Friday, May 31, 2002

This is a Man's World

Imagine a world totally dominated by men and I picture a place with extensive federal beer subsidies and where women in revealing clothing occupy a central role at all levels of society.

But the reality is quite different. After all, the more primitive elements of the Islamic world have managed to create more or less phallocentric societies and the result is always the same: widespread ugliness, barbaric cruelty and grinding poverty.

Perhaps less well understood is that without women, men seek romance among themselves as this harrowing account from The Scotsman illustrates. It seems that the most immediate threat to the British troops looking for al Queda "activists" on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border comes from the dozens of amorous Afghan men who proposition them.

"It was hell," said Corporal Paul Richard, 20. "Every village we went into we got a group of men wearing make-up coming up, stroking our hair and cheeks and making kissing noises."

One Royal Marine with the exceptional name, Vaz Pickles, says he saw only two women in six days of roaming the Afghan frontier. "It was all very disconcerting."

Aren't the Muslim fundamentalists the same guys who throw homosexuals off the highest pile of rubble in their squalid bone yards? And if so, how do they reconcile their intense homophobia with the widespread practices of the Arab world regarding brotherly love? Could it be that the love whose name cannot be mentioned is what is really driving Islamofacsists mad? That explains the uber-macho posturing, the violent self-loathing, and the penchant for Toyota Land Cruisers

Maybe if the whole western world begins to insinuate that jihadis are a bunch of pink boys they will slink away in humiliation and leave us all alone.

Credit goes to Socher, et al for the Scotsman link.

Friday, May 24, 2002

What’s Next For Ground Zero?

The Twin Towers are gone and it will soon be time to decide what will fill the 14-acre cavity they left behind. Like many New Yorkers, I'm bracing myself for the worst. I fully expect whatever is built will be ugly and inappropriate.

The unapologetic confidence of so many of the city's best buildings -- such as the Empire State, the Woolworth, or the Museum of Natural History -- is expressed in a language that is totally incomprehensible to today's celebrated architects. Given the chance, elitists like Rem Koolhaas would erect a monstrous "statement" no more inspiring than the heap of rubble that has choked the site for eight months.

The New York Times reports that the local architectural firm of Beyer Blinder Belle has been chosen to oversee the reconstruction project with assistance from another firm, Petersen Littenberg. While Beyer Blinder is best known for its masterful restoration of Grand Central Terminal and Ellis Island, most of its original architecture is forgettable. No designs have been submitted for the Trade Center site and Beyer Blinder is merely managing the final architectural team, which is yet to be chosen.

It's hard to tell if the participation of Beyer Blinder Belle and Petersen Littenberg is good news or bad. But I'm optimistic since the Times' insufferable architecture critic Herbert Muschamp, can't stand them. This has gotta be a good sign.

Muschamp issued one of his occasional edicts from Heaven today that gave Beyer Blinder and Petersen Littenberg the official stamp of disapproval from New York's cultural elite. Muschamp does this with his trademark haughtiness. He writes in what must be a deliberately pretentious manner that he has cultivated over the years as his signature. To get the full effect of his words it helps to read them aloud while trying to touch your nose with your lower teeth. Imagine Judd Nelson as a professor of architectural theory and you begin to appreciate Herbert Muschamp.

Anyway, Muschamp works himself into a lather about architecture in "the bland contexualist mold" which he explains as "an approach that calls for new buildings that imitate the adjacent old ones." In English this means he thinks buildings that are in harmony with their settings are crap. Avenue Foch in Paris, crap. The brownstones of the Upper West Side, crap. Trafalgar Square, crap. He tags Beyer Blinder Belle as a practitioner of this black art.

But Muschamp saves his most damning vocabulary for Petersen Littenberg. They are "followers of Leon Krier, the design guru to Prince Charles and the American New Urbanist Movement." Again, this is a school of thought that believes buildings should be built with human beings in mind and that communities should be livable, even beautiful.

"(Petersen Littenberg) hail from a world of topsy-turvy values in which reactionary designs like that for Seaside, Florida are described as the (sic) new and innovative."

Seaside, of course, is the wildly popular and successful experiment in town planning that used a standard set of simple design codes to ignite an explosion of creativity and beauty. I've only seen photos of it but now that I know Muschamp hates it I would consider living there.

I think the gelatinous prose and the glaring typo his article is significant because it pretty much proves that no one edits Muschamp's stuff at the Times. They probably don't even bother to read it. It's always the same. Dense, irritating, pretentious.

If the Muschamps of the world have their way Ground Zero will sprout with an utterly disposable building that makes a defeatist statement about victimhood or some such nonsense. Either that or one of Frank Gehry's titanium coprolites (as someone more eloquent than me once described them.)

But with any luck, what we will ultimately get is an anti-Muschamp design. Ground Zero is significant as the scene of one of history's greatest crimes. It is a mass grave not just of innocent people but of outdated ideologies as well.

What is needed is a building that commemorates the site unflinchingly. A proud muscular building that rises defiantly from the ashes and embraces the future while it pays respect to its legacy. In other words . . . a New York building like they used to make.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Letters in the Times

The letters section of The New York Times is almost always infuriating. Here the unadulterated lunacy of liberalism finds its home. Case in point, today there is a letter from Andrew Schrank, a Yale sociology professor complaining about the paper’s unflattering coverage of Cuba.

“According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, Cuba maintains the lowest level of infant mortality and the third lowest level of illiteracy in Latin America despite the overwhelming pressure of the United States embargo.”

Not quite sure how the embargo puts pressure on literacy rates. I would think the lack of televisions, Gameboys and Playstations would actually boost literacy, but never mind. Seems to me the pressure on Cuba comes from having an unaccountable military police state instead of a government. His point is thus:

“. . . the United States must begin acknowledging the Castro government’s undeniable achievements as well as its widely acknowledged shortcomings.”

Actually, after reading this letter I would have to question whether Castro’s shortcomings are indeed widely acknowledged. I would love to hear which of Castro’s shortcomings Mr. Schrank is willing to acknowledge. Would it be the lack of democracy? Or perhaps the incarceration of AIDS patients? Maybe it’s the brutality unleashed against political dissenters?

Assuming even that all of Castro’s "achievements" are undeniable, one question remains. Why did it require torture and violence to achieve them?

The fact, is the "shortcomings" of fascist dictatorship are so significant that they always outweigh any "achievements." Yet Castro is continually given the benefit of the doubt by people who wouldn't be caught dead balancing the achievements of say, Augusto Pinochet, against his shortcomings on the pages of the Times.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

So Long to InstaPundit

Does anyone like Glenn Reynolds' new layout? I don't.

One of the great things about InstaPundit was that you could tell it was pure content just by looking at it. It sent a solid message that the most popular blog of all had nothing to do with asthetics. It was posted with a generic template. The information was what mattered and the look was inconsequential. It seemed deliberately drab.

No longer. Today it's slick. Not Lileks slick or Sullivan slick, but certainly less homegrown-looking. Now it's going to be even harder to describe to the ignorati the difference between a blog and a website. Maybe there is no difference. But something about this reminds me of the day when CB radio expanded beyond a handful of channels -- it stopped being cool.

Mark 5/21 on your calendar. It's the day Instapundit jumped the shark.

Friday, May 17, 2002

First Explain What a "Vote" Is

In today's edition of Arab News, lefty journalist Norman Solomon helps his Saudi friends who may be having some difficulty understanding our bicameral system of representation.

Like the "purloined letter" openly displayed in a famous tale by Edgar Allan Poe, the Senate’s huge structural flaw is right in front of Americans all the time — but they don’t see it as anything more than an eternal legacy of the country’s political heritage.

The past has ways of enduring. Today, in the 100-member Senate, cattle may be more equitably represented than people.

For instance, Montana — with a total of 902,195 residents, according to the 2000 census — has a pair of US senators. So does California, with a population of 33,871,648.

In other words, less than one million people in Montana have as much representation in the United States Senate as more than 33 million people in California.

Yeah, but what about the 53 Congressional Districts in California vs. Montana's one?

And by the way, how many representatives are there in the Saudi Parliament? The fact is, if you're a ordinary Saudi citizen (and by that I, of course, mean a man) you're better offer seeking redress of your grievances from Parliament Funkadelic.

Well, at least they’re thinking about democracy.

And Norman, you’re in good company over there on the Arab News team.

Great Timing

MIT has revealed that it can now manipulate video images to make anyone appear to say anything no matter how riduculous or divorced from reality it may be. I believe Noam Chomsky has been working on a manual version of this technology for a great many years.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Even the Bureau of Printing and Engraving Knew!

Here's an interesting clue to the vast conspiracy if silence surrounding the September 11th attacks as found on New World Disorder.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

The Shame of the Forbidden Notion

Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County, Virginia is one of the nation’s greatest schools. For those who don't live near the Beltway, Jefferson is a legendary magnet school devoted to math and science and regularly supplies squadrons of freshmen to the Ivy League. Jefferson also happens to be a public school and to the political hacks that administer the system, the school’s success is deeply troubling.

The student body at Jefferson does not reflect the diversity of Fairfax County. All the students are smart and hardworking. Not everyone in Fairfax County is smart and hardworking. For that matter, not everyone in the United States is smart and hardworking. Of course, any child of any ethnic background can enter Jefferson and expect to be treated as a full member of the community – but only if they are smart and hardworking.

The Superintendent of Schools in Fairfax has rightly recognized this policy as discriminatory. Yes, Jefferson discriminates on the basis of ability. According to the Superintendent, this will make Jefferson “isolated and elitist” according to an NPR story.

“Jefferson was never meant to cater to the best and brightest,” he says. It was meant to serve the entire community. So in the interests of the community he wants Jefferson to accept a set number of applicants from every grammar school in the County regardless of their intelligence or work ethic. How exactly this will serve the interests of the community is never articulated.

But the presumption is pretty clear – Jefferson’s success starkly reveals “the forbidden notion.”

To a liberal of a certain age, there is nothing more shameful than “the forbidden notion.” The forbidden notion is the crazy aunt locked away in the basement of the liberal psyche. It is the reluctantly held belief that everything Sheriff Bull Connor and Governor Wallace said about blacks was true: that they are less intelligent than whites and inherently lazy.

Of course, this belief is the very essence of American racism. And that’s why it must be concealed at all costs.

If you were liberal and believed in the forbidden notion you would have a choice of two responses. Either you treat African-Americans as wards of the state doomed to being marginalized from the mainstream of society and hope that their frustration and rage does not boil over and consume you, or you pretend the notion doesn’t exist and make sure that no evidence of it ever surfaces. Of the two responses, the first is clearly not acceptable . . . but the second requires eternal vigilance.

This explains quite a lot about the contradictions of the “progressive” movement.

If you did not believe in the inferiority of blacks then you would welcome any opportunity to disprove the forbidden notion. You would crusade against quotas that obscure individual achievement, you would think globally and act locally to create a colorblind society where as Bob Marley sang, “the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes.” And you would hold African-Americans to a higher standard than the mainstream in order to crush tenacious racism under an avalanche of countervailing evidence.

But if you did believe the forbidden notion then you would be singing a different tune, more along the lines of Mrs. Robinson – “most all you’ve got to hide it from the kids.” Rather than reward excellence, you would celebrate diversity. Instead of encouraging competition you would focus on cooperation. Instead of raising standards, you would scrap them, denounce them, and label them mere cultural constructs.

Jefferson High is a golden opportunity disprove the forbidden notion. At Jefferson anyone with brains can excel. Race is not a factor. But rather than support its mission, the progressives want to -- need to – stamp it out. They don’t dare take the chance to disprove the horrible notion they believe is the truth.

Liberals believe “the forbidden notion.” They know it’s wrong and that’s why their policy recipes on issues of race come so heavily seasoned with self-loathing.

The rest of us who believe there is no organic difference between blacks and whites are left to scratch our heads and wonder, "what are they afraid of?"

Friday, May 10, 2002

Manufacturing Absurdity

Did anyone happen to catch the Washington Post’s fawning profile of Noam Chomsky in the Sunday Style section? Man, for a guy who’s supposed to be censored by the corporate media, he sure seems to get a lot of coverage.

Of course, Chomsky is a crank. He’s the L Ron Hubbard of our time. In a more coherent world he’d be loitering out front of the White House wearing a sandwich board covered in 10pt text and mumbling about an implanted homing device.

But in our oppressive police state, he’s a celebrity professor at one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, a prolific author, and the subject of a lengthy soft-focus article in a major newspaper.

Check out this passage:

Noam Chomsky believes in the redemptive power of logical thinking and coming to Chomskyan conclusions about the world. He is a white-hot contrarian, a distinguished linguist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who "tends to be quite conservative" and is devoted to "simple moral truisms."

Holy smokes! Censored? This guy isn’t even being questioned.

When Chomsky claims to be “quite conservative” what is that supposed to mean? Is he Pinochet-conservative? Kim il Sung-conservative? Stalin-conservative? What could the term “conservative” possibly mean to a man whose mind is so dense it is able to warp the very political spectrum.

Hell, if he thinks he’s “quite conservative,” what would he make of me? I must be like some sort of jackbooted trilobite, a mean-spirited Mesopotamian slave auctioneer, a particularly backward Coelacanth, a Moai from one of the less cosmopolitan parts of Easter Island.

A casual stroll through the Barnes & Noble on Union Square turns up no less than four different Chomsky books displayed on three floors. Yet, in any other country he’d be sharing a cell with Lyndon LaRouche.

God Bless America!

Thursday, May 09, 2002

One Picture vs. 681 Words

When I’m feeling confused and melancholy I seek solace in the Arab News. That, and The Onion, never fails to get me focussed and energized. For instance, how is the Fortuyn assassination playing out in Saudi Arabia? Well, let’s read the commentary in today’s online edition:

“There will be many in the Muslim world who on hearing the news of the assassination of the leader of the Dutch extreme right-wing movement will have felt some grim satisfaction. Pim Fortuyn was, after all, not merely a bigot who wanted to close the country’s doors to immigrants, he was an unashamed Islamophobe. This is the man who called Islam "backward", who believed that existing immigrants in the Netherlands (most of them Muslims) had to be integrated — by which he meant that they should be forced to abandon their Islamic beliefs and practices.”

This is rich coming as it does from a nation that gives building permits to Christian churches and Hooters franchises in equal numbers. A place where immigrants are either integrated or beheaded. For a Saudi “reporter” – actually no more an independent journalist than is the radio speaker built into the dashboard of my car – to call Pim Fortuyn an intolerant bigot is ironic on so many levels that it can only be explained through advanced quantum mechanics.

Arab News draws some troubling conclusions:

“He has opened a Pandora’s box that will not be closed. He has stripped away Dutch innocence and the result will be a cruder, more vicious brand of politics. It is not just that he has ensured that a thousand new Fortuyns spring up, hydra-like, in the wake of the dead leader, or that he has created a martyr who will be venerated by the far right across Europe — both of them appalling prospects. But by killing Fortuyn he has turned the entire Dutch political system on its head. Fortuyn will be seen as the victim, and those who opposed him as the bigots. That is an extremely frightening development.”

Yes, how unjust that a Dutch politician who lays dead because he spoke his mind is seen as a victim while the peace-loving non-bigots who found his views crude, vicious and extreme are tarred as hateful racists.

As if to punctuate this point is a cartoon that appears in part on the very same page as this plea for tolerance from the frenzied Dutch barbarians. And guess what? It’s a crude, viscous, bigoted caricature of a Jew dictating the words coming out of Uncle Sam’s mouth that would look quite at home on the pages of Der Sturmer.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Murdered by the Left

I have no inside information about the motives behind the Fortuyn assassination, but I do have an instinct (and recklessly sharing unsubstantiated information with the world is what blogging is all about).

My sense is that what passes for the Left in Europe is really just a coalition of divergent complaints. It's a negative force. All those demonstrators clogging the streets of Paris last week were not marching in favor of Chirac, they were opposed to Le Pen, or fascism, or war, or racism, or any number of generic "causes." That fact is, it's a lot easier to be against something than to be in favor of anything.

A key attraction to the Left is that it allows you to be concerned about the state of your world without requiring anything more than a mild feeling of indignation. For young people whose real concern is being cool and getting laid, being on the Left means you don't have to stick your neck out for anything and appear foolish. This hegemony is enforced by ridicule and peer pressure which is why liberalism is the default position for most people. To move to the right requires real effort and risk. That's why the most interesting political figures are those who made the journey from Left to Right and the most brain dead ones are those who have never questioned their liberal or conservative assumptions.

Fortuyn made that journey. He was a risk taker. He stuck his neck out. But on the national level that adolescent ridicule is a potent and potentially violent force. While most on the Left are just along for the ride and the music, some who have listened carefully and have fully digested the menu of hate and intolerance that Cafe Gauche is serving these days are likely to take matters to their logical conclusion.

You can't save the planet without breaking a few eggs. Pim Fortuyn was just the latest egg.

Maybe it's a stretch to say that the negativity that motivates the Left ultimately leads to hate and violence but . . . heck, that's why I have a blog.

The silver lining here may be a realization that what Fortuyn advocated was more thoughtful and nuanced than the "far-right-wing" or "fascist" labels imply. And perhaps this will lead to a more open and candid debate about the meaning of conservatism and liberalism in Europe.


According to Reuters, the assassin had radical environmentalist propaganda in his home:

Some newspapers said he was known to intelligence services as an ``extreme leftist,'' but Hofstee said: ``We do not use that term.''

Of course they don't use the term "extreme leftist." In much of Europe and the States, there is no such thing as the extreme Left. Certainly the political spectrum of Reuters stretches all the way from "extreme, right-wing, ultraconservative" on one side to "center-left" on the other. Is anyone else beginning to tire of this game whereby all dissent to the liberal orthodoxy is labeled "extreme?"


Pim Fortuyn, the charismatic neo-conservative Dutch politician is assassinated. Anyone care to link this to the Euro-hysteria regarding anything and anyone conservative? Fortuyn was no fascist. He made the conversion from Left to Right, a conversion that speaks volumes about a person's maturity and wisdom. He was therefore far more of a threat to the liberal elite than a buffoon like Le Pen.

Again the Left has demonstrated that it is more animated by what it is against than by what it is for. After all, with so many competing factions, who's to say what the Left stands in favor of anyway? Watch closely as the Left becomes the Far Right they claim to detest.

This is tragic.

Saturday, May 04, 2002

Watch Your Back, Yasser

Yesterday, The New York Times reported Yasser Arafat’s response to the news of the desecration taking place at the Church of the Nativity. In my opinion these are by far his most cogent and perceptive comments to date on the situation:

Mr. Arafat exploded in rage at the news from Bethlehem, shouting: "This is a crime! This is a crime!" and calling those who committed it "terrorists, Nazis and racists."

Finally the truth!

Well, not really. Arafat wasn’t talking about the scores of Palestinian gunman who have flaunted international law by turning a UNESCO-recognized cultural site into a heavily armed bunker for more than a month. No, he was talking about the Israelis, of course.

I guess he’s got to show some support for the death squads under siege. After all, he was under siege himself until he traded six of his associates for his own freedom.

What are the Palestinian true-believers to make of this sell out? After sending their sons and daughters on pointless kamikaze missions, after listening to Arafat beg to be martyred rather than set free, after a highly suspect “trial” of the assassins of the Israeli Tourism Minister in which Arafat himself served as both judge and jury, now comes the news that he threw in two of his own people who had not even been kangaroo-tried.

As a condition for lifting the siege in Ramallah, Israel demanded the handover of the leader of the PLFP, Ahmed Saadat and Fuad Shubaki who was behind the smuggling of 50 tons of weapons from Iran.

Arafat completely caved. Anything to get out of the house. I particularly love the official talking point that explains this betrayal.

"There is an agreement that we will send them to the jail, and then to the court, and then we will see if they are guilty," said Mr. Abdel Rahman.

That’s a nice succinct description of justice, Palestinian style – jail time first, then a trial, and after that we’ll determine your guilt or innocence. Presumably after that you’ll be forced to commit a crime.

Don’t get me wrong. Having these six in prison is a giant step toward a more peaceful world of chirping birds and frolicking puppy dogs.

But if I were Arafat, I’d watch my back.

Heck, if I were Arafat the very first thing would be to replace the lousy Norelco I got for Christmas in 1973. After that I’d take one hell of a long shower. Might even talk to a decent dermatologist about those troubling red spots.

But after all that, I would definitely be on the lookout for disgruntled martyr wannabes who realize it’s a fuck of a lot easier to blow up a hypocritical Nobel laureate right in the neighborhood than an encampment of Israeli border guards.

Behold the great Arab defect . . . they can’t trust each other.

Praise Allah for that.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Mayday! Mayday!

This is fun. It’s May Day so be a little civilly disobedient today by logging on to and posting a few fake events on their activist calendar like this one:

Title Progressives for Islamofascism
Location Sbarro’s Pizzeria on Irving Place
Speaker Heather Stalin
Sponsor Suckers for Peace

March in solidarity with the brutal Arab murderers who use religious fanaticism as a pretext for snuffing out the lives of innocent old people and children in the hope of some day violently replacing the tolerant liberal democracy called Israel with a vicious woman-hating theocracy where anyone with a gun and a chip on his shoulder can dictate the fates of his neighbors unless one of them happens to have a bigger gun, or wooden club, or a sharp rock or something. In any case, it’s what we’ve always been working toward, right?

It’s particularly amusing to schedule them a month or two in advance so the webmaster doesn’t discover them till it’s way too late.

Good clean fun.

PS. Looks like the webmaster is on to me. But in the words of the IRA assasins who failed to blow up Margaret Thatcher in Brighton, "You were lucky this time. But you have to be lucky every single time. We only need to be lucky once."

PSS. Today's hidden Google-busting search term is: Nike, Starbucks, No Logo, Naomi, Justice, social, fascism