Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, December 31, 2007

Clueless Clinton

I admit I made the same mistake, but I'm not running for president, touting my superior foreign policy skills. Thomas Houlahan, via Power Line, sets it all straight:
"If President Musharraf wishes to stand for election," [Senator Clinton] told Blitzer, "then he should abide by the same rules that every other candidate will have to follow."

My immediate reaction was: "Did I hear that correctly?"

As a Pakistan analyst, I know for a fact that Pervez Musharraf doesn't wish to stand for election any time soon.

The upcoming elections are for the next parliament. Musharraf was just elected president of Pakistan, overwhelmingly, by popularly elected electors on Oct. 6. He's just begun his five-year term as the president of the country. Why would he ever want to run for one seat in parliament? It wouldn't make sense.

In other words, it's like Hillary confusing the 2006 congressional elections with the 2008 presidential.

After several days, surrounded by her own magnificent mind and her massive staff, she went on George Stephanopolous' show and ...
Referring to a possible delay in the elections, Sen. Clinton said: "I think it will be very difficult to have a real election. You know, Nawaz Sharif [leader of the PML-N, an opposition party] has said he's not going to compete. The PPP is in disarray with Benazir's assassination. He [President Pervez Musharraf] could be the only person on the ballot. I don't think that's a real election."
Bhutto wasn't running for President. Sharif isn't. Musharraf isn't. But Hillary is.

All this happened days ago and Houlahan is the first one to point out her error. Somehow I feel that if any of the GOP candidates had made the same mistake ... twice ... the media would have been all over it, at their mocking best.

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The Most Ridiculous Story Of The Year

There were certainly more than four stories this year to qualify for "most ridiculous story of the year," but given that I didn't start chronicling them until April 25, and that I still have to actually work for a living, rather than read all I'd like to read, four it is.

The criteria for selection aren't easy to meet: Entries must be work that serious writers present in all seriousness that goes far, far beyond the sublime and settle heavily into the imbecilic.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the nominees, in order of their original appearance in C-SM:

First, Naomi Wolf's "Fascist America in 10 easy steps." Wolf is, of course, the author of much ridiculousness, much of it ending up in The Guardian, which is a repository of such stuff. But in this piece, Wolf lets lose all her paranoid delusions, not stopping at merely comparing Bush to Hitler, but:
From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And ... George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all.
She then lists the ten steps Bush is supposedly following to turn America into a dictatorship, stuff like "Create a Gulag," "Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy," and "Develop a thug caste," in this case, "angry Republican men."

Never mind that mobs angry Republican men have not rounded up scores of Muslims (the internal/external threat) and sent them to Guantanamo (the Gulag), Wolf is, very ridiculously, convinced her home country -- which lets her write and publish this filth -- is becoming a police state.

Second, Steven Simon and Ray Takeyh in their WaPo column "We've Lost. Here's How To Handle It." Cuing off the June mosque bombings in Samarra and Basra, Simon and Takeyh decide:
The war in Iraq is lost. The only question that remains -- for our gallant troops and our blinkered policymakers -- is how to manage the inevitable. What the United States needs now is a guide to how to lose -- how to start thinking about minimizing the damage done to American interests, saving lives and ultimately wresting some good from this fiasco.
The authors miss the obvious point: No one loses a war unless someone has won it -- and not realizing that makes everything that follows, in a word, ridiculous.

It's easy to read this in light of what's happened following the Surge, which proved the authors false again and again, as in this case:
U.S. troops can't beat the insurgency on their own; our forces are too few and too isolated to compete with the insurgents for the public's support.
It is obvious that al-Qaeda has lost the public's support and we helped that happen not by the sheer number of our troops, but by their sheer decency and al-Qaeda's sheer savagery.

But that's the easy critique, and hardly the most damning. That goes to Simon and Takeyh's dismissal of speculation that bloodshed would follow our retreat as "unknowable ... In fact, history suggests that the consequences of a U.S. defeat will not be that dire."

Unknowable? Not dire? Can you say Vietnam? Cambodia?

The two have a solution, though, that they say will make retreat very do-able and positive: Contain Iran; tamp down the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and return to realism.

Oh, yeah. We'll use all our great new credibility, gained by letting al-Qaeda defeat us, to do just that.

Third, This is Your Brain on Politics, by Sharon Begley, an opinion writer for Newsweek, a book by Drew Westen of Emory University, “The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation.”

The book itself is a disagreeable thing with a central thesis I generally agree with: Emotion trumps rationality in opinion formation. But Begley earned her nomination for using Westen's book as nothing more than a platform for her blind as a bat, emotionally over-amped Democratic bias.

She dismisses GOP policy and its appeal to large blocks of American voters:
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. (emphasis added)
Have you ever heard a GOP candidate say the Dems would kill Social Security if they were elected? And don't even get me started on playing the race card. Button-pushing is not a single party deal, but Begley is blinded to reality.

No, she sees Dem mind as a high-minded thing, "dispassionate, making decisions by rationally weighing evidence and balancing pros and cons."


Our fourth entry is Is Cheney About to Blow Up the Bay Bridge? from Gypsy Taub at the blog Politics of the Heart. I considered not entering this post in the contest because 9/11 Truthers Paranoid Schizophrenics are so overwhelmingly ridiculous it gives Taub an unfair head start.

But then I thought about die-hard Socialists, cut-and-run Dems and blind pundits like Begley, and I thought, "What the heck? Taub's got no head start with this bunch."

Taub apparently missed the fact that the Bay Bridge was damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake, so a new bridge had to be built. (That earthquake occurred in 1989, a bit before (take your pick) Bush/terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center.) As part of this process -- and of construction not going as planned -- the Bay Bridge was closed for four days in August.

I'm too harsh. Taub is aware of the earthquake ... it's just the conclusions he draws from it in his muddled mind:
Don’t quote me on this, but I have also heard that the old Bay Bridge is not earthquake stable, so if that is true [it is, my gypsy friend], then it sounds like the World Trade Center that needed to go because of all the asbestos that it was filled with.
Anyway, the bridge's temporary closing was enough to set off a Truther's Numskull's paranoid fantasies:
Bush’s term is coming to an end. The public is pushing to ban voting machines. The power of the Bush administration is deteriorating with major figures resigning, almost daily scandals on the news and constant threat of impeachment. Their only weapon is fear, it’s their last hope. I can see them really desperately needing a terrorist attack in the near future. 911 [I thought that was an emergency number] did them a great deal of good. 911 was, of course, the work of the Bush administration, the Pentagon, and others connected tightly to the Bush administration.
This is a bit muddled. If Bush wants to stay in power, what do voting machines have to do with it? If he doesn't want to stay in power, why does he need to (it's hard to even type this) concoct another 9/11? Well, let's not let rational thought get in the way of the ridiculous:
Getting back to the Bay Bridge, it being shut down for 4 entire days sounds suspicious. They are also demolishing a section of the bridge, so that gives them a green light to bring in a demolition crew. According to their official website they are doing seismic safety work which can, as far as I understand, involve drilling holes in the structure to test it for safety. Also, the new bridge being close to finished would be a convenient time to blow up the old one [sic].
Got it. Close the bridge for four days so as not to raise suspicion, then put your Black Ops crews out in full sight of all to drill the holes. Oh, those tricky bastards! Taug goes on to accuse the Bush administration of crashing a fuel tanker so the 880 freeway in Oakland would collapse:
As soon as 880 collapsed the mainstream media [those famous Bush allies] started screaming about steel melting from fossil fuel fires and comparing it to 911. I knew they were going to say that. That seemed to be the whole purpose of this incident, to “prove” that the WTC really did collapse from the jet fuel fire.
Purpose? There are no accidents? And the Minnesota bridge collapse? A training exercise for the upcoming Oakland explosion, of course! Then, suddenly, a near brush with reality:
Having said all this I would like to hope that I am wrong, that it is indeed a legitimate bridge repair work. But if the bridge does get blown up in the near future don’t buy the “terrorist” story! Investigate, document, take pictures, samples of soil, water, anything and don’t let them institute marshal [sic] law or sign Patriot Act 3!
It didn't blow up; there were no charges of a new terror attack. And there's no "marshal" law ... yet.

So, which story is the most ridiculous?

Wolf, and her countdown to Bush's dictatorship?

Simon and Takeyh with their primer for a win/win defeat in Iraq?

Begley with her insights into the GOP and Dem mind?

Or Gypsy Taub, with his deep, deep insanity over police emergency numbers ... oh, I'm sorry, not 911, but 9/11.

I have to reject Taub because his rants are more bizarre than ridiculous and are too narrowly focused on the guilt of the Bush administration. He says nothing that is broadly applicable.

Simon and Takeyh get a pass because history has so quickly proved so much of what they wrote to be wrong. Yes, history has made them appear even more ridiculous, but it has also made it easier to gauge their ridiculousness.

Between Begley's blindness to her own prejudice, which is such a lovely metaphor for the greater MSM's blindness, and Wolf's senseless but vivid paranoia about Bush, it's a tough choice.

But Wolf gets the honors because she took the care to identify ten separate steps, a primer for despots, and figure out how to connect each to Bush. In the process, she managed to ignore the fact that the American democracy remains balanced and protected by its three branches and its no-nonsense public, and that a campaign for the next American president is in the works.

But mostly, Wolf won because she didn't share Begley's blindness to her prejudices ... she lays hers right out there, for all to see, and she glories in just how bright and insightful she is -- failing to see just how ridiculous she and her views are.

Congratulations, Naomi. Keep up the ridiculous work.

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Has Hamas Finally Gone Crazy?

What was Hamas thinking?
Palestinian security forces in the West Bank recently arrested a Hamas cell that planned a suicide attack in Israel, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Monday. A videotape showing a suicide bomber detailing his intentions to blow up an Israeli target was also seized, Malki said at a news conference.

The announcement came a week before U.S. President George W. Bush visits the region to promote peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians are eager to prove they are cracking down on militants which is a central demand of the negotiations.

"We confiscated huge amounts of mercury in Nablus," Malki told reporters. "This mercury is used for explosives and especially in preparing detonators," he said.

Malki refused to elaborate or answer reporters' questions about the incident. He did not show the videotape to reporters or release the name of the alleged bomber. The Israeli military said it had no knowledge of the case. (International Herald Tribune)

Given the number of suicide attacks Hamas has planned and carried out against Israel, to say that the announcement is insincere is too kind. Hamas is not in the business of busting paradise-seekers intent on blowing themselves up and taking some Jews with them.

They are, however, into periodically sucking up in order to keep the money train rolling -- or in Hamas' case with US funding, to get it rolling again. That they suddenly found and busted a suicide bombing cell just before a visit to the region by President Bush is just a wee tad transparent.

Malki, show us the tape, then prosecute and jail the would-be bombers. Then do it all again, and again. Then maybe we'll believe you.

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Iowa Polls Show ... Nothing

As the Iowa caucuses draw near, the news is full of the latest polls -- Huckabee's falling, Edwards is strong, Thompson is ... is whatever the most recent results of a few hundred phone calls across the frozen fields says it is.

And it's all pretty much meaningless, mostly because only about six percent of Iowans actually participate in the caucuses. A poll of party regulars could be meaningful, but nearly all the polls are drawn from random samples of Iowa registered voters, most of whom will be busy doing something other than caucusing this Thursday evening.

John Fund has broken down all this in an excellent WSJ Opinion Journal article today, What's the matter with Iowa? In it, he lays down these faults with the caucus process:
  • They occur during a brief, fixed window at night, so those who work odd hours or have to care for kids or home-bound loved ones can't make it.

  • There are no absentee ballots, so the sick, disabled, elderly and busy are hugely underrepresented.

  • The rules of the Democratic caucus require participants to publicly stand with others who support their particular candidate -- this is no secret ballot.

  • To further complicate things, if less than 15% stand for a Dem candidate at a caucus, they have to pick another candidate to stand with, resulting in yelling, cajoling, and results that are anything but representative of a primary or an election.

  • "Entrance" polls that are reported Thursday night under-represent rural communities and the candidates, like Thompson and Edwards, who are stronger there.

  • There is no process of screening caucus participants for residency, so results could be skewed by over-zealous campaign workers.
In short, polls on Iowa voter preference are virtually meaningless, and the results of the caucuses are not representative of much other than a candidate's organizing abilities -- and this year, his commitment to campaigning there.

Yet it is the first test of any sort for the 2008 election, so the media cover it from border to border, from morning to night, the pollsters call and call and call again, in search of tea leaves to read, the candidates pour their hearts and purses it it ... and we political junkies wait anxiously for the results, cloudy, faulty, skewed and weird as they may be.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Inept Panel Of Climate Clowns

When hundreds of scientists issued a letter saying they weren't too keen on Warmie hysterics, advocates of imminent climate doom like Andrew Dessler, professor at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M, quickly got to work attacking their credentials.

What then of the UN's top global warming cheerleading body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? Well ...
We decided to test Dessler's claim. So we downloaded IPCC WGII's latest report on "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability". There were 380 contributors to the report [PDF of contributors]. A thorough and exhaustive analysis of the backgrounds of these experts (or were they?) was too ambitious (it's Christmas, and we have wine to drink, and mince pies to eat, too). So, we focused on the contributors who operate in the UK.

Of the 51 UK contributors to the report, there were 5 economists, 3 epidemiologists, 5 who were either zoologists, entomologists, or biologists. 5 worked in civil engineering or risk management / insurance. 7 had specialisms in physical geography (we gave the benefit of the doubt to some academics whose profiles weren't clear about whether they are physical or human geographers). And just 10 have specialisms in geophysics, climate science or modelling, or hydrology. But there were 15 who could only be described as social scientists. If we take the view that economics is a social science, that makes 20 social scientists.

This gives the lie to Dessler's claim that IPCC contributors are analogous to medical doctors. There are economists working on saving that dying child!!! That's got to be wrong, by Dessler's own standards. (Climate Resistance)
This would be interesting, but of course the debate is over.

hat-tip: Small Dead Animals via What Bubba Knows

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Lebanon Biggie Praises Iran's Nukes

Here's an interesting tidbit from Fars, the Iranian news service Ahmadinejad mouthpiece:
Iran's N. Power a Back Up for Arabs against Israel

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iran's nuclear capability brings balance of power to the region and strengthens Muslim and Arab world against the Zionist regime of Israel, a former Lebanese minister said. ...

Speaking in an exclusive interview with FNA in Beirut, head of Towhid Movement and former Lebanese Minister Weam Vahab viewed Iran's role in Lebanon and the region as significant and outstanding, and said, "The Islamic Republic of Iran plays a remarkable role in supporting the Islamic resistance movements of the region and Lebanon and renders support to the Lebanese nation and resistance without imposing its will and aspirations."

Vahab, who is among the respected heads of Lebanon's important Darouzi tribe, also defended Iran's peaceful nuclear activities, saying that Tehran's nuclear power brings equilibrium to the region and a point of reliance for the world of Islam.
Yeah, yeah, Iran is arming and training Hezbollah and Hamas to kill Jews; knew that, but what am I missing here? How do "peaceful nuclear activities," oh, like generating electricity or using nuclear medicine to diagnose disease, help create a balance of power and a "back up" against Israel?

I can hear it now; "Stop murdering innocent Palestinians, you Jew devils, or we'll ... we'll ... we'll turn on more lights in Tehran!"

The only ones stupid enough to buy Tehran's "peaceful" nuclear program are Western leftists and academics.

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Sunday Scan

All The News That Causes A Fit

Speaking hypothetically, if a conservative major MSM outlet (see why we have to be speaking hypothetically?) hired a liberal columnist, would anyone even peep? Well, peeping they are about the NYT's hiring of the Weekly Standard's William Kristol as a columnist.

As the picture shows, Libs aren't too keen on letting Kristol speak his piece, so it'll be nice that NYT readers will now have a weekly wincing and grinding of teeth, as we do on reading any number of their far left "thinkers."

And it's beyond nice to read this in the NYT:

Mr. Kristol, 55, has been a fierce critic of The Times. In 2006, he said that the government should consider prosecuting The Times for disclosing a secret government program to track international banking transactions.

In a 2003 column on the turmoil within The Times that led to the downfall of the top two editors, he wrote that it was not “a first-rate newspaper of record,” adding, “The Times is irredeemable.”

Is redemption at hand? Nah, not by a long shot.


If you're planning to become a parent someday, clip and file this one under "What not to do:"
GARLAND, Texas - An essay that won a 6-year-old Texas girl four tickets to a Hannah Montana concert began with the powerful line: "My daddy died this year in Iraq."

While gripping, it was not true .... Her mom acknowledged to contest organizers the claim was made up specifically to win the contest. ...

The girl won a makeover that included a blonde Hannah Montana wig, as well as the grand prize: airfare for four to Albany, N.Y., and four tickets to the sold-out concert on Jan. 9.

The mother had told company officials that the girl's father died April 17 in a roadside bombing in Iraq.

"We did the essay and that's what we did to win," Priscilla Ceballos, the mother, said in an interview with Dallas TV station KDFW. "We did whatever we could do to win."
Winning, Ceballos taught her daughter, is more important than honesty or integrity.

Ceballos and offspring were busted when the Dept. of Defense confirmed that the alleged father, one Sgt. Jonathon Menjivar, did not exist.

Support our fighting men! Kill them fictionally for concert tickets!

Most amazingly, contest organizers, instead of immediately pressing criminal charges against Ceballos so her unfortunate daughter might finally learn a civics lesson, are "considering" taking away the girl's tickets.

Healthy Christian Skepticism

While some famous Christians are hopping on the global warming bandwagon, George Pell, the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney, isn't so sure. In a year-end column, Pell said:
The Bali summit on the Kyoto Protocol and climate change was a public relations triumph, although I'm hopeful the new government will not impose major costs on the people for dubious versions of climate goals.

We need rigorous cost-benefit analysis of every proposal and healthy scepticism of all semi-religious rhetoric about the climate and, especially, about computer models for the future. It is difficult to predict what the weather will be like next week, let alone in 10, 20 or 100 years.
"Semi-religious?" Pell is being diplomatic, since great faith is required to accept Warmism lock, stock and barrel. (hat-tip: Greenie Watch)

Ron Paul's Medal Mettle

Consistency, blogs Josh Nelson at The Seminal, "is one of Ron Paul's strongest points in his presidential campaign." Put Paul loses his mettle when it comes to Congressional medals.

Nelson points out that Paul voted against awarding custom-made, $30,000 solid gold Congressional Gold Medals to American luminaries, asking "Why should taxpayers pay for these medals?"
Why, then, did Paul earlier submit a bill (which, like all of his bills, went absolutely nowhere) calling for a military metal for everyone who served in the armed forces during the Cold War, from September 2, 1945 to December 26, 1991?

DoD fought the bill. Why? Well, think of the weapons you could buy or salaries you could pay for the loony concept's price tag: $240 million.

More damning than the flip-flop ("I was for costly Congressional medals before I was against them"), is that the supposedly anti-government, pro-individualism Paul was saying in this bill that it didn't matter whether recipients served well, stood out, or accomplished anything during their service; everyone gets a medal.

I've thought many things of Ron Paul, but I've never thought him to be a "trophy for everyone who plays" sort. (Art: Neoperspectives)

The Debate Is Over!

We've heard that one before. Not just global warming, mind you. The debate has long been over on vegetables. Eat 'em raw for max nutritional value; cook 'em and lose some benefit.

Right? Everyone says so! Just like global warming! Think again:

ScienceDaily (Dec. 30, 2007) — In a finding that defies conventional culinary wisdom, researchers in Italy report that cooking vegetables can preserve or even boost their nutritional value in comparison to their raw counterparts, depending on the cooking method used.
Specifics? You want specifics? We got 'em:
In the new study, the researchers evaluated the effects of three commonly-used Italian cooking practices — boiling, steaming, and frying — on the nutritional content of carrots, zucchini and broccoli. Boiling and steaming maintained the antioxidant compounds of the vegetables, whereas frying caused a significantly higher loss of antioxidants in comparison to the water-based cooking methods, they say. For broccoli, steaming actually increased its content of glucosinolates, a group of plant compounds touted for their cancer-fighting abilities. The findings suggest that it may be possible to select a cooking method for each vegetable that can best preserve or improve its nutritional quality, the researchers say.
The lesson: Beware of false algore-ithms.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Candidates' Response to Bhutto Assassination

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto presented a pop quiz for the candidates on the subjects of foreign policy and "acting presidential." Here are their grades, starting with the key Dems:

Hillary Clinton: B. Worthy of an A was Hillary's quick, thorough and strong response, post on her Web site. But a big negative was Clinton's continued deceitful grandstanding on her relationship with Bhutto.

Her website promptly posted a lengthy statement on the assassination in the form of a Wolf Blitzer interview and summarized her position as follows:
... Hillary Clinton outlined five steps she believes must be taken to address Pakistan in the wake of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Clinton called for an independent, international investigation, reiterated the need for free and fair elections, proposed the appointment of a special envoy, discussed revamping U.S. foreign aid, and a renewed commitment to a stabilized India-Pakistan relationship.
Her call for an independent international investigation was politically astute for a Dem, but problematic. The Rafiki assissination investigation in Lebanon has gone on interminably, and has yet to yield an indictment; the course of events in Pakistan is likely to sweep by such a lengthy investigation. Further, it would have been diplomatically more tactful to call on Musharraf to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation and suggest that he request the assistance of Interpol and others.

Barack Obama: F. His Web site reveals only a brief statement that is cursory, revealing neither depth of analysis nor understanding of the complexities:
"I am shocked and saddened by the death of Benazir Bhutto in this terrorist atrocity. She was a respected and resilient advocate for the democratic aspirations of the Pakistani people. We join with them in mourning her loss, and stand with them in their quest for democracy and against the terrorists who threaten the common security of the world."
WaPo found just how abysmal Obama's response was:
Then Mr. Obama committed his foul -- a far-fetched attempt to connect the killing of Ms. Bhutto with Ms. Clinton's vote on the war in Iraq. After the candidate made the debatable assertion that the Iraq invasion strengthened al-Qaeda in Pakistan, his spokesman, David Axelrod, said Ms. Clinton "was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, which we would submit was one of the reasons why we were diverted from Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda, who may have been players in the event today."
It's not unexpected for a politician to respond to news politically, but low-blowing Hillary is not the response the American public wants when critical issues burst forth in the War on Terror, putting peace and the lives of our soldiers at greater risk.

John Edwards. A. His Web site statement is brief and quick to condemn Bush:
Benazir Bhutton [a big, nasty sic], the former Prime Minister of Pakistan was assassinated a number of hours ago. Nawaz Sharif, another former Prime Minister, was right when he said it was a tragedy for her party and Pakistan. I submit that it is also a tragedy for the whole world and another powerful symbol of the total failure of the President's Global War on Terror.
Since bashing Bush at least hints at a foreign policy statement, Edwards' statement is way ahead of Obama's. It also shows he knows who he's playing to and is keeping his eye on the ball -- no matter how much I may disagree with him.

Then, according to the same WaPo story linked above, Edwards did something presidential: He picked up the phone and called Musharraf. WaPo describes the call:
The candidate said he had encouraged Mr. Musharraf "to continue on the path to democratization [and] to allow international investigators to come in and determine what happened, what the facts were."
Edwards not only showed a boldness none of the other candidates replicated, he was more diplomatic than Hillary, encouraging Musharraf to bring in international investigators, rather than demanding it.

Now the GOP biggies, none of whom performed as well as Hillary or Edwards:

Mitt Romney. C. Romney's Web site promptly posted the transcripts of numerous media interviews given following Bhutto's assassination. They show a clear understanding of the threats radical Islamism poses:
"This really underscores the fact, of course, that what's occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan is not unique to those areas alone, that there is a radical, violent Jihadist effort throughout the world that's trying to topple not just Western governments but moderate governments in the world of Islam. We as a nation are going to have to work together with other nations to help moderate voices within the world of Islam with a wide array of support. But this is something we're going to have to do not just in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iraq, but everywhere from Indonesia to Nigeria. There's a big amount of work ahead to help Muslims become strong enough to reject the extreme within them." (Hannity and Combes)
None of Romney's posted statements, however, spell out any specific action he'd take or conversation he'd have with Musharraf -- a missed opportunity.

Rudy Giuliani -- D+. Giuliani's posted response was not quite as strong as Romney's, and showed the same weaknesses:
“The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a tragic event for Pakistan and for democracy in Pakistan. Her murderers must be brought to justice and Pakistan must continue the path back to democracy and the rule of law. Her death is a reminder that terrorism anywhere — whether in New York, London, Tel-Aviv or Rawalpindi — is an enemy of freedom. We must redouble our efforts to win the Terrorists’ War on Us.”
Another missed opportunity, although HuffPo reports that Rudy's new ad, which in their Lib words "finally -- and unsurprisingly -- plays the 9/11 card," may give him a bit of a Bhutto-boost.

Mike Huckabee: F. The Huckabee Web site news room has nothing at all posted on the assassination. The Swamp posted an interview with Huckabee where he clumsily over-plays the fear card:

DES MOINES -- The day after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, Republican Mike Huckabee said Friday that the killing “changes the world” by adding a new level or turmoil to the Middle East and raises concerns about terrorist attacks on America.

“The assassination of Bhutto I think creates not only new heightened tensions there but it reminds us just how delicate that situation is,” the former Arkansas governor said during an interview Friday morning on KCCI-TV. “If you think about Pakistan, that’s where if we have another terrorist attack, it’s going to be postmarked: Pakistan. That’s where Osama bin Laden is most likely hiding.”

Then Huckabee focuses his attention on Pakistan's frontier with Afghanistan, "where the terrorists are hiding." This continues Huckabee's string of foreign policy gaffes, since concerns about Islamism in Pakistan go far beyond what's happening in the frontier.

John McCain: B-. McCain's statement was fairly lengthy and played to his foreign policy strengths. After a paragraph of condolences, he said:

"The death of Benazir Bhutto underscores yet again the grave dangers we face in the world today and particularly in countries like Pakistan, where the forces of moderation are arrayed in a fierce battle against those who embrace violent Islamic extremism.

"Given Pakistan's strategic location, the international terrorist groups that operate from its soil, and its nuclear arsenal, the future of that country has deep implications for the security of the United States and its allies. America must stand on the right side of this ongoing struggle.

"In my numerous visits to Pakistan - to Islamabad, to Peshawar, even to the tribal areas of Waziristan - I have seen first hand the many challenges that face the political leadership there, challenges so graphically portrayed by today's tragedy. There are, in Pakistan, brave individuals who seek to lead their country away from extremism and instability and into the light of a better day. America, I believe, must do all we can to support them."

McCain appropriately touted his experience and put the right foreign policy perspective on the assassination, and was the only GOP candidate to mention Pakistan's nukes. But like all the GOP candidates, he just analyzed the situation and said nothing about what he would actually do. Good swing, but the ball went just foul.

Once again, Edwards shows himself to be, if nothing else, a masterful campaigner. And the GOP candidates continue to fail to stand out from one another -- except Huckabee, who's standing out in all the wrong ways.

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A Voice Of Reason In Iraq's Parliament

Give a listen to this video from MEMRI; it's about 12 minutes in length, but it's worth it if you want to hear an Iraqi Shi'ite political leader who is strongly religious defend flexibility and freedom in government.

The clip is of Iraqi MP Iyad Jamal al-Din, a Shi'ite who has survived four assassination attempts, being interviewed by Al-Arabiya TV, a Saudi/Dubai station. In other words, an elected Shi'ite interviewed on Sunni TV.

Al-Din is a secularist who has caught the attention of others as diverse as Spike and Dr. Sanity for his reformist positions.

In the clip, al-Din supports the concept of Sharia Law, but also says that following leaders who demand the sort of allegiance Muslims give only to Muhammed is wrong. Al-Din supports making bars legal, for example, because while he does not drink out of respect for his religion's laws, he does not see a non-Sharia government as a source of authority capable of demanding certain behaviors from Muslims.

He also says that he respects a woman who does not cover her head out of religious principle more than a woman who covers her head because she doesn't want to make waves.

As for the current government in Iraq, al-Din sees it as a blessing, but a mixed one:
President Bush and America should be thanked for saving us from that idol [Saddam Hussein] that wanted to be worshiped like Allah. If you were to go to Iraq in the days of Saddam Hussein, it was Saddam who (decided) everything from A to Z. Saddam gave life and took life and decided if people would be rich or poor.

Interviewer: Don't the new politicians have many, if not all, of Saddam's qualities?

Undoubtedly. We've gotten rid of Saddam, but not all the mini-Saddams. Even before the war, I said that I was worried that the democracy that we have longed for would turn into a Latin American-style democracy, a banana republic, relying on an economic mafia and a political mafia.
This is a complex man whose beliefs may well be mainstream demographically, but are hardly mainstream politically in conservative Muslim society. They are the sorts of beliefs that got Benazir Bhutto killed, so there's little surprise that al-Din been the targets of assassins. (He implies that the attacks on him were carried out by more dogmatic Shi'ites, not al-Qaeda because "al-Qaeda does not fail.")

Listening to a man like this gives one appreciation or the complexity of the task of establishing democracies in Islamic nations, but also clearly shows that there are some leaders who understand the benefits and see the process as possible, even under Islam.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Protests To Meet Beijing Rose Bowl Float

After the city of Pasadena nixed all their protest plans, anti-Beijing protesters have come up with a unique way to draw the huge Rose Bowl Parade audience's attention to Beijing's horrific record of human rights abuses: They are asking those lining the parade route to turn their backs on the Beijing Olympics float as it passes.
Human rights groups, frustrated that Pasadena will not allow them to protest a Rose Parade float touting the 2008 Olympics in China one minute before the parade begins, asked spectators Friday to turn their backs to the float when it goes down Colorado Boulevard next week.

"We are asking all Rose Parade attendees to show their support for human rights in China by turning their backs as it passes by," said Tseten Phanucharas, president of Los Angeles Friends of Tibet.

"We, as a coalition, support this wholeheartedly, and we will be out on the parade route urging everyone to turn their backs." (source)
The float is sponsored by the Roundtable of Southern California Chinese-American Organizations and Avery Dennison Corporation, whose web site is mum on the subject, but a business web site quotes the company:
"Avery Dennison has been doing business in China for over 15 years and we are proud to co-sponsor a float that will highlight the economic success of China of the 21st century and the first Olympic Games ever hosted by Beijing," said Dean A. Scarborough, president and CEO of Avery Dennison. "Having China participate in one of our most American of celebrations demonstrates the important link between the two countries."
No chance for a float highlighting China's world-topping execution rates or its sophisticated torture technologies.

The same site lists the Roundtable members as:
Members of the Roundtable of Southern California Chinese-American Organizations include: Sue Zhang, president, Tsinghua Education Foundation of North America; Gareth Chang, chairman, GC3 International Corp.; Dunson Cheng, chairman & CEO, Cathay Bank; Grace Chew, vice president, Hong Kong Association of Southern California; Leo Chu, chairman, Hollywood Park Casino & Hotel; Feng Deng, director, Tsinghua Education Foundation of North America; Michael Fulton, president and CEO, Western Market, Comerica Bank; May Hsu, president, China Electronic Commerce Association North American Office; Evans Lam, senior vice president, Citi Smith Barney; Richard Lee, chairman, Amsino Corporation; and Yuling Li, president, American International Cultural Exchanges Foundation.
Bankers and Chinese industry reps -- none overly concerned about torture, false imprisonment and crushing on freedom of speech and religion.

But Jianzhong (John) Li, a Caltech lab employee who sought asylum in the US after the 1989 Tiananmen Square violent repression of public protest and is now a follower of Falun Gong, sees it differently:
“The Chinese are using the Rose Parade to show the world that a country, without caring about human rights, can achieve so much. It reminds me of the Olympic Games in 1936, which gave Hitler an opportunity to demonstrate for the world how efficient Nazi Germany was.”

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Bhutto Clip: Bin Laden Dead?

clipped from

blog it
Jawa Report has posted this video in which Benezir Bhutto names names of who is likely to killer her -- and apparently gets it right. In it, she also drops in without comment this little tidbit: Naming Omar Sheikh as the man "who murdered Osama bin Laden."

Did she really know something? If she did, does it die with her?

Probably not. More likely, she just got the wrong name into the sentence -- speculation is that she meant to say "Daniel Pearl."

hat-tip: memeorandum

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Religion Of Peace: The Bhutto Transcript

Pakistan has released a transcript that apparently proves radical Taliban Islamists affiliated with al-Qaeda were behind the Bhutto assassination. In the transcript, militant leader Baitullah Mehsud, is referred to as Emir Sahib. The other man is identified as a Maulvi Sahib, or "Mr. Cleric."

Maulvi Sahib: Peace be on you.

Mehsud: Peace be on you, too.

Maulvi Sahib: How are you Emir Sahib?

Mehsud: Fine.

Maulvi Sahib: Congratulations. I arrived now tonight.

Mehsud: Congratulations to you, too.

Maulvi Sahib: They were our men there.

Mehsud: Who were they?

Maulvi Sahib : There were Saeed, the second was Badarwala Bilal and Ikramullah was also there.

Mehsud: The three did it?

Maulvi Sahib: Ikramullah and Bilal did it.

Mehsud: Then congratulations to you again.

Maulvi: Where are you? I want to meet with you?

Mehsud: I am in Makin. Come I am at Anwar Shah's home.

Maulvi Sahib: OK I will come.

Mehsud: Do not inform their family presently.

Maulvi Sahib: Right.

Mehsud: It was a spectacular job. They were very brave boys who killed her.

Maulvi Sahib: Praise be to God. I will give you more details when I come.

Mehsud: I will wait for you. Congratulation once again.

Maulvi Sahib: Congratulations to you as well.

Mehsud: Any service?

Mauvliv: Thank you very much?

Mehsud: Peace be on you.

Maulvi: Same to you.

Peace be on you ... praise be to God. This is the Islamist enemy, praising God that in one blow they were able to strike out against modern roles for women, democracy (or a typically corrupt South Asian version thereof) and stability.

More on the suspect, from CNN:

Robert Grenier, former CIA station chief in Pakistan and former head of the CIA's counterterrorism center, describes Mehsud as an Islamic radical leader in northwest Pakistan's South Waziristan closely associated with the Taliban.

Grenier said that Mehsud spoke publicly before Bhutto's return to Pakistan in October after her self-exile that the former prime minister was marked for assassination.

Some say the assassination is all the more reason to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan:

We don’t know what’s going on in these volatile countries. The best thing is to stay out of the way and let them solve their own problems. ...

Meanwhile, the U.S. government plants to “vastly expand” its forces in Pakistan. They’re just being sent into a rats’ nest.

Here’s a better idea: We get out of countries like this. We don’t let them come to our country. Let them stew in their own juices. If businessmen want to trade with these countries, they do so at their own peril.

America’s foreign policy should be that of non-intervention and neutrality, as our Founding Fathers, especially Washington and Jefferson, insisted. (John Seiler)

This is a chicken and egg argument, with the non-interventionists saying our presence in the Middle East caused 9/11 and interventionists saying earlier Islamists terror strikes necessitated our presence in the Middle East. Besides, that was then and cannot be undone. It is foolhardy to think that we can just withdraw from the Middle East and radical Islamism will stop fighting the West.

They have tasted power and they want more, in the name of Allah and the Islamist caliphate, which is the real lesson of the Bhutto assassination. It was not an attack on America; it was an attack on Muslim efforts to stop the jihad.

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Dying Polar Bear Rebuttal Kit

A funny thing happens when you search for polar bear images on the Internet.

You find a lot of pictures like this one depicting the species as cute and vulnerable, in keeping with the Greenie/Warmie mantra that all nature is cuddly and in need of protection. That protection, of course, always comes in the form of the curtailment of human advancement.

What you really have to search for are pictures like this, that show polar bears as they are -- majestic, for sure, but also fierce, nasty, brutally self-sufficient, and not much concerned with what people are up to.

"Oh, but it's the bigger picture!" the Warmies cry. "The bears don't know they're going to go extinct unless we stop global warming!"'

True enough. They don't know ... and neither do we. In fact, evidence is mounting that the polar poster child of the Warmie movement is not at risk at all, and that the more we study polar bears, the more the entire global warming religion seems about as sound as Scientology or Est.

With a hat-tip to Ymarsakar, here's a digest of an extensive post on the subject you can find at Benning's Writing Pad:
  1. Polar bears survived through a warm spell considerably hotter than predictions the Warmies make for our future. This is now known for certain because an ancient polar bear jaw was found to be 130,000 years old -- dating the species to the toasty Eemian period. (source)

  2. While they are obligate species, i.e., dependent on a particular environment, they are not as vulnerable as Warmies would have you think. This was demonstrated by the recent find of a polar bear/grizzly hybrid conceived in the wild -- not through a chance encounter, because the polar bear female requires a lengthy mating ritual before an egg will be release.

  3. While the mainstream Warmie belief is that shrinking polar ice is the result of warmer air, Benning points out that polar air remains well below freezing most of the time and blames increased undersea volcanic activity for rising ocean temperatures. Of course, removing all the SUVs and taming the Chinese beast will do nothing to curtail magma flows.

  4. And, in defiance of Warmie dogma, polar bear populations aren't dropping precipitously. As said at Moonbattery, "Even if the Goracle's most frenetic fantasies were to come true, and the North Pole were to melt in the foreseeable future, people living in northern latitudes will still get eaten by polar bears."
Could we send Big Al their way?

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My Dinner With Grover (And Ron Paul's VP?)

After Ronald Reagan, Grover Cleveland just might have been the last great American president.

That sentiment would have gotten me cross-wise with my hosts last night, who would not have put in the Ronald Reagan qualifier. No, friends, the folks at the Grover Cleveland Social Club hold the 22nd president (and 24th, as Cleveland was the only president to come back after a hiatus and be re-elected) in exceptionally high esteem.

Grover was admirable, indeed, a man of character the likes of which I don't see among any of the current candidates ... although last night's hosts would argue that Ron Paul is Grover Cleveland reincarnated.

Here's a quote that packages Cleveland pretty niftily. In it, he is addressing his thoughts on federal aid to farmers whose crops had been damaged by drought:
"Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character...."
Prescient, huh? Especially from a Dem! The White House's history archives, provide the following brief summary of Cleveland's primary policy efforts:
He also vetoed many private pension bills to Civil War veterans whose claims were fraudulent. When Congress, pressured by the Grand Army of the Republic, passed a bill granting pensions for disabilities not caused by military service, Cleveland vetoed it, too.

He angered the railroads by ordering an investigation of western lands they held by Government grant. He forced them to return 81,000,000 acres. He also signed the Interstate Commerce Act, the first law attempting Federal regulation of the railroads.

In December 1887 he called on Congress to reduce high protective tariffs. Told that he had given Republicans an effective issue for the campaign of 1888, he retorted, "What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something?" But Cleveland was defeated in 1888; although he won a larger popular majority than the Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison, he received fewer electoral votes.

Elected again in 1892, Cleveland faced an acute depression. He dealt directly with the Treasury crisis rather than with business failures, farm mortgage foreclosures, and unemployment. He obtained repeal of the mildly inflationary Sherman Silver Purchase Act and, with the aid of Wall Street, maintained the Treasury's gold reserve.

When railroad strikers in Chicago violated an injunction, Cleveland sent Federal troops to enforce it. "If it takes the entire army and navy of the United States to deliver a post card in Chicago," he thundered, "that card will be delivered."
After the last several presidents' failure to control either the size of government or its spendthrift ways, all this sounds positively delightful.

Because the hosts of the evening -- OC Reg commentary writer Steve Greenhut, his former colleague John Seiler and friend Tony Bushala -- are all Libertarians, big and little "L" Libertarians abounded at the event, including Art Olivier, former Libertarian candidate for California governor and U.S. Veep.

Art and I chatted for some time, and he explained why Libertarians run in the face of insurmountable odds. I thought it was to educate and educate and educate people until we get the concepts through our dense heads, a point he agreed with in more polite terms, but he said he runs to keep the party alive.

Eventually, he feels, the stars will align with the right candidate at the right time, and the Libertarians will advance beyond their current place, where they are unable to get any higher than city councils, and break onto the national scene. Until then, his job is to keep the flame burning.

All things are possible, folks. The status quo is not forever. But Libertarian naivety on foreign policy will keep 2008 from being that year.

Olivier also revealed:
  • If Ron Paul doesn't get the GOP nomination (and they view that as a big "if"), he will run for president as the Libertarian candidate.

  • He believes such a candidacy will hurt both the GOP or the Dems. He feels if the Dems nominate Hillary, anti-war Dems will vote for Paul, as will GOP voters concerned more about privacy and big government than the War on Terror.

  • He, Olivier, would run for Vice President.
He would be an asset to any ticket -- tall, handsome, well-spoken, personable and approachable. I only wish I would have asked him how he feels about the 9/11 Truthers' Moonbats' attraction to Paul. Who in the world would want to get into office on the shoulders of that sad bunch?

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Watcher's Winners

Bookworm's fabulous essay, Judeo-Christian Doctrine and Moral Values, handily won this week's Watcher of Weasels-hosted blogfest. Despite its stodgy title, it's a perfectly Bookish entry -- crime as seen by Islam and Leftism, captured via Officer Krupke.

Runner-up honors were split between Done With Mirrors' Ron Paul and Soccer Dad's First let the lawyers kill us all. The former was fine backgrounding for me, as I spent yesterday evening in a swarm of Ron Paul followers. The latter revealed that lawyers vetted every action by Israel in its recent war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, managing to screw up everything, both militarily and politically.

On the non-Council side, a rather lengthy but totally compelling piece by Silver Bullet, Fear, was the runaway winner. The piece addresses and rebuts the Left's allegations that the Bush Administration has employed fear tactics in the War on Terror.

Coming in second was Watcher's Council alum Eternity Road with Laughter and Tears, a temporary, thank God, goodbye from the Curmudgeon Emeritus, describing the heavy burden we defenders of truth and liberty must carry.

See all the winners here, where you won't find your humble author, who got a skunking for a Christmas/birthday present from his fellow Council members.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Syria, Iran And Bhutto's Assassination

Read this passage from Counterterrorism Blog ..
The Syro-Iranian move to crush their opposition using the "window of opportunity", created by the NIE and the "talk-to-Syria-and-Iran" campaign in Washington and Brussels, is not confined to these countries. This week, the "axis" war room delivered a deadly blow to the Lebanese Army, which is considered by Hezbollah as the only native force capable of engaging its militias at some point. The assassination of Brigadier General Francois Hajj is increasingly perceived as a preemptive strike by the Pasdaran-controlled Hezbollah against a future commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces. Hajj was the chief operations officer who planned and led the campaign to defeat Fatah al Islam in Nahr al Bared.
... and ask yourself: What are the odds that the Syria-Iran Axis is behind the assassination of Bhutto?

What better way could there be to destabilize American interests in Muslim South Asia than to create turmoil in Pakistan? And if Pakistan's nukes were to fall into Islamist hands, how much better would that be for Iran and Syria, both of which clearly want nuclear weapons?

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NYT Can't Help Itself: Chides Bush In Bhutto Coverage

I was tempted to title this post, "Did Bush Kill Bhutto?" on the heels of yesterday's post about Jamie Lynn Spears and the media's desire to discredit Bush's abstinence program, but the subject is too significant for such a headline.

Dec. 26, 2004: The tsunami. Dec. 27, 2007: The Bhutto assassination. The two events mingled in my mind as I read the news accounts, because both are epochally bad news events. The impact of the first we now understand well; the impact of the second is anyone's guess.

I assume that many of Bhutto's inner circle were in fact physically close to her in Rawalpindi when the attack occurred, so her party will be more than merely leaderless going into the elections scheduled next month. Nevertheless, it's hard to imagine Pervez Musharraf surviving today's attack politically. I doubt the attack had any Musharraf fingerprints on it -- save for not providing enough government security for Bhutto -- but the nation will turn against him even more now.

The assassination probably also spells doom for radical Islamic parties sympathetic to al Qaeda, since many Pakistanis will blame Islamist terrorists for the attack. Still, the attack shows how long the road will be in the war on terror:
The lesson for the West is that the war with the Islamists is not only far, far from over but in fact may be accelerating, and that more leaders with the sort of courage, resolve and energy displayed by Bhutto are needed now more than ever.

President Musharraf must take the war to the ungoverned places of the country or see such atrocities continue. Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is the most inviting goal for the al Qaeda cells, an issue which could have used a lot of attention in the presidential campaign reaching its crescendo. (Hugh Hewitt)
It is on that note that I circle back to the lead, and how the media addressed Bush in its coverage of the Bhutto assassination. In the first round of reporting, all but one of the US' major news outlets covered the story responsibly. Guess which one didn't.

Yes, the NY Times, whose story included these decidedly non-objective and wholly inappropriate paragraphs:
The assassination also adds to the enormous pressure on the Bush administration over Pakistan, which has sunk billions in aid into the country without accomplishing its main goals of finding the Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden or ending the activities of Islamic militants and the Taliban in border areas with Afghanistan.
Bush administration officials began working behind the scenes over the summer to help Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Musharraf create a power-sharing deal to orchestrate a transition to democracy that would leave Mr. Musharraf in the presidency, while not making a mockery of President Bush’s attempts to push democracy in the Muslim world.
The goal of our aide to Pakistan is not to catch Osama bin Laden, but to win the larger War on Terror and contain the nation's nuclear arsenal. The NYT's blind focus on negatives puts it in a place which would have the paper declare the capturing of Hitler to be the prime reason why we spent so much money on WWII, and because he was never found, the whole bloody affair was a waste and an embarrassment to America.

And whether the NYT likes it or not, Pakistan is a Muslim democracy today. Not ideal by any reckoning, but in recent months, the government has functioned well enough. The Supreme Court stood up to Musharraf, who then acted dictatorially, but had to back down due not to the UN for cryin' out loud, but due to the will of the Pakistani people, who made their voices heard, so an election was set for January.

Does the NYT not see the benefit of trying to bring democracy to the Islamic world? Or is it just too lazy and shortsighted to go for anything valuable that requires a long slog?

Compare the NYT's snideness to the reporting of AP and MSNBC. The AP account is straightforward, reportorial, despite a long history of anti-Bush reporting from the wire service:

Pakistan is considered a vital U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists including the Taliban. Osama bin Laden and his inner circle are believed to be hiding in lawless northwest Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan.

The U.S. has invested significant diplomatic capital in promoting reconciliation between Musharraf and the opposition, particularly Bhutto, who was seen as having a wide base of support in Pakistan. Her party had been widely expected to do well in next month's elections.

MSNBC also raised the same points as the NYT, but again without the cheekiness. These level-headed paragraphs are from a media outlet that has openly positioned itself as the anti-Fox, pro-left cable outlet, but today at least, the staff at MSNBC appears to understand the requirements of objective reporting:
Bhutto’s return to the country after years in exile and the ability of her party to contest free and fair elections had been a cornerstone of Bush’s policy in Pakistan, where U.S. officials had watched Musharraf’s growing authoritarianism with increasing unease.

Those concerns were compounded by the rising threat from al-Qaida and Taliban extremists, particularly in Pakistan’s largely ungoverned tribal areas bordering Afghanistan despite the fact that Washington had pumped nearly $10 billion in aid into the country since Musharraf became an indispensible counter-terrorism ally after Sept. 11, 2001.

The LA Times coverage was similar to AP's and MSNBC's, while WaPo and CNN reported the story without reference to Bush Administration policies.

Against this background of responsible reporting of a tragedy with potentially inconceivable consequences, the NYT stands out as an immature, inappropriate and unruly guest at the party, hardly differentiated from the Kos-tic rants of the leftyblogs.

Isn't there someone who can spank their bottom and send them to their room?

hat-tip: memeorandum

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Did Bush Get Jamie Lynn Pregnant?

Is abstinence education to blame for Jamie Lynn Spears' teen pregnancy?

There's plenty of reason to believe it is not. Jamie Lynn has received plenty of real-life sex education from her older sister, whose two babies weren't brought by storks after the birds and bees did their thing. Plus, as a TV star, Jamie Lynn has hardly had a typical classroom education, where curricula teach abstinence.

And besides, California is one of a growing number of states that doesn't teach abstinence, despite the loss of some federal education dollars. (I'm presuming that as a TV star, Jamie Lynn lives in California, but I admit I an no expert in the lives of celebrities.)

But to read today's USA Today editorial on the horrors of abstinence education, you would think it was the teaching of abstinence that got Jamie Lynn pregnant, and that it's to blame for a rising tide of teenage pregnancies:
For Christian conservatives, the pregnancy, at 16, of Nickelodeon actress Jamie Lynn Spears — the wholesome star of Zoey 101 and younger sister of troubled singer Britney Spears — poses a good news-bad news dilemma.

"We should commend girls like Jamie Lynn Spears for making a courageous decision to have the baby," summed up Bill Maier, vice president of the conservative ministry Focus on the Family. "On the other hand, there's nothing glamorous or fun about being an unwed teen mother."

No one would argue with that sentiment. For teens of lesser means, pregnancy takes away much more than fun and glamour. It greatly reduces chances that the young mother will ever escape poverty.

For all the agreement about the problem, however, a failure to recognize facts appears to be interfering with finding solutions. The Bush administration is sticking adamantly to abstinence-only sex education, which was adopted at the urging of religious conservatives, even as evidence mounts that such programs are failing.
The article then swings into a statistical analysis of teen pregnancy rates "which declined 34% from 1991 to 2005, increased 3% in 2006."

As a PR guy, I know statistical manipulation when I see it, and this is gross and deliberate manipulation. Down 34% vs. up 3% seems to be a huge swing, until you recalculate the first figure to represent an annual fall, not a 14-year fall, and you find that the rate was dropping 2.4 percent annually over that period, on average.

Besides, a one-year change in a 14-year trend is inconclusive; more data is needed before we will know whether the 3% increase isn't an anomaly. Only the hysterical media would be interested in such a statistic.

Here's a comprehensive table that verifies the drop in teenage pregnancy rates, and shows that it impacted all demographic categories. It is astoundingly good news.

The table shows that from 2000 to 2004, the years of the first Bush term and the push for abstinence, the teen pregnancy rate has continued to drop, from 47.7 births per 1000 teenage girls in 2000 to 41.2 in 2004.

If abstinence education doesn't work, why was it working in these years? And why doesn't USA Today take into account that now 14 states are no longer teaching abstinence -- a new high which could, by itself, explain the increase?

Besides, a good argument can be made that abstinence education didn't become popular because of Christian morality; rather, it gained traction only because sex education had become extremely radicalized and pro-carnality in its teachings. By the end of the Clinton years, the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood faction controlled sex ed curricula and it showed in the classroom, where sex ed started with the assumption that all teens would have sex, and lots of it.

The media hasn't asked many questions about why Planned Parenthood and its ilk, which stood to gain from government-purchased birth control and government-funded abortions for teens, was allowed to turn sex education into a how-to guide for debauchery.

The carnal left had pushed too far and traditionally conservative America pushed back with the promotion of abstinence. Then, the left pushed back again with pressure to drop abstinence programs.

Through all this time, the Clinton free-for-all days and the more constrained Bush days, the teen pregnancy rate continued to drop, which to any clear-headed observer would appear to be proof that something other than classroom sex education was at work educating our young people. Incredible Daughter #1, who's 21, says television programming and social networking all play up the downside of teen pregnancy, and virtually no one gets pregnant today because they didn't understand the physical process.

All of which just goes to show that we can't count on left-leaning editorial writers to think through situations when blind promotion of their agendas will do.

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Wednesday Reading

In yesterday's Christmas celebrations, my laptop sat idle, tucked under the couch in the family room, so I didn't send in my nominations for this week's Watcher's Council blogfest. Fortunately, the Watcher selected a pretty good post of mine and put it in the running.

Here are the nominees; the Council's vote will be posted Friday morning.

Council links:

  1. A Tale of Two Iraqs & Two Wars
    Wolf Howling
  2. Ron Paul
    Done With Mirrors
  3. The Arrogance
    The Colossus of Rhodey
  4. Nuclear Weapons Policy in the 21st Century
    The Glittering Eye
  5. What Would Jesus Say To Those Who Defame His People?
  6. Judeo-Christian Doctrine and Moral Freedom
    Bookworm Room
  7. A Holiday Primer for Ron Paul Supporters
    Rhymes With Right
  8. First Let the Lawyers Kill Us All
    Soccer Dad
  9. George F. Will Gets Beyond NCLB
    The Education Wonks
  10. Lame Duck Crushes Christmas Turkeys
    Big Lizards
  11. Cross About Huckabee's Cross Ad
    Cheat Seeking Missiles
  12. Huckadumb
    Right Wing Nut House
Non-council links:
  1. Saudi Libel Terrorism Must Be Stopped
    The Terror Finance Blog
  2. Fear
    Silver Bullets
  3. Pilger and His Public
    Oliver Kamm
  4. Home For Christmas
    Villainous Company
  5. Syrian and Iranian Axis Terrorize their Opposition
    Counterterrorism Blog
  6. Iraq Portrait: How the Press Has Covered Events on the Ground
    Pew Research Center
  7. Must Police Be Representative? Whom Do They Represent?
  8. Arabs in Israel
    The Volokh Conspiracy
  9. "We Will Never Recognize... Reality"
    Dr. Sanity
  10. Democrats' 2007 Report Card
    Human Events
  11. Laughter and Tears
    Eternity Road
  12. How the Democrats Must Love the Republican "Base"
    Classical Values
  13. MMOs Bad for Planet?
You might also want to read what would have been my nominee, Whitewash, by Bruce Bartlett at Opinion Journal. Bloggers, check out the Watcher's offer of link whorage if you're interested in self-nominating.

Thanks, Watcher, for watching over me this week!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry, Holy, Blessed Christmas

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Monday, December 24, 2007

On This Night, A Perfect Christmas Read

Our tree has, as always, far too many presents beneath it. It makes me queasy.

Some family members won't be a part of our Christmas, even though they're in my heart. It makes me sad.

Our family's faith, who knows where it is, as daughters grow in independence?

Still, Christmas joy is the emotion of this moment: Joy for the family, joy for our blessings, joy that we were born Americans, joy, most of all, for God born as a baby in a manger.

And joy that there are people like Chicago Trib columnist John Kass, who can sit down and capture Christmas so beautifully it just makes your heart ache. If you only read one Christmas essay this season, I hope it is Kass' On This Night, A Comforting Message.

Update: Francis W. Porretto of Eternity Road forwarded me a wonderful audio file telling the story of Jesus' birth through the eyes of a tax collector ... could it be Matthew? It is wondrous storytelling... listen here.
hat-tip: Real Clear Politics

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"The Horrors Of Negro Rule"

There's a famous newspaper, a leader, really, in forming the opinion of the nation by articulating the reasoning and policies of the Left. Do you know which one I'm talking about?

Hint: It's the one that published this passage in an editorial:
It has of late become the custom of the men of the South to speak with entire candor of the settled and deliberate policy of suppressing the negro vote. They have been forced to choose between a policy of manifest injustice toward the blacks and the horrors of negro rule. They chose to disfranchise the negroes. That was manifestly the lesser of two evils. . . . The Republican Party committed a great public crime when it gave the right of suffrage to the blacks. . . . So long as the Fifteenth Amendment stands, the menace of the rule of the blacks will impend, and the safeguards against it must be maintained.
If you guessed the New York Times, you would be dead-on right.

The quote is one of about 40 presented in a WSJ Opinion Journal Extra, Whitewashed, The Racist History the Democratic Party Wants You to Forget, by Bruce Bartlett. The quotes start with Thomas Jefferson, and on their run-up to Joe Biden, they cover the pre-Civil War years, the Jim Crow years, and the years of the civil rights movement (with a special visit from the Kennedys).

It's not just blacks that get disparaged, either. The Dems, including FDR, were every bit as racist in their dealings with Mongoloids ... oops, that's not exactly PC today; Asians.

Yes, parties can change, and it's beyond refute that the dregs of the old racist Southern Democrats now are likely to vote GOP if they're not voting independent. But it is also indisputable that the Dems hang onto their racism under thick covers of cloying concern (i.e., opiating minorities through welfare and victimism to forestall "the Horrors of Negro Rule"), and that the GOP is not today anything approaching the old racist Democratic party of yesterday.

Only the Dems could come up with quotes like these. We Republicans might be able to pen something this ripe about the ACLU, al Qaeda or the cut and run Dems, but against blacks? No, that was the domain of one party and one party only: The party of Hillary, Obama and Edwards.

Oh, and the party of Chris Dodd, too, who in 2004 said:
"I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia [Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a former Ku Klux Klan recruiter] that he would have been a great senator at any moment. . . . He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this nation."
hat-tip: memeorandum

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