Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Chandler's Legacy

I loved this quote in AP's obit on Otis Chandler, discussing his early efforts to expand the paper:
The paper then was considered parochial and partisan, a mouth-piece for conservative political causes. Almost immediately, Chandler set out to make the paper one of the country's best. He moved it toward the political center ....
The little joke: A conservative paper can't be great, but a "center" paper can. The big joke: The LATimes is a "center" paper.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Aloha Blogging Schedule

We'll be leaving for the airport shortly and flying all night back to the mainland. We arrive in SoCal at 5 a.m., when the family will return home and I'll soldier on to the Bay Area for an all-day meeting. What a way to end a vacation!

So expect light blogging until the internet and I have a chance to hook up again.

He Wants To Die Healthy

Saddam Hussein has ended an 11-day hunger strike
for "health reasons", his chief lawyer has said. (BBC)

It would have been so nice of him to just waste away ....

Hearings Aren't Helping Ports Deal

Coast Guard concerns about the Dubai Ports World deal surfaced at the outset of the new 45-day review period:

"There are many intelligence gaps, concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations, that precludes an overall threat assessment" of the potential merger, an unclassified Coast Guard intelligence assessment said.

"The breadth of the intelligence gaps also infer potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities," said the half-page assessment. Officials said it was an unclassified excerpt from a larger document.

In a statement, the Coast Guard said the concerns reflected in the excerpt ultimately were addressed and that other U.S. intelligence agencies answered the questions raised. (source)

Since the Coast Guard has front line security responsibility for ports, their concerns carry weight -- and they really show the sorry state of port security as much as they raise concerns about the Dubai deal.

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NYT Gets It Right On Nigeria

Today's lead NYTimes editorial gets it right on Nigeria: Why Nigeria is important to us, and not just because of oil, and why we need to help straighten things out there.

See also:
The First Modern Oil War?
Oil Wars, Part II

Criminals, Despots And Democracy

Jackson Diehl's WaPo column today unravels the complexities of the Russia-Ukraine gas crisis.

Remember that story? Vague, complicated, "over there," we generally missed the 400% increase Putin wanted to charge for natural gas, Europe's feverish reaction, and a detente created by a new deal.

But that's not the story. The story, as Diehl lays it out, is one of Putin's continuing efforts to keep the Ukraine in the Russian orbit. A Euro-allied Ukraine with Democratic priniciples is such a threat to Putin's increasingly authoritarian state that he crafted a devil's deal:
Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko, and Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov had agreed to purchase Ukraine's gas through a Swiss trading company whose owners and beneficiaries are publicly unknown -- but are rumored to include senior officials and organized crime figures in both Russia and Ukraine. They granted this same shadowy company a 50 percent share in the business of delivering gas to Ukrainian consumers. They accepted a price deal on gas delivered to Ukraine lasting only a few months but guaranteed that rock-bottom rates charged by Ukraine for the storage and transit of Russian gas to the West would be frozen for 25 years.
It's such a nasty deal that it threatens to turn the Orange Revolution Red. Read the whole piece.

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RU For An Abortion Solution?

The morning after pill, RU-486. I always hated that name because I thought it might have been deliberately selected as a big joke. "86'ing" means dumping overboard. Are you for 86'ing your baby? Then take this pill.


Anyway, the debate that is taking place in state legislatures across the country serves as a model for a solution to the abortion issue. Here's WaPo on the story:

Filling a void left by the Food and Drug Administration's inability to decide whether to make the "morning-after" pill available without a prescription, nearly every state is or soon will be wrestling with legislation that would expand or restrict access to the drug.

More than 60 bills have been filed in state legislatures already this year, and that follows an already busy 2005 session on emergency contraception. The resulting tug of war is creating an availability map for the pill that looks increasingly similar to the map of "red states" and "blue states" in the past two presidential elections -- with increased access in the blue states and greater restrictions in the red ones.

Just take out "morning after pill" and substitue "abortion," and we'd have an abortion situation that could be dealt with. The courts have pushed abortion to a federal issue by deciding state law cases that set national precedents. Unfortunately, that's probably the next step with these RU-486 laws -- litigation and precedents.

How much better if the federal judiciary just left this to the states!

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Doin' The Dubai Stall

The proposal by Dubai Ports World to submit to a further, deeper 45-day review may solve the political issues raised by DP World's effort to operate American ports, but it doesn't solve the structural issues.

Here I go again, quoting in agreement a senator whose policies and pronouncements I generally find appalling, Chuckie Schumer:
"If, after the 45-day investigation, it's kept secret, it's given to the president, who after all has come out for this deal already, I don't think that's going to assure the American people." (source)
The new investigation, like the old, will be conducted by CFIUS, which exists to expand trade through the approval of deals that generally involve competitive issues the parties need to keep secret. You don't want your competitor sitting in the front row of CFIUS hearings where the price and terms of your big deal are being discussed.

That's fine for the sale of widgets in a pre-9/11 world, but it doesn't work on deals like this in times like these. A new process is needed, and 45 days are not enough to develop that process. The right outcome of this blow-up is that we fix CFIUS.

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Sunset Beach At Sunset

We got to Sunset Beach ... when else? ... at sunset. Sorry for the graininess of the photo, but it took some work to lighten this up.

The waves were "only" about 10 feet, about a third of their famous height. Still, it was a beautiful beach, and our drive two-thirds of the way around Oahu was the sort of experience that burns in beautiful, life-long memories.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

End Of The Line For Oil Bombers

Two of the men at the top of Saudi Arabia's al Qaeda "wanted list" were among the five terrorists turned into Swiss cheese by Saudi paramilitary forces. Reuters:
Saudi forces on Monday killed about five suspected militants believed to be linked to an al Qaeda attack on the world's biggest oil processing plant, security sources said.

A firefight ensued at dawn after security forces besieged the men, who were hiding in a villa in the affluent al-Hamra district of east Riyadh where several Western residential compounds are located.

Tough times for al Qaeda, eh? Despite having 4400 pounds of explosives at the gate of the world's largest oil refinery, they accomplished no damage, and within days, everyone involved in the attack is dead. Good stuff.

hat-tip Breitbart
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Howling About "Wolves"

Valley of the Wolves, the viruently anti-American and anti-Semitic Turkish film, is playing to cheering crowds of Muslims in Germany. The Telegraph reports:

The production went on general release in Germany a fortnight ago and has had full houses ever since. More than 130,000 people, most of them young Muslims, saw the film in the first five days of its opening. At a packed cinema in a largely Turkish immigrant district of Berlin last week, Valley of the Wolves was being watched almost exclusively by young Turkish men. They clapped furiously when the Turkish hero of the film was shown blowing up a building occupied by the United States military commander in northern Iraq.

In the closing sequence, the hero is shown plunging a dagger into the heart of a US commander called Sam, played by Billy Zane. The audience responded by standing up and chanting "Allah is great!"

It's tough to take that sort of reaction to a film in which an actor playing a Jewish doctor cuts out organs from Muslim prisoners and American soldiers brutalize innocent civilians. We want to be seen as the good guys, and it's clear that we're very often not seen that way.

We're not in Iraq because we want to be loved; we're there to change the intolerable status quo of the Middle East, but seeing Valley of the Wolves cheered takes all the inspiration out of internationalism.

Meanwhile, Germany's leadership is struggling with how to react to the movie, given its concern about anti-Semitism. Kenan Kolat, a leader of Germany's Turkish community provided the only viable answer:
"If it is withdrawn, it will raise levels of identification with the film. A democracy must be able to endure films that it doesn't approve of."
Kolat, to his credit, was sharply critical about Imams urging Kartoonistan violence, but his voice is outnumbered by the shriller voices of Islam. The Muslim punks cheering Valley of the Wolves in a country that must allow such filth to be showed are probably the same ones who want Danish newspapers to be closed down for running cartoons they pretend offense at.

LAT Blasts Boxer On Ports

I'm beginning to like the Dubai ports deal more and more -- after all, it got the LA Times to lead off it's high-profile Sunday editorial page with a full-barrel blast at California's oh-so-junior senator, Babs Boxer.

The LAT position is interesting. While it routinely slams new development, not caring that it is attacking the state's number one business in terms of sales (that would be real estate), here the paper recognizes the importance of international trade to the state, and the importance of global management to the ports:
Memo to Boxer: 13 of the 14 container terminals at the ports of L.A. and Long Beach, the biggest port complex in the U.S., are run by foreign-owned companies.
How many of those are run by Islamic countries -- even relatively enlightened ones like UAE -- the Times leaves unclear.

The Times then harkens back to the 1998 COSCO deal, when China's international trade company wanted to move from its existing LA berths to a closed naval station nearby. Clinton supported the deal, Boxer loudly supported the deal, the public hated the deal, and it died.

Now that a Republican is, however clumsily, promoting a similarly controversial dock deal, Babs is a ranting anti-internationalist. She called last week for legislation preventing any foreign firm, state-owned or not, from buying port operators, i.e., the Clinton-Menendez bill. When she found out that nearly all LA ports were foreign-operated, she "told The Times that she meant such deals should get greater scrutiny, not be banned."

Why so suddenly anti-global? It could be that things have changed since 9/11. They have, and that's why so many of us on the right were shocked by the Dubai docks deal. LAT posits a more probable explanation for Babs' behavior, however:
One possible explanation is that the Cosco deal was heavily backed by a Democratic administration, while the Dubai Ports World deal is heavily backed by a Republican administration. But that would mean Boxer is working against the interests of her state in order to score cheap political points. She would never do such a thing. Would she?

A Little Anti-Semitism

In a show of what's right with the French Republic, tens of thousands marched in Paris this morning to honor the violent death of a young Jew, Ilan Halimi, and make a plea for the elimination of anti-Semitism.

Halimi was a young man of 23 when he was kidnapped by a gang after being enticed by a young woman. Three weeks later, he was found naked with horrific burn and stab injuries. He died on the way to the hospital.

The suspected gang leader, who has been arrested, apparently picked Halimi because he was a Jew, and therefore presumed to be rich. After all, they run all the banks, right?

A leading French Jew said at the demonstrations, "It's important for French society to realise that little anti-Semitic and racist prejudices can have terrible consequences."

True indeed, but let's go farther: It is important for Islamic society to realize that rampant, virulent anti-Semitism can have even more terrible consequences, like having presidents of important nations pledging to "wipe Israel off the map." The holy men of Islam continue to allow anti-Semitism to flourish in their countries, despite the teachings of the Koran -- which they hold so dear in other cases.

Where is the brave and forceful Muslim who will lead this faith to reform?

Note: Agence France Presse reports: "Although the gang allegedly includes whites, blacks and Arabs, media attention has focused on its Muslim members, stoking animosity between members of France's 500,000-strong Jewish community and the five-million-strong Muslim population."

Source and photo credit: BBC
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A Wedding In Our Future?

Incredible Daughter #1, who stands just 5-foot-2, catches the bouquet at my nephew's wedding. Look at the reach of that girl! Perhaps a basketball scholarship is in the offing!

Meanwhile, Dad responds with loving cheer at the thought of this 20-year-old first-born wedding anytime soon.

We were so impressed with Tracey's family, my brother's big circle of friends, and Tassho and Tracey's friends. Romeo, Tassho's best man, didn't have a drink all through dinner, so he could toast Tassho with style. I told him afterwards that it showed great respect for his friend, and he bear hugged me with thanks.

We saw the wonder of deeply rooted families and friends tonight, and it was good.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

How Do We Teach Free Speech?

In February, this exchange occurred between reporter Oliver Feingold and Ken "Red Ken" Livingstone, the mayor of London, after Feingold asked the mayor a question:

Livingstone: "What did you do [before you were a reporter]? Were you a German war criminal?"

Finegold: "No, I'm Jewish. I wasn't a German war criminal. I'm actually quite offended by that."

Livingstone: "Well you might be, but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard. You're just doing it 'cause you're paid to, aren't you?"

For this exchange, and for not apologizing for it, Livingstone on Friday was suspended from office by a civil service tribunal for four weeks, reports the Jerusalem Post.

What are Muslims to make of this? Are we for free speech in the West or against it? Is it OK to publish cartoons of Mohammed that might offend, but not OK to say things about Jews that might offend?

Or do we really not know what we believe in when it comes to free speech? Clearly, as they've shown time and time again, British civil service boards have no clue. Livingstone's a bull-headed idiot, but he has a right to say bullheadedly idiotic things.

Dubai Deal: Food For Thought

The Dubai deal is at one level, a very important level, an emotional deal, a gut-reaction deal. That's certainly how it hit me.

The only way opinion can change on a matter like this is through new information. That presupposes (1) there will be new information, (2) it won't be countered by new information from the other side, and (3) people will be exposed to and understand the information.

New information is coming out on the Dubail deal. Particularly influential to the process of changing opinon is information based on personal experience. Dennis Lormel at Counterterrorism Blog has it. He says of the United Arab Emirates:
When I was the Chief of the Terrorist Financing Operations Section (TFOS) at the FBI, we maintained direct dealings with the UAE concerning numerous issues. In particular, the UAE Central Bank provided considerable support and was consistently receptive and responsive to requests for information.

As the Dubai Ports World story gained momentum, reports indicated that two 9/11 hijackers came from the UAE and bank accounts supporting 9/11 were maintained in the UAE. It should be noted that the UAE Central Bank provided important information concerning these accounts. In addition, they provided significant account information for other matters pursued by TFOS and companion agencies. In one instance, they facilitated the apprehension of an important TFOS subject.

Actions such as this clearly demonstrate how important an ally the UAE is and the contribution they’ve made to our war on terrorism. While rightfully showing concern about port security, we should not be irresponsible in our rush to judgment. After all is said and done, the UAE is an important ally.
But then there's information like this, from AP:

WASHINGTON - The Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company's taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports. It was the lone protest among members of the government committee that eventually approved the deal without dissent.

The department's early objections were settled later in the government's review of the $6.8 billion deal after Dubai-owned DP World agreed to a series of security restrictions. ...

Stewart Baker, a senior Homeland Security official, said he was the sole representative on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States who objected to the ports deal. Baker said he later changed his vote after DP World agreed to the security conditions. Other officials confirmed Baker's account.

"We were not prepared to sign off on the deal without the successful negotiation of the assurances," Baker told the AP.

Was Baker strong-armed politically, or were his concerns genuinely addressed? As more is learned about the deal, the indications are more that his concerns were, or are being, addressed.

That's fine and dandy, but in the end, this remains an example of public opinion that is emotion-driven. And Confederate Yankee shows us the numbers:
Just 17% of Americans believe Dubai Ports World should be allowed to purchase operating rights to several U.S. ports. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 64% disagree and believe the sale should not be allowed.
In my experience, numbers that bad stay that bad. You just can't move the needle that far unless you've got a lot of time to do it, and a communicating wizard to do the talking.

There is no time. Active campaigning for the 2006 election starts in three months. There is no wizard. We've learned, painfully, that W is no Great Communicator.

The only solution I see is the one I proposed yesterday: Buy time and fix the system.

hat-tip: memeorandum
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Friday, February 24, 2006

Gotta Love It

Seen at a pro-Denmark rally at the Danish embassy in Washington, DC today was this sign, made out of Legos. Wonderful creativity -- and so much easier than carving the letters out of Havarti cheese.

hat-tip and more photos: Vodka Pundit
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A. Pearce, Jr.

There among the 1,177 names engraved in white marble at the Arizona Memorial was A. Pearce, Jr. Was he a relative? I've never heard of him, but my father has never been forthcoming on family history or World War II, in which he served on the sub SNN Trutta.

Direct family or not, A. Pearce, Jr. and all 1,177 of the men who died when a Japanese armor-piercing bomb detonated its forward ammunition magazine are our brothers -- our heroic brothers who were there when their country called, knowing we were on the verge of war and ready to serve.

Their tears, Navy lore now tells us, bubble to the surface as oil, at a rate of about two quarts a day. Do you see the Founding Fathers, the flag and the Love of Christ in this photo of those tears? I do.

God bless them, and our troops who today have answered the same call.

For My Cold-Climate Readers

This photo is so tropical, you can almost scratch-n-sniff the coconut-scented suntan lotion. It was taken yesterday afternoon on Oahu's much less developed West side.

Oil Wars, Part II

In a much more significant development in oil wars than the recent Nigeria skirmishes, Islamofascist suicide squads have attacked the world's largest oil processing facility, in Saudi Arabia.

Fortunately, they fell short of the Abqaiq facility, going to Hell in a blaze of glorious fire, when the car-bomb they were speeding toward the facility in was fired upon and exploded.

Even the failed attack spiked oil prices by $1.50, an indication of the soundness of the terrorists' strategy.

Focus On CFIUS, Not Dubai

It's a good thing Pres. Bush has bought a little time on the Dubai docks issue because even lefties like MoxieGrrrl are getting it right:
Telling people not to be concerned about security runs contrary to everything this administration has been saying since 9/11. From the beginning, it's been "stay aware of your surroundings," "report anything suspicious" (hell, I even called the cops when I found myself sharing the highway with a non-descript grey van that didn't have license plates), and "watch the terror alerts" (ooh the pretty colors!).

Why should we take them at their word that this is all on the up-and-up? Why should we trust that this doesn't impact our national security?
Of course, within a couple words of that she gets into routine Bush oil interests, family ties, selling out America for oil malarky, but I'm nodding my head though these two grafs (other than that "up and up" line -- I think its political stupidity, not a slimey deal).

The NYT reports (top link in this post) that the administration is saying because the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has passed it, nothing can be done.

Something can be done. The President has full discretion under CFIUS to protect the national security. And here's how he should do it: Change the focus from the Dubai deal to CFIUS, because in this case, it appears CFIUS endangers the national security.

The president should:
  1. Put the Dubai deal on hold pending an investigation of the CFIUS process.
  2. Appoint a special committee, like the 9/11 committee, to review this CFIUS process and other recent questionable processes, like China's attempted acquisition of Unocal and its earlier acquisition of port operations in LA.
  3. Use that committee's recommendations to change CFIUS from a trade-driven committee to a security-driven committee.
  4. Make the CFIUS process more public. As I read the regs, it's not subject to the Administrative Procedures Act, which requires public notice and comment. It should be.
And then, if -- and only if -- the Dubai deal can pass the review of a new and improved CFIUS, let the deal go through.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Greens Launch Cal. Gov. Campaign

Peter Camejo, two-time loser in races for California's governorship and one-time VEEP loser with Ralph Nader, will run a third time for governor, reports the Sac Bee.

Camejo doesn't think his chances are too good ... or he's committing to be a one-term governor: He said in his campaign kick-off press conference that this would be the last time he'd run for governor.

In a state approaching a critical crisis from undersized and over-used infrastructure, Camejo has made his central campaign theme opposition to the proposed multi-billion infrastructure bond now wending its way towards the ballot.

Why? Because California is still in hock up to its eyebrows and may not be able to afford it? No. Camejo has more paranoid reasons:
"I don't trust these Democrats and Republicans not to hand this money over to those companies as a boondoggle."
Has he not heard of the regulations covering the bidding and awarding of contracts? It's this distrust or misunderstanding of governmental basics that forever banishes the Greens from political relevance.


I've pulled an earlier post about Iraq, Iran and the mosque bombing. Blame it on vacation spaciness ... it was completely flawed. Thanks to Pat for bringing it to my somewhat too relaxed attention, and apologies to those of you who read it scratching your heads.

There was a grain of truth to it though ... what's going on in Iraq could become a much greater distraction for Iran, and a distracted Iran is a very, very good thing in these final days/months of its bombquest.

Witness the President of the asylum's comments today:

On Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the United States and Israel for the destruction of a Shiite shrine's golden dome in Iraq, saying it was the work of "defeated Zionists and occupiers."

Speaking to a crowd of thousands on a tour of southwestern Iran, the president referred to the destruction of the Askariya mosque dome in Samarra on Wednesday, which the Iraqi government has blamed on insurgents.

"They invade the shrine and bomb there because they oppose God and justice," Ahmadinejad said, referring to the U.S.-led multinational forces in Iraq. (source)

Ahmadinejad's rhetoric is turning off a significant part of the Iranian public. The conclusion of my erroneous post is still true:

An unfocused Mullatocracy in Iran gives the forces of freedom there an advantage. Let's hope Iraq stays calm, but if that proves too much too hope far, let's hope the Mullahs in Tehran step in their own mess and lose their tenuous grip on power.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Importance Of Watchfullness

This mist-shrouded concrete hut is a World War II observation post atop Diamond Head. Incredible Daughter #1 and I climbed there yesterday and learned a bit about the importance of protecting the homeland from ship-borne assaults.

The posts served a triangulation purpose. Observers at Diamond Head and observers on Mt. Tantalus would both pinpoint an incoming ship, and gunners at Ft. De Russey on Waikiki would triangulate, pinpoint the range, and fire.

It underscores the importance of knowing what's approaching our ports, even today. The UAE ports deal may have been scrubbed for security concerns (none to aggressively, it seems) -- but ask yourself this:

Would Jack Bauer let the UAE run our ports? I certainly don't think so.

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Today's Hawaii Photos

The old Pali Highway over the volcanic spine of Oahu is slowly returning to nature, as verdant growth covers aging asphalt.

After a couple rainy afternoons, our first tropical sunset.

Dems Glom Onto Dubai Issue

What a softball the administration has lobbed at the Dems, who are definitely desperate for a hit. As WSJ/Opinion Journal put it in a column defending the deal:
As for the Democrats, we suppose this is a two-fer: They have a rare opportunity to get to the right of the GOP on national security, and they can play to their union, anti-foreign investment base as well.
And that's exactly what they're doing:
“We should really test the resolve of the president [to use his veto power] on this one because what we’re really doing is securing the safety of our people.” Bob Menendez
There's a statement on Ted Kennedy's site that merits attention, since he knows a thing or two about large metalic objects in water:
"A veto isn't a solution, and I hope the President will reconsider and work with Congress to solve this problem. Four and a half years after 9/11, our ports are still extremely vulnerable. We can't risk contracting out our national security -- we need to get this right."
John Kerry must have read the same Mercury News article I read yesterday. Here's a part of his letter to Commerce Sec. Snow:
“As you know, the CSX rail corporation, where you previously served as chief executive officer, sold its port operations to DP in 2004. Moreover, the president’s nominee for administrator of the Maritime Administration, David Sanborn, was DP’s head of operations for Latin America while this transaction was being reviewed ...”
Hillary is co-sponoring the legislation to protect the ports, and with New York's ports on the table, that's a fine platform for her.

So, that leads us to this question, for which the administration is yet to provide an answer:

If the Commerce Dept. studied this matters from a financial point of view, and Homeland Security scrubbed the deal thoroughly to review security issues, then why, oh why, didn't someone with an ounce of political sense vette the deal?

hat-tips: memeorandum, Breitbart
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Hugo Buffs Up, Thanks To Russia

Hugo Chavez is arming Venezuela big time.

Moscow News reports the initial shipment of three Russian Mi-17 helicopters, right, has arrived in Venezuela, with 12 more to follow.

Also on its way to the nuttiest leader in the western hemisphere: 100,000 Kalishnikov rifles, plus Mi-35s and one Mi-26T helicopters.

Chavez has said Venezuela needs one million rifles to defend itself from a US invasion. More likely: Chavez needs one million rifles to arm various rebel groups throughout Central and South America.

This guy is getting more dangerous by the minute. Here's a bit more on his new playthings:

From FAS Military Analysis Network:
  • Mi-17: The MI-17 is a multirole helicopter used to resupply CLF guerrillas or insert PSOC detachments. It can also be very heavily armed with an extensive array or rockets, misslies and guns. It is often used to air assault infantry forces to attack the point of penetration, reinforce units in contact or disrupt counterattacks. Additional missions include; attack, direct air support, electronic warfare, airborne early warning, medevac, search and rescue, and minelaying.
  • The Mi-35 is the export version of the Mi-24, except it comes with a twin-barrel 25 mm gun. Mi-24, the first helicopter to enter service with the Russian Air Force as an assault transport and gunship .... Additional missions include direct air support, antitank, armed escort, and air to air combat. The helicopter was used extensively in the Afghanistan War, becoming the "signature" weapon of the conflict. The Mi-24 is a close counterpart to the American AH-64 Apache, but unlike this and other Western assault helicopters it is also capable of transporting up to eight troops. The Russians have deployed significant numbers of HINDs in Europe and have exported the HIND to many third world countries.
  • The Mi-26 is the largest lift helicopter in the world.
Dangerous playthings for a dangerous man.

Silver Leaves

Incredible Daughter #1 and I hiked in the rainforests off the Pali Highway today and found these amazing leaves, which turn bright silver.

The tree canopy was very high above and obscured by an in-between layer of green foliage, so we couldn't see if the leaves were silver on the trees, or if they changed after they hit the ground. But if they do change on the tree, could you imagine a tree in full color?

And they say money doesn't grow on trees!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Dubai And Brittain The Same?

I hate to just go on and on about the same topic, but this really set me off:
"I don't understand why it's OK for a British company to operate our ports but not a company from the Middle East when we've already determined security is not an issue."
That's our president talking about Dubai World Ports taking over several of our key ports.

I can think of a few differences, including: Britain is fighting on our side in the Global War on Terror. EAU provided financing and personnel for the 9/11 attacks. Symbolism matters.

That's three pretty good differences. The president better change his view, or be prepared to lose a big one just before the 2006 election -- a really, really stupid thing to do.

Mandatory Diamond Head Photo

Here's the mandatory Diamond Head shot, with Incredible Daughters 1 & 3. ID 1 is wearing a "flip the bird" T-shirt created by my nephew Tassho (aka Emirc, a Hawaiian hip hop artist). The T-shirts are becoming quite popular here ... the first thing he's made money on after years as a struggling musician. Go figure.

Gaffney On Port Deal

When it comes to matters of national security, Frank Gaffney's the answer to, "Who you gonna call?"

Writing today in WashTimes, Gaffney lays out a summary of what's wrong with the proposed UAE port operations acquisition from A to Z, including:
  • UAE's status as an Islamofascist mecca
  • The deal's financial underpinnings, that could allowing other Islamists entities to join in the fun
  • A really scary military connection -- shall we give control of tank shipments to the Islamists?
He sums up:
Call it a Harriet Meirs moment. Politics being the art of the possible, it is time to recognize the Dubai Ports World deal is neither strategically sensible nor politically doable. It is time to pull the plug, and to reform the secretive interagency CFIUS process that allowed this fiasco in the first place.
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Kiss Of Death On Dubai Deal

If you needed more convincing that the sale of US port operations to a UAE-owned company is a scary proposition, there's this:
President Bush is taking a battering from fellow Republicans ... over the administration's support for a decision that gives an Arab company control of some commercial operations at six major seaports ... but he got a boost Monday from an unlikely source, frequent critic and former president Jimmy Carter, who downplayed fears that the deal poses a risk.

''The overall threat to the United States and security, I don't think it exists,'' Carter said on CNN's The Situation Room. "I'm sure the president's done a good job with his subordinates to make sure this is not a threat.'' (source)

That from the man who let the Panama Canal go, opening the door to China's operation of port facilities at both the Atlantic and Pacific.

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MSM Tries To Politicize Port Deal

The San Jose Mercury News, showcasing its Bay Area liberalism, has dug up some connections between Dubai Ports Worldwide, the company seeking to acquire operations at five US ports, and the Bush Administration.

One "connection" is particularly dubious -- Commerce Sec. John Snow's former company was sold to DPW one year after his departure. The other, involving Bush's recent appointment to the top maritime position, is more direct -- he's a former DPW employee -- but the Merc News is barking up the wrong tree here.

Politicizing this story takes the focus off where it should be: national security. The story is whether there's a connection between DPW, its home country, the United Arab Emirates, and terror. We know UAE was home to two 9/11 terrorists, so it's worth investigating.

If the MercNews is going to growl about cronyism and corruption, give us connections thicker than gossamer. Show us your concern is for security, not for Bush-bashing.

Still, this deal stinks so bad that if Bush-bashing helps sink it, so be it.

hat-tip: memeorandum
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Monday, February 20, 2006

Botanical Break

Photos from the Pearce family outing to the botanical gardens in Honolulu:

Incredible Daughter #1 took this photo so her identity remains a mystery ...

The depth of diversity we saw just in this single botanological exhibition was astonishing.

There was more variety than should be needed in nature ... odd mixes of color, strange ways things grow, differentiation in methods of pro-creation. It speaks to a God who enjoys the act of creation.

And yet a tree was always a tree -- roots below, bark around, leaves above, speaking to a God who likes a certain order to things.

And that made it a particularly enjoyable afternoon.

Shut Up, Alberto!

Why is the Bush administration so right on the global terror threat and so wrong on the domestic terror threat? We throw out the Taliban, topple Saddam, cripple al Qaeda's finances -- but refuse to secure our borders and sell off our ports in New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia to Arab interests?! What's with that?

Here's Atty Gen Alberto Gonzales discussing the latter:
"Lots of considerations are weighed in connection with a recommendation, and the consensus was this was a transaction that should be approved. It was something that went through our normal process. It's one that takes into account matters of national security, takes into account concerns about port security. And for a variety of reasons, the consensus was that this was a transaction that should be approved."
What a crock. The process Gozales describes is not unlike the process the sale of Unocal to the Chinese would have gone through, had a public uproar not stopped it in its tracks. Its a Commerce Department review, more driven by trade issues. It should be a Homeland Security Department review.

That doesn't even give great comfort, given the way it's been run.

It's time for another public outrage -- and the fact that it takes public protest to undo a decision so obviously bad diminishes the GOP reputation as the national security party. That, and our safety, are too valuable to squander on stupid decisions like this.

Is Jail OK For Hate Speech?

Right-wing British historian David Irving was sentenced to three years in prison today, after pleading guilty to saying the Holocaust never occurred.

Irving fell afoul of a 1992 Austrian law that criminalizes the actions of "whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media."

As dispicable as Irving's beliefs are, how can a society that stands by the rights of media to print the Kartoonistan cartoons in the face of Islamic opposition throw a holocaust denier in prison? If Muslims get confused by this turn of events, who could blame them?

Yes, Irving's conviction justifies our criticism of their anti-Semitic antics, but it tells them our Sacred Cows are worth defending, but theirs aren't. And that's not free speech.

Sheesh. I feel like I'm making the ACLU's arguements. So be it, in this case.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

The World From Honolulu

Ahhhhh, it's nice to finally be sitting down. All the bags have found their way home to our home-away-from-home (and not too easily I might add), we're fed, we've seen Mom and her wonderful ex-diplomat husband Bill, who gave us the Sunday NYTimes. So some notes:
  • Rick from Holy Coast commented on my Aloha post to let me know he and his lovely wife will be in Kuai and is inviting us over ...
  • Sifted Truth found the new German cartoon that's offending Islam. You can see it over at Deep Keel.
  • The Boeing 757 icon for a changing table shows an icon-woman changing an icon-baby. What? Men don't change diapers? Anybody know a good class action attorney? I'm feeling decidedly victimized.
I read the OC Register at LAX this morning and found all the articles I'd blogged about 8 to 24 hours earlier. One article of note:

The Kartoonistan riots in Nigeria, the most violent to date and decidedly anti-Christian as most of the 19 fatalities are Christian, hit a country already on the edge of an oil war and wrestling none to well with its first cases of bird flu. If Africa needs a tinder box, this is it -- and it's happening in the country that is our fifth largest source of imported oil.

This 21st century is getting off to one tense start.


We're off to the airport in a few minutes for a family vacation through March 1st. Forecast: Scattered, sunny blogging.


Kartoonistan Editor Speaks

Clearly the most important collection of paragraphs in the media today is Flemming Rose's piece in the Washington Post. Rose is the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, the man who commissioned the Kartoonistan cartoons.

There really is no excerpting the piece; every paragraph is essential. Since most reading this have probably already read the piece, I'll pull one section that I thought particularly significant:
Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn't intend to. But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy.
Ta da.

As a Democracy, we cannot bend our knee to tyranny.

And for those of us who are Christians or Jews, we know that we cannot bend our knee in submission to any other faith.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

A Real Kumbaya Moment

Note to liberals who think if we just could reach out to Islam and terrorists and understand their grievances, all will be well: Read the sign.

h/t American Digest
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Challenge To Arab Port Ownership

"Outrageous, reckless and irresponsible," said Baltimore mayor Martin O'Malley of the the Bush administration's approval of the takeover of a Miami port operator by the United Arab Emerites.

He's right. Our ports should not be in the hands of the Chinese, as they are in Long Beach, or Arab states, as proposed in Miami. Continental Stevedoring & Terminals Inc., the target of the takeover, has filed a lawsuit to stop the sale, saying it was prohibited under its partnership agreement with a British firm, and that the sale "may endanger the national security of the United States."

It asked the court to block the takeover because it does not believe the company, Florida or the U.S. government can ensure he acquirer, Dubai Ports World, can comply with American security rules.

The Bush administration approved the sale, following in the dubious footsteps of the Clinton administration, which approved the Chinese purchase of rights to Long Beach.

If our presidents can't do something so fundamental as protect our ports of entry from countries that could become our enemies, then Congress or the courts need to protect us.

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Messages From The Mud

BBC broadcast an interview with a US Marine in Guinsaugan, site of the tragic mudslide in the Philippines. I believe he said his name was Capt. Burrell Palmer.

Palmer's news was hopeful -- cell phone text messages have been received from the site of a school.

Don't you just love that America is the kind of country that sends in the Marines to an incident like this?

God, Science And Faith

There are some interesting responses to the questions I posed regarding science and faith, inspired by the LATimes article on DNA and the Latter Day Saints. They're in the comments section to this post.

Iran Six Weeks From Nukes?

Michael Ledeen in National Review scoops two Iran news biggies: That Boss Mullah Ali Khamenei is dying, forcing an internal political struggle, and that (gulp) Iran will soon have its nuke:
Sometime in late November or early December (2005), Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gathered his top advisers for an overall strategic review. The atmosphere was highly charged, because Khamenei’s doctors have diagnosed a serious cancer, and do not expect the Supreme Leader to live much more than a year. A succession struggle is already under way, with the apparently unsinkable Hashemi Rafsanjani in the thick of it, even though Khamenei, and his increasingly powerful son Mushtaba, is opposed to the perennial candidate-for-whatever.

Despite this disquieting news, the overall tone of the conversation was upbeat, because the Iranians believe they see many positive developments, above all, the declaration that "it has been promised that by 8 April, we will be in a position to show the entire world that 'we are members of the club." This presumably refers to nuclear weapons.

It's a dark and depressing article, but has the same ray of light I saw Thursday in Condi's comments on Iran to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Internally, the mullahs are struggling to hold the Iranian people in their iron grip.

Ledeen talks of the routine execution of thousands of citizens, of growing labor unrest, and of a government now afraid to even let its own officials travel abroad.

We are in a race then. The finish line might be April 8. Can the sick and sickening regime last until then and deploy its nuke, forever changing world history, or will world history catch up with it, and its divided house tumble into chaos?

Odds are with the mullahs, because time is so short. That means our efforts to sow discord and encourage uprisings need to be redoubled.

hat-tip: Daily Pundit
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The First Modern Oil War?

An oil war that has been simmering for months is in danger of breaking out into full-scale hostilities in Nigeria's oil-rich delta region. BBC reports:
A Nigerian militant commander in the oil-rich southern Niger Delta has told the BBC his group is declaring "total war" on all foreign oil interests.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has given oil companies and their employees until midnight on Friday night to leave the region.

It recently blew up two oil pipelines, held four foreign oil workers hostage and sabotaged two major oilfields.
Nigeria is the largest oil exporter, and America's fifth largest source of oil. MEND wants foreign producers out, including Shell and Chevron, which have large operations there.

The militants are talking big:
"Any part of Nigeria, wherever we have the opportunity to strike any target, we will strike," said militia leader Moujahid Dokubo-Asari, who heads the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force. (source)
There is serious doubt they have the clout to do little more than disrupt oil operations. But in a country packed with desperately poor people who are receiving no benefit from Nigeria's oil wealth, Dokubo-Asari's forces could create quite a bit of political mischief.

This skirmish is really a battle between a pack of rag-tag criminals who steal oil and hawk it for profit, and a pack of more polished government criminals who pump oil and hawk it for profit.

But wars don't often end up where they started, and any oil war in our troubled and oil-dependent world is something worth watching carefully.

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Still Smarmy After All These Years

Update: Scroll down; the Daily Times report may be inaccurate in one regard.

We have no right to be critical of other faiths. We have no right to say things that might play on their emotions. And if we do such a thing, we should be convicted and tossed in the nearest pokey.

Not surprising words coming from Imam al-Waqed'out, but these words came from our former commander in chief, Bill ("I'll say anything to be popular in the moment") Clinton.

Here's the excerpt from Pakistan's Daily Times:
Former US president Bill Clinton on Friday condemned the publication of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH)* caricatures by European newspapers and urged countries concerned to convict the publishers.

Talking to reporters after meeting Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in Islamabad, Clinton said he disagreed with the caricatures and that the publication was against religious and ethical norms. Clinton said he had no objection to peaceful demonstrations being held worldwide, but this was not the time for violence. He said it was the time to promote inter-faith harmony and stand together on the issue.

He said the people’s religious convictions should be respected at all costs and the media should be disallowed to play with the religious sentiments of other faiths. He said the media could criticise any issue including governments and people, but nobody had the right to play with the sentiments of other faiths.
* How does Mohammed feel about "Peace Be Unto Him" being shortened to (PBUH)? Dunno. He's much more temperamental than our God.

I have not been a swearing man since I became a Christian, but I had to keep certain short and explosive words repressed when reading this.

Anyone who has been president of the United States should always be a champion of free political speech. Did he really say that if someone ... say Osama bin Laden ... explained away the death of 3000+ Americans by saying it was part of a religious war his faith demanded of him, we have no right to play with the sentiments of his faith?

Did he really say that if cynical, internationalist mullahs deliberately spread death and ruin by hyping the Danish cartoons in Kartoonistan city after Kartoonistan city, we'd better be careful not to play with the sentiments of their faith?

Did he really say that political cartoonists should be jailed if their political speech offends someone? (see below)

Clinton was, as you recall, very big on protecting the free speech of pornographers who contributed to his campaign. He appears incapable of extending that right to political cartoonists, if their free speech conflicts with his feel-good while touring Islamic countries.

What a wuss. And he's the best they've got?

Update: Mark in Mexico has checked out other news accounts, and there appears to be no corroboration that Clinton said the editors should be prosecuted. The rest of his bizarre comments were confirmed by multiple sources.

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Kartoonistan Over-Reaction In Russia

The Volgograd newspaper Gorodskye Vesti ran a pretty good cartoon the other day.

According to press reports, it showed Moses, Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed watching a TV showing people fighting. The caption read, "We did not teach them to do that." It ran with an article that encouraged a stop to violence over the cartoons.

In response, the mayor shut down the newspaper.

Said the Deputy Mayor at a press conference (presumably without Gorodskye Vesti reporters present):
"We have carefully studied the article and decided to close down the newspaper in order not to inflame ethnic hostilities."
There had been no reports of anything much being enflamed during the cold Volgagrad winter as a result of the cartoon, least of all ethnic hostilities.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Nine Kartoonistan Deaths

Libyan adherents to the Religion of Peace set fire to the Italian consulate Friday night -- apparently enraged that Italy is on the same continent as Denmark* -- and were shot on by police. Nine died, many were wounded.

Here's an insight into Libyan crowd control:

Antonio Simoes-Concalves, an Italian consular official, ... told The Associated Press in Rome that the Libyan police were not able to control the crowd, even though they were firing bullets and tear gas.

At Abu Ghraib, we only embarassed prisoners and made them uncomfortable. When dealing with their own people, Arab tyrants are perfectly happy to just shoot into crowds. Will there be a human rights protest? Don't count on it.

* Possible reasons why Libyans selected the Italian counsulate:
  • Libya is a former Italian colony
  • Italy is the only western diplomatic mission in the town of Benghazi, where the riots occured
  • Italian cabinet minister Roberto Calderoli recently said he would wear a T-shirt printed with the profet cartoons
If you're keeping count, we're now at 28 reported deaths over Kartoonistan. Would Allah consider them martyrs? Don't know. He's much more temperamental than our God.


Libya's parliamentary secretariat announced the suspension of Interior Minister Nasr al-Mabrouk and said all those involved in Friday's riots "and the officials responsible for them" should be referred to investigations and to the courts.

"We condemn the excessive use of force and the inappropriate way that went beyond the limits of carrying out the duties of the police," the secretariat said in a statement. It also declared Sunday a day of mourning for "our martyr sons."

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New Cartoon Hurts Islam's Fragile Ego

The German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel has raised its own Kartoonistan row, angering Iran with a cartoon showing Iranian soccer players at the World Cup (which will be held in Germany) with bombs strapped to their uniforms.

I've searched everywhere for the image, but apparently everyone's afraid to show it. Why? Reports Daimnation:

Calling the cartoon a "black joke" and an "immoral act," Iran has demanded an official apology from the German government.

The cartoon's creator, Klaus Stuttman, is in hiding after receiving death threats.

This ... is ... getting ... very ... tiresome. Would Islam please develop enough self-esteem so its practitioners can handle mild, credible criticism of the religion?

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Lookin' Good!

Here's Harry Whittington, less than one week after finding himself at the wrong end of the VEEP's gun. I hope I look that good even without shotgun pellet wounds when I'm 78!

Do you think seeing Whittington out of the hospital and acting nothing remotely like a victim will slow down MSM frothing? Do you think Whittington's statement -- "We all asume certain risks in what we do, in what activities we pursue." -- will even be understandable to the blame-layers with the press passes?

Of course it won't. Some reporters will have to swallow their secret disappointment that Whittington survived -- a deep, dirty secret they will never, ever share outside of media circles -- and none will experience a lightening in their distaste for all things GOP in general, and Cheney in particular.

Contrast that utter lack of class with Whittington's statement:
My family and I are deeply sorry for everything Vice President Cheney and his family have had to deal with," he said. "We hope that he will continue to come to Texas and seek the relaxation that he deserves.
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Bookworm's conservative slogan contest results are in, and it's a real challenge to my efforts to be a humble guy because two of mine won!!

My entries received the most votes in the best NSA slogan category:

Bush spied, terrorists died

and in the best anti-terrorism slogan category:

Give peace a chance.
Kill a terrorist.

The former, if I can descend for a moment into a total and complete lack of humility, was the number one vote-getter in the entire contest, with 333 votes ("Because there were only three entries," my conscience tells me).

For the sake of full disclosure, I also had one of the biggest dogs of the entire contest, garnering just four overly kind votes ... actually three overly kind votes because one of them was my own overly egotistical vote:

One, two, three, four!
What's with Leftist rhymes?

Fessing up to that one has my humility back intact.

As LDS Church Flunks DNA Test, Questions About Science And Faith

It's as if a DNA test proved the Pilgrims really sailed from Iceland, not England -- that's how LAT religion writer Bill Lobdell puts it, but it's more like the DNA proved they were from Burma.

Lobdell is writing about DNA tests that have disproved the Mormon belief that Native Americans are decendants of a lost tribe of Israel. It's no small belief, says Lobdell:
It burrows into the historical foundations of the Book of Mormon, a 175-year-old transcription that the church regards as literal and without error. ...

The book's narrative focuses on a tribe of Jews who sailed from Jerusalem to the New World in 600 BC and split into two main warring factions.

The God-fearing Nephites were "pure" (the word was officially changed from "white" in 1981) and "delightsome." The idol-worshiping Lamanites received the "curse of blackness," turning their skin dark.

According to the Book of Mormon, by 385 AD the dark-skinned Lamanites had wiped out other Hebrews. The Mormon church called the victors "the principal ancestors of the American Indians." If the Lamanites returned to the church, their skin could once again become white.
The LDS church believed this and used it as a strong elixir to attract Native Americans and Pacific Islanders to the church -- about 4 million have joined, and in the time since the DNA studies surfaced, many have turned from the church, disappointed that they were, to paraphrase, hustled. (See Losing a Lost Tribe if you want more info.)

Many evangelicals will use this story to make the point that the LDS church is not a true Christian church, and I will leave that argument to them simply because I haven't studied Christian/Mormon apologetics. This is the first time I've ever written the word "Lamanite," for example.

What fascinates me is the effect DNA evidence can have on faith. Some will discount this argument, saying religion isn't about science, but those people don't know about religion. Many of us had to work through many scientific proofs before we could let go into faith.

Mormon apologetics has the subject covered, and Lobdell lays it out. It's basically a "misreading of the book" argument.

That's not what I want to talk about. More interesting to me is speculation of what similar evidence would do to my faith as an evangelical, fundamentalist Christian.

Here's the question I'm asking:
What what if Christ's blood were found on some relic in an ancient church, tested, and found to be 100% human?
It would seem that God-in-man would have God-and-man blood, which is what Bill Myers took as the seed for his beautiful Fire On Heaven trilogy about a cloned human made from Christ's blood.

I know what my reaction would be to such news, and I'll share it later. But for now ... your thoughts?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Kinder, Gentler Hamas?

Hamas is working on a new charter. One man close to the process is quoted in the Jerusalem Post:
"All that nonsense [in the current charter] about The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and conspiracy theories - all that rubbish will be out. It should have never been there in the first place."
So are we going to see a fundamentally better Hamas, ready for prime-time respectability, thanks to its new international responsibilities? Uh ... no.

First, the new charter will actually take longer to get written exactly because of Hamas' new international role. They wouldn't want to look like they were being pushed around by the West, would they?

And second, there's that troublesome little matter that the new charter, just like the old one, calls for the destruction of Israel. Not Jews, mind you, no the new Hamas has no problem with Jews.

"The charter doesn't speak about the Jews," insisted Jamila Shanty ... the faction's highest-ranking woman. "It says we don't have a problem with the Jews," she told the Post. "Our problem is with the Israelis who took our land."

Nice, but it wouldn't make much difference to the Jews of Israel, were Hamas to succeed in its Charter's ambitions. Dead Jew or Dead Israeli, dead is dead.

Condi Talks Tough On Iran

You may have heard excerpts of Condi's tough testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, but chances are you missed the toughest talk of all.

In case you missed it, here's the excerpt a lot of radio stations played today:
I would like to speak briefly to the Iranian problem, the Iranian regime with its destabilizing policies; throughout the region, policies that support terrorism and violent extremism. The Iranian regime uses those tools to further ideological ambitions and policies that are, frankly, a challenge to the kind of Middle East that I think we would all like to see, one of tolerance, one of democracy.

The United States will actively confront the aggressive policies of this Iranian regime. And at the same time, we are going to work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom in their own country.

The Iranian regime is now deepening its own international isolation through toxic statements and confrontational behavior, most especially in its pursuit of nuclear weapons and pursuit of policies that are now being roundly condemned by the international community.
But the real tough talk followed:
I want to thank the Congress for giving us $10 million to support the cause of freedom and human rights in Iran this year. We will use this money to develop support networks for Iranian reformers, political dissidents and human rights activists. We also plan to request $75 million in supplemental funding for the year 2006 to support democracy in Iran.
One could only hope there is massive anger within Iran regarding the nation's current headlong charge into global pariah status. A few more are probably at least mildly upset by the fact that if Ahmadinajad succeeds in his nuclear end-time ambitions, what's left of Iran will glow in the dark.

Spending $85 million to foment this discord will be money well spent ... but it's not enough. Instability doesn't come cheap, but no matter how much we spend, it'll be cheaper than the military alternative.

Europeans Blowing Kyoto

Europe is quick to chide the US for not signing on to the Kyoto accords, but its own record is hardly stellar:
  • 13 of the 15 original members of the European union have increased their greenhouse emissions since 1990.
  • EU's environmental agency reports that by 2010, the EU's greenhouse emissions will exceed 1990 levels by seven percent.
Whoa!? How could that happen in good ol' lefty, big-government Europe? Explains National Center for Public Policy Research senior fellow Dana Joel Gattuso, "the Kyoto treaty is economic suicide, and most European nations know it."

OK, so the National Center is conservative. How about the Internationl Council for Capital Formation in Brussels, which predicts:
Kyoto would cause the UK's gross domestic product will fall more than 1 percent in 2010 from what it otherwise would be, Italy's by more than 2 percent, and Spain's by more than 3 percent. The UK, Italy, and Germany each would lose at least 200,000 jobs; Spain would lose 800,000.
For what? According to Gattuso, "they'd achieve a paltry reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of just 0.1 percent by 2010."

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Back By Popular Demand

The US Postal Service is bringing back Ronnie, it announced today.

The re-issued stamp will look just like the original, except it'll say 39 where it says 37 before.

Ronnie wouldn't like that little sign of growing government bureaucratic inefficiency much, would he?

Wanna Bet?

This just in from AP:
SARITA, Texas (AP) - The sheriff's department closed its investigation Thursday into Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting partner and said no charges will be filed.

The Kenedy County Sheriff's Department issued a report that supports Cheney's account of the weekend accident that wounded 78-year-old lawyer Harry Whittington. Whittington, interviewed in the hospital, also assured investigators no one was drinking at the time and everyone was wearing bright orange safety gear.

Sheriff's dispatcher Diana Mata, speaking for the department, said the case is closed and no charges will be filed.

My headline, "Wanna Bet?" references Ms. Mata's statement that the case is closed. Given the tenor of the howls coming out of the press corps, I'd say it's hardly closed.

It's just our interest in the story that's closed ... except for much hoped-for news of the continuing recovery of Harry Whittington.

The Hume Fume

"Critics slam Cheney's interview choice!" shouts the SF Examiner, echoing a bit more robustly the LATimes headline on the same story, "Choice of messenger an issue in its own right." Here's the Hume Fume:
However, some Democrats and competing broadcasters charged that Cheney chose to speak only with Fox News because of a perception that the cable channel is sympathetic to the Republican administration. They called for the vice president to hold a news conference with the rest of the media.
How do you type bratty, whiney sounds? WAAAAAH! doesn't do it justice.

Cheney has no obligation whatsoever to hold a press conference and subject himself to the infantile one-upsmanship of the White House Press Corps. He got very good counsel from Mary Maitlin to avoid that nightmare.

If not a press conference, then what? Certainly not CNN. It has done a much better job of proving an anti-administration bias than Fox has done of earning a pro-administration one. And certainly not the loser also-rans, like MSNBC:

That leaves the Big Three and Fox.

Besides their obvious bias problems, none of the Big Three have a format suitable for the VEEP. Their editing for soundbites format minimizes news value and denies opportunity for full explanations. It is, fundamentally, worthless TV, which is exactly why Fox is so successful.

In turning to Brit Hume, Cheney got a format that worked and a reporter he trusted to be fair. Not biased, but fair. Howard Kurtz proves that with a couple wrap-up quotes to his column today:
Joe Lockhart, who worked for Walter Mondale's 1984 presidential campaign, said that Hume "was a real favorite of Mondale's. You can't spend a lot of time with Brit and not know he's a conservative guy, but it was our belief that never showed up in his journalism. Now he's got a more edgy and opinionated program."

Emily Rooney, a talk show host for Boston's WGBH-TV who worked with Hume at ABC News, praised Hume's intuitive grasp of politics.

Hume has "never hidden" his conservative leanings, she said, and Cheney "chose Brit Hume for a reason -- because he's always given a fair hearing to the Republican Party, which not every journalist did along the way."
So, it was a smart call -- and all the smarter because it left the anti-Bush MSM looking infantile and agenda-driven, which makes for a good day's work, all in all.

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