We were going to watch our favorite Bowling for Dollars episode (who could resist Stan and Doris Kowalski, from Newark, NJ?) when got sidetracked rereading Gagdad Bob’s response to our first On the Couch query.

Gagdad and Petey note that

I was once an atheist, but not the obligatory kind. Rather, I was open to the evidence and soon realized that, in order to discover God, one must respect the time-tested means for doing so. In other words, many people believe that you need to first believe in God in order to be religious. However, it’s generally the other way around. In order to know God, you must be religious. Religions–real religions–are ways to make God present in your life.

This is a powerful observation, to be sure. That said, the inevitable question must be asked- why would one accept religious strictures if he didn’t believe in a deity? Isaac Bashevis Singer noted that “Man cannot live without self-control.” This too, is a profound observation. There is the life of experience and the life of events. Experiences build upon each other, whereas events are finite in nature, with defined start and end times.

Gagdad Bob offers up insight from an external stimulus (event) that can translate itself into an experience.

…it’s just amazing how many mysteries of the cosmos are unlocked by the existence of music. I have always been a great music lover, and now I see that, even in my atheistic days, it was one of the things that kept me connected to Spirit, for music is a spiritual transmission, pure and simple. Great music casts a luster of noetic light from one world into this one, somehow riding piggyback on vibrations of air. No one knows how or why this should be so in a species that was simply selected by evolution to hunt for food and sexual partners. Why on earth should vibrating air molecules be beautiful, even to the point of moving one to tears or to ecstasy?

To be sure, there are no free rides. If music is to be fully understood and experienced, we cannot be satisfied in assuming a passive posture, waiting for music to happen.

But the point, of course, is not to study the score but to hear the music. The score is pointless unless it achieves the purpose of making music present. It must be read, performed, and understood experientially, not theoretically. Where was music before humans made it present? Roughly speaking, it was in the same place God is before you make him present. I don’t mean to sound flip, but this is why it is so easy to find God, because the finding is in the seeking.

There is a reason so much of great music is so much a part of faith. The Jewish Psalmist that wrote with fluid beauty, also wrote for ‘the chief musician,’ for ‘flutes’ or ‘stringed instruments.’ Some of the most beautiful poetry in the history of mankind, magnificent words, were written to be accompanied with music.

Music was commissioned by the church and believers to celebrate God and faith.
Those who seek God, will probably find Him. Those who aren’t sure if they want to seek God, may never hear all the music.

Would you search for God, in order to hear the music?

Lay Off Mel Gibson

July 31, 2006

It should come as no surprise that Dan, of Riehl World View, has it right with regard to the Mad Mel Gibson. In I Wouldn’t Label Mel Gibson Anti Semitic, Dan notes of Mad Max that

The man was raised by a Holocaust denying and, presumably, anti-Semitic Father. That’s extreme, but none of us were raised by saints. He also recently experienced a great deal of criticism from the Jewish community because of the previously mentioned film.

I’m not suggesting the man isn’t conflicted, or wasn’t given a rather vigorous seeding of anti-semitism as a child and even a young man. But we all have our demons. I grew up in a neighborhood where blacks were niggers and Jews were … Jews, spoken in a rather disparaging way.

See Dan’s take for some Riehl common sense.

The Official Happy Map

July 31, 2006

Someone has finally done it- there is now an official ‘Happy Map,’ a demographic/ cartographic document that notes the happiest places on earth. The elusive search for happiness end of the rainbow is coming to an end.

The study was done by some brilliant minds at the University of Leicester.

Happiness is found to be most closely associated with health, followed by wealth and then education.

A University of Leicester psychologist has produced the first ever ‘world map of happiness.’

“The concept of happiness, or satisfaction with life, is currently a major area of research in economics and psychology, most closely associated with new developments in positive psychology. It has also become a feature in the current political discourse in the UK.

“There is increasing political interest in using measures of happiness as a national indicator in conjunction with measures of wealth. A recent BBC survey found that 81% of the population think the Government should focus on making us happier rather than wealthier [emp- SC&A]

“There is a belief that capitalism leads to unhappy people. However, when people are asked if they are happy with their lives, people in countries with good healthcare, a higher GDP per captia, and access to education were much more likely to report being happy.

Denmark ranks at the top of the list. Yup, the country where Theo van Gogh was shot to death and the cartoon riots began is the happiest place on earth.

In second place was Switzerland. Let’s hear it for chocolate and cuckoo clocks.

Third spit went to Austria- and why not? Leiderhosen, waltzing and alpenhorns- how can you top that for joy?

Here are some more results:

1. Denmark
2. Switzerland
3. Austria
4. Iceland
5. The Bahamas
6. Finland
7. Sweden
8. Bhutan
9. Brunei
10. Canada
11. Ireland
12. Luxembourg
13. Costa Rica
14. Malta
15. The Netherlands
16. Antigua and Barbuda
17. Malaysia
18. New Zealand
19. Norway
20. The Seychelles

Other notable results include:

23. USA
35. Germany
41. UK
62. France
82. China
90. Japan
125. India
167. RussiaThe three least happy countries were:

176. Democratic Republic of the Congo
177. Zimbabwe
178. Burundi

Check out the differences between the Arab world and Israel.
See the interactive Happy Map and rejoice.

Fausta has a couple of very good posts today.

Rockets In The Garden And France Two is the one stop post corralling the Qana story. The post is short on obfuscation and long on reality.

Hizbollah And Latin America:History, is an eye opener. In an time when information overload is more common than not, it is important to ‘keep your eye on the ball.’  Like it or not, Hizbollah is just over our backyard fence- and they aren’t here as part of the Lebanese/Iranian dance instructor core.

Dr Sanity has another keeper up today. Denial And Displacement is signature Sanity. Her post is clear, concise and to the point.

At its most primitive, anti-semitism is a form of psychological projection (just as all racism is). We see this infantile defense used repeatedly in the Arab/Islamic world. They seem unable to appreciate the irony of their labelling of Islam as a “religion of peace”, for example, and dismiss the barbarism done in the name of Islam as misunderstandings or the actions of only a few. In other words, they dismiss their own aggression in toto; asserting that it is the Jews who are always the aggressors; that it is the Jews who are out to destroy them; and that they are the poor, helpless victims of the Jews. By distancing themselves from their own aggression and projecting it onto Israel and the Jews; they have retained their honor as the peace-loving people they claim to be.

It is essential to the success of the defense that they portray themselves as the victims and be seen as the victims in the eyes of the world. Even when their own behavior is responsible for the deaths of innocents, it is rationalized away and ultimately also blamed on the Jews.

Displacement, too, is also an effective method for psychologically avoiding reality. It is a step above projection and is considered simply neurotic. While projection can often appear to be completely uncoupled from reality, displacement has the advantage of allowing someone filled with unpleasant emotions to have an acceptable object onto which to express those emotions. Note that in projection, the individual completely denies that he or she even possesses or is capable of possessing those unacceptable emotions–it is the “other” who possesses them, and wants to inflict them on you.

Go back and read that again, slowly.

In a nutshell, Dr Sanity serves up definitive psychological insight on a silver platter.

Shrinkwrapped takes the scenic route to make a nuanced point: that we must choose to look ahead or fall backwards. He notes,

Monotheism, the scientific method (and its attendant industrial revolution), and the American Revolution began the process of overturning a system that has worked for billions of people for a hundred thousand years.

When Jesus came to the ancient Jews, among his messages was a time bomb which took almost 2000 years to fully explode.  The separation of church and state (“render unto Caesar…”) was a death blow to the divine right of Kings.  In fact, it was an idea that fatally undermined the notion of an hereditary aristocracy.  The American Revolution, a fundamentally Judeo-Christian revolution, enshrined the principle of man’s Rights emerging from their individual relationship with God.  While the new nation did not fully live up to its own principles, the damage to the tribal organization of society was fatal.

If we view Israel and Jews in the way through the dysfunctional eyes of the Arab world (and apparently, much of the media), we will effectively regress to that which is more tribal and primal. We will, as Shrinkwrapped wrly notes, buy into the package:

Today, it is the Jew and the American both who are the objects of envious hatred. Americans (and Australians, and some Europeans) are all Jews now.
The suicide bomber is the epitome of the tribal system gone into nihilism: If I cannot have what you have, you will not have it either. We will all be equal in death!

Finally, Neo might have what is the most disturbing post of all. Women And Children First:The Propaganda Of Compassion, At Qana And Elsewhere. She discusses the deliberate and strategic use of ‘victims’ by those with a very different set of values than out own. In that sense, her post complements the ideas expressed by both Dr Sanity and Shrinkwrapped.

The new calculus of asymterical warfare, of which Hezbollah is master, is that the sacrifice of women and children is a good strategic move; putting weaponry among its own women and children is the result of a conscious and wily decision on their part.

This is a sort of looking-glass inversion of the old rule “women and children first.” And it tends to work, because current assymterical warfare is fought less on the traditional battlefield and more on the battlefield of public opinion.

Hezbollah knows that there’s nothing like dead women and children to turn public opinion against those doing the killing. And there’s nothing like the Western news to fail to adequately provide and evaluate the all-important context for that killing.

Hezbollah could not–and would not–operate this way if it didn’t rely on both the compassion of the West and its news cycle. Without these things, Hezbollah’s actions would be suicidal. But with these things, Hezbollah’s actions are effective.

In fact, if we do not defend our own values and condemn and convey our revulsion at Hizbollah and their values, we are condemning ourselves to abandoning our values. We will be adopting the same values as those attempting to undermine our society and culture.

We will be deliberately infecting ourselves with terminal cancer.

Fortress Islam- one would think that Muslims the world over were under assault, a coordinated effort by Israel and the US.

In an ever shrinking and increasingly homogeneous world, the self imposed isolation and separation of the Islamic world from everyone else, is curious. Other ethnic and religious groups are as fiercely protective of their own heritage and religion as the Islamic community, but few, if any, have resorted to the same kind of ideologies and strategies, such as deliberate (and at times violent) confrontation, or espousing, teaching and promoting racist ideologies, in the preservation of their identity.

So, what is going on? We will look at some of those things that might be contributing factors to ‘Fortress Islam.’

Individuals, groups an communities that fear integration and assimilation, do so because they are insecure with themselves or their community. To be sure, there are groups and communities that choose to eschew assimilation into society at large, but they do so quietly, for a myriad of reasons. They do not demand attention or that the general society bend and accommodate their needs. For the most part, they ask only to be left alone so that they may pursue their beliefs. Occasionally, those beliefs may come into conflict with the beliefs of society at large (some religious sects refuse any medical care beyond the most basic treatments), but rarely if ever do those confrontations become violent. Those groups want to be left alone. They do not choose or relish adversarial confrontations. It is unlikely that cartoons depicting the Amish in a negative light would result in violence.

It is also true that insecure people need to believe they, their culture or religion are superior. Insecure people believe they are under assault from the world and in turn, need to fight back. Reality is of little consequence- if it were, the Arab world, revolutions in the Arab world would have occurred decades ago. As we have often noted, the Arab world is a smorgasbord of dysfunction, led by leaders that are little more than corrupt tin pot dictators. Notwithstanding obscene oil wealth, Arab populations do not demand better education and schools or actual functioning economies or jobs (Arab world education is just about at the bottom of the global barrel, according to the UN and Arab world economies combined are less than that of hated Israel). The Arab world demands the destruction of Jews and Israel- as if that would change Arab world realities overnight. Their superior society and culture would be recognized instantly, if it were not for the enemies they so desperately want to destroy. They believe that the oppressive tyrannies under which they live would disappear once the hated Jew and Israel were destroyed. In the mind of much of the Arab world, they are like the long suffering artists, unappreciated and misunderstood. If only they could kill the artists with which they compete and the art critics, all would would be well.

We have noted in Blind Poets, Peace and Evil that

Our eyes become irrelevant if we can only see ourselves. Allowing ourselves to retreat into our perfect fantasy, while a pleasant distraction at times, in reality, only widens the gap with truths and realities that need to be dealt with or understood. Our personalities become great as we relate to others and not as we relate to ourselves. Lakes become great because of their depth and not the length of their shoreline.

A poet does not become a poet by writing words. A poet becomes a poet by having the words he writes become meaningful to others. It is in the understanding that the meaningfulness and depth of his words are part of a compact, an agreement we have with each other, that it is what we have in common, the shared ideals and values, more than anything else, that determines our worthiness.

It is in understanding that it is our universiality and not our individuality that we can determine our highest truth. When we live in a world where only our own thoughts, ideas and needs count, we live in a prison. Our greatest joys and achievements have come as the result of sharing and in the union with others. This truth applies in every human endeavor, from love to business. If we allow the conflict between individuality and universiality to manifest itself within us, we suffer great pain- and separation from that which might allow us our greatness.

Societies and cultures are measured by what they build and not by what they destroy. They are also measured by how they compare with each other, no matter how much political correctness abhors that truth. The character of a nation can be determined by the institutions that nations enshrines. That is no less true in the Middle East.

Israel has built some of the finest educational institutions in the world. Her neighbors have some of the worst.

Israel has built a self sustaining, first world economy. The Arab world’s singular notable achievement has been in achieving almost universal hatred of Jews. Mein Kampf remains an Arab best seller and the desire to ‘finish what Hitler started,’ is more essential to the Arab world than and the study of physics.

Israelis celebrate humanitarians, scientists and artists. In the Arab world, terrorists and terror leaders are hailed as heroes. Schools are named after suicide bombers that target innocents. In Syria, the ‘Lion’ leader, Hafez al Assad is an object of veneration. The reality that 20,000 to 30,000 were slaughtered in Hama, is of little consequence, at least publicly. Assad hated Israel and Jews- that was enough. The Syrian regime was relieved of it’s obligation to her citizens.

The Arab world believes that Europe is supportive of their delusions and dysfunction. They are wrong. Europe finds the Arab cause as temporarily useful, and no more. Why? Because for the time being, anti Americanism and anti Semitism are once more, politically acceptable and au courrant, in Europe.

Europe will not trade cowboy hats for keffiyas. To believe otherwise, even for a moment, is absurd. The Arab world does not understand that they are no more than this generations ‘useful idiots’ for the fickle Europeans. The nations of Europe will be no more loyal to the Arab world than they were to each other. History tells that tale.

In rhetoric and deed, Arab world leaders have more in common with Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin than Washington, Jefferson or Winston Churchill. In following their leaders, the Arab world reveals more about itself than they might care to admit.

Asking what makes a good therapist is like asking what makes a good cook.

While it’s nice to know where that cook learned to poach eggs, it’s more important to know that the chef is capable of creating something that appeals to you. A good chef will  introduce you to new foods, preparations or combinations of foods and spices you might never have trued. A good chef, in the right environment, makes taking that risk, stepping out into the unknown, a willing adventure. Good chefs are artists in their own right.

Therapists aren’t much different (except maybe, for the higher bill and never ending supply of Kleenex).

A good therapist makes you aware of ideas, options and opportunities you might never have recognized. A good therapist responds to your unique needs needs (and not necessarily wants. You are patient, not a client, unless you live in Hollywood and therapy is secondary to Botox. Also note: Woody Allen is not the poster boy for long term therapy of any kind). A good therapist is a guide or a mentor. Notwithstanding the drivel, that you need to like your therapist, trusting your therapist is even more important.

There are plenty of good chefs and therapists. Finding really good or great chefs and therapists is another matter. Greatness has never been  about schooling, technique or decor and greatness is not determined by address, location or neighborhood.

One of the ethereal qualities that sets our favorites in the psycho-sphere apart, Dr Sanity, Shrinkwrapped and Neo, is their curiosity. They are observers to life of course, but they are not passive observers. Each of them continue to learn and evolve and none of them are entirely satisfied with themselves. It is clear they teach well because they share the enthusiasm of willing students. 

Gagdad Bob, author of One Cosmos, is a welcome addition to that superior lineup. He is funny, smart and piquant. His unique journey began yesterday, it seems- he writes with a verve and passion that is at once refreshing and poignant. He answers our questions thoughtfully and in the process,we see ideas and possibilities that may have been hidden from us. We recognize our potential with fresh eyes.

Gagdad Bob is looking for God (not necessarily religion) following the trail of breadcrumbs left by human behavior, history and thinkers- past and present. By acclamation, he has become a kind of scout leader for those of us on similar journey. We are willing to follow- like a good therapist, we trust him to lead us through the wilderness. His strengths are found in originality and his ability to reinterpret the obvious. In the playpen of great ideas, Gagdad Bob is the reason you count all the toys and pieces at the end of the day- there is no telling what ideas he may have grabbed on to, or where he might place those ideas in tomorrow’s chapter.

Gagdad Bob has been kind enough to be tied to our well worn brown leather couch. Over the next few days, we will present his responses to our ‘On the Couch’ queries. 

We will have more to say, later in the day. For now, well, let the feast begin. 

Petey and I have been bickering again, so we decided to consult a professional about it. ShrinkWrapped won’t return our calls and Dr. Sanity wants to charge us double for “multiple personality,” but Sigmund, Carl and Alfred at least consented to interview us and ask a few preliminary questions.

Q: Your book, One Cosmos Under God, has been very well received. One reviewer wrote, “Daring to venture where language cannot go, One Cosmos Under God actually begins in the ‘mind of God’ prior to creation, and culminates in the ‘mind of the saint’ who has transcended the culturally conditioned ego, awakened from the nightmare of history, and merged with the divine mind.”

Did you wish to look into the mind of God, or converse with God? Did you accomplish either?

A: First of all, I would say that the book has been well received where it has been received. But therein lies the rub, since it is very difficult to get the word out about a book when you have a relatively small publisher. They pretty much rely on the author to publicize it, which was one of the original purposes of the blog–to somehow spead the weird so it wouldn’t just die a completely anonymous death and be buried in a pauper’s grave of remainders, right alongside John Kerry’s remarkably acrobatic work of autofellatiography, “A Call to Service Myself.”

Which would be a shame, because there is a narrow segment of the population for whom my book will be just what they have been searching for, if only they could somehow stumble upon it–eccentrics, troubled loners, misfits… But I got nowhere with the sandwich board, which is when I hit on the idea of blogging.

Actually, one of the central purposes of the book and blog is to give intelligent, sophisticated, and even thoroughly ironicized postmodern folks a way to think about religion instead of dismissing it out of hand. This appreciation of traditional religion has been one of the great surprises of my life, and to a certain extent, the structure of the book reflects this. It begins with an examination of the scientific evidence, which leads to the ineluctable conclusion that there is some sort of transcendent, nonlocal intelligence undergirding the cosmos.

It’s pretty easy to prove the existence of this intelligence, at least if you are inclined to believe the evidence, although no amount of reason or evidence will sway the person who is truly hostile to religion. Militant atheists are generally obligatory atheists, meaning that they are driven by an unconscious agenda that is unknown to them. For whatever developmental reason, they are anti-theists, hung up on their absentee God, the empty space where God should be but isn’t.

I was once an atheist, but not the obligatory kind. Rather, I was open to the evidence and soon realized that, in order to discover God, one must respect the time-tested means for doing so. In other words, many people believe that you need to first believe in God in order to be religious. However, it’s generally the other way around. In order to know God, you must be religious. Religions–real religions–are ways to make God present in your life.

It’s really not that dissimilar to, say, psychoanalysis. Scholars can argue back and forth about whether or not the unconscious exists, and make plausible arguments on both sides. But the only way to really find out is to undergo some form of psychoanalytic therapy, in which you free associate in the presence of the analyst, and together you “discover” the unconscious. Psychoanalytic therapy is a way to make the unconscious present in a stable circumstance, so that it can be “observed,” so to speak. It will inevitably appear like Marley’s ghost in the transitional space between patient and therapist. But in reality, the same unconscious, just like God, is always popping up “wherever two people meet.” In this regard, the unconscious cannot not be. It’s just a matter of whether or not you’re going to pay attention to it.

It is the same with God. As a matter of fact, God also cannot not be. People generally begin at the wrong end of the teleoescape, trying to prove to themselves whether or not God exists. That’s not the problem. The problem, which some astute philosophers have realized, is whether or not, and to what extent, we exist. For example, there are still many philosophers who will argue that free will doesn’t exist, or that the mind is merely a computer, or that knowledge is not possible. If any of those statements are true, then human beings don’t actually exist except as an illusion, or perhaps only in a strange and ethereal “tenured” form that somehow collects a paycheck while doing “nothing.”

An even better analogy would be music. As a matter of fact, I employ many musical analogies in the book. As an aside, it’s just amazing how many mysteries of the cosmos are unlocked by the existence of music. I have always been a great music lover, and now I see that, even in my atheistic days, it was one of the things that kept me connected to Spirit, for music is a spiritual transmission, pure and simple. Great music casts a luster of noetic light from one world into this one, somehow riding piggyback on vibrations of air. No one knows how or why this should be so in a species that was simply selected by evolution to hunt for food and sexual partners. Why on earth should vibrating air molecules be beautiful, even to the point of moving one to tears or to ecstasy?

Imagine two deaf people arguing over whether or not music exists. Perhaps one of them even discovers a musical score and considers it proof positive that music must exist. He decides that this musical score represents the inerrant notes of the great God-musician, and founds a musical school based on the score, in order to transmit the musical teaching to others.

But the point, of course, is not to study the score but to hear the music. The score is pointless unless it achieves the purpose of making music present. It must be read, performed, and understood experientially, not theoretically. Where was music before humans made it present? Roughly speaking, it was in the same place God is before you make him present. I don’t mean to sound flip, but this is why it is so easy to find God, because the finding is in the seeking. Don’t worry. If you seek earnestly and sincerely, you will soon enough find, just as, if you pick up a guitar and learn a few chords, you will soon be able to play Smoke on the Water. You will be able to start making music present, in however a limited degree. And as you practice, you will be able to make more and more music present–music that would not have existed had you not gone to the trouble of practicing and bringing it into being.

So paradoxically, the living God cannot exist unless we give birth to him (which is why we are here–or so we have heard from the wise). Just as there are a few musicians who stand above the rest in terms of “making music present,” there are people known as saints, sages, avatars and gurus who are, for whatever reason, much more able to “make God present.” To a certain extent this is a matter of taste. This is not to say that revelation is arbitrary or relative, any more than great music is. But in my case, for example, I really cannot tap into the depth of classical music. Although I “know,” for example, that Beethoven’s late string quartets contain unfathomable, even superhuman, depth, it is inaccessible to me. In my case, the spirit comes through loud and clear in Van Morrison or in certain avant garde jazz artists such as John Coltrane, the latter of whom many listeners might categorize as “noise.”

One of the innovations of Christianity was to present the idea of God in such a way that people could wrap their minds around it. The Jewish God was so utterly transcendent as to be inaccessible to the average Joseph. Most of us need the Abbasolute to be made accessible to us in a relative form, so that we may think about what is otherwise unthinkable. Of course, Judaism accomplishes this in a different manner, through the study of Torah, which you might say is the Word made word instead of flesh.

Given the fact that well over ninety percent of people in the ancient world were illiterate, one can well understand how God might have conceived the idea of extending the courtesy of making himself available to the masses. Although inter-religious dialogue can obviously be a sensitive area, I happen to know some Jews who are able to reconconcile Judaism with Christianity by viewing it as the ideal way to have spread Jewish monotheism.

Likewise, many Christians recognize that Jesus could only have appeared in Jewish culture. He would have made no sense whatsoever to the ancient Aztec, to polytheists, or to other pagans. (The issue of the psycho-spiritual technologies of the East, for example, Vedanta, is something I will keep separate for the time being. We’re only talking about the West right now.)

Back to your first (!) question, “Did you wish to look into the mind of God, or converse with God? Did you accomplish either?”

As the inimitable ethnobotanist and psychedelic mushroomologist Terence McKenna once said, “it is no great accomplishment to hear a voice in the head. The accomplishment is to make sure it’s telling you the truth.” When you come right down to it, all revelation–whether personal and idiosyncratic or collective and canonized–originates in a “voice in the head,” so to speak. Behind the Biblical canon are a bunch of very special loose cannons to whom God revealed himself. How do we know it’s true or reliable?

This is an epistemological question that really applies to all knowledge, whether secular or religious. How do we know it’s true? What reason do we have for relying upon it? Here again, we are confronted with an inevitable degree of subjectivity. But that doesn’t mean that we should equate “subjective” with “arbitrary” or “unprovable.”

There is a story about one of the great Hindu sages of the 20th century, Sri Krishna Prem. He was plowing through a number of books that had been sent to him, each expressing this or that writer’s particular teaching. He tossed one of them to a disciple, and said “Take a look at that.”

When the disciple finished reading it, Krishna Prem asked, “Well, is it there?”

“Is what there,” the disciple fumbled.

“The thing,” Krishna Prem replied. “Is the thing, the spirit, in that book?’

“How should I know?,” the disciple countered.

“But you must know. You must be able to recognize whether he is writing from experience or whether it’s just words, hearsay.”

“Some of the things he says seem true,” the disciple ventured.

The disciple continues: “Krishna Prem’s reply was devastating. ‘One can’t write anything on this subject without saying something that isn’t true. What you must see is whether the truth shines through the words or whether they are platitudes, words repeated by rote. Look behind the words. Feel!’”

“I felt as might a man blind from birth suddenly ordered to see…. He might as well have said ‘fly.’ That was the way he treated me, forcing me to see that it was not just a matter of having a superior mind or of my not knowing the jargon, but that there was a range of perception of a different order which he had and I had not. And since he never pretended to be anything other than an ordinary man, I could not take refuge in the plea that he was extraordinary and that nothing could be expected of ordinary mortals like me.”

So, back to my book. Petey and I are obviously ordinary men, no different than anyone else. And yet, we tried very hard to accomplish what Sri Krishna Prem is talking about, not by being extraordinary, but mostly by getting out of the way. I, in particular, wanted the book not just to be about ideas conveyed from mind to mind. Anyone can do that. Rather–especially in certain parts–my goal was to “make present” that which I was writing about, just as if I were performing music.

Did it work? Definitely for some readers. I’ve received enough “personal testimony” to know this. And this, much more than any material success (which the book will probably never really achieve), is profoundly gratifying to me, for it means that I am no longer just a music aficionado. To some limited extent I am actually able to play it, and no one is more surprised about this than I am. Not to say humbled. But it did take a lot of practice. To the extent that I am able to help people, I like to think that it’s just because I’ve already taken the next music lesson, so I’m maybe a week ahead of my readers. But don’t tell anybody. I need to preserve a little mystique.

Wow. That’s only the first of eleven questions. I’m not sure Sigmund, Carl and Alfred know what they’ve gotten themselves into. No wonder ShrinkWrapped won’t return our calls.

Hugh Fitzgerald:

The League of Nations was not a mess in the 1920s. It became a mess when, in the 1930s, it could not handle Mussolini or Hitler, and failed. The U.N. was not originally a mess when founded, with such tutelary spirits as Rene Cassin and Eleanor Roosevelt. It became a mess sometime after Bandung, when more and more “countries” that were primitive despotisms became members. The only two blocs that came to matter were first the Soviet bloc (where Ukraine and Byelorussia also had votes) of the captive or subjugated (by Communism, backed up by the Red Army) nations of Eastern and Central Europe, and the Arab bloc which in turn manipulated and directed a larger Muslim bloc. That Muslim bloc bullied or threatened or inveigled even non-Muslim states (such as those of black Africa after the Six-Day War) into doing the Muslim bidding, under the guise of fake “third-world” solidarity. Thus did the fabulously rich plutocrats of Arabia present themselves, dripping with gold, as representatives of the “Third-World” — a Halloween joke, a Ballo-in-Maschera fantasia.

Read it all.

Proceed Immediately

July 30, 2006

Read Maxed Out Mama’s Haq Of Seattle And Hizbollah. Her post is a clear, cogent and methodical look at the days events- you know, like she always does.

The entire post is a must read.

She also links to Ouwet Front, a blog written by members of the Lebanese Forces.

In particular, see this and this. Be sure to read the comments left by readers.

Lastly, see this- the Photos That Damn Hizbollah, to understand what hiding behind civilians, women and children really means.

As usual, Mamma delivers.

Qana’s Tragic Karma

July 30, 2006

The events at Qana this morning are nothing less than tragic. About 50 civilians, many of them children, were killed by an Israeli missile.

The magnitude of the tragedy at Qana is magnified by the reality that it was an event that need not have happened.

Still, the images being broadcast won’t go away. The Israelis, as has been noted, have lost the PR war. That is nothing new. The Israelis have been at the short of the media stick for decades. In a way, that has worked in Israel’s favor, because they do not have to overly concern themselves with an endeavor they cannot win.

Notwithstanding that, Israel has the ‘goods.’ There are videos from drones that show Hizbollah rocket launchers adjacent to civilian occupied buildings.

In fact, the missile that knocked down the apartment building today did not actually hit the building- it landed adjacent to the building. Hizbollah fire missiles from mobile rocket launchers- in this instance, those launchers we set up less than 30 yards from the building that was hit.

Hizbollah, Hamas and like  Saddam not so long ago, all have a long history of shielding themselves behind civilians- women, children, mosques and hospitals. Hezbollah bases itself in residential areas, places arms depots in urban areas, and has missile launch sites that are backyards- literally.

Hizbollah is not the noble, long suffering Arab ‘victim.’  Nor is Hizbollah a political, social or military organization. From it’s inception, the principles that the organizations claim to follow, are religious. The Hizbollah political, social or military ideologies are an extension of what they claim to be religious principles. It is important to understand that the schools and social services provided by Hezbollah first and foremost serve to promote and expand Hizbollah ideology. Simply stated, that is like the Nazi Party establishing schools, nurseries and providing other services. Hizbollah, like Hamas, have never bothered to hide their bigotry, hatred and racist ideologies.

Further, Hizbollah is not an organization of guerrillas- they are terrorists. Guerrillas are irregular soldiers- that is, not a part of a regular army, fighting against an opposing army. For decades, the vast majority of Hizbollah ‘operations’ have been directed at civilians. That makes them terrorists.

Clearly, any negotiations with a terror organization are a waste of time. They are not bound by the same rules and regulations that govern civilized society. Hezbollah actions, stated ideologies and long held beliefs, undermine every Hizbollah claim to legitimacy.

Despite their political influence, Hizbollah refuses to identify itself as a political entity, in the same way as other legitimate political organizations. Instead, Hizbollah continues to define itself, by actions and words, as a terrorist organization. By definition, terrorist organization are not bound by civilized convention and the established rule of law. By definition, terrorist organizations operate outside those conventions and outside the rule of law.

Qana’s bad karma proved one thing: much of the Arab world remains deluded by the serenades that equate terror and slaughter to dignity. In the end, after after the smoke clears and the bluster and concocted hysteria of the day dies down, the Lebanese, Hizbollah and the Palestinians will have learned two very important lessons.

First, neither Israel or the western world will tolerate another Arafat like era- 40 years of no movement and doublespeak leading to more hostilities, all designed to preserve te status quo. The west will not tolerate billions upon billions of dollars in aid, to be sucked up by corrupt regimes. Those days are over.

Secondly, Hizbollah and the Palestinians have learned that there are consequences to bad behavior and from now on, there will be accountability. Playtime is over.

Time to grow up.

In the universe of spectacular, magnificent and unattainable women, no one will ever top Isabella Rosellini, of course.

That said, Kate, author of Small Dead Animals, might just well be a runner up.

We like the way Kate thinks. She’s kind of like the chef extraordinaire- she can survey a table full of ingredients and know exactly what to select to pull together a great menu that never repeats itself. You keep coming back, because your hooked on the way Kate sees the world and the way she finds and uses ingredients that might otherwise be overlooked. The real strength of her blog are found in the ideas she puts forth, and how she uses the events of the day to support those ideas.

Of course, Kate has her detractors, those who refuse to submit to logic, truth or reality- and for the most part, her detractors are frustrated, mostly because Small Dead Animals isn’t about Kate herself, or even her beliefs (strange as that may sound) because her beliefs and politics are predicated on her passionate attachment to the aforementioned logic, truth and reality. Kate finds truths and makes us see that truth.

OK, enough preamble, you get the point. Kate isn’t only an original (Larry, Shemp and Curly were ‘originals’), she is a smart original. Read her blog and think.

Today, Kate links to a blogger who makes a certain logical, if only symbolic, point:

At any rate, it seems as though there are plenty of people who aren’t at all happy here in the West. I have it on good authority that there are people who are none to keen on living in repressive dictatorships.With all this talk of prisoner swaps, I’d like to go one better. I’d like to exchange the Islamists bent on destroying my country from the inside with the democracy advocates being tortured in Iran. Sounds fair to me [emp-SC&A]
The people worship oppressive dictatorships can just go live in one. The people who will not choke on the sweet air of freedom can come live here.

That’s about all I have to say to you folks. If things continue as they are, you’ll be looking back on this and wondering why you didn’t take me up on it.

In other words, I’m tired of the worst 5th Column in the history of 5th Columns running around my country. They openly support a terrorist organization. They openly praise Hitler. They openly support the destruction of Israel. However, to make mention of this in public makes you an “islamophobe” and may get you charged with a hate crime.

Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? Maybe we could expand on the idea. Exchange all the Hamas and Hizbollah supporters here for all those in Lebanon and the PA who refused to vote for terror and bigotry.

That way, everybody wins.

Europe has changed, in our lifetime. We remember traveling, starting in the mid ’80′s and being engulfed in a culture foreign to our own– and being enthralled.

There was a bond, if you will, with Europeans. Communism, was more than the ethereal academic study it was in the US- it was a real breathing monster. Europeans took freedom a lot more seriously. West German papers were filled with stories of people who attempted to escape from the East and were caught, and families that were separated for decades. French papers religiously reported on Soviet spy scandals and KGB spying prowess, all the while reminding their countrymen of the concocted hero, Charles De Gaulle who, with the Americans, liberated Europe.

It was no matter that it was only mythology– the French were free and stood shoulder to shoulder with America. Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite was the moral mantra of the French, notwithstanding the shame of the collaborators of the Vichy regime, the French legacy in Algeria and the ruins French colonialism had left behind. We were all brothers in arms in the cause of freedom. Sure, there were disputes, but in reality they were no more than ‘regional’ in nature– ‘Hamburger? That’s not cuisine!’ or ‘No, you can’t really understand, there is no word in English that can translate ‘amour’. Italians were overjoyed that dubbed ‘spaghetti westerns’ were seen and treated as a real ‘understanding’ of American culture. London barkeeps all replied to our request with, ‘Ice? who needs ice?’ All the while Europeans happily consumed KFC, burgers and flocked to see Al Pacino, Sylvester Stallone and insisted on wearing Levi’s.

Now, America has become the villain. What changed? Everything and nothing.
Why are we so surprised? It’s not as if Europeans have a history of tranquil relations with each other. Why on earth should we think we’d be treated any differently? Wars, ethnic divisions, plots, conspiracies, feuding royal houses and competition to exploit those nations and resources weaker than they are. Not that we really needed to actually understand European history- after all, how could we– all we had to do was remember the dates, names of battles and listen to recent history majors tell us how wrong one side of the other was. We knew it all. We were sure that the Boston Tea Party, the Civil War and our own experiences qualified us to understand Europe better than the Europeans themselves. Why this is important will be addressed later.

It was no different in Europe. To the English, the French were imperious frogs, to the French, the English were stupide as a result of living on an Island– too much inbreeding for too long. To everybody, the Italians were, well, Italian- too concerned with food and incapable of building a product that actually worked. The Germans were obsessed with marching in lockstep and were certain that art could be defined in technical and mathematical ways– no need to address the emotional. That emotionality was reserved for self flagellation regarding the Holocaust– as long as that self flagellation was dispensed in measured amounts on a regular basis, discussed in a way that was clinical and not emotional. The Dutch built inefficient factories to mass produce wooden clogs for tourists and the factories themselves became tourist attractions. The Americans? All business, no time for life, no understanding of culture. And so it went.

Like a dysfunctional family, Europe has finally found a way to exist without having to deal with it’s own real problems. Anti Americanism provides that vehicle. Europeans need anti Americanism, to justify their own existence. Without anti Americanism, Europe would sooner, rather than later, slide back into her own pathologies. Witness the small flare when Jacques Chirac of France scolded Poland for her support of the US with regard to Iraq. Chirac told the Poles, to, “Stay quiet and mind your place at the European table”.

The last 200 years have been the tape measure. America is stronger, faster, better. There is no getting around it. Not just in an economic sense, but in the artistic, educational, political and moral senses.

Our best days, as we say, are ahead of us. They always have been and always will be- it is how we are constructed. We always wonder what is over the horizon and strive to get there. We are not satisfied with what we know– it is what we don’t yet know that has been our obsession. We see the possibilities, the next great thing if only…

Europe’s glories, so many well deserved, are in the past. Today, no matter the discipline, America is at the forefront. If it weren’t so there wouldn’t be the brain drain into America. It’s not just the taxes, as is often opined– it is the fact that the innovation, ideas and excitement are here. No matter how I often I visit, Europeans always asks, ‘What’s new in America? What wonders are we in store for, from you crazy Americans?’

Europeans could not and cannot deal with the realities of our times. Like the fading beauty, she resorted to more makeup, a new, more provocative wardrobe and the desperate, outrageous flirtations designed to attract attention. Europe is putting herself through an ‘extreme makeover’, in attempt to delay the inevitable reality that America is the future, the Belle of the Ball.

The US now dominates the world of trade. While most people see that in strictly economic terms, it is much more. In reality, free trade is the truest expression of peace. Countries and region at peace can manage to somehow put aside their differences, in order to trade. Wars are not good for free trade. Notwithstanding the military industrial complex, free trade of goods and services provide far more money and benefits to the economy and standard of living to any country. Trade is good for everybody.

The EU has more to do with ‘commonality of interests’ than it has to do with trade. In order to stay competitive with the US, Europe coalesced into a ‘Union’– a Union meant to be the equivalent of the US economic powerhouse, or so they said.

Of course, that’s the illusion. The free flow of goods via trade isn’t rocket science, so the years of EU wrangling was about more than trade. In fact, it was the opposite. It was about forming a common voice, a ‘gang’ that would take on American dominance. They were sure to succeed, they thought, because Americans are stupid. Americans don’t like being perceived as a bully, they’d back down and back away.

They are weak. Temporarily (and often against the wishes of their citizens), European leaders put aside their economic, cultural and moral differences to form this ‘gang’ that would bully the US and thus delay the inevitable. They have artificially cobbled together a constitution that pleases no one and attempts to impose values and cultural distinctions that in many cases, are directly opposed to the cultural distinctiveness of the countries they purportedly bind.

Taking their lessons from the Arab world and improving upon them, European leaders are waving their own, now common flag, attempting to focus the attention of their citizens outward. It has become an ‘les Europeannes vs les Americaines’ affair. Never mind that European democracies are overrun with lunatic fringe parties that threaten to immobilize effective government. No matter that illegal immigration has been tolerated– and now Europe is paying the price, with a frightened citizenry at the mercy of increasingly frenzied mobs. No matter that Europe has effectively abandoned a stable relationship with the US in pursuit of interests that offer no more that short term respites. Now, Europe believes that by becoming a union, the real problems that are not being dealt with at home might go away, if only people can be convinced that being European is more important than doing the very difficult ‘right thing’–especially if that ‘right thing’ is sharing an American interest.

Each European country knows very well that being anti American is against it’s own interests. Each country understands that anti Americanism can only serve to distance that country from a reliable and loyal ally.

Therefore, as in the Middle East, a collective of voices becomes one, purporting to speak with the interests of everyone at heart. The Arab League, redux. A concerted voice with a concerted, distinctive anti American message. As in the Middle East, we seem to have only a few, if any, enemies. Saudi Arabia is our ‘friend’. Egypt is our ‘friend’. Jordan is our ‘friend’. Syria hasn’t quite been our ‘friend’, so we slap them with a few ineffectual sanctions in the hope that they too, will be our ‘friends’. Each Gulf State is our ‘friend’. The State Department tells us we have many ‘friends’. We help our ‘friends with unending foreign aid and stay mute when time after time, they violate the most basic principles of human dignity and don’t take our side in any matter.

Then comes the The Arab League, claiming to speak with the voice of Arab unity, then does everything in it’s power to diminish those ‘friendships’ by placing obstacles and blocking any attempts at progress that are in the regions best interests. All in the name of unity and the best interests of Arabs overall. The Arab League exists only to preserve the regimes and the status quo in the Middle East. This is the model the EU has chosen for itself. Not to preserve regimes– but as an attempt to preserve waning European influence, through the vehicle of anti Americanism

It has now become a moral imperative in Europe to be anti American. America threatens European identity, we are told. America is usurping the sphere of European influence, it said. America is dominating the world without taking into account European interests and European needs. Europeans demand to be heard and not feel insulted. Sound familiar?

As I mentioned earlier, our mistakes that have helped Europe become what it is. The Boston Tea Party was not the French Revolution. The Civil War was not WWI. It is hubris on our part to think that we know and understand European history better than the Europeans know it themselves. Europeans do not understand our history. It is hubris to think that just because we are a nation of immigrants, the countries from which those immigrants came from, actually hold a special place in their hearts for us.

The EU, that new common voice, has changed the compact we have with Europe. It cannot be described simply as a counterpart to the economic might of the US. Counterparts are equals– the EU has written laws that defend certain trade subsidies and abolish others, for example– effectively enshrining protectionism for itself while decrying it for everyone else. What the EU really has done is become a voice that legitimizes anti Americanism, without, ‘naming names’, all in the interest of self service at the expense of the US. To think otherwise is naive.

It is not about disagreements or honest differences of opinions, no question. Disagreements can be beneficial and healthy. It is about a fundamental change in European attitudes towards America, orchestrated for no other reason than to deflect attention away from a continent that has become morally bankrupt and an economic stepchild to the US. It is an attempt, as was said earlier, to maintain influence, at our expense.

It is not all of Europe. Eastern Europe still has memories of the regimes that oppressed her and demonized America. That New Europe knows better than all of us, the dangers of that slippery slope. Once embarked upon, anti Americanism needs a constant diet of new demons and outrages to feed itself.

America needs to be the same America it’s always been. We share our values with those who have the same values. If those basic values change, our relationships need to change. Not necessarily in a dramatic fashion, but they do need to change. Our interests come first.

As Communism, the architect of global anti democracy movements failed, so too will the anti Americanism of Europe fail. It is inevitable. Political movements, that by design, are not in the best interest of the citizenry, will fail.

Anti Americanism as a newly minted European moral imperative, is one such movement.

This post was originally published on September 13, 2005 

See the Anchoress post, The Rest Is Silence, and the link she provides.

As she notes, you will only watch it once- and even that will rip your insides out.

There is no such thing as a ‘disproportionate response to terror– not because some animals took down the WTC, but rather, because there were far too many- whole cultures and societies- who rejoiced and celebrated evil and others that tried to excuse it.

There is no disprortionate response to someone who cut your child’s throat and there is no disproportionate response to those who support, shelter and cheer those people on

Finally, there is no disproportionate response against those who would elect those kind of people to represent them.

Had we bombed the shit out of Berlin after Hitler was elected in 1933, on a platform he openly espoused and repeated- 50 million souls would have been saved.

50 million.

Screw Hizbollah and screw Hamas and their ‘free elections.’ Their platform is not unknow and not secret. Their ideology and their ‘cultural values’ are not a secret. They can’t be bothered to camouflage or hide the evil they profess.

Voting for Hizbollah or Hamas in a free election, was not endorsing freedom- it was an endorsement of tyranny. It was an endorsement of the another kind of ‘Thousand Year Reich.’

As for those European and left wing American bastards that are willing to let history repeat itself and allow for the slaughter and deaths of innocents, all over the world, victims of terror- well, screw them, too. They are no more than closet Nazis themselves or appeasers, dreamers entirely disconnected with reality.

There will be those who raise their hands in the UN to condemn Israel and the US, but let’s be clear about what they and their raised hand Nazi salute are submitting to:

Hizbollah and Hamas, uber alles.

Enough. Enough.

No more Cosgroves, no more Anne Franks and no more Maximilion Kolbes.

At some point we have to defend what we believe in.

Those who aren’t willing to fight, believe in nothing- and they have no right to tell the rest of us we have nothing to worthwhile to defend.

I forced myself to watch and listen to the link Anchoress provided.

There is a cost to war, as we have noted and there is a cost to hate. No more credit. Time to pay up. You wanna play, you gotta pay.

Children all over the Arab Middle East suffer- not beause of israel or America, but because their parents are self absorbed, narcissistic pigs. They dream of being ‘heroes,’ instead of being responsible parents. They say nothing as others teach their children to hate. They bring more hate home and celebrate evil, in front of their children. They send their children to schools and camps that teach hate.

That is the same as deliberately infecting your child with leprosy.

If you deliberately infect your child with a disease, don’t complain if the remedy is painful.

If you deliberately infect your child with leprosy, don’t be surprised when civilized people want to quarantine you.

If you deliberately infect your child with leprosy, you have no right to demand that others do the same.

If you deliberately infect your child with leprosy, do not be surprised if your children are taken from you.

On September 11, 2001, my daughter was 12 years old. For two weeks she didn’t sleep. She was terrified. Why? Because some evil bastards, didn’t give a damn about their kids. They were willing to slaughter my child and millions like her, so that their children might be free to hate and and commit more terror.

Screw them and screw anyone who believes the people that would do, support or cheer on those kind of things, are moral equals.

My response to them will be most disproportionate, be assured.

I miss my child every day.

Woe unto the evil bastard that would take her from me, or me from her, permanently.

Why War Works

July 28, 2006

Moral economics. That’s why war works.

Europe isn’t Muslim today today because the Islamic invaders that were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, could no longer pay the price of advance. European defenders were extracting too high a price from the invaders. When it became clear to the invaders that war ws no longer the smart way to go, the Muslim world found a way to live in peace with their Christian neighbors. The same thing happened when the Crusades failed. Christan Europe found a way to live with the Levant.

The vast majority of Germans and then the nations that chose to join the German alliance under Hitler’s National Socialist regime, were willing to pay a very high price for the Thousand Year Reich.’ The nations that opposed the vision of National Socialism and the Thousand Year Reich, were more numerous and were willing to pay an even higher price to stop National Socialism and everything it stood for. When it was all over, the cost to Germany for their aggressive war was astronomical. There is little chance of such German adventurism happening again.

Wars begin and end because of the cost of waging war.

Yesterday, Dr Sanity noted in The Brilliance Of The Barbarians, that war means the rules of civilization are suspended. She quotes Wretchard:

Traditionally the solution has been to consider wartime a discontinuity, when civilization’s rules are suspended. It becomes possible, for example, to lay waste to the Monte Cassino Abbey. Berlin was bombed without regard for its buildings, churches or people.

Dr Sanity is more concise. In fighting this war- more of conflicting ideas than of weapons, she notes,

I am confident that we will not lose our values; and that our overall moral heading can be recovered should we need to temporarily deviate from the course of the moral compass that guides us. Because, in order to combat and defeat this new barbarism, we must confront it and be willing to do whatever it takes to defeat it.

If we appease or ignore it, it will continue to menace everything we hold dear; and sooner or later, it will sink us–no matter how moral we are or how much restraint we demonstrate to their provocations. Morality and restraint will not win this conflict. We must be sure in our own hearts and minds of the endurance of our own values in order to do what is necessary…

The cost of this war will be more than all the lives lost; it will also be for the humanity and civilization we must temporarily abandon to win. I love to read fantasies as much as anyone, but in the real world, the good and virtuous whose cause is just do not always win.

When we are finally cornered and must allow our own barbarism to surface to combat theirs head to head, then we must be prepared to live with the consequences, including the agonizing guilt that will ensue–or everything we hold dear, everything we aspire to become, will forever perish from this earth.

Peace among nations is arrived at when the cost of war is too dear. As long as nations and peoples perceive the cost of war as acceptable, then we will have war.

As Wretchard noted, wars are fought as wars. Innocents die, great cities are laid to waste and vast populations suffer for years. Bad things happen and in the heat of battle, barbarism will occur. That is all part of the cost of war.

If most people had their say, there would be no aggressive wars. They after all, are the ones who suffer the most. The leaders of nations and faiths that demand war, aren’t usually made to pay the price till long after most if the damage has been done- if ever.
The problem is that most people don’t have a say. Nations and leaders that demand aggressive wars are not free nations. They are ruthless tyrannies that exist only to serve themselves and their needs. As we have noted,

When nations that are that are led by or are under the influence of tyrants or dictators, attempt to justify those actions, we can rightly assume that justification is false. Tyrants and dictators do not make moral choices, because moral choices can only lead to the demise of the tyranny.

Anyone that comes to the defense of tyrannical regimes and their leaders, have themselves made a conscious choice to defend and stand by what is immoral. It should be repeated

The radical Islamist’s readily admit to their agenda of a global Caliphate. Those agendas is finding greater acceptance, as we ‘talk’ and ‘discuss’ them, even as the radicals become more vicious and violent- and all the while, chemical and biological agents are cooked up in bathtubs. Hamas even threatens to use those weapons.

The problems in the Middle East are not derivative of Israel’s existence.
American troops would have been invited to the region, regardless. Saddam would have invaded Iraq and the Egyptians would have used chemical weapons in Yemen. Hafez Al Assad would have butchered 15,000 to 30,000 regardless.

Israel’s fight with Hizbollah is not politcal- it never was. Hizbollah sees the conflict with Israel as an existential, having nothing to do with politics or borders. Indeed, Nasrallah, Fadlalah, et al, have made clear that the existence of Israel, with any borders, will not be tolerated.

Clearly, as far as Hizbollah is concerned, violence in the region is not predicated in political differences. Eliminating Israel- and Jews, violently, are clear and unequivocal stated goals. In Hizbollah‘s world, Israel is simply not permitted to exist.
Hizbollah- and much of the Arab world that shares those beliefs, have thrown down the gauntlet. They have issued the challenge.

It is up to Israel and the civilized world to reiterate, underscore and remind Hizbollah and other Arab opponents, the cost of their call to arms, to ”slaughter the Jew!’

To reward Hizbollah and much of the Arab world for their venom by ‘holding back,’ not repudiating their stated bigotry and hate is absurd.
The rules of civilizations are far more preferable to war. Those rules however, are applicable to those who understand that war is preferable to peace.

For 60 years, we have been ‘talking’ and ‘discussing’ with regimes that would harm our interests at at moment notice, and regimes who openly admit that if given the opportunity, would eliminate Israel and slaughter as many Jews as possible.

For sixty years, the American position on Israel and the Arab nations, under every administration since Truman, Republican or Democrat, have been remarkably consistent: Cessation of hostilities, diplomatic recognition and secure borders.

After 60 years, those things have yet to be fully accepted.

Imagine negotiating with the Nazi Party for 60 years, during which time it engaged in a limited- but relentless terror and war- as well as their stated genocidal aims.

There comes a point after which negotiations are pointless. Israel and the west reached that point 50 years ago.

Israel must do what it needs to do, as noted in this Der Speigel article.

The pacifist reaction that the Israeli defensive war has triggered in Germany and Europe is not well thought out and is disingenuous. It is also counter-productive. An immediate cease-fire would merely result in a worse conflict in the future. The consequences drawn from Adolf Hitler’s World War II — “Never again fascism! Never again war!” — were intended to prevent an anti-Semitic war from ever again taking place. Today, that lesson has been forgotten. “Never again war against fascism” is all that remains.

Israel must not be forced to abandon its war against Hezbollah, rather it must win the conflict. Just as Hezbollah is fighting the war as Iran’s proxy, Israel is fighting genocidal Islamism as the proxy for the rest of the Western world. The least Israel should be able to expect from the West is that it not be betrayed.

There is a cost to war and to the rules of civilization. Time to see what that price is

SC&A usually like to present out guest pieces with a preamble, so as to provide you, our readers, with a sense of direction, or purpose.

This essay, written by John, author of The Sound of Muzik (a favorite blog) defies easy categorization. That isn’t surprising- John, too, is hard to peg. He is serious, irreverant, funny and poignant- and always honest and forthright. Mostly, John makes us think. He has been through a lot and he has seen a side of life most of us would not ever have to know about. Not all of the story is pretty, a lot of it is painful and all of it is riveting It is a testament to John’s remarkable life, achievements and insights.

We wanted to wait a bit before we posted this. It is a long and thoughtful essay that touches upon much of what we have discussed, either directly or by inference.

I’ve written this post numerous times and upon proofreading, I’ve concluded that I sound like a pompous ass. There’s no way around it.

I’m opinionated on subjects… but opinions do not an expert make. I realize this and I don’t pretend to be an authority on any subject. I’m not trying to convince anyone that I actually know what I’m talking about or even that I have experience in the areas of which I’ve formed opinions. Nonetheless, I intend to share my views in hopes that something I have to say makes sense to someone.

Let’s set the stage with a true story:

One of the guys I work with was retiring from the military and the decision was made to have the going away party at a topless bar. The group was howling at the girls on the stage, throwing dollars and making lewd comments. Just as one would expect a bunch of fun-loving guys in a room full of naked women to act. The place went dark in preparation for the next performance. There was smoke on the stage and the lights came up slowly as the girl began her dance. The place went wild…except for one guy. He realized that the girl he was lusting after was his 16-year-old daughter. Unaware of the situation, the rest of his friends continued to yell lascivious remarks at the girl.

Damn…that can ruin a party.

He pressed charges against the establishment because they hadn’t checked her ID before hiring her. The place was closed down due to the number of underage girls dancing there. A good number of men in that place had daughters that were older than the girls on the stage. There’s something sick about that.

This guy wasn’t willing to accept any of the responsibility for what his daughter had done. It was the fault of the people she hung around with, or the drugs she was doing, or something in the water.

I wasn’t actually at the party but he’s a friend of mine and confided in me about the incident. I asked why he didn’t put his foot down about the people she hung out with or the drugs she was doing. He said he didn’t want to tell her how to live her life she needed to learn how to make her own decisions. Besides, we can’t control everything our kids do.

She was 16-YEARS-OLD! Give me a break.

I don’t want people to tell me how to raise my kids so I don’t tell anyone how to raise theirs but honestly, we need to step back occasionally and see what kind of impact (or lack of) we’re having on their lives.

To think that we can influence the direction of our children’s’ lives is not naïve, although, I’ve been called naïve for thinking that way. I’ve been told that parents can’t compete with outside influences. People say that if we want our children to function in today’s society, we must conform to the “modern” ways of thinking. We must realize that oral sex isn’t considered a sexual act or that it’s acceptable for your daughter to wear a thong bikini in public. If we don’t let our children do what everyone else’s children are doing, we are guilty of sheltering them.

I try to teach my kids respect and integrity. I find myself contradicting the values of society when moral issues are raised at the dinner table. This makes things confusing for kids. I try to show some correlation between my beliefs and those of their peers and teachers but for the most part, they will need to figure it out on their own.

I am a Christian. Many people assume that I’ve lived my entire life as a Christian…that my parents were Christians…and that I’m some uptight, narrow-minded, ultra conservative that has never experienced “the other side of the track”. This assumption disqualifies me, in the minds of my critics, from having the ability to understand my teenagers.
I say pshaw.

I’ve come to find rest in God. Much needed rest at that but I haven’t forgotten my past. I understand the stressful environment of a teen. The nature of the stress may have changed since I was there but the trauma is the same. I’m fully aware of the troubles my kids face every day because I spend time with them and we talk to one another.

We call the time I spend with my kids “quality time” or “bonding”. There was a day when we didn’t need those labels because those things just happened. That’s what family was all about. I guess the occurrences are rare enough today that we need to define what’s happening. I spend this time gaining insight into the lives of my kids and I do my best to draw on my experiences to help them through the rough spots.

I try to minimize the undue stress in the lives of my teens. For example; I may very well be the only parent in the country that told my kids not to worry about the state level examinations in their schools. I even offered to pull them out for the testing cycle. They opted to go anyway. I think the fact that they weren’t being pressured into it was a factor in their decision. They went because I gave them a choice.
I will not have my children be stressed over a government sponsored cash cow program. Neither do I care if they see my rebellion against the stupidity of the system. I truly hope they learned something by it. Conformity is not always the best rule of thumb.

I’ve been rebuked for joking around with my kids because I’m “damaging their self-esteem”. I’ve raised my kids to have a sense of humor. I can call my son “stupid” if he does something stupid and he knows that it wasn’t a verbal assault, defamation, or malicious slander. Moreover, he’s learned to admit when he’s done something stupid. He calls me stupid if I blunder and I know he isn’t being disrespectful. I personally don’t care what onlookers think. We understand each other. My kids are sensitive enough to be empathetic and thick-skinned enough to ward off derision. I put great stock in the ability to laugh at adversity.

My sense of humor is probably the only reason I’m still alive.

I have vivid memories of my teenage years and I shudder to think that my kids may do the things I did. I don’t mean to be hypocritical but I cannot condone most of my adolescent experimentation with things such as drugs, sex, and the like. The reason I can’t bring myself to let my kids “experience” some things for themselves is that those things screwed me up at their age. I was in a self-destructive pattern designed to elicit attention from the adult world. In today’s terminology, I was a self-harmer. I would never have been content with merely cutting myself or other physical harm. I needed to ruin the entire package.

I wanted to be an individual and I felt like I couldn’t express myself at home (I’m sure you’ve heard that one before). Some parents tend to dismiss the concerns of their children because teens tend to be overly dramatic. There seems to be a fad among teens in our area to outdo the horror of each other’s lives. They make up stories about the emotional abuse they suffer at home or how terrible their living conditions are. I have to force myself to listen to my daughter retell the accounts of how every friend she has is living in hell on earth. Makes me wonder what her stories are like. Nonetheless, I listen because I don’t want her to feel ignored.

I felt ignored (even though I wasn’t) and I sought to do things that would shock society. I felt it was the natural thing to do because my upbringing had me thinking that girls were well behaved while boys were not. This thought entered my mind during one of my daily beatings. My father’s idea of discipline came in the form of a belt. He wouldn’t fold it like most abusive parents…he wanted to make sure I would catch the buckle and I always did. This is also where I learned the difference between discipline and injurious abuse. My sisters lived in fear of the punishment they saw me receive and were always very well behaved. I, on the other hand, was rebellious and became more so with every beating. I wasn’t afraid of anything because I felt there was nothing worse than what I was already going through.

I’ve heard people say that teens have more pressure in their lives today. They can’t cope. I hear a lot of talk about suicide, self-harming, drug abuse, and other destructive behavior as a means of escape. That’s no different than when I was a teen. We had stress. There were weapons brought to school, I fought every day, girls dumped me, my father abused me, blah, blah, blah. I drank, I did drugs, I thought about suicide.

I lost my best friend in third grade when his mother shot him in his sleep. That was the first time I can remember having thoughts of suicide.
In 8th grade, the girl I thought I was going to marry one day was killed by a drunk driver while crossing the street in front of our school. I was waiting for her on the other side and didn’t know what to do as she lay twitching in the middle of the road. I could barely handle the guilt. I watched her die and did nothing.
My best friend in High School came out of the closet in our senior year which implicated me as a homosexual, opening my life to unwarranted ridicule. It all stopped when my friend took his life with a shotgun upon his father’s reaction to the news.
There were a few times my girlfriend had missed her period. Those were some tense moments.

Most every week in my childhood was accompanied by thoughts of suicide. I was depressed, I was under pressure, I didn’t know how to cope.

So, can I relate to my kids?
Yeah…and then some. The difference is, I’m there for them. My kids thank me all the time for good advice I’ve given them. I get to hear how they implemented an idea that I gave them and how well it worked out. I don’t remember ever having those conversations with my dad. Actually, I don’t remember many conversations at all with my dad…mostly screaming and pleading with him to stop hitting me.

I often made bad choices just so I could feel like I was in control of my life. If I made all the right choices, I would have done so only because someone told me to. So the bad choices were king. I joined the church of Satan because I liked the reaction I got from people when I told them about it. Satanism is what introduced me to drugs and casual/ritual sex. These activities only worsened my already weak mental state. I was committed for psychiatric evaluation at age 17. I was diagnosed as a manic-depressive sociopath. So now I had a label to add to my already screwed up self-image.

My mistakes were my own. I tried to blame my parents, but realized that their problems were caused by their parents and so on. The abuse in my family (both sides) stretches back for more than 4 generations. I decided it was time to break the cycle.

The path to maturity, for me, was long and difficult and, even now, I continue to struggle with finding my way.

Naturally, I want things to be easier for my kids. I would never blaze a path into the forest only to leave my offspring to find their own way. I will always offer my trail for their use in order to make their journey less burdensome but I won’t demand they use it. However, I will ask that they stay close enough to find their way back.

It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child but that only works if you can get the entire village to agree rather than contradict one another.
Of course, that statement was made by the village idiot.

There is nothing beyond pure academics that I want the “village” teaching my children. I can teach them values on my own. I couldn’t care less if my values differ from those of the “village” I can handle the ridicule. Besides, I’m not impressed with what I see when I view the “village” objectively. Society as a whole is far more screwed up than my family, so why would I ever rely on what society says is a child rearing best practice. I don’t give a rat’s ass what the majority says. The majority, in my opinion, is represented by the group with the most whiners and the rest of us fall in line like the good little sheeple we are because we have acceptance issues.

That said: I encourage my kids to form and voice their own opinions and they are allowed to disagree with me. I allow them to assert themselves within the boundaries of respect. I encourage individualism.

However, if one of my children blatantly disregards the values I have taught them, I know it isn’t because they have suddenly become enlightened beyond the limits of my own wisdom but because they want my attention…and they’ll get it. I believe that we should actually PARTICIPATE in raising our children. Child rearing is not the responsibility of the school system, the government, or psychiatric community. The more we pay attention to our children, the better we will know them and consequently, the easier it will be to fulfill their emotional needs.

Think about this:
Psychologists make their money parenting adults. A proactive parent can save their kids a fortune in therapy bills.

I know that I sound old school but I am certainly not old-fashioned in my way of thinking and my kids are anything but sheltered. I was raised in a liberal household and I see that it screwed me up just as bad as any conservative environment could have.

My kids are in their teens and I trust them both. They follow my rules (most of the time) and I reward them with privileges commensurate with their level of maturity.

At the same time, I feel it’s my responsibility to relate to them, not the other way around, so I’m willing to step out of my role as the domestic authority in order to make a connection. I’ll play video games with my kids instead of telling them that the games are rotting their brains. Then, when I say it’s time to stop, they are more willing to comply. I work on building credibility with them before demanding they follow all kinds of rules.

It only takes a moment to demand respect but it takes time, trust, and credibility to EARN respect. Even tougher than that is the establishment of MUTUAL respect. These are the things that make a successful parent. Any rabbit can pump out a litter but that doesn’t qualify it to be a parent.

I don’t claim to be successful. In fact, I’ve made more mistakes than I care to admit. That’s where I’ve gained my insight.

I’ve heard it said that kids are more difficult to raise these days. Well, kids haven’t changed; we have. How is it that even though we were all teenagers at one point, we view our own kids as aliens?

The circumstances and situations our kids encounter have changed due to societal shift but they are still the same species. We need to educate ourselves in the difference between their influences and the ones we faced. We accept and condone things that would never have been allowed when we were kids. As a whole, we view this as progress.

When I was a teen, sex was actually safe and we didn’t need a laboratory to get high. My biggest concerns were herpes and bad mushrooms but that doesn’t mean I would want my kids to act the way I did…even in those days. I made lousy choices when left on my own and so will my kids. All I can do is try to minimize the damage and hope that they retain the values I’ve tried to teach.

But what about those outside influences?

When I was a junior in high school, I knocked a tooth out of the head of some guy that called my sister a whore. Today, every girl’s a “ho” and we’re ok with it. I can’t wait to hear some punk assed freak call my daughter “bitch” or “ho”. I know I can get probation…as long as someone stops me before I kill him. So…yeah…I’m old fashioned in that regard.

I’m also old-fashioned when it comes to the definition of sex. I think that sexual pleasure goes hand in hand with sexual activity. I don’t care what hole you put it in.

I would have been thrilled as a teen if society had decided that oral sex was no longer considered a sexual activity. I can imagine what would have been going on at the bus stops every morning.
Hey, what’s the big deal? According to today’s values, there’s no difference between cunnilingus, fellatio, and a sneeze. Rationalization is the new fashion.

Speaking of fashion: Is it just me or does the new look seem to be “modern slut”?
I’ll let my daughter wear (modestly) short skirts and tight jeans etc…but there are limits. It seems that the word “obscenity” has been stricken from the English language in the name of self expression. I’ll even let my kids pierce and tattoo themselves. I just ask that we discuss the implications of the KIND of tattoo they get. I don’t desire to make my kid’s lives miserable; I just want to be an active contributor.

No one wants to deny happiness to their children. Is it cruel to deny them the opportunity to explore their sexual urges? My son was obsessed with guns when he was 10 but I didn’t put an M16 in his hands.
Actually, I did let him shoot an M16 when he was 10 but I was there to supervise. I can’t say that I’m going to be there to make sure he uses a rubber during sex.

Face it; no matter how we word it, we are encouraging our children to tempt fate. It’s all dangerous but we send them out there with safeguards that will only reduce the risks. There is no full protection.

If I let a toddler experiment with a garbage bag, the chances are he won’t tie it over his head and suffocate but I’m not willing to take the chance.

Condoms are not 100% effective as a form of protection. Hopefully, the one percent of parents that stand next to a hospital bed watching their kid drown in their own body fluid will find comfort in the value of exploration.
I’ve educated my kids in the use of personal protection but I will not let that be confused with encouragement to participate. Conversely, I will not teach my kids that sex is evil. I understand that they will do what they want. All I can do is prepare them to make informed and mature decisions.

My kids certainly do not lead charmed lives. We’ve been through hell but we went there together. I’ve shed tears for them. I’ve sobbed. I’ve had to watch, helplessly, as one of my children wrongfully suffered at the hands of our judicial system. I’ve also watched that same child pull through it with a level of maturity that I’m not sure I possess myself. To see one of my kids labeled as a felon because the system views teenagers as inherently bad was more than I could stomach. I nearly sacrificed my career in dealing with this situation. I spent so much time researching and talking with lawyers that my job performance dropped dramatically. I had gone from a stellar employee to a “slacker”.

Sometimes that’s the price we pay to make the right choices.

I’ve seen parents throw their hands up and say “my child is out of control. There’s nothing I can do”. I try to imagine the point where I would give up on either of my kids. At what point would their issues and problems become too inconvenient or too frustrating for me to deal with? If I had to dedicate the rest of my days tending to the needs of one of my children, I would do so.

We all have to ask the question: “How much of my life am I willing to sacrifice for my family?”

Hopefully the answer is the same when times get tough.

If I were to ignore the needs of my children or take an apathetic stance in the face of their issues, I am guilty of an abuse that is far worse than anything I had to endure.

I’m not saying that I have this parenting thing figured out but I’ve seen too many situations where a parent’s career or “personal needs” take precedence. I’ve heard parents claim that they don’t get enough “me time”. Well, you’ve already had your “me time”, that’s where your kids came from. Time is something that needs to be invested in the things you feel are important and your kids know this. We should be sure we are sending the right message.

Again, these are my opinions based on my own experiences, which are different than yours. I don’t expect that my methods or ideology would work for anyone but me.

Thanks for reading.

This post was originally publuished on April 21, 2005

From Tom Gross

“I travel the roads of southern Lebanon every two weeks and there are no such [Hizbullah] missiles, as the UN force there will confirm… Hizbollah resistance… missiles are a myth.”

– Robert Fisk, Chief Middle East correspondent of The (London) Independent newspaper, writing in The Independent on April 15, 2003.

(Fisk was writing after Shimon Peres, who was then Israel’s foreign minister, said Iran had already supplied Hizbullah with at least 8,000 missiles capable of hitting Israeli cities. Since then, Iran has delivered some 6,000 more missiles, as barely reported in the western media for the last four years.)

Over 2,000 Hizbullah rockets have been fired at northern Israel from south Lebanon since last Wednesday. Last night Hizbullah fired more than 50 rockets, including one which hit the hospital in Safed, injuring patients. Another missile hit a synagogue, injuring worshippers.

Robert Fisk is the most beloved Middle East reporter among the international left. His articles are reproduced on left-wing websites throughout the world, as well as on a number of neo-Nazi websites. With his cult following, despite having a record of bias and “mistakes” second to none, he is the Noam Chomsky of reporting, the Edward Said of journalism.

On April 29, 2004, when The Independent asked Hitler-admiring historian David Irving for a quote about his plans for a lecture tour of Britain, Irving replied: “I will be happy to assist any journalist on the newspaper that publishes Robert Fisk.”

In April 2003, Fisk was described by the New York Times as “probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain.”

There’s more: scroll down and be rewarded for your efforts, s’il vous plait.

Read it all.

Pay per view changed the Saturday Night Fights forever. If we are going to pay top dollar to watch an exhibition of the ‘sweet science,’ we want the main event to go more than a round or two. If the fighters don’t ‘go the distance,’ we feel we’ve been snookered.

The same might be said for the ‘Just War’ being fought in the Middle East.

Fans on either side want to see a fight.

There is the perception that the Israelis are ‘facing stiff resistance’ and that Hizbollah fighters are ‘far more stubborn fighters,’ than anticipated.

Some pundits note that Israel is ‘fearful’ of a full scale ground invasion- afraid of a never ending ‘quagmire.’ Hizbollah fighters it is said, are offering up ‘fierce defence’ against a legendary foe. The Arab street takes pride in Hizbollah, so much so that they have come to believe that Hizbollah is acting as their proxy, heroic in battle and defending Arab ‘honor’ (which has come to mean not bleeding to death or successfully portraying oneself as a victim, crying on demand for the cameras. That actually occurred).

In fact, those perceptions serve Israel well.

As long as there is a perception (real or imagined) that the battle is more ‘equal’ than anticipated, there is a reluctance on the part of many Arab supporters of Hizbollah to demand a ceasefire. In fact, much of the Arab street encourages Hizbollah to continue it’s ‘heroic struggle.’ All the while, the Israeli armed forces are perfectly content to have things play out as they are. If the perception is the Hizbollah aren’t being steamrollered by the Israelis, well, so what if the ceasefire is delayed a few days?

The world has come to expect a different war kind of war from Israel- and not meeting those expectations serves Israel very well. While the media anticipated the Israelis to make a run for Beirut at 70 MPH, the Israelis threw them- and Hizbollah, a curve.

The Israelis learned that threatening Beirut will not rid that country of Hizbollah influence in the south. By leaving remnants of Hizbollah functional, the Israelis are now facing the very kind of opposition they naively hoped they might have avoided. Had the Israelis done to Hizbollah then what they are doing to them now, neither the Lebanese or the Israelis would  have to deal with current realities. Courtesy of Seraphic Secret, comes this map, indicating exactly where Israeli bombs have fallen. You’ll be more than a little surprised. Lebanon is not burning.

Hizbollah did not acquire thousands and thousands of rockets and missiles they never intended to use. Hizbollah’s struggle against Israel is not political in nature- It never was. Hizbollah sees the conflict with Israel as an existential one, having nothing to do with politics or borders. Indeed, Nasrallah, Fadlalah, et al, have made clear that the existence of Israel, with any borders, will not be tolerated. There was no pretense, no diplomatic dance. Hizbollah is not a government, any more than is Aq Qaeda.

We noted in a comment, that

…In fact, Hamas and Hizbollah miscalculated- they believed a low level, low grade assault on Israel would no provoke an Israeli response. They Israelis, they believed, would not upset and endanger their western sytle, middle class existence, by going to war.

They believed that Israel would allow herself to be consumed by the same kind of cancer that ruined Lebanon and that has deprived Palestinians of a state of their own… (as usual, SC&A were ahead of the curve)

Hizbollah and the Arab world are still behind the curve. The Israelis are not bogged down. This time, the Israelis understand that rather than go around their enemy on the way to to Beirut, they are going to go through Hizbollah. They are going to cut any Hizbollah forces they encounter, to ribbons.

This is very different than any war Israel has ever fought.

For example, the Israelis have surrounded a few villages in southern Lebanon. Hizbollah is claiming ‘resistance.’ In reality, the Israelis have rendered those Hizbollah members Hizbollah impotent in their ability to do Israel harm. The Israelis in turn, will wait them out- they aren’t going anywhere. In the past, they would have simply moved forward. This time, the Israelis will not leave until they have eradicated as much of Hizbollah as possible.

The Israelis could be in Beirut tomorrow, if they so desired. Unfortunately for Hizbollah, that is not on the Israeli agenda. Israel is more than happy to be ‘bogged down’ for the next two weeks, taking care of business.

At the end of the 1967 Six Day War, the Arab world was stunned to find out they had lost. Arab media had been broadcasting breathless reports to a joyous Arab world of Tel Aviv under attack and falling, Haifa burning and Jerusalem Juderein once and for all.

Of course, none of it was true. The Israelis had crossed the Suez Canal, Syria lost the Golan Heights and Jordan said good bye to the West Bank and it’s illegal hold on Jerusalem.

When this war ends, it will be ‘

Point To Point

July 27, 2006

The shortest distance between to points is a straight line.

Read Dr Sanity’s The Brilliance Of The New Barbarians.

Our uncertainty is sinking us already. Value by value. Look how willing much of the West was to compromise our freedom of speech in the Danish cartoons (no matter how “offensive” they might be taken) in order to accommodate the enemy’s threats. Soon, we will have compromised away all that matters to us; and our civilization will drown, little by little as it is taken over by the barbarians.

If we continue to appease them, we will drown in their ruthlessness and love of death.

The cost of this war will be more than all the lives lost; it will also be for the humanity and civilization we must temporarily abandon to win. I love to read fantasies as much as anyone, but in the real world, the good and virtuous whose cause is just do not always win.

Shrinkwrapped has two posts that need to be read. A Perspective On Tribes And Anti-Semitism is the clarion call of the sublime:

Using Jews as a way to manage envy has continued to be the modus operandi of the Arab world.  If anything, the problem had become exponentially more difficult with the founding of the state of Israel.  Since the founding of Israel, the disparity between the accomplishments of the tiny Jewish minority in their midst, and the enormous mass of Arab and Islamic peoples surrounding them, has grown by leaps and bounds.  This despite the Muslim world being blessed with the possession of a large percentage of the world’s energy reserves.

When people are convinced, and behave as if, they are unable to compete, the alternatives are quite limited.  They can either accept their failures (often felt as inferiority) or project their failures onto a convenient object which can then serve to rationalize and explain their failures.  This preserves their self-esteem while it also ensures their continued failings.  The Islamic world has made their choice.  Rather than address their own failures, they have turned their envious eye upon the Jews in their midst, whose very existence is a constant insult, and deceived themselves into believing that the Jew has caused all their problems.  The most glaring recent example of this has been the Palestinian sacking of the Gazan greenhouses left to them when Israel abandoned their settlements; greenhouses which were financed by American and Jewish money and given as a gift to the people of Gaza.  Instead of using the greenhouses to help jump-start the economy of their nascent state, they looted them and destroyed them.  They sit, unused, a testament to the Palestinian need to maintain their own deprivation; in this way they can then continue to direct their energy toward hatred and murder of Jews rather than to build a Nation of their own and risk the breakdown of their tribal order.

All too true- and more truth can be found reading between the lines. Ther are no distortions in the mirror Shrinkwrapped holds up.

A second post, Fantasies And Self-Fulfilling Prophecies, examines the damage and havoc brought on by with the refusal to deal with reality. Like a child holding on to a favorite blanket, the Arab world refuses to release what provides so much comfort- the escape from reality and the opportunity to hate the very things they aspire to be (and at the same time, are so afraid of) – successful, in every sense of the world.

Hate becomes that dependable security blanket.

Israel knows that it is once again fighting for its very existence; this is non-negotiable, yet Israel’s suicide is the ultimate demand of its enemies…

For nearly 60 years now, and much longer in many ways, the legitimacy of Islamic states int he Middle East has been built upon anti-Semitism.  As the disparity between the development of the rest of the world, exemplified by the modern technological powerhouse in their midst, and the poverty of economy, intellect, and development of the Muslim World has become more and more marked, those who rely on an external fantasy object upon which to project all of their dysfunction, have had to become increasingly fervent and impassioned in their hatred.  The core of the Iranian sickness and the Arab sickness is the belief that Israel, and the Jews, are the cause of all their problems.  There can be no other resolution to such a fantasy except genocide.

Shrinkwrapped isn’t overstating anything.

We were once asked, “What is it about Dr Sanity, Shrinkwrapped, Neo, et al, that you find so interesting?”

Well besides the obvious brilliance, wit and charisma that matches our own, these bloggers are thoughful and reflective. In practical terms, that means we- and you- are better off for reading them.

Your mother was right- you are known by the company you keep. Courtesy of Neo-neocon, comes this bit of self explanatory reality.

Apparently, Kofi Annan never learned that lesson.

Last night, we had the privilege of participating in a conversation with some very intelligent people.

It was the first time we met and like all first times at all things, a certain awkwardness was in evidence. We attempted to discuss the matter at hand and at the same time, establish a collective rhythm. After a while, the reluctance, halting efforts and and self conscienceness began to wither. In other words, like an anticipated, fumbling and inept first kiss, the experience became pleasurable as time went on (we like the analogy. It got your attention, didn’t it? Quit being such a critic). By the time our time together was over, while the rhythm might not have been perfect, we were dancing.

We thought about that, after the conversation. Why did a less than perfect, less than staged scenario, leave an impression?

It was clear that each of the participants are in their own right, intelligent, accomplished and recognized professionals. That said, there are lots of intelligent, accomplished and recognized professionals. There was something else about this group of people that was different.

In recalling the conversation, what sticks out the most was a brief discussion of our ‘politics’- how we got to where we are now from where we were before. As each of us presented the the abbreviated version of our journey, it became clear that however different we might be, we shared a love of country- not the lip service kind of love of country, but the real thing- the kind of love of country that includes the love of our fellow countrymen.

Each of us, in our own way, are iconoclasts-the status quo was never good enough- or ever will be- and politically correct or socially acceptable ‘sacred cows’ will never be a part of our collective realities. What set this group of people apart is they are each, reflective. Their politics were not just reactive or reflexive, but rather, they were arrived at after careful consideration and thought. Regardless of beliefs, there will be no ‘party line’ conversations or facades.

It is that truth that we found riveting.

We have noted before that

…Europe…never got over the fact that, unleashed, those ‘wretched refuse’ and ‘huddled masses’- their very own- went on to build success not only for themselves, but for their adopted country as well. We said that these unwanted masses of people understood what the elite and intellectuals of Europe never understood for themselves– that given the opportunity, they were perfectly able to fend for themselves, succeed and even excel. Thus, the European ‘refuse’ become proud and worthy pillars in the community. Their worth and contributions to the American mosaic was far more than what the Europeans had exploited them for. Europe had made a mistake by sending off it’s most abundant natural resource, it’s own sons and daughters. All had been willing to work- and then some, had they been given the chance. Europe had squandered it’s best and most precious resource- a population ready to do it’s best, in exchange for equal opportunity.

In America, anything is possible. In America every dream is more than potential reality- here, dreams are real, though just beyond reach. If we strain a bit more, and reach just a bit further, that dream can be our own reality. Of course, it takes more than aplan and a bit of hard work to reach out and grab that dream.

It also takes reflection on what the opportunity means to us. In what is a most uniquely American trait, generations of immigrants also reflected on what their part might be in contributing to and becoming a panel in what is the tapestry of the American dream.

Our dreams are always grandiose, no matter what those dreams are, and our reflections on our possibilities are no less significant. Some of us come to America as adults, because we still dream- and see the magic of America, every day. Others come here so that their children might have opportunities they were denied. Yet others come as refugees, rebuilding lost lives and learning not to look over their shoulders. They learn they can sleep through night, in safety and peace.

As has often been noted, America is not just a place. It is a frame of mind.

Mamacita “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.” The illiterate grandmother lifted her new granddaughter and said, simply, “This child has been born of parents who can read and write. This, to me, is a great miracle.”

It occurred to us that each of the participants in last night’s ‘first dance,’ would have the same response under those same circumstances. That awareness comes about as the result of reflectiion.

Sadly, the reflection that is part of the American psyche sets us apart is beginning to erode. The Anchoress noted too, in Center Is Not Holding In The Blogosphere, that many bloggers are becoming less reflective and more reactive- and she is concerned. She writes of bloggers, but in what has become typical Anchoress fashion, she is really speaking to much wider audience.

The blogosphere is certainly wild, lately. Almost feels like things have moved from fever swamp to something else…something careening out of control.

As a rule, when reflection is replaced with responsive or knee jerk reflexive thought, intolerance, bigotry and deceit move in to replace the loss. The Anchoress post highlights the acceptance of what is anarchy, as acceptable political expression. America is becoming less like America and more like everyplace else.

Still, for the timebeing, in a world that is resistant to change, it is only in America that the possibility of real and meaningful of change, becomes most real. In America, there is still no ‘wrong side of the tracks,’ really. In America a child can still be elevated from a tenement to the House of Representatives- or the White House. In America, the children of uneducated immigrants grow up to be respected doctors, lawyers and professionals, a panel in that tapestry that is America.

An America of reflex and response is not the America immigrants aspire to. America without reflection, dreams and possibilities, isn’t America.

Immigrants to America understand how great this country really is. Not just immigrants from third world or war torn countries, but even those of us from Europe and other ‘first world’ nations. This is still the country where dreams come true. No parent in this country ever had to tell a child with aspirations and drive to ‘Stop dreaming!’

Most Americans have no idea how rich they really are.

In French Riots And An American Diner we noted

America does make each of us superior- not because we are better than anyone else, but rather, because we each have the opportunity to succeed, with no exception. That is the American promise. It may not be easy, and there may be discrimination at times, but no matter, because for every door that is closed, there are others that are opened.

Ask the guy that with the funny accent down at the diner. Ask him about his hopes and dreams, for himself and his family.

We know a man like that. In his diner, there is a framed copy of citizenship papers. He took his oath a few years ago. On that anniversary, he gives the regulars, the patrons he’s known for years, a free slice of pie for dessert, along with the play by play of that special day.

He is a proud- and real- American, funny accent and all…

These are the truths we and our new dance partners understand, share- and reflect upon.

The 100 Funniest Jokes Of All Time.

What, like you needed more politics at this hour?


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