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The Iconoclast

Thursday, 07 June 2007

David Cameron has launched himself into the debate on 'Britishness' claiming that young Muslims are becoming more separated from society than their parents. --from this news item

What exactly would it take for David Cameron to sit down, read with appropriate commentary the Qur'an, be taught the doctrine of "naskh," be given the website with various translations of the Qur'an, all of them searchable, set out synoptically, and then to be given the Hadith, had their levels of "authenticity" explained (as well as the tedious study of isnad-chains), had the ranking of the authoritative" muhaddithin laid out, and then, as well, had explained to him the central role of Muhammad as the Perfect Example of Conduct (uswa hasana), indeed as the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil), and read deeply in the sira. What would it take? Who can make him, and those around him, perform this simple yet indispensable task?

Is there anyone in England?

And if there is anyone in England to do this for Cameron, who will persuade our presidential candidates, of both parties, to do the same -- to read, and not merely read but read until they have thoroughly grasped the material, the Qur'an, the Hadith (a few hundred of the most important will do for a start, along with some random sampling from the vast store) and the Sira. Who will persuade them, all of them, that at this point they have a solemn duty to learn if they presume to be able to instruct and protect us (instruction is necessary because only if properly instructed will citizens realize what steps will be necessary, and what steps would merely be a waste of time or even the exact opposite of what should be done, as we can see in the hopeless mess, and the misplaced "mission," in Tarbaby Iraq.

Surely the big-money men can make it a condition of their contribution that the candidate of their choice learn this stuff. For god's sake, start putting pressure on them. And if some of the students prove recalcitrant, or in the end poor at their task, not quite comprehending, we have a right to know that now, not after the primaries, and especially not until after the election.

Posted on 06/07/2007 6:17 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Thursday, 07 June 2007

When the Taliban controlled all of Afghanistan, its members, being fanatical Sunnis, killed many Hazara men, women, and children, and were preparing to kill all of them when the American intervention removed the Taliban, and the threat. Had the Americans not intervened, it is possible that forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran would have. Yet now that same Islamic Republic of Iran sends explosives and other military aid to the Taliban in Afghanistan, as it does to Sunni groups -- including Al Qaeda -- in Iraq, so that such weapons can be used against the Americans.

This should not surprise. The Islamic Republic of Iran regards the American Infidels as its main enemy, and is willing to supply aid to those who fight the Americans, just as it is happy to see the Americans, in response, hunt down and kill members of Al Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni groups, and to do the same with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Ideally, for the Iranians, the Americans should be stuck in both Iraq and Afghanistan, never quite losing enough to leave, never quite winning -- but expending men's lives, money, matériel, and focussing attention on both those places, and not on undoing the nuclear project of the Islamic Republic.

Yet when the United States is presented on a plate with sectarian and ethnic fissures in Iraq that, if left alone, will inevitably develop in ways harmful to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Sunni counterattacks, supported by Sunnis outside Iraq, against the Shi'a now controlling much of Iraq, will demand that the Iranians furnish similar aid, on the same scale, to their co-religionists in Iraq. Kurdish autonomy, or Kurdish independence, can only attract the attention of, and raise the same aspirations among, the Kurds of Iran, and the Kurdish example in Iraq and Iran should also inspire the Baluchis, the Azeris, and the Arabs of Khuzistan, to revolt against their Persian masters in Teheran.

But this is not discussed. This is not seen as a good thing. This is not, you see, part of the Bush Administration's "mission" but rather the exact opposite of that "mission" to assure a united, stable, prosperous land called "Iraq." Such a mission makes no sense. But no one in the Administration, none of the generals in Iraq, and not the "counterinsurgency" expert David Kilcullen, are able to see beyond the trivial victories, of getting this or that Sunni tribe to attack Al Qaeda (which some in the American military wrongly interpret as meaning they have "thrown in their lot with the Americans" when they have done no such thing), when the whole project in Iraq is, from the Infidel point of view, senseless. Whatever goals the Administration has, even if they could be attained (they can't), would not do a thing about the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, and demographic conquest in Western Europe. Let's see if General Petraeus can stop and think for a bit, and begin to understand something outside that theatre of war, and begin to see anew what can be accomplished in Iraq that will indeed weaken the Camp of Islam -- and for that he will have to forget about the "surge" and "counterinsurgency" laws and think about the larger picture, the Big War (not the "long war" because even that phrase implies an end, and to this war of self-defense against the Jihad there is no end). Let's hope that all the faith put in Petraeus is not misplaced, and that the stories about his naive hope of "winning hearts and minds" is merely a rumor. For if it is true, it would, at this point, be horrifying testimony to terminal miscomprehension and naiveté.

Posted on 06/07/2007 5:51 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Thursday, 07 June 2007

Derb, I've always been facinated by the philosopher's fallacy — better be careful here, I mean a philosopher's fallacy — which conflates a phenomenon with one's perception of the phenomenon.  For a prosecutor, by the way, this is an unacceptable error:  you always have to be keenly aware of difference between reality and how we think we know reality — juries will often acquit, even if they believe your case, if they don't think your witnesses were really in a position to know what they've said they know.

So, with chagrin, I concede your correspondent could be right:  I may be guilty of this error.  Like everyone else, I've heard the "nation of immigrants" rhetoric for years.  But, on top of that, I grew up in New York City, home of Ellis Island; my maternal grandparents were immigrants; my Bronx neighborhood was a multi-ethnic enclave where "just off the boat" was not necessarily a slur; and I went to Cardinal Hayes High School in the South Bronx, where my mates were of multivarious descent — Irish, Italian, Polish, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Black, Jamaican, Chinese, Japanese, etc. When I got to the U.S. Attorney's office, many, many of my defendants were non-Americans (both legal and illegal immigrants), and I spent a number of years doing organized crime cases (focusing mainly on Sicilian, as opposed to strictly Italo-American, mafia groups), and then a number of years on international terrorism — in both instances dealing with lots of immigrants.

That's a long-winded way of saying, I haven't had a lot of reason to question the "nation of immigrants" rhetoric because it was entirely consistent with my experience.  But it's quite possible that I am mistaking that experience for reality.  Maybe I just need to get out more.  But then, on occasion, when I do get out for dinner, I look across the table I find ... you — a bloody immigrant!  You see why I'm confused ...

Posted on 06/07/2007 5:47 AM by Andy McCarthy

Thursday, 07 June 2007
The rendezvous is clandestine. . . The secrecy and subterfuge suggest that an insurgent agent, a Taleban commander or criminal fugitive awaits us.
But the figure that breezes into the room is Malalai Joya, a striking 29-year-old woman, an English-speaking social activist, champion of women’s rights and Afghanistan’s youngest MP. She is no stranger to mortal danger, having survived four assassination attempts since 2003, when she first criticised the power of warlords in Afghan politics.
Since last month, when she was suspended for calling her fellow MPs donkeys and cows, the death threats have escalated, forcing her to move between safe houses supplied by friends and supporters.
If anything, her expulsion from the Lower House has made her even more vitriolic about Afghan parliamentarians: “They are worse than animals.” She states immediately: “I apologise to animals . . . This parliament is completely nondemocratic. How can we be a democracy under the shadow of gunmen and warlords?”
Ms Joya was four days old when Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan. As a teenage refugee in Pakistan, she taught literacy courses to other Afghan women. During the Taleban years she ran an orphanage and health clinic in Afghanistan.
In 2005, two years after she spoke out publicly against warlords involved in drafting the Afghan Constitution, she won more votes than anyone from Farah province in the parliamentary elections and was elected.
Despite this support, a majority of the 248 MPs voted last month to cancel her membership for the remaining term of the current parliament, which runs until 2009. The previous day she had criticised the parliament for failing to accomplish enough for the Afghan people.
“A stable or a zoo is better [than the legislature],” she told TOLO, a private television channel. “At least there you have a donkey that carries a load and a cow that provides milk. This parliament is worse than a stable or a zoo.”
Leading human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have endorsed her accusations in a series of reports that note the prominence of many suspected war criminals in the current Afghan Government and legislature.
“I am just the voice of innocent people who don’t have guns and don’t have power,” Ms Joya says, claiming that her suspension was revenge for her previous criticisms, and especially for her damning of an amnesty Bill, passed in March, that allowed limited protection for MPs and organisations guilty of crimes during the jihad and subsequent civil war.
A dramatic character and ardent polemicist, she is an isolated voice in the Afghan political arena. Ms Joya says that she has had water thrown on her, been called a prostitute and threatened with rape – all by MPs during parliamentary session. Some among the 68 woman MPs support her, many do not.
“Unfortunately, most of them belong to warlords,” Ms Joya says. “Even one shouted at me, ‘Malalai, I’ll do to you what no man could do’. . .”
In parting, she adds: “If something happens to me it’s these fundamentalists in power – they killed me.”
Posted on 06/07/2007 1:21 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Wednesday, 06 June 2007

From The East London Advertiser.

SHOCK posters appeared in the East End this week calling on Muslims to "rise up against British oppression" and protest outside Downing Street.

They were stuck on phone boxes and walls in Bethnal Green and Cambridge Heath (when my grandparents were alive we used to get off the bus to visit them at Cambridge Heath) on Friday, accusing Britain of a media propaganda campaign against Muslims, attacking the veil and 'insults against messengers of God'.

But it brought condemnation among the East End's Muslim community leaders.

Posted on 06/06/2007 4:21 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Wednesday, 06 June 2007

Reactions to my post.


Mr. Derbyshire—-Excellent point on how jail is an occupational hazard of national politics. Being a major national player means, for better or worse, having serious enemies that will try to destroy you. It's sad, I guess, but the stakes are so high that it's just an inevitable part of the game, and a bit pointless to lament.

It seems we have been expanding the pool of jobs that carry that incarceration risk. Legislation like Sarbanes-Oxley appears to increase the jail-risk odds of the CEOs and CFOs of the world. Again, these are powerful, wealthy people who probably end up ok even if they have to do a short stint in jail.

Of course, this increased jail risk means that CEO pay has to rise even more to make the risk worthwhile ... and the massive CEO pay is what creates so many enemies, and fosters so little public sympathy, in the first place!
And Con:
Yeah, Scooter buried under 5 million dollars (so far) in legal bills with a 3 million dollar defense fund is no big deal. You're a mathematician, so perhaps you can count out what 2 million dollars is when you have no income, have been or will soon be disbarred. Phffft.  Nothing at all. 
and another Con:
Your comment that Libby going to jail is no big deal is disgraceful.  I don't really give a crap what happened to Robert Walpole.  An injustice is an injustice.  No, he doesn't have to worry about where his next paycheck is coming from, but he does have to worry about his two kids thinking their father is a criminal and he has to live with people seeing him as the guy who committed a crime that never even occurred because he was convicted of having a bad memory.  You know this whole thing was a travesty from start to finish, and just shrugging it off is pathetic.  

After the charges were dropped in the Duke lacrosse case, ABC's Terry Moran had a blog post telling us that whole mess wasn't really a big deal, b/c the Duke players didn't have to worry about where their next meal was coming from, while black defendants falsely accused of crimes can't afford decent representation.  Blacks may be wrongly convicted more frequently than whites due to poor representation, etc.  Sure, it's something we need to fix.  But Moran's comment about the Duke players was despicable, and the backlash was huge.  They were treated like criminals, and the state essentially declared them criminals for a crime they didn't commit.  In Libby's case, the state did declare him a criminal and he was sentenced as if he had committed a crime that never even occurred.  And your reaction?  "No big deal.  Happens all the time." 

The parallel with the Duke boys seems to me a stretch.  The impact on their lives of being jailed would have been an order of magnitude greater than the impact on Libby's life of his sentence.  And all they did was have a party.  Libby went into national politics.  Which is a bear pit.  As he surely knew.  

Posted on 06/06/2007 3:56 PM by John Derbyshire

Wednesday, 06 June 2007
I seem to have touched a sympathetic nerve in a lot of people when I dissed the "nation of immigrants" slogan.  I'm getting a lot of long, eloquent emails agreeing with me.  Sample:
Derb—-Allow me to enthusiastically second your other reader.  I think this is another fruit of elite coastal opinion. The elites in NYC are surrounded by immigrants, it being a port of entry.  Most white people in that region are also the 2nd/3rd generation 'my grandpa at Ellis Island' types.  Look at our own commentariat's stories, and the movies of Scorsese, Spielberg etc.  The West Coast elites often come from Midwestern American ethnicity themselves, but are surrounded by immigrants. 
Neither set of elites gets the great middle swath for whom the American Civil war is more relevant than Ellis Island for nostalgia, and for whom this 'nation of immigrants' stuff both falls flat and is sort of alienating.
I discovered that particular regional quirk via my marriage. I'm something like 10th generation American, from Midwestern and southern roots, and married a NY girl of Italian and Polish roots.  Her mother asked me 'what are you?'  All I could say is 'American.'  Everyone up there is supposed to have an ethnic festival, a 'little something' urban neighborhood, and a few old country recipes from immigrant grandma.  But where I come from, the great middle of white and black America, we have NO OTHER ethnicity to claim, no recipes that aren't American to cook.
Another anecdote regarding that division was in an elementary school field trip to an art museum in the 70's.  The tour guide was from NY, and when interpreting a mid 19th century painting of Mississippi river life dismissed it as nationalistic propaganda since 'most of us come to Ellis Island in this Century.'  She was actually corrected by several kids, the mixed group of WASP and black kids actually were people whose ancestors were Americans of that earlier era.  And statistically, still, the majority of Americans trace their lineage from well prior to Ellis.  But now our narrative—you know, the Revolution, the Constitution, the Civil War, Settling the West etc.—is deemed irrelevant to America, smacking as it does of national pride and past race crimes.  Now Ellis Island, which gives whites a nice handle on PC victimhood, is the new national narrative, and the rest of us should just shut up, it seems.
As a footnote, it seems lexicographically wrong to me to describe the pre-1787 Americans as "immigrants."  They were not moving from one nation to another, as there was no nation at the receiving end.  They were settlers in an essentially empty land, mostly moving from one part of the British Empire to another.
Posted on 06/06/2007 12:00 PM by John Derbyshire

Wednesday, 06 June 2007
Anthony Julius of leading law firm Mishcon de Reya has joined forces with US-based Alan Dershowitz, professor of Harvard Law School in the wake of last week's vote for a planned boycott by the Universities and Colleges Union.
In a statement, the two lawyers are inviting anyone who feels they are being threatened by a boycott to contact them and seek legal address.Julius has already represented several Israeli academic institutions including Hebrew University and Haifa University in dealing with any boycott of them.
A very competent lawyer, despite his high profile cases.
Posted on 06/06/2007 11:13 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Wednesday, 06 June 2007
Nearly everybody—everybody in my email bag, I mean—agrees with me in liking Duncan Hunter's turning 'round the question about pardoning the Libby guy. How about pardoning Compean & Ramos, asked Hunter? (Those are the Border Patrol agents railroaded into 10-year jail sentences by Bush and Gonzales for having too vigorously pursued a Mexican drug smuggler.) Hoo-ah, said I.
Except that here's one dissident chiding me for not standing up for Libby. Isn't injustice injustice? he asks.  Shouldn't I be equally concerned about all miscarriages of justice, no matter who is the victim?
Well, maybe I should, but I'm not, and neither are you. I think it's an understood feature of Anglosphere politics that the very high rewards of office go with some nonzero risk of getting thrown in jail on charges trumped up by your opponents. After all, it happened to Britain's very first Prime Minister, Robert Walpole.  (He actually did a spell as a prisoner in the Tower of London!)
Libby's operated near the top of the greasy pole. He has plenty of powerful friends. He's never going to be in want of a few cushy 100K directorship sinecures, or the odd 20K speaking engagement. You won't be seeing him on the supermarket line paying with food stamps. He's played the High Game of national politics, and "Go to jail" is one of the cards you sometimes draw in that game. No big deal.
For little guys like Compean and Ramos, though, jail time is a life killer. No 100K directorships for them.  They were disgracefully treated by an administration that often seems to want the approval of the Mexican narco-elites more than the respect & admiration of its own citizens. They should get pardons. 
Libby?  Heck, he'll be all right, and a taste of low life might educate him some.
Posted on 06/06/2007 11:11 AM by John Derbyshire

Wednesday, 06 June 2007
A reader who is not taken in by the "nation of immigrants" flapdoodle:
Derb—-I'm kinda with you here.  ... I'm a bit tired of talking about being a nation of immigrants.  I'm not an immigrant.  Neither are my parents, or their parents.  I'm an American, and that's the part of this country being undermined.  We can't simply be Americans, we all have to be immigrants.  Best I can tell most of my family came from Germany well over a century ago.  But I'm not a German, never been there, don't really want to go.  I'm an American.  Let's start calling ourselves that instead of this ridiculous Nation of Immigrants nonsense.

And I don't buy Andy McCarthy's saying we have a '"nation of immigrants' self image.'  I certainly don't.  I don't know anyone who does.  It's what we're told, we're expected to believe it, but I know nothing of having an immigrant past, and know only one person ... who does.  We're ceding too much of the argument when we give in to this 'nation of immigrants' notion.  We need to be talking about being Americans.
That's a point of view we don't hear half enough of.  My own impression from readings in American history and literature is that (a) in most times and regions, Americans have hardly thought about immigration at all, and (b) when they did so, it was mainly to wish for less of it—as 66 percent did in the April '06 Zogby poll quoted here.
Posted on 06/06/2007 11:08 AM by John Derbyshire

Wednesday, 06 June 2007


C'mon, Derb, 'a null set' is perfectly fine from the point of view of a regular mathematician, it is only the fussy logicians who insist on 'the null set' because the axioms of Extensionality and Foundation produce a set-theoretic universe with nice METAmathematical properties.

REAL mathematicians work with the integers as atoms (viz. Kronecker) and do not regard 3 as { {}, {{}}, { {}, {{}} } }. They also do not regard (x,y) as { {x}, {x,y} }.

I'll tell you, it means an awful lot to have a President who knows the basics of logic. Romney clearly does, Giuliani does, and Fred Thompson obviously does. This makes them capable of making progress with public opinion against the MSM headwind that overwhelms ordinary politicians.

From the point of view of a professionally trained logician, I can tell you that the best logician in public life today, by a significant margin, is Antonin Scalia. Reading his opinions produces some of the same enjoyment that can be obtained from a fine and rigorous mathematical exposition.
Yeah, yeah.  Though in fairness to Romney, he may have been trying to resurrect the Ramified Theory of Types, in which, IMS, "a null set" is permissible.
Posted on 06/06/2007 11:05 AM by John Derbyshire

Wednesday, 06 June 2007

It has been predicted here before that this will be an all-Tennessee race: Thompson vs. Gore. Thompson will rise and rise, as others stumble and fall. He is the Other Candidate. Declared, but still Waiting In the Wings, but on everyone's mind. He will say -- he has already  said -- some of the right things about the menace of Islam. He is asymptotically approaching the truth, and needs to declare that the "victory" in Iraq cannot be achieved by remaining but by withdrawing, and there are all kinds of clever and palatable ways to say that. He has said in homespun style about immigration that "this is our home" and we have a right to decide who comes into our home. These are the two big issues for those calling themselves Republicans: the right way to fight the world-wide Jihad, and checking its major instruments (the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, demographic conquest). Thompson is well-placed to deal with this.

And Gore? Well, Mother Nature is going to collaborate with Gore. It is up to no good, having been so savagely mistreated by Man, and especially by men animated by the polypragmonic impulse, an impulse revealed in the belief of some that they can transplant democracy and transform countries, heedless of history, and can use or abuse the earth because Nature, you see, is to be tamed, even conquered -- a view that may have once made a certain kind of sense but does so no longer. When those glaciers melt, when that heat wave hits Europe with even greater force this summer, when the hurricane season comes again, Gore's hour will come round again at last. Hillary Clinton will be perceived as Lady Macbeth, and that scandal -- that all the candidates are staying carefully away from because so many of them are tainted in the same way, the one involving the surpassing rapacity of the Clintons ($40 billion to Bill Clinton in the last few years), as demonstrated by the little business with Vinod Gupta and infoSystems (google "Vinod Gupta" and "Hillary Clinton"), which scandal has not been mentioned by a single one of the present Democratic candidates, but which must be discussed, and Gore, so ill-treated by the Clintons (the parvenus whose "friends" are all  at the Burkle or Gupta level of wealth), is in a position to do it. And he should, or at least let the word get out through the press that he has been "scandalized" by the "rapacity of the Clintons." He can return to the Environmental Issue, apologizing for his de-emphasizing the matter in the 2000 election.

Now what about vice-presidential candidates? For Thompson, let it be Tom Tancredo. He is, rightly, identified with the immigration problem, and the problem of a country's cultural continuity. If he helps to defeat the awful Bush Administration bill, that will help him. And if that awful bill is passed, over the wishes of a majority of this country (but not of the plutocrats who are, in both parties, cushioned against the immediate, though not the long-term, effects of 12 million illegal immigrants, and who if they are rich enough to batten on the cut-rate services of those illegal immigrants -- those gardeners, nannies, and other kinds of household or low-level service jobs that the well-off take advantage of, not to mention large corporations (agribusiness, walmartish giant stores, hotel chains, and so on), but the non-well-off, as they lose what "cultural continuity" this country may be said to possess, and the idea of America becomes dissolves further into a merely geographical designation, and those "pursuing a dream," which dream is always defined in  impoverished economic terms, reflecting the Wall-Street-Journal view of what America is or should be all about.

There is the height problem. Thompson is 6 feet 7 inches. Tancredo is the shortest, apparently, of the candidates. So what? Let them make Mutt-and-Jeff jokes themselves. It's fine.

And Gore? Who should be his candidate? Who is solid on Iraq, on the vacuity of Iraq, and who cannot be treated with disdain by those quick to impugn patriotism? Whose son in a Marine in Iraq? Who fought in Vietnam? Whose father was in Korea? Whose grandfather was in World War II? Who, finally, has shown in his televised answer to the State of the Union Speech that  he is alarmed by what is happening to those below the plutocratic level in our country, that he is not a clinton-like fan of "globalisation" according to which the only thing that matters is Ricardo's Comparative Advantage, that the low-cost producer, whatever the real cost in damage to a country, must always win out, must always be allowed to win out, even if that low-cost producer of everything in sight happens to be in China. That vice-presidential candidate is James Webb. He cannot be impugned by flag-waving "patriots" who have showed over the last few years a dismal willingness to impugn intelligent opponents of the war in Iraq, who should not be mistaken for those opposed because they are unapologetic appeasers of Islam. He can give as good as he gets, and then some.

And Webb can pick up, as Tancredo can, the theme described by Thomas Gray, that must be repeated again and again, because it happens to be true:

Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey/Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.

Come to think of it, this applies not only to the United States, but to all those now eagerly enaged in the international economic rat-race, and whose jockeying for supremacy causes not only men to decay, but Nature itself, in which case not only the rapacious, but those who would have acted otherwise, who never accepted the bright fundamentalist faith in the so-called Free Market, who did not think that "getting rich is sublime" as the Chinese motto has it, and who are indignant over the destruction of the American middle class and the  banana-republic-like extremes of wealth in this country, and the constant celebration of the wisdom, the greatness, and... oh yes, the sheer generosity, of the very rich. (And what will Bill Gates say in his Commencement speech at Harvard? And isn't the choice of such a speaker, as This Year's Great Man, telling?

Gore and Webb together can discuss that maldistributiion of wealth, that gigantism, as neither HIllary Clinton, nor Barack Obama (who so singularly failed to attack Hillary Clinton, or her husband, for their rapacity -- could his own $900,000 take last year, or the promise of much much more to come on some future lecture circuit whether or not he is the candidate, be inhibiting him?) have the ability to do so. After all, the friends of HIllary and Bill Clinton are, and for some time have been, limited to the very rich. Clinton supported globalisation, was and is a True Believer, and has not been able to see what damage it is doing in this country, not to an abstraction called "the economy." And even if the Stock Market does swimmingly -- an American company's stock may go up if it moves entire plants abroad, or buys more parts from China -- that is not necessarily good news for all. Bill Clinton's flim-flam gladhanding gadabouting frenetic activity, including that modestly-named Clinton Global Initiative, does not impress. It is part of the general hectic vacancy, the celebrity fundraising, the self-aggrandizement, the everything-that-is-wrong-with-everything, different aspects of which  Bill Clinton, and George Bush, and Jimmy Carter, so perfectly embody. Gore and Webb and Thompson and Tancredo are all outside that mess. And not  one of them looks like a Stepford Husband, or acts like one.  

So: Gore-Webb versus Thompson-Tancredo. And may the best Tennesseean win.

Posted on 06/06/2007 10:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Wednesday, 06 June 2007

The Frenchman, however, could truthfully describe the evening, and most of the participants, as "nul."

One can well imagine what Bertrand Russell, one of the two authors of "Principia Mathematica," and the sole author of "Why I Am Not a Christian," would say of the performance of those referring to their deep religious faith, indeed wearing that "faith" on their sleeve (but what if the sleeve is part of the Emperor's New Clothes?) as if this were a sine qua non for a president: "Balderdash." Russell would have been particularly appalled by the implication, on the part of some of those present, that the main qualification for a presidential candidate was tough-minded managerial experience, which if taken to its logical extreme would lead one to demand as the candidate the efficient, hardworking, but uninspiring Mayor Bloomberg, who wasn't on the podium, and isn't a candidate. For, it was more than hinted, isn't a President merely the most important C.E.O. of all, bringing brisk business-like ways of thought, ways of looking at the world, ways of looking at a country and that country's employees the hyper-efficiency, the cost savings, the trimming of fat, the better returns for the real stockholders (alas, we can't all afford to be stockholders, not even if there is an employee stock-buying plan encouraged by the management)?

And what would the other author of "Principia Mathematica," Alfred North Whitehead, have said about the evening and some (not all) of the candidates? I think I know, but let me take a look in Lucien Price's "The Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead" to find supporting evidence.

And the whole event? What does it tell us about the assumed complexity of the issues, and the assumed attention span of the audience? What moronic simplification of the first, what condescension toward the second, by CNN and its "News Team" to which a self-satisfied Wolf Blitzer referred to more than once. Those one-minute answers, officiously clocked by that same Wolf Blitzer. That three-minute "follow-up." When Lincoln and Douglas went at it, each could speak for five hours. Without notes. Without teleprompter. Without Wolf Blitzer.

During the French election, Segolene Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy conducted a dignified television debate, in which they did the talking, and the moderator hardly mattered. Last night, on American television, the unedifying spectacle -- in which as much time was given to whether or not Lewis Libby should be pardoned as to whether or not the continued American presence in Iraq made sense -- showed, just as the "debate" among the Democrats showed, what is wrong with American political life, and the degradation of the democratic dogma. There is a lesson here. All kinds of lessons.

Posted on 06/06/2007 9:37 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Wednesday, 06 June 2007
Posted today by Anglicans for Israel. As I have words spoken with the Federation of Certified Light Bulb Changers over the publicity they have given to the demonstration “Enough” I am pleased to see some reasoned challenge being mounted.
A group called “Dayenu!” will be demonstrating in London in support of Israel on June 9. This is in response to a planned anti-Israeli march by ‘Enough’.
The Dayenu demonstration is organised by Jonathan Hoffman of Totteridge (Sarelnik and veteran campaigner). Mr Hoffman said “Our group includes Jews, Christians, people of other faiths and indeed of no faith. The one thing we have in common is that we cannot bear the thought of thousands of misinformed and misled marchers on the streets of our capital city with free rein to attack Israel . Our name - ‘Dayenu’ - is in response to ‘Enough’.
We also say ‘Enough’ - enough lies, enough Kassams, enough anti-Zionism, enough anti-Semitism, enough boycotts, enough blinkered attacks on Israel regardless of what is happening elsewhere in the world. We are expecting 50 or more and we will be telling the “Enough!” marchers the truth - how Israel is prepared to exchange land for a secure peace but also how Israel gave back Gaza, only to be rewarded with Kassam rockets raining down on Sderot.
The demonstration will be from 2.30pm at the junction of Arundel Street and The Strand. Police permission has been granted and the police will ensure that public order is maintained.
I somehow doubt that it will be Dayenu causing any problems . . .
Posted on 06/06/2007 9:17 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Wednesday, 06 June 2007

Megan Stack has a good article in the LA Times about her experiences covering Saudi Arabia where she found no sympathy for her feelings of resentment at the forced second-class treatment of women:

...I spent my days in Saudi Arabia struggling unhappily between a lifetime of being taught to respect foreign cultures and the realization that this culture judged me a lesser being. I tried to draw parallels: If I went to South Africa during apartheid, would I feel compelled to be polite?

I would find that I still saw scraps of Saudi Arabia everywhere I went. Back home in Cairo, the usual cacophony of whistles and lewd coos on the streets sent me into blind rage. I slammed doors in the faces of deliverymen; cursed at Egyptian soldiers in a language they didn't speak; kept a resentful mental tally of the Western men, especially fellow reporters, who seemed to condone, even relish, the relegation of women in the Arab world....

Posted on 06/06/2007 9:13 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Wednesday, 06 June 2007

Tuning in a bit late to the GOP debate last night (I rated dinner with the family as more important) I missed this from Mitt Romney:

MR. FAHEY: ... Governor Romney, I wanted to start by asking you a question on which every American has formed an opinion. We've lost 3,400 troops; civilian casualties are even higher, and the Iraqi government does not appear ready to provide for the security of its own country. Knowing everything you know right now, was it a mistake for us to invade Iraq?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, the question is kind of a non sequitur, if you will, and what I mean by that — or a null set.

And then again, a couple of minutes later:

MR. ROMNEY: Well, I answered the question by saying it's a — it's a non sequitur, it's a null set kind of question...

A null set!  I'd like to congratulate Mitt Romney on being the first to introduce a term from mathematical set theory into a presidential campaign... except that he plainly has no clue what "null set" actually means.  If he DID have any clue, he'd know to say "THE null set," not "A null set."

Posted on 06/06/2007 8:43 AM by John Derbyshire

Wednesday, 06 June 2007

They don't like the Olympic logo at Harry's Place either. It has been described as "Lisa Simpson doing a Monica Lewinsky":


Posted on 06/06/2007 8:22 AM by Mary Jackson

Wednesday, 06 June 2007

More mush from Blair:

"When I have met groups of Muslims, especially younger ones... of course the normal issues about foreign policy arise. But actually the predominant complaint is about how they believe their true faith is constantly hijacked and subverted by small, unrepresentative groups who get disproportionately large amounts of publicity."

Blair started this line himself, without any prompting from Muslims, about how the "true faith" is "constantly hijacked" and "subverted," immediately after the 9/11/2001 attacks. He let it be known that he carried a Qur'an with him, that he had read and re-read it,  that he realized  that Islam was a great and peaceful religion that "had been hijacked" etc. No mention, ever, of the Hadith or sira. No mention of "naskh." No mention, ever, of Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Ibn Warraq or for that matter Anwar Shaikh (in Wales) or many other articulate apostates. No, just vaporings about Islam that continue, unapologetically,  to this day.

In the United States, at the height of the collective hasty enthusiasm for "taking the battle to the enemy" ini Iraq,  regarded Blair as  a little Churchill when he was always a variant on Chamberlain. For the spirit of Chamberlain need not be found only in those who sign treaties in Munich; it can be found in those who, having had every opportunity, and the duty, to learn about Islam, which means all those who have the task of instructing and protecting others (which is why civilian and military leaders at the federal and state levels, and teachers, and members of the security services including local police,) do not do so, do not discover much beyond what a cursory reading of a confusing  and incondite Qur'an can tell them,  so that the doctrine of "naskh," and the useful Qur'anic commentaries, are not brought to bear, and as for the Sunna -- as recorded in Hadith and sira -- they are ignored altogether, so that the central role of Muhammad, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil, and the details of Muhammad's life, are overlooked, and Islam becomes reduced it an ignorant reading, an inevitable misreading, of the Qur'an, and a hopeless misunderstanding, therefore, of Islam. Those who have a duty to instruct and protect us have now a special duty, as well,  to find out much more about Islam, to not only read, but to understand, Qur'an, Hadith, and sira, and to know about the history of Jihad-conquest, over 1350 years, and about the history of the treatment of non-Muslims (Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, and all others) under Muslim rule. This is not optional, not facultatif, but required. For those in such positions must be implacable, and must remain invulneralbe to the torrents of propaganda, some of it a reflection of ignorance, or of fear of what learning the truth might then imply about the nature, and size, and duration, of the menace, and therefore about the kind of responses that make sense.

Blair's vaporings on Islam have outdone even those of Bush and Rice. Cheney presents a slightly different case. For Cheney has not uttered such nonsense, he has relentlessly pushed a policy in Iraq that is based, in the end, on a variant of this naiveté and foolishness. For had Cheney understood Islam, instead of merely seeming to be more realistic in his refusal to gush in the Blair and Bush manner about it, then he would have understood the need to diminish the Muslim Money Weapon, expose and work to undermine in every way its campaigns of Da'wa to get more recruits within the Lands of the Infidels, among the psychically and economically marginal, and reverse the Muslim presence that was negligently permitted to grow and grow, in Dar al-Harb, he would have advanced different policies. But instead of this, having embarked on the Iraq venture, which was legitimate if, indeed, there was reason to believe that Saddam Hussein had, or could soon acquire, weapons of mass destruction (his being a despot was not enough -- there are plenty of despots all over the world) and neither Iraq, nor any other Muslim state (no need to prove, as the Administration naively thought, an "Al Qaeda" connection -- no Muslim state can be allowed to acquire such weaponry, or if it has acquired it, to be permitted to acquire adequate means of delivery if there seems to be no way to force that state to give up -- the way several former Soviet republics were persuaded to do, their nuclear weapons), and the way Qaddafy was forced to give up his admittedly failing efforts at producing chemical and nuclear weapons, Cheney has allowed the nation to become mired in the tarbaby of Iraq.

Instead, Cheney supports --without the accompanying patter about Islam of which an example is given above -- the notion that by installing a Good Government instead of a Bad Government, in Iraq, by fulfilling what the polypragmonic Bush thinks is the American Duty, to "spread freedom" everywhere because, you see, "everyone wants freedom" (an idiotic assertion, completely baseless), and this assumed universal longing, once assuaged in Iraq, to which American boys and American hundreds of billions ($880 billion and counting, more than the total cost of all the wars, save World War II, in which the United States has ever fought), this bringing of "freedom" to "ordinary moms and dads" in one part of the Middle East, will create, in Iraq, a country famous, even among the Arabs, for its violence) will in turn create a Light Unto the (Sunni) Arab Nations (delighted, as they will be, with a Shi'a-ruled Iraq). Oh, it was idiotic. It had nothing about it that made sense.

But Cheney, and the sentimentalist Bush, are sticking with it. And Blair, a sentimentalist out of ignorance and out of fear, does his stuff at a phony conference, where a few invited semi-plausible Muslims, who could nod sagely, and agree that "Islam" had been "hijacked" by a small number and It Was Time To Take Islam Back.

Oh god. Not even Tariq Ramadan, who was invited to this farce, would participate -- it would expose him to too much ridicule from fellow Muslims, who believe that, after all, there is a limit. But Blair, brave Tony Blair, honest Tony Blair, positively Churchillian Tony Blair -- for Blair, for Tony Blair, for Anthony Blair, there is no limit.

Posted on 06/06/2007 8:03 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Wednesday, 06 June 2007
Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year, a study by The Times has found. The name, if all 14 different spellings are included, was shared by 5,991 newborn boys last year, beating Thomas into third place, followed by Joshua and Oliver.
Muhammad Anwar, Professor of Ethnic Relations at Warwick University, said: “Muslim parents like to have something that shows a link with their religion or with the Prophet.”
Although the official names register places the spelling Mohammed at No 23, an analysis of the top 3,000 names provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) puts Muhammad at No 2 once the 14 spellings are taken into account. If its popularity continues – it rose by 12 per cent last year – the name will take the top spot by the end of this year. It first entered the Top 30 in 2000.
The spelling Muhammad, like all transliterations, comes from replacing the Arabic script with what is deemed its closest Latin equivalent. There are many versions in Britain, depending on where the family are from and variations in pronounciation.
Muhammad, which means “one who is praiseworthy”, is often given to boys as an honorary prefix and is followed by the name by which they are commonly known. It is regularly cited as the most common name in the world, though there is no concrete evidence.
Mufti Abdul Barkatullah, a former imam at the Finchley mosque in northwest London, said: “Parents who name their son Muhammad believe that the name has an effect on their personality and future characteristics. They are saying that this boy will be of good character.  Some people may not really understand the history of the Prophet Muhammad (its time they did!) and the name but they still want the association so they can be recognised as one of his followers.  
“In Arab countries, the name Muhammad is said when you don’t know the name of someone. On the sub-continent, it is different: Muhammad can be used either before or after another name.  When you get to the UK, it is essentially about translating the sound of the Arabic into English. A nonArab Muslim would have the name ending in -ed while an Arab Muslim would adopt the -ad ending.”
Overall, Muslims account for 3 per cent of the British population, about 1.5 million people. However, the Muslim birthrate is roughly three times higher than the nonMuslim one.
Statistics from the ONS show that Muslim households are larger than those headed by someone of another religion. In 2001, the average size of a Muslim household was 3.8 people while a third contained more than five people.
According to data from CACI Information Solutions, men who are named Muhammad are 5½ times more likely to go on holiday in Asia and twice as likely to live in Yorkshire than most other people.
Additionally, a man named Muhammad is most likely to be aged between 25 and 34 and to have an average salary of £25,000.
The leading name for girls born to Muslim parents in 2006 was Aisha, in 110th place. Its meaning is “wife of the Prophet” or “life”.  So what was the poor little mites name for the 6 short years of her childhood before she was married to 52 year old Mohammed of the many spellings?
The different spellings of Muhammad in 2006 and the number of occurrences
Mohammed 2,833; Muhammad 1,422; Mohammad 920; Muhammed 358; Mohamed 354; Mohamad 29; Mahammed 18; Mohammod 13; Mahamed 12; Muhammod 9; Muhamad 7; Mohmmed 6 ;Mohamud 5; Mohammud 5.
Posted on 06/06/2007 2:44 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Tuesday, 05 June 2007

In the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, along with the  fresco by Simone Martini of Guidoriccio da Fogliano, that famous warrior on horseback, now to be found on ashtrays and mugs everywhere, is the less-known allegory, by Ambrogio Lorenzetti,  the fresco of Il Buon Governo e il Mal Governo. Under good government (Il Buon Governo) by the wise ruler or members of a council,  the farmers and merchants flourish, townsman and countryman are at peace. Under bad government (Il Mal Governo) both countryside and town are in ruin.  There are more examples that come to mind of the latter than of the former all over what used to be called "the Third World":  in Zimbabwe, in Pakistan, in Algeria, in Syria, in Iraq, in all kinds of places that the advanced countries seem to think they have an obligation to support or help through  a transfer of wealth and know-how, but under no conditions are they, those advanced countries, to identify, much less suggest a way to treat, the real sources of that Mal Governo.

This is most ovbiously true in the case of the "Palestinians," for many decades practically made the center of world attention by the U.N., and its assorted succursales,  the recipients of limitless amounts of aid through UNRWA and, more recently, by the disguised Jizyah of foreign aid from Infidel taxpayers. Billions have gone, billions have disappeared, especially with the death of Arafat, who had secreted all kinds of money in all kinds of places. Suha Arafat now lives in Paris, and enjoys hundreds of billons in Western taxpayers' money' Mahmoud Abbas and other long-term PLO cronies of Arafat have squirreled away their own sums, in real estate in Western Europe and in bank accounts; a few have even plowed money into villas in the "West Bank," but generally, keep the money they manage to divert for their own uses in the West, where many of their children go to live, to be free of the self-created hell of the "Palestinian territories" -- the name given to unallocated parts, the Arab-occupied parts, of the Mandate for Palestine. 

While the Western world waits eagerly to renew the Jizyah (Norway just couldn't wait, and has turned on the spigot, Hamas or no Hamas, again) to the "Palestinians," fellow Arabs and Muslims give nothing,  except to provide rewards to the families of suicide bombers, or to help buy more arms. Indeed, ever since 1948 the Arab countries have done as much as they can not to integrate the Arabs who were, after all, only leaving "Palestine" because they knew those five Arab armies would triumph, and who were never really "refugees" in the classic sense, fleeing persecution, and in any case, one does not anywhere else call someone who is the child or grandchild of someone who leaves Country A for Country B (is the son of someone who fled Germany in 1933, but is born in New York in 1948, a "German refugee"? is the grandson of someone who left Soviet Russia in 1922, but now lives in London, a "Russian refugee" or is he an Englishman and "the grandson of Russian refugees"? We know the answer to that. Why should there be a unique case, that of the "Palestinians" who forever, until the end of time, are to be described as "refugees"? Why are we not to insist that the Arab states not integrate those who are identical to them in language, culture and above all, belief-system, and stop holding the world hostage to the Arab Muslim desire to keep such people permanentlly hostage to Islamic fervor, and the desire to eventually wipe out the Infidel state of Israel, whatever its ludicrously tiny size, and -- to those not maddened by Muslim resentment -- entirely inoffensive, indeed to an observer unaffected by certain widespread mental pathologies, in most ways admirable, heroic, inspiring, tragic) Instead the Arab states prevent  those "Palestinians" in their own lands from acquiring citizenship and the rights of citizenship, thereby keeping them to serve as the objects of international sympathy -- diseased sympathy -- and as the revanchist shock-troops of Islam in the Lesser Jihad against Israel. These "Palestinians" are encouraged by the activities at the U.N. of what may be called the Islamintern International, encouraged by the coverage of the BBC and other handmaidens of Arab and Muslim apologists, are  encouraged to wallow in their self-pity mingled with murderous hatred and preparations for war, and making war, as best they can. But even the "Palestinians" under the "Palestinian Authority," experienciing their own, homegrown, Muslim Lords of Misrule, exhibiting the violence and aggression and irrationality that Islam encourages, cannot deny that the so-called "Occupier" Israel offered them, much as they hate to admit it but are finally driven to do so, Good Government. Il Buon Governo, to the Mal Governo that societies suffused with Islam, no matter how much aid they receive, will naturally tend to, everywhere.

 From an article in The New Duranty Times today, on those "Palestinians":

"In early June, MEMRI, the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute, published translated excerpts from articles by Palestinian columnists breaking a political taboo by pointing out one positive aspect of Israeli occupation.

One journalist quoted by MEMRI, Majed Azzam, wrote in the Hamas-affiliated weekly Al Risala in Gaza that Palestinians “should have the courage to acknowledge the truth” that the only thing that “prevents the chaos and turmoil in Gaza from spreading to the West Bank is the presence of the Israeli occupation.”

Another Palestinian writer, Bassem al-Nabris, a poet from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, wrote on the Arabic news Web site Elaph that if there was a referendum in the Gaza Strip on the question of whether people would like the Israeli occupation to return, “half the population would vote ‘yes.’ ”

“But in practice,” Mr. Nabris continued, “I believe that the number of those in favor is at least 70 percent, if not more.”

“If the occupation returns,” he added, “at least there will be no civil war, and the occupier will have a moral and legal obligation to provide the occupied people with employment and food, which they now lack.”

Posted on 06/05/2007 8:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Tuesday, 05 June 2007
In killer heels and little else, they have a definite deadly charm. But the risque images of women that have decorated warplanes since the First World War have been scrubbed out.
The Ministry of Defence has decreed they could offend the RAF's female personnel.
Officials admitted they had no record of any complaints from the 5,400 women in the RAF.
But commanders are erring firmly on the side of caution and "nose art", as it is known, has been consigned to the history books.
Harrier jump jet bombers currently launching daily airstrikes against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan have been scrubbed clean to comply with the orders.
Critics said the MoD should be focusing on more important issues - such as the quality and quantity of equipment available to British forces sent off to war.
Nose art . . .  enjoyed a golden age during the Second World War when thousands of American fighters and bombers were decorated with pictures of glamorous women.  Many RAF units picked up the practice from the Americans.
The decision to ban the images followed a visit by glamour models to southern Afghanistan before Christmas. During the trip they signed paintings of themselves on RAF aircraft. Commanders decided the images were sexist and insisted there was no place for them in the modern armed forces.
There was also concern that they could cause offence in a muslim country where until 2001 all women were forced to wear the head-to-toe burkha in public.
Glamour model Lucy Pinder, 23, who visited the RAF detachment at Kandahar last November and signed a painting of herself on a Harrier jet, said such images were only "harmless fun".
Conservative MP Phillip Davies said: "Has the MoD really got nothing better to worry about at a time when there are serious concerns over equipment and resources available to our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan?"
I have never been a fan of the cruder sort of nude lads mag type photos but there is something old fashioned about this sort of Vargas style art work, saucy rather than sleazy, fun not filth, that I rather like. When I rode pillion and could fit into my bike leather I wore a Frank Thomas B52 jacket with a rather fetching young lady inside, who sadly I didn't resemble in the slightest.


Model Michelle Marsh signing a 'regulation' silhouetted image of herself on a Harrier plane during her Afghanistan trip.

I think Memphis Belle above is a vintage aeroplane. Most of the recent pictures and more, including Dennis the Menace, Dangermouse and the weakest link can be seen on the official RAF/MOD site here.  Historical examples on the Imperial War Museum site here. Further information here.

Posted on 06/05/2007 5:49 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Tuesday, 05 June 2007

Excuse me if someone has already posted this Mickey Kaus piece, but it seems to me to strike unusually deep into Bush psychology.

Posted on 06/05/2007 5:36 PM by John Derbyshire

Tuesday, 05 June 2007

Thanks, Hugh, for linking to this song.

I first heard this wonderful tune, and the all the better for being less than grammatical construction, a long time ago while watching the commercial break during Coronation Street. (I have a very good and mainly pointless memory for advertising jingles.) An advert came on for an Access credit card (now part of Mastercard). Someone was going from shop to shop singing "Does you do or does you don't take Access?"

I thought this line was suspiciously good for an advertising man to come up with - it can certainly knock that potted meat malarkey into a cocked hat - and, this being pre-Google, I had to ask my mother, who said the tune was from that song: "Is you is or is you ain't my baby?"

"Does you do or does you don't take Access?" was far better than "If anyone can, Canon can," the next best slogan of its kind.

Is you is or is you ain't?

Does you do or does you don't?

I can't think of anything comparable. Can anyone?

Can you can or can you can't?

Posted on 06/05/2007 5:19 PM by Mary Jackson

Tuesday, 05 June 2007
One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows a bunch of Wall Street broker and trader types fleeing in panic from a building in which you can see the ticker-tape banner ( i.e. electronic quotes) saying "Mene Mene..."
Posted on 06/05/2007 4:48 PM by John Derbyshire

Tuesday, 05 June 2007

"Diversity is Beautiful, we are all Children of One God. I know you believe that."-- a Muslim reader, sensing that Islam is on the run and it's time to try a new tack

Spare us the treacle. Spare us the bomfoggery. We can read the Qur'an, the Hadith, the sira. We can examine the behavior of the man Muslims revere as uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil. We can study the past 1350 years of Jihad-conquest, and the treatment of Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists and others under Muslim rule, a rule under which Muslims killed tens of millions of non-Muslims (perhaps 70 million Hindus alone), and by imposing a status of humiliation, degradation, and physical insecurity, slowly or quickly caused a steady reduction, in lands once entirely populated by non-Muslims, in the non-Muslim population, with the results we all see in the Middle East and North Africa, and to a less dramatic and obvious extent, in Indonesia (what happened to all those Hindus? And those Buddhists? All just couldn't withstand the irresistible charm of Islam? Is that it?) and in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and parts of India.

And we can read the evening news, and find out still more about what is happening to Buddhists in southern Thailand, or Hindus in Bangladesh, or Christians in Indonesia, or Christians in the southern Sudan or northern Nigeria. We don't even need to pay attention to what is happening within our own, Western world, currently hoist by its own petard of "tolerance" and the "diversity" you so simperingly invoke.

Cut the crap.

Posted on 06/05/2007 4:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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