Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Cartoon Backlash in Europe

The cartoons are finally coming home to roost.

Newsweek's March 6, 2006, International edition has an article on the European backlash over all the cartoon riots. It looks as though Europe has finally had it up to here with all their liberal, multicultural, tolerant policies and the results those policies have reaped. Now they're ready to change their ways.

The world has long looked upon the Dutch as the very model of a modern, multicultural society. Open and liberal, the tiny seagoing nation that invented the globalized economy in the 1600s prided itself on a history of taking in all comers, be they Indonesian or Turkish, African or Chinese.

How different things look today. Dutch borders have been virtually shut. New immigration is down to a trickle. The great cosmopolitan port city of Rotterdam just published a code of conduct requiring Dutch be spoken in public. Parliament recently legislated a countrywide ban on wearing the burqa in public.

Welcome to the end of tolerance, or at least to the nonnegotiable limits to what Europeans will tolerate. Whether it's the Netherlands' rediscovery of Dutch communal values, or the universal affirmations of free speech (to mock religion, or anything else), Europe is everywhere on the defensive.

It. Is. About. Time.

In Germany, which for decades refused to admit it had immigrants (in theory, they were "guest workers" who would one day go home), the newly appointed Federal Integration Commissioner Maria Bohmer now says that this see-no-evil attitude was "wishful thinking," to be replaced by what she calls "offensive integration." Interior Minister Wolfgang Schuble has also called on the country to adopt the more muscular Dutch Way.

Ditto for Schuble's counterpart in France, Nicolas Sarkozy. "The French way of integration no longer works," he said, meaning France's long-held pretense that its strict public secularism could erase differences and make newcomers "French." Immigrants failing to respect basic Western values face deportation. "In the case of a woman kept hostage in her home without learning French, the whole family will be obliged to leave," Sarkozy said, referring to a practice among Europe's most conservative Muslims of importing teenage brides.

The article also discusses some of the challenges facing Europe as they try to assimilate people who have never had to (or been permitted to) assimilate before.

What I want to know is how long it's going to take the multicultural elites in America to catch on and follow the lead of their beloved Europe. How long before we hear "Mr. UN" John Kerry calling for English-only education? How long before we hear about college professors teaching the benefits and necessity of a unified American culture?

I have to admit I'm skeptical about this. The American Left only seems to jump on the European bandwagon when it's headed left. Now that the bandwagon is shifting to the right, will our Lefties hop on? I doubt it, but we can always hope.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Brits on President Bush

Today's The Independent, a British newspaper, reported on last year's incident when President Bush lost control of his bicycle and crashed into a Strathclyde constable.

The article's author, Arifa Akbar, seems to delight in poking understated British fun at our President.

The police report describes him as a "falling object" who lost control of his bicycle after trying to pedal and wave at the same time.

The President's injuries - including scrapes to his hands - were by comparison [to the injured police officer], far less severe although his dignity may have suffered a dent. Afterwards, he shrugged off the incident, joking that he should start "acting my age".

The collision could have led to President Bush receiving a police fine and Strathclyde Police last year issued three fixed penalty notices as part of a crackdown on rogue cyclists.

"Falling object." "Rogue cyclist." But those aren't enough. Akbar then reminds the reader of President Bush's other "pratfalls."

While cycling may be one of Mr Bush's regular pastimes, this was not the first time he lost control on a bike. In 2004, he fell off his mountain bike on his ranch in Texas, suffering grazes on his face, knees and right hand. This latest incident follows in a series of embarrassing pratfalls by the President. In January 2002, he grazed his cheek after falling when he choked on a pretzel. Then in June 2003, he fell off his hi-tech Segway scooter.

Judging by this article, ostensibly about the police report on the bicycle incident, we can see that President Bush is more well-rounded than previously believed. Not only is he the leader of the free world, but he is also a renouned entertainer, using slapstick comedy as his primary art form.

Mark Steyn on the Future of the West

Mark Steyn's column in yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times is sobering at best. It's a logical follow-up to his column from early January on the way demographics are spelling doom for the West.

Yesterday's focus was on Muslim-Jewish relations in Europe. They're bad. But not in the sense that we're used to hearing about. Steyn details the brutal murder two years ago of a Jewish Paris disc jockey at that hands of his Muslim neighbor, Adel, then states:

Adel climbed the stairs of the apartment house dripping blood and yelling, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven."

That same night, a Jewish woman was murdered in front of her daughter by another Muslim, and the major French papers didn't report the story.

This month, another Jewish Parisian was tortured for three weeks, then murdered.

During the ransom phone calls, his uncle reported that they were made to listen to Ilan's screams as he was being burned while his torturers read out verses from the Quran.

This time around, the French media did carry the story, yet every public official insisted there was no anti-Jewish element. Just one of those things.

[R]adical young Muslim men are changing the realities of daily life for Jews and gays and women in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and beyond.... The Jews are playing their traditional role of the canaries in history's coal mine (emphasis added).

It doesn't look as though the canary is doing too well. And the rest of us will follow along in a while if we keep to the same course.

Something very remarkable is happening around the globe and, if you want the short version, a Muslim demonstrator in Toronto the other day put it very well:

''We won't stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.''

What, in the end, are all these supposedly unconnected matters from Danish cartoons to the murder of a Dutch filmmaker to gender-segregated swimming sessions in French municipal pools about? Answer: sovereignty. Islam claims universal jurisdiction and always has. The only difference is that they're now acting upon it.

We need to keep taking action as well, until we stop the extremists working toward a one-world caliphate in their tracks. It won't be quick. It won't be easy. But it's absolutely necessary for the survival of our way of life.


Nidra Poller has a column in yesterday's OpinionJournal which gives more detail on this month's murder of a Parisian Jew at the hands of a Muslim gang. She makes a point that is in line with Mark Steyn:

Yet one detail was consistently played down by the investigators and missing from the early media reporting on the killing. The victim, whose full name is Ilan Halimi, was Jewish. Most of the men targeted in other kidnapping attempts were Jewish. Most members of the gang who allegedly carried out the crime are Muslims, whose families come from the Maghreb or sub-Saharan Africa and live in the very sort of neighborhoods that went up in flames during three weeks of nationwide rioting last fall.

Poller manages to find the faintest glimmer of light in the midst of the darkness of this issue.

The initial response to the kidnapping of Ilan Halimi suggested a comparably selective ignorance. But many things have changed in French society in the past two years. Then, faced with the new tide of anti-Semitism, the Jewish community was left alone with its distress and at times even accused of being justifiably targeted because of its support for Israel. Today the government has apparently decided that the barbarous hatred unleashed against one Jewish man is a threat to all of France.

Santa Stories

Yes, I know this isn't the time for Santa, but the news has been depressing, and I needed this.

It started when my office-mate showed me an email she was copied on, to a guy named Hao, but the person sending the email spelled it wrong, so it said, "Hi Hoe." We got a good chuckle, then she said she knew a woman named Hoa, and I said I did too, and she's married to Santa. Hoa's husband is retired, but he has the mall-Santa gig every December, with the real beard and the real belly.

So my friend said she also knows a guy who looks like Santa, only this man and his wife are really "crusty," so when little kids come up to him and ask him if he's Santa, he gets mad.

Another one of my friends, when her husband was still alive--he also looked like Santa, beard and all--was visiting their grandkids, when the youngest asked Grandpa if he was Santa. My friend said, "Shh... We try to keep it a secret, or else all the other kids won't leave him alone." The grandson kept the secret out in public, but when they were at home, Grandma and Grandpa milked it whenever they could. "Let Grandpa get some rest. He's got a big day coming up soon." Wink, wink. They played along until the grandkids didn't believe in Santa anymore.

It's good to look like Santa, but only if you have the disposition for it. "Jolly is as jolly does," and all that.

But if you're a crusty guy who looks like Santa, do the world's kids a favor. Shave the beard.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Days of Heaven

I got home last night at 11:00pm, my eyelids felt like they were down around my ankles, but I couldn’t sleep. These late nights at work got old a long time ago.

So I went to monster.com and looked around for jobs that I’m qualified for--jobs that look as though they don’t require endless stress and overtime. There isn’t much in this area, just a couple jobs that are asking for what I know but that require a few things I don’t know. Put together with past conversations I’ve had with people I used to work with, and the job prospects look pretty dismal around here.

That’s when I started branching out, looking at places that seem more affordable than here. I avoided all the really big cities, like Chicago, New York, Seattle, and Washington DC, and looked instead at smaller places.

I found job openings with my name on them in the Midwest, and that’s a bit scary because I saw the movie, Days of Heaven, with Sam Shepard, Brooke Adams, and Richard Gere, and the fourth main character was the oppressive heat—the still, humid air with wheat chaff hanging in it that sticks to you and keeps you from ever being cooled by breezes that never come. That’s the Midwest I saw in that movie, where someplace way to the west are mountains that have caught the prevailing winds and swallowed them and prevented them from reaching the center of the country, and the sun just beats down on you and swelters.

The movie takes place during the Depression, and they’ve invented air conditioning since then. So I suppose it’s not that bad. But I wouldn’t know. I’ve only lived in places that are on the edge of the country: Navy towns, like Norfolk and Bainbridge and San Diego, and then Montana and Spokane, and back to California. I don’t know what it’s like to live in the middle of the country. And I don’t know how serious I am about leaving California.

I hate not knowing.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Rethinking the UAE Ports Deal

In my other post on this subject, I came down squarely against allowing Dubai Ports World manage our ports. My main reason was that we should not allow other nations to have control over something so important to our sovereignty and security as our ports. Future conflicts of national interest between us and the nation running the ports could jeopardize us in ways we can't imagine. I was surprised to learn that other countries are already running some of our ports, including China, who I believe runs Seattle and Los Angeles among others.

Since then, there's been a lot more conversation about the UAE deal in particular and the management of the ports in general. This conversation is long overdue. Since 9/11, I've read articles now and then addressing concerns about the insecurity of our ports, but they never seemed to get any traction. Now the UAE deal is giving the ports issue traction in a big way.

Most of the conservatives I've heard--the ones who aren't intimately involved with national security--have spoken against the deal. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) came out against it. Laura Ingraham is against it. Hugh Hewitt spoke against it, saying he would oppose it until somebody satisfactorily addressed his concern about possible infiltration of Dubai Ports World by terrorists. He referenced DPW's job openings within the Dubai headquarters, where the new employees would have access to shipping data from the company's IT operations.

Since his initial post, though, Hugh Hewitt interviewed several people who are extremely intelligent and who are closer to either the security or the ports issue than he is. As a result of all these interviews, he has moved from being against the ports deal to being in favor of it. And I find myself drifting off in the same direction, now that I've heard most of the interviews on his radio show.

Radioblogger has the transcripts: Mark Steyn, Robert Kaplan, Austin Bay, Robert Ferrigno, Frank Gaffney, and US Coast Guard Admiral Craig Bone.

Chris Malott has a great post that opens with a quote from Dubai Ports World COO Ted Bilkey, showing concern over the American reaction to the deal and showing willingness to address our concern. Chris goes on to summarize the arguments against and in favor of giving UAE management of our ports:

My understanding is that their government has been an ally in the war on terror. Our naval vessels use their ports and our military aircraft use their airports. True, the government recognized the Taliban prior to 9/11 and two of the hijackers were from this country, but the UAE has since been one of the few friends that we have in the region.

Given these summarized points as well as Hugh Hewitt's guests and callers testifying to the steadfastness of the UAE as an ally and as an enemy of terrorism, I'm inclined to support the ports deal.

What the Bush Administration needs to do is address these specific concerns before the American people, instead of just saying, "Trust me on this."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Freedom of (Loony) Speech

I love Rabbi Daniel Lapin's writings. His book, America's Real War, is a readable look at the conflict in American culture between the people who hold to our Judeo-Christian values and the people who would secularize our country, and I recommend it.

In today's WorldNetDaily, Rabbi Lapin takes a look at the recent conviction of an Austrian for denying the Holocaust happened (news story here). But the broader point he makes is that we risk our freedom of speech completely when we allow ourselves to give the victory to those who are perpetually offended.

Austria has just sentenced an eccentric, obsessed historian to jail for three years because he expressed his opinion that Auschwitz didn't have gas chambers. David Irving violated Austria's law which provides for up to 10 years imprisonment for Holocaust deniers. It is ironic that many of the people cheering this suppression of free speech in Austria are the same people decrying Muslim attempts to do the same in Denmark.

Even on this side of the Atlantic, people are paying a heavy price for expressing their views. Harvard University's president, Lawrence Summers, was just forced to resign, essentially for suggesting that it might be worth studying whether innate differences would explain why fewer women than men succeed in math and science. Professor Alan Dershowitz rightly called the affair an academic coup d'etat.

Of course, I am not suggesting that the Holocaust, Islamic fundamentalism, Harvard University and the New York Post are all equivalent. I am suggesting that the thoughtful among us ought vigorously to oppose all attempts at policing thoughts and beliefs. Freedom of belief and speech is a good idea even if we find some beliefs and speech disgusting.

We've really gone too far (and Europe has gone even farther) in mollycoddling the thin-skinned people most likely to scream.

Punishing people for being offensive – and that is why Irving is being jailed – opens frightening floodgates. There is really no fair reason why Jews should be the only people guaranteed freedom from offense.

How about environmentalists who feel offended by my views on recycling as a meaningless sacrament of secularism? How about feminists who feel offended by a university president's open mindedness? How about American Muslims who feel offended by public celebrations of Israel's Independence Day in Los Angeles? How about employers who feel offended by an employee's Christian faith? Or, for that matter, how about Christians who feel offended by the idea that abortion is a constitutional right?

When we approve of punishing people for speaking their minds when that speech offends an accepted "victim" group, we open ourselves up to future danger. When accepted opinions start shifting, we could be the next ones to be punished.

In America, even kooks have freedom of speech. And there are people out there who see us as the kooks. It's best to make sure that PC laws are dismantled before we find ourselves on the wrong side of them.


WorldNetDaily reported yesterday that a left-leaning community college student in Massachusetts is in trouble for exercising his free speech rights.

Paul Trost, 20, a student at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Mass., says he was upset by an introduction of Kennedy given by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., in which the congressman noted how the long-time senator overcame hardship in life on his way to success.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

"Lynch said Kennedy had overcome such adversity to get to the place he was, and that's a bunch of bull," Trost said of the introduction, which occurred in the school's student center yesterday morning.

Just as Kennedy began speaking, Trost was walking out of the room when he shouted, "Remember Chappaquiddick!"

Trost was told he'd be hearing from school officials about disciplinary action, but he hasn't heard from them yet.

"One of my teachers called me ignorant and told me this was an embarrassment to the school," Trost told WND. "She said to me, 'Can't you forgive him after all these years?' And I said, 'No, he killed somebody.'

"If it had been me or any other person, we'd be in jail," Trost says he told his instructor.

Smart kid.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

For the Birds

One year for Christmas, back when I was married, my husband bought me a bird book when he couldn't think of anything else to get for me. It was a gift born of desperation, and it was probably the best and most lasting gift he ever gave me (my kids don't count for this, because they were a gift from God).

I spent hours flipping through the glossy photos, looking at birds I'd never seen or heard of. The black-crowned night heron was scrunched and looking off to the side, and it looked like the profile of Alfred Hitchcock from his old TV show. The red-breasted merganser was obviously the inspiration behind Daffy Duck, with the feathers sticking out the back of his head in wild abandon. And the black-necked stilt is probably one of the happiest-looking birds.

It's hard to identify some of the birds I see, because they won't stay still long enough. But others cooperate just fine. I've had the book long enough that it fell apart and I've had to replace it. And I've gone from knowing almost nothing about birds ("Looks like some kind of hawk") to knowing that was an osprey I saw yesterday morning on my way to work as it perched on a power line above an overgrown creek bed.

It's not that I sat down and tried hard to learn the birds, but more that I just looked through the book about a million times and picked it all up through osmosis.

So when I was in Texas last weekend, I saw some of these guys in the picture at the top of this post (I couldn't get my pictures to upload right, so I borrowed one that looked like mine). When I saw the white flashes of the wings and tail when they flew, I thought, "Mockingbird." But then they started making noise, and I began to doubt myself.

Around my house the mockingbirds sound something like this: "Tweet tweet tweet, CHIRPee, CHIRPee, CHIRPee, tweedle tweedle, cheep cheep cheep." In Texas, they just squawked like small versions of ravens--nothing musical at all. So I asked a docent at the park I was visiting what those birds were, and she said that they really were mockingbirds, which restored my sense of sanity but left me pitying Texans who don't get a true seranade in the morning.

It amazes me sometimes that an afterthought of a gift like my bird book opened up a whole world that I had never noticed before. Now I inhabit a planet filled with wood ducks and mandarin ducks and western meadowlarks (but meadowlarks are another story), and they make it a planet filled with delight.

I recommend the bird book. Get the red one if you live in the West, and get the green one if you live in the East. Don't get a book with drawings--you'll want the glossy photos. Open up a new world for yourself that's for the birds.

US Ports and the UAE

Chris Malott has a great post on the UAE's proposed takeover of running the US ports that have been managed until now by British company, Peninsular and Oriental.

More importantly for me, with George Bush's record on fighting terrorism I trust his administration to make the right call here.


Politically this transaction is a loser for whoever supports it.

It is a loser. Absolutely everybody except the Bush administration and former President Jimmy Carter are against it. Carter came out Monday in favor of the deal, which immediately confirmed for those undecided folks on the Right that this is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

Knowing that President Bush values loyalty above all other qualities, especially within himself, my guess is that his recent digging in of his heels (here and here) over this issue is a matter of the loyalty he feels for the people within his administration. His people looked into the question, determined that the UAE is not a security threat at this time, and President Bush is willing to trust their assessment. And I might be willing to trust them as well, except for one thing (and it's not the Jimmy Carter factor):

Dubai Ports World , the UAE's state-run company, is an arm of another country. It's one thing to rely on a foreign private business. The risks will primarily be monetary. But with another country running our ports (whether that's Great Britain or Israel or the United Arab Emirates), we put ourselves at even greater risk whenever a national conflict of interest comes up.

We must not place the management of our ports into the hands of another sovereign nation. Period.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Dutch Official Calls for Mandatory Abortions

Some people have no sense of history. The sweep of time and the lessons of the past go right on by them without ruffling a hair on their heads, let alone firing up any neurons.

WorldNetDaily reported today that Dutch health official, Alderman Marianne van den Anker of the Leefbaar Rotterdam Party, has called for forced abortions and contraception to prevent unwanted children. Her proposal would target Antilleans and Arubans.

The target groups for her program are Antillean teenage mothers; drug addicts and people with mental handicaps, she said, according to a report in Expatica.

According to the report, Van den Anker said children from these groups run an "unacceptable risk" of growing up without love and with "violence, neglect, mistreatment and sexual abuse."

"The exceptions," she said, "and there are some, can be counted on a pair of hands."

Let's see, who was the last guy in Europe to start targeting people with mental handicaps?

Does Van den Anker even have any clue what her misplaced compassion amounts to? Is there nobody in the world who would be willing to adopt Antillean and Aruban babies born to women unable to care for them? Did she even consider starting a program for the adoption of these children? Isn't there a Dutch program for helping these women kick the drugs?

If the only exceptions can be counted on a pair of hands, then the forced sterilizations and abortions will result in genocide.

For this short-sighted health minister, sterilization and abortion must look like easy answers. But easy answers usually create even tougher problems in the long run.

Mark Steyn on Cartoons and Buffoons

Mark Steyn has an excellent column in Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times. In it he addresses Iran's latest reaction to the Mohammed cartoons, Pakistan's burning of Ronald McDonald, and the media meltdown over Cheney.

Normally when I refer to Mark Steyn's columns, I provide some of the more splendid excerpts. This time, though, there's too much that's splendid to do any excerpting. It would just ruin the effect. So be sure to read the whole thing.

How anybody can be consistently as clever, as smart, and as right-on-the-money as Mark Steyn is beyond me. I wonder, and I marvel, and I read every word.

Anthrax Preparedness

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Monday that a high school senior has discovered a technique for destroying anthrax bacteria in the mail. The weapon he used is this.

Protecting yourself from biological weapons might be as simple as using a hot clothes iron.

Through a project for a statewide science competition, Central Catholic High School senior Marc Roberge discovered truth in the urban legend that ironing can kill anthrax spores in contaminated mail.

His findings will appear in the June edition of the Journal of Medical Toxicology, which publishes peer-reviewed research papers. It is an accomplishment usually reserved for Ph.D.-level scientists and physicians.

The beauty of Roberge's discovery is that it allows normal people (as well as the paranoid) to defend themselves against anthrax attacks through the US Mail.

[For his experiment, he] substituted a more heat-resistant but harmless bacterial spore from the anthrax family that scientists often use as a surrogate.

Marc Roberge placed paper strips laden with millions of spores inside standard envelopes, and then ironed the mail at various dry heat settings for up to 15 minutes.

He found that an iron adjusted to the hottest setting -- at least 204.5 degrees Celsius, or 400 degrees Fahrenheit -- and used for at least 5 minutes destroyed all spores so no bacteria would grow. The iron didn't open the letters or make pen-written addresses hard to read, Roberge said.

This is offered as a public service.

Other public service announcements:

Extricating yourself from quicksand.

Treating Bird Flu with sauerkraut.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


When I was taking my dog out this morning, I saw my first ladybug of the season. She was walking on my weeds, and she had spots.

I took Abby back in the house, grabbed my 10 X Zoom digital camera and went to the weed to see if the ladybug was still there. She was, but my camera didn't work for the closeup shot. Even though I could get the picture zoomed in beautifully, the camera's autofocus couldn't go that close.

So I went back in the house, unpacked my (gasp!) film camera and set the telephoto lens on Macro setting, pulled the focus in nice and tight, and got back out to the weed, but the ladybug had gone on to somebody else's weeds. I lined up the shot as if the ladybug were still there, just to see, and it would have been OK, except she wouldn't have been as close as I pictured it in my mind. Good equipment is handy, but it's not always ideal. And living subjects rarely cooperate.

I was looking forward to the picture, because of the changes it would reveal in me. When I was in grade school, one of the neighbor girls told me that the spotted ladybugs were "POISON!" Since she'd never given me a reason to doubt her before, I believed her. After that, I only let the un-spotted ladybugs walk around on my finger and avoided the spotted ones as if they were spiders.

The fact that I let any bug crawl around on my finger was proof of how benign I saw the plain ladybugs. Bugs, and especially spiders, had the ability to paralyze me. There was one day, probably late grade school or early junior high, when I left my bedroom to go outside, but there was a gigantic spider on the hallway wall about face-height, and I would have to pass it to get to the door. I couldn't. I just stood there in the hall right outside my bedroom door, watching the spider to make sure it didn't get on me. Finally, I saw my dad, called him, and he came and dispatched the spider for me.

Bugs had the same effect on me, though if they were small enough and I had completely closed shoes on, I could stomp on them with enough heart-pounding adrenaline flooding my system.

But I let ladybugs (the solid red ones) climb up on my finger and tickle my skin. And when my mind started thinking about how those were really bug legs, then I'd pass the ladybug off to a friend or wave my hand until she flew away.

I conquered my fear of bugs when I had kids and decided I didn't want to pass on the paralyzing fear to my children. I still can't stand bugs and spiders, but the fear doesn't win anymore. And I wanted a picture of the "poison" ladybug as a reminder.

I'm sure she or one of her friends will be back.

Friday, February 17, 2006

France and Iran and Risk

When France recognizes a problem, that's when you know something is really wrong. Yesterday's New York Times reported that France has finally opened its eyes.

France plainly accused Iran today of pursuing a nuclear program that can only be intended for military purposes, just two days after Iran said it had resumed enrichment for civilian purposes.

The declaration by Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy raised the pressure on Iran, ahead of talks next week in Brussels and Moscow with European Union and Russian officials, as Iran tries to avert a showdown at the Security Council in March.

"Today, it's simple; no civilian nuclear program can explain the Iranian nuclear program. So, it's an Iranian clandestine military nuclear program," Mr. Douste-Blazy said on a morning news show on France 2 television.

It's about time!

If France keeps up the pressure on Iran and supports--or even initiates--action of some sort against Iran, then I might even start to like them again and buy their Petit Ecolier cookies again.

But this isn't about cookies, or about France, or even about Iran. It's about assessing risk. We need to determine where the greatest risk to our country is coming from and focus our highest attention there. From the perspective of a worker bee in a cubicle in an office building, here are the top threats to our nation's security (in descending order):

From within our country. The radical imams who are indoctrinating their people toward terror, including setting up training camps, are the biggest threat because their weapons and emissaries are geographically nearby. It doesn't take a lot of coordinating, à la 9/11, to start causing a lot of damage and carnage.

From Iraq. If we don't finish the job, get the Iraqi army trained and up to speed, and get that country stable, then Iraq could deteriorate into a terrorist hotbed that would make Afghanistan under the Taliban look like nursery school. This is also related to the first risk, because the threat to our finishing the job in Iraq is from within our country--from the anti-war, anti-Bush crowd.

From Iran. Even France is getting it about Iran. The Iranian president is a genocidal lunatic, and besides Israel, it's our genes he wants to destroy. And Iran is busy working on the weapons that would give him that ability.

From Syria. It's getting pretty clear that Syria is sitting on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. In the recent past, they had a puppet regime in Lebanon, and they appear to keep stirring up anti-West hatred.

Other threats. After the above, assessing the next greatest threat gets a little harder. Here are some countries that pose real or potential threats and deserve watching, in no particular order: China. Russian Federation. North Korea. Saudi Arabia. Pakistan.

Non-threats. Israel is not a threat, despite the way much of the media, the UN, many mainline denominations, and the Left portray them. The Palestinians are not a direct threat to the US either--they're a threat to Israel.

If the UN starts getting in the way of addressing and neutralizing the real threats to our national safety, then we need to abandon them (we need to do that anyway, but it becomes more pressing if they allow Iran to go nuclear because of bureaucratic foot-dragging). Our national security needs to be our top priority. Let's not get bogged down by the trivial to the point that we ignore the real risks.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hamas and Fatah

When Hamas won the Palestinian Authority election at the end of January, one of its leaders (who wanted to remain anonymous) stated that Hamas would not be giving up its goal of destroying Israel.

Now Fatah, with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade as its military arm, has announced that it intends to be the primary terrorist organization going after Israel. This is from today's WorldNetDaily, and this similar article is from Tuesday's WorldNetDaily.

Fatah tried to behave nicely while they were in power, but now they don't have to. They've obviously seen that the Palestinians want the destruction of Israel, so they're going to out-Hamas Hamas itself by ramping up the violence and declaring a third intifada. They must be thinking that they'll get the reins of power back (and all the foreign-aid cash coming in) this way.

At the same time, Israel looks as though it has a death wish, because it's still planning to withdraw from the West Bank. Because of the geography in that region, this would give the Palestinians easier access (closer targets for their rocket attacks) to Israeli cities as the disengagement progresses. Even though Israel's plans include a buffer around Jerusalem, that buffer looks awfully tiny, and Jerusalem looks awfully vulnerable.

An image comes to mind from some old movie I saw long ago. The hero, face-to-face with an enemy, bares his chest over his heart and hands the enemy a knife. After some thought (and temptation), the enemy chooses not to kill the hero. This baring of the chest is what Israel is doing with their unilateral withdrawals from some of the 1967-won territory. Unlike the movie, though, Israel's enemy wouldn't hesitate to plunge the knife--they've already said as much.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

National Secrets and the Press

World War II was probably the Golden Age of journalism, from the reader's perspective. Reporters told our country how the war was progressing and encouraged the people back on the Home Front to hold tight and keep supporting the war effort.

Right now, though, we're in the Tarnished Age of journalism. If reporters remember at all that we're in a war, they have trouble remembering which war it is--the war on the Bush administration, or the war on the Islamofascist thugs who want to destroy all of us even reporters who hate President Bush. Usually they think we're in the former.

And while the press fights its war against the President, their tactics undermine the war the President is fighting and make all of us less safe. Somehow, the MSM doesn't seem to care about our safety, and their disregard for national security has brought things to the point that Porter Goss, head of the CIA, felt compelled to write a column for the New York Times on February 10 2006, defending his agency's efforts in the Global War on Terror and explaining why the leaking of national secrets is both dangerous and criminal.

AT the Central Intelligence Agency, we are more than holding our own in the global war on terrorism, but we are at risk of losing a key battle: the battle to protect our classified information.

Judge Laurence Silberman, a chairman of President Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said he was "stunned" by the damage done to our critical intelligence assets by leaked information.

Exercising one's rights under [the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act] is an appropriate and responsible way to bring questionable practices to the attention of those in Congress charged with oversight of intelligence agencies. And it works. Government employees have used statutory procedures — including internal channels at their agencies — on countless occasions to correct abuses without risk of retribution and while protecting information critical to our national defense.

On the other hand, those who choose to bypass the law and go straight to the press are not noble, honorable or patriotic. Nor are they whistleblowers. Instead they are committing a criminal act that potentially places American lives at risk. It is unconscionable to compromise national security information and then seek protection as a whistleblower to forestall punishment.

And that's exactly where the mainstream media is at. They accept and print leaked classified information, protect their sources, and defend the national security damage they cause with the ubiquitous, "The public has a right to know."

But they don't stop there. After the leaked information is out, they focus on the Kennedy/Pelosi/Boxer outrage that the President could do such nefarious things as defend the country against attack, and they ignore or mischaracterize the Administration's defense of its now useless (thanks to the leakers and their MSM enablers) methods.

I can't decide if the MSM is just incredibly stupid and inept in the way they report the GWOT, or if they're so incredibly partisan that they would put the country and even themselves at greater risk for the sake of bringing President Bush down. Neither option speaks well for their intellectual capacity.

Porter Goss concludes his column this way:

Our enemies cannot match the creativity, expertise, technical genius and tradecraft that the C.I.A. brings to bear in this war. Criminal disclosures of national security information, however, can erase much of that advantage. The terrorists gain an edge when they keep their secrets and we don't keep ours.

Let's hope that criminal prosecution of classified information leaks will dry up the MSM's sources. If not, the Tarnished Age may well give way to the Obliterated Age.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Texas, The Press, and Stuck On Stupid

I got back from Texas late last night, unpacked my toothbrush and not much else, hung out with my daughter for a while, then went to bed. Five days without email, without blogging, without the internet, without my daily routine, without my daughter and my little dog, and without work. When I got in the elevator this morning, I couldn't remember which floor I worked on, because my finger wanted to go to my hotel floor's button. Somebody else on my floor was on the elevator with me, and she pushed the right button, and then I remembered.

It was a great workshop on travel writing and photography, and it kept us in the classroom for two and a half days and out doing homework the rest of the time. I didn't see any of the Olympics until Sunday night (I like the Winter Olympics more than the Summer, especially the figure skating, especially the Pairs), but all I saw was the Men's Snowboarding Half-pipe.

And all I saw of the news was the first report Sunday night of Vice President Cheney's having peppered his hunting companion, Harry Whittington, with dove shot. Mr. Whittington was hospitalized but expected to recover nicely. End of story.

Or so you would think, if you didn't realize the press is a bunch of sharks circling around the Bush administration just waiting for the first drop of blood to send them into a reckless feeding frenzy. Apparently, when Lt. Gen. Russel Honore told reporters during Katrina's aftermath not to get "stuck on stupid," they saw him as some brainless military goon and promptly did the opposite of what he advised. Because the press is stuck. Hard.

There's news coming out of Iran that the lunatic in charge of that asylum, President Ahmadinejad, has begun small-scale enrichment of uranium. Here's today's FoxNews story on this.

Iran is moving closer to its nuclear plans. And what does the mainstream media think is important?

Vice President Cheney took too long to tell them about the hunting accident. Here is Time magazine's story, from yesterday. The world is in increasing danger from a wannabe genocidal maniac, and all the press can do is whine about having been left out of the loop when Cheney accidentally hurt someone. There's Cheney chum in the water, and the sharks are stuck there. Heaven help the MSM readers and viewers if anything really important happens.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Out of Town

I'm heading off to Texas for a workshop over the weekend (Thursday - Monday), and even though I'm bringing my laptop, I may be incommunicado the whole time. My laptop can only connect to the internet through the wireless card, and I don't know if my hotel has wireless.

If not, see you Tuesday.

Rescue in Zimbabwe

I like animal stories, especially the strange ones. Like the exploding toads in Germany and Denmark, or the python in Florida that swallowed an aligator and ruptured to death. It's not that I actually enjoy death or blood-and-guts. It's more that these things are so odd, so far out of my realm of what's normal in the animal world.

Today's story, though, is one with a happy ending. It's from yesterday's Scotsman and tells the tale of an otherwise-unfortunate hunter in Zimbabwe. Letikuku Sidumbu and his uncle went hunting (the article doesn't say what they were after), when a crocodile grabbed Sidumbu by the arm.

As the animal clenched its jaws on his right arm, villagers formed a chain to tug him from its grip in a struggle that left him with a broken leg and chest and stomach injuries, he told a newspaper from his Harare hospital bed.

The article pointed out that last year there were 13 recorded cases of crocodiles eating people in Zimbabwe, which makes Letikuku Sidumbu a very lucky man.

Let's hope the rest of Zimbabwe can be pulled out from the jaws of the crocodile named Robert Mugabe.

Where There's Smoke

The window in my office looks to the west, and the sunsets have been spectacular the last couple days from the smoke of brush fires burning in Orange County. A deep red sun sinks into and back out of the marine layer that comes each evening, striping or hiding parts of the sun from view.

The smell of smoke still hangs in the air this morning. It smells different from a wood fire in a way I can't put into words. In Southern California we know the smell of a brush fire the way Scots know the smell of a peat fire. Pungent, maybe, with a subtle harmony twining its way through. And even though I know it means destruction, I find the smell a pleasant one.

They say that Eskimos have a hundred names for snow (and other "they"s say that's not true), but around here we may need a lot more names for smoke. This is the kind that rises from the grasses and touches the sun.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More from Angry Muslims

I've gotten over the red heat of my own anger, and now it's on a slow simmer. Lots of news and even more commentary keeps coming out about the protests over the Mohammed cartoons.

The Jerusalem Post has printed the cartoons (from Monday's Guardian), making it the first leading newspaper in Israel to do so.

The Jerusalem Post did not wish to comment on its decision to publish when it was contacted today by MediaGuardian.co.uk.

But in an editorial published today, entitled "The Prophet's Honor", the paper contrasts the outcry that the Danish cartoons are causing in the Muslim world, while "Arab cartoonists routinely demonise Jews as global conspirators, corrupters of society and blood-suckers".

What's the worst that can happen to the Jerusalem Post over this? Palestinians will try to kill them. So what else is new?

Over in Iran, Iranians have attacked the Austrian embassy (from Monday's Reuters), not because any Austrian newspapers published the cartoons. It's because Austria currently holds the presidency of the EU. But that's not all that Iran is doing.

Iran has withdrawn its ambassador to Denmark and Iranian Commerce Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said on Monday that all trade with Denmark had been severed because of the cartoons, first published in September in a Danish newspaper.

In Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader and head of Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party, accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime of using undercover soldiers acting as rioters to burn the Danish government offices in Damascus and Beirut (from Monday's WorldNetDaily).

"Syria is stirring trouble in the region. Regarding the burnings and protests in Damascus, it is very bizarre that a so-called secular totalitarian regime that controls everything was not able to control these demonstrations," said Jumblatt.

That's a good point, and it raises the same question about the attacks in Iran. Did all the lunatic-president's men orchestrate the embassy attack?

Meanwhile, the Australian pointed out Monday that depictions of Mohammed aren't new but have been happening both within and outside the Muslim world for a really long time.

Despite the outcry, the Danish cartoons of Mohammed are just the latest in a long line of depictions of the Muslim prophet, both in the West and in Islamic countries. From Ottoman religious icons to market stalls in Iran, from the US Supreme Court building to the South Park cartoon, Mohammed has been frequently portrayed in flattering and unflattering lights.

In the 14th century, the 16th century, the 20th century, and the 21st century. In Persian miniaturs, in Turkish paintings, and in depictions of Dante's Inferno by classical artists, like Auguste Rodin and Salvador Dali. In Mecca and in America. None of these sparked violence.

Denmark's newspapers didn't do anything new. The violent factions of the Muslim world just used Denmark as their latest excuse to commit violence. For the Muslim extremists, their violence must always be someone else's fault.

Dennis Prager (from his WorldNetDaily column today) points out the hypocrisy of Europe's appeaser countries.

As long as Muslim demonstrators only shouted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel," Europe (and the rest of the world's Left) found reasons either to ignore the Nazi-like evil inherent in those chants (and the homicidal actions that flowed from them) or to blame America and Israel for the hatred.

But like the earlier Nazis, our generation's fascists hate anything good, not merely Jews and Americans. And now the Damascus embassy of Norway, a leading anti-Israel "peace at any price" country, has been torched. And more and more Norwegians, and Brits, and French, and Dutch, and Swedes, and the rest of the European appeasers who blamed America for 9-11 and blamed Israel for Palestinian suicide bombings, are beginning to wonder whether there just might be something morally troubling within the Islamic world.

Let's hope they figure it out. Because, as Mark Steyn pointed out Sunday in the Chicago Sun-Times, there are dire consequences to "multicultural sensitivity."

Very few societies are genuinely multicultural. Most are bicultural: On the one hand, there are folks who are black, white, gay, straight, pre-op transsexual, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, worshippers of global-warming doom-mongers, and they rub along as best they can. And on the other hand are folks who do not accept the give-and-take, the rough-and-tumble of a "diverse" "tolerant" society, and, when one gently raises the matter of their intolerance, they threaten to kill you, which makes the question somewhat moot.

One day the British foreign secretary will wake up and discover that, in practice, there's very little difference between living under Exquisitely Refined Multicultural Sensitivity and Sharia. As a famously sensitive Dane once put it, "To be or not to be, that is the question."

Supporting the Troops

I listen to Laura Ingraham's radio show on my way to work every day, and this week Laura is in Iraq visiting our troops.

She had an interview with a Colonel (I didn't catch his name, because I was driving) whose unit is training the Iraqi Army's tank unit. One thing the Colonel said was that Hungary donated some Soviet-era tanks to the Iraqi Army, and these were the tanks they were training on while Laura was conducting the interview. I love hearing about how our (nonexistent, if you listen to the Democrats) allies are contributing to the war effort as well as to the rebuilding effort in Iraq.

In another segment, Laura had her studio fill-in, Jed Babbin, take calls from listeners while she had soldiers live via satellite phone. The callers to the show got to talk to the troops, and vice versa.

One caller told the troops that his young son and his friends had taken down all their superhero posters--Superman, Batman, Spiderman--and put up pictures of our soldiers. "You're the new superheroes," the dad said, and the soldiers let out a loud whoop behind Laura.

And then came my favorite quote from the exchange. One of the soldiers (I didn't catch his name either) came on and said to us here at home, "Don't let those whiny, Marxist sycophants lose this for us."

You've got it, Soldier!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Spring is Coming

Spring is on its way here in Southern California.

I saw my first caterpillars of the year this past week--the black fuzzy ones that are about an inch and a half long. Then over the weekend, mockingbirds showed up, never quite sure which song they should sing but always certain to sing it loudly. I enjoy listening to them and their endless variety of music. Not like the raucous croak of the ravens that come around.

The strawberry stands are open now, and I picked up a 3-pack to go with the 4-pack of whipped cream cans I bought at Costco. Yes, spring is on its way.
As I was driving to the gas station, though, the trees along the road spoke of autumn and spring at the same time in the typical schizophrenic California way of things. One tree still had burgundy-colored leaves clinging to the twigs, while the tree next to it had grown a soft halo of tiny white flowers.

But this year winter didn't really come. I know people outside of California don't think we get winter here, but we do. It's called "rain." Winter is when we get rainstorms that blow down from the north and turn the hillsides green. We need it. I need it. I have weeds growing in the dirt in my front yard, and they're so much easier to pull right after it rains. But it's been a while, and it looks like its going to be a while still, and the weeds are getting sturdy, and pretty soon the association will stick a note on my door telling me to yank the weeds. I need winter to show up another time, so I can pull them.

But while I wait, I'll listen to the mockingbirds and squirt whipped cream on my strawberries and try to remember to take my camera with me when I go to the gas station so I can get a picture of the changing seasons.

Life is good.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Four Chaplains Day

Today, February 3, is Four Chaplains Day in America, a day that was established by Congress in 1988. This column by Rees Lloyd in today's WorldNetDaily gives the story of the four chaplains who are honored on this day each year.

The Four Chaplains are: Rev. George Fox (Methodist); Father John Washington (Roman Catholic); Jewish Rabbi Alexander Goode; and Rev. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed).

On Feb. 3, 1943, the Dorchester, a converted luxury cruise ship, was transporting Army troops to Greenland in World War II.... At approximately 12:55 a.m., in the dead of a freezing night, the Dorchester was hit by a torpedo fired by German U-boat 233 in an area so infested with German submarines it was known as "Torpedo Junction." The blast ripped a hole in the ship from below the waterline to the top deck.

The Four Chaplains acted together to try bring some order to the chaos, to calm the panic of the troops, to alleviate their fear and terror, to pray with and for them, to help save their lives and souls.

The chaplains passed out lifejackets, helping those too panicked to put them on correctly, until the awful moment arrived when there were no more life jackets to be given out. It was then that a most remarkable act of heroism, courage, faith and love took place:

Each of the Four Chaplains took off his life jacket, and, knowing that act made death certain, put his life jacket on a soldier who didn't have one, refusing to listen to any protest that they should not make such a sacrifice.

There's much more in Lloyd's column, including quotes from the Dorcester's survivors who witnessed the chaplains' dedication to God and the men they served. Read it for inspiration, and take a moment to remember these men who gave all that they had so that others could live.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Glory Road Review

Let me make this clear right from the get-go. I am not a sport.

I haven't followed sports with any passion since1972, when my dad retired from the Navy and we moved to Montana. Before that, I was a St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, because my dad was a Cardinals fan. His heros had been Stan "The Man" Musial and Dizzy Dean. Mine were Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Curt Flood. After the Padres joined the major leagues, we would go to the game whenever the Cardinals were in town.

But things have changed. Monday, on the way to work, one of the grocery stores had an ad on the radio saying they were the source of all I needed for the big game. "What big game?" I said. Then I thought a little. It was the end of January (a little more thinking). Oh. The Super Bowl. Then I stopped paying attention, because I had no "needs" for the big game.

Right now, out of about 250 DVDs that I own, only four are sports related: A League of Their Own, Chariots of Fire, Remember the Titans, and Miracle. In a few months, though, when Glory Road comes out on DVD, I will own that one too.

Josh Lucas was superb as Coach Don Haskins, a high school girls' basketball coach brought to Texas Western College to keep an eye on the basketball players. Except that Haskins didn't get the message and actually tried to win, bringing black players to the lily-white El Paso team.

The movie spends a lot of time outside the games, focusing on players, both black and white, having to adjust suddenly to an extreme change in their world. The way they meet the challenges within the team, as well as from outside, is where the story is strongest.

The game scenes were beautifully edited, cutting quickly from player to player, from pass to basket to coach, in a way that would seem choppy in another movie. In Glory Road, the cuts told us everything we needed to know--when they were winning and when they were falling apart--in images, impressions, and the eyes of the coach.

If you haven't seen Glory Road and your theater hasn't edged it out in favor of the Oscar pretenders, see it on the big screen. Soon.

Angry Muslims

MyWay News reported today that the uproar among Muslims over some Danish cartoons is escalating. I've been following this story a little, but it hadn't registered high enough on the radar for me to post about it. Now it has, and I'm ticked.

Some background, just in case:

Back in September a Danish newspaper ran about a dozen drawings, most of which depicted the prophet Mohammed. Some were nice pictures (Mohammed in a pretty field) and others weren't so kind (Mohammed with a bomb in his turban). Muslims in Denmark were upset. It's a violation of their faith to depict the prophet in any fashion, since it could promote idolatry. The upset spread to the wider Muslim world, and many Middle East countries called for boycotts of Danish products. Other European newspapers, in solidarity with Denmark, reprinted the drawings, and now the angry-at-Denmark Muslims are even angrier.

Armed militants angered by a cartoon drawing of the Prophet Muhammad published in European media surrounded EU offices in Gaza on Thursday and threatened to kidnap foreigners as outrage over the caricatures spread across the Islamic world.

Foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers began leaving Gaza as gunmen there threatened to kidnap citizens of France, Norway, Denmark and Germany unless those governments apologize for the cartoon.

Outgoing Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia on Thursday condemned the caricatures, saying they "provoke all Muslims everywhere in the world."

"We hope that the concerned governments are attentive to the sensitivity of this issue," Qureia said.

This broader story really torques my jaws in multiple ways.

First, what makes these screaming Muslims think they run the whole world and can dictate policy absolutely everywhere, in every newspaper on the face of the globe to keep themselves free from offense? Sorry, life doesn't work that way.

The extremist Muslims are only too happy to offend Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and any other religion (remember the destruction of temples in Afghanistan?), but they can't handle cartoons. Jeez! Suck it up an be a man about it.

Second, it's about time the Leftist, secular, Israel-hating, Palestinian-apologist countries and their newspapers finally learn just what it is that their appeasement has wrought. There is no safety in appeasement. None.

For years, the Left in Europe (and there isn't much Right still around) has sided with the Palestinians (and anybody else who opposes Israel), calling them the victims and Israel the oppressor, excusing any violence on the part of Palestinians--even the targeting of innocent civilians--while condemning any violence on the part of Israel--even the targeting of terror masterminds. Now the chickens have come home to roost. Europe can't suddenly declare that Palestinian violence isn't acceptable, just because the target of that violence has changed.

Finally, I'm not optimistic that the Europeans will learn any valuable lessons from this exercise. I believe this will ultimately prove that evolution is indeed true. Europe once had a spine and was able to stand up against enemies. But that was a long time ago, and its spine has since disintegrated into a useless stump incapable of transmitting the message to any of its parts to take bold action. The courage of newspapers like France Soir, who reprinted the cartoons, is more like the phantom pain that haunts amputees. It won't last for long.

Maybe Europe will prove me wrong. I hope so. I hope France, Norway, Denmark and Germany finally learn to stand up to bullies. And I hope they finally learn that peaceful co-existence with terrorists and lunatics is not possible.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Glory Road is Going Away

This is the second time in two weeks that the movie I wanted to see disappeared from the theaters before I got the chance. Last week, it was Tristan + Isolde. Starting tomorrow, Glory Road will be gone as well. It's not disappearing only from my usual theater, but the ones as far away as 20 miles are dropping it too.

In its place will be all the stupid, leftist propaganda films that were nominated. I can't bring myself to even call the category "Best Picture" because that's a lie.

So tonight, instead of doing something useful like getting groceries or paying bills, I'll be heading down the road for my last chance to see Glory Road on the big screen. I expect it to be worth the sleep deprivation.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

News In Brief

A lot of news and commentary items have caught my eye today, and I don't have the time to do any of them full justice. So this is a brief mention for all of them, in no particular order. Read the articles in full at your leisure.

Frankincense and cancer:

This article from UPI yesterday describes the apparent effectiveness researchers have found in using frankincense to treat malignant melanoma, the aggressive form of skin cancer.

During a recent presentation before a regional meeting of the American Cancer Society in Roanoke, Va., Robertson -- director of the college's Center for Comparative Oncology -- said he's found the oil has fairly selective anti-tumor activity and doesn't appear to disrupt normal cells.

Zimbabwe's crops fail again:

Today's London Telegraph reports that Zimbabwe's crops this year are expected to produce only half of what's needed to feed its people. In the past, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has blamed poor harvests on bad weather, but this year, the weather provided perfect crop-growing rains. No more excuses for Mugabe. And not a lot of hope for Zimbabweans.

New Internet Worm to Attack Friday:

CBS News reported today that a new destructive worm is making its way around the internet via email--and not just Microsoft Outlook this time. The experts are calling it cyber-vandalism, rather than cyber-crime, and it's set to do damage on February 3, 2006.

It's not spyware, it doesn't send out spam, but it can delete document files such as those created by Word, Excel and other applications as well as MP3 music files. The worm will also try to disable your anti-virus software and, once your machine is infected, it harvests e-mail address from your PC and tries to infect people you know.

The Nature of Israel's Struggle is Religious:

This is the premise of a well-written opinion column in yesterday's Jerusalem Post, by Rabbi Berel Wein. He discusses the motivations of both sides in the Arab-Israeli struggle, and describes some of the fallacies that permeate secular Israel's thinking. Here's a taste:

If we care nothing about our religion, the Jewish leadership seemed to say, then it should be true that they - the Arabs - must also not allow religion to play a decisive role in reconciling our differences.

Ken Blackwell Running for Governor of Ohio:

Stephen Malanga has a profile of Ken Blackwell in The City Journal (I couldn't find a publication date). Blackwell is currently the front-runner in the gubernatorial race, in spite of being a Republican in a state where scandals have shredded the GOP.

The profile traces Blackwell's roots as well as his transformation from college radical to conservative Republican. One comment concerns me, for what it says about party politics (emphasis added):

Blackwell has built his early lead not by tacking toward the center of this swing state but by running on an uncompromisingly conservative platform that’s won him grassroots support from both Christian groups and taxpayer organizations—a novel coalition that makes the old-boy network in his own Ohio GOP as uneasy as it makes the state’s Democrats, who have begun a “stop Blackwell” campaign.