Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Peace in Sudan?

Apparently they've negotiated a "permament ceasefire" in Sudan:

Sudanese government and southern rebel officials on Friday signed a permanent cease-fire deal and endorsed a detailed plan on implementing a series of agreements to end a 21-year civil war in southern Sudan.
Clearly, this is permanent as in "not temporary" (the latter being the type of ceasefire where everyone gets a chance to collect their wounded and re-arm). My hope is that this ceasefire really is permanent; my suspicion is that it will be as temporary as any other ceasefire that region has seen.

When is something censorship -- and when is it not

I'm reading Michael Medved's book, Hollywood v. America, a book written 12 years ago, but one that could precisely describe the situation today: an entertainment industry that cranks out garbage, even when it's not in its economic interest to do so. That, though, is not what I want to talk about. What I wanted to talk about is the fact that, every time a consumer or citizens' interest group starts challenging something that comes out of the entertainment industry, the industry hollers "Censorship" -- and the critics often back off. Let me say it here and now: Illegal censorship is confined to government action, not to market forces or complaints from private citizens. Thus, the First Amendment states as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [Emphasis mine.]
Please note that the First Amendment says nothing about an individual's right to protest speech -- it is limited solely to government action. So next time you feel a business is saying something you deem inappropriate, feel free to speak up -- it's your right as a citizen, and neither the government nor the business can stop you. (Although the business, if it hears enough protests, might make a market-smart decision and change its behavior.)

Is there an upside to this?

Does the following story mean that, God forbid migraine suffers get a serious cut, they're also going to stop bleeding faster?

People who suffer from migraine headaches appear to express more genes that produce platelets, the specialized components in blood that are involved in clotting, researchers report.

America the Generous

A nice refutation from Jack Kelly to the U.N. charge (now taken up by the NY Times) that the US is stingy in the face of disaster:

The basis for it [the charge of US stinginess] is that the U.S. devotes only 0.14 percent of gross domestic product to foreign aid, according to figures compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Paris-based organization's figures do not include humanitarian assistance provided by the U.S. military, or U.S. food aid. But the OECD's big omission is private charity. As of Wednesday night, The American Red Cross had received $18 million in donations; Doctors without Borders, $4 million; CARE USA $3.5 million; Save the Children, $3 million; AmericaCares, $2 million; Oxfam America, $1.6 million, and Catholic Charities, $1.13 million. Private donations from Americans so far exceed contributions from any governments save our own, and dwarf private contributions from the rest of the world. Yet overpaid international bureaucrats like Egelund pay them no heed.
I haven't seen any figures on private donations from other nations (as opposed to government handouts). Any information on this?

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Of course, it's usually easy to find an equal and opposite study, but this one certainly provides food for thought:

Men would rather marry their female assistants than equal-ranking women or their supervisors, according to social psychologists. The results are based on a study of men's ratings of imaginary women with different job titles, during which they judged them according to their appeal as a one-night stand, friend, or long-term partner.

R.I.P. Artie Shaw

I didn't know Artie Shaw -- who must be the last of the big band leaders -- was still alive, but I'm very sorry to hear that, as this NY Times Obit shows, he died: "Artie Shaw, the jazz clarinetist and big-band leader who successfully challenged Benny Goodman's reign as the King of Swing with his recordings of 'Begin the Beguine,' 'Lady Be Good' and 'Star Dust' in the late 1930's, died today, his orchestra's manager, Will Curtis, said. He was 94 and lived in Newbury Park, Calif." It's rather wonderful to see what a ripe old age he achieved, and it's a great trip down musical memory lane to read the whole obit.

Ward and June Cleaver

I've been looking around at friends' marriages, and wondering what makes some happy and some unhappy. And I keep thinking of Ward and June Cleaver, who have always typified to me the classic American division of male/female roles in a "married with children" relationship. She maintains the house; he pays the bills. They are polite to each other. She is the first line of defense for matters involving the children, but he is the final word, and all defer to him. One could argue that, at least from the woman's point of view, it's a dreadful division, since she works hard, but he holds ultimate power. What's weird, though, is that the couples I know who have returned to a Ward and June life-style have very happy marriages. Each knows his or her area of responsibility within the relationship, and that seems to take away from, rather than to add to, stress. The other happy couples I know are those where they've truly mixed-and-matched the Ward and June roles. That is, both work, but both share equally in household management. Each seems to respect the other, and there is a health give-and-take for responsibility. I know only two couples who have achieved this, so it seems to be a real rarity, at least in my circles. The most angry marriages are those where the man clings to the Ward role, but expects his wife to be both June (household manager) and Ward (breadwinner). These are the households where the woman holds a full- or part-time job, and is also the primary caregiver for the children (when they're not in school), as well as the chief shopper, cook, laundress, and housecleaner. Sadly, this is also the dominant model in my community, and I think it goes a long way to explaining the very resentful women I know. The problem I'm observing is nothing new. Fifteen years ago, Arlie Hochschild wrote a book called The Second Shift, which examined relationships in which both man and woman work. I haven't read the book since its publication, but my memory is that the women who carried the heaviest load were the yuppie wives whose husbands paid lip-service to an "equal" relationship in the marriage. What Hochschild discovered is that those husbands -- even while claiming that, just as their wives added the Ward role to their June role, they too added the June role to their Ward role -- were creating an elaborate fiction themselves. Their "equal" role in the house amounted to toting out the garbage once a week, or picking up the occasional milk. Those who laid claim to all responsibilities outside the house's walls (that is, yardwork), essentially mowed the lawn weekly. Meanwhile, their wives, who also held full time jobs, were handling shopping, cooking, cleaning, childcare, and all other miscellaneous stuff. Ironically, those husbands who were most likely to provide real help around the house were the old-fashioned men who bitterly resented the economic necessity that forced their wives into the workplace. It was they who placed the most value on their wives' work, and were therefore most likely to recognize the women's sacrifice in leaving the home for the workplace. "Modern men," with their views of equality, seemed to see traditional women's work as valueless and were unwilling to sully their hands with it. It's interesting that, 15 years after I read that book as an unencumbered single, I look around my world and see that the book could just as easily have been written today, 'cause nothing's changed. Apparently Ward and June were on to something....

Victor Davis Hanson on the Left on National Review Online

"Get a life," says Victor Davis Hanson to the old Left:

As the old politics lie in ruin from hypocrisy and incoherence, the Left needs to get a new life. Here are a few more suggestions: * Remember that multilateral inaction -- whether in the Balkans, Rwanda, or Darfur -- is often calculated, selfish, and far more lethal to millions than risky interventions like removing the Taliban and Saddam. * Quit idolizing Europe. It was a far larger arms merchant to Saddam than was the United States; it supplied most of Dr. Khan's nuclear laboratory; it financed much of the Oil-for-Food scandal; and it helped to create and tolerate the Balkans genocide. It has never freed any country or intervened to remove fascism and leave behind democracy -- silly American notions that are to be caricatured except when it is a matter of saving Europeans. * Stop seeing an all-powerful United States behind every global problem. China is on the move and far more likely to disrupt environmental protocols, cheat on trade accords, and bully neighbors. The newly expanded Europe has a larger population and aggregate economy, stronger currency, and far less in trade and budget debts than does the United States -- and is already using that economic clout for its own interests, not global freedom from dictators and autocrats. * Don't believe much of what the U.N. says anymore. Its secretary general is guilty of either malfeasance or incompetence, its soldiers are often hired thugs who terrorize those they are supposed to protect, and its resolutions are likely to be anti-democratic and anti-Semitic. Its members include dozens of nations whose odious representatives we would not let walk inside the doors of the U.S. Congress. The old idea of a United Nations was inspiring, the current reality chilling. * Stop seeing socialists and anti-Americans as Democrats. When a Michael Moore compares beheaders to our own Minutemen and laments that too many Democrats were in the World Trade Center, he deserves no platform alongside Wesley Clark or a seat next to Jimmy Carter or praise for his pseudo-dramas from high Democrats. Firebrands like Al Sharpton and Michael Moore are the current leftist equivalents of 1950s right-wing extremists like the John Birchers. They should suffer the same fate of ostracism, not bemused and tacit approval. * Ignore most grim international reports that show the United States as stingy, greedy, or uncaring based on some esoteric formula that makes a Sweden or Denmark out as the world's savior. Such "studies" always ignore aggregate dollars and look at per capita public giving, and yet somehow ignore things like over $100 billion to Afghanistan and Iraq or $15 billion pledged to fight AIDS in Africa. These academic white papers likewise forget private donations, because most of the American billionaires who give to global causes of various sorts do so as either individuals or through foundations. No mention is made of the hundred of millions that are handled by American Christian charities. And the idea of a stingy America never mentions about $200 billion of the Pentagon's budget, which does things like keeping the Persian Gulf open to world commerce; protecting Europe; ensuring that the Aegean is free of shooting and that the waters between China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are relatively tranquil; and stopping nasty folk like the Taliban and Saddam from blowing up more Buddha monuments, desecrating Babylon, or ruining the ecology of the Tigris-Euphrates wetlands. Action and results, not rhetoric and intentions, are what matter. Cease blaming others for declining popularity. There is neither a Karl Rove conspiracy nor an envisioned red-state theocracy. No, the problem with our Left is what killed the dinosaurs: a desire to plod on to oblivion in a rapidly evolving world.
There's more to his article, and it's definitely worth reading if America wants to be in the vanguard of the new world order.

Reason #3,895,958 to get rid of the U.N.

This is a sad Rachel Raskin-Zrihen article about the U.N.'s conspicuous silence regarding Israel's significant contributions to the disaster relief effort in Southeast Asia. It's a pretty short article, so I include it here in its entirety:

You're unlikely to learn this in the world's newspapers, but Israel was among the first nations to offer help to those affected by last week's terrible disaster in south Asia. It sent doctors, supplies and set aside $100,000 for each nation hit by the recent tsunamis, according to reports in the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA). This wouldn't be such a big deal, except that reports of nations offering help released by the United Nations and printed in newspapers worldwide, don't include it. They do, however, include the donations several other countries whose contribution were as much or less. One report lists donations of personnel and material separately. Israel, which sent four top doctors from its Hadassah Hospital (including its head of general surgery and trauma, its chief of pediatrics and two anesthesiologists,) to Sri Lanka, the JTA reports, was not mentioned. You may not know that the American Jewish World Service expected to send its first shipment of medicine Tuesday to Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. The JTA reports the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is working with its office in Bombay and elsewhere to coordinate efforts to provide food, water, clothing and shelter to affected countries. B'nai B'rith is accepting donations to help victims, and an Orthodox outreach group in Thailand also responded to the crisis. It dispatched a rabbi to Phuket to aid rescue efforts, and turned three of their Thailand outposts into crisis centers where survivors can call home, have a free meal or receive funds for new clothing and medical help. You also might not learn, unless you searched the information out like I did, that there were perhaps 200 Jewish victims of the disaster still missing as of Tuesday, according to Israel's Foreign Ministry, which told the JTA that at least 33 Israelis are receiving treatment in hospitals in the region. I've read about the terrible losses suffered in this disaster by citizens of many other nations, but not a word about these people, which include a Belgian Jewish couple whose 11 month old son was reportedly ripped from their arms and drowned. In the same issue Tuesday, the JTA reported about a couple of Israeli scientists making a breakthrough in the treatment of AIDS, which follows closely on the heals of the two Israeli scientists recently awarded the Nobel Prize for their breakthrough in cancer treatment. But that's another story you're not likely to read much of in the mainstream press. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I can't think of an innocent explanation for the omission of Israel's contributions to this and other humanitarian efforts worldwide by the UN and the world's main media outlets. I can't help feeling it's a not-so-subtle attempt to isolate Israel and the Jewish people from the world community, at least in print and therefore in public opinion, even while Israel and many Jews go about the business of behaving like human beings. Not that they're doing what they do for recognition, but it's enormously frustrating that this keeps happening. For instance, did you know that Israel was the first country in the world, even before the United States, to conduct a national moment of silence for the 9/11 victims? This was done even as many Palestinians shouted, danced and handed out candy. Maybe you didn't know about that, either. The UN should just admit it despises the Jewish state and the Jewish people, has no intention of ever recognizing anything positive either ever does, and dispense with the pretense of fairness once and for all. But dispelling the myth that Israel in particular and Jews in general are the world's bad guys is imperative not just to combat growing worldwide anti-Semitism, but also for Jews who might, if they rely on the mainstream media for information, be starting to question themselves. Not to worry , though, the humanity of the people the former head of Malaysia recently accused of "inventing" human rights remains intact, no matter what you read or don't read in the paper.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Christian Science Monitor stacks the deck

The Christian Science Monitor did an article about the Presbyterian church's decision to divest from companies doing business with Israel. The monitor also included one of those ridiculous "click on the button" surveys to go along with that poll. My sister-in-law, when she learned about this insidious support for a disgusting business gambit, had the following to say:

It is time to divest from China for its blatant violations of human rights and decades long occupation of Tibet. It is time to divest from Saudi Arabia for its brutal suppression of liberties for women and non-Moslems. It is time to divest from India for perpetuating an internal apartheid state of "untouchables". It is time to divest from any nation which turns a blind eye to the sexual enslavement of children. It is time to divest from Russia for its aggressive responses to Chechnia. Not realistic? For all those who wish to divest from Israel, hold the rest of the world to the same standard. Very few countries will be left free from divestment. It is easy for the self-righteous to isolate Israel because it is tiny and isolated and we consume few of its goods. Divestment from China or Saudi Arabia would inconvenience us personally- but apparently the rights of all the other persecuted people on our planet are much less important right now than those of the Palestinians. I marvel at how the goal of annhiliation of Israel by its neighbors and the horrendous tactic of suicide bombings seem to not even factor into this "moral" divestment campaign. This is sanctimonious PC at its worst.

Here's one for the nightmares

Grim WaPo story that points out that terrorists face challenges with biological weapons but, as the paragraphs I've quoted show, they're making inevitable progress:

But specialists also say it is all but inevitable that al Qaeda or another terrorist group will gain the expertise to launch small-scale biological attacks and eventually inflict mass casualties. Information on the mechanics of creating bioweapons is easily accessible on the Internet and in technical manuals, and the equipment to do the job is readily found. Many brew pubs, for example, have fermenters that can cook up deadly germs. Advances in bioscience, and the rapid dissemination of this knowledge worldwide, are making it easier for even undergraduates to create dangerous pathogens. Creating microbe weapons is more challenging than producing the simplest implements of terrorism -- conventional explosives or chemical weapons -- but much less difficult than the most technically daunting -- nuclear weapons -- experts say.
Having read the book about the absolute horror of the Spanish Influenza in 1918, and being enough of a history buff to be familiar with the great epidemics in world history, biological weapons have always frightened me. And it's no consolation to know that the terrorists are completely in synch with long-standing attempts at biological warfare. Hundreds of years ago, soldiers besieging towns and castles tried to hasten events by hurling diseased corpses over the walls.

Potentially biased source for another "the US is the bad guy in all this" story

In a story about an American couple that survived the tsunami, the following sentences set the story up for an incredibly long riff about how awful the local US presence was:

Faye Wachs said she was impressed by the efforts of the Thai government and the International Committee for the Red Cross, but 'she was appalled at the treatment they got' from the U.S. government, her mother said.
What the story doesn't say is that the young couple, and the mother being quoted, are all from Berkeley, California. Now, that may not have anything to do with anything, but I know that the prevailing mindset in Berkeley is that the U.S. government is always wrong, and that U.S. interests are always evil, so it makes me somewhat suspicious that bias may be driving the narrative. That is, I don't think they're lying, but I do suspect that, given their background, they're incapable of perceiving the US response to anything as being appropriate.

LGF debunks spurious charges that the US is the stingiest nation in the world

I knew instinctively when I read the Washington Post that the numbers purporting to show that the U.S. is stingy were wrong, but LGF nicely explains why my instinct was correct.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The mountain was a molehill -- and AP does it again

After all the hoo-ha, it turns out that there was only a 300 vote difference after the Ohio recount (that Kerry said he wouldn't support before he changed his mind and supported) -- and the news is that President Bush still won by a wide margin:

Election officials finished the presidential recount in Ohio on Tuesday, with the final tally shaving about 300 votes off President Bush (news - web sites)'s six-figure margin of victory in the state that gave him a second term.
What's amusing is that the AP entitled this article "Ohio Recount Ends, Shows Vote Closer." When I read that, I thought that it was really close -- perhaps that it had narrowed to a triple, or quadruple digit difference, not that a mere 300 had been shaved of a six digit figure!

Dalrymple examines Islam

Here is a lucid Theodore Dalrymple article detailing the problems with Islam in the modern world. It's not a new analysis (you can see the same in Bernard Lewis's books), but it is clear and compassionate in its approach. I found it through David Brook's Hookie Awards article in the NYTimes. David Brook's lists a lot of very interesting articles from 2004 that are worth following up.

Follow-up on my "What the mainstream media" doesn't tell you article, below

A few posts below I point out how our armed forces, who are actually gaining information in Iraq first hand, support the war, while the American public, which gets the war filtered through the media, does not. I therefore include Joe Scarborough's article in its entirety:

Did you know that the overwhelming number of Shiites and Kurds support America's efforts to bring Democracy to Iraq in the form of elections this month? Did you know that Shiites make up 60% of Iraq? Did you know that Kurds make up 20% of Iraq? Did you know that the Sunnis, who have been dictators over Iraq, only make up 20% of the population -- and many of them support the vote in January? Did you know that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis support the US-backed elections in January? Did you know that the most powerful Shiite leaders in Iraq are telling their followers that participating in the American-led elections is a religious duty on par with fasting? Did you know that the Kurds in the north fought alongside, and often in front of US troops? Did you know that the overwhelming majority of soldiers and marines fighting in Iraq support the President's handling of the war? Did you know that the overwhelming majority of troops in Iraq believe this war is a noble cause? You don't know any of these facts if you get your information from the mainstream press. For whatever reason, these powerful media outlets spend a disproportionate amount of time reporting on the treachery of terrorists instead of the work of those building the first democratic Arab state in Middle East history. Former U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn once said that any jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a carpenter to build one. Sadly, American media remains fixated on the jackass angle of this remarkably important story. It seems freedom doesn't sell newspapers.

Another big lie

Click here for a compelling article by Alyssa A. Lappen that provides mountains of data demonstrating that the supposed murder of Mohammed Al-Durrah (who was allegedly shot by Israeli soldiers during a 2000 gun battle) was almost certain a hoax. Does this matter? Yes. As Lappen also demonstrates, Palestinians, Islamists, Europeans, and the usual hate-America, hate-Israel crowd have used this false footage to justify massacres and to take political positions antithetical to any hope of peace in the Middle East.

Another Zionist conspiracy?

Found this at the inestimable Power Line:

As inevitable as the attempt to blame the natural disaster in Asia on human greed and stupidity (see below) is the rejection by a third world government of help from an Israeli aid mission. Israel was prepared to send a 150-person team to Sri Lanka. The delegation was 'planning to assemble a medical facility comprised of specialist doctors, and to set up emergency, internal medicine and pediatric departments, as well as laboratory and X-ray facilities in the southern part of Sri Lanka.' However, Sri Lanka refused to accept the mission. Israel nonetheless is dispatching supplies at Sri Lanka's request, including 10,000 blankets contributed by the Israeli army, along with tents, nylon sheeting and water containers.
Since I heard that Indonesia is the country most heavily affected by the Tsunami, I have been telling friends and family (in jest) that I expect an Al Jazeera article any day now, claiming that it was not an earthquake that caused the Tsunami but, instead, an Israeli-detonated nuclear device, aimed at destroying Islam. Seems as if the affected countries are gearing up to head down that path already. UPDATE: The oriignal reports have been clarified a bit. Israel is still helping out, but not as originally proposed. I did not realize that Sri Lanka had restored diplomatic relations with Israel, so it may well be that the original news report, with its implications about Islamic rejection of Jewish help, was wrong.

Interesting what happens when the MSM is not filtering your information

As John Podhoretz points out, the people on the ground, who know what's going on, strongly support the President and the war in Iraq:

Support for the war inside the military stands at 60 percent, 25 percent higher than the latest Gallup measurement of the American people as a whole. When it comes to President Bush's handling of the war effort, the results are even more lopsided. Only 42 percent of Americans approve, according to ABC News. In the military, Bush garners 63 percent support. In other words, support for Bush's Iraq policy is an astounding half again as big in the active military as in the American body politic. And, in the words of the Army Times report on the poll, 'Support for the war is even greater among those who have served longest in the combat zone: Two-thirds of combat vets say the war is worth fighting.' It seems that the people who are actually putting their lives on the line believe in what they are doing -- and that those who have spent the most time in harm's way are the most passionate of all.
The main difference between the military and everyone else, is that the military is actually in Iraq, seeing what's taking place -- that is, they see whether they are actually effective, they see whether the average Iraqi is appreciative of their efforts, and they see the incredible evil that is the insurgents. In America, we receive our news carefully filtered through the mainstream media, and it is clearly a filter that alters the reality on the ground. Easy to identify the problem -- impossible to identify a solution. The only hope is that the MSM will become more and more marginal in a blogosphere age.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Another in my "for want of a nail" series of posts

I can't think of anything to add to this:

It emerged that U.S. officials who detected the quake tried frantically to warn Asia the deadly wall of water was on its way but there was no official regional alert system to contact.

We're paying money for this!!

Even the New York Times recognizes that the Modern Language Association is a joke, as can be seen from the following amusing article, which I reprint here in its entirety:

Every year more than 10,000 literature scholars gather at the end of December for the convention of the Modern Language Association, the 120th of which begins today in Philadelphia. Past conventions have yielded papers with titles that were rife with bad puns, cute pop-culture references and an adolescent preoccupation with sex, from 'Victorian Buggery' to 'Bambi on Top' and the tragically hip 'Judith Butler Got Me Tenure (but I Owe My Job to K. D. Lang): High Theory, Pop Culture, and Some Thoughts About the Role of Literature in Contemporary Queer Studies.' The convention has become a holiday ritual for journalists, as routine as articles on the banning of Christmas creches in public places, and every year a goodly number of those scholars tempt journalists to write articles, like this one, noting some of the wackier-sounding papers presented. Founded in 1883, the Modern Language Association barely registered on the public consciousness for its first century. Professors attended to doze through papers about Chaucer and Emerson, schmooze one another and lobby for posts at more prestigious campuses. But in the 1980's the conference became the site of annual skirmishes between old-school traditionalists and the increasing powerful new breed of postmodernists, multiculturalists, feminists and queer-theory advocates. The traditionalists insisted on subjecting literature to close textual and historical analysis; the newcomers seemed more intent on retrofitting classic works into currently trendy political theories on race, gender and sexuality. By the 1990's those skirmishes had helped start the so-called culture wars, and the association had been so overrun by theory that the Old Guard formed their own anti-M.L.A., the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics, which held its 10th annual conference in November in New Orleans. The Chronicle of Higher Education, a weekly academic journal, has said that this intramural battle of eggheads first went public at the 1989 Modern Language Association convention, when The New York Times noted a paper titled "Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl." Though downright demure compared to some papers at subsequent conferences, it sparked a public scandal and became a totem, some scholars believe, in the neoconservatives' attacks against the "campus radicals." Basking in this unaccustomed level of public notice, Modern Language Association scholars brought increasingly attention-grabbing papers to the convention through the 1990's, "queering" the "canon," some said, and championing the "postcolonial," proposing wild theories about everything from comic books to hip-hop to television and movies. Last year, perhaps hoping to put a stop to the trend, the Chronicle of Higher Education announced its first Annual Awards for Self-Consciously Provocative M.L.A. Paper Titles (a k a the Provokies) but this year the Chronicle decided to drop the awards. Scott McLemee, a senior Chronical writer, explained that "crafting titles to get them written about and attacked in the press used to be exciting. "Now it's become a reflex, and their hearts aren't really in it anymore." However, from this year's several thousand entries, the Provokies may still have a long, robust life. After two solid decades "queered" remains a major preoccupation, evidenced by titles like "She's Just Like Alvy Singer! Kissing Jessica Stein and the Postethnic Jewish Lesbian," "The Lesbian Mammy," "Queering World War II," "t.A.T.u. You! The Global Politics of Faux Lesbian Pop" (t.A.T.u., meaning tattoo) is a Russian female pop group), and "A Place for Giggling Field Hands: Queer Power and Social Equality in the Mid-20th-Century Plantation Myth." Then there's the race/sexuality/avant-gardist trifecta of "Feeling Around in the Dark: Black Queer Experimental Poetry." Tragic hipness, multicultural agendizing and an almost abject embrace of low/popular culture converge in titles like " 'Dude! Your Dress Is So Cute!' Patterns of Semantic Widening in 'Dude,' " an entire session dedicated to papers on Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ," "Urban Expressionism: Theater, Ritual, and the Hip-Hop Generation's Black Arts Movement," "Utopia in the Borderlands; or, Long Live El Vez the King" (El Vez is a Latino Elvis impersonator), and "A Pynch in Time: The Postmodernity of Prenational Philadelphia in Thomas Pynchon's Mason and Dixon and Mark Knopfler's 'Sailing to Philadelphia' " (Mr. Knopfler is a rocker best known for wanting his MTV). The clunkiness of all this suggests that eggheads are still nerds, but it that some of them are terribly self-conscious about it now. Clearly they still have a lot of sex on their minds (and time on their hands), judging from titles that range from the painful-sounding "Wandering Genitalia in Late Medieval German Literature and Culture" to the salacious "(Post) Feminist (Porno) Graphics, à la Française" to the achingly 90's "The Cyberjunkie and Cyberporn Princess: Reflections on the Virtual Reality of a Subjectless Asian American Critique." This is the type of theory the Berkeley professor Frederick Crews famously satirized in his 2001 Modern Language Association parody "Postmodern Pooh." And there's much, much more. What any of it has to do with teaching literature to America's college students remains as vexing a question to some today as it was a decade ago. There is, in fact, something achingly 90's about the whole affair. The association has come to resemble a hyperactive child who, having interrupted the grownups' conversation by dancing on the coffee table, can't be made to stop. Citing Professor Crews's book in The Partisan Review last year, Sanford Pinsker said: "In my better moods, I try to convince myself that 'Postmodern Pooh' marks the end of the arrant foolishness that has turned literary studies into a laughingstock; in my darker moments, however, I fear that there are other, even more outrageous would-be celebrities hoping to cash in on whatever post-postmodernism turns out to be." Or, as Mr. McLemee put it: "The circus is looking pretty threadbare, and the ones trying to do the freak show aspect of it are looking silly now." And yes, many believe that the press is encouraging them by continuing to pay attention.
The real joke, of course, is on American taxpayers who are helping fund this garbage, which is being taught at America's universities, and on American parents, who think their children are actually getting some benefit from their oh-so-expensive higher educations.

Inflation strikes home

Not that I haven't been aware of inflation, but the following New York Times article about a website for associates trapped in the living hell of big law firms, shocked me by the second paragraph, simply because of its mention of the "$2,400-a-week" summer interns. In my days, summer interns were already grossly overpaid at $600 a week. As someone who has left that rat race, I can revel in the disgust of it all:

"HE lives at the law firm, blowing off his wife's dinner parties, not to mention the birth of his son. He finds no satisfaction in his work, but he is trapped by his high salary and partner title. He disdains everyone lower in the hierarchy: the smarmy $2,400-a-week summer interns, the idealistic associates who want to help poor people on company time, the associates who have the audacity to become pregnant and his incompetent secretary who broke the crystal plaque he received from a client. He is, in short, a petty, cynical, sexist, miserable, overpaid corporate creep. He is also fictional."
It's an amusing article, and worth the few minutes it takes to read. As we former big firm associates learned, golden handcuffs are still handcuffs.

Mother Nature puts things in perspective

I know this is an absolutely correct scientific statement, but I actually have a problem grappling with the immensity of it all:

'All the planet is vibrating' from the quake, said Enzo Boschi, the head of Italy's National Geophysics Institute. Speaking on SKY TG24 TV, Boschi said the quake even disturbed the Earth's rotation."
Can you believe that? It disturbed the earth's rotation! Given that, although it is scant consolation to the tens of thousands dead, and the hundreds of thousands affected, I guess we should all be grateful that its effects were not felt further. On the other hand, considering that it took almost two days for the tsunami to hit Africa, I may be giving thanks too soon.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

A few paragraphs that nail the lunacy on the head

XCollin Levey has written a nice column dissecting the ACLU's annual attack on religious expression. In just a few paragraphs from the article, she effectively slices and dices the ACLU's misinterpretation of the Constitution and its anti-Christian bent:

Absolutists have warped the intended protection of freedom of religion to freedom from religion. And, as with most extremist and slippery-slope arguments, they've provoked exactly the kind of reaction they claim to fear. These ACLU-provoked fights over prayer in schools, the Ten Commandments and creches in the town square helped whet the growing political consciousness of the Christian right. An ACLU legal bulletin claims that Supreme Court doctrine on the Establishment Clause forbids not only state practices that 'aid one religion . . . or prefer one religion over another,' but also those practices that 'aid all religions' and thus endorse or prefer religion over nonreligion.' That dubious reading has found some support in the wilder reaches of the federal court system. The left coast's Ninth Circuit, for instance, famously tried to ban the words 'under God' from the pledge of allegiance last year. The problem isn't just the ACLU's oddball principles: Its enforcement regime is selective and agenda-oriented. When the University of North Carolina made the Koran required reading a few years ago, the ACLU issued not a peep. New York City has carved a narrow path by allowing menorahs and crescents but not manger scenes.
I also find it very disturbing that Christianity alone is banned from the public square, while towns make a big deal of Menorahs (and signs of other faiths). Since I'm Jewish, I would be very unhappy if the 85% of Christians in this country, instead of simply demanding (appropriately) that they be allowed back into the public square, begin to talk of removing Jews from that same forum. After all, given the way this is plahing out, it wouldn't be bizarre for Christians to perceive this ACLU action, not as purely secular lunacy interpreted by bewildered municipalities, but as an attempt to promote Judaism at Christianity's expense. (Call it the law of unintended consequences.)

I don't often agree with Tom Friedman anymore, but this time he got it right

Although he can't resist a gratuitous dig at the Bush administration, for the most part, this time Tom Friedman got it right. His most telling point appears about half-way down his opinion article:

However this war started, however badly it has been managed, however much you wish we were not there, do not kid yourself that this is not what it is about: people who want to hold a free and fair election to determine their own future, opposed by a virulent nihilistic minority that wants to prevent that. That is all that the insurgents stand for. Indeed, they haven't even bothered to tell us otherwise. They have counted on the fact that the Bush administration is so hated around the world that any opponents will be seen as having justice on their side. Well, they do not. They are murdering Iraqis every day for the sole purpose of preventing them from exercising that thing so many on the political left and so many Europeans have demanded for the Palestinians: 'the right of self-determination.'

Really interesting analysis about the red/blue divide

While checking out Power Line, found this great link to a Michael Lind article about the red/blue divide in America. Definitely worth reading if you have the time.

The AP ("Anti-American Propaganda" organization) is at it again

Go to Little Green Footballs for yet another shocking example about how the AP is attempting to propgandize for anti-American interests.

The Liberals' new racism

Finally caught up last night with last week's episode of "The West Wing." While I no longer agree with the politics, I still enjoy the show's conceit that its audience can understand words of more than one syllable. I therefore keep watching it. (Although I did boycott the two opening episodes this season, with their idiotic "Liberals can solve the Middle East problem" plot-line. If that is really true, why did Clinton's presidency result in nothing more than the second intifadah? But I digress....) In this episode, Donna, the intelligent, attractive, articulate, reliable blonde secretary to Josh Lyman (they're sort of the Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell duo, without the romance), quit. Josh did not take her quitting seriously until he saw her temporary replacement sitting at her desk. And this was where the weird part came in: the secretary was overweight, slow, incompetent, loaded with attitude -- and black. My first thought was, "Wow, that's a racist stereotype there." My second thought was, "Wow, the Liberals are doing this more and more often." You don't need to search far for the vicious racist attacks on Condi Rice when she was appointed Secretary of State. (Many of these attacks are collected and criticized here.) This same kind of "ism" showed up in liberals' attacks on the mentally disabled. So, you have to ask yourself, what's going on? The liberals are using anti-black and anti-handicapped stereotypes to advance their agenda, and the MSM isn't letting out even a squeak. Could it be that the liberals feel that they "own" these special interest groups? (A la's "ownership" of the Dems?) You know -- the kind of thing where the older kid says, "Only I get to beat up my younger brother." Or, perhaps, where only African-Americans can call each other by the "N" word. Whatever is going on, it's extremely distasteful, and I wonder when the African-American community will get the message that, while liberals consider the community a vehicle for their social experiments, they do not respect African-Americans. Instead, they clearly buy into decades of racist ideas about that community. Perhaps that's not surprising, considering that the liberals' social experiments are all predicated on the theory that blacks cannot help themselves. Witness their investment in unlimited welfare, their insistance on affirmative defense, and their patent belief that blacks are an infantile group. This last belief is demonstrated by liberal outrage at conservatives suggesting that young black women can resist teen pregnancy; that black students do not benefit from affirmative action, but are held back by it; or that young black men are completely capable of comporting themselves in a successful, adult manner. (Stop me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it a white L.A. jury that acquitted the men who attacked Reginald Denny on the ground that the young men were in a "rapture" and couldn't control themselves? If that's not racist, I don't know what is. We expect dogs and children to behave themselves but, if you're white and liberal, you don't expect the same from young black men. Feh!)

The new Christian Pariah

I say "ditto" to Don Feder's column:

In America today, Christians have many enemies and few friends. I would like to be counted among the latter. It might appear odd that, as a Jew, I would support Christians and the concept of Christian America. Once upon a time, it would have seemed equally strange for a Christian to call himself a Zionist. But the world is forever and relentlessly changing. As a member of one of the most persecuted minorities in history, I can relate to what Christians are experiencing in the first decade of the 21st century. In America today, devout Christians are rapidly assuming the roles traditionally assigned to Jews during the long centuries of exile: scapegoats, objects of ridicule, the focal point of conspiracy theories, and the despised 'other.'
Read it all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Mosul attack -- God willing -- represents rearguard actions of a defeated foe

Frederick Chiaventone makes a nice argument that the bombing in Mosul, although devastating, actually indicates that the insurgency is dying out, not revving up:

As if it was not bad enough for thousands of American soldiers to be far away from home at Christmas, now comes the latest assault -- a devastating attack on the dining facility at Forward Operating Base Merez, just outside of the city of Mosul. It was a deadly and dastardly assault deliberately engineered by the enemy to catch American and Iraqi troops with their guard down. At least 19 Americans are dead and more than 60 people are wounded. The casualties include U.S. American soldiers and contractors and Iraqi soldiers. *** More likely it will be found that this was a suicide attack in keeping with the claims of the so-called Ansar al-Sunnah Army, which claims credit for this operation. The statements of some survivors about the presence of "ball bearings" scattered among the wreckage tend to support this possibility. But the key point of this attack — and indeed of a number of recent attacks against U.S. soldiers, Iraqi police and military and, most significantly, Iraqi civilians — is that the insurgents are taking fewer and fewer personal risks. Devastated by American assaults, demoralized by the stubborn determination of Iraqis to participate in upcoming elections and to return to a normal and newly democratic life, the radical Islamists are desperate. Their perverted dream of a medieval society dominated by terror is evaporating before their very eyes. The Iraqi people are winning. Thus the terrorists pursue any desperate ploy to disrupt, to delay to terrorize the Iraqi population. You'll notice that I did not refer to the population as "their fellow Iraqis" because a great many of the terrorists are now foreigners — Syrians, Palestinians, Saudis, Iranians — the enemy has had to draw from disaffected radicals throughout the region. They're fighting a losing battle.
I will only add, as an aside, that Israeli civilians have faced these kinds of devastating attacks -- when their guards are down -- for the life of the State of Israel, and with particular ferocity during the last intifadah.

Left-handed compliment from the right from the NYTimes

Sweetly bewildered article from the NY Times about Sam Brownback, a humanitarian politician who hews to the right:

Members of the Christian right, exemplified by Mr. Brownback, are the new internationalists, increasingly engaged in humanitarian causes abroad - thus creating opportunities for common ground between left and right on issues we all care about. So Democrats should clamber down from the window ledges, roll up their sleeves and get to work on some of these issues. Because I'm embarrassed to say that Democrats have been so suspicious of Republicans that they haven't contributed much on those human rights issues where the Christian right has already staked out its ground.
Kristoff properly urges the Democrats to ally themselves with Republicans on these humanitarian issues, but the gist of the article is that, while it is the Right that is recognizing much of the real suffering in the world today, it really can only be the Left that steps forward with the humane, workable solutions.

Drat -- those nefarious Bush economic policies just keep helping the economy

There must be much gnashing of teeth amonst those (can we say "Paul Krugman," girls and boys?) who kept (and keep) saying that Bush is the disastrous president the American economy has ever seen, when they read something like this:

U.S. economic growth was stronger than previously thought in the third quarter because imports were less hefty than originally estimated, the government said on Wednesday, but corporate profits weakened. The Commerce Department said gross domestic product, the gauge of total goods and services production within U.S. borders, grew at a 4 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter instead of 3.9 percent. Third-quarter growth was a step up from the second quarter's 3.3 percent pace and implied steady and sustained expansion for the balance of 2004 and into next year. The economy has grown at rates above three percent for the past six quarters, setting a relatively robust pace that the Bush administration predicts will last. The White House last Friday forecast GDP will grow 3-1/2 percent in 2005, a rate seen as 'trend growth' that keeps unemployment from rising.
Maybe the American people, blessed even with a miniscule tax cut, are better at developing the economy than is the gulping, greedy, gargantuan American government.

Just a reminder of the difference in tactics

Israel targets buildings and builds walls, Palestinian terrorists aim for children and the faithful:

Jewish worshippers and schoolchildren were the targets of some of Tuesday's numerous Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli towns in and around the Gaza Strip.
Fortunately, no one was hurt in this attacks.

Canaries in the coalmine

Michelle Malkin has a chilling column about the violence committed against Christians worldwide, and how our Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays battle is still, mercifully, small potatoes:

Yes, it's maddening when politically correct bureaucrats ban nativity scenes and Christmas carols in the name of 'diversity' and 'tolerance.' We are under attack by Secularist Grinches Gone Wild. But the war on Christmas in America is a mere skirmish.
She ends her article by saying
If America's mainstream media would give the global War on Christianity just a fraction of the attention it pays to the War on Christmas, lives might be saved. And light would be shed on the true heroes of the original religion of peace. Doing so, however, would require the nation's secularized pundits and pontificators to take religious persecution seriously. In that, alas, I have no faith.
I think it's not just a matter of the MSM taking religious persecution seriously. I suspect that many MSM members, when hearing about American missionaries abroad, feel that the missionaries took a known risk, and it's nobody else's business. As for the Christians killed at the hands of their own countrymen, for the non-religious, the obvious answer is for these Christians to convert, or to keep their religion a secret. In a secular universe, there is no virtue in standing up for faith. And since members of the MSM view the problem purely through a religious prism (or, I should say, a non-religious prism), I don't think they appreciate the broader problem: There are huge swathes in this world (places that we routinely defer to out of mistaken multiculturalism) that are brutally totalitarian. As a Jew, when I hear about silence in the face of persecution, I am always reminded of Pastor Martin Niemöller's statement regarding the Nazis: "First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me." The Jews are almost always the canary in the coalmine in an unhealthy country. And in this day and age, when there are no Jews (and sometimes simultaneously with the Jews), Christians come next. Someone had better start speaking out for the Christians soon, or there will be no one left.

Things are getting better . . . when they're not getting worse

Follow this Power Line link to a short, lucid commentary about the fact that, while we hear about extreme Islamists, in a quiet, background way, moderate Islamists are making real progress.

A spirited Rumsfeld defense

I've been having a hard time understanding the constant attacks on Rumsfeld, but have shied away from the subject, since it implicates technical matters about which I know nothing. Nevertheless, I appreciate and believe in Jack Kelly's spirited defense of Rumsfeld, a part of which I include below:

I wish Rummy were more diplomatic. And though it isn't Rumsfeld's fault that we had only a 10 division Army when the war on terror began, he has been slow to recognize that the conflict we're in now requires an Army of at least 12 division equivalents. Still, I think Donald Rumsfeld has been the best secretary of defense ever. Rumsfeld and Gen. Tommy Franks presided over two of the most successful military campaigns in history. Rumsfeld was right and his critics wrong about the best way to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq. 'Advocates of the old, heavyweight Army have never forgiven Rummy for advocating lighter, more mobile forces, but Rumsfeld was correct,' said the Washington Post's David Ignatius. Rumsfeld is re-aligning an obsolescent Cold War basing system that had tens of thousands of troops sitting needlessly in Germany and Korea, protecting the ungrateful from a threat that had vanished. Rumsfeld is overhauling a procurement system that delivers us very expensive weapons a generation behind modern technology, and a Pentagon civilian employee management system which delivers the least work for the most cost. Rumsfeld is pushing forward with ballistic missile defense, something for which we will be very grateful if diplomatic efforts fail (as they almost certainly shall) to get Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. None of this is important, Rumsfeld's critics say, because he's used an autopen to sign condolence letters to the families of service members killed in action.

There is a fifth column in America, and we can't be blind to its existence

I accept as entirely true that most American Muslims accept and enjoy the values of a pluralistic culture. We must be aware, however, that not all do, and that while they enjoy are material benefits, they would also like to impose a worldview antithetical to American values (and that, incidentally, would utterly destroy the high standard of living we enjoy in America). So, this is something we can't hide from:

"Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth." This was the sentiment of Omar M. Ahmad, the Chairman of the Board of the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR, as told at an Islamic conference held in Freemont, California, in July of 1998.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Just a reminder why Israel is building a fence

The Palestinian's claimed before the UN that the bad Israelis were inconveniencing them by building a fence. Here is a reminder why the Israelis so badly need the fence. It also emphasizes the intellectual bankruptcy that lets pro-Palestinian people equate inconvenience on one side, with gross, brutal slaughter on the other:

A knife-wielding assailant, likely an Arab infiltrator from the West Bank, brutally stabbed to death a mother of four Tuesday at her door to her home in Moshav Nehusha south of Beit Shemesh. The woman was identified as Ariella Fahima, 39. Her 12-year-old daughter discovered her bloodied body when she came home from school and rushed to her neighbors in shock. Police immediately launched a widespread manhunt, but failed to apprehend any suspects. Searches detected a hole in the perimeter fence and tracks leading to one of the Palestinian villages across the Green Line just a few kilometers away. It was the first fatal terrorist attack in the region for over a dozen years but came amid repeated warnings that terrorists would slip into the region from Judea since the security fence has not yet been built here. According to Police, the woman, whose identity was not immediately released, had apparently returned to Nehusha from shopping at the market in Beit Shemesh, some 15 kilometers away. Evidence suggests she put down her groceries and then detected one or more assailants. She tried to flee, but was caught by her door where her throat was slit and she was repeatedly stabbed. Police estimate the attack took place around noon and it wasn't until 1:30 when her daughter found her. Her mobile phone was found near by. Israel Police spokesman Gil Kleiman said Tuesday evening that the evidence was increasingly leaning toward nationalist terror attack. They also found no immediate personal or criminal motives. Nevertheless, the investigation into the murder was being conducted by the criminal detectives as well as the minorities unit, he said. The woman, whose identity has not yet been released, is survived by her husband and four young children. He husband is a well-known veteran Border Police officer and responsible for volunteers in the region whose task it is to protect the moshavim and villages from Palestinians. The moshav is religious and located on an isolated hilltop less than 2,000 meters from the Green Line. It has suffered for decades from theft from the Arabs across the border, but this is the first time that they have murdered anyone in the area for over 20 years. There is no security fence since work is only in progress about 15 kilometers south near Moshav Sheqef. The victim's husband was at a course in Netanyah when he suspected something was wrong after he failed to get his wife on the telephone. But it was up to their 12-year-old daughter to make the gruesome find when she came home from school. She was to be buried in Ashkelon Wednesday. Farms and settlements in the Elah Valley/Adullam region have been suffering from an unprecedented wave of thefts. Border Police have said that this was due to the plans to erect the security fence and the Palestinians' desire to "stock up the warehouses" before the fence is completed. Ironically, as the murder was taking place, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was announcing that work on the security fence in this region of the Judean foothills would be going ahead soon and completed within six months. "I believe that in light of the hasten work we have done planning the revised route that we'll be able to complete most of the fence including the southern stretch by the middle of 2005," Mofaz said, but he warned that it could take longer since the pace wasn't entirely up the defense establishment. "We have warned the regional council heads over two years ago that as the fence is completed in other areas, there will be incident in that area. If it had been completed as it could have been. This woman would be alive today," said Marc Luria, a spokesman for the Security Fence for Israel lobby group.

Wondering what reaction will be in the face of this tragedy

The horrible boming in Mosul made me wonder about Americans' reactions in the upcoming days. My reaction is that the people who did this should be hunted down and squished like bugs. I suspect, though, that many Americans will feel that we've clearly hurt the radical Muslim's feelings, that they're letting us know how hurt they are, that we should apologize for putting them to this pain, and that we should go away. Considering that I believe those who write that our current poor relationship with radical Muslims derives, in part, from America's persistent habit of apologizing and running (a policy Jimmy Carter instituted in Iran), I can think of anything worse to do. Back in WWI, the British had a rather crude expression: the Hun is either at your throat or at your feet. They were pointing to the fact that Germany was hierarchical and binary: you were either top dog, or bottom dog. I think the radical Muslims are the same way and, if they're going to persist in that binary world-view, I'd rather have them at my feet than at my throat.

Monday, December 20, 2004

As always, Jeff Jacoby nails it, this time opining about a non-Christian being comfortable with Christmas displays

I think you'll see in an earlier post that I raved about my neighbors' taking the time to put up Christmas displays, which bring pleasure to everyone -- especially kids. Jeff Jacoby takes this idea and broadens it, to point out that, in a pluralistic society, this is a healthy religious display, and not something threatening that should be quenched. Some choice language from his article:

I enjoy Christmas decorations -- and Christmas music, and the upbeat Christmastime mood -- and I say that as a practicing Jew for whom Dec. 25 has no theological significance at all. I have never celebrated Christmas, but I like seeing my Christian neighbors celebrate it. I like living in a society that makes a big deal out of religious holidays. Far from feeling threatened when the sights and sounds of Christmas surround me each December, I find them reassuring. They reaffirm the importance of the Judeo-Christian culture that has made America so exceptional -- and such a safe and tolerant haven for a religious minority like mine.

Hurrah! Mark Steyn is back!

He'd snuck into National Review, and here he is, back with his first Telegraph article in I don't know how long:

One December a few years back, I was in Santa Claus, Indiana, and went to the Post Office - a popular destination thanks to its seasonal postmark. 'Merry Christmas!' I said provocatively. But Postmistress Sandy Colyon was ready for me. 'A week ago,' she said, 'I'd have had to say 'Happy Holidays', but we've been given a special dispensation from the Postmaster-General allowing us to say 'Merry Christmas'. So Merry Christmas!'

Must-read, LOL funny analysis of the people who tried to affect election-year 2004

If you haven't already, enjoyThe 3rd Annual Twenty Most Annoying Liberals In The United States: The 2004 Edition.

Someone who confuses the homeless problem

I always wonder how many of the homeless are truly destitute people, how many are drug addicts (whom I have a hard time feeling very sorry for, I just feel somewhat sorry) and scam artists. This article, tells about one of the latter:

Paula Headley dressed for her job in Midtown -- wearing a filthy blanket and a pathetic look on her tear-streaked face. Then she headed home at the end of a busy day -- clad in a casual-chic jogging outfit and a warm hat. Meet the Fifth Avenue faker -- a fixture for four years on the famous thoroughfare, where she begs change from high-fashion shoppers.
There's more, but I'll stop here. I'm not quite sure what to make of this philosophically. It's fraud, it makes the City look filthy, and it blurs the reality between a genuine homeless/poverty problem, and piggybackers. So, I guess I'd have to conclude that I think it's a lousy scam.

The ICRC deserves to be under attack for becoming a biased political body

This in from the National Review Online. It only gets better after this strong start:

If you believe the editors of The New Republic (TNR), the "vast right-wing conspiracy" has found another victim -- this time in the form of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In its December 20, 2004, issue, TNR castigates the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and the Wall Street Journal's editorial page for daring to contest and criticize the ICRC's own repeated attacks on the Bush administration's classification and detention of enemy combatants captured in the war on terror. The ICRC has been the subject of all this right-wing "vitriol," note TNR's editors, for "having the temerity to do its job." In fact, the ICRC has drawn this fire not for doing its job, which is to act as a neutral and impartial interlocutor during wartime. Rather, it has been the subject of well-deserved criticism for acting like an international-advocacy group whose job is to promote a radical vision of international law that the United States has flatly rejected, and which would do great harm to its vital national interests. That is why conservatives are rightly miffed at the ICRC, and why they have properly let their views be known.

I think this is an accurate analysis about the impact in the Middle East of Bush's reelection

Just a tease from Zev Chafets' lengthier article about the effect George Bush's reelection may have on the world situation:

Bush's critics (including some self-interested Republicans) want him to admit that the war in Iraq has gone wrong by firing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The immediate justification is equipment shortages, an issue that made headlines when a G.I. complained to Rumsfeld that he and his buddies had to rummage in scrap heaps to 'up-armor' their vehicles. The President has no reason to do this. For one thing, his policy in Iraq is not a failure. But it will be if he listens to his detractors. The U.S. can't lose a shooting war in Iraq. Its military might is too great. But insurgencies are fueled by optimism. The hope of the jihadis and Saddamites is that they can persuade Americans that this war, like Vietnam, is unwinnable. Bush's job is to take that hope away by making America's enemies, in Iraq and beyond, believe that the U.S. cannot and will not be stopped. Reelection helps. Nobody in the Middle East read the results as a vindication of Republican principles on gay marriage, abortion or Social Security reform. It was seen as a mandate for war. Bush is the strong horse, and he has been given four more years to run.

The Dutch crisis -- they're aware of a problem but afraid to act

Great Christopher Caldwell article about the tumult in Holland since Van Gogh's murder. It's a long article, and the following is a only a snippet, intended to whet your appetite:

The Dutch immigration crisis--which, as elsewhere in Europe, is a polite way of saying its Islam crisis--has moved to a higher pitch than in any other country in the West. Naturally, security concerns are also driving reform. Justice minister Piet Hein Donner wants tougher laws to permit holding terrorist suspects without trial. Most everyone in the Netherlands, whether they support or oppose it, believes something like the Patriot Act is coming to their country, too. But on top of that, the Dutch public is being presented with an interpretation of their crisis that other publics in Europe are not. Namely, the view that the problem is not 'radicalism' or 'marginalization' or 'fundamentalism' but Islam--that Islam and democracy don't coexist well. There are several reasons that the debate has taken a different turn in the Netherlands, but primary among them is the presence of outspoken Muslims.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Amongst radical Muslims, tolerance is a one way street

Charles Moore weighs in on the proposed law in England that would make it a crime to criticize Islam. I won't quote the whole article, but urge you to read it:

Readers may remember that, last week in this column, I defended the right of people to say - though it is not a proposition with which I agree - that the Prophet Mohammed was a paedophile. So my question to whoever happens to be Home Secretary is whether it would be an offence under the new law to assert this proposition. Muslims are also very offended by any pictorial depiction of the Prophet; so I asked whether such depictions would also be an offence under the law. Fiona Mactaggart, who is minister for race equality, has accused critics of the new law of a misunderstanding. It is not a blasphemy law, she says. You can say anything you like about the beliefs: what you will not be allowed to do is to insult the believers because of what they believe. I do not see how this distinction will be possible to maintain: it is certainly not one which Muslims accept. On this page on Tuesday , Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, clearly saw the law as a way of preventing 'the vilification of dearly cherished beliefs'. He sees attacks on the Prophet as attacks on all Muslims - therefore, in his view, they should be banned. That is what Muslims think Labour has promised them. The reaction to my own article shows the problem. The Muslim Association of Britain (not to be confused with the MCB) said that what I had written was 'repulsive', composed out of an 'arrogance borne by only the most zealous of racists'. Because of my 'filth and drivel', I should be dismissed from The Daily Telegraph, and the paper should apologise. Just in case the point was missed, the MAB reminded the paper of the lessons of the Salman Rushdie affair. It also referred readers to a website, which globalises the denunciation of my column with a Cairo dateline and offers a link to a discussion of what should happen to non-Muslims who insult the Prophet ("In Islam, it is well known that the punishment for the one who insults the Prophet is to be killed… However, we Muslims are advised to be forgiving and pardoning.") Who are the Muslim Association of Britain? I've been looking them up. They have close links to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, one of whose leaders, Qutb, advocated takfir, the branding of all Muslims as infidels unless they conform to sharia. Some MAB activists support Hamas and its policy of suicide bombing. One of its senior chaps, Azzam Tamimi, has boasted of this "human bomb" against the Israelis: "We love death, they love life." The IslamOnline website is the mouthpiece of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It debates, among other things, whether the best treatment for homosexuals is 100 lashes or chucking them over a cliff, and Qaradawi rejects interfaith dialogue in favour of "the language of the sword and force". The Taqwa Bank, of which he is a shareholder, has had its assets seized by the US Treasury because of its suspected terrorist links.

Al Reuters at it again

The reporting is fairly innocuous, if you ignore calling "terrorists" by the more neutral "militants." (These, after all, are the same "militants" who are routinely targeting women and children.)

Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinian militants on Saturday on the second day of a raid in the southern Gaza Strip, medics and witnesses said.
What's less innocuous is the article's title: "Israel Kills Two Gaza Gunmen -- Medics." First, there's that euphemism again ("gunmen" not "terrorists"). Second, the way the headline is set up, it appears that Israel killed two medics, which is totally untrue. It's only when you read the story itself that you discover that some unidentified "medics" reported how these killings purported happened.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Coddling the insecure

A great Charles Krauthammer article. Definitely follow the link to read more than just these two telling paragraphs:

Some Americans get angry at parents who want to ban carols because they tremble that their kids might feel 'different' and 'uncomfortable' should they, God forbid, hear Christian music sung at their school. I feel pity. What kind of fragile religious identity have they bequeathed their children that it should be threatened by exposure to carols? I'm struck by the fact that you almost never find Orthodox Jews complaining about a Christmas creche in the public square. That is because their children, steeped in the richness of their own religious tradition, know who they are and are not threatened by Christians celebrating their religion in public. They are enlarged by it. It is the more deracinated members of religious minorities, brought up largely ignorant of their own traditions, whose religious identity is so tenuous that they feel the need to be constantly on guard against displays of other religions — and who think the solution to their predicament is to prevent the other guy from displaying his religion, rather than learning a bit about their own.

If it ain't broke don't fix.... Oh, wait. It is broken.

Absolutely excellent article from Rich Lowry commenting on the fact that it is now the liberals who are reactionaries, clinging desperately to manifestly failed policies. Here's a taste of the article:

'Please, don't change anything.' That bids fair to become the liberal slogan for the early 21st century. Who knew government programs circa 2004 would have achieved an equipoise of perfection such that disturbing them in the slightest way would represent liberal heresy? And who would have guessed that 'progressives' would become opponents of change so thoroughgoing that they would make Edmund Burke blush?

From FrontPage Magazine: Unfashionable Facts About the Middle East by Steven Plaut

FrontPage :: Unfashionable Facts About the Middle East by Steven Plaut

Screaming at my radio

On December 16, NPR's "Talk of the Nation" ran a segment entitled Study Urges More Diverse Teachers: "A recent report says the U.S. student body is far more diverse than the teaching force -- and it's costing students. We explore how to make America's teaching force more diverse, and why it matters." I did not hear the whole story, because I tuned in late and, after I found myself screaming at the radio, snapped it off early. Here's my story: I tuned in to hear the guest explain that, well, yes, African-Americans have a very low pass rate on teaching exams, and that's bad, because they get discouraged from taking the exams if they know there is such a high failure rate. Then, the host, Neal Conan, took a call. The caller identified himself as a teacher who had taught for years in rough, inner-city school districts. His point was that the primary problem facing these schools isn't a lack of teacher diversity, it's students who are hungry, malnourished and abused; students who come from broken, unstable homes; and students who grow up in homes and communities where there is no respect for education. Conan cut him off, and said he wanted to get a comment from the guest. And this is where my screaming began. The guest did not deny anything the caller said. She instead said that the caller was obviously one of those exceptional people who really appreciated the problems the children were having. And then she said something that boiled down as follows: This highlights the need for diversity, because we need more people who are also capable of appreciating these problems. So, if I got her gist, it's not important to solve these problems. It's just important to spend lots of money and effort to ensure that the teachers understand these problems. I turned the radio off at this point, since I was pretty sure that this woman could not possibly say anything else that would interest me.

Do these ill-informed people realize that there is a reason why the world so gratefully embraced pasteurization?

There's a loving NRP story about a small family farm struggling to bring the benefits of "raw" milk to its community:

The only way to obtain fresh milk in Indiana is to own a cow. The 53 families who take home jugs of raw milk from Mark and Debbie Apple's farm are not customers, despite the fact that their farm has 11 milk cows. Nearly a year after state health officials issued a cease-and-desist order, the Apples still milk cows -- and people still take home unpasteurized milk.
This is a striking example of the same historic ignorance I groused about in connection with the "historians" who, ill-informed about ordinary societal behavior, conclude that so-and-so was gay. The 19th century world embraced pasteurization because unpasteurized milk carries with it a very, very nasty disease called brucellosis. Thanks to Louis Pasteur, we don't have to think much about it any more, but the fact is that it was a child killer before Pasteur came along, and it made a lot of adults pretty darn sick too. I mentioned this fact to one "raw" food activist and she shot back, "Well, milk is cleaner nowadays." I'm not sure where she got this idea -- maybe from the shiny silver tanks milk is stored in. The fact is that, while milk may be cleaner, cows are not. If you ever go to a dairy farm, you find the place covered in fecal matter. The cows' udders trail on the ground through stuff you don't want to think about. Sometimes, they step on their own udders, ripping the skin. So, that lovely unpasteurized raw, pure milk can have fecal matter and cow blood mixed in with it. The other thing the raw food enthusiasts don't realize is that, while it is indeed true that pasteurization does kill some nutrients in food, it does not kill them all. Indeed, even pasteurized foods have more nutrients than the body can process, and we excrete most of them as waste products. This and This are two lovely articles about the risks associated with raw food and the minimal nutrient loss arising from pasteurization.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The CIA's secret camp at Gitmo

The Washington Post has a long-ish article about an alleged "secret camp" at Gitmo, that is run by the CIA. The article is interesting, but it raised a few questions in my mind: 1. Why are former and current CIA officials telling the press about this? If it's secret, shouldn't they as agency employees and former employees keep the agency's secrets? 2. Why is the military pointing to this facility? Are we seeing some fight between agencies being played out here? Is the Defense Department trying to deflect attention from itself? (And, by the way, I'm unimpressed by the ICRC's claim that the poor Gitmo prisoners are suffering because . . . they're in prison!) 3. And speaking of the ICRC, which has been splendidly partisan and hostile toward the US, why is the ICRC all love and kisses about the supposed secret CIA facility? All in all, it's a very confusing article that says little, but raises many questions.

A "Wow" story

The lgf: Heroism and Cowardice story, about a marine who lay dying, but nonetheless offered the ultimate sacrifice to save his unit, is almost Victorian in its purity of spirit. I also link to it because it ties in with an earlier post I did about the fact that our media is reflexively anti-American. After reading my book about the Spanish Influenza, I am reminded how important a free press is. It's okay that they investigate and criticize the government. What's not okay is that this is all that they do, without any balance in their own approach.

Nat Hentoff weighs in

Read this great Nat Hentoff article about the Cupertino, California teacher who is being censored from teaching about religion in America (including religion to the extent that it is contained in founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence) because the school principal is afraid that he might somehow be trying to impose his Christian values on his students.

For want of a nail, a kingdom was lost

Apparently the nail in the Kerry campaign was the campaign's failure to take seriously the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group of Republican-funded Vietnam War veterans who patrolled the same Mekong Delta in Swift boats similar to the ones piloted by Navy Lt. John Kerry, challenged Kerry's accounts of his medal-winning service and anti-war protests. In the first ad, former sailors who served on boats near Kerry's in Vietnam said he lied about his war record. In a second, veterans criticized his subsequent anti-war activities. A third attacked Kerry for throwing away the medals he earned in Vietnam. Cahill said the Swift boat ads show the power of news coverage, particularly cable news stations, which she said amplified the ads by running them repeatedly.
I agree with Cahill that this was a bad miscalculation. I have only two comments on AP's coverage. First, why do they say the "Republican funded" Swift Boat Veterans, yada, yada? I've never heard them say, "the Democratic funded" or, more accurately, the "Soros-funded" Second, the AP states conclusorily that the allegation that Kerry lied about his war record was debunked. I don't remember that debunking. I remember that Kerry refused to release his war records, which would have allowed for debunking. Any corrections to my memory?

To a hammer, everything is a nail

I haven't read the book, but apparently C.A. Tripp is claiming that, in fact, Lincoln was homosexual. The problem with so many of these gay scholars is that they are historically ill-informed. (And, to do it credit, the NY Times article I'm relying on for this post cites scholars who point to Tripp's historical errors.) "Shocking and meaningful," they say, "that people of the same sex shared beds." Well, they did in those days because historically people had always shared beds. It was a result of poverty, lack of heat, and historical precedent (witness the fact that many of Europe's poor for centuries had shared family and household beds, or the fact that most inns in historic times jumbled poor travelers into shared beds, or that servants routinely were doubled-up in beds). "Horrors," they say. "These people kissed on the mouth." Well, men and women often did that because it was a traditional way of greeting going back to the Renaissance. Certainly it was ordinary for Henry VIII's court. Was he gay? "Oh, my goodness," they say. "He sent a letter of love to a man." But that was normative writing in the Victorian era, when people frequently used loving, indeed romantic terms, to describe friends. Having said all this, Tripp may well be right. Lincoln may have been gay. I haven't read the book, so am totally unqualified to go beyond these generalizations. But to a hammer, everything is a nail, and I've noticed that Gay Studies scholars tend to find any small (and shaky) evidence to draw big conclusions about historical figures.

Just the facts, ma'am

For all those with a subscription to the Wall Street Journal, check out this article which lucidly explains why, contrary to claims by Paul Krugman and his ilk, Social Security is indeed in freefall, and cannot be juryrigged into functionality.

She's mean, but she's good

Ann Coulter's at it again, this time with a wonderful riff against Mark Geragos, the attorney who represented Scott Peterson. The opening paragraph, which takes a swipe at Shrum, sets the tone:

Lawyer Mark Geragos should go into business with political consultant Bob Shrum and defend Sen. Arlen Specter's claim to the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They should advertise exclusively on MSNBC. Maybe they could even get Al Gore to endorse them and hire Howard Dean as their spokesman. Our motto: 'A HUMILIATING DEFEAT EVERY TIME -- OR YOUR MONEY BACK!' "
I found it especially amusing because it picks up on a theme Vince Bugliosi developed in his great post-O.J. trial analysis book, "Outrage." In the beginning of his book, he attacked the pernicious notion that O.J. had the "dream team" of trial attorneys and that the DAs were stellar legal lights. In fact, as Bugliosi pointed out (but the press never did), almost of them were either mediocre at the best of times or had done their best work decades before.

O.K. Enough cheer. Let's get back to grumbling.

WARNING: Boring post, unless you're a disgruntled lawyer. (And even then it may still be too boring for most.) It's my forum, so I get to raise one of my pet peeves: dishonest judges. I'm not talking dishonest as in graft or bribe taking. I'm talking the intellectual dishonesty of righteousness and favoritism. Not for the first time, I've just received an order from a court denying a petition. That wouldn't be so bad -- indeed, it's par for the course to lose at least a few petitions -- if it weren't for the fact that the Court essentially lied to achieve this outcome. I can't go into details here (confidentiality and all) but suffice to say that my facts were strong and the law completely supported my position. The court had the option of denying my petition without comment. However, for reasons that would need a psychiatrist to explain, the court felt compelled to cite case authority to justify its decision. Normally, this is all well and good, since our judicial system is based on precedent derived from case authority. What was irritating about this exercise was that the Court misstated the facts to justify the case on which it relied. Worse, a review of that case revealed that the case did not stand for the proposition asserted. That is, it didn't even support the court's incorrect statement of facts. This sounds like a random grumble (why so upset about one bad apple?), except for the fact that this pattern of judicial conduct happens over and over. As I noted at the start of this post, I acquit these judges of being corrupt in the traditional sense. This has nothing to do with acquiring money or power. It does, though, have a lot to do with holding power -- and holding power that is subject to minimal oversight. Many judges seem to confuse themselves with priests. That is, once they don their robes, just as the priest becomes a conduit between man and God, they feel as if they've become a conduit between the parties before them and some great, abstract truth. A ridiculous notion, of course, but how else can one explain the frequency with which judges take patently unethical steps to arrive at a desired outcome. One might say that, if a judge knows that one party is just plain bad, even though technically correct at law, the judge ought to exercise his power to protect the good guy in the situation. It sounds good in theory, but it's dreadful in fact. One judge's bad guy might be another judge's good guy. Instead of the majesty, weight and stability of hundreds of years of precedent, we have law that varies from courtroom to courtroom. Aside from being dreadfully unfair to the parties involved, it also undercuts social stability entirely, since people can no longer plan their conduct (especially their business conduct) to confirm with known legal rules.

The brightening effect of Christmas lights

I was reviewing some of my old posts and picked up on a petty grim and condemnatory note permeating most of them. Thought that I'd brighten that impression a bit with a thank you to those people who take the time, muster the energy and spend the money to decorate their houses at Christmas. Every year, our family ventures out in our community, looking for those glowing houses. My kids are often dumbstruck (rare for my kids) by some of the creative, humorous, or just plain over-the-top houses we see. This is one of the great pleasures of the holiday season.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Maybe it's something in the water affecting Bay Area brains

Seems that the Stupid-visors governing S.F. want to do away with all guns: San Francisco Supervisors Propose Gun Ban:

"City residents will vote next year on a proposed weapons ban that would deny handguns to everyone except law enforcement officers, members of the military and security guards. If passed next November, residents would have 90 days to give up firearms they keep in their homes or businesses. The proposal was immediately dismissed as illegal by a gun owners group. "
I don't like guns, and think they ought to be subject to stringent rules of conduct (e.g., gun safes in homes, etc). However, before San Franciscans go ahead with this government ukase, maybe they should check out the statistics from England and Australia, countries that have already engaged in this grand experiment. Turns out that violent and gun-related crime has gone up dramatically in those countries. Apparently the gun lobby, a group I've always reflexively hated, was right all along: If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

Reason No. 53,878 to get rid of the UN

You really have to read the whole article to get the flavor of the dishonesty underlying the UN's anti-Semitism/anti-Israel policy, but this snipped from an article by Alexander H. Joffe will give you an idea of what's coming down the line:

"The United Nations has a justly deserved reputation for catering to extremists of every sort and for entertaining not only extremism but distortion as part of its everyday fabric. Nowhere was this more on display than at the recent seminar on 'Islamophobia,' forced upon an all-too-willing UN in exchange for holding a seminar on anti-Semitism earlier in 2004. Conceived as part of a series on 'unlearning intolerance,' the seminar aimed to confirm prejudices of the Islamic world toward the West, and especially the United States, as the sources of all Islam"s failure and weakness. The tone was set from the top, by the aristocratic Kofi Annan, whose platitudes included the ritual assertion that Islam is not 'monolithic,' and stunningly, that questioning the compatibility of Islam with democracy, modernity and womens' rights were forms of Islamophobia. The 'Other' was invoked, along with Islam's 'tolerance' for Christians and Jews (as legally defined second-class citizens), as was the qualification that the 'historical experience of Muslims included colonialism and imperialism by the West, both direct and indirect.' Terrorism and violence 'in the name of Islam' were merely cases where a few give a bad name to the many."
I think that, in an earlier post I mentioned that radical Islam seemed to have learned from Orwell's Big Brother. Just keep erasing the past, and the future is yours.

Intelligent commentary from a much put upon Italian politician

Galley Slaves offers the following regarding Buttiglione's comments at the Weekly Standard:

"He opened by contrasting what he described as the two main democratic traditions vying for dominance in Europe. One, the liberal tradition is rooted in respect for the dignity of the individual. The other is fascist, 'not liberal, but in the end totalitarian.' Fascism Buttiglione described as the 'consequence of the most modern ideas of liberalism' -- what one might call a triumph of subjectivism and the absence of those overarching beliefs that distinguish and humanize the other democratic tradition. As he spoke, I thought maybe I was listening to a sophisticated, European version of Jonah Goldberg, whose coming book sounds rather like it is founded on the same idea (modern liberalism=facism)."

Europe less than thrilled with the outcome of its experiments in multiculturalism

The opening paragraph pretty much establishes the author's bias in the following report, but what follows is fairly unbiased and certainly thought-provoking:

"Imagine a former American president publicly grumbling that it was a mistake for a certain group to have been allowed to immigrate to the United States - the Irish, say, or Jews, or Pakistanis. The outrage would be justifiably loud. But a former German chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, now 85, recently declared that Germany should never have invited in all those Turkish guest workers in the 1950's and 60's, because, he suggested, multiculturalism can work only in an authoritarian society."
The article details the Germans' concerns about an alien, and often hostile, culture block in their midst, and notes that the Germans do not want to get rid of them, but simply want them to assimilate. And therein lies the flaw in the writer's assumption, as set out in the first paragraph. That is, the author, Richard Bernstein, assumes that America was always a multicultural paradise -- but it wasn't. First, there were enormous tensions with each new wave of immigrants. Second, and more significantly, America resolved these tensions by forcing assimilation (both by carrot and stick) on the new immigrants. Through education and enticement, it made the immigrants into Americans, with American values. This was possible because those who lived here, and those who wanted to live here, imagined that the best possible thing was a dominant cultural paradigm. You wouldn't be "Italian-American," you'd be "American (of Italian descent)." The emphasis was entirely different. However, the multiculturalism of the 60s said that immigrants had to be left alone to "practice" their culture and that, indeed, the dominant culture had to bend over backwards to accommodate these practices. It sounds great in theory, but then you end up with interesting things like honor killings, female genital mutilations, and ghettoized groups that, denied of partaking in the dominant culture's wealth, is hostile to that culture and wishes to destroy it. And by the way, the fact that the immigrant population is denied access to the dominant culture is less a result of prejudice and more a result of multiculturalism itself. That is, by not forcing immigrants into the dominant culture, by not forcing them to speak the language, by not forcing them to dress the same, you keep from them educational and economic benefits inherent in the dominant culture. (I could say that same about that benighted experiment here, bilingual education, but I'll leave that for another post.)

Wonderful book about a terrible time

I'm reading The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History, by John M. Barry, a fascinating book about the Spanish Influenza in 1918-1919. It's a great book because it begins in the 1870s with the sorry state of American medicine, details the enormous strides a core group of American scientists made in the years before WWI, lucidly explains how viruses work, and tracks the inexorable progress of the disease. I'm only halfway through the book, and have just gotten to the point where it's turned into an epidemic, world-wide. If the book continues in the second half to be as good as it was in the first half, it will rank as one of the best science/history/social studies books I've read since, well, since I can't remember when. UPDATE: I'm about 2/3 of the way through the book now and am deep in the worst part of the epidemic. Mr. Barry's prose has become slightly empurpled as he tries to convey the horror of it all, but I appreciate his effort to give his readers the mise en scène of living in an epidemic. What's almost more horrifying than the disease itself is how bad the governments (federal and local) were in the face of this disease. Turns out that, in 1918, Philadelphia had what was probably the most corrupt civic government around. This corruption led to the fact that Phillie took no steps initially to stop the disease's spread, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. The U.S. Government and Military, too, did nothing. They were so totally focused on a "victory at all costs" war effort that they entirely ignored any warnings from the medical community. And these were not Cassandra-like direct predictions, made when things were looking good. These were warnings issued when cantonments (the huge camps established for draftees all of the U.S.) were filled with thousands of sick and dying.