I did something nice today

I didn’t blog much today (sorry), but I did take time out from an insanely busy schedule to do something nice:  I had lunch with Neo-neocon.  She was in town visiting, and we got together for some Chinese food and conversation.  Both were excellent.  Neo is precisely what you’d expect from her blog:  thoughtful, traditionally liberal in her outlook (a la Dennis Prager, who claims to be a John F. Kennedy era liberal), and articulate.  It was such a pleasure to have this break in an otherwise long and often frustrating day.

Rosie and me

In some way, the intellectual differences between moonbats and me can easily be distilled down to thoughts about 15 captured British sailors. Rosie O’Donnell, an exhibitionist lesbian who would quickly be put to death were she an Iranian citizen, earnestly opines on American television that the Iranians acted in good faith to defend their territorial integrity, and that we should believe all of their promises and representations. (This touching faith in the Iranians is just a launching pad for accusing the U.S. Government of being behind 9/11, of course).

Rosie holds to this laughable position despite the fact that the Iranians have had to adjust their manifest lies in order to make them fit with irrefutable facts. She also does this despite the fact that the Iranians have made a special effort to humiliate and demean the one British woman captured — something that seems not to bother Rosie’s feminist sensibilities.

Can’t you just imagine the convoluted thinking in Rosie’s brain as she tried to deal with this assault on Western womanhood? It’s kind of like that old kid’s joke about falling out of an airplane. You remember: I fell out of an airplane. That’s bad. I had a parachute. That’s good. The parachute broke. That’s bad. But I landed in a river. That’s good. But I can’t swim. That’s bad. And on and on until your ingenuity, or your audience’s patience, gives out.

In the Rosie version, it goes

A woman was captured. That’s bad. But she was a complicit member of the vast military complex. That’s good, because her capture serves her right. Of, course, she’s British. That’s kind of bad, because they’re socialists, which is a good thing (as long as they don’t go after my millions). But Tony Blair is threatening economic sanctions against the poor Iranians. That’s bad, because he’s being a Western bully. As part of her captivity, they’re forcing her to wear a scarf over her head and parading her on TV, both in violation of the Geneva convention. Well, it might be bad, because maybe she doesn’t want to be humiliated this way. On the other hand, she could be having a bad hair day, and everyone wants to be on TV (right?), and the Geneva Convention applies only to bullying imperialist nations such as the United States, not to poor, little beleaguered oil rich nations with Muslim extremists in power.

Ah, the heck with all this: Somehow, it’s George Bush’s fault, and that’s GOOD.

When I hear about all the “confessions” the British sailors are issuing (in publicly televised sessions that violate the Geneva Convention, of course), I have no doubt but that the captives are being coerced, threatened, and possibly tortured. Although I haven’t yet seen any ruminations from the moonbats about these confessions (I haven’t been trolling the sewers of the more extreme liberal blogs), I’m willing to bet that they are accepting these confessions at face value. And why shouldn’t they? In Rosie the Moonbat world, Iran is the good guy, and is just trying to defend it’s poor little ol’ self from the big, bad, surprisingly helpless and hapless British Navy. (Queen Victoria is rolling in her grave as she hears through the ghost grapevine that a giant British battleship did nothing at all as its sailors were kidnapped.) The Moonbats also have a long and, to them, honorable tradition, dating back to Soviet times, of putting complete faith in the Kangaroo courts and show trials that the worst dictatorships periodically like to stage.

Yup. I’ve passed the test. I’m definitely not a moonbat.

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The Watcher’s Council rides again

Folks, the votes are in at the Watcher’s Council and the winners are:

In the Council-authored category are Eternity Road’s Demographics and the Medicalization of Human Existence (first place) and Colossus of Rhodey’s Student Press Rights (second place).
In the non-Council category, the winners are Michael Yon’s Tabula Rasa (first place) and Kobayashi Maru’s Iranian Machinations : Sun Tzu Would Be Pleased (second place).

As you’ve come to expect, they are extremely good articles and are well worth any time you can allocate to them.

Our spineless administration

It seems as if, to the extent the administration still retains cajones, they’re put to a single (and laudable) service: we will not arbitrarily withdraw from Iraq. As to everything else, I think Ann Coulter’s latest screed is correct:

Democrats have the breathtaking audacity to claim that Bush’s replacing his own political appointees is “politicizing prosecutions.”

They say this as Sandy Berger walks free after stealing and destroying top-secret national security documents – but Lewis “Scooter” Libby faces decades in prison for not outing a covert agent. (Let’s hope he’s learned his lesson!)

They say this as Rep. William “The Refrigerator” Jefferson sits on the Homeland Security Committee while waiting for the $100,000 found in his freezer to thaw – but Tom DeLay remains under an indictment by some hick prosecutor in Texas for an alleged accounting violation.

They say this as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid draws interest on the sale of a property he sold in a complicated land swindle – but American hero Randy “Duke” Cunningham rots in prison.

They say this while Sen. Chuck Schumer pays no price whatsoever for his Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee having illegally obtained a copy of Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele’s credit report, for which one employee, Lauren Weiner, pleaded guilty, but served no prison time.

***

Democrats have created a world in which a DNC card is a “get out of jail free” card, and “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” means “no doubt the defendant is Republican.” (If Democrats keep this up, they’ll have to rethink their push to give inmates the right to vote.)

***

Bush should say: “We did it, it was political, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Then he should start holding hearings on Congress’ obstruction of the war effort. Members of Congress should be asked to come before the administration’s hearings and testify under oath about their commitment to victory. If they are not traitors, what do they have to hide? Surely they will be willing to state under oath that they are not undermining the war effort for partisan political gain.

The hearings could be televised in prime time: “Traitor or No Traitor?”

Read the rest here.

That head scarf

It’s no surprise to me that Iran is reneging on its promise to release the single woman amongst the captured British sailors. That was never more than a feint, intended to buy time while Iran keeps the pressure on a paralyzed Britain. What irks me is something different, and petty, since I haven’t walked a mile or a minute in Faye Turney’s shoes: it’s that headscarf she’s shown wearing in the illegal-under-the Geneva-convention videos made of the captured sailors. Has Turney converted to Islam? If she hasn’t, why is she wearing a head scarf? Presumably her captors insisted she wear one, but why isn’t she ripping it off her head. She’s not their willing guest and certainly owes them no respect for their religious beliefs. She’s a British sailor, for goodness sake, not an Iranian woman.

As I’ve said, I haven’t walked in Turney’s shoes, and I don’t know what coercion she’s under but, every time I see that picture of her “scarved,” I want to reach through my computer screen and reveal her blonde, British hair for all the Muslim misogynists to see and fear.

UPDATE:  I’m in good company.  Hugh Hewitt reached the same conclusion I did about that damn little piece of fabric.

Must see UN TV

A few days ago, based on a post in Little Green Footballs, I included in my blog a video of Hillel Neuer, of UN Watch, politely blasting the UN Human Rights Council for consistently supporting the world’s most murderous regimes while equally consistently demonizing Israel, the only Democracy in the Middle East.  I noted, as did LGF, that the Council President demanded to have Hillel’s speech erased from the record.  Now, the ever helpful LGF has posted a video with all the speeches that effortlessly flow into the UN record.  Here’s Johnson’s description of the “approved” UN rhetoric: 

UN Watch has now put together another must-see video, showing the kinds of disgusting, evil speeches that are NOT banned by the UN Human Rights Council—including support for the execution of homosexuals, support for terrorist groups, Holocaust denial, and the inevitable demonization of Israel (to a frightening degree).

Anyway, check out the LGF post, watch the video, and (a) see your taxpayer dollars and work and (b) see the entity the Democrats think should dictate America’s foreign policy, as well as many of its internal policies.

Fiscally responsible Democrats

Accepted wisdom is that one of the reasons the voters gave Republicans the boot was that the Republicans, although they did lower taxes and increase federal revenues, spent money like it was going out of style. The Democrats, for the first time in their political history, positioned themselves as the fiscally responsible party. Turns out leopards don’t change their spots. Currently, the Dems are poised, not only to increase our taxes dramatically, which will inevitably choke off available revenues that can in future be taxed, but to increase spending, far above whatever the Republicans were frittering away. Here’s the Captain’s take:

Many people abandoned the GOP in the midterms because of their lack of discipline in federal spending. Discretionary spending rose by over 30% during the six years that the Republicans controlled both elective branches of government. They reduced taxes and grew the economy, but the GOP never delivered on their initial promise to reduce government an rein in spending.

Based on those failures, the nation gave the Democrats the majority in both chambers of Congress. What did we get? No decrease in federal spending; the Democrats want to grow the government by 2.4% each year, which would mean adding close to $100 billion in spending each year. In order to do that, they want to increase taxes across the board, choking off economic growth and making people even more dependent on the government.

By 2011, the added tax burden on every taxpayer would be over $1100 dollars. Twenty-six million small businesses would have to pay almost $4,000 in extra taxes. More than five million Americans whose incomes are too low to pay taxes now would have to start paying in 2011, making the Democratic plan more regressive than what it seeks to replace.

Democrats and taxes, together again after twelve years in the wilderness. It sounds like a movie romance — and we’re footing the bill for the production.

Mr. Bookworm and I work quite hard. As it is, between property taxes, state taxes, federal taxes, payments to keep social security afloat (because I don’t believe I’ll see this money come back at the end of my working days), gasoline taxes, sale taxes, etc., we see more than 50% of our money vanish into the government maw. The only type of tax where I feel the money is spent reasonably well is my local property tax, and that’s precisely for the old-fashioned reason that the local government is incredibly attuned to my community’s specific needs and desires.  There is also, as I can tell you from my eyewitnesses point of view, almost no waste or corruption in my little government.  This is a lot closer to “no taxation without representation” than the money chewing pork barrel in D.C.

Jews in the know

Here’s an old joke from the Soviet era:

Rumor in Moscow has it that the grocery store has cans of meat. Despite the fact that it’s a very cold day, a long, long line instantly forms outside the store. After a couple of hours, a Communist official comes out of the store and announces, “Supplies are not as large as we first believed. All Jews must leave the line.” With empty bags and empty stomachs, the Jews quietly depart. Another couple of hours go by, and the same official emerges from the store, this time stating, “Supplies are even smaller than we thought. All non-Party members must leave the line.” The chilled, hungry non-party members wander off. Another two cold hours go by, and the official comes out for the last time: “Sorry, we have no supplies. Everyone must go home.” And as the Communist Party members wander off into the frigid afternoon, one can be heard murmuring to the other, “Those damn Jews! They get all the luck.”

Why am I telling this hoary old joke? Because the UN announced that it is going to make a major push for circumcision as a way to curtail the spread of AIDS. Jews, of course, have been circumcising their baby boys for more than 5,000 years. And somehow, somewhere, some little person is going to make the connection that the Jews, by doing something unpleasant that many people don’t want to do, lucked into something!

UPDATE:  With perfect timing, after recycling that old Soviet joke, I read today in NRO that there is a whole movie coming out about the anti-Communist humor in the Soviet Union that even the Communists could not suppress:

But regarding an ideology with deadly seriousness doesn’t mean that it can’t also be laughed at. Director/co-writer Ben Lewis’s new documentary Hammer & Tickle, which was co-produced by the Moving Picture Institute, chronicles the long history of jokes about Communism, in which those who lived under Communist oppressors were — when they managed to sneak it past the authorities — able to wring some humor out of the system that surrounded them. Communism’s all-encompassing terror, the film suggests, may even have given its humor a boost. As one of the film’s subjects wryly states, “The worse the government, the better the jokes.”

The documentary recounts a number of the many, many jokes that spread, often secretly, throughout the communist citizenry during the long tenure of Soviet Communism and its various offshoots. But Hammer & Tickle isn’t merely a joke book on film. It’s a brisk, concise lesson in the grim history of Soviet Communism told through a series of joke-centered anecdotes.

Fascinating stuff in an Israeli online paper

Sometimes, you open a web page, and find the most interesting things.  Today, I found slightly heartening (the first two stories) and definitely heart warming (the last story) three of the stories at YNet news, as of 8:13 PST (some of the others were less than thrilling).  Briefly:

Arabs are talking peace with Israel.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that they’re trying to revitalize the Saudi plan, which called for Israel to retreat to her pre-1967 borders.  Even the UN had figured out that was a bad idea.  So, either this is the opening in a real negotiation, or this is just the kind of pap Arabs put on for a credulous Western media.  The only reason I’m somewhat sanguine about it is because I read somewhere (can’t remember where) that Arabs are finally slowing on their demand for a right of return — a demand that would have flooded Israel with Muslims and destroyed the State from the inside out.

Israelis and Palestinians may be returning to security coordination.  Working with each other is a start, I guess….

And, best for last:  “Evangelical Christians from around the world have presented a ‘letter of repentance’ to the Jewish people expressing remorse for Christian persecution throughout history, during a ceremony at the Knesset on Wednesday.”  Here’s one Jew who says thank you!

America vs. Israel

I put off reading it, because I knew it would depress me. Then, because I also knew it would be important to read, as well as lucidly written, thought-provoking, intelligent, and informative, I got over my childish reluctance and read part two in Richard Baehr’s three part expose about the increasing hostility on the American Left towards Israel.  Fortunately, the article also reveals the logical fallacies underlying so much of that hostility.

Surprisingly, to the extent it focused on the native common sense of ordinary Americans, as opposed to the twisted thinking of American intellectuals, including many self-hating Jews (Soros, Chomsky, etc.), it was also less depressing than I feared.  Nicely, it celebrates the beauty of the connection between Jews who support Israel and Evangelicals who do the same.

Anyway, I’m quoting a little bit from the article (the cheering part), just to whet your appetite for the whole thing:

Would American policy change if the debate were opened up?
The real problem for pro-Palestinian Arabs and Muslims and their allies on the progressive left (who have adopted anti-Israel attitudes as a religion, much like their passionate hatred of the Iraq war and George Bush), is that Americans are not on their side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  If Congress in a largely bipartisan fashion is pro-Israel, it is because their constituents are overwhelmingly pro-Israel. AIPAC did not make the man or the woman on the street uncomfortable with Palestinian suicide bombers, or with the Palestinians who cheered the 9/11 attacks in cites across the West Bank and Gaza, or with the Palestinian media, schools and mosques in which hatred is spewed for Jews, Christians, America, the West, and all non-Muslims (infidels).
The Gallup organization has been polling Americans on their sympathies in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians for decades. In every poll taken on the subject, the pro-Israel group has always been much larger. In the latest survey, the numbers show  58% for Israel (close to an all-time high), and 20% for the Palestinians .  The 38% margin is one of the largest ever recorded in the survey. Gallup says fewer Americans are neutral or do not care about the conflict than in the past.  The results also show very sharp differences among self-proclaimed Democrats and Republicans. Democrat-leaning voters are much more likely to be supportive of the Palestinians than Republican-leaning voters.
In the last few years, there has been a succession of books attacking evangelical Christians, also called “right wing Christians”, for their alleged control over American politics. In fact critics on the left believe they are in the center of political debate, and all who disagree with them are right wing or far right wing or “wingnuts”.  It is not clear whom they would regard as left wing other than Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao perhaps (but only on their bad days).  It is not surprising that some of the most vitriolic polemicists on the subject are also hard-line anti-Israel in their views (Chris Hedges is a prime example). With Christian Zionism in full bloom, the left’s hysteria over and hatred of the Christian right will only be more on display, and more intolerant.  Christian evangelicals are a very large group of pro-Israel Americans who are among those surveyed in all the polls taken.  And no Israel lobby was needed to make them supportive of the one Jewish state.

Naming names

All the early reports of the riots at Paris’ Gare de Nord train station — and most of the subsequent ones, as well — have referred to those ubiquitous “youths” as the troublemakers. (And if you’ve ever seen the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” every time you hear the word “youths,” you want to giggle.) This is London, however, is finally naming names or, rather, national origins:

Many of the rioters appeared to be of African or North African origin.

Also, despite reports I’ve read about police brutality being the problem (i.e., that the police were too rough with the original fare dodger), it looks as if, aside from breaking the law by dodging the fare, the original malfeasor, who has a long record, tried a little brutality himself:

The fare dodger, who punched one ticket inspector, has a lengthy criminal record, interior minister Francois Baroin said.

Police, who made 13 arrests, said he was an illegal immigrant from Congo who has challenged efforts to expel him. He was convicted in 2004 for insulting a magistrate.

Note the “illegal immigrant” part of the equation when it comes to describing the man who started it all. I rather wonder about the immigrant status of the rest of the “youths” involved in this by now typical Paris kerfuffle between the police and these African and North African immigrants.

On a related topic, Mr. Bookworm and I are about 2/3 of the way through Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie Blood Diamond. The reviews were a little sour, but I think it’s a good movie for two reasons: First, it has DiCaprio, a man I think is one of the best actors around. I like watching him, and I think he’s matured gracefully from a little boy to an actor of substance. I like watching him so much that I assiduously ignore any stories about him — his lifestyle or politics — so that I won’t be so soured on him that I stop watching his movies. I did catch, though, that he has an Israel girlfriend, which indicates, although it doesn’t prove, that he’s not an anti-Semite.

Second, the movie portrays really well a vital fact we all tend to forget. As Mr. Bookworm inelegantly stated, “Africa is a s**thole.” While there do seem to be pockets of civility, for the most part, Africa is a continent that catapults wildly from one natural or man made disaster to another, without pause, and always with the highest number of brutally abused victims, especially children. Some might think the movie exaggerates the terrors of rebel warfare (this time in Sierra Leone), but I’ve read enough articles and stories over the last several years to believe that, if anything, this blood-drenched movie is weak on portraying real life in the most degraded parts of Africa.

Keith Richburg, an African-American, was only telling the truth (and presciently in many ways) when he wrote his 1998 book Out of America : a Black Man Confronts Africa. Having served as the African bureau chief for a major American newspaper (I can’t remember which one right now), he makes the very un-PC admission that he is incredibly grateful to be a black man in America, rather than Africa. He holds to this belief despite the fact that it was the evils of slavery several hundred years ago that resulted in his ancestors’ being transported from one land to another. In other words, his ancestors suffered so that he could live. Incidentally, the book is also a great indictment of the African-American political leaders who resolutely turn a blind eye to a lot of the worst dictators in Africa so as to score political points at home.

As if it’s not sufficiently expensive for ordinary people to live in SF

No comment:

Paper or plastic? Not anymore in San Francisco.

The city’s Board of Supervisors approved groundbreaking legislation Tuesday to outlaw plastic checkout bags at large supermarkets in about six months and large chain pharmacies in about a year.

The ordinance, sponsored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, is the first such law in any city in the United States and has been drawing global scrutiny this week.

“I am astounded and surprised by the worldwide attention,” Mirkarimi said. “Hopefully, other cities and other states will follow suit.”

Fifty years ago, plastic bags — starting first with the sandwich bag — were seen in the United States as a more sanitary and environmentally friendly alternative to the deforesting paper bag. Now an estimated 180 million plastic bags are distributed to shoppers each year in San Francisco. Made of filmy plastic, they are hard to recycle and easily blow into trees and waterways, where they are blamed for killing marine life. They also occupy much-needed landfill space.

Two years ago, San Francisco officials considered imposing a 17-cent tax on petroleum-based plastic bags before reaching a deal with the California Grocers Association. The agreement called for large supermarkets to reduce by 10 million the number of bags given to shoppers in 2006. The grocers association said it cut back by 7.6 million, but city officials called that figure unreliable and unverifiable because of poor data supplied by markets.

The dispute led to a renewed interest in outlawing the standard plastic bag, which Mirkarimi said Tuesday was a “relic of the past.” Under the legislation, which passed 10-1 in the first of two votes, large markets and pharmacies will have the option of using compostable bags made of corn starch or bags made of recyclable paper. San Francisco will join a number of countries, such as Ireland, that already have outlawed plastic bags or have levied a tax on them. Final passage of the legislation is expected at the board’s next scheduled meeting, and the mayor is expected to sign it.

The grocers association has warned that the new law will lead to higher prices for San Francisco shoppers.

I don’t know if it makes me feel better or worse to know that I went to school with one of Supervisor Mirkarimi’s relatives.  SF is a small world, and I guess we can all boast of one or two degrees of separation between any one of us and a SF silly person.