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Check out this meat

Someone who probably didn't like my International Eat an Animal for PETA day sent me a link to this piece of meat (and I do mean meat). I expect he thought I'd be disgusted.

I think it's friggin' hilarious. Thanks, Brad.

The Woodpecker War: Missive 3

The battle raged this morning at 0630. The woodpecker, unbowed by our last encounter, returned to the battlefield and commenced operations. I woke up swearing, and mapped out a course of action.

Reviewing the details of the last battle, sticks were eliminated as effective weapons of woodpecker destruction. Stones would be better. A quick recon out the front door—wait, there's a car coming, I'm out of uniform (red pj's, embarrassment level high). Okay. Look around. Lots of pine cones, no rocks. Damn. Quick recon out back door, ditto. Think. Yes, it's 6:30 a.m., and yes, you only fell asleep four hours prior, but think!

Weapon chosen: Ice cubes. Out the back door to secure the target area. Woody Effing W. is pounding away on the metal object on the roof. Missile launched. Wide of the mark, but effective nonetheless. Woodpecker flies off into trees. Sortie is successful, return to bed and dreamland, ditto.

Letters from the front

Lt. Smash has moved and posted. Below is the latest from Captain Steve. (Here's his last letter.) And I heard from the other soldier in Kuwait I correspond with, so I'm feeling a bit easier today.

Riding the Storm

Last night it was beautiful over Iraq; dark and mostly clear. Just a few thin clouds caught the pale moonlight. The stars were spectacular. The night sky here is so dark, so free (normally) of man-made light, that you can see millions of stars, stars in such profusion that you can hardly pick out constellations because the spaces between the familiar stars are filled with tiny lights you never saw before.

The darkness and the peace were short-lived. As we flew north we saw the comet-tails of jet exhausts and the flash of missiles exploding. At our northernmost orbit, we saw large fires on the horizon.

We tried to follow the incredible advance of our ground forces on our radios, but not even the most sophisticated communication suites could keep us apprised of the advance, so rapid was its progress, and so vast was its scope. Overnight American, British, and Australian Army and Marine units overran half a nation.

And speaking of radios, the nets were full of the voices of American and British airmen speaking in measured tones, gathering intelligence, giving and receiving guidance to targets, passing battle damage assessments, and requesting tankers. Nothing in their voices indicated awareness that they were participating in the greatest demonstration of firepower and determination the world has ever known. The hand of liberty was stretched across Iraq from Basra to Mosul, in the form of coalition aircraft.

It set a new record for long sorties for my crew, but when the time came to turn back toward our home away from home, we found ourselves hoping our replacement would be delayed. We were the first of our kind to cross the border, and we wanted to be the last to return. We were invested in what was happening down there, and it was hard to leave it behind.

On the bus from the ramp to the debriefing shack we listened to the news. We heard that Saddam and his sons may have been injured or killed in the first wave of cruise missiles. How amazing. What a shock that must have been to be touched so deeply on just the first night. And what a statement about our leadership, it's resolve and resourcefulness to accomplish on the first night what its predecessor failed to do for eight long years.

The news gave way slowly, almost imperceptibly, to commentary until newscaster became commentator and began complaining about the cost of the weapons we are expending and the debt we are accruing. "How," he wailed, "are we going to pay for all this when the President is asking for tax cuts?"

It's a simple fact of life that those who don't know right from wrong shouldn't dabble in economics. They could hurt themselves. If you doubt me ask the French.

And there's news about the French here. Or I shouldn't say news, as at the moment it's only barely more than rumor. But sometimes rumor carries such illicit pleasure that it cannot be suppressed, so I'll tell you what they're saying here. A crew member of mine caught a ride back to our compound with two British airmen who work in a center where some of the war planning and directing takes place. The Brits gleefully told him that the French had been escorted from the premises after being caught trying to hack our secret computer network. In what seems to be a corroborating story, someone else was told by one of the noncomms working in housing that people who'd been living in tents were finally getting moved into dorms - rooms that had previously been occupied by the French. Take it for what it's worth. Rumor? Yes, but some rumors end up being true. Even if this one doesn't, it's made a lot of people smile. Those French who are still here probably wonder what we're grinning at. (There do seem to be fewer around, but who can tell? Tonight is Steak Night at the chow hall, and that's the best time to take a French census. They come out of the woodwork on Steak Night.)

At the post office today the airman behind the counter watched the war coverage on TV and said, "I just feel bad for the civilians."

I do too. But people are ultimately responsible for the leadership they allow to remain in power. Yes Saddam is a tyrant who exercises tremendous power, but anyone willing to raise their family under his tyranny rather than revolt against it can expect to pay a price. Not recognizing duty to one's country is a gamble. You may live out your life affected only indirectly by tyranny, feeling lucky that you and yours are not the ones being tortured and murdered. Or you can get caught in the middle when that tyrant calls down judgment upon himself. Either way the deck is stacked against you.*

Or you can risk your life to stand for freedom. The Iraqi people are getting their first lesson in what it means to be an American tonight. They are learning the cost of not standing up against a government that has it backwards. My heart goes out to them. I hope they take the lesson to heart, and that a new generation of Iraqi leaders rises, accepting the responsibility of building a government based on liberty. I hope that a new generation of Iraqi people rises, holding those leaders accountable and replacing them if they fail.

That's the news from over here. So many of you write and tell us of your support, and how you pray for our clear-headedness, endurance, and safe return. It is a tremendous source of strength for us. Thank you.


*Having said that though, I have to point out that we are taking unprecedented steps to protect the lives of Iraqi civilians. To accomplish the same level of effect in World War II would have cost countless civilian lives. No military in history has taken such measures to avoid damage to non-military targets.

Celebrity snobs

Roy Scheider was just interviewed on CBS prior to the massive anti-war demonstration starting in New York City. The editors were clever; they cut to shots of the NYPD arresting protesters (already!) while Scheider spoke. Here is the line that raised my hackles, typed as I heard it, so it may not be word-perfect, but it's pretty close:

I feel that when the dust clears, the American people will become more sophisticated, and they're going to understand what this administration is up to.

He was answering a question regarding the polls that show the vast majority of Americans support the war. That's because our troops are there, he said. And then he spoke the above, which quite clearly illustrates the contempt that the anti-war protesters hold for the average American. They're too stupid to comprehend things, and they simply rally 'round the flag, because, well, they're not as smart as movie stars or anti-war protesters, I suppose. But all will be revealed if they simply listen to their betters.

This is a sentiment you see over and over again, in many areas. I experienced it as a nascent journalist-slash-legislator in college, when we members of the student organizations used to call ourselves "the Fourth Floor Elite." Student government offices were on the fourth (and top) floor of the Student Center. We believed it, too, because we were the ones running the student government, and the newspaper, and the organizations that sponsored most of the extracurricular activities. Well, and because we were children, and we were naive, and we were part of a clique.

But then I grew up, and realized that there are many, many levels of involvement in life, and it's snobbish and childish to judge people by whether or not they do what you think they should be doing.

Apparently, Scheider and his fellow protesters have yet to learn that lesson. So all of us proletariat types should listen attentively to what he and they are saying, and then we should march along with them! Workers of the world, unite! Yeah!

Overpaid schmuck.



It is a grand old flag

Excuse me while the shock wears off. Apparently, here in Richmond, which is not, I repeat, not in New Jersey, someone at City Hall is complaining about the display of the American flag.

Longtime readers of this weblog know I am far from in the habit of knee-jerk patriotism, but I am simply flabbergasted by this story. Here's the reasoning: A woman complained that displaying the flag was a statement in support of the war:

The woman who initially complained about the flag, called the NBC12 newsroom last night. She says she was upset about the timing and felt like the flag was put up as a political statement, in support of the war. She opposes the war and that's why it upset her.

You know, for a minute there, I thought I was back in New Jersey, where it's fairly common to knock the flag. But this is the south. I don't get it.

What's really at issue now is whether old glory violates the city's solicitation policy which prohibits contributions, petitions or other similar activities. The flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol now hangs in the Building and Zoning office in City Hall. Workers put it up Thursday morning only to get a memo asking that they remove by the end of the day. A couple of workers apparently complained about the flag, now the city attorney is trying to figure whether this falls under free speech.

Okay. I'm no lawyer, but let me think. City Hall, city government, American flag—it's a no-brainer. Call me crazy, but I think displaying our nation's flag in the seat of local government is, well, completely normal.

But what do I know. I'm just a transplanted northerner. Think I'll go make up a photo page full of flags and put it up later this afternoon or tomorrow.

NBC 12 Richmond: Yay you

What can I say, in the midst of all the war news, I miss my weekly Angel episode. And thanks to those of you who emailed me about the WB rerunning "Orpheus" on Sunday, but, here in this benighted, WB-less town, I wasn't supposed to get to "Orpheus" until next week. We were supposed to see "Release" Thursday morning, but it was all-war, all the time.

But a call to the NBC 12's programming department brought the cheerful news that they'll run "Release" on Thursday, then show "Orpheus" next Saturday, and we'll be back on schedule—a week behind the rest of the country—a week from Thursday.


A Bellicose Broad Brigade moment

Load 'em up, boys.

B-1 Stealth Bomber and payload



Getting your war off

The Command Post is taking up too much of my time. It's addictive. I need to post here, instead.

I also need to post something nice and normal and nonviolent. A cat post, for instance. I've got one planned for March 25th, which is an anniversary of sorts for my cats, who turned six on the 15th. I was so busy with IEAFP Day festivities, that I forgot my little carnivores have reached their mid-life crises.

Gracie had an asthma attack a few minutes ago. I'm tuned enough to it that I can hear her coughs over the television set. Whenever she has an attack, Tig runs to her from wherever he is, stands nearby, and mews. I know we tend to anthropomorphize our animals, but he sure looks concerned to me when he does that. Plus, the sounds are the same kind of chirrups he uses when he tells Gracie he wants her to go downstairs and eat with him. It's quite funny. He'll stand near her and chirrup until she finally gets up and walks (in unison, mind you) out the bedroom door, down the stairs, through the sunken living room, up the two stairs to the kitchen, and over to the food dishes. She will usually only have a bite or two at most, but Tig is content. He wanted Gracie to keep him company. The sight of the two of them walking in unison, turning in harmony, and eating side by side never fails to make me smile.

I taped Angel last night. Well, no. I taped the time and station that was supposed to carry the show. Instead, I got (sigh) more war. NBC runs the WB shows here from 1:30 to 3:30 a.m. I'm already a week behind. Now that I missed this one, I'm two weeks behind. I may have to send out a yell for help. Or get my brother to tape the WB in New Jersey and pick up the tape when I go up there for Passover.

Is it unpatriotic to wish that the morons that program my local NBC station had run their own programming at 2:35 a.m. instead of all war, all the time? Who the hell is up at 2:35 watching the news, and why did NBC 12 think that all six of them were more important than the mass of Richmond Angel fans? Bastages.

Well, at least I have the DVDs that Marduk gifted me. Think I'll start with the last two eps of Season Two of Buffy, move onto Season 3, then start the Angel Season 1 DVD. And you'll know who to blame when the posting slows.

By the way, Marduk's on a roll today. He's been having Phun with Photoshop. Check out Pat Buchanan's new nose. And then keep reading down. Don't know how he has the stomach to read that stuff. I sure don't.

Obscenity alert: I keep on stripping them out of my posts. Damn. I must be trying for that broad audience reach or something.

Oh, let's face it. Someone's going to really piss me off, and I'll throw a few choice swear words their way, and feel better for it.

All the cool kids are doing it

I found a Day By Day cartoon that nearly ruined my monitor.

Day by Day

Go, Chris.


Rachel Corrie died of stupidity and arrogance.

It's taken a few days to sink in, but then there was this article in today's Jerusalm Post. A cohort of Corrie's was struck by rubber bullets today while watching Palestinian "youths" throw stones at Israeli soldiers.

Speaking to The Associated Press by phone from a Nablus hospital, Howanietz said he was several meters (yards) away from the youths, and 25 meters (yards) from the soldiers when he was shot.

[...] Howanietz said he was not involved in violence and wore a yellow vest identifying him as a member of the International Solidarity Movement. The group has recruited dozens of foreigners, including Americans, to monitor and protest Israeli military strikes against suspected Palestinian militants.

"We were clearly visible and definitely could not be mistaken," Howanietz said of himself and four other activists standing nearby. Howanietz said no other people around him, foreigners or Palestinians, were hit.

Rachel Corrie's associates said pretty much the same about her, some going so far as to claim she had made "eye contact" with the bulldozer driver. My brother has driven heavy construction equipment since he was in his twenties, and he pointed out that it's difficult enough to see objects on the ground from the cab of a large bulldozer, but when you add the extra armor shielding that was on the IDF bulldozer that struck Corrie, eye contact is near impossible.

But that's still not the point.

Witnesses said at the time that Corrie was wearing a bright yellow vest and was in clear view.

A recurring theme. Here's the picture and caption from the Electronic Intifada. It's been thoroughly debunked, by the way. This was taken hours before Corrie was hit. Lynn B. has more on her blog.


A clearly marked Rachel Corrie, holding a megaphone, confronts an Israeli bulldozer driver attempting to demolish a Palestinian home, Rafah, Occupied Gaza, 16 March 2003.

Leaving aside her partiality towards murderers and drug runners, I maintain that Corrie died of hubris—a peculiarly American hubris. And her companion was wounded by it. Rachel Corrie didn't get out of the way of the bulldozer in time because she thought the driver would see her, realize she was an American, and stop.

There is an arrogance among all "peace activists" that seems to run in a similar vein: Their assumption is that Israelis will gleefullly shoot and kill Palestinians, but if a Westerner is among the group—particularly an American—then nothing really bad will happen—especially not to the American. The Israelis will never deliberately shoot an American. The Israelis will never deliberately run a bulldozer over a young American woman. To assume that no harm will come to you because you are an American is childish and naive.

It's part of the reason they're there: They don't really believe, deep down, that they're risking their lives. I can't read their thoughts, no. But if they didn't believe that being an American gives them an invisible shield, why do they keep repeating that they were clearly visible? That they "could not be mistaken." For what? For the native riff-raff? Their assertion of visibility sounds, well, racist.

"We were clearly visible and definitely could not be mistaken."

These are not the words of someone who thinks he is risking life and limb. These are the words of a child expecting his substitute parent—American citizenry—to keep him safe, even in a war zone.

Of course, he's partly right. Israelis do not deliberately harm innocents, and the last thing they want is a PR nightmare of the kind that came with Corrie's death. But here's the thing that the "activists" don't understand: Being an American does not guarantee you that misfortune will not strike. Being an American does not guarantee you that a bullet meant for someone else might not hit you. Being an American does not guarantee your safety.

And most of all, being an American doesn't mean that you are automatically noticed. Being "clearly visible" doesn't mean that you are seen. Being an American does not mean that you are immune from harm.

"We were clearly visible and definitely could not be mistaken," Howanietz said of himself and four other activists standing nearby. Howanietz said no other people around him, foreigners or Palestinians, were hit.

Perhaps someone should have informed the bullets of that fact. The ones that were bought at the "Guaranteed to never accidentally hit Americans!" store. Let me rewrite Howanietz's sentence with its real meaning:

"We're Americans! We're fucking Americans! They can't shoot us! We're Americans! We don't look anything at all like Arabs. How could they not notice we're Americans? They can't shoot Americans! Look, I'm wearing a vest that practically screams 'American'! I'm allowed to stand in dangerous places and not suffer any consequences for my actions!"

That last is the reason I call it hubris. These children go into war zones, expose themselves to danger, and then can't understand why harm comes to them. They were clearly visible. They were clearly marked. They could not be mistaken for natives. (Of course the subtext in that line by Howanietz is that the IDF was gunning for him, but its patent arrogance—and racism—should not be overlooked.)

There has been a firestorm of debate over Rachel Corrie's death—and life. I think she was young and foolish. There's a photo of her going around that was taken while she was at The Burning Man. It's one of the last remnants of the sixties counterculture. It speaks volumes, in my opinion, of her mindset. This diary of another member of the same organization illustrates clearly how much growing up they need to do. And Corrie's defense of terrorists was abhorrent to me.

Still, her death was tragic and pointless and stupid. But there's one more thing that I haven't read about anywhere. Does anyone truly believe that the bulldozer driver isn't horrified over what he did? Is there anyone who truly believes this man is sleeping peacefully right now? Put yourself in his place. His job was to knock down a building. He killed a woman. Not a terrorist, not someone who was shooting at him—a young girl who was trying to stop him, that he didn't see, and accidentally crushed beneath his bulldozer. Those of you that think he deliberately drove over Rachel Corrie are simply twisted, and we have nothing to say to one another.

I'm sorry Rachel Corrie is dead. But if her companions don't figure out that being American doesn't give you an invisible, impenetrable shield in war zones, more deaths will follow. And judging from what Howanietz said after taking three rubber bullets, they're not about to change their way of thinking. Get the body bags ready.

The warbloggers' Corner

Michele started a group blog, The Command Post. It's fashioned after National Review's The Corner, except we don't need to be taught how to do it. I've joined, but Blogger's a bit overloaded today, so my post has yet to show. Check it out.

A typical anti-war, anti-American Euro argument

Received this letter today from someone in Switzerland:

They are all the same: Napoléon-Hitler-Stalin-Bush. They want to dominate the world in order to introduce their ideologies: Revolution, National socialism, Communism, Democracy of US fashion. For this they are willing to kill innocent people and to destroy mankind's archeological treasures. They have been and are all criminals. What can we do? At least boycott US products and services worldwide: McDonals, Coca-Cola, Air-companies, etc. Send this mail to all your friends and business partners so that we can reach a maximum of people! We do not need war, we need peace!

I'd fisk it, but, well, it's already fisked itself. If this is the best intellectual argument they can offer, we're better off heading over to Mac's place for the latest adventures of Captain Euro. At least Mac is deliberately funny. (This is one of the best Captain Euro adventures ever. Don't miss it.)

News from the front

Captain Steve sent another email from Saudi Arabia.

The Storm is Here

We landed early this morning after our longest sortie to date. I was so tired I felt completely disconnected from my feet.

They seemed to flop themselves ahead of me somewhat reliably, so I let them do whatever they wanted. They led me to the chow hall. My crewmates and I were halfway through our scrambled eggs when we heard that the President was going to speak. We finished what we could and hurried to the day room where we heard the words we've been awaiting so eagerly.

The President announced that he had ordered us to begin the job we came here for. While the words were no suprise, it wasn't as we'd imagined. Somehow we all had the impression that we would find out after the fact - maybe it's a holdover from a stateside mindset. We all thought we'd wake up in the morning to hear the cruise missiles had flown while we were sleeping. But for my crew the announcement came only to put an official name to what we had been witnessing all night from our vantage point in the air.

We'd had our suspicions. Everyone knew we were getting close. We're carrying our kevlar helmets and gas masks now, and two days ago they changed the screen that greets us when we log on to these computers. The familiar admonition to inspect our gas masks became a reminder of the provisions the Code of Conduct - the code that guides the actions of American prisoners of war. I'm not sure which is more sobering.

So we knew it was coming, but before our mission briefing last night they told us to sanitize our uniforms - remove all identifying patches, wedding bands, photographs and personal information. When they told us that, we knew the time had come. On the bus that carries us to the jet a crewmate asked if anyone would mind if he said a prayer. The idea was welcomed, and he led us in asking God for a quick victory, for safety, and for His protection of our brothers who would be committed to battle on the ground. And then we stepped to the jet.

And while it was the longest sortie we've had together, it went by faster than any I have flown. From launch until mission complete we were at it without pause. I remember looking up from my console to see our pilot walking down the aisle, passing out bottled water and Cokes to anyone who needed them. That's the way we work. The Aircraft Commander is content to play flight attendant (while the copilot has the jet) if it helps us do the job, and everyone else is the same way. When we get busy the delineation of tasks becomes fluid. We back each other up without a second thought. The concept of "his job, my job" does not exist. As we bent together under the same task we experienced what few people ever will - and for this I will always be grateful to the Air Force - we reached a point where we achieved as a team far more than anyone could expect this assortment of individuals to achieve.

Different management seminars and self-help books will call it different things - synergy, camaraderie, esprit de corps. I don't know how to name it, but I can pinpoint its source. The thing that enables us to accomplish so much together is love. Love of our crew, of the men who would soon be fighting on the ground, love of our families and love of America. I can't say that's what motivates a professional ball team or a sales group. I can only speak for what happened to us last night, and I can tell you for that long - and short - moment we were happy to be working so hard, happy to be there, with all the sacrifices that entails, happy for the chance to give of ourselves for something larger and more important than we are. If that's not love I don't know what is.

There's an advantage to writing something like this after twenty-some hours without sleep. I can claim this as just an emotional moment - the result of sleep deprivation or stress. But I don't think I will. I may wake up tomorrow (or tonight or whenever our changing schedule dictates) and wish I hadn't given up quite so many of my personal thoughts, but that won't change my having thought them. And if I can't allow myself a little leeway now, when can I?

I hope you don't mind.

As always, thank you all for your prayers and support. So many of you have sent me emails that I have shared with my crew, and you'll probably never know how much you've buoyed our spirits.

Tell your crew that last night, at a Bingo hall in Richmond, a woman brought a tiny Watchman so she could know if the war began while she was out. I chatted with an elderly woman who said she'd be praying for a swift end to the war and the safety of our soldiers. So am I, Steve.

Talking's done. War's begun.

In the Esther Forbes novel, Johnny Tremain, the phrase was "School's done. War's begun."

I haven't much to say, other than I hope and pray that it ends quickly, and with as few deaths as possible. Because people will die. Iraqis will die. Americans, Brits, and Australians may—no, probably will—die. Lt. Smash could be a casualty. We don't know.

The uncertainty haunts me day and night, and I have no immediate family serving. I can only imagine what it's like for those who do, and for those in the Armed Forces who are here, but whose friends are over there.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours. Come home safe.



Once more, with feeling: My readers rule

Robert M. sent me a letter about Woody Effing Woodpecker:

Woodpeckers hammer on metal to try to attract female woodpeckers. He isn't stupid enough to think he'll get bugs out of the siding. In other words, he'll go away in a couple of months. I know, a very loud, annoying couple of months. As for shooting him, Federal migratory bird laws ban shooting woodpeckers, along with most other non-game species, unless they create an economic nuisance. (In the case of Woody here, if he actually was damaging the building.)

Hm. That's a vote against shooting him, plus, well, if it's illegal, I think I won't try to track down a BB gun after all. And Robert sent me to a page of woodpecker control information, including tips on scaring Woody away. Hm. It doesn't say I can't whale rocks at him, so I'm reserving the option of scaring him that way. Then again, I might break a window in my apartment. Hm.

All news, all the time

One of the things I miss the most about living in New Jersey was the NY Metro area's constant availability of news. There were three all-news stations and plenty more that had news blurbs regularly enough that at just about any minute of the hour, I could get the latest news on my car radio. Here in Richmond, their idea of breaking news is pulling over to let an emergency vehicle pass. "Look at that. Must be somethin' goin' on." "Yeah."

Tonight I was working Bingo for my synagogue (smell like smoke—sigh), and when I got out, I switched on the AM radio to one of the talk radio stations, figuring if it had switched over to the network, something was happening. I tried tuning up the dial and went across 1010, and got 1010 WINS, New York. Clearly. At 8:59, so I know it's 35 degrees in New York, and you want to stay on the lower level of the GWB, and Tel Aviv Limo is still hiring drivers. Plus I heard the news.

Big heavy sigh of contentment. My brother says it has something to do with the earth's position, and that I can expect to get WINS regularly. That'd be nice. Now if only my kosher butcher shop opened a branch here in Richmond, I'd be content.

Thanks, I needed that.

Damelon sent an email that brightened my afternoon:

Eat a woodpecker for PETA day - II
This time it's personal

Thanks, Damelon.

While we're doing funny, check out Terry's fisking of, well, a really stupid anti-war protester. The story itself is funny enough, but Terry makes it a rib-cracker.

Woody Effing Woodpecker

Walter Lantz must have gotten his inspiration from the same kind of events that I've had lately.

There's a woodpecker in my neighborhood. It's been around for weeks; I saw it digging for bugs in the dirt behind my building. Oh, how cute, I remember thinking. Well, Woody Effing Woodpecker ceased being cute last week, when he decided to search for insects on the roof of my building. Early in the morning. Every morning.

It gets worse.

The noise, which sounds rather like someone is operating a jackhammer above my bed, insinuates itself into my dreams, waking me up only enough to realize that there's a woodpecker on my building somewhere. This morning, it went on for an hour. It made me wonder if it was a woodpecker, or some strange, noisy toy the neighbor's toddler was playing with. After listening in various spots around the apartment, I went outside and saw W. Effing W. on the roof. Not pecking the shingling, no, that would be too easy. He was pecking the metal hood that covers the chimney for the heating unit. The effing metal hood. The effing metal hood!

He saw me, and vacated the roof just as the stick I threw at him landed. (Missed by a mile; it wasn't heavy enough.) He went to peck on another apartment's metal hood. I would have gone for a BB gun if only I had one. I'm thinking of buying one and taking Woody out myself, but maybe I can just wing him with a rock and let my cats take care of the rest. I expect if I called maintenance and asked them to shoot the woodpecker that wakes me up every morning, they might not want to renew my lease. Then again, this is Virginia. Maybe they get complaints like that all the time.

What will happen next

Read Wind Rider's post on the upcoming battle. Here's a teaser:

What is coming will be so completely unlike anything else before seen in the history of warfare, that even those that have been taking careful note of the various pieces and parts assembling are likely to be absolutely awed. We saw some teasers last year in Afghanistan, however, there was nothing about that conflict that called for or was able to involve the complete engagement of the combined arms might and multiple disciplines available for waging large scale combat available to the US military today.

While I'm at it, let's go linking around.

Carnival of the Vanities is up. If Blogspot is blooey, try the main page.

Mac Thomason put up his menu from Saturday (IEAPD).

Chas Rich found the Belgians even more obnoxious than I did, and is quoting them directly, too.

Janis Gore has a cautionary tale for vegetarians.

Lesley's taking a poll: What color should the next threat level color be? (Click on the link to main, she's always got good things to read.)

Angie Schulz: I promised I'd link her more often if she gave me a different color scheme, and so she did. (Click on the "Are you afraid of the dark?" link on the left menu.)

Sgt. Stryker has a couple of posts in response to Salam Pax's rant against the war. I'm not weighing in yet, just pointing 'em out.

Keep an eye on Rantburg for some excellent information.

Via Lynn, Beth's cats are pro-war.

I lost the letter, but remembered the new site: Canadian skeptics. Go, Canada! John Edward is a fraud. (I know some people can't reconcile the fact that I agree with skeptics about "psychic phenomena" and yet still believe in God, buy hey, belief requires faith, not proof. There's a huge difference.)

Diane appears to be a bit down. Send her jokes in email to cheer her up.

Bigwig is annoying the wife again.

Gil is going to shave his beard. The gas mask won't fit as snugly with it. (Stay safe, Gil, Imshin, Tal. Stay safe, Salam. Stay safe, Lt. Smash, Capt. Steve, the blogger whom I can't name who is blogging from Kuwait. Stay safe all of you.)

I'd almost forgotten about Ribbity. (Sorry!) Then I came across a comment by him, which led me to his site, which brought me this bon mot:

One of the most disliked, arrogant, self-righteous British politicians, Robin Cook, has resigned from the British cabinet over the war in Iraq. Some of Cook's charming activities can be found here. With Claire Short also threatening to resign, so far the Iraqi war seems to be having fantastic effects.

Don't miss this post, which displays Ribbity's serious side. Stay safe, Ribbity, Mrs. Frog, and the tadpoles.

Dashing through Anil

Oh, Anil. You took another swing at me, and it's just as fun and fact-filled as the last time the two of us crossed words. Really. One would think you'd learn to tell the truth when talking at me, but then, one also thinks that you would learn to distinguish a right-winger from, oh, me.

One more time: Centrist, leaning left on some issues (progressive taxation, affirmative action, women's rights you effing moron, pro-choice), and right on others (the war on terror, Iraq, Israel and the Middle East, the death penalty in many cases).

I think the real reason Anil got into such a snit is because I didn't respond to or publish his email. Let's do something about that now, and maybe the hissy fit will cease. The letter says:

Now that you had "Eat an Animal for PETA" day, can we go after Rush Limbaugh?

[weary sigh] Why would we do that, Anil?

Given that he's consistently referred to people who want equal pay for equal work by women as "feminazis", which would equate rich, thoughtless business owners with Holocaust victims, wouldn't it be appropriate to target him next?

This is wrong in so many different ways I can barely begin. First of all, you get no argument from me about Rush's use of the term "feminazi." I hate it. I call people on it on any comments thread where it is used. In point of fact, I said as much last year when Amptoons brought up the subject. Why I have no intention of making it my next campaign: Let me count the ways. I have no use for Rush Limbaugh. I happen to agree with Al Franken about him. I don't listen to his show, nor discuss him on my weblog. In nearly two years of blogging, I mentioned him in only three separate blogs: Week 16, Week 25, and the one above. Go look 'em up yourself, it's pre-permalinks and I don't care to make new ones.

As for why it in no way comes near the offensiveness of PETA, well, gee, let's see. PETA compares the suffering of Jews in concentration camps to the raising of chickens and cows on factory farms. PETA lies to the U.S. Holocaust Museum to get permission to use their photographs in an anti-meat campaign. No relatives of Holocaust survivors have yet written to me about Rush Limbaugh. A letter from a survivor's child started my anti-PETA campaign. Are you getting it yet, Anil, or need I go on?

Just brainstorming for ya... and wondering if you'd get the same amount of support from others in your weblogging community.

No, you're just putting your fingers in your ears and sticking your tongue out at me. If you were truly brainstorming, there would be some firing of neurons involved. And those neurons would have set off a mental process that might even have gotten you to remember that I'm not a "right-wing political blogger." Nor am I a "lying fucking hypocrite." Understand, Anil, that I stand by everything I write. Everything. And I rarely write anything as hyperbolic and childish as this (from his website, not the letter):

In just one more display of what a bunch of lying fucking hypocrites right-wing political bloggers are, they all got in a twitter about PETA equating food animals with Holocaust victims, but they've been egging-on Rush Limbaugh's use of "feminazis" for more than a decade. It's inarguable that PETA's been totally marginalized into a haven for nutcases by having been hijacked by extremists, but if you consider animals and humans morally equivalent, then the slaughter of millions seems like a fair comparison to make. On the other hand, if you think, as most feminists do, that a woman should get equal pay for equal work, then it hardly seems as if business owners who disagree are the same as people who were marched off by the trainload to be slaughtered. In short, warbloggers, learn this lesson: misogynist millionaire entrepreneurs are not equivalent to the jews, gypsies, and homosexuals who were murdered by the million, and the many women I care about who are trying to protect a woman's right to choose are not equivalent to those who ran the gas chambers.

If anyone can figure out this part:

misogynist millionaire entrepreneurs are not equivalent to the jews, gypsies, and homosexuals who were murdered by the million, and the many women I care about who are trying to protect a woman's right to choose are not equivalent to those who ran the gas chambers.

please let me know, because I'm still scratching my head at that one. He continues:

I don't understand why I need to explain any of these things.

Um—because you make no sense?

And of course, Anil uses this as a throwaway line, thus assuring us that he thinks PETA's campaign really wasn't all that bad, if only you look at it from their point of view. The wonders of moral equivalence raise their ugly head yet again.

if you consider animals and humans morally equivalent, then the slaughter of millions seems like a fair comparison to make

Ah. The Nazi Holocaust and chicken farms. That's a "fair comparison," but our indifference to the agonies of Rush's female victims who were called a nasty name exposes us as "a bunch of lying fucking hypocrites." You've got us there, Anil. We might as well all hang up our keyboards and go home.

At the risk of offending many of my newfound readers, who may already be offended that I loathe Rush Limbaugh, let me be brutally honest here: Yes, I know that many of the bloggers who hopped on the anti-PETA bandwagon hold views that I don't like or agree with. I don't care. I happen to believe that people have the right to their opinions, even when they diverge from mine. Emperor Misha and I have widely different opinions on most subjects. But I'll link to him when something he says strikes me as interesting or funny. It's called being open-minded. Something that the left seems not to have, along with that missing sense of humor, hey, Anil?

Although I received a lot of support from the right side of the aisle, I also had support from the left, who agreed that the PETA campaign went too far and deserved to be ridiculed and excoriated. In fact, even vegetarians joined the International Eat an Animal for PETA day. They ate dairy products. Astonishing, isn't it? Even vegetarians were offended by PETA's campaign.

You really do need to go home and grow a little, Anil. Or at the very least, take some deep breaths and count to ten next time you read my website. It seems to affect you so—violently.



Neocons and conspiracies

Nick Denton is on the case of America's grand Jewish neocon conspiracy. He thinks Buchanan was mostly right. I think a lot of things about Denton, but hey, Gary's on him. Judith's on him for the second time. Jonah's on him.

Funny, he insults all the bloggers but Max—that couldn't be because only Max holds similar political beliefs, could it? But then, he's not insulting the other professional journalist on the list, either. You don't think it's a class thing, do you? No, no, I can't believe that. Nick is far bigger than that. And so am I, Dick. I mean, Nick.

I read Denton's posts, Buchanan's article, and Goldberg's response to it. The neocon argument? It's obvious to me that it's a canard wrapped in an insinuation wrapped in an accusation, but what the hey—I'll put in my two cents on it once more. But I see no reason to come up with a fact-filled essay. Denton is ignoring the facts being brought up and simply flinging a little more bullshit at the fan to see what sticks.

Here's my entry in the latest fling-fest. You can find the lyrics and music here (a very tacky version, alas for the end of Napster). My favorite was sung by Sammy Davis Jr., a man we could call one of our own (he converted). A Jewish African-American, yuppers. And a world-class entertainer. The song: "What Kind of Fool Am I?" from the Broadway play, "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off."

What kind of Jew are you?
Are you a neocon?
It seems there are so many now
That Pat has been writing of
What kind of pack is this?
War with Iraq,
It's such a shock,
Those Jews, I think they're on my block!

What kind of Yid are you?
What do you know of war?
Why can't you say out loud
The things we know
And say them proud?
We know you run the show
You've done it all before
You've caused so many wars
What kind of Jew are you?

What kind of neos are these?
That influence the Chief
That whisper many words of war
They must be Jewish, you say
But if they weren't Jews
We'd say it's so
So you would know
The world is run by Jews today

Always evolving

NZ Bear sent me an email about this, and I just took it in stride and sent back, "Yeah, I know, I saw." Except it hadn't really registered. His ecosystem is back, new and improved (now including all the major lefty blogs!). Of course I track the popularity of my weblog; anyone who says he doesn't is lying. If ego were uninvolved, bloggers would be writing in private journals that no one else would read.

But all this babbling is leading up to this: I have evolved into a Mortal Human. I'm in the twentieth spot, just below Tim Blair, who really isn't a mortal human, if you ask me. He's far too funny for that. I have no idea who I displaced but, well, dem's da breaks. I expect my newfound evolutionary state is far more precarious than it would appear, and may well fall back to a mere Playful Primate by the next scan. But in the meantime, I have bragging rights.


This is what I meant

One of my readers sent me a link to this website, which reprints the Reuters news piece about the upcoming Mel Gibson film on the last hours of Christ.

The Jew-bashing I spoke of has already begun.

Let us remind our readers and the good Rabbi that while Vatican II did in fact deal with the issue of the Jews and their involvement with Our Lord's death, the pastoral acts of the Church's most recent council must be viewed in the light of Tradition -- as our reigning Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II has stated. Thus whatever Vatican II decreed can in no way contradict what has come down to us via traditional Catholic teaching on this particular subject (or indeed, any other subject). Our own Father Leonard Feeney succinctly identified the true perpetrators of this crime with his very pointed questions to Liberal and Modernist Catholics who were, even at Father's time, trying to lay the blame for the crucifixion at the feet of the Romans.

Here are Father's comments, as recorded in the July 1954 issue of The Point:

Was it the Romans who came out to seize Him in the Garden of Olives with swords and clubs on the night of His Passion, and who brought Him bound to the High Priest, and then to Pontius Pilate, demanding that He should be killed?

Was it a Roman who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, and was it to Romans He was sold for thirty pieces of silver?

Was the High Priest a Roman, who rent his garments and accused Our Lord of blasphemy when He declared Himself to be the Eternal Son of God?

Was it a Roman crowd which stood before the tribunal of Pontius Pilate and shouted: "If this man were not a malefactor we would not have handed Him over to you...His blood be upon us and upon our children!"

Was it the Romans who disowned Jesus as the King of the Jews, and did not want the inscription placed over His on the Cross when He hung, crowned with thorns, and with nails in His hands and His feet?

Was it God's judgment in Heaven that the Romans had killed Christ, and was that why the Power of the Almighty some thirty years later razed the Temple of Jerusalem to the ground, and left not a stone upon a stone, and has never allowed it to be rebuilt from that day to this?

In the prayers of the (old Latin) Mass for Good Friday of Holy Week, the priest refers to the "perfidious Jews" as the ones who betrayed and crucified Christ. Should he be saying the "perfidious Romans"? And has it been wrong for the Church to put it the first way for as long as her history?

When Our Lord hung upon the Cross His first reported words were, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Do the Liberal Catholics really think Our Lord was referring to the Jews when He said, "They know not what they do"? Was it the Jewish Chief Priests, the Scribes and the Ancients, with whom He sat daily teaching in the Temple and who, when He was crucified, wagged their heads and mocked Him and shouted: "He saved others; himself He cannot save" -- was it these who knew not what they did, and whom Our Lord asked the Father to forgive?

Saint Luke tells us clearly that Jesus said this of the Roman soldiers who "dividing his garments, cast lots." And Saint Matthew tells us that these same Romans, after Jesus expired on the Cross, cried out in one voice with their Centurion, "Indeed, this was the Son of God."

Nope, that film isn't going to stir up any anti-Jewish action. Not at all. Why, we should wait for it to come out before judging what might come out of the film. Clearly, that sentence that I emphasized above points out that Catholics have ceased to blame the Jews for Christ's death and, indeed, have learned to respect the Jews as such and no longer blame those of us now alive for the events of two millennia ago. Nope. No calls of "Christ-killer" here. Move along. Nothing to see.

All sarcasm aside: Susanna, this is exactly what I was talking about. That one sentence alone clearly puts the Jews completely outside of Christ's forgiveness in this priest's interpretation of that line, and puts the entire responsibility for the crucifixion on them. Granted, it's from 1954, but—it's being quoted today. The author of these comments call Jews "the perpetrators of this crime."

There's more than enough Jew-hatred to go around. Mel Gibson's film is merely going to add to it. All in the name of "telling the truth." Their version of it, anyway.

And so it begins

Seven Iraqis have filed suit against former President George H.W. Bush. Where? In Belgium, of course, the little nation that thinks it could.

SEVEN Iraqi families have filed a lawsuit against former US president George Bush, father of the current president, and three other US leaders for alleged crimes during the first Gulf War in 1991, a lawmaker said.

The lawsuit cites Bush senior, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired US Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led operation Desert Storm against Baghdad, said deputy Patrick Moriau.

Cheney was US defence secretary at the time of the first Gulf War, while Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The action was brought under Belgium's universal competence law, which allows legal proceedings against people accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, regardless of their nationality or location.

The families who brought the action are either victims or relatives of victims of a US bombing of a civilian shelter in Baghdad that killed 403 people in February 1991, Moriau said.

What the article does not say is that this is yet another propaganda shot from Saddam Hussein. I have many questions about this, not least of which is: Who died and left Belgium king of the world?

Looks like it's not only Ariel Sharon who can't travel to Brussels anymore.

Celebrity mouthpieces

Apparently, even the LA Times has an idea of how stupid celebrity anti-war activism can be. Next to a commentary piece by Martin Sheen. Let us compare and contrast. First, Sheen:

It is the obligation of all citizens to participate in the affairs of state. Whether we support or criticize actions taken in our name, we need to lend voice to our findings. When done respectfully, sincerely and soberly, this can be a profound act of patriotism.

One need not be a scholar of international law to know that war at this time and in this place is unwelcome, unwise and simply wrong.

And although my opinion is not any more valuable or relevant merely because I am an actor, that fact does not render it unimportant. Some have suggested otherwise, trying to denigrate the validity of this opinion and those of my colleagues solely due to our celebrity status. This is insulting not only to us but to other people of conscience who love their country enough to risk its wrath by going against the grain of powerful government policy.

Activism by celebrities does carry added responsibilities. Statements, demonstrations and marches that include public figures undoubtedly receive a measure of press, providing access to a stage that others often cannot reach. As a result, we are often called to give voice to the voiceless and a presence to the marginalized.

Whether celebrity or diplomat, cabdriver or student, all deserve a turn at the podium. In speaking the truth as we know it, my friends and I have stood proxy for all those yet to join this great public debate. We urge their participation and welcome them to the fray, for in the end, this is not about us but is truly about the matter of life and death.

Next, an Iraqi refugee:

My father went into hiding to escape execution. My mother had no idea whether he was dead or alive. She knew that if Hussein's security forces could not find him, they would come after her children, and we would be imprisoned and tortured to lure my father out of hiding. When they took away my 18-year-old cousin, my mother decided we had to leave. We set off on a long journey, moving to new safe houses every night, until we finally reached the Rafha refugee camp in Saudi Arabia. The camp embodied all the indifference and cruelty with which Arab dictatorships treat their people. We stayed there for nearly two years. We were lucky.

Eventually, my father found his way to the same camp and we were blessed to receive refugee status in the United States on Sept. 17, 1992. My family celebrates this date as our new birthday, the day that we were able to begin our lives as full human beings, with dignity and hope. Growing up in the United States, I often thought about the people we left behind. We lost three relatives. My best friend's father, an army general, was executed for unknown reasons. I have friends who have lost 50 relatives.

Like many others, I am dedicated to ending the suffering of the Iraqi people. They are prisoners in their own land and they yearn for freedom and the simple things that we take for granted -- democracy, freedom of speech, the right to vote. America is their model for the future of Iraq, if only America and the world would help them build it.

I am an American now, and I have been educated to respect the right to free expression by any citizen, a right no member of my family enjoyed when we lived in Iraq. I know from personal experience that the Hollywood actors who decry action against Hussein are really opposing the liberation of the Iraqi people. I wish they would praise the American troops in the field or just stay silent.

Via Dumb Celebs, a website that raises your blood pressure or makes you laugh.

I wonder who wrote Sheen's op-ed.



Purim celebrations

I was going to put up some pictures from tonight's Purim service, but I'm still tired from Saturday. In fact, if I haven't answered your email, it's because I'm still tired from Saturday. If I said I'd do something for you and I didn't, it's because I'm still tired from Saturday. And if I said I'd link to you and didn't, I forgot because I'm still tired from Saturday.

I think I'm going to have to plan these things for Friday nights while I'm teaching. 7:15 comes all too soon when you don't get to sleep before two.

But I really enjoyed the service. Half the kids from my class were there, and a lot of the kids from the other grades, of course. I think I got the biggest kick out of hearing how incredulous one of the seventh grader's was that I liked her younger brother. He's not in my grade, but I interact with most of the kids during music and t'filah, as well as whenever their appearance coincides with mine at services. Joseph G. is one of my favorites, to his sister's chagrin. Well, okay, I didn't care that much for my younger brother when I was a teenager, but I got over it. She will, too.

The place was packed. It got so loud a lot of the younger kids left the sanctuary because it was too noisy for them. But it was a lot of fun.

And yup, we booed Haman loud and long, groggers (noisemakers) wielded cheerfully. Here's hoping the modern-day Haman, Saddam Hussein, falls quickly and easily.

More menus

Bigwig had veal. Dodd had antelope. It was his birthday. (Today is Mac's birthday. No menu posted.) Lynn B. had lots of critters. (She's promised me a nice steak dinner when I finally make it to her town for a visit.)

I also received some letters from vegetarians and other people unhappy with my anti-PETA campaign. More on those later, perhaps. One of them is too long to do more than excerpt. Here's some:

Eat an animal day. Where did you come up with that? What should I do, go out and actually kill an animal? What animal should I kill and eat? Can it be a dog or cat? Or should I just do what the millions of Americans do every day? Go to McDonalds or the store and get that stuff all wrapped up nice and neat in plastic. I'm sure you'll have lots of support for your foolish solution to your defensive attitude. But what are you changing? Don't you know that it's Eat an Animal day every day here in America? I would listen to what you had to say, if you really tried to tell me why I should eat animals for a day. Why don't you tell me and others why we should eat animals for a day? Is it just to frustrate people who feel saddened to see life suffer? Are people who don't eat animals for a day going to Hell?

No, but people who send me letters without reading my website are going to Hell. God told me so, just last night. Especially when I have "The Eat an Animal for PETA day posting starts here" plastered on my main page and the last two weeks of archives. I suppose it's too much trouble to actually read the reasoning behind the campaign. Much more fun to write long, whiny letters that include things like

Will you be gathering with your family, your children, grandchildren to slaughter an animal? Is that what I should do? I'll make my 2 year old niece cut the throat. Is that right?

Are you just mad because PETA used the word Holocaust? I can understand a little why you are upset. But please understand that it's not an insult to any-one who has had to endure any of the Holocausts that have happened in the world.

I imagine that "John Smith" will also understand why I think he's an idiot, but you never can tell with idiots. Write on, John, my readers could use more amusement in their lives.

Truthfully every time I see a animal hauler with the Pig/Cows crammed in like sardines or when some-one says Animals or put here only to eat, the first thing that comes to my mind is The Nazis' Holocaust.

Uh-huh. [Backing away slowly]

Please don't get angry I'm not trying to make you angry, although you seem to have no respect for my feelings I do care about yours. I don't want anyone to be upset and frustrated, it's a horrible feeling, I know because I spend most of my day that way.

[Backing away faster]

What really changed me was a woman on TV picking out her live Turkey for Thanks-giving. They asked if she wanted to kill the Turkey, she said oh no way, I could never do that, you do it she said, and I don't want to see it. It just hit me how out of control and irresponsible we are with life. Haven't eaten an animal since then. I also thought of my dog and how close I was to her, she was my best friend, I never could have eaten her. What makes a cow or pig any different?

Well, there's the fact that cows and pigs are food animals and dogs are pets and working animals, eaten only in Asian countries, but hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good analogy?

Let's read some more. With commentary by me, of course.

Wow just read what you wrote again. (At last, the words sink in!) Just because they use the word HOLOCAUST, you’re going to get immature and defensive. (I take that back.) What, is that your word now? (Nope, PETA used it in their campaign. You know, the one called "The Holocaust on your plate"?) You do know that you’re not that Jewish people aren’t the only people that have had to suffer something so horrible. (Never said we were.) I can't believe your going to use somebodys' horrible experiences just to lash out at PETA. (You mean like PETA is using someone else's horrible experiences to lash out at eating meat?) Shouldn't you be putting efforts in to making sure that it never happens again? (Gee, I should, like, write a weblog that features a lot of posts on anti-Semitism or something.) It's happening all over the world right now, (Yeah, I know. I read this weblog by some woman named Yourish that features a lot of posts about anti-Semitism or something.) and you're putting all your efforts into making sure people eat meat today. (That was so far from "all my efforts" that I would actually only call it "taking up some of my time.") You should be ashamed. (I'm not.) Do something positive. (I did.) Like you wouldn't have eaten an animal anyway. (I don't eat meat every day.) You have helped me see how ridiculous and ignorant most people are (Back atcha, bub) and I defiantly will be supporting PETA (to go boldly where no one has gone... oh, sorry) even more now, so thanks for that. (Dude! You are so welcome! Like, wanna come over to my house and get stoned or something?)

But wait. There's more. (I told you it was long.)

Why would you want to insult me and make me feel hopeless? (Because I am just a mean, spiteful bitch.) Why are you so defensive? (I was going to ask you the same thing.) Ask PETA why they think the way they do. (Okay. PETA, why do you think the way you do?) Just like I would really like to know why I should EAT AN ANIMAL TODAY? (Once again, review the posts on the weblog. I explained it here, too.) You should really try to understand where I and other animal right activist are coming from. (I have a pretty good idea, and I won't be visiting anytime soon.) Have a good day and someday I hope all people can talk to one another about their differences, not lash out at them. (Good advice. But you didn't follow it yourself. Why is that, I wonder?

Ah, logic and intelligent discourse. Gotta love it.

A Purim story

Over at Imshin's, an amazing and uplifting story of Purim in Dachau. (Blogspot is tricky today, scroll down if you can't find it at first.) It's also on this site .

Also at Imshin's, something that doesn't seem to register on those peace protesters:

Last night I packed evacuation bags for us all, according to the Home Front Command booklet (Do I really have to link to this again?). It felt very much the same as planning our divorce all those years ago. Trying to visualize the worst so as to be prepared, hoping the preparations would not have to be utilized.

My mother’s illness and death have taught me you can’t ever really prepare for the worst.

I spent most of the evening searching, unsuccessfully, for Bish’s inoculation booklet. Do you think I’m being a bit obsessive?

Bish prepared the "security room" with plastic sheeting for sealing (It's quite an old building by Israeli standards - today built-in sealing is part of the requirements).

What other nation in the world requires a built-in sealed room in the building codes for new structures? What other nation needs them?

I think that I will, after all, go celebrate Purim at my synagogue tonight, and roll a noisemaker and boo every time Haman's name is mentioned, and be thankful for the destruction of another hateful man who would have destroyed Jews for being Jews. Imshin, here's hoping you don't have to use the sealed room. Ever.

Wish granted

Federal Express delivered a package this morning. It turned out to be nearly the entire contents of my wishlist. This is on top of receiving the Follies CD last week. And the generous person behind it all?

Marduk of Babylonian Musings.

This is a mensch. Not only is he lambasting anti-Semites like Mikey Rivero and his buddies (check out the "Protocolos de los Sabios de Sion" post, it's a howler), but he finds time to shower me with presents. Bill, you might have a rival here for your affections. (Am I saying I can be bought? Absolutely.)

Time to put up a new wishlist. Marduk, thank you so much for your generosity. If my posting goes down over the next week, people can just head over to your site and read it instead. I'll be busy watching the Buffy Season Three DVDs, or reading Bernard Lewis' "What Went Wrong?"

Trying to play catch-up

I'm still exhausted today, and days behind in posting on certain subjects, like Kevin Drum's naive and ridiculous questions on how to criticize Israel and "neocons" (and may I repeat: DUH). Judith Weiss had something to say about that as well as Gary, Amptoons, Dr. Frank, and others. Although it's late, I think I will, after all, tell Kevin that he doesn't get a bye from me because he pleads ignorance.

Kevin writes:

I'm wondering about the best way to clearly distinguish legitimate criticism of neocons from mere anti-semitism.

This is why he doesn't get a bye from me. The fact is, Drum would never write something like, "I'm wondering about the best way to clearly distinguish legitimate criticism of African-Americans from mere racism." He'd be clobbered from all sides if he did.

I also missed phrase "mere anti-semitism" the first time out. Are there levels of anti-Semitism allowed in liberal discourse, Kevin? At bottom, seemingly innocent questions about how not to be called an anti-Semite while criticizing neocons being the lowest, and a graduated phraseology like "New York bankers," "global financiers," and "Zionists" coming closer to the "Jews are controlling the world" conspiracy theorists? An unfortunate choice of words, yes. But there goes my insistence on superhuman precision of language. Of course, I call it taking responsibility for your own words, but that's just me.

Kevin says:

By the way, a few of the commenters above seem to think that simply raising the question showed some kind of vague ill will on my part, a point of view I find disheartening. It's simply not possible to take into account every possible connotation of every word you write, and insisting on superhuman precision of language is just not reasonable. These kinds of issues become impossible to even discuss if this is the kind of reaction it generates.

Here's a clue, Kevin. We don't insist on superhuman precision of language, but we do insist that if you're going to use a phrase that has become the latest codeword for Jews, you need to understand that the use of codewords is abhorrent and generally brings on derision from those who dislike their use. Further, when you jump into a topic that has as its root cause anti-Semitism (Patrick Buchanan's criticism of "neocons" and their influence on this Administration), and wonder when it is and isn't anti-Semitic to criticize the new codeword for Jews, you're going to get people reacting with a little bit of, shall we say, aggravation?

What I'd like to see are some reasonable guidelines for discourse, guidelines that suggest which lines of attack on neoconservatism are reasonable and which ones aren't, and what kinds of criticism of Israel are legitimate and which ones aren't.

So what kinds of criticisms of African-Americans are legitimate and which ones aren't? Can you figure them out yourself? Yeah? Then use the same instincts for your criticism of Jewish neocons. And then use the same ones for your criticism of Christian neocons. Or atheist neocons.

As for legitimate criticism of Israel, well, it really doesn't matter what we say, because the question seems to keep on getting asked over and over. No matter what the answer, and we can't give you an answer because Jews are not some kind of monolithic being with only one mindset on all subjects. There will be criticisms that cross the line, are accused of crossing the line, or stretch the line to its max, and Barry and I will probably disagree on many of the same. Funny, that. We're both Jews, yet we don't think alike. Why is that, I wonder? (Another DUH! moment.)

My anti-Semitism radar is set more finely than most of the blogosphere. I know that. A lot of people say so. I don't apologize for it. No, I don't think Kevin is anti-Semitic. But cluelessness is no excuse, and his two posts could fit into the Clueless Hall of Fame in the section on anti-Semitism.

Dreams of war

Last night I dreamed I saw a news alert on CNN: 40 Israelis were killed by gas in an Iraqi SCUD attack.

I don't believe in prescient dreams. But I do believe my subsconscious works on the things that I'm worried about and sends them out in my dreams.

It was probably prompted by this story in the Jerusalem Post about Israeli Arabs selling their gas masks to West Bank Arabs. The story does not describe the motivation, or whether the Israeli Arabs are making a profit on the sale, so I can't make any kind of judgment call on it.

Palestinian sources told The Jerusalem Post that several hundred Arabs from Jerusalem have sold their gas masks to Palestinians from Ramallah and Bethlehem. The prices of the gas masks range between NIS 500 - 2,500 each. The sources said that the gas masks are being sold near the a-Ram junction on the road between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Palestinians living in the West Bank have not received gas masks and the Palestinian Authority has done nothing to prepare the people for the war. In some pharmacies in the West Bank, gas masks supplied by Israeli merchants are sold for NIS 200 each. But in light of the growing demand, hundreds of Arabs from Jerusalem started selling their gas masks.

If gas- or chemical-laden Scuds land in the West Bank or Gaza, the Palestinians will be the ones to suffer from it. Not that this will affect Saddam's schemes in any way. There was a quote going around the Internet a few weeks ago attributed to him. When asked if he would make sure the Scuds wouldn't hit the Wet Bank, Saddam supposedly said "I can't separate lentils."

The quote is probably false, but the sentiment is real. Scuds are notoriously unreliable to aim. And the world will blame any Palestinian deaths on Israel, for refusing to supply the Pals with gas masks. The PA, in the meantime, has done absolutely nothing to help their people prepare for gas and chemical attacks. Funny how nobody is noticing that, nor will they—unless a Scud hits Ramallah.



EAFPD reports

And the URLs have been coming in while I've been busy all day. Here are the Egoist, Walter in Denver, Al Barger, Paul Drabek, Michele, and, of course, Wind Rider's account, as well as Bill Cimino's. I'd love to tell you what the stupid thing he said was, but it'd probably embarrass someone besides Bill, so I'll pass.

And here's my page of photos. Rather high-bandwidth taken all together, and probably more to come.

It's what was for dinner

Mmm... meat

The first of many pictures to come: Left, our very cheerful waitress, Carrie, carrying my and CJ's prime ribs, standing in front of the grill at the Grate Steak (that's reader Dave on the right, flipping a monster-sized filet mignon).

Right, I'm joined by Bill Cimino and his wife in our PETA parking lot protest. (There really were hundreds of people before we got there, but they all remembered something else they had to do.)

I've got some housework and errands to do, but come back later this afternoon and I'll have more pictures of our meat-filled feast, and the angry protesters in front of the PETA building in Norfolk. Okay, maybe we weren't exactly angry, but dammit, we were protesting!


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.