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These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 26, 2007.
Monday, 26 February 2007
Jail imams vetted by security services and Muslim books screened for code
From The Times. A worrying problem, but heartening to see that, at last, it is being recognised as a problem, that measures are being taken, and that concern is being voiced.
The security services are conducting background checks on imams who provide religious and pastoral care in jails. The vetting, part of the effort to prevent inmates from being radicalised, is in addition to the routine counter-terrorism checks conducted by the Prison Service and a further check by the Criminal Records Bureau.  The checks are in response to concerns that prisons may be an ideal environment for al-Qaeda operatives to radicalise and recruit young people.
Another measure aimed at countering extremism is that all imams working in jails must speak English. In addition, prison authorities are spending thousands of pounds translating all texts from Arabic to English to ensure that they do not contain hidden messages. It is understood that all Arabic books, including the Koran, are subject to this vetting. That should be an eye-opener for the unwary. No need to look for "code", the plain text is quite sufficient.
The number of Muslims in jail in England and Wales has more than doubled in a decade, to about 10 per cent of the 80,000 population. As a result, when clergy from smaller Christian faiths retire, the Prison Service is using the money to recruit imams either full time or part time. The moves have caused dismay and some anger, with Christians complaining about the amount of cash and other resources being devoted to Muslims.
Tension has also arisen over the need to provide extra facilities for Muslim prisoners, particularly where there are underused Christian premises in a jail. The Prison Service is spending an estimated £20,000 converting a former Roman Catholic chapel in Wandsworth prison into space for inter-faith work and expanding facilities for Muslim inmates. The prison, in South London, had two Christian chapels — one Roman Catholic, the other Church of England — and a mosque, but the two chapels were larger than needed and the mosque was too small.
Glyn Travis, of the Prison Officers’ Association, said yesterday: “What has happened across the prison estate is that, due to efficiency savings and the rise in Muslim prisoners, the service has had to recruit more imams, which has meant a reduction for other faiths.”  He added: “There has certainly been anxiety when resources for Christians have been reduced.”
The same is true in hospitals, where new hospitals are built with no chapel, but merely a “multi-faith prayer room” which is not welcoming to the other faiths. Best not to get me started on that one, not before breakfast.
Posted on 02/26/2007 2:00 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 26 February 2007
Pakistan brewery produces Muslim world's first 20-year whisky
The Islamic republic of Pakistan has won the distinction of producing the Muslim world's first 20-year-old malt whisky.
The Murree Brewery in Rawalpindi, founded in 1860 to make ale and spirits for soldiers during the British Raj, is the only producer of whisky and beer in a constitutionally Muslim country.
Despite a torrid history in which it has been burnt down by Muslim protesters and temporarily shut down in an Islamist purge, the Murree brewery has survived against the odds and has previously produced celebrated eight and 12-year-old single malts.
"Few distilleries in the world, even the high-end ones in Scotland, produce 20-year-old malts," said Minnoo Bhandara, the Parsee businessman whose family has run the brewery since the creation of Pakistan at the partition of British India in 1947.
Under Pakistani law it cannot be drunk by 97 per cent of the country and it cannot be exported.
In 1977 the former prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, bowed to the demands of Islamic political parties and imposed an alcohol ban on Muslims.
Since then the brewery has officially been catering for the three per cent (a percentage much reduced since 1947, you will note) of Pakistan's population that comprises of the non-Muslim communities of Christians, Hindus and those of Mr Bhandara's Zoroastrian faith.
However, the ingenuity of thirsty Pakistanis means that rather a lot of the 660,000 gallons of beer that Murree produces every year and the 110,000 gallons of whisky that is stored in its cellars reaches a Muslim clientele.
"I think 99 per cent of my customers are Muslim," said Mr Bhandara, who is an Oxford-educated MP. . . But he sees little hope of progress. "The subject of drinking will stir up a hornet's nest," he said, adding that Pakistan will maintain its ban on exporting alcohol.
In the coming months Murree beer will be available in Indian restaurants in Britain under the slogan "Have a Murree With Your Curry" after a deal struck with a Belgian brewer to produce the drink under licence.  Beer is more to my taste and I would like to try that.
Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims are very crafty about getting alcohol when it suits them. Many traditional pubs in areas with predominantly Muslim population have closed down but new ones have opened elsewhere; their drinking is done where they hope that no-one they know is likely to see them.
Murree's whisky, Pakistan brewery produces Muslim world's first 20-year whisky
My father was in charge of the maintenance of a works in east London. At Christmas he would be given a bottle of scotch (beer was more to his taste as well) by one of the suppliers which he would open in his workshop on Christmas Eve to offer to colleagues who visited him. There were quite a few Muslims, mostly Bangladeshi working there. None would accept a drink when others were around. They came back later singly.
 “I will have that drink thank you, but please don’t mention it to Ahmad” Then Ahmad would turn up, “I will have that drink thank you, but please don’t mention it to Malik” And so the bottle would go down. 
Lemo Lime Gin (above) is intriguing.
Posted on 02/26/2007 3:03 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 26 February 2007
Appeaser: Brzezinski Division

"'Victory' is not what the Bush Administration defines it as. There was to be Iraq the Model, a stable, peaceful, prosperous place, somehow to be emulated by Sunni Arab states that would apparently not notice the loss of Sunni power and the dominance of the Shi'a."

General Odom has said something very sensible here.'--from a reader

General Odom didn't write that. I wrote that. I am the sensible one.

General Odom only seems to be sensible. It is sensible to get out of Iraq, and would have made sense in February 2004. But General Odom, if you read his article, thinks that we must get out of Iraq in order to better "stabilize" the Middle East. That is, his goal is not mine but the opposite of mine. I want the Americans out of Iraq because I know that that will inevitably lead to those sectarian and ethnic fissures widening, and I don't want an Administration first snookered by Shi'a exaggerated hopes ("America to be greeted with permanent affection as the great liberator"), is now to allow itself to be snookered by Sunni exaggerated fears ("the Shi'a of Iran are taking over, so sell us every weapon we want, and pressure Israel, otherwise somehow, magically, all the Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Jordan are going to stop being Sunnis and become Shi'a and then support the incorporation of the whole Middle East into a frightening Shi'a Crescent of Power that will wax into a Full and Menacing Iranian Moon").

Odom is one of those pseudo-realists who is not a realist at all because he begins from the same assumption as the Bush Administration he so detests: that we want stability in the Middle East, that we don't want the Camp of Islam riven by sectarian and ethnic disputes (he doesn't say a word --I have written a hundred thousand, on the subject of how an independent Kurdistan would weaken not only Iran and Syria, but also inspire non-Arab Muslims outside the Middle East, such as Berbers in the Kabyle, and Malaysians sick of the arabization of their own societies).

He's a "realist" of the appease-Islam school -- Brzezinski Division.

Look behind the immediate sweet-reasonableness, to the assumptions he makes, the end result he envisions, and his complete inability to view the menace of Islam outside the Middle East, his utter indifference to the islamization of Western Europe through Da'wa and demographic conquest.

Yesterday's Man, but still holding on. He won't take the time or trouble to learn about Islam. At this point, he just can't.

Posted on 02/26/2007 6:46 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 26 February 2007
Spin Doctor for Islam

Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria.

The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified." --Kenneth Ballen writing in the CSM

One would like to know who is behind, who pays for, not directly but indirectly, for this group "Terror Free Tomorrow," and just who this Ken Ballen, both silly and sinister in his pronouncements, in the sloppiness of his "questions" -- what is the definition of a "civilian" to Muslims who were queried? To the most important Sunni writer today, Al-Qaradawi, even Israeli fetuses inside their mothers are fair game, are not considered "innocent civilians," because, as Al-Qaradawi put it, they can grow up to be "Israeli soldiers." Much the same sentiments have been echoed all over the Muslim world, and the distinction we make between soldiers and civilians, it should be obvious from the observable behavior, over decades, of Arab and Muslim terrorist groups that do not make similar distinctions and yet are wildly popular for their actions, are not made by Muslims.

Yet this Ken Baller thinks he can ask questions about the propriety of attacks on "civilians" or "innocent civilians" without any discussion or further inquiry or attempt to fix exactly what Muslims take those phrases to mean.

Either he is willfully ignorant, or incredibly stupid, or merely one more Western hireling of the vast Arab and Muslim campaign, all over the Western world, to render Infidels less wary, less suspicious,and to delay the day of widespread understanding of the clear doctrines of Islam -- easily discoverable in the texts, the Qur'an and Hadith and Sira (one wishes to know what Ken Ballen has read, what he himself knows of those texts and what he makes of them, what significance he attributes to them), and easily observed in the recorded behavior of Muslims, over the past 1350 years of Jihad-conquest and subsequent subjugation of non-Muslims, offered conversion, death, or the permanent status as dhimmis, as their only possibilities. Does Ken Ballen know this? Does he know that more and more Infidels are learning about this, and having been exposed to every conceivable kind of evasion, taqiyya-and-tu-quoque, jimmying of the data, stacking of the questionnaire deck, and then the "analysis" that sounds as though it came from an office of CAIR, or some place in Riyadh, that people are getting fed up -- with the likes of all those who make up that army of hirelings, while our own servicemen are forced to risk their lives for polices made by people who, by and large, do not understand the full menace of Islam, nor the many instruments of Jihad, and especially those of Da'wa, demographic conquest, and the propaganda directed at Infidels that makes those continuing and blatant campaigns of Da'wa and demographic conquest possible without a coherent opposition.

Ken Ballen needs to be examined, and above all - those who constructed those transparently-worded questions to achieve the desired result, and those who have paid him or are paying for this "Terror Free Tomorrow" program, need to be looked into by the security services. Let us know all about Ken Ballen, and "Terror Free Tomorrow." It will be interesting to find out a bit more, won't it?

Posted on 02/26/2007 7:09 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 26 February 2007
Bill Maher and Hirsi Ali

Must see YouTube at Little Green Footballs.

Maher: "It [Islam] was extremist to begin with. Muhammad was a warrior. The big lie is, all religions are basically alike. They all preach the same thing."

Posted on 02/26/2007 9:01 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 26 February 2007
Iraq Mission Questioned

60 Minutes ran a program last night on active duty soldiers who are questioning their role in Iraq:

.."What are we trying to accomplish over there? I mean, what is what are we trying to do in Iraq?" another soldier, Sgt. Ronn Cantu asks.

What does he think?

"I don't even know anymore," he tells Logan.

"Well, what would you say to the people that say, 'Alright, it's clear that the war in Iraq is incredibly difficult and life is really tough both for Americans and for Iraqis, but pulling out's not the answer. It's only gonna get worse. There's gonna be all-out civil war,'" Logan asks.

"How does that become the default? Either someday, we have to leave. We can't stay in Iraq for the next thousand years," one soldier remarks. ..

..The idea for this protest by active duty and reserve service members came from two enlisted men who served in the war: Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, who got to Iraq during the battle of Falluja, and his military commitment is up this winter, and Naval Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, who serves on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which was deployed in the Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I'm not anti-war. I'm not a pacifist. I'm not opposed to protecting our country and defending our principles. But at the same time, as citizens it's our obligation to have a questioning attitude, you know, about policy," Hutto says,

"Just because we volunteered for the military, doesn't mean we volunteered to put our lives in unnecessary harm, and to carry out missions that are illogical and immoral," Madden adds.

Their petition "Appeal for Redress" is here

Posted on 02/26/2007 9:34 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 26 February 2007
Reading Pakistan the Riot Act

One problem with boughten allies is they don't stay bought. Despite our jizyah payments of 27.5 billion dollars since 9/11 to ensure the dog-like loyalty of General Musharraf, it seems he has other constituents to worry about and to placate. And while they are not as generous and the United States, are much more dangerous to the continuing existence Musharraf's government, and to President Musharraf himself, who is forced to play a double game.

New Duranty: WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 — President Bush has decided to send an unusually tough message to one of his most important allies, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, warning him that the newly Democratic Congress could cut aid to his country unless his forces become far more aggressive in hunting down operatives with Al Qaeda, senior administration officials say.

The decision came after the White House concluded that General Musharraf is failing to live up to commitments he made to Mr. Bush during a visit here in September. General Musharraf insisted then, both in private and public, that a peace deal he struck with tribal leaders in one of the country’s most lawless border areas would not diminish the hunt for the leaders of Al Qaeda and the Taliban or their training camps.

Now, American intelligence officials have concluded that the terrorist infrastructure is being rebuilt, and that while Pakistan has attacked some camps, its overall effort has flagged.

“He’s made a number of assurances over the past few months, but the bottom line is that what they are doing now is not working,” one senior administration official who deals often with South Asian issues said late last week. “The message we’re sending to him now is that the only thing that matters is results.”...

Posted on 02/26/2007 9:43 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 26 February 2007
Getting Rudy Right on Immigration

A thing I get asked a lot:

"Derb—As I do every week, I enjoyed Radio Derb.  This week, it is quite jarring to transition from your earnest appeal to listeners to do something to oppose McKennedy's immigration disaster to your statement 'I'm a Rudy guy.'

"I know that you know Rudy's views on immigration, legal and illegal.  He's indistinguishable from McCain.

"Hello??!!!

"How can you care about immigration as much as you obviously do and then support Rudy?  Please explain yourself."

[Derb]  I'll do my best.  As I said a couple weeks ago:  "My heart says Tom [Tancredo] but my head says Rudy."

We're not going to get President Tom, or anyone like him.  There is no-one in the field, or likely to be in it, who is (a) fully aware of, and outspoken about, the immigration issue, and (b) at all likely to win.

So what do we do?  How about:  Support a tough-minded patriot who

(a) shows no signs of a deep ideological commitment to unrestricted immigration,

(b) is not in political hock to any of the invite-the-world business, race, guilt (Guilt?  Rudy?  Ha!), or Mexican-influence lobbies (although his consulting firm has, or had, Mexico City as a client),

(c) has never, in his extensive chief-executive experience, had to put immigration issues at the front of his mind, and so has a "position" on immigration like I have a position on the blocking rule in ice hockey,

(d) has a personality and intellect not the least, NOT THE LEAST, inclined towards the sappy-sentimentalist kumbaya view of humanity at large, or of immigrant humanity in particular (here, at least, his family background will have been informative),

(e) is going to have to go through some learning/repositioning exercises on several topics if he's going to get conservative Republican voters out in sufficient numbers,

(f) understands very, very well the cluelessness and incompetency of unionized civil-service bureaucracies (you don't survive 8 years as mayor of New York without learning that!) and so will be properly contemptuous of any scheme or legislation that calls for a tripling of the workload of the federal immigration bureaucracy—the most clueless and incompetent of them all,

(g) can make things happen,

(h) is Rudy Giuliani.

'Nuff said? 

Posted on 02/26/2007 10:06 AM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 26 February 2007
Getting Rudy Right on Guns

Here is the best suggestion so far:

"Derb—While many urbanites retire to the countryside to hunt or fish, they are generally a different sort than Rudy. A much more suitable photo op would be for him to shoot an IDPA match, where shooters emulate concealed weapons permit holders acting out real-world bad-guy situations. It fits much better with his tough-on-crime image, and would appeal more to the hard-core 2A [ i.e. Second Amendment] types.

"A problem with the duck hunter crowd is that politicians try to take away our handguns or my black rifles, but insist they'll never go after your over-under. The duck hunters nod and let the confiscation proceed, and before long all that's left are the duck hunters, who have no support as their shotguns are confiscated.

"I agree with your other reader that Rudy could never pull off the photo-op duck hunt. But imagine the fun if he appeared at the IDPA match with his .45ACP under his suit jacket, as if it had been there all along...."

[Derb]  As an elderly Noo Yawker of my acquaintance was wont to exclaim:  "Now yer cookin' wid gas!"  In a similar vein, a different reader offers this:

"Derb—What Rudy needs is for somebody in NYPD to leak that while Rudy was mayor, he always was packing heat.  He won't have to confirm or deny, just have it out there, and when it comes up, say that he want's to talk about the more pressing issues.

"That, or just come out and say that DEATH WISH is his favorite movie."

Posted on 02/26/2007 10:09 AM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 26 February 2007
Must Be An Old Family Name

"We are not imitators of Arab culture; that would put us in an inferior position and make them our superiors," said Muhammad Muhammad, a 40-year-old adherent from Oklahoma City."

From a story  on the Nation of Islam in today's Times, page A16.

Posted on 02/26/2007 12:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 26 February 2007
American Jizyah to Pakistan

In this piece,  Selig Harrison notes something that almost no one knows, not in Congress, not in the press, not it seems among many others -- that since 9/11/2001 the Bush Administration has given Pakistan the equivalent of $27.5 billion dollars. That makes Pakistan, after Iraq, the largest recipient per annum of American aid. The next time someone begins to squawk to you about "all that aid to Israel" -- an unshakeable ally in the war of self-defense against the Jihad (as of course it must be, given it is also the victim of the earliest, and best-publicized, of the Lesser Jihads begun after World War II (along with that against Hindus in Kashmir), but growing Muslim wealth and power has, of course, made for dozens of Lesser Jihads all of which should be correctly seen as local manifestations of the same impulse arising out of the texts, teachings, attitudes, and atmospherics of Islam.

27.5 billion dollars from America to Pakistan? For what, exactly? What has been the great achievement? How is Al-Qaeda doing in Pakistan? Why, it is doing just fine, thank you. An occasional pretend pinprick, nothing serious, a handful of people possibly killed, often the wrong people. Much huff-and-puffing for the endlessly -- at least until now -- gullible Americans, who have decades of trusting faith in those fine Pakistani generals, those terry-thomased mustachioed ramrod-straight graduates of Sandhurst, or at least that was how those American generals who for decades preferred them to the Indians, to Nehru and Menon and Mrs. Gandhi, saw them, and by the way, wasn't Islam a "bulwark against Communism"? And wasn't Saudi Arabia, just like Pakistan, the true-bluest friend America could ever have? What, me worry?

Someone in Congress, and someone running for office, and many in the press, should be asking this question: what have we got for that $27.5 billion tossed off to Pakistan? Years ago, with American military money, the Pakistani ISI funded "Doctor" A. Q. Khan in his little project, the results of which, in Pakistan itself, and also in those countries it helped, such as North Korea and Iran, are by now well-known. But it doesn't stop, does it? Right now the Americans are supplying Pakistan with F-16s, capable of doing all kinds of damage, carrying all kinds of weapons. Why? How long do the endlessly credulous or terminally confused (about Islam, about everything having to do with Islam) get to run things? When will someone start pulling the dimwitted from their well-appointed sinecures in the "intelligence" services, and allow for a takeover by those who are well-versed in the doctrines and practice of Islam, who cannot or will not be fooled, not by Musharraf, not by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, not by kinglet Abdullah of Jordan, not by Mubarak, not by any Sunnis, and not by any Shi'a akin to those -- Chalabi, Allawi, Kanan Makiya, Rend al-Rahim -- who managed to assure the Americans that once they deposed Saddam Hussein all manner of things would be well.

What have we got for that $27.5 billion? Al-Qaeda is not "on the run" in Pakistan, or for that matter, the Taliban are not "on the run" in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda was never damaged very much by the Pakistani forces. How could those forces, deeply Islamic (see General Malik's book on Jihad), have acted against those who are the brave paladins of Islam? Oh, a few cosmetic operations, designed to keep the Americans happy and supplying that money, cancelling those debts, sending those F-16s and all the other goodies that the army wants -- that's okay. That's understandable. But nothing real need be done. Musharraf could hardly believe it himself, but it turns out to be just as the Arabs always said -- you can get away with anything with the Americans. They're the dream customers in the souk. They'll never get it. They'll never understand. So keep on fooling them. Keep on buying time. Keep on pocketing that aid and those planes. And of course, watch as the Taliban come back, as they have, in Afghanistan. Watch, as they have, the Al-Qaeda forces regroup -- still under the same effective management -- after the Americans have spent, in the last five years, all over the world, close to a trillion dollars (in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, in continued Jizyah-aid to Egypt, Jordan, "the Palestinians," and in hugely expensive "Homeland Security" measures which never seem to include anything that might make Americans the slightest bit more aware of the doctrines of the belief-system of Islam that underly the need for that Homeland Security, or, supposedly, for all those incredible aid packages and expenses in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and all the other places where "hearts and minds" are to be won through the expenditure of Infidel money, money, money.

The hideousness of it all will not end until the smug bearers of Stupidity have their goddess publicly exposed, and themselves smitten in public debate. And if they try to raise themselves up from the ground with still more idiocy, then let them be smitten again. They are a menace. They are causing tremendous squandering and waste with their miscomprehension, their willful ignorance, their trustingness, their cruel waste of men, money, matériel. Smite them again, show up the hollowness of their phrases ("cut and run" for example), the shallowness of their analysis, the obtuseness of their understanding.

Posted on 02/26/2007 12:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 26 February 2007
Macaulay on Slavery and "Recruitment"

The recent talk about the abolition of the slave trade brought to mind the wonderful first chapter of Macaualy's History of England:

"Meanwhile a change was proceeding infinitely more momentous than the acquisition or loss of any province, than the rise or fall of any dynasty. Slavery and the evils by which slavery is everywhere accompanied were fast disappearing.

"It is remarkable that the two greatest and most salutary social revolutions which have taken place in England, that revolution which, in the thirteenth century, put an end to the tyranny of nation over nation, and that revolution which, a few generations later, put an end to the property of man in man, were silently and imperceptibly effected. They struck contemporary observers with no surprise, and have received from historians a very scanty measure of attention. They were brought about neither by legislative regulations nor by physical force. Moral causes noiselessly effaced first the distinction between Norman and Saxon, and then the distinction between master and slave."

[Derb]  Macaulay is of course writing about the abolition of serfdom in late-medieval England.  Later in the chapter he touches on the "historical recruiting" issue we kicked around last week, with some helpful insights into Anglo-Saxon historical writing—amongst which, petty cavils about the "Whig interpretation of history" notwithstanding, Macaulay's stands with the greatest.

"This great blessing [i.e. the fact of England's history having been one of "gradual development, not of demolition and reconstruction"] has its drawbacks: and one of those drawbacks is that every source of information as to our early history has been poisoned by party spirit. As there is no country where statesmen have been so much under the influence of the past, so there is no country where historians have been so much under the influence of the present. Between these two things, indeed, there is a natural connection. Where history is regarded merely as a picture of life and manners, or as a collection of experiments from which general maxims of civil wisdom may be drawn, a writer lies under no very pressing temptation to misrepresent transactions of ancient date. But where history is regarded as a repository of titledeeds, on which the rights of governments and nations depend, the motive to falsification becomes almost irresistible. .... Thus in our country the dearest interests of parties have frequently been on the results of the researches of antiquaries. The inevitable consequence was that our antiquaries conducted their researches in the spirit of partisans.

"It is therefore not surprising that those who have written, concerning the limits of prerogative and liberty in the old polity of England should generally have shown the temper, not of judges, but of angry and uncandid advocates. For they were discussing, not a speculative matter, but a matter which had a direct and practical connection with the most momentous and exciting disputes of their own day. ....  During a long course of years every Whig historian was anxious to prove that the old English government was all but republican, every Tory historian to prove that it was all but despotic.

"With such feelings, both parties looked into the chronicles of the middle ages. Both readily found what they sought; and both obstinately refused to see anything but what they sought. .... Those who saw only one half of the evidence would have concluded that the Plantagenets were as absolute as the Sultans of Turkey: those who saw only the other half would have concluded that the Plantagenets had as little real power as the Doges of Venice; and both conclusions would have been equally remote from the truth."

Posted on 02/26/2007 1:00 PM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 26 February 2007
Derb Chid

A reader chides me (and/or a previous reader whose email I approvingly posted) on Rudy getting some traction with Second Amendment enthusiasts:

"Derb—-It would appear to me that all of the suggestions regarding how Rudy can suck up...........uh, appeal to.........the NRA are examples of what the GOP constantly accuses the Democrats of, being phoney.  Rudy is NOT an ally of the NRA in any way at all.  He didn't 'pack heat' when he was mayor, and didn't believe anyone other than the cops had any acceptable reason to. He doesn't favor a right of people to bear arms, expect a carefully proscribed set of them (no handguns, no automatics, no semi-automatics, etc, etc, I'd guess). I suspect that he'd concede flintlocks and perhaps shotguns, but I'm not sure about that.  He sued gun manufacturers for deaths caused by their procuct, for God's sake.  Guns don't kill people, gun manufacturers do, apparently.  Going duck hunting, carrying a sholder holster, or riding on a tank with a helmet, are all bad ideas."

[Derb]  I am well chid.  Nobody expects (well, **I** don't expect) politicians to be paragons of flawless honesty, but there are lines, and I agree that the "packing heat" ploy is over those lines.  I don't agree, though, that there is nothing Rudy could do to ... appeal to NRA members.  (I, by the way, am an NRA lifetime member, so he can plainly appeal to SOME of us.)  A guy can change his mind; and moving from mayoralty of a city to Chief Executive of the nation offers a lot of things to change your mind about.

As to where changing your mind shades into "flip-flopping," well, that's a matter of judgment.  That there is nothing whatever that Rudy—one of the great law'n'order politicians of our time!—can do to square himself with at least some gun lovers, I do not accept.

Posted on 02/26/2007 1:03 PM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 26 February 2007
Blair's Rhetoric, McGuffey's Readers, and Macaulay

In a more intelligently demanding world, that of nineteenth-century American schools, the English texts sensibly included passages, both prose and poetry, of the recognized masters of the past. This made such perfect sense, that it has always been the means by which language has been taught, and still is taught, in many countries of the world. In Russian textbooks, even those for foreigners (see, for example, the "Uchebnik" of Pul'kina), the aspect, mood, and tense of verbs is taught using lines of Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy. It is the same in France, where one is likely to have passages of Victor Hugo, or a description of Atala in the virgin forests of America, to teach you something about the careful choice, and play, of near-synonyms, or about the periodic sonorities of Chateaubriand. In Italian, ditto. Only in America has that intelligent use of literature in English gone out, and instead the examples are dully constructed by textbook hackwriters, commissioned to eke out their existence, to come up with bland sentences that offend no one, and that excite no one, and that no one loves.

If you judge this to be an exaggeration, do your own research. Look at the McGuffey's Readers that were used right up until the 1920s, and see for yourself. Or look at all the English texts -- Blair's "Rhetoric" for example -- that were standard fare in one-room schoolhouses all over this intelligent land, and that might be reprinted now, and used still, used by parents as a dietary supplement to the thin, even watery gruel, offered by the textbooks -- and the teachers that uncomplainingly go with them -- that are the standard fare of modern American education, right through to that last year-and-a-half of high school, in which everything drops in a frenzy of mad desire to be admitted to the "college of your choice," an admission upon which your entire future life's happiness depends.

In the earlier grades, poetry -- poetry to be read aloud, so that attention would be paid to diction, and to expressive delivery. In the age of Miss Porter's Lockjaw, or the whiny sing-song of valley-girl mush, or if boys then with all the bright savagery of some talk-show host or dyslexic president, who does not long for well-modulated voices, of those who have been raised at home, or trained at school, to speak tolerably well, or at least not intolerably badly. Memorization of poems - a Miltonic sonnet or "Lycidas" by Milton, a Shakespearean sonnet by Keats, full of goodly kingdoms, Browning' s "Memorabilia" or "My Last Dutchess" or "We French stormed Ratisbon, you know" or even, an old American favorite,  Felicia Hemans's "The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck."

Or, which is what prompted this post, Thomas Babbington Macaulay, historian, essayist, biographer, and poet, whose "Lays of Ancient Rome" were often part of the nineteenth-century English curriculum, and were stirring set-pieces for the orator and the debater. And if there is no training in orating, no practice in debate, then we will get the public life and the public figures we have, who spend their time fighting over "big-money contributors" and what David Geffen said, and what it all means, in the degraded parody of democracy that we now have, with Lady MacBeth being seriously considered in her quest to re-establish the other, demogratic dynasty, and hence her own glory -- but glory for what? To do what? To achieve what? That would require the skills of the orator and the debater, not the person whose idea of a really no-nonsense public exposition is to appear on Larry King, or be interviewed by Barbara Walters.

Macaulay was a favorite right into the 1920s. In 1903, for example, not one but two separate editions of his "Life of Johnson" were published, with introduction and notes suitable for schools.

Here they are:

MACAULAY'S LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON WITH A SELECTION FROM HIS ESSAY ON JOHNSON.
Edited with an introduction and notes by Charles Lane Hanson.
Standard English Classics.
Boston, New York, Chicago, and London: Ginn & Company, 1903.
94 pp.
Notes:

[Due to technical difficulties, the second entry was inadvertently removed and cannot be relocated. Please do not adjust your sets.]

And into the 1930s, schoolchildren -- immigrants among them -- were being taught, were being asked to memorize, if not always to arnoldian standards the best that had been thought and said, at least stuff that any of us would long for our own children to have studied, to have become acquainted with, when young, and even to have committed some of it -- forcibly, as an assignment, an assignment that later they would thak god had been forced on them -- to memory.

Ubi sunt, those textbooks and those passages?

And what is going to be done to bring those textbooks, or others modelled on them, but newly-printed and freshly-bound, back into the schools?

Anything?

Nothing?

Posted on 02/26/2007 1:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 26 February 2007
Tomato Plot

TEHERAN - Iran’s president said on Sunday the country’s enemies had hatched a range of plots to push the Islamic Republic to give up its disputed nuclear programme, including driving up the price of tomatoes and other food. --from this news item

Well, this may not be the whole story.

Possibly these were special tomatoes.

"Heirloom" tomatoes.

"Free-range" tomatoes.

Or, best and therefore most expensive of all, "heirloom free-range tomatoes."

The Arab greengrocer I used to frequent liked me so much that he would always reserve just for me his "heirloom free-range tomatoes" and they only cost $23 per tomato. But that was because he gave me a special price. Yes, he told me every time he sold me those tomatoes that he was doing me a special favor, giving me that special price because "I love you, effendi, I love you more than I love my mother, I love you more than I love my father."

Well, I wasn't born yesterday, you know. And by nature I'm the skeptical type. But when someone talks like that, then you know he's telling the truth.

Don't you?

Now, if Ahmadinejad finds out that along with the price of tomatoes, the price of imported mozzarella di bufala has also gone up, then he would be justified in thinking there's a plot afoot. For the Italians know perfectly well that the Iranian haute-bourgeoisie cannot do without its tomatoes-and-mozzarella salads.

But who in Italy could be behind this? There are so many "usual suspects." Among i soliti ignoti, there is of course this sinister Pope, with his sinister views on Islam (i.e., his view that Islam is sinister). And he might be using his network of village priests in rural areas, where the bufale roam, and telling them to diminish the output this year so as to drive up the price. Or could it be diehards of la brigata Fallaci, with its widespread network of freethinkers and republicans? Or could it be that other powerful group with cells all over Italy, in every city and town and virtually within every family, that secret organization of albertosordistas, who didn't take kindly to Ayatollah Khomeini's remark that "there is no humor in Islam" and, under their legendary leader Bruno Barzelletti, are determined to weaken the Camp of Islam so that its forces will not be able to expand their beachhead in Italy or elsewhere in Europe.

What better way, at least in the case of unsettled Iran, to drive up the prize, for the ruling class in the Islamic Republic of Iran, of mozzarella di bufala, and with the price of those tomatoes, whether heirloom or free-range or both or none, going ever upward, that would deprive all but the very richest Iranians of the possibility of an insalata caprese.

Posted on 02/26/2007 4:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 26 February 2007
How Not To Connect the Dots

Dot No. 1:

Jerusalem, Israel (AHN) - French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy on Saturday suggested that Paris is ready to cooperate with a new Palestinian unity government, even if the ruling Hamas faction has not complied with international demands that it explicitly recognize Israel's right to exist.

Following his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Douste-Blazy told reporters that he encouraged the Palestinian leader "to persevere in his efforts to quickly form a national unity government," with which "France will be ready to cooperate ... and plead on its behalf within the European Union."

While Douste-Blazy made no commitments regarding a renewal French aid to the Palestinian Authority, his promise was the sole bright spot for Abbas in a four-nation European tour that only served to reinforce what the international community expects of him now: to bring Hamas in line with its basic principles for peace with Israel."

Dot No. 2:

On Monday, February 26, three French tourists were shot dead by passing Arabs after they had pulled their car over to the side of the road. Women and children, also in the car, managed to survive. Apparently their Arab attackers had been stalking the group of nine for some time. 

Now let's note the difference between the two events: the cordial meeting in Paris between Abbas and Douste-Blazy, and the uncordial meeting of Arabs and French in the desert outside Medina, Saudi Arabia. 

In the French version, Abbas is merely pursuing a nationalist agenda, hoping to gain the "legitimate rights" of the "Palestine People." He most certainly is not, as some sinister souls at such sites as Jihad Watch and New English Review suggest, merely better than Hamas at putting into practice what Muhammad preached ("War is deception"), and conducting a Slow Jihad as opposed to the Fast Jihad of Hamas because he recognizes that for now that makes the most sense for the Muslim side.  For M. Douste-Blazy and many others in France insist, Abbas is a "Palestinian" and the "Palestinian people" must have their just demands met by Israel, demands that begin, but do not end, with a "Palestinian state" based on Israel, the victor in the Six-Day War, being forced to relinguish all of the territory it won in that war, territory all along intended, by the League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine, to be set aside for the resurrection of the Jewish commonwealth, the Jewish National Home.

In Saudi Arabia, however,  one  can see right away how different things are. There the attackers were not "Palestinians" but "Arabs." And "Arabs" are very different from "Palestinians." The "Palestinians" kill only Israelis. But "Arabs" want to kill French people. "Palestinians" are earnest "nationalists." Arab terrorists who kill French people are all members of Al-Qaeda, motivated by Islam or, better, by a version of Islam they first kidnapped, or hijacked, and then "perverted" to their own strange and unfathomable and inexplicable ends.

So, you see, there is a difference.

Can Fifty Million Frenchmen, plus ou moins,  be wrong?

Posted on 02/26/2007 2:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 26 February 2007
Belated brew news

Yestereve, with good bread, cheese, olives, and apples, we shared a bottle of Darbyste ale, a Belgian made with fig juice (label art has Adam and Eve with fig leaves and nothing else).  It's a featured ale at the White Horse on Parson's Green.  Sounds like a serious beer drinkers venue.

The story behind the name (from the label):

A traditional style ale named for John Darby - preacher of temperance whose parishioners were oddly moved by a "soft drink" they insisted was just fig juice...

Posted on 02/26/2007 4:08 PM by Robert Bove
Monday, 26 February 2007
By Their Past Kisses Chidden

"Chid" is a good word.

Mortals by God unheeden/By their past kisses chidden. -- a phrase in a poem, once read hard to forget, even if also hard to remember exactly, by Isaac Rosenberg, and though untitled by him, now often given the title "Wedded (I)."

A poem put up here, some months ago.

Posted on 02/26/2007 4:14 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 26 February 2007
Chinese Menus

If the Chinese restaurant you are sitting in does not have a separate menu for Chinese-reading patrons, it's not a very good Chinese restaurant.  However, you are getting the same food, with at most some minor differences in presentation and seasoning.  Of course, a long & complicated request for some special treatment will be more likely to be understood if made in Chinese.  There might be specialty dishes not on the English menu; but then, there might be specialty dishes not on the Chinese menu too. 

I can't account for the difference in pricing, and neither can my resident Chinese-culture consultant.  Indeed, the latter suggests that it would be better economics to charge Chinese customers more for the dishes, since they are, on the whole, lousy tippers.

Posted on 02/26/2007 4:23 PM by John Derbyshire
Monday, 26 February 2007
There Is Humor In Islam After All

Guardian

Iranian MPs have demanded an apology from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after teachers were given government-sponsored tests deemed "insulting" to the prophet Muhammad.

The exam - sat by teachers seeking promotion - provoked outrage by posing questions which appeared to degrade Islam's holiest figure by alluding to personal habits and proclivities. Most of the 40 multiple-choice questions have been judged so mocking that Iran's state-controlled media has refrained from publishing them.

One less offensive question, reproduced by local newspapers and websites, lists four choices when asking how Muhammad compared himself with the prophet Joseph. They are: "A) I am more beautiful than Joseph; B) Joseph is more beautiful than me; C) I am cuter than Joseph; D) Joseph is more beautiful than me but I am cuter than him." Others refer to his hair and beard colour.

The national teachers' representative body protested after the test was given to diploma and higher-diploma level teachers in Tehran province. The local education authority admitted the questions were "in bad taste" and withdrew them. An alternative exam is being drawn up for teachers who failed, although the results of those with pass marks have been declared valid.

Some MPs branded the incident a deliberate plot to undermine Iran's Islamic system and likened it to last year's row over Danish cartoons satirising Muhammad, which provoked outrage throughout the Muslim world after they were published in several European newspapers.

"What is the difference between these questions and the caricatures drawn in Denmark against the prophet?" said Emad Afrough, the fundamentalist head of the cultural committee in Iran's parliament.

The latest row has spurred parliamentarians to begin preparations for impeaching the education minister, Mahmoud Farshidi, who has apologised for the tests. However, MPs have dismissed his mea culpa as insufficient and have called on Mr Ahmadinejad to apologise on the government's behalf.

The president has declined to comment directly but said in a speech this week in the northern province of Gilan: "The unity, authority and dignity of the Iranian nation stems from sticking to the dignified presence of the dear prophet of Islam, Muhammad."

Teachers were given 30 hours off classroom duties to study a biography of the prophet by the late Ayatollah Muhammad Tabatabai, a Shia philosopher whose teachings inspired many senior figures in Iran's Islamic revolutionary movement. Its strong focus on personal characteristics - including hygiene, physical appearance and eating habits - was the subject of staffroom gossip and jokes. "Some teachers were even exchanging notes on the book's content in text messages," one teacher told the newspaper Etemade Melli.

Personal questions

The test posed questions on the minutiae of the prophet Muhammad's life, including:

God's prophet never ate food with

a) Two fingers

b) Three fingers

c) Four fingers

d) Five fingers

God's prophet's hair was

a) Black

b) White

c) With the exceptions of a few hairs, predominantly black

d) Whitened at the end of his life

What colour was the prophet's beard?

a) Totally white, even upon his chin

b) Totally black, even over his chin

c) White over the chin and the rest salt and pepper

d) Salt and pepper over the chin and the rest white

On which side did God's prophet sleep?

a) On his back

b) On his chest

b) To the right

d) To the left

Posted on 02/26/2007 5:33 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 26 February 2007
Tomb of famed director James Cameron found in Hollywood

One hand of the skeleton clutching a copy of the novel The DaVinci Code, the other a guide to the academic text Film Marketing During Lent.

Posted on 02/26/2007 5:35 PM by Robert Bove
Monday, 26 February 2007
Two-Tier Pricing

This two-tier pricing practice is akin to what used to go on in the good old Soviet Union, where Western visitors had to buy coupons (talony), from Intourist in advance, and sometimes never discovered that the price for room and board could be ten times that charged tourists from "friendly fellow socialist countries." This should be illegal.

Oh, and another thing. The museums of Europe, that are free for people from the E.U. but that dare to charge Americans as much as they charge people from North Korea or Japan or Saudi Arabia or Argentina,  Americans who with their tax money since World War II not only paid for the economic recovery of Europe in the Marshall Plan and a good deal besides, but also bankrolled NATO, and also maintained a defense and security establishment (Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, the bases in Germany, Italy, and Great Britain, and even in non-NATO Spain, and for a while, briefly, in Morocco, and in Libya), and then the Americans paid for Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Europe, and U-2 flights over the Soviet Union, and helped the "Leshiye" in the Baltic and other underground groups, and paid for the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and thus for Encounter Magazine, and offered subventions to the non-Communist Left, and supported a thousand things -- that American aid, that resulted finally in freedom for the countries formerly in the Soviet empire and orbit, and also, if the Russians had the wit to properly receive and nurture it, freedom for Russia itself, -- that was all paid for by Americans, the most generous and maligned people in the world.

Well, the museums are a small thing. But they are a symbolic thing. Every single European man, woman and child who goes to the Prado, or the Louvre, or the Uffizi, or the Rijksmuseum, or the Alte Pinakothek, or the National Gallery, should be reminded, at the entry, that there is one special country whose citizens will receive the same treatment, pay the same non-tariff, as members of the European Community.

And that country is the United States of America. Without it, Europe could not, and will not, stand.

Posted on 02/26/2007 5:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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