Amy Holmes called it

April 30, 2008

Amy Holmes predicted the latest Wright-Obama developments back on March 18.

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Obama revises his relationship with Wright

April 30, 2008

Now that Wright is politically radioactive, Obama has decided that Wright never was his spiritual mentor:

Now, to some degree, you know — I know that one thing that he said was true, was that he wasn’t — you know, he was never my, quote-unquote, “spiritual adviser.”

He was never my “spiritual mentor.” He was — he was my pastor. And so to some extent, how, you know, the — the press characterized in the past that relationship, I think, wasn’t accurate.

Jim Lindgren does a LEXIS search, and finds a dozen stories describing Wright that way, many with direct quotes.  (Via Instapundit.)

I don’t doubt it will again be the media’s fault for quoting him accurately.


Instructor sues over bad course evaluations

April 30, 2008

Dartmouth gets another black eye, courtesy of one of its English instructors. One Priya Venkatesan, after (deservedly) receiving profoundly negative course evaluations, decides to sue:

Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2008 20:56:35 -0400 (EDT)
From: Priya.Venkatesan@Dartmouth.EDU
To: “WRIT.005.17.18-WI08”:;, Priya.Venkatesan@Dartmouth.EDU
Subject: WRIT.005.17.18-WI08: Possible lawsuit

Dear former class members of Science, Technology and Society:

I tried to send an email through my server but got undelivered messages. I regret to inform you that I am pursuing a lawsuit in which I am accusing some of you (whom shall go unmentioned in this email) of violating Title VII of anti-federal [SIC] discrimination laws.
The feeling that I am getting from the outside world is that Dartmouth is considered a bigoted place, so this may not be news and I may be successful in this lawsuit.
I am also writing a book detailing my experiences as your instructor, which will “name names” so to speak. I have all of your evaluations and these will be reproduced in the book.

Have a nice day.

One’s first inclination is that this has to be a hoax, not just because of the idea of a lawsuit over course evaluations, but also because the person who wrote this was teaching English at Dartmouth. Nevertheless, the story seems to be for real. Still, I’m pretty sure Ms. Venkatesan hasn’t yet consulted a lawyer.

I think someone is about to be bumped from the Internet’s most hated people.

(Via Roger’s Rules, via Instapundit.)

CORRECTION: Venkatesan is an instructor, not a professor.  (Corrected the title, but I can’t correct the permalink.)

UPDATE: Another one sues his students!  This one is an actual professor, apparently, and a law professor to boot.  (Via Instapundit.)


Hypocrisy, thy name is Howard Dean

April 29, 2008

A new DNC ad attacking McCain prominently features the 100-years calumny yet again. Then it goes on to show two soldiers apparently being blown up by an IED.

This is the same party that thought it was unacceptable for President Bush to “politicize” 9/11 by using its images in his re-election campaign.

ASIDE: Confederate Yankee tracks down the clip and finds that both soldiers survived the blast. Also, the clip comes from Fahrenheit 911, Michael Moore’s notorious propaganda piece.

Dean tries to defend the 100-years aspect:

On Meet the Press Sunday, DNC chair Howard Dean defended the ad, saying, “we’re not arguing that he’s going to be at war for a hundred years. We don’t think we ought to be in Iraq for a hundred years under any circumstances.”

That won’t wash. They use images of war and quote casualties. They are clearly implying 100 years of war.

(Via Instapundit.)


Obama disowns Wright

April 29, 2008

Here’s the AP story. No word at this hour on Obama’s grandmother.

UPDATE: I wasn’t the only one this occurred to.

UPDATE:

“I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992, and have known Reverend Wright for 20 years,” Obama said. “The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago.”

Oh, come on! You expect us to believe that Wright had a big change in character, and it just so happened to occur exactly when people started paying attention to him? Sheesh.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE:

“And what I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I’m about knows that I am about trying to bridge gaps and I see the commonality in all people,” [Obama said.]

In all the stuff Wright said (e.g., the United States created HIV to commit genocide against minorities), the thing that particularly angered Obama was that Wright called him a politician. (Via the Corner.)

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Wright agrees with me.  (There’s a sentence I never I thought I’d use!)  (Via the Corner.)

He sounds bitter.  Maybe that explains his antipathy toward people who aren’t like him.


Syrian reactor could have produced two bombs within a year

April 29, 2008

CIA Director Hayden:

“In the course of a year after they got full up they would have produced enough plutonium for one or two weapons,” Hayden told reporters after a speech at Georgetown University. . .

U.S. intelligence and administration officials publicly disclosed last week their assessment that Syria was building a covert nuclear reactor with North Korean assistance. . . The Syrian site, they said, was within weeks or months of being operational.

As Glenn Reynolds says, good thing it was destroyed then. But, Mohamed ElBaradei doesn’t see it that way:

The head of the UN nuclear monitoring agency on Friday criticized the US for not giving his organization intelligence information sooner on what Washington says was a nuclear reactor in Syria being built secretly by North Korea.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei also chastised Israel for bombing the site seven months ago, in a statement whose strong language reflected his anger at being kept out of the picture for so long. . .

“The director general views the unilateral use of force by Israel as undermining the due process of verification that is at the heart of the nonproliferation regime,” it said.

In full knowledge that the reactor would have produced two bombs in a year, ElBaradei is still against the Israeli operation. I think we can safely say that the IAEA is fundamentally unserious. To them, “nonproliferation” isn’t about preventing proliferation, it’s about verifying proliferation. Hmm, I wonder why we and Israel weren’t hurrying to give them our classified intelligence.


Roller derby in the news

April 29, 2008

My sister’s roller derby team, the Camaro Harem, made the Everett Herald and is featured on the web edition’s front page. For those who haven’t been following, roller derby is a real sport now, at least in western Washington.


Female Saudi teachers face killer commute

April 29, 2008

The AP reports on the high number of deaths of Saudi women commuting to teaching jobs. Here’s how the problem arises:

  1. “Job opportunities are scarce for women in Saudi Arabia, mainly limited to teaching and health care.” (I doubt we’re talking about radiology, either.)
  2. “The Saudi Education Ministry appoints thousands of male and female teachers to fill vacancies every year at government-run schools in remote areas.”
  3. “Female teachers find it difficult to move because they need permission from a male guardian to live alone and have to find a landlord willing to rent them an apartment.”
  4. As a result, many women live in the city and commute to remote rural areas.
  5. “Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, so the teachers must hire drivers — sometimes sharing rides in minivans, leaving home as early as 3 a.m.
  6. The Saudi roads on which female teachers spend countless hours are among the most dangerous in the world:

    Nearly 6,000 people died in traffic accidents in 2007 in this country of 27.6 million, according to the Saudi Traffic Department. That is a rate of around 21 deaths per 100,000 people — one of the highest in the world. By comparison, around 14 per 100,000 people were killed in road accidents in the United States in 2006, according to the most recent statistics from the Transportation Department.

  7. As a result, female teachers are dying in car accidents at an alarming rate:

    A study released in October by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology found that female teachers commuting to their jobs have about a 50 percent greater chance of getting into car accidents than average Saudi citizens. Its findings were based on figures from the late 1990s.

The worst thing about this is how little I’m shocked.


Supreme Court upholds Indiana voter ID law

April 28, 2008

AP reports.


The gospel according to Michelle

April 28, 2008

Somehow I missed this when I happened, so I’m grateful to Power Line for pointing it out again. In a speech at UCLA earlier this year, Michelle Obama described her husband’s messianic qualities:

We have to compromise and sacrifice for one another in order to get things done. That is why I am here. Because Barack Obama is the only person in this race who understands that. That before we can work on the problems we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.

If we can’t see ourselves in one another we will never make those sacrifices. So I am here right now because I am married to the only person in this race who has a chance of healing this nation. . .

Barack, as Oprah said, is one of the most brilliant men you will meet in our lifetime. Barack is more than ready. He’ll be ready today. He’ll be ready on day one. He’ll be ready in a year from now. Five years from now. He is ready. That is not the question.

Okay, I’m frightened now. Obama is not Jesus. Does Obama really see himself as the one to fix my broken soul?

It gets scarier, because it isn’t just about Obama. No, it’s also about what Obama will require of us:

Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your division. That you come out of your isolation. That you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual; uninvolved, uninformed.

Got that? Obama will require our complete psychological reconfiguration so we can carry out his agenda.

In context, it’s fairly clear that Mrs. Obama is not talking about a Soviet-style campaign of re-education and psychological adjustment. She is talking about what we must all do as Obama’s disciples. She truly sees him as a christ for America.

Does he? God help us if he does.


Starship Troopers 3

April 28, 2008

. . . to be released this year.  I’m not kidding.  I didn’t even know they’d made a second.  Based on the reviews, Starship Troopers 2 was even worse than the original movie.  I scarcely would have thought that possible.  Heinlein must be rolling in his grave.


Questions raised by Rendell’s work on Clinton campaign

April 27, 2008

Pennsylvania Republicans wonder about Governor Rendell’s efforts on behalf of the Clinton campaign:

For most of the primary campaign, Gov. Ed Rendell acted as a “super staffer” for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, raising serious questions about his use of state resources for political purposes, a state House GOP spokesman says. . .

“The vast majority of the governor’s campaign activity was either very early in the morning, in the evening or on weekends and did not interfere with his full time job,” said Rendell’s spokesman Chuck Ardo. “He merely added hours to a routinely hectic schedule by getting less sleep.

“Additionally, he flew to campaign events on commercial airlines and paid his own way, and he reimbursed the commonwealth for the use of his office phone to a far greater extent than the charges incurred,” Ardo said. “No one got short-changed by this governor’s work ethic, and no one needs to be concerned about the misuse of state resources.”

This doesn’t seem like a profitable tack to me.  Rendell has had his ethical problems, but absent any evidence to the contrary, I’d be surprised if he’d be so sloppy as to spend state resources on the Clinton campaign.  As far as his own time goes, the less time Rendell dedicates to state business the better.


Obama flag-pin controversy continues

April 27, 2008

The world’s stupidest Obama controversy is given new legs . . . by Obama. At a town hall in Kokomo, Indiana, Obama takes up the topic yet again:

“Then I was asked about this in Iowa,” Obama said. “And somebody said ‘Why don’t you wear a flag pin?’ I said, well, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I said, although I will say that sometimes I notice that they’re people who wear flag pins but they don’t always act patriotic. And I was specifically referring to politicians, not individuals who wear flag pins, but politicians who you see wearing flag pins and then vote against funding for veterans, saying we can’t afford it.”

(What Obama said last October was: “You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq War, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.”)

Obama continued, saying “so I make this comment. suddenly a bunch of these, you know, TV commentators and bloggers (say) ‘Obama is disrespecting people who wear flag pins.’ Well, that’s just not true. Also, another way of saying it is, it’s a lie.”

(Interjection in original.) One thing I’ve noticed about Obama is a bizarre inability to take anything back, be it his statements about Jeremiah Wright (e.g., “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial”), his claim that rural Americans are religious because of bitterness about the economy, or his bizarre foreign policy pronouncements (e.g., we should invade Pakistan).

No, when Obama wishes his remarks would go away, he doesn’t retract them: either he retroactively rewords them, or he makes it someone else’s fault for bringing them up, or (most often) both. This is a perfect example. First, he rewords his remarks. (For our convenience, ABC juxtaposes his revised comment with the original.) Then, he counter-attacks against those who quoted him, calling them liars.

To my mind, there is no one more a scoundrel than the man who lies in accusing another man of lying. Here, it’s the journalists and bloggers who accurately quoted Obama’s remark that get the treatment.

PS: Lest I commit the same offense, let me concede that Obama left himself some wiggle room here. He doesn’t name anyone in particular, and no one actually makes the statement that Obama cites. (At least, Google gets no hits on the phrase, other than this very story.) So, even if nearly everyone quoted his remarks accurately, he could probably find someone who lied, and say that’s who he meant.

(Via LGF.)

(Previous post.)


Mugabe abducts two dozen babies

April 27, 2008

Robert “Get behind the fist” Mugabe’s latest atrocity in his reign of terror hits a new low:

Scores of children and babies have been locked up in filthy prison cells in Harare as Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, sinks to new depths in his campaign to force the opposition into exile before an expected run-off in presidential elections.

Twenty-four babies and 40 children under the age of six were among the 250 people rounded up in a raid on Friday, according to Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Yesterday they were crammed into cells in Southerton police station in central Harare. . .

The families were rounded up from MDC headquarters, where they had sought refuge from violence in the countryside.

The abduction of children is just one element in a systematic campaign of murder and intimidation:

Thought to be directed by top military officers, Operation Where Did You Put Your Cross? has prompted thousands to flee. They are trying to escape the so-called war veterans, who are attacking people and burning down hundreds of houses for voting “incorrectly” in last month’s elections. . .

The regime’s strategy is to ensure that by the time of the run-off, Mugabe would have a clean sweep in rural areas, where 70% of Zimbabweans live. A police officer admitted yesterday that he had been instructed not to interfere with war veterans as they carry out their campaign of terror.

(Via the Corner.)


Formula journalism

April 27, 2008

Roger Kimball analyzes the NYT’s formula for McCain hit pieces:

1. Prissy introductory sentence or two noting that Mr. McCain has a reputation [read “unearned reputation”] for taking the ethical high road on issues like campaign finance reform.

2. “The-Times-has-learned” sentence intimating some tort or misbehavior.

3. A paragraph or two of exposition that simultaneously reveals that a) Mr. McCain actually didn’t do anything wrong but b) he would have if only the law had been different and besides everyone knows he is guilty in spirit.

(Via Instapundit.)

In the latest case, the “misbehavior” is that McCain sometimes rides on his wife’s plane, which saves him some money. The NYT concedes that this violates no campaign finance rules, but the FEC has considered changing the rules. That’s it.

Pathetic.


Hamas plans a hudna

April 26, 2008

Fox News reports:

The chief of Hamas said Saturday that the Palestinian militant group would accept an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel but it would be a “tactic” in the group’s struggle with the Jewish state. . .

“It is a tactic in conducting the struggle. … It is normal for any resistance … to sometimes escalate, other times retreat a bit. … Hamas is known for that. In 2003, there was a cease-fire and then the operations were resumed.”


Victory defined

April 26, 2008

Frederick Kagan asks how we’ll know when we’ve won in Iraq, and has an answer.


Obama really really doesn’t understand guns

April 26, 2008

Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft notes that Obama is all over the map on gun control. (Via Instapundit.) Nothing surprising here, except this jaw-dropper:

There has not been any evidence that allowing people to carry a concealed weapon is going to make anybody safer.

What?!  Nobody is safer for carrying a gun?  Seriously?  Nobody at all?  Hell, I can name two recent cases just involving pizza deliverymen.


Pournelle on criminalizing policy differences

April 26, 2008

Jerry Pournelle has a very interesting, and frightening, insight:

The Democrats seem to be drifting toward the concept of prosecution of former office holders by criminalizing policy differences. That’s a certain formula for civil war; perhaps not immediate, but inevitable. The absolute minimum requirement for democratic government is that the loser be willing to lose the election: that losing an election is not the loss of everything that matters. As soon as that assurance is gone, playing by the rules makes no sense at all. (Pinochet learned that lesson. Fortunately for Chile, he was old and was allowed to die in peace; the inevitable — liberals can always find a good reason not to keep their word — persecutions after he turned over power on the assurance that he would be allowed to retire in peace were not so severe that his adherents didn’t take to their weapons.)

Via Instapundit, who adds an interesting email about the Roman civil war.  I’m not so sure Caesar was a republican to the core, but the point doesn’t seem to rely on that.


Historic gas prices

April 25, 2008

David Freddoso has a post about Nancy Pelosi’s ignorance and deceit on gas prices.  Apropos to that, here’s a graph of gasoline prices at the pump since 1979, real and nominal.  I was interested to see that real gas prices are indeed high now, flirting with their peak in the early 1980s.  They spiked in mid-2005, started fluctuating wildly and settled into the higher price in mid-2007.  (If we’re in a recession now, that has to be a significant cause.)  On the other hand, the recent spike in the nominal price is all due to inflation.  Real prices haven’t changed much since mid-2007.


Two oddly cool videos

April 25, 2008

These two metal-shaping videos (one, two) are surprisingly cool.  I’m not sure why.  (Via Instapundit.)


The men in black vanish

April 25, 2008

The Iraqi Army’s defeat of the militias in Basra is paying immediate dividends for the people of Basra:

Young women are daring to wear jeans, soldiers listen to pop music on their mobile phones and bands are performing at wedding parties again.

All across Iraq’s second city life is improving, a month after Iraqi troops began a surprise crackdown on the black-clad gangs who were allowed to flourish under the British military. The gunmen’s reign had enforced a strict set of religious codes.

Yet after three years of being terrified of kidnap, rape and murder – a fate that befell scores of other women – Nadyia Ahmed, 22, is among those enjoying a sense of normality, happy for the first time to attend her science course at Basra University. . .

She also no longer has to wear a headscarf. Under the strict Islamic rules imposed by the militias, women had to cover their hair, could not wear jeans or bright clothes and were strictly forbidden from sitting next to male colleagues on pain of death.

“All these men in black [who imposed the laws] just vanished from the university after this operation,” said Ms Ahmed. “Things have completely changed over the past week.”

(Via Instapundit.)

Read the whole thing; there’s too much good news here to pull quotes.

A couple of observations. First, we were told for years that the British “softly, softly” strategy was superior to the American strategy.  It may well have been, when our strategy was to defeat the enemy and then leave.  But now that we have decided to defeat the enemy then stay and keep them defeated, we’re succeeding where “softly, softly” failed:

The contrast could not be more stark with the last time The Times visited Basra in December, when intimidation was rife.

Many blame the British for allowing the militias to grow. “If they sent competent Iraqi troops to Basra in the early stages it would have limited the damage that happened in our city,” said Hameed Hashim, 39, who works for the South Oil Company.

Second, the above can teach us an important lesson.  We’ve learned clearly on the small scale that defeat-and-depart does not work; you eventually need to return and fight again.  Why would anyone think that it would work on the large scale?  But that’s exactly what the Democrats are proposing.  Al Qaeda is largely defeated but not annihilated.  If we left, we would be handing the country over to some of the worst butchers in the world, and eventually we would have to invade all over again.

In their more practical moments, some Democrats have seemed to suggest a limited withdrawal from Iraq, one that would leave us with a limited presence there, but not on the front lines.  That is, they want to employ the softly-softly strategy, which has also been shown to be a failure.

We need to employ the one strategy that has worked in Iraq: defeat-and-hold.  We need to stay in Iraq until the locals are capable of defending themselves.  That’s the strategy that will be least costly in the long run.  Anything else ignores the clear lesson of this war.


NYT reports good news in Iraq

April 25, 2008

Heh:

A week ago, I noted that the Sunnis that had left Nouri al-Maliki’s government last year in a huff had decided to return. A week later, the New York Times has reported on it, making it true.


Victory in Basra

April 25, 2008

The London Times has an interesting piece on how the Iraqi Army won in Basra. It claims that the key factor was Iran cutting off support for Sadr:

Once the British withdrew from the city centre to Basra airport last summer, the situation changed. Suddenly it was Moqtadr al-Sadr and his rag-tag fighters who were the dominant force in the Basra region. The Iranian backed Badr Organisation, which is well represented in Iraq’s police and military, was sidelined. There were real fears that the Sadrists could consolidate their gains on the ground in local elections planned for October and eclipse the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Badr’s political wing.

For once the interests of America, Britain, Iran and the Iraqi government coincided with disastrous results for Mr al-Sadr and his fighters. Isolated and abandoned they fled, were captured or killed from what were once their impregnable fiefdoms in Basra. Mr al-Sadr was left to lick his wounds and complain that the Government had forgotten that they were all “brothers”.

(Via Ace, via Instapundit.)

This is at odds with much of the other reporting, so I’m not sure I buy it, but it’s food for thought.

What this does illustrate is that the media was grossly premature in declaring defeat.  In fact, the Basra operation has proven to be a total victory for the Iraqi government.  (It reminds me of the week during the invasion that we were supposedly losing.  Heaven knows how they would have reported the Battle of the Bulge!)


Iran harasses US Navy again

April 25, 2008

Fox News reports.  We should skip the warning shots next time.


Drew Carey takes on the LA health dept.

April 25, 2008

When bacon is outlawed, only outlaws will sell bacon.  (Via the Corner.)


Orbital mechanics revisited

April 24, 2008

A month ago I mentioned an Economist article about how spacecraft are not behaving quite as expected. A physicist friend of mine e-mails:

The sling-shot anomaly you asked about is taken seriously enough to have been published in Phys Rev Letters last month. Of course it COULD indicate undreamed of physics. But it’s more likely to be a subtle systematic error.

The same first author (Anderson) is also on the 1998 paper on the Pioneer anomaly which seemed to indicate that Pioneer 10 and 11 were accelerating towards the sun a little more than they should. That’s been a thorn in the side of general relativity for some time now. That effect has now been PARTLY explained by a rather prosaic effect: the heat from the plutonium power source warms the spacecraft which radiate thermal radiation. But, because of their composition, it turns out that they radiate more in front of them than behind. So radiation pressure slows them down…. how annoying… but not exciting.

As a condition to posting his email, my friend asks me to point out that he is not an expert. Noted. He knows much more than I do, though.


Chinese arms shipment turns back

April 24, 2008

This is what passes for good news in Zimbabwe these days:

Earlier on Thursday, a Chinese ship carrying armaments made by a Chinese state-owned company and bound for Zimbabwe headed back to China without unloading its cargo of bullets and mortar bombs, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry confirmed at a briefing Thursday.

“The Chinese company has already decided to send the military goods back to China in the same vessel, the An Yue Jiang,” the spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, said. . .

China’s decision to turn the ship around was welcomed by the dock workers, trade unionists, religious leaders, Western diplomats and human rights workers who have been campaigning since last week to block delivery of the weapons to Zimbabwe.

They had said the weaponry could be used to carry out an even more violent crackdown on Zimbabwe’s political opposition, which is allied with the country’s unionized workers.

“This is a great victory for the trade union movement in particular and civil society in general in putting its foot down and saying we will not allow weapons that could be used to kill and maim our fellow workers and Zimbabweans to be transported across South Africa,” said Patrick Craven, spokesman for the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which represents 1.9 million South African workers. China’s strategic retreat in delivering the weapons also allows it to avoid Zimbabwe-related protests over its human rights record before it hosts the Olympic Games this summer.

Also, the State Department has decided to acknowledge what everyone knows:

Turning up the pressure on President Robert Mugabe, the top United States envoy to Africa declared Zimbabwe’s opposition leader the “clear victor” in the nation’s disputed presidential election. . .

“This is a government rejecting the will of the people,” she said, referring to the government’s refusal to announce who won the presidential election last month, despite independent projections that placed the opposition ahead. “If they had voted for Mugabe the results would already have been announced. Everyone knows what time it is.”


North Koreans taped at Syrian reactor

April 24, 2008

The Syrian facility bombed by Israel last September was almost certainly a nuclear reactor of North Korean design, reports the Washington Post:

A video taken inside a secret Syrian facility last summer convinced the Israeli government and the Bush administration that North Korea was helping to construct a reactor similar to one that produces plutonium for North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, according to senior U.S. officials who said it would be shared with lawmakers today.

The officials said the video of the remote site, code-named Al Kibar by the Syrians, shows North Koreans inside. It played a pivotal role in Israel’s decision to bomb the facility late at night last Sept. 6. . .

Sources familiar with the video say it also shows that the Syrian reactor core’s design is the same as that of the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, including a virtually identical configuration and number of holes for fuel rods. It shows “remarkable resemblances inside and out to Yongbyon,” a U.S. intelligence official said. A nuclear weapons specialist called the video “very, very damning.”

(Via Instapundit.)

This tidbit is also interesting:

Nuclear weapons analysts and U.S. officials predicted that CIA Director Michael V. Hayden’s planned disclosures to Capitol Hill could complicate U.S. efforts to improve relations with North Korea as a way to stop its nuclear weapons program. . .

The timing of the congressional briefing is nonetheless awkward for the Bush administration’s diplomatic initiative to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and permanently disable the reactor at Yongbyon. The CIA’s hand was forced, officials said, because influential lawmakers had threatened to cut off funding for the U.S. diplomatic effort unless they received a full account of what the administration knew.

Thanks Congress!

UPDATE: The Washington Times has more:

The Bush administration will tell Congress tomorrow that a nuclear facility in Syria built with North Korean help was nearly complete when Israel bombed it in September, and that Pyongyang has not provided any further nuclear assistance to the hard-line Arab nation, at least at that site, U.S. officials said.

(Via LGF.)


Pelosi 4:22

April 24, 2008

Nancy Pelosi quotes some “scripture” on Earth Day:

The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, ‘To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.’

Huh? Where exactly in the Old Testament would that be? Biblical scholars are equally puzzled:

John J. Collins, the Holmes professor of Old Testament criticism and interpretation at Yale Divinity School, said he is totally unfamiliar with Pelosi’s quotation.

“(It’s) not one that I recognize,” Collins told Cybercast News Service. “I assume that she means this is a paraphrase. But it wouldn’t be a close paraphrase to anything I know of.”

Claude Mariottini, a professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Cybercast News Service the passage not only doesn’t exist – it’s “fictional.”

“It is not in the Bible,” Mariottini said. “There is nothing that even approximates that.”

In fact, one hardly has to be a Bible scholar to recognize Pelosi’s quote as unlikely. Although the Bible definitely suggests that we should be good stewards of creation, to call doing so “an act of worship” sounds awfully close to idolatry.

Mark Goodwin, an associate professor of theology at the University of Dallas, said Pelosi’s quote only reflects a partial Scriptural truth, at best.

“‘To minister to the needs of creation is an act of worship’ doesn’t sound right to my ears,” Goodwin said. “To minister to the needs of creation’- yes, but not as an act of worship. I’m not sure what she meant by that, and if I were there, I would have raised my hand and asked her to clarify that.”

Mariottini doesn’t mince words:

“People try to use the Bible to give authority to what they are trying to say,” he said. “(This) is one of those texts that you fabricate in order to support what you want to say.”

(Via Instapundit.)


Mexican official steals White House BlackBerries

April 24, 2008

Fox News reports:

Sources with knowledge of the incident said the official, Rafael Quintero Curiel, served as the lead press advance person for the Mexican Delegation. . . He took six or seven of the handheld devices from a table outside a special room in the hotel where the Mexican delegation was meeting with President Bush earlier this week. . .

It didn’t take long before Secret Service officials reviewed videotape taken by a surveillance camera and found footage showing Quintero Curiel absconding with the BlackBerries.

Sources said Quintero Curiel made it all the way to the airport before Secret Service officers caught up with him. He initially denied taking the devices, but after agents showed him the DVD, Quintero Curiel said it was purely accidental, gave them back, claimed diplomatic immunity and left New Orleans with the Mexican delegation.

If Mexican officials don’t punish this guy, they will be making themselves complicit in his espionage.

UPDATE: The linked article has been updated:

Mexican Embassy spokesman Ricardo Alday said Thursday he was asked to tender his resignation once he arrived back in Mexico City.

“Mr. Quintero will be responsible for explaining his actions to the American authorities conducting an investigation. The Mexican Government deeply regrets this incident,” he said.

Getting fired seems a little minor to me, but it’s a start.


LA Times attacks McCain for disability pension

April 24, 2008

John McCain received permanent injuries at the hands of the North Vietnamese during his time as a POW, injuries that earn him a disability pension.  The LA Times insinuates that this should disqualify him from being President.

This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard since the Amazing Race 7, when Kelly accused Ron of not following through on his army obligations.  Ron “escaped” his obligations by becoming a POW during the Gulf War.


Ultimatum issued to Mahdi army

April 23, 2008

Bill Roggio reports the Iraqi Army has issued an ultimatum to al-Sadr’s Mahdi army to surrender or face the consequences:

The senior-most Iraqi general in charge of the security operation in Basrah has issued an ultimatum for wanted Mahdi Army leaders and fighters to surrender in the next 24 hours as the Iraqi and US military ignore Muqtada al Sadr’s threat to conduct a third uprising. US troops killed 15 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad yesterday and have killed 56 fighters since Sadr issued his threat last weekend.

In Basrah, General Mohan al Freiji, the chief of the Basrah Operational Commander and leader of the security operation in the province, has given issued warrants “for 81 people, including senior leaders of the Mahdi militia, and they have 24 hours to give up,” The Associated Press reported.

It will be interesting to watch how this goes.  The Iraqi Army no doubt is eager not to be embarrassed again, and there’s no reason they would kick this off early (if indeed that’s what happened last time).  I expect they’ll make a better showing this time.  The most important thing, though, is to go through with it.  Idle threats won’t help their reputation any.

This bit is also interesting:

The assassination of Riyad al Nouri, Sadr’s brother-in-law and a senior aide in Najaf, continues to spark reports that his death was carried out from within the Sadrist movement. On April 17, The Long War Journal reported that Nouri was pushing for the Sadrist movement to disband the Mahdi Army lest the party be shut out from the political process, and US military officers believe he was killed because of this.

The Iraqi press has also reported Nouri was killed after he suggested disarming the Mahdi Army. Nouri “was assassinated after he wrote Muqtada a letter asking him to dissolve the Mahdi Army,” Al Rafidain reported.

(Via Instapundit.)


ABC News confused about US gun laws

April 23, 2008

Confederate Yankee demolishes a bogus ABC News story about how US gun laws are putting guns in the hands of Mexican criminals.  (Via Instapundit.)


Pizza Hut fires driver

April 23, 2008

Pizza Hut has fired the driver who defended himself against a robber.  (Via Say Uncle, via Instapundit.)

(Previous Post.)


Thanks WordPress

April 23, 2008

It’s the one-month anniversary of my first post at Internet Scofflaw.  I wanted to take this occasion to thank WordPress for a their blogging service.  It works great, and is quite inexpensive.  Thanks guys!


Petraeus tapped for CENTCOM

April 23, 2008

Fox News reports. Although I’m sure Gen. Petraeus will do a good job at CENTCOM, this strikes me as bad news. We need him where he is, winning the war in Iraq.

UPDATE: Secretary Gates says that Petraeus won’t be leaving until late summer or early fall. Also, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan say that Gen. Odierno, who will be taking over in Iraq, deserves a lot of the credit for putting Petraeus’s strategy into effect. (Via Hot Air.) This makes me feel a little better.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rich Lowry thinks this is good news too.


NYT laments Clinton victory in Pennsylvania

April 23, 2008

The nation’s most hypocritical editorial page issues another gem, entitled “The Low Road to Victory”. It calls for an old-fashioned Fisking:

The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.

According to the New York Times, negative campaigning is the job of the New York Times. They’ll take care of the mean, vacuous hatchet jobs so the Democrats don’t have to.

Also, 10 points is inconclusive? Reagan defeated Carter by 10 points and won 44 states.

Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work. It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.

Getting tired of it? Actually, we Pennsylvanians had to wait a long time for the candidates to pay attention to us. When we did, we didn’t like what we saw in Obama. And by the way, on what planet does negative campaigning not work?

If nothing else, self interest should push her in that direction. Mrs. Clinton did not get the big win in Pennsylvania that she needed to challenge the calculus of the Democratic race. It is true that Senator Barack Obama outspent her 2-to-1. But Mrs. Clinton and her advisers should mainly blame themselves, because, as the political operatives say, they went heavily negative and ended up squandering a good part of what was once a 20-point lead.

The “political operatives” say that, do they? Those operatives wouldn’t happen to be the NYT editorial board, would they?

On the eve of this crucial primary, Mrs. Clinton became the first Democratic candidate to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11. A Clinton television ad — torn right from Karl Rove’s playbook — evoked the 1929 stock market crash, Pearl Harbor, the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war and the 9/11 attacks, complete with video of Osama bin Laden. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” the narrator intoned.

Islamic terrorism is the most dangerous threat facing our country today. For many people, such as me, it’s the only issue of consequence. But according to the NYT, it’s out-of-bounds even to mention it. We can’t even mention it in the context of crises from throughout the last century.

If that was supposed to bolster Mrs. Clinton’s argument that she is the better prepared to be president in a dangerous world, she sent the opposite message on Tuesday morning by declaring in an interview on ABC News that if Iran attacked Israel while she were president: “We would be able to totally obliterate them.”

Anyone who recognizes the value of deterrence is not prepared to be President, I guess.

By staying on the attack and not engaging Mr. Obama on the substance of issues like terrorism, the economy and how to organize an orderly exit from Iraq, Mrs. Clinton does more than just turn off voters who don’t like negative campaigning. She undercuts the rationale for her candidacy that led this page and others to support her: that she is more qualified, right now, to be president than Mr. Obama.

As Lisa Schiffren asks, what on earth has changed about Hillary Clinton since the NYT endorsed her? It used to be she used her super-powers for good (ie, against Republicans), but now she’s using them against a Democrat.

Mr. Obama is not blameless when it comes to the negative and vapid nature of this campaign. He is increasingly rising to Mrs. Clinton’s bait, undercutting his own claims that he is offering a higher more inclusive form of politics. When she criticized his comments about “bitter” voters, Mr. Obama mocked her as an Annie Oakley wannabe. All that does is remind Americans who are on the fence about his relative youth and inexperience.

When Clinton is negative, she’s bad. When Obama is negative, he’s rising to her bait. I get it.

No matter what the high-priced political operatives (from both camps) may think, it is not a disadvantage that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton share many of the same essential values and sensible policy prescriptions. It is their strength, and they are doing their best to make voters forget it. And if they think that only Democrats are paying attention to this spectacle, they’re wrong.

I have no idea what they’re trying to say here.

After seven years of George W. Bush’s failed with-us-or-against-us presidency, all American voters deserve to hear a nuanced debate — right now and through the general campaign — about how each candidate will combat terrorism, protect civil liberties, address the housing crisis and end the war in Iraq.

We should have a nuanced debate about fighting terrorism without mentioning it? How’s that going to work?

It is getting to be time for the superdelegates to do what the Democrats had in mind when they created superdelegates: settle a bloody race that cannot be won at the ballot box. Mrs. Clinton once had a big lead among the party elders, but has been steadily losing it, in large part because of her negative campaign. If she is ever to have a hope of persuading these most loyal of Democrats to come back to her side, let alone win over the larger body of voters, she has to call off the dogs.

This makes no sense. This race could have been won at the ballot box, if the Democrats operated under the same rules as the GOP and the United States. If not for the superdelegates, the race would be over. The purpose of the superdelegates was to give the party elites the chance to overturn the voters’ choice. Now the Democrats are reaping the dividend of their bizarre rules. Bravo.


Violent weekend rocks Chicago

April 23, 2008

AP reports:

An outburst of gunfire rattled the city during the weekend, with at least nine people killed in 36 separate acts of violence.

“There are just too many weapons here,” [Police Superintendent Jody] Weis said Sunday. “Too many guns, too many gangs.”

I’m confused. Doesn’t Illinois have the most severe gun control outside of D.C.? From Wikipedia:

Some municipalities, most notably Chicago, require that all firearms be registered with the local police department. Chicago does not allow the registration of handguns, which has the effect of outlawing their possession, unless they were grandfathered in by being registered before April 16, 1982. . .

Illinois is one of two remaining states that have no provision for the concealed carry of firearms by citizens. Open carry is also illegal, except when hunting. When a firearm is being transported, it must be unloaded and enclosed in a case.

If gun control works, there shouldn’t be any guns in Chicago, right?


24 Hours on the “Big Stick”

April 23, 2008

P.J. O’Rourke visits the USS Theodore Roosevelt.  (Via Instapundit.)


Net neutrality

April 23, 2008

The debate over net neutrality is frustrating, since so few people seem to know what they are talking about. This AP article (“FCC chief says no need for new regulation of the Internet”) is a good example:

The hearing was called at a time when the issue of “network neutrality”—the principle that people should be able to go where they choose on the Internet without interference from network owners—has heated up.

(Via Instapundit.)

This is exactly not what network neutrality is about. The main thing to remember is the Internet is not, contrary to popular opinion, a bunch of wires. The Internet is a protocol. Specifically, the Internet Protocol (IP) is a way to route packets over a variety of networks.

An important property of IP is it provides best effort delivery. That means that sometimes it drops packets, typically when it gets too much traffic. Indeed, there is no way to prevent this in a packet-switched network, unless you can prevent routers from getting too much traffic, which IP does not do. If you want reliable delivery, you need to layer another protocol (such as TCP) on top of IP.

IP does not dictate any rules regarding how a router chooses which packets to drop. (This is what network neutrality supporters want to change.) Typically it chooses them arbitrarily. But, it could do something more sensible, based on the nature of the packets. Some packets are more important than others. For example, a video stream typically contains some keyframes and various other frames that depend on the latest keyframe. Dropping one of the latter frames is no big deal, but dropping a keyframe loses you a chunk of video. Therefore, we would like it if our router kept keyframes in preference to non-keyframes.

Furthermore, there’s been research on Quality of Service, by which we might somehow reserve a certain level of network performance. QoS is an active research area, but one thing is for certain, to achieve it we definitely need to discriminate between packets.

Network neutrality advocates are concerned that the people who own the routers might choose to discriminate between packets on some basis that’s bad, like “Google didn’t pay me any money, so I’ll deliver their packets slowly or not at all.” The thing is, exactly no one is proposing to do this. Were any ISP to do it (and it is the ISPs that people seem particularly concerned about), they would immediately lose their customers to another ISP that did not.

But what an ISP might do is establish some preferences between different sorts of traffic; for example to prefer interactive traffic over large downloads. (According to the article, Comcast has done this.) Someday, they might even implement Quality of Service. This is all for the good. It would be a tragedy if network neutrality were to prevent it.

Google argues for neutrality this way:

The broadband carriers should not be permitted to use their market power to discriminate against competing applications or content.

If I had ever heard of such a thing happening, I might feel differently. Until then, network neutrality is a solution to a non-existent problem, and one that, if not implemented very carefully, could be very harmful to the development of the Internet. Readers of this blog will not be surprised that I would estimate the likelihood of Congress being so careful at roughly zero.


Chinese arms can’t reach Mugabe

April 22, 2008

A large shipment of weapons from China to Robert “get behind the fist” Mugabe (I won’t call him “President” any more) has been unable to reach him, as African ports have refused to unload the cargo.  (Via Instapundit.)  I’ve resisted getting too pleased by this, figuring China would find somewhere else to unload their guns, but this story has the first indication that they might give up:

China has defended the shipment as “perfectly normal trade” but Beijing has hinted it may recall the ship as it was unable to offload its cargo.


Election day in Pennsylvania

April 22, 2008

Voted for Clinton. Also mailed in my change of party affiliation back to Republican.


Knoll makes a scene

April 22, 2008

Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll makes a scene at a rally for Hillary Clinton:

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato was introducing [Bill] Clinton to a crowd of about 6,000 people in Market Square, where they had gathered to hear a campaign speech by Clinton’s wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

When Onorato tried to hand over the microphone, Knoll grabbed it and let loose with some talk targeted at Onorato and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

“They never recognize the lieutenant governor. These two men can’t stand women,” she said, before leaving the stage while talking to Onorato.

It gets weirder:

After the campaign event ended, Knoll spoke briefly with WTAE Channel 4 Action News reporter Paul Van Osdol.

“You really think that Mr. Onorato and Mr. Ravenstahl don’t like women?” Van Osdol asked.

“No, it’s a guy in the back who doesn’t know who Cathy Baker Knoll is,” Knoll said.

“Why did you say that about Luke and Dan?” Van Osdol asked.

“Because they’re afraid of the guys who call the shots,” Knoll said. “You know what? I’m not afraid of anybody.”

(There’s video.)  How often do you see a politician simultaneously make powerful enemies and show the world that they’re barking mad?  I think Knoll just committed political suicide.


A wine sighting

April 22, 2008

Ron Brownstein’s wine-track/beer-track theory makes an appearance in Inside Higher Ed:

“Some will be surprised that Penn, an Ivy League school, would reject Obama’s appeal to creative class ‘wine trackers.’ But the university is known as being heavily pre-professional, a favorite choice of New Yorkers, and in general, much less of an activist campus than brethren such as Brown, or even Yale and Harvard. So all in all, the endorsement is not a huge shock,” wrote Dana Goldstein at TAPPED.

(Emphasis mine.) (Via Instapundit.)

The article (and the linked TAPPED article) doesn’t give any context, though, so I’m not sure how many of their readers will know what Goldstein meant.


NYT releases second McCain hatchet job

April 22, 2008

Jim Rutenberg, who wrote the NYT’s last McCain hatchet job, has been called in for a second.  This one is even more pathetic than the last.  Ed Morrissey has the story.


Vulture UAV would stay aloft 5 years

April 22, 2008

DARPA has awarded contracts to several firms to build prototypes for the Vulture, an unmanned plane that would stay aloft for five years on solar power:

What the Pentagon wants is essentially a maneuverable satellite replacement: a fixed-wing, heavier-than-air craft that’s high enough to “see” large swaths of the Earth at once, but one that can also reposition itself to circle over new areas of interest, something satellites in fixed orbits can’t do.

It has to be able carry a 1,000-pound payload, battle stratospheric winds, generate a continuous 5 kilowatts of electricity — and it can’t use nuclear power to do so.

“We want to completely change the paradigm of how we think of aircraft,” Vulture project manager Daniel Newman tells Flight. “We would no longer define an aircraft by the launch, recover, maintain, launch cycle.”

Cool.  It also would fly at 90 thousand feet, higher than most planes but quite a bit lower than satellites, which would give it better resolution.


Obama cancels remaining debates

April 21, 2008

As he suggested last week he might, Obama has decided to cancel the upcoming North Carolina debate.  Were he to be brutalized again, it might affect his standing with the superdelegates.  I expect this is the last time for a while that we’ll see him anywhere he can’t control the agenda.

Running out the clock makes good sense for Obama, if he can, but there is a downside.  This pulls the rug out from underneath his spin that the last debate was a travesty for not focusing on the important issues.  Apparently Obama doesn’t think there’s much more to be debated on those issues after all.


Campaign calls today

April 21, 2008

Just one call today, from Obama.  My wife didn’t pick up because she recognized the number.


Thank goodness for the editors

April 21, 2008

At the LA Times, in a review of HBO’s John Adams:

George Washington (David Morse) so quickly tired of the infighting among his Cabinet and vagaries of public opinion that he stepped down from the presidency after a single term.

I guess that’s where the tradition of presidents stepping down after one term in office started.

The critic now is suitably embarrassed, but what about the editors?  I thought that editors and fact checking were supposed to be the big advantage of the mainstream media.

(Via the Volokh Conspiracy.)


Carter: still a buffoon

April 21, 2008

Carter announces the results of his meeting with Hamas:

Former President Carter said Monday that Hamas — the Islamic militant group that has called for the destruction of Israel — is prepared to accept the right of the Jewish state to “live as a neighbor next door in peace.”

But Carter warned that there would not be peace if Israel and the U.S. continue to shut out Hamas and its main backer, Syria. . .

“They (Hamas) said that they would accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, if approved by Palestinians and that they would accept the right of Israel to live as a neighbor next door in peace,” Carter said.

Somehow this is not very exciting, even if we assume Carter is accurately reporting his conversation. Firstly, over half of Palestinians approve of attacks on Israeli civilians. Secondly, if such a referendum were actually held, and did pass, Hamas would simply renege. In fact, they already have:

Carter said Hamas promised it wouldn’t undermine Abbas’ efforts to reach a peace deal with Israel, as long as the Palestinian people approved it in a referendum. In such a scenario, he said Hamas would not oppose a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Carter said Hamas officials, including Mashaal, agreed to this in a written statement.

But Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in Gaza said Hamas’ readiness to put a peace deal to a referendum “does not mean that Hamas is going to accept the result of the referendum.”

(Via the Corner.)


Urban legend claims Palestinian 9/11 celebration video is fake

April 21, 2008

While searching for the video of Palestinians celebrating the 9/11 attacks, I discovered an urban legend that seems to be popular in certain circles. It says that the video was not from 9/11 as CNN and other major new outlets claimed, but it was actually from 1991, celebrating Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. This YouTube comment is typical:

This footage was later proven to be from the 1990s so it had absolutely nothing to do with 911.

Snopes has the legend’s long version:

All around the world we are subjected to 3 or 4 huge news distributors, and one of them – as you well know – is CNN. Very well, I guess all of you have been seeing (just as I’ve been) images from this company. In particular, one set of images called my attencion: the Palestinians celebrating the bombing, out on the streets, eating some cake and making funny faces for the camera. Well, THOSE IMAGES WERE SHOT BACK IN 1991!!! Those are images of Palestinians celebrating the invasion of Kuwait! It’s simply unacceptable that a super-power of cumminications as CNN uses images which do not correspond to the reality in talking about so serious an issue. A teacher of mine, here in Brazil, has videotapes recorded in 1991, with the very same images; he’s been sending emails to CNN, Globo (the major TV network in Brazil) and newspapers, denouncing what I myself classify as a crime against the public opinion. If anyone of you has access to this kind of files, serch for it. In the meanwhile, I’ll try to ‘put my hands’ on a copy of this tape.

Snopes does a good job of debunking the legend, including statements from Reuters, CNN, and the Brazilian university where the legend originated, and also listing several other news outlets that carried the same story.

The debunking hasn’t stopped the Palestinians from promoting it. Here’s a video of Manuel Hassassian, the official Palestinian “Ambassador/General Delegate” to the United Kingdom, telling the story. (His version is a little bit different. Predictably, he blames Israel rather than CNN for the fraud.)

Given how incendiary the video is, it’s not surprising that the Palestinians would like to discredit it. Their first effort was to suppress such videos entirely, by threatening journalists if the media ran them. For instance:

Encouraging the Associated Press in Jerusalem not to air the footage [of a September 12th rally in Nablus], Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Arafat’s cabinet secretary, said that the Palestinian Authority “cannot guarantee the life” of the cameraman if his film was broadcast.

Unfortunately for us (but fortunately for the cameraman) the AP folded. That particular video was never broadcast.

UPDATE: I found the original JPost story at the Wayback Machine.  It’s a little different; it suggests that the AP producers, not the cameraman, were the ones being threatened.


Majority of Palestinians support terror

April 21, 2008

According to a poll published in the Jerusalem Post, the number of Palestinians who support attacks on Israeli civilians now exceeds 50% for the first time, including nearly two-thirds of Gazans:

The number of Palestinians who support attacks against Israelis continues to rise and more than half of them favor suicide bombings, according to a poll published this weekend.

The survey also showed that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is still more popular than Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The percentage of Palestinians who support “resistance operations” against Israeli targets rose from 43.1 percent in September 2006 to 49.5% at present. Support for this option was highest in the Gaza Strip, at 58.1%, with 24.5% in the West Bank agreeing.

Palestinians who support bombing attacks against Israeli civilians rose from 44.8% in June 2006 to 48% in September 2006 and to 50.7% now.

Again, more Gazans support these operations (65.1%), compared with 42.3% of Palestinians in the West Bank.

The Palestinian public is divided on the rocket attacks on Israel: 39.3% said the firing of these rockets was “useful” to Palestinian national interests, while 35.7% said they were harmful.

(Via the Corner.)

Over half of Palestinians approve of murdering civilians.  They celebrated on 9/11.  They chose Hamas in a free election.  Why do we persist in thinking that these people will ever make peace?

ASIDE: It’s interesting that attacks on civilians (i.e., soft targets) gains the highest support, followed by “resistance operations”, and then rocket attacks (which often evoke an IDF response).


Winston Smith, call your office

April 21, 2008

MoveOn.org claims they never opposed the campaign in Afghanistan.  Tom Maguire tracks down the facts.  (Via Instapundit.)  The Internet Wayback Machine is involved.


Campaign calls this weekend

April 20, 2008

Received five for Obama, one for Clinton.  Clinton needs to pick it up!


Obama disavows handwriting

April 20, 2008

At the debate, Charlie Gibson asked Obama about the handwriting on a questionnaire returned by his campaign on which someone wrote that Obama supports a total ban on handguns:

GIBSON: But do you still favor the registration of guns? Do you still favor the licensing of guns?

And in 1996, your campaign issued a questionnaire, and your writing was on the questionnaire that said you favored a ban on handguns.

OBAMA: No, my writing wasn’t on that particular questionnaire, Charlie. As I said, I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns.

No surprise; this was obviously coming.  Now, someone needs to ask Obama the obvious follow-up questions:

  • Whose handwriting was it?
  • The handwriting in question was revising the answers to the questionnaire, to include some additional endorsements.  Why did the staffer bother to revise the list of endorsements, but not correct all the inaccurate policy positions?

I suppose, though, that’s the sort of “gotcha” politics we’re not supposed to play.


Obama supports total ban on guns

April 20, 2008

At TalkLeft, Jeralyn Merritt reports a statement from Obama’s campaign that D.C.’s total ban on guns is constitutional:

But the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said that he “…believes that we can recognize and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and the right of local communities to enact common sense laws to combat violence and save lives. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.”

Bob Casey (D-PA), an Obama surrogate, goes further, saying that Obama approves of the ban:

Bob Casey: He would probably be a supporter, as he has been in the U.S. Senate and the Illinois legislature, for various restrictions on gun ownership. I happen to disagree with him on that, we have our disagreements.

(No link to either, so I’m trusting that Merritt transcribed them accurately.)  Prepare to be disavowed, Senator Casey!

There’s more. David Bernstein notes that Obama wants to require that all gun dealers operate from a storefront and also wants to ban such storefronts within 5 miles of a school or park. (5 miles is roughly the radius of Pittsburgh.) And, shockingly, when a stolen gun is used to hurt someone, he wants to make it a felony on the part of the rightful owner if he didn’t store it “securely.”

I think we can close the book on Obama and gun rights now.

(Via Instapundit and Tom Maguire.)


Fortune cookie wisdom

April 20, 2008

Got two fortunes tonight. One was funny:

It’s nice to be remembered, but it’s far cheaper to be forgotten.

The other invoked a far different emotion:

You can depend on the trust of the collective.

Uhhhh, okay. I wonder where these were manufactured. I’ve got a guess. . .


Zimbabwe worsens

April 20, 2008

The London Times reports:

Zimbabwe’s opposition revealed 10 of its supporters have now been killed with 400 arrested and 500 injured in President Mugabe’s post-election clampdown.

As a further delay was announced in the recounting of votes cast over three weeks ago fears grew that an attempt is being made to overturn the results of the parliamentary election, which showed ZANU-PF losing its majority to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the first time.

This makes sense for Mugabe, I suppose.  As long as he’s going to thwart the Presidential election and stay in office, there’s no reason to abide by the Parliamentary vote.

But don’t despair, the African Union is on the case:

An AU statement said: “The African Union wishes to express its concern over the delay observed in the announcement of Zimbabwe’s election results, which creates an atmosphere of tension.

“The African Union therefore urges competent authorities of the Republic of Zimbabwe to announce the results without any further delay, in transparency, thus contributing, inter alia, to reducing the prevailing tension.”

Okay, that ought to do it.


Russian paper shut down after reporting on Putin’s personal life

April 20, 2008

The Sunday Times reports:

A newspaper that defied the Kremlin by reporting that President Vladimir Putin was planning to marry an Olympic gold medal-winning rhythmic gymnast half his age was shut down yesterday. The closure of Moskovski Korrespondent, whose editor Grigori Nekhoroshev was forced to resign, was a sharp reminder of the perils of invoking Kremlin displeasure. . .

Its parent firm blamed “costs” and “conceptual disagreements with the newsroom” but insisted in a statement that “this has nothing to do with politics and is solely a business decision”. Few in Russia will believe that. The closure came a few hours after Putin had said during a visit to Sardinia that there was not a word of truth in the story.

And none at all outside of Russia.


Another Wright wrong

April 20, 2008

It has previously been reported that Obama’s church has been known to print racist material in its worship bulletin. So it’s not as shocking as it should be to learn that in July 2007 Rev. Wright handed over his “Pastor’s Page” for a piece by Mousa Abu Marzook, a terrorist and front man for Hamas. In that column, Marzook justifies attacks on Israel, denies Israel’s right to exist, and bizarrely refers to a Fatah coup that partitioned the Palestinian Authority.

Investor’s Business Daily comments:

Even if Wright didn’t know Marzook was wanted by the government, Hamas has been designated a terrorist group since 1995, blacklisted by a Democrat administration.

Wright had to have known from headlines that Hamas targets innocent civilians in pizza parlors and buses for suicide bombings, eviscerating children and elderly with fireballs laced with nails and ball bearings. These are not warriors, but terrorists.

Obama, for his part, says he is shocked— shocked! — that his church would support Hamas.

“I certainly wasn’t in church when that outrageously wrong piece was reprinted in the bulletin,” he said in a carefully worded statement that denies only his attendance and not his prior knowledge of the bulletin.

(Via the Campaign Spot.)

The IBD editorial mentions something else I hadn’t known, that Wright’s ties to notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan go deeper than is generally known:

Obama also pleaded ignorance about Wright last year honoring anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan with a “lifetime achievement award,” even though the church featured Farrakhan on the cover of its magazine and held a gala in Chicago to celebrate his “greatness.”

This didn’t come out of the blue. Wright and Farrakhan go way back. In the 1980s, they traveled to Libya to pay homage to terrorist leader Muammar Qaddafi.


Obama linked to gun control efforts

April 20, 2008

Politico lands another scoop, this time related to Obama’s service on the board of the Joyce Foundation:

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has worked to assure uneasy gun owners that he believes the Constitution protects their rights and that he doesn’t want to take away their guns.

But before he became a national political figure, he sat on the board of a Chicago-based foundation that doled out at least nine grants totaling nearly $2.7 million to groups that advocated the opposite positions. . .

Obama’s eight years on the board of the Joyce Foundation, which paid him more than $70,000 in directors fees, do not in any way conflict with his campaign-trail support for the rights of gun owners . . . a spokesman for Obama’s presidential campaign, asserted in a statement issued to Politico this week.

As with most foundations, Joyce did not record how individual board members voted on grants, but former Joyce officials told Politico that funding was typically approved unanimously.

(Via Hot Air.)

For example:

During Obama’s time on the Joyce board, though, the foundation gave seven grants totaling more than $2.5 million to a group that wants Congress to take much more proactive action: the Violence Policy Center.

The D.C.-based nonprofit, which calls itself “the most aggressive group in the gun control movement,” for years has argued for a national handgun ban.

In a 2000 study called “Unsafe in Any Hands: Why America Needs to Ban Handguns,” the group concluded that Congress could and should ban handguns nationwide “soon” and allocate $16.25 billion to buy back the 65 million handguns it estimated were then owned by civilians.

The study dismissed as “pure myth” the theory that the Second Amendment bars such strict gun control laws.

The study was funded partly by the Joyce Foundation, said Josh Sugarmann, the center’s executive director. “The Joyce Foundation gives us general support,” he said.

There’s more.  I don’t doubt that Obama will disavow this; if you can disavow your own handwriting, you’ll disavow anything.  Whether he’ll get away with it is another matter.


Gallup: Clinton ties Obama nationally

April 20, 2008

Gallup now gives Clinton the advantage over Obama among Democrats nationwide 46%-45%, with a very noticeable shift since the last debate.  (Via Hot Air.)  Both Democrats also tie McCain among registered voters.


We can ignore it for you wholesale

April 19, 2008

The top story at the New York Times is a lengthy piece on the Pentagon’s information strategy. Although I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing yet, it seems pretty interesting. The NYT’s slant, of course, is that there’s something sinister about the Pentagon even to have an information strategy. (If they’re bothered by Al Qaeda having an information strategy, I’ve never heard of it.) Most of the Pentagon strategies they allude to (and cast aspersions on) seem like just good sense to me: court the media’s military experts, and give them access to the facts. They also write that the Pentagon recognizes the importance of not letting enemy propaganda drive the media cycle. (You’re doing a bang-up job, then. Thanks guys!)

I’m most interested, though, in the New York Times’s own information strategy. (Let’s not pretend they’re not a combatant in the information war.) They’re not targeting their article at any particular military expert. It doesn’t gain them much to discredit a single person, and they don’t have the material to do it anyway. More interestingly, they aren’t really targeting the Pentagon or the White House, which is surprising since there are few things they enjoy more. Instead, they are targeting media military experts as a group.

Why? Here’s my theory. The good news out of Iraq is becoming increasingly unavoidable. Even the bad news isn’t staying bad for long enough. The usual anti-war sources can only get them so far. In order to maintain their narrative, they need a way to discount all the positive news out of Iraq. If they can convince people that all the experts are colluding with the Pentagon to deceive us, the good news simply goes away.

Of course, they won’t succeed to that extent — the experts aren’t going away — but they can instill a grain of suspicion into every positive analysis. Look for a new meme on the left: any expert that speaks of progress is a tool of the Pentagon. (Not just former generals, incidentally, but also embedded journalists.) What we need, they will say, are “independent” experts, ones with no active ties to the military. The “independent” experts will not know anything — they’ll have no sources, after all — but they will be reliably anti-war (not knowing anything will help), and they’ll serve as a counterbalance to any good news out of Iraq.

UPDATE: Commentary has two columns on the piece. (Via Instapundit.) Max Boot’s analysis agrees substantially with mine, except without the prediction. (Internet Scofflaw: tomorrow’s expert analysis from a non-expert today!) John Podhoretz thinks that the piece was an investigative report that failed to uncover any wrongdoing, but they couldn’t bear to kill. (Note to the NYT: sunk cost.)


For the record

April 19, 2008

It’s popular in certain circles to assert that US funding for the mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan war went to Osama Bin Laden.  This is convenient for that crowd, because it places the ultimate blame for all of his atrocities back where they want it, on the United States.  The problem is, it’s not true in the slightest.

There were two factions of Afghans who fought against the Soviets.  One was a domestic faction that eventually evolved into the Northern Alliance.  The other was the so-called “Afghan Arabs”, foreign Muslims (mostly Arabs) who came into Afghanistan to fight the jihad.  Osama Bin Laden, obviously, was a member of the latter faction.  The United States funded the former faction, but never gave a cent to the latter.  The latter was funded primarily by Saudi Arabia.  (The Taliban, incidentally, didn’t exist then at all.)

This is made clear by this article from the US Department of State.  Richard Miniter has a good column on the subject as well.  I found both articles with just a few minutes of Googling; it’s hardly a secret.

UPDATE (9/12/11): Freshened the stale links with links to the Internet Archive.


Why secrets are important

April 19, 2008

At Abu Muqawama, an interesting account of how the Basra operation (Sawlat al-Fursan) came to pass in the way that it did. (Via Instapundit.) It’s anonymously sourced, so grains of salt are required. If it’s true, the operation was planned very differently, but they had to start early and improvise due to a counter-intelligence failure. The green units that deserted weren’t supposed to be involved much at all. Interesting.


Iraqi army seizes Mahdi stronghold in Basra

April 19, 2008

The IA mops up in Basra:

Iraqi soldiers swooped on the Basra stronghold of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Saturday, saying they had seized control of his militia bastion where they suffered an embarrassing setback in late March.

The dawn raid by government troops on the Hayaniya district of the southern oil city was backed by a thunderous bombardment by U.S. warplanes and British artillery.

(Via Hot Air.)

Note to the media: a setback is not the same thing as a defeat.

UPDATE: At the NYT, Iraqi Forces Take Last Basra Areas From Sadr Force.

Iraqi soldiers took control of the last bastions of the cleric Moktada al-Sadr’s militia in Basra on Saturday, and Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad strongly endorsed the Iraqi government’s monthlong military operation against the fighters.

By Saturday evening, Basra was calm, but only after air and artillery strikes by American and British forces cleared the way for Iraqi troops to move into the Hayaniya district and other remaining Mahdi Army militia strongholds and begin house-to house searches, Iraqi officials said. Iraqi troops were meeting little resistance, said Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Baghdad.

Despite the apparent concession of Basra, Mr. Sadr issued defiant words on Saturday night.

You know Sadr is at the end of his rope when both the NYT and Iran throw in the towel.  Defiant words are about all he has left.


A hypothetical

April 19, 2008

In response to the Obamaists’ apoplexy at their candidate being asked about his friendships with a racist and a terrorist, Peter Wehner proposes a hypothetical:

Assume that a conservative candidate for the GOP nomination spent two decades at a church whose senior pastor was a white supremacist who uttered ugly racial (as well as anti-American) epithets from the pulpit. Assume, too, that this minister wasn’t just the candidate’s pastor but also a close friend, the man who married the candidate and his wife, baptized his two daughters, and inspired the title of his best-selling book.

In addition, assume that this GOP candidate, in preparing for his entry into politics, attended an early organizing meeting at the home of a man who, years before, was involved in blowing up multiple abortion clinics and today was unrepentant, stating his wish that he had bombed even more clinics. And let’s say that the GOP candidate’s press spokesman described the relationship between the two men as “friendly.”

Do you think that if those moderating a debate asked the GOP candidate about these relationships for the first time, after 22 previous debates had been held, that other journalists would become apoplectic at the moderators for merely asking about the relationships? Not only would there be a near-universal consensus that those questions should be asked; there would be a moral urgency in pressing for answers. We would, I predict, be seeing an unprecedented media “feeding frenzy.”

The truth is that a close relationship with a white supremacist pastor and a friendly relationship with an abortion clinic bomber would, by themselves, torpedo a conservative candidate running for president. There is an enormous double standard at play here, one rooted in the fawning regard many journalists have for Barack Obama. They have a deep, even emotional, investment in his candidacy.

(Via Power Line.)

Yep. Of course, it’s merely a hypothetical; the GOP has never had such a candidate.


Heh

April 19, 2008

Clinton, Obama complain about complaining. (Via LGF.)

Seriously, the best thing about this Democratic primary is the spectacle of Democrats getting critical media attention. Unlike Republicans, they’re not used to it, and they don’t like it one bit. Too bad it won’t last.

UPDATE: Michael Barone weighs in.  (Via Instapundit.)


War “lost” one year ago today

April 19, 2008

According to Harry Reid.  (Via the Corner.)  Can you image what he would have said if he actually had a defeat to work with?


McClatchy distorts Iraq study beyond recognition

April 19, 2008

The McClatchy wire story is breathless:

The war in Iraq has become ”a major debacle” and the outcome ”is in doubt” despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon’s premier military educational institute.

The story is picked up by our friends on the left, as a much-desired indication that we’re still losing in Iraq despite all the evidence that we’re winning. The wishes of the left aside, how can that be? It isn’t, writes Joseph Collins, the author of the study:

The Miami Herald story (“Pentagon Study: War is a ‘Debacle’ “) distorts the nature of and intent of my personal research project. It was not an NDU study, nor was it a Pentagon study. Indeed, the implication of the Herald story was that this study was mostly about current events. Such is not the case. It was mainly about the period 2002-04. The story also hypes a number of paragraphs, many of which are quoted out of context. The study does not “lay much of the blame” on Secretary Rumsfeld for problems in the conduct of the war, nor does it say that he “bypassed the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” It does not single out “Condoleeza Rice and Stephen Hadley” for criticism.

Here is a fair summary of my personal research, which formally is NDU INSS Occasional Paper 5, “Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and Its Aftermath.”

This study examines how the United States chose to go to war in Iraq, how its decision-making process functioned, and what can be done to improve that process. The central finding of this study is that U.S. efforts in Iraq were hobbled by a set of faulty assumptions, a flawed planning effort, and a continuing inability to create security conditions in Iraq that could have fostered meaningful advances in stabilization, reconstruction, and governance. With the best of intentions, the United States toppled a vile, dangerous regime but has been unable to replace it with a stable entity. Even allowing for progress under the Surge, the study insists that mistakes in the Iraq operation cry out in the mid- to long-term for improvements in the U.S. decision-making and policy execution systems.

(Collins was specifically commenting on a version of the story running in the Miami Herald, which actually managed to make it worse by calling it a “Pentagon study” in its headline.) So the study says little about the current state of affairs — although it cites “progress under the Surge” — and mainly concludes that we made a lot of mistakes. An analysis of those mistakes so they can be corrected is useful, but it doesn’t make much of an anti-war headline. I can see why the media likes their version better.

(Via Protein Wisdom, via Instapundit.)


Obama dowdifies McCain

April 19, 2008

Glenn Reynolds remarks, “He’s not used to being challenged on his statements. That will change.”

I’m not so sure. No one (outside the blogosphere) is calling him on it here, and they still have another candidate. Why would you think the media will be more likely to fact-check him after they’re stuck with him?

UPDATE: Dowdification refers to the selective editing of a quote in such a way as to change (or invert) its meaning, particularly by the addition of ellipses. In this case Obama extracts a relative clause, deletes its relativizer, and quotes it as a complete sentence.

ANOTHER UPDATE: David Freddoso asks, “Is the man a liar, or are his speechwriters and advisors just that willing to leave him vulnerable to attack?” Good question.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reynolds may be right; some in the media are on to Obama: ABC News, CNN, and the Chicago Tribune. (Via Commentary, via Instapundit.)


Karl Rove savages 60 Minutes

April 19, 2008

Rove writes to CBS, listing point after point after point where 60 Minutes neglected to investigate Jill Simpson’s outlandish charges. Dick Thornburgh may soon need to make a return trip to CBS.


Obama gives Clinton the finger

April 18, 2008

Literally.  (Via Jules Crittenden, via Instapundit.)

A new kind of politics.


A tale of two campaigns

April 18, 2008

Rusty Shackleford thinks that we should speak of two wars in Iraq:

There was a war in Iraq and there is a war in Iraq. In fact, we’ve had two wars in Iraq: Iraq War I & Iraq War II. The war now is not the same as that war. The first war in Iraq was against Saddam Hussein, the second war is against Islamists of various stripes, but mainly al Qaeda.

All would agree that the invasion liberated Iraqis from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. That was the First Iraq War.** It ended the day Saddam Hussein was captured. . . The vacuum left by the Baathist police state was filled by yet another tyranny: the tyranny of Sunni Islamists, like al Qaeda; and the tyranny of Shia Islamists, like those following Muqtada al Sadr. This is when the Second Iraq War started.

The first war was against Iraq, a nation-state. The second war is against terrorists and Islamist rebels.

Then he makes his point:

Failing to see the two war distinction is critical. From Obama we hear that he was “against the war” from the beginning. From Clinton we hear that she “changed her mind on the war sometime after she realized that the war was a mistake.”

Continuing to allow politicians to criticize the war in Iraq by criticizing the decision to topple the Hussein regime is to allow them to conflate two very separate issues: 1) should we have invaded Iraq? 2) should we now give up fighting al Qaeda and anti-government Islamist elements in Iraq?

Answering no to question number one says nothing about how question two should be answered. Nothing.

The Second Iraq War may have been of our own making, but it is the very war the Democrats say they want to fight: a war against terrorists.

(Via Instapundit.)

I appreciate his point, but I see things a little differently. What we are looking at is two campaigns in one theater, as part of a larger war. During World War 2, after Pearl Harbor was attacked, the US immediately entered the Pacific theater. After a year’s delay, the US Army landed in the North African theater. Their first campaign was against (Vichy) French forces in Morocco and Algeria. France folded quickly, and a second campaign against Germany and Italy began.

In the Global War on Terror, the US (almost) immediately entered the Afghan theater. After a year-and-a-half delay, the US entered the Iraqi theater, where we fought our first campaign against Saddam, and our second campaign against Al Qaeda et al.

The two wars (WW2 and the GWOT) are not very similar. WW2 was primarily a conventional war, while the GWOT has focused more on counter-insurgency. In Iraq we expected a difficult fight against Saddam and followed by an easy terrorist mop-up. In North Africa we expected a tough fight against Germany, but didn’t expect to have to fight France first at all. Moreover, the Axis and the Islamists are very different enemies.

Still, there are some similarities. Expectations aside, what we actually encountered in both North Africa and Iraq was an easy initial invasion followed by a long, brutal conflict against our primary enemy. Moreover, both theaters — North Africa and Iraq — were seen by many as a distraction.

In WW2, American generals favored an immediate invasion of Europe, while Churchill favored fighting in North Africa first. Roosevelt sided with Churchill, and it proved to be the correct decision. We faced some serious reverses, but ultimately prevailed. Even in the darkest days — much less when we closed in on Tunis — no one said we should pull out of Africa and abandon our allies. That would have stupid. Of course, in WW2 everyone wanted to win.


Obama never said half the stuff he said

April 18, 2008

Obama in the most recent debate:

Obama was asked by a voter via video why he did not wear the American flag in his lapel.

“I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins. This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and, once again, distracts us,” he said.

This whole issue is pretty stupid, but, for the record:

“You don’t have the American flag pin on. Is that a fashion statement?” the reporter asked, at the end of a brief interview with Obama on Wednesday. “Those have been on politicians since Sept. 12, 2001.”

The standard political reply to that question might well have been, “My patriotism speaks for itself.”

But Obama didn’t say that.

Instead the Illinois senator answered the question at length, explaining that he no longer wears such a pin, at least in part, because of the Iraq War.

“You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin,” Obama said. “Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq War, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest.”

A manufactured issue? Yes, but Obama was the one who manufactured it.

(Via Hot Air.)


“Special” again

April 18, 2008

Last month it was reported that the Brown government had put an end to the “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K.  Now it appears that the special relationship is back on:

“The world owes President George Bush a huge debt of gratitude for leading the world” in the fight against terrorism, Brown said. “No international partnership has served the world better than our special relationship … the bond between our two countries is stronger than ever.”

Let’s hope this is a real change in heart.


Heh

April 18, 2008

David Kopel writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Imagine an election race of Pat Robertson versus James Dobson, each of them appearing at organic grocery stores and Starbucks throughout Massachusetts, with each candidate insisting that he alone deserves the vote of gay-marriage advocates. An equally silly spectacle is taking place these days in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky, as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama compete for the pro-gun vote.

(Via Instapundit.)


Pegging the irony detector

April 17, 2008

The Democrats are upset about a partisan political operative (Stephanopolous, they mean, not Russert or Matthews) masquerading as a journalist.  The mind boggles.

Fortunately for Stephanopolous, this will be short-lived.  Once the Democrats have their nominee and he’s a Democrat again rather than a Clintonite, all will be forgiven.


Boo hoo

April 17, 2008

Barack Obama, for the first time in his entire career, is facing a seriously contested campaign. At the debate, he gets some questions he’d rather not answer. (Via Instapundit.) And, since this is a debate, not a press conference, he can’t just walk off. He actually accuses George Stephanopoulos of acting as a Republican operative. (As if!) Well, boo hoo.

I’m honestly surprised by how thin-skinned he is. On the right, we’re subjected to a constant drumbeat of negative press. Every other question at a debate, even a Republican debate, is along the lines of “who does the GOP more resemble, Hitler or Lucifer?” But Obama, someone asks him why he’s cozy with an unrepentant terrorist and by his reaction, you’d think that CBS was making up fake documents about him.

UPDATE: Suddenly Obama isn’t sure if we need any more debates.


Congress seeks criminal probe of altered earmark

April 17, 2008

This is an outrage:

The Senate moved yesterday toward asking the Justice Department for a criminal investigation of a $10 million legislative earmark whose provisions were mysteriously altered after Congress gave final approval to a huge 2005 highway funding bill. . .

Top Senate Democrats and Republicans have endorsed taking action in connection with the earmark that Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) . . . inserted into the legislation. “It’s very possible people ought to go to jail,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). . .

Young’s staff acknowledged yesterday that aides “corrected” the earmark just before it went to the White House for President Bush’s signature, specifying that the money would go to a proposed highway interchange project on Interstate 75 near Naples, Fla.

(Via Instapundit.)

This compromises the basic integrity of the legislative process. There also should have been a criminal investigation last August, when the House Democratic leadership falsified the result of a floor vote in the US House of Representatives:

Democrats appeared to have won the vote, but with the voting time apparently having expired, GOP leaders persuaded three Latino Republicans who had voted with the Democrats to change their votes. At the same time, Democrats say, five Democratic lawmakers who had voted with Republicans were scrambling to change their votes as well. With two of the GOP votes changed, Democrats gaveled the vote shut, 214 to 214, and declared that they had won. But the public tally showed that the Republicans had won, 215 to 213, just as the vote was declared for the Democrats. The official final tally was 216 to 212 in the Democrats’ favor.

But House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said there were no Democrats seeking to change their votes at the time. Moreover, he charged, [House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer had told a protesting parliamentarian, “We control, not the parliamentarians.” And, he said, electronic records on the vote disappeared from the House’s voting system and on the House clerk’s Web site.

UPDATE: On futher reflection, didn’t Congress keep the earmarks out of the legislation this year, in order to circumvent the House’s new earmark rules? If Congress never voted on the earmark in question, that would seem to make its alteration a lot less serious.  (I’ve altered the title of this post accordingly.)


Liberals support a free press

April 17, 2008

Just kidding.  (Via Instapundit.)


Why Wikipedia can’t be trusted

April 17, 2008

The National Post has an column by Lawrence Solomon on another edit war at Wikipedia. (Via Instapundit.) In this case, the page is about history professor Naomi Oreskes’s notorious essay in which she reports that she did a keyword search on “global climate change” and found no papers that disagreed with a human origin for climate change. The edit war regarded another analysis in which Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist, attempted to reproduce Oreskes’s results but obtained strikingly different results instead. Solomon writes that the article implied that Peiser has retracted his critique (which is manifestly not the case), but Solomon’s efforts to correct the article were repeatedly reverted.

My scan of the edits reveals that the edit history is a bit more complicated than Solomon’s column lets on. In the end, however, the entire discussion of Peiser’s critique was deleted, thus removing the misleading information regarding Peiser himself, but leaving the critique unexpressed. This was done while the page was supposedly protected.

While investigating, I learned a few interesting things. I’ve always known that Wikipedia can’t really be trusted on matters of controversy (e.g., climate change, NFL quarterbacks, or even the moon landings), but I had thought that one could get some idea of the arguments by reading the talk pages. It turns out, however, that people “referee” the talk pages as well, even there deleting comments they don’t like.

I also learned that the major Wikipedia editors don’t like to follow the rules that apply to everyone else. The antagonist in Solomon’s story violated the three-revert rule and was not apparently held to account. In fact, they even have a policy that says it’s rude to remind regulars to follow the rules.

Any collaborative project needs to deal with a diversity of interests. In a typical open source project, there are two main interests, the developers and the vandals. It’s not hard to see that one interest is legitimate and the other is not. It’s not so for Wikipedia. As a major source of information (particularly since Google gives it a special status), it has many non-vandal interests, and those interests can’t agree on which are legitimate. Plus there’s the iron law of bureaucracy. This makes Wikipedia into a competition, rather than a collaboration, which explains it in a nutshell.


Abbas planned to decorate Sbarro bomber

April 17, 2008

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was scheduled today to award the Palestinian Authority’s highest medal, the Al Kuds Mark of Honor, to the driver of the Jerusalem Sbarro suicide bomber.  15 people were killed, including 7 children, in the bombing.  Those plans were cancelled yesterday; I suppose Abbas realized that giving medals to terrorists might make it hard to pretend to oppose them.  (Remember, Abbas’s bunch are supposed to be the moderate ones.)

I recognize that we’ve abandoned the “sequentiality” of the Roadmap.  (That was the idea that the Palestinians would stop murdering people before we start giving them what they want.)  But can we at least require that they not give medals to terrorists?  No?  Just thought I’d ask.


Democratic debate #5280

April 16, 2008

This latest debate between Clinton and Obama is panned by left and right.  (Via Instapundit.)  Who can blame them, though, really?  After so many debates, what is left to talk about?  Other than how to win the war, that is . . .


Obama wins coveted Hamas endorsement

April 16, 2008

Power Line reports.  Can the Carter endorsement be far behind?


Bitterness

April 16, 2008

Paid Federal, state, and local income taxes yesterday. Today we get a notice in the mail; the local school district is appealing our property assessment. (Hint: they don’t think it’s too high.)

On days like today, I am bitter. Bitter that I pay so much in taxes, and that people like Obama (and Clinton) think I’m not paying enough.

Come to think of it, the Revolutionary War patriots were bitter over taxes too, and they were into guns and religion. Think that’s what Obama meant?


Al Franken favors lower taxes for Al Franken

April 16, 2008

Al Franken, the Democratic Senate candidate from Minnesota, failed to pay corporate income taxes from 2003 to 2007. (Via Instapundit.) I find it interesting that when it came out that he failed to pay his workman’s comp insurance from 2002 to 2005, he didn’t take that opportunity to pay his other back taxes.


NASA was right after all

April 16, 2008

A widely distributed story about how a German schoolboy out-calculated NASA turns out not to be true:

Widespread media reports claim that a German schoolboy has recalculated the likelihood of a deadly planet-smasher asteroid hitting the Earth, and found the catastrophe is enormously more likely than NASA thought. The boy’s sums were said to have been checked by both NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), and found to be correct.

There’s only one problem with the story: the kid’s sums are in fact wrong, NASA’s are right, and the ESA swear blind they never said any different. An ESA spokesman in Germany told the Reg this morning: “A small boy did do these calculations, but he made a mistake… NASA’s figures are correct.”

It would appear that the intial article in the Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten, which says that NASA and the ESA endorsed Nico Marquardt’s calculations, was incorrect. The story was picked up by German tabloids and the AFP news wire, and is now all over the internet.

(Via the Corner.)

I’m not going to pick on the schoolboy and his science project, but is it too much to ask that before the AFP runs stories from unknown German papers, they might check their sources? (Rhetorical question.)


Nazis invented Olympic torch relay

April 16, 2008

The NYT writes that the Olympic torch relay was invented by Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda film “Olympia.” (Via the Corner.) Who thought Riefenstahl would be a good source of Olympic tradition? The same sort of people that thought it would be a good idea for China to host the games, I suppose.


AHSA endorses Obama

April 16, 2008

I can’t do any better than Instapundit‘s synopsis:

A BOGUS GUN RIGHTS GROUP endorses Obama. Well, he’s all for bogus gun rights, so . . . .

SayUncle has the skinny on the AHSA, a bogus organization that gives anti-guns pols (like Obama) a “pro-gun” organization to belong to.


Time: Sadr won in Basra

April 16, 2008

Dave Price (he reads Time so you don’t have to) notices that Time’s reporting on Basra is radically different from everyone else’s. (Via Instapundit.) While most outlets recognize the recent fighting in Basra as a clear if blemished victory for Maliki and the Iraqi central government, Time is still painting it as a victory for Sadr.

Perhaps we can forgive “How Moqtada al-Sadr Won in Basra” since it was two weeks ago (although there was a time that journalists got their facts straight before going to press), but how about “Al-Sadr Tightens the Screws” from yesterday.

Is Time sitting on a scoop here? Given the lack of any substantial information in the story, it doesn’t seem likely. In fact, all they’re able to come with is: Sadr is issuing demands (from the safety of Iran), there are roadblocks around Sadr City (stop the presses!), and some NGO says that Sadr is getting a bunch of new recruits.


Monster slaying

April 16, 2008

I’m not much of an audiophile, so I never really noticed Monster Cable except when Best Buy clerks try to sell me their ridiculously overpriced cables. Today I learned that actually selling cables is a sideshow for Monster; their real business is filing frivolous claims of patent infringement against smaller connector manufacturers, in order to bully them into signing licensing agreements. Apparently they’ve made enough money on this strategy to buy the naming rights to Candlestick Park!

Now it appears that they may have picked on the wrong small company. In a response to Monster, the President of Blue Jeans Cable first dispenses with the claim on the merits, then writes:

I have seen Monster Cable take untenable IP positions in various different scenarios in the past, and am generally familiar with what seems to be Monster Cable’s modus operandi in these matters. I therefore think that it is important that, before closing, I make you aware of a few points.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985, I spent nineteen years in litigation practice, with a focus upon federal litigation involving large damages and complex issues. My first seven years were spent primarily on the defense side, where I developed an intense frustration with insurance carriers who would settle meritless claims for nuisance value when the better long-term view would have been to fight against vexatious litigation as a matter of principle. In plaintiffs’ practice, likewise, I was always a strong advocate of standing upon principle and taking cases all the way to judgment, even when substantial offers of settlement were on the table. I am “uncompromising” in the most literal sense of the word. If Monster Cable proceeds with litigation against me I will pursue the same merits-driven approach; I do not compromise with bullies and I would rather spend fifty thousand dollars on defense than give you a dollar of unmerited settlement funds. As for signing a licensing agreement for intellectual property which I have not infringed: that will not happen, under any circumstances, whether it makes economic sense or not.

(Via the Volokh Conspiracy, via Instapundit.)

“Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!” I think I have a new hero.


Liberalism ⊢ False

April 16, 2008

When faced with a conflict between animal rights and Muslims, what’s a poor liberal to do?

A Paris prosecutor yesterday called for French film legend Brigitte Bardot to receive a two-month suspended prison sentence and a £12,000 fine for inciting racial hatred in a letter.

In December 2006, Miss Bardot, 73, now an animal rights activist, wrote to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, then the interior minister, criticising the Muslim practice of slaughtering sheep without first stunning them.

Of course, this is not really a case of animal rights, so much as human rights (i.e., free speech and petitioning the government).  Perhaps the animals would have done better.

(Previous post.)


Dave Barry on tax day

April 16, 2008

. . . writes:

Taxpayers: It’s almost April 15, and you know what that means. It means the Miami Dolphins already have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

But it’s also time to file your federal tax return. Yes, this is a pesky chore, but remember that paying taxes is not a ”one-way street.” When you send your money to the government, the government, in return, provides you with vital services, such as not putting you in prison. The government also uses your money to pay for programs that benefit all Americans, such as the Catfish Genome Project.

(Via Instapundit.)


I’m canceling my trip to Victoria

April 15, 2008

The British Columbia Human Rights Commission has ruled against McDonalds in a wrongful termination case involving an employee with a skin condition that made her unable to wash her hands. (Via the Corner.) The commission ruled she should not have been dismissed, and awarded the non-hand-washing employee $55,000.

The commission found that “There was no evidence of the relationship between food contamination and hand-washing” or “the risk to the public if Ms. Datt’s hand-washing was limited.”

Oooo-kay.

I had planned a business trip to Victoria, B.C. this September, but I think I might get hungry.


Adlai Obama

April 15, 2008

George Will tracks the roots of liberal condescension from Adlai Stevenson to Barack Obama:

Barack Obama may be exactly what his supporters suppose him to be. Not, however, for reasons most Americans will celebrate. . . Obama does fulfill liberalism’s transformation since Franklin Roosevelt. What had been under FDR a celebration of America and the values of its working people has become a doctrine of condescension toward those people and the supposedly coarse and vulgar country that pleases them.

When a supporter told Adlai Stevenson, the losing Democratic presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956, that thinking people supported him, Stevenson said, “Yes, but I need to win a majority.” When another supporter told Stevenson, “You educated the people through your campaign,” Stevenson replied, “But a lot of people flunked the course.” . . . [Michael Barone wrote,] “Stevenson was the first leading Democratic politician to become a critic rather than a celebrator of middle-class American culture—the prototype of the liberal Democrat who would judge ordinary Americans by an abstract standard and find them wanting.”

Stevenson, like Obama, energized young, educated professionals for whom, Barone wrote, “what was attractive was not his platform but his attitude.” They sought from Stevenson “not so much changes in public policy as validation of their own cultural stance.” They especially rejected “American exceptionalism, the notion that the United States was specially good and decent,” rather than—in Michelle Obama’s words—“just downright mean.” . . .

The iconic public intellectual of liberal condescension was Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter, who died in 1970 but whose spirit still permeated that school when Obama matriculated there in 1981. Hofstadter pioneered the rhetorical tactic that Obama has revived with his diagnosis of working-class Democrats as victims—the indispensable category in liberal theory. The tactic is to dismiss rather than refute those with whom you disagree.

Obama’s dismissal is: Americans, especially working-class conservatives, are unable, because of their false consciousness, to deconstruct their social context and embrace the liberal program. Today that program is to elect Obama, thereby making his wife at long last proud of America.

(Via Instapundit.) Read the whole thing.


Clinton improves 4 points in Rasmussen poll

April 15, 2008

In the Pennsylvania primary, on the heels of Clinton’s 20-point surge in the ARG poll, Rasmussen has seen a much smaller improvement for Clinton, to a 50%-41% advantage.  (Via Instapundit.)


Good news out of Basra

April 15, 2008

AFP reports:

Three weeks after Iraqi troops swarmed into the southern city of Basra to take on armed militiamen who had overrun the streets, many residents say they feel safer and that their lives have improved.

The fierce fighting which marked the first week of Operation Sawlat al-Fursan (Charge of the Knights) has given way to slower, more focused house-by-house searches by Iraqi troops, which led on Monday to the freeing of an abducted British journalist.

Residents say the streets have been cleared of gunmen, markets have reopened, basic services have been resumed and a measure of normality has returned to the oil-rich city.

The port of Umm Qasr is in the hands of the Iraqi forces who wrested control of the facility from Shiite militiamen, and according to the British military it is operational once again. . .

An AFP correspondent said three northwestern neighbourhoods once under the firm control of the Mahdi Army militia of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr — Al-Hayaniyah, Khamsamile and Garma — are now encircled by Iraqi troops who are carrying out door-to-door searches. . .

Taxi driver Samir Hashim, 35, said he now felt safer driving through the city’s streets and was willing to put up with the traffic jams caused by the many security checkpoints.

“We feel secure. Assassinations have ended, organised crime is finished and armed groups are no longer on the streets,” said Hashim.

“I think Basra will be the best city in Iraq,” he added optimistically. “We are finally beginning to feel there is law in Basra.”

I was worried that Maliki wouldn’t carry through with the Basra mission, so this is very encouraging.


NPR: Video game industry should make more bad games

April 15, 2008

NPR, as always, has its finger on the pulse of America.  In a piece on video games, they correctly observe that video games are now big business and bought substantially by adults. But, they continue, “some critics” say that they can’t be taken seriously until they start taking on serious political issues like the war in Iraq, or teen pregnancy.

Naturally, the teen pregnancy suggestion was a throwaway; what they really want is games that oppose the war.  Hollywood, they point out, has spent a lot of money making anti-war movies.  True enough.  Of course, those movies were terrible and lost (let me check the figures) a gazillion dollars.

Undeterred, NPR (er, “some critics”, I mean) wants the video game industry to do the same.  They laud the one game with the courage to speak out against the war, BlackSite: Area 51.  That figures.  Having played the demo, I can say that BlackSite fits perfectly into NPR’s mold: it was a bad game.  (Gamespot rated it 6.5; an terrible score.)  The game flopped, of course.

Great idea, NPR; we need more games like BlackSite.  We should quit wasting our time on fun ones.

The funny thing is, there are some good, popular games out there that touch on politics.  Dead Rising pits a photographer against a plague of zombies that (surprise!) turns out to be the US Government’s fault.  (You know what would shock me?  If the US Government turned out not to be at fault.)  Even better is BioShock, which deals with liberty, objectivism, and the nature of humanity in a really creative way.  I guess those games just didn’t lend themselves to NPR’s narrative.

I’ll keep my eye out for a game about teen pregnancy.  Sounds like a great idea . . .