Wednesday, 31 May 2006
An unaccountable mess by unaccountable people

From the Telegraph. I'll cut to the chase, this paragraph way down the article according with my experience after 29 years in the department of Light Bulb Changers as it does.

There have been third-rate administrations before, packed with ministers of little ability or experience: but then the country could count on two factors to safeguard its interests. First, there was a "Rolls-Royce" Civil Service that could take over in times of trouble and ensure the business of government was carried on effectively and responsibly. And second, there was a constitutional understanding that accountability was clear, and the trail ended on the desk of the minister in charge of the department concerned.

Yet Labour has destroyed both these safeguards. Without a mandate to do so, or any consultation, it has politicised the Civil Service, by putting into it its own political appointees. The net of recruits to the Civil Service has been widened, ostensibly to make it more "inclusive", but in fact to provide better access to Labour's otherwise unqualified and unsuitable clients. This, and a blame culture, has demoralised many existing staff and forced countless others out.

Inclusive, aka "diversity" my Aunt Fanny.  I am used to not hearing much English spoken around me when I am travelling to work.  If I do hear English the speaker is likely to be a middle aged black person of West Indian heritage.  When I arrive at work I am starting to get nervous about the many languages I hear in the office lift and in the canteen queue. 

Posted on 05/31/2006 3:40 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
A pal clues me in:
"Derb—-This is actually the big thing for yuppie Anglos, Derb. And it is being done in other languages, though the only other languages I'm aware of children being raised in (where the language is not the native language of the parents) are French and Hebrew (and Hebrew is a special case). In those cases, the effort is entirely private, but there is definitely a trend of upscale urban parents wanting their children to learn more than one language with fluency from an early age. And Spanish has obvious appeal as both a 'useful' language (since so many people in this hemisphere and this country speak it) and a very easy one to learn (relatively small vocabulary, regular grammar, phonetic spelling).  Moreover, there are upscale school districts that have done away with traditional bi-lingual education (which was, truly, segregated education, by ancestral language rather than race) and replaced it with 'dual immersion' where both native English speakers and native Spanish speakers are put together in classes where half the time instruction is in Spanish and half the time in English. Upscale parents love it. These programs made the news when a rich heiress in Colorado spent vast sums fighting Ron Unz's anti-bi-lingual education initiative in that state (successfully, I might add - the first time one of these initiatives was defeated) arguing, basically, that if you brought all these Spanish-speaking kids into regular classes, this would (among other things) undermine these wonderful dual-immersion classes. As said classes were pretty much exclusively for honors students, what the argument meant was: we have to maintain educational segregation to protect our privileged dual-immersion yuppie spawn from being overwhelmed by the great brown hordes. A highly edifying spectacle from a self-professed liberal Democrat."
[Derb]  All right, time to call for the outlawing of ALL foreign-language teaching.  As the hillbilly said:  "If English was good enough for Our Lord, it's good enough for me."  Who's with me?  Come on, America —- Si, se puede!
Posted on 05/31/2006 3:52 PM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Unstick the tarbaby

"...declaring that the United States was too tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan..."
-- from Haaretz

The harm that would result from the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the Islamic Republic of Iran far outweighs any conceivable good that could come from the construction or re-construction of a country called "Iraq" from American efforts to keep the Sunni and Shi'a forces apart, or, still more fantastic, keeping them somehow together, fighting side by side, against the same perceived enemies of the new nation-state of "Iraq."

Those who would prefer that United States avoid, if possible, the use of planes and missiles to stop the Iranian nuclear project should naturally wish that the American government do whatever it can to impress upon the Iranian regime, or individual Iranians who work on that project and might sabotage or give more detailed reports on it, that the threats to use force are serious.

The best way to ensure this is to withdraw, within the year, from Iraq. The Iraqi government's hopeless dithering -- hopeless not because everyone is incapable, but because the situation is hopeless, for the Sunnis will not reconcile themselves to the loss of power which became inevitable when Saddam Hussein was overthrown -- provides the excuse for that withdrawl, for those who think some excuse is necessary. Why the American government believes it needs such an excuse is another matter. In any case, such withdrawal would concentrate the minds of Iranian rulers, and also of those described as "Iranian nationalists" who are making a mistake in parroting the line about how "Iran has a right to have nuclear power (i.e., weapons." No it doesn't, and it doesn't because Iranians are Muslims, and Infidels cannot, any longer, tolerate -- and most understand why they cannot -- any Muslim people or polity acquiring dangerous weaponry. It is not merely a question of the present regime, but of the regime that might follow, or the regime after that. Nor is it a question even of a regime, but possibly of a group within that regime that can acquire, or hand off, such weaponry. To the anti-regime Iranian "patriot" who is offended by this view of things, the correct answer from Infidels is -- too bad. That's the problem of Islam, and what it inculcates, and what a sufficient number of its Believers either believe, or can so easily be made to believe when they, for whatever reason, become more deeply faithful in their Faith.

The American presence in Iraq is taken in Tehran not as threatening, as some loyal boosters of the Iraq the Model business appear to believe, but as a sure sign that the Americans will not use military force. The Iraq tarbaby to which the American military is being forced to cling by obstinate civilian leaders, and by some (not all) generals who are unused to questioning the entire strategy (not least because they do not know enough about Islam and Jihad to be sure of themselves in questioning that policy for the right reasons), is doing all kinds of damage. Young officers resign their commissions. Standards for new recruits are lowered. The numbers of those signing up for the Reserves and National Guard (whose own equipment often ends up being left in Iraq) declines. The morale of those who actually compare their own experiences in Iraq, and with Iraqis, with what the official line of the generals, merely parroting what the civilians in Washington tell them to say and think, goes steadily down. How could it not? The more aware one is, the more one thinks about the whole thing (usually when one has left Iraq, and had the leisure and distance to make sense of things), the more likely one is to be appalled by the squandering of resources based on a false notion: the notion of a widespread consciousness of being "Iraqi" that transcends such ideas as being "Arab" or "Kurd," and if Arab, than Sunni Arab or Shi'a Arab.

Soldiers and officers in the end discover that only a handful in Iraq think that way. This has obvious consequences. One cannot train an "Iraqi" army or "police" unit that will have a force of Sunni and Shi'a Arabs and of Kurds, and find that the recruits will trust each other, or could together mount an attack on targets that were 1) Sunni Arabs 2) Shi'a Arabs 3) Kurds and expect that all the officers and men could be trusted to carry out, rather than undermine, the mission. The Americans cannot distinguish which few Iraqis can be trusted, and which cannot. Nor, of course, can they trust the Sunni Arab officer to tell them the truth about Sunni recruits or for that matter about the Shi'a recruits, nor the Shi'a Arab officer about the Shi'a and Sunnis, or either about the Kurds, or the Kurds about the Arabs. It is a hopeless entanglement, of a kind that the Americans simply cannot unentangle.

And those who think that the mere existence of that Yankee-can-do attitude will see everyone through, and that somehow good will triumph, and it will all come right in the end, and history will absolve George Bush (he certainly thinks so -- the amount of time he spends alluding to this "history-will-absolve-me" theme reminds one of Fidel Castro, who has taken the same line), are not to be trusted. These are True Believers, not rational calculators of likelihoods, of possibilities, of the finiteness of resources that need to be husbanded, not squandered.

The existence of the odd Chalabi or Allawi or Kanan Makiya (to use his alias) means nothing. These are unrepresentative men, the very best that came out of Iraq, and who furthermore spent decades in the West and there became to a great degree, Western, rational, entirely secular men (even if some of them still become defensive -- as Kanan Makiya does in invoking memories of his pious, and kind grandmother -- when sensing that Islam itself is under attack). Policy cannot be made on the basis of this handful, any more than policies for other Muslim countries can be made on the basis of those clever and appealing people (from Egypt, from Iran) who have their own fish to fry, their own aims in inveigling the Americans to help them -- aims which do not correspond to those that should be ours, as Infidels, which is not to improve matters for the camp of Islam, but everywhere to force the camp of Islam to be divided and demoralized, to be kept constantly on edge, and to be made aware that Infidels everywhere are being immunized, through knowledge, to the siren-songs of Da'wa, and the mountebank's patter of the apologists with their careful handful of Qur'anic quotes, their reliance on taqiyya and tu-quoque and above all, on the continued ignorance and willful naiveté of the Infidel audiences they encounter.

What are the "Iraqis"? The Kurds may be genuinely grateful, but that reflects not only the American aircover from 1991 to 2003, but also the understanding that only the United States can be a midwife to an independent Kurdistan. The Arabs are essentially irredeemably hostile. This does not mean that the Shi'a do not, for now, want the Americans to stay so as to keep doing the dangerous work of suppressing both kinds of Sunni rebels -- the Iraqi kind, who simply do not want to lose power to the Shi'a or to the Kurds, and are prepared to fight, and the outside-Iraqi kind, who under Zarqawi are fighting the Infidel Americans and the Infidel Shi'a, those "Rafidite dogs." But if the impulses are different, the end result is the same.

It might be that tomorrow it will be the Sunnis of Iraq wanting the Americans to stay to protect them, and the Shi'a who will now want them to go, if they get in the way of the death-dealing Shi'a militia. It hardly matters. And it hardly matters that some Iraqis, both Sunni and Shi'a, would like the Americans not to leave quite yet because they are hopeful of obtaining still more American money, rebuilding, and of course, hope as well that if the Americans have to leave in a hurry, they will leave behind all kinds of highly desirable military equipment. There is no end to this.

And there is no end, apparently, to the belief of many at the top of this Administration that somehow in this ill-named, dangerously-named "war on terror," a "victory" can be achieved in Iraq by creating this permanently on-edge nation-state, with the Americans staying another year, or two, or four, or whatever Bush appears to hallucinate is still possible. That time frame is nonsense, of course, because the candidate elected in 2008 will be the one who promises a 1952-style I-will-end-the-war-in-Korea which helped elect Eisenhower, and all hell will break lose if that new President fails to honor that commitment). But why should we wait until then? Why should hundreds of billions more, that might be spent on nuclear plants (starting now), solar and wind energy, on subsidies for mass transit, on all the things that could be done to diminish one of the key weapons of the world-wide Jihad -- the money, the damned oil money?

Meanwhile, in Iraq, there is widespread hostility by the "Iraqis" toward the American soldiers who are there, so those soldiers are told, to help the Iraqis, to rebuild Iraq, to make Iraq into a functioning, even thriving nation-state. Theirs not to reason why -- but they are beginning to reason, and they cannot quite fit the reality they experience into the pseudo-reality of the generals and civilian leaders. And this pains and confuses and in the end demoralizes them. For too often they have seen civilians waving sweetly at them, civilians whom they realize know exactly when an attack is planned. Too often they have seen those civilians dancing around in celebration after attacks on American soldiers, sometimes even mutilating the corpses of soldiers, or helping to kill downed pilots who were alive when they reached the ground. They have heard stories, too, about Americans "embedded" with Iraqi units who do not trust, for one minute, the soldiers in those units not to attempt to kill them, the Americans. There are even reports that this feared event may already have occurred. But the officers and men are not allowed to speak about this, not allowed to speak or write or question this whole policy, even if it is they who are risking their lives in this futile, dangerous, expensive effort, still underway only because of the crazed stubbornness, the inability to admit that one was wrong, completely wrong both about Islam (for if Islam is the problem, then helping Muslim countries is hardly a quasi-solution; one wishes instead to contain Islam, in the first place by dividing and demoralizing the camp of Islam), and about Iraq (the inability of Bush, Cheney, Rice, or for that matter outside advisers, such as Bernard Lewis, to focus on the resentment of Shi'a for Sunnis, and on the fantasy-world of the Sunnis who will not, cannot, give up their claims to political and therefore every other kind of power in Iraq, should be the focus of everyone's attention. It is clear why they cannot discuss or recognize this: it would show that they had made war, made grand plans, without understanding Iraq. Criminal negligence in the study of Iraq, the willingness to be inveigled by assorted chalabis waving away any pre-war worries -- who now wishes to admit that the whole Iraq the Light Unto the Muslim Nations notion, whereby a state now ruled by Shi'a would somehow become a model for Sunni Arabs, was madness from first to last? Who?

So the best the Americans can hope for is a limping-along Iraq, constantly propped up by more than a hundred thousand American soldiers, and $100 billion a year in expenses to American taxpayers, just so that Bush can end his term without having had to "change course" or admit that he got two things wrong: Islam, and Iraq. Meanwhile, the best the soldiers can hope for of their "Iraqi" friends is a kind of greedy (always angling for, snatching at, whatever American dollars or other aid may be available), watching indifferently the American soldiers fight and die, and save for a handful of largely Kurdish troops, being entirely unwilling and incapable of doing much fighting on their own, adopting in military as in reconstruction efforts a "wake-me-when-it's-over" attitude. And of course, the Sunni Arabs and Shi'a Arabs are unlikely to exhibit what no Muslim peoples have ever exhibited -- a spirit of rational compromise that would require something more than the conspiracy theories, inshallah-fatalism, inculcated aggression, and habit of mental submission, all of which are the natural products of an Islamic society. That some who were in exile for decades have managed, at the very top, to exhibit the features of rational, Western man is not enough; a handful do not make a country.

I have over the past year been calling this tarbaby Iraq. But Uncle Remus, and Joel Chandler Harris, I now realize, do not do paint the matter in colors as dark as deserved. For no longer is it merely a tarbaby. No, as the American policymakers move back and forth trying to unstick itself here, and now getting stuck there, that tarbaby now dissolves slowly into something more menacing. As policies toward the world-wide Jihad remain fixed and prematurely fossilized, and the American military, whatever its purely military accomplishments, is being turned into that powerful, but essentially helpless mammoth, twisting to extricate itself, and no longer knowing how, from that tarbaby of Iraq that has now become the La Brea Tar Pits.

And this is something that Iran knows, and takes delight in, and believes will guarantee that it can proceed, without further ado, toward its nightmarish -- for Infidels -- goal.

Posted on 05/31/2006 2:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Bilingual America
A nearby family has a sweet little girl aged 6 or 7, currently attending kindergarten or 1st grade (I'm not sure) in the local elementary school.  She's taking all her lessons (except English) in Spanish.  It's an option the school offers.  Her parents are pleased:  "She can already speak a lot of Spanish!"

No offense to anyone, but I think this is awful.  I wouldn't mind if it were being done with some other language—-Latin, say, or Hungarian, or Sumerian, or Chinese.  Since it's being done —- and ONLY being done —- in Spanish, it's hard to resist the conclusion that this is part of a deliberate program of Hispanicization on the part of our political and bureaucratic elites. 

The logical end-point of this path will be the situation in Quebec, where a person not bilingual — in our case, in English and Spanish — will be at a disadvantage in the job market.  Is this a thing Americans actually want?  Did anyone ask us?

When stuff like this is seeping in even to drowsy middle-class outer suburbs like mine, bilingual America is well on its way.  Our masters are sick or our boring, unimaginative monolingualism, and they mean to do something about it, whether we like it or not.
Posted on 05/31/2006 2:13 PM by John Derbyshire
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
How to build a memorial
Via Aussiegirl, this excerpt from Christopher Hitchens' Memorial Day essay in the Wall Street Journal:

"Always think of it: never speak of it." That was the stoic French injunction during the time when the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine had been lost. This resolution might serve us well at the present time, when we are in midconflict with a hideous foe, and when it is too soon to be thinking of memorials to a war not yet won.

No matter that Hitchens has quoted the French before, and no matter that the kind of French stoic he cites has been long extinct.  The wisdom behind the posture should be self-evident, and it is to many--just not to worshippers in the Church of Comfort and Convenience.

I was lucky to have been raised by my mother, who still exhibits this kind of stoicism, and by my late father, who was stoical in the face of his last illness--and who remained silent about what he did and saw island hopping with the Marines in WW II, up to and including Okinawa.  He did speak well, however, of the Japanese, after they were utterly defeated.  A part of the U.S. occupation force in Tokyo, he was offered a commission if he would stay.  Dad declined, saying he had to get home:  his mother missed him.

The only true and lasting memorials are erected in the citadel of a human heart which gives ample space and honor to love and tenderness, determination and hope.  A human mind devoted to protecting this--by naming and facing the adversary squarely--is a mind well used.  All the rest  is dust.
Posted on 05/31/2006 1:26 PM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Bark in the Park

This little darling is a guide dog in training that we met over the weekend at Bark in the Park a Blue Peter event in support of Guide Dogs for the Blind.  There were six locations around Great Britain with sponsored walks, training displays, bands and a Braille trail. Where we were we saw a Roman Gladiator re-enactment and watched numerous mad people try the British Military Fitness Assault course.

And we read the story of Tom, the black Labrador retriever cross, who led his owner to safety through the chaos in and around Tavistock Square on the 7th July.


To think that there is an ideology that so hates dogs that a taxi driver of that persuasion will not pick up a blind person with a guide dog,  will not allow a blind woman to take her guide dog on pilgrimage, and will kill the dogs beloved of the Zoroastrians of Iran.


I think I will keep saving the stamps.


My husband once asked the receptionist in our local vets what the guide dogs were doing with all the stamps I kept handing in.

“Saving up for a teasmade” she said.

Posted on 05/31/2006 12:41 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Name to conjure with

London's Evening Standard reports that a 79-year-old market trader has been given an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) for swearing at council officials.

His name? George Mothersole. I can't be the first person to conjure with this name. His schooldays must have been made a misery. You'd think they'd take this into account, as well as his age and the fact that the council officials probably deserved to be sworn at, because council officials often do.

And what did he used to sell at the market? Bananas.

Posted on 05/31/2006 8:22 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Heterosexualists rally in Charlottesville
Posted on 05/31/2006 5:55 AM by Robert Bove
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Song for tomorrow

Esmerelda’s latest article argues that the words of English popular songs rarely feature names of English towns. Perhaps she has forgotten Fiddlers Dram from 1979, which is comfortably within the time span covered by her article. For Americans – this is how the English enjoy themselves:


Didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to Bangor

A beautiful day, we had lunch on the way and all for under a pound you know

But on the way back I cuddled with Jack and we opened a bottle of cider

Singing a few of our favourite songs as the wheels went around


Do you recall the thrill of it all as we walked along the sea grand

Then on the sand we heard a brass band that played the Diddlely-Bump-Terrara

Elsie and me had one cup of tea then we took a Paddler boat out

Splashing away as we sat on the bay and the wheels went 'round


Didn't we have a lovely time ….


Wasn't it nice, eating chocolate ice as we strolled around the fun-fair

Then we ate eels in big ferris wheels as we sailed around the ground but then

We had to be quick 'cause Elsie felt sick and we had to find somewhere to take her

I said to her lad, what made her feel bad was the wheel going 'round


Didn't we have a lovely time …


Elsie and me, we finished our tea and said goodbye to the seaside

Got on the bus, Flo said to us, oh isn't it a shame to go

Wouldn't it be grand to have cash on demand and to live like this for always

Oh it makes me feel ill, when I think of the mill and the wheels goin' 'round


Didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to Bangor

A beautiful day, we had lunch on the way and all for under a pound you know

But on the way back I cuddled with Jack and we opened a bottle of cider

Singing a few of our favourite songs as the wheels went around


Come to think of it, Bangor is not an English town, but a Welsh one. Blackpool wouldn't work.

Reading Esmerelda’s piece got me thinking – not for the first time - about pop songs and days of the week. It’s Friday night and the lights are low, according to Abba. Saturday night’s all right for fighting, and if I’m not too hungover I can be your Sunday girl. I don’t like Mondays – who does? Hair of the dog – a ruby port on Ruby Tuesday. Wednesday week he loved me, but Wednesday week never happened at all.


Now it’s Thursday. Is there a song about Thursday? I just can’t think of one. Maybe there isn’t one. If there is, I’d like to know. If not, why not? Is Thursday always overshadowed by the upcoming weekend?

Posted on 05/31/2006 4:53 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Less Talk, More Rock

Looks like we're not the only ones battling shrinking attention spans and the excesses of "casual Friday." From the Khaleej Times: "Smarten up and keep it short, minister tells Egyptian imams"

CAIRO - Egypt’s Islamic endowments has [sic] advised the prayer leaders of mosques to smarten up their appearance and shorten their sermons so as not to bore the faithful, newspapers reported on Tuesday.

“How can you people tell you apart from plumbers and carpenters if you don’t wear the (religious) costume of the Al Azhar (institute), which gives prestige and renown?” asked Mahmud Hamdi Zaqzouq, quoted in Al Masri Al Youm.

Speaking to a delegation of 200 imams from across Egypt, the minister said the dress sense of many prayer leaders left much to be desired, singling out the worst offence as wearing babouche, or Turkish-slippers.

Imam Blackwell has spoken, but, no word about the content of the sermons, as long as they're short.
Posted on 05/31/2006 12:18 AM by Marisol Seibold
Tuesday, 30 May 2006
War on Heteros -- the Opening Shots

I picked up this item via Larry Auster's blog

"The director of the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition against racism (CEOOR), a governmental agency in Belgium, has told the press that the stigmatization or discrimination of majorities is not real discrimination.  These days the CEOOR is distributing 100,000 post cards with the message 'Vuile Hetero' (in Dutch) or 'Sale Hétéro' (in French), which in English translates to: 'Dirty Heterosexual'.  In a press release, the center explains that this is a 'provocative boomerang campaign' intended to demonstrate 'the kind of insults homosexuals are frequently subjected to'.

"And provocative it proved to be. The campaign led Jan Van Gucht, a 54 year old man living near the Flemish city of Kortrijk, to go to the police and file a complaint against the CEOOR.  He told newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws:  'I am a heterosexual man and I did not choose to. I was born this way, and I do not want to be insulted...'

"...CEOOR's director Jozef De Witte laughs away Van Gucht's objections: 'I have a number of experts working for me who know what discrimination is. The stigmatization of a majority is not really part of that. Discrimination is something that by definition affects minorities.'"

[Derb]  I tell you, it's war.  The end point of this, if people like Mr. De Witte win, will be a situation like that in Charles Beaumont's story "The Crooked Man," about a future world where homosexuality was the norm and heterosexuality is illegal.  The hero gets arrested for a secret tryst with a woman.  That's where we're headed.  You heard it here first.  (Unless you read the Beaumont story, which was circa 1955.)

Posted on 05/30/2006 6:30 PM by John Derbyshire
Tuesday, 30 May 2006
An unusual challenge: how to develop warning signs that will last for longer than the English language.

From the Telegraph

Nuclear scientists are facing an unusual challenge: how to develop warning signs that will last for longer than the English language.

The Committee on Radioactive waster management recommending the construction of a concrete bunker 1,000ft or more beneath the surface at an estimated cost of £7 billion. 

Radioactivity from the waste in such a store would last for thousands of years, raising the issue of how to warn future generations not to reopen the sealed chamber. It is far from certain that English will be unRadioactivityderstood in 10,000 years, or that our rather benign pictogram for radiation - three circular wedges emanating from the central "atom" pictured - will denote anything dangerous at all.

In 1993 the US gathered a team of experts - an anthropologist, astronomer, archaeologist, environmental designer, linguist and materials scientist - to outline the best design for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (Wipp) in New Mexico, a nuclear waste dump housed in a salt mine half a mile below ground.

Danger messages would be written in each of the official UN languages - ArabThe Rosetta Stoneic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish - as well as Navajo in the case of the Wipp site.

This latter-day Rosetta Stone would have blank space, for future languages to be added when current tongues have drifted from memory.

The work being carried out in the UK is on a far less gargantuan scale, and at the moment focuses on preserving detailed knowledge of the depositories for future generations - what exactly they contain, how the waste was produced and why it was placed where it was.

"The Americans have got rather more space, so their approach would be rather different," said Andy Baker of the Environment Agency. "Our emphasis would be more on how to record information in archives and libraries."


"Now we have to concentrate on preserving our records for the next 10 generations and beyond."



I suggest not using any of the type of paper currently used for paperback books. I do suggest looking at how to reproduce the stuff used for the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Posted on 05/30/2006 9:47 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Eccentric, Possibly Unhinged Woman Admits She Has Not Read The Da Vinci Code

Puerto Rico Celebrates Dependence Day

Law Professor Sale Says Enron Verdict Sends Warning

"Osama" Popular Google Search Word in "Certain Parts" of UK

Okay, the first two are intentionally ironic, their stories fictional.  The third is the product of what must be the dullest univesity PR department in the world. (hat tip: Best of the Web).  The last is a nice culling from a "straight" newspaper filler-type story, via Islam: The Religion of Peace

That site's "photo of the week" runs a of picture of the body of slain Dutch filmaker Theo Van Gogh next to a portrait of his murderer.  They caption it thusly:

Just who do you have to kill to get into the Dutch parliament these days?  Ayaan Hirsi Ali was an elected member until she spoke out against the abuse of women under Islamic law and was stripped of her citizenship and virtually evicted from the country.  The Muslim extremist who murdered filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, on the other hand, enjoys catered meals, full voting privileges, and the right to run for parliament.

And that's about all the irony I can handle--for now.
Posted on 05/30/2006 9:24 AM by Robert Bove
Tuesday, 30 May 2006
Write your local papers
The New York Sun printed a letter of mine this morning.  Unfortunately, you have to be a subscriber to see all of it online, but here it all is anyway:

Letters to the Editor

May 30, 2006

'Britain's Last Hope'

I applaud your constant attention to the dire threat jihad Islam poses to Britain - and the U.S. [Daniel Freedman, "Britain's Last Hope," Opinion, May 25, 2006 and Daniel Johnson, "Letter from London," Opinion, May 25, 2006]. 

The New York Sun remains, sadly, one of the few newspapers in the country that eloquently and persistently reports on the collapse of Western elites in the face of this threat.  I pray they're reading you in London.

Robert Bove / Contributing Editor / New English Review / Brooklyn

It's the only letter they printed today, right next to a pic of Melanie Phillips (Londonistan) and below an essay by Mark Steyn, "Incumbistan" (run yesterday in the Chicago Sun-Times as "Gingrich revolutionaries turn into arrogant elite").  

So, from op/edistan, ciao, bella!

Posted on 05/30/2006 6:31 AM by Robert Bove
Monday, 29 May 2006
Code comfort

I know we shouldn’t talk about it, but, as the BBC said the other day, an astonishing 50 million people have read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, some without even moving their lips. Here’s Charles Moore. I particularly like the last sentence:

This [Spectator’s Notes] column has not been kind to The Da Vinci Code, but it strikes me that there is a useful lesson to be derived from Dan Brown’s fiction. His idea that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children, a line of descent ending up with gorgeous Parisian police cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), shows the wisdom of the Catholic Church in insisting on priestly celibacy. Where families and power meet, dynasties are created; and where dynasties are created, rivalries abound; and where rivalries abound, killing and war ensue. The history of Christianity has been bloody enough as it is; imagine what it would have been like if Christ really had had children. Actually, you don’t need to imagine it — you can simply study the history of Islam. Because Mohammed had many wives and many children (though no surviving son), there was, almost from the beginning, a dispute about who was his rightful successor (caliph). That is why Sunnis and Shias fight one another to this day.

For his next novel, Brown should ‘uncover’ an amazing Muslim conspiracy to conceal the fact that Mohammed had no children and that the early caliphs made it up. That should do a roaring trade at airport bookstalls.

Posted on 05/29/2006 6:33 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 29 May 2006
Taking odds
Is there are real chance Prince Charles will convert to Islam?  Some interesting speculation over at Gates of Vienna resulted from a report about an unstereotypical Anglican bishop:

Here at Gates of Vienna we’ve become accustomed to the moribund irrelevance and passivity of the Anglican Church, both in the United States and in Britain. Thus it took smelling salts to revive us when we heard about a bishop in the Church of England who actually defended his faith against the encroachment of mushy multiculturalism.

To make the affair even more poignant, the bishop in question was born in Pakistan. Here’s the report from The News:

A leading Anglican bishop has attacked the trend towards what he called a multi-faith mish-mash in ethnically diverse Britain, and said it was time to reassert the country’s Christian identity.

Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali also questioned heir-to-the throne Prince Charles’s desire to be seen as a defender of all faiths, not just Christianity, when he takes over as monarch.

Pakistani-born Nazir-Ali, whose family background is both Christian and Muslim, pitched into an emotive debate about national identity in a country deeply shocked last year when four British Islamic militants killed 52 people in attacks on London’s transport system.

The bishop argued that the basis of British society, from the monarchy to its laws, was “Christian constitutionally”.

“All our values come ultimately from the Bible,” he told BBC radio.

Isn’t that a bit over the top? I mean, the Bible is all very well, but, really

Then he has the nerve to assail the current heir to the British throne:

As the future titular head of the Church of England, Prince Charles has said he would like to be known as “Defender of Faith” rather than “Defender of the Faith.”

Bishop Nazir-Ali took issue with the heir to the throne, saying: “The coronation service is such that whoever takes the oaths actually takes oaths to defend the Christian faith.”

“You can’t defend every faith because there are very serious differences among them,” he added.

This is the crux of the matter: not all religions can be reconciled with one another. Islam has its own hallowed scriptural basis for refusing reconciliation with all other faiths.

I’ve been expecting Prince Charles — based on his fatuous pronouncements from recent years — to undergo a prominent conversion to Islam in the not-so-distant future.

Is this expectation warrented by the facts?  It seems if Prince Charles did convert to any religion, the law would prevent him from assuming the throne--or force him to abdicate if he were already king.

The Act of Settlement (1701): "The Sovereign must, in addition, be in communion with the Church of England and must swear to preserve the established Church of England and the established Church of Scotland. The Sovereign must also promise to uphold the Protestant succession."
Posted on 05/29/2006 6:11 AM by Robert Bove
Sunday, 28 May 2006
FBI accused of doing its job
Last week, if you remember, a jihad Muslim was convicted of plotting to blow up Americans and their subways here in NYC.  It is possible he will spend the rest of his life in enforced peacefulness:

 "Pakistani man was convicted of planning to blow up a New York subway station ahead of the Republican National Convention held before the 2004 presidential election.

Shahawar Matin Siraj, 24, could face life in prison for conspiring to plant explosives at the 34th Street subway station near Madison Square Garden, where the political gathering took place, according to the Justice Department.

Another man, James Elshafay, pleaded guilty in October 2004 to participating in the plot and later testified against Siraj.

The federal jury in Siraj's five-week trial heard hours of secretly recorded conversations between him and an Egyptian nuclear engineer who became a paid informant for the New York City Police Department, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Local Muslims were aghast:

Muslims in Bay Ridge, some who knew Siraj and some who did not, expressed anger at the disclosure that the NYPD spied on them.

“This was a confirmation of what we already knew … and have known since 9-11,” said Linda Sarsour, a Muslim activist who prays at the same Islamic Society of Bay Ridge mosque where Siraj occasionally worshipped.

Sarsour and others said the NYPD spying program would convince people that Muslims are guilty until proven innocent.

“I am an American citizen, like everyone else,” said Abdel Hamid Hassan, who brought his two children to pray at the mosque last week. “[The danger] is not us — we live here. How could I destroy the place I live in? Everybody I know follows the rules of this country.”

Sarsour especially complained about “raids” of cafes frequented by Muslims along 69th Street and Fifth Avenue, with authorities asking patrons for identification and taking some away for questioning. Police vans hover outside the mosque and FBI agents sometimes leave business cards on people’s doors, she said.

“[The suspicion] causes people to not be active in the community, to be isolated,” said Sarsour. “People go to from work to home, from school to home.

“Last week, we had a Palestinian march, and there should have been 2,000 people at least [but] there were [only] 350 or so,” added Sarsour. “No one wants to give political opinions.”

Islamic Society spokesman Wael Mousfar said the NYPD spying program “has put fear in people’s lives. It’s not a good feeling. People feel very uncomfortable doing anything, talking to anyone, even gathering together.”

“I don’t think that surveillance of any ethnic or racial group is a good tool,” said Maria Haberfeld, chair of the law, police science and criminal justice administration department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “In fact, it can breed problems and alienate the group or community.”

John Jay College is, of course, part of the City University of New York, a taxpayer-funded institution that, fortunately, also produces some fine law enforcers.  
Posted on 05/28/2006 6:16 AM by Robert Bove
Sunday, 28 May 2006

“Some rock songs really are conservative, and there are a lot more of them than you think”, according to the National Review, which lists the 50 “greatest conservative rock songs of all time”.


The Sunday Times (London, of course), argues that this is all rather silly:


Does the devil have the best tunes? If you are a leftie this morning, you could be forgiven for thinking so. America’s conservative National Review has a big feature declaring there is nothing prog about rock. It lists 50 pop standards that are, apparently, right-wing.

They range from the obvious, such as Taxman by the Beatles, to the debatable Won’t Get Fooled Again by the Who, to the shocking: even the Sex Pistols are claimed as true blues for an anti-abortion rant called Bodies. Oh, and the Clash for Rock the Casbah.

Imaginatively, so are the Everly Brothers for Wake Up Little Susie. Heroes by David Bowie is apparently a cogent condemnation of Soviet militarism; the Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil is an attack on leftie moral relativism as satan makes us believe “every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints”. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd is lauded for praising a place “liberals love to loathe”. Yikes.

Clearly some policy wonk has spent many lonely nights doing what he should have given up aged 14: taking pop lyrics very seriously.

You can say that again.

But how surprising are the findings? Bryan Ferry, Eric Clapton and much of Pink Floyd rock for the rights of toffs to wear pink in pursuit of foxes. And Ray Davies, an old English romantic who lazes on sunny afternoons, tells us to respect our culture. Rockers may have trouped out for Red Wedge the way we dutifully trudge to memorial services. But then it was back in the Bentley to a home counties trout lake singing God Save the Queen.

Still, it used to be the original version — now, presumably, even the Pistols’ version will be tickety boo for the next Tory barn dance in Tring.

To search for conservatism in the words of rock songs misses an important point: the world of rock and roll is intrinsically conservative, whatever the apparent content of the songs. Fiscally conservative, that is, but socially liberal. Like the New British Tories. This was noted by Mark Steyn in a Telegraph opinion piece over two years ago:

            The true essence of rock 'n' roll is: don't do as they sing, do as they do.

Your average rock colossus wants to keep all his dough and live in a swanky pile in the country, but get laid and do drugs as often as he likes. The New Tories want economic independence and personal debauchery, not just for pop stars, but for everyone.

This was pre-Cameron, of course. It isn’t clear where Cameron’s “General Well Being” fits into the world of rock and roll. (I refuse to call it rock ‘n’ roll, as this reminds me of Toys “R” Us, the worst ever name for a shop.) However, I sincerely hope that all his talk about “quality of life” and “ethical work” is as meaningless as the words of a rock song and that, if they get elected, they will do what a Conservative Government is supposed to do – cut taxes and stay out of people’s lives.

Posted on 05/28/2006 6:05 AM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 27 May 2006
Nice notice
The June/July First Things has the following brief, uncredited review of Robert Spencer's The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims  (review not yet available online):

"This book might be described as an extended bill of indictment against Islam and a debunking of the still commonly heard claim that Islam has been and is tolerant of minorities.  In addition to the editor, authors include Robert Wistrich, Daniel Pipes, and Bat Ye'or--the last the author of the recently published Eurabia and other books that have alerted the West to the reality of 'dhimmitude,' meaning the subservient place of Christians and Jews under Islamic rule.  As a bill of indictment, it is subject to the complaint that it does not include everything that needs to be said on the subject, but what it does say is necessary and relentlessly grim reading."
Posted on 05/27/2006 9:09 AM by Robert Bove
Saturday, 27 May 2006
CIRA=Corruption, Ignorance, Recklessness, Arrogance
The sheer staggering awfulness of CIRA (the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, passed by the U.S. Senate yesterday) is just beginning to dawn on me.  Heritage's Robert Rector, who knows what he's talking about, called it "the worst bill I have seen in 25 years."  The only thing to question there is the 25.  This might easily be the worst bill ever.

I've been following immigration issues, in a not-very-attentive way, for 30-something years.  I've held five different residence statuses myself (B-2, illegal, H-1B, Green Card, citizen).  There are people like Mark Krikorian who have been really following the issue for years — working the facts, crunching the numbers, doing the extrapolations, arguing the issues, every working day.  God only knows how Mark must be feeling:  for the truly breathtaking thing about CIRA is that it is built on a foundation of sheer ignorance.  All that research, all that work, all those arguments might just as well not have taken place.  How's it feel, Mark?

Ignorance, and indifference.  There seems to have been no consideration of CIRA's impact on:

—-our legal system

—-our economy

—-our bureaucracy

—-our local-level public services

—-our looming entitlements crisis

The cost estimate of $54 over ten years is a joke, like all cost estimates in Congressional acts.  Educational costs alone will be ten times that.

Take a school district at random — say, mine.  Here are the percentages of Hispanic students as you go down the age scale in this quiet suburban community 1,400 miles from our nation's southern border:

High school (17 percent Hispanic)

Junior High (16 percent)

Intermediate (28 percent)

Elementary (31 percent)

Check out the numbers for your own district.  When, exactly, did the U.S. people ask for this huge burden to be placed on their local services & tax base?  When did we ask our lawmakers to open the nation's doors to tens of millions of low-skilled immigrants, paying low levels of tax, and making big demands on our welfare services?  When did we insist that people who have come into our country illegally, and stolen the Social Security numbers of citizens in order to get work, be eligible for Social Security benefits based on those stolen numbers?  (Yes, that is actually in CIRA.)  And that, just as the social security funding system is heading into major crisis?  When did we ask for legal immigration numbers to be tripled?   When?

Good grief.  One hardly knows where to start.

With Arlen Specter, perhaps, who at the very last minute slipped in an amendment to give the President of Mexico veto power over our border security arrangements!  Here is Specter on some earlier issues:

"Not so, said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, in a rebuttal to weeks of debate. 'They have to pay a fine. They have to undergo a criminal background check. They have to pay back taxes, they have to learn English and they have to go to the back of the line,' he said, referring to illegal immigrants who would apply for citizenship."

Let's take it slowly, folk. 

—-"They have to pay a fine."  Less, in many cases, than what they paid the smugglers to bring them in.

—-"They have to undergo a criminal background check."  Don't worry, folks, we have complete access to the criminal justice databases of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc. .... Which, by the way, are scrupulously maintained.  We have their governments' assurances on that.   Oh, and we have the several million federal investigators needed to carry out those background checks already under training, and their salaries and expenses all appropriated in Congress.

—-"They have to pay back taxes."  Based on their own, unverifiable statements about how many crumpled dollar bills were pressed into their hands at the end of each day's work.  (Are they allowed to deduct the cut they pay to the jefe?  Come to think of it:  is the smuggler's fee tax-deductible?)  And note, note well, poor citizen:  They only have to pay taxes on three of the past five years.  This is a deal YOU CANNOT GET.  "IRS" now stands for "Immigrant Relief and Sustenance." 

—-"They have to learn English."   No they don't.  They have to show they have signed up for an ESL (English as Second Language) course, that's all.  They don't have to, like, attend.  Test of proficiency?  There's supposed to be one already for citizenship.  Friend, I have attended two citizenship ceremonies (me, wife).  There were people taking the oath who could barely manage "Hello."  One of the new citizens could not understand any of the Marshal's instructions; fortunately he had a relative at hand to translate them into Cantonese for him.

—-"They have to go to the back of the line."  What line?  The only line that matters to illegal immigrants is the one for lawful U.S. residence.  (You know, the one Filipinos wait 24 years on, sitting back home in Manila.)  And even that line doesn't matter to them any more because THEY ARE ALREADY HERE.  Citizenship?  Eh, maybe... mañana.  The kids got it by birth, that's the main thing.  And jury duty is, you know, a real drag. 

There, in fact, you have what is perhaps CIRA's most glaring weakness:  its utter failure to take any account of immigrant psychology.  Given this particular set of sticks and carrots, how will immigrants behave?  Nobody in the Senate, so far as I can see, has given a moment's thought to this.  Lots of illegal immigrants, for example, will rationally choose to remain illegal, trusting—surely correctly—that business groups will swiftly gut the employer-sanction provisions, as they did after 1986, and that by being illegal, a worker can undercut the wages of legal residents.  As they do now.

Similarly with employer psychology.  Which, among other things, may mean Adios, Mexicanos!  If a sweatshop employer cartel can bring in planeloads of workers from Indonesia, Bangladesh, or Ethiopia, for half what Mexicans cost, do you think they won't?  They will.  Current GDP per capita in Mexico—-around $6,000.  In Ethiopia—-around $100.  You want "willing workers"?  We got 'em. 

I'm just scratching the surface here.  The stupidity and rottenness of CIRA is really beyond the ability of a single human mind to encompass it.

And for Republicans, the most shocking, most shameful thing of all, is that this act to vastly swell the number of future Democratic voters, to bring about "the greatest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years" (Robert Rector), to kick working-class Americans in the teeth, to render meaningless the very concepts of our nation and our citizenship — in fact, to shove U.S. citizens off the sidewalk so that foreigners can be awarded special privilieges not available to us — this appalling monstrosity was cheered through by a Republican Senate at the urging of a Republican president.  For shame, for shame, for shame.

I will not vote for any politician who helped pass this bill;  I will not vote for any politician who says so much as a word in its favor — make that a syllable — and I will not even vote for any politician who agrees to go into conference on this horror.  How big are Capitol Hill garbage bins?  That's the only place this heap of dreck belongs. 

Posted on 05/27/2006 8:22 AM by John Derbyshire
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