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Threats of Pain and Ruin
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
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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





















Thursday, 31 August 2006
If the blog has been unnaturally slow today...
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It's because we're all trying to get our new pieces up for the September issue of NER. I don't want to give too much away, but John Derbyshire's piece is a must read for anybody who ever cared about the civil rights movement....stay tuned...
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Posted on 08/31/2006 7:07 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
Gene Simmons, RIP
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One of our good friends in the music business has passed away.

TUPELO, Miss. - Rockabilly singer and songwriter Jumpin’ Gene Simmons, who worked with Elvis Presley and had a top 20 hit in 1964 with the bouncy “Haunted House,” has died. He was 69.

He died Tuesday at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo after a long illness, according to Holland-Harris Funeral Directors.

Simmons — not to be confused with the Kiss bassist with the same name — was in show business for more than 50 years, working with such names as Sam Phillips and the Bill Black Combo. More recently, he co-wrote “Indian Outlaw,” which became a big hit in 1994 for country superstar Tim McGraw.

But his biggest success came in 1964 with the novelty song “Haunted House,” which reached No. 11 on the Billboard pop chart and launched Simmons on a world tour.

Among other early gigs, he performed as an opening act for Presley in Tupelo, Presley’s birthplace and Simmons’ longtime hometown, as Presley’s career was taking off, said his son, Cary Simmons.

After appearing in some Memphis clubs, Simmons signed with Sun Records, the legendary Memphis label formed by Phillips that launched the careers of Presley, Johnny Cash and other stars.

But his biggest success came in 1964 with the novelty song “Haunted House,” which reached No. 11 on the Billboard pop chart and launched Simmons on a world tour...

So long, Gene.

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Posted on 08/31/2006 6:55 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
August Diary
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It's the last day of the month and so my Diary for August is up at NRO.
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Posted on 08/31/2006 1:15 PM by John Derbyshire
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
The Iran Follies, continued ...
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June 1, 2006:  Attempting to mollify skeptics who questioned the wisdom of both negotiating directly with the terrorist Iranian regime and offering it generous incentives, the New York Times reported that aides to Secretary of State Rice insisted that “the deal also commits China and Russia to a long list of specific steps to punish Iran if it refuses to halt its enrichment program.”

 

 

August 31, 2006:  The Wall Street Journal reports that the Bush administration officials are contemplating, at best, the proposal of low-level sanctions (such as travel restrictions on Iranian officials and curbs on dual-use technology trade), and possibly doing so outside the UN Security Council framework, because there is no commitment by China and Russia to sanctions, much less specific steps to punish Iran for refusing to halt its enrichment program.

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Posted on 08/31/2006 1:12 PM by Andy McCarthy
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
Cagney un der yidisher shprakh
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In this matter of knowing Yiddish Jimmy Cagney had not kissed the Blarney Stone. He was strictly on the level. "My movie star's a good movie star." Here are two examples from Cagney films:

"In the 1932 film "Taxi" a man anxious to get to Ellis Island to meet a recent arrival approaches a cab being driven by Cagney. Man (breathlessly):

"Ikh muz zikh aylen un geyn arunter tsu Elis Aylend!" Cagney (poking his head out the window): "Shvay, Shvayg! Ikh farshtey! Vilst geyn tsu Elis Aylend. Di vayb iz do??" Man: " Vo den! - (With surprise) Bist a yidisher yung!?" Cagney - " Nu vos den - a sheygets!? Khap zikh arayn."

The man quickly enters the taxi.

The second film is "The Fighting 69th" [1940] A group of World War 1 recruits are in formation for inspection and Cagney is standing next to a short Jewish soldier who just finished telling the sergeant that his name is Murphy. Sergeant "Did you say your name is Murphy?" Jewish Soldier: "I did your worship; save in your presence."
Sergeant: "What were you born?"
Soldier: "I was born a boy!" The sergeant walks away in disgust to peals of laughter from the other soldiers.
Cagney (turning to the soldier next to him): " Vos veys er! Er veyst fun gornisht!" Soldier: "Vos veyst er - er iz der balebos!" Cagney: "Nisht far mayn gelt!" While this may come across rather trite in print it is refreshingly cool to watch Cagney as the words come trippingly on the tongue in a glatik, varem, heymish yidish!

Mit vareme grusn,

Al Grand"

[taken from a website devoted to questions about Yiddish]

On the other hand, I've kissed and clipped the Blarney Stone many times.

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Posted on 08/31/2006 12:33 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
Some people will believe anything...
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Including: Drinking Heavy Water Helps Fight Cancer and AIDS.

No, I'm not kidding.

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Posted on 08/31/2006 12:26 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
Teaching the children
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The Israeli army finds propaganda in south Lebanon, and announces its find. And no doubt there will be a sharing of such information with Western governments as to how Hezbollah brainwashes children, enrolling them as recruits for Hezbollah, the Army of Allah.

But the IDF did not have to seek such material in southern Lebanon. It is on every wall in Gaza, in every school room in the Arab-occupied parts of Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"). Glorification of suicide-bombers, of murder of Jews, of murder of anyone who gets in the way, including suspected "collaborators" shot in the middle of town-squares and their bodies then kicked and mutilated to the delighted screams of the assembled spectators, including "Palestinian" children. And "Palestinian" television has children's shows in which the cutest little boys and girls are taught to sing songs about suicide-bombing, and when a little boy explains that when he grows up he wants to be a "shahid" the teacher-on-stage-set praises him for his proud choice.

But what it all comes back to is not the deliberate brainwashing of children to become suicide bombers or warriors for Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad (name your Muslim poison). What it comes back to is what was suddenly discovered by Western reporters just a few years ago, that in the textbooks of Saudi Arabia (and by the way, in the textbooks of Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, and many Muslim states) are to be found blood-curdling statements about non-Muslims. But those statements were not new; they were always in the Saudi textbooks. What was new was that at long last what would seem to have been the most obvous thing to inquire into -- what are children taught in Saudi Arabia - was simply off-limits, not a subject of inquiry.

Why not? Was it the decades of Aramco propaganda, that prevented any investigation of the nature of Saudi Arabia? Any intelligent expatriate worker, or for that matter any member of the American airforce in Saudi Arabia during the past decade, knows of the contempt, even open hostility, expressed by so many Saudis toward Infidels (the Saudis seldom need to employ those oleaginous wiles that come so naturally to others who need or want American aid, military and economic), including Americans. Was it the succession of ambassadors, from low-end James Akins, to high-end Richard Murphy, all of whom have ignored, have chosen to ignore, or are too lazy now to find out about, the most important subject of all -- Islam? Was it the army of Western hirelings, which naturally came to include many of those diplomats in their plush retirements, and former intelligence agents (such as Raymond Close) who directly or indirectly pushed the Saudi line, in lectures around the country, in "disinterested" Op/Ed articles, and so on -- and who have yet to face any reckoning with Congressional investigators, or the public, for their traitorous activities in helping to prevent the American govenment from having any sensible energy plan but instead relying for three decades on the pricing-and-production goals of "staunch ally Saudi Arabia."

I'd make them testify under oath. I'd find out who has been getting what, directly and indirectly, from Arab sources. I'd have Congress and the press hold them up for ridicule, so that in the next few decades, we won't have our energy policy continue to be made by those who have a paid stake in making us not see Saudi Arabia as a malevolent force, intent on using large parts of its oil revenues to fund various instruments of Jihad. I'd make them -- all of them -- disgorge their profits, and if some of them have already died, rich in honors, respectable men, with respectful obituaries, I'd see if anything could be done to recover from their heirs and assigns.

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Posted on 08/31/2006 9:24 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
American Support for Israel
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Daniel Pipes blogs an interesting poll here:

It's intuitive that Bible-believers stand with Israel more than others, but until now that's been (so far as I know) an anecdotal impression. Thanks to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, we now have some poll statistics.

The survey (of a nationwide sample of 2,003 adults, 18 years of age or older, taken July 6-19, 2006) found that the U.S. population as a whole sympathizes more with Israel than the Palestinians by 44 percent to 9 percent, a figure in line with many other polls on the subject. Americans who believe that "Israel was given by God to the Jews" sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians by 63 percent to 4 percent. Likewise, those seeing Israel as "the fulfillment of biblical prophecy" sympathize 60 percent versus 7 percent for the Palestinians.

Comments: (1) As I have said before, Christian Zionists are, after the Israel Defense Forces, the second most important strategic asset Israel has.

(2) These ratios of up to 16-to-1 are far higher than one would find among Jews in general, though not much different from those among Bible-believing Jews. (August 24, 2006)

So despite the main stream media's generally pro-Palestinian stance, sympathy for the jihad cause fails to crack 10% among average Americans who, unlike most journalists, manage to retain some common sense.

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Posted on 08/31/2006 9:04 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
Good fan behavior
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Is Alex Brown the Charles Johnson of thoroughbred horse racing?  The Cecil Whig reports:

Every day, about 12,000 people from around the world look to Alex Brown to answer one burning question: How’s Barbaro?

Ever since the Kentucky Derby-winning Fair Hill horse broke his leg in a tragic Preakness misstep, the Web site Brown maintains has become a premiere source for fans who need a daily dose of information.

Before May, Brown lived a quiet life exercising horses for four Fair Hill trainers including Tim Woolley, who has kept a stable at the training center for 11 years. As a side project, Brown also maintained the Web site www.timwoolleyracing.com, which then mostly listed racing stats on Woolley’s horses. Back then, about six people logged on the site per day, Brown said.

But that was before the gentle bay colt called Barbaro burst onto the national horseracing scene. Barbaro, who lived and trained next door to Woolley’s barn, astounded everyone when he won the Kentucky Derby by more than six lengths May 6. Two days later, Barbaro came back to Fair Hill a sudden star and started training for the May 20 Preakness.

Brown had an idea.

“I told (Woolley), ‘Let’s start putting up daily Barbaro updates, to try to build traffic to our Web site,’” Brown said.

Each day, he’d watch Barbaro scamper around the training track and he’d talk to the horse’s trainer, Michael Matz. Then he’d write an update and post it on Woolley’s site. The number of daily visitors to the site climbed to about 120 that week, Brown said.

Then came Preakness weekend. Barbaro burst through the starting gate early. He shattered his leg minutes later and paramedics rushed him to the New Bolton Center for Large Animals in Kennett Square, Pa. with the outlook grim.

“After the disaster at Preakness, everyone in Fair Hill was devastated,” Brown said. “It was just such a shock. We weren’t going to cover Barbaro anymore.”

More here.
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Posted on 08/31/2006 7:12 AM by Robert Bove
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
The word's getting out
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A letter in today's New York Sun:

‘Achilles' Heel'

While Mark Steyn did an excellent portrayal of the aggressive spirit of Islam, Mr. Steyn states he does not believe that the Islamic radicals have been influenced by the fascist of the 20th Century [Oped, "Achilles' Heel," August 28, 2006]. But there is a direct link to the Islamic radicals and the Nazis. Amin Al Husseini was the founder and President of the World Islamic Congress and was also the leader of the SS Hanzar division. During WWII the Hanzar division was made up exclusively of Muslims and numbered over 100,000 members. Al Husseini spent the war in Germany and advised Hitler and Himmler. Al Husseini went on to be one of the founders of the Arab league, a close advisor to Egyptian President Nasser, and a leader of the Pan-Arab movement. He was also a mentor of Yasser Arafat. He is the main person responsible for the ideology of the present day Islamic Fascists.

KRISTINE WITHERS
Jackson Heights, N.Y.
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Posted on 08/31/2006 6:55 AM by Robert Bove
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
On being foolishly elvish
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Peter Kreeft, in a Tolkien context:

Nobility, not perfection.  In The Silmarillion, the Elves' history, like ours, is mainly war, tragedy, and darkness.  They envy us our mortality, as we envy them their immortality.  (Envy is one of the stupidest of sins, the only one that never caused a single moment of even false joy.)  Though Tolkien is both temperamentally and ideologically conservative, the Elves are bad conservatives:  they want to embalm the present.  Seeing the downward slant of the present, they try to preserve the past.  They are not evil like Sauron, who always wants to sing “I Did It My Way”, but they are foolish because they sing “I Believe in Yesterday”.  We too are foolishly Elvish when we want to hold onto our youth, or the initial experience of falling in love, or when we seek the enoughness of eternity that we all innately long for in places where it can never be, somewhere in time.

Using this definition, but in the current political context, it seems it is nostalgic liberals who are being foolishly Elvish (for Move On read Move Back), their vision of the future being fogbound, their rewriting of the past Soviet-style.
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Posted on 08/31/2006 6:24 AM by Robert Bove
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Thursday, 31 August 2006
Carter offers to meet Khatami
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In November 2004 Amir Taheri, an Iranian long exiled in Paris and now in the United States, wrote a very acute column on the role played by Carter, and Brzezinski (and Andrew Young puts in his own ineffable appearance), in solidifying the hold of Khomeini over Iran.

Here is that column:

'AMERICA CAN'T DO A THING'
by Amir Taheri
New York Post
November 2, 2004


"AMERICANS will certainly have 9/11 in mind when they vote today. But they should keep another date in mind, too — one almost exactly a quarter-century ago: Nov. 4, 1979. A clear path runs to 9/11 from the day of the raid on the U.S. embassy in Tehran and the seizure of American hostages.

The 1979 embassy attack came at a time when the administration of President Jimmy Carter was trying to prop up the new Khomeinist regime in Tehran.

Carter had decided to support Khomeini in the context of the so-called "Green Belt" strategy developed by National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. That strategy was based on the assumption that the United States and its allies were unable to contain the Soviet Union, then expanding its zone of influence into Africa, the Indian Ocean region and, through left-leaning regimes, in Latin America. To counter that expanding threat, Brzezinski envisaged the creation of a string of Islamic allies that, for religious and political reasons, would prefer the United States against the "godless" Soviet empire.

The second stage in Brzezinski's grand strategy was to incite the Muslim peoples of the Soviet Union to revolt against Moscow and thus frustrate its global schemes.

The Bzrezinski strategy had been partly inspired by Helene Carrere d'Encausse, who, in her book "The Fragmented Empire," predicted the disintegration of the Soviet Union as a result of revolts by Muslim minorities.

When the Islamic revolution started in Iran, the Carter administration saw it as the confirmation of its assumption that only Islamists could muster enough popular support to provide an alternative to both the existing regime and the pro-Soviet leftist movements.

The Carter administration went out of its way to support the new regime in Tehran. A ban imposed on the sale of arms and materiel to Iran, imposed in 1978, was lifted, and a 1954 presidential "finding" by Dwight Eisenhower was dusted off to reaffirm Washington's commitment to defending Iran against Soviet or other threats.

Also to symbolize support for the mullahs, President Carter initially rejected a visa application for the exiled shah to travel to New York for medical treatment.

Just weeks after the mullahs' regime was formed, Brzezinski traveled to Morocco to meet Mehdi Bazargan, Ayatollah Khomeini's first prime minister. At the meeting, Brzezinski invited the new Iranian regime to enter into a strategic partnership with the United States. Bazargan, concerned that the Iranian left might bid for power against the still wobbly regime of the mullahs, was "ecstatic" about the American offer.

The embassy raid came just days after the Brzezinski-Bazargan meeting in Morocco and, by all accounts, took Khomeini by surprise. It is now clear that leftist groups opposed to rapprochement with the United States had inspired the raid.

Khomeini saw it as a leftist ploy to undermine his authority. He was also concerned about the possibility of the United States taking strong military and political action against his still fragile regime.

Deciding to hedge his bets, the ayatollah played a double game for several days, waiting to gauge the American reaction.

According to his late son Ahmad, who had been asked to coordinate with the embassy-raiders, the ayatollah feared "thunder and lightning" from Washington. But what came, instead, was a series of bland statements by Carter and his aides pleading for the release of the hostages on humanitarian grounds.

Carter's envoy to the United Nations, a certain Andrew Young, described Khomeini as "a 20th-century saint," and begged the ayatollah to show "magnanimity and compassion."

Carter went further by sending a letter to Khomeini.

Written in longhand, it was an appeal from "one believer to a man of God."

Carter's syrupy prose must have amused Khomeini, who preferred a minimalist style with such phrases as "we shall cut off America's hands."

As days passed, with the U.S. diplomats paraded in front of TV cameras blindfolded and threatened with execution, it became increasingly clear that there would be no "thunder and lightning" from Washington. By the end of the first week of the drama (which was to last for 444 days, ending as Ronald Reagan entered the White House), Khomeini's view of America had changed.

Ahmad Khomeini's memoirs echo the surprise that his father, the ayatollah, showed, as the Carter administration behaved "like a headless chicken."

What especially surprised Khomeini was that Cater and his aides, notably Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, rather than condemning the seizure and the treatment of the hostages as a barbarous act, appeared apologetic for unspecified mistakes supposedly committed by the United States and asked for forgiveness and magnanimity.

Once he had concluded that America would not take any meaningful action against his regime, Khomeini took over control of the hostage enterprise and used it to prop up his "anti-imperialist" credentials while outflanking the left.

The surprising show of weakness from Washington also encouraged the mullahs and the hostage-holders to come up with a fresh demand each day. Started as a revolutionary gesture, the episode soon led to a demand for the United States to capture and hand over the shah for trial. When signals came that Washington might actually consider doing so, other demands were advanced. The United States was asked to apologize to Muslim peoples everywhere and, in effect, change its foreign policy to please the ayatollah.

Matters worsened when a military mission to rescue the hostages ended in tragedy in the Iranian desert. The force dispatched by Carter fled under the cover of night, leaving behind the charred bodies of eight of their comrades.

In his memoirs, Ahmad nicely captures the mood of his father, who had expected the Americans to do "something serious," such as threatening to block Iran's oil exports or even firing a few missiles at the ayatollah's neighborhood.

But not only did none of that happen, the Carter administration was plunged into internal feuds as Vance resigned in protest of the rescue attempt.

It was then that Khomeini coined his notorious phrase, "America cannot do a damn thing."

He also ordered that the slogan "Death to America" be inscribed in all official buildings and vehicles. The U.S. flag was to be painted at the entrance of airports, railway stations, ministries, factories, schools, hotels and bazaars so that the faithful could trample it under their feet every day.

The slogan "America cannot do a damn thing" became the basis of all strategies worked out by Islamist militant groups, including those opposed to Khomeini.

That slogan was tested and proved right for almost a quarter of a century. Between Nov. 4, 1979, and 9/11, a total of 671 Americans were held hostage for varying lengths of time in several Muslim countries. Nearly 1,000 Americans were killed, including 241 Marines blown up while sleeping in Beirut in 1983.

For 22 years the United States, under presidents from both parties, behaved in exactly the way that Khomeini predicted. It took countless successive blows, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, without decisive retaliation. That attitude invited, indeed encouraged, more attacks.

The 9/11 tragedy was the denouement of the Nov. 4 attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran."

The shallow machiavellanism of Brzezinski, with his notion that Islam was not to be worried about because it was a "bulwark against Communism" and Muslims could help destroy the Soviet Union (as it turned out, the Soviet Union did not disintegrate, pace Helene Carrere d'Encausse or Alexandre Bennigsen, or especially Zbigniew Brzezinski, but because of the disaffection that extended beyond the highest classes of the intelligentsia, to those who were in the nomenklatura, and whose children often attended school, with the children of those dissidents, in such prestigious places of higher education as the Institut Vostochnykh Yazykov (Institute of Eastern Languages), and of course Reagan's refusal to permanently contemplate mere "co-existence," and the attitude of his administration, had a galvanizing effect on many in Russia. As for Brzezinski's notion that the "Muslim peoples" would rise up against Soviet power -- there was no hint of it, even if some Muslim soldiers did betray their non-Muslim fellow soldiers in the army in Afghanistan. Brzezinski was not slightly wrong about Islam and about Iran -- he was totally, completely wrong. His mind was incapable of managing to think clearly about Islam; he was a child of the Cold War and possessed a fixation on Russia that went beyond any hostility to or fear of Communism.

Carter was, and remains, a sappy-sentimentalist, one who has shown his spots repeatedly, as in his offer to advise Arafat on public-relations, and in his ill-concealed antipathy to Begin, and of course his utter inability to empathize with, or even to understand, what the Israelis face, and what worries them. And part of his sappy sentimentalism was his belief -- far more advanced a case than anything that Bush has presented -- that people "of faith" are necessarily good people. As Taheri notes above, "[w]ritten in longhand, it was an appeal from 'one believer to a man of God.'" Yes, that was Khomeini through and through, for Jimmy Carter: a "man of God."

Andrew Young's description of Khomeini as a "20th-century saint" needs no comment.

These were the people in charge of the government of the United States , from January of 1977 to January 1981, the period when the Shah fell and Khomeini rose, and consolidated his power, and had his Judge Khalkhali start the judicial executions (beginning with prominent Jews and Bahais) and forced through the legislation that mattered to him most – and what came first was the reduction in the age at which girls could be married (or forced to marry), to nine years, on the model of little Aisha.

That was the Carter, that was how he and Brzezinski saw Iran. And neither one has ever shown the slightest embarrassment, expressed the slightest regret, over their colossal series of errors. Nothing Bush has done, stupid and obstinate as he has been in refusing to recognize the ethnic and sectarian fissures within Iraq as useful, as something to be encouraged, has approached what they did, in their four awful years, when the sum total of their accomplishments was to force Israel to turn over, in three tranches, the entire Sinai to Egypt (and to confuse Saint Sadat, or the presumed Saint Sadat, with Egypt), and to let Khomeini, all of whose views had long before been set down by the Ayatollah, but who – Gary Sick? – in the Administration was capable of reading Farsi, or even thinking of getting someone to find out what this Ayatollah was all about – no one did. Yes, and there was one more thing: the oil price rise of 1979, when a leader might have roused the public, might have insisted on a Manhattan Project. Carter put on a sweater, and gave a fireside chat. His conduct of foreign policy was a series of one disaster after another. Yet he continues with his holier-than-thou performances, including that visit to North Korea where he cleared up everything for us, didn’t he? Posterity will not be kind to him, or to the egregious Brzezinski, who deserved him, and whom he deserved.

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Posted on 08/31/2006 5:55 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Theology, anybody? Anybody?
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But not the theology of Islam's one-eyed God.  Says Edward T. Oakes, S.J.:

“Philosophy asks unanswerable questions; theology gives unquestionable answers.” According to John Caputo, author of the astonishingly lucid book Philosophy and Theology, the anonymous wag who first coined that sardonic witticism can only have been born in the twentieth century. We know that (rough) date for a fact because, even if we cannot track down its first citation on Lexis-Nexis, we can recognize in ourselves two gut-reaction attitudes, both of which have been handed down to us by the relatively recent past: We are simultaneously suspicious of religious authority (inherited from the so-called Age of Reason), and yet we despair of the deliverances of reason (the legacy of postmodern skepticism). Kant told us that theology must be confined “within the limits of reason alone,” but Nietzsche showed that this boundary-policing reason has failed to deliver on its promises, since its claims are nothing but disguised power plays. So neither philosophy nor theology can avail, it would seem, and all we are left with is the din of unanswerable questions trying to shout down unquestionable answers.

Though Joyceans may well balk, the rest may  read the rest.
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Posted on 08/30/2006 5:22 PM by Robert Bove
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Wait and see
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The phrase "barthesian mytheme" has elicited a certain amount of curiosity. What is it? How do you pronounce it?

That's for me to know and you to find out. All will be revealed in next week's Pseudsday Tuesday column. See you next Tuesday, as they say.

There are two rules of blogging:

Rule 1: Always leave them wanting more.

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Posted on 08/30/2006 3:10 PM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
A well-oiled negative-metaphor machine
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New York's senior senator, Chuck Schumer, may be the most potent gusher of figurative language in our times.  James Taranto has been covering Chuck for some time at Opinion Journal.  Here's my senator's latest masterpiece:

New York's Sen. Chuck Schumer, quoted by the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, opines on the forthcoming election:

"This administration is shrugging its shoulders. . . . It's like 'The Wizard of Oz' -- it showed the man behind the screen. . . . You know which way the winds are blowing. . . . There have been very few bumps in the road. . . . The wind continues to stay at our backs. . . . The idea that there should be no check and balance, no congressional oversight, just isn't flying. They want to try to bring back the 2004 playbook. . . . They're trying to find a new rabbit to pull out of the hat, but so far they've gone back to the old chestnuts." . . .

"They're going to bring up the same old chestnuts in one form or other, and it's not going to work," Schumer continued. "Digging the hole deeper makes a difference. . . . The real way they can get well is a change in course. That's what America wants, a new direction. . . . We have an uphill road in the sense that the map is a tough map, but we're feeling very good. . . . The meat-and-potato issues are the Democratic base. . . . There's a big wind at Democrats' backs. . . . The national winds tend to blow better in Senate races, but we have a tougher map."

What, no dagger? Seems to us, though that Schumer is counting his chickens before they're hatched, and that could backfire, leaving him licking his wounds.

After all, as Ron Sirak has observed, "The problem with history is that it gets old in a hurry, falling from our forward vision into the peripheral, then tumbling to the rearview mirror with astonishing swiftness until it fades into a tiny speck fighting for space on the limited chip of memory."

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Posted on 08/30/2006 3:03 PM by Robert Bove
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Little eloi factories
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The Fjordman reports via Gates of Vienna on the deep penetration into Western universities by PC multiculturalists and agents of jihad:

Writer Mark Steyn comments on how “out in the real world it seems the true globalization success story of the 1990s was the export of ideology from a relatively obscure part of the planet to the heart of every Western city.” “Writing about the collapse of nations such as Somalia, the Atlantic Monthly’s Robert D. Kaplan referred to the “citizens” of such “states” as “re-primitivized man.”

“When lifelong Torontonians are hot for decapitation, when Yorkshiremen born and bred and into fish ‘n’ chips and cricket and lousy English pop music self-detonate on the London Tube, it would seem that the phenomenon of “re-primitivized man” has been successfully exported around the planet. It’s reverse globalization: The pathologies of the remotest backwaters now have franchise outlets in every Western city.”

It is possible to see a connection here. While Multiculturalism is spreading ideological tribalism in our universities, it is spreading physical tribalism in our major cities. Since all cultures are equal, there is no need to preserve Western civilization, nor to uphold our laws.

It is true that we may never fully reach the ideal of objective truth, since we are all more or less limited in our understanding by our personal experiences and our prejudice. However, this does not mean that we should abandon the ideal. That’s what has happened during the past decades. Our colleges aren’t even trying to seek truth; they have decided that there is no such thing as “truth” in the first place, just different opinions and cultures, all equally valid. Except Western culture, which is inherently evil and should be broken down and “deconstructed.” Western Universities have moved from the Age of Reason to the Age of Deconstruction.

While Chinese, Indian, Korean and other Asian Universities are graduating millions of motivated engineers and scientists every year, Western Universities have been reduced to little hippie factories, teaching about the wickedness of the West and the blessings of barbarism. This represents a serious challenge to the long-term economic competitiveness of Western nations. That’s bad, but it is the least of our worries. Far worse than failing to compete with non-Muslim Asians is failing to identify the threat from Islamic nations who want to subdue us and wipe out our entire civilization. That is a failure we quite simply cannot live with. And we probably won’t, unless we manage to deal with it.

Read it all.
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Posted on 08/30/2006 2:40 PM by Robert Bove
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Under The Biltmore clock
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"under the clock at the Astor at seven"...
-- from a reader in response to this post

Biltmore. In New York, not Asheville. But when they meet, that man and that woman, they are not likely to be going off to an Irish bar akin either to the real one described by Mitchell, or tro the imagined one carefully undescribed by Finley Peter Dunne. No, if headed unbedwards, and in those chaste movies they always were, it would be to a nightclub. Not the noisy kind, not the raucous Prohibition-era place (the rap on the door, the peep-hole, the password, the promised raid by the police with the whistles blowing and the paddy-wagon filling up outside with those dancing girls) that was a staple in certain kinds of crime movies starring Jimmy Cagney or Edward G. Robinson (both of whom could have exchanged stories on the set in Yiddish), but rather a place in the early 1930s, without those speakeasy noises on and off, and where the swells gathered -- say, isn't that Edward Everett Horton, playing the upper-class twit from Tuxedo Park or Oyster Bay, chatting up the cigarette-girl? -- but the decibel-level diminished, and there was time for Boy and Girl, or Man and Woman, to talk.

No, if you were to meet someone under the Biltmore clock, and then went to sit somewhere over a drink, that place would not be presided over by McSorley or Mr. Dooley. And the drinks would not have been a beer and gin and whiskey, or an Anna-Christie don't-be-stingy-baby viskey, baby, but rather cocktails for two, we'll take manhattans, and dry martinis, and singapore slings, and there will be a cigarette that bears a lipstick's traces, and smoke will get in your eyes, and let's face it, at least one of us will be bewitched, bothered, and bewildered, but still I can't get started, and perhaps much later at least one of us will discover that a big mistake was made when you agreed to meet me, fatidically, under the Biltmore clock.

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Posted on 08/30/2006 1:15 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Conflict in Lebanon for Dummies
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Conflict In Lebanon For Dummies From the People's Cube
By Red Square
8/25/2006, 3:16 pm


As the great progressive leader Joseph Stalin may have said, "It's not what really happens, it's what we write about it that matters." We can never underestimate the importance of proper screening of individuals who narrate history for the masses - from news services and talk shows to school teachers and entertainers. To our credit we have a firm grip on all of the above. One of the most prominent members of the academic community in this respect is Professor Kurgman, PhD, PhD, PhD, who has kindly written for the People's Cube a brief yet masterful summary of the recent conflict in the Middle East. Not only does it correctly capture the way the events were covered by world's progressive media, it is also destined to enter the annals of history as the sole unquestionable resource for social scientists of the future.

~
The Progressive History Of Conflict In Lebanon
by Professor Kurgman, PhD, PhD, PhD

 
Historical Revisionism is the reexamination of historical facts, with an eye towards updating historical narratives with newly discovered, more accurate, or less biased information, acknowledging that history of an event, as it has been traditionally told, may not be entirely accurate. Taking this idea even further, Professor Kurgman has pioneered a new trend in social science called "Futuristic Revisionism" that deals with "updating news reporting with more accurate and less biased information in real time" as the events unfold. Besides the benefit of helping the unwashed masses to develop the correct view of world events, this approach is meant to create a desired view of events for journalists and historians of the distant future, when all the memory of current events will have been completely erased (e.g., next election cycle)
In the summer of 2006, the Zionist populace of Israel, spoiled by joint ventures with Intel and Motorola, and their biotechnology inventions (which were all stolen from the Islam anyway) unanimously decided, "To hell with technology and commerce; we need to murder Lebanese civilian babies instead." The Zionist war-machine then developed a clever trick called "boomerang rockets" - launched from Israel into Lebanon, hundreds of them boomeranged back into Israel, fooling the world community about their true origin. This went on for quite a while without much effect, until two Zionist soldiers ran into the unsuspecting arms of workers for the Social Service Agency Hezbollah, and said, "Bring us into Lebanon, so that we can kill your civilian children for our religious rituals."

The Hezbollah workers bravely resisted, but the two Zionist soldiers prevailed, and invaded Lebanon. Immediately, other Zionist soldiers couldn't resist the temptation and they too began to invade Lebanon in droves, to slaughter children and steal body parts. Their Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proclaimed, "To the Lebanese people, we say, 'We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you." Two days later, the Israeli-Lebanon border was jammed with cargo vehicles, returning with Muslim body parts to use in their so-called biotechnology inventions.

Disgusted by such disproportionate aggression, the civilized world from China to Nigeria to Russia and France objected - but as role models for peace, they were ignored.

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Posted on 08/30/2006 1:01 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Dead Popular Poetry Society News
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To be more precise, John, large audiences for poetry on the printed page have gone on to other media—a phenomena that surfaced long before the Internet.  The last poet who enjoyed a popular audience in the U.S. was Rod McKuen (unjustly reviled by critics inside and outside of less-than gratefully dead academe), who was in fact wildly popular.  Before him, Robert Frost, who still sells books.  The 19th Century had its Longfellows and Whittiers. 

Where have the audiences gone?  Poet Dana Gioia made the case not long before he was chosen to head the National Endowment for the Arts that Rap and Cowboy Poetry, each with huge audiences, are poetry.  One can pic nits whether most song lyrics are just verse and not poetry, but a Cole Porter or Bob Dylan lyric, say, can bear repeated reading with or without music.  Some lyrics even compel repeated listening.

And, I would suggest that one reason many still read the Psalms and the Song of Solomon is that their poetics help drive home the message.

Do I think much of Rap or of people who enjoy it?  Of course not.  But that’s beside the point.
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Posted on 08/30/2006 11:47 AM by Robert Bove
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
"I seen my opportunities and I took ´┐Żem"
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The originator of that phrase was George Washington Plunkitt:

"Everybody is talkin‘ these days about Tammany men growin’ rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin‘ the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft. There’s all the difference in the world between the two. Yes, many of our men have grown rich in politics. I have myself. I’ve made a big fortune out of the game, and I’m gettin’ richer every day, but I’ve not gone in for dishonest graft—blackmailin' gamblers, saloonkeepers, disorderly people, etc.—and neither has any of the men who have made big fortunes in politics.

There’s an honest graft, and I’m an example of how it works. I might sum up the whole thing by sayin‘: “I seen my opportunities and I took ’em.”

Just let me explain by examples. My party’s in power in the city, and it’s goin' to undertake a lot of public improvements. Well, I’m tipped off, say, that they’re going to lay out a new park at a certain place.

I see my opportunity and I take it. I go to that place and I buy up all the land I can in the neighborhood. Then the board of this or that makes its plan public, and there is a rush to get my land, which nobody cared particular for before.

Ain’t it perfectly honest to charge a good price and make a profit on my investment and foresight? Of course, it is. Well, that’s honest graft. Or supposin‘ it’s a new bridge they’re goin’ to build. I get tipped off and I buy as much property as I can that has to be taken for approaches. I sell at my own price later on and drop some more money in the bank.

Wouldn’t you? It’s just like lookin‘ ahead in Wall Street or in the coffee or cotton market. It’s honest graft, and I’m lookin’ for it every day in the year. I will tell you frankly that I’ve got a good lot of it, too.

I’ll tell you of one case. They were goin‘ to fix up a big park, no matter where. I got on to it, and went lookin’ about for land in that neighborhood.

I could get nothin' at a bargain but a big piece of swamp, but I took it fast enough and held on to it. What turned out was just what I counted on. They couldn’t make the park complete without Plunkitt’s swamp, and they had to pay a good price for it. Anything dishonest in that?

Up in the watershed I made some money, too. I bought up several bits of land there some years ago and made a pretty good guess that they would be bought up for water purposes later by the city.

Somehow, I always guessed about right, and shouldn’t I enjoy the profit of my foresight? It was rather amusin' when the condemnation commissioners came along and found piece after piece of the land in the name of George Plunkitt of the Fifteenth Assembly District, New York City. They wondered how I knew just what to buy. The answer is—I seen my opportunity and I took it. I haven’t confined myself to land; anything that pays is in my line.

For instance, the city is repavin' a street and has several hundred thousand old granite blocks to sell. I am on hand to buy, and I know just what they are worth.

How? Never mind that. I had a sort of monopoly of this business for a while, but once a newspaper tried to do me. It got some outside men to come over from Brooklyn and New Jersey to bid against me.

Was I done? Not much. I went to each of the men and said: “How many of these 250,000 stones do you want?” One said 20,000, and another wanted 15,000, and other wanted 10,000. I said: “All right, let me bid for the lot, and I’ll give each of you all you want for nothin'.”

They agreed, of course. Then the auctioneer yelled: “How much am I bid for these 250,000 fine pavin' stones?”

“Two dollars and fifty cents,” says I.

“Two dollars and fifty cents” screamed the auctioneer. “Oh, that’s a joke Give me a real bid.”

He found the bid was real enough. My rivals stood silent. I got the lot for $2.50 and gave them their share. That’s how the attempt to do Plunkitt ended, and that’s how all such attempts end.

I’ve told you how I got rich by honest graft. Now, let me tell you that most politicians who are accused of robbin' the city get rich the same way.

They didn’t steal a dollar from the city treasury. They just seen their opportunities and took them. That is why, when a reform administration comes in and spends a half million dollars in tryin' to find the public robberies they talked about in the campaign, they don’t find them.

The books are always all right. The money in the city treasury is all right. Everything is all right. All they can show is that the Tammany heads of departments looked after their friends, within the law, and gave them what opportunities they could to make honest graft. Now, let me tell you that’s never goin' to hurt Tammany with the people. Every good man looks after his friends, and any man who doesn’t isn’t likely to be popular. If I have a good thing to hand out in private life, I give it to a friend. Why shouldn’t I do the same in public life?

Another kind of honest graft. Tammany has raised a good many salaries. There was an awful howl by the reformers, but don’t you know that Tammany gains ten votes for every one it lost by salary raisin'?

The Wall Street banker thinks it shameful to raise a department clerk’s salary from $1500 to $1800 a year, but every man who draws a salary himself says: “That’s all right. I wish it was me.” And he feels very much like votin' the Tammany ticket on election day, just out of sympathy.

Tammany was beat in 1901 because the people were deceived into believin‘ that it worked dishonest graft. They didn’t draw a distinction between dishonest and honest graft, but they saw that some Tammany men grew rich, and supposed they had been robbin’ the city treasury or levyin‘ blackmail on disorderly houses, or workin’ in with the gamblers and lawbreakers.

As a matter of policy, if nothing else, why should the Tammany leaders go into such dirty business, when there is so much honest graft lyin' around when they are in power? Did you ever consider that?

Now, in conclusion, I want to say that I don’t own a dishonest dollar. If my worst enemy was given the job of writin' my epitaph when I’m gone, he couldn’t do more than write:

"George W. Plunkitt. He Seen His Opportunities, and He Took 'Em."

Source: William L. Riordan, Plunkitt of Tammany Hall (1905; reprint, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1963 ), 3–6.


Well, with a tip of the hat to those days, and now I think I'd like to visit McSorley's Wonderful Saloon with the ghost of Joseph Mitchell, or even better, the saloon run by Mr. Dooley, in peace and war, with the ghost of Finley Peter Dunne.

Care to join me? My treat.

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Posted on 08/30/2006 11:06 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Stop the Jihad in its African Tracks
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The seizure by Western, NATO forces, using American airpower -- is there any thought of an American base in Ethiopia, the last known address of that fabled Christian king Prester John, and a name which resonates as much today in some minds as it did when the Negus, Haile Selassie, showed up to plead his case before the League of Nations. That mental substratum (Selassie, Ethiopia, fascism, the Christian kingdom beyond the Muslim-conquered lands led by Prester John who would help to rescue beleaguered Western Christendom) can be appealed to, can be played upon. And if a few thousand American and Western troops can wipe out the Janjaweed in a day, which is merely an agent of the Khartoum regime, this will hearten black Africans, especially Christians, everywhere -- in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia itself), in southern Africa (including those in South Africa who in Cape Town have experienced the intermittent acts of nightclub-bombing that the devotees of Islam engage in to remind everyone of the immorality of alcohol and other mild diversions), and of course in West Africa, especially in southern Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast (where the Christian fear of foreign Muslims has been regarded with cruel indifference, even hostility, by the French government that, as we all remember thought nothing of destroying, at one blow, the entire ivoirian air force, and has shown in other ways its hostility to the Christian leaders, and popular street movement, determined not to let the Ivory Coast be overwhelmed).

The West has been here before, with the Mad Mahdi, and The Four Feathers (see the old movie, then read the recently-republished book), and Chinese Gordon, and Kitchener of Khartoum. Yes, and Churchill's "The River Wars." But this time it is not that "we have the gatling gun and they have not" but rather -- we have the planes, the helicopters, the everything, and they have not.

Think of the pictures -- the photographs, not the fauxtogrphs -- of those grateful black faces surrounding the American troops (some of them also black). Think of that spectacle. Think of the declaration that Darfur, and for that matter the entire southern Sudan, which has endured over the past 20 years enslavement and mass murder of the black African Christians and animists, will be "protected" -- yes, the Protected Peoples, but not as Islam defines them -- until such time as a referendum can be arranged. Oh, let the U.N. do the arranging, and let the Muslim, especially Muslim Arab states, raise Cain, raise holy hell, do whatever they can to stop this, and thereby, of course, with each maneuver, and each feint, they will only be demonstrating, to the world's non-Muslims but also the world's non-Arab Muslims, the Arab supremacist doctrine of which Islam has always been the most powerful, most horse-powered vehicle.

Stop the Jihad in its African tracks. Do everything to force Infidels into no longer denying the evidence of their senses. Pull off the cloak of camouflage wherever it exists (as with that careful repackaging of the Lesser Jihad against Israel as merely a striving for the "rights of the 'Palestinian' people." Create situations, through the often modest application of military force, that will expose the fault lines of Islam, between Arab and non-Arab Muslims.

It would take very little. Far less than is risked, or squandered, every day, in tarbaby Iraq. But that tarbaby is using up men, materiel, money, and morale, and getting in the way not of the "war on terror," but the much larger war, using against those promoting Jihad, the very instruments that they employ, or at least diminishing their successful employment of such instruments. Lessen their ability to accumulate, and then deploy, the "money weapon"; make propaganda -- or rather, simply tell the truth, constantly, about the doctrine and practice of Islam over 1350 years, and do not worry about alienating so-called "moderate" Muslims. Their cooperation will be obtained not by lying about Islam, but by threatening their interests, threatening to harm them economically and to expel them from their comfortable positions in the West. That is what will obtain their cooperation with Western security services -- that, and those willing to spy for money, or subject to the kind of pressures that security services in some other countries have employed so so successfully.

There are opportunities.

Iraq presents the perfect opportunity to resurrect, in some fashion, the Iran-Iraq War, by allowing the permanent sectarian split to widen, and doing nothing to prevent the sending of arms, money, and "volunteers" by both Sunni Arab states, and by Iran -- let them, and don't worry about the final outcome, because the situation is such that no final winner is likely ever to emerge, and the fault line between Sunni Islam and Shi'a Islam will run through Iraq, and forever be threatening tremors as far away as Pakistan, Yemen, and Lebanon.

And Sudan presents another: the opportunity to push back the forces of Islam, to foil the Egyptian and Arab League attempt to further islamize the southern Sudan and further arabize Darfur, in the hope of completely refashioning that artificial construct, the largest so-called country in Africa, and then on, ever on, to Ethiopia.

Who was that political boss or magnate in the Mauve Decade who famously said when queried by investigators or journalists, hoping to exculpate himself: "I seen my opportunities, and I took 'em." He was just one more malefactor of great wealth, trying to offer some semi-plausible and semi-humorous defense for his outrageous behavior.

But it's not a bad idea for the Bush Administration, or any successor, to be able to say about the war, the world-wide Resistance, to the forces of Jihad (or Jihad and Shari'a, if you wish):

"We seen our opportunities, and we took 'em."

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Posted on 08/30/2006 10:53 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Doing Away with God
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Michael Pakaluk has a good response to Heather Mac Donald here.
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Posted on 08/30/2006 9:41 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
The Venerable David Gunn-Johnson explains it all to us
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A reader just sent this to me. It really is creepy. Ignorance knows no bounds.

This is Thought for the Day from the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. The speaker is Venerable David Gunn-Johnson, Archdeacon of Barnstaple (in Devon in the far south west of England). 1min 15 he starts talking about Islam. He tells the story of how "pilgrims" came to visit (on their Haj!!!) and he let them stay in the church hall. Sounds a lot to me like Muslim's praying in a place to turn it into a place of worship and claim it for Allah... He also mentions what all the trees and blades of grass will do at the end of days: I'm sure they didn't explain to to him how they'll scream out about the Jews!
 
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Posted on 08/30/2006 9:06 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
A Triumphant Misfit
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Popular poetry is dead, dead, dead here in the states. But read Betjeman! At least read my tribute to him here.
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Posted on 08/30/2006 8:23 AM by John Derbyshire
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Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Overreaction is good
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David Warren has a fine column up today regarding the kind of sub-men and women the West is breeding these days.  I see cowardice akin to what he describes every day, albeit (and thank God) not under these terrifying circumstances:

I created a scene with a column, many years ago, when I wrote about the young men in the corridors of the University of Montreal, who stood by and watched while Gamil Garbi (alias Marc Lépine) shot fourteen women to death. To a man (if you could call them men), they explained afterwards, “We couldn’t do anything, he had a gun.” As I pointed out at the time, we have bred young men who will stand by and watch a psychopath shoot defenceless women, so long as he assures them he will not shoot them. And we have bred the young women these young men deserve.

Men without chests, men without character, men who don’t think twice.

On the other hand:  United Flight 93 and the heroes at the Pentagon and WTC on 9/11.  But, to bolster Warren's case: the professor who emailed me in response to an essay of mine in support of the men who risked--and lost--their lives that day:  "Ah, yes.  The strong men."  He saw them--and not the terrorists--as wolves.  He was the first to say to me following that day, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."  That professor was also the first of my friends I turned my back on in "overreaction."  When my wife read the email, she who knew seven of those killed in the WTC attacks, she wished out loud he were in the room so she could break his jaw.  If he had been, I would have wished him two jaws, one for each of us.
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Posted on 08/30/2006 7:00 AM by Robert Bove
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