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The sniper comes to Richmond

Absent the confirmation of the ATF, it seems the sniper has hit just north of me, in Ashland. He shot a man coming out of a Ponderosa. Lucky for the victim, it was an abdomen shot and it seems he'll survive, thankfully.

I'm listening to the local news and realizing that yes, I am at risk from this sick, twisted fuck's attempts at godhood. Sure, the risk is tiny. There are millions of people in the DC Metro area (and Richmond is considered a part of that), and the odds of my getting popped getting gas are miniscule. (The odds of my getting popped coming out of a Ponderosa are nil; trust me, I have better taste in restaurants than that.) However, it didn't occur to my friend and me on Wednesday night that we should have done a safety check on our way out of Ruth's Cris Steakhouse. We were far more concerned with how effing cold it was. But the risk is big enough tonight that my brother called me to make sure I was all right, and asked me to call my mother. I won't do that. She doesn't generally watch the news, so she is blithely unaware that the sniper has hit a suburb of Richmond. If she knew about it, she'd have called by now. (It's just past 11 p.m. as I write this.)

I went to the car to get my Metro Richmond map, because I'm new enough to the area that I wasn't exactly sure where Ashland was. On the first page is the index of maps. Ashland is 15 miles north of downtown Richmond, about 20 miles away from where I live. He's moving south, our psycho, in a move that seems inexorable. I think I will not, after all, gas up at my usual place, which fronts a large shopping center parking lot. Tomorrow, I'll pay the extra five or ten cents per gallon to gas up down the street, where the gas station fronts nothing but the street. Or I'll head for the WaWa a bit further down, and buy my Sunday paper and gas there, instead. The other station is out. It's right off the entrance to a tributary of 95.

I don't know enough about what the police are doing, really. I keep reading about white vans and trucks, and I think, "Do you really think this guy is stupid enough that he's still driving a white van or truck while he performs his atrocities?" I don't. I think he's in a completely different vehicle, probably not even white, and I think that he's been casing his targets. A reporter on the local CBS station says witnesses heard the shot ring out from the woods behind the Ponderosa, in the rear parking lot. If that's true, then he studied the area well enough to plot out a getaway route. The reporter says a police officer was on the scene helping the victim within a minute. The shooter slipped away, as far as we know.

Of course, this may not be the sniper. It may be a copycat sicko. But I don't think that really makes a difference to the guy who got a bullet in his belly. And it's not making a bit of difference to me. It's time to worry, I think.

But CBS just aired a phone interview with Ken Gustafson of Ashland Berry Farm, eight miles from the shooting site, where thousands of children are enjoying a Halloween hayride, and his voice is soft and calm and reassuring, telling the reporter that the kids are all fine, and he'll stay open until the last of the parents arrive to pick them up. He tells her: "Life's a little slower out here in the country. The kids are fine. They're having a great time. We're gonna sit out here with them until their parents come and get them." He said he reminded worried parents that their kids who can drive are going to take a while longer to get home because of the traffic due to road closures, and not to give them a hard time over being late. On that note, I'm turning off the television.

Freedom of the press in Lebanon

There's a conference going on that most people don't know about and probably couldn't care less about: It's the summit of "francophonie" nations (nations that speak French, no, I'm not kidding). One reporter from France was accused of being an Israeli spy, of breaking the law by broadcasting to Israel (that's right, it's against the law to broadcast anything from Lebanon to Israel), and nearly pounded by a mob of angry Lebanese journalists (yes, journalists). One report:

The incident at the media centre began late yesterday morning, when about 30 Lebanese journalists surrounded a French reporter, Gideon Kuts, who works for a Jewish monthly in France.

Some demanded to know whether he was an Israeli spy.

They were provoked by a report in an Arabic-language newspaper, As-Safir, that he had made broadcasts to Israel from the summit. The story was illustrated with a picture of Mr. Kuts apparently filming the Lebanese presidential palace with a video camera.

Mr. Kuts was at first ringed by the Lebanese reporters at the media centre where reporters covering the summit work. He told the crowd that he was only doing his job, but as they grew more agitated, he took refuge in a closed-off area reserved for the press office of French President Jacques Chirac.

The Lebanese journalists surrounded the office until conference security guards pushed them away. After about 20 minutes, representatives from the French delegation whisked Mr. Kuts out a side door. He was driven away from the conference in a van belonging to a French television network that reportedly took him to his hotel, where he was unavailable for comment.

The journalist, who, according to some reports, holds Israeli as well as French citizenship, was later stripped of his accreditation to the summit.

Lebanese officials confirmed that Mr. Kuts's accreditation had been revoked. He reportedly came to Lebanon with a visa issued in Paris on a French passport.

Lebanon remains technically at war with Israel, after a 20-year occupation of its southern region that ended just two years ago. The Lebanese do not permit any legal contact, not even telephone calls, with their southern neighbour.

"Look, we're at war, and he doesn't have a right to be here," one of the Lebanese journalists said. She declined to give her name. "I wouldn't have a problem if he were just broadcasting to France."

Mr. Chrétien, who is attending the summit, said: "If this has happened to a French journalist, it's for the French government to react. Me, I don't like it when the journalists are maltreated."

But he added, jokingly, "They treat me really well."

Other reporters travelling with Mr. Chirac said that Mr. Kuts works for the Jewish monthly L'Arche and freelances for Israeli media. They added that he has followed French presidents on international trips for at least a decade and visited Lebanon with Mr. Chirac four years ago.

Ha. Ha. That Chrétien is a card, isn't he? Wow, a reporter is mobbed, has to take refuge from an increasingly angry group of reporters—not terrorists, not thugs, not people off the street, but reporters—has to be protected by security guards and then taken hurriedly away through a side entrance for his own protection, and Chrétien says it's not his problem because the reporter wasn't Canadian. And then he makes a bad joke. But look at the way they built the tensions in the conference which, after all, is supposed to be about French-speaking nations cultural ties. First, they stirred up the crowd against the Jews.

Traditionally, the Francophonie has not been a political organization. However, this year's meeting in Beirut has put Middle East politics near the centre of the agenda.

President Lahoud told the summit that at a time when civilized nations are trying to eradicate terrorism, "the Israeli occupation [of Palestinian land] perpetuates the most perverse form of terrorism: state terrorism."

He said that Israel subjects the Palestinian population to "odious massacres," which it tries to defend under cover of the so-called "war on terrorism" launched by the United States.

Several other francophone speakers spoke against Israel, though in less animated terms. No leader defended the Jewish state from the podium.

Mr. Chretien's own speech largely steered clear of political issues except to praise the organization for expanding its political role. He focused on the cultural goals of the Francophonie, and its mission to bolster the French language.

Canadian officials said they expected the leaders to discuss the Middle East in closed session today.

"No leader defended the Jewish state from the podium." My. How unusual. And today, they get to talk about Israel in secret. I'd love to have a record of that conference. Probably be a great addition to Charles' website.

By the way, I did a bit more digging around the news and found some fascinating differences in reporting. Sorry, I couldn't find a Reuters account, but here's the UPI report of the same incident. I think it will do to stand in for Reuters.

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- An Israeli journalist Friday was banned from further media activity at the 9th Francophonie summit in Beirut after his presence angered Lebanese journalists.

Gedeon Cotes, who also is French, had traveled with the French media delegation to cover the summit.

A Lebanese TV cameraman at the media center in downtown Beirut recognized Cotes from a picture published Friday in Lebanon's As Safir newspaper. Soon, a group of journalists gathered around Cotes, asking him whether he was Israeli and whether he was a reporter for Israeli Channel 2 television station.

According to As Safir, Cotes had appeared on the Israeli channel Thursday night to report about French President Jacques Chirac's visit to Lebanon.

At the media center, Cotes repeated that he was "a French journalist and not more," but refused to say whether he was an Israeli.

A group of Lebanese journalists started to shout, saying he should not have been allowed into the country.

Security officers for French President Jacques Chirac and Lebanese President Emile Lahoud rushed to escort Cotes back to the hotel where the French delegation was staying.

A Lebanese security official told United Press International that Cotes's presence caused chaos after he accused the Lebanese journalists of being hostile.

A statement released by the media center's security said the French delegation was informed that Cotes was not allowed to "carry out any media activity and is prevented from entering the press center."

The statement said the French showed understanding and promised to take the necessary measures. However, the French delegation was unavailable for comment.

Cotes joined the French media delegation as a reporter for the L'Arche newspaper, affiliated with the French Jewish community. He refrained from saying he was also a reporter of Israeli Channel 2.

One of Cotes's French colleagues told United Press International a journalist should be able to do his job as long as he abided by the rules, regardless of his nationality.

A reporter of Lebanon's al-Manar, the Hezbollah-run television station, said Cotes presence in Beirut was "a provocation and a challenge to the Lebanese."

"Naturally, we are against his presence here. He is an Israeli in Lebanon and working for an Israeli media," said the reporter, who wished not to be named.

Lebanon is still in a state of war with Israel. Hezbollah has fought Israeli occupying forces in south Lebanon until forcing their withdrawal in May 2000 after 22 years.

Yeah, there goes that provocation excuse again. He provoked the mob to go after him. It was probably humiliating to have to stand in the same room as a Jew.

By the way, I think from now on I'll refer to Lebanon as Syrian-occupied Lebanon. After all, there are 20,000 uninvited Syrian troops in Lebanon. And come to think of it, I urge all bloggers to do the same. Syria out of Lebanon! No Justice, no peace! (I don't know why, they seem to always chant that at rallies.) Say. Where are the nazimedia kiddies' protests about Syrian forces in Lebanon? I must have missed them.

I'm serious about Syrian-occupied Lebanon, though. Let's start a meme.

Very, very strange search request

What's the matter, did I catch you all at your prayer time?

The really scary thing: I'm the number one result for that.

A few good links

Happy anniversary, Michele.

War Liberal has left the building. (Mac, never follow instructions. You shoulda just put it all into the warliberal directory.)

Laurence Simon is his usual nutty self.

I'm in the top ten. I'd like to thank my English teachers... (By the way, Kevin, speak for yourself.) ((Look, this post is less than 299 words, which is one word lower than the CalPundit Bore Threshold)) (((Dude, you so missed an opportunity for some link-love. You should have hyperlinked all the blogs in your chart, which would have caused your readers to click on the links, which would have caused the bloggers to see your post in their referrer logs, which would have gotten them to find your post, which would have gotten them to link to it. I had to find it via Charles Kuffner. For an ex-marketing guy, you suck at web marketing.))) ((((By the way, he's in Italy, so I doubt he's going to answer this any time soon, if at all. But then again, it's a weekend post, so who's gonna notice?)))) (((((I really had nothing else to say here, but I thought five parentheses would look really neat.)))))

Oh, the hell with the rest of the blogs. I need to get some shuteye. Later.



Zem exposes Indymedia anti-Israel fabrication

I'm shocked, shocked I say, to read that nazimedia would actually fabricate an anti-Israeli story. But Zem's caught them with their pants down (and their tiny little unmentionables exposed). The subject: The origin of the C4 involved in the Bali terrorist explosion.

From the nazimedia kiddies:

The discovery of the explosives suggests a sophisticated bombing operation. Reports from the French news agency AFP say that the head of Indonesian intelligence, Hendropriyono, has disclosed that the explosive was a type known as C4, tacked to manufacture in Israel.

From Zem:

However, the Indymedia post doesn't link to a copy of the full AFP article. A google search for various combinations of key words - Bali, C4, Hendropriyono, Israel - turns up nothing relevant other than the Indymedia article (which is syndicated on a number of regional Indymedia sites). e.g. Hendropriyono c4 israel. A search on the new Google News service, which indexes AFP articles via any number of affiliate news sites, finds zero hits.

The nearest AFP story I can find is this one, also from Wednesday. It quotes Hendropriyono, but the only C4 manufacturer mentioned is the US:

THE C4 plastic explosive used in the Bali bombing is a very powerful substance mainly manufactured in the United States but widely supplied to military forces around the world.

Nice detective work, Zem.

Is there really anyone out there outside of their own contributors that thinks Indymedia is anything other than a network of hate-filled online rags? Because really, people—Indymedia sucks. Period. End of story. There is no truth out there.


(A tip of the hat to Irongall for the title.)

Kesher Talk is hop-hop-hoppin'. There are so many great links to choose from it's nearly impossible to narrow it down. But of course, I'll try.

A fascinating article in the Forward about how UN conferences that aren't hijacked by the anti-Israelis are far more worthwhile and accomplish much

A profile of the man who rebuilt the Pentagon in half the time and money they said it would take. His parents were refugees from Hitler, and his mother was saved by an American journalist—a debt that Allyn Kilsheimer wanted to repay. Read the story, it's wonderful.

This one is from Judith Weiss, a sad explanation as to why she's been absent from Kesher Talk these past few weeks: Her uncle died, and with him went more information from the generation that fled or survived Nazi Germany:

My mother had no siblings. My father had one sibling. Both my grandfathers died before I was born. I have one brother and 2 first cousins (Al's sons). All grandparents are gone, both parents, and now my only uncle. An entire generation, which grew up under Nazi persecution and managed through wit and luck to flee to America, is passing into history, and because they often reacted to questions about their past with discomfort, and because my generation was reluctant to push and felt we had a lot of time, we have less of their history than we could have. We have lots of stories and old photographs and second and third cousins, which is more than many people get to keep of their parents' generation. But it isn't enough.

When did the naked anti-Jewish slurs begin from your public school teachers in Berlin? How was your first-generation Warsaw family treated by German Jews? How long did it take to decide you had to leave, and whose decision was it? How did you, a teenager, choose what to put into that one suitcase, when the family left for Paris in 1936 on a one-week visa, knowing they would probably never return again? How did you find a place to stay as illegal aliens in Paris, and how did you find work? What was it like to walk from Paris to Marseilles, sleeping by the side of the road and begging food from farmers, dodging bombs from German planes? During the long months after you had contacted the distant relative in Houston, TX, did you ever despair that the papers to emigrate to the United States would come through? If the Nazis hadn't arisen as a political force in Germany, would you have come to the States anyway, do you think? Was your father still religious during this time, and did you try to observe any Judaism, or did you put it all to one side until you were safe again?

There are many more articles to read, and as I may not have much to say today, you might want to head over there.

Diane E. has been working overtime as well. Topics: Oil is everywhere, and we don't need Arab oil to survive. She got a letter from someone in the bid'ness who backs her up:

The reason I am writing is your interest in Thomas Gold. You will find it notable there were several articles written early in 2002 describing a newly discovered phenomena in which subsea deepwater resevoirs of oil in the Gulf of Mexico were replenishing themselves. Using the relatively new 3D technology for seismic and resevoir mapping, it was found that previously drilled and depleted oil resevoirs under the ocean floor were mysteriously filling back up. We have not had the technical abilities before (or the money) to go around looking at old fields, especially beneath the ocean deep. I believe this revelation fits perfectly with Dr. Gold's theory.

Plus, she zings Atrios on their ongoing culture clash and Whitney Huston ("I Will Always Love You" was Saddam Hussein's election theme song, pity the poor Iraqis).

Alex Frantz didn't like D-Squared's disingenuous post on the Israeli divestiture movement, either. And Matthew Yglesias talks back to a stupid Harvard Crimson editorial on the issue. (I seem to be using that word a lot lately. Channeling Homer Simpson. Stupid Homer.)

Gary Farber is fighting an uphill battle on a topic that you'd think would be a breeze: Many bloggers (especially, unbelievably, liberal bloggers) are playing down the effects of weapons of mass destruction.

We draw the line, and use the term, and category, of "weapons of mass destruction" to say Do Not Use These. Never Again. Here we stop.

And that's why I'm so disturbed when people, people, of course, utter good will, but a lack of understanding of the history of these weapons and the international politics of them, attempt to break down these distinctions, to break down the taboos about use of gas weapons of death and biological weapons of horror, to say "really, they're not liable to be very mass, after all, are they?" (I don't accept that premise, but that's another argument.)

Because what they are saying, without realizing it, is "yes, we shouldn't treat the use, or manufacture, of smallpox virus, or ebola, or tabun gas, or sarin, or any other highly dangerous biological or nerve-attacking weapon as any different than use of cannons or bombs or missiles."

I am astonished that Gary should have to fight so hard to get people to understand how awful biological and chemical weapons are. To use the argument that since our enemies don't have a truly decent delivery system, these things are not nearly as bad as they're made out to be, is to hide your head in the sand. This is the 21st century. We have innovations before breakfast, upgrades by lunch, and new technology at dinnertime. What fool out there thinks that we won't (wittingly or not) have a decent method of delivery for toxins sooner than we'd realized? Who among us predicted that two airplanes would be turned into bombs lethal enough to destroy the World Trade Center?

Should Gary change his blog's name to Cassandra? (Well, granted, we'd all be able to spell it more easily, but still...)

Finally, a cattale!

Well, Arthur Silber wrote one. And I was thinking of writing mine anyway, but his post got me to get off my butt and actually do it. Er, well, no, when you have to sit down and write something, you're actually getting on your butt, not off it. So I guess the line would be: But his post got me to get on my butt and actually do it. Only that looks stupid.

The post is here.



The Mailbag on the chickenhawk post

Wow, that was fast. A few readers already weighed in on my earlier post. Here's Michael N.:

As one of your examples poking fun at the "chickenhawk" argument, you mention that if that argument were to hold true, men couldn't be gynecologists (which is actually something that creeps some of my female friends out, so they will only go to female GYNs), and that the converse of this stand is that women can't be proctologists.

Ya know, I get why your female friends are creeped out. All my GYNs have been female as well. The way I see it, any guy messing around down there had damned well better already be buying me flowers and jewelry, not expecting me to pay him for the honor.

I realize that you're aiming at the point that "women don't have a prostate gland", with the implication that since women don't have one, they can't be expert in treating it. However, proctology is actually concerned with the study of the rectum and anus, and my studies have confirmed that women are indeed equipped with such organs. Treatment of the prostate is actually the responsibility of urologists, whose jobs are snicker-worthy already, although not quite so much so as proctologists.

Oh. Oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhh. [smacking forehead] Well, now we all know about my ignorance of the prostate gland. Don't know anyone who's ever had a problem with it, not married, giggle at my male friends whenever they mention that have to have a prostate exam (or have just had one). I think, also, it's a lot more fun to say "proctologist" than "urologist." Say it out loud, you'll see what I mean. (Please, please, no angry email from proctologists and urologists. We're not lauging at you, we're laughing at how funny the name of your profession sounds.)

Say, Mike, I hope you don't harbor any secret notions that I'm going to ask you to go into great detail about your studies that resulted in the confirmation you mention above. Because I already get enough yucky search requests, and trust me, by posting your letter, I will be getting more. But thanks for writing, and correcting my misunderstanding of two maligned professions. (Next on Podiatry—is it the world's stinkiest profession?)

Bill Allison wanted to let me know that I was being unfair to modern American fathers in my line about how only women would be able to make the laws on abortion and child care.

I think Lileks, for example, provides quite a bit of child care to his daughter (to cite one very famous example from the blogosphere). I think I provide a fairly decent amount of child care to my son as well.

I think Lileks is a Daddy god, and his daughter is going to agree with me in about twenty years. And from what I've read, you're a great dad, too. But Bill, I didn't mean it quite that way. I was going with the flow of the logic: If you can't have kids, you can't decide how they are cared for or raised. (And we won't go too deeply into the male contribution to creating the baby because, well, the post was satire, and now you're making me think in far too serious a manner.)

The assumption that men don't provide child care is a little outdated. Have you been overdosing on the Leave it to Beaver repeats?

WHERE DID YOU GET THAT INFORMATION? WHO TOLD YOU I WATCH TV LAND? They swore to me that my viewing habits would be kept secret!!

Actually, I have noticed the Beav is on from time to time, and like watching a slow-motion train wreck, it's almost impossible to avert my eyes—well, at least for about 60 seconds. Then I switch the channel before my brain melts. Mind you, reruns of the Brady Bunch can send me screaming from the room in a maniacal frenzy. (Sometimes I'm so overwhelmed with horror I forget I can simply switch the channel.) Mary Richards and Barney Miller are the only ones who can keep me on TV Land for long.

Well, that's it from the mailbag at the moment. Unless you've found more errors, which, of course, I love having pointed out to me. Yup. I love being wrong, and admitting I made mistakes, and the phrase mea culpa, and—look, over there! Isn't that Derek Jeter? (Whew. I thought they'd never leave.)

Pictures of UMich

Moe Freedman sent me this amusing picture that he snapped during the UMich hatefest (otherwise known as divestment conference). The reason it is amusing is because the man on the right pointing at the people lying and sitting on the ground is Adam Shapiro, who found this street theater impression of victims of a terrorist bombing attack to be, well—let's get the quotes from Haggai:

Rabbi Weiss led his NY contingent to the site of the divestment conference, which continued today with training sessions for divestment advocacy. Weiss led the group in a "re-enactment" of the Hebrew University cafeteria bomb--everyone got down on the ground and played dead for a couple of minutes. No red paint or play-doh or anything like that. Then Adam Shapiro came out of the conference and started yelling about how occupation was killing people, that the re-enactment was a tribute to victims of occupation, that the Israeli flag that some people were holding is a "flag of occupation," etc. One of the NY contingent started yelling, "GO BACK INSIDE, HOUSE JEW!" repeatedly before Shapiro went back to the conference and the people all left to board their buses to head back to NY.

And so I present the picture of the House Jew with his knickers in a twist. I'm smiling. Are you smiling?

The things you read on the left-hand side of the page

I think it was a link from James to Atrios to this guy, but the disingenuousness of this particular post simply has to be pointed out:

I would guess that the reason that there is no campaign for divestiture from Syria is that it doesn't have a stock exchange.

There are a few Syrian companies quoted on the bourse in Doha, but they're not exactly mainstream investments. The Egyptian stock exchange is absolutely tiny; I seem to remember that Fleming-CIIC Securities (part of the JP Morgan Chase group) is the only international broker operating there (edit: Google says I'm wrong and that HSBC and ABN Amro have a presence. But google also tells me that the market capitalisation of Egypt is only $30bn), and although the Saudi stock market is capitalised at around $40bn, investment into it by foreigners is tightly regulated; basically, the only way you can buy into it is through a country fund managed by a Saudi bank and listed in London. Unlike Israel, which boasts a number of companies with New York listings and two S&P500 constituents, investment in the three countries mentioned is pretty hard-core emerging markets stuff, not really the widows-and-orphans territory of your typical university endowment.

I would guess that the reason Friedman is not wrong is that the divestiture campaign petitions also explicitly state that they want to stop the universities from investing in any companies that do business with Israel, as well as stop military aid to Israel, thus ensuring an economic attack similar to the Arab boycott (which is still ongoing, by the way) of both Israeli companies and companies that did business with Israel. From one such petition:

We therefore call on the US government to make military aid and arms sales to Israel conditional on immediate initiation and rapid progress in implementing the conditions listed below. We also call on MIT and Harvard to divest from Israel, and from US companies that sell arms to Israel, until these conditions are met:

But wait, there's more (from D-Squared, not the petition):

In fact, on the basis of the above research, I would hazard a guess (and perhaps award a small prize to anyone who can gainsay me with proof), that the major American university endowments have no investments at all in Egypt, Syria or Saudi Arabia, making it rather fucking pointless to campaign for them to "divest".

It is considered traditional at this point to fulminate about the kind of individual who makes this sort of pig-ignorant blanket assertion without bothering to spend five minutes on google to check the facts, but I'm scared of the blowback from that one.

My research took less than five minutes. Oh, and I found have a page that he'll hate, but readers of this weblog will like. (Good bookmark for later research.) Insert typical fulminating and scatological graf here regarding D-Squared's research, intellect, ambition, or lack thereof. Nothing personal, of course. It's de rigeur.

I don't want a prize. Just a correction. But I won't hold my breath on that.

The definitive "chickenhawk" argument

Doc Weevil has been spending a lot of time going back and forth with the Warblogger Watch crowd over what I think is a truly specious and utterly stupid argument.

The anti-warbloggers say that the warbloggers have no right to call for war unless they are ready, willing, and able to enlist and fight in the war. The warbloggers, of course, respond that that is a ridiculous argument, and list many reasons why. Doc Weevil, in a particularly amusing series of posts, flung the argument back at the WW crowd by offering to raise enough money to send them to Baghdad to be human shields—to be ready, willing, and able to do their part in stopping the war.

All right. You have the synopsis. (If you're in a masochistic mood, feel free to go back and follow all the posts and posturing, but be warned: I've given you the "good parts" version.) Well, here are my thoughts on the matter. If the Warblogger Watch crowd is correct, then so is the following logic: If you haven't walked the walk, you can't talk the talk. Right? Well. Let's take a quick imaginary tour of what the world would be like under those rules:

If only people who have fought in wars are able to make the decision to send others to fight in wars, then

Only people who can have babies can make the laws on abortion and child care (for the truly slow among you, that means only women get a say in the matter)

Men can't be gynecologists (the converse, of course: women can't be proctologists)

Heart surgeons can't be qualified to work on other people's hearts until they've had a heart attack

Publishers can't publish books until they've had one of their own published

News reporters can't report the news until they have first made the news (getting arrested for something counts; Enron executives would qualify to become reporters or TV anchors by this logic)

Athletes cannot play in championship series unless they've already played in a championship series (which would guarantee the continuing Yankees domination of the World Series, at least until Derek Jeter retires)

John Edward can't talk to the dead unless he has first been dead (and I volunteer to help him achieve that state)

Bald people can't cut hair

Just forget about actors, musicians, artists, and writers. Once the current generation dies out, we can never have new ones because the hard-and-fast rule is that if you've never performed in a play or on film sold a book, you're s.o.l.

The end to invention and innovation also looms under this logic: don't think about getting a patent; you have to have already received patents to get new ones

The mentally ill would be the only ones qualified to help the mentally ill (brings an entirely new meaning to the old joke, "I'm schizophrenic, and so am I," doesn't it?

Oh, yeah—you can't get rich because if you aren't already rich, you wouldn't be able to make more than a certain amount of money. We'd have to change the laws, of course, but that, too, fits the logic of the "chickenhawk" theory. (And let me tell you, every time I see that word, all I can think of is Foghorn Leghorn's ankle-high opponent declaring, "I'm a chickenhawk. I eat chickens!")

I could go on, but the point has been made (not to say "belabored"). Right, Foghorn?

Note: Email asked and answered above



The Economist on stupid Israel comparisons

Well, they don't exactly call them stupid, but they are. I found this article via a comment on LGF. It's a common-sense answer to the stupid comparisons of Iraq and Israel that have been going around the web:

... But a quite distinct sort of claim is also made in the “double standards” debate. This holds that Israel stands in breach of Security Council resolutions in just the way Iraq does, and therefore deserves to be treated by the UN with equal severity. Not so.

What the law says
The UN distinguishes between two sorts of Security Council resolution. Those passed under Chapter Six deal with the peaceful resolution of disputes and entitle the council to make non-binding recommendations. Those under Chapter Seven give the council broad powers to take action, including warlike action, to deal with “threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, or acts of aggression”. Such resolutions, binding on all UN members, were rare during the cold war. But they were used against Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait. None of the resolutions relating to the Israeli-Arab conflict comes under Chapter Seven. By imposing sanctions—including military ones—against Iraq but not against Israel, the UN is merely acting in accordance with its own rules.

The distinctiveness of Chapter Seven resolutions, and the fact that none has been passed in relation to Israel, is acknowledged by Palestinian diplomats. It is, indeed, one of their main complaints. A Palestine Liberation Organisation report, entitled “Double Standards” and published at the end of September, pointed out that, over the years, the UN has upheld the Palestinians' right to statehood, condemned Israel's settlements and called for Israel to withdraw. But “no enforcement action or any other action to implement UN resolutions and international law has been ordered by the Security Council.”

But what if, for the sake of argument, the main Security Council resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict had been Chapter Seven resolutions? The problem would then arise that Resolution 242 of 1967, passed after the six-day war and frequently cited in the double-standards argument, does not say what a lot of the people who quote it think it says (see article). It does not instruct Israel to withdraw unilaterally from the territories occupied in 1967. It does not condemn Israel's conquest, for the good reason that most western powers at that time thought it the result of a justifiable pre-emptive war. It calls for a negotiated settlement, based on the principle of exchanging land for peace. This is a very different matter.

In the case of Iraq, the Security Council has instructed Mr Hussein to take various unilateral actions that he is perfectly capable of taking. Resolution 242 cannot be implemented unilaterally, even if Israel wanted to do so.

[...] It is commonly asserted that Israel's occupation is “illegal”. This is questionable. In March, for the first time ever, Kofi Annan, the UN's secretary-general, called Israel's occupation illegal, but it is no accident that he has not repeated this claim. In the view of Sir Adam Roberts, professor of international relations at the University of Oxford, it was a “serious mistake” to describe the occupation itself, as opposed to some of Israel's actions as an occupier, in this way. In a subsequent letter to the New York Times, Mr Annan's spokesman admitted as much. The secretary-general, he said, had not intended to refer to the legality of Israel's occupation of the territories during the war of 1967, only to breaches of its obligations as an occupying power.

[...] What, though, about Israel's nukes? Does its status as an undeclared nuclear power put it on a par with Iraq, which has tried to become one? No. In 1981, Resolution 487 scolded Israel for sending its aircraft to destroy Iraq's Osiraq reactor, which Israel said was being used to manufacture a nuclear weapon, despite having been given a clean bill of health by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Noting that Israel had not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), as Iraq had, the UN called on Israel to put its own nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards, as the NPT requires.

Two decades on, Israel has still not signed the NPT. This infuriates the treaty's supporters, who have been striving to make it “universal”. But, as with any other treaty, governments are free not to sign. What they are not free to do is sign, receive the foreign (civilian) nuclear help to which signing entitles them, and then try to build a bomb secretly. This, it is now ruefully accepted, is what Iraq tried to do, and may still be trying to do. Israel is thought to possess a large nuclear arsenal, about which it is not being open and honest, and this is provoking to its neighbours. But it is not evidence of “double standards”. Being a nuclear-armed power is not, by itself, a breach of international law.

I know I excerpted more than I usually do, but it's the best article I've seen yet that explains the situation factually and unemotionally. And we're all familiar, I'm sure, with the Economist's famous righty bias, are we not? (Yes, that was sarcasm. SARCASM!) Please, read the entire article. Well worth it.

Looking around a bit

Found this extremely funny piece by Phil Ringnalda:

Sometimes, when nobody gets it, and you keep telling them and telling them, and they still don't get it? Sometimes that means you're wrong. I'm just saying...

Did you know that Google changed its method of ranking pages, thus making my Operation Clambake link on the top left page obsolete? Apparently not. Just checked, and comes out second in a search for Scientology. And I come out fifth in this Google search (it was a search within a search, and I'm lovin' the results). I love Google.

Well, I checked, and I'm still the number two Meryl (after my Texas name-twin) and the number one Yourish (I already knew that, but my cousin is working hard at Newsweek to move up the list.) I am, of course, the number one Meryl Yourish, what with my not being named Jane Smith and all that. (1.5 million pages. Alas, the tragedy of having a common name.) The really weird thing is the way the pages change on the first search page of my name search. Sometimes it's one weblog, sometimes it's another. I'm sure it all has to do with the Google rankings, but it's a great big algorithmic mystery to me.

Tom Friedman weighs in on divestment from Israel

And may I say: HA-ha. Granted, I don't agree with everything in the piece, but overall, what he said.

Memo to professors and students leading the divestiture campaign: Your campaign for divestiture from Israel is deeply dishonest and hypocritical, and any university that goes along with it does not deserve the title of institution of higher learning.

You are dishonest because to single out Israel as the only party to blame for the current impasse is to perpetrate a lie. Historians can debate whether the Camp David and Clinton peace proposals for a Palestinian state were for 85, 90, or 97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza. But what is not debatable is what the proper Palestinian response should have been. It should have been to tell Israel and America that their peace proposals were the first fair offer they had ever put forth, and although they still fell short of what Palestinians feel is a just two-state solution, Palestinians were now prepared to work with Israel and America to achieve that end. The proper response was not a Palestinian intifada and 100 suicide bombers, which are what brought Ariel Sharon to power.

Thanks to Diane E. for the tip, as I stopped reading the Times some time ago.

A dry spell on a rainy night

This would be the third—no, fourth try at a post tonight. I give up. I'm going to bed. Do me a favor, write one yourself, or pretend I wrote one, or go click on the archives link and read something old, because damn, it's nearly one a.m. and I am so blocked tonight I think it's affecting all the bloggers within a 100-mile radius. I'd better go to bed before this cloud hits New York.

Good night. Wait! This just in: Carnival of the Vanities #4. Bigwig's collection of little-noticed posts, submitted by the authors. Go. Click. Read. Come back later, when I have more to say.



The sniper strikes near home

My kids were unbelievably hyper today. I can't count the number of times I had to quiet them down. I saw fairly quickly that there wasn't a whole lot I could do and tried to make the lessons as interactive as possible, like having them take turns writing or drawing on the board instead of just reading or reciting the lessons. And I let them blow off steam after music. The boys chose to have a loud, rousing chorus of the Alef Bet song, while the girls, who no longer like the song, refused when I suggested they chant, "NO!" choosing, instead, to write "NO!" on the board. (Interesting subject for a gender study there, isn't it?)

But I had no idea why they were so rowdy. They've never been as tough as they were today, and it's been more than a month of classes now. Then, after class, as I was chatting with his mother, one of my students told me that the schools in the area didn't allow recess today.

The sniper attack in northern Virginia spooked Henrico County enough not to let their children outdoors. As difficult as it seems to believe, this piece of dirt has affected how I teach my class at religious school.

There's also the fact that I'm wondering if I should gas up at my regular station, which is close to a highway and fronts a shopping center with a very large parking lot. And I'm worried about driving back to NJ for Thanksgiving, because I'd have to gas up in Maryland or northern Virginia. The topic is on the minds of everyone in the greater D.C. area. This sicko has managed to terrorize millions. I haven't felt this sort of worry since I was in high school and Son of Sam was hunting dark-haired teenaged girls.

Life is hard enough without crap like this. They have got to catch this sick, twisted scumbag. Find this bastard, try him and fry him. Please get him before he gets anyone else.

Echoes of 9/11

Tim Blair has a wrenching post on a relative of one of the victims of the Bali terrorist bombing searching for her brother:

So I'm watching the news at 5pm and suddenly, out of nowhere, start crying.

A reporter had gone to the airport to cover the arrival of survivors from Bali, and stumbled upon another story. A girl was walking around the airport with a photograph of her older brother. She'd been there for hours. She was walking up to every passenger getting off planes from Bali, and was asking if they'd seen him.

"This is my brother," she said, in an unwavering voice that was somehow also shot through with grief, and fear. And love. She held up another picture: "This is his friend. Have you seen them? They were together."

Nobody had. Nobody could help her. Her little voice was the saddest sound I've ever heard.

Just typing that, I'm crying again.

So are we, Tim.

Proof of conspiracy

The following is a transcript of a conversation I had with a person I'll only call J. No, wait, he wants to be called R. No, uh, it appears he wants to be known as "The person who might be known as J, might be R, but then again, could be J.R. who may or may not run a website about what really happens in the world." (Or maybe I never had this conversation at all, and I'm making it all up out of my head.)

Meryl: So you have absolute proof that the Bushies are doing this whole War on Terror/War on Iraq/Axis of Evil thing for their buddies in the oil business?

J.R.: Yes, and I have proof that they're also tools of the Zionist-run Illuminati organization

Meryl: Wait a second... The Illuminati is a Zionist organization?

J.R.: Every major secret organization in the world is run by Zionists.

Meryl: Really? The Masons?

J.R.: Of course. That was one of the first world Zionist organizations. Where do you think Jackie Mason got his name?

Meryl: I thought they didn't let Jews in until recently.

J.R.: That's what they wanted us to think. It was all a cover. They just pretended not to allow Jews, then when nobody was looking they'd secretly let them in.

Meryl: Uh-huh. Um, how about the Trilateral Commission?

J.R.: Are you kidding? Kissinger is on that one. International Zionist conspiracy from the get-go. Learned that one in Conspiracies 101.

Meryl: There's a class for conspiracy theorists?

J.R.: There's a college for conspiracies. But I'm not allowed to tell you what it's called, or where it is.

Meryl: Oh, so you're a UC Berkeley graduate.

J.R.: Who told you? How did you get this information?!

Meryl: I have my sources too, you know. [quickly closes laptop with SF Chronicle site displayed]

J.R.: It doesn't matter. We have other colleges.

Meryl: Yeah, SFSU. Way to distribute assets cleverly. You woudn't want to group them all in, say, one city or anything like that.

J.R.: Moving along. There's The International Order of Friendly Sons Of the Racoons.

Meryl: Uh—that's the fictional lodge Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton were members of in The Honeymooners.

J.R.: Yeah, everyone sure thinks so. That's the best of the best. Everyone knows the Illuminati are real, but nobody ever believes we've got Raccoon Brothers everywhere.

Meryl: Do they wear those stupid-looking hats?

J.R.: [adjusts shirttail to cover raccoon hat] No. That was just the TV show. What do you think, we have really bad taste in hats or something? PETA is part of the order, too.

Meryl: Are you saying that they're not really against eating animals?

J.R.: Yep. We just do that to keep up appearances. Many's the great steak dinner I've had with PETA members after one of their noisier rallies.

Meryl: Next you'll tell me Greenpeace harbors a whaling fleet.


Meryl: No one. I was just saying—

J.R.: This interview is over.

Meryl: But—

[J.R. walks out, slams door behind him.]

Meryl: Hey! Hey! You forgot your hat! Oh, well. Maybe the cats will like it.



Note to self:

Thanks to Scott Wickstein (see post immediately below this one), don't forget to revise the last eleven months' worth of archived pages with the new gif and design.

Second note to self: Try not to find a companionable Australian resident to track Scott down and murder him slowly for causing you an afternoon of work. (Psst.. Tom... got a job for you...)

Everybody's a critic

Scott—dude—you don't get to critique a bunch of weblog designs without showing your credentials.

Let's see 'em.

Mine are over here. And here.

And then I'll give you a hint about why my left-menu text bleeds over the blue. (My colors are questionable? What did they ask you? I need to know, because I've spoken to them about this before, and they promised they'd be nicer. I sense a week-long grounding coming on.)

Okay, I'll tell you about the left menu now. It's all my ex-boss's fault. I asked him for 150 pixel background gif, and he gave me 125, and I refuse to change the left menu to 125 pixels, and I also refuse to make the text smaller, and, well, I'm effing lazy. Ergo, text bleed. (Has nothing to do with margins of any sort.) And I suck at gifs, so I haven't bothered to try to make my own, and, well, I can't afford Sekimori.

You have no idea what I'm really talking about, do you?

Stacy does.

Hmph. Questionable colors. Extended margins. Asparagirl is still working the reverse-text side of the street (Hello! Brooke! Unreadable to older eyes!), and she gets a B while I get an effing C. Double hmph.

Goddamn amateurs. Think they know everything. You're on my list, Scott. I'm watching you.

Update: Due to the magic of the Internet, two of my readers sent me a 150-pixel gif. This page now looks the way it was supposed to look eleven months ago. (You see, Natalie, this is what I was talking about.) Wow, did I procrastinate that long? I'm so bad.

A heartening editorial

The publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post speaks about how his publications refuse to join the moral equivocators:

The Chicago Sun-Times clearly and proudly affirms its unambiguous faith in freedom and democracy. The Sun-Times finds no moral equivalence between soldiers who protect the innocent and suicide bombers who murder them.

We are also clear that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah-Tanzim are terrorists, not militants. Militants don't bomb campuses--terrorists bomb campuses. Militants don't explode buses--terrorists explode buses. Militants don't open fire at weddings, bar mitzvahs and Seder celebrations--terrorists do. When terrorists kill civilians in Israel, we have no problem labeling them the same as we label the al-Qaida terrorists of Sept. 11.

Through different owners and different leaders, the Chicago Sun-Times has stood tall with the State of Israel and the Weizmann Institute. This is a legacy that will never, never change.

I've been reading a few other bloggers who point out that the Sun-Times editorial page should be a daily stop on anti-idiotarians' rounds. The above is why. (Thanks to reader Danny V.)

Short takes

I got a very amusing letter from Doc Searles today. He was answering my email of July 18th, which only arrived in his mailbox today. Having worked for the Post Office in another life (back during my college days), I know that sometimes, letters really did fall down behind desks or workstations or underneath something, and lay there for months or years.

But I didn't know that email can drop into a black hole and show up nearly three months later.

It's a good thing it wasn't an urgent request, or I might have gotten annoyed that Doc never got back to me on it, without knowing that it wasn't by choice.

Autumn seems to have finally arrived. It's my fault, of course. I took the hard top off my Jeep last week, thus guaranteeing an end to the summer-like weather we've been enjoying. But last night the wind came in, and with it the cooler temperatures of fall. This morning, I let the cats out as usual, and Tig ran back inside as if he were being chased. This happened twice in five minutes. Puzzled, I looked outside and saw nothing. But then I realized—the wind is in the trees. My cat is such a chickenshit, the sound of the wind rustling leaves in trees frightened him.

Gracie, on the other hand, requires there be monsters before she runs inside. Monsters, of course, mean people other than me And yet, she faced down a dog last week, some kind of poodle/terrier mix. "He won't hurt her," said the dog's owner as I went out to my patio to see what the noise was about. Gracie was fluffed out and hissing. "She has all her claws," I told the man, who didn't seem to think that mattered. He didn't call the dog off until I told the dog to beat it. Then the dog tried to piss on my patio, and I told his owner, "Don't let that dog piss on my patio." I have subsequently been told that that was not a southern thing to do. Heidi told me that the correct Virginia response was to throw the owner a nasty look while not commenting on the dog peeing on my patio. Well. Apparently, all those years of New Jersey behavior will not easily be undone, because I don't care if I spend the next fifty years in Virginia: If your dog tries to attack my cat or pee on my patio, I'm going to tell you to get it the hell out of there.

Another day, another example of Arab hatred

The Arab Red Crescent, their branch of the Red Cross, says it will renew its opposition to allowing Magen David Adom, Israel's version of the Red Cross, into the International organization:

The Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Executive Committee has decided to renew its opposition to allowing Israel's Magen David Adom (MDA) to join the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the official Syrian News Agency SANA reported.

At a meeting in Damascus on Sunday, the group also reiterated its opposition to allowing MDA's red Star of David to be recognized as an official symbol of the international humanitarian organization.

Syrian Health Minister Iyad al-Shatti told the committee that the Star of David should not be allowed entry because it "is the symbol of aggression and slaughtering of civilians and demolishing of homes."The chairman of the Arab Red Crescent Associations, Mehdi Bannouna, said that the group would convey its "categorical rejection" of MDA to all relevant international groups.

Well. Anyone out there surprised at this? Anyone? Bueller?

The Saudis are above international law

From an Arab News article:

DUBAI, 13 October — Prince Sultan, second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, said on Friday that any UN Security Council decision on Iraq will not be binding on the Kingdom.

“We don’t have the ability to oppose the resolutions of the United Nations or the Security Council. But it’s not obligatory on us to implement what is said. We give priority to the interest of our country, then of Muslims and Arabs,” he said, speaking to reporters after visiting MBC television here.

Let's remember that the next time they bitch about Israel and UN resolutions, shall we? Or when some idiotarians starts spouting off about how the US is acting unilaterally, or in its own interests.

A blogger from Baghdad?

Well, yeah. And Diane E. has been corresponding with him.

Salam tells us that kidneys go for $250 per bean in Iraq. After the invasion, can E-Bay be far behind? Surely they will then go for more than that.

I worry about Salam, about his safety. I fear that goons will break into his house and drag him off and do unspeakable things to him. With some trepidation, I borrowed his blinking eyeball picture. I wasn't 100% sure where he was blogging from--maybe I couldn't believe it--so I asked him. I also took the liberty of inquiring whether his blogging entailed a risk.

Interesting reads—his blog and hers.

What you missed

As promised last week, I'm catching up you non-workaholics (imagine! you take off weekends!) on what you missed since you last visited.

Let's see, there was the Million Dollar Giveway, my heroic defeat of a would-be mugger, and my rescue of a kitten from a burning apartment.

Would you believe a really funny site called Yogakitty? And a memory trigger that made me think of my late, great cousin Sharon. There's also a compendium of some good blogs I found over the weekend.



Regarding terrorism and Australia

To Tim Blair and the folks at Silent Running and other Down Under bloggers: I have nothing to give to you save my deepest sympathies and my heartfelt support.

I can't think of anything else to say. I've been horrified since I read the first reports. The world is a fearful place these days.

Fun with names and CGI

Blame Hawkgirl. I knew about this before, but she's the one who gave me the idea to plug in the following names:

yasser arafat is a featureless cube that sings comical songs! It weighs anything you put on top of it and plugs into the mains.

saddam hussein is a breakfast cereal that soothes babies and crushes ice.

saab erekat is like a normal bedside table, but it changes colour.

adam shapiro is a business card! It communicates with other copies of itself!

hannan ashrawi is a rocket launcher that can help you lose weight! It affixes to any flat surface and shreds documents.

I swear this one came out verbatim: charles johnson is a web page that jumps like a frog! It knows what you want before you do and responds to temperature changes.

(Psst—Emily—you need to raise your font size a bit, or allow your readers to do it for you. It's tough to read the main blog column.)

UMich Hatefest report

Haggai's got the skinny on the UMich anti-Semitism festival masquerading as an Israel divestment conference. (There, was that a loaded enough description for you?) Glenn links to a couple of newspaper articles as well.

Get a load of this quote, from the WaPo article:

"It is perfectly scandalous that the American Jewish Committee would organize a petition about harassment of students on campus regarding Middle East issues which only mentions Jewish students as victims," said Hussein Ibish, communications director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Yes, because why on earth would the American Jewish Committee only mention Jewish students? It's not like CAIR and AAIDC only mention Muslim and Arab students, right? Their press releases are simply full of news about Jewish victims of harassment, are they not?

Effing morons. How is it that they never even hear how effing stupid they sound to anyone but themselves? Are they truly that idiotic, or do they just lose all intelligence when talking to reporters?

Well, it's late Saturday night, and I have to get to bed so I can be ready for the thing that anti-Semites hate the most: Passing on the mantle of Jewishness at my job teaching children in my synagogue's religious school. I'm doing my best to teach them to love being Jews, as well as educating them on their history, tradition, and religion.

Irony is a wonderful, wonderful thing. And may I say: I love my job. Tomorrow, we're going to cover the Covenant between God and the Jews. And then I'll play them songs from an Allan Sherman CD, because it can't be all seriousness. I think they're going to love "Harvey and Sheila."


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.