Saturday, April 01, 2006

Don't deny that some Muslims are hot for jihad

Mark Steyn is upset as the rest of us with the "Islam is peace" blather, but he expresses it better.

"The line here is "respect." Everybody's busy professing their "respect": We all "respect" Islam; presidents and prime ministers and foreign ministers, lapsing so routinely into the deep-respect-for-the-religion-of-peace routine they forget that cumulatively it begins to sound less like "Let's roll!" and too often like "Let's roll over!"

Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, gave a typical Western government official's speech the other day explaining that "a large number of Muslims in this country were -- understandably -- upset by those cartoons being reprinted across Europe and at their deeply held beliefs being insulted. They expressed their hurt and outrage but did so in a way which epitomized the learned, peaceful religion of Islam."

"The learned, peaceful religion of Islam"? And that would be the guys marching through London with placards reading "BEHEAD THE ENEMIES OF ISLAM" and "FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IS WESTERN TERRORISM" and promising to rain down a new Holocaust on Europe? This is geopolitics as the Aretha Franklin Doctrine: The more the world professes its R-E-S-P-E-C-T, the more the Islamists sock it to us.

At a basic level the foreign secretary's rhetoric does not match reality. Government leaders are essentially telling their citizens: Who ya gonna believe -- my platitudinous speechwriters or your lyin' eyes?

To win a war, you don't spin a war. Millions of ordinary citizens are not going to stick with a "long war" (as the administration now calls it) if they feel they're being dissembled to about its nature. One reason we regard Churchill as a great man is that his speeches about the nature of the enemy don't require unspinning or detriangulating.

If I had to propose a model for Western rhetoric, it would be the Australians. In the days after Sept. 11, the French got all the attention for that Le Monde headline -- "Nous sommes tous Americains" -- "We are all Americans," though they didn't mean it, even then. But John Howard, the Aussie prime minister, put it better and kept his word: "This is no time to be an 80 percent ally."

Marvelous. More recently, the prime minister offered some thoughts on the difference between Muslims and other immigrant groups. "You can't find any equivalent in Italian or Greek or Lebanese or Chinese or Baltic immigration to Australia. There is no equivalent of raving on about jihad," he said, stating the obvious in a way most political leaders can't quite bring themselves to do. "There is really not much point in pretending it doesn't exist."

Unfortunately, too many of his counterparts insist on pretending (at least to their citizenry) that it doesn't exist. What proportion of Western Muslims is hot for jihad? Five percent? Ten, 12 percent? Given that understanding this Pan-Islamist identity is critical to defeating it, why can't we acknowledge it honestly? "Raving on about jihad" is a line that meets what the law used to regard as the reasonable-man test: If you're watching news footage of a Muslim march promising to bring on the new Holocaust, John Howard's line fits.

Is it something in the water down there? Listen to Howard's Cabinet colleagues. Here's the Australian treasurer, Peter Costello, with advice for Western Muslims who want to live under Islamic law: "There are countries that apply religious or sharia law -- Saudi Arabia and Iran come to mind. If a person wants to live under sharia law these are countries where they might feel at ease. But not Australia."

You don't say. Which is the point: Most Western government leaders don't say, and their silence is correctly read by a resurgent Islam as timidity. I also appreciated this pithy summation by my favorite foreigner minister, Alexander Downer: "Multilateralism is a synonym for an ineffective and unfocused policy involving internationalism of the lowest common denominator." See Sudanese slaughter, Iranian nukes, the U.N.'s flop response to the tsunami, etc. It's a good thing being an Aussie Cabinet minister doesn't require confirmation by John Kerry and Joe Biden.

My worry is that the official platitudes in this new war are the equivalent of the Cold War chit-chat in its 1970s detente phase --when Willy Brandt and Pierre Trudeau and Jimmy Carter pretended the enemy was not what it was. Then came Ronald Reagan: It wasn't just the evil-empire stuff, his jokes were on the money, too. In their own depraved way, the Islamists are a lot goofier than the commies and a few gags wouldn't come amiss. If this is a "long war," it needs a rhetoric that can go the distance. And the present line fails that test."

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

The NYT leads with, Civilians in Iraq Flee Mixed Areas as Killings Rise
Rising sectarian violence is spurring tens of thousands of Iraqis to flee from mixed Shiite-Sunni areas. They also have, FEMA Calls, but Top Job Is Tough Sell Numerous disaster response experts were asked to consider being FEMA's director, but the response was "No thanks."

The WaPo has Imprisoned, but Not Charged British residents held as enemy combatants after refusing to aid U.S., U.K. and Gambian probe and Rice Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq
Secretary of State, British Foreign Secretary appeal to feuding Iraqi politicians to form government.

The LA Times leads Once-Supportive Shiites Call On Premier to Quit Ibrahim Jafari loses key supporters over his inability to form a new Iraqi government. The U.S. blames inaction for the growing violence.

The President as Average Joe

Trying to Boost Support, Bush Brings Banter to the People

It's a "poor George" article in the WaPo:

"Call it the let-Bush-be-Bush strategy. The result is a looser president, less serious at times, even at times when humor might seem out of place. Aides used to dread such settings, worried about gaffes or the way Bush might come across in spontaneous exchanges. But with his poll numbers somewhere south of the border, they concluded that Bush handles back-and-forth better than he once did -- and that they have little left to lose."
Time to Spring Forward
Americans will lose an hour of sleep as Daylight Saving Time begins for most of the United States at 2:00 a.m. Sunday.

I stay on Island time. I gain an hour and am now six hours ahead of the East Coast.

The Talk Shows

Guests to be interviewed today on major television talk shows:

FOX NEWS SUNDAY (WTTG), 9 a.m.: Sens. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Philip Mudd , deputy director of the FBI's National Security Branch.

THIS WEEK (ABC, WJLA), 9 a.m.: Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and George Allen (R-Va.) and Jimmy Rollins , Philadelphia Phillies shortstop.

FACE THE NATION (CBS, WUSA), 10:30 a.m.: Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.).

MEET THE PRESS (NBC, WRC), 10:30 a.m.: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and retired Gen. Anthony C. Zinni , former head of the U.S. Central Command.

LATE EDITION (CNN), 11 a.m.: Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.); Mexico President Vicente Fox ; Ali Asghar Soltanieh , Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency; and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari .

Closed-Heart' a Less-Invasive Alternative

AP - Dr. Samuel Lichtenstein cut a 2-inch hole between an elderly man's ribs. Peering inside, he poked a pencil-sized wire up into the chest, piercing the bottom of the man's heart. Within minutes, Bud Boyer would have a new heart valve — without having his chest cracked open. Call it closed-heart surgery.

A doctor holds a measuring
tape next tothe closed incision
between two ribs after...

"I consider it some kind of magic," said Boyer, who left the Vancouver, British Columbia, hospital a day later and was almost fully recovered in just two weeks.In Michigan, Dr. William O'Neill slipped an artificial valve through an even tinier opening. He pushed the valve up a patient's leg artery until it lodged in just the right spot in the still-beating heart.

The dramatic experiments, in a few hospitals in the U.S., Canada and Europe, are designed to find easier ways to replace diseased heart valves that threaten the lives of tens of thousands of people every year. The experiments are starting with the aortic valve that is the heart's key doorway to the body.

The need for a less invasive alternative is great and growing. Already, about 50,000 people in the U.S. have open-heart surgery every year to replace the aortic valve. Surgeons saw the breastbone in half, stop the heart, cut out the old valve and sew in a new one. Even the best patients spend a week in the hospital and require two months or three months to recuperate.

The hope is that one day, replacing a heart valve could become almost an overnight procedure. Rest here

Attacking Iran May Trigger Terrorism

The WaPo reports that as tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide.

Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said.

U.S. officials would not discuss what evidence they have indicating Iran would undertake terrorist action, but the matter "is consuming a lot of time" throughout the U.S. intelligence apparatus, one senior official said. "It's a huge issue," another said.

Iran's intelligence service, operating out of its embassies around the world, assassinated dozens of monarchists and political dissidents in Europe, Pakistan, Turkey and the Middle East in the two decades after the 1979 Iranian revolution, which brought to power a religious Shiite government. Argentine officials also believe Iranian agents bombed a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994, killing 86 people. Iran has denied involvement in that attack.

Iran's intelligence services "are well trained, fairly sophisticated and have been doing this for decades," said Crumpton, a former deputy of operations at the CIA's Counterterrorist Center. "They are still very capable. I don't see their capabilities as having diminished." Read the rest

Internet Injects Sweeping Change Into U.S. Politics

Adam Nagourney at the NYT says:

The transformation of American politics by the Internet is accelerating with the approach of the 2006 Congressional and 2008 White House elections, producing far-reaching changes in the way campaigns approach advertising, fund-raising, mobilizing supporters and even the spreading of negative information.

At the bottom of Mark Warner's Web site,
the candidate can be watched talking about his campaign.

Democrats and Republicans are sharply increasing their use of e-mail, interactive Web sites, candidate and party blogs, and text-messaging to raise money, organize get-out-the-vote efforts and assemble crowds for rallies. The Internet, they said, appears to be far more efficient, and less costly, than the traditional tools of politics, notably door knocking and telephone banks.

Analysts say the campaign television advertisement, already diminishing in influence with the proliferation of cable stations, faces new challenges as campaigns experiment with technology that allows direct messaging to more specific audiences, and through unconventional means.

Those include podcasts featuring a daily downloaded message from a candidate and so-called viral attack videos, designed to trigger peer-to-peer distribution by e-mail chains, without being associated with any candidate or campaign. Campaigns are now studying popular Internet social networks, like Friendster and Facebook, as ways to reach groups of potential supporters with similar political views or cultural interests.

President Bush's media consultant, Mark McKinnon, said television advertising, while still crucial to campaigns, had become markedly less influential in persuading voters than it was even two years ago.

"I feel like a woolly mammoth," Mr. McKinnon said. Rest here

Iran has been getting ready for sanctions

Olivier Guitta at "Counterterrorism blog" says:

In fact some proof of Iran's preparations against possible sanctions were given two days ago by the Swiss daily La Liberte.
Since last fall, rumors of Iran's transfer of assets from European institutions to Arab ones have been numerous. But La Liberte affirmed that they have confirmed that at least 250 tons of gold were transferred from Credit Suisse Zurich in three charter planes of Iran Air in October and November.
The initial info came from an Iranian Communist opposition group which provided the Swiss daily with records from the Central Bank of Iran pertaining about that gold transfer. La Liberte confirmed this information with credible Swiss sources and even Credit Suisse did not deny it.
The opposition group is claiming that up to 700 tons of gold and $20 billion were actually transferred out of Switzerland during last fall. That group also stated that during a fall meeting of the Iranian leadership under the auspices of Ayatollah Khameini other conclusions were reached. Some of them are: the continuation of the enrichment of uranium, the necessary Iranian help the USA is going to need in Iraq, the US's lack of resolve re Iran after the Iraqi experience, the weakness of the Israeli leadership... This leading to the conclusion that Iran must seize the opportunity now and move forward.
So the transfer of assets in Swiss banks was decided then. Allegedly this money and gold made it to mostly Dubai and Abu Dhabi banks, some of which are owned by Ayatollah Rafsanjani and Russian financiers. Lastly Asian financial institutions received some of these assets: it is not by chance that Iranian president Ahmadinejad announced in February a $2 billion deal to build a refinery in Indonesia.

Joel Rosenberg's view of Israel

Joel is Likud, and not too happy. But he is probably right.

Ehud Olmert and his Kadima party did not win as big as they expected (29 seats when they were riding high in the mid-40s just two months ago). But they still won. Olmert will likely put together a left-wing coalition of somewhere around 65-70 seats. Every member will support his game-changing plan to give away the vast majority of the Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria to the terrorist government of Hamas. He has said he won't let them join if they don't.

The Israeli right got crushed. Likud dropped from 38 seats to just 12. Already efforts are underway to drive Bibi Netanyahu out of politics forever. Other nationalist and religious parties did better than expected. But together, the right has lost the initiative. Why?

Think two words: secure and exhausted.

Israelis feel more secure today than at any other time in their modern history. A former top official in Israeli military intelligence put it to me this way over breakfast at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem last June: Saddam is gone. Arafat is dead. They have peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. The Syrian military has been driven out of Syria. The security fence and dramatically improved Israeli intelligence and police work have stopped 99% of the suicide bombings. The economy is surging. Tourism is surging. Life isn't perfect. But when has it ever been for the Jewish people. Right now, Israelis feel it's about as good as it gets.

BOCES substitute makes principled stand

This clown "Switches to food stamps instead of shopping at Wal-Mart." I am not surprised that you could find a teacher who believed this. What I am amazed is a Teacher's Union who was willing to publicise it as something great.

"I do whatever it takes to survive and live a socially conscious life," said Powell, who has a tepee in his yard.

Part of that survival — or so he thought — included shopping at Wal-Mart to take advantage of cheaper prices for himself, his partner and her two children. Then his discussions about Wal-Mart with Sandra Carner-Shafran, a teaching assistant at BOCES and a member of the Board of Directors of New York State United Teachers, started churning inside him.

Powell put the brakes on his actions. Shopping at Wal-Mart? This is a place that encourages employees to get social services because it does not provide adequate health insurance or wages; sells goods made in sweatshops; and upsets entire communities by undercutting the downtown stores, then raising its prices when the locals go out of business.

"I don't like what Wal-Mart stands for," Powell said, noting the mega-chain's scanty health insurance for staffers. "Because of all those things they can lower the prices."

He and his partner agreed to go on food stamps for their family rather than shop at Wal-Mart any longer.

"I don't like to have to do that (use food stamps)," he said. However, the two children who are part of his family gave him extra courage because they had disliked shopping at Wal-Mart anyway, Powell said. They knew what the store stood for.

Daniel Yergin - Conflict Avoidance and "Hinge War"

He has an excellent analysis of this in the "Times UK" today. [hat tip Austin Bay] His point? "The institutions and policies set up after the 1973 Arab oil embargo can no longer meet the needs of energy consumers or producers" Large excerpt:

"Concerns over energy security are not limited to oil. Power blackouts in the United States, Europe and Russia, as well as chronic shortages of electric power in China, India and other developing countries, have raised worries about the reliability of electricity supply systems. When it comes to natural gas, rising demand and constrained supplies mean that North America can no longer be self-reliant, and so the US is joining the new global market in natural gas that will link countries, continents and prices in an unprecedented way.

At the same time, a new range of vulnerabilities has become evident. Al-Qaeda has threatened to attack what Osama bin Laden calls the "hinges" of the world economy, that is, its critical infrastructure — of which energy is among the most crucial elements. The world will increasingly depend on new sources of supply from places where security systems are still being developed, such as oil and natural gasfields off West Africa and in the Caspian Sea. And the vulnerabilities are not limited to threats of terrorism, political turmoil, armed conflict and piracy. Last year hurricanes Katrina and Rita delivered the world's first integrated energy shock, simultaneously disrupting flows of oil, natural gas and electric power.

Events this year underline the significance of the issue. The Russian-Ukrainian natural gas dispute temporarily cut supplies to Europe. Tensions over Tehran's nuclear programme brought threats from Iran, the second-largest Opec producer, to "unleash an oil crisis". Attacks on oil facilities reduced exports from Nigeria, a major supplier to the US.

Since Churchill's day, the key to energy security has been diversification. This remains true, but a wider approach is now required that takes into account the rapid evolution of the global energy trade, supply-chain vulnerabilities, terrorism and integration of new economies into the world market.

Although in the developed world the usual definition of energy security is simply the availability of sufficient supplies at affordable prices, countries interpret what the concept means for them differently.

Energy-exporting nations focus on maintaining "security of demand" for their exports, which generate the overwhelming share of their government revenues. For Russia the aim is to reassert state control over "strategic resources" and gain primacy over main pipelines and market channels through which it ships its hydrocarbons to international markets.

The concern for developing countries is how changes in energy prices affect their balance of payments. For China and India, energy security lies in their ability to adjust rapidly to their new dependence on global markets. For Japan, it means offsetting its scarcity of domestic resources through diversification, trade and investment. In Europe, the major debate centres on how to manage dependence on imported natural gas — and in most countries, apart from France and Finland, whether to build new nuclear power plants and perhaps to return to (clean) coal. And the US must face the uncomfortable fact that its goal of "energy independence" — a phrase that has become a mantra since first articulated by Richard Nixon after the 1973 embargo — is increasingly at odds with reality.

Shock to supply and demand

After the Gulf War, concern over energy security seemed to recede. Saddam Hussein's bid to dominate the Gulf had been foiled and it appeared that the world oil market would remain a market (rather than becoming Saddam's instrument of political manipulation) and that supplies would be abundant at prices that would not impede the global economy.

But 15 years later prices are high and fears of shortages dominate energy markets. What happened? The answer is to be found in both markets and politics." Read it all

The Curse of Deja Vu

Here is a "cycle of violence" that no one can break. It is the Caribbean version of Africa.

Strategy Page tells us:

" The gangs of Haiti have become less political, and more just criminal and mercenary. The gangs make economic growth impossible, and play a major role in keeping everyone poor. It's believed that at least 20,000 police are needed to regain control of the streets from the gangs, but only 7,000 cops are available. The UN also has 1,750 foreign police available, who are limited by their limited language and cultural skills. The 7,300 UN peacekeepers really can't police, and are instead used for general security and raids on major gang operations. It would take 3-4 years to recruit and train 20,000 police. Even then, given Haiti's two century history, there's no assurance that this large police force would not be as corrupt as in the past. The biggest problem in Haiti is that no one has any new ideas that seem likely to break the cycle of corruption, poor government and poverty that has cursed the country since its founding."

Friday, March 31, 2006

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

Ex-DeLay Aide Pleads Guilty in Lobby Case. Tony C. Rudy admitted taking favors from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and will aid corruption probe of Hill lawmakers. This leads the NYT and the WaPo. The WaPo is no doubt overjoyed with there second lead, Tactical Errors' Made In Iraq, Rice Concedes. Car Parts Maker Moves to Break Its Union Deals Delphi sought permission to sharply lower wages and workers' benefits, setting up a confrontation that could lead to a strike, is the NYT other lead.

Carroll 'emotionally fragile' and recovering in seclusion is the USA Today lead. As might be expected, Migrant Issue Divides GOP, Marches don't move California's hard-liners, including those serving Latinos. Unless someone gives, there is little hope for a compromise bill leads the LA Times.

Bomb Us, Please

That's what Strategy Page thinks the Iranian Mullahs want us to do:

Iran is doing little to discourage American talk of bombing Iranian nuclear facilities. Such an attack would entrench the religious dictatorship that is currently running Iran. Iranian nationalism being what it is, a bombing campaign would destroy much of the pro-American feelings that exist in Iran. The Islamic conservatives know that such an attack would slow nuclear weapons research, but not halt it. Also, unless the Europeans signed on for a bombing attack, such a strike would make the Europeans far more amenable to forgetting about sanctions.

This is just wrong.

If our Pols and DA's can't see a difference between sex involving a six year old and sex involving a sixteen year old, they need to find something else to do.

Third teenage girl charged in child pornography case

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (AP) -- A teenage girl has been charged with conspiracy in a child pornography case involving two other teenagers.

The 16-year-old from Lincoln was arrested and charged with conspiracy. She's accused of taking explicit photos of two friends, 19-year-old Elizabeth Muller of North Smithfield and a 16-year-old girl from Lincoln whose name hasn't been released.

The photos were later posted on their MySpace Web sites. The name of the third girl, who was charged Wednesday, also has not been released. The other two teens were arrested earlier this week and charged with child pornography.

"Being in the Congress while black"

Cynthia McKinney, the Georgia congresswoman who had an altercation with a Capitol Police officer, says she was "just a victim of being in Congress while black.""

The bombing starts in eight months

According to the "TigerHawk" blog, that's what Diane Swonk, the Chief Economist at Mesirow Financial say the following to room of more than 1000 people (mostly MBA candidates):
"We're going to hit Iran. We are currently selling Israel 5 planes a month. They've got about 40, and will need 60, five squadrons, to help us complete the mission which will be a joint effort. It will begin the week after the US mid-term elections."

City Releases Tapes of 911 Calls From Sept. 11 Attack

The NYT has a story and graphics of the release of the 911 tapes. The bad part:

"They describe crowded islands of fleeting survival, on floors far from the crash and even on those that were directly hit: Hallways are blocked on 104. Send help to 84. It is hard to breathe on 97.

Be calm, the operators implore. God is there. Sit tight."

No more than 2 of the 130 callers were told to leave, the tapes reveal, even though unequivocal orders to evacuate the trade center had been given by fire chiefs and police commanders moments after the first plane struck. The city had no procedure for field commanders to share information with the 911 system, a flaw identified by the 9/11 Commission that city officials say has since been fixed.

The tapes show that many callers were not told to leave, but to stay put, the standard advice for high-rise fires. In the north tower, all three of the building's stairways were destroyed at the 92nd floor. But in the south tower, where one stairway remained passable, the recordings include references to perhaps a few hundred people huddled in offices, unaware of the order to leave. Rest here

Don't Confuse Them With Logic

Stephen Green says

President Bush isn't a fascist, and I can prove it.

We've seen what American bookstores and publications and universities do when confronted with real fascists: they knuckle under. You might not be able to find those Danish cartoons anyplace respectable, but you'll sure find lots of anti-Bush stuff.

Ipso facto, America is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Different Flag, Different Lyrics, But the Same Old Tune

George Reisman says:

The flag is Green now, instead of Red. And the lyrics are different. But the tune is still the same old tune.

When the Reds sang it, the lyrics were that the individual could not be left free because the result would be such things as "exploitation," "monopoly," and depressions. When the Greens sing it, the lyrics are that the individual cannot be left free because the result will be such things as destruction of the ozone layer, acid rain, and global warming. (Add an extra chorus now for global warming.)

The tune is still that the individual cannot be left free, that he cannot be left free because his peaceful pursuit of his own happiness and prosperity somehow inflicts harm on others, and that only the government's pointing a gun at his head will save the rest of mankind from some dreadful calamity.

The Red thugs wanted to control the economic system to set things right. The Green thugs want to control the environment, especially the climate, to set things right.

The Red thugs had no idea of what they were doing and neither do the Green thugs. Just consider this statement from a supporter of prohibitions on carbon dioxide emissions in order to stop global warming:

One of the ironies of the Arctic melting is that it runs the risk of flipping the switch on oceanic thermohaline circulation and shutting down the Atlantic current - this could lead to a sharp cooling in Europe (which lies further north than the US), and appears to have happened in the past. (Posted by "Tokyo Tom" on the Ludwig von Mises Institute's Blog on March 30, 2006 08:24PM)

Here is someone who doesn't even know if the global warming he wants to stop will turn out to be a continent-wide cooling instead. But that gives him no pause. He still thinks he knows enough to send the police out to stop people from acting on the knowledge they have about the good they can achieve for themselves by producing and buying goods that happen to emit some carbon dioxide into the air. Their knowledge is to count for nothing. The allegedly superior knowledge of "scientists" is to prevail—at the point of a gun.

That's the bottom line. Pointing guns at people in the name of some higher collective good, and prohibiting them from achieving their own good. That's socialism. That's environmentalism.

No problem here!

That's what Cuban Miami blogger Bob has to say for South Florida.

"Many (not most, but quite a few) of the protesters in the other cities had anti-American signs, chanted anti-American slogans and in an isolated case even burned an American flag. You will be hard-pressed to find an hardcore anti-American immigrant in South Florida. They don't have the "history" factor that many Mexicans in California and Texas have, for example. They just want to come here for a better life and hold no grudges. They work hard and are grateful for what they have. Sure, they complain occasionally, but I have never seen blatant anti-Americanism."

This will be an explosive battle.

Ward Connelly finally got this on the ballot:

Michigan voters will make the next decision in what is shaping up as an emotional and divisive campaign to ban race and gender preferences in university admissions and government hiring and contracting.

On Thursday, the Michigan Supreme Court put an end to the long, litigious and occasionally raucous fight over whether the issue should go on the Nov. 7 ballot. The court decided not to hear arguments on whether the backers of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative misled people who signed their petitions.

The ballot initiative would amend the state Constitution "to ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin" in government hiring, contracting and university admissions.

What that would mean in practical terms is a matter of intense disagreement. Backers generally argue it would end the use of race in college admissions decisions like those made regarding applicants to the University of Michigan, and require the government to make race- and gender-neutral decisions. Opponents say the effects would be far-reaching, preventing any consideration in government to provide opportunity to minorities and women.

Oh, Joy! Will they really do it?

Capitol Hill police plan to issue an arrest warrant today for Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.).

The warrant is related to the incident Wednesday when McKinney allegedly slapped a Capitol Hill police officer.

Charges could range from assault on a police officer, which is a felony carrying a possible five year prison term, to simple assault, which is a misdeamenor.

You can't be too thin or too poor, I guess

Ted Turner's analysis of North Korea is making the rounds. I got this from "NewsBusters."

Ted Turner: "I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere. There’s really no reason for them to cheat [on nukes]....I looked them right in the eyes. And they looked like they meant the truth. I mean, you know, just because somebody’s done something wrong in the past doesn’t mean they can’t do right in the future or the present. That happens all the, all the time."
Wolf Blitzer: "But this is one of the most despotic regimes and Kim Jong-Il is one of the worst men on Earth. Isn’t that a fair assessment?"
Turner: "Well, I didn’t get to meet him, but he didn’t look — in the pictures that I’ve seen of him on CNN, he didn’t look too much different than most other people I’ve met."
Blitzer: "But, look at the way, look at the way he’s, look at the way he’s treating his own people."
Turner: "Well, hey, listen. I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but–"
Blitzer: "A lot of those people are starving."
Turner: "I didn’t see any, I didn’t see any brutality...."

This is certainly not helpful for illegal immigrants. And shows the anti-American feelings that are just below the surface. Take a look at all the pictures

The Twilight of Objectivity

Michael Kinsley says; opinion journalism could change the face of the news.

"No one seriously doubts anymore that the Internet will fundamentally change the news business. The uncertainty is whether it will only change the method of delivering the product, or whether it will change the nature of the product as well. Will people want, in any form—and will they pay for—a collection of articles, written by professional journalists from a detached and purportedly objective point of view? The television industry is panicky as well. Will anyone sit through a half-hour newscast invented back when everyone had to watch the same thing at the same time? Or are blogs and podcasts the cutting edge of a new model for both print and video—more personalized, more interactive, more opinionated, more communal, less objective?

Objectivity—the faith professed by American journalism and by its critics—is less an ideal than a conceit. It's not that all journalists are secretly biased, or even that perfect objectivity is an admirable but unachievable goal. In fact, most reporters work hard to be objective and the best come very close. The trouble is that objectivity is a muddled concept. Many of the world's most highly opinionated people believe with a passion that it is wrong for reporters to have any opinions at all about what they cover. These critics are people who could shed their own skins more easily than they could shed their opinions. But they expect it of journalists. It can't be done. Journalists who claim to have developed no opinions about what they cover are either lying or deeply incurious and unreflective about the world around them. In either case, they might be happier in another line of work."

Read it all

If boys and girls are oppressed classes, who’s left?

Heather McDonald writes in the "City Journal:"

"The moment is close when the United States will be composed entirely of victim groups. For the last year, the press has sounded the alarm about a new gender crisis in education: boys reportedly make up a declining portion of applicants to, and students within, colleges. More than 56 percent of undergraduates are women; two-thirds of all colleges and universities report receiving more applications from girls than from boys, according to a recent New York Times op-ed. The implication is obvious: we—the federal government, state bureaucrats, and the endlessly expanding diversity industry—need to do something! Even New York Times columnist John Tierney, ordinarily a ruthless debunker of big government, called last week for the federal Department of Education to "figur[e] out how to help boys reach college."

And so the future is clear. That rustling sound you hear is the migration of university deans and associate provosts, "managing differences" consultants, and ed school faculty to the next big employment bonanza: helping boys succeed! Boys are poised to become the newest victim class, requiring a sturdy structure of advisors, trainers, and counselors just to get by. The requisite helping apparatus is already in place: the professions and academia overflow with committees on the recruitment and retention of minorities and women; they will undoubtedly be only too happy to expand their mandate to boys.

But what, you say, about girls' hallowed victim status—how can it co-exist with a newly designated male oppressed class? Not to worry. The great thing about victim thinking is that it is not zero-sum; it is win-win. Each individual, each group, can be a victim in his or her or his/her own special way. And victims can provisionally join the oppressor class for special occasions—the alliance between Western white liberals and Third World peoples of color, for example, was unceremoniously broken when Episcopal priests and congregations in Africa declared their lack of enthusiasm for gay ministers. No need, then, to dismantle the vibrant private and public Title IX and women's "equity in education" offices. Girls can be victims vis-à-vis boys when it comes to sports and representation in math and science. And boys can be victims vis-à-vis girls when it comes to enrollment in undergraduate education in general, and in such majors as anthropology and psychology in particular.

Here's a better suggestion for the alleged gender gap in education: do nothing. If boys lag in undergraduate enrollment, let them study a little harder, or stay a little more focused, on their own. They don't need the inevitable new bureaucracies in order to pull up their own bootstraps." Read it all

This segment of a NYT story raises a lot of questions.

"In a videotape posted Thursday on the Internet, made before her release, Ms. Carroll denounced the American presence in Iraq and praised the insurgents fighting here. In the video, Ms. Carroll smiled, laughed once and gestured in a seemingly relaxed manner, saying she felt guilty about being released while so many Iraqis were still suffering.

Ms. Carroll, apparently knowing she would be released, denounced what she described as the "lies" told by the American government and predicted that the insurgents would defeat the Americans in Iraq. "I feel guilty. I also feel that it just shows that the mujahedeen are good people fighting an honorable fight, a good fight. While the Americans are here, the occupying forces, you know, treating the people in a very, very bad way. So I can't be happy totally for my freedom because there are people still suffering in prisons, in very difficult situations."

Ms. Carroll was seated in front of a white background, where she answered questions put to her in accented English by a man standing offscreen. The video was distributed by SITE, a Washington, D.C.-based group that tracks jihadist Web sites.

These kind words for her captors were a sharp contrast to her demeanor on the videotapes made shortly after her kidnapping, in which she appeared distraught, weeping and terrified. Ms. Carroll's seeming sympathy for her captors suggested either that she was pretending in hopes of gaining her release or that, after suffering weeks of extreme duress, she had fallen under the sway of her kidnappers." Rest here

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Iran's Defenses and How To Destroy Them

Harold C. Hutchison at Strategy Page says:

With the increasing irrationality of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the potential for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon as soon as this year, air strikes to delay the Iranian nuclear program are getting more and more consideration. How might such an air strike go? It is not an idle question, as such a strike is entirely possible.

Taking down these defenses is step one. One way is to suppress the defense using the AGM-88, or HARM anti-radiation missiles, to kill the radars that guide these missiles. Another option is to use stealth aircraft like the F-117, B-2, and F-22 to deliver JDAMs onto the missile launchers. A third option will be to use Tomahawk and ALCMs against these targets. At the same time, aircraft like the F-15, F-15E, F-16 and F-18 will be carrying out counter-air missions to take out the Iranian Air Force either on the ground or in the air.

This is not going to be an easy undertaking. Unlike Desert Fox, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom, the United States will be facing an opponent with a relatively intact air-defense system, much like Iraq's at the start of Desert Storm in 1991, only with more modern systems. This will likely cost the United States some aircraft and highly-trained aircrews. But when the alternative is letting Ahmadinejad have weapons that can wipe out an entire city – prompting a devastating response. Rest Here

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

Reporter Freed in Iraq, 3 Months After Abduction is the New York Times lead. She sure is nice when she talks about her captors, especially since they killed her translator. This USA Today story covers the reasons behind her release, The Times also has this story that indicates there may have more to her release than we know. Seems there was another Video by her released in which she expressed solidarity with her captors. The Times' second lead is the FBI screwup, At Sept. 11 Trial, Tale of Missteps and ManagementAt Sept. 11 Trial, Tale of Missteps and Management. The middle lead, with a major picture, is Preventable Disease Blinds Poor in Third World.

The WaPo has Projected Repair Costs For Levees Triple. They follow with Borders Push Boosts Tancredo's Profile, a story about the GOP Congressman from Colorado who has led the fight for stricter control of immigration.

Whose Backlash?

Victor Davis Hanson Says:

If many thousands of illegal aliens marched in their zeal, many more millions of Americans of all different races and backgrounds watched--and seethed. They were struck by the Orwellian incongruities--Mexican flags, chants of "Mexico, Mexico," and the spectacle of illegal alien residents lecturing citizen hosts on what was permissible in their own country.

If the demonstrators thought that they were bringing attention to their legitimate grievances--the sheer impossibility of deporting 11 million residents across the border or the hypocrisy of Americans de facto profiting from "illegals" who cook their food, make their beds, and cut their lawns--they seemed oblivious to the embarrassing contradictions of their own symbolism and rhetoric. Most Americans I talked to in California summed up their reactions to the marches as something like, 'Why would anyone wave the flag of the country that they would never return to--and yet scream in anger at those with whom they wish to stay?' Depending on the particular questions asked, polls reveal that somewhere around 60-80% of the public is vehemently opposed to illegal immigration.

Something of the same backlash may soon follow these demonstrations. There are over 300 million resident Americans, and the vast majority of them are citizens. Had the demonstrators marched chanting "God Bless America," confined their flag waving to Old Glory, and expressed thanks to a magnanimous United States that gave them a second chance when a corrupt Mexico has precluded their first, then they would have won public support. Read the rest

My Immigration Advice to the GOP

Dick Morris says:

"Yes to the fence, yes to guest workers and no to greater criminalization are the keys to giving the Republican Party access to Latino votes in the future while coping with an issue that roils tens of millions of Americans."

Swann Holds Slight Lead in Pa. Gov. Race

This will hurt Casey and help Santorium. Rendell was supposed to give Casey a lift, but now he will be fighting for his own job.

AP - Pro Football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann held a slight lead over Gov. Ed Rendell in a statewide poll released Thursday, but more than a third of registered voters indicated they hadn't settled on either candidate.

Thirty-five percent of those surveyed in the IssuesPA/Pew Poll said they were likely to vote for Swann, a retired Pittsburgh Steelers star and Republican campaigning to become the state's first black governor.

Twenty-nine percent said they would probably support Rendell, a Democrat and former Philadelphia mayor who is running for a second four-year term.

candidate. Neither Swann nor Rendell faces a primary challenge.

Criminal immigrants account for half of federal cases in Kansas

AP Reports: In 10 years the number of federal cases statewide involving at least one person who is not a U.S. citizen has grown from 10 percent to 50 percent, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Brent Anderson attributed the jump in the state's federal cases involving foreign nationals to the huge increase in the population of immigrants living in Kansas and Mexico's growing involvement as a transportation conduit in the drug trade.

Bibi blew it, so now Israel suffers

Sidney Zion says,

"If Benjamin Netanyahu had gone along with Ariel Sharon last fall, he'd be picking his cabinet today.

All he had to do was shut his mouth, raise his hand for the Gaza pullout and he'd be back again as prime minister of Israel.

Because he didn't do nothing, today he presides over a Likud Party that no longer means anything, a party reduced to a fourth-rate rump group in the newly elected Knesset.

What this means goes way beyond Bibi Netanyahu's career. The Israeli election practically guarantees political instability in the Jewish state.

If Bibi hadn't challenged Sharon in the Likud, Arik would have never left Likud, the party he created, to set up his new party, Kadima. Rest here

Scans Show Different Growth for Intelligent Brains

A lot of people aren't going to like this! The nature/nurture argument comes down on the side of nature again.

How the FBI Let 9/11 Happen

Are we afraid of ordinary Muslims?

That's what Tigerhawk asks:
"Is our fear of ordinary Muslims changing our behavior in countless small ways? In the last day or so, Charles Johnson and Eugene Volokh have documented two very different cases of major institutions -- a huge corporation and a famous university -- giving in to Muslim pressure because they are afraid. This fear is quite obviously not of al Qaeda, but of ordinary Muslims. Is it warranted, or are Borders Books and New York University racist institutions, conjuring and spreading unjustified fear? I'm struggling to come up with a third explanation. "

Liberalese Translated

Don Surber says:

A friend sent me the following Republican-to-English dictionary that has been making the rounds:

  • alternative energy sources /n./ New locations to drill for gas and oil.
  • bankruptcy /n./ A means of escaping debt available to corporations but not to poor people.
  • Cheney, Dick /n./ The greater of two evils.
  • class warfare /n./ Any attempt to raise the minimum wage.
  • climate change /n./ Progress toward the blessed day when the blue states are swallowed by the oceans.
read them all

"Apathy & Inconclusiveness"

Emanuele Ottolenghi has the best column I have read on the Israel election.
"Today Israel could have woken up to a new political reality. Instead, it chose the old confused and checkered landscape of twelve parties, and no clear mandate. There are winners and losers of course. Israel Beteinu, with 12 projected seats, has humbled Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud. And with a combined force of 32 seats, the nationalist camp and its vision of a Greater Israel is forever lost. Labour's Amir Peretz claims to be a winner, and demands already the finance and the education ministries. But his only strength is Ehud Olmert's weakness: After all, Labour won 19 seats last time around and 20 this time. It held its ground no doubt, unlike Likud, but with its Meretz ally down to four seats and the Arab parties beyond the pale of consensus, the Left's victory would not cause envy even to Pyrrhus. Olmert controls 28 seats, a far cry from what the polls suggested and his supporters hoped. It will not be easy to form a government that can both last and make fateful, controversial decisions without sparring a coalition meltdown or sowing the seeds of civil war."
Read it all

Censors Win at NYU

FIRE reports:

....administrators at New York University (NYU) were attempting to squelch a panel discussion on the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Leaders of the NYU Objectivist Club, which organized the panel, were told to choose one of two unacceptable options. They could either exclude the over 150 off-campus guests who had registered to attend the event or agree not to show the Danish cartoons. E-mails from NYU administrator Robert Butler on March 27 and 28 substantiating this ultimatum are available on FIRE’s website.

NYU’s shameful actions violate both the moral principle of freedom of speech and, as UCLA Professor of Law Eugene Volokh recently noted, its own policies. FIRE has archived the relevant policies, in which NYU shockingly claims to be “committed to maintaining an environment where open, vigorous debate and speech can occur.” But NYU’s actions last night show that its real commitment is to censorship. As an NYU spokesman told Inside Higher Ed, the university’s objection to the cartoons is based on the fact that “an important group in our Muslim community made it clear that they found the display of the cartoons deeply offensive.” The spokesman also told the New York Sun that “it wasn't necessary to show the cartoons to discuss them.” And if that wasn’t enough lunacy for one day, the spokesman said the following to NYU’s student paper: “Realistically, one can have a discussion on smallpox without actually handing out the the live virus to the audience.”

Read it all

American Dhimmitude

Borders, Waldenbooks Won't Carry Magazine

AP - Borders and Waldenbooks stores will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that provoked deadly protests among Muslims in several countries.

"For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority," Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham said Wednesday.

Patriots, Then and Now

Peggy Noonan says, "With nations as with people, love them or lose them."

"Because we do not communicate to our immigrants, legal and illegal, that they have joined something special, some of them, understandably, get the impression they've joined not a great enterprise but a big box store. A big box store on the highway where you can get anything cheap. It's a good place. But it has no legends, no meaning, and it imparts no spirit.

Who is at fault? Those of us who let the myth die, or let it change, or refused to let it be told. The politically correct nitwit teaching the seventh-grade history class who decides the impressionable young minds before him need to be informed, as their first serious history lesson, that the Founders were hypocrites, the Bill of Rights nothing new and imperfect in any case, that the Indians were victims of genocide, that Lincoln was a clinically depressed homosexual who compensated for the storms within by creating storms without . . .

You can turn any history into mud. You can turn great men and women into mud too, if you want to.

And it's not just the nitwits, wherever they are, in the schools, the academy, the media, though they're all harmful enough. It's also the people who mean to be honestly and legitimately critical, to provide a new look at the old text. They're not noticing that the old text--the legend, the myth--isn't being taught anymore. Only the commentary is. But if all the commentary is doubting and critical, how will our kids know what to love and revere? How will they know how to balance criticism if they've never heard the positive side of the argument?

Those who teach, and who think for a living about American history, need to be told: Keep the text, teach the text, and only then, if you must, deconstruct the text.

When you don't love something you lose it. If we do not teach new Americans to love their country, and not for braying or nationalistic reasons but for reasons of honest and thoughtful appreciation, and gratitude, for a history that is something new in the long story of man, then we will begin to lose it."

"Chirac Prepares To Jump"

Eurosoc says:

"Chirac has a history of crumbling in the face of street protests, but nearing the end of his presidential term and with few prospects of re-election next May, he might decide that he has little to lose in a brawl with the unions.

What sort of "social clash" would we expect, then? The unions certainly have the people on the street, and their iron grip on public services such as transport and utilities could make life very difficult indeed for the government. However, union leaders too must think strategically, and balance their obvious glee in making France ungovernable with the risk that the public could quickly tire of striking antics, particularly if general strikes become weekly events.

The unions have the media on their side. Footage of attractive protesting students sets the French soul aglow, something broadcasters and newspapers have been quick to exploit. However, while the disturbing sight of France's media marching in step is useful for short-term campaigns, a protest lasting longer might force dissenting voices into the open."

This is insane

Teen Faces Child Porn Charges For Posting Pics Of Friends

ALLEGAN, Mich. -- A Michigan high school student faces child pornography charges over an Internet party prank.

Prosecutors charge Ryan Zylstra, 17, posted a picture of two teens having sex on his blog. The photo was taken at a New Year's Eve party at Zylstra's home.

Authorities said the boy in the picture is 17, while the girl is 16. According to prosecutors, the age of the girl makes the sexually explicit picture child pornography under the law.

Zylstra now faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges, which are felonies.

Tuesday, Zylstra was in court and waived a preliminary hearing. The decision means his case will be bound over for trial in Allegan County Circuit Court.

No trial date has been set.

Elections Matter

David Frum points out that:

"Canada's new Conservative government cuts off aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority ... ahead of the EU or the United...: Canada's new Conservative government cuts off aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority ... ahead of the EU or the United States...."

I wonder if they will change their position on Cuba when Castro commits his next provocation?


Don Boudreaux, who blogs at "Cafe Hayek," has an interesting column in the Pittsburg paper today contrasting what you could buy at Sears in 1975 with what you could buy today, working the same hours. Not only can you get more for your hours, but the difference is quality is large. He says:

"Consumption is the ultimate purpose of economic activity. And one of the most reliable measures of an economy's success is how much ordinary people can consume out of their incomes.

If an ordinary person's "consumption-ability" increases over time, he is better off than before and the economy is doing well. In contrast, if this person's consumption-ability decreases, he is worse off and the economy is doing poorly.

This is true regardless of what happens to per capita gross domestic product, the consumer price index or any other measure of economic activity reported regularly in newspapers and on television."

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