friday march 31, 2006
Unique rose images
Looking for rose photographs, fine art prints to decorate your home or office. Check these out.
jimmuh knows all
I was watching Bob Greene on C-Span talk about his book, Fraternity, about getting to know the presidents from Richard Nixon to George H. W. Bush after their presidencies to find out what their post-presidential lives were like. What struck Greene (and me as I listened to him) about Jimmy Carter was how Carter was so obsessive about telling other people how to do things they knew how to do.
He describes how Carter kept giving the Secret Service driver directions to where they were going even the guy knew how to get there and Carter kept acknowledging that the driver knew where he was going. But he kept giving him directions anyway. When someone asks to take a picture of Carter, he's giving the person directions on how to use his own camera! When he does a little 20 second tribute for a charity affair, he insists on looking at the playback on the monitor and then redoing it so he can move his chair a foot to the side and get a better background for the picture. He sounds very irritating to be around.
Hearing these anecdotes, you can see the same character trait that leads Carter to give other presidents advice on how they should be running their presidency even if it is all criticism and sometimes delivered from overseas. It is almost as if the man can't help himself.
photos to stir your blood
Did you know that much of the USA actually belongs to Mexico? Neither did I. Gem quote:
One of the more negative parts of the march was when American flags were passed out to make sure the marchers were looked on as part of "America".
This is from a march organizer, not some Anglo critic.
suck-up clinton tells brits america envies them
Former President Bill Clinton is starting to look and sound more and more like Jimmy Carter every day. Today Bill Clinton again slammed George W. Bush while at a speaking engagement out of country. In a strange political twist of misrepresentation, Clinton ripped into the booming US economy saying Great Britain's slow growth economy was the envy of America:
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Tuesday that Britain’s economy, environmental policy and attempts at modernization were envied in the United States, where comparable policies under President George W. Bush were lacking.
Taking a look at Great Britain:
* Britain's gross domestic product is predicted to grow by 2 percent to 2.5 percent in the coming year. (The world’s economy is booming at an average rate of over 4%, but Europe’s growth has stagnated at an inflated 1.5%.)
* The treasurer added that inflation is sitting at 2 percent.
* British Treasury chief Gordon Brown came under fire from economists last year for his overly optimistic forecasts for the economy, and eventually downgraded his predictions significantly to 1.75 percent growth in gross domestic product for last year, marking the slowest expansion since 1992.
* The number of unemployed in Britain, as measured by the International Labour Organisation, rose by 37,000 to 1.528 million in the three months to January from the previous quarter and was the highest level since October 2002. The unemployment rate, as measured by the ILO, increased to 5.0 percent in the three months to January, up 0.1 percentage points from the previous quarter.
Now, looking at the United States:
* Real GDP increased 3.5 percent in 2005, and growth was revised up from an original estimate of 1.1 percent to a 1.6 percent annual rate for the fourth quarter of 2005. The economy has been growing for 17 straight quarters, and the composite index of leading indicators increased 1.1 percent in January, indicating continued economic growth.
* The unemployment rate is 4.8 percent - lower than the average of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. (Yes, that would include you, Bill Clinton!)
* Real disposable incomes have risen 2.2 percent over the past 12 months. Since January 2001, real after-tax income per person has risen 8.2 percent.
* The core Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose just 0.2 percent in January. Core CPI has increased a moderate 2.1 percent over the past 12 months, indicating core inflation remains contained.
* During the past four quarters, productivity has increased 2.5 percent. Productivity has grown at a 3.4 percent annual rate since the business-cycle peak in the first quarter of 2001.
The reality is that Great Britain, our ally, would love to have the economic growth we see in the US, but it is struggling with the rest of Europe. Bill Clinton, shamelessly, has his envy misdirected and is just playing a political game. And, since he's only 59, we can expect many more years of his sideline president bashing in the future.
What Clinton means is that certain Americans envy the British government's ability to meddle in people's lives. The rest of us Amuricans jest ain't sophisticated enough to unnerstand that personal freedom and individual initiative are so passe.
why iraqis hit "mute" when ms. albright speaks
Madeleine Albright basically says in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times that Bush is a bit at sea with his good vs. evil strategy. After demonstrating her expertise by explaining that Iraq and Iran fought a long war in the 1980s and that Iran condemned the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Albright said:
"The administration is now divided between those who understand this complexity and those who do not."
The implication is that Albright is so much wiser than those in the Bush administration because she understood the complexity of the region when she was secretary of state. But Iraqis want to know why she thinks her view of, say, Iraq is anything anyone should respect. And frankly, we advise Iranians and others to consider Albright's view of their lives and the lives of their children before listening to anything she has to say.
Take for example, this 1996 chilling exhange on CBS:
Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes: "We have heard that half a million [Iraqi] children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"*
US Secretary of State Madeline Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."
And in 1997, Albright told a Georgetown University audience "We do not agree with nations who argue that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted."
Iraqis have no interest in hearing Albright's opinion about anything.
If that's not enough, recall the image of Madeleine Albright chasing (literally) Yasser Arafat outside the US Embassy in Paris after he walked out of negotiations. Yes, she is such a wise woman.
* The 500,000 figure was Saddam playing public relations. It worked: the Oil for Food program was created and Saddam used it to bribe foreign leaders and extend his reign of misery on Iraq.
buy this and be popular
...or at least less irritating:
A DEVICE that can pick up on people's emotions is being developed to help people with autism relate to those around them. It will alert its autistic user if the person they are talking to starts showing signs of getting bored or annoyed.
One of the problems facing people with autism is an inability to pick up on social cues. Failure to notice that they are boring or confusing their listeners can be particularly damaging, says Rana El Kaliouby of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It's sad because people then avoid having conversations with them."
The "emotional social intelligence prosthetic" device, which El Kaliouby is constructing along with MIT colleagues Rosalind Picard and Alea Teeters, consists of a camera small enough to be pinned to the side of a pair of glasses, connected to a hand-held computer running image recognition software plus software that can read the emotions these images show. If the wearer seems to be failing to engage his or her listener, the software makes the hand-held computer vibrate.
the latino backlash myth
The current illegal immigration issue played out with identical arguments and passions in California in 1994 over Prop. 187. The proposition, which would have denied public services to illegal immigrants, passed by 59% with a sizeable chunk of Hispanic voters in support.
The law was promptly killed by a judge who said the law was an unconstitutional attempt by Californians to control immigration, a federal prerogrative. Ever since, the Republican party in California has been in decline, some say because of 187. Debra Saunders says that is bunk:
Call that the Backlash Myth. In fact, Prop. 187 passed with 59 percent of the vote, and GOP Gov. Pete Wilson, who championed the measure, was re-elected in 1994. In 2003, when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses, he so enraged voters that he sealed his political demise. After Davis was recalled from office, the heavily Democratic California Legislature repealed the bill.
That's your backlash.
Don't blame racism. While some in the media may think all Latinos vote alike, the Los Angeles Times poll found that 38 percent of Latino voters in California strongly opposed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
If there is a backlash, it probably will be against the demonstrators. Even before students began blocking the Los Angeles streets to protest legislation in Congress to toughen penalties for illegal immigrants and smugglers, Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies told me over the telephone, "I hope they keep doing it. It just makes it less and less likely the Senate's going to pass any amnesty."
nine out ten doctors recommend growing a spine
Democrats have polled extensively on national security, testing various possible messages for the fall, and found that the more emphasis put on securing the homeland, the more voters respond.
According to one poll taken for the Democratic National Committee, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed responded positively to such a message, rather than a message that emphasized taking the fight to the terrorists and staying the course in Iraq.
If this sounds familiar, it's the Bill Clinton style of leadership: take a poll to find out where the crowd is headed, then rush to the front and cry out, "Follow me."
Thus the Democrats' hissy fit in witnessing real leadership from President Bush. They deride Bush's refusal to shift with the wind as stubbornness and arrogance.
saddam's slow war
The latest quip accusation that the United States "rushed to war" with Saddam's Iraq conveniently ignores 12 years of combat, terror and crime.
Perhaps The Slow War -- Saddam's war against the U.N.-mandated sanctions and inspections regimen that halted Operation Desert Storm -- has slipped from public historical memory. It shouldn't, for The Slow War is the long, violent bridge connecting Desert Storm to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
From March 1991 to March 2003, Saddam fought The Slow War savvily and savagely, utilizing an array of political, military and economic ploys. Moreover, by early 2003, Saddam believed he was winning.
The Iraqi dictator had reasons to make that calculation. Recall the fall of 2002 -- and the growing realization that the entire post-Desert Storm sanctions regimen had withered. The curious lack of political will on the part of key Security Council members (France and Russia) to keep Saddam properly caged was increasingly evident.
What the world didn't know, and wouldn't learn until early 2004 when the Iraqi Interim Government began naming names, was how effectively Saddam had corrupted the Oil for Food program. Oil for Food, a program designed to provide food and medicine for the Iraqi people, had in fact become an insidious economic weapon in The Slow War, used to buy political influence and corrode the entire sanctions policy.
A recent article in "The Economist" quoted former Saddam crony Tariq Aziz as telling interrogators that Saddam had given France and Russia millions of dollars in contracts "with the implied understanding that their political posture ... would be pro-Iraqi." In other words, mass murderer Saddam was bribing his way to a political victory that would have reversed his battlefield defeat in Desert Storm.
thursday march 30, 2006
new record for people in a bubble
...excluding Beverly Hills, that is. The new record is 19.
lying with polls, episode #24983
If political polls are to mean anything, they must predict how people actually vote. Thus polling samples must reflect the right mix of Dems, Republicans and Indies to mean anything. In 2004, party identification was even. The "big news" yesterday was that Dems now lead Republicans by one point.
If party identification is so close as to be a dead heat, why do polling services routinely underrepresent Republicans? CBS polls routinely overpoll Democrats so badly that their results are hardly worth the effort of analyzing. Their last major poll had a disparity between Democrats and Republicans of thirteen points -- which they corrected to a nine-point difference. Surprise! It found that Bush's approval numbers had dropped!
top 87 worst predictions
The mood in Washington has been sour lately so Democrats in Congress thoughtfully provided a little levity Wednesday by issuing their National Security Strategy.
On Feb. 3rd, the Department of Defense issued its quadrennial report on defense strategy. It was 92 pages long. The "Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World" is six pages long. Half of that is repeating the report in Spanish. And there is a cover page in each language. So the actual "plan" is just two pages long, presented in bullet points in large type, with ample white space between them. Party elders must have labored for months to produce this bear.
The first pledge the Democrats make is to: "Rebuild a state-of-the-art military by making the needed investments in equipment and manpower so that we can project power to protect America wherever and whenever necessary."
This would be a welcome change from past Democratic practice, since a majority of Democrats in both houses of Congress voted against virtually every major weapons system (the M1 tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Patriot missile, the B-2 bomber) that brought us victory in the Cold War, the Gulf War, and the march to Baghdad.
The Democrats pledge to "Eliminate Osama bin Laden, destroy terrorist networks like al Qaida, finish the job in Afghanistan, and end the threat posed by the Taliban."
Since the goal of eliminating Osama bin Laden isn't exactly a radical departure from the policies President Bush is pursuing, Democratic stress on this objective suggests they think they could be more successful in obtaining it than the president so far has been. But the Democratic "plan" provides no hint of what Democrats would do differently.
Perhaps what Democrats have in mind is to build a time machine, and go back to February of 1996, when the government of Sudan, where bin Laden was then residing, offered to turn him over to the United States, and the Clinton administration refused to accept him. Where is H.G> Wells when you need him?
an hour later you feel decaffeinated
Maureen Dowd on a Starbucks cup.
geekonomics: wealth in scarcity
What if everything in life were free? You'd think we'd be happier. But game designers know better: We'd be bored.
Economics is loosely defined as choice under scarcity. After all, in the real world, there's only so much to go around. You can't always get what you want, and unfulfilled desires give rise to markets. But in a game world, there's no inherent reason for scarcity. Game designers have given us plenty of utopias where we can have all the mithril we want, to buy whatever we want whenever we want it.
Problem is, those worlds turn out to be dull. For example, the developers of Active Worlds made everything in the game free. Players built enormous houses - in which there was nothing to do. The game never quite caught on. That's why today's newer massive synthetic worlds make life hard.
wednesday march 29, 2006
why donald trump would flop in france
"You're fired!" apparently has no French translation.
Yesterday 3 million French took to the streets to protest a provisional labor reform that would allow workers under age 26 to be fired for incompetence in the first two years on the job. Such an outrage makes for some great photos, which you can see here.
Then there's Defending the Frogs.
UPDATE: The four ways you can fire someone in France.
el ranto grande
Rodolfo F. Acuña, a professor of Chicana/o Studies at California State University, Northridge, vented his spleen in today's LA Daily News. Some nuggets:
With the advent of the right-wing think tanks and the Internet, immigrant-bashing became an industry. Playing on the fears of white Americans who have historically been narcissistic and consumed by angst, these groups have made millions by creating a living hell for people who just want what others want a place to live in peace and educate their children.
Such a living hell that thousands keep coming. And isn't that a rather nasty description of white people?
Aside from the mendaciousness of the nativist, their stupidity is mind-blowing. The United States has been criminally negligent when it comes to Latin America. Its drug market has converted many Latin Americans into suppliers of American demand for drugs. As a result, the governments of these countries have morally decayed.
Those devil gringos make us sell them drugs!
The U.S.' green revolutions have destroyed agricultural subsistence, and the North American Free Trade Agreement has destroyed nascent manufacturing industries.
So we should go back to subsistence farming because Mexico can't/won't grow up?
Today, the only thing that is sustaining Mexico and Central America is the remittances sent back annually by hard-working compatriots.
Why is that? Why can't so many Latin American countries function?
If it were not for these remittances, those economies would crash and there would be many more immigrant workers coming into territory that was illegally taken from their ancestors. They are illegal because the border was moved.
If we hadn't stolen Texas, there's just be that much more Mexico run by crooks and incompetents.
I shudder to think that someone so incapable of clear thought influences the minds of students, and is doing so with my tax dollars.
no good deed goes unpunished
...at least for people trying to immigrate to the USA legally:
President Bush is currently considering allowing illegal immigrants to “not jump the line” but at least “get to the back of the line” to citizenship – for just $3000.
I expect you see why I am still trying to get over the shock…
There is no line to citizenship that I, an educated Brit, can even get to the back of... I’ve already spent my $10,000s. I’ve already put in my thousands of pages of paper work. I’ve already invested greatly in your economy. I am using my education directly to benefit hundreds of thousands of Americans who are using the service I provide (for free, by the way), and yet American law requires me to state an intent not to stay permanently. May I humbly ask this country for at least the same rights as an illegal Latino? Now, I’m guessing the word “Mexican” isn’t going to appear anywhere in the legislation, so should I just let my visa expire; go quiet for a while; become an illegal British immigrant, and then get all the rights for which I’ve been spending so much time and money, as well as some rights that I cannot have as an alien executive manager, by registering as a guest worker? If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny.
So watch out for your next immigration crisis, America. You will see a new phenomenon: legal alien residents like me will be trying to find ways to become illegal immigrants just so we can join the same line to citizenship that is denied to us as legal productive alien residents … And it will be the best $3000 we’ve ever spent – a small fraction of what’s it’s already cost me to conduct business here for just a year. I wonder if I’ll have to learn Spanish to fill in the forms?
9/11 conspiracy theories
...conveniently collated. Choose your own nutty flavor.
forty-two midgets vs. one lion
...and it wasn't even close.
how to pour ketchup
blood and gore
That's David Blood and Al Gore writing "For People and Planet" in Opinion Journal. (Rule of thumb: be wary of non-astronomers who use the word planet.) Read the column, then read the comments from other readers. My favorite, from J. Reynolds - Houston:
Many American companies indeed already are accounting for environmental and other societal costs--expenses such as regulations, taxes and the monstrous overall levy necessary for the USA to maintain the armed forces that protect Western civilization.
The manner in which companies are accounting for this overwhelming burden is to ship as many jobs as possible to India and elsewhere--to nations that baldly reject the burdens necessitated by such societal overhead, and accordingly can provide labor for mere pennies on the dollar. Al Gore is preaching to the choir here. Let's see him take his sermons overseas, and convert some genuine heathens.
Oh yes, India. You may remember that Al negotiated the Kyoto Treaty, which exempted India and China in stark contravention of a unanimous Senate. Which is why Kyoto was DOA long before Bush came to Washington.
"marriage is for white people"
LaShawn Barber comments on the WaPo story that got people talking. Here's a startling stat: 52% of black women will marry by age 30 compared with 81% of white women.
Is anyone to blame beyond those making bad choices? Liberal government policy meant to help the poor (welfare benefits to unwed mothers) exacerbated the problem.
In 1965 Daniel Patrick Moynihan (why don't they make Democrats like him anymore?) warned how illegitimacy would destroy black families. He caught hell for it, but he was right.
tuesday march 28, 2006
Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets of cities across France today in the biggest show of force to date against Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and his new labor law targeting youth. One of the country's largest unions, the CGT, put the nationwide figure at 3 million, a turnout that the CGT secretary general, Bernard Thibault, hailed as "historic."
The marches were part of a nationwide day of action against the Villepin legislation, which was intended to encourage hiring by making it easy for companies to fire workers under age 26 during their first two years on the job.
Student and union opposition to the law has ballooned into one of the biggest protest movements in France in years.
The unofficial theme song for the day was the Beatles "I, Me Mine."
All through the day, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
All through the night, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Now they're frightened of leaving it
Everyone's weaving it
Coming on strong all the time
All through the day I me mine
greenhouse theory all hot air?
According to Vladimir Shaidurov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the apparent rise in average global temperature recorded by scientists over the last hundred years or so could be due to atmospheric changes that are not connected to human emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of natural gas and oil. Shaidurov explained how changes in the amount of ice crystals at high altitude could damage the layer of thin, high altitude clouds found in the mesosphere that reduce the amount of warming solar radiation reaching the earth's surface.
Shaidurov has used a detailed analysis of the mean temperature change by year for the last 140 years and explains that there was a slight decrease in temperature until the early twentieth century. This flies in the face of current global warming theories that blame a rise in temperature on rising carbon dioxide emissions since the start of the industrial revolution. Shaidurov, however, suggests that the rise, which began between 1906 and 1909, could have had a very different cause, which he believes was the massive Tunguska Event, which rocked a remote part of Siberia, northwest of Lake Baikal on the 30th June 1908.
incredible macro photography
Shooting small is a hobby of mine. Seeing a portfolio like this makes me jealous. I do wonder whether the insects were alive when he shot them.
how we dress
Photos of the dress codes of social groups.
voting with their feet
The United States accounts for 37.1% of the world's immigration. WorldMapper visualizes the data. Poke around the site a bit, there is plenty of interesting info.
clean air is dangerous to the planet!
File this under "damned if you do, damned if you don't."
THE amount of sunshine reaching earth is increasing, accelerating the pace of climate change, scientists have found.
A series of independent studies around the world show a significant rise in the amount of sunshine penetrating the atmosphere to be absorbed by the earth’s surface and turned into heat.
“The enhanced warming we have seen since the 1990s along with phenomena such as the widespread melting of glaciers could well be due to this increased intensity of sunlight compounding the effect of greenhouse gases,” said Professor Martin Wild of the Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science in Zurich, Switzerland.
And what's causing more sunlight to get through? Cleaner air!
Measurements of sunshine levels between 1960 and 1990 had shown a decrease in the amount of sunshine reaching the earth, a phenomenon known as global dimming.
This was thought to have been caused by dust, smog and other pollutants, mainly from industrialised western countries.The pollutants, known as aerosols, reduced sunshine levels by absorbing and scattering solar radiation and promoting the formation of clouds that reflected radiation back into space.
In the last two decades, however, there have been significant decreases in such pollutants, partly due to industry becoming cleaner but largely because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and much of its heavy industry.
Wild said: “Sunshine levels had been decreasing by 2% a decade between 1960 and 1980 — a total decline of about 6%. Now they are going up again. Perhaps this is why our Swiss glaciers are melting.”
A 6% increase in the amount of solar radiation reaching earth would have a powerful impact on climate, especially when added to the warming effect of greenhouse gases which have already raised global temperatures by about 0.6C. Researchers predict an additional rise of at least 1.5C by 2050.
Sheesh. You try to do good for Mother Earth and look what it gets you.
newsweek, time predict global cooling
From 1975, Newsweek notes ominous signs that the world is cooling and we might all starve.
And Time Magazine, Monday, Jun. 24, 1974:
Another Ice Age?
In Africa, drought continues for the sixth consecutive year, adding terribly to the toll of famine victims. During 1972 record rains in parts of the U.S., Pakistan and Japan caused some of the worst flooding in centuries.
In Canada's wheat belt, a particularly chilly and rainy spring has delayed planting and may well bring a disappointingly small harvest. Rainy Britain, on the other hand, has suffered from uncharacteristic dry spells the past few springs. A series of unusually cold winters has gripped the American Far West, while New England and northern Europe have recently experienced the mildest winters within anyone's recollection.
The current Time cover reads: "Be Worried. Be Very Worried."
Uh yeah, how about, "Be skeptical. Be very, very skeptical."
MOnday march 27, 2006
pillow talk gets results
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A Muslim couple in India has been told by local Islamic leaders they must separate after the husband "divorced" his wife in his sleep, the Press Trust of India reported.
Sohela Ansari told friends that her husband Aftab had uttered the word "talaq," or divorce, three times in his sleep, according to the report published in newspapers Monday.
When local Islamic leaders got to hear, they said Aftab's words constituted a divorce under an Islamic procedure known as "triple talaq." The couple, married for 11 years with three children, were told they had to split.
The religious leaders ruled that if the couple wanted to remarry they would have to wait at least 100 days. Sohela would also have to spend a night with another man and be divorced by him in turn.
To score political points, Democrats made combat body armor a political issue (callous Bush and Rumsfeld don't care about GIs etc.). Well, now more body armor has been delivered to Marines in Iraq where it...sits in closets.
Extra body armor - the lack of which caused a political storm in America - has flooded into Iraq, but many Marines here promptly stuck it in lockers or under bunks. Too heavy and cumbersome, many say.
Yesterday we linked to an article about the recent French riots. The author of that piece was interviewed by John Hawkins:
John Hawkins: In the book, you said that anti-Americanism seemed to be at least in part, a religion substitute for many Europeans. Can you elaborate on that idea?
Claire Berlinski: Certainly. The phenomena to be explained are the irrationality and the ardor of European anti-Americanism. Irrational, because entirely disproportionate to any real faults in American society. Of course America has flaws, and no, it is not lunacy to point them out. But in poll after poll, you see substantial numbers of Europeans, non-trivial numbers, who believe the September 11 attacks were staged, yes, staged, by an oil-hungry American military-industrial complex to justify its imperialist adventures in Iraq. In Germany, 20 percent of the population believes this.
In France, a book arguing this case was a galloping bestseller. Now that is bughouse nuts. Totally bats in the belfry. Then the ardor: "My anti-Americanism," wrote one columnist in the British Telegraph, "has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness." If only we could harness all that outrage and transform it into a non-polluting energy source! You see this kind of thing all the time in the European press. (Meanwhile, if the French, say, wipe out the entire Ivorian air force, do you see protestors on the streets chanting "No blood for cocoa?" What a question.)
When you have these two phenomena together-irrationality and this curious passion, this fervor-it seems reasonable to conclude that you are in the presence of something like a cult. So you consider it, sociologically. What role does this ideology serve in the European psyche? One answer: It fulfills many of the roles once played by the Church. It offers a comprehensive-if lunatic-answer to the question, "Why is the world the way it is, and why is there evil in that world?" It provides a devil to excoriate and then to exorcise. There is community and belonging in anti-American activism, ecstasy in protest. Again, a form of Christian heresy, and no more lunatic, surely, than anything the Cathars believed, if also no less.
paul graham on web 2.0
The most dramatic example of Web 2.0 democracy is not in the selection of ideas, but their production. I've noticed for a while that the stuff I read on individual people's sites is as good as or better than the stuff I read in newspapers and magazines. And now I have independent evidence: the top links on Reddit are generally links to individual people's sites rather than to magazine articles or news stories.
My experience of writing for magazines suggests an explanation. Editors. They control the topics you can write about, and they can generally rewrite whatever you produce. The result is to damp extremes. Editing yields 95th percentile writing-- 95% of articles are improved by it, but 5% are dragged down. 5% of the time you get "throngs of geeks."
On the web, people can publish whatever they want. Nearly all of it falls short of the editor-damped writing in print publications. But the pool of writers is very, very large. If it's large enough, the lack of damping means the best writing online should surpass the best in print.  And now that the web has evolved mechanisms for selecting good stuff, the web wins net. Selection beats damping, for the same reason market economies beat centrally planned ones.
As usual for Paul Graham, this is a meaty, well written essay. Read it all.
hey mister taliban...
..On Thursday the 27-year-old women's rights activist, a member of the Afghan Parliament, mounted a stage at Yale and turned her fire on the university's decision to admit a former Taliban official as a special student.
"All should raise their voice against such criminals," she told a crowd of 200. "It is an unforgivable insult to the Afghan people that he is here. He should face a court of law rather than be at one of your finest universities." The Yale Daily News reported that the large attendance at her speech showed that the former Taliban official "continues to be widely controversial." Last night the Yale College Council, the undergraduate student government, began debating a resolution urging the university's administration not to admit Mr. Hashemi as a regular sophomore in the fall.
Europe’s social disaster is unfolding while the rest of the world is booming at its fastest rate in three decades. 2004 and 2005 were record years for China and India, which have double-digit growth rates, and for the USA, which fully enjoys the benefits of globalization. The world’s economy is booming at an average rate of over 4%, but Europe’s growth has stagnated at an inflated 1.5%.
Why is Europe performing so poorly? Europe’s deficient performance is incompatible with its huge potential as the world’s largest single consumer market. Its slow growth contradicts its unequalled industrial productivity and infrastructure, its outstanding education level and labour ethics, its favourable climate, “fair business” morality, and not in the least its tremendous potential provided by the opening of the iron curtain. Obviously Europe’s fairy-tale is not materializing.
Read it all. Note the change in Ireland's tax burden. Ireland, once the sick man of Europe, now imports workers to keep pace with economic growth.
Saturday's large (and peaceful) march in Los Angeles against a proposal to toughen laws on illegal immigration may backfire politically. One placard I read (in a news photos) said:
"If you think I'm illegal because I'm Mexican then learn the true history because I'm in my homeland."
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times overtly changed its report to play down the Mexican flags. Mickey Kaus notes:
Put Out More Flags--L.A. Times True to Form: That propagandistic LAT story on Saturday's big demonstration, the one that mentioned the presence of Mexican flags only in the tenth paragraph, has now been amended and updated--to eliminate any reference to Mexican flags at all! The story now also contains the following:
In contrast to demonstrations 12 years ago against Proposition 187, Saturday's rally featured more American flags than those from any other country.
From what I saw, this statement is false. There were about as many Mexican as American flags (as reported below). Here's what to me seems a representative LAT photo of the crowd--judge for yourself.** Maybe it depends what part of the demo you were at and at what time. But at the very least "more American flags" is a highly deceptive assertion.
the department of peace
A touching story of Marines in Iraq and a little girl who needed a wheelchair.
a weird french dynamic
Last fall's riots in France, with the fragrance of roasted Citroens in the air, was seen either as a form of quasi-jihad or the frustrated expression of Muslims marginalized by society.
Last week's riots were unambiguous: French youths were up in arms (and torching cars) because of potential labor law reforms they don't like. Both riots are different sides of the same coin:
Last Saturday morning, needing help to move several heavy cartons of books from my apartment in central Paris to a storage room, I hired two movers and a van from the want ads. Students were in the streets protesting the Contrat de Premier Embauche (CPE) -- a law proposed to combat unemployment by giving employers more flexibility to fire young employees -- and the barricades and traffic diversions made our four-block drive into a half-hour ordeal. As we turned down one obstructed street after another, the movers -- both Arab immigrants -- became more and more incensed."They're idiots," said the driver, gesturing toward the ecstatic protesters. "Puppets for the socialists and the communists." He pantomimed pulling the strings of a marionette.
"It's us they hurt," added the second man. By this he meant immigrants and their children, particularly the residents of France's suburban ghettos, where unemployment runs as high as 50 percent. And, of course, he was right, as everyone with even a rudimentary grasp of economics appreciates: If employers are unable to fire workers, they will be less likely to hire them. It is now almost impossible to fire an employee in France, a circumstance that disproportionately penalizes groups seen by employers as risky: minorities, inexperienced workers and those without elite educations, like the outraged man sitting beside me.
This is the second time in four months that France has been seized with violent protests. And in an important sense, these are counter-riots, since the goals of the privileged students conflict with those of the suburban rioters who took to the streets last November. The message of the suburban rioters: Things must change. The message of the students: Things must stay the same. In other words: Screw the immigrants.
Screw them until they start to listen seriously to the crazy imam's call for the return of the Caliphate.
The issue is fear of a real overhaul of France's economically stifling labor laws. While some of the suburban hoodlums have joined in these protests -- after all, a riot is a riot -- it is clear that unless this overhaul proceeds, the immigrants are doomed. If so, last year's violence will seem a lark compared with what is coming.
Curiously, however, no French politician will say this openly. They will not even say these obvious words: France is a representative democracy; if you don't like what your elected leaders are doing, you can vote against them. Some more words you will never hear in France: Students who continue to disrupt civil and academic life will be expelled. Strikers will be fired. We are calling in the troops.
Instead, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is nightly seen on television, earnestly proposing one compromise after the other, even as his supporters scuttle for cover. The powerful barons of the labor unions, on the other hand -- the puppet masters of that golden flock of imbeciles now on the streets -- can scarcely be bothered to give interviews. Compromise? Only when the law is repealed. By then, of course, compromise would be unnecessary. Instead of negotiations, they call for a general strike.
That's because France is still in the grip of precisely the political mentality that has prevailed here since the Middle Ages. As the protesters themselves cheerfully declare: It's the street that rules. Today's mobs, like their predecessors, are notable for their poor grasp of economic principles and their hostility to the free market. Only wardrobe distinguishes these demonstrations from those that led to the invasion of the national convention in 1795, when first the mob protested that commodity prices were too high; when the government responded with price controls, it protested with equal vigor that goods had disappeared and black market prices had risen.
Similarly, the students on the streets today espouse economic views entirely unpolluted by reality. If the CPE is enacted, said one young woman, "You'll get a job knowing that you've got to do every single thing they ask you to do because otherwise you may get sacked."
why blair should stay at 10 downing st.
Blair has said that he intends to resign before the next British election. The ritualistic leftists in his Labour Party have been putting pressure on him to resign -- the sooner, the better. Now the fastidious right has moved in to increase the pressure on Blair. Think of it. This brave and farsighted man who told all Europe that the enemy was coming is asked to resign even though the enemy has struck and he has been vindicated. He summoned the forces worldwide to repel the brutes and he is succeeding. The man who, with the Coalition of the Willing. is whipping the New Nazis, the Islamofascists, in two countries, is prevailed upon by some of his fellow citizens to give up his post before the job is done. And if he does, who will take over as prime minister, Neville Chamberlain?
With the Economist's editors assuming this preposterous position, let me assume at least an equally impudent position. As the editor in chief of The American Spectator I call upon Blair to finish his premiership and resign only after he has handed authority over to a functioning Iraqi government with the Iraqi military pacifying its country. Frankly, I admire Blair as one of the rarest of politicians. He is a man who has taken chances on behalf of principles, principles that are at once sound and require resolve to defend. In this case the principle is defending civilized values against barbarism.
nothing to wear? Just spray on your duds.
Manel Torres has developed Fabrican, a cotton-fabric that comes in a can. Once sprayed onto your body, the pressurised liquid turns instantly into a fabric. Each squirt from the can sends thousands of cotton fibers splattering against your skin. The fibers then bend together to form a disposable garment that peels away when you undress. Since the fibres are delivered in a diffused form, other elements can easily be added, like perfumes, pigments or treatments.
sunday march 26, 2006
seat me in the no-yapping section, please
New technologies offer humans new ways to be rude, as the cell phone proves. I remember standing in line at the post office as a type-A female behind me blabbed loudly about her personal business. No one would think of collaring a stranger and dragging them into a phone booth to witness their conversation.
Now there's a chance that the Feds will allow cell phones on airplanes. Perish the thought. We've been hectored about the damage from secondhand smoke, but what about secondhand conversation?
Ben Stein weighs in.
Trivia: people speak so loudly into cell phones because, unlike land line telephones, a portion of their outgoing voice is not fed into their speaker. People speak louder to compensate for the perceived loss.
The ambient noise level on airliners is quite high -- just see how loud you need to turn up a CD player to hear, then listen at that same level in a quiet room -- so the speaking level of cell phone yappers would be quite a din.
Take this free personality test.
Don't know 'bout you, but I'm voting for Pomme and Kelly.
dictator of the month
becoming a german
...means passing a test.
When the German state of Hessen announced plans last week for a strict citizenship test -- with questions on German artists and philosophers that even some native-born Germans can't answer -- immigration became (again) a burning topic in Germany. Which is odd, considering that fewer people than ever actually even want to become German: Since 2000 the number of immigrants applying for citzenship halved.
The German state of Baden-Württemberg got the whole debate rolling in January, when it announced a new citizenship test. At the time it was criticized by many as anti-Muslim. But now, ahead of three state elections on Sunday, German politicians from the left and right are falling over each other to declare the controversial exams a good idea.
ocho questions for illegals
Suposedly 500,000 people turned out for an rally on behalf of illegals:
Joining what some are calling the nation's largest mobilization of immigrants ever, hundreds of thousands of people boisterously marched in downtown Los Angeles Saturday to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall on the U.S. southern border.
Dear rally people, please answer these questions:
- How many people live on earth? (Answer: 6 billion or so)
- How many currently live in the USA? (280 million)
- How many of the 6 billion would like to live in the USA? (More than can fit)
- Does the USA have the right to choose who gets to live here?
- Should Mexicans, by virtue of living on our border, get to cut in line ahead Chinese, Korean, Polish, Irish etc. citizens waiting to come legally?
- If you answered "yes" (or si) to #5, why is that not racist?
- Why is Mexico such a basket case that it cannot support its own people? Mexico has natural resources and people willing to work hard. Why not fix your own country?
- Do you understand why American citizens (of any extraction) might regard marching with Mexican flags in Los Angeles to be impertinent?
LA Times: "undocumented" immigrants are undocumented because they broke the law and thus did not get their documents. That's why honest folks calls them illegal immigrants. Which isn't to say that they are not kind, hard-working family-oriented people who could make fine citizens.
saturday march 25, 2006
e tu, pute?
Remember how the French and Russians opposed the liberation of Iraq on principle? Well, many high-ranking French interests were being bribed by Saddam with oil vouchers and other goodies. The Russians fretted over Saddam's multi-billion dollar debt to them -- who'd pay up if the dictator was gone?
Now comes word the Russians were feeding Saddam military intelligence:
Moscow had informants inside U.S. Central Command whose information on the March 2003 invasion of Iraq was relayed to dictator Saddam Hussein days before American troops ousted him from power, according to a Defense Department history released yesterday.
And, as U.S. troops encircled Baghdad in April, Russia's ambassador fed information from Moscow's intelligence service to Saddam's regime regarding U.S. troop movements.
The new disclosures show that Moscow was working against the Bush administration in private, as it opposed in public the U.S. desire for a United Nations Security Council resolution explicitly authorizing the invasion.
save our planet: ban dihydrogen monoxide
You can fool most of the people most of the time.
barefoot & pregnant
Ask the Imam: Are women allowed to work?
According to the Shari’ah, the Qur’aan and Ahaadith, the woman’s place is at home. It is the responsibility of the husband to support his wife and fulfil all her needs. If a woman does not have any financial support, then only she may seek employment. In such a situation, she must adhere to the laws of Hijaab.
The concept of females working merely for economic independency has no basis in the Shari’ah. In fact, it is a root of many evils. It is this economic independency in a woman that gives her the courage to break her marital home. Consider the marital breakdown in the US (4-5) due to woman independency. If she was dependant, or her husband, she would exercise restraint and maintain her marriage. That is best in the interest of her family, husband and children. It does not mean that a woman should be dependant on men merely to maintain her marriage.
We have merely expressed the wisdom of a female being dependant. This also does not mean a female cannot be rich. She may earn an income but without violating the laws of the Shari’ah. Firstly, a wife must get the consent of her husband to work. If the husband refuses, she cannot work.
friday march 24, 2006
the religious left strikes again
Three Christian "peace activists" held hostage for four months in Iraq were rescued yesterday, and promptly insulted the hands that saved them. In a statement, their organization, Christian Peacemaker Teams, noted:
...their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers. We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end.
That generated a righteous outcry, which led to this addenda today:
We have been so overwhelmed and overjoyed to have Jim, Harmeet and Norman freed, that we have not adequately thanked the people involved with freeing them, nor remembered those still in captivity. So we offer these paragraphs as the first of several addenda:
We are grateful to the soldiers who risked their lives to free Jim, Norman and Harmeet. As peacemakers who hold firm to our commitment to nonviolence, we are also deeply grateful that they fired no shots to free our colleagues. We are thankful to all the people who gave of themselves sacrificially to free Jim, Norman, Harmeet and Tom over the last four months, and those supporters who prayed and wept for our brothers in captivity, for their loved ones and for us, their co-workers.
No shots were fired because the bad guys were away at the time of the rescue. But if present, would it have been wrong to shoot them? Remember, they killed one of the four hostages and dumped his body on the streets of Baghdad.
One also has to wonder what these folks expected to accomplish in Iraq. Were they planning a Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?" moment?
One aspect going unnoticed is that their kidnappers appear to have been common criminals, not political actors. Saddam dumped 125,000 criminals onto the streets of Baghdad just before the country was liberated. Such scum are extreme opportunists, and have contributed mightily to the suffering of Iraqis trying to build a nation. They ain't insurgents or jihadis, just criminals.
I was living in Miami when Fidel Castro opened his prisons and let thousands of his scum emigrate during the Mariel boatlift. Within weeks, Miami absorbed 125,000 newcomers, including some of those crooks. Even in a stable country, their effect on crime was immediate and profound.
victor davis hanson
...talks about his latest column with Hugh Hewitt:
...I live in a house that was built in 1870, and so I have an alternate version of U.S. history, because I grew up with stories from my parents, about my grandparents, about my great-grandparents, about my great-great-grandparents. And it was always the take on the U.S. from this particular house, whether it was the Great Depression or World War I, or the Spanish-American War.
And I was just saying that if I could synthesize that take on the world of people who lived in this house, it looks just about the same as it did when it was built, was a tragic view that they accepted that Americans did not have to be perfect to still be good, that when you went to war, you had a bad choice and a worse choice.
But we, the generation, and I said the people that live in this house live in a very different therapeutic world. Even though the house looks the same, I think that our ancestors would look, if the house could talk, would say what's wrong with you people? Do you think that you have a birthright to have perfection? Don't you understand that we almost died? We starved to death, we had Typhoid, people got Polio in this house? We were lucky to eat? We built this farm out of nothing, and now you have six hundred channels, and you're less happy than we were. And I think I was trying to use this as a metaphor to a way a lot of Americans look at Iraq, for example.
...either somebody who's in the administration, a spokesman's got to say now just wait a minute. We went 7,000 miles over to the ancient caliphate, and right in the heart of the autocratic Middle East. We're trying to make a democracy. We've lost 2,300 people, but that's about two weeks in Okinawa, and this country's been through a lot worse at Shiloh and Antietam, Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima, the Yalu River, and we can win this, and we're not getting any oil, the price skyrocketed. We have the biggest, magnanimous foreign aid plant since the Marshall Plan, $87 billion dollars.
We don't have anything to apologize for, and we're almost there. We've had three successful elections. We've dismantled a lot of al Qaeda. We have millions of people in Iraq who've pledged their lives to see this democracy work, and we're not going to stumble before the finish line. So stop it, and just get a grip on yourself. But we need to hear that.
Read Davis's column here.
darfur vs. abu ghraib
Our friend Joerg at Atlantic Review (we did his Blog Carnival logo) compares German media coverage of the Darfur genocide and Abu Ghraib. The pictures are quite striking.
Check it out.
no a real threat
Heartburn ahead for the Bush Lied crowd, as more of Saddam's papers become public.
SADDAM HUSSEIN'S REGIME PROVIDED FINANCIAL support to Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-linked jihadist group founded by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law in the Philippines in the late 1990s, according to documents captured in postwar Iraq. An eight-page fax dated June 6, 2001, and sent from the Iraqi ambassador in Manila to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, provides an update on Abu Sayyaf kidnappings and indicates that the Iraqi regime was providing the group with money to purchase weapons. The Iraqi regime suspended its support--temporarily, it seems--after high-profile kidnappings, including of Americans, focused international attention on the terrorist group.
Great photographs, now at Washington D.C.'s Corcoran. See samples here.
i feel so beat
American Digest does a great sendup of Allen Ginsburg's Howl:
by Gerard Allen Van der Ginsberg
For Karl Rove Solomon
I SAW the second-best minds of my not-so-Great Generation destroyed by Bush Derangement Syndrome, pasty, paunchy, tenured, unelectable, and not looking too sharp naked,
bullshitting themselves through the African-American streets at cocktail hour looking for a Prozac refill,
aging hair-plugged hipsters burning for their ancient political connection to the White House through the machinations of moonbats,
who warred on poverty and Halliburton's Wal-Mart and bulbous-eyed and still high from some bad acid in 1968 set up no-smoking zones on tobacco farms in the unnatural darkness of Darwinistic delusions floating a few more half-baked secular notions like "Let's all worship zero!",
who bared their withered breasts and, he or she, bleated their vaginas' mawkish monologues to John Kennedy's ghost under the capitol dome and french-kissed Mohammedan agents in the gore-drenched redrum rooms of Guantanamo,
who passed gas and on into universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating President Al Gore and Vice-President Noam Chomsky envisioning world peace among the masters of war and stayed on and stayed on and stayed on sucking off the great teat of academe in upaid student loans and over-paid professorial positions the better to molest the minds of children for decades with every third year off for bad behavior,
Read it all. For those unfamiliar with Howl, read it here.
huge crater discovered in sahara
Scientists have discovered a huge crater in the Sahara desert, the largest one ever found there.
The crater is about 19 miles (31 kilometers) wide, more than twice as big as the next largest Saharan crater known. It utterly dwarfs Meteor Crater in Arizona, which is about three-fourths of a mile (1.2 kilometers) in diameter.
In fact, the newfound crater, in Egypt, was likely carved by a space rock that was itself roughly 0.75 miles wide in an event that would have been quite a shock, destroying everything for hundreds of miles. For comparison, the Chicxulub crater left by a dinosaur-killing asteroid 65 million years ago is estimated to be 100 to 150 miles (160 to 240 kilometers) wide.
thursday march 23, 2006
russians nosing around iraq
...and Mohammed isn't pleased:
I am completely in support of opening the Iraqi market for foreign capital because simply Iraq will never have a strong economy without foreign investors making business here but this attitude on the end of Basra's governor and the Russians does not read as 'free market' but rather as 'political deal' and a losing one because a smart politician would move to award contracts to those who stood with his people not those who were good friends of the tyrannical regime that oppressed him and his people.
If I were the governor of that province I would be inviting and encouraging the rich countries to invest in my city and not countries whose people were living nearly a famine just a decade ago and whose technologies were proven backward.
I don't like the Russians; they are known for their corrupt deals and the smell of their firms' scandals during the 'oil for food' program still stinks till this day and I think this more than enough reason to put them at the bottom of the list.
blow 'em up
Jyllands-Postens revealed today that a French TV Station France-2 has undercover video of the Danish Cartoon Faking Imams threatening to blow up a Moderate Danish Muslim politician and the Ministry!
Ahmed Akkari the lying Imam behind the Danish cartoon riots, and accused child abuser, is currently out of the country at a Islamic gathering in Bahrain on Western attitudes towards Islam.
From "Why we fight on"
...the defining characteristic of today's world is its interdependence; that whereas the economics of globalisation are well matured, the politics of globalisation are not; and that unless we articulate a common global policy based on common values, we risk chaos threatening our stability, economic and political, through letting extremism, conflict or injustice go unchecked.
The consequence of this thesis is a policy of engagement not isolation; and one that is active not reactive.
Confusingly, its proponents and opponents come from all sides of the political spectrum. So it is apparently a "neo-conservative" ie right wing view, to be ardently in favour of spreading democracy round the world; whilst others on the right take the view that this is dangerous and deluded - the only thing that matters is an immediate view of national interest. Some progressives see intervention as humanitarian and necessary; others take the view that provided dictators don't threaten our citizens directly, what they do with their own, is up to them.
The debate on world trade has thrown all sides into an orgy of political cross-dressing. Protectionist sentiment is rife on the left; on the right, there are calls for "economic patriotism"; meanwhile some voices left and right, are making the case for free trade not just on grounds of commerce but of justice.
The true division in foreign policy today is between: those who want the shop "open", or those who want it "closed"; those who believe that the long-term interests of a country lie in it being out there, engaged, interactive and those who think the short-term pain of such a policy and its decisions, too great. This division has strong echoes in debates not just over foreign policy and trade but also over immigration.
Progressives may implement policy differently from conservatives, but the fault lines are the same.
Where progressive and conservative policy can differ is that progressives are stronger on the challenges of poverty, climate change and trade justice. I have no doubt at all it is impossible to gain support for our values, unless the demand for justice is as strong as the demand for freedom; and the willingness to work in partnership with others is an avowed preference to going it alone, even if that may sometimes be necessary.
I believe we will not ever get real support for the tough action that may well be essential to safeguard our way of life; unless we also attack global poverty and environmental degradation or injustice with equal vigour.
Of course, poverty exists where people do not/cannot create wealth. Tyrannies seldom produce economic growth. In Zimbabwe, a tyrant did the inverse: killing a thriving economy and creating poverty.
So the first step to attacking global poverty is to attack tyrants.
It is in confronting global terrorism today that the sharpest debate and disagreement is found. Nowhere is the supposed "folly" of the interventionist case so loudly trumpeted as in this case. Here, so it is said, as the third anniversary of the Iraq conflict takes place, is the wreckage of such a world view. Under Saddam Iraq was "stable". Now its stability is in the balance. Ergo, it should never have been done.
This is essentially the product of the conventional view of foreign policy since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This view holds that there is no longer a defining issue in foreign policy. Countries should therefore manage their affairs and relationships according to their narrow national interests. The basic posture represented by this view is: not to provoke, to keep all as settled as it can be and cause no tectonic plates to move. It has its soft face in dealing with issues like global warming or Africa; and reserves its hard face only if directly attacked by another state, which is unlikely. It is a view which sees the world as not without challenge but basically calm, with a few nasty things lurking in deep waters, which it is best to avoid; but no major currents that inevitably threaten its placid surface. It believes the storms have been largely self-created.
This is the majority view of a large part of western opinion, certainly in Europe. According to this opinion, the policy of America since 9/11 has been a gross overreaction; George Bush is as much if not more of a threat to world peace as Osama bin Laden; and what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else in the Middle East, is an entirely understandable consequence of US/UK imperialism or worse, of just plain stupidity. Leave it all alone or at least treat it with sensitivity and it would all resolve itself in time; "it" never quite being defined, but just generally felt as anything that causes disruption.
This world view - which I would characterise as a doctrine of benign inactivity - sits in the commentator's seat, almost as a matter of principle. It has imposed a paradigm on world events that is extraordinary in its attraction and its scope. As we speak, Iraq is facing a crucial moment in its history: to unify and progress, under a government elected by its people for the first time in half a century; or to descend into sectarian strife, bringing a return to certain misery for millions. In Afghanistan, the same life choice for a nation, is being played out. And in many Arab and Muslim states, similar, though less publicised, struggles for democracy dominate their politics.
The easiest line for any politician seeking office in the West today is to attack American policy. A couple of weeks ago as I was addressing young Slovak students, one got up, denouncing US/UK policy in Iraq, fully bought in to the demonisation of the US, utterly oblivious to the fact that without the US and the liberation of his country, he would have been unable to ask such a question, let alone get an answer to it.
the sheen factor
Satire from The Therapist:
Washington--Already shaken by low approval ratings, sources inside Washington say that public skepsism of the 9/11 attacks from "Spin City" actor, Charlie Sheen, could be the "nail in the coffin we've always feared."
Sheen, the star of the currently-running Two-And-A-Half Men, contends that the implosion of the twin towers on September 11th Looked like an "inside job". Sources inside the White House say that they have been "moderately successful" in deflecting seemingly baseless charges from those not besotted with relentless cocaine addiction, adultery, and the propensity to hire hookers with abandon.
"Those days are now over," said one source. "We are now facing our arch-nemesis right in the face."
While many believe that the actor's ability to be critical of the President in war time would be hindered by charges of woman-beating in the not-so distant past, others contend this is the kind of "credibility fuel injection" needed to head off Bush's "tsar-like" leadership.
Sheen's impressive resume of duplicitous behavior doesn't stop there.
"If it becomes common knowledge that Mr. Sheen, despite being married to the visually stunning Denise Richards, solicited a steady array of hookers from Hollywood madam, Heidi Fleiss, we may as well write off the mid-term elections now," said one source.
"This could be the end," they said. "We hope Mr. Sheen is unable to tap his full potential, because it is enormous."
coming soon to tv
Senate Democrats have mapped a political battle plan for the March congressional recess that calls on lawmakers to stage press events with active duty military personnel, veterans and emergency responders to bash President Bush on virtually every one of his national security policies.
The game plan, devised by the office of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, is contained in a six-page memo distributed to Democratic senators on Thursday at a closed-door meeting at the Capitol and provided to The Washington Times by a congressional staffer.
Titled "Real Security," the political document calls for staged town hall events at military bases, weapons factories, National Guard units, fire stations and veterans posts.
"Ensure that you have the proper U.S. and state flags at the event, and consider finding someone to sing the national anthem and lead the group in the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the event," the battle plan states.
the iraqization of the conflict
U.S. military deaths during the past month have dropped to an average of about one a day, approaching the lowest level since the insurgency began two years ago, according to a USA TODAY analysis of U.S. military data.
The decline in U.S. deaths comes as Iraqi casualties are the highest since the U.S. military began tracking them in 2004.
In the past month, nearly five times as many Iraqi forces and civilians were killed as troops in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, U.S. military data show.
The shift from spring 2004, when U.S. and Iraqi casualty rates were comparable, reflects an insurgency that increasingly targets Iraqis and the growing presence of Iraqi forces on the front lines.
“The Iraqi army is far bigger in number, far higher in training capability and far more willing to go where the fight is and take casualties,” British Defense Secretary John Reid said in an interview.
wednesday march 22, 2006
war and peace: the numbers
Take a look at the actual US Military Casualty figures since 1980. If you do the math, you wil find quite a few surpises. First of all, let's compare numbers of US Military personnel that died during the first term of the last four presidents.
George W. Bush . . . . . 5187 (2001-2004)
Bill Clinton . . . . . . . . . 4302 (1993-1996)
George H.W. Bush . . . . 6223 (1989-1992)
Ronald Reagan . . . . . . 9163 (1981-1984)
To which a reader noted:
...He is absolutely right that soldiers die in accidents and of natural causes when they are in garrison. What he doesn’t take into account is that the military was much larger under Carter, Reagan and Bush I than it has been under Clinton or Bush II. Clinton and Bush II are really the only two comparable numbers.
Looking at those numbers, it appears that the Iraq, Afghanistan wars have resulted in an increase of 885 dead over what could have been expected through normal garrison operations in Bush II’s first term. That is not too bad when you consider that Bush has liberated two countries and fought a prolonged insurgency in both and that America lost over 1,000 dead in taking Vichy French North Africa in 1942 (that was before we even so much as fired a shot at the Germans).
a clash about civilization
WHILE PRESIDENT BUSH continues to field inane questions from the likes of Helen Thomas, and appear here and there about the land armed with standard soundbites, it falls, as it often does, to Britain's Tony Blair to articulate in a deeper and more meaningful way just what the stakes are in The First Terrorist War. Today 10 Downing released the transcript of Foreign Policy Speech I; the first of three speeches Blair will make on this issue in the near future: "In the second he will outline the importance of a broad global alliance to achieve our common goals and in the third he will say how the international institutions need radical reform to make them capable of implementing such an agenda."
This is an excerpt, but I commend the entire text to you as the definitive answer to "Why we fight:"
There is an interesting debate going on inside government today about how to counter extremism in British communities. Ministers have been advised never to use the term "Islamist extremist". It will give offence. It is true. It will. There are those - perfectly decent-minded people - who say the extremists who commit these acts of terrorism are not true Muslims. And, of course, they are right. They are no more proper Muslims than the Protestant bigot who murders a Catholic in Northern Ireland is a proper Christian. But, unfortunately, he is still a "Protestant" bigot. To say his religion is irrelevant is both completely to misunderstand his motive and to refuse to face up to the strain of extremism within his religion that has given rise to it....
This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation. It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace and see opportunity in the modern world and those who reject its existence; between optimism and hope on the one hand; and pessimism and fear on the other. And in the era of globalisation where nations depend on each other and where our security is held in common or not at all, the outcome of this clash between extremism and progress is utterly determinative of our future here in Britain. We can no more opt out of this struggle than we can opt out of the climate changing around us. Inaction, pushing the responsibility on to America, deluding ourselves that this terrorism is an isolated series of individual incidents rather than a global movement and would go away if only we were more sensitive to its pretensions; this too is a policy.� It is just that; it is a policy that is profoundly, fundamentally wrong.
who said this?
A hundred thousand or more of the Iraqi patients have died. Sectarianism and extremism, fundamentalism, is now rampant in Iraq. The entire Muslim world has been radicalized. There are flames spreading throughout the Muslim world. They are even reverberating outside the Muslim world, in Europe, including in the capital city of London, where I sit.
Now even amongst the crazed Zionist Crusader fundamentalists who got us into this war, Richard Perle is an extremist. In fact, most of the neo-con Zionists who talked Bush into this war have now begun to admit that this has been a terrible catastrophic mistake. Unfortunately, it is not their blood, which has been shed. It has been the blood of entirely innocent people, whose lives have been destroyed.
The nutjob running Iran? Leader of Hamas? Nope, British MP George Galloway.
"supply and demand of hate"
Applying economic theory...
While some try to surmount or cope with irrationality, others feed upon it. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Edward Glaeser began using behavioral economic approaches to research the causes of group hatred that could motivate murderous acts of that type. "An economist's definition of hatred," he says, "is the willingness to pay a price to inflict harm on others." In laboratory settings, social scientists have observed subjects playing the "ultimatum game," in which, say, with a total kitty of $10, Player A offers to split the cash with player B. If B accepts A's offer, they divide the money accordingly, but if B rejects A's offer, both players get nothing. "In thousands of trials around the world, with different stakes, people reject offers of 30 percent [$3 in our example] or less," says Glaeser. "So typically, people offer 40 or 50 percent. But a conventional economic model would say that B should accept a split of even one cent versus $9.99, since you are still better off with a penny than nothing." (If a computer, rather than a human, does the initial split, player B is much more likely to accept an unfair splitâ€”a confirmation of research conducted by professors at the Kennedy School of Government. . .)
Clearly, the B player is willing to suffer financial loss in order to take revenge on an A player who is acting unfairly. "You don't poke around in the dark recesses of human behavior and not find vengeance," Glaeser says. "It's pretty hard to find a case of murder and not find vengeance at the root of it."
The psychological literature, he found, defines hatred as an emotional response we have to threats to our survival or reproduction. "It's related to the belief that the object of hatred has been guilty of atrocities in the past and will be guilty of them in the future," he says. "Economists have nothing to tell psychologists about why individuals hate. But group-level hatred has its own logic that always involves stories about atrocities. These stories are frequently false. As [Nazi propagandist Joseph] Goebbels said, hatred requires repetition, not truth, to be effective.
"You have to investigate the supply of hatred," Glaeser continues. "Who has the incentive and the ability to induce group hatred? This pushes us toward the crux of the model: politicians or anyone else will supply hatred when hatred is a complement to their policies." Glaeser searched back issues of the Atlanta Constitution from 1875 to 1925, counting stories that contained the keywords "Negro + rape" or "Negro + murder." He found a time-series that closely matched that for lynchings described by historian C. Vann Woodward: rising from 1875 until 1890, reaching a plateau from 1890 until 1910, then declining after 1910.
tuesday march 21, 2006
s'pose they gave a civil war and nobody came?
After the Samarra shrine bombing, the Iraq narrative suddenly shifted from "insurgency" to "on the verge of civil war." A clear provocation -- the bombing -- caused outbreaks of violence, but no civil war. Walking to the brink and turning back is a positive sign, although you'd never know it from listening to the media.
Yesterday NPR lead its hourly newscasts with "President Bush insisted in a speech today that progress is being made in Iraq." Insisted. Of course, NPR knows better.
Politically what's interesting is how the narrative has changed. Nobody is talking about the Sunni insurgency succeeding any more. Even the press hardly makes the claim of an insurgency on the brink of success. As late as November 2005, the Daily Kos was boasting: "The occupation is exacerbating terrorism in the country. America is losing, the insurgency is winning. Maybe we should say, 'has won.'" But by the December 2005 elections this view could no longer be held by anyone with the slightest regard for the facts. Juan Cole said:
The guerrillas are really no more than mosquitoes to US forces. The casualties they have inflicted on the US military, of over 2000 dead and some 15,000 wounded, are deeply regrettable and no one should make light of them. But this level of insurgency could never defeat the US military in the field.
Cole forgets to remind the reader that mosquitoes did for the French in Algeria, the Russians in Afghanistan and even pushed the Israelis out of Lebanon. The enormity of the victory against the insurgency was never a given. In some respects the US achievement was historical. Whatever else happens, this should be remembered.
Cole also rejected assertions that Iraq was in Civil War.
[Myth:] Iraq is already in a civil war, so it does not matter if the US simply withdraws precipitately, since the situation is as bad as it can get. No, it isn't. During the course of the guerrilla war, the daily number of dead has fluctuated, between about 20 and about 60. But in a real civil war, it could easily be 10 times that. Some estimates of the number of Afghans killed during their long set of civil wars put the number at 2.5 million, along with 5 million displaced abroad and more millions displaced internally. Iraq is Malibu Beach compared to Afghanistan in its darkest hours. The US has a responsibility to get out of Iraq responsibly and to not allow it to fall into that kind of genocidal civil conflict.
Instead of insurgency the talking points have changed to how Sunnis might soon become victims of an ethnically hostile Iraqi army in a Civil War. Going from a boast of conquest to a portrayal of victim is usually an indicator of something. In my view, the shift of meme from the "insurgency" to a "civil war" is a backhanded way of admitting the military defeat of the insurgency without abandoning the characterization of Iraq is an American fiasco. It was Zarqawi and his cohorts themselves who changed the terms of reference from fighting US forces to sparking a 'civil war'. With any luck, they'll lose that campaign too.
the southpark scientology episode
The one that made Issac Hayes quit the show (it mocked his religion) and Comedy Central refused to rebroadcast. See it here.
photos of the circus
...that is San Francisco turning out for a political march. Hey, even exhibitionists can be amusing.
And you can watch this Malkin-Preston video of the Washington DC. march. My favorite sign was "Pay for college not war."
...the European Milosevic just dropped dead while under custody of the U.N. at the postmodern tribunal at The Hague. This follows the recent suicide of Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic, likewise an inmate in a European detention center.
Few in Europe said much about the deaths of such high-profile prisoners, whose barbarity differed from that of many of the killers in Guantanamo mostly in order of magnitude. If American Rambos can keep alive Muslim jihadists, with their radically different customs, religion, languages, and diets, why cannot the more sensitive Europeans ensure that fellow Europeans don't drop dead in their jails?
We often hear about how incompetent the Iraqis, under American tutelage, have been in trying Saddam Hussein. After all, his trial is only in its initial stages, two years after he was captured. But compared to the more illustrious court of The Hague, Saddam's trial is racing along at a rapid clip. Before his sudden death, Milosevic had been in court for four years without a verdict. In terms of utopian international jurisprudence, the reprobate Milosevic died a free man, at his last breath still innocent until proven guilty.
The more interesting task is not listing such hypocrisies, but explaining them. Some of the exegeses are now well known since September 11: Europe is weak and America far stronger, so the latter is held to a higher standard, as the former suffers from loud envy and public resentment.
The powerful don't care as much to dress up their omnipotence with utopian affectations; the weaker, in lieu of military strength, have only such pretensions. And note how America's forging of closer ties with Japan, Australia, and India somehow does not meet European requisites of "multilateralism" — a neologism for deference to Europe.
There is also a more disturbing element at play. Europe triangulates with the non-West against the United States, both to corral American influence and to seek economic advantage by offering a more sensitive Western commercial alternative. That means, in the case of the Middle East, a desire to reveal European empathy to the Islamic world. So there is a blanket condemnation of much of what the United States does, without any acknowledgement that detaining killers, trying former heads of state, and hunting down populist terrorists are not easy — even for the European Union.
When Westerners die in Afghanistan, it is back-page news; but in Iraq, the deaths make the front page. Why? Because the "bad" war in Iraq was supposedly "unilateral," while the "good" war to dethrone the Taliban is now a multilateral enterprise. Yet to the jihadists, there is little difference between the two: a German soldier in Kabul looks every bit the crusader that the American in the Sunni Triangle does. We in the West make the distinction between the wars; the radical Islamists don't.
monday march 20, 2006
"yes, iraq will be the model"
From Mohammed at Iraq the Model, his post in its entirety:
The third anniversary...sacrifice, fear and hope.
It has been three years since 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' began and for three years we debated whether the decision was right or wrong and until this moment we have different feelings and opinions about where this operation brought us and where its aftermaths are going to lead us.
This disputed operation no doubt had-and will continue to have-major effects on the future of the region and the rest of the world and it's not limited to the boundaries of Iraq; a fact that makes rational debate legitimate by all standards.
To me, each anniversary brings emotions, thoughts and expectations; some are personal and others are for the future of my country and people. Today I relive those historic moments and remember the way my mind accepted and welcomed those moments like all, or say most Iraqis did as we were praying to see Saddam overthrown without even bothering to think of the consequences or results…all we wanted was to see Saddam out of power, period.
Maybe people still remember how Iraqis first reacted to the change; they directed their rage against anything that reminded them of the regime they hated, burning and looting anything that represented Saddam and his regime. The rich and the poor both stormed those buildings because those angry crowds felt those buildings were Saddam's property and few of us realized at that time that that was wrong yet the emotions driving it were understandable.
The smoke faded away and we woke up to see all the chains gone and instead of the God-president and his iron grip over our destinies, we found ourselves without a guide, without any guidance but our long buried primitive nature, the long repressed nature of loving freedom and practicing it.
The change began then, at that moment where reason mixed with sentiments; were we free…or, were we lost?
Actually it was a lot of both and there was also a sense of great relief that the terrifying warnings from hundreds of thousands of deaths, famine and mass refugees were not true at that point, on the contrary the military operation itself was clean and successful by all standards and didn't cause any serious harm to the civilian population, the infrastructure, or the marching troops.
Saddam was gone and suddenly Iraqis and Americans found themselves face to face in a place that felt new to both of them. They knew almost nothing about each other as the prison Saddam built around us left the world with little knowledge about Iraqis except for the whispers of Iraqis who fled the horrors of the tyrant.
On the other hand, all that Iraqis knew about America was that it's the merciless enemy of Muslims and Arabs, the invader coming for oil, the all-time supporter of Israel against the Palestinians, the imposer of the sanctions and above all, the America that let us down in 1991.
Now the two strangers had to work together to accomplish a goal Iraqis knew almost nothing about; they knew that America wanted to topple Saddam and secure the oil fields but that's all they knew while America was thinking of a huge transformation for the entire Middle East with Iraq being the key to that transformation.
There was a wide gap between the two but we had no choice but to work together, because in a moment Iraqis didn't choose, America and a group of Iraqi ex-pat leaders were suddenly replacing a regime that controlled everything for too long.
Iraqis were confused and vulnerable and there were too many differences to cope with but we were there and there was nothing we could do about it and we had to prepare ourselves for many transitional stages that some Iraqis thought were improvised and arbitrary while others thought were planned long time ago.
The question keeps ringing…
Was it the right decision to remove Saddam?
I say yes, and that's what most Iraqis said and still say even if they became divided over what happened later…the truth is that virtually no one wants Saddam back.
I will just ignore the weepers, whiners, teenagers and half educated naïve people and their silly rallies as I don't want to waste time on people who can do nothing but blindly oppose everything without thinking. I will ignore them and focus on the more important goals we want to reach here…
Life stopped and time stopped when Saddam ruled Iraq, actually that totalitarian regime was moving backwards and dragging us with it and nothing could stop the deterioration that began the moment Saddam came to power.
We had to accept the change and live with all that would come along with it whether good or bad. The democracy we're practicing today in Iraq is the exact opposite of what we had for decades and until three years ago. This democracy carries the essence of life, the differences, the dynamics and yes, the failures but also the seed of a better future.
Before the liberation we were suffering and we had no hope, now we are also suffering but we have hope and I see this hope even in the words of those that are cynical about the outcome of the political process; who say they hope things will be better in four years or eight years… When Saddam was here we didn't have any hope and we could expect nothing good from a dead regime that cared only about its absolute existence.
Yes. We are facing enormous and dangerous challenges and this is not unexpected because the old will not easily step down and accept the loss; the old will fight back fiercely and the old here is not only Saddam and the Ba'ath, the old can be found among many of our current leaders and the mentality they carry that belong to the same generation that bred Saddam but I believe they will melt away as well because no one can go against the direction of time and the clock cannot be forced backwards.
The green bud looks weak and is buried in the dirt and surrounded by a tough shell but it will break through this covering, pierce the dirt and stand on its feet to announce a new era.
We will not be defeated and orphans of the dark past will get what they deserve and our sacrifices and the sacrifices of those who stand with us shall not go in vain, our sacrifices will pave an easier road for those want to follow us when they decide it's time for them to change.
And yes…Iraq will be the model.
Rumors are flying that a Cindy Sheehan movie is in the works with Susan Sarandon cast as the publicity seeking twit who fouled her son's memory for fun and profit. While the politics of Sarandon and Sheehan are a good fit, Susan is far too fetching.
We say, why not match both mugs and ideology by giving the role to Tom Hayden? The resemblance is uncanny except for the whiskers. Either Tom will have to start shaving or Cindy will have to stop.
Yes, that was mean, but she deserves it.
"god and man at yale"
...was the title of William F. Buckley's 1951 expose of how traditional American values were being ignored, undermined, and distorted by academics. Things have gotten much worse. Just read this on the Yalie Taliban:
But Rahmatullah is not just some student from the Midwest who stumbled onto campus, he is a former Minister for the Taliban.
And it gets weirder and weirder: Listen to the ideologically blinded view of this student- she has been taught, like many students these days, to utterly ignore evil, and excuse it at any cost. She will trot forth a multitude of platitudes to justify having someone who is a practiced liar and sworn enemy of the United States at her school.
But no doubt she would never countenance the presence of an American racist, or sexist, or homophobe. But somehow when a racist, sexist homophobic foreigner comes along, whose redeeming feature seems to be that he represents something that is implacably opposed to the United States - well then, he become instantly forgivable. He becomes a correctable, huggable, misguided youth. There is a lot of "our little brown brother" in her statements:
When I asked her if any of the revelations about Mr. Rahmatullah's past disturb her, she said that "while he has made some mistakes," she trusts that university officials had "investigated things" and satisfied themselves about him. She noted that Mr. Rahmatullah was "very, very young" when he had been a Taliban official, and said that "it's not like the Taliban attacked this country."
No, they only actively hosted and encouraged Al-Qaeda within their borders so that IT could attack the U.S. They publicly executed women for trivial matters. They imprisoned anyone who tried to practice a non-Muslim religion. They made Hindus wear yellow emblems to mark them publicly. They refused to let girls go to school. They blew up religious statues. They prevented the playing of music. Homosexuals were killed by making walls fall on them.
european media bias in black and white
A study shows German State Media Most America Critical in Europe. German blogger Ray D. writes:
...let us make one suggestion in the interest of balance: How about SPIEGEL or Sueddeutsche or Stern or any of the other cynical, self-righteous propaganda rags do just one front-page article on the children and relatives of the nearly 3,000 victims of September 11, 2001. Remember them? Yeah, the families of the people who slowly burned to death in a metal hell. The people who fell 100 stories and splattered their guts all over the New York pavement. The people held captive in airplanes until they were instantly immolated. Maybe the German people should read just one article about the plight of their families. (Let's not forget that some of the victims were German.)
And after they finish with that, SPIEGEL & Co. ought to write a few more articles on the hundreds-of-thousands of victims lying in Saddam's mass graves. They ought to write a few more about the hundreds-of-thousands imprisoned, tortured and murdered in North Korea and Iran. They ought to write a few more about the millions murdered, imprisoned and forced into exile in Cambodia and Vietnam by Communist thugs. They ought to write a few more about the German government's current business dealings in Sudan.
But hey, none of that matters. This is all about America and America is evil baby. Face it. That's what Germans are going to read about. It's on our agenda. We've known it since 1968. We'll keep on pushing back until the Nazi crimes don't hurt anymore: Indians-Slaves-Mai-Lai-Vietnam-Abu-Ghraib-Guantanamo. Until we get our moral authority back. That's right. Until we don't have to feel so "grateful" to the American "friends" for "liberating" us and "protecting" us anymore. Eben.
Yesterday the Los Angeles Times ran a frontpage story, A Sliding Scale for Victory:
As the conflict in Iraq enters its fourth year and civil war threatens, the Bush administration is again working to lower expectations.
WASHINGTON — Three years ago, as they ordered more than 150,000 U.S. troops to race toward Baghdad, Bush administration officials confidently predicted that Iraq would quickly evolve into a prosperous, oil-fueled democracy. When those goals proved optimistic, they lowered their sights, focusing on a military campaign to defeat Sunni-led insurgents and elections to jump-start a new political order.
As the conflict enters its fourth year today, the Bush administration faces a new challenge: the prospect of civil war. And, in response, officials again appear to be redefining success downward.
Fair enough. But the mainstream media has been defining failure lower for the past three years. Gateway Pundit thoughtfully collected some of the black predictions made before the war:
German politicians predicted: "Millions of people in Baghdad will be victims of bombs and rockets."
What happened: The antiwar Iraqi Body Count site lists an estimated 4,000-6,000 civilians and fighters were lost in the startup months of the War in Iraq.
Ted Kennedy predicted:"A war on Saddam might also cause an unprecedented humanitarian crisis with an estimated 900,000 refugees, a pandemic and an environmental disaster as Saddam lit the oilfields on fire."
Actual Result: The oil fields were not set ablaze, no pandemic.
The UN predicted... It is also likely that in the early stages there will be a large segment of the population requiring treatment for traumatic injuries, either directly conflict-induced or from the resulting devastation. Given the population outlined earlier, as many as 500,000 could require treatment to a greater or lesser degree as a result of direct or indirect injuries.
What happened: Again, the antiwar Iraqi Body Count site lists an estimated 4,000-6,000 civilians and fighters lost in the startup months of the War in Iraq.
Medact Global Health: "A more contained conflict could cause half a million deaths and have a devastating impact on the lives, health and environment of the combatants, Iraqi civilians, and people in neighbouring countries and beyond."
Actual Results: Antiwar Iraqi Body Count says that 35-37 thousand deaths including bank robbers.
There's much more to savor. Read it all.
sunday march 19, 2006
what we've gained
Though there are those who will never be convinced that the cause in Iraq is worth the costs, anyone looking realistically at the world today -- at the terrorist threat we face -- can come to only one conclusion: Now is the time for resolve, not retreat.
Consider that if we retreat now, there is every reason to believe Saddamists and terrorists will fill the vacuum -- and the free world might not have the will to face them again. Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis. It would be as great a disgrace as if we had asked the liberated nations of Eastern Europe to return to Soviet domination because it was too hard or too tough or we didn't have the patience to work with them as they built free countries.
What we need to understand is that the vast majority of the Iraqi people want the coalition to succeed. They want better futures for themselves and their families. They do not want the extremists to win. And they are risking their lives every day to secure their country.
what's in a name? a police state.
The joke goes in China that if you call out the name Wang Wei in the street at least one person is bound to answer. The personal name Wei, or "mighty", is so popular that parents have been turning to ancient and esoteric dictionaries to find more unusual names for their child.
No longer. The Ministry of Public Security has drawn up a new regulation on registration of names. In future, babies’ names must be drawn from a list that excludes tens of thousands of rare Chinese characters. With the introduction of electronic identity cards, the authorities will only register names that can be stored in their police database.
Today marks the third anniversary of the liberation of Iraq. The news media are, as usual, noting the number of American military who died in the cause. For perspective:
American Death Tolls Over Past Three Years
Falls off ladders............................48,727
Military killed in Iraq*...................... 2,314
* 1811 killed as a result of hostile action
** For those who regard abortion as a form of death
Of course, the key number for those personally involved in defending the nation is one. The one father, one husband, one wife, one brother, one dear friend. Nothing can minimize the pain suffered for the sacrifice made. All we can do is say thank you and honor the cause.
war vs. containment
Prior to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the United States, Britain and their allies pursued a policy of containment authorized by the United Nations Security Council. Major elements of the policy included economic sanctions on Iraq, disarmament requirements, weapons inspections, Northern and Southern no-fly zones within Iraq, and maritime interdiction to enforce trade restrictions. Continued containment was the leading option to war and forcible regime change. We analyze these two policy options, war and containment, with attention to three questions:
- In terms of military resources and expenditures for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction, is war more or less costly for the United States than a policy of continued containment?
- Compared to war and forcible regime change, would a continuation of the containment policy have saved Iraqi lives?
- Is war likely to bring about an improvement or deterioration in the economic well-being of Iraqis?
Read more "counterfactual" looks at the Iraq war.
That's Blogger the company owned by Google, for its outages this past week. Pretty funny.
saturday march 18, 2006
call a technical
Here's a prank that definitely rates as one of the more inventive (and cruel) student pranks of recent years. The set-up occurred a week before a NCAA game pitting UC Berkeley against the University of Southern California. USC's starting guard, Gabe Pruitt (pictured), met a UCLA coed named Victoria online. They traded messages via AOL Instant Messenger. She sent him her picture. He sent her his. They arranged to meet after the game on March 4.
The sinker occurred during the March 4th game. When Pruitt appeared on the court, UC fans started to chant "VIC-TOR-IA, VIC-TOR-IA." Their chants continued throughout the game, escalating to include the recitation of Pruitt's phone number.
Transcripts of Pruitt's IM chats with "Victoria" were also circulated throughout the crowd (including classic lines such as "You look like you have a very fit body... Now I want to c u so bad"). Pruitt was visibly shocked, missed a bunch of free throws, and ended up 3-for-13 from the field.
MINSK, Belarus -- The head of the Belarussian state security service warned on Thursday that any protesters who took to the streets during elections this Sunday could be charged with terrorism, and accused the opposition of plotting to seize power with foreign help.
"We will not allow the seizure of power under the guise of presidential elections," KGB chief Stepan Sukhorenko said at a news conference. "For those who take the risk of going out into the street and trying to destabilize the situation, their actions will be qualified as terrorism."
why irish eyes are smiling
Ireland, as much of the world knows it, was invented in 1991. That year, the Irish Pub Company formed with a mission to populate the world with authentic Irish bars. Whether you are in Kazakhstan or the Canary Islands, you can now hear the lilt of an Irish brogue over the sound of the Pogues as you wait for your Guinness to settle. A Gaelic road sign may hang above the wooden bar and a fiddle may be lying in a corner. As you gaze around, you might think of the Irish—O, that friendly, hard-drinking, sweater-wearing people!—and smile. Your smile has been carefully calculated.
In the last 15 years, Dublin-based IPCo and its competitors have fabricated and installed more than 1,800 watering holes in more than 50 countries. Guinness threw its weight (and that of its global parent Diageo) behind the movement, and an industry was built around the reproduction of "Irishness" on every continent—and even in Ireland itself. IPCo has built 40 ersatz pubs on the Emerald Isle, opening them beside the long-standing establishments on which they were based.
IPCo's designers claim to have "developed ways of re-creating Irish pubs which would be successful, culturally and commercially, anywhere in the world." To wit, they offer five basic styles: The "Country Cottage," with its timber beams and stone floors, is supposed to resemble a rural house that gradually became a commercial establishment. The "Gaelic" design features rough-hewn doors and murals based on Irish folklore.
You might, instead, choose the "Traditional Pub Shop," which includes a fake store (like an apothecary), or the "Brewery" style, which includes empty casks and other brewery detritus, or "Victorian Dublin," an upscale stained-glass joint. IPCo will assemble your chosen pub in Ireland. Then they'll bring the whole thing to your space and set it up. All you have to do is some basic prep, and voilà! Ireland arrives in Dubai. (IPCo has built several pubs and a mock village there.)
wombs will win
"One day millions of men will leave the southern hemisphere of this planet to burst into the northern one. But not as friends. Because they will burst in to conquer, and they will conquer by populating it with their children. Victory will come to us from the wombs of our women.”
So spoke Algerian President Boumedienne in 1974. Not in some secret gathering, but standing before the UN General Assembly. Oriana Fallaci quotes this in her latest, and no doubt, last book, "The Force of Reason".
There's much to digest in all this. The coming of "Eurabia" seems almost indisputable at this point. As Mark Steyn pointed out in It's The Demography Stupid, negative birthrates among native Europeans and high birthrates among Muslim immigrants will have consequences.
Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries.
There'll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands--probably--just as in Istanbul there's still a building called St. Sophia's Cathedral. But it's not a cathedral; it's merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate. The challenge for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West.
don't like it? you must be crazy
Chinese communists use the old dissident = insane gambit:
Dutch psychiatrists have determined that a prominent Chinese dissident who spent 13 years in a police-run psychiatric institution in Beijing did not have mental problems that would justify his incarceration, two human rights groups said Thursday.
The psychiatrists spent two days testing the dissident, Wang Wanxing, in Germany five months after China released him and sent him abroad. They said in a statement that their examination "did not reveal any form of mental disorder."
The report could add fuel to charges that the Chinese police use a network of psychiatric prisons to silence political dissidents, often without trial or right of appeal.
Mr. Wang, now 56, was confined to the psychiatric center after he was detained in 1992 for unfurling a banner that criticized the Communist Party.
got change a billion dollar bill?
Word to counterfeiters: Think big, but think smart.
imagine there's no suckers
...ponying up on pay-per-view to see the spirit of John Lennon summoned. It's easy if you try.
friday march 17, 2006
iraqi data dump
Coalition forces captured an estimated two million documents and tape recordings left behind by Saddam's government. For nearly three years, they've been largely ignored as the US government plods through them.
Now that has changed. Political pressure, and a directive from President Bush, has the government opening the documents to the world. If you speak Arabic, here they are.
Omar at Iraq the Model has already translated one.
Then there's this from Investors Business Daily:
Among the enduring myths of those who oppose the war is that Saddam, though murderous when it came to his own people, had no weapons of mass destruction and no terrorist designs outside his own country. Both claims now lie in tatters.
As we've reported several times, a number of former top military officials in Saddam's regime have come forward to admit that, yes, Saddam had WMD, hid them and shipped them out of the country so they couldn't be detected. And he had plans to make more.
Now come more revelations that leave little doubt about Saddam's terrorist intentions. Most intriguing from a document dump Wednesday night is a manual for Saddam's spy service, innocuously listed as CMPC-2003-006430. It makes for interesting reading.
Here, for instance, are the marching orders for Directorate 8, the Mukhabarat's "Technical Affairs" department: "The Eight Directorate is responsible for development of materials needed for covert offensive operations. It contains advanced laboratories for testing and production of weapons, poisons and explosives."
It goes on. Directorate 9, we discover, "is one of the most important directorates in the Mukhabarat. Most of its work is outside Iraq in coordination with other directorates, focusing on operations of sabotage and assassination."
The document also discusses the Mukhabarat's Office 16, set up to train "agents for clandestine operations abroad." The document helpfully adds that "special six-week courses in the use of of terror techniques are provided at a camp in Radwaniyhah."
Got that? Terror techniques.
weird choice of weapon
A story to make guys squirm.
passing the smell test
WHAT'S a girl to do when faced with the choice between a powerful action man who has great DNA but is likely to love her and leave her, and a carpet-and-slippers kind of bloke who will hang around and bring up the kids but may not be Mr Right in the genes department?
Well, ideally, she should fool the latter into bringing up the former's children. And a piece of evidence that this is exactly what happens emerged this week from a research group led by Jan Havlicek of Charles University, in Prague.
Dr Havlicek and his colleagues were interested in discovering whether women are attracted by the smell of dominant men. A preference for the scent of dominants has been found in the females of other species, and scent is known to be important in attraction between the human sexes in other contexts, such as avoiding inbreeding.
The attractiveness of body odour is also correlated with the attractiveness of the body it came from, even when presented separately from that body. But whether the odour of power—or, at least, of powerfulness—is attractive to women had not been established.
After baring their all in this manner, the volunteers had to wear cotton pads under their armpits for 24 hours to collect the sweat therefrom, and also had to lay off curries, beer, cigarettes and similar delights of student life that might affect the smell of their sweat.
Compared with this, the female volunteers had it easy. They had to smell the pads and rate them for “intensity”, “sexiness” and “masculinity”. Okay, perhaps not that easy. They also had to vouchsafe whether they were single or in an on-going relationship with a man, and to submit to a saliva test that would show the phase of their menstrual cycle.
The upshot of the trial was that women did, indeed, find the odour of dominants sexier than that of wimps—but only in special circumstances. These circumstances were first that the woman was already in a relationship and second that she was in the most fertile phase of her cycle. In other words, dominant males' scent was only more attractive at the point where a woman could both conceive and cuckold her mate. Which, given previous studies that show dominant men are indeed more likely than others to leave a woman holding the baby, makes perfect sense.
laugh on, l. ron hubbard
The battle between "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Scientology is escalating.
The dust-up gained steam last week when Isaac Hayes, a practicing Scientologist who has long been the voice of the character Chef, quit after objecting to a "South Park" episode called "Trapped in the Closet," which lampooned both the religion and Tom Cruise.
The skirmish continued this week, when Comedy CentralComedy Central abruptly pulled a repeat of that episode that was scheduled to air Wednesday evening.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone replied:
"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!"
That's People for the Ethical Treatment of Metaphors. Help such cruelty as this from Glenn Whipp's review of Thanks for Smoking:
Curiously, Reitman decides to flesh out the movie by beefing up the story's father-son relationship, adding a few quivers to what was already a wavering moral compass.
Can't we stop the horror?
private vs. public
Los Angeles plans to convert its traffic lights from incandescent to LED, thus saving $1.6 million annually in electricity costs. LEDs cost more but last ten times longer and thus require less maintenance. A private contractor can get the whole job done in two years for $22.3 million. The public utility will need five years. Guess who's getting the job?
Can you say "single payer?"
If we learned anything from 9/11 it's that doing nothing while tyrants and terrorists plot to kill Americans is not a viable policy.
But that was U.S. policy for more than 25 years. When Iranian revolutionaries seized our embassy yelling, “Death to America,” we said to ourselves: “They probably don't mean it.”
When, in 1983, the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah slaughtered hundreds of American troops in Lebanon, we said: “If we get out of their way, perhaps they'll settle down.”
After the first attack on the World Trade Center, in 1993, we did nothing to those who sent terrorists to our shores.
So before we decide that pre-emption has been a failure, let's acknowledge this: It is because the alternative failed that President Bush came to the conclusion that sometimes it is necessary to use force before attacks occur. It is not enough to attempt to punish our enemies after the blood has been cleaned from our streets.
Nor is deterrence a realistic policy. You can't deter someone who believes that murdering children will earn him a place in paradise.
It's easy to conclude we'd have been better off had we responded to Saddam Hussein's threats and defiance with continued inaction. But Iraq proves nothing. The battle isn't over. We may yet prevail. Or we may be defeated — as we were in Somalia and Vietnam and other conflicts whose outcomes strengthened our enemies' conviction that America lacks the will to resist.
It is disappointing that the CIA didn't accurately appraise Saddam's capabilities. But even Saddam's generals were shocked to find that no VX nerve gas would be available to them.
Read it all.
thursday march 16, 2006
...the media both here and in Europe go to extraordinary lengths to suppress just the sort of material that could incite ill-feeling that way. This began the morning of 9/11/01, with the non-coverage of street celebrations in Arab ethnic neighbourhoods of Brooklyn and Detroit. As recently as last month, mainstream media were editing out London cartoon protesters carrying signs reading, “Behead Those Who Insult Islam”, “Europe You Will Pay”, etc.
On the other hand, there is patient, exhaustive coverage of anything that might incite anti-Western hysteria in the Islamic world. For even while the largest media outlets were refusing to show those bland Danish cartoons -- and doing so out of a pretended “respect for Islam” -- they were dredging up additional sordid photos from the Abu Ghraib outrage in 2004, and running those prominently.
I have often noted, that editorial decisions in the Western media could not be more useful to fanatical Islam if we were taking instructions directly from some Afghan cave. Ask yourself, when reading or watching, if the consistent message is not: “Fear Islam, but do not dare to criticize it.”
There is no conspiracy, however. The violent audacity of a generation of Muslim neo-jihadis happens to correspond precisely with the self-loathing of a generation of Western post-hippies. Perhaps never before, in the history of interaction between the “Dar al-Islam” (Muslim-ruled world), and the “Dar al-Harb” (the external world with which it is perpetually “at war”), have aspiring Muslim conquerors met such willing candidates for “dhimmitude”.
The definition of a “dhimmi” is one who pays the “jizyah” tax to his Muslim rulers; who, in return for this protection money, enjoys an ambiguous special status. This is, as Islamist propaganda is eager to propagate, exactly what is going on when, for instance, governments of the West send foreign aid to Muslim regimes, in the (vain) belief that this will exempt them from the next round of terror hits, or rioting. More generally, the equation of Western aid and domestic welfare payments with the “jizyah” is common in Arab media. It expresses contempt for the West, and our “so-called freedoms”.
outside the mainstream
Former ACLU attorney, and now Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg traveled to South Africa to give a speech defending her practice of looking to international judicial opinion when deciding constitutional cases back home. (One wonders whether sharia is included her scope of opinion gathering.)
Mark Levin, author of Men In Black, takes Ginsburg to task and suggests she doesn't know history.
bush = hitler?
Here's all the proof you need.
briefs from iraq the model
Both Iran and Syria are looking forward to a deal that allows them to make some political gains in return for taking their hands off Iraq and both regimes like to say that America has to get out of the Iraqi swamp and that they are capable of getting her out of it.
But is Iraq really a swarm for America or is it a swamp for the Syrian and Iranian regimes?
I believe the latter possibility is truer; those two regimes had proven beyond doubts that they are against security and stability in Iraq and the Middle East and they had proven themselves as great supporters for terrorism maybe not realizing that by doing so they are making the world only more aware of the dangers imposed by these two regimes.
The new Iraqi parliament met for the first time a few hours ago marking the birth of the constitutional state in Iraq. An incomplete birth and a stumbling child but it is a step that hopefully will become a bridge over the current political and security mess.
The session was not more than a ceremonial one and it was limited to gathering and reading the oath and short speeches from the chairman of the former National Assembly and from the eldest member of the new parliament Adnan Pachachi who didn't set a deadline for the next session but said in a later statement to the press that the next session will commence after the major blocs reach an agreement on the key issues of dispute which are the structure of the three main councils (presidency, premiership and chairmanship of the parliament).
Almost all the statements given by various prominent politicians to the press after the session ended were optimistic and they all spoke about consensus on forming a government of national unity yet some of them admitted that there's a serious trust issue between the major blocs.
Jafari-and in an earlier time Talabani-expressed their confidence that forming the government will not take more than another month. Jafari also said something that can be regarded as a preparation for an honorable retreat when he said that "if the people asked me to step down, I shall do that".
out on a limb
From The Therapist:
Bird Flu Prognosticator Stuns World With Reputation-Risking 50/50 Outbreak Odds Prediction
Washington--In a world fraught with credibility landmines, many are loathe to venture out into the real-world arena of predictions.
Such is not the case with Bird Flu expert Robert G. Webster.
Webster stunned his colleagues this morning when he told ABC News that the chances of a human-to-human outbreak of the H5N1 virus "could go either way, depending."
"The rest of the world is clamoring for this kind of rhetorical leadership," said one unnamed bird flu expert. "He has definitely shown the moxie that I personally don't have."
Webster's contention that the bird flu "may or may not" kill "half the population" definitely makes him an outlier in a profession that maintains a consistent 80-20 prognosticatory range, almost 90% of the time.
Still, not all in his profession are impressed.
"This 50-50 book-make is a cheap ploy for headlines, and really--an unnecessarily large panic pill for the public to swallow," said one colleague of Webster's. "And God help us if he's dead on with his prediction, because we'll see a plethora of 50-50 predictions coming in from all over--and about everything."
LA talk radio show host Doug McIntyre, commenting on pork barrel spending, noted a $70 million Latino Cultural Center to be built in Los Angeles: "Why not just rim the city with salt and rename it Margaritaville?"
europeans: better watch what you say
Denmark's top prosecutor said Wednesday he will not press charges against the newspaper that first published the Prophet Muhammad drawings that triggered deadly protests by Muslims worldwide.
That charges were even possible is astonishing.
Liberals fawn over Europe, holding it up as an example of enlightened sophistication on everything from the death penalty to health coverage. But the Euros have no First Amendment and it shows.
In just the past few years we have seen:
- Brigit Bardot convicted of criminal charges for insulting Muslims in a book. She was fined $3,301. The French court ruled, "Madame Bardot presents Muslims as barbaric and cruel invaders, responsible for terrorist acts and eager to dominate the French to the extent of wanting to exterminate them." In light of the November riots in France, the insult is to the intelligence of anyone who can think clearly.
- Oriana Fallaci is facing criminal two years in prison in Italy for 18 statements deemed insulting to Muslims. Her trial is set for June. She plans to remain in New York.
You may remember that the January 30, 2005 international edition of Newsweek (the one with an American flag snapped in half and stuffed in a trash can on the cover) declared "Europe is the New Role Model for the World."
Let's hope not.
wednesday march 15, 2006
stifling of dissent
College editor canned for Danish cartoons. At the University of Illinois.
sexual politics and "big love"
We watched 13 minutes of HBO's "Big Love" and got bored. But there's more to the show than meets the eye, as Stanley Kurtz notes:
Will Scheffer, co-creator of Big Love, wrote Falling Man and Other Monologues, a play about gay life, as a direct response to the public battle over same-sex marriage. Commenting on Falling Man, Scheffer said, "The voice from the conservative right is getting louder and louder, so I think we have to state who we are in our lives, especially with the reversal of the marriage thing in California." Scheffer sees Falling Man as an entry into the gay marriage battle, and he and his co-creator, Mark Olsen clearly see Big Love the same way.
Speaking to The Washington Blade, Olsen said he and Scheffer wanted to address our culture war over the family by trying to "find the values of family that are worth celebrating separate of who the people are and how they're doing it." In other words, family structure shouldn't matter as long as people love each other. Scheffer adds that what attracted him to the Big Love project was "the subversive nature of how we deal with family values....I think what's really exciting about the show is the nonjudgmental look we have on our characters." Now maybe cultural radicals are mistaken when they claim that they can change society just by shaping the movies, plays, and television we watch. But clearly this kind of cultural transformation is exactly what Scheffer and Olsen have in mind.
Then there is this from Salt Lake Tribune:
Years ago, Ed Firmage fought "tooth and nail" to get the first African-American in a television ad. He was an intern for Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, one of several tasked with working on civil rights issues.
They had plenty of clout and leaned on one appliance company, which argued it would never sell another refrigerator. But he and his colleagues leaned harder and got the job done.
"Once you do that, the game is over," said Firmage, a professor of law emeritus at University of Utah law college. Which is why he believes that, with the launch tonight of HBO's new series "Big Love," the debate about polygamy is about to change forever.
Fine and dandy. But we think Mark Twain's observation about the backward nature of polygamy worth another quotation:
The law of God, as quite plainly expressed in woman's construction is this: There shall be no limit put upon your intercourse with the other sex sexually, at any time of life.
The law of God, as quite plainly expressed in man's construction is this: During your entire life you shall be under inflexible limits and restrictions, sexually.
During twenty-three days in every month (in absence of pregnancy) from the time a woman is seven years old till she dies of old age, she is ready for action, and competent. As competent as the candlestick is to receive the candle. Competent every day, competent every night. Also she wants that candle -- yearns for it, longs for it, hankers after it, as commanded by the law of God in her heart.
But man is only briefly competent; and only then in the moderate measure applicable to the word in his sex's case. He is competent from the age of sixteen or seventeen thence-forward for thirty-five years. After fifty his performance is of poor quality, the intervals between are wide, and its satisfactions of no great value to either party; whereas his great-grandmother is as good as new. There is nothing the matter with her plant. Her candlestick is as firm as ever, whereas his candle is increasingly softened and weakened by the weather of age, as the years go by, until at last it can no longer stand, and is mournfully laid to rest in the hope of a blessed resurrection which is never to come.
By the woman's make, her plant has to be out of service three days in the month, and during a part of her pregnancy. These are times of discomfort, often of suffering. For fair and just compensation she has the high privilege of unlimited adultery all the other days of her life.
In other words, it should be one wife, many husbands.
folly, consumption or investment?
From Asymetrical Information:
Dubai is booming. The city has been growing for years now, but I have never seen as many skyscrapers being constructed than in my trip there last month. There are entirely new sections of towns being built, blocks and blocks of apartments, office towers, hotels and houses.
What's most remarkable about much of this new investment is the show-offy outlandishness of it. After Palm I and Palm II (palm tree shaped artificial islands in the Arabian Gulf, with houses on them), Dubai is building "the world" -- an archipeligo of individual islands shaped in a map of the world.
The major draw is that you can buy, say, France, and have your address be "France, The World, Dubai, UAE". Dubai has also built the world's largest artificial ski slope, is building the world's tallest building, is constructing the world's first underwater hotel, which will kick into high gear just as soon as the world's largest submarine making factory pumps out the world's largest fleet of submarines to ferry guests to and from the hotel.
It's all a little mad.
The thing is, I cannot figure out if this spending is folly, consumption, or investment.
Read it all.
who you gonna believe? us or your lying eyes?
Squares A and B are the same color. See animation here.
HT: American Digest
opportunist strikes out but once
Presidential wannabe Sen. Russell Feingold thought it smart politics to call for President Bush's censure over wiretapping terrorist phone calls into the US.
Republicans called his bluff and moved for a vote. Not so fast, Feingold's fellow Democrats said. They know 1) the NSA program is important to national security 2) likely legal and 3) the American public backs the idea. Now Russell is miffed:
"Democrats run and hide" when the administration invokes the War on Terrorism, Feingold told reporters.
Then he confessed to naked political opportunism:
"I'm amazed at Democrats ... cowering with this president's numbers so low," Feingold said.
Translation: "Bush is down, let's kick him!" Presumably, if Bush's poll numbers were high, the NSA wiretap program would be perfectly legal in Feingold's view.
Message to Feingold vis-a-vis moving into the White House: Good night and good luck.
tuesday march 14, 2006
churchill in a straitjacket
new york gets a taste of civilization
Trader Joes, which started in Pasadena in the '60s, opens a store in Manhattan. For those of us in SoCal, TJs is as much a part of the lifestyle as the beach or Hollywood (more so, actually).
Frankly, I suspect this is just a Crunchy Con plot.
manute bol after the nba
You may remember Manute Bol, the spindly NBA player from Sudan. You probably don't know what happened to him after basketball.
One piece missing from the account is the effort of the Bush administration that ended the longest civil war in Africa. As the New Yorker noted:
...President Clinton’s approach was largely confrontational. In 1996, he withdrew the U.S. Ambassador, citing terrorist threats against American officials. (There is still no U.S. Ambassador in Khartoum.) The same year, the United States and Saudi Arabia pressured Sudan to expel bin Laden, who subsequently left for Afghanistan.
In 1998, after Al Qaeda’s attacks on the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Clinton ordered a Tomahawk-missile strike on the Al Shifa pharmaceutical factory, which was suspected of producing chemical weapons. (This suspicion remains unproved.) Meanwhile, the Administration made little progress in curtailing Sudan’s civil war. In 1999, Clinton announced the appointment of a special envoy to Sudan, but then never met with the person who filled the post.
President Bush was more attentive. He rejuvenated a multilateral peace process that had been hosted by Kenya since 1993. On September 6, 2001, he appointed John Danforth, an ordained Episcopal minister and a three-term senator from Missouri, his special envoy for peace in Sudan.
During the 2000 campaign, Bush frequently invoked the values of Midland, the Texas town where he and his wife, Laura, grew up, telling the New York Times, “People—if they want to understand me—need to understand Midland.” Midland is home to several churches with sister congregations in southern Sudan. In November, 2001, Midland hosted the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, an annual evangelical event.
Some forty Midland churches participated, and many of them passed out leaflets on Sudan and devoted part of their Sunday services to the civil war and the slave trade there. A half-dozen Sudanese refugees spent the weekend in Midland and shared their stories. “They took us out of our comfort zones,” Deborah Fikes, one of the event’s organizers, said. “We Christians in the U.S. have to use our resources not to build bigger churches, and not to be even more concerned with being pro-life, but to show how we value life by protecting the lives that are being lost every day because of war, disease, and starvation.” Midland’s churches raised money for Sudanese schools, and local religious and civic leaders petitioned the White House and wrote letters to the government in Khartoum. The Chief of Mission at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington deemed “the town of George Bush” important enough to respond personally to these letters.
Of course, as the Khartoum regime made peace with the Christian south, it sanctioned genocide in Darfur.
pernicious poverty pandering
From Ask Mom:
Ah, the bumper stickers of Seattle. "What if schools had all the money they needed, and the Pentagon had to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber?"
Set aside the provably false assumption that schools need more money. Ignore the fact that if the Pentagon asked for donations to, say, nuke Iran into a glass topped parking lot for mutant camels, 24 hours later they'd be buried in hundred dollar bills. What is the real message?
If we asked the under-groomed earth mother who was giving this waste of paper a ride on her dirty, dinged-up excuse for a car, she'd blather about priorities and appropriate spending on social issues. And thanks to John Edwards, yes unfortunately THAT John Edwards, we'll be hearing about it ad nauseum for the next two years.
Edwards apparently thinks of poverty as a sticky note he can affix to any issue to remind us to vote for him. Sadly, where poverty is an issue at all in America today, it's not an issue the way Edwards needs it to be. He and his bumper sticker bearing soul sister shop from the same wish list: government subsidized day care for the rare poverty baby who escaped government subsidized abortion, government subsidized after school programs for his older half-sister, government subsidized jobs programs for his 17 year old "father", government subsidized housing that no self-respecting Gitmo detainee would trade for.
Read it all.
thais on the march
germans judging america
In the repeated rush to judge the United States from the moral mountaintops of Europe, most German media have long forgotten Saddam Hussein's reign of terror. A morbid obsession with American crimes, real and perceived, has replaced most authentic concern for international human rights.
And the contrast couldn't be more extreme: While the German government busily promotes German industry at annual trade fairs in Khartoum, the German media quietly looks the other way as the Sudanese government continues its campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Darfur. On the other hand, when previously unseen photos of Abu Ghraib recently emerged, the German media had an absolute field day. SPIEGEL ONLINE came out with a particularly exploitative cover and finger-wagging editorials popped up like so many mushrooms.
It's much the same with Guantanamo Bay. The American prison has become a perverse national obsession in Germany while most Germans ignore the plight of hundreds-of-thousands imprisoned, abused, tortured, and murdered in North Korean, Russian and Iranian prisons. Where is the balance? Where is the sense of proportion?
Read the rest and see the cartoon equating Saddam and Bush.
homer simpson's dream
OSLO, Norway - It almost seemed like a miracle to Haldis Gundersen when she turned on her kitchen faucet this weekend and found the water had turned into beer.
Two flights down, employees and customers at the Big Tower Bar were horrified when water poured out of the beer taps.
By an improbable feat of clumsy plumbing, someone at the bar in Kristiandsund, western Norway, had accidentally hooked the beer hoses to the water pipes for Gundersen's apartment.
canadian pm visits afghanistan
Stephen Harper's out-of-the-blue visit to Afghanistan is the Conservative leader playing politics in his most brilliant stroke as prime minister since January's federal election win.
Suddenly, to the surprise of myself and all Canadians, Harper is in Afghanistan to witness the situation in the war-torn country first hand. For a minority government leader, this is really dramatic stuff. No fear here, as with Joe Clark, that by acting as a majority government, Harper will be defeated. On the contrary, Harper's visit to Afghanistan may just be the dramatic spark that will guarantee him a chance at a quick snap election and a majority government whenever he wants to call one.
monday march 13, 2006
torturing the news
From Best of the Web
Tom Fox, a member of the anti-American Christian Peacekeeper Teams, has been murdered by terrorists in Iraq who held him hostage for more than three months, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
On Sunday, the paper carried a follow-up report that Fox "had apparently been tortured by his captors before being shot multiple times in the head and dumped on a trash heap next to a railway line in western Baghdad."
The story of Fox's death ran on page A8; the story of his torture, on page A10. So what made the Times' front page on Saturday? Yet another story about Abu Ghraib.
create your own favorite website
A new tool offers to create websites on any subject, allowing web surfers to sit back, relax and watch a virtual space automatically fill up with relevant news stories, blog posts, maps and photos.
The website asks its users to come up with any subject they are interested in, such as a TV show, sports team or news topic, and to submit links to their five favourite news articles, blogs or photos on that subject. Working only from this data, the site then automatically creates a webpage on that topic, known as a Boxxet. The name derives from “box set”, which refers to a complete set CDs or DVDs from the same band or TV show.
The site’s algorithm starts by reading through the web pages submitted by the user. It calculates the frequency of unique words and which words these unique words are likely to be adjacent to. It also notes the number of images and which news organisation or blogger created those pages.
HT: Sam Bass
more on the yale taliban
John Fund exposes how dysfunctional Yale can be.
al qaeda issues "final warning" to u.s.
"I discern your wonder about this warning in which you do not quite recognize what to make of it. You are probably asking: Why would Al-Qaeda Organization announce its upcoming operations inside the mainland? Why the repeated warnings? Originally by the commander in Chief of Al-Qaeda (the victorious, by the grace of Allah), followed by the same warning through his trusted deputy, and now by Rakan Williams (Al-Qaeda’s under cover soldier in the west).
"Despite the fact that the New York, Washington, Madrid, and Londonexpeditions have been carried out a few years back. The search for clues on how they were conducted in such a successful manner is still going on and reports upon reports are still being written about them. However, the next expedition might not find someone who can provide analysis for. The top intellects, strategists, and analysts, will be totally clueless as to how to explain what occurred. Let me also inform you that we are talking about two operations, not one. The scale of one of them is larger than the other but both are large and significant. However, we will start with the smaller, and temporarily put the larger on hold to see how serious the Americans are about their lives. Should you value your own life and security, accept Muslims’ demands, but if you shall prefer death (over giving in to Muslims’ demands). Then, we, by the grace of Allah, are the best in bringing it (death) to your door steps.
guess the headline
The USA Today story begins:
At least 8,000 members of the all-volunteer U.S. military have deserted since the Iraq war began, Pentagon records show, although the overall desertion rate has plunged since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
So, what's the headline? "Desertions Drop" Nope, it's "8000 Desert During Iraq War." Also:
Opposition to the war prompts a small fraction of desertions, says Army spokeswoman Maj. Elizabeth Robbins. "People always desert, and most do it because they don't adapt well to the military," she says. The vast majority of desertions happen inside the USA, Robbins says. There is only one known case of desertion in Iraq.
So why mention the Iraq war in the headline? Never mind. Rhetorical question.
sunday march 12, 2006
The decline of western civilization? The London Telegraph published a story online about the submissive response of the British to intimidation by radical Muslims vis-a-vis the Mohammed cartoons. Then they yanked it "for legal reasons." But stories live on in cyberspace, so read what was (self) censored:
By Alasdair Palmer
For the past two weeks, Patrick Sookhdeo has been canvassing the opinions of Muslim clerics in Britain on the row over the cartoons featuring images of Mohammed that were first published in Denmark and then reprinted in several other European countries.
"They think they have won the debate," he says with a sigh. "They believe that the British Government has capitulated to them, because it feared the consequences if it did not.
"The cartoons, you see, have not been published in this country, and the Government has been very critical of those countries in which they were published. To many of the Islamic clerics, that's a clear victory.
"It's confirmation of what they believe to be a familiar pattern: if spokesmen for British Muslims threaten what they call 'adverse consequences' - violence to the rest of us - then the British Government will cave in. I think it is a very dangerous precedent."
Dr Sookhdeo adds that he believes that "in a decade, you will see parts of English cities which are controlled by Muslim clerics and which follow, not the common law, but aspects of Muslim sharia law.
"It is already starting to happen - and unless the Government changes the way it treats the so-called leaders of the Islamic community, it will continue."
Read it all.
...meanwhile, in canada
SASKATOON, March 6, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - For the second time in as many weeks, a Canadian university newspaper has published cartoons offending Christianity which make the cartoons from Denmark offending Islam pale in comparison.
The University of Saskatchewan student newspaper, The Sheaf, has published a cartoon depicting Jesus performing oral sex on a pig with the caption reading, "Go on, it's ok, it's kosher if you don't swallow". The decision to publish the outrageously offensive "Capitalist Piglet" cartoon comes after the same newspaper refused to print the cartoons mocking Mohammed out of respect for Islam.
mark steyn banned from britain
...well, not quite banned. But dropped from the two papers that ran him.
national guard recruiting going well
The Army National Guard, which has suffered a severe three-year recruiting slump, has begun to reel in soldiers in record numbers, aided in part by a new initiative that pays Guard members $2,000 for each person they enlist.
The Army Guard said Friday that it signed up more than 26,000 soldiers in the first five months of fiscal 2006, exceeding its target by 7 percent in its best performance in 13 years. At this pace, Guard leaders say they are confident they will reach their goal of boosting manpower from the current 336,000 to the congressionally authorized level of 350,000 by the end of the year.
"Will we make 350,000? The answer is: Absolutely," said Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau.
hollywood blind to truth
Julia Gorin in the LA Daily News:
...George Clooney said that if being at the forefront of racial equality, civil rights and AIDS awareness is being "out of touch," then he was "proud to be part of this academy, proud to be part of this community, proud to be out of touch." Others have echoed such praise for Hollywood's "activism" reflected heavily in this year's Oscars with what some commentators have called "socially conscious" or "progressive" works.
But how is treating Americans to yet another anti-McCarthy movie ("Good Night, and Good Luck") 50 years later and after countless other films, TV shows, documentaries and TV movies have been devoted to the subject "socially conscious"? George Clooney took no risks in beating Joseph McCarthy's dead horse.
More socially conscious would be a movie about the way dissenters during Hollywood's capital-C Communist era were bullied by the party when they strayed from "the code" of behavior that was acceptable. Elia Kazan fought back against this bullying, while John Steinbeck tore up his party card, and Ronald Reagan had to sleep with a gun. Most often, "socially conscious" means agenda-driven.
Because if Hollywood were actually socially conscious, we'd have gotten a film or two by now about the persecution of conservative students on college campuses. We'd also have gotten a film showing the desecration of Hillel offices on campuses and the physical intimidation visited upon students affiliated with this Jewish organization. Similarly, we'd have gotten at least one foreign film depicting the continued ethnic cleansing of European Jewry.
Instead, Hollywood "takes a stand" by vilifying another always-popular target, pharmaceutical companies ("The Constant Gardener") first for not providing drugs to Africa free of charge, and then for supposedly "experimenting" on Africans by supplying those free drugs. This isn't socially conscious; it's psychotic.
Read it all.
tom wolfe on "parentheses states"
This is Tom Wolfe's MO--sorting out and at once demolishing pretension, snobbery, vanity in all its guises. "There is such a thing as intellectual fashion--just as we get our clothing fashions--and often it does not mean anything more," he says. "One follows fashion in order to look proper, and it's the same thing with ideas." An example: "We know Sigmund Freud was a quack--the guy believed in dream interpretation, like every witch doctor in the history of the world. . . . How could Freud, a sophisticated man, go around interpreting dreams?"
Mr. Wolfe offers a personal incident as evidence of "what a fashion liberalism is." A reporter for the New York Times called him up to ask why George W. Bush was apparently a great fan of the "Charlotte Simmons" book. "I just assumed it was the dazzling quality of the writing," he says. In the course of the reporting, however, it came out that Mr. Wolfe had voted for the Bush ticket. "The reaction among the people I move among was really interesting. It was as if I had raised my hand and said, 'Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you, I'm a child molester.'" For the sheer hilarity, he took to wearing an American flag pin, "and it was as if I was holding up a cross to werewolves."
George Bush's appeal, for Mr. Wolfe, was owing to his "great decisiveness and willingness to fight." But as to "this business of my having done the unthinkable and voted for George Bush, I would say, now look, I voted for George Bush but so did 62,040,609 other Americans. Now what does that make them? Of course, they want to say--'Fools like you!' . . . But then they catch themselves, 'Wait a minute, I can't go around saying that the majority of the American people are fools, idiots, bumblers, hicks.' So they just kind of dodge that question. And so many of them are so caught up in this kind of metropolitan intellectual atmosphere that they simply don't go across the Hudson River. They literally do not set foot in the United States. We live in New York in one of the two parenthesis states. They're usually called blue states--they're not blue states, the states on the coast. They're parenthesis states--the entire country lies in between."
saturday march 11, 2006
pious the first
Jimmy Carter's latest book gets a thorough thrashing:
What Garry Wills once called Carter's "willed narrowness of mastery" is on full display in Our Endangered Values, which offers a complete inventory of current liberal clichés. But it is so weakly executed that, had the manuscript come across the transom from an assistant professor named John Smith instead of St. Jimmy of Plains, it could only have found print with a vanity publisher. Our Endangered Values makes Al Gore's Earth in the Balance read like the Critique of Pure Reason by comparison.
That Carter gets away with passing off his jejune axioms as serious political thought is a barometer of the senescence of liberalism. Liberal Intellectuals once looked askance at Carter. When Carter first arrived on the national scene in the mid-1970s, his superficial references to Reinhold Niebuhr, Karl Barth, and other thinkers set off alarm bells among LIs such as Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Schlesinger, who had been close to Niebuhr, could detect none of Niebuhr's hard-headed realism in Carter's use of Niebuhr's words, causing him to wonder "whether Mr. Carter can really have understood Niebuhr."
Schlesinger was not alone among LIs, who grasped immediately Carter's essential fraudulence and warned that he would be a disaster for the Democratic party. Yet now liberals look the other way as Carter fetes Michael Moore in the presidential box at the Democratic National Convention.
Carter's previously meager theological reflections shrivel to nothingness in Our Endangered Values. He equates fundamentalist Christianity in the United States with radical Islamist fundamentalism, as though Southern Baptists were about to sign up for flight school. He purports to respect diversity of theological views within different Christian denominations, but then attacks those conservative denominations that won't ordain women. He charges that "religious and political conservatives have melded their efforts, bridging the formerly respected separation of church and state," though he offers no specific examples or any extended analysis of the contentious constitutional aspects of this issue.
Carter's warnings against blending religion and politics represent a breathtaking hypocrisy and lack of shame from the person who paraded his "born-again" faith as a cornerstone of his presidential campaign in 1976. But this should not surprise us from the person who embraced George Wallace on his path to the Georgia governorship, but later accused Ronald Reagan of race-baiting.
Carter's confusion over foreign affairs matches his confusion over religion and politics. He doesn't like missile defense. He doesn't like John Bolton. He doesn't like the Patriot Act. He doesn't like "neocons." He admits that he doesn't quite understand what neoconservatism is, though he somehow knows it is allied with religious fundamentalism. He thinks we should have "increased development assistance with fewer strings."
He thinks Pope John Paul II drove people out of the Catholic Church because the pope's anticommunism prevented him from embracing liberation theology in Latin America. (This passage makes one appreciate more fully the patience and forbearance of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who, Carter relates, attempted to explain to Carter the reasons for the Polish pope's "inordinate fear" of communism.) The North Korean impasse is wholly the fault of the Bush administration's ideological intransigence and lack of flexibility. And those meanies in the Bush White House recently prevented him from cuddling with Syria's Bashar Assad.
but who's counting?
eye-popping sidewalk art
A must see. HT Michelle Malkin.
Merry mullahs: everybody must get stoned
Read all about how Iran cuts down on cheating wives. Dear Barbra Streisand, this what a "reign of witches" really looks like.
WOMEN IN IRAQ
This year the Ministry of Woman Affairs had a celebration in one of the Iraqi social clubs on the occasion of woman day in Iraq but sorry I wasn’t there nor was my brother, my brother was in a press conference held by the Organization of Woman Freedom in Iraq where they showed some drawings condemning the terrorism and the woman abuse in jail in the name of the law and I thought you would like to see some of those pictures.
gov. corzine the munificent
...bails out a stalker. As they say, New Jersey is the Louisiana of the northeast. Or is that vice-versa?
how the story changed
When the story was just about Iraq, the MSM could set the following template: the Bush administration is responsible for the deaths of many innocent Iraqi citizens because of its incompetent planning and execution of the war. Moreover, US soldiers are known to have been involved in abuse and torture, and in any event, the terrorists were not in Iraq until the lying Bush and his WMD talk bungled America into the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s all Bush’s fault. Hmmmm, the MSM perhaps sound like the leading figures of one of our two great political parties, do they not? Those themes ran through 2003, the MSM and Democrat campaign of 2004, and right up to Jack Murtha in 2005. Almost every newscast, a new bombing, a new body count, and the subtext that it was all Bush’s fault. Then something changed. The MSM lost control of the template.
The template fell apart in stages. First there was the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, a man who made clear his intentions to wipe Israel off the map and to make Jihad a global goal, well beyond anything having to do with Iraq. Next came the election of Hamas in Palestine, a crystalline moment when political power shifted to the leading group manufacturing suicide bombers, and whose charter and raison d’etre was the destruction of the Jewish state — again, nothing to do with Iraq.
The final straw came with the cartoon riots. The cartoon riots not only destroyed the old media template (”Iraq is Vietnam”), but it created a new one (”Muslims are totally out of control”). Previously, the MSM had no problem whatsoever showing car bombings and suicide attacks in Iraq — such violence was the mainstay of Iraqi coverage. Despite the MSM’s senstivitiy to Islamic issues in their precious refusal to show the cartoons, they could hardly refuse to show the riots in Damascus and Beirut and in Pakistan and Indonesia and elsewhere, and the torching of embassies — these things were not only news, they were well within the scope of previous reporting. Only now the context was entirely different.
Suddenly it wasn’t about Iraq anymore. On TV Arabs and Muslims all over the world were shouting and burning things and threatening to “annihilate” this and “behead” that. Suddenly they looked crazy and primitive, mad with bloodlust about some friggin’ cartoons, for gosh sakes.
Suddenly the message the MSM was sending out was not longer the controlled template that Bush is Bad, but one that fairly shouted: Muslims are nuts, everywhere you look, around the world. The MSM gave the camera and microphone to the shouting, seething Islamists, and many Americans thought: this has got to be the most unattractive religion and group of people on the face of the planet.
friday march 10, 2006
...there was Microsoft's Bob. Oh, the horror!
HT: Tom Bunzel
didn't they invent belly dancing?
Cindy "Look at Me" Sheehan got herself arrested yesterday. Al Jazeera came to her defense. But look at how they blurred her belly. If we can just figure out a way to blur her entirety.
he speaka english, make big stir
A Denver landscaper is in trouble with the PC police because he advertises that he speaks English.
our so-called alienated allies
Things abroad simply are not worse after March 2003. Europe is again growing closer to the United States, in part due to its fright after the French rioting, the Danish cartoons, and murders in the Netherlands. Its multilateral alternative to the United States is in retreat, as we see from the humiliating negotiations with Iran, Hamas, and the Russians.
India and Pakistan are closer to us now than before Iraq. China is China; Japan is a military ally as never before. England and Australia are strategic partners; Canada and New Zealand are similarly beginning to follow a wiser course. The world is catching on to Iran, and the theocracy must subvert the new Iraqi democracy or itself be undermined by the nearby democratic experiment.
There is, of course, heightened anti-Americanism in places, but it is largely confined to specific areas. The Middle East Street resents deeply the humiliation of seeing Muslim leaders so easily dethroned. The European cafés abhor the spread of American popular culture and muscle, and are starting to recoil in shock that the world did not turn out to follow the rules of the Hague or the EU charter.
And then there is the trans-Atlantic elite, who, after calling for three decades for a more principled American policy, finally got it in spades — but splattered with all the gore and mess that such radical changes always entail.
Read the whole column.
Mark Steyn on Hugh Hewitt's radio show:
...you saw in this bizarre thing at the University of North Carolina, where an American...an Iranian Muslim goes to rent a big Jeep Cherokee for the purpose of crashing it into as many bodies as possible, at the university he was studying at just a couple of months ago.
And the unwillingness to address the fact that he was motivated by his Muslim identity to do that, the fact that we cannot even address that honestly, five years after the war, is, I think, a problem. We have to be able to say look, there are millions of law-abiding, peaceful Muslims around the world, but nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that Islam is the main challenge to Western civilization at this hour.
...the New York Times, in the report on that fellow in North Carolina, didn't even use the word Muslim. They didn't even use the word Muslim when they were talking about the insurgents in the Russia caucuses...so when they took over some town a couple of months ago. The fact of the matter is that if you can't even identify the enemy, you have a real problem dealing with it.
We're facing the strongest ideological challenge, much stronger than communism, much stronger than facism, because in the end, they were just miserable, and they didn't have this kind of mystical, spiritual dimension, which is the great reinforcer. And if we can't stand up for what's right about our own civilization, we're certainly not going to be able to resist this very strong powerful force coming straight at us.
studying american education
From Jim Miller:
Those who compared American high school students with European high school students found that our students weren't learning as much. Defenders of American schools replied that the Europeans only educated a minority of students, while we educated many more, and so one should expect lower levels of achievement here.
That excuse was destroyed when researchers began to do comparative studies of Japanese schools. Like American schools, they tried to educate everyone, but their students learned as much or more than the European students.
Some of the researchers who made those comparisons have tried very hard to transmit their findings to the public, without, as far as I can tell, much success. One of the betterOne of the better efforts at explaining what we might learn from the Japanese (and East Asians generally) is Stevenson and Stigler's The Learning Gap. The authors tried hard to make their findings accessible to every educated adult, and I think that they succeeded, though I may not be the best judge of such things. Their research compared American schools to Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese schools; in discussing their findings, I'll just say Asian to avoid awkwardness. (I believe that many of their findings would also be true for Korean students, though their research did not include Korea.)
Here are some of their more striking findings:
* Asian countries have plain schools with fewer facilities and many fewer staff members than American schools. Many of the Asian schools, just a decade ago, looked much like our schools of a half century ago, plain and functional.
* Asian classes are considerably larger than American classes.
* Asian teachers are, relatively, better paid than American teachers and have considerably higher academic achievement.
* Asian teachers have more in-school time for preparation and often do it in a room set aside for all the teachers. They have many opportunities, both formal and informal, to share ideas for presenting material.
* Asian schools used simpler and plainer textbooks than American schools.
* Asian teachers used better teaching methods for arithmetic than American teachers. For example, they generally began teaching a concept with a concrete example and then worked from that to the abstract, rather than the other way around.
* Asian schools accept failure as a normal part of the learning process. Stigler and Stevenson tell of a Japanese boy who could not draw a three-dimensional cube. So the teacher asked him to try to draw it on the blackboard and then asked the class if his drawing was correct. They said no, and the boy went on trying, taking most of the class period with his effort. He was not disturbed by his struggle, accepting his errors as a natural part of learning, and nothing to be ashamed of. And when he finally got the drawing right, the class applauded.
* By fifth grade, the American students made less progress in reading than the Asian students, though language differences make measuring this more difficult than measuring than measuring differences in arithmetic. The American students were "overrepresented among both the best and the worst readers", though the researchers were not sure why. (p. 46)
* American students began school knowing about as much arithmetic as the Chinese students, but less than Japanese students. By fifth grade, they were far behind both.
call off the jihad, we bought a prius!
Former diplomat Ann Wright told an audience at San Diego State:
Why is Bin Laden and al Qaeda [sic] intent on doing harm to the people of America? Is there a reason why they are after us? And, if there are some reasons... should we consider, perhaps, evaluating whether or not they may have a point on a few things?
For example, one of the earlier things... I mean, if you go through the various tracts that he's given, there are quite a few items that he has a bone to pick with the United States. And quite honestly, I think, having been a diplomat for sixteen years, a lot of people of the world, not just Bin Laden and al Qaeda, have the same bones to pick with America. And a lot of them have to do with leaving, first, U.S. military... on the holy soil of Saudi Arabia -- that was a particular one for them, for al Qaeda and Bin Laden.
The Saudi government invited us onto said soil because they were scared shitless of Saddam after he invaded Kuwait and massed his tanks on their border. Osama gamely offered to rebuff Saddam's army with his mujahadeen. The Saudis chuckled, then took option A and hurt Osama's feelings.
We remained in SA to maintain the no fly zones. Once we toppled Saddam, we left.
But the inordinate use of resources by the United States, our total dependency on oil, and our inability to decide that perhaps our lifestyles are a little bit over the top, and that maybe there is a way that we can have a very comfortable life, but not use up 25 percent of the world's resources for four percent of the population.
Ah, the self hatred of the left. Americans hog all the fun.
And there are some things that we as Americans can do, that very quickly will show Bin Laden, al Qaeda, the rest of the world, that we aren't... We really do have to evaluate what we do in the world, and to the rest of the world, we are... we aren't good stewards of the Earth. That we are sucking up stuff. We're contributing inordinately to global warming, which means that many of the island populations of the world will disappear, as well as most of the coasts of the United States.
Good stewards? She means sign Kyoto, a treaty that excuses India and China, an economic suicide pact.
We have a lot to do. And hopefully, we can get an administration that will force us to do a few of these things, so that to those people who want to take violent actions against us for some of these things, that perhaps they will see, as the rest of the world will see very quickly and appreciate, the fact that we can change our ways. It's not that we're all bad. But, we've got a little bit of changing to do, I think, ourselves.
It's frightening to think that a woman who spent 19 years in the military and 16 more at State, who has seen so much of the world, can understand it so little. Islamic jihad is about restoring the Caliphate, about installing Sharia as global law. Not about husbanding resources for sustainable blah blah blah.
If Osama gets his way, Ann Wright will be wrapped in a burka, not giving speeches.
It's even more frightening that State has plenty of Ann Wrights still working there, subtley monkeywrenching the Bush administration whenever possible.
"three minutes hate"
IN GEORGE ORWELL'S classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the author describes a daily ritual called the "Two Minutes Hate," wherein citizens of the totalitarian state of Oceania practice unleashing their wrath on enemies of the state.
On Friday, at an event hosted by the UC San Diego College Democrats, I got an idea of what such a ritual might look like -- in reverse -- in the real world. The actual meeting ran for about two hours, but I've captured the essence of the event in an audio montage that runs just under three minutes. In a nod to Orwell, I'm calling it the "Three Minutes Hate."
Have a listen if you have the stomach.
thursday march 9, 2006
more grist for the mill
Is the "hockey stick" graph of global warming a statistical goof? American Thinker offers this:
The scientific argument that humans have caused global warming – a major underpinning of the “Kyoto Protocols” – suffered a major blow last week, with the publication of a new study. The implications have not yet spread very far beyond the rarified circles of specialists, but the gospel of “anthropogenic” – human-caused – global warming has lost one of its intellectual foundations.
At the root of the argument for Kyoto are a series of reconstructions that claim to model what earth’s temperature probably was before human activity caused the burning of massive quantities of fossil fuels. But these reconstructions of “paleoclimate” by Mann, Bradley and Hughes [MBH98], and various confirmatory studies, such as Briffa et al [Briffa01]. all depend on “proxies” – various observable things believed to correlate with temperature, like the width of tree rings. These proxies are needed because our ancestors foolishly didn’t invent the thermometer until around 1600, and didn’t start keeping good temperature records until much later.
It's over my head. All I know is that science is not now, and never has been, immune to politics.
logic tortured again
From Al Jazeera:
To Muslims, the caricatures vividly brought back the scenes of Israeli bulldozers demolishing Palestinian homes in Jenin, the invasion of Afghanistan, the fall of Baghdad, terrors of Abu Ghraib and humiliations of Guantanamo Bay.
Which invasion of Afghanistan, the one by the Soviets? The one the US helped put down by supplying arms to the mujahadeen? Or the takeover by the Taliban, which murdered fellow Muslims for not hewing to their perverse take on Islam?
Abu Ghraib? Surely the writer means Saddam having people's fingers cut off, eyes poked out, acid poured over their skin and children tortured before their parents. Right?
Cultural arrogance was added to political aggressiveness. Muslims have grown used to the torrent of terrifying images that associate them and their faith with the most horrifying of practices, from violence and cruelty to fanaticism and oppression. When it comes to Islam, all boundaries and limits could be dispensed with. The unacceptable becomes perfectly acceptable, proper and respectable.
Well my goodness. If your fellow believers fly airplanes into skyscrapers, blow up weddings, bomb subways, hack off hostage's heads and then post streaming video on the 'Net, what do you expect?
white house weenies
Presidents Carter and Logan: cut from same cloth
Fans of Fox's show "24" know what a comically weak President they have written for this season. The show is a guilty pleasure where you both scoff at the improbable plot twists while getting a kick out them playing out.
But President Logan occupies a universe of incompetence all his own. Or so I thought. Then I remembered a real life president, a one-time leader of the free world who sat back helplessly as an American embassy was overrun by terrorists.
Instead of being a man and dealing with the Iranian punks when they were weak, he vacillated and talked nice. Now these many years later, Iran is still run by the Muslim mullahs (against the will of its people), arming itself with nukes and spreading mischief over the globe.
Truth is stranger than fiction. Unfortunately.
Rob Reiner fancies himself a do-gooder with a focus on early childhood development. He sponsored a First Five initiative that funds programs aimed at improving kids' first five years of life.
It's paid for by smokers, at least those who haven't figured out how to buy their cigarettes and cigars tax free via the Internet. (Talk about taxing the poor!)
Now Reiner is pushing another state ballot proposition, this time mandating pre-school for all children in California. But it looks like he's spending First Five money to promote his new cause. Now First Five is being audited.
wednesday march 8, 2006
The UN may assume the peacekeeping mission in Darfur, an area about the size of Texas, that has been "protected" by an 7000-man African Union force. The Sudanese regime has countenanced genocide against black Muslims in the region, and is ticked off:
Thousands of people have marched through the Sudan capital, Khartoum, to protest against UN plans to take over peacekeeping operations in Darfur.
The marchers, including militias backed by the government, chanted slogans and held banners saying such things as "UN Troops bring your coffins with you".
The envoy, Mohamed Elsamani, said Western troops in any prospective UN force were particularly unacceptable to Sudan referring to the behaviour of US soldiers in Iraq.
"Regarding the bad conduct or treatment of some, whatever linked with the UN or individual countries like America, how it is treating people in Guantanamo, how the allies are treating people in Iraq, in Abu Ghraib prison, or killing civilians - it is not a process which will be accepted in Sudan," he said.
That is rich. Sudan's janjaweed militias fire machine guns at villagers from helicopters and burn their villages. They rape their women if they venture from the refugee camps to gather firewoood.
Estimates are 350,000 murdered. Two million have fled their homes. Many have starved to death.
The ironies get thicker as National Review points out:
Kofi Annan has asked President Bush for a little favor. That favor concerns Darfur, where a 7,000-man African Union force has failed to stop genocide. Annan wants a larger U.N. force in Darfur, and thinks that, unless the U.S. plays a central role in that force, it cannot be effective.
In this, he is surely right. And he surely underscores the hypocrisy of America’s one-world detractors, who damn our pernicious influence even as, behind closed doors, they beg us to expand that influence. But it is the nature of a great and moral power to accept ingratitude as payment, and to recognize that, while it cannot ransom the world from evil, it can try to stop the worst atrocities.
Bush backs the U.N. plan, and advocates a larger NATO role in the interim. Whether U.S. combat troops will eventually be involved, or America will simply take on an expanded supporting role, is unclear. In any case, we can expect Annan to get back to a busy schedule denouncing the illegal Iraq war and demanding that the U.S. close its concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay.
85-year old lady vs. mt. everest
Funny site about Mary Woodbridge's plan to scale Mt. Everest with her dachshund -- no Sherpas necessary, thank you. With video.
mit dome gets an olympic medal
...or is that supposed to be a bagel?
"No doubt the President’s lawyers and spin doctors would say I wishfully imagined that long, appreciative look, just as all those other women have fantasized their more explicitly sexual encounters with Clinton. But we all know when we’re being ogled. The weird thing was that I didn’t mind. There was a time when the hormones of indignant feminism raged in my veins. An open gaze like that, at least from a man of lesser stature, would have annoyed me.
But that evening, I had the opposite reaction. I felt incandescent. It was riveting to know that the President had appreciated my legs, scarred as they were. If he had asked me to continue the game of hearts back in his room at the Jasper Holiday Inn, I would have been happy to go there and see what happened. At the time, that seemed quite possible. It took several hours and a few drinks in the steaming and now somehow romantic Arkansas night to shake the intoxicated state in which I had been quite willing to let myself be ravished by the President, should he have but asked. I probably wore the mesmerized look I have seen again and again in women after they have met him. The same silly hypnotized gleam was displayed on the cover of Time magazine in Monica Lewinsky’s eyes....
"And yet there I was, walking away from a close encounter with the President of the United States, stupefied and vaguely hoping that he’d send an aide over to my hotel room to ask me up for a drink. What is it in some of us, that powerful men make us pliant and willing with a mere glance?...
Excerpt from a pulp romance? Nope. The hormonal scribbling of Nina Burleigh reporting for Time (at the time). Here's the capper:
‘I’d be happy to give him [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal,’ she said.
For her latest, read the Huffington Post where she dismisses South Dakota:
What is it about South Dakota that makes men want so badly to breed? Is the loneliness of the prairie and the vast dirt emptiness of the Black Hills so profoundly affecting that only the idea of more brand-new babies can relieve it?
Last night's edition of the quiz show Jeopardy featured, as usual, contestants informed in a wide variety of subjects from science to geography to history and more. Which made this all the more stunning.
Not a single contestant could identify Pat Tillman, the professional football player who walked away from millions to join the Army. Tillman was killed in Afghanistan, doing his patriotic duty.
Pat Tillman's story is neither old nor obscure. The least one could expect for making the ultimate sacrifice, for puttin oneself in true jeopardy, is to be remembered for it.
...has some new stuff up including updates on the Legion of Dumb and Hoosegow Honeys, the best pickings from Des Moines jail.
musing about minimum wage
Republicans are chided as meanies for not favoring raising the minimum wage. But there are good arguments that such laws hurt those the poor. This is how I argue with libs:
ME: Let's raise the minimum wage to $25/hour.
LIB: No, no, that's absurd. That's too much. A hamburger would cost $16!
ME: How about $17.50? Or maybe $13.75? What's the right number?
LIB: We need to study that.
ME: Or let the free market determine the value of the labor.
A more precise discussion, with studies etc. is at Asymmetrical Information:
So let's assume, arguendo, that we don't really care about the property rights of our nation's small businessmen, and all we're really interested in is helping poor people By Any Means Necessary--provided the relationship of costs to benefits isn't entirely outlandish. Then we're in good shape to ask: should we raise the minimum wage?
I won't go into the putative benefits, since they're pretty obvious: poor people get more money. No, what we have to look at is the costs; and specifically, costs to poor people, since we've already agreed that that's pretty much all we care about.
Standard economic theory tells us that if you artificially raise the price of something, suppliers want to sell more of it, while buyers want to purchase less. In the labour market, this means that more people want to work, but employers don't want to hire so many of them, so you end up with too many people chasing too few jobs.
Read it all and join the discussion.
tuesday march 7, 2006
take me along
"The slogan “Yankee go home” can be heard everywhere, but what you don’t hear is the hidden wish Yankee go home and take me with you."
From GatewayPundit on how 25 words from Bush has rocked Nepal.
colorado's low bar
(Scroll down one item if you're unfamiliar with the Jay Bennish story.) Here's a gem from the leftwing teacher's lawyer:
Attorney David Lane contended on the Mike Rosen radio show, which originally played the tape, that his client's comments were not outlandish and were intended to get students to think about current events.
"Maybe it's not mainstream, middle-American opinion," Lane said Friday. "But the rest of the world agrees with him."
Such a stupid argument coming from an attorney suggests the bar in Colorado is set quite low.
Much of the world believes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are historical. Much of the world believes the US faked the moon landing using Hollywood special effects. Much of the world believes the US orchestrated the attacks on 9/11. Much of the world is turning out to see a movie that shows American doctors harvesting organs from Iraqi prisoners to sell to Israel.
And, in fact, much of the world does not agree with Jay Bennish. Furthermore, the issue is not free speech. Bennish is a geography teacher who was abusing his position.
Suppose a pro-choice teacher decided to devote geography time to an anti-abortion rant? Would lawyer Lane go on the radio and say "most of Mexico agrees with him"?
scooping the scoopers
The Associated Press reached a new level of incompetence, and the "news" industry they serve doesn’t seem to care. If you want political opinion, you’ll find it in Associated Press dispatches. If you want news, you might have to read conservative opinion columns.
On February 22nd, Walter Williams, a Townhall.com columnist, scooped the mainstream media. Williams reported that high school teacher Jay Bennish lectured his geography class stating:
1) "[President Bush’s State of the Union Speech] sounds a lot like the things Adolf Hitler used to say."
2) "Bush is threatening the whole planet."
3) "[The] U.S. wants to keep the world divided."
4) "Who is probably the single most violent nation on earth? The United States of America."
5) "[The U.S. has engaged in] 7,000 terrorist attacks against Cuba."
6) "Capitalism is at odds with humanity, at odds with caring and compassion and at odds with human rights."
Not included in Williams’ column is the fact that Bennish also said:
7) "Don’t the Peruvians and the Iranians and the Chinese have the right to invade America and drop chemical weapons over North Carolina to destroy the tobacco plants…?"
8) "Do you see the dangerous precedent that we have set by illegally invading another country and violating their sovereignty in the name of protecting us against a potential future attack?"
9) "You have to understand something. When Al-Qaeda attacked America on September 11th, in their view, they’re not attacking innocent people. Okay? The CIA has an office in the World Trade Center. The Pentagon is a military target. The White House was a military target. Congress is a military target….So, in the minds of Al-Qaeda, they are not attacking innocent people, they are attacking legitimate targets."
Those nine direct quotations (and there are more) came from a high school geography teacher to his class in one 20-minute period. On March 2nd, eight days after Williams’ column, The Denver Post covered the story. The Post story carried quotes 6, 1 and 4 listed above. It also linked to a tape of Bennish’s lecture recorded by one of his students.
The LA Times finally got to the story today, "Issues of Free Speech Arise After Teacher Criticizes Bush."
From a variation on the Nigerian spam scam:
It is with great delight that I write you.
On January 31st in the year 2000, tragedy struck and if you can recollect fully, the tragic incident was the fatal air mishap of Alaska airlines flight 261 from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico enroute sanfrancisco and Seattle.
rocks and ripples
Fear in the U.S. of Russian nukes made strange bedfellows during the Cold War, like our relationship with the shah of Iran, Franco, Somoza, and Pinochet. The logic was that such strongmen, unlike Communist thugs, would evolve eventually into constitutional governments, or, unlike elected socialists, they could at least be trusted not to turn their countries into satellites of the Soviet Union.
We paid a price for such realpolitik when the Berlin Wall fell. Few gave us the deserved thanks for bankrupting the Soviet empire, but we did get plenty of the blame for the mess left behind by third-world dictatorships.
Now Middle East autocracies use the same "it's either us or them" blackmail. They hope to survive the tide of democratization by showing off their antiterrorist plumage. The problem is that the defeat of terrorism — like that of global Communism — ultimately rests with promoting freedom, not authoritarianism.
Decades of supporting right-wing authoritarians did nothing to ameliorate a dysfunctional Middle East. Perhaps support for democratic reform will usher in Hamas in Palestine, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, something worse than Gen. Musharraf in Pakistan, and a shaky post-Saddam Hussein government in violence-torn Iraq, but what else is the United States to do?
seceding from venezuela?
From Publius (no permalink, so scroll)
Oil-rich Zulia state in western Venezuela, right under the radar, is seeking autonomy or possibly independence from Venezuela. There are now growing calls for it, from an independence group called ‘Our Course.’
Situated near Lake Maracaibo, the rightwing stronghold on the Colombian border is the only state that’s never been mowed down by the forces of Chavismo. Its governor is anti-Hugo Chavez, and its people hate the Thug more than almost anyone in the country.
Its autonomy move resembles that of natgas-rich and very rightwing, market-oriented Santa Cruz province in Bolivia. But the desire to break away from an unbearable central government doesn’t stop there. There ought to be a name for this phenomenon because it’s very recognizable around the world. It’s present in the rebellions of oil-rich Nigeria, and in the bitter struggle in Indonesia’s energy-rich Aceh province, too.
monday march 6, 2006
top ten accidental discoveries
ivy league thinking
A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that universities that get federal funds must allow military recruiters on campus, even if their law schools oppose the Pentagon's policy prohibiting openly gays and lesbians from serving.
The high court upheld as constitutional a federal law dating back to 1994 that allows the government to withhold money from universities that deny military recruiters the same access to campuses given to other employers.
Yale eagerly recruited the Taliban's former spokesman as a student. The Taliban stoned homosexuals to death. But they object to assisting military recruiters who muster the forces that ended the Taliban's evil.
Can anyone say "cognitive dissonance?"
News reports say there was a PR event in Hollywood last night in which movie stars dressed up fancy and gave each other prizes. Developing...
brookings charts iraq
If you care to clear the media's fog of war reporting, look at the report by the Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank. Brookings has been tracking stats in Iraq for three years.
Opinionated Bastard has a long look at the data, which show four straight months of decreasing violence.
ralph peters: dude where's my civil war?
I'M trying. I've been trying all week. The other day, I drove another 30 miles or so on the streets and alleys of Baghdad. I'm looking for the civil war that The New York Times declared. And I just can't find it.
Maybe actually being on the ground in Iraq prevents me from seeing it. Perhaps the view's clearer from Manhattan. It could be that my background as an intelligence officer didn't give me the right skills.
And riding around with the U.S. Army, looking at things first-hand, is certainly a technique to which The New York Times wouldn't stoop in such an hour of crisis.
Let me tell you what I saw anyway. Rolling with the "instant Infantry" gunners of the 1st Platoon of Bravo Battery, 4-320 Field Artillery, I saw children and teenagers in a Shia slum jumping up and down and cheering our troops as they drove by. Cheering our troops.
All day - and it was a long day - we drove through Shia and Sunni neighborhoods. Everywhere, the reception was warm. No violence. None.
And no hostility toward our troops. Iraqis went out of their way to tell us we were welcome. Instead of a civil war, something very different happened because of the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. The fanatic attempt to stir up Sunni-vs.-Shia strife, and the subsequent spate of violent attacks, caused popular support for the U.S. presence to spike upward.
Think Abu Musab al-Zarqawi intended that?
In place of the civil war that elements in our media declared, I saw full streets, open shops, traffic jams, donkey carts, Muslim holiday flags - and children everywhere, waving as our Humvees passed. Even the clouds of dust we stirred up didn't deter them. And the presence of children in the streets is the best possible indicator of a low threat level.
the murtha of all morons
Pompous ass spews noxious gas on CBS. Powerline has the details.
sunday march 5, 2006
massive muslim march against terrorism
...in Bahrain. A roundup from Gateway Pundit with links to many photos.
new "right" declared in la
LA's new mayor:
"Part of the American dream is the idea that health care is a right, not a privilege," Villaraigosa said. "Every American should be able to afford health care."
You can't have health without food in your stomach, clothes on your back and a roof over your head. So, by Villaraigosa's logic, everyone in America has a right to a free living.
Mamie Jackson, president and CEO of the Studio City-based National Organization for Renal Disease, said she believes the United States should offer some kind of basic health care to everyone, with an emphasis on prevention.
"It doesn't have to be free, but it has to be affordable," she said.
We already have that. No one gets turned away from hospitals. Including thousands of Mexican nationals. Does Villaraigosa count them as Americans, too?
will hugo form a belafonte brigade?
Hugo Chavez keeps hyping the idea the US plans to invade Venezuela. Maybe he's been listening to left wingers and they're "it's all about oil" worldview. After all, if that were true, we'd have invaded Venezuela not Iraq.
Anyway, Hugo's talk is all belligerent. And he's getting cozy with the Iranian despots. Someday we might see a variant of the Cuban missile crisis, with Iran putting nukes in the hands of Chavez. If it comes to that, let's hope the President isn't a John Kerry weanie.
Atlas Shrugged has plenty on Hugo.
did he have to wear a cast?
Young fella gets his crank snapped.
narcissism and pre-school
ShrinkWrapped comments on the competition of wealthy Manhattanites to get their tots into the top pre-schools:
All of us have a significant Narcissistic investment in our children. It is the most normal and natural thing in the world to feel pride at our children's successes and pain at their set-backs. However, most healthy parents know that part of their job requires separating their interests from their child's interests. I can assure you that there are no 18 month olds who care what pre-school they go to.
And the saddest part is that for the unfortunate children of such people, they are already finding their self worth dependent on external forces, continuing the Narcissistic cycle that their parent have been unable to escape.
Children depend on receiving unconditional love from their parents; when a parent is distressed or depressed, they are less able to be emotionally available to their child. The children who have to go through the crucible of pre-school, nursery school, and grade school admissions, recognize how much importance their parents attach to it, which means that if they "fail", they have failed their parents. It doesn't even help if they succeed; either way, the message to the children is that their parent's happiness depends on an accomplishment by the child over which he has no real control.
ap admits screw up
...as quietly as possible and after making Bush out to be a liar.
people's republic of vermont is shrinking
Vermont, with a population of about 620,000, now has the lowest birth rate among states. Three-quarters of its public schools have lost children since 2000.
Vermont also has the highest rate of students attending college out of their home state — 57 percent, up from 36 percent 20 years ago. Many do not move back. The total number of 20- to 34-year-olds in Vermont has shrunk by 19 percent since 1990.
Vermont's governor, Jim Douglas, is treating the situation like a crisis. He proposes making Vermont the "Silicon Valley" of environmental technology companies to lure businesses and workers; giving college scholarships requiring students to stay in Vermont for three years after graduating; relaxing once-sacrosanct environmentally driven building restrictions in some areas to encourage more housing; and campaigning in high schools and elementary schools to encourage students "to focus now on making a plan to stay in Vermont," said Jason Gibbs, a spokesman for Mr. Douglas.
Mr. Douglas said: "There's an exodus of young people. It's dramatic. We need to reverse it. The consequences of not acting are severe."
Unfortunately, because of the constitution, even if Vermont shrinks to 50 people, we'll still have the likes of Patrick Leahy and Jim Jeffords in the Senate causing trouble.
the vision thing
Critics of the Bush Administration often lament that its policies have alienated America's traditional allies and embittered just about everyone else. Everyone except, apparently, a billion or so Indians.
That's one lesson to draw from President Bush's visit this week to the Subcontinent, which also included stops in Kabul and Islamabad. Relations between India and the U.S. have improved steadily since Rajiv Gandhi took over from his assassinated mother, the repressive and inveterately anti-American Indira Gandhi, in 1984. But it's only with this Administration (which early on lifted Clinton-era sanctions on India) that the relationship has matured into a genuine strategic alliance based on shared interests in democracy, globalization and the war on terror. "We have made history today," said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the visit, and we can only hope he's right.
Of course, Clinton brought us the V-chip and waged a relentless war on Big Tobacco.
saturday march 4, 2006
be nice or die
...to The Grads Of Stupid University On Iraq from Sigmund, Carl and Al. Excerpt:
...Now, pay attention because we are going to teach you something of value. We are going to tell you about Iraq. Shut up and listen and stop touching yourselves. You do not want to engage us in an argument, because we have forgotten more than you will ever know. Take 10 minutes to figure out what we just said.
Saddam Hussein was not a nice man. Saddam Hussein did not have any visible weapons of mass destruction when we went into Iraq. That is not to say he didn't have them- it is to say they may have been moved.
Put your hands down, we're not taking questions. You will listen and be less of an idiot when we are done, or you can leave now and remain the jumbo, whopper sized moron you are now.
tomorrow's the deadline
what went right
Given the killer power of Katrina, the limited death toll is a miracle, right?. No, not really. Human intervention played a big role in the limited loss of life. It just went unnoticed by a media that was blind to an amazing story and determined to tarnish Bush.
But Americans should be proud of how her citizens responded in a time of need.
Here's the story. Great photos, too.
When New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin predicted a Hurricane Katrina death toll of 10,000, some thought he was erring on the low side. Twenty-five thousand body bags were stockpiled; the latest computer model predicted 60,000 dead. Yet weeks after the storm, fewer than 1,000 bodies have been found in all of Louisiana. Which prompts the question: What went right?
The answer is: something massive. Largely ignored by the agenda-driven national media, one of the largest rescue operations in history saved more than 50,000 people by boat and helicopter. In this Dunkirk on the Mississippi, Coast Guard and other military units, volunteers, and state and local first responders delivered thousands from death by drowning, dehydration, heatstroke, fire, starvation, and disease. The three goats of Katrina — FEMA’s Michael Brown, Gov. Kathleen Blanco, and Mayor Nagin — had little if any role; in fact, because local communication was wiped out by the storm, they may not even have known about the scale and success of the rescue operation.
Others did know. Orleans Parish civil sheriff Paul Valteau saw a part of this massive effort close up, when he pulled off the Franklin Ave. interstate exit at 3 p.m. on Monday, August 29, shortly after the storm had passed and levees had broken. “They were screaming and hollering everywhere,” he recalls. Submerged homes and businesses stretched into the distance. Survivors stood on rooftops, water up to their waists and rising.
Desperate pounding and shrieking came from attics. One man, a double amputee, clung to a tree as water surged around him. “I saw things I never saw in 23 years as sheriff,” Valteau says. “I saw things I never want to see again.” But he also saw Coast Guard helicopters dodge power lines to winch the endangered to safety. He joined one of the ad hoc rescue crews launching boats from the off-ramp. “We weren’t alone. Hundreds of people who had boats showed up at interstate exits and launched their boats Monday afternoon.”
friday march 3, 2006
he killed it before he voted for it
"We killed the Patriot Act," boasted Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, to cheers from a crowd at a political rally after the vote. -- Dec. 17, 2005
The Senate on Thursday gave its blessing to the renewal of the USA Patriot Act after adding new privacy protections designed to strike a better balance between civil liberties and the government's power to root out terrorists. -- March 3, 2006
The vote was 89-10 with Reid voting in favor.
lock up jimmy carter
Confession: I voted for Jimmy Carter, my first vote for a president. My original sin. This pompous, sniveling jerk has set a standard for bad ex-presidents:
- He went behind George H.W. Bush's back to write members of the Security Council when Bush 41 was putting together the coalition to oust Saddam from Kuwait. Carter wanted more time for sanctions to work.
- When Clinton was negotiating a touchy situation with North Korea, Carter flew there and inserted himself in the diplomatic process, forcing Clinton into an untenable situation.
- Now he's butting into Secretary Rice's business, seeking UN votes against a US position:
President Carter personally called Secretary of State Rice to try to convince her to reverse her U.N. ambassador's position on changes to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the former president recalled yesterday in a talk in which he also criticized President Bush's Christian bona fides and misstated past American policies on Israel.
Mr. Carter said he made a personal promise to ambassadors from Egypt, Pakistan, and Cuba on the U.N. change issue that was undermined by America's ambassador, John Bolton. "My hope is that when the vote is taken," he told the Council on Foreign Relations, "the other members will outvote the United States."
Just who does he think he is?
the evil we ended
Michael Totten reports from one of Saddam's hell holes, but also brings some bright news.
hey, you 20-40 something folks
...remember when the Democrats stood and cheered at this year's State of the Union address for killing Social Security reform?
Well, take a peek at how your payroll taxes will look in the years ahead if something is not done. Grin and bear it. Or not.
dean's big ideas
"The Democrats have a better idea. First we will conclude the negotiations with the Chinese and the North Koreans to disarm North Korea. Secondly, under no circumstances will a Democratic Administration ever allow Iran to become a nuclear power. Three, we will kill or capture Osama bin Laden and four, the authority and the control of the ports of the United States must be retained by American companies.
Howard Dean also plans to defeat Roger Federer at tennis by, "hitting the ball over the net one more time than Federer" in each game.
bush plays long ball
...while the petty ankle-biters nip at his heels. Years from now, when the media twits are long forgotten, Bush's bold foreign policy moves will be bearing fruit. China understands this:
India and the United States have pushed forward their strategic partnership by clinching a civil nuclear deal and a number of cooperation deals in trade, agriculture, science and technologies on Thursday.
The two countries finalized the plan to separate India's civilian and military nuclear facilities, a breakthrough to realize the Indo-U.S. overall civil nuclear cooperation, after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a two-hour talk with visiting U.S. President George W. Bush on the second day of his visit to India.
The nuke deal is just part of a long range strategy. Analysis here.
U.S. President George W. Bush declared on Friday that the United States and India were "closer than ever before" and united in the drive against terrorism but said New Delhi needs to lower trade barriers.
Bush wrapped up his first visit to India with a speech at New Delhi's 16th century Old Fort where he lauded the United States and India as two great democracies that must work together to support pro-democracy movements around the world.
"The United States and India, separated by half the globe, are closer than ever before, and the partnership between our two nations has the power to transform the world," he said.
Showcasing relations that are closer now than at any time since the Cold War, Bush called India "a natural partner of the United States because we are brothers in the cause of human liberty."
In the hectic, confused hours after Hurricane Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast, Louisiana's governor hesitantly but mistakenly assured the Bush administration that New Orleans' protective levees were intact, according to new video obtained by The Associated Press showing briefings that day with federal officials.
Rousseau came up with the most seductive sentence in the whole dirty history of Western utopian thought. It occurs at the beginning of his political treatise, The Social Contract:
MAN WAS BORN FREE BUT EVERYWHERE HE IS IN CHAINS
In ten words, Jean-Jacques Rousseau bore the modern idea of childhood. Till then, children were considered little adults, miniature sinners, junior versions of their corrupt elders. But with Rousseau’s seductive ten words, childhood and children acquired the halo of innocence. Thus the centrality of Emile, Rousseau’s enormously influential “educational” treatise, on how to maintain the inner-innocence in the adolescent.
Rousseau’s idea is very simple. Man was born good and society corrupts him. Rousseau turned the Aristotelian veneration of experience and old-age on its ancient head. Human nature is good and society bad. Original sin was replaced with original virtue. Wisdom and goodness was now located in the child or the primitive human, the so-called “noble savage.”
Rousseau-for-idiots: Adults don’t get it; kids do.
Sounds familiar? Rousseau’s cult of the innocent child climaxed for the first time in the countercultural explosion of the Sixties when a generation of children all-too-innocently announced their intention to remake the world in their virtuous image. Today, this ideal of the innocence, the embedded virtue, the original purity of the child has returned wrapped in the cloak of digital idealism. Let’s tag it “Climax 2.0” in honor of those Silicon Valley teleologists who can only think in zeros and ones.
Read the whole thing.
thursday march 2, 2006
bush vs. clinton on india powerplants
You may remember the "60 Minutes" expose on Enron's bad energy deal with India. It quadrupled electricity costs by having Enron import liquified natural gas from the middle-east by ship instead of using India's abundant plentiful coal.
You probably don't remember that the Clinton administration pressured India to accept the boondoggle.
According to Pradyumna Kaul, a management consultant evaluating the Enron project for the Indian government, “the Indian government in Delhi were told that they would have no alternative but to sign [Enron’s deal]. That was the only condition for the U.S. government to continue to support India on the foreign exchange financial front,” says Kaul.
When the project was halted by a local politician who was elected partly by promising to stop its construction, the American ambassador to India under President Clinton, Frank Wisner, came to Enron’s aid. Wisner tells Simon the project was in the best interests of India’s state and central governments.
Now Bush has negotiated an historic deal for India to produce clean, safe nuclear power.
does she snore?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg falls asleep on the bench.
nbc's david gregory, snockered
And his defense is that he remembers "funny things" like Dudley Moore in Arthur. Uh, David, Dudley was playing a drunk.
Something in the leftwing psyche craves drama, especially the self-pitying variety. You see it played out in street demonstrations, mock trials (a gimmick invented by Lenin's master propagandist Willi Munzenberg) and incessant wailing about squelched free speech.
They've also conjured a frightening police state that's out to get them. This is comical, like teenagers freaking each other out with gory campfire stories, then jumping at the sound of twigs snapping as they return to their tents. In a nation where Michael Moore becomes wealthy selling propaganda and dozens of Bush-bashing books are for sale in the National Archive bookstore, a short walk from the White House, a police state is a big stretch.
Yesterday's LA Times had an op-ed from Katharine Viner, an editor of London's leftwing Guardian newspaper and co-creator of "My Name is Rachel Corrie" a polemical play about the 23-year old "activist" who was accidently crushed by an Israeli bulldozer. The play was supposed to open in New York, but was postponed indefinitely. Viner writes:
The political climate, we were told, had changed dramatically since the play was booked. As James Nicola, the theater's 's artistic director, said Monday, "Listening in our communities in New York, what we heard was that after Ariel Sharon's illness and the election of Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections, we had a very edgy situation." Three years after being silenced for good, Rachel was to be censored for political reasons.
Sorry, censorship is when the government stifles speech. This was the theater group deciding the message no longer (if it ever did) fit the audience. Having the Palestinians elect Hamas, which wants Israel wiped off the map, might have shifted sympathy a bit. But no, it's an ominous sign of the creeping police state:
I'd heard from American friends that life for dissenters had been getting worse — wiretapping scandals, arrests for wearing antiwar T-shirts, Muslim professors denied visas. But it's hard to tell from afar how bad things really are. Here was personal proof that the political climate is continuing to shift disturbingly, narrowing the scope of free debate and artistic expression, in only a matter of weeks.
The wiretaps are nothing new, do not apply to domestic calls and are not meant to stifle free expression, unless of course, the expression is "let's blow the Brooklyn Bridge tonight at 11."
The arrests were hardly that: Cindy Sheehan and the wife of a Republican Congressman were removed from the gallery at the State of the Union address for violating a rule against political displays. Both were released and received apologies. Muslim profs? I don't know. But the Taliban's former spokesman is now studying at Yale, where he was heavily recruited.
So if this is Bush's police state, it's mighty incompetant one. No doubt, Lefties will bitch about that, too. For drama queens, histrionics never get old.
guts in denmark
Just saying no to Islamofascism. And saying it publicly.
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.
The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.
Read it all. They signed their names.
...Chirac understands that posturing over Iraq has not protected France from Islamofascism. Militant Islamist preachers are active among the nation's 5 million Muslim citizens, many of whom willingly believe that all their problems will get better if they follow Sharia and reject French secularism. Chirac also reacted swiftly when a French Jew was recently tortured to death after being kidnapped by a thuggish gang who believed that, because he was Jewish, his family by definition was rich enough to pay a massive ransom. This vestige of the very worst anti-Semitism shocked France and may serve to wake up intellectuals blinded to the excesses of radical Islamists by their own anti-Americanism.
And Chirac has his own Abu Ghraib. France's elite antiterrorist police face accusations of torturing Arab detainees suspected of terrorist links. A top general has been suspended after an enemy combatant held by his soldiers was murdered in the Ivory Coast, where young French troops, as frightened and far from home as American troops in Iraq, are all that is preventing a descent into anarchic bloodshed. Anti-U.S. politicians in Switzerland and Strasbourg may paint America as a nation of bloody torturers, but Chirac knows that in the fight against terrorism both soldiers and security agencies make mistakes. He is not joining in the U.S.-bashing on this front.
Page Johnny "Nuance" Kerry, the sophisticated French are coming around. And Silvio Berlusconi is hoping to ride President Bush's coattails.
saddam's hit list
wednesday march 1, 2006
no war in the streets
THE reporting out of Baghdad continues to be hysterical and dishonest. There is no civil war in the streets. None. Period.
Terrorism, yes. Civil war, no. Clear enough?
Yesterday, I crisscrossed Baghdad, visiting communities on both banks of the Tigris and logging at least 25 miles on the streets. With the weekend curfew lifted, I saw traffic jams, booming business — and everyday life in abundance.
Yes, there were bombings yesterday. The terrorists won't give up on their dream of sectional strife, and know they can count on allies in the media as long as they keep the images of carnage coming. They'll keep on bombing. But Baghdad isn't London during the Blitz, and certainly not New York on 9/11.
media's war on bush
The left concocts a poisonous day of news. Finally, sirs, have you no sense of decency?
HBO debuts Big Love this month, an original series about a man with three wives living in three adjacent houses in the suburbs. Which brought to mind a comment from Mark Twain in his Letters from the Earth (Letter VIII):
Now if you or any other really intelligent person were arranging the fairness and justices between man and woman, you would give the man one-fiftieth interest in one woman, and the woman a harem. Now wouldn't you?
Necessarily. I give you my word, this creature with the decrepit candle has arranged it exactly the other way. Solomon, who was one of the Deity's favorites, had a copulation cabinet composed of seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. To save his life he could not have kept two of these young creatures satisfactorily refreshed, even if he had had fifteen experts to help him.
Necessarily almost the entire thousand had to go hungry years and years on a stretch. Conceive of a man hardhearted enough to look daily upon all that suffering and not be moved to mitigate it. He even wantonly added a sharp pang to that pathetic misery; for he kept within those women's sight, always, stalwart watchmen whose splendid masculine forms made the poor lassies' mouths water but who hadn't anything to solace a candlestick with, these gentry being eunuchs. A eunuch is a person whose candle has been put out. By art.
The whole essay is a gem. No surprise.
one day late
...for Black History Month, but this is good. Iowahawk brings us the history of black contribution to the sport of drag racing:
February, as we know, is Black History Month. February is also the official start of the drag racing season, beginning with the annual NHRA Winternationals at Pomona. Coincidence? Maybe. I can't claim any expert knowledge about Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, W.E.B. DuBois or other textbook notables, but I do know a bit about drag racing; and I know that African American gearheads have been trailblazing the quarter mile for some 50 years. They might not be Dr. King, but I think their stories deserve a retelling, too.
Read it all. He's got great photos as well.