Egypt: from the Mubarak rain to the El-Baradei gutter?

Muhammad ElBaradei, the toothless feckless nuclear watchpoodle that applied a “see no evil, hear no evil” policy to nuclear inspections on Iran, is now emerging as the opposition leader.And guess what? He’s been endorsed by the Muslim Brotherhood (simply called “al-Ikhwan”/”The Brotherhood” in the Arab street). Yesterday I quoted Barry Rubin as pointing out that “Muhammad el-Baradei, leader of the reformist movement, says that if he were to be president he would recognize Hamas as ruler of the Gaza Strip and end all sanctions against it. (See:,1518,705991,00.html)” Of course, Hamas is basically the Palestinian offshoot of the Ikhwan.

The Jerusalem Post also notes that the mood of the protests does turn anti-American and anti-Israeli of late. Jerusalem has wisely avoided commenting on events, but Fox News today interviewed former Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Gillerman, who basically expressed his support for the Mubarak regime as he fears that any replacement will be dominated by the Ikhwan.

El-Baradei is looking like the Egyptian version of Alexander Kerensky (“no enemies to the left!”) at best, and outright in bed with the Ikhwan at worst.

It is a measure of just how dysfunctional Arab autocracies are that Mubarak’s replacement by former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as an alternative strongman might be the least unpalatable of the actual alternatives. (Sure, a secular democratic regime would be the best for everybody, but this is looking like a longshot at this stage. I dearly hope events prove me wrong on this one.)



Egypt’s January revolution: Echoes of Russia’s February revolution?

At C2 we are following the events in Egypt with great interest. Egypt’s current regime is of the typical Arab authoritarian variety, and I can wholly sympathize with the desire of the Egyptians to give it the heave-ho. A loud chorus has been going up for 0bama to call for regime change in Egypt, which he so far has been avoiding. Yet none other than John Bolton (on Fox News), hardly a shrinking violet, reminds us that  there is one thing worse than authoritarianism, and that is totalitarianism. [UPDATE: the distinction, as defined by Jeane Kirkpatrick, is that while authoritarian regimes “merely” try to control and/or punish the behavior of their subjects, totalitarian ones  seek to control their thoughts as well.]

The Russians under the Czar figured nothing could be worse than the autocracy of the Czar. In the February Revolution they got rid of him, and good riddance it was. However, others were waiting in the wings, and in the October Revolution they grabbed their chance.

Historical parallels are imperfect, but will this be Egypt’s February Revolution — led by secular democratic groups — only to be followed by a takeover by the totalitarians of the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslemi)? And will Mohammed El-Baradei be the Egyptians’ Alexander Kerensky? Caroline Glick notes El-Baradei is rather chummy with the Ikhwan, just like Kerensky had a “no enemies to the left!” policy.

Isser at IsraNed comments on copycat demonstrations in Jordan, calling for reforms, lower food prices, and an end to the peace treaty with Israel. He sees an “encirclement” of Israel in progress, as the end of peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan will mean a solid ring of enemy states around her from the Mediterranean to the Mediterranean.

Barry Rubin, director of a Middle-East analysis think tank at Bar-Ilan University, is interviewed here, and is thoroughly worried.

It is tempting to see this as a revolution that will bring down the regime. But Egypt is not Tunisia. And while the demonstrations are passionate it is not clear that the numbers of participants are huge. If the elite and the army hold together they could well prevail, perhaps by removing Mubarak to save the regime. We should be cautious in drawing conclusions.[…]

So far the uprising has not been led by the Muslim Brotherhood. But it is the only large organized opposition group. It is hard to see how it would not be the leading force after a while. The leadership would have to decide that it is facing a revolutionary situation and that this is the moment for an all-out effort. But if it does so and fails there will be a terrible repression and the group will be crushed. It appears that the Brotherhood is joining the protests but has not made its basic decision yet. In the longer term if the regime is completely overthrown I do believe the Brotherhood will emerge as the leader and perhaps the ruler of the country. […]

The chances for democracy and liberalism are different in every country. Tunisia has a good chance because there is a strong middle class and a weak Islamist movement. But in Egypt look at the numbers in the latest Pew poll.

In Egypt, 30 percent like Hizballah (66 percent don’t). 49 percent are favorable toward Hamas (48 percent are negative); and 20 percent smile (72 percent frown) at al-Qaida. Roughly speaking, one-fifth of Egyptians applaud the most extreme Islamist terrorist group, while around one-third back revolutionary Islamists abroad. This doesn’t tell us what proportion of Egyptians want an Islamist government at home, but it is an indicator.

In Egypt, 82 percent want stoning for those who commit adultery; 77 percent would like to see whippings and hands cut off for robbery; and 84 percent favor the death penalty for any Muslim who changes his religion.

Asked if they supported “modernizers” or “Islamists” only 27 percent said modernizers while 59 percent said Islamists:

Is this meaningless? Last December 20 I wrote that these “horrifying figures in Egypt…one day might be cited to explain an Islamist revolution there….What this analysis also shows is that a future Islamist revolution in Egypt and Jordan is quite possible.

Let us hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

/Thanks to littleoldlady, Realwest, Fenway, Marty, and the other good folks at C2 with whom I was discussing this!

UPDATE: some links culled from my Twitter feed:

  • Eli Lake reminds us that things weren’t that rosy between Egypt and Israel under Mubarak:  “This was stability in Egypt btw. […] A dispatch of mine from Cairo in 05″
  • Pajamas Media » Barry Rubin: Egypt: Three Possible Outcomes (“bilgeman” offers a 4th in comments)…
  • Ralph Peters argues that Mubarak is a dead man walking and that any further support to him by the West would just strengthen the Ikhwan
  • However, at the same site, repentant former PLO terrorist Walid Shoebat says we must support Mubarak, as the alternative is theocracy
  • On Twitter, Col. Richard Kemp (erstwhile British commander of forces in Afghanistan) puts it this way: “Only options: continuation in some form of current regime or #Islamist fundamentalism. There is no organized moderate group in #Egypt.” permalink
  • Jake Tapper: Wikileaked cables shed light on new Egyptian VP [former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman]
  • via Martin Kramer: Barry Rubin points out that “Muhammad el-Baradei, leader of the reformist movement, says that if he were to be president he would recognize Hamas as ruler of the Gaza Strip and end all sanctions against it. (See:,1518,705991,00.html)” Note that Hamas is a direct descendant of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood…
That may be pitching it too strongly, however: we also know from the Tea Party just what “leaderless organizations” can achieve. Yet, I see where he is coming from.

Left wing climate of hate and assassination

Or, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Get this (via Insty):

[…]the apparatchiks in the mainstream media[…] may have erred in pushing the Arizona assassination attempt beyond its ideological limits last week, but they succeeded brilliantly a few months earlier in suppressing news of a nearly lethal attempt by a genuine leftist.

In September 2010 Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was scheduled to speak at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City.

At some point, wearing black clothes and a bullet-proof vest, 22 year-old Casey Brezik bolted out of a classroom, knife in hand, and slashed the throat of a dean.  As he would later admit, he confused the dean with Nixon.

The story never left Kansas City.  It is not hard to understand why.  Knives lack the political sex appeal of guns, and even Keith Olbermann would have had a hard time turning Brezik into a Tea Partier.

Indeed, Brezik seems to have inhaled just about every noxious vapor in the left-wing miasma: environmental extremism, radical Islam, anti-capitalism, anti-Zionism and Christophobia, among others.

In his “About Me” box on Facebook, Brezik listed as his favorite quotation one from progressive poster boy, Che Guevara. The quote begins “Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism” and gets more belligerent from there.
And it gets richer:
Like many on the left, Brezik seemed to have found religion.

In reference to an article about Terry Jones and his proposed Quran burning, Brezik posted on the day before his planned assault, “This is now a Holy war. Scriptures have been desecrated. War U can’t handle. Make a choice and quick.”
Read the whole thing. Just imagine if, instead of being a radical leftist and apparent Islamist sympathizer, this whackjob had ever been anywhere near a Tea Party or had ever been to a hairdresser who had Rush Limbaugh on the radio. The spin-meisters among the media commentariat would have been all over the story blaming conservatives and the Tea Party for the “climate of hate”…
As the author rightly points out:
Successful propaganda is composed of equal parts deception and suppression, and the apparatchiks in the mainstream media are much better at the latter.
Or, as an ancient Dutch (and Yiddish) proverb goes, a half-truth is worse than a whole lie.

Why they’d rather talk about Sarah Palin

Insty has a new running gag/meme: “Why they’d rather talk about Sarah Palin (cont’d)

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Investors Have Been Fleeing Municipal Bonds. “A few factors can be blamed for this sudden retreat, but the one making all the headlines is the fear that cash-strapped states and municipalities issuing the bonds will renege on promises to investors.”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:03 am Link


As it stands today, the US borrows about 40 cents of every dollar it spends. Curbing the budget deficit has been the stated mission of Mr Ryan, a rising Republican star, for several years. But such calls for action have multiplied in Washington in recent months, igniting what some say is the fiercest debate over fiscal and budgetary policy in decades.

The risks are big. If the government rushes into austerity, cutting too much and too quickly, it could stunt economic recovery. But if the political system cannot forge some kind of consensus on steps to restore US deficits to sustainable levels, the danger is potentially even greater: a sovereign debt crisis in the world’s largest economy.

Fortunately, the country’s in the very best of hands.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:42 am Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Unemployment In The U.S. Is Actually Worse Than Pakistan. “The Eurozone is at similar levels to the US, but when most of the countries that have a higher unemployment rate than the US are collectively referred to as PIGS, it’s not very encouraging.”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 16, 2011 at 11:28 pm Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): “We’re fine at the moment, and we’re screwed long term.” Well, ordinarily I’d be worried. But with the best and the brightest at the helm, I foresee nothing but smooth sailing.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm Link


Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 16, 2011 at 10:37 pm Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Holiday Spending Record Not As Good As It Looks.

This past season’s revenue marked a 5.7 percent increase over holiday 2009. That’s the strongest gain since 2004. While encouraging, that doesn’t mean shoppers have recovered from the loss of $11 trillion in household wealth. From consumers’ perspective, the economy hasn’t improved dramatically from last year, as credit remains tight, unemployment hasn’t budged below 9 percent, and home values are still depressed. Consumer confidence is hovering at the same level as a year ago and well below the point that signals a stable economy. . . .

In several categories, spending on gifts fell short of shoppers’ 2007 outlay. In 2010, consumers spent $50.7 billion on clothing and accessories like shoes and scarves; in 2007, that figure was $51.3 billion even before adjusting for inflation. Holiday revenue at department stores was $45.3 billion last year, much less than the $50.4 billion that traded hands in 2007.

Read the whole thing. It’s better than last year, but it’s not exactly “Happy days are here again.”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 16, 2011 at 8:00 am Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): U.S. Satisfaction Remains Near 12-Month Low. “Gallup finds 19% of Americans satisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time — essentially on par with the lowest level of the past 12 months, 17%, registered in December. . . . The current low level of satisfaction is likely tied primarily to the economy.”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 15, 2011 at 11:25 pm Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Munis Crashing For Third Straight Day, And This Is The Worst Yet.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:49 pm Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): The Worst Combo: Consumer Spending Is Mediocre, Gas Prices Rising, And Retailers Have No Pricing Power. “Things are starting to look a little stagflationary.”

UPDATE: Consumer Confidence Slips Surprisingly on Jobs, Fuel Costs.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm Link

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:43 am Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): AP: Over 1 million Americans seen losing homes in 2011. “The bleakest year in the foreclosure crisis has only just begun. . . . Lenders are poised to take back more homes this year than any other since the U.S. housing meltdown began in 2006. About 5 million borrowers are at least two months behind on their mortgages and industry experts say more people will miss payments because of job losses and also loans that exceed the value of the homes they are living in.”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 14, 2011 at 8:10 am Link

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): $5 a gallon gas? Washington insiders are wondering if the next real economic crisis facing President Obama is when gasoline prices spike to $4 or $5 per gallon. At today’s press briefing, a White House press spokesman rebuffed queries about the possibility saying ‘there are many people that would get upset at me if I started to opine on oil and gas prices, so I won’t.’”

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 13, 2011 at 11:15 pm Link
Comments Off.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Jobless claims jump, wholesale food costs surge. More thoughts here.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm Link
Comments Off.


Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 13, 2011 at 8:47 am Link
Comments Off.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): How a housing slump will slow the jobs train.

It seems impolite to ask, what with employment growth sucking wind already. Companies added just around 100,000 jobs a month over the past year, a rate Fed chief Ben Bernanke dismissed Friday as “insufficient to materially reduce the unemployment rate.”

Not a pretty picture.

But it gets worse. Economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch say one key to a jobs recovery is an improvement in housing — because so much job creation is driven by new businesses that have in recent years been financed in part by home equity borrowing.

This sort of job creation has been missing the last couple years, thanks to the housing crash. If U.S. house prices embark as expected on a new decline, the long-awaited hiring renaissance could be put on hold yet again.

“There has been an adverse feedback loop where low home prices lead to tight credit, hurting jobs and prolonging the housing recession,” writes economist Michelle Meyer.

Much of the concern about another housing downturn revolves around the banks. A sharp house-price decline could lead to more foreclosures, hammering profits and reducing lending, such as it is.

But Meyer points to another effect that could be equally powerful for the jobs market. She notes that falling house prices hit home equity, preventing small business owners from tapping a key source of financing.

It’s a reverse “wealth effect.” Hope and change!

UPDATE: Reader John Murrey emails:

I’ve been a real estate agent with my own business and now work for a Top 10 national bank. The other problem that’s going to occur is a drop in labor mobility that will limit job growth and full employment as workers are trapped in homes they can’t afford, can’t sell in areas where job growth is non existent or negative. This will go a long way towards making lending even tighter as people walk away from those homes or are locked in with few affordable resources to finance a business.

Yes, it’s a vicious spiral.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:00 am Link
Comments Off.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Man the Lifeboats! Oil Prices Could Scuttle Recovery. I’m paying $3.25 for gas now. I notice that the big rise in gas prices hasn’t gotten much press attention, though.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm Link
Comments Off.

CHANGE: HOUSING MARKET SLIPS INTO DEPRESSION TERRITORY. No wonder they’d rather talk about Sarah Palin.

Posted at by Glenn Reynolds on Jan 12, 2011 at 8:43 am Link

Psychological defense mechanism or red herring? Methinks, a bit of both.

Arizona shootings and the perfidy of the Left [UPDATED]

The recent shooting tragedy in Arizona made the Left propaganda machine and the MSM establishment (OK, I am repeating myself) show their true colors again.

Via Insty:

MARK HALPERIN IN TIME: Maybe a horrendous act of violence will kill hundreds, even thousands, of Americans and thereby brighten Obama’s political future. “No one wants the country to suffer another catastrophe. But when a struggling Bill Clinton was faced with the Oklahoma City bombing and a floundering George W. Bush was confronted by 9/11, they found their voices and a route to political revival.”

And indeed, they are desperately looking for a way, any way, to link the shooter to the Tea Party. Ed Driscoll has a roundupJames Delingpole in the Daily Telegraph gives it big time to his American colleagues. At Legal Insurrection, Professor Jacobson sees “Two Sicknesses On Display In Arizona”.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have seen this type of reaction. The meme that opponents of Obama are crazy and dangerous has been an explicit Democratic Party campaign strategy for over two years. Here is just a partial list of events in which the left-wing and Democratic Party media operation has immediately blamed right-wing rhetoric, only to be proven wrong when the facts finally came out: Bill Sparkman, Amy Bishop, The Fort Hood Shooter, The IRS Plane Crasher, The Cabbie Stabbing, and The Pentagon Shooter. The facts will come out about the shooting and murder by Loughner. Until then, we’ll be subjected to the sickness of people who seek to use the crime to their political advantage and who will worry about the facts later on, if ever.”

Ed Morrissey tries to lay bare the shame of CNN, which is futile, as Contemptible News Network has neither shame nor decency.

The assistant DA blogging as “Patterico” sees the media in a fact-free frenzy to somehow, somehow blame the shooting on Sarah Palin. He counters talk of Palin’s use of “target” metaphors for electoral campaigns with multiple similar examples on the Democrat side. (In fact, managers use military metaphors for all sorts of campaigns all the time.)

As for the shooter, Jared Loughner, himself: do you know any Conservatives or Tea Partiers who would post videos of themselves burning an American flag?! His classmates remember him as a radical leftist, although frankly, whatever passes for his political belief system is best described as Nucking Futs. The psychiatrist and retired NASA flight surgeon who blogs as “Dr. Sanity”, based on the scribblings and videos of the shooter as well as testimony by classmates, put in a preliminary diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Sometimes a nutcase is just a nutcase, full stop.

To make things even more complicated, the congresswoman targeted (may she recover speedily) was not a bete noire of the Right, being well into “Blue Dog Democrat” territory.

Fox News at one point posted a hastily written law enforcement memo claiming he was affiliated with an “antisemitic white supremacist” group called “American Renaissance” [sic], and that Gabrielle Giffords was targeted as the “first Jewish woman so prominent”. Now the actual AmRen is an organization which almost all conservatives consider beyond the pale, and which may be fairly described as racialist or “morbidly obsessed with race” — but which even SPLC [!!] absolved of antisemitism today. I won’t link to the rebuttal press release by AmRen’s Jared Taylor (quoted in part at the Politico link before): suffice to say that he vehemently denies Loughner ever  was a member or even subscribed to its magazine, cites his own record of repudiating antisemitism, points out that Rep. Giffords was never even discussed in the magazine, and brings up the minor inconvenient detail that

Gabrielle Giffords is not the “first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government.” Barbara Boxer has represented California in the Senate from 1993, and Diane Feinstein has done so since 1992. There are at least six Jewish congresswomen listed by Wikipedia as currently serving in the House.

If this is the level of fact-checking that goes into law enforcement reports, G-d help the USA. Meet the Keystone Kops of the Internet Age. [UPDATE: according to sources compiled in Wikipedia (caveat lector) Rep. Giffords has a Jewish father and an Xian Scientist mother. She is, BTW, a second cousin of actress Gwyneth Paltrow on her father’s side.]

Insty has a powerful column in today’s  WSJ: The Arizona Tragedy and the Politics of Blood Libel. “Those who purport to care about the tenor of political discourse don’t help civil debate when they seize on any pretext to call their political opponents accomplices to murder.”

Shortly after November’s electoral defeat for the Democrats, pollster Mark Penn [UPDATE: more on Penn here]  appeared on Chris Matthews’s TV show and remarked that what President Obama needed to reconnect with the American people was another Oklahoma City bombing. To judge from the reaction to Saturday’s tragic shootings in Arizona, many on the left (and in the press) agree, and for a while hoped that Jared Lee Loughner’s killing spree might fill the bill.

With only the barest outline of events available, pundits and reporters seemed to agree that the massacre had to be the fault of the tea party movement in general, and of Sarah Palin in particular. Why? Because they had created, in New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s words, a “climate of hate.”

The critics were a bit short on particulars as to what that meant. Mrs. Palin has used some martial metaphors—”lock and load”—and talked about “targeting” opponents. But as media writer Howard Kurtz noted in The Daily Beast, such metaphors are common in politics. Palin critic Markos Moulitsas, on his Daily Kos blog, had even included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s district on a list of congressional districts “bullseyed” for primary challenges. When Democrats use language like this—or even harsher language like Mr. Obama’s famous remark, in Philadelphia during the 2008 campaign, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”—it’s just evidence of high spirits, apparently. But if Republicans do it, it somehow creates a climate of hate.

There’s a climate of hate out there, all right, but it doesn’t derive from the innocuous use of political clichés. And former Gov. Palin and the tea party movement are more the targets than the source.

American journalists know how to be exquisitely sensitive when they want to be. As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York pointed out on Sunday, after Major Nidal Hasan shot up Fort Hood while shouting “Allahu Akhbar!” the press was full of cautions about not drawing premature conclusions about a connection to Islamist terrorism. “Where,” asked Mr. York, “was that caution after the shootings in Arizona?”

Set aside as inconvenient, apparently. There was no waiting for the facts on Saturday. Likewise, last May New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and CBS anchor Katie Couric speculated, without any evidence, that the Times Square bomber might be a tea partier upset with the ObamaCare bill.

So as the usual talking heads begin their “have you no decency?” routine aimed at talk radio and Republican politicians, perhaps we should turn the question around. Where is the decency in blood libel?

[…] I understand the desperation that Democrats must feel after taking a historic beating in the midterm elections and seeing the popularity of ObamaCare plummet while voters flee the party in droves. But those who purport to care about the health of our political community demonstrate precious little actual concern for America’s political well-being when they seize on any pretext, however flimsy, to call their political opponents accomplices to murder.

Where is the decency in that?


UPDATE: Roger Kimball: “How to turn a tragedy into an emetic“.

And while some whackjob wondered at one point whether the shooter was a veteran (in fact, he tried to join the army but was turned away as psychiatrically unfit), an actual vet tackled the shooter. (While we’re lauding unsung heroes, Rep. Giffords may actually owe her life to an intern who joined her campaign five days ago.)

UPDATE 2: at the Daily Kotz, a post by a leftist declaring “Giffords is dead to me” (for voting against Nancy Peelousy) has been memory-holed.

UPDATE 3: James Taranto has a lot more.

Official: DHS has not determined any possible ties between Arizona shooter and right wing group. And WSJ: suspect fixated on Giffords for long time, predating Sarah Palin’s appearance on the national scene. See also Don Surber.

Yet the collapsing narrative won’t stop Deemocratic group from using Arizona shootings for fundraiser.

UPDATE 4: Jeebus cripes (via Correspondence Committee).


  • did sheriff Dupnik’s office drop the ball on AZ shooter? plenty of sign guy was dangerous nutcase
  • AZ shooter was registered Independent. How is the Deemocrat propaganda machine going to spin this?
  • Nobel Prize for chutzpah nomination: MoveOn launches campaign against vitriolic language — despite sordid history of using vitriolic language
  • Nobel Prize for jackassery nomination: Clyburn: reading constitution provoked AZ murder spree or something


Patterico finds lots of evidence that Sheriff Dupnik had known for years something was off with the guy, but that he discouraged any action, for fear of embarrassing Loughner’s mother who works for the Parks Service. Much more here. Dan Riehl also weighs in.

Marc Thiessen, in the Washington Post, calls upon pundits to stop blaming the Tea Party.

Clayton Cramer and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Helen Smith (a.k.a. Mrs. Instapundit) blame deinstitutionalization and the way in which excessive concern for the rights of the mentally ill makes it very difficult to take preventive action against somebody likely to become violent (cfr. the Virginia Tech massacre). Benjamin Kerstein tells of his own struggles with a much milder form of mental illness (the kind we used to call “cyclothymia” in an older generation, and which the great Winston Churchill referred to as “my black dog”) and how, despite all the “shrinks” in the USA, he only got proper help after he moved to another country.

Arab academic: “Israel, the good enemy”

Via Naomi Ragen’s mailing list a rather amazing article by a self-described “Jordanian of Palestinian heritage”. Some gleanings:

Israel’s critics, either willingly or out of ignorance, choose to overlook the way many Arab countries mistreat Palestinians. Some Arab countries are almost never blamed for what they have been doing to the Palestinians for decades.  Such selective recognition of facts by Israel’s critics is bizarre when weighed by truth instead of myths.

In December of 2008, Israel launched operation “cast lead” against Hamas which was launching rockets on Southern Israel on a daily basis.  This operation has resulted in the death of more than 1,400 Palestinians, many said to be civilians; an absolute tragedy, nonetheless, those criticizing Israel fail to recognize that the number of causalities is small comparing to Gaza’s population of 1.5 million, considering the high density of Gaza’s population per square kilometre, the number suggests the Israeli forces were very cautious in carrying out their attacks, despite the fact that they were chasing a moving target, Hamas militants.  If Israeli forces were [deliberately] targeting Palestinian civilians, the number of the dead would have reached tens of thousands.

On comparison; in 1976, Lebanese militiamen butchered 2,000 Palestinians; almost wiping out the entire population of Tell al-Zaatar refugee camp within days.  This was revisited again in 1982 in Sabra and Shatelah massacre; where, in less than four days, Lebanese militiamen killed thousands of women and children who posed no threat as most Palestinian fighters had left then to Tunisia. Two years ago, al-Jazeera satellite network aired rare footage of Palestinians running to Israeli soldiers for refuge from the massacre.

Furthermore, most Arab atrocities against Palestinians have included documented rape cases, even of children, while not a single rape case has been reported against Israeli forces in more than sixty years of operations.

Of course, the latter did not stop some Israeli leftist whackademic from claiming that the absence of rapes proved racism against Palestinians. [Some ideas truly are so insane that only a soi-disant intellectual can believe them.] But there is more:

Arab governments’ oppression of the Palestinians does not stop at bloodshed and wholesale  slaughters, in fact the more troubling aspects of the way they treat Palestinians is in the systematic long-range exclusion and discrimination.   In Arab countries where Palestinians make up a good percentage of the population; they are depr[i]ved of all basic necessities, starting with education, down to basic healthcare.  Even [in] countries that have granted the Palestinians citizenships; the Palestinians stand helpless and banned from every potential to improve their livelihoods.

[…] The complexity Israel has with Palestinians revolves around security rather than ideological issues; Israel does not have an aim to enslave the Palestinians for life or purposely degrade their humanity. While many Arab countries have designed their systems to discriminate and humiliate the Palestinians, squeezing them into illiteracy and poverty while milking them for tax money.

[…] Ha[d the] Intifada taken place in any Arab country; it would have ended within the first couple of weeks with an Arab army killing more than ten thousands Palestinians, most being civilians.  Examples of this are countless and in all Arab countries hosting Palestinians; yet the world seems to think this reality is too overrated to recognize.Today, with peace negotiations up and running, some Arab governments seem to want to butcher the Palestinians again on the altar of dictatorship by worsening their living conditions and making their lives more miserable, just to secure a better negotiating position or merely a seat at the negotiations table.  Not to mention that many of those actually would rather see the negotiations fail in order to keep more international aid money flowing to them for “hosting” the Palestinians.

Quoting a commentator on one of my articles; “the Palestinians, do obviously need a break from their sworn Arab friends”, and perhaps they can reconnect to them when they have learned a lesson or two from their Israeli “enemies”.


Saturday music video: Yes, “Looking Around”

It’s hard to believe hearing this song that this was: (a) 1969; (b) on Yes’s first album. To me, this song still sounds as fresh as the first time I heard it 30 years ago. No Rick Wakeman on keys yet: the chunky Hammond organ playing is by Tony Kaye, who in an interview confessed he always wanted to be the Rolling Stones’ backup keyboardist. But other Yes ingredients — Chris Squire’s bright Roto-Sound bass, the high-pitched close-harmony vocals, and “progressive” song structure (what straight rock band would have a song wander through the keys of D (minor & major), Eb (major), Ab (minor), and A (major) in the space of a few minutes? And have the musical chops to have the result make sense?

For the longest time, there was no YouTube video available due to copyright blocks. Now here is one. Enjoy!


PS: here is a rare live video.

Reading the Constitution in Congress: shades of King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23)?

A commenter at Don Surber’s place wonders aloud about this historic parallel:

Back in Old Testament times when Joash was King in Judah, some dusty scrolls were found when the Temple was undergoing a white glove clean up. Written on these scrolls was the Law of God [The Constitution!]. The King had the Law read to him and was moved by what he heard. He realized that he and the Nation were ignorant and had strayed from its Constitution. So, the King set a date for the public reading of the scroll.

Presumably the king he meant was Josiah (or Yoshiyahu in the original Hebrew). See 2 Kings 22:

10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king. 11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’s anger that burns against us because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

The remainder of 2 Kings 22 and 2 Kings 23 details the reforms Josiah instituted in his kingdom at that point. One of them sounds very relevant today:  “He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes” (2 Kings 23:7). K Street? The MSM of the day? Beltway Bandits in general?

Schiller: “Herzschlag” (“Heartbeat”)

While I love complex, challenging music as much as anybody, there is a German saying “in der Beschränkung zeigt sich der Meister” (idiomatically: “Economy of means reveals mastery”). The following track by German electronic/ambient musician “Schiller” (stage name of Christoph von Deylen) is a case in point. It’s basically just a soundscape that slowly builds up around a few sparse guitar licks sent through a digital delay set to exactly 1.5 beats at the tempo of the track. (The technique of ‘playing against your own echo’ was invented by King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, then became a mainstay of ‘the U2 sound’ as their guitarist The Edge was/is so fond of it.)

The title “Herzschlag” means “Heartbeat” in English. ‘Heartbeat’ to me also means ‘sign of life’, as I wait to hear a sign of life from somebody I care an awful lot about…