tuesday february 28, 2006
lying with polls
Polls are supposed to measure public opinion, not shape it. But that ain't how it goes.
Today's news is full of analysis of Bush's awful approval ratings blah blah blah. If it is to have any political meaning, a poll must reflect the actual electorate. In the 2004 election, Democrats and Republicans split evenly, so a poll should sample them equally.
How did the CBS poll sample?
Total Republicans contacted: 272 unweighted and 289 weighted.
Total Democrats contacted: 409 unweighted and 381 weighted.
Total Independents contacted: 337 unweighted and 348 weighted.
As we've said before, just sample the staff at Air America (both of them) and be done with it. Bush will have a zero approval rating and we can all wring our hands and wonder why.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman quoted Karl Rove, "Republicans have a post 9-11 worldview, and many Democrats have a pre-9-11 worldview. That doesn't make them unpatriotic, not at all. But it does make them wrong."
From that Friedman concludes that Rove was calling Democrats unpatriotic. Rove said just the opposite. Of course, it is possible to say one thing and mean another. For example, "Tom, I love your tie -- it's not as dorky as your others."
But I take Rove at his word. Democrats are not unpatriotic, they're just dense and petulant.
Democrats are very touchy about their patriotism, or perceived lack of same. I know why: much as they love America, they do not like it. Why the dislike? Let us count the ways:
- They dislike America because they are not running it. And they're not running it because Americans won't let them (at least for now.) After losing election after election, they disdain American voters as stupid. Thomas Frank's book "What's the Matter with Kansas" insults the intelligence of midwestern Republicans who, Frank avers, "vote against their economic interests." That is, they don't know what's good for them.
- They dislike America because we're not like Europe. Europe has universal healthcare, longer vacations and people sophisticated enough to see through the humbug of religion. (Yes, they have cathedrals, but most Euros regard them as tourist attractions. Church is for chumps.)
Nevermind that Europe is speeding off a cliff as surely as Thelma and Louise. Their high taxes, low economic growth (curious how those go together), excessive regulation, low birthrates, inability to assimilate immigrants and high social spending have Europe becoming Eurabia within decades.
- They dislike America because it fights back. When Yugoslavia disintegrated, Europe watched as chaos ensued and ethnic cleansing came back. It took the US to stop it, and US troops continue to be posted in the Balkans lo these many years later, despite Bill Clinton's pledge of a one year deal.
Whereas JFK promised to "pay any price, bear any burden" to promote freedom, today's Democrats want to sign any treaty that promises to avoid conflict. To them, the United Nations embodies moral authority, even as evidence shows it complicit in billion-dollar corruption and the rape/prostitution of young girls in Africa. Oh, yes, and feckless in stopping genocide in Darfur.
- They dislike America because it's rich. Liberals are zero-sum economic thinkers who believe one man's gain is another man's loss. Thus America is rich because we've exploited the planet, and because we're imperialist bastards. If so, given our vast military and economic strength, where are our colonies? Japan? No, we turned that back over to the Japanese. Germany? Ditto. And we spent a pretty penny getting Europe back on its feet after WWII. And another pretty penny keeping the Soviets out for the next 40 years.
- They dislike America because it's racist. Yes, we have an ugly racial history, especially with respect to Indians and blacks. But show me a nation without a history of racism. Try being a third generation Japanese of Korean descent. Or a third generation French of Algerian descent. At least the United States has worked to fix its racial problems. 40 years after the Civil Rights Act was passed, we have a nation where the CEOs of the largest media company and the largest financial services companies are black. And where a self-made, female black billionaire can send an unknown book onto the bestseller lists.
Since 9-11, a battle of ideas has been raging. Islamic fundamentalists and their many mouthpieces want to convince the world that America is the great Satan. So when embarassing incidents such as the mistreatment of prisoners (not torture) at Abu Ghraib come to light, you can expect Osama and Al Jazeera to make hay.
But what's to excuse Ted Kennedy when he declares, "Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management." Is it any wonder why some Americans might question Kennedy's patriotism? Or when Democrat Richard Durbin compares Guantanomo Bay to Nazi concentration camps and Stalin's gulags?
Feeding propaganda points to people who mean to kill us (and already killed 3000) just to score political points against Bush is no way to demonstrate love of country.
Probably the most successful disliker of America is Michael Moore, who's become a millionaire by pissing on America. Moore drew big cheers from European audiences by telling them, "[Americans] are possibly the dumbest people on the planet." And "We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don't know about anything that's happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing." And to Brits, "You're stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe." For this, Jimmy Carter invited him into his private box at the 2004 Democrat Convention.
Yes, Democrats are patriots. But they're like humanitarians who love humanity but can't stand people.
lying rascals all around
We know that the Mohammed cartoon flap was an organized effort that twisted facts to foment outrage. Lest we get too smug, consider that the same is true with the ports controversy:
My friends, there is an organized disinformation campaign going on in the discussion of the Dubai Ports World deal. Draw whatever conclusions you wish about whether the deal is worthwhile, but please do not buy into these blatant misrepresentations, and please don’t spread them in your discussions.
Clearly, this is a hot-button issue, and there are plenty of reasons for concern in the UAE’s past behavior, particularly before 9/11. Of course, we’re hearing from guys like Ret. Gen. Tommy Franks and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace that UAE is “a friend” and “very, very solid partners” in the war on terror. And Sen. John Warner observed that the U.S. military has docked more than 500 ships in the past year in the UAE and uses their airfields to perform support missions for both Afghanistan and Iraq. But some folks still feel as if they can’t trust the UAE, and/or they want a fuller review. Fair enough. I don’t begrudge someone for having concerns about this deal.
However, I do begrudge someone for not having their facts straight. And long after I, and many others, pointed out that this deal is significantly different than what we were initially told, a particular group of people continue to dramatically misrepresent – aw, hell, let’s call it what it is – continue to lie about what it entails.
There are plenty of folks on the GOP side of the aisle repeating and spreading the lies. But check out the comments on the other side of the aisle.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton:
“Senator Menendez and I don’t think any foreign government company should be running our ports, managing, leasing, owning, operating. It just raises too many red flags. That is the nub of our complaints,” said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., speaking via teleconference in response to Bush’s announcement.
As reported in USA Today, 80 percent of the terminals in the Port of Los Angeles are run by foreign firms. And the U.S. Department of Transportation says the United Kingdom, Denmark, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China and Taiwan have interests in U.S. port terminals.
The blogger Sweetness and Light observed that the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia, which is partially owned by the government of Saudi Arabia as well as Saudi individuals and establishments, operates berths in the ports of Baltimore, Newport News, Houston, New Orleans, Savannah, Wilmington, N.C., Port Newark, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, New York. (The link has an inadvertently haunting photo, BTW.)
monday february 27, 2006
Bush 41 had dana carvey
Although Bridges wasn’t in makeup when he visited the Oval Office, that didn’t stop the president from laughing. Or from giving his candid review of the taped performances he’s seen of Bridges being him.
“He remarked how odd it was to see someone who looks and acts like him. In fact, I think he said it was downright weird.”
That would be “weird” in a good way, however.
“The President said he really appreciated the tone of my material, how it was all in fun and something he’d feel comfortable having his daughters hear.”
During the pair’s 20 minute meeting, Bush the Real and Bush the Double covered a wide variety of topics – their common home state of Texas, Haney’s Oscar for Driving Miss Daisy, the history of the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, even the subtle differences between doing impressions of George Bush Sr. and George Bush Jr.
“At one point, he actually invited me down to Crawford, Texas to do a little fishing,” Bridges said.
After all was said and done, what was Bridges’ impression of the subject of his very presidential impression?
“I walked away with a sense that I knew him. He’s amazingly down to earth. What you see is what you get, no pretense. And he has a very good sense of humor.”
That said, Bridges also remarked he still was able to get a sense of the weight of responsibility on the President’s shoulders.
“He takes his job and his responsibility to the country very seriously. There’s no doubt about that.”
''We won't stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.''
Stated that baldly it sounds ridiculous. But, simply as a matter of fact, every year more and more of the world lives under Islamic law: Pakistan adopted Islamic law in 1977, Iran in 1979, Sudan in 1984. Four decades ago, Nigeria lived under English common law; now, half of it's in the grip of sharia, and the other half's feeling the squeeze, as the death toll from the cartoon jihad indicates. But just as telling is how swiftly the developed world has internalized an essentially Islamic perspective. In their pitiful coverage of the low-level intifada that's been going on in France for five years, the European press has been barely any less loopy than the Middle Eastern media.
What, in the end, are all these supposedly unconnected matters from Danish cartoons to the murder of a Dutch filmmaker to gender-segregated swimming sessions in French municipal pools about? Answer: sovereignty. Islam claims universal jurisdiction and always has. The only difference is that they're now acting upon it. The signature act of the new age was the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran: Even hostile states generally respect the convention that diplomatic missions are the sovereign territory of their respective countries. Tehran then advanced to claiming jurisdiction over the citizens of sovereign states and killing them -- as it did to Salman Rushdie's translators and publishers. Now in the cartoon jihad and other episodes, the restraints of Islamic law are being extended piecemeal to the advanced world, by intimidation and violence but also by the usual cooing promotion of a spurious multicultural "respect" by Bill Clinton, the United Church of Canada, European foreign ministers, etc.
The I'd-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-in-perfect-harmonee crowd have always spoken favorably of one-worldism. From the op-ed pages of Jutland newspapers to les banlieues of Paris, the Pan-Islamists are getting on with it.
...looks at Bush and the national security debate:
From the beginning (was it only 5 years ago?) the Democrats and the left have been hysterically screaming about quagmires and civil wars with their usual generalized defeatism; and more recently we have heard the growing uneasiness on the part of Republicans and neocons that the Bush policies are moving too slowly.
Both the excessive hysteria and the niggling uneasiness come from the same psychological source -- a need to have everything resolved by the 2006 elections; or at the latest by the 2008 elections. The Democrats would like Bush's policies to unambiguously fail; while the Republicans are hoping for unambiguous success.
Too bad both desires will be frustrated.
The kind of major shift in US foreign policy that Bush has initiated may actually take decades to play out; and the repercussions of what has happened in the last 5 years may ripple for half a century or more. That is to say, there will be no instant gratification and no instant and universal successful outcome or failure --i.e., the kind that can win votes and influence money flow in time for the 2006 elections; nor probably for the 2008 ones either.
We are new parents who uneasily hold the tiny crying infant in our large bumbling hands. As we look at this small creature we have created, we have many thoughts and fears.
We might anxiously wonder what the future will bring for him and for us? Will this child grow up to be a doctor? Or a mass murderer? We have no way of knowing at the moment, and can only commit ourselves to providing the nurture and care necessary for optimal personality development.
Initially, the task is messy and rather smelly; but at some point, that small infant will be fully capable of making his own decisions and going forward on his own. For a human infant, that happy day generally occurs somewhere in the teen years.
I have no idea how long it takes for a liberal democracy; but expecting it to mature in 3-5 years requires a excessive degree of fantasy and self-delusion.
Read it all.
canadian healthcare is sick
From the New York Times:
The country's publicly financed health insurance system — frequently described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of its national identity — is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.
Dr. Day, for instance, is planning to open more private hospitals, first in Toronto and Ottawa, then in Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. Ontario provincial officials are already threatening stiff fines. Dr. Day says he is eager to see them in court.
"We've taken the position that the law is illegal," Dr. Day, 59, says. "This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years."
"In a free and democratic society where you can spend money on gambling and alcohol and tobacco," Dr. Day said, "the state has no business preventing you and me from spending our own money on health care."
This is the "single-payer" system liberals (Democrats) tout as the solution to America's rising healthcare costs.
Single-payer is a euphemism for government monopoly. Only the most obtuse dreamer can believe that any government monopoly could ever be efficient.
healthy dose of healthcare innovation
President Bush has innovative ideas on controlling health care costs, primarily through Health Savings Accounts that give individuals more control over how their medical dollar is spent. The general principle is that people will not choose to spend a dollar on health care unless they get a dollar’s worth of benefit—and this will place downward pressure on both medical costs and insurance premiums.
In reaction to Bush's agenda, many liberals like Ted Kennedy trotted out the increasingly tired "only for the healthy and the wealthy" charge against HSAs. While it is tempting to go through all the evidence showing it isn't true, it may be more instructive to consider the example of Wendy's touted by Bush. The average worker at Wendy's is likely part of the "working poor." And since the health of the poor tends to be worse than that of general population, chances are that Wendy's employees are a bit sicker on average. In other words, Wendy's is an excellent example of consumer-driven plans not being primarily for the healthy and the wealthy.
Furthermore, other parts of Bush's health care agenda make HSAs more accessible for the poor and sick. Bush's agenda permits a low-income family to take a refundable tax credit to purchase an HSA. It also allows small businesses and civic and religious groups to form associations that enable them to pool their resources to purchase insurance for their members. Finally, Bush enables employers to put additional contributions in the HSA of an employee with a chronic health condition.
National Review (2/27 print only) notes:
In his State of the Union address, President Bush devoted only a few sentences to health policy. But, to coincide with the speech, the Bush administration released a five-page document proposing health-policy reforms so sweeping and bold as to merit comparisonto the scope—though certainly not the content—of Hillary Clinton’s plan of a decade ago. If the White Houseis able to see its proposals through, it will leave a lasting and positive mark on American social policy.
One component of Bush’s reforms is Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The idea behind HSAs is quite simple. Individuals should be allowed to manage some of their own health-care dollars through accounts they own and control. They should be able to use these funds topay the costs of out-of-network doctors, diagnostic tests, and other procedures not covered by third-party, catastrophic insurance. The accounts should be taxfree, and should eventually be available for non-medical purposes, letting individuals profit from wise decisions that allow them to reduce their health-care costs.
sunday february 26, 2006
it was bound to happen
A cartoon to piss off two minority groups "Bro-Hammed."
public show of unity
Iraqi clergymen, Shiites and Sunnis, have met in a mosque in Baghdad and decided to contribute to ending the crisis that followed bombing one of Islam’s holiest sites, the shrine of Imam Ali al-Hadi and hasan al-Askari in the city of Samarra north of Baghdad.
What was amazing about it is the unity they showed on TV. Above is a picture of clergymen. The one leading the prayers and circled by a black line is sheikh Abdul Salam al-Kubaisi, spokesman and main preacher in the Association of Muslim Scholars, which is the supreme Sunni religious authority in Iraq. In the picture, Kubaisi is shown leading the prayers and all the clergies behind him are Shiites from Sadr trend.
This is the first time I see this. I’ve never seen a Sunni clergyman leading Shiite prayers. You could see the main difference between Sunni and Shiite Islam. Notice the way the Sunni stands [joining hands on the abdomen] and the Shiites standing with hands loose on the sides.
who blew up shia's golden dome?
Five theories of who did the deed and why.
the amazing touch screen
Last week we linked to a video of a remarkable multi-touch-screen demonstration. Here is more information on the who, when and why.
more piety from the religious left
You may remember the Presbyterians coming out against Israel in favor of the Palestinians (wonder what they think of Hamas). Now a coalition of American churches:
...sharply denounced the U.S.-led war in Iraq on Saturday, accusing Washington of "raining down terror" and apologizing to other nations for "the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown."
If you have the stomach to read through their whole statement, you'll find liberal boilerplate: global warming, Katrina, blah blah blah.
"To have a negative portrayal of the Prophet Muhammed is a slap in the face and we have an obligation to defend our prophet against slurs on his reputation," said Marya Bangee, a sophomore at UC Irvine and a member of the Muslim Student Union. "They're trying to draw a link between Islam and terrorism and that's what we've been trying all along to stop."
Stop what? Drawing the link or stopping the terrorism carried out in Islam's name?
sunnis, sadrists make peace
From the Australian:
THE movement of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, alleged to have played a role in the anti-Sunni violence over the last few days, publicly made peace with political and religious Sunni leaders overnight.
Four sheikhs from the Sadr movement made a "pact of honour" with the conservative Sunni Muslim Scholars Association, and called for an end to attacks on places of worship, the shedding of blood and condemning any act leading to sedition.
The agreement was made in the particularly symbolic setting of Baghdad's premier Sunni mosque Abu Hanifa where the Shiite sheikhs prayed under the guidance of Sunni imam Abdel Salam al-Qubaissi.
The meeting was broadcast on television and the religious leaders all "condemned the blowing up of the Shiite mausoleum of Samarra as much as the acts of sabotage against the houses of God as well as the assassinations and terrorisation of Muslims".
The statement made reference to the key concerns of both communities with the violent aftermath to the attack on the Samarra mausoleum which saw more than 119 people die.
The sheikhs condemned "those who excommunicate Muslims" a reference to the "takfireen" or Islamist extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who justify killing fellow Muslims by declaring them non-Muslims.
saturday february 25, 2006
holocaust denial and child abuse
...I mentioned child abuse in my title for a reason, since it is the closest we can come in America to a model of the Holocaust and Holocaust denial. When a young child is abused, they are almost always warned not to tell anyone and further, that if they do tell, no one will believe them. Children, especially in the days before we taught our children in grade school about such things, had no choice but to believe their powerful abuser. The worst of the abusers would tell the child that what they were doing was an expression of love for which the child should be grateful, or was a result of the child's behavior. "I am doing this to you because I love you so much" or "I am beating you because you were bad" or "I am having sex with you because you seduced me." No one would question the evil of such adult behavior; the difficult question arises when we look at the long term damage from the abuse and the denial of the abuse.
Memory is among our most plastic of all cognitive functions. If you tell a group of people at the scene of an accident that you saw a man wearing a red coat running from the scene, a week later a significant number of witnesses will be found to have "remembered" a man in a red coat running from the scene; if, in fact, there was a man in a red coat and you authoritatively say there wasn't, a significant number of people will "forget" having seen the man. In a similar, though more insidious way, if a parent tells a child he or she was never abused, they are faced with an impossible task:
Who will they believe? Can they believe their own perceptions and memories, which necessitates doubting the love of the most important person in their world? Or do they deny their own minds, believe their parent, and preserve them as a loving protector?
There is no way a child can negotiate this chasm and the result is an adult who can never trust her own perceptions and memory and can never truly feel loved. The insult never ends. If they confront their parent as an adult, those who are lucky enough to receive confirmation can then, after years of psychological work, sort out their confused feelings and thoughts; those who receive denial as adults are left never knowing who they are or what to believe. Are they the poor abused victim who has every right to feel rage and sorrow or the bad child who deserves contempt for believing such horrible nonsense?
"let's blame the sunnis"
Blogger Ali (brother of Mohammed and Omar of Iraq the Model) posts infrequently, but his posts are always thoughtful. His latest is a gem:
When I served in the military I made friends with a devoted She'at Captain, well not made friends but actually I was paying him so that I spent most of the 3 months I had to serve in my home. This guy was very proud of his job and accomplishments. He often talked about his heroic actions against the "saboteurs". Who were those saboteurs? No, not just the Badr Brigade which was active after 1991 but mostly anyone who stood against Saddam during the uprising and that meant the vast majority of the She'at. Yet this Captain always refer to the She'at Imams and quote them during our conversations saying this Imam "Peace be upon him" or that Imam "God bless his secret" which I'm sorry I don't know what it means!
I asked this guy once about how he, a devoted She'at see the bombing of holy shrines in Najaf and Karbala back then during the uprising. He didn't answer the question and kept blaming the saboteurs and Iranians. There were no Americans at that time or he would have blamed them.
That guy was no exception for the denial most Iraqis lived in at Saddam's days and we had many officers like him in our camp. The commander himself, a General was a She'at. This is part of the reason, as I think, why most Iraqis especially She'at do not want Saddam's trial to take its natural long course. They don't want to remember their submission and even collaboration with the tyrant, as it's very humiliating to them. Most of you have seen the tape from Dujail. Who were those hundreds of people racing each other, stumbling to the ground to cheer the great leader? The "Victims" themselves. Yes they had too, but honestly I think they didn't have to take it that far, but it's that paralyzing fear that makes most people not only submit to evil but volunteer most of the time, reporting their own flesh and blood at times to prove their innocence. Do I blame them for that? Not really, as I felt that fear too and it wasn't easy to cope with at all. But I blame them now when they try to show themselves as the innocent victims and blame everything on Saddam and the Sunnis.
No, we were ALL part of the tragedy and those massacres and we all have to own that to finally come clean and start fresh. Only the Kurds seem to have the right to claim that they always stood against Saddam, which is true but then again their motives were not patriotic at all and certainly not humane. They were ethnic.
The She'at attitude these days makes me compare it to that of the African Americans in general. Yes they were enslaved and severely oppressed for hundreds of years and they're still subjected to some degree of discrimination in some areas by some, but is their reaction to all this healthy, or even helpful to them? And haven't they really gained equality in a way that at least enables them to lead a successful dignified life? I'm certainly not an expert in that and don't want to go deep into something I'm not that informed about but from what I read and heard it seems that some of them are still trapped in that victim's skin and blame all their misfortune on the others.
I think it's human nature that makes us feel comfortable in rushing to give our problems a specific name and that name should not be "us". It's a relief to some people, especially those whom their liberty and independence were taken away from them for a long time, to blame it on the others.
So, Sunnis are not the pure evil and She'at are not that innocent and that was the case since Saddam's days. Yes, Sunnis were more accepting of Saddam's regime in general and were more opposing to the change, but the thing is that they "were" and now things have changed a lot.
another update from zeyad
Despite the vaunted genius of Karl Rove, the Bush White House has been terrible at public relations. During the 2004 campaign, they allowed the mediacrats to write the narrative about the Iraq war, then reacted to it. Weak. Now the ports story shows more bungling on politics and PR.
Christopher Hitchens orgaanized a pro-Denmark event yesterday at the Danish Embassy in Washington D.C. Instapundit links to stories about it.
blindmen and elephants in iraq
What's going on in Iraq? It's hard to know and maybe nobody knows. American news media yesterday reported that things were calming down. But then Zeyad (one of the first Iraqi bloggers, back after a long hiatus) writes:
Fierce streetfighting at my doorstep for the last 3 hours. Rumor in the neighbourhood is that men in black are trying to enter the area. Some armed kids defending the local mosque three blocks away are splattering bullets at everything that moves, and someone in the street was shouting for people to prepare for defending themselves.
There's supposed to be a curfew, but it doesn't look like it. My net connection is erratic, so I'll try to update again if possible. The news from other areas in Baghdad are horrible. I don't think it's being reported anywhere.
My father and uncle are agitatedly walking back and forth in the hallway, asking me what we should do if the mob or Interior ministry forces try to attack us in our homes? I have no answer for them.
Zeyad includes an MP3 file of gunfire he recorded with his cell phone. Meanwhile, Omar writes:
The defense minister in a press conference currently on Iraqi TV gave statistics to correct what he described as "exaggerated media reports" about civilian casualties and attacks on mosques since the attack on the Samarra shrine:
Mosques attacked/shot at without damage: 21 not 51
Moderately damaged: 6 not 23
Mosques destroyed totally: 1 not 3
Mosques occupied by militias: 1 not 2 (evacuated later).
Civilians killed: 119 not 183
It was also announced that day-time curfew in Baghdad and three other provinces (Salahiddin, Diyala and Babil) will continue for another two days.
And then we have our loudmouth media. Southern California radio hosts John and Ken have been editorializing about (I'm paraphrasing) how hopelessly uncivilized Arabs are and how it took a Saddam to keep order. And that the US should just pull out and let them kill each other.
Beyond the ugliness of such sweeping generalizations, it ignores our own violent history. Why, it was just 14 years ago that a large swath of Los Angeles was burned by angry mobs.
friday february 24, 2006
spot the lie
Find the statement that isn't true:
- Longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was a cross dresser
- The CIA sold cocaine in American ghettos to fund the Nicaraguan contras
- Saddam had no WMD
- The United States is harvesting organs from Iraqis to sell to Israel
- AIDS was a US biowarfare program gone amiss
Hoover may or may not have been a cross-dresser. We do know the KGB planted the idea as disinformation -- I saw a former KGB on Larry King chuckling about doing it. Ditto the AIDS conspiracy theory. The coke in the ghettos story was started by a story in the San Jose Mercury News that was later refuted in the LA Times and other newspapers. The organ harvest in Iraq is part of a hit movie from Turkey, now playing to crowds in the Muslim world. As for Saddam and WMD, it's true we didn't warehouses filled with 55-gallon drums, but that doesn't mean he didn't have WMD.
The unsettling thing about all the lies (except Hoover, who was creepy in plenty of ways) is that people believe them earnestly and use them to nurse grievances and form their worldview.
How we deal with propaganda may determine how the next 50 years turn out. Armed and Dangerous has a meaty post on this subject with plenty of comments that advance the dialog.
OUR NATION IS engaged in what promises to be a long struggle in the global war on terror. In this war, some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains of Afghanistan or the streets of Iraq but in newsrooms in New York, London, Cairo and elsewhere.
Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today's media age, but for the most part we — our government, the media or our society in general — have not.
Consider that violent extremists have established "media relations committees" and have proved to be highly successful at manipulating opinion elites. They plan and design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communication to break the collective will of free people.
Our government is only beginning to adapt its operations for the 21st century. For the most part, it still functions as a five-and-dime store in an EBay world.
I have just returned from Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. In Tunis, the largest newspaper has a circulation of roughly 50,000 — in a country of about 10 million people. But even in the poorest neighborhoods you can see satellite dishes on nearly every balcony or rooftop.
Regrettably, many of the TV news channels being watched using these dishes are extremely hostile to the West. The growing number of media outlets in many parts of the world still have relatively immature standards and practices that too often serve to inflame and distort rather than to explain and inform. Al Qaeda and other extremist movements have utilized these forums for many years, successfully adding more poison to the Muslim public's view of the West, but we have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences.
In response, the Times published three letters. All equate the missing WMD "lie" with propaganda beamed into Muslim TVs that repeat the slanders of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other such ugly fabrications. Scary.
While living in Denver in the '70s, I went with my wife and a group of friends to hear a band from Aspen called Liberty. They played an eclectic mix of songs and put on a great show. Liberty was opening for some stand-up comedian we'd never heard of.
One of Liberty's founding members is Danny Wheetman, now of Marley's Ghost. They have a new album out with a front and back cover illustrated by R. Crumb, a fan of the band. If you musical tastes don't fit into a neat category, check them out.
Oh, that unknown comedian turned out to be pretty funny. His name was Steve Martin.
laugh at this
More cartoons from westerners. The current New Yorker also has three great cartoons by Art Spiegelman (print only, alas).
thursday february 23, 2006
sanguine about a civil war
Blogger Ali at Free Iraqi writes about the tensions after the mosque destruction:
...I tend to see this as not as bad as it looks. The attack is definitely a terrorist act aims to inflaming sectarian divisions and creating a civil war, the She'at are over reacting and some of them are pointing the accusation directly or indirectly towards all Sunnis. This is all bad, but the good thing is the different reaction among She'at religious authorities, the 'formal' one represented by Sistani and the more radical represented by the Sadirists and the SCIRI. There's no question that most She'at follow Sistani and that's why those two strong radical organizations still need his blessings and support.
Sistani being a religious man who believes in the She'at dogma sees that he needs the help of those two even if he disagrees with them and fear them to some extent in order to strengthen the role of She'at in Iraq and glorify what he stands for. Both parties put with so much from each other to achieve their own agenda, but recently the split started to widen not only between the formal and more radical side but also between the two radical ones. Power hunger has always served to blind people at one point or another and the struggle among the allies can be more bitter and worse than that between them and their common enemy.
If the radical She'at listen to Sistani and calm things down then we have no reason to worry that much about a civil war (Although we will have to worry about a dominant united religious front which I think can be worse), while if they don't then they may take Iraq into a civil war which is not that unlikely now to happen given the strong Iranian interference and support for those radical components among She'at. But is that really that disastrous?
Maybe, but I tend to think it won't be for many reasons. 1st such civil war will never be a full scale one with the American troops still in Iraq, so all that can happen is merely increasing the assassinations carried out by both radical Sunnis and She'at towards each other which may serve to expose those parties further more to everyone. 2nd if the Sadirists and the SCIRI go against Sistani's will they will risk losing his support. Average She'at will gain nothing from such limited civil war and while now they're carried out by their emotional reaction, when they see that revenge will only bring more death to others but also to them, after a while short or long they will stop and listen to the voice of reason and that will deprive the radicals from most of their power.
stifling dissent yet again
A community college student in Massachusetts faces possible disciplinary action for shouting "Remember Chappaquiddick!" during an on-campus speech by Democrat Sen. Edward Kennedy yesterday.
Paul Trost, 20, a student at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Mass., says he was upset by an introduction of Kennedy given by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., in which the congressman noted how the long-time senator overcame hardship in life on his way to success.
Whoa! I'd love to read that intro. Ted Kennedy overcame hardship? Too many millions? Having a rich daddy get him back into Harvard after being expelled for cheating?
"One of my teachers called me ignorant and told me this was an embarrassment to the school," Trost told WND. "She said to me, 'Can't you forgive him after all these years?' And I said, 'No, he killed somebody.'
"If it had been me or any other person, we'd be in jail," Trost says he told his instructor.
Referring to his two-word shout, Trost said, "I did it because I know about Kennedy's past. I know what happened at Chappaquiddick.
"I wanted to send a message to him that my generation still knows about it. We haven't forgotten about it."
a coup at harvard
Alan Dershowitz spoke with Hugh Hewitt about the firing of Larry Summers at Harvard. File this under stifling of dissent in America by the radical left.
AD: ... it was incredible chutzpah for the arts and sciences faculty, merely a plurality of them, to engineer this coup. And let me tell you who engineered it. It was engineered by particularly an anthropology professor, a guy named Randy Matory, who teaches Afro-American and Afro-South American studies. And basically, what he said in his resolution that he first proposed, was Summers has to go because number one, he's too patriotic. He's trying to tell us to be more patriotic. And that, by Matory, is regarded as the great sin, that he's teaching patriotism...
HH: Let's pause on that, professor. Did he actually make that statement in a faculty meeting, or reduce it to writing somewhere?
AD: Yeah, he said it on a television show last night, and I can, I think, find it and read you his exact quote, because it is just remarkable that a person would say this. He says, "He (Summers) was telling us we should be more patriotic," and that's among the list of things that he says he should be fired for.
HH: The root of this, isn't it, Alan Dershowitz, is tenure?
AD: Well, you know, tenure has failed. I can tell you why. There is no less courageous group that I have ever encountered in my life, and I meet people from all circles of life, than tenured professors at major universities. They are among the biggest cowards. They use tenure as a sword, but not as a shield. And they are afraid to speak their minds, even on the Summers thing. So many faculty members who supported Summers were afraid of alienating some people on the hard left, and remained silent. And therefore, we got a very, very skewed public debate about Summers' qualities as a president. He was a very good president in many ways. You know, he boosted the endowment, he increased the faculty. He was going to make this major move to Allston. He's really increased the strength of the sciences...
hillary's fear mongering
“First family that comes and says ‘I want to send my daughter to St. Peter’s Roman Catholic School’ and you say ‘Great, wonderful school, here’s your voucher,’” Clinton said. “Next parent that comes and says, ‘I want to send my child to the school of the Church of the White Supremacist …’ The parent says, ‘The way that I read Genesis, Cain was marked, therefore I believe in white supremacy. … You gave it to a Catholic parent, you gave it to a Jewish parent, under the Constitution, you can’t discriminate against me.’”
As an adoring, if somewhat puzzled, audience of Bronx activists looked on, Clinton added, “So what if the next parent comes and says, ‘I want to send my child to the School of the Jihad? … I won’t stand for it.”
So there's yer choice, folks: a government monopoly controlled by powerful labor unions and educrats, or Osama as your next school superintendent. Polipundit has more.
an unlikely duo
We two come from different political and philosophical perspectives, but on this we agree: Over the past few weeks, the press has betrayed not only its duties but its responsibilities. To our knowledge, only three print newspapers have followed their true calling: the Austin American-Statesman, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Sun. What have they done? They simply printed cartoons that were at the center of widespread turmoil among Muslims over depictions of the prophet Muhammad. These papers did their duty.
Since the war on terrorism began, the mainstream press has had no problem printing stories and pictures that challenged the administration and, in the view of some, compromised our war and peace efforts. The manifold images of abuse at Abu Ghraib come to mind -- images that struck at our effort to win support from Arab governments and peoples, and that pierced the heart of the Muslim world as well as the U.S. military.
The press has had no problem with breaking a story using classified information on detention centers for captured terrorists and suspects -- stories that could harm our allies. And it disclosed a surveillance program so highly classified that most members of Congress were unaware of it.
In its zeal to publish stories critical of our nation's efforts -- and clearly upsetting to enemies and allies alike -- the press has printed some articles that turned out to be inaccurate. The Guantanamo Bay flushing of the Koran comes to mind.
But for the past month, the Islamist street has been on an intifada over cartoons depicting Muhammad that were first published months ago in a Danish newspaper. Protests in London -- never mind Jordan, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Iran and other countries not noted for their commitment to democratic principles -- included signs that read, "Behead those who insult Islam." The mainstream U.S. media have covered this worldwide uprising; it is, after all, a glimpse into the sentiments of our enemy and its allies. And yet it has refused, with but a few exceptions, to show the cartoons that purportedly caused all the outrage.
The Rocky Mountain News published the Danish cartoons recently.
crisis in iraq
The destruction of the dome of the Shia Samarra mosque -- an obvious provocation to sectarian violence -- has had some effect. For the best on-the-ground coverage, we look to Iraq the Model:
Today is a day off in Iraq, emergency situation now officially declared with extended curfews 8pm-6am.
Sistani has been calling for restraint and calm but it seems that some Shia factions are not listening to him but instead they are listening to their direct references or acting on their own.
Spokesmen of the Islamic Party and Muslim Scholars claim more than 120 mosques have been blown up, set ablaze or came under small arms and RPG fire including the Um al-Qura mosque which is the HQ of the Association of Muslim Scholars which came under several drive-by shootings.
Radio Sawa reported a short while ago that the central morgue in Baghdad received some 80 bodies of people who were killed with gun shots since Wednesday afternoon.
In our neighborhood the Sadr militias seized the local mosque and broadcast Shia religious mourning songs from the mosques loudspeakers.
In several other cases, worshippers were turned away by "gunmen in black" who surrounded the closed mosques. Other mosques are encircled by razor-wire to stop anyone from approaching them.
The sense in the streets and the statements given by some Shia clerics suggest that retaliation attacks are organized and under control and are focusing on mosques frequented by Salafi and Wahabi groups and not those of ordinary Sunnis.
Baghdad looks more alive today but in a very cautious way, traffic in the streets is heavier than it was yesterday but still way below normal.
There's some kind of shopping frenzy because people are trying to be prepared if the worst happens; people are stock-piling small reserves of food, cigarettes, bottled water…etc especially after they heard some of the roads to/from Baghdad are closed and vehicles were turned away.
The Sunni political leaders were invited to a meeting with the UIA suggested by president Talabani but they refused to join the meeting saying the government has to condemn attacks on their mosques as well before they consider ending the boycott.
Talabani responded positively to their demand and gave a short statement to the press half an hour ago and condemned all attacks on worshipping places of all kinds.
The situation is still very tense but the good thing is that the Sunni have not returned the attacks and I hope the Shia have satisfied their vengeance by now because I don't want to even think of what can happen if this situation lasts longer than this.
wednesday february 22, 2006
storm over the ports
Here's a calm perspective on the big port dustup, from CBS news no less. It looks like Bush is right, but his party is panicking in the face of November elections. If Democrats can claim the Republicans are selling out the safety of America, whether true or not, Republicans will lose seats.
No one ever said politics is pretty.
"why mommy is a democrat"
I've been meaning to post about this children's book, but American Digest says it all.
A cartoon about the cartoons.
suicide bombers, suicide thinkers
From Armed and Dangerous:
The most important weapons of al-Qaeda and the rest of the Islamist terror network are the suicide bomber and the suicide thinker. The suicide bomber is typically a Muslim fanatic whose mission it is to spread terror; the suicide thinker is typically a Western academic or journalist or politician whose mission it is to destroy the West’s will to resist not just terrorism but any ideological challenge at all.
But al-Qaeda didn’t create the ugly streak of nihilism and self-loathing that afflicts too many Western intellectuals. Nor, I believe, is it a natural development. It was brought to us by Department V of the KGB, which was charged during the Cold War with conducting memetic warfare that would destroy the will of the West’s intelligentsia to resist a Communist takeover. This they did with such magnificent effect that the infection outlasted the Soviet Union itself and remains a pervasive disease of contemporary Western intellectual life.
Consider the following propositions:
- There is no truth, only competing agendas.
- All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
- There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
- The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
- Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
- The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.
- For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But “oppressed” people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
- When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.
tuesday february 21, 2006
bird flu faqs
Q: Can I still eat poultry?
A: The thing is, bird flu tastes like chicken so you never know if your General Tzo's is infected. You're at highest risk if you're eating at a Chinese establishment that is owned by Mexicans or a Mexican establishment, owned by the Chinese. Best stick to KFC, which is made from featherless, beakless mutates that are not legally birds.
This way you can die of cancer like the rest of your neighbors.
Q: How do I protect my cockatoo or canary from bird flu?
A: If you keep a cockatoo or canary as a pet, slaughter it immediately. The proper way to do this is to grab its body in your fist, walk it into the kitchen, place it on the cutting board, and lop its head off with a knife. Pretty much any knife will do. Bird necks are about as tough as celery.
As you probably know, the head and body must be burned, separately, with their ashes scattered in different directions. Just like you're disposing of a vampire corpse.
Important: Be sure to rinse thoroughly both the knife and your cutting board! How stupid would you feel if you successfully killed and disposed of the infected bird only to later die from decrusting a PB&J sandwich? I bet you'd feel pretty f-ing stupid.
If the caged bird is a beloved family pet, have your husband, wife or live-in buddy take the kids to a movie before slaughtering. When they come home, explain to them that lil' Petey flew out the window and then surprise them with a new pet monkey. Kids love monkeys, and they're 100% disease-free.
Q: What's the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic?
A: Here's a handy way of remembering it: If your home town is in the "-demic" part, you're probably already dead.
jimmy carter, segregationist
Betsy Newmark highlights this column:
Carter also didn't mention at the [Coretta Scott King] funeral that he ran for governor of Georgia in 1970 at the height of the civil rights movement as an arch-segregationist. Veteran Georgia political observer Bill Shipp has written that Carter "ran a subliminal 'fergit, hell' campaign." Shipp said, "Carter promised to be the antithesis of his Democratic primary opponent, former Gov. Carl Sanders, an urbane Augusta lawyer who had served Georgia ably as governor from 1963 to 1967. Sanders promised a fair shake for African-Americans in state government. Carter promised to invite Alabama Gov. George Wallace into the state to speak, and he vowed to retain an old-time segregationist as chairman of the state Board of Regents."
During the campaign, Carter's minions aggressively promoted a photograph to the media showing a smiling Sanders with his arm around a (gasp!) black athlete, and Carter referred to the highly respected former governor as a "Hubert Humphrey Democrat." Jimmy Carter won the gubernatorial election in 1970, but with less than 10 percent of the black vote.
Funny, but I don't remember him discussing any of these facts at the funeral, nor do I remember him apologizing to the mostly black assemblage about running for office as a segregationist. Maybe he was pressed for time. After all, the funeral only ran six hours, and that's not near enough time to confess your sins and bash a sitting president all in the same self-serving eulogy.
an iraqi laughs off sadr
Lee Harris, writing this week on TCSDaily.com, has produced a melodramatic analysis of Iraqi politics entitled "Misunderstanding Moktada al-Sadr." That's an appropriate title, because the author truly does misunderstand this Shiite "cleric."
Harris attributes some remarkable qualities to the religious school dropout. According to the piece, Moktada is a savvy politician who knows how to get what he wants, and presents an overwhelming danger to the interests of the United States. This is only the latest inflation of Sadr, who has previously been characterized in the American press as Iraq's Alexander the Great, and who has such admirers as Juan Cole, who has embraced Sadr as a "young Shiite nationalist."
"Political cunning"? Please. This guy is really not that smart. Most Iraqis see him in very different terms: as mentally ill. His shortcomings are apparent to Arabic speakers who have watched him on television. Al-Sadr is absurdly inarticulate (and he has a speech impediment, which makes a difference in a culture that is sensitive to oratory).
Unlike most of the American media, Iraqi Shiites know that Sadr never completed his religious education, and that matters to them. He comes off as an idiot on TV, and that matters to them, too. Plus, Sadr's mental history is the subject of some truly lurid gossip well known to many Iraqis, and that matters as well.
The fact is that mainstream Shiites who seek clerical leadership have a group of perfectly respectable clerics to choose from. Furthermore, such Shiites constitute a culture that values age, which they associate with study and wisdom. All that the young, inarticulate, and probably crazy Sadr has going for him is his distinguished family name. Even so, there are other respectable Shiite names in Iraq. The case of Ahmad Chalabi's failed political efforts should prove that a respected family name takes one only so far.
wheeling and dealing in iraq
Is it my imagination or has the level of violence decreased in Iraq since the elections and the long negotiations over forming a government? The intricacies of the negotiations are too much for me to fathom, but Iraq the Model notes:
The interesting and powerful statement made today by the American ambassador is considered supportive to the political line of those blocs.
Khalil Zad connected investing in Iraq and providing financial support with the presence of a nonsectarian government in Iraq and said that the only solution for Iraq lies in building a government of national unity that includes everyone and diminishes the danger of sectarian polarization that's been endangering the future of the country. This is of course a clear message to everyone that America is not willing to stand by religious parties that are trying to connect Iraq's future with the crazy dreams of Iran.
whine of bureaucrats leaking
The State Department, long a bastion of the pampered and pompous, has needed a good ass-kicking restructuring for decades. Condi Rice is doing it and it's making some folks tetchy.
A State Department reorganization of analysts involved in preventing the spread of deadly weapons has spawned internal turmoil, with more than half a dozen career employees alleging in interviews that political appointees sought to punish long-term employees whose views they considered suspect.
Senior State Department officials deny that and say an investigation has found that the proper personnel practices were followed. But three officials involved in the reorganization, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly, acknowledge that a merger of two bureaus reduced the influence of employees who were viewed by some political appointees as disloyal to the administration's policies.
"There are a number of disgruntled employees who feel they have been shoved aside for political purposes. That's true," said one of these officials. "But there was rank insubordination on the part of these officers."
About a dozen top experts on nonproliferation have left the department in recent months, with many citing the reorganization as a reason.
The dispute has thrown a spotlight on the tensions that often exist between longtime career employees and the political appointees who come and go with successive administrations. It is also being closely watched within the State Department as another sign that, under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's leadership, the department will no longer be at war with the rest of the administration.
Notice how "political appointee" sounds a little dirty. In fact, their positions are most directly determined by the electorate. Career employees often disdain the elected administration -- whether Democrat or Republican -- as temps who should learn their place.
Heaven knows no wrath like a bureaucrat scorned.
why no nukes for iran
Victor Davis Hanson outlines six reasons.
Today's "educators" can simply pass the students along to the next grade and eventually send them out into the world with nice-looking diplomas and little else to enable them to cope with the complexities and challenges of work and of life. These students then pay big time for the rest of their lives.
California is one of a number of states that has belatedly begun to recognize what a disaster this policy has been. In 1999 a law was passed saying that students would receive a diploma only if they could pass a standard test to show that they had some real knowledge, instead of just an acceptable attendance record.
These tests do not require genius. We're talking basic math and English. We're talking multiple choice questions where the passing grade is 55 percent -- and you can get 25 percent by just guessing.
Like other states with high school graduation exams, California has postponed forcing students to pass that exam as a condition for receiving the diploma. This year, the state has decided that it is finally going to enforce this law passed in 1999.
venezuela running out of oil?
Is Venezuela running out of oil? This Bloomberg article certainly suggests it, and if so, it’s an earmark of a communist regime. There’s no such thing as a communist regime without shortages.
Russia the breadbasket ran out of wheat.
Cuba the sugar king ran out of sugar.
Vietnam the rice bowl ran out of rice.
China the Middle Kingdom ran out of everything.
And now, Venezuela, with the largest oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere, is having trouble with its oil production, enough so that the energy-saving measure of natural gas substitution has been introduced to the domestic population, which consumes very little oil compared to the amount Venezuela produces. Why would they need to scrimp on a population that uses so little anyway? Why scrimp there? Does that little bit that’s used domestically really matter that much? Is the margin that thin?
osama makes a vow
"I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don't want to die humiliated or deceived," bin Laden said, in the 11-minute, 26-second tape.
To which Donald Sensing replies:
“bitter the taste of death”? You lying jackal, you’ve been telling your recuits how glorious death is and how exalted it is to die as a martyr for Islam! “Bitter?” What about the 72 virgins awaiting every shahid in paradise? (Oh, yeah, I forgot!)
What a sad sack bin Laden is.
monday february 20, 2006
hans blix as elmer fudd
After watching the “Nightline” report, I noted that what we learned—from Saddam’s own lips—was that the inspections weren‘t working, regardless of whether or one concludes Hussein was stockpiling biological and chemical weapons: again and again, we heard Saddam and his aides discoursing on how they were able to fool inspectors with subterfuge and misdirection.
And, if you believe some of the alternate translations, Saddam’s admission that Iraq would never use such chemical or biological attacks on the US (a conclusion favored by ABC and Newsweek), actually supports the Bush administration’s fears—and our primary reason for invading Iraq: that the greatest danger posed by Iraq was Saddam’s willingness to farm these weapons out to terrorist groups for use, removing Iraq’s state fingerprints.
Listening to the tapes, you are left with one of two choices: you either believe Saddam was a self-important (though largely internationally impotent) iron-fisted ruler who posed no threat to the US, for all his bluster to the contrary; or else you believe him to be precisely the man he’s always been: a murderous tyrant who would use whatever means at his disposal—including alliances of convenience—to attack the US and its interests.
eleven unfashionable thoughts
History is littered with Great Seductions. Every couple of hundred years, there is a particularly virulent Great Seduction, a utopian ideology which promises, with catastrophic consequences, to build heaven-on-earth. The last truly Great Seduction was communism which, fuelled by the seductive promises of an international brotherhood of intellectual Casanovas, resulted in widespread political destruction, economic misery and cultural carnage.
The grander the promises, the greater the seduction. So what is the next Great Seduction? What is the next all-encompassing dream knitting together lavish promises about politics, community, culture and media? What next single truth promises to deliver heaven-on-earth to its followers?
The next Great Seduction is digital utopianism. Think of it as the Silicon Valley version of communism. Its outline can now be glimpsed in the fantasies now being peddled by utopians in a revolution that Silicon Valley insiders call “Web 2.0.” These digital idealists are seeking to revolutionize our media and culture through new technologies such as blogs, search engines, wikis and podcasts. For the digital utopians of Silicon Valley, new technology has become the vehicle to create social justice, free culture, democratize media, revitalize politics, confirm humanity and, last but not least, establish heaven-on-earth.
crushing dissent again
...by Democrats. From Powerline:
Brian Melendez is the chairman of the Minnesota Democratic Party. This past Thursday Melendez called a press conference and condemned the first of the two advertisements -- the one featuring the veterans -- as "un-American, untruthful and a lie."
The two advertisements can be viewed here. The first of the two ads is devoted to the Iraq war veterans; the second to the Gold Star Families, featuring Merrilee Carlson of St. Paul. Mrs. Carlson's son Michael was killed in Iraq last year; the Wall Street Journal published Michael's "credo" this past Memorial Day.
In Minnesota the mask has fallen from the Democratic Party. It has condemned the message of Lt. Col. Bob Stephenson and the other veterans supporting the mission in Iraq as "un-American." Yet it has gone beyond its outrageous condemnation of the ads. It has actually sought to suppress the message of the featured war veterans and Gold Star Families, emailing Party members and urging them to contact television stations demanding "the removal of the ads."
The Democratic Party has officially pronounced that Col. Stephenson and his ads are "un-American." That such a thing could happen is almost beyond belief -- a Marine officer with more than ten years of active duty labeled "un-American" for supporting America's foreign policy -- but it is nevertheless true. And attention must be paid.
I watched the ads, and the only controversial statement is that "our enemy in Iraq is Al Qaida, the same terrorists who killed 3000 Americans on 9/11..."
Yes, we are fighting Al Qaida in Iraq, but we are also fighting Baathist remnants. Liberals go nuts when anyone remotely suggests a link between Saddam and 9/11. They have a point, but a small one.
They cry censorship with Linda Ronstadt gets booed off stage (by paying customers) for making anti-Bush comments during a concert, but think nothing about overtly trying to supress a political ad that contradicts them.
back to the future in russia
President Vladimir Putin urged the government Friday to speed up the creation of a state-supported venture capital fund to spur investment in innovative technologies.
"Venture capital funds have to be created now" without being put on the back burner, Putin told Economic Trade and Development Minister German Gref during their meeting at the Kremlin.
The idea of a fund to support the development of start-up technology firms was first floated by Putin during his meeting with IT scientists and businessmen in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday and appears to be part of the government's strategy to diversify the economy and redirect development away from natural resources production toward processing and high technology.
Government venture capital is a contradiction in terms. The free market calculates risk/reward differently (efficiently) than any government created entitity. In Russia, with its legacy of central economic planning, its hard to see this working.
You may also remember that Bill Clinton and Al Gore, freshly in office, had big ideas about building teams of smart people to spotlight technologies to build the "information superhighway." That is, they were going to invest tax dollars (your money) in technologies they deemed promising.
But while Clinton-Gore were still yapping about all this, thousands of small startups funded by venture capitalists investing their own funds, built the commercial Internet we all enjoy today. All in a matter of five years.
The dotcom boom had its dry holes, and its investment bubble, but a tremendous transformation took place. And government had nothing to do with it.
Putin would do well to read The Wisdom of Crowds.
Actor Gary Busey conked his head hard in a motorcycle accident some years back. Maybe that explains his career choices. It's one thing to make anti-American films in Hollywood -- that gets you tagged as courageous, acting truth to power and all that.
But making an anti-American film for Muslim Turkey in which you play a Jewish doctor who harvests vital organs from Iraqis to send to Israel? Can't be good for the career.
German blogger David's Medienkritik looks at this in some detail.
Abu Ghraib is Back
for another round of condemnation. Medienkritik notes Der Spiegel's coverage:
Since when has America advocated torture as a means of promoting freedom? When someone is tortured or abused in a German jail in violation of established standards, does that mean the German government is torturing in the name of democracy as well? When illegal immigrants suffocate or commit suicide in German custody is that also in the name of democracy? It is as if the United States had never addressed the issue. It is as if the McCain bill torture ban had never been passed by Congress and signed by the President.
This is a dangerously cynical equation of two concepts. Particularly in a Europe where the general public is already so jaded that many no longer believe in the concept of freedom. Why? Because instead of reporting on the systematic violation of human rights in nations like North Korea and Iran the German media finds it necessary to exploit two year old photos of Abu Ghraib for profit (again and again). Never mind that Saddam's Abu Ghraib was a thousand times worse or that hundreds of thousands are starving to death in Kim Jong Il's gulags. There is no need for context in the world of asymmetric journalism.
Germany's Disgrace: Standing By While Dictators Murder Millions
Germany opposed toppling Saddam and his regime of mass graves. It was not Germany or the UN but the United States that ended the killing in the Balkans. And while SPIEGEL lectures us on "America's Disgrace," the German government is out actively promoting business ties and trade fairs with the Sudanese government as the slaughter in Darfur continues.
Ex-Chancellor Schroeder favored lifting the EU arms embargo on China, perhaps the world's most prolific violator of human rights. German efforts to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions have proven to be more of the same impotent diplomatic dupery that too many Europeans support at all costs. In the meantime the Iranians have taken advantage of the stalling to advance their insane ambitions to destroy Israel and threaten the world.
sunday february 19, 2006
silly city by the bay
Lay down your arms, Uncle Sam:
Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval was invited on Fox News on Tuesday to discuss locating warships on San Francisco’s waterfront, but he ended up dropping a major bomb with the news channel’s conservative audience when he made the following statement: The United States should not have a military.
Sandoval’s declaration, which came before a national audience on the popular Hannity and Colmes news program, drew a flood of calls and e-mails — some even threatening violence — to his City Hall office. It also provoked surprise and bemusement among Sandoval’s Board of Supervisors colleagues, who have been caught up in their own fair share of verbal snafus.
The statement came after Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes grilled Sandoval for voting against stationing the USS Iowa on San Francisco Bay. Sandoval, who sided with the majority of his fellow supervisors, said he felt it was inappropriate to put a 10-story symbol of war on the Bay. But then, after saying he supported the battle against Germany and Japan during World War II, Sandoval was asked whether the United States should have a military.
His response: “I don’t think we should have a military. Absolutely.”
steyn is fine
The third jolly event of the week was those other excitable fellows -- the Big Media White House reporters -- jumping up and down shouting "Death to Dick Cheney!" NBC's David Gregory, the George Clooney of the press corps, was yelling truth to power about why the Elmer-Fudd-in-gun-rampage story was released to "a local Corpus Christi newspaper, not the White House press corps at large.'' I know how he feels. I remember, like, four or five years ago -- early September, maybe second week -- there was this building collapse in New York and I had to learn about it from the TV because this notoriously secretive paranoid administration couldn't even e-mail me a timely press release. For an NBC guy discovering that some hicksville nowhere-burg one-stop-light feed-price sheet got tipped off before he did is like a dowager duchess turning up at the royal banquet to discover the scullery maid's been seated next to the queen.
So anyway David Gregory's going bananas and yelling "I will yell!" and "Don't be a jerk!" at the White House press secretary, and there's more smoke coming out of his ears than from Ronald McDonald in Lahore, and I'm thinking, you know, maybe Karl's latest range of Rovebots that he planted in American media corporations are just a wee bit too parodically self-absorbed to be plausible. And then this lady pipes up and asks, "Would this be much more serious if the man had died?"
Well, maybe. And maybe it would be even ever so much more serious still if, after peppering him with birdshot, Cheney had dragged him into a safe house in the Sunni Triangle and decapitated him with a rusty scimitar while shouting "Allahu Ahkbar!" and then sold the video to al-Jazeera.
Fortunately, the Washington Post had that wise old bird David Ignatius to put it in the proper historical context: "This incident," he mused, "reminds me a bit of Sen. Edward Kennedy's delay in informing Massachusetts authorities about his role in the fatal automobile accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969."
Hmm. Let's see. On the one hand, the guy leaves the gal at the bottom of the river struggling for breath pressed up against the window in some small air pocket while he pulls himself out of the briny, staggers home, sleeps it off and saunters in to inform the cops the following day that, oh yeah, there was some broad down there. And, on the other hand, the guy calls 911, has the other fellow taken to the hospital, lets the sheriff know promptly but neglects to fax David Gregory's make-up girl!
winning the drug war?
I believe the "war on drugs" is a stupid public policy that creates criminal franchises and doesn't prevent drug use. If you can buy heroin inside a federal prison, and you can so I'm told, then who's kidding whom?
In the interest of equal time, here is Jonathan Last reporting that we're winning the war on drugs.
bully for you
...in Denmark, Muslims make up only 5% of the population but receive 40% of welfare outlays. Many of these immigrants are told by their leaders that Muslim law gives them the right to "cheat and lie in the countries that harbor them." They are told to view the benefits they receive as jizya--the tributes that "the infidel natives of Muslim-occupied countries are obliged to pay to Muslims in order to preserve their lives."
And the welfare offices in Denmark can be the setting for violence--termed "culture clashes" by Danish journalists. "Some clients lay waste to social security offices and hit social workers--not out of frustration but because they've learned that bullying gets them what they want.
The Danish government is not repressive; welfare workers tend to be sympathetic and eager to help. Many immigrants perceive this as weakness, and exploit it, 'tyrannizing' the social workers." The Danish solution? More PC behavior--get translators to translate not only between languages but between cultures. Yeah, that will work.
jew launches anti-semitic cartoon contest
An Israeli cartoonist has launched an "anti-Semitic cartoon contest" to poke fun at fellow Jews in response to furore among Muslims over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.
Cartoonist Amitai Sandy said he was inspired by violent Muslim protests and the launching of a Holocaust cartoon competition by an Iranian daily that said it wanted to test the boundaries of free speech espoused by Western countries.
"We thought it would be a much braver thing to do to publish cartoons about ourselves, rather than our adversaries," Sandy told Reuters. "We want to fight fire with humour."
iraq wants to join nato
From Iraq the Model:
The senior advisor in the Iraqi defense ministry Mohammed al-Askari told the press today that the ministry is looking forward to seeing Iraq become a member of the NATO and that the minister Sa'doun al-Dulaimi, the chief of staff and the higher commanders are planning to propose this plan to the new government once it's seated.
Al-Askari told al-Hurra TV tonight that the chief commanders in the ministry had been discussing this subject with great interest for a long time and that:
If al-Dulaimi gets a second term he will be working hard to convince the parliament about the necessity of joining the NATO as this falls in Iraq's strategic interests….the recent changes in the Middle East region and Iran's intentions to pursue nuclear weapons is encouraging us to move in this direction.
We have got to think of a suitable deterring capability to protect Iraq from aggressions and we think being part of the NATO will provide Iraq with the best protection it can get because the NATO represents the base for peace and security in the world.
different leno, and this is no joke
The Sacramento Bee confirmed what many had feared: California has among the most lenient laws in the nation toward sexually violent predators, society's life-wreckers.
Gaping loopholes in California law let hard-core sex criminals committed to Atascadero State Hospital choose whether they want treatment. Almost none choose treatment, and after a breezy two-year stint, they are released from Atascadero - usually unmonitored, by lax courts.
As the Bee noted, the loophole is "precisely how 54 rapists and child molesters won release through the end of 2005 from their Atascadero commitments."
Last year, KCRA-TV (Channel 3) in Sacramento reported that one loophole, called the "opt-out" clause, granted 2,677 sex offenders "an exclusion" from being named on the attorney general's Web site. Legislators created the loophole, insisting that offenders found guilty of misdemeanors aren't that dangerous. The truth is, nobody knows how many of them are wily chronic offenders who sneak under the radar.
Last year, Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, essentially argued that misdemeanor sex criminals just need jobs. As quoted by KCRA, Leno said, "If you deny them secure housing and deny them an opportunity to get on their feet and get a job and to be able to move forward for themselves and for their own children, they're more likely to reoffend, not less likely."
Good Lord. Sex crimes are not caused by economic troubles.
It was Leno, once again, who oversaw the demise last year of a bill to close the horrific Atascadero loopholes delineated by the Bee.
Senate Bill 864 by Sen. Charles Poochigian would have extended the two-year "civil commitment" at Atascadero to an "indeterminate" length. Democrats in the Senate found it too strict, but Poochigian worked out a compromise. SB 864, approved by the Senate unanimously, required that sexually violent predators spend seven years at Atascadero.
To the shock of many, the bill was killed by Mark Leno and his two equally ultraliberal colleagues, Los Angeles-area legislators Jackie Goldberg and Lloyd Levine, in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
saturday february 18, 2006
get me one of these
Hat tip to Gerard van de Leun.
juggling like no other
An amazing performance from Chriss Bliss. You'll need Flash installed. And have your speakers turned on.
alec baldwin leaves no doubt
Mark Twain said, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." Case in point is Alec's insight into the Cheney bird shot incident:
So, I suppose the question is…what kind of civil trial will we see, or not see, between Cheney and Whittington? Whittington is certainly no stranger to a court room and to civil litigation. Will Cheney pay him off, preemptively? Will they go to court? I would imagine if a guy with a few beers in him shoots you in the face on a hunting trip, how could you turn down that opportunity?
What would Cheney do about the whole secrecy thing then? I mean, this is the guy that sicced Enron on Gray Davis and the state of California to embarrass Davis, trigger the recall and then watched Arnold Schwarzenegger become governor of California. (To this day, perhaps, still the low point in American political life.) Then Cheney covered it up.
Cheney’s the guy who told Libby to out Valerie Plame. The rumor I heard is that someone yelled, “Look out! Shooter!” and Cheney thought he said Scooter and fired in that general direction.
Cheney is a terrorist. He terrorizes our enemies abroad and innocent citizens here at home indiscriminately. Who ever thought Harry Whittington would be the answer to America’s prayers. Finally, someone who might get that lying, thieving Cheney into a courtroom to answer some direct questions.
"multiculturism of the streets"
Joe Kotkin writes about how America assimilates diverse cultures, and why this matters.
The best way to see this ongoing process is by checking out the streets of Houston, Los Angeles or New York—the great immigrant portals of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Among the people working there, concepts such as “ethnic solidarity”, “people of color” or “cultural community” generally count for less than basic principles such as “Does this sell?”, “What’s my market?”, and ultimately, “How do I fit in?”
Of course, for many immigrants their own ethnic group provides the ideal starting point for integration into America. Immigrants have always tended to cluster together, service each other and find unique economic niches. They have done so not mainly for reasons of ideology or ethno-political solidarity, however, but simply because it has provided the most obvious and immediate means of making a living.
In the 20th-century American city, this pattern was manifest in ethnic enclaves—Jewish, Chinese, Polish, Greek, Italian—that were in many ways self-sufficient. Immigrant businessmen thrived by providing groceries, insurance, banking and mortuary services to their compatriots. Before long, each group carved out its own economic niche—Jews in the garment industry, Chinese laundries, Greeks diners, Italians greengrocers and so on—which could be marketed to the rest of the society. To some extent, these specializations persisted over generations, and some still exist today. Some “ethnic” businesses, too, expanded well beyond their ethnic niches—A. P. Giannini’s Bank of America and Jewish-owned department stores such as Bloomingdale’s in New York or Gottschalks in California’s Central Valley are classic examples.
rich benefits if you live
The Army released captured Al Qaida documents, which include its "mission statement," health benefits and vacation policy, among other tidbits. Besides chrisitians and jews, they don't like Buddhists much either:
The waiting heroes will be found in the staunch Taliban movement… why not? It did show legendary heroism in protecting Osama bin Laden and in destroying the Buddha idols (this heroism didn’t cost America anything but some of Mr. Buddha’s stones)
I'd also like to thank the angry mobs for giving the Europeans a lesson in free speech. Europeans are unclear on the concept. It's against the law in Germany to deny the Holocaust. (A little late, I'd say.) Many European countries have laws against "hate speech" that don't seem too different in intent from what Muslim protesters want to do to Danish cartoonists--although the penalty phase of the trial probably would be less dramatic in Europe. Europeans suppose free speech is harmless--nattering in cafés. Americans know that the right to self-expression, like the right to bear arms, is dangerous. That's why we keep a firm grip on those rights. In America the worst kind of people can shoot their mouths off. And they can get shot.
Not shooting the worst kind of people is, of course, the cornerstone of European foreign policy. Now we see the fruits of this nuanced and sophisticated diplomacy all over the Muslim world. I haven't been so satisfied by a policy outcome since half the cars in France were set on fire last year. But if the past is anything to go by, the Europeans will learn nothing from any of this. (Although the French are these days, maybe, less inclined to ridicule the American obsession with finding a good parking place.)
The Europeans are the perfect target. They could have helped bring freedom, democracy, and law to the Muslim world, but they'd rather be smartasses. Meanwhile, my family and I will be participating in a little religious extremism ourselves this weekend--or so going to church is regarded by many Europeans. And after Mass we won't be eating Danishes. We'll be having "Prophet Pastries."
"[The Cheney shooting] was hardly an affair of state. And it was hardly going to be kept secret. Arrogance? The media laying these charges are the same media that just last week unilaterally decided that the public's right to know did not extend to seeing cartoons that had aroused half the world, burned a small part of it and deeply affected the American national interest.
Having arrogated to themselves the judgment of what a free people should be allowed to see regarding an issue that is literally burning, they then go ballistic over a few hours' delay in revealing an accident with only the most trivial connection to the nation's interest or purpose. Cheney got a judgment call wrong, for reasons that are entirely comprehensible. The disproportionate, at times hysterical, response to that error is far less comprehensible."
friday february 17, 2006
sacrilege as comic fodder
Posters for Mohammed sitcoms.
sound and fury
It's was only a week ago that NPR provided gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Senate Intelligence committee hearings into the NSA wiretaps. You'd think it was the McCarthy hearings or something monumental. But it was all posturing.
The Senate Intelligence Committee decided today not to investigate President Bush's domestic surveillance program, at least for the time being.
"I believe that such an investigation is currently unwarranted and would be detrimental to this highly classified program," Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas and chairman of the panel, said this afternoon following a closed session.
So, after making political hay, they got together and realized what Bush did was a) legal and b) important for the security of the country. But they already knew that. Thus, to alter one word of the Bard's:
Schumer's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Because I seldom see movies in theaters, it was only last weekend that I saw The Wedding Crashers, a movie that arrrived with high expectations. We liked it, but I'm a tough critic when it comes to pacing.
My sense was the movie was ten minutes too long. Then I remembered that as the DVD launched, we were offered a choice: the theatrical version or the "uncut" version. We chose the latter. Only later did I check the running times: sure enough, the "uncut" version was nine minutes longer.
Top screenwriters advise that if it occurs to them to cut something from their script, they cut it. Directors should follow the rule, too.
In most cases unrated and uncut DVD versions of films are a marketing gimmick, a reason for those who've seen the film to buy the disc. Rarely are the alternate versions shorter or better.
trouble south of the border
Way south, in Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez -- darling of such intellectual flyweights as Harry Belafonte, Cindy Sheehan and Danny Glover -- is trying to eliminate political opposition by fiat.
Does a woman who accepts America's money to build democracy deserve 16 years in prison? Only to a brutal dictator. But that doesn't excuse Congress, NOW and Jimmy Carter for having nothing to say.
Right under the news radar, a politicized court is about to throw Venezuelan democracy campaigner Maria Corina Machado into prison for "treason." Her so-called crime: Accepting a $54,000 grant from U.S. Congress' National Endowment for Democracy.
If words mean anything, Machado's treason must have been a bid to overthrow Chavez or turn the nation over to the rule of another country, right? No, all she and three others did was inform citizens about their supposed rights under Chavez's own 1999 constitution.
For Chavez, that was a crime. So his prosecutor handed the one-man judge and jury his demand for the most draconian sentence ever imposed on a National Endowment for Democracy recipient anywhere in the world.
That's why the silence from our nation's Capitol is so strange. Is Congress admitting, right along with Chavez, that its open-books bipartisan democracy-building arm is an instrument of conspiracy?
Where now is Rep. Lynne Woolsey, fresh from hosting "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan, whose last whistle-stop was a Venezuelan foreign-ministry-sponsored trip to kiss Chavez in Caracas?
counterpoint: sequins or not, this is sport
I like the Winter Olympics in small doses. Speed skating, Alpine skiing, luge -- they're all fine for a while. Not very exciting, but hey, it's only every couple of years. I disagree with those who say figure skating is not a sport just because competitors dress up pretty and the results are determined by judges.
What is baseball without umpires judging strikes and balls? Or football without refs deciding whether the receiver got two feet down inbounds? Or the NBA without refs deciding what's a foul or not? And if equipment is a disqualifier, how come auto racing is counted as sport?
When I see those guys lifting their skating partners over head with one hand -- gracefully, no less -- I marvel at the athleticism, even if the ladies are as slight as sparrows.
thursday february 16, 2006
culture of corruption
Around Washington, Rep. William J. Jefferson nurtured a reputation as a serious, even wonkish, lawmaker, a grade-school dropouts' son who graduated from Harvard Law School and was elected Louisiana's first black congressman since Reconstruction.
Then came the allegations last August that Jefferson had orchestrated a corruption scheme. Federal investigators are targeting the Democratic congressman, 58, for allegedly demanding cash and other favors for himself and relatives, in exchange for using his congressional clout to arrange African business deals. A former aide recently pleaded guilty to bribing Jefferson and is cooperating with authorities, and sources familiar with the case say a plea agreement with the lawmaker is being explored.
grains of salt
Much excitement has been generated in some quarters by news of Saddam audio tapes.
Tomorrow Intelligence Summit plans to release the tapes. The recordings may be authentic, but the prime mover (John Loftus) behind their release is, shall we say...colorful. For example, he believes the Bush family helped finance Adolf Hitler.
As for tapes, the information seems dated, even if completely true. Bigger news is that Saddam moved his WMD to Syria as Saddam's airforce general said.
American Thinker expands on that:
Only two weeks ago, General Sada, formerly Sadaam’s no 2 Air Force Commander, told the New York Sun that Sadaam’s WMD was moved to Syria just six weeks before the US-led invasion. Now Ali Ibrahim confirms this and explains the underlying strategy of Saddam:
I know Saddam’s weapons are in Syria due to certain military deals that were made going as far back as the late 1980’s that dealt with the event that either capitols were threatened with being overrun by an enemy nation. Not to mention I have discussed this in-depth with various contacts of mine who have confirmed what I already knew.
At this point Saddam knew that the United States were eventually going to come for his weapons and the United States wasn’t going to just let this go like they did in the original Gulf War. He knew that he had lied for this many years and wanted to maintain legitimacy with the pan Arab nationalists. He also has wanted since he took power to embarrass the West and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.
After Saddam denied he had such weapons why would he use them or leave them readily available to be found? That would only legitimize President Bush, who he has a personal grudge against. What we are witnessing now is many who opposed the war to begin with are rallying around Saddam saying we overthrew a sovereign leader based on a lie about WMD. This is exactly what Saddam wanted and predicted.
beware of greeks missing jokes
Ace of Spades notes:
Over at the Huffington Post, Arianna reports:
TiVo Moment #1: After Cheney walked Hume through the specifics of the shooting, including a cataloguing of Whittington's injuries ("He was struck in the right side of his face, his neck and his upper torso on the right side of his body"), Hume inexplicably followed up with this jaw dropper: "And I take it you missed the bird?"
F'n' Brit Hume. Coolest cat in the news. Arianna then screeches:
The VP has just painted a verbal picture of blasting his friend in the face and Brit is wondering about... the bird?!
I'm pretty sure Michael Huffington is the one homosexual who wasn't born gay. But the poor sonofabitch just never had a chance, did he? What would you have done?
Me? Had I married Arianna Huffington? I think I'd be blasting my own friend in the face right now, if you know what I'm sayin'.
The Iranian regime (the mullocracy, not the Iranan people) thinks this cartoon is the soul of wit:
But is outraged by this cartoon published in a Berlin daily newspaper joking about the Iranian soccer team. The caption says "Why the Bundeswehr [German army] absolutely has to be deployed at the World Cup."
der spiegel sees its mirror image
David Kaspar looks at how the anti-American Der Spiegel has reacted with horror to the new anti-American movie from Turkey. A great post, here.
george clooney feels like "a traitor"
George Clooney, who came to Berlin’s film festival last week, got gobs of space to talk about politics. Clooney complained to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that he was treated like “a traitor” in the U.S. for his opposition to the Iraq war. That’s why he lives in Italy today, he told Stern magazine. It sounds strange.
Film maker Michael Moore got rich in America by being against the war. New York Times’ columnists Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd were against the war. So were the LA Times, the Boston Globe, the Nation magazine, Noam Chomsky, Norman Mailer, the Dixie Chicks, conservative pundit Pat Buchanan, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, as was, of course, most of Hollywood. In any case, opposition to the war does not seem to have harmed George Clooney's pocket book. He manages exile in a 26 room, waterfront villa.
Lego suicides, a slideshow of death by Lego. Come to think of it, Lego is a Danish company. I wonder why the cartoon jihadis didn't think of burning Legos in the streets of Pakistan.
This is a smart idea from Apple. The story is a couple of weeks old, but didn't get much play:
SAN JOSE, Calif., AP- In its latest move to broaden its iPod and iTunes franchises, Apple Computer Inc. has introduced "iTunes U," a nationwide expansion of a service that makes course lectures and other educational materials accessible via Apple's iTunes software.
The company behind the iPod portable players, the iTunes online music store and Macintosh computers had been working with six universities on the pilot project for more than a year and expanded the educational program this week, inviting other universities to sign up.
The University of Missouri offered podcasts of lectures through its school network before it signed up with Apple last summer as a pilot school. But "iTunes U" offered a software and service package for free, said Keith Politte, the development officer at the university's School of Journalism.
More directly from Apple.
wednesday february 15, 2006
oh Ted, you're such a card
When one general used the expression "shooting ourselves in the gut," [Senator] Kennedy interrupted to say, "I'm not sure that's a good analogy today."
[Sen.] Clinton threw back her head and laughed so heartily it echoed through the cavernous committee room.
If anyone should refrain from cracking jokes about accidents, it is Whisky Ted Kennedy. His moral failures and his cowardice resulted in the drowning of a young woman companion.
To summarize, Dick Cheney earned the wrath of the press corps for waiting ten hours or so to notify them of the hunting accident. During that time, Cheney was with his friend at the hospital and seeing to his health. Apparently he decided a mob of reporters at the hospital would not be therapeutic.
Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge, swam to safety and abandoned Mary Joe Kopechne to her doom. Ten hours later he reported the accident to authorities.
popular science refutes congress on katrina
A fascinating look at what, and what did not, happen during Katrina. Sample:
MYTH: "The aftermath of Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history."--Aaron Broussard, president, Jefferson Parish, La., Meet the Press, NBC, Sept. 4, 2005
REALITY: Bumbling by top disaster-management officials fueled a perception of general inaction, one that was compounded by impassioned news anchors. In fact, the response to Hurricane Katrina was by far the largest--and fastest-rescue effort in U.S. history, with nearly 100,000 emergency personnel arriving on the scene within three days of the storm's landfall.
Dozens of National Guard and Coast Guard helicopters flew rescue operations that first day--some just 2 hours after Katrina hit the coast. Hoistless Army helicopters improvised rescues, carefully hovering on rooftops to pick up survivors. On the ground, "guardsmen had to chop their way through, moving trees and recreating roadways," says Jack Harrison of the National Guard. By the end of the week, 50,000 National Guard troops in the Gulf Coast region had saved 17,000 people; 4000 Coast Guard personnel saved more than 33,000.
the left wants to muzzle free speech
George Clooney has talked about returning to the days when everyone had the same "fact level." By that, he means he wants to return to the "good old days," as he sees them, when "The News" was a neat package presented from on high by Walter Cronkite, who fed us the liberal line and disguised it as the only version of the news worth hearing and objective truth.
What Clooney fears is the increasing number of news outlets geared toward news of interest to conservatives. These news organizations, on talk radio, on the Internet and some on cable news, have undermined the liberal media monopoly that used to exist.
Realizing they are losing influence and are on the defensive, liberals are moving to re-establish the Fairness Doctrine, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule that required broadcasters to offer equal time to opposing views of those expressed on the airwaves. The result would be a government bureaucracy monitoring what goes out on the air and making broadcasters and commentators reluctant to discuss controversial political issues.
The rise of alternative media—political talk radio in the eighties, cable news in the nineties, and the blogosphere in the new millennium—has broken the liberal monopoly over news and opinion outlets. The Left understands acutely the implications of this revolution, blaming much of the Democratic Party’s current electoral trouble on the influence of the new media’s vigorous conservative voices.
Instead of fighting back with ideas, however, today’s liberals quietly, relentlessly, and illiberally are working to smother this flourishing universe of political discourse under a tangle of campaign-finance and media regulations. Their campaign represents the most sustained attack on free political speech in the United States since the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts. Though Republicans have the most to lose in the short run, all Americans who care about our most fundamental rights and the civic health of our democracy need to understand what’s going on—and resist it.
The most imminent danger comes from campaign-finance rules, especially those spawned by the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act. Republican maverick John McCain’s co-sponsorship aside, the bill passed only because of overwhelming Dem support. It’s easy to see why liberals have spearheaded the nation’s three-decade experiment with campaign-finance regulation.
Seeking to rid politics of “big-money corruption,” election-law reforms obstruct the kinds of political speech—political ads and perhaps now the feisty editorializing of the new media—that escape the filter of the mainstream press and the academy, left-wing fiefdoms still regulation-free. Campaign-finance reform, notes columnist George Will, by steadily expanding “government’s control of the political campaigns that decide who controls government,” advances “liberalism’s program of extending government supervision of life.”
The Turks have waded into Michael Moore territory with a new anti-American film called Valley of the Wolves: Iraq. The film contains scenes where:
Gum-chewing U.S. soldiers shoot Iraqis in cold blood at a wedding in one scene from the movie. In another scene, set at Abu Ghraib prison, a Jewish-American doctor harvests Iraqi prisoners' kidneys for sale to Israel and the West.
You mean it wasn't all about oil? Where were the pickets demanding "No blood for organs!"?
For you Oscar fans, the actor playing the ghoul is none other than Gary Busey. Naturally, the film is a hit in Turkey and word-of-mouth is spreading like bird flu across Europe. Following the lead of such notables as Al Gore and Ted Kennedy, the film also makes a big deal about prisoner mistreatment at Abu Ghraib. Which invites the following comparison:
Number killed: zero
How story came to light: Army's own investigation and press release
Prosecution of culpable: Swift and decisive-- people are doing time.
Turkish Genocide of Armenians in 1917
Number killed: 1.7 million
How story came to light: survivor stories, journalists
Prosecution of culpable: None. Turks still deny murdering 1.7 million people, and get quite testy when anyone brings it up.
If you want to see an excellent film about the Armenian genocide, check out Atom Egoyan's Ararat.
man and machine at the olympics
Athletes at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin are more dependent on their equipment than ever before. Whether they're downhill skiers, bobsledders or biathletes, hardly any aspiring medalists are competing without the input of scientists and engineers -- and some will fail for simply believing they're at a disadvantage.
science myth or truth?
Can a chicken live without a brain? Is a dog's mouth cleaner than a human's? Read the most popular myths in science.
angela merkel sparkles
Jay Nordlinger writes in National Review (print edition) about German chancellor Angela Merkel's speech at the World Economic Forum:
I doubt you’ve ever seen a more unassuming-looking leader than Merkel: plain, ordinary, a real hausfrau. But when she opens her mouth, she is nothing short of extraordinary. She hits repeated notes of freedom: freedom for business, freedom for the individual, freedom for all. Her speech is essentially Reaganite, or Thatcherite.
This is surprising, or at least it is to me: I always thought she was what we on the American right would call a squish—you know, sort of a German Nancy Johnson (congresswoman from Connecticut). But no—not by the evidence of this speech. Merkel sounds like a woman who grew up in a Communist country. Which, of course, she did.
Early on, she quotes her great predecessor, Ludwig Erhard, who said, “I want to prove myself by my own efforts; I want to meet the risks of life myself; I want to be responsible for my own fate. You, the state, must see to it that I’m in a position to live this way.” She laments that Germany, like much of Europe, has been hamstrung: by regulation, taxation, fear.
She begs her listeners not to be afraid of positive, liberalizing change. “Freedom is an elementary good for mankind,” she says. Now, this may seem Simple Simon to you, my dear American reader. But it is astonishing—and super-refreshing—out of a European leader’s mouth. (Not counting the Reaganite knights of the East.) At the end of her speech, Merkel quotes James Watt— no, not President Reagan’s interior secretary. That would be asking too much. The father of the steam engine, who knew the value of invention, and of perseverance.
That is the spirit that Merkel wishes for today. She may not succeed in her aims, opposed as she is by the powerful forces of conservatism and reaction. But if anybody can get creaking European machinery moving, just a bit—it’s this lady, I wager. We must watch her.
A German Thatcher...that would be great.
tuesday february 14, 2006
tests predict "your chances of dying"
Uh, they're about 100%, no?
It sounds like a perfect parlor game for baby boomers suddenly confronting their own mortality: What are your chances of dying within four years? Researchers have come up with 12 risk factors to try to answer that for people who are 50 and older.
This is one game where you want a low score. Zero to 5 points says your risk of dying in four years is less than 4 percent. With 14 points, your risk rises to 64 percent.
Just being male gives you 2 points. So does having diabetes, being a smoker, and getting pooped trying to walk several blocks.
the real quagmire
The Democrats and progressives have been waging a war on Bush for years now. It started out for admirable reasons - getting Bush out of power using any means possible - but now it has become obvious that this can no longer be accomplished. Instead, the only ones losing power are Democrats. This war has to end.
How many Democrats have lost office in this fight against Bush? While people seem to care about the death counts in Iraq, no one takes note as the number of Democrats who have lost office increases. Not only that, but there is the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from losing against Bush. It is obvious that Al Gore will never be able to live a normal life again and will require constant supervision for the rest of his days. Just check the internet for more instances of people having lost their minds trying to fight against the ethereal foe that is the Bush Presidency. And, to what end is this?
rooting for america
It's curious to see the mainstream media openly cheerleading for US Olympic athletes. Every day brings an accounting of how many medals America has won. But medals are won by individuals, not nations.
The hard work, skill and sacrifice those athletes make is not a group effort (not to discount the contributions of coaches and those who fund their training.) Let the best athletes win. Excellence is excellence.
National boosterism is most likely a holdover from the Cold War when each Olympics was a contest between good and evil -- the west vs. the communist bloc. As a kid I'd see a skater from Hungary or Czechoslovakia and immediately root against him. Now I realize those Iron Curtain athletes were prisoners of an oppressive system that smothered individual effort and personal striving. Those competitions were the one chance a few gifted souls got for enjoying the pursuit of personal excellence.
The media's American Olympic boosterism stands in contrast to its posture on the war on terror, where it pretends to some kind of neutrality. Fox News is mocked for failing to hide its interest in seeing us win against Islamofascism while the sophisticates at the New York Times dream up ways to hinder our efforts.
Perhaps the answer is for Al Qaida to field an Olympic team. Surely their women could compete in the snowboard half-pipe events -- the uniforms are baggy and contestant's faces remain covered.
monday february 13, 2006
"seething midwest explodes over lombardi cartoons"
Great to see Iowahawk back:
Like a pot of bratwurst left unattended at a Lambeau Field pregame party, simmering tensions in the strife-torn Midwest boiled over once again today as rioting mobs of green-and-gold clad youth and plump farm wives rampaged through Wisconsin Denny’s and IHOPs, burning Texas toast and demanding apologies and extra half-and-half.
The spark igniting the latest tailgate hibachi of unrest: a Texas newsletter's publication of caricatures of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
Protestors demonstrated against the images throughout the Badger State yesterday, with violent egging and cow-tipping incidents reported in Oconomowac, Pewaukee, Sheboygan, Ozaukee, Antigo, Oshkosh, Waubeno, Wauwautosa, Waunewoc, Wyocena, Waubeka, and Washawonamowackapeepee.
Read it all.
msm is mia in iraq election
The silence was deafening and the seats were empty. The western press was nowhere to be found. The location was Baghdad and the event was a February 10th, 2006 press conference announcing the final verification of December's election results. Although the final allocation of parliamentary seats did not change from last month's tentative reports, the conference was nonetheless significant for American and Iraqi history. What was equally significant was the absence of members of the western press.
If the pre-release of the topics to be discussed included reports of widespread voter fraud, complaints by detained terrorists of maltreatment, or a sudden clamoring for the return of the deadly former dictator, certainly, the major news networks and the print media would have found time to attend. Of course, their reports would have consisted of their own perceived failure of western style elections in a part of the world that they deem to be unprepared for democracy. Since they were unable to report a "disastrous" event of this war, apparently, their budgets did not allow for attendance in Baghdad.
The true significance of this announcement is the underlying theme which the anti-war crowd refuses to recognize: the war has been successful and there is verifiable progress within the country of Iraq. Not only did we defeat a murderous despot, we have gained an ally in the war against terrorism. Just three short years ago, these same people were being terrorized by a vicious regime whose primary responsibility was supposed to be to protect its own citizens. After being victims of this brutal state, free Iraqis are now fighting their former oppressors who consist of remnants of the Ba'ath Party and the foreign terrorists who have taken it upon themselves to determine what is best for the Iraqi people.
gore runs off at mouth again
This time kissing up to a Saudi audience:
Gore said Arabs had been "indiscriminately rounded up" and held in "unforgivable" conditions. The former vice president said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaida's hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications.
Aint this what Michael Moore asked for?
"The thoughtless way in which visas are now handled, that is a mistake," Gore said during the Jiddah Economic Forum. "The worst thing we can possibly do is to cut off the channels of friendship and mutual understanding between Saudi Arabia and the United States."
Democrats routinely criticize Bush for being too nice to the Saudis.
Gore told the largely Saudi audience, many of them educated at U.S. universities, that Arabs in the United States had been "indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable."
Not likely, but given that a bunch of Saudi men attacked the US on 9/11, suspicion is warranted.
"Unfortunately there have been terrible abuses and it's wrong," Gore said. "I do want you to know that it does not represent the desires or wishes or feelings of the majority of the citizens of my country."
jane harman: prosecute ny times
In a stunning break with her party, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday that the New York Times should be prosecuted for damaging national security by revealing the National Security Agency's top secret terrorist surveillance program authorized by President Bush.
"If the press was part of the process of delivering classified information, there have to be some limits on press immunity," Rep. Jane Harman told NBC's "Meet the Press."
Moderator Tim Russert then pressed: "But if [the NSA leak] came from a whistleblower, should the New York Times reporter be prosecuted?"
Harman countered: "Well, it's not clear it was a whistleblower. You have to prove that first."
"If it's protected by the whistleblower statute, then it's protected," she explained. Harman then added, however, that CIA Director Porter Goss recently said that the Times' sources don't qualify under the whistleblower statute.
"By the way, I deplore that leak," Harman declared moments before her comments on prosecuting the Times. "This is a very valuable foreign [intelligence] collection program. I think it is tragic that a lot of our capabilities are now [spread] across the pages of the newspapers."
sunday february 12, 2006
In a world in which Danish cartoons insult the prophet and Disney Piglet mugs insult the prophet and Burger King chocolate ice-cream swirl designs insult the prophet, maybe it would just be easier to make a list of things that don't insult him. Nonetheless, the Muslim Association wrote to the Ann Summers sex-shop chain, "We are asking you to have our Most Revered Prophet's name 'Mustafa' and the afflicted word 'shag' removed."
If I were a Muslim, I'd be "hurt" and "humiliated" that the revered prophet's name is given not to latex blowup males but to so many real blowup males: The leader of the 9/11 plotters? Mohammed Atta. The British Muslim who self-detonated in a Tel Aviv bar? Asif Mohammed Hanif.
The gunman who shot up the El Al counter at LAX? Heshamed Mohamed Hedayet. The former U.S. Army sergeant who masterminded the slaughter at the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania? Ali Mohamed. The murderer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh? Mohammed Bouyeri. The notorious Sydney gang rapist? Mohammed Skaf. The Washington sniper? John Allen Muhammed. If I were a Muslim, I would be deeply offended that the prophet's name is the preferred appellation of so many killers and suicide bombers on every corner of the earth.
porter goss: "loose lips sink spies"
AT the Central Intelligence Agency, we are more than holding our own in the global war on terrorism, but we are at risk of losing a key battle: the battle to protect our classified information.
Judge Laurence Silberman, a chairman of President Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said he was "stunned" by the damage done to our critical intelligence assets by leaked information. The commission reported last March that in monetary terms, unauthorized disclosures have cost America hundreds of millions of dollars; in security terms, of course, the cost has been much higher. Part of the problem is that the term "whistleblower" has been misappropriated. The sharp distinction between a whistleblower and someone who breaks the law by willfully compromising classified information has been muddied.
As a member of Congress in 1998, I sponsored the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act to ensure that current or former employees could petition Congress, after raising concerns within their respective agency, consistent with the need to protect classified information.
Exercising one's rights under this act is an appropriate and responsible way to bring questionable practices to the attention of those in Congress charged with oversight of intelligence agencies. And it works. Government employees have used statutory procedures — including internal channels at their agencies — on countless occasions to correct abuses without risk of retribution and while protecting information critical to our national defense.
On the other hand, those who choose to bypass the law and go straight to the press are not noble, honorable or patriotic. Nor are they whistleblowers. Instead they are committing a criminal act that potentially places American lives at risk. It is unconscionable to compromise national security information and then seek protection as a whistleblower to forestall punishment.
And yet where is the Valerie Plame outrage from the media? Don't ask.
UPDATE: Inquiry into leaks broadens
dr. coburn goes to washington
More on the physician-senator who speaks his mind.
LA Times columnist Tim Rutten is so predictably liberal and obtuse, I've all but stopped reading him. But yesterday's column was a gem. He describes how his newspaper refused to publish the Mohammed cartoons, along with most media outlets.
Among those who decline to show the caricatures, only one, the Boston Phoenix, has been forthright enough to admit that its editors made the decision "out of fear of retaliation from the international brotherhood of radical and bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do. This is, frankly, our primary reason for not publishing any of the images in question. Simply stated, we are being terrorized, and as deeply as we believe in the principles of free speech and a free press, we could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy."
There is something wonderfully clarifying about honesty.
He points out (as we did) that an Egyptian newspaper published the cartoons in October.
Nothing, however, quite tops the absurdity of two pieces on the situation done this week by the New York Times and CNN. In the former instance, a thoughtful essay by the paper's art critic was illustrated with a 7-year-old reproduction of Chris Ofili's notorious painting of the Virgin Mary smeared with elephant dung. (Apparently, her fans aren't as touchy as Muhammad's.)
Thursday, CNN broadcast a story on how common anti-Semitic caricatures are in the Arab press and illustrated it with —you guessed it — one virulently anti-Semitic cartoon after another. As the segment concluded, Wolf Blitzer looked into the camera and piously explained that while CNN had decided as a matter of policy not to broadcast any image of Muhammad, telling the story of anti-Semitism in the Arab press required showing those caricatures.
He didn't even blush.
And how about Catholic feelings?
If the Danish cartoons are, in fact, being withheld from most American newspaper readers and television viewers out of restraint born of a newfound respect for people's religious sensitivities, a great opportunity to prove the point is coming. A major American studio, Sony, shortly will release a film version of Dan Brown's bestselling novel "The Da Vinci Code." It's fair to say that you'd have to go back to the halcyon days of the Nativist publishing operations in the 19th century to find a popular book quite as blatantly and vulgarly anti-Catholic as this one.
Its plot is a vicious little stew of bad history, fanciful theology and various slanders directed at the Vatican and Opus Dei, an organization to which thousands of Catholic people around the world belong. In this vile fantasy, the Catholic hierarchy is corrupt and manipulative and Opus Dei is a violent, murderous cult. The late Pope John Paul II is accused of subverting the canonization process by pushing sainthood for Josemaría Escrivá, Opus' founder, as a payoff for the organization's purported "rescue" of the Vatican bank. The plot's principal villain is a masochistic albino Opus Dei "monk" for whom murder is just one of many sadistic crimes. (It probably won't do any good to point out that, while it's unclear whether Opus Dei has any albino members, there definitely are no monks.)
This week the news media reported President Bush's account of a thwarted 2002 plot to destroy an office tower in Los Angeles with a bit of a wink, as if to say, "maybe he's hyping this to keep us scared."
My question to MSM: if there's nothing to fear from Muslim terrorists, why are you so afraid of publishing cartoons?
yet one more cartoon post
Lots of insight here.
...mass demonstrations almost never represent mainstream public sentiment in the West. Why then should we take it as given that they do among Muslims? Every society has its silent majorities, but it's only in democracies that those majorities exercise a decisive influence.
If Islamic societies seem premodern and violent, this surely has something to do with the fact that most Muslim countries today are places where there is no democracy; where silent majorities stay silent; where, to adapt W.H. Auden, "only the man behind the rifle has free speech."
saturday february 11, 2006
dizzy dean and fuzzy math
Howard Dean: “Thousands of people died in New Orleans because the president didn’t pay attention and denied that he knew about it. . . . it turns out that wasn’t true.”
Fact: 1,079 bodies were recovered in Louisiana.
Fact: many residents stubbornly chose to stay behind.
Fact: many more could have been evacuated if the New Orleans mayor and Louisiana governor were not incompetents.
Fact: Bush asked the governor on Saturday before the storm to order a mandatory evacuation.
nigeria's answer to cindy sheehan
more from ayaan hirsi ali
Shame on those papers and TV channels who lacked the courage to show their readers the caricatures in The Cartoon Affair. These intellectuals live off free speech but they accept censorship. They hide their mediocrity of mind behind noble-sounding terms such as ‘responsibility’ and ‘sensitivity’.
Shame on those politicians who stated that publishing and re-publishing the drawings was ‘unnecessary’, ‘insensitive’, ‘disrespectful’ and ‘wrong’. I am of the opinion that Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark acted correctly when he refused to meet with representatives of tyrannical regimes who demanded from him that he limit the powers of the press. Today we should stand by him morally and materially. He is an example to all other European leaders. I wish my prime minister had Rasmussen’s guts.
Shame on those European companies in the Middle East that advertised “we are not Danish” or “we don’t sell Danish products”. This is cowardice. Nestle chocolates will never taste the same after this, will they? The EU member states should compensate Danish companies for the damage they have suffered from boycotts.
take a third off the top
If you live in New York, that's the tax bite. Check out this interactive map to see how your state stacks up.
post-rapture pet care
If you're a Christian, you've got a big problem on your hands. After you're swept away to walk the streets of gold with Jesus, red hot lava is going to pour from Mt. St. Helens and right over your dog, leaving his burned body encased for millennia until discovered by godless alien archeologists. And what do you suppose they'll do to his charred yet supple and hermetically sealed haunches? They are godless after all. (What would you do? That long space voyage sure can be lonely.)
JesusPets has the solution. For a modest fee you can live for eternity relatively guilt-free knowing a JesusPets animal lover took care of your dog for the rest of his or her natural life.
weather report: A sh*tty day coming up
He's heard that it's impossible, but Timothy J. Rohn swears human waste is raining from the sky.
"It doesn't look like friendly stuff," said the 47-year-old Richland Township resident whose home is in the flight path of airplanes going to and from MBS International Airport. "Bird poop is kind of white, but this is a lot of brown. It's a mess."
Tuesday, for the second time in as many months, Rohn found the suspicious substance splattered on the side of his truck and his home, on North Raucholz near Geddes.
"It's in the exact same spot," he said. "Some of it is white, but there are a lot ofbrown blotches, and it doesn't look like any goose poop to me. Plus, it would be quite a coincidence to have that many birds hit the exact same spot twice."
Even Richland Township Police Officer Gary Wade is perplexed.
"It's manure," Wade said, "and it came from the sky. If it came from some kind of fowl, it had to be one heck of a large flock. To me, it looks like bird droppings but, man, it had to be an awful large flock of birds. It's all over."
jimmuh's just a hypocrite
Former President Jimmy Carter, who publicly rebuked President Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program this week during the funeral of Coretta Scott King and at a campaign event, used similar surveillance against suspected spies.
"Under the Bush administration, there's been a disgraceful and illegal decision -- we're not going to the let the judges or the Congress or anyone else know that we're spying on the American people," Mr. Carter said Monday in Nevada when his son Jack announced his Senate campaign.
"And no one knows how many innocent Americans have had their privacy violated under this secret act," he said.
The next day at Mrs. King's high-profile funeral, Mr. Carter evoked a comparison to the Bush policy when referring to the "secret government wiretapping" of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
But in 1977, Mr. Carter and his attorney general, Griffin B. Bell, authorized warrantless electronic surveillance used in the conviction of two men for spying on behalf of Vietnam.
The men, Truong Dinh Hung and Ronald Louis Humphrey, challenged their espionage convictions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which unanimously ruled that the warrantless searches did not violate the men's rights.
In its opinion, the court said the executive branch has the "inherent authority" to wiretap enemies such as terror plotters and is excused from obtaining warrants when surveillance is "conducted 'primarily' for foreign intelligence reasons."
friday february 10, 2006
klinton uses voagra
Verbatim from a spam message:
Everybody knows the great sexual scandal known as "Klinton-Levinsky". After the relations like this Klintons popularity raised a lot! It is a natural phenomenon, because Bill as a real man in order not to shame himself when he was with Monica regularly used Voagra. What happened you see. His political figure became more bright and more attractive. It is very important for a man to be respected as a man!
Gee, sign me up.
coalition of the willing
A breakout of who's with us in Iraq.
"year of writing dangerously"
It is silly to pretend that there was anything risky about writing any of the scripts the LA Times paid homage to in the recent issue titled "The Year of Writing Dangerously." This is not Stalin's Soviet Union. There are no gulags or firing squads facing the fellows who wrote "Syriana," "Munich," "Crash," "Good Night, and Good Luck," and "History of Violence."
In spite of the fact that none of the movies did well at box office, suggesting that the old moguls had it right when they suggested that if you have a message, you should use Western Union, the future bodes brightly for all the writers. Writing is dangerous when you fear a knock at the door, not when your biggest worry is whether or not you're going to win an Oscar.
The New York Times didn't run the Mohammed cartoons, instead dredging up the Virgin Mary dung thing for publication. The Anchoress has a good time busting them for their cowardice:
A serious news editor does not have an enviable job, today. Terrorism has seeped into the newsrooms in the form of intimidation to silence.
It’s funny when you think about it. Practically from day one of President Bush’s first term, we have had to listen to people like Tim Robbins tell us about “the chill wind…” blowing, silencing all dissent. We heard his opinion because he wrote a play about it and numerous op-eds (all of which were published freely, by a free and comfortable press) and their publication patently belied his bellyaching. We’re heard Hillary assert - loudly - that dissent has not been allowed by the Bushies, even as we have read nothing but reams and reams of daily, hourly dissent, heard it from every news channel and sitcom.
This “Nazi” president has never done anything to thwart the free speech of those who would stalk him, or curse him, or caricature him or distort his policies. Usually, he just says, “we can disagree; that shows democracy is working.”
Up to now, the only silencing of the press has been by their own editing pencils.
If there was ever a time when the press should take an example from President Bush and say “we don’t negotiate with terrorists,” this might be it. Perhaps they are finding that what President Bush has done for the last 5 years is a damn sight harder than they knew. No, one does not envy what editors are going through, today.
villaraigosa: spanish for peacock
Antonio Villaraigosa was elected mayor of LA and immediately started turning every natural disaster in a mayoral photo-op. Wildfires break out? There's Antonio on the scene for the TV cameras assuring Angelenos that everything's gonna be allllll right.
Now dear Antonio is upset because President Bush didn't clue him in about the thwarted terror attack on Library Tower in 2002:
"I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the mayor said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I don't expect a call from the president - but somebody."
Well, he's only been mayor for nine months. The plot was in 2002. Which raises the question: is Antonio really concerned about being informed or just an opportunistic news whore feigning indignation?
ha ha, made ya look
Today's LA Times Calendar section devotes 16 paragraphs to divining the deeper meanings of the latest Vanity Fair magazine cover, which features undressed actresses Scarlett Johannsen and Keira Knightly, and fashion guy Tom Ford.
They needn't have bothered with all the blah blah blah. The magazine is an object for sale. It's cover is no more significant than an ad for a motorcycle featuring a girl in a bikini. The only difference is that VF has a clever PR department pitching its story to gullible media outlets.
Want to see how "pork" spending compares with entitlement spending? The graph illustrating this story might give you nightmares.
making it easy to cheat
Democrats whine loud and long about purported voter intimidation, but fail to understand that every fraudulent vote cast is an honest vote stolen. Now Democrats in Maryland have passed:
...election laws [that would] weaken safeguards against voter fraud as to make Maryland the nation's prime example of Election Day irresponsibility. The most troublesome bill undermines the concept of local polling places by allowing all voters to vote anywhere in Maryland using a provisional ballot. Gilles Burger, chairman of the state's Board of Elections, flatly says the bill invites fraud. His testimony prompted the Beall commission to warn that it would mean "a provisional ballot could be cast successfully in multiple counties and not be detected until after the votes were certified."
Another bill would allow any voter to cast an absentee ballot for any reason. The state's League of Women Voters noted that the bill undermines Election Day as the foundational day when votes are by law supposed to be cast. The league points out that absentee voting increases risks to "privacy, accuracy, security" and creates opportunities for "intimidation." Evidence also shows that absentee ballots are the most susceptible to fraud--and do not increase voter turnout.
A third bill imposes an unfunded mandate requiring all of Maryland's counties to let voters cast ballots during the five days before Election Day. Linda Lamore, the state's election administrator, warned legislators of her concerns about ballot security as well as her doubts the counties could comply by November.
Are Democrats so insecure of their electoral chances that they must undermine elections to win? Culture of corruption indeed.
thursday february 9, 2006
Suicide one small step at a time.
The European Union may try to draw up a media code of conduct to avoid a repeat of the furor caused by the publication across Europe of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, an EU commissioner said on Thursday.
In an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph, EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said the charter would encourage the media to show "prudence" when covering religion.
"The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression," he told the newspaper. "We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right."
culture of corruption
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid wrote at least four letters helpful to Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff, and the senator's staff regularly had contact with the disgraced lobbyist's team about legislation affecting other clients.
The activities — detailed in billing records and correspondence obtained by The Associated Press — are far more extensive than previously disclosed. They occurred over three years as Reid collected nearly $68,000 in donations from Abramoff's firm, lobbying partners and clients.
Reid's office acknowledged Thursday having "routine contacts" with Abramoff's lobbying partners and intervening on some government matters — such as blocking some tribal casinos — in ways Abramoff's clients might have deemed helpful. But it said none of his actions were affected by donations or done for Abramoff.
Read it all. Harry's got some 'splaining to do.
kofi the klown
"Honestly, I do not understand why any newspaper will publish the cartoons today," Annan said. "It is insensitive. It is offensive. It is provocative and you see what has happened around the world."
This is the same Kofi Annan who appeared, smiling, at the UN 'Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,' November 29, 2005 in a room with a map of the region that does not include Israel.
And where he and others at the UN rose for a moment of silence for "all those who have given their lives for the cause of the Palestinian people." Including suicide bombers.
Of course, Kofi found that neither offensive nor provocative.
faces of evil
An Iranian court sentences a rape victim to hang.
If a woman or a girl is raped, she is sentenced to death for committing "acts incompatible with chastity". And if she fights back, and escapes rape by killing her attacker, she is also to be sentenced to death. There's no information about what happens to the rapists, but I suspect that they're not getting the death penalty. So waht incentive is there for men not to rape women if the penalty will fall on the victim? What a travesty of a government.
strong economy, weak coverage
People can't believe what they don't read.
sweden scaling back socialism
To boost economic growth.
open pandora's box
Pandora has a clever way to expand your musical horizons. Log on, choose a favorite artist and let their software create a "radio station" based on music that is similar.
Songs are selected based on their musical "genome" as determined by a team of musicians who listen and classify thousands of CDs. As the music streams into your computer, you refine the playlist by accepting or rejecting songs.
You can create different stations, with your preferences stored as a browser cookie (I assume-- it remembered my settings without any registration process). As the screen grab shows, I created one based on Neil Young and another on Wynton Marsalis.
bigger, blacker gop
Far away from the speeches of Jesse Jackson, the demands of Al Sharpton and the ranting of Louis Farrakhan, a quiet revolution is taking place in the role African-Americans play in politics. In the very heartland of the nation — in Pennsylvania and Ohio — the Republican Party is getting set to nominate black candidates for governor in the coming elections. In a nation that has not a single African-American governor — not one — from either party, this is its own little revolution.
These are not throwaway candidates in states where the GOP has no chance of victory. These are real candidates, chosen when there were plenty of white alternatives, that are en route to their party's nomination, with real chances to win.
In Pennsylvania, former football great Lynn Swann stands poised to be designated as the Republican candidate at next week's State Convention. The former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, now enshrined in the Hall of Fame, is seeking fame of another sort, trying to be the state's first black governor.
In Ohio, a key swing state, Ken Blackwell, the Republican secretary of state, is running for the gubernatorial nomination in a state Republicans can win. In Maryland, Lieut. Gov. Michael Steele is seeking the open Senate seat.
warm up the crow and pass the salt
Last year's assault on the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. looks even more frivolous now than it did at the time. Earlier this week, Senator George Voinovich, the poster boy for non-leftists who considered Bolton the poster boy for everything a diplomat shoudn't be, praised Bolton's work at the U.N. Now, Bolton has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his major role in exposing Iran's secret plans to develop nuclear weapons.
Elements of the MSM acted as cheerleaders for the anti-Bolton mugging. Don't expect the MSM to have much to say about Senator Voinovich's latest comments or the Nobel nomination.
Sen. Voinovich, you may remember, wept in committee at the thought of Bolton at the UN.
wednesday february 8, 2006
Thinking deviously, one might wonder if the calculated cartoon outrage has tactical value. To many Americans, it seems as if mainstream Muslims, and not just jihadists, are behind the latest riots. But:
...how representative of Islam are all those demonstrators? The "rage machine" was set in motion when the Muslim Brotherhood--a political, not a religious, organization--called on sympathizers in the Middle East and Europe to take the field. A fatwa was issued by Yussuf al-Qaradawi, a Brotherhood sheikh with his own program on al-Jazeera. Not to be left behind, the Brotherhood's rivals, Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party) and the Movement of the Exiles (Ghuraba), joined the fray. Believing that there might be something in it for themselves, the Syrian Baathist leaders abandoned their party's 60-year-old secular pretensions and organized attacks on the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and Beirut. . .
The truth is that Islam has always had a sense of humor and has never called for chopping heads as the answer to satirists. Muhammad himself pardoned a famous Meccan poet who had lampooned him for more than a decade. Both Arabic and Persian literature, the two great literatures of Islam, are full of examples of "laughing at religion," at times to the point of irreverence. Again, offering an exhaustive list is not possible. But those familiar with Islam's literature know of Ubaid Zakani's "Mush va Gorbeh" (Mouse and Cat), a match for Rabelais when it comes to mocking religion. Sa'adi's eloquent soliloquy on behalf of Satan mocks the "dry pious ones." And Attar portrays a hypocritical sheikh who, having fallen into the Tigris, is choked by his enormous beard. Islamic satire reaches its heights in Rumi, where a shepherd conspires with God to pull a stunt on Moses; all three end up having a good laugh.
So who gains by convincing the "American street" that Muslims as a whole are hopeless primitives that we should write off? Consider this from Dick Morris:
In 1996, I did a series of polls for President Bill Clinton to quantify the isolationist element in the American electorate. The surveys indicated that 15 percent of the voters were global in outlook while 35 percent were isolationist. (The balance — 50 percent — was either open to internationalism or closed to it based on the particulars of each situation.)
And the isolationist 35 percent divided evenly among the political parties, constituting a third of each party's base voters.
On the left, they tended to say that we needed to pay attention to America's poor and our own problems rather than squander our resources abroad.
For example, the minister (Religious Left) at the Coretta King funeral/Democrat campaign event who bitched about money being spent in Iraq instead of being given to black folk.
On the right, they complained that the rest of the world was at least ungrateful and perhaps unworthy of our attention and money. But left or right, it was an undiluted block of opposition to any foreign involvement.
The cartoon riots feed the hell-with-them instincts of right-leaning isolationists. If they join the Left in actively opposing the Iraq war -- not because it's unwinnable, but because the bastards don't deserve our help -- then we could end up losing by quitting.
russia going dry?
"Could Russia completely run out of vodka in 40 days?" was the apocalyptic front-page headline of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper yesterday, which published advice from a panel of politicians and celebrities on how to live without vodka and a cartoon of a man wringing a bottle of vodka as if it were wet laundry so as to extract every last drop.
HT: Betsy's Paqe
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants to deny law enforcement a vital tool it needs to thwart another 9-11 — the ability to eavesdrop on al-Qaida suspects inside the U.S. without court delays.
By secretly authorizing such surveillance, he claims the White House has broken the law and must stop.
"This is a federal crime!" bellows the Vermont liberal, who may know a thing or two about federal crimes. He earned the nickname "Leaky Leahy" for his habit of disclosing sensitive national-security information to the press.
The anti-terror surveillance tool is similar to one he blocked before 9-11 that might have prevented the attacks. In 2000, the National Commission on Terrorism urged Congress to pass reforms to help law enforcement fight terrorists in the wake of the al-Qaida bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa.
Try the automatic flatterer.
the anchoress rips the R.I.P
I remember Jimmeh Cartah, and his lovely wife Roslyn, saying of his successor, Ronald Reagan, “anything would be better than what we have in the White House, now!” I remember him having no good words for Bush 41 or Clinton, and certainly not for Bush 43.
Jimmeh Cartah never has a good word for anyone but himself, or a third world dictator, and he has never managed to behave in a classy manner - not when he can do the easier, trashier thing and get his accolades from the usual suspects, and lots of coverage.
He’s a miserable human being, a man threatened by killer bunnies - the very FIRST of the media whores to completely buy into the hype surrounding him (”a brilliant naval engineer…”) and lose, utterly lose, his mind and his moral compass when the headlines and magazine covers went away. In this, he joins Al Gore, John Kerry, Cindy Sheehan and (sadly) John McCain. I’ve come to the conclusion that people who buy their own hype, who believe the press when the press over-does the gushing in order to push their own ideas, are weak-minded, or perhaps simply not very smart.
He can build all the houses he wants - any former president who will accept a “peace prize” given to him explicitly to (as the Nobel board admitted) “kick the current president in the legs” is unworthy of his office, or the esteem a former president is normally due. The man is inappropriate at all times. Sigmund Carl and Alfred have what he really needs.
My best friend, who was watching the funeral, called me up and said, “exactly when did the Democrats utterly revise history and co-opt the civil rights movement? Why does the world forget that it was Democrat Bull Connor putting the hoses and the dogs on the marchers, and the Republicans standing up for civil rights? Why doesn’t anyone mention that Bobby Kennedy was wiretapping King?”
cowboys and indians
Yolo County wants Conaway Ranch, a 17,300-acre spread north of Davis, CA, and is using eminent domain to force a sale. For what? Oh, just to keep it as it is. How are they paying for the land? With Indian casino money.
Read Debra Saunders on the latest private property outrage.
The Muslima spontaneous outrage wasn't so spontaneous. As they said in the '60s, it was the work of "outside agitators." This Wall Street Journal piece tells all.
...a group of Danish Islamic clerics angered by the cartoons succeeded in enlisting help from Egypt's secular government, which has been struggling to contain a potent Islamist opposition. Secular forces in the Arab world, eager to burnish their image as defenders of Islam, provided an important initial impetus for the protests, but now are scrambling to control the fury.
What would the most advanced, most forward-looking, most self-assured country in history do without its periodic crises of confidence? In 1957 the Soviets put a tin can into space, and the U.S. thought the sky was falling. In the 1980s we began crying into our soup because Sony was selling so many nifty Trinitrons. "American decline" was all the fashion until the vaunted Japanese model of tight organization and industrial planning took a nosedive and a bunch of twentysomething Americans tinkering in their garages created untold wealth and took over the world.
This recalls the panic America had in the late 1950s about our "youth going soft." It was somehow related to Sputnik and how the Russians were overtaking us.
That's when the President's Council on Physical Fitness was created. JFK was famous for his 50 miles hikes and exercising "with vigor."
To this day, school kids get certificates signed by the President. And like most such things, they mean little to those awarding them and to those receiving them.
Now, 20 years later, our newest fix of pessimism. Why? Our economic growth rate is second in the West only to tiny Finland's. It's probably just a symptom of $3 gasoline. Nonetheless, it's back. This time it's not Russia or Japan but other inscrutable foreigners, Indian and Chinese. What was once rather unkindly said about Brazil--"the country of the future and always will be"--I say of them. I'm not worried.
You can pick your statistics. Mine are that the U.S. leads the world by an immense margin in just about every measure of intellectual and technological achievement: Ph.D.s, patents, peer-reviewed articles, Nobel Prizes. But in the end, it's the culture, stupid. The economy follows culture, and American culture is today, as ever, uniquely suited for growth, innovation and advancement.
The most obvious bedrock of success is entrepreneurial spirit. The U.S. has the most risk-taking, most laissez-faire, least regulated economy in the advanced Western world. America is heartily disdained by its coddled and controlled European cousins for its cowboy capitalism. But it is precisely America's tolerance for creative destruction--industries failing, others rising, workers changing jobs and cities and skills with an alacrity and insouciance that Europeans find astonishing--that keeps its economy churning and advancing.
lynn swann for pennsylvania governor
On the day when some Democrats politicized the funeral of Coretta Scott King, and Jimmy Carter picked the racial scab by bringing up Katrina, Lynn Swann wrapped up the Republican party's endorsement for governor of Pennsylvania.
Swann is black. He was also one heck of a wide receiver for the Steelers back in the dynasty years. Hey Lynn, go long!
tuesday february 7, 2006
palestinian rock and hard place
...This was not a defeat of President Bush's "diplomacy of freedom" that has just played out in Gaza and the West Bank. The claim that the bet on Arab democracy placed by the president has now been lost is shallow and partisan. These were Palestinians who voted a mix of incoherence and legitimate wrath at a ruling political class that had given them nothing but false bravado and fed them on a diet of maximalism.
For decades, the outside world had asked precious little of the Palestinians. Arafat, the Maximum Leader of their movement, had never owned up to any historical responsibility, and there were always powers beyond waiting to bail him out, to wink at his deeds of terror, to subsidize the economy of extortion and plunder that he and his lieutenants, and his security services, had brought with them to the Palestinian territories in the aftermath of the peace of Oslo.
It was with this ruinous indulgence of the Palestinians that George W. Bush was to break in the summer of 2002, when he gave the Palestinians a promise of American support contingent on their renunciation of terror. Where American diplomacy during the Clinton years had averted its gaze from Arafat's cynical use of deeds of terror, Mr. Bush had put that Palestinian leader beyond the pale.
islamic heretic speaks up
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch politician forced to go into hiding after the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh:
Not a day passes, in Europe and elsewhere, when radical imams aren't preaching hatred in their mosques. They call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they're just exercising their freedom of speech. When will the Europeans realize that the Islamists don't allow their critics the same right? After the West prostrates itself, they'll be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless.
a polipundit reader writes
Wow, all we heard ante-bellum the War with Iraq, and Afghanistan, was how the “arab street” would rise up en masse in an orgy of destruction and anger over US aggression in the Arab world. No uprising was forthcoming. However, seems a few cartoons did the trick that a 200,000 man army couldn’t do- get the Arab street angry and motivated.
That said, doesn’t it make you feel just a tiny bit smug to see the usually pandering EUers gettting hate all over the world instead of the ‘evil’ US for a change? Fat lot of good it did them to support Saddam and trash the US – France and Norway are getting it just as bad as Denmark, an ally in the Iraq war.
I think all this is a tragedy and regrettable, but don’t you think its pretty cool to have crazy Muslims burning flags and embassies while Gonzales is explaining how the Bush Admin is doing everything and anything to stand between the US public and those crazies. The Dems have a real knack for backing the wrong (or weak) horse.
because it's good for you
Broccoli fights cancer.
face transplant goes horribly wrong
Some things just can't be fixed.
jack bauer vs. john mccain
It was startling to see Sen. John McCain in a walk-on role in last night's "24." If you missed it, McCain delivered a file folder to a conference room and left.
Beyond the surprise of seeing a pol on "24" was the mismatch between McCain's concern for interrogation suspects and Jack Bauer's "torture first, get permission later" modus operandi. One of the pleasures of the show is watching the James Bond for our time act outside the law in service to a greater good (stopping a nuke attack on an American city etc.)
But logic is not the show's hallmark. The writers summon technology as they need it to propel the plot. Last night, they were able to "hack" into an apartment building's computer system and identify where everyone was inside, among other things.
Nifty trick. Last season they could not track an SUV at night in the middle of the Mojave desert with a helicopter. And this particular SUV had villains who'd just stolen the President's briefcase with the nuclear launch codes.
Miraculous how the form of Christ matches the map of North Korea.
mccain vs. obama
Sen. Barack Obama, whose Democratic convention speech raised enough goose bumps to qualify him as a statesman among his peers, is turning out to be just another partisan hack. Witness his defense of Hillary's race baiting "plantation" gambit.
Now Sen. John McCain feels stung by Barack's back stabbing. In a letter McCain writes:
I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere. When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership’s preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable.
Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter to me dated February 2, 2006, which explained your decision to withdraw from our bipartisan discussions. I’m embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won’t make the same mistake again.
McCain shouldn't be too hard on Obama. He's just toeing the line his white masters in the Democratic leadership have drawn. He dare not get uppity and actually match words with deeds.*
* Commentary inspired by Harry Belafonte.
monday february 6, 2006
is old europe doomed?
Since coming to power, the current British government has increased public expenditure enormously, such that the British tax burden now exceeds that of Germany, which itself is a very heavily taxed economy. The ostensible purpose of this expenditure has been to improve public services while serving the cause of social justice, a rhetoric that the public has hitherto believed; the hidden purpose, or at least effect, has been to create administrative jobs on an unprecedented scale, whose principle function consists of obstruction of other people as they try to create wealth, and to bring into being a political clientele dependent upon government ‘largesse’ (half the British population is now in receipt of government subventions as part or the whole of their incomes). Not only will this lead to economic disaster, but it naturally results in the psychology succinctly described by Hilaire Belloc in the moral of his cautionary tale about Albert who was eaten by a lion at the zoo when he strayed from the nurse who took him there:
And always keep a-hold of nurse
For fear of finding something worse.
The dependent population does not like the state and its agents, indeed they hate them, but they soon come to fear the elimination of their good offices even more. They are like drug addicts who know that the drug that they take is not good for them, and hate the drug dealer from whom they obtain their drug, but cannot face the supposed pains of withdrawal. And what is true of Britain is true, with a few exceptions, everywhere else in Europe.
no more general, no more principles
Col. Janis Karpinski, former commander of the unit responsible for torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib, was once General Karpinski.
The highest ranking individual to be punished for the crimes at Abu Ghraib. Relieved of command and reduced in rank, her own defense in the subsequent months has been that while everyone above her in rank knew what everyone below her in rank was doing, she had been kept in the dark.
Naturally, she's become a darling of the Left as she smears the military. Her latest claim is that female soldiers in Iraq are dying of dehydration for fear of being raped by male soldiers. Mudville Gazette points out the absurdity of her claims.
moderate muslims apologize
muslim complaint box
Satire. HT Instapundit.
who said this?
"The President has enhanced responsibility to resist unconstitutional provisions that encroach upon the constitutional powers of the Presidency."
That sure sounds like it could have been written by John Ashcroft. Or Alberto Gonzales. Or one of the many Bush-administration officials vigorously defending the NSA's warrantless monitoring of enemy communications into and out of the homeland. After all, it succinctly states the best explanation for why President Bush was empowered to go beyond the strictures of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and create a terrorist-surveillance program, designed to prevent a reprise of 9/11 ... or worse.
But the assertion does not come from the Bush administration at all. Nor from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, National Review, or any of the other precincts limned by today's American Left as megaphones for the president's dreaded "domestic spying program."
No, for this clear statement of principle, we have the Clinton administration to thank. Specifically, then-Attorney General Janet Reno's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) — the Justice Department's elite unit of lawyers for the lawyers. It was chiseled into a formal 1994 OLC opinion, aptly entitled "The President's Authority to Decline to Execute Unconstitutional Statutes," by then-Assistant Attorney General Walter Dellinger, OLC's top gun.
boy named sue
You porbably heard last week about John Kiel Patterson, who filed suit against Apple in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., claiming iPods are "inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss."
This is the kind of lawsuit that spawns lawyer jokes, and may in fact be one. The San Jose Star Telegram asked in an editorial:
Two questions for the plaintiff in this case: Does your iPod have a volume control? And do you have at least one opposable thumb?
Rhetorical questions both. Scorn for Patterson was immediate and widely registered. When his case is tossed out of court, the judge should force Patterson to prolong that scorn by compelling him to wear a t-shirt that reads:
I am a litigious twit. Because of people like me, almost everything you buy today has legal language warning you not to hurt yourself by misusing the product. For example, "steak knives should not be used to clean ear wax." Such language not only insults you, but costs you money. After all, you pay the lawyer who wrote that nonsense when you buy the product. I am petty. I am an opportunist. And I am not worthy to live in your society.
Watching the Rolling Stones at the Superbowl elicited various reactions:
- Me: Mick is mighty trim and spry for 60 years old. The music seems older.
- Me: The sticking out the tongue bit is juvenile for geezers.
- Emily (aged 13): "They're soooo ugly. I don't like him wearing tight black pants and wiggling like that. He's too old. It's creepy."
- Emily: "That guy (Keith Richards) looks like Johnny Depp in the pirate movie."
- Me: "Uh, Johnny Depp was imitating him in the pirate movie."
- Emily: "Oh."
sunday february 5, 2006
making bush's point
From a demonstration yesterday in London.
aclu and ny times aid confessed terrorist
A terrorist plotting to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge after 9/11 was found out because of wiretaps. Iyman Faris confessed and is doing time. But then the New York Times leaked the NSA wiretap program and now the ACLU is trying get the terrorist a better deal.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A lawyer for an Ohio trucker who pleaded guilty to plotting to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge asked a federal judge Friday to throw out the case on the grounds that the government illegally spied on him.
Iyman Faris' challenge is among the first to seek evidence of warrantless electronic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, a practice that began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Government officials have reportedly credited the practice with uncovering Faris' terrorist plot and several others.
A motion filed by Faris' attorney David Smith in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., argues that investigators improperly obtained evidence against Faris and that his trial lawyer was ineffective.
Given the likelihood that Faris' phone conversations or e-mails had been electronically monitored, Faris' trial lawyer, Frederick Sinclair, should have asked for evidence of such surveillance, Smith said in the motion.
"Had he done so, the government would have been in a real bind and this would have enabled Faris to, at a minimum, negotiate a much more favorable plea bargain," the motion said.
New Yorkers who commute via the bridge might want to seize
Punk Punch Sulzberger from his Ivory Tower and throw him off the bridge.
sensitivity can have brutal consequences
I long ago lost count of the number of times I've switched on the TV and seen crazy guys jumping up and down in the street, torching the Stars and Stripes and yelling ''Death to the Great Satan!'' Or torching the Union Jack and yelling ''Death to the Original If Now Somewhat Arthritic And Semi-Retired Satan!'' But I never thought I'd switch on the TV and see the excitable young lads jumping up and down in Jakarta, Lahore, Aden, Hebron, etc., etc., torching the flag of Denmark.
Denmark! Even if you were overcome with a sudden urge to burn the Danish flag, where do you get one in a hurry in Gaza? Well, OK, that's easy: the nearest European Union Humanitarian Aid and Intifada-Funding Branch Office. But where do you get one in an obscure town on the Punjabi plain on a Thursday afternoon? If I had a sudden yen to burn the Yemeni or Sudanese flag on my village green, I haven't a clue how I'd get hold of one in this part of New Hampshire. Say what you like about the Islamic world, but they show tremendous initiative and energy and inventiveness, at least when it comes to threatening death to the infidels every 48 hours for one perceived offense or another. If only it could be channeled into, say, a small software company, what an economy they'd have.
I may be out of date, but I don't remember seeing many Danish flags on sale there. Not much demand, I suppose. I raise the question because, as soon as the row about the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Jyllands-Posten broke, angry Muslims popped up in Gaza City, and many other places, well supplied with Danish flags ready to burn. (In doing so, by the way, they offered a mortal insult to the most sacred symbol of my own religion, Christianity, since the Danish flag has a cross on it, but let that pass.)
Why were those Danish flags to hand? Who built up the stockpile so that they could be quickly dragged out right across the Muslim world and burnt where television cameras would come and look? The more you study this story of "spontaneous" Muslim rage, the odder it seems.
It rather looks as if the anger with which all Muslims are said to be burning needed some pretty determined stoking. Peter Mandelson, who seems to think that his job as European Trade Commissioner entitles him to pronounce on matters of faith and morals, accuses the papers that republished the cartoons of "adding fuel to the flames"; but those flames were lit (literally, as well as figuratively) by well-organised, radical Muslims who wanted other Muslims to get furious. How this network has operated would make a cracking piece of investigative journalism.
guilt vs. shame cultures
These posts from August try to explain Arab/Islamic culture. Dr. Sanity here:
In a guilt culture, when an individual believes he is NOT GUILTY, he will defend his innocence aggressively despite the fact that others believe he is guilty. In this case, the individual self is strong and able to maintain an independent judgement even if every other person is convinced of his guilt. The self is able to stand alone and fight for truth, secure in the knowledge that the individual is innocent.
The guilt culture is typically and primarily concerned with truth, justice, and the preservation of individual rights. As we noted earlier, the emotion of guilt is what keeps a person from behavior that goes against his/her own code of conduct as well as the culture’s. Excessive guilt can, of course, also be pathological. I am solely referring to a psychologically healthy appreciation of guilt.
In contrast, a typical shame culture (e.g., Japan as discussed by Benedict; or the present focus of this discussion: Arab/Islamic culture) what other people believe has a far more powerful impact on behavior than even what the individual believes. As noted by Gutman in his writings, the desire to preserve honor and avoid shame to the exclusion of all else is one of the primary foundations of the culture. This desire has the side-effect of giving the individual carte blanche to engage in wrong-doing as long as no-one knows about it, or knows he is involved.
David Gutmann here.
The Arab world is suffering a crisis of humiliation. Their armies are routed not only by Americans, but also by tiny, Jewish Israel; and as Arthur Koestler once remarked, the Arab world has not, in the last 500 years or so, produced much besides rugs, dirty postcards, elaborations on the belly-dance esthetic (and, of course, some innovative terrorist practices). They have no science to speak of, no art, hardly any industry save oil, very little literature, and portentous music which consists largely of lugubrious songs celebrating the slaughter of Jews.
Now that the Arabs have acquired national consciousness, and they compare their societies to other nations, these deficiencies become painfully evident, particularly to the upper-class Arab kids who attend foreign universities. There they learn about the accomplishments of Christians, Jews, (Freud, Einstein, for starters) and women. And yet, with the exception of Edward Said, there is scarcely a contemporary Arab name in the bunch. No wonder, then, that major recruitment to al-Qaeda's ranks takes place among Arab university students. And no wonder that suicide bombing becomes their tactic of choice: it is a last-ditch, desperate way of asserting at least one scrap of superiority—a spiritual superiority—over the materialistic, life-hugging, and ergo shameful West.
But this tactic is not, I suggest, a product of Islam. Rather, it is a product of the bruised Arab psyche. Remember that the Japanese also turned to suicide tactics in WWII to evade the humiliation of defeat. Though their religion was Shinto rather than Muslim, they too constituted a paradigm shame/honor culture, and defeat brought about, as with the Arabs, a furiously suicidal/homicidal response.
saturday february 4, 2006
images of mohammed going back centuries
The bunk that Islam prohibits images of the Prophet are just that, bunk. Here are dozens going back centuries.
what state really said
Media shorthand reports that the State Department condemned the Mohammed cartoons. The actual statement is apparently too nuanced for them:
Our response is to say that while we certainly don’t agree with, support, or in some cases, we condemn the views that are aired in public that are published in media organizations around the world, we, at the same time, defend the right of those individuals to express their views. For us, freedom of expression is at the core of our democracy and it is something that we have shed blood and treasure around the world to defend and we will continue to do so.
That said, there are other aspects to democracy, our democracy—democracies around the world—and that is to promote understanding, to promote respect for minority rights, to try to appreciate the differences that may exist among us.
We believe, for example in our country, that people from different religious backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, national backgrounds add to our strength as a country. And it is important to recognize and appreciate those differences. And it is also important to protect the rights of individuals and the media to express a point of view concerning various subjects. So while we share the offense that Muslims have taken at these images, we at the same time vigorously defend the right of individuals to express points of view. We may—like I said, we may not agree with those points of view, we may condemn those points of view but we respect and emphasize the importance that those individuals have the right to express those points of view.
For example—and on the particular cartoon that was published—I know the Prime Minister of Denmark has talked about his, I know that the newspaper that originally printed it has apologized, so they have addressed this particular issue. So we would urge all parties to exercise the maximum degree of understanding, the maximum degree of tolerance when they talk about this issue. And we would urge dialog, not violence. And that also those that might take offense at these images that have been published, when they see similar views or images that could be perceived as anti-Semitic or anti-Catholic, that they speak out with equal vigor against those images.
first they came for...
Michelle Malkin couldn't sleep, so she made this video.
...and set the Danish embassy on fire in Syria.
International "offend-a-muslim day"
...is being celebrated at Beautiful Atrocities. Funny, dark and nasty.
...whose scales read "Allah." The Islamic equivalent of the Virgin Mary on a tortilla.
...and pets in uniform
Send in a photo of your mutt or kitty and they'll Photoshop it into a uniform.
"depressed di" doll goes on sale
A talking "Princess Diana" doll that says "I sit here in sadness" and "I'd like to be a queen of people's hearts" has gone on sale in America. It speaks 25 "historic" phrases, according to the manufacturer, Time Capsule Toys.
The doll talks when a button is pressed on its back, saying: "There's far too much about me in the newspapers, far too much," and "I want to do good things." It will also say: "I don't sit here with resentment. I sit here with sadness."
The doll should sing the "Buckle up for safety buckle up" jingle.
madmen have leverage
...what allowed Hitler to bluff both France and England so successfully during the period known as appeasement was not the might of the German Army, but the astonishing idea that Hitler might really want war -- and at a time everyone else in Europe, including Mussolini, shuddered at the very thought of another debacle like the Great War, whose memory was still all too vivid.
In a world where everyone else is prepared to do anything to prevent a war, the man who makes other people believe he is willing to go to war automatically gains the advantage of being the party that must be appeased if war is to be avoided. In such a world, it is the erratic and the irrational whose power is amplified at the expense of the reasonable and the predictable.
Even in a world where every nation possessed the same nuclear arsenal, those nations with the most bellicose and unpredictable leaders would still have the power to blackmail other nations simply because they could convince the rest of the world that they were actually willing to do the unthinkable, and to risk nuclear war. The Swiss could not pull off such an act of blackmail, because no one would believe them capable of carrying out their threat; but the Iranians, under Ahmadinejad, could.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a populist demagogue of quite exceptional talent who has instinctively grasped the law of power that so many in the West have forgotten: Just as it is the squeaking wheel that gets the oil, it is the shrieking madman who gets his way.
friday february 3, 2006
police tagging crooks
The Los Angeles Police Department will become the first law enforcement agency in the country to outfit cruisers with a device that can propel a Global Positioning System unit onto a fleeing car, allowing officers to track the vehicle without a dangerous pursuit, officials announced Thursday.
As part of a pilot program, the department will install the devices in the grill of some squad cars in the fall, Chief William Bratton said.
"In the car-chase capital of the world, this device is a very appropriate device," Bratton said. "It reduces the need for officers to have an active pursuit."
The concept is simple. Instead of engaging in a high-speed chase, dangerous for both the police and the public, an officer can fire a GPS tracking device onto a car.
Then other officers can track the car from headquarters. Once the car stops, officers can close in on the location and track down the suspect.
How long will it take the ACLU to decide that tagging a suspect's car with GPS violates their right to privacy? Shouldn't they have to get a warrant first?
ugly cartoons from muslims
See them here. Not to mention keeping the Protocols of the Elders of Zion on their bestseller list.
is islam arabic for thin skin?
Sheesh, some people can't take a joke and thus become one. Some Muslims move to another country, get jobs, get on the dole, whatever. Pretty soon they think they own the place.
Then they demand tolerance for their intolerance: no more piggy banks in British banks because Allah don't cotton to swine. No piglets on gummint desks either. When someone draws a satirical cartoon, bam! Riots and such, just they way God would want it.
American libs are probably saying, yeah what about Piss Christ? Well, what of it? Nobody torched anything. Nobody threatened violence. People did want to know why their taxes were spent on art intended to insult them.
I don't know enough about Islam to make generalizations. But those who speak loudest in the name of the faith have a lot of growing up to do. Verdict: not ready for prime time.
UPDATE: Now they're rioting in Indonesia.
UPDATE 2: Mohammed has been depicted in images for a long time without all the fuss.
thursday February 2, 2006
"can't you Americans keep a secret?"
CIA Director Porter Goss said Thursday that the disclosure of President Bush's eavesdropping-without-warrants program and other once-secret projects had undermined U.S. intelligence-gathering abilities.
"The damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission," Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said a federal grand jury should be empaneled to determine "who is leaking this information."
His testimony came after National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, who directs all intelligence activities, strongly defended the program, calling it crucial for protecting the nation against its most menacing threat.
an energy revolution
A meaty case for converting to alternative auto fuels.
Ritualistic calls by utopians, moralists, and environmental absolutists for energy conservation are utterly inadequate and doomed to failure. To see this, simply run the numbers. Every year, about 17 million cars are sold in the U.S.—roughly 10 percent of the worldwide total. Even if Americans were to buy only hybrid cars offering a 30 percent fuel saving over existing models, and none of them drove more, and there was no expansion in the U.S. vehicle fleet, this effort would result in only a 3 percent annual reduction in global gasoline use.
Conservation, however, offers no prospect of being even this effective. Most industry analysts predict a hybrid market share of less than 1 percent. At the same time, the total number of cars is increasing. Under any realistic conservation scenario, total gasoline consumption will continue to rise and the looting of our economy by oil producers will continue. Conservation through gasoline efficiency is, quite simply, a losing strategy. It is like trying to survive in a gas chamber by holding your breath. We need to break out of the gas chamber.
new york times violates privacy
Credit and bank card numbers of as many as 240,000 subscribers of The Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette were inadvertently distributed with bundles of T&G newspapers on Sunday, officials of the newspapers said yesterday.
The confidential information was on the back of paper used in wrapping newspaper bundles for distribution to carriers and retailers. As many as 9,000 bundles of the T&G, wrapped in paper containing subscribers' names and their confidential information, were distributed Sunday to 2,000 retailers and 390 carriers in the Worcester area, said Alfred S. Larkin Jr., spokesman for the Globe.
In addition, routing information for personal checks of 1,100 T&G subscribers also may have been inadvertently released.
The Globe and T&G, which are both owned by The New York Times Co., share a computer system.
why religious parties win votes in iraq
Blogger Mohammed muses over the meaning of Iraqi politics:
In Iraq were not allowed group or meet for any reason outside the approval of the party and it was officially considered a crime for a number of people to gather and talk politics, the charge that I remember too well was that “they are grouping” and that was enough for conviction. That’s why each and every meeting required the approval of the government before it could be held.
However there was one place that the government couldn’t stop people from meeting at, that was the mosque. Although mosques were told to close their doors outside prayer hours, Friday prayers represented a chance for people to meet in hundreds or even thousands to listen to a preacher who scorned this life and promised them a place in heaven if they did as God said. At that time of dictatorship not many could enjoy a decent life, so many of us had to dream of a better life in heaven.
Liberals and seculars couldn’t preach to a crowd but clerics-through prayer times-could.
A party that could manage to gather 500 of its supporters in a rally was considered lucky and organized while clerics had countless opportunities to order their followers to take to the streets and demonstrate for whatever cause.
We are not the minority but we are the least organized when compared to the religous parties. When people voted for the religious choice that was because religion was in front of them all the time while parties like ours were more like a new face in the neighborhood, interesting but not convincing.
Some said that it was too early to push the region to do elections because elections would bring fundamentalists…but if we don’t start now, then when?! The wheel of change has to take its course and delaying it in my opinion won’t do us any good.
What happened was a natural outcome of our war with ourselves; we have to learn from this and develop the way we think and interact with the variables and we will certainly figure out what our mistakes were. This takes time but democracy is still the one and only solution and we need to go through all its stages, even if we make wrong choices, what matters is that these would be our choices, not someone else’s.
Read it all. You won't find this insight anywhere else.
wednesday February 1, 2006
le google, sacre bleu!
Even if it's not clear when exactly French President Jacques Chirac blew his stack, he certainly decided at some point that enough is enough. But it wasn't the prospect of cutting European Union farm aid that got him riled up, nor was he railing against rogue states and threatening them with France's ageing nuclear arsenal. No, the target of Chirac's ire this time was much more nefarious: American dominance of the Internet.
Chirac's concern about the growing power of US Web firms such as search engine giant Google has spurned him to redouble French efforts to create a state-backed European cyberspace champion named Quaero. His heart seems set on getting German support for the project -- but his heart may soon be broken.
"We must take up the challenge presented by American giants like Google and Yahoo," he said in his presidential New Year's address to La Grande Nation. "There is the threat that tomorrow, what is not available online will be invisible to the world."
everything you know is wrong
sniffing is good for you
...when it's a dog sniffing, he might be giving you a cancer screening.
Dogs do as well as state-of-the-art screening tests at sniffing out people with lung or breast cancer. The research raises the possibility that trained dogs could detect cancers even earlier and might some day supplement or even replace mammograms and CT scans in the laboratory.
Two previous studies have shown that dogs seem to be able to sniff out melanomas and bladder cancer. The idea is not outrageous. Cancer patients have been shown to have traces of chemicals – like alkanes and benzene derivatives – in their breath, and other studies have shown dogs can detect chemicals in concentrations as small as a few parts per trillion.
So researchers at the Pine Street Foundation in San Anselmo, California, US, selected three Labrador retrievers and two Portuguese water dogs with no previous training, and over several weeks trained them using breath samples that had been exhaled into tubes by cancer patients.
Today's high energy prices reflect strong demand from almost every major oil-consuming nation, including India and China. They also reflect political uncertainty in some major oil-producing countries, notably Iraq, Iran and Nigeria. But the worst way to respond to such uncertainty is by robbing the profits that the companies need to diversify global oil supplies.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what the politicians are up to. A backdoor windfall profits levy, which would raise taxes on oil companies by changing the way inventory is valued, has already passed the Senate.
This is especially insidious because it is an after-the-fact raid on profits already earned by the company under current law. If Congress can suddenly pass a law confiscating the past profits of companies on a whim, we aren't all that far from Russian President Putin and Yukos.
250,000 superballs in san francisco
A visually striking Sony commercial. I thought the balls had been added digitally, but it's all real. After you watch the ad, click "behind the scenes" and see how they did it.
Gerard Van der Leun looks back:
THE FIRST TIME I WAS MARRIED I was married to over 200 naked people. We weren't quite buck naked. The men had crudely made laurel wreathes on their heads, sometimes just a wad of weeds, while the women had wreathes of flowers around their brows and, for those old enough to have any, small bouquets of blossoms lodged in their pubic hair. All the men had large clubs and all the women large breasts. It was the butt end of the 60s and people in my set tended to have that kind of equipment. What children there were tended to be either infants or toddlers, all still nursing at will.
The men and the women had separated an hour or so before the wedding and, at dusk, the two groups came together from opposite directions.
First the men came, chanting and grunting and pounding and waving their clubs. At our center was the groom, long black hair streaming down over his back, nude and tanned, under a kind of pagan huppah of a custom tie-dye made for the occassion and four sticks sporting Gods Eyes, also hand crafted for the ritual.
A wonderful time capsule on wry.
anbar tribes arrest 270 al-Qaeda thugs
The Anbar tribes’ campaign to rid the province of Zarqawi’s terror organization, al-Qaeda in Iraq is in its 2nd day and so far, 270 Arab and foreign intruders have been arrested.
Usama Jad’aan, the leader of Karabila tribes in Qaim told al-Hayat that “the operation will continue to eliminate terror elements according to a quality plan” and added “270 Arab and foreign intruders have been arrested, in addition to some Iraqis who were providing them shelter”.
Sheikh Jad’aan added “the operation is conducted in coordination between the tribes and the minister of defense Sa’doun al-Dulaimi and since we arrested hundreds of terrorists, I don’t expect the operation to take a lot of time”.
state of the union
The most passionate the Democrats got all night was celebrating their thwarting Social Security reform. Given that two bipartisan commissions concluded reform was essential to its viability, it seems like a curious thing to cheer. But the current Democrat party is a curious animal.
save my seat!
One of our favorite parts of the SOTU is the reliable presence of a handful of House Dems who spend 364 days of the year lacing into Pres Bush, but spend a good chunk of this day camped out in aisle seats on the House floor so as to shake hands with the Prez and get some nat'l tv face time.
A House spy reports as of 3 p.m. (a full 6 hours before gametime) the following members were lined up in these primo positions. From the back of the chamber forward, the order was: Rep's Kildee (MI), A. Green (TX), Jackson Lee (TX), Tubbs Jones (OH), Jackson (IL).
Our eagle-eyed observer adds that most had purses or briefcases to "mark their territory."
tuesday january 31, 2006
whisky ted's race card is a joker
Anything can hapen in the bizarro world where the likes of Sen. Ted Kennedy gets to lecture others on morality. But yesterday's booming performance [video here] provided an extra-rich diet of irony:
- Ted foams up over the "march of progress" that he admits was only possible by actions from the courts. That is, policies he adores could not pass democratically elected legislatures. You need liberal judges making law for that.
- He smears Samuel Alito as a closet racist/sexist/elitist eager to undo civil rights legislation and screw the "working people." What's more elitist than being a spoiled rich kid who gets a young woman killed and then uses family connections to escape punishment?
- He claims that the Senate has a "responsibility to take this [nomination] to the American people." No, actually the Senate is charged with advice and consent, not the electorate. He then goes on to insult said electorate by saying they've just now starting paying attention to the nomination.
- Ted's speech was calling for a filibuster. The filibuster was the tool Senate Democrats used to block civil rights legislation for decades, forcing liberal judges to legislate from the bench. Al Gore's daddy voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So did Bill Clinton's mentor, Sen. William Fulbright.
national guard enjoys recruiting boom
National Guard officials yesterday said recruiting has accelerated so much in recent months that they expect to expand the Guard even as the Bush administration proposes to shrink it.
For the first time since 1993, the Guard exceeded a quarterly recruiting goal, signing up 13,466 recruits in the final three months of 2005, up from 12,605 the previous fall, said the National Guard Bureau, the Pentagon office that administers the Guard.
Mark Allen, a National Guard Bureau spokesman, attributed the 7 percent improvement to a new advertising campaign, a large increase in financial incentives and a near doubling of the number of recruiters, from 2,700 to 5,100.
In a statement released yesterday, the Guard said it is "aggressively working" to reach the 350,000-troop level that it is funded for by the end of the current budget year on Sept. 30, despite Mr. Bush's call to cut the force next year to its current level of 333,000 troops.
It is unusual for a military organization such as the Guard Bureau to publicly suggest that it is moving in a direction that appears to differ from the administration's. Any talk of cutting the Guard is politically sensitive because Guard units are controlled by governors, except when they are mobilized by presidential order.
fly the plane, serve the drinks: what's the diff?
Canada serves as a canary in the PC coal mine: if you want to see where the American Left wants to steer our country, just look north. To liberals, everyone should be paid the same, hence:
The Canadian Union of Public Employees began the case in 1991, arguing that the airline discriminated because it paid attendants differently "for what it argued was equally valuable work performed by mechanical personnel and pilots."
Air Canada held that the three groups should be treated separately in legal terms because they worked in different establishments. The human rights commission agreed, but two court cases followed, which delivered split decisions.
Any waitress could learn to be a flight attendant. Heck, even I could be a flight attendant. But I'd make a lousy mechanic. And flying an airliner filled with human being takes more skill and training than opening cans of Pepsi from a drink cart.
Thus Canadians expose a commonly held Liberal fallacy: equal opportunity means equal outcomes.
child-like fantasy realm
In my remarks, I mentioned that the primary reason for the Arab-Israeli conflict was that the majority of Palestinians wanted Israel destroyed.
A woman who introduced herself as "a peace activist" walked over to me afterward and said I was wrong, that, in fact, the majority of Palestinians wanted peace with Israel. I asked her to go over to the Arab students who were attending a counter protest against Israel and ask them if they accepted the right of a Jewish state of Israel to exist. I bet her $5 they would say "no." She took the bet.
Fifteen minutes later, she came back to me.
"Well, who won the bet?" I asked.
"I don't know," she responded.
"What do you mean you 'don't know'? What did they say?"
"They all asked me, 'What do you mean?'"
Though not one Arab student answered "yes," she still didn't get it.
This peace activist, like other "peace activists" and just about everyone on the Left, lives in a state of wishful thinking. As director Steven Spielberg, commenting on the Arab-Israeli dispute, recently told Time magazine, "The only thing that's going to solve this is rational minds, a lot of sitting down and talking until you're blue in the gills."
On just about every issue, the Left lives in a childlike fantasy realm.
blogger helped paul martin out the door
On Monday, Canadian voters elected a new government, led by Stephen Harper and the Conservative party. Without the Internet, Paul Martin and the Liberals might still be ruling Canada.
Last year, Canadian Judge John Gomery was conducting an investigation of a money-laundering and kickback program in which the Liberal government had given $85 million to Montreal advertising firms. Rather than spending the money on advertising for government programs, the money was apparently distributed as payoffs to political allies. Gomery allowed the public to attend the public court hearings on the scandal, but forbade publication of events at the hearing. He hoped to be able to prevent the public from becoming prejudiced about the matter in the event that some of the alleged perpetrators were put on trial.
But a Canadian citizen who attended the hearing provided accounts to Minneapolis Web logger Ed Morrissey (who blogs at www.captainsquartersblog.com).Morrissey then published reports on his Captain's Quarters Web site. Canadian media continued to obey the publication ban, but Canada's CTV reported on the existence of Morrissey's site, which soon was attracting hundreds of thousands of readers daily.
Wapo pokes paul martin
Whatever their feelings about Mr. Bush, most Canadians probably agree with that sentiment. Canada sells 85 percent of its exports to the United States and depends on it for security as well as prosperity -- a fact that Mr. Martin opportunistically overlooked when he refused to join the U.S. missile defense program. His grandstanding merely gave Mr. Bush an excuse to ignore Canada's legitimate complaints about tariffs on softwood lumber and the impact of new border controls due to take effect this year.
Mr. Harper can be expected to stop the self-defeating flow of bile, to offer more cooperation on defense, and to seek to be heard on trade and border issues. If he is wise, Mr. Bush will make an effort to listen, and find compromises, as he did this month with Ms. Merkel. Foreign political leaders who stick to a platform of friendship and cooperation with the United States in the teeth of anti-American mudslinging ought to be visibly rewarded. As for Mr. Martin, perhaps he will be tempted again by the example of Mr. Schroeder, who has taken a job as an agent for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Does Hugo Chavez need another lobbyist?
You might excuse Bill Clinton for failing to grasp the terrorist threat pre-9/11 (I don't) but today? John Leo writes:
Bill Clinton thinks terrorism is an overrated threat. Last fall he said terrorism is less important than global warming. That was at the Clinton Global Initiative, his personal New York version of Davos, the annual big-think fiesta in Switzerland for world leaders and Hollywood stars.
Last week at the real Davos, Clinton demoted the terrorism threat from No.2 to No.3, behind economic inequality around the world as well as global warming. Most informed people think that climate change is very ominous and that poverty is of course a serious problem. But Clinton does not seem to think the possibility of New York or Washington disappearing in a nuclear blast is a very big deal.
Michael Crowley of the New Republic, reporting on the New York talkathon last September, wrote that "Clinton cast the war on terrorism as a blip on the radar of history."
Many Democrats seem to think this way. Fretting about racial profiling at airports and the turning over of library records of suspected terrorists is a much bigger deal than doing all we can do to avoid an apocalypse on American soil. I was distressed to see Peter Beinart, editor of the New Republic, more or less join the pack of those taking terrorism less seriously than politically aware adults should.
the people's cube
Has a few words for Der Googlemeisters:
Dear Messrs. Brin and Page:
May we take this opportunity to applaud your decision on accepting technical guidance from the Communist Party of China in your creative Google China project, and to extend our admiration for your recognition that search technologies are best left in the hands of responsible government entities (the U.S. imperialist government doesn't fall into that category, of course).
Be sure to check out their Google logo with the tank from Tieneman Square.
end of the month pith
Some reading for those with the time and interest.
First, there is The Rise of the West, a website dedicated to J. Needham's Grand Question: Why was modern science invented in Western Europe, and not in India, or China?
Then Chicagoboyz' Lexington Green offers a reading list for those eager to know more about military history.