Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday Scan

Bad Karma For Islam

On October 8, Muslims in Pakistan followed in the footsteps of their Taliban brothers gang members, dynamiting the face of this wonderful 23 foot tall bas relief Buddha carved into a mountainside at Jenanabad in the Swat Valley. You can see the before and after here.

The history of the Swat Valley is one of marvelous cultural cross-pollination; a history now crushed by Islamic totalitarianism and intolerance. Tufts University history prof Gary Leupp explains (Counterpunch via HNN):
Conquered by Alexander the Greek and his Macedonians in the 320s BCE, this region became part of the Mauryan Empire. Emperor Ashoka in the mid-third century BCE promoted the spread of Buddhism here, and in the second century BCE the local Greek King Menander may have been a convert. (The Questions of Menander---supposedly a conversation between the king and a Buddhist monk---is unique among ancient Buddhist texts in its dialogue form, characteristic of Greek philosophical texts, and may have actually been composed originally in Greek.) Later the Kushan Empire centering on the Gandhara region encouraged the emergence of an Indo-Greek Buddhist style of sculpture.

The Swat Valley was at the cutting edge of one of the most extraordinary syntheses in art history: Buddhist content and classical realistic western sculpture. The Buddha, earlier represented symbolically (as a footprint), came to be depicted as a Greek deity or king, standing or seated in meditation.
The act was carried out by followers of cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who heads the "Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law," which is aligned with the Taliban. Leupp says the news was not reported widely in the West because it would have shown the spread of Taliban influence outside Afghanistan.

I doubt that was what motivated it, as our press is only too happy to show any failure in the War on Terror, and Taliban influence in the Swat Valley is already well understood. Leupp's piece is remarkably poor for a historian, blaming this on Bush, because his invasion drove the Taliban out of Afghanistan and into Pakistan.

Historians should understand the porosity of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the longstanding social and religious cross-border ties, and the fact that the Russians created a much larger exodus in the 1980s, which further cemented cross-border melding. And Leupp should ask himself if the Taliban demolition of the great Buddhas of Bamiyan wouldn't have been followed by the destruction of the Jenanabad Buddhas much more quickly if the Taliban hadn't had their hands full trying to stay alive.

The Young and the Newsless

The writer's strike may effect the presidential election?! On its face it seems that the writers of sit coms and reality shows (you have to wonder why reality shows need writers ...) would have no impact at all on who should be the leader of the most powerful nation in this corner of the galaxy, but Adam Kelly, writing in The Phoenix, has a different viewpoint:
It’s easy to be flip about the deep implications of the Writers Guild of America strike, which is now stretching into its fourth week. After all, what’s the harm in missing a few episodes of Two and a Half Men?

But this take is too facile. In today’s media landscape, more and more serious-news coverage — particularly political news — is coming from written (read: fake) TV-news programs, with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as exhibits A1 and A2. We’re also in the midst of a wide-open presidential campaign. And with those shows out of commission, stories that could change the course of the race haven’t been getting the attention they otherwise would.
Kelly quotes a couple surveys that back him up:
In 2004, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported that about as many young viewers were getting their presidential-campaign news from comedy programs including The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live (21 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds who were polled) as from the nightly newscasts of NBC, ABC, and CBS (23 percent of the same group). The same study found that a whopping 61 percent of that same demographic got their campaign information from comedy and/or late-night talk shows, either regularly or occasionally.

In 2006, meanwhile, an Indiana University study of coverage of the ’04 race found that The Daily Show contained just as much substantive information as its network-news counterparts. Is it really surprising, then, that Democrat John Edwards announced his 2004 presidential candidacy on The Daily Show? Or that Republican John McCain did the same on Letterman’s show earlier this year, with fellow Republican Fred Thompson following suit on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno?
Can you imagine what these outlets would have done with the recent stories on Rudy's Byzantine billings for his Hamptons get-aways? And can you imagine a combined Stewart, Colbert, Maher, Leno and Letterman joke-a-thon not having an impact on Rudy's numbers?

It is only fitting that in this era of fakey candidates, fake news can have a real influence.

Japanese Work Ethic?

Apparently the reputation of the Japanese as notorious over-workers still has merit:
TOKYO (Reuters) - A Toyota Motor Corp employee died of overwork after logging more than 106 hours of overtime in a month, a judge ruled Friday, reversing a ministry's earlier decision not to pay compensation to his widow.

The Toyota Labor Standards Inspection office, a local branch of Japan's labor ministry, refused to pay the widow the usual compensation for a spouse's work-related death, saying the man had only logged 45 hours of overtime in the month before he died, Japanese media reported.

But the court ruled that the employee had worked far more than that .... The employee, who was working at a Toyota factory in central Japan, died of irregular heartbeat in February 2002 after passing out in the factory around 4 a.m.
Perhaps this can best be viewed as seppuku (hari kari) with a timeclock.

High-Priced Liberalism

San Francisco is facing a whopper of a $229 million budget deficit and there's only one target for the blame. And it's not the housing slump.
Much of the projected $229 million budget deficit that now preoccupies San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was created with his blessing - and with his full knowledge that the city didn't have the dough to cover it.

Newsom and his aides, however, didn't let the cat out of the bag until after his re-election last month. (SF Chron)
Newsome supported a $28 million public transit program and a four-year, 24% pay hike for police, fire and nurse city employees, all the while knowing the usual padding -- a $100 million budget carry-over -- was non-existent.

Asked how Newsome felt about this economic Balaklava, an aide said hizonner "doesn't even have one tiny morsel of regret."

Liberalism is never having to say you're sorry.

Far, Far From Kyoto

Orange Punch, the OCRegister's opinion blog, passes along this tidbit:
“Strikingly, three Chinese power companies, South Africa’s giant Eskom, and India’s NTPC all generate more CO2 emissions than any single U.S. firm—underscoring the shared challenge posed by global climate change,” according to U.S. News and World Report. “The largest, Huaneng Power International of China, has emissions 68 percent higher than American Electric Power’s.”

What do you want to bet that the U.S. will remain the principle target of global warming alarmists?
Good bet.

Dr. Doom

We conclude this week's Sunday Scan on a note of terror, calling your attention to an LA Times op/ed by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins, authors of The Nuclear Jihad.

How nice that this piece ran in the liberal LAT, where blinders to the threat of global jihad abound. Frantz and Collins lay out in frightening detail the story of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man who sold Pakistan's nuclear technology to Libya and Iran, and Iran's subsequent efforts to mask its true nuclear ambitions from international scrutiny.

Do read the piece, even though it doesn't include anything new to people who have tracked this issue in the blogosphere. What's illuminating about the piece is that what we know -- Iran's lies and cover-ups, the true extent of their nuclear program -- is now becoming more broadly covered in MSM outlets read by Libs.

Will they take note or just hide under their "blame everything on Bush" denials?

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