Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What women want

may not be what feminists want to hear.

John Tierney at the NY Times reports (Times Select - subscriber only) on a shortly-to-be-published study by two sociologists at the University of Virginia who analyzed a copious amount of data on married couples found that:

Having an affectionate and understanding husband was by far the most important predictor of a woman's satisfaction with her marriage.

No big surprise I think.

But what will get the shrill NOW types who consistently complain about wage inequality based on sex upset is the following:

But it turns out that an equal division of labor didn't make husbands more affectionate or wives more fulfilled. The wives working outside the home reported less satisfaction with their husbands and their marriages than did the stay-at-home wives. And among those with outside jobs, the happiest wives, regardless of the family's overall income, were the ones whose husbands brought in at least two-thirds of the money.

These male providers-in-chief were regarded fondly by even the most feminist-minded women — the ones who said they believed in dividing duties equally. In theory these wives were egalitarians, but in their own lives they preferred more traditional arrangements.
"Women today expect more help around the home and more emotional engagement from their husbands," Wilcox says. "But they still want their husbands to be providers who give them financial security and freedom."


But I'd bet there's a limit to egalitarianism. Consider what's happened with housework, that perpetual sore point. From the 1960's through the 80's, wives cut back on housework as husbands did more. In the 1990's, though, the equalizing trend leveled off, leaving wives still doing nearly twice as much of the work at home.

That seems terribly unfair unless you look at how men and women behave when they're living by themselves: the women do twice as much housework as the men do. Single men do less cooking and cleaning, because those jobs don't seem as important to them. They can live with unmade beds and frozen dinners.


Similarly, there's a gender gap in enthusiasm for some outside jobs. Men are much more willing to take a job that pays a premium in exchange for long hours away from home or the risk of being killed. The extra money doesn't seem as important to women.
The happiest wives in their study were the ones who said that housework was divided fairly between them and their husbands. But those same happy wives also did more of the work at home while their husbands did more work outside home.
"A woman wants equity," he says. "That's not necessarily the same as equality."

Somewhere I think Nancy Hopkins is having a bad day.

The dangers of biculturalism

Mark Steyn's current biweekly (subs. only) installment in the National Review is a bit of downer but it doesn't detract from his usual strong argument. He hits two key themes that are worth noting, the perils of 'isolationism' and the dangers of biculturalism.

As for the calls for a broad US retreat, 'Why should we police the world?' Steyn argues persuasively that retreating inside Fortress North America won't protect us.

And I’m a little unnerved at the number of readers who seem to think the rest of the world can go hang but America will endure as a lonely candle of liberty in the new dark ages. Think that one through: a totalitarian China, a crumbling Russia, an insane Middle East, a disease-ridden Africa, a civil-war-torn Eurabia — and a country that can’t even enforce its borders against two relatively benign states will somehow be able to hold the entire planet at bay?
The hyperpower has to be engaged with the world, if only because splendid isolation is rarely seen as such by others. What was the biggest single factor in the radicalization of young British Muslims? The then-Conservative government’s conclusion in the 1990s that it had no dog in the Balkans junkyard. As Osama bin Laden put it, “The British are responsible for destroying the Caliphate system. They are the ones who created the Palestinian problem. They are the ones who created the Kashmiri problem. They are the ones who put the arms embargo on the Muslims of Bosnia so that 2 million Muslims were killed.”

How’d a list of imperial interventions wind up with that bit of non-imperial nonintervention? The point is that for great powers detachment from the affairs of the world is not an option: Evenhandedness by Washington will be received as a form of one-handedness by the time its effects are felt in Wackistan or Basketkhazia. In other words, isolation doesn’t travel.

I would add leaving the world to its issues in the least could lead inevitably to the victory of the reasoning currently infecting the left side of SCOTUS, i.e., American law should follow international law. "But everyone is doing it this way."

One problem with the fetishization of multiculturalism is that it has led to the rise of bicultural societies.

Europe’s ability to solve the problem is hampered by the fact that its professed “multiculturalism” is in reality mostly bicultural. You have hitherto homogeneous Scandinavian societies whose cities have become 40 percent Muslim in the space of a generation. Imagine colonial New England when it was still the Mayflower crowd and one day they woke up and noticed that all the Aldens and Allertons, Billingtons and Bradfords were in their 50s and 60s and all the young guys were named Ahmed and Mohammed. That’s what’s happened in Rotterdam and Malmö.

Whatever the virtues of multiculturalism, bicultural societies are the most unstable in the world, whether relatively benignly so (Fiji) or genocidally (Rwanda). The problem Europe faces is that Bosnia’s demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent. All those Bush Doctrine naysayers who argue that Iraq is an artificial entity that can never be a functioning state ought to take a look at the Netherlands. You think Kurds and Arabs, Sunnis and Shiites are incompatible? What do you call a jurisdiction split between post-Christian secular gay potheads and anti-whoring anti-sodomite Islamists? If Kurdistan’s an awkward fit in Iraq, how well does Pornostan fit in the Islamic Republic of Holland?

Steyn argued repeatedly that Europe indeed should be very supportive of the Bush Doctrine for selfish reasons. Recent events, it appears, have awakened Old Europe to the danger in their midst - whether it can propel them to make meaningful and decisive moves to counter is in question.

One miss spoils the class?

Mike Vaccaro notes that the class of 17 Negro League affiliated players, owners and contributors voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is missing a member -- the special committee set up to vote on Negro League additions to the Hall failed to elect Buck O'Neill, MLB's first-ever black coach, a scout, and a tireless worker on behalf of the Negro Leagues' legacy.

Here's Vaccaro's take on the importance of the 94-year old who's still kickin' around and talkin' baseball:

. . . if there is going to a Baseball Hall of Fame at all, then Buck O'Neil has to be in it. The only reason many people know about the Negro Leagues at all is because of him, through the Ken Burns "Baseball" series, through his tireless efforts on the Veterans Committee. Most of the Negro Leaguers already in the Hall would be forgotten names in an archive somewhere if not for Buck O'Neil.

"Buck has changed history," Adrian Burgos, one of yesterday's voters, told the Kansas City Star before the vote. "And that's an accomplishment that Cooperstown itself can't deny."

Actually, they can, and actually they did. Shame on them. You want to know a cruel, bitter reality about the Hall? Tom Yawkey is in the Hall.

Tom Yawkey never played. He never managed. In his life, Tom Yawkey did three notable things: He was born filthy rich; he somehow owned the Red Sox for over 40 years and won exactly as many World Series as I have; and he single-handedly tried to keep Jim Crow alive inside major league baseball, waiting until 12 years after Jackie Robinson before integrating his team.

Tom Yawkey is in there as a contributor, when his greatest contribution was keeping his roster as lily white as its home uniforms. And Buck O'Neil isn't, even though he has spent his life trying to balance all the inequities visited upon the game by the dreadful likes of Tom Yawkey.

Monday, February 27, 2006

NFL questions

Two come to mind: (1) Am I the only person who thinks LenDale White may be a better pro than Reggie Bush; (2) Is Vince Young just Akili Smith II?

I doubt Bush because he's never been a 20 carry per game back, he's smallish, and there's an aspect to him that screams Rocket Ismail or Desmond Howard -- speedy gamebreakers who never made large impacts in the NFL. White is a pound-pound-pound back who may be a poor man's Emmitt Smith.

As for Young, rumors are that he scored a 6 on the 50-point Wonderlic test that NFL teams give at the scouting combines. That's awful. The test isn't that hard but a complete flop is a red flag that the player may lack the ability to understand NFL offensive and defensive complexities. Akili Smith, a rocket-armed QB from Oregon who had one excellent year in college before failing miserably as the Bengals' QB pick in the Donovan McNabb draft similarly scored poorly (although he at least hit 11 or 12) before showing up and demonstrating no ability to learn Cincy's offense.

If there were any question, Young's rumored Wonderlic score has answered it: the Texans won't draft him #1 overall. Now the question is how far will he fall. His lack of prep time for the combine and poor advice from a family-friend agent is hurting him both financially and professionally.

Getting tough with Red China

The Weekly Standard has an article by John Tkacik arguing that quietly, but inexorably, the Bush administration's stance on China has become significantly less accommodating.

What begun as the undiplomatic 'rooting' of the Red Chinese for a Kerry victory in the election was exacerbated by the passage in Peking last spring of the anti-secession law which many read as a 'shelf' casus belli with Taiwan. Belligerent acts toward Japan and Peking's unhelpful attitudes toward North Korea and nuclear proliferation in general have made the Bush administration feel that the likelihood of China becoming a strategic partner, or even neutral was far less likely than that of a strategic adversary.

Underscoring all of this is the absence of any significant strengthening in the yuan since it was taken off the peg - a scant 3%.

Tkacik, a former Foggy Bottom hand with extensive experience in Asia, thinks that President Hu Jintao could be in for a frosty reception during his scheduled visit in April.

About bloody time.

Read the whole article here.

Rabid Bulldogs?

Just when Harvard's Faculty of Arts & Sciences (FAS) thought they had a monopoly on idiocy, our friends in New Haven have happily admitted the Taliban's former international spokesman as a student.

John Fund at OpinionJournal who has had first hand experience with Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is flabbergasted.

Something is very wrong at our elite universities. Last week Larry Summers resigned as president of Harvard when it became clear he would lose a no-confidence vote held by politically correct faculty members furious at his efforts to allow ROTC on campus, his opposition to a drive to have Harvard divest itself of corporate investments in Israel, and his efforts to make professors work harder. Now Yale is giving a first-class education to an erstwhile high official in one of the most evil regimes of the latter half of the 20th century--the government that harbored the terrorists who attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001.

[The original NY Times article, in yesterday's NYT magazine is here. 12 pages]

Apparently Yale considered landing Hashemi quite a coup.

The Times reported that Yale "had another foreigner of Rahmatullah's caliber apply for special-student status." Richard Shaw, Yale's dean of undergraduate admissions, told the Times that "we lost him to Harvard," and "I didn't want that to happen again."

Hashemi was the foreign face of the Taliban as the world erupted in outrage over the planned destruction of priceless 3rd and 5th century Buddha statues that offended the mullahs.

He wore a traditional Afghan turban and white baggy pants and sported a full beard. His English, while sometimes elliptical, was smooth and colloquial. He made himself very clear when he said the West had no business worrying about the statues, because it had cut off trade and foreign aid to the Taliban. "When the world destroys the future of our children with economic sanctions, they have no right to worry about our past," he told us, according to my notes from the meeting.
As for Osama bin Laden, Mr. Rahmatullah called the Saudi fugitive a "guest" of his government and said it hadn't been proved that bin Laden was linked to any terrorist acts, despite his indictment in the U.S. for planning the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He said that if the embassy bombings were terrorist acts, then so was the Clinton administration's firing cruise missiles into his country in an attempt to kill bin Laden. "You killed 19 innocent people," he told us.
From newspaper clips I knew that his visit to the Journal's offices was part of a PR tour. He visited other newspapers and spoke at universities, and the State Department had granted him a meeting with midlevel officials. None of the meetings went particularly well. At the University of Southern California, Mr. Rahmatullah expressed irritation with a question about statues that at that point hadn't yet been blown up. "You know, really, I am asked so much about these statues that I have a headache now," he moaned. "If I go back to Afghanistan, I will blow them."
But sometimes his humor really backfired. At a speech for the Atlantic Council, Mr. Rahmatullah was confronted by a woman in the audience who lifted the burkha she was wearing and chastised him for the Taliban's infamous treatment of women. "You have imprisoned the women--it's a horror, let me tell you," she cried. Mr. Rahmatullah responded with a sneer: "I'm really sorry to your husband. He might have a very difficult time with you."

A videotape of his cutting remark became part of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," and infuriated the likes of Mavis Leno, wife of "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno. Mrs. Leno helped found the Feminist Majority's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan and devoted countless hours to focusing public attention on the plight of Afghanistan's women and girls.

There seems to be no limits to our folly. What's next? Will Brown invite Robert Mugabe to lecture on post-colonial African governance?

First, they came for the Jews, but . . .

Details of the latest atrocity committed by European Muslims against a random Jew are here, in Nidra Poller's column in the WSJ that details how a gang of Muslims in France kidnapped and tortured a Jewish man to death. This is just the latest of a series of atrocities, most of which have occurred in France -- the incubator of Muslim insurgency in Europe.

The sociological meaning of these acts by Muslims in the West against Jews in the West, and the tepid, politically correct and reality-defying responses of the Western police and media, is put into perspective by Mark Steyn:

In five years' time, how many Jews will be living in France? Two years ago, a 23-year-old Paris disc jockey called Sebastien Selam was heading off to work from his parents' apartment when he was jumped in the parking garage by his Muslim neighbor Adel. Selam's throat was slit twice, to the point of near-decapitation; his face was ripped off with a fork; and his eyes were gouged out. Adel climbed the stairs of the apartment house dripping blood and yelling, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven."

Is that an gripping story? You'd think so. Particularly when, in the same city, on the same night, a Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim. You've got the making of a mini-trend there, and the media love trends.

Yet no major French newspaper carried the story.

This month, there was another murder. Ilan Halimi, also 23, also Jewish, was found by a railway track outside Paris with burns and knife wounds all over his body. He died en route to the hospital, having been held prisoner, hooded and naked, and brutally tortured for almost three weeks by a gang that had demanded half a million dollars from his family. Can you take a wild guess at the particular identity of the gang? During the ransom phone calls, his uncle reported that they were made to listen to Ilan's screams as he was being burned while his torturers read out verses from the Quran.

This time around, the French media did carry the story, yet every public official insisted there was no anti-Jewish element. Just one of those things. Coulda happened to anyone. And, if the gang did seem inordinately fixated on, ah, Jews, it was just because, as one police detective put it, ''Jews equal money.'' In London, the Observer couldn't even bring itself to pursue that particular angle. Its report of the murder managed to avoid any mention of the unfortunate Halimi's, um, Jewishness. Another British paper, the Independent, did dwell on the particular, er, identity groups involved in the incident but only in the context of a protest march by Parisian Jews marred by ''radical young Jewish men'' who'd attacked an ''Arab-run grocery.''

These false moral equivalences and these failures to name the criminals and identify their simple anti-Semitic motives are exercises in revisionism designed to curry favor with the brutal Muslim youth in England and France instead of requiring immigrants to become citizens who must comport themselves within the laws of societal norms. It is heinous and morally reprehensible.

And Steyn notes the potential long-term effects:

A lot of folks are, to put it at its mildest, indifferent to Jews. In 2003, a survey by the European Commission found that 59 percent of Europeans regard Israel as the "greatest menace to world peace." Only 59 percent? What the hell's wrong with the rest of 'em? Well, don't worry: In Germany, it was 65 percent; Austria, 69 percent; the Netherlands, 74 percent. Since then, Iran has sportingly offered to solve the problem of the Israeli threat to world peace by wiping the Zionist Entity off the face of the map. But what a tragedy that those peace-loving Iranians have been provoked into launching nuclear armageddon by those pushy Jews. As Paul Oestreicher, Anglican chaplain of the University of Sussex, wrote in the Guardian the other day, "I cannot listen calmly when an Iranian president talks of wiping out Israel. Jewish fears go deep. They are not irrational. But I cannot listen calmly either when a great many citizens of Israel think and speak of Palestinians in the way a great many Germans thought and spoke about Jews when I was one of them and had to flee."

It's not surprising when you're as heavily invested as the European establishment is in an absurd equivalence between a nuclear madman who thinks he's the warm-up act for the Twelfth Imam and the fellows building the Israeli security fence that you lose all sense of proportion when it comes to your own backyard, too. "Radical young Jewish men" are no threat to "Arab-run groceries." But radical young Muslim men are changing the realities of daily life for Jews and gays and women in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and beyond. If you don't care for the Yids, big deal; look out for yourself. The Jews are playing their traditional role of the canaries in history's coal mine.

Frank Thomas = fat ingrate

Kudos to Kenny Williams, the White Sox GM, for ripping Frank Thomas.

Between his intermittent production, unreliability, whining, injuries and just being fat, Thomas was much more often a problem for the Palehos from 1999-2005, than anything else. When the Chisax finally gave up any hope that he'd be fully useful, they won and Thomas was a non-factor.

Thereafter, Thomas griped and b-tched about how the Palehos treated him at the end of his contract. Williams had enough. He tore into Thomas in the papers and ripped Fat Frank on WGN.

Thomas went from top-notch player and all-around good guy in the early to mid-90s to whinging diva who suffered injuries both randomly and from being a lardo. And during the time of his decline, Thomas made EIGHT figures yearly.

Good riddance.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Symbol of the CIA

The Monk won't delve into the idiocy and detachment from reality that marks former CIA analyst Paul Pillar's assertions in a long Foreign Affairs article accusing the Bush Administration of politicizing intelligence and intimidating analysts -- two claims refuted by BOTH the bipartisan Robb-Silverman Commission and the bipartisan 9-11 Commission. Instead, just read Thomas Joscelyn's take down of Pillar.

Silver and Gold

Yes, The Monk watched the important parts of the ladies' free skate last night and what a disappointing competition. Instead of a tremendous performance that propelled the champion to a win, Shizuka Arakawa skated cautiously and cleanly to win the gold that fell from Sasha Cohen's hands right before Arakawa skated.

In 1992 (Yamaguchi), 1994 (Baiul, Kerrigan), 1998 (Lipinski, Kwan) and 2002 (Hughes), at least the gold medalist, and occasionally the silver winner, put forth a great show. Yesterday, the most dynamic skating was the last 3 minutes of Cohen's program, where she rescued her medal chances after two bad falls and took advantage of the new scoring system by nailing her later elements (jumps, spins, etc. -- all worth more after the midpoint of the free skate b/c the skaters get bonuses for hitting the tough parts when they are presumptively tiring out). Meanwhile, Slutskaya became the Russian Kwan (although she honked the free skate twice -- 2002 and 2006; Kwan didn't honk in '98, she just got beat) by touching down with non-skate body parts to fall into third. Fairly disappointing over all, and the quick exit and terse treatment from the NBC coverage after Cohen's fall said it all.

PS -- Good on ya to Emily Hughes who took Kwan's place and finished 7th in her first major competition. From short notice to pack for Turin, to extra press scrutiny because her sister was the reigning ice queen, Emily did a fine job overall and, unlike Kimmie Meissner, she doesn't redline (or even register on) the Monkette2B's b-tch detector.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Al Qaeda's Hail Mary

The stunning, cannibalistic attack on the Al Askariya shrine on Wednesday [almost surely] by Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia can be reasonably thought of as Al Qaeda's last-ditch, frantic attempt to cause civil war in Iraq. Though Shiites have erupted in fury and Moqtada al Sadr's minions have retaliated and there are 100 dead as a result Al Qaeda's pass will fall short of their 'end zone'.

While the Zarqawi-ites may revel in the short term chaos that they've caused this move is a colossal, strategic blunder on the level of 9/11. The intent of this attack and the scum behind it is too obvious. The Shia aren't behind (though I'm sure Michael Moore can find an agent provocateur conspiracy), the Sunnis would be insane to try and it sure ain't the Coalition. That leaves the insurgency which begs the question why? Well when does a team do a Hail Mary - when you're running out of time and there's nothing left in the playbook.

The interim Iraqi government, the new Iraqi Army and the Coalition must ensure that the violence is controlled, diminished and finally extinguished. If it means martial law and curfews, that's acceptable in the short term to ensure that this becomes the epitaph of the insurgency. Overall the political and religious figures in Iraq are calling for calm and not point figures at anyone other than the insurgency.

James Robbins at NRO has the same idea.

Despite panicky headlines to the contrary, it is not in any group’s interest to wage full scale civil war in Iraq. The Shiites have power without it; the Sunnis could not win it; and the Kurds will sit it out either way and keep patiently building their homeland. So this senseless act of violence against the final resting place of two of the most respected figures of the Muslim religion only proves to the Islamic world that al Qaeda and its allies are true heretics who care nothing for the faith and are out for power by any means at their disposal.

Iraq the Model has a great on-site report.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Happy Birthday to the Nation's Father

Today is the birthday of the Father of our country, George Washington -- a birthday that is unfortunately subsumed within "Presidents' Day". Washington was the indispensible man at the founding and birth of the nation. His knowledge that every action he took during his presidency would become a precedent, and his modesty and wisdom in the face of that knowledge, demonstrate why he so important a figure in American history.

To the indispensible man who, to this day, remains our best President: Happy Birthday President Washington.

Hard left coup at Harvard

Alan Dershowitz, the distinguished, vocal professor at Harvard Law School, excoriates the hard left for its coup against President Larry Summers.

A PLURALITY of one faculty has brought about an academic coup d'etat against not only Harvard University president Lawrence Summers but also against the majority of students, faculty, and alumni. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which forced Summers's resignation by voting a lack of confidence in him last March and threatening to do so again on Feb. 28, is only one component of Harvard University and is hardly representative of widespread attitudes on the campus toward Summers. The graduate faculties, the students, and the alumni generally supported Summers for his many accomplishments. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences includes, in general, some of the most radical, hard-left elements within Harvard's diverse constituencies. And let there be no mistake about the origin of Summers's problem with that particular faculty: It started as a hard left-center conflict. Summers committed the cardinal sin against the academic hard left: He expressed politically incorrect views regarding gender, race, religion, sexual preference, and the military. [emphasis added]

Dubai Ports World, take 2

James Lileks captures the whole problem with the DP World acquisition of the British company that operates the ports at Newark, New York, Philly, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans (emphasis in original):

Do I expect the managers of the ports to start installing Al Qaeda operatives in key positions, so they can wave through all the containers with small nukes for national distribution? No. But such a scenario does not exact tax the imagination, which is why it’s such a stupendously bad idea.

It’s remarkably tone deaf. It’s possible that the Administration did some quiet polling, and asked the question “How much Arab control over American ports are you comfortable with,” and misinterpreted stunned silence as assent. It’s possible the Administration believed that this would be seen as outreach, an act of faith to solidify a Key Ally, and didn’t think there’d be much hubbub – but if that’s the case, it’s the best example of the Bubble Theory I’ve heard, and I’ve not heard much convincing evidence. Until now. The average American’s reaction to handing port control over to the UAE is instinctively negative, and for good reason. There are two basic reactions: We can’t do this ourselves? and We should trust them, why?

So even though the WSJ can rightly blast both the Democrats and Republicans grandstanding on this issue, the political idiocy factor of the Administration enables the alarmists like Debbie Schlussel and Michelle Malkin to tee off on the whole concept of a UAE-owned company operating the ports. The Journal raises the following points (emphasis in original):

[T]he notion that the Bush Administration is farming out port "security" to hostile Arab nations is alarmist nonsense. Dubai Ports World would be managing the commercial activities of these U.S. ports, not securing them. There's a difference. Port security falls to Coast Guard and U.S. Customs officials. "Nothing changes with respect to security under the contract," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday. "The Coast Guard is in charge of security, not the corporation."

In a telephone interview yesterday, Kristie Clemens of U.S. Customs and Border Protection elaborated that "Customs and Border Protection has the sole responsibility for the cargo processing and cargo security, incoming and outgoing. The port authority sets the guidelines for the entire port, and port operators have to follow those guidelines." Again, nothing in the pending deal would affect that arrangement.

The timing of this sudden uproar is also a tad suspicious. A bidding war for the British-owned P&O has been going on since last autumn, and the P&O board accepted Dubai's latest offer last month. The story only blew up last week, as a Florida firm that is a partner with P&O in Miami, Continental Stevedoring and Terminals Inc., filed a suit to block the purchase. . .

And I agree that the notion of requiring US ports to be run by US companies is flat stupid -- P&O was a British company until DP World bought it and the hijackers who ran the 9-11-01 operation didn't come to the country as stowaways on ocean liners, they (75%) came through the Visa Express program that constituted the State Department's abandonment of its duty to protect the US against foreign enemies in order to curry favor with the Saudis.

Finally, do not miss Mansoor Ijaz's informative column on NRO blasting the DP World opposition. He notes that corporate restructuring could alleviate most or all of the concerns about a UAE-owned company running the ports. Ijaz is always worth reading, especially because his knowledge of the Middle East and Arab regimes is far more extensive than just about any other commentator.

What would Brian Boitano do?

A couple of declarations regarding The Monk and the Olympics:

First, I am NOT giving up my man card just b/c I watched the latter part of yesterday's women's figure skating short program.

Second, the women's figure skaters do NOT turn me on, unlike some of the radio talkers I've heard this morning (who are in their 40s!). Good gosh -- most of these women look like 13-year olds, even the ones who are deep in their 20s.

Third, I am absolutely amazed that these small women can generate the height, speed and twist on their jumps and then land on the edge of a skate blade. Given the biological differences between men and women, especially regarding bone structure and muscle, the fact that these small frames can handle the punishment is remarkable.

And the punishment is just that -- punishment. Skaters POUND their joints with tremendous force in practice and in competitions. The WSJ had a front-page article on the damage that skaters do to their bodies thanks to the repeated beatings they give themselves on landing (including one male competitive skater who had to have both hips replaced and he's thin and 33; The Monk is burly and 35 and my hips are ok), especially because skating equipment is based on a 100+ year old design that has not been updated in the wake of increased orthopedic research as the skaters have increased the athleticism and intensity of their routines in the past decades.

Another problem -- the nature of the training. The International Skating Federation did away with compulsory figures after the 1994 games -- those triple circle/multiple figure 8/retrace the pattern required tasks that put the FIGURE into figure skating. The compulsories used to be worth 30% of the final score, but they were pits where gold medal hopes died. Thus the skaters would train for hours DAILY on the figures, then work on their programs. Without the compulsory exercises, skaters train for their leaps and twists much more, which means more landings, more impacts and more injuries.

So the skaters are tremendous athletes. And that's what I watched last night.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

RIP, the one-armed man

Received notice from Mark Krikorian at NRO: top character actor Andreas Katsulas died last Monday at age 59 due to lung cancer.

Katsulas was a "that guy" actor who everyone has seen and recognizes but may not be able to identify. Most notably, he played the one-armed man in the 1993 feature film The Fugitive. He is also a household face to the geek set -- he played Commander Tomalak on Star Trek: The Next Generation and finally obtained a regular TV role as Ambassador G'Kar on Babylon 5. The Tomalak episodes are among the best of the STTNG catalogue.


Crimson tragedy

The forces of darkness won a battle today.

Larry Summers, President of Harvard, has announced his resignation at the end of the academic year. Summers, who precipitated a tempest in a teacup with comments at an academic conference on gender differences the better part of a year ago, apologized profusely but his relationship with the Faculty of Arts & Sciences deteriorated. The recent resignation of the Dean of the FAS, allegedly engineered by Summers, made his position untenable. Even though the Board of Harvard Corporation, which has the sole power to dismiss him, continued to support Summers the feud passed beyond repair.

This whole matter has been a disgrace. The worst of it is that large elements of the Harvard faculty still viciously went after Summers despite his numerous and nearly abject apologies and creation of a various committees. He should NEVER, EVER have apologized in the first place. Appeasement of dictators, real or academic, never works. Dollars to doughnuts that the new President will be a 'unifying figure'; i.e., a spineless wimp.

Chertoff on Homeland Security

This is from last week [I'm still catching up] but well worthwhile. From NRO's Jay Nordlinger on his interview with Michael Chertoff at Davos:

Chertoff has a reputation for being one of the brainiest people in government — a reputation an encounter with him does nothing to belie. A lawyer, he clerked for Justice Brennan. Later, he was a U.S. attorney, then special counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee.

Why hasn't the U.S. been hit in over four years? Why hasn't there been another 9/11?

Chertoff says that government measures have to be credited — both those undertaken abroad and those undertaken at home. In the first category: killing members of al Qaeda; capturing others; interrogating them. In the second category: better screening at the border and on airplanes. A variety of measures have made our country safer — you can't pick out a single one and say, "That's it."

What about the NSA surveillance program?

Chertoff says that this is the kind of tool that "could well have made a difference," if it had been available before 9/11. In general, "the most significant tactic in the war against terrorism is intelligence gathering." And "a significant part of that" concerns communications intelligence.
And is it legal, this program?

Chertoff speaks about a "very strong basis in the law for what the president has done," although, of course, "people can debate anything." Chertoff cites the authority of the FISA court of review. He further notes that, traditionally, when a person or an object — or a phone call — crosses a border, the government is given extraordinary power.

What's more, the Fourth Amendment is not a "real problem," for the NSA program. This is an amendment that's "couched in pragmatic terms." It speaks of "unreasonable searches and seizures," etc. And let us be reasonable: OSHA can come into your business and search without a warrant. And if the government can search for labor-law violations without a warrant — what about searching for terrorists coming in from overseas?
The Patriot Act?

Chertoff virtually wrote it, while at the Justice Department. When I suggest this, Chertoff demurs — but quickly says, "It's fair to say I was one of the authors. I'm not running away from it. I think it was a great act — but I want to share credit."

Look, he says: Lots of things that come up in the War on Terror "engender debate" — but "the Patriot Act is not a hard question. It's a no-brainer." There is nothing in the act, continues Chertoff, that would establish a procedure or tactic that is not well precedented, often used in other contexts. Take the information sharing: Nobody could have a "serious quarrel" with that. Before the Patriot Act, the government was fighting "with one hand tied behind its back."

How do you go about disrupting attacks?

You can't afford to wait until you get a big, big case — the one where you can say, "Ha! We stopped that one, in the nick of time!" If you wait until terrorists' plans are almost operational, "you are playing with fire."

DHS's job is to intervene in order to avert dangers, at the earliest stages possible, with the legal tools that are available. Before a fellow is able to make a bomb, get him on forged identification. Deport him for violating immigration laws — whatever. This is the old spitting-on-the-sidewalk wisdom.
Americans — some of them — are uncomfortable saying, "These are the things we value, these are the things that are important to us." We want to be extremely tolerant of all points of view. But we should not renounce our ability to say, "This is right, this is wrong."

That's one thing about the president: "He's perfectly willing to say, 'This is right, this is wrong,'" and that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. But, says Chertoff, "I disagree: At the end of the day, if we're not prepared to identify right and wrong, and defend our values and our lives, in a clear-eyed way, then I think we're putting our society at risk."

A decent win; about time

My Orange from SU finally pulled off a decent win by knocking off West Virginia last night. There have been entirely too many embarrassments in the Orange's season (88-80 [not that close] and 73-50 losses to UConn, 80-65 loss to 'Nova, 80-67 loss to Pitt, 82-65 loss at home to Cincy) and they stem from an inability to defend consistently, erratic play from the forwards and an over-reliance on McNamara. Those factors go hand-in-glove -- because the defense has been soft and the forwards unreliable, G-Mac places the onus on himself to shoot the team into the game. It hasn't happened this season and when G-Mac shoots too much without rhythm, SU loses (one word: Vermont).

I cannot overstate G-Mac's importance to SU's 2003 title run, nor its Sweet 16 run in 2004 after losing Billy Edelin and having to revamp the team's approach in midseason. This year, the team looks to him almost too much. If it cannot play defense and keep opponents' FG% down, this won't be a dangerous team (as Coach Boeheim believes it can), but just another one-and-done if it reaches the NCAA Tourney at all.

On the other side, West Virginia is slumping but that team is very dangerous in the NCAAs. Why? The Mountaineers can shoot three-pointers very well, their outside gunners have quick releases and their ball-movement is pure Euro-style -- cross-court swing passes, drive-and-kick, rapid passing, etc. That style gives teams absolute fits on defense -- just ask WVU's victims in last year's NCAA and its vanquisher, Louisville.

Burying Stalin

Nikita Khruschev's great-granddaughter takes no small quantum of pride from his denunciation of Stalin. But she raises a couple of good points in an interesting op-ed in the LA Times that argues the Russians deserve better than Putin's creeping despotism. Here is what Khruschev's denunciation of Stalin wrought, in her opinion:

. . . to his credit, when he denounced Stalin before the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, my great-grandfather had the courage to admit that communism (and its leaders) could make mistakes. Denouncing Stalin — and acknowledging for the first time the details of some of the murders, purges and coerced confessions — was a morally necessary act, Khrushchev said later. After his "involuntary" retirement in 1964 when he was ousted as first secretary of the party, Khrushchev confessed he had needed to tell the story in part because his own arms were "covered with blood up to the elbows."

Yes, Khrushchev helped build the despotic Soviet system, but he also called for its reform. And even though he did it by attacking the corruption of communism rather than communism itself, the speech served as a catalyst, sowing early disillusionment with Marxism-Leninism. It transformed the image of the Soviet Union in the minds of millions of people. It was the first crack in the monolith, and without it, it might have taken another 100 years for the socialist countries to enjoy the post-communist freedoms they have today.

I believe that the speech . . . marked the beginning of the end, when fear began to be replaced by freedom. It led to the release of some prisoners from Stalin's gulags. It opened the country to some foreign visitors and products. It helped awaken the first stirrings of the dissident movement that ultimately led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, 20 years after my great-grandfather died.

Yes, this overstates the case to no small degree. After all, Khruschev's denunciation occurred in the same year of the Hungarian Uprising, 1956; and having been to Hungary, The Monk will attest to the Magyars' long memory. But Stalin's image as kindly old Uncle Joe, instead of the mass-murdering totalitarian that Churchill (but not FDR) knew him to be, still resonated in 1956 with more than a few people in the US and the Western European nations that the US and UK freed from the Nazis. Khruschev's revelation was the first public denigration of Stalin by his political progeny.

More Kelo backlash = states uphold the Constitution better than the Supreme Court

A long piece in the NY Times noting how various states have increased protections for homeowners in the wake of the Supreme Court's execrable Kelo decision last year. The Times piece is decidedly pro-Kelo (note the prevalence and quantity of quotes from such organizations as the National League of Cities, a group that favors expanded eminent domain powers), but highly informative of how the states have reacted. Most notably, anti-Kelo amendments and laws that restrict eminent domain to public end uses have overwheming popular and lawmaker support that crosses party lines.

More about the Kelo decision here, here and here.

Hottest US Olympian ever?

Congratulations Tanith Belbin! [and Ben Agosto]

Monday, February 20, 2006

Politically tone-deaf -- the UAE's port administration

As you may have heard recently, a UK company that runs port operations in New Orleans, Miami, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, and NEW YORK CITY has been bought out. The buyer: Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is the banking and commercial capital of the Arab world. One of the 9-11-01 bombers was an Emirate citizen and Dubai banks helped finance the operation.

The acquisition's affect on US ports -- that is, keeping the management contract with Dubai Ports World -- had to be approved by the Treasury Department acting in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security and some other agencies. Allowing DP World to run ports in four major Northeastern port cities and the two most important ports with Caribbean access is really quite politically stupid.

The Administration may be trusting in the Customs Service to police the ports, but New York lawmakers are displeased, including Administration ally Peter King. King's criticisms are potentially devastating:

. . . a skeptical King said the investigation was "cursory and superficial," adding he's been briefed on the supposed safeguards and they amount to just asking the UAE company to watch out for security concerns.

"That only makes sense if you trust the company to begin with," King added, noting that the Bush administration panel that approved the deal is focused on encouraging foreign investment — not protecting U.S. security.

King noted that the same company managed the port in Dubai, where it is believed that weapons were allowed to transfer to Iran. He questioned why it should be trusted to provide better security in the United States.

King said he suspects the deal was rushed through without scrutiny from top U.S. officials, but now Bush is reluctant to stop it because "it could create a diplomatic debacle with the UAE."

Worse yet, the NY/NJ Port Authority lacked knowledge of the deal and is asking the administration for information.

For more, see LawHawk (who's NJ based and following closely), and Michelle Malkin is predictably but rightly concerned.

French strength

Marc Perelman of the Dallas Morning News reviews France's domestic anti-terror policy and notes that there are a lot of aspects of the French system that make it favorable for domestic terrorism prevention. Most notably, no walls between police and intelligence services:

France's early awareness of the terrorist threat grew out of experience rather than prescience. France was the first Western country struck on its soil by state-sponsored terrorism from the Middle East. France had been hit by terrorist attacks linked to the war in Algeria in the 1950s and to Palestinian groups in the 1970s. But, much like the United States on the morning of 9/11, France was caught largely unprepared when a series of deadly attacks shook Paris in the mid-1980s.

The new terror wave, allegedly ordered by Iran and Syria, involved a geopolitical dimension that the antiquated French police and justice systems were in no position to counter. That prompted the adoption in 1986 of a comprehensive anti-terrorism law, which set up a centralized unit of investigating magistrates in Paris – led by Mr. Marsaud and later by Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière – with jurisdiction over all terrorism cases. Unlike normal French criminal proceedings, terrorist trials in France are judged only by panels of professional magistrates, without the participation of juries.

In the French system, an investigating judge is the equivalent of an empowered U.S. prosecutor. The judge is in charge of a secret probe, through which he or she can file charges, order wiretaps and issue warrants and subpoenas. The conclusions of the judge are then transmitted to the prosecutor's office, which decides whether to send the case to trial.

The anti-terrorist magistrates have even broader powers than their peers. For instance, they can request the assistance of the police and intelligence services, order the preventive detention of suspects for six days without charge and justify keeping someone behind bars for several years pending an investigation.

* * *
By contrast, in the U.S. judicial system, the evidence gathered by prosecutors is laid out during the trial, in what amounts to a make-or-break gamble. A single court, the "secret" panel of 11 judges, established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) more than two decades ago, is charged with reviewing wiretap requests by U.S. authorities. If suspects are spied on without permission in the interest of urgency, the authorities have 72 hours to file for retroactive authorization.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Islamofascist thuggery and the US Media

Jeff Jacoby notes the effects of Islamofascist thug tactics on the US media -- in contrast to more than two dozen papers in Europe that have published the Danish cartoons in a show of solidarity with Jyllands-Posten, only a handful or so in the US have published the pictures. Many more have used weasel logic or vapid idiocies (i.e., they wouldn't print anti-Semitic or anti-black cartoons -- complete rubbish as Jacoby notes). At least the Boston Phoenix had the honesty to admit it had been terrorized into silence.

The impact is clear, as Jacoby notes:

Like the Nazis in the 1930s and the Soviet communists in the Cold War, the Islamofascists are emboldened by appeasement and submissiveness. Give the rampagers and book-burners a veto over artistic and editorial decisions, and you end up not with heightened sensitivity and cultural respect, but with more rampages and more books burned. You betray ideals that generations of Americans have died to defend.

And worse than that: You betray as well the dissidents and reformers within the Islamic world, the Muslim Sakharovs and Sharanskys and Havels who yearn for the free, tolerant, and democratic culture that we in the West take for granted. What they want to see from America is not appeasement and apologies and a dread of giving offense. They want to see us face down the fanatics, be unintimidated by bullies. They want to know that in the global struggle against Islamist extremism, we won't let them down.

More reasons to like John Howard

Still like Aussie Prime Minister John Howard -- he speaks with a refreshing clarity and directness you'll never see from European or American politicians.

While he remained confident that the overwhelming majority of Muslims would be successfully integrated, the Prime Minister said there were two unique problems that previous intakes of migrants from Europe and Asia did not have.

"I do think there is this particular complication because there is a fragment which is utterly antagonistic to our kind of society, and that is a difficulty," Mr Howard told The Australian. "You can't find any equivalent in Italian, or Greek, or Lebanese, or Chinese or Baltic immigration to Australia. There is no equivalent of raving on about jihad, but that is the major problem."

The Prime Minister also expressed concern about Muslim attitudes to women. "I think some of the associated attitudes towards women (are) a problem," he said. "For all the conservatism towards women and so forth within some of the Mediterranean cultures, it's as nothing compared with some of the more extreme attitudes. The second one of those things is a broader problem, but to be fair to them, it's an attitude that is changing with the younger ones."

* * *
"What resonates most with people, I find, is they don't mind where new people come from, as long as they've got skills, and as long as they become Australians when they arrive."

Gasoline on a fire?

The Danish imams who sought to create a transnational issue out of the Jyllands-Posten publication of cartoons on Muslims, including the turban-bomb drawing, needed to add THREE MUCH MORE OFFENSIVE pictures in order to stir up the faithful and ensure the Islamic Conference would act in its December 2005 meeting. Gateway Pundit has the three fakes that were publicized in combination with the 12 depictions that Jyllands-Posten carried. Notably, the imams didn't see fit to point out the fakes to the Egyptian and Saudi press organs that carried the pictures and represented that they had been published in Denmark.

Meanwhile, Instapundit carried the two most offensive ones that ACTUALLY appeared in Jyllands-Posten. His verdict, unsurprisingly, not something to riot about.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A Hanson Double

Victor Hanson nourishes us with TWO mind vitamins today. First, in the Chicago Trib, he gives a short synopsis of the appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s and draws the lessons for today.

The point of the comparison is not to suggest that history simply repeats itself, but to learn why intelligent people delude themselves into embracing naive policies. After the removal of the Taliban and Hussein, the furious reply of the radical Islamist world was to censor Western newspapers, along with Iran's accelerated efforts to get the bomb.

Next, in National Review, he backs up the instinct rational people have that Iran should not get a nuke with a fully reasoned analysis of WHY:

We can argue all we want over the solution — it is either immoral to use military force or immoral not to use it; air strikes are feasible or will be an operational disaster; dissidents will rise up or have already mostly been killed or exiled; Russia and China will help solve or will instead enjoy our dilemma; Europe is now on board or is already triangulating; the U.N. will at last step in, or is more likely to damn the United States than Teheran.

Yet where all parties agree is that a poker-faced United States seems hesitant to act until moments before the missiles are armed, and is certainly not behaving like the hegemon or imperialist power so caricatured by Michael Moore and an array of post-September 11 university-press books. Until there is firm evidence that Iran has the warheads ready, the administration apparently does not wish to relive the nightmare of the past three years in which striking Iran will conjure up all the old Iraqi-style hysteria about unilateralism, preemption, incomplete or cooked intelligence, imperialism, and purported hostility toward a Muslim country.

In the greatest irony of all, the Left (who must understand well the nightmarish scenario of a fascist Iran with nuclear weapons) is suddenly bewildered by George Bush's apparent multilateral caution. The Senate Democrats don't know whether to attack the administration now for its nonchalance or to wait and second-guess them once the bombs begin to fall.

McCarthy 1, Will 0

I've long admired George Will, as has PaMonk. But Will did two things in his column yesterday ripping the Administration for its NSA surveillance that he normally does not: (1) he let his emotions have free reign -- an uncharacteristic display from the most Spockian (Star Trek Spock) columnist on the Right; (2) he flat out misrepresented a legal precedent -- the Steel Seizure Cases -- by claiming that the Supreme Court had determined "presidential authority is weakest when it clashes with Congress." Will is wrong, only Justice Jackson's concurring opinion (see here for the case and scroll down) promulgated that view. That view ignores the express delineation of presidential power in Article II of the Constitution and the President's primacy in areas of war, foreign policy and military command.

Will is right that the Administration's technical arguments are not strong, nor have they been stated in a convincing manner. Andy McCarthy disagrees.

Instead, the President should assert his constitutional authority as the head of state, the commander in chief and the director of the US foreign policy.

Andy McCarthy tears Will's argument up in the column linked in the title of this post. Here is the crux of McCarthy's argument:

. . . for all Will's bombast about the Constitution's plain language and structure, it is difficult to imagine anything that would have been more startling to those who crafted our fundamental law than the suggestion that the president of the United States needs a federal judge's permission to intercept the international communications of a wartime enemy that seeks, above all else, to mount a massive attack against the homeland.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sale-Pelletier flashback

Get it while you can: a flashback to a Mark Steyn column on the Sale-Pelletier judging fiasco from the 2002 Winter Olympics. Remember that one? The Russian pairs honked their long program with technical mistakes and the artistry of constipated sloths; the the Canadians blew the roof off the place and nailed their whole program. But the Eastern bloc judges and the French judge somehow gave the Russians the win. After tremendous public pressure, the IOC did a half-right move by awarding Sale and Pelletier a second gold; in all honesty, it should have reversed the gold-silver result.

Here now, excerpts:

. . . Something strange happened as the week wore on. The more the networks rebroadcast Jamie and David’s entire routine, the more choreographically dramatic and passionate it seemed to become, heightened as it was by fresh revelations of the great injustice, and brief talk-show glimpses of the team’s off-ice love for each other. . .

This apparently is why pairs skating is big business: the audience projects its own romantic fancies on to the couples, no matter how fantastical it might be, especially in the case of some of those ice-dancing chaps. It’s hard to imbue any other Olympic sport with affairs of the heart. Few of us watch the two-man luge and coo, “Oh, it’s so romantic! Look at how the top guy arches his back to avoid crushing the bottom guy’s nuts! It’s obvious they’re in love!”

Romantic projection seems as sound a judging method as anything else. After Monday’s fiasco, there were half-hearted attempts by the experts to attribute it to “cultural” differences: the Russians, Chinese et al would have preferred something classical rather than a sappy Seventies movie score. It was mooted that Jamie and David had made a big mistake by wearing sober, stylish, non-risible grey without any sequins or tassels. In other words, the judges are looking for high-toned symphonic music interpreted by guys in spangly pink bolero jackets. By interpreting cheesy music in serious clothes, Jamie and David had given the fatal impression they’d been reading the instruction manual upside down.

* * *
When it was pointed out that even these technical considerations didn’t quite cover the outrageous farrago of the pairs results, the officials, privately and publicly, offered various explanations, all of which were notable for the almost insouciant lack of pretence that there was any integrity to the judging process. There were those who tried to pass it off as some sort of typing error on the memo: the mandatory ice-dancing fix had somehow erroneously got extended to the freestyle pairs. Asked to respond to rumours that the French judge, Marie Reine Le Gougne, had been pressured into voting for the Russians, the French Skating Federation said Mme Le Gougne was “emotionally fragile”. They should know. By the end of the week, when she was ejected from the judges’ panel, it emerged that they were the ones pressuring her to switch votes. Who, in turn, was pressuring the Federation was less clear, at least officially.

Five months to the day after September 11th, another sinister foreign conspiracy had struck on American soil, and once again underestimated American resolve. Had Skategate taken place in a foreign city before a foreign audience and been broadcast over here in the middle of the night, they might have pulled it off. Instead, despite IOC President Jacques Rogge’s insistence that this is a new Olympic era, the usual corrupt officials blithely assumed they could get away with “victimising a North American pair on North American soil”, as Cam Cole put it in The National Post – and live in US primetime, to boot.

For all that pious guff about not tainting the “Olympic ideals”, the best Games have always been those infected by politics: a racially inferior Negro driving Hitler nuts by taking four medals in ’36; the mad-as-hell Magyars who, a month after the Hungarian uprising, whupped the Soviets in a brutal water-polo match in Melbourne in 1956 . . . to be honest, in the last decade the Olympics hasn’t been what it was. But what happened this week was, like the 1980 US-Soviet hockey match, not just a clash of sportsmen, but a clash of the dominant political philosophies of the day: on the one hand, the moral clarity of post-September 11th America; on the other, the principal challenger to that vision - the multilateralists who insist that any international deal is worth going along with: Kyoto, Durban, the quickstep round of the ice-dancing competition. In the week before Jamie and David hit the ice, you couldn’t pick up a paper without seeing something from Chris Patten or Lionel Jospin deploring the Americans’ lack of “sophistication”. Hubert Védrine, the French Foreign Minister, disdained what he called the “simplistic” approach of the Bush Administration.

Well, we got a good look last week at what French “sophistication” amounts to in practice. It doesn’t matter whether it’s because they’re “emotionally fragile” (like Mme Le Gougne) or just duplicitous bastards (like her Skating Federation), those two options accounting for pretty much every significant event in modern French history. It’s one thing for the “sophisticates” to insist in their own deranged media that the Americans didn’t really win in Afghanistan, it’s quite another thing to insist in the great state of Utah that two plucky Canadians didn’t win in the figure skating. The ISU conceded on Friday that “public opinion” – i.e., Americans - had persuaded them to award a belated gold to Salé and Pelletier, implying that once they’re on the plane back to Europe the skating establishment can resume business as usual. Maybe they can. But for now they’ve learned that, at least on US soil, the new Bush Doctrine applies not just to rogue states but to Rogge states, too.

The UN's moral blindness: Gitmo and torture

The UN report calling for the US to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detainee camp is full of the usual incorrect and morally reprehensible characterizations that have clouded the perceptions of the UN and Europeans on this issue.

First, the facts:

(1) EACH AND EVERY DETAINEE is a person captured on or about a field of battle and did not have any uniform, responsible national authority and is not entitled to the protections of a prisoner of war under the Third Geneva Convention. Instead, each could have been shot as a spy at the time of capture.

(2) Torture has a specific definition in the United Nations Convention Against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and the US subjected itself to the UNCAT only as to its torture provisions.

Now the key findings by the UN: (a) that the Gitmo detention "amount[s] to torture" and that, in the words of its investigator for torture Manfred Nowak
Those people should be released or brought before an independent court. That should not be done in Guantanamo Bay, but before ordinary U.S. courts, or courts in their countries of origin or perhaps an international tribunal.

In other words, terrorists now should have rights above and beyond the rights of prisoners of war, countries no longer have the right to protect themselves from terrorists by holding them until the end of hostilities, and fighting terrorism is merely a police action. This is a morally reprehensible formulation because it gives TERRORISTS far more rights than legitimate combatants.

It is also morally foolish because either the terrorists at Gitmo are being actually tortured by infliction of pain or mental distress, or they are not. Unlike Saddam's victims in his jails, torture chambers and rape closets, the Gitmo detainees are kept in humane cells, fed regularly (many GAINED weight!), allowed to worship and provided with Korans.

Furthermore, Nowak's conceptualization of the situation is intellectually deficient: there is no treatment that would "amount to torture" -- that's equivalent to "nearly pregnant" or "slightly dead".

President Bush should reject the conclusions out of hand. And the US should start forcing the UN to comply with its own Geneva Convention language.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Classmate news

Sandi Dubowski is a classmate and old friend of The Monk and Wongdoer. He looks basically the same now as he did then, whereas The Monk is fatter and Wongdoer is beaten down and tore up.

The Monk remembers playing basketball with him, Wongdoer and another Monkfriend after hanging out in Brooklyn. We got along well -- and you can easily tell from his bio that Dubowski's politics are not allied with that of The Monk or Wongdoer. The Monk also remembers riding the subway with Dubowski and another friend one afternoon when the other friend interrogated Dubowski and excoriated him for not engaging in (ahem) amorous activities with a female classmate who presented Dubowski with opportunity, means and explicit consent one night after the high school's repertory company's cast party. Dubowski's reason for abstinence later became quite clear.

In college, Dubowski came out of the closet (at least to those of us who did not know otherwise) in an emotional article chronicling his inner struggles with his own homosexuality in one of Harvard's underground newspapers. He became active in ACT-UP and other homosexual-activist organizations. He is now a filmaker, and a controversial one at that. His first notoriety arose from his documentary about gay Orthodox Jews, Trembling Before G-d. Now he's set his sights on another religion:

Sandi Dubowski, who won the Teddy gay and lesbian award in 2001 for his controversial doc[umentary] "Trembling Before G-d," may cause an even bigger stir with "In the Name of Allah," which explores the struggles of homosexual Muslims.

It takes no small amount of courage to produce a film on this subject in the face of the prejudice and violence that can result. But as his coming out article 16+ years ago indicated, Dubowski has long since mastered any crises of courage.

Chronicles of European Tolerance

More monkey noises and racial epithets targeted at black soccer players in the progressive, open, multicultural, tolerant and equal societies of Europe. Today's racism -- from fans of Real Betis mocking a player for Deportivo Coruna. I wonder how the black Betis forward who endured racial abuse in Zaragosa feels . . .


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Thank goodness for Fox?

The Monk is slightly more interested in the Winter Olympics than he is in college hockey -- that is, not much. Even with the WINTER Olympics -- i.e., the less familiar and less interesting one to American audiences -- and even with those Olympics on a minimum 5-6 hour tape delay when they air in primetime (thus allowing anyone curious to find out what happened by just clicking on the Winter Olympics link on Yahoo!), most TV networks have abandoned the field for the February sweeps and are airing repeats galore.

Worst offender: CBS, which won't even air new episodes of CSI, CSI: NY, Without a Trace or Criminal Minds -- its two Thursday night and Wednesday night stalwarts. Instead, all four shows are repeats both this week and next. Monkette2B is especially displeased -- she watches all regularly except CSI: NY. CBS is even ditching its Monday night lineup of comedies and CSI-Miami (a repeat of Courting Alex -- a show that is just a few weeks old?).

At least ABC is airing a new Boston Legal episode next Tuesday, a new Lost episode tomorrow, new Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy episodes next Sunday (as it did this past Sunday) and ensuring new product for its series' devotees.

Least worst offender: Fox, which will continue to air new episodes of 24, House, Bones and is challenging the Olympic dominance with a super-sized version of American Idol next Tuesday (which is bumping House to 8 EST next Monday as a lead-in to 24).

Too bad the network that now has some of the best shows on TV is abandoning the field for a fortnight.

Answer the question, Alan

Alan Schwarz asks why the AL is dominating the NL at this point . . . and doesn't give an answer. What a cop-out.

Next time, ask me.

Churchill or Chamberlain

Whose path will Europe follow in the face of Islamic fascism? The bet here is on Chamberlain until (and unless) the next Churchillians win elections in France, Spain, Italy and win clearly in Germany.

Excerpts from Victor Hanson's column:

Here is what we can probably anticipate. First will come a radical departure from past immigration practices. Islam will be praised; the Middle East assured that Europe is tolerant—but very few newcomers from across the Mediterranean let in.

There will be continued public furor over the American efforts in Iraq, but far greater secret efforts to coordinate with the United States—in everything from isolating the Assad regime in Syria to rethinking missile defense. For the past three years the post-colonial Europeans have wished the Americans to learn their imperial lessons by failing in Iraq. Yet it may well be that many in private will now wish us to succeed, if only in the hopes that such Middle East democracies will be less likely in the future to turn loose their mobs to burn European embassies and threaten their citizens.

We won’t see much public condemnation of Hamas, but more likely quiet efforts to pull the plug slowly on subsidies for such terrorists. The Europeans praised Arafat, then learned that he was singularly corrupt. Nothing disturbs a European more than to be swindled and damned as immoral in the process. Subsidies to Jew-hating Hamas terrorists only ensure both.

Europe will still talk about bringing Turkey into the fold of the West, but de facto is horrified at the thought that millions of a religion that empowers so many to go berserk over a few cartoons might soon comprise the most populous nation of Europe. I doubt any European diplomat will invest any political capital at all in restarting in earnest Turkish/European Union talks.

* * *
Finally, the Europeans who despised the unilateral and preemptory George Bush will start to grate at his new multilateral side even more. Be careful what you wish for, especially when an American leader may now not necessarily be such an easy target of caricature—or may not always do the dirty work of fighting jihadists from Pakistan to the Sunni Triangle.

A fine day

No, not today. Not Valentine's Day.


Pitchers and catchers report.

Priorities, people, priorities.

In Praise of the 3rd Armored Cavalry

From the mayor of the Iraqi town of Tall'Afar - former base of Zarqawi - to the US 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment:

In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful

To the Courageous Men and Women of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who have changed the city of Tall’ Afar from a ghost town, in which terrorists spread death and destruction, to a secure city flourishing with life.

To the lion-hearts who liberated our city from the grasp of terrorists who were beheading men, women and children in the streets for many months.

To those who spread smiles on the faces of our children, and gave us restored hope, through their personal sacrifice and brave fighting, and gave new life to the city after hopelessness darkened our days, and stole our confidence in our ability to reestablish our city.

Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi. The city was completely held hostage in the hands of his henchmen. Our schools, governmental services, businesses and offices were closed. Our streets were silent, and no one dared to walk them. Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner. Terrorists occupied and controlled the only hospital in the city. Their savagery reached such a level that they stuffed the corpses of children with explosives and tossed them into the streets in order to kill grieving parents attempting to retrieve the bodies of their young. This was the situation of our city until God prepared and delivered unto them the courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who liberated this city, ridding it of Zarqawi’s followers after harsh fighting, killing many terrorists, and forcing the remaining butchers to flee the city like rats to the surrounding areas, where the bravery of other 3d ACR soldiers in Sinjar, Rabiah, Zumar and Avgani finally destroyed them.

From the Mudville Gazette via LGF.


On holiday and on a dial-up line so am going to try to use Instapundit's style.

Al Gore is an SOB.

An outspoken patriotic American who loves the liberation of Iraq. Who is also a devout Muslim.

Nestle hits a new low.

The daughter of a martyr explains how today's Islam has become a culture of hate.

Canada's Western Standard is publishing the cartoons. Bravo.

Democrats: It's OK to cheat in elections

The execrable Democratic Party in heavily blue Maryland has made this claim by passing three election related bills that encourage voter fraud and have overridden Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich's vetoes.

Together the election laws would so weaken safeguards against voter fraud as to make Maryland the nation's prime example of Election Day irresponsibility.

The gravity of the changes is causing dismay, and not just for the governor. A bipartisan state advisory commission headed by the revered George Beall, the former U.S. attorney who convicted Spiro Agnew of tax evasion, had urged legislators to sustain the Ehrlich vetoes.

The most troublesome bill undermines the concept of local polling places by allowing all voters to vote anywhere in Maryland using a provisional ballot. ...[T]he Beall commission [to] warn[s] that it would mean "a provisional ballot could be cast successfully in multiple counties and not be detected until after the votes were certified."

Another bill would allow any voter to cast an absentee ballot for any reason... Evidence also shows that absentee ballots are the most susceptible to fraud--and do not increase voter turnout.

A third bill imposes an unfunded mandate requiring all of Maryland's counties to let voters cast ballots during the five days before Election Day...

Common Cause, which supports early voting, urged legislators to delay its implementation until 2008. The warnings fell on deaf ears. "You'll always have fraud, you can forget about that," Democratic state legislator Gareth Murray told colleagues. "I'm sick and tired of hearing we're not ready." Maryland will now become the only state in the nation to allow statewide early voting on touch-screen machines that lack a verifiable paper trail.

The Democrats' dirty desire for stuffing the ballot hardly ends in Maryland:

Last September, a national commission headed by Jimmy Carter and James Baker recommended that all states require a valid photo ID to vote. Indeed, many states are now moving to boost polling safeguards. This month, Georgia's Legislature passed a revised law requiring every voter show a photo ID. Despite claims by NAACP chairman Julian Bond that a photo ID represents "an onerous poll tax," 10 House Democrats voted "aye." After all, the new Georgia law requires issuance of a free ID to anyone now lacking one.

Other legislatures are preparing to pass similar photo ID laws based on the recommendations of the Carter-Baker commission. They include Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, although Democratic governors in the last two are poised to veto them.

Democrats-the party of the people. Their people.

Monday, February 13, 2006


A quick note on the latest drama in the Olympics -- one that will be entirely too prominent and overplayed in the coming weeks.

Yesterday, Michelle Kwan pulled out of the Olympic women's figure skating. She should never have entered.

Thankfully, Emily Hughes will get her chance to compete, even though her chance to win a medal is minimal, at best.

The Kwan saga is one for TV, but not for realists. Kwan is a nine-time US champion, a five-time World champion and a zero-time Olympic champion. Her record of accomplishments is longer than Tookie Williams' rap sheet. She's 25, that means she's "old" for her sport. She sought to win the Olympic gold for the first time ever after the US Olympic Committee inexplicably allowed Tonya Harding to retain her spot in 1994 after the Kerrigan assault (Kerrigan's medical waiver was entirely justified -- Harding's thugs had whacked her in the knee); after Kwan lost to super-pixie Tara Lipinski in 1998; and after Kwan simply choked in 2002, opening the door for Sarah Hughes to win gold after the skate of her life.

Kwan wanted another chance, but a groin injury forced her to miss the US championships, which normally determine the three US representatives at the Olympics. So she applied for a medical waiver and a spot on the team. Despite a groin pull that made her incapable of completing the jumps she normally could complete, the USOC thought she was a good chance for a US medal and let her on the team. Poor work all around.

The fact is that Kwan does NOT do the triple jumps that have become staples of the best women's figure skaters' programs -- and she never has (that's part of why Lipinski beat her in '98). She cannot complete the triple-triple combinations that set Sasha Cohen and the next wave of top competitors apart. And Kwan's program is "less difficult" than her competitors' -- thereby knocking down her score under a new scoring system that will be used in the Olympics. Kwan's best finish under the new system was 4th-place in last year's world championships -- a dismal result for someone who had won a medal nine consecutive years in that event.

The Monk has minimal affection for Kwan, and perhaps unjustifiably so, primarily because the media has fixated on her. First, it continually harped on her "surprise" in 1998 when Lipinski simply outperformed her. Then, it banged its drum about her sadness and "disappointment" in 2002, when she choked horribly while Hughes shocked the world with an exceptional performance (which was scored too low thanks to the judges' practice of reserving higher marks for medal favorites -- nonetheless, she won). This year, Kwan acted selfishly, although understandably. But the diva act wore thin quickly. And the USOC failed to choose the right action -- it credulously thought she could win when she could barely compete.

The media has fixated on Kwan because she is a champion, but also because it failed the nation's lone Asian-American ice queen so badly. Historically, US gold medal women's figure skaters have won stardom and adulation (and often fortune) after becoming an Olympic champion -- [Dr.] Carol Heiss, Tenley Albright, Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill. The tale of Kristi Yamaguchi, who in 1992 became the US's first Olympic gold medal winner in women's figure skating since Dorothy Hamill, is a simple one -- she FINALLY won the ice queen competition to become America's first gold medalist in the event in 16 years, but failed to gain the endorsements, accolades and prominence that awaited the ladies who failed to succeed Hamill before Yamaguchi won (Linda Frattiani, 1980; Rosalyn Sumners, 1984; Debi Thomas, 1988). Kerrigan received more endorsements and more accolades than Yamaguchi, and she only won silver (like Sumners and Frattiani). Kwan was the chance for the media to redeem itself for its failure in 1992. But Kwan did not adhere to the script. Perhaps some additional accolades for Yamaguchi, the most anonymous of American ice queens, are in order.

Thought of the day: Israel in NATO

An idea that has merit in many ways: (1) potential deterrence of Iran due to collective defense pact instead of Iran's thought that it can weather an Israeli counter attack and survive; (2) recognizing that Israel is part of the West; (3) forcing the spineless European NATO members to be strong against Iran and Islamic nutter states.


"The limits of free expression cannot be set by the sensitivities of people who don't believe in it."

-- Michael Kinsley on the Muslim cartoon riots and the US response.

How to start a riot, Muslim style

The notion that the cartoon protests that swept through Muslim nations last week were merely a spontaneous and immediate reaction is simply false. After all, the Jyllands-Posten newspaper published the cartoons last September. Hassam Fatah, writing for the NYTimes news service, details how Muslim governments (especially Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia) turned a local non-violent protest by Muslims in a small European country into front-page world news by manipulating their populations, the press and the Europeans.

Thus, Bill Kristol accurately blasts the concepts of "insult" and "disrespect" when he asserts that the "cartoon jihad" is a phony. Note that his column includes a photo of the editions of Jyllands-Posten that contained the cartoons.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Victory for Muslim Extremists

The EU caves:

In an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph, EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said the [media code of conduct] charter would encourage the media to show "prudence" when covering religion.

"The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression," he told the newspaper. "We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."


Terrorist in my midst?

Seems Hamas leader Khaled Meshal's younger brother lived in Dallas and traveled the country as the frontman for an Arab rock group that played fundraisers before Arab-American audiences to raise money for Hamas. Not that much of a surprise -- the Dallas Central Mosque of Richardson, Texas and the Holy Land Foundation, also of Richardson, have ties to Hamas and have funneled money directly to the terrorist organization.

Todd Bensman of the local CBS affiliate has details.

Programming note

The Monk will be in Mexico for the weekend, internet access unknown.

Wongdoer is useless in general, more so tomorrow because he's taking his wife and 2.5 kids on vacation.

Expect light-to-no blogging here on TKM tomorrow. Sorry for those of you (if any exist) who depend upon us for their fix (imagine rotund short man ROTFL).

Sorry mess = which one

Jonah Goldberg's column in the LA Times bears the headline "One Sorry Mess of a Party". From the title alone, I couldn't tell which party he referred to (he's spanked the GOP before). Turns out, he's ripping the Democrats.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

An arsenal near Arsenal

British police raided the Finnsbury Park mosque in North London on January 20, 2003 and found a "mini-arsenal of weapons, terrorist paraphernalia and forged passports." The Independent reported on the contraband because the results of the raid had been kept secret pending the trial of race-baiting terror-supporting imam Abu Hamza on race hatred charges.

The Independent (a lefty newspaper) lists a "terrorist roll call" of Hamza associates who used the mosque as a terrorist organization base. Hamza received seven years in the can for convictions on 11 of 15 counts of incitement to murder (or variety thereof). The US wants him extradited States-side after he serves his time in the UK.

Muslim barbarity reaction

In addition to the fine editorial cartoon at left, the boys at Cox and Forkum have a fine compendium of stories and reactions to the Muslim fanaticism explosion that followed the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed and criticizing Islamic terrorism.

More reactions:

I like Ralph Peters in general, but his hatred of Europeans is far too deep, hence he comes up with a column more notable for a bit of moral equivalence than analysis.

James Pinkerton is more clear-eyed in his fine critique of multiculturalism that strikes at the main reason that the US has fewer problems with Muslim immigrants than the Europeans or Canadians:

Differences between the West and the Muslim world can be chalked up to just that - differences. That's the truth about world ethnicity, and no amount of politically correct wishful thinking will change that truth. Countries that ignore that basic lesson of history and political science put themselves at grave risk of internal discord, subversion and civil war. Either a country is united in its common culture or it becomes disunited in its multiculturalism.

For proof, we need only look to Europe, where millions of Muslims have been allowed to immigrate without much thought given to their political and cultural integration into their host societies. In London, Muslims responding to the Danish cartoons chanted pro-jihad slogans and carried signs reading "7/7 is on its way" - a reference to the terror bombings last July 7 that killed 52 innocent Britons. That's not free speech; that's incitement to violence. A nation allowing such hostile populations to flourish in its midst is not defending liberty. It is enabling its own national suicide.

Short of worldwide war, followed by occupation, there's not much the West can do about Muslim culture in Muslim lands. That's international multiculturalism, alas. But on the issue of intra-national multiculturalism, there's plenty we can do. We can monitor, we can insist upon political and cultural assimilation and we can impose strict controls on immigration and travel visas - down to zero if need be.

National Review (link in title of this post) has a cavalcade of opinion on the cartoons and the eruption of the "Muslim street."

UPDATE: I'm bumping this post up a day to add a couple of links and comments.

The Peters column I referenced above is an execrable exercise in both moral equivalence and blaming the victim. His logic is woefully poor. If the Danish paper acted irresponsibly merely by publishing the cartoons to make a stand against Islamic fundamentalism and for press freedom, while concurrently testing the boundaries of dialogue and objecting to an intimidation by Muslims to prevent Danish artists from illustrating a children's book about Islam (a multicultural activity designed to increase good feelings towards Islam in Denmark), then I'd expect Peters to say of Australian female victims of Muslim rape gangs that they acted irresponsibly by wearing her hair down or wearing shorts. The thought process alone is disgusting.

John O'Sullivan's column illuminates the mental poverty of Peters' piece by ridiculing calls for "restraint on both sides." Here's an excerpt:

. . . one side has published a handful of cartoons, arguably blasphemous and certainly insulting to the Prophet Mohammed, and the other side has burned embassies, taken hostages, murdered three people suspected of being Christians and/or Danes, shot at Danish soldiers helping children in Iraq, marched through London with banners threatening further bomb attacks on the city, and attacked and beaten people whom they suspected of some vague connection with, well, with Europe or Christianity.

Suppose both sides listen to these calls for restraint. What would happen? I suppose that one side would stop burning embassies and murdering people and the other side would no longer publish cartoons to which the murderers might object. That would mean the murderers had obtained their objective and the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons had been defeated in its campaign against the unofficial Islamist censorship that in recent years has spread across Europe by murder and intimidation.

Finally, the NY Press editorial staff made its own stand and walked out en masse when the paper's publishers refused to allow reprints of the Danish cartoons. Only three papers in the country, according to the NY Press' now-former editor, have published the cartoons. One is the NY Sun, one of the most honest newspapers in the country.

French valor

Jacques Chirac does a kiss-up to French Muslim radicals by blasting the French papers that carried the "offensive" cartoons first published in Denmark. Chirac condemned "all obvious provocations likely to dangerously kindle passions." In other words, because certain Muslims will act irrationally, the French should throw free speech in the rubbish bin.

Meanwhile some Muslim groups have acted responsibly and called for an end to the riots. Most notably, this one in Kabul:

"Islam says it's all right to demonstrate but not to resort to violence. This must stop," said senior cleric Mohammed Usman, a member of the Ulama Council — Afghanistan's top Islamic organization. "We condemn the cartoons but this does not justify violence. These rioters are defaming the name of Islam."

Line of the Day

NRO's Kathryn Jean Lopez reminds us today that one of the reasons why Phyllis Schlafly fought hard against the Equal Rights Amendment was:

"ERA would put 'gay rights' into the U.S. Constitution because the word in the amendment is 'sex,' not 'women.' Eminent authorities have stated that ERA would legalize the granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and generally implement the gay and lesbian agenda."

Here's the line of the day:

Sheila Cole, now a senior House staffer, wasn't alive yet when Schlafly was first taking on the ERA, but worked with Schlafly as executive director of Eagle Forum in the late 1990s. Cole remembers, "One of the things I learned from watching Phyllis is that you always have to think like a chess player when dealing with the radical feminists."

A good little history lesson.

What Mugabe has wrought

Zimbabwe is a basket case thugocracy. In the last 12-15 years or so (because the first 12 years of his rule were not a complete disaster), Robert Mugabe has taken the former breadbasket of southern Africa and a country with both great natural resources and a solid labor base and transformed it into a wasteland with no facilities, inadequate food production, nonexistent commerce and rampant poverty combined with an inflation rate that resembles Weimar Germany.

There is no ban on images of Mohammed

According to Amir Taheri, a prominent Iranian journalist and Middle Eastern scholar, the so-called ban on images of the Prophet is absolute bunk.

The Muslim Brotherhood's position, put by one of its younger militants, Tariq Ramadan--who is, strangely enough, also an adviser to the British home secretary--can be summed up as follows: It is against Islamic principles to represent by imagery not only Muhammad but all the prophets of Islam; and the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. Both claims, however, are false.
There is no Quranic injunction against images, whether of Muhammad or anyone else.
The claim that the ban on depicting Muhammad and other prophets is an absolute principle of Islam is also refuted by history. Many portraits of Muhammad have been drawn by Muslim artists, often commissioned by Muslim rulers. There is no space here to provide an exhaustive list, but these are some of the most famous:

A miniature by Sultan Muhammad-Nur Bokharai, showing Muhammad riding Buraq, a horse with the face of a beautiful woman, on his way to Jerusalem for his M'eraj or nocturnal journey to Heavens (16th century)...

Some of these can be seen in museums within the Muslim world, including the Topkapi in Istanbul, and in Bokhara and Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and Haroun-Walat, Iran (a suburb of Isfahan).
There has been other imagery: the Janissaries--the elite of the Ottoman army--carried a medallion stamped with the prophet's head (sabz qaba).

Read it all.

"The cartoons should be displayed everywhere."

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch Member of Parliament, was interviewed by Der Spiegel. Her movie, Submission, was directed by Theo van Gogh who was decapitated for his trouble. Ali, born in Somalia and formerly a Muslim is an eloquent and outspoken critic of fundamentalist Islam. Some of her [translated] comments:

SPIEGEL: What should the appropriate European response look like?

Hirsi Ali: There should be solidarity. The cartoons should be displayed everywhere. After all, the Arabs can't boycott goods from every country. They're far too dependent on imports. And Scandinavian companies should be compensated for their losses. Freedom of speech should at least be worth that much to us.

SPIEGEL: But Muslims, like any religious community, should also be able to protect themselves against slander and insult.

Hirsi Ali: That's exactly the reflex I was just talking about: offering the other cheek. Not a day passes, in Europe and elsewhere, when radical imams aren't preaching hatred in their mosques. They call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they're just exercising their freedom of speech. When will the Europeans realize that the Islamists don't allow their critics the same right? After the West prostrates itself, they'll be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless.
SPIEGEL: Is the Koran's claim to absoluteness, which you criticize in "Submission," the central obstacle to reforming Islam?

Hirsi Ali: The doctrine stating that the faith is inalterable because the Koran was dictated by God must be replaced. Muslims must realize that it was human beings who wrote the holy scriptures. After all, most Christians don't believe in hell, in the angels or in the earth having been created in six days. They now see these things as symbolic stories, but they still remain true to their faith.

[emphasis added]