Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, January 31, 2005

The Election in Fallujah

Here's a view of the Iraqi election you may not have seen earlier, from The Green Side with a hat tip to Hedgehog:
Nearby, the Marines were walking through a recently established open-air market on a street corner. People gathered around and informal conversations began between them and the Marines. This same intersection had been a muj strong point just weeks before. This morning, Marines and locals were on the same intersection shooting the breeze as elections were taking place down the block. As the day went on, more and more people came out to vote. The positive atmosphere seemed to build.
Be sure to read the entire post. Great stuff !

Moyers: Heil Anti-Christianism!

I'm so upset I don't know whether to "hat tip" or punch Hugh and Lileks for bringing it up and Instapundit for providing the link.

Bill Moyers column, "There is no tomorrow," is the most dangerous distortion of Christianity I can imagine. It screams for the word "anti-Christianism" to be born so it can stand beside anti-Semitism in the pantheon of ugly and unjustifiable human belief systems. People will read Moyers and believe him, widening the gap of ignorance that keeps the Left from understanding the Morality Vote, and feeding the flames of hatred that will before too long lead to a "Secular Liberation Front" that bombs Christian churches and buildings.

Moyers feeds his anti-Christianism the same way the Nazis fed anti-Semitism: with ignorance. He has attached himself to an ignorant interpretation of Biblical prophesy rather than actually read the prophets.
These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.
One can argue with the theology of the Left Behind series that Moyers is addressing here (as I do), but you can't argue with the fact that the storyline of the book was laid down by John on the island of Patmos before AD 100, not by a couple of 19th Century immigrant preachers who applied that theory, as thousands have done for 20 centuries, to the current world situation.

Radical Secularists like Moyers would rather be ignorant than right because they have such an aversion to Christianity that they simply cannot pick up the New Testament and treat it like a source book. They will run to an interpretration that fits his worldview, content in their ignorance, because they don't have to actually hold the dreaded source book in their hands that way. Because of this aversion to the Bible, Moyers doesn't even have to get the name of the book right:
And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002 Time-CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true.
Ignorance leads to multiple misinterpretations. In this case, ubergreenie Moyers flocks to the common conclusion that Christians believe that since the End Times are coming, there's no need to protect the environment:
And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, "to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth, when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?
I am no friend of Greenies and I am a believer in Biblical prophesy, but I don't see myself in that description, and I don't know any Christians who hold that view. Moyers couldn't be expected to understand this because he hasn't read the reference book; if he had, he'd see that Scripture makes two things abundantly clear: Our relationship to God's creation is that of steward, not exploiter, and Christ will come as a thief in the night and no one -- even Christ himself -- knows the time.

More dangerously, he implies that the "fringe," "delusional" thinking of "these people" drove the US to war in Iraq in order to speed the Second Coming. This is a line of thinking my Inside-the-Beltway Liberal mother would accept, driving her into greater anger at Bush and what he stands for: Conservative Christians.

What's so unfortunate is that if Moyers and his anti-Christianist brothers bothered to try to understand what their "enemy" believes, they would understand the enemy is not an enemy. But that would get in the way of the hatred they fuel with their ignorance.

Hatred is a strong word, but it's there, lying just beneath Moyers' ink:
One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress.
How unfortunate that a man like Moyers seeks to become the David Duke of his own band of brownshirts. And how unfortunate that newspapers around the country run his hate-speech without apology.

(Note: Both Hugh and Lileks said they would be blogging on this Tuesday, so be sure to read their posts. Here's the Lileks-Link)

Thick-Headed Leftist Pundits

E.J. Dionne in the WashPost:
Thus a modest proposal: Bush's critics should have no qualms about celebrating the outpouring in Iraq on behalf of democratic rule. Bush, in turn, should not pretend that the election means his policy has succeeded. This is exactly the right time for the administration to pay attention to its critics so that the joy of Sunday is not a one-night diversion.
The President of the United States:

The commitment to a free Iraq now goes forward. This historic election begins the process of drafting and ratifying a new constitution, which will be the basis of a fully democratic Iraqi government. Terrorists and insurgents will continue to wage their war against democracy, and we will support the Iraqi people in their fight against them. We will continue training Iraqi security forces so this rising democracy can eventually take responsibility for its own security.

There's more distance to travel on the road to democracy. Yet Iraqis are proving they're equal to the challenge. On behalf of the American people, I congratulate the people of Iraq on this great and historic achievement.

Do we really need left wing pundits to point out the obvious?

Lefties Hate Iraq Vote

Once again, count on WSJ Opinion Journal Best of the Web to find, indeed, the best of the Web -- as in this best example of Lefty insanity:
All the media keeps talking about is how happy the Iraqis are, how high turnout was, and how "freedom" has spread to Iraq. I had to turn off CNN because they kept focusing on the so-called "voters" and barely mentioned the resistance movements at all. Where are the freedom fighters today? Are their voices silenced because some American puppets cast a few ballots?

I can't believe the Iraqis are buying into this "democracy" bull****. They have to know that the Americans don't want them to have power, because they know that Bush is in this for the oil, and now that he finally has it he's not going to let it go. This election is a charade. The fact is that the Iraqis have suffered during the past two years more than any people on earth at the hands of the American gestapo. Maybe they're afraid and felt they had to vote. That's the only way I can explain it to myself.
Emphasis added, but the stupidity was there all along. Read the entire pile of **** here.

Eco-Terrorists Target Central California

Eight bombs have been found in construction sites in Lincoln and Auburn, California. Fortunately, these creeps haven't mastered the art of explosives yet, since none of the bombs went off. Perhaps the next one will ... better while they're making it than after they plant it. From the Sacramento Bee:

FBI counterterrorism agents have been investigating since the Dec. 27 discovery of three unexploded bombs at a home site in Lincoln.

Construction workers found the bombs in the Catta Verdera development at Twelve Bridges, a golf-oriented, master-planned community in southeast Lincoln being built by JTS Communities.

Five unexploded bombs were found Jan. 12 in the Parkhill Professional Center, an office building under construction at 440 Auburn Folsom Road in Auburn.

The letter claimed vandals targeted four $750,000 homes being built by JTS as a "fairly symbolic protest" and that it was undertaken "in honor of everyone who has felt helpless to sprawl and development."

The office building was targeted "as a statement against work and the horror of the (cubicle)," the letter added.

Students or Salamanders?

We call 'em CTS, and they're not Caddies. They're the California Tiger Salamander, and with most species listed as endangered, there's some that say they are and others that say they're not. In any case, this is the kind of craziness that comes from this stuff, as reported by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
The Bellevue School District could lose $4.8 million in state construction funds because the threatened California tiger salamander may live on the site of its proposed elementary school in southeast Santa Rosa.

An apparent misunderstanding had led the district's environmental consultants and school officials to believe no salamanders were at the site.

Now, the district, after a six-year effort to build the school, concedes that may not be the case. That leaves the district only four weeks to solve the salamander problem, win federal approval of the project and award a $13 million construction contract. Failure to do so by the end of February forfeits the $4.8 million from the state.

"We're still going to build the school," insisted Bellevue Superintendent Armando Flores. But he acknowledged that winning all the necessary approvals within the next month represents a "real challenge."

Corps: Local Problem No More

My earlier post on Prado Dam and the US Army Corps of Engineers' shirking of responsibility is no longer valid. Someone must have knocked some sense into them. From the newsletter of OC Supervisor Bill Cambell:
The Army Corps of Engineers has assumed responsibility for repairs, including paying for the repairs for the emergencies at Prado Dam.
It would have been far cheaper for the Corps if they had responded to the harried calls from the dam contractor, and sent someone over to open the floodgates.


My Inside-the-Beltway Liberal mom and I almost got into it last night over Abu Ghraib, then we decided to avoid mutually assured destruction and settle for detent. The episode reminded me, however, of an email that was hanging around in my inbox. It's copied below; I have no verification of its authenticity, but what it says is true nonetheless.

This Letter was written by
Lieutenant General Chuck Pitman, US Marine Corps, Retired

For good and ill, the Iraqi prisoner abuse mess will remain an issue. On the one hand, right thinking Americans will harbor the stupidity of the actions while on the other hand, political glee will take control and fashion this minor event into some modern day massacre.

I humbly offer my opinion here:

I am sorry that the last seven times we Americans took up arms and sacrificed the blood of our youth, it was in the defense of Muslims (Bosnia, Kosovo, Gulf War 1, Kuwait, etc.)

I am sorry that no such call for an apology from the extremists came after 9/11.

I am sorry that all of the murderers on 9/11 were Islamic Arabs.

I am sorry that most Arabs and Muslims have to live in squalor under savage dictatorships.

I am sorry that their leaders squander their wealth.

I am sorry that their governments breed hate for the US in their religious schools, mosques, and government-controlled media.

I am sorry that Yassir Arafat was kicked out of every Arab country and high-jacked the Palestinian "cause."

I am sorry that no other Arab country will take in or offer more than a token amount of financial help to those same Palestinians.

I am sorry that the USA has to step in and be the biggest financial supporter of poverty stricken Arabs while the insanely wealthy Arabs blame the USA for all their problems.

I am sorry that our own left wing, our media, and our own brainwashed masses do not understand any of this (from the misleading vocal elements of our society like radical professors, CNN and the NY TIMES).

I am sorry the United Nations scammed the poor people of Iraq out of the "food for oil" money so they could get rich while the common folk suffered.

I am sorry that some Arab governments pay the families of homicide bombers upon their death.

I am sorry that those same bombers are brainwashed thinking they will receive 72 virgins in "paradise."

I am sorry that the homicide bombers think pregnant women, babies, children, the elderly and other noncombatant civilians are legitimate targets.

I am sorry that our troops die to free more Arabs from the gang rape rooms and the filling of mass graves of dissidents of their own making.

I am sorry that Muslim extremists have killed more Arabs than any other group.

I am sorry that foreign trained terrorists are trying to seize control of Iraq and return it to a terrorist state.

I am sorry we don't drop a few dozen Daisy cutters on Fallujah.

I am sorry every time terrorists hide, they find a convenient "Holy Site."

I am sorry they didn't apologize for driving a jet into the World Trade Center that collapsed and severely damaged Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church - one of our Holy Sites.

I am sorry they didn't apologize for flight 93 and 175, the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, the murders and beheadings of Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl, etc....etc!

I am sorry Michael Moore is American; he could feed a medium sized village in Africa.

America will get past this latest absurdity. We will punish those responsible because that is what we do.

We hang out our dirty laundry for the entire world to see. We move on.

That's one of the reasons we are hated so much.

We don't hide this stuff like all those Arab countries that are now demanding an apology.

Deep down inside, when most Americans saw this reported in the news, we were like - so what? We lost hundreds and made fun of a few prisoners. Sure, it was wrong, sure, it dramatically hurts our cause, but until captured we were trying to kill these same prisoners. Now we're supposed to wring our hands because a few were humiliated?

Our compassion is tempered with the vivid memories of our own people killed, mutilated and burnt amongst a joyous crowd of celebrating Fallujahans.

If you want an apology from this American, you're going to have a long wait!

You have a better chance of finding those seventy-two virgins.

Chuck Pitman
Lieutenant General
US Marine Corps (Retired)

Semper Fi

What About Jordanian Colonialism?

28 whacko demonstrators in London

There are 28 Arab faces visible in the photo above, which NBC is flouting about. (here) If you look carefully, you can see the yellow jackets of the rear-guard policemen just behind the second banner, so it's quite likely that there are no more than 50 or 60 anti-Democracy idiots in this photograph.

They're demonstrating outside the Iraqi polling center in London, in a futile attempt to quash the hunger for freedom Iraqis showed the world yesterday.

The only real colonialist in Iraq right now, since the US has no intention of staying there any longer than they're welcome or needed, is the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi. He wants to colonize the Arab world under his view of Islam, and he's willing to do it at any cost -- even at the cost of blowing up school children -- ostensibly because he feels his religion is incompatible with freedom. Many Islamic scholars would argue the point with him.

And millions of Iraqi citizens thumbed their noses at him yesterday by raising a purple-dyed index finger skyward and dancing in the streets.

Zarqawi, are you listening?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Remember, It's The Oil

Writing in the Toronto Star via The Smirking Chimp, Linda McQuaig says not to be fooled by the election in Iraq:
No matter how inspired the rhetoric, the U.S. project in Iraq has never been about democracy. It's been about getting control of Iraq's vast, virtually untouched oil reserves, and extending Washington's military reach over the region.
Could she please point out one official reference, anywhere, that the US is taking any Iraqi oil? Oh, wait, there's more and it's even worse:
[The Bush Administration] also drew up sweeping plans to privatize the entire Iraqi economy, including the oil sector — before the Iraqi people got to cast a single vote.
Oh, the shame!

Credit For Iraq Success Goes To ...

So now that it appears that the Iraq election was a success, who gets the credit. Reuters opines (hat tip Cursor):
Reuters reports that if Iraq's election comes off, much of the credit will belong to Carlos Valenzuela, 'The U.N.'s Electoral Mr. Fix-It' from Bogota, Colombia. Plus: an 'Electoral Fact Sheet' from the U.N.

Soros Dumps on Kerry

George Soros thinks John Kerry would have won if he'd played up his Vietnam war protest years instead of his Vietnam war service months. (here) He said Kerry's "hero" role is not suitable for the Democratic party, but the "protester" role is what the Dems are all about.

Does it seem to you, as it does to me, that he's conceded perpetual defeat for the Dems? After all, the leaders don't protest.

Lie of the day, from Soros:
"I don't feel it's an investment that's gone bad, because when you stand up for principles you have to do it whether you win or lose. I'm distressed that Bush was re-elected, but I don't feel that I wasted my money.''

They Wish They Could Take It Back

A Clintonista and a Cuba/Nicaragua-ist on the staff of the Lefty Center for American Progress boldly made predictions on the Iraqi election. I bet they think they could take them back. Here are their main points:
Ongoing violence and confusion threaten to undermine the election's legitimacy. Most Iraqis do not even know where to go to vote .... [Apparently up to 73% got it right.]

The Bush administration has a big mess on its hands in Iraq. But if the election does not go well, it will not be surprising if the White House – instead of taking responsibility for its mistakes – tries to lay blame elsewhere. Potential scapegoats abound; beware of finger-pointing at the United Nations or our European allies for allegedly not doing their parts. [I wonder if any of them will point at us and say, "Good job, Uncle Sam!" Doubt it.]

Any victory by the Shia majority is bound to incite Sunni insurgents and Saddam loyalists to violence. Lack of participation by the Sunnis – who may be too intimidated and fearful to vote – will sow the seeds of unending strife. [Time will tell on this one, but the Left is compiling quite a record of underestimating both Bush and the Iraqis.]

It should come as no surprise that this administration, which has never been fond of planning, seems to have no idea for what comes after the potentially explosive election. [No explosion; no need for a back-up plan.]

The Iraqi election has cost Americans more than 1,400 lives and $220 billion. The Bush administration has already spent $144 billion prosecuting the war in Iraq and is about to ask taxpayers for another $80 billion . In the meantime, American soldiers – 35,000 of whom will deploy on the streets of Baghdad alone to protect voters – are killed or wounded every day. At this price, one might expect better results than a highly uncertain election amidst widespread instability – and no end in sight for our troops or taxpayers. [The end became a lot closer today, and more important, the reason why we are there should be evident to all.]

Kos Unimpressed With Election

It must be tough writing at Daily Kos in light of a 72% turnout* amid lower-than-expected violence in Iraq. Tough indeed. Contributor Armando 's struggling (here):
This Election is simply, in my estimation, an exercise in pretty pictures. Why? Because Elections are to choose governments, not to celebrate the day. Are the people elected capable of governing Iraq at this time? Without 150,000 U.S. soldiers? Or even with them? I have been accused of gloating by people right HERE because of my focus on the continuing violence. But my focus has been on the realities of governing a land in chaos, in the midst of civil war, with 150,000 U.S. soldiers the only force with the ability to provide security. And this is 2 years after the invasion.
So the election went better than he hoped. Now he hopes the forming of a government will go worse than expected, and before too long he'll have to deal with another false prediction and ignore another pillar of his shaky foundation falling away.

The Independent Election Commission of Iraq clarified an earlier estimate of a 72 percent turnout, saying that the "figures are only very rough, word-of-mouth estimates gathered informally from the field." (CNN)

Al Jazeera and the Election

How Al Jazeera portrayed the election

Al Jazeera's coverage of the election is a world apart from what we're hearing. The photo they chose -- of an Iraqi policeman guarding a voting station -- tells the bias even more than the copy. They could have shown joyful Iraqis dancing in the street, but instead, they lead with a photo of a thuggish, hooded police officer. The copy also works hard to suppress any hopeful thoughts among other Arab populations:
Iraqis cast their vote amidst fear and deadly attacks

The Iraqi people started voting Sunday in their country's first election in half a century, as anti-occupation rebels stepped up their attacks and mortar strikes at polling stations, killing 30 people, including four policemen and two Iraqi soldiers.

Casting his vote in Iraq’s first multi-party ballot in half a century, interim President Ghazi al-Yawer called it Iraq's first step "toward joining the free world."

Although Iraqi authorities adopted strict security measures, numerous explosions and violent attacks shook Baghdad on the elections’ first day. Also multiple blasts rocked the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Baquba.

A bomb attack in western Baghdad killed one policeman and wounded several others. Meanwhile mortar attacks rocked Khan al-Mahawil, 40 miles south of the Iraqi capital, killing another policeman at a polling center.

Three other people were injured when a rocket landed near a polling station in Sadr City, the heart of Baghdad's Shiite Muslim community, witnesses said Sunday.

The Iraqi capital was hit with several explosions and mortar attacks. Several other Iraqi cities, including Baqouba, Basra and Mosul were also struck with similar attacks.

Also the Ministry of Interior on the city's eastern edge was hit Sunday with two mortars, according to one witness.

In the New Baghdad area in the eastern part of the city, an exchanges of gunfire were also heard.

Meanwhile Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad, and southern city of Basra, the country's second-largest were also struck with several explosions.

Only after wading through all that, do you get any coverage of the voting itself. But evenin that coverage elation is underplayed, and negative news takes the fore. Read it here.

LAT Makes Up For Yesterday's Slight

Yesterday, the LATimes buried the Iraqi vote in the US on the last page of the front section. They made up for their error today with a great page one story on a group of Seattle Iraqis who caravaned to OC to vote. (here)

"Last month they kidnapped my uncle from his house in Baghdad," Sadik says about the insurgents, her breath a white plume in the inky morning. "He escaped from them. He is safe, but he's still worried. He can't go out. He can't work. He's depressed. He has four kids. The situation is really bad.

"But he's going to vote," says Sadik, whose family came from Baghdad via Syria to Seattle three years ago because her mother wanted the children to have an education, medicines, a future. "He's really excited to vote, so he can live safe with his children. Especially now, after what happened to him. He really wants a better life." ...

"When you have the first election in the history of Iraq, you want to be a part of it. For me, honestly, if I don't take part, I give up on my own people and tell the terrorists over there, 'you won,' " says Muhamed Qatrani. ...

Qatrani gets his ballot at 2:07 p.m. and sticks an index finger into the purple ink pot, a security measure to ensure that no expatriate votes twice. He holds the inky digit up with a smile. He steps behind a cardboard screen, and it's over in a moment. He stuffs his ballot into the plastic box and kisses his wife.

"Hopefully, we will see you in Iraq," a poll worker tells the grinning man. "Inshallah, inshallah," Qatrani responds, "God willing, God willing."

NYT, Kerry and Condi on Election

According to the US Elections Project, 60 percent of eligible voters voted in Bush v. Kerry. Quite high by US standards, but it appears it will be small by Iraqi standards. Fox News is reporting over 60% and, but according to the country's election commission, the turn-out is 72% (in another Fox News report.)

Friday, the NYTimes predicted "less than overwhelming voter turnout in many parts of Iraq." It looks like once again, MSM cynicism has biased its ability to process news. Turnout among Sunnis may not have been as high, but that was their choice -- a word that didn't have meaning under Hussein.

Meanwhile, on Meet the Press Kerry appeard to downplay the election, focusing instead on the likelihood for more violence through the transition. Yes, that's important, but the vote is significant, and the most significant thing of all is that Iraqis by the millions cared enough to turn their backs on the terrorists and vote. Gloom and doom didn't work any better today than it did in November for Kerry.
"It is hard to say that something is legitimate when whole portions of the country can't vote and doesn't vote," Kerry said. (here)
On Fox News Sunday, Condi, projected the right balance of excitement for today and frank assessment of the future. (here)
"What we are seeing today is what the Iraqis want their future to be. They want it to be one based on democracy -- on the vote, not the gun. And yet there are some terrible thugs, mostly from the old regime, who are trying to forestall that process, and we saw today that they are not succeeding."
No pollyanna, she said the terrorists might get more nasty as they see the transfer of power, but it was framed within the enthusiasm she has for the election -- an enthusiasm for Democracy Kerry didn't project at all.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

"Minority Report" Spiders Coming!

You're a terrorist hiding from US troops in Mosul. What could be more terrifying than an army of mechanical spiders -- the same ones that sought out Tom Cruise in Minority Report -- entering his lair?

Well, how about if they're flying?

If Boeing's Future Combat Systems is successful in its endeavors, in a few years, a soldier will be able to pull a Micro Air Vehicle out of his pack and send it off, up stairs and around corners in urban warfare settings, giving the soldier a view of what's inside.

Future Combat Systems is a $21 billion program to transform the U.S. Army by networking soldiers with vehicles and surveillance devices, including unmanned ground and aerial vehicles. Boeing is a lead contractor on the program, which already employs 700 people at Boeing's Huntington Beach campus and 4,800 more across the country.

The program is meant to reduce the "fog of war," or the confusion and chaos that can result when soldiers don't know the location of other forces, including their own.

More here.

Ah, Capitalism!

The announcement by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that it would increase its contribution to fight disease in poor countries to $1.5 billion is a hymn in praise of capitalism.

The amount of wealth created by Bill Gates almost defies comprehension. Not just his wealth, a great deal of which he is giving away, but also the wealth of every MicroSoft employee right down to the warehouse packer, of the owners and employees of thousands of companies made possible or more efficient by MicroSoft's products, the retailers and service companies who make a living sellling and servicing the project.

I've never seen any numbers on it, but my guess is that Bill Gates, because he got to work in a country that champions capitalism, single-handedly created more wealth than the Soviet Union did in its entire history.

And most important is that capitalists like Carnegie and Gates give much of it away. Complain about their products, complain that they don't give enough ... but still, when those kids in Africa and Bengaladesh live instead of die, say a prayer of thanks to Bill Gates and Capitalism.

LATimes Downplays Iraq Vote

What the LA Times Ignored

Yesterday, Iraqis from around the Western US convened in OC to vote, less than 20 miles from the LATimes' Orange County bureau. The OC Register played it as its "In Depth" front page story, with the story continuing on -- get this -- pages two, three and four.

Almost utterly ignoring this momentus beginning to the tomorrow's incredibly significant vote, the LAT ran the story on the very last page of the first section. It sent a reporter to Skokie, Illinois and El Toro (whose report ran inexplicity at the very end of the coverage in what is, after all, a SoCal newspaper -- delusions of grandeur?) and even dialed up lazy old John Daniszewski in London to hustle up a quote.

Why bury the paper so deeply?

Simple. There were no negative quotes to be had at any of the venues. Why would the LAT ever give prominence to a story about Iraq with quotes like this?
"Muslim, Christian — it doesn't matter. We are all here to help each other. This is a good day for God, for Muhammad, for Jesus and Moses."

"I am born again. This is my birthday. This is the birth of the Iraqi state."
Note: My Inside-the-Beltway Liberal and retired journalist mom is visiting and we had an interesting discussion about this, focusing on the provincialism of the media. The OCRegister played up the OC Iraqi vote on page one but relegated the arraignment of MetroLink murderer Juan Manuel Alvarex to page 16. He is, after all from just up the road in LA County, where the crash occurred. And the LAT, which has tried and failed for years to become OC's newspaper, couldn't see the El Toro vote as an opportunity to be an Orange County newspaper.

Chertoff Guilty of Giving Advice

In its Really Big Story for Saturday, the NYTimes attempts to paint Homeland Security chief nominee Michael Chertoff with the Gonzales brush.

"Security Nominee Gave Advice to the C.I.A. on Torture Laws," screams the headline. But funny, the story never mentions "torture" in the context of what Chertoff did in his former position. It's all about "interrogation techniques." Are we to believe no one told the headline writer?

Sift through the sensationalism, and what you get is a story about a man who gave good advice to the CIA. "Pain is OK, but not life-threatening pain" is as bad as it gets with Chernoff's opinions. Most were much less dramatic. Yes, you can pretend they're being interrogated by the security officials of another country. No, you can threaten them with death.

This is the kind of advice we'd expect from a government attorney in a country where the intelligence agency knows it's bound by laws and is not free to kill, rape or cut off hands, like many of those they are interrogating did under Hussein.

Friday, January 28, 2005

NYTimes States Its Bet

After saying a popular Mullah didn't mention the upcoming vote in his Friday message, the NYTimes declares its prediction for the election: "less than overwhelming voter turnout in many parts of Iraq."

Are they prescient, or just guilty of believing their own press? What do they mean by "less than overwhelming?" What if it's a significantly greater percentage than voted in Bush v. Kerry, which is likely to occur? Can that be "less than overwhelming?" And what is "many parts of Iraq?" One province? Two? Three?

I think they've shot a bullet at themselves. And I think they'll dodge it ... at least they'll convince themselves they dodged it.

Sunnis Lining Up To Vote

Wary of the same self-marginalization that previously took Shiites out of power and assured the raise of Saddam Hussein, many Sunnis are eager to vote. Here's the link to the Friends of Democracy in Iraq report.

Time To Address Immigration?

Will it take a Border Patrol 9/11 for the US government to confront the deteriorating situation on the US-Mexican border? I hope not, but it's looking like the wheels are already up on the jetliners. From the Washington Times:
As law-enforcement efforts [on the Arizona-Mexico border] have increased, so have the incidents of violence and the intensity of the attacks on the agents in the stretch known as the Tucson sector -- which are averaging one assault every two days and are on pace to increase this year by 80 percent.

Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame in Tucson said alien and drug smugglers have become increasingly aggressive in protecting their illicit cargoes of drugs and aliens.

"It is obvious the violence associated with smugglers has evolved from rock-throwing incidents to tactics intended to seriously maim or kill agents attempting to bring them to justice," Mr. Adame said. "They're starting to see some losses, and when you talk financial gain with smugglers and the loss of it, they're going to react violently."

The State Department this week issued a warning to Americans traveling into the northern border regions of Mexico, saying they should be "aware of the risk posed by the deteriorating security situation." The warning said violent criminal activity along the border, including killings and kidnappings, was on the rise.

China for Free Elections?

Someone at the LATimes noticed that it just might be a little hypocritical for repressive China to be supporting free elections in Iraq by providing supplies and assistance through the UN. (here)

Here's the Chinese spin:
Elections won't work in China because the masses aren't wealthy or well-educated enough to understand the issues, Chinese officials often argue. Elections are at odds with 5,000 years of Chinese history and, anyway, the country already has a democracy with socialist characteristics, they say.
Here's the unspin:
It's becoming more difficult, however, to argue that the people lack the necessary income and education when the nation's performance is rising on both counts. Meanwhile, more impoverished Indonesia recently pulled off an impressive peaceful transfer of power; and India, with its lower literacy rate, remains the world's largest democracy.

"Two years ago I went to Cambodia, which is poorer than China, and watched a very good election," said Li Fan, director of the World and China Institute, a Beijing think tank focused on rural democracy. "It's a silly argument."
This is the President's inauguration speech in action. Spread a little Democracy around and just look what happens to the autocrats and despots.

Are you reading this, Senator Kennedy?

"The Best Day ..."

"The best day of my life ever!"

That's how an Iraqi man at the old El Toro Marine Corps Air Station here in OC explained his feelings as he waited to vote. His comment mirrored many Iraqis' comments I heard on local radio stations.

Are you listening, Sen. Kennedy?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

No Blood for Chocolate!

Just for fun, I did a Nexis search for "Ivory Coast" and "quagmire." There were only four stories that made the connection, even though the situation the French occupiers face there after three years of military operations is as squishy and sticky as any good quagmire.

By comparison, "Iraq" and "quagmire" generated 382 hits in major English language dailies in just the last month. (Google generated 250,000 hits!)

The Ivory Coast search yielded a delightfully wicked piece by Lorne Gunter in Canada's National Post. There's no long a link to the story on the site, so here it is in its entirety:

No blood for chocolate! No blood for chocolate! No blood for chocolate!

Where are the mass protests in the streets of the world's capitals against France's military intervention in the Ivory Coast?

This month, French peacekeepers in the former French colony launched a pre-emptive assault against the Ivorian air force. They also interferred with the internal politics of the troubled nation and sought regime change -- or at least they have been accused of both by President Laurent Gbagbo.

They acted without authorization by the United Nations Security Council.

They violated both the UN Charter and the terms of the peacekeeping resolution that established their specific mission in the West African nation.

The Security Council did sanction their attacks after the fact. Nonetheless, the French acted unilaterally, and only sought and received a UN cover story later. There wasn't even a coalition of the willing. No Brits, Aussies, Poles or Dutch to help out; just French troops, jets, helicopters and armoured personnel carriers.

While the French have achieved their military goals quickly and easily, they have failed to stop the destruction of much of the I.C.'s infrastructure.

They have been powerless to end a Muslim insurgency that controls half of Ivory Coast's territory. They have stood by while schools and libraries were torched, failed to prevent widespread looting and have even fired on civilian mobs twice, killing as many as 60 Ivorians. And they have hardly been welcomed as liberators by the locals.

Tens of thousands of Ivorians wielding machetes, clubs and long-handled axes marched through the streets of Abidjan, the financial capital, last week shouting "French go home!" and "Everybody get your Frenchman!" as they ransacked French-owed businesses and residences.

Tens of thousands of immigrant Ivorians have been turned into refugees, fleeing into neighbouring Liberia, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Ghana.

Who knows, perhaps we'll also soon learn that some fabulous national museum containing world heritage treasures -- yet a museum no one in the West, outside of a handful of archaeologists, had heard ever of -- was picked clean thanks to French neglect.

All of this was done in the name of protecting French commercial interests in the IC's lucrative cocoa trade (and timber, mines and oil).

So where are the campus radicals, the smug Western intellectuals and the preening pundits with their accusations of blood for chocolate?

Where is their accusation that the whole thing has just been a giant conspiracy to ensure French President Jacques Chirac's buddies in the chocolate industry have all the cheap cocoa butter they want?

There has been no media talk of quagmire, even though the French have been involved in the I.C.'s civil war for nearly three years. The French military intervention proceeded for the first 17 months without any UN authorization whatever. And the Chirac government has repeatedly escalated its troop commitment from 500 in 2002, to 2,500 in 2003, to 4,000 earlier this year, to 5,000 today. And the situation only worsens.

Where is their outrage at the inability of French forces to secure instantly and perfectly every block of the Ivory Coast's teeming cities? Where are the BBC interviews with Secretary-General Kofi Annan declaring the French adventure "illegal," as he did concerning the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq? Where are the letters from Annan to Chirac entreating him not to quell the insurgency or crush the forces fighting French troops for fear of provoking worse from the locals, the way he cautioned the Americans against pacifying Falluja.

Let me be emphatic: The French have done exactly what they should have in Ivory Coast. They destroyed the five-aircraft Ivorian air force after it had bombed a French base, apparently by mistake, and killed nine soldiers. They fired on an ugly Ivorian throng only after the mob threatened to attack the country's largest airport, which the French had secured so jets could whisk thousands of French nationals to safety.

What's galling is the way the French have done it all without any deference to the multilateral consensus-building they so smugly demanded of the Americans and British last year when the boots were on the other feet.

Doubly galling is the silence -- even complicity -- of the UN and the international community, which last year so sanctimoniously and vocally obstructed the invasion of Iraq.

No other nation has inserted itself militarily into African affairs in the post-colonial period more than France -- nearly two dozen times -- including on behalf of the murderous Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who proclaimed himself emperor of the Central African Republic, and in support of the Hutu government of Rwanda, whose supporters butchered half a million or more Tutsis in 1994.

The truth is, international opposition to the Iraq war (including French opposition) was prompted as much by bitter anti-Americanism and irrational hatred of George W. Bush as it was by any true concern for peace or multilateralism.

Will Michael Moore now rush to Yamoussoukro, the I.C.'s political capital, to produce a "documentary" on the scandal of French unilateralism and neo-colonialism?

Of course not. When it is countries and leaders they favour committing the offences, the international left gives them a free pass.

Al Jazeera Reader Poll

Al Jazeera readers are not too keen on the prospects for the situation in Iraq improving after the election ... no surprise, given this news channel. Note: Results biased slightly by my "yes" vote.

Will day-to-day life in Iraq improve

after the 30 January election?

Yes: 25%
No: 70%
Not Sure: 5%
Sample: 7,530

Post Tsunami Slime

From Al Jazeera:
Meanwhile, a leading Indonesian anti-corruption activist was been detained by police in tsunami-ravaged Aceh province for allegedly stealing trucks of relief supplies meant for disaster survivors, police said on Thursday.

Farid Faqih, director of the Government Watch independent watchdog, has been charged with hiding aid supplies in a warehouse, director for special crimes Suharto told Elshinta radio.

Reports said Faqih was working as a partner to the UN agency World Food Programme and had unhindered access to tonnes of aid at the air base in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.

If You Can't Understand Me, It's Because My Foot Is In My Mouth

Statement released today by the UN:
New York, 26 January 2005 - Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Iraqi elections

Carina Perelli, Director of the UN Electoral Assistance Division, mis-spoke today when she said the U.S. military was “over-enthusiastic in wanting to help” with the Iraqi elections. She was trying to make a point about the great sensitivity among many Iraqis about the U.S. presence as the election approaches, but not to deny the obvious fact that the U.S. military, along with the Iraqi security forces, are playing a crucial role in providing security for Iraqi citizens who will be voting. Ms. Perelli's role was to brief the press on the technical preparations for the election, and she did not intend to criticize the U.S. military's profile.

MetroLink: Pennies Saved, Lives Lost

Yesterday's MetroLink crash in Glendale probably would have resulted in nothing more than tardy workers of the public agency that runs the trains mandated a "locomotive-in-front" policy. They don't, because it's cheaper to run a "puller" in one direction, then just reverse and run a "pusher" in the other.

The train that hit the SUV was a pusher, so there was a lightweight rail car in the front, not a gazillion-ton locomotive that would have blasted the SUV to smithereens. This is obvious when looking at the pictures, and was confirmed this a.m. on Dennis Prager when a retired engineer called and said that's exactly what happened.

Government, so quick to regulate us, has to kill us before it will consider regulating itself.

Tomorrow's 20/20: Must Watch

John Stossel is going to undo some mighty myths tomorrow night on ABC (10 Pacific), including one of my favorites. Did he read my earlier post?
Democratic and Republican politicians complain about it -- "It destroys the environment, causes pollution. We won't have any open spaces left!" Bunk. Ninety-five percent of the United States is still undeveloped. What planners call "sprawl" is really the dream house for people who want to move their family out of the city, or have a backyard. "Smart growth" is dumb.
Some of the others set for debunking by Stossel:
In fact, gas prices are lower than they were throughout most of the 20th century. People believe gas is expensive because the news media keep getting it wrong.

America lost 361 million jobs between 1993 and 2002. Sounds terrible -- until you know that, during these same years, America gained 380 million new jobs. Free trade, including outsourcing, brings the creative destruction that makes that possible. We asked the AFL-CIO for examples of "victims of outsourcing." The first person they suggested we call had found a new job that was more comfortable and paid BETTER than her old one. I confront Lou Dobbs, who says outsourcing is a "crisis."

For their own kids, politicians who talk up the importance of public education often decide that private school is a better choice. Nearly half of the congressmen with school-age children send them at some point to private schools. I confront Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill. He attended the exclusive St. Albans private school, but he opposes vouchers that would let poorer people have similar choices.
Stossel says his No. 1 myth which "has to do with the 'Tragedy of the Commons' and it's killing fish, elephants, forests, and parks, and it's fouling the office refrigerator!" will be revealed Friday night.

Why We Don't Like Armstrong Williams

I do think that government has as much right to PR as the next guy, although I personally don't take them as clients any more.

But when Armstrong Williams was thinking about taking $240,000 on the sly to promote a program he should have supported for free, this thought should have crossed his mind:

"If they find out, I'll be Maureen Dowd fodder!!"

I hate it when she gets a morsel of legitimacy to chew on, because she always spits out a mouthful bilious gunk in the process.

UPDATE: For a rundown of all the media that are jumping on the bandwagon with Dowd, see Howard Kurtz' Propaganda Wars column in the Washpost. It includes a blogroll of blog commenters as well.

Miracles and Madness at Prado

Water overflows a cofferdam earlier this month

Hundreds of deaths may have miraculously been avoided downstream from the Prado Dam when the temporary cofferdam shown above managed to not break up, despite predictions it would fail. After all, 2.5 feet of water were cresting over it. The overflow is clearly evident on the right side of the photo.

I obtained this previously unpublished photo from a source who got it from an unnamed source. The story behind the photo is one of miracles, incompetence, irresponsibility and gross CYA behavior.

First, it's a picture of catastrophe avoided. Temporary cofferdams like this are not meant to be topped. Yet this one did not crumble despite the great pressure behind it and the high potential for degredation caused by the water running over it. Just downstream are two neighborhoods that would have looked worse than Phuqet if it had failed.

It's also a picture about money. Orange County has been raiding its flood control budget for years to pay off its bankruptcy debt, so a decision was made to make the cofferdam -- which is part of a construction project to increase the capacity of Prado Dam -- lower than the spillway, which is just to the right what's shown in this photo.

Stupid. If the cofferdam had been a few feet higher, water would have run down the spillway like it's supposed to, and this would be a non-story. As it is, huge expenditures will be required to restore the construction site and finish the job.

It's also a story about shirked responsibility. My sources tell me that the construction contractor frantically tried for hours to get someone at the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for managing the dam, to rush to Corona to open the floodgates and take the pressure off the dam.

No one seems to know why, but the Corps refused for some time to send anyone, leading to the overflow, which should have led to a catastrophic failure.

Now, according to an LA Times report on a meeting of officials and residents of neighborhoods below the dam, the Corps is shirking its responsibility.
Officials sounded frustrated that they couldn't get a clear answer on whether to evacuate from the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates and is upgrading the dam. They said the Corps told them it was a local decision.

"Then one engineer stated if his mom lived there, he would evacuate her," Fire Chief Mike Warren said. "He also said, 'It's going to fail; it could be a matter of hours or days, but hopefully our [repairs] get done before it fails.' " Warren said those comments were one of the factors that led to the evacuation.

A Corps representative was not present, which angered many at the meeting.

A Victory for Decency

La Habra is a town in Orange County. It's also Spanish for "the view."

A judge has decided that patrons of a strip club in La Habra should have a bit less la habra of the girls who dance there -- and that's good news for people everywhere who are sick of the sleaze the porn-and-stripper business brings with it.

I've stripped down the LATimes report to the bare essentials:
In a decision that La Habra officials believe could encourage other cities, a federal appeals court Wednesday upheld a city ordinance that effectively bans lap dancing by requiring exotic performers to stay two feet from their customers.

Deborah Fox, who represented the city in its fight with the owner of Taboo Gentleman's Club, called the 3-0 ruling "really huge," since "lap dancing is the financial linchpin of the adult industry and this is the end of the argument about its prohibition." ...

"The 2-foot rule," Judge Richard Tallman wrote, "merely requires that dancers give their performances from a slight distance; it does not prohibit them from giving their performances altogether. The rule limits the dancers' freedom to convey their erotic message but does not prohibit them from performing erotic one-on-one dances for patrons." ...

Fox said she hoped the ruling would encourage other cities to consider ordinances limiting lap dancing, many of which have been challenged.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Revised Press Conference Questions

Revised -- I've finally had a chance to spend some time with the questions posed in today's presidential press conference, courtesy of the New York Times, which, of course, also has the president's answers. I've trimmed and commented, so it's quite different now.
Mr. President, the insurgents in Iraq are threatening to kill anyone who comes out to vote on Sunday. Do you think they'll succeed in killing or scaring away enough people so that the elections will be rendered seriously flawed or not credible? [Did the reporter really expect an affirmative answer? Does he really believe that the insurgents could really be so effective as to kill that many people.]

Mr. President, let me take you up on that, if I may. Last month in Jordan a gentlemen named Ali Hattar was arrested after delivering a lecture called "Why We Boycott America." He was charged under Section 191 of their penal code for slander of government officials. He stood up for democracy, you might say. And I wonder if here and now you will specifically condemn this abuse of human rights by a key American ally. And if you won't, sir, then what in a practical sense do your fine words mean? [Interesting that the Left is more interested in mild rights violations by allies than they are in mass murders and genocide by leftist regimes in Cuba, North Korea and Zimbabwe.]

Mr. President, in the debate over Dr. Rice's confirmation, Democrats came right out and accused you and the administration of lying in the run up to the war in Iraq. Republicans in some cases conceded that mistakes had been made. Now that the election's over, are you willing to concede that any mistakes were made, and how do you feel about -- [These guys are journalists. They have dictionaries. They can look up the definition of "lying." But they don't.]
Mr. President, I want to try another way to ask you about Iraq. When you made the decision to go to war in Iraq, you clearly had majority support in the country. A string of recent polls have shown a clear majority of the American people now believe it was a mistake to go to war in Iraq. ... What would you say to the American people, including a significant number who supported you at the beginning of the war, who now say this is not what we were led to believe would happen? [This reporter apparently has confused this president with the previous presidnet, who was a poll pol.]

A question on Social Security, if we may, sir. There has been, as you've worked forward to making your ultimate proposal, growing concern among Republicans on Capitol Hill. We had Chairman Thomas last week with some concern about the process and Senator Olympia Snowe on the other side suggesting that she's concerned about an absentee -- guaranteed benefit. Excuse me. Are you prepared today to say that those who opt into a potential private account, a personal account, could in fact have a guaranteed benefit as well? And what do you say to Republicans who are beginning to worry? [Once again, the Left is setting itself up as the fool by underestimating Bush's intelligence. They always think he's going to come up with something dumb, clumsy and insupportable because he's "just a dumb, right-wing Texan," then he straight-arms them into the mud with a well thought out piece of legislation or a sharp and focused strategy. Just wait.]

Thank you. Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you said you're going to reach out to these people. How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality? [Finally, a right-biased question!]

Elite Bad Taste

In a front-page story on American hostage Roy Hallums, whose daughter lives in Orange County, OC Register reporter Gwendolyn Driscoll, her editors and a University of California Irvine prof conspired in a feat of bad taste that shows just how cynical and self-righteous the media and elite profs have become.

After setting up the Levine's quote with public statements from Hallums' daughter, his ex-wife and Sen. Feinstein, the story goes on:

Privately, however, experts said the outlook was grim.

"Obviously, if it's an American contractor, the chances are not good for him coming out of this in one piece, literally," said Mark Levine, an associate professor of Middle East History at UC Irvine, who visited Iraq last year to help secure the release of two Italian aid workers. (emphasis added)

Levine is often quoted and should know better than to say something so tasteless to a reporter. And any reporter or editor with the least bit of compassion for Hallums' family, or for that matter, the least bit of good taste, would never have run the quote.

It's a conspiracy of bitter, elite, rude dunces.

Enviro Litigation Mill Loses Big

The Center for Biological Diversity, despite its name, is all about lawsuits, not biology. They even call themselves "Nature's Legal Eagles." Almost singlehandedly, the group has put millions of acres under layers of additional regulation, caused major economic hardships to millions by driving up the cost of housing and making ranching less profitable -- and they have lined their pockets handily in the process.

On slam-dunk lawsuits against the federal government, they collect taxpayer money for legal fees at the tune of $300 an hour, while they pay their ecowarrior litigators considerably less.

Now they've lost big -- $600,000 -- according to the Arizona Daily Star. (I can't find a link to the days-old article on their site, so I'm copying text in.)
Tucson's Center for Biological Diversity must pay rancher and banker Jim Chilton $600,000 because the environmental group defamed him with a press release and photos posted on its Web site, a jury decided Friday.

In a 9-1 verdict, jurors in Pima County Superior Court awarded Chilton $100,000 for the harm done to his reputation and Arivaca cattle company. The jury tacked on an additional $500,000 in punitive damages meant to punish the center and deter others from committing libel.

Chilton, whose wife, Sue, is chairwoman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, sued the center over material that alleged he mismanaged his 21,500-acre Forest Service allotment, northwest of Nogales.

Many of the center's 21 photos depicted barren patches that captions described as "denuded" by cows. But Chilton's lawyer showed jurors wide-angle photos taken at the same locations that revealed the surroundings as worthy of a postcard, with oaks and mesquites dotting lush, rolling hills.
It's about time. The Center's founder Kieran Suckling lamented that the lawsuit might have a chilling effect on activist groups. Good. They've had a free hand long enough, and because they collect money when they win and pay nothing when they lose, they have no self control, only misguided holy zeal.

Let's hope other victims of their lawsuit abuse see this as a signal from the refs to pile on.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Al Jazeera Watch: Bush Speech

The headline on Al Jazeera's Web site shouldn't surprise anyone:

Why do the despots and despotic imams, and the downtrodden and exploited they rule over, so fear this word, "freedom?" Let Al Jazeera illuminate:
An Arab professor of political science drew parallels between the words of Bush and Usama bin Ladin, saying the president had made the word freedom banal in the same way as the al-Qaida leader had the word jihad. "The two men have both invoked their favourite concepts without ever putting them into practice," Assad Abu Khalil, who works in the United States, told Aljazeera. ... [For a look at this shaggy Cal State Stanislaus political science prof and an insight into his anti-American philosophy, click here.]

"The export of democracy is in no way a military operation." ...

Egyptian writer and analyst Abd al-Karim al-Karimi said Bush's lavish "coronation ceremony" was a throwback to the colonial era [Well, it's really a throwback to Clinton's second coronation, when adjusted for inflation] and lambasted the president's address for promoting democracy without content. "All the world talks about liberty, but what liberty is it? What is the meaning of the democracy and the political liberties that the United States wants to impose in the Middle East? Bush does not say," he told Egyptian television.

For Iraqi analyst Abd al-Hussain Shaaban the US administration has lost its credibility to promote democracy after launching an invasion of Iraq that two years on has left the country lacking the most basic security. "The United States is closing its eyes towards dictators who serve its own interests but attacks those that damage it," he added, in a reference to key US ally Saudi Arabia. "The fact that Iraq is in chaos and under military occupation does not bode well for democracy coming to the country and to the Middle East." [Interesting that the leader of the Arab Organization for Human Rights didn't see fit to comment on Hussein's record.]

A Buzz of Iraqi Election News

If you're not checking Friends of Democracy in Iraq regularly, you are missing out on the excitement that is building in Iraq as election nears. I added it to the blog URLs Kinja compiles for me and the updates are almost never-ending. The last time I checked back with Kinja, there were 10 updates, including this fascinating link:
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has put together and translated a series of powerful Iraqi election ads that aired recently on various Middle Eastern TV channels.

LATimes "Eve of Destruction" Continues

From long before its "Gropinator" expose attempted derail Schwarzenegger in the final days of the Davis recall, right up through its vacuous but vicious slam on Condi on the eve of her confirmation hearings, the LA Times has always been up for a last minute body slime ... er, slam.

Today, on the eve of the election in Iraq, the LAT did its best to fuel anti-American feelings in Iraq by breaking a story that no doubt will be the lead on Al Jazeera tonight ... yup, there it is, their second Iraq lead. Acting again as handmaiden for the ACLU, the LAT splashed across the front page yet another story from the ACLU's strategic, carefully timed release of data on prisoner conditions in Iraq from its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

(Just an aside ... does anyone else find it ironic that the ACLU is so bent on destroying, in their jihad for their version of "civil liberties," a country that has a Freedom of Information Act?)

As with the Condi story, in which the LAT reached back six years to her tenure at Stanford to dredge up a few hypersensitive profs who didn't care for her style, the LAT is dishing out thin gruel on this story.

It tells almost entirely of alleged abuse, some of it quite alarming if true, of prisoners at the hands of Iraqi interrogators. Only one mention of the possible presence of a US soldier is mentioned in the entire, droningly long piece. And where did the allegations come from? From the stories alleged victims told to US investigators -- not ACLU attorneys -- who were investigating the allegations.

Sure, if it's true, then someone needs to be watching those interrogators more closely, but really, what's the point?

The point is clear. The ACLU wants to make "collaborators" look bad just before the election, so more radical parties can win more power in the new Iraqi government. This is classic ACLU strategy, since it would result in greater difficulties for the administration and, quite possibly, in deaths of more US soldiers.

And when the remains of those brave soldiers are shipped home, who will the LATimes blame? The ACLU? Not a chance.

Euthanasia, adultery, but no Salvation

Sideways got one for drunken adultery and lying. Million Dollar Baby got one for euthanasia. But the most successful, most powerful, most important, most beautiful movie of the year got nothing. The Passion of the Christ ... skunked by the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences. That must be it; all science, no soul.

The solid gold consolation prize is, of course, Michael Moore's equally obvious but much more deserved skunking.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Ricky Martin: Exploited Child Savior

In an earlier post, I said there were two steps to stopping the practice of selling girls into sexual slavery: Never accept it, and even though the problem is huge, start doing something.

Ricky Martin -- you know, Living the Vida Loca, has been doing just that. He stopped singing a couple years ago to dedicate himself to saving these kids, and has saved 150 so far. He's hoping to build 600 shelters in some of the most impacted countries, and in tsunami-hit countries as well. (Hat tip to my wife, who led me to Oprah, who led me to Ricky.)

His foundation, People for Children, has a Web site that is very rich in information about the extent and heartbreak of this most tragic human condition, provided by the US State Department. Click on the "Information" link, then on "Trafficking in Person Report by Country" link and just check out a few of the countries listed. You'll be horrified.

For example, the "People's Paradise" of Cuba is anything but:
Cuba is a country of internal trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Minors are victimized in sexual exploitation connected to the state-run tourism industry. Despite occasional measures by the Government of Cuba to crack down on prostitution, state-controlled tourism establishments and independent operators facilitate and even encourage the sexual exploitation of minors by foreign tourists.
The snobby French have much to be proud of:
France is a destination country for victims, primarily women, trafficked from Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union for the purposes of prostitution and domestic servitude. French police estimate that 90of the 15,000 prostitutes working in France are trafficking victims, and that 3,000 to 8,000 children are forced into prostitution and labor, including begging.
And Cambodia, which I've been writing about lately:
Cambodia is a source and destination country for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Cambodian men, women, and children who cross into Thailand, often as illegal migrants, are forced into labor or prostitution by traffickers. Cambodian children are trafficked into Vietnam and forced to work as street beggars. Vietnamese women and girls are trafficked into Cambodia for prostitution. Cambodian women and children are trafficked internally for sexual exploitation.
But that's just three. Dozens of countries are listed. There's also the opportunity to make donations.

America: Divided by Jerks

P.J. O'Rouke is the funniest writer honing words today, and his sharp knife cuts close to the bone.

His "An Alternative Inaugural Address" in the 1/24 Weekly Standard posits a simple and oh-so-justifiable position:
MY FELLOW AMERICANS, I had intended to reach out to all of you and bring a divided nation together. But I changed my mind. America isn't divided by political ethos or ethnic origin. America isn't divided by region or religion. America is divided by jerks. Who wants to bring a bunch of jerks together with the rest of us? Let them stew in Berkeley, Boston, and Ann Arbor.
But this isn't a column about politics; no, it's about something much more important:

We are all sinners. But jerks revel in their sins. You can tell by their reaction to the Ten Commandments. Post those Ten Commandments in a courthouse or a statehouse, in a public school or a public park, and the jerks go crazy. Why is that? Christians believe in the Ten Commandments. So do Muslims. Jews, too, obviously. Show the Ten Commandments to Hindus, Buddhists, Confucians, or to people with just good will and common sense and nobody says, "Whoa! That's all wrong!"

But jerks take issue with every one of the Ten Commandments.
And that's just the beginning. I've been reading this guy for so long ... I sure wish some of his genius would start rubbing off.

Don't Tell Incredible Daughter #2

About a year ago, Incredible Daughter #2 made a list of life goals that both terrified me and warmed my heart. Oh, and it also made me laugh -- some of the juxtapositions are amazing. I came across it in the garage over the weekend and it is such a wonderful look into the heart and mind of a teenage girl that I'm sharing it with you:
  1. Learn how to surf
  2. Skydive
  3. Bungie jump
  4. Take a road trip around the US
  5. Get married
  6. Get a tattoo
  7. Go to Europe
  8. Sing in a jazz club
  9. Buy a house all by myself
  10. Build a tree house
  11. Go on a missions trip to Mexico
  12. Help someone find God
  13. Prom Queen or Winter Formal/Homecoming Queen/Princess
  14. Be in a play (lead role or close to it)
  15. Get a toned body
  16. Scuba dive/snorkel
  17. Learn to fly
  18. Get my drivers license
  19. Set a world record
  20. Help someone I hate
  21. Work with needy children
  22. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  23. Get a job
  24. Be an esthetician
  25. Protest
  26. Vegetarian/vegan for a month
  27. 2 places at once
  28. Graduate high school
  29. Live with Aubrey
  30. Live in Japan
  31. Be in a movie
  32. Become a model
  33. Save the rainforest
  34. Donate $1,000+ to breast cancer research
  35. Get a daring haircut/style
  36. Cheerleader
  37. Date a boy in a band
  38. Have a song written about me
  39. Start a trend
  40. Make up with a hated enemy
  41. Join the Peace Corps
  42. Meet someone famous
  43. Go to my 10-year high school reunion
  44. Get plastic surgery
  45. Have kids
  46. Get a Brazilian bikini wax
  47. Change someone's life
  48. Be in a music video
  49. Witness a miracle
  50. Buy a car
  51. Have blonde hair
  52. Get a colonic
  53. Pierce my tongue
  54. Have a star named after me
  55. Learn to play guitar
  56. Voice lessons
  57. Learn to play piano
  58. Get a 3.4 - 4.0 GPA
  59. Piercing license
  60. Donate my hair to Locks of Love
  61. Tell someone off

That Lucid Freedom Thing

Contrast Barbara Boxer's confusion about freedom (post below) with WSJ Opinion Journal's James Taranto's clarity:
When President Bush cited the Koran in his speech, he wasn't engaging in a historical, feel-good multiculturalism. He was delivering a message to civilized Muslims everywhere: You need not forsake your religion to live in freedom. If instead we were to assume, as Zarqawi does, that democracy and liberty are the exclusive province of Jews, Christians and other "infidels," we would thereby condemn the Muslim world to unending tyranny--and ourselves to unending terror.
That's the last paragraph of a long and important essay on President Bush's speech and the concept of Americanism. It's well worth reading in its entirety.

That Confusing Freedom Thing

On Frank Pastore's show today, he referenced a Barbara Boxer/Wolfe Blitzer interview that apparently is not yet posted at CNN. In it, after praising the speech as Bush's best ever, Boxer said (paraphrasing here):
He said that in order for us to protect our freedom, we have to be concerned about what is going on in other countries. I'm not buying it. America is strong, it has a Constitution, wah, wah, wah ...
King George IV? Oh, he's over there, so we don't have to worry about him. Kaiser Wilhelm? Oh, he's over there, so we don't have to worry about him. Hitler? Oh he's over there, so we don't have to worry about him. Osama bin Laden? Oh, he's over there, so we don't have to worry about him.

And some are rumor-mongering that she's positioning herself for a presidential race!

Good News and Bad From Iraq

From Friends of Democracy in Iraq:

Good News:
Karbala -- People at coffee shops, cars and in the streets anxiously praising this list or that or mentioning negative characteristic for this candidate or that. .... Mr. Jabir Al-Tarafi, Election Civil Alliance member, ... said that the election is considered as putting the first brick in Iraq's new future.

And Bad:
The security situation in Kirkuk is generally stable meanwhile there is a conflict in the political environment of Kirkuk in which most of the Turkmen parties and the Arab parties have threatened to withdraw from the elections ...
The post goes on to say that two parties in Kirkuk are upset that voter registration time was curtailed earlier than they wished, and the spokesperson of one of the parties said that unless the problem is solved, "it will lead to a civil war."

Read It and Share It.

A must-read post at Hedgehog from an officer in Iraq who's hard at work getting the election set up, and much in need of prayer.

The Death of Compromise?

Every student of American history knows the importance of compromise at pivotal points in our nation's history. Now a report from Public Agenda is showing that the chance for compromise on key issues is diminishing.

William Raspberry bases his most recent column on the findings, sumarizing them as:

Take this item: Even elected officials who are deeply religious sometimes have to make compromises and set their convictions aside to get results while in government.

The percentage of Americans agreeing with that statement fell 10 points -- to 74 percent -- from 2000 to the time of the Public Agenda survey, just before the 2004 elections. Those who never go to religious services favored compromise by 82 percent (down slightly from 85 percent four years ago). But for evangelicals and weekly service-goers, the support for compromise was down to 63 percent. This represents a decline in just four years of 16 points for evangelicals and 19 points for regular worshipers.

On specific issues: The willingness to support compromise among weekly service-goers (numbers for the general public are in parentheses) was down 19 points since 2000 (-six) on abortion, minus 18 points (-six) on gay rights and down 10 points (-five) on the death penalty. The pattern for Catholics was close to that of all respondents who regularly attend church.

Raspberry thinks there's room for compromise even on issues like abortion and how our elected officials should vote about it. Look, he says, you can say it's in the Ten Commandments, but no one's going to arrest me and throw me in jail for making a graven image.

Good point. I'm for compromise on abortion if "compromise" can mean slowly whittling away at the worst parts of the law -- parental non-notification, partial birth, etc. But once that's accomplished, for me "compromise" will mean working to whittle away the next most offensive part. And that's really no compromise at all, is it?

Dems Crashing in Sacramento

Rumors are flurrying in Sacramento that Dem Secretary of State Kevin Kelly may resign "rather than answer all the allegations he's facing in multiple investigations," says the Sacramento Bee's lead story today.

Excuse me, but since when does resigning allow someone to walk away from charges that they are corrupt misusers of public funds?

Also today, the LATimes got around to reporting that charges that may be filed against the Dem's new Senate leader, Don Perata. The Perata story, which has been making the rounds since late last year, is a sticky one, with allegations that Perata and his family members were feeding at the public trough, and cross-allegations that all the charges are the dreamed-up conjecture of a jilted lover. Complicating matters is the fact that the jilted lover has since died.

The LAT focused on the dead lover ... perhaps bowing to early suggestions that it get more gossipy ... or perhaps because focusing on the Dem Senate leader is just too painful for the Libs at One Times Square. All we know is that the FBI is investigating, and they're not talking.

This messy stuff is the bedrock on which Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer stand. They'd better wear shoes with no-slip soles.

Ramsey Clark on Hussein Defense

Ramsey Clark explains "Why I'm Willing to Defend Hussein" in an LATimes op/ed today. He should thank God every day when he wakes that he lives in a country that doesn't shoot idiots on sight.

Two key paragraphs:
International law requires that every criminal court be competent, independent and impartial. The Iraqi Special Tribunal lacks all of these essential qualities. It was illegitimate in its conception — the creation of an illegal occupying power that demonized Saddam Hussein and destroyed the government it now intends to condemn by law.
Finally, any court that considers criminal charges against Saddam Hussein must have the power and the mandate to consider charges against leaders and military personnel of the U.S., Britain and the other nations that participated in the aggression against Iraq, if equal justice under law is to have meaning.
Saying that we demonized Hussein is like saying we demonized Satan. His record is clear for all to see: expansionist wars that devastated countries, killing hundreds of thousands of his own, letting people starve while he plundered oil-for-food monies, and on and on. Yet to Clark and the mindset he represents so perfectly, it is we who are the demonizers.

In his mind, the "occupation" is somehow illegal, even though the UN sanctioned the use of force, and even though the interim government of Iraq welcomes it. What, Ramsey, made Hussein''s government legitimate? Democratic elections? I don't think so. His government existed on illigitimacy, and when free elections take place in Iraq next Saturday, Clark's arguments will be even more hollow than they are today.

The real point of Clark's representation of Hussein has nothing to do with the noble rules of law he mentions -- which I for one have no problem with; give him a good defense, for what it's worth -- but has everything to do with vilifying his country. He asks for criminal charges against liberators, protectors and Democracy-spreaders for what? For liberating, protecting and spreading Democracy; a big crime in Ramsey Clark's sick mind.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Chilling (The Old Meaning)

From Thomas Friedman's very interesting report from Paris in today's NYT:

Both [teenage Arab/French] girls I interviewed wore veils and one also wore a full Afghan-like head-to-toe covering; one was of Egyptian parents, the other of Tunisian parents, but both were born and raised in France. What did I learn from them? That they got all their news from Al Jazeera TV, because they did not believe French TV, that the person they admired most in the world was Osama bin Laden, because he was defending Islam, that suicide "martyrdom" was justified because there was no greater glory than dying in defense of Islam, that they saw themselves as Muslims first and French citizens last, and that all their friends felt pretty much the same.

We were not in Kabul. We were standing outside their French public high school - a short ride from the Eiffel Tower.

What's This Got To Do With Torture?

The LATimes ran about 50 inches of not entirely awful copy on the struggle to define torture. It seems to me that if the word "torture" hadn't been misapplied to the prisoner embarassment and harassment that went on at Abu Grhaib, we wouldn't have had to endure Boxer, Kennedy et. al. at the Gonzales and Rice hearings. Plus, we'd probably be gaining better intelligence, and we wouln't have to wade through 50 inches of LATimes-speak on the subject.

Two take-aways from the article:

First, the Administration points are more solid. Most Americans agree that it's important to get information out of these creeps and most also trust our troops not to be Saddam-Masochistic in the process.

Second, the media is biased. Surprise. How else can you explain the inclusion of the following paragraph quoting a group whose home page is splashed with anti-Gonzales content, without providing any additional clarifying information?

Human Rights First, a New York group, said more than 30 detainees had died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, although not all under the control of intelligence officers or as a result of interrogation.

That's it. It just sits there like a stink bomb, providing no relevant facts, and the LAT doesn't help a whit, leaving unanswered all the obvious questions: Did any actually die as a result of interrogation? Did they die of injuries received in combat? At the hands of other prisoners? Old age? The croup?

There is more to be gained by looking at who was quoted here -- the sort of extreme Lefty group MSM is so attracted to -- than what they actually said.

Fox Takes On UN Sex Scandal

Fox News' John Kasich was saying all the right things about the Congo/UN sex scandal on Heartland yesterday. His guest was Chrish Smith (R/NJ), who was promising action from his International Relations Committee.

"We're going to prepare an annual report," Smith said.

"We don't need an annual report!" Kasich cut him off. "We need action!"

Smith proceeded to lay out a legislative agenda that would sanction countries that don't prosecute their offending UN peacekeepers. "Prosecute them, or we'll cut funds," Smith said.

So once again, the UN is not cleaning its house and we find ourselves having to do the dirty work for them.

Your Most Important Link

The Iraqi election is a week away. Here's the blog to log onto for the next week, and probably ongoing thereafter, Friends of Democracy, Iraqi Election News (with a major hat tip to Instupudit).

Included in Friends of Democracy's current posts is this, which, while we may not like the term "invaders" much, makes it clear how important this election is to the safe return of our troops.
At Al Watan Free Domocracy Party (list no. 226), we met Mr. Haitham Al-Husseini candidate of the list, who said The elections are the only exit for getting rid of the invaders, in spite the election process needs a safe environment and the situation is not ideal for such kind of process but that doesn't mean that the elections is another solution if we wanted to get out of this crises, and if we don't want to give terrorism any chance to destroy the election process and keep Iraq unstable then we have to go on with it without any delay." Mr. Hussein also added that the elections will solve all the problems we are suffering from now through an elected government by the Iraqi people, this government will help in making the situation more stable, consequently it will then limit the invaders troops motion inside our country and we also will be able to end all the killings done by those terrorists.
He sees them as terrorists, not insurgents. On that score, I like his terminology.

Freedom and Despots

Some on the Left have gone so far in their Bush hatred that they are attacking the concept that all people want to be free.

One question: Can anyone think of any despot that ever restricted his own freedoms?

No. Anyone with the power to choose chooses freedom.

Abortion, AIDS, Africa and the Media

One of the great moral battles of our time is abortion. The other is AIDS.

With the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Stacy at Media Soul (hat tip Okie on the Lam) wrote about her experience with Operation Rescue and shared with her her readers a song, 4,000 lives, which includes this line:

The promiscuity in our land
Has left tons of blood on our hands

With abortion, the core cause of this "tons of blood" is a lack of respect for morality; specifically, a lack of respect for the sanctity of a life God created. AIDS' root is also in a lack of respect for morality. We in the West think of is a lack of respect for God's plan for sexuality. But in Africa, it is a lack of respect for God's New Testament plan for the relationship between men and women.

Today's LATimes -- which is covering Africa with depth and continuity, I have to say -- shared with its readers the story of AIDS in Swaziland.

Swaziland has the highest AIDS rate in Africa, and therefore the world: 38% of its population is infected with the HIV virus or has AIDS. The LAT places the blame:

It is almost impossible here for a woman to legally grow up. She goes from being her father's child to her husband's child. If he dies of AIDS, she becomes his parents' child, and as a minor she is not seen as the guardian of her own children. She cannot sue or own property and is rarely granted a court hearing. Swaziland's ancient customary law forms a confusing second arm to the legal system, and a woman needs a man to access those structures.

UNICEF representative Alan Brody spent the last five years in Swaziland trying to figure out why the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, spread so quickly. He concluded that a major reason was men's dominance of women and their use of laws, religions and customs to justify it.

The reference to religion at the end of the paragraph above is the only reference to religion in the story. As I read it, and wondered how a society could allow the sorts of rape and degredation mentioned in the story, I thought the reporter missed the point. Where is religion in this story?

I thought research would show Swaziland to be animist in its primary belief system, and that it had not been exposed to Christ's teachings, which liberated women from the kind of society described above. What I found was much worse.

According to State Department figures, the dominant religion in Swaziland is Zionism (40% of the population), a blend of Christianity and indigenous animalist/ancestral worship, with Roman Catholic, Christians, Mormons and Jews making up 59% and Muslims making up just 1%.

Those figures shocked me, so I dug deeper and found a much better story than the LATimes piece. It ran in early December on Inter Press Service News Agency and contained the following deeper explanation of the tie between Swaziland's religion and its aids crisis:

Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) has noted that men accused in criminal cases of rape and incest continue to defend themselves by saying they are following ‘'God's way'', as one defendant testified, to do with women as they like.

‘'Incest and sexual abuse are key contributors to the spread of AIDS in Swaziland,'' asserts Alan Brody, national representative for the United Nation's children's welfare organisation UNICEF.

It seems that Zionism is not a Christian religion at all, but Christian trappings masking an old religion. It hasn't succeeded in reforming ancient views about women, a process Jesus started when he spoke to the Samarian woman at the well, honored his mother, took a prostitute into his care, and healed the woman who touched his robe. Paul carried it on, recognizing the great importance of women in the church and in marriage.

This blending of Christianity and very non-Christian beliefs will make it much harder for those with ministries to Swaziland -- whether they're Christian or secular -- to make headway. We do indeed fight a cunning enemy.