In case you find yourself with some time to read

If you’re casting about for things to read, you can’t do better than to read the latest submissions to the Watcher of Weasels:

Council Submissions

Non-Council Submissions

Even the rats are running

You know that NPR is hitting new lows when a liberal friend who reads only the MSM, who refers to anything that’s not MSM as “right wing rags,” and who prefaces his remark with “You know I don’t agree with everything Israel does,” then goes on to add that “NPRs coverage of the Gaza thing is appallingly biased.”  Perhaps this friend will begin to figure out that this type of “appallingly biased” coverage isn’t anomalous, but is par for the course — and at tax payer expense too.

False parallels

A TV movie remake of The Diary of Anne Frank can be a very good thing.  What sent shivers of fear up my spine about the latest version is the organization making the remake:  the BBC.  That can’t be a good thing can it?

Most of the article about the upcoming show makes it sound as if people with normal minds have been in charge of the production.  Instead of presenting Anne as a saint, which she was not, the show is going to present a high-spirited, “stroppy” teenager — which is very much the personality that comes through the pages, especially if you read the unexpurgated version of Anne’s diary.  Anne was a real girl, and her sufferings, both in the sensory deprivation of the attic and in the horrors of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen, happened to a real human being, not a plaster teen saint.

Given the generally positive tone about the production, why am I still worried?  I’m worried because a novelist named Deborah Moggach wrote the current adaption, and her comments show a morally equivalent world view that is frightening in its ignorance and implications:

Moggach believes the time is ripe for a new TV adaptation of the diary. “It’s now more timely than ever, not just because of rising anti-Semitism in eastern Europe, but because of growing prejudice throughout the world. [As it happens, there's surprisingly little antisemitism in Eastern Europe given its past. The real rise of antisemitism is in England, Europe and the Middle East, but perhaps Moggach's fails to mention the latter is explained by her next comment.] Anne could be a young girl in Gaza or Iraq today.  [Did you get that?  Gazan girls are raised to believe that Jews should be wiped off the face of the earth.  They live in a culture that encourages the rape and murder of Jewish women.  Gazans elected a government that has devoted itself to killing Jews.  After the Gazan government spent a year sponsoring thousands of missile attacks on Jews, Israel finally responded with carefully targeted attacks aimed at munitions locations and at spots in which militants can be found.  To the extent a Gazan girl was threatened, it was because her own government saw fit to place its munitions and fighters in her residential neighborhood precisely in order to ensure that the Gazan girl would be injured or killed for propaganda value.  For Moggach to compare a Gazan girl to Anne Frank and her situation is an insult and idiocy beyond belief.] Of course, she’d be writing it as a blog now.”

After reading that stupidity, it is somehow unsurprising to learn that Moggach at one time lived in Pakistan.  I suspect that, between England and Pakistan, her values system has been so perverted that she can no longer distinguish between good and evil.  Moggach seems to live in a morally equivalent world that sees only bombs and victims.  She lacks the ability to understand that sometimes good guys fire bombs and that sometimes bad guys are victims — and vice versa — and that you cannot equate people merely because each has had blood spilled.

Reading Moggach’s self-written bio, she sounds like a charming woman, and one who tries to be open-minded.  I just suspect that she’s so open-minded her brains might have fallen out.

Predictions for 2009

Given that I never would have predicted the biggest event of 2008 (namely, the media successfully anointing a socialist neophyte as our new president), the merits of my predictions are probably pretty small.  Nevertheless, I can’t resist the chance to get in my two cents (which is about all my predictions are worth).  Feel free to add your own:

1.  In 2007, the subprime markets collapsed.  In 2008, the money markets collapsed (hitting the really rich people who have the bulk of their wealth tied into the stock market).  In 2009, we’ll discover how important the really rich people are to our economy when, in the absence of their investment and tax dollars, the job market contracts dramatically.  2009 is going to be the year that sees ordinary people taking severe economic hits through widespread job losses.

2.  Israel will bomb Iran’s nuclear reactors — and may try to do so in the first two weeks of January, before Obama becomes president.  This initiative will, of course, be quite a challenge, because Israel is already fighting Hamas, but Israel will either (a) have a two front war against a single enemy (always Iran) or (b) abruptly abandon Gaza and focus all its energies on Iran.  In many ways, the fact that so many Arab nations are overtly or covertly supporting the initiative against Hamas is a good trial run for the support Israel can expect if it goes after Iran.

3.  Biden’s pre-election prediction will come true and — God forbid!  Truly, God forbid! — there will be a major terrorist attack against America, “testing” Barack Obama.  If this prediction comes true, I hope Obama passes the test.

4.  Congress’ approval rating will drop into the low single digits.  Sadly, Republicans will be a part of this sorry spectacle and will not obtain any bounce enabling them to take over in 2010.

5.  Traditional neo-Nazi groups will gain significant strength in Europe as the “men and women on the street” in Europe, frightened by the strength their liberal governments have given to Islamist groups, take refuge in organizations that they perceive as a strong bulwark against the the Islamification of Europe.  They’ll try to tell themselves that, once they’ve taken their cities back from the Islamists, they’ll then ratchet down the age old racially inflammatory rhetoric that powered the neo-Nazis to the forefront, but by then it will be too late.  They’ll merely have traded a frying pan for a fire.

6.  Obama, immediately upon entering office, will socialize a large part of the American economy.  He won’t raise taxes immediately, but he will use current tax revenue to have the government “rescue” (i.e., purchase) large segments of the economy.  He will do so despite the fact that the 20th Century repeatedly and graphically demonstrated that putting the government in control of an economy destroys it.

7.  Obama, aided by a complicit Congress, and an exhausted and frightened American population, will socialize medicine.  We will all then get the benefit of equally bad medical care.  As for me, I prefer a world where people can at least live in hope of qualifying for good medical care.

8.  England will see increasingly violent clashes between Catholics and Muslims, which, because of immigration from Central Europe and Pakistan and because of high birth rates, are the two largest growth groups in England.  The Pakistanis, who have been gearing up for this fight longer and are less bound by European cultural norms, will win this one over the long run.  (As I’ve noted, the rest of Europe will cluster behind neo-Nazis, but I think England has moved beyond that option.)

9.  Obama will not manage to walk on water, deeply disappointing his acolytes.

10.  Speaking of Obama’s acolytes, the Times will either file for bankruptcy or will be forced to become a public, rather than a family-held, corporation.

11.  Even as the public figures out that “global warming” is a scam, Obama will have so many true believers in high government positions, it will be too late to stop them from engaging in a variety of acts that will harm both America’s economy and her security.

12.  And my last prediction, which I’m absolutely certain will come true:  A Hollywood star will be in a car crash that involves substance abuse.

Your predictions?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News


Can anyone tell me when this stupid notion of a time table for war became de rigeur?  Is it a product of the angry Left’s desperation to abandon Iraq or did it exist before?  My questions are triggered by a headline from Reuters today that shows all the stupidity of both Leftist thinking about war and modern media writing: “Bush, Olmert have no timetable for Gaza crisis end.”

The last point first:  “Crisis.”  In the media world today, everything is a crisis.  The roiling troubles in the world financial markets are a financial crisis.  The earth’s changing climate (something that’s been going on for the earth’s 3 billion year history) was, first, a global cooling crisis, then a global warming crisis, and it’s now a climate change crisis.  This week, there’s a crisis in Gaza.  What the heck does the word crisis mean anymore?  And for whom is Gaza a crisis?  Gazans?  Israelis?  Americans?  It’s a such a careless, overused, misused word that its appearance, rather than adding meaning to a story, saps meaning, and simply adds an element of mindless fear.

And now for the first point, which was my real point:  that timetable.  In what wars have there been timetables?  I can imagine situations in which victory was urged before money ran out.  Certainly funding was a chronic problem for the Continental Congress trying to keep Washington’s troops paid and supplied.  That timetable was “God willing we win before we’re broke” — and it was solved by aid from France.  (So, although France bashing is often fun and easy, it’s always worth remembering that the French nation, out of spite for England, saved the American revolution.  And in that way wars are won and lost.)

Can you just imagine in past wars the kind of scenarios the Leftist media and its fellow travelers now envision and urge?  Silly news stories such as these would emerge from the past:

Dateline March 15, 1863:  President Lincoln announced today that the War Between the States will end on April 1, 1863.  “We’ve given this war a good try,” he announced to the press, “but it’s time to discuss alternative strategies.  On April 1, therefore, we will withdraw all federal troops and discuss reinstating slavery subject to certain strict timetables and controls.  I have spoken with President Davies, and he assures me that slaves will henceforth be paid a living wage and allowed to choose their own places of employment.”

[And, in this alternate universe, I can guarantee you a story in the same newspaper, from a year or two later, reporting with surprise that blacks in the South were being treated with a ferocity unparalleled in human history, while vigilante Confederate troops were patrolling the borders between North and South, killing anyone who appeared to be a threat to the South's efforts to control the slave population.]

Or how about this:

Dateline July 15, 1944:  President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill held a joint press conference today to announce that they will start withdrawing troops from the continent, effective August 1, 1944.  The two nations’ leaders explained that, while the Normandy invasion had indeed established a foothold on the Continent, continued German resistance coupled with increased Allied causalities, had convinced them that it would be expedient to pursue alternate strategies.

“We’ve sufficiently weakened the German infrastructure to believe that a phased withdrawal will still enable us to prevent the Nazis from making further incursions back onto the Normandy outposts,” said a spokesman close to Roosevelt who declined to be named.  “The Nazis have assured us that, with a cessation of hostilities from Allied troops, they will revoke some of the restrictions they have been placing on local populations.  We are still awaiting word on their Jewish policy, but feel assured that a return to the negotiating table will resolve that issue.”

Wars don’t have time tables.  You fight to win.  If you perceive that victory is impossible, you fight to the best possible outcome.  If there is no best possible outcome, you run away in the hopes of fighting another day.  The one thing, however, that you do not ever do, in the midst of a war, especially a war that is running in your favor, is announce to the enemy that, on a specific date, you’re taking your marbles and going home, on the assumption that your enemy will henceforth behave itself well.  The time table position, more than anything else, announces a failure of intelligence and sound thinking in the Left that, with nothing more, should make one suspicious of any ideas Leftists advance.

Hamas’ “Heroes” — and the need for total victory over evil

I have an embarrassing confession to make:  When I was young, one of my favorite shows was Hogan’s Heroes.  I found it a weekly marvel to see the dashing, clever Colonel Hogan run rings around the Germans.  Nor was I at all perturbed by the asymmetry of it all, with the Germans portrayed as bumbling nincompoops, as compared to the ridiculously accomplished POWs.  To me, it seemed eminently logical that the good guys would be smart and competent, while the bad guys would be yahoos — evil, but still yahoos.

As I child, good and competent versus evil and incompetent seemed like a fair fight. And I still think that way.

I mention this all because of the usual cries of outrage about the asymmetry in Israel’s attack on Gaza.  The thinking on the Left (and you can see it in a thousand op-ed and news stories from America and the rest of the world) is that Israel, because she is vastly more efficient and effective when it comes to warfare, should not fight back.  “It’s not fair!” is the cry that is raised when Israel, having suffered through thousands of rocket attacks, finally says “Enough” and goes in with surgical precision to remove the rocket launchers and the men who fire them.  The usual suspects, even those who concede that Hamas is an exceptionally malevolent organization, just can’t stomach the sight of bad men — men whose entire life purpose is the slaughter of innocents — themselves getting killed.

I see things entirely differently.  In the case of Hamas, evil is measured by intent and acts.  Members of Hamas have as their stated goal the desire to kill as many Israelis (especially vulnerable civilians) as possible.  Their acts are entirely consistent with those goals.  For months now, they have fired as many missiles as they possibly could into Israel.  The know that what they lack in ability will eventually be made up for by sheer volume and dumb luck.  (As an aside, keep in mind that a large part of the Soviet strategy against the Germans was to force the Germans to use up time and munitions against the millions of bodies, so many tragically unarmed and untrained, that the Soviets kept throwing in their path.)  The evil that is Hamas is made even more manifest by the fact that, to offset their incompetency, the Hamas soldiers hide amongst the women and children.  If you can’t be efficient, be diligent and surround yourself by soft camouflage, right?

Because Hamas is devoted to evil acts, it should not be rewarded for its ineptitude.  It is entirely appropriate that it be defeated.  It’s ludicrous, therefore, for the world to argue that the only appropriate way to defeat Hamas is to approach it with an equal degree of primitive weaponry and inefficient tactics.  That way lies madness.

Sadly, though, Israel itself buys into this madness.  A moral country, she is horrified by the depravity into which Hamas (or Hezbollah) pulls her and, every time, when she is on the cusp of a determinative outcome, she pulls back to save the innocents.  One has to ask, though, how many innocents (by which I mean children, who have no control over the situation in which they find themselves) are ultimately saved if Israel repeatedly leaves enough of Hamas standing so that it can regroup and continue its self-imposed apocalyptic battle?  Sometimes, total conquest is the most merciful end to a battle.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m reading Rabbi Joseph Teluskin’s Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible.  He recounts God’s mandate when the Jews left the desert and entered Canaan:  kill all the Canaanites.  To modern sensibilities, this is a horrific directive, and one with which modern Jews and Christians have struggled mightily.  Yes, it was the normative approach to conquest three thousand years ago and, yes, God mandated it, but those two explanations don’t assauge our distress at the death of the innocents.  I do think, though, that there is a certain pure logic in it, a logic that arises once one decides, for whatever reason, to conquer a land.

Keep in mind that we’re not talking border or territory skirmishes when I say this.  Instead, we’re talking about conquest.  The Jews conquered Canaan because it was their God promised land.  The Allies conquered Germany and Japan because those two nations, having started the war, made it apparent that only complete conquest would end it.  And Israel, clinging to her 300 x 150 mile patch of land, considers herself already the conqueror having won the land through purchase, League of Nations Directives, UN mandates, and the spoils of previous defensive wars.

The fact is, you cannot be said to have conquered a land — you cannot remake it in your own image — if there remains a critical mass of hostile indigenous people.  The Bible shows that, despite God’s mandate, the Jews did not kill all the Baal worshipping Canaanites, and these people proved to be a practical, military and moral thorn in Israel’s flesh for centuries to come.  Conversely, the Allies did defeat a critical mass of the indigenous people in Germany and Japan and were able to rebuild both countries as strong Democratic entitities.  And modern Israel, repeating the errors or her Biblical forbearers, has “conquered” a land without ever having taken it over.  Her morals are exemplary; her tactics, less so.

My thinking is now, as it was when I watched Hogan’s heroes:  that evil is incompetent is a blessing and should not be treated as a curse.  It also doesn’t give evil a pass.  If you have visited your moral compass, if you truly believe that the opposing party is not merely misguided but genuinely evil and determined on your destruction, and if you decide that the only way to deal with that opposing party is warfare — YOU MUST WIN THAT WAR.  There is no middle ground of compromise.  There is only victory.  As the Allies showed after WWII, victory can be incredibly magnanimous, must you must have victory before you have magnanimity.  Do it backwards, and your ass is cooked.

Friends who test our patience *UPDATED*

At Charles Martel’s request, here is an open thread at which you can recount your more humorous, frustrating, bizarre, etc., experiences with the liberals around you.

UPDATE:  Per Lulu’s suggestion, if you are a neocon, please feel free to add what ideas changed your thinking.  Perhaps those same ideas, if fed gently to our friends, will change theirs.

As for me, I realize more and more that I haven’t changed very much.  The big thing for me was to realize that, while my values had remained stable, the Democratic party had abandoned me.  Although, I’ve never been a JFK fan, I am a JFK Democrat — and, as Noemie Emery points out in this article about Princess Caroline, the Kennedies ain’t what they used to be (and neither is the modern Democratic party).

And now for something completely different about which to worry

Yellowstone, one of the most beautiful, impressive, magnificent places on earth, is also one of the most dangerous.  Although it looks superficially like a valley, it is, in fact, a 65 mile wide extremely active volcanic caldera.  If it blows, we all blow, every man-jack of us.  So it’s worth noting, as Drudge does, when earthquakes start shaking the region.  I’m sure it’s nothing, but there is something almost comforting (in a weird way) about knowing that there’s something out there over which we don’t have even the semblance of control.  It’s freeing, if you know what I mean….

A Holocaust story that’s true

You’ve no doubt read about the false Holocaust love story that’s caused Oprah such anguish.  I have a real story for you.  I knew the players and can speak to their veracity.

Harry’s parents were able to get him out of Germany during the late 1930s.  By that time, he’d already suffered mild brain damage from being beaten by a gang of Hitler youths, but while it impaired his speech, it affected neither his intelligence nor his moral sense.  Harry spent the early war years in England and then joined the British military, spending the later war years fighting the Nazis.

At the end of the war, Harry returned to Germany to find his parents.  He learned that, shortly after the war started, they’d been snatched from their home and taken first to Dachau, where they survived long beyond what anyone would have expected from two middle-aged, middle-class Jews, and then to Auschwitz, where they died in the gas chambers.

Their survival in Dachau was because of their shop girl.  When they were arrested, Lotte, a German girl who loved them dearly, moved to the town nearest Dachau and found work there.  Every day, she gathered together food and, at extraordinary risk to herself, smuggled it to Harry’s parents.

When Harry learned what Lotte did for his parents, he vowed to care for her.  Since he was young, healthy and a skilled mechanic, there was every reason to believe he could fulfill this vow.

Harry finally located Lotte living in some distress in the chaos that was post-war Germany.  Although she was a good decade older than he was, and he remembered her only vaguely from his childhood, he married her immediately and cared for her to the end of her days.

When I met them, they were in their 50s, and presented at first as a rather typical, ponderous German couple.  There was nothing to distinguish them from any other older Germans you might meet touring America.  The only truly noticeable things about them were (a) how much older she was and (b) how solicitous he was.  It was only later, when I Iearned their true story, that I realized I’d been in the presence of moral greatness, his and hers both.

A trend I hate

The Times writes about a trend with which I’ve long been familiar:  student participation in parent-teacher conferences.  The article leads with a school district that has benefitted from this trend, since more people show up for the conference than have in the past.  The article also points to parents who like it that their child was in the room when the teacher said something, so that same bit of information didn’t have to be repeated through the parent intermediary.

As for me, I hate the trend.  Having my children in the room means that it is impossible to have an open exchange of ideas and information with the teacher.  My kids march through the same “strength-weakness” algorithms they’ve been writing since first grade, without those “self-analyses” having any effect whatsoever on their future performance.  To me, these conferences have become a complete waste of time.

Have you experienced this type of conference?  Or would you like to?  What’s your opinion?

The Pieta

You all know the Pieta, Michelangelo’s exquisite rendition of a devastated Mary holding Jesus’ body in her arms:

With that in mind, tell me what you think of this picture out of Gaza from the always even-handed New York Times?  (And for those of you who don’t know me, I’m being sarcastic about the Times.)

The rest of the pictures in that little photo essay are equally sympathetic to the Palestinians — that would be the same Palestinians who have rained thousands of bombs on Israel, regularly targeted (often successfully) Israel’s civilian population, and have vowed to slaughter every Jew in the land.  This picture, however, struck me with particular force because of the way it echoes the Pieta.  I will remind you that, if the Palestinians stopped fighting, the war would end; if the Israelis stop fighting, each and every one of them would be dead (and Jews know what that looks like).

The attack on Gaza

Israel finally said “enough is enough” and counterattacked Gaza.  I think John Podhoretz nails everything that needs to be said on the subject in the short-term, and I’m impressed enough with his depth and brevity to reproduce his entire paragraph right here:

Israel launched a massive air campaign against the infrastructure of Hamas terror in Gaza — which is what it actually means when you read in the media that Israel’s strike was on “Palestinian security forces.” It will be a day or two until it becomes clear what happened and how successful the mission was. But there are three things to say about it immediately. First, when you hear people call on Israel to show “restraint,” remember that “restraint” is precisely what Israel has been showing for the past three and a half years as Hamas has launched thousands of Kassam rockets at Sderot and other locations inside Israel. Second, this was not an attack but a counter-attack, almost purely an act of self-defense that featured extensive warnings in the days before it was launched in an effort to minimize civilian casualties. Third, the Hamas terror bases were evidently located in civilian neighborhoods. According to international law, the responsibility for any civilian casualties in such a situation rests entirely with those who a) failed to wear uniforms and b) interwove themselves with non-combatants. The fault is Hamas’s, not Israel’s.

Call me Ishmael

I’ve been reading two things that seem to twine together.  The first is the ongoing news out of Gaza, about Hamas continuously firing missiles into Israel (as well as into their own population).  Noah Pollak wrote a very good commentary in response to a question about why Hamas, through its outpost in Gaza, keeps fighting and fighting and fighting.  The answer, of course, is that Hamas fights because that is its nature.  Fighting is its raison d’etre.  Without fighting, there is nothing.

The second thing I’ve been reading, which at first glance seems unrelated, is Rabbi Joseph Teluskin’s Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible — a very informative and enjoyable retelling of the Old Testament, along with Rabbinical commentary.

The story of Abraham and Sarah, of course, brings up the history of Hagar and Ishmael. Telushkin reminds us of two things about Ishmael. First, he repeats the prophecy that God’s angel made about Ishmael:  “He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” (Genesis, 16:12.) The second is the fact that the Muslim Arabs claim descent from this same Ishmael.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

[Link fixed. Thanks, Gringo.]

The problem when dreams come true

As the Watcher points out, both of this week’s winners (and, incidentally, I voted for both) examine what happens when an ideology gets elevated to the realm of the pragmatic.  The Razor examines the “peace” movement, which was powerful enough to result in the deaths of millions; while John Stossel’s article looks at Obama’s promised (and scary) changes to the US economy.  As always, I heartily recommend each of the articles, not just the winners:

Winning Council Submissions

Winning Non-Council Submissions

T* – Denotes Tie

Weasel reading for the season

Whatever else I do tomorrow, I’ll spend a little time reading these wonderful submissions for the Watcher’s Council:

Council Submissions

Non-Council Submissions

Oh, to be in government

When I outspend my budget,* I have to make drastic cuts in my expenditures.  Sadly, I cannot march into my boss and announce that he must immediately give me a huge raise to cover the shortfall.  Fortunately for those in government, because they have the rare ability to boss around those who pay them, they can cover their shortfall, not by cutting waste (the government unions would never allow that), but by demanding a huge raise to cover the shortfall.  Hold on to your wallets, if you can, because 2009 is going to be a very costly year.


*Just kidding.  Because I’m (a) frugal (some would say cheap) and (b) lucky enough that both Mr. Bookworm and I have stable incomes, I never outspend my budget.

Is it hard to be this stupid? *UPDATED*

A local Marin woman hitched a ride with a peace group to stay with some Palestinians, and came back filled with useful information.  Anna Rogers found “shocking . . . how much Arab land has been taken over and how crazily restrictive it is for the Palestinians.”  That’s an interesting thing to say, of course, since in the last few years, Israel has been giving land back to the Palestinians.  So considering that this is apparently her first trip to the Middle East, when she refers to being shocked at “how much Arab land has been taken over” she must mean “since the creation of Israel.” Or, in other words — Israelis should just get the Hell out of there.

As for the crazy restrictions, Rogers also thought it was so, so unfair that these poor Palestinians couldn’t move around freely.  The article in which she is interviewed helpfully advises that there’s some kind rumor about these same Palestinians killing Israelis:  “The Israeli government has said it established checkpoints to protect settlements from suicide bombers and other attackers.”  (In a sane journalistic world, rather than attributing this statement to the Israeli government, as if it’s factually suspect, the reporter might actually have pointed out that it is in fact true that a huge number of Palestinians, trained from the cradle, are determined to kill Israeli civilians.)

Ms. Rogers is having none of this stupid Israeli government propaganda.  She’s seen what’s going on in Israel with her own eyes, and assures us that it’s nothing to worry about:

Rogers said she visited a kibbutz near where rockets from Gaza are landing. She said the rockets are crude and usually miss their targets.

“They’re an annoyance,” Rogers said. “I think a lot of people were annoyed with Israel’s government for not making some kind of peace agreement with Gaza even though Hamas is there.”

Although I’m not thrilled about the reporter’s passive approach to the reason behind the Israeli checkpoints (see my comments, above), he gets full kudos for providing an opposing point of view.  Thus, at the end of the article, a spokesman for a local Jewish group provides an intelligent counterpoint to Ms. Rogers’ insane blatherings:

But Michael Harris of San Rafael, one of the leaders of San Francisco Voice for Israel, a local advocacy group, said the situation constitutes more than “an annoyance.”

“I don’t think the residents of Larkspur would consider it a nuisance if 20 rockets a day were launched from Corte Madera into Larkspur. [The two communities are side by side.]  Bad aim does not excuse that these rockets are designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to murder civilians.”

Harris noted that “Gaza is ruled by Hamas, which took over in a coup and has stated on multiple occasions that it has no interest whatsoever in peace with Israel. Its entire existence is predicated on the destruction of Israel.”

I find it impossible to come up with any excuse for Ms. Rogers’ attitude, which is that Israelis should just stand aside and let themselves be killed so that those nice Palestinians can . . . well, kill some more.  What’s even more insane about her view is that, while in Gaza, she stayed with a Christian family, and yet somehow managed to remain entirely unaware of the horrors Muslim Gazans visit on their Christian compatriots.  This is a lady whose head is firmly fixed in an ideological bubble, and she’s doing her best to spread her ignorance.

UPDATE:  A few more of those “nuisances” rained down on Israel last night:

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip bombarded southern Israel with dozens of mortars and rockets on Wednesday, sowing panic and despair there and burdening diplomatic efforts to revive an expired truce.

Ironically, while no Israelis were injured, those poor “militants” suffered some Ayers-ian accidents:

No Israelis were injured in the barrages. The attacks took a steeper toll in Gaza as explosives apparently misfired, wounding three civilians and killing two militants. One of the injured civilians works for a conflict resolution center.

Who needs a yellow star when you’ve got the New York Times?

Phyllis Chesler latches onto something icky even by the New York Times’ increasingly sinking standards:  its obsession with Bernard Madoff’s Jewishness:

For days now,  I have been following the media coverage of the Madoff scandal. I could not help but note that the New York Times kept emphasizing that he is Jewish and moved in monied, Jewish circles; not once, but time and again, in the same article, and in article after article. ‘Tis true,  alas, ’tis true, the rogue is a Jew: But how exactly is Madoff’s religion more relevant than Rod Blagojevich’s religion?  The Times has not described Blagojevich  (or Kenneth Lay of Enron) as “Christians,” nor do they describe the Arab or south Asian Muslim terrorists as “Muslims.”

As I’ve  previously noted, the Times goes out of its way to describe terrorists who are ethnic Arab Muslims and south Asian Muslims as “gunmen,” “attackers,” “fighters,” (never as terrorists), and they rarely use the word “Arab” or “Muslim”  to characterize the perpetrators of a deadly rogue action.  However, the paper of record will use the word “Muslim”  to describe an aggrieved victim who has alleged “Islamophobia” or “racism.”

Read the rest here, in which Chesler develops on the paper’s bizarre obsession, one mirrored only by its equally bizarre obsession to hide from the public the religious affiliation of any Muslim actor caught doing bad things.

My twenty favorite actresses

I got tagged at Seraphic Secret with a meme:  name my 20 favorite actresses.  Before I begin, a couple of things.  First, in the post tagging me, Robert has a good summary about what makes an actress worthy of the list:

If yours truly will sit down and screen a film—any film, even a lousy movie—just to watch a particular actress weave her magical spell, well, she definitely qualifies as a favorite actress.

Mind you, we’re not talking best actresses. Hence Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Myrna Loy, Ida Lupino, Norma Shearer and other towering figures do not make my list.

Some of the actresses on my list are great actresses. Others are deeply limited but possess that magical star quality that makes it impossible for Seraphic Secret not to watch.

Second, you should check out Robert’s list, which not only leans heavily to silent screen actresses, but also has photographs of those ageless, luminous beauties.

Because I am once again playing beat the clock with deadlines (including a waxing and waning desire to go to martial arts tonight), I’m going to be stingy and not include photographs.  I’ll just do the laundry list.  I’d love it if you all would weigh in with your comments and suggestions.

So, in no particular order, but just as they come to mind, here they are, my 20 favorite actresses:

1.  Vivien Leigh, who was transcendentally good in Gone With the Wind, and who is so beautiful and intelligent in every role she plays.

2.  Myrna Loy, who can do more with a kittenish twitch of her face than most actresses can do with a whole repertoire of words and movements.

3.  Kirsten Dunst, who has a fresh intelligence I consistently enjoy watching.  I just saw her in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, a movie I was prepared to dislike and that, instead, I found myself enjoying a great deal.  Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, it was accurate historically, and that despite the slightly pop edge Coppola gave it.  Surprisingly, Coppola remained true to the core historical facts, and part of this was due to Dunst’s performance.

4.  Elizabeth Montgomery, who took the role of Samantha in Bewitched and made it a lasting testament to charm.  If you have listened to as many hours of the show as I have (in the car), you realize how gifted she really was.

5.  Ginger Rogers, who had an earthy vivacity and physical grace that often got lost next to Fred Astaire — but it was there, and it was wonderful.

6.  Cyd Charisse, surely one of the most beautiful women and dancers ever to grace the screen.

7.  Lucille Ball, comedienne extraordinaire.

8.  Carole Lombard, one of the great madcap actresses of the 1930s, who managed to combine silliness, grace and intelligence in every performance.

9.  Annette Benning, whose politics I hate, but who has a marvelous screen presence, so that I enjoy her every performance.

10.  Judy Garland, who was sometimes a little too high-strung, but who was mesmerizing, and whose talent never wavered.

11.  Doris Day, always fresh, always tuneful, always lovely.

[It's getting harder about now to think of actresses I like.  Fatigue?  Or am I running out of choices?]

12.  Jane Powell, a singer and actress I think has been seriously underrated.  For one thing, she had one of the most gorgeous voices in 1950s musicals.  For another thing, she easily held her own opposite such powerhouses as Fred Astaire and Howard Keel.

13.  Esther Williams.  How can you not like her?  She’s gorgeous, acts fairly well, and swims like a mermaid.  I always enjoy her films.

14.  Mary Tyler Moore during her Dick Van Dyke days.  I wasn’t a huge fan when she had her own show, but I think she was just brilliant as Laura Petrie.  “Oh, Rob!”

15.  Katherine Hepburn.  Yes, she overacted dreadfully and eventually became a caricature of herself, but she still had a blazingly powerful screen presence that never seems to get old.

16.  Agnes Moorehead.  Since I gave the nod to Elizabeth Montgomery, how can I ignore Moorehead, who brought a delicious, malicious sparkle to what was otherwise a very silly (but still enjoyable) show?

17.  Vivian Vance, without whom Lucille Ball would have been less than half as funny.  She was both a straight woman and a comedienne, and deserves many more kudos than she ever got.

18.  Carol Burnett, another brilliant comedienne, who managed to burn up the small screen and, on occasion, the big one too.

19.  To be announced.

20.  Ditto.

Hollywood and an open thread

I’m buried up to my whatsis in work this morning, so can’t blog.  Before I turn this post into an open-thread, though, I wanted to suggest that you read William Katz’s article, which looks at the way in which the movies that showcased the wonderful Van Johnson (who died the other day at age 92) could never have been made today.

(By the way, you can read more of Mr. Katz’s writing at his own blog, Urgent Agenda.)

And now enjoy your open thread.  We’ll talk later….