Friday, February 18, 2005

Jack and Pastorius Duke It Out

My friend Jack, over at Jack of Clubs, had a post yesterday, entitled The Only Eason Jordan Post I Will Make. The post consists of a story, related to another blogger, about a General in the American Army telling a group of reporters,

" ... that if any of their reporters or crews got into trouble - any time of the day or night - to call him. "Don't worry about protocol," he said. "Get to me as quickly as you can, and we'll try to get help to your people as quickly as we can."

Jack comments:

I mention this not because I care about Jordan or the blogospheric victory that everyone is crowing about, but because this story shows a fine example of modern chivalry.

Hmm. Yeah, I know Jack cares about chivalry. It's in his biline. But wait, he cares more about the chivalry aspect of this story, than he cares about the Eason Jordan story? I couldn't understand his perspective, so I fired off an email to him:

You don't care about the blogospheric victory in the Eason Jordan case?
Sorry bro, but it is a big, big deal.
Hugh Hewitt, and myself, I do so unhumbly add (for I also noted thesimilarity) have called this "rise of the blogs" the informationreformation. It is the same thing. It is the destruction of the"intermediary priests" of information, of the central text of ourcivilization.
That is a huge victory not only for democracy, not only for humankind, butfor God's Kingdom on Earth as well.
It's harder for lies to prevail when there are millions fact-checking the central text.
You and I have discussed these issues in the past and have been inagreement. So, I conclude that maybe you were just being loose with yourlanguage when you said that you "don't care about the blogospheric victory".

Note, that I am even more arrogant and obnoxious in real life than I am on this blog. Can you imagine having to be around me day after day. And yet, my wife loves me. Or, so she says.


So, here's Jack response:

The principle is important but I think the application in this particular instance is somewhat trivial. In fact, it is because I see the principle as so important that I am a bit sanguine about the importance of this particular case. Jordan's remarks strike me as simply a typical bit of leftist paranoia on the same order as the "blood-for-oil meme" or the "Bush knew about 9/11" one. Deplorable, but not particularly damaging, since no one but fellow leftists will take it seriously.
Jordan's position as chief news executive makes this a bit more newsworthy than similar sentiments expressed by, say, Maureen Dowd, but in the long run it isn't what he said that matters so much as what he thinks. As Glenn Reynolds points out, this entire controversy could have been avoided if he had simply apologized for the remarks, in which case he would have been able to go back to quietly spinning CNN's news coverage toward the left without much interruption. Maybe the next guy will be a bit more savy, a bit more subtle. I think this is how we got stuck with Clinton in '92: people had gotten so sick of true believers like Carter and Dukakis that Darwinian pressures elevated someone more able to triangulate.

I don't want to minimize the good work that the folks who have covered this story have done. But I do think that the coverage was disproportionate to the importance of the story, and it has distracted some people from covering other stories that are equally important, if not more so. I have temporarilly stopped reading Captain's Quarters because he doesn't seem to have anything else to talk about. Persistance is one thing, but obsession is another. And the self-congratulatory tone of some of the coverage could very well backfire.

When I said I don't care, I meant precisely that. Not that other people should not, but that I don't. My criticism is not directed at people who followed the story, but at those who lost their sense of proportion and, perhaps more important, their grasp of strategy.

Well, I understand the comment about the self-congratulations. Really, the story is done. I believe it was Captain's Quarters who warned, though, that there is a man in line for Jordan's job (his name, I believe, was Kris Craemer) who has made similar comments to those of Jordan, on several occasions. So, the point is, that part of the story is not over. It will have done little good to have gotten rid of Jordan if another anti-American liar steps right in to replace him.

But, I must say, I completely disagree with Jack. I think I'll have to stop being friends with him.


Perhaps, Jack should personalize this a bit. How would he feel if Eason Jordan had accused him of murder at the Davos Conference?

Update: Jack comments:

I feel the need to clarify that my comments about Captain's Quarters were not intended to single that blog or Ed Morrissey out for particular criticism. Nor did I intend to suggest that all of the negative attributes I mention in that paragraph were characteristic of CQ. CQ has been, and remains, one of my favorite sites and I only mention it in this context because it illustrates my point about the tendency of some bloggers to become inordinately focused on a particular issue. That is, of course, their right and I am glad to a certain degree that others are addressing these issues because it leaves me free to talk about things that interest me more.

The Jihadi's Love Their Children Too

Wretchared from Belmont Club commonly writes important articles containing enlightening analysis. However, his breakdown of the recent testimony before Congress of various "terrorism experts" is downright frightening to ponder, if accurate. Wretchard notes that the experts have finally settled on a name for our enemy; they are Sunni Jihadi's.

Rumsfeld declared that the war is a global war, with fronts in many countries. As such, we will need the aid of allies around the world, all working together to stop future attacks. This is made all the more necessary by the fact that experts believe that terrorists are intent on staging a WMD attack on the United States, possibily employing nuclear weapons. So, Wretchard concludes:

What necessarily follows, though it was not specifically stated in the testimony, is that the consequences arising from the totality of the conflict will apply to the enemy as well. Defeat when it comes, will result in a loss to the vanquished proportionate to the scope of the war. To take one example, the Sunni jihadi WMD threat against America implicitly raises a corresponding threat against the Islamic world. Nuclear war, once started, means nuclear war against Sunni jihadism as well.
Osama Bin Laden's wager on September 11 has been called and raised in Iraq. No one will walk away from the table in the state he sat down. It is already unlikely that Saudi Arabia will survive in its present form, as Porter Goss' survey suggests. One might add Israel, Iraq and Iran to the list of nations which will be radically transform by coming events as well.
The truth of Rumsfeld's observation that the war against terror is largely an ideological battle can be seen in the effect it has had on Islam and the Western Left. The Sunni jihadis have long maintained that war will continue until the Islamic flag flew over Downing Street and the White House. Those being the stakes, it necessarily follows that the War, as described in the testimony of the counterterrorism executives, will if it does not result in the triumph of Islam, mean the ruin of Sunni jihadism and its Leftist allies.
Vast changes have already taken place in the US and Europe, which we are reminded will be nothing compared with what is yet to come.

The Daily Demarche links to a Miami Herald piece focusing on the car-bombing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harari, showing how the law of unintended consequences sharpens -- always tends to sharpen -- the issues along the fault lines of the underlying conflict.

The Law of Unintended Consequences warns us to expect the unexpected. Prepare, then, for the unexpected to take shape as the shockwaves pushing out from the smoldering crater in Beirut recast crucial relationships around the world. Whoever orchestrated Hariri's assassination imagined the explosive event would produce results in accordance with a master plan. It is unlikely, however, that the master plan included strengthening the bonds between the United States and France. But closer ties between Paris and Washington will undoubtedly result from the Hariri murder.

The Daily Demarche observes that as each side blunders into each other in their own ways the nature of their antagonism is reshaped in the encounter. The vortex expands and acquires its own dynamic.

Message from the Syrian regime to Washington, Paris and Lebanon's opposition: "You want to play here, you'd better be ready to play by Hama Rules - and Hama Rules are no rules at all. You want to squeeze us with Iraq on one side and the Lebanese opposition on the other, you'd better be able to put more than U.N. resolutions on the table. You'd better be ready to go all the way -- because we will. But you Americans are exhausted by Iraq, and you Lebanese don't have the guts to stand up to us, and you French make a mean croissant but you've got no Hama Rules in your arsenal. So remember, we blow up prime ministers here. We shoot journalists. We fire on the Red Cross. We leveled one of our own cities. You want to play by Hama Rules, let's see what you've got. Otherwise, hasta la vista, baby.

The question is, does one side have to play by the same rules as the other? Is it necessary that we up the ante everytime they do? I guess the answer is, when the pot is all or nothing, then you have no choice.

I pray that it does not come to that.

The solution is to stop Iran before they build nuclear weapons. Yesterday, George Bush was asked about the subject of Israel attacking Iran's nuclear facilities. He answer was surprisingly undiplomatic:

Q: Mr. President, I recall a conversation a small group of us with a very senior administration official about a year ago, and in that conversation, the subject of Iran and Israel came up. And I’m just wondering, what’s your level of concern that if Iran does go down the road to building a nuclear weapon, that Israel will attack Iran to try to prevent that from happening?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, of course the — well, first of all, Iran has made it clear they — that they don’t like Israel, to put it bluntly. And the Israelis are concerned about whether or not Iran develops a nuclear weapon, as are we, as should everybody.

And so the objective is to solve this issue diplomatically, is to work with friends, like we’re doing with France, Europe, and — I mean, France, Germany, and Great Britain, to continue making it clear to the Iranians that developing a nuclear weapon will be unacceptable.

But clearly, if I was the leader of Israel, and I listened to some of the statements by the Iranian ayatollahs about — that regarded my security of my country, I’d be concerned about Iran having a nuclear weapon, as well. And in that Israel is our ally, and in that we’ve made a very strong commitment to support Israel, we will support Israel if — if there’s a — if their security is threatened.

There was no equivocation in that answer. There was no clarification as to what he meant by "if their security is threatened." Instead, the way I read that statement, the President implied that Israel's security is already threatened by the prospect of a nuclear Iran.

When Europe Is Unhappy With America
It Means We Are Doing Good

Victor David Hanson, from the National Review:

In the war against the Islamic fascists and their supporters there have been a number of unheralded victories that have played some role in changing the landscape of the Middle East and eroding the power of the Islamists.

The first bold move was to censure and then ignore Yasser Arafat for his complicity in unleashing suicide bombers, his rampant corruption, and his stifling of Palestinian dissidents. At the time of the change in American policy, other members of the quartet — the Russians, the Europeans, and the U.N. — were aghast. The "moderate" Arab world protested vehemently.

Pundits here alleged Texas recklessness and clung to the silly idea of the Arafat/Sharon moral equivalence, as if a freely elected democratic leader, subject to an open press and a free opposition, was the same as a thug who ordered lynchings and jailed or murdered dissidents.
Review press accounts from the summer of 2002: Neither ally nor neutral approved of Bush's act of ostracism and instead warned of disaster. Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country then held the EU's rotating presidency, lectured that without dialogue with Arafat "Israel could not stop Palestinian violence through force." A circumspect Colin Powell visited the region often to smooth over hurt feelings and in the process to soften Bush's bold action. Dennis Ross, remember, had met with the American-subsidized Arafat almost 500 times, and it was said that the latter visited the Clinton White House more than any other foreign leader — a fact apparently lost on the Palestinian street, which still spontaneously cheered on news of September 11.

Lost in all the controversy was the simple fact that Arafat had come to power through a rigged vote. He proceeded to corrupt the state, censure the media, and let thugs terrorize Palestinian reformers while he systematically looted public monies. His legacy was a ruined economy, murder, and systematic theft.

All knew this; few would say it publicly; none would do anything about it.

Calumny followed as the Israelis unilaterally went on to start their fence, take out the terrorist elite of Hamas, plan to abandon Gaza, and, pace Mr. Moeller, precisely through force crush the intifada. In those bleak months of suicide murdering, Arafat courted the world's sycophantic press as he railed against Sharon from his pathetic bunker at Ramallah.

Then something unexpected happened. Almost imperceptibly in his last two years, he devolved from a feared dictator to a defrocked terrorist to finally an irrelevant functionary. That metamorphosis proved critical as a prerequisite to his demise, as Arafat slowly lost his four-decade-acquired capital of intimidation — critical for any Middle East autocrat — and with it his grip on the popular imagination of the West Bank. In the Middle East a tyrant can look murderous or even psychopathic, but not impotent — and especially not ridiculous.

Thus when he died, far from being sanctified as a mythical strongman, he was almost immediately forgotten and his legacy is currently undergoing a sort of Trotsky-like erasure.
Postmortem stories almost immediately spread about absconded funds, tawdry fights broke out over his estate, and, mirabile dictu, a few signs of freedom emerged on the West Bank as elections mysteriously followed and with them renewed discussions of peace. The American ostracism did not ensure that we would see a settlement, only the chance that we could — and that is some progress in the Middle East.

Now in hindsight, few seem to object to the ostracism of Arafat. The moral?

As a rule of thumb in matters of the Middle East, be very skeptical of anything that Europe (fearful of terrorists, eager for profits, tired of Jews, scared of their own growing Islamic minorities) and the Arab League (a synonym for the autocratic rule of Sunni Muslim grandees and secular despots) cook up together. If a EU president, a Saudi royal, and a Middle East specialist in the State Department or a professor in an endowed Middle Eastern Studies chair agree that the United States is "woefully naïve," "unnecessarily provocative" or "acting unilaterally," then assume that we are pretty much on the right side of history and promoting democratic reform.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Palestinian Army

From Associated Press:

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip - Palestinian policemen, who have been given the task of restraining militants, say they can't or won't do the job. Interviewed at their front-line positions, some say they feel sympathy for the gunmen, while others fear getting shot at by Israeli troops.

The shortcomings of Palestinian police were evident last week when officers stood by as Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets and mortar rounds at Jewish settlements in Gaza. Officers also did nothing when gunmen broke into Gaza's central jail, killing two inmates and abducting a third who was later slain.

"This is all part of the state of chaos we have been living in," said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' security adviser, Jibril Rajoub.

But, clearly, it's not the chaos they've been living in, when you take this into account:

In the first decision of its kind since he succeeded Yasser Arafat, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has ratified death sentences against three Palestinians found guilty of “collaboration” with Israel.

It is not clear when the three men, whose identities were not revealed, will be executed by firing squad.

However, senior PA officials told The Jerusalem Post that the three were Gaza Strip residents who had been convicted of “high treason” for tipping off Israeli security forces about the whereabouts of wanted gunmen.

Sakher Bsaisso, a senior Fatah official who also serves as PA governor of the northern Gaza Strip, confirmed on Wednesday that Abbas had authorized death sentences against three alleged “collaborators.”

Bsaisso said the three had been convicted of assisting Israel in the assassination of a number of Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip over the past four years, but refused to elaborate.

Yes, it's not the chaos they just happen to be living in. It's the chaos they purposfully have created.

Tell me, if the government supports the "gunmen", and the police support the "gunmen", and the people support the "gunmen", well then, doesn't that make them the official "gunmen" of the Palestinian territories? And what do we call the official "gunmen" who protect a people from their enemies?

Well, where I come from we call them an Army.

And what does a country do when the army of another country attacks it? Well, it is their responsibility to protect their citizens by beating the army of the other country until they agree to terms of peace, or until they are no longer able to be a menace.

The Bonfire Of The Vanities

New Yorker, Kurt Andersen, discusses the mood of his fellow Manhattanites in the wake of the Iraqi elections. From Front Page Magazine:

At a media-oligarchy dinner party on Fifth Avenue 72 hours after the elections, the emotions were highly mixed. The wife of a Democratic Party figure was (like me) unabashedly hopeful about what had happened in Iraq. Across the table, though, the wife of a well-known liberal actor was having none of it; instead, she complained about Fahrenheit 9/11’s being denied an Oscar nomination. And a newspaper éminence grise seemed more inclined to discuss Condoleezza Rice’s unfortunate hairstyle than the vicissitudes of Wolfowitzism. It was the night of the State of the Union speech, but as far as I know, no one (including me) ducked out of the dining room to find a TV. Who really wanted to watch Bush take his victory lap?

Like most New Yorkers, I disagree with the Bush administration politically, temperamentally, and ontologically most of the time. Two years ago, however, unlike most New Yorkers (but probably like most Americans), concerning Iraq I went from 50-50 fence-sitting to fretful 53 percent support of an invasion. So the ups and downs of the war and occupation since have conformed, more or less, to my own deep ambivalence.

But for our local antiwar supermajority, the Iraq elections were simply the most vertiginous moment of a two-year-long roller-coaster ride. By last November, they’d hoped the U.S. would see things their way—and it was some solace that by January, a solid majority of the country apparently agreed with New York that Iraq was a mess and a misadventure.

Until the Iraqi vote: surprisingly smooth and inarguably inspiring and, in some local camps, unexpectedly unsettling. Of course, for all but a nutty fringe, it is not a matter of actually wishing for an insurgent victory, but rather of hating the idea of a victory presided over by the Bush team. (I may prefer the Yankees to beat the Red Sox, but I cannot bear the spectacle of Steinbrenner’s gloating.) Three months after failing to defeat Bush in our election, plenty of New Yorkers privately, half-consciously hoped for his comeuppance in Iraq’s. You know who you are. Last week, you found yourselves secretly . . . heartened—and appalled—by the stories of the Marine general who said it was “a hell of a hoot [and] fun to shoot some people” in Afghanistan, and about the possible Islamist drift of the Shiites who will now govern Iraq. When military officers show themselves to be callous warmongers, and neocon military adventurism looks untenable, certain comfortable assumptions are reaffirmed.

Like “radical chic,” a related New York specialty, “liberal guilt” once meant feeling discomfort over one’s good fortune in an unjust world. As this last U.S. election cycle began, however, a new subspecies of liberal guilt arose—over the pleasure liberals took in bad news from Iraq, which seemed sure to hurt the administration. But with Bush reelected, any shred of tacit moral rationale is gone. In other words, feel the guilt, and let it be a pang that leads to moral clarity.

Each of us has a Hobbesian choice concerning Iraq; either we hope for the vindication of Bush’s risky, very possibly reckless policy, or we are in a de facto alliance with the killers of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. We can be angry with Bush for bringing us to this nasty ethical crossroads, but here we are nonetheless.

You know, guilt should usually lead to an apology of some sort. Do I hear one rattling around in that guys head somewhere?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Anti-Bush Media Darling
Turns Out to Be Anti-Semitic Lunatic

From the Weekly Standard:

MICHAEL SCHEUER has uncovered "the most successful covert action program in the history of man." Or, at least that's what he told an audience at Council on Foreign Relations in New York City on February 3. The CIA's former bin Laden-hunter-turned-public-persona is the widely cited author of a scathing critique of the Bush administration's war on terror, Imperial Hubris. Since his resignation from "the Agency" in November 2004, he has become best known for his view that the West is really losing the war on terror. Perhaps he should also be known for his work uncovering conspiracies.

According to Scheuer, the tiny nation of Israel is not a valuable ally in the Middle East, but instead the author of a vast conspiracy to hijack the direction of American foreign policy. Scheuer explained to the CFR crowd that Israel dictates the course of its relationship with the United States. He explained, "we can no longer afford to be seen as the dog that's led by the tail." Scheuer further warned, "I don't think we can afford to be led around, or at least appear to be led around by them."

How does a nation of roughly 6 million people control the foreign policy of the world's lone superpower? According to Scheuer, Israel accomplishes this feat through a variety of clandestine activities. When asked by a member of the CFR audience to clarify what he meant, Scheuer explained:

Well, the clandestine aspect is that, clearly, the ability to influence the Congress--that's a clandestine activity, a covert activity. You know to some extent, the idea that the Holocaust Museum here in our country is another great ability to somehow make people feel guilty about being the people who did the most to try to end the Holocaust. I find--I just find the whole debate in the United States unbearably restricted with the inability to factually discuss what goes on between our two countries.

His second claim, however, mimics the type of anti-Semitic propaganda that emanates from state-controlled media monopolies in the Middle East every day. Arab propagandists often accuse "the Jews" of winning "world sympathy by playing on the Holocaust and Nazi atrocities." This is a recurring motif, for example, in Saudi state-owned newspapers.

In Imperial Hubris, Scheuer endorsed the view that widespread Muslim hatred of America is an outcome of American policies that are perceived as anti-Islamic and not the result of Muslim hatred of western ideology or culture. In advancing this argument Scheuer ignores the role that state-controlled propaganda plays in shaping popular opinion in the Middle East. He also ignores the argument that U.S. foreign policy has been, on balance, ostensibly pro-Muslim and pro-Arab.

History is replete with examples, but several will suffice: the U.S. saved Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from Israeli forces in Beirut in 1982; assisted Muslims against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan throughout the 1980s; freed the Muslim nation of Kuwait and prevented the invasion of Saudi Arabia by a supposedly secular tyrant in 1991; and intervened on behalf of Muslims in Somalia and Bosnia.

More tidbits from the article include:

Scheuer rails against the U.S.-Israeli relationship and "congratulates" Israel on its unprecedented success,

Surely there can be no other historical example of a faraway, theocracy-in-all-but-name of only six million people that ultimately controls the extent and even the occurrence of an important portion of political discourse and national security debate in a country of 270-plus million people that prides itself on religious toleration, separation of church and state, and freedom of speech.


He wrote, "[i]n an astounding and historically unprecedented manner, the Israelis have succeeded in lacing tight the ropes binding the American Gulliver to the tiny Jewish state and its policies . . . "

Ok, so think about it. This guy was interviewed admiringly by 60 Minutes in the runup to the election. Did the prep team for 60 Minutes not know that his book contained such Protocols like lunacy?

Blog Burst For Terry

Terry Schiavo looks like she is alive to me. I've seen film of her on television. Her mother talks to her and Terry turns her eyes in her the direction of her mother and smiles. That looks suspiciously like a living human being to me.

Now, it could be that someone is using some advanced bionic puppeteering techniques of which I am unaware, but until the evidence is presented for such deception, I think I'll go with my gut.

Some bloggers have decided to throw a Blog Burst for Terry. I'm throwing my hat in the ring on this one, albeit in an unofficial capacity. Thanks to my friend PapiJoe at Marlowe's Shade for making me aware of this.

Participating bloggers include:

A Mom And Her Blog
American Daughter Med.Ctr
Basils Blog
Ben's World
Broken Masterpieces
Caos blog
Cat House Chat
Conservative Friends
Contemplating the Laundry
Cranky Neocon
Crystal Clear
Discarded Lies
GOP Christian
GOP Insight
HCS's Pad
Hidden Nook
Jack Lewis
John Bambenek
Justice for Terri Schiavo
Knitting a Conundrum
La Shawn Barbers Corner
Lilac Rose
Marlowes Shade
Media Soul
MoFiZiX Gr4FiX
My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Myopic Zeal
Right As Usual
She Who Will Be Obeyed
Silver bubble
Slobokan's Site
Sounding the Trumpet
Stand in the Trenches
Terri's Ring
The Bandwagon
The Black Kettle
The NY Minute
The Seventh Age
The Smarter Cop
The Wide Awakes
Truth Be Told
Uncle Jack's
Vince Aut Morire
Web Nuts
Wild Wisconsin
Wittenberg Gate

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I've finally entered the 21st century enough to add photos to CUANAS. This is a picture of the great Jaco Pastorius. The man from whom I take my nom de plume.

Jaco Pastorius entered the national stage of the American Jazz Scene in 1975 playing on Pat Metheney first album, "Bright Sized Life", and recording his own debut for Epic. Jaco introduced met Weather Report leader Joe Zawinwul backstage at a concert, shaking his hand and introducing himself, "Hi, I'm Jaco Pastorius. The greatest bass player in the world." Zawinul remarked famously, "I knew then, this guy was either a genius or a fool."

As fate would have it, Pastorius would over the next thirteen years prove himself to be both. The genius was his doing. The foolishness was the result of Bipolar Disorder aggravated, I believe, by the stress of almost constant touring, and drug use.

The brilliance of Jaco music lies not in the compositions he leaves behind, although he did compose and arrange some brilliant and exceedingly joyful. Instead, Jaco's brilliance, to my mind, expressed itself in the awesome lucidity of his playing. Complex ideas seemed obvious and the stuff of destiny when emitted from the mind of Jaco. He could play a flurry of notes, or a gentle melody with equal clarity.

Sometime in the early 1970's Jaco got the idea of removing the frets from his electric bass guitar. He replaced the slots with wood putty and then covered the entire neck of the bass with multiple layers of marine epoxy, the kind they use to cover the woodwork on ships. This excessively hard and slick surface is said to have accounted for the "singing quality" of his unique sound. I think this is partially true.

Certainly, a fretless electric bass was a rarity in those days if not a completely non-existent entity. And Jaco played the fretlessness of his bass for all it was worth, sliding between notes, almost constantly and using a swaying and slow vibrato. At moments of great tenderness in music, Jaco seemed to stoke the eery bittersweetness of the melodies he would play by emphasizing the dissonant ends of this vibrato sway. Whatever the magic technique he used, it never failed to raise the hair on the back of my neck and bring tears to my eyes.

Additionally though, Jaco was an sonic innovator in multiple other ways. He pioneered the use of a larger speaker system, and added sound "effects" to his arsenal, in the form of digital delay and a "chorus" effect. Chorus had not been heard on electric bass before. Prior to Jaco's unique application of the effect, I had only heard chorus used to fatten vocal tracks, or maybe in minute doses on guitar. But, Jaco used the effect liberally serving to give his bass a very thick yet almost liquid sound.

During his career, Jaco played and recorded with luminaries such as Weather Report (for whom he produced, composed, and arranged as well), Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheney, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, Michael Brecker, Paul Bley, Ian Hunter (of Mott the Hoople), Toots Thielman, John McLaughlin, Jimmy Cliff, Tom Scott, and Flora Purim.

To my mind, his best work is contained on the albums:

Heavy Weather, and 8:30 by Weather Report,
Mingus, and Don Juan's Reckless Daughter by Joni Mitchell
Word of Mouth, by Jaco Pastorius

Posted by Hello

Pass The Dutchie From The Left Hand Side

And don't bogart the freedom, bro. From Charles at LGF:

Michael Ledeen calls for a historic referendum against shari’a and for democracy in Iran:

Our victory in Fallujah has had enormous consequences, first of all because the information we gathered there has made it possible to capture or kill considerable numbers of terrorists and their leaders. It also sent a chill through the spinal column of the terror network, because it exposed the lie at the heart of their global recruitment campaign. As captured terrorists have told the region on Iraqi television and radio, they signed up for jihad because they had been told that the anti-American crusade in Iraq was a great success, and they wanted to participate in the slaughter of the Jews, crusaders, and infidels. But when they got to Iraq — and discovered that the terrorist leaders immediately confiscated their travel documents so that they could not escape their terrible destiny — they saw that the opposite was true. The slaughter — of which Fallujah was the inescapable proof — was that of the jihadists at the hands of the joint coalition and Iraqi forces.

Thirdly, the brilliant maneuvers of the Army and Marine forces in Fallujah produced strategic surprise. The terrorists expected an attack from the south, and when we suddenly smashed into the heart of the city from the north, they panicked and ran, leaving behind a treasure trove of information, subsequently augmented by newly cooperative would-be martyrs. Above all, the intelligence from Fallujah — and I have this from military people recently returned from the city — documented in enormous detail the massive involvement of the governments of Syria and Iran in the terror war in Iraq. And the high proportion of Saudi “recruits” among the jihadists leaves little doubt that the folks in Riyadh are, at a minimum, not doing much to stop the flow of fanatical Wahhabis from the south.

Thus, the great force of the democratic revolution is now in collision with the firmly rooted tyrannical objects in Tehran, Damascus, and Riyadh. In one of history’s fine little ironies, the “Arab street,” long considered our mortal enemy, now threatens Muslim tyrants, and yearns for support from us. That is our immediate task.

It would be an error of enormous proportions if, on the verge of a revolutionary transformation of the Middle East, we backed away from this historic mission. It would be doubly tragic if we did it because of one of two possible failures of vision: insisting on focusing on Iraq alone, and viewing military power as the prime element in our revolutionary strategy. Revolution often comes from the barrel of a gun, but not always. Having demonstrated our military might, we must now employ our political artillery against the surviving terror masters. The great political battlefield in the Middle East is, as it has been all along, Iran, the mother of modern terrorism, the creator of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, and the prime mover of Hamas. When the murderous mullahs fall in Tehran, the terror network will splinter into its component parts, and the jihadist doctrine will be exposed as the embodiment of failed lies and misguided messianism.

The instrument of their destruction is democratic revolution, not war, and the first salvo in the political battle of Iran is national referendum. Let the Iranian people express their desires in the simplest way possible: “Do you want an Islamic republic?” Send Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel to supervise the vote. Let the contending parties compete openly and freely, let newspapers publish, let radios and televisions broadcast, fully supported by the free nations. If the mullahs accept this gauntlet, I have every confidence that Iran will be on the path to freedom within months. If, fearing a massive rejection from their own people, the tyrants of Tehran reject a free referendum and reassert their repression, then the free nations will know it is time to deploy the full panoply of pressure to enable the Iranians to gain their freedom.

The time is now. Faster, please.

Roger L. Simon writes:

We have been accused of late (falsely, I believe) of being a destructive force, of tearing things down like a mob. Surely, the call for a referendum in Iran is not that. It is the promotion of democracy at its purest. Bloggers on all sides of our political spectrum should be able to get behind that. I’m in.

I’m in too. Challenge the mullahs. The time is now.

I'm in too. Take some freedom and pass it on, my brother. Peace out.

Things Were Better In The Old Days

From an article by Diana West, posted at Townhall:

It would be a hoot to hop into a time machine and travel 40 years back, with press clippings of Paul McCartney's Super Bowl performance in hand, and try to explain to the folks in 1965 the cultural changes that were in store for them. Not that this would be an easy task. Who in 1965 could imagine, as Beatlemania was approaching its anti-Establishment crescendo, that the day would come when Beatle Paul would be the one the whole nation would congratulate, according to one review, for providing "decent half-time entertainment," fulfilling a virtual "guarantee he'll be innocuous," while not minding "his role as the Super Bowl's atonement for past excess."

The fact was, once, "decent," "innocuous" and "atonement" were not the first words associated with young Paul, John, George and Ringo. As The Beatles, they, more than any other rock act, produced the heartbeatingly familiar and practically worshipped 1960s soundtrack of rebellion and collapse. Or was that peace and love? I always get them confused.

In any case, the Fab Four were still combustibly controversial with barely prevailing middle-class culture back in 1965. They were still seen as the flying wedge of rock culture that sundered families and propelled generations along separate tracks. Indeed, The Beatles were rather more likely to be banned from major venues (as they were in Cleveland) than credited with raising the moral tone inside them.

What would help 2005 explain to 1965 the transformation of Paul McCartney from barbarian at the gate to defender of the faith? I'm not sure that simply appending the appearance of the Beatle to the appearance of the breast would make much sense. But even if The People We Used To Be acknowledged that The People We Have Become regard Paul McCartney as mainstream-wholesome, it remains very hard to explain why. Sure, at age 62, Paul McCartney is older. But it's worth noting that the songs he played to be innocuous and decent in the 21st century were the songs he played to be groovy and cool in the 20th. In other words, he didn't change: We did.

Listening to Sir Paul the other night (note: don't forget to tell 1965 that Queen Elizabeth knighted him in 1997) was an unnerving experience for a kaleidoscopic -- dare I say psychedelic? -- mix of reasons. He was in fine, if paler voice, hitting every familiar note and lick (to the point where one critic wondered if he had been lip-synching). It was as though the performance had been frozen in time, his for the remixing.

This is one thing if you're 62-old Pavarotti singing "Pagliacci," or even 62-year-old Noel Coward singing "Mad Dogs and Englishmen." But 62-year-old Paul McCartney singing "Baby, you can drive my car" is something else again. Jingle-catchy though the song may be, there was something more than a little pathetic about "Car/star/car/cuz baby I love you" 40 years down the pike; ditto for "Get Back," with its once ... Shocking? Unsavory? Dangerous? Reference to "California grass." Today, of course, soaked in the tepid wash of a toxic mainstream, we consider it decent.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the hollowness of the McCartney music was a little surprising. That hollowness was probably accentuated by the music's place very much at center stage, and by its distance from the psychodrama of the 1960s. Long ago, The Beatles sang the songs that accompanied the upending of a civilization -- the anti-war movement, the sacking of the universities, the explosion of illegal drug use, sexual experimentation, four-letter-language; the cultural and stylistic works. Theirs was a songbook redolent of the revolution that has permanently eliminated the barriers and boundaries that once regulated the mainstream. That revolution, of course, is how we got to Janet Jackson's MTV moment last year in the first place.

Is it just me, or is Diana West kinda hot? I mean, really. She's hot. Click over and check out her photo.


Anyway, listen, she makes some good points. But you know, that reference to "grass" is hardly the death knell of civilization. I'll bet you Diana sat on her Daddy's knee when she was a little kid and laughed at Foster Brooks' drunk act. What's worse, drunkeness, or a reference to marijuana?

Like it or not, marijuana is part of our culture. I know, and have always known, people of enormous responsibility, and enormous success, who are regular everyday marijuana users. One guy I know is the CEO of a major HMO, and he sparks one up every day. It's his martini.

Of course, a lot of what came out of the sixties was bad and has continued to have a residual negative effect on our culture. But, do you want to even start to argue with me about whether things were better in American culture before the 1960's? Come on, Diana, I dare you.

Let's look at one simple thing. I remember standing on the lawn in front of my house with my father and the neighbor, oh this must of been around 1968, and the conversation went something like this:

"Yep, we gotta make sure that ole' Mr. Smith doesn't sell that house to no niggers. Hey, look that faggot hippy over there. Them faggots gonna ruin our country. Pinko faggot hippies."

That man, also, was the CEO of a big medical company. I'm conflating several conversations, and giving the conversation more of a southern bubba sound (for comedic effect hope you laughed) but faggot and nigger were the words used. That was the soundtrack I heard from adults when I was a kid. So, go ahead all you arch-conservatives and try to argue with me. Because I've only gotten started.

The American Thinker
Might Want To Think A Little More

Steven Warshawsky, writing in the American Thinker (such an important name) says Condi Rice doesn't have what it takes to be President. The main body of the argument is that Rice has no Executive experience. He makes the point that most 20th century Presidents have either been state governors, or they have led the military, as did Ike.

Ike notwithstanding, do you really think that heading a government entity is "executive experience"? What kind of Republican are you, my friend? Governments have elastic and artificial budgets. Therefore, leading a government is playland. If someone happens to be a truly effective governor, it is not the result of something they learned from government. It is the application of a practical, intelligent mind to real world problems.

George Bush is not a genius. And I'm pretty sure he is not involved in the nitty gritty details of governing. George Bush is a visionary and an intensely brave man, with an incredible ability to stick to a plan while in the midst of a tornado of criticism. George Bush also knows how to surround himself with people who are good at nitty gritty details. These qualities are the mark of a great executive.

Warshawsky apparently doesn't know what makes a great Executive because he never actually gets around to naming the qualities which he believes Condi Rice lacks.

Anyway, it is in these paragraphs where Warshawsky really demonstrates his foolishness:

Finally, one cannot ignore the demographic factors that would play into a Rice candidacy. First, while I do not believe that Rice’s being black is a negative, neither is it a plus. I do not doubt that there are voters who would not vote for her simply because of her race, but I am convinced their number is too small to make any difference electorally. Nor is there any reason to believe that these voters are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats or to reside in “swing” states versus solidly red or blue states. So whatever political effect such racism would have is likely to be negligible. At the same time, there will be voters who will be energized by the prospect of electing a black President and “sending a message” that racism has been relegated to the dustbin of American history. (Much of the excitement over the prospect of a Colin Powell candidacy in 1996, which I shared, came from these sorts of feelings.) Although such sentiments are honorable, they are unlikely to motivate many Republican voters, who will refuse to play “diversity” games with the Presidency of the United States, or persuade many Democrats – who otherwise revel in diversity games – to vote for a conservative presidential candidate.

Rice’s being a woman is a different issue, however. Whether we like it or not, most Americans – men and women – are not accustomed to having women in positions of significant authority outside the family. Moreover, I think it is safe to say that many Americans – men and women – view women CEOs, women generals, and women political leaders through a rather skeptical lens. Especially women generals. Do many people outside of NOW take them seriously, as leaders of men who go into battle to kill the enemy? I doubt it. Well, the President is commander-in-chief of the most powerful military in world history, one that is engaged in deadly hostilities, and deadly serious stand-offs, across the entire globe. Fair or not, the American people will not easily be persuaded to put a woman in this position.

This guy is, to my mind, profoundly ignorant of the way the world actually works. First off, if Mr. Warshawsky doesn't think we elect our leaders for less than practical reasons, then how does he account for the fact that John Kerry (a man who never articulated a clear position on any issue other than the "global test") got 48% of the vote? And how does Mr. Warshawsky account for the fact that the better looking candidate almost always wins? Practical considerations do factor in, but according to my judgement Condi Rice will likely prove to have enough of the qualities that people look for.

The rise and durability of the cults of Presidents like Reagan and Kennedy teach us of the most important factor in how Americans decide who to vote for. It's all about the story we want to tell ourselves. The candidate who tells the story the most clearly, and with the most force of personality, is the candidate who will set fire to the public imagination and who will win the vote everytime.

Condi Rice, from what little we've seen of her so far, looks to be a rather charismatic woman. She has a winnng smile, and a powerful, but controlled anger. These are very important qualities for a Presidential candidate. But the most important quality Condi Rice has is the story of her and her family and their dignity in dealing with the racism of 1950-60's era Alabama. The story of her rise out of relative poverty to the halls of highest power in the United States. This is the story Americans want to tell themselves about themselves.

I've got $1000 sitting here waiting for you, if you want to bet me on it, Mr. Warshawsky.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Haunted Europe

From the New York Times:

ANTWERP, Belgium - Filip Dewinter, a boyish man in a dark blue suit, bounds up two flights of steep stairs in his political party's 19th-century headquarters building where posters show a Muslim minaret rising menacingly above the Gothic steeple of the city's cathedral.

"The radical Muslims are organizing themselves in Europe," he declared. "Other political parties, they are very worried about the Muslim votes and say let's be tolerant, while we are saying - the new political forces in Europe are saying - no, we should defend our identity."

From the Freedom Party in Austria to the National Front in France to the Republicans in Germany, Europe's far right has made a comeback in recent years, largely on the strength of anti-immigration feelings sharpened to a fear of Islam. That fear is fed by threats of terrorism, rising crime rates among Muslim youth and mounting cultural clashes with the Continent's growing Islamic communities.

But nowhere has the right's revival been as swift or as strong as in Belgium's Dutch-speaking region of Flanders, where support for Mr. Dewinter's Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Interest, has surged from 10 percent of the electorate in 1999 to nearly a quarter today.

Vlaams Belang is now the strongest party in Flanders, with support from a third of the voters in Antwerp, the region's largest city. Many people worry that the appeal of antiIslamic politics will continue to spread as Europe's Muslim population grows.

"What they all have in common is that they use the issue of immigration and Islam to motivate and mobilize frustrated people," said Marco Martiniello, a political scientist at the University of Liège in the French-speaking part of Belgium. "In Flanders all attempts to counter the march of the Vlaams Belang have had no results, or limited results, and no one really knows what to do."

Fear of Islam's transforming presence is so strong that even many members of Antwerp's sizable Jewish community now support Mr. Dewinter's party, even though its founders included men who sympathized and collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

Many of those supporters are Jews who feel threatened by a new wave of anti-Semitism emanating from Europe's growing Muslim communities. The friction is acutely felt in central Antwerp, where the Jewish quarter abuts the newer Muslim neighborhood of Borgerhout.

From what little I know of the Vlaams Belang, I think that Jews who choose to support the Party do so out of a political expediency which very well may come back to bite them in the ass in the not too distant future.

There, Hasidic diamond traders cross paths daily with Muslim youths, for many of whom conservative Islam has become an ideology of rebellion against perceived oppression. Israeli-Palestinian violence produces a dangerous echo here: anti-Israel marches have featured the burning in effigy of Hasidic Jews, and last June a Jewish teenager was critically wounded in a knife attack by a group of Muslim youths.

Think about that. They protest Israel by burning the effigy of a Hassidic (Eastern European) Jew. And they say they aren't anti-Semitic, they are just against Israeli policy.

Behind the wooden door of a brick Brussels town house, Jean-François Bastin, 61, a Belgian convert to Islam, holds court before a steady stream of Islamic activists. His fledgling Young Muslims Party is one of the new groups aggressively pursuing pro-Muslim agendas in Europe.

He calls Osama bin Laden "a modern Robin Hood," and the World Trade Center attacks "a poetic act," "a pure abstraction." His 23-year-old son is in jail in Turkey on charges that he was involved in the bombings there that killed 61 people in November 2003.

But Mr. Bastin argues that his son's troubles are evidence that Muslim youths feel politically excluded in Europe. He says political engagement is an antidote to militancy.

"There is deviance because people don't find their place here," he said, a long, hennaed beard falling over the front of his Arab-style tunic, his graying hair tucked beneath a turban fashioned from a multicolored head scarf. "If we deny that political voice that can judge and determine what is good for Muslims, from the point of view of their religion and their citizenship, their children are going to look for adventures elsewhere."

Mr. Bastin, who converted to Islam in 1972 after a spiritual quest led him to Morocco, dismisses the far right's fears of an Islamization of Europe, even if he does dream of an Islamic theocracy governing the Continent someday.

"Were not talking about Shariah now," he said, referring to the Islamic legal code that fundamentalist Muslims believe should be the foundation of society. "Were talking about Belgian Muslims being recognized on the same footing as other confessions and ideologies."

I guess he's willing to wait on the Shariah. That makes me feel more comfortable.

Many of the extreme right's supporters see Islam's growing European presence as the latest, most powerful surge of a Muslim tide that has ebbed and flowed since the religion spread to the Continent in the eighth century. They warn that lax immigration policies, demographic trends and a strong Muslim agenda will forever alter Europe.

The Continent's Muslim population, now 20 million, grew from a postwar labor shortage that was filled with workers from North Africa and Turkey. By the 1980's economic malaise and rising unemployment had created tension between the largely Muslim immigrants and the surrounding societies.

But family reunion policies, which granted visas to family members of immigrants already in Europe, fueled another, more sustained wave of immigration that continues today.

"We were very naïve," Mr. Dewinter said of the liberal policies. He called tolerance Europe's Achilles' heel and immigration Islam's Trojan horse.

The trend is even more distressing to the far right when considering the low birthrate of Europe's traditional populations and the likelihood that more workers will need to be imported in the coming decades to broaden the tax bases of the Continent's aging societies.

Already about 4,000 to 5,000 Flemish residents are leaving Antwerp every year, while 5,000 to 6,000 non-European immigrants arrive annually in the city, Mr. Dewinter said. Within 10 years, he predicts, people of non-European backgrounds will account for more than a third of Antwerp's population.

"It's growing very, very fast," Mr. Dewinter said. "Maybe that will be the end of Europe."

It seems like Europe is wedged in by a set of circumstances, somehow, perfectly constructed to expedite the rise of the far-right. Yesterday, I wrote about how the "skinheads" staged a 5000-person strong rally in Dresden. The article noted that they are angry that people do not recognize their suffering in World War II. Leaders of a prominent political party in Saxony had called the bombing of Dresden a "holocaust".

The Germans seem to have a unique ability to take offense at the destruction that bring upon themselves. History tells us that the rise of Hitler was brought about by German anger over the humiliating terms of surrender they were forced into at the end of World War I.

It's interesting to watch, as history unfolds before our eyes, how current events in Europe seem almost like an eery echo of the the 1930's. From Wikipedia:

In the West, those who believe in ghosts sometimes hold them to be souls that could not find rest after death, and so linger on Earth. The inability to find rest is often explained by unfinished business, such as a victim seeking justice or revenge after death. Criminals sometimes supposedly linger to avoid Purgatory or Hell.

What spirit is it that haunts Europe, lingering in the halls of European culture, repeatedly playing out it's vengeful script?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Thousands of Neo-Nazi's
March In the Streets Of Germany

From Reuter's:

DRESDEN, Germany (Reuters) - Waving black flags and carrying banners, thousands of neo-Nazis marched in Dresden on Sunday, marring the official 60th anniversary commemoration of one of the fiercest Allied bombing raids of World War II.

Before the march Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder pledged to stop far-right groups exploiting the anniversary and portraying Germany as a war victim while ignoring Nazi atrocities.

Police said at least 3,000 people joined the march in the eastern German city, making it one of the biggest far-right demonstrations since the war. Before the march, police said 5,000 attended a neo-Nazi rally.

Once a fringe group, the neo-Nazis have seized on Germany's recognition finally of its own wartime suffering to grab headlines and forge political gains, especially in the east where unemployment remains high 15 years after unification.

Thousands of officers, backed by water cannon, were drafted into the city to stop the far-right supporters -- banned from wearing bomber jackets and boots -- clashing with anti-fascist activists, who chanted "Nazis out" from neighboring streets.

Official ceremonies began with a wreath-laying ceremony at a mass grave for 20,000 victims while neo-Nazi marchers elsewhere in the city carried balloons saying: "Allied bomb terror -- then as now. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden and today Baghdad. No forgiveness, no forgetting."

Dresden, untouched by bombing just months before the end of World War II, was nearly destroyed by two waves of British bombers on the night of Feb. 13, 1945. U.S. planes blasted the city the next day.

"We expect an official apology from Britain," NPD leader Udo Voigt told Reuters on the margins of the march.

The official death toll is put at around 35,000 but many survivors believe the actual number was higher as bodies were reduced to ashes in the ensuing firestorm.

British, American, French and Russian dignitaries attended events meant to send a message of peace and reconciliation, whilst remembering the crimes of the Nazis and those cities which shared Dresden's fate.

Members of the NPD that sits in the Dresden-based Saxony state parliament provoked outrage last month by walking out of a commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp and calling the air raids a "bombing holocaust."

Britain's ambassador to Germany, Sir Peter Torry, told Sunday's Tagesspiegel newspaper likening the bombing of Dresden to the Holocaust was "highly problematic" but played down the threat posed by the NPD. The Nazis killed six million Jews in the Holocaust during World War II.

"I would take the phenomenon seriously but not overrate it. The neo-Nazis got into Saxony's parliament but on a low turnout," he was quoted as saying.
Yeah sure, don't worry about the fact that people have been elected into the German Parliament by running openly as Nazi's for the first time since WWII.
And notice the Nazi's are againt the iraq War. I guess they're peaceful Nazi's

Being Left Means Never
Having To Say You're Sorry

From AP, via Powerline:

Iraqi election results are about as expected. Turnout was a terrific 60%. The Shiite-backed slate (which also includes Sunnis and others) led with 48% of the vote; the Kurdish list got 26%, and interim Prime Minister Allawi's party received 14%. Seats in the new Assembly will be more or less proportional to the vote; somewhat remarkably, I think, only twelve coalitions will be represented in the Assembly.

Behind the scenes politicking will now go on as the Assembly prepares to write a new Constitution. Great. Is it perfect? No. But for Iraqis, it's a wonderful introduction to the normal world after thirty years of living in a nightmare.

I want to point out that Allawi, who many on the left have intimated was in cahoots with Bush, was part of the imperialistic plans that America has for Iraq, received just 14% of the vote, compared to the 48% of the Shiite Party. I guess we're just not very good at executing our imperialistic designs anymore, huh? Looks like Bush better bone up on the Imperialism: Raping and Pillaging for Fun and Profit book they gave him back in Skull and Bones.

Hell, if Diebold could fix the elections for Bush here in the U.S., why couldn't they fix them in Iraq? I guess Bush oughta fire the CEO of Diebold, right?

So, you know, I'm waiting to hear an apology, aren't you?

Sorry to be so sarcastic, but I admit it, I am really, just, you know, pissed off.

When we handed the oil back to Iraq, there was no acknowledgement. When we handed control of the country back to the Iraqi's, there was no acknowledgement. When we set election dates, they opposed them, saying (somehow, I never understood the logic) that elections would bring about the destruction of Iraq. When the election happened, and looked to have been a success, we were treated to one article (by a guy from Chicago Sun-Times, I believe it was) stating grudgingly that he might have to admit Bush was right. And now this. I'm waiting.

Crickets chirp. Frogs ribbit. Lileks bleats. All the chorus of nature swells up in the silence

Dostoevsky The Prophet

From an article by Collin Hansen, entitled Dostoevsky's Disregarded Prophecy, in Christianity Today:

The dogma of progress may never recover from the 20th century. Entire continents razed by war, whole peoples wiped from Earth, generations decimated for no good reason—such an optimistic view of human capacity didn't have a chance. What could possibly cause such catastrophic anguish? How could we fail to adapt, evolve, or learn from our earlier mistakes?

Before the killing started, Europe's brightest intellectuals gathered in fashionable salons to debate Marxism, eugenics, and utopia—ideas that would unleash this destruction. Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky chaired many such meetings during the mid-19th century. By the time he completed The Brothers Karamazov in 1879, Dostoyevsky had established himself as a foremost opponent of secularism and revolutionary Marxism.

His prophetic denunciation of secular totalitarianism—embodied less than a century after his death by Hitler and Stalin—helped me understand the root of rebellion against God that haunted the 20th century and threatens us still today.

You can't learn Dostoyevsky without learning about his Christian faith. And despite majoring in European history and taking a class called "American Evangelicalism," I had yet to hear a compelling or fair case for Christianity until we began reading about the dysfunctional Karamazov family.

Dostoyevsky's Christian faith, like his writing, bears the mark of tortured genius. His biography from 131 Christians Everyone Should Know explains, "Though a devout Christian, he was never a good one." He squandered royalties while gambling and frantically authored his greatest works to stay one step ahead of the creditors.

Perhaps Dostoyevsky owes his unique brand of confrontational apologetics to this messy faith. Never inclined to moderation, Dostoyevsky slaps you in the face with dingy scenes of urban squalor and shady, depraved characters. His Underground Man in Notes from Underground notoriously inspires a prostitute to love him, then seduces her, only to humiliate her by paying her for the occasion. The Karamazov family patriarch cares so little for his children that he forgets they even exist. Dostoyevsky reminds us in Memoirs from the House of the Dead that "the executioner's nature is found in embryo in almost every contemporary man."

Many of Dostoyevsky's characters bore the strikingly complex image of their creator. Troubled in his youth by Russia's dismal poverty and indifferent leaders, Dostoyevsky developed an affinity for revolutionary philosophy. According to these theories, the inherited social order prevented humans from reaching their full capacity for virtue. Therefore people should be freed from the bondage of religious superstition and empowered to overthrow their leaders. This kind of talk earned Dostoyevsky a death sentence from the czar, who pardoned him at the last second in a particularly cruel stunt intended to break his will. It worked.

Dostoyevsky wasn't off the hook, though. He labored the next four years in a Siberian work prison. There he poured over the only book he had—the New Testament. When he regained his freedom, Dostoyevsky devoted himself to defending Christianity and fighting his former allies.
Possibly his most prophetic book, Crime and Punishment details how Raskolnikov, the book's main character, kills two women and wrestles with the moral and psychological effects. Inwardly struggling to justify his crime, Raskolnikov writes an article that cites Napoleon's and Mohammed's bloodshed to argue that "extraordinary" men transcend law.
His friends discuss the article's implications: "In his article all men are divided into 'ordinary' and 'extraordinary.' Ordinary men have to live in submission, have no right to transgress the law, because, don't you see, they are ordinary. But extraordinary men have a right to commit any crime and to transgress the law in any way, just because they are extraordinary." Unaware of Raskolnikov's guilt, a friend then turns to him. "That was your idea, if I am not mistaken?"
Raskolnikov, though, faulted himself for not living up to this "ideal." He couldn't dodge the guilt. But this idea was more than just the ranting of a guilt-ridden killer. The theory had gained wide hearing in Dostoyevsky's day. Friedrich Nietzsche further legitimized the idea of a "superman" unrestrained by Christian values. A superman refuses "antiquated" notions of right and wrong, recognizing only those values that help him get ahead.

Even if you don't recognize these theories, you recognize their effect. Dostoyevsky's beloved Russia eventually succumbed to revolutionary fervor in 1917, and "supermen" Lenin and Stalin justified their murderous barbarism by appealing to visions of communist utopia. Competing forms of superman ideology clashed during World War II, pitting Hitler's genocidal eugenics against Soviet aspirations. Today Osama bin Laden, while not secular, excuses his murder of innocents by claiming a superior morality.
Dostoyevsky's great contribution to Christianity is that he shows us how to combat the destructive theories he so effectively explains. Christians must undermine the attractiveness of such ideas by bringing rebellious humans into a loving relationship with Christ. Sonia, a young woman forced into prostitution to support her step-siblings, models for Dostoyevsky how God uses unlikely vessels to communicate his truth. She accepts Raskolnikov's confession and forgives him, despite her friendship with one of his victims. She further coaxes him to realize his idea's failings and spurs him toward repentance with her unconditional love.
In our study of history, we are bound to wonder how our loving God could tolerate such evil as we experienced in the 20th century. While writing a thesis in college about Christian opposition to Hitler's terror, I couldn't help but cry over horrific tales of senseless murder. Dostoyevsky never shies away from these problems of evil. But even after posing difficult challenges to the Christian faith, he refuses to provide tidy answers. He prefers to illustrate consequences, reminding us what a world without God looks like. Finally, he exemplifies the simple yet determined Christian character that offers a hopeful alternative.

While I appreciate this article, there are two very flawed ideas threaded into the fabric of Mr. Hansen's overall point. One is that Osama bin Laden excuses his murder of innocents by claiming a superior morality. That is an almost wholly inadequate explanation. The truth is, Osama bin Laden justifies his actions through a philosophy of Islamic Supremacism, not at all unlike Hitler's Nazism. Under bin Laden's Sayyid Qutb-influenced Islamist ideology, anyone who is not practicing true Islam is of the Dar al-Harb (House of War), is evil and is doing violence against Islam. In other words, they are inferior to those who live in the Dar al-Islam (House of Submission/Peace).

The other mistake in this article is Dostoevsky's idea that the servant Prostitute could "forgive" Raskalnikov. This idea is laughable. Of course, she could forgive him for the pain caused her by the murder of her friend. But, for the murder he can not be forgiven. The person he murdered is dead, so how can forgiveness be offered? The answer is, it can only be offered by God, since ultimately that's who all our murders are aimed at.

Trading Western Civilization
For A Barrel Of Oil

Here are some important quotes from ex-President of Lebanon Gemayel, brought to us by the folks at No Pasaran:

Relations between Lebanon and the European States deteriorated because the latter also tried to solve the Middle-East problem at the expense of Lebanon. In addition, many European countries had adopted the obsequious policy of fawning on the Arab States in order to secure their oil supplies. This was done, of course, at the expense of the Christians, of their security, their very existence. Bashir referred to both these factors:
"Europe and many other States are not able to digest the Christian presence in this corner of the world, because it is a stumbling-block to most of their ambitions in this area... The Americans and the West have not yet assimilated the fact that we, the Christians of the Orient, represent their last line of defense against a return to the dark ages, against terror and blind fundamentalism, against those who seek to annihilate all the values of civilization and of their culture... Today, they want to ‘sell us down the river’ for a barrel of oil!”...
These two factors led Bashir to condemn the West in these words : “The West, today, is showing signs of decadence in its policies, in its morals, in its economy.”
In his tirade, Bashir did not omit France, and he frankly blamed it for the servile attitude of its former Foreign Minister, Louis de Guiringaud. “Periodically, we were fighting in self-defense here while De Guiringaud and Mondale were criticizing us for standing firm and calling us all sorts of names, alleging that we were a band of outlaws who deserved to be punished...”
Yet, in spite of all this, Bashir reaffirmed Lebanon’s affiliation to the Western democracies : “We are a part of the Free World”.
Bashir Gemayel was assasinated by Syrian agents on September 14, 1982, mere weeks after the Parliament appointed him President of Lebanon.

On 9/11 I had a relative call me an explain, in pseudo-reasonable language, why the United States deserved what had happened. He was absolutely wrong.

On the other hand, Bashir Gemayel makes a very good point here. We are decadent in our policies, morals, and economies. We have been selling the Christian, and Jews, of the Islamic world down the river for "a barrel of oil" for the past twenty-five years. This is a deep shame on us, and it is suicidal. In this sense, we did deserve 9/11.

We need to make sure we do not bring anymore punishment on ourselves. In order to atone for our sins, we need to understand who it is we sin against and what were the results of our actions.

When you meet a person from the Middle East, ask them what brought them here. You will be amazed by the stories. The man who has been fixing my car for the past twenty years is an Armenian Christian, who lived in Iran until the Khomeini revolution. His family had been successful and happy in Iran, but were forced to flee by the often violent religious persecution of Christians.

Another person with whom I do business is a Lebanese Christian whose entire family, in a very similar story, was forced to flee Lebanon, leaving behind all their wealth.

Have you ever noticed how many people who work at gas stations, and serving you from behind counters, have an education and intelligence beyond what you might expect to find? The reason is, in many cases, these people were business owners, Doctors, Lawyers, and members of the ruling class in the countries from which they FLED. From which they were forced to flee.

My wife and her family were fled their country because of Jihadi's. Her father was from an upper middle-class family of business owners. When they arrived here in America they lived in squalor for a good fifteen to twenty years, but it was better than watching heads, literally, roll in the streets.

We live a very blessed life here in America. To continue on in our suicidal behavior is an abomination and a disgustingly ungrateful curse against our blessedness.

The Iranian Government
Formally Protested the Illegal Incursions

Oh know, the United States is violating international law again. Clearly, George Bush is the equal of Hitler:

The Bush administration has been flying surveillance drones over Iran to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs and detect weaknesses in air defenses, the WASHINGTON POST is planning to splash on Sunday.
Newsroom sources tell DRUDGE: The small, pilotless planes, penetrating Iranian airspace from U.S. military facilities in Iraq, use radar, video, still photography and air filters designed to pick up traces of nuclear activity to gather information that is not accessible to satellites, the officials said.
The aerial espionage is standard in military preparations for an eventual air attack and is also employed as a tool for intimidation.
"The Iranian government, using Swiss channels in the absence of diplomatic relations with Washington, formally protested the illegal incursions, according to Iranian, European and U.S. officials."