Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech -- Update

Here are two plays supposedly written by the Va. Tech shooter, Cho Seung-Hui. They are very very sick, to say the least. Now that I've looked at these -- they are unreadable -- I think I must retract the conjecture I put forward below. This was just a sick sick child who needed a lot of help that a large public university just isn't equipped to give. Perhaps he adopted some symbolism or vernacular from Islam or Islamist radicalism as part of his personal mythology. But this was a boy who was far gone into madness, not an ideologue. At least that's how it seems to me on the data we have so far. We may learn more. Or we may know everything we will ever know already.... that an evil thing erupted into the world for no reason.

Virginia Tech Shooter and "Ismail"

Fox News is reporting the following about the Virginia Tech shooter:

Sources told the Tribune that the words "ISMAIL AX" were also found written in red ink on the inside of one of Cho's arms.

The reference may be to the Biblical sacrifice of Abraham, in which God commands the patriarch to sacrifice his own son. Abraham begins to comply, but God intervenes at the last moment to save the boy. In the Jewish and Christian traditions, the son is Isaac, father of the Jewish people; in Islam, it is his older half-brother, Ismail (Ishmael in Hebrew).

Abraham uses a knife in most versions of the story, but some accounts have him wielding an ax.

A more obscure reference may be to a passage in the Koran referring to Abraham's destruction of pagan idols; in some accounts, he uses an ax to do so.

It took me about five seconds to google "Ismail Ax" and come up with this site, on IslamiCity.com, which is essentially a retelling of the story of Ibrahim (Abraham) from an Islamic perspective. Ismail is elsewhere (on Wikipedia) referred to as the father of the Arab people. I note too that Cho apparently entered the U.S. when his family emigrated through Detroit, Michigan. Now, there are a lot of places to come into America if you're coming from South Korea. Why exactly would Cho have decided to enter in a city that has the highest concentration of Arab-Americans? Were his family Muslims? Was he a Muslim convert?

It is far too early to call this a terrorist incident. But it is also far too early to start dismissing the incident as the work of a "crazed" gunman, as I expect the mainstream media will do. As the wags said after 9/11, why didn't someone "connect the dots"?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Iranian Hostage Crisis Redux

Powerline makes a brilliant point today about the Iranian hostage crisis:

"[T]hese uniformed British servicemen (and woman), unlike captured terrorists, are entitled to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention, which Iran has signed. Pretty much every aspect of their treatment has violated the Convention: a video showing them in captivity has been filmed and played on television, they have been "interrogated," in Iran's own description, and are now being held incommunicado in an undisclosed location. Has anyone noticed any outcry from the "world community" about this? Does the Geneva Convention apply to anyone other than the U.S.?"

Monday, March 05, 2007

Ann Coulter

I'm not blogging on Ann Coulter, and you can't make me.

I do have to say, however, that there is some illogic in the position that some have taken that says, well, look at Bill Maher and what he said about the assassination attempt against Dick Cheney, that's just as bad.

1. Two wrongs, if I recall, do not make a right.
2. Maher was speaking on TV as a TV host. He's a jerk, but he's a jerk without portfolio. Coulter was speaking at an important Republican event, the CPAC convention, at which, not incidentally, all but one of the major Republican Presidential candidates spoke. There is a difference between a bear shitting in the woods and a bear shitting in your living room.

Republicans need to be cleaner than Democrats. Partly that is tactical -- given the MSM biases, we have to be cleaner, or they'll make us look dirtier. But mostly it is just a moral point -- when the political language becomes debased, the culture will become debased. Conservatives are supposed to stand against the debasement of culture and for seriousness. We are the adult party. We're supposed to do better than this.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hello again!

Well, hello again. Haven't blogged for awhile -- work, family, work, family, work, work, work... you know the drill -- but I'm back.

Here is a picture that belies the Angry Left's vision of Dubya. I know what they will say... this is all a photo-op, this is just a way of making sure that he doesn't get "Katrina-ed" by the Alabama tornados. There is, of course, this sort of cynicisn in politics, but there is also real compassion, real humanity. Wouldn't our political culture be better for everyone if we let our default assumption be the good intentions of others, even our opponents? I believe in the President's good intentions, here, in Iraq, in everything. But, even if I didn't, wouldn't my criticisms of him -- if I were a Man of the Left, which I'm not -- wouldn't they be more substantive if I assumed that he was acting honorably for what he believed to be good ends?
Just a thought.

Friday, September 08, 2006


I am with James Lileks. I don't much care that the Clinton administration paid little attention to the jihadist threat. Not many people were paying attention back then, myself included. As Lileks, puts it: "Just so you know: 9/11 reset the clock for me. All hands went to midnight. I’m interested in what people did after that date..." By this standard, the Democratic Party ca. 2006 is an abysmal failure: opposed to the NSA surveillance program, opposed to detaining al Qaeda combatants at Guantanamo and opposed to trying them in military tribunals, opposed to the war in Iraq, etc., etc.

But I can't get too worked up about the Dems trying to keep ABC from showing their TV movie docudrama, "The Path to 9/11." It's a TV show. It's not supposed to be historically accurate and, frankly, very few people are going to watch it -- I'll bet if it gets a 15 rating they'll say it's a "hit," but that's a lot less than any Tony Danza comedy's worst night. The Dems just look silly protesting it, and we should let them look silly and laugh at them.

But I do think it is humorous to consider a parallel. Here, ABC is going to broadcast a movie that has political implications two months before an important election and Democrats have threatened their broadcast license. In 2004, CBS broadcast a "news" story -- the story about President Bush's military service that led to Rathergate -- that had political implications two months before an important election. Can you imagine what the MSM would have done if Republicans had threatened CBS' broadcast license?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Plamegate Flames Out

The Washington Post's editorial board, which, because of the New York Times' descent over the past few years into partisanship and paranoia, now reigns as the center of the MSM universe and a source (albeit left-leaning) of what remains of serious, responsible, adult, mainstream journalism, has now officially put the Valerie Plame "scandal" to sleep. Here is today's article. Here is the money quote:

...all those who have opined on this affair ought to take note of the not-so-surprising disclosure that the primary source of the newspaper column in which Ms. Plame's cover as an agent was purportedly blown in 2003 was former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage.

Mr. Armitage was one of the Bush administration officials who supported the invasion of Iraq only reluctantly. He was a political rival of the White House and Pentagon officials who championed the war and whom Mr. Wilson accused of twisting intelligence about Iraq and then plotting to destroy him. Unaware that Ms. Plame's identity was classified information, Mr. Armitage reportedly passed it along to columnist Robert D. Novak "in an offhand manner, virtually as gossip," according to a story this week by the Post's R. JeffreySmith, who quoted a former colleague of Mr. Armitage.

It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame's identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue.

One question: Where does Scooter Libby go to get his reputation back?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

More on San Francisco Terrorism

Fox News may be marginally more centrist than other news outlets, and it may employ more conservative commentators, but it suffers from the same blind spots as the rest of the MSM, probably because it inevitably must employ on its low-level staff -- i.e., the writers for their Internet site -- young men and women fresh out of Journalism School, who will skew left, and also because, like all of the MSM, relies on the Associated Press for reporting news. Here is the Fox News report on the San Francisco terror attack, which is essentially the same AP report from other outlets recycled.

The report repeats the meme that has dominated coverage of this story so far. That meme is that Omeed Aziz Popal ran over 14 people because he was "crazed" or "deranged." The mayor of San Francisco,
Gavin Newsom, augments the meme by mouthing the typical bland pablum of the elite:

"These are the things, these are so senseless. They're utterly inexplicable. They're impossible to rationalize," Newsom said afterward. "The fact that this individual felt compelled for whatever reason to be determined to do what he did is beyond imagination."

But this story is not "utterly inexplicable." There appears to be a fairly simple explanation sitting right there in the same story. Here is what we do know as facts:

1. Omeed Aziz Popal's family is from Afghanistan.
2. Popal recently had an arranged marriage.
3. Popal's arranged marriage was in Afghanistan.
4. Popal recently returned from Afghanistan.
5. His family suggests that he was "under pressure" in Afghanistan.
6. Popal chose to run down people in front of the Jewish Community Center and in the most heavily Jewish area of San Francisco.
7. All of this is happening as the worldwide jihadist segment of Islam has been roiled by Iran's brinksmanship on nuclear weapons development and by the Hezbollah-Israel "war."

Now, don't the MSM always complain that President Bush "failed to connect the dots" before 9/11? Are these dots that hard to connect?
Is it too much to ask that the media simply ask Mayor Newsom to comment on these possible connections? To ask whether his office has been in contact with the Homeland Security Department or the FBI about Popal? That's how the MSM makes news in other circumstances... they ask public figures to comment about things. Don't they have any curiosity about what the answer might be?

Imagine if a Christian fundamentalist had run down 14 people in a predominantly gay area of San Francisco after just returning from a trip to, say, Mississippi where his family says he was "under pressure." Just imagine what curiosity the MSM could summon then.

UPDATE: According to the website, jihadwatch.org, Popal identified himself to police as a terrorist. Why exactly hasn't that filtered by now into the MSM?