Friday, December 01, 2006

More "Progressives" and Their "Free Speech"

Here.

Reader Challenge: Find me an example of on-campus conservatives violently disrupting a speech by a liberal. (You can't do it.) But liberals routinely throw pies, rush podiums, throw furniture, and make death threats to stifle conservative arguments.

Liberals have adopted physical assault as the favored means of opposing -- and punishing -- conservative viewpoints.

But they call us "fascists."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dems: Cleaning House!

Congressional Democrats have spent the last two years repeating the following mantra about the GOP: "Culture of Corruption." Nancy Pelosi insisted before the midterms that, should the Democrats regain a majority, they would "clean house." At long last, Americans were assured, those wicked, corrupt Republicans would be supplanted by honest, squeaky-clean Democrats.

Uh huh.

So how's the house cleaning going so far?

For starters, Speaker Pelosi (*shudder*) nominated Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha for House Majority Leader. Murtha, it should be recalled, got snared in the ABSCAM sting back in the 1970s, when an undercover FBI agent caught him on videotape agreeing to "do business" with a fake sheik who was promising cash for political favors. To be fair, the Democrats shot Murtha down the other day, selecting Steny Hoyer, who -- well, who HASN'T been caught on tape agreeing to accept bribes, for the post. But that doesn't mitigate the fact that Pelosi made Murtha her pick.

Now, guess who's in line to take over as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee? Alcee Hastings. Remember that name? A quick refresher (thanks to Byron York at NRO): Hastings was a federal judge in Florida (Carter appointee), who got caught up in a huge bribery scandal and was subsequently impeached by the House (413-3). Among the Articles of Impeachment leveled at Hastings was that he leaked confidential wiretap information to a buddy to help him evade a corruption investigation.

And now he's the Democrat who will likely preside over, and have access to, some of the most sensitive, secret information our government possesses and uses to protect us from our enemies. I wonder what price he'll charge in exchange for CIA work product. I wonder who he'll do business with.

After the national temper tantrum that was the midterm election . . . are we feeling safer yet? Are we now feeling good about our Congressional leaders? Is America "on the right track" again?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fake Racism

One of the most deeply held tenets of American "progressives" is that the U.S. remains a horribly bigoted society -- one in which minorities (particularly blacks) cannot hope to overcome the wicked forces that subjugate them, in the absence of laws and policies that give them preferential treatment, handouts, and the like. I oppose this point of view for two reasons: (1) it is insulting to those many black Americans who are fully capable of succeeding on a level playing field, and (2) its premise (that we remain a virtual slaveholding nation) is dishonest and wrong.

Perhaps it is the incredible weakness of the America-Is-Racist premise that leads some black Americans to do things like staging fake racism to evoke outrage. The latest example comes from Edinborough University in Pennsylvania, where a black student hacked into another student's email account and sent racist, threatening email to 20 other black students.

A 2003 news article from San Francisco's Golden Gate Xpress Online collects a number of similar incidents from the past several years, including one in which members of Duke's Black Student Alliance staged the fake symbolic lynching of a black baby doll on campus to inspire outrage. Then they lied about having done it. Then they admitted it.

Other examples include the famous Tawana Brawley, who (championed by Al Sharpton) falsely claimed to have been raped by six white men. And, as the Xpress article points, out, this phenomenon is by no means limited to blacks, but includes gays and other minorities.

If it is true that racism is so prevalent in our society, shouldn't there be enough authentic incidents for "progressives" to point to without having to resort to concocting fakes? Of course. Conversely, if there really aren't many examples of hate crimes for progressives to trot out as evidence of our evil ways, then . . . well, shouldn't folks be happy about that? Clearly not. The Left's "progressive" agenda runs on the fuel of hate and indignation. Where none exists, it must be manufactured. Like ethanol. Otherwise the major constituencies of the Democratic Party might stop believing that they are helpless to lead productive, happy lives without the intervention of the kindly, wise politicians and the generous gifts of other people's money.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I Pledge Allegiance To . . . My Socialist Leanings

Right on cue: A bunch of California college students have rejected the Pledge of Allegiance.

Okay. If it grates you a little bit that the phrase "under God" appears in the Pledge, I'm sympathetic. I'm of a mind that freedom of religion includes freedom to practice none at all. But if that's your beef, why not simply recite the Pledge without saying that particular phrase? Take it away, Jason Bell:
"That ('under God') part is sort of offensive to me," student trustee Jason Bell, who proposed the ban, told Reuters. "I am an atheist and a socialist, and if you know your history, you know that 'under God' was inserted during the McCarthy era and was directly designed to destroy my ideology."
Yes, Jason. And if you know your history, you know that socialism has destroyed millions and millions and millions of lives. But you're more comfortable swearing your allegiance to that defective ideology than to the principles of liberty and justice that are prominently featured in the Pledge. Nice.

But perhaps I'm being unfair. Perhaps these students are true American patriots, and not simply sterotypically infantile, Che Guevara-wannabe, self-styled "revolutionaries." Er . . .
The move was lead by three recently elected student trustees, who ran for office wearing revolutionary-style berets and said they do not believe in publicly swearing an oath to the American flag and government at their school.

Bell said the ban largely came about because the trustees didn't want to publicly vow loyalty to the American government before their meetings. "Loyalty ought to be something the government earns through performance, not through reciting a pledge," he said.
Exactly. These kids aren't anti-pledge. They're anti-American revolutionaries. They're also not terribly bright. Because the Pledge does not contain any language suggesting an oath of allegiance to the government. To the flag, yes, and also to the Republic itself -- not to the present administration. Observe:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands: One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Where's the reference to the government? It's not there. Perhaps it is this stellar reading-comprehension acumen that landed these children in "Orange Coast College" in the first place.

Aftermath

I don't have much to say about the election results. It'll be interesting to see how the Dems handle their newfound majority status. Frankly, with only a slim Democratic majority in the Senate, it's unlikely that anything wacky is going to happen from a legislative standpoint over the next two years. On the other hand, we can probably forget about getting any more decent judges confirmed during the balance of the Bush presidency.

The real question is what (if anything) this election portends for 2008. I would expect the Democrats to spend the next two years serving subpoenas and taking shots at the White House in order to build momentum for the next presidential election. The whole "culture of curruption" meme lives on.

But, what do I know?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More "Fair and Balanced" Times Coverage

A New York Times article by Adam Nagourney notes (correctly, I think) that Democrats' expectations for todays elections are so high that anything short of a massive sea change may prove disappointing to the party faithful.

What's striking to me about the article is Nagourney's inability to refrain from chalking the possibily inflated expectations up to a Rovian conspiracy:

"Republicans, of course, may have decided that they have a Machiavellian interest in setting up Democrats with inflated expectations."

Ah, the old Machiavellian set-up job. A nefarious plot. Sure. That was the plan all along. Nagourney fails to consider that the Times' own incessant Democrat cheerleading (and that of CNN, CBS, Gallup, Zogby, etc.) may in fact be a more likely cause of the present mental state of the Democratic party.

And still, my liberal friends see nothing slanted about the Times.

Election Day

I love Election Day. I just find it invigorating to cast a ballot and to watch our democratic process in action.

Of course, there's a downside to Election Day. It's called fraud. And it's all too easy to commit, since many states (including my home state of Pennsylvania) do not require voters to show photo ID to cast their ballots. This morning I walked into my polling station, announced my name, was handed a card, signed the card, and proceeded to the voting machine. I can only imagine what procedures like this lead to in North Philly.

"Name, please?"

"Johnson. Michael Johnson."

"Ah yes, here it is. Hmm, we actually have 36 Michael Johnsons registered. Are you a Democrat or a Republican, Sir?"

"Democrat."

"Well in that case, how many of these 36 ballots would you like to cast?"

The irony is that Democrats insist on accusing Republicans of voter fraud, "intimidation," and "stealing" elections, despite that the repeated investigations conducted by liberal partisans after the 2004 election turned up no evidence of such conduct by the GOP whatsoever.

On the other hand, Democrats' efforts to rig elections abound. Just this week, the uber-leftist "action" group ACORN got caught submitting false registration forms in several states. The group's tactics include registering dead people, giving crack cocaine to homeless people to obtain their signatures, and forgery. Oh, and there was that little election-fraud conspiracy in Missouri in 2004, in which Democratic party officials committed a range of offenses included bribery, extortion and attempted murder.

Is it surprising that ACORN has spearheaded the Left's efforts to PREVENT photo ID requirements from being implemented? Is there any reasonable basis for NOT requiring photo ID at the polling place? We require it at banks, in cars, at airports, even at many workplaces, including (especially) government jobs. But the mew from the Left is that it's intimidating to require photo ID from minorities.

It's only intimidating to be asked for photo ID if you have done -- or are doing -- something illegal. Like voting under a false name. I simply don't buy the argument that, in 2006, black voters are cowed in their own neighborhoods by the local volunteers who staff polling centers, simply by being asked to show identification. It doesn't pass the smell test.

Anyhow. This election's results likely won't be clear tonight. Expect the Dems to gain in both houses, but not by as much as they want. Which means we'll have another round of trumped-up challenges by the same people who traded crack for votes. [As in '04, I expect they'll file eleventh-hour injunctions to keep polling places open so that the unregistered college students they spent the afternoon rounding up in vans get a chance to cast their illegal ballots.] And it may takes days or weeks to sort out some of the most hotly contested races. Ain't democracy great?

Yes it is.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Disgusting

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutman held her annual Halloween party at her home this week.

And smilingly posed for a picture with Saad Saadi, who dressed as a suicide bomber. Click on the "Democracy Project" link below for details. The picture links aren't working.

(h/t The Democracy Project)

Who Are Terrorists Rooting For In Next Week's Elections?

Why, the Democrats, of course.

Aaron Klein of World Net Daily provides the scoop. Some excerpts:

"Of course Americans should vote Democrat," Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group and the infamous leader of the 2002 siege of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, told WND.

* * * *

Muhammad Saadi, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, said the Democrats' talk of withdrawal from Iraq makes him feel "proud."

"As Arabs and Muslims we feel proud of this talk," he told WND. "Very proud from the great successes of the Iraqi resistance. This success that brought the big superpower of the world to discuss a possible
withdrawal."

* * * *

Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip, said the policy of withdrawal "proves the strategy of the resistance is the right strategy against the occupation."

* * * *

Abu Ayman, an Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, said he is "emboldened" by those in America who compare the war in Iraq to Vietnam.

"[The mujahedeen fighters] brought the Americans to speak for the first time seriously and sincerely that Iraq is becoming a new Vietnam and that they should fix a schedule for their withdrawal from Iraq," boasted Abu Ayman.

* * * *

Jaara said vacating Iraq would also "reinforce Palestinian resistance organizations, especially from the moral point of view. But we also learn from these (insurgency) movements militarily. We look and learn
from them."

Hamas' Abu Abdullah argued a withdrawal from Iraq would "convince those among the Palestinians who still have doubts in the efficiency of the resistance."

"The victory of the resistance in Iraq would prove once more that when the will and the faith are applied victory is not only a slogan. We saw that in Lebanon (during Israel's confrontation against Hezbollah there
in July and August); we saw it in Gaza (after Israel withdrew from the territory last summer) and we will see it everywhere there is occupation," Abdullah said.

You heard em, folks. Vote Democrat on Tuesday.

(h/t Power Line)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism is the notion that we shouldn't judge other cultures and their different beliefs, and that we must accept and accommodate their ways of life when they decide to move into our society.

Why is it bad?

Here's why.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Divinely Inspired Leaders: A Comparison

Quds day is an Iranian holiday started by the Ayatollah Khomeini. It's basically a hatefest. The Western media ignores it. Fortunately, MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) does not.

MEMRI reports on how Iranian President Ahmadinejad is marking the occasion this year:

President Ahmadinejad gave a series of speeches leading up to and on Quds Day. At an Iftar address on October 14, he discussed his "connection with God" and said: "The president of America is like us. That is, he too is inspired ... but [his] inspiration is of the satanic kind. Satan gives inspiration to the president of America."

Mr. Ahmadinejad delivered his Quds Day speech under a banner that read, "Israel must be wiped off the face of the world." He described the holiday as "a day for confrontation between the Islamic faith with the global arrogance."

In another speech, he said Israel was "doomed" and promised that the Israeli "regime will be gone, definitely."

The words "the Zionist regime is a cancerous gland that needs to be uprooted" were written in a communiqué from the Iranian Foreign Ministry in honor of the holiday. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki held a meeting for other Islamic countries'
ambassadors to Iran and told them that Israel's existence would be shattered and
that death bells were tolling for the Zionists. At the meeting, the Palestinian Arab ambassador to Tehran, Salah Zawawi, said, "The day for the liberation of Quds Day is close at hand."


Aside from the fact that Ahmadinejad is a Jew-hating anti-Western zealot, here's what grates my undercarriage about all of this: Here in the U.S., Democrats having been sounding the alarm for more than six years about the "dangerous" religiousity of President Bush. The fact that he is a literalist Christian, we are told, suggests that he will do all sorts of irrational and inhuman things, just because he believes he is doing God's work. He thinks himself a Crusader of Christ. He seeks to impose his theocratic vision on the world. And so forth. The Left is perpetually apoplectic about President Bush's Christianity.

As a result, the Far Left engages in assassination fantasies and weeps for the death of Western civilization.

Now take Ahmadinejad. He has repeated, over and over, his belief that all non-Muslims must convert or die. He has regularly proclaimed that Israel will be destroyed and that it's his country's right to develop nuclear weapons in pursuit of that end. America, too, is evil according to this Mouthpiece of the Prophet, and its uppance will come. He claims to have witnessed the coming of the 12th Imam, and he even contends that while he addressed the U.N., Allah infused the assembled delegates with his spirit so that they all sat, rapt, and divinely engulfed by his words.

The reaction from liberals? Threat shmeat. We need to talk with him. If only we could stop being so belligerent, and sit down and listen, we could work all of this out. We could come to some agreement, some arrangement, so that he'll stop wanting to destroy us. Maybe if we just jettison the Jews . . . .

Bush must die, but Ahmadinejad must be reasoned with. A dangerously large plurality of this country is delusionally suicidal.

(h/t Power Line)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This Just In . . .

Report: Sex Is Always On Men's Minds.

UPI breaks another shocking story.

Too Stupid to Govern

I may be conservative in a lot of ways, but I am not a Rick Santorum-style social conservative. Nevertheless, I cannot fathom the thought of Bob Casey becoming one of Pennsylvania's Senators. He is, not to put too fine a point on it, a doofus.

Here he is in a Philly Inquirer interview, showing off his vapidity on the subject of warrantless NSA wiretaps:
Interviewer: Let me ask you to shift gears to the anti-terrorism initiatives. Last night in the debate, I think you said that you'd support warrant- less wiretapping. How does that square with your suspicion about this White House? Why would you be willing to let them do that without judicial oversight? And on the Military Commissions Act, would that have been something you would have supported? In general, your outlook on anti terrorism initiatives.
Casey: Yeah, I think going backwards the, with regard to the detainees and interrogation, look, we've had people like John McCain, and you could give other examples as well, but people who have looked at this for a long time who have been very serious about making sure that we are very tough in our interrogation, that we get as much information as possible from those we detain and interrogate and also John McCain, showing the kind of independence that Rick Santorum never seems to show, took on the administration and I think they, based upon their experience, I think they got it right and I think I would have support that. Secondly, on the question of wiretaps, my position all along has been we've got to do everything possible and give every tool that government agencies need, intelligence, law enforcement, give them the tools they need to fight this war on terror. And I think we, in terms of wire tapping, whether its terrorists, known terrorists, or suspected terrorists, we've gotta give this government all the tools it can. And I think what we've seen in the past is the system that has been setup when its operated according to the law, and when the administration goes and puts a wiretap in place and then comes back later and gets a warrant after the fact, the system that has been setup is a pretty solid system, but they often don't comply with it. You can support having a lot of tough wiretapping, but also support the kind of tough oversight of the administration, which I think has been lacking. And I think we can have the two in balance at right.
Interviewer: Well, it might have been misreported this morning, but it certainly seemed to me as if you were endorsing the NSA program which is warrant less wiretapping without court oversight.
Casey: Well, I think, look, my position all along has been you've got to have the ability to wiretap known or suspected terrorists, and I am going to make sure that everything I do in this area is focused on anti terrorism and making sure that we are being as tough as possible to ferret out any kind of plot or and kind of terrorist activity.
Interviewer: Bob, it's real simple, and it seems to me you are dancing around it. Either you believe that the President or his designees need to go to the FISA court and provide some probable cause for the wiretapping, or you don't. They say they don't. They say they can do it on their own say so and there's no oversight of whether the person they're wiretapping is actually credibly a terrorist suspect or not. That's the issue. Do they have to go through the FISA court or not? Nobody's
debating that we need to wiretap suspected terrorists.
Casey: You know very well that Senator Specter has worked very hard on this to try to get this right and I think with bi-partisan cooperation, working with people like Senator Specter, as I know I can, that we can get this right. I don't, I don't, I don't see what the...
Interviewer: It's a real simple question. Do they need to go through the FISA Court as the FISA law has said since 1973 or don't they? They say they don't. We say they do. What do you say?
Casey: I think it's worked well.
Interviewer: What has worked well?
Casey: I think it's worked well when you use that system and you use it in the context of making sure that we are doing everything possible to, to...
Interviewer: So, are you saying that the president has been breaking the law since 2002, or whenever the NSA program started?
Casey: I'm saying that people like Senator Specter have a lot of questions about whether or not the law was broken. I don't think anyone has made a determination about that. I think that's pretty clear.
Here's a candidate for the United States Senate, speaking with a sympathetic reporter from newspaper that universally endorses Democrats, and he can't answer a simple question without devolving into an Abbott and Costello routine.

Our nation has 100 Senators at any given time. Should this guy be one of them?

(h/t The Corner)

UPDATE (9:24 p.m.) By the way, when we Republican types talk about liberal bias in the media, this is the sort of thing we're talking about. Did you notice this "question" in the interview:

Interviewer: It's a real simple question. Do they need to go through the FISA Court as the FISA law has said since 1973 or don't they? They say they don't. We say they do. What do you say?

Spinning the contents of a complex statute (that has been subject to critically important Supreme Court analysis) and unabashedly taking a position on a contentious political issue. But Fox gets excoriated as hypocritical for calling itself fair and balanced.

Monday, October 23, 2006

See Smoke? CALL 9-1-1

Usually, that admonition makes sense -- if the smoke is billowing out of a building that also happens to be engulfed in flames.  But, proving that there is no limit to nanny-state idiocy, the city of Omaha, Nebraska is encouraging citizens to dial the emergy response number if they see people smoking cigarettes, in violation of the recently enacted ban on smoking in public places.

One can debate the merits of banning smoking in public places.  But what sensible argument can be made to support the proposition that a city's police, fire, and medical emergency resources should be tied up enforcing such a law?  I can think of none.

But the state knows what's best for us.  Do as you're told.

I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I'm looking forward to the first fiasco where a citizen in Omaha is unable to get help in a real emergency because the 911 lines are jammed with anti-smoking tattletales.

Morons.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Consent

This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Price of Elitism

The New York Times' profits are down 39%. That's what happens when you have a national audience, treat it like it's comprised of morons, and refuse to make your content accessible on the internet at no charge.

Relatedly, Air America, the "liberal" radio talk network, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week.

Freedom of Misinformation

I have written on previous occasions about anti-Israel bias in the reporting of various Western news agencies. It is no secret to those who follow the U.K. press that the BBC itself has perpetrated some of the worst anti-Israel propaganda in the English-speaking world (it's not quite up to Al Jazeera status, but close sometimes).

So it's fascinating to learn that the BBC is the subject of a report that, it is widely believed, exposes this bias in a comprehensive fashion. The 2004 report, the result of an internal investigation by BBC senior editorial advisor Michael Balen, has thus far been concealed from the public. And the BBC is now waging a fierce legal battle to prevent its release.

The irony here is that the lawsuit seeking the report's release was filed pursuant to Britain's Freedom of Information Act, a law that the press uses regularly to uncover information in government records. The BBC is a hybrid press-government organization. It is publicly funded and dominates the British broadcast media. Its nothing-to-see-here-folks effort in this instance speaks volumes in answer to the question whether the BBC views itself as an equal-opportunity disseminator of information or an advocate for specific (read: anti-Israel) points of view.

Keep an eye on this one.

(h/t Dan Collins guest-blogging at Protein Wisdom)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Multi-Culti Madness

Since Europe has decided to function as the world's petri dish for excessive "multiculturalism," it behooves us to pay attention to the experiment. Consider this: A British school girl was placed in a science-project group with five other students. The girl complained that the other students didn't speak English -- they only spoke Urdu, a language spoken primarily in Pakistan. The result of her complaint?

The student was arrested for making a "racially insensitive remark."

This is the kind of P.C. garbage that the American Left seeks to impose, primarily where Spanish is concerned. Just imagine if your child were placed in a work group in school with children who spoke no English. Suppose that your child objected because the language barrier would make it impossible to collaborate with the other students and, thus, impossible to satisfactorily complete the assigned classwork. Should your child be arrested? Or required to endure the situation and fail the assignment? In order to be culturally "sensitive"?

There are people -- Americans, even -- who think so. Are you going to vote for them next month?

There is nothing "racist" or "insensitive" about expecting people who move to a country where a particular language is spoken to learn that language and to use it in their public lives. My great-grandparents did it. Soo, too, did the ancestors of just about any American reading this blog.

If an American moved to Mexico, would he be entitled to get away with not learning Spanish? If a Brit moved to Pakistan, do you suppose similar accommodations would be made? Of course not.

Wake up, wake up. This madness is becoming our near future.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Modest (and Insane) Proposal

British Tory MP Boris Johnson suggests in today's London Telegraph that the solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff may be simply to "Give Iran The Bomb." In fairness, Johnson makes it clear that he's not advocating this, necessarily. He's just "running it up the flagpole" because nobody can think of anything better.

I'll give Johnson the benefit of the doubt and take the piece as at least partly tongue-in-cheek. I hope so, anyway, not least because Johnson's thesis rests on the fundamental misimpressions that (1) Iran will be deterred from using nukes by Israel's retaliatory capability, (2) Iranians would feel "grateful" and "engaged" toward the West if we nuclearized them, and (3) Iran is moving "towards pluralism."

I'll chalk that all up to wishful thinking, rather than an intent to deceive. I must be feeling charitable today. I won't feel so charitable if Johnson's Democrat friends on this side of the Atlantic start to echo the sentiment. On the other hand, it would be political suicide for them, so . . . quick! Somebody call Dennis Kucinich!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

North Korea: It's The Economy, Stupid

It's always nice to read an article that bolsters my own view of things. That's why I was pleased to find Dan Collins' (guest-blogging over at Protein Wisdom) link to this Times of London piece by former-Leftist-turned-normal-human-being David Aaronovitch.

Aaronovitch agrees that for Kim Jong Il, the pursuit of nuclear weapons is far less likely to be a military strategy than it is -- at bottom -- an economic one. He writes:

The irony of North Korea’s state policy of juche — or complete self-reliance — is that it has been maintained largely through foreign aid or subsidy. Under pressure from China, Pyongyang has tinkered with economic reform, but its limited policies have backfired, pushing up basic prices without creating new industries. The country today is immiserated, defenceless against natural disasters and prone to famine.

It could well be that the regime sees a possibility in bargaining the development and deployment of its new weapon against substantial further aid.


Aaronovitch expresses slightly stronger concern than I do regarding the consequences of Kim's nukes, but his brow furrows for the same reason mine does: proliferation to terrorists and to more offensive-minded regimes. He glumly (and in my view correctly) concludes that the United Nations can do little about it and is inclined to do even less. Ditto China, which is the only single nation in the world that holds any appreciable (if still limited) influence in North Korean affairs.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Yawn?


So, Kim Jong Il has finally conducted his nuclear test. And the whole world is shocked -- SHOCKED -- at the audacity of it all.

I may be the only person in the world who doesn't view North Korea as a major threat to the U.S. Kim is insane, and irrational actors can be dangerous indeed, but I don't think his brand of insanity tends toward dreams of world domination or the utter destruction of his enemies.

I think Kim seeks nukes as nothing more than a bargaining chip. Ditto his missile tests. His regime is dependent on the outside world to prop up its completely failed pseudo-communist economy. By developing nuclear weapons, he perceives that he can wrest even greater concessions out of the West. And he's probably right, given the way Europe prefers to handle threat-spewing dictators (talk, talk, talk, talk, talk . . .). Kim lives the good life while his people suffer. His goal is to remain in power and to continue being worshipped as a god by millions of starving dupes. He won't take any action that's likely to bring his party to an end.

Thus, Kim is never going to launch a nuclear strike at the U.S. The only real danger his possession of nukes (or ICMB technology) poses to us is the danger of proliferating the technology to terrorist groups or to other nations (e.g., Iran) that have a greater inclination to use them offensively. And that's no small concern. But it's no more cause for concern than Russia, which -- despite probably lacking an intentional policy of arming terrorists -- has permitted the arsenal of the former U.S.S.R. to become the subject of an international black-market fire sale.

Regionally, Kim is a problem. His development of nukes changes the equation in a very delicate dance involving Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and even (to a lesser extent) Vietnam. Japan might perceive the need to develop a nuclear deterrent, for example, which would spook the Chinese, who have designs on Taiwan and might seek to flex a little in response . . . and so on. All of which could complicate things for the U.S. (particularly because of our military presence in South Korea and commitment to Tai independence). But I just don't see mushroom clouds in the U.S. as the likely progeny of Pacific Rim tension. Perhaps I'm naive.

(Of course, if mushroom clouds in the U.S. are your cup of tea, be sure and check out the new hit CBS drama, "Jericho.")

Friday, October 06, 2006

British Jihad (Updated)

That's right. Jihad in Europe: It's not just for the French anymore.

Although it's no secret that radical Islam has infected British society, things are starting to get violent there, catching up with developments in France (see my "French Intifada" post, below, for details).

According to the British Daily Express, "[t]he outbreak of disorder began after a mother and her daughter were set upon by a gang of 20 Asian youths armed with baseball bats, iron bars and pitchforks."

Note that in Britain, like in the U.S., the media shy away from describing the assailants in a meaningful way. The issue here is not "Asian youths," it's radical Muslims. This is apparent from the chants of the "youths" as they terrorized the Queen's hometown: "Meanwhile, scores of Asian youths marched through the streets chanting 'We are getting our mosque.'" Is it their Asian-ness that's relevant here? Or is it something else?

If only we infidels would simply submit to Allah, all of this unpleasantness could be avoided. How unreasonable we are.

UPDATE (10:40 a.m.): Speaking of British jihad, there's also this little item in The Scotsman. Seems a 15-year-old (white) boy was abducted, stabbed, set on fire, and killed.
MURDERED schoolboy Kriss Donald pleaded: "I'm only 15. What did I do?" as he was beaten up and dragged into the back of a car by his abductors, a court heard yesterday.

His attackers? Imran Shahid, 29, Zahid Mohammed, 22, Zeeshan Shahid, 29, and Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq, 27.

Another heroic victory for the Religion of Peace.

(h/t Power Line)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Primary Reason Now A Technorati Member

Technorati Profile

And the tentacles reach further still.

The French Intifada

According to an article in today's London Telegraph, "Radical Muslims in France's housing estates are waging an undeclared "intifada" against the police, with violent clashes injuring an average of 14 officers each day."

Interesting. Surely this has nothing to do with support for the Great Satan (The U.S.) or the Little Satan (Israel), since France has worked earnestly to support neither in international affairs. So what's this all about? Is it simply poor immigrants who are lashing out because the French are refusing to let them assimilate? Hardly. The French police -- who are the only people in France who have to deal with the problem -- recognize that it's something quite different:

Michel Thoomis, the secretary general of the hardline Action Police trade union, has written to Mr Sarkozy warning of an "intifada" on the estates and demanding that officers be given armoured cars in the most dangerous areas. He said yesterday: "We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists. This is not a question of urban violence any more, it is an intifada, with stones and Molotov cocktails. You no longer see two or three youths confronting police, you see whole tower blocks emptying into the streets to set their 'comrades' free when they are arrested." He added: "We need armoured vehicles and water cannon. They are the only things that can disperse crowds of hundreds of people who are trying to kill police and burn their vehicles."


This violence is not occurring because Muslim immigrants are unable to integrate themselves into their new nation. It's occurring because their new nation refuses (so far) to capitulate to the ways of the Muslim immigrants. And this is but a preview of coming attractions.

How long is it going to take before Europeans (and American "liberals") realize what's going on? Before they realize that radical Islam cannot be placated, appeased, pandered to or negotiated with? How much violence will western nations have to endure before we wake up and understand that these extremists will accept nothing short of our capitulation?

Unfortunately, capitulation is France's speciality. It's going to get worse, not better, in the French suburbs.

I wonder what the international climate will look like a decade or two down the road when (1) the Muslim population of Europe is double (or more) what it is now and has been permitted to erect mini-states (replete with Sharia law) within European nations, and (2) Iran has a nuclear arsenal because the West refused to take any action to prevent it. Will we be better off for having bent over backwards to make nice with the "Religion of Peace"? Will be be safer from terrorism? Will we have more options, or fewer, in our efforts to secure our countries?

Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Any Worse

Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khameini has forbidden Muslims to masturbate during Ramadan. I'll bet by the time the holiday comes to an end some of those boys will be ready to just EXPLODE.

Insensitive? You bet. But you get the joke, which means there's some truth in there. It's a good thing my readership is pretty small, otherwise the footsoldiers of the "Religion of Peace" would probably burn down an embassy or two just to show me how offended they are by the implication that they are prone to senseless violence.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Welcome, City Journal Readers

Seems the City Journal (a site I've known and frequented for some time) has linked to my Fox News post (Brian C. Anderson, who wrote the L.A. Times piece I linked to, is a senior editor at CJ). Much appreciated. Take a look around and be sure to come on back if you like what you see so far.

Shame and No Shame

(Now-former) Congressman Mark Foley (R. FL) has become a household name this week; it was revealed that Foley solicited sex (repeatedly and graphically) from a male, teenage Congressional page. The texts of instant messages (sort of like live emails, for the non-techies out there) were provided by, well, someone to ABC News. And now they're public. And they're disgusting. I don't think any actual sexual acts took place, but it doesn't matter.

Foley deserves everything that will now happen to him. He has already resigned, and criminal prosecution will follow. What's nearly as galling as his underlying conduct is that Foley has publicly defended himself by citing his (purported) alcoholism and the fact that he was (allegedly) molested by a clergyman as a child. Neither -- even if true -- is an excuse, and he should shut up.

But so, too, should Democrats shut up. The incessant crowing about the scandal's proof of GOP hyprocrisy is infuriating (and obviously calculated to affect next month's mid-term elections). Democrats live in glass houses when it comes to sexual scandals, even those involving underage victims. A top ten list is available here.

If anyone wants to talk about hypocrisy and sex scandals, one need look no further than (1) Barney Frank (D. Mass.), who remained in Congress after it was revealed that he let a gay prostitute run a brothel in Frank's apartment; (2) Fred Richmond (D. NY), who remained in Congress after being arrested for soliciting sex from a 16-year-old; (3) Gerry Studs (D. Mass.), who remained in Congress for six more terms after being censured for a relationship with an underage male page; and (4) Mel Reynolds (D. Ill.) who was pardoned -- pardoned! -- by Bill Clinton -- Bill Clinton! -- after being convicted of 12 counts of sexual assault of a 16-year-old.

Democrats: Feel free to join the rest of us in excoriating Foley for his unconscionable behavior. But please pause and recognize the difference between what happens when a Republican does this sort of thing (effectively excommunicated from the party) and what happens when a Democrat does it (business as usual). And lay off the "hypocritical GOP" talk. One need not have a particularly long memory to see how vacuous it is.

Happy Birthday, Fox News

The Fox News Channel turns 10 this week, and Brian Anderson (author of "South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias") has a nice piece in the L.A. Times (of all places) marking the occasion.

Fox News is the cable news network Democrats love to hate. They insist it is anything but "Fair and Balanced," which is FNC's tagline. You know what? They're right! Fox News is not, on the whole, a network that strives to be objective in all its programming. It bears noting, however, that Fox's 6:00 nightly news broadcast, anchored by Brit Hume, was deemed the most centrist news broadcast on television in a study by political science professors from UCLA and the University of Missouri-Columbia.

In its opinion content (not its news broadcasts), Fox News leans perceptibly to the right. It's no secret. What's amazing (and entertaining) about the consistent outrage from "liberals" about Fox's "bias" is that Fox is simply a mirror image of CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and (to slightly lesser degrees) NBC and ABC. Fox is simply no more "conservative" in its content than CNN is "liberal." But the "liberals" want to have their cake and eat it too, pointing accusing fingers at Fox for "bias" while refusing to acknowledge any leftward slant in any single mainstream medium, broadcast or print.

What truly rankles "liberals" about Fox, though, is that it succeeds. It appeals to a huge segment of the American public that is tired of being condescended to by the likes of Anderson Cooper, Chris Matthews, and Dan Rather.

What do I like about Fox? It's not that Fox's opinion content automatically cheerleads for Republicans. In fact, it doesn't. Bill O'Reilly is anything but a party-liner, frequently criticizing President Bush and Congressional Republicans on issues ranging from border security to special treatment of oil companies. Half of "Hannity and Colmes" is Alan Colmes, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal Democrat. Truth be told, I'm not a big fan of O'Reilly, Hannity, or Colmes (or Greta van Susteren for that matter). I don't watch them much. Mostly I just watch Brit Hume (and, before he became the White House spokesman, Tony Snow).

No, what I find endearing about Fox is its tone on issues of national import. Fox News commentators are assertive with criticisms of government -- including Republicans -- and report bad news as well as good. But, watching Fox cover Iraq or the broader War on Islamofascism, I get the sense that the Fox commentators actually want the United States to succeed. They are proud of the United States. I do not get the same sense from CNN, for example, where the commentators do not even try to conceal their aspirations for the U.S. to fail in Iraq because it would be politically helpful to Democrats. (That's why you never see good news about Iraq from CNN -- and there is good news, if you know where to look . . . take a guess where that might be).

So congrats, Fox News Channel. Here's to ten more years of infuriating the Left.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Global Smarming

I haven't yet written on this blog about global warming. I don't have much to say on the issue, since I'm not a scientist. Overall, here's my perception: Scientists seem to agree that the world is currently in a warming trend. They disagree regarding whether, and to what extent, that trend is caused by human behavior -- chiefly the consumption of fossil fuels.

I find it compelling that the world has endured far more extreme temperature changes than what we're experiencing today. The world has been much, much warmer, and at times long before man first burned coal (and as recently as the 15th century, for example). To me, that suggests that the Earth can grow warmer as a result of factors other than human fossil-fuel consumption.

I also find it compelling that in recent history certain scientists (and the news media) have raised the global-warming alarm before . . . back in the early 20th century. What's more fascinating is that by the 1970s, scientists and media scare-mongers had shifted to fretting over Global Cooling! In short, every time the Earth's temperature changes, there is a chorus of doomsayers willing to proclaim not only the imminent end of civilization, but that it's humanity's fault to boot.

I don't pretend to be able to read the raw data myself, but it strikes me as an unproven proposition that human behavior is causing global warming, and an even more dubious proposition that we're causing hurricanes, tsunamis, and arctic decline. And the ability of scientists' models to predict the weather more than a week in advance -- let alone many years down the road -- is suspect at best.

At bottom, then, I think it's foolish to push for policies that will cost trillions of dollars (Kyoto Protocol), ravage the world's economy, and ultimately sow poverty and starvation . . . all on what amounts to a hunch. I'm even more skeptical, given that the chief proponents of the global warming scare story among scientists are those who depend on it for billions of dollars in annual grant money.

Most people are like me in that they don't undertstand the science well enough to form a confident, independent scientific opinion about the extent and causes of changes in the Earth's temperature. I find that most folks I know who "believe" are Democrats (or self-styled "liberals") who knee-jerkingly insist on the certainty of it because Republicans are skeptical and because Al Gore said it's all true. Thus, the Dems are "supporting the environment" -- unlike the evil GOP -- even if there's no rational basis for the specific policies supported by global-warming alarmists.

This throaty intro is all a lead-in to a fascinating exposure of what passes for "reasoning" among the global warming cheerleaders in the media. Senator James Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee was on CNN debating the issue with host Miles O'Brien. Sen. Inhofe has studied the issue carefully and is its most prominent authority in Congress. Inhofe consistently cites verifiable sources and authorities for the facts that (among other things) Antarctica's ice mass is growing, not shrinking, and that the world was warmer five hundred years ago than it is today. And he's not afraid to criticize those -- including O'Brien -- who baselessly beat the drum of global-warming doom while insisting on ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

And O'Brien got angry when Sen. Inhofe criticized CNN's propensity for engaging in scare tactics on the issue despite the paucity of compelling evidence. So O'Brien cited a recent Hollywood movie to support his argument. Was it Al Gore's faux-documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth"? No, although climate scientists have stepped forward to catalog the errors and untruths in that bit of propaganda. Try "The Day After Tomorrow," a fictional 2004 disaster movie starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal.

So, Senator Inhofe appeals to science to make the case that global warming cannot be reliably attributable to human behavior, and CNN anchor Mile O'Brien rejoins with a citation to a fictional Hollywood popcorn flick. Who's being unserious about this issue?

Can I say with any certainty that fossil-fuel consumption is not causing global warming? No. But the burden of proof is on those who insist it is. For, if global warming is being caused by, say, the sun (as some scientists conclude), then it would be awfully stupid to flush the world's economy down the toilet in pursuit of an emissions-reductions "remedy" that will have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the true source of the trend.

But throwing money at problems without understanding them or focusing the effort in any meaningful way is what passes for "progressive" public policy. What else is new.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The New Anti-Semitism

Professor Hanson, classicist and astute observer of contemporary world affairs, weighs in this morning on the topic of anti-semitism. In particular, Prof. Hanson describes the new strain as a combination of flagrant Islamic hatred of (and violence against) Jews, bolstered by indifference and even encouragement from the Western political Left.

The key passage:

We're accustomed to associating hatred of Jews with the ridiculed Neanderthal Right of those in sheets and jackboots. But this new venom, at least in its Western form, is mostly a leftwing, and often an academic, enterprise. It's also far more insidious, given the left's moral pretensions and its influence in the prestigious media and universities. We see the unfortunate results in frequent anti-Israeli demonstrations on campuses that conflate Israel with Nazis, while the media have published fraudulent pictures and slanted events in southern Lebanon.
Anti-semitism has once again become acceptable -- in polite European company and in large swaths of American academia. The Left's eager apologies for Islamic violence against Jews and repeated threats to annihilate Israel leave me asking -- again -- why are there still Jewish Democrats?

Monday, September 25, 2006

The U.N. Is Hopeless

Mark Steyn offers his take on the Crazy Dictator Show that took place at the U.N. last week. Most of the coverage I've seen has dealt with the specifics of Chavez's rant against Bush the "devil." Lost in much of the media coverage was Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denial reprise and Chavez's celebration of American anti-capitalist (and celebrated icon of the American and European Left) Noam Chomsky.

Steyn sets his sights on the reaction of the nattering delegates to Chavez and Ahmadinejad and correctly concludes that it evidences the absolute uselessness of the U.N.:
It may be news to the Council of Foreign Relations types and the Dems, but the U.N. demonstrated this last week that it is utterly incapable of reform. Indeed, any reforms would be more likely to upgrade and enhance the cliques of thugs and despots than of the few states willing to stand up to them. The most sensible proposal this week came from Chavez, who demanded the U.N. relocate to Venezuela. You go, girl! Dershowitz would be better off trying to get America expelled from the U.N., and encouraging it to join a new group of nations serious about defending freedom in the world: It would be a very small club. This week Jacques Chirac dropped the threat of sanctions against Iran. A few months ago, he briefly mused about nuking the Persians, but he's now folded like ... well, not like the Arabs and their tents: They're busily pitching them all over Europe with no plans to fold at all. Anyone who thinks the U.N. is the body to mediate Iran's nuclearization or anything else is more deluded than Ahmadinejad. At this rate, the Twelfth Imam will be the next secretary-general.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why Am I So Mean To Liberals? (UPDATED and UPDATED AGAIN)

Folks who know me personally often wonder how I can be so strident in my criticism of liberals, when in reality I'm not even a "right-winger" or a social conservative, but more of a hawkish libertarian.

Here's why.

What the Hell is wrong with you people?

UPDATE (4:31 p.m.): There's also this. @#$%ing Harkin. Is this what your party has become? A midwestern Senator scrambles to get to the Left of Pelosi and Rangel? By way of defending a dictator who calls the President of the United States a "devil"?

I repeat: What the Hell is wrong with you people?

UPDATED AGAIN (Friday, 9:44 a.m.): And why should U.S. Senators refrain from casting their lots with Chavez? Perhaps because he's in league not only with the Iranian psycho-president Ahmedinejad, but also with HEZBOLLAH.

Good For Them

I'm sick of Democrats who whine that it's unfair for Republicans to question their patriotism just because so many Democrats have a penchant for railing against America's military, against America's economy, and against America's culture. I think we're right to question the patriotism of those who embrace setbacks in the war against Islamofascism while piously ignoring all progress -- simply because of who the sitting president is.

But today, a few Dems actually did put their Bush-derangement aside to publicly condemn Venezuelan Henchman-in-Chief Hugo Chavez for calling President Bush a "devil" in remarks before the U.N. yesterday.

Charlie Rangel and Nanci Pelosi both weighed in rather forcefully.

Most assuredly, these rabid Bush-critics perceive some political gain in rallying behind the President on this solitary score. Presumably, they think they up their patriotism credentials by waving the flag in defiance of a man everyone (except Noam Chomsky and Fidel Castro) can agree is a nutjob. Either way, I was happy to see it, and so on this one occasion, I'll extend them a bit of credit.

Perhaps someday the leaders of the Democratic Party will find the cojones to speak out against America's other enemies. It makes one feel good to see leaders of different political parties supporting one another on issues of importance. But I'm not holding my breath for any further displays of goodwill. November's coming up, and it's more important to blame Bush for every ill in the world than to marshal our resources in pursuit of America's interests.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Future of Philanthropy

It has long been a mainstay of conservative political thought that in a capitalist society, charity (and philanthropy in general) ought to be a private endeavor. And it surely is, to a great extent, in the United States. The wealthiest Americans give massive amounts of money to philanthropic organizations and even set up (and generously fund) foundations to undertake works for the betterment of society.

For the most part, though, this private philanthropy exists on the sideline of capitalism, as a direct consequence of federal tax laws. Philanthropic entities are typically conducted as "not for profit" enterprises, because that enables both donors and the charities themselves to avoid paying taxes on donations.

I've long mused whether it would be possible for a company to simultaneously be "for profit" and pointedly philanthropic in purpose. I'm not an economist, so I don't have the intellectual tools to run that particular thought experiment. Yet I've wondered: If I had a billion dollars, could I set up and structure in a business in such a way that it helped large numbers of people and made money at the same time?

Well, it seems the innovators at Google are making a real experiment of my thought experiment (no, I don't presume to take credit for the idea). Google has announced that it is creating a subsidiary that will be philanthropic in nature, but also "for profit."

The possible tensions are obvious. Chiefly: What will shareholders think of the company they invest in focusing on something other than simply the bottom line?

But what I find exciting about this endeavor is that a company like Google has the capital to invest in technologies and projects that otherwise would never get (adequately) funded, save perhaps by the government. For example, Google may invest in alternative-fuels research that (1) existing energy companies aren't incentivized to zealously pursue and that (2) taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for.

Businesses are more efficient than government. If businesses can and will solve social problems more efficiently than government can and will, then a great many things are possible. This should be interesting to watch.

A Glimmer of Sanity?

For decades, Amnesty International has pursued its human rights agenda in such a selective fashion that the U.S. and Israel have been deemed the world's worst human-rights offenders while China, North Korea, Sudan, and other oppressive regimes -- not to mention violent Islamic terror organizations -- get a free pass.

So I was shocked to see that Amnesty has actually called Hezbollah out for war crimes in connection with the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians with missile attacks this summer.

Now, Amnesty hasn't stopped beating the Israel-Is-Evil drum, but I am a bit heartened to see that (1) it has at last awakened (if only in a narrow context) to the public fact that Islamic Fascists not only disavow human rights but seek to eliminate them at every turn, and (2) Israelis, in fact, actually have "human rights."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Are You Ready For Some Football?



Life isn't all about politics and war and carrying out our maniacal, imperialist, neo-conservative, Zionist agenda. Among my favorite non-hegemonic aspects of human existence is NFL football. And the 2006 season starts tonight.

So -- tonight -- set aside the Zogby polls and the Reuters scandals; grab a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon, take a seat on your couch, and treat yourself to the first taste of meaningful football since February.

God Bless America.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Conspiracy-Mongering 101 (Updated)

The British press has breathlessly announced the long-simmering idiocy of a cadre of American academics who are determined to believe that the U.S. government planned and carried out the 9-11 attacks, then pinned them on "terrorists" to form a pretext for American warmongering and imperialism.

The coverage from Britain's Daily Mail reveals just how eager a frighteningly large segment of the English-speaking world is to swallow such absurdity. The article could not possibly try harder to promote the conspiracy theory.

First, the Daily Mail refers to the conspiracy-peddlers as "leading" academics and scientists . . . no fewer than four times:

  • "The 9/11 terrorist attack on America which left almost 3,000 people dead was an 'inside job', according to a group of leading academics."
  • "Around 75 top professors and leading scientists believe the attacks were puppeteered by war mongers in the White House to justify the invasion and the occupation of oil-rich Arab countries."
  • "But leading scientists say the facts of their investigations cannot be ignored and say they have evidence that points to one of the biggest conspiracies ever perpetrated."
  • "He has joined the 9/11 Scholars for Truth whose membership includes up to 75 leading scientists and experts from universities across the US."

By what measure are these crackpots "leading" anything other than an increasing number of ignorant devotees? Are they leaders in their fields? Do they teach at top universities? Has any of them distinguished himself in any particular way other than through transparent lunacy? Jaya Narain, the article's writer, provides no indication.

I was also struck by this bit:

Professor James Fetzer, 65, a retired philosopher of science at the University of Minnesota, said: "The evidence is so overwhelming, but most Americans don't have time to take a look at this."

A "philosopher of science"? What IS that? Doesn't sound like a "leading" scientist to me. It sounds like interdisciplinary garbage that requires one to know a bit about this and a bit about that, but not a whole lot about anything.

Maybe I'm wrong, though. Maybe this Professor Fetzer is indeed a distinguished academic. Let's take a look at the man's own web page.

Now, right off the bat, I'm thrown a bit by his photo.

It doesn't exactly exude "Trust Me, I Know What I'm Talking About." I get more of a "HOOOEEEY, Y'all Oughtta See The Bass I Just Reeled In!" sort of vibe. Perhaps more relevant is the fact that his website includes an entire curriculum vitae dedicated solely to his research regarding the Kennedy Assassination. Something tells me Professor Fetzer never met a conspiracy theory he didn't like.

Oh, and as for being a "leading" academic, as Narain claims, Fetzer is a former professor in the philosophy department of the Duluth Campus of the University of Minnesota. Impressive.

Fetzer isn't the only "leading academic" over whom Narain fawns. There's also Steven Jones, Professor of Physics at BYU. At least this guy doesn't wear flannel in his faculty photo. But a "leading academic"? To be sure, he is a "leading" believer that cold fusion works; too bad cold fusion has been debunked over and over and over again as wholly implausible, if not impossible. I wonder if his employer, Brigham Young University, sees him as a "leading academic."

Nope.

Well, Narain only cites one more "leading academic." His name is Kevin Barrett, and Narain identifies him as an "assistant professor" at the University of Wisconsin (another member of the Ivy League of the Great Lakes). First of all, when has an "assistant professor" ever been regarded as a "leading academic" in any field? In actuality, Barrett is not even an assistant professor. He has a one-semester appointment as an "associate lecturer" at the University of Winsconsin-Madison. And what, exactly, does he teach that qualifies him to opine about who carried out the 9-11 attacks?

Islam: Religion and Culture. No, this is not a joke.

So let's bring it full circle. A reporter for the Daily Mail writes an article that heralds growing acceptance of the proposition that the U.S. government (and not Muslim terrorists) carried out the 9-11 attacks. She(?) relies specifically on (1) a physicist who has become a laughingstock of science for his faith in cold fusion, (2) a "philosopher of science" who looks like a Hee Haw extra, and (3) a self-described "Islamologist and Arabist" with a one-semester gig at UW-M. All of whom Narain collectively (and repeatedly) characterizes as "leading academics" and "top scientists."

I'll leave the substantive rebuttal of these nutjobs' theories to others. And, believe me, plenty of "leading scientists" -- like the fine folks at Popular Mechanics -- have eviscerated them. But isn't it frightening to see how eagerly the mainstream British press is disseminating this crap and unabashedly trying to bolster the credibility of the crap-shovelers?

I've asked it before, and I'll ask it again: Am I living in Crazy Land?

UPDATE (Friday, 1:40 p.m.): BYU has further clarified its view on whether physics professor Steven Jones is a "leading academic." According to a statement issued by BYU, Dr. Jones is now under review because the university is "concerned about the increasingly speculative and accusatory nature of these statements by Dr. Jones."

Jones is on paid leave pending the review. "Leading academic," indeed.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Revisionism

The Washington Post trots out a sanctimonious editorial today regarding the Plame saga, proclaiming the "End of an Affair." Here are a few bits of the Post's sniffy attempt to put the entire matter aside:

WE'RE RELUCTANT to return to the subject of former CIA employee Valerie Plame because of our oft-stated belief that far too much attention and debate in Washington has been devoted to her story and that of her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, over the past three years.

Give me a break. The Post is "reluctant" to write about the Plame story? Funny. I ran a quick search of the Post's archives for "Plame" and turned up more than 500 results. Is that reluctance? Here's another mind-boggling bit of holiness:

But all those who have opined on this affair ought to take note of the not-so-surprising disclosure that the primary source of the newspaper column in which Ms. Plame's cover as an agent was purportedly blown in 2003 was former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage.

Yes, all you opiners out there, take note. Because we're not surprised. We knew it all along. Right? Well, let's see what the Post was saying a year ago:

July 15, 2005:

At a critical moment, the normally effective [Bush] spin operation finds itself handcuffed because the leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame is the subject of a criminal investigation that seems close to fruition. The embers of the Rove controversy were stoked into flame on Monday because of a remarkable White House briefing in which spokesman Scott McClellan was forced to avoid 35 questions on Rove because of the "ongoing investigation."

The conventional view is that Rove will be safe as long as he escapes indictment. Given how much Bush values his services, that may be true. But even if Rove survives, the events of this week will leave scars on the administration by dramatizing negative perceptions that, until now, have done little damage.

Rove is said to admire Napoleon's adage: "The whole art of war consists in a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive, followed by rapid and audacious attack." Unless, of course, they manage to make it work one more time, an approach that has served Rove and Bush well is in grave jeopardy.

July 13, 2005:

There's no basis to conclude that if Rove was the guy who outed [Valerie Plame], he told his boss about it. But Rove was, and has always been, [George W. Bush]'s one indispensable aide precisely, though not only, because he would do whatever it took to advance his boss's interests, no matter the consequences to his intended targets or innocent bystanders. Though we can't be certain it was Rove who disclosed Plame's identity, we can be damned sure that if he did, it was all in a day's work on behalf of George W. Bush.
Does it look to you like the Post is "unsurprised" by the fact that administration opponent Armitage was the leaker? Doesn't "unsurprising" mean you at least suspected it was true? Of course it does. And that begs the question: If the Post suspected Armitage was the leaker all along, then why did it churn out hundreds of articles and editorials containing the kind of "Rove is the Boogeyman" innuendo quoted above?

I guess we should just swallow today's nothing-to-see-here-folks editorial, applaud the Post for staying above the partisan fray, and tiptoe away quietly.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

AP v. Reality

AP reporter Robert Burns covered a speech by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld yesterday about Iraq and terrorism. With the customary partisan zeal, Burns did a typical AP job of spinning, fabricating, and doing both ham-fistedly. QandO lays it out point by point. #2 is the one that really makes me shake my head slowly:

What AP says Rumsfeld said:
In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration's critics as suffering from "moral or intellectual confusion" about what threatens the nation's security and accused them of lacking the courage to fight back.

What Rumsfeld said:
Over the next decades, a sentiment took root that contended that if only the growing threats that had begun to emerge in Europe and Asia could be appeased, then the carnage and destruction of then-recent memory of World War I might be avoided. It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis — the rise of fascism and Nazism — were ridiculed and ignored.

Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated — or that it was someone else’s problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace — even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear.

It was, as Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.

There was a strange innocence in views of the world. Someone recently recalled one U.S. Senator’s reaction in September 1939, upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II. He exclaimed:

"Lord, if only I could have talked with Hitler, all this might have been avoided.”

Think of that!

[...]

And in every army, there are occasionally bad actors — the ones who dominate the headlines today — who don’t live up to the standards of their oath and of our country.

But you also know that they are a small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of honorable men and women in all theaters in this struggle who are serving with humanity and decency in the face of constant provocation.

And that is important in this “long war,” where any kind of moral and intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can severely weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.

Wha . . . how . . . ? Rumsfeld didn't come close to saying what Burns claims he did. Burns simply cherry-picked (inaccurately) two similar phrases -- which Rumsfeld used to warn, first, against an inarguably destructive 1930s post-war mindset and, second, of the consequences of military misconduct -- and twisted it into an alleged accusation leveled disparagingly at administration critics.

It's a lie. It's the AP.

Most frightening of all: Forbes, CNN, ABC, and even FOX ran with it, unedited. As QandO so neatly puts it, "And you wonder how myths and memes get started?"

(h/t/ Power Line)

More "Peace" Activism from the Left

The city of San Francisco has approved a permit for local defense attorney Robert Breeze to hold a "Death to Israel" rally. Breeze brandishes the typical intellect we've come to expect from the Left. In his words:

The President of Iran has an excellent idea. . . . I would like to see them move Israel to Virginia and put all the current Virginians in a concentration camp. Then we'll see how popular Israel is [in the United States].

Now, I don't see this as a First Amendment issue. Any second-year law student knows that a government entity is virtually forbidden to ban speech on the basis of its content. Although exceptions can apply, I don't think those exceptions apply here. [As an interesting thought experiment, however, consider what that particular city would do if presented with an application for a "Death to Palestine" or "Death to Castro" rally.]

What piques my interest here is the flagrance of this particular example of anti-semitism from yet another left-wing nutjob. Usually, the "Death to Israel" mantra gets chanted at nominally "Pro-Palestinian" or "anti-war" rallies. Here, the very purpose of the rally is to invoke the eradication of the Jewish nation.

Of course, Breeze offers the now-tired, predictable (and totally unbelievable) self-defense of anti-semites everywhere: "I've never really discriminated against anybody that is Jewish. It's not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel."

How about to call for its eradication?

Plame-less

Remember the Valerie Plame "scandal"? Remember how a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate the "leak" of a "covert" CIA agent's identity by "White House officials" to "exact revenge" against the agent's "diplomat" husband, Joe Wilson? Remember how Newsweek (and other media outlets) were trumpeting the "imminent indictment" of Vice President Cheney for being the "leaker"? Remember how the President was accused of "thuggishness" and petty "score-settling"? Remember the howls from Democrats that the leaker should be "frog marched" out of the West Wing?

Yeah. Well, not so much. The Plame saga ended this week with the revelation that Plame's identity was revealed to Bob Novak by Richard Armitage, a former State Department official who has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration since long before he left his Foggy Bottom post.

This was Big Headline Stuff when the media thought they might get to mount Cheney's (or Rumsfeld's or Perl's) head on a wall. And now that the "leaker" is a Bush opponent?

Cue crickets.

Not surprisingly, Christopher Hitchens does the best job of wrapping up the affair. If you don't read Hitchens, start doing so. If you really want to know what this Plame story is all about, go to Hitchens' website and read some of his old articles about Joe Wilson, his trip to Niger, the yellowcake uranium issue, and the real upshot of the "outing" scandal. Do so, and you'll understand the difference between an administration trying to fight a war and an opposition party that is more interested in opposing the administration than in winning the war.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Great News

I'm back, and still trying to dig my way through more than a week's worth of accumulated mail, email, voice messages, etc. I'll resume regular posting once I can see my desk. For the time being, I offer this bit of cheerfully delightful (if unofficial) news:

Saddam Hussein was forced to watch the South Park Movie. Repeatedly.

If you haven't seen the animated movie, suffice to say Saddam appears as himself . . . engaged in a gay relationship with Satan.

I just hope someone translated the movie for Saddam so he wouldn't miss any of the many, many jokes crafted at the expense of his dignity.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Pause

Alas, just as I was picking up momentum, professional obligations will tear me away from blogging for a week or so. I hope my regular readers (both of you) will come back once I resume posting. Check back around the 28th.

Color Me Stunned

A group of 85 high-profile entertainment figures apparently took out an ad in today's L.A. Times to opine about the current situation in the Middle East. Take a moment and imagine what it might say.

Yeah, that's what I thought, too. But we were wrong. The Australian Herald Sun summarizes:
NICOLE Kidman has made a public stand against terrorism.

The actress, joined by 84 other high-profile Hollywood stars, directors, studio bosses and media moguls, has taken out a powerfully-worded full page advertisement in today's Los Angeles Times newspaper.

It specifically targets "terrorist organisations" such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

"We the undersigned are pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas," the ad reads.

"If we do not succeed in stopping terrorism around the world, chaos will rule and innocent people will continue to die.

"We need to support democratic societies and stop terrorism at all costs."

A who's who of Hollywood heavyweights joined Kidman on the ad.

The actors listed included: Michael Douglas, Dennis Hopper, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Danny De Vito, Don Johnson, James Woods, Kelly Preston, Patricia Heaton and William Hurt. Directors Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Mann, Dick Donner and Sam Raimi also signed their names.

Other Hollywood powerplayers supporting the ad included Sumner Redstone, the chairman and majority owner of Paramount Pictures, and billionaire mogul, Haim Saban.

Are we actually seeing Hollywood liberals making a moral stand against terrorism? Making value judgments about other cultures? Refraining from blaming George Bush and American imperialism for at least some of the world's problems? Holy smokes.

Seeing Bruce Willis listed is unsurprising. But Dennis Hopper? Huh. Perhaps it's time to replace the U.N. with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The brainpower level is comparably low, but at least the latter is willing to call a terrorist a terrorist.

(via Powerline)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I Wish I'd Thought of That

Why vote for Democrats? Because if you do, they'll cure cancer.

Simple as that.

Israel: To the Right

I do not follow Israeli politics closely. But I am generally aware that the center of gravity in Israel's Knesset (Parliament) shifted toward the center (if not to the left) when Ariel Sharon left his traditionally right-wing Likkud party and formed Kadima, a coalition built largely on the premise that Israel must abandon certain occupied terrorities in order to forge lasting peace. It was as a member of Kadima that Sharon served as Prime Minister from 2005 until his incapacitation earlier this year. (Sharon also had previously been Prime Minister for five years while a member of Likkud.)

Sharon's change of heart notwithstanding, he is near death and no longer a political force. In the wake of what Israelis are widely perceiving as a failure by the government to exert sufficient military muscle during the recent conflict with Hezbollah, what political changes are in the offing?

My uneducated guess is that things are about to shift dramatically to the right. Kadima's star will fade and Likkud will re-emerge. Israel flirted briefly with a policy of disengagement and forbearance with respect to surrounding states and terrorist groups. I imagine that experiment, having failed, is over.

Israel depends on deterrence. The cease-fire with Hamas damages Israel because it gives hope to those terror groups (and states) that would take up arms against the Jewish nation. Ergo, the next time things flare up (oh, and they will), Israel will have to work double-time to restore the requisite dread of its military prowess. In other words, when Hezbollah regroups (oh, and it will), Israel will combine airstrikes and a full ground invasion -- scorched earth-style -- and bad press be damned. I won't be surprised if targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders in Gaza and the West Bank pick up again, too.

Israel will never win a public relations battle. But as Golda Meir famously said: "Better a critical editorial than a praiseworthy obituary."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Realism Unburdened by Reality

Lee Hamilton, director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington has a curiously obtuse op-ed in the Indy Star today. Hamilton seems to be hearkening for a return to realism in international policy. His thesis is that the United States must recognize the limitations of its ability to effect change in other nations and must govern its strategy accordingly. In Hamilton's words, "[t]hat means we have to apply our power pragmatically." In vague terms, I have no problem with this truism.

Realism, of course, was the predecessor approach to the current administration's much-misunderstood "neo-conservatism." Realism dominated American foreign policy during most of the twentieth century, and it held -- still holds -- that we should seek international stability -- even if that sometimes means dealing with dictators and taking a hands-off approach to situations abroad that offend our classical liberal values.

Neo-conservativism, by contrast, pushes the principles of freedom and democracy to the fore of foreign-policy decision making, on the premise that -- ultimately -- the spread of democratic values will dry up the swamp of radicalism and the helpless hopelessness that drives subjugated populations throughout the world to blame their lots -- increasingly violently -- on external forces (namely, the West).

I'm not taking sides in the realist v. neocon debate. But I am compelled to point out some intellectually dishonest components of Hamilton's push for the former.

First, Hamilton prescibes his preferred policy in re: weapons of mass destruction:
We should oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but not invade a nation because they are suspected of seeking these weapons. The better and more sustainable way to proceed is through a strong, international arms control framework -- with multilateral efforts to secure dangerous materials, highly intrusive inspections of all countries, and robust pressure on those who break the rules. Had we allowed intrusive United Nations inspections to continue in Iraq, we could have gotten a clearer idea of the threat, and could have altered Iraq's behavior without an invasion.

This last sentence is stunningly misleading. It presumes that the United States prevented the U.N. from conducting thorough inspections in Iraq. In fact, it was Saddam Hussein who shut down the inspections. President Bush and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell could not have gone to greater lengths to try and persuade Saddam -- by means of the U.N. Security Council -- to restart the inspections as a condition to preventing war. To blame the U.S. for Saddam's intransigence is so provably obtuse as to call Hamilton's motives into question.

As for the "multilateral efforts" Hamilton ballyhoos -- how are things going so far with Iran? The "strong, international arms control regime" already exists. The system of "highly intrusive inspections" already exists. And "robust pressure" has already been applied. But at the end of the day, they all depend on the consent of the target state. Isn't that the very program that failed with respect to Iraq? Iran? North Korea? At bottom, it's all talk. When a regime refuses to comply with international demands, there has to be a next step. The U.N. will never take that step because most of the world treats "multilateralism" as an end unto itself, rather than a means to achieving some useful progress.

Hamilton continues:
Regime change is desirable when faced with particularly odious governments, but we can modify the behavior of regimes without using force. Communist regimes changed across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union without an American shot being fired. The way to seek similar results in other countries is through economic and political engagement or pressure. Nations should not fear us unless they take action that directly threatens our vital interests.

Here, Hamilton neglects to explain that realism prevailed in the Cold War because a fundamental prerequisite for successful realist policy existed in respect to the Soviet Union; the Soviets were also realists -- they were rational actors. That doesn't mean communism is rational. What it means is that Soviets made decisions based on a cost-benefit analysis that placed primary value on survival. It was because decision-makers on both sides of that conflict feared annihilation that the world escaped nuclear devastation.

Try and apply that doctrine to Islamic apocalypticians who view death in the quest to destroy infidels as the noblest of endeavors. What do they fear? Only failure -- not death. Given that Islamic radicalism poses the single gravest threat to peace and stability in the world, it is rather lazy of Hamilton to ignore it in the course of his preaching, particularly because the ideological problem he ignores increasingly dovetails with the weapons-proliferation problem about which he facilely prescribes dependence on cooperation.

Hamilton does allow for the use of force in the case of "an imminent threat to national security," but he insists that it must be undertaken only with "international support" so we don't lose "legitimacy." This is actually something of a departure from realism as I understand it. Yes, it is important to have and keep allies. And yes, influence matters, and the appearance of "legitimacy" is important in retaining influence in the world. But a realist government that determines it must use force to stave off "an imminent threat to national security" cannot be deterred from action because France prefers to think humanity has trancended the passee need for such barbarie or because a United Nations populated by tinpot dictators thinks keeping a lid on American military might is Job One.

Hamilton's piece limps to a conclusion by boldly proclaiming the merits of eradicating AIDS, promoting free trade, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Hooray.

In sum, however, Hamilton makes a case for a brand of realism that is both blind to the most pressing ideological threat in the world today and slavish in its deference to internationalist processes and institutions that have consistently proven themselves roadblocks to the pursuit of American interests. It reads rather like an eloquent version of a Kerry campaign speech.

(via RealClearPolitics)

Insert Here

Venezuelan Presidente Hugo Chavez provides a rare, insider's view of what it takes to prop up a dictator.

Cuban Presidente Fidel Castro will presumably be up and around once that funky-looking object has been reinserted. No word on when the, er, procedure will take place, but Fidel is quite plainly looking forward to it.

(Seriously, look how . . . lovingly Fidel and Hugo grip that . . thing. Creepy.)

Islam in Britain

London's Observer carried a shocking editorial yesterday. It's shocking -- for the left-wing rag -- because it dares conclude that British Muslims have no justification for becoming terrorists.

So that's good news. Now the bad news -- the comments section provides a great deal of insight into the prevailing mentality of British Muslims (and, in some instances, socialists). Here are a few quotes:
  • Why are you being so defensive? It is absolutely true that Islamic terrorism is provoked by Western aggression against Moslem countries.
  • This piece might as well have been written by Rush Limbaugh. You cannot have a serious discussion about any form of terrorism without addressing political grievances.
  • Good point that these allegations of a terror plot are just that at this time, and the timing could not be better for Mr. Blair.
  • Now I know why I gave up buying the Observer! Nobody, apart from Bush and Blair, has ever suggested that the cause of terrorism is 'Islamic fascism'.
  • The crimes comitted by the British Empire far outway anything done by Islamic extremist but of course they don't count do they.
  • I suggest that the real culprit hiding behind these other countries is the Anglo-Saxon/Zionist racist upper class.
  • Since when have the government spoken a single word of truth concerning the so-called war on terror. Lets be clear its nothing more than a propaganda campaign to get us to give up our freedoms, democracy and to hand the country over to the big corporations that own New Labor
  • As it has often been said. "It`s all about the oil."

And on and on and on. It's the West! It's the Joooos! The poor Muslims just can't help themselves. Murder is inevitable.

(So submit or die, infidel.)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Attack of the Phones

Below the fold of this week's London terror bust story has been what seems a ceaseless stream of reports of (mostly) middle eastern men in the U.S. being arrested on suspicion of terror-related activities. In each of these incidents, it has been reported that the suspects were in possession of huge (or at least larger than normal) quantities of mobile phones.

It started with the arrest of two men in Dearborn, Michigan on terror-financing and money-laundering charges. The men had recently purchased 600 phones in Ohio (they also had a map of every Wal-Mart from Ohio to North Carolina).

Just yesterday, three Pakistani men were arrested in Michigan after they bought dozens of phones (three at a time -- the store limit); they were found to have more than 1000 in their possession altogether.

Earlier in the week, two men from Georgia (the country -- not the state) were busted outside of Pittsburgh with 15 prepaid phones and $4200 in cash. And bad visas (the INS papers -- not the credit cards).

In addition, an unidentified man attempted to purchase more than the "store maximum" number of cell phones at a dollar store in Saginaw, Michigan yesterday. He got away.

This rash of phone-fetishism might lead a terrorism-wary American to ask, "WTF?"

At least some of these suspects contend that they purchased the phones in order to sell them at a profit overseas. Maybe. But that doesn't explain the very specific Hezbollah-support charges pending against the Dearborn purchasers. Or maybe it does.

At least some law enforcement officials believe this phone-resale scheme may be a pointed fund-raising effort specifically for terrorist groups.

Putting aside that the resale/fundraising scenario may be true (and it may), what else, exactly, might terrorists do with thousands of cell phones? We know cell phones have become popular remote detonators for improvised explosive devices in Iraq. Might they be put to the same use here? If so, where are the explosives?

Perhaps terror groups might use the phones in a disposable fashion -- that is -- discarding them after a single use to make it harder for law enforcement to trace them or track them.

Whatever the reality is (and I suspect we'll learn more in the coming week) -- somethin' just ain't right. Watch this one.

(h/t Michelle Malkin)