Sunday, November 30, 2003


Don't miss the chance to read these excellent articles/posts from this weekend:

"Mark Steyn lists the countries that must be dealt with if we are to win the war against terrorism."

Michael Gonzalez points out that French and German banks always seem to conveniently lend money to America's enemies.

Ralph Peters writes that "our 'conservative' president has become a champion of the 'left-wing' causes of human rights and the liberation of the oppressed."

David's Medienkritik points out an enormous gaffe in the German coverage of Bush's Iraq trip.

Acidman is mighty proud of our President.

Kal writes about Tim Robbins' ridiculous play.

And finally, Porphyrogenitus enumerates what he is thankful for this year.


It seems everyone in the world, including the Democratic candidates and other countries' media, is bitter about the President's trip to Iraq for Thanksgiving. Well, everyone except the Iraqis...

Alaa posted:


Ahalan (= Kinsmen: it means you have come amongst kinsmen)
Wa = and
Sahlan (= Plateau or plain easy land: meaning you have trodden welcoming land)
These are the traditional words of welcome in the Arabic language.

Yes GWB, though the visit was brief, it was very meaningful. We know that you have come, not as the President of an invading nation, but as the friend who wishes to renew commitment to our people, and as long as your intentions are what you have repeatedly said (and we don't doubt your sincerity), the land and the hearts welcome you.

It gives us pain that the visit is so short and that the masses cannot in the present circumstances come out to give you the welcome that you deserve, but the day will come, the day will come (God's Willing). Yes the day will come when the millions will come out to welcome the best friend that the Mesopotamian people have ever had, and he will be amongst the most devoted and allied people that America will ever have.

The bones in the mass graves salute you, Avenger of the Bones.

Hail, Friend and Ally, Hail, Sheikh of Sheikhs, GWB; Descendant of the Noble Ancient Celt.

Zeyad posted:

I have mixed feelings myself. The fact that he is the first American president to set foot on Iraqi soil is a huge event in itself, and a three hour visit to Baghdad Airport definitely wouldn't be the same as a tour in the country and most importantly meeting Iraqi citizens, Iraqis who would be grateful for this visit. But I understand the security considerations and this gesture alone would be sufficient to send a message to whoever it may concern that Iraq is safe enough for an American president to visit. To tell the truth I'm still shocked to this moment that he took the risk to come here. I used to like him before, but now I admire the guy.

And Nabil posted:

The president of the USA Bush make his first visit to Iraq in Baghdad airport for tow hours in the thankful day he had eat his launch with the US soldiers, and this is the first visit from an American president to Iraq, he came with secret plane, no one know this visit, and he said if anyone run out any news he is able to cancel this visit, what a brave man he is a lot of the presidents was afraid to come to Iraq but he did it he has come to Iraq. The Arabic channels like (ALJAZEERA and ALARABIA) says that if he came to Iraq to makes the freedom for its people then why he doesn't go out side with Iraqi people and visit the schools, this is toddle not right because there are some of the terrorist out side maybe the could kill him, so this is the first visit of him and we want a lot of another visits to Iraq from president BUSH and we hope that the another visit from him came with new Iraq republic that will be great to rebuild the new Iraq.

Friday, November 28, 2003


Andrew Sullivan's Thanksgiving tribute is no less stirring today than it was last year when I read it for the first time. As an immigrant, he sees the US as we sometimes cannot.

His words on the President's secret visit to Iraq are worth noting too:

"We know the Bush family likes to keep secrets, to spring surprises on unsuspecting outsiders, to hold decisions close and unveil maneuvers and initiatives with some aplomb. But the visit to Baghdad was spectacular even by those standards. The president said what almost all of us feel: that those troops out there are doing enormously difficult work and they deserve immeasurable thanks. By also serving them dinner, he demonstrated something important: that even the president is essentially indebted to these men and women. He is their servant, not they his. It was a perfect visual sign. The president's message to Iraqis was also important: we have to convince the Baathists that we will not falter an iota in accomplishing a peaceful transition to democracy. Some have interpreted the plans for some troop reductions next year as a sign that the president is micro-managing the war to time with his election prospects; or that we are about to pull a Clinton and wriggle out of a commitment. This trip is the best response to both doubts. It reaffirms resolve, raises morale, and asserts our intention to get this done right. It's called leadership. And we just saw some."

One quote in particular struck me from the article on the secret visit, and maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it's where they describe how Bush and Rice snuck out of the White House. "Rice and the president wore ball caps; Bush said he pulled his low on his face and slouched down in his seat to avoid being recognized by an airfield guard. 'We looked like a normal couple,' Bush said of himself and Rice." The President said that a white Republican man and an African-American woman looked like a normal couple. I hope that speaks loads about our society today.


I had a revelation yesterday morning at 10:26. Thanksgiving sucks.

It was one of those things that you learn as you grow up, something you can only learn by experience but once you've learned it, you see the world completely differently from then on. There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but there's definitely no such thing as a free Thanksgiving dinner.

My husband and I worked our fingers to the bone to get everything done. We worked from about 10:00 until we sat down to eat at 5:30. I even had to call and wake my mom up in the middle of the night to ask her what in the hell this awful thing was inside the turkey (it was the neck, and boy was it gross). We cooked everything and washed dishes as we went along, while our guests went for a walk, had more than enough drinks, watched Smokey and the Bandit, and played on the internet. And once we sat down to eat, the applause was underwhelming.

Growing up, I was the only girl child in my family. I always was bitter because it seemed I got a disproportionate amount of chores and housework, especially around the holidays. Whenever my mom made Thanksgiving dinner, I always got roped into helping, and I was always rude and cranky that I had to help while the boys watched football. I sincerely regret that behavior since 10:26 yesterday morning. I wish I had been a better help for my mom. I wish I had paid attention more so that I didn't have to call her in the middle of the night to ask questions. And I wish I had thanked her more after all the dishes were washed and she was as exhausted as I was last night.

But that's the life's lesson you learn when you're finally in the "mom shoes", when you're the one walking through the living room to clean up beer bottles and pumpkin pie plates, when everyone's watching football and you're doing a laundry load of dirty napkins and dish towels, and when everyone else goes up to bed and you're still washing the last of the dishes.

Thanksgiving dinner is really hard work, and it's actually a very thank-less job. But yesterday I learned to give thanks for the previous 25 years' worth of dinners that my mom made for me.

Thursday, November 27, 2003


I started a draft of a post yesterday, but with the festivities this weekend, I probably won't get around to finishing it for a while. My husband's brother and his wife arrived yesterday from their military post, and our other friend flies in from the USA today, so we've got six at the table and it's my first turkey ever!

Posting will be light to nonexistent this weekend...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

HE HE...

Excellent quote by David Bernstein.


We hit 10,000 this morning.
Thanks, readers.


Nelson Ascher asks some very good questions about Israel's rights. His post is a reaction to another Jewish blogger's response to an email from an Egyptian. It's worth it to read the whole thing, the original email and Meryl Yourish's response, and then Ascher's footnote. Yourish and Ascher make sound points about Israel's right to exist that should be read.


So, here's how I understand it. The EU has rules that say that no member is allowed to carry a deficit of more than 3% their GDP. France and Germany have carried deficits for three years that have broken this rule. Rather than charge them a fine (as it states in the rules), the "euro zone finance ministers" have decided to just ask France and Germany pretty please with sugar on top to stop breaking the rules.

"Small states complained that the rules were being bent by the big countries to protect Germany and France, which have long been the EU's central leadership axis."

Bending rules and doing whatever you want with disregard to how it affects the rest of your community...where have I heard that before...what's that definition again...oh yeah.



Apparently in San Francisco they're strugglin' with a pickle.
"Is it wrong to root for the Iraqis?"
Blackfive has some choice words for those polled.
Instapundit just says, "Yes, it's wrong."


Before the war in Iraq:

"It used to be a capital offence to own a mobile phone, as the last row of graves dug at Abu Ghraib prison can testify. Owning a satellite dish was punishable by a prison sentence and a hefty fine. Disseminating banned literature, as a few brave dissidents dared to, was a guaranteed rendez-vous with a firing squad."

After the war in Iraq:

"Now they are gorging themselves on MTV, cartoons and the slick Arab satellite news channels already sweeping the region. Entire Iraqi families have become couch potatoes, and fights commonly break out in households over who has the remote control."

Death by firing squad vs. fighting over the remote...
Do ya think Iraq's better off today?

(via Tim Blair)

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


So I spelled Gandhi's name wrong about eight times in my post about him. I do that all the time. We bought a DVD player from gandhiappliances.com once, and I always lose their website because I spell his name wrong. Shame on me.

But I digress.

I took Alex Bensky's advice in the comments section and looked up George Orwell's essay on Gandhi. Very interesting. Orwell himself says, "One feels of him that there was much he did not understand, but not that there was anything that he was frightened of saying or thinking."

And it turns out that it was in fact Orwell who more eloquently than I said that had Gandhi been from somewhere else, we never would have heard of him:

At the same time there is reason to think that Gandhi, who after all was born in 1869, did not understand the nature of totalitarianism and saw everything in terms of his own struggle against the British government. The important point here is not so much that the British treated him forbearingly as that he was always able to command publicity. As can be seen from the phrase quoted above, he believed in "arousing the world," which is only possible if the world gets a chance to hear what you are doing. It is difficult to see how Gandhi's methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the regime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again. Without a free press and the right of assembly, it is impossible not merely to appeal to outside opinion, but to bring a mass movement into being, or even to make your intentions known to your adversary. Is there a Gandhi in Russia at this moment? And if there is, what is he accomplishing? The Russian masses could only practise civil disobedience if the same idea happened to occur to all of them simultaneously, and even then, to judge by the history of the Ukraine famine, it would make no difference. But let it be granted that non-violent resistance can be effective against one's own government, or against an occupying power: even so, how does one put it into practise internationally? Gandhi's various conflicting statements on the late war seem to show that he felt the difficulty of this. Applied to foreign politics, pacifism either stops being pacifist or becomes appeasement. Moreover the assumption, which served Gandhi so well in dealing with individuals, that all human beings are more or less approachable and will respond to a generous gesture, needs to be seriously questioned. It is not necessarily true, for example, when you are dealing with lunatics. Then the question becomes: Who is sane? Was Hitler sane? And is it not possible for one whole culture to be insane by the standards of another? And, so far as one can gauge the feelings of whole nations, is there any apparent connection between a generous deed and a friendly response? Is gratitude a factor in international politics?

He said it so well that I won't even bother to comment. In addition, earlier in the essay, Orwell makes a point that can be viewed in light of my friend's desire that I read Gandhi to better understand peace.

Even after he had completely abjured violence he was honest enough to see that in war it is usually necessary to take sides.

Those are Orwell's words, remember, but they cannot be ignored as a characterization of Gandhi. He wisely goes on:

He did not - indeed, since his whole political life centred round a struggle for national independence, he could not - take the sterile and dishonest line of pretending that in every war both sides are exactly the same and it makes no difference who wins. Nor did he, like most Western pacifists, specialize in avoiding awkward questions. In relation to the late war, one question that every pacifist had a clear obligation to answer was: "What about the Jews? Are you prepared to see them exterminated? If not, how do you propose to save them without resorting to war?" I must say that I have never heard, from any Western pacifist, an honest answer to this question, though I have heard plenty of evasions, usually of the "you're another" type. But it so happens that Gandhi was asked a somewhat similar question in 1938 and that his answer is on record in Mr. Louis Fischer's Gandhi and Stalin. According to Mr. Fischer, Gandhi's view was that the German Jews ought to commit collective suicide, which "would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler's violence." After the war he justified himself: the Jews had been killed anyway, and might as well have died significantly. One has the impression that this attitude staggered even so warm an admirer as Mr. Fischer, but Gandhi was merely being honest. If you are not prepared to take life, you must often be prepared for lives to be lost in some other way. When, in 1942, he urged non-violent resistance against a Japanese invasion, he was ready to admit that it might cost several million deaths.

Again: "Nor did he, like most Western pacifists, specialize in avoiding awkward questions." Gandhi was willing to take as many lives as necessary to prove his point and "arouse the world". How does that jive with the anti-war crowd today?

Read the whole thing. It's enlightening.


I also checked up on Joshua Scholar's tip about comments from the Dalai Lama concerning Saddam Hussein. He was right. The Dalai Lama said, "Terrorism is the worst kind of violence, so we have to check it, we have to take countermeasures." The Dalai Lama also said in The Art of Peace, "Non-violence and peace do not mean that we remain indifferent, passive." He has been criticized for refusing to step on any political toes.


Greyhawk has a very interesting fisking of a protester's account of London.
Check it out.


Tim claims he is not making this up. We know, Tim.
No one could make this stuff up. Not even Scott Ott.

There's an article on MSNBC called "Life worsens for Iraqi donkeys under U.S. suspicion".

Seriously. Donkeys.

"Every donkey in Baghdad is suddenly under suspicion as U.S. President George W. Bush wages a global war on terror. In a crackdown on an animal that already suffers multiple daily whippings, U.S. soldiers with automatic rifles regularly stop and search donkey carts for weapons. Donkey owners say petrol stations have been refusing to sell them kerosene for resale since the rocket attacks. The animals salivate and wheeze with exhaustion as they pull their owners and heavy loads across the potholed streets of the Iraqi capital in a desperate search for kerosene."

Feel the tugging at your heartstrings?

"The attacks could not have come at a worse time for donkey cart owners, who can barely afford to buy newspapers to read about the rockets and bombs that have shaken Baghdad. ... Ali Kathim woke up two days after the rocket attacks to find his donkey was missing. 'My friends said they saw the Americans take my donkey away,' he said. 'I have not been able to work for four days. I just sit around. I don't know if I will get the donkey back.'"

But wait, it gets more serious.

"Donkeys are not alone. Horses also face new checks."

I guess the Iraqis will have to write a 4th Amendment into their own Constitution to prevent illegal donkey and horse searches.

But what struck me most when I read this on Tim's blog is the sense of deja-vu. Where have I heard this before? Oh yeah. From PETA back in February, when PETA President Ingrid Newkirk wrote a letter to Yassir Arafat asking him to find a better method of delivering bombs to Israel than the backs of innocent donkeys, after bemoaning the plight of service dogs in Vietnam and stray cats fleeing from Israeli bulldozers.


"The Washington Post this week asked Ms. Newkirk if she had 'considered asking Arafat to persuade those who listen to him to stop blowing up people as well' as animals. Her response should be required reading for all would-be members of PETA: 'It's not my business to inject myself into human wars,' Newkirk told the Post."

Poor little donkeys.


Talk about "having an agenda." Check out how a German newspaper translated an AP report of Bush's journey to Northern England.

You have to be kidding.


Amritas found a speech given by the chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities. It explains a lot about where our American priorities lie.

One study of university students found that 40% could not place the Civil War in the correct half-century. Only 37% knew that the Battle of the Bulge took place during World War II. A national test of high school seniors found that 57% performed "below basic" level in American history. What does that mean? Well, over half of those tested couldn't say whom we fought in World War II. Eighteen percent believed that the Germans were our allies!

Such collective amnesia is dangerous. Citizens kept ignorant of their history are robbed of the riches of their heritage, and handicapped in their ability to understand and appreciate other cultures.

If Americans cannot recall whom we fought, and whom we fought alongside, during World War II, it should not be assumed that they will long remember what happened on September 11 or why we must be prepared and vigilant today. And a nation that does not know why it exists, or what it stands for, cannot be expected to long endure. As columnist George Will wrote, "We cannot defend what we cannot define."

We hear repeatedly about how dumb Americans are, and Jay Leno does much to promote that stereotype. But don't be fooled into thinking it's just Americans. I distinctly remember a Canadian who claimed to have never even heard of the Berlin Wall and thought it was in Russia, and I had to pull up maps online last month to teach my German co-worker where Afghanistan and Uzbekistan are located. There are plenty of people in the world who are ignorant of history; it's not just us.

But we live in a crucial time, when history is as important as it ever was. People like to throw around the history that they overheard when they were flipping channels past CNN, like "well, didn't we once support Saddam and give him weapons and stuff; it's our own fault", but they don't want to make the commitment to research and learn. I have a French major friend who was oblivious to de Villepin's remarks at the UN Security Council and France's relationship with Saddam, but she said that she was too busy in school to learn about these things. Too busy being a French major to learn about France.

Yes, I spend too much time online, hours a day reading news and blogs. Yes, I sometimes wish I could unlearn what I know so that I too could have a "heaven on earth" outlook on life. But this speech taught me an appropriate quote from James Madison: "The diffusion of knowledge is the only true guardian of liberty." I too believe that "citizens kept ignorant of their history are robbed of the riches of their heritage, and handicapped in their ability to understand and appreciate other cultures." The friend I've been debating said that she was shocked to find out my political beliefs because I seemed so "open-minded and curious about other cultures", which to her was a Democrat-only trait. Not only do I find that to be personally offensive, but also telling of what's going on in the US. We're so afraid of looking superior that we're stuck pretending we're not. We've robbed ourselves of the "riches of our heritage" by being so relativistic. My friend probably can't comprehend that I've lived in three different European countries and visited almost all of the Western ones, and I'd still prefer to be in the USA. Sure, I'm curious, but that doesn't mean I'm willing to give up what I've got; in fact, studying other cultures has made me realize how precious my own is.

However, many people, especially those in academa, would never dream of putting America first. Jonah Goldberg writes today about what makes Fox News different from the rest: "Fox doesn't apologize for being an American news organization -- much like many news organizations of the 1940s and 1950s and completely unlike almost all other leading journalistic enterprises today. The thinking of the elite liberal media establishment can be summarized thus: They've convinced themselves that 'objectivity' requires that they never offend foreign murderers or their sympathizers by suggesting America might be right about something. Globalization has only accelerated this miscalculation and its dire consequences."

It's OK for the US to be right. But overwhelmingly Americans are shying away from anything that smacks of superiority, prefering instead to talk about "other cultures" and denegrating American success. It's tragic, really, because we're coming away with a generation that doesn't remember the difference between an ally and an enemy. No wonder "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists" is so hard for some to comprehend.

Makes perfect sense to me.


One of the (if not the only) benefits of speaking French is that I can read the original news reports from France. That way when Merde in France posts a blurb about how a Muslim stabbed a guy in France over a sandwich, and I think he must be exaggerating or I must have heard wrong, I can go to the article and read that there were two sandwiches left in the shop (ham and fish) and when the other guy took the fish, leaving only the ham, the Muslim went nuts and stabbed him four times in the heart.

I can't even think of anything to say about this.

Monday, November 24, 2003


I've been sitting here for two and a half hours, and I haven't even made it through reading all of my Heroes yet. Nor have I showered, brushed my teeth, or paid any attention to my husband as he got ready for work. Sigh. The sphere grows every day.


The CounterRevolutionary has been digging up old articles from WWII that are most relevent these days. His recent post is on an article saying that Nazi Germany was far from having any nuclear weapons. Sound familiar? He made some snarky comments about how WWII was not justified because there were no WMD, and his comments section got flooded with Lefty anger. He responds with a post that makes perfect sense to me. Excerpt:

"Psychologically, the far Left is like a cult. They are fanatics whose goal of a "Heaven on Earth" is just as unrealistic as the those of an Aryan Reich. Like any other cult, they feel that they are the sole recipients of pure wisdom and goodness and those who disagree with them are either stupid or evil. They build mythologies that reinforce these perceptions. I believe that in the Marshall post I inadvertently questioned one of these mythologies.

To the Left, WWII was the last "good" war. Its morality was clear cut -- one side was purely good and the other was purely evil. One of the ways that the Left psychologically reinforces their standing on the "good" side is by drawing parallels between themselves and WWII's Allies. Even more powerfully, they view those that disagree with them as evil by drawing a connection to the Axis. The "Bush = Hitler" meme which fuels the Left's righteousness depends on this relationship.

This seems to be a powerful mythology, and I think that my crime was in questioning on which side of the divide the modern Left lies. Evidence that the modern Left is more like the Western Nazi supporters would undermine their self image as avatars of goodness. Imagine if you viewed yourself as a righteous paladin battling a moral monstrosity -- now imagine realizing that you are the monstrosity. More importantly, the realization would take away the "reasons" for the anger that you so greatly savor. I believe that this realization caused the highly defensive response to my post."

This response really hit home with me considering the debate I'm currently struggling with.

I get the feeling that my friend and I will never make any headway because we both look down on each other. (I almost said "never see eye to eye", but we're way beyond that point.) She looks down on me for not wanting to find a peaceful solution to the world's problems, and I look down on her for actually believing a peaceful solution is available. I do think that the "heaven on earth" goal is one that the far Left desires; my friend's wish that I read more Gandhi seems to be evidence of this. Understanding Gandhi will have zero effect on the current war on terror. I can't remember where I read or heard this, but someone once said that if Gandhi had been Jewish, we would have never heard of him. Gandhi's passive resistance was a testament to British morality, not to peace as a weapon because Hitler never would have stopped to listen. Gandhi's tactic worked because the British are basically good people. Same with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Both men resisted peacefully, and it worked because the British and the Americans operate under a moral code we in the West can all understand. The Middle Eastern Arabs have no similar moral code. They do not value the same things we value; thus the ability for us to make peace is nearly impossible. And we can't continue to project our own moral code onto the Middle East. Someone who calculates which floor he should fly a plane into to cause the most death and destruction is not someone we can sit down and reason with. It's a "heaven on earth" goal that will never be met.

But it sounds nice. It sounds better to say that you're for peace instead of war, as if that were a true dichotomy. But sometimes we get the distinct feeling that the Left sees it that way, that if you're not out marching for peace, you are some sort of bloodthirsty raving lunatic. We who back the war back it as a last resort. We were attacked two years ago, and we've had to get tough so that we're never attacked again. Yes, that means war. Yes, that means no "heaven on earth." But it also means less burning buildings and shoe bombs. It means less mass graves and plastic shredders. It means looking realistically at the world and trying to do what's right. We may not have a catchy slogan like No Blood For Oil, but we're on the side of good.

As Lileks says today: "I've never been one of those people who think that America should walk around like an elephant and crush everyone else into a thin red paste. But if the other side regards themselves as war with you, and victory is their objective, you're a fool not to pay notice."


The anti-war crowd is wrong in thinking that appeasing terrorists will make all our problems go away. But don't take my word for it; Zeyad is more of an expert.


OK, so the challenge laid out below is to read LGF for one week before I'll entertain any discussion about passive resistance.

So let's see what wonderful stories Charles Johnson has for us today. I see toy gun vendors peddling their wares for the approaching Muslim holiday, because what would the end of Ramadan be without weapons for man and boy alike? Oh, look. It's Ted Rall backing Howard Dean for President! And a French guy the authorities ignored was caught in Australia planning a terrorist attack. And we should all feel safe about the Roadmap to Peace, because Hamas only spends 10% of their time planning attacks. Whew, that's a relief.

So Sunday was actually a calm day at LGF. No honor killings, no crazy imams preaching death to Jews, no additional children to add to the Child Abuse Slideshow. But we've got six more days to go...


So Bush employed a homosexual Democrat as the architect of his ranch in Texas, invited him over to dinner often, and agreed with his suggestions for "'green' building techniques". This little personal story told by one of Andrew Sullivan's readers may help dispel two reasons for hating Bush: homophobia and anti-environment. But of course it never will. People will continue to believe whatever they want, despite any evidence to the contrary.

Sunday, November 23, 2003


The Best wrote yesterday about the differences between Americans and Europeans. I'm sorry I didn't read it until now, because obviously that's a topic I care deeply about. The thesis:

"European 'nations' are based on ethnicity, language or geography. The American nation is based on an idea, and those who voluntarily came here to join the American experiment were dedicated to that idea. They came from every possible geographic location, speaking every possible language, deriving from every possible ethnicity, but most of them think of themselves as Americans anyway, because that idea is more important than ethnicity or language or geographical origin. That idea was more important to them than the things which tried to bind them to their original nation, and in order to become part of that idea they left their geographical origin. Most of them learned a new language. They mixed with people of a wide variety of ethnicities, and a lot of them cross-married. And yet we consider ourselves one people, because we share that idea. It is the only thing which binds us together, but it binds us as strongly as any nation."

When I was in college, we had to conduct a survey for a Language and Ethnicity class. I developed a survey and wrote a paper called What Makes an American. I surveyed a mix of American and international students to find what they thought constituted American-ness. The result? Citizenship. More than where you were born, where your parents were born, how well you speak English, or any other factors. Well, except for the write-in factors.

Here's what I wrote in 1999:

"Far more important and interesting than the numerical values is what the respondents wrote in the 'other' category (see Appendix). Those who did supply an extra category tended to fall into one of five groups. These included additional information about language use (such as the amount of time they spend speaking English), length of time in the United States, views on politics (with a special focus on liberty and patriotism), and culture. The fifth, overwhelmingly added as a factor of how American someone is, was the person's desire to be American. 'How much they want to live in America' and if 'they regard themselves as or want to be American' were the majority of 'other' responses. This is congruent with the idea that there is no real American identity and that American-ness is more a state of mind than an actual feature of a people. The fact that anyone can become an American, that the most important factor is the document itself, hinges on the idea that the immigrant is becoming an American because he wants to. Indeed one student even wrote 'we're a melting pot, we're all American.' The official Immigration and Naturalization regulations even lend themselves to this desire. There are indeed certain statutes pertaining to residence, but the presence of required knowledge of history, government, and English represent a desire to be a part of a greater whole, to be part of a nation of people who are bound by their desire to be bound. The Oath of Allegiance also demands an unfailing loyalty and love for the country in asking that the immigrants 'absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign' prior ties and that they 'support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America'."

I still have my raw data saved, and I'm again going through the responses students wrote:
"whatever someone considers themselves"
"how accepting of American culture values"
"the extent to which they assert their american-ness, their sense of belonging"
"where they regard themselves as or want to be American"
"attitude about citizenship"
"love of liberty"
"feel towards country"
"how much they want to live in America"
"pursuit of the American dream"
"their loyalty"
"my ethnicity is designated by my desire to live in the U.S. and pride in the country"
"understanding of the way our country works" (this one written by someone who identified himself as Czech, but still wrote "our" country)

The Best goes on to say:

"That is a difference so profound as to render all similarities between Europe and the US unimportant by comparison. But it is a difference that most Europeans are blind to, and it is that difference which causes America's attitudes and actions to be mystifying to Europeans. It is not just that they don't understand that idea; most of them don't even realize it exists, because Europeans have no equivalent, and some who have an inkling of it dismiss it contemptuously.
It is that idea that explains why we think being called 'cowboys' is a compliment, even when Europeans think it's an epithet. It is that idea that explains why we don't care what Europeans think of us, and why European disapproval of our actions has had no effect on us. It is that idea which explains why, in fact, we're willing to do what we think is right even if the entire rest of the world disapproves."

I swear I wrote my post on Bush vs the Royals and my extra comment about cowboy being a compliment before I read USS Clueless today. But that's obvious. These ideas don't need to be plagiarized; anyone who "gets it" already knows these things. Anyone who truly understands what it means to be an American will know that what I wrote in a janky little college paper in 1999 is as true today as it was then. Anyone who truly grasps what America stands for inherently understands the cowboy symbol, the meaning of American oaths, and the fact that American citizenship is based on an idea instead of geography. We just know these things, and that's why sometimes it feels like we're banging our heads against walls trying to explain them to others.

Den Beste got a response to his post from a Spaniard who is really an American at heart. This Spaniard "gets it", moreso than many Americans I know.

"I just don't care about the criticism I receive every day, because I know the cause I defend is right.
Now the thing is, that all this time I have felt as if I was "in the wrong place". Being the only one with one idea, while virtually all the people around me (in fact, all the europeans) is against it, makes me feel as if I was not from there. But then, if not Catalan, Spanish or European, what am I???
I haven't had the complete answer to this question until today, when I read your article. Now I do know it.
I'm American. In the wrong place, far from home, but American.
And, sincerely, that's an honour."

No, sir, it's an honor for us to know there are people like you out there. People who know which side of the fight they're on. People who know that standing up for what's right sometimes means standing alone.

Which brings me to Anger.

Some of you know I've been involved in a debate for weeks with an old friend from college about my political views. This debate still rages. (I've already written on it here, here, and here.) I needed yesterday alone to think about anger.

My old friend accuses me of being the most angry and extreme person she's ever encountered. She even took the passion and anger I channel into my writing and made a comparison I'll never forget: "Anger and hate and fear is what made those men fly those planes into the trade centers...I pray that you let go of your anger for I believe it will never bring peace to this country or this world."

She doesn't get it.

I write often about laser beams, because that symbol has helped me gain perspective. On September 11th, I wrote a long email to family and friends about what the two-year anniversary meant to me, especially as a military wife. I read everything that all my favorite bloggers said that day and felt the same emotions they felt. I also had a different friend from college who has her own blog, and I went to see what she had to say on that momentous date. Nothing. I tried all of her links, and no one had even mentioned September 11th. I tried all of their links, racing through the internet trying to find anyone in their circle of "liberal" friends who thought that this date still held significance. I found one person who said that he had written a post about September 11th but then deleted it because "it is important to remember the events of 9/11, but let's not dwell on them."

I got so angry.
And then I found Nelson Ascher's post.

It stays at the top of my list of crucial reading, and I don't see anything bumping it out of the way. It has brought me great comfort ever since I read it.

"On this side of the world it has been 911 again for over 6 hours. I swear I'd rather not write anything today. I'd rather remain silent and just spend the day feeling that my anger and hatred are alive and well. They're stronger indeed. I also know I should avoid reading much today, because many, probably most things that are and will be published will make me even angrier. And the problem is not that I don't want to be angrier: I do want. The problem is that I do not want to waste a miligram of my anger on all the idiots who have been getting ready to show us how idiotic they are. We're at a point where to be too angry at, say, Chomsky and the BBC, Old Europe and ANSWER, second and third rate entertainers and academics is to give them a kind of victory. They deserve disdain. Anger needs to remain concentrated like light in a laser beam, we must direct it toward its rightful target: Islamofascism first and foremost. If we spend too much time getting mad at those who are but idiots we run the risk of forgetting, even if only for a second, that it is the Muslim/Arab religious fanatics who are the ENEMY. In a way, that's the idiots' main weapon: to attract a wrath that could be more usefully directed to the really dangerous enemies. Whenever we're not thinking about the Jihadists we are losing some very precious time. And anger."

My anger has grown concentrated, like a laser beam, like Ascher proposed. I feel that anger burning inside of me every day when I read Little Green Footballs. I feel the anger when I watch the Palestinians dance in the streets, when I look at the Child Abuse Slideshow, or the Terrorism Promo Videos (now deleted but forever burned into my brain) that promote killing our President and soldiers. Writing my blog is a way for me to release that anger and hopefully connect with others who feel as I do. It is a way for us bloggers to remind each other that there's a reason we write: we're in a war of ideas, and as often as imams and Arab media spread theirs, we'll fight with anger and passion to spread ours. And it's a way for us to fuel our precious anger so that another September 11th will never happen.

There's a bumper sticker that says "if you're not outraged, pay attention". I changed my blog's header a few days ago to echo this sentiment: if you're not angry, you're not paying attention. That's how I feel when I encounter idiotarians or debate with my old friend. If you're not angry, you don't know what's going on in the world. If you tell me that the solution to the world's problems and the war on terror is to read more Ghandi and Dalai Lama, you're not paying attention. If you say that my anger and hatred is the same as that which drove terrorists to slam planes into buildings, you don't get it. If you say that we should "fight terror with knowledge. Fight terror with compassion. Fight terror with non-violence resistance" then you need to spend one week reading LGF and then maybe we'll talk. And if you think that my anger stems from having to live apart from my husband while he spends a year in Iraq, you haven't been listening to anything I've said.

But I need to re-focus. Sometimes I too feel like our Spaniard, "Being the only one with one idea, while virtually all the people around me is against it." But that is a distraction from the true target of my anger, the laser beam I have worked hard to focus, and I need to take his wise and eloquent words to heart:

"I just don't care about the criticism I receive every day, because I know the cause I defend is right."

Saturday, November 22, 2003


Sorry I didn't write anything today. No excuse, really; I just needed some time away. I have a lot of things on my mind, and I'll get them down in post form soon.

To pass the time, continue reading Bill Whittle's High Altitude Posts...

Friday, November 21, 2003


Tim's had enough media spin too.

And just try to read this account of a trip through an Iraqi prison and not be angry. Why doesn't this get noticed by the media? Or protested by the peaceniks?
"Saddam took the life of about 300 Iraqis a day by hanging them. The 'Death Room' had these huge rings welded to the ceiling. They had huge metal trap doors that would just clang after they opened. The whole prison could hear the doors clang open. If the people didn’t die, they would be dropped down to a floor below and then thrown into a room and gassed."


Here's an article on the training my husband has been doing for the past month. He said it was quite useful; every day of training was Mogadishu, so it can't get any worse than that in Iraq.

Lord, I hope not.


So it looks like about 70,000 people max. came out in London to protest Bush. That's nothing...
In September over 400,000 in London protested a ban on fox-hunting.
And last week 100,000 in Berlin protested against Gerhard Schroeder...

As Instapundit rightfully points out, why don't these make the headlines?

The saddest part about the protest in London is that the protestors made the President's visit so dangerous that he couldn't even go through with his "plan to place a wreath Wednesday at a memorial for victims of Sept. 11, 2001." I find that really upsetting.


If you want to see the difference between Old Europe and the USA, read what happened when President Bush went to London. It's wonderful. I know the author probably didn't intend to write an allegory for American-European relations, but it couldn't have been more perfect...

Gosh, I can't even find a money quote. You have to read the whole thing.

I imagine the reporter was subtly poking fun at President Bush, but it had the reverse effect on me. Given the choice between hanging out with President Bush at his ranch and sitting with the stuffy Queen "amid Corinthian columns and gold-enriched pilasters, before a red velvet throne used for the coronation of King Edward VII", I'd choose the former in a heartbeat.

Here we have the most powerful man in the world, joking about how he had to rent a tux because he doesn't own one and fumbling with ten pieces of silverware. Next to him sits one of the most powerless figureheads in the world (ignoring for a moment the fact that her signature is needed on every law in the UK) being the complete center of attention and decked out like...well...royalty. It's laughable, actually. And it's the perfect symbol of the vast cultural differences between Europe and the USA.

We don't have anything that can compare to royalty. We can't even fathom it. Once in my Swedish class we were made to debate whether Sweden should still have a royal figurehead in this day and age, and the teacher couldn't get anyone to seriously argue for the pro-royalty side. It was a joke to us. Tell an American that he'll pay taxes so that someone who shares blood with some long-dead guy gets to live in luxury and travel around the world shaking hands, and that American will likely a) laugh at you b) spit on you or c) shoot you. We couldn't even understand how there could be anything to say on the pro-royalty side, except for the fact that Princesses Victoria and Madeleine are kinda cute.

Europeans, on the other hand, can't understand how someone who prefers jeans and Coke could be the most powerful man in the world. Someone who's intelligence is constantly called into question. Someone who barely graduated and is only president because of his daddy. Someone who doesn't listen to Old Europe's two cents on everything. Someone who is...so definitely NOT royalty.

And, personally, I wouldn't have it any other way. I'd take a President Bush over a Princess Diana any day of the week. And you can quote me on that.


And if Admiral Quixote's graph makes as much sense to you as it does to me, Bush is gonna be President for a few more years.


I was thinking today in response to homebru's comment that, to me, the symbol of a cowboy is one that we trust. For me it's higher than policeman and maybe even firefighter. Maybe it's old Western movies, maybe it's the feeling of nobility and independence, maybe it's growing up in Oklahoma and Texas, but the cowboy archetype is one that I instinctually trust and respect. It's funny to me that others in the world use it as an insult.


I love reading about Gnat, but I love it even more when Lileks gets mad.
And he's mad today.
He even agrees with Michael Moore; go check it out. Don't worry, it's not what you think.

Me, I have to take a few hours to digest the fact that someone's email just compared me to Mohammed Atta.

Thursday, November 20, 2003


Amritas has been busy pointing stuff out to me. I think he's finally realized that he gets two hours of sleep per night and I get eight, so he's hinting about interesting stuff and hoping I'll take the bait and write about it so he doesn't have to. (Proof? See comments under this post....) I'm happy to oblige though, and he can add or subtract as he sees fit.

Amritas find #1:

Until I got myself entangled in the Army, I never gave a thought to Veterans' Day. I remember the first Veterans' Day when I was dating my husband and his ROTC served lunch at the VFW. That was the first time Veterans' Day meant anything to me as an American. But a year prior when I was in France, it was an enormous deal for the elderly. I have a very distant relative from Lorraine that I happened to be visiting that weekend, and he and his brother (both octogenarians) proudly took me to the American cemetery nearby and introduced me to everyone we passed as their "American cousin". Of course, their other brother died in the war and they were from Lorraine after all, so they knew the value of Joe and Tommy's sacrifice. 11 November seemed much more serious to the Europeans because that date was so much more tied to their continent's history. Most Americans don't even know there's a holiday in November besides Thanksgiving.

But apparently any celebration of Veterans' Day is too much for some (via Joanne Jacobs). An editorial in San Jose reads:

From my home in downtown San Jose it was an easy walk to Market Street to watch the Veterans Day Parade -- flags, old soldiers, bugles and drums, all giving expression to my own patriotism, especially on this day.

But I left early. In the beginning, the middle, and I suspect the end, something olive green and sinister snaked through the parade. I had not expected it, not to that degree. It was the machinery of war. And from the cheers of the spectators, it seemed the glory of war surpassed the glory of the veterans.

Many veterans fought in wars, and it was guns and tanks that ensured their safe return. But it is one thing to say our thanks and another to so wildly cheer soldiers in camouflage pointing rifles, to applaud so vigorously the World War II entry that proclaimed, ``We did it then, we can do it now.''

I went to the parade to honor our soldiers that gave much and traveled far, not to glorify the wars that took them there.

In these days of yet another bloody conflict, I can think of ways to celebrate Veterans Day without glorifying war. Bring out more school bands, more Boy Scouts, more Sousa marching music, more baton twirlers, more kids waving American flags, more leaflets calling for improved veterans benefits. A parade like that --I think I might have stayed.

Ann Lencioni
San Jose

Commenters had much to say about this, including my favorite comment by Steve ("Her letter is about as irrational as wanting to celebrate a new house but being afraid to look at or even speak of the hammers and saws that were used to build it.") But what struck me about her letter was the imagery she used that seems so awfully biased and dishonest.

Consider this one telling phrase: "wildly cheer soldiers in camouflage pointing rifles". I was not at this parade, so I don't know what she really saw. But these must not have been real soldiers, because soldiers would not point rifles while marching in a parade. Either she's trying to prove her point by using scary language, or there was some float with people dressed up like soldiers toting guns (and to me it seems unlikely that they would allow "fake" soldiers wear the uniform in a Veterans' Day parade, but perhaps...) I don't know what "the machinery of war" is that she objects to, if there were real HUMMVs there or just paper-mache tanks or cannons, but Ann Lencioni should thank that "something olive green and sinister" for the peace and stability it has brought to our world for half a century.

As commenter Rita wrote, "I'm pretty much a peacenik, but I think the Vets get to say what they put in their parade."

Amritas find #2:

Also at Joanne Jacobs, we find a link to the Chicago Tribune article about critical thinking in a high school classroom:

The topic of class discussion was "Iraqification"--a term associated with the transfer of responsibility for Iraq's security from American soldiers to the Iraqi people -- and the students did not lack opinions on the subject.
Leading the Advanced Placement World History lab at Noble Street Charter High School in Chicago, teacher Joe Tenbusch asked his students at what time during the Iraq conflict more people have been killed.
"After we won," said Victoria Janik, 16, with a smirk, bringing nods and smiles of agreement from her peers, who had been pondering President Bush's possible motives for favoring Iraqification.
While some educators might find the exchange valuable--or, at worst, harmless--an outspoken group of social studies teachers around the country say such classroom scenes breed cynical, anti-American attitudes.
High school students, they argue, simply are not mature enough to engage in critical thinking. Teachers should focus on imparting a solid knowledge of history, economics, American traditions and government--in short, the ideals and values of a free society.

Joanne points out that there's no dichotomy here (you don't either teach thinking or facts); there's instead a relationship between how much you know about a topic and how well you can critically think about it. She adds, "In this case, the student is right in thinking that U.S. casualties (not "people") are a factor in the desire to give more authority to Iraqis. The question is whether she knows other facts. How many people did Saddam Hussein kill, directly and indirectly? How did the Occupation go in Germany and Japan after World War II? How did South Korea become a democracy?"

Her commenters begin a discussion of the capability of teachers to actually teach critical thinking. Reader Tom West aptly points out, "Possibly, just possibly, teachers have a wide range of opinions like the rest of the humanity. Some support the current government, some support the last, some support both, and some support neither. Teachers are not a monolithic lot. To teach critical thinking requires that you be able to explain both sides of an issue, even when you don't subscribe to both sides."

I can think of one instance when I tried to do this and did it well. I was actually quite proud of myself. I was teaching ESL at the University of Illinois, and we were doing a unit on persuasive writing. Since one of the major issues on campus is the Native American mascot there, I decided that this would be a topic that they should understand since they were students at the university but that the students (who mostly came from Korea and South America) wouldn't already have an opinion on. And since I had been heavily involved in the debate on campus and had read the entire Chief Illiniwek Dialogue Report to the Board of Trustees, I knew both sides of the issue like the back of my hand. I told my students that I indeed heartily supported one side of the issue, but that I would not tell them which side I supported, and that they were going to learn about both sides. We read the whole Dialogue, watched a video tape, reported on the protestors carrying picket signs through campus, and had a two-hour discussion where they asked me questions about what people on the campus believed. We covered both sides; for every question they asked, I reported what the pro-Chief and the anti-Chief people would reply. After our information gathering, the students wrote their persuasive papers on the stance they had developed (whether the Chief Illiniwek mascot should be retained or retired) and turned them in. The next class period we had an in-class writing assignment where the students had to write a one page paper saying whether they thought that I personally supported the Chief or not. The result? Half of the class guessed I did, and the other half guessed I didn't. And I never told them which side I was on.

The reason this worked is because I was determined to let these students decide for themselves. It didn't matter to me which side they chose, as long as they read about the issue and formed logical and informed opinions. And I didn't want them to cop out and write the "easy" paper, the one that agreed with the teacher. We spent an equal amount of time on both sides, but the dicipline had to be mine. I was the one who did the most work, having to argue for both sides equally as passionately and equally as strong. I had to be impartial, I had to keep secret my involvement in the debate, and I had to let the students learn, even if what they were learning disagreed with my opinion. I don't think most teachers are willing to do this. It's easier to be like Professor Cockroach and talk off the cuff about one's own opinions and side of the story. It's much harder to give a reasoned debate for both sides, and many teachers don't care enough about their students to want them to learn how to learn. They just want them to regurgitate. I think it's a real problem in education, and I think we're doing a real disservice to our students. Heck, I didn't learn how to learn until I started reading blogs and writing my own. Can we make blogging a school subject?

And Amritas find #3:

From his own site comes a very gutsy article written by a woman about how Jessica Lynch had no business being in the Army (money quote: "That some women are as able as some men in some circumstances hardly constitutes a defense for 'girling' down our military - and putting men at greater risk - so that the Jessica Lynches can become kindergarten teachers.") I basically agree with her, and moreso with Amritas' own comments on her article, even though these beliefs ruin my chances of ever being a tanker. We're highlighting women who have been in combat as though they are rare and special flowers who have been exposed to something dreadful (unlike the men who deserve to be there), but we're putting them there by having lower military standards for women than for men. I'd like to hear from any females out there who have served in the military to hear your take on this. I took one year of ROTC to fulfill my phys ed requirement (and managed to find my husband in the process when he took me out during an ROTC soccer game and landed me in the health clinic with a black and blue foot...) so that's my only experience with the Army physical requirements. I'm not sure the lower requirements for females help on the front lines though.

Of course, last night I had a dream that I was fighting in a walled courtyard in Israel, and we got surrounded by Palestinians from above the walls. They started throwing grenades down on us that for some reason didn't detonate on impact, until almost the entire courtyard was full of grenades and there was nowhere else to run. I felt an overwhelming sense of doom as I crouched down in a duck-and-cover position, and I woke up just as all the grenades detonated and blew me up. I snuggled up to my now-sleeping-at-home husband and vowed never to make fun of Jessica Lynch again...

Wednesday, November 19, 2003


Den Beste posted today about suicides among our soldiers. It's a terrible thing to have happen, but one of the remedies Den Beste wisely suggested was mail:

Another thing that helps is mail from home. It's perfectly fine if it's mundane and trite; it's a link back to normalcy for the soldiers. If you know someone who's serving there, write to them; write often; write regularly. Tell them what's happening in your life. Don't wait for something big to happen; keep writing. A letter from home is a lifeline, a promise that all the insanity around the soldier will eventually end, and a way of keeping hold of what "normal" life is like, because after a while it starts getting hard to remember. It also tells the soldier that someone cares, that he isn't just a piece of a machine, but still a person that someone misses. And when that mail stops coming, that lifeline breaks and hangs limp, leaving that soldier adrift, abandoned. So keep writing.

Even if he doesn't write back. He's busy, you know; there's a war to fight. email is good, but paper mail is better; soldiers carry their letters from home with them, and reread them when the situation is getting them down.

Don't write to him about what he's doing; he knows what he's doing. Write to him about the stuff he wishes he could do but can't: write about movies you've gone to see, and how your favorite football team should draw and quarter its quarterback but still managed to pull it out and win the big game, and about trips to the store, and what you bought, and about people you've talked to, and why the new television season is the worst ever. Think "Lileks writing about Gnat" and write about that kind of stuff. Write about all the things that you take for granted that a soldier in a combat zone can't do. He can read your letter, and vicariously do them through you. As he's reading, he's home again, if only for a few minutes. And he will read it, more than once.

There's never enough mail from home.

I know of at least one reader who regularly writes to soldiers. I have written to CPT Patti, but that's all. Immediately after reading this, I emailed my friend and asked for her husband's address in Iraq. I encourage all of you to write to one soldier. Find someone. A co-worker's kid. A nephew. Anyone. Email a military blogger and ask for an address. Write one letter during the Thanksgiving season and remind our soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors that we give thanks every day for their sacrifice.

And pass this on so that all of your readers do the same.
Let's flood Iraq with letters.


Cake mixes and frosting, on sale: $6
Time spent mixing and baking: 3 hours
Delivering 75 cupcakes to stinky boys who have been living in a tent for a month: priceless

The husband is officially back, though I have no proof of this yet. He tried to call my cell phone, which was in my bag inside a desk drawer. I was sitting here and thought, "Huh, something sounds like it's buzzing. It sorta sounds like a cell phone. Oh crap, it's mine." And by the time I got to it, he was gone. But at least that means he's here.

Ack. Phone...ringing...again!

He's at the unit, cleaning up. No one is allowed to touch any of the food or cupcakes until all of their inventory is accounted for. So 70 guys are staring at 70 cupcakes and can't have any. Poor things. But I'll get to see him in about two hours. Yay.

And naturally that means no blogging tonight. I'll be back tomorrow.
If you want something to pass the time while I'm gone, read Lileks' Notes From the Olive Garden.
It too is priceless.


Tim keeps me laughing and then keeps me proud.


If you are an old friend and you studied in France with me, I have an article for you to read. It's written by Andrew Sullivan and discusses many reasons the world hates President Bush. He writes without hostility, clearly and concisely, and at length about Bush's strengths and the irrational complaints about him. I urge you to read the whole thing; it summarizes many things we have been trying to hash out over email, but in that I-get-paid-to-write-well way.

London Calling

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


I have a couple of things to say, but unfortunately they won't get said tonight. We didn't get ourselves organized until just now that we should have food ready for when the unit comes home tomorrow. That puts me on Cupcake Duty tonight. No big whoop, I just have to make 60 of them. He he.

More blogging later.


David over at Medienkritik is trying to keep Germany honest. He publishes a graph comparing the number of Iraqi applications for political asylum in Germany before and after the coalition-led war. Can you guess what he found? The German Interior Minister even says "at the time and in the near future political persecution in Iraq can be ruled out", but apparently no one in Germany is listening to reason. David did say that most of his readers turn out to be Americans...


RightWingNews makes a really good point:

"Never Forget That Most People Don't Care About Politics
Oftentimes, we political junkies forget that not everybody shares our interest in politics. To the contrary, a lot of Americans, probably most Americans, couldn't care less about what the latest hot political topic is. If you want proof of that, you need look no further than this Gallup Poll.
Before I show you these numbers, I want you to think about Al Franken and Ann Coulter. Both of them are huge names in political circles right? Franken & Coulter have had top selling books, both are going to be familiar names to every person reading RWN...and yet, a lot of Americans have NO CLUE who they are. Want to see some numbers? According to Gallup, 49% of Americans have never heard of Al Franken and 69% have never heard of Ann Coulter. Keep those numbers in mind the next time you start to get antsy about how some scandal is perceived or why some big news isn't resonating with the public. The truth is that most people just aren't paying attention..."

I have been thinking about this since I read this article via Instapundit yesterday about how bloggers get sucked into their own world where one "assumes that not only do you read blogs, you're on a first-name basis with the hip dudes and dudettes who run them." If you read my blog, you'd better know who Den Beste, Reynolds, Johnson, Green, Sullivan, Ascher, and Lileks are because I name-drop like nobody's business. You should know that Amritas and Marc are the same person, that CPT Patti is run by a man named Tim, and that Nelson Ascher is the reason I constantly refer to laser beams. No links here, people, this is a test.

When I sometimes feel I'm doing too much linking and not enough thinking, I realize that not everyone is reading all of the blogs on my sidebar every day like I do. The problem is that my reference base keeps growing. Now I also have to keep track of grey hawks and rest stops, and since I just put a web-stats button in last night, I now am retracing everyone's steps and visiting all the new blogs that have linked to me for one reason or another. This afternoon I'll have to figure out why they call him al.

I wonder when we'll all get tired. Sometimes I try to get perspective: I'm 26 years old; will I still be devoting six hours to one post when I'm 30? When I'm 50? Will I run out of steam when I hit my blogoversary? What about the day far in the future when a big-name blogger passes away. Will the 80,000 people who visit Instapundit every day mourn? Will the media even notice? If 49% of Americans don't know who Al Franken is, will they know who Den Beste and Reynolds are?

The next time someone asks me who I'd eat dinner with, living or dead, and I say Marc Miyake, will they look at me like I'm crazy?


Our soldiers know what the media is doing to them. And it's payback time...


Andrew Sullivan found that some Italians have started a collection among Europeans to raise money for Iraqi resistance. They have raised over $14,000 so far (and will probably get more now that they've got free publicity) and admit that this money might be used to buy weapons that insurgents can use against coalition forces. I don't even know what to say.


Someone asked me yesterday why I don't seem to have much compassion for people, not for the mother who didn't want her son to have a military funeral or for people who disagree with me. I reply that I do indeed have compassion, but I concentrate it on people who deserve it a whole lot more than grandstanders and hypocrites.

I have compassion for all of these soldiers who have been wounded since we started fighting back after Sept 11.

I have compassion for this man who was forsaken by the UN. I cried for two days when they hauled him away.

And I have compassion for this Iraqi who has started yet another new Iraqi blog:

I don’t know really know why Saddam’s regime lasted for over three decades, but I am sure as an Iraqi who survived that period that there’re no legal or moral justifications for it to remain.
I was counting days and hours waiting to see an end to that regime, just like all those who suffered the cruelty of that brutal regime.
It’s been really a disgrace chasing the world ,the world of the 21st. century, reminding it how incapable it was to aid the oppressed and to sue those who dispised all the values of humanity.
Through out these decades I lost trust in the world governments and international committees.
Terms like (human rights, democracy and liberty..etc.)became hallow and meaningless and those who keep repeating these words are liars..liars..liars.
I hated the U.N and the security council and Russia and France and Germany and the arab nations and the islamic conference.
I’ve hated George Gallawy and all those marched in the millionic demonstrations against the war .It is I who was oppressed and I don’t want any one to talk on behalf of me,
I, who was eager to see rockets falling on Saddam’s nest to set me free, and it is I who desired to die gentlemen, because it’s more merciful than humiliation as it puts an end to my suffer, while humiliation lives with me reminding me every moment that I couldn’t defend myself against those who ill-treated me.
What hurt me more and kept my wound bleeding was that they gave Saddam a tribune so the skinner can talk, and offered him a diplomatic representation almost all-over the world to broadcast his filthy propaganda and sprinkle Iraq’s wealth on his supporters.
I really didn’t understand those countries demands to take away our misery. Did they really think that the sanctions were the cause?

We were not even human, Saddam wiped off our humanity , we were just numbers and a lot of Identity cards that we had to show wherever we went.
The Baath idea was this:
Believe me , we were living in the” kingdom of horror”.
Please tell me how could the world that claims to be civilized let Saddam launch chemical weapons on his own un-armed people?
Can anyone tell me why the world let Saddam remain and stood against America’s will to topple him?

Till when will the charts of human rights remain incompulsory , cancel them, because they remind you of your big disgrace.
Keep giving time and tribunes to regimes like those in Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Libya to justify their presence.
To me I don’t recognize your committees and I have no time to listen to that nonsense, I’ve got along way to walk building my country and helping my people forget the days of abasement.
You all owe the Iraqi people an apology.
What happened in Iraq was worse than the holocaust.

I feel plenty of compassion.

one hour later

It's that last sentence, isn't it? It sticks with you.
Your mind starts going um...ah...hmm...well...oh...usch.

You all know that I have a special place in my heart for the Jewish people, and I would never think of trivializing what they have been through. I thought about leaving that last line out, but I also cannot in good conscience censor a newly-liberated Iraqi; they've had enough of that in the past few decades. And he's paying dearly for his newfound freedom of speech: 95 comments that mostly sound like "well, we agree with you, but you can't really say that about the Holocaust."

He can say that now. He can say whatever he likes. He'll have to justify himself to the 95 people who are debating his words this moment, but he can make any comparison he likes. To him, he lived the horrors in Iraq, not those in Europe, and he has every right to feel angry. Hussein didn't kill nearly as many people as Hitler, but he did intend to ethnically cleanse. And we did let it go on for far too long, longer than the Holocaust. There is such a thing as "a" holocaust that is every bit as real as the one we deem worthy of the capital letter.

It irks us to see someone compare him suffering to the Holocaust, but we should be wary of thinking that the 1940s was the last time that something of that magnitude could happen. Stalin killed. Pol Pot killed. Hussein killed. These deaths are no less sacred than the deaths in Nazi Germany, but so far they don't have the historical significance.

This Iraqi is right: we should feel ashamed of ourselves. We sat by, again, and let people die and blamed it on sanctions and messed around with the UN while more people suffered. It is shameful. And I will respect this Iraqi's right to say whatever he wants with his newfound voice. We all have to work together to decide how history will tell the story of 1990-2003.

Monday, November 17, 2003


A mother refused to have a military funeral for her soldier son in protest against the war.
Disgusting. Divisive. Pathetic. Disrespectful. Sanctimonious. Sad.


An independent panel headed by Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari was created by the UN to investigate the August 19 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. Ahtisaari came back with a no-nonsense answer: UN imcompetence. He labeled "the UN security system as 'dysfunctional' but also referred to major shortcomings regarding 'qualified professionals ... internal coordination ... threat assessment ... discipline ... and accountability'." So what does the UN do with this research? Bury it.

"Many at the UN hoped that, confronted with this indictment, the secretariat would rise to the challenge and launch a process that would open the door to major reforms of the institution. It was not to be. On November 4, Annan decided to appoint a 'team' to determine 'accountability at all managerial levels' as it regards the Baghdad bombing. Many UN staff members, well versed in the art of reading between the lines of UN communiques, had one word to describe the decision: whitewash."

whitewash, transitive verb, a : to gloss over or cover up (as vices or crimes) b : to exonerate by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data

Tsk, tsk, UN.


Here's an article I can disagree with but still respect. David Aaronovitch doesn't really like Bush, but he also acknowledges the true relationship between the USA and the rest of the world:

"I don't want the Americans to go home. In fact I am terrified of what would happen if they did. Their going home in the past has often meant suffering for others. Sure, I want them to change. I want more consistency. I want Bush to stop tolerating the nastystans of Central Asia, to tell Ariel where to get off, to treat allies with more respect, to dump the hubristic neo-cons, to sign up to Kyoto, to reverse 'he who is not with me is against me' to 'he who is not against me is with me'. I would like acknowledgment of the mistakes and crimes of the past. I would quite like Bush to become Wesley Clark.
But our enemy is not America. It isn't America that gives the most effective support to Sharonic intransigence - it's Israeli insecurity that does that. It isn't America that sends ambulances to blow up aid workers or Istanbul synagogues. It is America, above all, that is bearing the cost of helping to create a new Iraq - a new Iraq which, despite the violence, is being born in towns such as Hilla and cities such as Basra. And yet some of our writers and protesters - betraying their own professed ideals - identify with bombers and not teachers, administrators and policemen who are building the country."

I disagree with almost everything he said about wanting Bush to change, but I can respect his opinion because he's not spouting knee-jerk anti-Americanisms. Aaronovitch may disagree with some American foreign policy, but he rightfully welcomes President Bush to the UK. That's disagreement I can respect.


Our friends at Democratic Underground are at it again. Remember the looney a few weeks ago who posted I Hope the Bloodshed Continues in Iraq? Well now there's a new poster (pointed out by LGF) who's running a very interesting poll.

(I'm copying the whole thing because these things have a tendency to disappear...)

Poll question: Who is most evil?

Osama - doing what he can to fight an evil nation that once helped his lot fight another evil.

Saddam - ditto. Did he really attack Kuwait to get their oil, or to keep the US from having it?

W - a man who openly supports what is basically evil in this country. (health care swindles, big corporation swindles, globalization swindles (also see big corproation swindles, tax cut swindles while spending exorbitant amounts of money and creating a debt we will NEVER get out of and showing he doesn't care about his own country), oil industry swindles, political/judicial swindles, you name it. What he supports is surely not GOOD, and if he wants to live in a black/or/white world, so can I. How isn't it evil, do set me straight.)

Guess who's winning?

Osama bin Laden = 25%
Saddam Hussein = 5%
George W Bush (who hasn't caught 'em yet, nyah nyah nyah-nyah-nyah) = 71%

Ho boy, that's rich. There are some geniuses over there at the Democrapic Underground. Their revisionist and irrational thinking is unbelievable. "Did he really attack Kuwait to get their oil, or to keep the US from having it?" Please.

Here are some more gems copied directly from the comments section:

"Id have to say Osama, when he kills innocent people he shows his hatred for us! I think he would actually like America and the freedoms we have, but cant stand Americans support for our foreign policy. Any thoughts?"

Sure, Osama hates that we didn't sign Kyoto. Man. And he'd love the USA, oh except for the fact that he says to his followers "We also point out that whoever supported the United States, including the hypocrites of Iraq or the rulers of Arab countries, those who approved their actions and followed them in this crusade war by fighting with them or providing bases and administrative support, or any form of support, even by words, to kill the Muslims in Iraq, should know that they are apostates and outside the community of Muslims. It is permissible to spill their blood and take their property. God says: "O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other." But I'm sure he'd fit in just nicely here. He just loves freedom and all.

"Many military commanders and terrorists have killed civilians, few with greater efficiency than the USA in Vietnam. I suspect Osama would have preferred to target U.S. military bases, but they're better protected."

Sure, that's why bin Laden himself said in his Dec 2001 videotape "We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. (...Inaudible...) due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for."

"Saddam Hussein murdered his own subjects - not to advance a cause but to keep his miserable carcass in power. Similarly, George W. Bush is busily trashing our civil liberties for the same purpose" [emphasis mine].

Similarly, what? What? This doesn't even make sense. Hussein murders people to stay in power. Bush uses the Department of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act as tools to try to root out terrorism (which has nothing to do with staying in office). Similar, my ass.

"Personally, I don't know if Osama hates us because we're not as fanatical about his religion as he is. Or if he really has studied our country to any great detail and how our actions are destructive in nature. It would be nice if he told us why, not that we'd do anything to change anyway..."

He has told us, many times, the reason: we're infidels. He said in his tape from Nov 2002, "The incidents that have taken place since the raids of New York and Washington until now -- like the killing of Germans in Tunisia and the French in Karachi, the bombing of the giant French tanker in Yemen, the killing of Marines in Failaka and the British and Australians in the Bali explosions, the recent operation in Moscow, and some sporadic operations here and there -- are only reactions and reciprocal actions. These actions were carried out by the zealous sons of Islam in defense of their religion and in response to the order of their God and prophet." He also said, "We also stress to honest Muslims that they should move, incite, and mobilize the [Islamic] nation ... to establish the rule of God on earth." Establishing the rule of God on earth -- sounds like your first theory and not the second.

"Personally, I wish all warmongers would disappear for good right now. This means most governments would collpase and we'd be rid of all of the republican party and most of the democrats would vanish as well."

Yeah, we'd be so much better off with no governments in this world. Then we could all join together, holding hands and singing folk songs.

"In my opinion, Osama bin Laden doesn't even begin to compare to Saddam and George W. Bush. Osama is fighting for a cause, and those his tactics may be no better than Bush's, his is a better cause."

Yes, his cause is killing all Americans. He says, "Your wish to the crusaders should be as came in this verse of poetry: "The only language between you and us is the sword that will strike your necks." Lovely. I'm so glad to hear that you agree with him. Are you perhaps a socialist, because he said in Feb 2003 that he would use unholy socialists to advance his cause: "Under these circumstances, there will be no harm if the interests of Muslims converge with the interests of the socialists in the fight against the crusaders, despite our belief in the infidelity of socialists. Socialists are infidels wherever they are, whether they are in Baghdad or Aden."

"Saddam's use of torture is well known. Of course, Bush engages in torture by proxy - sending suspects to terrorist states, where they may be interrogated to Bush's standards.
To put it in perspective, compare Bush to Hitler. Hitler waged a war of genocide against Jews and Gypsies. If Bush tried to exterminate an entire race, he'd face an enormous backlash in a nation that's largely minority - with many whites siding with minorities.
But what if the United States' population was 95% white and 5% black, and Bush had even more power than he does now? Would he put the gas ovens to work?
If so, then he would truly vie with Saddam Hussein and Adolph Hitler for the title MOST EVIL, not just MOST DANGEROUS. Frankly, I think Bush WOULD exterminate entire races if he had dictatorial powers."

This one is almost not even worth comment. Please explain to me how Bush would send black people to the gas chamber when two of the highest positions in his cabinet are held by African-Americans. Frankly, I think you'd like to see Bush do this so that your hatred of him would be justifiable, and he would actually be evil instead of just a figment of your imagination.

"Who has caused more death and desperation? It's debatable. I threw my chip to GW."

President Bush caused more death and desperation than bin Laden (who admitted orchestrating the death of 3000 people in one day) or Hussein, who put children in jail and dumped 300,000 of his people into a mass grave. Show me one thing that Bush has done that even comes close to that.

"If Kuwait was stealing oil in Iraqi territory via slant drilling, then Hussein had every right to respond, though what I don't know is if he tried peaceful methods first. Invasion is definitely a significant step, one that civilized people would try to avoid...
That also means the daddy bush war was utterly uncalled for and also explains the death threat Saddam gave to daddy bush. It then makes the sanctions against Iraq uncalled for.
Saddam still did nasty things to his own people and was a dictator, but he was in his own soverign country and could do what he want, and the US cause of "liberation" wasn't founded until long after our invasion began so I don't buy that excuse for an attosecond."

First of all, apparently Iraq's complaint that Kuwait was slant drilling (drilling over into someone else's reserve) "was a very small part of Iraq's complaint. It was tacked on at the very end." Also, it has not been substantiated, and some argue that Iraq was the one doing the slant drilling. But, regardless, that does not excuse the invasion, the assassination attempt on Pres. George HW Bush, or the entire Gulf War. What kind of revisionist nonsense is that?

Most telling though is the last sentence: Saddam still did nasty things to his own people and was a dictator, but he was in his own soverign country and could do what he want. Apparently this commenter excuses rape, murder, and torture as long as they're committed within borders. PolPot, Stalin, no problem; it's their country. That is the ultimate in extreme Lefty irrational thinking. If the USA props up a dictator, they scream. If the USA overthrows a dictator, they scream. And if Bush does it, they scream bloody murder.

So Saddam has the right to start a war over some oil he thought Kuwait was stealing but was never proven. But the US doesn't have the right to go to war to stop him or again twelve years later because he hasn't learned his lesson and is still killing people. Disgusting.

I thought about trying to sabotage their poll by encouraging all of us to go over and vote for who we think is the most evil, but you have to be a registered user to vote, and CavalierX already read the fine print at the not-so-democratic underground:

"If you think overall that George W. Bush is doing a swell job, or if you wish to see Republicans win, or if you are generally supportive of conservative ideals, please do not register to post, as you will likely be banned."

And my friends wonder why I don't want to be associated with the Left.


I swear I don't know if Seb reads to keep me honest or to keep me pulling at my hair, but in his comment he suggested that the same types of things go on at Free Republic. So I decided to check it out. I went through three topics (partial-birth abortion, home schooling, Bush's trip to London) before I found anything that seemed extreme in my opinion (and I thought the abortion one would get extreme). The fourth one I checked out was posted as "George W Bush and his qualities" by someone called Liberalpoet. He's a liberal Scot who listed everything negative he has learned about Bush in an effort to engage someone in dialog about Bush's good qualities:

As a student residing in Scotland, I must say that the impression we get of George Bush is very negative. I was hoping that some of you Republicans could tell me his true qualities, as all I have to go on so far is;
A spoon fed rich boy, who failed in his businesses as owner of an oil company and the Texas Rangers.
A man who used his connections to go AWOL in the Texas National Guard, handily avoiding vietnam, despite finishing bottom in his class in exams.
Turned Houston into the most polluted city in America when he was governor.
Corrupted the elctoral system in 2000, winning despite having received over 500,000 less votes than Al Gore.
Pulled out of Kyoto and the World Criminal Court, imposed Steel tariffs to win votes, failed to ratify the treaty on landmines.
3 million jobs lost since becoming president, new jobs being created are 'Mcjobs'
1.7 falling below the poverty line this past year.
Turning a surplus into a 480 billion dollar deficit.
More private bankrupcies were filed in the last 12 months than ever before.
Appointed more millionaires to the cabinet than ever before in history.
Had 15 million peole protest worldwide on february 15 against a war that has cost countless billions, turned up no weapons of mass destruction, made possible allies turn against the US, fueled the fires of terrorism by yet another imperialist invasion, brought unemployment up to 70% in Iraq, set up the whole Jessica Lynch rescue operation for media purposes, lied initially to garner support for the war, moderately improved the lives of Iraqis, (the looters that is) and have been tied down in an occupation which, if it were to be seen through to its conclusion of establishing democracy in Iraq, will take decades (The elections coming up though, so probably not)
Sold the majority of Iraq's resources to American companies. (Illegally actually)
Done more than any previous president in history to threaten the environment, including denying the existance of Global Warming.
Dissolved more international treaties than any other President in US history.
Systematically removed the checks and balances that protect american citizen's from governmental agencies that pry too far into their lives, giving government unprecedented and unheard of access into private information.
Took a month off in August before presiding over the biggest security failure in American history the next month.

I just don't seem to have a very good impression of him, so I thought we could discuss his good points.

Now personally I think that if Liberalpoet were serious about wanting to engage some hard-core Republicans in honest debate about Bush's good qualities, he wouldn't have put his list in such negative terms. But despite that...

There were some cries of "troll" and a post of "I suspect you are parroting somethig you heard elsewhere." I personally liked "You have obviously watched FAR too much American network and/or BBC news coverage." The tenth post was by Admin Moderator who wisely said, "OK, refute it, teach a lib the truth. If he responds, you can have some debates. If he's a typical troll, we'll nuke, but let the thread up." Some people continued with "troll", one poster said, "But he only spews old lies and twisted Demo party line crap that has been argued over and over." but others tried to refute individual claims.

AnAmericanMother had this to say to Liberalpoet: "Other than saying that just about everything you cite is a lie, it's hard to know where to start. I'll leave it to others to refute point by point, but there's an overarching consideration you need to bear in mind.
Our Democrat Party, completely out of power for the first time in 50 years, has gone round the twist with respect to the president. Democrats hate the president, personally, with a visceral, blind hatred that seems to have suspended both their morality and their reason. To the point of jeopardizing national security in order to score political points on a heretofore neutral committee. But you will not read about that little contretemps in Scotland. The party apparatus is pushing (and in many cases creating) these lies, and the news media, overwhelmingly Democrat and liberal, is helping to spread them."

Someone named Dirtboy refuted line by line:
"OK, refute it, teach a lib the truth.
You know as well as anyone that they are impervious to truth, so what's the friggin' point? Just look at this crop of nonsense:
A spoon fed rich boy, who failed in his businesses as owner of an oil company and the Texas Rangers.
A failure with the Texas Rangers? The Rangers were a resounding financial success during GWB's tenure.
A man who used his connections to go AWOL in the Texas National Guard, handily avoiding vietnam, despite finishing bottom in his class in exams.
We've gone through this crap plenty of times already.
Turned Houston into the most polluted city in America when he was governor.
I never realized that car tailpipe pollution was the fault of the governor of the state.
Corrupted the elctoral system in 2000, winning despite having received over 500,000 less votes than Al Gore.
Do you really want me to try and explain the Electoral College to this idiot?
Pulled out of Kyoto and the World Criminal Court,
Kyoto was never ratified, and the Senate voted 97-0 to NEVER ratify a treaty like Kyoto. And we've seen plenty of reasons why the WCC is a joke.
I could go on, but"

RepublicanRed pointed Liberalpoet to an enormous pdf file: "The resume rebuttal. 45 pages on acrobat reader. If you are really interested, which I doubt since most of your points are pure bull and are known to be."

So, some people on Free Republic did try to talk to this Liberalpoet, despite the fact that he never posted again after they started answering his question. And the fact that he could start a thread at all is telling, since the Democratic Underground expressly states they'll pull any posts that disagree with their ideas. The worst thing I saw was several exclamations of Troll!, "You are not worthy of licking his boots", and that cat that looks like it's flicking people off.

Based on the research I just did for the past hour, I stand by my original assertion that Democratic Underground was way more hateful.

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