Sunday, December 30, 2007

A friend sent me this quote from John Stuart Mill:

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

I am reminded of this every time I speak to Poles who fought the German occupation so unrelentlessly for 6 years during World War II.

American soft power: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Past experience shows it takes time, but it works. Shouldn't we be supporting it?

From the Wall Street Journal (by subscription only):

Can radio change the world? It used to. On the walls at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty here hang pictures of Solidarity rallies in Poland and a smiling Vaclav Havel. The message isn't subtle, or inaccurate: This legendary U.S.-funded broadcaster helped win the Cold War.

The glory days are past at RFE/RL, and for American public diplomacy as a whole. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, when history ended and freedom triumphed (or so it seemed), Munich-based RFE/RL landed on the chopping block. It was saved, on a threadbare budget, partly thanks to then Czech President Havel. In gratitude, he offered cheaper digs in a communist-era eyesore here in Prague that previously housed the Czechoslovak Parliament. Yet in the public mind, the station founded in 1950 by the likes of George Kennan and John Foster Dulles might as well be gone.

"We're trying to revive it," says Jeffrey Gedmin, the broadcaster's new president. Doing that, and making the station a valued tool of U.S. foreign policy again, won't be easy.
The mission at RFE/RL, a pioneer in U.S. international public broadcasting, didn't end in 1989. It merely moved further east and south. (The Europe in its name is an anachronism; the original Central European stations were shuttered years ago.)

RFE/RL broadcasts in 28 languages to some of the highest-priority and most difficult countries for U.S. foreign policy today. It's the most popular station in Afghanistan (with a 67% market share in a country where radio is the main source of information), and one of the last free broadcast outlets in Russia, Central Asia and Belarus, and the American voice in Persian in Iran.

But there are several strikes against them. The first is the new "media rich" environment. With so much competition from the Internet, podcasts, widespread satellite television and radio -- none of which existed in Cold War days -- the surrogate stations, such as RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia or Radio Marti for Cuba, are struggling to hold on to listeners and influence, along with the rest of old media.

In addition, the "surrogates" suffer from an existential crisis of their own. The nine-person Broadcast Board of Governors, the federal agency responsible for all government-supported international stations, is bipartisan, but deeply politicized and with a reputation for micromanagement. Recent years saw the division blurred between surrogate (epitomized by RFE/RL's stations) and traditional public diplomacy broadcasting that had been the preserve of the Voice of America, which as the name suggests is tasked with explaining U.S. policies to the world.
The quality and professionalism of the stations have come under attack as well, most notably at Radio Farda, the Iranian service, until recently run jointly by RFE/RL and Voice of America. Alhurra, the television broadcaster to the Arabic-speaking world, got into political trouble earlier this year for airing interviews with terrorists. Its director resigned.

The final strike is structural. Government-run agencies tend to be bureaucratic and inertia-bound; in other words, wholly ill-suited for the fast-paced media world. Marc Ginsberg, an Arabic-speaking former U.S. ambassador, says "public diplomacy needs to evolve" and tap the best of America's private sector expertise in Hollywood or on Madison Avenue.
"The editorial content was very weak, and very underwhelming, and in some cases just downright misguided," Mr. Gedmin says. "When I came they thought, 'Oh my gosh, Washington, Bush, neocon.' All I did was I sat down with them day after day and said, 'What kind of groups do you want to reach inside Iran?' And they said, 'Labor, students, women -- a political class open to political change.' And I said, 'Do we do that?' 'Not really,' they said. 'Ok, so what are the issues [they care about]?' I asked." The response: "Economy, corruption are very big. Human rights."

Radio Farda has moved to push these different kinds of stories more forcefully. Its news and commentary is now supposed to be geared at an elite audience.
Most of the region covered by Prague-based stations is on the wrong track, marked by rising authoritarianism (and anti-Americanism), particularly in Russia. Prague has, reprising the role played by Munich, become one meeting point for people interested in championing the free press and democracy in Russia, the Caucasus, Iran and Central Asia.

In October, the station marked the one year anniversary of the assassination of Russia's best-known journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, with a large conference. A small research team, though a shadow of its Cold War self, looks at media and political trends in its new region. It's probably too small. The McCormick Tribune report notes "substantial analytical research capability" is a "prerequisite for fully effective 'surrogate' broadcasting."

Mr. Gedmin says the radio needs to push further into cell phone texting, podcasts and other new technology to deliver its programming. He hired a new editor for its dowdy Internet site.

With the crackdown on independent voices in Vladimir Putin's Russia, the Russian-language Radio Liberty will have to find new ways to broadcast radio, television and written news and analysis into the country through the Web. "The Russians are kicking us off the air," Mr. Gedmin says. "Pretty soon we're going to have to go to an Internet strategy. If we get it right, it could be the refuge for liberal thought in Russia."

Its effect is hard to gauge and a source of dispute -- in the target countries and in budget battles on Capitol Hill. Radio Farda is listened to by about 13.5% of the radio audience, according to telephone surveys. For all 28 services, the average is 10%. "We care about audience size," Mr. Gedmin says. "Never misunderstand me. But you can't measure our success by audience size alone."

As far as its importance goes, Mr. Gedmin cites all the efforts made by governments to jam the radio signal, block the Web site and publicly denounce RFE/RL. Its journalists, as others in repressive countries, take considerable risks to do their jobs. This year, two RFE/RL reporters have been killed and one kidnapped (and freed after two weeks) in Iraq, two went missing for several weeks in Turkmenistan, two fled Russia, one was detained in Iran for eight months, and two Afghans were threatened with beheading by the Taliban and one kidnapped.

A 26-year-old reporter for the Uzbek service was shot and killed in October in front of his office in Kyrgyzstan. He had told colleagues in Prague that he had been followed by Uzbek security.

Skeptics notice the early changes. "Jeff's the best thing to happen to RFE/RL in a decade," says Enders Wimbush, a vocal critic who headed Radio Liberty in 1987-93 and currently works at Washington's Hudson Institute.

Yet the outcome of Mr. Gedmin's battle to convince Congress that American taxpayers ought to pick up more of the tab won't be known for a while. Its budget, at $77 million this year, is down from $230 million in 1995, when the U.S. cashed the "peace dividend." None of Mr. Gedmin's successors managed to get Capitol Hill to commit any new resources in 12 years.

How to put American public diplomacy in support of democracy back in high gear is an immediate challenge, no matter who ends up living in the White House. Mr. Gedmin wants to get international surrogate broadcasters back into the discussion. "At a time when everybody is arguing 'soft power' is so important, this kind of broadcast is the ultimate in soft power," he says. "It costs peanuts. And it has a measurable impact of success."

Iranian rap: going against the grain of the mullahs.

From Gateway Pundit:

Earlier this year the regime in control of Iran cracked down on the underground music scene including the popular Iranian rappers. Iranian rappers often sing about the Persian empire before it was "invaded by Arab bedouins to be converted to Islam". This doesn't go over too well with the mullahs. Top Iranian rapper, Reza Pishro, who is very popular among young Iranians was arrested in April.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A satirist gets serious and...

and writes to Europeans:

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has put on notice the leaders of every European nation.

Your secularism, your democracy will not stand. The growing Muslim populations in your own lands that you have done so much to tolerate, protect and celebrate, will soon rise up against you. Sharia law shall become your law. The Caliph shall rule you.

It remains only for you to choose submission or assassination.
Via LGF.

Results of a CNN poll in Pakistan: 46% of Pakistanis support Osama bin Laden... this the real Pakistan, an enemy of the United States and the West?

We don’t have the political will to fight the war on terror every place where jihadists work feverishly to kill Americans. And, given the refusal of the richest, most spendthrift government in American history to grow our military to an appropriate war footing, we may not have the resources to do it.

But we should at least stop fooling ourselves. Jihadists are not going to be wished away, rule-of-lawed into submission, or democratized out of existence. If you really want democracy and the rule of law in places like Pakistan, you need to kill the jihadists first. Or they’ll kill you, just like, today, they killed Benazir Bhutto.

Where did we hear this before? That they would not hate us if...

...if only we quit pursuing our interests in the Middle East.

Anwar Sadat. Benazir Bhutto. Theo Van Gogh. Daniel Pearl. Three thousand Americans on 9/11. The editors of Jyllands-Posten -- almost. Salman Rushdie -- almost. Pervez Musharraf -- almost. We could go on, but maybe you get the point. The message is perfectly clear: Challenge the jihad, pay with your life.

A radical Islamic army seething with rage and delusion grows stronger, slaughtering more and more of our potential allies, as we spend years debating whether, to save our civilization, our warriors should ever be allowed to pretend to drown a captured enemy combatant.
Read the entire editorial.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Wieliczka salt mines, Krakow, Poland

Carved by the miners in their spare time!!!!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Eid Festival and Iraq

BBC photo

"I no longer will use the term optimism nor pessimism. I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist, I am a realist at this point on Iraq.

"I have well over three years on the ground in Iraq, and the reality is that Iraq is hard," the general [Petraeus] said.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Iran and Argentina.

Just down the road from AMIA, the multi-story Jewish community headquarters in downtown Buenos Aires, on July 18, 1994, Maria Nicolasa Romero and her young son prepared to cross the road.

The boy slipped out of his mother's hand and dashed into the street ahead of her, however, and only narrowly escaped being hit by a white Renault Trafic van that was speeding by. Relieved that her son was unharmed but shocked that the van hadn't so much as slowed to avoid him, Romero screamed angrily at the driver, who naturally turned to look at her as he sped away. That was the last time anyone saw Ibrahim Berro alive.

Seconds later, Berro rammed the explosives-filled van into the AMIA building, with catastrophic consequences. The entire building collapsed, 85 people were killed and hundreds were wounded in what remains the worst ever terrorist attack in Argentina.
Read the riveting account here.

Hat tip: IsraPundit.

More good news on Iraq.

Voices of Iraq reports that today U.S. forces pulled out of a military base in central Falluja's al-Dubbat neighborhood. The Marines removed the barricades and opened side streets to regular traffic.

Also, check out this article on how things have stabilized in Faluja. "I could not ride any police vehicle without hiding my face, for fear of getting killed, but life is different now and I'm standing in central Falluja with my face unveiled to everyone."

Yankee go home...and can you take me too?

"Many of the insurgents building bombs and carrying out attacks in Iraq are hate-filled teenagers. Diya Muhammad Hussein, 16, is one of them. He spoke with SPIEGEL ONLINE about his desire to kill the American occupiers -- and his dreams of emigrating to the United States."
Kind of sad that he wants to kill Americans while wanting to emigrate to America. But then, there are so many adults who think the same way... And, while not everyone wishes death on us, it is amazing to hear so many Europeans and others spewing anti-Americanism while they are making plans for their vacations in the US!

Friday, December 21, 2007

More Eid Festival gore.

Yesterday I pointed out the Eid Festival slaughter. Sweetness & Light has added more pics of this festival.

A lapsed jihadist.

One of Al Qaeda's senior theologians [Sayyed Imam al-Sharif] is calling on his followers to end their military jihad and saying the attacks of September 11, 2001, were a "catastrophe for all Muslims."
Read the whole thing here.

Hat tip: Powerline.


An excerpt from General McCaffrey's report on Iraq:

It is too late to decide on the Iraqi exit strategy with the current Administration. However, the Secretary of Defense and CENTCOM can set the next Administration up for success by getting down to 12 + Brigade Combat teams before January of 2009 —and by massively resourcing the creation of an adequate Iraqi Security Force.

We also need to make the case to Congress that significant US financial resources are needed to get the Iraqi economy going. ($3 billion per year for five years.) The nation-building process is the key to a successful US Military withdrawal—and will save enormous money and grief in the long run to avoid a failed Iraqi state.

Via Michael Yon.

Locavores are...

Bambi killers?

Hat Tip: Instapundit.

Iran in Latin America.

Iran orchestrated two bombings in Buenos Aires in the mid-1990s, killing more than 100 people, primarily because it was furious over Argentina's cessation of nuclear cooperation with the Islamic Republic, a top Argentinean prosecutor said Tuesday, offering chilling confirmation of the ruthlessness with which Iran has pursued its quest for nuclear capability.
Nisman [the prosecutor] said the AMIA [Jewish community offices] blast, in which 85 people were killed, and the bombing of the Israeli Embassy two years earlier, in which 29 people were killed, had been "ordered, planned and financed" by Iran's top leadership. Teheran, he said, was incensed that Argentina, under former president Carlos Menem, had suspended and ultimately stopped what had been close cooperation with the Iranian nuclear program, including the training of nuclear technicians and the transfer of nuclear technology. At first Teheran tried to cajole Argentina into reconsidering, he said. Then it issued threats. And finally, it employed terrorism.
Read the whole story here.

Hat tip: Tiger Hawk. There are some interesting comments in Tiger Hawk's blog relating to the present-day woes of Argentina and shady arms deals.

UPDATE: More on this story here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kids: Wake Up!!!! Christmas stories - The Little Match Girl - Hans Christian Andersen

Here's a Christmas story that made me cry when I was a little girl:

It was terribly cold and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year, and the snow was falling fast. In the cold and the darkness, a poor little girl, with bare head and naked feet, roamed through the streets. It is true she had on a pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not of much use. They were very large, so large, indeed, that they had belonged to her mother, and the poor little creature had lost them in running across the street to avoid two carriages that were rolling along at a terrible rate. One of the slippers she could not find, and a boy seized upon the other and ran away with it, saying that he could use it as a cradle, when he had children of his own. So the little girl went on with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of matches, and had a bundle of them in her hands. No one had bought anything of her the whole day, nor had anyone given her even a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along; poor little child, she looked the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on her long, fair hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not.

Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savoury smell of roast goose, for it was New-year's eve—yes, she remembered that. In a corner, between two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled herself together. She had drawn her little feet under her, but she could not keep off the cold; and she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches, and could not take home even a penny of money. Her father would certainly beat her; besides, it was almost as cold at home as here, for they had only the roof to cover them, through which the wind howled, although the largest holes had been stopped up with straw and rags. Her little hands were almost frozen with the cold. Ah! perhaps a burning match might be some good, if she could draw it from the bundle and strike it against the wall, just to warm her fingers. She drew one out—“scratch!” how it sputtered as it burnt! It gave a warm, bright light, like a little candle, as she held her hand over it. It was really a wonderful light. It seemed to the little girl that she was sitting by a large iron stove, with polished brass feet and a brass ornament. How the fire burned! and seemed so beautifully warm that the child stretched out her feet as if to warm them, when, lo! the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.

She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into a flame, and where its light fell upon the wall it became as transparent as a veil, and she could see into the room. The table was covered with a snowy white table-cloth, on which stood a splendid dinner service, and a steaming roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums. And what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast, to the little girl. Then the match went out, and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.

She lighted another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas-tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door at the rich merchant's. Thousands of tapers were burning upon the green branches, and coloured pictures, like those she had seen in the show-windows, looked down upon it all. The little one stretched out her hand towards them, and the match went out.

The Christmas lights rose higher and higher, till they looked to her like the stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.

She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light shone round her; in the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance. “Grandmother,” cried the little one, “O take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm stove, the roast goose, and the large, glorious Christmas-tree.” And she made haste to light the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And the matches glowed with a light that was brighter than the noon-day, and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.

In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little one, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall; she had been frozen to death on the last evening of the year; and the New-year's sun rose and shone upon a little corpse! The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, holding the matches in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt. “She tried to warm herself,” said some. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother, on New-year's day.

"Iraq and Roll Band"...

If you are like me, this is yet another sign that things are improving in Iraq. Of course, you won't find this out reading any of the newspapers or magazines available to the masses... I don't know where Gateway Pundit finds these stories, but they are amazing!
Rock and Roll Iraqi style

Why, here in the West, are we unwilling to ask this question: Who will protect women from the laws of men?

Dr Farrukh Saleem, of Pakistan, is not afraid:

Honour killing is our export to Canada. Women who do not wear hijab are not virtuous. Hijab is a Muslim woman’s identity. Hijab is religion. Hijab is the sixth pillar. Hijab symbolises sexual modesty. The West is conspiring to crush Islamic identity. Fact or fiction?
Is denial an option? Who will take the honour out of these killings? Who will expose the horror from under the hijab? Who will protect women from the laws of men?
Read his entire column.

Hat Tip: Mark Steyn.

Eid Festival.

Not my cup of tea, but you can check some colorful photos of the animal slaughter at Sweetness & Light.

Yet, there's no brouhaha about the annual slaughter. The Economist, though, did run an article about how the EU's animal-welfare rules may stop Romanians from slaughtering pigs for Christmas in their backyards.

During talks in Brussels last year, the Romanians asked if Christmas pig-killing might enjoy the exemption given to Muslim and Jewish butchers. The commission said no. The directive offers an exemption only for “religious rites”, and Romanian practices are deemed traditional, not ritual.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The ABC's of anti-Americanism...a concise guide:

There's a very informative article at the American Thinker that clearly presents what's behind all the anti-Americanism we hear about, and points out this phenomenon has always been around. Excerpt:

Europeans know they will never achieve hard power parity with America, so they want to change the rules of the international game to make soft power the only acceptable superpower standard. Toward this end, European elites seek to de-legitimize one of the main pillars of American influence by making it prohibitively costly in the realm of international public opinion for the United States to use its military power in the future. By ensconcing a system of international law based around the United Nations, they hope to constrain American exercise of power. For Europeans, multilateralism is about neutering American hard power, not about solving international problems. It is, as the cliché goes, about Lilliputians tying down Gulliver.

Many American foreign policy mavens refuse to recognize this. In fact, they often over-idolize European soft power, largely because they share the European belief that a multilateral world order is the proper antidote to global anti-Americanism.
Anti-Americanism is (at least for the foreseeable future) a zero-sum game because the main purveyors of anti-Americanism are in denial about the dangers facing the world today. They believe the United States is the problem and that their vision for a post-modern socialist multicultural utopia is the answer. Never mind that most Europeans do not have enough faith in their own model to want to pass it on to the next generation.

This is the dilemma America faces: If it wants to be popular abroad, it will have to pay in terms of reduced security. And if it determines to protect the American way of life from global threats, then it will have to pay in terms of reduced popularity abroad.

But if America loses out against the existential threats posed by global terrorism and fundamentalist Islam, then the issue of America's international image will be moot.
Read the whole thing.

Peace returns to Baghdad...

Click on the photo below to watch the UK Tel;egraph's video of Baghdad.
You can read more about it here.

"Sensationalism was always the stuff of war reporting, but today it is with us in real time, 24/7,

... offered up by often anonymous sources, and filtered in a matter of hours or minutes by nameless editors and producers. Those relentless news alerts—tucked in between apparently more important exposés about Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith—ultimately impart a sense of confusion and bewilderment about what war is."

Read Victor Davis Hanson's In War: Resolution, a synopsis of errors through all the wars until this one.

"Both higher education and standard of living are positively associated with participation in Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

...and with becoming a suicide bomber, while being married significantly reduces the probability of participation in terrorist activities." Check out the study that concluded this.


is lulling children towards death. Militant Islamic Jihadism is perverse.

Via JihadWatch.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Exercise:'s good for the aging body and it's good for the aging brain.

"There’s plenty to gripe about.

Fallujah is a broken-down, ramshackle, impoverished wreck of a city. It was ruined by more than three years of war. What else can you expect of a place that only stopped exploding this summer? But if the best possible scenario ever unfolds, if peace arrives even in Baghdad, if the government becomes truly moderate and representative, if rainbows break out in the skies and the fields fill with smiling children and bunny rabbits, somebody, somewhere, will complain that Iraq has been taken over by the imperial powers of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Starbucks." Read it all here.

SEVEN bogus stories

...on Iraq that have appeared in the last 7 weeks.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Iraq wins World Soccer Team of the Year Award.

The World Soccer Team of the Year Award goes to Iraq!

Iraq’s extraordinary journey from war-torn also-rans to continental champions with victory at the Asian Cup earned them the team award, the first time it has gone to an Asian side. Milan were second and Sevilla third.
Read the whole story at Gateway Pundit.

Tracking Santa Claus.

Hat tip to Blackfive, because I just discovered that kids of all ages can track Santa's journey thanks to NORAD.

What makes General Petraeus tick:

"General Petraeus tends to attract people who value competition--not ultimately competition for itself, but for what it produces. General Petraeus is in a deadly serious business, and he's made a habit of prevailing by ensuring he's on the side with the better ideas, the more resilient troops, the clearer-headed and more creative leaders, and the tighter-knit and more determined units. Competition is one of the main engines for all of these things.


Of the 21 soldiers who began the 5.7-mile loop, only four (including Nordby and Martins) hang with Petraeus to the finish. He comes in at a pace under six minutes per mile, impressive for a guy with a metal plate in his pelvis and a gunshot wound on his chest (courtesy of a training accident).
Read the whole story here.

"Hope nobody lost their head over this one!"

Meanwhile, in Iraq, there's unimaginable success...

according to combat journalist Jeff Emanuel:

The prospect of establishing a prototype Concerned Citizens group -- the first ever in the region -- was discussed at ... the end of August. As you'll see from the information provided at the Long War Journal, what began as the smallest of meetings has now become a literal phenomenon, with over 35,000 concerned local citizens participating just in that small region -- with almost 50% of the groups being combined Sunni and Shi'a.

No heads will be chopped...

The BBC's idea: "A former glamour model and soap star sits on top of a bus shelter, squeezed into a silver catsuit. A pregnant teenager stands below, nearby is an abandoned shopping trolley. It may sound like a scene from a new comedy series, but is, in fact, the BBC's modern-day vision of the Christmas story." And Joseph is seeking asylum.

Castrated Swedish lion...

"It's the chickification of not just the news. It's the chickification of culture."

"Protests from female soldiers have led to the Swedish military removing the penis of a heraldic lion depicted on the Nordic Battlegroup's coat of arms."

Mohammed is set to overtake Jack as the most popular boys' name...

" Britain as a result of the high birth rate in Muslim families, which is driving the British population to a record high." Source: The Telegraph.

American intelligence: an oxymoron? Here's a very angry French perspective:

Mr. Claude Moniquet, a former field operative for the French foreign intelligence service, who heads the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Before rolling out the peace banners, though, it's worth looking at the [intelligence] agencies' track record in getting these sorts of "estimates" right. As a matter of fact, U.S. intelligence services have so far failed to predict the nuclearization of a single foreign nation. They failed to do so with regard to the Soviet Union in 1949, China in 1964, India and Pakistan in 1998, and North Korea in 2002. They also got Saddam's weapons program wrong -- twice. First by underestimating it in the 1980s and then by overplaying its progress before the 2003 invasion. But on the possible nuclearization of a regime that sounds fanatic enough to use this doomsday weapon, the NIE [National Intelligence Estimate], contradicting everything we have heard so far about the issue, including from a previous NIE report, is suddenly to be trusted?

It's not just on the nuclear front where American intelligence services have failed their country. They foresaw neither the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 nor the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later. In Afghanistan, during the 1980s, while other friendly services, among them the French, urged the CIA to support more "moderate" tribal chiefs in the fight against the Red Army, the agency relied on the enlightened advice of its Saudi friends and supported the most extreme Islamists. U.S. troops are fighting and dying today for that blunder.

More recently, the CIA conducted those "extraordinary renditions" of terrorist suspects in such an amateurish manner that several American intelligence officers were exposed and are now being tried in absentia in Italy. Allied services in other countries were also compromised, souring future cooperation between the agencies.

I do not rehash this history with any kind of schadenfreude but to urge policy makers in the U.S. and here in Europe to read this report with more than just a grain of salt. Many Democrats in Washington and the international media welcomed the agencies' "independence" from the political leadership. But one must wonder whether, in a democracy, intelligence services are supposed to cultivate their "independence" to the point of opposing the elected political leadership.

And make no mistake, the NIE has little in common with intelligence as it is understood by professionals. Instead, Langley & Co. seem to have decided to carry out their own foreign policy. The report's most controversial conclusion -- that Iran ceased its covert nuclear program -- is based on the absurd distinction between military and civilian. Iran itself admits -- no, boasts -- that it continues enriching uranium as part of its "civilian" program. But such enrichment can have only a military purpose.

With this sleight of hand, though, the intelligence services effectively sabotaged the Bush administration's efforts to steer its allies toward a tougher position on Iran. Paris in particular won't be amused about what appears almost like a betrayal. President Nicolas Sarkozy took a great political risk when he turned around French foreign policy and became Europe's leading opponent of a nuclear Iran. He even warned of a possible armed conflict with Iran -- not the most popular thing to do in France.

The agencies say in the report that they don't "know" whether Tehran is considering equipping itself with nuclear arms. These super-spies in the suburbs of Washington do not seem to be the least embarrassed by this admission of incompetence. With their multibillion-dollar budget, one might certainly expect the agencies to "know" these sorts of things.

This admission also betrays a rather naive view of the nature of the Iranian regime. Are the mullahs' intentions really so hard to discern? What everybody "knows" -- and not only those in the intelligence community -- is that Tehran has made it pretty clear that it wants nuclear arms and that it has very concrete plans for their deployment: to erase Israel from the map. Everybody also "knows" that nuclear arms would make the Islamic Republic almost untouchable, turning it into a regional superpower that could dictate its will on the Gulf states -- the world's suppliers of oil and gas. And everybody "knows" that this is an unacceptable prospect for the Gulf countries, practically forcing them to get the bomb as well. Over time the Middle East, not a very stable region, would become completely nuclearized.
Henry Kissinger echoes the same:
Intelligence personnel need to return to their traditional anonymity. Policymakers and Congress should once again assume responsibility for their judgments without involving intelligence in their public justifications. To define the proper balance between the user and producer of intelligence is a task that cannot be accomplished at the end of an administration. It is, however, one of the most urgent challenges a newly elected president will face.


This is the epitome of perversion: creating mini-Hitlers.

Click on the picture below to listen to the sickening diatribe.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bush's legacy.

Here's a fascinating radio interview of Thomas Naftali, the author of the book George H.W. Bush, about the former President's presidency and legacy. It is very much worth listening to it.

"One of Europe's biggest real-estate transfers in history".

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fear God and take your own part!

That is the name of Theodore Roosevelt's book from whence this excerpt has been taken.

Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa, in addition to being rent asunder among themselves by bitter sectarian animosities--and sectarian intolerance and animosity stand for most that is evil in Christianity--had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Moslems were trained to fight.

Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries, and on up to and including the seventeenth century, had not possessed a military equality with, and gradually a growing superiority over, the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan, and the Christian religion would be exterminated.

Wherever the Mohammedans have had complete sway, wherever the Christians have been unable to resist them by the sword, Christianity has ultimately disappeared. From the hammer of Charles Martel to the sword of Sobieski, Christianity owed its safety in Europe to the fact that it was able to show that it could and would fight as well as the Mohammedan aggressor.

The civilization of Europe, American and Australia exists today at all only because of the victories of civilized man over the enemies of civilization because of victories through the centuries from Charles Martel in the eighth century and those of John Sobieski in the seventeenth century. During the thousand years that included the careers of the Frankish soldier and the Polish king, the Christians of Asia and Africa proved unable to wage successful war with the Moslem conquerors; and in consequence Christianity practically vanished from the two continents; and today, nobody can find in them any "social values" whatever, in the sense in which we use the words, so far as the sphere of Mohammedan influences are concerned.

There are such "social values" today in Europe, America and Australia only because during those thousand years, the Christians of Europe possessed the warlike power to do what the Christians of Asia and Africa had failed to do -- that is, to beat back the Moslem invader.

Food for thought.

"Odd that so many old feminists think racism is worse than sexism."

Muslim feminist groups such as Women Living Under Muslim Laws are raising their voices against the misogyny of sharia laws but, with some honourable exceptions, there is no rallying by Western liberals against the gender apartheid under which women in large parts of the Islamic world live, as there was against racial apartheid in South Africa.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sex, religion, the Marquis de Sade, jihad and perversion.

I just read a great and thought-provoking article, Jihadism, Liberalism and Perversion by psychoanalist Stephen Rittenberg, MD. He doesn't mince words, and helps put things in perspective. Here are some excerpts, but do read the WHOLE thing.

Only Islamic clerics sanction the murder of women who have been raped. Only Islamic clerics issue murderous fatwas, celebrate murder of artists, and mobilize sword-wielding men to demand death for a female teacher who allowed children to name a teddy bear 'Mohammed'. Only Islam proudly exhibits videos of throat-cutters torturing helpless victims.

It is the intense pleasure derived from religiously sanctioned murderous lust that makes the jihadis so dangerous. The degree of narcissism matters little; these are not people who can be 'treated' by shoring up their narcissism, and bolstering their self esteem. It is our very civilized, therapeutic culture that makes us flinch from taking the necessary measures needed to deal with such foes. In truth, it may be our own narcissism -- the need to reassure ourselves of our superior civilized nature -- that causes us to obsess about whether necessary measures for waging war, like water boarding, and Guantanamo constitute 'torture'.

In our politically correct age, the word ‘perversion' has been banished from the circles of multicultural academia, literary and journalistic usage. It is, we are instructed, ‘judgmental', tends to unfairly ‘normalize' heterosexuality and is, like the ‘N-word', insulting. It creates hierarchical differences and that is illiberal.

Nevertheless, despite the efforts to remove it from the language and/or because of that effort, it still carries an emotional charge. In a time when gleeful murderous terrorists blow themselves up daily, it behooves us to face the reality that militant Islamic jihadism is a perversion and its practitioners derive a gratification that is more than simply defensive against feeling of inadequacy. It is the pleasurable charge that comes from throwing off all inhibitions on the discharge of murderous rage.

Ideas are perverse when they seek to undermine distinctions that are necessary for thought itself to exist. When such distinctions are eliminated, anything goes. When liberalism asserts that al Qaeda and America are equal threats to the world, it is being perverse. In fact, when liberals argue that modern Christianity and Islam are both ‘religions of peace' they are being perverse.

When language is debased by perverse thinking war becomes peace and all distinctions are rendered meaningless. Socialism embraces perverse thinking when it argues for a utopian egalitarianism that constitutes an assault on human differences, the differences that exist -- of talent, motivation, achievement, skill, and worth. It is perverse in ultimately reducing the vitality of difference in favor of deadening sameness.

Ideas do have consequences. Mass murder, idealized by Sade, became mass murder carried out by Hitler. Civilization is a fragile thing, and once perversion rules, there are no limits to the human imagination. We thought Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot were the worst, but now we see Islamic Jihadis strapping bombs to babies and blowing them up. Once again, we are in a struggle between civilization and perversion. Some remain puzzled by the alliance between modern day left-liberalism and jihadism. Perversion explains the puzzle.

To the perverse jihadis who constitute large numbers of Muslims, the existence of the female sex is threatening, hence women are treated as little more than cattle, with fewer rights than some lower animals. Why do Western feminists keep their mouths shut? Because many are themselves leftist utopian perverts, who also cannot tolerate the existence of two sexes and secretly long to submit to the appealing sadism of the jihadis.

This generation's world war:

Watch American military historian, and recipient of the US National Humanities Medal, Victor Davis Hanson discuss the current world war against radical Islam. It's chilling.

Click on the photo or go here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Western Europe's remarkable transformation.

"...what if ...the border comes to you? Not explicitly, but in a kind of demographic equivalent to the overlaid area codes of a North American metropolis. Amsterdam is the city of legalized pot and prostitution and a gay hedonist paradise. But it's also a Muslim city, overlaid on the pothead playground. At what point does the nice Dutch gay couple realize they've crossed a border? That, without getting their passports stamped or changing their currency, they're now strangers in a strange land."

Read all of Mark Steyn's article.

Stifling free speech in "crazy Canada, where political correctness rules."

This is a MUST read piece by Stanley Kurtz at NRO, pertaining to the human rights complaint filed by a London Muslim lawyer against author/columnist Mark Steyn and Canada's news magazine Maclean's.

Late yesterday I stumbled across an article about a "human rights complaint" filed by the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) against Maclean’s, Canada’s most widely-read news magazine, for running a "flagrantly Islamophobic" excerpt from Mark Steyn’s book, America Alone. At least two Canadian Human Rights Commissions have agreed to hear these complaints. Only then did I find Steyn’s too-easily-missed late-night post from Wednesday on the controversy.

This is a big deal. The blogosphere has so far largely missed it, but this attack on Mark Steyn is very much our business. There may be an impulse to dismiss this assault on Steyn, on the assumption that it will fail, that Steyn is a big boy and can take care of himself, and that in any case this is crazy Canada, where political correctness rules, rather than the land of the free. That would be a mistake. The Canadian Islamic Congress’s war on Mark Steyn and Maclean’s is an attack on all of us. I’ll say more in a moment about how a Canadian case can reach into America, but let’s first take a look at the goings on up north.

The tiff over the excerpt from America Alone is only the tip of the iceberg. The Canadian Islamic Congress has actually accused several Canadian news outlets of Islamophobia. CIC issued a report entitled "Maclean’s Magazine: A Case Study of Media-Propogated Islamophobia," in which at least 18 articles were said to show anti-Muslim bias. Canada’s National Post has been similarly attacked.

What about the article in question–the actual excerpt from America Alone published in Maclean’s? Read it and you’ll see that Steyn is an equal opportunity savager. Enervated Europeans come in for every bit as much criticism as jihadi terrorists–more, really. The closer to home, the tougher Steyn gets. Of all Europeans, Steyn is hardest on culturally "dead" Belgians, the country where Steyn’s mother and grandparents came from. The only really vicious insult in the piece is hurled at Steyn himself.


Ugly as this affair may be, can we assume that Steyn and Maclean’s will ultimately emerge unscathed–and that America, at least, is safe from this sort of crazy Canadian multiculturalism? No we cannot. However they’re resolved, these high profile cases take a toll on all concerned. More important, they send a chill over smaller fish.

Americans need to recognize the pattern here, and we also need to realize that it has already invaded the United States. American readers depend on international outlets. We often read our Steyn in Canadian publications. So an attack on Steyn in Canada is an attack on America. And recall the ongoing battle over "libel tourism," which resulted in attempts to use British law to pull Alms for Jihad from American library shelves. (Here’s the latest update on the libel tourism battle, and how it threatens free speech in America.) And take a look at this list of Muslim libel cases in America. (Be sure to read the end of that account for an understanding of how enervating and intimidating these cases can be–especially for targets less well-placed than Steyn or Maclean’s.)


Connect the dots and you will see that the attack on Mark Steyn in Canada is part and parcel of a world-wide assault on free speech that has already reached well into America. This is our battle. It is essential that there be widespread public condemnation of the attack on Mark Steyn. Not only does this "human rights" complaint have to fail, it has to fail miserably and with embarrassment. Otherwise, whatever the formal result, the chilling effect will be one more victory for the forces trying to destroy our rights.

Read the whole article.

European women drawn to Texas death row inmates.

"Imagine how hard it is to be a European man, pining away with unrequited love for a woman who is obsessed with some child rapist locked up in a Texas clink. Even I feel sorry for that guy."

Bella figura French style.

"Running is seen as a symbol of non-Frenchness".

Live Free or Die!

Iranian students protest in Tehran.The motto "Live Free or Die"

comes from a quote by New Hampshire's greatest Revolutionary War hero, Gen. John Stark. Stark reportedly gave a toast in 1809, when poor health led him to decline an invitation to a reunion of veterans of the 1777 Battle of Bennington: "Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils."
Read more about it at Powerline.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cougars eating people... first in Colorado, now in Texas...

Reviewing David Baron's book called The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature, in which Baron writes about the return of cougars to Boulder, Colorado, Glenn Reynolds wrote in 2003, in reference to that return:

In the end, of course, people started to be eaten, and the bureaucracy woke up to a degree. There's lots of interesting stuff in Baron's book about ecological change, and the folly of seeking "wilderness" without recognizing humanity's role in nature, but to me the most interesting behavior isn't the predatory nature of the cougars -- which are, after all, predators -- but the willful ignorance of human beings. So many were so invested in the notion that by thinking peaceful thoughts they could will into existence a state of peaceful affairs that they ignored the evidence right in front of them, which tended to suggest that cougars were quite happy to eat anything that was juicy, delicious, and unlikely to fight back.

This is, as Baron notes, something of a parable -- and not merely a parable of man and "nature." One need only look at the treatment of such other topics as crime, terrorism, and warfare to see examples of the same sort of misplaced sentimentality and willful ignorance. Tolerance of criminality leads to more crime; tolerance of terrorism leads to more terrorism; efforts to appear defenseless lead to war.

Nonetheless, the same strand of wishful thinking appears: perhaps this time, the cougars won't want to eat us. Some people, apparently, would rather be dinner than face up to the fact that nature is red in tooth and claw, and that -- in this fallen world, at least -- the lion lies down with the lamb only after the lamb's neck is broken. (Worse yet is the noxious strand of liberalism that suggests we somehow deserve to be dinner.)

In the United States, such silliness seems to have diminished in recent years, though it is still ongoing in Britain, where aggressive efforts to ban hunting (believed by some observers to be politically motivated) have produced promises of civil disobedience.

The effort to remake the world so that it is safe for predators seems rather odd to me. What sort of person would rather be prey? The sort who lives in upscale neighborhoods, and campaigns against hunting, apparently. I suspect that over the long term this isn't a viable evolutionary strategy in a world where predators abound.
Now the cougars are coming to a neighborhood in Texas!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Iran's tentacles in Iraq.

In November, over 300,000 Shia, including 600 tribal leaders “signed a petition accusing Iran of sowing ‘disorder’ in southern Iraq.”
Read the rest of Bill Roggio's piece, Iran's Ramazan Corps and the ratlines into Iraq.

PSYWAR Al-Qaeda style.

Fully engaged in the Information War, al-Qaeda in Iraq continues to put forth its message in Iraq under the umbrella of a notional Islamic State of Iraq and employing an Iraqi actor to fill the fictitious shoes of its purported Iraqi leader, “Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.”
Read all of it at ThreatsWatch.

Remembering Pearl Harbor.

Religious totalitarianism. appears the real problem is not a religion like Islam, or an ideology like communism. It is, instead, the successfully sinister who roam among us, driven by their amorality to do whatever it takes to gain and maintain control. Social structures, ideologies and religions with little by way of transparency, checks and balances can provide a fast track to the top for such individuals. Even Democratic processes can be subverted if a successfully sinister individual rises to the top and gains the freedom to rewrite the rules. Witness Hitler's election to the presidency that presaged his role as dictator, and Hugo Chavez's similar attempts to reshape his role as the president of Venezuela.
Read the whole article.

On Islamophobia, Canada, and Human Rights.

"One of the critical differences between America and the rest of the west is that America has a First Amendment and the rest don't."

According to Iraqi government statistics, about 1,000 Iraqis a day return home after fleeing the country to escape sectarian violence

...and ethnic cleansing, with most of the returnees coming from Syria, and very few from Jordan.

Here are some articles on the current state of Iraq that you won't read about in the regular media:

On refugees, check out Iraqi returnees…hope on the horizon .

On a $940-million power plant project in Kut, read Chinese company to establish thermal power station in Kut.

On Iraq's "fragile" security progress, read Petraeus Has Rare Praise for Syria, Not Sure About Iran.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Iraq reopens airport in Mosul to commercial flights for the first time in 14 years.

Go read about it here, here, here, here and here.

In Jordan, is abusing women an olympic sport?

Cartoon in Jordanian Paper "Al-Ghad" and in London's "Al-Quds Al-Arabi" about "New Sports In Egypt's Arab Olympics":

Hat Tip: MEMRI

The captions under each drawing read, from right to left: "Freestyle Beating," "Javelin Throw," "Abusing Women."

A Christian Response to A Common Word Between Us and You

Over 300 Christian theologians and church leaders signed the Christian Response to the October letter from 138 Muslim scholars and clerics. The following is one comment on the Christian response:

The response opens on a familiar self-loathing note, in the therapeutic style that has convinced jihadists that Christianity in the West is an empty shell, a mere lifestyle choice. Noting that Muslim and Christian “relations have sometimes been tense, even characterized by outright hostility,” the letter professes “that in the past (e.g. in the Crusades) and in the present (e.g. in excesses of the ‘war on terror’) many Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors,” and so “we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.”

The groveling self-abasement of this language, particularly its begging forgiveness of Allah, is matched only by its remarkable historical ignorance. “Outright hostility” has indeed existed between Muslims and Christians, for the simple reason that for 13 centuries Islam grew and spread by war, plunder, rapine, and enslavement throughout the Christian Middle East. Allah’s armies destroyed regions that were culturally Christian for centuries, variously slaughtering, enslaving, and converting their inhabitants, or allowing them to live as oppressed dhimmi, their lives and property dependent on a temporary “truce” that Muslim overlords could abrogate at any time.
Read Bruce Thornton's entire article.

"There are only 250 Marines in Fallujah, a city of about 350,000, right now. Last year, there were 3,000 Marines."

From Michael Totten:

There's a gigantic perception lag in America these days. The Iraq of the popular imagination and the Iraq of the real world are not the same country. It wouldn't be quite right to say Fallujah is safe. You do not want to come here on holiday. But I'm a lot safer here as an American than any terrorist or insurgent would be.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Barbórka, Miners' Day (St. Barbara Day), December 4th

Today is the traditional Polish Miners’ Day, "Barbórka", which is celebrated on December 4, the day of the miners’ patron saint, St. Barbara. In the Silesia region, the Barbórka festivities last for several days.

Read more about Barbórka here and here. And read about St. Barbara, patron saint of artillerymen, here.

Why not beat up old people?

"Let's face it, they're a pain in the neck, clogging up escalators, revolving doors, sidewalks. You're in a hurry, you've got places to go, people to see, and there's always some old coot or withered biddy shuffling, shuffling, shuffling in front of you at 10 paces an hour. In Britain, in Canada, in Europe, in Japan, in China, the population is aging fast. So, if you think there are too many codgers taking 20 minutes to board the bus right now, just wait a couple of decades. Suppose five per cent of young men get irked at being delayed by geezers. What restrains them from making grampa-whacking merely the latest normalized pathology?" Mark Steyn.

Cartoon by Scott Stantis.

The wisdom of finding aging repugnant.

Ever heard of Aubrey de Grey? Check out his essay Old People Are People Too: Why It Is Our Duty to Fight Aging to the Death . Here's an excerpt:

In the Greek myth of Tithonus, the (mortal) eponymous Trojan warrior won the heart of the (immortal) goddess Eos. Being too junior a deity to be able to immortalize her lover, Eos asked Zeus to do this–but “forgot” to ask that Tithonus also be eternally youthful. He thus became ever more frail and decrepit, such that eventually Eos had no choice but to turn him into a grasshopper.

The survival of this myth is a shining example of the pro-aging trance in action.
...discrimination of any sort is passé. Old people are people too, so aging must be seen for what it is: a scourge that deprives far more people of far more healthy years than any other. Aging, in a word, is repugnant, and we would be wiser to follow Kass’s general maxim than his specific conclusion. To persist in defending aging is psychologically excusable – fear of the unknown is a reasonable emotion, in particular – but it is ethically inexcusable.

More than 100 chieftains from Diala province stage hunger strike demanding government to end Al-Qaeda's grip in Iraq.

A relative of Fatima Adnan, 2, holds her little body. She was killed by al-Qaida militant attacks.

In the meantime, Voices of Iraq reports that more than 100 chieftains representing Diala province staged a hunger strike to get government to end al-Qaeda's the Islamic State in Iraq:
"More than 100 chieftains representing Diala, who are at a sit-in for the 4th day running in Baghdad, protesting the deteriorating security situation in their province, will start a hunger strike tomorrow until their demands are met," Sheikh Ibrahim Ali Zidan al-Ankabi told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

He explained that the angry protestors demanded the government to wage a military campaign in Diala to out an end to al-Qaeda's the Islamic State in Iraq, restrict the possession of arms to security personnel, and cancel the popular committees which have been established in the province. "More than 100 chieftains from Diala staged a sit-in in Dananir Hall in central Baghdad's al-Rasheed Hotel, following talks with the government over improvising security conditions in Diala," a source from the Diala awakening council told the VOI last Friday.

Baaquba, the capital city of Diala province, lies 57 km
northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Of Teddy Bears, Ho Ho Ho's, pledges and God.

From Mark Steyn: "...the right not to be offended is now the most sacred right in the world. The right to freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement, all are as nothing compared with the universal right to freedom from offense."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Pope's Saved by Hope ... or for those Latin lovers, Spe Salvi.

I have just finished reading the Pope's encyclical, Spe Salvi. I'll need to read it many more times, because it is a very deep and moving opus.

What struck me about it is that anyone can read it and get something out of it, even readers who are not theologians, or philosophers, but are regular folks, who have to make common and banal everyday decisions. In fact, I would argue, the encyclical letter was written with these latter individuals in mind. One immediate reading provides some clear, illuminating information. And, after that immediate reading, one gets the urge to dig a little deeper, and a little deeper, and even deeper still.

Quite frankly, although the Pope's encyclical is supposedly a message for Catholics, it is interesting that Catholics are only mentioned twice. Among those mentioned in important ways are Jews, Protestants, Romans, Saints and Christians overall.

In my cursory first reading, my favorite passage was the Pope's quote of St. Augustine:

29. For Augustine this meant a totally new life. He once described his daily life in the following terms: “The turbulent have to be corrected, the faint-hearted cheered up, the weak supported; the Gospel's opponents need to be refuted, its insidious enemies guarded against; the unlearned need to be taught, the indolent stirred up, the argumentative checked; the proud must be put in their place, the desperate set on their feet, those engaged in quarrels reconciled; the needy have to be helped, the oppressed to be liberated, the good to be encouraged, the bad to be tolerated; all must be loved.” 22 “The Gospel terrifies me” 23—
For an eloquent description of what the Pope's message really is all about, read John R. Allen, Jr.s column. I think he captures the essence of the Pope's encyclical letter here:
Benedict XVI is a classic music lover who, at age 80, still enjoys passing time at a piano keyboard. To evoke another musical metaphor, Spe Salvi amounts to Ratzingerian “variations on a theme,” reworking and refining key leitmotifs of his thought. The question is whether the new score in Spe Salvi will also catch the ears of those who, to date, have not yet started humming the tune.