Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The BVD Bomber: Quote of the Day

"If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?

"We are headed toward the moment when screeners will watch watch-listers sashay through while we have to come to the airport in hospital gowns, flapping open in the back."

--Maureen Dowd, in her New York Times column today, "As the Nation’s Pulse Races, Obama Can’t Seem to Find His." Ed Morrissey wonders whether Obama "has lost Maureen Dowd." Read the whole thing. (HT: Instapundit.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from The Hedgehog Blog

Once again, the words from my very favorite Christmas carol, "What Sweeter Music," by Robert Herrick (1591-1674). The most famous musical composition using these words is by John Rutter.

The lyric rewards effort and bears reading and re-reading, both silently and aloud:

What Sweeter Music

What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this day,
That sees December turned to May.

Why does the chilling winter’s morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like a meadow newly-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden? Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
‘Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To heaven, and the under-earth.

We see him come, and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the heart.

Which we will give him; and bequeath
This holly, and this ivy wreath,
To do him honour, who’s our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?

I wish a blessed Christmas to all.

Lowell Brown

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

John Bolton: Why British Courts Issued a Warrant for Tzipi Livni, not Kim Jong Il

In today's Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal online, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton analyses why "human rights activists" employ universal jurisdiction to try to haul politicians from Western democracies into the docket (such as the warrant British courts issued last week for the arrest of former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, for "crimes against humanity" in Gaza), but tyrants and terrorists are immune.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ancient Greek Tablet Found In Israel Substantiates Chanukah Story

Archeologists have recently pieced together an entire Seleucid Greek tablet, fragments of which were discovered at different times at Tel Maresha in the Beit Guvrin National Park in Israel. The translated tablet, dating back to 178 B.C.E., is a decree by the Syrian Greek King Seleucus IV (187-175 BCE) to the ruling leadership in Judea, declaring the appointment of one Olympiodorus to begin collecting taxes from the temples of all the provinces of Coele-Syria (later Palestine and Israel) and Phoenecia (along the Mediterranean coast of modern day Lebanon), including the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This policy marked a radical change in the relationship between the Seleucid Empire and Judea, as the Empire had not previously attempted to tax the Jews or their Temple.

The tablet substantiates the account in the Book of Maccabees II, which recounts the events leading up to the Maccabean revolt. Maccabees II relates how a Seleucid official, whom it calls Heliodorus, came to the Temple in Jerusalem to seize funds from its treasury, and was forcibly expelled.

Ironically, if you look for the Books of the Maccabees in a Jewish Bible, the Tanach, you will not find it. Those books are part of the apochrypha, texts that did not "make the cut" when the Men of the Great Assembly designated the Jewish canonical texts sometime between 400 and 200 B.C.E. The events described in the Books of the Maccabees had not even occurred by then, and of course were written down, in Greek and Hebrew, much later. The Talmud is the authoritative ancient Jewish text describing how and why the Jewish sages decreed the festival of Chanukah. While the Books of the Maccabees may not be a sacred Jewish text, the Greek tablet suggests that its account may have some historical validity.

What I found most fascinating, and resonating for our own time, is that the Seleucid Empire may have precipitated the Maccabean revolt by overspending, which led it to raise taxes. Did Chanukah begin as a tax revolt? Tea party organizers and President Obama, pay heed!

As for myself, I may grumble about my taxes and the Obama Administration's policies, but I love my country and obey its laws, and if my taxes go up, I will pay them.

Happy Chanukah!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hamas Terrorists Launch Russian Anti-Tank Missiles at Kibbutz Alumim in Negev

This news story strikes home, so to speak. Today, terrorists from Hamas-controlled Gaza launched Russian anti-tank missiles over the fence separating Gaza from Israel. The missiles hit the fields of Kibbutz Alumim. The Kosher Hedgehog and his then new bride lived and worked at Kibbutz Alumim as volunteers in the summer and fall of 1977. I worked in the fields where the rockets fell today.

The terrorists used Russian S5K anti-tank missiles for the first time. These are air-to-ground missiles, normally launched from a helicopter, and carry a larger payload and have a longer range than the anti-tank missiles commonly fired by Gaza terrorists at Israel.

Kibbutz Alumim is a farming community of about seventy families and a total population of 390. So about 250 residents are children. The kibbutz belongs to the religious Zionist Bnei Akiva movement, and its residents are modern Orthodox Jews, like the Kosher Hedgehog. It was founded in 1966 (before Israel captured any Arab lands in the June 1967 War) and is situated entirely within the 1949 ceasefire lines to which the Arabs demand Israel withdraw. It is a purely civilian target, except, of course, that to the Palestinian terrorists every civilian is a military target.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Distinguished Professor of Meteorology Makes the Case for Scientific Skepticism on Global Warming

Richard S. Lindzen is a distinguished professior of meteorology at MIT. On Nov. 30 he published a column in the Wall Street Journal on the scientific case for skepticism over global warming activism. It is the best statement of that case that I have seen. It is based on the fact, which not even global warming activists now challenge, that there has been no discernible increase in the globally averaged temperature anomaly (GATA) --the principal measure of global temperature--since 1998, after a measured GATA increase of 1.5 degrees F since the middle of the 19th century when the industrial revolution began.

His article is detailed and requires intensive effort to understand. I had to read and re-read several sections before I fully understood what Dr. Lindzen was saying. However, I found his arguments to be compelling. His critique is particularly devastating on the flaws in the modelling used by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other global warming activists to make the case for CO2-caused global warming fit the absence of evidence for the climate mechanisms that their theory requires; namely high CO2 sensitivity or the existence of the so-called positive feedback loop.

The reaction of global warming activists to this article are predictable. They will dismiss Professor Lindzen as a tool of the energy companies. Because the article appeared in the Wall Street Journal, they will dismiss it as a shill piece promoted by corporate America.

Ask yourself whether you believe that the case for global warming is strong enough to justify the loss of national sovereignty and the economic burden on developed and developing economies that an international cap and trade regime would require.