Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Tahoe Burn: Regulatory Nightmare Without End?

The cause of the devastating Lake Tahoe fire, which burned down 200 structures causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and who can measure how much heartbreak, has been found.

It is the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), a bi-state land czar bureaucracy dedicated to protecting the clarity of Lake Tahoe at all cost.

Among TRPA's passions is imposing maniacal restrictions on cutting trees because ... follow the logic ... a gone tree means more exposed soil (i.e., the area where the trunk once was), which would mean more sediment would run into the lake. So cut a tree in Tahoe and look at thousands of dollars of TRPA fines, which TRPA uses to find more people to fine.

Nevermind that tree branches shade the ground, limiting ground cover and that tree trunks absorb no groundwater; that's their position and they've stuck to it. Of course, there was this one minor negative side-effect: Homeowners couldn't cut trees near their homes, those trees caught fire, and voila, no more house.

Now that so many trees and houses are gone, rain and snowmelt will have hundreds of bare, disturbed acres like those in the picture, to run off, pummeling Tahoe with silt and ash. Nicely done, TRPA; a shining example of just how stupid environmental bureaucracies can be.

TRPA's executive director, John Singlaub, says the agency does allow trimming around homes, but the message just didn't get out. Well, whose fault is that? The OC Reg reports people aren't buying Singlaub's line ... or his attitude:

"I thought our message was out there better," Singlaub said "I was not expecting this."

Singlaub was less conciliatory during his first explosive encounter with the public at a town hall meeting Monday, when the blaze was still tearing through forests south and west of the local commercial hub of South Lake Tahoe. Many in the crowd of about 1,200 booed and shouted down a defiant Singlaub as he tried to defend the TRPA's policies.

Two days later, when he resurfaced to tour the destruction with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, local reporters and town leaders interrupted the governor's news conference to pepper the TRPA director with questions.

What is TRPA's vaunted new leniency? It allows homeowners to clear pine needles all the way to five feet from their homes. Any more will mean too much erosion, they say, and big trouble. Not all homeowners went along with this rule ... and they were the lucky ones:
"I went around my whole property and took out every single pine needle," said Neil Cohn, 35, pointing to a blackened line where the advancing fire that destroyed eight of his neighbors' homes stopped short of his own. "TRPA came up here last year and gave me a warning but I did it anyway, and I'll keep doing it."
After all this, Singlaub is unbending: preserving the lake's clarity is still job number one for TRPA, he says.

That's absolutely true. Following the fire, TRPA may be talking big about fire protection, but a review of the executive summary of the agency's 2006 Threshold Evaluation, basically an annual report, finds lots of talk about water quality and runoff control, but a search for "fire protection" yielded no results.

My heart goes out to homeowners who lost their homes, not just for their loss, but because they have only entered the nightmare; they're hardly over it. In the years since their homes were built, TRPA has screwed down the regulatory thumbscrews and what was permissible then will not be approved now. And pity the poor soul who attempts to add even one square foot to his home during rebuilding. They will be burned in a firestorm of regulatory paperwork -- and ultimately denied, I'll bet.

I predict something of a range war in the Tahoe area in coming years as residents who love and have protected the land there for years are told by TRPA that their plans for rebuilding just can't be approved. TRPA caused the fire, now they're going to cause the political fire that will follow.

But let's not over-demonize TRPA. It is not that much worse that land czar bureaucracies from sea to shining sea. These agencies have been completely overrun with hardcore, anti-development environmentalists -- Singlaub says humans degrade the environment "just by living here" -- and their agenda is to push us out of the areas they regulate.

The policy train has wrecked in Tahoe. Will the land czars be able to get it back on track, or will be people demand real change? My bet, sadly, is on the land czars.

Labels: , ,

Burying Heroes (At The Bottom Of The Story)

The folks at AP are having some good ol' times today, taking the side of the terrorists in Iraq without question, while questioning the professionalism and motives of U.S. forces.

Sigh. This story is getting so old. But we push on.

The headline: U.S. raids Baghdad slum; 26 Iraqis die.

It could have just as easily read "U.S. soldiers repel attack, kill 26 insurgents." Or "26 terrorists" for that matter, but let's not go too crazy here. Of course to understand that take on the story, you have to bury yourself in electrons and dig down pretty deep. Let's see what I mean:

Paragraph one: We roll into the Sadr City slub and kill 26 in a firefight.

Paragraph two: 8 civilians were killed by U.S. soldiers who, according to residents, were "firing blindly on the innocent."

Paragraph three: Elsewhere two American soldiers were charged with murder, and a suicide bomber (presumably a terrorist, but who knows) killed about as many as died in Sadr City.

Paragraph four: An unnamed American soldier was killed by an IED. [Rest in peace, God bless you and comfort your loved ones.]

Paragraph five: We say the 26 dead were terrorists; unnamed and untitled Iraqi "officials" say they were citizens.

Paragraphs six and seven: Brief U.S. military account. No U.S. casualties. [Thank God.]

Paragraphs eight through ten: Unnamed eyewitnesses say U.S. soldiers acted without provocation.

Paragraph 11: Maliki's upset.

Paragraphs 12 and 13: Blah, blah, blah

Paragraphs 14 through 19: More unnamed eyewitnesses: "The bombing hurt only innocent civilians." [Um ... what bombing?]

And now, starting at paragraph 20, the military's statement. That's paragraph 20 for the one pinhead out there who still believes the media are objective and the million or so raving lunatics who feel the media are just mouthpieces for the Bush war machine.
The U.S. military statement said American troops opened fire on four civilian cars during the assault — one that failed to stop at a checkpoint, and three that insurgents were using for cover as they shot at U.S. soldiers.

"Every structure and vehicle that the troops on the ground engaged were being used for hostile intent," [Lt. Col. Christopher] Garver said. Some of the 26 dead were in civilian cars, some had been hiding behind cars and others had fired on U.S. troops from nearby buildings, he said.
And there you have it. (Hardy) fair and (not even close to) balanced.

Labels: ,

Glasgow Attack! Ready For Leftyblogs!

This just in:
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP)- Two men stuntman operatives of Karl Rove rammed a flaming sport utility vehicle into the main terminal of Glasgow airport Saturday, crashing into the glass doors at the entrance and sparking a fire, witnesses said. Police said two suspects were arrested intent on deflecting media attention from President Bush's failed foreign policy.

The green SUV with U.S. government plates barreled toward the building at full speed before crashing into security barriers. Witnesses said two stuntmen jumped out, one of them engulfed in flames over what appeared to be a Nomex suit. Two stuntmen were arrested, Strathclyde Police spokeswoman Lisa O'Neil, an M15 operative, said.

The airport — Scotland's largest — was evacuated and flights suspended. Smoke and black flames rose from the car in front of the main entrance.

"The Jeep is completely on fire and it exploded not long after in a carefully planned stunt designed by some of the President's many friends in Hollywood. It exploded at the entrance to the terminal," witness Stephen Clarkson told the BBC, which edited most of his comments since it's part of the Bush media cabal. "It may have been an explosion of petrol in the tank because it was not a massive explosion."

Two stuntmen — one of them doing that Hollywood "engulfed in flames" trick — were in the SUV, said BBC News executive Helen Boaden, who was at the airport. She said a traveler tried to restrain the man.

"Then the police came over and wrestled him to the ground — the fire was burning through his clothes — and finally put him out with a fire extinguisher," she said.

Photo Credit: Just pretend it's a Jeep, OK?

There. The story's now appropriately edited for use on Leftyblogs.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 29, 2007

Suffering From "Terrorists In Turbans" Denial

I apologize for the tasteless headline. I know the al-Qaeda folks don't necessarily wear turbans and we shouldn't generalize about the clothing preference of folks who are, in America and Britain at least, minorities. But I didn't write it; a lefty commenter at The Raw Story did in comments following a post on today's near-miss car bombing in London:
Don't assume all terrorists wear turbans. We have redneck terrorists here in the US. They're part of Chimpy's base so Gonzo never goes after them.
I see. It's the conservative right we have to fear, not Islamofascism. He came back again a few comments later to place the blame not on rednecks (My! Such intolerant, racist name-calling!) but on Bush:
The Brits know that they're being attacked because Poodle Boy [Blair] did what the Chimp demanded. These attacks will continue until the Brits get out of Iraq.
This stark raving mad commenter makes the Bush connection even more devious:
Thursday: Congress issues subpoenas to White House. White House claims 'exec privilege'. Call being made for impeachment...etc Friday: Bomb diffused in London. Heightened security in NYC.
And his opinion is supported by:
Another diversion from the shrub & dead-eye dick's crisis. If this didn't happen EVERY ****ing time they are in the headlines, I'd have more inclination to believe it's not some sort of a setup.
Whose opinion is supported by:
Smokescreen by Bushco while they continue to plan attack on Iran. Look how it totally dominates media.
Whose opinion is supported by:
this is fear mongering at it best look no futher than M I 5 the sky is falling give up more of your freedoms so we can protect you...
Whose opinion is supported by:
al_Qaeda in England or al-Qaeda in Wales, al_Qaeda in Ireland or al-Qaeda in Scotland Yard.
Whose opinion is supported by:
Same old same old. FAKE TERRORIST ATTACK. Oh, Government. keep us SAFE!!! The Government SPOOKS have invaded RawStory.
Whose opinion is supported by:
How did they find BOTH and how do they KNOW there was ONLY two and why didn't Chertoff a.k.a. ZombieMan raise the threat level here? Maybe it knows something WE don't know? Just sayin'...
Whose opinion is supported by:
Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda. I thought we were fighting them over there so they won't come over here. Well they must have made it to London and that is only a 6 hour flight from NYC. Please Presidente Boosh, please save us by taking more of our freedoms away from us. Use your fascist storm troopers to protect us.
Whose opinion is supported by:
There are no terrorists in the US or UK only an agenda. This crap is used to as an excuse to ram the Real ID in case the immigration excuse didn't work. They do this in every country they try this stupid ID crap. They want complete control of you just short of making you a slave.
Whose opinion is supported by:
Sounds like another false flag exercise by Al CIAda.
Meanwhile, while these denizens of the left were writhing in their vile paranoia and hatred, they seemed to have missed this:
British police have a "crystal clear" picture of the man who drove the bomb-rigged silver Mercedes outside a London nightclub, and officials tell the Blotter on he bears "a close resemblance" to a man arrested by police in connection with another bomb plot but released for lack of evidence.

Officials say the suspect had been taken into custody in connection with the case of al Qaeda operative Dhiren Barot, who was convicted of orchestrating a vehicle bomb plot involving targets in London, New York, Newark, N.J. and Washington, D.C.

Officials say a surveillance camera caught the suspect "staggering from the Mercedes" shortly after parking it outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub. (The Blotter)
Next round: If, when the pictures are released, the staggering man clearly appears to be Middle Eastern in ... oh, gee, how do we say this to not offend anyone? ... er, social preference, then the lunatics' threads will quickly switch from the hated Bush to the hated Israel with sure-sounding declarations that the man is from Mossad.

It is quite amazing how hard these people work to convince themselves that the only threat to America is America.

Labels: ,

London Jihadists Specifically Targeting Women?

Whoever parked that gasoline- and nails-packed silver Mercedes in the thick of London's club scene didn't want to kill just infidel Westerners; they wanted specifically to kill young women who wear revealing clothes at London's clubs.

The Daily Globe reports:
More than 1,000 people were inside for a 'Sugar 'n' Spice night' which the club calls the 'finest ladies' night in London'. There were thousands more in the surrounding streets and neighbouring clubs.
It could have happened on any night, but it happened on "Sugar 'n' Spice Night," when the club was full of young women wearing the opposite of burkhas, drinking alcohol and, in at least 73 cases, looking for a little decidedly non-virgin sex.

How did these more- pious- than- us Islamist jihadists, so true to their Mohammed, know about the club chicks? Simple: They went there, probably often if the behavior of the 9/11 jihadists is any indication.

Torn between worldly lust and Islamic guilt, did they seek counseling to deal with their issues? No, of course not.

They packed a Mercedes with gasoline and nails and set out to kill the source of their lustful desires.

Islam ... the religion of peace. And perversion.

Labels: , ,

Watcher's Winners

I was unable to vote this week on the Watcher's Council best blog entry fete because of the insane level of work preceding a major regulatory hearing one of my clients has in mid-July. I only had the opportunity to read a few of the entries, so I sent apologies instead of rankings.

As some sort of cosmic pat on the back, my post came in second nonetheless. That was a very nice break in a very intense week.

I did get a chance to read Book's A Stunningly Dishonest Piece of Advocacy Writing About the Supreme Court when she posted it on Bookworm Room, and thought it a winner at the time -- and so did most everyone else. Congrats for your far and away win, Book.

As I said, my The Most Ridiculous Story of the Year? (2) came in second. That was followed by Joshuapundit's General Petraeus: Fighting On Two Fronts, Winning... and Playing for Time.

My nominee for best non-Council entry, Secularist Europe Silences Pro-Lifers and Creationists
from The Brussels Journal, came in third, topped by two I hope to read this weekend: The Rupture by Seraphic Secret and Muslim Speaks at My Church, Calls Me “Naive.” Also “Tough.”
from Anwyn's Notes in the Margin.

You can see and link to all the winners here.

Thanks again, Watcher, for all you do on this -- and I'll be a good boy next week.


Dem Talking Points

Last night, I nominated Newsweek columnist Sharon Begley's column This is Your Brain on Politics as one of the most ridiculous stories of the year. This morning, I want to share some of the tactical recommendations to the Dems presented in Begley's column.

The recommendations were made by Drew Westen of Emory University, whose book, “The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation,” was the starting point for Begley's ridiculous column.

I don't disagree with Westen's theory that emotions drive opinion formation more than rational thought, but I do disagree with his position that the GOP is skilled at emotional string-pulling while the Dems are inept. Dem presidential candidates don't appear to disagree, however, since Begley tells us two of them have approached Westen for help on their campaigns.

If he signs on, and I'm sure he wrote the book so he would get such an offer, here's the kind of talking points we an expect, excerpted from the book via Begley's column. First, abortion:
Westen has penned powerful sound bites and mini-speeches that Dems could use to justify their core positions on perennial issues. Abortion, and bills outlawing it (as GOP platforms have long called for) or requiring parental consent? “My opponent puts the rights of rapists above the rights of their victims, guaranteeing every rapist the right to choose the mother of his child. . . My opponent believes that if a 16-year-old girl is molested by her father and becomes pregnant, she should be forced by the government to have his child, and if she doesn’t want to she should be forced by the government to go to the man who raped her and ask for his consent.”
Doesn't it sound like the infamous "Republicans are going to kill Social Security" stuff? It's not like the Dems don't do this kind of thing all the time -- remember famous Dem Cameron Dias saying if Bush is elected, rape would become legal?

Begley, no doubt fabulously in favor of murdering the unborn, really likes this message, so it's pulled her emotional strings. But she already would have voted for this candidate, so we have to ask if the aggressive language will work.

To work the listener will have to forget the fact that most abortion laws have a rape exclusion; forget the fact that the rapist has no "right to choose the mother of his child," but rather has only the right to go to jail for a long, long time because of his crime; and forget the fact that parental notification laws have exclusions for parental rape.

Most voters who care about the abortion issue will see this as pandering and excessive, and the quote will not broaden the base for this candidate, although it may solidify it.

How about Westen's advice on gun control?
How about an ad showing a parade of Arab-looking men walking into a gun store, setting their money on the counter and walking out with three or four semi-automatics each, with this voice-over: “My opponent thinks you shouldn’t have to show a photo ID or get a background check to buy a handgun. He thinks anyone who wants an AK-47 should be able to buy one, no questions asked. What’s the point of fighting terrorists abroad if we’re going to arm them over here?”
It's a powerful image, indeed, but again, it's shallow and not factual.

For it to work, Westen will have to find a Dem who's up against a candidate who actually holds that belief, and he's going to have a hard time doing that. You have to know the issue before you can write effective talking points -- emotional or not -- and Westen fails because he hasn't bothered to find out what the pro-gun positions are. Ironically, he's accepted as true his emotional perceptions of what the positions are.

Finally, we go to Westen's proposal that Begley thinks would have given us President Gore if only Westen had been on the Gore campaign. He cues off this comment from Bush regarding Gore's Buddhist temple fundraising: “You know, going to a Buddhist temple and then claiming it wasn’t a fund-raiser isn’t my view of responsibility.”

Gore waffled it -- I think he said something about inventing either campaign finance reform or Buddhism, but I really can't remember -- and at that moment, the VEEP probably inspired Westen to right the book. Here's what Westen would have had him say:
“You have attacked my honor and integrity. I think it’s time to teach you a few old-fashioned lessons about character. When I enlisted to fight in the Vietnam War, you were talkin’ real tough about Vietnam. But when you got the call, you called your daddy and begged him to pull some strings so you wouldn’t have to go to war. So instead of defending your country with honor, you put some poor Texas millworker’s kid on the front line in your place to get shot at. Where I come from, we call that a coward.

“When I was working hard, raising my family, you were busy drinking yourself and your family into the ground. Why don’t you tell us how many times you got behind the wheel of a car with a few drinks under your belt? Where I come from, we call that a drunk.

“When I was serving in the U.S. Senate, your own father’s government had to investigate you on the charge that you’d swindled a bunch of old people out of their life savings by using insider knowledge to sell off stocks you knew were about to drop. Where I come from, we call that crooked. So governor, don’t you ever lecture me about character. And don’t you ever talk to me that way again in front of my family or my fellow citizens.”

This is the sort of "gee, if I'd only" thinking we all do after the fact, but in politics, you have to anticipate these questions long in advance and be prepared for them.

Reagan did that when prepping for his Mondale debate, knowing the age question would come up. Instead of going into a three paragraph ad hominem attack, Reagan just chuckled that he wouldn't hold his opponent's age and inexperience against him.

Now that's an emotional message -- short, clear, funny, witty, sharp, self-depreciating, honorable. It pulled every string right and was the end of the Mondale campaign.

Westen's approach is to haul up the garbage truck, pour a few gallons of foul-smelling false scent over it, and dump it on the stage. His message for Gore was long, personal, angry and inaccurate. It will not work because people don't want a long-winded, vindictive, angry and inaccurate president.

I hope Westen's been hired on to Hillary's campaign, because whoever hires this guy is going to lose ground, and she's got the most ground to lose.

hat-tip: Soccer Dad

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Most Ridiculous Story Of The Year? (3)

Fast on the heels of our second nominee for Most Ridiculous Story of the Year comes This is Your Brain on Politics, by Sharon Begley, an opinion writer for Newsweek.

It definitely fits the rules for a nomination: Entries must be work that serious writers present in all seriousness that goes far, far beyond the sublime and settle heavily into the imbecilic.

The piece is actually a review of a book by Drew Westen of Emory University, “The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation.” I don't disagree with Westen's s central finding as enunciated by Begley, which is that in the mechanics of opinion-formation, emotion trumps rationality. I see it daily in my work, which basically involves the formation and changing of public opinion, where rational approaches work, but take time to work. Emotional approaches are the microwave ovens of public opinion formation.

Granted, my agreement with Westen ends at the statement of his hypothesis. I find the illustrations he uses preposterous, like this one:
“People were drawn to Reagan [in the 1980 presidential race] because they identified with him, liked his emphasis on values over policy, trusted him, and found him authentic in his beliefs. It didn’t matter that they disagreed with most of his policy positions.”
People had just seen what a liberal Democrat could destroy in just four years, so Reagan's rational connection was very strong. People liked what he said. Plain, sensible, strong, American, conservative values didn't just sound good after Carter; they rang the rational bells because it was easy to understand that Reagan made sense and Carter didn't.

Westen aside, Begley earned her nomination for the commentary she provided, since she used Westen's book as nothing more than a platform for her blind as a bat, emotionally over-amped Democratic bias.

I wasn't even on the second click when Begley stopped me in my tracks, looping me back for a re-read of this:
After reading [the book] you won’t be surprised that Westen has been approached by the campaigns of “several” Democratic hopefuls (he is too discrete to say which) for advice on how to make use of findings about how the brain operates in the political arena. Why aren’t Republicans beating a path to his door? Because the GOP has already mastered the dark art of psych-ops—of pushing the right buttons in people’s brains to win their vote.
Here I always thought the GOP was the boring party.

Isn't it the Dems who threaten seniors with impending starvation every election, cajoling them to vote Democratic because "the Republicans want to kill Social Security?" Have I ever heard a Republican say he wants to kill Social Security? No?

Isn't it the Dems who play the race card in every black precinct, saying the GOP wants to take away the black man's right to vote?

Isn't it the Dems who papered colleges across the country with scary tales about how the GOP would reinstate the draft? And wasn't it a certain Dem Congressman who actually submitted that particular bill?

Despite these convincing examples, Begley insists that the Dems just don't get the whole idea of making emotional appeals.
Instead, their strategists start from an 18th-century vision of the mind as dispassionate, making decisions by rationally weighing evidence and balancing pros and cons. That assumption is a recipe for high-minded campaigning—and, often, electoral failure.
Yeah, that sure paints a picture of the chairman of the Democratic party, Howard Dean. Dispassionate, rational, balanced. Chuck Schumer, Dennis Kucinich, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Waxman, Maxine Powers, Ted Kennedy -- yeah, they're all a bunch of wonks who are so lost in rational thought and couldn't make an emotional attack if they had to.

What's' interesting about Begley is that she's so emotion-driven herself, as is evident in this passage:
The same forces were at work in 2004, when pollsters found that voters in small-town America placed more weight on issues unlikely to directly affect their lives, such as terrorism and violent crime and gay marriage in Massachusetts, than on those that were, such as mine safety. Positions on issues matter to the extent they incite voters’ emotions.
Notice how the issues she feels are "unlikely to affect their lives" are GOP issues. The fact that Dem issues are likely to affect their lives -- higher taxes, more government, more welfare bums around town -- and the impact that has on voters seems to be lost on Begley.

She can't imagine the GOP issues affecting her life, so she emotionally concludes that everyone thinks like her. But in small town America, folks remember 9/11. They have sons and daughters in the military. They go to church and hold marriage in high esteem. And they care about Americans, even its crackpot big city intellectuals like Begley, so they don't want them to get blown up by a terrorist.

Where exactly she got "mine safety" as something people in small towns would be concerned about is pretty quaint.

Even her parentheticals are pathetic:
(In 2000 the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, famously hostile toward federal intervention in state matters, overturned the decision of the Florida Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore and put the former in the White House. Go figure.)
The Supreme Court is famously hostile toward federal intervention in state matters? Really? Could someone explain Roe v. Wade to me? Brown v. Board of Education? And it was mere emotions that drove a Supreme Court that did not yet have two Bush appointees on it to rule against Gore?

Wow. Go figure. But then, even with my understanding of how effective emotions are, I guess I'm just not getting the concept. As an experiment, let's try to keep the people out of it. Let's look at an initiative, like Arnold's package of infrastructure bonds last year in CA. Arnold's got a heck of a personality and he tried to emote like crazy all over these propositions.

But I considered them carefully and ended up voting for a couple and not voting for the rest. Begley doesn't think I could do that.
Because emotions are central to beliefs and values, if an appeal is purely rational it is unlikely to tickle the emotional brain circuits that affect what we do in the voting booth.
She's done it. She's proved what I've always held -- that liberals are driven by emotion, whereas conservatives are more practical and rational. And she's done it by trying to convince us that the GOP has emotions down pat while they're a bunch of boring nebbishes -- and everything she's said to prove her point is drenched in emotions.

Next: A bit more on Westen's draft talking points for the Dems -- ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as Begley's review.

See also:
The Most Ridiculous Story of the Year
The Most Ridiculous Story Of The Year? (2)

hat-tip: Soccer Dad

Labels: ,

Two Mega-Quotes From Desgregation Case

Chief Justice Roberts has the best quote on the Supreme Courts' ruling today throwing out two race-based desegregation plans:
The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race. (hat-tip: Power Line)
That's the kind of lucid opinion-writing that earns a guy a gig as Chief Justice.

The quote that's as mega-bad as Roberts' is mega-good comes from a man who wants to earn the right to appoint Supreme Court justices: Barack Obama. Speaking at tonight's Dem Prez debate, he said:
"If it were not for [civil rights leaders who fought for Brown v. Board of Education and other precedents] I would not be standing here." (Breitbart)
Brown vs. Board of Education did nothing for Obama. Zero. Until he was 10, he was in school in Indonesia, where, the last time I checked, U.S. law has no reach. He spent the rest of his school life in Honolulu, probably the most diverse, racially mellow city in the nation.

Not only that, but he attended Punahou School all the way through high school. Punahou is noted for its financially and racially diverse student body.
Its Web site brags:
Our 3,750 students, in kindergarten through grade 12, reflect Hawaii's ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic diversity.
Obama was never involved in a school desegregation program, so it matters not one bit to him whether people fought for Brown v. Board of Education or not. It was just a bit of shameless pandering by a black man at Howard University who was trying to be more black than he is.


Quote Of The Day: Voices Of Fear Edition

"We know what they're against. We just don't know what they're for. Are we going to respond to the voices of fear? That is the issue."
-- Senator Ted Kennedy

Perhaps I should re-name this post "Thundering of the day," because that's how WaPo described Kennedy's temper tantrum after the much-hated immigration bill went down to defeat in the Senate today.

No, Teddy, the issue is that for once the people spoke up enough to say we're done cowering to the voices of lies, misrepresentations and cover-ups, the voices of fear, if you will, trying to convince us that your way is the only way.

And saying that the good people of America are so strongly against the bill because we're all a bunch of racists who are against Mexicans, well, that should be enough for the good people of Massachusetts to send you packing.


No Cheney Stories On The Right Side Of The Blogosphere

The other day, I chastised Leftyblogs for running away from news that positioned Iran as a warmongering state that is actively involved in acts of war against U.S. and Coalition troops in Iraq.

In the interest of a degree of fairness we can never expect from the left, let's look this morning at the shoe that's suddenly on the other foot. The story is a significant one -- the Senate's issuance of subpoenas to Bush and Cheney for NSA surveillance materials (with three Republicans on board with the vote), and the refusal of the Administration to comply.

I'll use the same measuring standard I used last time, which admittedly is hardly scientific: The "Discussion" posts attached to the articles picked up by Memeorandum on the story. It's not a balanced sight:

The first story, Impeach Cheney from Slate, tacks on these Discussion blogs: The Impolitic, At-Largely, Danger Room, and State of the Day. A Lefty bunch.

Next comes Salon's The Imperial Vice Presidency, tagged with the blogs BartBlog, The Washington Note and Prairie Weather, another group of "Dick Cheney is the Devil" types.

That's followed by Harper's Cheney and the National Security Secrets Fraud, with just a tag from The Moderate Voice, who's opinion is, well, moderately anti-Cheney.

Finally, there's NYT's White House Drops Vice President's Dual Role Argument as Moot, with tag-alongs The Carpetbagger Report and TPMmuckraker.

Not a Power Line or Malkin or Hewitt or LGF among them. Suspicious, I checked each, and the story's not there. As usual, Memeorandum is scrupulously objective.

This is the weakness of the blogosphere: We tend to feed only in the cafeteria line that pleases us, and if we don't broaden our data gathering beyond our favorite blogs, we will be at risk of becoming like Germans limited to the one-sided outpourings of Goebbels. We're seeing this already on the left side of the blogosphere, where if you don't toe the party line, you're drubbed out in shame.

The story merits the attention of conservative blogs more familiar with the matter than C-SM. For my part, I stand by the NSA program as completely defensible despite the shots fired against it, and believe that therefore a vigorous defense is necessary. But I also feel the program is vitally important, so questions regarding its proper use need to be resolved -- hopefully without public squabbling.

I am deeply troubled by Cheney's recent behavior. I see no justification for his "dual role" argument and see it as dangerous to the principles of the Republic. I'm therefore gratified that the White House has charted a separate defense, and decided not to support Cheney's attempt to carve out a new definition of the vice presidency.

We would all be well-served to remember that Al Gore was once a vice president, and the current definition of the office served us all quite well then.

I despise the Congressional subpoena-fired witch hunts because they look backwards for blame when we should be looking forward for victory in the war on terror. While the NSA programs must be well-defined so presidents can be free to use them without fear of scandal, the course the Congress has taken is appallingly cavalier about national security.

Subpoenas and grandstanding Congressional hearings are the worst way to accomplish clarifying the use of electronic surveillance internationally and nationally in the war on terror. It would be far better to hammer out the process through the Intelligence committees, the Attorney General's office and the White House.

That will not happen, however, not because Bush is Imperial, but because the Dems have so poisoned the water with their Bush Derangement Syndrome that such solutions are impossible.

And if I were linked up to Memeorandum, that's what I'd say.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mongols, Herring, Sunspots And Warmies

Far and away, the most fascinating course I took in college was Mongols in Medieval Europe, taught by a fine Hungarian gentleman, Denis Sinor, who moonlighted as Nixon's point man on Mongolia. (I don't expect he got too many calls ....)

Sinor had a very slim historical record from which to build his history, so his hour-plus lectures typically consisted of a series of seemingly unrelated historical snipits he'd gathered from England to China, which he would pull together in the last five minutes a la Agatha Christie into a nifty conclusion about what the Mongols were up to at that particular point in time.

I was reminded of Professor Sinor when I read some new sunspot/climate change research today because Sinor started one lecture with details on the depleted herring catch off Denmark in the 16oos -- and depleted fish harvests were what fueled this new round of research by R. Timothy Patterson. (I got the whole story via Nexis; you can get the intro at the Financial Times. and the whole thing if you pay up.)

Patterson got my attention from the get-go:
Politicians and environmentalists these days convey the impression that climate-change research is an exceptionally dull field with little left to discover. We are assured by everyone ... that "the science is settled." ...

The fact that science is many years away from properly understanding global climate doesn't seem to bother our leaders at all. Inviting testimony only from those who don't question political orthodoxy on the issue, parliamentarians are charging ahead with the impossible and expensive goal of "stopping global climate change."
Patterson is not one who thinks the debate is over, because the science is not over.
Climate-change research is now literally exploding with new findings. Since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the field has had more research than in all previous years combined and the discoveries are completely shattering the myths.
He may just be the biggest myth-shatterer of all:
My research team began to collect and analyze core samples from the bottom of deep Western Canadian fjords. The regions in which we chose to conduct our research, Effingham Inlet on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, and in 2001, sounds in the Belize-Seymour Inlet complex on the mainland coast of British Columbia, were perfect for this sort of work.

The topography of these fjords is such that they contain deep basins that are subject to little water transfer from the open ocean and so water near the bottom is relatively stagnant and very low in oxygen content. As a consequence, the floors of these basins are mostly lifeless and sediment layers build up year after year, undisturbed over millennia. ...

Ours is one of the highest-quality climate records available anywhere today and in it we see obvious confirmation that natural climate change can be dramatic. For example, in the middle of a 62-year slice of the record at about 4,400 years ago, there was a shift in climate in only a couple of seasons from warm, dry and sunny conditions to one that was mostly cold and rainy for several decades.
Basically, what Patterson's crew found in the cores were dark bands from rainy winters, when alluvium washed down into the fjords, and marine animal residue from the warm periods. The warmer the period, the lusher and thicker the animal bands, the colder, the wider the dark bands, so band widths and material intensity create quite an accurate record.

What he found was as clear as the greenhouse gas-exhaling nose on Al Gore's face: The weather cycles reflected in the cores match with remarkable precision the cycles of the Sun. And why not? The Sun, after all, is the source of virtually all energy on the earth.
Specifically, we find a very strong and consistent 11-year cycle throughout the whole record in the sediments and diatom remains. This correlates closely to the well-known 11-year "Schwabe" sunspot cycle, during which the output of the sun varies by about 0.1%.

Sunspots, violent storms on the surface of the sun, have the effect of increasing solar output, so, by counting the spots visible on the surface of our star, we have an indirect measure of its varying brightness. Such records have been kept for many centuries and match very well with the changes in marine productivity we are observing.

In the sediment, diatom and fish-scale records, we also see longer period cycles, all correlating closely with other well-known regular solar variations. In particular, we see marine productivity cycles that match well with the sun's 75-90-year "Gleissberg Cycle," the 200-500-year "Suess Cycle" and the 1,100-1,500-year "Bond Cycle."
Wow -- that sure seems like powerful evidence for solar-influenced warming, not anthropomorphic, nasty SUV, global warming. But it's just one study, right? Wrong.
Our finding of a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called "proxies") is not unique. Hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: The sun appears to drive climate change.
Research like this could cause real problems for the Warmies because we can hardly force social change in order to regulate the Sun, can we?

It's a good thing the global warming debate is over; otherwise we'd have to accept Patterson's compelling sunspot data andh te Greenies would have to go hunting for their next terrifying bogeyman.

hat-tip: Jim

Labels: ,

Iran Riots And The Media

Andrew Sullivan rightly laments the dearth of coverage over the rioting that's been going on in Iran since the Mullahs began rationing gas:
For some reason, this isn't front-page news. It should be.
I know what he's thinking: NY Times and WaPo, the media that matter to him. And he's right: Neither has it on its online front page, and it's disgusting that they don't.

There's one other media outlet that matters to Sullivan and his buddies: Fox News, the media outlet they vilify as the lapdog of the right. Since the right wants to -- no, needs to, in their eyes -- play up fear of Islamofascism and democratization as the roadway to peace, then Andrew Sullivan shouldn't be surprised to find this story on the top of the Fox News Web site.

Ah, then he'll be surprised to know that it's almost not. Here's what the dreaded network thinks is important today, top to bottom:
  • Immigration bill at brink
  • Dark discovery in the desert (a murder story; standard Foxfodder)
  • Raging floods kill Texas boy
  • Return home plan for illegals
  • Blair's gig: Mideast envoy
  • Michigan family faces deportation without law
  • And, tada, Fiery protest on Iran's gas stations
That's pretty low on the page -- just about even with Passenger Flies Into Rage Over Apple Juice and the video coverage of Woman: Starburst Dislocated My Jaw.

Really, what is the Left's hysteria with Fox coming from? Even the stalwart conservative voices -- O'Reilly and Hannity -- spend most of their time talking about the lastest missing cute blonde, not any issue of substance.

Notwithstanding its remaining periodic moments of charged debate and clear-thinking commentary, Fox has fallen into mind-numbing stupidity. It's been terribly frightening to watch this happen because the executives at Fox are reading their data on the mind of the American people and concluding that the new, lousy Fox is giving more people more of what they want.

At least there's rioting over gas prices in Iran -- what an exquisite irony! -- to cheer me up.

Hat-tip: Real Clear Politics

Labels: ,

Questionable Poll Finds Kids Are Liberal. Duh.

The NYTimes has a poll they say reveals that late-teen early-20s folks are growing more liberal. (story here; poll results here) I'm having trouble finding that result in the numbers. Is an answer that Iraq is the biggest issue facing the country a sign that they're more liberal? Of course not; I think it (the larger issue of the war on terror, actually) is the biggest issue.

But if there's' a sign they're more liberal, it's in this question:
13. Do you think your generation will be better off, worse off, or about the same as your parents' generation?
Better off 25 Worse off 48 Same 25 DK/NA 2
The world of liberals is a world of hopelessness and despair. You have to think everything's on the way down tubes that are well lubricated to ensure a fast fall; otherwise, you would consider solutions other than massive government intervention.

And they do support massive government intervention:
  • By 62 percent for to 26 percent against, they favor government-funded job training. Why? Can't they do it themselves like we did?
  • By 60 to 28 percent, they want government to provide health insurance to those who can't get it together to afford it (not the exact wording of the question, unfortunately)
  • By 63 to 27 percent, they think government should be involved in fixing gas prices
  • By 62 to 32 percent, they favor a big new government health care system

Their negative views of the future have been molded by their hysteric and socialistic teachers. Global warming as been portrayed to youngsters since elementary school as a terror on the verge of overrunning the world. They've been taught that they're not independent and free, but rather a part of the village that needs the help of the village.

And as they've progressed through liberal academia, they've been smacked with disaster after disaster: population, energy and, of course, Bush is the "worst president ever."

It is clear, as expected, that they are more liberal, and more likely to vote Democratic, than older Americans they're compared to -- but since when is that new. Heartless if you're conservative when young, stupid if you're liberal when old. But in some areas, they're quite conservative: An even split on abortion, and very interestingly, 68 percent favoring some or heavy restrictions on immigration, and only 30 percent favoring open borders.

Only 20 percent never attend church, and 47 percent attend with frequency.

Here's the clinker in the data: Only 659 people nationwide were contacted. That's a very small sample for a national poll, and it's biased because the calling pool started with numbers that had responded to previous polls.

Since costly options are required to screen calls, and because people who don't work tend to be home more and have time to take polls, telephone polling tends to reach a lower skew on the affluence scale -- and that translates as more calls for government intervention.

So, to summarize: It's a weak poll that basically shows kids will be kids. But more sinister, it serves its liberal sponsors -- NYT, CBS and MTV -- some tasty fodder for their "we're all liberal, aren't we" grist mill.

hat-tip: memeorandum

Labels: , ,

Wednesday Reading

I wish I could just sit back today and read this stuff, but I'm going to San Francisco to present a client case to the California Coastal Commission's Executive Director so I'm a ball of nerves without much spare time. But the Watcher's Council has done another stellar job this week of compiling some of the most compelling reading in the blogosphere.

My nominations were The Most Ridiculous Story of the Year? (2), about a howlingly stupid analysis of Middle East foreign policy options, and for non-Council entry, The Brussels Journal's Secularist Europe Silences Pro-Lifers and Creationists.

Here's the full list; winners will be posted here either late, late Thursday or first thing Friday.

Council links:

  1. A Sort of Haunted Look
    The Glittering Eye
  2. SciFi Channel: Humans As Invaders
    The Colossus of Rhodey
  3. Back America
    Done With Mirrors
  4. Abbas Over Easy
    Soccer Dad
  5. ‘Life With An Old Dog’ -- Hard Lessons Learned Hard
    ‘Okie’ on the Lam
  6. A Stunningly Dishonest Piece of Advocacy Writing About the Supreme Court
    Bookworm Room
  7. Is Tinker Dead?
    Rhymes With Right
  8. Dividing and Conquering, or Dancing With the Devil?
    Big Lizards
  9. The NEA: Boondoggle Or Money Well Spent?
    The Education Wonks
  10. The Most Ridiculous Story of the Year? (2)
    Cheat Seeking Missiles
  11. General Petraeus: Fighting On Two Fronts, Winning... and Playing for Time
  12. Tinkering With Immigration Bomb Will Only Set It Off
    Right Wing Nut House
Non-council links:
  1. U.S. Strategy at a Crossroads
  2. A Bong Hit to Free Speech
    Phi Beta Cons
  3. A Modest Proposal On Reforming Social Security Preceding the Boomer Flood
    Immodest Proposals
  4. The Rupture
    Seraphic Secret
  5. It's a Great Day for Freedom of Speech
    Tapscott's Copy Desk
  6. Professional Protester, Jihadi-Style
    Snapped Shot
  7. The Human Rights Outrage In Iran... and a Challenge to Rosie O'Donnell and Her Ilk
    Michelle Malkin
  8. Iraq Report: al Qaeda Strikes at the Seams
    The Fourth Rail
  9. Women, Lost and Found
    La Shawn Barber's Corner
  10. Secularist Europe Silences Pro-Lifers and Creationists
    The Brussels Journal
  11. Are Idiots of This Magnitude Born or Made?
    Dr. Sanity
  12. Muslim Speaks at My Church, Calls Me “Naive.” Also “Tough.”
    Anwyn's Notes in the Margin
  13. The Rape of a Name
    Rite Wing TechnoPagan
  14. The Disadvantaged Majority.
Thanks again, Watcher, for putting on this show every week.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Idiots, Idiots, IDIOTS!

What a horrible day. First the Senate refused to allow meaningful debate on the most hated piece of legislation in America. Then Bill Lugar and Boo-hoo Voinovich joined the Concede to Terror bunch and joined forces with the scummy likes of Dennis Kucinich and Harry Reid.

Then, in the midst of this mega-insanity, we find that Congress still has time for micro-insanity:

The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee overwhelmingly passed a resolution Tuesday demanding an apology from Japan over the sexual exploitation of young women in the Asia-Pacific region by the Japanese military during World War II.

The nonbinding resolution was approved by 39-2. Rep. Michael Honda, a California Democrat of Japanese descent, and some Republicans submitted in January the resolution about the women, known euphemistically in Japan as "comfort women."

"What they said today in their vote was that, yes, there were victims, there were women who were used as sex slaves, yes, there was a systematic military program that captured, coerced women and girls to be used as sex slaves," Honda told reporters after the passage of the resolution.

"It is time that the Japanese government approach and acknowledge, take full responsibility and apologize in an unambiguous, formal way," he said. (source)

Well that sure was a terrible thing the Japanese did ... more than 60 years ago. And they sure should apologize.

Maybe someone should tell Rep. Honda that the Japanese have, in fact, apologized. Multiple times. All he has to do is look here and here. Perhaps Honda hasn't heard of the Internet; it's a pretty amazing research tool for even semi-intelligent people ... but I acknowledge that it doesn't work so well for idiots.

And while they're at it, smack Honda upside the head to get his dim attention and tell him that this is between Japan and Korea and China and has not one teenie-tiny, itty-bitty thing to with the United States.

In case you're wondering, here's how one of our few great allies had to say in response to the vote:

Japanese Ambassador to the United States Ryozo Kato has warned that the passage of what he says is a factually unfounded resolution would harm otherwise sound Japan-U.S. relations.

Yesterday I reported that three Japanese banks had backed the U.S. position and refused to pay Iran in anything other than dollars on oil purchases. While Europe blows us off and pays in Euros, Japan, which is utterly dependent on imported oil, stood by us, showing considerably more courage than nearly any member of Congress showed today.

How about a high-five for our friends? Not on your life. Why do something reasonable when you can toss off a nonbinding insult?

Labels: ,

Voting With Their Feet

WSJ has a fascinating story this a.m. (subscribers only, probably) about Venezuelan oil workers who have gotten out of el Dodge because of Chavez, who is giving literal meaning to the pronunciation of his name, Hugo.

The 45-year-old engineer is part of a swelling colony of Venezuelan expats who say they were driven into exile by a hostile government. Many assert they were purged after a long strike in 2002 at Petróleos de Venezuela SA, the state-owned oil giant known as PdVSA. More recent arrivals initially found work with private oil companies operating in Venezuela in 2003, but lost their jobs this year when Hugo Chávez wrested control of the companies' holdings. They call themselves the "twice fired."

Frigid, remote Alberta has become one of the world's fastest growing enclaves of Venezuelans, rivaling such warm-weather spots as Weston, Fla., outside Miami; and Sugar Land, Texas, near Houston. There are now 3,000 Venezuelan-Albertan families, up from 800 or so last year. Some Albertans now call Evergreen, a Calgary housing development, "Vene-green" because of the 100 families who have bought split-level homes there, and dangle Venezuelan flags from car rearview mirrors. ...

The loss of so many skilled oil workers has hit PdVSA hard. (See related article on page A8.) Since Mr. Chávez took power in 1999, Venezuela's oil production -- according to U.S. government statistics -- is down to 2.4 million barrels a day, from 3.1 million barrels a day, despite high prices. (Venezuela has consistently accused the U.S. of undercounting PdVSA's production in recent years.)

Back in the day when despots could seal their borders better than we can, they could keep their scientists, engineers and skilled workers well shackled. Chavez isn't having the same luck, and his ineptness reminds me of African nations on the way to statehood that crumbled when their skilled white populations fled.

Chavez' days may well be numbered. But we said that about Castro more than once.

Labels: , ,

At War With Iran In All But Name

A while back, I posted something on the shadow war we're fighting with Iran in Iraq and a Lib attacked me for making assumptions about the fine Iranian government and more or less accused me of being, although he didn't use the word, an Iranophobe.

It's bizarre considering how little tripe masquerading as proof they need to condemn all things Bushian that they refuse to condemn the Iranian Islamists of having ill intent. What do they need, Ahmadinejad in fatigues at the front?

How about this instead?
IRANIAN forces are being choppered over the Iraqi border to bomb Our Boys, intelligence chiefs say.

Military experts claim this worrying move means we are at WAR with Iran in all but name.

Last night an intelligence source told The Sun: “It is an extremely alarming development and raises the stakes considerably. In effect, it means we are in a full on war with Iran — but nobody has officially declared it.

“We have hard proof that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have crossed the border to attack us.

“It is very hard for us to strike back. All we can do is try to defend ourselves. We are badly on the back foot.”

Our Boys picked up the Iranian helicopters on radar crossing into empty desert.

The sightings have been confirmed to The Sun by very senior military sources.

At least two Brit squaddies are thought to have been killed by bombs planted during these incursions into Maysan province — Corporal Ben Leaning, 24, and Trooper Kristen Turton, 27.

A further 44 British deaths have also been linked to the highly advanced bombs, rockets and mortars which originated in Iran. (The Sun)

AFP confirms the story.

The Left will largely ignore this story. They'll consider it an isolated incident and be dismissive because the UK military reported it instead of Cindy Sheehan. Do you doubt me? Well, look at the story's discussion tag at Memeorandum:

Discussion: Captain's Quarters, Hot Air, National Review, The Newshoggers, Unqualified Offerings, Atlas Shrugs, Gay Patriot and Little Green Footballs

See any leftyblogs there? Nope. It's fine if the Left wants to whistle nervously and look the other way, but it makes them irrelevant to the debate over the global war on terror. If they can't even acknowledge who's fighting, what voice do they have in determining how to fight?

Iran's al Quds Brigade has been caught training and supplying anti-Coalition terrorists, and consequently have been responsible, if somewhat indirectly, for the deaths of hundreds of our troops. Now they're stepping it up.

Operation Arrowhead Ripper
is nearby. Why not see if we can catch some Iranian intervenors red-handed, kill them in a skirmish, and call an international press conference to ask Iran if they'd like to send someone over to pick up the bodies.

Up until now, the Bush Admin has been nearly as silent as the Left on Iran's interventions into Iran: an announcement now and then, but precious little action. There's a lot we can do short of declaring war, and it's time to do it.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 25, 2007

Achtung! New Fronteirs In Religious Bigotry

Let's put these four dislikes of mine in ascending order, starting with the least repulsive: Tom Cruise, who's still plenty repulsive. Then the Church of Scientology, then religious discrimination, and finally, Adolph Hitler. So this story just whips me this way and that:

Germany has barred the makers of a film about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military sites because its star, Tom Cruise, is a Scientologist.

Cruise, also one of the film's producers, is a leading member of the Church of Scientology, which the German government does not recognise as a church. Berlin says it masquerades as a religion in order to make money, a charge Scientology leaders reject.

The US actor has been cast as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, leader of the unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the Nazi dictator in July 1944 with a bomb hidden in a briefcase.

A defence ministry spokesman, Harald Kammerbauer, said the film-makers "will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult".

The film, planned for a 2008 release and to be directed by Bryan Singer and co-starring Kenneth Branagh, is called Valkyrie after Operation Valkyrie, the plot's codename.

The main site of interest would be the "Bendlerblock" memorial inside the defence ministry complex in Berlin. (Guardian)

I'm happy to see Cruise and his dangerous and deceitful cult publicly humiliated by nothing less than an entire national government. The publicity generated may just save some vulnerable souls from Proctology ... oh, sorry ... Scientology.

Delightful as I find all this, it doesn't make me smile because it's repulsive for a nation to determine that any religion is a cult and ban it. If they can find a religion guilty of fraud, scams or personal harm, then by all means prosecute -- but it's a huge leap from criminal prosecution to ban a religion entirely.

Put this together with recent decisions in Germany against mainstream conservative Christian beliefs and it's easy to conclude that Germany wouldn't have to go far to declare Christianity a cult, too. And if Christianity is a cult, then all faiths can certainly follow.

So my head's gone this way and that, and then it gets the irony whammy: von Stauffenburg was driven to assassinate Hitler because his early anger at Hitler's betrayal of the Catholics grew as it became evident what Germany was doing to the Jews.

So Germany has used Cruise's religion as an excuse to ban Cruise from making a film about a hero who risked all to try to kill Hitler in order to stop the Reich's persecution of people for their religious faith.

Really, Europe is just too rich.

Labels: , ,

Japan Banks Blow Off Iran

Whoddathunkit? The Bush Admin's calls to our allies to close out economic options for Iran are actually being listened to.

Iran was hoping to get oil payments from Japan in a currency other than dollars because the mullahs are afraid we'll make it tough for them to use those dollars. Japan slammed the door on their request:
LONDON, June 25 (AP) - (Kyodo)— Three major Japanese banks have restricted loans to Iran and rejected its request to pay for oil imports in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, a British newspaper said in its Monday edition.

The Financial Times said, citing banking and official sources, that the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Corporate Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. had informed Iranian authorities in April that they would not conduct new business in Iran.

The report said the Japanese banks' move adding financial pressure on Iran was in response to signals from Washington.

Iran is asking its business counterparts to make payments in currencies other than the dollar on concerns about the vulnerability of its dollar assets to a freeze by U.S. authorities after its continued nuclear development in contravention to a U.N. Security Council resolution.

Quoting a banker who asked not to be named, the report said the banks' action followed pressure from Washington and reflected a hardening line toward Iran on the part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

It said the latest development places Japanese banks "ahead" of many European counterparts, which have reduced dollar transactions with Iran but are generally still willing to do business in euros.

Maybe now the pressure on the Europeans can increase. As long as they bow down and face Tehran three times a day to get their oil, the mullahs are free to exploit their people and pursue nukes.

Labels: , ,

Chances For A True Iraq Debate: Zip

I sometimes get upside-down feelings when I think back to my thoughts about Clinton's various military interventions, especially in the Balkans. Was I that different then from Dems now who lay into Bush with such vindictive?

I like to think the answer is no, and there are reasons to support it: 9/11, Saddam's long history of brutality and his quest for WMDs, and most of all, the different goals. Clinton's was to stop a conflict; Bush's is democratization as the only way to stop jihad. On the other hand, I can't deny that rank politics can be behind high-flying defenses. That's the point Kurt Anderson, who doesn't like Bush and thinks the war is a complete disaster, makes in New York Magazine:

It was our weakness for childlike, black-and-white explanation that got us into the Iraq debacle. To the neocons and Bush, the task at hand was simple, like a fairy tale: Saddam was a monster, and destroying his government would be easy, after which the liberated Iraqis could build a friendly democracy. No real thought was given to all that might go wrong. What counted was the beautiful big idea.

The antiwar left’s conviction now that everything will be fine if we simply ship home all our troops is born of a similar impulse, a wishful naïveté so convinced of its own righteousness that it refuses to imagine vast unintended consequences, let alone to anguish over them. Little thought is given to what might happen after we leave. What if, instead of 100 murdered Iraqi civilians a day, the number is in the thousands? What happens if ethnic cleansing becomes state policy? And the Saudis intervene to protect their Sunni brothers from slaughter? And Turkey invades the Kurdish provinces? What counts is the beautiful, big idea.

The neocons and the lefties have in common a shrugging callousness to the horrors their simple plans unintentionally enable in Iraq: eliminating the Baathist dictatorship uncorked a civil war, and eliminating U.S. troops may well turn it into a much bigger one—but it’s the Iraqis to blame for the chaos and murder, not us.

It's refreshing to think that thousands of anti-war New Yorkers read Anderson's piece, and I hope they're pondering it today. We're just a few weeks away from Gen. Patreus' report on the status of the war, and it would be a fine thing indeed if America were in a position to take in that information honestly and openly, without the political strutting that is so destructive of effective war policy.

But with the report coming out just a few months before the first big primaries, that's not going to happen. What Anderson refers to as "the great pseudo-debate" on Iraq will continue, as politicians debate their issues in Iraq clothing, and we need a real debate on the courses ahead, and the consequences of each.

The GOP candidates, caught between their the razor teeth of public opinion and their professed strong belief in the cause, are better equipped for honesty in the debate. The Dems, wary of the vicious attacks from the anti-war Left and having no fondness for anything Bushian, won't be able to say an honest word.

And that's a shame.

hat-tip: Real Clear Politics

Labels: , ,

Just Another Day In San Francisco

It was gay pride day in San Francisco yesterday, and you can see that it was a bit more colorful than the local conservative Republican pride day here in South OC -- an event that is so conservative no one shows for it.

Look who showed up at the parade -- Elizabeth Edwards, mom of two, wife of a somewhat girly presidential candidate.

Whatever she said to the members of the Alice B. Toklas (famous for hash-laced brownies, as I recall) Democratic Club in an effort to pander to whatever voters her odd husband might appeal to, it ultimately wasn't noteworthy enough to make the SFChron's coverage. But this did:

The parade included a retinue of politicians, from Mayor Gavin Newsom, who received applause and shouts of gratitude for his sanction of same-sex unions, to gay political leaders including Assemblyman Mark Leno, Sen. Carole Migden, and Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty.

There were also an array of corporations with contingents in the parade, such as Google, Wells Fargo, Delta, Bud Light, Bank of America, Kaiser, Comcast and Macy's, to name a few.

And there were the more homespun groups -- such as the lesbian midwives, with a dozen or so marchers -- and the assorted drag queens, lion dancers, stilt walkers, balloon men and naked people. There was even a group holding a banner reading, "Straights for gay rights."

And, of course, let's not forget the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an offense to most right-thinking Catholics, who probably would not have found solace when the Catholic Gays and Lesbians marched by in bikinis and headdresses.

Thank God for San Francisco. Without it, where would all these folks feel normal?

Photos: SFChron

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 24, 2007

One Reason Why I Like Dogs

Labels: ,

Emancipate The Trees And Streams!

An bunch of tree-hugging bozos in Pennsylvania are attacking the fundamental property rights of landowners in a unique and frightening way: They're working to establish constitutional rights for ecosystems.

Three towns have already jumped on the bandwagon. (Did the making of that bandwagon violate the constitutional rights of some trees? Hmmm.)

Here's the scoop from the Pittsburgh Tribune:
An environmental group in Chambersburg is working with towns throughout the country to grant legal standing to ecosystems. That strategy, hatched by Thomas Linzey, executive director of the Community Environmental Defense Fund, asserts municipalities' powers of local control.

Linzey's nonprofit helps communities draft ordinances to enforce their own decisions. Four Pennsylvania towns have passed laws granting rights to Mother Nature since September.

Tamaqua in Schuylkill County was the first in the state -- and the nation. Its leaders decided to prohibit corporations from dumping waste in the borough. Blaine Township, near Taylorstown in Washington County, became the third in October and the first municipality in the United States to try to ban mining. ...

"Abolitionists didn't form a slavery protection agency like the Environmental Protection Agency," [Ben Price, projects director for the group] said. "They challenged the unjust structure of the law."

Let's put the implications of this simply: If you own property with any of that natural stuff on it and you want to build something, these groups would file a lawsuit to stop you on behalf of nature. They would pace meaningfully in front of the jury box, delivering impassioned arguments on behalf of the trees, brooks and bushes and their non-human inhabitants.

It'll be you vs. the cute little bunny. You won't have a chance.

It's just loony enough to work ... if the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is anything like Florida's.

There's nothing new under the sun, by the way. PETA's been trying to secure constitutional rights for animals for some time now, with no success ... yet.

hat-tip: Jim

Labels: ,

If You're Gonna Be Green, Be Deep Green

Sedona AZ is one of the most beautiful places in America ... and one of the trippiest, with New Age and hippy vibes coursing through the town. So it's no wonder one Sedona resident wants to make the town -- famous for its red rocks -- even more famous for its greeness.
America's Red Rock Cathedral is becoming a Green Model of Hope for Earth's children. "To keep Sedona healthy and enhance global cooling, our community is taking bold measures," said Green Sedona founder Matthew Turner, a 34 year old environmental scientist.

"Turner offers simple natural solutions which raise the green bar for his Generation X, plus Y and Z," said Suzy "Chapstick" Chaffee, co-chairman of the partnering Native Voices Foundation. (source)
Didn't know "Chapstick" was a native American name. But then, I didn't know "Suzy" was either. That's Sedona for you.

So what does Turner want to impose on hip people of Sedona? Let me count the impositions: Only natural construction materials and cleaning products; a ban on synthetic fragrances, as some Canadian cities have imposed; low flow toilets (aka "two-flushers"); solar and wind energy; mandated "Energy Star" appliances and lighting; an end to turf, with native plants replacing lawns; requirements for hybrids or bio-diesel vehicles; required recyclable shopping bags, and mercury filters in dental offices.

No impositions there!

Turner thinks this will do more than simply cool the planet. His idea is even bigger: to purge the human body of industrial byproducts:
"Together we can reverse the resulting two billion Earth Citizens suffering and dying from cancer alone, while preventing smog, a major cause of global warming."
He seems to be at cross-purposes. Human beings expel what? ...what? ...class? That's right! Carbon dioxide. And carbon dioxide is what? ... class? That's right! A big bad greenhouse gas! Not nearly as bad as water vapor, but still.

So why would Turner want us to live longer? When we die, we stop exhaling greenhouse gases. So Turner needs to add two things to his proposed mandate for Sodona:

First, a ban on cremation, so our carbon-drenched bodies can be forced to decompose underground, sequestering the carbon, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere.

And second, a ban on all medicines and medical procedures, so we die faster, furthering global cooling.

Come on, Turner! I live in the carbon-guzzling OC, not Sedona, and I can come up with this stuff! What's wrong with you, you half-baked Warmie? Stop being a sissy! If you're going to be green, go deep, deep green, not some washed-out, wimpy green!

hat-tip: Jim

Labels: ,