Just A Note

Everyone please remember to ADJUST YOUR LINKS! Again, the new site is: www.deadends.net .



No more non-working permalinks! No more random, ill-timed outages! No more of that stupid hyperlink insertion button that NEVER LINKS THE TEXT YOU @#$%ING HIGHLIGHT!!! Err. Sorry.

As of this post, The World's Most Confused Jew is no more...in weblog form, anyway. It's been fun, but it'll be even more fun over at the new digs; please head over to deadends.net and see my blog v2.0. And again, many thanks to new blogfather Dean Esmay for his work in making this happen.


Type, type, type..."@#*$"

This is generally how my day has gone. Dean, to my shock and pleasure, got the new site up and running in something more like 18 hours instead of the promised 72. But now, it's my turn to make the site look like I want it to; on my meager HTML skills and nonexistant CSS ones, this hasn't been easy. There have been a lot of catastrophic "Shit, that wasn't supposed to happen" moments over the past couple of hours. Nevertheless, I'm hacking away at this thing and should have it running tomorrow...hopefully.

Great Cartoon

On Israel, over at the Israpundit. Though I'm sticking to my line that Israel's rediscovered taste for retaliation isn't doing anything for them.

Things I'm Definitely Going to do at Law School

Click here for the best book-disposal method known to man. In fact, if I learn how to shoot by the time I graduate, this is going to become a semesterly event, methinks.


On the Clock

Thanks to the help of Dean Esmay, who I will be praising loudly and often over the next few days, and his Blogspot Jihad, this blog's days are numbered. In 72 hours, I'll be up and running with MT on my own domain *chorus of angels sing in the background*. I'd say that there's a clock keeping count on the sidebar, but true to form, Blogger isn't even letting me view my own damned page at the moment; this can only be some sick form of revenge.

Do your worst, Blogspot! We beat you, anyway! Mwahahahahahaha....


Well, there goes the peace. But we expected that. More importantly, there goes Israel's chance to make the right reaction: no reaction at all.

Some of the blogosphere is happy that Israel retaliated so quickly, but for once I'm not going along. The thing to do here was to ignore the attacks and press on. We saw glimmers of this recently, but that faded with the infamous botched assassination that prompeted this latest attack. This is a sentiment that chafes against every instinct I've got, and for a number of reasons: it could be seen as unduly weak by both sides; it does nothing in the immediate short-term; the bastards deserve their deaths; it would undoubtedly be exploited by Hamas and company as a free pass to continue bombings. But that last point is the important one. The bombings would go on, guaranteed. These groups are after the destruction of Israel via suicide bombing, not a peaceful settlement. And with Israel doing its best keep at the peace table and ignore them no matter how severe the pain, this would become obvious even to the most ardent apologists. Israel has a massive PR stroke and peace process turning point waiting whenever it wants it, and it's high time to take it.

Early Morning

Laura Ingraham was sparring with Bernie on this morning's Imus and hit on an interesting point: when we do find whatever we do in Iraq, is it going to be enough for Paul Krugman types? She thinks not, and I'm with her all the way on this one.

Blegging Time

Thanks to Dean Esmay's recent jihad against Blogspot, I'm extremely close to moving to my own domain and MT. And when I mean close, I'm talking 48 hours and twenty bucks, so this is basically inevitable (Don't worry, this isn't a bleg for money).

That having been said, I need a blog title/domain name but quick. My current favorite is deadends.net -- that's part of my idea for the soon-to-be-new title, the whole of which, for the extremely curious, can be found as the title for a previous popular post -- but I'm not sold on it, and, as Dean e-mailed, you want to be damned sure of your URL before you're stuck with it. So, if you've got ideas, they'd be greatly appreciated. Like my blog? Got a creative friend? Let him/her know, too! Time is of the essence and I need some witty ideas!


From the Corner

Ramesh Ponnuru has some of the smarter things to be said about California politics vis a vis the Republicans:

Rather than look for gimmicks or celebrity saviors, the California GOP ought to be recruiting a strong challenger to Barbara Boxer. She should be beatable next year, as she will presumably not have the strong top-of-the-ticket help she got from Clinton in 1992 and Davis in 1998. Opposition to her is one of the great unifying forces in the state's fractious Republican party, and beating her would be the first step to rebuilding.

Very true. And it bears noting that this applies equally to the author of everyone's new favorite autobiography as well, something that the national GOP fortunately seems to know.

The real question is finding a candidate. Doug Ose, unfortunately, is out. And those who are talking Arnie in 2004 need to remember that he's only a means to an end. Getting him the governorship to give the California GOP some teeth is a great idea; in the Senate, he'd be voting with Arlen Specter at best, but more likely with the blue dog set. With justices to nominate, no thanks. Larry Elder seems to be a similarly bad choice. For one, I doubt anyone can get away with speaking their mind plainly and winning public office, so his radio show precludes that. Also, he used to be a libertarian until very recently.

Anyone familiar with left-coast politics, feel free to drop a comment on likely candidates.



Mary Louis White, you are awesome!

I knew this wishlist was gonna pay off! I just walked outside to find a wonderful package from Amazon waiting for me. Many, many thanks to Mary Lou, who generously used her ill-gotten gains hard-earned cash to get me a copy of Alfred Thayer Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power Upon History. My Naval Science instructors would be so proud.

If anyone knows Mary Lou personally, be sure to shower her with loud and gratutious public praise for me.

A Little More on Israel

Eliana posted the text of an old Chaim Herzog speech on Israeli settlements. It's an interesting read, and relevant, but bears some serious scrutiny.

While posting the link, Eliana asks "Are the Israeli Settlements the Problem?" The Problem? No. Anyone who tells you that settlements are the root of Israeli-Palestinian problems is likely clutching at straws for a terrorism apology. By the same token, anyone who says that settlements are a non-issue is similarly nuts (or, alternately, a member of Shinui). The whole issue belongs in that category of Matters That Need To Be Conceded To The Other Side, a la the aforementioned right to return. No matter the individual position on settlements, it's fairly safe to say that no peace will be achieved without doing away with settlements. Just like no peace will be achieved unless the right to return is abandoned. This is what Rabin got, and what Sharon, however reluctantly and behind the curve, seems to be warming up to.

Creases In the Road Map

It seems like Abu Mazen is about to lose what was left of his credibility with the Israelis. By my count, the road map has been proceeding about as well as anyone could have hoped for, i.e. it hasn't been a non-starting train wreck. A lot of that has to do with the fact that both Sharon and Mazen have been agreeing to fairly impressive concessions. The follow-up is obviously going to be much more difficult than the rhetoric, but the talk is there for the first time since Oslo. At least until this:

But some experts are also asking whether Mr. Abbas has been crippled by the events of the last few days, and whether he is a viable partner for peace even if Israel is fully prepared to carry through on its side. In what may be a sign of the difficulties he faces, Mr. Abbas, who normally shuns publicity, plans to hold a news conference on Monday. He is expected to commit himself to many goals important to Palestinians but omitted from his Aqaba speech, such as the right of return for Palestinian refugees and the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

If this is true, it's unequivocally the end of the road map. Supporting the right of return is a denial of Israel's right to exist, period; even if you don't believe that, that's the way Israelis view the situation. Mazen's concessions seemed viable up to this point because he looked willing to smooth over, if not drop, the right of return and deal with Isreal as an equal partner. If he starts pandering to his "base" (read: the extremists who might take a shot at him if he doesn't) now, he'll already be going the way of Arafat as far as Sharon is concerned.


God Hates Me, Cont'd

Yeah, so guess who's out of a house again? This is the end of my run in DC for what is < sarcasm > clearly the best summer ever < /sarcasm >. The next time I show up, it'll be from the sunny and terminally boring confines of the good old family home in Connecticut. Until then, I certainly hope everyone else is finding a stable roof over their heads for more than two days at a time.


At Least Tom Friedman Gets It

In a backhanded sort of way. Friedman's latest opens up nicely enough:

The failure of the Bush team to produce any weapons of mass destruction (W.M.D.'s) in Iraq is becoming a big, big story. But is it the real story we should be concerned with? No. It was the wrong issue before the war, and it's the wrong issue now.

Exactly. Kind of. No, the WMD issue wasn't the base reason to go to war, but no, it wasn't the "wrong" reason. That the idea that Iraq was pursuing, or might have been pursuing, or could have agressively pursued WMDs was a probably accurate but highly ancillary justification doesn't somehow invalidate that whole line of thinking. And this is basically the gist of the rest of the piece: Friedman generally nails the basic issue - Iraq was about effecting necessary change in the Middle East - but skews the details based on false assumptions - Bush and his advisors played a dishonest shell game running up to the war.

I hardly agree with his classfications of the reasons for the war; what he calls the "real" and "right" reasons for the war are pretty much inseperable. He turns really, really preachy for a stretch. And, of course, there is the usual barely restrained paranoia about "the neocons". But on the overarching point, Friedman gets it, and its nice to see that he does.


Rachel Lucas recently wrote a post that I think is a must-read. It's one of her myriad WWII-related musings, and she brings up some interesting points about Jews resisting the Germans, which alone make it worth reading. What caught my eye, though, was the fact that a movie called Conspiracy set her to writing.

Conspiracy is a movie that HBO made a couple of years ago. Some friends know that it's my favorite movie of all time; I noticed a couple of minutes ago that there's a copy out on my desk right now. It is, in my opinion, amazingly well acted and has a stunning cast (Kenneth Branagh, Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, to name some). It is also possibly the most frightening movie I have ever watched.

The movie is an account of the Wannsee Conference, the meeting where the SS essentially railroaded the rest of the German government into accepting their particular version of the Final Solution. Accordingly, there are nasty roles to be played. Kenneth Branagh plays Reinhard Heydrich, the SS general who was in charge of implementing the extermination of the Jews. Stanley Tucci is Adolf Eichmann, a role that should give people chills just by hearing the name. Colin Firth plays the man who wrote the Nuremburg Laws. For two hours, they do nothing other than sit at a table, poring over charts and figures on the most efficient manner of death, discussing the merits of forced labor versus execution, and, in Firth's case, giving a frightening, convincing speech about the need to respect the law in the elimination of the Jews; he delivers it with what is seemingly total and well-reasoned conviction. "Do they even have a hell?" one actor asks of the Jews. "They do now. We provide it," says Branagh. This is, of course, in between compliments on the quality of the food and drink. It is "the banality of evil" in a stunningly vivid nutshell.

I should probably be repulsed by this movie that sent Rachel Lucas into a rage, but I watch it over and over again. I find it fascinating in the same way that I love Robert J. Harris' Fatherland, a book in which Nazi Germany essentially wins WWII and achieves a Jew-free Europe. Of course, I marvel at the acting/writing and get immersed in the plot, etc. But, frighteningly, I always start to laugh at the witty lines and sympathize with some characters and get impatient along with the hard-liners, nodding inward approval at their skill at cowing opposition; and my subconscious screams Holy shit, they're all talking about conquering Europe and murdering millions and making jokes about sterilizing children !! What are you doing?!?! And that's what really makes this movie unnerving. The truly scary part about evil isn't showing it or getting people to portray it with accuracy, but getting someone else - even a Jew! - to play along and treat it like just another conversation.

I always come back and watch Conspiracy, but never without trepidation. And for precisely that reason, I reccomend it to everyone. It sparks different reactions, but I present it as a reminder that there are ways to nearly convince even the victim of the myth that kills him. In any case, it is guaranteed to be a powerful film.


New Layout...Again...

Bear with me while I work on yet another new layout; the switch was inspired by Eliana the Yale Diva, whose blog everyone should take a look at. It's both a great read and another piece of my ongoing Yale obsession.

Comments are appreciated, and anyone who knows how to make the blog item title thing in the new-version-of-Blogger layouts work correctly, please let me know so I can un-jury rig my code.



I've got an apartment!! And damn, am I lazy: I've rearranged my room so that I can vegetate on the bed, keyboard and optical mouse on my lap, and surf/blog without moving any more than a finger to click on webpages.

And on that note, it's officially summer.



Apropos good stuff from NRO today, Jonah Goldberg has a great piece on the aforementioned NYT Magazine campus conservatives piece. Commentary to follow post-plane ride.
Back! Kinda.

Well, I've got housing, but won't be moving in permanently until Sunday. In the meantime, I'll be back in Connecticut and well within the loving embrace of the household LAN for the weekend, so blogging is back on track.

A note in the interim: Andrew Stuttaford notes that Saturday is "World No Tobacco Day". We both heartily urge you to grab the largest cigar you can find and do irrevocable damage to your lungs. If you missed Buy a Gun for Michael Moore Day, here's your low(er) cost chance to make up for it!


Short-Term Outage

As my summer housing refugee status becomes larger and larger, I'm now moving again. Hence, no clue when the computer will be set up and available again for blogging. Hopefully I'll have a roof permanently over my head and a cable line to use by the end of the week. Seeya then!


Open Minds on the Left

This week's New York Times Magazine has a long article on campus conservatives, notably the Bucknell Conservatives Club. I haven't read the article yet, and I don't imagine it's anything earth-shattering; the now-legendary Time article on the Cal Patriot seemed to do things justice in the span of a page.

What's worthwhile to note is the discussion board that was set up along with the piece. The first entry, which is sadly relatively mild, is telling:

I feel sorry for the poor deluded children. Hopefully, college will help them become free-thinkers, and help them move away from the facist political beliefs they espouse.

The irony of referencing "free-thinkers" becomes pretty evident as posters launch a universal ad hominem Shock and Awe campaign. Nearly every post either refers to the BCC students as Nazis or Hitler Youth, or goes the "what a bunch of losers" route, or just decides that calling President Bush "TURDBOY" covers everything. Or, frequently, all three. Hell, there's everything to be found besides actually addressing an argument.

Now, who's doing the "crushing of dissent" again?
Shameless Panhandling for Reading Material

OK, I finally caved and made the obligatory Amazon wishlist, since it seems to be working nicely for Jared over at The Politiblog. I'll be posting a link on the sidebar; any and all generous souls are welcome to help keep my attempts at educational self-improvement properly funded. If you really like what you see here, you can help finance my budding career as a second-rate amateur photographer!

To those who might be considering it, I thank you profusely in advance. With broke college student budgets and schedules, it's not easy to find the time or money for pleasure reading. Now that I've at least got the time, I want to make the most of the chance. If you feel inclined to help, it's greatly, greatly appreciated.
Since I Didn't Mention It Before

Guess who got to see Dubya himself at The President's Dinner on Wednesday? Oh, yeah, and I've even got the cheap t-shirt to prove it!

Since it's late and I'm lazy, I'll be adding more about the evening when I get the pictures back from the group disposable camera we interns chipped in for. A synopsis: tons of people, all the free booze you could want, and a GREAT speech (I saw it! Live! hehehehehehhe). There's definitely something about watching it with your own eyes and hearing the voice echo off the walls. For those fifteen minutes, I was a Believer. Truth, Justice, The American Way, and a 5,000 dollar donation to the NRCC. Good thing I don't have the money to donate.
On the Death of the New York Times

That title is, of course, more than a little hyperbolic, but I think it's more accurate than either the Times or the Blue America set are willing to admit.

It seems relevant to note that this pains me to write. I have been known on occasion to refer to The Washington Post as "the poor man's New York Times" (three cheers for intellectual elitism). It took me a while to adjust to the former's (superior) Op-Ed page because, damnit, it didn't look like NYT. Of course, all the sentimentality in the world will not save the Times from what it may or may not deserve: a complete destruction of its role as a serious voice in news.

The Times is certainly guilty of more than letting Jayson Blair slide, as the rest of the Blogosphere has pointed out. This is just the nail in a coffin made of reflexive, sneering elitism [Aren't you an elitist? -- ed. I'm the good kind. So...you're elitist with elitists? -- ed. Oh, shut up.], a depressing corral of Op-Ed writers, and long-anemic sports coverage, among other things. But those, unlike the Blair fiasco, were correctable problems. More importantly, they were issues that didn't cancel out or overshadow its strengths, of which it still has many.

This brings us back to the destruction of serious voice point; the Times certainly deserves credibility for parts of its coverage, especially in foreign affairs. In that area, I and many others find it unmatched anywhere in the nation. But for the next few months or possibly years, it won't have even that limited respect, something that the debate over the scandal should make clear. All of sudden, whenever the Times says something you don't like, the instant tension-breaking, two-word response is "Jayson Blair". A knowing wink and an oblique, cutting aside have replaced serious argument as the method to discredit anything written by an NYT reporter. It's being done everywhere from blogs toNational Review to Congress; this post was prompted by a snotty Blair crack by some Congressman during the floor debate over the Healthy Forests Initiative.

When the average man on the street with a decent sarcastic sense of humor can take down the Newspaper of Record with a sentence, something has clearly gone wrong. It doesn't fully deserve it, but the Times as a whole now finds itself in that situation, and it will take a very long time to recover.

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