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So the ant situation seems to be under control. I haven't seen any more since I found the lone straggler, and it's possible that he was just a leftover that I missed, or one that recovered from the ammonia spray. But I have to say, I'm quite worried. I'm going out of town Sunday for a couple of days, and I dread coming back to an apartment full of ants. I think I'll ask Heidi to check on her way home from work Sunday night. And hope that they don't plan their counterattack for Monday.

I've been chided by Kofi Annan over this. I wonder if he's just mad because of what I wrote about him yesterday?

And by the way, thanks so much for the tips. Yes, Harry, I have a vaccuum cleaner, but I didn't use it because I didn't think of it, and now that I think of it, it wasn't necessary, and God help me if I have to suffer the infiltration you suffered:

Many years ago, we owned a lovely townhome which had been built directly atop an anthill of (apparently) gigantic proportions. Each spring, we would be invaded by a stream of ants 6" wide and stretching back to infinity.

In addition to various non-lethal sprays (we have lots of dogs), and an eventual visit by Terminix, the thing that we found most useful in this battle was the vacuum cleaner. With the attachment, of course, so as not to squish any ants on the floor and leave evidence for the revenge parties to navigate by. We could clean up an entire swath of ants 30 feet long in the blink of an eye.

And may I say: Oh. My. God. Did you at least get your money back for the townhome?

In the comments, JamesW says they're just as likely looking for water. Yes, well, probably not. The James River had just retreated from being three feet under flood stage when we got another monsoon. Everything's green and growing this summer.

This is my favorite comment, from Ann:

If I took my cat's food away, ants would be the least of my problems.

Yeah, Tig's been getting me up at 5 or a.m. an awful lot since I cut back on their food. Time to pile the shoes by the bed and teach Tig that he can't take advantage of me just because I'm half-asleep. I must reinstate the Fear of Shoes in him.

Oh, don't look like that. I simply throw a shoe in his general direction. I don't hit him with them.

Anyway. If there isn't any news from me on Tuesday or Wednesday, you'll know why.

*Headline suggested (insisted, actually) by Sarah G. | |



Abuse by any other name

Jim Peacock accomplished something that I couldn't: He wrote a post refuting a very stupid critique of the current domestic abuse policies. And he did it without sarcasm. Good for you, Jim.

Sorry, Goldstein, but Jim's got you on this one. The subject is far too complex to be able to dismiss both it and Jim's post with a snarky remark.

For instance, I have a simple question that can determine the effectiveness of the current policy for domestic abuse: What percentage of women got away from their abusive spouses before the policy was turned into law fifteen years ago?

Yeah, math is hard. And those rigid statistics—wow, they'll get you every time.

Technological advantage: Jews

This is incredibly good news (hat tip: Lair):

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A laser beam under joint Israeli-U.S. development destroyed a long-range rocket for the first time in a test in the skies over the American Southwest, Israel's Defense Ministry said on Friday.

Israel has sought an effective defense against ballistic missiles since 1991 when Iraq launched Scuds into the Jewish state during the first Gulf War. It has since developed the Arrow anti-ballistic missile with U.S. funding.

"This is a significant step forward," a ministry spokesman said of the test on May 4 of the "Nautilus" Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser (MTHEL) held at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

[...] The Nautilus laser is being developed mainly by U.S. aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp with the help of several Israeli high-tech firms specializing in optics and military hardware.

Iran is working double-time to complete its nuclear weapons program, and Israel is working double-time to complete its anti-missile defense. Gee, if only Iran had a bunch of Jewish scientists, they might have a chance to get into the race. (Oooh, what a racist remark. Guaranteed one of my commenters calls me on that.)

But this being a Reuters piece, it wouldn't be Reuters without its moral equivalency paragraph:

Israel sees the Nautilus as another potential countermeasure to possible ballistic attack by enemies, which would include most Arab states and Iran. In turn, they see Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal as the biggest strategic threat to the region.

I'd ask "WTF is wrong with these people?" but I already know. They hate Jews. | |

Would you pay $124,630 for this man?

Another audiotape purportedly from bin Laden has surfaced, this time offering rewards in gold (because they can't use U.S. dollars, I presume, even though Iraqis use them as if they were gold) for various figures Al Qaeda doesn't like. Paul Bremer is worth 10,000 grams of gold.

Surprisingly, Kofi Annan and Lakdar Brahimi (the "ambassador" who said that Israel is behind everything that's wrong with the world), are also being held up for a 10,000-gram reward.

"The United Nations is nothing but a Zionists' tool, even if it worked under the cover of providing humanitarian aid," the voice said. "... Whoever kills Kofi Annan or the head of his commission in Iraq or a representative like Lakhdar Brahimi, he will be awarded the same prize of 10,000 grams of gold."

So here's my question: Do you think this guy is worth $124,630? Because frankly, I wouldn't pay two bucks for him.

Still waiting for UN condemnation of the murders of the Hatuel family.

Still nothing.

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All ants must die

On Wednesday night, something was causing an itch on my left arm. I shook it, and knocked off a sugar ant while I was sitting at the table. It disappeared, and I made a critical error: I didn't search it out and destroy it.

Well. It's Thursday night, Friday morning, really, and over an hour ago, tired from two days of not enough sleep due to a mild bout of insomnia, I was on my way upstairs before Letterman had finished his monologue. But first, I stopped for a glass of water. And found dozens of ants on my kitchen counter, near the sink, swirling around looking for food. The battle continues. Dammit. They've opened a second front, although I seem to have utterly defeated them on the living room side of things.

The good news is the ants found a part of the kitchen that has very little food. I think they came in through the window. The bad news is I had to spend over an hour killing ants and cleaning every last scrap of food I could find from that area, as well as try to figure out where they were coming from and spray inside and out with the ammonia-based cleaner. The worst news is that the pantry isn't all that far away from where the ants were swarming. I laid down a line of suppressing fire at the bottom of the pantry door with my Formula 409, which is looking like it's going to need refilling soon.

I swept the kitchen floor, took out the garbage, got rid of all the recyclables (even though I rinse them out, apparently, there was enough residue for sugar ants to find food), checked the pantry, made sure there were no open food packages in the pantry, and put in Ziploc bags any foods that were open, like the bag of sugar. And the peanuts in the shell. I have no idea if ants like peanuts in the shell. I have no desire to find out the hard way that they do. If they want peanuts, let them buy their own.

Then I cleaned the counter, made sure all the dishes were rinsed thoroughly of food particles and put in the dishwasher, cleaned the rubber mat underneath the dishrack, and looked at the toaster oven and realized that it's going to take a long, long time to clean (can you say, "Lazy woman doesn't empty toast crumbs nearly as often as she should?" I knew you could). I put it in a bag and stuck it in my Jeep. I really don't think the ants are going to find it there. Then there was the problem of the cat food. I leave dry food out all the time, which is partly why Tig is so fat. Time to get rid of it.

I cleaned up the cat food, emptied and washed out the dishes, made sure the rest of the food was sealed in its Tupperware container, and moved the bag of cat food in the pantry off the floor onto a shelf. Tig and Gracie are going to wait until I get up in the morning to be fed, after which I will take up the cat food dishes again. Cat food I can deal with. I will not be supplying ant food to the local troop.

It's now 1:30 a.m., and I once again have psychosomatic itching, and will probably be dreaming about ants crawling all over the place. But I'm going to bed.

Let this be a warning to you all: Don't let an ant get away from you inside your home. You will regret it. It's a scout for the invading army. Kill it. | |



Arafat vs. the Hulk

Last week, I presented the 2004 Secret Arafat Phone Transcripts, in which we discovered that Arafat's calls kept getting routed to the Hulk.

Today, we have an article in Ha'aretz detailing the new defensive measures Arafat is taking for the Muqata:

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat fortified his West Bank headquarters with piles of old cars and barrels of concrete, fearing an Israeli invasion was imminent, Palestinian officials said Thursday.

Sharon said last month he is no longer bound by a promise to U.S. President George W. Bush not to harm Arafat. Earlier this week, Israeli troops briefly surrounded Arafat's Muqata compound during an overnight raid. The army said Arafat was not the target of the raid, but Palestinian officials said the veteran leader fears for his life.

"We have a real concern that they may come here," said Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat.

Dozens of old cars were scattered throughout the main courtyard outside Arafat's headquarters Wednesday. Hundreds of blue barrels filled with concrete were spread throughout the area, in a move to prevent tanks from moving in. Cement trucks were in the compound Thursday filling more barrels.

Palestinian officials said Arafat knows the measures can't stop Israeli bulldozers and tanks, but that he refuses to be taken alive.

"Arafat will resist any attempt to arrest or get into his office," Erekat said, adding that he fears "the end of the game" will be the killing of Arafat.

Israeli security officials said there were no immediate plans to attack the Palestinian leader. But they said Israel has a standing plan on how to snatch Arafat from his headquarters and expel him.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's just the cover story. Those measures are being taken in a vain attempt to stop the Hulk from rampaging through Ramallah. Arafat fears the Hulk, as well he should. Careful, Arafat. You won't like him when he's angry. | |

On anti-Semitism: Cynthia Ozick

The New York Observer publishes a phenomenal essay by Cynthia Ozick, which will be in a new book on anti-Semitism edited by Ron Rosenbaum. (This website is mentioned in the book.) The book is due out May 18th, and here's the link on Amazon where you can order it. In the meantime, here's an excerpt from the essay. You'll want to read it all.

We thought it was finished. In the middle of the twentieth century, and surely by the end of it, we thought it was finished, genuinely finished, the bloodlust finally slaked. We thought it was finished, that heads were hanging—the heads of the leaders and schemers on gallows, the heads of the bystanders and onlookers in shame. The Topf company, manufacturer of the ovens, went belatedly out of business, belatedly disgraced and shamed. Out of shame German publishers of Nazi materials concealed and falsified the past. Out of shame Paul de Man, lauded and eminent Yale intellectual, concealed his early Nazi lucubrations. Out of shame Mircea Eliade, lauded and eminent Chicago intellectual, concealed his membership in Romania’s Nazi-linked Iron Guard. Out of shame memorials to the murdered rose up. Out of shame synagogues were rebuilt in the ruins of November 9, 1938, the night of fire and pogrom and the smashing of windows. Out of shame those who were hounded like prey and fled for their lives were invited back to their native villages and towns and cities, to be celebrated as successful escapees from the murderous houndings of their native villages and towns and cities. Shame is salubrious: it acknowledges inhumanity, it admits to complicity, it induces remorse. Naïvely, foolishly, stupidly, hopefully, a-historically, we thought that shame and remorse—world-wide shame, world-wide remorse—would endure. Naïvely, foolishly, stupidly, hopefully, a-historically, we thought that the cannibal hatred, once quenched, would not soon wake again.

It has awakened.

In "The Modern Hep! Hep! Hep!"—an 1878 essay reflecting on the condition of the Jews—George Eliot noted that it would be "difficult to find a form of bad reasoning about [Jews] which had not been heard in conversation or been admitted to the dignity of print." She was writing in a period politically not unlike our own, Disraeli ascendant in England, Jews prominent in liberal parties both in Germany and France. Yet her title points to something far deadlier than mere "bad reasoning." Hep! was the cry of the Crusaders as they swept through Europe, annihilating one Jewish community after another; it stood for Hierosolyma est perdita (Jerusalem is destroyed), and was taken up again by anti-Jewish rioters in Germany in 1819. In this single raging syllable, past and future met, and in her blunt bold enunciation of it, George Eliot was joining bad reasoning—i.e., canard and vilification—to its consequences: violence and murder. The Jews, she wrote, have been "regarded and treated very much as beasts hunted for their skins," and the curse on them, the charge of deicide, was counted a justification for hindering them from pursuing agriculture and handicrafts; for marking them out as execrable figures by a peculiar dress; for torturing them … spitting at them and pelting them; for taking it certain that they killed and ate babies, poisoned the wells, and took pains to spread the plague; for putting it to them whether they would be baptised or burned, and not failing to burn and massacre them when they were obstinate; but also for suspecting them of disliking their baptism when they had got it, and then burning them in punishment of their insincerity; finally, for hounding them by tens on tens of thousands from their homes where they had found shelter for centuries, and inflicting on them the horrors of a new exile and a new dispersion. All this to avenge the Saviour of mankind, or else to compel these stiff-necked people to acknowledge a Master whose servants showed such beneficent effects of His teaching.

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Around the blogosphere

Last night was open mic night at Michele's. I might have posted something there. And I might just imitate Ilyka and try those 100-things posts when I move over to MT. (Which is rather imminent, I've seen Stacy's first draft of the redesign and like it a lot.)

I apologize to you all. I watched "10.5" on Sunday night because the previews looked so bad that I laughed every time I saw the Space Needle tumble down. Turns out that Sarah G. watched it, too, and on Monday night, we were on the phone like a couple of high schoolers, making fun of the lousy acting, awful dialogue, stupid plot, and junk science. (Loved the way they outran the earthquake in the end of the movie, when by all natural laws, they'd have been unable to stand, let alone walk.) Oh, the apology: Apparently, the movie got prettyhigh ratings. I hope that doesn't encourage NBC to make another stupid disaster movie for next May. (Don't hate me, Lair, it really was a funny movie. Look out! It's a SuperFault! The coast of California is going to be changed!)

Tom Paine saw a disgusting anti-Semitic "artwork" that was paid for by Melbourne, and decided that this was a case of Jew-hatred that could not be borne.

Well, it's gone now. Job well done, Tom.

Gary Farber has a few interesting links. Okay, he really has a lot of interesting links, but you'll have to go see for yourself.

I have a lot more letters and links to get to, but I'm finally tired enough to go to sleep. That'll teach me to lie down for just a minute and wake up two hours later in the afternoon.

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Public service announcement: Email hoaxes

Folks, there are a number of email phishing scams going on right now. I just received a few more letters purporting to be from Ebay, asking for me to update my credit card information. The fact that Ebay doesn't have my credit card info in the first place was my first clue that this is a scam. But there are far more sophisticated scams going on.

Last week, I received an email seemingly from Paypal that also wanted my information updated. It looked extremely realistic, and I might have fallen for it if I hadn't just seen a warning on the Paypal website, and if Spam Assassin hadn't tagged it as spam. I opened it up while offline and checked it out. When you put your cursor on the link that takes you to the Paypal site, it doesn't. It takes you to an IP that is not a Paypal address, and opens up a CGI script that will harvest your credit card and password information, as well as your bank account number, I presume.

Lair got a Paypal letter too, and did something about it. I emailed the IP admin contact, but have heard nothing back. Mine was It's an IP in Korea. Lair's wasn't the same one. I doubt my letter did any good. Oh, well. I tried.

In any case: None of your services will ever ask you in email to verify your account information. Don't fall for these scams. | |

Israel vs. the world: The UN strikes again

Kofi Annan read a statement yesterday at the prelude to the new "negotiations" concerning the Roadmap measures that are supposed to be implemented at the same time by both sides. His opening statement, speaking at the "Quartet" conference:

We reaffirm our commitment to our shared vision of two States living side by side in peace and security. One of those States will be Israel and the other a viable, democratic, sovereign and contiguous Palestine.

We call on both parties to take steps to fulfil their obligations under the roadmap, as called for in Security Council resolution 1515 and in our previous statements, and to meet the commitments they made at the Red Sea Summits in Aqaba and Sharm-el-Sheikh.

Annan continues with Israel's responsibilities. These are excerpts from the paragraphs that deal with Israel's obligations:

While recognizing Israel's legitimate right to self-defence in the face of terrorist attacks against its citizens, within the parameters of international humanitarian law, we call on the Government of Israel to exert maximum efforts to avoid civilian casualties.

We urge the Israeli Government to implement these commitments, and to fully meet its roadmap obligations.

... we call on the Government of Israel to exert maximum efforts to avoid civilian casualties.

We also call on the Government of Israel to take all possible steps now, ... including increasing freedom of movement for people and goods both within and from the West Bank and Gaza, removing checkpoints, and other steps to respect the dignity of the Palestinian people and improve their quality of life.

The Government of Israel should take no actions undermining trust such as deportation, attacks on civilians, confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property...

We continue to note with great concern the actual and proposed route of the barrier, particularly as it results in the confiscation of Palestinian land, cuts off the movement of people and goods, and undermines Palestinians' trust in the roadmap process by appearing to prejudge the final borders of a future Palestinian State.

This initiative, which must lead to a full Israeli withdrawal and complete end of occupation in Gaza, can be a step towards achieving the two-State vision; and could restart progress on the roadmap.

We further note that any unilateral initiatives by the Government of Israel should be undertaken in a manner consistent with the roadmap, and with the two-State vision that underlies the roadmap. We reaffirm President Bush's June 24, 2002 call for an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, through a settlement negotiated between the parties.

These are the excerpts that deal with the palestinians' obligations:

We call on both parties to take steps to fulfil their obligations under the roadmap, as called for in Security Council resolution 1515 and in our previous statements, and to meet the commitments they made at the Red Sea Summits in Aqaba and Sharm-el-Sheikh.

We view the present situation in the Middle East with great concern. We condemn the continuing terror attacks on Israel, and call on the Palestinian Authority to take immediate action against terrorist groups and individuals who plan and execute such attacks.

That's it. That's all that references the PA's responsibilities. There are more sections that deal with what Israel and the world must do for the palestinians. And there are endnotes:

We also note that no party should take unilateral actions that seek to predetermine issues that can only be resolved through negotiation and agreement between the two parties.

Any final settlement on issues such as borders and refugees must be mutually agreed to by Israelis and Palestinians, based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515, the terms of reference of the Madrid peace process, previous agreements, and the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah endorsed by the Beirut Arab League Summit. It must also be consistent with the roadmap.

That mutual agreement seems to mean that the Israelis will agree to whatever the Quartet, Arab League, UN, and palestinians mutually decide. I'm not seeing where it says that Israel has a say in the matter.

There are more words about what the UN will do to resolve the situation. Let's take it point by point.

1. We will act on an urgent basis, in conjunction with the World Bank, the UN Special Coordinator (UNSCO) and the Ad-hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), on the basis of a World Bank/UNSCO rapid-assessment study, to ensure that Palestinian humanitarian needs are met, Palestinian infrastructure is restored and developed, and economic activity is reinvigorated.

The UN has just promised to continue supporting the palestinians—on an urgent basis. There is no such urgent action to restrain terrorism.

2. We are prepared to engage with a responsible and accountable Palestinian leadership, committed to reform and security performance. The Quartet members will undertake to oversee and monitor progress on these fronts.

They are "prepared to engage" with a responsible leadership. There is none. Wait just a day or two, and the UN will declare that they will be meeting with Arafat, the "legitimate representative of the palestinian people." Oh, and "democratically elected," too.

3. We will seek to ensure that arrangements are put in place to ensure security for Palestinians and Israelis, as well as freedom of movement, and greater mobility and access, for Palestinians. We underscore the need for agreed, transparent arrangements with all sides on access, mobility and safety for international organizations, and for bilateral donors and their personnel.

"Security for palestinians and Israelis"—I was unaware that the Israelis were sending suicide bombers into Gaza. The above paragraph is also subtly insisting that the Israelis remove the checkpoints that stop suicide bombers from entering Israel.

As for "bilateral donors"—really? There are European nations that contribute to the pals and to Israel? Where, Bizarro Europe?

As Israel withdraws, custody of Israeli-built infrastructure and land evacuated by Israel should be transferred, through an appropriate mechanism, to a reorganized Palestinian Authority, which – in coordination with representatives of Palestinian civil society, the Quartet, and other representatives of the international community – will as quickly as possible determine equitable and transparent arrangements for the ultimate disposition of these areas.

Translation: if Israel demolishes the buildings she built on "palestinian land," the UN will create yet another resolution condemning Israeli actions.

4. Effective security arrangements continue to be critical to any possibility of progress. Palestinian security services should be restructured and retrained, consistent with the roadmap, to provide law and order and security to the Palestinians, and to end terror attacks against Israel.

What? They don't urge the palestinians to restructure their security services? They don't call on the palestinian leadership to remove the terrorists from their midst and the thugs from their towns? Let's read that sentence again:

Palestinian security services should be restructured and retrained, consistent with the roadmap, to provide law and order and security to the Palestinians, and to end terror attacks against Israel.

It sure should be. What will the penalties be for not doing so? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Finally, we reaffirm our commitment to a just, comprehensive, and lasting settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict, based on resolutions 242 and 338. We remind all parties of the need to take into account the long-term consequences of their actions, and of their obligation to make rapid progress toward resumption of a political dialogue.

I'm seeing a committment to a just, palestinian, and lasting settlement to the problem of Israel. I'm not seeing anything comprehensive or just regarding Israel's rights.

An appropriate coordinating and oversight mechanism will be established, under the Quartet's authority.

The UN has stepped aside many times in the past. No, thank you.

We call on all States in the region to exert every effort to promote peace and to combat terrorism.

Hezbullah infests Lebanon. Syria and Iran, to name only two countries, supply money and weapons to the palestinians. The Saudis and Egyptians supply men and materiel. There is no effort for real peace in Israel, only the effort to destroy her.

By my count, 803 words of the document dealt specifically with Israel, or called on "both parties" to adhere to the roadmap and other peace plans. The language of those words was specific and imperative, practically ordering Israel to adhere to the obligations of the peace plans she had been party to.

226 words of the UN statement dealt specifically with the palestinians. Of those, exactly 29 dealt with the issue of terrorism directly, and that was the paragraph that "calls on" the PA to take action against terrorism. 41 words dealt with the problem of the PA "security services" (that would be the terrorists that infest the PA "police.")

The rest referred to palestinian security (the subtext being Israel must remove roadblocks and checkpoints), and sending more international aid to the pals.

Is the world biased against Israel?

In a word: Yes. | |

Meirav was two

This is Rebecca. She is two years old. I see her frequently, usually every Thursday. Sarah and the twins and I run errands in the morning and have lunch in the afternoon. This picture was taken at one of our favorite spots in the West End of Richmond. There are a few more pictures of Rebecca sprinkled throughout this weblog.

Rebecca is two

Meirav was two. She and Rebecca have something in common. They're both Jewish. Meirav lived in a town in the Gaza Strip with her three sisters. Rebecca lives here in central Virginia with her three brothers. Rebecca giggles a lot, and dances a lot. I'll bet that Meirav giggled and danced, too.

Meirav was two. She was killed by palestinian terrorists while strapped in her carseat in the back of her mother's car. Meirav's body was riddled with bullets. The terrorists shot Meirav, her nine-months-pregnant mother, and her three sisters at close range. Then they ran up to the car and shot each of them in the head—to make certain they were dead.

Meirav was two. She is dead because she was a Jew who dared to live in "palestinian land." Amnesty International has condemned the murders. The United Nations has not. This lukewarm statement by the president of the EU sounds like it was written by Yasser Arafat's speechwriter.

"The killing of children does not serve any legitimate cause and degrades any purpose which it purports to advance," said Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, speaking for the 25-nation bloc.

Meirav was two. Her father has lost his wife, four daughters, and the son he and his wife were going to welcome this month.

When Hatuel heard of the attack, he left the school and headed for home. When he arrived at the Yad Mordechai junction, his father-in-law, Shlomo Malka, stopped him and told him the horrible news. Hatuel was unable to speak since he heard of the attack, and the grandfather kept crying, "Tehila, Hadar, Roni, Meirav, where are you?”

Meirav was two. PA radio hailed her murderers as "heroic martyrs."

Meirav was two. The palestinians celebrated throughout Gaza and the West Bank. Worse still, the murderers brought a video camera and recorded the deaths of the mother and children.

This is why I loathe them. This is why I don't believe they want peace. This is why I have slowly but surely lost any sympathy I once had for the palestinians.

Rebecca is two. She is Jewish. If she were living in Gaza or the West Bank, she would be considered a legitimate target by the palestinians.

Meirav was two.

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Regarding the Gaza pullout

Ben F. sent me this letter on his thoughts about removing settlements from Gaza:

Re the Likud vote on the Gaza pullout, there are good arguments on all sides, but I find most persuasive that of Rantisi, spoken one day before his death:

Also, when we force the enemy to leave any piece of our land without giving up any of our legitimate rights as a price for that, we consider this victory.

When Sharon failed to extract any genuine concessions from the Bush Administration, such as backing for transplanting Israeli Gazans to Judea or Samaria, the disengagement could no longer be seen as a redeployment, which means that it was nothing more than a retreat under fire, aka appeasement. When Secretary Powell spoke of the dismantling of settlements in YeSHa being an encouraging first step, that was the last straw. I wish it weren't so, but there you are.

That said, there are good arguments on all sides; it will be easy to find fault with any proposal unless and until the PLO is recognized as the terror organization that it is.

Nobody can seriously contend that the PLO has abandoned its goal of ridding the Middle East of the "Zionist criminals."

This is the take of a leftist but not dishonest Israeli on the 1998 amendment of the PLO Covenant.

And the PA Information Ministry, in June 1999, denies that anything at all happened in 1998.

Anyone with eyes knows that the PLO is not interested in making peace with Israel. Because the Roadmap makes a huge concession to the PLO--by demanding Israeli cessation of "settlement activity" and dismantlement of settlements while making no NEW demands on the PLO--the PLO has been single-mindedly pursuing an additional unreciprociated concession, the release of the terrorists now being held by Israel.

And today the Quartet meets. Not, heaven forfend, to discuss how to pressure the PA to end incitement (supposed to precede implementation of Stage 1 of the Roadmap) and to begin, with international assistance, to uproot the terror infrastructure. The Quartet meets to discuss how to put pressure on Israel to make unreciprocated concessions.

Also, when we force the enemy to leave any piece of our land without giving up any of our legitimate rights as a price for that, we consider this victory.

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Saudi Arabia: Jew haters from bottom to top

So let's see. Two years ago, the world was abuzz over the Saudi peace plan by Saudi crown prince Abdullah, put forward to the world by Tom Friedman in his New York Times op-ed column. To some people, the plan was a sign that the Saudis were ready to accept the existence of the State of Israel, and all they wanted in exchange was a palestinian state. Some of us (me, for instance) thought it was a load of bullshit put forth for purely PR purposes. I'm thinking I was right. Because this week, the Saudi crown prince is blaming "Zionists" for the terrorism perpetrated in their country by their own people.

"You all know who is behind it all. Zionism is behind it. It has become clear now. It has become clear to us. I don't say, I mean... It is not 100%, but 95% [certain] that the Zionist hands are behind what happened.

"What can we possibly do, they [the perpetrators] are our sons. They have been seduced, and they fell for it.

"But we say that Allah's will is everything. Allah's will is everything. But what we and you must do is to be patient, reflect, and act, because now even silence... Even one who keeps silent will be accused of being one of them. Even one who keeps silent...

"In the past, we have said that perhaps foreigners seduced them, and so on. But we are speaking of your sons who killed their brothers, killed those who protect you. The General Security apparatus protects you, your families, your children, and your sons. They got their boldness from Satan. They are Satan's helpers. They are the hangers-on of Satan and of imperialism...

So, these "Zionists," these sons who were influenced by Satan, what did they shout as they dragged one of the bodies through the street?

They were heard to be shouting “jihad, jihad.”

Good cover, those "Zionists." Everyone knows that the objective of Zionism is jihad. No, wait. That's the objective of Islam, especially Wahabbi Islam, the linchpin of Saudi Arabia.

Say. Is it okay for me to say how much I hate these people now, or do I still have to not hate the ones that hate me?

And if you doubt the hatred of the Saudis, read this opinion piece in the Arab News, the English-language newspaper that is published specifically to Westerners:

The point is: Israel IS the problem — by both choice and design!

It has inserted itself, like a virus, into every American Congress, administration, all the media, and election campaign. And it is not only the US.

Go to South America, Africa and Southeast Asia, and you will find Israelis training rebels or government assassins on behalf of the CIA.

Go to India, and they are supporting the Indian Army and intelligence in their standoff with Pakistan.

Back to Washington, and you find Sharon’s cronies in the White House, Pentagon and Congress dictating US policies regarding the Greater Middle East, which includes Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The war in Iraq is the brainchild of this pro-Israel group of ideologists; so was Afghanistan and just about anything and everything else related to the Muslim and Arab world.

[...] If Bush had been really candid during his last appearance with Sharon, he would have said to the world: “Don’t talk to me, talk to him. He is America’s real master. He is your boss.”

Our friends, the Saudis. Does anyone think that without sitting on top of a buttload of the world's oil, we'd even notice they existed? | |



Today's moment of kitty zen

Gracie, in full Worship-Me mode, on The Chair That Swallows You Whole (where she is not, of course, supposed to be):

Gracie at rest

| |

My buttiversary, and other things

Six years ago today, I quit smoking. I was up to about a carton a week, sometimes a bit more when I was really stressed. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done. I still miss it, but I'm not about to go back. I figure I've saved well over ten grand in the past six years, as a carton was about $27 when I quit (it's up to near $50 in NJ now, and about $25 here in VA).

It took me many attempts, and many years, to finally do it. The formula for me was evidently to give my word to someone else instead of only promising myself that I'd quit: My cousin and I had a deal. He'd go on a diet, and I'd quit smoking. He's still dangerously overweight. My lungs are pink and clean. I wish he'd find a way to really diet and exercise, as many of his relatives died young from heart disease. But you can't make someone do something they don't want to do.

Anyway. Today I'm inaugurating my "Get rid of the last few nonsmoking pounds, dammit!" diet. I want my flat stomach back. I can't look twenty again, but I can look thin again. Without smoking.

Say. Perhaps the title of this post should be "My ex-buttiversary"? Eh. No matter which way you put it, it sounds rather silly.

I have decided that Heidi cannot go on the vacation she was talking about taking this summer. It would entail her being gone for three weeks. I think Worf would die of loneliness, even with G. home. He's currently whining and crying and putting his head in my lap and otherwise trying to get me to pay attention to him. This is worse than being home and having Tig go beat up Gracie to get me to pay attention to him. At least Tig stops when I yell at him. Worf just sits there, staring out the window, crying softly. I told him Heidi's coming home today, but it's not working.

On the other hand, he's been looking at the cabinet where the dog food is stored. This could be a ploy to get me to feed him.

I am now wearing my denim shirt, because it's cooled down considerably and overcast and raining. Good thing I didn't let Worf put any holes in it. Oh, he is so begging for food now. Nope. Two p.m. is feeding time, and it's not quite noon yet. Deal with it, dog. Oh, great. Now Willow's here, too. Her tail needs to be registered as a deadly weapon. It's exactly thigh-height on me, and she whips it back and forth when she's happy. She's happy all the time. Petting Willow is a dance: You have to dodge the tail and duck backwards when she leaps up to lick your face.

It's good to have happy pets.

I will be happy to be home and back on my cable modem. Dialup. AOL. Gawd. These people are primitives! Primitives, I tell you!

Lair Simon has the latest and greatest Carnival of the Cats. It's getting bigger, and Glenn Reynolds linked it, too. I have to laugh about it. But not the Piper pictures. She's a beauty, Lair. | |

Be careful what you wish for

So, terrorists want Westerners out of Saudi Arabia. Do the Saudis? Yes and no. They come up with the greatest excuses for their terrorists. (Remember, on 9/11, they insisted none of the terrorists were Saudis, and that they were using stolen IDs. Funny how that turned out not to be true after all.)

RIYADH (Reuters) - A Saudi prince said Monday the killing of five Westerners in a weekend shooting spree was an act of madness and urged citizens to protect foreigners helping to develop the oil-rich kingdom's economy.

His comments came as Swiss-based ABB Lummus said it was evacuating all 90 foreign staff from Yanbu, where the shooting occurred, and that an expansion project it was carrying out for Saudi petrochemical firm YANPET would have to be put on hold.

"This is an act of madness which no sane person would carry out," Prince Saud bin Abdullah, chairman of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, said of Saturday's shooting, the first assault on an energy facility and the most brazen attack yet on Westerners.

Yes, an act of madness, by members of a terrorist movement fully funded by Saudi princes (or inspired by Al Qaeda) and encouraged in Saudi mosques every Friday. Try not to laugh out loud at this next quote:

"We must treat our guests well, especially since they came to help develop this country and participated in many of our achievements," he told Okaz daily. "Islam forbids such acts."

What Saudi achievements? The achievements of managing to figure out a payroll for all the foreign workers who came to your country, discovered and developed the oil fields, and made you rich beyond your wildest dreams? Pardon me while I laugh at the Saudis, especially in comparison to, say, Israelis, who did make the desert bloom, and are putting achievement after achievement out there for the world to benefit from—in between terrorist attacks.

Do you hear the naked fear in the Saudi voices these days? If all Western workers left Saudi Arabia, where would their precious economy be?

Britain's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sherard Cowper-Coles, visited Yanbu to insist that the attack would not cause "a mass exodus" of foreigners.

Wanna bet?

But behind closed doors, dozens of Westerners prepared to leave.

"It's not safe here anymore. I don't think I can stay any longer," said a Canadian engineer, walking inside a foreigners' compound with his young daughter.

Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general, advised Americans to leave the kingdom.

The U.S. advised Americans to leave Saudi Arabia three weeks ago.

So. What happens if the Saudis have billions of barrels of oil, but nobody to take it out of the sand?

Say hello, Russian oil fields. | |

Bloggus Interruptus

So here I am, trying to catch up on the news, innocently going through my morning routine. I've already fed the dogs scraps from breakfast and a biscuit each, and I petted and played with them for a while. I'm surfing away, when I hear Worf whining. I turn around, and I see this:

Worf with shirt

That is my denim shirt. It is one of my favorite shirts. It's a spring/summer/autumn/winter shirt. In the warm weather, it's an overshirt. In the cold weather, that, plus a t-shirt make a comfortably warm ensemble. Or worn over a shirt and under a jacket, it's that extra layer of warmth I need.

I do not need tooth marks, dog slobber, or fang holes in it. Excuse me, I have to go get my shirt. And it's going to be much more difficult without Heidi or Sorena to catch him as I chase him towards them. Dammit. | |

Nighttime noises

I've written about being here at Heidi's many times before. It's a different place, this house, even when it's only the dogs and me. Earlier tonight I was working on a post in the kitchen while trying to decide whether or not I wanted to sit in the rocking chair on the screen porch. It was raining just a bit, and the wind was in the trees. The owl was hoo-hooing from somewhere in the woods out back. The frogs were chirping away in the swamp. I didn't know frogs chirped until I came to Virginia. In my part of New Jersey, frogs weren't thought of as background noise, only fun things to catch in the mountain streams. My brothers and I used to find frogs' eggs in the brooks. We'd come back later, when it was tadpole season, and catch some and put them in jars. One of my most vivid memories is of raising a tadpole to almost-frog (it had legs and a long tail but wasn't quite there yet), then going down the shore with my family for the weekend. I came back Sunday night and entered my darkened room with a heart-stopping crunch. My tadpole had become a frog while I was gone, and had leaped out of its fishbowl. It took me a while to realize, at age nine, that I didn't kill the frog by stepping on it. It had been dead for some time. On the other hand, I've never forgotten that moment. Perhaps the guilt didn't disappear entirely.

Crickets are the noise of the night where I used to live. Crickets and, in season, cicadas. Here at Heidi's, you hear all kinds of nighttime noises, almost none of which are the annoying neighbor kind. Friday night I heard a barking in the swamp, followed by the sound of a large bird's wings splashing in the water, and more barking. Do foxes sound like little yip dogs? I know there's a fox in the woods behind the house, but I don't know if it was the fox hunting that caused the noises. I couldn't see through the thick brush, not from the house, and I wasn't about to go out and look more closely. The noises stopped, eventually, and I am left to wonder forever if those sounds were the fox, or maybe one of the raccoons in the swamp.

Then there are the trains. The tracks are a lot closer to where people live here, it seems. In Montclair, I could only occasionally hear the commuter trains during rush hour, and sometimes, early in the morning, weekend trains. I hear trains every night, several times a night, both here and in my apartment in Richmond. It's rare that I make it to and from Heidi's without stopping at least once for a train. And sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night trying to figure out why I'm awake, the sound of a train whistle blowing softly in the distance.

Tonight there is the extra added attraction of raindrops falling off the trees and roof. The storms have passed, but their effects linger. Rain on the roof is a nice nighttime sound, too. I think I'll stop writing this and go listen to it. | |



Good news, bad news

This isn't good. And note the headline that Reuters chooses to use: "Sharon Party Overwhelmingly Spurns His Gaza Plan." Right, it's the Sharon Party, not Likud. I just saw a CNN segment that actually paused to point out that Likud is only four percent of Israeli voters. But I don't think that's right, either. Anyway. That doesn't mean that the Gaza pullout isn't going to happen. It just means it's going to be a bit more difficult. This analysis in the Jerusalem Post says that the vote effectively doesn't matter, though a win would have been good for Sharon.

The Saudis are blaming—get this—"Zionists" for the latest Saudi terrorism attacks on westerners. Sure. Must be those Zionist members of Al Qaeda doing the shooting. Asshats.

The Syrian Dorktator is feeling the urge to sound impotent—I mean important—in public again.

Syrian President Bashar Assad warned Israel against carrying out threats to go after Palestinian terrorist leaders in Damascus, in an interview broadcast on Al-Jazeera Saturday.

Assad said any such actions would be deemed by Syria as an act of aggression against it, and be treated accordingly.

All right, it must be said: You and what Army, Baby Assad?

Hamas is looking to carry out "nonconventional" attacks, says Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. Here's hoping they're as successful at that as they were at protecting Rantissi from the missiles that killed him.

The Governnator proves he has what it takes to be called a mensch.

In an emotional, highly personal address, Schwarzenegger recalled his native country of Austria, where "intolerance and ignorance led to atrocities and heartaches" more than six decades ago.

"Because of that I want to do whatever I can to promote tolerance and inclusion around the world," he said.

"If only those cramped in the darkened boxcars could have a glimpse of what we are doing today... if only those in the camps could know that we have them in our hearts half a century later," he said.

Way to go, Gov.

By the way, Israel hit the top of the Google News charts again. Color me unsurprised. | |


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 is also a good bet if you've never been here before.