Saturday, February 25, 2006

The strange attraction of Islam

Aatish Taseer quotes a friend on the attraction of Islam for him:
"In the west, we are all about rights, but we have forgotten about limits."

"The only immorality in the west these days, is to speak of morality. I am so tired of this hedonistic lifestyle, I want something simple."
I'm not all that sure Islam is all that simple, or the answer to the loss of moral values in the West. It certainly seems more tolerant of murder and subjugation of others than Christianity. It's as balkanized as Christianity, but only partially committed to tolerance within itself. Consider the author's comments on the preaching he heard in the mosque:
I put on my headphones and started to listen to an English translation of the words of Salah Kuftaro, director of the university and son of the former grand mufti. His speech, like those that followed—except for the grand mufti of Bosnia, who preached the need for understanding—was all incendiary politics. Each time the formula was the same: Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and moderation, they would say (as if answering a counter-claim); a reference to the glory of the Islamic past and the need to guard against the enemies of Islam; then a congratulation to the present regime for doing so. Kuftaro finished by saying: "It is easy to get depressed in these times, to see the forces against Islam. The Islamic world is fragmented and divided. It is so because of the west and the influence of its ideas. First they rob us economically, then they rob our land, and once they have done that, they rob us culturally."
That is what baffles Westerners about Islam. Don't Muslims notice the dissonance between "Islam is a religion of peace," and blowing up the world trade center, even if the complaints about enemies of Islam were true? Apparently peace means something different in Muslim countries.

Is it worth it to trade hedonism for relentless self-pity and hatred?

The most unkindest cut . . .

seems to be delivered by Bill Buckley. I don't believe him. He was wrong about legalizing drugs, too. This attack on the Golden Mosque is a severe test of the emerging regime in Iraq, but it seems to have held.

Are Republicans up the creek?

John Podhoretz:
No sensible Republican politician facing the voters in eight months is going to give a Democratic rival an easy way to get to his right on a national-security issue. The objections to the ports deal may be bogus as a matter of policy, but they're potent as a matter of politics.
Maybe if the Republicans in Congress weren't so feckless, they'd have forestalled this themselves.

Daniel Henninger accurately lambastes the Congressional reaction:
What we have here is the dawn of the new Yosemite Sam school of national politics. Put any news event in front of our politicians now--Hurricane Katrina, Terri Schiavo, Dick Cheney's quail or this week the ports--and like Bugs Bunny's hair-triggered nemesis they'll start spraying the landscape with wild remarks and opinions decoupled from what is knowable about these events. Wait to learn the facts--as almost alone, Sen. John McCain, suggested? Why bother? . . .

It is being said that the Dubai decision has merely given Democrats a chance to get to the president's right on a terror issue (a week after they dove over the ship of state's port side on wiretapping terrorists). Or that election-needy Republicans are distancing themselves from a president with a 40% approval rating. Possibly so, but I thought the war on terror was about something real, not just this fall's dog-catcher elections.
Read the whole thing.

This xenophobia is misdirected, but the damage is already done.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Smearing our friends. Protecting our enemies.

David Ignatius:
Certainly, al-Qaeda knows who the enemy is. Among the documents released last week by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point was a spring 2002 al-Qaeda warning to officials of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It accused the UAE leaders of working with the U.S. government "in order to appease the Americans' wishes which include: spying, persecution and detainments." Al-Qaeda claimed it has penetrated the UAE government, and the United States should certainly vet any UAE personnel working in the United States. But the idea that by purchasing the British company that has been managing six U.S. ports, Dubai Ports World is somehow opening the door to terrorism is, frankly, racist.
I couldn't agree more. Especially as to Democrats who are always accusing everybody else of racism. Maybe they can't really see the nuance involved.

I don't agree that Bush had it coming for having warned so much about terrorism. That's like saying we didn't really need the Patriot Act after all. Indeed, those who've whined about endangering our civil liberties really should have to explain why all of a sudden they're down on Arab-owned companies. There's a real odor of talking points about this. The campaign is on. It's time for Republicans to go on a war footing if they don't want to lose seats in Congress. So far, they don't seem to be profiles in courage.

Hillary!® really ought to keep quiet about this, since her husband allowed Red China, certainly no great ally, to take over port facilities when he was president.

CBS News regrets

The really disgusting thing to me is that they apologize for a meaningless alteration like this, but they continue to defend the faked memos attacking Bush's National Guard record.

And is Fox News the only network to cover the Rally at the Danish Embassy today?

Violence in Iraq

Zeyad has a dramatic post. I'm not so sure this was a bad thing. Iraqis like Americans need to know that freedom and democracy have to be defended. It will be better for them to have trained security forces do the fighting, but consider what life in America would be like if we had Syria and Iran on our borders instead of Canada and Mexico. The number of people killed in this episode is still tiny, in terms of the whole population, but mosques can be rebuilt. Maybe this will make some Sunnis realize that the terrorists don't deserve their protection and support.

Until now, the terrorists have relied on the Wahhabi message that God wants his servants to kill people. If that were true, why does He forbid human sacrifice? How is the "martyrdom" of suicide bombers different from killing a young man or woman on an altar in a mosque?

How depressing is this?

The NYTimes is moving into the blogosphere. Fortunately, it can't monopolize it.

I don't have an iPod, but this might be better.

An electric book. How long will it be before it comes with an MP3 feature? Sony is doing for publishing what iTunes did for/to the music business.

I don't really want to see movies on an iPod. They're hard enough on a TV set. I'm not flush enough to afford an HDTV. But I might part with some $$$ for a reader. My bookshelves are packed. I'd love to put them all into a shoebox. I wonder if they'll make a scanner to transfer books into electronic format. I might even be willing to use it as a PIM.

I just can't find out what they'll charge for it.

The advantage of being a late adopter

Faster-than-Fiber Wireless A 90-minute video in 6 seconds. Whew! This really could be the singularity.

Cool site watch: How they named companies

Day2Day Activities: How they named companies

If this place was undiscovered, maybe Bigfoot is really out there. - Explorers Discover Huge Cave and New Poison Frogs Look at the enlarged photo that goes with the story. There are still places on earth no one knows about.

More evidence that birds are descended from dinosaurs - Surprise: Chickens Can Grow Teeth

No polygamists here. - U.S. & World News - Utah Supreme Court Orders Polygamist Judge Removed

Oooh! Ick!

ABC News: Fast-Food Ice Dirtier Than Toilet Water

The Real Media

I searched for "Hitchens Danish Embassy" on CNN, Fox News and Yahoo! News. CNN had zip. Fox News and Yahoo! both churned out lists of blog posts. Fox had the story on Special Report.

You knew this was coming.

The NY Port Authority is suing to block the ports deal.

Great Moments in Press Relations

If you thought the Cheney hunting accident and the Ports Deal were mishandled, this one by Missouri's governor makes them look slick. Isn't this the sort of thing that a press secretary should give you a heads up on?

D'oh! He's the governor of Illinois, not Missouri. Sorry 'bout that.

Not all the idiots are on the left.

There are some really nasty ones on the right, as well. The main difference is that Republicans don't nominate them for the Senate.


The national media are shamed,

along with the Danish government. Once again, the real news is in the Blogosphere

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Harvard's New Wisdom

Robert McHenry:
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but the expression of unauthorized or unnecessarily negative views may offend anyone at any time and therefore can get you into deep, deep trouble."

The difference is that none of these claims to be a picture of Mohammed.

Two more on the Ports Deal

The NYTimes and Dean Esmay, who has this:
The UAE is the home of the United States Air Force Base at Al Dhafra, and the UAE port of Jebel Ali is the most frequent port of call for U.S. Navy ships in the world outside the United States, with a reputation for being a great place for R&R for tired sailors. The USO even operates major facilities in the UAE. Indeed, it's one part of the region where American service members can generally walk the streets unafraid, casually shopping and touristing and making friends with the locals.

The United Arab Emirates is hardly a perfect nation. The Freedom House report on the UAE shows them to have a long way to go in terms of basic rights, and although there have been some important recent reforms the country clearly needs to reform even more before joining the modern world. But they have never once appeared on the State Department list of terror-sponsoring nations, and in the wake of 9/11 they instituted serious reforms to stop any financial or other activities that might help international terrorists. The UAE also has troops fighting alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
I look at the issue this way: We can't really protect ourselves anyway. The UAE has a bigger interest in cooperating with us with this deal than without it, and those conducting our security ops are more likely to stay sharp dealing with them than they would with a British or German company. I'm aware of the arguments against it, but I'm not persuaded. As a political matter, it's probably better to play to the race card in November than not, but I don't think it's justified by the facts. Should we trust anybody to prevent another terrorist attack? Probably not, whether they're Arabs, Europeans or Americans.

Signs That the United States is About to Bomb Iran

I hope it's in time, but if you thought the response to the cartoons was bad, . . .

"Black" Pork -- more Congressional scandal

BusinessWeek points out that earmarks have invaded even the secret funding arena for national security.

Plamegate -- is that still going on?

Patrick Fitzgerald is losing the Lewis Libby case, at least where basic fairness is concerned. Prosecutors are obligated to provide the defense with all exculpatory information in their possession. If he doesn't have proof that Plame's employment by the CIA was classified, why does it matter whether Libby lied or not?

Update: Byron York's comment, linked above, is to the effect that Fitzgerald's position may be an unconstitutional delegation of the power of the Attorney General. Andy McCarthy is arguing against that.

Cooler heads

Mark Steyn supports the ports deal. The transcript will be here. Last night, Tommy Franks was on the Hannity and Colmes show on Fox News Channel defending it as well. He's got a good point. Our navy has been using the Dubai ports throughout this war without incident.

The idea that it's more dangerous for the UAE to run these ports than a British company just doesn't add up to me. Steyn makes the same point. As does Austin Bay. And Instapundit has come on board, as well.

Hugh Hewitt, however, is still fearful that it would be easier to sneak a sleeper agent into a Dubai company than in a British one. I wish he were as worried about letting the Democrats demagogue this into a winning issue in November, but maybe he figures that there's no way the Republicans can explain it to the American people. That could be right, since most of them will only hear the spin from the Cocoon People.

Update: Robert Kaplan seems to support the deal as well. He says we'd lose more in the Arab world than we'd gain in security by killing it, confirming my view that the furor raised by Democrats is race-baiting. He also downplays the talk of civil war fed by Shiite reactions to the bombing of the Golden Mosque.

To his credit, Hugh Hewitt is doing a great job of letting his listeners hear both sides of the issue. His guest list really makes his show the best on the air.

Christians, Muslims and Sacred Cows

The Vatican confronts Muslims who deny tolerance to Christians in their countries while demanding it from Western societies. Good point, but you have to admit Muslims in the West were lead to expect political correctness by our own institutions.

Dogs and cats living together!

Bill Bennett and Alan Dershowitz on the unwillingness of the American press to publish the Danish cartoons.

They're right, of course. But Tim Blair says it in fewer words: "Most media organisations have taken a stand by boldly running away." Then he really pours on the ridicule:
Journalists can spend entire careers mouthing off about their commitment to free speech without ever having the chance to properly demonstrate it. I once had a theory that the lack of repression in modern democracies drove journalists to invent McCathyesque threats, so much did they crave an opportunity to stare down those who would silence them. Their ideal imagined foes (I’m guessing): brutish religious fundamentalists opposed to progressive notions on women’s rights, homosexuality, art, and education.
Hypocrites. That's all you can conclude about the Cocoon People after seeing the tantrums they threw after Cheney's accident.

The Zen of Quantum Computing

A computer that delivers an answer without being turned on. Don't ask me to explain it.

Update: John Derbyshire has the same difficulty. He points out that the idea of an on-off switch on a quantum computer is inconsistent with the concept. I suppose that the programming process must be more like defining the results you need and leaving it to the computer to collapse the wave on a solution that fits that definition, although I'm still guessing.

Don't poke the blimp.

More suppression of dissent in George Bush's America.

The Fear Card on Education

Ms. Hillary explains why equality must trump excellence and the lowest common denominator must rule.

The religion of peace at war

The "religion of peace" meme is getting harder to maintain. Decades of oppression and abuse are coming home to roost.

Iraq the Model is doing yeoman's work covering it.

Fortunately, someone is doing something.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ports I'd be willing to let the UAE run

San Francisco, Seattle, New York City. Politicians from these cities seem suddenly to be remembering what Al Qaeda did to New York on 9/11 after opposing the Patriot Act vociferously ever since. These are centers of the Bush haters and those who want our military to go out of business. The liberals who represent these areas in Congress are in full cry about the UAE owning the company that runs these and some other ports, not because they really care about national security, but because they see this as a chance to torpedo Republicans. The hypocrisy is sickening.

This sale was approved by bureaucrats following Congressionally mandated procedures, applying the Washington standards of political correctness. Kaboom! The Democrats decide they can win in November by adopting a xenophobic and racist strategy.

Larry Summers has been driven out of Harvard by leftist faculty enforcing political correctness with pitchforks and torches. Maybe he should have denounced Arabs more.

Liberals passed most of our laws against racial and national background discrimination that resulted in the flood of Arabs and other Muslims into this country. They created the atmosphere of stifling healthy concern that allowed the 9/11 terrorists to operate almost freely in this country. NOW, they're concerned about the threat? Are they now willing to recall all the liberal judges they've put on the courts? Beef up the INS and put some teeth into our laws? Don't make me laugh.

I don't think this sale could make our ports any more insecure than they already are. I understand the worry, but it's blatantly race- and religion-based. It's illegal! We're not allowed to use profiling! Somebody tell Hillary!®, Chuck Shumer and Barbara Boxer. Maybe they wish now that their fellow travellers hadn't leaked the existence of the NSA wiretaps to the New York Times. I'm with Jim Geraghty on this.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Michael Crichton's book, State of Fear, didn't get much attention when it was first published. But that may be about to change.

More on those non-existent WMDs.

They're still out there, according to rumor.

Oh, please, no more hearings!

Talk about your big yawns. The New York Times is scrutinizing Alito's choice of a law clerk.

Why that's -er- unconstitutional, ain't it?

I wonder if anybody at the LATimes appreciates the irony of a business that's shielded from liability for their product by the First Amendment, complaining that other industries are trying to keep from getting run out of business by lawsuits.

Islam as Death Cult

Did the Catholics ever bless a nuke? I know I've seen film clips of priests blessing tanks, this seems to go them one better. The heart of darkness indeed.

How to drive down ratings and lose readers

I was thinking about the curious case of the shot that the press can't stop hearing. Maybe they'd be happier if Cheney had held a press conference and shaken his finger at the camera and said "I did NOT shoot that man, Mr. Whittington."

Yeah, that would have been more like it. Instead, they just keep boring us all for another week. They don't seem to understand that the public couldn't care less about inside baseball like how the White House should handle insignificant stories.

Osama health watch

Could this be the prelude to an announcement that bin Laden is toast?

Things looking up for Romney

About 8 months after The Weekly Standard published a fair profile of him, the Boston Globe does a hatchet job on Mitt Romney's faith. They must think he's got a good shot, if they'll work this hard to block it. Like Democrat's going back twenty years to find something to attack Judge Alito for, this piece goes back to 1979 to bring up the fact that blacks once could not hold the priesthood of the church, playing up an old quote from Apostle Bruce R. McConkie.
But Romney has a problem. He is a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which, as Washington Monthly's editor Amy Sullivan points out, makes him unacceptable to evangelical voters who make up 30 percent of the Republican electorate. Their hostility to Mormonism is not some vague prejudice that some Americans have. It's a ''doctrinal thing," based on their conviction that Mormonism ''isn't just another religion," but a ''cult" that they claim is ''false," ''blasphemous," and a threat to the Christian religion.

But Romney has an additional and perhaps even more serious problem. As taught by Mormon prophets from Brigham Young's day to the late 1970s, blacks have been regarded as ''not equal with other races,"
It would be nice if they'd quote Bruce R. McConkie about his experience when the revelation was given that the time had come to grant all worthy men the priesthood.

Romney won't let that bother him. The religion card has been played against him before, and he knows that you just have to let your actions and character speak for themselves and be positive. If people let religious prejudice turn them against him, it'll be America's loss, not his, because he's enormously talented would make a very very good president.

I wonder if they'd write an article like this about Harry Reid.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Meet the Pundits

Mary Matlin on MTP this morning next to David Gregory. He has a lisp. What kind of a press show would include David Gregory and Maureen Dowd, the two poster children for what Americans hate about the press? Well, I guess, on second thought, it is called Meet the Press. But Maureen Dowd as a pundit? She's the Lucianne of the Left. The only one I know of she hasn't savaged was Michael Kelly when she did a reading at his memorial, and then she looked like being so nice gave her gas.

They included a clip of "Hillary!" dumping on Cheney for not being more "forthcoming." Matlin rightly pointed it out as the brazen hypocrisy it is. I seem to recall something being said, during the previous administration, about the president's right to his private life. I keep trying to imagine, Al Gore had peppered someone accidentally with bird shot, how I'd have viewed it. Certainly as adding to his typical awkwardness, but hardly with this kind of bitchy hostility. There would have been some jokes and concern for the other party, but this high dudgeon just goes on and on and on!

Dowd accuses Cheney of sending out people to blame the victim. You can really see the little preprocessor at work between the minds of these people and reality. And, boy, the claws were out!

Who is Fred LeBrun, and who elected him as our moral arbiter?

He has an OpEd entitled | Don't minimize Cheney's culpability, reemphasizing all the snooty silliness of the MSM:
Of course, it was an accident; no one should dispute that. But that is an explanation for what happened, not a justification. People are in jails all over the country for accidents. Not that I'm suggesting Dick Cheney belongs in jail, not over this at least.
Oh? I want to hear what he thinks Cheney does belong in jail for. Come on Fred, spit it out! I can tell something about this is really bugging you. What is it? Or is this just the generalized loathing of the administration that pervades media types?

Or maybe you just want to flaunt your superior knowledge of all things connected to bird hunting. I mean what's the deal with detailing what the hunting laws in New York are? Yeah, those Red States are sooo lax in their licensing laws. And the point about the dogs? Were there dogs around? Expensive dogs? This guy really sounds like a first class bore to go hunting with. Or maybe he just doesn't hunt much in Red States. We're too uncouth:
I don't know of a single gentleman's hunting club up here in the effete Northeast, no matter how Republican, that would let Cheney in to shoot after this incident. He'd be confined to the bar and pool tables.

What we have here is the original zero-tolerance event as far as the hunting community is concerned. That's how seriously we take it.
Yeah, New York has no shootings whatsoever, right? At least, not with $10,000 28 gauge Italian shotguns.