Friday, June 29, 2007

The averted UK bomb threat

As you likely know by now, an ambulance crew called to help a clubgoer at 1:30 am last night in London spotted a smoking car. The crew called the police and the bobbies discovered a homemade bomb. And it was not merely a pipebomb -- the police said it could have had devastating effects if it had not been discovered and dismantled.

The would-be bombers placed the device in a Mercedes sedan, which they parked in the Haymarket/Piccadilly Circus area of London -- a tourist and nightlife haven somewhat akin to Times Square. The Brits are confronting reality to some degree -- they've refused to soft-pedal the reality that "international elements" are behind the attack.

Meanwhile, the al-Hesbah Jihad Forum, a group where Sunni terrorists routinely communicate over the Web, cheered the bombing . . . before it happened.

Worse yet, the nature of the bomb and its delivery is reminiscent of this thwarted plan al-Qaeda put in motion in 2004.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Another filibuster in the making -- OR NOT

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pledges that attempts to revive the Fairness Doctrine by the liberals who decry talk radio's influence will not succeed.


The Fairness Doctrine would require radio programs to air a liberal perspective to counter conservative success on talk radio. Remember Air America, the liberal talk radio network? It failed miserably. And that's fine -- ideas should succeed or fail based upon the value they have in the marketplace of ideas that is essential to a free society. NPR is rolling right along, and any notion that it is fair, balanced, agenda-free and centrist is simply ludicrous.

Having government control and mandate content of radio programs is anathema to the First Amendment. The Fairness Doctrine is state favoritism toward one side's core political speech. Nothing fair about that.

UPDATE: Congressman Mike Pence raised the issue in the House by offering an amendment declaring that the FCC could NOT reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. The amendment passed 309-115, therefore the Fairness Doctrine is comatose once again. Good for Pence to bring this issue up and force 115 members of the House to reveal themselves as censors and speech regulators.

A good day for sovereignty -- UPDATED

The Senate's motion to close debate and set the final process for passing the comprehensive immigration reform bill failed miserably. Not only did the Senate fail to obtain the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture, a majority of the Senators voted against the cloture motion. The vote failed by 46-53. This is a failure of Harry Reid's leadership, the bipartisan group's drafting and negotiating tactics, and the President's influence. But it is a great success for the American people who opposed the bill by at least 2-1 margins across party lines.

And it's a good day for sovereignty. The US has to police its borders, discourage illegal immigration, encourage legal immigration and assimilation, and secure the nation. The American People have made their preference clear: secure the border first, then worry about how to deal with long-term illegals who have put down roots in the US. The first steps along those lines -- serious progress in building the border fence that the Congress passed last year and additional progress in deporting illegal aliens who commit crimes in this country.

More on this issue:

First, check out Allahpundit's post at He runs down who voted, how and when. Senate votes are taken alphabetically first, but the Senators do not have to vote when called upon. After the alphabetical call, the Senators can approach the clerk whenever they choose and cast a vote. As Allahpundit notes, by the time the alphabetical roll had been called, six Senators who voted for cloture on Tuesday (in the 64-35 vote), voted against it today, thereby ensuring a failure and allowing on-the-fence Senators to record the no votes that would give them political cover on this unpopular bill.

Second, Michelle Malkin has a bit of a gloat. But her post also has a great email from a Republican party member in Maine about Senator Susan Collins where s/he noted: "Susan Collins was blasted on local talk radio today by Republicans who said they will not support her re-election next year if she votes for the Immigration bill." Collins voted against cloture. That's effective constituent pressure.

Dean Barnett's also pleased -- the famous photo he chooses to show how celebratory he feels is pretty humorous, albeit a bit over the top. He gives well-deserved praise to Sens. Sessions, Cornyn, Inhofe and DeMint for opposing not only the amnesty without enforcement in the bill, but the backroom dealmaking that led to it.

A good day for the law

In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected two compulsory public school integration plans that forced white students to travel across their cities to achieve numerical diversity in predominantly black public schools, and vice versa, as violative of due process and equal protection. This statement from Chief Justice Roberts will carry greater weight than any legalistic or policy statements from any of the dissenters or Justice Kennedy's concurrence:

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.

The decision is essentially a 4-1-4 split. Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito rejected the justifications for the Seattle and Louisville school reassignment plans. The Seattle plan claimed to use race as "a" factor and only for high school assignments; the Louisville plan basically continued to implement a race-based remedy that had been imposed for past discrimination by a Federal court.

Justice Kennedy agreed to the result, but continued to promulgate the intellectually vapid notion that diversity is or could be a compelling governmental interest -- the notion propagated by Justice O'Connor in the Gratz and Grutter cases in 2003.

Justice Thomas rejected the dissenters' complaints that the majority decision violated the spirit of the landmark Brown v. Board of Educ. of Topeka, Kan. decision from 1954, which overturned the infamous "separate but equal" rationale that the Supreme Court pronounced in 1896. His riposte:

What was wrong in 1954 cannot be right today. The plans before us base school assignment decisions on students' race. Because 'our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,' such race-based decisionmaking is unconstitutional.

A good day for the law, and the Court. What a difference a justice (Alito) makes. And this term demonstrates just how important a Republican victory in the 2008 election will be -- no more Souter, Stevens or Kennedy nominees.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The City as the Incompetent Client

I understand why City Attorney offices -- that is, the office of the attorney general for civil and minor criminal actions pursued by (and against, in the case of civil actions) a city -- in large cities tend to be run by incompetents.

First, the City Attorney is a political figure who has worked toward his/her position based on contacts, not necessarily ability in the courtroom. In other words, many of these folks and their staffs are simply hacks. This contrasts with most District Attorneys who, although elected by the voters in their county or city, usually spent YEARS trying criminal cases.

Second, the City Attorney has limited budget resources, therefore it cannot attract the "best and the brightest" attorneys because it pays such low rates; and the civil docket the City Attorney runs has far fewer opportunities for trials than the district attorney's office. This explains why top lawyers will intern with, loan out to or start their careers with a DA's office.

Third, the City Attorney is directly responsible to the mayor, city manager, city council or other repository of the city's lawmaking power. In other words, that office must respond to the hacks who run the city. And in our nation's largest cities, that means political gladhanders known more often for their corruption than their managerial skills.

So this explains in part why the Washington DC attorney general's office, essentially the DC City Attorney, completely mismanaged the contract it had with the large and venerable law firm, Venable, LLP, to handle litigation matters relating to the construction of the new baseball stadium that DC is building for the Washington Nationals. Whether Venable acted improperly is open to interpretation. The sophisticated client needs to restrain its attorneys if they begin to act outside the scope of their engagement but the attorney owes the client a fiduciary duty and the duty of utmost loyalty. The mismanagement of taxpayer funds by the city, however, seems clear.


Still rockin' after 30 years

The Monk and Monkette attended last night's concert by The Police at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. A fine show, but there's more.

The Monk was a HUGE fan of The Police in high school. I had all five albums (then on cassette for my walkman) and usually had one playing during every car/train/plane ride when I traveled. So their breakup was a real disappointment and their failed reunion in 1986 was worse -- just when I thought they'd regroup and go on tour and I would have a chance to see them. So last night provided a bit of a surprising tidal wave of excitement when they took the stage -- I realized I'd wanted to see this for 21 years.

I've been to four Sting concerts -- Nothing Like the Sun, The Soul Cages, Ten Summoner's Tales and Mercury Falling tours. And he played plenty of The Police's hits at each and always had excellent musicians in his band (Dominic Miller and Omar Hakim as guitarist and drummer most notably). But there's no substitute for the real thing.

For good reason. Not only did The Police create great music, but they did it with great musical ability. Sting is one of the better rock bassists, Copeland has few peers as a drummer, and Summers is one of the most underrated guitarists in rock. Summers especially never gets his due from non-musicians because he doesn't rip off speed metal solos or blues riffs on steroids like an Eddie Van Halen (metal-influenced) or Clapton. But Summers can play multi-layered melodies on the guitar that render a sound impression of multiple guitarists playing at once -- something few rock guitarists even try.

Unlike other rock groups that had outstanding musicians but never achieved their popularity or influence (Emerson Lake & Palmer, Asia), or who lost their musical integrity (Van Halen), The Police stopped at the height of their popularity just as they began to lose the sharp punk/reggae-influenced edge that characterized their best work. The Synchronicity tour was a bloated over-produced affair that included backup soul singers and extra musicians that made a three-man band into an entourage. Not so last night -- just the trio.

The Police put out five albums, some B-sides and contributed to some movie soundtracks. The breakdown last night was: (1) Outlandos du Amour -- 5; (2) Reggatta de Blanc -- 4 (see below); (3) Zenyatta Mondatta -- 5; (4) Ghost in the Machine -- 2; (5) Synchronicity -- 5.

Here's the playlist from last night's show, which is basically identical to what they've done on their other shows, and observations:

Message In A Bottle -- The Police took the stage in three steps: (1) Drummer Stewart Copeland came onstage and rang a big Oriental gong; (2) Guitarist Andy Summers walked out and began ripping into the opening bars of Message in a Bottle; (3) Bassist Sting ran out on stage and hit his bass cue on time, then they all started rocking.
Synchronicity II
Walking On The Moon -- Before this song, Sting told the audience he would introduce the band, then he turned to the other members and said "Andy this is Stewart, Stewart this is Andy." Rock icon humor -- HA.
Voices Inside My Head/When The World Is Running Down -- I put these together because the boys played this as a medley. And folks who wandered off for a drink during these album cuts (neither was a single) missed a fantastic solo by Andy during the latter part of the double. At the end, however, Sting bonked -- he doubled up the coda, and waved to Stewart to say "my bad."
Don't Stand So Close To Me -- This was THE iconic Police song before the Synchronicity album, but the boys tore it apart in 1986 by re-recording it as a mellower and slower tune with more layers and texture to the music. At its raw best, it is intense and powerful. Yesterday, the version was a semi-successful meld of the two for the first two stanzas, then Sting farked up the lyrics and unsuccessfully tried to cover.
Driven To Tears -- One of their first notable jazz-influenced tunes combined with the reggae-standard jangly guitar by Andy. Sting bonked some lyrics here too -- must've been a carryover.
The Bed's Too Big Without You
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic -- Still the best song they ever wrote.
Wrapped Around Your Finger -- This was the Stewart Copeland show. With a massive set of chimes, cymbals, tympanies, gongs and xylophonic-looking percussion pieces set up behind his regular drum set, he tapped the band through the first two stanzas before jumping back to his seat and banging away during the rock-out ending.
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Walking In Your Footsteps -- Again, the Stewart Copeland extravaganza. In this song, he continually jumped to and from his regular drum kit to the supercussion set-up.
Can't Stand Losing You/Regatta De Blanc -- the title track of album #2 was embedded within the song that was really The Police's first hit
Roxanne -- To their credit, the boys spent about 30 seconds backstage getting water or popping the kinks out of their joints and came right back out to play their most known classic, a song that didn't even chart in the UK when first released.
King of Pain -- Monkette's favorite song by The Police. Strange little woman.
So Lonely
Every Breath You Take -- The second-biggest song of the 1980s (after Billie Jean), it spent 8 weeks as #1 and helped establish The Police as the world's biggest rock band. On the heels of this song's release, Synchronicity sold 12,000,000 copies in the US. Sting's solo song "If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free" is a direct counter to this plaintive lament of an obsessed lover because he wanted to negate the "poisoning" affect of The Police's biggest hit.
Next To You

All told, a good show, but a bit short (1 hr, 50 min). Honestly, my deisre to hear lesser-known songs like Synchronicity I, Murder by Numbers, Man in a Suitcase and Bring on the Night
would have added more to the show's length than its quality. That said, even with the high quality of this show, I have even more appreciation for groups like Phish, The Grateful Dead and Pearl Jam who drastically vary their set lists from night to night.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What ARE you voting for, Senator?

The immigration bill, which survived part one of the filibuster 64-35 (only need five in the yea column to switch over and kill this disaster), has so many bad provisions that it would take weeks for researchers on both sides of the political spectrum to catch them all.

Jim Boulet catches two small Trojan Horse provisions that essentially would incorporate sweeping international treaty obligations into the law without the Senate ever having ratified either treaty.

The bill must be killed.

Comparing Apples to Apples

The first review of the iPhone is out, and it's . . .

Actually, the review of the first iPhone indicates that the next generation iPhone will be a really neat gadget. But the version set to sale on Friday is just for first-adopter geeks -- expensive, relatively slow, inadequate memory, but with a faboo display screen and fun to use. Indeed, someone like me who has both an iPod and a phone that runs on AT&T's fastest cell network would downgrade on both storage and speed if I traded my two gadgets for the one.

Remember the adage that you should never get a Microsoft application before version 3.0 because versions 1.0 and 2.0 always sucked -- by version 3.0, it would finally get all the worst bugs out. That logic applies to new Apple products: they are invariably better in their SECOND iteration (which tends to follow closely on the heels of the initial version because Apple is constantly tweaking its products). More importantly, at the time the Third Generation (Apple has Generations, PCs have Versions) of the Apple gadget du jour makes its debut, the Second Generation price will knocked down to something reasonable.

So sally forth early adopters and have your fun. I'll save my money and wait for Apple to fix all the problems you guys spot.

The worst aspect of the immigration bill

Stanley Kurtz identifies the absolute worst part of the immigration bill -- the Congress and President still seek to pass it despite more than 2-1 opposition from the American people who have an opinion. And it's not a partisan issue: likely voters, whether they're Republicans, Democrats or nonaffiliated all disapproved by more than a 2-1 margin. In other words, our elected representatives do not care about our opinions.

Thus, Kurtz's observation about the democratic process and the manner in which the Senate has cobbled this legislation together is on point:

Something about this immigration battle doesn’t sit well. For all the bitterness of our political battles, there’s at least the sense that the government responds to the drift of public opinion. The Republicans in Congress turned into big spenders and the war in Iraq went poorly. As a result the Democrats prospered in 2006, if narrowly. That’s how democracy works. Our politics are often angry and ugly (and that’s a problem), but this is because the public is deeply divided on issues of great importance. Deep down, we understand that our political problems reflect our own divisions.

Somehow this immigration battle feels different. The bill is wildly unpopular, yet it’s close to passing. The contrast with the high-school textbook version of democracy is not only glaring and maddening, it’s downright embarrassing. Usually, even when we’re at each others’ throats, there’s still an underlying pride in the democratic process. This immigration battle strips us of even that pride.

The Senate is ignoring the voters and the valid opinion of the majority of US citizens. It is now acting like the European Parliament. Next step - acting like the Soviet Politburo.

The real Guantanamo

Col. Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, discusses the inaccurate hyperbole of the detention facility's opponents. Their dishonesty is remarkable.

Some excerpts:

Reality for Guantánamo Bay is the daily professionalism of its staff, the humanity of its detention centers and the fair and transparent nature of the military commissions charged with trying war criminals. It is a reality that has been all but ignored or forgotten.

The makeshift detention center known as Camp X-Ray closed in early 2002 after just four months of use. Now it is overgrown with weeds and serves as home to iguanas. Yet last week ABC News published a photo online of Camp X-Ray as if it were in use, five years after its closing.

In other words, there's a story that the mainstream press wants to tell -- reality be damned. And conditions are quite decent -- remember both the International Red Cross and the Organiztion for Security and Cooperation in Europe have stated that the facilities and treatment are humane:

Standards at Guantánamo rival or exceed those at similar institutions in the United States and abroad. After an inspection by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in March 2006, a Belgian police official said, “At the level of detention facilities, it is a model prison, where people are better treated than in Belgian prisons.”

Critics liken Guantánamo Bay to Soviet gulags, but reality does not match their hyperbole. The supporters of David Hicks, the detainee popularly known as the “Australian Taliban,” asserted that Mr. Hicks was mistreated and wasting away. But at his March trial, where he pleaded guilty to providing material support to a terrorist organization, he and his defense team stipulated he was treated properly. Mr. Hicks even thanked service members, and as one Australian newspaper columnist noted, he appeared in court “looking fat, healthy and tanned, and cracking jokes.”

Some imply that if a defendant does not get a trial that looks like Martha Stewart’s and ends like O. J. Simpson’s, then military commissions are flawed. They are mistaken. The Constitution does not extend to alien unlawful enemy combatants. They are entitled to protections under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which ensures they are afforded “all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”

Justice John Paul Stevens, in the Hamdan decision that rejected an earlier plan for military commissions, observed that Article 75 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions defines the judicial guarantees recognized as indispensable. A comparison of Article 75 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 shows military commissions provide the fundamental guarantees.

There's more and it's worth a read.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Trent Lott is a horse's patoot, part 2968

Lovely editorial in the Washington Times that gives Trent Lott the drawing and quartering he deserves.

Mr. Lott's comments about the immigration bill are unfortunate in their own right. But his suggestion that talk radio is a problem that someone has to "deal with" because it makes it harder to ram the immigration bill through the Senate is even worse, because it raises the specter of reviving the "Fairness Doctrine" — the Federal Communications Commission policy (repealed in 1987 at President Reagan's urging) that effectively barred any serious political debate from occurring on the airwaves. The result of the demise of the "equal-time rule" has been the rise of issue-oriented talk radio — perhaps the one area of the media where conservatives dominate. So, liberals who say they believe so strongly in the First Amendment want to revive the doctrine in order to prevent talk radio from doing what is has done on the illegal-immigration issue: educate people about what has been jammed into this massive bill and how it affects their country.

Look: I know he's from Mississippi and the whole state is a dump (yes, I've been there on many an occasion). But is he the best the GOP can dredge from that swamp?

Good news from the legal front

The reprehensible Roy Pearson, who filed the $67,000,000 lawsuit against his dry cleaners for an $800 pair of trousers, lost.

The case somehow got to trial, but this morning the judge ordered that Pearson "take nothing" on his claims against his dry cleaners. Take nothing is a legal phrase that says to a plaintiff: "YOU LOSE."

We noted this case here. ABC News has a good rundown at the link in the title of this post.

What a difference a justice makes

The Supreme Court issued opinions in five of the nine cases left on the docket for its 2006 Term. The three most important decisions reached the following conclusions:
  • The EPA does not have to comply with a mandate of the Endangered Species Act when it is required to take a specific action under another law. The ESA mandates are generally draconian, therefore this is a win for those seeking a more flexible approach to environmental regulation (like pollution credits instead of command and control mandates). This decision reversed a Ninth Circuit ruling that found the EPA had acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner;
  • The Wisconsin Right to Life Association had a First Amendment right to air advertisements during campaign season that specifically identified a Senate candidate who acted against their position. This is the second McCain-Feingold case and the candidate who complained about an ad criticizing his abortion position was . . . Russ Feingold. To their credit, Justices Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy wanted to overturn the previous McCain-Feingold case, decided in 2003 by Justice O'Connor. To their discredit, Souter, Stevens, Ginsburg and Breyer were foursquare in support of this diminution of First Amendment rights
  • Taxpayers do not have standing to sue to challenge the White House program of allowing federal aid to faith-based organizations. This is a victory for people who do not see an Establishment Clause violation in every single possible connection between the government and any religious organization.
For more, see SCOTUSblog's coverage at the link in the title of this post.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Some ideas have no value

Tim Rutten rightfully criticizes the West for its limp reaction to the Islamic outrage surrounding Queen Elizabeth II's decision to issue a knighthood to Salman Rushdie. Worse yet, the American press has completely failed to cover this:

When news of knighthood spread last weekend, the flames of fanaticism rekindled. An Iranian group offered $150,000 to anyone who would murder the novelist. Effigies of the queen and the writer were burned in riots across Pakistan. That country's religious affairs minister initially said that conferring such an honor on Rushdie justified sending suicide bombers to Britain, then — under pressure — he modified his statement to say it would cause suicide bombers to travel there. Pakistan's national assembly unanimously condemned Rushdie's knighthood and said it reflected "contempt" for Islam and Muhammad. Various high-ranking Iranian clerics called for the writers' death and renewed their insistence that Khomeini's fatwa still is in force. Riots spread to India's Muslim communities.

Friday, the Voice of America reported that Pakistani "lawmakers passed a second resolution calling on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to apologize 'to the Muslim world' " and that, "on Thursday, a hard-line Pakistani cleric awarded terrorist leader Osama bin Laden the religious title and honorific 'saifulla,' or sword of Islam, to protest Britain's decision."

If you're wondering why you haven't been able to follow all the columns and editorials in the American press denouncing all this homicidal nonsense, it's because there haven't been any. And, in that great silence, is a great scandal.

Yes, it is a scandal. Just ignoring Muslim fanaticism will not make it go away. And hiding its worst aspects will encourage the same mindless complacency and foolishness that characterized the Carter Administration. You cannot negotiate or engage in rational discussions with irrational people. More from Rutten:

What is the societal cost of silence among those who have not simply the moral obligation but also the ability to speak — like American commentators and editorial writers?

What masquerades as tolerance and cultural sensitivity among many U.S. journalists is really a kind of soft bigotry, an unspoken assumption that Muslim societies will naturally repress great writers and murder honest journalists, and that to insist otherwise is somehow intolerant or insensitive.

Lost in the self-righteous haze that masks this expedient sentiment is a critical point once made by the late American philosopher Richard Rorty, who was fond of pointing out that "some ideas, like some people, are just no damn good" and that no amount of faux tolerance or misplaced fellow feeling excuses the rest of us from our obligation to oppose such ideas and such people.

If Western and, particularly American, commentators refuse to speak up when their obligations are so clear, the fanatics will win and the terrible silence they so fervently desire will descend over vast stretches of our world — a silence in which the only permissible sounds are the prayers of the killers and the cries of their victims.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Chinese car quality = worse than the pet food

China's primary automaker, Brilliance, makes a sedan it labeled the BS6. Currently, the BS6 is sold in Europe. The company intends to export the car to the US later this year or early in 2008. Market niche: luxury sedan at economy price.

It's a failure in the making. Click the link above to watch an absolutely devastating crash test by the German equivalent of AAA using standard European testing guidelines. Essentially, this test is akin to the NHTSA 40 mph straight head-on collision test. Given the damage to the driver area in this test where the impact is spread through the front of the car, the more accurate IIHS (Insurers Institute for Highway Safety) 35 mph frontal offset test, which concentrates impact at the driver's side as if the car hit an equivalent car coming in the opposite direction at 35 mph, would probably mark the car as the worst one ever tested.

In other words, the Brilliance BS6 needs to go back to the drawing board FAST.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Problems and solutions in Australia

The Australian government is banning alcohol and porn sales to aborigines in the Northern Territory. Australia's six states and the Northern Territory are too large for folks to just ride across state lines (only Tasmania and Victoria are even smaller than Texas), so this is basically an effective ban.

Australia's aborigines are easily identifiable: they're black. Indeed, there are extremely few African blacks who live in Australia. No shock -- until 1971 Australia had legal segregation. Even though one look in the face of an African black would prevent confusion with an aboriginal Aussie (bone structure and facial features are radically different), the black skin would be a ticket to humiliation.

Indeed, Australia's treatment of aborigines from white settlement in the 1770s until reconciliation in the early to mid-1970s, is a combination of the US slave system in the South before the Civil War, combined with the territorial restrictions the US imposed on Native Americans. Just watch the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence. Today, Aussie aboriginals are impoverished, separate from general Aussie society, and have the same rampant alcoholism that US Native Americans have suffered from.

The action by John Howard's government treats the symptom, not the disease that infects aboriginal communities. Only by greater integration in general Australian society combined with respect for tribal customs can the aboriginal population progress. That's going to take more than bans on porn and booze.

Press support for Democrats

In the largest dog bites man story of the week, MSN ran an analysis of contributions by reporters and media members to political campaigns since 2004. MSN has an article describing its findings, the link in the title of this post is to the list of reporters, editors and staffers that MSN lists.

The core result: by a 9-1 margin, the media contributed to Democrats or liberal causes over Republicans or conservative causes.

No shock.

And none of the CNN or Reuters folks listed gave to Republicans.

The most remarkable aspect to The Monk is the descriptions of the activity. MSN sought comment from each of the people it listed. Many maintained silence. Others claimed that the donations were made by someone else like friends or family in their name (which still means approval -- The Monk would tear anyone a new one if ever a donation to Hillary was made in his name). And many BROKE THEIR EMPLOYERS' PROHIBITIONS AGAINST SUCH CONTRIBUTIONS such as this one:

(D) CNN, Guy Raz, Jerusalem correspondent, now with NPR as defense correspondent, $500 to John Kerry in June 2004.

Raz donated to Kerry the same month he was embedded in Iraq with U.S. troops for CNN. He also covered reaction to Abu Ghraib and President Bush's policies in the Middle East. In 2006, he returned to NPR, and covers the Pentagon.

"Yes, I made the donation," Raz said in an e-mail. "At the time, I was a reporter with CNN International based out of London. I covered international news and European Union stories. I did not cover US news or politics."

Both CNN and NPR prohibit political activity by all journalists, no matter their assignment.

This means that Mr. Raz willfully defied his employer to support a presidential candidate, and covered stories that were issues in the presidential election.

But kudos to Alix Kendall for her honesty:

(D) Fox affiliate in Minneapolis, KMSP, Alix Kendall, morning anchor, $250 in September 2006 to Midwest Values PAC, which gave to Democratic candidates.

Kendall said she opposes the war and thought that her donation was anonymous.

"I also believe that the station doesn't own my political views and values. Did I make the contribution? I did. We all have political opinions in this business. A lot of us want to be politically active. But marching in a war protest isn't an option, being a recognizable person, so we give with our checkbook. I don't think that working for a news organization I give up my rights. I interview plenty of people that I don't agree with, but I also ask questions to get the other side. I think it's actually an advantage — in a news organization we have people of many political views. We have healthy debates. I think it's my civic duty to be involved in what matters to me. I think it's ridiculous that anyone who's sitting in front of a camera doesn't have an opinion — come on, we all do. Did I think about that at the time? No, I didn't. Maybe I should have. But I still feel I have a right to my civic duties."

I don't disagree with Kendall, but it would be more honest for reporters to acknowledge and disclose their political contributions and/or affiliations and admit that their alleged objectivity is rubbish.

Consensus on global warming? Not so much

It's amazing how an open mind can receive and process information better than a biased one. Lawrence Solomon has been writing a series, now at 23 parts, about "The Deniers" -- scientists who doubt the effects of man's action on the global climate. Even the title of the series demonstrates that Solomon was working within the greenie framework to some degree -- "Denier" is the heinous Holocaust analogy used by the ecological alarmists to taint the skeptics as akin to anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers like David Irving and 90% of the leaders of the Muslim world.

Solomon accepted that consensus existed on the "fact" that man had a significant contribution to global climate change, but wanted to show that even prominent scientists disagreed. But Solomon found much more:

Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists -- the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects -- and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction.

But Solomon analysis goes deeper than that -- he notes that the recent IPCC report has numerous dissenters among the scientific community, and that the IPCC's claim of approval by 2500 reviewers has a weak foundation.

What of the one claim that we hear over and over again, that 2,000 or 2,500 of the world's top scientists endorse the IPCC position? I asked the IPCC for their names, to gauge their views. "The 2,500 or so scientists you are referring to are reviewers from countries all over the world," the IPCC Secretariat responded. "The list with their names and contacts will be attached to future IPCC publications, which will hopefully be on-line in the second half of 2007."

An IPCC reviewer does not assess the IPCC's comprehensive findings. He might only review one small part of one study that later becomes one small input to the published IPCC report. Far from endorsing the IPCC reports, some reviewers, offended at what they considered a sham review process, have demanded that the IPCC remove their names from the list of reviewers. One even threatened legal action when the IPCC refused.

A great many scientists, without doubt, are four-square in their support of the IPCC. A great many others are not. A petition organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine between 1999 and 2001 claimed some 17,800 scientists in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. A more recent indicator comes from the U.S.-based National Registry of Environmental Professionals, an accrediting organization whose 12,000 environmental practitioners have standing with U.S. government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. In a November, 2006, survey of its members, it found that only 59% think human activities are largely responsible for the warming that has occurred, and only 39% make their priority the curbing of carbon emissions. And 71% believe the increase in hurricanes is likely natural, not easily attributed to human activities.

That 59% number is notable because people listed in that registry have an incentive to believe in global warming -- government research grants.

An interesting series.

The Battle for Iraq

Former Green Beret and journalist Michael Yon is reporting that the Battle for Iraq is on. I'm calling it the Battle for Iraq because more so than the invasion in 2003 the fate of the country and of the region may be on the line here this summer and fall. The implications for the West is critical.

Thoughts flow on the eve of a great battle. By the time these words are released, we will be in combat. Few ears have heard even rumors of this battle, and fewer still are the eyes that will see its full scope. Even now—the battle has already begun for some—practically no news about it is flowing home. I’ve known of the secret plans for about a month, but have remained silent.

This campaign is actually a series of carefully orchestrated battalion- and brigade-sized battles. Collectively, it is probably the largest battle since “major hostilities” ended more than four years ago. Even the media here on the ground do not seem to have sensed its scale

This campaign is probably the early moves in General David Petraeus' strategy for re-taking Iraq from Al Qaeda. It is long, detailed and outstanding. And if you can, please donate.

Climate Change Counterpoints

We referred to Canada's National Post's series on "Deniers" here. Lawrence Solomon via the National Post has done a remarkable job of interviewing prominent scientists who take serious issue with the idea that the science of global warming is settled. As of our previous post the series was up to 13 articles. Now its up to 27. Have a read.

New articles include:

- NASA chief Michael Griffin bludgeoned into silence
- Earth could be headed for significant cooling beginning in 2020
- A sordid tale about Al Gore going off reservation on global warming in 1992

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Title IX Tidbit

Jessica Gavora, who is married to well-known National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg, has been in the forefront of the fight against Title IX in college sports. Title IX essentially forces universities to close down sports programs for men if there is too much disparity between the number of male and female athletes.

Apparently the gender equality nutters are now trying to extend their idiocy into high schools. This is one very good reason (that didn't occur to me) why it makes no sense. Gavora writes:

Federal fiat, it turns out, can provide for the additional sports for girls, but it can’t make them come out and play. When gender bean counters told Martin County high schools that they “didn’t have enough” girls playing junior varsity sports, the county instituted a full court press to lure more freshman and JV female athletes. But response was so poor that one school had to cancel plans for girls’ varsity soccer, another couldn’t get enough players for JV basketball. At Martin County High School, the athletic director had trouble getting four girls out of a female student body of over 800 to come out for the new bowling team.

The reason high schools are having trouble finding as many girls to play sports as there are boys clamoring to take the field is apparent to anyone who takes the time to look: Girls have more varied extracurricular interests than boys. Girls out-participate boys in every extracurricular activity — band, drama, debate, student government — every one, that is, except for sports. The extracurricular gender gap so favors girls that the Independent Women’s Forum calculated that if the government were suddenly to require the same gender quota for participation in other extracurricular activities that it does in sports, 36 percent of female choir members, 25 percent of female orchestra members, and 33 percent of female debaters would have to be eliminated.

The implication of this is clear: If high schools follow colleges and universities in instituting gender quotas in athletics, boys will be forced to pay the price in limited or eliminated opportunities. Girls are too busy doing other things after school to turn out at the same rate for sports.

Effects of a Bloomberg candidacy

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to leave the Republican Party to become an independent is generating much discussion about a probable decision to run for President. Bloomberg who's been a decent mayor is a high profile RINO who draped on a Republican mantle to win the mayoralty.

David Frum has an excellent rundown on why this would purely be a vanity piece for Bloomberg. (I agree)

More importantly though who could it hurt? You guessed it, the side of the angels.

So far, none of these winners and losers will affect the general outline of the election much. But here's one more prediction: Bloomberg will launch his campaign on the high road, giving worthy speeches about rebuilding US alliance, reforming health care, combating climate change, and other topics designed to win him the approbation of the Manhattan financial and media elite. Favorable publicity may bump him up to 5% or 8% in the polls, just enough to keep him spending money. But after the conventions of the summer of 2008, voters will begin returning to their homes in the two big parties. Bloomberg's numbers will dwindle (as Nader's did). He will then face a stark choice: accept that he's been made a monkey of - or up the ante. Nobody gets to be as rich as Bloomberg if he is not a fierce competitor. So - assuming he has followed the path thus far - he will double down. He will go negative, filling the airwaves with harsh attack ads.

Against whom will those ads be aimed? A lot will ride on that question. Attack ads are dangerous things, because they damage both the attacker and the attackee. Their main effect is not to change votes from D to R or R to D, but to depress turnout among potential supporters of the targeted candidate. Candidates refrain from excess negativity for fear of damaging their own image. But a Bloomberg in the polling basement will feel no such constraint.

The ads will be a free gift to the candidate Bloomberg dislikes less at the expense of the candidate he dislikes more.

And the candidate he dislikes more will almost certainly be the Republican.

Frum has got this bang on. Bloomberg has shown admirable initiative (schools, smoking, congestion tax) but is somewhat meddlesome (schools, smoking, congestion tax) and may have a serious tiff if Rudy Giuliani is the GOP nominee and they start to argue on who is the better mayor.

Hope he decides to save his $75-150 million.

The US: reducing emissions while growing the economy

Pres. Bush has a bit of a gloat in this article, which notes that the US reduced carbon emissions by 1.3% while the economy grew by 3.3%. The WaPo writer seems to downplay this, but make no mistake -- this is a HUGE drop considering the US economy is still rolling along.

Naturally, climate warming alarmists like Sen. Kerry want more, including a drop in overall emissions by 60-80% by 2050 (contrary to Kerry, no credible science calls for that). That simply cannot be done without crippling the economy and reconfiguring the country into a hunter/gatherer society. And of course, the single best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is anathema to the US environmental movement: nuclear power. Once again, this proves that environmentalism is just an attempt to re-establish 19th century living standards under a socialist redistribution system.

Meanwhile, across the ponds: (1) Europe will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 0.6% WITHIN THE NEXT FOUR YEARS; and (2) China is now the world's top greenhouse gas polluting country -- it achieved this dubious distinction years ahead of schedule. Ten years ago the Senate had the perspicacity to avoid any and all multilateral greenhouse gas reduction agreements that did not include China and India, including rejecting the Kyoto Treaty by a 95-0 vote. Today, McCain, Kerry, Kennedy and the rest of the alarmists seek to eviscerate our economy through the equivalent of economic unilateral disarmament. Meanwhile, the President, who has steadfastly maintained the policy the Senate approved in its Kyoto vote, is a target of condemnation. And he'll get no credit from the left for achieving something Bill Clinton failed to: growing the economy while reducing the pollution rate.


Jimmy Carter's greatest failure

Author Michael Evans dubs Jimmy Carter the "Father of the Iranian Revolution". A moniker that's entirely too apt. Read this article on how Carter nursemaided the exiled Khomeini and ultimately inflicted the godfather of modern terrorism on the world.

Some excerpts:

Carter viewed Khomeini as more of a religious holy man in a grassroots revolution than a founding father of modern terrorism. Carter's ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, said "Khomeini will eventually be hailed as a saint." Carter's Iranian ambassador, William Sullivan, said, "Khomeini is a Gandhi-like figure." Carter adviser James Bill proclaimed in a Newsweek interview on February 12, 1979 that Khomeini was not a mad mujahid, but a man of "impeccable integrity and honesty."

Only Carter and his own ignorant yes-men could believe this. Khomeini had been railing against the West for more than a decade from his exile location in (where else?) Paris. Khomeini did not call for love, self-determination and uplifting the poor; he called for Islamification and turning Iran away from the West. And Carter helped:

WHEN CARTER entered the political fray in 1976, America was still riding the liberal wave of anti-Vietnam War emotion. Carter asked for an in-depth report on Iran even before he assumed the reins of government and was persuaded that the shah was not fit to rule Iran. 1976 was a banner year for pacifism: Carter was elected president, Bill Clinton became attorney-general of Arkansas, and Albert Gore won a place in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

In his anti-war pacifism, Carter never got it that Khomeini, a cleric exiled to Najaf in Iraq from 1965-1978, was preparing Iran for revolution. Proclaiming "the West killed God and wants us to bury him," Khomeini's weapon of choice was not the sword but the media. Using tape cassettes smuggled by Iranian pilgrims returning from the holy city of Najaf, he fueled disdain for what he called gharbzadegi ("the plague of Western culture").

Carter pressured the shah to make what he termed human rights concessions by releasing political prisoners and relaxing press censorship. Khomeini could never have succeeded without Carter. The Islamic Revolution would have been stillborn.

Gen. Robert Huyser, Carter's military liaison to Iran, once told me in tears: "The president could have publicly condemned Khomeini and even kidnapped him and then bartered for an exchange with the [American Embassy] hostages, but the president was indignant. 'One cannot do that to a holy man,' he said."

A reprehensible president.

The Religion of Peace: Exhibit 2215

Queen Elizabeth II, to her credit, has knighted literary icon Salman Rushdie. The history of Rushdie's seminal work, The Satanic Verses, the death fatwa issued against him by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the rioting against Rushdie that followed Khomeini's proclamation
should be well-known. Rushdie's ordeal in the nine years following the fatwa until the Iranian government vowed that it would not seek to kill him as condition to re-establishing relations with the UK in 1998, should be too: he lived in hiding, needed full-time security, disguised his movements and did not appear in the open without first attempting to divert surveillance. His tribulations were a precursor to the ones Ayaan Hirsi Ali has suffered more recently.

Despite promises of protest, cries of outrage in Pakistan, and vows of violence, Queen Elizabeth knighted Rushdie. She did not back down in response to irrational threats and behavior. That's fitting, because neither did Rushdie.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nutball 101 = Paul McCartney

The Monk thinks the NUGE is hilarious, and usually dead-on correct. Today, rocker Ted Nugent rips the former Beatle for firing roadies who ate hamburgers while touring with him.

Read the whole thing -- it's pure Nugent, which is a genre in itself.

Happy Juneteenth

On June 19, 1965, nearly 2.5 years after the "effective" date of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Union established control over Texas and put the Proclamation into effect -- immediately freeing all Texas slaves and rendering them freedmen.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation was ordered in September 1862 and had an effective date of January 1, 1863, it had no legal effect outside of the Union because it freed only slaves who lived in Confederate states that did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863. In other words, in the seceded states that remained rebellious, it changed nothing. At least not legally. The psychological and political effect was tremendous.

But in Texas, the Confederacy controlled the state and the slaves did not know of their freedom until the Union assumed formal control two months after Gen. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. The Juneteenth celebration was a cultural holiday for a century, is a state holiday here (since 1980), and has become one in 13 other states.

Happy Juneteenth.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Same old story

From Allen Forkum of the political cartoonist team Cox and Forkum (authors of the cartoons above):

There's so little difference between Hamas and Fatah that you can barely tell them apart: Fatah photos and Hamas photos. The only real difference is that Hamas is more open about it's intent to destroy Israel.


The must-read of the day

Don Surber dismantles the Boston Globe's Sharia-ism.


The Boston Globe in an editorial today showed why a certain strain of liberals can no longer be trusted with the nation’s security, and since this strain now dominates the Democratic Party, Democratics can no longer be trusted with the nation’s security.

* * *

The editorial’s title showed how ridiculously ill some liberals have become, “Please, not another Cold War.”

Why not another Cold War? It cost few lives. It ended with the liberation of hundreds of millions Slavs, Ukranians, Hungarians, Poles, Czechs, Germans and on and on.

The only reason anyone would not want another Cold War is because those poor souls believe the wrong side won, comrade.

And that's just the beginning. Read the whole thing.

The BBC takes step one on the road to recovery, or not

The BBC commissioned a report of its news content, which found both that the Beeb is fair and impartial and that it has (a) shilled for specific causes and (b) has a biased newsroom.

The report concludes BBC staff must be more willing to challenge their own beliefs.

It reads: “There is a tendency to 'group think’ with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone.”

A staff impartiality seminar held last year is also documented in the report, at which executives admitted they would broadcast images of the Bible being thrown away but not the Koran, in case Muslims were offended.

During the seminar a senior BBC reporter criticised the corporation for being anti-American.

I can't square the conclusions either. If the newsroom is characterized by group think, how can it possibly be unbiased?

This article is more critical of the Beeb than the Telegraph one linked in the title.

Hat tip.

Biased reporting: the foundation of the US?

So said Chris Matthews in a discussion with the former Wonkette, Ana Marie Cox. Even allowing for some inaccuracies in Matthews' rendition of history, the fact remains that the press of 1776 and 1787 wore its partisan credentials openly, like National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Nation and The New Republic do today. The 1700s press did not proclaim its objectivity and then blatantly spin the news (see: Times, New York). In other words, the media did not dupe its audience 220-240 years ago. Too bad it does so now.

The UN's criminal irrelevance, part 3758

The worst thing about the lemming-like "consensus" on global warming is that the slipshod thought process that leads scientists to claim that there is man-made global warming (completely unproven -- why was the temperature increasing at a higher rate in the 1930s and '40s, then we allegedly faced a coming Ice Age in the '70s, and now the world will overheat?), that leads some scientists and the fools in the media to claim that global warming leads to more hurricanes (completely disproven), now leads to reprehensibly stupid allegations like this:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the slaughter in Darfur was triggered by global climate change and that more such conflicts may be on the horizon, in an article published Saturday.

"The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change," Ban said in a Washington Post opinion column.

UN statistics showed that rainfall declined some 40 percent over the past two decades, he said, as a rise in Indian Ocean temperatures disrupted monsoons.

"This suggests that the drying of sub-Saharan Africa derives, to some degree, from man-made global warming," the South Korean diplomat wrote. "It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought."

When Darfur's land was rich, he said, black farmers welcomed Arab herders and shared their water, he said. With the drought, however, farmers fenced in their land to prevent overgrazing.

Thus Ban's thesis essentially means this: Sudanese Islamist fundamentalists who despise "infidels," especially animist blacks in the south of that country, and who have sponsored, succored and supported terrorism for decades are only seeking to destroy the peaceful blacks because of global warming.

To paraphrase Orwell: This is so stupid only a diplomat could believe it.

Father of Climatological Science: No evidence of MAN-MADE global warming

Prof. Reid Bryson, considered the father of modern climatology, has this to say about global warming/climate change alarmism:

There is no question the earth has been warming. It is coming out of the "Little Ice Age," he said in an interview this week.

"However, there is no credible evidence that it is due to mankind and carbon dioxide. We've been coming out of a Little Ice Age for 300 years. We have not been making very much carbon dioxide for 300 years. It's been warming up for a long time," Bryson said.

The Little Ice Age was driven by volcanic activity. That settled down so it is getting warmer, he said.

Humans are polluting the air and adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, but the effect is tiny, Bryson said.

"It's like there is an elephant charging in and you worry about the fact that there is a fly sitting on its head. It's just a total misplacement of emphasis," he said. "It really isn't science because there's no really good scientific evidence."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Steyn on the Palestinians

Couldn't be said better:

Seasoned observers have been making droll cracks about a "two-state solution" - Hamas gets Gaza, Fatah gets the West Bank. But even that cynical jest is wishful thinking. The better bet is that the West Bank will eventually fall Hamas' way, too.

This is the logical consequence of the fraudulence of "Palestinian nationalism". There has never been any such thing. There is no evidence anywhere in the "Palestinian Authority" that anyone there is interested in building a state and running it. In conventional post-colonial scenarios of the Sixties and Seventies, liberation movements used terrorism as a means to advance nationalism. By contrast, Arafat's gang used nationalism as a means to advance terrorism. With him out of the way, it was deluded to assume that the "Palestinian people" would stick with a bunch of corrupt secular socialists with little appeal to anyone other than French intellectuals and Swiss bankers. The Mahmoud Abbas types play well on CNN and in EU subsidy negotiations, but because "Palestinian nationalism" was always bogus it's no surprise that the population of Gaza would seek a real identity elsewhere. In the Islamism of Hamas, they have found it. And, if it causes problems for all those Arab League deadbeats who promoted the pseudo-struggle of the "Palestinian people" for their own ends, well, they should have thought of that before they loosed this particular genie.

The question now is whether the Hamasification of the "Middle East peace process" will wean the Europeans off their fetishization of the Palestinians. Don't hold your breath.

Exhibit No. 1: Ehud Barak gave Arafat the best deal he ever got and that the Palestinians probably ever will get and he turned it down. Arafat never wanted peace because with peace would come a two-state solution. He would become the head of state of a fourth rate satrapy and gone would be his dreams of glory and the support of his many 'patrons'. Hamas is just much more forthright - exterminate the Jews.

Flag Day, 2007

June 14 is Flag Day in the United States -- the most forgotten holiday on the calendar. But Mark Steyn notes the importance of what the flag symbolizes in his 2005 column that the NY Post quoted last year when it announced that he won the 2006 Breindel Award. Here's a preview:

. . . if the objection to flag desecration is that it’s distasteful, tough. Like those apocryphal Victorian matrons who discreetly covered the curved legs of their pianos, the culture already goes to astonishing lengths to veil the excesses of those who are admirably straightforward in their hostility.

If people feel that way, why protect them with a law that will make it harder for the rest of us to see them as they are? One thing I’ve learned in the last four years is that it’s very difficult to talk honestly about the issues that confront us. A brave and outspoken journalist, Oriana Fallaci, is currently being prosecuted for “vilification of religion”, which is a crime in Italy; a Christian pastor has been ordered by an Australian court to apologize for his comments on Islam. In the European Union, “xenophobia” is against the law. A flag-burning amendment is the American equivalent of the rest of the west’s ever more coercive constraints on free expression. The problem is not that some people burn flags; the problem is that the worldview of which flag-burning is a mere ritual is so entrenched at the highest levels of western culture.

Banning flag desecration flatters the desecrators and suggests that the flag of this great republic is a wee delicate bloom that has to be protected. It’s not. It gets burned because it’s strong. I’m a Canadian and one day, during the Kosovo war, I switched on the TV and there were some fellows jumping up and down in Belgrade burning the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack. Big deal, seen it a million times. But then to my astonishment some of those excitable Serbs produced a Maple Leaf from somewhere and started torching that. Don’t ask me why – we had a small contribution to the Kosovo bombing campaign but evidently it was enough to arouse the ire of Slobo’s boys. I’ve never been so proud to be Canadian in years. I turned the sound up to see if they were yelling “Death to the Little Satan!”, but you can’t have everything.

That’s the point: a flag has to be worth torching. When a flag gets burned, that’s not a sign of its weakness but of its strength. If you can’t stand the heat of your burning flag, get out of the superpower business. It’s the left that believes the state can regulate everyone into thought-compliance. The right should understand that the battle of ideas is won out in the open.

Fear and Self-Loathing on the Left?

Matt Taibbi is a liberal. Yes, some still exist despite reality. And he gives the American Left a pretty good beating in a feature column. Here's a taste:

[The Left] shies away from hardcore economic issues but howls endlessly about anything that sounds like a free-speech controversy, shrieking about the notorious bugbears of the post-9/11 “police state” (the Patriot Act, Total Information Awareness, CARNIVORE, etc.) in a way that reveals unmistakably, to those who are paying close attention, a not-so-secret desire to be relevant and threatening enough to warrant the extralegal attention of the FBI. It sells scads of Che t-shirts ($20 at the International ANSWER online store) and has a perfected a high-handed tone of moralistic finger-wagging, but its organizational capacity is almost nil. It says a lot, but does very little.

The sad truth is that if the FBI really is following anyone on the American left, it is engaging in a huge waste of time and personnel. No matter what it claims for a self-image, in reality it’s the saddest collection of cowering, ineffectual ninnies ever assembled under one banner on God’s green earth. And its ugly little secret is that it really doesn’t mind being in the position it’s in – politically irrelevant and permanently relegated to the sidelines, tucked into its cozy little cottage industry of polysyllabic, ivory tower criticism. When you get right down to it, the American left is basically just a noisy Upper West side cocktail party for the college-graduate class.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A story you won't read in the New York Times

This Michael Yon piece from late last month is outstanding.

I recall very vaguely hearing on the radio about an Iraqi general being arrested. This is the story of the initiative, courage and professionalism of a lieutenant colonel in the US Army.

You won't be able to stop reading until the end.

Beware Secular Religions?

TCS has a fascinating article where a self-professed atheist DEFENDS religion. The thesis is essentially this:

- If organized religion did not exist it would be replaced by replaced by secularized religions
- Secularized religions that come to mind include communism, socialism, fascism, the welfare state and Al-Gore environmentalism (the last two clearly not comparable in evil and effect of the first three but certainly are pseudo-religions nonetheless)
- Man, generically needs to have faith in something
- Faith in organized religion is much safer than faith in secular religion

The fundamental difference between traditional religions and these secular religions is that secular religions promise us that perfection (heaven) is possible here, on earth, in present times. Conservatives, starting with Eric Voegelin, have long warned against buying into these secular religions by warning us not to "immanentize the eschaton." As Jonah Goldberg explained:

"Immanentize means to make part of the here and now. Eschaton, like eschatology, relates to the branch of theology which deals with humanity's destiny. You know, the end times, when all of that wacky, end-timey, Seventh-Seal stuff happens (oceans boil, the righteous ascend to heaven, Carrot Top is funny, etc). Hence 'immanentizing the eschaton' means, in effect, trying to make what is reserved for the next life part of the here and now."

Even if the secular authors' ire is well-justified, we are never going to live in a world in which the vast majority of people don't have faith in something, whether that something is God or Government. As an atheist I feel much less threatened by someone who is willing to put off perfection by relegating it to another place than I do by someone who thinks they can create it here and now. In other words, I think that the chance that a religion will "poison everything" is indirectly proportional to the length of time the proponents of the religion think it will take to perfect this world. Therefore, nothing scares me more than the demagogue who promises to immediately do just that. Without traditional religion, I think we would have a lot of demagogues in this mold.

Remember that recent great effort to 'perfect' society? Cambodia. ONE-THIRD of the country slaughtered.

Schroeder = Prostitute

This just made me smile.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A leading Democratic lawmaker lashed out at the former leaders of Germany and France, calling former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder a `political prostitute.' Germany denounced the remarks by Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as an insult to its people.

Lantos' comments about Schroeder and former French President Jacques Chirac, both opponents of the Iraq war, came in a speech Tuesday at the dedication of a monument to victims of communism. President Bush spoke at the same event, but did not arrive until after Lantos spoke.

"I am so glad that the era of Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Schroeder in Germany is now gone," Lantos said to applause.

He said when the United States asked Schroeder to support its decision to go to war in Iraq "he told us where to go."

"I referred to him as a political prostitute, now that he's taking big checks from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. But the sex workers in my district objected, so I will no longer use that phrase," Lantos said.

After leaving office in 2005 Schroeder became chairman of the North Europe Gas Pipeline, which is 51 percent owned by the Russian state natural gas company Gazprom.

Who funds CAIR?

Islamic fundamentalists, Hamas sympathizers and other groups whose interests are inimical to those of the United States. From today's Investors Business Daily:

Citing IRS records, the Washington Times reports that CAIR has suffered a whopping 90% decline in membership since 9/11. Its official number of members shrank to 1,700 last year from 29,000 in 2000. As a result, CAIR's annual income from dues sank to $59,000 from $733,000.

Yet over the same period, CAIR's revenues have bounded ahead, reaching $3 million last year. Meanwhile, it has managed to open 25 new chapters in major cities across the country.

So where's it getting its money?

* * *
. . . land records unearthed by Paul Sperry, author of "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington," show that exactly one year after 9/11 — as its dues were drying up — CAIR signed over the deed to its Washington headquarters to a United Arab Emirates-based foundation headed by the ruler of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum's foundation put up almost $1 million for the property, and recently pledged $50 million more to help CAIR build larger headquarters, replenish its legal war chest and fund a nationwide pro-Islam propaganda campaign.

The New York Times earlier this year confirmed that "wealthy Persian Gulf governments" — including the UAE and Saudi Arabia — were backing CAIR. "CAIR has raised some suspicion by accepting large donations from individuals or foundations closely identified with Arab governments," the story said.

We also know from federal court records that CAIR received startup cash from the Holy Land Foundation, which the government has shut down as another Hamas front. Several of its founders — including a senior CAIR official — go on trial next month in Texas for allegedly funneling millions to Hamas for suicide-bomb operations.

That's a slice of the Who's Who for the Islamofascist community.

More bad ideas from a GOP Administration

This is ridiculous:

John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State, and Gordon England, deputy Secretary of Defense, penned this column urging ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty -- a transnational monstrosity designed to erode the authority of sovereign nations and instead vest decision-making power in a Law of the Sea "Authority" (that's the shorthand name of the bureaucracy the treaty created -- the International Seabed Authority).

In 1982, Pres. Reagan rejected the treaty. Pres. Clinton sought to fix it, did so to some degree and signed it, but never presented it to the Senate for ratification. Given the socialist economic basis of the Treaty (see here for more) that would operate as poorly as the pre-Wolfowitz World Bank, there is no reason for the US to sign on.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Fourth Circuit rewinds to 9-10-01

Andy McCarthy rips a decision by the Fourth Circuit, al-Marri v. Wright, indicating that any person who arrives legally in the United States cannot be declared an unlawful enemy combatant by the President and instead is entitled to all protections of the United States criminal justice system. McCarthy describes the holding thus:

"Although it did not conclusively rule on the issue (finding a technical path around it), Judges Motz and Gregory transparently indicated their inclination for finding that any alien who is lawfully present inside the United States is entitled to all the rights and privileges of the Constitution — just as if he were an American citizen."

The decision is merely a panel decision, which means that the Government can seek rehearing en banc (by the full Fourth Circuit). In addition, the panel composition indicates that al-Marri (a terrorist sleeper agent designated as an enemy combatant by the President) hit the jackpot for sympathetic jurists. The author of the opinion is Diana Gibbon Motz, a Clinton appointee. Joining her was Roger Gregory, a recess appointee by President Clinton whom President Bush nominated for a full appointment in 2001 in a politically inane attempt to mollify Democrats opposing his judicial nominees in the wake of the 2000 election.

Hopefully the panel decision will be reviewed by the full court -- the likelihood of the decision surviving en banc review is minimal.

(Cartoon courtesy C&F)

"Tear down this Wall"

Twenty years ago today, President Ronald Reagan ran a rhetorical bulldozer into the Berlin Wall. On June 12, 1987, in a proclamation decrying Soviet totalitarianism and exalting freedom, he stood in front of the Wall, in Berlin, and issued this challenge to the Soviet premier:

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Mark Steyn's obituary of Reagan, who died just over three years ago, is a classic. As usual for links to Steyn's website, the story is available for a limited time only (Steyn does not keep his archives online). Unlike the media and the political elites, Steyn understood the value of Reagan. Here's the opening of his obituary:

All weekend long, across the networks, media grandees who’d voted for Carter and Mondale, just like all their friends did, tried to explain the appeal of Ronald Reagan. He was “the Great Communicator”, he had a wonderful sense of humour, he had a charming smile… self-deprecating… the tilt of his head…

All true, but not what matters. Even politics attracts its share of optimistic, likeable men, and most of them leave no trace – like Britain’s “Sunny Jim” Callaghan, a perfect example of the defeatism of western leadership in the 1970s. It was the era of “détente”, a word barely remembered now, which is just as well, as it reflects poorly on us: the Presidents and Prime Ministers of the free world had decided that the unfree world was not a prison ruled by a murderous ideology that had to be defeated but merely an alternative lifestyle that had to be accommodated. Under cover of “détente”, the Soviets gobbled up more and more real estate across the planet, from Ethiopia to Grenada. Nonetheless, it wasn’t just the usual suspects who subscribed to this feeble evasion – Helmut Schmidt, Pierre Trudeau, François Mitterand – but most of the so-called “conservatives”, too – Ted Heath, Giscard d’Estaing, Gerald Ford.

Unlike these men, unlike most other senior Republicans, Ronald Reagan saw Soviet Communism for what it was: a great evil. Millions of Europeans across half a continent from Poland to Bulgaria, Slovenia to Latvia live in freedom today because he acknowledged that simple truth when the rest of the political class was tying itself in knots trying to pretend otherwise. That’s what counts. He brought down the “evil empire”, and all the rest is details.

ACLU -- undermining US interests through litigation

David Rivkin and Lee Casey discuss how the ACLU is wasting judicial resources by suing a corporation for allegedly helping the CIA transfer terror suspects to Eastern European countries. It's all part of the Left's lawfare against the war.

Leaving aside the lack of legal merit, the ACLU's claims are part of a highly troubling new trend. They are of a piece with a number of other ATS [Alien Tort Statute] lawsuits brought against government contractors, actions filed last year against telecommunications companies alleging that they violated federally protected privacy rights by cooperating with the NSA's data-collection efforts, and an action, filed last March in Minnesota, against several airline passengers who had reported what they believed to be suspicious activity by a group of Muslim imams. The government enjoys legal immunities and other advantages in litigation that private citizens do not have. Moreover, for a private individual, a lawsuit, however meritless, can mean personal financial ruin and, at a minimum, significant disruption in his life. Corporations are similarly subject to costly and distracting litigation.

These are real advantages from an antiwar activist's perspective, since the result is likely to be a marked aversion by the citizenry in general, and government contractors in particular, to engage in conduct, however lawful, supporting the war. This alteration in the corporate mind set, such that risk-averse companies, no matter how patriotic their management, would find it safer to say no to any war-related requests from the federal government is very likely the goal of at least some activists.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Defeat in Iraq worse than Vietnam

according to Peter Rodman and William Shawcross.

Rodman and Shawcross are strange bedfellows having vociferously disagreed over the Vietnam War. They agree in an op-ed piece to the New York Times and that is worth noting. To wit:

The 1975 Communist victory in Indochina led to horrors that engulfed the region. The victorious Khmer Rouge killed one to two million of their fellow Cambodians in a genocidal, ideological rampage. In Vietnam and Laos, cruel gulags and “re-education” camps enforced repression. Millions of people fled, mostly by boat, with thousands dying in the attempt.

The defeat had a lasting and significant strategic impact. Leonid Brezhnev trumpeted that the global “correlation of forces” had shifted in favor of “socialism,” and the Soviets went on a geopolitical offensive in the third world for a decade. Their invasion of Afghanistan was one result. Demoralized European leaders publicly lamented Soviet aggressiveness and American paralysis.
Today, in Iraq, there should be no illusion that defeat would come at an acceptable price. George Orwell wrote that the quickest way of ending a war is to lose it. But anyone who thinks an American defeat in Iraq will bring a merciful end to this conflict is deluded. Defeat would produce an explosion of euphoria among all the forces of Islamist extremism, throwing the entire Middle East into even greater upheaval. The likely human and strategic costs are appalling to contemplate. Perhaps that is why so much of the current debate seeks to ignore these consequences.

As in Indochina more than 30 years ago, millions of Iraqis today see the United States helping them defeat their murderous opponents as the only hope for their country. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have committed themselves to working with us and with their democratically elected government to enable their country to rejoin the world as a peaceful, moderate state that is a partner to its neighbors instead of a threat. If we accept defeat, these Iraqis will be at terrible risk. Thousands upon thousands of them will flee, as so many Vietnamese did after 1975.

The new strategy of the coalition and the Iraqis, ably directed by Gen. David Petraeus, offers the best prospect of reversing the direction of events — provided that we show staying power. Osama bin Laden said, a few months after 9/11, that “when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.” The United States, in his mind, is the weak horse.
American defeat in Iraq would embolden the extremists in the Muslim world, demoralize and perhaps destabilize many moderate friendly governments, and accelerate the radicalization of every conflict in the Middle East.

Our conduct in Iraq is a crucial test of our credibility, especially with regard to the looming threat from revolutionary Iran. Our Arab and Israeli friends view Iraq in that wider context. They worry about our domestic debate, which had such a devastating impact on the outcome of the Vietnam War, and they want reassurance.

When government officials argued that American credibility was at stake in Indochina, critics ridiculed the notion. But when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, he and his colleagues invoked Vietnam as a reason not to take American warnings seriously. The United States cannot be strong against Iran — or anywhere — if we accept defeat in Iraq.

It is beyond contempt that the Party of Benedict Arnold has essentially tied their fortunes to American defeat and strategic disaster for political gain.

Hillary Sinks Peter Pace

A good reminder of why Hillary is despised.

In yesterday’s post, I speculated that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D., NY) is a big winner in the backroom scuttling of the career of Marine general Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Senator Clinton’s colleague on the Armed Services Committee, Chairman Carl Levin (D., MI), successfully intimidated Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Pres. George W. Bush — probably by threatening to put a hold on this and other confirmations. Gates dropped support for General Pace’s two-year renomination and substituted Adm. Mike Mullen as his choice.

The switch benefits Senator Clinton more than any of the other presidential candidate because she will not have to cast a high-profile vote either for, or against, General Pace. Activists for gays in the military oppose General Pace, but he is an exemplary Marine who is respected by the troops.

Clinton and her feminist friends will also benefit from an ideological perspective. Based on statements he has made as Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Mullen is likely to say and do things that will make Hillary’s heart sing. Better yet, liberal policies proposed or implemented by Admiral Mullen will have the political cover of an apparent “Republican” label.

Read both posts. Here and here.


What he said

Dennis Miller treats Harry Reid like my shredder treats my old paperwork.

This is great stuff.

Denver: an enviro-wacko stronghold

Global Warming fears in Denver (which is having one of its coldest Spring seasons ever) have led the city to start one of the most ambitious, useless and costly to the consumer plans for combatting the non-existent global warming threat. I especially love the last part of this quote:

To cut back on use of landfills - methane gas from landfills is a major contributor to global warming - the plan would encourage recycling and charge residents for the amount of trash they throw away.

Denver may ask voters to approve higher rates for "excessive" use of electricity and natural gas. The plan also floats the idea of using insurance premiums to penalize people who drive long distances.

"You can think of them as penalties or you can think of them as market signals," said [Beth] Conover [of Greenpoint Denver]. "There's some choice involved."

One man's penalty is his government's "market signal".

Friday, June 08, 2007

The piece of s**t bill that isn't dead

The best thing about yesterday's failed final cloture vote on the immigration reform bill, which lost 45-50 (for-against) after a previous vote honked by 33-63 (we noted that one, see below), is that it caused Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to pull the bill. The worst thing is that this "piece of s**t" bill, as John Boehner called it, isn't dead. Like the original terminator, it may be battered and skinned, but the core can emerge from the flames, red-eyed and angry, to try to kill again.

Ultimately, yesterday's failed cloture vote proved that occasionally Senators actually do smarten up and listen to the voters, who overwhelmingly disdain the bill regardless of whether they are liberal (don't like guestworker status, want amnesty, no border wall) or conservative (don't like free pass for illegals, don't like point system, want enforcement against illegals first). Indeed, Mickey Kaus' dislike of the bill provided good reasons for even moderate liberals to think the thing stank to high heaven.

Ultimately, immigration reform could be passed in smaller pieces, bit by bit. But that's where the moderates cannot win: if enforcement and more restrictive immigration is priority one, liberals will balk; if the Senate seeks amnesty first, the conservatives will kill it. And because the federal government and business interests are each inclined to loosen border control as a default position, any acceptable legislation MUST begin with greater enforcement and prevention as its core.

No matter what happens, though, when Ted Kennedy and George W. Bush are in agreement, the bill in question will not be effective for obtaining the underlying conservative goals Bush allegedly espouses (four words: No Child Left Behind). It's like mixing dog feces and ice cream together -- it tastes more like the dog poo.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Possible good sign

The cloture motion in the Senate to limit debate on the currently preposterous immigration bill failed miserably: 63-33. All Republicans except McCain (no vote) voted against, and 15 Democrats ranging from moderate (Pryor, Bingaman) to far left (Dorgan, Sanders) joined the Republicans.

Evidently, Sen. McConnell gave the signal to the Republicans to keep talking.

Iran is arming the Taliban

ABC News reports that NATO intercepted arms shipments from Iran to the Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

"It is inconceivable that it is anyone other than the Iranian government that's doing it," said former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant.

* * *

[A]n analysis by a senior coalition official, obtained by the Blotter on, concludes there is clear evidence of Iran's involvement.

"This is part of a considered policy," says the analysis, "rather than the result of low-level corruption and weapons smuggling."

Iran and the Taliban had been fierce enemies when the Taliban was in power in Afghanistan, and their apparent collaboration came as a surprise to some in the intelligence community.

Two points. First, that Richard Clarke who consults for ABC News is the famous anti-Bush former counterterrorism czar. Therefore, his statements should wake up the Democrats (but they won't).

Second, any people in the intelligence community who STILL do not believe that the Iranians would collaborate with Sunnis (Taliban, al Qaeda) against the United States and/or NATO should be fired. Our "intelligence" community cannot sustain such institutional stupidity.

Then again, what could we expect from the same US government that set up al-Hurra to counter al-Jazeera, only to have our taxpayer dollars finance terrorism apologia and Holocaust denial, as Joel Mowbray notes.

26 years ago today -- The Raid on the Sun

Israel announced it had destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq. The Monk likes how Israel ripped the French and Italians for supplying the nuke plant. Of course, France's most Arabist and anti-Semitic President, who was then its Foreign Minister, led international complaints against Israel. That man? The execrable Jacques Chirac.

Still waiting for a reprise -- this time against the Iranians.

63 years ago yesterday

Was D-Day -- the Normandy invasion.

Back then, leaders had some perspective, as this archive BBC report shows:

King George VI broadcast a message last night warning of the "supreme test" the Allies faced and he called on the nation to pray for the liberation of Europe.

* * *

President Franklin D Roosevelt told a news conference the invasion did not mean the war was over.

He said: "You don't just walk to Berlin, and the sooner this country realises that the better."

The BBC has even more, including this neat animation.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Joe Scarborough -- dumba**

In a nutshell, here are the facts:

(1) Fred Thompson divorced his first wife during the Reagan Administration; (2) he remained single for years; (3) he fell for a Republican consultant 24+ years younger than him and she accepted his marriage proposal; (4) she's 40 (he's 64) and they have two kids together; (5) she's a LOT prettier than him.

Joe Scarborough, former GOP Congressman from Florida asked a guest: "You think she works the pole?"

If Scarborough said that about Monkette, I'd knock him on his ass.

"Work the pole" is a reference to a stripper, no matter what lame spin MSNBC tries to put on it. Anyone reasonably familiar with current culture knows that (see: Chris Rock's classic riff on a father's duty to his daughter -- keep her off the pole).

So here's a presidential candidate who's succeeded in a relationship with an attractive woman and of course the media concentrates on the woman's attractiveness, not the fact that she has the intellect and savvy to have been a successful political operator. It's so bad that some heretofore unremarkable Boston Herald columnist is getting her 15 minutes of national fame because she wrote a column griping about the fact that McCain's wife (52) had a tight top on while showing Greta Van Susteren around the McCain house and Mrs. Thompson wore a knockout dress at a recent event. In other words, it's some sort of scandal that they showed some cleavage.


Shoot, if these women can wear the clothes well, why complain? Honestly. Is it because liberal feminists are exactly the flat-chested bitter shrews that the stereotypes of them portray? Is it because Hillary is sexless and unattractive at any angle (heck, even my ma commented on her fat ankles during the 1992 campaign)?

And it is repulsive that the same liberals who decry society for both viewing only young women as attractive and then enforcing a thin-is-beautiful look that reaches these extremes would now gripe about a little exposure for highly attractive moms. Look: if Judy Nathan doesn't look right due to age-inappropriateness or something else in X outfit or Jeri Thompson can't hack wearing Y dress, that's one thing. But if they can light up a room long after the shelf life runs out for the average Hollywood starlet, they should be saluted and not villified.

That said, were I Fred Thompson, I'd still knock Scarborough on his ass.