Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Now the chips are really down

Regarding Christiane Amanpour's comment about the end of the Iraq war as we know it, I liked what the Best of the Web Today had to say:

Take heart, Angry Left: Journalists are in peril in Iraq. One of many odd things about this is the assumption that the suffering of journalists is somehow going to turn the American people against the war effort. Actually, this assumption seems widespread among journalists, at least among CNN journalists. "The war in Iraq has basically turned out to be a disaster and journalists have paid for it," Christiane Amanpour complained last night on "Larry King Live." This morning Soledad O'Brien put the following question to Sen Bill Frist:
Isn't it going to be problematic for the president to say as--and I'm quoting you now--you know, winning with war on terror when, in reality, we have this brand new videotape from Ayman el-Zawahiri. We have an anchorman injured in Iraq. We have a journalist, a young woman, who's been kidnapped and is seen sobbing on national television, taken from the Arab media, as well? Is the public going to buy we're winning the war, it's going well, there's progress, when there's so much evidence to the contrary?
So O'Brien's evidence that we're not "winning the war on terror" is (a) Zarqawi's new videotape and (b) the kidnapping of one journalist and wounding of another. Don't get us wrong: We view war-zone reporting as a heroic endeavor, and we were acquainted with one journalist, Michael Kelly, who was killed in Iraq, three years ago. But there is something self-absorbed almost to the point of solipsism about journalists insisting that their adversity is the most important thing about the war. It's worth keeping a few things in perspective: Like soldiers, journalists choose their profession voluntarily. Unlike soldiers, journalists do not have to go to Iraq: They are free to seek other assignments or other jobs. Like many soldiers, many journalists choose to return to Iraq despite the dangers out of a sense of duty. But if journalists don't cut and run, why do they expect the leaders of the military to do so? As for Kos, it's a measure of just how far gone the Angry Left is that he--who two years ago responded to the murders of four American civilians by saying "Screw 'em"--is now the voice of reason on his own Web site. [Hyperlinks omitted.]
Talking to Technorati: , , ,

More on the Hamas victory

I've already opined that the Hamas victory is a good thing, since it creates a clear enemy for Israel. Israel only needs to have the political will to defend against that enemy. Unsurprisingly, Jack Kelly great lucidity about the election. He too thinks it's a good thing, insofar as Palestine now as one face, rather than the duplicitous (and expensive) two that Arafat presented:

There's something to be said for clarity. What's changed in the Palestinian Authority is less the reality there than the ability of liberals in the West to keep ignoring it. Now the Palestinians will be represented by one face, rather than two. Hamas is an Islamic fundamentalist terror group, very like al Qaida. It's raison d'etre is the destruction of Israel, and Hamas is straightforward about it. The ruling Fatah party, which Hamas trounced, is also devoted to the destruction of Israel, but under longtime leader Yasir Arafat, was more clever about it. Mr. Arafat would say one thing in English to those in the West who desperately wanted to believe he was amenable to a "two state solution," and something quite different in Arabic to the home folks. Mr. Arafat's duplicity paid big dividends, especially for him. Israel at Oslo granted Fatah a statelet, and the West showered upon it billions of dollars in aid, much of which made its way into Mr. Arafat's bank accounts (he died a multi-billionaire), and those of his cronies.
Kelly also has something to say about the Left's immediate attempts to dress up Hamas' victory in Fatah clothing; that is, they're now claiming that Hamas really wants peace, something that is patently untrue, as Hamas' own pronouncements demonstrate:
Those, like Jimmy Carter, who are desperate to maintain their illusions stress the corruption angle to assert that somehow, some way the West can "work with" a PA government dominated by Hamas. For liberals, obtaining and maintaining political power is the be all and end all. They'll say anything, and do anything (that doesn't involve much risk to themselves) to get it and keep it. So they assume that leaders of Hamas, faced with the responsibilities of governing, will abandon their principles to keep power, as liberals would do.
If you want more on the Dorian Gray face the liberals reveal as they grapple with a Hamas government, you should also read this Dennis Prager article. Talking to Technorati: , ,

Irony alert

It is, of course, disgusting to read that another University's Middle Eastern Studies Department has hired a known jihadist to its faculty. What's bizarre about this one is that it's Brandeis that did it. It was, after all, the Jews who started Brandeis as a secular, but Jewish institution. Now, Brandeis is a secular and suicidal institution.

The Emperor's New Clothes

The MSM has a fallback if Hillary implodes: Barack Obama. As Teri O'Brien points out, the MSM not only fawns over his every pronouncement, but gives him a complete pass regarding the fact that his words and acts seldom line up. Clearly, the MSM has decided this man is bound for something great, and is cultivating his image in the American psyche. By the way, O'Brien asks the question about "what's going on" with bewilderment. I'd ask it with fear, because it's concerning when the MSM annoints someone -- they usually run for the White House and they sometimes win. Talking to Technorati: ,

Buy Danish

As you may know, Islamic leaders are urging their followers to boycott Denmark, because the Danes had the temerity to run political cartoons about Muhammad. American Thinker is urging the opposite of a Danish boycott, asking its readers to Buy Danish (not a hard thing to do, considering Denmark's wonderful food and furniture). Apparently the Danes think this is a wonderful idea, and have been inundating American Thinker with grateful emails. By the way, Thomas Lifson sums this up as more than a little market battle: "Denmark is the point-of-the-spear role in battling for freedom from Sharia limits on personal expression. We owe it to ourselves, even more than we owe it to the Danes, to buy Danish products." I'll just add that the Dane's bravery here is entirely consistent with the same bravery they showed during WWII in the face of the Nazis. Talking to Technorati: , , , , ,

Word on the street

I really enjoyed this Steve Feinstein article pointing out one of those truths that seems incredibly obvious after you've read the article. I won't give it away here, but if you have a minute, you should follow this link.

What! No disclaimers?

It's no news that yet another MSM media figure is trashing the government's war policy. But shouldn't someone, including the Drudge guys, mention that Christiane Amanpour is married to a former Clinton State Department spokesman (Jamie Rubin), which might affect her perspective? Talking to Technorati: , , ,

Monday, January 30, 2006

There's real quality in them thar blogs

Someone with incredible taste in blogs tipped me off to Seraphic Secret, a personal blog written by a Hollywood screenwriter who is also an Orthodox Jew and conservative. He's written a multipart series about time he spent in a women's prison researching this movie. (The most recent story is at the top of the blog. You have to scroll down for the earier ones.) As is to be expected, the writing is incredibly good quality, and the stories he tells about the prisoners are amazing. Hollywood has a love affair with the idea of the poor shlub who makes a mistake, or of the person who is scared straight, or of the redeemed killer. Avrech reminds us, however, that many of the women are simply lost lives. That is, whatever they might have been is irrelevant, because what they are (whether because of nature or nuture) is profoundly damaged and dangerous. Talking to Technorati: , ,

A legend passes

I'm a little behind it, and only today learned that Fayard Nicholas of the famous Nicholas Brothers dance act, died last week at 91. His younger brother, Harold, preceded him, dying in early 2001. If you haven't seen the Nicholas Brothers dance, you've missed something wonderful. They're a magnificent combination of dance skills and acrobatics, all wrapped in an elegant package.

History sort of repeats itself

Almost forty years ago, Barbara Tuchman wrote The Proud Tower, A Portrait of the World before the War : 1890-1914 (I have a link in the sidebar). It's a compulsively readable book in a couple of ways. First, of course, it's readable because Tuchman is a wonderful writer. Her bouyant prose and her ability to include details that bring the past alive without drowning one in pointless factoids make her history books consistently fresh and wonderful. Second, it's readable because it's like a bizarre fun-house mirror reflection of our own times. For example, did you know that suicide bombing is nothing new? At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, Europe and America were besieged by suicide bombs and assassinations originating, not with Muslim fundamentalists, but with anarchists. And just as the Islamofacists are hard to track down because their goals expand beyond any one nation's boundaries, so too were the anarchists a borderless problem. Of course, the situation is different today. The anarchists didn't have Saudi Arabia funding them; they were a small group, not a large group; and the nature of their belief left them too profoundly disorganized to put together big or consistent actions. Still, it was strange to read.... The same era also saw a country convinced that it was superior to all other countries, and lusting for untrammeled war to impose itself on those countries. It believed that Jews were inferior, and was becoming increasingly anti-Christian. It's values all revolved around warfare. I'm speaking, of course, of Germany. Sad to say, the America of the time wasn't too much better. It had bought entirely in the White Man's Destiny thing, and was fighting a true Imperialist war against the Phillipines. Speaking of all these wars, there was also a vocal peace movement at the time. In America, that movement was directed strongly against the war with the Phillipines. After describing atrocities on both side (and there is no doubt that American soldiers were brutal in their efforts to put down the Phillipine insurrection), Tuchman writes:

The longer the war continued, the louder and angrier grew the Anti-Imperialist protests. Their program adopted at Chicago in October, 1899, demanded "an immediate cessation of the war against liberty." They collected and reported all the worst cases of American conduct in the Philippines and all the most egregious speeches of imperialisat greed and set them against the most unctuous expresses of the white man's mission. [p. 163, hardbound ed.]
Wow! Deja vu all over again. Before those of you who are anti-War now start patting yourself on the back, remember that I mentioned the funhouse mirror quality to Tuchman's book. The American war in the Phillipine's a 100+ years ago truly was an act of imperial aggression, explicitly phrased in terms of Kipling's White Man's Burden. That is, America believed herself divinely ordained to take resources from the "little brown people," and to compensate them with some benevolent American dictatorship. I probably would have been on the peace side too. The situation today is very different. I believe that America is fighting, not an imperialist war, but a defensive war. This has as its underpinning the belief that America's best defense against attack (and these attacks are real, not hypothetical) is to take down dictatorships. America does not intend to rule in place of these dictators. Instead, the goal is for her to retreat to her own borders, and let those countries develop in freedom. Germany (difficult thought it now is vis a vis America), Japan and Italy proved that this theory works. [I'm going to go into a longish digression here about the recent Palestinian elections. Those elections raised the question of whether a Democracy can elect a tyranny. Hamas victory leaves open the argument that, while our current technique worked in Germany, Japan and Italy, it's clearly no longer viable. The Palestinian elections, some would say, prove that our strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq is doomed to failure and we should pull out now. I strongly disagree. Palestine is anomalous because it never got purged prior to the elections. That is, while the elections had the ostensible gloss of Democracy, they are in fact merely a different manifestation of a profoundly sick society. Keep in mind that the decisive defeats of World War II proved absolutely to the Axis populations that they were on the wrong track. So too the lightening war in Afghanistan denied Taliban credibility entirely. The Palestianian elections, however, represent, not the failure of corruption, tyranny and indiscriminate slaughter but, rather, their success. No wonder then, that Palestinian "democracy" is, in fact, merely a continuation of Palestinian corruption. Digression over.] Those who follow this blog also know I've been ruminating about the Left's obsession with death (a topic Don Quixote also took on). I've also commented on (as have many) Hollywood's (that is, the Left's) obsession with everything sordid and degrading. Turns out these intellectual trends aren't new either. Germany saw the same thing:
Tragedy was the staple of the German theatre. Social comedies with happy endings were not a German genre. German fun was confined to buffoonery, either painful or coarse. [Ed. -- I'm thinking Jackass, the Movie, here.] Their tragedies were not so much curative, like Ibsen's, nor compassionate, like Chekhov's, but obsessively focused on mankind's cruelty to man, on his bent toward self-destruction and on death. Death by murder, suicide or some more esoteric form resolved nearly all German drama of the nineties and early 1900's. In Hauptmann's Hannele the child heroine dies of neglect and abuse in an almshouse, in his Sunken Bell Heinrich's wife drowns herself in a lake and he drinks a poisoned goblet, in Rose Bernd the title charactger, seduced and deserted, strangles her newborn child, in Henschel the title character hangs himself after betraying his dead wife by marrying a tart who lets his child die of neglect, in Michael Kramer a sensitive son is drive to suicide by an overbearing father, a popular them in Germany rich in such fathers. [p. 321, hardback ed.]
The similarities between Germany's artistic world and today's weren't limit to morbid, degenerate plot lines. In the Nietzschean age, disbelief was an intellectual hallmark, with the focus being placed, not on an outside morality (such as the Bible), but on every little Superman's belief of his own sense of righteousness:
Through Also Sprach Zarathustra and its sequels, Beyond Good and Evil, The Will to Power and the final Ecce Home, Nietzsche roamed wildly. His ideas rolled and billowed like storm clouds, beautifully and dangerously. He preached Yes to the promptings of energy as good per se, regardless of conflict with conventional morality. Law and religion which discouraged such promptings frustrated man's progress. Christianity was a sop for the weak, the meek and the poor. The Superman had no need of God but was a law unto himself; his task was self-fulfillment not self-denial; he shook off the chains of tradition and history as the intolerable burden of the past. [pp. 299-300, hardback ed.]
True, the Left doesn't speak in terms of Superman, nor do its members explicitly cast off traditional morality. Instead, as I've pointed out, people on the Left like to paint themselves in terms of a higher goodness, even while engaging in conduct that is purely utilitarian and self fulfilling in nature. Anyway, 'nuff said. If you want to read a book that's terrific on its own terms, and fascinating in terms of our modern times, I strongly recommend the Proud Tower. Talking to Technorati: , , , ,

To the textbook writers belongs history

Don Quixote tipped me off to a hard-fought battle over "facts" about India in California textbooks. Apparently someone was offended about how Indian history was portrayed, especially the fact that women haven't fared well there:

Anjali Patel, a Cupertino parent with two daughters and a founding member of Hindu Education Foundation, is among many Indo-Americans who contend that new proposed sixth-grade social studies textbooks misrepresent Hinduism and portray Indian history in a negative light. When she reviewed the textbooks early last summer, Patel said she found problems with the depiction of women. She believed the books sought to overemphasize negative aspects of Hindu history, while downplaying the negative aspects in the history of other world religions, including Islam and Christianity.
Patel's complaints fell on receptive ears in California and the textbooks were revised. The problem is that, once revised, myriad other Indian groups weighed in, complaining that they'd been revised straight into other inaccuracies that offended them:
One of the biggest issues for the Hindu Education Foundation is the textbooks' depiction of women. In one section, the group recommended that the line "men had many more rights than women" be changed to say that "men had different duties than women." They also objected to what they saw as an overemphasis of the caste system in ancient India, with some members such as Milpitas parent Madhulika Singh arguing that the caste system had very little to do with Hinduism or ancient India. To complicate the matter further, the Dalit Freedom Network, an advocacy group for "untouchables" in India, sent a letter to the Board of Education contending that proposed changes by the Vedic Foundation and the Hindu Education Foundation were an attempt to soften India's history of caste-based discrimination. Nanci Ricks, executive director for the Dalit Freedom Network, an advocacy group for "untouchables" in India, said the caste system should be "defined within the context of Hinduism because that's where it gets its origins." "Ninety-eight percent of Indians in this country are in the higher castes," Ricks said. "They have never had to deal with what it's like to be an untouchable. They say it doesn't exist because, for them, it never did."
The name calling has also begun, with the original reviser being castigated as "anti-Hindu" and "anti-Indian," while many of those weighing in are being called "Nationalists," a term at which they take offense. I don't have a dog in this fight because I know so little about India. I know that it's a huge country with different traditions in different regions. I know that India has fewer female births nationwide than is natural because they are aborting their females as fast as they conceive them -- something that argues in favor of the view that women are not treated well in broad segments (unless to be aborted is merely to be treated "differently"). Likewise, I know that until the British outlawed it, broad swaths of Indians practiced suttee, another tradition not known for being woman friendly. What's fascinating about the textbook fight is how explicitly it exposes the fact that big states such as California and Texas, through their textbooks, control the world's perception of history. In these states, every day is 1984 day, with the government given the opportunity to write history to suit current norms and demands. Talking to Technorati: , , , ,

As Hamas emerges further from the closet

Showing its aggression towards Israel, and the profound perversion of history that is a Palestinian hallmark, Hamas now demands that Israel change her flag. Incapable of recognizing the tallit (the Jewish prayer shawl) that is the inspiration for the flag, Hamas insists that the blue stripes are border symbols that are way too imperialist to be flown. Maybe Hamas, with a platform, will turn into Cindy Sheehan: that is, maybe even its most fervent supporters, disgusted its extremism, violence, hate and stupidity, will start drawing back. Talking to Technorati: , ,

Minds in synch about Hamas

I blogged the other day about my belief that the virtue of a Hamas election is that evil is out in the open. Don Quixote followed that with a post asking whether the Palestinian people, by voting for Hamas, have officially all become complicit in terrorism (changing their status from "innocents" with terrorists in their midst). Mark Steyn, of course, puts it all together in a column that uses Joel ("I hate the troops") Stein's coming out as the starting point:

The Palestinian elections were similarly clarifying. The old guard -- Yasser Arafat's Fatah cronies -- had their own take on the "But some of my best friends are Jewish" routine. For years they insisted, at least in the presence of Americans and Europeans, that they were in favor of a "two-state solution" -- Israel and Palestine living side by side -- at the same time as they supported and glorified and financially subsidized suicide bombers and other terrorists. Insofar as their enthusiasm for a two-state solution was genuine, it was as an intermediate stage en route to a one-state solution. Hamas, by contrast, takes a Joel Stein view: Why the hell should we have to go tippy-toeing around some sissy phrase we don't really mean? Hamas doesn't support a two-state solution, it supports the liquidation of one state and its replacement by other, and they don't see why they should have to pretend otherwise. And in last week's elections for the Palestinian Authority they romped home. It was a landslide. As is the way, many in the West rushed to rationalize the victory. The media have long been reluctant to damn the excitable lads as terrorists. In 2002 the New York Times published a photograph of Palestinian suicide bombers all dressed up and ready to blow, and captioned it "Hamas activists." Take my advice and try not to be standing too near the Hamas activist when he activates himself. Oh, no no no, some analysts assured us. The Palestinians didn't vote for Hamas because of the policy plank about obliterating the state of Israel but because Fatah is hopelessly corrupt. Which is true: The European Union's bankrolled the Palestinian Authority since its creation and Yasser and his buddies salted most of the dough away in their Swiss bank accounts and used the loose change to fund the intifada. After 10 years you can't blame the Palestinians for figuring it's time to give another group of people a chance to siphon off all that EU booty. So I'd like to believe this was a vote for getting rid of corruption rather than getting rid of Jews. But that's hard to square with some of the newly elected legislators. For example, Mariam Farahat, a mother of three, was elected in Gaza. She used to be a mother of six but three of her sons self-detonated on suicide missions against Israel. She's a household name to Palestinians, known as Um Nidal -- Mother of the Struggle -- and, at the rate she's getting through her kids, the Struggle's all she'll be Mother of. She's famous for a Hamas recruitment video in which she shows her 17-year-old son how to kill Israelis and then tells him not to come back. It's the Hamas version of 42nd Street: You're going out there a youngster but you've got to come back in small pieces.
UPDATE: There's more of the same from Jeff Jacoby. Talking to Technorati: , ,

Sunday, January 29, 2006

PC Paranoia

Here's a fun, short story about PC paranoia run amok.

Democracy and Hamas

Hamas's recent victory raises a variation on an age-old question: Can a democratic vote of the people destroy the democrary that allowed the vote to begin with? Can, for example, a democratic vote approve a communist state? In favor is the argument that the people can choose whatever form of government they wish. Against is the realization that such a vote may never be reconsidered by a subsequent vote in favor of democracy. Can a democratic vote of the people approve/create a terrorist state, an outlaw in the international community? I'm reminded of a comment to an earlier post that declared that American's invasion of Iraq violated international law. But what is international law? Who decides what actions violate international law? How is international law enforced? The same questions arise in the wake of Hamas's victory. Clearly, by attacking another sovereign, Hamas has violated international law, such as it is. A liberal friend pointed out years ago that this law is unenforceable against Hamas because they represented no internationally recognized nation state. Now, they do. Should the international community now act to condemn Hamas's actions by condemning the state they now democratically represent? Should the international community wait to see if Hamas changes their approach now that they are in power? If Israel pre-emptively strikes against Hamas, how should the international community react? At a fundamental level, if a democratic election elects a terrorist government, to what extent should the general population that voted be considered supporters of terrorism? Does it matter that the vast majority of the eligible population voted or that they had a moderate alternative, making the vote a true test of the general population's extremism? What is the appropriate international response to a nation/state who chooses to be represented by a terrorist organization? No answers; only questions. What do you think?

The Left's fascination with death

I don't know what Bookworm is doing with her weekend, but please allow me (DQ) to jump in here with a few thoughts. Bookworm's recent insightful American Thinker article about the Left's fascination with death left unanswered the question of why the Left is fixated on issues of life and death. On the face of it, there seems no logic to the Left's various positions. To paraphrase P. J. O'Roarke, to adopt a view that killing unborn babies is okay but killing mass murderers is bad requires years of therapy. Let me suggest that it has something to do with the Left's lack of belief in God (a lack I'm afraid I share). Oh, the Left tolerates a religious element (Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Martin Luther King, Rev. Al Sharpton, etc.) but by and large, the Left looks with distain on all things religious. Hence their obsession with the separation between church and state, to the point that they are not just neutral, but anti-religion. If there is no God and no afterlife, then death takes on a whole new meaning. This has two practical effects worth discussion. First, the Left obsesses on all things related to death. Abortion is the only issue worth discussing when considering potential Supreme Court justices. The Iraqi war is not about what happens within the Iraqi society; all that matters is the body count. All of the effects Bookworm pointed out in her article fit well here. The second effect is that the Left is constitutionally incapable of understanding religious believers. They cannot begin to understand American Christians from the red states so they dismiss them as unsophisticated rubes. They cannot begin to understand Islamic extremists so they advocate bizarre positions, like suggesting that if we are just nicer to the extremists, and give them at least a part of what they want, they will quit trying to kill us. It is this second fantasy that causes the most concern (American Christians can fend for themselves, as the last couple of elections have demonstrated). No matter how many times the extremists say they wish to destroy America, not to mention Israel, the Left simply refuses to belive them. No matter how many suicide bombers give their lives to kill innocent people, the Left cannot believe the extremists are serious. The Left cannot understand people who place so little value on this life, who see it as simply a transition to another, perhaps a better, life. As a result, we have one side of the controversy (the extremists) who have declared a religious war and conducted some extraordinary attacks in pursuit of that war, and another side (the American Left) that simply refuses to believe that the war exists. Rodney King ("Can't we all just get along") is the Left's poster boy. Well, no, we can't all just get along. If someone says he's determined to wipe us off the face of the earth, and if that someone views this life as merely a transition to another life, we ought to take that someone seriously. The sooner the American Left takes the Islamic extremists seriously, the better. Let me share one other theory. The Left early on staked out a position in favor of killing fetuses. Personally, I've always believed that most of the other positions taken by the left were overcompensations, designed to show that they were, nevertheless, really loving and caring individuals. I'm convinced that's what the whole animal rights movement is about. "Okay, I may believe women have a right to kill their fetuses, but, hey, I believe we should be kind to animals and, by the way, we shouldn't kill mass murderers and shouldn't engage in wars, where people might get killed, either." As always, I would love to hear your opinions. Why is the Left so fascinated with death? Why does the American Left seem incapable of taking the Islamic threat to America (and Israel) seriously? What can we all do to wake the American Left up to reality?

Friday, January 27, 2006

The danger of Anne Frank Syndrome

On July 15, 1944, after having spent exactly two years in hiding from the Nazis, Anne Frank wrote her most famous words:

It'’s a wonder I haven'’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It'’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.
Every school child learns that "people are truly good at heart," and just yesterday I heard an ultraliberal acquaintance opine the same thing, in virtually those words. I did not get a warm, cuddly feeling. Instead, I actually started thinking about those words. Anne freely admits that she wrote those words because she needed the thought to give meaning to a life spent in hiding. Two weeks after writing them, based on information from an informer, the annex's residents were rounded up by the Nazis and shipped off. Here's what happened to them: Mr. Van Daan was gassed immediately on his arrival in Auschwitz. Mrs. Van Daan was shuffled from Auschwitz, to Bergen-Belsen, to Buchenwald, to Theresienstadt, and finally to another unknown camp were she apparently died shortly before war's end. Peter van Daan survived a death march from Auschwitz to Mauthausen, only to die three days before the camp was liberated. Mr. Dussel, after having spent time in either Buchenwald or Sachenhausen, died in Neuengamme a few months after being arrested. Mrs. Frank died in Auschwitz from starvation and exhaustion. As for Anne and Margot:
Margot and Anne Frank were transported from Auschwitz at the end of October and brought to Bergen-Belsen,concentrationton camp neHanoverver (Germany). The typhus epidemic that broke out in the winter of 1944-1945, as a result of the horrendohygienicnic conditions, killed thousands of prisoners, including Margot and, a few days later, Anne. She must have died in late February or early March. The bodies of both girls were probably dumped in Bergen-Belsen's mass graves. (From the Afterward to The Diary of a Young Girl : The Definitive Edition, published by Anchor Books Doubleday in 1996)
Anne Frank did not die peacefully or gracefully. Instead, her last days on earth were a nightmare of cold, hunger, loneliness and fear:
Anne was briefly reunited with two friends, Hanneli Goslar (named "Lies" in the diary) and Nanette Blitz, who both survived the war. They said that Anne, naked but for a piece of blanket, explained she was infested with lice and had thrown her clothes away. They described her as bald, emaciated and shivering but although ill herself, she told them that she was more concerned about Margot, whose illness seemed to be more severe. Goslar and Blitz did not see Margot who remained in her bunk, too weak to walk. Anne said they were alone as both of their parents were dead.
Why am I emphasizing all this? Because I want to make it clear that Anne Frank was wrong. People are not innately good. Her words were whistling in the dark, written to give herself faith and courage under terrible circumstances. They cannot and should not be used as a yardstick for measuring humans' natural state. And for Liberals to cling to this "ideology" moves beyond optimism into idiocy. First off, anyone who has children knows that, while they have a tremendous capacity for love, and have within them the seeds for reason and kindness, their innate state is more Lord of the Flies than anything else. Children are naturally violent, greedy and jealous. What tempers children is a society's externally imposed value system. And these value systems don't spring out of whole cloth. They are the results of centuries of give and take, violence, refining, and thought. In a chauvinistic way that I'm not even going to bother to defend, I think our modern Judeo-Christian value system is one of the best ever created -- and it's not innate, it's learned. I'll go even further here: I don't like the current fundamentalist Islamic value system, with its denigration of women, Jews, and non-Muslims, and its obsession with visiting extreme physical violence (and I include beheading and other slaughters) on those so denigrated. So, I don't think we in the West are innately good, or that those in the fundamentalist Islamic Middle East are inherently bad. I do think, however, that we have the better value system, and that it's absolute idiocy for someone to go around mouthing Anne Frank's touching but misguided words about humans' innate goodness. And of course, if it were merely one person's idiocy, that would be irritating, but fine. What's a problem is that people seek to impose this willfully naive view on American foreign policy, hampering America's ability to protect herself against those whose value system calls for our subjugation or death. UPDATE: Dennis Prager writes powerfully about the new Arab anti-Semitism, which he considers even worse that Nazi anti-Semitism. The Nazis hid their death programs, not believing that the entire public would get on board. The Arabs have 100% public support. Additionally, Arabs have no fear of death, if they can, by their deaths, kill Jews. Prager makes other points about Arab anti-Semitism, but I thought this one was especially important in light of Anne Frank Syndrome:
We Jews have reasons to worry because the West ignores this Jew-hatred. One reason is that Third World evil is rarely taken seriously among Western elites. A second reason is the psychological and political need of Westerners to believe that Islamic societies are, with the exception of "a few extremists," tolerant societies. And the third reason is that Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism is dismissed as a temporary phenomenon that will disappear when Israelis and Palestinians make peace. But this belief inverts reality. The lack of peace between the Jewish state and its neighbors is not the cause of Arab anti-Semitism, it is the result of that anti-Semitism. Since 1948, there has been one reason for the Arab-Israeli conflict - the Arab/Muslim world rejects the concept of a Jewish (or any non-Muslim) state in its midst.
For this update, a tip of the hat to the wonderful American Future.

Thoughts about the Hamas victory

If you want deep, intelligent, educated thoughts about Hamas' recent victory in the Palestine elections, read this Richard Baehr article at American Thinker. If you want my quick reaction, read on. Believe it or not, I think Hamas' victory is a good thing. I'll back into this point with an anecdote. I took my children to see Narnia which is, to date, the scariest movie they've ever seen. What fascinated me was how their fear response played out. In the beginning of the movie, there is nothing to see -- it's all hinted at, with rustling behind trees and threats of bad deeds and evil creatures. This part simply terrified my kids. By movie's end, it's all out in the open, with a defined enemy and a fearsome battle. They thought it was wonderful. Even during the scene when the White Witch sacrifices Aslan, and the movie screen is filled with grotestque creatures out of nightmares, my kids were great -- what they actually saw was less fearful than what they'd imagined. Now, no one has ever imagined Hamas' very real threat to Israel (it's manifest in every bombing), but Hamas operated in the background, with the politicos in front making lying noises about peace. Now, the gloves are off. An entity that has repeatedly and violently called for Israel's total extinguishment is in charge. Israel, for the first time since she was attacked in 1973, has a defined nation state against which she can do battle. Of course, what remains to be seen is whether Israel has the political will. Richard Baehr notes that the Left will always remain in thrall to its delusional thinking about how nice the Palestinians can be someone would just give them a chance. But in the election coming up between Olmert and Netanyahu, Baehr thinks Bibi will win -- something I thought even before Hamas' victory. When push comes to shove, the average Israeli is going to ignore the weak Left and go for the strong Right. There's also the minute possibility that, having a state and a role in government, Hamas will abandon its terrorist ways. An excellent example of someone who did that was Menachim Begin. You may not remember but, before Israel was granted/won nationhood, Begin belonged to an organization that believed in terrorist strikes (although, to give them credit, they targeted the military, not civilians). Once Israel came into existence, Begin and his crew recognized that their goal had been achieved and instantly moved into the role of true statesmen, not terrorists. This is unlikely to happen with Hamas. First, we have history: Arafat never could do it. He used the fact that the West regarded him as a statesman, even though he wasn't, to feather his nest and to fund further violent acts against Israel. Second, Hamas, although it has a Palestianian state and a government role, has not achieved its goal. As Baehr says:

Look to the founding DNA of the organization. Hamas is not on the scene today because it was needed to fill a social service vacuum (even if this may be a part of the reason for their electoral success). Hamas, since its inception, has existed to end the occupation of Palestine. But unlike Yassar Arafat, who tried at times to finesse the meaning of his desire to destroy Israel by calling for an to end to Israel’s occupation of territories captured in the 67 war (and, wink, wink, from the rest of Israel later), Hamas was always more direct. Tel Aviv was occupied. The Galilee was occupied. Haifa was occupied.
So, Hamas doesn't mean peace for Israel, but Hamas' victory does mean that the right is more likely to win in Israel's next election, and that Israel will have a visible, hostile, defined target, rather than than fighting the inchoate specter of subterranean attacks from within her own terroritories. And I think that's a good thing.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Intellectual discourse from the Left continues to sag

One of the things David Horowitz, and his organization, Students for Academic Freedom, have been working on is an Academic Bill of Rights, aimed at ensuring that not just one viewpoint (waaaayy liberal) prevails on American campuses. There is no attempt to shut the Left down; it is simply aimed at ensuring that no one else is shut down either. The American Association of University Professors is up in arms at the attempt to enact a version of this bill in New York. What's so funny about their effort is how pathetic it is. They have the decency to include in the email they've sent around the Bill's language, which is moderate, temperate, and utterly biased in any direction. And here's their argument:

Can you please alert your colleagues and chapters to protest this bill coming out of the Higher Education Committee? A stance against it is a non-partisan educational issue insofar as 1. Many republicans/conservatives, liberals are as much against government interference in the lives of our citizens be they students and/or faculty members as democrats and members of the working families party. 2. When it ain't broke, don't fix it. 3 The Bill of Rights and its amendments also applies to Higher Education. Why this special delusional legislation?
That's it? They argue that even-handedness constitutes government interference? They contend without even an effort to support their statement that "it ain't broke?" And then, based on this stunning elevation of fact, logic and argument, they ask rhetorically "why this special delusional legislation?" I guess the resurgent conservative movement is lucky in its enemies. Imagine if they actually were as smart as they think they are.

Quick tip for a great read

If you managed to struggle through the Da Vinci Code (soon to be a major motion picture), you'll definitely want to read Susan Vigilante's funny article about a Minnesota community center's decision to offer a class about the frightfully scary Opus Dei behind the story. Vigilante patiently talks to the course instructor, the course organizer and a presentative of the local Catholic press, all of whom are clueless about history, fiction, Catholicism, and the First Amendment. It's really something.

The sex offender will do time for his crime

If you hadn't already seen this:

A judge who was widely vilified after he sentencing a man to 60 days in jail for sexually abusing a child said Thursday he would increase that sentence to at least three years. The judge said he felt he could impose the longer sentence now because the state had agreed to provide treatment to the man while he is behind bars. Originally, the state had said such treatment would not come until time was served.

Waiting for the other piddle to drip

My home seems to be awash in urine, since my dog flooded the carpet and one of the Book kids soaked the bed. Both, of course, require labor intensive remediation. What next, I wonder?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

An honest liberal

There's been much twittering a fluttering on the Right regarding Joel Stein's unabashed dislike for the troops, as well as for the war, something he expresses in his LA Times editorial. Hugh Hewitt dragged him through a grinder for not being grateful to our troops, and others have been equally derogatory. I differ from these people, and find myself entirely in Anne's camp. She finds Stein "refreshingly honest" for having abandoned the unsustainable position of "I love the troops/they're evil killers." (Those last six words aren't Anne's words, they're mine. If you want to read Anne's much more elegant, logical approach, you'll have to go here.)

Supreme ideologies

Patrick, our favorite Paragraph Farmer, got a subscription invitation to The New Republic, with the promise that it would explain why not to vote for Justice Alito. Based solely on what was written in the email about the New Republic's approach to the Supreme Court nomination, Patrick was easily able to turn that invitation down. Fortunately for us, he walks us through his thought process, which reveals such intellectual gems as this:

What interests me more than what Rosen thinks of Alito is what Rosen thinks of Sandra Day "swing vote/centrist" O'Connor, because while she deserves kudos for being pioneering and conscientious, her jurisprudence doesn't seem all that coherent to this layman. O'Connor never seemed to grasp what Scalia and Thomas know in their bones: that case-by-case fairmindedness devolves into whimsy when it's not anchored in principle. While I'm at it, Mr. Peretz, the other thing that gives me pause is your unabashed cheerleading for "moderate and congenial" liberalism on the Supreme Court. Whatever happened to drinking the law straight, with no ideological chaser? You like that Justices Breyer and Ginsburg sailed through their respective nominations; I say the Republican decision to grant them smooth sailing was a conspicuous failure of nerve for which we're still paying years later. Believe you me, that indictment should not be understood as an attempt to solicit or excuse present-day lectures on stare decisis, "super precedent," and "settled law" from senators who bend over backwards to protect the federal power grab that is Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Unlike some of your readers, I don't much care whether a Supreme Court nominee belongs to an alumni organization whose magazine once published a less-than-politically correct satire not actually written by the nominee. That's old-fashioned guilt by association, which is different in kind and degree from the material facts of recent employment, such as Justice Ginsberg's pre-Supreme Court stint as chief counsel for the ACLU, whose famously cramped reading of the Bill of Rights ignores the "free exercise" end of the Establishment Clause while overlooking the Second and Tenth Amendments. [Hyperlinks omitted, so you'll have to go to Patrick's blog if you want to find the interesting stuff that lies under his own fine writing.]
I have to admit that I was for many years a subscriber to The New Republic, a magazine with a long history of slightly left-leaning intellectual honesty. Even before 9/11, though, I somehow lost contact with its chronic anti-Bush points and, by 9/11, I entirely disassociated myself from the magazine. I will say, though, in Martin Peretz's defense, that he has been a staunch friend of Israel, even when the Lefties (including at his own magazine), began falling like nine pins around him in their defense of the Palestinian's murderous ideologies. Indeed, his defense of Israel was so strong, he turned his back on Kerry and supported Bush in the last election. Talking to Technorati: , ,

Where do one person's rights end and another's begin

Teachers in San Leandro, who are of course school district employees and not free agents, are being forced to place in the class posters stating that the class is a safe place to be gay (lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, whatever). Five teachers have refused to do so:

Five teachers at San Leandro High School have refused to comply with a school district order to display a rainbow-flag poster in their classrooms that reads, 'This is a safe place to be who you are,' because they say homosexuality violates their religious beliefs, Principal Amy Furtado said. The high school's Gay-Straight Alliance designed the poster, which includes pink triangles and other symbols of gay pride. In December the school board approved a policy requiring all district teachers to hang the posters in their classrooms. District officials said the poster is an effort to comply with state laws requiring schools to ensure students' safety and curb discrimination and harassment. They say that too often teachers do not reprimand students who use derogatory slurs or refer to homosexuality in a negative way.
I completely agree with those five teachers, and it's not because I want to see increased violence against gays (lesbians, etc.), or because I think gays (lesbians, etc.) are evil, or whatever. It's because I think that a classroom is a place for teaching and civility. This means that it should be a safe place for everyone to learn what the teacher is teaching and to advance politely ideas relevant to the subject matter. In other words, a classroom should be a safe place for everyone to learn the subject matter. To force teachers to display what amounts to a gay flag in their classroom is an unreasonable elevation of a single group over all other groups that deserve precisely the same courtesies. It appears that the signs went up because students, on occasion, have used insulting language regarding homosexuals (and differently sexualed, etc.). That doesn't mean, though, that you turn classrooms into forums for advertising a special status for homosexuality. It means that you recognize that teenagers are rude, and that it is the job of a public school in a civil society to teach all teenagers that those expressions, whether directed at a religion, race, sexuality, sex, etc., are inappropriate means of discourse on the campus. The most threatening thing about the whole article to my mind is the principal's promise to create harmony:
Furtado said she is confident that every teacher eventually will comply with the district mandate. She said she intends to work with those teachers who have refused to ensure they comply with the order. "We work in a public school," she said. "I have no wish to change anyone's personal belief, but we want all kids to feel safe. That's where we have common ground."
Considering that you have a fairly stupid PC approach on one side, and five teachers' profoundly held value systems on the other side, I rather wonder what Ms. Furtado is going to do to force those teachers to abandon their beliefs. By the way, here's the poster: As Peter points out in the first comment to this post, "questioning" and "youth" seems to have been added to the roster of "lesbian, gay, bisexual," etc. It's easy to see where a teacher who believes homosexuality is a problematic lifestyle choice would baulk, not just at a poster generally, but at a poster that seems to imply that all young people are sexually confused. And I don't think I'm reading too much into the progression of labels on the poster. There is a legal doctrine holding that, when a statute enumerates a list of things, all items in the list are presumed to be part of a related class. [I'm too lazy to check out the formal Latin name of the doctrine, but I'm sure there are some lawyer readers who will be happy to fill in that blank.]

Lies and more lies

I went to this This New Yorker webpage, and found a striking ad. (You may have to reload the page a few times to pull up the ad.) It shows a close-up of Richard Nixon's face, with the words "He lied to America" written underneath. The text then changes to this Nixon quote: "I state again to every one of you . . . I had no prior knowledge of the Watergate break-in." Next, you see a picture of George Bush, again with the caption "He lied to America." The text then morphs to this quotation: "...any time you hear the US gov talking about wiretaps, it requires - a wiretap requires a court order." The next screen says: "The Bush NSA spying program: Were oaths of office broken? Were federal laws violated?" And the final screen states: Tell the White House to appoint a special counsel. ACLU. Join us in our work." Rather amazingly, they missed an interim President. The third set up should have been a picture of Clinton. "He lied to America. 'I did not have sex with that woman.'" Hat tip for the New Yorker web page that led me to this ad: Michelle Malkin

Two random thoughts

1. I got an Amazon quarterly statement and, to my surprise, discovered that people had actually linked to and ordered books through my blog. Whoever you are: Thank you! 2. I have an email etiquette problem. I love receiving emails from people, and I love writing them. My question is, when does one break off the correspondence? I probably have a phobia about this because my grandmother used to be the kind who wrote thank you notes when you sent her a thank you note, much to the family's amusement. The fact was, she just liked to keep the written dialogue going. I do too, but I'm worried about imposing on other people's good will. So, even though I have an impulse to respond to responses to my emails, I always worry that the other person will open his/her email and think, "Oh my God, not her again." In a face to face conversation, it's much easier, because you actually leave the conversation ("Oh, my. Look at the time. I've got to run"). There aren't those markers in an email dialogue and I never know when it's polite or appropriate to stop. Ideas? Input? Thoughts? Suggestions?

American exceptionalism

After my flurry of article writing, blogging and fisking over the last few days, I need to turn my attention to actual remunerative work. I'll almost certainly blog today, but mininally. So I thought I'd start my day with a question for you. First, a little background: Have any of you ever been to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York? It is, in my opinion, the best museum New York has to offer. All the other museums -- the Met, the Museum of Natural History, MOMA, etc. -- are sort of generic. That is, they're great museums, but you can find their like in every major world city. The Tenement museum, though, is unique and wonderful. It's a building in the Lower East Side that was built in 1867 and that was continuously inhabited through the early 1930s. It was then sealed up, where it remained as an unlikely time capsule to be explored decades later. This is the Lower East Side through which hundreds of thousands of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe streamed at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. The museum is a staggering testament to the human ability to adapt and survive. Each apartment in the building is roughly the shape and size of a bus (although slightly shorter and wider). Each unit was divided into three parts, with a window only in the front room, a pass-thru between front room and kitchen (which was installed only in the 1890s), and then a door between kitchen and back bedroom. I was there during the summer and the heat was paralyzing. There were four units to a floor. Initially, there was no plumbing, but eventually, each floor got a single toilet. Did I mention that these teeny units usually housed an average family of six or eight, or that they were used as clothing sweat shops with up to twelve people working in each unit per day? That means a potential daily toilet load of forty-eight people. It helps to remember that, at the time about which I'm writing, the Lower East Side was more densely packed than Calcutta. Anyway, I'm not doing justice to describing how they lived. Barbara Tuchman actually gives a very good sense of these lives:

They came from the warrens of the poor, where hunger and dirt were king, where consumptives coughed and the air was thick with the smell of latrines, boiling cabbage and stale beer, where babies wailed and couples screamed in sudden quarrels, where roofs leaked and unmended windows let in the cold blasts of winter, where privacy was unimaginable, where men, women, grandparents and children lived together, eating, sleeping, fornicating, defecating, sickening and dying in one room, where a teakettle served as a wash boiler between meals, old boxes served as chairs, heaps of foul straw as beds, and boards propped across two crates as tables, where sometimes not all the children in a family could go out at one time because there were not enough clothes to go round, where decent families lived among drunkards, wife-beaters, thieves and prostitutes, where life was a seesaw of unemployment and endless toil, where a cigar-maker and his wife earning 13 cents an hour worked seventeen hours a day seven days a week to support themselves and three children, where death was the only exit and the only extravagance and the scraped savings of a lifetime would be squandered on a funeral coach with flowers and a parade of mourners to ensure against the anonymity and last ignominy of Potter's Field. [Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower (1962)
One of the things that the tenement museum did, using census information, was to trace what happened to those immigrants and their descendents. As I understand it, almost without exception, the tenement was a one generation thing, with the families moving further and further into success and the suburbs. So my question or rather, my series of questions: What was it about America that enabled people to pass through this Hell in a single generation? Was it that time in history? Was it America itself? Was it that particular group of immigrants? As you think about it, think about the current problems in Europe, such as the French riots or the German honor killings, which seem to occur in housing complexes where immigrants have lived in isolation for generations. Also, think about the fact that, despite the Great Society, many African-Americans have remained mired in poverty and have also spent generations living in depressing, violent squalor (New Orleans is a good example). Last, if you have information on the subjects, you might bring to the table thoughts about today's immigrants (Hispanic, East Asian, etc.). I have my own ideas about the answers to my questions, but I'm much more interested in hearing what others have to say. I find the collective wisdom that comes to my blog inspiring and enlightening. Feel free to leave comments here. Or, if you take this over to your own blog, be sure to let me know so I can read your thoughts. Talking to Technorati: , ,

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The end of media as we know it

Thomas Lifson edits one of my favorite sites, The American Thinker, but he's also an extremely good writer. He demonstrates this last quality in this article about the rise and fall of the modern American media. It lucidly explains how the MSM came into existence, and why it's going the way of the dinosaur. Talking to Technorati: ,

Fisking Kushner

A liberal friend who is truly shocked that I don't want to see such an epochal film as Munich sent me Kushner's defense for his film, as spelled out in the LA Times. I hereby offer Kushner and Bookworm. [Don Quixote told me it was hard to tell at first glance which was the Kushner text I'm fisking, so I've put all the Kushner stuff from the LA Times in blue.] The article begins with Kushner careful to establish that he is a bona fide Jew. He knows some Yiddish and makes it clear that he celebrates Passover. This man is a Jew. He also notes, accurately, the breadth and depth of criticism leveled against his screenplay:

In the last month, the co-creators of "Munich" have been accused of being apologists for the Palestinians, apologists for Israel, defamers of Palestinians and of Israel, softheaded Hollywood liberals, dupes of the radical left, dupes of the radical right, even of being anti-Semitic or self-loathing, for showing Jews talking about receipts and handling money. We're morally confused, overly complicated, simplistic. We're cowards who refused to take sides. We took a side but, oops! the wrong side.
And now to the meat of the argument. This time it's a relative with a question:
Is it the case, she asked, that "Munich" is based on a discredited book, "Vengeance"? No, I answered, it's based on a book, "Vengeance," that has been challenged but never discredited — these are not the same things. There is no definitive account of what was, after all, a covert Mossad operation. But no one is challenging the central historical fact in the debate that "Munich" is meant to catalyze: Palestinians were assassinated by Israel, following the Palestinian murder of the Israeli athletes in Munich.
As always, when one hears someone from the Left defend something, it's clear that, until God's visible hand reaches from the Heaven and crushes it into pieces, it's valid. The easy target, of course, is the endless "fake but accurate" defense advanced in Rathergate. I'd say Vengeance has just a wee bit of the same problem. Why do I say this? Because it appears that the book was shopped around before being published, and was rejected because the author appeared scarily unreliable:
The screenplay (by gay activist Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America, and Eric Roth whose previous credits include Forrest Gump) is based on the widely doubted 1984 book Vengeance by George Jonas. Jonas based his tale on the word of one Israeli who claimed to have headed a clandestine assassination squad for the Mossad. But Jonas was the second, not the first author to whom this particular Israeli had peddled this tale of “Avner,” the Israeli hit man. The first, according to Time, was a writer named Rinker Buck who was offered an advance from Simon and Schuster. But the deal fizzled when Buck traveled to Europe to check his informant’s information and found that “he was changing his story daily.” Buck said he could not write the book in good conscience. Jonas apparently could. And while the book has been debunked for 20 years, Spielberg saw fit to build a movie upon it
This makes the same point about Kushner's "never been discredited" book:
First published in May, 1984, Vengeance caused immediate controversy. The book, which reads more like a novel than a historical or journalistic work, relies on "Avner," a single, pseudonymous source for its narrative. While Jonas may have trusted his source, it is ultimately up to the reader to decide if Avner should be believed. Portions of the book were labeled as either false or unprovable by both the New York Times and Maclean's magazine.
As for Kushner's "nobody knows what the Mossad does" defense, that's also untrue. There has been at least one subsequent book written by a legitimate journalists who was also in the IDF, and it exposes the many lies in Vengeance -- and does so based on interviews with dozens of Mossad agents. Okay, I hope I've decimated that bit of silliness from Kushner. Let's go on to the next bit:
Next question: Why does the movie show Mossad agents having doubts and regrets about killing terrorists when apparently they never have doubts and regrets? Why did you make that up? I've never killed anyone, but my instincts as a person and a playwright — and the best books I've read about soldiers or cops or people whose jobs bring them into violent physical conflict — suggest that people in general don't kill without feeling torn up about it. Violence exacts a psychic toll, unless you're a sociopath, and who wants to watch a movie about sociopaths?
That's it -- Kushner's instincts about killing drive the movie's viewpoint. And you know, it's true that if I, a middle class homemaker, completely accidentally killed someone, say in a car accident, I'd feel precisely the same way. But this isn't about me or a car accident. This is about trained covert agents, honed in a war against their country that had then been going on for thirty years, tracking cold-blooded killers who had slaughtered their compatriots. Under those circumstances, I'd say the heartbreak of anxiety is unlikely. I'd also say that Kushner's inability to think outside of his own little liberal box is a fatal flaw to his much vaulted artistic ability. Additionally, as his article goes on to castigate conservatives for their inability to feel someone else's pain, his narrow worldview becomes a fine piece of hypocrisy. In any event, two recent stories give more credibility to my view (that revenge can be sweet) than to Kushner's ("Oh my God. Like, I'd never, never kill anybody. That would be too icky.") The first is that science proves that men enjoy revenge when underlying justice is involved; the second is that even women feel unconflicted about imposing the death penalty against killers -- when they have all the facts and a stake in the matter. But let's get to the real nub of the matter, which is Kushner's view of Israel:
Janice asked a third question: Why do I, her cousin-in-law, apparently have a secret plan to destroy Israel? I have indeed been critical of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza — well, Janice knew that already. I'm an American and a proudly Diasporan Jew. I believe that the best hope for any oppressed minority is found in the Constitution's promise of equal protection under the law, in secular pluralist democracy. I believe that governments — and our souls — are nourished by honesty, open-mindedness and public debate, even of scary ideas and uncomfortable truths. But my criticism of Israel has always been accompanied by declarations of unconditional support of Israel's right to exist, and I believe that the global community has a responsibility to defend that right. I have written and spoken of my love for Israel.
Kushner dresses up the fact that he has bought into the thinking of Israel's ideological enemies by saying, "But I really and truly love Israel." That's just too easy. We show love with support. Kushner's thinking can be analogized to the man who beats a dog to death while saying "I love this dog. It just needs discipline." By the way, Kushner is very careful in this article not to say what his criticisms of Israel have been, just that he loves Israel. How about if we fill in those blanks:
It is a worldview that has inspired Kushner to declare, "I think the founding of the State of Israel was for the Jewish people a historical, moral, political calamity.... I wish modern Israel hadn't been born." It is a worldview that had him tell the Times of London, "I deplore the brutal and illegal tactics of the Israeli Defense Forces in the occupied territories. I deplore the occupation, the forced evacuations, the settlements, the refugee camps, the whole shameful history of the dreadful suffering of the Palestinian people; Jews, of all people, with our history of suffering, should refuse to treat our fellow human beings like that." It is a worldview that caused him to sign his name to a noxious newspaper advertisement released by the Not In Our Name Project in 2002 that viciously attacked both the U.S. and Israel. Sample: "In our name, the Bush administration, with near unanimity from Congress, not only attacked Afghanistan but arrogated to itself and its allies the right to rain down military force anywhere and any time. The brutal repercussions have been felt from the Philippines to Palestine, where Israeli tanks and bulldozers have left a terrible trail of death and destruction." It is a worldview that inspired him to sit on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an outfit that boasts of its public support for the Presbyterian Church's decision to consider selective divestment measures against Israel and which on its website "call [s] upon the United States to suspend military aid to Israel, and on U.S. corporations such as Caterpillar to stop supplying the Israeli army" as long as Israel maintains "its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem." It is a worldview that sees nothing off-kilter or one-sided in the JVP prescription for peace: "Palestinians must stop suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians," while "Israel must cease its use of military force against Palestinian civilians, including attacks involving American-supplied F-16s and Apache helicopters. Moreover, Israel must stop land seizures; destruction of homes, infrastructure, orchards and farms; arbitrary arrests and imprisonment; torture; assassinations; expulsions; curfews; travel restrictions; abuse at checkpoints; raids; collective punishment; and other violations of human rights." It is a worldview that led him to co-edit, along with the equally far-left Alisa Solomon, a nauseating volume called Wrestling With Zion: Progressives Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Of that book the Forward's Ami Eden wrote: "...reading [it] takes you to an alternative universe, where the Israel of today has reoccupied Palestinian territories and adopting harsh security measures — but not in response to a Palestinian-launched intifada bent on blowing up babies on buses. Instead, Israel's presence in the territories today is primarily the product of — Kushner and Solomon's words — ‘Ariel Sharon's mad, bloody dream of Greater Israel, which he and his comrades of the radical Israeli right have pursued for decades.'"
Of course, holding two entirely conflicting thoughts in his mind, and contending that they mesh perfectly, is consistent with Kushner's world. He's made no secret about belonging to the same group of thinkers that constantly professes patriotism, while castigating America as an evil empire that engages in world domination of the oppressed person of the week, that is the chief environmental polluter, that destroys workers, and that is responsible for most world miseries. Kushner wraps up his self-defense with what he perceives as a stirring defense of the movie. It's all about opening your mind and, of course, criticizing Iraq (and here I thought it was all about contemplating Kushner's navel):
I think it's the refusal of the film to reduce the Mideast controversy, and the problematics of terrorism and counterterrorism, to sound bites and spin that has brought forth charges of "moral equivalence" from people whose politics are best served by simple morality tales. We live in the Shock and Awe Era, in which instant strike-back and blow-for-blow aggression often trump the laborious process of analysis, investigation and diplomacy. "Munich's" questioning spirit is an affront to armchair warrior columnists who understand power only as firepower. We're at war, and the job of artists in wartime, they seem to feel, is to provide the kind of characters and situations that are staples of propaganda: cleanly representative of Good or Evil, and obedient to the Message. Contradiction in human affairs, such as the possibility that injustice can drive people to do horrible things, is routinely deplored and dismissed in these troubled times as just another example of the naivete of the morally weak (a.k.a. liberals and progressives). But there will always be pesky people who, when horrific crimes are committed, insist on asking, "Why did that happen?" This is a great annoyance to the up-and-at-'em crowd, whose unshakable conviction is that the only sane and effective response to terrorism is savage violence commensurate with the original act. To justify this conviction they offer, as so many of the political critics of "Munich" have done, tautologies on the order of "evil deeds are done by evil people who do evil deeds because that's what evil people do." If that's helpful to you as a tool for understanding terrorism, you won't like "Munich."
Did you get that? The problem with the film's critics is that they actually think evil deserves a strong response, and they simply refuse to sit down and listen to the crying needs of the oppressed. If only we were more sensitive, we'd just stop fighting people who are constantly trying to kill us. Feel their pain, give them what they want, and they'll just go away. That obviously happened when the U.S., during the Clinton administration, felt Iran's pain and apologized to the Mullahs. As Tom Lehrer famously said of the Germans:
Once all the Germans were warlike and mean, But that couldn't happen again. We taught them a lesson in 1918 And they've hardly bothered us since then.
Clearly, too, in the Kushner world, what happened to Israel -- and what we need to open our minds and emotions to understand -- is all Israel's fault. If the Israelis would just go away from Israel, and allow the peaceful Palestinians to live quietly on their own land and cultivate their gardens. Instead, these bullying Israelis insist on wasting their time and energy defending themselves. In Kushner's view, the Israelis should try peaceful resistance. (Of course, it really doesn't take a stunning intellect to realize that the only reason Ghandi's tactics worked is because the Brits, unlike the Palestinians, did not have the stomach for massacres.) Although it's not the ultimate paragraph, to me the following almost final paragraph presents the core belief driving Kushner's approach to the movie:
In the film, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is presented not as a matter of religion versus religion, or sanity versus insanity, or good versus evil or civilization versus barbarism or Judeo-Christian culture versus Muslim culture, but rather as a struggle over territory, over geography, over home.
And in that, I reject Kushner entirely. It was never just about land. It was always about power, control, and hatred in the Middle East. The policy of the surrounding Arab nations -- a policy begun in 1948 -- not to take in their own citizens (and most of those who now identify themselves as Palestinians were simply Jordanian citizens) created a petri dish for true evil. And the appropriate response to evil is to fight it, not to laud it, explain it and placate it. Talking to Technorati: , , , , , , ,

Monday, January 23, 2006

Iran and Syria

While many look at Iran right now and see a disaster waiting to happen, Michael Ledeen (like Mark Steyn before him) sees an opportunity. He writes that the increasingly open relationship between Iran and Syria is a sign of both tyrants' instability as the U.S. chews away at their control on the region. Even as to the nuclear threat, Ledeen sees reaso for to be optimistic:

Indeed, as I have long argued, the mullahs have made an enormous strategic miscalculation by going all-out for nukes, because it has made regime change in Iran an absolute imperative for the West. The closer they get to their first nuclear test, the closer the mullahs approach judgement day, and not in the way the fanatics around Khamenei and Ahmadinejad believe. They will not face the 12th Imam, but the harsh condemnation of their own people.
Of course, for a tottering tyranny to fall, it often needs a push. Ledeen thinks Western groups have an obligation, if through no other means but moral support, to let the ordinary people in Iraq and Syria know that, in fighting the tyranny of their leaders, they are fighting the good fight. Talking to Technorati: ,

Captain Ed catches the NYT with its ignorance showing

Captain Ed opens a post with a lengthy quote from the New York Times editorial urging Congress to vote against Alito. He then carefully explains why this editorial is misguided no matter how one looks at it. I think his explanation is so well-reasoned, I include much (but not all) of it here:

Either one has to believe that Supreme Court justices have to be vetted for ideology or that the process should be non-political. In both cases, the New York Times gets it wrong. If ideology is to remain outside of the process, then the only question for Judge Alito's confirmation is whether he has the competence to work on the Supreme Court. The ABA found him to have the highest degree of competence -- not the most conservative of groups either, one should remember -- as well as the highest degree of ethical practice. He has spent 15 years of fine public service on the federal appeals bench and almost a decade of work before that as a federal prosecutor, serving the people of the United States and enforcing the law. Outside of ideology, Judge Alito has the most experience in appellate law for a nominee in 70 years. If ideology is to be considered, then the New York Times has it even more wrong. It asks whether a conservative should replace a centrist on the court. If ideology has suddenly become a qualifier, then one has to look at who nominates the candidate. The President won election twice, and at least during the last election, Supreme Court nominations clearly were a major issue. He has the mandate of the election to pick the ideological bent of the replacements for any opening on the Court; there is no quota system for leftists, centrists, and conservatives, nor have Presidents been particularly apt at guessing which categories their nominees would fill in the long run anyway. Bush's two elections show that the people want a more conservative court -- so as long as the Times considers ideology a basis for selection, then a conservative judge should be the most acceptable as a manifestation of the demand of the people. I doubt that the Times asked whether the Court would be poorly served by replacing conservative Byron White with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for that matter. One easily detects the stench of hypocrisy in the Times' editorial approach today.
Talking to Technorati: , , ,

Actual humor at SNL

I blogged here about Hillary Clinton's pandering to black Americans, and here about Ray Nagin's God talk. I've now learned that SNL, which hasn't been funny in years, managed to be incredibly funny, and right on point, in a spot skewering Clinton, Nagin and, for good measure, Jesse Jackson. You can find it here, at the Political Teen. I have to say that, to my mind, the best part of the whole thing is the Hillary Clinton riff. Nagin and Jackson are easy targets, but Hillary is such a tightly controlled piece of work it's not always easy to make her the target of humor that doesn't collapse on the humor side and end up simply being mean. Kudos to SNL for being clever and on-point. Hat tip: Michelle Malkin Talking to Technorati: , , ,

Computer help needed

I just learned that my Atom and RSS feeds are invalid. (Something that can be checked at this Feed Validator.) Can anyone help me with this?

What's the trouble with boys?

Goodness! American Thinker is hot today. It also had this great article about all the stuff missing from the latest about the Newsweak story denigrating boys. Noel Sheppard, who wrote the American Thinker commentary, points out that the Newsweak story, while it does some heavy male bashing, fails to explain how boys did so well in the many millenia before girls were discovered. Intrigued, I went back to the Newsweak story and discovered that Sheppard was right -- it just says that boys are hyperkinetic little things with slow brain development, who need even more heavy handed input from the social scientists. Only the last paragraph hints at what I think is the real problem:

For Nikolas Arnold, 15, a sophomore at a public high school in Santa Monica, Calif., college is a distant dream. Nikolas is smart: he's got an encyclopedic knowledge of weaponry and war. When he was in first grade, his principal told his mother he was too immature and needed ADHD drugs. His mother balked. "Too immature?" says Diane Arnold, a widow. "He was six and a half!" He's always been an advanced reader, but his grades are erratic. Last semester, when his English teacher assigned two girls' favorites—"Memoirs of a Geisha" and "The Secret Life of Bees" Nikolas got a D. But lately, he has a math teacher he likes and is getting excited about numbers. He's reserved in class sometimes. But now that he's more engaged, his grades are improving slightly and his mother, who's pushing college, is hopeful he will begin to hit his stride. Girls get A's and B's on their report cards, she tells him, but that doesn't mean boys can't do it, too. [Emphasis mine.]
There you have it: the curriculum bores and alienates boys. In English, the politicized teachers bombard them with girly feeling stories, when they want to read adventure, science, war and gross humor stories. It's no better in the other humanities classes. History and social science classes make women appear as the saintly movers and shakers of the world. Forget John Adams, it's all about Abigail. Who cares about Lewis & Clark's incredible adventures, it's Sacajawea time. Pierre Curie wasn't the more brilliant, it was Marie. Albert Einstein didn't come up with those theories, his wife did. Abraham Lincoln wasn't a manly man, he was gay. The insult and indoctrination is endless, and it's all about boys being marginalized. I'll be the first to admit that, up until the 1960s, women didn't appear much in the history and social science books, and boys and girls were both being bored by the Moby Dick (I refuse to believe that anybody really likes that book). The evil of feminism -- and especially the feminism that has taken over our schools -- is that, rather than leveling the playing field, so that both boys and girls get cultivated in schools, the feminists are taking revenge against this generation of boys. That's why you don't hear NOW, or Code Pink, or any other feminist organization getting up in arms about the boys' failure rate in school. Nor do you hear them calling the PC police when little girls show up in class wearing t-shirts stating "Boys have feelings too -- who cares?" Talking to Technorati: , , ,

Accurate, but fake

The MSM is apparently trying to use some lies that have recently been revealed to pervert a truth. In an article at American Thinker, Ed Lasky writes about how the New York Times and the LA Times are using two recent memoir scandals -- which involved books that were partially or entire faked -- to attack Eli Wiesel's Night, a holocaust memoir of unimpeachable factual truth. I had a bizarre sense of deja vu reading Mr. Lasky's article, because I'd heard precisely the same type of attack the other day on NPR. There a commentator, his voice dripping with "I like Wiesel" concern, likened Wiesel's book to the recent spate of faked memoirs The commentator pointed out that the Yiddish book that preceded Night had minor differences, such as the final sentence, which adds one more fact to amp up its emotional strength. He ruminated thoughtfully about whether these differences in tone turned the book from an autobiographical book about the camps into a novel. It turns out -- silly me, not to have realized this -- that in the rarified world of NPR, writing differently about the same undisputed facts may also be faking it. This, of course, is entirely separate from "fake but accurate" which allows you to lie 100%, but still be held up as telling the truth. Obviously, truth is a very flexible concept for some. By the way, when I went looking for a link to the above NPR commentary, I also found this link on NPR, which is a news story, not a commentary, advancing precisely the same idea. In other words, the commentary I heard was not an anomaly. Talking to Technorati: , , ,

Life of an idea

I had an idea here. I thought about it a lot and expanded upon it. And it got published here. UPDATE: Kevin was kind enough to send me a link to this Newsweek article, in which a woman talks about the personal experience that led her away from her knee-jerk opposition to the death penalty.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Laugh for the day

If you're either an engineer or you know an engineer, you must check this out.

A famous child killer

Have you ever wondered about Magda Goebbels, the Nazi wife who killed herself in Hitler's bunker, after first killing her six beautiful children? I have and, fortunately, so did Neo-Neocon, who blogs about it here. It's an amazing story, which falls well within the parameters of the truth is changer than fiction category.

Ah, youth!

Did you know that freak dancing, in which the girl rubs her bottom on the boy's crotch during a high school dancing, is just like the tango? I didn't either until I read this article about a school in Pleasanton, California that decided to respond to parent's request that the dance (which she characterized as looking like an orgy) be banned. The article has a few striking points. Point one: The media was a'twitter about what should be the non-news fact that a school is barring inappropriate sexual activity (which is what the dance is, of course). Point two: Although parents got excited in cyberspace, few of them actually bothered to show up for the meeting where the decision was to take place. Point three: The columnist who wrote about it, after confessing that he let his own daughter pierce her belly button, says that the students really had the right of it, and there's nothing that wrong with freak dancing:

"Is a dance that simulates sexual activity appropriate for a public high school?" asked Vice Principal Matt Campbell. "We say no." All of which sounded pretty reasonable until those darn students got up and started making some pretty good points. Too bad so few parents were there to hear them. "What about the salsa or the tango?" asked senior Leah Kendall. "Those were sexually driven. I was disgusted by some of the dancing as well, but we are not all like that." Student Body President Elizabeth Usedom, whom Campbell singled out as an influential and respected voice on campus, was among those who insisted freak dancing can be as harmless as the old, lights-out slow dances. (Of course, way back in my parents' day, teachers used run around the dance floor with a ruler, making sure we slow dancers were at least 12 inches apart.) "I personally don't think freak dancing should be banned," said Usedom. "It is a very small group of people who like to cross the line. I think it can be done appropriately."
I have to admit that I find it impossible to imagine an "appropriate" way for a 14 year old girl to grind her bottom into the crotch of a 16 year old boy at a dance. The point about the tango is fairly irrelevant also. While it is indeed a simmering dance, with fairly close contact, it's significantly lacking in crotch grinding which to me really does cross a line -- a big, bright line. I'll give the author of the story big kudos, though, for his ultimate conclusion, one that echoes his puzzlement about the parents who never bothered to show up for the meeting:
The answer to this controversy is pretty simple. If you really are concerned about freak dancing and what kids are doing when the lights go down, step up and get involved. Foothill -- like most other schools -- is begging for adult chaperones.