The Rainbow Room

It’s heerrrrre…Pajamas Media has morphed into OSM: Open Source Media. Even as I write, they are gathered in New York City, making plans for a world take-over new venture, one which will change the baby face of blogging into something more mature, let’s say an adolescent with an occasional need to shave. But OSM will grow and mature, and it’s great fun to be in on the ground floor even if we couldn’t get to the wedding.

Unable to attend, we nonetheless offer our hearty endorsement of Pajamas Media OSM (this is going to be hard to change. Kind of like when the new bride takes on her husband’s name. She may be Leticia Lesueur now, but to those who knew her when she was running around in rompers, she’s still little Tittie McFadden. So we practice saying her new name and try to look serious about it).

Meanwhile, the founders, Roger Simon and Charles Johnson — with input from many others — have announced our mission statement:

     OSM’s mission is to expand the influence of weblogs by finding and promoting the best of them, providing bloggers with a forum to meet and share resources, and the chance to join a for-profit network that will give them additional leverage to pursue knowledge wherever they may find it. From academics, professionals and decorated experts, to ordinary citizens sitting around the house opining in their pajamas, our community of bloggers are among the most widely read and influential citizen journalists out there, and our roster of will be expanding daily. We also plan to provide a bridge between old media and new, bringing bloggers and mainstream journalists—more and more of whom have started to blog—together in a debate-friendly forum.

Sounds exciting to me. It means we still get to bicker and exchange ideas only the medium will be a bit more coherent and easier to access. Another temporary battle won in the war on entropy.

In case you had any doubt at all, we are not the decorated experts mentioned above. Nor are we — Deo gratias, as the Irish used to say before they all became Euro atheists — academics. We are the ones sitting around in our pajamas, underwear, and nightgowns (or out here in the country, our birthday suits because who’ll ever know?). We have nothing to offer you but our opinions, but we have at least one of those on any topic within the purview of Gates of Vienna.*

And while I am vaguely feeling left out and envious of the celebratory doings in New York City, my karma (in the form of a leg injury in September) is keeping me glued to the chair in Virginia. Meanwhile, to get the flavor of the thing, here’s a small version of Charles Johnson’s view from the Rainbow Room. The real picture is on Little Green Footballs.

View from the Rainbow RoomThe last time I was in the Rainbow Room I went dancing in a plum colored dress from Saks Fifth Avenue and had Grand Marnier soufflé. But that was long before the blogosphere was born, back when the ethernet was just beginning to spread its ganglia into the universe. We talked about Teilhard de Chardin and I danced with an older and stately man who had worked in the French Underground in World War II and taught ballroom dancing to Nazi officers. He was an excellent dancing teacher too: the first man who could show me how not to lead. As the Baron can tell you, that’s no mean feat.

Another world. Another time. And yet de Chardin’s ideas (despite his other sins) about a “world wide web” have come to be.

Goodbye, Pajamas. Hello Open Source.

* All the other, overflowing and off-topic opinions are here, in The Neighborhood of God. Everything from appellations to zucchini.

Curses! Foiled Again!

No to WICANN!The headline in CNN — “Deal averts showdown over Internet control” — was alarming. What kind of deal? Have we really given away the ICANN store? Traded our internet birthright for a mess of UN pottage?

The folks at the Times Online had a different take on the same event: “US set to maintain grip on the web.” That’s a relief!

Apparently CNN was trying to put a brave face on the UN’s essential helplessness at the World Summit on the Internet Society (WSIS), which opened today in Tunisia. According to the Times,

     The United States looks set to maintain its control over the internet after an eleventh-hour deal averted a potential split between America and the rest of the world over the future governance of the web.
It had been feared that disagreement between the US, which made clear it would not relinquish its control over the way domain names such as “.com” are assigned, and other countries, which have called for more open control, could have led to the establishment of two competing internet standards.

That’s just what we need: “more open control,” along with more “war is peace” and “freedom is slavery” and all the other oxymoronic doublespeak, the lingua franca of Big Brother and the UN.

So we dodged a bullet; things will remain the same for a while.

     The three-year deadlock in the talks has centred on Washington’s exclusive oversight of the private body that oversees the key technical and administrative roots of the global network. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), is now expected to have its tender renewed by the US government next summer.
“We did not change anything on the role of the US Government with regard to the technical aspects that we were very concerned about,” David Gross, the American team’s lead negotiator, said.
“We saw the world’s countries recognising how very important the internet is and how important the growth of the internet is, and no one created a problem that could help retard that growth.”
Countries such as Iran and China had sought UN oversight of ICANN or internet governance. The European Union had also called for US powers to be diluted and had called [for] an inter-governmental oversight body to be formed.
However, the tentative agreement reached overnight set up two parallel tracks of multilateral talks, including an open-ended process “towards enhanced co-operation” by “relevant international organisations” on oversight and public policy issues. The process will be triggered by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan early next year, but will have no set targets.
The other track creates an Internet Governance Forum (IGF) for an initial five-year term to hold talks on all internet issues, including problems such as spam, cyber crime or computer viruses.

This “deal” looks like a good one to me, playing on the strengths of the parties involved. The United States will continue to do what it has been doing competently so far. The UN will do what it is best at, namely jaw and jaw and jaw and…

     After a final session during which US, Chinese and Iranian diplomats swapped suggestions for new wording, officials applauded efforts to widen the scope of formal discussion to industry and civil society.
The IGF, which Greece has offered to host, will also be allowed to “build on the existing structures of internet governance” but has no concrete powers.
“The worst has been avoided but we’re not sure that the best is to come in the future. We have left a door open,” a member of the French delegation, Bernard Benhamou, said.

So even the French — the French, mind you — are relieved that the UN will keep its sticky fingers off the internet for the time being. “The worst has been avoided,” indeed.

I’m certain that the Gang of Fifty Thousand will live to ankle-bite another day, but for now we can relax.

Next up: the FEC. Don’t take off your pajamas just yet.

Islam, Fascism, and Liberals

Neo-neocon has a good post today about the word “Islamofascism”. She derives it both from the behavior of its fanatical adherents, and from its historical connection with the Nazi regime in World War II.

What is most notable and poignant about the post is the reminder of the consequences she has had to endure by “outing” herself as a conservative fish in a vast liberal pond. I’d don’t know that I’d have the guts to do what she did.

And — alas — her astute and cogent analysis of Islamofascism did not manage to bring any of her friends around to her position.

Dymphna and I are fortunate — we move mostly among people who are either conservative or apolitical. Oh, we have our liberal friends, but our political positions do not define the relationship, and we can generally avoid trouble by staying away from political topics.

It’s not so easy for Neo and Roger Simon and others like them. When they emerged from the political closet, they might as well have painted targets on their foreheads and handed out guns to all their (former) friends.

All we can do is keep telling them how glad we are to have them here with us in the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

The UN and Its Mini-Me

Our thanks to Cato for providing a link in the comments of this post to Senator Norm Coleman’s (R.,Mn) November 7th op-ed in The Wall Street Journal regarding this UN cabal meeting in Tunisia.

…We cannot allow Tunis to become a digital Munich.

There is no rational justification for politicizing Internet governance within a U.N. framework. The chairman of the WSIS Internet Governance Subcommittee himself recently affirmed that existing Internet governance arrangements “have worked effectively to make the Internet the highly robust, dynamic and geographically diverse medium it is today, with the private sector taking the lead in day-to-day operations, and with innovation and value creation at the edges.”

Nor is there a rational basis for the anti-U.S. resentment driving the proposal. The history of the U.S. government’s Internet involvement has been one of relinquishing control. Rooted in a Defense Department project of the 1960s, the Internet was transferred to civilian hands and then opened to commerce by the National Science Foundation in 1995. Three years later, the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers assumed governance responsibility under Department of Commerce oversight. Icann, with its international work force and active Governmental Advisory Committee, is scheduled to be fully privatized next year. Privatization, not politicization, is the right Internet governance regime.

We do not stand alone in our pursuit of that goal. The majority of European telecommunications companies have already dissented from the EU’s Geneva announcement, with one executive pronouncing it “a U-turn by the European Union that was as unexpected as it was disturbing.”

Senator Coleman has begun to counter this move by the anti-freedom bloc of nations. You can read his initiatives here and his website is here.

Read the whole essay. If you find any information re his initiative in the Senate, let us know. A brief look at his website didn’t have any obvious links.

(Don’t know about you, but it still gives me pleasure to think about Minnesota’s slow blushing turn to red)

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The European Union is continuing to press for a change of the guard. Despite the hurricanes caused by the howls of laughter from the technically competent, the EU — the UN’s mini-me — wants “control” of the internet removed from ICANN and the auspices of the United States’ Commerce Department.

     The EU has been promoting its proposal ahead of the formal start on Wednesday of the three-day United Nations technology summit in Tunisia, the preparations for which have spurred accusations that the Tunisian government has barred entry to activists trying to attend the event.

That’s right: the UN decided to hold this “Technology Summit” in one of the more backward members of our glorious UN. Besides being a third world hole, Tunisia is particularly well-known for its censorship and attacks on the media. So, of course, in the Alice’s Underground thinking that prevades the UN mental processes, such a country is the perfect spot to discuss who ought to be in control of cutting edge technology in internet services.

There are reports that Tunisia is already busy preventing any dissenting groups from appearing on the scene.

     On Sunday, a reporter with the French daily, Liberation, Christophe Boltanski, was stabbed and kicked — but not seriously hurt — outside his hotel in Tunis. Boltanski had been investigating the recent beating of human rights activists in the country.
Tunisian authorities on Monday downplayed Boltanski‘s stabbing, saying it could have happened in any world capital. “It is therefore inappropriate to blow up this incident beyond its real proportions,” the government said in a statement.

Why of course it’s “inappropriate to blow up this incident” — sure it is. He wasn’t killed now, was he? This is a warning, not a final notice.

Ah, the wonderful EU and its daddy, the UN. Monster begets monster and the sane people are laughing so hard they’ve caused twenty seven hurricanes this year…well, maybe not all twenty-seven. But this malarkey has to take credit for at least ten of them.

And this isn’t over yet. Even as the EU continues to sink further into third world conditions, its envy and rage will continue to nip at our heels. Think of all the productivity this kind of sniping destroys.

Harvest of Hubris

As usual, Wretchard sums up a situation in his inimitable way. This time it is the folly and sophistry of Senator McCain’s immoral amendment regarding treatment of captured terrorists who would seek to destroy our country. Senator McCain expects our government to keep us safe from those who recognize no law, who respect no limit, and who spit upon the human compact while he still demands that this same government play nice with these murderous aliens from another moral universe.

We simply cannot have it both ways, even though John McCain demands that it be so.

What then will our cornered government do? Will it refuse the Senator’s ranting demands and thus paralyze the legislative branch? Or will it give in to the mad McCain, suffering from God knows what lingering devils of incarceration, and sign off on his simplistic amendment?

Belmont Club has a tertium quid, an unfortunate “middle way” which is likely to be the way of it. No more Guantanamo Bay, no more policing the detainees. Not by Americans, anyway. No, the killers will be disappeared into the countries of allies who sign off on all those Humane Treatment covenants and then do as they damn well think they need to when they have terrorist in hand. In other words, they will obtain the information — and it won’t be through sleep deprivation or loud music.

     In practice terrorist suspects captured anywhere in the world won’t be taken to Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, or any “hell-hole” under US control. Nor will they be handled for an instant by US nationals or taken in raids involving a single American. No, that would be too dangerous — to the health of the captives, though thankfully for the politicians, not to the legal health of the Americans. They will be captured and retained by countries beyond the circle of attention. On the day the Amendment is passed there will be light everywhere except in the places of our soul where we don’t want to look.

Thank you so very much, Senator McCain, for insuring that the treatment you received will be repeated on others. Now the karma is on your head, sir.

It is your harvest of hubris.

Saudi Arabia: Friend or Foe in the War on Terror?

During the United States Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary meetings on November 8th (postponed from October 25th), a spokesman from Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) gave testimony in defense of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in terrorist activities around the world.

Upon reading his remarks, one wants to ask if there is some Middle East aphorism about the need to take refuge from sandstorms blowing dirt in the eyes? If so, this saying certainly applies to Mr. Cordeman’s bloviations to this Committee.

Saudia Arabia is being picked on, according to the expert from CSIS:

     It is both dangerous and misleading to single out Saudi Arabia. We need to remember that 9/11 was the exception and not the rule. Most of the prior attacks and attempted attacks on the US were by North Africans, Egyptians, and Arabs from the Levant. Long before we confronted Islamic extremism and a “war on terrorism,” nations like Egypt and Algeria were fighting major extremist movements, and a different kind of Islamic extremism had come to dominate Iran. No country in the Middle East or Islamic world is free of this threat, and every moderate regime is under attack. This is a clash within a civilization at which we are on the margin.

Since we need to start somewhere, “singling out” Saudi Arabia is as good a beginning as anyplace else. It certainly has created more than its share of trouble. Nowhere in his testimony does this man mention the millions of dollars dumped into the United States by the Saudi government in an attempt to undermine us from within. On the margin, indeed. This may be a “clash within a civilization” but there is no way for others — like us — to stay out, considering the way we are attacked repeatedly. A “clash within” does not include flying airplanes into infidel buildings.

Mr. Cordeman fails to mention the Saudi funding of American mosques or the staffing of them with incendiary imams. Nor does he say anything about the widely disseminated “educational” materials for children which portray Israel as the embodiment of evil and the singular problem in the Middle East turmoil. Nowhere does he talk about the Saudi funding of chaplains in American prisons who preach Wahhabi fundamentalism and convert marginal people into a religion which seeks ultimately, the dhimmification of our country.

Mr. Cordeman makes an astonishing claim:

     There is no single cause for Islamist extremism, and no easy correlation between any given set of the region’s problems and support for violence and terrorism.

Au contraire, sir. The single cause is the prevalent Islamic belief, manifested in the particular by the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, that they have been denied the cutural and political and religious dominance in world affairs that is Islam’s rightful inheritance. Islam believes in two worlds: Dar-al-Harb and Dar-al-Islam. It is a Manichean point of view, and one that is not conducive to negotiation, compromise or shades of meaning. “Dhimmi or die” pretty well sums it up.

Saudi Arabia is at the root of much of the disorder in the world right now. If the Angel of History were to appear tonight and simply erase the Kingdom of Saud from the equation, things would change overnight. Would we suddenly experience world peace? By no means. But the engine of discord would have at least three fewer cylinders: deep-pocket funding for world-wide dissenion would decrease dramatically; terrorist invaders in Iraq would dry up; and the nasty mechanations between Syria and Saudi Arabia or between the Pakistani madrasses and Saudi Arabia would be no more. And think of all the Indonesian slaves currently in servitude there — they could all go home, taking a bit of the decadent treasure with them.

Meanwhile, we have to be on guard against a country that projects the blame for Middle Eastern problems on Israel. You have only to compare what Israel, with far less money than Saudi Arabia, made of its little patch of desert, and what Saudi Arabia, with all its billions of petrodollars has utterly failed to do for its citizenry or for the people it hires as slaves to tend to its bloated kingdom.

It is neither dangerous nor misleading to single out Saudi Arabia. In fact, it’s waaaay overdue. Let’s see what the Senate Judiciary Committee decides about the question it has posed.

Will it dare to call Saudi the foe that it really is? Will it conclude that without the Kingdom of Saud the Twin Towers would still be standing and we might not be in Iraq?

More on other Committee witnesses to follow.

The Mother Ship

Arabian dhowThe saga of the Somali pirates continues apace. According to an article over the weekend in the Independent Online of South Africa, there is a large ship directing and co-ordinating smaller vessels in the attacks on shipping, and holding the captured crews for ransom:

     Nairobi — Somali pirates attacked five ships in the past week in a sharp rise of banditry apparently directed from a mysterious “mother ship” prowling the busy Indian Ocean corridor, shipping experts said on Friday.
Most vessels escaped, but one was commandeered, bringing to seven the number of vessels now being held captive along with their crews by pirates plundering the failed state’s coastline, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said.
“Insecurity off the Somali coast has escalated sharply – it is very worrying,” Andrew Mwangura, programme co-ordinator at the Kenyan Seafarers’ Association, told Reuters. He said nine ships, including two Arabian dhows, had been seized.
Mwangura said five vessels were attacked in the past week alone including the attempt last Saturday to board the Bahamas-registered Seabourn Spirit, which was carrying 151 Western tourists.
Rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles were fired at the US-owned Spirit by gunmen in two small speedboats, but the ship’s captain managed to change course and speed away.
At the centre of the wave of recent attacks is a mysterious, so-called mother ship that has been spotted three times since late July drifting off the northeast coast of Somalia.
“We understand that this is the vessel that is launching the speedboats that go to attack the victims,” Mwangura said.
“We are still trying to discover the name of this ship, its owner, its nationality and the identity of the crew on board.”
After two years of relative calm, the IMB said 32 pirate attacks had been recorded since mid-March, including raids on ships carrying supplies for the UN World Food Programme.
Mwangura said among the ships being held hostage by pirates were vessels registered in Thailand, Taiwan, Malta and Ukraine. More than 100 crew members were being held for ransom.

The attack on the American cruise ship brought into our awareness something that might otherwise have gone unnoticed by most Americans — the extent of Indian Ocean piracy:

  • Thirty-two attacks since March.
  • Five attacks in the last week.
  • Seven vessels held captive.
  • A hundred crew members held for ransom.

And this is the 21st century, not the 18th.

This must not be a jihad operation, since “Arabian dhows” (and presumably Muslims) are among the victims. Or are these dhows insufficiently Muslim? Apostates, perhaps…?

It seems that the traditional Arab entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Somalia. A lucrative harvest of fruit ripe for the picking, just off the coast, and no annoying functioning government to interfere.

The shipping companies of the world are appealing to the UN to do its job and take care of the problem. We’ll see.

There was no UN to appeal to back when the Barbary pirates were plying their trade in the Mediterranean, no international bodies staffed with expert bureaucrats ready to leap to the assistance of the victims of piracy.

Back then, the world had to make do with the U.S. Marines.

Royal Public Enemy No. 1

Al Qaeda’s EnemyLook at those shifty eyes. Is that a criminal face or what?

Al Qaeda thinks so. According to The Globe and Mail the Big, Bad Guys have designated Queen Elizabeth II as “one of the severest enemies of Islam.” There is a video circulating in which al-Zawahiri, Osama’s boy, claims the Queen is responsible for Britain’s “crusader laws” — whatever those are supposed to be.

What a bunch of wusses. Picking on an old lady who does nothing worse than keep yappy Corgis. Maybe they think she ought to be feeding and caring for the misunderstood Muslim youth in her midst, the ones who like to set bombs off in Her Majesty’s trains.

Don’t you wonder if she lies awake at night and asks the ghost of King George VI, “Daddy, why was I born? Is this some kind of karmic payback?”

Let’s hope she gets an AK-47 and takes out a few of the more offensive of her sworn enemies. It can’t be any worse than cleaning up after those Corgris, now can it?

One thing for sure: a terrorist group that singles out an old lady is in deep trouble, public relations-wise. Islamofascists don’t like to laugh much themselves, and they sure as heck don’t like being the butt of the world’s joke…what idiot told them this was a good idea?

Maybe some good will come of this farce. Perhaps Prince Charles will get a clue and stop his mealy-mouthed “why-can’t–we-all-just-get-along” song and dance.

We can hope.

Meanwhile, keep an eye peeled for that picture on your post office wall.

Hat tip: LGF.

Vigilance at the Watcher of Weasels

Watcher's CouncilWhen I was reading all the posts for this week’s Watcher’s Council, I came to the following passage:

     When confronted with the real evil that exists in the world, e.g..the reality of gays being tortured and murdered systematically in Islamic countries; or the reality of the oppression and humiliation of women; they recite facile multicultural and politically correct mantras that conveniently prevent them from making judgments about such behavior, or from having to take action to stop it.
Let’s face it. If feminists can adore Bill Clinton, even after Paula and Monica and all the sordid details; then it is only one small psychological step further down this path for them to embrace the institutionalized misogyny of Islam.
The sickness and bankruptcy of the Marxist ideology is such that, even an attack that kills 3000 of their fellow citizens is insufficient to awaken them to the enemy that wants to destroy us.

This post,” I said to myself, “is going to place first. Dr. Sanity is articulating what so many of those who have moved to the right feel about the current multi-culti death trap the mandarins have created.”

Turns out I was correct.

Wallo World placed second for his post on the fact that ex-felons are not permitted to vote. If I could grab you by the lapels and make you read this, I would. Personal experience always moves us the most, doesn’t it? A friend of mine, a woman in her forties who trains horses and is an altogether admirable person, served time for drug possession. She used pot for an anxiety disorder because it was possible, while the meds she needed were too expensive, as were the gatekeeper doctors who could help her. She can’t vote because of her record, but to her credit she stays politically active and even served as campaign manager for someone in her community. W.W. is right:

     Clearly, I think that a lifetime ban is unreasonable and unacceptable; perhaps a provision that felons are not entitled to vote during their incarceration would be acceptable if they regained the right to do so once they completed their prison sentence. In any event, I believe it is truly time to conduct an honest reassessment of broad, extensive felon disenfranchisement laws, as they not only affect a disproportionate number of minority members and represent a historically racist attempt to suppress minority votes, but they also fail to serve any significant rehabilitative purpose.

My friend is not a minority, but she certainly is disenfranchised. She’s done the time and needs her right to vote restored. Even if our votes will cancel one another out, it pains me that I can vote — and buy medicine — and she can’t. Sometimes “it’s not fair” is the correct response to an unjust situation.

In the non-council category, Vodka Pundit led with a wide-ranging analysis of the MSM as it affects reporting on war. Mr. Green’s essay, The Arm of Decision, begins:

     Four years into the Terror War, “What’s the most important element for victory?” is a question long overdue. It’s also a question our national leadership, nearly all of our intellectuals, and none of our mainstream media have yet to answer.

It turns out that the arm of decision belongs to the media, at least for the moment. Mr. Green wonders if they can see what lies ahead should they choose to continue their attack, their siding with fellow journalists in, say, Al Jazeera, rather than with our troops’ efforts:

     There is no “fixing” the American mainstream media, unless change comes organically. When I wrote last year that we can’t win this war by giving up our freedoms, I wasn’t kidding – without a free press, we’re doomed.
But I do mean to serve notice to the MSM.
When a nation loses a war, it looks to punish the people it believes are to blame. After Vietnam, neither Washington nor our Armed Forces were ever the same again3. But if we lose this Terror War, our media will be seen as largely to blame. They’ll suffer blame for their ignorance and for their petulance. They’ll suffer blame for seeing al Jazeera as comrades closer than the privates and NCOs and officers fighting to protect the First Amendment. They’ll suffer blame for putting their hatred of a Republican President before their love of country. Whether that assessment is fair or not, it is how the public will see things.

I cannot pretend to be neutral about the MSM. It continues to be wrong, amoral if not immoral, and so stupendously self-satisfied and separate from the real world that I simply quit giving them my time or respect. Mr. Green in correct, though, in his summation:

     Today, the arm of decision is the media, and it’s impossible to predict what new power will someday eclipse it. But if our media companies lose their First Amendment freedoms in a populist spasm of government power, they’ll have only themselves to blame.
The media have the power. They wield the arm of decision. Even if only for our own sakes, let’s hope they learn to use it with more wisdom and foresight than they have these last four years.

Second place was taken by the Fourth Rail. Bill Roggio interviewed Colonel Stephen W. Davis, who is the Commander of the Marines engaged in Operation Steel Curtain in the border town of Husaybah. The interview gives the tactical details of securing the town, and the Colonel’s view of current Iraqi military progress. His most telling remark comes at the end:

     As in all of the cities and towns out here, once the citizens are free of the influence of the insurgents and are assured the Iraqi Army will remain, they open up and show us who has been supporting the insurgency, where they are hiding, lead us to ammunition dumps and safe houses and provide tips on what the insurgent have been saying and planning.

And for those of you who don’t know of Bill Roggio’s plans to imbed with the military, go here. Bill plans to stay three months and could use monetary help, not only with supplies but for the insurance he will need for his family if he doesn’t make it back. Ten thousand bucks! They have a paypal link for us lazy folk.

A short mention for third place, since Ma Deuce Gunner is leaving Iraq and his interviews will end. He provided a good window into the views of ordinary Iraqis; I’ll miss it.

As for reading the rest of us, mosey on over to the Watcher and read our posts; give him a shout-out while you’re there. He’s the one who does the drudgery every week, putting up the links to all those blooming ideas.

I don’t know how it is for the other council members, but it seems like some weeks it’s very hard to choose among so many excellent offerings.

Maximum Impact

Indian investigators have captured the man believed to be the mastermind behind the October 29th bombings in New Delhi. According to Outlook India,

     Two weeks after the serial blasts ripped through the national capital, Delhi Police today claimed to have cracked the case with the arrest of a Pakistan-based militant group Lashker-e-Taiba militant who allegedly coordinated and financed the operation.
Tariq Ahmed Dar (32), who was working as a sales representative of multinational pharmaceutical firm Johnson and Johnson, had allegedly hatched the plot along with two Lashker ultras of Jammu and Kashmir Abu Al Qama and Abu Huzefa, Delhi Police Commissioner K K Paul told a press conference.
Just days before the blasts, Rs 4.86 lakh had been deposited to Tariq’s HDFC Bank account in Srinagar from a Middle-East country. The money was meant for financing the blasts in which RDX, though not in its pure form, was used, Paul said.
He said at least four persons were involved in the October 29 triple blasts which killed 60 people and injured more than 200 others.
While two of the conspirators and executers are from Jammu and Kashmir, the others were “foreign nationals,” Paul said without identifying their nationality.

The reader is left to speculate which country or countries the “foreign nationals” might be from. Since two of the suspects are from Jammu and Kashmir, and Lashker-e-Taiba is a Pakistan-based terrorist group, there are obvious conclusions to be drawn.

The article continues:

     Putting at rest speculation that the blasts were the joint handiwork of LeT and Hizbul Mujahideen, the police chief said investigations so far showed the involvement of only LeT.
Dar was arrested in April this year upon his return from Haj as the security agencies seized foreign currency from him. He was also arrested in connection with possession of illegal arms, Paul said, adding he was out on bail in the case.
Asked whether there was any reason that the militants chose the busy markets just before Diwali, he said “they perhaps wanted to cause maximum impact.” Dar was being taken to the sites of the explosions and other places he had mentioned to verify his account.
Police teams were also conducting searches in Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and some other states for the militants still absconding.

Outlook India does not make it clear — perhaps because all its regular readers already know — that Lashker-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen are Islamic terror organizations, and that the New Delhi bombings were carried out by Muslims as a jihad operation.

Two weeks ago, when the incident was still breaking news, there was a vigorous discussion in the comments section of a Gates of Vienna post concerning whether it was jumping to conclusions to point an accusing finger at Muslim terrorists. Commenter Jez asserted that, after all, “Hindu extremists have also a history of terrorist action aimed at muslims.” I offered a $50 bet, payable to the winner’s favorite charity, that the perpetrators would be Muslims. I had no takers, strangely enough.

As many commenters have pointed out, the bulk of Hindu violence against Muslims has been in reaction to violence against Hindus, the desecration of Hindu sacred sites, and other atrocities perpetrated by Muslims in their millenium of jihad against the Hindu infidels.

India is showing remarkable restraint concerning Pakistan. Imagine what it would be like for us if Canada were a dictatorship claiming Maine as its own territory. Suppose the Canadian media repeatedly urged its people to wage holy war against the United States to recover its rightful real estate. Picture Canadian terrorists regularly crossing the border to blow up and murder thousands of people in Buffalo and Detroit and New York.

Would Toronto be a smoking crater, or what?

“The Untouched Hot Potato”

At the end of October, just as the riots were beginning in France, The Big Pharaoh mulled over what he called “the untouched hot potato” that sat in the middle of all the talk about democracy in the Arab world. His essay was thoughtful and considered, enough so that I mulled over it with him, wondering again how to resolve the difficult problem of transporting a rigid belief system over a millennium and a half of bloody borders without having it die on the way.

And then the riots hit in Paris. Poor pitiful Paris, who so often in crises has proved her ignorance of anatomy: during the hard times, the French can be counted on to stand there appearing as if they couldn’t tell their elbow from their derriere, and that’s the sad fact of it. I’m not picking on the French, merely reading their history. Try the French Revolution, say, or Vichy France, or their prissy rules about which words will be permitted into the language. As if some bureaucrat could stop the populace from saying “le weekend” no matter how hard he stamped his well-shod foot.

Yes, it’s true: I don’t think much of the French, though I’m mighty fond of their vowels and their cuisine. But the decades of their sneering condescension have worn a deep hole in my regard for a country that leaves such travail in their wake. Ask Vietnam. Ask Algeria. Hey, ask those who died in their own bloody “revolution” where they understood so little of human nature that they tried to re-name the days of the week. Now you know the source of political correctness. It is, mon ami, how the French brain is organized: two parts self-aggrandizement, one part self-pity, one part treachery, and the rest disdain for anyone not French. They need every bit as much help making it to the modern world as, say, Bahrain. You have only to look at August, 2003 to realize how thin is the veneer in France — indeed they may well have been the inventors of veneer itself.

So for more than a week I watched the hoodlums burn cars and yell “Boo” at the authorities while the latter wrung their hands and did nothing. Hey, those “youths” weren’t actually coming into Paris, were they? Let ’em burn in the hell created for them while we pretend to be concerned. When it’s over, the authorities can come in, clean up, and everyone starts over. Nothing actually improves or changes, but things look okay and “real” French citizens can commiserate with one another about the ungrateful immigrants. Until the next time.

That circus distracted me from The Big Pharaoh’s crucial question — though in part the circus is related to his concern. Big Pharaoh is worried. If Islam doesn’t reform then how can its members ever enter the real world on an even footing?

     If you looked at the world’s great faith, you will realize that nearly all have undergone some sort of reform or attempts to marry old historical holy texts with the realities of our ever changing modern age. However, Islam still remains untouched and mired by those who believe that the societal laws of 660 AD could be applied today. In addition, the religion is still enslaved by religious leaders who demonize and persecute any voice calling for reform or a reinterpretation of the Quran or of what the prophet said over 1400 years old in the sun burned desert of Arabia.

Numerous commenters on Gates of Vienna have asked this question, too. Can Islam be reformed? Many are doubtful; they ask where the moderate voices of Islam are. Where are the counterweights to the barbarians who danced in the streets on 9/11?

The Big Pharaoh sees himself as a reformist but he doesn’t sound hopeful about his reforms:

     For someone like me, a Muslim reformist is someone who calls for the reinterpretation of what the prophet Muhammad said 1400 years ago and who is not afraid to dismiss Shariah law as a set of laws that were promulgated in a period that was very different than the one we’re living in today.
Islam is currently in a crisis and it is sad that very few Muslim thinkers and leaders are noticing it. They are busy hoping for the white people of the US and Europe to have a positive opinion of Islam while neglecting the root of the problem which is that Islam, in its current unreformed state, is not compatible with the values that Catholic Brazil and Buddhist Korea are trying to adopt.

Leaving aside the problems of Catholic Brazil for the moment, or for that matter, the theologically bankrupt and irrelevant Anglican Church in Britain, The Big Pharaoh may have an ally, an important Muslim ally who would also like to see Islam reformed and the Middle East brought into the present. Actually, I think he’d even settle for the 19th century, but that’s just conjecture.

Last year, on the most propitious holy day in Islam, the Night of Power, King Abdullah of Jordan issued the Amman Doctrine:

     Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, seizes the opportunity of this Holy Month of Ramadan, in which the Holy Quran was revealed, to issue a statement to the public, to our brethren in Muslim lands and in this whole world.
We are aware of the dangers and challenges the Islamic Nation is facing today at this difficult juncture of its course. Evils threaten its identity, incite disunity, tarnish its religion and assail its tenets; they attack fiercely the very message of Islam. Some who attack Islam imagine it is their enemy. But it is not their enemy. Others, who claim to belong to Islam, have done gruesome and criminal acts in its name. The message that is under attack is the message of tolerance, revealed by the Almighty to His prophet Muhammad, God’s prayers and salutations be upon him, and carried after him by his orthodox successors and household members: a message of brotherhood and humanity; forming a righteous religion that embraces the entire sphere of human life, upholding what is good and forbidding what is wrong, accepting of others, and honouring all human beings.

Then, in September of this year, about a month before the hooligan uprising in Paris, King Abdullah came to Catholic University in Washington D.C. to tell what had happened in the interim:

     This past July, there was a major international conference in Jordan. It brought together scholars from 45 nations. They represented all eight traditional schools of Islamic thought. And together, they affirmed Islam’s core values, expressed in the Amman Message. They issued a joint statement of accord, to help end abuses of our faith. For instance, they agreed that religious edicts cannot be issued by people lacking the proper qualifications and religious knowledge (like Bin Laden and Zarqawi). And they agreed that no one can call another Muslim an apostate—as the extremists do to those who disagree with them.
The Amman Message is an all-Islamic initiative. It currently involves opinion-makers from across the Islamic world. God willing, it will expand to engage the popular preachers and grass-roots activists – what is called the “Muslim street.” We intend to revisit education and media roles as well. The ultimate goal is to take back our religion from the vocal, violent, and ignorant extremists who have tried to hijack Islam over the last hundred years. They do not speak for Islam any more than a Christian terrorist speaks for Christianity. And the real voices of our faiths will be, must be, heard.

So there you have it, Big Pharaoh. I doubt the Muslim Brotherhood is listening to the King of Jordan. I doubt his fellow citizen, Zarqawi, will change his criminal ways — he was a thug before he became a Muslim. Blood will tell, won’t it?

Nonetheless, Jordan’s strategy ought to hearten those moderates like the Big Pharaoh who look around and wonder where peace and sense will come from:

     Strategically, Jordan is one of the few countries truly engaged in the battle of ideas. As important as it is to conduct raids, make arrests, and freeze terror funds, the war on terror also requires that countries deny jihadists the ability to radicalize and deploy new recruits.

Some will say this strategy cost Jordanians their lives in the blasts last week. But they would be wrong. The list of terrorist bombings in supposedly “friendly” countries — Pakistan, for one — proves there is no safe haven from terrorists. And Zarqawi, the deadly Joker, wants Jordan for his base.

What the Muslims have yet to learn, and what King Abdullah would have them understand, is a lesson the Americans learned early in their fight against the British. As Ben Franklin told his fellow revolutionaries, “we must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately.” Franklin had many other aphorisms which would serve Muslims well, but that one is a good place to start.

Come to think of it, perhaps instead of technology, Middle Eastern catching-up with the West could begin with a study of the history of successful revolutions.

Veterans’ Day With the Hon. Virgil Goode

The Hon. Virgil GoodeBig doings in Southside* on Veterans’ Day. This year, it was the dedication of the Blue Star Memorial in Buckingham Court House. The ceremony drew a crowd of veterans and local citizens to see the unveiling. Among the dignitaries was Congressman Virgil Goode from Virginia’s Fifth District. At the reception which followed in the County Arts Center, our congressman agreed to an interview regarding some pending legislation in the House of Representatives.

The main concern for Gates of Vienna is the upcoming immigration bills being introduced in Congress by Rep. Goode. Those will be addressed in detail in a subsequent post, when Mr. Goode’s office sends us the full texts by snail mail. Our theoretical fax has never worked, so the main topic will have to wait.

However, we also hit the highlights of other Issues Dear to the Hearts of our readers (not including trolls and visitors wandering in from James Wolcott’s blog). Everyone has agreed on our good fortune in being represented by a patriotic stalwart. Therefore, since there was such positive response in our original post on the Honorable Mr. Goode, we felt it our duty to discuss the bones of contention our readers have with the current Congress and administration.

Virgil said he is more than aware that the conservative base is unhappy with the goings-on in Washington, considering the orgies of pork and the spineless response to judicial nominations. When asked if he would pass the news on up to the RNC, Mr. Goode sighed, “They don’t listen.” As an example, he related occasions when conservatives within the caucus take the Republican members to task, trying to effect some behavior modification on spending. But then President Bush arrives, makes the rounds shaking hands and talking to people and suddenly any memory of fiscal resolve disappears. He agreed that a day of reckoning is coming: in the not-too-distant future, on the morning after an election, Republicans are going to wake up to an unhappy surprise.

The Fifth District’s Congressman is one of the staunchest fiscal conservatives in the House. He says that the administration is listening to the media when the President travels to Louisiana and promises two hundred million —and then correcting himself — can you believe two hundred billion? — in relief aid following Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Goode believes the media has too much influence and drowns out what the rest of the country is saying.

To his mind, the federal government should restrict itself to the huge fiscal commitment necessary to rebuild the Gulf Coast’s infrastructure: the roads, bridges and levees. Other efforts from state and local governments, along with the untapped private sector, would direct the rest of the rebuilding more efficiently and economically. The co-ordination already occurring between civic and church groups is a good indication of that. Virgil pointed out his photographer, who accompanied him to Buckingham, as an example of private effort. This man had already been to Louisiana to help in the rebuilding efforts and would be returning. Virgil thinks the genius of individual American know-how and its approach to problem-solving will rebuild Louisiana. Gates of Vienna agrees; it takes no ingenuity or particular wisdom to dump two hundred billion dollars of “relief” on a state which doesn’t seem to coordinate its own efforts very well. The thought of all that money lining the pockets of all those professional politicians in Louisiana is most disheartening. You and I worked for those tax dollars. Now someone is going to load them into a fleet of crop dusters, fly over Louisiana, open the doors, and rain billions over the ruined levees and disappeared towns. What a nightmare.

Gates of Vienna told Virgil about the decision of Scottsville — a small town on the James River — to adopt an extended family from Pass Christian, Louisiana. The town will be helping this family for the foreseeable future as they rebuild their house and business. We’ll be giving you the details later.

But that was the opening act. Our real concern — and the concern of many of our readers — is the current chaos resulting from the failure of federal government to act on the tide of illegal immigration flooding in from Mexico. Congressman Goode agrees that it is a disaster which ought to have been addressed long ago. He has one bill pending and he and a colleague have announced their plans to introduce another.

Stay tuned. As soon as the documents arrive from his office, Gates of Vienna will lay out in specific detail what is planned and who is involved. Then you and I and the rest of us will take it from there.

As an aside, we also floated the idea of a blog for the Fifth District. Virgil’s concern, and one he doesn’t see a way around right now, is that anything emanating from his office needs to directly reflect what he believes, and the concerns of his constituents. Any blogger knows how time-consuming a blog can be. Due to the crush of his schedule, he hasn’t figured out a way to post to a blog regularly. And Virgil is adamant: any blog carrying his name will not be written by someone else. But, yes, folks, he is aware of the blogosphere and he knows full well its potential to affect the course of events.

Things are on the move.

*“Southside” is considered the area of Virginia south of the James River, west of the Great Dismal Swamp, and east of the foothills of the Blue Ridge. The region is characterized by dialectical peculiarities, such as the pronunciation of “house” to rhyme with “close.”

Let Them Watch Movies

In October, 2005, across the length and breadth of the MSM (Mighty Simple Minds) Kingdom, there went forth the long-awaited news. Finally, and at last, after two and a half years of intense battle conditions, the 2,000th American soldier died in Iraq. Never mind all the thousands of civilians killed by terrorists, never mind the beheadings and grisly murders, never mind the uncounted and summarily dispatched souls whose lives dripped from the hands of Saddam and his henchmen. Americans are special, each one, and they are especially special if they are dead soldiers in the grip of the anti-war Left.

Dead American soldiers are usefully pressed into service once again, this time by MSM seamstresses whose desire it is to make the fit between this war and the one of their youth. But it won’t happen; it can’t happen. They can no longer fashion public opinion and manage the news so that victory is turned into loss as it once was in Vietnam. This war is orders of magnitude smaller than “their” war. It is fought smarter, with a volunteer force who have better equipment and an allied government struggling to stay alive in the face of brutal assassinations and kidnappings.

That number stuck with me: two thousand soldiers gone since March, 2003. What was significant about that year? Ah, yes: four months after the war in Iraq began, a heat wave descended on the continent of Europe. It was August, the traditionally mandated vacation month for Frenchmen. So vacation they did. But without the old people. Dragging old people on a vacation — what kind of rest is that? So the murderous heat began to claim the old ones. They expired at the rate of five hundred a day, approximately three thousand a week. The bodies piled up in hospital corridors and in morgues. As those places overflowed with the dead, makeshift morgues were established. Meanwhile, the French continued their vacations.

By the third week, the funeral directors were out of coffins. The makeshift morgues were full. The government stonewalled. Crisis? What crisis? President Chirac told everyone not to worry. In fact, to demonstrate the French genius for public planning, he told everyone that next time there was a heat wave, people should go to the movies. For a long time afterward, the government solved the problem by denial, claiming there were three thousand official deaths. Meanwhile the General Funeral Services in France had their own figures and they were five times higher. In one month, France had the equivalent of five 9/11s in terms of mortality. And the band played on.

These deaths are the collective failure of a nation grown used to government doing everything for them, an accommodation which has produced an ethos of negligence. No need to worry about Grandpère, the government will see to him. This is the collectivist dream: the village does the caring, the individual goes on vacation.

Nor is there a need for soldierly sacrifice: just play nice with your enemies, negotiate your terms. Only the foolish, barbarous Americans will draw a line in the sand and make demands when a simple letter would do.

Since March, 2003, two thousand members of American military have died in the name of liberty because liberty is something they value. They saw meaning in offering freedom to others. The collectivists among us would have us call these deaths meaningless — while, of course, they studiously ignore the summer of 2003 in Europe. With a population of 60 million, France lost 15,000 in a month. For the purposes of comparison with America, our population of 290 million that year would have meant the deaths of 73,000 old people to reach the same mortality rate. Can you imagine the furor that would have been raised? We’d still be having Congressional hearings about it, demanding accountability, pointing fingers.

2003: the summer 37 American soldiers died in August in the line of duty while 15,000 elderly Frenchmen died of neglect.

And we’re the barbarians?

I can’t wait to see what happens when the “youths” of France finally turn to something else besides torching cars for fun. It’s growing cold now and the furor is dipping with the weather. But wait till next year. And see how much planning the French will have accomplished for the next outbreak. What will they do, send them to the movies to cool off?

The Canaries and the Miners

Archonix is musing this morning about the state of modern Christianity.

     I’ve heard it said that the Jews are society’s canary, inasmuch as they’re usually the first to get a whack on the head when people go bad. But if they’re the canary, then Christians are the miners. When you see the Jews being assaulted openly in the press you should realise that we’re next and, after we go, our ethic goes with it.

And when the canary keels over, when the canary is pushing up daisies, what happens then? What do we do when the canary has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible?

Why, we strive to understand the motivations of the coal gas, to discover the true reasons for its desire to kill canaries. We ask, “Why does coal gas hate us so?” We work to provide better opportunites for coal gas, to improve its living conditions in the mine. We realize that we have accidentally killed a bird or two ourselves, so who are we to… Ack… Cough… Choke… Thud!

I’ll leave you with his final thought:

     “One swift kick,” Hitler said of the Soviet union, “and the entire rotten thing will collapse.” There are those amongst the violent sects of Islam saying the same thing of the west, and of western christianity. Unless something changes soon, they may well be proven right.

Archonix, I hope you don’t mind that I fixed up the spelling a little bit.