April 05, 2002

OFF WE GO:

Tomorrow morning I'm flying off to Las Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters conference. NAB is one of the world's largest professional conferences, and showcases the technology and programming on television's near horizon. I'll try to post as often as I can, and will even try to give you some of the flavor of the best and most interesting things I run across--but owing to my lack of knowledge of connectivity possibilities, I just don't know yet how often I'll be able to log on, much less post anything. But please do check in next week. I'll get something online somehow, and I need the hits.

IN OTHER NEWS, Hubble Space Telescope fans are probably aware that as of the astronaut service call to it last month, it has a new camera on board called the Advanced Camera for Surveys. I work for Hubble and I've just seen some *preliminary* and not fully processed images from it--and I'm speechless. They are simply stunning for detail, clarity and depth. USS Clueless will soon have some even more incredible space images to put in the masthead. And no, I can't post them here. They're way to big, the data processing on them isn't finished, and I'd get fired for pre-empting the release date, which is set for early to mid May. I like blogging, but I like getting paid to keep my day job even more.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CLEARING THE AIR:

Glad you refined your arguments a bit, Louder. I wasn't trying to start anything--your post just kind of jumped out at me and so I responded. Suffice it to say that there are a few things in your clarification that a Baptist like me will quarrel with, such as the notion of "attaining grace" (grace is unmerited favor--how does one "attain" something that's unmerited?), but we Christians do usually agree on more of the core things than we disagree on. Where we disagree, let's be gentlemen and women and sharpen each other's thinking rather than sharpening the differences between us.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 04, 2002

ALL YOU NINNIES OUT THERE WHO THINK BUSH JUST SOLD OUT ISRAEL TODAY

, lighten up a little--he didn't. He made some mealy-mouthed statements about Israeli withdrawal, sent Powell over for a chat, but mostly read the riot act to Arafat, Hamas, Syria and Iran. That's hardly crumbling. Orrin Judd sums up Bush's true aims best:

If you heard the speech it was really striking how much the language and the tone in which the President delivered it resembled those earlier speeches in which he declared war on al Qaeda. We certainly don't view the suicide bombers as legitimate warriors, but the Palestinians and many others in the Islamic world do; yet the President referred to them as "murderers". That's very harsh, though entirely appropriate, and indicates a real disregard for Palestinian popular opinion and desires, as does his statement that the situation Arafat finds himself in his largely of his own making. It sure sounded like the President is prepared to consider this conflict to be the next front in the war on terror and Palestinian terror organizations, including the PLO, to be the next target.


The warnings to Syria and Iran even seemed to reflect a growing willingness on the President's part to contemplate the wholesale destabilization of Middle Eastern dictatorships. At this point we have toppled the Taliban, are doing joint-training exercises with Pakistan's mortal enemy India, are making plans for war with Iraq and have now issued ultimatums to Iran and Syria; from one end of the Middle East to the other, tyrannical Islamicist regimes are boxed in by democratic enemies who seem increasingly inclined to get rid of them. It is said that war forces the contradictions. Our history of support for these Arab (and Persian) dictatorships seems to be one of the contradictions that may fall, a casualty of the war on terror. Good riddance.


Yup. What he said.

UPDATE: In singling out Syria, Bush shows that he still "gets it." Syria has for years stood behind Arafat like Sauron behind Sauroman--now they're on the same notice that Iran, Iraq and North Korea have been on since the State of the Union address. Bush has tacitly expanded the "axis of evil," and has allowed Israel plenty of time to gather up intel and disrupt the terror nests in the West Bank while saying the necessary mollifying words to keep the press and Eurocrats from eating him alive. He's playing 5-dimensional chess here, and doing a fine job of it in my view. But as the brain-in-a-jar says, criticizing Bush for not being mean enough to Arafat can't really hurt his standing--it actually gives him some cover to play coy for a while.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WHY IS EUROPE EXPERIENCING A WAVE OF ANTI-SEMITIC VIOLENCE THAT ISN'T HAPPENING HERE?

I thought of blogging about that last night as I drifted off to sleep, then again this morning but the words just didn't flow. Then another blogger blogged it herself. That's one of the most amazing things about the blogosphere--you can't sit on any idea for more than a few seconds before someone beats you to the punch. Cool.

As to the question itself, the why?, I don't really have an answer, but will keep the question in mind next time some Eurocrat lectures us about our hayseed ways.

UPDATE: Reader Alan Carroll writes in to alert me to a couple of possible explanations for the anti-Semitic violence, particularly in France. The omnipresent InstaPundit and the post I cited above claim the availability of guns here in the States are the lid--any would-be attacker here might figure that their victims have guns at the ready and so are dissuaded from using them. While I'm a gun rights guy myself, I don't find that angle persuasive. I mean--is your average Jew really likely to be packing heat? I doubt it. Mickey Kaus says welfare is to blame, while one of The Corner's posters (Dave Kopel, now that I've more time to check things out) says that we're just more civilized than Europe. While it's self-evident that we're more civilized than Europe, we're also more likely to shoot each other for trivial reasons. And Mickey's welfare argument seems to me to be as opportunistic as InstaPundit's gun angle--both are champions of their respective issues, and will see evidence for their right-ness in just about every story that comes down the road. So am I saying that they're all wrong? No--I think all of them have a piece of the puzzle. Guns do stem violent crime--look at the recent history of states that have concealed carry laws, like Texas and Florida, and contrast them with states like Maryland where the gun-grabbers rule. Concealed-carry states have lowered violent crime more rapidly than gun-grabbing states. Welfare undoubtedly plays a role, especially in places like France where the overweening welfare state creates subcultures of resentment. And we are more civilized--we still, for the most part, believe in and teach fairly objective standards of right a wrong and we still go after criminals and try to punish them. Advantage--Blogosphere!

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: This is purely speculation, but another factor could be the local madrassas in Europe themselves. Might they be too scared to foment unrest here, yet bold enough to do it in France? I'd think so, given our alliances with Israel, Turkey, India and so forth--and the notorious French duplicity in Middle Eastern affairs. The European madrassas might actually be funding, or at least encouraging, anti-Semitic action where they figure they're likely to get away with it, while discouraging it here where it's likely to meet a stiff backlash. Just wonderin'.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

THEY'RE BREAKING OUT THE CHAMPAIGN AT CBS:

Gumbel Says Goodbye to CBS
Steve McClellan
Broadcasting & Cable
Bryant Gumbel and CBS are parting ways. After five years with CBS -- the last two-and-a-half as the anchor of the network's latest morning-show incarnation, The Early Show -- Gumbel is calling it quits to pursue unspecified other interests. The exact timing of his departure has yet to be determined, a CBS News spokeswoman said, nor has a decision on his replacement. Gumbel joined CBS in 1997 after almost two decades with NBC, including 15 as host of Today, to host a prime time magazine, Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel. The show won two Emmy Awards and two Peabodys, but it never caught on in the ratings and was canceled in its second season. Gumbel then agreed to host the network's new effort in the a.m., The Early Show, which launched in the fall of 1999.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEW CHINESE SPACE CAPSULE?

Man, what an ugly beast it is. Funny thing in the picture is that it seems to be landing on terra firma as opposed to splashing down in the ocean like our old capsules used to do. The Russians did the same thing--bringing cosmonauts down to earth in their capsules--and their flyers often couldn't walk for weeks after the experience of hitting the earth at fairly incredible speeds, then bouncing up, and hitting again a few hundred yards away. The cosmonauts often had to be dragged from the capsule looking like roadkill. Now China seems to be following in their footsteps, if the picture does indicate a hard-earth landing. The reasons could be purely practical--China's blue-water navy is antiquated and they may fear that we'll be spying on them (which we'll be doing whether they splash or splat). It's probably cheaper to conduct solid-earth landings--you don't need to deploy a battle group to retrieve your people. Regardless, China will soon put a man in space, and they plan to put one on the moon within 30 years or so. By that time, we should be returning from our first or second round-tripper to Mars, and will have sent a probe to study several of Jupiter's moons. And we may have astronauts living on the moon to greet the Chinese newcomers.

(thanks to The Insolvent Republic of Blogistan for the heads-up)
Posted by B. Preston at 09:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

LOUDER, WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?

That salvation is attained and guaranteed by strict adherence to Church ritual? Paul says that salvation is by grace, lest any man should boast. Louder Fenn says:

Obviously I have concluded that the Catholic Church is most true to Christ, and in that sense is the best guarantor of salvation; and the farther one gets from the Church, the more one must depend on the exceptional and extraordinary graces of God.


I don't think he actually means that any man-made and man-led church is the guarantor of salvation. At least I hope not. And between a church structure and the unlimited grace of God, I think I'll just keep right on depending on that grace for my ultimate salvation. Churches have shown a penchace for changing doctrine willy-nilly.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 03, 2002

ANOTHER SWING AT WILL WILKINSON:

He finally responded to my rant regarding his sworn opposition to any and all Republicans which he intends to carry to the grave (scroll down to the "Yes, Democrats are A-holes too" post). At least I think he's responding to me--he's one of those bloggers with the annoying habit of not linking to critics or mentioning them by name, probably because it gives him more control in framing the debate. Some libertarian. Anyway, for Will the choice comes down to the public faces of each party, as represented by the current and former Attorneys General. Of Janet Reno, Will is no fan, describing her as someone who “burns babies.” Referring no doubt to Waco, an incident I had the misfortune of witnessing—not the cataclysmic ending but one of the mundane days leading up to it. Of John Ashcroft, we’re treated to this witty phrase: he’s an “unlikable prick.” So between the party that puts baby burners in power and the one that puts unlikable pricks in power, Will chooses the baby burner's people. Will has questionable priorities on the human rights front, to say the least. He also says that he opposes Republicans because they're more honest about what they intend to do with government power, whereas the Democrats will push some new program that has a benign stated purpose and a more nefarious backchannel purpose. So, between baby-killers and pricks the baby-killers win, and between liars and honest people, the liars win. Glad we cleared that up, Will.

Not that any of this will matter much, since Will doesn't even bother to vote.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

LOOKS LIKE THERE'S ANOTHER ONE

: A second American Taliban has been found. He's a Louisiana-born Saudi.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AS A NON-CATHOLIC

, I've considered Pope John Paul II an outstanding figure in the struggle to maintain spiritual values and extend human rights into the darkest corners of the earth. Until now. I don't know what's going on in the Vatican--maybe his health has deteriorated to the point where others are actually in control, I don't know--but the Vatican's statements regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict simply make no sense. The Vatican says that Israel is "humiliating" the Palestinians and should stop--but doesn't mention the humiliation of rejection the Palestinians face from their fellow Arabs. The Vatican says Israel should use "proportional force" in going after the terror groups. What does that mean? What is "proportional force" in the context of suicide bombings aimed, not at Israel's military, but at its civilians? Is the Vatican suggesting that Israel use the same tactic, and start killing Palestinian civilians instead of terrorists? Surely not, but their statement could lead to that belief. It just makes no sense. But that's not all:

L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, accused Israel of desecrating the birthplace of Jesus, as Israeli tanks encircled Manger Square in Bethlehem.


Israel is entering Bethlehem's most sacred sites because the Palestinian militants are using them to hide, and using priests and nuns as human shields. Either the Times is selectively reporting what the Vatican said (always a possibility), or the Vatican just doesn't know how terror groups work. I think that the Catholic Church as a whole is in for a very serious crisis, from within as more and more sex scandals unfold, and from without as non-Catholics increasingly see Rome as hopelessly unable to make moral distinctions between the innocent and the guilty.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RIOT UPDATE:

InstaPundit links a couple of different takes on the mini-riot that ensued after the Maryland win Monday night. Will Wilkinson and Michelle Cottle give differing views on the events as eyewitnesses. (Actually, they're giving different views of different events--Will is talking about the mini-mini riot that started up when Maryland whooped Kansas in the semi-final, while Michelle is describing Monday night's merely mini-riot) Will's take is typically snarky--the cops were looking for trouble, the "kids" were mostly just having a good, harmless time, etc etc. Michelle's piece actually describes who showed up: some Maryland students, some folks from DC and other environs (as I've already stated, most of those arrested weren't students at all). I think Will's "it's all the cops' fault" is ridiculous--they were ready, definitely, for something because the students did in fact riot to the tune of about $500k damage last year when the Terps lost to Duke. The police had stated beforehand that this year they would brook no repeat of last year's shameful performance, and beefed up the on-duty squad accordingly. But even worse for Will, his own piece shows who started the (mild) trouble this year:

From the bar patio, I watched a happy bunch of kids crowded in the street, chanting, dancing, and doing their best mam-flashing impersations of Mardi Gras, sans beads. It was fine, doing nothing but blocking traffic. Then some jerks tear down a turn lane sign. Whatever. Then some real Einsteins rip the top off a crosswalk light. Fuckups. But that wan't the overall spirit. People were just happy. The PG Police, however, did their best to ensure that vandalism and agression did become the overall spirit.


So the "students" are all shiny happy people until some other "students" start tearing stuff up, and then it's the cops' fault that they had to take some action? You're reaching, Will--these idiots were breaking the law and the police had little choice given last year's problems. Will, this is one area where libertarians and Republicans do have a legitimate difference of opinion. You as a lib say the cops were wrong, wrong, wrong reflexively--they represent "the man" so they can't be right. I as a Republican say that, while the cops probably did overreact a little, they had last year on their minds, and the state's solemn promise to its property owners that there would be no repeat riots. If they hadn't acted to quell things, they'd be getting criticized for failing to protect law-abiding citizens. As I watched the mini-riots unfold on local TV, I just hoped no one would get hurt--these riots have turned plenty ugly many times in the past 15 years or so--and I was glad the police were ready to deal with the miscreants masquerading as "students."

AND FURTHERMORE, the more I think about Will's position, the less it makes sense. In his post he decries the notion that 19-year-old were getting pelted with gas pellets. As the other chronicler, Michelle Cottle noted, many of the "students" were there for the express purpose of starting and taking part in a riot. Getting knocked in the noggin with a pellet or two was surely anticipated by the rioters, and they elected (as full adults, I might add) to go ahead and riot anyway. To start a riot, you pretty much have to destroy something--a street sign, a parked car, a nearby shop, or just appropriate fuel for a street bon fire--but you basically have to take something that doesn't belong to you and use it for your own (most likely illegal) purposes. Surely even a hard-core libertarian agrees that the state has a vested interest in protecting its taxpayer-funded property as well as the private property of its citizens. In an orderly society there is always a trade-off between individual rights and the rights of the larger society to maintain some semblance of order. If the cops lay down on the job of halting riots, they're saying in effect that the rights of misbehaving individuals trump those of the law-abiding. If you can make sense of that, please explain it to me, because I think that's nonsense.

As for the rioters themselves, they probably had a little fun and will tell stories about their adventure for years. But they'll have an arrest record, and their misbehavior can be the best salve for fans of the schools that lost out to the Terps during the tournament. Reader Jack Denny, a Wisconsin fan (my description of the outcome of the Badger-Terps mismatch sparked the internicine blog war between myself and Susanna Cornet that ended only when the Terps spanked the Wildcats back to Kentucky) notes:

I don't need to feel sorry for the Wisconsin Badgers losing to Maryland
earlier in the tournament. Maryland WAS bigger and quicker than anyone
else. Losing to the eventual national champion appears to be a relatively
benign punishment for the lopsided loss.

For all the Maryland alumni though, it is not so easy to ignore the ignomy
of (in the future ) being a fellow alumnus to a rioter. Sad, huh?


Sad indeed, but unfortunately common nowadays. This year, even the loser Hoosier fans rioted after the game. Theirs seems to be the worst ending to me--defeat on the court and bad deeds off the court.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'TEAM WILL' SCORES BIG

: George Will and Michael Kelly offer some of the best Israeli-Palestinian conflict commentary yet. For anyone needing to brush up on what the fighting is really all about, reading these two today will get you up to speed. From Will:

There is no basis in international law or historic practice for U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's assertion that Israel's occupation of the West Bank is "illegal." Israel's 1967 borders are armistice lines from 1948, when Arab nations, rather than accept Palestinian statehood provided by U.N. resolutions and accepted by Israel, attempted to destroy Israel.

The occupied territory on the West Bank is an unallocated portion of the Palestine Mandate, to be allocated by negotiations. Jordan was the military occupier of the West Bank from 1948 to 1967. In 1951 Jordan tried to annex the West Bank, but no Arab nation recognized the annexation. Israel took the West Bank when repelling aggression from there in 1967. Under settled international practice, Israel is entitled to hold the land until made secure by negotiated arrangements.

But Arab nations have nurtured conditions inimical to regional stability, partly by the novel invention of four-generation "refugee" families. In 1945 there were many millions more refugees in Europe than there were in the Middle East in 1948. By 1950 Europe's problem had ceased festering. But 54 years after the founding of Israel, Palestinian "refugee camps" -- cities, actually -- exist because Arab nations have been unwilling to absorb Palestinians and want cities that are hothouses for developing irredentist fanaticism.

Sharon reportedly wants to exile Arafat, the chief fomentor of such fanaticism. If so, why the tentativeness? Sharon should ship Arafat to Europe, where there is much official sympathy for him. Arafat would like today's France, where he could place his phone calls by the light of burning synagogues.


As I've said before, anti-French writings are always a hit with me. And from Kelly:
Much can be conceded in the issue of Israel and the Palestinians: The Palestinians have, in their lost land, a great and real grievance; as a moral and practical matter, Israel should admit this, and it should be willing to trade land for peace with its neighbors.

But this is precisely the point: Israel did concede these questions. It has been nearly two years since Israel offered the Palestinians nearly all of the territories occupied in 1967.

Arafat's response has redundantly proved his harshest critics right. There was never any honest intent on the Palestinian part for peaceful coexistence with Israel, any more than there was ever any honest intent to establish a government in Gaza that would function toward that end and toward the creation of a decent life for the Palestinian people. What the Palestinians seek -- what Arafat has encouraged them to seek -- is, as is now beyond dispute, the defeat and surrender of Israel.


But seriously, could the radical Islamic states' intentions be any more obvious now? They are operating on a global scale to wipe out--forever--Israel. Europe is literally aflame with anti-Semitic violence--Arabs are painting swastikas on synagogues before burning them down. Iran threatens to use oil as an economic weapon against us, while Egypt and Jordan consider cutting all ties with Israel. The average Palestinian dodges bullets crossing the street while gunmen from their clan hold priests and nuns hostage in one of Christendom's holiest shrines, daring the IDF to attack them directly, knowing that such an attack will cause the destruction of that holy shrine. Where are the voices of "sensitivity" that decry the US and Israel when we consider bombing during Ramadan? Where are the "activists" who'll serve as human shields for innocent Israeli citizens? What is the Vatican thinking in condemning Israel for defending itself? How much longer will we have to live with the fiction of Arafat as a stateman? When will the world just wake up to what's going on?
Posted by B. Preston at 05:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FEAR THE TURTLE, BUT FEAR THE TURTLE'S FANS A LITTLE BIT MORE:

Yup, the great victory for the Terps the other night sparked riots that will lead to arrests as the cops review tapes from surveillance cameras and press coverage. So far they've nabbed 17, of which only 3 were actual students. Witnesses say many of the miscreants were much too old to be in college--maybe they were professors? One business owner was assaulted while about $45,000 in property was lifted from his bike store (much of that was returned later, though not entirely voluntarily). This year's riot mostly amounted to a big bonfire on frat row, and was far smaller than the riot sparked after last year's loss to Duke in the Final Four. So it could've been worse, but still...what is it about sports championships that kicks off riots? There's nothing to protest--you won, ya morons. Go buy a T-shirt or something and display it proudly, but don't go around making trouble.

All in all, this past year or so has been an amazing run for sports in Maryland. Starting with Super Bowl 35, the Ravens won that, then returned to the playoffs the next year. Baltimore was home to Hasim "The Rock" Rahman , for a while the heavyweight champ of the boxing world. The Maryland Terrapins football team surprised everyone and got as far as the Orange Bowl last season, and now the Terps basketball team gets back-to-back Final Four appearances and is now the national champ. I don't like much about Maryland, but for the sports enthusiast it's been a pretty competitive and interesting place to live.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MAUREEN DOWD

takes it on the chin from NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru. Why does she still have a column in "The Paper of Record?" Oh yeah, because she's a shill to discredit feminism. You go, girl.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CUTTIN' ON THE NY TIMES:

Susanna Cornett guts some biased writing in the Times' "news" section. And is it just me, or is Dennis Ross' (a former Clinton Admin official) using of the phrase "dribbling out your package" a bit Freudian?
Posted by B. Preston at 01:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

USS CLUELESS

leads with a post about peace activists marching right on front of IDF troops to try and stop the fighting. As Steve notes, it's an ubelievably stupid tactic, and one that's likely to get the activists killed. I think some...activists...should go in there and exercise some diplomacy. ((apologies if you've seen this like a million times by now--if you haven't, just click on the "watch this movie" link))
Posted by B. Preston at 12:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 02, 2002

ALEX BEAM:

What an idiot. I mean, snookered by the very blogs he set out to destroy. What an elitist moron, a gullible goon. Someone should Googlebomb him with a name like greasy lummox, or digi-Grinch. Can anyone out there think of an appropriate insult for Alex Beam, the idiotic, pretensiously moronic, gullible, greasy lummox? Anyone?
Posted by B. Preston at 11:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BUSH CRITICIZED FOR NOT DOING ENOUGH, OR DOING TOO MUCH, OR JUST DOING ANYTHING, TO SOLVE THE MIDDLE EAST PROBLEM:

That might as well be the headline for this asinine NY Times article. I was going to spend hours debunking it, but Susanna Cornett already has. Thank goodness--I really didn't want to wade through that garbage.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

THIS WILL SOLVE THE MID-EAST PEACE PROBLEM

: Farrakhan wants to go to the Middle East to negoatiate a settlement. He blasts the Bush administration for favoring Israel. He says the US and UN need to bring "strong, dispassionate" counsel to bear on the problem. Think about that for a second--Farrakhan regularly calls Jews all sorts of names and suggests that they run the world to the purposeful detriment of blacks--hardly the person to bring about "dispassionate" dialogue. He says he wants to lead a delegation of religious leaders to handle the negotiations. Now I'm all for religion, but doesn't he know that religion is already playing a rather prominent role in this situation? It's hard to imagine a dumber idea than taking a group of religious leaders from various faiths, who would acquiesce to his radical and racist leadership, to go and try to end an essentially religious and racial war. But he ultimately doesn't care if the gambit works or not:

"If we fail, at least we can say we have tried."


It's not results that matter, but merely trying. Sounds like your typical lefty activist to me, though Farrakhan isn't a lefty. Here's another pearl of wisdom from Calypso Louie:

He said the United States ought to pressure Israel into making gestures of support to Arafat. Those gestures could include promises to halt settlement of the West Bank, and to stop slayings of Palestinian leaders.

"A recognition of the right (of Palestinians) to exist could become the basis for serious peace negotiations. Instead, Israel gives nothing, but demands everything," he said.


Support Arafat? What more could we do? We legitimized him with White House visits and ceremonies, helped him get back to the West Bank, and have kept the Israelis from killing him more than once while we pressured several Israeli governments to talk to the old goat. About the only thing we haven't done is just go ahead and give him Jersulem, and I'm sure some folks would probably think we should to that too. And that last sentence, about Israel demanding everything, is priceless. Why don't pro-Palestenian types ever acknowledge that Arafat had within his grasp the best deal he could hope for a few years ago--and chose war instead? Pro-Israel folks like myself constantly state that Israel isn't perfect, but far better than any of her neighbors--and we're not being nice, just being honest. You rarely ever see such evenhandedness from Arafat's supporters in Europe and the US. They balk and frown if you call him a terrorist--I had that happen in a real live discussion with a pro-Palestinian Democrat I work with just today (and I add the "Democrat" part because, well, it's relevant)--even though he's been a terrorist since the 1960s and was exiled for years because of his terrorism. And it isn't Israel that's demanding everything--it's the Arab states and their pawn-proxies, the Palestinian militants and terrorists who want to destroy Israel. That's been true since 1948.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CLINTON REGRETS MAKING RICH PARDON:

And America regrest giving Clinton 8 years in office. Looking at the date on this story, April 1, 2002, I almost thought this story was a Bjorn Staerk-like April Fool's joke. But it isn't--it's serious. Rich quotes....

Asked if he would do it again, ``probably not, just for the politics,'' he said in an interview with Newsweek magazine. ``It was terrible politics. It wasn't worth the damage to my reputation. But that doesn't mean the attacks were true.''


The man who diddled interns and who knows who and what else in the Oval Office thinks the Rich pardon damaged his reputation? And as for the "attacks"--which ones weren't true? That he messed around--true. That he abused his pardon power--true. I just don't follow.

Since then, they have been investigated by federal prosecutors and Congress. That scrutiny, Clinton said, made him ``just angry that after I worked so hard and after all that money had been spent proving that I never did anything wrong for money, that I'd get mugged one more time on the way out the door.''


Well, maybe if you hadn't mugged the Constitution, you wouldn't have gotten the exit beating.

Clinton did say he was a little more open to Rich's claim of prosecutorial abuse because of all the investigations he endured as president.

``I don't know Marc Rich and wouldn't know him if he walked in the door there,'' Clinton said. But, he added, ``I was very sensitive to prosecutorial abuse because I had seen it. ... I don't think that's all bad for a president to be sensitive to any kind of abuse of power.''


Wouldn't know Marc Rich if he walked in the door? The man's been on TV in newsclips for more than a year now. And his new freedom is the reason you got so much flak. I think he'd know Rich if he walked in the door--another senseless lie from Clinton. And sensitive to abuse of power--Clinton? His gang of thugs used the IRS to audit dozens of political critics, kept dossiers on other critics, and probably leaked dirt from those files to Larry Flint's smear machine. Sensitive to abuse of power my @$$.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

PLAYING THE OIL CARD:

Iran says it's willing to use oil as an economic weapon to force the US to pressure Israel to halt the offensive in the West Bank. I say go ahead and try it--OPEC isn't the only game in town anymore. Part of President Bush's reasoning behind getting close to Russian President Putin is oil--Russia has vast amounts of it, mostly untapped until the fall of the USSR. Russia has indicated since 9-11 a willingness, even an eagerness, to buck the Arab states and supplant them as our major oil supplier. Indonesia, an Islamic state and member of OPEC, is wary of weaponizing oil against us and isn't likely to go along. Factor in the Mexican supply and you have some serious leverage against OPEC's most radical states. So to Iran, Iraq and the rest of them--knock yourselves out. You might just bring about a welcome schism in your coalition.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

EXILE FOR ARAFAT?

If they can't knock him out permanently, exile might make some sense. The Israelis are floating the idea. But even in an otherwise tepid article, media bias sneaks in under the radar:

In the Cabinet session, Sharon pushed for Arafat's expulsion, but relented to avoid a crisis with the moderate Labor Party, his main coalition partner, Labor officials have said. [emphasis mine]


Moderate? Israel has two major parties and a host of smaller ones. The two major parties, representing left and right, are Labor and Likkud. Likkud is always described as "right wing," and never called "moderate." Once in a while they'll get upgraded to "conservative," but to most reporters that's still an epithet. Labor is usually described as "liberal," or "moderate," but rarely called "left wing."

In all this, another question has popped up. When asked recently whether Arafat is a terrorist or not, the White House equivocated, refusing to brand him with the "t" word. But of course, Arafat is a terrorist, a lifelong terrorist, and an unrepentant terrorist. So why didn't the White House say so? Branding him a terrorist, in the post 9-11 world, carries certain implications. To the US, all terrorists are enemies and we have sworn to destroy them all, wherever they may hide, and we have also sworn to destroy the governments that support them. By officially branding Arafat a terrorist we obligate ourselves to help Israel get him and to go ahead and take out Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and a few other regimes, and we can no longer function as an intermediary in the fictional "peace process." At some point, we probably will openly say that he's a terrorist, but we'll only do so when the strategic interests of the US intersect with that declaration. That time is not yet.

UPDATE: From the Washington Post: Secretary of State Colin Powell put it Tuesday on CBS' "The Early Show": "It would not serve our purpose right now to brand him individually as a terrorist." If Powell is saying that, think of what the administration's hawks are actually thinking. Advantage: JunkYardBlog!
Posted by B. Preston at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 01, 2002

FEAR THE TURTLE: Maryland 64-Indiana 52

. This was probably the ugliest game I've seen since my high school freshman Red Oak Hawks team played the Kennedale Lions or Wildcats or whatever they were--two teams that just couldn't get it together, couldn't find passing lanes, and couldn't resist taking bad shots. Tonight, Maryland needed a hero, and they got one. Not Juan Dixon though he played well against some tough defense, not Lonny Baxter though he carried the team during its worst moments tonight, definitely not Steve Baxter though he finally did get his act together late, but Byron Mouton, making saves and making plays to give his team a heartbeat down the stretch. Give the Hoosiers credit where it's due--3-pointers, patience, controlling the tempo of the game and never giving up. Give the Terps credit for a few things too--rebounding early, having the depth and determination to keep their chins up when they briefly lost the lead, and playing the opponent's style of gaming but still coming up with the win. The Terps did it--the first national championship ever for Maryland, the first time a coach has taken his alma mater all the way, the first time any team defeated a string of former national champs on the way to their own championship, the first time coach Gary Williams and the Terrapins have ever beaten Indiana, and Indiana's first loss in the final.

At the beginning of the tournament, I called the shot--Maryland would win it all. They have. For only the second time since beginning the blog, I get to say---
Advantage JunkYardBlog!
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THE SUN'S A LITTLE DIMMER

: Ellis Easterly, long-time copy editor for The Baltimore Sun, retired last week. Ellis was a real shining light at the Sun, a well-educated Christian influence in a media that is increasingly pagan and post-modern in its outlook. He brought a little bit of sanity and reason to the Sun's pages, and he'll be missed. Not that he's going away entirely--he says he'll be writing journal articles and teaching at a few of the local universities. Ellis is my Sunday School teacher, so I know his students will be in for a treat.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GRASP THE OLIVE BRANCH

, and it blows up in your face. That's been the Israeli experience since Arafat was legitimized and returned to Ramallah in 1994, yet Philip C. Wilcox thinks Israel should extend the hand of friendship to Arafat one more time. Before I get into the deconstruction mode, it might be nice to find out a little about Mr. Wilcox. The biographical material at the end of his article says he's the president of something called the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Here's the organization's website. It's a fascinating little site, devoted to explaining one side of a complicated conflict while completely ignoring the other side. It's pro-Palestinian to the hilt--which is fine, freedom of speech and all, but does show where Mr. Wilcox stands. As for his Christian Science Monitor editorial, here are some juicy bits:

There is tragic irony in the fact that Israelis and Palestinians are caught up in a massive new surge of violence only days after the Arab League, in a historic gesture, offered peace and normal relations with Israel in return for Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories.

No, Mr. Wilcox, the tragedy is that Arafat was offered the best deal he could hope for under the Barak government and turned it down cold, opting to release the terror instead. As for the Arab League's "historic gesture," it amounted to extending the middle finger while retracting all others. It contained a poison pill, designed to force Israel to reject it: the right-of-return, which would fill Israel with Palestinians to the point of turning the Jewish state into an Arab state overnight. Israel couldn't possibly have accepted it.

The Arab proposal and its dismissal by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who said it would lead to Israel's destruction, remove all doubt that the core of this conflict is no longer Israel's rejection by the Arab world. It is the struggle of the Palestinians for a viable state of their own against the stubborn determination of Mr. Sharon and the Israeli right wing to deny this by preserving Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.


No, the core of the conflict is the Arab states' goal to destroy of Israel. That's why Arab maps show only "Palestine" where Israel sits.

A two-state solution and peace would have been possible years ago, had it not been for the foolish policy of all Israeli governments since 1967 to create settlements in the occupied territories.


A two-state solution was available again just a few years ago, but Arafat unilaterally rejected it. Why not mention that? Wilcox fails to mention that rather important fact throughout the entire article. Here's Mr. Wilcox's plan for ending the war:

If the Bush administration is serious about peace, security for Israelis, and justice for Palestinians, it must begin addressing not just Palestinian violence and terrorism, which are symptoms of the conflict...


Symptoms? Violence and terrorism are symptoms? Kind of like calling death a symptom of murder.

but also the causes: Sharon's rejection of a viable Palestinian state and his commitment to settlements. Herein lies a way out of this tragic impasse. A bold American plan, building on the Arab League declaration, is desperately needed. It should promise security for Israelis: abandonment of most settlements; a Palestinian state defined by the 1967 line, with negotiated border adjustments; a compromise on refugees that protects Israel's Jewish demographics; and a commitment to make this work. There is no other way to stop the killing, restore hope, and resurrect a political process. Such a plan would win many Israeli and Palestinian allies, rally support in the US, and rescue America's faltering leadership as a peacemaker.


Won't work. You can't promise security for the Israelis based on the 1967 borders--that leaves Israel about 10 miles wide and barely defensible. You can't have a compromise on refugees that simultaneously protects Israel's Jewish demographics while allowing any real percentage of Palestinians back in--there just aren't enough Jews for any meaningful number of Palestinians to be allowed to return. What does "a committment to make this work" mean? US peace-keeping troops deployed in a region known for targeting them with truck bombs? Stern glances from Bush if anyone over there acts up? What? These people danced in the streets when they heard about 9-11--do ya think they'll play nice with us now? As for the political process that Wilcox wants resurrected, I'd say we're beyond political processes for a while. Israel just experienced its most violent weekend in a generation, and the violence continues unabated. The only process that seems likely to succeed in the near term is the process of ripping up Hamas, Hizbollah, the Al Aqsa Brigade and all other terrorist groups in the region as quickly as possible, and permanently shelving Arafat as any kind of leader. Then, and only then, may Israel and the Palestinians enter into a political process.





Posted by B. Preston at 06:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MORE IDIOCY FROM THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENTS:

A Japanese pro-Palestinian activist set himself on fire in a Tokyo park over the weekend, scorching himself out of the ability to agitate further. One thing about Japan's fringe activists--they're not too sharp. A few weeks before my deployment to Yokota Air Base in Tokyo in 1993, a communist group launched a homemade mortar at the collection of C-130 transport aircraft that usually parked, outdoors, about 100 yards from the base perimeter fence. C-130's are big, hulking things, and their lack of hangar and proximity to the fence made them easy targets, or would have to any competent attacker. Unfortunately for the communist group, the mortar was poorly aimed and pitifully constructed--it landed harmlessly several dozen yards from any aircraft or personnel, failing to detonate. It just laid there, burning like a sock soaked in kerosene (which is probably what it was). It didn't even manage to catch any grass on fire.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

ABORTION AND THE LAW:

Responding to my response to Dale Amon's odd, illogical rant against Republicans the other day, a reader without a name writes that the three sides in the triangular abortion debate are all missing the point.

All three sides on this issue miss the original
constitutional solution to thorny moral questions:
Federalism. Before Roe v Wade, the federal
government had exactly nothing to say about
abortion; most states prohibited it, some
allowed it with a wink and a nod, some allowed
it openly. This is exactly what the 9th and 10th
amendments mean. For that matter, most of the
Bill of Rights makes the same assumption:
Feds keep hands off, states may be very
strict or very loose, let competition work.


Now, the liberals want to preserve the status quo,
with states forced to allow abortion under most
circumstances; conservatives want the Feds to
prohibit abortion everywhere; libertarians want no
laws anywhere. None of those arrangements agree
with the Constitutional approach.


True, to an extent. While many conservatives do want the Feds to ban abortion outright, the majority are actually in favor of handling the legalities of it this way: overturn Roe, which would send the issue back to the states for now. Over time, try to build up sufficient popular support for a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution that would ban the most common uses of abortion (birth control, gender selection) while leaving health exceptions intact. The Human Life Amendment would never pass now, and without a sea change in public opinion isn't likely to pass at all, leaving the issue in the hands of state legislatures. To most of us, that's almost infinitely preferrable to the status quo.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

IDIOCY FROM THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENTS:

13 foreign "peace activitists" (meaning: pro-terrorism activists) slipped past Israeli guards and paid Arafat a visit. On their way out, some tried to smuggle wanted Palestinians (terrorists, in other words) to safety. The activists were arrested, and the Israeli army widened the cutoff zone around Arafat's compound.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 31, 2002

HOPING AND PRAYING TO BE WRONG:

Perry De Havilland hopes he's wrong in his view that the Palestinians will soon be ethnically cleansed from the occupied territories. All I can add to that is that I basically agree with his assessment, and not only hope but pray that the assessment is wrong. But a peaceful solution doesn't seem possible now, for so many reasons. Israel has never been treated fairly by her Arab neighbors--the Arab neighbors are in reality no better than the Nazis who terrorized the world decades ago. The Palestinians are probably the most unwanted people on the face of the earth, both in Israel and within their own Arab "family"--they have already been ethnically cleansed from Kuwait, and are forbidden from living regular lives in state after state throughout the region. And Arafat and Sharon are nearing the climax of what has been a very personal 30-year war for them both--even if peace were attainable at this point, I believe the two personalities at the respective helms simply won't countenance losing at this stage. It's a grudge match, between two peoples and two people.

To this, I'll add one more assessment, that I also hope and pray is wrong. I think we're headed for a much wider war now. Our plans for Iraq, as just and right as they are, may well spark a Pan-Arab war, with ourselves and Israel on one side and all of the Arab states on the other. Should this Pan-Arab war come about, expect the far left and right at home to scream like you've never heard them scream before--they will hate this war and blame Bush for it. I think they may even turn to violence--riots will probably take place in some of the more exotic lefty strongholds around the country. Americans sympathetic to the Islamic cause may even commit suicide bombings on US soil. Expect the press to second-guess everything, criticize everything, and likely manipulate a lot of things to cast the war in unfavorable terms for the administration. That's already starting, as a matter of fact. I caught some of Fox's reporting this afternoon, and saw Jeff Birnbaum and Bill Kriston debate the course of events--Birnbaum (who writes for Fortune magazine) placed much of the blame for this weekend's violence on the Bush administration, and promoted a go-slow approach to Iraq. The Washington Post today criticized the President for fund-raising and introducing politics into the war effort--even though the Democrats have been the ones to test the politicization of the war without the Post raising an eyebrow in protest. Expect more of the same, but gaining in intensity, in the coming months. As for our "allies," expect Western Europe to make a lot of noise but, for the most part, sit on its hands. Even UK Prime Minister Blair seems to be getting cold feet now.

In short, I think we've wound the clock back to 1938, but we're in a worse position now to deal with the coming conflict. Sure, we're by far the most technologically advanced nation. But arms are only part of the equation--our troops in Vietnam were far better equipped than the enemy, and never lost a single battle, yet we somehow lost the war. Since then, we've been fed decades of anti-Americanism in our own educational and political systems, we have a press that sees itself as the world's press instead of the nation's press, we have a major political party that sees as one of its prime directives the restraint of US authority and power, and we have fickle allies who, with the exception of the UK, just don't see the world the way we do anymore. As they don't perceive themselves to be under the same threat we are, I believe they're not likely to enter the war with the same determination that we have. If we get into a Pan-Arab war where things break the wrong way in a few places, we're in for a long, difficult fight--we'll win, but the nation and the world will have been tranformed in ways we can scarcely yet imagine.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

EASTER IS HERE:

Some of you out there may think Christians are fools for believing in the resurrection of Jesus. You know what, you're right--we are fools, following God's wisdom and truth. A few words about the Risen One:

It seems I've imagined Him all of my life
As the wisest of all of mankind.
But if God's holy wisdom is foolish to men,
He must have seemed out of His mind

For even His family said He was mad,
And a priest said "A demon's to blame."
But God in the form of this angry young man,
Could not have seemed perfectly sane.

We in our foolishness thought we were wise;
He played the fool and He opened our eyes
We in our weakness believed we were strong;
He became helpless to show we were wrong.

And so we follow God's own Fool
For only the foolish can tell
Believe the unbelievable--
Come be a fool as well


--Michael Card, "God's Own Fool"
Posted by B. Preston at 12:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FEAR THE TURTLE:

Maryland 97-Kansas 88. Juan Dixon was on fire, with a career-high 34 points. Surviving a 13-2 deficit and Lonnie Baxter's foul trouble in the opening minutes, Maryland built up a 20-point lead in the second half and, in spite of a late run by Kansas, never looked back. Now it's on to the final on Monday night versus Indiana, who convincingly knocked off Oklahoma in the early game. Throughout this tournament I've expected Maryland to handle all competition with the lone exception of Duke, and if Duke lost than whoever beat them would become the team to worry about. That team was Indiana, who won a crazy nail-biter over the Blue Devils in the Sweet 16. Since beating Duke, the Hoosiers dismantled Kent State (who had defeated the #2 and #3 seeds in the South region) and, tonight, Oklahoma. Monday night, the team I expected to win takes on the only team that concerned me from the beginning (by beating, and becoming the proxy for, Duke).

On paper it's no contest--Maryland is deeper, more talented, quicker, smarter and slightly better coached. But they don't play the games on paper, and Indiana is just plain scary in reality--they look in so many ways like a team of destiny (but so does Maryland). Indiana has already won two huge games against the odds, and against teams that were (on paper) better than them. Maryland has spanked teams that were solid contenders this season, beating Duke by a bunch in the regular season, knocking off Kentucky a couple of rounds back, and taking care of top-ranked Kansas tonight--not to mention UConn in the East final. Historically, Indiana has the edge--5 trips to the NCAA final without a single loss, while Maryland has never been to the final at all. But history has nothing to do with Monday night's game--neither of the teams playing Monday has a single player who's ever gotten this far. This one is tough to call.

But call it I will--I expect Maryland to take it. Juan Dixon is just too determined to win to let the championship slip away now. And Maryland, while occassionally sloppy and capable of dumb mistakes, is the best team in the country. Fear the turtle...
Posted by B. Preston at 12:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack