Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Monday, July 31, 2006

Mel Gibson Roundup

Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, An Anti-Semite? Volokh conspirator David Bernstein draws parallels between a possible organized boycott of Mel Gibson and the Hollywood blacklist of the 1950s.

More excuses to bash The Passion of the Christ. Some commenters to this Daily Kos post use the story as an excuse to criticize the film.(Commenter Valtin is not one of them.) Everyone who has any interest in the film should read Dennis Prager's review. This passage is worth noting:

[A] Christian who hates Jews today for what he believes some Jews did 2,000 years ago only reflects on the low moral, intellectual and religious state of that Christian. Imagine what Jews would think of a Jew who hated Egyptians after watching "The Ten Commandments," and you get an idea of how most Christians would regard a Christian who hated Jews after watching "The Passion."

Humor from an unexpected source. Kos contributor Salo channels a fictional Ann Coulter take on the incident, focusing on one specific remark of Gibson's.

Leftist hypocrisy. At Liberty Film Festival, commenter Direct Current observes that Mel's critics on the left often tolerate or even extol antireligious bigotry, including antisemitism. I would add another hypocrisy: those who are more critical of Mel than of anti-Israeli terrorist organizations and the Middle Eastern societies that tolerate and/or abet them.

Mel Gibson for UN Secretary General. So suggests David Frum. He is seconded by Michael Medved, according to another Direct Current comment in the aforementioned LFF post.

Mel's next movie role? At Kesher Talk, Hila (second commenter) sees a resemblance to Sadam Hussein. At least Mel never launched Scud missiles at Tel Aviv.

Update: Andrew Sullivan needs to get out more:

Here's David Frum, who uses the occasion to suggest Gibson's anti-Semitism qualifies him to become head of the U.N. Can you imagine him taking such a jocular approach if, say, Louis Farakhan had been ranting similar things about Jews?

Sully's never heard Farrakhan jokes?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Happy Birthday, Bugs

The wascawy wabbit made his screen debut in A Wild Hare on this day in 1940.

Another Reason Why Hezbollah Is A Threat To The United States

NewsMax reports some information that came out of Sean Hannity's interview with Jerome Corsi:

"We've had Hezbollah agents that came across the border with Mexico," Jerome Corsi, co-author of "Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America's Borders", told Sean Hannity during an appearance Wednesday night on Fox News Hannity & Colmes.

Appearing with co-author and Minuteman co-founder Jim Gilchrist, Corsi agreed with Hannity that border security is important for national security because Hezbollah terrorists could be coming across the border with weapons of mass destruction...

Citing the arrest and conviction of Hezbollah agents who had already infiltrated the U.S. across the border, Corsi said: "They are in federal prison. They were convicted for sending money back from Detroit to Hezbollah agents in Lebanon. So we have definitive proof that we have Hezbollah - [the terrorist group] that Israel is fighting today - sleeper cells that we know are here."

Asked by Hannity if he thought we could be hit by Hezbollah agents here in the United States, Gilchrist said: "I would not be surprised if we took another attack. Everyone feels that way. It's just that no one knows where it's going to be."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Carnival of the Vanities

The carnival is at Siempre, Cait. My 50 Questions post is among the attractions.

Donald Rumsfeld, Call Yer Office

Today, Kim du Toit reminds us of a December 2002 post of a terror organization that had attacked Americans and against which we had yet to retaliate: Hezbollah. The latter post lists those attacks:

  • 1983: bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut (which killed 63 persons)
  • 1983: suicide bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon (killing 241 Americans
  • 1984: bombed the annex to the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon (killing 14 Americans)
  • 1985: hijacked TWA Flight 847 (torturing and killing U.S. Navy SEAL Robert Stethem)
  • 1985: kidnapped and murdered the Beirut CIA station chief, William Buckley
  • 1985: kidnapped and murdered William Higgins, an American serving with U.N. peacekeeping forces in Lebanon.

In that old post he also provided a map to where we can find them...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bush To Speak Before The NAACP

FrontPage Magazine's Ben Johnson doesn't like it. He explains how the organization had long abandoned the bounds of civility.

I disagree. The audience is everybody within range of the free press, not just the NAACP. This gives Bush an opportunity to score some points - if he hits on these themes in the listed order:

  • Note the major chapters of the Civil Rights era: Rosa Parks, MLK, the Voting and Civil Rights Acts.
  • Celebrate the fact that within his lifetime, relations between blacks and whites improved at a greater pace than any thawing of ethnic relations in history. Bush must emphasize that the cultural changes came first, making the political changes possible. This statement must be in there: "Today, racism has been pushed to the fringes of society." Extra points if he cites Billy Graham's efforts to racially integrate his crusades in the 1950s.
  • Note that these changes owe themselves totally to peaceful activities, and not in any measure to racial violence such as that perpetrated by the Black Panthers. Extra points if he quotes the AFT's Herb Magdison: "Rosa Parks didn't blow up a bus."
  • Explain how Democrats promised to improve the fortunes of blacks, and how the opposite of what was intended actually occurred.
  • Explain how Republican policy will reverse the Democrats' damage, citing how Reaganomics benefited the black community.
  • Explain that blacks (and everyone else) who prosper do no not because of government programs but because they identify and apply their natural talents. Name a few famous examples - Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, Michael Jordan - and twice as many nonfamous examples of everyday folks who nobody ever heard of who excel as entrepreneurs, systems programmers, doctors, managers, etc.

Update: Ack! He already made the speech!! I bet it was far different from the one I envisioned.

Update: I managed to find a complete transcript. Yep, faaar different. Yawn.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Last Day At The AFT Convention

July 23 coverage has another screed from the PLP:

Today's Commie Commentary. Today's excerpt from Challenge: Revolutionary Communist Newspaper of Progressive Labor Party is headlined, "Chinese Workers Suffer Under Capitalism." It says of the AFT leadership:

"Although it cries crocodile tears for the workers of China, it refuses to condemn the capitalist system that is exploiting workers and pushing us towards a potential war with China. The AFT leadership continues to mislead workers by falsely portraying the problems in China as stemming from communism, when in fact they stem from capitalism."

PLP is referring to a resolution which is the topic of today's Quote of the Day:

"The American government is not the only source of evil in this world. American corporations are not the only source of evil in this world." – United Federation of Teachers special representative Leo Casey, speaking against inclusion of an anti-U.S. amendment into Resolution 38, dealing with worker abuses in China. My apologies to Casey for compromising him by quoting him in the newsletter of evil.

The AFT is not the most enthusiastic supporter of capitalism, however:

Delegates Pass "Boycott Wal-Mart" Resolution. Resolution 40 called for AFT to "urge members to patronize union stores and to protest Wal-Mart's presence across the country," as well as to seek legislation "which requires that all covered employers spend a minimum level of funding on healthcare for employees based on the number of hours worked in the year." The union's Organizing and Collective Bargaining Committee had recommended the resolution be referred to the Executive Council, but the vote to adopt the resolution was overwhelmingly in favor.

The AFT should have an Organizing and Collective Force Committee to deal with resolutions calling for legislation to achieve what bargaining fails to accomplish.

More Goodies From Intercepts

The July 22 post on the AFT convention has a couple of items that stand out. First is this gem:

AFT Calls Higher Education Teaching the Wal-Mart of the Professions." That was the headline one delegate wanted to avoid when he offered an amendment to Resolution 29 Â? Addressing the Academic Staffing Crisis. The resolution asserted that more than 70 percent of all college and university instructors are part-time or temporary. The resolution then stated that "this trend makes higher education one of the most extreme examples nationwide of the trend toward decreasing job security and benefits Â? the Wal-Mart of the professions."

A delegate moved to strike that last phrase because he was worried that headlines would compare academe to Wal-Mart. Since I was the only reporter on the floor at the time, I decided to fulfill his prediction.

The deletion was defeated and the original wording was approved by the delegates.

I forget which blogger first identified the convergence of the fringe left and the fringe right, but here's the latest episode in that trend:

Today's Commie Commentary. Today's excerpt from Challenge: Revolutionary Communist Newspaper of Progressive Labor Party discusses the international conspiracy masterminded by the Council on Foreign Relations and accuses the AFT leadership of complicity with CFR schemes.

"Our previous AFT president was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which is a highly significant think tank that hammers out analysis and strategy for the U.S. ruling class. It's such an important think tank that Â? when it decides, for example, that war should be waged against a particular country Â? then most of the key members of the State Department and the President's National Security Council, who are already CFR members, simply follow the plan."

Here we must congratulate the revolutionary communists of the PLP, for they have succeeded where others have failed Â? they have gone so far left they have met the far right. Their views of the CFR mirror those of the John Birch Society.

In case there's any doubt about the PLP's opinion of the Council on Foreign Relations, one of its own tracts identifies the CFR as "the foremost of the think-tanks that help formulate U.S. imperial strategy." Mainstream and fringe conservatives, while divided over the conspiracy theory stuff, agree that the CFR is saturated not with imperialists but with appeasement monkeys - just look at how many leftists serve on its board. If I were running an imperialist conspiracy, I wouldn't hire Madeline Albright and Richard Holbrooke.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Immanuel Kant - Nihilist?

Andrew Sullivan charges Chris Muir with misrepresenting Kant as a nihilist. Muir isn't the first person to characterize Kant's philosophy that way:

Though the term nihilism was first popularized by Ivan Turgenev (see below), it was first introduced into philosophical discourse by Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743–1819), who used the term to characterize rationalism, and in particular Immanuel Kant's "critical" philosophy in order to carry out a reductio ad absurdum according to which all rationalism (philosophy as criticism) reduces to nihilism, and thus it should be avoided and replaced with a return to some type of faith and revelation.

Was Jacobi's impression of Kant's "critical philosophy" correct? Have at it, you armchair philosophers out there.

Update: At Obsidian Wings, commenter A White Bear links to Jacobi's arguments as reported on a Stanford University server.

From The American Federation of Teachers Convention

Intercepts has an interesting story: the AFT supports Israel's war on Palestinian terror (emphasis in italics added):

AFT Passes Strong Pro-Israel Resolution. Delegates heatedly debated, then passed, a special resolution on state-sponsored terrorism and the crisis in the Middle East that strongly supports Israel in its actions against Hamas and Hezbollah.

The resolution states that AFT "condemn the bombings, killings and kidnappings by Hezbollah and Hamas that precipitated this current crisis," and that the union recognizes "Israel's right and responsibility to defend its borders and citizens from terrorist attacks and other threats to its sovereignty." The resolution also seeks implementation of U.N. Resolution 1559 and support for the elected government of Lebanon.

The resolution passed by a good margin, but not easily. An attempt was made to substitute language that would have condemned both sides and called for a ceasefire and peace talks, but this was rejected on a close vote.

Herb Magidson of New York, who introduced the resolution on behalf of the AFT Executive Council, noted that Israel's enemies have consistently refused to use nonviolent means to achieve their goals. "Rosa Parks didn't blow up a bus," he said.

But the United States' war on Iraqi terror is another matter:

These feelings will certainly arise again before the convention is over, during the debate over Resolution 31. The AFT International Relations Committee examined all the submitted resolutions on Iraq, and chose to present Resolution 31, slightly amended, as the one with which they concur. It calls on U.S. leaders to "withdraw all troops, bases and military operations in a rapid and timely manner."

Update: I do have a question for Mr. Magidson - what woudl be a nonviolent means for destroying Israel?

Friday, July 21, 2006

50 Easy Questions To Ask Any Democrat

Inspired by this Huffington Post piece (link via It Comes In Pints):

  1. What are the top seven things that the Clinton Administration had done, aside from signing the 1995 budget reforms that the Republican Congress instigated?
  2. Did the Kosovo War go well, despite the abundance of crime and terror in the war's aftermath?
  3. Are mixed-oxide nuclear reactors, which produce no emissions and which run on recycled nuclear waste (and would thus reduce waste stockpiles), good for the environment
  4. American Indians are the only known surviving people native to the Americas prior to the migrations and invasions from Europe. Jews are the only known surviving people native to historic Palestine prior to the Arab invasion during the Abbasid dynasty. Is it inconsistent for conservatives descended from those who displaced the Indians to fail to identify with Palestinian Arabs, descendents of those who displaced the Jews (and others) in the eighth century?
  5. How do you think Elian Gonzalez' life is going?
  6. When Hillary Clinton and various government officials met in private to plan America's health policy, how did they ensure that the program would not face solvency issues similar to those of Social Security and Medicare?
  7. Do you believe that Al Gore's call to eliminate the internal combustion engine can be accomplished within our lifetimes?
  8. Since the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives for four decades, from 1955 to 1994, and since the national debt amounted to $3.433 trillion in fiscal year 1994 (Federal Budget FY 2007, p. 126), how personally responsible are they for conditions in America today?
  9. After receiving two draft notices while enrolled at Oxford, to stay out of the war Bill Clinton entered an agreement which called for him to enter the ROTC program at the University of Arkansas. Instead he returned to Oxford. Why do you believe that he was not prosecuted?
  10. Would you want the UN to mediate a dispute among your relatives?
  11. Are you aware that Iran committed a deadly act of war against the United States during Clinton's watch?
  12. If you attended public school, what did you gain there that you would not have gained at a private school? If not, why were you privately schooled?
  13. Do you personally feel threatened by school choice?
  14. Do you believe that anyone on the face of the earth is capable of being a uniter without being a divider?
  15. When assessing presidential performance, do you give a flying fandango about approval numbers? Is the majority of poll respondants always right?
  16. Do you approve of White House officials illegally obtaining FBI files?
  17. How much money did Democrats receive from Jack Abramoff?
  18. What is your favorite John Kerry position on the Iraq War?
  19. Do you know how many positions John Kerry has on the Iraq War? (I don't.)
  20. Should we have made peace with the Branch Davidians the way that Israel made peace with the Palestinians?
  21. Are inmates of Castro's prisons treated better than Guantanamo detainees?
  22. Is the literacy rate in Cuba a meaningful statistic, considering that the government decides what Cubans can and cannot read?
  23. If you appeared before the Senate and admitted to committing war crimes, how fast would the police show up to arrest you?
  24. If the UN had mediated a dispute among your relatives three years ago, would they still be feuding today?
  25. Even if no laws are broken, do you think it's okay to pardon 16 FALN terrorists terrorists?
  26. During a single election season, approximately how often have you changed your mind on major issues?
  27. Why shouldn't people dismiss you as a flip-flopper?
  28. Do you accept that conservatives care about the poor just as much as liberals do, but simply disagree with liberals on what fiscal policies will benefit them?
  29. Where do you think those pardoned FALN terrorists might be?
  30. Is it fiscally responsible to socialize medicine?
  31. Are you glad Republicans passed the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, the Civil Rights Act, women's suffrage (Nineteenth Amendment), the Kemp-Roth 25-percent-across-the-board tax cuts, and weapons programs that have vastly reduced the American casualty rate in modern warfare?
  32. What are the Top Ten best things that liberals have given to America?
  33. If you were on life support, would you want your life support machinery powered by a windmill farm?
  34. Why aren't the allegations of rape and other forms of sexual exploitation of women and minors levied against at least 150 United Nations officials stirring as much media frenzy as the charges of rape and murder levied against five US servicemen in Iraq?
  35. Who respects women more - Southern Baptists, or the mullahs of Iran?
  36. How good is it that the terrorist Osama bin Laden wasn't handed over to the US when we had the chance?
  37. Can rational people have conflicting views on homosexuality?
  38. What frightens you more - that North Korea has nukes, or that your next-door neighbor owns a Glock?
  39. Why do capital tax revenues go down when capital gains tax rates go up, and vice versa?
  40. Why did rioting, vandalism, and murder occur in the wake of Jyllands-Posten's publication of twelve Mohammed cartoons, but not in the wake of the release of The Last Temptation of Christ?
  41. Why did the collapse of European Communism take so many people by surprise?
  42. Do the Democrats have a foreign policy that actually benefits democratic foreign nations and not terrorists and totalitarian states? If so, what is it?
  43. Since Bill Clinton campaigned for President with no desire for foreign intervention, in what ways were our actions in the Balkans not foreign intervention?
  44. What's the maximum amount of time you'd want to spend alone in a country whose elections were overseen by Jimmy Carter?
  45. Was it a good idea to give North Korea two light-water reactors, with which it can produce weapons-grade plutonium?
  46. Texans once had local autonomous rule. Palestinians never had local autonomous rule (prior to the founding of Transjordan in 1946). Which group has stronger claims to a homeland?
  47. Will the War on Poverty's mission ever be accomplished? Why or why not?
  48. Do you really wish John Edwards had been a heartbeat away from being President?
  49. If the 9/11 terrorists had flown planes into abortion clinics and Screen Actors Guild headquarters instead of a financial center and a military installation, would the left be any less sympathetic toward Muslims than they are now?
  50. How glad do you think Bill Clinton is that he never got stuck doing a tour of duty on a Swift Boat in Vietnam (and possibly Cambodia)?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rush Limbaugh Explains Ceasefires

From his website (emphasis added):

The first thing the terrorists did, they had guns, they started firing pistols in the air. But the forces of good, the good guys beat them back, and they call for a ceasefire, PLO and everybody else and they had just little pistols and, you know, penny ante little weapons. They called for a ceasefire, and during the ceasefire they loaded up with rifles and then they attacked again. Forces of good beat 'em back with their rifles, and so they called for another ceasefire -- and then they loaded up with hand grenades, and we beat 'em back with their hand grenades. Their hand grenades weren't enough for the forces of good. They called for a ceasefire. Then they loaded up with suicide bombers. They started sending their kids out there with bombs strapped to them and blowing up innocent people all throughout parts of Israel -- and then we beat them back with that, and they called for a ceasefire. During the ceasefire they ratchet up again, and they load up with Katyushas, Katyusha missiles. But the forces of good beat 'em back, and so they called for a ceasefire!

They're always calling for a ceasefire!

Do you note it's always the bad guys that are really leading the call for a ceasefire? In this case you've got some of the world, "There needs to be a ceasefire and so forth, and the Israelis need to do this," but the bottom line in most instances it's the bad guys after they've got their clocks cleaned start waving the white flag saying, "We need a ceasefire." After the Katyushas now they've come back with rockets and when the forces of good, beat them back, what will they come back with next after their next demand for a ceasefire? The bottom line is this. The moral, my friends, is that ceasefire does not mean end of hostility. Ceasefire simply means, "Time-out! Time-out! We Hezbollah guys need to find a more powerful weapon and we'll be back at you when we get it." There is no such thing as a ceasefire in their lexicon; there's no such thing as a ceasefire in their dictionary. It's nothing more than a ruse. So when they demand ceasefires or when they have their allies around the world demanding cease-fires, it's simply to buy some time to amp up, to load up and to increase their own armaments -- and Bolton is exactly right.

Bolton's quote appears earlier in the article:

The notion that you just declare a ceasefire and act as if that's going to solve the problem, I think, is simplistic. Among other things, I want somebody to address the problem of how you get a cease-fire with a terrorist organization. I'd like to know when there's been an effective ceasefire between a terrorist organization and a state in the past. This is a different kind of situation, and I'm not sure that that sort of old thinking, conventional thinking works in a case like this.

Tony Show Clears Up The Stem Cell Debate

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dubya Unplugged, Part Deux Zwei

Wonder how this will affect our relations with Germany?

Headline That States The Obvious

Iran's Parliament: No Part of Israel Is Safe

Update: Breitbart has the same story.

Meow Kampf

Cats that look like Hitler (link via Rand Simberg).

Irritating Driving Habits

Rand Simberg links to a top ten list. I jotted my number one complaint in comments:

Not letting me change lanes is irritant number one. And Dallas motorists are jedi shaolin masters of that driving technique.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Headstone Controversy

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports

There are 38 religious symbols approved for placement on government-issued grave markers and memorials for military veterans, but the pentacle isn't one of them.

The five-pointed star within a circle that represents the Wiccan religion, a neo-pagan, earth-based belief system, is not on the list.

As a result, the space reserved for Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart's memorial plaque at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, Nev., remains empty. Stewart, 34, was killed in September 2005 when his Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. He was a follower of the Wiccan tradition, and his wife is fighting to have the fact engraved in stone.


Earlier applications by Wiccan groups and families have not been approved because they were incomplete or because of a prior requirement that a centralized organization be listed on the application, according to Josephine Schuda, a V.A. spokeswoman. The Wiccan religion has no centralized body. That requirement has since been eliminated.

Naturally, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is siding with Stewart. The above article quotes Barry Lynn:

Every atheist can get a symbol on their markers or headstones; humanists can; Presbyterians can, but not Wiccans.

You might be surprised at who else is in that camp - John W. Whitehead, founder and president of the Rutherford Institute:

According to federal guidelines, only approved religious symbols—of which there are 30—can be placed on government headstones or memorial plaques. Included among the 30 approved symbols are those that represent such mainstream religions as Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. The list also includes more obscure religions like Konko-Kyo Faith and Seicho-No-Ie. And while the list does not include a symbol for the Wiccan faith, incredibly enough, it does include symbols for atheism and humanism.

Whatever one's opinion might be about the Wiccan faith, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that the First Amendment to our U.S. Constitution provides for religious freedom for all individuals of all faiths—whether they are Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, Wiccans and others.

The United States Supreme Court has routinely held that viewpoint discrimination by the government against particular expressions of religion is unconstitutional. In the Supreme Court's 1963 ruling in Sherbert v. Vernor, Justice William J. Brennan observed, "The door of the Free Exercise Clause stands tightly closed against any governmental regulation of religious beliefs." In that same opinion, Justice Brennan wrote that "Government may neither compel affirmation of a repugnant belief, nor penalize or discriminate against individuals or groups because they hold religious views abhorrent to the authorities."

I'm with the Wiccans. If atheists and Muslims get their symbols, Wiccans get theirs, too.

The VA's official list of headstone religious emblems is here. Don't laugh too hard when you see the Atheist symbol.

Update: Note that there is no Scientology symbol on the list. Alert Tom Cruise.

Update: Ken proposes a Scientology symbol.

Dubya Unplugged

Is this genuine?

Update: Yes.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Blogroll Addition

Sandmonkey The bloghost was born in Cairo, lived in the US for some time, and in 2004 returned to Egypt; see bio here. Sandmonkey has lots to say about the current phase of Israel's ongoing War on Terror - see here and here.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Mideast Alternate History

LGF links a Daily Kos article that tries to second-guess what the world would be like if the modern nation of Israel had not existed:

Thanks mostly to U.S. President Harry S. Truman and his “susceptibility to Zionist influence,” Israel came into existence in 1948. [1] Humanity, and in particular, the Palestinians, have paid dearly for his decision. The land on which the Palestinians had been living for centuries, in peace, with a minority Jewish population, has been gradually transformed into an Apartheid state by the machinations of the Zionist Movement. That Apartheid state, in turn, is today dominated by Israel’s Death-Mayhem-and- Occupation Machine. [2]

One wonders: What would the world look like today, if the state of Israel had not been created in 1948? Its improvident formation seems to have set in motion a chain of events, mostly negative, in the affairs of Mankind. In the movie, “Click,” the lead character finds a “universal remote” that allows him to rewind to different parts of his life and to change what had happened. If I possessed such a “universal remote” and could stop President Truman from aiding and abetting the establishment of an Israeli state, then, it is my speculation, (a theory), that the following 25 propositions would probably be our present day reality. They are:

1. The U.S. would not have any enemies in the Islamic World.

2. There would be no Al-Qaeda Terrorist Network.

3. Gasoline would be selling for less than $1 a gallon.

4. There would have been no 9/11.

5. There would be no USA Patriot Law.

6. There would be no Homeland Security Agency.

7. The Israeli Lobby's "unmatched power" over the U.S.' foreign policy, for over four decades, would not had existed. (Its support for the Iraqi War was deemed by the experts to be "critical.")

8. There would also not have been any Neocon ideologues; like Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, Richard Perle, et al, to help, (along with other "Special Interests"), to push the U.S. into an illegal war with Iraq. [4]

9. Iran would not be the next target for U.S. aggression. (No Israel. No "A Clean Break" document. No Israeli Lobby. No Neocons. No need for the U.S. to attack Iran.) [5]

10. The Zionist fink, Jonathan Pollard, wouldn't be in prison for stealing U.S. military secrets and hawking them to Israel.

In Comment #81 I take a stab at second-guessing this alternate universe (emphasis in original):

The Kossack is forgetting another important episode of history - the Cold War. Saudi Arabia and Iran under the Shah were our Cold War allies. All things being equal, the Iranian theocracy would have still happened, as would the hostage crisis and Iranian involvement in the Khobar Towers bombing. There would still have been an al-Qaeda, since support for the Saudi government was/is one of Osama bin Laden's grievances with the US.

Also, if there had been no Israel, there would have been no Jordan. Historic Palestine would have been made into one nation, not two, and King Abdullah would have been the reigning monarch. Since there would have been no 1967 war, there would have been no flood of Pali refugees in Jordan in its wake. Instead, the Palestinian Arab would have been subjects of the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine all along. And the Palis would still have mounted insurrections against Hashemite rule. Any guesses as to which side of that conflict the US would have picked?

It's Clobberin' Time

I caught the beginning of Sean Hannity's talk show. He was going on with general remarks about the tone of much of the world's response to the war in Israel and Lebanon - that Israel should show restraint. Recall what Allison Kaplam Sommer wrote over two years ago in the wake of the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Yassin:

They see that when we try to make nice and compromise we get terror attacks. And when we're tough and aggressive we get terror attacks. Nothing we do seems to lower the motivation to slaughter Israeli civilians -- men, women, or children -- and in the case of Hamas, to see the state of Israel destroyed.

There is no cycle of violence. Israel is attacked no matter what it does. The only proper response is to kill or incarcerate every last member of Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah, PFLP, and all the other terrorist organizations that wages war against Israel.

The Palestinian community at large has supported these thugs, and by doing so has committed an act of war against Israel. This has been going on as long as there's been terrorism in Israel. The Palestinians must unconditionally surrender if there is to be any hope of peace.

The Palestinians never gave peace a chance. For all these years they chose building for war over building a civilization. They have robbed themselves of normal happy lives. This must change. It is not enough that the Palestinians refuse to aid and comfort terror; they must also join Israel in the fight against this foe.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Why I Don't Live In The San Francisco Bay Area, Reason #5618 has a feature called 2¢ents, where random citizens are asked about a particular issue. The most recent installment asks: What should the U.S. do about North Korea? The vast majority of the respondents refused to acknowledge that North Korea is even a problem. Fortunately the item accepts comments, and a few commenters manage to add soem missing perspective. (Commenter AKH is yours truly.)

Death And Taxes

Ken fisks a Center on Budget Policy and Analysis defense of the estate tax (language alert).

Some of the CBPA's arguments commit the fallacy which is the central thesis of Henry Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson:

[T]he art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

In short, by focusing only on those revenues gained through the death tax, and those programs it funds, the think tank fails to account for the economic activity that would have occurred if the tax had stayed in private hands.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Word Of Caution For Expectant Mothers

If the snakes don't get you, the spicy Indian cuisine will.

Syd Barrett (1946-2006)

Shine on you crazy diamond.

Monday, July 10, 2006

When Fact Is Fiction And Video Games Reality

Bono commits heresy:

Liberals are sounding a sour note over U2 rocker Bono's backing of a video game that depicts Venezuela as a banana republic led by a power-hungry tyrant.

The "Venezuela" in the game is a fictitious country, but lefties are distressed that it demonizes Venezuela's real leader Hugo Chavez, known for his Marxist domestic policies and virulent anti-Americanism.

So how's the game played?

A player assumes the role of a mercenary sent to Venezuela, where a dictator has seized control of the nation's oil.

A typical moonbat response is this:

David Lindorff, co-author of the new book "The Case for Impeachment," said: "This kind of right-wing war game plays to the propaganda message that the Bush White House has been pushing for years: that Chavez is a dictator oppressing his people . . . Bono should use his financial interest in the company to kill it, or better, he should pull out entirely as an investor."

How does this jive with what's really going on in Venezuela?

[S]ince taking office in 1998, Chavez has, among other things, seized control of the nation's broadcast media, rewritten Venezuela's constitution to enhance his powers, purged critics in the military and sent thousands of young Venezuelans to Castro's Cuba for indoctrination.

The game in question is Mercenaries 2: World in Flames - official website here.

(Title is taken from a line in "Sunday Bloody Sunday")

Friday, July 07, 2006

For Firefly Fans

A Serenity model made of Legos.

For Fans Of The Godfather

Horse head pillow (link via Boing Boing)

Speaking Of Cuba...

Trade restrictions currently allow the sale of agricultural products to Cuba, and the Port of Corpus Christi, which is engaged in some of that trade, is lobbying to make sure that loophole stays in place.

I have a question: how much of that produce actually reaches the Cuban masses? Communist governments ration all consumer goods, since they own the means of production, and they tend to endow the party elites before providing for everyone else.

Turnabout Is Fair Play

Granma reports a demonstration in Miami calling for "respect for the right to travel to Cuba without restrictions." The even stronger restrictions on travel from Cuba to the US are not mentioned.

Job Opening In Dallas

Laura Miller will not seek a third term as the city's mayor.

(For anyone noting the irony of linking Fort Worth's newspaper: the Dallas Morning News is subscription-only.)

According to WBAP news (no link, just heard it on the radio minutes ago), Miller will seek to extend the Dallas smoking ban during the remainder of her term. The ban, as stated in this 2003 article, extends to "public places, including hospitals, schools, theaters, libraries, museums and transit system vehicles."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

What's Good Enough For Valerie Plame...

Byron York ponders:

Why is everybody in such a fuss over what to do about The New York Times’s exposure of the government’s secret anti-terrorist-financing program? Isn’t there a perfectly good precedent for how it should be handled, currently on display in the form of Patrick Fitzgerald’s CIA leak investigation?

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Torture At Guantanamo?

Cliff Kincaid says there's no reliable evidence that such activity ever happened there:

Torture is a loaded word that has come to mean in newspaper accounts the inflicting of pain or even discomfort for no legitimate reason. Thomas Bock, national commander of The American Legion, says the term "torture" has been very loosely defined and has "disoriented" the American people to what exactly is happening down there. He said a U.N. report on Guantanamo seemed to regard "leaving the lights on" for a detainee a form of torture. Bock says he has talked to many veterans, including former Prisoners of War, and the "treatment comparison level is just night and day" between what the U.S. does to its enemies and what our enemies do to our soldiers.

There is no evidence that U.S. forces torture anyone. If misconduct occurs during interrogations, which are designed to produce intelligence information to save American lives, it is found and punished. Accuracy in Media has devoted countless commentaries to the fact that it was the Department of Defense, not the media, which uncovered the abuses at Abu Ghraib.

The charges ultimately originate from untrustworthy sources:

Nile Gardiner and James Carafano concluded, in a Heritage Foundation report on U.N. allegations of torture at Guantanamo, that it is "based largely upon recycled allegations, without legal foundation, from well-coached former detainees."

This wouldn't be the first time that someone made unprovable claims that the moonbat left would accept as gospel without awaiting concrete evidence. Just ask Clarence Thomas.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Odes To Liberty

Original posted July 4, 2002. Every year a change is made:

2003 Original image of WTC replaced with mini-collage of WTC, Liberty Bell, and the flag raising on Mount Suribachi.
2004 Image of young girl celebrating the liberation Iraq; LOTR quote.
2005 Iraqi girl image replaced by Iraqi voter; Cathy Seipp quote via Samizdata.
2006 Viktor Frankl quote
 photo UnitedWeStand.jpgThrough these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I've watched all your suffering
As the battle raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms

Dire Straits, "Brothers in Arms"

"Then I will live in Montana, and I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck, or possibly even a recreational vehicle, and drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?"

Vasili Borodin (played by Sam Neill), The Hunt for Red October

"With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."

Martin Luther King

"The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden - that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time."

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 photo IraqiVoter.jpg"Funny that the same people to whom diversity is a holy word so often bemoan diversity of opinion as divisive. But in a democracy, politics are naturally divisive: you vote for this candidate and someone else votes for that one; you vote yes (or no) on a proposition and other citizens disagree. What's not divisive? Saddam and his 99.96% of the vote. That's how it went during the previous Iraqi election -- an illustration of the Latin roots of the word fascism, which actually means a bunch of sticks all tied together in one big unhappy unified bunch, and not (despite what many assume) any variation from p.c. received-wisdom regarding gay rights, affirmative action, bilingual education, etc. This election was different because it was divisive, which means it was better."

Cathy Seipp (Samizdata quote of the day, February 01, 2005)

"It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn't. Because they were holding on to something...That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."

Sam Gamgee (played by Sean Astin), Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

"[W]e recognize that we are living in the middle of the most overwhelmingly successful experiment in human history. Not perfect. Just the best place in the world to live in, that's all."

Jay Manifold

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered! My life is my own."

Number Six (played by Patrick McGoohan, "The Prisoner" TV series)

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."

Theodore Roosevelt

"So this Jefferson dude was like, 'Look, the reason we left this England place is 'cause it was so bogus. So if we don't get some primo rules ourselves - pronto - then we're just gonna be bogus, too."

Jeff Spiccoli (played by Sean Penn), Fast Times at Ridgemont High

"Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."

Alexis deTocqueville, Democracy in America Vol. 2

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way"

Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning

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Monday, July 03, 2006

LGF Reads Daily Kos So You Don't Have To

The Kossacks are in a tizzy about patriotism and Lee Greenwood's song "God Bless the USA" (lyrics here).

The overall theme is that we can't celebrate America while government agents behave unjustly, whether acting on their own volition or under orders. If that were the case, I would have been unable to celebrate America during the Kosovo War, or at the time our military abandoned South Vietnam, or when the Supremes handed down the Kelo decision.

Pay close attention to the song's refrain:

That I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.

Nobody believes that America has perfect freedom. Hong Kong surpasses this nation in economic liberty, and gun rights are more pletiful in Switzerland than in the District of Columbia. But America is abundant in overall freedom.

And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

Greenwood does not extol every single US military action. He praises those that protected and expanded liberty for Americans, and leaves it up to the listener to come up with specific examples.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

This is offensive only if patriotism is offensive. Is it? Kos contributor PsiFighter37's post is instructive:

Springsteen's song (which I was surprised to hear at a July 4th event) is tinged with sarcasm...'Born in the USA' doesn't celebrate the best spirits of America; instead, it speaks of soldiers who are forgotten when they come home and of the hard knocks that the average American has to speaks about real problems in America, not simply looking back at our past and glorifying what has occurred. The seminal contrast, though, is that after the past five years, no longer do patriotic songs like Lee Greenwood's ring true for me. They now remind me of the need to burnish your pro-American-ness that seems so prevalent in politics today. Springsteen's song isn't outwardly patriotic, but, like the left wing, it doesn't need to. Deep down, we know that we are patriotic; we don't need to show it off at every possible moment.

Patriotism, in this context, means regard for the welfare of one's nation. PsiFighter37 knows this - but refuses to consider the possibility that conservatives embrace the same sort of patriotism. Such bigotry is common to the Left, viewing right-wing patriotism as the hollow sort that sucks up to leaders and rings of jingoism. If they want to see that sort of patriotism, they should go to Cuba.

The Kossacks are like those fire-and-brimstone preachers who harp on the evils of the sinful world all the time and almost never get around to talking about the good that can and has been built. There is a time for addressing the nation's wrongs - and conservatives have not been shy about doing so with regard to such issues as eminent domain abuse, McCain-Feingold, government overspending, Bush's soft stance on immigration laws, or the nationalization and Rube-Goldbergization of airport security. There is also a time to celebrate the victories of the past, and Independence Day is one of them.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Will Department of Homeland Security Officials Start Wearing Kryptonite Badges?

Astrosmith is concerned about certain illegal aliens.

(Link via Rand Simberg)

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