:: PROLEGOMENA ::

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours." -Sir Charles Napier
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Michael, God bless that cotton pickin' fertile ding dang noodle of yours! I now know that there is a thinking man among us who dares to speak up. xoxox Pam
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:: Friday, August 29 ::

BUT WHO CONCERNS THEM MORE?

The talks are on in Beijing over North Korea's nuclear weapons, opening with a threat of nuclear testing. I wonder where in that little country do they plan a test. I presume it would be an underground test. Anyone think we'll send in Jimmy Carter to make promises that will help NK more nuclear capable, like he did before? Not on Bush's watch. Carter will have to stay home and smoke more Mandela.

At the same time, we read that the IAEA is going to be considering Israel's nuclear inventory. Well, they should. But I wonder in a world where the UN runs scared out of Iraq, will discussing "Israeli Nuclear Capabilities and Threats" at the behest of the Arab nations turn into the Israel-bashing that hijacked the (farce of a) conference on racism at Durban, South Africa (which took place a week before 3000 people were murdered on US soil).

I am amused, too, by the Arabs calling the issue of Israeli WMD to the floor. Are they afraid they will lose their next holy day surprise attack with even more efficiency than the wars they already started and lost?

Referring to my last blog (below), the belief that Iraqi WMD are in Syria's Bekaa Valley lends to a good question: Anyone want to argue that Israel should not have a nuclear deterrent? Memo to the Arabs: prevailing winds blow east.

:: michael Friday, August 29, 2003 [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, August 26 ::
OSIRAK PART II?

Writing about four years ago, Daniel Pipes wrote, "Bill Clinton thinks 'you can trust' the Syrian dictator to honor a deal, and many agree; the record indicates otherwise." Now the son of Al-Assad rules Syria, and seems to be keeping a deal... with Iraq, although an Iraq no longer in power.

This article was no surprise, but it won't mean anything to those who opposed the war in Iraq and who continue to play the African-Uranium-intelligence card (and nevermind that the British continue to stand by their intelligence.) Those same people continue to gloat over no WMD's being found in Iraq, because they continue to ignore what we have known since January, before the war, that convoys were seen driving into Syria.

In August 2003 this is breaking news about Iraq's WMD:
Instead they are located in Lebanon's heavily-fortified Bekaa Valley, swarming with Iranian and Syrian forces, and Hizbullah and ex-Iraqi agents, Geostrategy-Direct.com will report in Wednesday's new weekly edition. U.S. Intelligence first identified a stream of tractor-trailer trucks moving from Iraq to Syria to Lebanon in January 2003. The significance of this sighting did not register on the CIA at the time.
Plus this useful reminder:
Mutually-lucrative Iraqi-Syrian arms transactions are nothing new. Firas Tlas, son of Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlas, has been the key to Syria's rogue alliance with Iraq. He and Assad made hundreds of millions of dollars selling weapons, oil and drugs to and from Iraq, according to the May 13, 2003 edition of Geostrategy-Direct.com.
Heavily fortified, and even closer to Israel. Feel free to post a comment why Israel shouldn't be nuclear.

:: michael Tuesday, August 26, 2003 [+] ::
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:: Friday, August 22 ::
JUGGLING TWO HISTORIES

Dr. Johnson told me about an interesting lawsuit. National Review published, "Who CAIR's?" in June, which included this report:
CAIR's southern California executive director, Hussam Ayloush co-hosted an event in May 1998 at which an Egyptian militant Islamic leader, Wagdi Ghunaym, call Jews the "descendants of the apes." National Chairman Omar Ahmad made an astonishing and troublesome admission when he told a crowd of California Muslims in July 1998, "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran . . . should be the highest authority in America. And Islam the only accepted religion on earth...."
Hussam Ayloush is now suing National Review for implying that he supports anti-Semitic views. Anyone think this will actually make it to trial? As a result of this suit, now even more people will get the reasonable impression that he supports anti-Semitic views, an effect that Fox News should have also been able to anticipate when it caused Al Franken's book sales to dramatically increase.

Dr. Johnson cleverly points out that now is the time for the Left to criticize someone for teaching evolution. Hussam Ayloush should be criticized for not going on record against those remarks, an absence of action which yet again illustrates how Muslim leadership generally will not stand against the widespread wrongdoing of so many of its followers, which brings to mind the quote of the week, by Israel's Industry and Trade Minister Ehud Olmert:
Either [the Palestinians] fight terror, or we do it, without compromise
Back to lawsuits. A fascinating one is going to be filed in Switzerland by a group of Egyptian lawyers.
The August 9, 2003 edition of the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram Al-Arabi featured an interview with Dr. Nabil Hilmi, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Al-Zaqaziq who, together with a group of Egyptian expatriates in Switzerland, is preparing an enormous lawsuit against "all the Jews of the world." The following are excerpts from the interview:

Dr. Hilmi: "… Since the Jews make various demands of the Arabs and the world, and claim rights that they base on historical and religious sources, a group of Egyptians in Switzerland has opened the case of the so-called 'great exodus of the Jews from Pharaonic Egypt.' At that time, they stole from the Pharaonic Egyptians gold, jewelry, cooking utensils, silver ornaments, clothing, and more, leaving Egypt in the middle of the night with all this wealth, which today is priceless."
Is this a historic reversal of Muslim denial that the Jews have any history or any ties to the Holy Land? Or is this an attempt at cleverness, to open up the debate over that history, perhaps even to force the Jews to renounce their history to avoid losing their Pharonic loot? Not very original, and not very clever. Muslims do not argue that Muhammed existed before he did, some six centuries after Christ, and cannot argue that the word Jerusalem once appears in the Koran.

If they win this, white people had better watch out!

:: michael Friday, August 22, 2003 [+] ::
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:: Thursday, August 21 ::
GOOD QUESTION OF THE DAY

Martin Walker, UPI Chief International Correspondent writes:
The Anglo-Americans have no choice; they own the war, and they own the aftermath. They have an obligation to their original decision to take military action, to their dead troops, and to their wider strategic goal of implanting a stable and prosperous democracy in the heart of the Arab world. They must stay the course -- whatever the exigencies of the U.S. election timetable.

The United Nations is different. Not only does the United Nations as an institution have a choice -- whether to scuttle or to remain half in bed with the Anglo-Americans and increasingly responsible for the stabilization of Iraq - it also has a decision-making process that puts an onus of choice on France, Russia and China as veto-wielding powers. They agreed that the U.N. staff should return to Baghdad, and to that extent they share in the responsibility to respond to their slaughter.

The issue is plain enough. Do these three great powers, and through them the United Nations as a whole, recognize that the suicide bombers of Baghdad who killed the U.N. staff are now the common enemy of humanity, and join to hunt them down? Or do they take refuge in their earlier pedantries, backing Resolution 1441 to require Saddam to carry out his various obligations, but ducking the military resolve to enforce it?

:: michael Thursday, August 21, 2003 [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, August 20 ::
CHICKEN SHIT

Yesterday France's newpaper Libération, published a cartoon dipicting US Soldiers as cowards shooting at anything that does or does not move.

Just after that, a suicide bomber hit the UN in Baghdad. This morning I read that the UN is pulling out.

How about that? Does the UN finally understand the nature of the regime it allowed to thumb its nose at them for 12 years? Does the UN, who lost its next Secretary General in the attack, realize that an 18th, 19th, or 20th sanction against Iraq would not have worked?

I am betting that rising Secretary-General figured it out, but too late. Ironically, he was the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, I wonder if he re-thought as well the UN kicking the United States out of the UN Human Rights Committee, where sat in America's place China, Libya, and Cuba.

No. This lesson is learned: one blast is all it takes. Let the bombers send in one, and they get what they want. Nevermind that the UN and its Security Council was largely on the side of the Ba'athists, and then went in there to help rebuild.

Would anyone now like to lecture me on the immorality of "unilateral" action. (You know, the action our cowboy President took, unilaterally, with Britain, Australia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Spain, Turkey, Poland, etc.) That's the same President who yesterday declared, again, that these attacks will not scare us away.

Being scared off is the UN's job.

:: michael Wednesday, August 20, 2003 [+] ::
...
THE WORM

The Sobig worm hijacked my office e-mail address out there somewhere and as of 8pm last night I was receiving about two e-mails a minute. So this morning I expect to see more than a thousand in the inbox. People who invent these things should go to jail for a long time. This isn't just a nuisance, since my job is hiring people this is going to cause people to miss out on work. Air Canada had to turn to manual check-in. See? They may have had the looting problems last week, but they solved this one...

:: michael Wednesday, August 20, 2003 [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, August 19 ::
DO NOT PASS GO

I knew this headline, "US notches world's highest incarceration rate," was only going to mean one thing to many people. I am sympathetic to a lot of the arguments against imprisoning non-violent offenders, especially those who go to jail for the likes of simple marijuana possession, but headlines like this one always go to race.

However, small offenders aside, I wonder if we are number one at incarcerating because we are actually number one at catching crooks. Evil people are everywhere, but the article wants to make a different point - well, not so different, it's the same old racism-obsessed view:
If current trends continue, it means that a black male in the United States would have about a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison during his lifetime. For a Hispanic male, it's 1 in 6; for a white male, 1 in 17.
I rather thought you had a chance of going to jail if you committed crimes.
The numbers come after many years of get-tough policies - and years when violent-crime rates have generally fallen. But to some observers, they point to broader failures in US society, particularly in regard to racial minorities and others who are economically disadvantaged.
Here we go again: poverty causes crime. Thomas Sowell pointed out very well that American blacks, before civil rights, experienced poverty but were not a criminal class, and adds this valuable historical lesson:
The greatest reduction of poverty among blacks occurred before the civil rights revolution of the 1960s or the affirmative action policies of the 1970s. Black politicians and activists have taken credit for obtaining from whites what blacks achieved on their own.
Walter Williams more recently makes the case that poverty did not cause Africa's problems, but the failure to secure individual liberties and private property rights has led to the poverty and chaos there.

:: michael Tuesday, August 19, 2003 [+] ::
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:: Friday, August 8 ::
Productivity Soars; Jobless Claims Drop to Six-Month Low

Sorry about the good news Al, but it looks like the economic downturn that happened during the same Administration as the second intifada (and the planning of the 9-11 attacks) may be reversed enough by re-election time.
Productivity - the amount that an employee produces per hour of work - grew at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the April to June quarter, the best showing since the third quarter of 2002, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That marked an improvement from the 2.1 percent growth rate in productivity posted in the first three months of this year.

In a second report from the department, new applications for jobless benefits fell by a seasonally adjusted 3,000 to a six-month low of 390,000 for the work week ending Aug. 2. It marked the third week in a row that claims were below 400,000, a level associated with a weak job market.
The former Vice President still reports, however,
I'm convinced one reason we've had so many nasty surprises in our economy is that the country somehow got lots of false impressions about what we could expect from the big tax cuts that were enacted, including: one, the tax cuts would unleash a lot of new investment that would create lots of new jobs; two, we wouldn't have to worry about a return to big budget deficits, because all the new growth in the economy caused by the tax cuts would lead to a lot of new revenue; three, most of the benefits would go to average middle-income families not to the wealthy, as some partisans claimed.

Unfortunately, here, too, every single one of these impressions turned out to be wrong. Instead of creating jobs, for example, we are losing millions of jobs: three years in a row of net losses. That hasn't happened since the Great Depression.
Then Gore makes this outrageous remark:
As I've noted before, I was the first one laid off.
Oh? What about all those affected when the bubble burst before the 2000 election? Further, Al, you weren't laid off because your term as VP was finished, although you seem to be close to conceding you were never hired for President. Somebody tell Terry McAuliffe.

:: michael Friday, August 08, 2003 [+] ::
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:: Thursday, August 7 ::
THE WRONG MAN?

Indonesia has sentenced the first of hopefully all the Bali bombers to death. The so-called "smiling bomber," Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, has denied being a member of the Islamic group that claims responsibility for Bali and, recently, Jakarta, saying he carried out the attacks to avenge the repression of Muslims around the world.

"Whites" he told the judges during his trial, deserved to die. "Violence is the only language they understand." Too bad he and the Muslims he bombs for don't understand where the repression (or it oppression... where is Hitchens when you need him?) comes from in the Middle East and Persia. Whites do not have Damascus, Tehran and Riyadh, nor do they want them. (And someone needs to explain that to Nelson Mandela.)

This recalls an old report from Indymedia, posted by Dean Bates, "Mossad Bombs Kill Almost 200 in Bali Tourist Nightspot" which was quickly pulled from that specific Indymedia site. Chapel Hill's Indymedia, however, still posts it. Will the indies say the J in JW Marriott stands for Jew, or that they left out the vowel because it was $200?

:: michael Thursday, August 07, 2003 [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, August 6 ::
I don't like taking breaks from blogging, and eleven days is enough. I haven't been this distracted since the time I learned that Lance Bass was not going into space.

I haven't really even been watching the news, and missed the whole Anglican Church thing, which is Andrew Sullivan's territory anyway. I am actually relieved to have missed it, considering the timing of a family wedding and having Episcopal clergy for relatives.

A liberal pagan friend, and walking-talking version of the NYT op-ed page, gave me his reasonable perspective of the accusations of "inappropriate touch": heterosexual priest who is allowed to marry is attracted to a woman and touches her in a non-offensive way... no offense. A homosexual priest who is allowed to marry (I know, I know) is attracted to a man and touches him in a non-offensive way... offense!

Even though I had been out of the news for many days, I sensed what was happening: a serious debate was being stifled by a stupidly last-minute accusation that would steal the headlines and remove thinking, reminiscent of when we learned four days before the election that George W. Bush was pulled over for driving too slow and charged with drunk driving more than twenty years into the past, and in walked Anita Hill with her Bible as accessory.

With my relative's wedding being a second wedding, Andrew Sullivan (again) posts some very sensible, compassionate language from the Eastern Orthodox Church on that subject. While Sullivan carries it further to make his own point, the language is something I enormously agree with as it applies to the broken human condition:
Certainly Orthodoxy regards the marriage bond as in principle lifelong and indissoluble, and it sees the breakdown of marriage as a tragedy due to human weakness and sin. But while condemning the sin, the Church still desires to help suffering humans and to allow them a second chance. When, therefore, a marriage has entirely ceased to be a reality, the Orthodox Church does not insist on the preservation of a legal fiction. Divorce is seen as an exceptional but unavoidable concession to our human brokenness, living as we do in a fallen world. . .

:: michael Wednesday, August 06, 2003 [+] ::
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