Sunday, 30 April 2006
The issue of trust
Those who read this story in The Bandar Beacon (Washington Post) with care will note how revealing it is.   For this article tells us a great deal about the fatuity, the waste, and the danger unfairly imposed on American soldiers and Marines, by an Administration both too obstinate (in sticking to a policy that squanders resources and prevents the intelligent exploitation of divisions within Islam, so obviously present in Iraq, and encouragable outside Iraq), and too ignorant (how many people in the Pentagon, or in the State Department, are worrying about the islamization of Western Europe, and its military, political, and civilizational consequences? And how many of them are permitted to connect that theatre of the Jihad with the one in Iraq, and to comprehend how trivial Iraq really is, except possibly as a way to encourage Sunni-Shi'a and Arab-non-Arab Muslim divisions?

Below are some excerpts from the full story, and commentary just below each
"There's two kinds of Iraqis here, the ones who help us and the ones who shoot us, and there's an awful lot of 'em doing both," said Hoover, 26, of Newark, Ohio. "Is it frustrating? Yes, it's frustrating. But we can't just stop working with them."

Why not? Because he, that soldier, has not been permitted even to think such things. American soldiers have had dinned into them that they cannot possibly leave Iraq because then it might lead to "civil war" and "instability" and that, of course, would be a "bad thing." Why? Oh, because it would. Just the way the Iran-Iraq War was a bad thing, presumably, for Infidels. Poor, misinformed soldiers - deliberately misinformed, deliberately kept ignorant of Islam, or the ways in which, if the enemy were properly defined, one would come to understand that leaving Iraq, and exploiting its internal fissures, both sectarian and ethnic, make the best and only sense]
"In some places they hide the fact that they don't like you. They don't hide it here," said Hutson, who stops by his base's medical station periodically for a shot of Toradol to soothe a shoulder injured when his vehicle flipped during one of the attacks.
Comment: so this officer has after fighting with, and beside, Arab Muslims in Iraq, and had contact with all kinds of civilians, has realistically concluded that there are two kinds: the kind of Iraqis who show you that they hate you, and the kind who hide the fact that they hate you.
"It sounds strange, but more police have been killed lately, which means some of them are finally doing their job," one American officer here said."


Almost all recruits to the "Iraqi" army and "Iraqi" police are doing it not to "save" Iraq but to make money; there is no large "Iraqi" patriotic impulse, much as American government propaganda tries to create it, or to convince us that it exists.

Horton said he gives Iraqi officers just minutes' notice when bringing them on a mission, and never tells them exactly where they will be going to prevent them from tipping off insurgents."

The American officer (Horton)  doesn't tell them because, based on previous betrayals of American forces, including information about the routes convoys will take to those setting I.E.D.'s, he doesn't trust them. And shouldn't - not now, not ever.

"I've seen them laughing when we come back in with a vehicle destroyed by a bomb," he said. "I've seen them stand 10 feet away and do nothing but watch when we are in the middle of a firefight."


So these "Iraqi allies"  laugh at the sight of a destroyed American vehicle, and no doubt find equally hilarious the dead American soldiers - American soldiers who are being kept in Iraq to somehow make something of nothing, for people who hate or at best dislike them. The Americans are being asked to create, by their own willfully blind government,  a nation-state out of a collection of warring ethnic and sectarian groups, a nation-state that will somehow be a model for all the other Arab states. Those states, either Sunni-dominated or Sunni-ruled (except for the Ibadis so prominent in Oman, and the Alawite military caste that rules  in Syria), or both, cannot possibly look with favor, much less model themselves on, an "Iraq" in which Sunni  dominance has been transferred to the Shi'a]

" Over sweet tea in a grubby police station at the center of Hawijah last week, the station commander, Maj. Ghazey Ahmed Khalif, assured Horton and his team that things were quiet in town that day. But when Horton asked some Iraqi officers to accompany him on a drive through town, Khalif discreetly whispered something into a translator's ear."

"All of a sudden he remembers he got a tip about an IED," said Horton, using the military acronym for improvised explosive device, or roadside bomb. "If we hadn't asked his guys to come, put them at risk, no way he tells us about that."


Our Iraqi allies. Our loyal Iraqi allies. Our loyal and staunch Iraqi allies. The ones American soldiers are being asked to lay down their lives for.

"Soldiers working with the Iraqi army here report similar problems. Iraqi soldiers have been reprimanded for selling their government-issued ammunition in local gun markets and for hocking their boots, only to turn up for duty in leather loafers."

"Before a highway patrol to search for roadside bombs last week, an Iraqi unit accompanying U.S. soldiers refused to ride in American Humvees, which provide far better protection from bomb attacks than the unarmored pickup trucks normally used by Iraqi forces."

"Shaking his head and staring at the ground, Sgt. Ghazi Esa Muhammad, 25, explained that a local cleric had decreed that Iraqis killed in an "occupier vehicle" would not go to heaven.
"Tell your guys, if they refuse to ride in the Humvees, they will go to jail for 10 days. It's not a choice," said Lt. Aaron Tapalman, 23, the patrol leader. "They want to be able to claim they are not associated with us," said Tapalman, after the Iraqi sergeant relented and told his men to mount up"

"About an hour later, the patrol came across a white bag on the roadside that Tapalman suspected might contain a bomb. When he asked some Iraqi soldiers to move it off the road, their commander balked, saying it wasn't his job.
"It is your job to protect the people," Tapalman said, increasingly exasperated. "I can go and move it myself, and you know what? I will, but don't you think your people should see you doing that kind of stuff. Someday we're not going to be here anymore." The Iraqi soldier declined again, apologetically, and drove away."


Let the Americans risk their lives The Americans said they were here to help us. Well,  then they're the ones who should risk their lives removing explosive devices. Why should we? Hell, it's  not our country, this Iraq. We're Sunni Arabs and Shi'a Arabs and Kurds. We're not risking our lives for "Iraq." The Americans can do that.


Remaining in Iraq squanders every kind of resource: men, money, material, military morale and civilian willingness to engage in measures necessary to check the Jihad to spread Islam, and furthermore, it distracts from other matters, not only Iran (where the presence of American troops as hostages to Iranian retaliation gets in the way), but most importantly, the subject of Europe's islamization, with the military, political, even civilizational catastrophe that that would bring.

Stories such as those above show how dangerous and foolish it is to force American officers and men to work with, to train, to fight alongside or attempt to, those who do not wish you well, who wish you ill, who have given every visible sign of wishing you ill. There is no "Iraqi" patriotism. There is potential and actual betrayal and treachery, of the Americans, by those to whom they have done nothing, and whom they have tried to help, in removing a despot, in spending tens of billions in aid (and hundreds of billions to conduct the whole operation). To remain in Iraq will simply mean a further waste of American lives, vast amounts of American money (that could have been spent on energy projects -- $400 billion might have gone a long way to ending the oil wherewithal that has made the Jihad go from theoretically potential to practically possible), materiel, everything.

And those who have failed to criticize the Iraq policy for being such a squandering, in precisely the manner, and for the reasons given here during more than two years, are also to be blamed. For they, unable to conceive of the Jihad as the enemy, and willing to abide by those foolish phrases such as "a war on terror," have been unable to come up with any criticism of the Administration that makes sense.

They deserve each other. The leaders of the United States, and of the rest of the Western world, with a few remarkable exceptions, have been weighed in the balance, and found wanting.
Posted on 04/30/2006 12:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 April 2006

If Galbraith had done nothing else -- and of course he did a great deal else -- he would deserve to be remembered for his apothegm that: "If you have ever worked on a farm, nothing else ever seems like work."

Posted on 04/30/2006 10:59 AM by John Derbyshire
Sunday, 30 April 2006
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
To be read over Sunday breakfast, this was taken from John Derbyshire's website.  See here for background]
The Gods of the Copybook Headings by Rudyard Kipling
As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:—
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Posted on 04/30/2006 9:06 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 30 April 2006
Saturday, in the city
Yesterday, my wife and I took the Lex to Yankee Stadium, and it was in the train that we crossed paths with a few demonstrators on route to their NYC "peace" rally.  I wouldn't have known their identity were it not for a gregarious gentleman who started an argument with a group standing nearby in our car.  Appearing somewhere in his middle age, he sounded as New York as can be, but identified himself  as a naturalized citizen of Indian birth.  This was just before the 14th Street stop, where he and the group he'd engaged piled out.  The only statement any of them made that we could hear clearly was his, when he said, "But look at what they're doing to the Jews in France."  That subway, that argument:  I thought, My God, is it 2006 or 1941?

Great game, though.  We--my wife, my mother, two sisters and my brother and his wife--had seats in the bleachers, where the fans are most excited.  It was a nostalgia thing: none of us had been in the bleachers since we were kids.  Lots to cheer about, if you, like my family, are a Yankee partisan.  Yankee bats sang to the tune of 17 runs (the Blue Jays, a pretty good team this year, managed 6). 

Two changes we hadn't heard about, though, which dampened the day a bit:  Yankee management no longer sells beer in the bleacher section; and razzing fans of other teams is now verboten.  Several who attempted it were led out by armed guards.  I'm sure the decision to suppress such speech on private property was a sound business decision. (And I'm sure our puritanical mayor sleeps easier knowing the bleachers of Yankee Stadium are secure.)  And yet, it gave me a chill, though the sun was strong, the skies cloudless.  Are we now too sensitive to stand a bit of rowdy mockery?  Or are we so uncivil that mockery itself now always leads to violence?  I think it's both, and I think its sad and ominious.
Posted on 04/30/2006 6:49 AM by Robert Bove
Saturday, 29 April 2006

As a special service to any readers who might be confused about which language "The Star-Spangled Banner" should be sung in, I put the English words through an English-to-Spanish translation via Babelfish; then I put the resulting Spanish words back through a Spanish-to-English translation using the same tool. Here is the result.

The opinion of Or, you can consider, by the early light of the dawn,
What we hailed so proud in flashing last of the twilight?
Of whom ample rays and shining stars, with the dangerous fight,
On the embankments that we watched, so galantemente they flowed?
And the red fulgor of the rockets, the pumps that explode in air,
It gave the test with the night that our flag still was there.
The opinion of Or, does that flag stars-star-spangled wave yet
On the Earth of free and the home of the brave one?
Posted on 04/29/2006 7:06 PM by John Derbyshire
Saturday, 29 April 2006
Hirsi Ali in New York Sunday
Sunday, April 30 at 1:45pm
Conversations in the Library: Despite death threats, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has remained a vocal critic of the treatment of Muslim women. With Paris Review editor Philip Gourevitch, she will discuss her new book, The Caged Virgin, and her experiences in Africa (she was born in Somalia) and as a Dutch parliamentarian. Where: The New York Public Library, South Court Auditorium: 5th Ave. & 42nd St. (Enter on 5th Ave.) Tickets: $15 general admission/$10 library donors, seniors, and students with valid ID. Purchase tickets from Smarttix: (212) 868-4444 or
Posted on 04/29/2006 7:00 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 29 April 2006
The joy of Derb

For those of you who haven't yet been introduced to pleasures of DerbRadio.

Warning: Radio Derb is habit forming. 

Posted on 04/29/2006 9:52 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 29 April 2006
McCarthy reviews Spencer in NRO

Andrew McCarthy has a fantastic review of Robert Spencer (aka "Fearless Leader")'s latest book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), over at NRO

He ends with:

This is not a book for the faint of heart. Nonetheless, it is well done and extremely important. Much of current American policy hinges on the notions that there is a vibrant moderate Islam and that it must simply be possessed of the intellectual firepower necessary to put the lie to the militants. These are the premises behind the ambitious projects to democratize the Middle East, to establish a Palestinian state that will peacefully coexist with its Israeli neighbor, and to win the vast majority of the world's billion-plus Muslims over to our side in the War on Terror.

They are, however, premises that are more the product of assumption than critical thought. In this highly accessible, well-researched, quick-paced read, Robert Spencer dares to bring that critical thought to the equation. The result is not a promising landscape, but it's a landscape we must understand. You really can't fight an ideological battle without grappling with the ideology.

Posted on 04/29/2006 7:52 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 29 April 2006
It has dawned on the open borders people that just going on TV and saying "National borders? Who needs 'em?" is a colossal vote loser. They are now learning nuance. All those catch-phrases we have come to know and love --"Jobs Americans won't do," "Family values don't end at the Rio Grande," "Nation of immigrants," etc., etc.--are being massaged and sweetened for better acceptability.

Case in point: Open-borders proponent Tamar Jacoby in America's Newspaper of Record yesterday morning: "We need foreign workers to keep the economy growing by doing jobs that more and more Americans are too qualified to do."

So it's no longer "jobs Americans won't do," a phrase that, folk like Jacoby discovered to their stunned astonishment, is mighty offensive to the millions of Americans who do, in fact, do these jobs, and support their families with them. Now it's "jobs Americans are too qualified to do." We are so smart, you see, and our education system so wonderful, we'd all much rather retire into our studies and read Herodotus than go mow the lawn. So from insulting Americans, the open borders crowd have switched to flattering us. Will it work? My guess is not; but look out for much, much more of this sleight of hand.
Posted on 04/29/2006 7:46 AM by John Derbyshire
Saturday, 29 April 2006
Solzhenitsyn warns of US plot

You can take the boy out of Russia, but you can't take Russia out of the boy.  From the Washington Times:

MOSCOW -- Alexander Solzhenitsyn has accused the United States of launching a military campaign to encircle Russia and turn it into a NATO chattel.
    The Nobel laureate also delivered his strongest endorsement yet of President Vladimir Putin, surprising Kremlin critics who argue that the country is growing more authoritarian.
    Replying in writing to questions from the weekly Moscow News, the 87-year-old former Soviet dissident said military action by the United States in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan underlined the menace to Russian sovereignty.
    "Though it is clear that present-day Russia poses no threat to it whatsoever, NATO is methodically and persistently expanding its military apparatus in the east of Europe and is implementing an encirclement of Russia from the south," he wrote.
    He also attacked Western support for recent revolutions that toppled Moscow-backed regimes in Ukraine and Georgia.
    "All this leaves no doubt that they are preparing a complete encirclement of Russia, which will be followed by the deprivation of her sovereignty," he said.
    Russia, he suggested, was all that stood between NATO and the "downfall of Christian civilization."
    He praised the efforts of Mr. Putin "to salvage the state from failure."

Posted on 04/29/2006 7:31 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 29 April 2006
Rough guide to British history

I came home from the Department of Light bulb Changers last night feeling a little depressed.  It seems that more and more I am judged not by the quality of my work, but by whether I have “hit my targets” and “complied with criteria”.  My record does not speak for itself any longer; apparently I must be more aware of how strangers perceive me.  Older UK readers will remember the comedy programme of the 1960s about the two tailors, one Jewish and his Irish partner. Never mind the Quality, feel the Width.


So I recognise the problem caused by this hasty piece of work done at the Home Office. Not content with losing several thousand foreign prisoners who should have been deported after serving their sentences they have produced Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship, which was intended to be a guide for immigrants wanting to become British citizens and which is riddled with errors.


The drafter (I can’t call him a writer, or author, really I can’t) of this pamphlet (I can’t call it a book either) is Sir Bernard Crick.

The Times reports:- Although he wishes that he had had the time to send a draft to “professional historians”, Sir Bernard said that it had been more important to get the document into print.


Definitely Never mind the Quality, feel the Width.

As an Orwell expert, Sir Bernard is well aware that comparisons are being made by his detractors to Winston Smith, the clerk for the Ministry of Truth in 1984, whose job was to rewrite historical documents daily according to the party line. However, although he admitted that errors had occured because of the speed with which the booklet had had to be written, he said that it was an independent work despite the official-looking binding.


The Historical Association which represents historians at schools and universities, is outraged at some of the “facts” in the booklet and is proposing to write its own account — but is hampered by the very concept of having official historical accounts at all. “Official histories are a bad thing because they can be used for establishing government purposes and can be reinvented to support the official Establishment,” Barry Coward, president of the Historical Association, said. “This has been shown throughout history, as we saw in Hitler’s Germany. We think this is the thin end of the wedge and that history shouldn’t be used as a tool of Government.”


A selection of the errors.

The Act of Union in 1707 between Scotland and England created the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom did not come into being until 1800, with the Act of Union with Ireland, which is not mentioned.

The Celts were pushed to the country’s western fringes by the Saxons

Incorrect. Most stayed where they were, although some moved north and west

Queen Mary “came to the throne with Spanish support”

Mary defeated Lady Jane Grey’s bid to usurp the throne with a huge wave of English support

Charles II was recalled from exile in France

He was recalled from the Netherlands.

Cromwell beat Charles II at Worcester, before invading Scotland

Cromwell beat Charles II some time after invading Scotland (Dates would have been nice, Cromwell’s victory over the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar Sept 1650, Royalist defeat at the Battle of Worcester August 165, my source Antonia Fraser, HA failed to meet criteria by  showing insufficient evidence of… blah blah blah....)

Labour was in government under Harold Wilson, who was in office from 1974 to 1979

Wilson was Prime Minister from 1974 until 1976, when he resigned. He was succeeded by James Callaghan. (this criterion met by provision of evidence, ie dates, tick box to indicate compliance)  

Posted on 04/29/2006 5:26 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 28 April 2006
Over there, the truth and 10 cents gets you nowhere
From orangeducks.

Let's take a quiz:

Q: Why are there no democracies in the Muslim Middle East?

A: Democracies are based on the possibility of mutually held Agreements between people. Democracy is unsustainable in cultures where lying is acceptable and constant.

Q: Why is every Muslim Middle Eastern country characterized by either rigid oppression or chaotic violence?

A: The coercive use of violence is the only way to ensure Muslims in the Middle East will live up to any obligations, including basic social order and function. Middle East countries where chaos currently reigns, like Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, are merely examples of what Muslims are like without coercion.

Q: How is it that intelligence gathering by Western powers, whether it is about the weapons capabilities of an entire nation, or the simple location of a lone thug, is so constantly stymied and duped in the Middle East?

A: The job of intelligence gatherers is to determine the truth. I wouldn't take that job in the Middle East for all the money in Michael Moore's Halliburton stocks.

Q: Have you ever seen anything that says "Made in Saudi Arabia"? What was the last thing invented or produced by Middle Eastern Muslims that helped advance humankind? Why are they so incompetent at virtually everything?

A: Although some individuals with quality talents certainly exist here, it would be impossible to gather enough in one place to Agree to cooperate in any sort of complex or significant effort. The only time Muslims can stick together long enough to produce anything en masse, like nuclear missiles for Uncle Mah, is under the threat of force.

Q: Why is it that Muslim leaders can stare the world in the eye and lie through their teeth without even flinching?

A: They're not lying, they are "negotiating" with people they assume to be complete suckers.

Q: Are they right?

A: Good question.
Posted on 04/28/2006 1:15 PM by Robert Bove
Friday, 28 April 2006
Group Capt Cecil Chaudhry's biggest battle yet.

Christian persecution in Pakistan. From The Telegraph

A recent convert from Christianity to Islam, Bashir Masi knew nothing of his new faith.

He could not describe a single tenet of Islam, nor remember the Qalma, the Muslim declaration of faith, nor name his own children, who have adopted Muslim names.....The Masis were "invited" to convert by the local Muslim town mayor, Nazim Sahib as they call him, who doubles as the owner of the basic compound they had shared with their extended family.

No coercion there then.

Some 90 per cent of the 15 million Christians in Pakistan trace their ancestry to the "untouchable" Hindu Chuhra caste from Sialkot, where mass conversions began during the 19th century under British rule.

Mr Masi's ancestors probably converted to Christianity to improve their lot; now he is banking on another change of faith in the hope of transforming his family's fortunes.

However, Group Capt Cecil Chaudhry, Pakistan's self-appointed defender of the faith, contended that such conversions were not as innocent as depicted.

"It is more through fear that conversions have taken place. Our community is poor but it is not easy to break their faith," he said. "After all the recent attacks the community is living in fear."

Group Capt Chaudhry, twice decorated from Pakistan's wars against India, knows something of anti-Christian discrimination personally. He was passed over for promotion by the Islamist-favouring dictator General Zia-ul-Huq.

He now heads several organisations championing Christian rights and lobbies the government of President Pervez Musharraf to change legislation that is prejudiced against Christians.

Group Capt Chaudhry has also battled, with partial success, to do away with an electoral system that separates Muslim and Christian voters and candidates that means that Christians are never properly represented in a constituency.

In Pakistan, conversion is technically legal but those who do convert are dubbed "apostates" and often killed. Christian officials describe a large community of "secret Christians" made up of some government officials and prominent people who have converted to Christianity.

Group Capt Cecil Chaudry  Group Captain Chaudhry.
Posted on 04/28/2006 2:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 27 April 2006
Given  the news that Iran is talking about sharing its nascent nuke know-how with Sudan (where bin Laden just told all the jihadists they should head in last week's tape), I have a simple question I'd love to hear Congress answer:

Can the United States afford to take any action against Iran if our southern border is not secure?

Iran is not playing. If we do something -- and it looks ever more obvious that we are going to have to do something, whether it's military or a precursor to military action -- Iran is going to retaliate.

The retaliation we most have to worry about is a nuclear attack against our homeland.

The easiest way to get a nuke into the United States may well be the southern border. (The ports may be equally easy or a close second, I acknowledge.)

I don't mean to be alarmist, but with what Iran is up to -- the development, the proliferation, the likelihood of arming terrorists -- forget about the 12 million illegals. How can we in good conscience not deal with our borders?

Posted on 04/27/2006 3:31 PM by Andy McCarthy
Thursday, 27 April 2006
Rudyard Kipling's great hymn to common sense, "The Gods of the Copybook Headings", gets pretty regular mentions on NRO. Well, last night I had the privilege of being present when one of those gods appeared in the flesh. This was a private party for Charles Murray on the occasion of his new book's being published.

I don't know anyone who has thought so hard, with so much originality and insight, about how we should organize our national affairs so that everybody has a fair shot at a useful and satisfying life -- not just cognitive elites, but **everybody**, including those at the left-hand side of the bell curve. In a sane society, this man would be loaded with honors & would have some high advisory position in government. Instead he is a marginal figure, regarded with ignorant distaste by large swathes of the intelligentsia. That's our loss.

Last night Charles "limped up to explain it once more." If you tax a thing, you'll get less of it. If you subsidize a thing, you'll get more of it. If you do things for people, they will lose the inclination -- and soon the ability -- to do things for themselves. Kids need parents. Adults need colleagues, friends, and relatives. The people who administer government programs don't have much interest in their efficiency or success. If the control levers of society are in the hands of a meritocratic caste, smug in their superiority and increasingly cut off from their fellow citizens, then the less bright and less able will be elbowed off the sidewalk, into jails, welfare slums, and dead rustbelt zones.

Buy the book. Do what you can to get these ideas into circulation, and keep them there, before: "The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!"
Posted on 04/27/2006 3:26 PM by John Derbyshire
Thursday, 27 April 2006

Here is what I wish someone who knows the immigration issue better than I do would explain.

I worked in government for many years. As even those who have not worked in government know, the general order of things is inertia, and that the urgent overwhelms the important.

Immigration “reform,” however, seems to violate this dynamic. I don’t mean border security – that’s obviously urgent and important, and should overcome inertia because there’s a growing crisis down at the southern border. I’m talking here about the status of illegals.

Why is there such angst to deal with this? Illegal aliens come into our country knowing they are illegal. Why should I care about regularizing their status? I can see the (substantial) downside of it, in terms of encouraging more illegal immigration and all the social problems that attend that. But what is the upside that I should care about that supposedly outweighs the downside? To be blunt, I don’t care about the struggles they face. I didn’t ask them to come, I haven’t asked them to stay, and they came knowing what the deal was, so I have a hard time listening to the drivel about how they’re getting screwed.

When I was a kid, I used to buy the $1 upper deck seats at Shea and then try to sneak down and grab an unoccupied $4 field-level box seat. When the usher inevitably came to shoo me away, I didn’t protest. I was doing something I shouldn’t have, and I ran the risk knowing that I might get sent back to the cheap seats or even kicked out of the ballpark – the latter being almost unheard of. (In fact, the reason so many urchins did what I was doing was because the ONLY sanction was to be sent back to the seat you would have had anyway.)

If we secured the border, ended visa fraud, and prosecuted employers who hire illegals, that would make coming and staying here much less inviting. Many illegals would leave, so the problem would be more manageable. Why do we need to do anything more than that at this point? Why can’t we just do those things and take another look at this in five years? The usual Washington solution – see, e.g., Iran, tax reform, social security reform, entitlement reform, election fraud, border security, etc., etc., etc. – is to kick the can down the road. Why not with this where it actually makes sense to do that?

I just don’t get why the status of illegals is a priority for our government to deal with given (a) the zillion more important things there are to deal with, and (b) our toleration for manageable crime problems in other (to me, at least, more serious) contexts.

Here’s to gridlock!

Posted on 04/27/2006 8:27 AM by Andy McCarthy
Thursday, 27 April 2006
Reconquista Ultima
Reported Tuesday in The Spain Herald:

The Spanish Socialist Party will introduce a bill in the Congress of Deputies calling for "the immediate inclusion of (simians) in the category of persons, and that they be given the moral and legal protection that currently are only enjoyed by human beings." The PSOE's justification is that humans share 98.4% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas, and 96.4% with orangutans.

The party will announce its Great Ape Project at a press conference tomorrow. An organization with the same name is seeking a UN declaration on simian rights which would defend ape interests "the same as those of minors and the mentally handicapped of our species."

   Project consultant Dr. Peter Singer reads
   Das Kapital to Senor J. Fred Muggs
According to the Project, "Today only members of the species Homo sapiens are considered part of the community of equals. The chimpanzee, the gorilla, and the orangutan are our species's closest relatives. They possess sufficient mental faculties and emotional life to justify their inclusion in the community of equals." 

Thanks to John Hawkins for the heads up.
Posted on 04/27/2006 7:58 AM by Robert Bove
Thursday, 27 April 2006
Harvard Lecture tomorrow
In commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, the Mashtots Chair in Armenian Studies of Harvard University, Dr. James Russell announces a lecture by Dr. Andrew G. Bostom, " Jihad in Europe: Past as Prologue? " based upon his recently published book, The Legacy of Jihad (

Friday April 28, 2006 5-6 PM
The Semitic Museum, Room 201
6 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA
Admission Free
Contact: Dr. James Russell
Posted on 04/27/2006 7:33 AM by Andy Bostom
Thursday, 27 April 2006
Suspend disbelief

The much over-hyped "Da Vinci Code" turns out to have been inspired in a rather unusual way. From The Telegraph:

The hyper-successful novelist plotted his bestseller The Da Vinci Code while dangling upside down wearing gravity boots attached to an inversion bar, it was revealed this week....

Well, I have always fancied myself as a best-selling novelist. And I have fond childhood memories of dangling off climbing frames...

So how does "inversion therapy", as it is known, work?

First, the gravity boots - basically big plastic bands with plastic hooks rather than boots - are strapped to the ankles. The horizontal inversion bar itself is most usually fitted across a door frame, just above head height.

Once you have clamped your ankles into the boots, you clasp the bar and, with gymnastic fluidity, pull your legs right up (let's be utterly honest here - you might have to enlist a spouse or friend to help at this point).

Then, with feet finally at bar height, I hook the boots on to the bar, and slowly lower myself, holding the door frame for support, until I am completely upside down. There follows a noise like musical hailstones as loose change cascades from my trouser pockets and scatters all over the floor.

Then a melodic crunch - the front door keys.

Every muscle initially twitches in protest. This feels so very wrong. But there you are, staring at the world upside down through eyes that are already starting to feel a little puffy. Let the contemplation begin.

It is said that Hippocrates himself, the father of medicine, witnessed a similar activity in the Greece of 400 BC. The patient was tied to a ladder fitted with various weights and pulleys, and then turned wrong way up, for the purposes of therapeutic stretching, to general acclaim.

But it was Dr Robert Martin, a Californian osteopath, who became the great proponent of inversion therapy and came up with the "gravity guidance system" in the 1960s.

In essence, this meant hanging around like a gibbon. Indeed, inversion therapy is possibly a reminder of when we all had branch-friendly prehensile toes.

Gravity boots became ultra-fashionable in 1980, inspired by Richard Gere dangling wrong way up in American Gigolo with Blondie singing Call Me in the background.

The Telegraph expands on this in an opinion piece:

Inspiration strikes different authors in different ways.

Newman wrote The Dream of Gerontius standing - but the right way up. For Coleridge, De Quincey and Wilkie Collins it was opium. William S Burroughs, for similar reasons, said he had no memory of writing his Naked Lunch at all. For Evelyn Waugh it was chloral; for Andrew Motion, Lemsip. Drink, danger and sex have their devotees but seldom ensure a regular output. Money is a sharper stimulus, as Dr Johnson averred and the conscientious bankrupt Scott demonstrated.

A strange vogue emerged in the 18th century of using strychnine as a stimulant. As the poet E C Bentley, a former leaderwriter of this paper, wrote of Jonathan Swift: "He took two minims/ While writing of the Houyhnhnms." Swift may be the better writer, but for aspirant authors gravity boots are safer. 

In case readers are wondering where I got the inspiration for the title of this blog entry, it was sitting at a desk drinking coffee. And it shows.

Posted on 04/27/2006 4:19 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 27 April 2006
Computer will tell Muslim astronaut how to pray in space

From the Telegraph

Malaysian scientists and religious scholars are trying to determine how Muslims should behave in space, as the predominantly Islamic country prepares to dispatch its first astronaut next year.

More than 150 delegates attended a seminar to consider how to pray in space given the difficulties of locating Mecca and holding the prayer position in zero gravity; as well as other questions such as halal food and washing.

"It's as important as sending the astronaut," said Mustafa Din bin Subari, deputy director of Angkasa, Malaysia's space agency. "We want to stress that being a Muslim does not restrict you from doing anything."

The application of a religion founded in the 7th century Arabian desert to space travel in the 21st century is complex. The International Space Station (ISS) moves at almost 17,000 mph, so the relative position of Mecca is constantly shifting. With 16 orbits a day, and the timing of five daily prayers determined in relation to sunrise and sunset, devout Muslim astronauts could find themselves intoning their chants 80 times in 24 hours.

"This is not possible," said Mohamad Sa'ari Mohamad Isa, of the National Technical University College of Malaysia at the meeting in Bangi, near Kuala Lumpur. The electronics lecturer has helped to develop a computer programme called Muslims in Space (* see my note below) to determine when prayers should be made......

......Delegates to the conference, which ended on Tuesday, were also reminded that scientific progress used to be most advanced in the Islamic world, which gave the West algebra, the zero and Arabic numerals. It was a failure of individuals and leaders, rather than the religion, according to Syed Kamarulzaman Syed Kabeer, vice-president of the Islamic Astronomers' Association of Malaysia, that led to Islamic peoples giving up their lead.

We will leave aside that old chestnut about Islamic innovations, as we all know well that the Zero and the numerals were appropriated from Hindu scholars, and that the other innovations were developed by dhimmi Jewish and Christian scholars.

The bit, to me, which shows how incompatible with the rest of the world this ideology is, is the purely mechanical attitude to communication with the Almighty.  Prayer is communication with the Lord, a constant awareness of his presence, thankfulness for His grace, and listening for His word.   There are times when formal liturgy is a good discipline and focus for prayer, especially within community worship, there are other times when spontaneity and joy are a gift.  What better place to be aware of such than space, within the vastness of His creation, looking down on the full beauty of His gift to us, our world? How tragic that such an opportunity should be spent fretting on the correct timing and position of prayer instead of giving thanks to our maker for this, His creation?

There is a Muslim rumour, widely believed that Neil Armstrong heard the Islamic call to prayer after touchdown.  What actually happened can be read of here, how  Buzz Aldrin partook of Holy Communion on the surface of the moon.

* And my footnote? The spoof trailer for Mel Brookes History of the World: Part II which appeared at the end of the 1981 film History of the World: Part I of course. You can google for that yourself, and then rent it on video, I'm not spoiling the joke here!  God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31

Posted on 04/27/2006 3:15 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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