Thursday, February 24, 2005

Churchill (Sir Winston, not Ward) On Islam 

Here's an astoundingly currently applicable quote from the to-be-released new edition of Churchill's The River War: An Historical Account Of The Reconquest Of The Soudan, edited by James Muller.
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property - either as a child, a wife, or a concubine - must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science - the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.

The book was first published in 1900; the war it describes took place in the 1890s. How little has Islam changed in a century.

Credit: Powerline.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005


I don't expect there'll be many events in this trial that will energize me to the point of actually blogging on it, but I can't help but be amused at the media being all atwitter about the dearth of African-Americans on the jury.

I don't see the big deal. In the first place, Mr. Jackson is definitely sui generis, so it would be very difficult to find any group of citizens of Santa Barbara County who could truly be said to be his "peers," no matter what color or ethnicity they might be. Besides that, he has been trying to look like anything but African-American for years, to the point where the once handsome young man now looks like he belongs in a side show. I'm not at all sure there's a lot of affinity within the African-American community for someone like him.

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Has Europe Jumped the Shark? 


Here are some observations from Mark Steyn, Austin Bay and Janet Daley. All are worth reading.

Credits: Glenn Reynolds and Roger L. Simon.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Young Athletes Overdo It 

My uncle, who is a pediatrician, sent me a copy of this article in today's New York Times online edition (registration required). It's about doctors seeing sports injuries in kids due to overwork -- their bodies are just worn out.

Interesting quote:
"The parents will ask if there isn't some kind of surgery that can be done, so their child can keep doing the things that brought this injury on in the first place. I explain that an operation might be necessary just to alleviate the pain and to set a course for normal everyday use again.

"To tell you the truth, the kids usually take it better than the parents. Many kids are relieved. They can be kids again."

Maybe it's time for all of us to let our kids be kids again.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Is "Off the Record" Dead? 

Freedom of speech is dead, bemoans Kathleen Parker in her Orlando Sentinel column picked up in today's San Diego Union-Tribune. Ms. Parker looks at “Easongate” and finds that the result of reporting Eason Jordan's ostensibly off-the-record remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month will be a chilling effect on “the freewheeling, unfettered expression of thoughts and ideas without fear of censure.” I respectfully disagree.

I think the major effect of episodes like “Easongate” will be a chilling effect on people of influence making outrageous statements that they can't back up with facts. To me, that's a feature, not a bug.

“'Off the record,'” says Ms. Parker, “means you're allowed to say what you think with impunity and live to see your next paycheck.” Maybe so, but it isn't, or at least shouldn't be, a license to pass off fiction as truth, especially at a gathering of rich and powerful from all over the world. Setting aside the question of why “off the record” sessions were evidently being videotaped by the WEF sponsors of the Davos gabfest, it seems pretty clear to me that the meaning of the term “off the record” as used in Davos is a lot different from what many of us ordinary folks understand. Not being a professional journalist, I think it means something akin to a person giving a reporter information that the reporter can't use in a story or cite to other potential sources, unless the same information is obtained and verified from other independent sources. In Davos the powers that be evidently thought “off the record” meant they had the right to censor and spin what was released for public consumption.

Ms. Parker cites Jeff Jarvis telling the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz that “off the record” is dead. I for one am not so sure that's necessarily a bad thing. To my thinking, “off the record” and “journalistic privilege” as claimed most recently by Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matt Cooper of the Washington Post are two sides of the same coin, i.e., they are both used to permit people in positions of power to influence, if not control, public opinion without being held accountable for their statements. Of course journalists, especially the investigative subspecies, love these devices, because it makes their jobs much easier. It's a heck of a lot easier to find creepy-crawlies when someone tells you which rocks to turn over. But easier doesn't equate to essential.

If “off the record” has a legitimate place, I believe it is only in circumstances that more closely resemble a doctor's office or the confessional than a gala for the international power elite. Eason Jordan got in trouble because was trying to have it both ways in Davos – he wanted to speak on the record for his immediate audience, but off the record for the masses. Jeff Jarvis is probably right to an extent: “off the record” is dead -- at least with respect to politicians, celebrities and the rich and powerful, and they should be careful not to state something as fact unless they have the evidence to back it up.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Easongate (ugh!) From 30,000 Feet 

Professor Bainbridge has some observations and comments about the Eason Jordan matter, and others. Very astute, I say.

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Wretchard Fisks The Left 

This Belmont Club post fisks the entire left side of the political spectrum -- It would be a lot funnier if it weren't so pathetically true.

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Bill Clinton on Social Security Options 

Glenn Reynolds points to a transcript of a speech given in 2002 by Mr. Clinton containing the following quote:
So, what's our option? If you don't like privatizing Social Security and I don't like it very much, but you want to do something to try to increase the rate of return, what are your options? Well one thing you could do is to give people one or two percent of the payroll tax, with the same options that Federal employees have with their retirement accounts; where you have three mutual funds that almost always perform as well or better than the market and a fourth option to buy government bonds, so you get the guaranteed social security return and a hundred percent safety just like you have with Social Security.

I have thought for some time that one of the main reasons the Congressional Democrats are so vehemently opposed to Bush's Social Security ideas is that they don't want a Republican president and Congress to get the credit for fixing the problem.

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Weather Report 

For five consecutive days this week, from the corner of Black Rail Rd. and Poinsettia Avenue (33.1095N, 117.829W) you could see both Santa Catalina and San Clemente islands. Temps in the high 60s to low 70s (20 to 23 Celsius, for you SI types). And people ask me why I'd rather live here than, say, Michigan?

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

Powerline Blog vs. Minneapolis Star-Tribune 

The Powerline bloggers have been in a running battle with the Strib for many months. The latest salvo from Powerline to the Strib is here.

Not being familiar with the Strib and not living in Minnesota, I have no dog in this fight, but it seems to me from following the action so far that the Strib's editors are not earning their salaries.

As Glenn Reynolds observed, the Strib should probably be worried when a group of lawyers start accusing it of defamation.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Email from Fallujah 

This email from a Marine officer in Fallujah is a must-read. Don't wait -- your day will be better for it.

Credit: Instapundit.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Rampant Softheadedness 

A couple days ago, Judge Joyce Hens Green ruled that foreign terror suspects held in Guantanamo can challenge their confinement in U.S. courts and that the military tribunals set up to review their status for Geneva Convention purposes are unconstitutional.

Judge Green, who was appointed to the Federal bench by Jimmy Carter, appears to be one of those people who thinks that the Constitution of the United States is a suicide pact.

The lack of common sense in some people is just astounding. I hope it doesn't go so far as to require a constitutional amendment that reads something like, "The rights granted by this Constitution to the people shall apply only to Citizens of the United States, and to those non-Citizens who are lawfully present in the United States."

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