January 11, 2003

Islamic amnesia on the Crusades.

It continually astounds Clubbeaux how the dishonest Islamic version of Crusade history is swallowed en masse by the West. Your average bloke on the street of New York (the ones not yet killed by Muslims), London, Paris or Auckland will parrot a line which could have been written in Baghdad or Tehran:

1. The Church, looking around for someone to kill and plunder one day, decided “Hey, let’s go beat up the Muslims.” Not having any Muslims at hand, they raised armies to go despoil the advanced, peaceful Muslims living contentedly on land which had been theirs for time immemorial.

2. Off the armies troop, burning and raping and pillaging, introducing such terrible practices to the peace-loving Islamic culture for the first time. Forced conversions, unheard of in Islam, are presented as the alternative to instant beheading.

3. Laden with gold, slaves and spoil the Crusaders returned, bringing fabulous wealth back to Europe and leaving a once-thriving, peaceful culture in ruins, thereby sowing seeds of righteous anger which would fester through centuries of Western cultural imperialism, finally finding expression in the Muslim-engineered mass murder of 9/11. The West deserved 9/11 because of the Crusades, though, which gashed a wound in the Islamic psyche that has yet to heal, and which the West must do much to help heal.

At least that’s the version liberals and other haters of Western culture would have you believe. Unable to admit that the West is simply morally superior to Islamic culture, liberals have to find the blame for the worst qualities in Islam somehow rooted in the West. The Crusades are a convenient source for explaining all ills of Islam – the blemishes of Islam were either imported for the first time during the Crusades, or the Crusades despoiled a somehow purer civilization with its Church-backed frenzy of greed, murder and lust.

Of course forced conversion to Islam, a common practice still today in the Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan and elsewhere, along with the enslavement of Christians were not practices introduced by the Crusaders, but rather skills Muslims had honed against Christians for centuries before the Crusades and still practice today.

Eyewitness accounts of Islamic expansion.

A little history, much of it recounted (and assiduously footnoted) in Robert Spencer’s solid, evenhanded Islam Unveiled:

From approximately 200 A.D. to the invasions of imperialist Islam, Egypt, Libya and all of North Africa, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) were lands of Christian culture and worship. Three of the most important Christian cities – outside of Jerusalem – were Constantinople (Istanbul), Alexandria in Egypt and Antioch, in present-day Turkey. All the important early church councils and most of the key church fathers were located in Turkey or North Africa.

Islam arose in Arabia hundreds of years after Christian culture flowered in the Levant and Middle East. Jealous of the advanced Christian culture and anxious to expand their nascent religion’s territorial base, Muslim armies conquered the historically Christian lands one after the other, massacring Christians, taking their lands, destroying their culture, enslaving survivors and relegating others to pariah status in Islamic society.

Islamic missionaries in the Middle Ages.

Bat Ye’or is an highly-respected and widely-published Egyptian historian currently living in Switzerland. Her 1996 book The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam tells of how the Religion of Peace spread through Christian lands:

Sophronius [Bishop of Jerusalem]… bewailed the destruction of churches and monasteries, the sacked towns, the fields laid waste, the villages burned down by the [Muslims] who were overrunning the country. In a letter the same year to Sergius, patriarch of Constantinople, he mentions the ravages wrought by the Arabs. Thousands of people perished in 639, victims of the famine and plague that resulted from these destructions.

Ye’or reproduces an eyewitness account of Muslim armies in a Christian town in Egypt:

Then the Muslims arrived in Nikiou. There was not one single soldier to resist them. They seized the town and slaughtered everyone they met in the street and in the churches – men, women and children, sparing nobody. Then they went to other places, pillaged and killed all the inhabitants they found… It is impossible to describe the horrors the Muslims committed when they occupied Nikiou.

Eyewitness account of the Muslims conquering the Armenian town of Dvin in 642:

The enemy’s army rushed in and butchered the inhabitants of the town by the sword… After a few days’ rest, the Ismaelites [Arabs] went back whence they had come, dragging after them a host of captives, numbering 35,000.

A few years later on the island of Cos:

[Muslim general Abu al-A’war] laid waste and pillaged all its riches, slaughtered the population and led the remnant into captivity, and destroyed its citadel.

In Cilicia and Caesarea in Cappadocia (central Turkey) in 650:

[The Muslims] moved into Cilicia and took prisoners… and when Mu’awiya arrived he ordered all the inhabitants to be put to the sword; he placed guards so that no one escaped. After gathering up all the wealth of the town, they set to torturing the leaders to make them show them [treasures] that had been hidden. The [Muslims] led everyone into slavery – men and women, boys and girls – and they committed much debauchery in that unfortunate town; they wickedly committed immoralities inside churches.

The Muslim side of the story.

Just so much Christian propaganda? Here’s an account by Muslim historian Ibn al-Athir (1160-1233) in his The Complete History, on the Islamic invasion of Spain and France in the eighth and ninth centuries:

In 177 [17 April 793] Hisham, [Muslim] prince of Spain, sent a large army… into enemy territory, and which made forays as far as Narbonne and Jaranda [Gerona]… For several months [the army] traversed this land in every direction, raping women, killing warriors, destroying fortresses, burning and pillaging everything, driving back the enemy who fled in disorder. [They] returned safe and sound, dragging God knows how much booty.

Al-Athir reflects Islamic pride in this campaign, saying “This is one of the most famous expeditions of Muslims in Spain.” He tells of later campaigns equally savored by Muslims:

In 233 [2 December 837] Abd ar-Rahman b. al-Hakam, sovereign of Spain, sent an army against Alava; it camped near Hisn al-Gharat, which it besieged; it seized the booty that was found there, killed the inhabitants and withdrew, carrying off women and children as captives… In 246 [27 March 860], Muhammad b. Abd ar-Rahman advanced with many troops and a large military apparatus against the region of Pamplona. He reduced, ruined and ravaged this territory, where he pillaged and sowed death.

Orthodox Patriarch Michael the Syrian (1126-1199) reports that in Amorium in Asia Minor in 838 “there were so many women’s convents and monasteries that over a thousand virgins were led into captivity, not counting those that had been slaughtered. They were given to the Moorish slaves, so as to assuage their lust.”

By the way, this isn’t just a Western or Christian thing. For some truly gruesome reading check out the history of Islamic missions to the Sikhs:

18th century Islamic missionary (with sword) explaining the Religion of Peace to attentive Sikhs.

The Crusades.

Finally, in desperation, Eastern Christians begged their Western brethren to send help before the Muslims butchered them all. The First Crusade – financed at a tremendous loss by nobles, contrary to popular belief the West did not profit financially from the Crusades – captured Jerusalem in 1099 and halted for a while Islamic depredations against the centuries-old Christian communities in the Levant.

Yet it could not last, and Muslims began viciously attacking Christians again. In 1453 Constantinople fell to Muslim armies, with the result, according to Steven Runciman, the preeminent historian of the Crusades, that Muslim soldiers hewing to the by now well-established pattern “slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the Golden Horn.”

The Muslim conquerors either killed the Christians they met as described above, took them as slaves or forced them to pay the jizya, a tax on non-Muslims. Frequently depicted today as a trifling sum, historical accounts show otherwise. Ye’or:

It is impossible to describe the lamentable position of the inhabitants of this town, who came to the point of offering their children in exchange for the enormous sums that they had to pay each month.

“He started it!”

The Crusades were the Western response – five centuries too late, but nonetheless – to the pleas from Eastern Christians whose lives, culture and communities were being systematically destroyed by Muslim armies. The impetus for the First Crusade called by Pope Urban II in 1095 was the constant harassment of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land being molested, robbed and killed by Muslims.

Bernard Lewis, one of the most respected historians of Islam anywhere, explains the confusion today in The Arabs in History:

At the present time [1993], the Crusades are often depicted as an early experiment in expansionist imperialism – a prefigurement of the modern European empires. To the people of the time, both Muslim [emphasis added] and Christian, they were no such thing. When the Crusaders arrived in Jerusalem, barely four hundred years had passed since that city, along with the rest of the Levant and North Africa, had been wrested by the armies of Islam from their Christian rulers, and their present Christian populations forcibly incorporated in a new Muslim empire. The Crusade was a delayed response to the jihad, the holy war for Islam, and its purpose was to recover by war what had been lost by war – to free the holy places of Christendom and open them once again, without impediment, to Christian pilgrimage.

In other words, if it’s maintained that Crusaders had no right to try to conquer those lands held by Muslims, it should also be asked by what right Muslims conquered them in the first place. As historian Paul Fregosi writes in Jihad In The West, “When accusing the West of imperialism, Muslims are obsessed with the Christian Crusades [which all failed] but have forgotten their own, much grander Jihad,” which continues to the present day.

Were human rights violations committed by the Crusaders? Yes. Were they as many as those committed by Muslims? Hardly. So what’s the difference? As Spencer points out, “the Crusaders who pillaged Jerusalem were transgressing the bounds of their religion in all sorts of ways. As for the Muslim armies who murdered, raped, pillaged and enslaved – what Islamic principles were they violating? After all, they were following the example of their Prophet.” As they continue to do this day – lash out violently against the West and complain bitterly when the West defends itself.

Islamic missionary today.

Interesting trivia: Where and when was this bloody Islamic jihad against the West finally stopped? At the gates of Vienna on September 11, 1683. Auspicious date to begin it again, no?

Always shouts out something obscene.

Ran across a worthwhile blog this morning, Russell Wardlow’s Mean Mr. Mustard, who takes on the usual rabble – North Korea, Barbra Streisand, Saddam Hussein, Michael Moore et al – with verve, wit and intelligent writing. Worth a hit.

Mean Mr. Wardlow.

January 10, 2003

Clubbeaux’s Man of the Month.

Well, if Clubbeaux did award a Man of the Month, no doubt January’d go to ol’ J.C. Adams of Decatur, Georgia:

When 74-year-old J.C. Adams saw three would-be robbers walk into his convenience store, he grabbed his shotgun with one hand and balanced himself on his walker with the other.

On a surveillance monitor, he saw two men and a woman hold up an employee at the cash register. That’s when Adams pushed his walker to the front of the store and confronted the armed suspects, killing one man and wounding the other. An employee held the woman until police arrived.

“No need to let something like that live,” said Adams, who had been wounded in a May 2000 robbery attempt in which he killed another intruder.

In his 26 years as owner of the Pac A Sac, a convenience store in a middle-class suburb just off Lawrenceville Highway, Adams has been robbed 12 times. He keeps the shotgun nearby now as he watches the store monitors. The walker he uses because of a recent knee surgery.

Police said Friday that Adams would not be charged in the shooting death Thursday of Cameron Lemont Glover, 17. Glover’s 19-year-old brother, Leonard, and Tammy Crystal Jones, 17, were charged with armed robbery.

Until three years ago, Adams said he kept a .38 handgun in his store, but he switched to a shotgun after yet another robbery.

“I shot at the guy and missed,” he said. “You can’t do anything with a .38.”

Adams’ defense of the store has made him a legend in the neighborhood.

“Everybody knows J.C.,” said resident Nancy Pope. “Obviously (robbers) don’t know who they are messing with.”

Want $20? Click here.

Evidently some lawyers raked in a few million winning a class-action suit against the five largest CD distributors in the United States. The good news? You can get up to $20 from the deal if you’ve purchased a CD in a retail outlet between 1995 and 2000. No proof needed, just answer three questions on this Web site and give your contact info and presto, in a few months you might get a check out of nowhere.

So hey, don’t ever say ol’ Clubbeaux never gave you anything.

January 09, 2003

A Hundred Years Ago

Maybe you’ve gotten this in e-mail too, if you haven’t here you go:

Here are some of the U.S. statistics for 1902:

The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

1902 Hi-tech: A secretary using the Elliott & Hatch Elliott Book Typewriter.

A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Strom Thurmond had just completed his first term in the Senate.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st-most populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.

The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.

Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as “substandard.”

Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee cost fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.

The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn’t been admitted to the Union yet.

You want electric cars? Here’s Thomas Edison in a 1902 Studebaker Electric Runabout.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was 30.

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented.

There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

One in ten U.S. adults couldn’t read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.”

18 percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic.

There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.

January 08, 2003

The Eleven-Day Carnival.

Carnival of the Vanities has again seen fit to offer a sampling of Clubbeaux to the world. Check it out at James DiBenedetto’s The Eleven Day Empire blog. Lots of other good reading on offer, too.

Time to come marching home, Johnny.

If this from The New York Times doesn’t get you angry enough to write to your senators and tell them to pull American troops out of Korea and save $3 billion a year while leaving the ungrateful little American flag-burning asswipes to the mercy of North Korea, you have no pulse:

In Seoul last month, Lt. Col. Steven Boylan was walking at night when three Korean men cornered him in a tunnel on his way home. “They started cussing me in English, `G.I. get out, G.I. go home,’ “ the colonel, a 41-year-old Wisconsin native, recalled today. “They attacked me, and I made a defensive maneuver. It was only when I made it back to post that I saw I had been stabbed.”

To hear some G.I.’s tell it, the highest risk of violence is on the streets of South Korean cities, where political leaders have allowed anti-Americanism to run unchecked. “They are being spat on,” Colonel Boylan said. “They are being cussed at. They are being hit. People are not allowed entry into restaurants,” he said. “A soldier coming to work had some guys jump out of their car and start beating on her car.”

It is a resentment that at times, American servicemen and women say, verges on hatred. “My friends American, Canadian, British, New Zealander and Australian have all been affected,” Sally Milne, a British teacher in Seoul, wrote in a letter printed today in The Korea Herald. “They have been glared at, spat on, refused seats on the subway and refused service in some stores.”

Well, surely Korean schools, grandparents and historical organizations are responsible enough to remind the young perpetrators exactly why Americans are there, right?

The recent explosion of anti-Americanism has been fueled as well by a general ignorance of why American soldiers are here. Many young South Koreans sincerely believe what North Korea has taught for decades: that American troops arrived here in 1950 and split the nation in two.

In reality, the Communist North attacked first and almost wiped out South Korea. The historical fact that without American soldiers fighting under the United Nations flag there would be no South Korea today is often lost. “This is not an imperial occupation army,” Colonel Smith said after his fast-food lunch at the “food house” at Eighth Army headquarters. “They ask us to go home, and we go home.”

How about if we Americans ask you pretty pretty please: Come marching home, Johnny.

The leaders of South Korea know this, and they send their representatives to international hotels here to tell American reporters soothingly how much they value the American military presence, which costs American taxpayers about $3 billion a year. American troops, they say, not only reassure foreign investors, but also serve as a human tripwire to draw the United States back in if troops from the North should ever cross the border.

All true. So the leaders have enough backbone to tell the people what’s what?

But before Korean audiences, Korean politicians shy away from defending or explaining the presence of American soldiers.

Gutless, no-good snivelling pigs.

With the harassment of American soldiers fostering a fledgling “Boycott Korea” movement in the United States, some people here speculate that the day will come when panicked South Koreans will punch 911 on their ubiquitous cellphones and the only American military response will come from the air.

“I am concerned about the short political fuse in the United States,” said Hyun Hong Choo, a lawyer who once served as ambassador to Washington. “If the talk becomes serious, then we will see some negative reaction from the international business community.”

Tami Overby of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea warned, “If there were serious consideration of troop withdrawals we would see investors seriously reconsidering their plans here.”

Oh please. Please, please, please. Since they refuse to remember the lessons of history – refuse to even acknowledge the history – now’d be a good time for them to learn it all over again, only this time they can write the ending themselves, without America’s help. Want to know how the story ends without America? See North Korea.

But there is some good news:

“I expect troop reductions,” said Scott Snyder, Korea representative of The Asia Foundation, a regional research organization. “You could cut down to 20,000. You could consolidate bases. They are also hostage to protesters from liberal universities in Korea, which means every city in Korea.” In one step to reduce friction, the United States forces in Korea agreed last fall to a 10-year plan to cut the amount of land occupied by American troops in half, to 50 square miles, and to reduce the number of bases almost in half, to 23.

It’s a start.

Pvt. Nicholas C. Kreiner, a 21-year-old from Michigan, said the South Koreans were not shy about making their feelings known. “They threw eggs, candles over the fence, rocks against the guard tower,” said the private, a military policeman. “In the street you hear, `Go home, G.I.! Yankee go home!’”

Hey, if you listen you can hear it from over here too: “Come home, G.I.! Yankee come home!”

And when North Korea starts lobbing missiles into Seoul and unleashes an army of a million foot soldiers across the DMZ the South Koreans can do what they do best, and put on a few demonstrations protesting the move. They'll squeal like fat lazy stuck pigs at that point, blubbering for their best friend, their dear old ally, the much-loved United States to pull their bacon out of the fire, and hopefully we'll be conscientious enough to help them out by sending them cookbooks for how to prepare tree bark and inedible grasses and undigested grains in cow dung and other North Korean dietary staples.

Sorry, George.

It’s no secret that Clubbeaux usually sees the sense in the conservative Republican side of things. Being an open-eyed sort of individual, however, Clubbeaux also recognizes that there are times when the conservative Republicans, or their apologists, are wrong. George F. Will has had many fine moments over his career, this article arguing that hey, money doesn’t corrupt politics is not one of them.

The Supreme Court will rule, perhaps before July, on the constitutionality of restrictions on political communication imposed by the 2002 campaign finance law (McCain-Feingold), the premise of which – substituting concision for precision – is that there is “too much” money in politics.

While this is a truism to 98% of the country, professional D.C. insiders still grapple with the concept.

And crusaders for campaign finance restrictions profess themselves scandalized by the fact that spending by candidates, parties and interest groups in the 2001-2002 election cycle on the principal means of political communication – television advertising – totaled almost a billion dollars ($996 million).

Note how he’s already trying to hide the real scope of the problem: He’s using one avenue for spending, granted a large one, and saying this is really all the worthwhile spending that takes place. That’s like saying “the population of England, which is to say that of London, is…” One also wonders if funds raised are so incidental to a legislator why does aforesaid legislator spend the majority of his waking hours raising funds, and why large donors are fawned over in D.C. but something tells me George isn’t going to delve into that question too deeply.

Here’s why you know that $1 billion figure is pure moonshine: Ask yourself who are the really powerful legislators in D.C., the ones who can make things happen, the ones you want to spend your contribution dollar on? Incumbents assured of re-election. How much do they spend on TV ads? In most cases not much at all. Virginia’s Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee ran unopposed in Virginia’s last election. I never saw a single Warner ad on TV.

Now go look up how much John raked in from donations. Not a penny of it went to TV ads, so in George Will’s meretricious analysis it doesn’t exist, it has no influence, it is completely irrelevant. But rest assured John Warner knows who gave it and why they gave it. Remember, candidates get to keep unused campaign donations once they leave office. Oh, George Will doesn’t tell you that?

According to the Center for Responsive Politics in 1998 Warner received $698,885 in contributions. No TV ads that year. In 2000 he got $464,072. In 2002, an election year, when he still didn’t run a single TV ad? $2,617,764. So that’s roughly $3.7 million dollars donated to John Warner, not a nickel spent on television advertising, so where did the money go? In George Will’s mind it’s irrelevant. Think Warner considers it irrelevant?

Or let’s look at another accomplished fund raiser, Ted Kennedy. In 1998 he raises $1,973,368. No election that year. In 2000 he rakes in $6,623,179 for a campaign against Jack Robinson, one of the most inept opponents in Kennedy’s long political career. The election’s over the day Robinson announces for office. In 2002 he gets $215,221. He’s currently got $3.6 million on hand, and I bet he ain’t buying another TV ad.

Such facts make a mockery of George Will’s insistence that tracking television advertising is the way to judge how much influence money has on politics.

Forget the state delegate races, governorships and even most Congressional elections, the real money is spent on guys who don’t need to run TV ads. They’re the ones the fat cats with serious dollars to spend sit down and do business with. George Will’s “analyzing” of campaign finance by TV spending is nothing but a smokescreen.

But that is exactly what Americans spend every two years on pork rinds. So the interesting question is “Why Is There So Little Money In U.S. Politics?” That is the title of a paper, soon to appear in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, by MIT professors Stephen Ansolabehere, John de Figueiredo and James M. Snyder Jr. Their analysis is pertinent to the argument about constitutionality.

In other words, Will is going to try to convince you that because well, gee, because there isn’t as much money in American politics as you’d think it’s really nothing to worry about. I don’t recall, but during Lewinskygate I wonder if Will argued that well, gee, Slick Willie was only getting blow jobs in the Oval Office once every six months, so really it’s nothing to worry about.

One could also use the argument that gee, it’s okay to bribe a traffic cop $100 since it’s such a small sum, really nothing to get your knickers in a twist about, it doesn’t favor rich motorists over poor ones.

The Supreme Court has held that limits on campaign expenditures are more difficult to square with First Amendment protections of political advocacy than are limits on campaign contributions, and that limits on contributions are justified only as remedies for corruption or the appearance thereof. Reformers assert or imply that private campaign contributions are inherently (emphasis his) corrupt. This is because the reformers, substituting moral fervor for empirical evidence, assume that the primary motive for most contributing is what economists call “rent-seeking” – the purchase of policies favorable to the contributor. Ansolabehere, de Figueiredo and Snyder shred that assumption.

My sides, my sides. Here let me climb back in my chair, and e-mail this line over to Marc and Denise Rich, that no, political contributions aren’t intended to influence in any way the recipient’s attitude or actions vis-à-vis the giver… as was said so memorably in the Nixon White House, “We appreciate a $25,000 donation. For $50,000, you get to talk to the President.” And while I’m at it I’ll send a copy of that e-mail to Microsoft’s well-funded lobbyists, Johnny Huang and the director of every slush fund PAC in America.

Political contributions aren’t motivated by the desire for policies favorable to the contributor… yer killin’ me here, George, not the least by your subsequent failure to find a single example of a significant donation made by a group or organization to a politician who specifically opposed that giver’s pet policy objective. Hey anybody got Al D’Amato’s e-mail? He’d get a kick out of this, as would Slade Gorton, the senator from Microsoft and every Texas and Louisiana senator who ever drilled a pipeline from Big Oil to his wallet.

There are hundreds of candidates for federal offices seeking funds, and scores of millions of individuals and hundreds of thousands of businesses and other interests affected by government action. The federal budget is approximately $2 trillion, and government regulations of all sorts have a monetary value of many additional hundreds of billions. So why was only $1 billion – a pittance, relative to the stakes of government policy – spent in this election cycle by candidates, parties and interest groups on the most important form of political communication?

(Patiently, as to a child:) Because, George, there are only 100 United States Senators, the usual recipients of such altruistic largesse, and one only needs to convince one (1) powerful committee chairman, or at most 51 of them to make what you want to happen reality. Congressmen catch some of that cash too, but really only the big fish.

Will has so far artfully concealed the true extent of money in politics. As I’ve shown earlier TV ads are used the least by those money wants to reach the most. Why doesn’t Will explain the money sluicing to politicians which doesn’t get used on TV ads? Ask Ted Kennedy how many ads he’s planning on running with that $3.7 million in his war chest. Ask him what percentage of his 2000 donations went to TV ads. $6 million buys a hell of a lot of ads, but that’s not what it was spent on.

Will’s correct insofar as he argues that the vast majority of political donations do not affect a legislator’s vote. He’s incorrect in concluding that therefore there is very little influence on a legislator from moneyed sources. The fact is there are very few sources with enough money to influence a legislator’s vote, but they are there and they do use that influence. That is the real corruption, that the AARP or NRA or Jewish lobby or whomever can sway the vote of a legislator representing thousands or millions of voters. Yet this is exactly the sort of corruption George Will prefers to ignore.

Ansolabehere, de Figueiredo and Snyder answer that the huge discrepancy between the sum of contributions to politicians and the total value of governmental actions points to an explanation of political contributing other than rent-seeking. Their explanation is that “campaign contributing is a form of consumption, or, in the language of politics, participation.”

And I know that I enjoy consuming gas so much I’ll go to a gas station and give them a donation without expecting any gas back, as that would be a crass quid pro quo. I simply walk in, hand Ahmet $10 and leave, proud of my participation.

What he’s saying is that because most campaign contributors don’t corrupt the process, we shouldn’t worry about those which do corrupt the process. That’s like arguing that since most people aren’t criminals, we shouldn’t go after those who are.

Most political money – about eighty percent – comes from individuals, and in relatively small sums, which strongly suggests that the contributors cannot expect significant private benefits from swaying policy.

But the real muscle money comes from PACs. If 700 people give $1,000 and one PAC gives $50,000, who’s the recipient going to be anxious to please? Sure if I give somebody $1,000 I don’t expect them to take my calls, but if I give a PAC – Sierra Club, say – as much money as I want, which I’m allowed to do, I know that I’m buying a stronger voice for my pet policy issue, getting the Stinking Green-Assed Tree Owl habitat in southeastern North Dakota federally protected.

Rather, the satisfaction of participation is a sufficient explanation of political contributing, as it is of contributing to charities.

(Sigh) The satisfaction of participating in charities, as charities are allowed to say but politicians aren’t, is, to sum it up in a slogan usable by any charity you can name, “You Can Make A Difference.” One contributes to the March of Dimes or the United Way because one sees what they’re doing and one wants to influence and enable the organization to continue doing that. Politics is no different. Planned Parenthood contributes to Ted Kennedy to influence and enable Ted to keep abortion legal.

And individuals who make political contributions “are also disproportionately likely to participate in other ways.” Such individuals give because the consumption/ participation is ideologically or socially satisfying or exciting.

Okay, I think we can all grant that the 47-year old upper middle-class woman who goes door-to-door for John Warner in Richmond and sends John $1,000 of her husband’s money is doing it pretty much for kicks. That is not the real money problem in politics, as George Will damn well knows.

Furthermore, “consistent with the notion that campaign spending reflects participation, trends in aggregate spending over the last 100 years are explained entirely by growth in personal income.” The authors argue that if rent-seeking explained contributing, then contributing should rise as a function of total government spending. However, if the consumption/ participation model explains contributing, then contributing should be a function of personal income, and of the competitiveness of particular races. Which is the case.

I’m sorry, I must’ve missed the part where the “notion” that campaign spending reflects participation was proven instead of simply hypothesized. And if Will’s trying to tell me that post-Watergate campaign finance reform limiting explicitly personal contributions to $1,000 per candidate hasn’t skewed the 100-year trend to the point where before and after comparisons of personal contributions are worthless then he’s a bigger fool than he takes me to be.

And as far as “contributing should rise as a function of total government spending” goes, if a Senator working on a $2 trillion budget and a Senator working on a $1.6 trillion budget can both be bought off for the same $150,000 PAC donation why should the PAC pay more just to keep the inflation index in line? Think Gramm or D’Amato whips out a calculator and says “Okay Mr. Banking Industry lobbyist, you gave $100,000 last year, this year COLA’s up 4% and the overall budget went from $1.85 trillion to $2 trillion, so I expect a check for… $105,500 this year…” My guess is the same ol’ unadjusted $100,000 will do just fine again this year.

Besides, this specious “reasoning” completely ignores the dramatic rise in PACs in recent elections. Let’s say 50 years ago a million people in America gave $100 to the candidate of their choice. That’s $100 million sloshing around, but none of it buying any influence or votes, really. Today, however, a million people are far more likely to give that $100 to a PAC – the NRA, the WWF, the AARP, whatever. Now there’s $100 million – same amount spent by “consumers” – but it’s much more heavily politicized due to its aggregation.

This, by the way, is the very raison d’etre of a PAC, to focus money on issue-specific influence – to take your $100 and have it mean a lot more than it does on its own; sort of like a political mutual fund. Now instead of $100 donations coming in to Senator Blow from gun owners, the NRA can go to Senator Blow and say hey, you vote against gun control we’ll give you $100,000. Same amount of money, far more corrupting influence.

Although the growth of the regulatory state in the 20th century made government vastly more important as an allocator of wealth and opportunity, campaign spending as a fraction of national income did not grow during the last nine decades of the 20th century (emphasis his). That is, it did not grow after the coming of the secret ballot and civil service and other reforms that weakened the vote-buying powers of political machines.

Surely Mr. Will does not expect us to believe that campaign spending was as rigorously tracked and reported fifty, seventy years ago as it is now. And I seem to remember he was using television money as his benchmark? If he’s claiming that TV money hasn’t grown from 1934 to 1964 to today I can safely disregard anything else he says, if he’s using other indicators at this point he hasn’t told us what they are and his numbers are nothing but a big shell game, three-card monte for us idiots.

And something tells me reliable numbers for political contributions in the first part of the century would be hard to come by, as I imagine the Tweed machine and the Byrd machine and the Boston Irish machine all the other political machines don’t define and report “campaign spending” in such neat little boxes as authors of academic studies would like.

This, the authors say, “suggests that the private benefits bought through the campaign finance system are not an increasing problem for our economy.”

No, I’d say they’ve always been a fairly steady problem for our… economy? Excuse me? Where did that come from? If I’m Microsoft I’m not pouring millions of dollars in Washington to influence economic policy, I’m buying the sort of technological legislation I favor. This constantly shifting the terms... as Reagan would say, there he goes again.

The consumption/participation model explains why political contributing, like charitable giving and consumption generally, increases with per capita income rather than with the value of government activity.

It does not, it’s not even a valid assumption to use when tackling the question of the real movers and shakers in D.C. Forget Granny Watkins sending $50 to that cute young Congressman who came to see her at the retirement center’s Hallowe’en party and focus on the AARP. Think the AARP sluices millions of dollars into D.C. every year for the sheer joy of participating?

It also explains why political contributing by rent-seeking interest groups is so small relative to the monetary value of government action.

The reason it’s so small is that it’s more finely targeted. Instead of spending $100,000 on seven senators they’ve learned to focus on the one or two key senators and buy the same result with $150,000 each.

The authors’ study of legislative decision-making accords with the extensive social science literature which concludes that legislators’ voting is almost entirely a function of their own beliefs and the preferences of their voters and their party.

Really, I have got to send this to Al D’Amato, and Phil Gramm, and those ABSCAM guys, and those Lockheed guys, and Gorton, and Marc and Denise Rich, and Johnny Huang, and every political fundraiser in the country and every lobbyist along K Street. They all could use a good laugh.

The authors say that “after controlling adequately for legislator ideology, (interest group) contributions have no detectable effects on legislative behavior.”

“Controlling adequately.” Right, Tom Bliley just liked the smell of tobacco in the morning, it didn’t have anything to do with political contributions from Philip Morris or anything. Pray tell, how does one get to be a legislator in the first place? Is it not through campaign money wielded by powerfully wealthy groups in the first place? Mr. Big Oil attends a Texas Republican Party picnic, notices Joe Schmoe, a bright young lawyer holding forth on the value of energy deregulation and six other bright young lawyers arguing against him no, it’s been a catastrophic failure everywhere it’s been tried. Mr. Big Oil ignores the other six, puts his arm around Joe and says how does Congressman Schmoe sound to you? Plain fact is no legislator’s “ideology” gets him anywhere without that ideology appealing to those who hold purse strings in the first place.

The Supreme Court should consider this when assessing the constitutionality of a law based on the bald assertion of “corruption” resulting from “too much” money in politics, a law that suppresses political participation.

Again, Will tries to sneak one past here. Nobody’s proposing any sort of reform to keep anyone from sending a candidate a check for $1,000, the sort of joyous “participation” Will advocates. Reform is aimed at the soft money slush funds Will pointedly ignores.

January 07, 2003

Tuesday’s gone.

So let’s open the mail:

Last Thursday I posted a piece titled “Too rich for words (almost),” about Dimmycrats bellyachin’ that nobody wants to listen to their talk radio and that Fox News is somehow subversively manipulating enough people to watch it to the point where it’s rated higher than liberal in-house organs CBS, NBC and ABC. All the responses to it were positive, which got me to worrying, so I solicited the opinion of one of the more thoughtful bloggers, liberal or conservative (although it happens he’s liberal), South Knox Bubba. As expected, I got a good response:

That’s a pretty good rant that sums up a lot of what’s wrong with the media. It seems to me that there are two flavors of Kool-Aid and plenty of consumers willing to drink either.

I told you this guy was good. I have another friend in Chicago who thinks the answer is simply for news outlets to go ahead and label themselves according to their place on the political spectrum and not even pretend to neutrality.

I think the reason a lot of “mainstream” media is considered “liberal” these days (and yes, there is a liberal slant to it) is that they like to be anti. Anti whoever is in charge. Negativity draws more viewers/readers than positive stuff. Which is why they were “right wing” during the Clinton scandals.

Good point. I remember from my days in journalism in Virginia and Istanbul that good news does not sell, and it was deeply ingrained in us that government was simply always lying, never to be trusted, and we were to triangulate between them and our readers. However I’d note that the press is decidedly easier on liberals – Jesse Jackson and Al Gore, say – than on conservatives, and I think a lot of liberals resented Clinton’s waffling when he waffled to the right and really let him have both barrels. Hillary, now, she’s another story. Fawning kid glove treatment all the way.

But there’s plenty of idiocy to go around, from the guy living in a trailer up the road from me (and that’s not meant to be a slur, I used to live in one) with a Rebel flag flying over his “compound” and a Bush/Cheney sign still in the yard, to the idiot who wrote in to the local paper decrying a new highway that will wipe out one of only two known habitats of a red-gilled google-eyed salamander or something.

True. I didn’t mean to imply that Fox News, the Washington Times or The Wall Street Journal are paragons of even-handedness either, of course. My point was more along the lines of isn’t it curious that libDems can never ask “Well, gee, maybe the reason Fox News and Rush Limbaugh rule is because… America’s more conservative than we think, and we’re the ones out to lunch?”

I do think you generalize a little too much about liberals, though. Some of us aren’t traitors and communists, and some of us actually work for a living.

Mea culpa.

But some of us also don’t mind paying taxes to provide a safety net for the less fortunate, as long as that help doesn’t become a way of life and our taxes aren’t
wasted on pork spending.

And as long as my taxes aren’t spent to underwrite Piss Jesus or Mary with Cow Dung “art” exhibits put on by people cut out for careers in the food service industry, I agree.

West Virginia doctors.

Got another good response from a reader who actually bothered to do the legwork I was too lazy to do for my “Wealthy doctors strike for even higher pay” piece. After getting past the New York Post autopsy of how the Giants could possibly have lost a game they had in their back pockets halfway through the third quarter – the reason? Remember Michael Strahan selfishly refusing to agree to pay restructuring at the beginning of the season? That cost them Morten Andersen, one of the greatest clutch field goal kickers in NFL history. Think the game would’ve gone a little differently if a) the Strahan who demanded all those dollars once –just once – got within the same zip code as Garcia, and the Giants had Anderson instead of Matt Bryant? Think the Giants’ season would’ve gone differently with quality field goal kicking? Thanks, Mike, that loss is totally on you and your completely inept job on defense. Totally – where was your leadership when Shaun Williams was giving back 30 yards the 49ers’ resident horse’s ass, Terrell Owens, was trying to give you guys? Evidently Michael Strahan thinks football’s a one-man game. Of all the stinkingly overrated selfish divas – slap slap Huh? Oh, doctors, right, sorry:

Evidently Rich Lowry did a Post column on the topic, and found the following:

1. The average malpractice settlement nationwide is $250,000. This is a settlement, not a jury award, but they tend to correlate closely.
2. In West Virginia the average malpractice settlement is $500,000.
3. In Ohio County where Wheeling is, the average malpractice settlement is $1,000,000.
4. In recent years West Virginia had 30 licensed insurers for malpractice. Now there are only 2 major ones – no word on how many smaller ones.

As my U.Va. business school-trained reader points out This doesn’t really address the issue of whether or not insurance companies are truly losing money on malpractice premiums but the first three facts paint a dismal picture and in my opinion point a finger straight at the trial lawyers and the judges (probably elected) who run the tort system. Regardless of the statistic, any time a state is double the national average, the difference is significant, not just a random variation.

Probably true enough. Sigh. Clubbeaux’s getting tired of always finding lawyers to be the scum-sucking ratbags every time, it would be nice to kick a doctor or insurance executive once in a while, but this guy’s probably right. And as far as insurance companies go, he’s probably right too that the current system is the lesser of two evils:

As far as insurance companies go, I despise them as much as most people. They’re more interested in collecting premiums than in paying claims but they are a necessary evil People finance insurance companies because they think they can get a good return. If you start limiting their ability charge premiums without capping their costs you’ll essentially drive many of them out of the business either voluntarily or by bankruptcy. You wind up with either a regulated oligopoly (many European businesses operate this way) or nationalized health care. Neither of those is all that good.

I hate it when they start to make sense like that.

No Dong.

John Dunshee, who runs the worthwhile blog Just Some Poor Schmuck read my piece(s) wondering just why we think we have any reason solving South Korea’s problems vis-à-vis a nuclear and insane North Korea and responded:

You are right as far as you go on Korea. I spent a tour there in the early 70’s and have none of the fond memories that I do of Thailand in the 60’s.

But the North Koreans have a nasty habit of selling their military goods to anyone and everyone. That’s where Saddam got the Scuds that he used against the U.S. and Israel in the Gulf War and North Korea’s “Dear Leader” is a psychopathic gnome who would be more that happy to see nuclear fireworks.

Unfortunately, due to the lost chances eight years ago, we have a very difficult situation in Korea now. I really don’t know how we should proceed with them but walking away is not an option at this point.

I agree with John that the United States needs to keep an eye on the nuclear nitwits in the world, but I still see no reason why we need 37,000 military tripwire personnel in South Korea to protect their fat, lazy, ungrateful America-hating asses. Treat North Korea like we do Pakistan and India: Monitor the situation, use diplomacy or any other means necessary to protect America, but get our people the hell out of the way if missiles start flyin’.

This brings to mind another note I received from a reader about the North Korea piece:

Great takedown of the apologetics offered on behalf of North Korea in the WaPo piece. I just HAD to put these two paragraphs side by side to believe what I was reading:

I’m wondering how this year’s shakedown . . .

“Though details remained sketchy, South Korea’s Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported that under the plan, the United States would guarantee North Korea’s security and resume shipments of fuel oil in exchange for promises by North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs. The deal would also provide North Korea with international aid and security guarantees from China
and Russia.”

. . . differs in any way from 1994’s shakedown?:

“The current crisis stems from the disintegration of a 1994 deal under which North Korea promised to shut down a nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium and submit to U.N. inspections in exchange for shipments of fuel oil and the building of nuclear power plants by the United States and its allies.”

Keep after ‘em Clubbeaux.

Answer: It doesn’t. S.S.D.D.

A nice stumble.

Just stumbled across one of the more thought-provoking and intelligent blogs focusing on the entire issue of discrimination. Cleverly named Discriminations , it’s the product of John Rosenberg, a Stanford Ph. D. candidate whose dissertation is on the subject. Well-written without being shrill, it’s a good place to drop in.

January 06, 2003

Hail the brave artist!

Reading through a good Aussie blog Wog Blog, I ran across the following spoiled child “I want it I want it I want it I want it WAAAHHHH!” two-year old temper tantrum from someone who can’t believe that the cow cockies he feels so superior to are miffed about having their tax dollars supporting irrelevant, cynical, meaningless, incomprehensible in-joke “art” they couldn’t be bothered to see without free beer on offer. Evidently the petulant self-centered child in question is a certain John McDonald whose hissy fit appears in the Australian Financial Review. (Thanks Tex.)

It’s the usual bilge, the supercilious “I can’t be-lieve that not everybody is as cultured as I am” attitude of someone who’s shocked, shocked that somebody objects to the government funding “art” exhibits nobody but the art poseurs go see, museums nobody but schoolchildren get dragged to and opera nobody but the art poseurs even pretend to like. The setting here is Australia but of course the principle applies to America as well:

It is not simply a matter of arguing that those who enjoy the arts should pay for them. This user-pays approach – the reductio ad absurdum of economic rationalism – would mean the closure of most cultural organisations.

So he objects to the principle that if you like something you should pay the costs associated with enjoying it and if you don’t you can spend your money elsewhere, and favors the principle whereby waitresses in Darwin pay to support art shows in Melbourne. He probably believes the waitress in Darwin counts it an honor that her hard-earned money’s going to such a worthy cause; he probably thinks any Darwin waitress would count it an honor to be raped by such a cultured man as himself as well.

The Australian Opera and ballet, not to mention the galleries and museums, cannot devote themselves solely to the pursuit of profit. Neither can they expect to attract the audiences commanded by Hollywood movies and major sporting events.

Okay, so you have two choices: Scale back to match the preferences of those who are willing to endure the grim punishment of 3 ½-hour Hindemith, Shostakovich & Even More Boring Composers concerts, or play music people want to hear and turn a profit. Your call.

No government would go to the extremes of the user-pays approach,

McDonald’s seriously arguing is that it makes more sense for people who don’t use something to pay for it? Socialism at its finest – “I know what’s better for your money than you do, you ignorant, uncultured dirtbag so hand it over.” In Clubbeaux’s soon-to-be-consummated World Government there is no government funding for “art,” people buy tickets for what they want to see and don’t buy tickets for what they don’t want to see. I know I know, it’s a complicated as hell system but I think it just might work.

but there is certainly a new conviction that if the government pays for cultural initiatives, they should reflect views and opinions congenial to the government. This entails a more celebratory attitude towards Australian history and identity.

Whereas McDonald’s position appears to be that the government should cheerfully pony up for art critical of the government, Australian history and the Strines’ general public opinion. Gee, those wouldn’t be views… McDonald and his oh-so-cultured coterie find congenial but can’t afford to pay for themselves, would they?

In other words: replacing the perceived propaganda of “black armband” history, with the healthy, positive propaganda demanded by our duly-elected government.

Let’s turn that around a bit and see if it makes any more sense: In other words: replacing the perceived propaganda of our duly-elected government with the healthy, positive propaganda demanded by “black armband” history. Nope.

It is exactly the approach once favoured by the dictators of the “Peoples Democracies” behind the Iron Curtain and in Asia.

Is it now. Asking people who enjoy opera to bloody well pay for opera instead of sticking up innocent bystanders who don’t like opera to pay for opera is pure totalitarianism. I say.

The only difference is that the local approach depends on the apathy of the general public, not force of arms.

Excuse me, I was under the impression that the sort of rubbish put on by McDonald’s set in Australia’s galleries, opera and symphony halls was the direct cause of so much apathy among the Strines that the black leotard set has to go rattle their tin cup in Canberra to avoid working for a living.

As I said, the setting here happens to be Australia, but the same crap goes on in America. It wasn’t that long ago that no self-respecting artist would be caught dead sucking on the government tit, it would be like your Left Bank crowd finding out that your elderly Baptist minister grandfather in Missouri was sending you rent money out of pity. Having bravely overcome their haughtiness in opposing government funding these black turtlenecked panhandlers now operate under the assumption that the government owes them a living, a penthouse in the artsy district of town and unlimited funding dollars taken from the wallets of those who could not give the first rat’s ass about them or their “art.”

South Korea again.

Honestly, someone tell me what I’m missing here. Someone give me one reason why we should waste any more time with South Korea than we do for, say, Thailand. Or Madagascar.

North Korea either has or is developing nukes. Yawn. Join the club. They won’t use them against us, we’d turn Pyongyang into the parking lot is almost already is and the little North Korean sawed-off runt with the bouffant, Kim Jong-il No Dong (Don’t laugh, it’s his word, not mine) wouldn’t have anywhere to archive his porno mags and skin flick collection.

Might they use them against South Korea? They might. So? That sounds a lot more like South Korea’s problem than ours. South Korea, it will be remembered by Clubbeaux’s readers, is the country which holds popular “Hate U.S.A.” festivals for the entire family, complete with American flag shooting galleries for the kiddies. Outside of the Islamic world there is no country on the face of the earth which hates America more than South Korea. Anti-American books claiming bin Laden’s a great hero and blaming America itself for the 9/11 attacks are automatic bestsellers in South Korea.

Yet America, which is the only entity standing between South Koreans enjoying their fat and lazy cheap Western knockoff lifestyle and South Koreans eating bark off trees and picking through cow dung for undigested grains like their North Korean cousins, is somehow the Bad Guy who needs to whip out his wallet to bring peace. Witness, from the Washington Post:

SEOUL, Jan. 4 -- South Korean officials fine-tuned a compromise proposal today that they plan to present to the Bush administration at a meeting in Washington on Monday in a bid to end its nuclear confrontation with North Korea, diplomats said.

Though details remained sketchy, South Korea’s Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported that under the plan, the United States would guarantee North Korea’s security and resume shipments of fuel oil in exchange for promises by North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs. The deal would also provide North Korea with international aid and security guarantees from China and Russia.

First question: Why the hell is it our problem what gets South Korean undies in a bunch? How exactly are we on the hook for subsidizing North Korea’s colossal economic stupidity? Why not just take our 37,000 servicemen, universally hated in South Korea anyway, out of harm’s way and bring ‘em back home, or send them to Iraq? Our presence – and South Korea’s, for that matter – is nothing but a Cold War relic. We went there to stop the march of worldwide Communism. Out of the backwash of a war against the Chinese on the Korean peninsula the country of South Korea was created almost by accident.

Now Communism’s finished as a grand threat to anyone. There’s absolutely no need for American troops in South Korea – or Germany, for that matter. Pull them out. As far as North and South Korea go we got no dog in that fight. Let ‘em duke it out and may the best man win.

The Bush administration has insisted that it will not negotiate with the North Korean government, demanding that it immediately cancel its nuclear weapons programs and readmit the U.N. inspectors who were expelled last month.

If we have to waste our time sorting out the problems of a South Korea incapable of taking care of itself this is as good a stance as any to take.

But South Korea’s swift move to draft a proposal in time for Monday’s meeting with Bush administration and Japanese officials in Washington showed its determination to broker a solution, breaking with its longstanding deference to the United States. The move also appeared to increase pressure on the Bush administration to negotiate as South Korea continues to try to craft a multinational coalition to press a deal.

Translation: South Korea is determined to find a way for America to continue to pay for South Korean national security, a scam it’s been getting away with for 50 years now.

“Compromise is inevitable,” said Lee Jung Hoon, an arms control expert at Yonsei University in Seoul. “Negotiation to settle the issue is inevitable. What’s the U.S. going to do, make an enemy of everyone?”

North Korea made an enemy of the U.S., not the other way around. By “compromise,” of course, Mr. Lee and all South Koreans really mean “For your strategic best interests, America, we South Koreans will decide on the terms and you shut up and write the check and commit the manpower to make them happen, and if they don’t work out it’ll still be your fault, not ours.”

South Korea elected a new president last month, Roh Moo Hyun, who campaigned on a pledge to continue the country’s “sunshine policy” of engagement with the North. Roh, who assumes office on Feb. 25, has said that South Korea should not reflexively side with the United States in a conflict with the North.

This is a cheap spineless politician pandering to the country’s anti-American mood of the moment. I say take him at his word and tell him all right, you two brother Koreas sit down over kimchee and tea and sort it all out yourselves, goodbye. Mr. Roh would be slobbering all over America’s boots to please please stay pretty please pretty please.

Han Sung Joo, South Korea’s foreign minister during the last nuclear crisis on the peninsula nearly a decade ago, said that “from the North Korean point of view, there are many things in their favor,” adding that the United States would eventually have to find “some kind of face-saving way” to pull back from its position and engage in talks. “That will happen once it becomes clear that there is no way out.”

Oh there’s a way out for America, all right. It’s called an Army transport plane and it’s high time we started using it.

Today, South Korea continued to encourage other countries in the region to urge North Korea to pull back from the nuclear brink. South Korea’s deputy foreign minister, Kim Hang Kyung, arrived in Moscow for meetings with Russian officials, telling reporters that the United States, China, Japan and Russia “have a joint goal” in addressing North Korea’s nuclear program.

And of those countries named, only the United States has no real stake in what happens. Wake up, smell the coffee and get the hell out.

The current crisis stems from the disintegration of a 1994 deal under which North Korea promised to shut down a nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium and submit to U.N. inspections in exchange for shipments of fuel oil and the building of nuclear power plants by the United States and its allies.

The Bush administration halted the fuel shipments after North Korea disclosed in October that it had secretly pursued the development of uranium-based nuclear weapons.

And it’s America’s fault for doing so, it’s not North Korea’s fault for ripping up the agreement, it’s America’s fault for realizing the agreement was ripped up.

Really, don’t we all seem to be running on the unproven – indeed, widely discredited – assumption that South Korea is somehow a valuable ally to the United States? I bet those wealthy Koreans in the United States – statistically speaking the Korean population of New Jersey is the single wealthiest demographic community in the United States – are paying big, big bucks to powerful D.C. lobbyists to keep the government from realizing the truth, which is that there’s no reason for America to give a damn about anything that happens on the Korean peninsula.

Socialized medicine outlined.

Great piece over at Just Some Poor Schmuck titled “It’s For The Children… Again” where John Dunshee exposes the crafty stratagems via which Oregon’s trying to completely socialize its health care. John explains exactly how such a process works and blows up the flowery opiate phrasing – “small children’s healthcare tax,” “for the [uninsured] children,” “adjusted periodically to keep up with changing costs,” etc. – used to sneakrush it past a sleepily nodding public. Lots of other thoughtful, well-written stuff here as well.

January 05, 2003

Sometimes a face helps.

Here’s a picture of Noam Ochayon and his brother Matan. Noam’s on the left, in the picture he’s four. Matan’s five. Cute kids, aren’t they? They look like fun kids to have over – I know my five and three-year olds, Dylan and Blake would have a great time with the Ochayon boys.

But they never will.

On November 10th 2002 Matan and Noam, who lived in Kibbutz Metzer in Israel were two of five people shot and killed by a Muslim following the dictates of Islam who infiltrated the kibbutz, located east of Hadera near the Green Line.

The boys died to the glory of Allah in the arms of their mother, Revital, 34, as she tried to hide with them in a corner of their room. Here’s Revital:

After putting them to bed Revital was speaking on the phone with her ex-husband, Avi, when she heard shots outside. She dropped the phone and ran into the boys’ room, where the Islamic murderer who is revered and admired by Muslims today pursued them and shot them as they hugged one another. Avi Ochayon heard his ex-wife, with whom he’d remained close, and two sons shot to death over the phone. Muhammad must be so proud.

Another kibbutz member, Yitzhak Dori, was killed in an exchange of fire with the terrorist, and Tirza Damari, of Elyachin, was shot as she was strolling with a friend, who escaped harm. Yasser Arafat’s Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades gleefully claimed responsibility for the murders and the Muslim escaped. He’s considered a great hero in Palestine.

Happy children and a devoted teacher.

Matan and Noam were pupils at the Calanit kindergarten and nursery school on Metzer. Their teachers described them as happy children who were glad to have moved from Pardes Hanna to the kibbutz, where they loved to go on daily excursions.

Revital taught filmmaking and communications at the Pardess Hanna Comprehensive High School and Ma’ayan High School in Ein Hahoresh. Her friends described her as a devoted teacher with a highly developed social consciousness. “She would monitor each student’s projects individually,” said Dorit Balin, national supervisor of communications at the Education Ministry.

“And she also made time for extracurricular intiatives. For example, she started a joint film project between an old age home and a youth group in Pardess Hanna, which she called What I Leave Behind is Yours.”

Muslims laugh and rejoice at the news.

The house where they lived and were murdered with their mother was the former kibbutz kindergarten, which remained colorfully decorated. On the shelf above the bed where they were gunned down to the glory of Allah are three framed pictures of the boys laughing together. Only Arafat, Muhammad and other Muslims are laughing now…

… “You shoulda seen the look on their faces,” laughs the Muslim who murdered them, the jihad hero whose name is now revered in Islam. “The bitch was crying and begging for mercy for the two little Zionist pigs squealing in her arms, ‘Shoot me and let them go, please, they’re just babies,’ it was beautiful. I blew their heads apart so she could watch and then shot her up the ass.”

Arafat smiles. “The Allah we worship is pleased with you, my son. You are a great man. Reminds me of some of the happiest days of my life. That’s the problem with my life now, I don’t get Jewish blood on my hands anywhere near as frequently as I like. I trust my loyal men to do that for me.”

“And you’re a great Muslim,” Muhammad says, reaching out to slap the murderer on the shoulder. The man who has just killed two little boys and their mother huddling crying in a corner smiles and blushes at the compliment. “You are a credit to your religion, the religion of peace.” All three look at each other with the gravest seriousness for a second, then burst out laughing and shouting “Allah is great! All praise to Allah!”

“Hey tell me again just how she screamed when you shot her two little boys in her arms,” Arafat says, pouring more wine all around…

Kibbutz Metzer: They trusted the Palestinian Muslims.

As Clubbeaux has noted previously, it is frequently argued that were we to “understand” militant Islam, get to know it, invite it over for tea and sit down and listen and sympathize with its goals and show that we trusted its innate goodness, that militant Islam would approve of us and stop killing us.

What gives the lie to such liberal crap is that Kibbutz Metzer is – was – probably the most pro-Palestinian kibbutz in Israel.

Kibbutz Metzer is on the far left of the kibbutz movement, its inhabitants vote overwhelmingly for the dovish Meretz Party, and it had “genuinely good relations with its Israeli Arab neighbors and rather decent relations with its Palestinian neighbors across the green line,” according The New Republic. “Metzer believed that its eager amity with the Palestinian Muslims could be a light to the two peoples.”

As a matter of fact the kibbutz had recently protested a security fence the Israeli Army wanted to build around the kibbutz, arguing that their good relations with the Palestinian Muslims were protection enough.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that if you reach out to Islam, meet it on its own terms and build up positive relationships with militant Muslims that they’ll see reason and respect you as you respect them, remember Noam, Matan and Revital.

Bringing it all back home.

I sit here typing this, sipping a Scotch and water on the rocks. Mahalia Jackson’s gospel music plays on the CD player. My wife’s sitting in the living room reading a magazine. Dylan and Blake are sleeping in their room upstairs, I think Zelda’s finally gone down in her room down the hall from them.

Nobody’s going to burst in our house here in Richmond tonight and kill us all. That’s not going to happen.

I think I have problems. Business – I’m a freelance business copywriter – has been slow recently, and money’s a little tight. We’d like to get the floors done but can’t afford it right now. I’m concerned about that.

I’m a stupid, blind idiot.

I have absolutely – absolutely – nothing to be “concerned” about. My children are going to come in our room tomorrow morning and jump on our bed and climb under the covers and tickle my feet until I roar and tickle them until they fall screeching with laughter on the floor – always in my hands, never so they’re hurt – and we’ll do breakfast. Tomorrow’s Monday, pancake day. Then we’ll do it again Tuesday, and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday. I have no real problems whatsoever.

What’s the difference?

The whole time I’ve written this I’ve asked myself, what’s different about Israel in the Middle East? Sure they’re technically America’s “ally” – although they send people such as the Pollards to spy on us, what’s up with that? – but is that really it? Heck the Soviet Union was a World War II “ally” after all.

No, it’s that the Israelis are the only nation in the Middle East which agrees with me that a human life is good simply because it’s a human life. That the individual person – Noam, Matan, Revital – is important. That people aren’t meant to be simply cannon fodder, suicide bombers, shock troops in ideological wars.

Palestinian Muslims know it too. That’s why they locate bomb factories in heavily residential areas – they know Israeli Jews won’t raid them for fear of innocent casualties. That’s why human shields work for Palestinian Muslims against Israelis and aren’t even considered by Jews as a possible deterrent against Palestinian Muslims.

Look if the Israelis shared the Islamic values of the Palestinian Muslims we would see a genuine blood bath in the Middle East. Israel loses its temper to the murder of their citizens sometimes and goes overboard in retaliation from time to time, but on the whole Israel evinces a much, much higher respect for Palestinian Muslim life than Palestinian Muslims show for Jewish life. Hey if the Israelis were really out to cut down Palestinian Muslims we’d see thousands dead every day, since that’s what Israel’s militarily capable of.

We don’t see that. We see the worst that Muslims dare do to Israel, but we don’t see anywhere near the worst that Israel can do to Muslims. If roles were reversed, if the Palestinian Muslims had Israel’s military power and discipline and training, hoo boy, all-out Jewish genocide would start tomorrow morning.

That’s why it’s an inhuman crime when Noam, Matan, Revital are murdered, and a sad consequence of deliberately self-chosen policy when Palestinian Muslims are killed in Israeli raids – if the Palestinian Muslims would stop killing Israelis, the Israelis would stop retaliating. Simple as that. The ball’s always in the Palestinian Muslims’ court.

Noam, Matan, Revital were taught to respect human life and try to make peace with the Palestinians. The Muslim who killed them as Allah laughed was taught that all Jews are Zionist pigs and that Allah is pleased whenever they are killed cowering in the corner of the childrens’ bedroom. The one I see as a human quality. The other is nothing but sheer degraded animalism.

[Many thanks to the Walk For Israel site, which offers pictures and brief biographies for Matan, Noam, Revital and the 700 other victims of Islamic murders in Israel.]