Saturday, May 25, 2002

No Headline Needed

Satirewire at it's best. And again. These guys are good.

Only a Crazy Person Would Say This

Tipper Gore: Daily alerts 'exhausting' for mental health (via Drudge):
More than eight months since the events of September 11th, many people are still grappling with the emotion and anxiety resulting from that day. Longtime mental health advocate Tipper Gore spoke with CNN's Paula Zahn about the issue.
Once you realize these reports have no credibility whatsoever (via TTLB), you can go back to sleeping at night.

Frankly, I don't blame Bush. He's miffed we would accuse him of bungling things, so he's letting us experience the amount of crap the FBI has to put up with on a daily basis. "You want terror warnings? You can have terror warnings!" (okay, I do blame Bush for this.)

They've got the Order Backwards

16 Priests Have Committed Suicide (also via Drudge):
At least 16 Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children, including 12 priests in the United States, have killed themselves since 1986, a newspaper reported Saturday.
Kill yourself first. Then molest the children.

Censorship takes many forms

Progressive@cal asks of Instapundit:
"How can you possibly claim this is censorship? The students are not in position of power, nor were they preventing Rehnquist from speaking.

I am proud of these high school students who had the courage to stand up for what they believe against their administration."
The students aren't the ones who cancelled the speaking event, it was the administration. They are the ones accused of censorship, not the students. They've given the students a "heckler's veto," a classic form of censorship.

They "believe" in not wanting people to speak, that's not such a high ideal to hold.

New Liberal Blogger Demosthenes

I've noticed a new left-wing blog. He's not getting very many hits, so I'll attack him (he can thank me later):

This is just unpardonable:
In an interesting column on Islam, Jamie Glazov writes:

The typical Muslim tells me that I am wrong about Islam because it does allow free will. So then I inquire whether, in the real Islam, a woman will have the free choice to drink alcohol, go dirty dancing at a bar, pick up a guy and take him home. This always crystallizes the issue quite quickly. The Muslim usually gets very upset and responds, with much anger, about how this behavior is very wrong, how decadent the West is, and how Islam simply does not allow such immorality.

Well put. So, how's about I go have sex with some children, shoot a few guys, fist a sheep, dig up a grave and distribute the pieces of the body on my neighbour's lawn, and then play music so loud my family goes deaf and my neighbours call the cops, who I then proceed to gun down?
He can't tell the difference between The Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice and police that act to protect citizens' individual rights? These are two very, very different things. Most of what the police do in America is designed to safeguard our freedom from other people—while the Islamofascist police crush human freedoms.

Our police are not (supposed to be) enforcing the morality of the regime, but they are supposed to protect our freedoms. Yes, there is the War on Drugs, anti-sodomy laws, and there are other examples of the police enforcing laws based on morality and not on the criterion of "objective harm to others." But overall, our system is designed to protect freedom, while theirs strangles it, and this is not a small distinction when discussing an issue like "freedom."

Demosthenes says many conservatives hate liberals. He's right, and when some pundits say over-the-top things, it can be embarrassing. But then he tries to proclaim liberalism to be the superior philosophy, even while it is so unfairly embattled:
There's a reason there are no liberal militias.
Earth Liberation Front. Animal Liberation Front. The Symbionese Liberation Army. The Weathermen. The Phineas Priesthood (okay, I'm kidding about the last one). If he meant "liberal" as in "moderate liberals" and not "far-left types," I have a simple response: there are no "moderate" conservative militias. They are by definition extreme.
There's a reason that "liberal" became such a dirty word in American politics.
I'll let Matt Welch field this one.
There's a reason why Coulter was able to get away with saying that liberals should be scared into submission, or possibly executed.
Executed for treason. For treason, not just because they're liberals. Admittedly, she said liberals had to be scared or they would commit treason (which was one of those embarrassing over-the-top statements), but she wasn't calling for a killing liberals without justifiable cause.

Libertarianism has killed people?
Murray Campbell outlines the "second part" of the inquiry results into the Walkerton tragedy in today's Globe and Mail, and what it means for neo-conservative philosophy. Canadian readers will no doubt already know that the "Walkerton tragedy" was a outbreak of E. Coli in the small town of Walkerton, Ontario, that left about a dozen people dead and hundreds of other people extremely sick, and not sure whether they'd live or die. The reason why they became sick is because of libertarian philosophy. See, the Ontario neo-conservative (read: libertarian) government believed that deregulation was the answer to everything... that everything could best be provided by the market, including safe drinking water, and that government oversight of the environment was "statist" and undesirable. I'll let Murray tell it:

The second issue facing Mr. Eves stems from the clear link between actions and consequences etched by Judge O'Connor.

In 1996, as part of the cuts, the province shut down its own water-testing labs and did not require that municipalities report to the Environment Ministry unsafe-water tests received from private labs. As Judge O'Connor stated elegantly last January, the budget cuts "made it less likely" that the ministry would pursue "proactive measures" that would have identified the need to continuously monitor the Walkerton well that contaminated the town's water supply.
Libertarianism, like anything else, when taken too far can be dangerous. If I ever act as an advisor to any politician, this will be my slogan: "dead people is bad politics." Or, in other words, don't do anything that could cause people to die, because for some reason the public gets upset when that happens.

It's better to support gun control than gun rights, because even if more innocent people die when they're denied the right to carry a weapon, one solitary incident of a permitholder shooting another person in an act of "road rage" will be forever waved in the faces of the supporters of concealed carry. To clarify: don't do anything that could cause people to die, if it can be traced back to what you did.

If you're going to be a libertarian polician, go ahead and take away peoples' welfare benefits. Take their cherished government bureaucracy from them. Take the money they filched from the rich and return it to its rightful owners. But don't deregulate safety issues! Remember, "dead people is bad politics!" It just makes the most sense to start by deregulating the least important things, and not the most vital. Or, as Calvin's dad says to find the weight limit of a bridge, you "drive bigger and bigger trucks over the bridge until it breaks. Then... weigh the last truck and rebuild the bridge."

Anyway, welcome to the blogosphere...

Now, if there was only a voucher alternative, things could really get interesting

School that was center of plagiarism controversy losing personnel:
Though officials say it's not tied to this year's plagiarism controversy, Piper High School will lose almost 30 percent of its teachers and counselors, district officials said.
However, a teacher who has served as a spokeswoman for the school's teachers said she thought the plagiarism flap did have an impact. A parent helping lead an effort to recall three school board members agrees.

The controversy centers around biology teacher Christine Pelton's resignation in December after Rooney ordered her to change the failing grades of students she had accused of plagiarism. The order came after the school board discussed the matter behind closed doors the night before.
The school is being held accountable for its actions. The teachers, who have an alternative, are jumping ship. If the students also had a real alternative (like a voucher program for a nearby private school), a scandal like this could have a much wider effect on the school. And that would force the administration to do their jobs properly.

In a related story, three weeks ago the Kansas House honored her, and "legislators gave her a standing ovation."

What are the administrators teaching the students, when they let them off the hook for serious offenses like plagiarism? What are the teachers now teaching the administrators?

Friday, May 24, 2002

Chandra Chandra Chandra

According to Kaus, the body was in an area known to be near where a predator was operating, and it was near Condit's condo. The DC police are extremely incompetent, there's no doubt about that now.

It would seem Sullivan is vindicated. However, she was equipped for jogging—even though, for exercise, she used a treadmill.

Maybe... Chandra was jogging to Condit's condo for a tryst. Condit, who was paranoid (look for the bit about the elevator), had her jog through a park rather than run where people could see her. She was murdered by a creepy sexual predator in the park (she was jogging alone and at night, she would have been an easy target). Condit feels somewhat responsible for her death (not that he cares, but the media would love a story like that), so he bottles up, and hopes the whole thing will blow over.

Ironically, it would be his paranoia that not only causes her to die (by taking her through the park), it would have caused him to be fingered (she left her wallet at home on his instructions, so the police knew she was probably visiting Condit). This theory is new, it's ironic, and it's halfway between what Sullivan and Kaus are saying. Therefore, I'm sticking with it.

[update (10:24pm): It looks like Condit did it.

Her body was dumped almost the exact direction away from her apartment—in other words, he panicked and took her in the direction away from the apartment as quickly as he could after she died (she had no real reason to be jogging there). And she was found restrained with by her leggings, which suggests bondage (remember the knotted ties under the bed?)—would a creepy rapist have had a cooperative enough victim to restrain her with her own leggings? Still, new developments keep coming, so it's too early to say anything definitive]

[update (5/26 2:25am): Chandra Killing not a Random Attack: DC Detectives. She wasn't out exercising, and she wouldn't have gone into the park alone. She was lured there by whoever killed her.]

[update (5/26 6:55pm): It occurred to me, why wasn't her body in a bag? If I was planning on disposing of a body, the least I could do is cover it. And if I was going to run through a public park carrying a corpse, the first thing I would do is place it in a bag. This suggests to me the killer did not make a lot of plans in advance, and that she was killed somewhere in the park. Like the police said, she must have been lured there by someone she knew.]

Virgina Postrel gets Results! [stop emulating Mickey Kaus--ed]

Virginia Postrel writes that she's glad "to discover that Privateer's Savage Warblog ... calls this site DynaMistress. Why didn't I think of that?"

Well, I was inspired by the name "DynaMyst." I thought "Dynamatrix" might be a little too racy, even though she has been known to wear black leather...

[update (5/25 11:56am): okay, so I don't know the actual material. For all I know, it could be latex or PVC.]

Yet Another Arab Writing for the Associated Press

The AP has to accept Arab reporters to cover the territories, because anyone else would be in danger. But it doesn't have to print their propaganda without question.

Sixteen-year-old becomes youngest Palestinian suicide bomber:
An uncle, Mahmoud Abu Odeh, 38, said the teen-ager was deeply affected by news of Palestinian children being killed by soldiers. Many of those children died while hurling rocks at soldiers. Others were caught in cross-fire.
The AP is now saying "many" (how many?) of the victims were innocent children, just throwing rocks at soldiers, who shot them dead without having real cause. And the AP says this as if it's an uncontested fact.

Of course, asking the AP to look into the issue of a biased Palestinian media as being a factor in children deciding to kill themselves, well, that would be too much. There's no mention at all in the article of the lies, distortions, and extremism that can be found in most Arab media sources.

Last week when I attended the lecture by the psychofundamentalist, he said the Jews were always writing the news about Israel and Palestine. What a stupid liar. But I doubt any of the Muslims who attended the talk will ever actually look for themselves to see if he was telling the truth. They were more interested in his "breathing fire" than his accuracy.

Liberal blogger Vaara asks:
Question: Since everyone in the echo chamber hates France, why do they also loathe the EU? Whose eventual aim, according to their dark fantasies, is the complete abolition of the national sovereignty of France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands...
Because, it would be like one giant France. (actually, it would be a struggle between France, Germany, and England to dictate the direction of the EU. But France would have tremendous influence.)

Who Needs a Punditry License? Not I.

Hey! I could have written this column by John Podhoretz two weeks ago! (I've been banging on about Arafat not being popular).

But I won't pull a Hoystory and accuse him of plagiarism "inspiration," because this stuff is just too obvious.

Funniest. Mahmoud. Kahil. Cartoon. Ever.

Go ahead and cry, Arafat.

[update (5/24 6:48pm): okay, the cartoon itself isn't so funny. I'm just happy to see Arafat get beaten on by the Arab media]

For a Moment, I Thought I had Lost It

Reading James Lileks' article on May 16th (via PejmanPundit) disturbed me greatly:
Says me: The "Phantom Menace" was laden with scenes that had the dramatic zip of a concrete block being dragged across a desert, but one missed opportunity stood out -- the scene in which 3CP-O and R2D2 first meet. It's a pivotal moment in the mythology -- these are, after all, the only characters to inhabit all nine projected episodes, and the mind reels when considering how Lucas might have handled the scene -- perhaps a point-of-view shot from each robot, or some slapstick. But the scene just sat there like a dead Wookie.

Fanboy reply: "It's 3-CPO, not 3CP-O, you d00fus. Secondly, okay, when Wookies died they are instantly removed from the scene and buried according to their warrior customs, okay, and we KNOW this from the third book in the "Dark Hope of Trandor" series. Idiot!"
Have I, for the last fifteen years, been mispronouncing the name of the clumsy golden droid?

But no, I looked it up on the Internet, and I'm satisfied the name is C-3PO ("See-Threepio") after all. Lileks misread the email from the Star Wars fanatic, and then mistyped it for his column (I would bet $20 the email he received actually said "It's C-3PO, not 3CP-O, you d00fus").

If he had just used cut-and-paste (I assume fanboy sent an email), we would never know that Lileks truly believes the droid is named "Threeseepio," we would have chalked it up to a typo. Of course, if he had used cut-and-paste, he too would be unaware that he was using the wrong name for the droid. I assume the matter has been brought to his attention by now.

[Readers from now that I've wasted your time on something totally irrelevant, I'll point out you'd probably like Pejman's blog]

Armed Jews, Not Dead Jews

Suicide bomber shot dead by security guard in Tel Aviv:
A terrorist tried to enter a night club in Tel Aviv early Friday, but a security guard shot him, police said.
Israel Radio said the attacker was killed, and the bomb he was carrying went off.

Rescue service officials said one person was moderately wounded and another lightly wounded.
The casualties from a bomb exploding inside a dense crowd of people would have been horrendous. But that's why Israel has security guards outside nightclubs, it was foolish for the terrorist to attempt this. In any case, best wishes for the two victims (we should not forget them, just because no one has died).

[update (5:48am): there was some confusion, the bomber was not trying to walk in, but he was trying to crash a car bomb into the club. The power of the bomb can be seen here]

Thursday, May 23, 2002

The Sullivan-Alterman Feud, Continued

Sullivan's Daily Dish - Altercation

Alterman writes: accuse me of “gleefully” joining in when his “privacy was being destroyed” over the whole “barebacking” misghigas. Uh-oh, looks like yet another example of a (sexually nonspecific) narcissistic personality disorder at work. But let’s just chalk it up to sloppy — and hysterical — journalism. (“Fifth Columns,” anyone?) Wrong again.

I’ll admit I was tempted, particularly since the Andrew Sullivan Principles apparently include the outing of members of the Clinton administration and Rosie O’Donnell in the pages of the Times Magazine. (He won’t be doing that anymore.) But you know, pigs, mud, etc. And anyway, what’s the big deal? Some of my best friends are narcissists.
He outed Rosie O'Donnell as a lesbian? He might as well have outed Colin Powel as an African-American (the second link has been taken off The Onion so I had to link to a copy of it elsewhere).

Alterman was more than "tempted," if you'll flip back to the same article I referenced earlier (in which he clearly does attack all weblogs as "vanity websites"), you'll see this: "he posted a lurid online advertisement for unprotected sex." He was more than just "tempted" to invade Sullivan's privacy, he was eager.

Why does Alterman feel a constant need to distort what really happened?

His only defenses against charges of hypocrisy are to lie (he did "gleefully" join in) and to throw them right back at Sullivan (basically "you're a hypocrite, too!"). He says "you know, pigs, mud, etc.," but in reality, Alterman's not getting dirty, his sliminess is just being revealed.

The Fuel Depot Bombing was a Bigger Scheme than I had Thought

It was a big depot, near a residential area. Thousands could have died had it exploded. (via Tal G).

Apparently it was carried out by Arafat's Fatah movement. That would have been his death warrant.

Israel has no choice now but to carry out a full-scale assault on Gaza (though it might want to start with small raids, to soften the Palestinian defenses, before carrying out a large operation, and it might want to take it's time, invading one city a week). There's no sense in rushing. There's plenty of time, but the job has to be thorough.

I might as well weigh in on the Brock Controversy

I really don't care if he checked in to a mental hospital, even if he wrote some of his book while he was there (as Drudge breathlessly claims, this sounds like he's overstating his case to get Brock to issue a partial denial, admitting to the hospitalization), because in the end, he had to be sane to edit it. Mental illness should not have such a stigma attached to it, and it's gross to watch people attack him.

But Brock does not cut the most sympathetic figure. For him to be upset about violations of mental health privacy, he should remember that when "a bit nutty and a bit slutty" goes around, it comes around. If he's going to attack Anita Hill for being a whore and a crazy woman, he should find some other shoulder to come crying to when someone accuses him of being crazy.

Of course, there are plenty of willing shoulders. Atrios is outraged, and has nothing but sympathy for the brave, heroic Brock. These left-wingers are fun to watch, their ideology is almost a religion. They're almost saying "come to the left side, confess and we'll absolve you of all your sins" (while everyone on the right is a "whore")

Shooting at the Border Patrol—It's Nothing New

Why would Mexican soldiers attack our Border Patrol agents? (via Instapundit) In the past they were offered a $10,000 bounty if they could kill one (that's since been rescinded, but I wonder if there isn't anything similar). At any rate, a lot of Mexicans really hate our Border Patrol (they think they're entitled to unlimited immigration).

This isn't the first time an attack like this has happened. Here's an excerpt from an October 26th, 2000 article in the LA Times (sorry, no link):
U.S. and Mexican authorities Wednesday were investigating a report by Border Patrol agents that 10 uniformed men bearing rifles crossed onto U.S. soil in a canyon east of San Diego before encountering the agents and returning to Mexico.

Border Patrol officials said the agents heard shots during the incident, which occurred Tuesday about four miles east of the Otay Mesa border crossing. The case is reminiscent of other border crossings in recent years that have caused friction between the two nations.

The Border Patrol agents took cover and radioed for help "to ensure their safe extraction from the area," the agency said in a statement. "They were outgunned and outnumbered and heard gunshots. So they took cover and waited it out," said agent Merv Mason, a Border Patrol spokesman in San Diego.

The intruders, described as wearing uniforms, came within 20 yards of the U.S. officers, who announced themselves repeatedly as Border Patrol agents, Mason said. He said the other men did not identify themselves before turning and walking back to Mexico. Mason said the U.S. agents were unable to identify any distinguishing uniform markings.

A Border Patrol helicopter was sent to retrieve the U.S. agents. No one was injured.
This is totally unacceptable, and just another reason why we should seal the border. I'm not anti-immigrant, I think we should allow some sort of amnesty for illegals who we can't prove are criminals (despite the stereotype, illegals are only twice as likely to commit crimes as the average American). And we should allow a larger flow of legal immigration, it's healthy for our country, I'm not paranoid or trying to stop Latinos from "invading" or anything like that. I just think we need to get a handle on our borders.

It's not going to happen, of course, because of corporate interests. They like having "illegals"—the word is like "nigger," it's dehumanizing (even if it's true where "nigger" is a lie)—to kick around. Illegals can't complain when they're mistreated. Illegals don't have to be paid minimum wage. They don't have to be given OSHA-approved conditions.

The current situation is a crime, our nations' security is being compromised and people are being mistreated, and how did I end up ranting about this in what started as an anti-Mexico post? My right-wing credentials are growing more and more tarnished by the day. I need to get back to the Pfizer Forum before I spin out of control entirely.

Doomsday Scenario

First, I'll note that I don't think a nuclear exchange is terribly likely.

But if there is one, it will be bad. If Pakistan is going to nuke India, it will be an all-out war, and therefore a doomsday scenario. And since Musharraf will want to complicate things as much as he can before being vaporized, he might fire a nuke at China. Drawing them into the conflict (as opposed to them wanting to join of their own initiative, as I speculated below) would be very, very bad for the rest of us, who had to clean up the mess of what was left of Pakistan.

If Musharraf thought there would be total nuclear war, he might also have a few warheads smuggled out, into the hands of terrorists, to make their way in the United States, or Europe. If he's going to be dead, he might as well. A doomsday scenario between India and Pakistan would probably not be limited to the two countries.

Which is why I'm glad I think this whole thing isn't going to happen.

[update (5/24 2:33am): actually, according to Joe Katzman, the Indian and Pakistani nukes are pretty small (only 20 kilotons), so a nuclear war would not be a "doomsday" scenario, it would just be mildly unpleasant. A few big cities would burn, it would be like some of the battles in WWII in a must smaller amount of time (but faster wars have been the trend). So it's not even worth getting upset about. Just think of them as really big artillery shells.]

More on the Israeli Embassy

The ground floor was being renovated, which means builders would have had access to it. They could have sabotaged it deliberately. That would explain 1) how the fire could be so damaging and 2) how the security could have failed to prevent it.

I don't mean this is the likely scenario, but it is the most likely terrorism scenario. But for all I know, they might have hired an Israeli company to do the building (they might have been worried about surveillance devices and that sort of thing).

Does Anyone Remember the NY Sun, or SmarterTimes?

For us non-New Yorkers, it seems to be a case of "out of sight, out of mind."

What happened? Is it a good paper? Is it worth reading?

Now that the novelty has worn off, does anyone still care about it?

I haven't heard anyone from the Blogosphere mention any Sun articles as being particularly noteworthy. I haven't seen any articles typed up by bloggers and posted on the web since it just came out.

[update (5/27 12:38am): The power of the Blogosphere continues to astound! The question is asked, and then answered immediately by the National Post of Canada. How is The Sun faring? Conrad Black likes it!]


Now this just makes me angry. (via DailyPundit)

I should make myself useful

I haven't yet commented on the new suicide bombing in Israel, or the even newer fuel tanker bombing (a massive disaster narrowly averted), because they don't really change the sad situation in Israel. They just bring Sharon one step closer to invading Gaza and really thrashing the terrorists.

I haven't commented on the military buildup in India, and the threats from there to go to war with Pakistan. Indeed, Vajpayee has even called for a "decisive battle" against the terrorists.

I don't think Musharraf wants this to turn into anything bigger (Pak is calling for "talks" while India is rattling its saber), so I doubt a nuclear exchange is likely. Musharraf has to want to nuke India before there's really any chance of it happening. If India tries to push too far into Pakistani territory, the nuclear option might become Musharraf's best choice, but I just don't see India doing too much. Vajpayee is looking to carry out something similar to "Operation Defensive Shield," he wants to clear out large numbers of terrorists and humiliate Musharraf.

What happens if there is a nuclear exchange?

Pak would be decimated, as would some large cities in India. The aftermath would be very bad.

China would take advantage of the situation to either storm in and take some extra territory, or get concessions from the U.S. (like aid money) as tribute not to attack. India's nukes would be secure (assuming there were any left), but if Pak didn't use up all of its nukes, they might fall into the wrong hands (the ISI, Pak's spy organization, is filled with rogues and Islamofascists). A loose nuke could make its way straight into Osama's hands, he likely isn't so far from Pakistan (but he's probably out in the boonies, so he's not in danger of being vaporized in a nuclear exchange). Of course, everybody would be ready to pounce on Pak's nukes the instant an exchange ended.

What Damian Said

After watching the Pearl video, Damian Penny is seized with the urge to throttle the necks of the terrorists. So was I, but I figured it wouldn't do much good to blog my anger. At any rate, this news might help us all calm down: Newspaper: policeman say they saw rebel alive during Peru hostage raid. Somebody out there knows how to deal with terrorists. Of course, I prefer the "Danny Yatom Rock-to-the-back-of-the-Head" method, for style points.

Why take terrorists alive? Why take them alive? After they've been interrogated, they should be shot dead (or killed in some other befitting manner). They don't deserve to have their throats slit, though. They don't deserve to die in the way Pearl was martyred (note to any Islamofascists who might be reading this: Pearl was a real martyr, not like those monsters who die as part of a process to kill civilians).

[update (5/25 11:36am): the video has been taken down at the request of the FBI]

It's brutal, but even worse because it's a slick propaganda piece. It's worse than what you might have expected, if you thought it would just be a picture of a throat being slit. Of course, the cowardly terrorists who cut his body into ten pieces in a fit of Islamofascist glee don't show the extent of him being butchered, because even they must know it was a despicable act.

Even they must know their supporters would recognize them as bloodthirsty cowards, relishing the "sport" of cutting up a corpse.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Not Entirely Factual, but Who Cares?

What will Rush have on his show tomorrow?

This, for certain: Joanne Jacobs reports the a Dem accidentally sent a memo to a Republican... in which the Dem says a certain Social Security op-ed piece was "not entirely factually accurate . . . Talk about scaring seniors -- this may be a little over the top. But it is sooo fun to bash Republicans.:)"

She says the RNCC will release it tomorrow... this is very cool.

Accident? It's Possible...

A fire has destroyed the Israeli embassy in Paris:
The Israeli embassy in Paris was destroyed by an intense fire early on Thursday and officials said it was too early to determine the cause.

Israeli ambassador Elie Barnavi said it was most probably an accident but more investigation was needed. The building was undergoing renovation work.
"Basically there is no embassy anymore. That is the story, everything that was inside has been destroyed. The only thing that remains is outside of the building...everything we had, all our memory, our computers have gone," he said on Israel Radio.
A fire capable of destroying the entire embassy just doesn't seem likely to have been an accident. But the security in the building must have been very high, so it is possible.

Just wait for Rivero and the WhatReallyHappened crowd to say Israel torched her own embassy, to get sympathy. They're predictable, like clockwork.

[update (one minute later): I just went over to WRH, and that's already what they've posted. Like clockwork...]

[update (5/23 6:04am): if this was a ploy by the Mossad to get sympathy, why is Israel saying it was probably an accident?]

[update (5/25 7:32am): if I do ever decide to quit blogging, my last post will be a link to Daimnation. Because it's the closest thing out there to Privateer's Savage Warblog... (to be fair, I got the idea of watching what WRH was up to from reading his posts)]

Fat White Guys with Sawed-Off Shotguns

New Orleans Airport Shooting Wounds 2 (via File13):
A man wounded two people with a shotgun at the New Orleans airport Wednesday, telling investigators that he fired because people made fun of his turban.
Lee identified the suspect as Patrick Gott, 43, of Pensacola, Fla. He said Gott was carrying a Quran and invoked the name of Allah.

The sheriff said Gott told deputies he was in the terminal when people began making fun of his turban. He told investigators that he left the terminal, took a duffel bag with a shotgun out of his car, went back inside and fired, Lee said.
Before 9/11, fat white guys with sawed-off shotguns inevitably meant "militia." But now, they're Islamofascists? In any case, don't make fun of people with turbans. If they are bad guys, they'll shoot you, and if they don't shoot you, then they don't deserve the abuse (because they're not bad people). It's a no-win situation.

[update (11:53pm): it should be noted the fat Muslim guy wasn't actually trying to hijack a plane. He went to his car to get the sawed-off after the woman made fun of his turban. If he was trying to hijack a plane, he wouldn't have worn a turban (unless he was really flipping insane). And he would have brought a high-capacity handgun (or a smaller handgun), not a shotgun, which is too bulky. This was just a loony guy who drove around with a shotgun in the trunk of his car, and finally flipped out.]

[update (5/23 sometime in the morning): here are some pictures of Gott, in case you didn't believe the turbaned terrorist was a fat white guy.]

I'm no "Sullivan Apologist"

Virginia Postrel defends Andrew Sullivan's self-centered take on blogging:
In short: Promote your friends. Mention your (more famous) mentors. But don't be a fool. There is no career-enhancing reason ever to cite someone who might prove a competitor, make a cogent argument against you, or get credit for an idea you could have claimed. Andrew Sullivan is so good at this strategy that he probably doesn't even realize he's following it... I can't fault a talented writer who plays by the rules, and that's what Andrew does, brilliantly.
What is so difficult about "play[ing] by the rules?" Look, I've already followed The Sullivan Strategy for this post (I didn't link back to Postrel's page, and I didn't mention that I found what she wrote via Instapundit. Oops. Maybe it is more difficult than I thought.)

[update (5/23 3:15am): I'm an idiot. Postrel was being sarcastic. Duh. She's the best political weblogger there is. Not only does she write excellent, intelligent posts, she also has long, red blonde hair... She isn't stingy with well-deserved criticism: she tweaked Norah Vincent for trying to use using right-wing victim politics to explain the blogosphere, and she's called Sullivan on things when he's been wrong in the past. Did I mention she has long, red blonde hair?]

[update (5/23 10:00am): apparently it was just a misunderstanding, he thought it was a private email]

[update (5/23 2:27pm): my reference to not being an apologist is in reference to this, where I was defending for Sully over at Atrios' website, when I was being an apologist.]

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Alterman Enters the World of Blogging... With a Lie

Here is part of his very first post:
That said, my alleged anti-blog comments have gotten a bad rap. Norah Vincent, writing in the LA Times, and my friend Judith Shulevitz, writing in the New York Times Book Review, along with approximately a zillion other people, have seized on my criticism of the “narcissistic egocentricity” of as a knock on all blogs. It is not.

It is a knock on the kind of blogs where the blogger tells you how things are going in his bathroom, on his dinner dates with “Hitch” and his car-ride dates with Drudge.
But if you look back to the original article ("Now Sullivan has launched a career in the brave new world of 'blogging,' or vanity websites."), It's pretty hard to interpret that as anything other than a blanket attack on the Blogosphere. Of course, it was out of ignorance and not maliciousness [towards the blogosphere, there was plenty of hate for Sullivan--ed yes], so it's not really hypocrisy for him to start his own blog.

It is, of Course, Hypocritical for him to Start Such a Narcissistic Blog.

Between his May 22, 2002 / 01:30 update and his first post, I count the word "me" 12 times, and the word "I" appears 62 times. Those posts total under 3,100 words (not counting the letters from readers). That means nearly 1 out of every 42 words is a personal pronoun.

Let us contrast this with Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish. Taking the first 3,100 words from his page today, we're left with entries between "Eric's Spell Check" and part of "Now Take Gay Priests." "Me" appears only three times, while "I" has 32 hits. In other words, by this objective test, Alterman is more than twice as self-absorbed as Sullivan.

He should rename his web site to "Eric Alterman's 'Altermancation' Ericblog"

[update (5/23 8:00am): Kaus beat me to this point by eighteen hours: "I found his new MSNBC blog highly annoying (and just as much about Eric Alterman as Andrew Sullivan's blog is about Andrew Sullivan)." But he didn't have the numbers to prove it!

Alterman's lie about not trashing the entire blogosphere wouldn't be such a big deal, if he hadn't gone out of his way to post this email:
Glad to see that you’re pissing off the usual right-wing prostipundits like Norah Vincent. Isn’t it typical of her that she’d spin your condemnation of Sully’s word-diarrhea into a nonexistent blanket blog thumbs-down? But, then, the RWers are indeed, as M. Scott Peck noted, the People of the Lie: They lie so much, they’ve lost all touch with objective reality.
Becky Sharp
The Corn Belt
People of the the Lie, indeed.]

[update (months later): here's the link to where this was quoted on Sullivan's blog]

A Vote for Likud is a Vote Against Shas

Sharon is able to maintain his coalition even without Shas, because of the number of seats Likud has in the Knesset.

If the Israelis realize a vote for Likud is a vote against Shas (or, more specifically, a vote against Likud dependence on Shas), it could increase Likud's support from centrists.

I'm not as Angry As Others Might Be

PA court orders Shubaki released (via Tal G):
The Palestinian High Court in Ramallah yesterday ordered the release of Fuad Shubaki, the man believed responsible for the Karine A arms shipment who was jailed in Jericho last month.

Hussein Shuyukhi, Shubaki's lawyer, appealed to the court for his immediate release, saying there was no proof he was directly involved in the Karine A. It is not clear if the Palestinian Authority will honor the court's ruling, after a deal was reached with British and American jailers to keep him behind bars in Jericho.
Yes, this is an affront to the rule of law in the PA, and it's a slap in the face to Israel. But it's not a problem, Israel can go in and blast him with a helicopter gunship as soon as he steps out of the prison. Or they can blast him two weeks from now. They could put the whole city under siege while they go in to nab him. They have so many options.

The best option, of course, would be to confine Arafat until he puts Shubaki back under arrest, or until the IDF is able to kill him. This would put Arafat in a no-win situation (even if he resists the Israelis and refuses to cooperate to make his people think he's a tough guy, the IDF could kill Shubaki, and then withdraw from confining Arafat unilaterally, making him look even more helpless).

I can't get angry because the IDF has so many good options!

Remembering Daniel Pearl

Remember him for the secret salute he gave the terrorists, even when he knew his death was inescapable (look at his middle fingers).

Remember him for his skilled reporting. The WSJ has a collection of his best articles (via Meryl Yourish)

The video is sick, it's a celebration of the statements they were able to force out of him on pain of torture. It doesn't add anything to his memory.

It's enlightening to see which web sites have posted the video. A jihad website (I don't know which one) and a website that boasts of having "Rape Pics" as the most prominent link on the righthand side of the page (and of course, the owners of the site adopt a self-righteous attitude, telling viewers "We have the right to see how fucked up this world is"). And it's enlightening to see which sites are too chickenshit to post the video, while recommending you watch it (the Corner comes to mind).

Asparagirl goes off on a good rant about some of this.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Darth Nader Types Attack Israeli Featherless Chickens

An Israeli scientist has developed a chicken without feathers (there's a picture at that story, via Drudge). This article has more about how the bird was developed (no fancy labratory science, the people just mated different chickens). From the first article:
Animal rights campaigners condemned the plan.

Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth said: "This is scientists tampering with our food again just to make it even cheaper. I think it will have a traumatic effect on animals and the public will be horrified."

Spencer Fitzgibbon, of the Green Party, said: "It's a monster of an animal. We should be working with nature, not against it. The bottom line is profit, but it should be animal welfare."
Of course, poor people in hot climes would probably disagree with these environmentalists. And I'd go with their welfare over the philosophical cluck-clucking of a few Green types any day.

Bush Continues the Verbal Assault on Arafat

Now Bush says he never respected Arafat:
In Washington, President Bush said on Tuesday he never respected Palestinian President Yasser Arafat because he had left his people "poor and isolated and frustrated."

Speaking to European reporters ahead of a trip to Germany, Russia, France and Italy, Bush reiterated an April 4 speech in which he said Arafat had failed the Palestinian people.

"Somebody said, has he earned your respect? I said, he never had my respect, because...he let his people down. The role of a leader is to lead."
Ouch. But this is the only way to get anything from Arafat. If you want something from him, you have to push him around.

Of course, at the same time we get this crap from the State Department: Weakening of PA increased attacks on Israel

Arafat pays for attacks using PA money, the PA is Israel's enemy. The terrorism increased because Arafat wanted it to increase, he ordered it to increase, he controls the "Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades," which are part of his own Fatah organization. How our Idiotarian-Occupied State Department can fail to see this can only be chalked up to ideological bias.

I just can't motivate myself

To read all of the good arguments why Fukuyama is wrong about cloning and libertarians. I just can't bring myself to care, it's not like his articles ever made me re-question my worldview. That's the same reason I put those yellow bars around items attacking articles written by Robert Fisk. It makes them real easy to skip.

Another Classic from The Onion

Pope Forgives Molested Children

Welfare State Parasites

It's good to see Sharon dismiss two right-wing religious parties from his cabinet. The ultra-orthodox are a drain on everyone else. They don't serve in the military, unlike everyone else (they're "religious students"), and they collect a large amount of welfare benefits, and are generally despised by secularists.

The next threat is to remove them from Likud's coalition, or for them to quit on their own (which would still allow Sharon to remain in power, albeit without a comfortable margin).

Yet Another Fake Hate Crime

The owner of the restaurant Allouette has denied the incident in which Israelis were not served because of their nationality. I'm inclined to believe the owner of the restaurant, knowing nothing else, because hate crimes are sadly faked so often.

Here is a web site about fake hate crimes and why we should be skeptical about them. They're often used to get attention for the perpetrator or a favorite cause, and sometimes for insurance money. In this case, a fake hate crime might have been a real hate crime: a criminal slander that defames French people.

[update (5/22 2:47pm): Israeliguy has some email on his blog from the people involved in the incident. It seems much more believable with that evidence.]

It's True!

As grateful as we are for support of Israel from the Christian Right, it makes most of us Jews nervous. They say "God wants the Jews to have all of Israel," and we say, "no, no, no, we have to compromise!" (via AmygdalaGF, there are more interesting items about Israel on his blog today)

[update (5/22 3:12pm): Alley Writer comments on this:
Jews, and not just Israeli Jews, don't really trust Zionist Christians – By implication Mr. Beinart lumps anyone who supports Transfer into one boat. They must all be crazed, holy-roller, fundamentalist Jesus freaks who only want to bring on the End Times spoken of in the New Testament. Mr. Beinart, quite simply, is a Jewish elitist (as someone else said in the comments section of War Now ) and a bigot who hasn't a clue about why more and more Americans are in agreement with 46% of Israelis in believing that Israel will not know any measure of security as long as the "Palestinians" are allowed to inhabit the West Bank and Gaza. This is not a matter of religion, it is a matter of reality. And if Mr. Beinart can't see the strategic dangers caused by the West Bank's bulge and the narrow strip of land it leaves connecting the upper and lower regions of Israel, then he's an idiot in addition to being an ignoramus and a racist. I wonder what the Jewish equivalent of the KKK is? I have no doubt that Mr. Beinart is a proud member in good standing.
So Jews who are not in favor of transfer as the first option are "elitists?" It's not a question of being blind to Israel's security needs, it's a question of taking into account the Palestinians' grievances. They should have all been expelled in '67 (or '73), but the leadership of Israel preferred to use them for cheap labor (which was fair enough, wars with Arab countries were taking a toll on Israel's economy). But because they were not expelled, they're there, and they're not going anywhere. Transfer is the doomsday scenario, it should be the last option, not the first.]

Monday, May 20, 2002

It's Pathetic that I should Even Take the Time to Post This

Sharon never said "I control America." (via Damian Penny)

How any decent person could believe he said this is beyond me.

It's a stupid lie, but it's on its way to becoming a stupid myth.

More Apartheid in Israel

The bigoted, fascist Israelis displayed their prejudices again yesterday, when they refused to allow a Palestinian onto a segregated bus (via Tal G):
When the bus arrived, Yadan climbed on and saw that the youth was trying to enter the bus as well. "I pushed him back and told him it was a special bus. He indicated to me that he was a mute, but I repeated that even so, he was not allowed to ascend."
His only crime? He was wearing a suicide bomb belt! Why should "persons of martyrdom" be denied the right to use the same facilities as any other people? This is an outrage!

Write your congressman, today, and tell them Israel must stop making any attempts to defend itself.

Demand Israel close down the Jewish-only so-called "security roads" (built to prevent terrorists from shooting Israelis as they drove to their homes). Demand Israel close down the humiliating checkpoints (which stop suicide bombers from moving freely into Israel). Demand Israel stop making incursions into Palestinian territory (to round up terrorists). Demand Israel withdraw to the September 2000 borders (the Israelis moved in to stop the suicide bombings).

Demand Israel stop defending itself! It's racist for the Israeli government to try to defend Jewish citizens, while trying to kill Palestinian people (who happen to be terrorists). It's racist for Israel to treat Yasser Arafat like a terrorist, just because he's not white (and pays people to blow up Israelis). Stop Israeli racism!

Bold, Wild, and Daring Attacks

The San Francisco Chronicle was in hot water a few weeks ago because they labeled the murder of Danielle Shefi a "bold" move. Now there is this from the Associated Press (via LGF news ticker):
Founded as an offshoot of the PFLP in 1968, the PFLP-GC quickly gained a reputation for some of the wilder attacks against Israel. It hijacked an El Al jetliner in 1968 and machine gunned another at Zurich airport in 1969. In 1970, it planted a time-bomb on a Swissair jet that blew up on a flight from Zurich to Tel Aviv, killing all 47 on aboard.
In a daring raid, a PFLP-GC guerrilla in a hang-glider flew from Lebanon into northern Israel in 1987 and killed six soldiers before being shot dead.
So the AP thinks blowing up an airplane was "wilder" than ordinary acts of terrorism. If I am to assume that ordinary suicide bombings are just "wild," hijacking and bombing planes is "wilder," then wouldn't the attacks of September 11th have been "wildest?" If "wilder" is an objective term to describe outlandish acts of terror, why didn't the AP have the courage to stand up for objective reporting, and call the destruction of the World Trade Center towers "the wildest militant operation in history?"

And what's next? Will the next suicide bombing be "awesome" or "tubular?" Or will the Associated Press stop using language that lauds the exploits of terrorists?

The People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran

The cliche is that one man's freedom fighter is another's terrorist. But there is a difference.

It's not so hard to see the differences between two groups labeled "terrorist" organizations by our Idiotarian-Occupied State Department, Hamas and the "People's Mujahedin." Of course, you've probably never heard of the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran.

The National Council of Resistance

The Iran-e-Azad is an Iranian group working to overthrow the Mullahs. The group has several names, including the National Council of Resistance, National Liberation Army, or the "People's Mujahedin." It's based in Iraq, and apparently has thousands of soldiers, as well as armored vehicles. They were responsible for actions against America two decades ago, but since then they've focused on the Ayatollah. They've carried out military raids deep into Iranian territory, and come out successful (at least, that's what they claim, I have no way of knowing if what they say is true).

If the situation in Iran begins to get grim for the Mullahs, as Pejman is hoping it will, expect a large land invasion from Iraq. And if we assume the Mullahs haven't changed their tactics, and assuming there is a lot of confusion on the regime's side, expect a lot of human wave attacks, and large numbers of Iranian casualties. This would further demoralize the regime supporters and loyalist troops, which would lead to more and more surrenders and defections. If the NLA thought victory was at hand, they would probably march onward to Tehran, and finish the task of liberating the country in a very short time. If the NLA is as well-loved as their propaganda suggests (a common theme is that they're aided by local sympathizers, it seems they claim this after every attack), this scenario is not so far-fetched.

They would be Iran's "Northern Alliance" (the Shah's son would be like King Zahir of Afghanistan, irrelevant to the entire process, and left out in the end). According to their web site they want to create a secular democracy with rights for women, and have other laudable goals. (The Northern Alliance OTOH wasn't interested in providing rights to women until the US offered to help them oust the Taliban, at which point they instantly became defenders of women's rights.)

NCR's reasons for supporting women's rights could be Marxist, as the Federation of American Scientists claims, or they could be interested in free-market freedoms, as the New York Times claims. I don't know who's right, it may be that they used to be Marxist, and now they're capitalist, but I think FAS is correct.

They're about as undesirable as the Northern Alliance was as an ally—which is to say, we could probably work with them to overthrow the regime, and we could probably set up a democratic government to our liking.

Here is Iran-e-Azad's web page, the National Council of Resistance, and here is their military wing's, the National Liberation Army (the site has information about and pictures of their past military campaigns, both web sites are well worth reading).

What will be their Role in the Future?

Being between Iran and Iraq, and having the capability to strike far into Iran (and presumably Iraq), the People's Mujahedin should be more than minor actors in any action we take against either Iran or Iraq.

American attacks against the Iraqi military could have consequences because the NCR is friendly with Saddam, because he's letting them build their forces inside Iraq. Or they might not really care about Saddam (I doubt they have much emotional attachment to him, as soon as they took over Iran, Saddam would become their enemy), but it would still make for a complicated situation if we went in—would they be our friend, enemy, or neutral?

Apparently the Iraqi National Congress (our "Northern Alliance" in Iraq) hates the People's Mujahedin and considers them to be lackeys of Saddam.

One thing is for certain, the events in Iraq would unfold much more neatly if the Iranian regime fell and was replaced first (and when the Iraqis saw how happy the Iranians were under a pro-American regime, they themselves would be more likely to revolt or at least support our overthrow of Saddam).

Are they a "Terrorist" Organization?

Back to the issue of whether it's a "foreign terrorist organization:" what has this group done that has so angered the State Department. In order to qualify, the group must be foreign (check), it must "engage in terrorist activity," and it must "threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security... of the United States." I don't see how this group threatens American nationals, unless Khatami and Khameini have dual citizenship, or American interests (a free Iran is sort of in our interests, the last time I checked).

But does the organization "engage in terrorist activity?" As defined by our Congress, yes:
The Immigration and Nationality Act defines terrorist activity to mean: any activity which is unlawful under the laws of the place where it is committed (or which, if committed in the United States, would be unlawful under the laws of the United States or any State) and which involves any of the following:

(I) The highjacking or sabotage of any conveyance (including an aircraft, vessel, or vehicle).

(II) The seizing or detaining, and threatening to kill, injure, or continue to detain, another individual in order to compel a third person (including a governmental organization) to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the individual seized or detained.

(III) A violent attack upon an internationally protected person (as defined in section 1116(b)(4) of title 18, United States Code) or upon the liberty of such a person.

(IV) An assassination.

(V) The use of any-

(a) biological agent, chemical agent, or nuclear weapon or device, or

(b) explosive or firearm (other than for mere personal monetary gain), with intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property.

(VI) A threat, attempt, or conspiracy to do any of the foregoing.

(iii) The term "engage in terrorist activity" means to commit, in an individual capacity or as a member of an organization, an act of terrorist activity or an act which the actor knows, or reasonably should know, affords material support to any individual, organization, or government in conducting a terrorist activity at any time, including any of the following acts:

(I) The preparation or planning of a terrorist activity.

(II) The gathering of information on potential targets for terrorist activity.

(III) The providing of any type of material support, including a safe house, transportation, communications, funds, false documentation or identification, weapons, explosives, or training, to any individual the actor knows or has reason to believe has committed or plans to commit a terrorist activity.

(IV) The soliciting of funds or other things of value for terrorist activity or for any terrorist organization.

(V) The solicitation of any individual for membership in a terrorist organization, terrorist government, or to engage in a terrorist activity.
I've emboldened the things I haven't heard the NLA credibly accused of engaging in (they only need to meet one of those to qualify).

But was it "terrorist activity" to invade 100 miles into Iranian territory, killing thousands of Iranian soldiers in battle? Was it "terrorist activity" to "hijack" 34 "Chieftan" Main Battle Tanks, and bring them back to their bases in Iraq? But was it a "terrorist" act to assassinate Brigadier General Ali Sayad Shirazi of the Iranian Army, or former prosecutor Assadollah Lajevardi, who ran the Iranian prison system? (source for the assassination information: MATP 4/12/99 and Associated Press 3/14/99).

They did apparently carry out terrorist attacks against American personnel... three decades ago, during their struggle against the Shah (their excuse is that this was done by some Communists using the group's name, I'm not qualified to judge what they say). This seems a bit too ancient to quibble over when faced with the task of liberating Iran (if I wasn't alive when it happened, it's ancient history).

In any case, the American Congress is not so certain they're terrorists, even after September 11th many members continue to support them as freedom fighters and not terrorists. If any group should be classified as an international terrorist organization, it's the Iranian Government (it's foreign, it carries out illegal attacks in other countries, and it's definitely a threat to American interests). The NCR has conveniently provided a list of the victims of the Iranian government, which shows them to be the real threat.

Are the People's Mujahedin "Good Guys" or "Bad Guys?"

I can't answer that question directly, but while searching on Google I stumbled onto a National Review article (not two months old) and an exchange between the author and a representative of the PMOI.

According to Sam Dealey in the National Review, the PMOI is our enemy. Then Shahin Gobadi replies to his article, Dealey responds to the criticism, and Gobadi sends a final missive. All three letters are on this page, their order is a bit odd. Scroll down to the second letter, read that one first, then the one below it, and then the first one on the page, to get them in chronological order.

I will say it seems Dealey is a disingenuous slimeball. He says:
"From its inception over 35 years ago, the Mujahedin has consistently engaged in attacks on American interests overseas. It has killed U.S. servicemen and civilians, and bombed U.S. business offices; it participated in the 1979 seizure of the American embassy in Tehran."
But he can't come up with a more recent example of an attack on Americans. Is the PMOI still trying to kill Americans? That would be very, very relevant to deciding what sort of organization it is.

Dealey also says the NCR is "an organization the State Department classifies as a front group for the People's Mujahedin of Iran," basically accusing them of keeping their links to the PMOI a secret. But then later he accuses NCR of being brazen, saying "the U.S. front group's website openly admits its affiliation with the Iraq-based Mujahedin military force." He can't have it both ways.

He likes to harp on the fact that the PMOI is based in Iraq, but... where else are they supposed to go? If they're going to be in a state of constant war with Iran, they sort of need to be on a border with Iran.

If you hoped to end this article with some sort of satisfying conclusion neatly wrapping everything up, sorry to disappoint. I'm still trying to figure this out.

I had no idea this post would end up so long, but it is a fascinating subject and I've never heard anything at all before about this group, so I assume you haven't either (and I assume you're just as interested, if not, go read some other blog). If anyone does know anything about this group, please feel free to post below in my comments section, I'm ignorant on this issue.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

The Bush Administration gets Tougher on Arafat

Dick Cheney says Arafat isn't responsible for the actions of Hamas. But this is actually a positive development, because he and Condoleezza Rice are blaming Syria and Iran, which is a very good thing, and they're attacking the bombings as being counter to the creation of a Palestinian state (so it is therefore illegitimate):
"People who do these sorts of things clearly do not want the Palestinian people to achieve their dream of a Palestinian state, because Israel is not going to be able to live with a Palestinian state in an atmosphere of terror," [Rice] said on CNN's "Late Edition."
They also express disappointment in Arafat's efforts to control the terrorism.

Sharon says no negotiations with Arafat. The Palestinians can have Arafat, or they can have a state. Unless you're Robert Wright or Terje Roed-Larsen, you know the Palestinians hate Yasser Arafat, so this isn't a real obstacle to peace (Arafat himself is the obstacle).

The sooner Arafat is removed, the better. If Arafat does hold elections, and loses them, the peace process might continue. If he won elections, Sharon would be forced to negotiate with him (because he would have a democratic mandate). Sharon is trying to pressure Arafat into elections, in the hopes it will get rid of him. What better way to get rid of Yasser Arafat than to have him rejected by his own people?

Another Suicide Bomb Attack

This time in Netanya (the same city as the Passover Massacre). A bunch of people were blasted while they were shopping in the market.

This suicide bomber apparently came from Tulkarem, a city in the West Bank. Sharon's temporary "wall" is working out satisfactorily (they've been stopping bombers almost every day), but it's not perfect. A passive wall will clearly not be enough, the Israelis will need to make constant incursions into Palestinian cities to round up suspects.

Luckily there's a low death toll, apparently only one person was killed and only 20-some injured. This would suggest the bomber was using a conventional suicide bomb belt, and not one of the belts containing high-grade explosives (those are more common in Gaza anyway, because of the smuggling tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt and the ability to bring weapons in by sea).

[update (8:53pm): The death toll has risen to three and the number wounded is 56. The small number of deaths still suggests it was a primitive bomb and not like the one used in the Passover Massacre. The bomber in Rishon Letzion probably came from Gaza (because his bomb killed fifteen) but that isn't known for certain. Hopefully Operation Defensive Shield at least prevented for now the Palestinians from using high-grade explosive belts in the West Bank.]

Elections in the Palestinian Authority

What does Arafat demand before he'll hold the elections he promised? He wants the Israelis withdraw to the lines they held before the latest intifada. In other words, he wants to make it easier for terrorists to carry out attacks. The Israelis are not going to fall for this, only a left-wing European diplmat (or someone at our occupied State Department) could be suckered in by Arafat's ploy.

I hope the Palestinians hold elections, and I hope they vote for Hamas. They should vote to go to war with Israel, and when they're thoroughly thrashed, they should go back and vote for some people interested in peace. Once they've actually voted for the terrorists, they will only be able to blame themselves when Israel cracks down. Once they realize they're in control of their fate, they should start making smarter decisions.

It would also be nice if they voted for the peacemakers from the start. The worst possible outcome would be if Arafat's PLO wins the elections, because that would mean no change from the status quo.

[update (5/20 12:02am): to expand on what I said earlier, I think this gets back to the different ideas liberals and conservatives tend to have about the world. The left-wing view is that giving the Palestinians aid and making them comfortable will stop the terrorism. The right-wing view would hold that giving them responsibility for their own fate would be the best way to stop the terrorism. Obviously, I'm on the right.]

I'm #1 (plus or minus 2,097)

My Alexa Ranking: 2,098

This puts me at a higher rank than even the most famous bloggers:

Andrew Sullivan: 14,875

Matt Welch: 100,843

Virginia Postrel: 109,420

Glenn Harlan Reynolds: 1,423,497

But I'm tied with Damian Penny, Pejman Yousefzadeh and Atrios: 2,098, 2,098, and 2,098

What are the odds?

In any case, this puts me up in nearly the top 2,000 people of the web. There are 6,000,000,000 people on earth, which means approximately only one out of 3,000,000 of them are as important to the internet as I am. Going to night school to get my punditry license was definitely the right career move.

(but on a serious note: everybody go turn on your Google Toolbars and visit Instapundit, it needs some hits)

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