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Bulldoze a few more of them

Ooh, is the title too mean? Here's where it comes from: Members of the same group that Rachel Corrie died for were caught hiding a terrorist from the IDF.

Soldiers of the Golani Brigade's counterguerrilla unit Egoz raided the West Bank offices of the International Solidarity Movement on Thursday and seized a senior Islamic Jihad fugitive.

The army said Shadi Sukia, 20, was being sheltered in the Jenin offices of the Palestinian-backed peace group whose members often act as human shields, placing themselves between soldiers and Palestinians.

The group said it did not know Sukia was wanted for planning a number of suicide bombings and shootings.

The army said troops found a pistol and Kalashnikov rifles in the ISM premises during a search of the four-story building, which also houses offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, international medical group Medicins Sans Frontieres, and the Bank of Palestine.

Interesting. They didn't know he was a terrorist, and they didn't know there were weapons in their building, either. Hm. Why is it, again, that Israel doesn't deport all "peace" activists when it's obvious their actions are not at all peaceful to the people of Israel? But then, we already knew that. If they were truly for peace, they'd be protesting the blowing up of busloads of schoolchildren. Not a peep.

Catching up

NZ Bear has an answer to MSNBC's Steven Levy, who says that embedded reporters (and why does that make me think of a rock in my shoe?) are sort of like—bloggers.

Survey says: Close, but not quite. Which in this case, is arguably worse than being just flat-out wrong.

At the risk of sounding like a bitter new-media tool who just wants to be spiteful and insist that everybody else Just Doesn't Get It: well, in this case, Levy just doesn't get it.

Yes, embedded journalists are providing first-person accounts, and they share this characteristic with (some) bloggers. But the key characteristic of weblogs is not that they are breathless accounts of our own lives --- because, in fact, many of them aren't. (When was the last time you heard about my life in any significant way? Ah yes, that's right: never.)

Read the rest; it's well worth it.

By the way, Bear, I agree with you, but I think you're missing a really funny point: Big Media is falling all over itself to say they're like us, now. Quite a change in their opinion since the haughtier-than-thou articles of only a few months ago. Dunno about you, but I'm smilin'.

Hoo-wee, steam is coming off my monitor. Why? Because I was over at Diane's, and she's on several rampages at once. One is the De Genova outrage (the asshole Columbia prof. who says he hopes for a million Mogadishus and wants American troops to die. That's okay, Prof. We want you to die, and you're not even on my honor roll of anti-Semites, though I suspect a Google search would likely change that. The most annoying quote from the New York Post article:

While he did not retract his statements, he said he hoped they do not lead to "death threats," like those he received after a controversial speech at a pro-Palestinian rally last spring.

Let's see if we can get behind this logic. He just said he wishes American soldiers will die, but he thinks it's wrong for people to say that they wish he would die. Hm. So, what, in his world, it's okay to issue passive death threats, but not active ones? Here's the best of both worlds, dude: Die, already.

Diane's also got a new meme she'd like to get going. I like it, so I'm passing it on: S.H.I.T. Happens. S.H.I.T.=Saddam Hussen Is Toast. S.H.I.T. happens. It's got a nice ring to it.

Bill Herbert's got a lot of great new posts. There's a very heartening one about China and North Korea. But as for the Henley quote—Bill, Henley references, links to, and publishes Raimondo's email on a regular basis. I think that says more than enough about the quality of his judgment. He's been off my reading list for months.

Aaron's Rantblog took a leaf from our International Eat an Animal for PETA campaign, and has designated April 15th Buy a Gun for to Spite Michael Moore Day. I don't know that I'll be buying a gun that day, but I'm passing the word along.

Letter from Captain Steve

The Eye of the Storm

One of the most stirring images of the Second World War is that of our Marines raising the Stars and Stripes over Iwo Jima. It evokes powerful emotions in us because it shows fragile humans made great by struggle and sacrifice. It shows them wearied by war and the loss of thousands of their brothers but still strong enough to endure one more task, the honoring of the symbol of everything for which they fought.

I'm afraid our current struggle will furnish no such images. While we have far more photographers with our troops, and technology much more suited to memorializing great moments, we are missing one essential element. The thing we're missing is our flag.

In an earlier letter I mentioned that we are not allowed to fly our flag at this base. It is thought it might "offend" our hosts, although no one seems to know for sure if that's the case. No one I have spoken to can say whether we were asked to make this concession, or it was voluntary, like the unfortunate decision to require U.S. military women to wear abayyas off base. (You may remember that one. It was finally done away with through the offices of a brave female pilot who refused to wear the symbol of a religion she did not practice.) Regardless of its origin though, this decision has set a precedent that is being carried forward from what used to be Operation Southern Watch and is now Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our ground forces, who may well return home covered with our flag, are not allowed to raise it above a battlefield.

Apparently people are worried about our being convicted of imperialism in the court of world opinion. Given the monkey business we've witnessed in the United Nations lately, world opinion should not carry enough weight to sway our policy, but it seems we feel compelled to address it anyway. Secretary of State Colin Powel is credited with responding recently to a question about our imperialistic designs. He said that for the great majority of our campaigns on foreign soil, the only soil we kept was "enough to bury those that did not return." But that is using good reason on people who have shown themselves logic-resistant. At some point it just doesn't make sense to address such stupid questions. Let us ask instead, What do we say by not flying our flag?

First of all, we accept the argument that our flag is something to be ashamed of. I know there are people who consider this to be the case. People who would rather discuss our history of slavery than recognize that we did more to end it than any nation in history. People who decry capitalism as a system based on greed, while embracing systems that grind the best out of people and deprive them of the fruits of their labors. People are entitled to these opinions, but for the life of me I can't understand why if they hold them they don't move to one of the many workers' paradises that put them into practice. Similarly, if a host nation is offended by our flag - by its flying over a part of their soil we are likely to bleed defending, then perhaps we ought to be defending someone else.

Secondly, the nation that fails to fly its flag tells those we expect to die for it that we are less dedicated to its defense than they are. We require of our fighting men and women an unstinting loyalty to the flag that may lead to their deaths, but we are unwilling to sacrifice popularity or international goodwill for it.

And let's face it. Not flying our flag has bought us no good will. Americans are not loved in this country we helped defend, and no amount of symbolic sacrifices will change that. As a matter of fact, acting ashamed of who we are is exactly what costs us the respect of people here. All it gets us is a hole in our morale where the symbol of our nation should be. Young Marines who fight and loose their friends in Basra, or An Nasariyah or Baghdad should not be deprived of the comfort of seeing Old Glory wave above the battlefield they have secured. And Iraqis who have yearned for freedom these long years should not be deprived of it either.

I don't know whose idea it was, or even whether it was a conscious decision - sometimes bad policies develop lives of their own - but whatever its origin, I hope this policy will change. I hope our fighting men and women will be able once again, to take comfort and show pride in the one symbol of our nation that is recognized around the world. What meaning can victory have for us without it?




Okay, I lied

I read my email, and there are too many things—some extremely good things—going on, so bedtime is postponed.

First, great news from Sari Stein: Concordia University, also known variously as Hate Jew U. or Gaza U., has had a sea change in student government administration. Radicals out, moderates in. Go check out Sari's blog for the details, and lift a glass of wine (and a one-finger salute) in the direction of the ousted regime.

Ellen of emailed me that the cat video that horrified and amused is a fake. Well, that makes me feel a bit better about laughing so hard.

Okay, so it's Lou Ferrigno, but this is really funny, and yes, folks, you definitely did the right thing by sending that link to me. Thanks for the laugh.

Coming up: Tomorrow, a new letter from Captain Steve. Sunday, pot luck. Monday, a letter from an old friend with a very liberal slant on Iraq. Plus probably more reader mail and definitely more posts. Oh, and my very own Hulk pictures. (He rode shotgun and played navigator.)

Now I'm going to watch Angel.

Just a post before I go

To bed. You know, a two-day trip to New Jersey is tiring. Especially when some kind of sinus infection is added to the trip. Well, it's not like I deliberately picked out a sinus infection and put it in my luggage to make sure I wouldn't forget it, but it was there, nonetheless. All I can say is thank the inventors of Sudafed for relief from a two-day headache. (Yeah, sometimes it takes me a while to realize it's a sinus thing, not stress.)

Actually, I think I'll catch up on my two-week-old episode of Angel before retiring. I'll catch up on everything else here tomorrow.



A few things before coming home

Well, my quick trip to NJ is nearly over. Had a great dinner with my family tonight, and got some really oustanding dessert at a home-made custard and ice stand (real lemon ice! A milk shake so thick and sweet it tasted like a melted chocolate bar!), picked up plenty of kosher meat from my favorite butcher shop (plus fresh challah from the bakery next store), had a conversation with the butcher about why some people don't consider Hebrew National and Shofar hot dogs kosher (get over yourselves, kosher snobs) and how Glatt kosher can only be applied to beef, and best of all, got my hair cut by Rocco, the stylist I've been patronizing for so long that I don't want to find a new stylist in Richmond.

Wow, that was some long sentence. Well, I have some short thoughts I need to put down before going to bed.

All truck traffic over 5 tons GVW (and I still think it should mean "Greenwich Vehicle Weight" and be similar to Greenwich Mean Time) on I-95 was diverted outside Baltimore and inspected. Last week, a friend told me her moving truck was stopped and inspected four times between Richmond and New York City.

Glenn says that Al Jazeera shouldn't have been hacked. But Glenn, it was effing hilarious. My brothers and I couldn't stop laughing while reading the story this evening.

Michele has done an awesome job with The Command Post. In eight days, it went from 5,000 visitors a day to 120,000. I believe that's a weblogging record. Take a bow, Michele. You bored housewife, you. (She's my favoritest bored housewife ever.)

This is a funny, funny, funny link. But it's also kinda cruel. But it's effing hilarious, and I strongly urge that you put down your drink and do not have anything in your mouth while watching it. I think this will appear to both cat-lovers and cat-haters. My pal Dolly, who is a cat-lover, sent it to me. Yeah, it's horrible, in a funny sort of way. Or is it funny in a horrible sort of way? Ah, well. Only the email will tell. Ooh! Ooh! Let's send it to PETA!

I'm rather far behind on email, but I'll catch up this weekend. I think. If not, early next week. Oh, there weren't any nifty pictures to show from the drive, because it rained in rather biblical proportions, and I didn't dare lose a second's concentration during the drive. There were some points where I could barely see the car in front of me. In fact, I put my Jeep into 4WD at that point, remember my brother's advice about that slick a road. Then I was wondering: Would my antilock brakes kick in on 4WD? Does one supercede the other, or do they work as a team? I started picturing little army guys inside my wheels, working to keep me safe.

I told you, I get very strange thoughts on six-hour drives, and bad weather makes them even worse.

The Media War

Diane had an excellent insight into the American perception of the war today:

Like Derb, I am not quite sure of the reactions of my countrymen should things get really difficult in B'dad. My gut feeling is that the average American (yes, there is such a thing, although he's hard to picture because he comes in many shapes and sizes and colors) would be willing and able to tough it out, but the so-called cultural elites, who control the info sources, would not. Subjected to a barrage of negative images, the resistance of Mr. Average American would eventually weaken.

I tend to agree: Tell enough people enough times that the war is failing, and they will start responding to pollsters that the war is failing. However, something happened today that made me think perhaps the cultural elites aren't as effective as they think, and we fear. I use AOL when I'm away from home, and here are two screen captures from my logon just moments ago, about 9:15 p.m. First, the welcome screen.

Then what you get when you click on the above link.

AOL war screen 2

Say what you will about AOL—at least it's putting the news out there, up front, where millions of AOL users can see it first—and without the negative spin it's getting in so many other places, including major TV and newspaper outlets.

The latest from Captain Steve

Sand Storm

Whenever possible I like to sit in the observer's seat during takeoffs. Some people prefer to sit there during in-flight refueling, but I have a natural disinclination toward seeing large aircraft so close together so high above the ground. It's takeoffs for me. Yesterday I had that privilege. We took off in that sandstorm you've been hearing about. From our vantage point the pilot, copilot, flight engineer, and I watched serpentine lines of sand twist out of the boiling brown clouds and stream along the surface of the tarmac. We held at the edge of the runway waiting for visibility to improve and watching our world expand to a thousand yard circle and then contract to a radius of just a few feet. As we were staring out the windows the flight engineer pointed behind us. A cloud of dust swirled inside the jet, as well as outside.

While we waited, a host-nation C-130 appeared suddenly out of the murk. He flew as low and as slowly as he could, waiting for a sight of the runway, and settled onto it in front of us. Just as suddenly he was gone, swallowed up in the haze. The rapidity with which he appeared and disappeared gave me a start. I stared more intently out the windows after that.

I enjoy takeoffs from the observer's seat because they give a view of teamwork that few people ever see. The flight crew members have so many details to be concerned with - checklists to be run, equipment to be inspected, ground personnel to watch out for - that it is impossible for any one person to do them all. It seems that without teamwork bordering on choreography it would be impossible even for the three of them to accomplish. Just starting our engines - clearing ground personnel fore and aft, turning the engines over, timing the rise in oil pressure, opening and closing valves, regulating throttles - requires the coordination of everyone on the flight deck and members of the ground crew. Most of it is beyond me, but what I can appreciate is the familiarity of these men with their equipment, their procedures, and each other; how they can accomplish so much in so little time with so few words. A lot of training and a lot of dedication. Every time I sit up front I return to my seat with greater respect for what those guys do, and a greater confidence in their ability to keep us safe.

So there we sat, checklists run, equipment performing within acceptable limits, calculations made based on weight, wind, and who knows what else, until we had a large enough gap in the storm to launch through. As we waited on the ramp, the storm buffeted the plane so much it bumped the flight controls around in the copilot's hands. Then we leaped off the runway and punched through the brown into a world that was all varying shades of silver, blue, and white. Towering clouds reflected brilliant sunlight. It was a sight made for a painter's eyes, and not for the first time since I came here, I wished I had the skill with a brush to get what I see down on paper.

It hardly means anything any more to say simply that it was a long flight, but I don't want to be any more specific than that. It was long enough that when we landed we felt days behind and in spite of our having focused intently on certain aspects of the battles below us, we had no idea what shape the war had taken while we were in it.

Another reason I wouldn't want to dwell on how long our flights are is that every time I do, I'm acutely aware that it might sound like complaining. We all know that as long as we have brothers and sisters sleeping on the ground and being fired on by the enemy we have nothing to complain about. In fact, we may feel a little guilty about that. I think we do, and I think maybe because of that, we were almost relieved - we almost felt validated somehow - when we heard the pilot say he was seeing tracers reaching skyward.

Any relief or feeling of validation disappeared pretty quickly.

Maybe the tracers contributed to what became a funny story. The copilot had the jet. The tracers had put a little tingle in everyone's spine, and added to all the responsibilities of flight (aviate, navigate, communicate) was the extra weight of watching the skies for anything that might come up after us. When he saw an orange glow from the corner of his eye - a bright light that seemed to track us, he took evasive action. That is how we avoided being shot down by what he now calls a PHCO - Potentially Hostile Celestial Object, and that is how he earned himself the nickname "Moon."

We hear that citizens of Basra have overthrown Saddam's regime, forcing his remaining sympathizers to flee north. They have taken the first step. Their Americanization has begun. We are happy for them. Our ground forces are making progress and Saddam's remaining forces, those with nothing to gain from surrender, will become more desperate. We have heard that they fired rockets into a market full of their own people, hoping to blame their deaths on us.

My friend Sideshow remarked to me today that Saddam's forces will use civilians as protection and it occurred to me that this is a perfect example of the differences between us and them. We believe that governments (and by extension, soldiers) exist to protect citizens. They believe that citizens are tools to be used in their defense. The world could not ask for a clearer illustration.

I'll write again soon.




One for the road

Woody Effing WoodpeckerI'll be traveling to NJ today, so here's something fun to look at until I get settled in. John M. scanned in this editorial cartoon from The Oregonian. I think it quite neatly ties together both the events in the world outside, and my problems with Woody Effing Woodpecker. Who knew my nemesis' name was really Jacques the Jacqueshammer?

While I'm in transit, go check out Bigwig's place. He made a soldier's wife very, very happy. Good for you, Bigwig. And Lair's always interesting. Terry is always funny. Then there's Fred Pruitt, for news about the other war that people haven't been noticing, as well as the goings-on in the rest of the world. (There's stuff happening outside of Iraq? Who knew?)

Of course, you could also browse through the archives around here, especially if you're new. Go ahead. I don't mind. Then you can email me about year-old essays and ask me if I'm going to write a follow-up.

I'll think about it. (Honestly, I'm trying very hard to write a new Hulk post, but it's not coming together yet.)

I'll be online around dinnertime or a bit after, depending on how much time I've got. It's going to be a quick there-and-back-again trip, time only for one set of friends and then family. And I'm bringing the digital camera, so if I get stuck behind a bus with a pair of giant boobs again, I can capture it on disk. Yes, that's's motto—I'm always ready to give my readers something new and different.



Marduk: Baiting the Jew-haters, 7 days a week

If you think my little missive below was mean, go take a look at what Marduk is saying on Babylonian Musings. Why, it's almost like Damian Penny and Bill Herbert can take a break from their Rivero Watch.

Say, you think we need a slogan? Hm, let's see. "We're Jews, we're not you, thank God." (You being the anti-Semites, of course.)

Naaah. Needs work.

It's always something

I was listening to three of the fifth graders chat today while getting ready to leave after class was over. I wanted to bust Joseph's chops, as he's a little wise guy and he (sigh) held a worm to my face on Sunday to try to frighten me. When I told him that when I was his age, the boys tried to scare me with bugs and it didn't work then, and doesn't work now, he said, "Cool, so I can do it again?" I told him no, it was flat-out rude to thrust a worm in someone's face.

So he was talking to two of the girls, and apparently they were discussing a couple of kids they know who are dating. Might have been older kids, might not—I didn't hear the entire conversation. But the thing that got me to nearly crack a rib was when one of the girls said, "And he licks her." The three of them, in unison, "Ewwwwwww!" "And she does it too!" "EWWWWW!"

I didn't laugh then, which is why I nearly cracked a rib. It was hard work to keep it inside. But once I got home, and was remembering the conversation, I had to stop cutting broccoli to laugh. These kids will be hitting puberty in the next year or so. Ew, indeed.

Why? Because I like her

Fame hasn't gone to Diane's head, not yet. So I'm going to send her my (comparatively speaking, now) piddly little Merylanche, because even though she's leaped to the A-list, she swore to me she'd never forget the little people (alas, it was via a phone conversation, not in email, so she can deny she ever said it). Oh, and because she has some interesting things to say. Interesting, the things that people find interesting. (That was a fun sentence to write and read.)

By the way, I've had the television off nearly all morning, and may even watch a tape of my soap. I know there's a war on. But I don't have to obsess over it. Godspeed to our troops, and to the innocent Iraqis, and rot in hell, Republican Guard and Fedayeen.

Better than you

From the New York Sun, on Saturday's New York anti-war march:

Later that afternoon, when I went home, I took a more careful look at a counterfeit dollar that was handed to me along the march route. There were thousands of the dollars being handed out, with lettering announcing that it was a "fraudulent event note" from "The Untied States of Aggression." The note listed a series of Web sites, among them one that trumpets: "Israel running assassinations inside U.S," and has a link labeled "who owns Congress" that links to a report of giving by pro-Israel political action committees. This same Web site links approvingly to an editorial in the Toledo Blade that itself quotes approvingly another Web site that claims, "We owe it to Americans to tell them the whole truth, that part of the war drive is being fueled by a wacko militarist clique from Israel and its interlocking bands of American Jewish and Christian supporters."

The Toledo Blade editorial goes on: "For half a century there has been a wrongheaded effort to label anti-Semitic any criticism of anyone or anything Jewish, including Israel. Fear of the hateful tag inhibits open discussion, minimizes honest criticism, and blocks informed decisions."

Judging by what I saw and heard Saturday, this inhibition, such as it was, wrongheaded or not, is no longer much in evidence.

This is in the city that is sometimes called "Jew York" as a commentary on its high percentage of Jews. There are about two million Jews in the New York metro area, which puts the Jewish population near ten percent—an amount higher than anywhere on earth except for Israel.

I'm so tired of the haters. I don't even have the strength to utter my paean against anti-Semites. I'm tired of their stupidity and their ignorance and their hatred and their constant calls for the death of my people. I'm tired of their infantile conspiracy theories and their denial of reality and their inability to shoulder responsibility for their own failures. I'm tired of their constant harping on the only true democracy in the Middle East. I'm tired of the phrase, "It's not anti-Semitism, it's anti-Zionism." I'm tired of Jews whining about other Jews not understanding the difference between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism. I'm tired of anti-Semites disguising their anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism or criticism of Israel.

I am tired of the hatred. Don't they ever get tired of it?

Apparently not.

Well, here's something else to get their blood pressure up to the boiling point. One of the roots of anti-Semitism is quite plain to me. A common refrain of the haters is how Jews think we're so much better than they. We have this attitude, they think. It's because Jews excel in the arts and sciences far out of proportion to their numbers in society. Just take a look at the rolls of Nobel Prize winners (17 more added since 1995). Interesting how when Jew-haters like Pat Buchanan mention the low percentage of Jews in the Army, they never mention the correspondingly high percentage of Jews in the sciences, doing things like inventing a vaccine for polio or developing relativity theory.

Perhaps it isn't that Jews are superior. Perhaps what drives the anti-Semites is the knowledge of their own inferiority and failure. Astonishing, isn't it, that Jews make up less than .0025% of the world's population, and yet have such an impact on the world. But you never know.

So. Do you hate us because you're jealous, or do you just hate us because we're better than you?

Back in the pre-Internet days, during the BBS times, in fact, there was a user on some of the systems I frequented, who had a signoff that I never forgot, and always thought was a great way to piss off people who already don't like you:

"Better than you."

So that's my new response to the anti-Semites. Yeah, we're better than you. Sucks, doesn't it? Yep, we're better than you, and we have the achievements in science and medicine and literature to prove it. That's right, we're better than you. There's a tiny nation made of Jews in the middle of millions of hostile Jew-haters, and they've managed to stay alive, win all the wars, and improve their standard of living beyond the wildest dreams of their oil-rich neighbors (who could not exploit the oil wealth without outside aid). We're better than those Jew-haters, too.

Go ahead. Send the hate mail. I'm still better than you.



Time out again: Review of The Core

The good news: It's nowhere near as dumb as the previews make it seem. The bad news: It's still a dumb movie. The better news: It was a lot of fun, even though it was a dumb movie.

A local radio station was giving away free preview tickets, and some friends of mine got hold of a few and called me about it. (They run a comic shop, so they got theirs from somewhere else, but the point is, since I couldn't go to Starbucks yesterday morning and pick them up myself, it was way cool that they had extras and thought of me.)

Anyway. Here's the plot of the movie: The earth's core stops spinning. Chaos reigns, and Our Heroes have less than a year to invent something to make the core start spinning again or Everyone On The Planet Will Die. If you think you've seen this plot before, that's because, well, you have. Substitute "a large meteor will strike the earth" or "creepy-looking aliens are floating their spaceships above our cities," and you've got it.

So we have Hillary Swank, who looks much prettier as a female astronaut than as a girl playing a boy so she can date girls, as Our Heroine. Amazingly, she made the role actually seem worthwhile. Boy, she's good. Then there's Aaron Eckhart, Our Handsome Yet Vulnerable (But Witty) Hero, with a cleft in his chin nearly as deep as Michael Douglas' (but Aaron's cuter and it's likely his face won't melt the way Douglas' has). He's The Science Teacher Who Realizes The Earth Is In Danger. There is also The Mad Scientist, and The Vain Scientist Whose Vanity Probably Caused The Problem In The First Place, The Gruff But Heroic Mission Commander (not nearly as gruff or heroic as Bruce Willis in Armageddon, but then, this movie is the underground Armageddon, so...), and The Computer Nerd Who Speaks In Bits And Eats Junk Food. (Said nerd, of course, can do anything with a computer or any electronic device.) Oh. I almost forgot The Devoted Scientist Friend And Sidekick. This one's French, but don't hold it against him. He's a good guy.

Here's my advice on the movie: Catch a matinee. It's fun. Pay full price if you need something, anything to get your mind off the war and can't get out early enough to see the movie. The film is dumb and silly and the science is laughable, but you'll have fun making bets on who is going to die, what the next obstacle will be, and making fun of what the writers of the film think the stuff underneath our feet is made of, and what would happen if the core stopped spinning. I really got a kick out of the birds scene (shades of Hitchcok!), the giant diamonds and the giant geode, and that's all I'll say about it. You wouldn't want me to spoil things by telling you that the earth doesn't get destroyed, would you?


Reading comprehension

Khalid didn't like my post below, but I don't think he read the post that I wrote. I don't think he understands the meaning of the word "literacy," either.

You are twisting my words and leaping to the wrong conclusions here.

I am not in any way condoning the attack on the innocent Jewish man in Paris. If the man has been stabbed for wearing a yarmulke, then the stabbers should be prosecuted and severely punished for their hate crime. If you knew how to read properly, you would see that I condemn all attacks on innocents.

To repeat: I suggested that Glenn's coverage, in general, focuses more on the suffering (or jubilation) of some people more than others. Violence he agrees with is downplayed and/or justified, while violence he ***often rightly*** disagrees with is highlighted to bolster his black-and-white view of the world.

So let's take a quick recap of my post below. Hell, let's quote it all, why make you scroll down?

Glenn received email from a Khalid Yukub, which pointed to an article on dead Iraqi civilians, ostensibly from from the U.S. bombing. Glenn rightly denied that there were parallels.

It's Jew-hatred, plain and simple, Glenn. Don't let him distract you with trying to get you into moral arguments. These two young Jewish men did nothing. "Immigrants from North Africa" stabbed one, tried to break into a Jewish building to stab more, and instead beat the hell out of the next Jew to exit the building.

Jew-hatred. Not anti-Zionism. Nothing to do with Iraq, and Khalid is reprehensible for even trying to tie the two together. The "North Africans" (read: Arab Muslims) were cruising the area, looking for Jews to harm. Why? Because their leaders lie to them and tell them this war is a "Zionist" aggression. Looks like Khalid has bought the lies in their entirety.

How unsurprised I am to hear yet another Arab blame everything on the Jews.

I'm not twisting words. Find me a single word above that said Khalid condoned the attack. Now, go look for one in which I say he established parallels between the two attacks. I simply said that the attacks are completely separate from Iraqi civilian casualties, and that to bring up the latter is a distraction from the events.

I'm not the one who sent Glenn email with a link to Al-Jazeera's coverage of civilian deaths in an email that dealt with the stabbing attack of a French Jew by Muslims. That would be Khalid, who says he's not drawing a parallel between the two. (The link is broken now, by the way.) It still has absolutely nothing to do with the death of Iraqi civilians. Khalid also writes:

Finally, I am not Arab. I am a westerner. Not that it should matter, but to you it apparently does.

Yeah, I have a problem with Arabs. Mostly because they keep on killing and injuring Jews throughout the world, including right here in America, but hey, I'm a little sensitive about things like that. You're not an Arab? Goody for you. But that's some western name you have, the one that's as western as, say, John Smith. No wonder I thought you were Arab. But it's the only mistake I made in my original post.

Please attach this note to your weblog, and enroll in a literacy class as soon as you conveniently can.

I think you mean "reading comprehension," as knowing how to read and write is the main definition of literacy. Feel free to enroll in the first class you can find. Oh, and regarding the tone of your letter: Kiss my shapely Jew ass.

New letter from Captain Steve

24 March: On this date in 1995, believing that the American people had no stomach for casualties and would blame them for the Battle of Mogadishu, the Clinton administration completed the withdrawal of American troops from Somalia. Osama Bin Laden later stated that it was this point in our history that convinced him America could be beaten.

Whether last night's atrocities were intended as a twisted anniversary celebration may not be known, but what is clear is that the results of these two battles will not be the same. This administration is guided by the knowledge that what we are accomplishing in Iraq is necessary and right, and that America will accept sacrifices for a just cause. This is a hard truth for us, especially when we or our friends could be those sacrifices. But it would be a harder thing still if this country disgraced the contributions of its soldiers by running away every time some of us are killed.

We are saddened by the loss of our comrades last night, and angered by the mistreatment our brothers are receiving at the hands of their captors. But unlike a few years before, we will not run away.

I can't tell you much about last night's mission. It is too difficult to tell what information could be useful to our enemies, or harmful to those being held captive. All I can tell you is that I will never forget the voices of the men who called to us for close air support. As weapons fired in the background, they spoke clearly, without emotion; passing the locations of friendlies and the enemy and asking us to send help from above. We sent them everything we could get our hands on, and while we weren't doing that, we were praying for their safety.

We could not know the details of the battle from our perspective, and there are still details that are unknown to us, (We landed, debriefed, ate, and slept to be ready for our next sortie, and have had no time to see the news yet.) but a few things are clear. We know that there was an ambush, that the enemy advanced under a flag of truce for the purpose of attacking. We know that some of our people have been captured and paraded through the streets of An Nasariyah. We know that some have been killed, apparently after their capture, and their bodies treated disgracefully.

We are required every year to receive training on the Laws Of Armed Conflict, an international convention regarding the conduct of war. We learn the principles of Humanity, Chivalry, and Military Necessity, among others. We also learn that while we are among the very few who practice these conventions, it is still to our advantage to do so. It benefits us personally and as a nation.

Humanity is the principle that prevents us from inflicting unnecessary suffering. We rule out the use of certain weapons and techniques because we regard their purpose as inappropriate. We try to achieve our objectives while harming as few people as possible. Chivalry requires us to honor certain signs and traditions that have long been recognized in war. The white flag as a sign of truce is not to be abused. Prisoners are to be protected against hunger, the elements, and angry civilians. The Red Cross or Red Crescent are to be recognized as signs of noncombatants. Military Necessity demands that we attack only targets that help us achieve military objectives. Our conduct of war is restrained on all sides by these conventions to help us return home with honor, and to protect the reputation of the United States as a land guided by justice.

But do these conventions apply when we face an enemy who so openly flouts them? Last night we all wanted retribution. There was talk of leveling An Nasariyah, of making them pay. We know though, that now more than ever the principles that make our country so different from (and so feared by) this part of the world must be adhered to. We will not defile our cause with barbaric actions. We cannot forget that our purpose here is to liberate, not to massacre, though we certainly have the means at our disposal.

The perpetrators of the atrocities are very likely the Saddam Fedayeen, the force selected by Saddam for their fanatical loyalty, and subjected to a training program that reduces them to the lowest form of humanity. (Before they graduate a live dog is thrown into a pit with them and they tear it apart with their bare hands. They cover themselves with its blood as they shout slogans of loyalty to Saddam.) Saddam places them above the law and above the military, and they move freely across Iraq murdering and raping and inflicting unspeakable horror. They have nothing to gain from surrender. They will never be welcome in an Iraq without Saddam so they will fight to the death and they will use any means available. They are a minority.

The rest of the military has everything to gain from honorable conduct. They know they have no chance of winning. They know Americans are merciful and will treat them well. They know this because the American conduct of war is characterized by restraint. It guides everything we do. Even the attack designed to demonstrate overwhelming force, shock, and awe is controlled so as to protect innocent Iraqis.

It was a terrible night for us. If any of us still thought that war was pushing buttons and flying high above the fray, they don't think it any longer. Hearing people die will change your perspective. But it won't change our principles. We will continue to fight with restraint and with honor because we know it's right, and because we know you support us.

Pray for the families of those who died last night, for those in combat now, and those about to go in. Pray for those in captivity, that they will stay strong and return home soon. Pray for their families to be comforted and for our leaders to be wise and strong.

Stay safe, Steven.

Errands done

The latest issue of my synagogue newsletter is off to the press. Okay, the synagogue copy machine, but off to the Xerox doesn't sound nearly as nice.

Lots of things to talk about; email to get to. In fact, I feel a rant coming on. Check in later this afternoon. (It's nearly 3 p.m.)

A normal morning

Either I was so exhausted I didn't hear him, or Woody Effing Woodpecker took the hint yesterday morning and found another place to plant his pecker. One can only hope. Although my dreams were slightly disturbing; Gracie captured a lemur-like creature that rembled nothing so strongly as the lemur on Zoboomafoo, only longer, skinnier, and with more human-like eyes (that reproached me as I saw Gracie dragging him away). I'm sure an Indymidiot could read all kinds of anti-war propaganda into my dream, but I generally mark those up to "weird dream" and move on.

The Command Post has moved, so you need to go to its new address for up-to-the-minute links on the war. It has turned into quite a clearinghouse of information. People seem to be settling into beats. For instance, Lair and Alisa are working the Israeli beat, Ribbity is translating Al Jazeera for us and keeping an eye on the Arabic newspapers, and I seem to have gotten into the anti-war protester beat.

I think it's a very useful site for people who don't want to scour the news services themselves, and especially for people who are at work and don't have access to a television.



Business as usual

70% of Palestinians polled support suicide bombing.

Some 70% of the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip support the continuation of suicide attacks against Israel, and another 64% favor Hamas's use of mortars and rockets.

Good to know that we're not merely generalizing when we suggest the Pals don't want peace with Israel.

False parallels

Glenn Reynolds links to and comments on this Ha'aretz article:

Two Jewish youths were hospitalized Saturday afternoon after being stabbed in Paris by individuals who had taken part in an anti-war demonstration. The separate incidents took place near the Hashomer Hatzair youth group building in the city, in close proximity to Beaumarchais Boulevar and Bastille Square.

One young man was stabbed and lightly wounded after a group of men noticed his yarmulke. He was taken to the hospital for treatment. The attackers are believed to have been immigrants from North Africa. After stabbing the young man, they tried to break in to the Hashomer Hatzair building, but members of the youth group managed to block the entrance.

Fifteen minutes later, a 24-year-old youth group advisor exited the building to address a television crew that had arrived to interview him. After exiting the building, he was seriously wounded when passers-by attacked him with metal rods and chains.

Jewish Agency Chairman Sallai Meridor called on the French government to fulfil its responsibility to provide security for its Jewish citizens and prevent the anti-war demonstrations from becoming anti-Semitic events.

Glenn received email from a Khalid Yukub, which pointed to an article on dead Iraqi civilians, ostensibly from from the U.S. bombing. Glenn rightly denied that there were parallels.

It's Jew-hatred, plain and simple, Glenn. Don't let him distract you with trying to get you into moral arguments. These two young Jewish men did nothing. "Immigrants from North Africa" stabbed one, tried to break into a Jewish building to stab more, and instead beat the hell out of the next Jew to exit the building.

Jew-hatred. Not anti-Zionism. Nothing to do with Iraq, and Khalid is reprehensible for even trying to tie the two together. The "North Africans" (read: Arab Muslims) were cruising the area, looking for Jews to harm. Why? Because their leaders lie to them and tell them this war is a "Zionist" aggression. Looks like Khalid has bought the lies in their entirety.

How unsurprised I am to hear yet another Arab blame everything on the Jews.

Regarding the real war

The Iraqis are mistreating POWs, and may have executed prisoners. Alliance troops have captured illegal mines from Iraqi ships. Iraqi soldiers are said to be using civilians as human shields.

Anyone out there who expected something different, raise your hand.

Yeah, same here.

The Woodpecker War: Missive 4

Got up at 0615, went to the freezer for another round of ice cubes, and took careful aim before flinging one.

If the woodpecker hadn't flown off as the cube arced towards him, I'd have hit him. I was dead-on. Didn't hit the house like last time.

Time to buy a rubber snake and get maintenance to come put in on the roof.

Surreality programming

I switched on the television a few minutes after two a.m., having finished most of the tasks I'd procrastinated on today. There is a firefight, live, in Umm Qasr.

Live. It's on TV.

Those of you who take this for granted cannot comprehend the feeling of unreality that is striking me. When I was a child, war came in the movies, usually WWII movies, and it was practically bloodless. Then we saw film of the Vietnam war on the evening news, and it was bloody and shocking, and at the end of the six o'clock news, names in white block letters would scroll across the screen—names of the killed and missing in action that day. It was about then that my teenaged brothers and I became Star Trek fans. We couldn't handle the news.

Then we had the Gulf War in 1991, where we actually got very little video after the initial bombing, and what video we did get was from gun cameras on airplanes. Satellite views, silent flashes and puffs of smoke, and big, gaping holes in the ground. We did not get pictures of the "Highway of Death," for instance. Not that I would have wanted them. But they wouldn't play well with the American public, and we never really knew how many Iraqi soldiers had been killed.

And so I'm watching, as I type this, a group of soldiers lying on the ground, occasionally firing toward a building with Iraqi soldiers inside, and wondering what rabbit-hole I fell into, and frankly, how to get out.

I know there's a war going on. But it feels somehow wrong for me to be watching it so intimately—with millions of others watching, and listening, across the world.

Something just doesn't feel right.


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.