Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Lomborg: Money Spent On Global Is Detrimental

Without scooting my chair, I can pluck my well-worn copy of Bjorn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist off my reference shelf. A lot of pages are dog-eared and on some pages highlighted lines outnumber regular lines.

When Lomborg, the Danish statistician who tests enviro-hysteria claims and finds them wrong, attacks environmentalists' causes, it's not because he hates the environment; it's because he wants to protect it and knows our resources to do so are limited and should be properly prioritized.

Today on TCS, he spelled out my arguments against Warmie hysteria quite well, thank you. First, whether it's true there's no debate any more on the topic:
I think for a while [the debate on environmentalism] really was moving in the right direction and people were understanding the issues and the arguments better. But I think what is happening now is that we are increasingly seeing a tailspin into hysteria over the global warming discussion, where it is almost commonplace to say things are worse than we thought.

It's at the stage where people are saying its even worse than we thought yesterday, and that it is going to be catastrophic, and chaotic and disruptive - all these kinds of words. This has actually led to one of the lead modellers in the UK to come out and say it's bizarre that before we had the debate between the climate change skeptics and the scientists, and that now we have the debate between the scientists, who are now becoming the skeptics, and those who are saying it's all going to end in chaos, when it is going to do nothing of the sort - and this is not what the UN panel is telling us.

Perhaps this is most clear when you look at the movie from Al Gore. Everything he says is technically true. He says for instance that if Greenland melts, sea levels will rise about 20 feet. This is technically true. But of course the very evocative imagery of seeing Holland disappear under the waves - or New York, or Shanghai - leaves the impression that this is all going to happen very soon. Where in fact the UN climate panel says that the sea level rise over the next 100 years is going to be 30 cm - about 20 times less than he talks about. So there is a dramatic difference between what we're being told and what we're actually seeing.
Because global hysteria tends to suck up global resources, the Warmies are taking money away from causes that could do much more to advance the health and wellbeing of mankind. This is what drives me craziest about the Warmies, and Lomborg agrees:
Global warming is an important issue and one which we should address. But there is no sense of proportion either in environmental terms, or indeed in terms of the other issues facing the world.

If you just take the environmental problem first, it's very clear that what causes by far the majority of deaths is lack clean drinking water and lack of sanitation. Millions of people are dying each year from this. Also taking the new WHO estimates of what really kills people, these are the huge issues.

The second biggest problem is indoor air pollution, which probably kills somewhere between 1 and 3 million people each year, basically because people are too poor to use good fuels and end up using dung or cardboard or whatever they can find. Only a very distant third comes climate change, which the WHO puts at 150,000 to die right now.
Of course WHO's figure on global warming deaths is totally bogus. If you accept that 150,000 people die annually because it's gotten marginally hotter -- not because there was a typical cyclical heat wave somewhere or a typical hurricane on the coast -- I've got a bridge I want to sell you. But that's not even the point, says Lomborg:
This of course ignores those people that are no longer dying from cold-related deaths. For some inexcusable reasons, I would argue, they have the idea that they will only look at things that are going to be bad and don't have to look at will be good from climate change.

One of the top climate change economists has modelled - and several papers that came out a couple of weeks ago essentially point out - that climate change will probably mean fewer deaths, not more deaths. It is estimated that climate change by about 2050 will mean about 800,000 fewer deaths.
We've spent billions on climate change. Who even knows how much? And compliance with the Kyoto accord basically doesn't exist, carbon dioxide emissions are increasing, and all we're getting is hot air and money that could be treating malaria or providing clean water going to wealthy scientists and peevish regulators.

"And you've got to ask yourself," Lomborg concludes, "couldn't we have spent that amount of time and effort and consideration on addressing some of the issues in the world where we could have done an enormous amount of good?"

Lomborg's now working on a book on global warming that will come out next year.

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The Few, The Proud, The Honest

AWB Ltd. is an Australian wheat company, and the single largest payer of kickbacks to Saddam Hussein -- $221.7 million over four years in illigal "transporation" and "after-sales service" fees.

That money ended up not helping the people of Iran, but buying gold-plated toilets for Hussein's palaces, and diabolic torture devices for use on his enemies. The money also ended up being fully found out by Sir Terence Cole and his team of Aussie investigators, who cranked out 2,065 pages leading to recommended indictments of 11 AWB employees and one other.

Kudos for Australia, one of the few honest countries when it comes to the Oil for Food scoundrel. In an editorial today (subscribers only) WSJ lets us know the honesty tally:

Meanwhile, most other countries have done little or nothing to come clean. France, which was given preferential oil allocations, has only a lone prosecutor moving ahead, with little support from the Elysée Palace. Russia, which facilitated the oil allocations and blocked moves on the Security Council to investigate kickbacks, refused to assist Mr. Volcker, much less prosecute anyone. Ditto for China, which received huge oil allocations, and Vietnam, whose state-owned food companies paid kickbacks in exchange for business contracts.

Regarding the U.N., Mr. Cole notes that "The United Nations knew that Iraq was breaching sanctions by requiring payment of inland transport fees and surcharges or after-sales-service fees. It knew this between 1999 and 2003. . . It took no steps to publicize or warn member states of the Iraqi practices, and it took no steps to stop the practices." Mark it down as another coda to Kofi Annan's disastrous legacy as Secretary General.

The thing about crime: If you get away with it, you do it again. Count on France, China, Vietnam and the U.N. to do it again. Count on Aussies to think twice.

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Hardly A "Stay The Course" Day For Iraq

Bush says, in so many words, he knows what he wants to do in Iraq.

The Baker-Hamilton report's consensus begins to get out in what's obviously a carefully planned commission leak strategy.

The Pentagon announces its next steps.

And Mah- I'm- in- the- moud for hypocrisy Ahmahdinijad (rhymes with "I sent you a five-page letter, aren't you glad") shares his thoughts on Iraq with us.

Quite a morning for news-sifting.

Let's dismiss Ahmadinejad first. Two statements stood out:
With the presence of the US military in Iraq, nothing has been done to rebuild the ruins, to restore the infrastructure or to alleviate poverty.
What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors? Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?
The first statement is quite something, eh? As Iran funds and equips some of the militia that are killing so many and making it so difficult to focus on infrastructure instead of security, we continue to soldier on, rebuilding infrastructure with billions of dollars of investment -- desite Iran's wishes to the contrary. This guy's huevos are clearly bigger than his brain.

And the latter comment? Let's ask ourselves first what, other than getting rich on petrodollars, have the Islamists done for us lately? With "friends" like that, Israel looks very, very good, indeed. But what does that matter if you're schooled in Old School Anti-Semitism? I don't know; I'm just blinded because all my money, movies and news is Jew-controlled, I guess.

Signals on the future

It appears that some elements of Josh Manchester's 6-point "Go Native" strategy may be taking route, with Baker-Hamilton apparently poised to announce a greater focus on training and staged, milestoned withdrawals. Manchester points out that if logistical support is moved to forward bases and Americans fight in intermixed Iraqi-American squads, troop drawdowns are quite feasible.

Staged, milestoned withdrawals are problematic, though, because if the enemy knows the milestones, they have the blueprint for messing up the plan and a list of targets -- political, military, infrastructure -- to attack. I'm counting on Baker-Hamilton to have a few good ideas but to be unimplementable as proposed, like much of the 9/11 Commission recommendations.

Meanwhile, General Peter Pace said troops will be moved from elsewhere in Iraq to Baghdad to help quell the violence there. This isn't necessarily counter to Manchester's six points, becuase he doesn't have us shifting to forward bases until more training and integration happens.

It may, however, be in line Manchester's strategy of putting more pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to get control of Moqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army. That's a job that's going to have to happen in Baghdad and Sadr City.

The quotes from Bush are appropriately tough, conciliatory and untelegraphic. Our president shouldn't be spouting out future plans or sharing with the media what was said in privat to Maliki. While it's hard to rally around Bush's "He's the right guy for Iraq" comment about Maliki, it's tough to find someone else who'd do better -- and my bet is that that comment followed a bit of tongue-lashing behind close doors.

"Take al-Sadr out to the woodshed and make a gelding out of him, Nouri, old buddy, or your future will be about as long as a Texas sunset," or some such thing. Of course, Bush is the kind of guy who masks private punches and jabs by taking the blame himself in public:
"One of his frustrations with me is that he believes we've been slow about giving him the tools necessary to protect the Iraqi people," Bush said before boarding Air Force One for the flight home. "And today we had a meeting that will accelerate the capacity for the Prime Minister to do the hard work necessary to help stop this violence."
Is General Pace's redeployment of more troops to Baghdad some of "the tools necessary?" If so, it means that Maliki is going to allow more direct conflict with al-Sadr's forces.

Those who criticise the President of staying the course ignore days like yesterday and today, days that make it clear that he and his generals may well be ahead of Baker-Hamilton and everyone else.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hurricane Season Is Over. Al? Al??

Today marks the end of the hurricane season. Remember last year, when Warmies were saying the year's monstrous hurricane season was caused by global warming? Remember when they said to batten down the hatches because 2006 would be another big year for big swirly things?
"For the 2006 north Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA is predicting 13 to 16 named storms, with eight to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which four to six could become 'major' hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher," added retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. (NOAA, May 22,2006)
Well, they're making excuses this year, not brash predictions.
The mild 2006 Atlantic hurricane season draws to a close Thursday without a single hurricane striking the United States — a stark contrast to the record-breaking 2005 season that killed more than 1,500 people and left thousands homeless along the Gulf Coast. (AP)

Barring a last-second surprise from the tropics, the season will end Thursday with nine named storms, and only five of those hurricanes. This year is the first season since 1997 that only one storm nudged its way into the Gulf of Mexico. (Tampa Trib)
Goes to show what scientists and their fancy models know.

There is not a valid argument against global warming computer models in itself -- models are supposed to predict general trends over time, not specific years -- but it is solid proof that you can't believe every dire prediction the Warmies throw your way.

Less solid but still worthy of your consideration is that predictions of rapid climate change are not worth much, either. If global warming is increasing at some sort of shattering rate, then there is less and less chance for normal to low hurricane seasons like this year's.

Today, 308 blogs posted on this year's hurricane season ... a drop in the bucket compared to the hand-wringing posts that appeared last year, as the scientists launched their predictions that this year would be another big storm year.

While I'm glad that millions of people have now witnessed that you need to take Warmie predictions with a grain of salt, I'm much more glad that even more millions enjoyed a lovely summer and fall without screaming winds and surging storm flows. That's a very good thing.

hat-tip Right Winged; photo: Storm Stock
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Is Abstinence Really To Blame For Uganda's Jump In AIDS Cases?

Those critical of emphasizing abstinence in the battle against AIDS/HIV -- and they are legion -- could be accused of having a gleeful reaction to news that Uganda's incidence of AIDS cases and HIV infections was increasing. After all, the increase showed that Uganda's emphasis on abstinence, and the support for that position extended by the Bush administration and American evangelicals, was killing people.

How great is that?

Am I being too severe? Here's Esther Kaplan of American Prospect writing last summer:
Even in an administration famous for its contempt for science, President Bush's tortured case for abstinence stands out. He committed $1 billion to abstinence-only programs abroad without a shred of scientific evidence that they prevent disease. Casting about for justification, he and the virginity advocates who surround him latched on to one of the developing world's rare success stories: Uganda.

In their fertile imaginations, the East African nation was a fairy-tale place where Christian morality had turned the epidemic around. But their castle in the sky came crashing down in May, on the eve of a United Nations meeting on AIDS, when Uganda's AIDS commissioner announced that after years of decline, new HIV infections had almost doubled from 70,000 in 2003 to 130,000 in 2005. Devastating news.
It seems like she tacked on the last two words because she realized she had a broad grin across her face as she typed up these paragraphs.

But Kaplan and those like her, who refuse to accept abstinence for little reason other than their own personal sexual experience and their twisted feminist ideals that link promiscuity to liberation, is doing a cover-up.

First, her piece makes no reference whatsoever to the fact that the Global Fund, which allocates UN AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria funds, cut off all funding to Uganda in Aug., 2005. (Here are some C-SM posts on that cut: here, here, here, here.) Of course, that's too late to have had much if any impact on the increase in cases reported, but because the Global Fund swears it made the cut due to corruption in the Ugandan health ministry, you have to wonder how efficiently it was working to get the funds out to the field in the preceding years.

I personally think the UN's action was tied in part to Uganda's suppoprt for abstinence, but they've circled the information wagons, and if it was, we'll not find any smoking guns.

Second, there was this little problem with condoms in Uganda during this period. As in, they were defective and had to be recalled. That recall and subsequent mismanagement of the re-introduction of new condoms to the Ugandan market was not a Christian campaign; it was poor manufacturing and government incompetence in handling the crisis. Yet Kaplan does not attribute blame to the lack of condoms in Uganda. In fact, it's just the opposite:
The Lancet, a British medical journal, recently attributed Uganda's surge in new infections to the condom shortage and the ... campaign to remove the "C" from ABC [abstinence, being faithful, condoms). "There is no question in my mind," said Stephen Lewis, the U.N.'s Africa envoy, 10 months into the shortage, "that the condom crisis in Uganda is being driven and exacerbated by the extreme policies that the administration in the United States is now pursuing in the emphasis on abstinence."
There ought to be a lot of doubt in his mind. The condom crisis was page-one news throughout sub-Saharan Africa and a great embarassment to the Ugandan government. Senior officials lost their jobs, and not a word about abstinence was raised as an excuse. It was corruption and incompetence that botched the Ugandan condoms, not the Christians.

Kaplan and the anti-abstinence crusaders also ignore two irrefutable facts: First, the significance of the fact that the infection rate among Uganda's teenagers --those most receptive to the abstinence argument -- is dropping. I frankly don't know if abstinence is the reason for the drop, but I sure would like to before I go off placing any of the blame for this tragedy on Bush and Dobson.

And second, the most important point of all, they are focusing on the increase, not the comparable infection rate. Uganda remains a hallmark for AIDS/HIV success in sub-Saharan Africa. The top 12 infection rates are found in sub-Saharan nations, ranging from Botswana's rate of 213.4 per thousand to Kenya's 35.6. All these nations bought into the UN program of emphasizing the "C" in ABC.

In sharp contrast, Uganda, the only one of these nations that emphasized the "A," is not in the top 15 or 20 or 25 nations. It has the 29th highest infection rate, about half that of #12 Kenya -- 18.8 cases per thousand -- not far from the weighted global average of 14.4 per thousand.

So tell me again, why is pushing abstinence such a bad idea?

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U.S. Decrees: Unhipness For Li'l Kim

We won't be seeing Li'l Kim Jong -Il tooling around Pyongyang on his Sedgeway, iPod loaded and loud with the latest Christina Aguilara hits.

In a long-awaited piece of evidence of diplomatic brilliance by the Bush administration, Washington has decreed that Li'l Kim's favorite capitalist excesses will be be subject to export bans.

No Rolexes, French cognac, plasma TVs, yachts or Harley Davidsons. The sanctions, which the US is actually coordinating through the UN, sure won't harm the NoKo people much -- their abject poverty and harsh repression will continue -- but it's gonna tick off Li'l Kim.

The very personal trade embargo shows the US is well aware of the nature of its enemy and is willing to think of creative ways, short of cruise missiles, to get his attention. Realists may say the bottles of good stuff and tiny electronics will get through anyway, but that won't stop the symbolism from smacking the twerp upside the head.

Quite a contrast from the Clinton administration! Madeline Albrecht presented Li'l Kim with a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan when she visited Pyongyang -- a warm, personal gesture that showed the Clintonistas were well aware of the 5'3" Kim's fondness for roundball.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Will Baker Come Up With A Plan This Good?

The Baker Commission is probably still hunting for the "abracadabra" word that will give their efforts to chart a viable course for Iraq consensus, viability and a chance for success.

They might be well to cut and paste Josh Manchester's "Go Native" approach from today's TCS, slap a fancy cover on it, and call it a day. Manchester's six-point plan is straightforward and makes more sense than any of the approaches I've read to date:
  1. Dramatically expand the training and advisory efforts. More people, more money.
  2. Teach 20,000+ American troops Arabic so they can "lead an attack, plan a patrol, or otherwise advise an Iraqi force.
  3. Give Maliki 60 days to strip the Shi'ite militias of power.
  4. If he can't do it, "declare Iraq's security forces to be in receivership. This is a great point: "It means that the security forces of Iraq no longer answer to the Iraqi government, they answer to the US military. The government will still exist. It will still be a democracy. But it will temporarily lose control of its military. After doing this, purge the Iraqi forces of those loyal to Shi'ite militias."
  5. Create combined US-Iraqi forces. That's why you need 20,000 Arabic-speaking troops, so they can "live, eat, sleep, fight and die with their Iraqi counterparts."
  6. Move support and logistics to the front bases, freeing massive numbers of support troops to come home.
Points 3 and 4 are straightforward ways to deal with the mounting death toll and the existing Iraqi government's unwillingness to rip out the root of the problem. Rip it out and the bombings decrease, satisfaction with the situation at home and in Iraq grows, and the government there will have the opportunity to solidify.

The electorate's discontent with the current policy would be well answered by this approach, it would signal to the Islamofascists that they're taking on an agile and committed enemy, and it would tell the people of Iraq we're partners, not occupiers.

Read more of Manchester's work at his blog, The Adventures of Manchester.

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Praying Or Probing?

As the Islamic groups try to make us feel guilty about feeling good that a bunch of weird-acting imams got kicked off a US Airlines flight last week, emerging facts make it evident they deserved the treatment they received.

As I look at these behaviors, the only thing I can conclude is either they were intent on bringing down the plane (apparently not; no weapons found), or were intent on probing security systems on behalf of someone who would later tray to bring down a plane. Here's what they did, according to WashTimes:
Witnesses said three of the imams were praying loudly in the concourse and repeatedly shouted "Allah" when passengers were called for boarding US Airways Flight 300 to Phoenix.

"I was suspicious by the way they were praying very loud," the gate agent told the Minneapolis Police Department.

Passengers and flight attendants told law-enforcement officials the imams switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks -- two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin.

"That would alarm me," said a federal air marshal who asked to remain anonymous. "They now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane."

A pilot from another airline said: "That behavior has been identified as a terrorist probe in the airline industry."
The paper reports Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation called the imams' removal an act of Islamophobia. It's not; it's just a phobia against crashing in a ball of fire into a building. And Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, the Texas whacko, said, "Understandably, the imams felt profiled,humiliated, and discriminated against by their treatment."

I say good, great. Let them feel that way until they learn how to behave in a country that doesn't much like what radical Islam is doing to us.

Photo: Jim Lowney
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Quote Of The Day: What Political Future? Edition

"Americans know who he is, and have pretty much decided they don't like him."
-- Peter Brown, Quinnipiac University Polling Institute

The recipient of that assessment is none other than John Kerry -- determined to be the least likeable of 20 prominent US politicians. That Kerry will almost certainly not be humbled by the assessment will no doubt drive him even lower.

If he is to have a national political career, Kerry has the formidable task of convincing people they're wrong, that he really is likeable. He's proved how hard that is, since the normal approach, humor, turns to scandal in his unlikeable hands.

Rudy Giuliani's no doubt feeling good, as the most likeable in the Quinnipiac poll. He's followed by Barack Obama (who's likely to fall sharply as soon as people get to know him better) and John McCain, who proves that likeability and arrogance can indeed go together.

Full results are here.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

The Miraculous Henry Waxman

We're told by no less a source than Time Magazine that Henry Waxman is a man to fear, and I believe it because Time tells us his powers are truly awesome:
The walls of his Washington office are covered with framed pens that Presidents from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton used to sign the laws that Waxman helped make a reality: the Clean Air Act ...
Wow. The Clean Air Act was passed in 1963, 11 years before Waxman even got to Congress! That's power! (Time apparently is refering to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977.)

But seriously, Time is right: Waxman's got power, subpoena power. As incoming chair of the House Government Reform Committee, he will be the only committee chair in DC who can issue subpoenas unilaterally; no committee vote needed, and it's too late to change the rules.

Waxman's viciously anti-business and pro over-regulation, so expect a lot of his subpoenas to be directed at companies that have committed the sin of winning too much market share or earning too much profit.

But the real hatred that burns in Henry's heart is Bush, the war, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Halliburton. So how far will he stretch his subpoena powers to make these guys miserable? Oh, about this far:

Hat-tip: Real Clear Politics
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SCOTUS Foils NYT Cover-Up Attempt

The NYT may think it's just hunky dory to tip off Islamic terror-funders to an upcoming FBI raid, then hide under the cover of protecting sources. The Supreme Court disagrees.

With just one sentence, the Supremes dispatched all the NYT power-lawyers and opened up the phone records of reporters Judith Miller and Philip Shenon, who the government thinks called two Islamic charities suspected of funding terror organizations.

As can be expected, AP's story on the matter is all about journalistic freedom and protection of soruces and virtually ignores national security, providing no information about proven cases where Islamic charities in the U.S. worked as fronts for Hezbollah, Hamas and other beheaders and baby killers.

Instead it treats us to eight paragraphs on press freedom and protection of sources, quoting three different sources. Only one counter viewpoint is aired in the 17-paragraph story:
The government says the fact that the reporters relayed disclosures from a government source to "targets of an imminent law enforcement action substantially weakens any claim of freedom of the press."
That appeared in paragraph 15, long after the big guns had been given their opportunity to tell us all about how much more important the press is than the people.

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Our Crumbling Civilization: Zarf's Dilemma Edition

Zarf, a character played by Jeffrey Carlson, right, is a flambouyant rock star on the soap opera All My Children who's on his way to becoming a woman, thanks to the transgenerding process ... a process that makes me cross my legs tightly whenever I think about it.

Anyway, AP tells us Zarf kisses a lesbian character (Bianca) this week. So is he really a gay man who's kissing a gay woman (and why?), or is he a gay woman-to-be who's kissing a lesbian woman , or is he a man who likes women and can't get them, so he's changing into a woman so he can become a lesbian and get women?

And what of poor Bianca? Does she now have to question her own somewhat confused sexuality?

These are the messy thoughts All My Children has left us with. Thank you very much, Exec Producer Julie Carruthers. Why is she dumping this appalling mess on a reportedly Christian nation? Well, she explains to AP:

"All My Children" was looking for something new, and knows its audience is always interested in anything to do with sexuality .... "After 36 years, you start rehashing," she said. "It's inevitable. We didn't want to fall back on the baby-switch story again."

Oh, please! Just rehash the baby-switch story!

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An Uncomfortable Spotlight On Putin

Scotland Yard intends to mount a vigorous investigation into the death of former Russian agent Alexander Litvineko. Writing in today's WSJ, David Satter sees this investigation becoming very uncomfortable for Vladamir Putin:
In the wake of Litvinenko's death, the West must insist on cooperation from the FSB in finding his killers. If that is not forthcoming, it should be assumed that the murder of Litvinenko was ordered by the Russian regime.

Under those circumstances, not only should Russia be expelled from the G-8 but the whole structure of mutual consultation and cooperation would need to be re-evaluated. This is not just a matter of refusing to trivialize a murder. It is also a vital political obligation. Russians of all types are watching to see whether the West will simply swallow this crime or finally react to the rampant criminalization of Russian society. There are forces in Russia that want the country to be part of the West. But to back them, we need to demonstrate that we have moral values that we defend. To do less would be to abandon Russia to the forces of nihilism and obscurantism.
Putin won't care much for that spotlight, which should get close enough to him to pick up the shine on his Oxfords. But there's another spotlight that's firing up, showing Putin for the Soviet-era throw-back that he is: That's the one that's illuminating his efforts to depose of pro-American Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili.

Writing in today's WaPo, Richard Holbrook admits Saakashvili's leadership has not been perfect, but calls the leader "almost everything the United States and the European Union should support."
He led the peaceful 2003 Rose Revolution that overthrew the corrupt regime of Eduard Shevardnadze. He then opened the country to Western investment, presided over a dramatic turnaround in a once-hopeless economy, and instituted massive reforms of the police and civil service.
Hardly the sort Putin wants on his southern border. Especially since Saakashvili is tall and handsome to Putin's petite and mousy. Can't have that! So, says Holbrook:
Putin's methods are brutal. He has expelled at least 1,700 Georgians since October, cracked down on Georgian-owned businesses, made repeated statements about preserving the Russian market for real Russians and demonized Georgians as a criminal class. He has doubled natural gas prices two years running and cut off all direct rail, air, road, sea and postal links between the two countries.

Russia has also waged an aggressive international disinformation campaign to raise doubts about Saakashvili -- I have heard astonishing, wholly undocumented charges about his alleged corruption and his "hot-headed" style in Berlin, Brussels and even Washington. In Tbilisi today, you can hear an ugly word for this that rises out of the depths of 19th-century Russian history: pogrom.
With America focused on Iraq and needing Russian support on Iran and Korea, it's clear Putin thinks he can get away with these sorts of efforts to reconstitute Soviet rule.

He'd better be wrong.

hat-tip: RCP
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Rangel Sounds A Kerryesque Note

Dems ran from John Kerry in the closing days of the campaign because he had dared to say what the increasingly elitist Dem leaders all feel about the military.

Now that the election is over, the word is out: It's OK to knock patriotism, military service and the people who serve. Here's Charlie Rangel yesterday on Fox News:
If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.
View the quote and read more at Right Politics USA.

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Effete Elite Vs. The Third World

Starbucks ... the bane of the campus intelligensia.

You know, those Gaian fundamentalists who let millions die in Africa because they thought it more important to maintain the holy grail against DDT than to eradicate malaria?

Those exemplars of ethics who think it's more important to protect rivers than to bring better, healthier lives to primitive peoples?

Now they've got their Birkenstocks busted over Starbucks. Not that they've ever liked the fantastically successful example of all the benefits of capitalism, mind you. But this time they're on to something big: Starbucks' alleged efforts to squelch Ethiopia's desire to trademark the names of certain Ethiopian coffee beans.

The Times of London breathlessly reports:
Douglas Holt, the L’Oréal Professor of Marketing at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, accused Starbucks of hypocrisy and abuse of power and said that the company was in danger of damaging its name among its educated middle-class customers by opposing Addis Ababa’s attempts to trademark Ethiopia’s coffee varieties in the United States. ...

“In their rash attempt to shut down Ethiopia’s applications, [Starbucks] have placed the Starbucks brand in significant peril. Starbucks customers will be shocked by the disconnect between their current perceptions of Starbucks’ ethics and the company’s actions against Ethiopia,” he said.
First off why should we care a hoot about anything the L’Oréal Professor of Marketing has to say? Maybe if he was the Ultrabrite Professor of Economics ....

Oh, and for the record, Starbucks denies it's acting rashly to stop the trademark applications, although its statement shows they're obviously up to something:
We support the recognition of the source of our coffees and have a deep appreciation for the farmers that grow them. ... Starbucks has never filed an opposition to the Ethiopian government’s trademark application. As always, we are committed to working collaboratively and continuing dialogue with key stakeholders to find a solution that benefits Ethiopian coffee farmers.
Starbucks markets its beans by the names of the locales they're grown in, a practice Ethiopia's action threatens, so there's a dialog going on. Hardly anything to have a tweedy twaddle over.

But here's the point: If all the snobby educated middle-class customers of Starbucks were to take their caramel macchiato business elsewhere and they succeeded in smashing the company, here's just a bit of what their social consciousness would do for the Ethiopian coffee farmers:
  • Potentially cause them to no longer get premium prices for their coffee. Starbucks paid an average price of US $1.28 per pound, which was 23 percent above the average New York “C” price.
  • Continuing access to a pot of $400,000 Starbucks made available to Ethiopian coffee farmers for low interest loans.
  • Continuing Starbucks investments in Ethiopian infrastructure, like the $148K it spent last year to improve water reliability in coffee farming areas, and the $25K it spepnt building two bridges.
  • Improved medical care in town where rare coffee beans are produced, thanks to Starbucks grants to help fund new medical clinics. (source)
So what? Who really cares about the well-being of Ethiopian coffee farmers when there's an opportunity to prattle about about the ethics of a company that's actually doing someing for society ... as opposed to being the L'Oreal Professor of Marketing at Oxford?

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Good Reason For Not Blogging

Regular readers know of my serious addiction to big German V8s. Introducing my new fix -- a white over tan 2005 645ci with 15,000 miles on the odo.

It took most of the day to do the paperwork and now I'm learning all -- and that's a Big A "all" -- there is to learn about the car. Should I program it so the seats recognize who's key is unlocking it and automatically adjusts the seats when the doors are unlocked ... or when the door is opened?

Should I have it chirp when it's locked, or just blink, or chirp or blink?

And then, of course, I have to synchronize my Bluetooth and teach the car to recognize my voice for a hundred or so commands for the phone, navigation, stereo and heat/AC systems.

Finally, I heard it's going to be cold tomorrow morning (that would be "SoCal cold"), and I can't wait to feel that heated steering wheel in my hands!

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

The "No Chance Of Victory" Phenomenon

Just as a mist wraps around a mountain, the anti-war media-political alliance has wrapped its hands around the words "no chance of victory" -- and they like it.

Now we learn that just as we supposedly can't win in Iraq, Nato can't win in Afghanistan. Reports the Times of London:
The British will never win in Afghanistan by military means and should open negotiations with the Taliban, according to the former leader of Pakistan’s forces in the border areas.
The negative prognosticator is Lieutenant-General Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, currently governor of the ungovernable Pakistani North West Fronteir. He's the guy who's been negotiating away any chance of being victorious over rising Taliban influence in his province.

He can't win, so neither can NATO, and why can't they? Well, Aurakzai says, one thing is not enough troops and the other thing is:
“It is no longer an insurgency but a war of Pashtun resistance exactly on the model of the first Anglo-Afghan war.”
That would be the Pashtun resistance of 1839-42. As if one in ten Taliban knows anything about this bit of history.

So we're to believe victory is impossible whenever we fight Muslim countries? Why should we believe that? Because diplomats, politicians and reporters tell us it's so?

Sorry, I'll believe it when I see evidence Allah starts protecting them from bullets. There's a difference between tough to beat and no chance of victory.

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NYT Admits, Stonewalls On Terror Charities

Here's a curious and telling juxtaposition in today's news. First, the lead paragraph of the lead story on the NYT web site:
The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corrupt charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded. (emphasis added)
And here's the lead paragraph and last paragraph of a Michelle Malkin post today:
Blabbermouths at the New York Times, who have been accused by federal prosecutors of tipping off Islamic charities fronting for terror, want Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to protect them ...

The NYTimes' refusal to cooperate with the feds to find illegal leakers in these counterterrorism cases deserves to be on the front page. Spread the word.
Ironically, the NYT article states:
The report says American efforts to follow the financing trails have been hamstrung by a weak Iraqi government and its nascent intelligence agencies; a lack of communication between American agencies, and between the Americans and the Iraqis; and the nature of the insurgent economy itself, primarily sustained by manual transfers of money rather than more easily traceable means.
Add to the list an unconscionable New York Times, quick to leak documents (like the one that is the basis of this story -- a report discredited by experts), willing to aid and abet the enemy, and ruthless in its defense of its reprehensible actions.

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Hagel, Like Dems, Totally Idea-Free

Sen. Chuck Hagel has joined forces with Nancy Pelosi, saying victory is not in the cards in Iraq. In a WaPo editorial, he says it a bit differently ...
There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis -- not the Americans.
... but it's the same thought: A powerless America cannot, and should not, continue to try to promote Democracy as an alternative to Islamic theocratic dictatorships.

And yet, Hagel lets a mere handful of paragraphs go by before saying:
The Middle East is more combustible today than ever before, and until we are able to lead a renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, mindless destruction and slaughter will continue in Lebanon, Israel and across the Middle East.
I'm sorry; I don't get it. Any fruitful Israeli-Palestinian settlement will require some form of stable, reprpesentative government in Palestine. That's obviously what's been missing thus far, so Hagel is pushing us to impose our will on the Palestinians but not on the Iraqis -- and to do it without troops in Palestine. Similarly, a peaceful, democratic Lebanon is impossible so long as there is a brutal, expanisionist, freedom-squelching Syria next door.

He obviously can't make an honest point, yet he keeps making them: Muslims think we're fighting Islam, our stature is declining, the war is destroying our own military infrastructure, it is funded "dishonestly."

Add it all up and it's nothing more than cut and run without a plan. Hagel, like the Dems, just hopes the Baker committee will come up with a magic abracadabra spell, Bush and Murtha will join hands in excited brotherhood, and all the world will see our exit from Iraq as honorable and right.

That won't happen, especially the part about the world seeing our exit as honorable. Europe will gleefully see us as weak and incompetent. The Islamofascists will glorify in it, because they will read it as nothing short of a full victory of fascist powers over freedom. Iraq will get worse, not better.

Hagel, if you're going to attack your party, your president and our military, do it with honor: Have an idea that's better. If you can't do that, your call for an honest withdrawal is dishonest.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Eat Your Heart Out, Borat!

Those crafty Kazaks! Unwilling to let Borat's shuck and jive go unchallenged, they've turned to You Tube to tell the world the truth about "the economic engine of Eurasia!"

I tried to post the ubiquitous You Tube screen to C-SM, but I guess I'm not as crafty as the Kazaks.

Impeachment Watch

Oh boy, oh boy -- impeachment season!

Democratic Underground is all e
xcited about going impeachy on the Prez and Veep and has whipped up 14 articles of impeachment.

But wait! There's less! This is so lame I can't get past Article #1:
1. Leaking classified information by disclosing the identity of Valerie Plame to reporters.

The President and Vice President unlawfully leaked classified information, the identity of a Non-official Cover, Valerie (Wilson) Plame, to a person or persons not authorized to receive such information, namely, Robert Novak, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, and Matt Cooper, a reporter for Time Magazine.

Law violated: National Security Act of 1947.
This is all so old, so proved false, so tired, so not even worth mentioning any more it makes me wonder whether these guys ever, ever pupll their head out of the sand.

Sweet Little Palestinian Grandma

Grandmother of 41, mother of nine, martyr to Allah ... yep, those Palestinians sure are a fine bunch of human beings:
A Palestinian grandmother blew herself up in the Gaza Strip, lightly wounding three Israeli soldiers, in the first suicide attack claimed by Hamas in almost two years.

The mother of nine and grandmother of 41 became the oldest Palestinian suicide bomber at the age of 57, selecting as her target troops operating near her northern Gaza home in Jabaliya, seeking to curb near-daily rocket attacks on Israel.

"Troops saw a woman approaching them in a suspicious manner and identified her carrying an explosive device," an army spokeswoman said.

"They then threw a stun grenade in her direction but she managed to blow herself up," she added, adding that three soldiers were lightly hurt.

Within minutes the armed wing of the Hamas claimed the bombing. This was the Islamist group's first suicide attack since January 2005, when a bomber wounded seven Israeli soldiers in Gaza.

At the next big family gathering, will the 41 grandchildren and nine children sit and tell warm rememberances of dear old Granny and her charming ways? Given the Patheticness of Palestine, the probable answer is yes.

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Bush-Big Oil Link Proved!

Here's the big news all the Bush-bashiers have been waiting for:
If you were a little suspicious of the way in which gasoline prices just happened to dive just before this month's midterm elections, this bit of news won't exactly put your mind at ease: After dropping 84 cents between Aug. 11 and Nov. 3, gas prices are up five cents in the first Lundberg Survey released after the Nov. 7 election.
That's from a post on Salon's War Room that had logged almost 700 Digg-Its when I viewed it on Wednesday. Yep, the Bush-Big Oil conspiracy theorists are lovin' this one: Gas prices fell 87 cents in the 12 weeks before the election, then rose five cents after the vote tally.

Of course, the story proves one thing to be definitively true: If there is a Bush-Big Oil conspiracy, it's not worth much.

The other thing it proves, as if this needs any more proving, is that conspiracy-loving Bush-haters love the emotion of hate more than the cold reality of facts. All you have to do is read the Lundberg Survey item linked to the War Room post to find:
  • Heating oil purchases -- not much of a factor before the election -- are more of a factor now.
  • OPEC -- not Bush's Texas cronies -- has been cutting production, putting upward pressure on prpices.
  • Neverthess, Lundberg expects continued price stability, not more increases.
Let's not let facts get in the way of our fears, eh?

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Quote Of The Day: Putin Disputin' Edition

"You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilized men and women. [You have] no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value."
-- Alexander Litvinenko, shortly before his death

Did Vladamir Putin's henchmen poison Alexander Litvineko? It's a charge that will probably never be proven.

Is Putin worthy of the charges brought against him by Litvineko on his deathbed? Consider this, from
The Russian President said the death was a tragedy, but he had not seen any definitive proof that it was a "violent death". He also brushed off suggestions linking him to the case.
Like OJ Simpson, Putin must not be spending much time looking for definitive proof. And like OJ Simpson, the charges -- at least of being an uncivilized hater of freedom -- are true.

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Carnage On A Slow News Day

As the funerals wend their way through the crowded streets of Sadr City, we have to ask ourselves, who are the insurgents in Iraq playing to?

Certainly not the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, as five car bombs exploded yesterday, killing over 200 and injuring even more.

But consider this: Thanksgiving is one of the slowest news days in America, a day that high doses of tryptophan ensure that the only news generated in the U.S. is that presidents and senators also fall asleep in their easy chairs after big Thanksgiving feasts.

Never before have the Iraqi terrorist insurgents set off five bombs at once, killing so many. That it happened on Thanksgiving, when there's no other news and our hearts are open with compassion, is no less an accident than it was that Washington chose Christmas Eve to cross the Delaware.

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Our Crumbling Society: Sexy Nurse Edition

If Jon Basso should be under attack, it's for the fat content of his food, not the skin content of his waitresses' uniforms. But it's the skimpy nurse costumes at his Heart Attack Grill -- home of the Bypass Burger and Flatline Fries -- that has caught the wrath of the humorless and politically correct.

Let's get this over with. Here's rather conservative example of a Heart Attack Grill nurse uniform (there are skimpier):

I'm a big fan of pretty women, but not of Hooters-type uniforms that exploit their sexuality -- and that's something Basso's pushing to an exploitative limit.

He probably thinks he's quite creative with his entire restaurant concept, and the part of it that mocks health concerns does have a creative flair. But to dress young women in costumes like this reveals more than thigh and cleavage -- it also demonstrates a lack of creativity, a falling back to the tried, true and tawdry, a sign that perhaps his burgers aren't tasty enough to make it on their own.

However, I'm not seeing Nurse Betty in the photo as the reason for putting this story in the Our Crumbling Society chronicles. No, that's the result of Sandy Summers of the Center for Nursing Advocacy, who's quoted in today's LAT:
"The endless association of sex and nurses leads people to believe that maybe nurses really are available to provide for the sexual needs of patients and physicians. It degrades the professional image, it demoralizes practicing nurses and drives any self-respecting person away from considering the profession."
For Political Correctness to survive, the perpetrators must feel themselves superior and the people of America inferior. There's no one who can't see Heart Attack Grill's waitresses as a gag. People may see the uniforms as an indication that waitresses may be available for sex, and it may drive some people away from waitressing, but "any self-respecting person" who leaves nursing because of a waitress in white stockings and pink pumps doesn't have enough smarts to respect hereself.

Summers even has demanded, among other things, that Basso make it clear his waitresses are not real health care professionals -- one of the only things she's requested in a long-running fued that Basso's complied with, since it points out how ridiculous Summers and the entire PC movement is.

Basso and his sort are certainly signs of our crumbling civilization themselves, but its Summers and the legions she represents -- not of nurses, but of humorous, self-righteous idiots -- that led to this post. To her, a rotting laurel wreath as a demigod of our crumbling times.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day

October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Here In Its Entirety ...

Some news items are so good they need to be reproduced in their entirety. From James Taranto's Best of the Web, and be sure to click the headline's link:
Womb With a View
London's Daily Mail offers proof that human beings are not animals:

An unborn elephant, tiny but perfect in every way. A dolphin swimming in the womb, just as it will have to swim in the ocean the moment it is born. An unborn dog panting. Each one amazing and now, thanks to these remarkable pictures, they can be seen for the first time.

Using an array of technology, the images reveal what until now has been a secret--exactly how animals develop in the womb.
The unborn elephant, shown at the link, is quite something to see. By contrast, as we all know from reading the newspapers, there is no such thing as an unborn human being. We develop by a little-understood process in which a clump of cells, similar to a tumor or a fingernail, miraculously becomes a baby at the moment the entire clump is exposed to air.

That humans and animals come into the world in such radically different ways pretty much demolishes the notion that we are the product of Darwinian evolution, doesn't it?
Truly, truly.

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Election 2008 Preview

Here's some good news for the GOP:

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Reuters ... Always The Unexpected

Lebanon sliding towards God knows what.

The UN saying civilian deaths in Iraq reached an all-time high in October.

Power changing polls in Washington.

Big news for sure ... but at Reuters, on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday the number one story is a little number headlined, Transvestite Killings on the Rise in Guatamala.

What makes this item fascinating to Reuters? In normal times, with normal media outlets, we might attribute it to the tawdry, prurient nature of the story. After all, if sex sells, shouldn't deviant and particularly disgusting sex sell all the more?

But this is Reuters and I think the editors had something else in mind when moving this story to the top of their list: This is a gay rights issue for them. Yes, these freak whores ought to be celebrated as vanguards of human achievement in Reuters-think. Oh yes, their deaths are especially tragic and worthy of extra attention.

Get your minds around the mindset evidenced by this example of Reuters' news priority, and everything else they do will begin to make sense.

Oh, and by the way, over at AP the #1 story this afternoon is Walters: O'Donnell-Ripa Feud Is Over. That's better!

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GOP Gaining Pro-War Seats

Jean Schmidt has been certified as the winner in the tight 2nd Congressional District race in Ohio -- another argument against those who say the 2006 election gave the Dems a mandate on the war.

Schmidt, appointed after the resignation of Rob Portman, is a strong supporter of the War on Terror, voting consistently to expand our fighting and intelligence-gathering capabilities and against McCain's efforts to needlessly restrict interrogation proceedures.

Another consistent supporter of the war effort, Heather Wilson, brought the GOP one more seat, as her opponent conceded in a race with an 875-vote margin. Wilson is not the lightning rod Schmidt is, but it's another vote for Bush's policies.

According to WaPo, Republicans lead in all three of the remaining contested races. One has been certified the winner, but the sour grapes Dem opponent has not yet conceded to the will of the people; two hold good but not yet certified leads. The GOP could pick up a fourth seat, as Texan Henry Bonilla face a Dem challenger in a run-off Dec. 12.

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Gemayel Death: Political Nose-Counting?

Happier days ... the wedding of Pierre Gemayel to Patricia Daif at St. Catherine's Church in Beiut on Sept. 25, 1999.

Once senses there were few such moments for the Gemayel family. For three generations, they have been political leaders of Lebanese Christians, and for this he was gunned down, presumably at the behest of Syria, or by Syria-funded Hezbollah.

The Lebanon Star reports that the assassination may be linked to attempts to stop the investigation of another suspected Syrian assassination, that of prime minister Rafik Hariri. Under this theory, the assassinations are nothing more than a violent approach to political nose-counting:

The elimination of a member of a Cabinet controlled by the parliamentary majority March 14 Forces had been anticipated by key members of the anti-Syrian coalition such as Samir Geagea, the head of the Lebanese Forces, who said explicitly on Friday that a minister could be assassinated in an attempt by the opposition to "topple" the government.

Hizbullah and the Amal Movement withdrew their five ministers from the Cabinet on November 11. The March 14 Forces accuse the Shiite bloc and its allies of trying to prevent the formation of an international tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

With Gemayel's death and the resignation of Environment Minister Yaacoub Sarraf on November 13, the Cabinet has lost a total of seven ministers in the last two weeks.

The removal of nine ministers would render the 24-member Cabinet incapable of assembling a quorum.

Normally, the assassination would be seen as a political embarassment to Syria, as it is on the eve of meetings with Iran and Iraq that would raise it above "terror state" status in the eyes of many. But with Syria, it's entirely likely the assassination was timed to give Daddy's boy Bashar additional swagger at a pivotal moment.

Syria's US Embassy issued a statement saying just the opposite -- that someone, who knows who?, assassinated Gemayel just to diminish Syria's stature at a critical moment.

Isn't there a psychological condition where you habitually blame others for what you're guilty of? Is it Assad Syndrome?

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Russian Muslims Growing In Number, Radicalism

"Two decades ago, the Sobornaya Mosque was the only Islamic house of worship allowed in the Soviet Union. It stood largely empty, filling only with the occasional large foreign delegation from an Islamic country.

"Today, it is one of four mosques in Moscow serving a Muslim population of about 2.5 million. On Fridays and holy days, it overflows with worshippers, leaving many to kneel on newspapers outside, their foreheads pressed against the concrete."

With examples like that, the WashTimes reports today that by mid-century, Muslims will make up more than half of the population of Russia.

Again, more than half of the population of the nation with the second largest number of nukes on the planet. By 2015, they are expected to be the majority of conscripts into the Russian Army. So internationally and domestically, this is a change that has even greater impact than the fall of the Soviet system.

It's the same story as Europe's -- immigration and a vast difference in birth rates. Muslims from Central Asia and elsewhere are flowing into Russia in vast numbers and they are multiplying at even greater numbers.

The CIA factbook reports the national fertility rate to be 1.28 children per woman, and WashTimes says the Moscow birth rate is just 1.1 children per woman. Meanwhile, the fertility rate for Moscow's Tatars lis six children per woman, and the Chechen and Ingush communities are averaging 10 children per woman.

The self-centered West meets expansionist Islam.

Paul Goble, a specialist on Islam in Russia from the University of Tartu in Estonia, told WashTimes that Russia's Muslims, who are now mostly secular because of Soviet repression of relition, are groing more influenced by radical Islam, "especially if they feel excluded from Russian society."

Sounding a note of chilling caution, Goble is quoted:
Western governments should encourage Russia to integrate Muslims into society and avoid discrimination, he said. "When Muslims are in the majority in Russia, they'll remember whether we spoke out for their rights or failed to."
And you know we can't afford to offend Muslims; if we do, they are fully justified in blowing up our buildings, us and our children, right?

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Science Ascendant?

The first time I saw the photo above, my response was awed and immediate:

What a powerful God we have!

Of course, others had different reactions. The response of Carolyn Porco, a senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., was more like this:
Let’s teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome — and even comforting — than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know.
Porco's quote appears in the most e-mailed story in today's NYT, a must-read for anyone interested in either God or science or both, A Free-for-All on Science and Religion. It's misnamed; it's really a pile-on, not a free-for-all, as it describes a conference funded by anti-God money man Robert Zeps designed to not find common ground between science and religion, but to promote science over religion.

Here are just a few quotes from the article:
  • “Anything that we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done and may in the end be our greatest contribution to civilization.”

  • I am utterly fed up with the respect that we — all of us, including the secular among us — are brainwashed into bestowing on religion."

  • “What concerns me now is that even if you’re as brilliant as Newton, you reach a point where you start basking in the majesty of God and then your discovery stops — it just stops."
To those of us who hold a life without God as an empty life indeed, these are troubling thoughts -- even if we can rest in the fact that science cannot replicate the giving of life, and until it can, God reigns supreme. Still, that's metaphysical, and here on the earlthy plane we have more reason than ever to be troubled.

As fundamental Islam sweeps the world and the headlines, it is eroding the trust many non-religious people have that religion, even if it's not their thing, is not particularly harmful. Now, they're seeing fundamentalism in as life-threatening, science-squelching, freedom-hating -- and they don't have the understanding needed to differentiate between Christian and Muslim fundamentalism.

Fascist Islam does indeed pose a grave threat to our civilization -- but it's not a threat too great for God to endure.

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Queen Hillary Campaigns Too Regally

$13,000 worth of flowers, mostly for fund-raising events and as thank-yous for donors. She laid out $27,000 for valet parking, $1.1 million for pollster Mark Penn and $930,000 for message maven Mandy Grunwald.

All in all, NYT reports, Hillary Clinton blew through $30 million in a slam-dunk campaign, leaving her with about the same cash on hand as her probably 2008 rivals -- and that's ticking off some long-time Clinton supporters. Says the NYT:
Yet the way she spent the money troubled some of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, many of whom have been called on repeatedly over the years to raise and give money for Bill Clinton's two presidential campaigns, his legal expenses, his library, his global antipoverty and AIDS-fighting program and now his wife’s political career. One Clinton supporter said it would become harder to tap repeat donors if it appeared that the money was not being well spent.
I think they'll pony up just fine when the time comes, and if the don't, Hill's $30 mil bought her an awesome fundraising list.

The real significance is the cavalier ease with which she spends other people's money -- no surprise, of course, but a stern warning of what's to come if the Shrike of the Hudson makes it to the White House.

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Quote Of The Day: Corporate Immorality Edition

"They wanted to offer us millions of dollars. Millions of dollars for, like, 'Oh, I'm sorry' money. But they were still going to air the show. That's what the ironic thing is ... they were going to do the show."
-- Denise Brown

Nicole Brown Simpson's sister, always a pain in OJ's neck, said today that News Corp. offered her familiy and the Goldman family cash she described as "hush money" tied to the now-cancelled "If I Did It" TV special and book.

If true, it's just more evidents of the wretched morality that's evident at the network Rupert runs.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

So Who's Signs Are They?

Something is very obvious as we look at these photos of the anti-Bush demonstrations in Indonesia ...
... something that's been bugging me ever since I saw the first report ...

... who's printing the signs? The signs are well-worded, very well executed graphically and obviously designed to play to America and English-speaking world, not to Indonesia.

The signs are part a well-organized campaign to diminish Bush and his policies on a global scale, just as was the recruiting and paying of demonstrators and the obviously carefull staging and media relations campaign that surrounded the demonstrations.

So who paid for the signs? I'm guessing it was either George Soros or an Islamofascist organization.

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