Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Freedom of speech in Europe.

A city court in Erlangen, Bavaria, gave Lutheran Pastor Johannes Lerle a one year jail sentence for comparing the annual abortion of 150,000 babies in Germany to the Holocaust. The single judge ruled that Lerle was a holocaust denier.

Fashion madness.



Thanks to Power Line.

Losing World War IV.

Newt Gingrich:

The tragedy of the current debate in Washington is that while the inarticulateness and the failing performance of the Bush administration have led the American people to desire a new direction, the politics of the left insists that the new direction be less than President Bush. Yet the lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, New Jersey, the JFK plot, the Algerian bombings, the Iranian nuclear program, the conflict in Lebanon and now the defeat in Gaza all point to the need for a war policy that is substantially bigger and more robust than Mr. Bush.

As the forces of modernity are being ground up by terrorism, our political process is not producing a Churchill or Roosevelt to rally the democracies but instead embracing advocates of surrender withdrawal and defeat. As women are being oppressed, we remain silent. Faced with the weakness, vacillation and inarticulateness of the leaders of Israel and America, the people see the violence as senseless, the bloodshed as repugnant and the current strategies as too flawed to continue to invest in them.

Gaza is the most recent example of where Western failure of imagination is being defeated by ruthlessness and determination.
...
The West will sooner or later have to confront several hard realities if it is to defeat its enemies.

First, terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah will have to be rooted out and destroyed. We do not today have the strategy, the doctrine or the techniques for defeating these kinds of organizations. In Iraq, after more than four years of effort, our current doctrine for population control and for effective local policing and intelligence is pathetic. To defeat ferocious committed and enthusiastically violent organizations like al Qaeda and the Taliban will take new energy, new drive and new determination on our part.

Second, the indirect strategies of propping up corrupt dictatorships have to give way to direct people-to-people help, securing private-property rights and direct financial assistance so we can improve their families' lives and they can be empowered to defend their neighborhoods from evil men. Hernando de Soto will be vastly more effective in designing this than all the bureaucrats at AID and the United Nations combined.

Third, the U.N. camp system of socialism with unearned anti-humanitarian charity has to be replaced with a totally new system of earned income and earned property rights to restore dignity and hope to every Palestinian.

Fourth, the current system of schools under both Fatah and Hamas control have to be replaced in their entirety with a system dedicated to genuine education and to teaching human rights rather than jihad and hatred.

Lastly, mosques can no longer be allowed to preach hatred and violence. The de-Nazification that seemed obvious in Germany in 1945 will have to be matched by a dehatred campaign today. The haters have to be defeated, disarmed and detained if the forces of peace and freedom are to win.
Read it all here.

The US political class: is it emulating its European counterpart?

Mark Steyn's take on what's happening in the US with the proposed immigration bill:

There's something creepy about a political class so determined to impose a vast transformative bill cooked up backstage in metaphorically smoke-filled rooms on a nation that doesn't want it. It's an affront to republican government and quasi-European in its disdain for the citizenry. It's hard to imagine Senator Trenthorn Lotthorn as an EU Commissioner but his position on this immigration bill is basically the same as that of Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg and European "president", on the EU constitution. When asked what difference the referendum result in France would make, "President" Juncker replied:

If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue’.

Same with the immigration bill. I think I say somewhere in my book that the first line of the European constitution is: "We the people agree to leave it to you the people who know better than the people." That suits the US Senate, too. They'll teach this one as a textbook definition of "bipartisanship": both parties gang up on the electorate.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

We are seeing here today but another manifestation of the bitter anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish hatred which animates Arab society. Who would have believed that in this year, 1975, the malicious falsehoods of the “Elders of Zion” would be distributed officially by Arab governments? Who would have believed that we would today contemplate an Arab society which teaches the vilest anti-Jewish hate in the kindergartens?… We are being attacked by a society which is motivated by the most extreme form of racism known in the world today. This is the racism which was expressed so succinctly in the words of the leader of the PLO, Yassir Arafat, in his opening address at a symposium in Tripoli, Libya: “There will be no presence in the region other than the Arab presence….” In other words, in the Middle East from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf only one presence is allowed, and that is Arab presence. No other people, regardless of how deep are its roots in the region, is to be permitted to enjoy its right to self-determination.
Read the entire speech by Chaim Herzog, former President of Israel and former Israeli Ambassador to the UN. here


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Europe fiddling.

Via Israpundit:

[Ambassador John] Bolton...was witheringly critical of the ongoing diplomatic contacts with Teheran, which he said were merely playing into the hands of the regime.

“The current approach of the Europeans and the Americans is not just doomed to failure, but dangerous,” he said. “Dealing with [the Iranians] just gives them what they want, which is more time…

“We have fiddled away four years, in which Europe tried to persuade Iran to give up voluntarily,” he complained. “Iran in those four years mastered uranium conversion from solid to gas and now enrichment to weapons grade… We lost four years to feckless European diplomacy and our options are very limited.”

Bolton said flatly that “diplomacy and sanctions have failed… [So] we have to look at: 1, overthrowing the regime and getting in a new one that won’t pursue nuclear weapons; 2, a last-resort use of force.”



Germany's new anti-American propaganda hero.

Murat Kurnaz is the new darling of the German mainstream media, because he is able to generate as much anti-American sentiments as needed to keep the mainstream media happy.

It is possible that Kurnaz is indeed, as Cmdr. Gordon suggests, playing by the al-Qaida playbook. But it is equally possible that he is playing rather to the German gallery: saying what his German handlers and interviewers -- and apparently some significant part of the German public -- want to hear. How else is one to explain the following bizarre nugget from the ZDF report as narrated by Felicitas von Twickel?: "Perfidious American soldiers [in Guantanamo] threaten to do to the Bremen-born Turk what the Nazis did to the Jews." Is it really plausible that it would occur to an American soldier to say such a thing? Or is this rather deliberately concocted balm for the German soul: encouraging the German public to draw forced analogies between wildly disparate historical events and thereby to diminish the enormity of the crimes for which Germany itself owes its sad renown?

Read John Rosenthal's fascinating account of this former Guantanamo (Gitmo) resident.


Blueberries, the wonder fruit.

The UK Telegraph reports that while blueberries are unlikely to cure Alzheimers, they "may provide a way to prevent, slow down or reduce the impact of such illnesses which affect the mental abilities but not the physical health of sufferers."

An Episcopalian Muslim: the ultimate heresy.

Regarding "Reverend" Redding:

The female Episcopalian priest’s "story illustrates that the split in the Episcopal Church isn’t about homosexuality, as the media says. The former Episcopal parishes aligning themselves with African bishops aren’t leaving a denomination with gay clergy; they are leaving a denomination with non-Christian clergy.

Redding is simply an extreme example in the Episcopal Church. But sadly she represents the widespread, politically correct belief that all religions lead to the same place—a message which is not only dead wrong as a matter of logic, but one which denies Christ. In short, it is the ultimate heresy.
Read the more about this here.



Chavez: Fatherland, Socialism or death.

Chavez of Venezuela calls soldiers to prepare for guerrilla-style warfare against the United States.


President Lech Walesa on Chavez.

Former President of Poland, Lech Walesa, was honored by Peru's President, Alan Garcia.

This is what President Walesa had to say about Venezuela's Chavez, as reported by El Universal:

I believe Chávez is a huge demagogue and populist who says one thing and does a quite different thing. He likes giving away what does not belong to him and tries to take advantage of people's dissatisfaction," he added.

"So far he has been successful, but the time of truth shall come and he will have to pay for what he has done," Walesa added.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dictators.

Opinion Journal has a great interview with Mario Vargas Llosa.

"...in a dictatorship, wouldn't literature be censored as well? "In undeveloped countries, censorship doesn't reach that point of subtlety, as it did in Spain for example," Mr. Vargas Llosa explains. "Because in undeveloped countries, the dictators are, well, functioning illiterates that don't think that literature can be dangerous."

Made in China.

Caveat Emptor:

China, a traditional source of cheap goods, has become an alarmingly top exporter of tainted and dangerous products to the United States, triggering concerns among consumers and regulators.

Reports of tainted pet foods, dangerous toys, fake drugs, toxin-coated monkfish and cosmetics, drug-laced frozen eel, illicit pesticide-laden mushrooms and other products have led to recalls and bans and potentially more stringent import and food safety laws.

Thousands of cats and dogs died recently after eating food made from wheat gluten spiked with melamine, a chemical used in fertilizers, prompting one of the largest pet-food recalls in US history. Made-in-China toothpaste have also been blacklisted, fearing it may contain a potentially deadly chemical reportedly found in tubes sold in Australia and elsewhere.

The concerns were compounded by the recall last week by a US company of 1.5 million of the wildly popular "Thomas and Friends" wooden train toys manufactured in China coated with potentially poisonous lead paint. Chinese-made fireworks for the July 4 US Independence Day celebrations have also made it onto the blacklist, with reports that at least two types of such explosives have been recalled amid worries they could "travel in unexpected and dangerous directions" and pose "special hazards to eyes and bystanders." "I think we have reached a point unfortunately where 'made in China' is now a warning label in the United States," said Democratic Senator Richard Durbin, a top campaigner in the US Congress for tighter food safety laws.
Read the rest of it here.



Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Quiet Man.

Our loss... They don't make movies like The Quiet Man anymore.










The world's ugliest dog.


More reaction to Poland's comment on Germany's Nazi past.

An excerpt from Der Spiegel:

There was shocked reaction to the Poles dredging up Germany's Nazi past at such a delicate stage in EU relations. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said it was an unfortunate statement and a distraction. "It's an absurd idea to base today's decisions on a very tragic history," he said. Estonia's Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said Europe could not continue "living in the past."

Hans-Gert Pöttering, current president of the European Parliament, and a German conservative, said he found Kaczynski's words "very painful." "Throughout Europe since 1989 there has been a great deal of goodwill shown, especially to Poland," he said. "That is why as a German, and as a European, it now hurts me very deeply to hear such comments." Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker called on the Kaczynskis to "jump into the present." In an interview with Financial Times Deutschland on Thursday he said: "You will not be happy in the long-run if you are always looking in the rearview mirror."

The Czech Republic is slightly more sympathetic to the Polish position. "Poland right now is in dispute with Russia as well as Germany. That's nothing new if you know history," Czech Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Vondra said this week.

Yes, we ought to look forward and not dwell too much in the past. On the other hand, it seems the critics of the Kaczynski brothers have forgotten that Poland was especially targeted to be obliterated of everything Polish under German occupation.

Poland lost 15-20% of her population during the war, the most of any country, and they came from all walks of life.


"The US is a nation built not on ethnicity, not on religion, not even on history but on an idea."

On the subject of anti-Americanism, here is an earlier article by Matt Frei at the BBC that basically tells us this feeling is certainly nothing new, and points to some obvious realities:

To be against the founding of America is not to be original but to continue a long line of misguided bigots who always resented the birth of the US. In the late 18th Century, the eminent Dutch scientist Cornelius De Pauw wrote that everything from America was "either degenerate or monstrous". He was considered the foremost expert on the New World of his time and, like many critics of America, he never went there once.

Then there's the Oscar Wilde quip, plagiarised by former French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau: "America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilisation". Anti-Americanism is as old as America and it continues to miss the point.

America did not come from nowhere. It was an offspring of Europe, the step-child of a corrupt, moribund post-feudal system. America encapsulated the principles of the Enlightenment - Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - wrapped them in the pursuit of happiness, underpinned them with an inalienable right and turned an IDEA into a country.

It took the missteps of the French and the English revolutions and it made them work.

Yes, there were terrible mistakes - the gross hypocrisy of slavery, segregation and McCarthyism, to name a few. But America found and keeps finding the solutions to its mistakes. It is a giant, rolling social experiment in constant pursuit of self-correction. As Bill Clinton once said: "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America."

In America the idea was ragged, rough and imperfect but it kept growing, it kept evolving and, if this isn't a vote of confidence, it kept attracting people, millions of them - Dutch pilgrims, Russian Jews, persecuted Egyptians, hungry Mexicans, uprooted Kurds, homeless Armenians, unloved and underpaid British film stars, now luxuriating in Hollywood. Ask them if they regret the founding of America!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Preferential citizenship for descendants of Islamic conquerors.

Thanks to Little Green Footballs:

A call for descendents [sic] of Muslims expelled from Spain in the seventeenth century to be given preferential terms for Spanish citizenship has highlighted the country's uneasy relationship with its Islamic heritage.
Read the rest of it here.



EU summit: the Poland-Germany saga continues.

Malta and Cyprus will join the Euro zone, but Poland rejected Sarkozy's suggestion to end the voting dispute rights. Read it all at Der Spiegel.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

The EU: Poland and Germany, continued...

Some roundup of commentary on Poland, Germany and the EU:

From Der Spiegel:
Looking in the Kaczynskis' Rearview Mirror
Europe Divided on How to Unite
A History of Hostility between Poland and Germany


From Fox News:
EU Leaders Hold Tense Summit

From the Financial Times:
Multiple answers to Europe's maths problem
Poland fears losing its voice
Poland cites war dead in EU row

From The International Herald Tribune:
Multiple answers to Europe's maths problem
European superstate? No way, say Britain and Poland, as leaders discuss new EU treaty

"The enemy starts shootouts using civilians as cover."

Soldiers taking a nap during the hottest time of day, in complete body armor and helmets.

Read Michael Yon's incredible reporting from Iraq.


The average IQ of first-born men is 103.2. Second-born men average 101.2.

I wonder what the senior female IQ is?

A male first-born sent this:

Boys at the top of the pecking order - either by birth or because their older siblings died - score higher on IQ tests than their younger brothers. The question of whether firstborn and only children are really smarter than those who come along later has been hotly debated for more than a century.

Norwegian researchers now report that it isn't a matter of being born first, but growing up the senior child, that seems to result in the higher IQ scores.


The EU, Poland, Germany, and the UK.

ThisisLondon.co.uk reports that the Polish Prime Minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski,

said his country was losing out in today's European Union as a direct result of the millions of deaths that followed its invasion by Germany in 1939.

"We are only demanding one thing - that we get back what was taken from us," said Jaroslaw Kaczynski at the opening of the EU summit in Brussels, chaired by German chancellor Angela Merkel.

"If Poland had not had to live through the years of 1939-45, Poland would be today looking at the demographics of a country of 66 million."



Why the anti-Americanism in Europe?

This is a two part series on anti-Americanism in European media. I would incorporate it into any presentation to Americans moving overseas: better to know beforehand what to expect.

In fact, this video should be watched by every American diplomat posted abroad, as well as all those engaged in "public diplomacy".

For more information on this European anti-Americanism go to Gateway Pundit and David Medienkritic.






The Middle East's "perennial temper tantrum".

Historian Victor Davis Hanson's take on the Middle East:

Here's why much of the region is so unhinged - and it's not because of our policy in Palestine or our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

First, thanks to Western inventions and Chinese manufactured goods, Middle Easterners can now access the non-Muslim world cheaply and vicariously. To millions of Muslims, the planet appears - on the Internet, DVDs and satellite television - to be growing rich as most of their world stays poor.

Second, the Middle East either will not or cannot make the changes necessary to catch up with what they see in the rest of the world. Tribalism - loyalty only to kin rather than to society at large - impedes merit and thus progress. So does gender apartheid. Who knows how many would-be Margaret Thatchers or Sandra Day O'Connors remain veiled in the kitchen?

Religious fundamentalism translates into rote prayers in madrassas while those outside the Middle East master science and engineering. Without a transparent capitalist system - antithetical to both sharia (Muslim law) and state-run economies - initiative is never rewarded. Corruption is.

Meanwhile, mere discussion in much of the region of what is wrong can mean execution by a militia, government thug or religious vigilante.

So, Middle Easterners are left with the old frustration of wanting the good life of Western society but lacking either the ability or willingness to change the status quo to get it.

Instead, we get monotonous scapegoating. Blaming America or Israel - "Those sneaky Jews did it!" - has become a regional pastime.
Read the rest of his piece here.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gaza.

Another view:

The news out of Gaza is actually not the latest history lesson that Munich-type land-for-peace propositions require us to restudy. What we need is an update to Baruch Spinoza. While nature may still very well abhor a vacuum, we now know beyond speculation that terrorism will thrive in one. Where once a democratic state “occupied” Gaza, a terrorist Fatah took over under the watchful eyes of the U.N. In less than two years, the even-more-radical Hamas blasted Fatah out of power and took over from there — in one of the bloodiest coups of the past decade. Now Hamas, with support from Iran, runs a mini-state on the border of Egypt and Israel.

...
Now is the time to take a history lesson about democracies withdrawing from lands tyrants lick their lips over. Again. The lesson no longer need be from the 1930s, or even the 1970s — when a forced U.S. withdrawal from Southeast Asia resulted in killing fields and slaughter. The lesson can easily enough be 2005, when Israel left Gaza. The world wanted Israel out of Gaza, just as so many now want us out of Iraq. Israel left Gaza, and the void was filled — but not by the laying of tracks for the Peace Train. Within two years, Iranian Hamas took over from Arafatian Fatah. Where many of us once warned that Fatah’s rule of Gaza would create another Libya in the Middle East, our warnings went unheeded, and, at the same time, the warnings were not alarmist enough: A new Iranian state in the Middle East is now in charge. Nice work. At long last, might we now absorb the lesson?

"The two-state solution has finally worked."

Daniel Pipes:

Internationally, Fatah and Hamas engaging in war crimes against each other punctures a supreme myth of modern politics: Palestinian victimisation. Further, as two Palestines squabble over control of, say, the UN seat granted in 1974 to the Palestine Liberation Organisation, they damage a second myth of a Palestinian state.

"The Palestinians have come close to putting, by themselves, the last nail in the coffin of the Palestinian cause," Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal observes.

A Palestinian journalist notes sarcastically: "The two-state solution has finally worked."

In contrast, the Islamist movement gains. Establishing a bulwark in the Gaza Strip gives it a beachhead at the heart of the Middle East from which to infiltrate Egypt, Israel and the West Bank. The Hamas triumph also offers a psychological boost for Islamists globally. By the same token, it represents a signal Western defeat in the war on terror, brutally exposing former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's short-sighted, feckless unilateral-withdrawal policy from Gaza as well as the Bush administration's heedless rush to elections.

Read the whole thing.



Antiques and mercury.

Careful with that antique clock:

"The silvery, skittering, and toxic liquid can be found in some antiques. Mirrors can be backed with mercury and tin; clock pendulums might be weighted with embedded vials of mercury; and barometers, thermometers and lamps may have mercury in their bases for ballast.

The problem is that mercury in old items can leak, particularly as seals age or when the items are moved, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."



A bad story with a happy ending.

Young Iraqi boys, some tied to their cribs, lie on the floor at a Baghdad orphanage on June 10, 2007, after they were discovered by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. A total of 24 naked and abused boys, ages 3 to 15 years old, were found in a darkened room without any windows. Many of the children were too weak to stand once released. A locked room full of food and clothing was found nearby.

Read Lara Logan's full report here and here.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The battle for Baqubah.

Read Michael Yon's entire account. He is embedded with the soldiers who are fighting there.

This war cannot yet be dissected because it still lives– wounded, angry, thrashing on the table, but alive. We can only hack into it, diagnose it, treat it, knowing each attempt at a cure affects the pulse. Doing nothing causes tachycardia. Much of what afflicts Iraq was here before America was born. But when we elected to perform surgery on this sick land, we used hacksaws and sledgehammers, and took an already sick patient and hacked off some parts while pulverizing others.

Meanwhile, there are stadiums full of people shouting at the doctors, threatening to fire them or revoke their licenses, or at the very least to cut off the lights mid-surgery. In the din of the mob, few seem to notice that the patient, screaming to be healed, is much more alive than dead. The patient roils in agony with every new cut, slashing at doctors and self. Some say we’ve done enough and it’s time for the patient to heal itself. Others are saying we should put it out of our misery, but surely this thing will live, and drag its mutilated self out of the hospital and follow us home, no longer seeking a cure but intent on revenge.

In their own words.

A direct quote from the Hamas charter:

For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails.

…The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! The enemies have been scheming for a long time, and they have consolidated their schemes, in order to achieve what they have achieved. They took advantage of key elements in unfolding events, and accumulated a huge and influential material wealth which they put to the service of implementing their dream. This wealth [permitted them to] take over control of the world media such as news agencies, the press, publication houses, broadcasting and the like. [They also used this] wealth to stir revolutions in various parts of the globe in order to fulfill their interests and pick the fruits. They stood behind the French and the Communist Revolutions and behind most of the revolutions we hear about here and there. They also used the money to establish clandestine organizations which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests. Such organizations are: the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, B’nai B’rith and the like. All of them are destructive spying organizations. They also used the money to take over control of the Imperialist states and made them colonize many countries in order to exploit the wealth of those countries and spread their corruption therein. As regards local and world wars, it has come to pass and no one objects, that they stood behind World War I, so as to wipe out the Islamic Caliphate. They collected material gains and took control of many sources of wealth. They obtained the Balfour Declaration and established the League of Nations in order to rule the world by means of that organization. They also stood behind World War II, where they collected immense benefits from trading with war materials and prepared for the establishment of their state. They inspired the establishment of the United Nations and the Security Council to replace the League of Nations, in order to rule the world by their intermediary. There was no war that broke out anywhere without their fingerprints on it…


Their scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present [conduct] is the best proof of what is said there… Within the circle of the conflict with world Zionism, the Hamas regards itself the spearhead and the avant-garde. It joins its efforts to all those who are active on the Palestinian scene, but more steps need to be taken by the Arab and Islamic peoples and Islamic associations throughout the Arab and Islamic world in order to make possible the next round with the Jews, the merchants of war.




Bolivia.

José Brechner's take on Bolivia's "first indigenous" president:


La idea del gobierno indigenista, es someter o integrar al blanco a su cultura, que es menos evolucionada. (Pensamiento análogo al de los musulmanes en relación con occidente). El final será irremediablemente la confrontación, porque es inconcebible que 3.000 años de sapiencia y progreso sean tirados por la borda, para ejercitar regresivos conceptos jurásicos de administración sociopolítica que se plasmarán en su nueva Carta Magna.

In other words, the idea of an "indigenous" government is to submit or integrate the whites to its culture, which is less evolved. (Analogous thought to those of the muslims in relation to the west). Confrontation will be the end, because it is inconceivable that 3000 years of knowledge and progress will be thrown overboard in order to run regressive jurassic concepts of sociopolitical administration that will give form to a new Magna Carta.


Venezuela's Hugo I, the Great Destabilizer.

Gateway Pundit posted José Brechner's warning about what's going on in South America. Excerpts of "Hugo the First – Emperor of the Idiots from the South":

Money takes precedence over conviction and anyone with enough, has a chance to influence the course of events. Today's great provider is Hugo the First, who – if he comes through, with his offer to invest in several pretentious continental energy projects to strengthen his ties with Tabare Vazquez, (Uruguay), Nestor Kirchner, (Argentina), and Lula Da Silva, (Brasil) accompanied by his incomplete clone, Evo Morales, (Bolivia) – will no doubt call himself Hugo I, Emperor of the Idiots of the South.
...
South America, with all the misfortunes it has experienced since gaining independence, has not yet absorbed the lessons of history. Its periods of democratic stability are relatively short, with the longest being that lived in Venezuela before the emperor's arrival. Chile seeks to continue the line of progress. Lula has learned from capitalist wisdom and the market economy. Kirchner in the long run, may have to exit through the window, like Alfonsin or De la Rua. Tabare Vazquez wants to keep everyone happy with a united front that is so broad that some are bound to be dissatisfied and he may have to look for further support from Colonel Chavez and Fidel Castro – the other director of the Caracas orchestra, who has always been popular with the Uruguayan and Argentinean leftwing.

Hugo I, the Great Destabilizer, is achieving his imperialist objective beyond the borders of Bolivarian countries. Latin America is going to suffer in ways it has not yet imagined. Later, after things have become much darker – as they inevitably will do, since the socialist formula always ends in disaster – and if the politicians fattened with Venezuelan oil money are tried and sentenced as a lesson for all demagogues and opportunists, maybe then the southern countries will learn to protect their freedom and their rights.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A 15-year old's tribute to our soldiers.


Thank you, Lizzie Palmer.



The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church, and the UN Human Rights Council.

(1) From The Seattle Times:


Redding, who until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for more than 20 years. Now she's ready to tell people that, for the last 15 months, she's also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Islamic prayers left her profoundly moved.
...
Redding's situation is highly unusual. Officials at the national Episcopal Church headquarters said they are not aware of any other instance in which a priest has also been a believer in another faith. They said it's up to the local bishop to decide whether such a priest could continue in that role.

Redding's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting.

(2) From Mark Steyn:

The other day, six Anglican archbishops called for the church to bless the unions of same-sex couples. The Anglican Church of Canada is about to have a big vote on the issue, and depending which way they swing it will either deepen the schism within the worldwide Anglican Communion or further isolate the Episcopal Church of the United States.

But never mind all that. What struck me was the rationale the archbishops came up with. This gay thing, they sighed. We've been yakking about it for years. Let's just get on with it, and then we can get back to the important stuff. "We are deeply concerned that ongoing study," they fretted, "will only continue to draw us away from issues which are gradually destroying God's creation – child poverty, racism, global warming, economic injustice, concern for our aboriginal brothers and sisters and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor."

(3) From UN Watch:
the proposal released today by Council President Luis Alfonso de Alba [of Mexico] targets Israel for permanent indictment under a special agenda item: "Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories," which includes "Human rights violations and implications of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and other occupied Arab territories"; and "Right to self-determination of the Palestinian people." No other situation in the world is singled out -- not genocide in Sudan, not child slavery in China, nor the persecution of democracy dissidents in Egypt and elsewhere. Moreover, the council's one-sided investigative mandate of "Israeli violations of international law" is the only one without a set term, to be renewed "until the end of the occupation." As the same time, the proposal eliminates the experts charged with reporting on violations by Cuba and Belarus, despite the latest reports of massive violations by both regimes.




Saturday, June 16, 2007

Dedicated to all on Fathers' Day...

Courtesy from The New Yorker.
From John Paul II:

Men as Husbands and Fathers

25. Within the conjugal and family communion-community, the man is called upon to live his gift and role as husband and father.

In his wife he sees the fulfillment of God's intention: "It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a helper fit for him,"(67) and he makes his own the cry of Adam, the first husband: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."(68)

Authentic conjugal love presupposes and requires that a man have a profound respect for the equal dignity of his wife: "You are not her master," writes St. Ambrose, "but her husband; she was not given to you to be your slave, but your wife.... Reciprocate her attentiveness to you and be grateful to her for her love."(69) With his wife a man should live "a very special form of personal friendship."(70) As for the Christian, he is called upon to develop a new attitude of love, manifesting towards his wife a charity that is both gentle and strong like that which Christ has for the Church."

Love for his wife as mother of their children and love for the children themselves are for the man the natural way of understanding and fulfilling his own fatherhood. Above all where social and cultural conditions so easily encourage a father to be less concerned with his family or at any rate less involved in the work of education, efforts must be made to restore socially the conviction that the place and task of the father in and for the family is of unique and irreplaceable importance.(72) As experience teaches, the absence of a father causes psychological and moral imbalance and notable difficulties in family relationships, as does, in contrary circumstances, the oppressive presence of a father, especially where there still prevails the phenomenon of "machismo," or a wrong superiority of male prerogatives which humiliates women and inhibits the development of healthy family relationships.

In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God,(73) a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife,(74) by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church.
"IF"
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

by Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling(1856-1936)

Speaking about crabs...we need to get our priorities right or we will end up boiling in the pot together with the crabs...

"Aftenposten's food writer Yngve Ekern has been charged with animal cruelty by animal rights group NOAH after an article about cooking crabs...
Food writer Yngve Ekern is sorry he offended animal rights activists. ...
Norway's Food Safety Authority will establish a committee to examine the question of what crabs can feel during the boiling."

What really happened in the Middle East?

If you are confused about what is going on in the Middle East, check out this 10-minute presentation.


And as to what is happening in Gaza...

Since the peace process began in 1993 with the Oslo Accords, that leadership made hardly a single effort to move Palestinian society toward peace and moderation. Fatah did have an attractive alternative it could have offered: We will get a state, return the refugees to live in it, develop our economy and culture and enjoy large-scale international aid in exchange for ending the conflict.

Instead it continued to glorify violence, spread hatred of Israel and America, and raise a new generation with a belief in eventual “total” victory and the extinction of Israel. After Arafat died, Fatah remained incompetent and corrupt but lacked a strong leader. Unable to obtain a state, unwilling to make peace and uninterested in governing well, Fatah dug its own grave. Why should anyone be surprised that Hamas replaced it? At most, Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and American pressure to hold fair elections only accelerated this process.

There has been another important lesson in this recent history: Most of the Arab states and movements need the conflict to continue. After all, what would mismanaging dictatorial regimes do without having Israel as a scapegoat? If, for example, Syria made peace with Israel in exchange for getting back the Golan Heights, it would be the beginning of the end for that regime. Within weeks, its people would be demanding human rights and free-enterprise economic reforms. The regime could not use anti-Israel and anti-American demons as an excuse to continue the dictatorship, deprive its people of rights and material well-being, and mobilize support. The same applies to radical Islamist movements seeking to gain power.

So let’s get this straight: There is no near-term solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. There is no Palestinian side with which a compromise agreement can be negotiated. Many Arab states seek to exploit the conflict. Others would like to make peace but are too scared, and it is to the West’s discredit that such states don’t believe that it can or will protect them.

Read the whole piece written by Barry Rubin. Thanks to Israpundit.


Viking Mickey Mouse.


Swedish archaeologists found the Viking precursor to Mickey Mouse during excavations at Uppåkra in southern Sweden. Read it all here.


The two Turkeys.

Currently in Turkey, there is, on the one hand, a great mass of people who leave their shoes at the door before entering the house; whose women cover their heads; whose men go out in the street in pajamas; whose teenage boys frequent coffeehouses while girls live under a completely repressive rule; people whose homes are lit with cheap florescent bulbs; who enjoy a type of music somewhere between folk and arabesque; who have perhaps never read a book, never danced, never been to a restaurant as husband and wife, never gone to the theater; who have little education and profess strong religious beliefs.

On the other hand, there are those who went to high school at Robert College, with its girls' lyceum; who have danced at college parties or weddings, who go to movies, who read books, though not a lot; who are relatively well-educated; whose taste in music ranges from pop to classical; whose homes are decorated relatively tastefully; whose women don't cover their heads; who may not permit their teenage girls to date but look the other way when they do; who believe in God but pay little attention to prayers; who drink alcohol in mixed company though they may not know much about wines; who follow newspapers, watch talk shows, feel they are more progressive than the first group and live largely Western lives.

...

The life-styles of these two groups are disconnected.
...

The first group has been despised, discredited, and pushed around throughout the years of the Republic. Now this group has become politically organized. It is large. And it now has the political power to win every election.

The second group is in the minority. And it currently has no chance of ever winning another election.

Read the rest of what Ahmet Altan wrote.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Origami crab and algorithms.

Smithsonian Magazine has a fascinating article on a laser physicist and former researcher with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Robert Lang, who is
a pioneer in technical and computational origami, which focuses on the mathematics behind the art.

...
As it happens, the science and art of complex folding holds the potential of solving problems in sheet-metal, collapsible structures such as solar panels for space applications, and robotic arm manipulation. In medicine, research is under way to develop new blood-vessel stents that can fold up for insertion into weakened arteries, then expand once in place.

Flaklands War / Guerra de las Malvinas.

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the end of The Falklands War. Here are some interesting observations about the legacy of the war, by a visiting professor in Argentina.

President Kirchner wanted to tell Mrs. Thatcher that the UK may have won the battle, because it is a great power, but it can never take away Argentina's reason and just cause because the Malvinas are Argentine and will return to Argentina through peaceful means.


"Quiero decirle a la señora Thatcher que nos podrá haber ganado una batalla, porque pertenece a una potencia poderosa, pero que nunca nos va a ganar la razón y la justicia de que las Malvinas son argentinas y que por la paz volverán a ser argentinas"...
Go here to read observations about Argentina by a libertarian.



The EU, Poland, and her neighbors.

Yesterday, Poland was being "intransigent" when it came to discussions about the EU Constitution... Today, Der Spiegel asks the question: does Warsaw want to derail the German EU presidency?

Austrian Chancellor Gusenbauer told the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday that the Polish government, led by President Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother Prime Minister Jaroslaw, may be unwilling to compromise because they don't want Germany to be the country praised for saving the EU treaty.

"One gets the impression," Gusenbauer said, "that Poland's leadership under the Kaczynski twins doesn't want to grant the Germans the success of injecting momentum into the reforms. They have harshly criticized the German (EU) presidency."

He also said that the Polish people were not completely behind their government. "Sixty-five percent are in favor of ratifying the treaty as it is. It is absurd: the most pro-European population has the most Euro-sceptic government."

Jihad in the 21st century.

Below are Part 1 and Part 2 of a film that examines the creation of the Mohammed al-Dura myth and its influence in fueling the rise of jihad in the new millenium.

The film was made by Richard Landes.






Poles and Jews.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski , a Polish Catholic from Warsaw, speaks his mind:

My life experiences, along with the fact that I was named a Righteous Gentile 40 years ago, and have been an honorary citizen of the State of Israel for the last 16 years, gives me the right, perhaps even the duty, to express my thoughts on an issue that has great importance for future ties between Poland and Israel, and between Poles and Israelis.

The relationship is good - even very good. Poland and Israel are probably on better terms today than when Israel was established, and Poland certainly has closer ties with Israel than it does with many other countries.

...
Poland is one of the countries still trying to lift themselves out of the deep rut created by years of dictatorships, from Stalin to Hitler, followed by years of repressive policies and trampling of citizen's rights. In March 1968, organized harassment of the Jewish community, for example, set off a large wave of emigration that left very few Jews in Poland.
...
Trust and friendship are essential for a better future. But trust and friendship (in that order - trust comes first, and later, perhaps, friendship) can only be built on the basis of tolerance for our sensitivities and our mistakes. The only form of tolerance that is unacceptable is tolerance for hatred and criminal behavior. Hatred feeds the stereotypes that have perpetuated discrimination against the weak in Europe for generations. Often, the weak were Diaspora Jews. Thus one would expect that people whose families came from the Diaspora would be hypersensitive toward stereotyping. The response to one negative stereotype will always be another negative stereotype.

In slightly under 60 years, Israeli society has painstakingly built an impressive country. We stand in awe of your accomplishments, and this is the spirit in which we educate our young people. By the same token, we would like to see your country free of rhetoric that is insulting to the Polish people, and certainly any slurs disseminated on an organized basis.

I am not targeting anyone individually. What I am talking about is a general grudge against the Polish people. Any Jew who has suffered at the hands of the Poles has the right to speak out, and the same is true for any Pole who feels hurt by the Jews. But it is better that we stop and think: What purpose does this serve? Is it not preferable to dwell on the good memories? That is my opinion, as a human being and one of the founders of Zegota, the Council for Aid to Jews, in occupied Poland in 1942.

Read it all: The tolerance must be mutual .







Polish cavalry and story-telling.

Here's a picture of what the famous hussars looked like.
The hussars are considered to be the world's most effective fighting force, since, they were undefeated for over two hundred years. The Warsaw Voice reports that

author Jonathan T. Scott has written a novel which features historical Polish figures alongside fictional characters. The adventures of captain Kavalevski and his adopted son Alexander take place in the latter half of the 16th century, the most prosperous period of the Polish-Lithuanian
Commonwealth. The fast-paced plot is set against real events like the war with the Duchy of Muscovy which King Stefan Batory waged in 1579.

The beginning of the book looks familiar, with a military unit patrolling remote outposts in search of gangs prowling the borders. It is a bit like a western, except that instead of American cavalry the reader gets hussars, a kind of Polish heavy cavalry, and instead of Native Americans wreaking havoc in pioneers' settlements, the book has Tartars, Turks and the army of a Moldavian duke.

The author says it was his fascination with hussar armor on a visit to the Polish Military Museum in Warsaw that gave him inspiration to write the book.
The book is called On Wings. Sounds like a good book for summer reading.


The new religion, environmentalism?

President Klaus' take:

As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning.

The environmentalists ask for immediate political action because they do not believe in the long-term positive impact of economic growth and ignore both the technological progress that future generations will undoubtedly enjoy, and the proven fact that the higher the wealth of society, the higher is the quality of the environment. They are Malthusian pessimists.

The scientists should help us and take into consideration the political effects of their scientific opinions. They have an obligation to declare their political and value assumptions and how much they have affected their selection and interpretation of scientific evidence.

President Klaus will most likely join the cast of characters in the cartoon of an environmentalist's Dante's Inferno, which appears on the hard copy of the green issue of Vanity Fair.

Here's more information on global warming .



Thursday, June 14, 2007

Poland, a mystical land.

Go here to read about it!


History made simple to understand: a must-read by George Jonas, which is reproduced below.

"Schoolboys in my native Hungary used to recite an old ditty. It conjured up emotions ossified in the seams of time.

Stork, stork, ciconia,
What makes your foot bleed?
A Turkish lad is slashing it
A Magyar lad is mending it
With a fife, a drum and a fiddle of reed.

The wounded stork’s song was a fragment of tribal memory bobbing to the surface from the collective unconscious of a great historical hurt. It was a bitter lay, a denunciation of the Ottoman Empire, the Xanadu of imperial Islam. The Turks had occupied Hungary for six generations. Although the 150 years of Turkish rule occurred during the 16th and 17th centuries, the Magyars never quite got over it.

The national bird’s lament was a manifestation of recollected trauma, but as the words cast a spell of their own, on the playground we repeated them oblivious to their overtones of ethnic and civilizational hostility. Apart from the puzzle of how to mend a bleeding foot with musical instruments, we were enticed by the alliteration of the first line. It rendered the Latin word for stork—ciconia—as gilice in Hungarian, to harmonize with the Hungarian word for stork—gólya—and made the first line go: Gólya, gólya, gilice. Mournfully pronounced as goh-yah, goh-yah, ghi-lih-tzeh, the words burrowed into our minds. The fiddle of reed (no one knew what a fiddle of reed was, but it sounded magical) was icing on the cake.

The melodious ditty would be viewed as offensive to “diversity” today. We meant to give no offence to anyone—none of us had ever seen a Turkish lad—but we did associate the song with what we had been told about the Turkish occupation of Hungary—the Turkish hódoltság or bondage, as we invariably referred to it, just as Palestinians refer to the creation of Israel as nakba, or catastrophe.

Being in thrall to the Turk meant being in thrall to Islam. This was worse than being in thrall to the German—Hungary’s other great historical trauma—for Germans were at least kin in Christ, while Turks were Muslims.

Having made the mistake of settling in a bad geopolitical neighborhood, the Magyars would come to see themselves as defenders of the West, to which they did not belong, against the East, to which they did.

Christianity’s roots in Hungary were not very deep, but they did go back to the 9th century (with pagan revolts extending into the 11th). The Magyars, a coalition of seven tribes of nomadic horsemen from Siberia, kept riding west until they emerged from familiar Asia and found themselves in alien Europe. This happened shortly before the end of the first millennium. The Magyar chieftains concluded that they had no choice but to adopt Christianity and settle in the fertile lands along both banks of the river Danube, in a region the Romans had called Pannonia.

The chieftains did not realize that they had picked a natural conflict zone. They pitched their tents in the borderlands between civilizations. Buda Castle was still a long way from being built in 895 AD, but the grey Danube (it was never blue) roiling at the foot of the future seat of Hungary’s kings was the last in a series of moats between East and West, Asia and Europe, paganism and monotheism. In due course, it became a moat between Islam and Christendom.

Having made the mistake of settling in a bad geopolitical neighbourhood, the Magyars would come to see themselves as defenders of the West, to which they did not belong, against the East, to which they did. This resulted in Hungarians having a love-hate relationship with both the East and the West for the next thousand years. “East” meant Mongolian and Tartar marauders at first, but the expansion of the Ottoman Empire during the 15th century gradually changed its meaning to include Islam. The crescent moon became a symbol of menace, as the Muslim world made up for the ground it lost in southwestern Europe by its conquests in the southeast. By victories such as Kosovo, the Prophet’s armies gained in the Balkans what they forfeited in Spain. Eventually their success saw them sweep across the great plains of Hungary and Transdanubia, their high tide reaching the walls of Vienna on two occasions, the last time in 1683.

The Magyars resisted Islam’s advance for nearly a century, but eventually they succumbed at Mohács Field in 1526. After that debacle, Hungary’s 150 years of bondage began. Ottoman rule was not unmitigated evil—for instance, horticulture and architecture flourished under it—but it was still a nightmare of caprice and corruption. The Sultan’s soldiers were fatalistic in combat and merciless in victory. The Porta—the Turkish court—combined dizzying hauteur with abject servility. It also combined, along with its entire culture, Oriental cruelty with Muslim self-righteousness. Most measures were considered justified against the giaours (infidels). The trauma of imperial Islam lingers in the lower Danube basin to this day.

I am offering this potted history of the region because my reader is likely to be the product of what I have called “the 60-year gap.” Assuming that he or she was born after 1918 (the year General Allenby rode through the gates of Damascus) but before 1979 (when the Ayatollah Khomeini deposed the Shah of Iran and the mujahedeen began resisting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan), my reader belongs to the only about three generations in 1,400 years during which the struggle between the Islamic and non-Islamic world was on standby. This 60-year gap between the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the resurgence of militant Islam was one of the few periods in which people, as long as they lived in certain sheltered parts of the world, such as Western Europe and North America, could be blissfully unaware that theirs was at war with another.

Even this 60-year gap was a matter of perception rather than reality. The struggle never abated. Pakistan and India conducted full-scale engagements, as did Israel and the so called rejectionist Arab states surrounding it. Still, in the Western perception—and in the Arab perception as well to some extent—the struggle in those years was between the forces of Arab “national liberation” and Western “imperialism” rather than between the armies of the Prophet and those of the infidels.

This 60-year gap between the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the resurgence of militant Islam was one of the few periods in which people, as long as they lived in certain sheltered parts of the world, such as Western Europe and North America, could be blissfully unaware that theirs was at war with another.

The illusion of a gap in the ancient struggle lasted three generations and had certain consequences. One was that when the smouldering fire of Islam’s jihad erupted again in 1979, it caught many, if not most, Westerners by surprise. The 14-century-old conflagration was burning brightly, with American hostages being paraded in Tehran, but many people took another 22 years to notice the flames. Millions did, finally, on a picture-perfect September morning in 2001, though others denied seeing the fire even then.

Some still deny it.

Having grown up in the land of the bloodied stork, I saw 9/11 from a different perspective. A “Turkish lad” slashing a bird’s foot was not totally unfamiliar to me. Though I had no sympathy for wanton rage, coming from the East I could understand how it might arise more easily than Westerners. Irrationality was as irritating to me as to any other creature of a Cartesian culture, but as a native of the Danube basin, I found it less puzzling. I could also entertain the politically incorrect notion that we might be at war, not just with “terrorism” in general, but with the specific terrorism of Islam.

Perhaps Muslim resentment and rage should not have come as a surprise to anyone. Western ascendancy had been rubbing salt into the wounds of Islamic decline for centuries. As the Princeton scholar Bernard Lewis observed in 1990:

“For a long time now there has been a rising tide of rebellion against this Western paramountcy, and a desire to reassert Muslim values and restore Muslim greatness. The Muslim has suffered successive stages of defeat. The first was his loss of domination in the world, to the advancing power of Russia and the West. The second was the undermining of his authority in his own country, through an invasion of foreign ideas and laws and ways of life and sometimes even foreign rulers or settlers, and the enfranchisement of native non-Muslim elements. The third—the last straw—was the challenge to his mastery in his own house, from emancipated women and rebellious children. It was too much to endure, and the outbreak of rage against these alien, infidel and incomprehensible forces that had subverted his dominance, disrupted his society and finally violated the sanctuary of his home was inevitable. It was also natural that this rage should be directed primarily against the millennial enemy and should draw its strength from ancient beliefs and loyalties.”

For radical Islam, this millennial enemy was not only America or Israel, but the entire “House of War,” the world of non-Islamic beliefs and values in general, and Western beliefs and values in particular. The countries of Europe could not exempt themselves from this jihadist view by conciliatory gestures. Neither could Canada.

Stork, stork, ciconia, What makes your foot bleed?

The answer had slammed into the Twin Towers on the morning of Sept 11, 2001.

THE AUTHOR

George Jonas is a Canadian journalist, who has also written novels, plays, and poetry. Critics have called him "...one of the very best writers of English in the country" (I. M. Owen in Books in Canada). George Jonas frequently writes about topics related to the Middle East, counter-terrorism, law, and aviation safety. He is the author of Reflections on Islam, Beethoven's Mask: Notes On My Life and Times, Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, and others. His website is here."


Flag Day ~ June 14, 2007

Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand,

Between their loved homes and the war's desolation;

Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land

Praise the Power that has made and preserved us as a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,

And this be our motto: "In God is our trust";

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


An important message to Americans from the Iraqi Prime Minister.

Mr. Maliki writes in The Wall Street Journal:

"In the 1860s, your country fought a great struggle of its own, a civil war that took hundreds of thousands of lives but ended in the triumph of freedom and the birth of a great power. Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation signaled the destruction of the terrible institution of slavery, and the rise of a country dedicated, more than any other in the world of nation-states then and hence, to the principle of human liberty.
...
Our struggle in Iraq is similar to the great American quest, and is perhaps even more complicated. As your country was fighting that great contest over its unity and future, Iraq was a province of an Ottoman empire steeped in backwardness and ignorance.
...
Today when I hear the continuous American debate about the struggle raging in Iraq, I can only recall with great sorrow the silence which attended the former dictator's wars.

It is perhaps true that only people who are denied the gift of liberty can truly appreciate its full meaning and bounty. I look with admiration at the American debate surrounding the Iraq war, and I admire even those opinions that differ from my own. As prime minister of Iraq I have been subjected to my share of criticism in that American debate, but I harbor no resentment and fully understand that the basic concerns of Americans are the safety of their young people fighting in our country and the national interests of their society. As this American debate goes on, I am guided and consoled by the sacred place of freedom and liberty in the American creed and in America's notion of itself.
...
War being what it is, the images of Iraq that come America's way are of car bombs and daily explosions. Missing from the coverage are the great, subtle changes our country is undergoing, the birth of new national ideas and values which will in the end impose themselves despite the death and destruction that the terrorists have been hell-bent on inflicting on us.
...
A fundamental struggle is being fought on Iraqi soil between those who believe that Iraqis, after a long nightmare, can retrieve their dignity and freedom, and others who think that oppression is the order of things and that Iraqis are doomed to a political culture of terror, prisons and mass graves. Some of our neighbors have made this struggle more lethal still, they have placed their bets on the forces of terror in pursuit of their own interests.
...
We have entered into a war, I want it known, against militias that had preyed upon the weakness of the national government and in the absence of law and order in some of our cities, even in some of the districts in Baghdad, imposed their own private laws--laws usually driven by extremism and a spirit of vengeance. Some of these militias presented themselves as defenders of their own respective communities against other militias. We believe that the best way to defeat these militias is to build and enhance the capabilities of our government as a defender of the rights of our citizens. A stable government cannot coexist with these militias.
...
Our message has been the same to one and all: We will not permit Iraq to be a battleground for other powers. In the contests and ambitions swirling around Iraq, we are neutral and dedicated to our country's right to prosperity and a new life, inspired by a memory of a time when Baghdad was--as Washington is today--a beacon of enlightenment on which others gazed with admiration. We have come to believe, as Americans who founded your country once believed, that freedom is a precious inheritance. It is never cheap but the price is worth paying if we are to rescue our country."

UPDATE: For a different take on Mr. Maliki's message, check out Hugh Fitzgerald.

[Maliki]

Immigration questions? Look to Europe for examples...

Are we really interested in developing the "guest worker" program in the US? Thomas Sowell bluntly tells us that

People who are pushing for a "guest worker" program show not the slightest interest in what has been happening under guest worker programs in Europe. Facts are apparently irrelevant.
So is logic. Guests are people you invite to your home. Gate crashers are people who come without being invited. Home invaders are people who break in, despite doors that have been shut to keep them out.

In fact, Dr. Sowell directs our attention to the French and British examples. Read it all here.



Poland and the Czech Republic are at odds with Germany!

Der Spiegel reports:


Though German diplomats claim that 95 percent of the original draft constitution has remained unchanged, it will no longer bear the name "constitution." And anything hinting at a "United States of Europe" has been dropped: There will be no mention of an EU anthem, flag or any other such symbol.

In exchange for concessions, Merkel appears close to winning the support of every country but Poland and the Czech Republic for her constitution lite. Voting provisions in the current draft foresee decisions in the 27-member block needing the backing of at least 55 percent of its members representing 65 percent of the EU population. Poland's intransigent Kaczynski twins are demanding additional voting weight and the Czech Republic is also unhappy, saying the qualified majority system will favor larger EU countries like Germany.

Why is Poland being so "intransigent"? Again Der Spiegel:

Poland is opposed to the new qualified majority voting system, arguing that it favors big countries like Germany. The system calls for a double majority representing at least 55 percent of the EU member states and at least 65 percent of the EU population. Even though the system gives Poland relatively generous voting rights -- 27 votes compared to Germany's 29 -- it would rather see votes calculated based on a country's inhabitants in relation to its surface area, the so-called "square root system." Prime Minister Kaczynski has even said it is a
system "worth dying for."