Saturday, February 17, 2007

Baztab and Ledeen

"The answer is simple enough. We can’t work this out because the Islamic Republic has declared war on us, not the other way around. Iranian agents and Iranian weapons are killing Americans. Until a few weeks ago, American soldiers were not even authorized to kill Iranian military personnel in Iraq, let alone cross the border to attack Iranian terrorist training camps or industrial facilities where shaped explosives are put together.

The good folks at Baztab surely know what every Iranian knows: that if there were free elections in Iran, the entire regime would be replaced with a free government, and the new leaders would terminate support for terrorism, redirect the oil revenues to national reconstruction, and join the civilized world. I oppose military action against Iran, as well as sanctions—aside from those specifically aimed at the kleptocrats who have ruined the country and pauperized the people. I support freedom for Iran.

In addition to its sweet reasonableness to me—which reflects the views of many regime leaders that they’d better stop provoking Bush, lest the United States finally develops a serious Iran policy. Ergo, they’re launching a charm offensive—Baztab has been critical of some of Ahmadi-Nezhad’s policies, and has now joined the ranks of hundreds of other publications to be censored by the regime. It is now an officially banned website.

Pity. But that’s what happens when you pretend to be free in the tyrannical Islamic Republic. Many of their countrymen and women have given their limbs and lives for freedom, and the guys at Baztab have fallen into the crossfire that characterizes the War of the Persian Succession.

They’re welcome to come to the American Enterprise Institute and have a wide open debate. Assuming they’re free to travel, of course


""Our enemies are little worms. I saw them at Munich. "

That was Hitler’s appraisal of the leaders of Britain and France he hosted in the Bavarian capital in 1938. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had requested the meeting “to find a peaceful solution” to growing tension over Nazi Germany’s grievances and demands

The outcome: an attempt to appease Hitler through the betrayal of Czechoslovakia. “Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor,” Winston Churchill remarked at the time. “They chose dishonor. They will have war.”

In 1972, Munich again was linked to appeasement: Palestinian terrorists massacred 11 Israeli Olympic athletes. The group responsible was guided by Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat. Nevertheless, Arafat received more encouragement than condemnation: He was invited to address the U.N. where “the question of Palestine” rose to the top of the agenda; it has remained there ever since with no resolution in sight.

Against this backdrop, last weekend I attended the 43rd annual Munich Conference on Security Policy, a gathering of the international political elite: presidents and prime ministers, defense and foreign secretaries, ambassadors, scholars, and journalists from more than 40 countries.


As for Iran’s nuclear program, he
[ Iranian Minister Larijani -ed. ] insisted it is intended only to generate electricity. “We have no intention of aggression against any country,'' he said, sounding offended by the very thought. He added that, on the contrary, “We are a victim of terrorism.” At whose hands, he did not specify.

Larijani sternly set down the rules for those wishing to question him: He was not to be asked about “suspension of uranium enrichment, the Holocaust or Israel.”

Perhaps the sharpest rejoinder came from Sen. Lindsey Graham. “It must have been difficult for you to say what you said,” he told the Iranian official. “Because it was difficult for me to listen.”

Graham observed: “No one who denies the Holocaust can be trusted with nuclear materials.” And he advised Larijani to “Go visit Dachau,” the Nazi concentration camp preserved as a memorial in Munich’s bucolic suburbs; an unintended consequence of the policy of appeasement.

In contrast with Graham and other members of the American delegation — which included also Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl — few European leaders seemed distressed by Larijani. If anything, they congratulated themselves for having invited him to Munich to begin a process of “peace though dialogue.”

As for what Larijani and his fellow Islamist revolutionaries think of their European hosts, one can only surmise. But I suspect it is not too far from the Führer’s appraisal of those he humiliated in Munich nearly 70 years ago

Inside Out

"Anyway, as to the cosmic significance of all this, I cannot think of a greater gift that a parent could bestow upon a child than the firm and secure presence of a calm center through which life may be lived from the inside out. Most people live their lives from the outside in, which is what causes the frantic, lifelong search for something that will finally bring peace and tranquility. But as all religious traditions teach, this calm center cannot be found in the horizontal. Rather, you will only become further lost and entangled. The prodigal son, and all that.

It is the difference between the dispersal and the centration of consciousness. For example, when one thinks of Jesus, or Buddha, or Lao Tsu, it is unthinkable that they were possessed of a restless, externalized, and dispersed consciousness. In fact, I imagine that to have looked into the eyes of Jesus would have been literally -- for how could it not be so? -- to have looked into the very depthless center of creation."
"Quien es John Galt?"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Read. Him. Now.

"The photography is gorgeous; it makes you feel guilty to enjoy it. This really is war reportage at its best, written by one who was there first as a soldier. If you want to know what's really happening on the ground in Iraq, Michael Yon and a handful of others are the go-to guys."

Smokin Part 93653

"US forces have captured over a hundred of the HS50s from the Iranian police shipment. That amounts to over 12% of the total number of rifles imported by Iran to fight drug dealers, a dodge that has grown more threadbare ever since the invasion of Iraq. The Iranians have not claimed -- yet -- that they managed to lose one-eighth of all the new rifles intended for their police, and the Iranian government was clearly the recipient of the arms. In fact, Austria defended the sale on that very point.

Pardon the pun, but this is literally the smoking gun. We can trace these weapons from its manufacturer directly to the Iranian government. The quantity in which they have been found in insurgent bases precludes any explanation that a few just got mislaid; they obviously have been transferred from an Iranian state organization to the terrorists in Iraq. It's the clearest evidence of Iranian involvement in attacks on Americans. The involvement of the mullahcracy is undeniable, and it is a direct retort to those who keep claiming that Iran has no stake in Iraqi instability."

The Fiercest Liberal In Lebanon

"“If the US loses the war in Iraq,” I said, “do you think it will be bad for Lebanon?”

Walid Jumblatt thought for a very long time before he answered that question. I could see his mind working cautiously, calibrating his response as he always does. The fiercest liberal in Lebanon said the following very carefully:

“It would be bad for Lebanon and for the Middle East if the US withdraws from the Middle East. Because we will face a different Arab and Muslim world. It is very strange and ironic that even the pro-Iranians in Iraq are asking the Americans to stay. You could write a theater about it. Making the Americans totally withdraw from the Arab world would be a mistake, would be a disaster for the moderates in the Arab world. The radicals and the Iranians would win
"It is possible to have a civilized, sensible discussion about the issue of global climate change. However, doing so requires speaking in the language of uncertainty, rather than moral righteousness."

The Gore Effect

GLENN: "THE "GORE EFFECT" HAS STRUCK AGAIN: "HOUSE HEARING ON 'WARMING OF THE PLANET' CANCELED AFTER SNOW/ICE STORM" And I'm not even sure Al was scheduled to be there. How does he do it?"
"HEY, WAIT: "Federal surplus widens to $38.2 billion in Jan." Surplus?"

Monday, February 12, 2007

Ho-Hum: Get Used To No Israel Soon

"Iran will be able to develop enough weapons-grade material for a nuclear bomb and there is little that can be done to prevent it, an internal European Union document has concluded. [ I'm guessing that this will be turned into another Bush "lie" within a few months. I don't know how they'll do it but I find myself continually gobsmacked by what the netroots manage to believe. -ed. ]

In an admission of the international community’s failure to hold back Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the document – compiled by the staff of Javier Solana, EU foreign policy chief – says the atomic programme has been delayed only by technical limitations rather than diplomatic pressure. “Attempts to engage the Iranian administration in a negotiating process have not so far succeeded,” it states." [ D'oh. By the way, I'm always struck by how little Middle-East history folks know. There is good evidence that Israel had a couple of nukes available during the 1967 war and probably about 13 during the 1973 war. The Arabs had a good suspicion that the Israelis had nukes during the 1967 war and certainly believed it during the 1973 war. Yet to war they went anyway. Lunatics. (The other option of course is that they don't believe their own rhetoric about how evil the Nazi-Israelis are.) -ed. ]

Pouvons-nous négocier cela pour satisfaire?

"Meanwhile the French are not unhappy with the result. According to the Jerusalem Post.
In Paris, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said inclusion of the term "respect" in reference to Israel "is a step in the right direction toward full adherence to the demands of the international community that we hold dear, including in particular the recognition of Israel."

If the West is brought under Sharia law it will have no excuses. It will hardly be possible to argue that its leaders were deceived. That, like Neville Chamberlain, they let their idealism get the better of them. No excuse except plain illiteracy can explain the inability to comprehend this blatant statement of intent. "We have agreed with the Saudis to market this agreement internationally. ... We will never recognize Israel. There is nothing called Israel," he told Reuters. "We, in the Hamas movement, will not abide by anything."

Western weakness has little to do with Jihad, or Hamas or Fatah. It arises from the monomanaical belief that negotiations can solve everything; and that consequently, resistance will never be necessary. Hamas understands that Western Pacifism must rule out coercion at all costs; that all it has to do is wait, and all, even Israel's extinction, will be delivered, abjectly, to its doorstep
. "

Remorseless Mockery Today

"Well, that was back at the tail end of an era that still believed in archaic concepts as evil and punishment. The point of five life sentences was not just to keep society safe, but also to exact justice for the nine lives she took in her murderous spree. As the son of their most prominent victim testified to the court that granted her five years' probation -- five years! -- none of the Red Army faction terrorists ever expressed remorse for their killings.

One suspects that the reason Mohnhaupt and her twisted colleagues receive such mercy is that the German establishment has sympathy for their original aims. The radical Leftists had plenty of fellow travelers in the 1970s, when many of them agitated for the kind of socialism exemplified in East Germany. Some of those went into politics, others into academia, and still more into the legal system. Baader-Meinhof was just a more violent expression of a movement that many supported, and that many still do.

However, one had hoped that the advent of Islamist terrorism would have stripped the romance from the Baader-Meinhof thugs. They slaughtered civilians to make themselves important, giving it a patina of Marxist revolution by spouting political manifestos that had grown tired even at that time. They're no different than al-Qaeda suicide bombers in London, Morocco, Turkey, Madrid, or at the World Trade Center; they just used a different ideology as an excuse for the same mass and serial murders. Not only has Germany made a mockery of life sentences, they have shown that they do not understand the message that this sends to terrorists -- the kind that used Hamburg as a base to kill almost 3,000 Americans on 9/11
." [ The next time you need a definition of the concept "mockery of justice", just refer to this post. -ed. ]

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Integrating Nauseation

"In other words, most of the new age blathering that goes by the name "integralism" is nothing more than a co-opting of half-understood spiritual ideas for the purposes of narcissistic inflation (i.e., the lower seizing the higher instead of being transformed by it). These various approaches are spiritually vacuous to Coons because they are generally detached from any timeless revelation and any true source of grace, without which one can only turn around in circles and exalt the self in compensation. "Followers" are required in order to create a space in which infantile omnipotence is projected onto the master, which then creates a blowback of pseudo-grace. This is the trick of the new age careerists. A normal person would be nauseated by such adulation."

Speaking Of Intentions ... Ho-Hum

"On December 12, 2006, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personally brought to a close the infamous Holocaust deniers' conference in Tehran. A strange parade of speakers had passed across the podium: former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, the nutty followers of the anti-Zionist Jewish sect Neturei Karta, and officials of the neo-Nazi German National party, along with the familiar handful of professional Holocaust deniers. Frederick Töben had delivered a lecture entitled "The Holocaust--A Murder Weapon." Frenchman Robert Faurisson had called the Holocaust a "fairy tale," while his American colleague Veronica Clark had explained that "the Jews made money in Auschwitz." A professor named McNally had declared that to regard the Holocaust as a fact is as ludicrous as believing in "magicians and witches." Finally, the Belgian Leonardo Clerici had offered the following explanation in his capacity as a Muslim: "I believe that the value of metaphysics is greater than the value of history."

If this motley crew had assembled in a pub in Melbourne, nobody would have paid the slightest attention. What gave the event historical significance was that it was held by invitation, at the Iranian foreign ministry: on government premises, in a country that disposes of the world's second-largest oil reserves (after Saudi Arabia) and second-largest natural gas reserves (after Russia). And in this setting, the remarks quoted above provoked not dismissive laughter, but applause and attentive nods. On the walls hung photographs of corpses with the inscription "Myth," and others of laughing concentration camp survivors with the inscription "Truth."

The Tehran deniers' conference marks a turning point not only because of its state sponsorship, but also because of its purpose. Up until now, Holocaust deniers have wanted to revise the past. Today, they want to shape the future: to prepare the way for the next Holocaust
. "

Welcome To The (Unintended) Singularity

"A team of world-leading neuroscientists has developed a powerful technique that allows them to look deep inside a person's brain and read their intentions before they act.

The research breaks controversial new ground in scientists' ability to probe people's minds and eavesdrop on their thoughts, and raises serious ethical issues over how brain-reading technology may be used in the future.

The team used high-resolution brain scans to identify patterns of activity before translating them into meaningful thoughts, revealing what a person planned to do in the near future. It is the first time scientists have succeeded in reading intentions in this way."

Well Of Course Water Vapor Is A Greenhouse Gas...

"Climate history and related archeology give solid support to the solar hypothesis. The 20th-century episode, or Modern Warming, was just the latest in a long string of similar events produced by a hyperactive sun, of which the last was the Medieval Warming.

The Chinese population doubled then, while in Europe the Vikings and cathedral-builders prospered. Fascinating relics of earlier episodes come from the Swiss Alps, with the rediscovery in 2003 of a long-forgotten pass used intermittently whenever the world was warm.

What does the Intergovernmental Panel do with such emphatic evidence for an alternation of warm and cold periods, linked to solar activity and going on long before human industry was a possible factor? Less than nothing. The 2007 Summary for Policymakers boasts of cutting in half a very small contribution by the sun to climate change conceded in a 2001 report.

Disdain for the sun goes with a failure by the self-appointed greenhouse experts to keep up with inconvenient discoveries about how the solar variations control the climate. The sun’s brightness may change too little to account for the big swings in the climate. But more than 10 years have passed since Henrik Svensmark in Copenhagen first pointed out a much more powerful mechanism.

He saw from compilations of weather satellite data that cloudiness varies according to how many atomic particles are coming in from exploded stars. More cosmic rays, more clouds. The sun’s magnetic field bats away many of the cosmic rays, and its intensification during the 20th century meant fewer cosmic rays, fewer clouds, and a warmer world
. On the other hand the Little Ice Age was chilly because the lazy sun let in more cosmic rays, leaving the world cloudier and gloomier.

The only trouble with Svensmark’s idea — apart from its being politically incorrect — was that meteorologists denied that cosmic rays could be involved in cloud formation. After long delays in scraping together the funds for an experiment, Svensmark and his small team at the Danish National Space Center hit the jackpot in the summer of 2005
." [ The issue isn't whether the earth goes through climate cycles. It does. How else did the Vikings call it Greenland? The question is whether we're going to do more stupid things like we're doing with Ethanol -- never mind the hysteria in the 70s about a new ice age -- or be a little more careful. And I'm a big supporter of conservation technologies. I think the GM Volt and the Zap could be really cool. And I nearly bought a hybrid in my last vehicle purchase and fully expect to next time around. But I'll believe that the Gore-bots are serious when they put nuclear power back on the table in a serious way. Because that together with batteries (or a similar breakthrough in clean and light mobile power storage) is about the only way we're going to make a big difference in man-made greenhouse gases without disatrous economic impacts -- on not just us but the entire world economy. -ed. ]

UPDATED ALREADY: "A team of more than 60 scientists from around the world are preparing to conduct a large-scale experiment using a particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland, to replicate the effect of cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere.

They hope this will prove whether this deep space radiation is responsible for changing cloud cover. If so, it could force climate scientists to re-evaluate their ideas about how global warming occurs.

Mr Svensmark's results show that the rays produce electrically charged particles when they hit the atmosphere. He said: "These particles attract water molecules from the air and cause them to clump together until they condense into clouds."

Mr Svensmark claims that the number of cosmic rays hitting the Earth changes with the magnetic activity around the Sun. During high periods of activity, fewer cosmic rays hit the Earth and so there are less clouds formed, resulting in warming.

Low activity causes more clouds and cools the Earth."

Ledeen puts the latest events regarding Iran in perspective. A must listen.

Burka Blue

Welcome to the extreme parody of the world's most extreme misogynistic nightmare:

The Latest Update From Omar...

"In other encouraging news, I saw on the local Baghdad news that US and Iraqi soldiers have discovered about 60 weapon caches since the beginning of this month, and detained more than 140 suspects during the same period.

Other incidents that indicate a positive change in Maliki’s policy are the arrest of deputy minister of health Hakim al-Zamili, and the deployment of IA soldiers to provide security for hospitals in Baghdad instead of the FPS

The FPS, or the “Facility Protection Service,” is widely accused of being affiliated with death squads. Members of the FPS were recruited directly by ministries through contracts not overseen by the interior or defense ministries. The loyalty of FPS personnel is believed to be toward the political faction controlling any given ministry instead of the country as a whole.

The arrest of al-Zamili indicates that the new plan will not hesitate to target leaders of militant groups no matter what their position in the government was. The Sadr movement responded to the arrest only by saying that it was an insult to all Iraqis. One of their spokesmen said, in a clear sign of helplessness, “If one from our movement is to be arrested, then others from other factions should be arrested as well”.

I don’t know whether this current attitude of submission is going to last when more senior members are arrested. Still, I like the idea of arresting senior bad guys from both sects. This both satisfies public opinion, and gives credibility to the announced plans of the government to deal equally with all regardless of sect or background
"Virgin No. 72: It was paradise, until you showed up."

That We May Know

"This is one of the reasons I am attracted to ancient Christianity as opposed to so many of its modern and postmodern versions, such as fundamentalism. If you read the accounts of the original practitioners of the "Christian way" (as it was then called), it is obvious that they were drawn to its transformative aspect. In other words, it is hardly as if they merely heard a nice story about a man who rose from the dead, and said to themselves, "I like that. I think I'll become a Christian." Rather, there was something far more dramatic and experiential going on, and this is vividly reflected in the writings of the first 500 years of Christianity, right through Augustine -- who is hardly comparable to a dry and dusty academic theologian.

For example, in his Confessions, Augustine recounts several mystical experiences of direct contact with God. Of the most famous one, he writes of how "we did gradually pass through all corporeal things, and even the heaven itself, whence sun, and moon and stars shine upon the earth. Yes, we soared higher yet by inward musing, and discoursing, and admiring your works; and we came to our own minds, and went beyond them, that we might advance as high as that region of unfailing plenty.... There life is that Wisdom by whom all these things are made, both which have been, and which are to come..."

He concludes with an observation and a speculation: "If to any person the tumult of the flesh were silenced -- silenced the images of earth, waters, and air -- silenced, too, the poles of heaven; yes, the very soul be silenced to herself and go beyond herself by not thinking of herself -- silenced be dreams and imaginary revelations, every tongue, and every sign, and whatsoever exists by passing away," then "life might be eternally like that one moment of knowledge that we now sighed after..."

So while religion obviously involves "faith" and "belief," these are not intended to be merely static and saturated "containers." Rather, properly understood, they should be fungible into a different sort of experiential knowledge and should facilitate a real transformation. In other words, it seems that dogma is not the end of religious knowledge, but only the beginning. Truly, we believe in order that we may know