Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, June 30, 2006

Cpl. Shalit To Be Relesed Soon?

Egyptian president Hosnei Mubarak says a negotiated settlement resolving the current Israel/Palestine confrontation may occur soon. Says the Jerusalem Post:

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Friday that a compromise had been reached with several Hamas leaders for a conditional release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

The agreement that Mubarak claimed to have reached with the kidnappers involved an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the release of prisoners scheduled to be released anyway in the next year, in exchange for the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit who was kidnapped on Sunday, Palestinian sources said.

The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper said that Cairo has proposed that the swap would not be simultaneous but that the Palestinian prisoners would be freed later. Al-Hayat's sources, whom it did not name, said Hamas' leadership outside the Palestinian territories has not responded to the proposal.

Mubarak told Egypt's leading pro-government newspaper, Al-Ahram that Shalit's kidnappers have agreed to his conditional release, but Israel has not yet accepted their terms.

By the way, I didn't notice any articles in JPost exposing Mossad's latest intelligence gathering techniques, criticising Ehud Olmert's conduct of the campaign or calling for the closing of the prisons in which Israel holds suspected terrorists.

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We Should Still Have Posters Like These

One of a series of updated old-time posters I received. I don't know who made them, but I'll run them from time to time.

Balance, Dem Style

In this corner, wearing the white robe and aviator jacket, Fightin' Al Qaeda.

In this corner, in the dark shades and high-visibility convertible for all the cameras, Desk Jockey Valerie Plame.

The Dems tried to offer this up as a fair fight in the House debate yesterday over the resolution condemning the NYTimes (primarily) for revealing the SWIFT program: The GOP, they said, has no right to cry over a major breach of national security by the media because they leaked Val's name.

No one has been able to show any national security risk from Plame's name getting out. She operated no networks overseas and hadn't been in the field for some time. That Islamofascism poses a threat is pretty much above question for all but the most rabid of the Lefties.

SWIFT, unlike Plame and her hubby, is active and effective. It is the implementation of 9/11 Commission recommendations, and even the NYTimes' own editorial page made a similar recommendation in Sept. 2001.

It is unfortunate that the Dems are so poisoned by Bush Derangement Syndrome that they can't bring themselves to stand by America on even the no-brainers; and this was a no-brainer, without any of the debatable points of the NSA program.

Instead, they have to stretch to ridiculous extremes to find an argument to justify and mask (ha!) their Bush hatred. Their party line vote against the resolution should hurt them in November ... but my bet is that it won't. Bush Derangement Syndrome doesn't just reside in Congress, but poisons much of America.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Rant On!

How would you feel if your local city council took $10,000 of public tax revenues and flushed it down the toilet?

That's what Berkeley's set up to do, spending $10K to put an initiative on this fall's ballot calling for the impeachment of the president and vice president. Of course, it's worthless since Berkeley has no such authority. More important, it's meaningless, because all it does is confirm to the rest of the nation that Berkeley is, indeed, as crazy as we all thought it was.

How crazy? This crazy:

The measure says the administration violated the Constitution with illegal domestic spying, justified the Iraq war with fraudulent claims and illegally tortured citizens.

The first point is debatable but ultimately false. The second one is so tired it makes Anna Nicole Smith's ex-husband look youthful and vital. But "illegally tortured citizens?" Are they talking about American citizens? That's new and pretty far out, man. If not, where's the proof of any illegally tortured non-citizens? More Anna Nicole stuff.

Speaking for the whackos in order to nail down the "we really are crazy" platform of the current city council is Dona (that's with one 'n') Spring (who's smiling rather trippingly at you there on the right ... probably the first time anyone's ever said "on the right" and her name in one sentence):

The whole idea is to start a grass fire surging up on this issue. We hope other cities put this on the ballot as well. Just in the Bay Area we could get 2 or 3 million votes, which would be a very powerful statement.

Some people never left the 60s.

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The Episcopal Church is continuing to splinter, as the parish where George Washington once worshipped -- and many others -- yesterday initiated the process of splitting from the diocese because of the church's continued insistence in naming homosexual bishops.

The WashTimes story is worth a full read; here's the lead:
Two of Northern Virginia's largest and most historic Episcopal churches -- Truro and the Falls Church -- informed Virginia Bishop Peter J. Lee yesterday that they plan to leave the diocese and that as many as two dozen other parishes may follow suit.
Undaunted, the Episcopal leadership elsewhere is ignoring what the WashTimes calls an "indefinite moratorium on homosexual prelates." The Newark diocese announced yesterday that a gay man is among the candidates for election to bishop there.

Look, we're all sinners and at one level, homosexuality is just one of many sins that are clearly called out in the Bible. The men who lead the church are sinners, whether they are gay or not.

But at a biblical level, homosexually is one of the sins set apart as "abhorent to God" and should be recognized by any Bible-believing church as such. At a human level, a Bishop needs to be a model and a counselor, and the model a church should uphold is one of heterosexual love within marriage because that is clearly laid out as God's plan in the Bible.

The Episcopalian leadership is caught up in the simplicity of "love one another" and are not seeing the depth of the issue. Their congregations are smarter and bolder than they are, so the congregations are leaving their leaders. Who, then, is the true leader?

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Palestine: What Corruption?

Last night, I was enjoying reading AP's report on Israel's latest insanely cool reaction to the Palestinians latest self-defeating idiocy. Particularly liked the bit about the four fighters buzzing Assad's summer palace and the gutsyness of swiping one-third of the thug terrorists who sit in the Palistinian cabinet.

But it's AP, right? So there's sure to be something really stupid in the story. And sure enough, one paragraph from the end they let 'er rip:
Gaza's economy was already in the doldrums before the Israeli assault, a result of five years of Israeli-Palestinian violence and an international aid boycott that followed Hamas' parliamentary election victory in January. The Israeli assault threatened to turn a bad situation into a disaster _ underscoring the extent to which hopes have been dashed following the optimism that accompanied Israel's pullout.
Nary a word about the billions of aid dollars stolen by Yassir and his Yass Men, not a peep about rampant corruption. The Israel-Palestine violence as opposed to the Palestine-Israel violence?

Israel has the power to turn the massive mess that is Palestine into a disaster? Oh, please. Palestine is the definition of disaster.

hat-tip: Breitbart
photo: Reuters
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Things America Doesn't Do

You'd think we were the global bad guys if you wasted any brain cells believing the Kerry-Kos-Kremlin axis. But wait ... we're such a good country, the sort of country that never, ever would do something like this:

Boy kidnapped by regime 28 years ago meets his mother
From Leo Lewis in Tokyo
The Times of London

A MAN abducted while playing on a beach in South Korea as a 16-year-old schoolboy in 1978 was reunited with his mother yesterday after 28 years of seclusion in North Korea.

The carefully choreographed reunion has reignited anger and anguish in South Korea and Japan, where the fate of almost 500 citizens believed kidnapped by the secretive communist regime has become a national issue.

Kim Young Nam threw his arms around his wheelchair-bound mother and told her: “Stop crying. Why are you crying on such a happy day?” “You look just like you used to,” she replied. ...

The schoolboy was playing on a beach in the town of Kunsan when he was snatched by North Korean agents.

Along with a suspected 480 other South Korean abductees, he disappeared into the Stalinist regime. Few of the abductees have seen their families again.

When Mr Kim asked his mother about the whereabouts of his father, Mrs Choi told him that he had died 20 years ago from grief at the abduction.

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Peoples Republic Stumbles

The city council of Irvine, which is trying to create the Peoples Republic of Irvine in the heart of OC, suffered an embarassing setback last night.

The cause of this political revolution, as with many preceding it, was something small and seemingly innocuous: A motion to form a sister-city relationship with the Xuhui District in China. "Not if we can help it," said hundreds of Taiwanese nationals and anti-Mainland China residents.

Irvine already has a sister city relationship with
Taoyuan, Taiwan, but that would change under the pact with Xuhui:
In the pact signed by an Irvine staffer, the city pledged to not send officials to Taiwan’s National Day celebrations and never to refer to “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan.”
Faced with the protests, the council backed down and mayor Beth "Krommunist" Krom publicly apologized to the mayor of Taoyuan. Here's council member Christina Shea:
“We should be celebrating our new sister city relationship” with Xuhui, said Councilwoman Christina Shea. “Unfortunately, the city of Irvine has suffered ridicule and embarrassment.”
What's to celebrate in breaking a relationship with a free and democratic republic in favor of a repressed, Communist, expansionary state? Irvine suffered a wake-up call and the ridicule and embarrassment is all the city council's.

The same should happen on a national scale.

Source and photo: OCRegister
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Crooks Love Porous Borders

There was a drug raid in OC yesterday.
Agents confiscated drug-making chemicals, scales, handguns and $240,000 in cash. One suspected lab, at 1371 S. Loara St., was within two blocks of a school. ... During the investigation, agents confiscated 15 pounds of methamphetamine, a kilo of cocaine, 70 grams of heroin, 10 firearms and two handgun silencers.
Standard stuff, huh? Not quite. The agents weren't from the Drug Enforcement Administration; they were from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Why would that be? Hint:
Three of the arrests were suspected ringleader Jose Anguiano-Barragan, 37, of Anaheim; Daniel Contreras, 24, of Orange and Ricardo Sacro-Sanchez, 22, of Riverside. Two other men, Jose Crisofono Valencia-Rios, 38, of Anaheim and Pedro Sanchez, 23, of Riverside are expected to appear in federal court today.
When flag-waving Mexican immigrants -- often waving a flag other than ours -- protested a couple months ago, one of their more outlandish slogans was "we're legal, too" because they did honest work. Many -- most -- illegals do decent work, but we can't forget that a porous border is a fine, fine tool for drug smugglers and (witness the silencers) murderers.

Source and photo: OCRegister
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Goofy E-Mail Stuff

I probably should have promised to never pass along any of the goofy emails I receive, but I'm glad I didn't. Otherwise I couldn't share these with you:
  • How come we choose from just two people for president and over fifty for Miss America?
  • I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose-fitting clothes. If I had any loose-fitting clothes, I wouldn't have signed up in the first place!
  • Why is it that our children can't read a Bible in school, but they can in prison?
  • And low-life as all get out, but still the funniest of the bunch: I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with "Guess" on it. So I said, "Implants?" She hit me.
Seriously, the humor that blankets America is a wonderful thing, and a sign that we are a healthy and enviable country. Word-of-mouth gave way to the telephone which gave way to the fax which gave way to emails, and with each iteration, the laughter spread farther and we became more good natured, as God planned when He planted on this land.

D.C.'s Latest Gay Marriage?

"It seems to be a marriage of convenience."

That's former Kerry strategist Dan Payne on the strange bedfellow-ing of John ("I never found a position I couldn't flip") Kerry and Russ ("Hey! I'm the only guy who voted against the Patriot Act!") Feingold.

Is it love? No, worse! It's peace, or their half-baked approach to peace, which is sure to cause more war and suffering:
Notwithstanding their different histories, Sens. John Kerry and Russ Feingold joined forces last week to push a proposal that would have required troops to leave Iraq by July of next year.
With both Kerry and Feingold positioning themselves for 2008 presidential runs, it's an alliance made in heaven for the GOP. Says RNC spokeswoman Ann Marie Hauser:

Whether it's John Kerry's indecisiveness or Russ Feingold's extremism, Democrats across the board support an approach that results in surrendering to our enemy. But as 2008 looms, it is interesting to watch these two senators trip over each other as they rush to the far left of their party.

Don't worry. We know one of them will flop back to the middle again. Then back to the far left. Then ....

Source: SacBee
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Sign Me Up

I was happy to see this, from the SacBee:
President Bush's communications director is stepping down to move to New York City with her husband, the White House announced Tuesday.

Nicolle Wallace has been in a long-distance marriage ever since her husband, Mark, became United Nations ambassador for management and reform [an equally impossible job, eh?] this spring. Wallace decided to stay temporarily in Washington, but this Friday she is leaving her job overseeing White House press strategy.

I wish Wallace well; Lord knows, she had a tough job. But Bush's media strategy has been pathetic and her departure opens the door, hopefully, for someone who will do a much, much better job.

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Kids! We Want To Protect And Molest You!

Just because public schools are such easy targets doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to attack their inefficiency, lame political correctness and downright stupidity. Two stories caught my eye recently that make it an obligation to fire another couple shots.

The first is in USAToday and says that to some schoolmarms, the children on the right are doing something that's nothing more than high-risk behavior:
Some traditional childhood games are disappearing from school playgrounds because educators say they're dangerous.

Elementary schools in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Spokane, Wash., banned tag at recess this year. Others, including a suburban Charleston, S.C., school, dumped contact sports such as soccer and touch football.

In other cities, including Wichita; San Jose, Calif.; Beaverton, Ore.; and Rancho Santa Fe., Calif., schools took similar actions earlier. ...

... [S]everal experts, including Donna Thompson of the National Program for Playground Safety, verify the trend. Dodge ball has been out at some schools for years, but banning games such as tag and soccer is a newer development.

"It's happening more," Thompson says. Educators worry about "kids running into one another" and getting hurt, she says.

How hurt? Baby got a boo-boo? How often? Legions of little ones on life support?

Despite the obvious -- our increasingly heavy kids should be encouraged to excercise more, not less -- this attack on physical games probably has as less to do with safety than with educators' -- especially the PhD professional education administrators' -- current abhorence of competition and superiority/inferiority issues.

Teachers didn't go into teaching because they sought a competitive lifestyle. And as the butt of the "those that do, do; those that can't, teach" jokes, they're not big fans of superiority/inferiority comparisons (even though Americans still admire teachers on the whole) (but when was the last time you saw a survey saying Americans respect school administrators?). So they take it out on the kids, depriving them of valuable skill-building, confidence-building, muscle-building fun.

Come to think of it, it might be that last word that's sticking in the educators' craw.

The second article is much more troubling. Appearing originally in Crisis Magazine and just reprinted in Focus on the Family's Citizen (sorry, I can't find the article on line yet),Francis X. Maier's look at child molestation in schools is a condemnation of legislatures, school boards and trial attorneys.

The article makes a simple point: There's more sexual abuse in public schools than in Catholic schools, but because legislatures have set low damage limits to protect public schools, shark litigators take their lawsuits elsewhere.

A 2005 Associated Press report noted that in some states, sexual abuse is now the main reason public school teachers lose their licenses. A 1999 probe by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ... found that during the 1990s, "by far the most common reason for teacher discipline" in Pennsylvania "was sex-related offences...." In January 2006, New York City's special-schools investigator Richard Condon reportede that 250 public school teacher misconduct cases had been substantiated in his jurisdiction alone during 2005. Of these, 92 confirmed cases involved sexual misconduct ...
Overall, 3 million public school students now in public schools will be the targets of sexual exploitation by a public school employee by the 11th grade, the article says. Worse, when a bad apple is found, often he or she is simply let go, often with a recommendation, to teach again elsewhere.

But when was the last time you heard a story of a class action lawsuit against a public school board for allowing this to continue? Never. That's because most states limit damage awards to a low amount, like $150,000 -- and that doesn't make justice worth the while of the likes of John Edwards.

Maier sums up by focusing on the excuses offered for this sick system:

Our favorite is the excuse that opening public schools to litigation might "bankrupt" them -- as if bankrupting Catholic schools, charities and parishes were OK. We've even heard the bizarre claim that churches and other nonprofits should be held to a "higher standard" because of their tax-exempt status. But this ignores the fact that governments grant tax exemption precisely for the benefit of the communities they govern and to reduce their own expenses. It implies that the abuse of a minor by a priest is somehow more loathsome simply because his parish gets a tax break, and that public school districts should be held less accountable because we pay taxes to support them.
Besides, when was the last time a public school filed a tax return? If the church should be held to a higher standard, so then should schools.

It's too bad this article only appeared in a Catholic journal then a Christian journal. The story deserves exposure in pubs like the New York Times or Washington Post. But they're too busy destroying our security to protect our kids, and too blind to see that readers would find an expose on molestation in public schools far more interesting and helpful than their latest salvo against the Bush administration and the War on Terror.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Mr. Flip, Meet Mr. Flop

"I fear that in the run-up to the 2004 election, the administration is considering what is tantamount to a cut-and-run strategy. Their sudden embrace of accelerated Iraqification and American troop withdrawal dates, without adequate stability, is an invitation to failure. The hard work of rebuilding Iraq must not be dictated by the schedule of the next American election... [It] would be a disaster and a disgraceful betrayal of principle to speed up the process simply to lay the groundwork for a politically expedient withdrawal of American troops. That could risk the hijacking of Iraq by terrorist groups and former Ba'athists"

That's none other than today's foremost proponent of fixed timetables, Sen. John Kerry, speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations in December 2003.

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Pelicans Under The Influence

Nearby Laguna Beach is always good for a tale or two, but this is one of the best ... and stick with it because there's an interesting tidbit at the end:
Four pelicans suspected of being drunk on sea algae were being tested at a Southern California wildlife center Saturday after one of them crashed headlong into a car.

Three of the California brown pelicans were found wandering dazed in the streets of Laguna Beach after another pelican struck a vehicle's windshield on a nearby coast road.

It suffered internal injuries and a long gash in its pouch and was undergoing toxicology tests.

Officials at the Wildlife Care Center said the seabirds may have been under the influence of algae in the ocean that can produce domoic acid poisoning when eaten. (Reuters)

The wealth of America always amazes me, particularly when it is showered on our pets and wildlife. But that's not the promised tidbit. Here it is:
Shellfish tainted with domoic acid was thought to be the culprit behind a 1961 attack of seabirds on people and cars in the oceanside California town of Capitola that inspired Alfred Hitchcock's horror movie "The Birds."
They didn't teach me that in college ... and I took a class, "Auteurship and the Cinema," on Hitchcock and Wells. Daddy's money well spent.

Birds photo: Metroactive
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Three Parts Hatred, One Part Ignorance

Here's a question worth pondering:
Why do they hate us?
Not the Islamofascists; not the anti-globalization zealots. No; why do the New York Times and its sisters at the top of the American media heap hate us? John Barrone addresses the question today on Real Clear Politics, in light of Friday's NYT article revealing banking surveillance against the financers of terror, and today's letter from exec editor Bill Keller explaining (sort of) why NYT ran with the story.
Why do they hate us? Why does the Times print stories that put America more at risk of attack? They say that these surveillance programs are subject to abuse, but give no reason to believe that this concern is anything but theoretical. We have a press that is at war with an administration, while our country is at war against merciless enemies. The Times is acting like an adolescent kicking the shins of its parents, hoping to make them hurt while confident of remaining safe under their roof. But how safe will we remain when our protection depends on the Times?
Having read Keller's letter, which first treats us as elementary school students, then as fools, I see that NYT's leadership (1) saw the risk in running the story, (2) understood that the program was legal and (3) realized it was beneficial in protecting America. They also didn't seem to think running the story would make much difference, since bankers were subpoenaed for the info anyway.

So they're explaining their actions with three parts of Bush hatred and one part ignorance of the real world. Had Keller and his cohorts ever had any experience outside elite colleges and elite newsrooms -- say, they had been a soldier, or even a businessman -- he would never have written this:
Our default position — our job — is to publish information if we are convinced it is fair and accurate, and our biggest failures have generally been when we failed to dig deep enough or to report fully enough.
Missing are the questions that drive the soldier: Does it support the mission? Does it make me safer? Missing is the question that drives the rest of the enlightened world: Does it do good?

Neither appear to be important to the executive editor of the New York Times.

Christo "art" from Gallery Brown
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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Iraq's Dead: Don't Count On The Count

Today's LATimes story trumpeting its hard-fought quest for a war dead total in Iraq will no doubt be echoing throughout the big media for a couple days, sensationalist tripe that it is.

Do not let yourself fall prey to the clatter without reading Hinderaker's excellent analysis at Power Line, which includes this:
The [LA] Times makes no effort to put its 50,000 number into any sort of context. Reading its article, one might get the impression that pre-2003 Iraq was the balloon-flying paradise so notoriously depicted by Michael Moore. A bit of research, however, offers evidence that the current level of violence is, sadly, nothing new.

In January 2003, two months before the coalition's attack on Saddam's regime began, John Burns wrote a chilling account of Saddam Hussein's reign of terror in the New York Times. Burns' article, titled "How Many People Has Saddam Killed?", recounted some once-familiar numbers that seem to have been forgotten in the current media hysteria. Burns noted that Saddam was widely considered to be responsible for "a million dead Iraqis," a number that included 500,000 killed in the war Saddam launched against Iran. Burns tried to estimate separately the number that were simply murdered:

Casualties from Iraq's gulag are harder to estimate. Accounts collected by Western human rights groups from Iraqi émigrés and defectors have suggested that the number of those who have "disappeared" into the hands of the secret police, never to be heard from again, could be 200,000.
Hinderaker also recounts the Oil-for-Food dead so trumpted by pro-Saddam, pro-Islamist forces, and the dead of Abu Gharaib when it really was a place of torture, unlike what its role has been in occupied Iraq.

Balancing is so easy to do. Following a day after yesterday's quick, biased dismissal of recent WMD finds, today's LAT article evidences once again that paper's commitment to being on the side of the enemy in this war.
hat-tip: memeorandum
photo: Michael Fumento
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Here's a thought-provoker:
As a rough rule of thumb, an increase of 10 points in mean IQ results in a doubling of the per capita [Gross Domestic Product].
That's the conclusion of the authors of the article "Exponential correlation of IQ and the wealth of nations" in the journal Intelligence. Think of it! Increase a nation's IQ from just 90 to 100, and expect a doubling of its wealth.

The full abstract (you need to subscribe to read the entire article) is too complex by half for an ilnumerate like me:
Plots of mean IQ and per capita real Gross Domestic Product for groups of 81 and 185 nations, as collected by Lynn and Vanhanen, are best fitted by an exponential function of the form: GDP = a * 10b*(IQ), where a and b are empirical constants. Exponential fitting yields markedly higher correlation coefficients than either linear or quadratic. The implication of exponential fitting is that a given increment in IQ, anywhere along the IQ scale, results in a given percentage in GDP, rather than a given dollar increase as linear fitting would predict. As a rough rule of thumb, an increase of 10 points in mean IQ results in a doubling of the per capita GDP.
But the gist of it is this: Smart nations do better.

America is smart, but as Alvin Toffler explained recently in an interview with Dennis Prager, we're smart in an early industrial revolution sort of way, training our kids to be good factory workers in factories that no longer exist. Add Lynn and Vanhanen's equation to the long list of reasons why we must throw the rulers of our education system out and start over.

Islamic theocracies, on the other hand, are dumb and work hard to stay dumb. They only educate half their children, leaving the girls out, and the indoctrinate the boys with numbing Koranic teaching rather than inspire them to think. It has been so for so long that their economies are fiscal cesspools, relieved only by petrodollars in those nations lucky enough to sit over petro-pools.

Many Libs say we have to help the Muslim nations address their grievances regarding their sucky economies if we are to have peace. They don't say it that way; it's all income disparity and imperialism and captialist greed in Lib-lingo. But it boils down to having poorly educated people living in societies that repress imagination.

How can the Libs lobby for addressing Muslim grievances while at the same time lobbying to repress our own imaginations by declaring off limits so many interesting topics, like religion, creation, morality and even the war (as evidenced by recent school bans on camo or USMC clothing)?

hat-tip: Dissecting Leftism
photo: BBC
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Saturday, June 24, 2006

LAT Close To Ignoring WMD Find

Saturday morning's LATimes finally had mention of the declassified info on 500 WMD finds in Iraq. Here it is in its entirety:
U.S. Experts Say Arms Found Were Unstable

Hundreds of chemical weapons found in Iraq were produced before the 1991 Persian Gulf War and probably are so old they couldn't be used as designed, U.S. intelligence officials said. A summary of a declassified intelligence report reduced this week said coalition forces had recovered about 500 munitions with mustard or sarin agents.
That's it. Given the extreme bias evidenced by this coverage, I'm surprized the LAT even bothered to mention the number 500.

Terrorist Killed; Terrorism Spreads

The Saudis killed six terrorists -- described as "members of the deviant minority" -- and injured a seventh in raids in Riyadh earlier today.

Arab News reports:
“The group was preparing a terrorist operation and its members were being tailed on the basis of intelligence service information.”

Saudi state television showed police removing several vehicles from the scene, some of them damaged in the clash, as officers carried away what appeared to be bags of evidence. Security sources said the militants were on the verge of launching unspecified attacks.

The ministry reported that the search of the property turned up boxes of documents and computers that were being used to communicate with others through the Internet. The two-story house was recently constructed in this residential neighborhood. Policemen at the scene later said they had seized a videotape showing that the group had been plotting to carry out a suicide bombing against a security target in Riyadh within the next two days.

Tough times for terrorists, but it hardly deters them. Moscow News reports that Chechen Islamist terroists have become much more radical since their leader, Aslan Maskhadov, was killed last year.

The most eye-catching move was the appointment of the rebel movement’s exiled ideologist, Movladi Udugov, as head of the newly-created “National Information Service for the State Defense Committee”.

“Udugov’s appointment to a high position while Akhmed Zakayev retains only the post of minister means just one thing: the radicals have won a victory,” said Chechen political analyst Murad Nashkhoyev. “However, it is Moscow itself that has untied the Chechen radicals’ hands by killing Maskhadov, the elected president, and rejecting negotiations with its opponents.”
Ill-conceived liberal desire to negotiate peace with Islamists aside, the article makes it clear there's lots of terror ahead for the Caucus region, quoting a 23-year-old Chechen Muslim:

Russia is engaged in real terror not only against Muslims in Chechnya, but also against them in the whole of the North Caucasus. The same thing’s really going on everywhere: Muslims are being killed, detained under various invented pretexts, tortured, maimed, and humiliated. Men are afraid of growing beards because they can be accused of being Wahhabis [Islamic radicals], with all the consequences that can entail. Women are afraid of wearing headscarves for the same reason.

This is why a jihad is necessary, first and foremost the jihad of the sword — not only in Chechnya, but throughout the North Caucasus.

And not only for the North Caucasus, but for anyone who is so offensive as to brush up against the Islamist world. Dark times ahead ....

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Kelo Anniversary

Friday was the anniversary of the infamous Kelo decision, opening the door of government condemnation of private property in the name of tax revenues. (That's the longsuffering Susette Kelo in the photo).

Had the President been given the opportunity to give Sam Alito a voice with the Supremes prior to that decision, it would have been decided differently.

Corrections are being made. Earlier this month, OC, like many local jurisdictions, overwhelmingly passed a county-wide ban on Kelo-like decisions. Now President Bush has done the same for the federal government. From Blogs of War:

President Bush just issued an executive order:

President George W. Bush issued an executive order on Friday to limit the U.S. government from taking private property only for the benefit of other private interests, like corporations.

The order came exactly a year after a divided Supreme Court ruled a city could take a person’s home or business for a development project to revitalize a depressed local economy, a practice known as eminent domain.

“The federal government is going to limit its own use of eminent domain so that it won’t be used for purely economic development purposes,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

You can read the order here.
It's largely a symbolic move, as the feds are unlikely to play the Kelo game, but it's a clear indication that the pendulum is swinging away from this governance attrocity. And it was a GOP prez who made the move.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

The People's Republic Of Filth

Every environmentalist in the U.S., instead of busying him/herself with gallant battles to save a tree or swamp or stop a windfarm, should pack their bags and go to places like China, where there actually remains a need for an environmental movement.

Aren't we supposed to think globally? Then check out this little info-bit from the NYTimes on what's going on in China, which, last time I checked, was a part of this globe:
China is the world's largest producer of coal, and much of it is mined here. While [the central-China province of] Shanxi provides the fuel that powers China's sizzling economy, thousands of acres of land are sinking because of the ravages of underground coal mining.

Moreover, coal fires are burning uncontrollably below ground here and through much of northern China, adding to global warming by releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Each year, scientists say, about 200 million tons of coal — more than was burned in all of Japan last year — are consumed by raging underground fires that are sometimes started by lightning and sometimes ignited by mining accidents.

Environmental experts call Shanxi a wasteland. The people of Shangma Huangtou call it a home they no longer cherish.

Indeed, the tremors here have not stopped, residents say. And so after years of suffering with increasingly foul air and sandstorms fed by a growing man-made mountain of coal waste, now 50 stories high, created from an open pit mine, the residents say they have had enough. They have petitioned to leave this village.

"People at my age don't like to move to a new place," said Wei Yangxian, 71, as he stood by the village road. "But we have no choice. We have no water. The earth is sinking. The air is poisoned. And there's that big man-made mountain."

One of the primary reasons why China is undercutting the world marketplace -- besides slave labor and slave-like labor -- is that it spends about 0% of its GNP on environmental protection. It can no longer cry that it's poor and needs special breaks. Instead of buying up US currency and US companies with its surplus, it should be forced to take care of its land and its people.

But it's a pipedream. No, wait! There might be hope for the villagers of Shanxi and the farmers who have had their land stolen for billionaires' villas and the factory workers who work in toxic environments: Send in the Greenies!

Unleash the enviro-litigators, the tree-sitters and the eco-freaks! Graduate whole classes of environmental studies B.A.s and put 'em on the slow boat to Shanghai! They say they're not happy in Bush's America anyway, so pack 'em all up and let them do their stuff where it's really needed, in the glorious People's Republic.

Photo: NYTimes
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A man identified as a member of the "Seas of David" religious group told CNN on Thursday that five of his fellow members were among those arrested and that they had no connection to terrorists.
I typed "Seas of David" into Google at 7:30 this morning and got no hits. Talk about a group being under the radar.

The blogs, of course, do offer up some "Seas of Davids" hits -- 23 on Google's blog browser, 51 on Ask's -- but there are precious few facts and lots of mostly meaningless speculation running around the blogsophere. Are they just a bible study group? Are they Davidians? Who are these guys?

A solid roundup that shows just how powerful the blogosphere can be is available at Blogs of War. Solid, non-hysterical, informative.

Four big points of information: They were largely resident-type black Muslims who didn't have to cover up to get into the States; they got some guidance from Islamists; there are more of them out there; they were caught.

While I've never posted on it, I've worried for some time about a hook-up between al Qaeda and the more radical branches of the black Muslim movement. I thought about it during the riots in France and I think about it whenever I remember the Black Panthers who were about during my college years. There's a lot of angry, self-appointed victims of the white man in Black America, and while it's still speculation at this point, the arrest of the Seas of David indicates that they can be turned into wannabe jihadists.

Look at their names: Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyglenson Lemorin and Rotschild Augustine. Not a Mohammed among them. Here's more on the matter, from ABC, lifted by Blogs of War:
The group has been under surveillance for some time and was infilitrated by a government informant who allegedly led them to believe he was an Islamic radical. The suspects are described as African Americans and at least one man of Caribbean descent.
That means our intelligence guys were being smart, wary and capable. They sniffed the group out and infiltrated it, possibly with someone of Arabic descent. And the ACLU can rest easy: The feds weren't racially profiling Arabs all the time.

When all is said and done, the Sons of David will probably turn out to be not unlike the Branch Davidians: isolated, extreme and a bit whacked out. They are not remotely as potent a threat as bin Laden, who is connected, extreme and highly strategic.

But they are busted. And I, for one, hope that NSA-style listening was a part of the process of identifying and nailing these guys.

The threat -- however capable this particular group may or may not turn out to be -- is on our shores and we must be diligent; we must have the tools or war and intelligence to use against them; we must succeed in squelching them every single time, because the cost of even one mistake is too high.

hat-tip: Blogs of War
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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Trust And Reciprocity

In the face of Bush Derangement Syndrome's crippling impact on the clear-thinking of the Left, and a similar but unnamed syndrome that puts the Right into a Pavlovian frothing whenever the words Gore, Kerry or Moore are heard, we need to ask ourselves if political trust has gone by the wayside, and is no more relevant today than a hand-cranked telephone.

Trust is certainly a cornerstone of a successful democracy, even if it's a "trust but verify" sort of trust. How could a single bill move forward without trust? How could a single regulation be vetted without trust? How could you ever vote for any candidate without trust?

In Iraq, trust is in short supply, which explains much of what's going wrong over there. Looking at that model, we need to think critically about our own levels of trust, and consider what can be done to turn this situation around.

John Beardsley, the former president of the Public Relations Society of America recently wrote on the subject in the Society's journal, The Strategist (not available online):
In April, a report by researchers at Baylor and Cal Tech, published in the journal Science, described the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging -- technology that makes it possible to watch the brain at work -- during a standard economic exchange game to evaluate what the brain is doing and when trust is being formed.

They found that the "intention to trust" is produced in the interior of the brain -- specifically in the caudate nucleus (behind the eyeballs) and in the anterior and middle portions of the cingulate cortex overlaying the midbrain, areas that are connected to the brain's reward pathways. Of course, the conscious decision to trust someone is made in the frontal lobe, where all decisions are made. What's new is the discovery that trusting behavior is prompted by things going on behind the frontal lobe.

This research is one example of the emerging field of neuroeconomics. It will certainly influence future developments in behavioral economics. It could also be important to communicators, too, not because they are all that eager to learn neurophysiology, but because the report's main conclusion contains a powerful directive: "Reciprocity predicts trust." ... Reciprocity is so important, in fact, that legal scholar Cass Sunstein has written, "Rather than being homo economicus, people may be homo reciprocans." (emphasis added)
Proof of this principal can be found by looking no further than al Qaeda. They trust the United States; not in a positive way, but they now trust that we will pursue them doggedly, that we are not some paper tiger that blusters but cowers. It was not always this way. Under Clinton, they didn't trust us to respond to their brutality in any meaningful way.

Now they do, and the difference is reciprocity. They attacked, we attacked back. Ironically, trust was built in the process -- negative trust, but it works because there are negatives on both sides of the equation. In the situation of positive political trust, which we're lacking, there need to be positives on both sides of the equation: A promise that we'll get some benefit, and that the benefit actually will be delivered.

I don't trust Democrats because, at least in part, there's no reciprocity there. They either promise what I don't trust to work, or they promise what I don't trust them to deliver. They promised to make society great by eliminating poverty, but I only saw society get worse. They promised to make the world better by stopping the war in Vietnam, but I only saw the world get worse. They promised they could fight terror without fighting a war, but the terror only got worse.

That means, then, for Bush Derangement Syndrome to wane and trust in GOP policies to grow, we need some reciprocity here at home. We can't just succeed in planting democracy in the Muslim world; we have to see benefits at home. We can't just succeed in conquering the insurgency in Iraq; we have to show people that the GOP has given them a benefit by pursuing the war successfully. We can't just have a booming economy because of tax cuts; we have to build a reciprocal relationship around the jobs and paychecks.

There are positives to report on all three of the examples above, but the Bush Administration has failed as communicators. We are not pursuing the media war, the War of the Words. Bush's speechwriters are no Peggy Noonans; Bush is no Reagan. And the GOP is hobbled as a result.

Fortunately, it's worse on the Left. Just try to listen to Kerry or Dean. Bush Derangement Syndrome has made them utterly untrustworthy.

I remember as a Scout grabbing my little finger with my thumb, thrusting my arm up, and pledging myself to the sorts of things that trust is built on: honor, God, country, duty, obedience, helpfulness, morality. And I did trust, because in return for this promise, I saw myself grow as a man, and I saw our gang of rough and tumble boys come together and do great things as our Scoutmaster quietly led us forward.

The GOP has been much more successful than the Dems were under Clinton and we therefore have much of what we need in place to re-establish trust. Bush doesn't communicate it and Cheney and Rove don't naturally engender it. They're all great at what they do, but trust-building across domestic fences is not their strength.

Show me that ability in a 2008 GOP candidate, and I'm interested, very interested.

Illustrations: Journal of Longevity, Boy Scout Handbook
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Media Snoops And Dodges

The thesis of this post is straightforward and hardly new: Papers like the Washington Post dig for news where they want to dig, and vice versa. A Republican leader is good digging, while a Dem anti-war mouthpiece seems to be protected.

WaPo has a big story today on Speaker Dennis Hastert's efforts to bring a new road, the Prairie Parkway, to northern Illinois. Just another pork story? No, this one alleges corruption because Hastert owns property 5 1/2 miles ... that's 5 1/2 miles ... from the road.

I have to ask ... 5 1/2 miles? If location is everything in real estate, there are a whole lot of locations between Hastert's land and the proposed new road that got more feathers for their nest.

Curious about this, I dug into the WaPo story deeper, until I found its attack on Rep. Ken Calvert. Calvert's crime?
Last year, Calvert, the California Republican congressman, and a business partner bought a four-acre parcel near the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, Calif., for $550,000. He then secured $8 million for a planned freeway interchange 16 miles away, an additional $1.5 million to support commercial development around the airfield, and sold the property less than a year later for almost $1 million.
Sixteen miles? I went to Google Maps and put March AFB right in the middle and took a look. Within 16 miles of March AFB are the cities of Colton, Moreno Valley, Redlands, Perris and Riverside. Five freeways are within the circle and, knowing the area pretty well, I can guess that there are upwards of 50 interchanges within 16 miles of March AFB.

The impact of this far-distant interchange on Calvert's landholding: Zero.

The Feds have supported commercial development around March since the base was closed in the 1980s, and it's a good thing, because it's shifting the jobs/housing balance, and saving people in the area from the deadly commute to LA and OC. Besides, another $1.5 million is nothing. Really. It builds almost nothing today an WaPo doesn't let us know what was built with it. The only excuses for that are deliberate shading or bad reporting.

Finally, a profit of $450,000 in one year. Unbelievably, in that particular year, it wasn't out of the ordinary.

The Murtha Contrast

Meanwhile, WashTimes editorializes on Jack Murtha's financial shenanigans which are legend:
  • Murtha's brother Robert is a defense lobbyist who represented companies that received more than $20 million from last year's defense bill. (LATimes reported this earlier)
  • That lobbying firm also employs a guy who worked for John Murtha for 27 years.
  • Murtha directed efforts to move the Hunters Point Shipyard to San Francisco. Nancy Pelosi's nephew, Laurence Pelosi, owned the land that would be come the new shipyard. (A Roll Call story covered this, and a story about Murtha's earmarks that benefitted PA Dem Paul Kanjorski's kids.
Oh, and by the way, the FBI named Murtha an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1980 Abscam scandal.

But he appears to have immunity, avoiding prolonged press scrutiny of the sort WaPo is trying to fire up around Hastert's deal. Could it be that Murtha, seeing Cunningham's troubles, decided to become the anti-war spokesperson in order to get MSM immunity?

Stranger things have happened.

hat-tip: memeorandum
photo: Riverside Press Enterprise
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

God And Graduation

Incredible Daughter #2 graduated from high school last week, and in conservative OC at least, God is still invited. County Supe Todd Spitzer worked in a couple references to the Almighty in his comments and no one fainted or screamed.

In that light, I offer up this from Michael Medved, with a sad shake of the head:
We recently attended the public high school graduation ceremony for our second daughter.

With twelve speeches and a half-dozen musical performances, however, the faculty, students and guests scrupulously and noticeably avoided one word in the lengthy proceedings: the word God. There was no invocation, no benediction, no "God Bless America," no wish for "divine guidance" in going forward in life. This absence seemed particularly awkward because a graduation is a life cycle event: like a marriage, a funeral or a christening, it celebrates change and continuity--closing chapters and new beginnings. Without any timeless context, the participants invoked endless platitudes about "finding your own truth" and "following your hearts"--a bleak suggestion that these 18-year-olds are now on their own in shaping their lives!

The current allergy to religion in public occasions helps strip both life cycle events and education of their deepest meaning.
Amen, brother.

h/t Jim
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Two Towers

Yesterday, I couldn't find a photo of Thomas Tucker, the brave and noble soldier who was so fiendishly tortured by the Islamofascists. May he and Kristian Menchaca and their families be in your prayers today.

Like the two towers in New York, these two towers of what is good in America and about America should never be forgotten.

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World (-Class Bore) Cup

It's like Big Brother. Everywhere, TV screens with World Cup games. Who's behind this effort to indoctrinate the American masses into accepting that this tedious, simplistic game is actually interesting?

While we were in LA last weekend -- cosmopolitan, elite, Leftist LA -- all TVs were on games. And no one was watching. Why? Well, we walked in for dinner in a trendy California cuisine place and the TV in the bar showed a score in some game of 1-0. A couple leisurely courses later, we walked out and the score was ... 1-0.

Look, we're not like the Thais ...
Buddhist monks in Thailand are too tired to receive early morning alms because they are staying up late to watch the World Cup, a Thai newspaper reported on Wednesday. ...

The Sangha Council, which oversees the tens of thousands of Buddhist temples in Thailand, has not banned monks from watching the World Cup but said it should not interfere with religious activities.

Chiang Mai chief monk Phra Thep Wisuthikhun said he had received complaints about "inappropriate behavior" at seven temples in the province. "It is the duty of the abbot of each temple to supervise the behavior of young monks, making sure that their religious activities will not be affected by the games," he told Reuters.

In neighboring Cambodia, some 40,000 monks have been warned they could be defrocked if they became too excited while watching the games.

"If they make noise or cheer as they watch, they will lose their monkhood," Phnom Penh patriarch Non Nget told Reuters this month.

And we're not like the Chinese...

Over-excitement during World Cup games has been blamed for the deaths of at least three fans in China and one man broke several bones when he fell from a Hong Kong balcony, the Shanghai Daily reported Wednesday. ...

China is obsessed with football but is six hours ahead of Germany, meaning many of the games are shown late at night or in the early hours of the morning -- peak drinking times.

A young man named Wang, watching a game on June 10 at a bar in Changsha, the capital of southern Hunan province, drank too much and died at four the following morning, the newspaper said.

Four days later, a woman surnamed Wei, who suffered from high blood pressure, was watching South Korea vs Togo in Hangzhou, near Shanghai. "She took a shower, went to bed and later died," the newspaper said.

The same day, Li Zhenbao, 27, died in his sleep in Hong Kong after staying up all night to watch three games in a row.

"Doctors suspected he died of a heart attack brought on by over-excitement," the newspaper said.

Ge Zuquan, 29, grew so excited during the game between the Netherlands and Ivory Coast that he ran to his fourth-floor Hong Kong balcony and jumped in the air.

"But he bounced over the railing," the newspaper said. "Doctors said he could have been paralyzed."

Do we really want to encourage this sort of fanaticism here in the USA? And if so, shouldn't World Cup games come with a warning label?

Elites, who sniff at good old American games like football, car racing and even the ever-elegant baseball, seem to like World Cup. Maybe it's because of fans like this guy, who so well captures trendy elite sensitivities.

Or not. Here's Brian Curtis in Slate:

Soccer has become a favorite pastime of the American intellectual. "Many people would say that soccer is the latte or the Subaru of the sporting spectrum," says Matt Weiland, who, with Sean Wilsey, is co-editor of The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, a new compilation that reads like a roll call of the soccer intelligentsia.
What's the appeal?

Simplcity, say some. Even intellectuals can follow soccer, whereas the rules of baseball and, heaven forbid, football, get in their way. They feel this overwhelming need to shout "Why?!" at the rulebook.

Politics, say others. Where else can little Third World oppressed nations beat the big capitalist monster nations?

Yeah, all well and good, but if you as me (and since you're reading this, I guess you have) it's really just the intellectual elites' herd mentality. They won't admit to it, of course, but they are social wildebeasts, thundering along in tight packs of each other, swinging this way and that with remarkable unity. Today, they're hoofing for the World Cup.

But just wait. If they win and Americans actually start watching soccer, and dying in soccer-laden drunken stupors, and falling off balconies, and ... Darwin save us! ... actually mixing it with religion, well then, the elites will drop soccer quicker than Harvard dropped Larry Summers.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Thomas Lowell Tucker and Kristian Menchaca

May these two brave soldiers (that's Menchaca on the right) find peace in the bosom of God because Lord knows, they didn't find it here.

Thankfully, the media reports didn't tell us what is meant by "signs of barbaric torture" that were found on the lifeless bodies of the two U.S. soldiers, who were kidnapped on Friday and found Monday night.

We may never know because, after all, they were American soldiers who died at the hands of Islamist terrorists, not Islamist terrorists fortunate enough to be held in American-run prisons like Abu Ghraib. Their deaths will not be investigated and reported like the "torture" that occurred at Abu G, where we all know how bad it was for the prisoners -- having to strip, having dogs bark at them, having to see menstrual blood.

Tucker and Menchaca experienced much worse, but they were American soldiers, so the media won't care. No Arab nation will hold an investigation. No insurgents will be jailed for the act.

And the media won't care, and will let Tucker and Menchaca slide into obscurity. Evidence: The Reuters report on the finding of their barbarically tortured bodies. That news, and all the history around it, is dispensed with in a cool and unemotional nine paragraphs.

What followed was 13 highly emotional paragraphs on current U.S. operations and the state of the war. Some excerpts:

A man identifying himself as Mohammed (Isn't that the prophet of peace guy?) Jabar al-Qaduri said two of the dead were his sons, Jassem and Mazen, and that all the victims had worked at a poultry farm adjacent to the houses.

"They did not attack any Americans or Humvees. We don't have any problems with the Americans. We don't have any foreigners here," he said, wearing a traditional Arab headdress and sitting slumped on the dirt ground in the shade of a truck.

A police source and residents said there were 13 victims and they included a 12-year-old boy. Reuters footage showed a bloodied mattress on the floor of one of the houses. Residents said the boy had been sleeping on it when he was shot.

As the bodies were loaded onto the trucks, one man lifted up the blanket covering one victim and cried out "Why God, why?."

Caldwell insisted no civilians had been killed in what he described as an "extremely long firefight."

I'm sorry Mohammed Jabar al-Qaduri lost his sons, but he's lying, and Reuters is knowingly reporting the lie. Small arms fire from al-Qaduri's village directed at U.S. soldiers started this firefight. Of course there are insurgents there and of course the place is crawling with foreign terrorists-for-hire. It's where he lives; it's his guys who are the bad guys. Maybe his sons, maybe not.

Note also that the reporter never saw the body of the 12-year-old boy; he only reported the neighbor's claims of his death and tied in a bloody matress as evidence. Where was the body? Why wasn't he shown it? Maybe it's true the boy died, maybe it's not; but it's truly bad reporting.

Major General William Caldwell's statement is thrown in after this so it will appear to be a lie, not so it will refute the claims. Caldwell certainly provided evidence to back up his statement, and Reuters chose not to report it.

Reuters has pitched in with the barbarians who torture barbarically.

God bless Thomas Lowell Tucker and Kristian Menchaca and their families and their troops, and all the people who fight for what's true and good and right.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Border Fence As Art

Perhaps the border fence would gain more support from Libs if it were a sculpture in addition to a fence. Ever heard a Lib argue against federal funding of art?

Didn't think so.

So let your imagination wander. How could the Libs resist something like this?

The design competition was sponsored by the NYTimes and attracted 5 entries from 13 invited design firms. Unfortunately, this is the most fence-like of the entries. Most "fences" were nothing more than the sort of politcal statements one would expect from the Left: Let's just build roads across it instead of a fence along it; let's just build cities along the border (as if there are no enviros).

Oh well; nice idea, but it's not going to work. Let's pour some good ol' concrete.

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Dems Resolve To Resolve Nothing

Here's the latest war strategy brilliance from the Dems, courtesy of the Boston Globe:
Congressional Democrats, seizing on public discontent over the war in Iraq, will offer legislation this week calling for a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq and a shifting of forces to other nations, where supporters say American soldiers will be less likely to come under attack. ...

The resolution, expected to come to the floor as early as tomorrow, also would call on Bush to provide a plan to redeploy remaining troops after 2006, but it does not specify where troops should be moved and how many might come home.
What a set-up. They demand a plan, but don't provide one. If such a resolution were to ever be binding, Bush would have to define the pull-out strategy, which the Dems could then criticize. So they would get to continue to blast the president and his people, all the while continuing to avoid having to actually think out their own plan.

Just like Murtha, who didn't think much of Rove's criticism of the Dems for being quick to support a war, but unwilling to stick it out. Here's what Murtha said, sitting on his fat backside in his air conditioned office:
[Rove is] making a political speech. He's sitting in his air-conditioned office with his big, fat backside, saying, 'Stay the course.' That's not a plan. I mean, this guy -- I don't know what his military experience is, but that's a political statement.
What sort of speech is it, exactly, when Murtha speaks? And if "stay the course" isn't a plan, what's his plan? Yeah, yeah, I know; it's there in the Dem resolution: Move them over the horizon. Then what? When Iraq starts to crumble and our strategic interests are in grave risk, do we move them back the other way?

Or do the Dems just hope that that the crumbling will happen under a future GOP regime, so they can continue to not offer plans for dealing with difficult situations?

hat-tip: memeorandum
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Reading The Charity Tea Leaves

Charitable giving is up, way up.

With Americans giving $260.28 billion in 2005, we have nearly equalled the inflation-adjusted giving of the previous high year, 2000, when dot-com largesse raised the giving tally to $260.53 billion.

Giving USA attributes some of the increase to the triple whammies of the tsunami, the Pakistan earthquake and our hurricanes, but that generated just under 3% of our total giving, and we were up 6.1% from 2004, so Americans are definitely in a giving mood.


Most obviously, the economy is good and people and corporations give more during good years because they have more to give. It's astounding to hear Dems continue to attack an economy that is robust and growing. Assuming they bother to pay attention to reality, the chartibable giving stats are one more thing they'll have to ignore to keep their drum beat up.

Charitable giving also could have gained strength from the growing amount of Americans who consider themselves born again. The Barna Group recently found:
The new research found that 45% of all adults meet the criteria that The Barna Group uses to classify people as “born again.” That number is up from 31% in 1983. The percentage hovered in the 36% to 43% range from 1992 through 2005. The current figure represents the largest single-year increase since 1991-1992.
Skeptics who find it hard to believe so many Americans hold faith so dear will have to deal with the charitable giving numbers as they try to explain their way out of our nation's strong religious underpinnings. Our church attendance is among the highest in all developed nations, and increased charitable giving may be another sign that religion is becoming more, not less, significant in our lives.

Finally, the charitable giving stats may be seen as a condemnation of government programs and a statement of faith in doing it ourselves. Granted, this argument has to deal with the fact that the highest levels of giving were recorded in the final year of the Clinton administration. And granted, Bush has been a disappointment as a small government president.

But it's easy to understand why anyone, seeing the U.N. in Southeast Asia and Pakistan, or FEMA along the Gulf Coast, would want to say, "Please, Big Brother, I'd rather do it myself."

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

LA Stories

Incredible Wife and I are in LA for the weekend; therefore, light blogging.

She's a big INXS fan, as is her sister, so the two couples of us convened from north and south for the concert last night. I'm not a fan at all, but did get into it a bit by the end. More intersting for me was the crowd:
  • What's with 50-year-old balding men rocking like they were in their 20's? They look so much more ridiculous than women the same age doing the same thing. I expect more maturity from them.
  • Marijuana stinks. I mean really; it does not smell good at all. The very bulky guy in front of us fired up a couple. He looked like he'd been suffering from the munchies for a couple decades.
  • Tops are getting lower, skirts are getting higher, leaving very little to the imagination. I prefer imagination to actually seeing the wares displayed all over the place.
Today we drove around Hollywood and Beverly Hills, where we saw Bentley Continental Coupes everywhere. We were out and about looking at home architecture, one of our favorite pasttimes. We could count the houses we liked on one hand -- but there were an awful lot of big, tall doors. Compensating for something?

We stopped at The Peninsula Hotel for a light lunch and saw Anderson Cooper. The Incredible Wife had just read his book and enjoyed it, so she told him so and he thanked her. What's a trip to LA without a celeb encounter?

Tonight, dinner at Musso & Frank for a bit of Hollywood history. No chic, trendy places for we traditionalists.