Standing ramrod straight in dress blues and crisp khakis, the seven color guard members lifted their rifles for one of the most solemn moments of any Memorial Day parade, the 21-gun salute. Hundreds who had gathered to witness the tribute watched in silence.Who are the parents of the these kids? If this were my kid, he'd have a really sore ass today.
Just then, the eggs came flying. One glanced off a tree branch, and landed far away from the marchers in yesterday's Memorial Day Parade in Rockland, said Ryan Durfee , a former Marine who was marching in the color guard. Another crashed 8 feet in front of the color guard.
"Too close for comfort," Durfee said last night.
After the throwing , Durfee said he saw two teens run from their backyard into their house, and two police officers chase after them.
Rockland police said last night that they arrested two 13-year-olds and charged them with disorderly conduct and assault with a dangerous weapon, a felony.
Rockland Police Chief John Llewellyn told FOX-25 TV that the culprits were a "couple of 13-year-olds that just wanted to cause some trouble and they picked the wrong time and the wrong group of people to do it to."
Durfee said the color guard completed its 21-gun salute despite the disturbance. But last night at the Rockland Veterans of Foreign Wars center , emotions were still raw, said Steven MacDonald , the post commander.
"It's very discouraging, especially on a day like today," MacDonald said. "We don't need somebody throwing eggs at us. That's crazy. It's unacceptable."
MacDonald said several veterans are planning plan to show up at Hingham District Court today to demonstrate their disgust as the two teens are arraigned in the juvenile session
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The left prides itself on, and frequently boasts of, its superior appreciation of the complexity and depth of moral and political life. But political debate in America today tells a different story.
On a variety of issues that currently divide the nation, those to the left of center seem to be converging, their ranks increasingly untroubled by debate or dissent, except on daily tactics and long-term strategy. Meanwhile, those to the right of center are engaged in an intense intra-party struggle to balance competing principles and goods.
One source of the divisions evident today is the tension in modern conservatism between its commitment to individual liberty, and its lively appreciation of the need to preserve the beliefs, practices, associations and institutions that form citizens capable of preserving liberty. The conservative reflex to resist change must often be overcome, because prudent change is necessary to defend liberty. Yet the tension within often compels conservatives to wrestle with the consequences of change more fully than progressives--for whom change itself is often seen as good, and change that contributes to the equalization of social conditions as a very important good.
To be sure, some standard-order issues remain easy for both sides. Democrats instinctively want to repeal the Bush tax cuts, establish government supervised universal healthcare, and impose greater regulation on trade. Just as instinctively Republicans wish to extend the Bush tax cuts, find market mechanisms to broaden health care coverage and reduce limitations on trade.
But on non-standard issues--involving dramatic changes in national security and foreign affairs, the power of medicine and technology to intervene at the early stages of life, and the social meaning of marriage and family, the partisans show a clear difference: the left is more and more of one mind while divisions on the right deepen.
In pulling the plug on RCTV, Chávez appointed himself judge, jury and executioner; and in doing so, struck a dangerous blow against Venezuela's proud traditions of democracy and free speech. Worryingly, he did so as part of a wider campaign to stifle dissenting voices and independent views. Since coming to power, Chávez has pushed through a barrage of regulations designed to breed a compliant and uncritical media sector; organizations now face swingeing fines and license suspensions if they fail to meet vague and arbitrary "social responsibility" criteria, while draconian defamation regulations and "insult laws" make it illegal to show disrespect for government officials and institutions.Hey it was only superficial TV! Right?
Monday, May 28, 2007
Indigenous people are being pushed off their lands to make way for an expansion of biofuel crops around the world, threatening to destroy their cultures by forcing them into big cities, the head of a U.N. panel said Monday.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chair of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said some of the native people most at risk live in Indonesia and Malaysia, which together produce 80 percent of the world´s palm oil -- one of the crops used to make biofuels.
She said there are few statistics showing how many people are at risk of losing their lands, but in one Indonesian province -- West Kalimantan -- the U.N. has identified 5 million indigenous people who will likely be displaced because of biofuel crop expansion.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I am compelled to conclude
That man is the superior animal.
When I consider the curious habits of man
I confess, my friend, I am puzzled.
-MEDITATIO, Ezra Pound
Discuss among yourselves, please!
What exactly is a father's duty when his son is sent into harm's way?A response is needed but it seems heartless to offer one.
Among the many ways to answer that question, mine was this one: As my son was doing his utmost to be a good soldier, I strove to be a good citizen.
As a citizen, I have tried since Sept. 11, 2001, to promote a critical understanding of U.S. foreign policy. I know that even now, people of good will find much to admire in Bush's response to that awful day. They applaud his doctrine of preventive war. They endorse his crusade to spread democracy across the Muslim world and to eliminate tyranny from the face of the Earth. They insist not only that his decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was correct but that the war there can still be won. Some -- the members of the "the-surge-is-already-working" school of thought -- even profess to see victory just over the horizon.
I believe that such notions are dead wrong and doomed to fail. In books, articles and op-ed pieces, in talks to audiences large and small, I have said as much. "The long war is an unwinnable one," I wrote in this section of The Washington Post in August 2005. "The United States needs to liquidate its presence in Iraq, placing the onus on Iraqis to decide their fate and creating the space for other regional powers to assist in brokering a political settlement. We've done all that we can do."
Not for a second did I expect my own efforts to make a difference. But I did nurse the hope that my voice might combine with those of others -- teachers, writers, activists and ordinary folks -- to educate the public about the folly of the course on which the nation has embarked. I hoped that those efforts might produce a political climate conducive to change. I genuinely believed that if the people spoke, our leaders in Washington would listen and respond.
This, I can now see, was an illusion.
The people have spoken, and nothing of substance has changed. The November 2006 midterm elections signified an unambiguous repudiation of the policies that landed us in our present predicament. But half a year later, the war continues, with no end in sight. Indeed, by sending more troops to Iraq (and by extending the tours of those, like my son, who were already there), Bush has signaled his complete disregard for what was once quaintly referred to as "the will of the people."
Update: Jules Crittedon sees the need to offer commentary on the death of young Bacevich.
For the past four years, the Clintons have jetted around on Vinod Gupta's corporate plane, to Switzerland, Hawaii, Jamaica, Mexico -- $900,000 worth of travel. The former president secured a $3.3 million consulting deal with Gupta's technology firm. His presidential library got a six-figure gift, too.
Gupta, whose big donations to the Democratic Party earned him a Lincoln Bedroom overnight when Bill Clinton was president, has emerged as a key benefactor of Clinton's post-presidency -- and Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential candidacy.
Gupta's generosity toward the Clintons has proved so controversial within his firm -- a major provider of database-processing services -- that it prompted a shareholder lawsuit complaining that hiring the former president was a "waste of corporate assets."
The dispute over Gupta's bankrolling of the Clintons offers new detail about how successfully Bill Clinton has leveraged the inner circle of donors he cultivated during his tenure in the White House to his personal financial benefit since he left office. In addition, it suggests the degree to which Hillary Clinton's political career is also benefiting from those connections
Andrew Card is a Massachusetts native who has served his country admirably both as state representative and a presidential chief of staff. His reception at the university's commmencement drew out all the moonbats in protest.
Of course the rabble-rousers have a right to disrupt the decorum of what's supposed to be a special day for graduates. By the way, what ever happened to silently turning one's back as a sign of dissent, a silent act that respects the right of the majority?
AMHERST, Mass. (AP) -- President Bush's former chief of staff Andrew Card was loudly booed by hundreds of students and faculty members as he rose to accept an honorary degree at the University of Massachusetts on Friday.Card showed some dignity in the face of hostility, a trait not in much supply at Amherst. Meanwhile, the academics continue to think too highly of themselves.
The boos and catcalls - including those from faculty members who stood onstage with Card - drowned out Provost Charlena Seymour's remarks as she awarded the honorary doctorate in public service. Protesters claim Card lied to the American people in the early days of the Iraq war and should not have been honored at the graduate student commencement.
Card smiled slightly while Seymour spoke and raised his hand in thanks, then sat down without speaking.
Afterward he ignored a reporter's question about the protesters. "It was a great honor and a privilege to be here," he said.
Sigrid Schmalzer, an assistant professor of history, said she believes Card was honored because he's well-connected and UMass thought he could somehow help the school.
"For the university to so cynically disregard the question of intellectual integrity when it becomes convenient to pursue money and power is the wrong message to send," she said.
I'll remember all about "integrity" when rent-seeking faculty members on the public dole like Schmalzer whine about how much UMass is "underfunded." I trust she will stay out of all funding debates in the future regarding one of America's favorite party schools because that will make sure she doesnn't conveniently pursue money and power.
As a grad of the UMASS system, I'm considering not giving it a dime of my hard- earned money to UMASS altogether. I'm getting tired of the political correct crap.
Meanwhile, see you at the next riot and the riot.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
A better way to assess our chances at maintaining our preeminence is simply to ask the same questions that are the historical barometers of our nation's success or failure: Does any nation have a constitution comparable to ours? Does merit - or religion, tribe or class - mostly gauge success or failure in America? What nation is as free, stable and transparent as the U.S.?Ask this question of a knee-jerk neo-socialist Europhile. Considering the alternatives and considering the number of people trying to get into the U.S. which nation would you place your trust in finding greater opportunities: The U.S. or Russia or China? We've been in the doldrums of doubt before only to rise to the top. This must really piss off Continental intellectuals.
Try becoming a fully accepted citizen of China or Japan if you were not born Chinese or Japanese. Try running for national office in India from the lower caste. Try writing a critical op-ed in Russia or hiring a brilliant female to run a mosque, university or hospital in most of the Middle East. Ask where MRI scans, Wal-Mart, iPods, the Internet or F-18s came from.
In the last 60 years, we have been warned in succession that new paradigms in racially pure Germany, the Soviet workers' paradise, Japan Inc. and now 24/7 China all were about to displace the United States. None did. All have had relative moments of amazing success - but in the end none proved as resilient, flexible and adaptable as America.
That brings us to the United States' greatest strength: radical self-critique. We Americans are worrywarts, always believing we're on the verge of extinction. And so, to "renew," "reinvent" or "save" America, we whip ourselves up about "wars" on poverty, drugs and cancer; space "races;" missile "gaps;" literacy "crusades;" and "campaigns" against litter, waste and smoking.
In other words, we nail-biters have always been paranoid that we must change and improve in order to survive. And thus we usually do - just in time.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Question for Krugman, chief mouthpiece for the Democratic Party and self-described "dangerous liberal": How do you account for the number of deaths caused by the F.D.A which refuses to let near terminal patients try drugs that may save their lives? If that's not a case for abolishing the F.D.A then it's certainly a greater concern that a few batches of spinach people fail to wash. For a more reasonable view read this. It's gated, sorry.
"I was once a vegan. But well before I became pregnant, I concluded that a vegan pregnancy was irresponsible. You cannot create and nourish a robust baby merely on foods from plants.Hat tip: Instapundit
Indigenous cuisines offer clues about what humans, naturally omnivorous, need to survive, reproduce and grow: traditional vegetarian diets, as in India, invariably include dairy and eggs for complete protein, essential fats and vitamins. There are no vegan societies for a simple reason: a vegan diet is not adequate in the long run."
Monday, May 21, 2007
Chávez has now reached the Robert Mugabe level of economic incompetence by messing with the farm sector. Let's hope he does not move past that to the Mao Zedong/Great Leap Forward level of economic mismanagement.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Take the idea of "carbon offsets" made popular by Al Gore. If well-meaning environmentalist activists and celebrities either cannot or will not give up their private jets or huge energy-hungry houses, they can still find a way to excuse their illiberal consumption.
Instead of the local parish priest, green companies exist to take confession and tabulate environmental sins. Then they offer the offenders a way out of feeling bad while continuing their conspicuous consumption.
You can give money to an exchange service that does environmental good in equal measure to your bad. Or, in do-it-yourself fashion, you can calibrate how much energy you hog -- and then do penance by planting trees or setting up a wind generator.
Either way, your own high life stays uninterrupted.
Some prominent green activists pay their environmental penance in cash, barter or symbolism to keep the good life. Al Gore, for example, still gets to use 20 times more electricity in his Tennessee mansion than the average household.
Take also the case of Laurie David, the green activist and wife of "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David. She has recently generated plenty of publicity for her biofuel-powered bus tour to promote environmentalism. But in other circumstances, David still flies on gas-guzzling private jets.
The best thing about this medieval idea of penance is that it can now be repackaged as politically correct "offsets." During the last few decades, the return of these modern indulgences has caught on in a variety of ways.
Liberal presidential candidate John Edwards, for example, lives in a 30,000-square-foot home, gets $400 haircuts and recently made a lot of cash by working for a profit-driven, cutthroat hedge fund. How's he supposed to alleviate his guilt over this? Presto! He can lecture others about the inequity of an American system that unfairly created two unequal societies -- his rich nation and many others' poor one.
Don Imus was serially warned that his foul and sometimes racist banter would eventually get him into big trouble. Still, as he kept up his trash talking aimed at Jews, women and blacks, Imus also generously donated to, and even set up charities for, wounded veterans and poor children.
Thus, when his slurs inevitably crossed the line one too many times, Imus not only confessed and apologized, but, inevitably, claimed his indulgences of past good deeds in hopes of offsetting the present bad ones.
These varieties of contemporary offsets could be expanded. But you get the picture of the moral ambiguity.
Penance, ancient and modern, was thought corrupt because it was not sincere apology nor genuine in its promise to stop the sin.
Thanks to carbon offsets, Al Gore keeps his mansion -- and still feels good while warning others we all can't live as he does.
John Edwards chooses to offset his own privileges by sermonizing about unfairness in America.
And who can forget George Soros? The billionaire can lavishly fund liberal causes such as left-wing think tanks, Web sites and ballot initiatives -- and thereby offset his millions made speculating on exchange rates and bankrupting small depositors. He's become a hero to those who ordinarily demonize such financial piracy.
In other words, "offsets" is merely a euphemism for words like cynicism and hypocrisy. So by all means help save the planet, worry about the poor, establish charities. Just spare us the medieval idea that such penance ever excuses your own excess.
Soros -- part of the problem if people are willing to look.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
Russell Roberts over at Cafe Hayek has one of the best "fiskings" or take-downs of the year thus far.
So yes, indebtedness is up in America. Most of that debt is housing. So people have more debt but they also have more assets—median net worth over that time period has gone up for every group except the second lowest quintile. So people are borrowing more but their assets are generally worth more.Read the whole article.
Democrats are wielding a heavy hand on the House Rules Committee, committing many of the procedural sins for which they condemned Republicans during their 12 years in power.And Congress as a whole isn't very popular -- right down there in Bush territory.
So far this year, Democrats have frequently prevented Republicans from offering amendments, limited debate in the committee and, just last week, maneuvered around chamber rules to protect a $23 million project for Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.).
On Wednesday, Democrats suggested changing the House rules to limit the minority's right to offer motions to recommit bills back to committee -- violating a protection that has been in place since 1822.
Much of this heavy-handedness is standard procedure in the House, where the majority has every right to dominate, but it contradicts the many campaign promises Democratic leaders made last year to run a cleaner, more open Congress.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
There's more worrisome news about vitamins: Taking too many may increase men's risk of dying from prostate cancer.And then there's this:
The study, being published Wednesday, doesn't settle the issue. But it is the biggest yet to suggest high-dose multivitamins may harm the prostate, and the latest chapter in the confusing quest to tell whether taking various vitamins really helps a variety of conditions—or is a waste of money, or worse.
My love affair with vitamins and supplements is over: With a few exceptions -- stay tuned -- I'm tossing them outWhat's next the Green Tea?
French workers are the world's biggest whiners, according to a study published Monday which said the Irish complain least about their lot.The U.S. finish isn't all that alarming given that workers here are given a diet of fear about job insecurity and "income inequality."
Britons come second to their Gallic cousins in the moaning stakes, followed by Sweden, the United States and Australia. Japanese workers have the lowest morale, but don't complain so much.
The lowest levels of whining were found in the Netherlands, Thailand and Ireland, according to the study by the FDS research group.
"It is interesting to note that after France, Britain and Sweden, the world's biggest workplace whingers are Americans, despite their having by far the highest levels of income," said FDS chief Charlotte Cornish.
"Compare them to Thai workers: while real levels of income are more than eight times higher in the States, more workers in the US feel their pay is a problem than in Thailand," she added.
The study, entitled "What Workers Want, A Worldwide Study of Attitudes to Work and Work-Life Balance", draws on data from 14,000 employees in 23 countries.
They were notably asked about their satisfaction with issues including pay levels and their work-life balance, as well as average working hours.
In terms of worker morale, Dutch workers are the happiest, followed by their Thai and Irish counterparts. The lowest morale of all is found in Japan, followed by Germany, said the study.
The study's authors noted that rightwing French President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy shouldn't expect things to become happier anytime soon, as he prepares to shake up notoriously strike-prone France.
"The UK and US, with their marked competitive individualism and unequal wealth distribution, both appear towards the top of the world's list of whingiest workers," said Cornish.
"The French come out on top -- it seems unlikely that Nicolas Sarkozy's election and the likely shift to more Anglo-Saxon economic practices will make the workers in France any more happy with their lot," she added.
Two Russian-born sisters are due to become assistant professors of finance in New York state later this year, even though they are only 19 and 21, university officials said Wednesday.We need more immigrants like this.
Angela Kniazeva and her younger sister Diana were due to take up their new positions in September at the University of Rochester, where half of their students will likely be older than them.
The pair, who already have masters degrees in international policy from Stanford University in California, were picking up their doctorates from New York University's Stern business school on Wednesday after five years of study....
The duo were home-schooled by their parents and earned the equivalent of their US high-school diploma at the ages of 10 and 11 before graduating college in Russia at the ages of 13 and 14....
Hat tip to Volokh Conspiracy.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Uncle raises the topic, Stuff That Sucks.
Shit, where do I start?
How about people who suck?
Wanna know who sucks?
The designers and manufacturers of every car, truck, and SUV I've ever owned, who, for reasons I'll never understand in a million fucking years, couldn't see fit to incorporate into their design a windshield fluid reservoir with a capacity of more than 0.92 gallons. Do you sadistic little fuckers get off knowing there are thousands, if not millions, of garages and driveways in this country with one-gallon bottles of windshield fluid lying around with barely an inch left in the damn things...
The R&D people single-cell organisms at Scott Brand Products who came up with their new "Extra Soft" toilet paper. Did any of you asswipes (no pun intended) ever try actually, oh, I dunno, WIPING YOUR ASS with this shit??? Those thousands of cute little quilted fluff-nodules, or whatever the fuck you call them, do but one thing. They serve as one gigantic perforation zone, the sole purpose of which seems to be the introduction of some kind of cost-saving measure, through which men can wipe their ass and give themselves a prostate exam at the same time.
Give me that cheap scratchy shit we had to use in grade school. You know the stuff with the branches and leaves still intact and visible in the fabric of the paper. At least it held together and got the job done.
Many Europeans believe the Jews dictate US policy in the Middle East, wield disproportionate global economic influence and talk too much about the Holocaust, according to a report released Monday by the Anti-Defamation League.Hey they're so shifty they even run Las Vegas. When will people wake up?
The report's findings found that significant numbers of people in five European countries continue to hold anti-Jewish stereotypes, said Abraham Foxman, national director of the US group.
"A large number of Europeans continue to be infected with anti-Jewish attitudes, holding on to classical anti-Jewish canards and conspiracy theories," Foxman said at a news conference where he presented the report.
The survey of 2,714 people in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland found that 51 percent of respondents believed that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the countries in which they live. In the Spanish sample, the figure was 60%. In France, only 39% agreed.
Foxman said the widely-held belief in dual allegiances was particularly troubling.
"Disloyalty is a classical canard of anti-Semitism," Foxman said. "Hitler did not begin with Aryan supremacy. Hitler began with charging the Jews of not being good Germans, of selling out Germany for their own interest."
The statement that "Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust" was seen as "probably true" by 58% of poll respondents in Poland, where many of the World War II Nazi death camps were located. The average for the five countries polled was 47% in agreement.
Poles were also most likely to subscribe to another long-standing belief, with 39% of respondents there saying they somewhat agree or strongly agree that the Jews "are responsible for the death of Christ." Overall agreement with that statement was 20%.
An average of 44% across the countries surveyed said Jews "probably" have too much influence on international financial markets, while close to half believe that "American Jews control US policy in the Middle East," the report said.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
KABUL, Afghanistan — The killing of the top Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, a one-legged fighter who orchestrated suicide attacks, beheadings and an ethnic massacre, marks a major victory for the U.S. campaign at a time of flagging Afghan support over civilian killings.How will the rest of NATO react?
As victims of Dadullah's brutality celebrated his death Sunday, analysts called the killing the most significant Taliban loss since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. But even NATO acknowledged that Dadullah, who directed some of the Taliban's most notorious violence, would soon be replaced.
Dadullah, a top lieutenant of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, was killed in the southern province of Helmand during a U.S.-led operation that also involved NATO and Afghan troops, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.
Kandahar Gov. Asadullah Khalid, who called Dadullah a "brutal and cruel commander" showed the body to reporters in Kandahar who saw a one-legged corpse with bullet wounds to the head, chest and stomach.
Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a purported Taliban spokesman, denied that the Taliban commander had been killed, but there appeared little doubt Dadullah was dead.
Dadullah is the second top-tier Taliban field commander to be killed in the last six months, after a U.S. airstrike killed Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani in December. Dadullah, Osmani and policy-maker Mullah Obaidullah had been considered to be Omar's top three leaders.
I rate Revenge as one of the best episodes of all six blockbusters. Lucas is a master of engaging his fans into the continuing battle of good over evil in technological splendor without acknowledging the religious overtones that occupy him.
Critics were quick to read into whether Revenge was a commentary with its Manichaean view on the Iraq War (no gray areas, of course). Beyond its near awful dialogue, Revenge grapples with with the choice between a nation remaining a republic in a complex world or falling to the temptation of a orderly but vicious Empire.
More specifically, social commentators were asking: Did the evil Palpatine represent George W. Bush? On this count, the movie fails miserably exposing once again the aspirations of a detached Hollywood liberal mindset. Few viewers probably took anything away from Revenge. The pity that Hollywood could not sear into the minds of the public another cliche: Bush is evil and America is a wayward Empire.
As often is my habit. I read the reviews after the fact. Here are some reviews I read from metacritic: Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post and a very negative one from Stephanie Zacharek in Salon.com.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
"...new study of trade and oil consumption data shows that Venezuela appears ever more dependent on selling its oil to the country Chávez calls "the cruelest, most terrible, most cynical, most murderous empire that has existed." And U.S. government energy trade data show the United States is slightly less dependent on Venezuela, which at one time challenged Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia as the No. 1 provider of foreign oil but now tussles with up-and-coming Nigeria for the fourth spot.I say it won't end well for Chavez over the long-term.
"Venezuela is losing its privileged position," said Alberto Quiros, an energy consultant and former executive at Royal Dutch/Shell and at Venezuela's state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA). "The United States' needs have increased and Venezuela's ability to supply has decreased."
The dance steps in Vermont serve the Democrats well. They can manage the bile for which they reserve for Bush while telling the adults that they too, acting like Boy Scouts, can be against the war on terror. How long this illusion can go is uncertain. But occasionally a dose of reality of what we are up against filters its way into public consciousness. It does so through the struggles of individuals like Hirsi Ali. Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post explains:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is arguably the bravest and most remarkable woman of our times.By the way, have you ever heard Sen. Hillary Clinton invoke the name of Hirsi Ali or express an iota of compassion for her struggle and the struggle of millions of women under the thumb of runaway Islamists? Or are the impeachment resolutions more captive of Madame Hillary's eye giving her an idea of where she stands?
To understand why this 37-year-old woman is extraordinary, she must be assessed in the context of the forces pitted against her in her twin struggles to force the Western world to take note of Islam's divinely ordained enslavement of women, and to force the Islamic world to account for it.
A series of incidents this week placed the forces she battles in stark relief. Sunday Muslims shot up the Omariyah elementary school in Gaza. One man was killed and six were wounded in the onslaught. The murderers attacked because the UN-run school in Rafah had organized a sports day for the children, in which little boys would be playing with little girls.
The idea that that boys and girls might play sports together was too much for the righteous believers. It was an insult to Islam, they said. And so they decided to kill the little boys and girls.
On May 3, in Gujrat, Pakistan, Muslims detonated a bomb at the gate of a girls' school. Their righteous wrath was raised by the notion that girls would learn to read and write. That too, they felt, is an insult to Islam.
On April 28, US soldiers in Iraq discovered detonation wires across the street from the newly built Huda Girls' school in Tarmiya, north of Baghdad. They followed the wire to its source and discovered the school had been built as a deathtrap. The pious Muslims who constructed the school had filled propane tanks with explosives and buried them beneath the floor. They built artillery shells into the ceiling and the floor. To save the world for Allah, they decided to butcher little girls.
And the brutality is not limited to the Middle East. Last month in Oslo, Norway, Norwegian-Somali women's rights activist Kadra was brutally beaten by a crowd of men piously calling out "Allah Akhbar." She was attacked for exposing the fact that inside their mosques in Norway, Norwegian imams praise female genital mutilation in the name of Allah.
LATE LAST year Hirsi Ali published her memoir, Infidel. In describing her own life, what she actually explains are the two competing human impulses - conformity and individualism. In her own life, the clash of the two has been played out on the stage of Islamic ascendance and Western cultural collapse.
Friday, May 11, 2007
...you can't be multicultural and preach murderous loathing of Jews, Britain's oldest and most successful (and most consistently anti-racist) minority. And you can't be multicultural and preach equally homicidal hatred of India, Britain's most important ally and friend after the United States. My colleague Henry Porter sat me down in his West London home and made me watch a documentary that he thought had received far too little attention when shown on Britain's Channel 4. It is entitled Undercover Mosque, and it shows film shot in quite mainstream Islamic centers in Birmingham and London (you can now find it easily on the Internet). And there it all is: foaming, bearded preachers calling for crucifixion of unbelievers, for homosexuals to be thrown off mountaintops, for disobedient and "deficient" women to be beaten into submission, and for Jewish and Indian property and life to be destroyed. "You have to bomb the Indian businesses, and as for the Jews, you kill them physically," as one sermonizer, calling himself Sheikh al-Faisal, so prettily puts it. This stuff is being inculcated in small children—who are also informed that the age of consent should be nine years old, in honor of the prophet Muhammad's youngest spouse. Again, these were not tin-roof storefront mosques but well-appointed and well-attended places of worship, often the beneficiaries of Saudi Arabian largesse. It's not just the mosques, either. In West London there is a school named for Prince Charles's friend King Fahd, with 650 pupils, funded and run by the government of Saudi Arabia. According to Colin Cook, a British convert to Islam (initially inspired by the former crooner Cat Stevens) who taught there for 19 years, teaching materials said that Jews "engage in witchcraft and sorcery and obey Satan," and incited pupils to list the defects of worthless heresies such as Judaism and Christianity.If we fall for the hackneyed trap that "It's all about Israel and the Mideast," we are doomed.
What this shows is the utter futility of the soft-centered explanations of the 7/7 bombings and other outrages. It was argued for a while that the 7/7 perpetrators were victims of unemployment and poverty, until their remains were identified and it became clear that most of them came from educated and reasonably well-off backgrounds. The excuses then abruptly switched, and we were asked to believe that it was Tony Blair's policy in Iraq and Afghanistan that motivated the killers. Suppose the latter to be true. It would still be the case that they belong to a movement that hates Jews and Indians and all kuffar, or "unbelievers": a fanatical sect that believes itself entitled to use deadly violence at any time. The roots of violence, that is to say, are in the preaching of it, and the sanctification of it.
If anything, Tony Blair is far too indulgent to this phenomenon. It is his policy of encouraging "faith schools" that has written sectarianism into the very fabric of British life. A non-Muslim child who lives in a Muslim-majority area may now find herself attending a school that requires headscarves. The idea of separate schools for separate faiths—the idea that worked so beautifully in Northern Ireland—has meant that children are encouraged to think of themselves as belonging to a distinct religious "community" rather than a nation. As Undercover Mosque also shows, Blair's government has appeased leading Muslim apologists by inviting them to join "commissions" to investigate the 7/7 attacks, and thus awarding them credibility well beyond their deserts. A preposterous and sinister individual named Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain and a man with a public record of support for Osama bin Laden, was made a convener of Blair's task force on extremism despite his stated belief that the BBC and the rest of the media are "Zionist controlled."
It's impossible to exaggerate how far and how fast this situation has deteriorated. Even at the time of the Satanic Verses affair, as long ago as 1989, Muslim demonstrations may have demanded Rushdie's death, but they did so, if you like, peacefully. And they confined their lurid rhetorical attacks to Muslims who had become apostate. But at least since the time of the Danish-cartoon furor, threats have been made against non-Muslims as well as ex-Muslims (see photograph), the killing of Shiite Muslim heretics has been applauded and justified, and the general resort to indiscriminate violence has been rationalized in the name of god. Traditional Islamic law says that Muslims who live in non-Muslim societies must obey the law of the majority. But this does not restrain those who now believe that they can proselytize Islam by force, and need not obey kuffar law in the meantime. I find myself haunted by a challenge that was offered on the BBC by a Muslim activist named Anjem Choudary: a man who has praised the 9/11 murders as "magnificent" and proclaimed that "Britain belongs to Allah." When asked if he might prefer to move to a country which practices Shari'a, he replied: "Who says you own Britain anyway?" A question that will have to be answered one way or another.
Is there a return to visionary Romanticism these days on classical music stations? In the last few months, I've heard an unusual number of works that heavily influenced me in my youth. Each of them has a passionate, rhythmic force or hypnotic lyricism: Leopold Stokowski's dynamic orchestral transcription of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor" (written for organ); Alexander Borodin's "Polovetzian Dances"; Ernest Chausson's "Poème" for violin and orchestra; and Ralph Vaughan Williams' "English Folk Song Suite."I dissent from the last sentence but the woman is entitled to her opinion. Unlike other war critics, she actually thinks before she speaks.
The Stokowski transcription of Bach had an explosive impact on me when I first heard it on my parents' 45 RPM record before I had even entered kindergarten. This week Philadelphia's WRTI played a spectacular recording of it by the Philadelphia Orchestra (for whom the transcription was originally done), conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch. The sonorities of those massed strings could make the earth shake.
The "Toccata and Fugue" is so thunderous, propulsive and over-the-top that it seems to prefigure the Led Zeppelin phase of early heavy metal. It's a clash of the titans: We're overhearing two quarreling aspects of Bach himself. The heroic, questioning, yet tragic individual voice looks forward to Romanticism, while the orderly affirmation of transfiguring collective faith looks back toward medievalism.
The Vaughan Williams "English Folk Song Suite" has special meaning to me because it was a splendid set piece of my concert band in the early 1960s at Nottingham High School in Syracuse, N.Y. The clarinets do a lot of heavy lifting in that piece. Alas, I played clarinet very badly (I was always last seat, third section), partly because I longed to play the drums -- considered unsuitable for a girl in that era.
To my surprise, I recently discovered that the "English Folk Song Suite" was originally written for military band and was not, as I had always thought, transcribed from an orchestral version. The date was 1923 -- a year after the publication of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," which registered the devastating disillusion of the generation that had lived through World War I, with its obscene carnage (over 8 million killed to redraw a few borderlines).
Thus Vaughan Williams' juxtaposition of folk song motifs with military riffs was a poetic relinking of British culture to its pre-modern agrarian past. That's exactly what Led Zeppelin did in their signature song, "Stairway to Heaven," which begins with the pipes of the medieval English countryside (whose fragrant herbs appear in "Scarborough Fair"). The savagery of war, with its wanton waste of young lives, would be purged and spiritually transcended through art.
But before purgation and transcendence, the bloodshed must stop. Bring the troops home from Iraq now.
The difference between government laws and private agreements is not that only the former are ultimately backed by force. The difference is that the cost of finding an alternative government jurisdiction is typically much higher than the cost of finding another private party to a contract.Read the whole article, look for "The Coercion Herring."
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
The bill, which the House passed and President Bush has threatened to veto, expands the federal government's involvement in prosecuting bias-motivated crimes by eliminating the requirement that victims be engaged in a federally protected activity such as voting. It also adds four new bias categories (gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability) to the existing four (race, color, religion, and national origin).Read the whole article.
Religious conservatives warn that the bill, combined with existing federal penalties for anyone who "counsels," "commands," or "induces" someone else to commit a crime, could be used against a pastor who condemns homosexuality if one of his congregants later assaults gay people. This seems like a stretch, especially in light of the well-established First Amendment rule that speech can be punished in such a situation only if it is intended to incite "imminent lawless action" and is likely to do so.
But it's not a stretch to say that hate crime laws, by their very nature, punish people for their opinions. A mugger who robs a Jew because he's well-dressed is punished less severely than a mugger who robs a Jew based on the belief that Jews get their money only by cheating Christians. A thug who beats an old lady in a wheelchair just for fun is punished less severely than a thug who does so because he believes disabled people are leeches.
The rationale for such unequal treatment is that crimes motivated by bigotry do more damage than otherwise identical crimes with different motivations because of the fear they foster. Yet random attacks arguably generate more fear, and hate crimes cause anxiety in the targeted group only when they're publicized as such. In any case, judges can take a crime's impact into account at sentencing.
Even if states were justified in punishing bigoted criminals more severely than merely vicious ones (as all but a handful currently do), the case for federal action would be weak. Unlike the situation in the Jim Crow South, there is no evidence that state and local officials are ignoring bias-motivated crimes.
The hate crime bill, which authorizes federal prosecution whenever the Justice Department perceives a bigoted motive and believes the perpetrator has not been punished severely enough, continues the unfortunate tendency to federalize crimes that are properly the business of state and local governments, just so legislators like Nancy Pelosi can show they care. Although the Bush administration claims to be concerned about this trend, the details of its objections to the bill (not to mention its history of supporting unconstitutional expansions of the federal government) suggest otherwise.
I came across my first fish weir last year while walking in the Boston Common. Fishweir.org is dedicated to making the rest of us aware of the artifacts and way of life of the city's Native American population going back 4,700 years. It's a pity that the city has not one landmark commemorating a way of life. As in the past, public school students will help build this year's fishweir on the Common. It will be on dsiplay for most of this month.
Buried under Boylston Street and the Green Line subway, fishweirs are direct evidence of the native communities that once occupied the area where urban Boston has grown.Here's a Globe story on the fishweir project from 2003.
In a city full of bronze sculptures of historical markers and memorials, there is no public display of information about the ancient fishweirs or the people who lived here 250 generations before the colonists arrived.
By engaging the imagination with the fishweir story, the Ancient Fishweir Project seeks to expand the timeframe of history told in Boston's public places and honor the memory of Boston's early Native inhabitants.
I was amused by Wonkette’s “analysis”:
Ok. So, the plot was: six dudes from New Jersey buy some guns and storm Fort Dix. The Fort Dix that is full of lots and lots of Army reservists with way, way more guns. And, like, extensive military training and shit. Yes, thank god these terrorists have been caught and locked up before they could be killed within minutes of deciding to carry out the dumbest fucking terrorist plot we’ve ever heard of.
Stateside, and overseas outside of combat zones, soldiers do not routinely carry weapons and ammo. Even though there are “way, way more guns”, they are locked up. Further, units generally don’t store a lot of ammo in their armories. This is the military’s version of a “gun free zone”*. Only the military police, and a few specific units for specific purposes might have ammunition and weapons co-located.
So the terrorists would have had a target rich environment until either someone got organized and counterattacked, or the terrorists ran out of ammo.
Clearly, the idiots at firedoglake and Wonkette** have no clue as to how things really work. That image of an ostrisch with it’s head in the sand is nearly correct; it’s head should be up its butt.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Monday, May 07, 2007
The story a cliche by now suggests that in the run up to the Iraq War, the media failed to ask the tough questions. A lot of this insincere self-flaggellation is the worst sort of Monday morning quarterbacking, an attempt not to look like supplicants particularly since the war is "not going well." But if there's any time to start asking question, the inconvenient kind, it is now.
Democrats’ initial solution — for a conflict alternatively lambasted for mass casualties, savaging of America’s reputation, inspiring “civil war”; with some even going so far as to call it the “greatest foreign policy blunder in American history” — was a pork-laden war-funding bill imposing timetables for withdrawing American troops.The Democrats won't admit this but all calls for timetables are admissions of defeat as Elliot notes. This is the same crowd that believes if we only weren't so pro-Israel or it that we were more compliant like Europe, Al-Qaeda will go gently into the night.
How such a measure would serve as an Iraq cure-all was never adequately explained. For its part, the media — the supposedly fearless D.C. press corps in particular — seemed satisfied with Democratic explanations that such measures are just responding to public demands. But if popular opinion provides a suitable compass for guiding foreign policy, why all the apologies for an earlier lack of skepticism with WMD?
Why not, instead, tough questions — like:
» Is a timetable for withdrawal intended to hasten victory — or defeat?
» If victory, how will withdrawal help?
» If defeat, how will that help national interests?
» How will abandoning Iraq’s burgeoning government affect America’s reputation in the region?
» A Taliban spokesman recently stated Osama bin Laden is coordinating insurgent attacks in Iraq. If true, how is it possible to simultaneously fight the war on terrorism but not insurgents in Iraq?
» What are some possible worst-case scenarios of withdrawing from Iraq?
» Should such a scenario manifest, what are Democrats’ contingency plans?
» The bill mandates the last of Iraq-stationed U.S. troops to leave by September 2008. What’s significant about this date other than being two months prior to the next presidential election?
These questions never came because the answers are obvious: Abandoning Iraq will hasten an American defeat; leaving the country halfway broken will leave a permanent scar on America’s regional reputation; it’s impossible to fight the war on terrorism but not Iraq’s insurgents; leaving Iraq could beget a full-fledged regional war; Democrats have no plan should such a contingency arise; the final pullout date is arbitrary aside from its intent of removing Iraq from the next election’s political equation.
That Israel item is a long-standing canard, not limited to the likes of Jimmy Carter or George Soros. As gitell.com points out the infinite loop of meeting the Palestinians at the bargaining table hasn't bought time nor friends from AQ.
Dore Gold, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations and the author of “Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism”, said that Al Qaeda grew more brazen as the peace negations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority intensified. He cited the Oslo Accords (1993), the Gaza-Jericho Agreement (1995), the Hebron Agreement (1997), Wye River Agreement (1998), and Camp David negotiations (2000) as examples of peace deals which coincided with Al Qaeda’s growth and early attacks in Saudi Arabia, on the U.S. embassies in Africa, on the U.S.S. Cole and the World Trade Center. “During the 1990s, the Clinton Administration dedicated unprecedented resources in trying to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” Mr. Gold said. “Yet in those very same years, Al Qaeda grew and expanded its operations. This history proves there is no correlation between Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and the rage that feeds the growth of Al Qaeda.”
Sunday, May 06, 2007
HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank.
The paper by the Optimum Population Trust will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family's carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.
John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, said: "The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights.
"The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child."
U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters says that the federal highway trust fund will lack sufficient funding from taxes beginning in 2009. She has been pressing states to look for alternatives to gasoline taxes.Now that's answer more tolls!
"The bottom line is that we are spending more than we take in, and we have nearly run through the balances that had built up in the fund," Ms. Peters told Congress in February. "The highway funding problem is not going to go away, nor can we put it off until the last minute."
The highway-fund shortage could be exacerbated if Congress raises fuel-economy standards to curb pollution and reduce reliance on foreign oil. Cars with higher fuel economy can travel longer without refueling.
Cars already are more fuel-efficient than they used to be. Two decades ago, passenger cars got an average of about 14 miles per gallon, according to the Department of Transportation. Now that number is 17 mpg -- in part because people are trading in older cars for new ones with greater fuel-efficiency. The number would be higher had the fuel economy of vans, pickup trucks and SUVs improved, but it has stayed about the same at just over 16 mpg.
Some states are imposing more tolls on highways to raise money. In 2005, states' income from tolls was $5.9 billion, up from $4.1 billion in 1998. In the past two years, 10 more states have begun the process of putting more tolls on new or existing roads.
The high turnout appears to be a rebuke to Old Europe and for insipid anti-Americanism.
"Although opinion polls regularly suggested voters preferred Royal, who was seeking to become France's first woman head of state, they saw the uncompromising Sarkozy as a more competent leader with a more convincing economic program."
Last Friday in an act of desperation, Royal accused Sarko of brutality -- hoping to flame racial tensions. We are all told how intellectually deft socialists are compared to conservatives. But the fine Segoline put that conceit to rest.
The sorrow started just after the end of the debate between Royal and Sarkozy. The debate, captured here with a twist of panache by Nidra Poller for Pajamas Media, didn’t go quite the way the Left had hoped. Ségo nearly knocked herself out a couple of times by losing her temper and making stuff up. Plus, it was weird stuff: Pressing Sarkozy to reveal his ignorance of exactly what percentage of energy France produces using nuclear power, and when Sarkozy ventured the amount was “more than half,” she answered her own gotcha question with a triumphant “17!” Unfortunately, the actual figure is somewhere around 80 percent, according to l’Express.It appears the smartert the chattering class says you are the dumber you really appear.
And when asked by Sarkozy exactly how high she intended to boost certain taxes, she replied, “As high as necessary to achieve social justice,” to which Sarkozy quietly remarked that the number perhaps lacked precision. The Don Imus moment of the debate came when Ségolène defended one of her statements by saying, “Words don’t hurt people.” And she’s right: Words don’t hurt people. People with words hurt people. The NRA could have told Sarko that. And to prove that particular point, Royal later warned Libération’s readers that if she loses, the nation could descend into violence.
Will Sarko be an improvement over Iraq Chirac? Who knows? But my guess is in the affirmative.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
President Bush and congressional leaders began negotiating a second war funding bill yesterday, with Democrats offering the first major concession: an agreement to drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq.
Democrats backed off after the House failed, on a vote of 222 to 203, to override the president's veto of a $124 billion measure that would have required U.S. forces to begin withdrawing as early as July. But party leaders made it clear that the next bill will have to include language that influences war policy. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) outlined a second measure that would step up Iraqi accountability, "transition" the U.S. military role and show "a reasonable way to end this war."
This item calls into question the Iraqi's own commitment to stepping it up.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I am happy to report to you that the Oxford Union, in its infinite wisdom, has allowed America to continue existing.Next time the rabid anti-Americans wallow in their prententious b.s. remind them who saved their ass in World War II. Ingrates I say.
After a raucous debate in front of a packed house, the motion - "this House regrets the Founding of America" - was overwhelmingly squashed.
Read this dispatch from the BBC.
Anti-Nazi movies keep coming out, from Confessions of a Nazi Spy and Hitler, Beast of Berlin in 1939 and on through The Great Dictator, The Mortal Storm, The Diary of Anne Frank, Sophie's Choice, Schindler's List, right up to the current Black Book. And many of these have included searing depictions of Nazi brutality, both physical and psychological.
But where are the anti-communist movies? Oh, sure, there have been some, from early Cold War propaganda films to such artistic achievements as The Red Danube, Ninotchka, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Killing Fields, East-West, and Before Night Falls. But considering that National Socialism lasted only 12 years in one country (and those it occupied), and Communism spanned half the globe for 75 years, you'd think there'd be lots more stories to tell about Communist rule.
No atrocities, maybe? Nazis and Brits were vicious, but Communists were just intellectually misguided? Well, that seems implausible. They murdered several times as many people. If screenwriters don't know the stories, they could start with the Black Book of Communism. It could introduce them to such episodes as Stalin's terror-famine in Ukraine, the Gulag, the deportation of the Kulaks, the Katyn Forest massacre, Mao's Cultural Revolution, the Hungarian revolution, Che Guevara's executions in Havana, the flight of the boat people from Vietnam, Pol Pot's mass slaughter—material enough for dozens of movies.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq was killed on Tuesday in a fight between insurgents north of Baghdad, the Interior Ministry spokesman said, but the U.S. military said it could not confirm the report..
There has been growing friction between Sunni Islamist al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups over al Qaeda's indiscriminate killing of civilians and its imposition of an austere brand of Islam in the areas where it holds sway.
If true, the death of Abu Ayyub al-Masri would signal a deepening split at a time when the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is trying to woo some insurgent groups into the political process