Shoot the NRA!

Via PowerLine, John Cobarruvias tweets: "Can we now shoot the NRA and everyone who defends them?"

Well, let's see. May you? Certainly, you have my permission. Can you? Well, you can certainly try.

Now let's think about this. The National Rifle Association and its supporters are, by definition, gun nuts. They are avid firearms enthusiasts who own and knowledgeably operate a wide variety of firearms.

So the plan is to shoot all of these people; using, presumably, guns. But what if the NRA do not agree to be shot? What if - heaven forfend - they shoot back? And that, alas, is the fatal flaw in the plan.


The Drain

Eric Allen Bell: The Drain
... The drain says that a killer and a rapist was the final prophet of "god". But that which is Infinite needs no such final spokesman. That which is Infinite, it thinks you, it breathes you. It needs no special vows, chants or hymns, as all of creation sings its praises. It is nameless and all names. You can hear it in every word and in the silences between each word. You can hear it in the sound of the breeze. You can find it looking out through your eyes.

The dark drain in the dry desert sucks in only those who seek to avoid knowing who and what they truly are. But if we remove the drain, if we were to blast it from the sky - would we remove also the condition in man which caused it to be built? To see the drain is to be free of it.


Republican Lesbians Come Out

New York Times:
In 1996, Kathryn Lehman was a soon-to-be married lawyer working for Republicans in the House of Representatives. One of her major accomplishments: helping to write the law that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Today, Ms. Lehman, 53, no longer has a husband, and no longer identifies as straight. And she is a lobbyist for Freedom to Marry, which is devoted to overturning the very law she helped write, the Defense of Marriage Act.

But Ms. Lehman is still a fervent Republican.

“I’m trying to break the stereotype that all gays and lesbians, especially lesbians, are Democrats,” she said.

Although the Republican Party has long drawn gay men who believe in the party’s message of small government and a strong military, Republican lesbians are a rare political breed.

“Oh, we’re like unicorns,” said Erin Simpson, 51, who cites “personal liberty” as a fundamental value and teaches firearms safety in Tucson. ...

GOP and Demographics

D. G. Myers at Commentary:
If the Republicans are going to be the party of married churchgoers, though, they need to change their tune on two key issues. They must drop their opposition to same-sex marriage, and they must quit obsessing over illegal immigrants. These two issues alone are almost entirely responsible for the Republicans’ image and reputation as the party of old white men.

What conservatives do not seem to grasp is that same-sex marriage is not an issue for gays only, but also for the young, who support it overwhelmingly, without question. And if the GOP really is the party of marriage, shouldn’t it be in favor of extending the goods of marriage to as many as possible? If marriage is everything we conservatives say it is, why should we want to deny its moral benefits to gays? The point is to stand for marriage, for an institution that promotes human freedom, and not to barricade ourselves behind the status quo ante. That’s how the party of freedom becomes the party of reaction.
I'm old enough to remember when Commentary, under Norman Podhoretz, published some viciously homophobic stuff. Commentary changed for the better, because it needed to change. The Republican Party needs to change too.


Saudi Arabia: Keeping Women In Their Place

Radical Islam: Tracking system monitors Saudi women.
A new tracking device monitors the movements of Saudi women. Any cross-border move prompts an SMS message sent to the cell phone of the women’s “guardian.” That means that any Saudi woman who tries to leave the country will be immediately found out by the man assigned to “monitor” her.

The “service” was intended to be elective for the guardian, but a recent incident showed that all men are being alerted through the new e-passport system, even if a man’s wife is travelling by his side.

The new system was publicized on Twitter by Manal al-Sharif, a well-known women's right campaigner and political activist, who received a message from a couple as they were leaving Saudi Arabia at the Riyadh international airport and the husband received a text message saying that his wife was leaving the country. ...

Sunday Morning Roundup

Israel: After Iron Dome, Magic Wand.
In the wake of the great success of the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which was able to intercept many of the rockets fired from Gaza at populated areas during Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel is now pushing ahead with the development of Magic Wand, which is supposed to be able to intercept short-range and medium-range rockets.

According to a report in the Boston Globe on Saturday, Israel will test the system in the Negev in the coming days. ...

Egyptian protesters torch Muslim Brotherhood offices.
As enraged demonstrators torched Muslim Brotherhood offices in several Egyptian cities, a defiant Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi defended his recent decree granting himself sweeping powers before a crowd of supporters outside the presidential palace in Cairo Friday.

"Political stability, social stability and economic stability are what I want and that is what I am working for," said Morsi. "I have always been, and still am, and will always be, God willing, with the pulse of the people, what the people want, with clear legitimacy" he said from a podium before thousands of supporters. ...

CSP: Andrew Bostom, Diana West and Stephen Coughlin discuss Islamic influence in US policy with Frank Gaffney. Video is 1h34m, at the link.

Bill Federer: Pilgrims faced Muslim terror too.

How to build a political social network. The key ideas:

User-generated opinions
Single units of opinion
User verification
Surfacing and sorting
Open, demographically indexed data

Read the article at the link.


Israeli Artists, Intellectuals Sign Petition Urging End to Nasty Stuff

'When I read a survey that claims that 84 percent of the Israeli public supports this violent and foolish campaign, I am happy that at least a few public figures are willing to stand up to this.'

84 percent of Israelis may support the campaign, but journalist Yuval Ben-Ami knows better. He, along with other brilliant military strategists such as celebrated playwright and author Yehoshua Sobol, award-winning writer and painter Yoram Kaniuk, internationally acclaimed author Amos Oz, filmmaker David Ofek, Batsheva Dance Company founder Ohad Naharin, have declared that

Our hearts are with you, residents of the South. It is the government’s duty to protect you, but its way is not our way.

Well, personally I'd go with the government's way, but that's just me. I'm not a writer, painter, choreographer, or filmmaker, so what do I know? Anyway, I salute these creative intellectuals for their enormous courage.

And by "enormous courage", I mean "unbearable arrogance".

For me, the really sad thing about something like this - and this is scarcely the first such instance - is that it devalues these artists' work for me. Amos Oz, what a writer - I'm reading "A Tale of Love and Darkness" now. No doubt these people imagine that their stature as artists lends greater weight to their political pronouncements. It doesn't. It only tells us that these people - who have built their reputations on their supposed understanding of life and human nature - aren't as wise as they imagine themselves to be.

Tel Aviv, Before the Rockets

I visited Israel last month, following up on last year's trip. As things worked out, I missed the rocket attacks by a month. I stayed in Tel Aviv again, and got to see a little more of the southern part of the city, and was able to make two visits to Jerusalem.


Mark Levin: Only Tea Party Against Tyranny

Mark Levin at Breitbart:
Reagan administration official Mark Levin said conservatives need to first overthrow the Republican establishment to more successfully take on President Barack Obama and the institutional left.

“We cannot get through Obama and the left until we get through the Republican Establishment,” Levin said, railing against establishment consultants who attack the base and politicians who know nothing of “Burkean reform” because they have spent their whole careers “clawing their way to the top.”

In a talk at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday with his mentor, former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, for whom Levin served as Chief of Staff, Levin said the Republican Party is, “devouring the conservative movement,” and the old bulls need to step aside in favor of a new generation of conservatives who are fluent in conservatism.

“It’s time for the old bulls to get out of the way and for the fresh faces who believe in conservatism and liberty and originalist principles to step up,” Levin said, criticizing those like House Speaker John Boehner for “yielding territory” to the left in negotiations.

Levin said the Tea Party consists of constitutionalists, libertarians, Evangelicals, and those who are against the rigged establishment, beltway culture that for too long has not embraced conservatism and, as a consequence, lost national elections (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney). ...

Israel Under Attack

Tablet has video of Iron Dome intercepting incoming rockets.

Confirmed hits near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv force reserve call-up.

Rocket intercepted over Ashdod, another strikes an open area in Gush Etzion.

IAF strikes home of Hamas commander Mohammed Abu Shamala.

Home Front Command says get ready for seven weeks of this stuff.


Post-Election Thoughts for the Right

B. Daniel Blatt at GayPatriot:
... we shouldn’t be hasty in deciding the way forward. That said, we’re already beginning the process of considering the way forward. Now is perhaps the time for consideration, to put ideas out there. Later will come the time for action, choosing which ideas to adopt and determining the best ways to put them into practice.
Instapundit agrees, and cautions conservatives against responding to the election by doing stupid shit.


Grapefruit Juice

My feet hurt, and my game left ankle is mighty sore, and a sweat rash is making my thighs sore. But I did get to Jerusalem, finally, and spent a fair amount of time wandering around the Old City.

And wandering it truly was. I had no map, no plan, and no clue. Oh, I did have the GPS on my Samsung, but the battery died (did I mention it was my Samsung?) and I was on my own. I spent the afternoon getting well and truly lost in the Old City. I never did find my way to the Kotel, and in fact I think I managed to visit every part of the Old City EXCEPT the Jewish Quarter. Let me tell you, wearing my "Srugim" T-shirt to Jerusalem didn't seem like such a clever idea after all.

But hey, it was an Experience, right?

Well, I'm closing in on 50 years old, and there are some "experiences" that I can do just fine without. Getting lost rarely adds anything worthwhile to my appreciation or understanding of a place.

But let me tell you about the grapefruit juice.

On my way in to the Old City, I stopped at a vegetarian restaurant on Jaffa Street and ordered their broccoli quiche. It was splendid, magnificent, delightful. About two-thirds of the way through my meal, a waitress walked by carrying a glass of what I took to be grapefruit juice, searching for the party who had ordered it. I cannot say with certainty that it was, in fact, grapefruit juice, but at that moment I was seized with an obsession with grapefruit juice. Foolishly, I left the vegetarian restaurant without ordering a glass, thinking the craving would pass. It did not.

I continued on to the Old City, and proceeded to get utterly lost. The whole time I was thinking: Where is the Kotel? Where is the Jewish Quarter? Where can I buy a map? And WHERE CAN I GET A GLASS OF GRAPEFRUIT JUICE?

I passed one stall that proffered various fresh juices, but grapefruit wasn't one of them. The vendor offered me bottled grapefruit juice, but I was having none of it. My heart was set on fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.

At long last, after a tedious hour or more of blundering around the shops and stalls, I came upon an Arab selling fresh-squeezed juices. I soon learned that grapefruit juice was available on tap. My exultation was unbounded.

He was a friendly, balding guy in his fifties. He asked if I was from America; I said yes. He asked what state, I said California. He flashed a smile. Where in California? San Francisco, I said. Oh, the Bay Area! he said; it's beautiful there. It emerged that he had grown up in Riverside County in southern California. He missed the area and was hoping to go back soon.

For that brief moment, we were not a Jew and an Arab in the Middle East, but Americans talking about home.

He handed me the cup of the precious elixir and I asked him the price. Twenty shekels, he said. I produced the appropriate banknote from my wallet. "Ashroon," I said, "shukran." He smiled broadly. "Afwan," he replied.

That grapefruit juice tasted good. I continued my drunkard's walk around the Old City, drinking the pulpy, sour, delicious stuff until the straw made slurpy noises at the bottom of the cup.

Eventually, with the daylight fading, I somehow stumbled my way to one of the gates. I don't know which one it was, but it was on the eastern side, which for me is quite literally the Wrong Side Of Town. I found my way back to Jaffa Street, and followed the rails back to the Tachana Merkazit to catch the 405 back to Tel Aviv.

EAB Censored on CAIR


Travel Update

I'm still in Tel Aviv, and will be here for about another week. Posting may be sporadic for a bit, but I will be posting pictures and narrative soon.

And no, I have not been following the Obama / Romney debates.


Tel Aviv and Hebrew Ham

After my last trip to Israel, I promised myself that I wouldn't let more than a year go by before doing it again. That was last November, this is October, and here I am.

I'm staying at a decent, budget hotel on Allenby Street in southern Tel Aviv, and I'm upstairs from a bar and two pizza shops. I get a kick out of this area because it's so much the opposite from the pictures of Israel that you see in tourist guides. Anyway, I'm not far from the bus station, and I expect I'll catch the 405 to Jerusalem in the next couple of days.

I've been sleeping intermittently since about 6pm. They had some loud music downstairs around 1 or 2am, I think the cops made them turn it down.

Yesterday afternoon I came back from picking up some basic groceries at the AM:PM, and found the power in my room was out. The hot, muggy weather must have been making my air conditioner work overtime. I went down to the desk clerk and complained, "Ein li chashmal!" (Apparently I'm fated to suffer electrical problems in Israel.) She found the circuit breaker and got my lights back on. "Todah!" I called over my shoulder as I went inside.

I'm feeling a LOT more comfortable getting around in Hebrew, this time around. Ate breakfast at the nearby cafe, on the hotel's voucher, then went back there for dinner. The waitress handed me an all-Hebrew menu so I really felt like a native. It's not a kosher place and I'm pretty sure Heh-Aleph-Mem spells "ham" (which figured prominently on most of the items), so I ended up getting a green salad, and that was pretty good.

It's probably safe to say there's not much that goes on in this neighborhood that's kosher, but if I can find a place that's K, or vegetarian, it'll make my life easier. Burger Ranch isn't vegetarian but it is K, and I'm thinking of checking it out. I'm going into carnivore mode for this trip.

But, no ham. Even if the menu is in Hebrew.


The Second Conversation

There's the kind of conversation I prefer to have; and then there's the kind of conversation we sometimes have to have.

If you're like me, you prefer to exchange ideas with reasonable people who generally share a similar worldview, even if you don't always agree on the details. You enjoy working through the questions of premises, logic, and values that make up a civilized debate.

But there's another kind of conversation going on. It's the conversation that's imposed on us by people who don't believe in the free exchange of ideas. If you're used to being able to speak and argue freely, you might be caught off guard, because free speech is something we can easily come to take for granted.

This is a conversation that calls for less subtlety and more nerve. It's a conversation where you have to be willing to tell people exactly the thing they don't want to hear. In this kind of conversation, success is measured not by how much approval you win from other people, but by your willingness to speak even when others disapprove.


This week some startling new advertising posters appeared on the sides of buses in San Francisco, where I live. They read:





That's it. This is not a slur against any religion or nationality, nor it is a call to violence. But it is a response to those who have called for holy war, and it is a defense of a nation whose enemies do indeed behave as savages.

The ads are from the American Freedom Defense Initiative. AFDI is led by Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs. Pamela's style is not mine, and I have not always agreed with her in the past. But she understands something very important here. She understands the second conversation.

'I can’t imagine anyone (especially anyone whose mind is not already made up) reading this ad and concluding anything other than “some parts of the pro-Israel lobby seem like a bunch of d*cks.”' This is the most accurate sentence in Adam Chandler's piece in Tablet in which Chandler explains that "Pamela Geller's new ad is actually anti-Israel".

But here, Chandler is exactly right; in fact, that is the whole point of the campaign. Chandler cannot imagine living in a world where parties to a dispute do not sit down - like "civilized men" - and thoughtfully work out their differences.

Some of us know better. Some of us understand that there are always going to be people who don't like you, and it's a waste of time to try to win their friendship. Some of us are not losing any sleep if our enemies think we are "a bunch of d*cks." And that's why AFDI's in-your-face, no-bull ad campaign is brilliant, and is exactly what's needed in a place like San Francisco. These words are not an attempt to persuade the undecided; they are a statement of defiance to those who would suppress dissent. The words do not belong to the first kind of conversation, but to the second.


Andrew McCarthy is the former Federal prosecutor who put away Omar Abdel-Rahman, "the Blind Sheikh", for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. On August 8, McCarthy gave a breifing to the National Press Club, introduced by Frank Gaffney. The immediate topic of his address was the concern around the background of State Department official Huma Abedin, who has family and personal ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. But more broadly, he touched on the relationship between violent jihad and apparently non-violent jihad.

Explaining the threat that jihad poses to our freedoms, McCarthy said: "The non-violent jihad is called dawa, the aggressive proselytism of Islam. Dawa is leveraged by the threat of violence. The atmosphere of intimidation is what makes non-violent jihad so effective. It is what allows Islamist organizations to exercise such outsize influence on our policymakers even though Muslims barely register one percent of our population."

The threat of violence to suppress offending speech has been used to further the cause of jihad around the world. Sometimes the violence is directed against the author of the offending speech, as with the 2004 murder of Theo van Gogh and the ongoing threats against his colleague Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In other cases, the violence is directed against more convenient targets.

In the months following the Mohammed cartoons published in the Danish newspaper Jyllends-Posten in 2005, Muslim riots across the Islamic world led to over 100 deaths. Is Flemming Rose, JP's editor, responsible for those deaths? Or Kurt Westergaard, who penned the iconic "bomb in turban" image of Mohammed? What about Terry Jones, the Florida preacher whose mere threat to burn Korans was followed by riots that claimed 20 lives?

Already at least one person has pre-emptively decided to blame the act of any violent fanatic on the San Francisco bus ads. In a comment to the San Francisco Examiner article, Steve P. declares, "'The insulting "ads", words, make San Francisco more dangerous. … Leaving those words on a MUNI bus, or any City & County property sanctions ANY LIFE LOST OVER THIS IN THIS CITY."

Like the abusive spouse who says "Look what you made me do!", such people shift the blame for violence away from those who commit it and advocate it.


Maybe you don't want to be associated with Pamela Geller because she's loud, and she's aggressive, and she's … well, Pamela Geller. But if you live in the Western world and you value free speech, you need to be ready to have that second conversation. And that's what the AFDI anti-jihad ads do.

I support the anti-jihad ads. If it was up to me, they'd run on every bus in San Francisco for a year. You don't like them? That's your business. But my freedom of speech isn't your license to commit acts of violence.

There has been too much mealy-mouthed delicacy around the militant Muslim holy war. It is time to name jihad for what it is.

Originally published August 19 in Media Tapper.


BPE: Against Hate Crimes and "Hate Crimes"

Gates of Vienna:
Statement by B├╝rgerbewegung Pax Europa

OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
Working Session 14

Intolerance and Non-Discrimination II

Warsaw, October 3, 2012

“Hate Crimes”

BPE addresses the term “hate crime”, rejecting it. Hate is a very personal feeling, one that must not be criminalized One should be free to hate or love, as long as this hatred or love does not lead to violence, which in turn should be dealt with under common criminal law.

Bias is another feeling as well. One is biased daily, e.g. choosing to speak to one person and not another.

Not only do I reject being constantly accused of hatred, I am also wondering whether I personally fall under an OSCE “protected characteristic”. I am of the white race, Western ethnicity, I may or may not be a member of a religion, my languages are English and German, and my sexual orientation is none of anyone’s concern. However, I do feel threatened on a daily basis by gangs attacking “Western dressed” girls, both in my native country, Austria, and in the OSCE region. I fear for my daughter’s safety because of slurs hurled at girls like her like “you racist white bitch”, as is currently happening in many cities. ...
Read the rest at the link.



Around midnight or early morning of September 24, Monday, my email account was hacked and a bunch of spam messages were sent out from my email address. I changed my email password immediately, of course, and at the time I did not think any other accounts had been compromised. But I've just now discovered that Dreams Into Lightning 1 and Dreams Into Lightning 2 were also hacked. So if you're one of the two or three people who read this blog regularly, and you happened to notice a weird-looking post with a link in it, that's what it was. It's gone now.


Shabbat shalom, and happy new year 5773.

All hell is breaking loose now, but let's take some time anyway to be thankful for life and for the Creation. I'll return to regular posting next week. See you in 5773.



The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/11)[nb 1] were a series of four suicide attacks that were committed in the United States on September 11, 2001, coordinated to strike the areas of New York City and Washington, D.C. On that Tuesday morning, 19 terrorists from the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger jets. The hijackers intentionally piloted two of those planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City; both towers collapsed within two hours. The hijackers also intentionally crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and intended to pilot the fourth hijacked jet, United Airlines Flight 93, into the United States Capitol Building[2] in Washington, D.C.; however, the plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after its passengers attempted to take control of the jet from the hijackers. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks, including the 246 civilians and 19 hijackers aboard the four planes.

Bill Warner on Islam.
On 9/11 as soon as the second plane hit the second tower, I knew it was an act of jihad. I stood up, turned off the TV and I haven’t watched it since. In that moment it came to me that the rest of my life would be spent explaining the meaning of Islamic texts.

I sat down and reread the Koran, read the Sira (Ishaq and Al Tabari), read the Hadith (Bukhari and Muslim). These are the absolute foundational texts of Islam, the source code, the DNA. I was following Sun Tzu’s advice; know your enemy and attack your enemy’s strategy.

My attack was to reveal the Koran, Sira and Hadith in a rational form that was easy to read. This became the Trilogy Project. I assembled a team of volunteers and paid writers and editors. From the beginning, I knew that it was the political aspect of Islam that offered the only chance of success. The religious aspect has too much misunderstood protection of the First Amendment. ...



I will be taking a break from posting for a couple of weeks. See you soon.


Australian judge: "We call that gap 'freedom'"

THE idea sharia could operate as part of Australian law was ''misconceived'' and minority practices that offend moral standards should be abandoned, the former High Court judge Sir Gerard Brennan said last night. ...

''The democratic principle prescribes that the culture of the majority is determinative of the legal structure,'' he said. In Islamic law, he said - quoting the president of the Abu Dhabi Supreme Court - customs and legal reasoning had to agree with the Koran. But in Australian common law there was a gap between the requirement of the law and individual moral standards.

''We call that gap 'freedom' and it allows Australian law to protect the cultural moral values of our minorities,'' he said....
Read the rest at the link, for Sir Gerard's understanding of the proper meaning of a multicultural society.

B*tch, please. It's the economy.

Gay voters mainly focused on economy, poll finds.
Much like the general populace, LGBT voters care about the economy, unemployment, and healthcare. However, the study also indicates that Americans in general consider a candidate’s position on gay rights as highly persuasive when it comes time to enter the voting booth. When asked whether they would be “more likely,” “less likely,” or “no difference,” 49 percent indicated they would be “more likely” to vote for a candidate who supports legislation to combat anti-gay bullying and 48 percent favored a candidate who supports including gays and lesbians as a protected class in the workplace.

According to the survey, both LGBT and general population voters as a whole currently favor Barack Obama, yet 1-in-5 would cast a ballot for Mitt Romney if he held the same views as Obama on gay rights. Moreover, 1-in-4 would consider voting for other Republican candidates if the GOP held the same positions on LGBT rights as the Democratic Party. Said Kenneth Sherrill, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Hunter College,“This survey documents a political transformation of epic proportions. LGBT rights are no longer a wedge issue in American politics.” ...
Go to the link for the full article, and numbers. GOProud has more:
(Tampa, FL) – Last week, Harris Interactive released a poll of 1,190 LGBT voters for conducted for Logo TV. “This poll confirms exactly what we have been saying for years now – gay voters aren’t simply concerned with marriage – just like the rest of America gay voters, by a wide margin, believe that jobs and the economy are the number one issue in the 2012 election,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director and Co-Founder of GOProud – a national organization of gay and straight Americans seeking to promote freedom by supporting free markets, limited government, and a respect for individual rights.

The Harris poll showed that 32% of LGBT respondents selected jobs or the economy as the most important issue in deciding 2012 Presidential election vote. Only 6% of LGBT respondents said that same-sex marriage was the most important issue.

“The gay left would have you believe that the only issue that matters to gay voters is the issue of marriage – this poll shows just how out-of-touch the self-appointed gay leaders on the left really are,” continued LaSalvia. “The only gay organization that has emphasized the need to focus on jobs and the economy for gay voters is GOProud, which is why we are the only gay group to have endorsed Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.”

The Harris poll also shows Mitt Romney at 23% of LGBT voters. ...

It would be the shortest war in the history of the human race.

Lubbock judge says UN might invade Texas.


The Second Conversation

There’s the kind of conversation I prefer to have; and then there’s the kind of conversation we sometimes have to have.

If you’re like me, you prefer to exchange ideas with reasonable people who generally share a similar worldview, even if you don’t always agree on the details. You enjoy working through the questions of premises, logic, and values that make up a civilized debate.

But there’s another kind of conversation going on. It’s the conversation that’s imposed on us by people who don’t believe in the free exchange of ideas. If you’re used to being able to speak and argue freely, you might be caught off guard, because free speech is something we can easily come to take for granted.

This is a conversation that calls for less subtlety and more nerve. It’s a conversation where you have to be willing to tell people exactly the thing they don’t want to hear. In this kind of conversation, success is measured not by how much approval you win from other people, but by your willingness to speak even when others disapprove. ...

Read the rest at Media Tapper.


"This book is the source of all evil, and the real catastrophe."

Nonie Darwish at American Thinker:
Could this be the real Arab Spring? This is huge! The Muslim world does not have to blame Pastor Terry Jones anymore for burning the Quran or non-Muslims for desecrating it. They are now in shock over seeing a YouTube post of an Egyptian young man doing the unthinkable on camera: tearing up the Quran and putting it in the trash. ...
If your Arabic is rusty, go to the post for a translation of what he's saying. Hint: It isn't "Allahu akbar."


No Men Allowed at Daycare Center

Mail (UK):
A children's play centre has barred fathers from attending with their children and is now facing an investigation by equality watchdogs.

Kids Go Wild is believed to be the first such play centre in the country to introduce a ‘women only’ policy – which also bans boys over the age of nine.

Bosses at the centre, which opened less than a fortnight ago, claim the policy was instigated for ‘cultural reasons’ and was in the interests of the ‘predominantly Asian’ local community. ...

Quote of the Day

From Eric Allen Bell at Facebook:
Why are civilized countries in the West having to pour money into "helping" Islam to be less savage? Have we seen a return on this investment? Why do we set the bar so low for this group? Why is it our responsibility to foot the bill to help train "moderate Imams" when it would make more sense instead to enforce our laws, concerning treason and sedition?


New Piece in Media Tapper

I've had the honor of being added to the list of contributors to Media Tapper. My first article is here:

Jihad, Counter-Jihad, and Why You Should Care


Hard Questions for the Obama Administration

What is the capital of Israel?

Journalist: "Could you just give us an answer?"

Will the Department of Justice permit free speech?

Rep. Trent Franks (AZ): "Here's my proposal. I'm asking you to answer a question."

Economist on Jews

The Economist's David Landau finds the world's Jews "alive and well":
JUDAISM IS FLOURISHING, both in Israel, where 43% of the world’s Jews now live, and throughout the Jewish diaspora. The Jews as a nation are flourishing too. Israelis, for all their problems, are the 14th-happiest people in the world, happier than the British or the French, according to a recent global happiness report commissioned by the UN. In the diaspora Jewish life has never been so free, so prosperous, so unthreatened.
Well, that's sure good to know. The writer duly treats of the Jewish experience in America and elsewhere; of Hitler's program of extermination that wiped out one-third of the world's Jews, and of Zionism, which after the experience of Nazi Germany "was vindicated, at least in its own eyes".

Then there is Landau's visit to "a non-Orthodox synagogue in suburban Connecticut", no doubt not far different from the one I attended as a young person. Landau surmises that its members
like most Israelis and diaspora Jews, would tell pollsters that they support peace and two states. The atmosphere there on a recent Sunday could hardly have been more civilised. Jews, Christians and Muslims munched hot dogs and coleslaw together before setting out to clean up the neighbourhood park. The rabbi spoke words of appropriate interfaith inspiration. In the library the synagogue staff had spread carpets on the floor for the Muslims to pray.

In the corridor outside this temporary mosque, two Muslim schoolboys read the Israeli declaration of independence: “We extend our hand of peace and unity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples.” It was displayed alongside a map of the region. “No Gaza,” one noted. “No West Bank either,” his brother added. A synagogue warden explained later that the map was “biblical, not political”.
Landau's account of the interfaith event (not much different, I expect, from the one I attended in Oregon a few years ago) is short on details. What was said by the speakers? How many of the Muslim attendees called for recognition of Israel by the Muslim world? What was the map, exactly, and what did the boys' comments mean?

Never mind, let's get back to the Jews.
The prevailing political sentiment in Jewry today is of aggressive defensiveness, a curious amalgam of victimhood and intolerance. Dissent about Israel is discouraged and often gagged outright. Among British Jewry, some 300,000 strong, “a positively McCarthyite atmosphere has been created,” says Jonathan Freedland, a political columnist. “People are frightened to say what they feel.” In America “honest discussion about Israel is largely shut down,” notes Arnold Eisen, a historian and chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, a rabbinical school in New York. “Some rabbis will speak their minds…but people don’t want to fight and there is a disinclination to argue about Israel. The right says you’re giving aid and comfort to the enemy if you say anything critical about any Israeli policy.” Given Israel’s power and diaspora Jewry’s strength and influence, that seems paradoxical.

Resurgent religious faith is deeply caught up in this. Nationalism, xenophobia and Judaism blur and merge. Jews find themselves out of step with most of world opinion, which heightens a widespread sense of apprehensiveness. Iran’s threats and nuclear pretensions provide a focus for these feelings. Diaspora Jewish leaders insist that Israel is misunderstood. They attribute criticism to anti-Semitism, which is rising again.
Well, I'm sure I can manage an intelligent comment on this, if only I can get past my aggressive defensiveness, victimhood and intolerance, nationalism and xenophobia.

But wait - did Landau say something about "anti-Semitism, which is rising again"? But I feel so free, prosperous, and unthreatened!

Maybe a look at the comments will help clear things up:
The real disgrace is the existence of "israel". "israel " is in fact the apex of colonisation , founded on a myth of a peopless land perpetuated in an ever increasing occupation. ... The similarities between "israel" and Nazi Germany are startling.

Judaism is enjoying an unexpected revival.Is this good news or bad one?In advanced scientific era people are returning to religion that mean some thing wrong with scientific advance.I have on objection Jews are embarrassing again to religion.My only request to Jews please abandoned your old psyche which teach you " An eye for eye and tooth for tooth'"this revengeful motto poured too much blood in the world. ...

Im not even gonna bother commenting on this "hebrew appreciation piece" since everything critically to orientals would be deleted.
Alive and well, indeed.


Armed Patron Foils Robbery

Awesome. Wizbang has the video, I'll just let you go over there and take a look.

OCALA - The Internet cafe patron who shot and injured two men as they tried to rob the business will likely not face any criminal charges.

“Based on what I have seen and what I know at this time, I don't anticipate filing any charges,” said Bill Gladson of the State Attorney's Office for 5th Judicial Circuit. ...

Samuel Williams, 71, who fired the shots, has a concealed weapons permit, according to the Sheriff's Office ...

And notice how FAST those guys took off! Notice too that the 71-year-old Williams was - to all appearances at least - outnumbered and outarmed. (The second intruder was carrying "a bat or something".) Henderson, who carried the gun, claims it wasn't loaded, and that his accomplice, Dawkins, was injured by broken glass when he smashed a computer monitor. (Real geniuses, these guys.)

But the thing that stands out most for me is the element of surprise.

Here's more on Henderson and Dawkins:
Hours after his release from the hospital, Henderson, who talked about the pain he feels in his buttock and hip, said the plan was to “barge in, get the money and leave.” He said “he never expected anyone to be armed.”
And I'd say the video bears that out.

Well, that's one way of looking at it.

Apart from the fear of other attacks abroad, yesterday's events are worrying because of the region's increasing lack of stability. Assad's regime hangs in the balance, Iran is allegedly responsible for killing Israelis abroad, and Israel is approaching decision time on the Iranian nuclear threat. In view of all this, the chances that this summer we'll be able to focus on the social protest and on drafting the ultra-Orthodox are dwindling.
Yup, I'd say that's probably a safe bet.

Honor Killings: Not Exclusively Muslim - But Overwhelminly So

Phyllis Chesler: 'Although the overwhelming majority of honor killings worldwide occur within Muslim communities,[1] one would not know this by reading the mainstream media. Fearful of being labeled "Islamophobic," the American press has given only glancing attention to the widespread, honor-related ritual murder of Muslim women in the Middle East and South Asia while treating periodic honor killings among Muslim immigrants in the West as ordinary domestic abuse cases. ...'

Read the rest at the link.


Courage and Desolation: "Where the West Ends" by Michael J. Totten

"Where the West Ends" is, at least superficially, a travelogue about the region straddling eastern Europe and western Asia, during the period from 2006 to 2012. The book is divided into four sections covering the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Black Sea. It's roughly the same region covered by Robert D. Kaplan about ten years earlier in Kaplan's book "Eastward to Tartary". But "Where the West Ends" is more personal, and it is astonishing. At times it surreally reminded me of China Mieville's novel "The City & the City".

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Probably most of us are guilty of throwing around terms like "the West" and "the Middle East" without really thinking too hard about what they mean, or where those places begin or end. If you want to understand what "the West" is, read this book to learn where it is, and where it is not.

There is a persistent feeling of loneliness in this book. It is the loneliness of communities cut off from one another and from themselves; but it's also the loneliness of certain individuals who refuse to be confined within the communal walls that are assigned to them.

There are harrowing stories of violence and cruelty, such as Berisha's tale of the expulsion of the Albanians from Prishtina and the ravaging of Krusha e Vogel. There is Ukraine's memory of the Stalinist "hunger plague" of 1932-1933. But there are also stories of courage and kindness, and of hope.

Three themes emerged for me as I read "Where the West Ends". There is the image of the lonely liberal, surrounded by a sea of increasingly hostile and violent factions. There is the conflict between old traditionalism and new fundamentalism. And there is the improbable eruption of pro-Americanism in the strangest places.

The Serbian film writer Filip David is one of those lonely liberals; so is the half-Serbian, half-Bosnian Predag Delibasic, who takes pride in having declared himself variously a Jew, a Muslim, and a Yugoslav - and claims that nonexistent nationality to this day. Perhaps the loneliest, though, is Shpetim Mahmudi, an Albanian Sufi mystic who must watch the gradual encroachment of foreign-backed Arab islamists on the grounds of his religious compound. His story is tragic.

It also points to something important about religious conflict in the Muslim world: that the conflict is often not - as Westerners sometimes imagine - a case of Western modernity threatening to extinguish Islamic tradition. Rather, it is instead a direct attack on centuries-old, evolving religious traditions by well-armed, well-financed followers of a comparatively recent fundamentalist sect. It is ancient moderation versus newfangled fanaticism.

It should not be news that there are places in the world where America is not well liked. Serbia is one of those places, as attested by the Belgrade taxi driver's curt greeting to Totten at the beginning of chapter 2. What's a better-kept secret, though, is that there are places that are enthusiastically pro-American. "Where the West Ends" visits some of those places: Iraqi Kurdistan, Albania, Georgia, Romania.

Taken as a whole, this book presents a spectrum of individual and communal relationships: nation-states new and old, enclaves and exclaves, secessionist and occupied zones, segregated and integrated communities, and individuals struggling - with varying degrees of success - to behave with dignity and decency amid environments calculated to breed brutality.

What we're left with is an admiration of the courage it takes to succeed. The Georgians in chapter 9 have watched Russian planes burn their forests and bomb their villages. They are angry with Russia, but they do not hate Russians. And Delibasic, at the end of chapter 2, says, "I don't hate anybody" - not even the general who commanded the prison camp where he was once confined.

Still, forgiveness is sometimes born of proximity. In the course of a conversation with a Romanian researcher about that country's Communist past, Totten is reminded of a militant in another place who said, "[They] don't live here … they live over there, so I don't have to forgive them!"

One final note: The values and traditions that we cherish in the West are by no means assured of continuance. "The West" is an abstraction that exists in space and also in time. If in the title you replace the word "where" with "when", the book is also a warning.

The book ends with an unforgettable scene of desolation. Read the book all the way to the end, to understand why the chilling final pages capture a part of Europe still haunted by many ghosts.

UPDATE: Thanks to Michael Totten for the link!


Jonathan Krohn: Beyond Conservatism

The Blaze interviews the young "ex-conservative" Jonathan Krohn, CPAC's poster child from the 2008 campaign:
“I’m not transitioned to another ideology,” he says from his mother‘s silver car parked outside his grandma’s retirement home. “I keep saying I really want to be myself. I don‘t’ want to be identified as this ideology or that ideology.”

Either way, he embraces Obamacare, gay marriage, and abortion — his social conservatism, he says, was the first thing to go.

He throws out sentences such as “when I was conservative,“ and says ”my views are a lot more liberal than they are conservative.“ He slips in phrases like ”the ideological anger that comes from the right.” And if you point that out, he admits that it’s hard to describe his story without using widely-accepted terms.

“I see that, and I agree,” the 17-year-old, with black plastic glasses and slightly disheveled hair, admits. “My problem with calling myself something is I’ve had bad experiences labeling myself. And I feel that the problem is that if you label yourself you get locked into an ideology with all the trappings. You have every little thing you have to agree to to be a part of an ideology, you know?”
Do I ever. This is why I resist calling myself a "conservative" or "ex-liberal", even though most of my left-leaning friends would undoubtedly call me a "right-winger". (I use the term "neoconservative" in my blog header with a healthy dose of irony.) As I mentioned in my previous post, I think a responsible liberalism has an important part to play. And when your position is perceived as changing, people - especially in the media - want to read all kinds of things into it.

Go read all of Jonathan Krohn's interview at The Blaze. According to a certain narrative, Jonathan shifted "from right to left"; according to another narrative, I went "from left to right". But I think the truth is that Jonathan and I both went in a new direction - and we're not really all that far apart.

On Culture

I'm not going to bore you by recapitulating the debate over "multiculturalism", but I do want to link this excellent article from my old friends at Psychology Today:
My ancestors are from the violent, improverished part of Sicily. This gave me a dash of realism when teachers taught me to celebrate other cultures and sneer at everything American. I embraced this "multicultural view" for a long time, and even taught it to innocent youth. But I could not continue the dishonesty of excusing huge flaws in other cultures, while erasing all the good in American culture.

For exampel, a recent PT post Lets Eat, Drink and Grow Old Together, described the health benefits of the Sicilian diet and social system. This is true if you overlook the centuries of starvation and in-group murder produced by the Sicilian culture. I speak frankly because this my heritage. ...
By starting an argument with a Sicilian, PT made one of the classic blunders. But more importantly, Loretta Graziano Breuning reminds us that "the rush to idealize other cultures often leads Americans to a self-hate that is bad for our health."
I was shocked to hear the ways people from that culture rationalize and normalize child abuse, spousal abuse, and violent strategies for making your way in the world.

"Our society is like that too" you may rush to say. That's what was taught in school, and I absorbed it because I wanted to be "educated." But I always knew that life was more complicated. I was beaten by my mother, and I could see that "our society" treated me better than I was treated at home. I knew that we do not live in the nightmarish police state suggested by my college professors, who may not have experienced any direct violence. ...
She's talking about what some commentators have labeled "oikophobia" (if your Greek is rusty, that's "fear of the house"):
The adolescent rejection of home and its iterations (ethnic group/tribe/religion) is composed of many different strands; it is nearly, though not completely, universal. Adolescents in more traditional cultures and subcultures typically navigate through a more limited rejection of their parents and culture. The vast majority of adolescents come to terms with the compromises and limitations of their own culture and become full members by the time they have become young adults.

The Oikophobes have now established their own subculture in which adolescent angst and the repudiation of limitations is not only accepted but celebrated; imperfections in America are then the objects of Utopian inspired rage. ...
It's essential to recognize the difference between a reasoned, responsible, constructive critique of one's native culture (which liberalism, at its best, aspires to provide) and an irrational rejection of even the best aspects of one's heritage simply because it is not "foreign" enough. Knowing this difference matters, whether we are ordering lunch, or a land war in Asia.

Islamist Advance

Militant, radical Islam continues to make inroads around the world.

Nigeria: Raids on Christian villages.
Armed gangs attacked Christian villages in northern Nigeria on Saturday, sparking a day of violence in which 37 people died, the military says.

Dozens of men launched attacks on the villages near the city of Jos in the early hours of Saturday.

A military task force deployed and got the situation under control after hours of heavy fighting, officials said.

Muslim herdsmen were blamed for the raids, but their community leaders denied any wrongdoing. ...

Obama invites Morsi to US.
President Barack Obama has invited Egypt's newly elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, to visit the United States in September, an Egyptian official said on Sunday, reflecting the new ties Washington is cultivating with the region's Islamists. ...

Sudan constitution to be 100 percent Islamic.
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Saturday Sudan's next constitution would be "100 percent Islamic" to set an example for neighboring countries, some of which have seen religious parties gain power after popular uprisings. ...

"And we tell non-Muslims, nothing will preserve your rights except for Islamic sharia because it is just," he said.

London police arrest terror suspect.
London police have arrested a female suspected terrorist, the seventh in a sting operation carried out last week.

The 22-year-old woman was taken into custody on Saturday morning on suspicion of committing, preparing or instigating terrorism.

Five men and another woman ages 18 to 30 were picked up in London last Thursday on similar charges, according to CNN. None of the nationalities or ethnic identities of the suspects were released. ...
I'm not going to speculate (and I don't really care) about the "nationalities or ethnic identities" of the suspects, but I'm going to go out on a limb and make an educated guess about their religious ideology. This is not a belief system that promotes tolerance, open-mindedness, and acceptance of others. It's a fundamentalist, totalitarian cult that seeks to dominate the world by force and threats of violence.

CAIR: California Muslims Hold Law Enforcement Training Conference

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 6/21/12) – The Muslim American Homeland Security Congress (MAHSC), along with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and the department’s Muslim Community Affairs Unit, last week held a one-of-a kind training conference for Southern California law enforcement agencies.

SEE: LA County Sheriff Department’s Muslim Community Affairs Unit

The daylong conference, titled “The Muslim Community and Law Enforcement” and held at the IMAN Center, attracted more than 100 law enforcement personnel and featured sessions on dispelling myths about Islam and Muslims, community outreach and engagement and countering violent extremism. Participating agencies included the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Long Beach Police Department, Redondo Beach Police Department, Glendale Police Department, Department of Homeland Security, the National Counterterrorism Center and several other police departments. A message by Janet Napolitano, Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, was also shared at the conference. ...


Totten Interviews Francona

I gave it a mention in today's Morning Report, but I thought this was worth its own write-up here on DIL 1. My friend Michael Totten has an new interview with Rick Francona and it's well worth reading.
MJT: You lived and worked in Damascus for a while as a military intelligence officer. What did you learn about the Syrian regime that doesn’t come across in media reports?

Rick Francona: I’m pleasantly surprised at the reporting out of Damascus, especially given the fact that is very difficult to get journalists into Syria now. There are quite a few reporters with excellent backgrounds in Lebanon and Syria –people like you who have been on the ground in good times and bad—who understand the deep division in the multicultural makeup of the country.

A Syrian friend keeps me apprised of the situation from his point of view—he’s an Assad supporter, but is quick to explain why. It's pragmatic for him. He, like many in the country, fears a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood or some other Islamist group. The regime is adept at playing on the fears of the Shia, the Alawites, secular Sunnis, Christians, and Druze. None of these groups want to see an Islamist Syria.

The media has done a credible job in exposing the Baath Party regime in Syria for exactly what it is—a ruthless, authoritarian, corrupt machine that will do absolutely anything to keep itself in power. Look at the atrocities committed by the regime protection units of the military, the intelligence and security services, and Assad’s ghastly out-of-control militia, the Shabiha, the ghosts. It almost exceeds the bounds of the imagination. I spend a lot of time watching Syrian social media. It’s heartbreaking and sickening. It's also a testament to the courage of the Syrian people. They know what this regime is capable of, yet still they resist.

I’m sure you’re going to ask what we should do about it. I’m torn. ...
Go read the rest for Francona's comments on Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Balkans. He's also got a new book out on Kindle. It is Chasing Demons: My Hunt for War Criminals in Bosnia. Francona's perspective is immensely valuable, and his book looks great. Hopefully we can look forward to more books on the Middle East and the Balkans soon.

Site Update

Welcome to Dreams Into Lightning 1, if this is your first visit, and enjoy your stay. Please also take a look at sister site Dreams Into Lightning 2, where I post breaking news and my daily Morning Report feature.

I've been posting here on Blogger since April 2004. I started posting on TypePad two years later.

Currently I am working on expanding the size and scope of DIL 1 and 2. (This is a challenge as I am working full-time and co-parenting two wonderful kids.) Here at DIL 1 I'll be focusing on personal essays and commentary on the news, in addition to interviews, travel journals, and more. Stay tuned.


Sexual Assault in Egypt

Maya at Feministing:
Another horrifying sexual assault against a woman journalist in Egypt is spotlighting the epidemic of harassment in the country–as well as the risks lady reporters regularly face across the globe. The attack against Natasha Smith, a British student journalist working on a documentary about women’s rights, during the post-election celebrations this past weekend closely echoes the attacks on Lara Logan and Mona Eltahawy last year. ...
Natasha Smith:
But in a split second, everything changed. Men had been groping me for a while, but suddenly, something shifted. I found myself being dragged from my male friend, groped all over, with increasing force and aggression. I screamed. I could see what was happening and I saw that I was powerless to stop it. I couldn’t believe I had got into this situation.

My friend did everything he could to hold onto me. But hundreds of men were dragging me away, kicking and screaming. I was pushed onto a small platform as the crowd surged, where I was hunched over, determined to protect my camera. But it was no use. My camera was snatched from my grasp. My rucksack was torn from my back – it was so crowded that I didn’t even feel it. The mob stumbled off the platform – I twisted my ankle.

Men began to rip off my clothes. I was stripped naked. Their insatiable appetite to hurt me heightened. These men, hundreds of them, had turned from humans to animals.

Hundreds of men pulled my limbs apart and threw me around. They were scratching and clenching my breasts and forcing their fingers inside me in every possible way. So many men. All I could see was leering faces, more and more faces sneering and jeering as I was tossed around like fresh meat among starving lions. ...
Muslim Women News:
Sawfat Hegazy, the pro-Muslim Brotherhood preacher who gave the sermon at Friday’s gathering in Tahrir Square, physically and verbally attacked two photographers covering the day’s events.

One photographer is a French freelancer, the other is a staff photographer for Egypt Independent.

The altercation took place on the side of the stage near Mohamed Mahmoud Street, before the arrival of Morsy, who took the presidential oath and delivered a speech in the square yesterday.

The two women were standing with other photographers and cameramen in the area when they were approached by a man who claimed to be from security, who told them to leave the area. They refused, saying there were many other photographers standing there and they were within a safe distance from the stage. ...
Stop Radical Islam has more.


The Future of Egypt

'My friend is Egyptian, a devout Muslim, a patriot and yet she is preparing a plan B of escape, as so many others here have done, because she fears Egypt is turning into another Iran. ...'

That is MSNBC's Charlene Gubash on the changes she's seeing in Cairo. The analogy to Iran is not idle: she's describing a country that, in living memory, was free and secular. Soon it may be neither.

Gubash continues:
Many felt it was improper to take the oath of office in Tahrir Square rather than before the Constitutional Court. "It's basically very amateurish," said Hisham Kassem, veteran publisher. "He made lots of mistakes to the point you think he's going to be a trial-and-error president... making a promise to hand over Omar Abdul Rahman, the first man to attack the World Trade Center. He will never be released. He is just going to annoy the Americans now," Kassem said.

"[Taking the oath of office in Tahrir] eroded his legitimacy. If he is banking on the street, it's not very savvy, his presidency will collapse in a year if he banks on that," Kassem added.

Thomas Jocelyn at The Standard (via PowerLine) has more:
In a rousing speech in Tahrir Square on Friday, Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, told the crowd that he will work to free Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, aka the “Blind Sheikh.” Rahman is currently serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a follow-on plot against New York City landmarks.

Morsi’s call for Rahman’s return to Egypt was a curveball for all those Western watchers who are looking to brand the new president a moderate. At times, including during his speech on Friday, Morsi does use language that sounds quite conciliatory. But peppered throughout his rhetoric are troubling red flags.

Sheikh Rahman was a longtime ally of Osama bin Laden. The deceased al Qaeda master credited a fatwa authored by Rahman for providing the religious justifications for the September 11 attacks. Rahman has also served as the spiritual guide for Gamaa Islamiya and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, both of which are terrorist organizations that have been close allies of al Qaeda for decades.

Morsi’s call for Rahman’s freedom is, therefore, the latest red flag. ...

For more on Morsi's speech, see Al-Jazeera.

The thing I want to emphasize here is that the path to secular liberal democracy is not a one-way street.

Leap Second

PhysOrg has an update on when the next "leap second" will be added to the world's timekeeping systems.
A leap second will be introduced on 30 June 2012 following a decision made by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) earlier this year. This could potentially be one of the last ever leap seconds added, as a decision may be made in the next few years to abolish the practice.
So tomorrow will be 86,401 seconds long. Try not to panic.
Leap seconds are added to Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC) to keep the time scale from atomic clocks within one second of that determined by the rotation of the Earth. The time scale produced by atomic clocks is much more stable and reliable than that based on the Earth's rotation, and without leap second adjustments the two would diverge by ever increasing amounts.
That would be bad. Wouldn't it?
There is ongoing debate over whether or not to abolish leap seconds and allow atomic time to gradually drift away from solar time. For now, a decision has been deferred until 2015, but if agreement is reached then to abolish the leap second, the second added on 30 June 2012 could be one of the last.
Brace yourselves. But I've got to say, the arguments for doing away with the leap second sound pretty compelling:
Some countries have proposed that leap seconds should be abolished because of the difficulties they cause for systems reliant on precise timing, and the time and effort needed to programme them manually into equipment, with the resulting risk of human error. They also argue that the need for predictable timekeeping outweighs that for a link between civil timekeeping and the Earth's rotation.
I wholeheartedly agree. And while we're on the subject, maybe we can finally kill off Daylight Saving Time.


Congress and Economic Mandates

Orin Kerr at Volokh:
Under the Chief Justice’s opinion, real economic mandates are beyond the power of Congress. Congress can’t force action where there was none. Congress can’t say you must act or else go to jail, for example. The individual mandate is constitutional because despite the name because it’s not really a mandate. Congress called it a mandate, to be sure, but in practice it’s really just a small tax. And the enforcement mechanism is pretty light. So you really don’t have to get health insurance: You just have to pay the smallish penalty if you decide you don’t want it. So Congress lacks the power to say that you go to jail if you don’t buy health insurance. But Congress does have the power to encourage you to get health insurance by imposing a tax if you don’t, as long as the tax isn’t so coercive that it’s really more than just a tax. ...
Read the rest at the link.


Obama the Exotic

Why are the left so fixated on the idea that President Obama is being discriminated against on the basis of his skin color, his exotic name, and his putative Muslim religion?

I'd like to submit that it's because they are obsessed with those things themselves. There's something appealing and romantic there, and there's the added bonus that you can hide behind the charge of "prejudice" whenever the object of your fascination is criticized.

To be more precise about it, there's a hyper-vigilance for any hint of negative bias - but no awareness of the possibility of positive bias. The leftists will not admit to being enthralled, smitten, infatuated with those very same characteristics.

Obviously, that is itself prejudice, but they'll never admit it. To acknowledge positive bias toward "marginal" or "minority" groups would call into question the basic assumption of entitlement liberalism - the assumption that white Christian prejudice is so universal that it can only be countered by a compensatory bias.

It is obviously true that there still exists in America today, an element of the old, pernicious white racism and Christian supremacism. But I think it's also true that these things are in decline, and that there are other forms of discrimination that the leftists aren't so fond of talking about.

To acknowledge that at some times, in some places, there might be a positive benefit to NOT being white or Christian would endanger the system. So, for example, Elizabeth Warren's Cherokee ancestry may not be questioned.

But back to Obama. Where did people get the idea that Obama was born in Kenya?
Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. ...
Whether or not Obama personally wrote or edited the text of his bio in the 36-page pamphlet, he allowed the words to represent him.

Now, where do people get the idea that Obama is a Muslim?

Christian Demonstrators in Dearborn: What the News Didn't Show You

Via Atlas. These folks are no heroes of mine (their next stop is demonstrating at a gay pride event), but they're exercising their right to free speech. The response by the Muslims - and more importantly, by the Dearborn law enforcement - is instructive.

Eric Allen Bell, Global Infidel

If you're just tuning in, let me introduce liberal filmmaker Eric Allen Bell, who's the author of the blog Global One TV: A Blog for Mystics. In 2010, he started working on a film covering the protests against a large mosque under construction in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Eric initially took the side of the Muslims - but then something happened.
Eric Allen Bell, once a strong supporter of the controversial mega-mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has reportedly switched positions on the matter after learning more about terrorist attacks overseas, and reading books on Islam.

A fixture at court hearings and protests in 2010, the California native and self-described liberal even started making a movie about the situation called “Not Welcome,“ where he depicted mosque critics as ”southern Christian bigots,” in the words of the Huffington Post, before making the switch.

“Of course, Muslim Americans making up less than 1 percent of the total population in this country, the idea that 1 percent will arm themselves and take over is nothing short of paranoid and psychotic nonsense…” he said at the time. Now, he says the mosque is built on a “foundation of lies,“ and maintains there is both ”mysterious money” and a suspicious motive people need to be aware of.
Now Eric has a new site ... it's called Global Infidel TV. Go check it out.


Nora Ephron

Roger Simon remembers Nora Ephron.
It’s scary when people you knew and considered your (rough) contemporaries start dying.

I didn’t know Nora Ephron well, but we were friendly acquaintances in the 1980s when we shared the same agent and would bump into each other at parties. I even remember meeting her father Henry — also a screenwriter and director — at an Edgar Award ceremony in 1986 when I was nominated and lost. They graciously came up and congratulated me anyway. It was the best part of the evening for me.

Naturally, I followed Nora’s career after we drifted apart. How could you not? ...
Read the rest at the link.


In Norway, Da'wah Hits a Rough Spot

Remarkable video highlights the difficulties facing Muslim missionaries in Norway. Salient theme: People - and religions - are judged by their actions. Also, at 4:50, discover the insidious threat that is sapping the da'wa community's spirits.


The Edge

She is in love, love with the edge –
where thought falters thin,
where sun browns the feathers,
singes the hair on the head
and the knuckles, white from flapping;
wind dries the sweat and glues the eyes
open, like the eyes
that greet the dead,
meet the dead
over the edge.

At night, chasing the edge –
cut her wrists and drank herself white,
blood dripping
over the edge.
White blindness from headlights of cars,
mad dogs snarling behind the stars,
bloodless the stars sing,
and wind in her ears –
she is in love
she is in love.
- Stephanie McLintock


Oh, hell.

After 35 years and 1669 strips, Matt Groening to quit "Life in Hell".

The Last Jews of Tunisia

Michael Totten:
Jews lived all over the Middle East and North Africa for thousands of years, and they lived among Arab Muslims for more than 1,000 years, but they’re almost extinct now in the Arab world. Arabs and Jews didn’t live well together, exactly, but they co-existed five times longer than the United States has existed. They weren’t always token minorities, either. Baghdad was almost a third Jewish during the first half of the 20th century. Morocco and Tunisia are the last holdouts. In Tunisia, only 1,500 remain.

What happened? What changed? Islam didn’t happen all of a sudden, nor did the arrival of Arabs in Mesopotamia, the Levant, and North Africa. Both have been firmly in place since the 7th century. A far more recent cascade of events transformed the region, and for the worse: the occupation of Arab lands by Nazi Germany and its puppet Vichy France, the Holocaust, post-Ottoman Arab Nationalism, Israel’s declaration of independence, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

As a consequence of all that, rather than the Arab invasion or the rise of the Islamic religion, almost the entire Arab world is Judenrein now. And since the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Republic regime in Iran, relations between Arabs and Jews are worse than they were at any time during the entire history of either.

Yet 1,500 Jews hang on in Tunisia. The ancien Ben Ali regime kept them safe, as has Tunisia’s relatively tolerant and cosmopolitan culture. But what will become of them now that Ben Ali is in exile and his government is overthrown?

I met with Haim Bittan, the chief rabbi of Tunis. ...
Read the rest.


Did gun control cause the Holocaust?

Obviously not, but a disarmed population was a necessary, though not sufficient, condition. The shoah happened when armed Germans murdered unarmed Jews. That should not be a controversial observation.

Adam Chandler at Tablet brings his formidable moral, intellectual, and rhetorical gifts to bear on the subject. (Oh, I don't want to spoil it for you - go read the post in all its brilliance. It speaks for itself.) One commenter wants to know:
So his reference to the Holocause was bad why? Because you like gun control? Because the Jews were disarmed and he mentioned it? Would it have been ok if he was Jewish?
And I agree. And there's also this:
As a Jew, I think all Jews (male and female) should learn to shoot. I certainly do NOT think that Jews armed with hand held weapons would have prevented the Holocaust. But it would have raised the price of taking Jewish lives. More importantly, it would have served as a reminder for the generations to come that taking the life of someone bent on killing you is a good thing. Finally, it would remind us all of the skill and courage of many young men and women today who learn to shoot so that they can use their skills to protect us and our liberal democracies. They deserve not our pity and condescension, but our respect and admiration.


"If mounting occurs in the open water, the mating couple is likely to thereby sink to considerable depths."

And that's how this pair of turtles met their fate, and entered the fossil record, about 47 million years ago.


Is the veil a choice?

Maryam Namazie:
For those who are in love with the veil and keep going on about how it’s a ‘right’ and ‘choice’, here’s a photo just for you.

It’s of a ten year old girl being dragged off by ‘morality police’ in Mashad, Iran, for being unveiled. ...
Those fucking pigs. Go look at the photo yourself. And read the rest of Maryam's post.

IDF Armored Corps Moves to Southern Border

The IDF Armored Division has moved closer to Israel's southern border following a terror attack Monday on contractors building a border fence.

A number of Merkava tanks were moved closer to the border with Egypt after two Palestinian Authority terrorists killed 36-year-old Said Phashpashe of Haifa, a father of four ...
Meanwhile, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip exploded near Ashkelon.

Dear TSA

I am not your customer.

Via Instapundit.


Israel / Egypt Border Clashes

YNet: IDF troops, terrorists clash on southern border.

An Israeli citizen was killed Monday morning when terrorists infiltrated the southern border with Egypt. Israel Defense Force soldiers and terrorists are currently exchanging fire on the border, near Kerem Shalom.

The attack follows a few days of intelligence warnings.

Initial information reveals that a terrorist cell penetrated the fence along the border with Egypt and clashed with IDF soldiers. The exchange of fire is currently continuing. Communities near the border have been put on high alert. ...

Reuters: An Israeli citizen and at least one militant were killed in an attack on the Egyptian border on Monday, Israeli media said.

Arutz Sheva:
Reports indicate that a group of terrorists opened fire at a group of Defense Ministry contract workers who were working along the border with Egypt, near Nitzana. One of the workers was wounded and died shortly thereafter of his wounds.

IDF troops who were called to the scene began exchanging gunfire with the terrorists, killing at least three. ...

Meanwhile, IAF strikes terror targets in Gaza, and any headline beginning with the words "IAF strikes terror" can't be bad.

Reversions to borderline war? Or disaggregated bogeymen? We'll have to wait and see.

The Rain Is Water

The rain is water
from the sea
to the sky.
These rocks will be fossils,
my heart, thistles.
Only the sun consuming itself
will die.

- Stephanie McLintock


Fathers' Day Roundup

Well, I don't know about you, but I celebrated Flag Day by wearing my American Flag T-shirt (yes, made in the USA, it says so on the label!) to the office. It's been a holiday since 1777, which is pretty impressive. The Washington Post fills us in on lots more details.
Congress officially adopted the Stars and Stripes as the nation’s flag on June 14, 1777. The next day, Ross married her second husband, Joseph Ashburn. Her first husband, John Ross, had died during the Revolutionary War, as did Ashburn a few years later. Her third marriage, to John Claypoole, lasted 34 years.
I don't want to spoil the fun, so go to the link for the rest. The historicity of the Betsy Ross story may be dubious, but it's a great story anyway.

June 14 is also the birthday of the United States Army.

Fathers' Day nightmare, in two words: Lindsay Lohan. But hey, the paramedics were cute. #SabesQueTomasteDemasiado ...

As for my own little girl (she's four, going on 14), I'm helping her and her mom take a trip to earthquake-stricken Disneyland.

In case you were wondering, "Rock of Ages" bombed.

But back to Fathers' Day. If you want to know a little about my Dad, Ken McLintock, you can read his writing at Urban Renewal and his World War II memoir at Pacific Memories.

Anyway, on to the blogroll. Ace has advice on how to defeat a mama grizzly. Moe Lane goes down to Georgia, and I don't mean Tbilisi, with some infamous company. And via Richard Jeffey Newman at Alas, our friend Betsy Ross comes to the aid of those who want to fly their true colors proudly.


Separated At Birth

Atat├╝rk ...

... and Londo Mollari.



I want to write more on this, but I only have time for a short post now. I'm currently reading Merchants of Despair by Robert Zubrin. It's turning out to be one of the most important books I've read in a while. Zubrin traces the history of the eugenics movement and its connection with Malthusian thinking, and the influence of a certain pathological mindset that views humanity as a "disease" or "cancer" upon the earth.

This anti-human pathology is insidious and disturbingly widespread. There is, for example, Peter Singer who recently won Australia's highest civic award.

I'll write more on this soon.

Shabbat, and stuff.

For a few years I was a more or less by-the-book, practicing Orthodox Jew. I'm not going back there. It's just too crazy, and it makes me too crazy. My natural level of neurosis does not need any extra help. These days, I keep "ingredient kosher" but I eat (vegetarian) pretty much anywhere I like. Give up eating out, except in certified kosher restaurants? Not gonna happen.

And don't get me started on all the stuff around sex and gender.

But, Shabbat? It's been years since I really gave it a serious effort, and I find I'm missing it. When you first hear about all the rules for keeping Shabbat, you think, "ARE YOU PEOPLE OUT OF YOUR F***ING MINDS?" (It's OK. Everybody has that reaction.) And the rules seem weird and crazy. But I've come to appreciate the geekiness of it all.

For me, the key is in understanding Shabbat as an exercise in non-attachment. "The sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking." (Tao Te Ching, ch. 2.) "Therefore the way of freedom is not inaction, but to cease from identifying oneself with the movement and recover our true identity in the Self of things who is there Lord." (Sri Aurobindo on the Isha Upanishad.)

Shabbat provides a resolution to the problem: How to control that sense of attachment to the fruits of our work, while still living in the world? How to achieve non-attachment without renunciation? The solution offered by Shabbat is a very down-to-earth, practical solution - in other words, a very Jewish solution. We get all our "stuff" done in six days, and set aside the seventh as a day of non-doing. It is true that mainstream Jewish practice doesn't have a strong tradition of contemplative meditation; but I'd like to suggest that Shabbat itself is a subtle, prolonged form of meditation.

Another thing that sometimes gets overlooked is that the commandment to keep the Sabbath is also a commandment to work: "Six days shall you labor, and do all of your work ..." In fact, the verb "to labor" also means "to serve". And I've found that practicing the observance of Shabbat makes me more aware and involved during the week.

Then there's also a sense of liberation in keeping Shabbat - a sense of being your own boss. And I like that too - and I've missed it.