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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 22, 2006.
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Smart School of Fish

From The Times

Fish are not the brainless dolts they are often assumed to be. Scientists have discovered that they are actually adept learners, with distinct personalities that change as they pick up information about the world.

The popular notion that fish memories are measured in seconds has been exposed as a myth by research which showed that rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) remember experiences so well that they alter their behaviour in line with what they learn.

The study, led by Lynne Sneddon of the University of Liverpool, found that individual trout display very different characters — some are bold and inquisitive; others are shy and passive.  The discovery that trout behaviour changes in response to experience shows clearly that the fish are not stupid, but rather that they are good at learning. “That is a bit of a myth, the idea that fish remember only for seconds,” Dr Sneddon said. “Studies have shown that fish can rememeber for anything up to three years, and current thinking in fish biology is that fish are very diverse in behaviour within any population. Rainbow trout certainly have contrasting personalities. Some are bold and some are shy . . . "

I have met some queer fish in my time, but it takes a University study to confirm what any angler who has ever parryed with the same cunning pike, season after season, has always known.

Posted on 11/22/2006 2:20 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Parent power - don't mess with us.

From the BBC

Parents have forced a school trip to a mosque to be abandoned because they did not want their children exposed to a religion that was not their own. A class of 10-year-olds at Atwood Primary, Croydon, south London, were due to tour Croydon Mosque as part of their religious education lessons.

Head teacher Alex Clark said some parents did not want their children to experience a religion that was not their own, others thought the pupils were too young and some preferred them to spend time on other subjects. Mr Clark said: "The withdrawal of a significant minority of pupils unfortunately made continuation of the visit unviable. This was done wholly on financial grounds."  (If enough parents don't pay for use of coach, or fares +insurance, and enough volunteer to accopmany the trip to provide a safe child/adult ratio  etc then trips  cannot take place, so we do have power to make our views matter, even in a PC environment) 

 Leaders of Croydon Mosque were featured speaking out against the radicalisation of young Muslims on BBC's Newsnight programme on 14 November. Shuaib Yusaf, a spokesman for the Croydon Mosque & Islamic Centre, said it has hosted a number of school trips in the past.

He went on: "It is therefore regretful that one school has cancelled a prearranged visit in light of the media attention currently focussed upon the mosque. Amongst the reasons cited to the mosque is that some parents do not wish their children to visit a mosque at the centre of "radical" activities.  Croydon Mosque & Islamic Centre is an old established mosque that provides a range of community based services to 18,000 Muslims in the London Borough of Croydon amongst others, and is not engaged in any 'radical' activities.

We are getting their measure, slowly but surely.

Posted on 11/22/2006 4:45 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Society of People Who Never...

The Telegraph has started a new trend – the trend of not following a trend:

It was Groucho Marx who best summed up that nagging feeling we all periodically suffer from: that we don't really like the rest of mankind.

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members," he said.

Today, The Daily Telegraph, inspired by our readers, launches a new club for people who, like Marx, want to stand out from the crowd and are strongly inclined to go against prevailing fashions.

They do not buy iPods because their neighbours have them, and they certainly do not "drizzle" truffle oil on their carpaccio because Nigella Lawson tells them to.

It was Bryan Dixon of Winchester, Hants, who started it. Sorely provoked by the wall-to-wall praise from the media for the new West End production of The Sound of Music, he wrote to The Daily Telegraph in clarion tones:

"Now is the time to bring to the attention of music lovers The Society of People Who have Not Seen The Sound of Music and Have No Intention of Doing So. I believe that I am the only member of this society."

His letter was published last Friday and it quickly became clear that he was not alone at all. The letter was a lodestone and, ever since, readers have deluged our website and letters page.

Not only have they written in about Rodgers and Hammerstein's singing nuns, but to declare their intense dislike of many other modern cultural icons, modes of behaviour or consumer wizardry.

Gathering themselves around the umbrella of what we have decided to call The Society of People Who Never... they variously say that they have never visited Ikea and never intend to.

Nor have they drunk Coca-Cola, worn denim jeans, seen The Mousetrap, liked The Beatles, worn a baseball cap, owned a mobile phone, eaten in a cinema, been to a disco in Ibiza, seen a Star Wars film, eaten Pot Noodles, had a body piercing, finished a D H Lawrence novel or found Little Britain funny.

Is this extraordinary outpouring of antipathy just the 21st century version of the "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" letter to The Daily Telegraph? Are these readers simply Grumpy Old Men?

We are more inclined to believe that despite, or because of, the nanny state, Britain is still a nation peopled by rebels with minds of their own.

Oscar Wilde had his own thoughts on this: "It is grossly selfish to require of one's neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he can not think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him."

Footballer Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne famously said: “I never make predictions and I never will.” Never say never is a good maxim. However, I can confidently predict that there is one trend I will never follow, which is worrying about food scares. I have never taken any notice of all the drivel that experts come out with about tea or coffee or wine being good or bad for you, and how we should all worry about BSE or salmonella. Life is too short.


And another thing – am I alone in thinking that Oscar Wilde, with his constant stream of witty apophthegms, was probably a bit of a bore? Such relentless brilliance is all very well on stage or in a book, but I suspect that if you had to spend much time with him you would want him to be a bit dull for a change.


No, I don’t think I want to join this club of mavericks.

Posted on 11/22/2006 5:18 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
An NER public service moment

Real men and women spend Thanksgiving Day putting up their Christmas lights.  Like these folk:

For startling variety go here.
Posted on 11/22/2006 5:28 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
A new reader writes

I've just found this website. I know who Derbyshire and the good prison doctor are, but not the rest of the crew here. The sanity on display here is so heartening to me, you have no idea. So, a few questions:

1) Who are you people?
2) What are you people?
3) May I please join the club?

Hugh Fitzgerald responds:

Thank you for the kind words.

The genius domus and gentille organisatrice and all-round wizard-behind-the-curtain of this website is Rebecca Bynum. So if you have something or some things that you wish to have considered, contact her either by email([email protected]) or, if you prefer, by regular mail. A picture postcard (if from England, then a boy fishing on The Wye, the White Horse of Uffington, the Round Church in Cambridge; if from America, then Jefferson's library at Monticello, the Alamo, the rude bridge at Concord) can be addressed to "Rebecca/Sunnybrook Farm/USA" and slipped into the slit of a postbox.

But email would be surer.

Posted on 11/22/2006 5:44 AM by NER
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Re: Society of People Who Never...

If you think mankind has socialization issues, check this out:  The whole world is gender biased

Conspiracy buffs would do well to begin theorizing by pointing their finger at Mother Nature (and please to submit findings in the Mother Tongue).
Posted on 11/22/2006 5:49 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 22 November 2006

MOGADISHU, Somalia — The president of a semiautonomous region in northeastern Somalia said Monday he will rule according to Islamic law, a surprising announcement in an area that has resisted the spread of Islamic militants who control much of the country's south. --from this news item

If this is a move meant to placate the Council of Islamic Courts it may or may not work. But who cares? Our only concern should be to divide and weaken Somalia, perhaps to see it in a state of permanent unrest and internecine warfare, using up whatever resources its people or petty rulers manage to obtain from this or that outside group of Muslim supporters. And with all immigration from Somalia barred, permanently -- given what has already been the unhappy result of the Somali communities from Lewiston, Maine, exhausting local welfare resources, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Somalis  refuse to pick up passengers at the airport if they are carrying duty-free liquor packages  but at other airports laughingly tell those they do pick up about their plural wives and dozen children on the American dole, and (now we are back in Minneapolis, Tenth Congressional District) vote in a pack for a CAIR-supported convert who may now bring his smiling/sinister message to Congress. .

Take every opportunity to allow Muslim natures --the natural aggression, the easy recourse to tribal and group warfare, solved only when a despot comes to power -- to take their course. Allow, by refusing to intervene, the growth and evolution of those attitudes that arise naturally in societies suffused with Islam. It's cost-effective. It's untroubling to observe. It's most instructive for those outside Infidels who need yet another Demonstration Project in the nature of Islam, and of states and peoples on Islam.

Posted on 11/22/2006 5:59 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Where Mark Steyn falls short

Fjordman takes on Mark Steyn's analysis of Islam at Gates of Vienna:

[...] he makes other assertions I strongly disagree with, such as indicating that the United States should remain in Iraq to spread democracy: “What does it mean when the world’s hyperpower, responsible for 40 percent of the planet’s military spending, decides that it cannot withstand a guerrilla war with historically low casualties against a ragbag of local insurgents and imported terrorists?”

Here, Mark Steyn is wrong, which indicates that he doesn’t fully understand Islam. The entire project of “spreading democracy” was a mistake from the very beginning, because democracy cannot be exported to an Islamic country such as Iraq. It is stupidity to waste hundreds of billions of dollars on Muslims while Islamization continues apace in the West.

Steyn also does not fully understand the issue of demography. Islamic countries are parasitical. Even the massive population growth is only an advantage as long as Muslims are allowed to export it to infidel lands. Deprived of this opportunity, and of Western aid, the Islamic world would quickly sink into a quagmire of overpopulation. This is a long-term solution, to demonstrate to Muslims the failure of Islam.

Read it all here.  (In his critique, Fjordman very much echoes Hugh Fitzgerald, who has been hammering away at the willful ignorance of Islam persistently displayed by Western elites.  If you know Fitzgerald, you already know Fjordman.)
Posted on 11/22/2006 6:57 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
It's not propaganda, it's show business

Troy Patterson has a glowing review of Al-Jazeera's new English channel up at Slate:

Others might have detected something propagandistic in the way the camera lingered on their blood-splattered faces, but it just looked liked old-fashioned tabloid style to me. The last couple days of Al Jazeera English suggest that its main bias is the universal one in favor of juicy drama...

Al Jazeera English is covering the world more deeply and broadly than U.S. television news does and with an even greater respect for the laws of show business.

Posted on 11/22/2006 7:00 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Are Mormons Christians?

Richard John Neuhaus explores Mormonism at First Things. Some excerpts:

To give a credible account of the sacred stories and truth claims is no easy task. Not to put too fine a point on it, the founding stories and doctrines of Mormonism appear to the outsider as a bizarre phantasmagoria of fevered religious imagination not untouched by perverse genius. Germinated in the "burnt–over district" of upstate New York in the early nineteenth century, where new religions and spiritualities produced a veritable rainforest of novel revelations, the claims of Joseph Smith represent a particularly startling twist of the kaleidoscope of religious possibilities. In 1831, Alexander Campbell, cofounder of the Disciples of Christ, said that Smith pasted together "every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years." Much of the teaching reflects the liberal Protestantism of the time, even the Transcendental and Gnostic fevers that were in the air: e.g., a God in process of becoming, progressive revelation, the denial of original sin, and an unbridled optimism about the perfectibility of man. Mix that in with the discovery of golden tablets written in a mysterious language, the bodily appearance of God the Father and Son, angelic apparitions, and a liberal dose of Masonic ritual and jargon, and the result is, quite simply, fantastic. The question, of course, is whether it is true...

Asking whether Mormonism is Christian or Mormons are Christians (a slightly different question) is thought to be insulting. "How can you ask that," protests a Mormon friend, "when we clearly love the Lord Jesus as much as we do?" It is true that St. Paul says that nobody can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). But that only indicates that aspects of Mormon faith are touched by the Holy Spirit, as is every element of truth no matter where it is found. A Mormon academic declares that asking our question "is a bit like asking if African Americans are human." No, it is not even a bit like that. "Christian" in this context is not honorific but descriptive. Nobody questions whether Mormons are human. To say that Jews, Muslims, or Buddhists are not Christians is no insult. It is a statement of fact, indeed of respect for their difference. The question is whether that is a fact and a difference that applies also to Mormonism.

The question as asked by Mormons is turned around: are non–Mormons who claim to be Christians in fact so? The emphatic and repeated answer of the Mormon scriptures and the official teaching of the LDS is that we are not. We are members of "the great and abominable church" that was built by frauds and impostors after the death of the first apostles. The true church and true Christianity simply went out of existence, except for its American Indian interlude, until it was rediscovered and reestablished by Joseph Smith in upstate New York, and its claims will be vindicated when Jesus returns, sooner rather than later, at a prophetically specified intersection in Jackson County, Missouri...

Beyond these doctrinal matters, as inestimably important as they are, one must ask what it means to be Christian if one rejects the two thousand year history of what in fact is Christianity. Christianity is inescapably doctrinal but it is more than doctrines. Were it only a set of doctrines, Christianity would have become another school of philosophy, much like other philosophical schools of the Greco–Roman world. Christianity is the past and present reality of the society composed of the Christian people. As is said in the Nicene Creed, "We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." That reality encompasses doctrine, ministry, liturgy, and a rule of life. Christians disagree about precisely where that Church is to be located historically and at present, but almost all agree that it is to be identified with the Great Tradition defined by the apostolic era through at least the first four ecumenical councils, and continuing in diverse forms to the present day. That is the Christianity that LDS teaching rejects and condemns as an abomination and fraud.

Yet Mormonism is inexplicable apart from Christianity and the peculiar permutations of Protestant Christianity in nineteenth–century America. It may in this sense be viewed as a Christian derivative. It might be called a Christian heresy, except heresy is typically a deviation within the story of the Great Tradition that Mormonism rejects tout court. Or Mormonism may be viewed as a Christian apostasy. Before his death in 1844, Joseph Smith was faced with many apostasies within the Mormon ranks, and since then there have been more than a hundred schisms among those who claim to be his true heirs. Still today LDS leaders quote Smith when censuring or excommunicating critics. For instance, this from Smith: "That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that man is in the high road to apostasy."

With respect to the real existing Christianity that is the Church, the words apply in spades to Joseph Smith. He knew, of course, that he was rejecting the Christianity of normative tradition, and he had an explanation. On the creation ex nihilo question, for instance, he declared only weeks before his death: "If you tell [critics] that God made the world out of something, they will call you a fool. But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow; and he is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him." By definition, he could not be apostate because he spoke for God. It is an answer, of sorts.

The history of Christianity, notably since the sixteenth–century Reformation, is littered with prophets and seers who have reestablished "the true church," usually in opposition to the allegedly false church of Rome, and then, later, in opposition to their own previously true churches. There are many thousands of such Christian groups today. Most of them claim to represent the true interpretation of the Bible. A smaller number lay claim to additional revelations by which the biblical witness must be "corrected." One thinks, for instance, of the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon. There are other similarities between Mormonism and the Unification Church, such as the emphasis on the celestial significance of marriage and family. According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, "Gods and humans are the same species of being, but at different stages of development in a divine continuum, and the heavenly Father and Mother are the heavenly pattern, model, and example of what mortals can become through obedience to the gospel."...

While it is a Christian derivative, the LDS is, by way of sharpest contrast, in radical discontinuity with historic Christianity. The sacred stories and official teachings of the LDS could hardly be clearer about that. For missionary and public relations purposes, the LDS may present Mormonism as an "add–on," a kind of Christianity–plus, but that is not the official narrative and doctrine...

Posted on 11/22/2006 7:30 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Re: Roundheads v Cavaliers – The Verdict

"There are two kinds of people – people who divide the world into two kinds of people and people who don’t."

The lawyers for the Estate of Robert Benchley request public acknowledgement of the source of this statement. Otherwise, a messy lawsuit looms.

Posted on 11/22/2006 7:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
If, like me, you were at some point in your life fascinated by the ideas of anti-psychiatrist Thomas Szasz (pronounced "Saass"), floruit 1960s, I recommend Jeffrey Oliver's excellent piece on Szasz in the current issue of The New Atlantis .  Among other things, it delivers the startling (to me) news that Szasz is still alive and still writing.

Szasz argued, approximately, that the term "mental illness" is at best a metaphor and at worst a job- and money-generating operation run by the Psychiatrists' Guild—that there is no such thing as mental illness, only degrees of unhappiness and eccentricity.  Yes, it was an extreme position; but it was one of those extreme positions that forced people, in their attempts to refute it, to think harder than they had before about the topic under discussion.

It wasn't that extreme, either.  There is still an awful lot of mumbo-jumbo in psychiatry.  The NY Times recently ran a story on the diagnosis of childhood "mental illnesses" like AHD.  The diagnoses are all over the place.  You need a subscription to read the piece, but here's the beginning:
November 11, 2006
What's Wrong With a Child? Psychiatrists Often Disagree
Paul Williams, 13, has had almost as many psychiatric diagnoses as birthdays.

The first psychiatrist he saw, at age 7, decided after a 20-minute
visit that the boy was suffering from depression.

A grave looking child, quiet and instinctively suspicious of others,
he looked depressed, said his mother, Kasan Williams. Yet it soon
became clear that the boy was too restless, too explosive, to be
suffering from chronic depression.

Paul was a gifted reader, curious, independent. But in fourth grade,
after a screaming match with a school counselor, he walked out of the
building and disappeared, riding the F train for most of the night
through Brooklyn, alone, while his family searched frantically.

It was the second time in two years that he had disappeared for the
night, and his mother was determined to find some answers, some

What followed was a string of office visits with psychologists,
social workers and psychiatrists. Each had an idea about what was
wrong, and a specific diagnosis: "Compulsive tendencies," one said.
"Oppositional defiant disorder," another concluded. Others said
"pervasive developmental disorder," or some combination.

Each diagnosis was accompanied by a different regimen of drug treatments.

By the time the boy turned 11, Ms. Williams said, the medical record
had taken still another turn - to bipolar disorder - and with it a
whole new set of drug prescriptions.

"Basically, they keep throwing things at us," she said, "and nothing
is really sticking."

At a time when increasing numbers of children are being treated for
psychiatric problems, naming those problems remains more an art than
a science. Doctors often disagree about what is wrong.

A child's problems are now routinely given two or more diagnoses at
the same time, like attention deficit and bipolar disorders. And
parents of disruptive children in particular - those who once might
have been called delinquents, or simply "problem children" - say they
hear an alphabet soup of labels that seem to change as often as a
child's shoe size....

Posted on 11/22/2006 7:52 AM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
The many instruments of jihad

"we are at war with Muslim terrorists who are acting in a straightforward manner on the tenets of their ideology."-- from a reader

But not just "Muslim terrorists" -- that is, not just with those whose preferred instrument of Jihad is terror.

No, we are at war with all those who promote Jihad, whatever the instruments they may employ. These include the "wealth weapon,"(as it is referred to in Muslim discussions of Jihad), "pen, tongue" (i.e., propaganda), campaigns of Da'wa, and of course, most important and most difficult to deal with given the suicidal lack of imagination and of self-confidence of most Infidels, demographic conquest.

All these matter. They matter as much as, no much more than, the "terror."

Posted on 11/22/2006 8:01 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Re: Smart School of Fish
Gives new and still richer meaning to Shakespeare's "groping for trout in a peculiar river."

See my forthcoming "A Harlot's Halieuticks."

It will be available in a few months at the bookstore on the Oppian Way.

Posted on 11/22/2006 8:07 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Brown U. update: Darwish re-invited

The Divine Ms MM reports:

Boston talk show host Michael Graham e-mailed earlier this evening with good news about Nonie Darwish:

"She just told me that Brown U. has backed down and re-issued an invitation for her to speak."

Posted on 11/22/2006 8:07 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Oh, Those Moderate Saudis
To recap the Al-Turki case:
In Aurora, Colorado, a man and his wife kept a 24-year-old Indonesian woman as a slave.  The man, Homaidan al-Turki, a member of an influential Saudi family, repeatedly raped her over a four-year period.  The wife was allowed to plead guilty to mere theft; after her 60-day sentence is up, she will be deported.  Thankfully, however, al-Turki was convicted by a jury of sexual assault, extortion, theft and false imprisonment. 

At his sentencing proceeding, al-Turki declined to apologize because, he said, he was engaged in "traditional Muslim behaviors" and thus did not commit any crimes.  The judge, engaging in traditional American judicial behaviors, aptly slammed him with a sentence of 27 years to life in jail.

Naturally, our friends the Saudis are unhappy.  So of course the State Department has hopped to it.  Rather than a curt note explaining that this is what happens to slave-keeping rapists in America, State has flown the Attorney General of Colorado to Saudi Arabia to answer King Abdullah's "aggressive" questions — and those of other members of the al-Turki family, who are just astounded that "a jury can give credibility to an Indonesian maid."  For them, the only possible explanation for the outcome is — drum roll — "anti-Muslim bias."

The beat goes on ...

Posted on 11/22/2006 8:16 AM by Andy McCarthy
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
The new feminism #1,998

Debbie Schlussel is keeping up the creepy trend in women's magazines to glamorize the hijab. Here she exposes a 13-page spread of Islamofascist fashion in the new issue of  Marie Claire.

h/t: DW



Posted on 11/22/2006 8:26 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
The Saudis have no oil weapon

"The House of Saud has one thing Americans respect - MONEY.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has the ability to influence one thing Americans rate next to love of family - OIL PRICES

These two essential components of modern living make Saudi Arabia a pivotal relationship for the united States, and probably its most important alliance worldwide."-- from a reader

Which Americans respect "MONEY"? I don't. And many others don't. And that "MONEY" as you put it, comes not from a modern economy, but from an accident of geology. That "MONEY" is used up by the pleasure-loving decadent indolent Al-Saud princes and princettes and princelings, and what's left over has built a facade of a modern economy, based entirely on millions and millions of foreign workers, from European and American doctors and teachers and restaurateurs, to South Korean contractors, to Indian laborers, to Filipino and Thai domestic workers. And then there are again the ranks of the sex slaves, from the European call girls who come in for a weekend or a week or a month (truly on call), at the top, to those same domestic workers who are casually used and abused as sex slaves by their Saudi masters.

At this point, Saudi Arabia has much less ability to influence the price of oil than the major consumer, the United States, and other consuming nations. For Saudi Arabia is now producing at or very close to its capacity, and there is unlikely to be more oil to be found in great quantities in Saudi Arabia (according to the geologist/corporate raider T. Boone Pickens and to others who intelligently acknowledge the truth of the "peak oil" hypothesis). There may be some natural gas -- ask Totalfine and Elf -- in the Empty Quarter (how you get it out, save through Oman, is an interesting question). But Saudi Arabia is no longer the swing producer it used to be, has far less power that it used to have.

But we are free to raise the price of oil, all by ourselves, at any time. We are free to put any tax we wish on gasoline sold in this country, and so push down demand. We are free to put all kinds of surcharges on the cost of oil aside from gasoline. We are free to subsidize mass transit, to put taxes on SUVs, to change our ways so that happiness or pseudo-happiness which we pseudo-pursue is derived from things that use up less energy (less driving around in hectic vacancy, more quiet reading by inglenook).

And at the same time, that "MONEY" you think, like Joel Grey in Cabaret, makes the world go round, has to be parked somewhere. The Saudis are heavily invested, as intelligent investors would be, in the United States and Western Europe. We have the power to seize those assets, whenever we decide that Saudi Arabia is our enemy. We seized assets owned by the German government and German nationals during World War II - didn't we? And there was nothing the Nazis could do about it. We have to read Saudi Arabia the riot act, and explain that we now thoroughly understand, as we never did before (with the Scowcrofts and Bakers who have been such promoters of "our friends in the Gulf" and whose sources of funds do not bear -- else why do they not reveal their foreign clients, as Scowcroft has been repeatedly asked to do so -- much looking into).

Saudi Arabia, let me repeat, can do nothing to us. We can do a thousand things to it. Not least, we can deny entry for medical treatment to all members of its ruling family. We can keep them from coming here for education. We can keep them out even for vacations -- and now that their alternative playground, Lebanon, which the Hariri family was building up for the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs as a place to desport themselves in the manner they so obviously would like, but in an Arabic-speaking environment, they do need places to go, places to spend that soft-earned money of theirs.

You have it all wrong. You have it the way a few generations of American policymakers have been taught to believe, have taught others to believe, about Saudi Arabia.

Posted on 11/22/2006 8:35 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
facing facts

"americans need to face the fact that muslims live in this country and begin to treat them as freinds and neighbors..i live peacfully with my neighbors."-- from a Muslim living in this country

Yes, we are "facing that fact" and beginning, in light of what we now know about the tenets of Islam, about the contents of Qur'an and Hadith and the example of Muhammad, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil, to decide what we shall do with that "fact" we "face" -- whether, that is, to continue to farcically endure that fact, and leave ourselves in a state of permanent and growing danger, or to take the kinds of actions that since the beginning of time states and peoples have taken to protect themselves. And even the famously tolerant state of Czechoslovakia, in 1946, found itself undertaking a modest act for its own future security, and for the well-being of its citizens, that no one then, and no one save for some German revanchistes since, has ever found moral fault with: the Benes Decree, by which 3 million ethnic Germans were expelled for the behavior of not all, but many of them, before and during the world war.

Posted on 11/22/2006 9:12 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
The Gemayels

Lebanon was once, and could be if the Americans and the West had any sense, a refuge and a redoubt for Arabic-speaking (which is not the same as being "Arab" though many have been taught to efface that distinction) Christians.

The Gemayels, the Chamouns, the great Charles Malik (officially Greek Orthodox, he thought like a Maronite -- Lebanese will understand that comment) -- that is to whom Lebanon should belong. Not to the troglodytic Nasrallah and his maddened myrmidons.

A lexical note:

The much-needed, indispensable term "dhimmitude" was first coined by the scholar Bat Ye'or. The first public use of the term, however, was by the uncle of the late Pierre Gemayel, the President-elect of Lebanon, the late Bashir Gemayel, who was assassinated by the same force of darkness, more or less, as have just murdered his nephew. He first uttered the word in a speech he delivered on September 14, 1982. He was assassinated later that day.

Posted on 11/22/2006 9:18 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Re: Szasz

It was the libertarian in me that caused Szasz to get my attention ca. 1970.  You should understand that the psychiatric profession was way too big for its boots at that time, was institutionalizing a lot of people who were merely eccentric or sad, and was silent about a lot of crazy spin-off phenomena that, to be sure, the profession was not directly responsible for.  I am thinking of things like the institutionalization, forced medication, and worse, that was inflicted on Soviet dissidents; or the Frankfurt School , which came close to arguing that to be bourgeois and conservative was a form of mental illness. 

I had no strong views on metaphysics at that time, and certainly wasn't anything like as keen on materialism as I now, and increasingly, am.  Most probably (it now seems to me) the brain is just an organ, which a couple decades of diligent research will bring us to understand as well as we understand, say, the liver.  I'm open to the idea that some irreducible core of "self-ness" may never yield to materialist explanation;  but I'm sure 99 percent of thought will turn out to be just a kind of physiological process, and 100 percent is not, on any grounds that I can see, necessarily impossible.  (I am as reluctant as anyone to contemplate the consequences of that being the case; but I don't see any evidence that my personal peace of mind, or yours, is of any concern to the universe at large.)  So then Szasz, at least the early Szasz, will have been proven right in a way:  If there are no mental objects, only physical ones, then there can be no mental illnesses, only physical ones!  But this is idle speculation.

Posted on 11/22/2006 10:38 AM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Hamid Mir

It was a mistake for the Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir to be invited by Jeff Epstein to that conference held, bizarrely, in Las Vegas. No doubt the notion was something along the lines of-- he'll attract press, he's got all these sensational reports about Al Qaeda and nuclear weapons smuggled into America. That's the level at which some people think when constructing a list of whom to invite.

And it was amusing, according to reports from those who were there, to see someone pushing Hamid Mir at the Restoration Weekend, someone from South Carolina who is, presumably, Hamid Mir's agent, wanting to promote and push this character without stopping to consider what he is all about.

There are not a few such promoters and mountebanks around, and they include not only agents, but in some cases the principals themselves, pretending to be "experts" on Al Qaeda or Islam or something, and flogging their well-paid wares wherever they can.

Caveat emptor.

Posted on 11/22/2006 10:42 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Plots, plots everywhere

If any planes or missiles manage to bomb or strike Iran, it will not be those of Israel. That would be too much to bear, too much to endure. No, it will have been a Saudi-financed collective Sunni plot, using technology and weaponry and men hired from everywhere, but above all from pseudo-Soviet Russia. Surely the Islamic Republic of Iran won't be fooled, or let its people be fooled, into thinking those pitiful yahudin did it. That would be a humiliation from which the regime would never recover. So it must be the Sunni Arabs. And they must be paid back -- beginning by destroying them in Iraq, and removing the Sunni Arabs from Iraq forever. And then, in Syria (where Bashir al-Assad has allowed in Shi'a missionaries) and in Lebanon, both Iranian agents and local Shi'a forces (Hebzollah) must smash the local Sunnis in revenge.

Yes, those bombs and missiles will all have the fine Wahhabi hand behind them.

Don't think for a minute Israel would be capable of it.

And America, of course, wouldn't dare.

But the Sunni Arabs, who are so afraid of a Shi'a uprising in the oil-bearing Eastern Province, will buy rocketry constructed by rogue Germans and not-so-rogue Russians, well-paid for their efforts, and already have large numbers of planes to be piloted by well-paid European pilots, each of their families guaranteed a minimum of $20 million should they not return, and $5 million if they do.

Yes, it will be the Sunni Arabs all right. If so much as a single bomb falls on the buildings, above or under ground, of Iran's nuclear project, then it will be time to let all hell break loose against those vicious Sunnis who for 1300 years have treated the Shi'a, and Ali, miserably.

Prepare the Shi'a revenge on the Sunnis now.

Posted on 11/22/2006 10:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
No Man Is A Hero to His Dry Cleaner

(1) Narrated 'Aisha: I used to wash the traces of Janaba (semen) from the clothes of the Prophet and he used to go for prayers while traces of water were still on it (water spots were still visible). (Book #4, Hadith #229)

(2) Narrated Sulaiman bin Yasar: I asked 'Aisha about the clothes soiled with semen. She replied, "I used to wash it off the clothes of Allah's Apostle and he would go for the prayer while water spots were still visible. " (Book #4, Hadith #231)

(3) Narrated 'Amr bin Maimun: I heard Sulaiman bin Yasar talking about the clothes soiled with semen. He said that 'Aisha had said, "I used to wash it off the clothes of Allah's Apostle and he would go for the prayers while water spots were still visible on them. (Book #4, Hadith #232)

(4) Narrated 'Aisha: I used to wash the semen off the clothes of the Prophet and even then I used to notice one or more spots on them. (Book #4, Hadith #233) --sent from a reader

The moral of the several successive hadith (or "ahadith") so helpfully presented by the reader above is that No Man Is A Hero to His Dry Cleaner. Not even in early seventh-century Arabia.

Posted on 11/22/2006 10:55 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Oil Prices

"If OPEC pulled the same trick now that they pulled in the 1970's, they could jack up the price of oil to maybe $140 a barrel. That would send the price of gasoline in this country past $5.00 a gallon."-- from a reader

If Saudi Arabia could jack up the price to $140 a barrel, why doesn't it? Why doesn't it make the price $500 a barrel, or $1000 a barrel? The reason is that oil is subject to such things as the law of supply and demand. What it could do in 1973 it could attempt to do in 1979, and then the price collapsed in 1980. Does the reader understand why?

Does he understand that the oil-producing nations must carefully calculate what they charge for oil, lest the switch from it proceed too fast, thereby rendering their reserves in the ground less valuable over time (they assign a Present Value to such reserves). Saudi Arabia is always, nowadays, trying with false bonhomie at various official gatherings to pooh-pooh any notion of "political" influence on the price of oil, because the very things that Sheik Yamani used to warn direly about (see J. B. Kelly's incomparable study of the oil market and Araby, "Arabia, the Gulf, and the West") are exactly those things that now worry the Saudis --that the West might become sufficiently alarmed to actually have a policy that would intelligently be based on raising, through steadily rising self-taxation, the price of oil.

The nightmare for Saudi Arabia is too high a price too soon, and the real nightmare would be a price based on American (and other) governments taxing the use of gasoline and oil higher and higher and higher -- for this would force down demand, and probably force down as well the price that OPEC could intelligently charge.

A third of a century has gone by, and little if anything has been done by successive, very foolish American governments to tax oil consumption and then use those taxes for the purposes of subsidizing other sources of energy (nuclear, solar, wind, coal gasification, and so on), and mass transit, and all kinds of conservation projects.

But right now, as the price falls, is the time for the Administration to announce it will push for higher taxes on oil and gasoline. That it hasn't made a peep about this tells you a great deal about how the Administration chooses to fight the war of self-defense against the Jihad.

With big, clumsy, very expensive "boots on the ground" in Iraq, as we bring toys and good things to eat to the boys and girls on the other side of the mountain, all over Dar al-Islam.

"I think I can. I think I can."

It worked for The Little Engine That Could. In a children's book.

In the real world, it won't work at all.

Posted on 11/22/2006 11:11 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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