Write up your shopping list for Wednesday, which is buy Israeli Day

Out in the wide world, every day is hate and boycott Israel.  Among the sane people, Wednesday, March 30 is buy Israeli Day, when we make an effort to purchase Israeli products.  If nothing else, get some Passover matzoh or some Ahava skin care products.  Trader Joe’s is also always a good stop for Israeli products.

More here.

Terrible news out of Jerusalem

The world’s useful idiots never get it.  Israel targets Palestinian soldiers, and is terribly troubled when she inadvertently kills the civilians amongst whom the fighters hide.  The Palestinians deliberately target civilians, and try to kill the largest number possible.  Today, they succeeded:

A bus explosion in Jerusalem has caused dozens of casualties, police said Wednesday.

Scores of ambulances converged on the area near the central bus station and a city conference hall in a Jewish neighborhood of downtown Jerusalem, Reuters reported, citing Israeli TV and radio.

People were lying on the ground and taken away on stretchers, according to The Associated Press.

The explosion appears to be the first bus bombing in several years and comes amid rising tension between Hamas militants and Israel.

Israel is fighting a principled war; if Sherman’s March through Georgia is any guide, the Palestinians are the ones who, ultimately, will be fighting a successful war.  Wars end, not when the military gives up, but when the civilians give up.  That’s why the Palestinians target that population.  As long as Israel goes after buildings and specific fighters, she stiffens resistance, I think, without achieving a military goal.

Having said that, I’m not sure I see an option for Israel.  She’s in an untenable situation, made worse by the fact that the world forgives the mass murderers and pillories the principled fighters.

 

It’s no fun being Cassandra….

Poor Cassandra was cursed by the Gods with the gift of making accurate prophecies that no one would believe.  The disasters she foresaw always came true, but she was helpless to stop people (and nations) from racing towards their doom.  The endings were always so terrible — and Cassandra was herself swept up in them — that she never even got the consolation of a good “I told you so.”

Ever since Obimbo appeared on the scene, we at Bookworm Room have been Cassandras.  We’ve vacillated between trying to decide whether Obama acts as he does through incompetence or malevolence, but we’ve always been clear in our own minds that his approach to the Presidency would be disastrous, both at home and abroad.  One of the things we (and by “we,” I mean my readers and I) predicted was that the Obamessiah, by creating a leadership vacuum in the space America used to fill, would release dangerous forces — just as the Soviet Union’s collapse unleashed long simmering, and quite deadly, regional rivalries in the Balkans.

The headlines now seem to bear out our worst predictions.  Just today, Danny Lemieux forwarded to me a Gateway Pundit post relaying the news that, because Saudi Arabia acted in Bahrain (yes, filling the American leadership vacuum), Iran is now rattling its sabers:

A senior Iranian legislator called on the foreign ministry to show firm reaction against deployment of Saudi military forces in Bahrain and take strong stances and measures in defense of the rights and independence of the Bahraini people.

“The foreign ministry should take a strong position against the dispatch of the Saudi forces to Bahrain” and defend the people’s move and rule over the country, Mostafa Kavakebian said in an open session of the parliament on Tuesday.

God forbid this comes to something, the regional line-up is going to be Israel and Saudi Arabia versus Iran.  What’s impossible for me to know — I simply don’t have the sechel (Yiddish:  smarts) about Middle Eastern allegiances and alliances — is where the other countries, aside from Syria and Lebanon, both already Iranian proxies, will fall when the whole thing blows.  They all hate Israel, but their degrees of loathing for Saudi Arabia and Iran are going to determine which colors they wear in this fight.

I could say “I told you so” but, Cassandra-like, I don’t have the heart to utter those words.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Liberals — lording it over lesser beings *UPDATED*

If there is one defining characteristic of liberals, it is their sense that they are better than everyone else.  Nowhere was that more explicitly illustrated than in Ron Schiller’s comments:

In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives.

Schiller wasn’t unique, just unguarded.  The whole point of liberalism, after all, is to put government — controlled, of course, by liberals — in charge of everyone else’s lives.

This world view requires that liberals occupy the highest rungs in the world hierarchy.  Part of this means winning elections, by fair means or foul.  Another part, though, means ensuring that the little people stay little.  I’ve written before about the racism that is inherent in liberal thinking.  For all the liberal talk about liberals being the only hope for people of color in the world, one begins to notice that what liberals really mean is that they’re the only hope provided that they stay in the driver’s seat.  And why must they stay in the driver’s seat in perpetuity.  Rhetoric aside, it turns out that their expectations about people with skin darker than their own are shockingly low.

Just today, in the wake of a horrifically brutal murder in Israel — a sleeping couple and three of their five children, 11, 4 and 3 months, were brutally stabbed to death by Palestinians — the New York Times explained why the killing happened:

The killers appeared to have randomly picked the house, one of a neat row of identical one-story homes at the edge of the settlement, on a rocky incline overlooking the nearby Palestinian village of Awarta — the proximity underlining the visceral nature of the contest in this area between Jewish settlers and Palestinians over the land.  (Emphasis mine.)

You see, the brown people cannot be expected to resist visceral temptation.  They are the perpetual two year olds of the world, who need to be surrounded by locked cabinets and blocked off electrical outlets.  If you leave those things in plain view, they’re irresistible.  It’s not the two year old’s fault he burns the house down or breaks the china, it’s the adult’s fault for failing to remove temptation.  So too, did the Fogel family deserve to die, because they should have known better than to place themselves in the path of two year olds with guns, knives, bombs, and a hate-filled, genocidal ideology.  This is a “blame the victim” approach taken to existential levels.

Daled Amos provides painfully graphic evidence of the way in which Palestinians simply cannot resist the completely understandable (to liberals, that is) temptation to kill the Israeli children placed so temptingly within their reach.  If liberals were the decent people they boast they are, they would stop explaining away Palestinian bestiality and start demanding that Palestinians begin to behave like civilized human beings, with no excuses allowed.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATED:  If you have a strong stomach (seriously strong), the surviving members of the Fogel family have authorized the release of pictures of the carnage those “visceral” killers left behind.  This is what it looks like when a family of five is knifed to death.  It turns out that even 3 month old babies “have … so much blood in them.”  The media may not be interested, but we, as civilized people, should be.

The Obama administration at the U.N.

I’m so upset about what happened at the UN today, I can’t speak (or write).  Hot Air explains what happened:  after casting a veto against the Security Council’s vote on Israeli settlements, the U.S.’s Ambassador, Susan Rice, launched into a vitriolic attack that would have come easily from the lips of the Syrian or Iranian representative.

Omri Ceren wonders what Rice was trying to accomplishment.  While Rice and Obama may be confused in a hate-filled way, J.E. Dyer explains that the Islamic totalitarians in the Middle East understand that Rice just fired the starting gun in the race to Jerusalem.

And lastly, Jennifer Rubin points out that, whether because they were blinded by the Obama shell game (diddle around with the vote and then give an ugly speech) or because they’ve got their heads buried in their derrieres, Jewish groups in America haven’t made a peep about Rice’s appalling speech.  (By the way, Rubin notes the silence; I editorialized about the heads going where the sun don’t shine.)

I’m just sick about this.  I warned every Jew I knew what they could expect from Obama, but did they listen?  No!  Next to blacks, they were the largest single group to cast the majority of their votes for him.  Idiots!  Idiots!

But of course, if the semi-oil rich Middle East goes rogue on Obama’s watch, we all suffer, not just the Jews.

Idiots!

Muslim (and Obama administration) antisemitism

If you want a good lesson in the depth, breadth and virulence of Muslim antisemitism, Andrew Bostom provides it.  Then think long and hard about the fact that the current administration is siding with these Muslims at the United Nations.  I’m still struggling to come to terms with the appalling nature of the administration’s decision, and can’t quite decide what to write.  Others, though, have written about it:

Omri Ceren

John Podhoretz

Abe Greenwald

Rick Richman

Rick Moran

Guy Benson

Maetenloch at Ace of Spades

Jennifer Rubin (twice)

Jay Nordlinger

Bryan Preston

Bottom line:  the Obama administration is engaging in a noxious blend of appeasement (and we know how well that works) and the wonderful opportunity to slam Israel for the “disgust” it feels towards that nation.

Obama suffers an empathy failure when it comes to Israel

Let’s think about Israel from the Israeli viewpoint for a minute, shall we?  It is, by any standards, an extremely small country.  Within its own borders, it is a sophisticated Western-style nation that leads the world in scientific innovation.  Its political system is a parliamentary style democratic republic.  Although its system isn’t perfect, no one questions the fact that it extends full civil rights to all citizens within its borders, regardless of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, or country of national origin.

Another fact about Israel?  A large part of the world wants to see it — and all its citizens — destroyed because the State of Israel is a Jewish state.  Europeans classify it as the most dangerous state in the world.  Israelis rightly suspect that the Europeans are wrong, and that there are, in fact, a few other states more dangerous than it is.  There is the Gazan state along its Western side, that has a charter that enshrines the desire to drive every citizen of Israel into the Mediterranean, presumably in a satisfying welter of blood.  There is also the West Bank, which has precisely the same goal.

To Israel’s north is Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah.  Hezbollah, coincidentally, shares the Gazan state’s goal:  total Jewish genocide.  To her east are Syria and Jordon which, quelle coincidence, have precisely the same mandate.  Stretch yourself a little further and you find Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Libya and Oman all of which, again purely by coincidence, have as official or unofficial government policies a vociferously and repeatedly stated desire to reduce Israel and her citizens to dust and ashes.  To make things a little more exciting for our small republican democracy, Iran is on the verge of having a nuclear bomb.

Oh, and did I mention that the other states are tyrannical dictatorships that have not only expelled all Jews from their borders, but that also maintain their control on power by stirring the masses into an antisemitic frenzy?  They’ve learned that the Jewish scapegoat is always a useful way to deflect attention from ones own failings.

The only nation near Israel — and it’s a big nation — that hasn’t been baying for her blood for the past 30 years is Egypt.  The Israelis knew that Hosni Mubarak was an often-cruel dictator, but in that regard he was completely indistinguishable from the Middle Eastern leaders heading the other nations I’ve mentioned.  They knew that Egyptians weren’t doing so well under Mubarak’s leadership, but in that regard too those pathetic citizens are completely indistinguishable from most of the other Middle Eastern citizens around them.  What makes Mubarak — and therefore Egypt — different, is that Mubarak steadfastly held to the Camp David peace accords.  He allowed his citizens to become infected with the worst type of antisemitism, but neither he nor his military went in for a repeat of 1948 or 1967.

Looking at things from Israel’s view, Mubarak was a good thing for them, and no worse for his citizens than any other tyrannical Middle Eastern leader Muslims in the Middle EAst would inevitably have suffered.   He was a win for Israel, and a wash for his own citizens.  For Israel, his leadership was no harm and no foul.

Now let’s think about President Obama and his administration for a few minutes.  Obama is very empathetic, right?  I know this, because he assured us that empathy is an extremely important quality:

“I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”

Or, as Clinton more pithily said, “I feel your pain.”

You’d think that, with his natural appreciation for empathy, President Obama would have felt for the Israelis when Egypt suddenly ran off the rails.  From their point of view, the existence of the Muslim Brotherhood within Egypt, yet another organization loudly and explicitly dedicated to Israel’s destruction, was an untenable risk.  Israel’s geographic isolation, and its neighbor’s homicidal antipathy, meant that Israel would invariably prefer the known Mubarak imp over the equally known, but infinitely more scary, Muslim Brotherhood devil any day.  And as I said, from the point of view of Egypt’s citizens, it’s six of one secular military dictatorships, versus half a dozen Islamic totalitarian dictatorships.  They’re screwed regardless.

But was Obama empathetic?  No.  Decidedly no.  Instead, he was — and I quote — “disgusted.”  Yes, the notion of a small, liberal, democratic republic looking at the possibility of yet another genocidal nation on its borders, rather than stirring the milk of human kindness in Obama’s veins, roused him to disgust (emphasis mine):

Rather than even listening to what the democracy youth in Tahrir Square were saying and then trying to digest what it meant, this Israeli government took two approaches during the last three weeks: Frantically calling the White House and telling the president he must not abandon Pharaoh – to the point where the White House was thoroughly disgusted with its Israeli interlocutors – and using the opportunity to score propaganda points: “Look at us! Look at us! We told you so! We are the only stable country in the region, because we are the only democracy.’’

The only pain, apparently, that Obama felt was ennui when forced to listen to people who are worried that, in the next few days, weeks or months, they will be subject to military attack from all sides.

Well, I have to confess that I too am empathetic.  You see, when I think of Obama and his administration, as well as their fellow travels at the New York Times, I know exactly what disgust feels like.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Sharm El Sheikh

In honor of Mubarak’s strategic retreat to Sharm El Sheikh, here is the anthem of the 1967 War, which saw Sharm El Sheikh end in Israel’s hands, a situation that lasted up until Egypt got it back in 1982, as part of the peace treaty:

When Hollywood Jews openly supported the Promised Land

Hat tip:  Sadie

The news (not!) out of Egypt

One of the things I’ve noticed regarding the “news” coming out of Egypt is that it’s incoherent.  Because the situation is so big and so fluid, and because the reporters streaming in are remarkably uninformed to begin with about the region, the news stories remind me strongly of the blind man and the elephant. If you’re not familiar with that tale, the following version is the delightful poem by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887):

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -“Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he,
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

MORAL.

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

This reporter speaks to a crowd the loathes America; that reporter speaks to a crowd that seeks democracy; this reporter gets trapped in the middle of a riot; that reporter sees peaceful protests; and so on, ad nauseaum. There is no coherent narrative emerging.

I have come to one conclusion in my own mind, though, for better or worse.  There is a substantial likelihood that any outcome will not be friendly to Israel.  If that’s the case, there’s a likelihood that a new government will abrogate the Camp David treaty, and declare war against Israel.  That’s a bad thing . . . except . . . except:

For the first time in a long time, there will be clarity.  Israel will face a nation, not a terrorist group interspersed amongst a complicit, but picturesquely pathetic citizenry; Israel will be the declaree, not the declarer, should there be war, which has a propaganda value that needs to be respected; and Israel has a better fighting force.

Past wars have shown that the Arabs and Muslims fight with ferocity and inhumanity when they think they’re winning, and run from the fight when they think they’re losing.  History has also shown that, in open battle, the Arab/Muslim bite hasn’t yet lived up to its bark.  And yes, I know that the Iraq/Iran war was an eight (?) year open sore, fought with unparalleled brutality and loss of life, but it’s worth remembering that it was fought by two similar militaries, in a conventional way.  Israel (God willing) has learned its lessons, has planned (God forbid) for such a moment, and will avoid embroiling itself in the 21st Century equivalent of trench warfare.

I’m not saying there’ll be war.  I’m saying (a) we have no real idea what’s going on and (b) outcomes in that region tend to disfavor Israel.  If it comes to war, all is not lost and maybe there’s something to be gained.

Two questions for you about Egypt

1.  Faced with a popular revolt of the type we’re seeing in Egypt, can an American president make a difference?

My sense is that, while we’re certainly not going to drop bombs, the American president (any president, not just Obama) is such a vast presence that both his silence and his speech matter.  His bully pulpit is so large that, by appearing to support one side or another, either through silence or affirmative statements, he can affect the momentum within the other country.  What’s your point of view?  This is separate from whether Obama is being inept.  After all, if anything he does is meaningless theater, his ineptitude, if it exists, is irrelevant.

2.  What do you think will happen in Egypt?

I think that, while the average Egyptian on the street is not an Islamist (meaning he’s not committed to the Muslim Brotherhood’s jihadist goals), he really doesn’t know what he wants beyond not wanting the current situation.  That vagueness creates a vacuum, and I think the MB is poised to fill that vacuum.  If it does, I predict that, in four months, (a) Egypt will have sharia law; (b) Egypt will abrogate the treaty with Israel and attack; and (c) there’s a 50% chance that the Islamists will let their hostility to the Wets override their economic self-interest and shut down the Suez Canal.  Of course, if Mubarek can hang on long enough for a peaceful transition, maybe something good will come of all this.

A small thing to do to counter an attack against Israel

Greg Gutfeld calls it “Students Against Hummus, Not Hamas,” which is a very funny description of something that’s not funny at all:  Anti-Israeli students at Princeton, offended that two Israeli companies are provided the hummus sold in school-run stores, are making a lot of noise about “expanding” the hummus selection.  The point, of course, is to defund Israeli companies.  The larger issue is “BDS,” which stands, not for Bush Derangement Syndrome, but for the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement that is trying to use economic forces to destroy Israel.

At Brain Droppings, Bill C has a suggestion for a small way that you can provide big support for the Israeli hummus companies.  Also, feel free, when you’re in a store selling Israeli-made goods, to buy those products.  I don’t recommend Israeli chocolate (call me a chocolate snob) but, really, you can’t go too far wrong buying other Israeli-made products.

Reality checking Tom Friedman on the Middle East

I really shouldn’t pick on Tom Friedman.  If he was the average idiot holding forth in a bar or living room, I probably wouldn’t.  But this average idiot has a forum — the New York Times — that gives him license to spread his stupidity to a much wider audience than is made available to the normal fool.

Friedman has distinguished himself again this past weekend with an article, written from his Olympian vantage point in New York, opining that everyone ought to leave the Israelis and Palestinians alone so that both sides can see the error of their ways.  It is the usual Leftist pap that pretends there is a moral equivalence between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  They are, in his mind both equally sinned against and sinning.

Friedman is, as I said, a fool.  While the Israelis are no saints, they are not sinners.  The same cannot be said for the Palestinians, at least at the leadership level.  They are malevolent people who are happy to sacrifice their own citizens, and to make free use of the credulous fools in the West, in order to achieve their real goal:  not peace and certainly not a two state solution, but (as their own charter freely admits) the complete destruction of the Jewish state and all her citizens.  Aren’t they likely to have idiots take up their cause?

By the way, if you doubt my freely stated assertions about Israeli good will and Palestinian intransigence, read this.

And a second “by the way” — the Israelis aren’t so bright either.  There’s an old saying:  “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”  The Israelis, blinded by their own Left, have clearly been fooled too many times to count.

Israel, American Jews, American Christians and a whole bunch of other stuff too

I struggled for a few minutes to find a clever title for this post that would convey the volume of information I’m about to download from my brain, but realized I couldn’t.  A laundry list description will just have to do.

You see, last night, I had the pleasure of attending a Hanukkah party that the NorCal chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition hosted.  What wasn’t surprising was that conservative Jews attended the party.  What was surprising was that they came from all over the Bay Area. Apparently the opportunity to get together with fellow conservative Jews is a beguiling one, even if one has to travel a hundred miles or so to do it.

What was even more surprising, and was also tremendously heartening, was the number of non-Jews who attended out of a feeling of solidarity with Israel.  It was a reminder in the flesh of the fact that America’s tiny percentage of Jews, standing alone, cannot account for America’s (not the administration’s, but America’s) long-standing support for Israel.  That strong support comes about because America’s Christian population respects and believes in that small, democratic Jewish state, a nation surrounded by hostile forces inimical, not only to Israel, but to America as well.

Another draw for the party was the speaker:  syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray.  I’ve enjoyed Joel’s writing for years, and hoped that he’d be as delightful a speaker as he is a writer (some writers, sadly, do not translate well to the spoken word).  Happily, he exceeded my expectations.  He’s a charming speaker, offering everything you’d hope for:  pleasant voice and cadence, good sense of humor, a well-informed mind, and an easy verbal lucidity.

Joel spoke about the situation in Israel today and he was surprisingly optimistic.  He says that Israel is enjoying an extremely prosperous time right now, with a growing economy and a significant lack of terrorist violence.  The targeted killings in the West Bank and Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, and the Hezbollah War all served, temporarily at least, to quiet the terrorists and give Israelis a respite. Further, the setbacks to Iran’s nuclear program, especially Stuxnet, have given the Israelis (not to mention the Arab nations around them) some breathing room.

Israelis fully understand, though, that this is merely a respite, rather than a lasting peace.  A nuclear Iran is an impossible-to-contemplate game-changer, not just in the Middle East, but throughout the world.  The Israelis are planning accordingly, both defensively and offensively.  In other words, they are being smart, rather than burying their heads in the sand.

Most of the questions in the room expressed concern about Iran and about President Obama’s manifest hostility to and disdain for Israel.  Joel believes (and I agree) that Obama will not go too far in undercutting Israel should the bombs start to fly.  He also believes (and I agree) that Americans will support Israel.  The other countries will huff and puff, in a very ugly way, but they too will be happy should Israel succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear pretensions.  As Joel pointed out, the situation in North Korea is a useful illustration of the impossible Hobson’s choice that arises when you have a rogue nation armed with nuclear weapons.

I asked Joel about American Jewish voting trends in the 2012 elections.  He said that, except for those implacably wed to liberalism, signs are good for a shift away from the Democratic party.  (To which I’ll add that we can only hope that American Jews finally start living up to their reputation for intelligence.)  It occurred to me that the recent attacks against Glenn Beck, charging him with antisemitism because he is going after George Soros, may be a preemptive attempt to keep the Jews on the Progressive reservation.

After Joel’s speech, I got the opportunity to talk to some old friends and some new ones.  One of my old friends asked me an excellent question:  What is it with the self-loathing Jews?  My response to him is that they are desperately trying to deflect attention from themselves.  “You say you hate Jews?  Well, so do I.  Heck, I hate them even more than you do.  So if you ever feel like attacking Jews, you can just ignore me.”

From that, we talked about how supportive American Christians are of Jews and Israel.  My friend opined, correctly I think, that part of the reason American Christians identify strongly with Jews is because American Christians are versed in both the Old and the New Testaments.  He pointed out that, in Europe, the Old Testament is virtually ignored.  Not only does that mean they hear only that part of the Bible hostile to Jews, it also deprives them of the ability to understand and appreciate the Jews’ rich history and their deep ties to the Holy Land.

Barbara Tuchman, incidentally, makes a similar point in her wonderful book, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour, about the philosemitism that characterized the Jewish upper classes in the years leading to the Balfour declaration.  Because they were steeped in the Old Testament, the Brits, while they wouldn’t dream of dining with a Jew, thought it was a fine thing to reestablish a Jewish nation in the ancient homeland.  Nowadays, between oil and Leftism, it’s hard to imagine a Britain that doesn’t waiver between vicious and virulent antisemitism, but that wasn’t always the case.

It was truly a revitalizing evening.  Not only was Mowbray’s cautious optimism comforting, it was a very real pleasure to be in a room full of Jews and non-Jews alike, all of whom share a deep commitment to liberty and individual freedom, whether exercised in America or abroad.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Online tutorial creates new country: Golan Heights

This past summer, I blogged about the fact that the Marin YMCA had created a brand new country called East Jerusalem.  That was foolish but, in terms of reach, relatively innocuous.  The Marin County Fair, while well attended, is not quite big enough to change the way people think.

But what about a company that freely offers myriad online tutorials that pop up at the top of any Go0gle or Bing search?  That might have an effect.

My son had to memorize the Middle Eastern countries for a geography class at school.  I searched for “interactive maps Middle East” and found myself here, at the Sheppard Software website, which promises to “make learning fun.”  It does, too.  My son was able, after a few minutes of play, to master the geography of Middle Eastern nations that had been bedeviling him for the last hour when he was just pouring over a piece of paper.

I cannot fault Sheppard for the quality of its work.  I was troubled, however, to learn about a couple of new countries in the Middle East.  If you look at the left sidebar on the linked page, you’ll see that it adds two countries:  the Palestinian Territories and the Golan Heights.  I can actually understand the impulse to create the Palestinian Territories, since those two places have independent governments, although neither is an officially recognized nation.

Sheppard’s creation of a nation-state called the Golan Heights, however, is utterly inexplicable.  Israel seized the Golan Heights in 1967.  The Heights are a lightly inhabited area, with the approximately 40,000 occupants on the Israeli side consisting primarily of Jews and Druze (who are not radically hostile to Israel).  What’s extremely important about the Heights is the fact that, as the name implies, they are a high ground overlooking northern Israel.  When Syria occupied those heights, it used them to turn northern Israeli towns into turkey shoots, with every resident, young and old, an easy target for even the most incompetent gunner. (John Kerry thought it would be a great idea to turn the Heights back over to Syria.)

The Heights are not currently a hot spot, although they are certainly yet another bone of contention between Israel and her genocidally inclined neighbors.  They do not house an angry, disaffected population; they are not a breeding ground for terrorists; and they are not even part of a demand from the Obama administration.  The people within the Heights are not pushing (or, at least, not pushing with the loudness and violence the Palestinians are) for sovereignty or for a re-alliance  with Syria.

None of these seems to matter to Sheppards, which has created a nation out of whole cloth, the nation of “Golan Heights.”  Even under the most optimistic anti-Israeli view, the best that the Golan Heights could be is Syria.  The only reason to include it in a map as the Sheppards people did is to score a political point against Israel.

British politician claims Israel is the root cause of world wide terrorism

Yes, you read that post caption correctly.  British Liberal Democrat Jenny Tonge, in a speech in the House of Lords, claims that terrorism around the world is Israel’s fault, because Israel treats the Palestinian’s badly:

On the issue of world conflict prevention, Tonge then said: “It is a disgrace to us all that problems such as Kashmir and Palestine are still alienating Muslims all over the world.

“The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is held up as an example of how the West treats Muslims,” she said, “and is at the root cause of terrorism worldwide.”

You have to check out the JPost article to get the full flavor of her delusional rant.

How does one talk to someone like this, someone who, moreover, has quite the bully pulpit to articulate her particular brand of insane poison?  It doesn’t seem to occur to her that, even if one assumes that her premise is true, and that Israel doesn’t treat Palestinians well, that’s scarcely an explanation for the Muslims’ worldwide terror spree.  If not being treated well explains worldwide terrorism, we should be on the receiving end of terrorism from Israelis, who are treated badly by the surrounding Muslims; from Kurds, who are brutalized by the Turks; from Christians, who are brutalized everywhere in the Muslim world; from expatriate Cubans, whose compadres are prisoners in their own country; from Tibetans, who are on the receiving end of totalitarian, often genocidal treatment from the Chinese; etc.

But that’s logic, and logic doesn’t work in crazy land.  This is a woman who has convinced herself that jihad has nothing to do with Islam itself, and everything to do with victim status.  Well, it’s time for the Jews to start claiming victim status, then.  Maybe that will turn around her lunacy.  Or maybe not, because what we’re really seeing here is hardcore antisemitism, of the type that knows no logic or rationality.

Context is king

I mentioned in passing how revolting I thought it was that Obama bashed Israel from a podium set up in a Muslim country.  Andrew McCarthy expands on just how bad the president’s choice of forum was.

A perfect judo defense of Israel

Judo, which I don’t do, is a beautiful martial art predicated on using your opponent’s own momentum against him.  Gabriel Latner, a 19 year old Canadian, has proven himself to be a master of intellectual judo.  You can read here the overall context within which he exercised his intellectual martial arts; and here you can see him in action.  I wish Mr. Latner a long and happy life.  He deserves it.

(By the way, you’ll notice that Latner takes a few slaps at America, but I forgive him.  Completely.)

Obama’s escalated attack against Israel

I’m not the only one who found Obama’s Muslim venue a disturbing place from which to launch an oral attack against Israel.  Jonathan Tobin notes the venue too, as well as the fact that Obama, after having gone quiet for a while when his previous mad Mideast adventures failed, has reopened his hostilities with Israel with an ugly vengeance:

But now that the election is over, Obama is back to his old tricks, seizing upon an announcement that can have no impact on any theoretical peace deal in order to pander to a Muslim world that seeks Israel’s destruction. By making a statement about Jerusalem while in Indonesia, Obama is signaling that the United States regards Jewish Jerusalem as being no different from the most remote settlement in the West Bank: an illegal outpost that must be destroyed and its inhabitants removed. Such a statement helps fuel the Arab irredentism that has been the primary obstacle to peace since Israel’s birth in 1948.

Obama’s pandering to the Muslim world is also a signal to Jewish Democrats that their party’s leader is once again throwing Israel under the bus in pursuit of popularity in the Third World. While the majority of Jews stayed loyal to the Democrats this fall even in the midst of a Republican wave, the president’s speedy post-election reversion to Israel-bashing should remind them that this administration is still bent on distancing itself from the Jewish state. Just as Obama’s statements about Israel during the 2008 presidential campaign proved to be mere rhetoric, now that the charm offensive is officially over, Jewish Democrats need to acknowledge that they were hoodwinked again.

Read the rest here.

A smogasbord of interesting stuff

Apropos my apparent fascism, one neocon, an former Communist, and also an Italian Jew, suggests that supporting Israel may be enough to earn that appellation from the Left.  (H/t Soccer Dad)

Speaking of Soccer Dad, at his blog we have another reminder that Ataturk‘s western nation is vanishing, to be replaced by a hardline Islamic nation.

As a companion piece to three depressing posts about Islam’s ascendancy vis a vis Christianity, Bruce Kesler introduces us to an organization that’s trying to challenge discrimination against Christians.

I’ve mentioned that I use my “real” Facebook as a means, very politely and disingenuously, to challenge my liberal friend’s strident, usually unthinking, worldviews.  (All some of them, I admit, are a lost cause, whom I keep as friends only for the amusement value.)  Turns out I’m not the only one.  Here are some techniques if you’d like to use facebook as a gentle means to return some of your lost liberal friends to the real world.

The Anchoress has a great memory.  Back in 2004, when liberals lost, they went out of their way to make loud apologies to other Americans for failing to win the good fight to save the political world from Bush.  This time around, they’re remarkably silent.

It’s not just that Obama is again loudly criticizing Israel (all the while managing to keep his mouth shut about Palestinian behavior).  It’s that he uses a Muslim nation as the forum for his criticism.  I can’t quite articulate it, but there’s something even lower than the usual low about doing that.

Union bosses are content to kill the goose that lays the golden egg (that would be the American economy, by the way).  Union rank and file is, apparently, less thrilled about that short-sighted approach to their lives and livelihoods.

I’m worried that we’re showing hubris by getting all excited about Pelosi’s decision to retain her leadership status.  (Here’s an example from Roger Simon, whose writing is always so delicious.)  Nancy is vile.  Nancy is dishonest.  Nancy is intellectually stupid.  Nancy is all that.  But she’s also got a feral knack for manipulating people (aided, no doubt, by her dishonesty), and I have no doubt that the core players (Soros, the Chicago people) are behind her move because they think it will benefit them.  I don’t know how it will benefit them, but I’m neither manipulative nor dishonest.  We should certainly feel free to laugh, but I’d still keep my hand on my weapons around that woman.

I’ve been trying to explain to my kids all the reasons I despite the UN.  (This is a subject that comes up annually, because I refuse to give “coins to UNICEF.”)  Here’s a good, albeit merely symbolic reason, for loathing that antisemitic tyranny that elevates every tin-pot dictator to meaningful power, all of it aimed against Israel.

Oh, and here’s a good article about what constitutes real “progress.”  (By the way, how many old school Democrats do you think appreciate the way they’re now classified as “Progressives,” which is an entirely different political animal.  For all its whining about its inability to communicate over right wing noise, the Left is miraculously adept at manipulating language.)  (H/t New Editor)

NPR’s carefully crafted tales — and why I don’t listen any more

When I left law school, a switch tripped in my brain.  Whereas before I’d listened only to top twenty music, I suddenly got bored with music and switched to news.  But not just any news.  NPR news.  Whenever I was in the car, I had my radio tuned to my local public radio station.  In those days, I spent a lot of time in the care, so I listened to a lot of the stories flowing from that station.  I considered myself extremely well-informed.  Oh, and smug.  Very smug.  As far as I was concerned, NPR made me an informed person.

One of the things that made NPR so appealing to me was the story arc.  Their news stories always came in beautifully presented, neat, tidy little packages. I’ve always loved tight narratives (i.e., stories with a beginning, a middle and an end, and, if I was lucky, a moral too), so NPR was perfectly suited to my temperament.

The guy or gal who functioned as a given show’s Master of Ceremonies would give a neat little promo in his or her warm, erudite voice:  “In the wake of last Tuesday’s midterm election, House Republicans, relying on the Contract with America, have vowed to shut down welfare, denying funds to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children.  For more on this story, we have Harvard-grad reporter Louis Liberal.”

Louis would then come on, and in that same warm, erudite tone, give a neat, three-sentence intro detailing how the House Republicans had a plan to deny necessary funding to hundreds of thousands of hungry children.  Louis would then say, “Harvard economist Pol Klugmen explains that, if Republicans are successful in ending welfare as we know it, studies show that there will be dead bodies lying in the street.”  We’d then hear Prof. Klugmen, in warm, erudite and scholarly tones, explain about all the dead bodies.  Louis would then introduce another expert, perhaps from a liberal think tank, explaining that the only way to reform welfare is to pump more money into it.  That expert, too, would give a short, sweet, scholarly statement on the subject.  Louis would then add, “Leading house Republicans deny this charge.”  Next would com a swift Newt soundbyte:  “That’s not true.”  Louis, in his erudite, patrician voice, would end this tight story-line by saying, “Only time will tell if the Republican plan can be implemented without causing catastrophic failures amongst the nation’s poor.”

Each story was such a neat little package.  There was no thinking required.  We were told the thesis; the good view was identified, with nice neat soundbytes; the bad view was identified, with meaningless soundbytes; and the wrap-up warned us of the horrors awaiting if the bad view prevailed.

I bought into these morality tales with wholehearted fervor.  The good guys, the Democrats, wanted to protect the poor; the bad guys, the Republicans, intended to leave them starving in the street.  And even worse, because the stupid American people had given those evil Republicans power, poor, long-suffering President Clinton, who’d been dogged by those nasty lies about his over-the-top sexual escapades, would be forced to put his imprimatur on a bill leaving the homeless more homeless than ever.

There was only one problem with this neatly enclosed little universe:  Israel.  You see, unlike stories about domestic politics, where my only understanding of the facts came from NPR itself, when it came to Israel, I actually knew one important thing:  Israel wanted to live peacefully on the small plot of land given her by both the League of Nations and the UN, and won by her in subsequent wars; and the Palestinians wanted every Jew in the world dead.  This meant that all the spin NPR put out about Israeli brutalities against innocent Palestinians, and the poor, suffering, peace-loving Palestinians, didn’t touch me.  I knew NPR was spinning or, worse, lying.

The problem is that, once you realize that a narrator is comfortable abandoning the truth, you start to wonder, “Where does that end?  I know NPR is lying when it tries to make a moral relativism argument re Israel or, worse, when it presents the Israeli military as an out-of-control killing machine, so I have to wonder if it’s lying about other things too.”

After 9/11, I got some further reality checks regarding the NPR world view.  I didn’t like the way NPR kept trying to exculpate Islam from the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.  That made no sense to me.  I also didn’t like NPR’s relentless negative war coverage.  I actually agreed with Bush:  when a nation supports mass murderers, you bring war to that nation.  I also had a hard time understanding how, despite the fact that Bush spent a year begging the UN for help, eventually ending up with a coalition, NPR could keep selling little story packages that presented Bush as an out-of-control, go-it-alone cowboy.  The spin was inconsistent with the facts on the ground.

Eventually, I started cross-checking NPR stories.  They’d say one thing, and I’d go on an internet search for more information.  That’s when I stumbled across conservative blogs.  What fascinated me was that, using the same facts NPR reported, or sometimes just alluded to, the conservative sites would reach conclusions  that were — surprise! — consistent with those facts.  There was no bending and stretching, there were no contortions.  Facts and conclusions flowed logically, from one to another.

The biggest surprise, though, was the way the conservative blogs opened themselves to the opposing point of view.  Where I expected an echo chamber, I got huge quotes from and links to NPR, CBS, NBC, and all other mainstream outlets, along with detailed analyses explaining the flaws in the reasoning or the factual errors and omissions.  Unlike the tight, one-world view of the NPR story packages, this was all out intellectual warfare.  Suddenly, that seemingly trite phrase “the marketplace of ideas” made big time sense.

From blogs, it was a short stop to radio, and that’s when I definitively abandoned NPR.  I realized that those neatly tied-up story lines weren’t a sign of sophistication and erudition, they were a sign of cowardice.  NPR was the intellectual (and news) equivalent of the three monkey, insofar as it religiously assured its audience that, when it came to the liberal viewpoint, there was no evil to be seen, heard or spoken.

The courage was with Rush Limbaugh, or Dennis Prager, or Hugh Hewitt, or Michael Medved, or a host of other hosts, all of whom welcomed opposing views on their program, whether in the form of actual guests, ordinary citizens calling in, or lengthy playbacks of liberal arguments and speeches.  The conservative blogs and radio shows were sufficiently secure in their viewpoints, and in their ability to support those viewpoints, that they’d take on all comers.

Suddenly, I was out of the bubble — and I’ve never looked back.  My liberal friend accuses me of still living in the bubble because I read so many conservative sites.  What he doesn’t understand, because he lives in the liberal media world, is that these conservative sites take the same news the liberal media sells, and then give added value, in the form of criticism, analysis or additional facts.  They pierce the bubble at every turn.

More than that, because conservative media openly admits its bias, I can separate facts from viewpoint with relative ease.  Such is not the case with NPR, which stridently asserts its perfect objectivity, allowing it to present its conclusions as objective facts.  As Benjamin Kerstein says:

Put simply, NPR is for coastal liberals what Rush Limbaugh is for heartland conservatives: a means of relating to the world from within the confines of a specific subculture. The difference, of course, is that Limbaugh’s admirers do not force others to pay for it.

Nor, I imagine, are Limbaugh’s listeners laboring under the same illusion as NPR’s. Most of them probably understand that Limbaugh is giving opinions based on his political point of view, which is, to say the least, well known to his listeners. NPR’s listeners, on the other hand, are quite convinced that they are receiving nothing less than the pure, unvarnished, objective truth from the network. They believe themselves to be smart and informed, and thus the network they love must also be, perhaps by definition, smart and informative.

As far as I have been able to discern from my own, admittedly subjective, encounters with the network, this is largely a convenient illusion. Put simply, NPR’s reputation seems based largely on aesthetic considerations. Its personalities are articulate and employ a more extensive vocabulary than commercial radio; its programs are professionally produced, with a slickness that conservative media cannot match; and its reporters are generally skilled at sounding calm and objective, even when they manifestly are not. The more one begins to delve into the substance of NPR’s programming, however, the more one senses that the network is neither particularly smart nor particularly informative.

As someone who listened to NPR for almost two decades, I can assure Kerstein that he is absolutely right.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Why Tom Friedman is an idiot

[Despite being about the pompous and boring Tom Friedman, this is not an appropriate post for the under-18 crowd.]

I don’t think that there’s any doubt BUT that Tom Friedman is an idiot.  His worship for Communist China — which in typical Friedman fashion routinely takes the form of acknowledging its failings, yet nevertheless lusting after the same power that creates those failings — is manifest evidence of his idiocy.  He’s coy, but he can’t disguise his unwholesome passion for totalitarianism.

It’s not just his totalitarian yearnings, though, that make Friedman stupid.  It’s also his blatant inability to align facts and conclusions.  Friedman made his reputation as a fact guy.  He’s written lots of ostensibly fact-based books.  Certainly, he impresses the self-styled intellectuals on the Left with his mastery of facts.  But the reality is that, in his columns, he frequently ignores painful facts, fakes real facts, and misuses actual facts, all of which adds up to stupid.  He is the living embodiment of 2+2=5 (except that he often functions in the realm of imaginary numbers).

If you’re wondering why I’m harshing on Friedman with such venom this morning, it’s because of a column he wrote yesterday about Israel and the Palestinians.  The whole column exists in a parallel reality universe.  Taking his usual irritating, condescending stance of wise father lecturing recalcitrant children, he essentially demands that Israel just get with the Obama program and make concessions that will inevitably lead to the lion and the lamb lying in peace together.  Evelyn Gordon neatly dissects the factual vacuum in which Friedman’s fatuous demand exists:

Thomas Friedman argues in today’s New York Times that Israel should extend its freeze on settlement construction because when a key ally like America “asks Israel to do something that in no way touches on its vital security … there is only one right answer: ‘Yes.’” Friedman is, of course, correct that countries should help allies anytime they can do so without great cost to themselves. Where he’s wrong is in saying that no vital Israeli security interest is at stake.

It’s true that Israel has no real security interest in a few more houses here or there. But it does have a vital security interest in ultimately securing defensible borders, which can’t be done without retaining some territory on the other side of the Green Line under any deal. And continuing the settlement freeze would undermine Israel’s negotiating position on this issue.

Not only does Friedman deeply misunderstand the actual facts on the ground, he ignores the ones that conflict with his overriding need to support Obama in pushing a course of action that is antithetical to reality.  Per Rick Richman:

Friedman writes that he has “no idea whether the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, has the will and the guts to make peace with Israel” but thinks Abbas should be tested with another moratorium. No idea?

He knows that Abbas’s term of office expired nearly two years ago and that Abbas is “President Abbas” only in the sense that George Mitchell is “Senator Mitchell.” He knows Abbas declined an offer of a state on 100 percent of the West Bank (after land swaps) with a shared Jerusalem. He knows Abbas has stated he will “never” recognize Israel as a Jewish state nor negotiate any land swap. He knows Abbas cannot make peace even with Hamas, which controls half the putative Palestinian state. He knows Abbas has repeatedly canceled elections and that the idea of the Palestinian Authority as a stable democratic entity is a joke. He knows Abbas has declared he will never waive the “right of return,” which makes a peace agreement impossible even if every other issue could be resolved. He knows Abbas has taken no steps to prepare his public for any of the compromises that would be necessary for a peace agreement. How many tests does Abbas have to fail before Thomas Friedman has an idea?

So I’ve now provided proof that Friedman is an idiot.  He doesn’t understand the facts he has, and ignores the facts he doesn’t like.  From that foundation, he makes grossly (and gross) ideological arguments, assuming the preening, snide posture of a seasoned sage, condemned to deal in perpetuity with ill-educated louts.  The question is why is Friedman like this?

Friedman wasn’t always such an idiot.  He was always a pedantic, formulaic writer, but twenty years ago he actually used to make facts and theory mesh well together.  The problem is the bubble.  Friedman is encased in an ideological bubble, with no countervailing forces, that renders him the functional equivalent of an unpruned hedge:  he’s wild and ugly now, instead of neat and compact.

The heart of the problem is Friedman’s gig at the New York Times.  Week after week, year after year, Friedman has to churn out articles that suit the Times’ mentality.  If he doesn’t do that, he loses his job.  This won’t affect him financially, of course, but it will humiliate him.  He likes being one of the Times’ most widely read columnists.  He likes the fawning and the adulation.  He wants to keep these emotional strokes going.  No surprise there.

The problem for Friedman is repetition.  There are only so many issues to be had, especially because, unlike a blogger, he’s subject to topical limitations.  Much as he might want to, he can’t break free and write about weddings or recipes.  (A blogger, by the way, can refresh him or herself with occasional forays into irregular topics.)

The only thing Friedman can do to stay fresh is to push the envelope.  Since he can’t keep repeating himself, he has to come up with ever new and exciting ways to keep his audience’s attention.  The result is that, while Times’ subscribers may think that they’re reading a staid, serious news organ, they’re actually getting the intellectual equivalent of a sleazy strip tease.

Think about it:  When the audience gets bored with the 37th iteration of the glove being pulled off finger by finger, the next thing to do is to tease the buttons on the bodice.  And when that gets tiring, bit by bit, item by item, the stripper finds herself inevitably pushed towards nudity.  Once she reaches nudity, there’s nothing left, especially if that nudity reveals, not that she looks like some airbrushed Hollywood star but, instead, that her bra was stuffed and that the cellulite is wearing heavy on her thighs.  At that point, all she can do is holler really loudly, in the hope that she deflects people’s attention from the fact that she’s not only stale and boring, but ugly too.

Friedman’s columns are exactly the same.  When pedantic reasoning got boring, he resorted, still pedantically, to opinion.  And when that got stale, he moved into the realms of fact free opinion.  After that got old, there was totalitarian fantasy disguised as pedantic fact-free opinion.  Column by column, Friedman is not only getting more extreme in his writing, he’s stripping himself bare intellectually, and revealing the padding and ugliness.

What makes it even worse in the world of Tom Friedman is the high wall that the Times has built around him.  Because the Times decided to remove comments, Friedman doesn’t have the reality checks that, in the stripper world, tell that gal to go on a diet and keep her clothes on; and that in the political world, should tell Friedman that he’s got his facts wrong, that he’s missing facts, or that his conclusions don’t make sense.  To keep my sexual analogies going, Friedman is getting all the feedback of a good masturbater.  He knows how to make himself happy, something that does not require him to venture beyond the lining of his own brain, but woe betide anyone who has to share the experience with him.  He’s accustomed to an audience of one, and he will brook no criticism or changes.

And that’s why Friedman is an idiot.  And selfish.  And mentally ugly too.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Stuff

Just two posts I really wanted to bring to your attention, written by two bloggers whose intelligence and good sense I admire:

First, Elizabeth Scalia (the Anchoress), with a lovely, polite savagery, gives NOW the pounding it deserves.

Second, Bruce Kesler reports on a speech that Barry Rubin gave (Rubin blogs here, by the way), and it should make you feel much better if you’re a friend of Israel.  (BTW, good news doesn’t mean that the friends of Israel can relax.  Rupert Murdoch compellingly spells out what Israel faces, not on the ground in the Middle East, but around the world.)

What makes George Soros tick?

Barry Rubin thinks he knows.  I would say “what a sad, pathetic little man,” except for the fact that his “sad, pathetic little man” is one of the richest people in the world, and is using his personal pathologies to destroy a nation and its people.

A righteous gentile — José María Aznar

José María Aznar.  It’s not a name that meant much to me in the past, since Spain’s internal politics weren’t of overriding interesting to me.  It’s a name that interests me a great deal now, because it is the name of a man of extraordinary integrity, of true righteousness.  It is he who started an international organization called Friends of Israel, and it is he who speaks with courage and clarity, not just about Israel’s right to exist, but about the necessity of Israel’s existence:

Let me be clear. We don’t want in any case to defend any particular Israeli government or any particular set of policies or any particular party. Israeli institutions are mature enough to defend their choices. We want to stand up for the right of Israel to exist. Judeo-Christian values form the roots of our civilization. Delegitimizing Israel undermines our identity, warps our values and put at risk what we are and who we are.

So, dear friends, it is not only the threat that if Israel goes down, which, make no mistake, many of its enemies would like to see happen, we all go down. It is that letting Israel be demonized will lead to the deligitimation of our own cherished values. If Israel were to disappear by the force of its enemies, I sincerely doubt the West could remain as we know it.

You should read the speech in its entirety and then, if you can, post a link to the website, or send out an email about it, or post it on facebook.  What Aznar says must be repeated, and then repeated again, until it drowns out the ugly cacophony of lies aimed at delegitimizing the state of Israel.

The chimera that is Obama’s much vaunted friendship with Israel

Ages ago, I can’t remember when, I was hunting around to find out if it was true that the Obama administration is refusing to sell arms to Israel.  The information on that was inconclusive, so I abandoned that whole topic.

What’s conclusive now is that, for boasting rights, the Obama administration is selling arms to Israel — but the real truth is that they’ve made the deal so difficult, and risky, that Israel agonized for months about taking the deal, and ended up getting only a quarter of what it actually needed.  Needless to say, when Israel says it needs arms, what with an almost-nuclearized Iran looking over its shoulder, it really needs those arms.

In other words, Obama got a photo op and Israel, again, got screwed.

Since this is Obama-land, of course, it’s worth remembering that Israel is not the only one getting shafted.  Others are, as well, with equally dire consequences.

Obama is not a starry eyed “liberal,” in the useful idiot mode, which was the benefit of the doubt I was willing to give him two years ago.  Instead, he is repeatedly proving that he is a genuinely evil man, both in his acts, and in his failures to act.  Whenever there is a choice between siding with liberty and justice, versus siding with totalitarianism and brutality, he will chose the latter every single time.  He may not personally sully his own hands, but he relentlessly enables others to sully theirs.

Random wonderful stuff

Just random stuff that’s so good you shouldn’t miss it:

Shirley Sherrod’s been on a roller coaster.  Thanks to a video snippet that Andrew Breitbart posted, she got pilloried as the face of Leftist/NAACP racial intolerance.  When it turned out the snippet was out of context, she got sanctified as the face of true racial harmony.  Now, though, that we know who this formerly anonymous government worker is, we’ve learned that she is indeed just another Leftist race-baiter, that she’s been complicit in government fraud, and that she has a long history of much badness.  Turns out that Breitbart managed to target precisely the right person to show what the Left is like.

May I recommend to you — no, may I urge upon you — Wolf Howling’s fabulous post regarding the judicial activism on display in Perry v. Schwarzenegger?  As a conservative, whether one agrees with gay marriage or not, the true issue is whether judges should be allowed to impose their values, wrapped in an ostensible cloak of legal reasoning, on citizens. Or, as Wolf Howling more eloquently says, “gay marriage is not an issue of Constitutional law for the Courts, but rather one of social policy for the people of the fifty states and their state legislatures to decide.”  A nice companion piece is James Taranto on the same subject.

And a simple economics video for you (h/t Danny Lemieux):

Another one to add to your reading list is Michael Totten’s article about the way in which the media, which never steps outside of its small Leftist bubble in Israel, grossly misrepresents that country.

I’ve never liked David Letterman, whom I’ve always found self-centered and mean-spirited.  His periodic forays into actual wit could never compensate in my mind for the essential ugliness of his character.  According to Ed Driscoll, he’s only gotten worse, attacking conservatives with “sclerotic” glee.  (Isn’t “sclerotic” a great word?  I fell in love with Ed’s post practically on the basis of that word alone.)

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions = the death of Israel

If you ever hear about the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” movement (BDS), do not fall for the advertised claims that it is about peace.  It is intended to destroy Israel and is actively hostile to any peace between the two peoples:

Please watch this video and, if you are a friend of Israel, send it along so that others can see it too.

Read this too, so that you have further evidence, as if you need it, of what Israel faces, not just at the macro level, but at the micro level too.

Right now, helping Israel in large part involves educating ourselves about the lies regarding Israel, present and past.  That way, when we hear those lies repeated, we can politely and firmly enlightened people who may indeed have good will but who have been systematically brainwashed by propaganda, lies and false witness.

Gazan suffering

The popular meme amongst the unholy cabal that is Islam and the Left is that Israel is a murderous genocidal regime that is currently using the blockade to impose unimaginable suffering on the Gazans.  Fortunately, modern communications allow us to see the full extent of that “suffering” (h/t Sadie):

By the way, Gaza is governed by Hamas, and I thought I’d share with you some gems from the Hamas charter:

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. ”

“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

“After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.”

“Moreover, if the links have been distant from each other and if obstacles, placed by those who are the lackeys of Zionism in the way of the fighters obstructed the continuation of the struggle, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: ‘The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.’ (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).”

Random fascinating stuff out there, plus a few opinions of my own about the California Academy of Sciences *UPDATED*

Although it’s been open for more than a year now, I went for the first time today to the newly rebuilt California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.  My visit there was an interesting contrast to my first visit, some years ago, to the newly rebuilt De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Although I can’t find it now (I think it was on my old Word Press blog), my review of the De Young Museum was that, on the outside, it looks like a series of stacked chicken coops but that, on the inside, it is an exceptionally lovely museum, with beautiful flow and lighting.  And since I go to see the art and not the exterior, it’s basically a very satisfying experience to visit the place.  It makes the art accessible, which is all one can ask for.

I have the exact opposite view of the newly rebuilt Academy of Sciences.  On the outside, the designers managed to create a facade that is both classical and streamlined in a very modern way.  It nestles contently on the eastern side of the Park’s main concourse, and is a chic, appealing visual treat.  Inside, however, it is utterly chaotic.  Various exhibits all seem to struggle to occupy the same space.  There is no flow whatsoever, which is disastrous for a building that is meant to cater, not only to crowds, but to crowds composed, in significant part, of highly kinetic little children.

The underground aquarium, for example, is a maze of short tunnels, each of which has exhibits placed randomly in the center of the walkway, as well as along the sides.  Tossed about by the milling crowds, it is impossible to discern where one is or what one is seeing.  Although I grasped, intermittently, that there was some overarching geographic organization (e.g, fresh water, salt water, tide pools, etc.), everything was so noisy and chaotic, I couldn’t make sense of the exhibits.  The old Academy may have had a pokey rectangular layout, but it sure was easy to move through, to see things, and to understand.

Nor has the Academy improved the food problem that always vexed it.  For as long as I can remember, the old Academy offered vile food at a shabby underground food court dominated by a stuffed grizzly.  The new Academy now has three food venues:  a fancy hot dog stand, a buffet style restaurant, and a very pricey restaurant.  Oh, did I say that only the last named was very pricey?  Forgive me.  They all are.  If you want anything more than a $3.00 pork bun, feeding a family of three in the Academy will run you close to $50.  The prices are justified by the fact that everything is organic this and organic that, but the fact is that the all-organic ham and cheese sandwich tastes remarkably like an ordinary ham and cheese sandwich, only $4.00 more than I usually pay.  Of course, the food prices are consistent with the admission prices.  It cost me almost $50.00 to take my two kids there, which is a pretty hefty price tag for an experience that left me with an eyeball popping headache.

The new Academy also disappointed me for a very personal reason:  they’ve done away entirely with the old gem and mineral collection.  Although not of the scale or caliber of the amazing gem and mineral collection at the New York Museum of Natural History, this was a lovely, little gathering of precious, semi-precious and simply interesting stones.  For me, it was always one of the highlights of a visit to the Academy, and I sorely missed it today.

Speaking of all-powerful centralized government, if you haven’t thought long and hard about the implications of Obama’s appointing a “Food Czar,” you should.

What I also disliked about the Academy (and what I also dislike about the newly, and nicely, refurbished San Francisco Zoo), is the hectoring tone all these places take.  In the old days, the message was, “Aren’t these natural wonders great?”  Nowadays, the relentless message is “These natural wonders are great, but you’re destroying them by your very existence.”  I don’t take kindly to spending massive amounts of money only to be insulted.

The only part of the Academy that I thought was wonderful, although it too had design problems, was the rain forest dome, which was almost, standing alone, worth the price of admission.   It’s a clear plastic dome that has a spiral walkway that takes one up through three levels teaming with trees, plants, birds, butterflies, moths, frogs and lizards.  It’s truly beautiful and really well done.  The only down side is that the only way to get out is to stand in line at the very top, waiting for an elevator.  The lines are long and chaotic.  Additionally, since the elevator is at the very top of a rain forest dome, it’s incredibly hot, steamy and, as with the rest of this echo-y, clamorous place, incredibly noisy.

I will say that what made the trip there a much greater pleasure than it would otherwise have been was the fact that I met up with my brother-in-law and niece there.  My two were delighted in the company of their cousin, and I always feel lucky when I get to spend time with my brother-in-law, no matter where that time is spent.  What a nice man he is.

Whining is finished now.  This is where I put in all the links for the things I read today, many of which readers brought to my notice (thank you!), but that I really didn’t get a chance to think about.

I think I am the last conservative blogger in America to link to it, but link to it I will.  You must read Angelo Codevilla’s America’s Ruling Class — and the Perils of Revolution, which pretty accurately spells out the state of American politics.  You won’t be less worried or frustrated when you’re done reading it, but you will be enlightened.

Did I mention whining a couple of paragraphs above?  That’s actually something important to think about.  Although I do it all the time, I’m aware that whining is not an attractive quality.  A couple of PR and public policy experts have figured out that Israel has been whining lately.  The whines are completely righteous and justified, but they fall into a vacuum of ignorance.  Listeners are not sympathetic.  It turns out that the effective way for Israel to deal with her plight is to do exactly what the Palestinians and their fellow travelers have been doing for so long:  she needs to demonize the opposition.  And what’s so great about this tactic is that, rather than making things up, as her enemies do, all that Israel has to do is broadcast the opposition’s actual words and deeds.  When people see what Israel is up against, as opposed to just hearing how Israel suffers, they become remarkably more sympathetic to Israel’s situation and dire security needs.

By the way, those same Palestinians who have managed to convince just about everyone in the world that the Israelis are worse than Hitler, have managed to hide from the world’s view the fact that, with Israel as their enemy, they are living high on the hog, enjoying standards far in excess of those Arab Muslims in lands that don’t have the good fortune to have Israel as their next door neighbor and enemy.

I loooove Andrew Breitbart.  Seriously.  I’m just crazy about the guy.  I think he is one of the most brilliant political thinkers in America right now.  He’s figured out what the PR folks are talking about:  show the opposition’s ugly side, using real footage of them being really ugly.  And to that end, immediately after the NAACP made waves complaining about unprovable and almost certainly non-existent Tea Party racism, he came out with actual footage of vile racism courtesy of — the NAACP.  Genius.  Sheer genius.  Here’s just one example of the ugly, discriminatory race obsession that characterizes the NAACP and its fellow travelers:

UPDATEAndrew Breitbart jumped the gun.  The snippet he got was taken out of context and, when put back into context, shows Sherrod explaining that, having once been a racist, she’s learned the error of her ways.  It also appears that the NAACP audience, which should have been the real focus of this video, as the video was a counter-attack to the NAACP’s decision to lambaste the Tea Party on racism grounds, murmurs approvingly when Sherrod reveals her new, enlightened views of race.

If you need it, here’s a little more on the Democrats’ entire ugly obsession with race, one that turns on its head Martin Luther King’s vision of an America in which people are judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  Oh, and here’s one more thing about that race obsession, and how Obama’s administration uses it to consolidate power, while sowing civil dissent.

When I wrote my post about burqas as a weapon, not just a type of clothing, I dragged in discussions of mosques and minarets too.  I entirely forget to mention in that article the mosque that is plotted for Ground Zero.  Pat Condell did not forget:

Even the New York Times periodically recognizes that federalizing school funding with no regard whatsoever for the situation at the ground is unfair, disruptive and damaging.  What staggers me is that these same NYT types are incapable of recognizing an overarching principle, which is that reactive government closer to home is always more understanding than directive central government far away.

Whether you’re in the military or not, don’t believe this administration when it claims to love the military and cries crocodile tears over its sufferings.

It took me almost half a lifetime to figure out that the NRA has always been right:  “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”  I needed to see crime rates soaring in London, in Chicago, and in Washington, D.C., as well as the chaos in post-Katrina New Orleans neighborhoods that did not have gun owners to finally understand this simple principle.  More and more, statistics are revealing the obvious:  a law-abiding, armed citizenry is safer than a law-abiding unarmed citizenry.  Contrary to liberal fears that arms will automatically turn us into Liberia or some equally horrific anarchic society, it’s clear that what effects such a change is leaving arms only to the criminals.

Fighting the Iranian monster, not fearing the Iranian monster

When Ronald Reagan took on the Soviet Union, which he did through the simple tactic of announcing that he was taking on the Soviet Union, conventional wisdom, on both sides of the aisle was horrified.  How could he? After almost 40 years of Cold War, we’d reached a tenuous balance predicated on mutually assured destruction.  If nobody moved, nobody would fall off the tightrope, right?

This cynical détente wasn’t painless.  Even as we, in America, were reacting with frozen fear to the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union kept a cruel, iron grip on its Eastern European satellites, and fomented bloody mischief all over the world.

What the American political class couldn’t understand, but what history has proven to be true, is that, by the 1980s, the whole Soviet empire was a giant Potemkin village.  Certainly the Soviets had guns and bombs, and they used the most extreme intimidation tactics to control their people, but their power was hollow, and was based more on stage-craft than reality.

Soviet policies were economically destructive and, even in the Communist world, someone needs to pay the bills.  Once Reagan finally started pushing, not only was there no “there there” to push back, but the dissidents who had struggled for so many decades under Soviet rule suddenly got a second wind and were able to upend the Soviets from within.

That was the lesson of my lifetime.  The lesson of my parents lifetime was that, if someone had stood up to Hitler in 1938, instead of simply being paralyzed by the fear of what Hitler might do, WWII could almost certainly have been prevented.

Human nature is such that, as long as the status quo isn’t too awful, it’s a nice place to be.  Until the situation becomes entirely untenable, we will always cling to the devil we know, rather than face the devil we don’t.  Twice in our history — in the 1930s and during the Cold War — we in the West thought we had the devil under control.  The 1940s showed we were fools to believe that; the 1980s, under Reagan, showed that it was better to fight the monster than simply to fear the monster.

What we in fairly free countries always forget is that, when a country rules its citizens through fear and intimidation, it has, at best a very fragile hold on them.  As long as the dictator’s gun is pointing directly at the citizens’ backs, they will fight for their own government, no matter how cruel it is.  However, if these same downtrodden, abused, fearful citizens have even the suspicion that a bigger gun is actually pointed at their dictator, that will give them the courage to refuse to fight.  And without enslaved manpower at its behest, a dictatorship is nothing.

I’m waffling on here because of the situation with Iran.  Right now, Iran does not yet have a nuclear bomb.  It has only the potential of being nuclearized.  It’s a monster, but it’s not as terrible a monster as it’s capable of being.

And make no mistake, if it does get the bomb, Iran will not be like the Soviet Union, held in check by the knowledge of its own weaknesses, and by the self-serving pragmatism of its leadership class.  Instead, like the Nazis, Iran is an apocalyptic regime that’s wedded to its destiny of controlling or destroying the world.  There is no such thing in Iran as mutually assured destruction.  If you’re a fanatic Shia, win or lose, you’ve still won.  Either you have world domination, or you’ve brought about the apocalypse that is the predicate to the coming of that missing 12th Imam.   It’s a win/win.

The only way to deal with Iran is to weaken the government irrevocably before it gets a nuclear weapon.  Unfortunately, as in the 1930s and during the Cold War, the political class is paralyzed by the potential downsides of doing so.  The U.S. under an Iranian-sympathetic Obama is so paralyzed it does nothing at all.  Israel, too, is afraid.  It knows that America is no longer an ally, so anything it does is unilateral and, many believe, existentially dangerous to Israel and America.  The fears of Israel’s acting are all well-spelled out amongst the political classes at home and abroad:

Such an attack would, they say, do great damage to the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Tehran would counterattack, punishing “the Great Satan” (America) for the sins of “the Little Satan” (Israel). An Israeli strike could lead to the closing of the world’s oil passageway, the Strait of Hormuz; prompt Muslims throughout the world to rise up in outrage; and spark a Middle Eastern war that might drag in the United States. Barack Obama’s “New Beginning” with Muslims, such as it is, would be over the moment Israeli bunker-busting bombs hit.

An Israeli “preventive” attack, we are further told, couldn’t possibly stop the Islamic Republic from developing a nuke, and would actually make it more likely that the virulently anti-Zionist supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, would strike Israel with a nuclear weapon. It would also provoke Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps to deploy its terrorist assets against Israel and the United States. Hezbollah, the Islamic Revolution’s one true Arab child, would unleash all the missiles it has imported from Tehran and Damascus since 2006, the last time the Party of God and the Jewish state collided.

An Israeli preemptive strike unauthorized by Washington (and President Barack Obama is unlikely to authorize one) could also severely damage Israel’s standing with the American public, as well as America’s relations with Europe, since the “diplomacy first, diplomacy only” Europeans would go ballistic, demanding a more severe punishment of Israel than Washington could countenance. The Jewish state’s relations with the European Union—Israel’s major trading partner—could collapse. And, last but not least, an Israeli strike could fatally compromise the pro-democracy Green Movement in Iran, which is the only hope the West has for an end to the nuclear menace by means of regime change. This concern was expressed halfheartedly before the tumultuous Iranian elections of June 12, 2009, but it is now voiced with urgency by those who truly care about the Green Movement spawned by those elections and don’t want any American or Israeli action to harm it.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, who wrote the above words, also believes these fears are just as exaggerated as were the various worries that stopped the West from de-fanging Hitler before it was too late, or that prevented America from acting against the Soviet Union until millions of people had already died. None of the scenarios resulting from action are as extreme as the political class fears. Iran, like the Soviet Union, is a fundamentally weak country, one that controls a discontented citizenry through the worst kind of violent oppression. If Israel were to launch a targeted attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, it’s more likely that the government will fall than that the apocalypse will come about.

My point of view is a bit more simplistic even than that. I believe that, if the world does nothing and Iran gets nuclear weapons, the apocalypse is a certainty. Iran will drop a nuclear bomb on Israel, and may spare some weaponry for other countries it hates, including Saudi Arabia. It will also exercise total control over a completely cowed Europe, which will be within the orbit of a nuclear Iran.

In other words, if the West continues on its current path of doing nothing, nuclear destruction is a certainty. However, if the West — and given Obama’s foreign policy, “the West” right now actually means Israel — does something, there’s a substantial likelihood (and Gerecht spells out the details of this likelihood), that Iran’s government will be destroyed. And yes, there’s still the possibility of Iran “going nuclear,” not by dropping a bomb, but by engaging in an all front war against Israel and America. That’s not necessarily a war Iran can win, however, and it’s still a better scenario than Iran with a nuclear bomb.

History has shown over and over and over again that the only thing that happens when you pretend you can get along with a monster is that the monster gets more monstrous.  At some point, one has to fight that monster, and it’s always easiest to see so early on in the game.

We have not forgotten Gilad Shalit

StandWithUs is circulating a petition directed to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, aimed at putting pressure on Hamas to free Gilad Shalit. Given that those organizations are all rabidly antisemitic and anti-Israel within their own four walls, I think it’s an excellent idea to apply as much external pressure as possible.

Please take a minute to sign the petition.

Game theory and Israeli negotiations

Fantastic article about the blackmailer’s paradox and Israel’s chronic negotiation failures in dealing with the surrounding Muslim/Arab nations.  This feeds into the “for a nation filled with smart people, Israel sure acts dumb” paradox.

Of course, when everyone hates you, so much so that they’re willing to warp the laws of their own land, perhaps some internalized confusion and self-loathing is natural.