Monday, June 28, 2010

Contrary to what I expected

            Susan stopped halfway down
            The stairs to watch the sea
            And the seagulls diving in the surf
            For perch and the sun glinting
            Off the wave-tops right before
            They succumbed in confusion
            To a contrary tide.

            Her smile turned to a frown
            As she looked down into
            Its gritty churning
            And then to the rest
            Of the stair-steps
            Bent as she was toward
            Lying in the sand.

            I was once caught
            In such a tide.
            My first wife, Karen, watched
            As I waved for help
            Not taking me seriously.
            I had to go back out
            To sea to find another way;

            Which is what I've learned
            Thus far watching Susan smile
            At children chasing each other
            With sea-weed pods
            And digging in the wet
            Sand to hold up handfuls
            To passing gulls.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Well in that case

            I thought of the river
            Roiling around its impediments.
            How many times had
            It smashed its banks
            In frustration?  So I pulled
            The curtain to look
            At the mountains.

            Existence might not be
            All that it should
            But I recently
            Saw the cracks
            From the last quake --
            Stood astraddle
            Its current stillness.

            That afternoon
            While sipping espresso
            I refused to look at the curtain's flutter
            Desiring instead
            To see what
            Was left
            Of determination.

The Mysterious Race

The Days move too swiftly
To leap off and stand beside
The Road chest heaving
Watching them go
And whatever I might
Have known about them
Slides off in the wind

But when I count them
Just to hear a voice
They seem hollow
And tenuous.  I am
Quite sure I made
Them all up though I can't
Remember doing it

Or the trouble it must
Have taken -- to wake
Up every morning and make
The twists, turns
And uncertainties;
Then lay them out on each
Road I must have traveled.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ginger and Sage -- The cat attack

            The weather here in San Jacinto has been getting hotter, and we're in the midst of phasing out our trips to the river and resuming our late-night walks.  It is a bit ironic that in all the time we've been going to the river where there have been feral dogs, coyotes and other predators, my girls have never been attacked.  But last Monday evening they were -- right here in our neighborhood. 

            Insofar as our late-night walks go, I prefer farm roads, but that isn't true of the girls.  They prefer to sniff the places where other dogs have been.  One of their favorite walks is on Ramona Blvd.  It isn't much of a Boulevard.  It has very little traffic and the speed limit is 35 mph, but it is wide and has a decent sidewalk on the North side of the Blvd.  We see people walking their dogs along this Blvd. during day time; and the girls find it entertaining to sniff all the bushes planted alongside the sidewalk.

            We were well into our walk.  I planned on turning north when we got to Chase Street, but we never made it.  One of the bushes my girls stuck their noses into contained a cat; which went after them in a fury.  Things happened too fast for me to be sure which girl did what, but one of them flipped the cat end over end out into the street -- a toss of about ten feet.  The cat was neither injured nor deterred because she rushed back and tore into the girls again.  My thought was that perhaps it was diseased or demented and I considered kicking it, but after getting back to its bush it stood its ground and gave up her attack -- but she hissed furiously at the girls; so I pulled the them away and we went back the way we'd come.

            When I got home I had Susan help me inspect the girls.  I expected to find deep gash marks and puncture wounds, but found nothing at all.  There was no evidence that they had been wounded in even minor ways -- and no evidence later of their licking anything that might have been beneath their fur and invisible to me.

            In retrospect I suspect this was a mother cat and beneath the bush she was guarding was her litter.  If she had no vested interest in that bush I would think she would have taken off running once she was flipped out into the street.  But she returned and essentially chased us away.

            I know there are people who walk their dogs along this Boulevard during the day.  Does she go after all the dogs the way she did mine?  Or did she just have her litter, and were Ginger and Sage the very first dogs that approached her kittens?  Whatever the case, we won't be going back that way for a while.  I'm sure the girls would like to revisit the spot, but I wouldn't.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Leftists beware: Supreme Court upholds Terrorist Support Law

            A Reuters article posted at 12:34pm EDT is entitled "Supreme Court upholds terrorism support law)
            As was discussed in my recent postings, Leftists agree in a practical sense with the Islamists, aka "Radical Islam" which among other things practices "terrorism."  In recent discussions we saw how Leftists opposed Israel but supported one Terrorist organization (Hezbollah) delivering goods of an unknown nature to another Terrorist organization (Hamas). 
            The Left doesn't seem to know the difference between "notional" and "practical" support and thus might get into trouble later on.  They support Israel "notionally" (meaning theoretically) but support Radical Islam "practically" at least in their arguments. 
            The law bars "knowingly providing any service, training, expert advice or assistance to any foreign organization designated by the U.S. State Department as terrorist." ( ).
            Various terms in this law are abstract and need to be worked out in the court later on, but those challenging the law argued that it violated the "constitutional rights of free speech and association," so verbal support has been under consideration.  Thus, if Billy Blogblather supports Hamas, claiming that it is the duly elected party ruling in Palestine, he may still be in violation of this law because Hamas is on the State Department's list.  Blogblather shed practical tears for poor Hamas in Gaza (number 13 on the Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations) because Israel (not on the List) wanted to examine all materials Hizballah (number 16 on the Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations) wanted to deliver to Hamas.
            In a Pragmatic sense, Blogblather was providing a "practical" argument in support of two groups on the Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist organizations and thus liable to prosecution.
            In a L.A. Times article (,0,5090110.story ) we read "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said Fertig and the others are free to speak on their own on behalf of the Kurds. However, they are in danger of criminal prosecution, he said, if these advocates work with the PKK in giving legal advice.
            "Providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization — even seemingly benign support — bolsters the terrorist activities of that organization," Roberts said."
            Lest Blogblather argue that this is some sort of "far right" plot, let me point out that the aforementioned list was established by Madeleine Albright during the Clinton Administration and argued before the current Supreme Court by lawyers representing the Obama Administration.  Maybe my membership in the "far right" is in jeopardy here (in Blogblather's eyes), but I think both the Clinton Administration and the Obama Administration were correct in their opposition of Islamist organizations.
            But here, I suspect, is where Blogblather declares a pox on all American political parties and declares himself a died-in-the-wool Chomsky Anarchist.  Well that is what those on the Far Left like to do when their Democratic Party disappoints them.  Only a "revolution" will solve America's problems, they argue from time to time, notionally of course.  They have no idea what they want their "revolution" to accomplish in a practical sense.  They just know they can't stand America as it is and want "progress."  Not me.  I believe in opposing America's enemies and am heartened that the Obama administration feels the same way.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Should we in the West oppose Hamas in Gaza?

Billy Blogblather responded to Lawrence's note, "William James and the Leftist-Radical Islam Nexus" as follows.  After Billy has his say, Lawrence will comment bellow

Lawrence quoting Ken Timmerman in his posting in today's Power Line entitled "The MoveOn/Hamas Nexus":

"" An American communications firm best known for shaping the liberal into a national movement has tackled a new project: orchestrating an international anti-Israel campaign aimed at breaking the blockade of the Gaza strip."

Hmm.  I've never heard of Timmerman or Power Line so you'll have to forgive me if I don't take the man at face value..  So what is it -- is the campaign to break the blockade or to orchestrate an anti-Israel movement?   The two are very different animals.  Lawrence doesn't tell us what evidence Timmerman has for either assertion -- but who needs proof when you've got prejudice, right?

Lawrence continues quoting:
"" Fenton Communications, which has offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco, signed two contracts last year with Qatar to develop "a communications action plan for an 18-month campaign" aimed at delegitimizing Israel and generating international support for the Hamas-run Gaza strip, "

Lawrence and Timmerman may not remember, but Hamas is the democratically elected government of the Gaza Strip -- democracy can be such a bother, I know.

 "Fenton Communications...signed two contracts last year with Qatar...aimed at delegitimizing [sic] Israel..."

Now that is interesting.  Wiki tells us:"Qatar established trade relations with the State of Israel in 1996.[ In January 2008 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani in Switzerland, at the Davos Economic Forum. The existence of the surreptitious talks has so far been kept secretive by Israel.
Alongside Barak's momentous encounter, some sources have said that a senior figure from Qatar paid a visit to Israel in mid-January 2008 and met with Israeli leaders to discuss the situation in Gaza and the possibility of jump starting stagnant negotiations over the release of Gilad Shalit.
Despite Qatar's support of Hamas and its good relations with Hizbullah, Israeli leaders have maintained direct contact with the emirate. In January 2007, in his last months as vice premier, current President Shimon Peres paid a high-profile visit to the capital city of Doha.
Peres also visited Qatar in 1996, when he launched the new Israeli trade bureau there.
Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni also met with the Qatari Emir at a UN conference last year. In April 2008, she visited Qatar where she attended a conference and met the Emir, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Oil and Gas.
However, following the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, Qatar hosted an emergency conference of Arab states and Iran to discuss the conflict. The Hamas administration in Gaza, as opposed to the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, represented the Palestinians, undermining support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbass. Khalid Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and President Ahmadinejad of Iran urged all Arab states with remaining ties to Israel to cut them. In effect, Qatar, along with Mauritania, cut all remaining ties with Israel. The conference showed the rising Arab support for Hamas over Fatah as well as the influence of anti-Israeli leaders like al-Assad of Syria and Ahmadinejad of Iran.
In 2010, Qatar twice offered to restore trade relations with Israel and allow the reinstatement of the Israeli mission in Doha, on condition that Israel allow Qatar to send building materials and money to Gaza to help rehabilitate infrastructure, and that Israel make a public statement expressing appreciation for Qatar's role and acknowledging its standing in the Middle East. Israel refused, on the grounds that Qatari supplies could be used by Hamas to build bunkers and reinforced positions from which to fire rockets at Israeli cities and towns, and that Israel did not want to get involved in the competition between Qatar and Egypt over Middle East mediation."
So Qatar has had good relations with Israel, would like to reestablish them if only Israel (from their perspective) would stop their criminal blockade.  Israel, backed by the US, thumbs their nose.  So where's the evil Islamic conspiracy?  I just don't get it.

Lawrence comments on Timmerman's whatever:
"Fenton Communications and Hamas.  He thinks it more than a coincidence that Fenton also had a hand in shaping 

Oh really?  You know, God might not exact day labor, light denied, but surely He expects some modicum of effort -- become a piano turner, for instance.  I see no effort from Timmerman to justify anything, and unfortunately he appears to be logically tone deaf.  I believe that J. Edgar Hoover had Kennedy killed.  Can I prove that?  Don't need to, I believe it.  I am Timmerman, watch me grow!

"David Horowitz wrote a book entitled Unholy Alliance, Radical Islam and the American Left."

David Horowitz?!   Does this allow me to quote Marx???  David Horowitz, Christ in heaven!  Why not Glen Beck? or Limbaugh?  David Horowitz, please.

And while it may not be of interest to those on the Left, some of the rest of us might ask "what practical difference is there" between the "notions" of the Left and those of Radical Islam in regard to Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, Turkey, and the events surrounding the Gaza Flotilla."

Is this a serious question or just a rhetorical flourish -- the kind I like to pull off?  To begin: I don't know what "Radical Islam" means to you.  I have my suspicions though.  I suspect it's a replacement of "Communism",  it's the specter of a cunning, implacable enemy against whom we must all be on guard 24 hours a day.  No surprise that I would think that, nor that you would disagree.  But let us ask another question: what  the practical difference is there between the far right's agenda and fascism -- andd in more extreme cases, of Nazism?
     Likud is the democratically elected government of Israel,  Hamas is the democratically elected government of Gaza.  The blockade is about Israel's attempt to bring down a democratically elected government.  Apparently the far right doesn't really believe in democracy.  But as I argued just the other day, this isn't even about politics, it's all about Lebensraum (thanks for the spelling correction, Palma), ya gotta have room for the tribe.  Lawrence will probably not believe me, but I'm a very strong supporter of Israel -- but only because  Western Christian Civilization, of which I am (blessedly and disgustedly) a member, has murdered, raped, pillaged and otherwise pogromized Jews over the last 2000 years.  Through all that,  Jews have remained a remarkably coherent (but not cohesive) culture.  Their contributions as an ethnic group  to Western Civilization can reasonably be argued to be greater than any other ethnic group.  I do take exception to their bread -- that sucks.  And no pork?  Get real.  Nevertheless, following the Holocaust, us good Christians felt some guilt for being Hitler's willing executioners -- as well as that of all the Pope's and the King's and (lacking leadership) of our own dark hearts over the past 2000 years.  What to do then?  I've got it!  Give them back the Holy Land -- well, part of it anyway.  They should be grateful for anything, after all, they're just Jews. OK, then, that's decided.  But what about all those Palestinians living there now, who've been living there for quite some time now?  Like, uh, a couple of millenniums.  What about them?   Tough shit. We need to put this business behind us. Sacrifices have to be made, better they make them than we.  The Jews will be happy in their new home, albeit smaller than what they wanted.  All is right with the world, we thought.  A little paint, a little yard work, and all the guilt will be expunged.  Just when we had thought we'd made recompense for the past 2000 years, and had begun to feel good about ourselves, the shit hits the fan.    There was trouble, right there in the Holy Land.  Trouble with a capital T which rhymes with P which stands for Palestinians.  The selfish bastards didn't want to give up their  homes and land  -- not even in recompense for 2000 years of European butchery. -- you can't make this stuff up, folks, this is a true human interest story. 

            LAWRENCE RESPONDS:  Blogblather thinks that because Israel has a relationship with Qatar that this undermines the idea that Radical Islam seeks to destroy Israel.  Qatar has its Islamists but they do not predominate as they do elsewhere in the Middle East.  The tiny Emirates of Qatar, like Bahrain has better relations with the West than most of the rest of the Middle East.  As to Israel having a relationship with Qatar, it has always been Israel's policy to have a relationship with any nation that will recognize its right to exist.  Jordan and Egypt have been on again off again in that regard.
            As to Hamas being duly elected to rule Palestine, yes this is true, but I don't take the same comfort in that that Blogblather does.  I recall a debate several years ago with Omar K. who maintained that Islamism, or Radical Islam, was a minority view.  He argued that "Traditional Islam" was the predominate view.  Yes, he knew that Algeria elected an Islamist government, but that was, he said, an anomaly caused by unrepeatable circumstances.  I on the other hand argued that Islamism was much more widespread than he thought.  Yes, it has been and is being opposed in such nations as Egypt, but in other places it is much stronger -- Pakistan, for example.  Were it not for a series of military coups, the first Islamist nation to have nuclear weapons would not be Iran but Pakistan.  In an open vote in Pakistan, the Islamists would undoubtedly win. Seeing Hamas elected to power in Palestine tells me that Islamism is much more popular in the Middle East than Omar K. believed. 
            Now why Blogblather takes comfort in the fact that an Islamist organization was duly to lead Palestine, is interesting -- even significant.  For it is further evidence that Blogblather, as a representative of the Left, does agree, to all practical purposes with the Islamists in regard to the issues we have been discussing.   We can apply William James dictum to good effect here.  Blogblather "says" he loves Israel, but what he argues in a "practical sense" agrees with the arguments of the Islamists. 
            Blogblather, as the Islamists have done, slurs the difference between a "free election" and "Liberal Democracy.  They are not the same.  Hitler was came to power as the result of a "free election" but that wasn't treated as sanguinely in France as Blogblather treats the election of Hamas in Palestine.  France was alarmed that the Germans could elect the Fascist Hitler to power.  We of the West who understand and oppose Islamism are equally alarmed that Arabs in various Muslim nations could elect an Islamist government.  This tells me that Omar was wrong and that Islamism has more widespread support in Islamic nations than he believed.
            Blogblather couches his words much as the Islamists do, e.g., "Hamas is the democratically elected government of Gaza.  The blockade is about Israel's attempt to bring down a democratically elected government.  Apparently the far right doesn't really believe in democracy."   One needn't go all the way to the "far right" to find opposition to Islamism.  In the West, it is largely the "Far Left" that supports Islamism.  Most of the rest of us understand that they who adhere to the doctrines of Islamism are committed to the goal of destroying the West.  Blogblather uses ad hominem slurs to demean Timmerman and Horowitz.  I have read both of these men and they have more substantial arguments than Blogblather is using (if an "ad hominem" attack can even be called an "argument")  They have both, as I have, read the doctrines of Islamism and believe that the adherents of that doctrine are what the term implies: they adhere to the doctrine that Mohammad's Jihad should be continued, by any means possible, until the entire world bows its knee to Allah.  An election bring an Islamic group to power is very much an acceptable "means" furthering this end. 
            What is Gaza?  It is a strip of land that was conceded to Egypt after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.  The Gaza strip was occupied by Egypt up until 1967 when Egypt use it to build up an army there prior to the Six-Day War.  Israel is doing everything possible to prevent another such buildup.  Since Islamists now control the Gaza Strip, Israel is acting in its best interest to establish a blockade to prevent a military buildup there.  Those who oppose the blockade clearly do not have Israel's best interest at heart.  The Islamists and Leftists want Hamas and Hezbollah to be able to do anything they like in Gaza, but those of us who oppose Islamism and support the Western nation Israel in a "practical" sense and not just in a "notional" one, believe Israel is acting prudently.  The Islamist and Leftists do not wish Israel well.  They are using "every means possible" to oppose them.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

William James and the Leftist-Radical Islam Nexus

There is a posting in today's Power Line entitled "The MoveOn/Hamas Nexus": .  Ken Timmerman writes,
            " An American communications firm best known for shaping the liberal into a national movement has tackled a new project: orchestrating an international anti-Israel campaign aimed at breaking the blockade of the Gaza strip.
            " Fenton Communications, which has offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco, signed two contracts last year with Qatar to develop "a communications action plan for an 18-month campaign" aimed at delegitimizing Israel and generating international support for the Hamas-run Gaza strip, documents filed with the Department of Justice show.
            The campaign, known as the "Al Fakhoora Project," has a very visible Web presence that boasts of rallying 10,000 activists "against the blockade on Gaza. . . ."
            COMMENT:  Timmerman is drawing attention to a specific connection:  Fenton Communications and Hamas.  He thinks it more than a coincidence that Fenton also had a hand in shaping 
            There are many such connections and Power Line should perhaps have put quotes around a portion of its lead-in statement, "Ken Timmerman highlights the unholy alliance between the Left and Muslim extremists:"  David Horowitz wrote a book entitled Unholy Alliance, Radical Islam and the American Left. 
            When people on the Left are challenged about  connection, at least the people I've challenged, they deny that they agree with Radical Islam.  The fact that they happened to agree on certain points is mere coincidence, they tell me.  But I recalled that William James in his Pragmatism wrote, "The pragmatic method . . . is to try to interpret each notion by tracing its respective practical consequences.  What difference would it practically make to any one if this notion rather than that notion were true?  If no practical difference whatever can be traced, then the alternatives mean practically the same thing . . ."  And while it may not be of interest to those on the Left, some of the rest of us might ask "what practical difference is there" between the "notions" of the Left and those of Radical Islam in regard to Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, Turkey, and the events surrounding the Gaza Flotilla.  When one reads the Left and then goes to an Radical Islamic site and reads about the Gaza Flotilla, there is no "practical difference" between the two.  When this happens, when there is no "practical difference," William James says that "all dispute is idle."  That is, dispute about notional differences is idle when there is no practical difference. 
            Is this important?  It used to be -- at least for some of us.  During the Cold War, I knew many Leftists who regularly voiced the Communist "Party Line."  They denied that they were Communists and said that it was coincidental that they happened to agree.  After all, there was "right" and there was "wrong."  They couldn't be held responsible if the Communist Party Line happened to be right in certain cases.  Their responsibility, they told me, was to truth and they hadn't the time to worry about whether the Communists hit upon the truth or not. 
            The Left succeeded in legitimizing the Communist Party Line in the U.S. more than anyone ever managed to legitimize the Nazi Party Line.  There were serious social, if not legal, repercussions if one advocated the latter, but aside from the period known as the McCarthy Era (and not very much even then), the Left was in no danger if they voiced pro-Communist and anti-American views.  And they don't seem in any danger today when they voice pro-Islamist and anti-Israeli views.   A Leftist will be quick to argue that being anti-Israel isn't the same as being anti-American.   Insofar as the Islamist enemy has identified the West as their enemy and has identified Israel is merely one nation in the West, then there is no practical difference between a Leftist being anti-Israel and his being anti-American.  While Leftists are capable of quibbling about this, I have heard some of them being anti-Israel and anti-American in the same discussion.  So rather than look for notional differences between their anti-Israel and anti-American sentiments, it is better to note with William James that quibbles aside, there is no practical difference between them insofar as specific cases such as the Gaza Flotilla are concerned.

Israel, the West, and National Defense

            Someone, possibly Billy Blogblather, posted the following response to "'The Three Terrors', and the ongoing war against Israel": " Who cares, Lawrence?  They -- we -- are all just stupid little tribal peoples killing those outside the tribe because, well, because they're outside the tribe.  It's stone age warrior thought, but fought with rockets now.  I know you're bright enough to see through all this religious shit and nationality shit and manhood shit -- and recognize that no one's RIGHT.  We're all just astonishingly stupid tribesmen.  I spit on it all.  I spit on Christianity, I spit on Islam, I spit on Judaism.  They are all evil little tribes.  I recommend the UN give everyone living in the old Holy Land $10 K., plus 10 acres of Texas or Arizona land, and give them all  10 weeks to get their ass out of the "Holy Land", then to bomb that horrid, cursed land with enough nuclear material that it'll not be inhabitable for 200,000 years.  But, I'm sure that even after 200,000 years, all 3 tribes will still be around to claim the land belongs to them.  Seriously, folks, ya gotta love tribalism, it's the most tenacious damn thing in this whole  universe."
            LAWRENCE RESPONDS:  Blogblather raises some interesting points.  The first point I notice is the argument (which I shall put into my own terms and he may challenge them if my terms don't match his intention) that since there is no higher authority to appeal to, the Israelis and Palestinians have an equal right to the land.  The arguments of neither faction is "right."
            To begin with, I don't believe that "being right" is at issue here.  I'll grant that there is no higher authority, at least not any recognized by all sides, that can persuasively establish "right" and "wrong" for Israel and the Arabs. But is there any people anywhere in the world that live wherever it is they live, because they are right ?  I don't think so.  With very few exceptions people live where they live because they conquered the previous people who lived there.  And I doubt that the conquerors used the term "right" to back up their aggression.  They used some other term like necessity, revenge or lebensraum..  Israel is in a certain sense an exception.  They always had representatives living in the land even though, since 70 a.d. they were not the owners.  When Mohammad conquered the area in 630 a.d., the Arabs became the owners.  This lasted until 1099 when the Crusaders conquered the area.  The Mamluk's followed and ruled from 1270 to 1516.  After that the Ottoman Empire ruled the area, for the most part, until 1917.  The British ruled the area until 1948.  This outline is consistent with the way we humans have done business throughout our history -- wherever we have lived..   It might not meet Blogblather's standard of what is "right," but it meets history's standard of what is "human."
            As to the U.N. being able to invite aliens into Texas and Arizona, I think 1) the U.N. has no such power, and 2) even if they did, this would be very bad timing.  Arizona is cracking down on their illegal aliens.  That is, they are trying very hard to keep them out.   As to Texas, there is almost no public land there so not even the U.S. government can give acreage to aliens they import from the Middle East.
            As to the "tribalism" Blogblather criticizes, it may very well be in our genetic makeup.  We have always defended ourselves, our families and our tribes.  Is it "right" that we do so?  Again, I don't think the word "right" is the most appropriate word to use.  If it is in our genetic makeup to defend ourselves, our families and our tribes, then it just is.  Right and Wrong don't enter into the need to comply with this need, anymore than it would enter in to our need to breath or eat. 
            While it would be difficult to identify the gene that causes us to defend our tribes, it isn't difficult to show that every species, including our own, has a "survival strategy."  Survival strategies include the finding of food, procreation and for many species, self-defense.  Some species produce so many offspring they don't need a potent self-defense.  Prey species are good at running and hiding, but predator species, including homo sapiens, are good at hunting, fighting and self-defense.
            Humans take a long time to mature; so families are important for the protection and training of their young.  And anthropologists tell us that from well before the creation of written history, humans moved about in tribes.  A collection of families provided better self-defense than a family trying to survive in isolation from other families.  Blogblather might not like this, but it is a fact of human history and he is probably stuck with it.
            While Blogblather might not like the fact that tribes, and nations, defend themselves against each other -- and in some cases intrude into each other's spaces for one reason or another -- this is the way we have always operated.  
            Blogblather has in effect registered distaste for the human "survival strategy."  Perhaps he thinks it is outmoded and not "fixed" in human nature.  Perhaps he thinks mankind can "progress" beyond this "survival strategy".  I don't hold out much hope to Blogblather for any "progress" to be made over the survival strategy that homo sapiens has used from its beginning up until now.  Also, I have a bone to pick with Leftists who propose "progress" as a replacement for our human survival strategy, namely that no Leftist I've ever read has described this progress.  If there is such a "progress," Blogblather, then let's hear it.  Give us step, 1, 2, 3, or however many steps it takes, and let us see that it is a 1) practical and 2) superior to the survival strategy that has served us the hundreds of thousands of years we have been working our evolutionary way up to now. 
            In the meantime, it is easy for me to see that my own tribe (the United States) has a lot in common with other tribes embracing "Liberal Democracy."  It may not be true of every Liberal Democratic nation, but it is true of us that we have enough land.  We don't need any more -- as even Blogblather would concede if he expects to find a place in Arizona or Texas for all the contending parties in Palestine.  We Liberal Democrats fancy that we can live at peace with one another.  We are on the same side.  In Hunter-gatherer times groups of tribes banded together for one reason or another, so it is consistent with our survival strategy that we do so today.  We Liberal Democrats aren't simply "the West."  We include Japan, for example.  In fact we in the U.S. have gotten along better with Japan since World War II than we have with France, a Western Nation.   So it may be, to borrow the Leftist term, that we have "progressed" beyond the Western conglomeration of tribes and should be better described as a "Liberal Democratic" conglomeration of tribes.
            But in either case, whether "Western" or "Liberal Democratic" we in the broadest sense have a survival strategy.  Perhaps we could always afford, even in our hunter-gatherer days to support individuals who couldn't do the work of hunting or gathering.  And since The Banquet Years that Roger Shattuck refers to there has been an anarchic-pacifistic element in the West.  Large numbers of individuals have established that they personally will not fight if called upon to defend their nation.  We have seen this anarchistic-pacifistic trend especially in France, but it exists elsewhere in the world.  Given the nature of modern warfare, it is probably the case that if these anarchistic-pacifists work at other jobs in their given societies that those willing and able to fight to defend the common cause may be sufficient to the task.  We in the U.S. seem able to secure the "national interest" at the present time with volunteers.  Anarchists and Pacifists do no harm to the national weal, as long as there is a sufficient number willing to engage in the common defense.

Friday, June 18, 2010

"The Three Terrors," and the ongoing war against Israel

            There was considerable sympathy shown in various places for the Hamas controlled Palestinians living in Gaza after the Israeli "satirical site, Latma" produced "We Con the World."   According to the above, Power Line article, You Tube was forced to remove the "We Con the World" skit, but the group isn't sitting still.  Here they are with "The Three Terrors":
            Those who oppose Israel or favor Hamas aren't going to be impressed, but I have yet to hear any arguments that dispute the facts that are generally understood by anyone willing to spend the time and trouble to gain them.  Hamas controls Palestine, and Hamas is a terrorist organization.  Hamas not only employed "terror" as a tactic in the past.  It employs "terror" today.  The CDI (Center for Defense Information) has this to say about Hamas:
NAME: HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement)
GOALS: Establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel.
STRENGTH: Unknown number of hard-core members; tens of thousands of supporters and sympathizers.
OPERATIONAL LOCATIONS: Primarily the occupied territories, Israel. In August 1999, Jordanian authorities closed the group's Political Bureau offices in Amman, arrested its leaders, and prohibited the group from operating on Jordanian territory.
AFFILIATIONS: Receives funding from Palestinian expatriates, Iran, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states. Some fundraising and propaganda activities take place in Western Europe and North America.
[CDI'S] COMMENTS: Formed as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Various HAMAS elements have used both political and violent means, including terrorism. Loosely structured, with some elements working clandestinely and others working openly through mosques and social service institutions to recruit members, raise money, organize activities, and distribute propaganda. Also has engaged in peaceful political activity, such as running candidates in West Bank Chamber of Commerce elections. A Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) listed as "active" during 2000.
            LAWRENCE'S COMMENTS:  The CDI information is well known to me, but so many express outrage against Israel for assuming it.  So it is helpful to mention frequently that these are the facts.  Hamas is an Islamist organization which uses terrorism as a tactic.  The Hamas goal, seen above, is "Establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel."   They defeated Fatah "politically" to some extent as a result of promising to follow a "road map to peace" that would recognize Israel as an independent state.  They reneged on that promise however and renewed their resolve to accomplish their long-standing goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel.
            For centuries, the Jews were hounded from place to place.  Then during a series of brutal pogroms in Russia, Theodor Herzl initiated a serious movement seeking to establish a permanent homeland for the Jews.  Palestine at the time wasn't what it is today.  It was a large sparsely populated region controlled by the Ottoman Empire.   At the time of the Balfour Declaration and after World War One, the British Mandate for Palestine, Islamism was not the force that it is today.  The Arab strain of Islamism originated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928.  Hassan al-Bannah (1906-1949) was the initial leader, but Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) became their greatest promulgator of Islamist doctrine.  Hamas, the Palestinian Branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, wasn't created until 1987. 
            At the time of the Balfour Declaration (1917) there was no Muslim Brotherhood and no Hamas.  The League of Nations granted Great Britain its Mandate for the creation of a Jewish National Home at that time.  Note that the previous "owner" of Palestine was The Ottoman Empire, but it sided with the Germans during World War One.  It was only thanks to the efforts of Attaturk that anything at all survived.  The previous "owner" of the Palestinian region was no longer in existence after World War One, and Britain was able to fulfill the Mandate and establish the Jewish National Home.  In 1947 the United Nations gave its blessing, voting in favor of the Partition of Palestine and the creation of a Jewish State, an Arab state, and a UN-administered Jerusalem.  Britain established the Jewish Nation from a remnant of the Ottoman Empire, but once the Arabs adopted the ideology of Sayyid Qutb there was no possibility of their ever accepting the permanent existence of Israel. 
            What I have described is an outline of the creation of Israel and the enmity of Islamist Arabs, especially Hamas.  To ignore these facts and restructure events in terms of "humanitarian" need or some other modern Liberal concern du jour does no justice to the situation as it exists.   The Islamist justification for the Islamist eternal war against Israel is the same justification that they invoke for an eternal war against the West.  There is no strategic difference.  There is a present-day tactical difference, however, in that they are more active against Israel than they are against the rest of the West, but we in the West are enemies together with Israel against Radical Islam.  To side with Islamism against Israel -- as we saw recently when many in the West sided with Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel is potentially self-defeating.
            Lest any of this sound to untrained ears as belligerence, let me reemphasize that war has been declared against us by Radical Islam.  One can read it in the writings of Sunni Sayyid Qutb and in the equivalent Shiite Ruhollah Khomeini. 
            After we agree that it is the avowed intent of the Islamists to defeat all non-Islamic nations and peoples and establish Islam throughout the world, we can debate whether they can pull it off.  Many, perhaps most, in the West think they cannot.  But even if they cannot, they have been concentrating upon one tiny corner of the West, Israel, and we Westerners have ample experience in our own past to teach us how self-defeating it is go give up any single Western nation to an enemy.  To do so only brings the enemy a bit closer to the rest of us.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

BP tries to reassure investors

    This is an article from the New York Times "Business Day."  While it covers some of the same information we have seen, the change in share price, the investor loss of confidence, it contains some interesting comments, e.g., "Peter Hitchens, a research analyst at Panmure Gordon in London, said most analysts and investors in Britain are 'more relaxed' about the future of BP than their U.S. counterparts partly because of the geographic distance. 'We don’t have all the press coverage that’s over there and we’re further away from U.S. politics,” he said. “We have a more rational view.'"
            Hitchens isn't entirely on target.  It is after all the American coastline and not the British; so the latter's more rational view" is more cheaply held.  And why doesn't Britain "have all the press coverage that's over there"?
            Also, "Some business leaders on Thursday urged the British government to come the BP defense.
            "But Reuters quoted Prime Minister David Cameron as saying, “This is an environmental catastrophe. BP needs to do everything it can to deal with the situation, and the U.K. government stands ready to help. I completely understand the U.S. government’s frustration.”
            "Earlier, a spokesman for Mr. Cameron said the prime minister would be discussing the issue with President Obama in a weekend telephone call."
            Perhaps Mr. Cameron can instill in President Obama a more enlightened perspective.  The article describes several matters that could worsen or suffer if this isn't handled more carefully, politically, than it has been up until now, especially the search for more off-shore oil.  This is not a good time for companies like BP to think that drilling off shore is too risky.  It is in our interest that they wait until someone develops a viable alternate fuel source and have it up and running and successfully competing with fossil fuel before the big oil companies back off on exploration -- it seems to me.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Obama's criticism of BP hurting British pensioners?

            The above UK Telegraph article is entitled "Barack Obama's attacks on BP hurting British pensioners."  Apparently a lot of British Pensions depend on BP's value -- more than those pension funds directly invested in BP. 
            "City investors said the president was jeopardising the pensions of millions with his 'excessive' criticism of the energy company following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
            "Before the accident on April 20, BP was Britain's biggest company, with a stock market value of £122 billion. Since then, £49 billion has been wiped off its value.
            "On Wednesday, BP's share price fell a further 17.35p to 391.55p – representing a 40 per cent drop on the 655p price of a share two months ago.
            "Experts have said that the clean-up costs of the oil spill will run to between £10 billion and £20 billion but the biggest cost to the company is from investors dumping stock for fear of BP being further punished by the US Government.
            "Those fears have been heightened by Mr Obama's increasingly aggressive rhetoric towards BP, which some investors see as an attempt to deflect criticism of his own handling of the crisis. Last month, a White House spokesman said the President's job was to keep his "boot on the throat" of the company.
            "In the past week, Mr Obama, who insists on referring to BP by its former name British Petroleum, has suggested that its chief executive, Tony Hayward, would have been sacked if he worked for him.
            "BP's position at the top of the London Stock Exchange and its previous reliability have made it a bedrock of almost every pension fund in the country, meaning its value is crucial to millions of workers. The firm's dividend payments, which amount to more than £7 billion a year, account for £1 in every £6 paid out in dividends to British pension pots. . . 'Hit BP and a lot of people get hit. UK pension money becomes a donation to the US government and the lawyers at the expense of Mrs Jones and other pension funds.'. . ."

            COMMENT:  Whoops!

Israel's ambassodor to the US -- on Hamas and Iran

            Billy Blogblather challenged me in regard to what I knew about the Six Day War and I mentioned that I had read in 2005 read Michael Oren's Six Days of War, June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East.  At the time this volume was considered the best one on that war, but after saying that I wondered if there were now one better.  I did some checking and this is apparently still the best history of that war.
            As we know, Michael Oren is now the Israeli ambassador to the U.S.  His knowledge about the Gaza Flotilla, the activities of Hamas in Gaza as well as the likelihood of war with Iran may be unsurpassed.
            The above is the entire article posted on the Israeli site "Tablet," and I'll quote a several passages that bear upon what we have been discussing and comment below. 
            "The attention given the flotilla incident left Oren almost relieved to answer questions about the Iranian nuclear program. How long, I asked him, can Israel afford to abide by a process managed by the United States before it gets off the bus and decides it has to act alone against Iran?
            “It definitely is a managed process,” said Oren. “And we signed on to it. President Obama’s tactics follow a linear trajectory—first there was outreach, then compromise, and now we’re at the threshold of what we hope will be effective sanctions. We’ll see what the Russians and Chinese do.
            "I noted that there are many people, not only in U.S. and Israeli policymaking circles but also among our Arab allies, who believe it is too late for sanctions. Oren has doubts: “Even a whiff of sanctions spurred the Iranians to sign on with the deal the Turks and Brazilians offered,” he said. Nonetheless, the ambassador admits that right now it’s hard to know the exact signs that will tell Israel sanctions aren’t sufficient and that Jerusalem will have to go it alone. “I believe that President Obama’s position on Iran is far more muscular than is widely perceived,” he said. “He has said he is determined to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon and I do believe he is.”
            “A strong American disposition is an Israeli strategic interest,” said Oren. I asked him if Washington’s role in the region is changing, whether the United States has the same leverage that it did a decade ago. “It’s in the middle of a withdrawal from one conflict [Iraq], and a pledge to withdraw from another [Afghanistan],” Oren said, “and this is perceived in the Middle East with antennae well attuned to shifts in power. . . .”
            "Nonetheless, among Israeli officials like Mossad chief Meir Dagan there’s a growing belief that the White House is disburdening the United States of its involvement in conflicts, and I asked the ambassador if he believes that the process of unburdening includes Washington distancing itself from its conflict-prone Israeli ally. Even before the flotilla incident, Israel’s stock had seemed to be dropping inside the Beltway. Israel’s wars with Hezbollah in summer 2006 and Gaza in the winter of 2008 to 2009 alienated segments of the U.S. intelligentsia, including American Jews, who were flummoxed, they said, that the Jewish state did not abide by higher moral standards than other countries, including the United States. However, those same two wars left Washington worried that Israel can no longer get the job done. Once a strategic asset whose unrivaled power (coupled with unconditional U.S. support) kept peace in the eastern Mediterranean, Israel has become, according to Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and one of the pillars of the Beltway’s think-tank community, a strategic liability.
            "Oren disagrees. “We are aware that this is a certain body of thought in the Washington bureaucracies and the think-tank world, but it is not so with the American people or policymakers,” he said. “Israel is the only democratic American ally in the Middle East that can field a highly trained combat-proven army in 12 hours.”
            "Indeed, among other things, the Mavi Marmara incident revealed that the Turks are not the friends of Washington that they once were, leaving only Israel as capable, and willing, to stand by the United States as a reliable ally in the Middle East. “The U.S. can leave Vietnam confident that North Vietnamese tanks are not going to roll through U.S. cities,” said Oren. “But with the Middle East you’re not going anywhere because it will follow you—to Times Square, to the airspace over Detroit. Israel is described as the U.S.’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East. If the U.S. had an Israel in the Persian Gulf it might not have had to land troops in Iraq twice over the last two decades. Israel is the indispensable nation.”
            "Jerusalem may have a chance to remind Washington of the fact in the coming months. When I remarked that many Israelis are expecting war this summer, Oren made no efforts to dispel it as a rumor. “We are concerned about this,” he said, explaining that with sanctions coming up at the United Nations, the Iranians may once again try to spark a war in Lebanon, as they did when their nuclear program was referred to the U.N. Security Council in 2006. “We face a different situation than we did in 2006, and it is much worse,” Oren said. “Hezbollah has rearmed so that it now has 42,000 missiles that can hit Eilat,” Israel’s southernmost city. In 2006, the Israelis destroyed all of Hezbollah’s long- and medium-range missiles during the war’s opening salvo, but now, said Oren, “Hezbollah has hidden all of its medium- and long-range missiles under schools and hospitals. They internalized Goldstone.”
            "In other words, while it was widely reported during the course of the Gaza war that the Hamas leadership was hiding out in Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, Israel knew that an attack on a hospital would earn it the opprobrium of the international community. Even then Israel still wound up facing the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, commonly known as the Goldstone Report. For Israel, a third Hezbollah war is about cleaning up its backyard regardless of whether or not the Party of God’s sponsors in Tehran enrich enough uranium to build a bomb. The United States also has a vital interest in its ally disabling the asset of an Iranian adversary that challenges Washington’s half-century hegemony in the Persian Gulf—an interest that may or may not be more important to the Obama Administration than its efforts to seek rapprochement with the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims."
            COMMENT:  It is the rather common technique of the Islamists as it was of Saddam Hussein and his forces to take advantage of the West's squeamishness about the shedding of innocent blood.  Saddam Hussein installed many of his weapons under hospitals and schools.  And you may recall that a group of pacifists went to Iraq to become human shields against the impending American attack, but when Saddam's forces learned that they did not wish to die to protect any of Saddam's weapons, they were sent home.  There is speculation that since Israel is going to be blamed even when it tries its utmost to avoid collateral damage, that they may as well change priorities and give the highest one to the saving of Israeli soldiers' lives.
            While Oren gives no hint of a war with Iran, he thinks one with Hezbollah and Hamas likely: "When I remarked that many Israelis are expecting war this summer, Oren made no efforts to dispel it as a rumor. “We are concerned about this,” he said, explaining that with sanctions coming up at the United Nations, the Iranians may once again try to spark a war in Lebanon, as they did when their nuclear program was referred to the U.N. Security Council in 2006. “We face a different situation than we did in 2006, and it is much worse,” Oren said. “Hezbollah has rearmed so that it now has 42,000 missiles that can hit Eilat,” Israel’s southernmost city. . . ." 
            I have been concerned about the "pacification" of the West.  This process weakened Britain and especially France before WWII.  By putting a protective umbrella over Western Europe during the Cold War, the U.S. perhaps unwittingly fostered the feeling in Europe that war could always be avoided.  This process exists in the U.S. as well.  It had something to do with Obama's election even though he may be "more muscular" than is commonly believed by the pacifists who voted for him.  But what surprises me is that Israel has the same process at work.  Oren doesn't speak of it, but the Israeli soldiers of today (according to other reports I've read) do not measure up to the Israeli soldiers that fought, say, in the Six Day War.  Whether these reports are accurate is debatable.  As a Marine I often hear that modern day Marines can't measure up to Marines from "the old corps."  This is largely if not entirely meant as a joke -- something an old-time Marine says to a newly minted one.  And perhaps the same sort of thing goes on in the Israeli army, but the Israeli "war" against Hezbollah in 2006 has caused some of us to wonder if Israeli's survival instincts are as strong as they once were.  If as Lee Smith suggests and Michael Oren doesn't contradict, Israel will this coming summer be at war against both Hezbollah and Hamas, we shall see if the modern-day Israeli soldier measures up to the Israeli soldier of old.