July 31, 2006


Or leeches.

What else can you call such folks, who could work but don't want to settle for anything less than their previous job and level of earnings? I can accept living off your assets, but this is intolerable.

But the fastest growing source of help is a patchwork system of government support, the main one being federal disability insurance, which is financed by Social Security payroll taxes. The disability stipends range up to $1,000 a month and, after the first two years, Medicare kicks in, giving access to health insurance that for many missing men no longer comes with the low-wage jobs available to them.

No federal entitlement program is growing as quickly, with more than 6.5 million men and women now receiving monthly disability payments, up from 3 million in 1990. About 25 percent of the missing men are collecting this insurance.

The ailments that qualify them are usually real, like back pain, heart trouble or mental illness. But in some cases, the illnesses are not so serious that they would prevent people from working if a well-paying job with benefits were an option.

The disability program, in turn, is an obstacle to working again. Taking a job holds the risk of demonstrating that one can earn a living and is thus no longer entitled to the monthly payments. But staying out of work has consequences. Skills deteriorate, along with the desire for a paying job and the habits that it requires.

“The longer you stay on disability benefits,� said Martin H. Gerry, deputy commissioner for disability and income security at the Social Security Administration, “the longer you’re out of the work force, the less likely you are to go back to work.�

Not only that, but it becomes harder for those who really are disabled to gain benefits.

|| Greg, 09:22 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Temporary Bombing Pause -- Sort Of

I was disturbed that Israel would give Hezbollah a chance to recover, reposition, and rearm when I heard about the agreement to stop the bombing for 48 hours.

Israel agreed to suspend air attacks in southern Lebanon for 48 hours after one of its raids on the southern town of Qana left dozens of civilians, many of them children, dead on Sunday, the bloodiest day of the conflict so far.

* * *

J. Adam Ereli, the deputy spokesman for the State Department, which announced the 48-hour pause in strikes, said Israel would use the suspension in bombing to coordinate with the United Nations safe passage for 24 hours for residents who wish to leave southern Lebanon.

Israeli officials said nothing publicly about the suspension early Monday, and Mr. Ereli noted that Israel reserved the right to strike at militants preparing attacks against it.

An Israeli official in the prime minister’s office, who did not want to be identified, simply confirmed the State Department statement, saying, “Israel will be suspending aerial activity over southern Lebanon for 48 hours until the end of the Israeli investigation into Qana.�

At midnight Sunday, Israeli aircraft hit targets in eastern Lebanon, a spokesman for the Israeli Army said Monday morning. The suspension of airstrikes went into effect two hours later, he added.

It is pretty clear what did not happen -- Israel did not target that building and did not intentionally kill civilians. It is also pretty clear what did happen -- in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Hezbollah operated from in the midst of what the convention calls "protected persons" in order to use them as human shields.. Somehow, though, those who demand that the US abide by the strictedst possible interpretation of those documents (and even exceed those standards) have failed to condemn Hezbollah for failing to live up to those same standards of civilized behavior.

Fortunately, Israel has not abandoned all military common sense.

Israeli warplanes did conduct air strikes this morning, but army officials said they were in support of ground forces and so not covered by the 48-hour halt.

And Israel’s defense minister, Amir Peretz, made it clear in a speech to the Knesset today that Israel intends to continue its ground operations against Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon.

“We must not agree to a ceasefire that would be implemented immediately,’’ Mr. Peretz said. “If an immediate cease-fire is declared, the extremists will rear their heads anew.’’

So let's make the situation clear -- while there is a pause in bombing generally, bombing in support of ground forces will continue in order to continue to purge the jihadi swine from southern Lebanon. Israel rightly recognizes that a cease-fire at this time is not in its strategic interest, and so will not accept any proposal that stops the fighting without ensuring Israeli security.

|| Greg, 09:12 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 30, 2006

If Today's Media Covered WWII


Kudos to Hube for pointing to this.

|| Greg, 02:27 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (291) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Additional Info On Qana

Though it doesn't particularly matter to Israel-haters/jihad supporters, video is out showing Hezbollah launching rockets from civilian areas of Qana. That made the area a legitimate military target. Take a look at the video at Expose the Left and Flopping Aces (scroll down).

In addition, there are now questions about the timing of the building collapse. The Israelis attacked the area around midnight local time -- but the building did not collapse until the next morning.

Senior IDF officers told reporters a short time ago that there is a contradiction in the timing of the bombing of the village of Kana and reports of the explosion that killed more than 50 civilians and set off world-wide condemnation of Israel. Air Force Commander Amir Eshel left open the possibility that Hizbullah terrorists blew up the building or that an unknown cause set off explosives which were stored in the structure.

He explained that recorded information shows that Israeli Air Force planes bombed the building between midnight and 1 a.m. and that the next attack at 7:30 a.m. was up to 500 yards away. He said reports of the killing of civilians came around 8 a.m. "It is not clear what happened" between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m., he said.

Brigadier General Ido Nehushtan pointed out that Hizbullah terrorists have fired more than 150 rockets from the village of Kana since the beginning of the war.

Could the collapse have been triggered by explosives stored there by Hezbollah (there are reports of a secondary explosion)? Could Hezbollah jihadis have "manufactured" the civilian casualties by blowing the building up themselves? Or might they have prevented civilians from leaving a damaged building for the same purposes? Given th six-to-eight hour gap between the attack and the collapse that exists, these are reasonable questions.

UPDATE: The official Israeli statement on Qana, including video of Hezbollah firing from behind residential buildings.

|| Greg, 01:59 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Qana -- And Why It Doesn't Matter

With the dawn come reports of the deaths of dozens of Lebanese, many of them children, as a result of an Israeli airstrike on the Lebanese village of Qana.

At least 60 civilians were killed on Sunday after the IAF fired missiles at buildings in the southern Lebanse twon of Qana.

Some 35 bodies have been recovered from a building that collapsed, but more were still stuck under the rubble, Lebanon's official news agency reported.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the area was a focal point for the firing of Katyusha rockets on Kiryat Shmona and Afula. He said that from the outset of the conflict "hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Qana area."

Olmert stressed that there was no IDF policy of targeting innocent civilians, as opposed to Hizbullah that has launched rockets "with the aim of murdering innocent civilians in northern Israel."

On one level, I feel shock and outrage. I am truly saddened by the deaths of civilians. But my anger is directed not at the Israelis, but at the Hezbollah cowards who have been hiding in and attacking from civilian areas in an attempt to protect themselves and gain a propaganda victory from the deaths of the civilians they put in harms way. It has not been that long since I posted photos that clearly demonstrate that Hezbollah tactic, and the condemnation of the jihadi group by a UN official for doing so.

Yet on another level, I am not at all troubled by these casualties. Lebanon allows Hezbollah to operate freely within its borders. It has a role in the government. It is among the largest employers in Lebanon. Indeed, the Lebanese president has even hinted that he might have the Lebanese Army join forces with the jihadis of the Party of (the false god) Allah against the Israelis who have responded to repeated attacks upon civilian targets from within Lebanon. The Lebanese government has allowed this terrorist menace to flourish, and now all of Lebanon must pay the price -- even if that price involves civilian casualties.

I need go no further back in history than WWII, "the good war". In that conflict, which was certainly an example of what one would call "total war", the casualties of the Axis aggressors were high -- and included many civilians who found themselves in harm's way due to the misdeeds of their government. While American and British casualties were under 1% of their respective populations, the Japanese suffered over 3% casualties, including the deaths of many civilians in the conventional bombing of Tokyo and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Germany suffered the loss of over 10% of its population, including many to the relentless bombing campaigns of the Allies in places like Dresden. And yet no one with an ounce of moral decency would argue that those deaths were unjustified, unnecesary, or disproportionate. Indeed, they were tragic, but they were also a necessary part of bringing about a speedy victory with far fewer casualties on both sides than would otherwise have been needed.

If Israel were to adopt the model used by the Allies in WWII, much of Lebanon would be flattened by now. Even if the much more restrained model used by America in Vietnam were employed, the civilian casualties would be much higher due to the carpet-bombing of entire sectors where the enemy is operating. Israel has not done that at all, and has sought to limit civilian casualties even when it puts Israeli troops at risk.

The events at Qana raise the specter of history repeating itself.

Ten years ago, Israel was forced to suspend Operation Grapes of Wrath against Hizbullah after artillery shells accidentally killed over 100 Lebanese refugees in the same village.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora demanded an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and insisted on an investigation into the Qana attack.

The withdrawal a decade ago in the face of world outrage allowed Hezbollah to regroup, rearm, and recruit a new generation of jihadis -- those who fight today. The earlier withdrawal following a tragedy in Qana can in fact be seen as the beginning of a chain of events which gave rise to the current war. Will the same mistake be made today?

War, as General Sherman told us long ago, is Hell. One part of that Hell is that unintended civilian deaths occur -- especially when one side hides among the non-combattants. And yet that cannot be the basis for putting an end to a just fight or accepting a cease-fire that allows the aggressor to regroup and continue its attacks at a later date. Terrorism must not be allowed to succeed; terrorists must not be allowed a strategic victory. Israel must continue its battle against the jihadis of Hezbollah -- not just for its own security, but also for that of Lebanon, the Middle East, and the world as a whole.

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Stop the ACLU, Conservative Cat, Adam's Blog, Stuck on Stupid, Freedom Watch, Blue Star Chronicles, Third World County, Madman Returns, Random Yak

|| Greg, 06:56 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Yes, Hezbollah Does Use Civilians To Shield Their Attacks

I keep hearing by email from my old troll, Ken, about how Israel is intentionally attacking innocent civilians and that it is a lie that Hezbollah is attacking from within civilian neighborhoods.

I'm willing to bet that photographic evidence to the contrary won't convince him, but it may have an effect on rational people.


THIS is the picture that damns Hezbollah. It is one of several, smuggled from behind Lebanon's battle lines, showing that Hezbollah is waging war amid suburbia.

The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.

Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon.

The photographs, from the Christian area of Wadi Chahrour in the east of Beirut, were taken by a visiting journalist and smuggled out by a friend.


The article also mentions additional photos not available from the website at this time. I'll keep checking to see if I can get them elsewhere.

Another depicts the remnants of a Hezbollah Katyusha rocket in the middle of a residential block blown up in an Israeli air attack.

The Melbourne man who smuggled the shots out of Beirut and did not wish to be named said he was less than 400m from the block when it was obliterated.

"Hezbollah came in to launch their rockets, then within minutes the area was blasted by Israeli jets," he said.

"Until the Hezbollah fighters arrived, it had not been touched by the Israelis. Then it was totally devastated.

"It was carnage. Two innocent people died in that incident, but it was so lucky it was not more."

The release of the images comes as Hezbollah faces criticism for allegedly using innocent civilians as "human shields".

What's more, even officials from the UN -- an organization which rarely has anything good to say about Israel and which rarely speaks out against the jihadis who attack it -- have spoken out against the Hezbollah practice of hiding among civilians.

Mr Egeland [Jan Egeland, United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator] blasted Hezbollah as "cowards" for operating among civilians.

"When I was in Lebanon, in the Hezbollah heartland, I said Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending in among women and children," he said.

So let's make it clear -- these allegations against Hezbollah are not "Zionist lies and propaganda to justify the murder of civilians by Israel", but are instead documented facts that clearly lay the responsibility for civilian casualties at the feet of the cowardly jihadi terrorists.

MORE AT Captain's Quarters, Flopping Aces, FullosseousFlap, Strata-Sphere

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Stop the ACLU, Conservative Cat, Adam's Blog, Stuck on Stupid, Freedom Watch, Blue Star Chronicles, Third World County, Madman Returns, Random Yak

|| Greg, 05:02 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Care Packages For Israel

We've all heard of groups sending care packages to American soldiers, both those deployed and the wounded soldiers who have returned to this country. Many of us have participated in fundraising activities for such projects, and have personally sent care packages to troops. From time to time I've placed lnks to such groups on my site.

But I've wondered over the last few weeks if anyone was sending support packages to Israeli soldiers during this time of war. Literally by accident, I stumbled across this company, that is doing so, and so I offer it up to you if you are interested.


They also have made available Support Israeli Children Packages containing toys and candy for Israeli children who have had to spend many hours in bomb shelters due to Hezbollah rocket attacks on the civilian population of Israel.

I encourage you, if you are so moved, to consider an act of charity and love directed towards the Israeli people as they defend themselves from the direct attacks of the Hezbollah jihadi terrorists.

|| Greg, 04:28 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Seattle Terrorist

A number of interesting facts -- some of them quite disturbing -- have emerged about the lone jihadi coward who killed one woman and wounded five others (two of them pregnant) at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on Friday.

When it comes right down to it, though, I've got to fisk this article on the subject from the New York Times. Elements of it are beyond belief.

A day after a gunman killed one woman and wounded five others in the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, the police identified a Muslim man on Saturday as the suspect and said he used the Internet to select the federation as a random target for his anger toward Jews.

I guess I'm confused by this -- if he spent time on the internet looking for a Jewish organization to shoot-up, how can this be described as a random target? It seems he carefully calculated what target would get teh most exsposure and cause the biggest bang. If it were trulyy random, he would have hit the nearest synagogue or Goldberg's Deli, not a major Jewish organization some distance from his home. Or he might have hit the office of the Israeli Consul General or the El-Al counter at Sea-Tac Airport -- though I'm sure he realized that at either of those locations he would likely end up in a puddle of blood on the floor. No, this seems to have been the typical sort of high-profile, low-risk attack that cowardly jihadi swine are known to attack.

As Jewish groups across the Puget Sound region moved to increase security on Saturday, the police identified the suspect as Naveed Afzal Haq, 30, whose family lives in Pasco, in southeast Washington, about 180 miles from Seattle.

At a court hearing on Saturday, a judge ordered Mr. Haq held on $50 million bail at the King County Jail pending formal charges of murder and attempted murder, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Haq entered the courtroom in handcuffs, chains and leg shackles, and a white jail shirt that labeled him an “ultra security inmate.”

The police are treating the shooting as a hate crime based on what they say Mr. Haq told a 911 dispatcher shortly before surrendering.

“He said he wanted the United States to leave Iraq, that his people were being mistreated and that the United States was harming his people,” Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske of the Seattle Police said Saturday at a news conference. “And he pointedly blamed the Jewish people for all of these problems. He stated he didn’t care if he lived.”

Well, at least they are willing to call it a hate crime -- but that they won't call it a terrorist attack is disturbing. The political motive itself should be sufficient to get it that label. I guess someone in authority wants to be "sensitive" to the Muslims rather than the Jewish community which was victimized here.

The chief said the gunman apparently selected the federation as a target by randomly searching the Internet for Jewish organizations in the area. The police confiscated at least three computers, he said.

Chief Kerlikowske described an intense and violent scene inside the federation, with some of the 18 people present jumping out of second-story windows and one young pregnant woman crawling to call 911 after being shot in the arm as she covered her abdomen. When the gunman later encountered her on the phone with emergency dispatchers, she refused to hang up.

“She was able to get him to take the telephone,” the chief said, calling her “a hero.”

Notice how it was that this woman was shot in the arm -- she was trying to protect her unborn child (for you pro-aborts out there, that is a child, not the "product of conception" or "blob of tissue") from a jihadi who was hoping for a "two-fer Jew-fer" by aiming for her abdomen. That shows you how low on the food-chain this guy is -- he's not just a terrorist, but a would-be abortionist as well.

A neighbor of Mr. Haq’s family in Pasco said Mr. Haq had spoken of Jews as recently as 10 days ago, sometimes using stereotypes about Jewish influence in the United States.

“He was saying he wasn’t trying to be racial about it but how they had control over a lot of the newscasts and things, ownership and stuff,” said the neighbor, Caleb Hales, 21.

Colleagues of the victims said the gunman had identified himself as “a Muslim-American” who was “angry at Israel.”

The A.P., citing a statement of probable cause, reported that Mr. Haq had told a 911 dispatcher, “These are Jews and I’m tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East."

I wonder where such a member of the "Religion of Peace" would get such horrible anti-Semitic stereotypes? Would it be the mosque, or the mainstream media, both of which portray Jews (and Israel in particular) as the bad actor in every situation.

The Seattle Times reported Saturday that Mr. Haq was also facing a charge of lewd conduct in Benton County, in southeast Washington, accused of exposing himself in public.

So, not only is he a jihadi terrorist, he is also a weenie-wagger. Probably trying to attract a couple of those 72 virgins on earth, since he was unwilling to try to shoot up a place where he was likely to be injured or killed.

The police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have said they believe Mr. Haq was acting alone.

The chief said the Mr. Haq “was so enraged at first” but later calmed down and followed the emergency dispatchers’ instructions to leave the building with his hands up. He surrendered to the police at the federation offices near downtown 12 minutes after the shootings were first reported to 911.

Gee -- he was enraged at first. What was your first clue? Could it be that he went on a murderous rampage against unarmed women?

The police have not released the names of the victims, all women. Three of the survivors were in serious condition on Saturday and two were in satisfactory condition, according to the media relations office at the Harborview Medical Center. They range in age from their early 20’s to 40’s and had gunshot wounds in the knee, groin, abdomen and arm. Federation officials said the woman who was killed was Pam Waechter, 58, its director of annual giving.

Federation officials identified the wounded women as Dayna Klein, 37; Cheryl Stumbo, 43; Layla Bush, 23; and Carol Goldman, 35; and Christina Rexroad, whose age was not known.

Remember those names, and keep all of them and their families in your prayers. And given that the one fatality, Ms. Waechter, was the director of annual giving, I think a donation to the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle would be even more appropriate than when I suggested it on Friday.

Asked to describe her group’s general relations with area Muslim groups, Amy Wasser-Simpson, the federation’s vice president, said, “We have had no negative interactions with the Muslim community whatsoever.”

Robert S. Jacobs, regional director for the Pacific Northwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League, who knew several of the victims, said that the three with serious injuries are not Jewish, including Cheryl Stumbo, the federation’s marketing director.

“These were really good, hard-working people who cared about the community and cared about their jobs,” he said.

At least the group hadn't had negative interactions with that portion of the Muslim community that rejects the extremist rhetoric that appears so common in Islam worldwide. But you have to ask how many mosques and other Muslim groups refused to ahve any interaction at all with the local Jewish community.

The gunman apparently hid behind a plant at the federation’s offices and waited for someone to enter the building, and then forced his way inside at gunpoint when a teenager opened a locked door, Chief Kerlikowske said. The gunman had two semiautomatic pistols.

A half-hour before the shooting, Mr. Haq was ticketed for a minor traffic infraction on Third Avenue, the same street where the federation has its offices, the chief said.

So he had been hanging out, caing the site for some time. This wasn't an act of passion -- it was a premeditated assault on the most visible Jewish institution in Seattle. Again, that makes this more than a mere hate crime -- it makes it an act of terrorism.

Mr. Hales, the neighbor of Mr. Haq’s family, said he spoke with Mr. Haq on July 20,. Mr. Hales, whose family is Mormon, said Mr. Haq had talked about finding a job, perhaps in engineering. The conversation wandered, Mr. Hales said, with Mr. Haq expressing curiosity about Mr. Hales’s religion. “He told me he would stay up late up at night reading about people’s religions and cultural backgrounds,” Mr. Hales said.

I guess this was a case of "know your infidels."

His mother, Maureen Hales, said she believed that the Haqs were originally from Pakistan and that Mr. Haq’s father, Mian Haq, was an engineer who worked at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Let's see -- a Pakistani engineer working at a US nuclear weapons facility. Anyone else troubled by that -- especially in light of the Pakistani development of nuclear weapons and continuing nuclear program? You have to ask how closely daddy was scruinized following the first Pakistani nuclear test. Or would giving him a closer look have been insensitive, and a case of ethnic profiling?

Also, I understand (but note that this article leaves the information out) that daddy was instrumental in founding the Seattle-area mosque the family attends (Sick Irony Alert -- the mosque is located on Bombing Range Road). In light of this act of terrorism, will this place receive appropriate scrutiny for other terrorist activity?

UPDATE: Apparently the cowardly jihadi not only targetted women, but he gained entrance to the building by holding a gun to the head of a thirteen-year-old girl. Makes you wish they would dump this pig into the general population for a few hours, doesn't it?

MORE AT Riehl World View, HyScience, InstaPundit, Michelle Malkin, Jawa Report, Unpartisan, Little Green Footballs

|| Greg, 03:20 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are A Perspective on Tribes and Anti-Semitism by ShrinkWrapped, and Mayhem at the Defend Hizballah Rally! by Solomonia

Click here for the full results of the vote.

|| Greg, 02:48 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Chickenhawk Palestinian Terrorist Leader Killed By Israelis

And another one's gone! And another one's gone!

Another one bites the dust!

Israeli troops killed a top leader of the radical Islamic Jihad in a West Bank raid Saturday, the group said, and the Israelis pressed ahead with their offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Islamic Jihad said the leader of its militant wing in Nablus, Hani Awijan, 29, was killed by Israeli undercover troops. They came to arrest him while he was playing soccer with friends and relatives, the group said. Another Islamic Jihad militant was also killed.

The army confirmed soldiers operated in Nablus and said a militant was killed in an exchange of fire.

Israel Radio said Awijan was responsible for a series of attacks on Israelis. Over the past 17 months, Islamic Jihad has been responsible for all 12 suicide bombing attacks in Israel, killing 71 people.

The Palestinians treated the death of this cowardly jihadi swine as an outrage, and protested in the streets. If you want evidence that the Palestinian people lack a sufficient level of civilization to be permitted their own state, this is it.

Just as an aside, I have to note that I've yet to see a single commentator from the Left -- especially the anti-Israel Left -- call Awijan a chickenhawk for his failure to strap on one of his homicide-bomb belts and detonate himself in a crowd of civilians. Maybe it the pressing importance of his weekly soccer game seemed more important to him. I guess that term is reserved for those who dare to oppose terrorism as the murder of innocents, but the terrorists themselves get a free pass from those who whose political beliefs, in their heart of hearts, really support the violent jihad of the terrorist murderers.

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Stop the ACLU, Conservative Cat, Adam's Blog, Stuck on Stupid, Freedom Watch, Blue Star Chronicles, Third World County, Madman Returns, Random Yak

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July 29, 2006

Student Metaphors

Having read too many student papers over the year, I find this list of student metaphors from Funny Emails exquisite -- because like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.

* Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

* His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a tumble dryer.

* The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

* McMurphy fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a paper bag filled with vegetable soup.

* Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.

* Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the centre.

* Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

* He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

* The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

* Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left York at 6:36 p.m. travelling at 55 mph, the other from Peterborough at 4:19p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

* The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the full stop after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can.

* John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

* The thunder was ominous sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.

* The red brick wall was the colour of a brick-red crayon.

* Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.

* Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

* The plan was simple, like my mate Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

* The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for while.

* “Oh, Jason, take me!” she panted, her breasts heaving like a student on 31p-a-pint night.

* He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a landmine or something.

* Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.”

* She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

* The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a lamppost.

* The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free cashpoint.

* The dandelion swayed in the gentle breeze like an oscillating electric fan set on medium.

* It was a working class tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with their power tools.

* He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a dustcart reversing.

* She was as easy as the Daily Star crossword.

* She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature British beef.

* She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

* Her voice had that tense, grating quality, like a first-generation thermal paper fax machine that needed a band tightened.

* It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

Some day I'll have to tell you folks about some of my most memorable papers -- the ones that, years later, I still remember and talk about because of the insights they gave me into students (or myself).

|| Greg, 07:00 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Family Tradition Of Service Continues

I'm not a big fan of Senator John McCain, but I do respect the long tradition of service to our nation that the McCain family has demonstrated over the years.

That tradition continues today.

The youngest son of Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam and a vocal proponent of more American troops in Iraq, will soon report for duty in the Marine Corps, Time Magazine reported today.

Jimmy McCain, 18, will spend three months in boot camp in California this autumn and another month in specialized training.

Depending on his unit, the younger McCain could eventually wind up in Iraq where Marines have experienced heavy fighting, Time reported. Marines are also in combat in Afghanistan.

"I'm obviously very proud of my son," McCain told Time, "but also understandably a little nervous."

Jimmy's older brother, Jack, attends the Naval Academy.

Semper fi, young man. May God watch over you and those with whom you serve.

|| Greg, 04:59 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

By Military Brats, For Military Brats

I've mentioned once or twice that I grew up in a Navy family. While we did not move as often as many of my fellow military brats (we both actually attended the same high school for all four years -- something virtually unheard of among brats), my brother and I both lived our lives in a very special sub-culture that most folks just don't get. I therefore found this article about a new magazine caled Military Brats.

The first 250,000 copies of Military Brats was distributed free through 258 commissaries worldwide and began disappearing almost as soon as they were put out, said Robert Hansgen, a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Commissary Agency.

"That's a sure sign that it filled a need that people had," said Janice Witte, director of the U.S. Department of Defense's Office of Children and Youth. "There are lots of publications out there for military personnel over age 18 but there isn't really anything that's really connected to the military for our youth."

Misty Burris noticed the void, too. So while she and her husband, now retired Army Staff Sgt. Sean Burris, were driving cross-country three years ago from California to Fort Drum, Burris wrote out a detailed business plan for a military youth magazine.

"We hear all these stories about how military morale is down in these difficult times. I thought the way to fix that is to start with the kids. If the kids are happy, everybody's happy," said Burris, who formed a company, Littlefoot Publishing, Inc., to produce the magazine.

The two hardest things for us brats have always been the uprooting and the deployments. I remember the fear I had every time my father's ship left port -- and when he was stationed in Saigon during the Vietnam War. I see the same fear in the eyes of my students with deployed family members -- mostly the children of reservists, who weren't raised with the expectation that mom or dad would ever be in a war zone.

I think this mgazine is a great idea, and i hope it is successful in every sense of the word.

|| Greg, 01:48 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Bother?


Seems like an exercise in futility to me.

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Jefferson Wins Phyrric Victory

Some folks are no doubt outraged by this decision. I'm not, and I'll tell you why -- it appears to me that the appellate court has already implicitly ruled against Jefferson on the issue of privilege.

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that prosecutors may not examine documents seized from Rep. William J. Jefferson's Capitol Hill office until the congressman has a chance to review them for privileged legislative materials.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered the Justice Department to copy the seized materials and show them to Jefferson. The Louisiana Democrat will have two days to go through them and submit any challenges. A district judge will determine whether challenged materials relate to legislative activity and should be withheld from investigators.

Now think about this one for a moment -- this means that the concept of a broad claim of privilege for the everything seized by the FBI is most likely out the window. After all, if the judges were going to rule that way, there would be no need to duplicate everything for Jefferson to review and assert specific claims of privilege. What this seems to mean is that the appeals court is going to rule the search warrant valid, the seizure of materials constitutional, and then consider the possibility that some smaller portion of the seized material might fall under the Speech and Debate Clause or other specific instances of congressional privilege. In other words, Jefferson (and the Congressional leadership that has backed him) have lost before they even walk into the courtroom.

MORE AT Occidentality, Conservative Musings, Mac's Mind

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July 28, 2006

More Hezbollah Tactics

So when you hear that Israelis are attacking mosques, you will have an understanding of why.

At least 13 Israeli soldiers have been injured in an ongoing gun battle that broke out Wednesday in Bint Jbeil, the Hezbollah capital in Lebanon.

The latest wave of fighting broke out when Hezbollah militants fired on Golani Brigade soldiers and then fell back into a nearby mosque and opened fire from within the building, reported.

Got that, folks? The jihadis are using mosques as fortified positions to attack the Israelis. That makes any such mosque a legitimate military target, which may be razed to the ground if necessary to wipe out the enemy position.

|| Greg, 09:03 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Ramsey Clark: Impeach Bush For Supporting Israel

Johnson malAdministration relic Ramsey Clark wants to make foreign policy issues the basis for impeachment.

Clark claimed that U.S. funding to Israel, which is battling Hizballah terrorists in southern Lebanon, is grounds for impeaching President Bush. "If we'd acted on impeachment before now, Lebanon wouldn't be subjected to this misery," said Clark at the National Press Club Thursday. "If we fail to act now, who is next?"

The National Council of Arab-Americans, Partnership for Civil Justice, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, and the ANSWER Coalition are partnering to show their dissent of U.S.-Israeli policy in a march planned near the White House on Aug. 12.

"It is important to let the people of Lebanon and the people of Palestine know that even though the Bush administration speaks in our name -- spending our tax dollars to fund and finance these wars both in Iraq and in Lebanon -- it does so without the consent of the American people," said Brian Becker, national coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition.

If, of course, one defines the American people as consisting entirely of members of the National Council of Arab-Americans, Partnership for Civil Justice, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, and the ANSWER Coalition. Polling data of the American public at large says something different.

(H/T Strata-Sphere)

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Houston For Israel Family Rally


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Terrorist Attack In Seattle?

Certainly a hate crime, given that the murderer targetted the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle because he was upset about events in Israel.

One person was killed and at least five other people were wounded by gunshots Friday afternoon at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and one person was arrested, police said.

A SWAT team was searching the building, looking for any other victims, anyone hiding or any other possible shooters, police spokesman Rich Pruitt said.

Seattle Fire Department medics told The Seattle Times that the victims include two women. One woman was shot in the abdomen. The other woman is described as 17 weeks pregnant and was shot in an arm. They were taken to Harborview Medical Center. Three other victims have also been seen arriving Harborview. Police say there could be as many as seven wounded in all.

Police say they've arrested one person and were looking for another alleged suspect, but now believe there was just one shooter.

Police blocked off several city blocks to investigate.

Several witnesses said they saw a man walk up and shoot a woman in the leg on a sidewalk near the building. One witness, who refused to give his name, said that shooting was just outside a nearby Starbucks. There was a small pool of blood outside that coffee shop.

Another witness says the gunman then walked into the Jewish Center and said he was upset about what was going on in Israel. He then pulled out a gun and started shooting, the witnesses said.

Police say the gunman then called 911 from inside the building to say what he had done and where to find him. When police arrived, the gunman surrendered, police say.

The perp's name has not yet been released to the public. Who wants to wager that he is either Arab or Muslim?

To contribute to help this fine organization, click here or send donations to:

The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
2031 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

UPDATE: And the answer is --


Sources told KING 5 the suspect is a 31-year-old Pakistani man with a criminal background. He is from the Pasco but his citizenship status or how long he has lived in the United States is unknown. Also unknown is what sort of criminal record he has. Officials are on the way to the Pasco to interview his family.

FBI spokesman David Gomez said officials believe the suspect acted alone and is not affiliated with a foreign organization.

According to the Seattle Times, a man got through security at the Jewish Federation and told staff members, "I'm a Muslim American; I'm angry at Israel," then began shooting, according to Amy Wasser-Simpson, the vice president for planning and community services for the Jewish Federation.

The perp also indicated he was acting because he wanted American-made weapons out of Lebanon.

So it seems we have a lone jihadi of Pakistani heritage out murdering Jews because he is angry at Israel. What did I tell you above?

Unfortunately, the FBI is clueless on the matter.

"We believe it's a lone individual acting out his antagonism," said David Gomez, who heads the FBI's counterterrorism efforts in Seattle.

Authorities did not release any details about the alleged gunman and would not discuss possible motives.

"There's nothing to indicate that it's terrorism related," Gomez said. "But we're monitoring the entire situation."

Not terrorism related? This is an act of terrorism, whether it was committed by a member of a terrorist organization or was the work of a free-range jihadi acting alone.

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|| Greg, 06:46 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Bolton Slaps Down Kerry

Do you want evidence of why John Kerry should never be president? Expose the Left has it for you, from the Bolton Confirmation hearing.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY: This has been going on for five years, Mr. Ambassador.

AMBASSADOR JOHN BOLTON: It’s the nature of multi-lateral negotiations, Senator.

KERRY: Why not engage in a bilateral one and get the job done? That’s what the Clinton administration did.

BOLTON: Very poorly, since the North Koreans violated the agreed framework almost from the time it was signed.

That Kerry would hold up one of Clinton's (numerous) foreign policy failures as an example of how the US should conduct itself in the international word should make all but the moonbattiest of Americans glad he lost in 2004.

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It's Called Capitalism, Bitches!

And I guess some folks either don't get it or just plain hate it.

After all, how else can you explain this ignorant comment at a NOW breakout session?

I gleaned the startling information that the "merchant of shame"--i.e., Wal-Mart--"seeks to dominate the retail industry through customer acquisition."

In othr words -- they are trying to get more people to shop with them than their competitors.

And this is a bad thing, ladies?

|| Greg, 05:20 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Lebanese Christians Denounce Hezbollah

And since this story is coming out of the New York Times, which has never met an anti-Israel group it didn't adore, I think it has that much more credibility. And as such, it more or less confirms points I've been making about Hezbollah tactics -- and shoots down my former troll's claims that Lebanese Christians just love Hezbollah.

The refugees from southern Lebanon spilled out of packed cars into the dark street here Thursday evening, gulping bottles of water and squinting in the glare of the headlights to find family members and friends. Many had not eaten in days. Most had not had clean drinking water for some time. There were wounded swathed in makeshift dressings, and a baby just 16 days old.

But for some of the Christians who had made it out in this convoy, it was not just privations they wanted to talk about, but their ordeal at the hands of Hezbollah — a contrast to the Shiites, who make up a vast majority of the population in southern Lebanon and broadly support the militia.

“Hezbollah came to Ain Ebel to shoot its rockets,” said Fayad Hanna Amar, a young Christian man, referring to his village. “They are shooting from between our houses.”

“Please,’’ he added, “write that in your newspaper.”

And since they are launching rockets from the middle of civilian neighborhoods -- and Christian neighborhoods in particular -- where do the Israelis have to attack in order to defend themselves? Those same neighborhoods. And what are teh targets of hezbollah? The civilian population of Israel. As a result, Hezbollah bears responsibility for ALL civilian casualties, regardless of whose munitions cause those casualties.

And please consider that some of the casualties among the Lebanese Christians are directly inflicted by hezbollah.

Many Christians from Ramesh and Ain Ebel considered Hezbollah’s fighting methods as much of an outrage as the Israeli strikes. Mr. Amar said Hezbollah fighters in groups of two and three had come into Ain Ebel, less than a mile from Bint Jbail, where most of the fighting has occurred. They were using it as a base to shoot rockets, he said, and the Israelis fired back.

One woman, who would not give her name because she had a government job and feared retribution, said Hezbollah fighters had killed a man who was trying to leave Bint Jbail.

“This is what’s happening, but no one wants to say it” for fear of Hezbollah, she said.

QUite right -- expecially the United Nations and the "international community", which wants to have this all play out by the same old script. You know the one.

Act I Jihadi terrorists murder Israelis.
Act II Israelis engage in a defensive response.
Act III Jihadis claim victim status.
Act IV Israel condemned as unjust aggressor.
Act V Israel gives in to international pressure to be nice.

But the reality is that the conflict and the casualties are not instigated by the Israelis, who have shown an incredible desire to seek peace with their neighbors and a serious willingness to compromise to achiev that end. Rather, it is those who hide behind civilians to launch cowardly attacks -- to the point of preventing civilian evacuations -- whose actions must be condemned. Sadly, the UN lacks the stomach to do so.

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July 27, 2006

Nazi Aircraft Carrier Wreck Found

I've never been a big student of WWII naval history -- the era of sailing ships is much more interesting to me. As a result, I never knew that the German Navy had only one aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin. In fact, I was so unaware of that part of the war that I first clicked on this article believing that it had to do with the great German airship, sister to the Hindenberg. I'm glad about my mistake.

Poland's Navy said Thursday that it has identified a sunken shipwreck in the Baltic Sea as almost certainly being Nazi Germany's only aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin — a find that promises to shed light on a 59-year-old mystery surrounding the ship's fate.

The Polish oil company Petrobaltic discovered the shipwreck earlier this month on the sea floor about 38 miles north of the northern port city of Gdansk.

Suspecting it could be the wreckage of the Graf Zeppelin, the Polish Navy sent out a hydrographic survey vessel on Tuesday, said Lt. Cmdr. Bartosz Zajda, a spokesman for the Polish Navy.

"We are 99 percent sure — even 99.9 percent — that these details point unambiguously to the Graf Zeppelin," said Dariusz Beczek, the Navy commander of the vessel, the ORP Arctowski, said soon after returning to port Thursday morning after the two-day expedition.

During their time at sea, naval experts used a remote-controlled underwater robot and sonar photographic and video equipment to gather digital images of the 850-foot-long ship, Zajda said.

"The analyses of the sonar pictures and the comparison to historical documents show that it is the Graf Zeppelin," Zajda told The Associated Press.

The ship never saw combat, and was last seen in 1947, when it was in Soviet control. The ship was sunk on August 16, 1947, during Soviet exercises to determine tactics for sinking American carriers.

I suppose this helps explain why most of the great naval battles of the war took place in the Pacific and involved the Japanese fleet.

|| Greg, 08:06 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hezbollah Stages Civilian Casualties

But then again, what else do you expect from a group that hides behind women and children -- and UN facilities? Why not use ambulances for propaganda purposes?

A CNN reporter has exposed tactics used by Hizbullah terrorists to stage media events in order to give the impression of a large number of civilian casualties caused by Israeli bombing attacks on terrorist position, according to a report issued by the Honest Reporting organization.

Rich Noyes said he was assigned to photograph buildings damaged in the bombings. "After letting us take pictures of a few damaged buildings, they take us to another location, where there are ambulances waiting. This is a heavily orchestrated Hezbollah media event. When we got here, all the ambulances were lined up," and the drivers turned on their sirens and sped away for photographers. "These ambulances aren't responding to any new bombings. The sirens are strictly for effect," Noyes said.

It sort of makes you wonder how many civilian casualties there really are -- and what was really in these ambulances. It also may help understand allegations of Israeli attacks on ambulances.

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A Much Needed Suit

We can argue about some of the suits brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act and whether or not they are valid. Some are clearly a racked, intended to make money for professional plaintiffs. But this suit against the University of Houston is not only appropriate, but is designed to overcome discriminatory policies that effectively prevent the disabled from obtaining an education.

After all, how can you possibly justify a policy that allows a professor to reject any accommodations for a student with a handicap?

Gary Bradford, 42, of Baytown, who also suffers from rickets, watched from his wheelchair as his lawyer handed university General Counsel Dona Hamilton a copy of a lawsuit seeking to change a policy that allowed a professor to refuse his request for someone to help him take notes.

The lawsuit asks U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt to strike down a policy that allows professors at the university the choice of whether to comply with special requests for assistance from disabled students.

"We want to teach (professors) that the school writes their paychecks and they are going to have to accommodate students," said Bradford. He is not seeking monetary damages.

The defendants in the lawsuit are the board of regents, several administrators and a professor.

Bradford — who was born without arms, his hands attached to his shoulders — said he is a vocalist and wanted to complete about 20 hours of course work needed for a bachelor's in music.

He enrolled at UH in the Fall of 2005 and the school's Academic Accommodations Evaluations Committee and Center for Students with Disabilities recommended assistance with note-taking and extended time for taking tests, the lawsuit says. Bradford, who uses two sticks to type, should also be allowed to use a computer for essays and essay exams, the school recommended.

Professors in all classes but one allowed a teaching assistant to take notes for Bradford, he said. But the professor who taught a writing-intensive social sciences course that was required for graduation refused to give Bradford her notes or a copy of a slide presentation during a lecture, according to the lawsuit.

The four teaching assistants assigned to the class refused to take notes for Bradford, the lawsuit says.

He appealed to the head of the Educational Psychology Department and was told that the decision whether to accommodate him was left to the professor.

Good grief! Refusing to permit as simple an accommodation as note-taking? Refusing to provide a print-out of a Power-Point presentation? And in the educational psychology department, which I presume is at least loosely affiliated with the College of Education and therefore ought to be especially conscious of legal mandates in education! Such callous disregard for and rejection of such simple accommodations is beyond the pale.

Now I realize that college is different from high school, which is the level on which I teach. But given that professorial workloads are generally significantly lighter than mine, I can see no excuse for this.

Good luck, Mr. bradford. I hope you ask for the professor in question -- and her teaching assistants -- to be drummed out of education. They d not belong.

|| Greg, 07:36 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

This Is Why Our Policy On Gays In The Military Is Stupid

When you have someone with needed skills and a desire to serve, something extraneous like sexual orientation should not be a bar. After all, this man had four years of exemplary service.

A decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist was dismissed from the U.S. Army under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, though he says he never told his superiors he was gay and his accuser was never identified.

Bleu Copas, 30, told The Associated Press he is gay, but said he was "outed" by a stream of anonymous e-mails to his superiors in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

In other words, he wasn't trying to make a statement -- he was trying to serve his county.

Indeed, this is a case where the command did ask -- in violation of military regulations.

Shortly after Copas was appointed to the 82nd Airborne's highly visible All-American Chorus last May, the first e-mail came to the chorus director.

"The director brought everyone into the hallway and told us about this e-mail they had just received and blatantly asked, 'Which one of you are gay?'" Copas said.

Copas later complained to the director and his platoon sergeant, saying the questions violated "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"They said they would watch it in the future," Copas said. "And they said, even specifically then, 'Well, you are not gay are you?' And I said, 'no.'"

The accuser, who signed his e-mails "John Smith" or "ftbraggman," pressed Copas' superiors to take action against him or "I will inform your entire battalion of the information that I gave you."

On Dec. 2, investigators formally interviewed Copas and asked if he understood the military's policy on homosexuals, if he had any close acquaintances who were gay, and if he was involved in community theater. He answered affirmatively.

But Copas declined to answer when they asked, "Have you ever engaged in homosexual activity or conduct?" He refused to answer 19 of 47 questions before he asked for a lawyer and the interrogation stopped.

My question is why the Army even takes notice of anonymous accusations of this sort -- and what possible relevance involvement in community theater would have to do with sexual orientation.

But if anecdotal evidence doesn;t prove taht the policy is flawed, consider the statistics that show it.

More than 11,000 service members have been dismissed under the policy, including 726 last year _ an 11 percent jump from 2004 and the first increase since 2001.

That's less than a half-percent of the more than 2 million soldiers, sailors and Marines dismissed for all reasons since 1993, according to the General Accountability Office.

But the GAO also noted that nearly 800 dismissed gay or lesbian service members had critical abilities, including 300 with important language skills. Fifty-five were proficient in Arabic, including Copas, a graduate of the Defense Language Institute in California.

Discharging and replacing them has cost the Pentagon nearly $369 million, according to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

So when that vital piece of intelligence is not translated, or some other critical task is not accomplished, remembr that it could have been -- if only patriotic Americans were allowed to serve regardless of their sexuality.

After all, this isn't about special rights or political correctness -- it is about national security.

|| Greg, 10:54 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Were The UN Observers Hit?

The unfortunate deaths of four UN observers in Lebanon were used as an opportunity for the UN's chief Israel-hater, Secretary general Kofi Annan, to launch a verbal assault on the Isralie, claiming the attack was intentional. And at least one press account has tried to make it appear that the UN monitors were targetted.

PEACEKEEPERS spent six hours begging Israeli commanders to halt multiple air bombings near a United Nations observation post before a missile killed four unarmed observers there, it emerged last night.

UN officials said that the monitors made ten phone calls to the Israeli army between 1.20pm on Tuesday — when an Israeli aircraft dropped a bomb 300 metres from the patrol base — and about 7.20pm, when the building was destroyed.

The details came to light as Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, condemned what he called an “apparently deliberate targeting” of the well- documented UN position that had stood in Khiam, southern Lebanon, for 50 years.

I won't get into the fact that if the peacekeeprs have been there for half a century, they have done a very poor job, given the continued attacks on Israel from south Lebanon. Rather, I will point to specific issues that raise doubt about the targetting the UN ooutpost. Rather, the Israelis were after legitimate Hezbollah targets in the same area.

Not that it is easy to distinguish UN and Hezbollah positions, as this photo clearly demonstrates.


As one of the dead observers -- a Canadia -- noted in an email the day before his death, Hezbollah was operating in the area of the post which was hit.

An apparent discrepancy in the portrayal of events surrounding the deaths of four unarmed U.N. observers in Lebanon threatens to unravel Secretary-General Annan's initial accusation that Israel "deliberately" targeted the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.

A Canadian U.N. observer, one of four killed at a UNIFIL position near the southern Lebanese town of Khiyam on Tuesday, sent an e-mail to his former commander, a Canadian retired major-general, Lewis MacKenzie, in which he wrote that Hezbollah fighters were "all over" the U.N. position, Mr. MacKenzie said. Hezbollah troops, not the United Nations, were Israel's target, the deceased observer wrote.

Now UN spokespeople have tried to argue that there was no firing of from the vicinity of the destroyed post on the day of its destruction, but that is a rather disingenuous position to take. Are the Israelis only to attack active Hezbollah positions? Or are any Hezbollah positions legitimate targets? The answer is obvious -- any Hezbollah position is fair game in this war that the terrorists started. And if the UN is allowing Hezbollah to opperate in and around UN outposts, then it is an unfortunate reality that there will be attacks in the area. Place the blame where it belongs -- on Hezbollah and the UN, not the Israelis, who are engaged in a legitimate operation to ensure their own security.

UNIFIL press releases even confirm Hezbollah's strategy of using UN personnel as shields for their attacks on Israel.

Read the UNIFIL press releases for yourself to learn that Hezbollah has not just shot at and seriously wounded UNIFIL observers - without any protest from Kofi Annan or The Age. You’ll also learn that UNIFIL has repeatedly reported Israeli shelling and bombing near UNIFIL outposts because Hezbollah fighters were shooting from right beside them .

Says the UNIFIL press release of 20 July:

Hezbollah firing was also reported from the immediate vicinity of the UN positions in Naquora and Maroun Al Ras areas at the time of the incidents (of Israeli return fire).

Tell me -- where were Kofi Annan's calls for Hezbollah to cease using UN positions as a shield for their attacks on Israel? There were none -- because the anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist Annan considers any tactic used to attack Israel and kill Jews to be a legitimate one. And this is not a new tactic -- for years, hezbollah and hamas have used refugee camps and other civilian populations as shields. Remember the uproar when the Israelis hit a refugee camp some years back? What was generally uncommented upon was that Hamas was firing from just beyond the boundaries of that camp -- realizing that any Israeli response would likely cause civilian casualties, bringing instant condemnation upon Israel.

But then again, why would anyone expect Hezbollah to have any sense of decency, given its long history of Jew-killing jihad? After all, this is the same group responsible for this little attrocity.

The Shiite terrorist group has erected a billboard facing Israel on which it placed enlarged photos showing mutilated Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon.

Yes, hezbollah even desecrates teh dead and proclaims its disgusting actions to the world.

And some of these dead are israeli soldiers kidnapped from across the border.

Just like the kidnappings that touched off this latest war.

Now whose fault is this conflict, and these deaths?

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Irony, Thy Name Is Dean

John over at Right Wing News snagged this from Drudge.


Maybe the good doctor can start by resigning -- or surgically removing his own tongue.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY AT Captain's Quarters, Iowa Voice, Say Anything, Wizbang

|| Greg, 09:27 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 26, 2006

I Missed This Whine

And I have to tell you, reading it makes me convinced that the author, American University graduate student Sui Lang Panoke, does not belong in graduate school.

Is access to graduate education in America exclusively for the upper class?

As a first-year graduate student struggling to make ends meet, I believe the answer is yes. In my experience, searching for funding to pay the extensive costs of my higher education has been an upward climb leading only to dead ends.

I am a single mother who qualifies for the maximum amount in federal aid for graduate students. But this amount barely covers my tuition; paying for housing, books and living expenses is up to me.

I have no college fund, trust or inheritance. I don't independently qualify for private student loans because I lack the substantial credit or employment history that is required, and I do not have the luxury of having a willing and eligible co-signer. Furthermore, I can work only part-time jobs while in school; otherwise I would not qualify for child-care assistance.

Well, you could do what I did -- get a graduate assistanship and WORK your way through graduate school. While I did get some assistance from my parents, i don't come from wealth -- my father was a just-retired military officer and my mother a housewife.

I can't help but notice the little detail you include that reveals the true problem you have. It is single parenthood. Had you kept your knees tightly together, you wouldn't have a child and you would be able to make your way through graduate school on a significantly tighter budget. But you don't want to focus on that issue, because it might mean that some of the blame for your financial issues might bounce back on YOU, dear.

But of course, you see yourself as a victim of a government that has lost sight of what you view as its proper role.

We are failing to redistribute the wealth in America, and the divide between the upper and lower classes is widening. It's clear that a federal need-based grant program for graduate students must be created. This would help level the playing field by creating access to graduate programs for students -- access based on merit and ambition rather than economic resources.

Sorry, girlfriend, but the role of the government is not the redistribution of wealth. Since you are seeking a degree in public administration, you might be familiar with a document called the United States Constitution. If you read it, you might note that it sets out a number of tasks for the federal government -- and redistributing wealth is not one of those tasks. So you clearly don't know enough to even be in graduate school in your field -- and might I add, it certainly explains why you haven't gotten any of the few scholarships you have deigned to apply for. After all, while you have ambition, you clearly fall short in the merit department.

So forget continuing as a full-time student at your high-dollar private university. Consider attending a public university -- one with a lower price tag and more financial aid opportunities.

Or perhaps you should recognize that you made a poor choice to try to balance graduate school and single parenthood -- and go out and get a job to support yourself, instead of expecting one more public dolar handout.

|| Greg, 09:08 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Delay In Jefferson Investigation

To be honest, I cannot say I am surprised. After all, the matter is on appeal. Just as you cannot unring a bell, you also cannot unviolate a privilege -- and if by some chance the appeals court finds for jefferson, the entire investigation could be derailed if the Justice Department were permitted to proceed.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday temporarily delayed a Justice Department bribery investigation of a Louisiana congressman while he challenges the legality of an unprecedented FBI raid on his Capitol Hill office.

The decision by two members of a three-judge panel means the Justice Department cannot begin a review set to begin Wednesday of more than a dozen computer hard drives, several floppy discs and two boxes of documents seized during a May 20-21 raid on Democratic Rep. William Jefferson's Rayburn Building office.

"The purpose of this administrative injunction is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the merits of the motion for a stay pending appeal and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion," wrote Judges Janice Rogers Brown and Thomas B. Griffith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The identity of the third judge is not known.

And I think that this statement, coming from two highly respected judges, really says everything that needs to be said on the matter. We are looking at a procedural action by the court, not one based upon the merits of the case.

|| Greg, 08:44 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Travesty Of Justice

Andrea Yates was found not guilty of murdering her children.

It is a travesty of justice.

I am sickened beyond words.

She was tried on only three counts of murder, so I hope they go back and nail her on the other two. Hospitalization is insufficient -- and I would argue that prison doesn't constitute justice, either. If she does not merit an IV in the death chamber, no one does.

|| Greg, 07:03 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Prayers For A Cardinal

Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, has been diagnosed with bladder cancer and will undergo surgery tomorrow.

Cardinal Francis George, spiritual leader of the nation's third largest diocese, has been diagnosed with bladder cancer and was scheduled to have his bladder removed Thursday, church officials said.

George, 69, is expected to remain hospitalized at least eight days after surgery, then recuperate at his Chicago residence for six to eight weeks, archdiocese spokeswoman Colleen Dolan said.

A full recovery is expected. Asked about the possibility of losing this battle with cancer and meeting God face-to-face, the Cardinal responded with an optimistic faith.

"The idea of meeting him is, while disquieting, is not something that I've become afraid of," he said. "I'm more afraid of the operation and the complications of life without a bladder than I am of death itself."

Indeed, the meeting of our Lord should come as a source of joy to a Christian. it is our sojourn here, as teh cardinal indicates, that is our source off worry and concern.

During Cardinal George's convalesence, the Archdiocese will be in good hand -- or perhaps I should say under the protective wings of a dbird of a different feather. The Archdiocesan Vicar general, Father John Canary, will administer the Archdiocese. Father Canary was the vice-rector of the seminary I attended, and is a good man. I wish him well.

Caring Father, send forth your healing Spirit upon your servant Francis, and speed him towards a full recovery. Grant that his doctors may do al in their power to remove the cancer and in the subsequent treatment. And strengthen Father John as he guides your church in the Chicago area during this time, that he may act with wisdom and prudence in accord with your will. And we ask this through Jesus Christ, your son. Amen.

|| Greg, 06:57 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Ancient Book Of Psalms Found

And is there a message for us today in the verses to which this incredibly old book of Scripture was opened?


Irish archaeologists Tuesday heralded the discovery of an ancient book of psalms by a construction worker while driving the shovel of his backhoe into a bog.

The approximately 20-page book has been dated to the years 800-1000. Trinity College manuscripts expert Bernard Meehan said it was the first discovery of an Irish early medieval document in two centuries.

"This is really a miracle find," said Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland, which has the book stored in refrigeration. Researchers will conduct years of painstaking analysis before putting the book on public display.

"There's two sets of odds that make this discovery really way out," Wallace said. "First of all, it's unlikely that something this fragile could survive buried in a bog at all, and then for it to be unearthed and spotted before it was destroyed is incalculably more amazing."

It was discovered by accident, really, by an engineer digging in a bog, with the peat to become potting soil.

And perhaps most interesting is the place to which the book is open -- a very topical spot, given world events.


The book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which God hears complaints of other nations' attempts to wipe out the name of Israel.

The enemies of Israel failed in ancient days, and they will fail in the present day as well, for God is faithful.

|| Greg, 02:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Israeli Peace Activist: This War Justified

I wonder what the supporters of terrorism are going to make of this column by Zeev Avrahami, a well-known Israeli peace activist? Actually, no I don't -- for most of them he's just one more Israeli Jew to them, and so his opinion only matters if it opposes Israel and its existance.

But to those who have qualms about the current war but still retain a sense of moral decency, I urge you to consider this.

Today, I am convinced that Israel is fighting a justified war. Far from being an "optional war," this conflict was forced upon us. There is a feeling that every positive step taken in recent years has been answered by punishment. Now we are prepared to do whatever it takes to turn Israel into a safe place, even if this means invading Lebanon once again. We also want to sip coffee and play backgammon. We've had enough of rockets from the north and south and suicide bombers from everywhere. We also want to lead a normal life, just like the people in New York, Berlin or Rome who don't have to look up every time a stranger enters their favorite cafe.

We pulled out of Gaza and we have no desire to be pulled back in. We want to go to work, study, raise a family, enjoy the beach, and eat hummus as we watch with delight how the Palestinians use the money they get from around the world to build their own infrastructure, to create jobs allowing them to go to the beach, raise families, and eat hummus. We prayed for hummus and instead we got Hamas.

As the threats come from all fronts and with the backing of Syria and Iran, we are once again faced with our unique reality: We have no place to go. Ask my mother. She was expelled from Iran in 1957 for being Jewish. Now, the Iranians want to force her to migrate again.

I am bothered by the high Lebanese death toll as are most Israelis, but we must also remember that Hezbollah set the tone for this conflict when it asked for hundreds of people in exchange for one Israeli soldier. This war was declared against us and against the Western world. With oil prices rising daily, it's an economic war. With anger still lingering after the Muhammad cartoons, it is a cultural war. Most of all, though, it is a war against a progressive world, and Israel has turned back the clock 24 years to fight it.

I too am turning back the clock. Eighteen years after finishing my military service -- almost two decades after swearing that I would never again wear a uniform -- I called the Israeli consulate in New York and gave them my phone number. If the army needed me, I told them, I would be the first on a plane back to Israel. And Sharon, of course, has still not woken from his coma. But I miss him.

Welcome back to sanity, Zeev -- I congratulate you on recognizing the true face of your nation's enemies.

(H/T Captain's Quarters)

|| Greg, 01:25 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 25, 2006

Garfield Assassination Exhibit

When one thinks of presidential assassinations, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy spring rapidly to mind. If one thinks a little harder, you might also remember that Teddy Roosevelt became president following the assassination of President William McKinley. But the fourth president felled by an assassin's bullet, James A. Garfield, is often overlooked by Americans. No wonder, for he had been president for less than four months when he was shot by Charles Guiteau, and died an agonizing eighty days later.


Now an exhibit has opened at the National Museum of Health and Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center examining the medical treatment received by President Garfield. At the time, 1881, medicine was a changing field in the United States, and it is generally accepted by historians that Garfield's doctors, not his assailant, killed him.


Garfield was waiting at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, about to leave for New England, when he was shot twice by the assassin, Charles J. Guiteau.

The first bullet grazed Garfield’s arm, said Lenore Barbian, anatomical collections curator for the museum. But the second struck him in the right side of the back and lodged deep in the body.

“No one expected Garfield to live through the night,” Dr. Barbian said.

As the display makes clear, the second bullet pierced Garfield’s first lumbar vertebra, crossing from right to left.

At the time, however, without the benefit of modern diagnostics, Garfield’s doctors could not determine the location of the bullet. “Trying to understand its pathway became their primary concern,” Dr. Barbian said.

At least a dozen medical experts probed the president’s wound, often with unsterilized metal instruments or bare hands, as was common at the time.

Sterile technique, developed by the British surgeon Joseph Lister in the mid-1860’s, was not yet widely appreciated in the United States, although it was accepted in France, Germany and other parts of Europe. Historians agree that massive infection, which resulted from unsterile practices, contributed to Garfield’s death.

Alexander Graham Bell was brought in to try to locate the bullet with one of his inventions.

The exhibit also includes an image of the metal detector designed by Alexander Graham Bell to search for the bullet. It was composed of a battery and several metal coils positioned on a wooden platform and was connected to an earpiece.

Jeffrey S. Reznick, senior curator at the museum, said the device was designed to create an electromagnetic field, which would be disrupted in the presence of a metal object. The disruption would cause the device to emit a clicking sound through the earpiece.

“Electricity and magnetism were just being appreciated as ways to explore the body’s interior,” Dr. Reznick said.

Bell’s invention failed on two occasions to pinpoint the bullet’s location. Historians say this may have been because the device picked up metal coils in the president’s mattress, or because Bell searched only on the right side of Garfield’s body, where the lead physician, Dr. Doctor Willard Bliss — Doctor was his given name — had come to believe the bullet was lodged.

In early September, the president was moved from the White House to a cottage in Elberon, N.J., on the shore.


Garfield died in New Jersey on September 19, which, fittingly enough is the closing date of this exhibit, (it opened on July 2, the 125th anniversary of the shooting).

Interestingly enough, a similar wound today would require only a brief hospital stay.

At the autopsy, it became evident that the bullet had pierced Garfield’s vertebra but missed his spinal cord. The bullet had not struck any major organs, arteries or veins, and had come to rest in adipose tissue on the left side of the president’s back, just below the pancreas.

Dr. Ira Rutkow, a professor of surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and a medical historian, said: “Garfield had such a nonlethal wound. In today’s world, he would have gone home in a matter or two or three days.”

One part of the exhibit is a section of Garfield's spine consisting of the 12th thoracic and 1st and 2nd lumbar vertebrae -- removed at his autopsy and passed around to the jurors as an exhibit at the trial of the assassin.


If you would like to read more about the Garfield assassination, but not something that is a dry, scholarly tome, I am told that Sarah Vowell's Assasination Vacation contains an interesting and accessible account of the assassination and its aftermath. I'm planning to read it shortly.


|| Greg, 11:40 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Will The Left Call Them "Theocrats"?

Probably not, because they are a part of the Letist coalition. Therefore, whatever these religious leftists do is fine.

With a faith-based agenda of their own, liberal and progressive clergy from various denominations are lobbying lawmakers, holding rallies and publicizing their positions. They want to end the Iraq war, ease global warming, combat poverty, raise the minimum wage, revamp immigration laws, and prevent "immoral" cuts in federal social programs.

Some, like the Rev. Robin Meyers of the United Church of Christ in Oklahoma, marry gay couples and seek to reduce abortions while rejecting calls by the right to outlaw them.

"I join the ranks of those who are angry because I have watched as the faith I love has been taken over by fundamentalists who claim to speak for Jesus but whose actions are anything but Christian," declared Meyers, who has written a new book, "Why the Christian Right is Wrong.

According to scholars, the religious left has become its most active since the 1960s when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other clergy -- black and white -- were key figures in the civil-rights and anti-Vietnam war movements.

Yeah, that's right -- the Left has always welcomed religious support. It's only when people of faith oppose tehm that the liberals insist that their involvement in the policy-making process is illegitimate. So much for the intellectual honesty on their part.

So the next time you hear a Leftist attacking "theo-cons" for violating "separation of Church and State", find out if he is willing to denounce Rev. Robin Meyers or Rev. Jim Wallis.

Or better yet, perhaps you can ask him about repealing a certain federal holiday that honors a certain Baptist minister-- in the name of separation of Church and State, of course.

|| Greg, 10:38 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (249) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

RIP Master Chief Boatswain's Mate Carl M. Brashear, USN (Ret.) -- A MAN Among Men Has Passed

Once, as a boy, I met Carl Brashear. I didn't quite understand his significance at the time, but I have come to understand it as an adult.

Master Chief Boatswain's Mate Carl M. Brashear, USN (Ret.), has passed away.


He was a MAN worthy of admiration. And in death, Carl Brashear remains a MAN worthy of respect, admiration and emulation. At a time when the place of a black man in society was often subject to question, he made his way by being better than those around him. When a lesser human being might have given up and allowed himself to be defeated when life dealt him a crappy hand, he fought to overcome the obstacles placed before him.

Yes, I say it again. Carl Brashear was a MAN.

Carl M. Brashear, the first black U.S. Navy diver who was portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the 2000 film "Men of Honor," died Tuesday. He was 75.

Brashear died at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth of respiratory and heart failure, the medical center said.

Brashear retired from the Navy in 1979 after more than 30 years of service. He was the first Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee, the result of a leg injury he sustained during a salvage operation.

"The African-American community lost a great leader today in Carl Brashear," Gooding said of the man he depicted alongside Robert DeNiro, who played Brashear's roughneck training officer in "Men of Honor." "His impact to us as a people and all races will be felt for many decades to come."

I'd like to correct Cuba Gooding -- all of America has lost a great leader and an exemplary human being. Race should not even enter into the equation, for I believe that Carl Brashear and his example transcend that trivia of skin color. That is a lesson I learned from the Navy man who raised me, and who introduced me to Carl Brashear.

Let us not forget what Brashear was doing when he sustained the injury that cost him his leg.

In 1966, Brashear was tasked with recovering a hydrogen bomb that dropped into waters off of Spain when two U.S. Air Force planes collided.

During the mission, Brashear was struck below his left knee by a pipe that the crew was using to hoist the bomb out of the water. Brashear was airlifted to a naval hospital where the bottom of his left leg was amputated to avoid gangrene. It later was replaced with a prosthetic leg.

The Navy was ready to retire Brashear from active duty, but he soon began a grueling training program that included diving, running and calisthenics.

"Sometimes I would come back from a run, and my artificial leg would have a puddle of blood from my stump. I wouldn't go to sick bay because they would have taken me out of the program," Brashear said in 2002 when he was inducted into the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians. "Instead I'd go hide somewhere and soak my leg in a bucket of hot water with salt in it - that's an old remedy I learned growing up."

After completing 600- to 1,000-foot-deep dives while being evaluated for five weeks at the Experimental Diving Unit in Washington, D.C., Brashear became a master diver in 1970.

Would you go to such lengths in similar circumstances? More to the point, having achieved the goal of reinstatement, would you continue to excel, striving to be teh best in your field? That is the marking of a MAN.

Not only did he love what he did, Brashear had no regrets.

Despite the battles he faced in the Navy, Brashear had said his passion for military service was unyielding.

"I loved the Navy so much I once tried to get my mother to join the Navy reserves," he said with a laugh. "I would love to do it all over again."

And the tradition of service begun by Carl Brashear continues today -- his son, Philip, was granted emergency leave from his duties as an Army helicopter pilot in Iraq so that he could be with his father during his final hours on this earth.

May God, our compassionate Father, who watched over and preserved Carl Brashear in life welcome him into paradise this day, and grant him the eternal rest he so richly deserves. And may He send out his Holy Spirit to comfort the Brashear family and all who knew and loved this MAN among men. In the name of Christ Jesus we pary. Amen.

OTHER TRIBUTES: Captain's Quarters, Specific Impulse, Below the Beltway, Gantry Launchpad

|| Greg, 09:39 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Coaches (And Presumably Teachers) Have Freedom To Pray With Students

So if students lead prayers, there is nothing to prevent a coach teacher from kneeling or bowing their head to join with them -- as long as the prayer is student-initiated and student-led.

NEWARK East Brunswick High School football coach Marcus Borden won his lawsuit against the school district today in the culmination of a dispute over the coach's role in pre-game prayer by the team.

After hearing oral arguments from Borden and school board attorney Martin Pachman in federal district court, U.S. District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh ruled in Borden's favor, permitting the veteran coach to silently bow his head and "take a knee'' while his players engaged in student-initiated, student-led, nonsectarian pregame prayer.

Pachman unsuccessfully argued that Borden's request to silently bow and "take a knee'' where in violation of the First Amendment clause that prohibits government from establishing religion.

"It is a very important victory for public school teachers and coaches,'' said Borden's attorney, Ronald J. Riccio. "It reaffirms that government can't be hostile to religion, that they have to remain neutral and that not all things that partake of religion are impermissible or in violation of the establishment clause.''

In other words, as we so often say here, the right guaranteed under teh First Amendment is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

|| Greg, 08:00 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Proportionality? Bullshit!

The new cry of the anti-Israel supporters of terrorism is that Israel's response to the warfare conducted against it by Hamas and Hezbollah is that the self-defense actions of Israel are not "proportional".

Now I can reach only two conclusions about those calling for proportionality. Either they are disingenuous, or they are stupid. After all, life teaches us that when we face a threat to our lives or our safety, proportional response is not the answer. The response must be overwhelming, absolute, and utterly disproportinate to the threat. The goal cannot be a draw -- it must be the utter subjugation or annihilation of the enemy.

My brother is a sergeant on a police force on the West Coast. We've watched more than one television show or movie in which some scriptwriter has had a police officer shoot a perp in the knee, arm, or hand in order to stop or disarm him. When that happens, my brother laughs, and notes "In real life, that is probably a dead cop." Real cops, you see, recognize that when they pull the trigger they must shoot to kill. If they don't, there is a very real chance that the perp will not be disabled or disarmed, and that he will shoot back or use a blade when the officer approaches. Therefore, they shoot for the chest, in the hope of causing such massive injury (or, of course, death) that there is no chance of that the perp can take any action in response. Any other response is stupid -- and anyone who advocates the use of less than deadly force in that situation either does not understand policework or is more concerned about the life of the perp than the life of the police officer. Cops don't use deadly force often or as a primary course of action -- but they don't hesitate to use it when appropriate.

But with Israel, which is using the IDF to disarm and incapacitate terrorist enemies, the call is for settling for something less than safety and security by using no greater force than the enemy is using.

Take this, for example.

Destroying the Beirut airport, blasting communications towers into oblivion and cleansing southern Lebanon of its civilian population are not measures the world will see as an attack on Hezbollah terrorists. The Israeli campaign is so intense and widespread that it is creating more terrorists than it kills. Proportionate military action might have enhanced Israel's security, but video footage of grandmothers weeping amid the rubble of their homes and bloodied children lying in hospital beds won't make Israel more secure. Hezbollah's stature in the Arab world is growing, and its patrons in Damascus and Tehran must be smugly satisfied.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter how "the world" views Israel. What matters is that the people of Israel are safe. If that makes Israel unpopular, so be it. Experience has shown the Jews that "the world" does little on their behalf, no matter how passive they are. A litany of pogroms and concentration camps demonstrates that. And somehow I doubt that Iran and Syria would make nice if only Israel would refrain from going to extremes in its own defense.

Even Richard Cohen, who calls Israel a mistake, recognizes that calls for proportionality are insane.

If by chance you have the search engine LexisNexis and you punch in the words "Israel'' and "disproportionate,'' you run the risk of blowing up your computer or darkening your entire neighborhood. Just limiting the search to newspapers and magazines of the last week will turn up "more than 1,000 documents.'' Israel may be the land of milk and honey but it certainly seems to be the land of disproportionate military response -- and a good thing, too.

The list of those who have accused Israel of not being in harmony with its enemies is long and, alas, distinguished. It includes, of course, the United Nations and its secretary general, Kofi Annan. It also includes a whole bunch of European newspapers whose editorial pages call for Israel to respond, it seems, with only one missile for every one tossed its way. Such neat proportion is a recipe for doom.

The dire consequences of proportionality are so clear that it makes you wonder if it is a fig leaf for anti-Israel sentiment in general. Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that proportionality is madness. For Israel, a small country within reach, as we are finding out, of a missile launched from any enemy's back yard, proportionality is not only inapplicable, it is suicide. The last thing it needs is a war of attrition. It is not good enough to take out this or that missile battery. It is necessary to re-establish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights.

Damn straight. Anything less is an invitation for further attack and ultimate destruction.

Now there are those -- including my now banned troll -- who plead the case of the poor civilians of Lebanon. Sadly, they are victims in this -- victims of Hezbollah and their own government. Captain Ed sagely makes the point about where the responsibility belongs for the disproportinal response by Israel -- a response that has led to these unintended but unavoidable civilian casualties belongs.

If Hezbollah finds itself holding a knife in a gunfight, then the blame falls on Hezbollah and the Lebanese government that granted then de facto sovereignty in the south. Wars do not get fought through "proportionality," and they certainly do not end that way. They end when one side overwhelms the other with superior force and dictates terms to the loser, or when one side decides they've had enough and sues for peace. Demands for proportionality lead us to where we are today -- long, bloody wars of attrition that solve nothing and embolden asymmetrical warfare.

How about this for proportionality: Israel comprises about 6.3 million people, while Hezbollah's sponsors, Syria and Iran, comprise a combined 87 million people. Does that mean that the global community will allow Israel to impose a 13:1 death ratio in this war, and to keep killing people indiscriminately until they reach the correct numbers? When the UN and its international dupes start endorsing that proposal, then we can take their demands for proportionality seriously.

Frankly, I think I could accept precisely such a ratio, though I would prefer that it be higher. So keep up the good work, IDF -- leave not one rocket-launcer standing, and not one terrorist alive.

UPDATE: Would you like to know the effect of a "proportionate" response to Hezbollah? It can be inferred from this statement of Mahmoud Komati, a Hezbollah leader.

His comments were the first time that a leader from the Shiite militant group has publicly suggested it miscalculated the consequences of the July 12 cross-border raid in which two Israeli soldiers were captured and three were killed.

"The truth is _ let me say this clearly _ we didn't even expect (this) response ... that (Israel) would exploit this operation for this big war against us," said Komati.

He said Hezbollah had expected "the usual, limited response" from Israel.

In the past, he said, Israeli responses to Hezbollah actions included sending commandos into Lebanon, seizing Hezbollah officials and briefly targeting specific Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon.

Komati said his group had anticipated negotiations to swap the Israeli soldiers for three Lebanese held in Israeli jails, with Germany acting as a mediator as it has in past prisoner exchanges.

Yeah, that's right -- Hezbollah was expecting another proportionate response from the Israelis, and is upset that the Israelis aren't playing by Hezbollah's rules. what's more, he goes on to complain that Israel had this campaign planned and had just been waiting for the opportunity to strike. I guess he feels that it is somehow immoral for Israel to decide to effectively defend itself from an external threat.

So let's clarify the matter here -- proportionate response leads to continued attacks -- because Hezbollah gets what it wants in such situations. Disproportionate response might just succeed in getting Israel some security.

|| Greg, 07:39 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Profile In Cowardice

I don't object to a candidate trying to put distance between himself and President Bush -- it is a legitimate strategy. But I do object to a candidate going to the national media and saying that is what he is doing -- but not being willing to say it on the record.

The candidate, immersed in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country, sat down to lunch yesterday with reporters at a Capitol Hill steakhouse and shared his views about this year's political currents.

On the Iraq war: "It didn't work. . . . We didn't prepare for the peace."

On the response to Hurricane Katrina: "A monumental failure of government."

On the national mood: "There's a palpable frustration right now in the country."

It's all fairly standard Democratic boilerplate -- except the candidate is a Republican . And he's getting all kinds of cooperation from the White House, the Republican National Committee and GOP congressional leaders.

Not that he necessarily wants it. "Well, you know, I don't know," the candidate said when asked if he wanted President Bush to campaign for him. Noting Bush's low standing in his home state, he finally added: "To be honest with you, probably not."

The candidate gave the luncheon briefing to nine reporters from newspapers, magazines and networks under the condition that he be identified only as a GOP Senate candidate. When he was pressed to go on the record, his campaign toyed with the idea but got cold feet. He was anxious enough to air his gripes but cautious enough to avoid a public brawl with the White House.

Still, his willingness to speak so critically, if anonymously, about the party he will represent on Election Day points to a growing sense among Republicans that if they are to retain their majorities in Congress, they may have to throw the president under the train in all but the safest, reddest states.

personally, I'm betting it is Lincoln Chafee -- but I could be wrong. It could be any number of incumbents or challengers this year.

And that is where the problem lies. Voters have a right to know where the candidate stands -- and if a candidate is unwilling to come out and make such statements publicly, how can voters be sure that they are voting for the sort of candidate they want? How can donors know that their money is going to support candidates who stand where they do?

UPDATE: I wondered if this was who made the statements above. And given that he has made such statements publicly in the past, I'm not as troubled.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's Senate campaign acknowledged yesterday that he was the anonymous candidate quoted by a Washington Post political reporter as saying that being a Republican was like wearing a "scarlet letter" and that he did not want President Bush to campaign for him this fall.

The campaign made the disclosure after a day of speculation in the blogosphere and among political reporters about which Republican Senate candidate had made the disparaging remarks reported by Dana Milbank in the Washington Sketch column in yesterday's Post.

But interestingly enough, it seems that Milbank took a few isolated comments that were negative about the president and ignored those positive statements that were made by Steele.

Steele spokesman Doug Heye did not dispute the accuracy of Steele's quotes in the paper but said Steele spent little time at the luncheon talking about the subject and said the article did not include some comments Steele made praising Bush.

"When he agrees with the Republican administration, he absolutely does so," Heye said. "When he disagrees, he speaks his mind."

We know that with Michael Steele we will get a moderate-conservative -- not a liberal like certain New England senators, but not a hard-right ideologue. That is fine with me, because it is the best we can get out of Maryland. He isn't Alan Keys -- but then again, who would vote for Alan Keyes?

|| Greg, 05:56 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Decision To Ban

As folks around here know, I don't ban commenters very often. Indeed, I had only one banned individual on this site as recently as an hour ago -- a guy who kept insisting upon posting profanity-laced rants on my site rather than engaging in reasoned argumentation.

And that leads me the decision I made this afternoon.

I've had a commenter who is vigorously opposed to Israel commenting here. Now I'm willing to accept that position as legitimate -- indeed, it has not been too many years since I was a vigorous critic of Israel. I recognize that opposition to Israeli policy and criticism of Israeli leaders need not be based in anti-Semitism, and respect an honest discussion of the topic. I would, in fact, welcome such discussion here.

Unfortunately, the commenter in question, Ken Hoop ( -- send him as much spam as you want) has crossed the line several times. Not only has he repeatedly made rather disgusting statements in posts, but he also sent me even more vile material in my email. This included links to extremist sites like,, and I can accept such items in the spirit they are offered -- a hate-filled spirit, to be sure, but one which at least makes a pretense of intellectual discussion.

Today I received an email containing various links and graphics from a site called After opening the email and looking at the site, I felt a compulsion to bathe in the hopes that I could remove the contamination caused by viewing such material. I will not even describe it, except to indicate that it is anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, and laden with a level of bigotry that I did not think that even Ken Hoop could descend to.

Ken Hoop is now banned. His emails are now deleted before I ever see them. I have blocked every IP from which he has ever posted, including at least two public library systems in the Cincinnati area (one in Ohio, one in Kentucky). If anyone has difficulty commenting as a result, please feel free to email me and I will see if we can make other arrangements to allow you to post while keeping the hatemonger off of this site.

|| Greg, 04:41 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are When History Bites Back by Joshuapundit, and Wither the 'Democratization Strategy'? by TigerHawk

And here is a link to the full results of the vote.

|| Greg, 04:14 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 24, 2006

I Could Not Make This Up

The headline alone seems almost to be a parody.

NUT seek pre-school gay awareness

But it isn't -- and shows just how far some are willing to go into indoctrinating young people into the "gay is good" cult of the Left.

Nurseries must play their part in challenging homophobia from an early age amongst pupils, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has warned.

The NUT reacted to The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) consultation from the Department for Education and Skills on policies regarding pre-school children up to 5 years old.

The report said: “By five years old many children have already internalised gender-role expectations, through the process of socialisation. Early years education, amongst other cultural and social factors, plays an important role in young children’s socialisation.

“Research shows that children as young as five begin to display disapproval of peers’ role-inconsistent behaviours and are self-critical when judging how they would feel if they were playing with role-inconsistent toys. Young children monitor their behaviour against gender stereotypes, feeling pride on performing gender role-consistent behaviour.

“In the case of homophobia, the use of the word ‘gay’ is prevalent in primary schools and young boys who are perceived to not conform to masculine stereotypes are at risk of bullying, isolation and social exclusion.

“It is too late to wait until primary school to challenge prejudice and intolerant abusive language. The EYFS curriculum needs to alert early years teachers to their responsibilities to challenge gender stereotypes and to challenge language that is negative or prejudiced.”

The document also called for pre school children to be made aware of different family structures such as civil partnerships, gay parents or grandparents, adoptive parents and guardians, “Many gay parents do not ‘come out’ to their nursery schools because they fear their children will be bullied as a result of the sexual orientation of their parents. Now that civil partnerships are legal, nursery settings need to use the curriculum to educate children about all types of family and to promote respect and understanding.

"Increasingly there are resources such as reading books available for nursery settings which give positive examples of diversity.”

Last week gay charity Stonewall produced a DVD entitled Spell It Out to be distributed to teachers in all London’s secondary schools, as part of its campaign to combat homophobic bullying.

The Guardian recently reported that Stonewall had won a government tender to produce guidance on tackling homophobic bullying in all schools.

So start spoon-feeding the gay agenda to kids in pre-school -- sexualizing children at an even younger age. And ignore, of course, that there are certain norms of family structure and gender roles in society -- norms that I will gladly concede are not rigid, but to which the bulk of people in Western society conform.

What next? Subliminal pro-homosexual messages in the neo-natal nursery at the hospital?

In short, I think that NUT is nuts.

|| Greg, 06:25 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Difference Betwen Israelis And Their Opponents

There has been a serious controversy over one of the pictures below, sparking cries of outrage around the world. Can you decide which one has people upset?

Israeli children write on munitions which are intended to kill terrorists.


Muslim children strap on munitions which are intended to kill civilians.


Which one outrages you? Which one should?

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT: Conservative Cat, Mark My Words, Bullwinkle Blog

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Is Iran Entering War In Lebanon?

It may be, if this report is accurate.

TEAMS of Iranian suicide bombers were heading for Lebanon’s war zone last night in a terrifying bid to spark meltdown in the Middle East.

Twenty-seven martyrdom-seekers have been sent to Syria on their way to front line positions.

The mad fanatics, belonging to the Iranian Martyrs of Islam World Movement, have been training for months to wreak maximum havoc on military and soft civilian targets. Their aim is to spark terror which will detonate all-out war and suck Western nations into a final bloody showdown.

A spokesman for the martyrs group said yesterday: “Two teams of 18 and nine have gone to Syria separately.

“They have been deployed on a voluntary basis in order to get to the areas of conflict in any way they can.”

The man, named only as Mohammadi, claimed the 27 were picked from 55,000 who registered in Iran. They were briefed and have completed the “relevant courses” so that they could perform both military services and helping the wounded.

Mohammadi added: “If Israel would decide to occupy Lebanon again, they will carry out martyrdom-seeking operations.”

The would-be bombers are also trained to recruit local volunteers and create new cells of suicide attackers.

But of course, the whole situation is Israel's fault -- that is what the "international community" tells us. After all, who are they to demand that terrorist incursions and missle attacks into their territory stop?

|| Greg, 02:32 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The US Position On The Middle East Situation

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has visited war-torn Beirut as a part of her effort to bring real peace and security to the troubled region. She also brought an initial commitment of $30 million in humanitarian aid to teh region.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the visit to the region has been this statement of the US position onthe current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah terrorists who control much of Lebanon.

According to a Lebanese political source quoted by Reuters news agency, Rice told Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament and a strong ally of Syria, that the situation on the Israeli-Lebanese border "cannot return to what it was before July 12." She referred to the date on which fighters of the radical Shiite Hezbollah organization, which is supported by Syria and Iran, crossed into Israel, killed three Israeli soldiers and abducted two others, triggering the current crisis.

The Lebanese source, describing the meeting's tone as "very negative," said Rice told Berri there would be no cease-fire before Hezbollah freed the soldiers unconditionally and pulled its forces back at least 12 miles from the border, Reuters reported.

In other words, tehre can be no peace in the region so long as the terrorists continue to be in a position to attack Israel at will, hiding beyon international borders for safety. Any plan for peace must therefore eliminate the threat to the security of Israel, which has repeatedly taken steps in recent years to appease the Palestinians with little received in return except more attacks and casualties. An additional goal is enabling Lebanon, which until last year was dominated by Syria, to gain effective control of its own territory from the hezbollah terrorists.

The visit, which Rice said was requested personally by President Bush, was designed in part to show support for Lebanon's government, the first in years to be led largely by anti-Syrian figures. The visit was also aimed at determining what Lebanon needs to support itself and possibly get control over its southern region, now used by Hezbollah to fire rockets into Israel.

"If they could control the country, we would not be in this situation. The status quo has never been stable," said a senior official accompanying Rice.

Ultimately, the issue is Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist groups. Israel has shown that it can negotiate peace with its neighbors and that it is prepared to accept a Palestinian state. On the other hand, the terrorist groups which control the Palestinian authority and southern Lebanon -- not to mention the Syrians, who are among the sponsors of those groups -- are unwilling to settle for anything less than the destruction of Israel. Thus the problem can only be solved by eliminating (or at least neutralizing) those groups.

|| Greg, 02:02 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Few Good Books

I am, as my wife will tell you, a voracious reader. My tastes are varied (though I particularly enjoy science fiction for escapism), and so I read a wide variety of different literature.

Over the last few weeks, I've read a number of good books that I would like to offer up as suggestions to my readers.


This is NOT an ideological recommendation -- it is one based upon readability. Bennett has written a history of the US (up to the eve of WWI) that is not only strong on facts but also entertaining. While very much written from a traditional perspective, Bennett does not fail to point out the less-proud moments in our nation's history. He also sprinkles the book with tidbits and asides that make his subjects, so often presented as dry, wooden figures by academic historians, come alive. For example, while the correspondance between John Adams and his beloved Abigail is well known, I never imagined that the microfilm of their letters, laid end to end, would extend over five miles. Those who love history -- or who want to love history -- would do well to add this book to their collection.


I'll admit it -- when Anne McCaffrey decided to pass her much-loved Pern series on to her son, Todd, I was frightened. After all, Anne had developed Pern over the course of nearly four decades, beginning with the Draonriders Trilogy, expanding it with the Harper Hall Trilogy of juvenile novels (which take us into more mundane life on Pern) and then expanded with novels set in much earlier periods of Pern's history and some which complete the story begun in the initial novels. Todd has brought us into a different world -- one which looks to the common people of the planet -- in particular the outcast and marginalized of society. This novel looks at the miners of Pern -- and the Shunned, those expelled from the Holds for crimes great and petty. While this might not be the best of the Pern novels to begin one's acquaintance with Pern (you really need to read the Dragonriders Trilogy for that), this is a worthy place to continue the friendship.



If Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey are among your literary heroes, I strongly encorage you to read of the exploits of Charles Edgemont of the Royal Navy, for he is another fighting captain of the Napoleonic Wars. A relucant hero, Edgemont earns his reputation and first command at a young age when he is the senior surviving officer aboard a stricken ship at the battle of St. Vincent. He rises to the challenge -- but finds his most pressing battle is for the heart of a Quaker girl, Penny Brown, whose faith presents an obstacle to their relationship. The battles are fierce, the romance touching, and the issues of faith handled with respect and dignity. By the way, Hornblower and Aubrey each mak a cameo appearance in the first two novels -- yeah, a bit of a gimmick, but a pleasant (though brief) surprise. By the way -- how captivating are these books? I read the first in two sittings, and the second in a single marathon sitting. I literally could not bring myself to put them down. I cannot wait for Jay Worrall to bring us the next installment of this charming series.



These are the first few novels of Charles Stross' "Merchant Princes" series. The series combines an old cliche (a foundling who is secretly royalty) and combines it with two of my favorite science fiction themes -- alternate histories and traveling between parallel universes. The series follows Miriam Beckstein, a technology reporter from Boston, and her discovery that she has the ability to travel between (at first) this world and a very different one. Lo and behold, this discovery leads to her being caught up in the political intrigue of her real family -- a noble family in a feudal world. But wait, there are twists and turns coming, as it turns out that her new-found family has a rather interesting business, and that her return to the fold disrupts the entire system of alliances that exists. Oh, by the way, there is a long-lost renegade branch of the family that appears on teh scene, leading to the discovery of a THIRD universe -- one which Miriam makes the most of. The third novel is definitely a bridge to the rest of the series, and so we will have to wait until next year's installment to see where this is all headed (Stross has already inked a deal to take the series through Book 6 -- one a year through 2009). The author, Charles Stross, has written a number of other novels that deal in different aspects of science fiction -- including at least one that is a must for fans of Lovecraft's Cthulu books. And to think I discovered this series by accident, when I noticed the paperback edition of The Hidden Family on the rack at Krogers! Good things are found in unexpected places.

Feel free to talk about any new discoveries in the comments below.

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT: Conservative Cat, Mark My Words, Bullwinkle Blog

|| Greg, 12:45 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 23, 2006

Blogging May Be Sporadic

I've got 10 days until I go back to school for in-service days. I think I'll try to spend a bit more of them with my darling wife, and a bit less with posting here.

I'll still be posting, but probably not as frequently.

|| Greg, 01:29 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (30) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 22, 2006

A Cartoon That Speaks Volumes

Like Tom over at Real Clear Politics, I wish I knew who to credit.


'Nuff said.

|| Greg, 03:49 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Nigerian Connection

I first noticed this bit of information back in May, but didn't have much time to pursue it during the hub-bub over the search of William Jefferson's Capitol Hill office. It is nice to see the matter looked at a bit more closely by the Washington Post.

The corruption investigation of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) has taken many strange twists: an FBI sting that caught the lawmaker on videotape accepting a large payoff; a subsequent raid that turned up $90,000 of that cash in his apartment freezer; and a weekend FBI search of his congressional office that triggered a constitutional uproar.

But one of the most puzzling and intriguing facets of the case is Jefferson's ties to Atiku Abubakar, the vice president of Nigeria. Abubakar, a wealthy businessman and one of the leading candidates in next year's race for president of Nigeria, divides his time between his homeland and Potomac, Md., where he and one of his four wives maintain a $2.2 million mansion.

Jefferson, who was a member of a House Ways and Means trade subcommittee, got to know Abubakar after the Nigerian was elected vice president in 1999. Later, Jefferson turned to Abubakar for help in winning a lucrative Nigerian telecommunications contract for a high-tech firm in Kentucky that was paying Jefferson bribes, according to an FBI affidavit. Jefferson told a business associate in a secretly taped conversation that Abubakar was "corrupt" and needed a hefty bribe and a cut of the profits in return for his help -- allegations Abubakar has strongly denied.

Abubakar's involvement in the case has created a buzz in Washington's diplomatic circles and generated intense political controversy and media attention in Nigeria -- a country that is trying to shed its long-standing reputation for corrupt government.

"I don't think it will be simply excused or trivialized," said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa program for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "I think his opponents will use it, certainly. Nigerian politics is hardball."

Nearly a year ago, the home in Potomac was searched by the FBI, which has indicated that Jefferson may have brived a foreign official.

For his part, Abubakar denies any involvement in Jefferson's corruption, claiming that Jefferson just used his name to further his own illegal schemes. Still, Abubakar rose from modest beginnings in a civil service known for its corruption -- and today is a multi-millionaire whose wealth came from sources which are difficult to determine. When one considers tht teh pair met shortly before the discovery of $90,000 in Jefferson's freezer, it is not unreasonable to connect the dots.

Intrestingly enough, though, it may be that $90,000 that clears the Nigerian Vice President.

Following the meeting (with Abubakar) on Sorrel Avenue, Jefferson told Mody that the vice president had demanded a cut of the profits (from Mody's iGate scheme). He said they also needed to give him a $500,000 payment "as a motivating factor," the affidavit said.

On July 30, Mody gave Jefferson a $100,000 bribe to pass on to Abubakar, and shortly after, Jefferson assured her that it had been delivered.

On Aug. 3, FBI agents found $90,000 of the marked FBI bills in Jefferson's freezer at his Capitol Hill apartment. None of cash had gone to Abubakar, according to the FBI affidavit.

Edward Weidenfeld, the vice president's Washington lawyer, called Jefferson's comments implicating Abubakar "false, self-serving statements."

Judy Smith, a Jefferson spokeswoman, said: "It should be clear from the statement by the vice president's counsel that the vice president never accepted or agreed to accept any money from the congressman. The congressman . . . maintains that he is innocent of any wrongdoing."

It will be interesting to see where further investigation leads.

|| Greg, 12:47 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

And I Wish We Would Get One Here, Too

Because I'm not about to drive 45 minutes to the Whole Foods nearest to us.

Homeowners, real estate brokers and builders see the natural foods powerhouse not just as a grocery but also as an engine for development. In Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood, a Whole Foods is credited with triggering a revival. In Sarasota, Fla., developers say they pre-sold all 95 apartments in a condominium tower because a Whole Foods opened on the first floor. And in Washington, many trace the revival of Logan Circle and the 14th Street corridor to the opening in 2000 of a Whole Foods on P Street NW.

What makes the Columbia Heights quest pronounced -- and controversial -- is that a glistening Giant opened less than a year ago a cucumber's toss from where the Whole Foods would go. Giant's all right in a pinch, Cooper and others say, but it's no Whole Foods.

The hunger of some residents for the cachet of Whole Foods is stirring unease among working-class residents who worry they will be forced out by new affluence and among longtime retailers who are struggling with rising rents and sagging sales.

* * *

Whole Foods has received about 500 e-mails from people in Columbia Heights. Some bear messages as simple as "We beg you!" Others contain sophisticated references to the company's stock price, corporate strategy and the neighborhood's demographics. Many of the writers said they admired the company's social conscience and employment practices.

Whole Foods gets similar requests every day, said Kate Lowery, spokeswoman for the 184-store chain, which was founded 27 years ago as a natural foods store in Austin and had $4.7 billion in sales last year. "We even get e-mails from people who say 'I'm thinking of moving to a certain city but before I leave, do you have any plans to move there?' " she said.

Listen to the Clear Lake area -- build it and we will come.

|| Greg, 12:27 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Religion And Higher Education

It is one of those issues that ha become a perennial conflict on college campuses around the country. How closely must religious colleges adhere to the teachings of the group which established them and from which they receive financial backing? The question has several prongs -- academic freedom, religious mission, and truth in advertising. This is especially true today among Southern Baptist colleges and universities.

The issues vary from state to state. But many Southern Baptist colleges and their state conventions have been battling over money, control of boards of trustees, whether the Bible must be interpreted literally, how evolution is taught, the propriety of some books for college courses and of some plays for campus performances and whether cultural and religious diversity should be encouraged.

At the root of the conflicts is the question of how much the colleges should reflect the views of their denomination. They are part of the continuing battle among Southern Baptists for control of their church’s institutions.

More than 20 years ago, theological and cultural conservatives gained control over moderates in the Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination’s broadest body, representing more than 16 million worshipers. Similar shifts then occurred in many, but not all, state Baptist conventions, which have considerable independence.

And therein lies the problem. When one is dealing with the department of theology, it is really easy to demand conformity. But when one starts strying outside of that field, the issues become more murky. Academic freedom is important, but so is the question of maintaining the focus on the religious mission of the school. After all, if one wishes to produce not just scholars, but scholars with a Christ-centered world-view, does it not make sense to draw lines that foster that world-view?

Ultimately, such conflicts lead to either a disaffiliation between the school and the religious institution, or to a "hostile takeover" of the board of trustees by the institution. In the case of Catholic colleges and universities, many retain an affiliation with a religious order, but are effectively insulated from control by local bishops or the Vatican by a structure which guarantees such independence. Unfortunately, this means that many such schools are Catholic in name but not in practice. I suspect that, as this conflict continues among the Baptists, that we will see something similar happen.

|| Greg, 12:13 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 21, 2006

Lennon's "Imagine" Banned By Church School

Parents, students, and some outside commentators are outraged that the song -- one which is well-known and well-loved -- would be prohibitted at the school concert.

A CHURCH school has barred children from singing John Lennon's Imagine - because the lyrics are "anti-religious".

Primary pupils were rehearsing the 1971 peace anthem, which asks people to imagine a world without religion, when head Geoff Williams vetoed the song following a teacher's complaint.

Mr Williams, who was backed by his governors, said: "We believe God is the foundation of all we do. It's not an appropriate song for our concert."

Falk AdSolution

Yesterday parents of disappointed children said the ban was "ridiculous". They were backed by secular organisations which accused the school of "fun-hating orthodoxy".

Pupils at St Leonard's C of E School, in Exeter, Devon, rehearsed Imagine for their annual concert, which is themed Songs for a Green Earth.

The song's lyrics include: "Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try/ No hell below us, above us only thing to kill and die for and no religion too." It was replaced by a traditional ditty, The Building Song.

And frankly, I think it is the correct choice. Let me explain by analogy.

When I was in teh seminary, one of my professors dealt with liturgical music. He argued that while some secular music might be approrpiate during a service, some sends the wrong message and should not be permitted. He mentioned th old 1970s hit, "The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face)" as an example of th latter. Couples want to use it at their weddings, because of the beautiful melody and the passionate lyrics of teh first verse. Unfortunately, the second verse is all about "Tthe first time ever I laid with you". Stop the presses! A song about the glorious feeling that accompanied the couple's first pre-marital intercourse doesn't belong in a church service. Don't do it.

And that leads us to "Imagine". I love the song. If I had an i-Pod, it would be one of the songs on it. But in a religious setting, it just does not belong, because it includes an explicit rejection of religion and religious faith. And after all, that is what sets religious education apart from non-religious education.

|| Greg, 09:08 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (8) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The War-Making Cost Of Peace Movements

Thomas Sowell makes a brilliant point -- peace movements and their fellow-travellers lead to more war more frequently, not more peace.

There was a time when it would have been suicidal to threaten, much less attack, a nation with much stronger military power because one of the dangers to the attacker would be the prospect of being annihilated.

"World opinion," the U.N. and "peace movements" have eliminated that deterrent. An aggressor today knows that if his aggression fails, he will still be protected from the full retaliatory power and fury of those he attacked because there will be hand-wringers demanding a cease fire, negotiations and concessions.

That has been a formula for never-ending attacks on Israel in the Middle East.

It is as I pointed out in a comment last night on another thread.

A more realistic end scenario is that it ends with Israel again caving into the international community's call to play nice -- and with the real aggressors (the so-called Palestinians) again being painted as the victims of injustice. That means security for another few years -- until the next time Israel caves into the latest demands of the international community to make concessions. That will set off a new round of the IDF engaging in vermin control -- and Israel being condemned for it.

It is unfortunate that Israel wil not be allowed to crush her foes compleely, for then we might see peace born out of the ashes of the defeat of Hamas and Hezbollah. Instead, these two groups will be permitted to lick their wounds and build up for the next round. Taht is teh pattern we have seen in the past, and which we will see in the future.

Such "peace movements" lead to a moral people giving up the will to "fight for King and Country" (to use the term from the infamous Oxford Union debate). The result is that those who have fewer scruples about engaging in a true war of aggression are encouraged and strengthened.

The most catastrophic result of "peace" movements was World War II. While Hitler was arming Germany to the teeth, "peace" movements in Britain were advocating that their own country disarm "as an example to others."

British Labor Party Members of Parliament voted consistently against military spending and British college students publicly pledged never to fight for their country. If "peace" movements brought peace, there would never have been World War II.

Not only did that war lead to tens of millions of deaths, it came dangerously close to a crushing victory for the Nazis in Europe and the Japanese empire in Asia. And we now know that the United States was on Hitler's timetable after that.

For the first two years of that war, the Western democracies lost virtually every battle, all over the world, because pre-war "peace" movements had left them with inadequate military equipment and much of it obsolete. The Nazis and the Japanese knew that. That is why they launched the war.

"Peace" movements don't bring peace but war.

While usually springing from the most noble of sentiments, such pacifism is generally the basis of false peace and real war.

|| Greg, 11:37 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Americans For A Republican Majority Fined, Will Close

But I feel like there is less to this than meets the eye. After all, Tom DeLay has indicated he is leaving the political arena, so agreeing to fold the group fits with those plans.

The political action committee used as a vehicle to power in Congress by Representative Tom DeLay has agreed to pay $115,000 in fines for violations of federal campaign rules and will close its doors permanently, the Federal Election Commission said Thursday.

According to an agreement with the commission, Mr. DeLay’s committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, agreed to the fines to settle accusations that it had failed to report more than $322,000 in debts and other obligations to its vendors and had misrepresented more than $240,000 in other financial activity in 2001 and 2002.

The pact did not provide a timetable for the shutdown of the committee, which for years was Mr. DeLay’s chief fund-raising arm, allowing him to make millions of dollars in contributions to political allies who then supported his rise in the Republican leadership in Congress.

An audit last year disclosed problems -- though there appeared to be no wrong-doing on DeLay's part. The FEC has since changed teh rules that were violated on the grounds that they were confusing and at times contradictory -- with artificial distinctions between hard money and soft money and how each could be spent tripping up many groups. Campaign finance law experts also indicate that the amount of the fine was not unusual, which would further indicate taht any violations were not knowingly or willfully committed.

|| Greg, 11:22 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Can We Recover The Neaderthal Genome

This is going back into pre-history -- and may be another thing I pass on to my students during the first week or two of school, as we deal with the earliest history of humanity. There is just so much we don't know, so anything we can find out is exciting.

Researchers in Germany said Thursday that they planned to collaborate with an American company in an effort to reconstruct the genome of Neanderthals, the archaic human species that occupied Europe from 300,000 years ago to 30,000 years ago until being displaced by modern humans.

Long a forlorn hope, the sequencing, or decoding, of Neanderthal DNA suddenly seems possible because of a combination of analytic work on ancient DNA by Svante Paabo, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and a new method of DNA sequencing developed by a Connecticut company, 454 Life Sciences.

The initial genome to be decoded comes from 45,000-year-old Neanderthal bones found in Croatia, though bones from other sites may be analyzed later. Because the genome must be kept in constant repair and starts to break up immediately after the death of the cell, the material surviving in Neanderthal bones exists in tiny fragments 100 or so DNA units in length. As it happens, this is just the length that works best with the 454 machine, which is also able to decode vast amounts of DNA at low cost.

Recovery of the Neanderthal genome, in whole or in part, would be invaluable for reconstructing many events in human prehistory and evolution. It would help address such questions as whether Neanderthals and humans interbred, whether the archaic humans had an articulate form of language, how the Neanderthal brain was constructed, if they had light or dark skin, and the total size of the Neanderthal population.

And they only have to sequence 3 billion bits of Neanderthal DNA to do it, while separating out the DNA of human handlers of the bones and the various bacteria that have entered teh bones over the course of tens of thousands of years.

But they do have some areas with which to start.

The researchers’ hope is to recover the entire sequence of the Neanderthal genome, but that will depend on whether they can recover enough DNA. From sampling so far, no particular gaps in the sequence are apparent. “We are hitting all the chromosomes and getting good coverage,” Dr. Egholm said. If no single specimen yields a full sequence, the genome might be recovered by combining DNA from several individuals.

One of the most important results that researchers are hoping for is to discover, from a three-way comparison of chimp, human and Neanderthal DNA, which genes have made humans human. The chimp and human genomes differ at just 1 percent of the sites on their DNA. At this 1 percent, Neanderthals resemble humans at 96 percent of the sites, to judge from the preliminary work, and chimps at 4 percent. Analysis of these DNA sites, at which humans differ from the two other species, will help understand the evolution of specifically human traits “and perhaps even aspects of cognitive function,” Dr. Paabo said.

The degree of resemblance between humans and Neanderthals is fiercely debated by archaeologists, and even issues like whether Neanderthals had language have not been resolved. Dr. Paabo believes that genetic analysis is the best hope of doing so. He has paid particular attention to a gene known as FOXP2, which from its mutated forms in people seems to be involved in several advanced aspects of language.

A longstanding dispute among archaeologists is whether the modern humans who first entered Europe 45,000 years ago, ultimately from Africa, interbred with the Neanderthals or forced them into extinction. Interbreeding could have been genetically advantageous to the incoming humans, says Bruce Lahn, a geneticist at the University of Chicago, because the Neanderthals were well adapted to the cold European climate — the last ice age had another 35,000 years to run — and to local diseases.

And that plays out in textbooks. My old book indicated tehre was no relationship, my new one that there was not, and much current research comes down in the middle. The recovery of the full genome might well lay that question to rest, along with the question of interbreeding.

I won't telll you what lies at the end of the article -- but it raises all sorts of moral/ethical questions that are fascinating to think about.

|| Greg, 11:14 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 20, 2006

Serial Killer In Houston

Andrea Yates and Clara Harris both did their killings within a short distance of my home. The Railway Killer took out a couple of victims near my old home in Illinois, and one not too far from my night job. So if there is one person responsible for these killings, I'm glad they are on the other side of town from where I live.

Still, I can't help but feel a chill as I read about six deaths that appear to be connected. Add to that the sexual assaults, and I fear for the safety of women I know who live in that part of town.

Houston police said this afternoon they are looking into whether a serial killer is responsible for the deaths of six women and the sexual assaults of six others in north Houston this year.

"We clearly believe that these cases are related," said Capt. Dale Brown of the Houston Police Department's homicide division.

"We are very concerned about this series of deaths that have occurred, and we have assigned a lot of resources to this investigation," added Police Chief Harold Hurtt.

The slayings occurred primarily in and around the Acres Homes area. Police said some of the victims had a history of being involved in prostitution.

A woman found stabbed to death behind a northwest Houston bar Wednesday may be the latest victim.

I hope HPD solves this case quickly, before others are violated or killed.

|| Greg, 08:40 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Senate Votes To Solve Problems Of 1964, Not 2006

I'm just disgusted by this vote. Rather than make the temporary provisions of the Voting Rights Act relevant to today's issues, lawmakers chose to keep trying to undo the wrongs of 1964.

The Senate today extended the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for 25 more years as Republicans sought to earn goodwill from minority voters in a congressional election year.

The vote was 98-0.

The temporary provisions of the landmark civil rights bill -- enacted to stop systematic disenfranchisement of black voters, particularly in the South -- did not expire until next year.

But with their control of Congress at stake, Republican leaders seemed intent on extending the legislation before the August recess.

Sorry, I just find this cynical.

I've explained my reasoning before.

Fine, I can accept some sort of renewal of these provisions of the VRA. But none of these provisions is about turning the clock back four decades. Indeed, one of the defeated amendments (opposed by Democrats as a killer amendment) would have targetted voting issues as they exist TODAY, not back when I was still an infant.
A second amendment, offered by Rep. Charles Whitlow Norwood Jr. (R-Ga.), would have made every district potentially subject to the pre-clearance requirement, by including any jurisdiction where voter turnout fell below 50 percent in a presidential election. It would have eased the pre-clearance requirement for jurisdictions with voter turnout above 50 percent in three consecutive presidential elections, presuming that no court had found that discriminatory voting practices were employed. The measure failed 318 to 96.

Wow -- considering voter turnout in elections taking place TODAY was labelled as being against civil right. Applying the law to what happened in 2004 and what will happen in 2008 is not as important as correcting what happened in the election when Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater. Good grief -- would you accept the advice of a doctor who shunned MRIs and CAT scans and stuck strictly to old-fashioned x-rays because that was what he learned in medical school back in the 1960s? Of course not! Then why engage in the illogically absurd practice of using antiquated measures to determine racial discrimination -- and demand that they continue to be used for another quarter century?

One would think that John Kerry would have supported something like this, given his words on the Senate floor.

"Too many Americans in too many parts of our country still face serious obstacles when they are trying to vote here," said Kerry, who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential election. " . . .No one should pretend that reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act solves the problem of being able to vote in our own country. It doesn't. And in recent elections, we've seen too many times how outcomes change when votes that have been cast aren't counted."

While I think the last part of that statement is a line of crap, he is dead on in noting that there are obstacles to voting today. But renenwing provisions and sanctions based on elections going back up to four decades isn't the answer -- looking at current elections is.

But the VRA is such a sacred cow that even the slightest tweak to make it relevant is seen as a desecration and a return to the days of the (all Democrat) KKK lynching "uppity niggers" for trying to vote.

Too bad the Senate lacked the courage to do what was needed.

|| Greg, 08:33 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Fatwa Agains Hezbollah

When Muslim religious authorities turn against a jihadi group, it shows that perhaps the Islamic world is beginning to turn against terrorism.

One of Saudi Arabia's leading Wahhabi sheiks, Abdullah bin Jabreen has issued a strongly worded religious edict, or fatwa, declaring it unlawful to support, join or pray for Hezbollah, the Shiite militias lobbing missiles into northern Israel.

The day after Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers on July 12, Sheik Hamid al-Ali issued an informal statement titled "The Sharia position on what is going on." In it, the Kuwaiti based cleric condemned the imperial ambitions of Iran regarding Hezbollah's cross border raid.

The surprising move demonstrates that Sunni Muslim fundamentalists in the Middle East are deeply divided over whether Moslems should support Hezbollah, Iran's Shiite proxies in the war raging in Lebanon.

Unfortunately, this position is not held unanimously.

While the Gulf's ascetic Wahhabi sects, who are closer to the ethnic fighting between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, have opposed Hezbollah in its stand against Israel's forces, other Sunni fundamentalist groups, such as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, have pledged their solidarity. On Friday, the brothers will host a rally in support of Hezbollah at Cairo's most influential mosque, Al-Azhar.

So while some Muslim nations and religious leaders have condemned Hezbollah, there is still a sizeable group that supports the terrorists.

|| Greg, 07:14 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Origin Of The Pharaohs

I'll have to pass this on to my students in a few weeks.

The pharaohs of ancient Egypt owed their existence to prehistoric climate change in the Eastern Sahara, according to an exhaustive study of archaeological data that bolsters this theory.

Starting at about 8500 B.C., researchers say, broad swaths of what are now Egypt, Chad, Libya, and Sudan experienced a "sudden onset of humid conditions."

For centuries the region supported savannahs full of wildlife, lush acacia forests, and areas so swampy they were uninhabitable.

During this time the prehistoric peoples of the Eastern Sahara followed the rains to keep pace with the most hospitable ecosystems.

But around 5300 B.C. this climate-driven environmental abundance started to decline, and most humans began leaving the increasingly arid region.

"Around 5,500 to 6,000 years ago the Egyptian Sahara became so dry that nobody could survive there," said Stefan Kröpelin, a geoarchaeologist at the University of Cologne in Germany and study co-author.

Without rain, rivers, or the ephemeral desert streams known as waddis, vegetation became sparse, and people had to leave the desert or die, Kröpelin says.

Members of this skilled human population settled near the Nile River, giving rise to the first pharaonic cultures in Egypt

This does help to explain the Neolithic Revolution that occurred around this time, as people began the transition to an agricultural society. The concentration of human beings in one region resulted in th formation of cities, specialization of labor -- and civilization.

|| Greg, 05:57 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Rumsfeld -- For the Sake Of A Friend

Donald Rumsfeld is known for being loyal to those he has served under, served over, and served with. One such loyalty dates back some five decades, and is being played out today -- on behalf of a friend who went missing after being shot down on a spy mission over China in the 1950s.

HIS reputation is one of a hawkish warmonger with a crusty demeanour and a heart of steel. But Donald Rumsfeld, it seems, has a little-known softer side.

Five decades after one of his US Navy friends was shot down over China during a Cold War spy mission, the US Defence Secretary is still waging a quiet campaign to win closure for the airman's widow. In the finest military tradition, he has vowed that Lieutenant James B Deane will not be left behind.

Leaving his normally hard-line views on communist China to one side, he has persuaded General Guo Boxiong, vice-chairman of China's Central Military Commission, to hand over once-secret papers divulging information previously unknown to the US regarding the fate of the young pilot.

Gen Boxiong ranks second only to China's president, Chairman Hu Jintao.

It was unclear yesterday exactly how much light the documents - which were handed over during a meeting at the Pentagon on Tuesday - shed on what happened to Lt Deane or whether he may even still be alive.

Lt. Deane was listed as presumed dead in 1057 -- only four bodies were recovered of the 16 crewmen who were aboart the plane. One declassified report indicates there may have been two prisoners -- including one who fit Deane's description.

Rumsfeld has been involved in the effort to find out more about his old friend since 1992, when he was in the business sector. His efforts have been quiet -- but intense.

"After her husband's shoot-down, my mother and Mr Rumsfeld stayed in touch, mostly through Christmas cards. When my mother began her search in 1992, Mr Rumsfeld was a business executive in Chicago. She addressed her letters to him as Rummy. He wrote back to Bo Bo, her college nickname," she explained.

He obtained letters to the Chinese government from former US president Gerald Ford, whom he served as a defence secretary, and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, which called on Beijing to assist in unearthing the truth. His quest was resurrected after he joined the Bush administration as Defence Secretary.

May this act of loyalty and friendship be rewarded with some concrete answers about the fate of this American fighting man who gave his life for his country during the Cold War.

|| Greg, 05:41 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Black Perps, White Vic. Never Mind -- No Hate Crime.

After all, just because one of the criminals admits that the victim was chosen because he was "a goofy-looking white boy" doesn't make it a crime based upon bias.

Prosecutors on Wednesday stood by their contention that the three teens who allegedly beat and robbed a 14-year-old Beverly boy won't be charged with a hate crime -- even though one of the trio told police they picked the boy because he was "a goofy-looking white boy."

They instead charged the three black teens with aggravated battery and robbery, both felonies. Bond was set Wednesday at $300,000 for Micha Eatman, 17, and two 16-year-olds were in juvenile detention.

Meanwhile the condition of the victim, Ryan Rusch, was upgraded from critical to serious.

Chicago Police said after the incident Sunday they were investigating it as a robbery. But Tuesday, in light of the suspect's statement in court, the case was assigned to the department's civil rights section.

Now tell me -- what would happen anywhere in this country if three white kids beat a black kid into a coma and one of them made a public statement that they picked the victim because he was a "goofy-looking black kid"? Hate-crime charges would be filed in an instance, and every self-aggrandizing member of th e"civil rights leadership" would be on the scene, demanding government action and a cut for their organization.

Now as I've said often enough in the past, I don't believe in hate-crime laws. I don't think they can ever be applied in a neutral fashion. This case proves my point.

|| Greg, 05:18 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 19, 2006

Proof That Pat Buchanan Has Jumped The Shark

What kind of idiot makes this statement about the Israeli war of self-defense in Lebanon?

It is immoral, it is un-Christian, it is un-American...

Israel is not a Christian nation, Pat. Nor is it America, where one can safely sit and play Sunday evening quarterback, questioning policy decisions without random missle and terrorist attacks on a daily basis. As a result, virtually any action taken against terrorists by Israel is undeniably moral.

But then again, Pat Buchanan would probably have found something to criticize when the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto rose up against their Nazi captors.

UPDATE: I didn't realize that the moronic moral midget had turned around and made a column out of the inane comment -- and complain about the casualties that immoral Allied forces inflicted upon the innocent German people at the same time. Sieg heil, Herr Buchanan -- you are this week's winner of the Ezra Pound Award for Political Commentary.

|| Greg, 07:53 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (21) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Jefferson Probe Can Continue

Proving once again that the law applies to corrupt Democrat elected officials, a federal judge has permitted the FBI to continue investigating Louisian Rep William Jefferson (D-$90K in the Icebox).

A federal judge said Wednesday that investigators could examine documents seized in a search of Rep. William Jefferson's office, denying a request to delay the bribery probe while the Louisiana Democrat appeals the judge's earlier ruling that the search was legal.

Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan said granting the delay "would harm the public's interest in a prompt and final outcome of the government's investigation of serious crimes involving a sitting United States congressman running for re-election in November."

Last week, Hogan rejected arguments by Jefferson and House leaders in both parties that the May 20-21 search of Jefferson's congressional office violated the Constitution's protections against intimidation of elected officials.

For 16 months, investigators have been looking into whether the congressman promoted the sale of telecommunications equipment and services in exchange for stock and cash.

Unfortunately, certain executive branch officials are blocking the probe for teh time being.

At issue is whether a review of the seized documents can begin by an FBI "filter team" unconnected to the prosecution team looking into bribery allegations. Jefferson contends no one in the executive branch of government should examine the documents until the question of returning the material to Jefferson is resolved on appeal.

Get otu of the way, Alberto -- let the G-Men get teh goods on this crook.

|| Greg, 04:05 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

"Ghetto Tax"?


Talk about misleading terms -- there is no such thing as a "ghetto tax". There is, however, a real issue of higher costs to life in poverty, or in certain areas of a city, county, state, or country.

But let's look at the NY Times scare story.

Drivers from low-income neighborhoods of New York, Hartford and Baltimore, insuring identical cars and with the same driving records as those from middle-class neighborhoods, paid $400 more on average for a year’s insurance.

Gee -- my insurance would be $200 less a year if I lived on the other side of the 100-yard wide body of water separating Harris County and Galveston County -- because Harris County has a higher rate of auto claims than Galveston County.

The poor are also the main customers for appliances and furniture at “rent to own� stores, where payments are stretched out at very high interest rates; in Wisconsin, a $200 television can end up costing $700.

Because of the choice to buy new rather than used items -- and the resulting cost associated with going to the rent-to-own stores. That is simply bad economic decision-making.

But I will agree, in part, with the proposals made by the Brookings Institution -- though not with the alarmist cries of these liberals about the unfairness of it all.

Part of the problem, the study found, is a discrepancy between the poor and the middle class in consumer skills and mobility: people who comparison-shop, especially on the Internet, tend to pay hundreds less for the identical car than those who walk onto a city lot and buy.

But the disparities can be reduced, the report said, not only by consumer education but also by some combination of incentives to lure banks and stores into poor neighborhoods and tighter regulation on things like the fees of storefront lenders.

And those considerations are real. When I lived in St. Louis 20 years ago, I watched one neighborhood blossom after it got a major supermarket plunked down in the middle of it. Rather than shopping at the corner gas station or the little mom & pop store on the corner, the people in the neighborhood tended to shop at the bigger store. They also got jobs in the enighborhood. The extra cash began tob e saved, banks came into the area, and you saw growth.

But the notion of a "ghetto tax", with its demeaning implications and hints of racism in policy choices, is wrong. What you are dealing with is the natural working of the capitalist system.

|| Greg, 03:44 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 18, 2006

REPOST: The Enemies Of All Mankind

In light of the current situation in the Middle East, I feel like I should bring this piece back for consideration.

Heres a neat idea for dealing with Osama and every other terrorist on the planet. They are hostis humani generis -- the enemies of all mankind.

TO UNDERSTAND THE POTENTIAL OF DEFINING TERRORISM as a species of piracy, consider the words of the 16th-century jurist Alberico Gentili's De jure belli: "Pirates are common enemies, and they are attacked with impunity by all, because they are without the pale of the law. They are scorners of the law of nations; hence they find no protection in that law." Gentili, and many people who came after him, recognized piracy as a threat, not merely to the state but to the idea of statehood itself. All states were equally obligated to stamp out this menace, whether or not they had been a victim of piracy. This was codified explicitly in the 1856 Declaration of Paris, and it has been reiterated as a guiding principle of piracy law ever since. Ironically, it is the very effectiveness of this criminalization that has marginalized piracy and made it seem an arcane and almost romantic offense. Pirates no longer terrorize the seas because a concerted effort among the European states in the 19th century almost eradicated them. It is just such a concerted effort that all states must now undertake against terrorists, until the crime of terrorism becomes as remote and obsolete as piracy.

What would be the impact of classifying terrorism along with piracy?

If the war on terror becomes akin to war against the pirates, however, the situation would change. First, the crime of terrorism would be defined and proscribed internationally, and terrorists would be properly understood as enemies of all states. This legal status carries significant advantages, chief among them the possibility of universal jurisdiction. Terrorists, as hostis humani generis, could be captured wherever they were found, by anyone who found them. Pirates are currently the only form of criminals subject to this special jurisdiction.

Second, this definition would deter states from harboring terrorists on the grounds that they are "freedom fighters" by providing an objective distinction in law between legitimate insurgency and outright terrorism. This same objective definition could, conversely, also deter states from cracking down on political dissidents as "terrorists," as both Russia and China have done against their dissidents.

Recall the U.N. definition of piracy as acts of "depredation [committed] for private ends." Just as international piracy is viewed as transcending domestic criminal law, so too must the crime of international terrorism be defined as distinct from domestic homicide or, alternately, revolutionary activities. If a group directs its attacks on military or civilian targets within its own state, it may still fall within domestic criminal law. Yet once it directs those attacks on property or civilians belonging to another state, it exceeds both domestic law and the traditional right of self-determination, and becomes akin to a pirate band.

Third, and perhaps most important, nations that now balk at assisting the United States in the war on terror might have fewer reservations if terrorism were defined as an international crime that could be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court.

I encourage you to read the article by Douglas R. Burgess Jr., The Dread Pirate Bin Laden. It may come out of the Legal Affairs, but it is incredibly approachable.

|| Greg, 10:40 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

(Another) Hezbollah Crime Against Humanity

Using civilians as human shields.

The IDF has found that Hizbullah is preventing civilians from leaving villages in southern Lebanon. Roadblocks have been set up outside some of the villages to prevent residents from leaving, while in other villages Hizbullah is preventing UN representatives from entering, who are trying to help residents leave. In two villages, exchanges of fire between residents and Hizbullah have broken out.

But Israel is, of course, the bad guy -- the French, Russians, and Iranians tell us so.

|| Greg, 09:56 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Problem Of The “Religious Left”

Chuck Colson shares this anecdote about the Spiritual Activism Conference which was held recently in Washington, DC. It illustrates the problem that the political Left in this country will always have trying to speak the language of faith – because there is a dearth of faith among the Religious Left.

This conflict is not about political or social divisions. It’s about authority—specifically, whether or not Christians are willing to acknowledge that the Bible is our authority.

Tony Campolo certainly recognized this. Though Tony and I disagree on lots of things, I really like Tony. He’s honest, and he loves the Bible. He tried to explain at this conference the necessity of following Scripture. But one participant retorted, “I thought this was a spiritual progressives’ conference. I don’t want to play the game of ‘the Bible says this or that,’ or that we get validation from something other than ourselves.”

And therein lies the problem. Rather than talk about God and the spiritual imperatives of his divinely revealed word, the quoted participant effectively stated (in the words of Toby Keith) “I want to talk about ME.” Dare I suggest that such a theological stance is not religious faith, but is instead spiritual narcissism.

|| Greg, 08:56 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Paid For How?

A new form of socialism has come to San Francisco. And with it comes mendacity from the local press.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to make the city the nation's first to provide all residents with health care, approving a plan that would give adults access to medical services regardless of their immigration or employment status.

Financed by local government, mandatory contributions from employers and income-adjusted premiums, the universal care plan would cover the cost of everything from checkups, prescription drugs and X-rays to ambulance rides, blood tests and operations.

Let’s clarify this for you. The new program will be paid for by “local government” (read that “current tax dollars”), “mandatory contributions from employers” (read that “a new tax on employers”) and “income adjusted premiums” (read that “a new income tax on workers”).

Why not come right out and call it what it is -- tax-funded health care?

|| Greg, 08:55 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Iran Speaks For Hezbollah

Which certainly indicates to me that Hezbollah acts on behalf of Iran.

Iran's parliament speaker warned Tuesday that no part of Israel is safe during Hizbullah's battle with Lebanon - a statement made despite Iran's claim that it is not aiding the guerrillas in their fight.

Speaking to thousands of anti-Israel demonstrators in Palestine Square, Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel told Israelis: "The towns you have built in northern Palestine (Israel) are within the range of the brave Lebanese children. No part of Israel will be safe."

Haddad Adel is not among the most influential officials in Iran. Nevertheless, his comments call into question the Teheran government's official position that it is not involved in the conflict between Israel and Hizbullah in Lebanon.

After all, how would he know if there was not a connection?

|| Greg, 08:53 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Let The Smiting Continue

This letter was posted over at American Thinker. I believe the author makes a very important point about the casualties inflicted on the respective sides in Israel's war of self-defense and survival.

In WW II, the total German dead were 10.82% of the population, and the much lower Japanese rate was 3.61%. But the UK lost 0.94% and the USA 0.32%. Were the Allied defenders of freedom “dis-proportionate”?

What moral or military or historical logic suggests to Chirac and Putin that Israel is “disproportionate”? Since when is the aggressor entitled to suffer only the same losses as the defender ? Did De Gaulle or Stalin make that complaint in, or after, WW II ?

A Just War is not for revenge or reprisal, but to eliminate a deadly threat. The Fanatical Jihadi Fringe is such a threat, and for other Arabs and Muslims as well. The “proportionate” casualties they take are whatever it takes to conquer them thoroughly, and remove their aggressive capacity for good.

Our hopes and prayers are with the “Armed Democrats” of the IDF, on land, sea and air, on whose courage, determination, and skills not only the people of Israel depend, but all those who are, or who seek to be, truly free, including the majority in Lebanon.

Yours etc,

Tom Carew

Israel has a right to exist, safe from attack by barbarians beyond its borders. God and the international community (the UN) have both confirmed Israel's title to the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

Let the smiting continue.

|| Greg, 08:51 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Cohen To Israel -- Just Lay Back And Enjoy It

How else can you describe this column calling upon Israel to "hunker down" and live with ongoing terrorist assaults? Rather than engage in self defense, Cohen wants Israel to play the passive victim -- much like moral midgets used to suggest women do in case of sexual assault.

I mean, consider this bit of finely crafted moral reasoning.

There is no point in condemning Hezbollah. Zealots are not amenable to reason. And there's not much point, either, in condemning Hamas. It is a fetid, anti-Semitic outfit whose organizing principle is hatred of Israel. There is, though, a point in cautioning Israel to exercise restraint -- not for the sake of its enemies but for itself. Whatever happens, Israel must not use its military might to win back what it has already chosen to lose: the buffer zone in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip itself.

Yeah, you read that right -- don't condemn the aggressors, because they are aggressive. Blame the victim for fighting back!

And while Cohen concedes that the current conflict illustrates that those who opposed the Israeli pull-back from Gaza and south Lebanon -- which was supposed to help bring "peace in our time" -- were absolutely correct in their prediction that it would embolden Israel's enemy, you will not guess what Cohen's solution is.

All that the critics warned has come true. But worse than what is happening now would be a retaking of those territories. That would put Israel smack back to where it was, subjugating a restless, angry population and having the world look on as it committed the inevitable sins of an occupying power. The smart choice is to pull back to defensible -- but hardly impervious -- borders. That includes getting out of most of the West Bank -- and waiting (and hoping) that history will get distracted and move on to something else. This will take some time, and in the meantime terrorism and rocket attacks will continue.


Anyone with so much as an ounce of moral decency would never make such a suggestion. But then again, Cohen's starting premise makes it clear that he is severely lacking in that department -- for he begins with the premise that "Israel itself is a mistake."

And no doubt Richard Cohen believes that his female family members and friends, after enjoying their rape, should offer their attacker a blow job as well -- because after all, it was a mistake for them to even take their vagina into that part of town.

For that is the posture he suggests for Israel -- despite the fact that there has been a continuous Jewish presence between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan for at least 3000 years -- twice as long as there has been either an Arab or Muslim presence.

Perhaps it is time for the civilized world to quit telling the Jews to get off the Arab street, and instead act to ensure that the Arab are scoured from the Jewish street.

UPDATE: Over at American Thinker, James Lewis argues that Cohen should be fired for the position he takes in this morally reprehensible column.

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|| Greg, 06:56 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hillary Gets One Right

I don't say that often, but I have to applaud Senator Hillary Clinton on her stance regarding Israel's war of self-defense and survival.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday that she supported “whatever steps are necessary” to defend Israel against Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria in the military conflict in the Middle East.

Addressing a crowd of several thousand in Midtown at an impassioned rally for Israel, she said America must show “solidarity and support” for Israel in the face of the “unwarranted, unprovoked” seizure of three Israeli soldiers by members of Hamas and Hezbollah, which she described as among “the new totalitarians of the 21st century.”

“We will stand with Israel because Israel is standing for American values as well as Israeli ones,” said Mrs. Clinton, who joined two dozen political and religious leaders on a stage a few blocks from the United Nations headquarters on the East Side.

(Would that the last sentence read "a few blocks from the former headquarters of the defunct United Nations.")

American values -- like a support for (small d) democratic values and freedom, as well as opposition to terrorism. American values not shared by those who are calling for Israel to stand down and (implicitly) wait to be destroyed by a hoard of seventh-century barbarians.

And she has more to say.

Bringing the threat home, she compared Israel’s military response, which has included heavy bombardment of Lebanon, to a theoretical response by the United States if it faced attacks from neighboring countries. “I want us here in New York to imagine, if extremist terrorists were launching rocket attacks across the Mexican or Canadian border, would we stand by or would we defend America against these attacks from extremists?” she said to roars of approval.

Damn straight, Senator. Keep this rhetoric up and I could almost develop a neutral attitude towards you and your husband.

I'm curious -- does this signal support for taking on the criminals flowing across our border daily, trafficking in human beings and narcotics? Does it signal a support for the American lawmen who face violence at the hands of the criminals?

Not, mind you, that the New York Times can let a news story make it into print without an editorial comment thrown in.

Mrs. Clinton and the other speakers focused almost exclusively on Israel’s right to act militarily and unilaterally, and the speeches were fiery and resolute, with little mention of civilians in Lebanon and Gaza who have been injured in the fighting.

What the editors of the Times don't realize is that if you support terrorists and harbor terrorists you risk dying with the terrorists -- and your blood is on your own hands. (Perhaps they shoudlc onsider that before tehy publish teh next national security secret on the front page.)

Well said, Madam Senator.

|| Greg, 06:19 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

I Heard You Missed Me -- I'm Back!

Something knocked all of us Munuvians (except the Jawas, with their shiny new server) off the net for a while today -- from like 9:00 AM CDT until 4:00 PM CDT.

As you can see, we are back.

I'll post shortly, after I get back from picking up groceries.

UPDATE: Well, we had a second outage, but are back again.

|| Greg, 03:41 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 17, 2006

Jew-Hatred In Islam -- The Basis For Jihadi Terrorism

Let there be no mistake -- Islam is a religion built upon Jew-hatred. Israel must therefore act to protect herself from the jihadis who seek to destroy her.

And this Jew-hatred is implicit in the teachings of Islam. After all, the Islamic equivalent of the anti-Christ is held to be a Jew -- and the great apocalyptic battle in Islam is between Muslims and Jews.

Georges Vajda —in a seminal 1937 essay [1] (long before the establishment of the State of Israel)—provides an overall assessment of the portrayal of the Jews in the hadith collections (the putative words and deeds of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, as recorded by pious transmitters), complemented by Koranic verses, and observations from the earliest Muslim biographies [or “sira”] of Muhammad.

Vajda’s research demonstrates how Muslim eschatology emphasizes the Jews’ supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjāl—the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ—and as per another tradition, the Dajjāl is in fact Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions state that the Dajjāl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjāl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered— everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree. Thus, according to a canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985), if a Jew seeks refuge under a tree or a stone, these objects will be able to speak to tell a Muslim: “There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!”

As Vajda observes,

Not only are the Jews vanquished in the eschatological war, but they will serve as ransom for the Muslims in the fires of hell. The sins of certain Muslims will weigh on them like mountains, but on the day of resurrection, these sins will be lifted and laid upon the Jews.

And let's not forget that the name of Hezbollah comes straight from the Koran -- and is applied to those who kill Jews in the name of Allah.

Let us consider the relationship of these Koranic teachings to the two dominant terrorist groups among the Palestinians -- those Israel is fighting today -- Hamas and Hezbollah.

Hizbollah and Hamas have constructed core ideologies based upon this Islamic theology of Jew hatred, which one can glean readily from their foundational documents, and subsequent pronouncements, made ad nauseum. Hamas further demonstrates openly its adherence to a central motif of Jew-hatred in Muslim eschatology—Article 7 of the Hamas Charter concludes with a verbatim reiteration of the apocalyptic hadith alluded to earlier:

“The Last Hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: `Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him’; but the tree Gharkad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985).

Both jihadist terror organizations believe they can now take advantage of their political gains in Lebanon (Hizbollah), and the Palestinian controlled areas of Gaza and the West Bank (Hamas), and succeed in their goal to destroy Israel—motivated by a primordial hatred of Jews, sanctioned in Muslim theology and eschatology.

Hizbollah’s name, “The Party of Allah” derives from Koran 5:56:

“And whoever takes Allah and His messenger and those who believe for a guardian, then surely the party of Allah are they that shall be triumphant.”

In a public statement issued February 15, 1986, Hizbollah conceived of itself as a “nation” linked to Muslims worldwide by “…a strong ideological and political bond, namely Islam.” Expressed in the political language of the Koran, Hizbollah’s ideology encompasses, triumphally (as per the slogan adorning the party emblem, “The Party of Allah is Sure to Triumph”) at least three major objectives: transforming Lebanon into a Shari’a state; destroying Israel; establishing regional, followed by international Islamic hegemony, i.e., bringing the region, then the world under Shari’a law.

In other words, this conflict is not about land -- it is about the extermination of Jews and the imposition of the barbaric Shari’a law on an unwilling world. The destruction of the Jewish people therefore lies at the heart of the motivation of the terrorists, and virtually any move made against them is a valid defensive action on behalf of the state of Israel and the Jewish people. To oppose such defensive activity is therefore to actively cooperate in this attempted genocide, morlly no different than coopertion with the Nazi Final Solution.

|| Greg, 02:53 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (8) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Big Bucks Lefty-Liberal Dem Donors Seek Secrecy

But I thought the left insisted that big-money donations from wealthy individuals was a source of corruption to the political process, and that secrecy in government and politics was antithetical to "the public's right to know."

I guess that doesn't apply when the donors and recipients are left-wingers -- but then the Left has never believed it should play by the rules it seeks to impose on its opponents.

An alliance of nearly a hundred of the nation's wealthiest donors is roiling Democratic political circles, directing more than $50 million in the past nine months to liberal think tanks and advocacy groups in what organizers say is the first installment of a long-term campaign to compete more aggressively against conservatives.

A year after its founding, Democracy Alliance has followed up on its pledge to become a major power in the liberal movement. It has lavished millions on groups that have been willing to submit to its extensive screening process and its demands for secrecy.

These include the Center for American Progress, a think tank with an unabashed partisan edge, as well as Media Matters for America, which tracks what it sees as conservative bias in the news media. Several alliance donors are negotiating a major investment in Air America, a liberal talk-radio network.

But the large checks and demanding style wielded by Democracy Alliance organizers in recent months have caused unease among Washington's community of Democratic-linked organizations. The alliance has required organizations that receive its endorsement to sign agreements shielding the identity of donors. Public interest groups said the alliance represents a large source of undisclosed and unaccountable political influence.

And then there is this aspect of the super-secret group.

To become a "partner," as the members are referred to internally, requires a $25,000 entry fee and annual dues of $30,000 to cover alliance operations as well as some of its contributions to start-up liberal groups. Beyond this, partners also agree to spend at least $200,000 annually on organizations that have been endorsed by the alliance. Essentially, the alliance serves as an accreditation agency for political advocacy groups.

This accreditation process is the root of Democracy Alliance's influence. If a group does not receive the alliance's blessing, dozens of the nation's wealthiest political contributors as a practical matter become off-limits for fundraising purposes.

Ideological screening and litmus tests as a condition for receiving donations. Deviation from the ideology is the kiss of death.

Yet somehow, the groups funded claim to be non-partisan, despite the stated objective of the Democracy Alliance to fund groups dedicated to electing Democrats.

Likewise, a Democracy Alliance blessing effectively jump-started Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). It bills itself as a nonpartisan watchdog group committed to targeting "government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests." Alliance officials see CREW as a possible counterweight to conservative-leaning Judicial Watch, which filed numerous lawsuits against Clinton administration officials in the 1990s. A CREW spokesman declined to comment.

But hold it -- isn't the Democracy Alliance, a consortium of millionaire and billionaire ideologues, a classic example of a special interest group? Why don't you start by investigating yourself?

Let's apply the Left's own standards to these donations -- they are clearly a sign of corrupt bargains with special interests seeking to impose their own extreme ideology to the detriment of the American people. After all, these are coordinated donations to Left-wing organizations by millionaires and billionaires -- and we all know that these super-rich individuals must be evilevilevil, because that is what the Left tells us is the case.

But then again, what Leftist activities and proposals are NOT harmful to America?

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|| Greg, 09:17 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Voting With His Feet

Former Vice President Dan Quayle made it clear what he thought of the tacky anti-Americanism of has-been rocker John Cougar Mellencamp.

Dan Quayle took time out from participating in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Stateline, Nev., on Friday to attend John Mellencamp's concert only to run into a political statement.

He then made a statement of his own by walking out during Mellencamp's rendition of ``Walk Tall.'' Before launching into the song, Mellencamp told the Harveys casino crowd, in effect, that it was dedicated to everyone hurt by policies of the current Bush administration.

Quayle, who served as vice president for President Bush's father in 1989-93 walked out of the venue before Mellencamp finished the song.

Quayle said through a publicist: ``Well, I think Mellencamp's performance was not very good to begin with, and the comment put it over the top.''

Mellencamp couldn't be reached for comment.

More of us need to make such statements when performers make such statements.

After all, they have a First Amendment right to speak -- but no right to an audience.

|| Greg, 07:58 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An Apt Comparison

While I disagree with the hand-wringing in this column, I can't help but be struck by this little nugget of moral clarity about the nature of jihadi terrorists.

What can be seen time and again on various sites is that Islam, a great religion, has as some of its most devoted followers people whose fantasy is the mass murder of innocents -- women, children, non-combatants. I can't think of any other ideology or religion whose believers -- even the most perverted -- consider themselves martyrs for committing suicide in order to kill random shoppers or commuters. Japan's notorious kamikaze pilots in the Second World War targeted battleships, which is not to defend their actions, but simply to note the huge moral difference between targeting a battleship and a subway car.

And yet that is precisely the difference. In war, military forces attack military forces. As such, the kamikaze attacks are justifiable, even if they repulse Westerners as antithetical to our values. But the jihadis are much more interested in causing terror through mass casualties -- and generally target cvilians, not soldiers, because they are an easier target to reach and kill.

Those who seek to draw a moral equivalence between soldiers seeking to kill soldiers (and, unfortunately, unintended civilian victims) and terrorists looking to kill civilians have lost their moral compass.

|| Greg, 07:53 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Straight-Forward Truth

I wish that diplomatic niceties allowed President Bush to make such a statement publicly, rather than confining it to a private conversation.

President Bush cursed Hezbollah's attacks against Israel in private conversations with foreign leaders Monday that were picked up by a microphone.

Bush expressed his frustration with the United Nations and his disgust with the militant Islamic group and its backers in Syria as he talked to British Prime Minister Tony Blair during the closing lunch at the Group of Eight summit.

"See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this (expletive) and it's over," Bush told Blair as he chewed on a buttered roll.

He told Blair he felt like telling U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who visited the gathered leaders "to get on the phone with (Syrian President Bashar) Assad, make something happen."

That will not, of course happen. Diplomacy is a formal dance with specific rules of etiquette. And the UN, rife with anti-Semitism for many years, will keep on trying to condemn Israel rather than the terrorists who have triggered the crisis in the Middle East.

Hube points us to the video.

MORE AT Michelle Malkin, Fullosseous Flap's Dental Blog.

|| Greg, 07:43 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Arab Leaders Rebuke Hezbollah

This is unusual

In the face of the fierce Israeli assault on Hezbollah -- the Party of Allah -- in Lebanon, A number of Arab governments have condemned. . . Hezbollah.

With the battle between Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah raging, key Arab governments have taken the rare step of blaming Hezbollah, underscoring in part their growing fear of influence by the group’s main sponsor, Iran.

Saudi Arabia, with Jordan, Egypt and several Persian Gulf states, chastised Hezbollah for “unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts” at an emergency Arab League summit meeting in Cairo on Saturday.

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said of Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel, “These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we cannot simply accept them.” Prince Faisal spoke at the closed-door meeting but his words were reported to journalists by other delegates.

The meeting ended with participants asserting that the Middle East peace process had failed and requesting help from the United Nations Security Council.

Such a condemnation is virtually unprecedented. Israel is always accused of being the bad actor by Arab nations. Is this a tactical move by these Arab leaders, or are we seeing a strategic shift in the Middle East -- one in which Iran, not Israel, is seen as the greater threat to regional stability?

|| Greg, 07:30 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watcher's Council Announcements

This week I have three bits of information for you regarding the Watcher's Council.

First, the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Bleeding Iraq by Right Wing Nut House, and Singing Out of the Flock. by Iraq the Model. You can go here for the full results of the vote.

Second, The Watcher is making his regular offer of link whorage for those interested in submitting a post for consideration in the Non-Council category. Details here.

Third, Dr. Sanity is leaving the Council due to time constraints (she is writing a book). That leaves us with an open seat. Information on how to apply for that seat can be found here.

|| Greg, 07:12 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Reminder Of Hezbollah's Relations With America

Thanks to Steven Sanders of American Thinker for the reminder.

Here’s an interesting question in light of current world events, “What terrorist organization was responsible for the most number of American deaths prior to the 9/11 attacks?” A tough question and the answer might surprise you.

J. Cofer Black, the U.S Department of State Coordinator for Counterterrorism from 2002-2004, gives the answer. He was at a press conference in 2004 when asked by an A.P. reporter about the greatest international terror threat. His answer

Thank you very much. The answer to your question is in particular from the American perspective, if I can be allowed that. Before 9/11 the terrorist group that had killed more Americans actually was Hezbollah and with the catastrophic attacks of 9/11 Al-Qaeda moved up in that deplorable category as having killed more Americans.

Lest we forget, the folks fought by the Israelis today are the same folks who gave us 241 dead Marines in Beirut and who also killed 63 destroying our embassy there in 1983. They killed 2 U.S. servicemen in another attack on the embassy there in 1984. This is the same Hezbollah that killed Colonel William Higgins and CIA Station Chief William Buckley and other Americans in Lebanon during the 1980s, and who kidnapped many more. And these are the same folks who hijacked TWA flight 847 in 1985, and dumped Navy diver Robert Stetham's dead body on the airport runway.

There is only one proper position for American patriots to take on Israel's actions against Hezbollah today -- unequivocal support as it seeks to root out and destroy the terrorists of the "Party of Allah".

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT: Mudville Gazette, Conservative Cat, Mark My Words, Pursuing Holiness, Third World County, Is It Just Me?, Random Yak

|| Greg, 12:14 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (7) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 16, 2006

Only The French Soccer Team?

I would have figured it was ALL of the French.

Lance Armstrong renewed his verbal attack on the French, bashing their World Cup team during an American awards show and using a derogatory word to describe the players.

"All their players (France) tested positive ... for being a** holes," the seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong was quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Daily News on Friday.

The French World Cup team immediately offered their unconditional surrender to Armstrong.

|| Greg, 05:59 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Lt. Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller Dies

A sad loss of a decent man.

Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller, the unassuming billionaire who last year abandoned a race for Arkansas governor a post once held by his father died Sunday after unsuccessful treatments for a blood disorder, his office said. He was 57.

Rockefeller died Sunday morning at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with his family present, said Steve Brawner, the lieutenant governor's spokesman.

Bone marrow transplants Oct. 7 and March 29 at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center failed to cure an unclassified myeloproliferative disorder. He returned to Arkansas on July 8 and immediately entered the hospital. The next day, Rockefeller notified Gov. Mike Huckabee that he could not continue his duties, at least temporarily.

May those who knew and loved him be comforted in this time of loss.

|| Greg, 05:34 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

In Defense Of Israel

Common sense used to prevail on editorial pages in this country. Not so today, when so many newspapers have come out against israel's war of self-defense against Hezbollah and the Lebanese government that has given these jihadi terrorists a safe haven from which to attack Israel.

One editorial page on which common sense does still prevail, though, is that of the Las Vega Review-Journal.

On June 25, Hamas guerrillas tunnelled across the border into Israel, killed Israeli soldiers, kidnapped Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, and brought him into Gaza. Then, this week, the Shia terrorist group Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers near the Lebanese border and brought them back into Lebanon.

Israel has responded to these provocations militarily, as any sovereign nation would. And who is condemned for breaking the peace? Why, Israel, of course.

Yeah, folks seem to forget that. Israel didn't go to war in a vacuum. What would we do if Mexico or Canada were providing shelter for al-Qaeda to attack the United States? We all know that the response would be unlikely to involve polite diplomatic notes. Why shouldn't the Israelis respond appropriately to the acts of war committed against it?

At a triumphant news conference Wednesday, Hezbollah's leader, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, said his group would not bow to pressure from the Lebanese government or the world community to release his two Israeli hostages, unless Israel agrees to a prisoner exchange.

"What do they want us to do? Hand over the soldiers and apologize?" he asked. "What kind of world are they living in?"

The kind of world we are living in, is one in which kidnappers hand over their hostages ... and are sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Damn straight -- assuming the kidnappers don't end up dead on the floor during a rescue operation conducted by highly-trained professionals. A pity that the Mossad couldn't have punched Nasrallah's ticket right during the press conference, just to make it clear exactly what civilized folks expect to happen to such scum.

Failing that, such provocations can lead to war, an endeavor which never seems to accomplish much for the Arab fans of endless war, except to allow them to beat their chests, wail over their dead and play "victim" some more.

And it has led to another war that will visit endless destruction upon Arabs -- and which will once again be painted as being all the fault of big bad Israel.

Like a sleeping dog that seeks only peace, Israel has backed away so as to give no offense, until there is no further room to retreat. This week, a Hezbollah missile -- possibly manufactured in Iran -- hit Haifa, on the seacoast. Israel now has every right to do whatever proves necessary to stop her tormentors.

Nor have they any remaining right to complain about her bite.

And therein lies a difference. Israel has been engaged in targetted strikes with legitimate military objectives. Hezollah has flung rockets in the direction of israel, not terribly concerned about what it hits. While both sides have caused civilian casualties, there is a difference -- those caused by Israel have been in spite of its best efforts to avoid them, while those caused by Hezbollah have been the objective of the attacks. That is an important difference.

It is now clear what the Arabs mean by "occupied territories" -- to anyone who didn't get it, long ago. If the population of Israel were reduced to 10, and those 10 Jews were living on a houseboat moored in Haifa harbor, the Arabs would bemoan their ongoing victimization by the Zionists, and demand that the Israelis "withdraw from this occupied houseboat immediately."

And would no doubt be supported by the international community, which fears provoking followers of the "Religion of Blow Yourself To Pieces To Killl Infidels".

The world has been patient with such murderous lunacy long enough. Maybe it's time to condemn someone new, for a change.

I agree whole-heartedly -- but don't expect to see anything of the kind.

|| Greg, 01:44 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Demolishing The Arguments Against Immigration Law Enforcement

Vin Suprynowicz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal is a libertarian, and admits that on principle he supports open borders -- but only once teh welfare state is eliminated and replaced with a true system of free enterprise capitalism. Absent that, he argues that our nation's immigration laws should be vigorously enforced.

We can't even get the federal government to stop enforcing their absurd marijuana laws when we so direct them by majority vote. So, if they "have to enforce all the laws," why in hell won't they enforce sensible immigration laws, currently on the books, that have overwhelming public support?

In support of that position, Vin takes on the standard "pragmatic" arguments against even trying to enforce those laws.

The "pragmatic" objections are pretty lame.

"Who would replace them in the work force?"

All the regular work -- and lots more -- got done when millions of boys went into the armed services on short notice in 1941. If we need more workers, stop sending out "disability" checks to drunks. When they get hungry, they'll work.

"But once we give them amnesty, they'll pay more in taxes than they cost us."

Actually, under the proposed Senate amnesty, illegals could cost us billions more. Remember, the reason 85 percent of Mexicans currently in this country are here illegally is because most don't have the education or job skills to beat out would-be immigrants from Asia, Africa, or Europe in any fair contest for high-paid jobs, in the first place.

"Actually, the reverse is true: The federal government will give billions to the illegal aliens," writes author Bradley Steffens and Las Vegas-based certified financial adviser and tax preparer Scot Fairchild. Nothing in the Senate amnesty legislation "prevents illegal aliens from qualifying for the earned income credit. All a family of four has to do is file a tax return showing earnings lower than $37,263 (tax year 2005) and it will be eligible for the EIC. The credit can be up to $4,400 (tax year 2005) per family. A family filing five years of back taxes could receive a check from the government for $22,000. Multiply that by the estimated 3 million illegal alien families, and the government could pay out $66 billion in earned income credits, roughly $660 for each of America's 100 million taxpayers."

What's that? "But it's not feasible to round up and deport millions of illegal aliens"?

Wrong. Former Managing Editor John Dillin recalled in the July 6 Christian Science Monitor how "Fifty-three years ago, when newly elected Dwight Eisenhower moved into the White House, America's southern frontier was as porous as a spaghetti sieve." We had 3 million illegal migrants.

"President Eisenhower cut off this illegal traffic ... quickly and decisively with only 1,075 United States Border Patrol agents -- less than one-tenth of today's force."

Ike appointed retired Gen. Joseph "Jumpin' Joe" Swing, a former West Point classmate and veteran of the 101st Airborne, as the new INS commissioner. On June 17, 1954, "Operation Wetback" began. Over the objections of "business-friendly" politicians like Lyndon Johnson and Pat McCarran, some 750 agents swept northward through agricultural areas with a goal of 1,000 apprehensions a day. By the end of July, more than 50,000 aliens were caught. An additional 488,000, fearing arrest, fled the country. By September, 80,000 had been taken into custody in Texas alone, and an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 illegals had voluntarily fled the Lone Star State. Illegal migration had dropped 95 percent by the late 1950s.

Yeah, that's right -- jobs will get done if we incentivize work rather than idleness. The newly legalized immigrants will have a claim on more taxpayer money. A serious effort at rounding up some illegals will lead many more to return home. Remember those three arguments and use them the next time you are told why we cannot make a serious effort to enforce the immigration laws we have rather than pass new ones.

|| Greg, 01:21 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Vietnam -- A Moral War

I've seen few defenses of the Vietnam war made so concisely and so eloquently. And it takes a Canadian writer, looking at the ignoble role of his own country in support of deserters and draft dodgers, to say it.

Let's get something clear here.

Vietnam was a moral war.

A bunch of folks written off at the time as loonies by the left predicted that if South Vietnam fell it would become a brutal Communist dictatorship that would herd dissidents into concentration camps, that other south Asian nations would also fall.

Well, after Saigon fell, those predictions came true. Life in Vietnam, particularly for ethnic Chinese, became so horrific that it gave birth to the boat people, who were thousands of desperate souls who crammed themselves and their children into leaky boats and cast themselves into the ocean to get away from the monsters who'd "liberated" their homeland.

They became fodder for sharks and pirates, but it was worth the risk to get out of yet another "people's democratic republic" under a red flag.

Another Communist, Pol Pot, who conquered Cambodia, was worse. He killed off millions of his own countrymen; their skulls are still heaped in pyramids around that nation.

After the war, North Vietnamese leaders admitted they'd been defeated militarily, but that was irrelevant. The real war was won in the streets of America.

In a very real sense, every U.S. draft dodger and deserter helped consign the millions who suffered and died under south Asian communism to their fate.

Maybe there is still hope for Soviet Kanuckistan after all.

|| Greg, 01:07 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

AP & UPI Articles Present Sympathetic Portrait Of Terrorist In America

Of all the audacity!

Fawaz Damra admits to having raised money in this country for terrorist activities here and abroad. But the AP and UPI (and, by extension, many newspapers around the country) choose to depict him as a sympathetic character.

An Islamic religious leader convicted of concealing ties to terrorist groups remains jailed in Michigan seven months after he reached a deal with the U.S. government to be deported.

The agreement called for Fawaz Damra's deportation to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Egypt or the Palestinian territories. But so far, no one has been willing to take the former imam of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, officials said.

There is no definitive rule on how long Damra can be held in jail, according to his attorney, Robert Birach.

I've got a suggestion -- how about until his stinking jihadi corpse rots and disintigrates into dust?

But the article gets even worse, if you can imagine that.

Damra is having a difficult time in jail and misses his wife and three children, who still live in the Cleveland area, friend Haider Alawan said.

"He's a man without a country," Alawan said.

Tough shit -- I'm sure that the families who died as a result of operations he supported miss their dead loved ones. And I'm sure those who survived the attacks have had a difficult time, too. The sympathy belongs with them, not with this jihadi pig.

Seems to me that now would be a great time to return him to his native Philistine Authority in Gaza -- where I'm sure he would get the opportunity to participate in the jihad for which he raised cash, at least until the Children of Israel send him on to his infernal reward.

H/T Debbie Schlussel, Ace of Spades HQ)

|| Greg, 12:55 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Cantwell Buys Off Challenger For $8000 A Month

If you can't beat your opponent, buy him off. That is the secret of Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell, who is paying one of her primary opponents to get out of the race.

A vocal former opponent's silence is important enough to Sen. Maria Cantwell's re-election effort to pay him $8,000 a month -- nearly as much as her campaign manager -- to join her campaign staff.

The Cantwell campaign initially refused to say last week how much it would pay Mark Wilson to drop his Democratic primary challenge to the senator and his harsh criticism of her opposition to immediate U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.

But campaign manager Matt Butler issued a statement Thursday disclosing Wilson's salary.

It isn't much lower than Butler's salary, which, according to Cantwell's quarterly Federal Election Commission report, was $26,192 for the first three months of 2006, or $8,731 a month.

I don't know about you, but if that isn't illegal it sure ought to be. It looks suspiciously like a bribe to me.

Oh, ">by the way -- go take a look at what he was saying about her until he took the bribe new job.

(H/T GOPBloggers)

|| Greg, 12:01 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 15, 2006


Just a few more IP addresses have been made available for all of us to use.

TO THE lay observer it seems like an infinite network of computers, servers and cables stretching around the globe.

But the worldwide web is filling up. So quickly, it turns out, that programmers have had to devise a new one.

Of the internet addresses available, more than three quarters are already in use, and the remainder are expected to be assigned by 2009. So, what will happen as more people in developing countries come online? The answer is IPv6, a new internet protocol that has more spaces than the old one: 340,282,366,920,938,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000 spaces, in fact. “Currently there’s four billion addresses available and there are six billion humans on Earth, so there’s obviously an issue there,” said David Kessens, chairman of the IPv6 working group at RIPE, one of five regional internet registries in charge of rolling it out.

Every device that is connected to the internet — websites, computers and mobile phones — needs an “internet address” to locate it on the network.

When the internet was developed in the 1980s, programmers had no idea how big it would become. They gave each address a “16-bit” number, which meant that the total number of available addresses worked out at about four billion (2 to the power of 32).

But as use grew, it became clear that the old protocol, IPv4, wasn’t big enough, so a new one was written based on “32-bit numbers”. That increased the number of available addresses to 340 undecillion, 282 decillion, 366 nonillion, 920 octillion, 938 septillion — enough for the foreseeable future, Mr Kessens said.

I guess this means we can all have multiple IP addresses without putting a strain on the system.

|| Greg, 08:23 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

How Far Must They Go?

So how far must one go before getting charged with a terrorist conspiracy? the Washington Post's Dahlia Lithwick is concerned about the federal government prosecuting "thought crimes".

The government claims to have foiled two major terrorism plots in the past month -- both in early planning stages that had not crossed the line from talk to action. In late June, seven men were arrested in Miami on suspicion of concocting a plan to blow up, among other places, the Sears Tower in Chicago. Then, several men were arrested in the Middle East in connection with plotting suicide bombings of transit tunnels between New Jersey and Manhattan.

This shift -- toward disrupting attacks long before explosives are stockpiled or targets scoped out -- makes some sense, given what we know about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and last year's mass-transit bombings in London. The difference between grandiose gym talk and a lethal terrorist strike can be bridged in a nanosecond, with a box cutter and a phone call.

But it's also a shift from prosecuting tangible terrorism conspiracies to prosecuting bad thoughts. And we need to think carefully before we go further down that road.

While Lithwick's piece is full of hand-wringing liberalism, she does raise some valid points. What is the line between line between the fantasies and boasts of a few oddballs and an actual terrorist conspiracy?

But unfortunately, Lithwick seems unwilling to recognize that stopping terrorism before the terrorists have acted is the only way to head off the conspirators. In particular, she appears to think that the arrest of teh Miami plotters (seeking to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago) might have been an over-reaction by the feds.

But I wonder -- if my buddies and I were to take similar actions while discussing the possiblility of blowing up the Washington Post offices where Lithwick works, would Dahlia be as willing to give us the benefit of the doubt as she is the accused terrorist plotters?

|| Greg, 04:04 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Letting Criminal Aliens Walk

UPDATE: I seem to have used a certain term in this post, a term that I have always understood as referring to immigration status, but which i am now informed is racially/ethnically insensitive. I apologize. I won't change the word on my site, though, because I do not go back and hide my mistakes or bury evidence of my own errors.

Something has got to be done to fix this problem -- not only do border-jumping immmigration criminals walk among us with impunity, those arrested on serious criminal charges are let free -- even when they are repeat offenders eligible for deportation.

TAMPA - The immigration agent didn't like the looks of Manuel Pardo's Social Security card. When the 20-year-old from Mexico was questioned, he admitted it was fake.

Pardo and several other immigrants were picked up at a brothel in Dover that night in June 2003, a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office report shows. Five months earlier, Pardo tried to attack some people with a shovel and was charged with aggravated assault. He served 24 days in county jail.

After Pardo was picked up at the brothel, the federal immigration agent ordered him to remain in Orient Road Jail until he could be transferred for deportation proceedings.

Federal officials said Pardo was deported, but three weeks ago he was back in the county jail, charged with driving without a valid license. Although it is a felony to return to the United States after deportation, he was released on $500 bail.

He walked out nine hours after he was picked up.

It seems we don't have sufficient jail space to hold criminal wetbacks pending their deportation -- even when the charges are directly related to their immigration status.

It seems clear that one step needed is the adoption of a policy that either expeditites or eliminates hearings in such situations. Our policy needs to be that such deportations occur quickly and efficiently.

Load 'em up! Ship 'em back! Rawhide!

|| Greg, 03:41 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The 10 Least PC Movies Ever

It is sad that some of these movies are on the list -- they are among those I would rate as Hollywood comedy classics. And one just breaks your heart, because even though the criticisms of it are accurate it is a snapshot of American culture and a masterpiece of music and animation in film.

Let me give you a few examples -- you can read the rest.

There is the classic parody of the formula western.

“Blazing Saddles” The granddaddy of them all when it comes to language and situations that wouldn’t fly today. Mel Brooks’ Western spoof came out in 1974, when certain indelicate references to race and womanhood could still elicit guffaws rather than protests. Cleavon Little plays Bart, an African-American who is assigned by evil politician Hedley Lamaar (Harvey Korman) to serve as the new sheriff of a town in the hopes his presence will so offend the citizens that he’ll drive them out so Lamaar can grab their land. Because the townspeople apparently were expecting a white man, Bart isn’t exactly embraced. A particular slur that starts with the letter that comes after “M” is sprinkled liberally throughout, but there are also plenty of sexual references as well, including the scene soon after Bart arrives and the folks dive for cover when he reaches into his pants to retrieve a document and says, “Excuse me while I whip this out.” Since Brooks is an equal-opportunity offender, he assaults the sensibilities of Native-Americans, Jews, Chinese, Irish, women, horses, the handicapped and others. If “Blazing Saddles” were pitched in Hollywood today, Brooks would have been hastily escorted off the lot, and executives would quickly issue a statement that the move had nothing to do with him being short and Jewish.

And another parody -- this one of the string of disaster movies that made box-office gold in the 1960s and 1970s, although I will agree that the pedophilia jokes are a bit much.

“Airplane!” Directors Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker skewered the disaster genre in this 1980 release that hurled one gag after another at audiences without the slightest regard to whether it rubbed anyone the wrong way. There was the bit with the two black gentlemen seated together whose speech is incomprehensible to the flight attendant until Barbara Billingsley of “Leave It To Beaver” fame offers to translate, explaining, “I speak jive.” There was Peter Graves’ Captain Oveur, who makes suggestive remarks to a young boy visiting the cockpit including, “Do you like gladiator movies?” There was the little boy who asks a little girl seated next to him how she likes her coffee: “Black, like my men.” There were the repeated drug references by Lloyd Bridges (“Looks like I picked the wrong week to give up sniffing glue.”) There was the Air Israel plane wearing a yarmulke. And on and on. Today the PC police would have to hire extra help in order to monitor this one picture.

And then the fantastic parody of liberal political correctness itself.

“Team America: World Police” Few political satires exist at all. Fewer still jab the right and the left equally hard, and do so using marionettes and extremely bad taste. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of “South Park,” made this 2004 parody of the old “Thunderbirds” TV series with the intent of ridiculing all elements of the war on terror. It includes a reference to the Film Actors Guild by showing a news clip with the words “Alec Baldwin — F.A.G.” They make fun of the Broadway show “Rent” with their own called “Lease” that includes the song, “Everyone Has AIDS.” The film ridicules foreign languages like Spanish, French and Arabic by boiling them down to caricature levels; Kim Jong-il, the bad guy in the movie as in real life, greets people with “Herro” and calls weapons inspector Hans Blix “Hans Brix.” This picture is politically incorrect in the most virulent manner because it exists not to express a point of view, but rather to harpoon a broad section of the famous and powerful while offending as many as possible.

I guess the point is that parody and satire really have no place in cinema today -- it makes liberals uncomfortable.

And then this classic -- offensive, but because of the time in which it was made and teh bit of culture it keeps frozen on film.

“Song of the South” This mixture of live action and animation probably doesn’t fit snugly into the category of politically incorrect comedies, simply because it isn’t a straight comedy but more a lighthearted family picture. Also, the depictions of African-Americans here weren’t mean to elicit laughs, but were done in earnest in an attempt to portray life in a particular time period, right after the Civil War. But there’s no doubt this could never be made today the same way. In fact, Disney has refused to even release the film on home video in the United States (although it is available overseas) because the portrayals of African-Americans would create a firestorm today. Uncle Remus, a wise old black man, tells the story of Brer Rabbit and his pals to cheer up little Johnny, a white kid. But most of the black people are shown as subservient to whites. This isn’t exactly “Birth of a Nation,” but in terms of racial stereotypes, it’s in that ballpark. “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Song.

Must we really sanitize our past as a way of making a better future?

Anybody want to offer their own list?

|| Greg, 03:17 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Something In The Attic

I'm hoping my darling wife doesn't see this story. The last thing I need is for her to start hearing sounds in the attic.

Almost immediately after Rebecca Peña moved into her house in Old East Dallas last month, strange things began to happen.

The chandelier would rattle. Once, when she was playing dominoes, she saw water begin to slosh – Jurassic Park-like – in a glass. She heard footsteps at night.

A family member suggested it was ghosts, but Ms. Peña was skeptical.

"I said, 'No, man, the footsteps are too heavy for ghosts,' " said Ms. Peña , 25, manager of a dry-cleaning business.

She thought it was more likely to be an animal.

But when she and her boyfriend took a flashlight and finally investigated the attic earlier this week, they discovered that they could definitely rule out mice.

She said the attic had been cordoned off with cloth. Beer and water bottles, a blanket and old shirts were littered about.

In short, someone had been living there, apparently sneaking out when Ms. Peña went to work and sneaking back before she returned.

She believes the intruder would jimmy the front door, walk through her living room and up the stairs.

"I work 12 hours a day, and nobody's there. My kids are in day-care," she said. "Somebody could do it and not get caught."

Could someone really get away with something like this? It looks like they may have, if the rest of the story is correct. Peñafrightened the guy out of the house, but he seems to have gotten back in. What happened when teh police came is even stranger.

When she went back in her house, she said, she thought she heard more noises coming from the attic – either the man had not really left, or someone else was up there.

According to the police report, Ms. Peña went into the attic and saw the man. She told him to leave, but he refused. She locked the door leading to the attic until police arrived, the report says.

Police said they searched the attic and found signs someone had been living there but were unable to find anyone.

Ms. Peña said that when they came back downstairs, she and the police heard more noises coming from upstairs, but a second search also came up empty.

On the advice of police, Ms. Peña had the attic door boarded up. When she left for work on Friday, she kept the television turned on.

I'm sure that there is some "public interest lawyer" preparing a suit right now, accusing Ms. Peña of violating the civil rights of the former resident of her attic. I mean, he isn't really an intruder who has been breaking and entering her house in violation of the law -- he is merely an undocumented resident willing to live in place Americans don't want to live.

|| Greg, 02:53 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Mexico Permits American Groups To Aid And Abet Immigration Criminals

Looks like another instance of the Mexican government acting to undermine American sovereignty.

Two Tucson-based immigrant-aid groups were expected to sign an agreement of hospitality with the Mexican government Tuesday evening.

Members of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos/Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras and the faith-based No More Deaths movement were scheduled to sign the document, along with Jesus Lopez Quiroz of Mexico's National Institute of Migration and Enrique Flores Lopez of Sonora's State Commission for the Care of Migrants.

No More Deaths members say the agreement will formally allow the U.S.-based organizations to provide food, water, footwear and basic medical care to migrants on the Mexican side of the international border.

No More Deaths, which provides food, water and medical assistance to illegal entrants in distress on the U.S. side, has a new program of providing aid to migrants returned by U.S. authorities to Mexican ports of entry at Nogales and Agua Prieta.

The Coalición de Derechos Humanos/Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras is a grass-roots organization that aims to promote respect for human and civil rights and fights what it calls the militarization of the southern border region.

When are we going to cut off aid to the Mexican government until it acts to stop, rather than assist, the violation of our border by its citizens? And will the American government take action against these groups that are clearly aiding and abetting the violation of American law?

|| Greg, 02:20 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Looking For On-Site Blogging Of The Middle East Crisis?

Truth Laid Bear has a list of bloggers in the Israel and Lebanon who are covering the situation. The Bear also has a page devoted to topical posts on the crisis.

(H/T Tammy Bruce)

|| Greg, 02:06 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Navy SEAL In Need Of YOUR Help

He is willing to put his life on the line for you -- are you willing to do something to save his?

Rare is the occasion when a Navy SEAL needs help from his fellow Americans. Perhaps even rarer is the day an ordinary American can help a Navy SEAL. But Justin, 27, whose last name is not being disclosed at the request of the Defense Department, is in need, and Americans, especially readers in the Washington area, have an opportunity to help.

Last month, the Iraq war veteran was diagnosed with leukemia, which is normally treated with chemotherapy. Justin, however, has a rare condition that makes his best chance of survival dependent on a bone marrow transplant. Tragically, neither of Justin's siblings -- who often are the best match for transplants -- is a suitable donor. This makes the chance of finding a donor, according to Justin's sister, Jodi, about one in 25,000. Unless a match can be found, leukemia patients often die within months.

So, last week Justin's hometown newspaper, the East Brunswick, N.J., Sentinel, published a story asking local residents for help. While the Navy SEALs are busy conducting their own donor search, the potential donor field could be increased significantly if Washington-area readers are able to drive the three hours to Spotswood, N.J., where on Saturday the local high school is holding a one-day donor search, courtesy of the Defense Department's Donor Program (

Testing is painless. Volunteers would be administered a simple swab on the inside of the cheek to find out if they're a match. That's it. In the rare case you are a match, the marrow extraction process itself is also relatively simple. The procedure includes the taking of a small amount of marrow via needle from the back of the pelvic bone, according to the Defense Department's Donor Program, at either Georgetown University Hospital or the University of Maryland's Greenbaum Medical Center in Baltimore. Patients are fully anesthetized at all times. Concerned readers are encouraged to contact Eddy Medina of the Defense Department program (800-627-7693 ext. 223) to learn more about the testing and procedure.

As quoted in the Sentinel, Justin's sister said: "When he was told that there was only a 30 percent chance of recovery, he replied, 'That's good. There was only a 10 percent chance of me becoming a SEAL'.?" The drive is being held at Spotswood High School, 105 Summerhill Road, Spotswood, N.J., this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Are you the person that Justin -- or someone else in need of a bone marrow transplant -- needs in order to live?

(H/T Michelle Malkin & Conservative Musings)

|| Greg, 02:00 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 14, 2006

VRA Renewal: Solving The Problems Of 1964 Until 2032

In 2032 I will, God willing, turn 69. The data used to determine which states need special monitoring for racial discrimination in voting will turn 68 -- making it more than old enough to collect social security if that program still exists.

That is why today's knee-jerk renewal of certain provisions of that law is an absurd act of political cowardice by the House of Representatives.

The House yesterday easily approved an extension of key provisions of the landmark Voting Rights Act, after GOP leaders quelled a rebellion within the party's Southern ranks that threatened to become a political embarrassment.

Before the 390 to 33 vote to extend the measure for a quarter-century, the House defeated four amendments that would have diluted two expiring provisions and possibly derailed final passage before the November congressional elections. With the House hurdle now cleared, Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said he hoped to bring the extension to the Senate floor before the August recess.

The act's temporary provisions do not expire until next year, but Republican leaders had hoped that early action would earn goodwill from minority voters as members of Congress head into a brutally competitive fall campaign season.

"Today, Republicans and Democrats have united in a historic vote to preserve and protect one of America's most important fundamental rights -- the right to vote," said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

Wrong, Mr. Speaker. Democrats and Republicans have become a sleuth of pander-bears. These provisions were meant to expire in 1970, and use data that is woefully outdated to limit the effective coverage of the act to only a few states.

It seems clear that some members of Congress have been in hibernation for the last four decades.

In urging adoption of the act, Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, recalled marching on Bloody Sunday, a turning point in the movement for black voting rights in 1965, when the police in Selma, Ala., beat 600 civil rights demonstrators.

"I gave blood," Mr. Lewis said, his voice rising, as he stood alongside photographs of the clash. "Some of my colleagues gave their very lives."

"Yes, we've made some progress; we have come a distance," he added. "The sad truth is, discrimination still exists. That's why we still need the Voting Rights Act, and we must not go back to the dark past."

Fine, I can accept some sort of renewal of these provisions of the VRA. But none of these provisions is about turning the clock back four decades. Indeed, one of the defeated amendments (opposed by Democrats as a killer amendment) would have targetted voting issues as they exist TODAY, not back when I was still an infant.

A second amendment, offered by Rep. Charles Whitlow Norwood Jr. (R-Ga.), would have made every district potentially subject to the pre-clearance requirement, by including any jurisdiction where voter turnout fell below 50 percent in a presidential election. It would have eased the pre-clearance requirement for jurisdictions with voter turnout above 50 percent in three consecutive presidential elections, presuming that no court had found that discriminatory voting practices were employed. The measure failed 318 to 96.

Wow -- considering voter turnout in elections taking place TODAY was labelled as being against civil right. Applying the law to what happened in 2004 and what will happen in 2008 is not as important as correcting what happened in the election when Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater. Good grief -- would you accept the advice of a doctor who shunned MRIs and CAT scans and stuck strictly to old-fashioned x-rays because that was what he learned in medical school back in the 1960s? Of course not! Then why engage in the illogically absurd practice of using antiquated measures to determine racial discrimination -- and demand that they continue to be used for another quarter century?

Even suggesting that the renewal be done for a decade rather than a quarter century was labelled as a poison pill. Never mind that those who wrote these provisions thought it sufficient that they expire after five years -- now, four decades later, anything less than an extension of 25 years is tantamount to repealing the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

I've expressed my frustration over this issue a number of times in the past. I'm not persuaded by anything I've read today. Far from being a profile in courage, the blind renewal of these provisions of the VRA is a profile in political and moral cowardice.

Here's hoping the Senate has the backbone either to make the Voting Rights Act relevant to the problems that exist today or to allow these provisions to expire as their authors intended them to do.

Crossposted at Homeland Stupidity

OTHER VIEWS AT A Newer World, Exile on Jones Street, Two Steps Left, The Black Republican, The Yellow Doggerel Democrat, The Democrat Party, Rubicon

OPEN TRACKBACKING TO: Stuck on Stupid, Uncooperative Blogger, Echo9er, Pursuing Holiness, Adam's Blog, Bloggin' Outloud, Third World County, Bullwinkle Blog, Bacon Bits, Samantha Burns, Blue Star Chronicles, Conservative Cat, Stop the ACLU. Wizbang

|| Greg, 02:25 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (18) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Delay Appeal Expedited

Bob Dunn over at Fort Bend Now is reporting that the 5th Circuit will expedite the GOP appeal in the Tom Delay replacement case. The schedule is as follows.

Ruling late Thursday afternoon, the 5th Circuit agreed to a schedule proposed by Benkiser’s attorneys, by which they would file their opening brief tomorrow, the state Democrats’ attorneys would file a response by July 21, the GOP would file a reply by July 26 and an appeals court panel of judges will take the case July 31.

The panel of judges will determine on July 31st whether they’ll hear oral arguments in the case.

That would permit them to rule by the August 4 date that the Texas GOP is claiming it needs to name a replacement -- and to come up for a replacement for THAT candidate if he/she is on the ballot for another office.

UPDATE: The Houston Chronicle, being the local paper of record, contains only a small blurb with significantly less information.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday granted an expedited hearing to the Texas Republican Party on its quest to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on the ballot.

An order signed by Judge Fortunato "Pete" Benavides said the court will take up the case on July 31, but did not commit to hearing oral arguments.

Attorneys have until July 26 to file briefs.

The Texas Republican Party is appealing a ruling by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks that GOP Chair Tina Benkiser cannot declare DeLay ineligible to appear on the ballot and that the Republicans can take no action to replace DeLay. The lawsuit was brought by the Texas Democratic Party.

So much for fully informing the constituents of CD22 about a situation that directly impacts them. And only 9 hours later than the much more informative Fort Bend Now post cited above.

Thank God for Bob Dunn.

|| Greg, 01:12 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 13, 2006

Reading Improvement In Upper Grades

I almost hesitate to write on this, for a liberal on another site accused me of being disrespectful and contemptuous of my students for noting their reading deficits in a recent post. But the reality is that students reaching high school do have literacy and/or fluency problems, and educators need to address them.

The Washington Post article notes this issue.

Educators said it's difficult to pin down one cause. Bad teaching, chaotic home lives, low expectations for some students, cultural bias, the fact that older students simply don't read enough -- all have been faulted.

And student attitude can be a factor.

"By late elementary school, kids who are struggling readers have developed strategies to avoid reading," said Sylvia Edwards, a reading specialist with the Maryland State Department of Education. "They are under the radar, scraping by."

Even in relatively affluent areas, over 20% of kids reach high school with serious reading difficulties -- a problem that is even more marked among minority and special population sub-groups. And unfortunately, most teachers at that level are not trained to teach reading, because that is a skill teacher training programs for secondary teachers presume is unnecessary because students are expected to be functionally literate by the time they reach middle school.

The teaching of reading therefore needs to continue beyond the primary grades, into the upper elementary grades and on through graduation. The high-stakes testing regimens of NCLB make this even more essential, for without those reading skills there is little hope of students ever passing the exams needed to graduate. That will mean revamping our teacher training paradigm, and retraining teachers already in the classroom to meet that new reality.

|| Greg, 04:31 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Second Front In Israeli War On Terror

A raid by Hezbollah terrorists operating out of Lebanon has resulted in Israeli military action in that neighboring country.

The Lebanese Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah infiltrated the Israeli border Wednesday in a brazen raid, capturing two Israeli soldiers, killing three others and prompting Israeli attacks on the airport in Beirut and bridges, roads, power stations and military positions across the hillsides of southern Lebanon. Five more Israeli soldiers were killed after the army entered Lebanon in pursuit, one of the military's highest one-day death tolls in more than four years.

The capture of the soldiers and the fighting effectively opened a second front for Israel, whose troops entered the Gaza Strip last month in search of a soldier seized June 25. Within hours, reverberations rolled across an already tense region. The United States blamed Syria and Iran for the abduction, and Israeli tanks and troops moved toward the Lebanese border throughout the day. In Lebanon and elsewhere, the attack emboldened Hezbollah's supporters, who greeted the news by handing out sweets and setting off fireworks.

The fighting took a dramatic turn early Thursday with Israeli attacks on the Beirut airport and Hezbollah's television station in the capital's predominantly Shiite Muslim southern suburbs. Lebanese television reported that Israeli aircraft attacked two runways, forcing the facility to close and sending flights to airports elsewhere in the Middle East. Footage showed a column of black smoke drifting over the modern facility, considered an emblem of Lebanon's post-civil war reconstruction.

This is not a conflict Israel sought -- it is part of a response to the murderous actions of a foe tht wants noting less than the destruction of every Jew in the Middle East. Israel has time and again made concessions in search of peace, but the jihadis are unwilling that even a tiny sliver of teh Middle East remain in the hands of non-Muslims..

May God continue to bles teh people of israel, as he did their fathers in days of old.

|| Greg, 04:18 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 12, 2006

Absolute Deadline In DeLay Case

Texas Republicans have told the 5th Circuit that it needs a quick decision -- and that August 4 is the latest date for a decision that would allow for the replacement of Tom DeLay on the November ballot. It also asked Judge Sparks to stay his decision pending appeal.

Republicans pleaded with federal courts Tuesday to allow them to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on the November ballot, saying that time is running out to make the change.

In separate motions to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and to U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, the Texas GOP said picking a DeLay replacement could "easily take 28 days" and must be completed by Sept. 1 so the state has enough time to print ballots.

Last week, Sparks ordered that DeLay's name remain on the ballot, saying efforts by Republican Chair Tina Benkiser to replace him by declaring that DeLay has become a Virginia resident violated the eligibility requirements of the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution sets residency eligibility for election day.

The Republicans asked Sparks to set aside the portion of his order that prevents the party from moving forward with selecting a new nominee.

"Given the time it will take (the Republican Party) to fulfill the requirements in choosing a replacement nominee, or nominees if the replacement candidate is already on the ballot, as is likely, the Court of Appeals' decision in (the Republican Party's) favor would have to issue before Aug. 4," the party said in a motion to Sparks.

The motion filed by party General Counsel Donna Garcia Davidson told Sparks the party wants only to proceed with the replacement process while the case is appealed to the 5th Circuit.

Party attorney James Bopp Jr. asked the federal appeals court for an expedited hearing because of the tight time frame. He proposed that all briefs be filed in the case by July 26 and that a hearing be held July 31.

While I don't think that the selection process would take that long, there is no legitimate reason for not permitting Galveston and Brazoria Counties to pick their representatives for teh District Executive Committee -- or for them to meet and decide on a replacement candidate in the interim.

After all, what is the worst possible outcome? Wasted action and Delay remaining on the ballot.

Unless, of course, you are a Democrat -- in which case the worst outcome is the selection of a candidate even more likely to beat Lampson than Tom DeLay is.

|| Greg, 04:22 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Geneva Rights For Terrorists -- An Unfortunate Policy Decision

The entire purpose of the Geneva Conventions was to ensure that the laws of war were followed by all combattants. By acting in a certain manner, they acquired certain rights and protections -- and failing to act in that manner (uniforms, organization, refraining from intentional attacks on civilians) put one outside those protections.

We've just taken away our enemy's incentive for following the laws of war with this decision.

The Bush administration has agreed to apply the Geneva Conventions to all terrorism suspects in U.S. custody, bowing to the Supreme Court's recent rejection of policies that have imprisoned hundreds for years without trials.

The Pentagon announced yesterday that it has called on military officials to adhere to the conventions in dealing with al-Qaeda detainees. The administration also has decided that even prisoners held by the CIA in secret prisons abroad must be treated in accordance with international standards, an interpretation that would prohibit prisoners from being subjected to harsh treatment in interrogations, several U.S. officials said.

The developments underscored how the administration has been forced to retreat from its long-standing position that President Bush be given extensive leeway to determine how to interrogate and prosecute terrorism suspects captured in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Until recently, the White House and Defense Department have pursued such anti-terrorism policies with little interference from Congress and the courts, but that has begun to change.

Since 2002, the administration has contended that the Geneva Conventions would be respected as a matter of policy but that they did not apply by law to terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or in U.S. military custody elsewhere. Administration officials have voiced concern that the conventions are too vague and could expose the military to second-guessing about appropriate treatment.

Now why would anyone follow rules if there is no penalty for breaking them? our terrorist enemies have now been tols that there are no consequences for engaging in terrorism rather than civilized military conduct -- so we can expect that terrorism will continue unabated.

What really needs to happen is on-the-spot executions of terrorists -- or detention followed by hearing-less executions for those who we believe have useful intelligence.

At least until the terrorists begin to follow Geneva.

WILLisms has an interesting look at the issue of Geneva and terrorists.

|| Greg, 04:11 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Waste Time With This?

Is internet gambling such an overwhelming problem that we need to effectively ban it? I don't think so.

The House easily approved a bill yesterday to curb online poker games, sports betting and other Internet-based wagering that gained infamy as a central focus of a major lobbying scandal.

The 317-to-93 vote came nearly six years to the day after a similar measure went down to surprise defeat. At the time, unknown to its conservative supporters, the bill was derailed by lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the office of then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, on behalf of the disgraced lobbyist's gambling clients.

"This is the opportunity to expunge a smear on this House done by many lobbyists," Abramoff included, said Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), one of the legislation's chief sponsors. "Now is the time to set the record straight."

The bill that was passed yesterday seeks to restrain the booming but difficult-to-regulate Internet gambling business. Proponents of the crackdown said the industry, which is mostly based overseas, provides a front for money laundering, some of it by drug sellers and terrorist groups, while preying on children and gambling addicts. Americans bet an estimated $6 billion per year online, accounting for half the worldwide market, according to analysis by the Congressional Research Service.

Critics said the bill overreaches and would be difficult to enforce. At its heart are two provisions. One would update the 1961 Wire Act, which bars gambling entities from using wire-based communications for transmitting bets, to include the Internet. The other aims at cutting off the money flow from players to Internet gambling sites by barring the use of electronic payments, such as credit-card transactions.

The biggest losers could be the estimated 23 million Americans who play poker over the Internet. "This bill would needlessly make outlaws of the millions of adult Americans who enjoy online poker, and is the latest example of how our representatives in Congress are ignoring real issues facing our country," warned the grass-roots Poker Players Alliance, in an alert to its more than 25,000 members.

While I consider the "ignoring the real issues" line to be a red herring (Congress can do many different pieces of legislation at once -- it isn't like nothing else was going on while this one worked its way through the committee and the full House), I agree that this is an area where there is no genuine reason to intrude. Given teh fact that we are legalizing gambling in more and more states, it seems absurd to prevent people from using the latest technology to gamble from their homes -- or to ban the most practical method of dealing with the financial transactions that go along with it.

And for the record, i don't gamble on the internet.

|| Greg, 03:54 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 11, 2006

Terrorism Strikes India

It appears that the jihadis have attacked another non-Muslim democracy in an attempt to impose their backwards system upon its people.

A series of seven explosions killed at least 174 people on crowded commuter trains and stations Tuesday evening in the Indian financial capital of Mumbai, police said.

Officials said at least 464 people were injured in the blasts in the city's western suburbs as commuters made their way home. All seven blasts came within an 11-minute span, between 6:24 and 6:35 p.m. (12:54 and 1:05 p.m. GMT).

Analysts are comparing the attack with the mass transit bombings in Madrid in 2004 and London last year, saying they all involved a series of mutiple blasts and were well-coordinated.

There was some confusion about the number of dead and injured as information was compiled from hospitals and explosion sites in Mumbai, the west Indian seaport previously called Bombay.

"There still are bodies being recovered," said Pooja Saxena, with the International Federation of the Red Cross, speaking early Wednesday.

The Indian governemnt attributes the attack to Indian Muslim radical Dawood Ibrahim, who has connections to several al-Qaeda affiliated groups.

This is not the first such attack in India. It has a long history of violence by Muslims against Hindus, dating back to before its independence from Britain. Indeed, at one time the Mughals ruled most of the Indian sub-continent with the iron fist of Islam. Thirteen years ago, the Indian stock exchange was the site of a bloody attack.

I join with my Indian brothers and sisters in mourning the deaths of innocent, and urge them to resolve to root out the jihadis among them, showing no mercy at all to those responsible for this unspeakable horror.

Interesting coverage at Captain's Quarters.

|| Greg, 09:13 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What Are You Trying to Hide, Ronnie?

Rogue prosecutor Ronnie Earl, the political hack who needed no fewer than six grand juries to indict Tom DeLay on crimes that didn't even exist under state law, doesn't want to let the people have a view into the operations of his office.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle is suing to keep secret the details about his investigation of indicted former House majority leader Tom DeLay.

The Houston Chronicle filed a request under Texas' open records law in March seeking vouchers, hotel and airfare receipts, budget documents, memos and e-mails describing the expenses for the DeLay inquiry and related investigations.

DeLay, indicted last year on conspiracy and money laundering charges connected to the financing of 2002 state legislative races, resigned from Congress on June 9.

Earle, in his attempt to keep details of his investigation out of public view, appealed to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, arguing that releasing the information could compromise the prosecution.

The state's lawyer, who reviewed examples of the information, generally ruled that Earle didn't have to disclose secret information related to grand jury investigations. But the attorney general noted that the public records law requires disclosure of "information in an account, voucher, or contract" relating to the expenditure of public monies, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday.

Now this is the same Ronnie Earle who allowed his investigation to be followed by a friendly documentary producer who has released the film before the trial, prejudicing the ability of Delay to get an impartial jury. But he doesn't want to let the newspaper in the largest city in the state -- the one most read in CD22 -- have access to public douments that would show the lenghts that this latter-day Captain Ahab has gone to harpoon his nemesis.

Furthermore, what is he trying to hide? Any evidence this investigation produced would have to be turned over to the DeLay defense team as a part of discovery. Is he contemplating a (or should I say "another") violation of DeLay's rights by withholding some of that evidence?

Seems to me that Ronnie Earle's refusal to produce document under the Public Information Act is the basis for an independent investigation of the Travis County prosecutor's office, and his conduct in the DeLay case.

|| Greg, 08:51 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Japan To Act in Own Defense

It looks like Japan may come to realize that the best defense is a good offense when it comes to a rogue state like North Korea.

In their toughest comments to date on North Korea's missile tests, Japanese officials on Monday called for a debate on whether Japan should pursue military capabilities that would enable preemptive strikes at North Korean missile bases. Japan currently does not possess such technology.

At the same time, Japan backed away from pushing for a vote at the U.N. Security Council on Monday on a measure to impose tough sanctions on North Korea. U.S. and Japanese diplomats have continued to face regional opposition to the plan, particularly from China and South Korea, the communist state's most important benefactors.

Ultimately, regional objections must be ignored. The reality is that the North Korean dictator cannot be permitted to have access to nuclear weapons or their delivery systems. That means that force must be applied, because he has repeatedly indicated his unwillingness to give them up.

|| Greg, 04:49 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Chechen Terrorist Killed

And the world is a cleaner place for it.

Shamil Basayev, the ruthless Chechen rebel leader responsible for terror attacks that led to the deaths of more than 800 people, was killed Monday when a dynamite-laden truck in his convoy exploded in this village of red brick houses next to a muddy field.

This was teh bastard responsible for the Beslan massacre of school children two years ago. I'm sure there is a special corner of Hell reserved for him. I hope he has already received his 72 virgins -- only to discover that a penis is denied him in the afterlife.

|| Greg, 04:44 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 10, 2006

Security Breach -- Real Close To Home

This isn't comforting -- because many of the planes from Hobby Airport fly right over my part of town.

Houston police and the federal Transportation Security Administration disagree over who is responsible for allowing a man with what appeared to be bomb components board an aircraft at Hobby Airport last week.

Although the FBI eventually cleared the man of wrongdoing, police officials have transferred the officer involved and are investigating the incident while insisting that the TSA, not police, has the authority to keep a suspicious person from boarding a flight.

"Our job is not to be the gatekeepers," police Capt. Dwayne Ready said. "That burden falls squarely on the airline and TSA to make that final decision.

"We are looking at our role in the situation to make sure our policies were adhered to," he said. "During follow-up, we are finding that there simply was not a material threat."

TSA spokeswoman Andrea McCauley said screeners have the authority to stop people from going beyond the checkpoint to the boarding areas, but they rely heavily on local police.

"It's just agencies talking with each other," Ready said, downplaying the disagreement.

This article is really distressing, the further you read. Sounds like there are turf battles in all this.

MORE AT: Hot Air, Michelle Malkin, It Shines For All, Two Babes And A Brain, Webloggin, American Princess, Right Wing News, Radio Left, The Art of the Blog, Digital Irony, This Blog Is Full Of Crap

|| Greg, 08:01 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watcher's Council Results

Tthe winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are The Wild, Wild West(ern Europe) by Gates of Vienna, and Declaration of Independence: A Fisking by Outside the Beltway

You can find the full results of the vote here.

|| Greg, 07:22 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Judge: Congressional Offices Subject To Search Pursuant To Search Warrant

When the FBI raided the office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-Cold Cash In The Freezer), I argued that it was absurd for Congress to claim that it was exempt from search warrants issued according to the Fourth Amendment.

Well, a federal judge backed my position today.

An FBI raid on a Louisiana congressman's Capitol Hill office was legal, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan said members of Congress are not above the law. He rejected requests from lawmakers and Democratic Rep. William Jefferson to return material seized by the FBI in a May 20-21 search of Jefferson's office.

In a 28-page opinion, Hogan dismissed arguments that the first-ever raid on a congressman's office violated the Constitution's protections against intimidation of elected officials.

The attempt to apply the Speech and Debate Clause to this was patently absurd. The judge dismissed it out of hand. Futhermore, he also rejected the notion that the raid breached the separation of powers.

"No one argues that the warrant executed upon Congressman Jefferson's office was not properly administered," Hogan wrote. "Therefore, there was no impermissible intrusion on the Legislature. The fact that some privileged material was incidentally captured by the search does not constitute an unlawful intrusion."

I particularly love this quote.

If there is any threat to the separation of powers here, it is not from the execution of a search warrant by one co-equal branch of government upon another, after the independent approval of the third separate, and co-equal branch. Rather, the principle of the separation of powers is threatened by the position that the Legislative Branch enjoys the unilateral and unreviewable power to invoke an absolute privilege, thus making it immune from the ordinary criminal process of a validly issued search warrant. This theory would allow Members of Congress to frustrate investigations into non-legislative criminal activities for which the Speech or Debate Clause clearly provides no protection from prosecution.

Read the whole opinion here.

(H/T Captain's Quarters, Stop the ACLU, Gay Patriot, GOPBloggers)

|| Greg, 07:00 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

ADF Profile In Washington Post

If the ACLU is the "voice of civil liberties" from teh Left, then the Right has two such groups -- the ACLJ and the Alliance Defense Fund. The ADF is profiled today in the Washington Post.

A 29-foot war memorial shaped like a cross should be allowed to remain on public land. A teacher should be able to emphasize references to God in the Declaration of Independence. Protesters should be permitted to approach women near the doors of an abortion clinic.

These courtroom fights and dozens of others pending across the country belong to the portfolio of the ambitious Alliance Defense Fund, a socially conservative legal consortium. It spends $20 million a year seeking to protect what it regards as the place of religion -- and especially Christianity -- in public life.

Considering itself the antithesis of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Scottsdale-based organization has used money and moxie to become the leading player in a movement to tug the nation to the right by challenging decades of legal precedent. By stepping into the nation's most impassioned debates about religion in the public sphere, the group aims to bring law and society into alignment with conservative Christianity.

There are those who argue that the group's Christian orientation puts it at odds with the First Amendment. That is nonsense. While the First Amendment clearly forbids establishing a religion as the national church, there is nothing in it which prohibits the people from enacting laws which reflect their views -- even if those views grow from their faith. And there is certainly no requirement that people of faith take a backseat to secularists. That is why the Alliance Defense Fund exists.

|| Greg, 03:47 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Evangelicals For Romney

The kind folks over at GOPBloggers highlighted this group this morning. After the press has raised questions about Romney's ability to get support from evangelicals because of his religion, I'm glad to see this response.

But…He’s a Mormon.

Yes, Gov. Romney is a Mormon. We are not. According to the liberal media, this is an unbridgeable gap, and evangelicals will never turn out to support a faithful Mormon like Mitt Romney. As usual, the media have it wrong. And they root their error (as usual) in a fundamental misunderstanding about American evangelicals—seeing us as ignorant and intolerant simpletons who are incapable of making sophisticated political value judgments.

To be perfectly clear, we believe Gov. Romney is not only acceptable to conservative Christians, but that he is clearly the best choice for people of faith. He is right on all the issues, and he has proven his positions with actions. He is a gifted and persuasive spokesman for our political and moral values. Here is the bottom line: the 2008 election is for president, not pastor. We would never advocate that the Governor become our pastor or lead our churches—we disagree with him profoundly on theological issues. But we reject the notion that the president of the United States has to be in perfect harmony with our religious doctrine. In fact, that is not a test that has been applied before—after all, Jimmy Carter was probably more theologically in line with evangelicals than Ronald Reagan, yet we believe that Reagan was clearly the better choice in 1980.

Let’s leave the absurd religious litmus test to the Democrats. What we want is a president who shares our moral and political values and will put them into action. A President Romney would do that—just as he’s done in Massachusetts—making him stand head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

Finally, it is not just our theory that evangelicals will support Governor Romney. In March, 2006, he shocked the political establishment by finishing second at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll in Memphis, Tennessee. We led the grassroots effort that put him above John McCain and George Allen, and where did he get the vast majority of his support? From the very Southern evangelicals who the media is convinced will not support a Mormon from Massachusetts.

Go by and take a look at the group's site.

|| Greg, 03:40 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 09, 2006

Tell The Image Thief To Stop Unauthorized Use Of My Copyright Photo

|| Greg, 10:01 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Delay Redux?

I've noted more than once that Judge Sparks' ruling might mean DeLay coming back to Texas and making the run for Congress.

Well, look at Time Magazine.

A source close to the ex-Congressman tells TIME that DeLay is planning an aggressive campaign to retake the House seat he quit in June if an appeals court lets stand a ruling by a federal judge last week that his name must stay on November's ballot—even though he has moved to Virginia.

"If it isn't overturned, Katy bar the door!" says a G.O.P. official. "Guess he'll have to fire up the engines on the campaign and let 'er rip."

So it may be that the result of the lawsuit by the JackAss Party is the return of Tom DeLay to Congress -- because after all, they went to court demanding that he remain the GOP candidate.

(H/T Captain's Quarters, Strata-Sphere, Texas Rainmaker, Outside the Beltway, Blogs for Bush & GOPBloggers)

|| Greg, 05:19 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Do 'Terrorists' Bomb Innocent Civilians In London But 'Militants' Bomb Innocent Civilians In Tel Aviv?

Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Palestinians two weeks ago.

His cousin, Jonathan Shalit (who discoverd singer Charlotte Church), writes to remind us all that those who target Israelis in such ways are not "militants" but terrorists, just like those who committed murder on 9/11 and 7/7.

It is now a fortnight since Palestinian terrorists tunnelled under the Gaza border and crossed into sovereign Israeli territory, bringing fear and bloodshed to an ordinary Sunday tea time.

They killed two soldiers who were guarding an army post and, infamously, kidnapped a 19-year-old boy, Corporal Gilad Shalit.

He has not been seen since.

The only news of him for his grieving parents and an anxious Israeli nation comes in the form of repeated ransom demands from the Hamas terrorists believed to be holding him hostage on the direct orders of their Syrian-based leader, Khaled Meshaal.

I have a personal connection to these terrible events: Cpl Shalit is a relative of mine.

I do not want to claim that Gilad is more than a distant cousin. He is not.

He is less than half my age and, although I am told we have met, I cannot recall it.

But he represents the sort of direct connection to the land of Israel shared by many, if not most, British Jews.

To me, and to them, this abduction is not just another episode in this long-running conflict, happening in a place far away.

This is not just another anonymous Israeli. It is personal.

Continue to be enlightened while reading "Why Do 'Terrorists' Bomb Innocent Civilians In London But 'Militants' Bomb Innocent Civilians In Tel Aviv?" »

|| Greg, 01:33 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

USS George H. W. Bush Reaches Construction Milestone

I was up at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library yesterday, on a bus trip with a group from church. While in the gift shop, I bought myself a ball cap for the USS George H. W. Bush, CVN 77 -- because this Navy brat has always had a soft spot for ship ball caps, ever since my father gave me one when he was XO of USS Savannah.

Imagine my surprise -- and my pleasure -- to come across this article today.

David Rushing was perched high above the ground Saturday morning in the cab of the big blue crane at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s shipyard.

He was awaiting orders to lift into place the final large piece of the George H.W. Bush, the aircraft carrier being built at the yard. The section to be moved was the 700-ton "island," the tall structure found atop all carriers that houses each ship's bridge, its main flight control center and radar and communications equipment.

On this day, which marked a major milestone in the construction of the 10th and final Nimitz-class carrier, Rushing waited for his instructions. They came from an unlikely source - the ship's namesake and the country's president from 1989 to 1993.

"David Rushing, this is George H. W. Bush," the former president announced via walkie-talkie, while standing under a ceremonial tent on the ship's flight deck. "Are you receiving me clearly in the 900-ton crane?"

Rushing replied: "Yes, sir, Mr. President."

"David, contact your crane crew and hoist the island house and bring it to the flight deck," Bush said.

"I copy, Mr. President. Hoisting the island house to flight deck," Rushing responded."

In October, the USS George H. W. Bush will be formally christened and launched into the James River. In 2008, she will be delivered to the Navy and join the fleet -- a fitting tribute for the youngest man ever to serve as a pilot in the US Navy, a combat veteran who survived to serve his country as a Congressman, UN Ambassador, Special Envoy to China, CIA Director, Vice President, and President.

The former president looks at the matter with typical humility and grace.

"This may be the nicest thing that's ever happened to me," Bush said, adding that he's had "far more than his fair share of nice things" happen to him. "They've named this ship after me and I'm not even dead yet.

"One thing I want to make clear is that I certainly don't feel entitled to this high honor. I feel no sense of entitlement nor sense of possession - simply pride and honor."

And lest we ever forget that the Bush family, while springing from a background of wealth, privilege, and power, is very much an all-American family, is very much a typical American family, consider this little anecdote.

To remember the day, Barbara Bush used her digital camera to snap pictures of the island as it was moved into position. Her husband and daughter posed in front of the massive structure for some shots.

These are folks who could have had any number of pictures taken and fowarded to them by the official photographers. Consider it one of the perks of being a former President and First Lady of the United States -- and the parents of the sitting President. But instead you've got just another family taking pictures for the family album. It sort of reminds you that we have, since the founding of the Republic, strived to avoid aristocracy and made "Citizen" the most honored and honorable title any Anerican can claim.

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT: Conservative Cat, Outside the Beltway, Bacon Bits, Bullwinkle Blog, Stuck on Stupid, Dumb Ox, Blue Star Chronicles, Third World County, Madman Returns, Uncooperative Blogger, Cigar Intelligence Agency, Stop The ACLU, Wizbang

|| Greg, 01:21 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

How Can Deficits Be Dropping?

Tax revenues are up and the deficit is dropping, even though total spending has increased and we are "suffering" from the Bush tax cuts and a "bad" economy.

An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war in Iraq and the cost of hurricane relief.

On Tuesday, White House officials are expected to announce that the tax receipts will be about $250 billion above last year's levels and that the deficit will be about $100 billion less than what they projected six months ago. The rising tide in tax payments has been building for months, but the increased scale is surprising even seasoned budget analysts and making it easier for both the administration and Congress to finesse the big run-up in spending over the past year.

Tax revenues are climbing twice as fast as the administration predicted in February, so fast that the budget deficit could actually decline this year.

The main reason is a big spike in corporate tax receipts, which have nearly tripled since 2003, as well as what appears to be a big increase in individual taxes on stock market profits and executive bonuses.

On Friday, the Congressional Budget Office reported that corporate tax receipts for the nine months ending in June hit $250 billion — nearly 26 percent higher than the same time last year — and that overall revenues were $206 billion higher than at this point in 2005.

Congressional analysts say the surprise windfall could shrink the deficit this year to $300 billion, from $318 billion in 2005 and an all-time high of $412 billion in 2004.

What we are seeing here is that the economy is, in fact, robust, and that the tax cuts have helped stimulate it to produce the new revenues. As the GOP constantly reminds folks, tax cuts raise tax revenue.

The potential problem, though, is that the government has been borrowing from Social Security for decades -- and no the Boomers are preparing to start drawing on the plan in the next two years. Thus there needs to be a long-term fix for taxes, the deficit, and Social Security -- something the Democrats are loath to allow to happen.

|| Greg, 12:22 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Mexican Left Seeks To Gore Presidential Election

Despite the fact that international observers say that the election was clean, the left-wing loser of last week's Mexican presidential election is seeking to use a dual-pronged legal strategy to overturn the results -- including one that that appears to be specificly barred by the Mexican Constitution.

Downtown Mexico City swelled Saturday with the accumulated frustration and rage of the poor, who were stoked into a sign-waving, fist-pumping frenzy by new fraud allegations that failed populist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador hopes will overturn the results of Mexico's presidential election.

López Obrador ignited the smoldering emotions of his followers Saturday morning, alleging for the first time that Mexico's electoral commission had rigged its computers before the July 2 election to ensure the half-percentage-point victory of Felipe Calderón, a champion of free trade. In a news conference before the rally, López Obrador called Calderón "an employee" of Mexico's powerful upper classes and said a victory by his conservative opponent would be "morally impossible."

López Obrador added a new layer of complexity to the crisis by saying he not only would challenge the results in the country's special elections court but also would attempt to have the election declared illegal by Mexico's Supreme Court. That strategy presages a constitutional confrontation because according to many legal experts the special elections court is the only body that can hear election challenges.

Calderón was declared the winner Thursday and has begun publicly presenting his plans for Mexico, even though López Obrador has refused to concede. European Union election observers have said they found no significant irregularities in the vote, and many Mexicans appeared to accept Calderón as their next president.

López Obrador is also using his popularity in Mexico City, where he was mayor, to intimidate the Mexican government into handing the office to him, even though he lost. Mass rallies in the heart of the capital city and unsubstantiated claims of fraud seem designed not to bring about an accurate vote count, but rather a favorable one.

|| Greg, 11:52 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

This Is Distubing

Why is a US Senator using his influence to get a celebrity out of a foreign prison after his conviction on drug charges?

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a musician in his own right, helped secure the release of Atlanta R&B producer Dallas Austin from a United Arab Emirates jail after a drug conviction, the senator's office confirmed Saturday.

In a statement released through his staff, the conservative Republican said he was contacted by Austin's attorneys, then called the ambassador and UAE consul in Washington on Austin's behalf.

A Grammy winner who has produced hits for Madonna, Pink and TLC, Austin was arrested May 19 and convicted of drug possession for bringing 1.26 grams of cocaine into the UAE city of Dubai.

On Tuesday a court sentenced him to four years in jail and said Austin, 34, should be deported after serving the term. Hours later, Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum pardoned and released Austin.

Simply unacceptable.

|| Greg, 11:35 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 08, 2006

Not THAT Ball Game

Rooting for the home team wasn't the only thing on this mascot's agenda.

A man who played the mascot for a minor league baseball team was arrested after a woman said she was fondled at a game in April.

Cecil McLaurin Amick III, 37, of Boiling Springs, portrays Reedy Rip'It, a giant frog for the Greenville Drive of the Class A South Atlantic League. He faces a misdemeanor charge of molesting.

According to an incident report from the Greenville Police Department, the woman said she and a friend were leaving their seats at West End Field when the mascot grabbed her breast in a stairwell.

Dude -- should have stuck with the peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

|| Greg, 04:47 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

This Will Surely Give Fodder To Conspiracists

Hatred of the late Ken Lay runs deep in this country -- especially here in Houston. No surprise, given his role in the Enron collapse.

One man I know said he would not believe that Lay hadn't paid everyone off and faked his death unless a stake was driven through his heart during the funeral. A woman I know said she wanted to go to the viewing and knock on his forehead shouting "Kenny -boy, are you still in there!" And I've seen outrageous internet suggestions, such as that he be strung up by his heels in front of his old office building, like Mussolini was by the Italian peasants after his death.

As a result, I think this family decision will only feed conspiracy theories.

The body of Enron Corp. founder Ken Lay will be cremated and his ashes buried in Aspen, Colo., where he died this week of an apparent heart attack, a newspaper reported Friday.

The Houston Chronicle, quoting a source close to Lay's family, said the cremation and Aspen burial had been Lay's wish because the mountain town, where he once owned several properties, was his favorite place in the world.

The Lay family will hold a private service in Aspen on Sunday for the one-time corporate titan who became a convicted felon, followed by another service in Houston on Wednesday, the newspaper said.

We're sure to hear -- was there really a body? Did he really die? Or is he living in the islands with Tupac?

|| Greg, 04:44 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Cardinal Joseph Zen Zi-kiun -- Hong Kong Cleric Stands Up To Red Chinese

The special status of Hong Kong gives a platform to Cardinal Joseph Zen Zi-kiun, the archbishop of that city. Able to operate openly and with relatively little fear of arrest, he serves as teh visible leader of Chinese Catholics loyal to the Vatican in a nation where such Catholics are subject to serious persecution at th hands of the Red Chinese government and its puppet church.

MASS had scarcely ended on June 4 when a gaggle of young women flocked to the front of the cathedral. Groups of them took turns having their photos taken with the thin, silver-haired 74-year-old who so captured their fancy: Cardinal Joseph Zen Zi-kiun.

He smiled gently for the photos, then walked across an alley to an indoor basketball court with a concrete floor and rusty fans on the walls that barely stirred the warm, humid air. After a youth group had sung religious songs, and after a slide show depicting the Chinese military crackdown in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, he read a strongly worded message calling for residents of Hong Kong to remember their countrymen elsewhere in China.

"The young people who fought and died for democracy in Tiananmen Square were their brothers and sisters," he said in the speech. "After June 4, we can no longer fight selfishly just to win the most rights for Hong Kong."

With his charisma, erudition and dedication to human rights, Cardinal Zen has become a celebrity here, a man wielding considerable political influence as well as religious power. But his high profile and growing influence have antagonized senior officials in mainland China, particularly those who oversee the state-controlled church.

A man of learning in a non-Christian land with a culture of respect for scholars, Cardinal Zen is the sort of man who dictators fear -- a man of faith whose loyalty is to God and not Caesar. Prepare to be inspired by this profile.

|| Greg, 04:33 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 07, 2006

DeLay May Run

I'll be damned -- an option I thought unlikely may come to pass if Judge Sparks' decision is not overturned.

Former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay suggested Friday that he may not be ready for retirement just yet, a day after a federal judge ruled that his name must remain on the November ballot even though he resigned from Congress.

DeLay, who came home to Sugar Land for a previously scheduled event, also criticized U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks' ruling that the former House majority leader's name had to remain on the ballot.

"For this guy to say he can't tell where I'm going to be on Election Day, and that I am forced to be on the ballot, well, they may get exactly what they want," DeLay told supporters to raucous applause. Sparks is a Democrat appointed by Republican former President George Bush.

Later, reporters asked Delay if he now planned to run. He didn't say no.

"We have to wait and see what the 5th Circuit does on appeal," he said.

We may just have to kick Nick Lampson's ass with Tom Delay -- and start grooming GOP candidates for 2008. Because while I believe there is still enough support for Tom DeLay to win this race, I think he is toast in the next primary after this year's mess.

|| Greg, 09:57 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Metastasizing Bush Derangement Syndrome

Over time, BDS enters a terminal phase, complete with suicidal ideations.

Some days the pain is so searing and hot you want to cut off your own head with a nail file. Other days it is numb and pain free and seemingly OK, to the point where you think it might finally be all gone and you allow yourself a whisper of a positive feeling, right up until you look in the mirror, and scream.

George W. Bush is just like that.

Everyone I know has had enough. Everyone I know is just about done. There is this threshold of deadened disgust, this point where the body simply resigns itself to the pain, where the disease, the poison, has seeped so deeply into the bones that you just have to laugh and shrug it all off and go for a drink. Or 10.

Let's help Mark Morford out -- send him a nail file or two.

Mark Morford
San Francisco Chronicle
901 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

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From The Ashes Of Evil Shines A Ray Of Hope

God can make use of the most evil of things.

Croatia's defense ministry has donated a World War II Nazi ship to a local Roman Catholic monastery, which will turn it into a sailing church, the Jutarnji List daily newspaper reported Tuesday.

The landing ship DTM-219 was used by Nazi Germany to transport tanks and infantry. It was given to communist Yugoslavia after 1945 as part of war compensation, it said.

The ship, currently anchored at a Croatian navy port, will be towed to the city of Sibenik, in the central Adriatic, where it will be adapted at a local shipyard.

It will be used as sailing church for the young, who will be able to sail the Adriatic, pray and meditate as part of church-sponsored religious cruises, the daily said.

Some 90 percent of Croatia's 4.4 million people are Roman Catholics. The country, which gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, hopes to join the European Union by the end of this decade.

May God bring people to him by this work, converting a weapon of war into a vessel of grace.

|| Greg, 01:03 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Literary -- And Spiritual -- Giant

Every year, I give my students a homework assignment on the first day of school. I tell them it cannot be tested or collected, but that it will benefit them immensely when they reach college and continue n into adulthood. It isn't, strictly speaking, even a part of my purview -- I teach history -- but it is one I believe will benefit my students in many different ways.

It is a simple reading assignment -- "Between today and graduation in three school years, read the complete King James Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare."

Before the strict separationsits get their panties in a knot, let me make it clear that my pointing them to the KJV is for the sake of cultural literacy, not religious conversion. Along with Shakespeare, the KJV is one of the great well-springs of Anglo-American culture, and has great influence on the development of English as spoken today. Perhaps the most worthwhile class I took in college was "The Bible as English Literature", for it opened new horizons to me in literature, art, music and historical studies.

The KJV even shapes American history, as is pointed out in this article.

In 1911 the English-speaking world paused to mark the 300th anniversary of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, with American political leaders foremost in the chorus of exaltation. To former president Theodore Roosevelt, this Bible translation was "the Magna Carta of the poor and the oppressed . . . the most democratic book in the world." Soon-to-be president Woodrow Wilson said much the same thing: "The Bible (with its individual value of the human soul) is undoubtedly the book that has made democracy and been the source of all progress."

Americans at the time mostly agreed with these sentiments, because the impact of the KJV was everywhere so obvious. It was obvious for business, with major firms like Harper & Brothers having risen to prominence on the back of its Bible publishing. It was obvious in the physical landscape and in many households because of the widespread use of Bible names for American places (95 variations on Salem) and the nation's children (John, James, Sarah, Rebecca). It was obvious in literature, as with the memorable opening of Herman Melville's Moby Dick: "Call me Ishmael." And it was obvious in politics, with no occasion more memorable than March 4, 1865, when four quotations from the KJV framed Abraham Lincoln's incomparable Second Inaugural Address: Genesis 3:19 ("wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces"); Matthew 18:7 ("woe unto the world because of offences!"); Matthew 7:1 ("judge not that we be not judged"); and Psalm 19:9 ("the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether").

I commend the article -- and the Book that it praises -- to your attention and encourage their study.

|| Greg, 09:00 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

New York Bomb Plot

The New York Daily News is reporting on a plot to blow up the Holland Tunnel in New York City, which was hoped to cause the flooding of Lower Manhattan and the incredible economic disruption that would entail, along with massive loss of life.

The FBI has uncovered what officials consider a serious plot by jihadists to bomb the Holland Tunnel in hopes of causing a torrent of water to deluge lower Manhattan, the Daily News has learned.

The terrorists sought to drown the Financial District as New Orleans was by Hurricane Katrina, sources said. They also wanted to attack subways and other tunnels.

Counterterrorism officials are alarmed by the "lone wolf" terror plot because they allegedly got a pledge of financial and tactical support from Jordanian associates of top terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before he was killed in Iraq, a counterterrorism source told The News.

It's not clear, however, if any cash or assistance was delivered.

The News has learned that at the request of U.S. officials, authorities in Beirut arrested one of the alleged conspirators, identified as Amir Andalousli, in recent months. Agents were scrambling yesterday to try to nab other suspects, sources said.

This is a plan that could have actually worked, according to some experts.

It was uncovered by monitoring Internet chat-rooms, and there are additional individuals being sought besides Andalousli.

The New York Times indicates that Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Peter King are confirming the report. So are law enforcement sources -- but with a possible twist.

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York Representative Peter T. King of Long Island confirmed a report in The Daily News today, which said that the man arrested in Lebanon and an unknown number of other people had discussed exploding a bomb to disrupt the system.

The News said the plot focused on the Holland Tunnel, and said the plotters hoped that a bomb detonated under the Hudson River would crack the tunnel and flood Lower Manhattan.

But a law enforcement official said today that the tunnel was not the target of the plot, and Mr. King said in an interview that he "would agree" with that assessment. In a televised interview, Mr. Schumer referred to the Lincoln Tunnel, rather than the Holland.

Mr. King and Mr. Schumer both said that the plot had been caught in its early stages. Mr. King said that he had been informed on an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department nine months ago.

I just overheard a report on the television that the plan may have been directed at the subway system and not the roadway system -- which would make more sense, given the widespread system of tunnels underneath Manhattan.

I certainly hope that the investigation did not involve monitoring phone calls or financial transactions -- the Times will becalling for this mutt's release from jail and the prosecution of those who saved New York from another terrorist attack.

MORE AT LaShawn Barber, Captain’s Quarters, A Blog For All, The Stata-Sphere, Hot Air, The Ranting Profs, Michelle Malkin

|| Greg, 08:49 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Congratulations, Jimmy And Rosalynn Carter

Some things transcend politics -- and whatever I think of Jimmy Carter as a political figure, I cannot help but be gratified by the example of marital love and faithfulness he and his beautiful wife have given to America.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, fresh off of a trip to Nicaragua to monitor preparations for November's elections, plan to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary Friday with a quiet day in their Georgia hometown.

In the long line of American presidents and first ladies, the Carters have the second longest marriage. George and Barbara Bush have been married for 61 years.

Jimmy Carter is 81. Rosalynn Carter is 78. They have four children and 11 grandchildren, and are expecting their first great-grandchild in September.

Friends and associates say the Carters remain as active as ever two and a half decades after leaving the White House.

"They continue to be full partners in the post-presidency to this day," said Deanna Congileo, spokeswoman for the couple. "They're continuing the work of the Carter Center, strengthening democracy, advancing human rights and ending suffering around the world."

Congileo said the Carters have no fancy plans to celebrate the anniversary _ "a quiet day in Plains," she said.

And may you share many more years of love and devotion together.

|| Greg, 08:23 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Racists, Nazis Joining Military?

If this report is true (consider the sources -- the New York Times and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both arguably extremist hate groups themselves), then I am disturbed.

A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines.

"We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," the group quoted a Defense Department investigator as saying in a report to be posted today on its Web site, "That's a problem."

Looking at the group's website, the following claims are made.

"Last year, for the first time, they didn't make their recruiting goals. They don't want to start making a big deal again about neo-Nazis in the military, because then parents who are already worried about their kids signing up and dying in Iraq are going to be even more reluctant about their kids enlisting if they feel they'll be exposed to gangs and white supremacists."

Barfield, who is based at Fort Lewis, said he has identified and submitted evidence on 320 extremists there in the past year. "Only two have been discharged," he said. Barfield and other Department of Defense investigators said they recently uncovered an online network of 57 neo-Nazis who are active duty Army and Marines personnel spread across five military installations in five states -- Fort Lewis; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Camp Pendleton, Calif. "They're communicating with each other about weapons, about recruiting, about keeping their identities secret, about organizing within the military," Barfield said. "Several of these individuals have since been deployed to combat missions in Iraq."

Every year, the Army's Criminal Investigation Division conducts a threat assessment of extremist and gang activity among army personnel. "Every year, they come back with 'minimal activity,' which is inaccurate," said Barfield. "It's not epidemic, but there's plenty of evidence we're talking numbers well into the thousands, just in the Army."

There are a number of specific instances of scuzzy individuals documented.

This closely follows a report six weeks ago in the Chicago Sun-Times about signs of street gang activity in the military.

These reports are disturbing, to say the least -- but I wonder if they are really accurate.

|| Greg, 08:11 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

NK Missile Launch Directed At Hawaii

Over at the Jawa Report and Ace of Spades note a report that the North Korean missile the other day may have been headed to Hawaii as a warning of the vulnerability of the Pacific Fleet.

North Korea targeted waters near Hawaii when it test fired a long-range missile this week, according to a Japanese newspaper.

Japanese and US defence officials, after analysing the missile's path from intelligence data, have concluded that the Taepodong-2, had been targeted near the Pacific island, the conservative daily Sankei newspaper said.

The test missile was one of seven test launches launched on Wednesday that fell into the Sea of Japan, causing no damage.

The determination was reached by analysing the angle of its nose cone immediately after its launch and the altitude it reached, the newspaper said.

Defence experts analysed the missile target based on data collected by Aegis-equipped destroyers and RC-135S electronic reconnaissance aircraft, it said.

Do we need any additional basis to take action against the North Korean dictatorship?

|| Greg, 07:41 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

July 06, 2006

Where Is MacStansbury.Org?

Mysterious announcement over at that popular site.

Due to some possible legal drama, I have to take offline.

All the stuff is still there, you just can't see it.

What's maddening is that I can't bring up the stuff that isn't bad, because then you could look at what was there before, and compare it to what's there now, and triangulate the difference. So, all of it - down.

To be clear, it wasn't anything anybody else posted as far a blog-post goes. To say any more would give the whole thing away. And, as I've said, legal drama.

Since a couple of people have asked, I'm not YET in legal hot water, I am AVOIDING legal problems as quickly as possible.

We will be keeping you in thoughts and prayers as you go through this. Hope to see you back very soon.

(H/T Alabama Improper)

|| Greg, 11:04 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Stewart Motion Beyond Belief

I cannot believe that this treasonous, terrorist-aiding bitch has the audacity to make a request like this!

Attorneys for civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart have asked a judge to spare her a prison sentence for her conviction in a terrorism case despite a recommendation by the federal probation department that she serve 30 years.

The attorneys filed papers Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan asking that the judge take into consideration Stewart's bout with breast cancer, her age, 66, and three decades of selfless service as a lawyer in sentencing her on Sept. 25.

One lawyer, Elizabeth Fink, called a U.S. Probation Department pre-sentencing report that recommended Stewart serve the maximum possible sentence of 30 years "draconian, inhumane and ludicrous."

Good God! The woman used her position as a lawyer to aid a terrorist in setting up terrorist attacks. To claim that her legal work is a basis for leniency is like a doctor who intentionally gave drugs intended to murder a patient seeking a lesser sentence because of his work as a physician.

Put her away -- all thirty years -- and let her rot. She deserves to die in prison.

|| Greg, 09:12 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Imagine The Response If A Republican Said This

Republicans are presumed to be bigots by the Left, despite the long history of Democrat intolerance. Not to mention comments like this that regularly fall from the mouths of Democrat politicians.

They say the main thing standing between Joe Biden and the White House is Joe Biden’s mouth.

The would-be presidential candidate proved it again on a recent trip to New Hampshire, where C-Span cameras caught him telling an Indian-American activist that Indian-Americans are the fastest-growing immigrant group in Delaware.

In fact, Biden said, “You cannot go into a Dunkin Donuts or a 7-Eleven unless you have a slight Indian accent.”

I'm curious -- where is the uproar? Where is the outrage? Certainly this is much more offensive than Trent Lott's courtly compliment to a centenarian.

MORE AT: Michelle Malkin, Real Clear Politics, Hotline Blog, Hot Air, Iowa Voice, Ed Driscoll, Plains Feeder, Old War Dogs, Two Babes & A Brain, Stuck On Stupid, Irish Pennants

|| Greg, 09:06 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||