Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Iran's Hostage Nab Fracturing Mullahland?

Is Iran together enough to manage the British hostage crisis, or are internal cracks widening under the pressure? Perhaps the latter, reports the Times of London:

THE fate of the 15 British marines and sailors held in Tehran may depend on the outcome of a power struggle between two of Iran’s top generals, write Uzi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin.

According to an Iranian military source, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards has called for them to be freed.

Major-General Yahya Rahim Safavi is said to have told the country’s Supreme National Security Council on Friday that the situation was “getting out of control” and urged its members to consider the immediate release of the prisoners to defuse tension in the Gulf.

However, Safavi’s intervention was reportedly denounced by another senior general at a meeting of high-ranking commanders yesterday.

Yadollah Javani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ political bureau, was said to have accused him of weakness and “liberal tendencies”. Javani is said to have demanded that the prisoners be put on trial.

I'm not sure how the paper got the story or how accurate it is, but it very well could be dead-on because regimes as radical as Iran's are intrigue traps.

There's opportunity here to put some hurtful pressure on the cracks within the Iranian government. It'll take some very smart work by Britain and its allies, and a willingness to keep the kidnapped sailors at risk in order to keep the pressure on and not give in to the appeasers.

There are so many ways to handle a crisis like this wrong, and few ways to do it right. Let's hope.

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A Hat-Tip To Jimmy's AG

There's not much I like about Jimmy Carter and his administration, now long-gone but continuing to cause problems. I found one today in, of all places, the LATimes.

There, an op/ed by Pepperdine constitutional law prof Douglas W. Kmiek describes how Carter's AG Griffen Bell stood up to Carter, and in doing so protected the separation of powers guaranteed by the Constitution.
In the aftermath of Watergate, President Carter directed Atty. Gen. Griffin Bell to prepare legislation that would make the attorney general an appointed post for a definite term, subject to removal only for cause. Carter's idea was to keep the attorney general independent of presidential direction to ensure that the Justice Department's authority would never again be abused for political purposes, as it had been during the ethically troubled Nixon presidency.

Despite Carter's noble intent, Bell refused. In a little-known memorandum to the president dated April 11, 1977, he explained why. Any law that restricted the president's power to remove the attorney general — and, by inference, to fire any U.S. attorney — would likely be found unconstitutional. The president, Bell reasoned, is held accountable for the actions of the executive branch in its entirety, including the Justice Department; he must be free to establish policy and define priorities, even in the legal arena. "Because laws are not self-executing, their enforcement obviously cannot be separated from policy considerations," Bell wrote.

Carter argued that the attorney general is different from other Cabinet officers. The job entails dual responsibilities: carrying forward White House policies like any other Cabinet official, and representing the law of the United States, whether it coincides with the president's policies or not. Bell agreed, but he found that insufficient to justify separating the attorney general and subordinate U.S. attorneys from presidential direction.
Chief Justice William Howard Taft's opinion in Myers vs. United States (1926) was the foundation of Bell's position, Kmiek writes.
Congress enacts different types of laws, the chief justice opined. Some laws require close supervision by the president, while others draw upon the expertise found within the specific agencies of government. Much law, however, generally empowers the executive, and when subordinates perform these functions, "they are exercising not their own but [the president's] discretion," the court said. "Each head of a department is and must be the president's alter ego in the matters of that department where the president is required by law to exercise authority."

The court's analysis did not deny the unique nature of the Justice Department. Indeed, Taft acknowledged that there may be duties that require evenhandedness from executive officers, "the discharge of which the president cannot in a particular case properly influence or control."
Kmiek notes that the Senate has every right to inquire whether the White House or AG AG's minions sought to improperly influence a particular case, but "has no legitimate basis to object if it turns out the U.S. attorneys were removed because they failed to bring the cases the president or his attorney general sought to give emphasis."

So it's up to AG AG: Can Gonzales convince the Senate that the eight went because they didn't follow directives, or were they fired because they refused to be political hacks pursuing cases wrought from politics, not law?

Talk about a grey area! It's just the sort of greyness in which the Dem leadership thrives -- and, I'm afraid, it's also the murky place that is beyond Gonzales' capabilities to clearly and forcefully illuminate. It's not that the facts aren't there for him to use; it's that the Bush Administration has a long record of being unable to forcefully defend itself.

This is as much a non-scandal as the Plame Game, which the administration was incapable of stopping, and it's looking like only the Dems took lessons from Plame. They've become as capable as making something out of nothing as the GOP has become incapable of stopping them.

hat-tip: Real Clear Politics

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Barbie Vs. The Mullahs

Strong men don't beat women, and strong societies don't beat their people. Weaknesses, inadequacies and fears drive men and societies to lash out at or repress those important to them, so a sign of a society's strength is its ability to live without fear of its people or policies designed to cover inadequacies.

That's why in America we have to suffer through flag-burners and have to extend rights to our enemies. It's why things we know are bad for society, like pornography and attacks on our core beliefs, are allowed to exist.

And that's why in Iran, the Mullahs area afraid of Barbie.

Here's the story, from Thomas P.M. Barnett's The Pentagon's New Map, who is writing about the difficulties some countries have with opening their doors to globalization and the prosperity and freedoms it brings:

My favorite example of this effect is what happened to Barbie, the toy doll for young girls, when she decided to launch her one-woman invasion of Iran. Barbie apparently infiltrated Iranian toy stores at some point in the 1990s, exploiting the retaiil networks of the global economy. Soon after, the government-backed children's agency labeled Barbie a "Trojan horse" for Western influence, complete with her revealing attire.

Despite -- or perhaps because of -- this official warning, Barbie apparently proved too popular with young Iranian girls. Eventually, concerned local officials engineered a counterattack -- the moon-faced Sara doll clad head to toe in an Islamic Chador. But this officially approved anti-Barbie was not enough to stem Barbie's negative influence, and so orders went out to local police to detain Barbie whenever she was found. Barbie has become a doll on the run.
I can see why the story is Barnett's favorite, as it poses a big, tough nation against a tiny plastic doll, and all the openness of a global society against all the dogma and fear of a religious state that exhibits one of the hallmarks of a non-globalized society: The repression of women.

To accept Barbie is too much for the Mullahs. They would have to accept skirts on their women's hips and independence in their women's hearts and minds. It is too much for their non-global Islamic society to endure, and they know it, so they have to take away a freedom from their women and enforce it through their police.

As the father of three daughters, I am far more familiar with Barbie than I would like to be, and I'm not a big fan. She exposes more skin than I'd like, those big boobs and tiny waist seem likely to create self-image problems, and the clothes are an invitation to too much materialism.

But we're a strong family in a strong society, so all three Incredible Daughters were allowed to have their Barbies -- not a Sara in sight -- and all three have turned out, well, incredible. They don't dress like harlots, they shop at a level of womanly normalcy (i.e., somewhere between five and ten times more than I do), and they are self-assured and confident.

It's that last part that frightens the Mullahs so. For whatever reasons, Islam has determined that it needs to keep its women down, bound and unfree to achieve their best. So they shut the door on globalization and its Barbie nightmares, feeling it is better to deprive their entire population of wealth and health than to risk losing their power to impose their will on their people.

Wherever you are, Iran Barbie, keep fighting!

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Friday, March 30, 2007

It's Easter, Time To Bash The Christians!

Play this scenario in your head: A hotel in trendy New York decides to attract customers, so it opens the Kwanza season with some new art in its gallary: A statue of a lynched black farm work, sculpted out of marshmallow.

Or maybe on the eve of Ramadan, they showcase in the gallery a statue of Mohammed finely crafted in lamb kabobs.

Not a chance. That would take some guts, but the Roger Smith Hotel in Manhattan has no guts; it just has the routine disregard for Christians that's so prevalent among the PC set. The hotel "boldly" launched a big pre-Easter publicity push hyping a major new piece in its gallery: Christ, nude, crucified, made out of 200 pounds of chocolate.

The "artist," Cosimo Cavallara, thinks himself a great wit; he named the work, "My Sweet Lord." How bold. How avant guard. How publicity-mongering. How juvenile.

Christians were not amused, says Catholic News Service:
"The media have reported that a so-called 'work of art,' manifestly intended to offend the Christians of our community, will be displayed during Holy Week in the Roger Smith Hotel in Manhattan," Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York, said in a statement.

"It is a scandalous carving of Jesus Christ allegedly made out of chocolate. What the Roger Smith Hotel would hope to achieve by this sickening display, no one seems to know. The Catholic community is alerted to this offense of our faith and sensitivities. This is something we will not forget," Egan added.
New Yorkers, beware. Stay safely clear of the Roger Smith Hotel unless you want to risk being caught up in the rioting mob of Christians who will no doubt be forming soon, throwing rocks, chanting anti-anti-Christian slogans and demanding the decapitation of the hotel and gallery operators.


Nothing will happen, and PC artists, thinking themselves so very bold, will continue to offend Christians in the name of art. They will get the praise of critics, the adulation of their artsy friends, and take no risk whatsoever ... at least on this mortal plane.

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Kids, Courts, Government And Free Speech

I've always found it interesting that current news often creates a diarama in the foreground of older news that is just reaching the courts. As Tinker v. DesMoines, the landmark decision on the extent of freedom of speech in high school, comes up for a challenge before the Supreme Court, the world marches on, presenting us with examples that underscore the importance of the case.

Tinker grew out of the Vietnam era, when a couple high schoolers were suspended for wearing anti-war T-shirts. It's been a tough issue for the courts ever since, with the basic rule now being along the line of, "As long as they don't interrupt the school's purpose of education, anything goes."

As high school freedom of speech and Tinker come before the Court for a new review, from different sides of the world two very different stories frame Tinker with new urgency and clarity. First, from New Hampshire:
HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) - Some parents are protesting the "sex" edition of the student newspaper at Winnacunnet High School. Several said they were especially offended by a photograph of two women kissing under the headline, "Why men love women who love women," a quiz question about anal sex, and an interview with an unnamed custodian who said he had found a vibrator in the girls' shower.

"Those articles offended me personally as a parent," said Venus Merrill, a school board member. "It's not something you want to read with your 10-year-old and it's not something that should be going home."

Principal Randy Zito said the Winnachronicle had crossed the line of responsible reporting and that he had dealt with the problem privately. He also said he had pulled copies of the paper that normally would have been sent to middle schools in the cooperative school district.

The newspaper's faculty adviser defended the editors' decisions and said the February edition of the paper was intended to inform students, not shock people—although they knew it would stir controversy.

"The kids wrote the articles and came up with the topic," said adviser Carol Downer. "They didn't go out to cause controversy, but the Winnachronicle is also not a P.R. piece for the high school. This is a place for students to express their view and talk about the issues that are troubling the student body."

The newspaper is not reviewed in advance of publication by administrators. The school board has not discussed the controversy in a public meeting, but parent Paula Wood, of Seabrook, said she wants it on the agenda for the next one.

Under Tinker, parent Venus Merrill may not have much to say about the newspaper. If the girls in the photo were students at the school, that could disrupt education and be grounds for stopping publication. Anal sex? That's probably not something Tinker would meddle with.

Abe Fortas, who famously said in the Tinker decision that freedom of speech doesn't end at the schoolhouse door, probably didn't anticipate school newspapers writing about anal sex and vibrators; we just don't know how he would have differentiated political protest from sexual messages.

Meanwhile in Europe, there's a flare-up between the EU and Poland:

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The European Parliament is poised to investigate the legality of draft restrictions against discussion of homosexuality in Polish schools, if a bill is formally proposed. But a leading NGO has already expressed concern over civil liberties in Poland.

Warsaw is planning to ban discussions on homosexuality in schools and educational institutions across the deeply orthodox Roman Catholic country, with teachers set to be fired, fined or imprisoned if they violate the rules. Openly gay teachers would also be in line to lose their jobs.

The European Parliament's committee on civil liberties discussed the Polish ideas on Tuesday (20 March) and decided to launch a study into the compatibility of such legislation with EU rules, if the bill is ever officially submitted to the Polish lower house.

"The disturbing proposals to outlaw discussion of homosexuality raise serious concerns about the commitment to fundamental rights in Poland," said Dutch green MEP Kathalijne Buitenweg in a statement after the meeting.

"It is shocking that the government of a modern European country would even consider such draconian legislation. The promotion of gay hatred is the antithesis of EU anti-discrimination rules and the Polish government must publicly reject this approach," she added.
Odd, isn't it, that disallowing the teaching of homosexuality is seen as "the promotion of gay hatred?" Be that as it may, this case frames a counter-extreme to cases like that unfolding in New Hampshire.

To look at Poland's proposed restrictions under a Tinker lens, imagine a school newspaper running a story calling for a ban on the teaching of homosexual issues and the expulsion of gay teachers. Such an article, offensive as it may be to Lib sensitivities, would certainly be allowed.

Libs pushing for expansion of free speech through a more liberal interpretation of Tinker need to be aware that the decision would allow more conservative actions -- like challenging the imposition of the homosexual agenda in the classroom -- not just liberal messages. And while Libs like big government, they can see in Poland's proposed new law the risks that come with letting government control too much of education.

Conservatives offended by the New Hampshire newspaper (or a "bong hits for Jesus" T-shirt, as is going before the Court now) and hoping for a more narrow definition of free speech on campus should pause as they consider the EU's heavy-handed meddling in Poland's affairs, which is very parallel to states rights issues here in America. Do we want federal law dictating what can or cannot be said in our schools, or should that be left to local school boards?

Me? I prefer that schools be places of learning. Part of that learning experience is to give the students the chance to debate hot issues, and part of it is the opportunity to see adults acting intelligently. That means principals have to actually think, be role models and take actions.

Sometimes, letting free speech rule makes sense and spawns debate and learning. Sometimes defining the limits of free speech and prohibiting certain actions makes sense and spawns debate and learning. If the standing policy is "anything goes all the time," students will not learn anything useful, just as will be the case if the policy is "anything controversial must be avoided."

Of course, my idea requires bold principals who are not afraid to act. Don't laugh; it's not impossible. It is what we should ask of those to whom we entrust our children's education, and failure to model effective moral clarity should be grounds for dismissal.

Hat-tips: Breitbart and Brussels Journal

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Are Surrender Hawks Now Our Troops' Friends?

The Out of Iraq Caucus, the hard-left, flag-waving (as long as it's white) passle of House Dems (natch!) that want out of Iraq immediately, may be the best friends of right-thinking Americans in coming weeks.

How can that be? How can a group advance our cause if it's got founders like these?
  1. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Chair, Co-Founder
  2. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Co-Founder
  3. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Co-Founder
  4. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), Co-Founder
  5. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Co-Founder
  6. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Co-Founder
  7. Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.), Co-Founder
  8. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Co-Founder
Others among the 80 members are Dennis Kucinich, first Muslim in Congress Keith Ellison, Louisiana cold (frozen) cash man William Jefferson and the PA congressman with the most ghetto sounding name on the Hill, Chaka Fattah.

The Out of their Minds ... er, Out of Iraq ... Caucus is responsible for the hard July 1, 2008 deadline for getting out of Iraq. (Handy, isn't' it, how that would supposedly remove Iraq as a campaign issue, much to the relief of any Dem candidate?) The Caucus fought for it, only supported the bill when hard lines were set, and now that they've got what they want, they're sticking to it, even as the competing House and Senate Iraq funding/shut-down measures move to conference.

The Senate bill's more distant pull-out mandate won't synch with the Caucus, many of whom see even July 1 as too late a deadline. Today's LATimes talks about future headaches for Reid and Pelosi as they try to get the Caucus to back off from their hardliner position:
There were already signals of the potential complications that lay ahead, however.

Freshman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) — a vehement war critic who was among the last liberals to get behind the House measure last week — said Thursday that he would oppose any bill that did not retain the House's firm timelines.

"The timelines and the deadlines are the only thing that got me to support it," said Ellison, who has called for a quick conclusion to the war. "And even then, that was a stretch." ...

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who had urged his colleagues in the Out of Iraq Caucus to back the bill, cautioned that softening the pullout deadlines would risk defections. "If we substantially weaken the timelines, I'd have a real problem with that," he said.
Moderate Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, as well as Republican Sens. Gordon H. Smith of Oregon and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, provided the margin of victory.

Nelson has said he can't support a bill setting a firm deadline for withdrawal.

Pryor may also have concerns about tougher deadlines.
The GOP has the votes to sustain a Bush veto no matter which way the Out of Iraq Coalition feels about what comes out of Conference, but we could use another spectacle of inept Dem Congressional leadership and a heap of pro-terrorist, anti-security quotes from the white flag Dems.

Against the rhetoric of these guys, the rhetoric of Bush sounds very good:
"We stand united. We expect there to be no strings on our commanders."
No one wants war, but even fewer want to lose a war, so the Out of Iraq Coalition stands poised to help America understand which party better represents their interests and the interests of their nation.

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Amazing Reading

The results of my first Watcher's Council vote for the most interesting blog entry of the week is in and it's pretty exciting to see that the two articles I liked best came in first and second.

Topping the list was Demographics and the Medicalization of Human Existence from Eternity Road. It delves into the interplay between the Baby Boomer mindset, moral relativism and death -- legalized death. As we Boomers used to say many years ago, "Heavy, Man."

Next, Student Press Rights from The Colossus of Rhodey, which along with #3 Tinker Must Be Preserved from Rhymes With Right investigate the question of free speech rights in high schools. Colossus included some interesting parallels that showed the fallacy of left-think on this matter, which is why it edged out Rymes with Right for me.

Rounding out the rankings:

Tied at 3, 3 Card Monte -- the Palestinian aid Scam Continues, Joshuapundit

Tied at 4, ahem, NanFran's Cool Investments, Cheat Seeking Missiles and O Believers, Done With Mirrors

Tied at 5, Politicizing Science, Right Wing Nut House and Dollars (and respect) for Dahlan, Soccer Dad

And rounding out, tied at 6th, More Hollywood Idiocy: "Wristcutters: A Love Story," The Education Wonks and Greece and Mesopotamia: Origins of Greek Thought, The Glittering Eye

Each Council member also submits a non-Council post for review. Michael Yon won this assembly of great posts with Tabla Rosa, a history of his reporting from Iraq, and my favorite entry, Iranian Machinations: Sun Tzu Would Be Pleased by Kobayashi Maru, came in second. I thought Kobayashi's analysis of the current Iran/Britain confrontation was exceptionally lucid.

I also liked Flopping Aces' Still Spewing Moron Emissions: Sean Penn, a fondness which was a bit unrequited by the Council, but still, it's a very, very funny read.

You can see how the other non-Council submissions fared at Watcher of Weasels.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Warmie Silliness Over Icemelt

If all the Earth's ice melted, oceans would rise by over 60 meters (200 feet). Sell the beach house, Sadie!

Better yet, buy all the beach houses that frightened Warmies are putting on the market so they can move inland, neglecting as they do to take note of the word "if." As it turns out, it's a mighty big if, says some folks who know a thing or two about ice: the Russians.

Nicolai Osokin, a glacialist with the Russian Institute of Geology writes that Russia's climate models show no such catastrophe is likely to happen any time in the next 1,000 years.
Our institute has prepared an atlas of the world's snow and ice resources, which describes all the ice on the earth and even offers a map of the world without ice. It is, however, a model, not a forecast. Yet there are forecasts warning that if the global warming seen at the end of the 20th century continues for several decades, a lot of ice in the Artic Ocean will melt.
Well, forget that. Melting Artic ice has no impact on sea levels because the volume of water created by melting ice is equal to the volume of water ice dissipates when floating. It's Antarctica and Greenland that we need to watch.
The melting of this ice could lead to a catastrophe. But is there any reason to panic? The temperature rise of 3-6 degrees Celsius over the next century promised by pessimists could not have a significant influence on the Antarctic.
Why is that? Well, because the average temperature in Antarctica is 40 degrees Celcius below zero. Did the Warmies forget to tell you that?

Osokin also confirms that permafrost has been receding in the Siberian Artic, just as the Warmies fret about -- but:
Today, scientists say that the melting of the permafrost has stalled, which has been proved by data obtained by meteorological stations along Russia's Artic coast.
If temperatures are rising -- and Osokin says they are -- why is the melting of permafrost not expanding? Well, it turns out it's one of the those tricky little global balance things:
An important factor is the snow cover. Global warming reduces it, therefore making the heat insulator for the permafrost thinner. Then even weak frosts are enough to freeze the ground deeper below the surface.
Did the Warmie models consider that? Or will we be accused of censorship if we suggest altering their findings with truth from the field?

And by the way, before fretting too much about the permafrost, remember that the earth is frozen as deep as 500 to 800 meters in the permafrost zones. What's happening is some piddling around near the surface.

Gee, maybe there's something going on here that could influence the whole global warming debate.

But I forgot ... the debate is over.

Hat-tip: Greenie Watch

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Bummer For NYT: They Miss Rove Again

"Can we get Karl Rove? Can we really get him?"

You can just hear the urgency, the fervid anticipation in the voices around the editorial board room of the NYTimes. They missed him with the Plame Game, but maybe now, with AG AG and the federal prosecutors ...

So, with sweaty palms and furtive eyes, they launched today's salvo: "E-Mail Shows Rove's Role in Fate of Prosecutors."

Except the emails don't do anything of the sort.

Refresher course: When President Bush took office, something he accomplished with Karl Rove's help, he set three goals for anyone who wanted to serve as a U.S. attorney: Prosecute voter fraud, prosecute immigration offenses, particularly by business, and pursue federal death penalty cases. Anyone who accepted a position as a U.S. Attorney knew what was expected of them.

Presumably, someone in DC would be tasked with monitoring how those goals are being achieved, both in the consideration of fed prosecutors and evaluation of their performance. And guess what? It was so, says the NYT:
Almost every Wednesday afternoon, advisers to President Bush gather to strategize about putting his stamp on the federal courts and the United States attorney's offices.

The group meets in the Roosevelt Room and includes aides to the White House counsel, the chief of staff, the attorney general and Karl Rove, who also sometimes attends himself. Each of them signs off on every nomination.

Mr. Rove, a top adviser to the president, takes charge of the politics. As caretaker to the administration’s conservative allies, Mr. Rove relays their concerns, according to several participants in the Wednesday meetings. And especially for appointments of United States attorneys, he manages the horse trading.

The article then goes on to describe some of the horse trading. Perhaps a Senator who Bush had to burn a bit has a candidate for U.S. Attorney. Rove would then say, "If the candidate checks out, let's throw the Senator a bone." Or, as the article goes into in great detail regarding the Illinois investigation of former Republican governor, Rove enforced the political rule that U.S. Attorneys should be from the states in which they'll serve.

As the president's chief political advisor, that's exactly Rove's role: playing politics, rewarding allies, isolating opponents. You may want to check this out for yourself, but rumor has it such political play also was at work by Harold Ickes in Clinton's White House, and by senior political aides of Carter, Johnson, Kennedy, Truman and FDR. So it is and was and will be.

Yet to the NYT, it's Rove, so it's different. There's just one problem with their analysis. They know they've got nothing on Rove in this messy heap of "journalism," yet they labored hard to bury that fact. But in the end, all they can say is that Rove was involved in the hiring of federal prosecutors; nothing in the story mentions his meddling in their firing -- not that such meddling would be wrong in any way, since U.S. attorneys serve at the president's will.

The story mentions problems with investigations of political corruption in Washington and New Mexico, and tries to make Rove the man behind the curtain that we're not supposed to pay attention to:
In the months before the United States attorneys in New Mexico and Washington State were ousted, Mr. Rove joined a chorus of complaints from state Republicans that the federal prosecutors had failed to press charges in Democratic voter fraud cases. While planning a June 21, 2006, White House session to discuss the prosecutors, for example, a Rove deputy arranged for top Justice Department officials to meet with an important Bush supporter who was critical of New Mexico’s federal prosecutor about voter fraud.
Wait. There was a "chorus of complaints?" It wasn't just Rove? You mean, perhaps a lot of people were aware that something was going wrong in the federal atty offices of New Mex and Washington, where directive #1, prosecution of voter fraud, was just not happening the way it should?

And Rove's reaction to this chorus? Was it something particularly devious? Was it "Off with their heads?" No, he worked to placate an important contributor, which is what he is supposed to do. Protect the base, protect the fundraising, represent the president well.

Of course, sometimes Rove's role was to push a new candidate that could help achieve the President's objectives and score some political points in the process. Securing a position for such a person would require the removal of the attorney currently serving, so this is the door the NYT wants to drive a big truck through: Karl Rove axed so-and-so so a Bush Buddy could get the job. Again, they fail to come up with anything; this is as close as they got:

In Arkansas, Representative John Boozman, the state’s highest ranking Republican in Congress, said he recommended Mr. Rove’s protégé, Mr. Griffin, for a United States attorney vacancy in 2004, in part because of his ties to Mr. Rove.

A prosecutor in the Army Reserves, Mr. Griffin worked for Mr. Rove as an opposition researcher attacking Democratic presidential candidates in 2000. In between, for six months, the Justice Department had dispatched him to Arkansas to get experience as a prosecutor.

“I have been in situations through the years where Tim and Karl were at,” Mr. Boozman recalled. “I could tell that Karl thought highly of him.” -

Mr. Griffin dropped out of the running in 2004 when he accepted a campaign job for Mr. Rove, then became his deputy in the White House. But last summer, the department asked United States Attorney H. E. Cummins III to resign to make room and Mr. Rove’s staff began talking with department officials about how to install Mr. Griffin despite Senate opposition, internal e-mail shows.

No Rovian fingerprints are announced; a routine dismissal through routine channels followed by designing a confirmation campaign is the best the journalistic stars at the NYT can come up with -- and if they bothered to look at Dem administrations half as scrupulously as they pore over every Bush/Rove move, they would find this is BAU -- business as usual -- in politics.

Bottom line: Having nothing didn't keep the NYT from slapping a headline and a photo on this mess and waving it before the world so those who don't take the time to read the two-clicker will come away with the impression that Rove fired federal attorneys.

It was just another big "expose" that exposes nothing more than the MSM's relentless pursuit of their prey. This time, the fox again outran the hounds.

Hat-tip: memeorandum

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Watcher's Council Nominees

I was humbled earlier this week to be nominated to Watcher of Weasels' Circle of Watchers. My job is to submit and review the 10 Circle members' nominations of the 20 best blog posts of the week -- one from each of the Circle members, and 10 from non-members.

Nice work if you can get it, eh?

So here are the 10 nominations from the Circle's members:

1. Josuapundit: 3 Card Monte - the Palestinian aid scam continues Joshuapundit reveals how aid to Palestine increased during the boycott of Palestine following the election of Hamas -- and that corruption is thriving as usual in Palestine.

2. Done With Mirrors: O Believers Can art and pain be separated? Why do artists make the choices they make?

3. Soccer Dad: Dollars (and respect) for Dahlan Another take on the Palestine Aid flimflam and how terrorism can really pay.

4. Right Wing Nut House : Politicizing Science here, Rick takes on the intersecting of science and political agendas as evidenced by the global warming controversy.

5. The Glittering Eye: Greece and Mesopotamia: Origins of Greek Thought OK, where else do you get to read about the connects and disconnects between poetry, thought and ideals in Greek and Mesopotamian?

6. Rhymes With Right: Tinker Must Be Preserved One of two solid posts on freedom of speech in public schools.

7. The Colossus of Rhodey: Student Press Rights Control bratspeech redux.

8. The scary nihilism of the Left: Bookworm Room Book finds a sympatico in Evan Sayet, another lefty turned conservative.

9. Eternity Road: Demographics And The Medicalization Of Human Existence My generation does not look good under Francis' hard examination. Our obcession with self and youth is leading to some very immoral thoughts regarding medicine and life.

10. The Education Wonks: More Hollywood Idiocy: "Wristcutters: A Love Story" Here's a new fun idea from Hollywood: A comedy about teen suicide. Ugh.

11. Big Lizards: “What the Meaning of "Fizz" Is” The AG AG pseudo-crisis laid bare in all its ridiculousness.

And ... ta-da!

12.Cheat-Seeking Missiles: NanFran's Cool Investments As Joshuapundit encapsulates me: "New guy Laer takes a fun look at the hypocrisy surrounding Nancy Pelosi's statements - as opposed to her actions that directly benefit her financially!"


The Cowardly Elephant

I heard once that the GOP was a political party, but apparently that's in the past; today's GOP doesn't have the will to fight a fight just for the politics of it all.

Bush and Swiftboat Veterans for Truth contributor Sam Fox did not have the votes to be confirmed as ambassador to Belgium, so the Cowardly Elephant simply withdrew the nomination. There's words for that: Cut and run. Surrender.

But instead of defending Fox and his political contributions, the GOP soapbox had no one on it, leaving John Kerry to say unchallenged:
"Sam Fox had every opportunity to disavow the politics of personal destruction and to embrace the truth. He chose not to. The White House made the right decision to withdraw the nomination. I hope this signals a new day in political discourse."
I hope it signals a new day, too, a day when someone like Sam Fox would be turned loose on a committee, with the full support of GOP committee members, so that the confirmation hearing could be turned into a hearing on the truth of the Swiftboat allegations.

Even though the Swiftboat claims of Kerry's mousey war record are well documented, even though Kerry's version has little support among Swiftboat veterans, even though Kerry could prove his case (supposedly) by simply releasing his military records, which he has steadfastly refused to do, the GOP walked away from this fight.

Dems and Libs who howled that the Dixie Chicks were "'censored"' when people stopped buying their records are strangely silent when Sam Fox's free political speech is censored by Dem Senators who think it's perfectly OK to politically lynch an upstanding citizen over his legal campaign contributions.

Is there a Republican in the house? Someone with a spine? Please?

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Quote Of The ... Er ... Day: America Alone Edition

"All we can do is lie on our backs with our paws in the air and hope that no one will stamp on our tummies."
-- Harold Nicholson, British Labor Party

Nicholson said that in 1940, after the fall of France to the Nazis. Fortunately, Britain had a Churchill who had a different idea of how England should respond to the global threat of the day.

Arthur Herman, who recently authored the book "To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World," shares the quote in a column today in the NYPost about the coming fall of the British Navy.
By this time next year, the once-vaunted Royal Navy will be about the size of the Belgian Navy, while its officers face a five-year moratorium on all promotions.
Tony Blair's undoing of the British Namy is inconsequential to us. We have the globe's only blue water navy and no one, not even the Chinese, is even considering duplicating our naval reach and firepower. But it is certainly a sign that we, and only we, are the planetary police and peace-keepers.

We can expect a nudge and a hand from other nations as we try to deal with the Saddams and Osamas of the world, but in a world where the proud Royal Navy is now approaching the Belgium's navy in size, it's going to be one us and everyone else them. And that means that those who dislike an activist America -- Europeans and Democrats -- will dislike us more and more.

Look at the Dem candidates and who do you see, Harold Nicholson or Winston Churchill? Uh-huh.

Hat-tip: Real Clear Politics

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Violent Social Meltdown In England

Immigration, diversity, tolerance and gun control are failing again -- this time in South London and in a very shocking way. How shocking? This shocking:
Scores of worried parents are buying body armour for their children in a desperate attempt to keep them safe as street violence escalates.

A firm that supplies stab- and bullet-proof vests to government agencies around the world has sold 60 jackets, at a cost of between £300 to £425, to concerned parents who have flooded the company with inquiries after several murders of teenagers on London streets.

The company has received more than 100 calls from parents in the capital over the past few weeks. The company, VestGuard UK, usually gets one or two calls of this type per year.

The fatal stabbings of Adam Regis, killed three days after 16-year-old Kodjo Yenga, are the latest in a series of violent incidents involving teenagers in recent months. (Times of London)
The violence isn't limited to the capitol:
Mike Todd, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, said: "We have got 14 and 15-year-old kids walking around in body armour. And we have 13-year-olds where, when we do house searches, we find Section 1 firearms in their houses because they are being used to hold them"
South London is poor London, immigrant London, housing project London. One of its schools was recognized recently as being the country's most diverse -- with 71 languages spoken there.
It's been tough for longer than any current resident has been alive -- South London's streets once were littered with the bodies of Jack the Ripper's victims.

But today's kids are more violent, more likely to punch a kid down, then stomp on his head. Gangs and graffiti and guns rule the streets, and the Labor government is hamstrung with PC platitudes and an unwillingness to give police the numbers and authority needed to clamp down on the situation.

The comments to the Times tell a lot about why this is happening:
What do we expect? In a society that is too politically correct to allow schools to discipline pupils and insists they are adults by droning on about their rights and exposing them to adult material...of course they think they can do whatever they want. The police always advise "Don't get involved" does anone really want to live in a society like that? Get Involved... Tom, London

This is a direct result of an open borders policy that has fundamentally changed British society - as it's changing industrialized societies around the globe. The flow of cheap Third World labor is wonderful for Big Business. They profit as their nations balkanize into competing ethnic zones. Stories such as this are typical of an area where competing ethnic groups live. This is not in the interest of Western people. Michael, Spain

As a labour supporter it pains me to say the following, it is now time for labour to go, it's not that people are putting body armour on their children, it's the fact people are thinking about it that says this country is becoming, like America, an unsafe place to live. That is so easily down the the capitalistic animal survival approach, what happened to socialism Blair? Mikey, Birmingham
Summing it up nicely is Mike Jones from Hampshire:
What on earth is happening to this country!!! It comes to something when you have to dress your children in body armour to go to school. All these liberal minded idiots who control the country with their human rights this and that have an awful lot to answer for but then again, they are up in their ivory towers a world away from crime and violence so why should they care?
Sadly, the violence that's wracking England and causing parents to buy body armor for their children is a small blood spatter compared to what goes on in America -- the legacy of a seed planted by FDR, fertilized by LBJ and nurtured today by the Dem leadership, abetted by a GOP that's too weak-kneed to stand up to them.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Worlds Apart

From Baghdad, we get this good news:

The US military has captured the leaders of a car-bombing ring blamed for killing hundreds of Iraqis.

The news came as the departing US ambassador said Americans are in ongoing talks with insurgent representatives to try to persuade them to turn against al-Qaeda.

The US command said one of the car-bombers, Haitham al-Shimari, was suspected in the "planning and execution of the majority of car bombs which have killed hundreds of Iraqi citizens in Sadr City," a Shi'ite enclave of Baghdad.

Another, identified as Haidar al-Jafar, was second-in-command of a cell that killed some 900 "innocent" [!!] Iraqis and wounded almost 2,000, the military said. Three other men believed connected to that cell also were in custody.

The suspected bombers were rounded up last week by American forces during continuing security sweeps in Azamiyah, the Sunni stronghold in northern Baghdad, the military statement said. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Don't get me started on those quotes around the word innocent. When someone is killed at the market or mosque when a car bomb explodes, what is he or she guilty of, being Iraqi? It's a disgusting edit of an otherwise uplifting story of the ongoing success of the Surge.

Meanwhile, in DC:
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), a longtime Bush critic, issued one of his strongest condemnations of the war over the weekend. "We essentially are ruining our National Guard. We are destroying our Army. We're destroying our Marine Corps," he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "We can't sustain this. . . . I will not accept the status quo." (WaPo)
Hagel and his "Surrender at Any Cost" cohorts haven't noticed the recent change in status of the status quo: We're kicking butt and they're losing big. He shouldn't accept the status quo; he should accept the new reality, but Senators are a little like love -- they never have to say they're sorry ... even when they're positions are.

Hat-tip: memeorandum

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Trial Of Chinese Spy Starts Today

A couple months ago, I got out of federal jury duty at the Ronald Reagan federal courthouse in Santa Ana because the trial, anticipated to take 8 weeks, would be too financially harmful to our company. Now I wonder ... would I have been on this jury?
China's efforts to use spying to gain U.S. military technology will get a close look during the trial of a Chinese-born defense contractor set to begin today near Los Angeles.

Chi Mak, an electrical engineer who worked on some of the U.S. Navy's most sensitive high-tech weapons, goes on trial in a federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., on charges of conspiracy to export U.S. defense secrets to China, possession of property in aid of a foreign government and failure to register as a foreign agent. ...

Officials said that in 2001, Chi Mak gave his brother key details of the Navy's SPY-1 phased array radar, the heart of the Aegis battle management system used on almost all Navy warships. Tai Mak, a Phoenix Television engineer, was described by officials as a courier who passed the technology to China.

Chi Mak also was involved in developing the Navy's Quiet Electric Drive, a stealth-related technology for the next generation of warships. (WashTimes)
That's a trial I would love to be on. Then I'd write a jury member tell-all book about it!

Don't count on TV trucks to be ringing the courthouse during this trial. No sex. No blood. No celebrities. Nothing important here, folks, just our national security. Indeed, today's OC Register is mum on the trial -- and only ran a couple stories over the long run-up to today.

C-SM readers will recall that 43% of California employees with graduate degrees are immigrants. Many of them are working in research facilities and for military contractors throughout the state, and it's a good bet there are more Chi Maks out there, feeding the Chinese, or the Russians, or the Iranians with information they should not have.

Federal prosecutors will no doubt present a good case based on lots of evidence gathered since Chi Mak came onto their radar screen. But that's hardly the point here, is it?

Because so many of our research jobs are going to people from other countries, our government needs to step up its monitoring of these people to catch the spies before they can pass on secrets as valuable as Aegis battle management systems and quiet drives for warships. Will that mean stepping on their rights? You bet.

Step away. No more Chi Maks!

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Someone Should Shut Him Up About Being Censored

I took the WSJ's advice and typed "James Hansen NASA" into Ask this morning (they said to Google it, but I use Google as little as possible because of its corporate politics) and promptly got 83,400 hits.

Not bad for NASA's resident Warmie hawk, who claims he's been "silenced" by the Bush administration.

Here's one of the more popular hits:
Censorship Is Alleged at NOAA
Scientists Afraid to Speak Out, NASA Climate Expert Reports

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 11, 2006; A07

NEW YORK, Feb. 10 -- James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who sparked an uproar last month by accusing the Bush administration of keeping scientific information from reaching the public, said Friday that officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are also muzzling researchers who study global warming.

Hansen, speaking in a panel discussion about science and the environment before a packed audience at the New School university, said that while he hopes his own agency will soon adopt a more open policy, NOAA insists on having "a minder" monitor its scientists when they discuss their findings with journalists.

"It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States," said Hansen, prompting a round of applause from the audience. He added that while NOAA officials said they maintain the policy for their scientists' protection, "if you buy that one please see me at the break, because there's a bridge down the street I'd like to sell you."

He didn't exactly call George Bush a Nazi (or a Commie), but you get the point. Poor, poor persecuted Warmie. Evil Big-Oil dominated GOP White House. It's a sure laugh-line with any college audience now days.

But wait ... I thought he said he was censored, yet here he is, a government employee, likening his government to nasty old enemies. What kind of censorship is that? Could Dr. James Hansen just be a government crybaby? A guy who's sucking on government's teat while kicking it in the stomach?

That's what the WSJ editorial writers think:

The story came to a head last week at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in which Mr. Hansen testified that "for the sake of the taxpayers" he "shouldn't be required to parrot some company line." He complains that in December 2005 he was told by NASA bureaucrats that he would have to obtain official clearance before granting press interviews, giving public lectures or posting articles on the Web. More heinous still, a 23-year-old NASA spokesman rejected a request by National Public Radio to interview Mr. Hansen.

That would seem to make the climate scientist something of a martyr for truth, which in his case means the imminence of global warming doom. But as Republican Congressman Darrell Issa observed, the climate scientist managed to give 15 interviews that same month, and that's just a fraction of the 1,400 interviews he's granted in recent years. There's also the fact that all NASA scientists are required to obtain official permission before speaking to the press, a detail Mr. Hansen shrugs off as beneath his dignity.

Another little fact that gets in the way of Hansen's martyrdom is this: The NASA guy who rejected his NPR interview request got fired, while Hansen's still drawing a federal paycheck.

Hansen is an alarmist, one of the elite group of climatological Tartot card readers who claim we have a 10-year window to "take decisive action" with this millenias-old cycle of warming, or the planet will face sure catastrophe.

While that's surely false (as the media certainly won't remind us ten years from last September, when he said it), it's not something I'd censor him over. But if that's the way he thinks, you'd be justified thinking that he's a bit tightly wound up on this whole global warming thing and just might have some sort of persecution complex.

But that's just me. It's not most of the 83,400 others who turned up on Ask, mostly to hang on his words and sit at his feet. Such is the sorry state of the global warming debate.

Oh, I forgot. The debate is over.

Gee. If it's over, you'd think they'd stop censoring him.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

How Many Brits Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?

Here's a minimalist addition to Bookworm's excellent piece today questioning Hill's push for socialized medicine ... oops, a national healthcare program.

This post isn't about medicine, socialized or otherwise, it's about changing lightbulbs in the Western European social democracy known as Britain, courtesy of Best of the Web:

London's Sunday Telegraph, meanwhile, reports that "BBC staff have been stopped from replacing lightbulbs because of concerns for their health and safety":

Instead, the corporation is paying up to £10 for each replacement bulb to be fitted.

The situation came to light when Louise Wordsworth, a learning project manager with the BBC, complained.

"I called up to ask for a new lightbulb for my desk lamp and was told that this would cost £10," she wrote in a letter to Ariel, the corporation's magazine.

"On telling them I'd buy and replace the bulb myself (bought for the bargain price of £1 for two bulbs) I was told that it was against health and safety regulations. So guess how many BBC colleagues it finally took to change a lightbulb (risking life and limb to do so)?"

We'll bite, how many?

The member of staff left in the dark would need to find a clerk to get a reference number so that the repair could be paid for, then report the fault to a helpline. An electrician would ask the store manager for the part and install the bulb, making a total of five people.

Five people to change a light bulb. More than three years to get surgery to put you out of intolerable pain. That's Socialism for you. Disrespectful of the individual in every way possible.


Half-Truth Hillary And The Lazy Media

Hillary logged in today on the federal attorney filing, saying we must not draw parallels between her hubby's federal attorney firing spree and the Bush Admin's firing of eight attorneys:
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday dismissed any comparison between the firing last fall of eight U.S. attorneys with the replacement of 93 U.S. attorneys when her husband became president in 1993.

"That's a traditional prerogative of an incoming president," Clinton said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Once U.S. attorneys are confirmed, they should be given broad latitude to enforce the law as they see fit, she said.

"I think one of the hallmarks of our democracy is we have a devotion to the rule of law," Clinton said.

ASK THE FOLLOW-UP QUESTION YOU BOZO! What about the 30 federal attorneys your hubby fired during the course of his administration, after the traditional preprogative, Hil?

Here's a sound clip of Laura Ingraham and Sen. Specter from this morning when Laura raises the "other 30," and here's a link to a discussion of the same on Sweetness and Light.

This is second-grade math, not rocket science. Clinton fired 93, and over the course of his term hired 123. Subtract the little number from the big number and you see that Clinton & Reno had 30 additional vacancies to fill as his term progressed -- vacancies made as almost a third of his original 93 were shown the door.

Why were they shown the door? We don't know. No one in the media or Congress made a big deal of it when it happened under Bill's watch.

Note to the politically naive: This is not Bill's watch.

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Charting John Edwards' Uncharted Territory

The most famous spouse of a cancer victim met with 40 members of the media in San Francisco today. That's him in the photo, sporting a yellow "Livestrong" wristband.

John Edwards told the reporters he just didn't know how voters will react to his decision to press on with the campaign despite his wife's illness.

"I miss her. I miss her. ...

I think [the political impact of the decision to stay in] is unknowable. We believe that the way to conduct your life, private and personal, is openly and honestly and that's the reason we disclosed the facts. We felt people needed to know. How it will affect the campaign, that probably depends on how America responds. I think this is uncharted territory." (source)

I also think the territory is uncharted, and for good reason: It's marginally OK to run for office if you have cancer, but it's not the least bit OK to subject a spouse who's suffering from incurable disease to the separation, stress, emotions and fatigue that comes with campaigning.

Edwards obviously has been hoping a lot of females will vote for His Cuteness, and now I think we can chart that particularly interesting piece of territory. Most women now will see their ex-husbands in Edwards: A man who talked a good talk, but just isn't capable of living up to it in his actions.

If he really misses her, if he really cares for her and for their children -- and any woman would hope he does -- he would be with them, not on the campaign trail. File the papers, sweetheart, and find yourself another candidate.

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So Are Its Aficionados Called Twits?

It's the next big thing from the dot-com realm -- blogging via mobile phone, brought to you by a company called Twitter:
Silicon Valley is abuzz over a new mini-blogging service for mobile phones that some predict will be a mass-market hit with the reach of a YouTube or MySpace.

Over the past two weeks, Twitter has attracted the sort of hyperbole the Valley reserves for its next internet darling – though such self-reinforcing adulationalso led to dotcom mania. ...

"This is the first application that people have got excited about since Flickr came out," said Ross Mayfield, a Valley entrepreneur, comparing it to a popular photo-sharing site bought by Yahoo in 2005. "I don't think it will be the next YouTube – but I do think it will gain wide adoption," he said.

Users of Twitter post short messages – up to 140 characters – that can be viewed either on a website or on mobile phones. "Twitter probably wouldn't have existed before blogging, when people learned to be more transparent," Mr Mayfield added.

Though launched publicly last summer, use of Twitter started to take off in the middle of March after it was adopted by tech­nology bloggers attending the South by Southwest conference in Texas. (MSNBC)

Twitter's a great name for the product, despite the risky nickname alluded to in my headline. The 140-word limit would be a challenge even for short attention span posters like me -- but in this new "share all" world we live in, teenage twits may be Twittering about their lives even more than they are today with MySpace and YouTube.

I'm not sure that means civilization and humankind will advance.

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With 10,000 Farmer Suicides, Is India Ready For Prime Time?

For every U.S. fighting man or woman who has died serving in Iraq, about three Indian farmers have committed suicide.

What's the context? Just that our eyes see what they are directed towards and don't see many other significiant things.

The farmer suicides have been going on for a few years now, and are thought to number 10,000. That's 10,000 heads of households, who have left their families and heirs a legacy of economic ruin.

The primary cause is drought, which has led to smaller yields, which have led to unpaid debts, which have led to, according to the Times of London, a typically Hindu thought pattern among farmers: Better to be reborn as a European cow than be an Indian farmer.

We've heard much about India's economic boom, and its race with China to be the next great global economy, but it is obvious that the nation still lacks the necessary infrastructure of a modern nation. We have droughts regularly throughout American agrarian regions, but they don't lead to waves of suicides because of our investment in water infrastructure ... and ag subsidies.

India has the subsidies, at least pledges of billions of rupees in relief packages, but it doesn't have the reservoirs, canals, pump stations and sophisticted distribution systems backed by cost-sharing finances and a particularly complex set of laws.

America's intellectual infrastructure is every bit as significant as its concrete infrastructure. Every ton of concrete we pour for public benefit is born of the free market, nourished by exceptional schools, financed by a business-oriented banking and bond system, and protected by a long history of protective legal precedents.

In The Pentagon's New Map, Thomas P.M. Barnett writes that global freedom is tied to successful globalization. India's economic boom is seen as a beacon of hope for the success of such a positive evolution of the global economy, but it's clear, as we count the bodies of farmers India has been unable to help, that the vision of globalization is a huge one, and cannot yet be considered a given.


Iran Threatens Death For UK Sailors

An Iranian Web site linked to Mah- I'm in the moud for a bloody confrontation Ahmadinejad (rhymes with "I've got your swabbies and you want 'em bad") has this to say about Iran's intentions regarding its captured UK sailors, according to the Times of London:
Referring to them as “insurgents”, the site concluded: “If it is proven that they deliberately entered Iranian territory, they will be charged with espionage. If that is proven, they can expect a very serious penalty since according to Iranian law, espionage is one of the most serious offences.”
Not surprising in a paranoid police state, Iran pretty much kills everyone convicted of espionage.

That's nothing more than ante-upping, I hope. We've got 300 or so of theirs; they've got 15 Brits. Sounds like a fair enough trade. Threatening death penalties, as they did when they siezed, then released 8 detained British servicemen in 2004, gives them a bargaining edge ... even if it loses them any remaining credibility as a nation worth dealing with.

The Iranian government keeps demanding respect, like a brat demanding a toy. What do they have to justify respect? Kidnapped US diplomats, attempts to close the Straights of Hormuz, bloody (not in the British slang sense) repression at home, arming terrorists in Iraq and globally, defying the UN on nukes ... and now crossing into Iraqi waters to sieze Brits.

Perhaps they're hoping for some limited military actions against them, in the hopes that an attack will shore up fading domestic support.

Perhaps they're just brats.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

France Leads With Stupid, Yemen Counters With Idiotic

Here's a BBC story that captures beautifully the rudeness of the French and the primative anger of the Islamic world:
Security forces have been called in to tackle riots at a Yemen gas plant where a copy of the Koran is said to have been desecrated, security sources say. ...

Hundreds of rioting workers burnt cars and a helicopter at the French-run facility, sources told news agencies.

Unconfirmed reports say four Yemenis and a Frenchman were injured in the unrest and the engineer was evacuated. ...

"After a fight between a French engineer and another who is Yemeni, the Frenchman - to enrage the Yemeni - threw a Koran on the floor in an offensive way," a local official told AFP news agency, requesting anonymity.

The same agency said earlier that a Yemeni had been killed in the unrest.
I invite any Yemeni to go to Paris and throw a Bible on the ground -- even in an unoffensive manner, if he can find a way to do that. Heck, even go to the Bible Belt and do it.

He'll find no riots will result. The French don't care, and we know enough to know that the Bible and Koran are books, not God.

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Fallacious Hysteria Over Ocean Levels

For Warmie hysterics, there's nothing better than raising ocean levels. Tropical islands under water! Flooded coastal cities! Drowned polar bears!

Good stuff for fundraising and political power -- but what if you knew that Al Gore's much-disputed 20-foot ocean increases were a mere drop in the oceanic bucket compared to what we've already been through? What if oceans had already risen 400 feet?

Wouldn't Al and the Warmies just seem a bit hysterical over next to nothing?

Let's start where my paper trail started, with a FEMA report from 1991, before global warming was all the rage. The report was provided to me by my friend Neil, who is a bit of a data packrat. To my knowledge, it's not available on-line, but it worries over the insurance ramifications of a one-foot or a three-foot rise in sea level:
Based on these findings, the aspects of flood insurance rate-making that already account for the possibility of increasing risk, and the tendency of new construction to be built more than one foot above the base flood elevation, the NIFP [National Flood Insurance Program] would not be significantly impacted under a one-foot rise in sea level by the year 2100. For the high projection of a 3-foot rise, the incremental increase of the first foot would not be expected until the year 2050.
What was FEMA doing projecting a 3-foot rise in ocean levels in 1991? Neil had a simple answer:
There is global warming and there is Global Warming. The former started happening about 10,000 years ago. The latter started happening a few years ago and has reached a fevered pitch unaccompanied by a proportional increase in global temperature or sea level.

The real global warming started at the end of the last ice age and has long been recognized by the scientific community. Enough of the ocean water was trapped in continental glaciers to cause the sea level to be over 100 m (or about 400 feet) lower than now. Much of the present continental shelf was exposed dry land, and rivers cut through to reach the then-ocean shore. As global warming progressed and the ice melted, sea levels started to rise, drowning the rivers and forming some of what are now called submarine canyons. Some, but not all, of these canyons can be attributed to sea level rise. The deepest canyons, deeper than the lowest prehistoric sea level, appear to be cut by density or turbidity currents that are still occurring today. (Wikipedia)

So, sea level has been rising gradually for a long time, but the rise didn't reach Congressional radar screens until recently. That probably prompted FEMA's early work done in the pleasant interlude between initial realization and the latest shrieking.
The rise of the oceans has been occurring since long, long before SUVs and incandescent light bulbs -- it is a major, long-term force of nature that won't stop until a cooling cycle begins -- which could be soon since the Hysterics were predicting it in the 1970s.

Why should we sacrifice our quality of life, why should we short-change health and hunger fixes that are real in the name of costly global warming fixes that are specious, if this has been going on for centuries? Global warming clearly doesn't need us and isn't much impacted by us. It will march on until it stops, with or without us.

Let's let it march without us. We've got better things to do with our time, resources and emotions than fret over three feet or two, three or 20 feet of ocean level increases if the Earth has already poved its abilitity to raise the oceans 400 feet.

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LATimes Romney Hit May Backfire

The LA Times, long known for its political hit pieces, fired one in Mitt Romney's direction this morining.

It's an inventive piece. The reporter talked to the leaders of pro-abortion, pro-gay and greenie groups about the promises Romney made to them when running against Ted Kennedy for Senator, and later for governor. They all say Romney promised to be more on their side then the Dems, "a different kind of Republican."

The piece is designed to portray Romney as a politician who will say anything for a vote, and as such it normally wouldn't mean much, because that's hardly a "man bites dog" story. They're obviously hoping to paint Romney with the same brush that was so harmful to Kerry's candidacy.

But there will be a backlash, too: If the advocates of liberal positions are mad at Romney it means (1) they're attacking a GOP candidate which is business as usual and (2) his change to new positions is more likely to be genuine than political.

Will we GOP-ers also feel the conversions are genuine? On abortion, Romney's stated reason for the change -- that research on the embryonic stem cell issue gave him a better understanding of the nature of life immediately after conception -- makes sense. You'd think he might have had that information earlier, but it's entirely likely he didn't.

On the gay rights issue, the LAT quotes a Log Cabin Republican on a Romney promise to support civil unions:
"He said, 'Call it whatever you want. Just don't use the M-word,' " recalled businessman Richard Babson.
In that position, he is not out of touch with much of the GOP mainstream. He won't get James Dobson's primary vote with that position, but he'd probably pick Dobson up in the General.

On the environmental issue, the article quotes without confirmation some firey stump rhetoric, then notes that Romney supported a less-strict package of regs. Thin gruel, which explains why LAT put it last.

The LAT may have succeeded in making hard-core abortion and gay rights radicals and serious global warming fretters abandon Romney ... but they never embraced him, probably even in Massachusetts. With the exception of the Log Cabin Republicans, the LAT article finds no disenchanted radical who actually voted for the man.

Which might also help explain his conversions.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Fine Day To Be In Millersburg, Ohio

If you're in the Millersburg area, hop in the car quick:
MILLERSBURG, Ohio (AP) — According to record keepers, the world's biggest buffet happened in Las Vegas. The record may not stay there, though.

Restaurants, bakeries and family cooks in the Amish region of northeastern Ohio are uniting Saturday to challenge the mark of 510 buffet dishes served last year at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Organizers plan three two-hour sittings for 1,000 people each at $11 apiece at the Amish Flea Market. Proceeds will help feed the needy.

The nearly 600 promised dishes include Hungarian sauerkraut soup, corn casserole, garlic mashed potatoes and sweet potato souffle.

"We might not have glitz and glamour, but we know how to cook," said Kurt Kleidon, who is helping organize the event.
Yes, it's a little odd to think of Amish going after world records, but who's gonna question it when there's sauerkraut soup and sweet potato souffle on the table?


Iran Rev. Guard Planning "Blue-Eyed" Kidnappings?

Buried at the bottom of a U.S. News & World Report piece reporting on a previously unreported September assault on U.S. forces in Iraq by an Iranian platoon, is this:

American forces may soon be getting further insight into recent Iranian attacks. Earlier this month, a former Iranian deputy defense minister who once commanded the Revolutionary Guards–and is thought to have considerable knowledge of Iran's national security network–left the country and is said to be cooperating with western intelligence agencies, sharing information on links between Iran and Hezbollah in south Lebanon, for example. Iranian officials said the official, Ali Rez Asgari, was kidnapped by western agents.

Shortly afterward, Iran threatened to retaliate in Europe for the supposed kidnapping, what it claims to be the most recent in a series of abductions in the past three months. According to the British Sunday Times, in the Revolutionary Guards' weekly newspaper this week, a columnist believed to have close ties to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote: "We've got the ability to capture a nice bunch of blue-eyed, blond-haired officers and feed them to our fighting cocks. Iran has enough people who can reach the heart of Europe and kidnap Americans and Israelis."

Braggadocio, for sure, but when it comes from a sick, renegade regime like Iran, it's worth noting. They could be learning tricks from the North Koreans, who prefer to kidnap brown-eyed, black-haired victims.

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Russia: A Half-Step From A Police State

The score in Vladimir Putin's Russia is a skosh in his favor -- 447 to 4, maybe 5 -- but that's not enough for him to allow complacency.

Having almost every member of the Duma loyal to the neo-Tsar is not the same has having all the Duma loyal, so yesterday, Russia's Supreme Court liquidated Russia's Republican party, claiming that it had violated electoral law by having too few members.

Sound a bit Kafkaesque? "To keep the opposition from becoming larger, we will ban them for being small."

The Kremlin's powerhouse Duma recently passed a new election law that said all parties must have at least 50,000 members and be represented in half of Russia's provinces. The law is seen by opposition as a scheme to kill off smaller parties that oppose the Kremlin -- and it's evident it's quite effective in that regard.
Vladimir Ryzhkov, the leader of the Republican party, said yesterday that the ban was part of a Kremlin-inspired campaign to crack down on dissent. "This is part of the Kremlin's policy of suppressing the opposition. It's being done to prevent opposition parties from taking part in elections," he told the Guardian. "This is the fate any opposition party in Russia." (The Guardian)
The ban ame in the face of continued anti-Putin demostrations by The Other Russia, which has proven that it can gather 5,000 or so people at locations throughout the country, in defiance of bans on their movement. Witness how hard the supporters of Putin -- have you ever noticed how his name of onomopoeic of a wad of spit launching towards, then hitting a spittoon? -- strain to contain the group:

Organisers of today's rally in Nizhny Novgorod say they have faced widespread intimidation by the city's pro-Kremlin authorities. Earlier this week police from the special organised crime unit of Russia's interior ministry seized 60,000 copies of an opposition newspaper due to be distributed during the demonstration.

The mayor's office announced a children's festival on the site of the proposed march, and blocked off the road to carry out what it said were urgent repairs.

Another small anti-Putin party, the National Bolsheviks, were crushed last week.

Why the iron boot? I can't help but think that Putin is putting his cards in place to continue serving is Russia's Tsar, er, president when his term expires in 2008.

hat-tip: memorandum

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"Muslims Who Don't Hate America Sin"

There's nothing new in Scott Atran's interview of Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), perpetrators of the Bali bombings and numerous other attrocities in the name of jihad and Allah, but that hardly means it's not worth reading.

Every peacenik should read Bashir's emphatic statements on the inevitability of battle.
SA: What can the West, especially the US, do to make the world more peaceful?

ABB: They have to stop fighting Islam. That's impossible because it is sunnatullah [destiny, a law of nature], as Allah has said in the Koran. If they want to have peace, they have to accept to be governed by Islam.

SA: What if they persist?

ABB: We'll keep fighting them and they'll lose. The batil [falsehood] will lose sooner or later. I sent a letter to Bush. I said that you'll lose and there is no point for you [to fight us]. This [concept] is found in the Koran.
Later in the very brief interview, Bashir, who sees himself as an ally of bin Laden almost holds out an olive branch, with a "We'll see ... if they leave Islam alone" statement, but quickly recants it:
Islam can't be ruled by others. Allah's law must stand above human law. There is no [example] of Islam and infidels, the right and the wrong, living together in peace.
I'm increasingly convinced that the only way we can leave Islam alone is to leave the planet, or ask them to. Even within more moderate Islamic countries, the radicals are a powerful force, angry, threatening, anxious to stop all this sinful moderation and get on with the jihad.

How can we leave them alone if their despots shield themselves in Islam to attack neighbors and defy international law? How can we leave them alone if they attack us on our shores? How can Playground Earth allow the bully to continue playing his "I can exist but you can't" game?

Bashir, bin Laden, Ahmadinejad leave no room for coexistence. Kumbayah that, Cindy Sheehan, Tim Robbins and the Democrat leadership!

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Just Because I Can

Just because I can click "copy image" and I can put the image copy anywhere I want:

It's the famous 1975 Newsweek article on Dreaded Global Cooling! The amusing full article is available at Blog from the Core.

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