John Edwards: Hypocrite

I don’t think that there’s any doubt that Democrats are twitching with almost unseemly delight in Larry Craig’s humiliating fall from grace. Here is a man who stood for family values and was hostile to all things gay, and yet he was caught tapping his foot in a men’s room. As for me, I’d be a little dubious about basing a life destroying (for him) charge of homosexuality based on foot tapping alone were it not for the fact that there have for years been rumors that Craig was a deeply closeted homosexual.

In the wake of this story, the term that seems to be most closely linked to Craig is “hypocrite. ” Indeed, a Google search turned up 190,000 hits for the search “Larry Craig hypocrite.” Although I’m sure that not all of the 190,000 hits actually touch upon this scandal and people’s conclusions about Craig, I bet a large percentage do.

The thing is, I think it’s questionable whether Craig is, in fact, a hypocrite. A hypocrite is defined as “a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.” Under that standard, we can conclude that Craig is a hypocrite only if we can prove that he gleefully touted family values in public, all the while laughingly and without guilt, living a homosexual life in private. I doubt that’s true. My suspicion is that Craig genuinely believes in the values he publicly espoused, and that he lives an anguished dark alley kind of live trying to fulfill his homosexual urges. He’s almost certainly a failure in his own eyes.

However, I can easily think of a politician who is truly a hypocrite. He’s a man who pushes one set of behaviors on the American masses, while openly and proudly living a life that is a completely betrayal of those same demands. That is, there’s no anguish here, nor sense of deep moral failing because he can’t live up to the standards he espouses. Instead, he flaunts in our faces a lifestyle he would deny to the rest of us.

I speak, of course, of John Edwards. John Edwards is the one who only recently demanded that we give up our big cars, a demand he made despite the fact that he owns a house with two garages, garages that, I’m sure, could easily house the two SUVs he owns (and I bet those aren’t his only cars). Hypocrite.

John Edwards talks movingly of the two Americas, one rich and one poor:

Today, under George W. Bush, there are two Americas, not one: One America that does the work, another that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America – middle-class America – whose needs Washington has long forgotten, another America – narrow-interest America – whose every wish is Washington’s command. One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants, even a Congress and a president.

Edwards has plans to fix those two Americas, almost all of which involve increasing the economic burdens on the solid, working middle class. His plan includes, among other things,

(1) increasing the minimum wage, which is always a good way to stifle employment (just ask Germany and France, whose minimum wages are great and whose unemployment routinely hovers close to the double digits);

(2) having the government create jobs (and when or where has that ever worked except when Roosevelt created full employment by getting America into World War II?);

(3) increasing government investment in unions (which are declining in membership probably because they don’t cater anymore to the average working guy), thereby turning unions into one more mouth sucking it up at the taxpayer trough;

(4) creating huge increases in government subsidized housing, so that the middle class can no longer afford homes, but can rest easy knowing that their taxes have provided housing for everyone else; and on and on.

Every single proposal he has requires increased government spending and increased government control over the economy. We’ve seen how well that works in Europe, which managed to live high on the hog only while America supplied a military, so Europeans didn’t have to. As it is, now Europe is collapsing under the weight of armies of old people demanding cradle to grave welfare, while declining numbers of young people (those nasty falling birth rates) mean that there is no one left to pay for the hungry maw of this welfare state.

All of this would be the usual dated socialist babble that comes from a Democratic party that is so stuck in the 1960s/1970s, that it is utterly incapable of looking at the failure of those systems where tried. The difference here, though, is that this babble comes from John Edwards.

This is the John Edwards who demands socialized medicine built on the back of taxpayers, even though it was precisely his type of misbegotten faux scientific lawsuit that helped drive up insurance rates, thereby helped driving up medical costs, thereby helping drive millions of people right out of the medical system altogether. Funnily enough, I don’t see John Edwards either apologizing for the damage he wrought, or giving any of his tens of millions of dollars contingency fees back on that one. Hypocrite.

This is the John Edwards who has a strong environmental score card, much of it aimed at getting us into small cars or better yet, out of cars altogether; that would have us be cold in the winter and hot in the summer; and that would affect America’s manufacturing abilities. All fine, if you believe being green is a good thing either because of global warming (something I, along with more than half of the world’s published scientists, haven’t bought into) or because you’d love to bankrupt the tyrannous, anti-American theocracies of the Middle East (as I very much would). The problem with Edwards, however, in terms of his votes on the environment is that they haven’t stopped him from building himself an ostentatious hog of a house, which comes in at almost 30,000 square feet, or from zipping around in gas hog cars. That is, he talks the environmental talk, at our cost, but ostentatiously does not walk the environmental walk in his own life. Hypocrite.

And getting back to that “Two Americas” war on poverty thing. Was it only me, or did it smell pretty foul that one way he set about solving the poverty problem was to work at a Hedge Fund, economic playground of the rich, rich, rich, to “educate” himself. He must have educated himself really well, because he earned so much money even he is afraid to divulge the amount — and, by the way, he’s keeping it. I also doubt that his little war on poverty is being helped much by the fact that he’s got $16,000,000 of his dollars invested in a fund that his foreclosing left and right on Katrina victims. Hypocrite.

Clearly, John Edwards is not skulking around in dark corners, wishing he could live up to the standards he’s forcing on others (which is, I suspect, where the tortured Larry Craig lurks). Instead, he’s quite open about the fact that we, the ordinary, very hard-working people must give up the comforts of life and hand over to the government ever increasing amounts of our honestly earned pay, while he gets to live an entirely different life style, one characterized by opulence and selfishness.

Given Edwards’ manifest disdain for those he claims he’ll represent, and his high comfort level with demanding of us sacrifices he would never believe in making himself, I am truly baffled when I get political emails telling me that “John Edwards has adopted sound and courageous policy positions. He has not stayed on the sidelines or attempted to straddle the middle on the key issues of our time.”

All John Edwards has ever done is adopt paternalistic and condescending policy positions — positions his very open personal behavior shows that he would never, never consider abiding by himself. Of course, if the real key issue of our time in his supporter’s eyes is John Edward’s anti-War stance, as to that, I do absolve him of hypocrisy. I’m absolutely certain that his demand that no one fight for America comforts entirely with his personal belief systems — because he’d never fight for America himself.

(If you think this post deserves prominence at the Patrick Ruffini 2008 Presidential Wire, please click ** here**.)

UPDATE: On the subject of hypocrisy, I really, really like Thomas Lifson’s ruminations about Arthur Miller, who was recently discovered to have been horrifically cruel to his Downs Syndrome son. Like Lifson, I never liked Miller’s plays either, finding them horribly bombastic and peopled with nasty, weak, immoral characters who, I always suspected, were more reflective of Miller’s own personality than the world around him.

UPDATE IIBurt Prelutsky sees the same thing I do when he looks at Edwards although, at the end of his article, he adds in a little dollop of Edwards’ actual rank stupidity.  It really doesn’t say much for American Democrats that Edwards is polling so well.

Reaching out to women voters

In an inspired Wall Street Journal article, Kimberley Strassel points out that Republican candidates, at their peril, are ignoring women, while Democratic candidates, knowing that women voters are the statistical difference for them between success and failure, are wooing them aggressively. This wooing needed go well.  Strassel explains that the Democrats are locked in the 1970s when it comes to thinking about what women want. She, therefore, uses her column to look at what women want now and to give the Republican candidates some pointers about how to communicate to women that the Republicans, not the Democrats, will address their 21st Century needs. Here’s just one of her ideas:

Here’s an example of how a smart Republican could morph an old-fashioned Democratic talking point into a modern-day vote winner. Ms. Clinton likes to bang on about “inequality” in pay. The smart conservative would explain to a female audience that there indeed is inequality, and that the situation is grave. Only the bad guy isn’t the male boss; it’s the progressive tax code.

Most married women are second-earners. That means their income is added to that of their husband’s, and thus taxed at his highest marginal rate. So the married woman working as a secretary keeps less of her paycheck than the single woman who does the exact same job. This is the ultimate in “inequality,” yet Democrats constantly promote the very tax code that punishes married working women. In some cases, the tax burdens and child-care expenses for second-earners are so burdensome they can’t afford a career. But when was the last time a Republican pointed out that Ms. Clinton was helping to keep ladies in the kitchen?

For that matter, when was the last time a GOP candidate pointed out that their own free-market policies could help alleviate this problem? Should President Bush’s tax cuts expire, tens of thousands of middle-class women will see more of their paychecks disappear into the maw of their husband’s higher bracket. A really brave candidate would go so far as to promise eliminating this tax bias altogether. Under a flat tax, second-earner women would pay the same rate as unmarried women and the guy down the hall. Let Democrats bang the worn-out drum of a “living wage.” Republicans should customize their low-tax message to explain how they directly put more money into female pockets.

As you know, I hate identity politics. However, to the extent that’s the game Democrats play, the Republican contenders would do well to heed Strassel’s warning and curry a demographic that has the power, if ignored, to latch on to bad Democratic policies in the complete absence of any Republican policies.

Just have to ask

Why isn’t anyone in Hollywood making movies about the abuses the terrorists within Iraq perpetrate against Americans and Iraqis? How honest is it to take one incident involving Americans and then to build a Riefenstahl-esque propaganda film about it, when you have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of incidents in which Islamists have engaged in mass execution style killings of bound Iraqis, civilian bombings, beheadings, kidnappings, child burnings, etc? Or what about the little matter of Hussein killing hundreds of thousands of his own citizens, as well as leaving many others to the tender mercies of his clinically sadist sons?

Why am I asking stupid questions? De Palma, who is an anti-militaristic one trick pony, made a propaganda film that is playing well before a credulous audience that never hears the truth anyway. (On this last point, see Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, which gives a detailed description of anti-American government control over the press.) Shame on him. Shame on them.

Aw, forget that too. They have no shame, only hate and cultural self-loathing.

UPDATE: Thoughtful summary from the Confederate Yankee about De Palma’s anti-American propaganda.

Why I support Israel

My blog, lately, has hosted a really interesting discussion about both Israel’s legal rights in the disputed territories and the Palestinians’ lack of legal rights. Those two statements (Israel’s rights vs. Palestinian non-rights) are not mirror-like redundancies. It’s entirely possible to argue (although I wouldn’t), that while Israel has no right to the disputed territories, neither do the Palestinians. That is, for Israel’s sake, advancing one argument is just as important as advancing the other.

The problem with the argument about rights to the disputed territories is that these arguments often boil down to something like the lawsuit from Hell. The various disputants point to events in 3,000 B.C., 2,000 B.C., 1,000 B.C., the 19th Century, the 1910s, the 1920s, the 1930s, the 1940s, and so on, ad nauseum, right up until events taking place yesterday. Throw in the sagging Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, the British Mandate, the League of Nations, the United Nations, five wars, the fact that Arabs routinely lost on the battlefield but were rescued at the UN, endless border battles, strategic missteps by the Israelis, and the rhetorical hijacking of purely legal, territorial arguments by Islamists and radical Leftists — face it, you’re not going to create any easily comprehensible arguments.

Then, layer over this whole factual and rhetorical swirl of words the fact that Israel, in her endless quest for some sort of meaningful ceasefire from the Palestinians, has soft pedaled her own indisputable rights. Israel’s tentative approach, from the 1940s onward, to asserting her legal and post-war rights creates a situation where, to either the uninformed eye or the eye looking for Israel’s faults and failures, it appears that Israel doesn’t believe in her indisputable rights. Then, consider that Israel is a truly pluralist country hampered by a coalition style government imported from Europe. This last point explains why Israeli policy wobbles from strong to weak, and why Israel is exceptionally bad at setting out a coherent statement of her case before a hostile world.

These problems, where fact and law intersect, where arguments became muddy, and where Israel sometimes appears terrified of asserting her own case, are also easily exploited by those who have Israel and Jews in their cross hairs. Indeed, a point of exploitation, right now, is the publication of a revamped Walt and Mearshimer book, which AFP is pushing hard as the ultimate truth regarding Israel’s alleged evil control over world debate and American foreign policy.

At times like this, it sometimes helps to pull back and look at larger issues. Throwing around legal arguments dating back either 4,000 years or 1 day can be fun, just as playing an endless game of Monopoly can be fun. Still, there’s no doubt that these arguments, while satisfying their makers, don’t necessarily shine light on the situation.

For me, the larger issue is the nature of the two cultures currently at war, and my own moral decision about the culture I believe deserves my support.

On the one hand (that would be the Israel hand), we have a representative Democracy that gives equal legal and political rights to women, gays, Arabs, Christians, Hindus — hey, to all citizens within its borders. It is so desperate for peace that it routinely compromises its own security in the hope of obtaining that peace. Recently, rather than mowing down entirely a neighboring community devoted to killing its citizens, Israel built a wall, immuring its own people to help prevent their deaths. It’s also a country with free speech and a thriving marketplace of ideas, one that adds quality to the day-to-day life of people around the world.

On the other hand (that would be the Palestinian hand), you have two lawless communities that subjugate and brutalize women, murder and harass gays, murder and expel Christians, and refuse to allow anyone else within their territories (including, of late, even grovelingly friend journalists). For generations, these people’s sole goal, and the value they’ve passed to their children, is to murder the Israelis — every last one of them — that live next door. While Israel tries to prevent its own citizens from dying, these people put their children in the front line of battle, not even because they actually aid fighting, but because their inevitable deaths help this culture look pathetic, giving it a leg up in international opinion.

Given these two different cultures, I say law is useful, but not determinative. I have no truck with moral relativism, and I’m therefore able, with a clear conscience, to place my support behind Israel, the country of (sometimes flawed) Western humanism, and not behind Hamas or Fatah, territories of animalistic immorality and violence.

UPDATE: A little more on the perverted lessons taught to Palestinian children.

UPDATE II: Today’s example of free speech (NOT) amongst the Palestinians.

UPDATE III: And this is where the UN falls on the moral question of backing either a free Democracy or a nihilistic, murderous, semi-theocracy.

UPDATE IV: Yet another recent story about Israeli innovation that makes a difference — this time for American soldiers.

This does sound like a working Surge

Since DQ asked in a comment how we can tell if the surge is working, I’ve been collecting links to blogs and articles that discuss that point.  The Captain has a lucid summary of an article in The Australian in which General Petraeus gives the heads-up about his probable report to Congress.  It all sounds good if you believe, as I do, that the Surge’s purpose is to use a powerful American military offensive to stop on the ground fighting in Iraq, thereby creating a window of peace in which lasting political progress take place.

The Weasel Watchers have spoken

The anticipation was killing, but the Watcher’s Council results are finally in and I can say, with some confidence, that they are good.

On the Council side first place (again!) went to Big Lizards, this time for a stellar article pointing out that, at the NYT: Analogies Are Meaningless (Unless They Favor the Left). As you have no doubt grasped from the post’s title, the post addresses the shock and horror the Times experienced when President Bush not only had the temerity to reference the Vietnam War as a teaching guide for our current situation, but did so without using the words “quagmire” or “liberal professor from Harvard.” Yes, it is a very good post.

A well deserved second place went to Soccer Dad with another attack on the Times‘ peculiar inability to provide a level playing field in the religiously related stories it reports. In Separate But Unequal, Soccer Dad focused, not on Iraq and Vietnam, but on reports about a Muslim school in New York (“good” in Times-speak) and a Jewish school in Florida (“bad” in Times-speak). It takes a PhD in liberalism to understand the distinction the Times draws between the two schools, but suffice it to say I think it might have something to do with the difference between the school that represents the 1.6 billion Muslim victims worldwide and the school that represents the 13.3 million widely scattered, mostly assimilated Jewish oppressors world wide. (And yes, my tongue is firmly in cheek as I attach those adjectives.)

The offerings are just as good if you switch to the non-Council stuff. First place went to the screamingly funny (I mean that) Like a Suppository, Only a Bit Stronger, by The Dissident Frogman, a video with an important munitions lesson. Do watch it, if you haven’t already.

Second place was Confederate Yankee’s Misfire: AP’s Bogus Ammo Shortage Story, which (I’m seeing themes here) also gives a munitions lesson: this time a lesson in understanding that munitions actually exist — a concept that seems to elude the media.

At this point, everybody say with me: “Those are the winners but all the nominations were excellent. Do your brain a favor and take some time to read them.”

Destroying children’s socialization

I know you all caught the story about the school in Colorado that banned tag. The school’s primary stated reason for having instituted this ban was to shelter kids they perceived as emotionally delicate:

An elementary school has banned tag on its playground after some children complained they were harassed or chased against their will.

“It causes a lot of conflict on the playground,” said Cindy Fesgen, assistant principal of the Discovery Canyon Campus school.

To me, the school has it bass ackward. The elementary school years are peak socialization years for children. As much as they are learning in the classroom, they are probably learning more on the playing field. Indeed, Maria Montessori believes that children between 6 and 10 are in their peak social learning years. Kids are as emotionally flexible now as they are physically flexible. Don’t believe me? Do a thought exercise with me.

Imagine that you and your closest friend get into a fight, a really big fight. For most adults, that’s the end of the friendship, isn’t it? Huge barriers of ego and past history are thrown up, battle lines are solidified through reasoned (or so we think) argument, friends and families weigh in, pushing us one way or another.

Now think about your child. Yesterday, he came home complaining that he hates his best friend and they’re never going to play together again. Today, he gets off the bus arm in arm with that same friend, and both beg you for an immediate play date.

Kids do this because they have short memories and crave immediate gratification, both of which lead to an “I hate you now but I’ll love you later when I want to play” attitude. It’s only if the same hateful conduct occurs too frequently, or with too much attendant violence or social humiliation, that the friendship might eventually be severed. Absent that, these kids get to practice over and over and over the skills they’ll use the rest of their lives for non-violent, or low-violence conflict situations. It helps, of course, if their parents can suggest some skills for them to use to deal with different types of playground battles.

And yet, in Colorado, the school — an institution presumably devoted to child development — has shut the door on this absolutely necessary socialization learning experience. Wouldn’t it have been infinitely wiser to have staff on the playground to do two things: (1) prevent bona fida, threatening, emotionally humiliating, persistent bullying and (2) catch the kids in moment of conflict and teach them on-the-spot skills to work out a resolution? In that way, the kids can burnish their socialization skills even as they engage in a centuries, even millennia, old playful rite of passage.

Interestingly, on the same day the tag ban broke, my daughter brought her class rules home. The children worked on the rules with the teacher, and they are almost entirely very sensible, including as they do, not just abstract rules about being friendly and respectable, but really concrete rules for hand raising and moving around the classroom. But the rules also included one that had me scratching my head: “no pretend weapons.” Please note that it’s not a ban on bringing actual toy guns into class. It’s a teacher-led/child-approved ban on that age old toy, the thumb and pointer finger gun.

Now, as it happens, I have a son, and I live in a neighborhood rich with boys. Without exception, an integral part of their play involves imaginary battles, always accompanied by the use actual of toy guns or these manual “pretend guns.” These boys are, without exception, nice boys. They are not unduly aggressive, nor are they obsessed with violence. This is how they socialize, exercise their brains, and figure out (often with parental help) means to work around the real, as opposed to pretend, battles that so often flair up during play. It seems to me that the classroom rules banning pretend weapons essentially say to the boys in the class, whatever you do, don’t be boys.

Right about now, I know someone is going to say, “But these are classroom rules and they shouldn’t be playing rough, as battle games always are, in the classroom. ” If that was the case, though, the rule should have said, “no rough play in class,” or “games are for the outdoors,” or something like that. This was a very targeted rule, at a very specific imagination game that boys play a whole lot more than girls.

As it is, I’ve decided not to make an issue of this rule, because it totally doesn’t affect my daughter. Girl-like, it would never occur to her to engage in an extended imagination game using pretend weapons. To use legal terms, as to this issue, I simply don’t have standing. I wonder, though, if any mothers/fathers of boys in the class will take umbrage at this limitation on boy socialization and imagination.

Beyond the specifics, I wonder what will happen to a generation of children raised in a conflict free environment that kills competition, stifles opportunities to learn about smoothing over fights, prevents exercise, and most certainly says “boys will not be boys.” It’s especially unnerving that we’re raising this type of generation as (Muslim) people all over the world are training their children, boys and girls, to kill without mercy.

Important things happen in the comments here

Spurred by Amanpour’s CNN series on religion, DQ, who is a very astute analyst and a thinker who is truly open minded to new information and ideas, wrote his impressions of the show, which led to a lively and very fact intense discussion about Amanpour’s errors, both explicit and implied, regarding Israel’s borders. Regular readers gave detailed answers better than anything I could ever have put together and I urge you to read them all. From these comments, DQ went on to write another post asking very specific questions about Gaza and the West Bank.

Ocean Guy, who has a great blog called Somewhere on A1A, took on the challenge in this second post and wrote here, as comment #4, what I think is one of the best summaries about the border dispute, including why it is reasonable for Israel to have continued to exert control over the West Bank and Gaza during the dispute. Indeed, I like his argument so much, I’m elevating parts of it here to a stand alone post. Reading it, I was struck by how lucidly it exposes the weakness of the Palestinian claims of righteousness regarding that land, as well as explaining Israel’s weak approach to territories that could rightly be seen as the spoils of an endless border war, with Israel the defender, not the aggressor. Read the whole Ocean Guy comment, but please pay specific attention to these points:

You are right, there was no claim to the territories prior to the ‘67 War… although there was a universal Jewish cry for access to Jerusalem, which the Jordanians forbade. (Which is another bone of contention.. comparing Arab administration of Jerusalem between ‘47 and ‘67 to Israeli governance since… but that’s another volume.)

So, no claim prior to ‘67… and if the Arabs had decided to accept Israel, and live in peace, there would NOT have been a “claim.” However, continued hostilities, terrorism, and ultimately another breakout of the war meant that SECURE and DEFENSIBLE borders were required. Still, even after the ‘67 war, Israel tried to give Judea and Samaria back to Jordan… despite ancient ties to the land, Israel was willing and happy to trade the land for peace… Again the Arabs rejected it.

In ‘67 the world stepped in and, once again, bailed the Arabs out by negotiating another cessation of hostilities… 242 came into the picture then and basically told the disputants that the status of the land occupied during the war (’67) needs to be settled through negotiation. The Arabs refused to negotiate… still refuse to negotiate… and have instead continued the war they started in 1947 with different tactics. The main problem throughout has been “Who does Israel negotiate with?”

Egypt took the Sinai back but didn’t want Gaza… Gaza wouldn’t/couldn’t rule itself. Jordan wouldn’t take the West Bank back, and the West Bank wouldn’t/couldn’t rule itself. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon, all were happy keeping all authority from the palestinians yet steering the focus towards the wretched state of their Arab brothers. Meanwhile Arafat and the PLO terrorized their way into the international discourse.

Thrown out of Jordan, Thrown out of Lebanon… no one wanted them… they were simply corrupt terrorists and murderers with the goal of destroying Israel. The PLO/Black September, were given the recognition they had not earned. For Arafat and the PLO, ALL of Israel was illegally occupied lands. That is why so many of us put so much emphasis on the maps the PLO used to teach their children, the way Arafat war his Keffiyah, the rest of the school curricula… everything indicated they thought all the land belonged to Arabs… NOTHING they said ever gave Israel any acknowledgment, let alone official recognition.

Why did Arafat continually turn down generous peace offers??? Because he had promised his “people” ALL of Israel… the West Bank wasn’t enough… Sadly the western media kept feeding us the fantasy that Jenin and Ramallah, the West Bank and Gaza, was all they wanted, when in reality Arafat had promised the Arabs Haifa and Tel Aviv too. But the “overwhelming consensus” of western media was more in line with the fiction that Arafat fed to them in English. He was tremendously successful in getting the myth of his palestinian narrative to be accepted as truth.

So, the terror campaign and media campaign against Israel continued… it was working marvelously, giving the Arabs victories they could never win on a battlefield. But Israel just wanted peace, was/is willing to give up almost all of the gains from ‘67 in exchange for peace. And for another 20 years they absorbed the terror, endured the lies and prayed for peace. Then came Oslo.

When the Oslo process was concluded everyone was ecstatic…well the majority was… finally there would be an Arab “government” in the territories… Arafat was given the tools to set up a functioning government and the recognition as the negotiating partner… But it didn’t quite happen that way…

Arafat proved he was still a corrupt, murderous thug even as the world’s heads of State welcomed him. The trouble was, and still is, that Arafat’s and the Arabs’ idea of living in peace was completely different from everyone else’s. We thought and assumed the Arabs wanted to live in peace with Israel and we just needed to find the right price in land and concessions to buy it. But, on the other side, what Arafat wanted and the Arabs want, is to live in peace WITHOUT Israel.

So the main point is… The Disputed Territories for the Arabs include ALL of Israel. Even though so many, like you, limit the disputed/occupied territory to the ‘67 cease fire lines… The Arabs want it ALL.

If they don’t want it all… If the Arabs are really interested in peace, they would recognize Israel, set up embassies in Israel, allow Israeli embassies in their own countries… they would trade with Israel and allow free travel. They would grant citizenship to their “palestinian” brothers who want it. They would set up a viable government in a nascent Palestine who would be the negotiating partner with Israel. None of that is even close to happening.

The territories are disputed because the world and the UN kept the belligerent parties from settling it on the battlefield and demanded that they settle it peacefully. One side refuses to talk peacefully…

The Arabs have never acknowledged defeat, indeed they have never really been defeated. Hell, in Egypt they still celebrate their “victory” in the ‘73 war. At every outbreak of hostilities, the UN has stepped in to save the Arabs from the humiliation of defeat. Having never lost, the Arabs continue the war by whatever means they can get away with… and the western press and governments let them get away with a lot.

Many in Israel would like to annex the territories. Yes, there is dispute in Israel today on that matter, but virtually EVERYONE would gladly trade the land for peace… REAL peace. The fact Israel is willing to bargain much of the land away for peace does not mean the territory is not disputed.

Again… Where are the borders? Who exercises Sovereignty now? Who will have Sovereignty when the final status is negotiated? Who is the negotiating partner for ending the State of War that has been ongoing since ‘47? If Israel were to withdraw every person from territory outside the ‘67 cease fire lines, would the situation be settled? I don’t think so. That to me sounds like disputed territories

What is a “traveling family”?

Despite the fact that we live in a vaccine age, Britain is facing an outbreak of measles, a disease can cause life long damage to its victims:

Parents were urged today to give their children the MMR jab before they returned to school after figures showed measles cases have more than trebled in the last 11 weeks.

There have been 480 confirmed cases in the UK so far this year, compared to 756 cases during the whole of 2006 – the highest year on record.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the number of confirmed cases of children suffering measles was higher than expected for this time of year and urged parents to ensure their children were vaccinated.

Up until June 10 this year, 136 cases of measles, which can be life-threatening, had been confirmed by the HPA.

But as of today, just over 11 weeks later, this had more than trebled to 480.
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Dr Mary Ramsay, a consultant epidemiologist at the HPA, said: “Over the summer holidays we have seen more cases of measles being reported than we would normally expect.

“This means it is crucial that children are fully immunised with two doses of MMR before they return to school.

“Measles is a highly infectious and dangerous illness and, as there is increased close contact in schools, it can spread easily.”

The HPA said while was difficult to confirm reasons why there has been such a jump in recent weeks, a high number of cases has been noted in communities where vaccine uptake is lower, including travelling families. (Emphasis mine.)

My question, stated in my post title is, what is a “traveling family”? Is this a British term that everyone there understands or is it a PC euphemism aimed at obscuring, not clarifying, an important fact related to British public health? As it stands, it has no meaning for me at all. Does it for you?

UPDATE:  By the way, avoiding vaccinations isn’t just a British problem.  I’m a big believer in vaccinations.  There’s no doubt that some carry with them risky side effects, but these side effects pale compared to the risks of an epidemic.  I know some people like to point out that there are no longer epidemics, so they no longer need vaccinations, but these people miss the point that they are benefiting from herd immunity:  that is, if enough kids in the herd have taken the risk of a vaccination, an epidemic cannot take hold, which protects the ones who refuse the shot.  The thing is, if the latter become the largest proportion of the population, herd immunity vanishes.  Mother nature quickly takes advantage of that fact.  The huge resurgence in Nigeria of polio, one of the historic childhood scourges, after a Muslim paranoia attack about the West stopped the vaccination program, is a good example of that fact.

Neatly avoiding responsibility

NPR did a little eulogy for Richard Jewell:

Lets take a moment to remember a man who really was not a terrorist.

Richard Jewell died yesterday.  He might have saved lives at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.  He was a security guard.  He’s the man who discovered a green knapsack.  He’s the man who ushered several people away before the bomb inside it exploded.  It killed one person and injured 111 with flying nails.  Jewell is also the man who initially became a suspect in the bombing.

[Richard Jewell's voice] “I daresay there’s more people that know that I was accused of it and was a suspect, or called a suspect, than know I was the one that actually found the package, and that I was cleared.”

During 88 days as a suspect, Richard Jewell said he felt like a hunted animal about to be killed.  And afterward he thanked one of the few people who stood by him from beginning to end — his mom.

When he died yesterday of unknown causes, Richard Jewell was 44 years old.  He died at home, not in the prison cell where he might once have been expected to spend the rest of his life.

Listening to the above, as I did, you might wonder who hunted him down for those 88 hellish days.  Southern police?  The FBI?  Well, that’s certainly part of the answer.  The FBI was did a horrible thing by leaking Jewell’s identity to the press and it did investigate him very aggressively.  (Incidentally, since the FBI leak that triggered the media frenzy happened on Janet Reno’s watch, you may find interesting Ann Coulter’s column reminiscencing about the Reno years.)

If you’re like me, though, you remember that the FBI wasn’t alone in making Jewell’s life miserable.  Once the FBI wrongly got the ball rolling, the media ran with it, maligning and harassing for those 88 days, so much so that he sued several news outlets after he was cleared.  I think Jewell would have appreciated this 30 second eulogy a bit more if it had properly identified the culprits who made his life Hell for 88 days and, perhaps, included a nice little apology for the media’s role in the horror that became his life.

If you read one thing….

If you read one thing this week, this month, or even this year, read this: “The Big Picture,” which Karl assembled at Protein Wisdom.  It carefully analyzes the way in which the media is reporting the war, and explains why the Scott Beauchamp story is a problem, not because it is anomalous, but because it is typical.  I truly think that this post is going to set the standard for reporting about war reporting.

So what does Israel want now?

DQ again.  Thank you all very much for taking the time and effort to educate me on Israel’s rights to the occupied territories.   Having only a vague notion that Israel’s borders were larger in the first proposals for its creation, I had (and still have) much to learn. 

But, perhaps not surprisingly, the explanations raise as many questions as they answer.  It’s clear that 2,000 years ago, or 80 years ago, Israel would have had a strong claim to the occupied territories.  But it appears Israel was actually created in 1948 by a UN resolution (181?) which defined its borders as the pre-1967 borders.  Do I have that right?  Israel accepted this resolution.  By accepting this resolution, it would seem to the uninformed (me) that Israel gave up any claim to sovereignty over any territory outside of those borders.

The only answer to this I’ve seen in the explanations I’ve read is that this resolution had no force because the Arabs rejected it.  But since when do UN resolutions have no force if one party rejects them?  Or was acceptance by all sides a condition of the resolution itself?  Even so, under normal legal principles (if there is any such thing) by accepting the resolution and establishing a country under it, Israel would be estopped to deny its efficacy.  What am I missing here?

If Israel did accept the resolution, then, before the war in 1967, it was making no claim to the territories.   It made such a claim only after it physically occupied them.  Even then, as several commenters pointed out, it did not annex them.   In the earliest days, it appeared ready to bargain some or all of them away for recognition and assurances of peace.  It continued to physically occupy them (though it did give some of them back as a part of certain deals).  Why is the term “occupied territories” not appropriate?

Perhaps sovereignty over the territories could fairly be called disputed if Israel was attempt to annex them and actively disputing dominion over them.  But Israel appears not to be doing that.  Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but Amanpour seemed to accurately portray a serious debate within Israel itself.  Some Israelis want to settle the occupied territories and, presumably, eventually annex them to Israel.  Since some of the writers appear to share this view, perphaps you can help me understand why Israel’s acceptance of the UN resolution does not defeat such a claim.   Other Israelis want to trade land for peace and do not want to annex the occupied territories. 

If Israel has never annexed the land, and isn’t even sure it wants to do so, what can any commentator do but describe the land as currently physically occupied by Israel, but not a part of Israel?  It’s not “disputed territory” if Israel is not, as a nation, even putting in a claim for it.

In my limited understanding, I don’t see where it makes any difference whether Jordon at one time occupied and annexed the territories or whether the Arabs rejected the resolution.  The Arabs do all assert some sort of Arab dominion over the West Bank, perhaps with the details of how it is to be governed to be left up to the Arabs.  They certainly assert that Israel should not have dominion over that territory.  Israel does not appear to fumdamentally disagree, since, while it continues to occupy the territory, it does not attempt to annex it and even goes so far as to send troops in to  destroy certain settlements there.  And, of course, Israel seems ready to bargain much of it away (as they were prepared to do in at least one rejected deal).

So what should the territories, and the West Bank especially, be called if not occupied territories?  More important than names, what does Israel want to happen to this territory?  Or is this question even answerable, given the division within Israel itself?

That you all for your patience with me and I hope this discussion is as helpful and informative to many readers as it is to me.  I’d appreciate your help.

Here’s how the story could have been reported

Israel, which has been the victim of endless and destructive rocket attacks originating in Gaza, successfully stopped one before it happened. Taking facts directly from the BBC, this is how I would have reported the Israeli Army’s successful action:

Israel destroys several rocket launchers in Gaza

The Israeli Army reports that it surveillance into Gaza revealed several rocket launchers aimed at a heavily populated industrial zone in Beit Hanoun. Several people were clustered around the rocket launchers, apparently preparing to fire them. The Israeli Army responded by shelling the rocket launchers.

In the last four months, Gazans have launched ten qassam rocket strikes on Israel. The seventy-seven rockets fired over this fourth month period killed two people, wounded several others, and caused significant damage to a factory containing hazardous materials, requiring evacuation.

Palestinian spokespeople announced that three children were killed in the attack. This report has yet to be confirmed.

The Israeli army expressed sorrow for the deaths of the children, but said it held militant groups responsible. “The army regrets terror organisations’ cynical use of children,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

In fact, this is how the BBC reported the story, using the same facts, but with a very different emphasis:

Three Palestinian children have been killed after an Israeli tank shell hit northern Gaza, Palestinian doctors say.

Israel’s military confirmed it launched an attack, saying it had targeted people setting up a rocket launcher.

Doctors said two boys aged 10 and 12 died of shrapnel wounds. A 12-year-old girl who was critically injured in the blast died also in hospital.

The Israeli army expressed sorrow for the deaths of the children, but said it held militant groups responsible.

“We identified and fired at several rocket launchers aimed at Israel in the Beit Hanoun industrial zone,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

“We also identified several suspicious looking people fiddling with the rocket launchers before we fired. The army regrets terror organisations’ cynical use of children,” she added.

This is what I mean when I talk about spin. The spin one could put on it is that Israel successfully deflected what was shaping up to be the tenth rocket attack on it in just four months. Unfortunately, because the Palestinians place their children in combat areas, both to use them as soldiers and to increase youth casualties for propaganda purposes had, in fact, had children swarming around these rockets, which are also obvious targets.

The alternative, of course, is that the Israeli Army kills children. Then, at the back end, you note that, perhaps, just perhaps, the children were in what could possibly be classified as a combat zone, since they were near weapons about to be fired. An in the really alternative, you don’t even mention that these type of rockets have been fired into Israel unceasingly for years, with increasing numbers of civilian dead and wounded.

Sadly, the second alternative is the type most commonly found in newspapers, especially European newspapers.

By the way, if you’d like to hear the Israeli point of view directly from the horse’s mouth, you can read this article, which points out that Israel believes (as I do) that the launch sites are war zones. I’ll just add that I don’t believe that a humane people cluster their children around weapons and war zones, unless they intend to use those children as soldiers or strategic targets.

UPDATE: More on Palestinian children used as instruments of war.

UPDATE II: Here’s a report from the LA Times identifying in the lede that the children were hanging out near rocket launchers.  It also gives a bit more context for the Israeli actions, by acknowledging the fact that, last month alone, more than 90 rockets were launched into Israel from the same area.

More on the Surge

Jeff Emanuel, a former special operations veteran and a current embedded journalist, has some cautiously optimistic words about the Surge, both in terms of how it’s working right now, and in terms of the possible benefits we can see from it.  Bottom line:  people who give up on the Surge in the short term are making a mistake.

Exactly how big was the increase amongst the uninsured?

The San Francisco Chronicle has a front page story today about the record number of uninsured people in California:

A record 6.8 million Californians, nearly 1 in 5 of the state’s residents, went without health insurance at some time during 2006, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Nationally, a record 47 million Americans, including 8.7 million children, lacked health coverage, the report said.

The survey comes as elected officials in cities, at the state Capitol and in Washington grapple with the growing problems of uninsured residents and the rising cost of care.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders held a closed-door meeting Tuesday to talk about their differences over health care legislation. Meanwhile, San Francisco officials are rolling out a program designed to provide care to 82,000 uninsured residents of the city.

In Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said the new estimates illustrate the need for Congress to approve new funding for children’s health care. And presidential candidates have been quick to offer their own reform proposals as voters identify health care as a top issue.

There’s more to the article, but I deliberately stopped quoting at the last paragraph because of Pelosi’s instant demand that, using children as the lever, taxpayers begin health care funding above and beyond what we’re already funding. The article uses the word “children” seven times, hammering away with ever increasing ferocity on that point:

The majority of uninsured children in the state also were found to be living with family incomes of less than $41,300 per year, according to the census report.

Although the report did not break down where uninsured residents live by city, a report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research released in March showed that the Bay Area did a better job than the rest of the state in providing health coverage.

The UCLA report found that in the Bay Area in 2005, there were about 900,000 people without health care, 99,000 of whom were children.

Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, an advocacy group based in Oakland, said that the lack of insurance for children and adults means that their care is generally provided at hospital emergency rooms where the most expensive care in the system is dispensed.

The frequent mention of the word children got my antenna up, because I’d already noted that, in the illegal immigrant debate, children were used as the rhetorical thin edge of the wedge by those (usually in the media), who think open borders and tax payer funding for illegals are fine things. For that reason, I began to view this as less of a news item, and more of an advocacy piece. With that little red light blinking, I asked myself a couple of questions: The first was whether the increase in the number of uninsured is related to illegal immigrants (who are has nowhere mentioned in the article), and the second was whether the uninsured are actually poor or are voluntarily uninsured. Matt Lewis answers both those questions with respect to an LA Times story that has the same spin as the Chron report:

The LA Times has once again proven the old adage about lies, damn lies, and statistics. In a story today, they open with this:

The number of Americans without health insurance rose last year from 44.8 million, or 15.3% of the population, to 47 million, or 15.8%, the Census Bureau reported today.

… But there’s only one problem. Upon closer inspecting the Census report, what the LA Times call “Americans” the U.S. Census (page 29) refers to (more accurately) as “People.”You see, when you subtract the 10 million, or so, folks referred to in the U.S. Census as, “Not a Citizen,” you are left with just 37 million – not 47 million as The Times suggests.)

What is more, of the 37 million actual U.S. citizens without healthcare, 17.7 million earn more than $50,000 a year — and could certainly afford insurance if they wanted it.

But the LA Times story was really about how the number of Americans without health insurance has increased this year. Looking again at the U.S. Census (again, page 29), you it is clear that almost 40 percent of the increase is due to non-citizens.

In other words, illegal immigrants making demands on the system account for the greatest part of the increase that serves as the basis for a story about pathetically uninsured children, which, in turn, is part of a continuing MSM meme that conflates child welfare with increased rights for illegal, as opposed to legal, immigrants. And so on and so on.

I feel at this point I should state a few things regular readers know. I’m the child of legal immigrants and believe that legal immigration is a huge part of what makes America a strong and vital country. I am utterly opposed to illegal immigration, because it is cheating, because it weakens our borders, and because it makes it impossible for our government to do what governments ought to be able to do: keep economic and social stability by preventing the uncontrolled influx of unskilled and, in many cases, criminal people. If we need more workers, Congress should pass a law allowing more unskilled labor in. It’s Congress’ and the American people’s choice — it’s not the choice of whatever person wants to cross the border to earn money to send back to Mexico. I also believe that illegal immigration will keep Mexico poor and corrupt forever, as both its citizens and its government rely on American jobs and wealth to prop up their own sagging economy and corrupt institutions.

I also believe that health insurance is a very useful thing. Rather than having the government manage health care, though, which they do exceptionally badly, I would prefer to open the market to more and more self-insurance options, options attractive to those 17.7 million people earning more than $50,000/year who have opted to do without insurance. But that’s not where either the article nor the politicians quoted in the article were heading, is it?

UPDATE:  Looks as if the Tories are trying to woo voters by promising to cut back on legal immigrants to Britain who are burdening the endless welfare benefits.

Practice what you preach.

Does it strike any of you as funny that a Presidential candidate, who is one of the richer men in America, and who just built himself a mansion that checks in at just under 30,000 square feet, is telling Americans to drive smaller cars? I’d be more agreeable to these messages if the preacher were practicing them himself. Heck, I’d even be more agreeable if I didn’t suspect that Edwards has more than one car parked in one of his two garages. One has to ask if Edwards is so insulated from ordinary life and ordinary people that he has no idea how hypocritical he appears.

Occupied territory or disputed territory

In response to my discussion of the “God’s Jewish Warriors” special, Oceanguy said he was quite disheartened that I could be taken in by the propaganda he saw in that show.  His particular concern centered around the following statement by Ms. Amanpour, ““Intifada, in Arabic, it means ‘shaking off.’ And beginning in September 2000, Palestinians turned increasingly to suicide bombs in the Second Intifada to shake off Israeli occupation and strike at the Jewish state.” 

Oceanguy (as best I understood it and please feel free to correct me) felt that I was taken in by this statement, in that I agreed that there was such a thing as an Israeli occupation.  He sses this as the worst kind of propaganda, because it sounds so plausible to those, like me, not intimately familiar with the situation.  Oceanguy believes the territories in question are disputed, not occupied.  He is certainly correct that I have believed that the occupied territories were occupied since Israel occupied them in 1967. 

Now I readily admit that I am the least knowledgable person in this discussion.  But please bear with me and help educate me as to why my belief is in error. 

I don’t know the technical legal definitions, but it would seem to me that for a territory to be disputed, there would have to be disputants with competing plausible claims of right to the territory.  I don’t recall that before the Six Day War Israel was claiming the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, or the Golan Heights as a matter of right.  When they occupied those areas in that war, I still don’t remember them claiming them as a matter of right.  What I remember is an argument that Israel must be allowed to keep some or all of these territories to give Israel defensible borders.  The issue wasn’t whether Israel had a historic right to the territories, but rather the much more pragmatic one of Israeli security.

Thus, from my limited viewpoint, it has always seemed that the territories are not disputed, but occupied.  Israel cannot create a dispute by asserting a right to the territories after the invasion, certainly not based on settlements on the land, or any occupier could convert any occupied territory to disputed territory by simply settling it and asserting a right to it.

I’m not at all certain that either term has meaning.  The whole discussion depends on the fiction of international law (which, through the ICJ, has already ruled against Israel in the matter).   Perhaps Oceanguy is simply saying, “We conquered it.  We own it.”  That certain has been the rule for nearly all of history and, for the most part, is how America came to exist.  But he seems to be saying something more — that Isreal has a legitimate claim to the territories under international law, and it is that claim which I have never understood.  Can anyone enlighten me here?

How’d it end up there?

Al Jazeera claims to have in its possession an Israeli government paper detailing the basic requirements Israel sees preconditions for any peace negotiations with the Palestinians.  I haven’t thought at all in depth about what these conditions are alleged to be, so I won’t comment on them here.  Instead, I wanted to blog briefly about something that popped into my head the moment I read the first paragraph:

Al Jazeera has obtained a document claiming to be Israel’s terms on which final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians can begin.

My question is, how do we know that this document is what it purports to be?   I can think instantly of four different factual narratives leading to that first paragraph:

1.  It’s a legitimate, albeit confidential internal Israeli document that was carelessly left lying around, which is how it ended in Al Jazeera’s hands.

2.  It’s a legitimate, albeit confidential Israeli document shared with Abbas, which Abbas’ political friends or enemies released, either to help or embarrass him.

3. It’s a legitimate, albeit confidential internal Israeli document that was deliberately leaked to Al Jazeera as a way of raising the flag and seeing if anyone salutes.

4.  It’s a phony document that the Israeli’s planted, again to raise the flag and see if anyone salutes.  That is, it really isn’t the Israeli bottom line, but Israel wants to see what the response will be.

5.  It’s a completely phony document, cooked up by Al Jazeera, Palestinians, or any one else with a dog in the fight that’s intended to narrow the parameters within which Israel will be forced to negotiate.

I’m sure you can come up with other scenarios.  All of them demonstrate that context matters.  Knowing whether the document is what it purports to be, and understanding how it ended up in Al Jazeera’s hands, are facts hugely helpful in interpreting both the document and subsequent responses to the document.  The only problem is that, if the true story is either option 3 or 4, any benefits to be gained from releasing such a document are destroyed if the underlying machinations behind its release are exposed.

Orkin’s okay

Hey, everyone.  I wanted to let you know that you can stop calling Orkin now about CNN’s “God’s Warriors” series, since Orkin has been helpful, honest and responsive regarding this show.  Here’s their representative’s latest missive:

Just want to circle back to give the final update from Orkin. We had purchased advertising that was supposed to air on “Larry King Live” on August 21. CNN changed programming to air “God’s Jewish Warriors” without notifying us ahead of time to obtain our approval – which is against our agreement with the network. We have discussed this with CNN, and they are aware of the severity of their mistake. I am told that “God’s Jewish Warriors” was a three-part special which has concluded; however, Orkin has added it to our “do not buy” list, should it re-air in the future. We sincerely thank you for bringing this issue to our attention – we can’t fix a problem if we’re not aware of it.

Also, please read fellow blogger DQ’s post suggesting that those of us with sensitive antennae may have reacted more strongly to Amanpour’s journalism than the average American would.  As I told DQ, I still have a problem with the fundamental principle of the show, that they’re all warriors, because warriors engage in War.  And the fact is that, right now, with the exception of a few nut jobs, the Christian and Jewish fundamentalists, although having beliefs more extreme than most of us, aren’t killing anyone.  This distinguishes them from the Muslim fundamentalists who are at the heart of just about every mass killing worldwide.

Additionally, I’m not sure how many readers are sophisticated enough to catch Amanpour’s “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” attitude about the Muslim Brotherhood, if DQ is correct that she sounded sarcastic when she introduced them as some type peaceful political organization.

Still, as I’ve admitted all along, I haven’t watched the shows, not because I was specifically boycotting the shows, but because I gave up on CNN and Amanpour more than a decade ago, dismayed by their attitude (anti-American, condescending, anti-Israel), and put off by the constant, banal, breathless, thoughtless chatter that characterizes so much of CNN’s 24 hour coverage.

Race based politics

Last night I watched a wonderful movie.  It’s called Street Fight, and it follows the unsuccessful 2002 mayoral campaign political neophyte Cory Booker ran against long-time Newark, New Jersey incumbent Sharpe James.  Both are Democrats and African Americans, with the former being a light skinned Rhodes Scholar, and the latter being a dark-skinned “man of the streets type.”  As the movie shows it, Sharpe James uses every single dirty tactic known to politicians in order to destroy Booker’s campaign.  Interestingly, one of his most damaging tactics is to challenge Booker’s blackness.  James attempts to discredit him in voters eyes by claiming that he’s not actually a black, Baptist Democrat, but is, in fact, a white, Jewish Republican.  In other words, James understands that, for many of his constituents, it’s not what Booker believes in or promises, it’s the color of his skin that counts.

(Just FYI, Booker ran again in 2006 and won.)

It was interesting, immediately after seeing that movie, to read Thomas Lifson’s articles about race based politics in San Francisco, where the Government is spending taxpayer money to entice blacks to remain in a politically correct City that has hitherto offered them no economic hope:

One of the ugliest aspects of contemporary “progressive” thought is a thoroughly patronizing attitude toward African-Americans, regarding them as eternal victims unable to fend for themselves. The latest insult comes from America’s most stridently left wing big city government, San Francisco, where municipal officials are fretting over recent declines in the number of blacks living within the city limits.

The nation’s largest newspaper, USA Today, yesterday joined the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle in bemoaning the trend of San Franciscans of African heritage moving out of the central city. Not just to “working-class cities like Vallejo, Richmond or Fairfield” (The New York Times), but to genuine American Dream suburbs like fast-growing Tracy California, which welcomes all races and hosts a proud and growing African-American community that includes a number of people of my acquaintance.
Even more pernicious than liberal journalists lamenting blacks behaving like every other group attracted to the amenities of suburban living are the official attitude and actions of local government.

I urge you to read the rest here, and to contemplate the poison that race based politics brings with it.  The paternalistic attitude of liberal whites, which would have voters believe that skin color alone dictates needs, believes and opportunities — and this is an attitude used for their benefit by the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world — paralyzes a black community that refuses to look inward at its own real needs.  What I didn’t realize is that so many African Americans are beginning to shake off that miasma of helplessness and are voting with their feet, and truly buying into the American Dream.

The Gospel according to the New York Times

Mr. Bookworm and I watched Obsession, the Movie Tonight, something that ought to be required viewing for all Democrats and, especially, for all members of the MSM (assuming any difference between the two groups). At the end, Mr. Bookworm acknowledged that, of course, radical Islam is a threat, but that my “beloved President Bush” (his words, not mine), is making the situation much worse. I should have held my tongue, but I didn’t.

Me: Well, the Surge is working.

Mr. BW: No, it isn’t. The NYT says so.

Me: But even Democrats are beginning to acknowledge it’s working.

Mr. BW: No, they’re not. The NYT says so. If you want evidence, what about that Times article by the seven soldiers?

Me (thinking to myself): (Oh, the one I blogged about and as to which I got a lot of information from military analysts?)

Me, to Mr. BW: I followed up on that. It turns out those guys are serving in one narrow sector that hasn’t yet seen the benefit of the Sur….

Mr. BW: You don’t know what you’re talking about. The NYT says the Surge isn’t working.

I have to admit that, at this point, I flounced off after having told him that, as long as he read and acknowledged only the Times, I didn’t see much point in discussing the matter. In 20/20 hindsight, I should never have taken the bait. After all, if you get between a man and his Gospel, you’re likely to end up on the hot end of the auto de fe.

UPDATE:  In a comment, DQ asked how one tells if the surge is working.  I bumbled on for a while in an attempt at a responsive comment, only to start my morning reading by discovering a couple of articles that are much better on that point than anything I could come up with.  Joseph Klein writes about the on-the-ground benefits of the surge, and the need to give the Surge more time to produce political benefits.  Deroy Murdock compiles a list of those Democrats who have honestly conceded that the Surge is changing the situation on the ground, although they are (for obvious reasons) less sanguine about its having any political ramifications.