March 26, 2007
Although I've been critical of those who want to pick a fight with Iran, this is a horse of another color. Perhaps I'm old-fashioned, but seizing this many sailors of another nation and not returning them promptly is a casus belli (justification for war). Such a war need not imply "total war" or an invasion; it could be a blockade, along wiht a seizure of assets, or short of formal war, a raid or two to seize Iranian soldiers or sailors. Moreover, Britain is our ally in the Gulf, and if asked we might have some obligation to participate.
It doesn't follow, of course, that just because a state of war or something approaching war has historically resulted from actions of this kind, that an immediate military response is necessary or wise. However, without tit-for-tat retaliation at a minimum, more incidents of this kind are invited.
I doubt Britain has the stomach for such action, and I hope diplomatic measures and pressure short of military action will be successful, although if the events in the Embassy a quarter-century ago are a precedent, diplomacy and pressure may not have much success.
And of course, if neither we nor the British were there in the first place, none of this would have happened.
March 25, 2007
Iran seems, to Democratic leaders, to epitomize the need for continued American hegemony, though so does the wish to intervene more often on human rights grounds, above all in Darfur, or to protect allies like Israel and Taiwan. More broadly, however, the issue that is dividing the Democrats is that their leaders believe a muscular foreign policy is what the age of terrorism demands, while antiwar voters believe such a policy may only breed more disasters.It was, after all, Madeleine Albright, Clinton's Secretary of State, who famously asked what the point of having a powerful military was if we could not use it.
Moreover, following an old pattern, each of the Democratic candidates has publicly truckled to the militant Zionist lobby, represented by AIPAC, and at the very least hinted at the need for an aggressive policy towards Iran. None has analyzed the differences between the national interests of Israel and the United States, which were evident to Eisenhower 51 years ago and to both parties now seem to be something not to be spoken of.
The interventionism of the Democrats has a UNICEF-greeting-card patina--better to intervene in Darfur where we have no strategic interests, than in Iraq, where we might. In both cases, however, there is an assumption of American moral wisdom to be enforced by arms. In neither case is there much understanding that we are dealing, in the Middle East, with distinct civilizations where we have little knowledge of the world we are turning upside down by force.
March 22, 2007
"I heard she's marrying an Irishman."So I came up with this knee-slapper:
"Her husband bought her a fur coat."
"JFK and Reagan were Irish. I think we need another Irishman in the White House."Ta-da-dah.
March 21, 2007
March 18, 2007
First, they've found enough water on the south polar icecap to cover the whole planet, although 90% of the water that used to be there seems to have disappeared. Liquid water is necessary for life as we know it, and there's probably some at the toe of the icecap:
I'd rather not meet any Martians, even if, as is probably the case, they're microbes. Remember what our microbes did to the Martian invaders in War of the Worlds.
"Life as we know it requires water and, in fact, at least transient liquid water for cells to survive and reproduce. So if we are expecting to find existing life on Mars we need to go to a location where water is available," Plaut said.
"So the polar regions are naturally a target because we certainly know that there's plenty of H2O there."
Some of the new information even hints at the possible existence of a thin layer of liquid water at the base of the deposits.
They've recently released results from studies of pig DNA from around the Pacific. Pigs did not radiate out from Taiwan to Oceania, as the linguistic evidence suggests happened with the people. (There are, or used to be, several Austronesian languages on Taiwan that separated a long time ago, suggesting it as the point of origin.)
I've always been fascinated by domestication. It seems so improbable, except maybe for dogs domesticating themselves, yet apparently happened repeatedly, all over the world.
The study is titled "Phylogeny and Ancient DNA of Sus Provides Insights into Neolithic Expansion in Island Southeast Asia and Oceania." Sus is the genus of pigs. Neolithic refers to Stone Age people who have developed agriculture.
Bollt says this does not mean the authors believe Polynesians originated or even visited Southeast Asia, or even that they necessarily sailed from Taiwan without pigs. They may have lost their pigs. They could have stopped at some point along what is now Vietnam and traded for or captured pigs, and then moved on, leaving no trace. Or perhaps the pigs were carried into the Lapita islands by other people, and the folks who would populate Polynesia picked them up there.
"It does support a more complex theory of migration that is not as linear as we've thought," Bollt said.
The paper suggests that there are other explanations than the popular "Speedboat out of Taiwan" theory, which argues that a single culture moved through Oceania, evolving as it went but without much outside influence. An alternative view is that there may be "multiple origins of the various cultural components," the paper said.
March 17, 2007
The University of California at Berkeley is looking to hire its first Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion, and I think it's about darn time. I'm heartened to know that with this renewed focus on recruiting students and faculty from underrepresented groups, Berkeley's agents will soon be scouring Iowa for devout homeschooled virgin boys. Young men returning from service in Iraq, likewise, may find a warmer reception than they would have received in years past. And no doubt many young parents, as well as retired executives, will soon be submitting their applications to the more equitable and inclusive Cal-Berkeley. Observant pro-war Jews, aspiring Christian filmmakers, chaste young pro-life activists — all are welcome under Berkeley's big tent, right?HT: Instapundit
--Sand in the Gears
|Vestíase a las seis de la mañana,|
iba a misa, tomaba chocolate,
asomábase un rato a la ventana,
rezaba el Pueri Dominum laudate,
sentábase a comer con buena gana,
fumaba su cigarro por remate,
dormía siesta, y cuando no dormía
la cabeza sin falta le dolía.
Por la tarde a Nuestro Amo visitaba
después del chocolate de ordenanza,
y como la mañana, se pasaba
todo el resto rascándose la panza.
|He got dressed at six in the morning,|
Went to mass, drank chocolate,
Looked out the window for a while
Prayed the "Praises Be",
Sat down to eat with a good appetite,
Smoked one for dessert,
Took a nap, and when he couldn't sleep
Invariably his head ached.
In the afternoon Our Master went visiting
After his wake-up chocolate,
And as in the morning, the rest
Of the day he spent scratching his belly.
--José Batres Montúfar
Source: Popul Vuh Museum.
March 15, 2007
Steve Sailer, bête noire of the Politically Correct, is on a roll.
Here he dissects the would-be Messiah Obama's racial persona, as reflected in is first biography.
Here he ponders the dubious Barack at greater length.
And here he provides a lucid and cant-free take on Jimmy Carter's Israel book. This last post has attracted some commenters (example here) who dwell in the dank cellars of paranoid antisemitism. Were I a cynic (perish the thought!) I'd say that given the penchant of reflexive defenders of Israel to accuse that sorry country's critics of antisemitism instead of engaging their argument, these chthonic beings are sockpuppets of the AIPAC publicity machine. Alas, I think they are the genuine article.
If you read Shadid's story, it's a very real, and sad post about the death of an Iraqi bookseller, and the effect of war on culture, an old story, not least in Baghdad. Shadid is distinguished by his ability to speak Arabic and to venture outside the Green Zone and talk to interesting people. The death of his friend Mohammed Hayawi is poignantly mourned in the story:
I really love newspaper stories that let you know, right away, that you are about to read pure blather. Today's example comes from the always faithful fountain of blather, the Washington Post:"It was a summer day in 2003, when Iraq was still filled with the half-truths of occupation and liberation, before its nihilistic descent into carnage." ( Anthony Shadid, "Washington Post Foreign Service")
On shelves eight rows high rested books by communist poets and martyred clerics, translations of Shakespeare, predictions by Lebanese astrologers, a 44-volume tome by a revered ayatollah and a tract by the austere medieval thinker Ibn Taimiyyah. Dusty stacks spilled across the cream-color tile floor, swept but stained with age. In those cramped quarters, Hayawi tried to cool himself with a fan, as perspiration poured down his jowly face and soaked his blue shirt.RIP, Mr. Hayawi.
We had met before the American invasion, and nearly a year later, he almost immediately recognized me.
"Abu Laila," he said, using the Arabic nickname taken from the name of a person's child.
He then delivered a line he would repeat almost every time we saw each other over the next few years. "I challenge anyone, Abu Laila, to say what has happened, what's happening now, and what will happen in the future." And, over a thin-waisted cup of tea, scalding even on this hot day, he shook his head.
A car bomb detonated last week on Mutanabi Street, leaving a scene that has grown familiar in Baghdad, a collage of chaotic images, disturbing in their brutality, grotesque in their repetition. At least 26 people were killed. Hayawi the bookseller was one of them.
* * * *
When the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258, it was said that the Tigris River ran red one day, black another. The red came from the blood of nameless victims, massacred by ferocious horsemen. The black came from the ink of countless books from libraries and universities. Last Monday, the bomb on Mutanabi Street detonated at 11:40 a.m. The pavement was smeared with blood. Fires that ensued sent up columns of dark smoke, fed by the plethora of paper.
A colleague told me that near Hayawi's shop, a little ways from the now-gutted Shahbandar Cafe, a black banner hangs today. In the graceful slope of yellow Arabic script, it mourns the loss of Hayawi and his nephew, "who were assassinated by the cowardly bombing."
Anthony Shahid is a fine writer, who conveys a very real sense of what's going on in the real lives (and deaths) of Iraqis.
Perhaps Shadid's mistaken about the war, and Gen. Petraeus can somehow turn it around. He's nevertheless a fine reporteer.
When I was a kid, space travel was a fantasy, à la Forbidden Planet. Now they have flicks like this a few touchpad clicks away. Gotta love it.
Too bad the same technology makes missiles.
I'm Chiquita BananaNow, apparently, Chiquita has been paying off thugs of various persuasions to let her grow her brown-flecked marvels.
And I'm here to say
Bananas like to ripen in special way.
You can put them in a salad
You can bake them in a pie-aye-aye
But no matter how you eat 'em
It's impossible to beat 'em.
When they are flecked with brown
And have a golden hue
Bananas are the best
And are the best for you.
Bananas like the climate
Of the very very tropical equator,
So never put bananas
In the refrigerator.
O no no no no!
Puritanical American law prohibits this kind of realism, so Chiquita is paying up.
WASHINGTON — Chiquita Brands International Inc. said Wednesday that it would pay a $25-million fine to settle a long-running Justice Department investigation of whether it knowingly paid "protection" money to Colombian paramilitary and rebel groups designated by the U.S. as terrorist.Singing:
Chiquita likes tranquility
To cultivate her tropical garden.
She paid baksheesh and plead guilty;
Does she now await a Presidential pardon?
Oh say it ain't so!
March 13, 2007
“I’ve lived downtown for 20 years, and there’s definitely a new wave of TriBeCans — younger, self-absorbed, mass-materialist consumers who are really not aware of anything outside their whatever,” Ms. Zwigard said.Her whatever is probably not far from my "Yeah, right."
March 6, 2007
A military correspondent for Russia's top business daily has died after falling out of a window, and some media alleged Monday that he might have been killed for his critical reporting.Defenestration is a classic Czech specialty of long standing.
Ivan Safronov, the military affairs writer for Kommersant, died Friday after falling from a fifth-story window in the stairwell of his apartment building in Moscow, officials said. His body was found by neighbors shortly after the fall.
With prosecutors investigating the death, Kommersant and some other media suggested foul play.
"The suicide theory has become dominant in the investigation, but all those who knew Ivan Safronov categorically reject it," Kommersant said in an article Monday.
Safronov's colleagues and relatives have described him as a strong, cheerful person who would be extremely unlikely to kill himself.
Does this betray a lack of imagination on the part of the Moscow authorities? Or is it a sign of Westernization?
March 5, 2007
THOSE "CHRISTIANISTS" ARE EVERYWHERE: "Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards says Jesus would be appalled at how the United States has ignored the plight of the suffering, and that he believes children should have private time to pray at school. . . . Edwards has often cited religion as a part of his politics, frequently linking his efforts to fight poverty as a matter of morality."
Can't we keep religion and politics separate?
March 4, 2007
Punctuating a fundamental change in American family life, married couples with children now occupy fewer than one in every four households -- a share that has been slashed in half since 1960 and is the lowest ever recorded by the census.Very bad news.
As marriage with children becomes an exception rather than the norm, social scientists say it is also becoming the self-selected province of the college-educated and the affluent. The working class and the poor, meanwhile, increasingly steer away from marriage, while living together and bearing children out of wedlock.
As my then four-year-old said when we were having marital problems, "But we need a daddy." Damn right.
Today, for the first time, more than half the visitors were from outside the United States. I'm not certain why. I don't think I've increased my posts on things non-American or of special interest to folks abroad.
Nor are the visitors from one place, especially. I've had visitors from Mongolia, Qatar, Mauritius and other places I've never seen but would like to visit. (One place I'd like to visit is Georgia-Gruzniya-Sakartvelo--not the U.S. Georgia, though it's nice enough--the one with Tbilisi as its capital).
It's certainly interesting to be communicating with people all over the world from my living room. There used to be "pen pals" via "snail mail." Now it's all with the click of a keypad.
The audience for this blog has also grown. It's not huge, but it's about double what it was a few months ago. I think it's the long tail of old posts. People search for things I've written about, of which there are many, and there are more visitors.
Thanks to all for your interest.
The Gray Lady reports on the strife in Baghdad, which has led to neighborhoods becoming predominantly Shi'a or Sunni, because if one enters or lives in the wrong neighborhood, he will end up very dead, probably in some gruesome way:
The story goes on to describe the violent process of separation in depressing detail:
But even in neighborhoods that are improving or are relatively calm, borders loom. Streets once crossed without a thought are now bullet-riddled and abandoned, the front lines of a block-by-block war among Shiite militias, Sunni insurgents, competing criminal gangs and Iraqi and American troops.
Some Americans who have seen both Bosnia and Iraq say Baghdad has come to resemble Sarajevo as it began to unravel in the 1990s, latticed with boundaries that are never openly indicated but are passed on in fearful whispers among neighbors who have suffered horrific losses.
Like jagged wounds, the boundaries mark histories of brutal violence. And for Iraqis, they underscore a vital question at the heart of the new plan: can scarred neighborhoods ever heal?
Um Shaima, 48, a garrulous Sunni widow who used to sell yogurt in the Sadriya market, lives just north of Sybaa Street in Fadhil. She said she used to visit the stores there for clothes. Her cousin Samir worked for years on the Sadriya side of Sybaa Street as a mechanic without any trouble.Meanwhile, the Whale describes what has been going on in a decade in a neighborhood called Harbor Gateway.
Then a few months ago, Ms. Shaima said, he received a threat. “They told him, ‘You are a Sunni, and all Sunnis are infidels and their women are prostitutes, so stop coming to Sadriya or you will be killed,’ ” she said.
“He didn’t listen,” she added.
The next day, he was kidnapped. Witnesses said Shiite militants yanked him off his motorcycle and threw him in the trunk of a sedan.
“They called his wife at 9 a.m. the next day,” Ms. Shaima said, “telling her that they will kill all the Sunnis, and your husband is dead.”
A Shiite nephew of Samir’s later recovered his uncle’s mutilated body from a trash pile east of Baghdad.
From 1994 to 2005 in Harbor Gateway, there were nearly five times as many homicides, assaults and other violent crimes by Latinos against blacks as by blacks against Latinos, according to Los Angeles Police Department statistics.Iraq has to live with the juxtaposition of Shi'a and Sunni, which is hundreds of years old. The Saddam solution was tyranny. The new solution, no doubt, will be separation, as has happened the world over as nationalism has developed.
Cheryl's shooting — allegedly by two 204th Street gang members as she and friends talked on a street in broad daylight — underscored a new reality: that since the mid-1990s, according to the L.A. County Human Relations Commission, Latino gangs have become the region's leading perpetrators of violent hate crimes.
"It took this girl's death to show what's going on," said Khalid Shah, director of Stop the Violence, an anti-gang nonprofit group that has worked in Harbor Gateway.
Two weeks after Cheryl's death, the gang allegedly struck again, stabbing 80 times a white man they believed to be a witness to her shooting death. Five gang members were charged last month in his slaying.
None of this makes sense to Cheryl's mother, Charlene Lovett.
"My daughter's dead and I don't know why," Lovett said at her kitchen table after Cheryl's killing. "That's the question I would like answered: Why?"
The answer goes well beyond a single slaying or a single neighborhood. Packed into the 13-block area where Cheryl Green lived and died is a story of many of the forces fueling gang and racial violence in Los Angeles and the region today.
It is a story of civic neglect and the rise of the low-wage economy, of immigration, changes in federal housing policy and the street influence of a prison gang.
The United States still has a chance to mitigate this problem, but to do so it must give up the illusion that people are infinitely malleable, and hiring a few diversocrats and preaching tolerance will make it possible for any group to live happily with any other group.
First, do no harm: Close the border.
Second, insist upon Americanization of immigrants.
Third, gang violence, especially racial and ethnic, must be rooted out. If this could be done with the Mafia, which was sophisticated and rich, it can be done with small-time teenage hoods. Only, however, if we do away with the illusion that all this is just a "cry for help" or simply the result of not enough social services.
We've had ethnic turfs in our cities before. There were Irish neighborhoods in Manhattan that were no-go zones for blacks. For years, white people were afraid to walk around in Harlem. Bad enough, but the lines were clear and stable. In Los Angeles these are efforts at expelling particular groups, and in fact blacks have been on the losing end of struggles for jobs and space.
A major threat to the stability of our society. During Vietnam, the far left used to prate about "bringing the war home."
The beginnings of war are here. If we do not stop it, we are doomed to live in interesting times.
March 3, 2007
Coulter was a featured speaker at the 34th annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Following her prepared remarks, televised on C-Span, Coulter was asked to talk about Edwards.Video here.
"It turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I'm kind of at an impasse -- I can't really talk about Edwards," she said.
And then there's Rudy in drag, mincing along to meet The Donald: here.
I guess he'd better sew it up before South Carolina. The video won't play well there or in Saudi Arabia.
Back to my bonsai.
"Our job is to rebuild the road to real peace and lasting security throughout the region," Obama said during a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Chicago. "Our job is to do more than lay out another road map."No audacity and no hope here.
"That effort begins with a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel: Our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy," he added. "That will always be my starting point."
In what may have been a veiled reference to reports of American opposition to Israeli negotiations with Syria, Obama said: "We should never seek to dictate what is best for the Israelis and their security interests. No Israeli prime minister should ever feel dragged to or blocked from the negotiating table by the United States."
The Illinois senator also called for continued American military assistance to Israel. "We must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs," he said.
Many, even among his own constituents, view Rep. Murtha as a doddering, corrupt, venal, increasingly senile old fool with less real patriotism than an Asian cockroach munching clotted kim-chee in the gutters of the Hong Kong food courts. But that is a base canard and nothing, but nothing, can be further from the truth. Seen correctly, Murtha is a great American who, if he sees further into the future than his fellow Democrats, is only because he stands on the shoulders of dwarfs.Really unfair. I like kimchi.
--Gerard van der Leun
March 2, 2007
In retrospect, it would have been a good idea to send Saddam Hussein for trial in the Hague even though this would have required either convening a special court or an extension of the ICC’s jurisdiction, because his crimes took place before the ICC was formed. This was a missed opportunity. But in the future, American officials, whether Republican or Democrat, should put aside their qualms and make use of the ICC wherever possible to promote the international rule of law, a longstanding American cause.There's a deracinated class of internationalists. They live in think tanks, universities, corporate HQs, Geneva, New York, and the Hague. They are connected only to one another. They like alphabet soup, "human rights," and long, turgid reports.
Aryeh Neier (in picture, wagging finger). Kofi. For all I know, Max Boot.
I renew my suggestion that all these institutions be moved out of New York, Geneva and the Hague to Ndjamena (Chad). We'll see how popular they are, then.
People I hang out with (on line) want to abolish the United States Supreme Court, thinking this country has gotten too big and too centralized. I'm not there yet, but I sympathize.
Meanwhile, what was the old Bircher slogan? Something like "the US out of the UN; the UN out of the US," I think.
Here is the solution. We should announce that we will talk to Tehran unconditionally, but not as a substitute for stopping Iran from getting the bomb. For its part, Iran can continue enrichment while we talk. For our part, we will continue to plan a military strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, and we will promise to carry it out soon—say, before the 2008 presidential primaries begin—absent some other solution. There is never harm in talking, as long as it doesn’t keep us from acting.Couch potato warmonger Josh doesn't really like the fact that impelled by the Iraqis, we are attending a conference at which Iran will also appear.
But it's ok if we bomb them.
Iran is not our friend, and back in Carter's day their holding our diplomats hostage was a legitimate casus belli, and maybe you can't talk to people who kidnap your diplomats. That was a quarter-century ago. Last time I checked, the Teheran-Caracas Axis was not about to send the Basij to wade ashore at Miami Beach.
We talked to Mao. We talked to Brezhnev. We talked to Gaddhafi. We ought to be talking to Raúl Castro.
Repeat after me: Diplomatic contact does not equal moral approval. Diplomatic contact does not . . .
Too bad about the Basij. As Cavafy might have put it, those people were some kind of solution.
March 1, 2007
Speaking to reporters in North Hollywood, Villaraigosa said he agreed with the principal of the Santee Education Complex, Vince Carbino, that the vandalism earlier this week appeared to be a "cry for help" by a troubled youth. Given that, he said, "I'm willing to mentor him personally."Singaporeans might say that he's crying out for a few strokes of the cane. That's excessive, to our way of thinking, but this "cry for help" thing is crap. He probably needs a father who cares enough about him to model decent behavior.
But, following up remarks he made the day before, Villaraigosa added: "When you break the law, there's got to be consequences."
On Tuesday, the mayor had said he thought the 15-year-old sophomore should do some form of community service — ideally scrubbing graffiti off buses. Because he is a juvenile, the student has not been identified publicly.
Carbino sounded less than bowled over by the mayor's offer. A former police officer who is a licensed counselor, the principal said in an interview that the South Los Angeles school already has a comprehensive team of people ready to help the boy, including three psychiatric social workers, one full-time and one part-time psychologist, two intensive intervention counselors and six regular school counselors.
"This child is in very good hands," Carbino said. "I think what he needs the most is to be surrounded by people who are going to be — let's say — nonjudgmental and to follow the caveat that we have good students who sometimes make bad decisions."
Not every stupid or wicked act, folks, is a cry for help. Sometimes a stupid or wicked act is a stupid or wicked act.
I don't begrudge any kid who does stupid things a bit of counseling but gimme a break--"three psychiatric social workers, one full-time and one part-time psychologist, two intensive intervention counselors and six regular school counselors"?
I wouldn't begrudge him a good, swift kick in the arse, either. After all, there's no such thing as a good boy.