Sunday, December 31, 2006

Grim Milestone Alert

The drive-by media just loves this stuff. U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Reaches 3,000.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The death of a Texas soldier, announced Sunday by the Pentagon, raised the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq to at least 3,000 since the war began, according to an Associated Press count.

The grim milestone was crossed on the final day of 2006 and at the end of the deadliest month for the American military in Iraq in the past 12 months. At least 111 U.S. service members were reported to have died in December.
Not to diminish anything, but some might say this is a pittance.
But can war provide similar meaning to a number? What can now be derived from reaching the grim milestone of 3,000 American dead in Iraq? The public's contemplation of the number should have little to do with the right or the wrong of American occupation, nor with the viability of that seed of peace America is meant to be sowing there. Wars are always paid in blood and numbered in lives lost, the value of that sacrifice doesn't rise or fall like penny stock depending on the popularity of a mission. The 3,000th death is as the first — dying being the pitiable but inextricable consequence of war.

That sort of piety is, naturally, lost on both sides, for whom the zeroes in a round number like 3,000 are instead perfect little mirrors to reflect their own hot opinions of the war in Iraq. Anti-war activists loudly mourn the senseless loss of life. Passing 3,000 is a prime opportunity to plumb the depths of their own angers about how the war was planned, sold, and executed. Hawks mourn the fact that America has lost its grit. After all, they point out, 3,000 dead is still less than half the annual toll in the worst years of Vietnam. And amid either World War I or II, an America with a far smaller population suffered larger losses on some afternoons in the Pacific or in Europe than today's America has suffered in three-and-a-half years in Iraq.

President Bush reacts.

Apparently it's also been a rough year for reporters.

Ethiopians Pounding Islamists

Who knew the Ethiopians could kick butt like this? All I know is I'd like them to continue.

Artillery rains down on Somali Islamist bastion.
Somali government forces and Ethiopian allies rained down mortars and rockets on Islamist fighters dug in near a southern port town on Sunday to start a battle that could be the last stand for the Islamists.

As night fell, the Islamists who fled Mogadishu three days ago to take refuge around the towns of Kismayu and nearby Jilib, fired back from trenches in scrubby bushland, witnesses said.

"We will continue fighting the Ethiopians from everywhere until they leave Somalia," Islamist spokesman Abdirahim Ali Mudey told Reuters from the area.

It was unclear if, after two weeks of war, the two sides would go on fighting through the night and into the New Year. Night battles are unusual in Somalia.

The besieged Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) has rallied several thousand fighters at Jilib, just north of the port town of Kismayu on the shores of the Indian Ocean, after a retreat south 300 km (190 miles) from the capital Mogadishu.

Fearing a blood-bath, residents ran for their lives, carrying blankets, food and water on their heads.

"Two-thirds of the population in Jilib have fled the town... nearly 4,700 have fled," aid worker Osman Mohamed said.

The Islamists have built trenches with bulldozers and have more than 60 "technicals" -- pickups mounted with heavy weapons -- supporting some 3,000 fighters, witnesses say.

"We decided to come to the bush here in order to continue with the jihad against Ethiopia. I am on the frontline, I'm just waiting to kill the invading Ethiopians," spokesman Mudey added.

More here.

Conyers: Another Crooked Democrat

The most honest, most open and most ethical Congress is off to a shaky start, as Michigan Congressman John Conyers is "accepting responsibilty" for "possible" ethical transgressions.

I don't see why he even bothers. He's a Democrat. They're allowed to do whatever they please.
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) has "accepted responsibility" for possibly violating House rules by requiring his official staff to perform campaign-related work, according to a statement quietly released by the House ethics committee late Friday evening.

The top Republican and Democratic members on the ethics panel, Reps. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), said in a statement that Conyers acknowledged a "lack of clarity" in communicating what was expected of his official staff and that he accepted responsibility for his actions.

"[Conyers] agreed to take a number of additional, significant steps to ensure that his office complies with all rules and standards regarding campaign and
personal work by congressional staff," they stated. "We have concluded that this matter should be resolved through the issuance of this public statement."

The finding by the ethics panel could spark debate, and perhaps eclipse, the first week of the incoming-Democratic majority’s plans to change the House ethics rules, as well as raise questions about Conyers’ standing to chair the Judiciary Committee.

More from Michelle Malkin and Texas Rainmaker.

I wonder if the media will bring any of this up when he tries to impeach President Bush?

Happy New Year

What is there to be happy about if you're a doomsayer from the lamestream media? They just love bad news. Poll: Americans see gloom, doom in 2007.
Another terrorist attack, a warmer planet, death and destruction from a natural disaster. These are among Americans' grim predictions for the United States in 2007.

But on a brighter note, only a minority of people think the U.S. will go to war with Iran or North Korea over the countries' nuclear ambitions. An overwhelming majority thinks Congress will raise the federal minimum wage. A third sees hope for a cure to cancer.

These are among the findings of an Associated Press-AOL News poll that asked Americans to gaze into their crystal balls and contemplate what 2007 holds for the country.

Six in 10 people think the U.S. will be the victim of another terrorist attack next year, more than five years after the Sept. 11 assault on New York and Washington. An identical percentage think it is likely that bad guys will unleash a biological or nuclear weapon elsewhere in the world.

There is plenty of gloom to accompany all of that doom.
Tells you where these morons are coming from that they believe not taking out the maniacs in North Korea or Iran is good news. Well, whatever bad happens, they'll blame Bush.

On the upside, AP also reports that things are looking bright. AP poll: Americans optimistic for 2007.
The news from Iraq and other national headlines may be grim, but in Greenville, N.C., John Given has a new baby and his first home, and life is good.

So, too, for Sandra Trowbridge in tiny Magnet Cove, Ark. The situation in Iraq makes her feel pessimistic about the state of the nation, but at home, at least, all is well. Even if nothing special has happened to her family, she says, "we still love each other," and that's enough.

And so it goes for most Americans. An AP-AOL News Poll finds that while most Americans said 2006 was a bad year for the country, three-fourths thought it had been a good one for them and their families.

"In a time of war, so little has been asked of us as citizens," said Given, who teaches ancient Greek at East Carolina University. "We haven't had to sacrifice anything. We've been allowed to live our lives very, very well."

Looking ahead, optimism reigns.

Seventy-two percent of Americans feel good about what 2007 will bring for the country, and an even larger 89 percent are optimistic about the new year for themselves and their families, according to the poll.

LGF wonders.

Dysfunctional Giants Near Playoff Berth

I had zero faith they could do it, but they likely live to see another day. Now we'll probably see them head to Philadelphia next week, which surely will make them nervous down there.
Tiki Barber did everything he could to ensure he'd play another day. And in the process, he all but assured Tom Coughlin will coach another day.

In last night's 34-28 victory over the Redskins, Barber delivered the kind of dominating, game-changing performance he hadn't turned in since late last season. The Pro Bowl running back juked and barreled his way to a franchise-record 234 rushing yards and three touchdowns, leading the Giants (8-8) to a victory that all but put them in the postseason after a near collapse to their season and their final regular-season game.

And he proved he's not retired yet -- physically or mentally.

"I've been playing this game for a long time and some people might not agree with me all the time, but I know what it takes for us to win as a team," Barber said. "I know when I get an opportunity to do my job that I'm damn good."

That was a pretty good way to describe his entire night, especially his touchdown runs of 55, 50 and 15 yards. Entering the game, his longest run of the season was 46 yards.

"Sometimes, he gets out there running and I become a spectator," wide receiver Plaxico Burress said. "I know it's not supposed to happen, but when I'm on the other side of the field and I see the back of his jersey, it's always a good thing."

Barber's career game, which broke his previous rushing record of 220 yards set against the Chiefs last year, gave him 1,662 rushing yards on the season -- 120 more than the 49ers' Frank Gore for the NFC lead.

But more importantly, it pretty much gave the Giants back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 1989-90.

: And they're in.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam's Execution Video

See Hot Air, via The Jawa Report.

Ouch. It's a rough landing.

More here and here. Google link.

Final NY Times lovenote to Saddam.

More here (h/t ratherdashing at LGF).

NFL Week 17

Well, it’s the final week of the regular season and there are still playoff spots open, two in the AFC and one in the NFC, which is a mess. The Giants get in with a win tonight, barring a statistical fluke Sunday. After a shaky first week making picks when I started in mid-November, I've had some decent success. I'll tabulate the numbers before I return with picks for Wildcard Weekend.

REDSKINS +2.5 over Giants: I have zero faith the Giants will show up tonight after the tankjob last week. I have even less faith in Tom Coughlin, who has to go. Redskins 27-7

JETS –12.5 over Raiders: Oakland has a decent defense and the Jets struggle to put up points. But with everything on the line, at home, against a 2-13 team, the Jets will be breathing fire from the outset. Happy New Year, Jet fans. Jets 34-13

BENGALS –6 over Steelers: Cincinnati still has a shot to get in the playoffs, albeit remote. They won’t take any chances after last week’s fiasco. Bengals 30-20

COWBOYS –12.5 over Lions: Cowboys are angry after the Christmas blowout at home, and need to get in gear before Wildcard game next week. Farewell, Matt Millen. Hello Brady Quinn. Cowboys 41-10

TEXANS –4 over Browns: Less said the better. Texans 23-10

CHIEFS –2.5 over Jaguars: Both still have remote playoff shot, but the Jags are dispirited and Chiefs are reliable at Arrowhead. Chiefs 23-17

Rams –2.5 over VIKINGS: Rams have a reasonable shot at making Wildcard with 8-8 mark, which they did two years ago, and seem to have a little momentum. Rams 27-21

SAINTS +3 over Panthers: Saints don’t have anything to play for, other than denying Panthers a possible playoff bid, which is enough for me, especially with them getting points at home. Saints 20-10

BUCS –3.5 over Seahawks: Long trip for a meaningless game for stumbling Seahawks, who are locked into the 4th seed in the NFC. They mail it in. Bucs 27-10

Patriots +3 over TITANS: Tennessee has had a remarkable run and has remote playoff shot, but New England still is playing for the third seed and has been gearing up for a playoff run. Experience wins out here, but look out for Titans next years. Patriots 21-20

Bills +9 over RAVENS: Baltimore can still get the No. 1 seed if Chargers lose (unlikely) and will play hard, but the Bills will air it out and keep things close. Ravens 27-23

COLTS –9 over Dolphins: Fish are done and Colts need to establish some confidence before the playoffs. They’re still playing for a No. 3 seed and likely date with Jets. Colts 34-16

Falcons +8 over EAGLES: Eagles will win NFC East with a victory, but are due to come back to earth, which they usually do in big home games. Falcons will find a way to lose the game, but this will come down to the wire. Eagles 26-23

BRONCOS –10.5 over 49ers: Denver isn’t assured anything yet, but may clinch before gametime. Still, they want momentum and Cutler is looking pretty good now. Broncos 37-14

CHARGERS –13.5 over Cardinals: San Diego will likely have to win to secure No. 1 seed in the AFC and won’t take any chances here. Tomlinson may not play much, but will do enough early to bring home a comfortable win. Chargers 33-13

BEARS –3 over Packers: Packers could actually get a Wildcard spot if things go right for them tonight and Sunday afternoon, but even though Bears have things sewn up in the NFC, they hate Green Bay too much to lay down. Bears 21-16

From Feminazi to Islamonazi

Check out the history of this hag in a bag.

She was presented by Channel 4 as an authentic - but anonymous - voice of moderate British Islam.

And on Christmas Day the veiled woman described only as "Khadijah" was given a national televison platform for propagating her views in an "alternative Christmas message" designed to rival the Queen's.

She told viewers Jack Straw was wrong to criticise the veil, claiming concealing facial features "liberated" women.

But the Daily Mail can now unveil "Khadijah" - and reveal that she is in fact Elaine Atkinson, an English convert to Islam who travels the country working for a radical muslim group trying to take political control of Pakistan.

And despite her presentation by Channel 4 as a moderate, in the past the 38-year-old has described non-believers as "rats in cages going round on a treadmill" of consumerism, and declares she would like to see Britain's pubs converted into mosques.

Since going through an islamic marriage ceremony with a British-born muslim of Pakistani origin, Miss Atkinson - a fromer [sic] radical feminist - has become known as Khadijah Iqbal.

LGF has more.

A Lesson for Tyrants

Ralph Peters weighs in on the Saddam execution by noting it's a proud day for the United States and a lesson for tyrants.

SADDAM Hussein is dead. The mighty dictator met a criminal's end on the gallows. The murderer responsible for 1 1/2 million corpses is just a bag of bones.

For decades, the world pandered to his fantasies, overlooking his brutality in return for strategic advantages or naked profit. Diplomats, including our own, courted him, while the world's democracies and their competitors vied to sell him arms.

Saddam always bluffed - even, fatally, about weapons of mass destruction - but the world declined to call him on his excesses. Massacres went unpunished. His invasions of neighboring states failed to draw serious punishment. He never faced personal consequences until our troops reached Baghdad (a dozen years late).

As long as Saddam paid sufficient bribes and granted the right concessions to the well-connected, the world shut its eyes to his cavalcade of atrocities. Even when his soldiers raped Kuwait, the United Nations barely summoned the will to expel his military - and the alliance led by the United States declined to liberate Iraq itself from a tyrant with a sea of blood on his hands.

Everything changed in 2003. For all of its later errors in Iraq, the Bush administration altered the course of history for the better.

It may be hard to discern the deeper meaning of our march to Baghdad amid the chaos afflicting Iraq today, but President Bush got a great thing right: He recognized that the age of dictators was ending, that the era of the popular will had arrived. He and his advisers may have underestimated the difficulties involved and misread the nature of that popular will, but they put us back on the moral side of history.

Read the rest.

Over at NRO, there's opinion from James Robbins, Mario Loyola and William F. Buckley.

Meanwhile, the drive-by media can't help themselves by lumping in Saddam's execution with a bomb blast in Iraq: Saddam hanged at dawn, bomb kills 36.

The Saddam story will quickly disappear from the media radar now as they will no doubt breathlessly report the 3,000th soldier killed in Iraq.

UPDATE: Nice roundup from Lawhawk. Michelle Malkin has video. Gateway Pundit has reaction from the insane left.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam is Dead

Well, it's official. He won't be joining us for breakfast. Farewell, maggot.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Three years after he was hauled from a hole in the ground by pursuing U.S. forces, Saddam Hussein was hanged Saturday under a sentence imposed by an Iraqi court, al-Hurra TV, al-Arabiya and Sky News TV reported.

The deposed president was found guilty over the killing of 148 members of the Shiite population of the town of Dujail after militants tried to assassinate him there in 1982, during Iraq’s war with Shiite Iran.

The official witnesses to his execution gathered Friday in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in final preparation for his hanging, as state television broadcast footage of his regime’s atrocities.

Hopefully Fidel will join you soon.

Say hello to Uday and Qusay.

UPDATE: Image via Fox News.

Saddam Still Hanging Around

OK, I'm getting impatient now waiting for this guy to swing. Now he's looking for a stay of execution from a United States judge, who I hope isn't some moonbat ACLU type. Still, the word is he'll hang within hours.

Hussein's lawyers filed documents Friday afternoon asking for a stay of execution. The 21-page request was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

Attorneys argued that because Hussein also faces a civil lawsuit in Washington, he has rights as a civil defendant that would be violated if he is executed. He has not received notice of those rights and the consequences that the lawsuit would have on his estate, his attorneys said.

"To protect those rights, defendant Saddam Hussein requests an order of this court providing a stay of his execution until further notice of this court," attorney Nicholas Gilman wrote.

The judge was appointed by The Great Stainmaker, always a bad sign.

UPDATE: Via LGF. Now it's official. Tonight's the big night. Happy trails, scumbag.

Mike Tyson Arrested Again

The pathetic tale of Mike Tyson continues. The former heavyweight champion was busted in Arizona last night and admits he's got a serious cocaine problem.

He's also got that strange Maori tattoo on his face that I'm sure makes him wonder at times when exactly he lost his mind.
Boxer Mike Tyson is free this morning but undergoing drug and alcohol monitoring after telling police he has a cocaine problem "and uses it anytime he can get his hands on it."

Tyson, 40, was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence 1:45 a.m. Friday in downtown Scottsdale by a Buckeye police officer working as part of a DUI holiday task force.

Maricopa County Superior Court commissioner Sheila Madden did not set bond at a 9 a.m. hearing but did require supervision of Tyson while he awaits a preliminary hearing Jan. 16.
Maricopa County is home to the famed Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who could well have some fun in store for the aimless Tyson. Iron Mike in pink underwear, perhaps?

MRC's Awards for Worst Reporting

There's just so much to choose from. All the losers, including Katie Couric, Keith Olberdunce, Chris Matthews, Jack Cafferty, Wolf Blitzed, Eleanor Rodham Clift, Andy Rooney, Sam Donaldson, Bryant Gumbel, Matt Lauer and Dan Rather.

A who's who of leftwing hacks, freaks, miscreants and oddballs.

Break Out The Violins

This may be the biggest pile of horse manure written this year. The Washington Post has a piece today called The Legal Year in Review, written by some bleeding heart named Andrew Cohen. The sophistry is enough to make you wretch.
The good news from the world of the law in 2006 is that we did not for once in recent memory have to endure an avalanche of vapid news coverage about a solitary trashy tale of sex and fame and crime. There was no Michael Jackson molestation trial or Kobe Bryant rape trial or Laci Peterson saga to draw our attention away from trials and cases and legal issues of true merit.

The bad news from the world of the law in 2006 is that we didn't take that extra time given to us by divine providence and follow or absorb with any depth or sense of passion or outrage the truly monumental and generally ominous things that were done in the law, in our name, in this fifth-going-on-sixth year of the legal war on terrorism.

Aw, the poor terrorists. Little Andy feels so sorry for them.
From our government's own documents, for example, we learned in 2006 that hundreds of the terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, being held now for about half a decade, never took up arms against the United States or were otherwise a part of Al Qaeda when they were captured by U.S. or Coalition forces shortly after we went to war.
Sure, they were just innocent bystanders who just happened to be around when we swept up Al Qaeda.
We lasted the entire year in 2006 knowing that our executive branch was able and eager to spy upon us, without any warrants or other legal checks or balances upon that invasive power, as part of a domestic surveillance program that many leading legal experts believe is, at best, constitutionally suspect and, at worst, blatantly illegal.
Such an absurd statement is not buttressed by any actual facts.
2006 was not a good year for the Constitution. It was not remotely a good year for the concept of separation of powers in government or for the idea that our system works best when there are sufficient checks on the excesses of one branch over another. It was not a good year for opponents of an imperial presidency or for supporters of a concerned and compassionate Congress.

I suppose he'd be happier living under the Taliban. What a putz.

Useless Politicians

There are useless politicians. Then there is the New York City Council, the most worthless body of blowhards to ever come down the pike. These nattering nabobs do virtually nothing for a nice paycheck. When they are doing something, it's generally just to make noise and a nuisance of themselves. The New York Post today runs down a list of things they sought to ban this year. In this day and age of terror, you would think these pinheads had bigger things to worry about.
Banning things, or trying to, is what the council does best.

Here's the list from 2006.

* Trans-fats.

* Aluminum baseball bats.

* The purchase of tobacco by 18- to 20-year-olds.

* Foie gras.

* Pedicabs in parks.

* New fast-food restaurants (but only in poor neighborhoods).

* Lobbyists from the floor of council chambers.

* Lobbying city agencies after working at the same agency.

* Vehicles in Central and Prospect parks.

* Cell phones in upscale restaurants.

* The sale of pork products made in a processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C., because of a unionization dispute.

* Mail-order pharmaceutical plans.

* Candy-flavored cigarettes.

* Gas-station operators adjusting prices more than once daily.

* Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

* Wal-Mart.

Some of these are just silly. (Candy-flavored cigarettes?)

Others are egregious: Outlawing Wal-Mart is tantamount to picking the pockets of New Yorkers who really can't afford it.

All in all, though, what the council needs is a ban on bills banning things.

Unless it wants to ban . . . itself.

Terror and the Clinton Legacy

History will not treat Bill Clinton kindly. The lazy left, the slothful media and his army of sycophants notwithstanding, the man literally sat on his ass for eight years while the terror mobs grew strong, undaunted by his lame claims that he was doing all he could to stop terrorism.

If his record was so solid, why was he sending Sandy Berger into steal National Archive documents? The Washington Times examines the Clinton legacy and the role Iran played, specifically in the Khobar Towers bombing.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth's ruling that the Iranian government is to blame for the killing of 19 members of the U.S. Air Force in a 1996 bombing in Saudi Arabia highlights again the weak U.S. response to Islamist terror during the Clinton administration. In his opinion, which runs 209 pages long, Judge Lamberth held that the Iranian regime, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS) were liable for damages in connection with the June 25, 1996, attack on the Khobar Towers housing complex near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which was destroyed when a large gasoline tanker exploded alongside the perimeter wall. The ruling permits relatives of the slain U.S. servicemen to go forward with a lawsuit seeking $260 million in damages from the Iranian government in connection with the bombing.

In his ruling, which came in a lawsuit filed by families of 17 of the 19 U.S. military personnel killed in the attack, Judge Lamberth relied heavily upon the testimony of the man President Clinton appointed to head the FBI: its former director, Louis Freeh, who contends that Mr. Clinton and top aides like Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and disgraced former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger hindered his investigation for fear of plunging the United States and our Saudi "allies" nation into direct conflict with Tehran. By contrast, Judge Lamberth decided to look at the evidence and make a decision about Iranian involvement based on the facts rather than the requirements of diplomacy -- which often requires that inconvenient facts be swept under the rug. His findings are a devastating indictment of the role of the Iranian government (and its junior partner in terror, the Ba'athist regime in Syria) in the killing of Americans. He found that the attack was approved by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, and that it had the support of Ali Fallahian, the Iranian minister of intelligence and security -- whose representative in Damascus supported the operation.
Mr. Freeh resigned as FBI director in June 2001; he has said he delayed his departure to prevent Mr. Clinton from choosing his successor, fearing he would have appointed someone who would have damaged the FBI. In his memoir, "MY FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton and Waging War on Terror," and in subsequent interviews, Mr. Freeh has said that his attempts to probe the crime were undermined by the efforts of senior Clinton administration officials to improve relations with what they believed was a "reformist" Iranian regime. U.S. investigators were only able to interview Saudi suspects arrested in connection with the bombing because of the intervention of former President George H.W. Bush, who personally requested Saudi assistance. Mr. Freeh also maintains that instead of pressing then-Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah for help with the Khobar Towers investigation, Mr. Clinton asked the Saudi royal for a donation to his presidential library. Judge Lamberth's ruling strengthens the arguments of Mr. Freeh and others who suggest that Tehran was a big beneficiary of Mr. Clinton's lethargic response to Islamofascism.

Saddam to Hang, But When?

Let's not drag this out. This piece of garbage should have been shot in his rathole a few years ago, but I guess this whole compassion thing extends even to murderous thugs. These folks should know I have a busy weekend ahead, there's plenty of college and pro football action on tap, we have the Ford state funeral kicking off, and we're ringing in the New Year. I don't have time to sit around speculating as to when this guy hangs. I know the guy is a hero to the left, but screw them.

Do it already.
Senior Iraqi officials on Friday dismissed suggestions from Washington that they would hang Saddam Hussein this weekend and said some in cabinet were pushing for the execution to be put off for a month or more.

But Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has called for the ousted president put to death this year for killing and oppressing Shi'ites, said there would be "no review or delay" in the sentence following this week's failure of Saddam's appeal.

And a defense lawyer said he thought Saddam might well die on Saturday after lawyers were told to collect his belongings.

But in a continuation of public confusion at the highest levels and secrecy over the historic proceedings, Iraq's Justice Ministry, which must carry out the execution, denied it had taken custody of Saddam from his U.S. military jailers and said it could not legally hang him for nearly a month.

More at PJM.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sowell: Poverty of Progressivism

We'd all be much better off if more people, especially those in Washington, listened to Thomas Sowell.
People in the media, in academia, and among the intelligentsia in general who are obsessed with “disparities” in income and wealth usually show not the slightest interest in how that income and wealth were produced in the first place.

They are hot to redistribute the existing income and wealth but seem wholly unaware that how you do that today can affect how much income and wealth will be produced tomorrow. Any number of schemes for redistributing wealth have ended up redistributing poverty in a number of countries.

“Progressives” in the media and among academics and intellectuals claim to be interested in ending poverty but the production of more output is the only way to end poverty for millions of people.

It not only can be done, it has already been done in many countries, for all countries were once very poor by today’s standards. But most self-styled “progressives” show virtually zero interest in economic history or in economics in general.

Even in the United States, most people did not have a telephone or a refrigerator as late as 1930. Today, most Americans living below the official poverty level have not only these things but also color television, air-conditioning, a microwave oven, and a motor vehicle.

How did this happen? The progressive intelligentsia show no interest in that question.

Read it all. It's so laden with basic common sense that it no doubt will fall on deaf ears, especially among the so-called intelligentsia.

Breck Girl Announces Candidacy

There's shameless exploitation, then there's a fabulously wealthy ambulance chaser going to New Orleans to pretend he's a man of the people.
Two years after his hopes for a Democratic takeover of the White House were narrowly dashed, former vice presidential nominee John Edwards said Thursday that he is making another run at the presidency.

Edwards — who is calling for cuts in poverty, global warming and troops in Iraq — scheduled his kickoff in New Orleans, still devastated from last year's Hurricane Katrina. He chose the site to highlight his signature concern of the economic disparity that divides America.

"I'm here to announce I'm a candidate for president of the United States," Edwards sold NBC's "Today Show" Thursday, one of three back-to-back interviews by the candidate on morning news shows. "I've reached my own conclusion this is the best way to serve my country."

In case you missed it, here's the Breck Girl getting ready for his announcement.

Meanwhile, Edwards is building a lavish estate in North Carolina. No word on whether he's putting up any Katrina victims there. Somehow I doubt it.
Edwards focus on poverty opens himself up to attacks about his own personal wealth. The former personal injury trial lawyer just completed construction on a $4.2 million home in Chapel Hill that includes a 10,000-square-foot mansion. Republican officials are already talking about the home, saying it offers insight into Edwards' character.

"There's a disconnect between who he actually is and who he tries to portray himself as. It's deceptive," said Linda Daves, chairwoman of the North Carolina Republican Party. "That's no way to build up your credibility."

Cowardly Islamists Cut and Run in Somalia

Maybe we can take a lesson from the Ethiopians. Be ruthless, brutal and spare no mercy to the enemies of mankind. These Islamists talk a tough game and have no compunction about slaughtering innocent people. But when you stand up to them and smack them in the face, they run like the cowards they are.
Somali and Ethiopian troops drove Islamic fighters out of the last major town before Mogadishu yesterday, and the government predicted that the capital and stronghold of the radical Islamists would fall without a fight.

Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said no assault was planned on Mogadishu because the forces of the Council of Islamic Courts were crumbling so fast.

"Islamic Courts militias are already on the run, and we hope that Mogadishu will fall to our hands without firing a shot," he said.

As government forces advanced to within striking distance of this beleaguered city, clan leaders considered abandoning Islamic militias who control the Somali capital and throwing their support to the United Nations-backed regime, based in Baidoa.

More from Bill Roggio and Hot Air.

It's All About Bob

Forget some time for mourning Gerald Ford, Bob Woodward has an agenda to push. Before the body is even buried, Woodward begins "revealing" information from an interview. Naturally, it's used to bash George W. Bush.

Absolutely pathetic. These people wonder why they're so reviled.

Ford Disagreed With Bush About Invading Iraq
Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

I'd suggest Woodward show some dignity and class, but that would assume he has any.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Claudia Rosett: Fiddling While Iran Builds the Bomb

The song and dance routine continues while Iran moves forward. I haven't heard Mahmoud babbling about wiping Israel off the map this week, so I guess we're due to hear from him before long.
It’s time to open an office pool on how many failed resolutions the UN will produce before Iran, on an industrial scale, gets the bomb. We’ve already had a UN resolution with an August 31 deadline — utterly ignored — for Iran to stop enriching uranium (according to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kofi Annan himself told the Iranians not to worry about it). This past weekend we got UN sanctions-lite, watered down to please Russia and China even before they are further filtered through an opaque and corrupt UN system. Iran responded by promising to fire up a whole new set of centrifuges and run them at top speed. Iran’s rulers have learned that the UN is, in effect, on their side — providing a Security Council stacked with their business partners and pals, a stage to dignify their propaganda, and a forum that protects them from surprise attack by requiring months, even years of debate, before even the weakest decisions can be reached.

If the UN were serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear-bomb program, then Iran’s swaggering abuses of recent times would have had members of the UN Security Council, seconded by Annan, calling, pleading, begging for the U.S., with its precision capabilities, to lead a bombing raid on Iranian targets dear to the hearts of the terrorist-spawning totalitarian ayatollahs and their globe-trotting totem, Ahmadinejad. Even if it’s impossible to track down every iota of Iran’s sprawling nuclear program, it ought to be at least feasible to target the known nuclear-related installations, assorted crucial ministries, and enough in the way of Iran’s oil-export and gasoline-import facilities to give Ahmadinejad & Co. a deadly serious message of disapproval, backed by a large repair bill — costing not only money, but the precious element of time. That would be far more fool-proof, not to mention bribe-proof, than anything that goes under the name of UN sanctions.

Meanwhile, Iran pledges a unique form of cooperation.

Iran's parliament passed a bill on Wednesday obliging the government to "revise" its level of cooperation with the IAEA nuclear watchdog after the United Nations approved sanctions on Tehran over its atomic program.

The bill also obliges the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to "accelerate Iran's nuclear activities" in defiance of U.N. Security Council calls to halt enrichment, which the West fears is a cover for building nuclear weapons.

The Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose sanctions on Iran's trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology, in an attempt to stop uranium enrichment work.

"The government is obliged to revise its cooperation level with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," said the bill, which was read out during a parliament session broadcast live on state radio.

More from Andy McCarthy.

Presidents Ford and Reagan

Excellent piece at NRO by Paul Kengor. I wonder what would have transpired had Ronald Reagan won the 1976 GOP nomination? We may have been spared the idiocy of Jimmy Carter.
On the day after Christmas 2006, 30 years after he lost his only presidential bid, Gerald R. Ford, the nation’s 38th president, was called home. At age 93 and five months, he was the longest-living president, outlasting Ronald Reagan, who died at 93 and four months.

The Ford-Reagan link in death is both appropriate and ironic, given the deep and intertwined history the two Republican presidents share.

It was the Gerald Ford/Ronald Reagan relationship of 1975-76 that provided the ultimate contrast between the two one-time rivals, and that defined Ford’s presidency, both in policy and in style.

Disgruntled with Ford’s pursuit of détente with the Soviets, Ronald Reagan in 1975 decided to seek the seemingly impossible: to challenge the incumbent president from his own party, thereby breaking Reagan’s own “Eleventh Commandment:” “Thou Shall Not Speak Ill of Another Republican.”

Reagan fired unceasingly at Ford’s support of détente. “We are blind to reality if we refuse to recognize that détente’s usefulness to the Soviets is only as a cover for their traditional and basic strategy for aggression,” he said in October 1975. “Détente is for the Soviet Union a no-can-lose proposition.”


The Ford-Reagan relationship in the 1970s was a metaphor for Ford’s presidency: His policy toward the Soviets was flawed, and he was neither a notably effective nor inspiring president, but his kindness as a person was hard to surpass.

Gerald Ford’s contribution to history came in his service as a transitional figure, one who no doubt helped heal a divided nation during a critical post-Watergate period, which he achieved through that gentle demeanor. Quite unintentionally, he made another contribution: like Jimmy Carter, he offered an example of what not to do in Cold War policy. By giving détente a chance, and thus an opportunity to show its true colors, he unwittingly revealed it to be a failed route, paving the way for Ronald Reagan to be successful not in 1976 but in 1980, and thereby allowing Reagan to later make a much deeper impact on history.

More on Ford by Larry Kudlow.

Duke Case Unravels

Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson demolish Mike Nifong in A Dirty Game:
The Duke "rape" case unravels
It has been clear for many months that the rape claim is almost surely a lie. But not until the DA's dramatic dismissal last Friday of the rape (but not the sexual assault and kidnapping) charges did Mr. Nifong enablers such as the New York Times and Duke President Richard Brodhead begin distancing themselves from his oppression of three innocent young men.

How can we be confident that the charges are false? Let us count the ways: The police who interviewed the accuser after she left the March 13-14 lacrosse team party where she and another woman had performed as strippers found her rape charge incredible, and for good reason. She said nothing about rape to three cops and two others during the first 90 minutes after the party. Only when being involuntarily confined in a mental health facility did she mention rape. This predictably got her released to the Duke emergency room for a rape workup, whereupon she recanted the rape charge.

Then she re-recanted, offering a ludicrous parade of wildly implausible and mutually contradictory stories of being gang-raped by 20, five, four, three or two lacrosse players, with the other stripper assisting the rapists in some versions. After settling on three rapists, the accuser gave police vague descriptions and could not identify as a rapist any of the 36 lacrosse players whose photos she viewed on March 16 and 21. These included two eventual defendants: Dave Evans, whom she did not recognize at all, and Reade Seligmann, whom she was "70%" sure she had seen at the party, but not as a rapist.

All of the 40-odd other people at the party have contradicted every important part of the accuser's various accounts. The second stripper called the rape claim a "crock" and said they had been apart less than five minutes. The accuser told doctors she was drunk and on the muscle relaxant Flexeril, whose side effects include badly impaired judgment when taken with alcohol. She has a history of narcotic abuse and bipolar disorder, a mental illness marked by wild mood swings from mania to depression, and spent a week in a mental hospital in 2005.

In court filings last week, even Mr. Nifong conceded that, contrary to his claims since March, medical records show no physical evidence of rape--let alone injuries consistent with the accuser's April claim of being beaten, kicked, strangled and raped anally, orally and vaginally by three men in a small bathroom for 30 minutes. Above all, DNA tests by state and private labs, which Mr. Nifong's office had said would "immediately rule out any innocent persons," did just that. They found no lacrosse player's DNA anywhere on or in the accuser and none of her DNA in the bathroom.
The case is now unraveling so rapidly as to be ridiculed on "Saturday Night Live." Mr. Nifong is on his way to being disbarred, unless North Carolina's legal establishment wants to be held up to national scorn. He faces lawsuits and at least a remote risk of federal criminal investigation. As for Durham's black leaders, and many in the media, and much of Duke's faculty, history will mark them down as enablers of abusive, dishonest law enforcement tactics. They will share responsibility for the continued use of such tactics, mainly against black people, after the Duke lacrosse players' innocence has become manifest to all serious people and the spotlight has moved on.

Read it all. Also see this devastating Washington Times editorial.

Taliban Fess Up, Admit Big Fish Was Whacked

Yes, we noted this the other day, but the scum denied it. Now they admit the truth. May he rest in pieces.
A Taliban commander confirmed on Wednesday that the rebels' military chief in southern Afghanistan had been killed in a U.S. air strike on December 19, adding his death was a blow for the Islamist movement.

The U.S. military said last week Akhtar Mohammad Osmani, who had close links to Osama bin Laden, had been killed in an air strike in Helmand province -- a claim rejected by a Taliban commander and spokesman at the time.

But a senior Taliban commander who declined to be identified confirmed Osmani had been killed.

"He has died. We got this information on the day of the strike but our leadership ordered us not to disclose it," the commander, speaking by telephone, told a Reuters reporter in the Pakistani border town of Chaman.

"He was not only an experienced military commander but also good in making financial transactions for us. He had good contacts," he said, without elaborating.

"His death will have some bad impact on our movement for some time," he added.

Keep your heads up. There's more coming.

No, You're a Fascist

One of the more childish and tiresome slurs bandied about by the left is calling everyone who disagrees with them a fascist. Richard Miniter discusses this churlish phenomenon.
By the way, aren’t you tired of the whole “you’re-a-fascist” line? The Fascists and the Nazis are only on the right if you yourself are communist—and therefore, they are barely to the right of you on the political spectrum. To the rest of us, Fascists, Nazis and communists are different sub-species of the same murderous monster, a blood-drenched beast that believes in the power of the state and seeks to dismember or murder every individual and every group in society that refuses to bend to its will.

Those of us who believe in free speech and, its economic equivalent, free trade, limited government, tolerance, the equal freedom of the artist and the entrepreneur, the separation of church and state, and so on, are the enemies of fascists and, their ill-clothed counterparts, communists. Indeed, capitalism is the opposite of fascism, which favors government control of the every economic decision. Calling us (liberals and conservatives) “fascists” simply reveals the Left’s nostaglia for truly evil enemies (like Nazis) and its current reluctance to engage in a battle of ideas. So Bush is a fascist and so is Heinlein…

Peters: Radical Shift in Strategy

Some advice from Ralph Peters. A lengthy piece, but worth reading.
WITH a troop surge nearly inevitable in the new year, we still lack a strategy to win in Iraq. Radical surgery on our approach is the patient's only hope - but the policy doctors in D.C. just want to up the medication.

Washington may be the unofficial capital of the world, but it's a town that thinks small. The real-and-present danger is that a desperate administration and a nervous new Congress won't imagine genuine alternatives to losing slowly or leaving.

Is Iraq hopeless? No. But the path to a positive outcome doesn't follow the traditional wisdom about what's "doable." We must think clearly and boldly, without regard to vested interests.

One thing's clear: If we can't enforce security, nothing else matters. So the wisest course of action seems obvious - except to the Washington establishment: Return to a wartime footing.

Focus exclusively on security. Concentrate on doing one thing well. Freeze all reconstruction and aid projects. Halt every program and close every office that doesn't contribute directly to pacifying Iraq.

Empty the Green Zone. Pack off the contractors. Reduce the military's overhead to those elements essential to support combat operations. Make it clear to "our" Iraqis that it's sink-or-swim time. Remove our advisers from any Iraqi unit that can operate marginally without them (and let the Iraqis do security their way without interference).

Above all, establish unity of command: Stop pretending there's a fully functional government in Baghdad, recall our ambassador until the fighting's over and make this a purely military effort until Iraq has been pacified.

RIP, Gerald Ford

The 38th President of the United States has passed away. Ford was unique in that he was never elected as President and had been appointed as Vice President by Richard Nixon when Spiro Agnew resigned. Before long he found himself President when Nixon also resigned in August 1974.

Ford pardoned Nixon shortly thereafter, earning him the permanent enmity of the haters on the left, who probably still carry the grudge. He was also twice the target of would-be female assassins in September 1975, one a Charles Manson acolyte.

Sadly, Ford lost his bid for election in 1976 to the man who turned out to be the worst POTUS, Jimmy Carter, a boob we've since been saddled with. But enough about him.
Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr., 93, who became the 38th president of the United States as a result of some of the most extraordinary events in U.S. history and sought to restore the nation's confidence in the basic institutions of government, has died. His wife, Betty, reported the death in a statement last night.

"My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age," Betty Ford said in a brief statement issued from her husband's office in Rancho Mirage, Calif. "His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country."

Ford died at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday (PST) at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., about 130 miles east of Los Angeles, the Associated Press reported. No cause of death was given.

Funeral services will take place in Washington and Grand Rapids, Michigan, his boyhood home, the wire service reported, and public viewings will be held in California, Washington and Grand Rapids. More details are expected later today. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, in Ann Arbor, and the Ford museum, in Grand Rapids, will open their lobbies for extended hours so people can sign condolence books. People can also send messages of condolence, or donate to a memorial fund, through the Gerald Ford memorial website.

Others noting the passing of Ford: Michelle Malkin, Power Line and assorted tributes at The Corner as they come in. Pajamas Media roundup here.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

John Kerry, Alone In Iraq

Via Power Line by way of Michelle Malkin.

See how popular John Kerry is with the troops.

Michelle, BTW, did a fine job in the No Spin Zone tonight.

Fisk: Carter Approaching Sainthood

There's a reason they call it Fisking. Apparently there is no level of journalistic depravity the man won't sink to.

I call it the Alice in Wonderland effect. Each time I tour the United States, I stare through the looking glass at the faraway region in which I live and work for The Independent - the Middle East - and see a landscape which I do no recognise, a distant tragedy turned, here in America, into a farce of hypocrisy and banality and barefaced lies. Am I the Cheshire Cat? Or the Mad Hatter?

I picked up Jimmy Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid at San Francisco airport, and zipped through it in a day. It's a good, strong read by the only American president approaching sainthood. Carter lists the outrageous treatment meted out to the Palestinians, the Israeli occupation, the dispossession of Palestinian land by Israel, the brutality visited upon this denuded, subject population, and what he calls "a system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights".

Yes, it gets worse.

More on Fisking here and here. Have at it.

AFP Caught Recycling Story

The laziness, bias and ineptitude is bad enough. Now the media is simply rehashing and releasing the same stories from three weeks earlier. Then they wonder why they rank lower than toe fungus.

Saddam's Death Sentence Upheld

Who says there's never any good news to report?
An Iraqi appeals court has upheld the death sentence for ousted President Saddam Hussein, Iraq's national security adviser has said.

"The appeals court approved the verdict to hang Saddam [Hussein]," Mouwafak al-Ruabaie said.

On 5 November, an Iraqi court sentenced Saddam Hussein to death for the 1982 killings of 148 Kurds in Dujail.

They have my permission to proceed with his execution. Hopefully by this afternoon.

RIP, Uri Dan

A great reporter and friend of Israel has passed away. Longtime readers of the New York Post surely were familiar with the work of Uri Dan. See here for details. As linked in the title, Eric Fettmann eulogizes Dan.
Uri Dan was, quite simply, the greatest journalist I've ever seen - and almost certainly ever will.

Uri's byline was well known on these pages; for a quarter-century, he covered the Middle East - and much of the rest of the world - for The Post. His death early Sunday at 71 ended a close personal friendship of nearly 30 years.

It's not just that, in the course of a journalism career that spanned 55 years, he broke hundreds of exclusive stories. He was an old-fashioned reporter - a whirlwind of energy, a perpetual motion machine who was constantly digging, questioning and probing until he got the story he was after.

He was fearless: He was in West Berlin when the Soviet wall dividing the city was built. He managed to slip across to the communist sector, bribed a Russian soldier to lend him his uniform and paraded around the streets, taking photos, before slipping back to safety.

Uri, it seemed, never slept. He would be up every night till dawn, working the phones and writing his stories and columns in longhand (he never even used a typewriter, let alone a computer). That was one secret of his success. The other was that Uri was genuinely interested in people - famous or not - and what they had to say. Uri was a listener as well as a questioner; people instinctively trusted him and confided in him. He had friends everywhere, in the most far-flung places.

He was a teenage prodigy who first began writing in the early '50s for Haolam Hazeh, a muckraking magazine that was Israel's only outlet at the time for investigative reporting. It was there that he picked up the pen name Uri Dan (his real name was Shlomo Uri - the name was the only thing about Uri that wasn't genuine). When he left to go into the army, the magazine's editor, Uri Avnery, confidently predicted that Uri Dan would become a journalistic legend.

It was in the army that he first met a young officer named Ariel Sharon, and there was an instant bond between them that lasted a lifetime. It was more than a friendship; some likened them to the biblical David and Jonathan, so close was the connection between them.

Uri was at Sharon's side when they jumped together into the Mitla Pass during the 1956 war, and when Sharon crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt in 1973. He was there, as friend and advisor, during the war in Lebanon, during each station of Sharon's career and through every struggle and personal tragedy.

Read the rest.

Islamists Retreat in Somalia

Events continue to unfold in Somalia, as Ethiopian forces pound Islamists. This story has flown under the radar of late, but war-torn Somalia has come under control of Islamists who would like to establish a Taliban-style base of operations. Typically, the UN is silent.
Islamic fighters were in a tactical retreat Tuesday, a senior Islamic leader said, as government and Ethiopian troops advanced on three fronts in a decisive turn around in the battle for control of Somalia.

Somalia's internationally backed government called on the Council of Islamic Courts to surrender and promised them amnesty if they lay down their weapons and stop opposing the government, spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said from Baidoa, the seat of the government.

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, leader of the Council of Islamic Courts' executive body, said the group had asked its troops to withdraw from some areas.

"The war is entering a new phase," he said. "We will fight Ethiopia for a long, long time and we expect the war to go everyplace."

Ahmed declined to explain is comments in greater detail, but some Islamic leaders have threatened a guerrilla war to include suicide bombings in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.

Patrick Mazimhaka, the deputy chairman of the African Union Commission, expressed support for Somalia's government and defended Ethiopia's military advances.

"If Ethiopia feels sufficiently threatened, then we recognize the right of Ethiopia to defend itself if it thinks its sovereignty and its security are under direct threat."

Somalia has not had an effective government since warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, pushing the country into anarchy. Two years ago, the United Nations helped set up a central government for the arid, impoverished nation on the Horn of Africa.

But the government has not been able to extend its influence outside the city of Baidoa, where it is headquartered about 140 miles northwest of Mogadishu. The country was largely under the control of warlords until this past summer, when the Islamic militia movement seized power.

Experts fear the conflict in Somalia could engulf the region. John Prendergast, a senior adviser with the International Crisis Group, said the war "dangerously escalates regional tensions and leaves the Horn of Africa less secure than it has been in a long time."

Some analysts also fear that the courts movement hopes to make Somalia a third front, after Afghanistan and Iraq, in militant Islam's war against the West.

The Islamic group's often severe interpretation of Islam is reminiscent, to some, of Afghanistan's Taliban regime - ousted by a U.S.-led campaign in 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden. The U.S. government says four al-Qaida leaders, believed to be behind the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, are now leaders in the Islamic militia.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Iranians Seized in Iraq Raids

Sure, we need dialogue with them, while they're busy killing our soldiers.
The American military is holding at least four Iranians in Iraq, including men the Bush administration called senior military officials, who were seized in a pair of raids late last week aimed at people suspected of conducting attacks on Iraqi security forces, according to senior Iraqi and American officials in Baghdad and Washington.

The Bush administration made no public announcement of the politically delicate seizure of the Iranians, though in response to specific questions the White House confirmed Sunday that the Iranians were in custody.

Gordon D. Johndroe, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said two Iranian diplomats were among those initially detained in the raids. The two had papers showing that they were accredited to work in Iraq, and he said they were turned over to the Iraqi authorities and released. He confirmed that a group of other Iranians, including the military officials, remained in custody while an investigation continued, and he said, “We continue to work with the government of Iraq on the status of the detainees.”

It was unclear what kind of evidence American officials possessed that the Iranians were planning attacks, and the officials would not identify those being held. One official said that “a lot of material” was seized in the raid, but would not say if it included arms or documents that pointed to planning for attacks. Much of the material was still being examined, the official said.

Nonetheless, the two raids, in central Baghdad, have deeply upset Iraqi government officials, who have been making strenuous efforts to engage Iran on matters of security. At least two of the Iranians were in this country on an invitation extended by Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, during a visit to Tehran earlier this month. It was particularly awkward for the Iraqis that one of the raids took place in the Baghdad compound of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, one of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite leaders, who traveled to Washington three weeks ago to meet President Bush.

Power Line has more.

RIP, James Brown

James Brown, the dynamic, pompadoured "Godfather of Soul," whose rasping vocals and revolutionary rhythms made him a founder of rap, funk and disco as well, died early Monday, his agent said. He was 73.

Brown was hospitalized with pneumonia at Emory Crawford Long Hospital on Sunday and died around 1:45 a.m. Monday, said his agent, Frank Copsidas of Intrigue Music. Longtime friend Charles Bobbit was by his side, he said.

Copsidas said the cause of death was uncertain. "We really don't know at this point what he died of," he said.

Pete Allman, a radio personality in Las Vegas who had been friends with Brown for 15 years, credited Brown with jump-starting his career and motivating him personally and professionally.

"He was a very positive person. There was no question he was the hardest working man in show business," Allman said. "I remember Mr. Brown as someone who always motivated me, got me reading the Bible."

Along with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and a handful of others, Brown was one of the major musical influences of the past 50 years. At least one generation idolized him, and sometimes openly copied him. His rapid- footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson among others. Songs such as David Bowie's "Fame," Prince's "Kiss," George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" and Sly and the Family Stone's "Sing a Simple Song" were clearly based on Brown's rhythms and vocal style.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dear Santa: Can Fidel Drop Dead?

This is weird. All these years the left has espoused the joys of Cuba's free healthcare and how wonderful it was they didn't have to haggle with HMO's. So why is it the devil Fidel Castro needs to have a Spanish surgeon flown in to his island prison?
A renowned Spanish surgeon has been rushed to Cuba to treat ailing leader Fidel Castro, a Spanish newspaper reported on Sunday.

Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, an intestinal specialist, traveled to the Caribbean island on Thursday aboard an aircraft chartered by the Cuban government, according to Spain's left-leaning El Periodico de Catalunya newspaper.

The plane carried medical equipment not available in Cuba in case the leader needs further surgery due to his progressively failing health, the newspaper reported.

But didn't pockmarked despot Hugo Chavez tell us he's not sick? What's going on? Do leftists actually lie to us? Perish the thought.
Cuban officials say Castro is not dying and will return to public life. His absence from the public eye has fanned speculation he is too ill to govern the country he has run since toppling dictator Fulgencio Batista in a 1959 revolution.

Oh, what a joyous Christmas this could be for so many millions who suffered under this animal. To see this despicable maggot go to Hell just as the world celebrates Christmas would truly be a gift for the ages.

Remembering Sacrifice

A fitting tribute on this Christmas Eve. Let's not forget our troops who dedicate their lives to noble causes, and especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. May God bless them all.
Christmas is never more difficult or emotional than during wartime when the fate of many loved ones hangs like a lonely, forlorn ornament on a tree whose branches are shaken daily by violence. It is at this time that we who do not have to experience the ceaseless worry of having a son or daughter or husband or wife in harm's way should not only recognize our good fortune but also understand our obligation to those who do.

Whatever our traditional celebration, it should be undertaken with the utmost sensitivity to the fact several thousand young Americans are not coming home this year or ever and that many more face that prospect in the days to come. It matters not at all that this is a path they have taken of their own free will or that we disagree with the policies that put them there. We owe them far more than they owe us for they really are just the instrument of our collective desire under a democratic process. We put them there with our electoral choices and they've gone without hesitation.

With this in mind, it is incredible to note that Time Magazine's eagerly awaited choice for Person of the Year is us, a reflection of our own image as we gaze at the cover once adorned yearly with the pictures of the world's leading figures, including at one time, Adolf Hitler. This, of course, makes us remember the observation of Pogo, cartoonist Walt Kelley's sage little possum, that "We have met the enemy and they is us." How true. Otherwise we wouldn't be in this mess where even those charged with carrying out a clearly misguided attempt at imposing our political culture concede that it is a cause fast slipping from our grasp -- that the destruction in Iraq may not match the ultimate damage to our national psyche and our place in history as a country that fervently honors justice under the guidance of a supreme being whatever he is called.

Wouldn't the news magazine have done much better selecting a representative of our armed services -- perhaps one from each -- as persons of the year? Or might it not have been more appropriate to choose one of those mothers whose son or daughter has given his or her life in pursuit of our objectives. If the magazine wanted to broaden that honor, it could have simply adorned the cover with a gold star symbolizing the sacrifice so many families have made. And while the editors were at it, they might have made it clear they were also remembering all the innocent civilians in the war zone who were victims of sectarian violence for which we must accept a measure of responsibility.

Read the rest.

Tara's Christmas in Rehab

A busy week for Trump and his bad hair. Feuding with some bloated TV host, whacking Miss Nevada. Maybe for Christmas he can get a haircut.
Donald Trump has figured out America is addicted to addiction stories. With Tara Conner, the current Miss USA, you see the pattern with red-white-and-blue efficiency: Young hottie works hard, makes it, parties too hard, is seen bouncing half-naked on Fox News every 20 minutes, middle-aged male solons on same network tut-tut young babe's immorality. When that gets old even for middle-aged men, she enters rehab.

Yes, this is the age of the short-attention span scandal. Overachievers hit rock bottom before they're 21. And what a story, with the possibility Mr. Trump could utter his signature "you're fired" phrase. Thus, Miss USA's story was exported to media around the globe. O joy to the world.

Shame as a spectator sport? To believe that, you have to believe Mr. Trump has moral standards, although I suppose one can believe the Donald has moral standards for other people. You also have to believe Miss Conner is truly ashamed, not pretending to be ashamed, of stories that have garnered more press coverage than her coronation. (A Nexis check of news stories on Miss Conner showed 94 stories this week, compared to 10 when she won her tiara.) You don't have to be a cynical New Yorker to figure that people don't care as much about beauty pageants as they did 40 years ago, but if Trump Inc. can throw in some silicone and scandal, maybe pageants could make a comeback. Here's a fitting slogan: Miss USA, she's not wholesome anymore.

Anyone who has seen Miss Conner's bikini strut -- and if you watch TV news, you've seen it -- should be clear on Miss Conner's image. She was not about "world peace" -- unless you spell it differently. Her presentation was a celebration of youth and sex appeal.

So who is Mr. Trump to harrumph if Miss USA wants to have some fun? True, until Miss Conner turned 21 on Monday, it was not legal for her to drink, and there have been rumors of drug use. Leave such matters to the authorities, not a comb-over morality czar.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Archive Details Scope of Nazi Camps

Absolutely chilling. Yet there are those out there who still want to deny what happened.
BAD AROLSEN, Germany - Within weeks of Hitler's 1933 rise to power, the iron gates slammed shut on inmates of the first Nazi concentration camps. It was the start of an unparalleled experiment in persecution and genocide that expanded over the next 12 years into a pyramid of ghettos, Gestapo prisons, slave labor camps and, ultimately, extermination factories.

Holocaust historians are only now piecing together the scattered research in many languages to understand the vast scope of the camps, prisons and punishment centers that scarred German-ruled Europe, like a pox on the landscape stretching from Greece to Norway and eastward into Russia.

Collecting and analyzing fragmented reports, researchers at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum say they have pinpointed some 20,000 places of detention and persecution — three times more than they estimated just six years ago.

And soon they will know much more.

Yes, and some will still deny it. Others want to recreate it. Will we have the guts to stop them?

NFL Week 16

I began Week 16 with a loss Thursday night, for some reason ignoring the weather conditions in Green Bay. Now we have the meat of the schedule coming up Sunday and Monday after an expected yawner in Oakland tonight.

Chiefs –6.5 over RAIDERS: Kansas City still has feint playoffs hopes and the only thing the Raiders should be hoping for is the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Chiefs 27-7

Saints +3 over GIANTS: NYG remarkably can still make the playoffs if they lose this game. Can’t see them containing multiple weapons New Orleans will throw at them. Saints 30-27

Titans +4.5 over Bills: Somehow both teams have rebounded to be 7-7 at this point, with remote playoff hopes. A windy day should keep the ball on the ground. Bills quick defense should keep Vince Young in check. Bills 20-17

FALCONS –6.5 over Panthers: Carolina has packed it in and Atlanta has everything to play for. They remember getting smoked by the Panthers in the final game last year and will pour it on. Falcons 34-10

RAMS –2 over Redskins: Rams are another team that somehow has remote playoff hopes. Skins played well against Saints last week, but can’t do it twice in a row on road. Rams 27-21

Colts –9 over TEXANS: Colts can still get a bye and got serious last week against Bengals, while Houston was humiliated in New England. More of the same: Colts 37-17

Ravens +3 over STEELERS: Steelers have played well of late but I can’t understand this spread. Ravens playing for a bye with Pittsburgh having only a remote playoff shot. Ravens 19-17

BROWNS –3 over Buccaneers: I’d rather eat fruitcake than watch this game. Browns 17-13

Bears –4.5 over LIONS: The good news for Detroit. You can still get the No. 1 pick. The bad news: Matt Millen could still be around the screw it up. Bears 26-10

Patriots +3 over JAGUARS: Jittery Jags reeling after fumbling away game against Tennessee last week and Patriots playing for division crown. Oh, and Tom Brady wants to show Pro Bowl voters a thing or two. Patriots 24-20

49ERS –4 over Cardinals: San Francisco could actually win NFC West at 8-8 should they win out and Seattle loses last two. With 10 days rest, they will lay it on the woeful Cards. 49ers 31-14

Bengals +3 over BRONCOS: More or less a playoff elimination game for both teams and in such a scenario, go with the experienced QB in Carson Palmer over Jay Cutler, making only his fourth start. Cincinnati remarkably arrest-free this week, though there’s still time. Bengals 27-20

Chargers –4 over SEAHAWKS: Super Bowl runner-up syndrome creeping in on Seattle, while San Diego has home field advantage in sight. A few more TDs for LT and another week for Seattle to worry about blowing the division. Chargers 33-20

Eagles +7 over COWBOYS: Too big a spread for huge game with division crown on the line. Looks for Eagles to confuse Tony Romo, but for Dallas to also keep Garcia in the pocket and force a couple of turnovers. A field goal game, and my hunch says: Cowboys 20-17

Jets +2.5 over Dolphins: Jets could take the field with their playoff destiny in their hands, a remarkable achievement considering they were expected to be a last-place team. Miami would love to play spoiler, but if anything, Mangini always seems to have his boys prepared; and if they watched film of the debacle in Buffalo last week, they will be ready to throttle weak Fish offense. Jets 7-1 last eight ATS at Miami: Jets 27-17

And with that, I wish everyone

U.S. To Pay $400 Million Toward UN Renovation

A colossal waste of money. All the thieves and dictators do is spit in our face. Now we get to pay $400 million for more of it.

I strenuously object.
The U.N. General Assembly on Saturday approved a top-to-bottom renovation of its landmark Manhattan headquarters building that is expected to take seven years to complete at a cost of $1.9 billion.

Renovation was first envisioned in 2002, and the project was seen at that time as costing about $1 billion.

But the price tag has since soared, due mainly to construction delays, improvements focused on security, and a failed campaign to convince the New York state legislature to approve a new office building to provide temporary space for staff during the work.

Because of the New York lawmakers' opposition, planners decided they could make do with much less temporary space by stretching out the renovations and doing them just 10 stories at a time.

The project is to be financed by increases in the dues paid by all U.N. member nations on a sliding scale. The resolution gives governments a choice of paying their share all at once or in five yearly installments beginning in 2007.

That will put the poorest nations' share at a little under $2 million each. The United States, the world's biggest economy which picks up the tab for 22 percent of the regular U.N. budget, will pay more than $400 million.

Global Warming Brainwashing

It'll soon be time for mass de-programming. At least we can look at the bright side. When these skulls full of mush grow up and realize we're not all living under water, they'll know what many adults already know. Al Gore is a blithering idiot. And in this case, their mother is an idiot.

This insipid piece in the LA Times exemplifies the outright propaganda efforts well underway in our centers of mass indoctrination (schools) and the gullibility of far too many adults.
GLOBAL WARMING is a bit like sex: Long before you think it's time to explain it to your children, they've already heard the mixed-up details on the playground.

I asked my 11-year-old son what he knew. "The water is going to rise about 20 feet, and we're all doomed," he said matter of factly, before dashing off to slug his brother.

Two recent national polls, taken in the wake of "An Inconvenient Truth" and mounting news coverage of heat waves and hurricanes, show the majority of Americans now see global warming as a personal threat. And apparently, word has spread to the prepubescent set that they'd better see the San Diego Zoo while it's still dry.

Apocalyptic fears have shadowed U.S. childhood before this. Who among us boomers doesn't remember all that Cold War ducking and covering? But global warming is profoundly scarier. For starters, to trigger a nuclear holocaust, somebody has to be the first to bomb. To trigger eco-Armageddon, all we need do is continue to ignore leading scientists' warnings.

Besides, quite unlike during the Cold War, there's no evidence that Washington has recognized this crisis. That leaves parents — hard-wired, unlike politicians, to engage in long-term thinking, calculate risks and buy insurance — in a bind. Given our government's glacial response to real-time melting glaciers, how can we help our kids cope?

When it comes to displaying anxiety, adolescents are usually good at jamming parental radar. The essence of juvenile cool is to pretend nothing bothers them, which, combined with shorter attention spans, may be why my son could so deftly juggle species doom and sibling rivalry. And yet as much as kids have faith in their own immortality, experts agree that they're deeply worried.

After all, our children aren't dummies. Even if they don't read the news, they overhear the TV or the anxiety in their parents' voices, discussing the strangeness of yet another balmy midwinter day. It's like so many of us who grew up not talking about the drinking dads and depressed moms; what always makes it worse is when adults pretend nothing's wrong.

So the myth of global warming now is more frightening than nuclear war?


VDH: Why Radical Islam, Why Now?

Few understand and can explain the threats we face from radical Islam like Victor Davis Hanson.
Read any newspaper or turn on any news broadcast and you're bound to encounter stories of Islamic radicals fighting, killing and threatening each other -- and just about everyone else.
• In Somalia, jihadists, with the support of al Qaeda, have clashed with troops loyal to the country's internationally recognized interim government and now threaten neighboring Ethiopia with all-out war.

• Nearby in Darfur, Muslim militiamen called janjaweed wage genocide against black Christian and animist villagers -- apparently with the Sudanese government's consent.

Shi'ite and Sunni militias, each claiming to represent true Islam, keep slaughtering each other in Iraq.

Hezbollah ("Party of God") seeks to destroy democracy in Lebanon by provoking Israel, which it is sworn to eliminate.

• On the West Bank, Hamas and Fatah have taken time out from their attacks on Israel to murder each other and innocent bystanders.

• The Iranian Shi'ite theocracy -- when not hosting Holocaust deniers or sending terrorists into Iraq -- issues serial pledges to finish off Israel.

Pakistan's shaky leadership pleads it can neither target Osama bin Laden nor stop Taliban jihadists hiding in its remote regions from streaming back into Afghanistan.

• In Europe, opera producers, novelists, cartoonists and filmmakers are increasingly circumspect out of fear of death threats from Islamists.

While each conflict is unique and rooted in its own history, the common thread -- radical Islam -- is obvious. It's thus worth asking why this violent, intolerant strain of Islam has taken hold in so many unstable places -- and at this particular time.

The ascent of radical Islam is, perhaps, the natural culmination of a century's worth of failed political systems in Muslim countries that were driven by morally bankrupt ideologies, led by cruel dictators, or both.

Read the rest.

The Pantsuit Fourth in Iowa Poll

Whatever makes her miserable for Christmas is fine with me.
Democratic 2008 front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has a lot of ground to make up in crucial Iowa, with a new poll showing her in fourth place behind Sen. Barack Obama, John Edwards and the state's governor.

And Sen. John McCain leads Rudy Giuliani by one percentage point among Republican caucus voters, the poll showed.

The general election matchup numbers are also stark for New York's Clinton in the first-in-the-nation 2008 caucus state, since they show her losing to top-tier Republicans McCain and Giuliani.

Edwards, the former North Carolina senator who came in second in the 2004 Iowa caucuses, is tied in first place with rising star Obama, with both snaring 22 percent among Democrats, shows the poll conducted by Iowa-based Research 2000 for KCCI-TV.

Coming in third is Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, with 12 percent, followed by Clinton, who took just 10 percent of the caucus vote, according to the poll. Former Vice President Al Gore got 7 percent, with everyone else trailing in single digits and 11 percent undecided.
Despite all the bouquets she and Obama are throwing around, you know she can't stand the guy. What must make her even crazier is the realization that had she just moved back to her home state of Illinois rather than plopping herself down in New York, Obama would still likely be a state Senator.

As for Edwards, this says it all.

U.S. Airstrike Kills Top Taliban Leader

Merry Christmas, mutant.
KABUL, Afghanistan - A top Taliban military commander described as a close associate of Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar was killed in an airstrike this week close to the border with Pakistan, the U.S. military said Saturday.

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani was killed Tuesday by a U.S. airstrike while traveling by vehicle in a deserted area in the southern province of Helmand, the U.S. military said.

Osmani was the Taliban's chief military commander in southern
Afghanistan and played a "central role in facilitating terrorist operations" including roadside bombs, suicide attacks and kidnappings, the U.S. said.

He was part of a group of "co-equals" at the top of the Taliban leadership chain just under Omar, U.S. military spokesman Col. Tom Collins said.

"This guy had been deeply involved in terrorist acts against the people of Afghanistan, NATO and the government," Collins said. "He was a top commander of Taliban operations in the south and now he's no more."

He won't be down for breakfast. Co-equals, huh? Sounds like they're taking a page out of the Democrat playbook.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Gitmo Vermin Get Holiday Cards, CAIR Whines

WASHINGTON — How do you say "Season's Greetings" to an enemy combatant being held at Guantanamo Bay? It's only a guess, but maybe the cheerful holiday cards go like this:

Dear Avowed Enemy of America: Merry Christmas.

Dear I Yearn to Be a Martyr and Hook Up With 72 Virgins in Heaven: Happy Hanukkah.

Dear Friend of Usama Bin Laden: Happy New Year.

It's a well-established tradition for Americans at home to deliver Christmas cheer to U.S. soldiers stationed around the world, but it turns out that prisoners held in the War on Terror are getting good tidings of their own, too.

The 400 or so detainees at Joint Task Force detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have received approximately 500 holiday greeting cards, said Army Col. Lora Tucker, a spokeswoman for the prison.

She said she did not know the faith content of the cards sent to the mainly Muslim detention population, because "Once it goes to the detainee, it's the detainee's mail."

She said the guard force at Gitmo has no interest in the content of the mail after it is screened for operations and security purposes.

Because nearly all the cards came from the United States, they probably had either a "happy holiday" or a Christmas theme, Tucker said, although it was possible some of the cards might be for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Adha.
Naturally, the terrorist lovers at CAIR have a problem with this.
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on Islamic-American Relations, said the cards being sent to the detainees could be for the Eid ul-Adha holiday, which begins Dec. 30, but the tradition of card exchanges is nowhere nearly as established in the Muslim faith as it is in the Christian faith, especially in the United States.

"If the message is religiously appropriate in terms of being an actual greeting card, if that's what they're intended to do, then that's one thing," Hooper said.

BUT "if there's an orchestrated effort to somehow proselytize the detainees, I think that would be inappropriate in that they are in a captive situation."

Boo hoo.

UPDATE: Courtesy of ecmarm at LGF: