Friday, September 30, 2005

Save The Iowa Rainforest

Satire ahead:
As many of you know, my home state of Iowa has worked for years to promote the Iowa Child Project – a grassroots effort to restore Iowa’s depleted rainforests, which were destroyed some 400 million years ago by unregulated brontosaurus development and careless asteroids. The centerpiece of this critically needed environmental program is the Iowa Rainforest Project, a planned 85 acre glass-enclosed tropical bio-vegi-dome/ entertainment complex/ factory outlet mall slated for construction next to the I-80 Citgo Truck Haven in Coralville. This important project has earned the rave reviews of environmentalists, public officials, media, and glass contractors across the Hawkeye State. Their enthusiastic support has, in turn, spurred a major public-private partnership funded with federal, state, county, and township grants, as well as a major $150 private investment from the Truck Haven gift shop.
I don't know whether the fact that this is actually a real project makes it more humorous or really sad.

Israeli Reaction To Terror Gains Support

Jerusalem Post:
Israel's response to the recent Kassam rocket attacks on Sderot has been measured and appropriate, Kim Howells, Britain's Minister of State for the Middle East, told The Jerusalem Post, disregarding Palestinian appeals for the world to rein in the IDF.

Howells, on a three-day visit to the region, hinted in an interview Wednesday night that financial aid to the Palestinian Authority might be withheld if the PA did not seriously begin tackling the terrorism in its midst.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Road To Cooperstown

When he retires from baseball, Mike Piazza will be remembered as the best hitting catcher of all time. He is most likely spending his last few days in a Mets uniform, and the long home run he hit tonight, followed by a curtain call demanded by the small, yet boisterous crowd, was a reminder of the great run he has had in New York. Next season, he will probably play with an American League team, so that he can end his career as a DH.

Gloria Salt writes a fitting tribute:
It would be difficult to find another future Hall of Famer whose provenance is more underwhelming. He had a tepid, abbreviated college career in which his hitting prowess was evident but his slowness a constant liability. His professional prospects seemed dim to hopeless by the 62nd round of the 1988 major league draft. Indeed, Piazza would almost certainly now be just a regular Joe had he not gotten a major break at that moment: Family friend Tommy LaSorda stepped in to urge the Los Angeles Dodgers to give Piazza a shot. He was reluctantly picked up late in that round, with the Dodgers so skeptical about him that they wouldn’t pay his plane fare to L.A.
Piazza hurled himself into the project of professional ball with the same single-minded determination that had led him to spend winters shoveling snow out of the makeshift batting cage his father built for him in his Pennsylvania backyard. Partly to justify LaSorda’s faith in him and partly to counter constant accusations that he’d been given a free ride, Piazza did everything imaginable to mold himself into a major-leaguer.
Piazza had the pluck to stick it out in New York, not in spite of the ferociousness of the impatient New York fans but because of it. And he was rewarded, after a year of snippy phenom-baiting, by an outpouring of adoration from fans of both genders and respect from the press...

Islamic Militants Arrested Near Paris

NY Times:
Nine Islamic militants arrested outside Paris on Monday were plotting a terrorist attack on the Paris subway system, an airport or France's intelligence headquarters, an intelligence official said Tuesday, raising fears that the capital could face bombings similar to those that killed more than 50 people in London in July.
The French wouldn't have to worry if they would just get their troops out of Iraq. Oh. Never mind.

The DeLay Indictment

Howard Kurtz has the facts, and a roundup of opinion.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Slavery Is Freedom

The NY Times reports on a visit by Karen Hughes to Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Bush administration. She spoke to 500 women at a university:
When Ms. Hughes expressed the hope here that Saudi women would be able to drive and "fully participate in society" much as they do in her country, many challenged her.

"The general image of the Arab woman is that she isn't happy," one audience member said. "Well, we're all pretty happy." The room, full of students, faculty members and some professionals, resounded with applause.

The administration's efforts to publicize American ideals in the Muslim world have often run into such resistance. For that reason, Ms. Hughes, who is considered one of the administration's most scripted and careful members, was hired specifically for the task.

Many in this region say they resent the American assumption that, given the chance, everyone would live like Americans.
Reread that last sentence. The key phrase is "given the chance". Shouldn't the point be that these women do not have the chance to live as they would like? Don't these women deserve the freedom to decide whether or not they would like to drive? Don't these women deserve the freedom to dress in whatever manner they choose? Don't these women deserve to be free from the fear of severe punishment if they do not behave in a certain way? Were these women hand-picked for this audience? Were they free to speak their minds?

Shouldn't the NY Times be asking these questions?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Anatomy Of A Photograph

The citizen media of the blogosphere does an excellent job of exposing the bias and sometimes sloppy work of the mainstream media. Almost daily, you can find examples of journalists who have shaped their work to fit their own agenda.

Zombie attended an anti-war rally in San Francisco last Saturday, and took some pictures. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but what it says depends on how you crop it.

Anti-War?

Christopher Hitchens looks at the groups that organized last weekend's protest in Washington, "International ANSWER", and "United For Peace And Justice". He also takes issue with the way these groups are portrayed by the mainstream media.
To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side.
I'm sure that the majority of Americans who would describe themselves as "anti-war" are not extremists, and do not support these anti-American groups. However, the association with these groups taints the anti-war movement, and the media doesn't help by failing to tell the public what ANSWER and their ilk really stand for. The media is damaging the movement that they aim to foster.

Mary Mapes Still Doesn't Get It

Mary Mapes, a former CBS news producer, has written a book in which she attacks bloggers who uncovered the fact that the infamous Bush National Guard memo was not authentic. Rand Simberg slices and dices:
Well, some of them [bloggers] (unlike you, apparently) were smart enough to call the fax number on the memo, and determine that it came from a Kinko's in Texas. And though there was in fact analysis of what the documents actually said, which also helped torpedo them, it was in fact enough, Mary. It's hard (perhaps impossible) to prove that a document is authentic, but it only takes one solid strike against its validity to show it to be inauthentic. And the fact that you still don't understand that, or understand basic logic at all, is why you are now out of a job, and should never have had that job to begin with. This isn't merely "stuck on stupid." This is turned all the way up to eleven on stupid.

Looting the Treasury

The Washington Post pulls no punches with Louisiana's legislators:
THE NATION is at war. It is mired in debt. It has been hit by floods and hurricanes. In the face of this adversity, congressional leaders have rightly dropped proposals for yet more tax cuts, and some have suggested removing the pork from the recently passed transportation bill. But this spirit of forbearance has not touched the Louisiana congressional delegation. The state's representatives have come up with a request for $250 billion in federal reconstruction funds for Louisiana alone -- more than $50,000 per person in the state. This money would come on top of payouts from businesses, national charities and insurers. And it would come on top of the $62.3 billion that Congress has already appropriated for emergency relief.

Like looters who seize six televisions when their homes have room for only two, the Louisiana legislators are out to grab more federal cash than they could possibly spend usefully. For example, their bill demands $7 billion for rebuilding evacuation and energy supply routes, but it also demands a separate $5 billion for road building and makes no mention of the $3.1 billion already awarded to the state in the recent transportation legislation. The bill demands $50 billion in community development block grants, partly to get small businesses going, but it also demands $150 million for a small-business loan fund plus generous business tax breaks. The bill even asks for $35 million for seafood marketing and $25 million for a sugar-cane research laboratory. This is the equivalent of New York responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center by insisting upon a federally financed stadium in Brooklyn.

The Louisiana delegation has apparently devoted little thought to the root causes of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. New Orleans was flooded not because the Army Corps of Engineers had insufficient money to build flood protections, but because its money was allocated by a system of political patronage.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Would You Believe...?

Don Adams dies at the age of 82.
Don Adams, the wry-voiced comedian who starred as the fumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in the 1960s TV spoof of James Bond movies, "Get Smart," has died.

Adams died of a lung infection late Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his friend and former agent Bruce Tufeld said Monday, adding that the actor broke his hip a year ago and had been in ill health since.

Beyond Media Bias

An al-Jazeera reporter has been sentenced to seven years in prison by a Spanish court. He was convicted of collaborating with al-Qaeda by acting as a courier. More here, and here.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Chinese Censorship

China is implementing new regulations that will restrict the content on news websites.
Only "healthy and civilized news and information that is beneficial to the improvement of the quality of the nation, beneficial to its economic development and conducive to social progress" will be allowed, Xinhua said.

"The sites are prohibited from spreading news and information that goes against state security and public interest," it added.

While the communist government encourages Internet use for education and business, it also blocks material it deems subversive or pornographic. Online dissidents who post items critical of the government, or those expressing opinions in chatrooms, are regularly arrested and charged under vaguely worded state security laws.
UPDATE: Mickey Kaus has some advice for the Chinese government:
Why does China have to spend millions on new repressive opinion-blocking technologies and new complicated anti-speech rules when it could just adopt TimesSelect across the board and accomplish the same thing more efficiently and with less controversy?... The NYT might even lease its proprietary TimesSelect technology to threatened dictatorships around the globe as a turnkey solution to their Internet dissent problems. Worried about subversive pro-democracy agitators? Just make them part of TimesSelect's premium content and they'll never be heard from again!

Media Watch

Protein Wisdom examines AP's reporting of Saturday's anti-war rally in Washington. I haven't seen an official tally of the attendence, but the mainstream media is straining to make us believe that the promises of 100,000 were not overly optimistic.

Friday, September 23, 2005

VDH Friday

Victor Davis Hanson considers our policy in Iraq, looks at the alternatives, and suggests that we "stay the course".
Our current policy is not just correct because we are now wedded to it. In fact, it is a reaction to our past strategy of realpolitik coupled with appeasement. That strategy led us to 9/11 and a quarter century of terror originating in Iran in November 1979 — whether we define that history as cynical support for dictators, leaving after lobbing a few shells and bombs in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Somalia, or Iraq, or allowing wounded tyrants like Saddam to stay in power.

Second, our efforts after 9/11 represent not the worst, but the best of America abroad. Millions just voted yet again in Afghanistan in one of the true revolutionary events of our time — mostly unnoticed by Western media.

We forget that Iraq was not liberated until almost 15 months after Kabul. Yet it is already progressing down the same constitutional road. Despised Kurds and Shiites have achieved equal representation. And that topsy-turvy world has infuriated a once oppressive Sunni minority, formerly associated with Saddam Hussein, now in sympathy with al Zarqawi , the terrorist killer. Once unpopular because we were alleged to be cynical in our support of dictators, we are now even more suspect because we are proven proponents of downtrodden Kurds and Shiites in their efforts for political equality. Most Americans — since they are going to be disliked either way — prefer to be hated for their idealism rather than their cynicism.

Billions in American material aid has flowed to Iraqis, even as the price of oil has skyrocketed, costing us billions more — so much for oil conspiracies and stealing Arab resources. In short, Iraq is not an imperialistic venture, but a messy, unappreciated attempt to make the United States more secure by removing dictators from their petrodollar-funded arsenals and leaving constitutional governments in their wake, while promoting social justice for the formerly marginalized.

Note that so far there are none of the indications that would rightly tell us it is high time to leave Iraq: Polls don’t suggest that Iraqis want us out immediately; the parliament has not asked the United States to depart; President Talabani does not order us home; American military commanders and diplomats on the ground in Iraq have not concluded that success is impossible, and there is not a grassroots popular movement across religious and tribal lines to oppose the American-sponsored democratic reforms.

Even though we have failed so far to marshal the strength to crush the Sunni insurrection, Iraq is still a far better place now than it was in March 2003, as most Iraqis agree. The Middle East is a better place, whether in Palestine, Afghanistan, or Lebanon. And the position of the United States, the object of unprecedented acrimony and invective, is better off — whether we measure that as the absence of another 9/11 attack, strengthening friendships with India, Japan, Eastern Europe, and the English-speaking countries, reforming the anti-American U.N., or making some progress in North Korea.

Behind The Protest

Tomorrow, there will be an antiwar protest in Washington. This post at Instapundit discusses the rally's organizers. Are they antiwar or anti-U.S.? Is this a growing popular movement, or a collection of far left fringe groups who yearn for attention (and get too much of it from the mainstream media)?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

No Terrorism From Fatah!?

An editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is hopeful that the terrorist group Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, will undergo a political evolution. It urges the encouragement of Hamas to join the political process, in hopes that this will cause the organization to be transformed into a peaceful one (cue the doves).

This editorial loses all credibility with the following statement:
Unlike Fatah, however, Hamas is still in the terrorism business...
Okay, now pick your jaw up off of the floor. Since when has Fatah given up the terrorism business? For one thing, Fatah supports the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, which is responsible for a multitude of terrorist attacks. I could go on and on, but I think it's pretty obvious that the editorial writer is either ignorant or delusional. Fatah is near the top of the Fortune 500 of terrorism.

Don't Shake Hands With A Braves Fan

Yeah, like I would anyway. From ESPN:
Men are dirtier than women. So scientists confirmed by spying in public restrooms, watching as one-quarter of men left without washing their hands.

The worst offenders were at an Atlanta Braves game.

In contrast, 90 percent of the women did wash up.
Let's go Mets! (Just wait till next year.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What Is A Cat-5?

With Hurricane Rita heading towards Texas, Houston resident Laurence Simon maintains his sense of humor.

John McCain's Anti-Torture Amendments

Senator John McCain attached three amendments to a $42 billion Pentagon authorization bill. Nat Hentoff:
Affirming American values, Mr. McCain's first amendment would have established "the Army Field Manual as the standard for interrogation of all detainees held in the Department of Defense (DOD) custody." He noted that a new edition of the Army manual is due out soon, but his amendment would require that congressional defense committees be informed 30 days before any revisions.
In view of the bypassing of the Army Field Manual in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan, resulting in the abuses of prisoners, "the revisions would have to be consistent with (our) laws and treaty obligations."
Tellingly, Mr. McCain added, "Had the manual been followed across the board, we could have avoided the prisoner abuse scandal." Mr. McCain's position is hardly radical, and, in fact, is strongly supported by several high-ranking former military officers and some of the military prosecutors enmeshed in the administration's version of "military commissions," that evade due process, at Guantanamo Bay.
Another McCain amendment, he told his colleagues, would have required that "each individual detained in a DOD facility who is a national of a foreign country be registered with the International Committee of the Red Cross. That's it. Just registered. This will help us eliminate the problem of ghost detainees we faced in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, in which other government agencies held unregistered detainees in a facility operated by our military. I believe this provision to be just basic common sense, and I can hardly see how anyone could object, though I don't doubt the sensitivity of my colleagues."
The White House did object to the amendments, and instructed Senate Majority leader Bill Frist to pull the whole Pentagon spending bill off the Senate floor lest the Senate pass the amendments with the bills.
A third amendment, which, like the others, was joined by RepublicanSens.John Warner of Virginia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, himself a former military lawyer, would have prohibited the "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of anyone in American custody" -- the very language of the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which this country has ratified. Obviously, that McCain amendment would not have been necessary if there wasn't a pattern of American detainees being treated in this way.
The bill will be going back to the Senate floor with the amendments still attached.
Will Mr. Bush veto that bill if it is passed with the amendments? Or will he take the democratic American alternative, and let a Senate vote on the McCain amendments stand if they're adopted? Or will he try again to have the entire bill pulled off the floor?

Is Oil Shale The Answer?

As crude oil prices rise, and technology improves, oil shale may be a viable alternative to Middle Eastern oil.
Eight U.S. companies have filed applications with the federal government to lease land in Colorado for oil-shale development, a sign that oil producers again are ready to gamble some 23 years after the last boom went bust.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the arm of the Interior Department that manages federal lands, has received 10 drilling applications, including three from Shell and one each from Exxon Mobil and Chevron. The companies want to develop technologies to extract oil from shale on 160-acre federal tracts in Rio Blanco County in northwestern Colorado.

The government said it will tread carefully, since it doesn't want to repeat the oil shale boom-and-bust cycles of the 1970s and 1980s that almost devastated the Western Slope's economy.

But with crude oil above $66 a barrel at the close of trading Tuesday, oil shale is a promising alternative to crude. The Green River shale deposits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming are estimated to contain 1.5 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil, and while not all of it can be recovered, half that amount is nearly triple the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.
(Emphasis is mine.)
(Via Instapundit.)

More Cronyism At The White House

On the heels of the Michael "Brownie" Brown debacle, comes the nomination of Julie Myers to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security. Who is Julie Myers?
Myers worked briefly as chief of staff to Michael Chertoff when he led the Justice Department's criminal division before he became Homeland Security secretary.

Myers also was an associate under independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr for about 16 months and has most recently served as a special assistant to President Bush handling personnel issues.

Her uncle is Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She married Chertoff's current chief of staff, John F. Wood, on Saturday.
Michelle Malkin comments: "Oh, give me a ^*&%$# break and a half!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

NY Times Select

Yesterday, the NY Times started charging for some of its online content, including its op-ed columns. However, there will always be a way to Never Pay Retail.

Media Watch-Reuters

On the day of the death of Simon Wiesenthal, every media outlet that I have seen, including al-Jazeera, has had nothing but praise for this great man. While Reuters does have an obituary, it has also decided to focus on this: "Few Nazis still to be snared after Wiesenthal death."

Sure, this may be a legitimate issue for discussion. However, it is inappropriate on the day of his death. From the title of the article, one may assume that the context may be the success of Mr. Wiesenthal's efforts to bring Nazis to justice. However, the lasting impression is that Reuters is commenting on the futility of continuing this work:
"The hunt for Nazis is no longer relevant. There are no important Nazis alive any more, essentially. Any left would be too old to be of interest," Yosef Lapid, a Holocaust survivor and former Israeli justice minister, said in a radio interview.
Again, while this topic is open to discussion, why print this on the day of Simon Wiesenthal's death? On this day, we should be commemorating his life, and his work. After his life was nearly cut short by hate, he dedicated himself to the cause of justice. This is a time for tributes, and this Reuters story is unseemly.

Simon Wiesenthal Dies At 96

Simon Wiesenthal, who hunted Nazi war criminals, and fought against prejudice died in his sleep at his home.
A survivor of five Nazi death camps, Wiesenthal changed his life's mission after the war, dedicating himself to tracking down Nazi war criminals and to being a voice for the 6 million Jews who died during the onslaught. He himself lost 89 relatives in the Holocaust.

Wiesenthal spent more than 50 years hunting Nazi war criminals, speaking out against neo-Nazism and racism, and remembering the Jewish experience as a lesson for humanity. Through his work, he said, some 1,100 Nazi war criminals were brought to justice.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Inside The "Insurgency"

You just can't find a reliable suicide bomber anymore. Could the terrorists in Iraq be having problems with recruitment?
A suicide bomber captured before he could blow himself up in a Shiite mosque claimed he was kidnapped, beaten and drugged by insurgents who forced him to take on the mission. The U.S. military said its medical tests indicated the man was telling the truth.

Mohammed Ali, who claimed to be Saudi-born and appeared to be in his 20s, said he managed to flee after another suicide attacker set off his bomb, killing at least 12 worshippers Friday as they left a mosque in the northern city of Tuz Khormato.
In confession broadcast on state television later that day, Ali told Iraqi interrogators he did not want to bomb the mosque and hoped to go home.

Results from medical tests on Ali were "consistent with his story and characterization of his treatment," Col. Billy J. Buckner, a U.S. military spokesman said Sunday.

Ali said insurgents kidnapped him from a field near his home earlier this month, then drugged and beat him.

His story was similar to those recounted by other captured militants.

Where's The Pork?

Here's a new blog that will tell you just that.

(Via Instapundit).

Agreement Reached With North Korea

From the Washington Post:
North Korea pledged Monday to abandon its entire nuclear energy program, but U.S. officials including President Bush and other diplomats participating in six-party talks warned there would be a long, difficult road of detailed negotiations before achieving the goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
The agreement, although vague, was the first real achievement of the six-party negotiating process sponsored by China since the talks began here in August 2003. Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and the chief U.S. negotiator, called it a "turning point" in the United States' long quest to prevent a nuclear-armed North Korea from becoming part of the Northeast Asian landscape.
It is a good sign to see China using its influence, although I'm always skeptical about agreements that are only agreeing to further negotiations. There is still a long way to go:
In the upcoming negotiations, North Korea will be asked to reverse the long-established pattern of concealment and deception by agreeing to highly intrusive U.N. inspections. Increasing the difficulty, specialists pointed out, North Korean diplomats are likely to seek immediate economic and energy aid in return for each step toward verification. Looking forward to those talks, Hill jokingly held his head in his hands in the classic pose of a man with a large headache.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Yahoo Helps China Crush Dissent

The Washington Post has an editorial which rightly criticizes Yahoo for the assistance that the company gave to the Chinese government in order to identify a dissident who had been using a Yahoo e-mail address.
Yahoo's co-founder, Jerry Yang, declared, "To be doing business in China, or anywhere else in the world, we have to comply with local law."
In fact, it is not at all clear that Yahoo's excuse is legitimate. American companies are not always allowed to deviate from U.S. practices when operating in foreign countries. Companies are forbidden, for example, to engage in bribery, even in countries where bribery is condoned. American companies have also been successfully sued in American courts for violating international human rights laws. More important, in 1989 Congress specifically forbade U.S. companies to sell "crime control and detection" equipment to the Chinese. At the time, that meant police gear, such as truncheons and handcuffs. Members of Congress have recently asked the Commerce Department to clarify whether that law covers the sale of filters or other repressive information technology. If the conclusion is that it doesn't, maybe it's time for Congress to have a look at that law again.
--if, in fact, American companies are helping China become more authoritarian, more hostile and more of an obstacle to U.S. goals of democracy promotion around the world -- then it is time to rethink the rules under which they operate.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Egyptian Student Arrested

A University of Memphis student, an Egyptian who is in this country illegally,
was ordered held without bond after prosecutors said they found a pilot's uniform, chart of Memphis International Airport and a DVD titled "How an Airline Captain Should Look and Act" in his apartment.
U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Thomas Anderson ruled that Maawad be held without bond.

"It is hard for the court to understand why he has a large concentration of those (aviation) items, and nothing else to indicate Mr. Maawad plans to stay in the community," Anderson said.

Maawad had ordered $3,000 in aviation materials, including DVDs titled "Ups and Downs of Takeoffs and Landings," "Airplane Talk," "Mental Math for Pilots" and "Mastering GPS Flying," FBI agent Thad Gulczynski testified.
It's only a matter of time before CAIR comments on this discriminatory arrest.

Is There A Fiscal Conservative In The House?

Well, there sure isn't one in the White House. The President is starting to sound like Ted Kennedy:
Bush vowed to help rebuild the region with an eye toward wiping out the persistent poverty and racial injustice that exist there.

"As we clear away the debris of a hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality," he said at a prayer service at Washington National Cathedral in memory of Hurricane Katrina's victims.
We're looking at billions in government spending, a social engineering component, and a vague promise of spending cuts with no increase in taxes. Is anybody else worried?

VDH Friday

With the recent anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Victor Davis Hanson looks at the promising and disheartening events of the past four years.

On the Home Front:
We are fighting a culture in radical Islam that cannot make or earn anything. It is entirely parasitic, counting only on stealthy petro-handouts from terrified regimes, which themselves create no capital of their own other than by maintaining oil production that others crafted and, for a price, mostly still operate and maintain.
Abroad:
Iran and Syria, unlike in the spring of 2003, are convinced that their efforts at subverting Iraq will either pay off with a perpetually crippled neighbor, or at least cause so much chaos that the tired American public would never support retaliation against either Teheran or Damascus for their support of terrorism. And they are absolutely right in their calculations — unless Iraq stabilizes soon and Americans can see a radically different government in a secure country as the dividend of their sacrifices.
The Future:
If the trends of the last month — more Iraqi participation, constitutional discussions, fewer attacks on Americans, Iraqi predictions of fewer U.S. troops needed — hold steady, then the public will grudgingly restore their support, the Middle East really will be forever altered, and the anti-war left will retreat to lick its wounds. The administration can tell the gung-ho right it prevailed while avoiding deploying several hundreds of thousands of troops in the Middle East and sapping its entire war-making potential — while a restive China of a billion people scares far more than radical Islam.
As always, read it all.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

CAIR-lessness With The Truth

CAIR shows us again why the organization cannot be trusted. A photo on their website was doctored (and rather poorly). While this may be a small matter, it is symbolic of the essence of CAIR. Here are the details from Robert Spencer.

Cut The Pork, Part 3

A good idea from Investor's Business Daily:
For every buck Washington spends on Katrina relief, Congress has to cut a dollar from somewhere else in the budget. Every House member and every senator, as a show of support for the hurricane's victims, should publicly give up a pork project in their district or in their state.

This includes lawmakers from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, as well. Those states accept pork just as the other 47 do, and it's a certainty that taxpayers' dollars went to pet projects in those coastal states that could have blunted the effects of Katrina had they been used properly.

The first stop for cutting the fat should be the leviathan highway bill. That larded piece of legislation, priced at $286.4 billion, has more than 6,000 pet projects that total $25 billion. Columnist George Will writes that is "about 10 times more than the price of the levee New Orleans needed" to keep the city from flooding. As Will also points out, "Louisiana's congressional delegation larded the bill with $540,580,200 worth of earmarks, one-fifth the price of a capable levee."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Media Watch-Reuters

The Onion is facing some stiff competition these days from Reuters. How can anyone take this "news service" seriously when it produces work like these photos.

While these might be humorous in the appropriate forum, in this case they represent the depths to which the mainstream media have fallen.

Palestinian Civil War Watch

From an AP story in the Jerusalem Post:
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will demand that armed groups disband immediately after parliament elections in January, a top aide said Wednesday, outlining what he described as a new plan to impose order in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli pullout earlier this week.

But Abbas' main rival Hamas reiterated it will not disarm, and Palestinian officials cautioned they would not risk civil war, despite intense international pressure to confront the armed groups. An ongoing stalemate could hamper the rebuilding of impoverished Gaza and cloud prospects for the resumption of peace talks.
Here is what Hamas has planned for Gaza:
Officers from Hamas's militia are vowing to turn Gaza into a huge armed camp devoted to digging Israel's grave, with tunnels, rocket attacks and a free flow of weapons and militants from Egypt. "If Israel attacks the West Bank, we will fire rockets from here," thundered Hamas officer Abu Muad, bouncing his young son on his lap during a "victory parade" in the abandoned Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom in central Gaza.
In other words, whenever Israel responds to terrorist attacks, Hamas will attack Israel. Most likely, Abbas is merely paying lip service to the West by saying that in the future he will demand that terrorists disarm.

Hamas is dedicated to the destruction at Israel. At some point Abbas has to either risk civil war and disarm Hamas by force, or do nothing and let Israel deal with Hamas. The question is also open as to whether Abbas believes in a two-state solution. Peace is dependent on what Palestinians do, or fail to do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Good News Time

It's Good News from Iraq, Part 35. This is Arthur Chrenkoff's last Good News post, as he is discontinuing his blog. However, the under-reported good news will still be available here.

Good luck to Arthur.

Beauty And The Beast

I am not old enough to have visited the original Penn Station in New York City, which was demolished in 1963. This architectural crime led to the formation of the Landmarks Commission, which prevented Grand Central Station from suffering a similar fate.

The current Madison Square Garden was built on the site, with a new Penn Station below it, existing as an underground pit. Improvements have been made over the years, but they can be described as a proverbial lipstick on a pig situation.

An attempt is being made to redress this monumental error by creating Moynihan Station, which will be located across the street from Penn Station.
The new station will use as its exterior the James A. Farley Post Office Building built in 1910, the same time as the original Penn Station, by the same architects, as a mirror building in the same neoclassical style, but with all new facilities inside, also inspired by the original station.
Edward B. Driscoll, Jr. has more about the history and future of Penn/Moynihan Station.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Religion of Peace and Tolerance

The world is watching to see what the Palestinians make of Gaza. One of the first things they did was to burn the remaining synagogues. How did Israeli religious leaders respond?
Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar said Monday evening that he would considering [sic] ostracizing any Jew that damages mosques in retaliation.
What would have happened if the roles were reversed? Would a Muslim cleric make a similar comment? Right.

The Jerusalem Post editorializes about the synagogue burning:
The unwritten script here is that nothing more can be expected from the Palestinians because, after all, they are enraged by 38 years of Israeli presence in Gaza. This ignores both the questions of why Israel was there in the first place, and why Israel was targeted for destruction before it set foot in Gaza. But it also papers over the real source of Muslim rage: the reigning intolerant interpretation of Islam.

Despite attempts to explain it away as a benign form of striving, the Arab-Islamic notion of jihad remains essentially unchanged since Ibn Khaldun described it in 1406: "holy war is a religious duty ... to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or force." Only Islam, he added, "is under obligation to gain power over other nations."

This has been reflected in a "what's mine is mine, what's yours is mine" approach that we see dominates Palestinian thinking. It goes without saying that no Jew, building, or grave must remain in Gaza, as much as it does that Israel must treat its own million-strong Arab minority with utmost respect.

Yet if there is ever going to be peace between Arabs and Israelis, not to mention an end to the wider jihad against America, such attitudes must be broken.
UPDATE: Alt.Muslim comments:
Imagine if Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip destroyed two dozen mosques. There would be mass rallies in front of Israeli embassies around the world, and in America organizations like CAIR and MPAC would issue righteous condemnations calling on the American government to restrain Israel. However, as we've seen today, when Palestinians streaming into liberated Gaza set fire to synagogues there is deafening silence from most Muslims and certainly from the leadership of the American Muslim community.

Cut The Pork, Part 2

During times of national crisis, two Democratic Presidents, FDR and Truman, cut non-defense spending by more than 20%. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed a $62 billion bill for relief funds. Last month, it passed a pork-laden highway bill.

Doesn't this warrant a call for fiscal responsiblity and common sense? A strong leader sometimes has to make tough choices for the good of the country. A small amount of sacrifice is all that is needed at this time, but so far, we hear nothing.

John Fund:
One successful test to see if a democracy is mature should be its ability to establish priorities, streamline procedures and engage in fresh, new thinking after a national emergency. While the jury is still out, I fear that the White House and Congress have decided instead to throw money at the ravaged Gulf Coast and ignore the example of FDR and Truman. Both of them, for example, would have known exactly what to do with the nonessential parts of the $286 billion bloated highway bill that has just been signed into law.

Terrorism And The Media

Over the weekend, I saw video and text of a second set of ravings believed to be from Adam Gadahn, an American-born jihadist. He made threats against Los Angeles and Melbourne. My first thought was to question whether this was really newsworthy. We really don't know if this is a legitimate threat or the words of an unstable person (of course the two are not mutually exclusive). Should the media be giving so much attention to people like this? Doesn't the media serve the terrorists' purposes by making them larger than life?

Austin Bay:
Terrorists can be a very small group of people or a politically weak organization. What makes the small and anonymous appear powerful and strong? In the 21st century, intense media coverage magnifies the terrorists’ capabilities. This suggests that winning the global war against Islamist terror ultimately means accomplishing two things: denying the terrorists’ weapons of mass destruction and curbing what is currently Al Qaeda’s greatest strategic capability: media magnification and occasional media enhancement of its bombing campaigns and political theatrics.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

This Is Journalism?

The question pondered by Jeff Goldstein, as he reviews some of the Katrina coverage.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Assigning Blame

Anybody who focuses blame for the slow response to Katrina's destruction on any one person or department clearly has an agenda. Charles Krauthammer spreads the blame around, in contrast to some others:
No fall of a sparrow on this planet is not attributed to sin and human perfidy. The three current favorites are: (1) global warming, (2) the war in Iraq and (3) tax cuts. Katrina hits and the unholy trinity is immediately invoked to damn sinner-in-chief George W. Bush.
The President is not without blame, but it seems that there were failures on every level. Local and state officials failed to execute an existing evacuation plan. FEMA was late in responding and may have been initially paralyzed by bureaucracy. Leadership with "virtually no experience in handling disasters", sure didn't help the people of New Orleans. Neither did a complete collapse of the infrastructure. Of course, if people had been evacuated by the city and state, they wouldn't have had to be rescued.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hypocrisy At MoveOn.org

During the 2004 Presidential campaign, MoveOn.org accused President Bush of exploiting 9/11 by using images of the World Trade Center attacks in his campaign commercials.

According to an article in USA Today, MoveOn.org is going to air a television ad that uses victims of Hurricane Katrina in its effort to discredit Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.
The ad suggests that the plight of the mostly African-American evacuees in New Orleans showed that poverty remains a serious problem among minorities, said Ben Brandzel, the group's advocacy director. In a mix of judicial and racial politics, the ad then suggests that minorities could suffer if the Senate confirms Roberts.

"The connection is obvious," Brandzel said. "The images after Hurricane Katrina show we still live in a society where significant racial inequities exist. We believe John Roberts' record on civil rights ... is clearly not the direction our country needs to head now."
Who is exploiting tragedy now?

(Via Ann Althouse).

Cut The Pork

Obviously, it will take enormous amounts of money to pay for all the work that needs to be done in New Orleans, and other areas that were decimated by Hurricane Katrina. Taxpayers will foot a large part of the bill, but the impact could be lessened by one common sense move; Congress should go back and cut some pork-barrel spending. The savings can be used to fund relief and rebuilding efforts. From the Heritage Foundation:
One way to show such sacrifice and resolve would be to agree to shift at least half of the $25 billion dollars that the recently enacted highway bill (SAFETEA-LU) dedicates to frivolous pork barrel spending in local communities around the nation. As Mississippi and Louisiana confront the replacement of dozens of wrecked bridges, is it possible that Rep. Don Young (R-AK) could give up one of the two $200 million dollar bridges he secured for his state? Perhaps Alaskans could go without the one that will serve a town of just fifty people, who now ride a ferry? Such an example of leadership and sacrifice by a senior Member like Rep. Young could persuade the rest of the Congress to follow his lead and give up there own wasteful earmarks and pork until the $12 or $13 billion dollars is redirected to those whose need is dire.
As Congress considers the vast suffering in Louisiana, is it possible that Richmond, Indiana, could give up its $3 million dollar hiking trail? Could Newark, New Jersey pass on its $2 million earmark for Waterfront Pedestrian and Bicycle Access? And can Hoboken, New Jersey, do likewise with the $8 million planned for its Waterfront Walkway? What about the $3 million that Modesto, California, expects to get for its Rails to Trails program, the $5 million Bridgeport, Connecticut, grabbed for an Intermodal Transportation facility, the $5 million Delaware will get to improve the Auto Tour Route at the Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge, and the $6.5 million that state will receive for the Wilmington Train Station Restoration? In the face of genuine need, don’t these expensive projects seem comparatively frivolous?

The earmarks go on and on like this, page after page in SAFETEA-LU. The more than 6,000 earmarks in it add up to nearly $25 billion in money that could now be better used for a more urgent purpose than flower gardens, replica sailing ships, and bus museums. Members of Congress may want these projects, but Katrina'’s victims need the funding more.
UPDATE: This could be a first. The NY Times agrees with the Heritage Foundation.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Community

Institutions can fail; especially bureaucratic institutions. When disasters occur, we all need to be prepared. Waiting for the government to take care of us is not the answer; especially in the short-term. As we've seen bureaucracies can be slow to respond, and are rarely models of efficiency. While we should endeavor to improve our institutions, we also must look to ourselves, and our communities in times of crisis. We must fend for ourselves (as individuals and as communal groups) until the cavalry arrives.

Cicero looks at this idea of community:
Communities aren'’t elected at the polls. They aren'’t created by city planners, or run by unseen bureaucrats. Communities are composed of people, each committed to each others' welfare and by extension, their own. Strong communities are comprised of people with different talents and strengths whose bonds of trust amplify their durability in a dangerous world. Communities share a common survival interest, among other things.
He concludes:
America'’s greatness -— and humanity'’s, for that matter-was never defined by institutions. It was defined by people-by the bold, the creative, and the loving; by the giving, the adamant and the humorous. By us. If culture has become only a pretty thing that is stripped away from community, it doesn'’t earn preservation. History is full of rich cultures that didn'’t survive. If all we have built are museums and amusement parks where culture is just a theme and communities are lifestyle choices, we must find ourselves again. All of us.

The Palestinian Justice System In Action

Moussa Arafat, cousin of Yasser Arafat, and former security chief in Gaza, was dragged from his house and killed by gunmen.
The Popular Resistance Committees, a violent group made up largely of former members of the Fatah movement of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, later claimed responsibility. The group said it killed Arafat to punish him for alleged corruption after the Palestinian security forces had taken no action against him.

"We have implemented God's law," a spokesman, Mohammed Abdel Al, told The Associated Press.
The killing will provide a test of Abbas' leadership, and may be sign of a coming civil war.

(Mis)Playing The Race Card

From AP:
[Jesse] Jackson questioned why Bush has not named blacks to top positions in the federal response to the disaster, particularly when the majority of victims remaining stranded in New Orleans are black: "How can blacks be locked out of the leadership, and trapped in the suffering?"

"It is that lack of sensitivity and compassion that represents a kind of incompetence."

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, head of the military task force overseeing operations in the three states, is black. His task force is providing search and rescue, medical help and sending supplies to the three states in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
(Emphasis mine).

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Yahoo and China

It appears that Yahoo has been helping the Chinese government identify dissidents. Roger L. Simon has the details.

Chrenkoff Delivers the Good News

Part 16 of Good News from Afghanistan. His posts keep getting longer.

The Failures of FEMA

Here's a blog that is documenting a growing list of problems with FEMA's response to Katrina.

Andrew Sullivan has a number of posts on the subject, as well as links to many blogs that are calling for the firing of Michael Brown, the head of FEMA.

UPDATE: Michael Totten has more, and there's a lively discussion in the comments.

Cold, But Effective

The past few days have seen the partisan hacks at the NY Times (Frank Rich, Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd) blame the President for most of what's gone wrong in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Today's Times contains a refreshingly sane op-ed from John Tierney:
Mr. Bush made a lot of mistakes last week, but most of his critics are making an even bigger one now by obsessing about what he said and did. We can learn more by listening to men like Jim Judkins, particularly when he explains the Magic Marker method of disaster preparedness.

Mr. Judkins is one of the officials in charge of evacuating the Hampton Roads region around Newport News, Va. These coastal communities, unlike New Orleans, are not below sea level, but they're much better prepared for a hurricane. Officials have plans to run school buses and borrow other buses to evacuate those without cars, and they keep registries of the people who need special help.

Instead of relying on a "Good Samaritan" policy - the fantasy in New Orleans that everyone would take care of the neighbors - the Virginia rescue workers go door to door. If people resist the plea to leave, Mr. Judkins told The Daily Press in Newport News, rescue workers give them Magic Markers and ask them to write their Social Security numbers on their body parts so they can be identified.

"It's cold, but it's effective," Mr. Judkins explained.
While mistakes were made, and will always be made at all levels, any type of disaster preparation begins with a plan. Did New Orleans have a plan, and if there was one in place, was the problem with the plan itself or with its execution?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Religion of Peace and Tolerance

A thirty year old Muslim woman was romantically involved with a Christian man who lived in the village of Taiba, east of Ramallah, in the West Bank. When her family found out about this relationship, they welcomed him into their family. No, not really. They made sure that she was aware of the inherent difficulties of interfaith relationships, but they trusted her judgment. No, that's not what happened, either.

Here's what actually happened:
The 30-year-old woman, according to PA security sources, was apparently murdered by members of her family for having had a romance with a Christian man from Taiba.
That wasn't all:
"More than 500 Muslim men, chanting Allahu akbar [God is great], attacked us at night," said a Taiba resident. "They poured kerosene on many buildings and set them on fire. Many of the attackers broke into houses and stole furniture, jewelry and electrical appliances."

With the exception of large numbers of PA policemen, the streets of Taiba were completely deserted on Sunday as the residents remained indoors. Many torched cars littered the streets. At least 16 houses had been gutted by fire and the assailants also destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Why I Am No Longer a Democrat, #23

Daily Kos sees fit to link to this post from The News Blog, which is an expletive filled rant. Could you lunatics on the far left please do or say something constructive instead of whining and spewing hate?

Here's a small sample of the bile:
Well, motherf******, and that means you, fat ass Goldberg and your master, Rich Lowry, PNAC Bitch Beinart, the racist wannabe white Malkin and the little f***tards at LGF, Bareback Andy and "Diversity" Instacracker, all you backstabbing, fag hating uncle tom ministers, you can see Dear Leader in action. America's largest port is gone, maybe forever, gas is $5+ a gallon and FEMA is coming. Whores come faster with old men than FEMA is getting to NOLA.
Drunken Chris Hitchens muttered some nonsense about blacks having it so good here. The poor man needs to stay in his bottle or go to Betty Ford before someone beats his treasonous ass stupid. Islamofascism means what, now mother******? Shove Islamofascism up your well travelled ass. The most dangerous thing to average Americans is not some mullah in Iraq, not even Osama Bin Laden, but George Bush.
Will you people ever get it? You call George Bush a racist while you dispense slur upon slur. Way to go.

Friday, September 02, 2005

VDH Friday

Victor Davis Hanson looks back at the month that just passed, in "Our Dogs Days". He has thoughts on Cindy Sheehan, Iraq, and more.

He has questions for the Palestinians:
Since the Palestinian Authority has declared that Gaza will reopen its airport for international travel, will Hamas, Hezbollah, or Islamic Jihad provide the pilots, air-traffic control, and security to protect civilian passengers from masked hijackers, suicide bombers, and missile launchers?
He has questions about the rising price of oil:
(1) Will the jihadists finally stop talking about oil theft and start worrying about the Arab world’s price-gauging of petroleum-hungry impoverished poor Muslims in Africa and Asia? (2) Will any of this money go to the Palestinians, who apparently are now asking the strapped Europeans and Americans to resume aid to subsidize Gaza? (3) How many of these plentiful petrodollars will be recycled to jihadists and arms merchants — and what would Saddam and the Oil-for-Food thieves have done with an extra $20-30 billion a year to play with?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina Aid

I just wanted to put this back on top. Please see Instapundit for an extensive list of organizations that will accept donations for hurricane relief.

Another Thought

In the past two days, I have posted about a Christian fundamentalist and an Islamic fundamentalist who agree that the destruction that Katrina has caused was a punishment from a vengeful deity.

While some would take this as proving that all fundamentalists are alike, I would like to point out that the Islamic fundamentalist is a government official. I am quite wary of anyone with these types of views, but there is a difference between a fringe kook and a mainstream kook with real power.

The Wind of Allah

I was waiting for this: Senior Kuwaiti Official: "Katrina is a Wind of Torment and Evil from Allah Sent to This American Empire" :
"When the satellite channels reported on the scope of the terrifying destruction in America [caused by] this wind, I was reminded of the words of [Prophet Muhammad]: 'The wind sends torment to one group of people, and sends mercy to others.' I do not think – and only Allah [really] knows – that this wind, which completely wiped out American cities in these days, is a wind of mercy and blessing. It is almost certain that this is a wind of torment and evil that Allah has sent to this American empire. Out of my absolute belief in the truth of the words of the Prophet Muhammad, this wind is the fruit of the planning [of Allah], as is stated in the text of the Hadith of the Prophet.