup to a bloody one, the idea of open-ended martial law gives me the creeps. (Remember, we have a brand-new ball game in Thailand now... and, under martial law, the law is whatever Gen. Boonyaratkalin says it is. Can we count on him to keep his promises, now that he's effectively appointed himself chief of state? We don't really know; we'll just have to wait and find out.)

As I commented on Smash's site, though, statements like this really bother me:
"I heard about the coup this morning when I woke up," said Jay Brooker, a 23-year-old British traveler walking in Khao San, a neighborhood popular with backpackers and foreign youths.

"My friends back in North London were e-mailing me to see if I was all right. I told them that I was just fine. Other than the soldiers, the place hasn't changed one bit."
Well, I'd consider the soldiers patrolling the streets to be a big change. Perhaps that's just me. Then again, the argument that "life goes on" under a dictatorship never made much sense to me. Let's wait and see what happens.

Closer to home, Frank Warner notes that popular American support for the war in Iraq is increasing... and wonders why the mainstream media isn't making a bigger deal about it. (They made a big deal about the "increasingly unpopular Iraq war", didn't they? Perhaps now we'll see a lot of headlines about the "decreasingly unpopular Iraq war"... or maybe "Expected declines in popular support for Iraq war fail to materialize; some experts worried".)

In a related topic, Frank also asks an interesting question. Given that tens of thousands of Bronze Stars have been awarded in the Iraq war, along with more then 10,000 Purple Hearts, nearly 200 Silver Stars, and even a Medal of Honor, where are the heroes' stories? In an era when Americans are crying out for heroes -- have you seen the movie marquees lately? -- there are genuine heroes, who put their lives on the line to save their comrades, who volunteered to fight on distant shores so that we wouldn't have to fight at home.

You don't have to agree with their purpose in fighting. They volunteered, and their heroism counts. Where are the stories? We desperately need to hear them... for we need to know that such people are among us. In the words of Billy Dean: "That's why we call them heroes, and the best thing they ever do / Is point to the best in us all -- and say, 'If I can, you can too...'".

Matt at Blackfive has done great work, in his Someone You Should Know and Someone You Should Know (Radio) series. But, as he and others point out, the Department of Defense really should be doing this. It would cost virtually nothing to set up a central clearinghouse for these stories... and it would provide an invaluable public service.

In re the speech by Ahmadinejad at the United Nations -- which sounded almost sane and reasonable compared to Hugo Chavez's speech at the UN the next day -- well, people have written a lot of good stuff. But the comment that caught my eye was Varifrank's, who points out that the West was facing an onslaught from Persia nearly 2500 years ago... and that the rhetoric then was frighteningly similar. Have a look.

UPDATE: I almost missed this:
By choosing not to cover it, the MSM not only violated basic principles of journalism (and the NYT its own credo), but missed the most important story of the day.
What story was that? Well, first of all, it's the 35,000-strong crowd demonstrating outside the UN. As many have pointed out, an anti-Bush rally could have gotten front-page coverage with 35 people. But it was a pro-Israel rally -- focused mostly on "bring the kidnapped soldiers home!" -- and the mainstream media ignored it completely.

But actually, the story was even bigger than that:
When there is a demonstration involving tens of thousands of people, on the steps of the United Nations, when the attendees include the Governor of New York, a Foreign Minister from a nation in the Middle East, three Ambassadors, prominent individuals such as Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz, and when -- in addition -- one of the speakers is . . . the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, you might (if you’re the MSM) check in and see if he says anything significant, since he is appearing at an important moment in a highly visible public forum.
And, indeed, John Bolton did have some things to say. Rick Richman of Jewish Current Issues, reading between the lines, says that the message was subtle but unmistakable -- that Iran is an important threat, to the United States and to the world, and that President Bush will deal with that threat before he leaves office.

Well, I certainly hope so! -- I would not want to leave this festering sore for the next generation to have to deal with. Read the whole thing, and see if you agree.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006


What's That About The Geneva Conventions, Again?

I just found this, courtesy of Instapundit:
Exactly what protections are our troops being provided by the Geneva Convention? No enemy we've ever fought or are fighting has abided by it. So, in real world terms, the Geneva Convention provides no protection for our troops whatsoever. If we completely withdrew from the Geneva Convention tomorrow, it would have no impact at all on how our troops are treated.

Granted, the Geneva Convention could be of use in the unlikely event that we were to get into a war with Belgium, Italy, Spain or some other Western European nation. However, isn't the argument we're hearing from Europeans and American liberals that we should treat the terrorists we've captured by the rules of the Geneva Convention (as a matter of fact, better than the rules require) despite the fact that they haven't signed onto the treaty? Since that's the case, why wouldn't the same rules apply to any signatories of the treaty that we fought with? Even if, theoretically, we were doing something as evil as kicking their captured soldiers into industrial paper shredders for fun, shouldn't they give our soldiers every benefit the Geneva Convention requires?

What's that, you say? If we don't do it for their soldiers, why should we expect them to treat our troops with respect? Great! Now why doesn't that apply to our troops and Al-Qaeda? If Al-Qaeda is torturing and murdering our troops, why should we treat their captured prisoners as well as, say, American soldiers that are thrown into the brig? Why should we treat some terrorist from Saudi Arabia who wants to kill American citizens like he's a uniformed soldier who follows the rules of war or worse yet, like he has the same constitutional rights as an American citizen?
Indeed. (Admittedly, this has been on my mind lately; I had a call in yesterday morning to the Mike Gallagher show, on my way to work, to argue with him about the Geneva Conventions and terrorists. I never got on the air; I was still on hold when I got to the office and had to hang up.)

On a practical level, I disagree with the notion that withdrawing our support from the Geneva Conventions will have no effect on how our troops are treated. At this point in time, the enemies American troops face -- those enemies being terrorists who wear no uniforms, and claim to be bound by no ethical restrictions whatsoever -- seem to think that the Geneva Conventions protect terrorists, and thus embolden them. I think there's a fair chance that, were America to withdraw from the Conventions, it would be taken as a signal that American troops are taking off the kid gloves... and we might indeed see differences on the battlefield.

(Please don't tell me that, if American troops became more brutal, the terrorists would do likewise. There's no need to recount the grisly stories of what the terrorists have already done, with no trace of regret, while we've worked ourselves into a frenzy debating "water-boarding" and the like. If there's any measure of brutality that the terrorists have not yet tried, it's not because they've been holding back; it's because they haven't thought of it yet.)

Not that I'm advocating a withdrawal from the Conventions, mind you. I believe strongly in the need to fight an ethical fight -- not for our enemy's sake, but for ours. I also believe that it's possible to achieve victory at too high a price.

But extending the protection of the Geneva Conventions to terrorists is, at best, naive and ridiculous. The Conventions clearly apply to combatants in uniform, adhering to specific rules; they therefore do not apply, and were not intended to apply, to terrorists.

(This is not new, by the way. Terrorism was not invented on 9/11. The authors of the Geneva Conventions knew all about terrorism, and about guerilla warfare; they knew what they were doing when they excluded terrorists from the protections of the Conventions. That's what I had hoped to explain to Mr. Gallagher.)

As Bill Whittle pointed out, the soldier wears a uniform because it makes him a target -- and so that the civilian standing nearby will not be a target. Terrorists, refusing to wear uniforms and insisting on blending in with local populations, deliberately forego that protection for the civilians they supposedly are fighting for. They have not earned the right to be treated the same as soldiers, who protect civilians with their own lives.

So why do so many people insist on treating captured terrorists by the most humane standards the international community knows? Personally, I see it as wishful thinking -- if we treat a terrorist, until recently cowering behind his human shields, as though he was a soldier (and a protector of civilians), then perhaps he will become so. Even better, perhaps we will persuade his comrades, still on the battlefield, to behave more humanely than they do now.

It's a pleasant thought. The odds are against it, though, as far as human nature goes. The historical record doesn't back it up either -- what was that President Bush was saying, about the number of Guanatanamo Bay captives who were released, on insufficient evidence, and who have already found their way back to the battlefield?

It's pleasant to think that terrorists can be turned into lovers of peace, simply by treating them nicely. But we have no evidence whatsoever to back up that theory, and considerable evidence in the opposite direction. Believing in this sweet theory just because it's pleasant to do so, at a time when lives are at risk on the battlefield, is a luxury we cannot afford.

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Monday, September 18, 2006


Apologies for the Absence

To both of my regular readers -- sorry to have had so little to say of late. Some personal stuff has been on my mind in recent weeks; nothing vital, but it has been time-consuming. With luck I'll soon have it all behind me, and I can focus more here.

In the meantime, have some fun. I'll be back soon.



Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Glenn Reynolds on Misbehaving Software

This made me want to stand up and applaud:
Get this straight, content providers: Our computers belong to us. If we're in the mood, we might let you sell us some stuff to run on them. But they don't belong to you, and we're not likely to surrender control over our own bought-and-paid-for hardware, which we often rely on to do our jobs and run our lives, simply in exchange for letting you sell us something. (Honestly, most of what you're selling isn't all that good anyway, and you're lucky that people buy it at all. So don't get greedy. And while click-through license agreements may make it legal, they won't make you any more popular.)
Amen! (Isn't it interesting how easily we forget this? We don't owe anybody a debt to pay them money for a product... and if the product simply isn't good enough, we can simply walk away. Sooner or later, there will always be a competitor more hungry for my business, and more willing to give me what I want to get that business.)



Tuesday, September 12, 2006


An Arab-American Apology...

...and call to arms:
The only time I raised my voice in protest against these men who killed thousands of innocents in the name of Allah was behind closed doors, among the safety of friends and family. I did at one point write a very vitriolic essay condemning their actions, but fear of becoming another Salman Rushdie kept me from ever trying to publish it.

Well, I'm sick of saying the truth only in private - that Arabs around the world, including Arab-Americans like myself, need to start holding our own culture accountable for the insane, violent actions that our extremists have perpetrated on the world at large.

our extremists and our culture. Every single 9/11 hijacker was Arab and a Muslim.
The author, a New Jersey-based freelance writer named Emilio Karim Dabul, does not advocate any specific action. But at this point, he doesn't have to. The important point is that he's sounding the call:
For as long as I live, the image of those towers falling, as I watched in horror and disbelief from the corner of 40th and Fifth, will be for me my Pearl Harbor, for in that instant I recognized that not only was our city under attack - so was our freedom.

It still is. And will continue to be for years to come. And the threat is not from within, but from Islamic fascists who desperately want to destroy the freedom and opportunities that millions the world over still seek.

Five years after that awful day, it's time for all Arab-Americans, and Arabs around the world, to protest against Islamic fascism, to raise our voices - and, where necessary, our arms - against these tyrants until their plague of terror has been driven from the face of the earth forever.
Bravo, Mr. Dabul -- bravo.

A science-fiction writer named Frederik Pohl once claimed that your freedom is useless -- unless you use it to free someone else. I've thought a lot about that idea, particularly with respect to American Muslims in this day and age. After all, while the threat of a fatwa is certainly real and terrifying, if one is safe anywhere from such things, one is safe in the United States. If it is safe anywhere to voice one's opinions freely, it is safe to do it here. And if Britain could protect Salman Rushdie from the fatwa calling for his death -- now almost twenty years! -- surely the United States can protect Americans as well.

I can easily understand Middle Eastern Muslims refusing to criticize the brutal regimes under which they must live. To a certain extent, this is also true with respect to American Muslims, living in freedom, who still have relatives living under despotic regimes overseas. But this does not -- and cannot -- apply to all Muslims. And Muslims in general have a responsibility -- to themselves, if nothing else -- to denounce the terrorists, and make it clear that the terrorists do not represent them.

I'm impressed and pleased to see this. I hope we see more of this; some of us have been waiting a long time.

(For more of the same, have a look here.)

UPDATE: Just as we need more Muslims willing to speak out against terror, we need more non-Muslims willing to set high expectations:
The Howard Government's multicultural spokesman, Andrew Robb, yesterday told an audience of 100 imams who address Australia's mosques that these were tough times requiring great personal resolve.
Mr Robb also called on them to shun a victim mentality that branded any criticism as discrimination.

"We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith," Mr Robb said at the Sydney conference.

"And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem.

"You can't wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others.

"Instead, speak up and condemn terrorism, defend your role in the way of life that we all share here in Australia."

I've long believed in the value of setting high expectations. In my experience, people rise to meet high expectations -- and settle comfortably at low expectations. When we fail to make it clear to people that some kinds of behavior are unacceptable, we are setting low expectations, and implicitly saying that such behaviors will be acceptable from them in the future.

Or, as Glenn Reynolds is fond of pointing out, you get more of the behavior that you reward (or fail to punish), and less of the behavior that you punish (or fail to reward). That's the way human behavior works, and that's the way expectations and incentives work.

The thought of Australia having a "multicultural spokesman" has me scratching my head. But I must say, this one is doing his job in a way that appeals to me.

(And no, I certainly do not mean that Muslim immigrants to Australia must become homogenously Australian in all respects. I do mean, however, that they must obey the laws of the land -- and live as Muslims, if they choose, within the confines of Australian law. In a similar vein, if Australian Muslims refuse to condemn the jihadists in their midst, they have no business complaining when non-Muslim Australians see all Muslims as potential jihadists. If the Muslims don't treat the jihadists any differently from peaceful Muslims, then how could non-Muslims be expected to do so?)

UPDATE II: The SF author I quoted near the beginning was Theodore Sturgeon, not Frederik Pohl. I apologize for the error.

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Monday, September 11, 2006


September 11, 2006

It's been five years... and today's date has been haunting me all day.

I've chosen to focus, not on images of the World Trade Center or the Pentagon or Shanksville PA, nor on the death and destruction of that terrible day.

I'd rather focus on America, and American resolve to finish what was started for us: the War against Islamic Fascism.

There have been many moving tributes to 9/11/2001 today, and repeated questions about what it all means. Many people have found the ability to be far more eloquent than I can manage today. All I can think of to say is this:


Never forget what happened on 9/11/2001.
Never forget who attacked us.
Never forget that, although we are not fighting a religious war, they are.
Never forget who we are... and what we must do.

UPDATE: Thanks to Aden for pointing out a misspelling!



Thursday, September 07, 2006


Who Is The Democrats' Karl Rove?

Perhaps more to the point, if the Democrats had a Karl Rove -- or, rather, a secret diabolical genius, manipulating everything behind the scenes, which is who many people seem to think Rove is -- what would he say?

(Let me add, for the record, that I don't know Rove personally, and I haven't the slightest idea what sort of evil diabolical genius he may or may not be. My personal belief is that he's a clever political strategist, just as prone to making stupid mistakes as the rest of us. I will submit, however, that some members of the American Left do believe him to be an Evil Diabolical Genius, and have built it up into a full-blown conspiracy theory -- and, like many conspiracy theories, this one cannot be disproved. When things go well for Republicans, it's because diabolical Rove is pulling strings behind the scenes. When things go badly for Republicans, it's because Rove is trying to lull Democrats into a false sense of security, so that he can lure them in for the kill -- or perhaps he's trying to punish moderate Republicans for not siding with him, or something. In other words, no matter what happens, it bolsters the theory, helping people believe that they are powerless, or that they are opposed by Absolute Evil, or that they've finally figured out how Bush the Evil Idiot keeps running rings around everybody, or whatever feels good to a particular conspiracy theorist.)

A good many people do seem to believe this -- and some of them, despairing of not having their own Karl Rove to be an evil manipulator behind the scenes, have tried to create one. The Democratic Karl Rove, it seems, would say things somewhat like this:
In the past months, it's clear that you've avoided the Wrath of Rove by having nuanced, complex, and varied solutions to the problem in Iraq... all just to avoid the "cut and run" label. This is weak, and the polls support this assessment. Oh sure -- ducking the issue might just work if everything continues to get worse, but what if things moderate or even get slightly better in the next 10 weeks? What then?

For the midterms this fall, follow this recipe to help ensure that your current leads are sustainable, even if things stop getting worse....
(emphasis added)

This would be funny, if it wasn't such a serious topic. People really are hoping that the war will continue to get worse -- that more American troops will die, for example, or that terror attacks will kill large numbers of innocent Iraqis -- because, if things start to actually get better, it could mean a Democratic loss at the polls!

I'm reminded of Michael Moore's famous cry, just after Sept. 11 2001, that the people of the World Trade Center didn't deserve to die -- because they were primarily Democrats who didn't vote for Bush! (I've sometimes wondered -- does that make the 9/11 deaths at the Pentagon somehow more acceptable?)

The ersatz Democratic Karl Rove continues:
Strategy #2:
Do not get sucked into solving the problem in Iraq. You can't solve the problem, because you don't have access to the information you need to make a solid policy proposal. Only the Republican Party has full access to this information. And only the American people can give you the keys to access this critical information by voting you into the majority in Congress this fall. Only then can you come up with an alternative plan. Let your constituents know that if you gain majority status, you will instantly be chairing all of the committees, and finally restoring the balance of powers in Washington that should have been serving us all along.
My God, isn't that beautiful? Don't worry, Democrats, that you don't have any coherent plan to offer as an alternative... because it's not your fault. The evil Bushies have been keeping secrets from you. (So much for the House Intelligence Committee, I suppose, and the Armed Forces Committee, and so forth. Remember the select group of Senators and Congressmen, of both parties, that were kept informed about the NSA wiretapping scheme, and were content to keep quiet about it until the New York Times exposed the story, at which point people were suddenly outraged?)

And I just love the advice -- explain to the American people that, if they blindly vote for you, then you'll tell them what your plan is, and why voting for you was a good idea! (Buying a pig in a poke -- oh sure, that will go over well with the voters.)

Perhaps the problem with the Democratic Karl Rove is that he's just not very well informed.

* * *

In a different blog post, the Democratic Karl Rove (DKR) argues, surprisingly, that it is not to Democrats' advantage to support Lamont over Lieberman in the Connecticut Senate race this year. And, in some places, he comes rather close to making sense:
Bloggers and concerned Democrats who support Lamont, you are falling into a trap. You are supporting a candidate based on a policy instead of his principles. Lamont appears to be a gimmick candidate who is benefiting from a populist campaign focused on a politically-charged topic. Lieberman might not have a popular position in his continued support for the Iraq War, but the Democratic Party will be stronger when it supports candidates of principle and integrity -- even when they appear wrong-headed on specific issues.
See what I mean? The DKR is advocating principle and integrity of character here, and more power to him that he is.

Or is he?
How could Lieberman be principled, you might ask, when he supports such a horrible war policy and such a horrible President?
Oops -- here the mask starts to slip. Is it truly necessary for DKR to explain how someone can be principled, even though he has the utter audacity to disagree with you? Apparently it is necessary.
He can be principled because while he continues to support the President in the Iraq War, he still believes -- rightly or wrongly -- that his position is the informed, mature, reasonable approach to seeing things through. If he were not principled, he might be seen careening and vacillating with the popular sentiments of the day, month or year. If he were not principled, he might be easily labeled as, say, a flip-flopper. If the man's a hawk (possibly due to an allegiance to Israel, among other things), then the principled thing for him to do is to be honest about his beliefs on the matter, no matter the popularity.
I'm sorely tempted to discuss the borderline antisemitism here -- the man is "possibly" a hawk because of his allegiance to Israel, i.e. his loyalty to Israel dictates his domestic beliefs, i.e. his loyalty to Israel is more important to him than his loyalty to the United States. That's a heck of an accusation to make against a sitting three-term U.S. Senator, who has been active in American politics, just about continuously, since 1970. Why would anyone question his loyalty to the United States, if not for the fact that Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew?

But that's practically a minor issue. Watch this:
It's easy to see how Democrats might mistrust a politician who seems to be principled. After all, President Bush's ability to appear principled to the average voter was a significant factor in his ability to be almost elected and then re-almost elected. But, just because Bush turned out to be a politically savvy double-talker who merely appears to be principled doesn't mean that Democrats such as Lieberman -- who also appear principled -- should not to be trusted or supported. Conversely, it is arguable that any Democrat supporting the war today has quite a difficult position to manage politically. To contrast, what difficult political positions is Lamont taking?
Now we're back in fever-swamp territory. President Bush was "almost elected" and then "re-almost elected" (what the heck does that mean?). Some Democrats cannot get over the election of 2000; they're the ones with the "re-elect President Gore" bumper stickers, and so forth. It seems that DKR is one of them. (The "stolen election" of 1876 doesn't seem to bother them, even though it was a lot more contentious than 2000 was; one doesn't see too many "re-elect President Tilden" signs these days.)

Please note also that people who disagree with progressive Democrats can only "appear" to principled. But sometimes people who "appear" to be principled can nonetheless be trusted -- just as, a paragraph ago, there did not seem to be anything wrong with being a "flip-flopper"; the problem was appearing to be a flip-flopper and being labeled a flip-flopper. It's all about appearances, in other words -- someone who claims to have principles and integrity, even though he doesn't toe the Democratic party line, is at best a weird zoo animal, fascinating (and a little disturbing) to look at.

There's plenty more where this came from... and all I can say is, if this is the best Karl Rove the Democrats can come up with, then the real Karl Rove has nothing whatsoever to fear from them. They don't understand him nearly as well as he understands them.

UPDATE: Would the Democrat's Karl Rove be this effective, do you suppose? (Hat tip: Jeff Harrell.)

UPDATE II: Or how about this?
MORE: [Instapundit] reader Dale Harkey suspects a Rovian plot, given that the full [NIE] document actually says that we're doing pretty well:

The set-up is oh so beautiful. Rove (it has to be Rove, right?) has the worst-case-scenario portions of a generally favorable NIE leaked to a gullible and traitorous media salaciously eager to run with it. The left-wing nuts explode in glee and establish their bonafides with all manner of stupid utterances. And since it is easily observed to be a politically motivated leak, (here comes the left hook the appeasers have leaned into because they can’t see it coming) what more justification can there be than to de-classify the original so the whole picture is available (and oh by the way, get the good stuff out there before the elections.) They sure couldn’t just hand the media a copy of the NIE and say, “hey, check this out, it says we’re doing okay,” could they? A dirty trick inside a dirty trick that turns the passion of the Bush-haters onto itself.

Is Karl Rove really that smart?

MORE STILL: Maybe so, as John Wixted notes that -- the post-leak critics having built up the NIE into a document of vast importance and implicit reliability -- they have to cope with this angle:

On the plus side for President Bush, it says that if United States military forces withdrew anytime soon from Iraq, then al Qaida would use that perceived victory to recruit new members. That's bad news for any congressional Democrats who advocate removing troops in the near term.

He notes that this is sinking in (the quote above is actually from Tim Noah) and observes: "In other words, that vague little 3-page snippet from the NIE completely undermines the only substantive suggestion that Democrats have brought to the table with regard to Iraq (namely, a timetable for withdrawal)."

Pretty amazing, when you think about it.

And no, I don't see this as a Rove conspiracy doublewhammy. (It takes a conspiracy theorist, truly, to see Rove's fingerprints every time the Democrats shoot themselves in the foot by behaving like Democrats.) It's notable that others do, though.

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A Tale Of Two Planes

Iran's sabre-rattling continues, with the recent announcement of its first locally-produced fighter-bomber, the Saegheh:
Iran deployed its first locally-manufactured fighter bomber plane on Wednesday during large-scale military exercises, state-run television reported.

"The bomber Saegheh or lightening is similar to (the American) F-18 but more powerful. It was designed, optimised and improved by Iranian experts," the report said.

. . .

During manoeuvres dubbed "The Blow of Zolfaghar," which began in August 19, Iran test fired short range surface-to-surface, sub-to-surface missiles, new air defence system and laser bombs.

Iran's military test-fired a series of missiles during large-scale war games in the Persian Gulf in March and April, including a missile it claimed was not detectable by radar that can use multiple warheads to hit several targets simultaneously.
Sounds pretty scary, if you believe it. (Apologies for the photo of the scale model; it's all I could find.)

Thanks to VodkaPundit for pointing to this news flash. It's worth mentioning that VP's readers seem more than knowledgeable about such matters, and they're not impressed. Joe Katzman, for example, comments:
The new jet is a basically modified F-5, which was a 1960s design. Iran had and still has quite a few of them. Key systems like its radar and avionics are undiscussed, but are very unlikely to even reach the levels of the older F/A-18Cs flown by the Marines, let alone the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets. I'd also bet strongly that its engines leave it underpowered. Not to mention the question of its armament, which is very unlikely to include modern-caliber missiles. Color me deeply unimpressed.
Indeed. Other commenters note that Iran seemingly has resources to burn for designing and building all their latest weapons systems, but they can't build a 1960s-era oil refinery -- which is why they still export crude oil and import gasoline. Still other commenters speculate on how this untested aircraft would fare against the F-22 Raptor, for example.

Myself, I wonder how this super-duper Saegheh fighter will fare against planes like this, and the expertise of the men flying it:

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The Blockade Ended... And For What?

This makes no sense to me:
JERUSALEM -- Israel's government said Wednesday that it would end its air and maritime blockade of Lebanon on Thursday to make way for an international force that is to deploy as part of a cease-fire that ended the 34-day conflict.

Israel's decision came after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan notified its leaders that the international forces were ready to take positions at Lebanon's airports and along the coast, according to a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Israeli officials said those assurances convinced them that Israel could ease its restrictions on the arrival and departure of ships and airplanes, an embargo it has said was aimed at preventing arms from reaching fighters of the Islamic militant Hezbollah movement.
What, exactly, has changed, to assure Israel that the UN will do anything to prevent arms from reaching Hizballah? These are the "international forces" that are not allowed to use force except to defend themselves, right?

Even less comprehensible:
Since the cease-fire took effect Aug. 14, Israel has approved a few ships and flights despite the blockade, its officials said. But the embargo still cost the economy more than $20 million a day, the Lebanese government said.

Meanwhile, Lebanon toughened its stance on the two Israeli soldiers whose capture by Hezbollah helped trigger the war. The cease-fire agreement called for the unconditional release of the Israeli soldiers. But on Wednesday, the Lebanese foreign minister said the Israelis would be freed only if the two sides negotiated a prisoner swap.
Well, that's gratitude for you.

(It's also a prime example of the reverse of "Sharonism" -- that Israel must never be permitted to enjoy a victory in the field, or the fruits thereof, regardless of who she is fighting... and all this in the name of peace. Call it Olmertism.)

Frankly, I do not understand why the Lebanese government is now willing to speak on behalf of the Hizballah kidnappers. But if they are, then they should be treated as such.

Clearly, Prime Minister Olmert's government does not have the intestinal fortitude to see this thing through. I begin to wonder if Israel will ever get her kidnapped soldiers back.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006


The Latest on the Ambulance

Zombie of has it all, from beginning to end.

Not much for me to add, really, other than to say: some people seem determined to show Israel in as negative a light as possible, with whatever lies they think will be convincing. (Remember Mohammed al-Dura? Remember Jenin?)

What's strange about it is the sense of projection. Israel is castigated in the media for a single event -- an event which, even if it were true, is less serious than what Israel's enemies do all the time.

Certainly, an attack on a Red Cross ambulance is extremely serious -- if it happened. But the terrorists Israel fights routinely use ambulances as cover... putting Israel in the impossible situation of having to stop ambulances at roadblocks, never knowing if the passengers are wounded patients or armed terrorists.

The cynicism of accusing Israel of attacking an ambulance, by the very people who have for years been using ambulances as getaway vehicles, is breathtaking.

By the way, check out some of Zombie's other work. Her piece on Reuters photo fraud, a.k.a. "fauxtography", is well worth your time. And her "Anatomy of a Photograph" is a classic.

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Monday, September 04, 2006


Which Islam Was That, Again?

A new video clip has been making the rounds; in it, a convert to Islam named Adam Gadahn harangues the West in general, and his fellow Americans in particular, to stop fighting and learn to love Islam.

Have a look; it's good for entertainment value, if nothing else. (Believe it or not, he praises Robert Fisk, Seymour Hirsch, and David Galloway by name -- but then chastises them for not going far enough, since they haven't converted to Islam yet.)

His rhetoric also ought to make the American left uncomfortable, because at times he sounds remarkably like a combination of John Kerry and John Murtha. Is it really a winning political strategy to sound identical to this man, who openly calls on all Americans to convert to Islam or die?

I believe it is in response to that, in part, that Tom Glennon has written a lengthy piece on the "accidental comedy" of radical Islam. (Hat tip: Solomonia.) I'll excerpt some of it here, but the whole thing is delightful:
The second item that brought a wry smile to my face was the release of a new al-Qaida tape from al-Zawahiri., the second in command of that terrorist organization. Mr. al-Zawahiri threatened continued death and destruction to Americans, and all things associated with Western culture. While this was not new, he did offer to mitigate this mayhem if Americans would immediately convert to Islam. According to Mr. al-Zawahiri, a mass conversion of Americans would be viewed positively by the Jihadists, and our lives would be spared. Like Mr. Annan’s Syrian announcement, these pronouncements were made with a perfectly straight face. What made me believe this was actually a satiric monologue, rather than a serious statement, were the things left unsaid.

Muslims in Afghanistan who believe in education, more freedom for women, voting for political leaders, and other aspects of modern culture are routinely murdered by the ... [Muslim] remnants of the Taliban. Mr. al-Zawahiri did not explain which type of Islam he expects us to embrace.

In the same vein, Mr. al-Zawahiri did not specify if he expects us to become Shiite or Sunni Muslim. While Americans may believe the distinctions are similar to deciding between becoming a Baptist or a Lutheran, Muslims seem to take this much more seriously. Events in Iraq show quite clearly that many Sunni Muslims take great pleasure in slaughtering Shiite men, women and children, while Shiite Muslims seem to share this value system as they continue to abduct, massacre and bomb scores of Sunnis on a daily basis. Making the wrong choice of which sect to join appears to carry some serious ramifications.

Also untouched is the matter of ethnicity. In the Darfur region of Sudan, Arab Muslims continue to murder, rape and dispossess tens of thousands of Black African Muslims. Does this mean that if we convert to Islam, White American Muslims will be required to make war against Black American Muslims? And since I am not an Arab, which ethnicity would I have to join?

The final unstated requirement has to do with Jihadist factions. I would assume Mr. al-Zawahiri would expect us to join al-Qaida, or at least support them. However, relationships between different terrorist organizations seem to be a tenuous matter. Having to choose between al-Qaida, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and the plethora of lesser known organizations can be a dicey thing, since they are apt to shoot at each other almost as often as they shoot at us.

All of this leads me to suspect that the offer to spare Americans from murder if we convert to Islam is actually an expression of Mr. al-Zawahiri’s wry sense of humor. He knows that even if we do convert, we will almost certainly make some wrong choices among the multiple options I have mentioned. Therefore, we would still be targets, and the continued efforts of the Islamists to exterminate us could continue unabated.
(emphasis added)

You know, he has a point. If conversion to Islam won't save me from Sunni violence against Shi'ites, or Shi'ite violence against Sunnis, then why should I bother? Much better for me to remain a Jew; at least that way, I know where I stand.



Sunday, September 03, 2006


So Who's Shooting At Kids Now?

According to AP, Palestinian gunmen, trying to enforce a teacher's strike, opened fire to keep kids away from school... and hit a 12-year-old boy in the abdomen. (Hat tip: LGF.)

Think about that for a moment. No terrorist organization is, so far as I know, openly taking credit for this, as is customary (for them). The masked gunmen were not Hamas; they were not Fatah; they were not al-Aqsa. They were representatives of the teacher's union, and they fired live ammunition to prevent children from going to school.

How many children, do you think, will now be terrified of going to school, because another teacher's strike might kill them?

Consider this a demonstration, as though yet another one were needed, of the state of utter lawlessness in the Palestinian territories today. (This wasn't in Gaza, by the way -- it was in Nablus, in the West Bank, the Biblical town of Shechem.) Power is held, not by any governing authority, but by the terrorist organizations -- except that being loyal to one won't necessarily protect you from the rest. So it's everyone for themselves; hire yourself a team of armed bodyguards, and protect yourself as best you can.

As I've said before, what sort of independent state do the Palestinians expect to have, assuming they can earn one? Well, the Palestinian Authority uses terror as its primary tool of diplomacy -- if we can call it that -- thereby setting the example for everyone else. We've already seen policemen bursting into the Palestinian parliament, protesting their wages... and now we've seen striking grade-school teachers, who hire gunmen that shoot at the teachers' own students for daring to come to school.

I hardly need point out that reactions would be very different, if Israeli gunmen were accused of shooting a Palestinian boy -- even if they didn't actually do it.



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