Monday, January 1, 2007

Welcome to the Solid Surfer Archive

Welcome to the Solid Surfer Archive. This site contains much of the relevant material from Please feel free to browse through the content (it's all listed chronologically; the posts have been arranged by and marked with their original publication dates), and hope you enjoy!

-Solid Surfer

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Last Post (For Now)

Well folks, this is it. The's last post...for now at least. (For anyone unaware, I announced several weeks ago that I was leaving the blogosphere for family and job reasons; here is the goodbye letter.)

Thanks to everyone for reading this blog. I just checked the site visitor tracker, and it has registered over 30,000 unique hits. Not a large number compared to, say, Little Green Footballs, but a very welcome count for the past year and a half.

So what will happen to the site in the future? will stay online for the time being. Unfortunately, because our web host (Typepad) is a paid service, I can't guarantee this indefinitely, and so I have passed the website editorship onto a friend who will continue to maintain the Typepad account (i.e. pay the bills) while leaving the content alone for now. Longer term, he may have different plans, including blogging here himself, turning the site into a commerical entity, or any number of other possibilities.

That said, I do wish to preserve the site's content, and have created a new archival site at (the site you're on right now, for those of you reading this post in its archived version). It's a free site and should remain online indefinitely.

Please feel welcome to browse the current site's archives as well; links to my entire post history can be found in the column at right, including the most relevant posts sorted by category. (Here is a quick link to the very most popular pieces.)

For more news and blogs, see the links in the column at left on the original site; all are excellent sites. If you have time to visit only a few, sites I'd recommend for regular reading, divided by topic, are:

Israel News: The Jerusalem Post, Israel National News, Israel Insider

Israel/Jewish Blogs: Lazer Beams, Mad Zionist, Israpundit

Political News: Fox News, National Review, Front Page Magazine

Political Blogs: Little Green Footballs, The American Thinker, Michael Freund

Pundits: Victor Davis Hanson, Michelle Malkin, Rabbi Shea Hecht

Middle East Focused Sites: Daniel Pipes, Jihad Watch, Gates of Vienna

Great site with a combination of all of the above: Jewish World Review

Thanks again, and best wishes to you all for a wonderful 2007 and beyond. I have greatly enjoyed running, and I hope you have enjoyed reading it just as much.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Odds, Ends, and Advice

Hope everyone has been having a wonderful holiday season. Time now to wrap up a few remaining odds and ends (along with some advice) that hadn't yet been covered by the previous few posts.

Key Reading For Leftists
First, I'd like to spotlight a recent Victor Davis Hanson essay on America's future in Iraq. The piece concerns persevering in the face of criticism, and is well worth reading simply for that. But although not its primary focus, the article also contains an essential deeper message. In stating his case, Dr. Hanson includes a particular pair of paragraphs that reveal perhaps the fundamental problem with today's political far-left and mainsteam media elites. In Dr. Hanson's words:

The truth is that wealthy Western elites in the media have evolved beyond worry over the basics of their civilization. They are so insulated, even after September 11, that they don’t believe there is much connection between liberty, freedom, consensual government, freedom of expression, and the everyday mundane things they depend on — whether excellent medical care, clean water, nice cars, neat electronic gadgets, eating out, or safety in their streets. A nuclear Iran, a missile-laden North Korea, a theocracy in oil-rich Iraq, an unleashed terrorist-sponsoring Syria, and an emboldened Hezbollah — all these still could still never quite take away their good life, so strong is the assurance of their never-ending comfort zone that they could not conceive of ever losing it.

And thus the most vehement and angry critics find it possible, even desirable, to nibble away at their own civilization’s efforts, on the understanding that a loss in Iraq would be only an apparent loss. That defeat would not entail any material detriment to themselves, but surely would enhance their own sense of contrarian self-righteousness and self-worth, as they boldly caricature the very culture that so empowered them.

This point could not be more on-the-mark. The left has another key, related problem as well, but Dr. Hanson's insight is just as revealing. It's so easy to take modern civilization for granted, but no matter our technological progress, human nature has always remained the same, and we must never forget the possibilities (both good and bad) contained in this.

Mainstream Media: Hysteria Sells News
In addition, I strongly believe we should beware of overly pessimistic predictions from the mainstream media. Not that the world is always cheery, but hysteria sells news, and many predictions simply don't hold to scrutiny.

One key recent example is the notion that Muslims (and particularly fundamentalist Muslims) will overwhelm the Western world demographically. Mark Steyn and ilk have grabbed many headlines by declaring this a virtual certainty, but the truth is - their predictions rely on numerous faulty and unknown assumptions, and their conclusions are far from definite (or even likely). Such fearmongering may sell articles, but by no means does it assure statistical accuracy.
Similarly, global warming is not the media's first environmental scare issue. Back in the 1970s, the name of the game cooling. That's right, only thirty years ago many pundits believed another ice age was on the horizon. Didn't quite happen that way, did it?

So how do we discern the genuinely worrisome from the faux doom-and-gloom? Look for counterpoint arguments and see if they make more sense. In the demographics case, Steyn's conclusions simply sounded wrong compared to an opposite persuasion analysis of the same numbers. I then confirmed this by checking both sides' statistical sources, and went even further by discussing the issue with many others, including those agreeing with Steyn (I debated for days in particular with a reader from Alaska), to try and discern additional insights.

Of course, sometimes hysteria can be mixed in with plenty of truth; for example WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah runs a subscription-only intelligence service called the G2 Bulletin. Many of its reports are highly sensationalist, but some are actually very good, particularly Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein's Israel-focused Galil Report articles. Just the same, Mark Steyn has written numerous excellent essays on many other topics. Differentiating the wheat from the chaff is often just a matter of reasoning, knowledge, and experience.

Odds and Ends
Here are a few excellent links from the past couple weeks:

Want to know how to defeat jihadists attacking your country? Fight back, as Ethiopia has done against Somalia. Israel's government should pay close attention to Ethiopia's success.

Writer Yashiko Sagamori, meanwhile, responds to a Malaysian Muslim about the true meaning of jihad. One of the best pieces out there on Islam and its role in the world.

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, has written a short but highly direct rebuttal of Jimmy Carter's disgustingly titled (and disgustingly contented) recent book.

Blog of the Day: The 910 Group Blog

Think Tank of the Day: National Center for Policy Analysis

Website of the Day: Israel National News

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Geopolitical Recommendations (Continued)

Continuing the geopolitical predictions and recommendations from the previous post:

In addition to halting the Iranian threat, Israel must strengthen itself internally by fully embracing its Jewish identity. Above being a state for its citizens, above even its democracy, Israel is first and foremost a Jewish nation, and it must never forget this.

At the same time, meanwhile, the Jewish state must remain unified. Religious or secular, Sephardic or Ashkenazic, resident proper or settler, Israeli Jews are one and the same. United together, the Jewish people are far stronger than when divided into factions. (And this of course goes for Diaspora Jews, as well).

These principles, I believe, are a recipe for success. For more information, see's extensive Israel archive.

U.S. Politics
America also must reclaim its unity, and focus on maintaining and strengthening its role as world superpower. If America were to stumble, nations that operate under far lesser ethical and moral standards (China, Russia, Iran, the EU) would rush to full the void.

To that end, the U.S. must succeed in Iraq, help Israel halt Iran's nuclear development, and stand strong against the ultra-corrupt United Nations.

The recent elections which handed the House and Senate to Democratic control might possibly harm these objectives, but I believe it unlikely. President Bush is still in office, and the elections were far more a repudiation of Republican corruption and ineffectiveness than a genuine popular leftward shift. Indeed, most of the newly elected Democrats are moderates, and America as a whole has shifted noticeably rightward from decades past.

Strong American support for Israel, meanwhile, should also continue. For all her leftism, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is actually pretty pro-Israel, and if Democrats ever choose an anti-Israel stance on any issue, Joe Lieberman will probably caucus with Republicans (hence giving them a winning majority) against it.

Of course, though, Israel should never take U.S. support for granted, and we should all support the best efforts of groups like AIPAC and Washington PAC to help make a difference.

U.S. Economy
One other aspect of keeping America strong is maintaining a strong economy. This entails keeping taxes low, reducing governmental regulation (the government should provide an even playing field, and that's all), and encouraging the nation's entrepreneurial culture. I have written several essays on such topics, but to get a much fuller understanding, read material by such economic greats as Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams, both of whom write for and have archived columns at Jewish World Review (Sowell's latest article in particular is an essential primer on wealth and economic disparity). Also to note is the pioneering economic work by the late, great Milton Friedman.

Economic productivity, meanwhile, depends vitally on scientific and engineering breakthroughs and innovations. And the most pressing issue in these areas, I believe, is achieving energy independence. Both our clean air and (especially) our national security desperately depend on it. I have also written extensively about this topic (see here, here, here, and here), but check the news regularly as new technologies seem to constantly emerge. So what should America's strategy be? I say just try everything: new energy sources, experimental technology, drilling our own oil reserves - you name it. The more we try, the greater the chances of success.

One thing to beware, however, is the lure of politically motivated science. Global warming as a catastrophe is still unproven, but that hasn't prevented it from becoming the buzzword of the decade. This is not to say global warming is a hoax, but facts are still facts, and we should always pay them attention regardless of hype.

Purely speculative science, meanwhile, can also lead to errant conclusions. Only months after reversing 75 years of research by declaring Pluto a non-planet, scientists have now decided that the Earth's continents looked far different in the past than previously believed. So what does this mean? Simply more proof that no matter how popularly accepted, science of a speculative nature (i.e. science without direct here-and-now verification) can be only just that - speculative. Hundreds of years ago, scientists speculated that the earth was flat; obviously they've since been proven wrong. And just the same, current speculative theories like Darwinian evolution cannot be proven correct; hence genuine challenges to them should not be rejected, but rather seriously entertained.

World Politics and Trends
The world right now is in a great state of transition (when is it not?). It is difficult to summarize complex global trends in only a few sentences, but I believe a number of key outcomes will become quite clear in the upcoming years: America will maintain its superpower status. China and India will continue to rise, and eventually China will democratize. Western Europe will continue to slide into mediocrity, burdened by its welfare states and unassimilated Muslim immigrants, but ultimately things will get so bad that they'll have no choice but to finally right the ship. Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to emerge as part of the global economy, despite many bumps along the way. The Muslim world, meanwhile, will reveal itself as the paper tiger it is once Western countries achieve energy independence and cut off their petrodollars. This will transform most non-Arab Muslim states into moderate governments, but the Arabs themselves will have a much more difficult time. They will probably continue to blame everything on Israel, but in the end Israel will succeed. The Jewish people are eternal, and as the faith has long maintained, Israel is but the first flowering of our return to the Holy Land.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Geopolitical Recommendations: Defeating Iran

Before leaving the blogosphere, I'd like to offer predictions and recommendations concerning some highly pressing geopolitical issues. Analyzing and forecasting global affairs can be notoriously difficult (we all remember huge whiffs like The Population Bomb), but I believe that certain trends point in very particular directions, and would like to address them here.

First and most immediately, the civilized world must quickly act to defeat the Mullahcratic regime in Iran. History has shown that when dictators threaten war and genocide, they certainly mean it, and Ahmadinejad clearly is no exception. And lest Americans think the tyrant of Tehran is only Israel's problem, he actually despises and wants to destroy the United States just as much, if not more.

So what can be done? Halting Iran's nuclear program is not enough; the regime must be quickly overthrown or militarily defeated. Unlike many prominent columnists, I don't believe Ahmadinejad intends to use nukes the moment he can. Yes, he certainly aims to "wipe Israel off the map", and yes, he wants to create worldwide destruction to bring back Shia Islam's twelfth imam. But although his rants may sound delusional to Western ears, he is actually very rational, and while he may certainly be willing to lose half the Iranian populace in a counterattack just to destroy Israel, this doesn't mean he'd prefer to. Surely he would rather conquer Israel (and then the rest of the Middle East and beyond) without suffering large losses. Not, of course, that Ahmadinejad cares about the Iranian people as individuals, but as a Shiite leader surrounded and outnumbered by Sunni neighbors, he can't expect to lead the world's Muslims with most of his denomination wiped out by Israel's response.

As a result, I strongly feel that Iran intends to launch not a nuclear bomb, but rather a conventional military assault against Israel, using the nuclear threat primarily to deter the Jewish state's own presumed atomic arsenal. Ahmadinejad clearly believes he can win such a war, particularly if he involves Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas in an all-sides attack.

It is not enough, then, for Israel and/or America to simply halt Iran's nuclear development. Doing so, of course, is still paramount (Ahmadinejad may be rational, but he's also extremely overconfident and could easily panic with his regime in danger), but the entire Mullahcratic government must be defeated as well. With or without nuclear weapons, Iran plans to attack Israel, and this threat, in addition to the nuclear program (which of course still makes things far more dangerous), must also immediately be countered.

So how can Israel do it? Act now to overwhelmingly defeat Iran's terrorist proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Judea/Samaria, and Gaza. Quickly doing so will not change Ahmadinejad's evil ambitions, but it should erode his confidence enough that he'll think twice before using Iran's own soldiers. Feeling hemmed in without yet having nukes (if Israel acts in time), he'll likely crack down even harder on internal dissent as most dictators do in such situations. At this point, Israel can, under the cover of its own military power, help the Iranian people, who already hate the regime, to overthrow it similar to the Eastern European anti-Communist revolts of 1989-1990.

A tall order? Of course. But the alternative of letting Iran attack first is far far worse.

To be continued on other topics shortly...
Update: Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise Institute offers a different strategy: immediately bombing Iran's nuclear facilities. As outlined above, I don't believe this is fully sufficient; the regime must also fall. But Mr. Muravchik's piece is an interesting counterpoint view. Victor Davis Hanson, meanwhile, believes Ahmadinejad is actually much weaker than advertised. I agree. And's Sara Yocheved Rigler tells what the Jewish response to the situation should be. Just read it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

(Soon To Be) Leaving The Blogosphere

Dear all,

After the past year and a half of writing on this site, I have decided to leave the blogosphere. I know this announcement is entirely out of the blue, but I have actually been considering it for quite some time. Certainly, it has not been an easy decision, as I have greatly enjoyed blogging and feel privileged to have met so many friends, readers, and fellow bloggers online.

However, I am about to assume some major lifestyle changes (impending fatherhood and newly increased career responsibilities), and after much thought and family discussion, have chosen to hang up the spikes. Running this website has been a true joy and passion, and I had hoped to continue it indefinitely, but unfortunately this option does not appear realistic.

As a result, I intend to wrap things up shortly. There is much backlogged content that I'd like to post before leaving, but expect the blog to wind down in the near future. The site itself will remain online for the time being, although that may change at some point because Typepad (our web host) is a paid service. I would like to preserve the site's content, though, and am working on several options, including creating an archival site through a free hosting service such as Blogger. (More info on this to come.)

I also don't plan to leave the online space entirely; time permitting, I certainly hope to still comment and write letters on other blogs and sites, as well as offer the occasional freelance piece. And please stay tuned for all the wrap-up material on this site. But in the meantime, thank you all very much. It has been a real pleasure running, and I certainly will miss it.

-Solid Surfer

Monday, November 27, 2006

Western Writers and Muslim Demographics Part II

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday. I had planned to move beyond the topic of the previous post, but instead feel compelled to return to it by a new Mark Steyn doom-and-gloom piece.

In the latest of his Western demographic disaster articles, Steyn compares Palestinian and Episcopalian birthrates to once again advance his thesis of high-fertility Muslim immigrants taking over low-fertility Europe. Furthermore, he writes a rejoinder to a strong opposing piece by columnist Ralph Peters, who feels that Europe will soon awaken and expel the Muslims.

So who is correct? I'm still undecided on Peters (although I do have some thoughts in the comments section of a post on Israpundit covering the debate). But as usual, Steyn's demographic analyses are largely off the mark. Similar to with his previous Europe-is-a-goner conclusions (debunked here and here), he simply ignores significant factual data.

In his current article, Steyn is absolutely correct that Europe has low fertility. What he doesn't mention, though, is that most Muslims today also have low fertility, and the Muslims still at high rates are dropping rapidly. Steyn cites a Palestinian grandmother with nine children and 41 grandchildren as a high-birthrate Muslim example. But really, her fertility is irrelevant. You see, her childbirths already occurred in the past; the real number to be concerned with is not her fertility, but the fertility of those grandchildren who are *currently* of reproductive age. And on average, this generation is having not nine children, but only one or two each. This is right in line with European fertility levels, and does not at all lead to the type of demographic takeover that Steyn envisions.

Mark Steyn is a fine writer in many other regards, but his demographic projections simply don't gel with statistical reality. And given the disastrous policies that can proceed from faulty demographic knowledge (i.e. Ehud Olmert's continuous call for Israel to withdraw from settlements), I believe it is strongly necessary to correct such misunderstandings.