Still alive here, a few pounds lighter. Sorry for the break but this stomach flu basically prevented me from functioning for a few days. I’m almost better and hope to be back blogging at full speed in a day or so. Thanks for your patience, but even bloggers get sick from time to time. In the interlude, here’s my review of Tony Hendra’s astonishing new spiritual memoir, “Father Joe.” And please don’t forget the best collection of essays, monographs, legal opinions, poetry, debate and comment on same-sex marriage. Here’s a reminder.

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I’ve been side-swiped by a nasty stomach virus. Will blog as soon as I feel better.


It’s grim, of course. Radical Islamism hates only Jews more than homosexuals. And the mullahs best even John Derbyshire in their bigotry:

Dr Muzammil Siddiqi, director of the Islamic Society of North America, says “homosexuality is a moral disease, a sin, a corruptionx85 No person is born homosexual, just as nobody is born a thief, a liar or a murderer. People acquire these evil habits due to a lack of proper guidance and education.” Sheikh Sharkhawy, a cleric at the prestigious London Central Mosque in Regentx92s Park, compares homosexuality to a “cancer tumour.” He argues “we must burn all gays to prevent paedophilia and the spread of AIDS,” and says gay people “have no hope of a spiritual life.” The Muslim Educational Trust hands out educational material to Muslim teachers x96 intended for children! x96 advocating the death penalty for gay people, and advising Muslim pupils to stay away from gay classmates and teachers.

What staggers me is how silent the gay establishment is about these obscenities. If a religious right figure had said them, there would be hell to pay. But the multi-culti left still has a stranglehold on official gay discourse and won’t condemn Islamist bigotry. Why not? These mullahs are fanning the flames of anti-gay violence with literally incendiary rhetoric. Burn gays? Yep, that’s what the cleric said.

ANOTHER SOLDIER EMAIL: I was sent this first-hand report of a soldier currently on leave from Iraq:

Anyway, he said that he refuses to watch the news coverage of what’s happening over there. He said that the things they show are true but that the media blows everything out of proportion and makes it look like it’s total chaos all of the time. He said that for the most part it’s quiet and boring. And he has been in downtown Baghdad for a year in the middle of it all! He said that it’s really like an inner city that has a lot of gang activity. The people that live there are happy that the troops are there and are very friendly and supportive (women and girls always blowing kisses, men waving and smiling!) They point out the “bad guys” and call them “Ali Baba”! He said that so much has changed for the good over there. Kids are back in school, adults suddenly have internet access and telephones where before they had no way of knowing what was happening in the outside world. Businessmen are tearing down old falling apart mud and stone buildings and building real businesses. J has learned some basic Iraqi including writing their alphabet (which is basically symbols written from right to left) and he has in turn taught English to some of the Iraqi’s. As much as he doesn’t want to go back, he sees how much the Iraqi’s need help and wants them to be successful. He said that he can see them becoming a thriving country within the next 10 years. He said that all of the troops that he knows are very supportive of what Pres. Bush is doing but that Donald Rumsfeld is another story. No one seems to like him at all for a lot of different reasons.

Yep. Most of the country is “quiet and boring.” I’m sure it is. If you watched the evening news in DC, and never lived here, you’d have a similar impression. I live at a center of drug and gang activity and yet for the most part, life goes on. Baghdad is obviously much more dangerous; but the notion that it is descending into chaos as we speak just isn’t borne out by the facts.


From Fallujah, a grisly scene:

On Sunday, for example, scores of masked mujahedeen, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is Great,” paraded four men stripped down to their underpants atop the back of a pickup truck that drove through the city. Their bare backs were bleeding from 80 lashes they had received as punishment for selling alcohol. They were taken to a hospital where they were treated and released. Residents said a man found intoxicated last week was flogged, held overnight and released the next day.

Funny. I haven’t seen those photos in the media anywhere.

WHERE’S THE DIFFERENCE? The major papers today are highlighting what they say is a major difference between the UK and the US on Iraqi sovereignty after June 30. Chief among them is the New York Times’ <a href = http

// target = _blank>Patrick Tyler, who claims to read a difference between Tony Blair’s and Colin Powell’s statements. (This was also BBC World TV’s lead story.) Blair said: “If there’s a political decision as to whether you go into a place like Falluja in a particular way, that has got be done with the consent of the Iraqi government.” He elaborated:

That’s what the transfer of sovereignty means. That doesn’t mean to say that our troops are going to be ordered to do something that our troops don’t want to do. The political control shifts, the operational issues have to be decided under various agreements… It may be decided on an operation-to-operation basis.

Powell, for his part, said that “we would take into account whatever” Iraqi officials say “at a political and military level,” but if the American military had to act “in a way that might not be in total consonance with what the Iraqi interim government might want to do at a particularly moment in time, U.S. forces remain under U.S. command and will do what is necessary to protect themselves.” I’m sorry but where is the big difference? Both Blair and Powell seem to me to be saying exactly the same thing. (Cheney might wish for something else.) The Washington Post offers the following construction: Powell “phrased the issue differently.” Different phraseology is now a major split in the alliance? Obviously, coalition forces, if attacked or in danger, will not ask the new Iraqi government for permission to defend themselves. But equally, offensive operations, especially if they have delicate political repercussions, will be cleared by the future Iraqi government. That’s what Powell and Blair both said. (The BBC, of course, edited Powell’s quote so that it didn’t include the final, contextual phrase: “and will do what is necessary to protect themselves.” Just when I thought they were improving.)


There are plenty of reasons to worry about Iraq. There are also many valid criticisms of the occupation. But I have yet to read any cogent criticism that offers any better future plan than the one president Bush outlined Monday night. John Kerry’s plaintive cries to “internationalize” the transition are so vacuous they barely merit attention. The transition is already being run by the U.N.; very few countries have the military capacity to cooperate fully with the coalition, and few want to; quicker elections would be great, but very difficult to pull off on a national level before the end of the year. So what are Bush’s opponents proposing? More troops now? But wouldn’t that undercut the message of transferring sovereignty to the Iraqis? A sudden exit of all troops? But no one – apart from right-wing and leftwing extremists – thinks that’s a wise move. Giving a future Iraqi government a veto power over troop activities? Done, according to Blair. The truth is: Bush’s plan is about as good as we’re likely to get. And deposing a dictator after decades of brutal rule could never have led immediately to insta-democracy. Do I wish we had had more troops at the start to maintain more order? You bet. Do I wish incompetence had not allowed Abu Gjraib to happen? Of course. But none of that would have prevented the Baathists and Jihadists from wreaking havoc. Do I wish the original war had been bloodier so that the real battle with Saddam’s henchmen could have been joined all at once rather than over a long year of low-level conflict? Er, no. Remember what our anti-war friends predicted at the outset? That the battle for Baghdad could cost up to 10,000 Coalition casualties? I’m quite happy that didn’t happen. 800 deaths is bad enough. What I’m saying, I guess, is that as long as the anti-war critics continue relentless negativism without any constructive alternative, they will soon lose the debate. Americans want to know how to move this war forward, not why we shouldn’t have started it in the first place. Right now, the president has the best plan for making this work. What does anyone else have?

EMAIL OF THE DAY: “OK damn you and your infernal blog suggestions – I’ve taken to riding my bike to work everyday. It’s a 26 mile round trip journey. You’re to blame for my weight loss, increased libido, extra energy at work and a reduction in petrol expenditures. You bastard. Gas Tax? Go for it – I rarely use the stuff any more.” – More feedback on the Letters Page.


Curiouser and curiouser.


HARD ROCK VS. CHOMSKY: Here’s a delightful interview with rock star, John Schaffer, of the heavy metal group, Iced Earth, by a young Chomsky-reading Canadian leftist for the online magazine, Brave Words and Brass Knuckles. Money quote:

BW&BK: “This next question is controversial so I’m letting you know before we proceed. Some political analysts have articulated the view that what happened on September 11 was justified due to America’s presence in the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia. Some political analysts view it as retaliation for what the US has done in the Middle East in the past. As a Canadian, I’m interested in hearing what you have to say about this view that’s been put forth by analysts.”

JS: “No, it wasn’t justified. Not at all. And anybody who says so needs to have their fuckin’ head examined.”

BW&BK: “Do you think 9/11xa0will bexa0viewed as the first event in the US empire’s decline and fall?”

JS: “No. This is not an empire, first of all. Ifxa0the United Statesxa0was an empire, your country would be our 51st state.”

BW&BK: “I understand.”

No he doesn’t understand. Read the whole thing. Parts of it are marvelous.