Friday, July 29, 2005

Rabbi Dearest

I was all set to post on something else, but I took a little time to read some stuff while I ate my sandwich (typing is tough with a fist full of lunch), and I came across this column by Janet Tassel on WorldNetDaily's commentary page. It's an open letter to her Rabbi, and it's beautifully written. She captures so much of what's in my heart about what's happening in our society, except that her concern is for where Judaism is going and mine is for Christianity.

Dearest Rabbi,

Do you remember when Alice fell down the rabbit-hole? She was mystified, scared, disoriented – she had no fixed pole of geographical or lexical or moral reference. Well, dear friend, I'm afraid that is how I feel.

I seem to be in a place where words don't mean what they are supposed to mean. Like Alice, I feel "dreadfully puzzled," for the English language is beginning to feel as if it has "no sort of meaning in it." And that does make one feel quite the outsider. I would turn to you, both because, unmoored as I seem to be, I need the fixed moral compass that I would have hoped Judaism would provide, and because you are such a mensch, so sympathetic and good-humored. But alas, old friend, there you are on the other side of the table at the mad tea-party, your loving arms around all the screwballs, with nary a care for me.

I won't post the whole column, even though it deserves to be read in its entirety. Just a couple more excerpts.

So what's a Jew to do? Where do I go to get Truth? Words that mean what they say? I mean, beyond Leviticus, beyond the Sifra – Reform Judaism has effectively discarded those useless dregs anyway. Do I have to go to Chabad to find a rabbi – or anyone – willing to talk about virtue and discipline, about innocence, modesty and chastity; to say here is where the nonsense and obfuscation stop; to say that, whatever the law of the state may be for now, we consider it alien to Judaism, and the culture that nourishes it pagan and life-denying; who will say to our brother or sister homosexual: Here in this synagogue, we love you as a person, whatever you may be doing privately (and please, please keep it private) but you are asking too much when you insist we "celebrate" your "self-affirming" lifestyle, and we absolutely refuse to grant you license to indoctrinate our children.

For "Here in this synagogue," I could just as easily substitute, "Here in this church."

Faith needs to mean something, or it means nothing at all.

As I write this, the United Church of Christ is holding its biennial synod in Atlanta. There, at this moment, they are affirming gay marriage, of course. But more to the point, they are discussing (no, not North Korea, Rwanda, or Sudan) how to divest – in a nice, respecting-differences kind of way – from companies "involved with Israel's occupation, security fence construction, and settlements." This comes barely three weeks after the Massachusetts Conference of the United Methodist Church (another of your interfaith partners) voted to divest, and one week after our friends the Anglicans did the same, a year after the Precursor, the Presbyterian Church..

This at the very moment our beloved Israel is tearing itself into bloody shreds, trying to please and placate all the well-meaning Christians in the world, and the less well-meaning Muslims, of course – as well as the many Jews who are far from depressed at the spectacle, or even at the catastrophe to follow, God forbid. Do I have to remind you who, apart from the survivors and the deeply observant, will be the only ones wearing sackcloth and ashes? Why, those rubes in the dreaded religious right.

Yes, this rube in the dreaded religious right will be wearing sackcloth and ashes if Israel tears itself into bloody shreds, God forbid. Read the whole column (link here). It's a must-read.

Disciples of Christ Oppose Israel's Fence

I was raised Disciples of Christ. I didn't know much about what set the denomination apart from others, except that we didn't have to go to catechism like the poor, unfortunate Catholic kids. My dad's mom was Disciples of Christ, and her maternal grandfather (who brought his family out West from Kansas in 1888 in a covered wagon) founded First Christian Church of Tacoma, Washington. Or so says family legend.

Nutshell on Disciples of Christ: Founded as part of the Restoration Movement of the mid-1800s (pre-Civil War), which was non-denominational. Turned into a denomination under its own momentum. Split officially in 1906 into the smaller Churches of Christ and the larger Disciples of Christ, which then split in 1927 into Disciples of Christ and Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (more detail here), with Disciples of Christ heading into liberal territory and the Independent churches heading into conservative territory. I've been attending an Independent Christian Church for 18 years.

Today's Jerusalem Post reports (here) that the Disciples of Christ general assembly has called for Israel to dismantle the West Bank security barrier. I find the decison both disturbing and comforting. Disturbing for the same reason Rabbi Cooper gives:

"The resolution is an abomination," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center. "It is shocking and depressing that a vanguard of social activism like the Disciples of Christ would be so blind and deaf to Jewish suffering," he told The Jerusalem Post.

The general assembly even refused the opportunity to have a survivor of the 2003 bombing at Jerusalem's Cafe Hillel speak to them. This refusal showcases the closed minds on the general assembly, an unfortunate condition to find in a Christian church.

I find it comforting on a personal level, because I attend a church whose independent status (there is no national organization/denomination) prevents a general assembly or other governing body from dictating distasteful policy. My church is full of people who recognize the importance of Israel on both a global and a spiritual level.

"I have no doubt that had theses delegates seen the human face of the victims of Palestinian terrorism, the outcome could have been much different," Cooper said.

I'm not so sure. The Disciples' general assembly is apparently so close-minded that, even if the human face of the victims were before the assembly, that group would just shut their eyes and proceed with their condemnation of Israel's self-defense.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Iraq Now

I got an email from my astrophysics friend, who is pro-choice, but conservative on all the rest. AP has a Left-wing friend (LF) who enjoys goading AP (and me, when we're in the same room) on politics. In the past, AP has calmly explained to LF that when it comes to politics, she defers to my judgment, since studying astrophysics doesn't leave her any time to keep current on the political/world situation (just as she defers to her M.D. sister on medical things and to her history-buff dad on historical subjects). LF still tries to get AP to comment on his Lefty stuff.

OK. That's the background. Today AP forwarded me the email that LF sent her about how horrible things are in Iraq, since the US went to war there. Here are some excerpts from the email, which looks like it's a big quote of an article by David Cortright in The Nation.

Living conditions for the people of Iraq, already poor before the war, have deteriorated significantly since the US invasion. This is confirmed in a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation. Based on a survey of 21,000 households conducted in 2004, the study shows that the Iraqi people are suffering widespread death and war-related injury, high rates of infant and child mortality, chronic malnutrition and illness among children, low rates of life expectancy and significant setbacks with regard to the role of women in society.

Malnutrition among small children in Iraq is widespread. Nearly one-quarter of Iraqi children now suffer chronic malnutrition, and 8 percent suffer acute malnutrition. Illness levels among Iraqi children are also high, which is partly the result of unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. According to the report, "compared to other countries in the region and to the earlier data from Iraq...the supply of safe and stable water...has deteriorated." There has also been "a steep deterioration in the sanitary situation." Forty percent of urban households report sewage in the streets of their neighborhoods.

The UNDP study found that infant and child mortality rates remain high, although there is much uncertainty about the exact numbers. The evidence "indicates a progressive worsening of the situation for children." High infant mortality rates in Iraq contrast with declining infant mortality rates in neighboring countries. In most of the world, including the surrounding countries, mortality rates for children have steadily fallen over the decades. In Iraq, however, child mortality rates have climbed. This translates into thousands of "excess" infant deaths every year. These are the quiet, unseen victims of the continuing tragedy in Iraq.

The new report sheds light on the total number of Iraqi deaths directly attributable to the war. As of mid-2004, according to the survey, the war had caused approximately 24,000 Iraqi deaths. The death toll in Iraq has continued to climb, so these numbers are larger now than when the survey was conducted. At the time of the UNDP survey, the Iraqi Body Count website estimated total deaths at 14,000-16,000. In May of this year the Body Count website estimate stood at 21,000-24,000. This would suggest that the comparable figure for war-related deaths using the UNDP methodology is more than 30,000. Many of the victims in the current war are women and children. The number of children injured since the US invasion is higher than the number of military-age men. The report said that in the ongoing war, it is members of "the civilian population that are most affected."

Well, that gives you the basics of the email. The rest is along the same lines. AP asked me for my input, so she could reply to LF. Here's my reply to AP that she passed along to LF (I haven't heard back yet about any response from LF):

Tell him to do a little fact-checking. I did a simple google search on "United Nations Development Programme Iraq" (without the quotes) and got the official website for that organization (, which links to an Iraq-specific program ( They talk about their success in cleaning up after the mess that SADDAM left behind. LF can read the Development Update reports ( There's one for April 2005 and another for May 2005 that discuss different areas of redevelopment efforts by the UN. None of the stuff I see there makes any slams on the US, other than mentioning the heavy bombing of Baghdad at the beginning of the war.

I found a news item that isn't the one LF quoted but looks very similar ( Here's a quote that LF (or his source) neglected to include:

''After a 10-year period during which the living conditions of the Iraqi individuals and families could not be statistically monitored, the Iraqi government and its U.N. partner has finally taken a large survey of living conditions in Iraq,'' he said. ''Despite the difficult security situation in the country, COSIT was determined to implement the survey.''

A UNDP spokesman said it was stunning that the report was even completed.

''The most noteworthy thing about the survey is that it was done,'' said the spokesman, Dan Shepard. ''Iraq has not been listed in UNDP reports in some 15 years because there is no reliable data. That they were even able to do this with the security situation, it's quite an undertaking.''

We've been in Iraq for just over 2 years. There have not been ANY reports of living conditions in Iraq for 10 - 15 years, so there's NO BASELINE for determining whether Iraq's current conditions are the result of US policy, or whether they're actually an improvement over conditions under Saddam. If you read down in the April 2005 report I mentioned above, they talk about connecting a new water network in southern Iraq. That's in the marshlands, where the Marshland Arabs live. Saddam drained the marshlands as an attempted genocide. Once we took Iraq in 2003, we got to work getting the marshlands back to their former state, so the Marshland Arabs could survive.

Tell LF to do his homework and stop blindly accepting the Left's talking points as gospel. We're not the bad guys.

I made sure to only reference UN websites and that site, which looked like a human rights or environmental kind of news source. Nothing right-wing that LF could dismiss out of hand for being in the pocket of the Bush Administration.

That was enough to get me stirred up. Then I randomly came across this post (here) by Michael Yon while I was following other posts reviewing the new "Over There" show on FX (the milbloggers weren't impressed with the show).

Michael Yon is a strong writer, and his post is excellent and well worth reading the whole thing (it's long). Here are some excerpts:

The enemy in Iraq does not appear to be weakening; if anything, they are becoming smarter, more complicated and deadlier. But this does not mean they are winning; to imply that getting smarter and deadlier equates to winning, is fallacious. Most accounts of the situation in Iraq focus on enemy "successes" (if success is re-defined as annihiliation of civility), while redacting the increasing viability and strength of the Iraqi government, which clearly is outpacing the insurgency.

The Mosul police are now strong enough to launch successful undercover operations, and have been fanning out across Mosul and surrounding villages, snooping and listening for snippets. On July 15th, police working undercover in a village Northwest of Mosul heard a group of villagers talking about a weapons cache, but the location was not mentioned. Iraqi forces locked down the village, searched and found a weapons depot from Syria into Mosul. Iraqi police also found and rescued the 28 year-old woman I mentioned briefly in the last dispatch. She was the wife of a Mosul journalist, and had been kidnapped and held for ransom by members of a beheading cell. After the village search, police hauled four men to a Mosul station for interrogation, and alerted the Americans.

Many of the "fighters" here emerged and filled the vacuum following the fall of Saddam. In Tombstone, they'd be guns for hire; in Bogota, they'd be kidnappers without a cause. Here, they do not equate so much to organized resistance as to organized crime.

They get lumped in with the "resistance," but this is not entirely accurate. They do business with it, and they exploit it for personal gains like money, possessions and power. Today, the terrorists and their more populous criminal cousins in Iraq have a great deal in common, including the goal of forcing the new government to fail in its mission to secure the borders and restore and maintain order.

The terrorists have been trying to--with good success--cripple the macro-economy by destroying pipelines and infrastructure, and these attacks help the criminals. Attacks on gas stations, for instance, disaffect the citizenry from the government, while giving black-marketers transient fuel monopolies.

Read the whole thing. It doesn't paint the situation in Iraq with a whitewash, rather it gives the feel of realism that that conveys a deserved hope.

Iraq has not become a clone of American infrastructure and prosperity. The job there isn't done, not by a long shot. But Iraq is making progress in significant ways that UN surveys and reports can't convey, and that Lefties like LF seem incapable of seeing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What Do The Terrorists Want? II

What do they want? A couple weeks ago, I posted (here) on this question, based on a column by Larry Elder (here). His main point was that the terrorists want us to either (1) convert to their brand of Islam, (2) accept second-class status, which also requires the payment of a special tax, or (3) die. Those are the choices.

Yesterday, Daniel Pipes, of Middle East Forum, wrote a column (here) on the same question. His article takes a broader view of the same terrorist goal. While Larry Elder looked at what the terrorists want from each individual in the whole world, Daniel Pipes also looks at the world the terrorists are envisioning.

He explains that when the Islamofascist terrorist started, during the 1970s, they made their goals clear: Release these criminals from prison; cancel the showing of this movie that insults Islam. Now, though, the terrorists don't bother to say why individually. They don't need to.

In nearly all cases, the jihadi terrorists have a patently self-evident ambition: to establish a world dominated by Muslims, Islam, and Islamic law, the Shari'a. Or, again to cite the Daily Telegraph, their "real project is the extension of the Islamic territory across the globe, and the establishment of a worldwide ‘caliphate' founded on Shari'a law."

Terrorists openly declare this goal. The Islamists who assassinated Anwar el-Sadat in 1981 decorated their holding cages with banners proclaiming the "caliphate or death." A biography of one of the most influential Islamist thinkers of recent times and an influence on Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam declares that his life "revolved around a single goal, namely the establishment of Allah's Rule on earth" and restoring the caliphate.

Pipes offers this conclusion: What the terrorists want is abundantly clear. It requires monumental denial not to acknowledge it, but we Westerners have risen to the challenge.

And he's right. In today's news is this item (link here) from the Daily Telegraph of London. The article begins, The "war on terror", the resonant catchphrase of the Bush administration for the past four years, is to be discreetly phased out in favour of more nuanced language, officials signalled yesterday.

Is it? And what do they prefer?

Officials are instead starting to favour the rather less snappy phrase "struggle against violent extremism" as the administration puts increased stress on longer term initiatives - diplomatic, economic and educational - to defeat terrorism.

From the GWOT to the SAVE? It stinks. And the wording is suspect, because "nuanced" is the favorite word of the Left, along with "complex." Normally, I don't see the Telegraph as a Left-wing mouthpiece--that's usually The Guardian's bailiwick. But I'm having trouble believing that this could be right.

Given that the terrorists have a stated goal of turning the entire world into an Extreme-Islam-controlled caliphate with all non-Muslims either under the Islamist thumb or dead, it can hardly be productive to downgrade our fight from a War to a mere struggle. Why doesn't the White House go all the way and call it a "nuisance" รก la John Kerry?

I had thought the Bush Administration understood the stakes, but if they're headed for "struggle," then we're headed for trouble.

Maybe I should start saving up my money to pay for that special tax and a burkha...


Excellent post at Froggy Ruminations (here) on this topic. He takes apart a column (here) by Permanently Clueless Bill Johnson, who actually thinks Osama bin Laden cares what happens to our rights and liberties. One of Froggy's responses to Johnson: "Seeing as [OBL's] goal is to install a worldwide Islamic caliphate and to impose sharia law on the entire planet, I’d say he feels like there is still some work to be done."

Captain's Quarters has good analysis (here) of a paradigm shift happening in Egypt since the most recent terror attack there--one with encouraging results: "Osama and Ayman al-Zawahiri have miscalculated, at least in Egypt; their efforts have created Muslim moderates, not radicals."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Jacques Tati

So I'm standing there in the break room at work, and another woman is there too. Actually, she's the one I posted about a long time ago (link here) whose restroom behavior is so odd.

We're both working around each other. I'm making a cup of tea, and she's making an instant soup or beverage of some sort from a package that has Chinese writing on it. And we're standing there, each doing our own thing. I hear the stir-stick in her cup going, swish, swish, swish.... Then I smack the pink fake-sugar packet against my thumb a few times, and it goes, flappy, flappy, rip.

Her swish, swish keeps going, then I rustle the stir sticks and start my own swish, swish, and it hits me as I'm standing there that we've been transported into a Jacques Tati movie.

His movies, especially Playtime, are light on dialogue (non-existent on plot) and heavily focused on sound. You hear the tapping of shoes coming down marble floors, the ringing of elevator bells as they arrive, the honking of cars, the snap of a newspaper opening. Nothing really happens in the movie. You just watch people do everyday things and listen to the sound of the mundane. It's pointless.

And there I am in the break room, making my fourth cup of tea as a reward for finishing a task in my endless supply of tasks that I do at work. It's mundane. And it's pointless. My worklife is a Jacques Tati movie of sound without dialogue. The tapping of the keyboard. The slapping of file folders onto my desk. The thook sound that Microsoft Outlook makes when I get email. The ripping sound of the admin opening a new box of supplies she ordered.

I know what it is: My office-mate is on vacation. She's on an inner tube, floating on a lake with her extended family, and I'm here in an office that I didn't know got this quiet.

Hugh comes on soon, and he'll be talking. I sure hope that helps.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Thinking People's Reactions to John Roberts

Hugh Hewitt, in his Weekly Standard column of 07/21/2005, points out an otherwise-neglected fact about John Roberts. He brings to the Supreme Court an understanding of Article II constitutional law that none of the other justices has.

Almost every Supreme Court justice arrives at SCOTUS well versed in his or her Article III duties and rights, and most have a great deal of experience with the Article I powers of the Congress, since most cases and controversies that come before federal judges connect at some point with Congressional enactments.

But only lawyers with vast executive branch experience really appreciate Article II and the role of the executive, and few are as well versed in the powers of the presidency--and its limits--as veterans of the West Wing lawyers' club.

For four tumultuous years of the Reagan presidency, Judge Roberts was close at hand as Ronald Reagan navigated the course of the country's recovery from economic crisis and the Vietnam Syndrome. This was the era of the deployment of the cruise missiles and Pershing IIs in Europe, of Grenada and the massacre of Marines in Lebanon, of the "Evil Empire" speech. Roberts observed and participated in one of the critical passages of American history, a period in which "energy in the executive," to use Hamilton's phrase from Federalist 70 helped the nation recover from the disastrous decade of the '70s.

This experience, and of course Roberts's years as deputy solicitor general, will equip the new justice more than most of his predecessors with an ear for arguments about the need for presidential power in areas where that power is crucial, as in the GWOT.

Excellent point, and one that bears serious consideration by the senators who speak about wanting "balance" on the Supreme Court.

Then there's David Cohen's post at Brothers Judd blog, in which he answers Sen. Schumer's list of questions for John Roberts. A bit of background before reading the post: During John Roberts' judicial hearings in 2003 for his current position on the DC Circuit Court, Sen. Orrin Hatch categorized Sen. Schumer's questions as "dumba**" (link here). David Cohen's abbreviations, "daq" or "sdaq" refer to Schumer's dumba** questions.

Cohen obviously put a lot of thought into the answers he'd like to see Roberts give, such as these samples:

Q: When can Government regulate public speech by individuals?

A: The federal government can't, except arguably public speech by Senators and Members of the House. The states may, consistent with their own constitutions.

Q: Must the Government avoid involvement with religion as a whole, or is the prohibition just on Government involvement with any specific religion?

A: There is no prohibition on government "involvement" with religion, or any specific religion. However, the federal government is not a government of general powers that may act unless it is prohibited. It is a government of limited powers that may not act unless it is permitted. [NB: Even if I drop the pretense that I don't know what he's talking about, I don't know what he's talking about here. This is a spectacular example of, in Orrin Hatch's phrase, Schumer's "dumb ass" questions.]

Q: What is your view of the Supreme Court's opinion in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000), which held that prayer in public schools is prohibited even where it is student-organized, non-denominational, and at a football game?

A: What part of "Congress" is hard to understand?

Whole Wheat and Penguins

I baked rolls again this weekend (link to last post on bread-baking here), since I ran out of them Friday. It was hot in my house (no air-conditioning) and humid for Southern California (though the hardy souls on the East Coast no doubt think we're Humidity Wussies the way we complain about what feels positively DRY to them). But my budget needs me to have a steady supply of rolls for making sandwiches to take to work for lunch, so I had to bake in the heat.

Before last month, I bought lunch at one of the sandwich/cafe places near work, but that was costing me $5 - $6+ a day at best, which adds up fast. Now, when I spend the time in the morning to throw together a lunch, I feel great joy thinking of the money I save and the way the rolls are South Beach Diet "approved." Normally, I hate taking a minute more to get ready for work than I have to (I'd rather be sleeping), but this is worth it.

Sunday, the Girls (old enough to have grown children) went out for our mostly regular lunch and movie. This week it was "March of the Penguins." We decided that since it looked like a Discovery Channel program, it might not stay in the theaters very long, so we'd better see it right away and save "The Island" for next week.

The Penguin movie was a National Geographic production and indeed had the feel of a show that, in the olden days, would have been a PBS special but now is on the Discovery Channel. If you like that kind of show, then I wholeheartedly recommend it. The baby penguins are SO CUTE!!! And Morgan Freeman's narration has that comforting quality that not all voices can achieve. The photography was spectacular, showing the sweep of Antarctica's icy landscape as well as closeups of penguins and their interactions that are hard to believe were possible to get with wild animals. An added treat was staying to watch the credits, because they showed some of the photographers and how they were able to get the unbelievable shots.

If you'd rather be drawn and quartered than watch some stupid lame-o nature show, then by all means avoid this movie like the plague. Go see The Devil's Rejects or The Island or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (OK, you probably wouldn't see Charlie, either).

Thursday, July 21, 2005

More Reactions to the Roberts Nomination

It's getting fun watching the various reactions to the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. As I mentioned yesterday (here), the AP published reaction quotes (here) to President Bush's choice for O'Connor's seat on the Court.

Here's what some of the Democrat Senators said:

"I look forward to the Committee's findings so that I can make an informed decision about whether Judge Roberts is truly a guardian of the rule of law who puts fairness and justice before ideology." — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

Oh, of course Hillary wouldn't want a Supreme Court Justice to focus on ideology. Not if it's a different ideology than hers.

"The burden is on a nominee to the Supreme Court to prove that he is worthy, not on the Senate to prove he is unworthy." — Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Kind of like the way the accused has to prove he's innocent in court.

"Without prejudging the nominee, I do believe Judge Roberts' record raises questions about his commitment to the right to privacy, protection of the environment and other important issues." — Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

"The president had an opportunity to unite the country with his Supreme Court nomination, to nominate an individual in the image of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Instead, by putting forward John Roberts' name, President Bush has chosen a more controversial nominee and guaranteed a more controversial confirmation process." — Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

You can't unite the country when there are senators like Boxer and Durbin who can't wait to divide it.

And from Republican Senators:

"He's the kind of judge that all of us want — someone committed to applying the law impartially rather than legislating from the bench." — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

"I can't help but think that he will continue to impress as a person of fairness, thoughtfulness and just the kind of judge who will bring a nonpolitical approach to judging. ... I think he's going to be well received." — Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

"I'm hopeful that in the coming weeks we can avoid vicious character assassinations and attacks in this confirmation process." — Sen. George Allen, R-Va.

Fat chance. It's already started.

Finally, Nihilist In Golf Pants has this post on the top 11 reasons John Roberts is outside the mainstream (HT: Chad the Elder at FratersLibertas). A must-read.

London Mayor Livingstone Blames the West

After such a great statement following the July 7 terrorist attacks in London, London's mayor Ken Livingstone has reverted to his normal socialist condition. In an interview with the BBC (link here), Livingstone placed the blame for the terrorists squarely on the shoulders of the West.

He replied: "I think you've just had 80 years of western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the western need for oil.

"We've propped up unsavoury governments, we've overthrown ones we didn't consider sympathetic.

"And I think the particular problem we have at the moment is that in the 1980s... the Americans recruited and trained Osama Bin Laden, taught him how to kill, to make bombs, and set him off to kill the Russians and drive them out of Afghanistan.

"They didn't give any thought to the fact that once he'd done that he might turn on his creators."

I'm speechless. Almost. What lunacy!

When my grandfather joined the army, they taught him to kill and sent him off to kill Germans during World War I. The US didn't give any thought to the fact that once he'd done that he might turn on his creators.

Lucky for my grandmother and all their neighbors, he didn't turn on them or his country. Neither did the rest of the WWI generation of soldiers. Or the WWII generation, or the Korean War generation, or the Vietnam or the Gulf War or any of the other War/Conflict generations we've had.

It's not training that makes a terrorist. It's the evil desires of the heart, combined with resources and opportunity. With Osama, the assessment of opportunity included a perception of exploitable weakness in the West. Osama bin Laden and his supporters are to blame for the al-Qaeda terrorism. His victims are not.

Using Livingstone's logic, Britain and the US are to be blamed for Stalin's mass-murder of millions in the Soviet Union. After all, we allied ourselves with him to fight the bigger menace of Nazism. And, having once allied with Stalin, then aren't we also culpable of all the evil that Stalin did after our alliance?

Obviously, Livingstone's 07/07 statement was one of those freaks of nature that can't be explained by any rational means. He should rest on his laurels from that one speech and just keep his mouth shut from now on.

Global War on What?

When I got in my car this morning, the news was on the radio. The local news guy was in the middle of reporting on today's "incidents" in London, when he had a slip of the tongue and said "... in the Global War on Terrier."

Naturally, I paid attention, because my little dog, Abby, is a Yorkie!!!

This explains so much. Evidently, Abby developed a heart condition as her war strategy. This necessitated my buying medication for her that she uses as a weapon against me. Oh, the insidiousness of her scheming that she would have me purchase the very weapons that I would suffer from.

The medication that her ally, the veterinarian, foisted upon me is a diuretic, which employs Abby's most effective ammunition.

She performs hit-and-run attacks when she pees on the carpet, leaving me or my daughter to be caught by surprise. At other times, she employs suicide attacks--usually while feigning sleep--by peeing on herself while she's lying on the floor. These attacks require that I stop what I'm doing and give her a bath. Most of the suicide attacks are during the night, so they affect my livelihood by making me late for work.

Let the terrier owner beware: There's a war on. And it ain't pretty.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Impressive Article on Harry Potter

Disclaimer: I've read the first two Harry Potter books (1 and 2), started the third and never finished it. Who has time to sit down and read, when you have to work late all the time?

A while ago, my kids had me watch all the Harry Potter movies (1, 2, and 3) after the most recent one came out on DVD.

My kids, though, have read all the books, and Saturday (no, not Friday at midnight) my daughter went down to Barnes & Noble and picked up the latest. "One of the main characters gets killed," she said to me, nearly in a whisper, after she got home. But she didn't know which one yet.

USA Today yesterday had an article, by Carol Memmott (link here), about Harry Potter fans who are suffering grief over the loss of the character who dies in the newest book. What impresses me is how careful Memmott is to conceal the name of the ill-fated character.

Quotes like these have substituted the character's name, so the USA Today article doesn't become one of those awful spoilers that true fans detest:

"I thought (the character) would survive until the seventh and die in the seventh," says Kaitlin Bennett, 13, of Houston. "I'm sure J.K. Rowling had a good reason — and that's going to be a major part of the seventh book."

"(The character) is killed so Harry can fulfill his destiny," says Sean Donovan, 18, of Seal Beach, Calif.

[Melissa Anelli, of, a popular Potter fan Web site], who had an as-yet-unpublished interview with Rowling in Edinburgh over the weekend, says Rowling told her that "the demands of the story and the demands of Harry's hero arc are such that this character needs to be out of the picture."

Good for Carol Memmott and USA Today for preserving the suspense. It allows the book to take its natural course for the readers who have loved Harry Potter's story enough to stay with the series this long. They deserve to have the story unfold in its own time.

"I cried my eyes out when (the character) died," says Chelsea Guy, 13, of Knoxville, Tenn. "There may be a hundred reasons behind it. I just wish it hadn't happened."

Reactions to the Roberts Nomination

The AP has a list of quotes made by people on both the right and the left in reaction to the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court (HT: via WorldNetDaily). They start the list with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, followed next by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

"The president has chosen someone with suitable legal credentials, but that is not the end of our inquiry. The Senate must review Judge Roberts' record to determine if he has a demonstrated commitment to the core American values of freedom, equality and fairness." — Senate minority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"Judge Roberts is the kind of outstanding nominee that will make America proud. He embodies the qualities America expects in a justice on its highest court: someone who is fair, intelligent, impartial and committed to faithfully interpreting the Constitution and the law." — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

What a difference. The Democrats' leader doesn't seem to care about the Constitution, the rule of law, or impartiality. He cares about "freedom, equality, and fairness," words that make me wonder exactly what he means by them. By "equality" (which, by the way, is one of France's stated ideals, not one of ours), does he mean making everyone the same? Would that include keeping people from excelling, so the average person doesn't get any feelings hurt? Would that include redistribution of wealth? I'm not sure I want a Supreme Court Justice who is devoted to equality more than to the Constitution.

From the Lefty groups:

"We are extremely disappointed that President Bush has chosen such a divisive nominee for the highest court in the nation, rather than a consensus nominee who would protect individual liberty and uphold Roe v. Wade." — NARAL Pro-Choice America.

"John Roberts' record raises serious concerns as well as questions about where he stands on crucial legal and constitutional issues. Replacing O'Connor with someone who is not committed to upholding Americans' rights, liberties and legal protections would be a constitutional catastrophe." — Ralph Neas, president of the liberal People for the American Way.

I get so tired of the Left saying (in different words, of course), "If you don't do what we want you to do, you're being divisive."

What makes them think Roberts is out to destroy "individual liberty" and to strike down "Americans' rights, liberties and legal protections?"

I listened to Hugh's extended radio show last night and heard him discuss a case that Roberts wrote an opinion (Sorry I don't have the details right--I'm operating from memory after a night's sleep) on a case in which a 12-year-old girl was arrested for having a french fry on public transit. The law apparently was well-intentioned, requiring minors to be arrested and held for their parents to pick them up, rather than dumping misbehaved youths out on the streets to face who-knows-what danger. Hugh summarized Roberts' analysis of the case as, basically, "Yes, the law is stupid, but it doesn't violate the constitution." Roberts did not nullify the law, even though he personally didn't agree with it. He tested the law against the constitution, which is what we want our judges to do. The publicity over the case caused the city where the arrest occurred to rethink and eventually to change the law.

Lefty activist judges would say, "This law is stupid and I don't like it, so I declare it unconstitutional and strike it down." This approach takes the legislative process away from the people. Leaving the process with the people, as Roberts did, is the right approach.

From Righty groups:

"Senate Democrats, especially those seeking re-election next year, should know that we will be watching them carefully. If they again attempt to attack a nominee's faith or pro-life convictions, their constituents will know about it and they will be held accountable." — Father Frank Pavone, national director, Priests for Life.

"Liberal pressure groups will insist that Senate Democrats filibuster against Judge Roberts, unless he pledges in advance to vote against allowing elected legislators to place meaningful limits on abortion." — Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee.

"There were a lot of unknowns about Justice Souter. He really was almost a blank slate. It's not the same with Judge Roberts. He has clearly enunciated his view of his judicial philosophy." — Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council.

I hope this last statement will help Ann Coulter cool her heels over the nomination of Roberts. She's concerned (link here) that Roberts is a blank slate like Souter was and will become the next Souter on the Court, rather than the next Scalia.

More statements from other Senators in another post...


Hugh gives a more thorough explanation of the "French Fry Case," a case that will be thrown around in the John Roberts debates until confirmation is completed. Here's the link.

John Roberts Nomination

So many people talking--so little time! Where to start?

First, Hugh Hewitt has a link (here) to "The Jorgensen article," which was written by Jay T. Jorgensen. The title is, "PRECEDENT FROM THE CONFIRMATION HEARINGS OF RUTH BADER GINSBURG FOR THE CONDUCT OF JUDICIAL NOMINEES."

The salient point that I take from this article is Jorgensen's description of Sen. Biden's comments to the Senate on how, as the Judiciary Chairman, he intended to conduct the Committee hearing on 1993-nominee, Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Senator Joseph Biden was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Justice Ginsburg was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1993. On July 15, 1993, shortly after Justice Ginsburg’s nomination became known to the Senate, Senator Biden identified the standards he expected senators and judicial nominees to follow in the confirmation process. Importantly, Senator Biden noted that the Senate’s hearings, including the question-and-answer period between senators and the nominee, should not be a "dramatic spectacle" or a "trial." Senator Biden also emphasized that the nominee’s appearance before the Senate should not be invested with a make-or-break importance, as the Senate’s hearings are only one part of the confirmation process (particularly in instances when nominees have a long-standing public record that illustrates their qualifications and views).

In contrast to the recent idea that a nominee’s appearance and answers before the Senate are an essential part of the confirmation process, Senator Biden noted that the practice of inviting Supreme Court nominees to appear before the Senate is relatively novel. Senator Biden said:

[I]t is useful to recall that testimony before the Judicial Committee by Supreme Court nominees is a new phenomenon.

Appearance before the committee became a standard part of the confirmation process only in the year 1955, with John Marshall Harlan. No Supreme Court nominee testified personally until 1925, when Attorney General Harlan Fisk Stone responded to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in the investigation of a Senator.

The next five nominees did not testify at all, and it was not until 1938 that Stanley Reed appeared. The next year, Felix Frankfurter testified, but William O. Douglas waited outside the committee hearing room without ever being called in as a witness. And in 1949, Sherman Minton was called to testify at the hearing on his nomination to the Court. He refused to appear on the grounds that his record as a Senator and as appellate judge spoke for itself. He refused to come. He was called before the committee in 1949. He refused to come and he was confirmed by the Senate.2

Senator Biden’s comments are important because they demonstrate that the current gladiatorial process of attacking a nominee before the television cameras is not a deeply rooted part of American history and tradition. Additionally, whatever reticence current nominees may show in participating in the Senate’s hearings, that reluctance will likely not be as significant as Justice Minton’s outright refusal to appear when called.

Senator Biden also commented on the extent to which Supreme Court nominees should answer questions about their potential future rulings. Senator Biden said "the public is best served by questions that initiate a dialog with the nominee, not about how she will decide any specific case that may come before her, but about the spirit and the method she will bring to the task of judging. There is a real difference … between questions that focus on specific results or outcomes, the answers to which would risk compromising a nominee’s independence and impartiality, and questions on judicial methods and philosophy. The former can undermine the dispassionate and unprejudiced judgment we expect the nominee to exercise as a Justice. But the latter are essential and contribute critically to our public dialog."3

Senator Biden’s comments should be helpful to current senators and nominees as they reflect the considered judgment of a Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and explain the standards he used for conducting hearings on a Democratic nomination.

Let the Jorgensen article become the Democrat Double-Standard Alert (DDSA) as we move into the hearings phase of the confirmation process. Current Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter would be well-advised to repeat Senator Biden's instructions as he begins the hearings. If you're so inclined, here is the contact page for Senator Specter.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

John Roberts is the Nominee

If Hugh is happy, then I'm happy.

President Bush has nominated DC District Court Judge John Roberts (bio here) to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Here's Hugh's post on John Roberts, who Hugh worked with in 1985 & '86.

Now the fun starts!

What Not To Wear

I get cable TV at home, but I never remember what channel has what network on it and what shows are on which networks. All I can remember is the Fox News Channel and TLC. Fox News is my default, but when they head off into Michael Jackson Land (yes, I know that's over, but you get my point) or Aruba, then I switch to TLC and see what's on over there until Fox has time to finish up with Aruba.

That's how I found What Not To Wear. Actually, I think it was Scott Peterson who drove me over there. Definitely not Aruba. Aruba is what keeps me going back.

Having watched What Not To Wear for some time, I've started learning some of the tips for myself. I gave away all the boxy-looking jackets I had and picked up a few new jackets with shape when they were on clearance. When I gained some weight and got too fat for my jeans (tapered leg: BAD!), I bought a couple pairs of boot-cut jeans (they balance out the wide hips of my pear shape). And I turned on a couple friends to the show.

Over the weekend, some of us girls got together at the bookstore and looked through the fashion books on the WNTW theme. They've got books that go through the different body shapes and tell women how best to hide the parts they want to hide and play up the parts they want to show. Important things like: if you've got cellulite-butt, NEVER wear thong panties, and if you have a saggy bosom, wear a shelf-bra so you're not hanging down around your waist.

Next (we haven't set a date yet) comes the visit to the department stores to try on a bunch of stuff and see what looks good. We may take one "victim" at a time, so we can concentrate. We're probably going to do some wardrobe triage and start with the most desperate case first.

I can see this branching off into new areas, though. There are women's ministries at my church, and this whole wardrobe training might be a good idea for one of their Saturday events. We could have drawings of the general shapes in the thin, regular and fat varieties, and talk about how to dress for each one. And we can hope that the woman who wears the short miniskirts with the tight, plunging neckline comes and learns that at 40, she's too old for that and she could look really classy with a few changes in her outfits. And we can hope the tall, slender woman who dresses in sack-like sweaters over sack-like skirts comes and learns how to look fabulous.

Maybe, it could even develop into a side business of fashion/image consulting.

But, no. I'm trying to become a tour director. Best if I concentrate on that, but wear the right clothes in the process.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Shifting the Plame

The Washington press corps is nuts for Valerie Plame. The blame for her name is giving them a shot at deposing Karl Rove. And if the Left can get Karl Rove, "The Architect," out of the Bush administration before the 2006 elections, then they see hope that the Democrats can recapture more Senate seats, which would solidify their judicial filibusters. Politics is everything to the Left, after all.

But "if" is a big word.

First, there has to have been a crime. Second, Karl Rove has to have committed it. And third, the Grand Jury investigation has to say so.

Which brings us to Mark Steyn, who comments on these very issues in his Chicago Sun-Times column of July 17, 2005 (link here). He is always good for a much-needed, blunt reality check.

Karl Rove? Please. I couldn't care less. This week finds me thousands of miles from the Beltway in what I believe the ABC World News Tonight map designates as the Rest Of The Planet, an obscure beat the media can't seem to spare a correspondent for. But even if I was with the rest of the navel-gazers inside the Beltway I wouldn't be interested in who ''leaked'' the name of CIA employee Valerie Plame to the press. As her weirdly self-obsesssed husband Joseph C. Wilson IV conceded on CNN the other day, she wasn't a ''clandestine officer'' and, indeed, hadn't been one for six years. So one can only ''leak'' her name in the sense that one can ''leak'' the name of the checkout clerk at Home Depot.

What we have here is, in effect, the old standby plot of lame Hollywood conspiracy thrillers: rogue elements within the CIA attempting to destabilize the elected government. If the left's view of the world is now so insanely upside-down that that's the side they want to be on, good for them. But ''leaking'' the name of Wilson's wife and promoter within the CIA didn't ''endanger her life'' or ''compromise her mission.'' Au contraire, exposing the nature of this fraudulent, compromised mission might conceivably prevent the American people having their lives endangered.

The British suicide bombers and the Iranian nuke demands are genuine crises. The Valerie Plame game is a pseudo-crisis. If you want to talk about Niger or CIA reform, fine. But if you seriously think the only important aspect of a politically motivated narcissist kook's drive-thru intelligence mission to a critical part of the world is the precise sequence of events by which some White House guy came to mention the kook's wife to some reporter, then you've departed the real world and you're frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.

What's this really about? It's not difficult. A big chunk of the American elites have decided there is no war; it's all a racket got up by Bush and Cheney. And, even if there is a war somewhere or other, wherever it is, it's not where Bush says it is. Iraq is a ''distraction'' from Afghanistan -- and, if there were no Iraq, Afghanistan would be a distraction from Niger, and Niger's a distraction from Valerie Plame's next photo shoot for Vanity Fair.

The police have found the suicide bomber's head in the rubble of the London bus, and Iran is enriching uranium. The only distraction here is the pitiful parochialism of our political culture.

The ACLU is Miffed

According to Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times (HT: AOL News), the ACLU is alarmed by the existence of FBI files on that organization.

The F.B.I. has in its files 1,173 pages of internal documents on the American Civil Liberties Union, the leading critic of the Bush administration's antiterrorism policies, and 2,383 pages on Greenpeace, an environmental group that has led acts of civil disobedience in protest over the administration's policies, the Justice Department disclosed in a court filing this month in a federal court in Washington.

F.B.I. and Justice Department officials declined to say what was in the A.C.L.U. and Greenpeace files, citing the pending lawsuit. But they stressed that as a matter of both policy and practice, they have not sought to monitor the political activities of any activist groups and that any intelligence-gathering activities related to political protests are intended to prevent disruptive and criminal activity at demonstrations, not to quell free speech. They said there might be an innocuous explanation for the large volume of files on the A.C.L.U. and Greenpeace, like preserving requests from or complaints about the groups in agency files.

Naturally, though, the ACLU's assumption is that the the Bush administration has enlisted the FBI in a vendetta against the ACLU.

"I'm still somewhat shocked by the size of the file on us," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the A.C.L.U. "Why would the F.B.I. collect almost 1,200 pages on a civil rights organization engaged in lawful activity? What justification could there be, other than political surveillance of lawful First Amendment activities?"

Indeed. What justification could there be? And what precedent is the ACLU basing its concerns on? Might it be the alleged use of the IRS by the Clinton administration as a political weapon against Clinton's perceived enemies?

Here is an excerpt from a typical 1998 commentary by Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily (link here):

We have now identified about two dozen non-profit organizations considered "unfriendly" to the Clinton administration that have been subjected to audits during the Clinton years. They include the American Spectator, one of the three news organizations cited in the 331-page report, the National Review, the Heritage Foundation, the National Rifle Association, Concerned Women of America and Citizens Against Government Waste. Not a single high-profile "friendly" non-profit has been found to have been audited during this same time period. Coincidence? That's what the administration would have the American people believe.

It would also have us believe that the audit of Paula Jones was the result of a statistical anomaly. Likewise Billy Dale, the former Travel Office director unceremoniously fired by Hillary Clinton. In his case, too, there is a paper trail to indicate the audit began in the White House Counsel's Office. According to congressional investigators, former Associate Counsel William Kennedy told the FBI to launch an investigation into Dale and his office or he would be forced to turn to other agencies such as the IRS. A week later, Dale was served with his audit papers.

Perhaps the ACLU sees itself as an enemy of the Bush administration and therefore assumes that the FBI or the IRS would be the Bush weapon-of-choice against them.

Personally, I'm inclined to believe that the ACLU is suffering from hypocritical paranoia. I believe there's a big file on them, but I don't see the sinister ulterior motives that they see. But if the FBI file makes the ACLU worried, then that suits me just fine.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Remember Pearl Harbor! has this AP report, by H. Josef Herbert, this morning. It begins:

WASHINGTON -- The country's nuclear weapons plants and sensitive material such as plutonium should be consolidated at a single site to increase security and reduce targets for terrorists, a federal advisory task force says.

[The task force's report] recommended consolidating the most critical parts of the weapons complex, now spread across eight facilities, into a single site with "cutting edge nuclear component production, manufacturing and assembly technologies."

This distribution, once considered a security advantage, now "increases the number of potential terrorist targets within this country, exposing the (weapons) complex and the surrounding civilian population to risk," according to the report.

It noted that when the weapons complex was designed, most of the sites were remote and relatively easy to secure. Today, residential and or commercial communities border most of them.

Who are these people on this task force? Terrorism is not our only potential threat. The problem of having residential and commercial communities bordering on the current facilities can be solved by moving the facilities to more remote sites and preventing community encroachment. Above all, we should not put all our eggs into just one basket.

Today's news also brought this comment from China (full story here):

A Chinese military official says Beijing will use nuclear weapons against the U.S. if the Americans attack the Asian nation in a fight over Taiwan.

So, if we follow the task force's recommendation we'd put all the nuclear production and materials in one remote location, likely in either Nevada or New Mexico. Then, when China's sabre-rattling progresses to actually drawing their weapons over Taiwan, they'll only need one precision missile to obliterate our nuclear capability. Game. Set. Possibly match.

Is anybody in the Bush Administration actually thinking beyond the threat currently in the limelight? Condoleeza Rice is supposed to have a brilliant mind for this kind of threat assessment. I hope she's not too busy as Secretary of State to be still advising the President.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What Do the Terrorists Want?

"What do the terrorists want?" is the title of Larry Elder's commentary today in WorldNetDaily. And he answers it very clearly. But not before quoting that esteemed genius, full of the greatest depth of understanding:

"... There is no terrorist threat. There is no terrorist threat."

– Filmmaker Michael Moore, Sept. 26, 2003.

"Tell that to London," Elder says.

Here's some of the background Elder gives, quoting the Islamofascist leaders themselves:

Osama bin Laden, in 1998, issued the following "fatwa," or religious edict: "... The killing of Americans and their civilian and military allies is a religious duty for each and every Muslim to be carried out in whichever country they are until Al Aqsa mosque has been liberated from their grasp and until their armies have left Muslim lands [emphasis added]." So, Islamic fascists demand that "infidels" leave "Muslim lands." But define "Muslim lands." Arabs, after all, dominated Europe from the 8th century until A.D. 1492, occupying lands as far west as Spain and modern-day France.

"One day the black flag of Islam will be flying over Downing Street," said Anjem Choudray, a spokesperson for Al-Muhajiroun ("the immigrants"), described by the Jerusalem Post's Ori Golan as a radical Islamic organization based in Britain. In calling for jihad, Choudray says, "Lands will not be liberated by individuals, but by an army. Eventually there'll have to be a Muslim army. It's just a matter of time before it happens."

The Wall Street Journal's reporters Ian Johnson and John Carreyrou recently pointed out that Muslim extremists define Arab lands to include Europe. "Fatwas," they write, "are traditionally only valid in the Islamic world, so [Ayatollah] Khomeini's [1989] fatwa implied something profound: Europe was part of the Islamic world [emphasis added]. It was a revolutionary change that now is accepted by many Islamic theologians and thinkers."

And how much longer will it be before these Islamist leaders declare America to be Muslim land by virtue of the presence of Muslims in our country? I'd be surprised if it hasn't already happened--at least in the Arabic-language press.

But al-Qaeda isn't the only threat on the terrorist landscape. There's Iran to contend with as well. Jerome Corsi, author of Atomic Iran, keeps his focus on what Iran's mullahs are up to. In his commentary today in WorldNetDaily, Corsi describes the political conditions in that country:

Hezbollah was created by the Iranian mullahs who continue to be the leading exporters of terrorism worldwide. As we demonstrated in "Atomic Iran," the mullahs have already declared war against the United States and Israel. With the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran has signaled a clear move in a more radical direction. Now the mullahs are also giving off signals that they intend to change their nuclear negotiating team and are once again considering the resumption of uranium enrichment.

Sooner or later, the world will have to realize that Iran remains at the center of funding and promoting terrorism. With over $200 million a day in windfall oil profits, the mullahs are enriching themselves at the expense of the Iranian people. With this much free cash, the mullahs can buy public-relations firms all around the world to advise them how to appear peaceful to the world.

With the mullahs in power, we should all feel insecure. Lying is nothing new to the mullahs – neither is supporting terrorism worldwide.

The answer to the title question is clear. The terrorists want all of us either converted to their brand of Islam, or they want us dead. Everyone. Everywhere. When their radical Islamism is the governing force in every country of the world, then they'll be satisfied. And maybe not even then. Infighting could start after that.

So our response to terrorism must be equally clear. President Bush had it right when he spoke before Congress in October of 2001. "Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." By "defeated," I prefer the method of defeat that ends in the terrorists' death. The terrorists won't settle for anything less.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Danish Pizza Man Jailed

Remember the Pizzeria owner on Faroe island in Denmark? The one who refused to serve either French or German people, as a protest to those countries' opposition to the war in Iraq.

He's in jail now. And he's holding fast to his principles.

Here's the background, courtesy of BBC News, July 12, 2005:

In February 2003 he had put up signs at his pizzeria with bars through the images of people coloured in the French and German flags.

He also reprinted his menus without German translations.

The 46-year-old was forced to sell his pizzeria on the western island of Fanoe after repeated vandalism and a plunge in sales.

In June 2003 a Danish court convicted of him of racial discrimination.

But he refused to pay the fine imposed as a result of that conviction.

Aage Bjerre acted in protest against the French and German governments' opposition to the US-led war in Iraq.

He will now serve an eight-day sentence at a minimum security prison, the Associated Press reports.

"I'm doing it to show my sympathy with the United States," he said. He refused to pay a 5,000-kroner (£461;$800) fine.

I love it when non-Americans, especially Europeans, get what we're doing in the world. Since the first day I heard about Bjerre's refusal to serve Germans in his pizzeria, I've admired him. That admiration still stands.

More Science News

Curry and Skin Cancer:

This article, in Monday's Yahoo News, describes the research into the cancer-fighting properties of one of the ingredients in curry: curcumin, a component of the spice, tumeric. The researchers found that curcumin interfered with melanoma cells and "helped stop the spread of breast cancer tumor cells to the lungs of mice."

"The curcumin suppressed two proteins that tumor cells use to keep themselves immortal, the researchers write in next month's issue of the journal Cancer."

The last statement in the article seems a little contradictory, though: "Aggarwal said people who eat plenty of turmeric have lower rates of some cancers, although the spice itself has not been shown to reduce cancer risk in people." Hmmm. Not sure how that works.

Human-Monkey Brains:

This is just creepy. It's from Monday's, an Australian news source.

"SCIENTISTS have been warned that their latest experiments may accidently produce monkeys with brains more human than animal.

"In cutting-edge experiments, scientists have injected human brain cells into monkey fetuses to study the effects."

Unfortunately, the article is lacking essential details. It doesn't say which scientists are doing the human-monkey experiments. It references a committee of scientists looking into the ethics of this kind of experiment, but never names the committee or gives a location. The only detail given is to name the committee co-chairperson, "Dr Ruth Faden, a professor in biomedical ethics." (The link to her bio was added by me.)

Here is what the committee is doing: "An eminent committee of American scientists will call for restrictions into the research, saying the outcome of such studies cannot be predicted and may in fact produce subjects with a 'super-animal' intelligence."

I agree with whatever committee this is. Human-monkey brain research is bad science.

And this article is even worse science reporting.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Framing the Supreme Court Nominee Debate

Excellent post by Patrick Ruffini (HT: The Corner on National Review Online) on how the debate over the President's upcoming Supreme Court Nominee(s) will likely be framed. The Democrats have already begun in their typical style of horrified doomsday predictions: Back alley abortions! Rogue police!! The return of segregation!!!

The Republicans, meanwhile, talk about Supreme Court issues that really resonate with the regular folks: Faithful interpretation of the constitution. Judicial activism. The judge's qualifications. Yawn....

Ruffini spells out that Republicans had better learn what works, if they want to get public opinion on their side and start the pressure on the Senators to confirm the President's nominee(s). Republicans need to show the outcome of sending "moderate" or "compromise" nominees to the Court. Here's what he recommends:

What kind of America do Democrats want by opposing President Bush's judicial nominee? The kind that the judges they prefer are trying to make for us:
  • An America where your children can't pledge allegiance to the United States of America, Under God (Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow)
  • An America where gay marriage is imposed by judicial fiat (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health), and if the people of your state say no, they are silenced (Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning)
  • An America where wealthy developers can take away your home (Kelo v. City of New London)
  • A Banana Republic where elections can be manipulated after the fact to produce the desired outcome (Bush v. Gore; the Dino Rossi litigation)
  • An America where the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are more likely to be set free, possibly to conduct further attacks.

How do we "strict constructionists" frame our "agenda?" As an anti-agenda. As one that opposes the imposition of any particular worldview through the Courts. As a simple sentiment, animated by faith in the body politic, and borne of 229 years of democracy in America:

Let the people decide.

Indeed. What's important to the American people is not whether 200 years of precedent is or is not followed in the Senate during the confirmation process. What's important is the kind of America the Supreme Court will make for us as a result of the President's choices.

I pray that President Bush will keep his campaign promise to nominate people in the mold of Thomas and Scalia, and I pray that the American people will hold the Senate Democrats' feet to the fire until those nominees are confirmed.

A Tiny Bit of Fun

It's called Crash Bonsai (HT: The Corner on National Review Online).

Tiny trees. Tiny cars. The inevitable.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Steyn & Hanson on the Global War on Terror

Two excellent columns today, each addressing a different part of the GWOT.

First, Mark Steyn (column link here). This is from yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times and addresses last week's attacks in London.

Thursday, al-Qaida hit three London Underground trains and one bus. Had they broadened their attentions from the Central Zone, had they attempted to blow up 30 trains across the furthest reaches of the Tube map, from Uxbridge to Upminster, who can doubt that they too would have been successful? In other words, the scale of the carnage was constrained only by the murderers' ambition and their manpower.

He's absolutely right. The terrorists will inflict as much destruction as they can. If the damage is lessened, it's not for lack of desire, only lack of resources and imagination.

The choice for Britons now is whether they wish to be Australians post-Bali or Spaniards post-Madrid. That shouldn't be a tough call. But it's easy to stand before a news camera and sonorously declare that "the British people will never surrender to terrorism.'' In reality, unless it's clear a threat is primal, most democratic peoples and their political leaders prefer to regard bad news as a peripheral nuisance which can be negotiated away to the fringe of their concerns.

His assessment isn't limited to the British. All of the pre-7/7 pontifications coming from the left side of the Senate aisle were based in the "peripheral nuisance" mindset.

This is the beginning of a long existential struggle. It's hard not to be moved by the sight of Londoners calmly going about their business as usual in the face of terrorism. But, if the political class goes about business as usual, that's not a stiff upper lip but a suicide cult. The question now is will the British return to the fantasy agenda of Bob Geldof [elderly rocker Sir Bob Geldof's pathetic call for a million anti-globalist ninnies to descend on the G-8 summit and tie up the police with their pitiful narcissist preening] or avenge their dead?

Steyn uses "existential" in the sense of "for our very existence." And that's exactly the struggle we're in.

The second column is by Victor Davis Hanson, a military historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He writes in today's National Review Online (link here). The thrust of his analysis is that there were four, not two, wars in Iraq:

War I (January 17 to March 3, 1991), "The Gulf War." It began when Saddam invaded Kuwait and ended when we called off our troops, leaving Saddam in power.

War I was a response to years of appeasement of Iraq, American mixed signals during the Iran-Iraq War, and clumsy diplomacy. All may have given Saddam the message that his invasion of Kuwait was outside the realm of American interest.

War II (March 1991 to March 2003), "A rather different 13-year Second Iraqi War." It involved the No-Fly Zone and its related bombing runs, and "[a] U.N. trade embargo, coupled with the scandalous Oil-for-Food program, starved thousands of Iraqi civilians. Saddam, with foreign help, siphoned off cash and food for his own Baathist cronies."

War II was a response to the failure to remove Saddam in War I.

War III (March 20 to April 9, 2003), "Gulf War II." It began with the bombing of Baghdad and ended with the toppling of Saddam's statue. Its purpose, unlike Wars I and II, was the removal of Saddam and his Baathist regime, with replacement by a consensual government.

War III was a response to the failure to remove Saddam in War II.

War IV. (April 2003 to present), "The Occupation." It began immediately after the end of the conventional fighting and continues today. War IV was waged by a loose alliance of Wahhabi fundamentalists, foreign jihadists, and former Baathists against the American efforts to fashion an indigenous Iraqi democratic government.

War IV was an effort to ensure there would not be another Saddam and thus more wars like I-III.


If we are victorious in War IV, Iraq will be analogous to a Germany, Japan, or Panama and pose no further problem. If we fail, it will be similar to Vietnam or Lebanon. In our defeat we will give up, go home, and probably not return.

Just as there was no third war with Germany or second war with Vietnam, there will probably be no fifth war with Iraq. We have finally learned our lesson: Victory or defeat and a change of circumstances — not breathing spells with dictators, U.N. resolutions, realpolitik truces, no-fly zones, or cruise missiles — finally end most wars.... If War IV is now the costliest for the U.S. and the most controversial of the series, it is because it is for all the marbles and offers a lasting and humane solution — and every enemy of the United States in the Middle East seems to grasp that far better than we do.

Hanson and Steyn understand and can articulate the stakes in the GWOT. Their analyses resonate with the gut instinct of Red-State America. We must win, because we cannot afford the consequences of failure in this war. The terrorists are playing for keeps. Globally. And the Coalition of the Willing (we need a better name--Coalition of the Avengers?) is all that's standing in their way. We need to pull out all the stops, quit all the PC posturing, and fight as if our existence depends on it. Because it does.


OkieOnTheLam (HT: Hugh Hewitt) has an excellent post (link here) answering Hugh's question about what it would take to get the Far Left behind the War on Terror. Anything less, and I can't see Ted Kennedy giving up his partisan diatribes attacking the Bush Administration. Party politics means too much to him and his ilk.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Muslims Speak Out on the London Bombings

I mentioned in yesterday's post that the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) released an official statement condemning the attacks in London (statement link here (HT: FreeRepublic)). Here is the body of the statement:

Plainfield, Indiana- We note with deep sadness the unfortunate events of this morning in London, England. We condemn such acts of mindless violence that violate the standards of Islam, as well as, of all faiths.

It is regrettable to note that a short-lived website has allegedly claimed responsibility for this reprehensible act and that website purported to link itself with a so-called Muslim group. Such a situation does not bode well for Britain's Muslims who maintain positive relations with their government and are active participants in British public life.

Irrespective of the sociopolitical implications, this act violates the Islamic principles of the sanctity of life and the safety and security of innocent civilians.

The British Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks has aptly stated: "It is not the weapon of the weak against the strong but the rage of the angry against the defenseless and innocent. It is an evil means to an evil end."

The Islamic Society of North America expresses its fullest condemnation of this unwarranted act of terrorism and offers its condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. May God grant all the strength to bear this loss.

This is what we look for from Muslim groups. The condemnation is unequivocal. There's no "if" or "provided" or other "yeah but" disclaimers that often color statements masquerading as sincere outrage.

In today's WorldNetDaily commentary section, the "Letter of the Week" is from a Muslim, and his sentiment is even stronger.

The guys at al-Qaida should be happy I'm not the president of the USA. I consider myself to be a conservative Muslim and conservative-libertarian politically.

Why are those things locked up in Guantanamo allowed to have access to the Quran? Did they think they were doing God's work when they got caught? The USA should stop spending all that money on special amenities for them and soften them up with just enough to keep them alive and breathing on their own. Those among them who are guilty of crimes against humanity should not be allowed to get out alive.

Why haven't the borders with the United States been militarized? Why should we care what other countries' governments think? The law is what it is and it needs to be enforced, right? That's what differentiates a First World country like the United States from a Third World country like ... take a guess.

If the Pakistani government is too chicken to go after Osama bin Laden – who is probably getting shelter from tribes within its borders – then maybe the United States should get a little unconventional ...

So, al-Qaida wants Muslims to rejoice over the attacks in London? Well, I'll hold off celebrating until Osama bin Laden and his hordes of savages are atomized, blown to pieces, etc. They claim to be true Muslims – in my sight, they are barbarians and perverts who deserve to be wiped off the face of the earth. No mercy should be shown to them by anyone!

Sure, I would be considered to be a "traitor to Islam" by them, but they're not God and have no credibility with me whatsoever. Only God knows what is in my heart. What I do know is that I do my best to serve God and I love the USA and do so freely as a Muslim.

Nabil Ahmad

These are the people President Bush talks about when he says that Islam is a religion of peace. These are the people we have been longing to hear from. They may have been speaking all along--who could tell with today's media? But finally, we're starting to hear their message.

May God grant all the strength to bear this loss and to deliver the justice the terrorists deserve.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bombings In London

I heard the news this morning on my drive to work, and my heart breaks for the victims of the terrorist attacks in London.

And I'm pissed off.

I'm angry at the terrorists for daring to do this, for believing that a few explosions would make the British turn tail and run. After all of the Arab world's contact with Britain over the centuries, you'd think they'd have learned by now about British resolve.

I'm angry, too, at the Left, who have managed to twist their reasoning to the point that they blame President Bush for the bombings in London.

One caller to Laura Ingraham's radio show this morning pointed out that these attacks in London wouldn't have happened if President Bush hadn't gone to war in Iraq and dragged the UK into the fight. When Laura questioned him about who was at fault for 9/11, the man said, "It happened on Bush's watch, after President Clinton had told him that al-Qaeda was the biggest threat to the country." Laura got him to admit that al-Qaeda was to blame for the 9/11 attacks, then he said, "But who was responsible for al-Qaeda?" Why, the Americans, of course.

It's always the same with the Left: Everything bad in the world is America's fault, especially President Bush's.

That said, it's time now to relegate the Left to their deserved irrelevancy. It's time for a renewal of the steely resolve that has permeated the White House and No. 10 Downing Street for the past four years. It's time to go kick some more Islamofascist-terrorist butt and show them how the British and Americans really react to attacks on their innocent citizens.


President Bush's statement on the London bombings here (HT: FreeRepublic).

Tony Blair's statement here.

Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone's statement here.

Islamist group claiming responsibility, statement here.

G8 Summit leaders' statement (delivered by Tony Blair) here.


The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has released an official statement condemning the attacks in London (statement here). It's short and beautifully said.

After 9/11, there was a lot of airplay given to the noticeable lack of condemnation from any Islamic groups, even the moderate ones. Now we have a group condemning the London bombings, and it's right that we publicize their statement and thank them for their willingness to take a stand on the side of the sanctity of innocent life.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Supreme Speculation

They announced on Fox News Channel's headlines tonight that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has declared Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a qualified nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court (story here). Reid's endorsement should be the kiss of death to anyone's nomination. If the hard Left approves of a potential nominee, that person should not be nominated.

My concern, though, is not the Democrats and their approval of a nominee. It's President Bush.

From reading a couple biographies about him, I can see that the quality he values most is loyalty. He likes to surround himself with people whose loyalty he can count on, and in turn, he returns that loyalty to them. Dick Cheney. Karen Hughes. Karl Rove. Alberto Gonzales.

President Bush promised that his nominees to the Supreme Court would be in the mold of Scalia or Thomas. But I'm concerned that his loyalty will outweigh his campaign promise. He is a man of conviction, who does what he believes is right--and public opinion be damned. We can write to him, put pressure on him, and relentlessly make it clear we want a strict constructionist nominated to the Court, but if his mind is made up in favor of someone who doesn't have that kind of record, he won't change it.

My dream nominee? Robert Bork.

Let President Bush make a statement by nominating Bork. Let everything hit the fan and circulate for a little while, and then Bork can withdraw his name. Then the President can nominate one of the younger men or women who have been listed as strong, constructionist possibilities by Hugh Hewitt and other conservative law professors.

As Hugh says in his Weekly Standard column, "I expect some combination of Judges Garza-Luttig-McConnell-Roberts to provide the two nominees that will probably be needed."

Hugh is an optimist, fully expecting President Bush to nominate a Scalia/Thomas to the bench. Me? I'm not so sure. I won't be holding my breath.

Blowing Up Comets

Hugh Hewitt devoted yesterday's first hour to NASA's Deep Impact project. What fun! He had a guest from JPL (didn't catch his name and couldn't find it on Hugh's website) who was involved in the trajectory part of the project. The guy (I'll call him Dave) is a rocket scientist who has a sense of humor.

Hugh threw straight questions at Dave, as well as throwing curves, and Dave handled both equally well. The interesting part for me (straight question) was when Dave explained that they couldn't calculate the exact trajectory until they got close to the comet, because the comet's core was hidden from view. So the calculations were done on/by the mother ship at close range.

And they didn't send a bomb. It was a big copper ball that they lobbed at the comet. The force of the impact caused the comet's surface to vaporize and eject the vapor and surface particles. It makes sense that they'd get pure comet materials by using a copper ball, rather than exploding a bomb and having bomb residue potentially corrupt the results of the impact.

Hugh asked if NASA had been concerned about the chance of releasing General Zod from the comet, and Dave answered it just as seriously as he answered Hugh's other questions. They didn't expect any repercussions.

Hugh also speculated about the effect of dropping a ball on Cleveland, but I don't think that's in NASA's plans at the moment.

After the show, Hugh posted a link to Point Five Step, where he has a most excellent post on Science's immediate future (do you recognize the photo from somewhere???).

I could stand this NASA/Hugh stuff for a long time. But the Supreme Court and the Senate and the War in Iraq won't cool their heels (sigh).

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

China and Unocal

With the Senate keeping busy lately going on the news talk shows to slam President Bush's so-far-non-existent nominee for replacing Sandra Day O'Connor, I lost track of the House of Representatives. Did they still exist? Who could tell by the news coverage?

Apparently, unlike our Senators, our Representatives don't actually need the press's approval to keep them working. Not only did the House overwhelmingly (398 - 15) pass a resolution on June 30 asking the Bush administration to prevent China's energy company (CNOOC Ltd.) from buying American-owned Unocal, but their resolution really ticked off the Chinese government (full story here, by Peter S. Goodman of the Washington Post Foreign Service).


"We demand that the U.S. Congress correct its mistaken ways of politicizing economic and trade issues and stop interfering in the normal commercial exchanges between enterprises of the two countries," the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement. "CNOOC's bid to take over the U.S. Unocal company is a normal commercial activity between enterprises and should not fall victim to political interference. The development of economic and trade cooperation between China and the United States conforms to the interests of both sides."

Unfortunately, with China's communist political/governmental system, there's no such thing as "normal commercial activity between enterprises." CNOOC is intertwined with the communist government.

"We cannot, in my opinion, afford to have a major U.S. energy supplier controlled by the Communist Chinese," said Rep. William J. Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat.

He's right. China will be looking to its own national interest, which does not happen to coincide with ours. And when that Chinese national interest involves keeping the oil produced by Unocal and preventing our access to it, you can bet your bottom dollar China will do just that--even if it violates contracts.

But whatever comes of the Unocal battle, tensions over Chinese investment are probably only beginning. Just as a rising Japan in the 1980s snapped up high-profile assets in the United States and provoked widespread American unease, China's expanding horizons are having a similar effect.

Moreover, key differences between Japan of that era and current-day China could make this go-round more combustible: Japan was a U.S. military ally and part of the same ideological bloc, whereas China is viewed by many in Washington as an adversary.

What I'm not seening in this Washington Post article is a more in-depth look at China's latest sabre-rattling. Saying, "China is viewed by many in Washington as an adversary," makes it look as though Washington is the bad guy for being so suspicious of harmless China.

But, as recently as June 20, 2005, China has deployed new weapons, this time a submarine-launched Ju Lang-2 missile, which "has better precision and guidance and is harder to detect." (See full story here)

What concerns me about Washington is not that "many" view China as an adversary, but that many more don't see them as an adversary. It's too much like the children's story, "The Gingerbread Man," (© 2002 - 2005 Topmarks Education) and China is the fox.

A sly fox came out from behind a tree. 'I can help you cross the river,' said the fox. 'Jump on to my tail and I will swim across.' 'You won't eat me, will you?' said the gingerbread man.'Of course not,' said the fox. 'I just want to help.'

The gingerbread man climbed on the fox's tail. Soon the gingerbread man began to get wet. 'Climb onto my back,' said the fox. So the gingerbread man did. As he swam the fox said, 'You are too heavy. I am tired. Jump onto my nose.' So the gingerbread man did as he was told.

No sooner had they reached the other side, than the fox tossed the gingerbread man up in the air. He opened his mouth and 'Snap!' that was the end of the gingerbread man.

This is how "many" in and out of Washington see China, and it's in the interest of our safety and national security to see them this way. Let's hope the White House also sees them this way and takes action to prevent the purchase of Unocal by any of China's "enterprises."

Lazy Weekend

OK. Saturday wasn't lazy. I baked bread--whole wheat rolls--from scratch, because I'm doing the South Beach diet, which calls for whole grains and no processed flour. The nice thing about baking is that I get more done on baking days, not counting the bread, than I usually do on non-baking days. The recipe is in The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book : A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking. I use one of the basic bread recipes and adapt it for rolls.

Knead the dough 600 times (yes, I count), then plop it in my biggest bowl to rise. That gives me two hours to run errands that are overdue. Press the dough to release the gasses, reshape it and stick it back in the bowl for another hour. More errands. Shape the dough into rolls, put them on the cookie sheets and let them rise for one more hour. Bake. Eat one. Throw most of them in the freezer, and head out the door just in time for my Saturday night plans.

Sunday, my church did a big Fourth of July extravaganza, with lots of flags and a military color guard and a video and the choir singing a song to tie it all together. There was one point in the program where we honored our military, past and present--boy, does our church love its military! It was so moving.

Nap after church. Watched "I, Robot" on DVD. Crocheted. Flipped to Fox News, but they kept saying the same thing from Aruba ("Our justice system is different from yours"), so I turned it off.

Monday, off to see "War of the Worlds" with the girls. Back home and gave our little dog, Abby a bath. She's been on some heart medication that gives her incontinence, so when she woke up when we got home, her side was wet. Eeeewww!!! Had to give her another bath later. Nap between Abby baths. Crocheted some more. Watched "Pirates of the Carribbean" on DVD. Didn't go out for fireworks, because I had to get up at 5 am and didn't want to be out too late.

I need weekends like this, where I fall behind on the news. By falling behind, my ire and indignation get a chance to recede to standard levels. I'm sure it's good for me. But I'm back now. Lazy weekend is over.