Saturday, November 30, 2002

The left fails Europe, too
In the New York Times, David Unger begins to understand the problems of immigration in Europe.
In the Netherlands, the Fortuyn phenomenon has brought attention to more serious arguments about problems of multiculturalism and immigrant adjustment. Even before Mr. Fortuyn became a national figure, Paul Scheffer, a journalist and academic, called for efforts to break down barriers between communities and bring immigrants more fully into the mainstream of national life. I listened to Mr. Scheffer explain his view that the polite, politically correct silences of Dutch multiculturalism risk creating a new apartheid, condemning second- and third-generation immigrants to second-class schools and inferior employment opportunities. Unlike Mr. Fortuyn, who dreamed of severing contact with Muslim immigrants, Mr. Scheffer seeks more honest dialogue.

For years, European intellectuals avoided discussing the problems of immigrant communities, for fear of stirring public anxieties. Now they talk about them, but well-meaning liberals are reluctant to do so openly. Their silence has helped open the door to the fear-mongers from whom the issue must now be reclaimed.
Leave aside the comments about Fortuyn. The slap at multi-culturalism is by itself a remarkable advance. I have little direct experience of the clashes between immigrants and poor natives, of the sort that England and France face. Ireland was so poor until recently that immigrants were a rarity. I note this: in my largely middle class town, there are quite a few immigrants from Asia and Africa. They have been largely welcomed, but there is also a clear understanding that they are expected to become western in their attitudes about the world.
Please be nice
In the New York Times, Jim Jeffords pleads for someone, anyone, to please talk to him.
Since the election, my decision to leave the Republican Party last year has been subject to new scrutiny. The attention on my personal decision, while understandable, is misplaced. If the Republicans read the recent election results as a rejection of moderation and a mandate to steamroll opposition from within the party, they will be making a grave mistake.
Man bites dog
Mutuma Mathiu, a columnist for the Daily Nation in Nairobi, dumps on bin Laden and talks about the problems Kenya has fighting him. No complaining about the bombing being the fault of the west. Just an intelligent discussion of the serious problems the attack poses for Kenya.
It is expected that the coast attacks will severely affect tourism into whose recovery a lot of work has gone in the last five years. It will also undermine Kenya's attractiveness to investors and hurt the delivery of services and public investment because scarce resources will be diverted to counter terrorism.
And where is this published? In the Guardian. Go figure.

Friday, November 29, 2002

Praise for Norm Mineta
This evening, I caught "The Last Word", an evening talk show on the independent Irish radio station, Today FM. Robert Fisk was being interviewed. He complained that he had been singled out for a "random" search every single trip in the US for the last 21 flights. It is possible, of course, that Fisk is not telling the truth, but I really, really, hope he is. Wouldn't it be nice to know that Fisk has had to suffer a little for his hate-America and hate-Israel diatribes.
Talk about poetic justice.
A wee bit of good news
The Irish Independent (you think you can get there without registering; think again) has reported that at a meeting of EU justice ministers in Brussels (you in the corner, stop snoring), justice ministers are trying to work out a formal agreement on sharing information sharing agreement with the US, and some of the ministers are supposedly worried about the effects on the civil liberties of their citizens. Not likely. The Irish attorney general, Michael McDowell, however, said:
Irish and British security services would always have informal arrangements with the US and other friendly services that did not require a formal agreement.
It's nothing new as far as we're concerned, it's been like that for 30 to 50 years.
If you spend your time aruond academics here, the part "US and other friendly services" is a pleasant break.
Linking and delinking
I don't worry about links, except that I enjoy being read. Everything I could think of to say of general interest has already been said by Eugene Volokh, so I will comment only on why I put up or take down the particular links I do. I put up links because a site interests me, generally because it tosses out interesting ideas. Brad DeLong annoys me hugely for playing DNC hack, but he is an enormously talented economic historian who says really interesting things, so I link him because I read him. The only site I have delinked is Amateur Economist, because he shut down. I like CalPundit, and read it regularly. So why, you ask, is it not linked? Is this a grand scheme to censor a liberal? I wish I had that kind of power. (Yeah, yeah, go all virtuous on me. Like you don't feel the same way. I'm like most people. I'm not into world domination mostly because it is way too much work.) The real reason: I haven't got to it yet. I never link a site until I have read it for a while, not out of a deep sense of obligation to be careful, but because I am too disorganized to get my act together quickly. My wife stuck an old Shoe strip on my computer, where the professor says
Don''t call me a slob. "Slob" is derogatory. It's an insult to the thousands of us who share the same problem ... We prefer the term "organizationally challenged."
It isn't the Israelis after all
Over at the Guardian, Fuad Nahdi does not blame the Israelis (yeah, right). He finds the real culprits: globalization and especially the US Army:
Despite the massive growth of the tourism industry, only a limited number of local people have a stake in it. It is not only seen as a way of exploiting the local people - all tourist-related industries are either owned by foreign multinationals or non- Muslims - but also a way of corrupting society.

Perhaps western tourists by themselves could be tolerated, up to a point. But US soldiers visiting town, most seeking "entertainment", have become particularly unacceptable. They are associated with gambling, prostitution and excessive alcohol. Especially detested is the Americans' attitude towards the local population.
Well, I am certainly glad we got that cleared up. You would think, though, that someone who admits to having been a great admirer of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic revolution would at least wonder whether his judgement was worth anything. I puzzle over this line as well.
Many people told me that the existence of several Israeli hotels in Mombasa was a provocation, with their high security fences and policy of not employing local people.
Why then were most of the people who were murdered locals? And people say blogs have accuracy problems.
Robert Fisk crawls out from under his rock
Robert Fisk is back. Yeech. He manages to combine his vaunted capacity for mind reading with an excuse to attack Israel.
It was inevitable. It was the nightmare of Israeli officials that there would be an al-Qa'ida attack on the Jewish state.

The one thing they did not think about, even after Bali, is that al-Qa'ida would strike Israel abroad. Of course, there were political advantages for the Israelis which they used: the Palestinians could be blamed, even if they had nothing to do with the suicide-bombing of the Paradise Hotel.
So, Arafat's crowd are only concerned about their homeland. They would not dream of having anything to do with bin Laden and attack people in Kenya simply for being Israeli. So why is Arafat quiet about this? I assume he is. Neither Ha'aretz or the Jerusalem Post report anything. Neither does the Independent, Fisk's paper. We also get this mix of mind reading and hating Israel:
Two months ago, Israel's senior military intelligence officers were privately expressing concern that al-Qa'ida would strike Israel next. They talked about high buildings in Tel Aviv, nuclear missile sites in the Negev desert – they talked about this softly, of course, because the world is not supposed to discuss Israel's nuclear capability – but they feared, rightly, that Bin Laden would try to put Israel in the same frame as the United States.
Who were these anonymous officers expressing their concerns to? Robert Fisk? The Israeli military has made some serious mistakes, but I would be surprised if they are stupid enough to confide in Fisk. And pray tell, who is not "supposed to discussIsraeli's nuclear capability"? The Independent cannot talk about the Middle East without mentioning it. Sane people talk about Israeli nukes less than possible Iraqi nukes because sane people know that the Israelis are not crazy and are not butchers. Most obscene of all, he manages to find a way to attack Israel explicitly because of Palestinian and al-Qaeda killers.
Are there any Palestinians in the ranks of Bin Laden's legions? I never met any – and I met dozens of his men in Sudan and Afghanistan.
Curiously, the Guardian's coverage disputes this.
If indeed it was al-Qaida. A previously unknown group called the Army of Palestine has claimed responsibility for yesterday's attacks. All one can say for certain is that a wide variety of Palestinian jihadi groups have links to Osama bin Laden's "deputy" Ayman al-Zawahiri.
But let Fisk continue.
But by attacking Israelis, al-Qa'ida has, in effect, taken on the cloak of the intifada.
If a Palestinian suicide bomber can kill 11 Israelis in Jerusalem and an al-Qa'ida suicide squad can kill three Israelis in Mombasa, what is the difference?
In future, any Israeli assault in the occupied West Bank and Gaza can be portrayed as part of the hunt for Bin Laden's men.
An Israeli air raid, no matter how many children it kills, can be depicted as no different to the US raids on Afghan villages.
So, Mr. Fisk, you asked the question. What is the difference?
Christopher Hitchens does not approve of the choice of Kissinger to head the 9/11 investigation, nor does the New York Times editorial board. None of this is a surprise. What is more surprising is that not only was the Times dull, pompous, and predictable, as usual, but that Hitchens was as well. I would find the carping less annoying if the complainers would explain how you find someone who is savvy enough not to be eaten alive by all the sharks, honest as the day is long, and devoid of weird ideological agendas. Even the Times concedes, with respect to the Democrat's choice for vice-chairman:
Like Mr. Kissinger, Mr. Mitchell has great experience and an understanding of how the world works — and is not known for rocking established institutions.
So guys, you got a seriously better suggestion? Let us hear it.
Post-holiday entertainment
Are you feeling the effects of too much food and wine? Are you having difficulty getting your brain to work today? Do you need a bit of comic relief? Well, look no further. Former Enron shill Paul Krugman has now become an Al Gore shill.

In today's New York Times, Krugman tries to keep alive Gore's "the conservative television bias beat me" line. Starting with usual bashing of Fox (but silence on the other networks), Krugman goes off an ominous line about concentrated media interests toeing the government line.

The handful of organizations that supply most people with their news have major commercial interests that inevitably tempt them to slant their coverage, and more generally to be deferential to the ruling party. There have already been some peculiar examples of news not reported. For example, last month's 100,000-strong Washington antiwar demonstration — an important event, whatever your views on the issue — was almost ignored by some key media outlets.

For the time being, blatant media bias is still limited by old rules and old norms of behavior. But soon the rules will be abolished, and the norms are eroding before our eyes.

Do the conflicts of interest of our highly concentrated media constitute a threat to democracy? I've reported; you decide.
The only American television news I see is CBS (Sky News in Britain carries it), so I will not comment on how accurate he is today. In the eighties, his comment was obviously false. But it would be fun to play Krugman game back on him. Is he covering up his own position?
There are now five major sources of TV news, rather than three, but this increase is arguably more than offset by other trends. For one thing, the influence of print news has continued its long decline; for another, all five sources of TV news are now divisions of large conglomerates — you get your news from AOLTimeWarnerGeneralElectricDisneyWestinghouseNewsCorp.
Leave aside the New Left paranoia about the Trilateral Commission. What are Krugman's interests in attacking the networks? He writes, after all, for one of the biggest organs of the print news. He was notoriously silent about how much he made from Enron. How much is the Times paying him to attack the networks? Is this one of the "peculiar examples of news not reported"? See how fun it is going this route?
Race wars
Thomas Sowell reviews Linda Chavez's book, An Unlikely Conservative and takes her to task for being too generous to the wrong people.
The UCLA authorities were wholly uninterested in Linda Chavez's problems — or in the future of the Chicano students they had admitted for show, and were willing to placate with special programs for the sake of campus peace. As she puts it, "The university accepted virtually every Mexican-American who applied, no matter how ill-prepared."
While she characterized the college administrators who made such decisions as "well-meaning but hopelessly naive," a less charitable description of them might include self-indulgent, arrogant and even cynical. All these qualities are likewise apparent when academic administrators admit black students who have little chance of graduating.
Sowell raises a fair point. Why is it accepted that people must be described as well-meaning? Frequently they are, and it would be bizarre to go with, say, the John Birch line that every western failure against communism was a conscious communist conspiracy rather than bad luck or incompetence. And I have met more than one dean who was simply in over his among the sharks. But not much more than one. In academic life, you look around for scholars hidden among the careerists. I have never worked in Washington, D.C., but an economist I knew at the FTC told me back in 1980 how many life-long Democrats there suddenly were declaring themselves life-long Republicans.
The line "you are only saying that because you are . . ." is dull, bullying stuff worthy of a senator or a college activist, and searches for hidden motives are often scams, but when are consistent fiascos, such affirmative action and the farce called public schools, it is fair to ask who is gaining from this.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

George Will attacks a branch of organized religion
George Will, describing environmentalism as "moral exhibitionism", takes on the "What would Jesus drive?" campaign. After a review of some recent thinking by economists in, among other places, Regulation magazine, Will notes:
As to the "WWJD?" clerics' question, Jesus reportedly arrived in Jerusalem on a fuel-guzzling and high-pollution conveyance, a donkey. For millennia, before automobiles arrived to offend liberals, quadrupeds ruled the streets. A century ago in fragrant New York City, the healthiest of the 150,000 horses each put up to 25 pounds of manure each day onto the streets, to the delight of swarms of flies, or in stables -- most blocks had one -- filled with urine-soaked hay. In dry weather, traffic pounded manure to dust that penetrated noses and houses.

Then automobiles, and especially SUVs, spoiled paradise.
Washington Post unfair to UN
The Washington Post says today that the current UN weapons inspection team has passed on capable, experienced inspectors in favor of less able people who will go easy on Saddam, and that it has not even done any background checks on them. They mention the case of Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge, whose qualifications are noted as
McGeorge's professional background reveals he served for a few years each as a Marine ordnance disposal technician and a munitions countermeasures specialist with the Secret Service, both stints occurring more than 20 years ago.
The Post makes quite a bit of another part of his resume.
McGeorge is the co-founder and past president of Black Rose, a Washington-area pansexual S&M group, and the former chairman of the board of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. He is also a founding officer of the Leather Leadership Conference Inc., which "produces training sessions for current and potential leaders of the sadomasochism/leather/fetish community," according to its Web site. Several Web sites describe McGeorge's training seminars, which involve various acts conducted with knives and ropes.
I think the Post is being unfair here. Clearly the UN is exercising foresight here. No doubt the inspectors will encounter many instances of torture, and as Saddam is a clever fellow, he will surely put up the defense that the torture was consensual, just an S&M thing. Someone with experience has to be there to check it all out.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Crime in Europe?
Time runs a story about gang rape in Paris, and even identifies the problem in the immigrant slums. It a part of a more general story about the crime problem in France. By the way, in the past twenty four hours, Cork, a city of less than 150,000, has had two reported rapes, one of a tourist who was badly beaten.
Lazy professors
Cold Spring Shops cracks down on lazy professors. He quotes Rachel Lucas, then adds his own comment:
"If you are a professor, and you give your students Scantron tests, you have no excuse for not handing them back within two weeks. It's easy: Take the dang Scantrons. Put them in the Scantron grader machine. Pull them out. Write down the grades. Give them back to the students. See? Simple." Rachel is being generous. There is no excuse for not returning Scantrons THE CLASS MEETING following the examination.
It is a rare event when I defend college teachers, especially when behavior complained of is often due to laziness. But maybe not always.

If I give a test on those forms (over here they are called EDPACs), first I must have an appointment with the computer center to have them processed. Only one person there does the job, and the machine he uses is several buildings down from the computer center, so it is tricky getting the appointment. Suppose, though, through careful planning and luck, I have an appointment for that day. I take the 150-250 sheets, depending on class size, and have them run through the machine. Is it as simple as posting the grades? I wish. I have to check each sheet manually first. Some students can't be bothered to write down the correct student number, and that has to be corrected to ensure they get proper credit. Some students use unreadable pen rather than a pencil, so the test must be marked manually. Some students put a big X instead of filling in the circle, so the machine thinks they have given two answers. Those must be regraded manually. Easily 25% of the students will do one of these things, and all that takes a lot of time to check.

This all ought to be easily fixed. If a student cannot be bothered to obey instructions, tough. No so easy. If, for example, I simply failed a student who put down the wrong student number, he would appeal, and I would lose. (Yes, it has already happened, several times, so we do not bother anymore.) How about I try mentioning the students in class who could not be bothered to obey instructions, and so slowed the whole business down. Unacceptable humiliation of a student in class. Under no circumstances must a student be held accountable. Serious students get badly penalized by gutless administrators, and I have no solution. Bah and humbug.

On the way into work this morning, I had RTE radio on, the official government radio station. Irene Khan, the general secretary of Amnesty International, was being interviewed. Amnesty has issued a complaint that they have not been allowed access to Irish prisons to study alleged racism. The RTE interviewer was giving her a very hard time. Khan said the refusal of the Irish government to allow an Amnesty inspection put Ireland in the same class as Egypt and Turkey, which also refuse. The RTE interviewer immediately jumped on that, saying that she was suggesting Irish prisons were as bad as Turkish prisons, which Khan denied saying.

What amuses me is that RTE never gives Amnesty a hard time. When Amnesty wants to gripe about Britain or the US, RTE is there groveling. When Amnesty says American justice is no better than Chinese justice, because both countries have the death penalty, RTE purrs its aprroval. What goes around comes around.

When cheap moralizing replaces hard thinking
In the Independent, Jeremy Laurance complains about the brain drain, specifically nurses leaving poor countries and heading for higher pay in wealthier countries such as Britain and the US. This is not an easy issue. Nurses bid away from, say, Malawi can leave hospitals unstaffed, and worsen already bad health conditions. Then again, emigration of nurses to wealthier countries for substantially higher wages can have beneficial effects for their home country. For example, emigrants routinely send substantial funds home. The success of nurses in leaving for higher wages elsewhere can provide a signal to others in the home country of the benefits of education. These are difficult empirical questions. (Here is a serious look at the issue.)

But what Laurance gives is cheap moralizing. The nurses are looking to better their lives, so they cannot be blamed. The agencies in the west that bring them over, however, are to blame.

Last June at Mulanje Mission Hospital in the south of Malawi, I was shown a list of recruitment agencies offering generous terms to nurses prepared to work abroad, including one based in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. The nurse who had shown me round the malnutrition clinic with its hollow-eyed children, puffy-limbed and listless from lack of food, said she was thinking of coming next year. I could not blame her – an average nurse in Malawi earns about a tenth of a British nurse's salary – but I do blame the agencies that touted for her business.
The trade is immoral, but only side gets blamed, by sheer coincidence, no doubt, the West. Cheap and useless moralizing replacing hard thinking about hard problems.
Halle Berry
In the Independent, Miles Kington inquires into the origins of Halle Berry's name. It is very funny (yes, the Independent is sometimes intentionally funny).
Commie alert
George Galloway, the Labour MP who misses Stalin, tries to draw all sorts of analogies between the Bush administration and MacBeth. It gets bizarre: the three witches are Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice, along with Perle.
Gerald Kaufman [another left-wing Labour MP] identified the "three witches" of the Bush forest: Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice. Like Macbeth's witches, "toil and trouble" is what they're boiling for, he said. While nursing their wrath about the Powell-Blair axis of multilateralism they, along with Perle, seem remarkably confident that the president's heart and mind is with them.
I would have thought if Galloway wanted a foursome, he would have to drop the witches metaphor. No such luck. The whole is all the same dreary stuff: invade Iraq and make bin Laden happy.
To the leaders of the Muslim world
Tom Friedman offers up a hypothetical letter from George Bush to the Muslim world. The gist of it:
The decent, but passive, Muslim center must go to war against this harsh fundamentalism. Yes, we have our intolerant bigots too. I just publicly distanced myself from those Christians who smear Islam with a broad brush. But our moderate majority and press regularly denounce them too. They are not dominating our society. We've had our civil war against intolerance. Now I'm urging you to have yours. Don't tell me you can't. Look at those courageous Iranian students who are now taking on the extreme fundamentalists within their own society — risking their lives to fight those who want to take Islam, and Iran, back to the Dark Ages. God bless them.
Friends, unless you have a war within your civilization, there is going to be a war between our civilizations. We're just one more 9/11 away from that. So let's dedicate this next year to fighting intolerance within so we can preserve our relations between.
Three in one day? Is Howell Raines on vacation?
Killing in Nigeria
Salman Rushdie demonstrates in the New York Times that he writes very well. After all the apologies for murderous Muslims in Nigeria (blaming Miss World is an apology for the real killers), Rushdie strikes back.
Nigerian Islam's encounter with that powerhouse of subversion, the Miss World contest, has been unedifying, to put it mildly.
Do you wish you could do sarcasm that well? I do. He demands that the Muslim world confront its fanatics and killers, if they are to be taken seriously.
Where, after all, is the Muslim outrage at these events? As their ancient, deeply civilized culture of love, art and philosophical reflection is hijacked by paranoiacs, racists, liars, male supremacists, tyrants, fanatics and violence junkies, why are they not screaming?

At least in Iran the students are demonstrating. But where else in the Muslim world can one hear the voices of the fair-minded, tolerant Muslim majority deploring what Nigerian, Egyptian, Arab and Dutch Muslims are doing? Muslims in the West, too, seem unnaturally silent on these topics. If you're yelling, we can't hear you.
Amazing stuff.
Miss Manners appears in the New York Times today, all about being thankful on Thanksgiving. This is why I always read her:
Members of extended families complain about having to spend the day with relatives they didn't choose rather than friends whom they did, while members of splintered families complain of not getting a fair share of the visits. Those invited to be with friends complain that they feel like charity cases, and those who are alone complain that the holiday opens an entire season designed to make them feel bad.

Those who prepare the food complain that they are unappreciated, and those for whom they prepare it complain that their food restrictions and preferences are not appreciated. Even the standard compliment is a complaint: "Stop, stop, I'm going to burst."

And all that is before they get going on one another's jobs, personal living arrangements and child-rearing.

Last year, national tragedy prompted some into the Pilgrim-like reflection that, horrible as things were, one should give thanks that they were not worse. Why are bad times the only times we can appreciate what we have?
While you mull on behaving well, the Times also presents Nigella Lawson, a very good English cooking writer (and daughter of Nigel Lawson, Chancellor of the Exchequer under Margaret Thatcher), with advice on what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers.
Speech codes
Interesting piece from the Christian Science Monitor (through FindLaw) on speech codes. I remain somewhat puzzled by what to do about campus speech codes. I have always had a speech code in my classroom: I punish obscenities and gratuitous insults. Are there unacceptable opinions in my classroom? Absolutely. I am not interested in my students' opinions of the grand events of the day. They are there to learn how to use economic models, and they do it well or do it badly. For instance, the Irish government currently requires housing developers to make 20% of the housing in their new developments "low cost housing". What effect does it have on income distribution, housing prices, rent seeking? These are all useful questions they should try to model and answer. How do they "feel" about the policy? I would not tell my students how I feel about the policy, and I do not care about how they feel about it.
Speech codes seem to me to be about classes where the teacher offers up his opinions and declares which ones he will listen to. I do not understand why these classes are considered unfair; they strike me as useless.
A note in passing: Teachers at all three campuses of the National University of Ireland are required, as part of their statute, to agree not to use their classrooms as places to discourse on their views on religion.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Professors who can't be embarrassed anymore
I knew Paul Krugman was way past being capable of embarrassment. I did not expect the same from Brad DeLong, who purrs over Krugman's jackass New York Times bit about inheritance, in which Krugman said that influential parents are bad if you are a Republican but good if you are a Democrat. Some day DeLong is going to have to make up his mind: is he a serious, highly talented economist or a flack for the Democratic National Committee?
Doughnuts and Pizza, the outfit that will deliver pizza to IDF troops in Israel, announces that it coordinates all deliveries with the security forces so that deliveries are safe. It will now also deliver doughnuts. This is a tough one for me. Most normal people like doughnuts, but sending doughnuts feels, well, so Bill Clinton.
Shalem Center
I recently got an email that got destroyed by the email system, for reasons annoying but unimportant. The email originated at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, an outfit I was unfamiliar with, but I never could figure out from whom. Frustrating, but still it got me looking at the Shalem Center's website. The Center publishes a magazine, Azure, twice a year, and it makes for fascinating reading, although not all the articles are on-line. [If, like me, you are not Jewish and don't know a lot about Judaism, the site is slightly disconcerting, particular when the latest issue is Winter 5763/2003. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out that the Hebrew calendar is used (okay, so I'm not a genius; sue me).] The latest issue begins with an editorial "Rome's New Empire", which turns out to be a brutala nd powerful critique of the International Criminal Court. The nominal justification for the title is that the ICC treaty was signed in Rome, but the comparison of the ICC to the Roman Empire is something I would never have come up with. I like Azure (and okay, I plead guilty, I haven't yet shelled out the $26/year for a subscription, but my wife is starting to glare at me over all my magazine subscriptions).
Shalem also published Hebrew translations of major works about freedom, including Hayek's Road to Serfdom and Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, plus works by fellows of the center. (I know exactly one Hebrew speaker, and I will have to ask her why one book is 187 pages in English but only 141 pages in Hebrew. Maybe she will turn this into an extra reason to get my wife and me to go with her to Israel, something we want to do badly, but our tiny bank account is less keen on.)
Especially if you know as little about Israel and Judaism as I do, go to the site and learn something.
Gasbag alert
Chris Hedges of the New York Times wrote a long pacifist book titled "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning". Bert Stephens, editor of the Jerusalem Post, has a lot of fun taking the windbag down.
Professors who are not an embarrassment
The Jerusalem Post reports on a group of 70 professors, 12 from Harvard Medical School, who went to Israel to protest to divestiture crowd. Every time a professor opens his mouth, I cringe at the likely outcome. Nice to have a change of pace.
Losing faith
The Guardian published an article today by David Newman, a left-wing Israeli academic, and it makes for very depressing reading.
Those of us who oppose the continuation of occupation try to impress on our Palestinian friends how important it is for them to raise their voice against fundamentalist terrorism. Public opinion in Israel must see that there are people on the other side who oppose terrorism and are not afraid to raise their voices for fear of being branded collaborators.
Easier said than done, of course. Here in Israel we may be criticised for our pro-Oslo positions, we may be branded by the more extreme elements as "traitors", but we live in a vibrant democracy where all opinions are valid. We are aware of the hardships faced by the pro-peace, anti-terrorism groups among the Palestinians, but we also believe they can no longer remain silent.
Mentioning that his son is in school near the site of the last bus attack, we see the collapse of the Israeli peace movement.
My son will travel back by bus from Jerusalem next week. On second thought, I will probably pick him up. I, too, am slowly losing faith. I want him home in one piece. I don't want him to be on the wrong bus at the wrong time.
The faith of the Israeli left is being destroyed by Palestinian terrorists and their myriad of supporters, who are the enemy of civilization, the same ones offering excuses for murder in Nigeria, blaming it on a beauty pageant or a journalist.
Miss World contest fights back
And about time, too. After the creeps at the Guardian tried to blame the Miss World contest for murderous Muslims, Reuters reports a reply by the Miss World contest. The organizer of the contest, Julia Morley, blamed it on the journalist who wrote the article about the Prophet Mohammed. But she is wrong. Miss Nigeria got it right:
An impassive Miss Nigeria, Chinenye Ivy Ochuba, said she was indifferent to the fact that the contest had moved and said the north of her country had suffered religious violence for a long time before Miss World came along.
"We are not responsible for the deaths. I don't believe the pageant has anything to do with the riots. That is just an excuse," she told Reuters.
Meanwhile, the degenerate left was still trying to blame the contest.
Oscar-winning actress turned parliamentarian Glenda Jackson led calls for the contest to be halted: "The best thing to do after such fratricide and blood-letting is to cancel the whole competition," she said.
Australian feminist Germaine Greer said the prospect of staging the contest in London was "horrifying" while writer Muriel Gray said: "These girls will be wearing swimwear dripping with blood."
It is not surprising to see Germaine Greer, the little brat who likes groveling before butchers, opening her over-rated mouth.

Monday, November 25, 2002

A remarkable admission
In a news article on the killing of Iain Hook, the UNRWA official, the Independent makes an extraordinary (for them) admission.
Thursday's bus bombing provoked a series of attacks by angry Jews against Arabs and their property in Jerusalem. Such reprisals have been surprisingly limited inside Israel after previous atrocities.
Does this mean the Independent is admitting that the Israelis aren't wildly vindictive? Amazing.
The Guardian makes up excuses for murder
A group of Muslims go on a rampage in Nigeria, murdering hundreds. Their excuse: they were offended by a newspaper article about a beauty pagent. So who does the Guardian blame? The Miss World Pageant. Is anyone surprised by this bit of moral idiocy? From Ros Coward's column:
What an irony that fundamentalist Muslims managed to do what feminism ultimately failed to do: make Miss World a global political issue. As contestants flee to London, and Nigeria counts its dead, it is almost impossible to retain the idea that an annual parade of female flesh is just an innocent quest for universal beauty acceptable to all reasonable people.
. . .
The riots in Nigeria were ultimately triggered, not by the contest itself but by a piece in a local paper claiming the prophet himself might have chosen a wife from these beauties. The Nigeria debacle shows how naive people are about this divide between cultures, especially in a post-September 11 world. A culture where a woman can be stoned to death for adultery clearly contains elements that will not be entranced by a parade of female flesh or the "modernity" it promises. To hold the contest during Ramadan compounds the insult.
So, fundamentalist Muslims are apparently offended to the point of butchery not merely by claims of gross American imperialism, or Israeli oppression, but by a lousy beauty contest, and the degenerates at the Guardian offer them sympathies for hurt feelings. The Guardian does not seriously believe this. If a group of fundamentalist Christians started a riot and killed hundreds in Britain because they were offended by some snide anti-Christian crack in the Guardian, the Guardian would be calling for the suppression of Christianity. This is simply bizarre self-hatred.

One more time with Orwell on British intellectuals during World War II:

Within the intelligentsia, a derisive and mildly hostile attitude towards Britain is more or less compulsory, but it is an unfaked emotion in many cases. During the war it was manifested in the defeatism of the intelligentsia, which persisted long after it had become clear that the Axis powers could not win. Many people were undisguisedly pleased when Singapore fell or when the British were driven out of Greece, and there was a remarkable unwillingness to believe in good news, e.g. el Alamein, or the number of German planes shot down in the Battle of Britain. English left-wing intellectuals did not, of course, actually want the Germans or Japanese to win the war, but many of them could not help getting a certain kick out of seeing their own country humiliated, and wanted to feel that the final victory would be due to Russia, or perhaps America, and not to Britain. In foreign politics many intellectuals follow the principle that any faction backed by Britain must be in the wrong.
More butchery
Israpundit picks up the story:
NINETY-two year old Zhenya Axelrode lost her husband and sister in World War II but managed to save her daughter Kira from hunger and worse when the Nazis invaded Ukraine.

Last Thursday she lost both Kira and her great-grandson Ilan in the latest homicide bombing.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

A frightening breakdown in the law
An article in the Washington Post by David Finkel tries to get at the appeal of the sharia legal codes. Part of the issue, Finkel suggests, is a power grab.
there is a widening gulf between governors who say they implemented sharia because of divine instruction, and disbelievers who say it was a move by the political elite to tighten power over a population variously described as Nigeria's poorest, most marginalized, most vulnerable to oppression, and most victimized by Nigeria's endless corruption.
But he also suggests that the appeal of the sharia code is the appeal of rule by organized crime when the government is so inept and corrupt that it cannot provide a system of justice.
Which, of course, is why many of those very Muslims view sharia as a literal answer to their prayers. Not only do they see it as God's word, they say, but what has been their alternative? They live in a country so corrupt that even though Nigeria is one of the world's largest oil producers, there are chronic gasoline shortages and all-day lines. The non-sharia court system? It's a system brought by the British when they took over Nigeria a century ago, which, to the poor, seems to hinge on unaffordable lawyers and judges demanding bribes. Their penal system? Filthy, disease-ridden and overcrowded prisons in which nine out of 10 inmates aren't convicts but people who can spend years waiting for a court date they have been unable to buy their way out of.
By contrast:
"Next case," says Attahir Dan-Ayya, the judge in "Theft of Sheep and Ram," moving on. Speedy trials and instant decisions: that's what justice is in Dan-Ayya's courtroom. Criminal defendants are here because, as Muslims, they have no choice; those in civil cases, who are filling the benches and sitting shoulder to shoulder, are here because they prefer to avail themselves of a judge who relies on two Islamic scholars rather than law books and rockets through a dozen or more cases a day.
The I.R.A. has a lot of local support because they monopolize crime. A lot of petty criminals are punished by the I.R.A. who the regular court system ignores. Faced with chaotic government, people turn to otherwise unattractive alternatives.
This strikes me as one of the risks of bad legislation. The British are absorbed with cracking down on hate speech and dancing in pubs, so they do not deal with the crime that actually frightens people. Thus do people turn to gangsters for protection.
The Federalist Society
It is kind of sad to grown men pout. Adam Cohen pouts about the Federalist Society in a piece amusingly titled "Hell Hath No Fury Like a Conservative Who Is Victorious". We get told that Travelgate was about nothing really. Tell that to Billy Dale. We get a pout because there was a satire of William Brennan. And we get the Big Conspiracy Theory.
But now this same crowd is setting the nation's legal policy and selecting its judges — with a freer hand than ever since the Republicans retook the Senate. They are using their informal network to place conservative true believers in influential positions throughout the federal government, from Supreme Court clerkships to top agency posts.
. . .
First, if these are the folks choosing federal judges for the Bush administration — and they are — Senate Democrats and moderate Republicans need to be vigilant about investigating nominees' backgrounds, and using the filibuster, to prevent a far-right takeover of the courts. Second, Democrats and moderate Republicans in both houses will need to stand up for mainstream principles that are now under assault, like antitrust law and health and safety regulations.
But the good news is that the New York Times put this on the editorial page, rather than try to pretend it is a news article.
Just when you think you have it figured out
Maureen Dowd goes off and says something interesting. Eminem is going so mainstream that her girlfriends like him, but their daughters do not.
"My 11-year-old daughter is repulsed that I like him," a friend says, as her daughter chimes in that mom is "psychotic and weird." Mothers, the little girl explains, are not supposed to like people who talk about "drugs and sex and hard lives." Kids don't want to see their parents hopped up over a 30-year-old hip-hopper.
Then Dowd goes off and captures the repulsive appeal of Eminem to the middle-aged.
Frantic to be hip, eager to stay young, we are robbing our children of their toys. Like Mick Jagger, we want to deny the reality of time and be cool unto eternity. Eminem sings only about himself, which makes him a perfect boomers' crooner.