Anger on the Left *UPDATED*

My father was a very angry man. At whichever job he had, he was pretty darn certain that management was out to get him. At stores, he knew he was being cheated. My mother always attributed this anger, not to the poverty and dislocation of his youth (placed in an orphanage at 5, refugee from the Nazis at 15, fighter in the RAF at 19), but to the Communism of his youth.

You see, my father grew up in the Dickensian Jewish slums of Berlin in the 1920s. Unsurprisingly, these slums were hotbeds of Communism and, while his mother was apolitical, his brother and sister were fervent Communists. Although they were much older than he was, they nevertheless managed to infect him with their political ideology, so much so that, while he eventually was a rock solid Democrat (until 1980) his world view was colored by the concept of class warfare — in his mind, anyone who was better situated than he was, was by definition out to get him.

My Dad and his siblings, therefore, were Communists in the perfect Marxist sense. They emerged from the underclass. They were genuinely downtrodden. The cards were completely stacked against them. Their class animus was understandable. It also made them very, very angry, and fairly dysfunctional in ordinary capitalist circumstances. His sister, indeed, was so hostile to Israel for adopting a mild form of socialism that she returned to East Germany to live in the Communist paradise. His brother was incapable of working in a capitalist system, or even a semi-socialist system, and ended his life in squalor, a low-level civil servant in Copenhagen, living in a one room apartment with his wife and child.

As for my Dad, he married my mom. My mom, too, had a life time of poverty and dislocation, but was never tainted by Communism. She is, indeed, to this day, perfectly happy with Capitalism in theory, although the fact that she was married to my father meant she never got to realize any real economic benefits from the system. Because of my Mom, my Dad completed his education, had children, and held down a job. He bought a home, and he became friends with rich people because, while we had no money, my Mom has class. He discovered that rich people, at least in America, weren’t evil parasites but were, in fact, very nice — and very hard-working. He moved right, so far, in fact, that he was one of the Reagan Democrats. I’m certain that he would be a McCain Demcrat too, were he still living. But he still would have been paranoid, convinced that the world was out to get him.

Believe it or not, there is a point to all of this biographical rumination and it’s anger. One could accuse my Mom of being guilty of amateur armchair psychology, with her certainty that it was Communism, not poverty, that fed my Dad’s anger. I think she’s right, though. We see even today that the Left is very, very angry. Despite the fact that life in America is, for most people, very good and certainly is, again for most people, better than it’s ever been at any other time or place in history, the Left sees America in only the grimmest terms. America is an evil oppressor. America intentionally hurts people. America lives to abuse people for racist reasons. You’ve seen DailyKos and the Democratic Underground and the HuffPo and the New York Times and the WaPo, and you know these feelings are out there.

What’s peculiar about this evil capitalist mantra is that it no longer emanates from the underclass. Think about the proponents of these theories: John Kerry, billionaire; Al Gore, multi-millionaire; John Edwards, multi-millionaire; Hillary Clinton, multi-millionaire; Nancy Pelosi, multi-millionaire; Jeremiah Wright, rich pastor moving into exclusive white enclave; the Obamas, products of America’s top education systems and, within the past few years, millionaires; Harry Reid, multi-millionaire; Barbara Boxer, millionaire. I’m stopping here, but you can add your own names to the list.

These people I’ve named are not, as my father was, social rejects who live in (or came from) squalor that is almost impossible to imagine now. They haven’t been kicked from pillar to post by the upper classes, nor have they been refugees, nor have they been denied opportunities. These people are the cream of the crop, the ones who have benefited most from America’s economic and educational opportunities. For those of us working gazillions of hours a week, holding two jobs, watching fuel prices tick up, wondering how we’ll pay for our children’s educations, and hoping no one gets seriously sick, they are the ones to be envied. They are the ruling class.

And yet every single one of the people I’ve named, and all of the similarly situated people I didn’t think of but that you did, share something in common with my down-trodden, refugee father — they’re really, really angry. So I have to think that this overarching, paranoid anger does not arise because of someone’s economic situation or their vertical position in the social hierarchy. Instead, my Mom was right all along: Communism, or whatever form of Leftism is currently in vogue, is attractive to those who are angry, and it breeds anger in those who otherwise might avoid that emotion.

And while anger is a universal trait, and clearly operates to help us survive in dangerous situations, those of us who have lived with chronic anger know that its long-term effects can only be harmful. For the angry individual, the results are ill-health, as the heart and guts rebel against the streams of bile flowing through the system. For the person living with someone angry, the downsides run the gamut from stress, anxiety and depression, to actual physical danger (a situation that my father, bless him, never created). And for those who live in a country powered by the angry, one sees political self-loathing, which leads suicidal behavior when it comes to both the economy and national security.

One of the things I’ve come to like about John McCain is that, while he definitely has a temper, that seems to be a generic trait. That is, he suffers from situational anger. He has what, in the old days, used to be called a quick temper. He is, in other respects, a sunny optimistic soul, and that despite his years as a POW. What McCain clearly lacks is the brooding, paranoid anger that characterizes the Left, and for that reason I believe that, his temper notwithstanding, he’d definitely be a sunnier presence in the White House than his embittered opponents.

I also think that Americans share McCain’s more sunny optimism. I can’t imagine that, over the long run, they’re going to be attracted to professional paranoids who live in the mansions on the hill, sucking every bit of wealth they can from the system, all the while castigating ordinary Americans for being greedy, embittered fools.

UPDATEHere’s something to chew on regarding the basic decency and optimism that characterizes John McCain.

Reports of economy’s death were greatly exaggerated

I recall hearing a guest on talk radio (I forget which show) saying that a recession is defined by very specific economic indicators — and that, despite the loose use of the word “recession” by uninformed media types, those economic indicators were not present. Perhaps that’s not surprising, given that the economy is growing, something even the AP has to concede, although it paints that fact in the grimmest of terms:

The bruised economy limped through the first quarter, growing at just a 0.6 percent pace as housing and credit problems forced people and businesses alike to hunker down.

The country’s economic growth during January through March was the same as in the final three months of last year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The statistic did not meet what economists consider the definition of a recession, which is a contraction of the economy. This means that although the economy is stuck in a rut, it is still managing to grow, even if slightly.

Given that the economy is still moving forward, those $600 checks the President is sending home may indeed be the difference between stalling and sliding backwards, on the one hand, and continuing that forward growth, on the other hand — just as was the case in 2001.

California gun owners: Beware

Here is a message from the NRA:

Anti-gun hysteria has reached a fever pitch in the Golden State. The California Assembly is considering a bill (Assembly Bill 2062) this session that, if passed, will have dire consequences for California’s law-abiding gun owners.

AB2062 is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, May 7 in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.Sponsored by State Assembly Member Kevin De Leon (D-45), AB2062 would require that law-abiding gun owners obtain a permit to buy handgun ammunition and would impose severe restrictions on the private transfers of handgun ammunition. Applicants for a “permit-to-purchase” would be required to submit to a background check, pay a $35 fee, and wait as long as 30 days to receive the permit.

Under AB2062, it would be unlawful to privately transfer more than 50 rounds of ammunition per month, even between family and friends, unless you are registered as a “handgun ammunition vendor” in the Department of Justice’s database. Ammunition retailers would have to be licensed and store ammunition in such a manner that it would be inaccessible to purchasers. The bill would also require vendors to keep a record of the transaction including the ammunition buyer’s name, driver’s license, the quantity, caliber, type of ammunition purchased, and right thumbprint, which would be submitted to the Department of Justice. Vendors would be required to contact the purchase permit database to verify the validity of a permit before completing a sale. All ammunition sales in the State of California would be subject to a $3 per transaction tax. Lastly, mail order ammunition sales would be prohibited. Any violator of AB2062 would be subject to civil fines.

Here’s what you can do to help protect our Second Amendment freedoms:

  • Participate in NRA’s Virtual “Lobby-Day” on Tuesday, May 6 and tell the Assembly to stop supporting ill-conceived anti-gun proposals like AB2062.
  • On Tuesday, May 6, call, fax, and email the Assembly between 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM and voice your opposition to more gun control proposals. Respectfully, tell your Assembly Member to oppose any assault on our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. To identify your Assembly Member and to get contact information, please click here. A roster of the entire Assembly can be found here.
  • Firearms owners able to travel to the State Capitol will be visiting the legislative offices at the same time your calls, faxes, and emails will be arriving. Please be polite while you address your concerns! The combination of your calls, faxes, and emails, together with those personal visits, will show legislators that California’s firearms owners strongly oppose AB2062 and similar anti-freedom proposals.
  • Forward this message to every gun owner you know and include all gun clubs, stores, ranges and Second Amendment groups. Please cross-post this on the internet on websites and firearm-related forums.

I have to admit that I never would have dreamed, a decade ago, that I would be serving as a conduit for the NRA. I’ve never handled a gun myself, and find them somewhat frightening. I know that guns in criminals’ hands are a huge problem. I also know that good people die in gun accidents all the time.

What I also know, though, is that the Constitution is not ambiguous about guns: The Founders saw government as the greatest threat to people and they wrote the Second Amendment with the idea that armed citizens could come together to protect themselves against a dangerous government — something I bet German Jews, Chinese intellectuals and Sudanese villagers all wish they could have done.

I know too that the NRA’s slogan — “if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” — something that I always thought was superficial and glib, is absolutely true, as experiments in London and Washington, D.C. have both shown. Lastly, I know that, just as good people die in gun accidents, they also die in car accidents, yet no one would think to outlaw cars.

But to get back to the NRA’s action message. We know that, if the Legislature passes that law, it will instantly be challenged in Court. It will probably fail, although there is a possibility that it won’t. It will certainly cost the California taxpayers a great deal of money as California defends the indefensible. Isn’t it easier just to protest the proposed law now, before we go down that risky and expensive path?

Deconstructing liberal think

At Paragraph Farmer, Patrick has taken apart a liberal newspaper’s endorsement for Barack Obama, exposing just a few of the logical fallacies and factual errors it contains.  Patrick’s post actually makes for very scary reading, because this is not just one little editorial board but is, instead, thinking representative of a large part of the lefter side of the political world.  Just to tweak your interest, here’s just one of Patrick’s points:

Another reason to vote for Obama, according to the Independent, is that “his plan for criminal justice reform includes expanding hate crime statutes.” This is a plus? The candidate’s own web site plays possum on exactly how federal hate crimes statutes will be strengthened, but the only people who could reasonably applaud a goal like that are people who have never read George Orwell’s 1984. When a candidate for president seeks to criminalize an even higher percentage of thought, which is what expansion or strenthening of hate crimes statutes inevitably entails, then the electorate should take a very hard look at that candidate indeed. Astonishingly, Independent editors see no potential downsides to expanded hate crimes legislation. Hey, I’d like to see Rev. Jeremiah Wright do prison time, too, but I don’t think that’s what the Obama camp has in mind.

Jeremiah Wright at the National Press Club

The most un-rev Jeremiah Wright elaborated today on his various statements during an appearance at the National Press Club. What he had to say was most enlightening since, when he wasn’t prevaricating or deflecting a point with self-deprecating humor, he sounded pretty ugly. Here are a few things that caught my attention:

MODERATOR: What is your relationship with Louis Farrakhan? Do you agree with and respect his views, including his most racially divisive views?

WRIGHT: As I said on the Bill Moyers’ show, one of our news channels keeps playing a news clip from 20 years ago when Louis said 20 years ago that Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion. [I don't really know if the Right Rev. is capable of understanding this, but Zionism is not a religion, it's a political movement. If Farrakhan referred to something as a "gutter religion" he was making an antisemitic statement about Jews. And since I doubt that Wright is enough of a fool to be this confused, Wright is too, and he's hoping that in this bizarre cascade of words, no one will notice.]

And he was talking about the same thing United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter is being vilified for, and Bishop Tutu is being vilified for. [Poor Wright. He just doesn't understand why people should be vilified if they keep standing up and saying that Persians, Arabs and Muslims (separate but overlapping groups) are within their rights to (a) state their intention to destroy Israel entirely and (b) take whatever steps they can, from killing one child at a time to building nuclear weapons, to bring that goal to fruition. Whether those sentiments come from Carter, the rabidly anti-Israeli UN, Farrakhan or Wright, they're utterly reprehensible and completely antisemitic.] And everybody wants to paint me as if I’m anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago.

I believe that people of all faiths have to work together in this country if we’re going to build a future for our children, whether those people are — just as Michelle and Barack don’t agree on everything, Raymond (ph) and I don’t agree on everything, Louis and I don’t agree on everything, most of you all don’t agree — you get two people in the same room, you’ve got three opinions.

So what I think about him, as I’ve said on Bill Moyers and it got edited out, how many other African-Americans or European-Americans do you know that can get one million people together on the mall? [So could Hitler, Mao, and Stalin. It doesn't make them admirable. I'm not actually saying Farrakhan is as bad as those guys, although he definitely espouses their beliefs. I'm just saying that the mere fact that someone can be a demagogue doesn't make him virtuous.] He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century. That’s what I think about him.

I’ve said, as I said on Bill Moyers, when Louis Farrakhan speaks, it’s like E.F. Hutton speaks, all black America listens. Whether they agree with him or not, they listen. [Same demagoguery point I made above.]

Now, I am not going to put down Louis Farrakhan anymore than Mandela would put down Fidel Castro. Do you remember that Ted Koppel show, where Ted wanted Mandela to put down Castro because Castro was our enemy? And he said, “You don’t tell me who my enemies are. You don’t tell me who my friends are.” [In other words, Castro is another one whom Wright admires. He has no moral center. Whoops. Strike that. He does have a moral center: The enemy of my enemy is my friend seems to be his view. Since he hates America, despite his six years of military service, anyone who hates America too is a good guy.]

Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains. He did not put me in slavery. And he didn’t make me this color. [This whole string is peculiar. Last I looked, since the Civil War, no one in America, regardless of color, has been putting blacks in the chains of slavery. Even more interestingly, is Wright actually saying here that being black is a bad thing, akin with slavery? Certainly the parallel structure he employs indicates that he believes being black is bad, and that ones enemies visit that curse upon one.]

Also fascinating was Wright’s explanation of what he meant about the difference between him — as Pastor — and Obama — a politician. Considering how well Obama professes to know Wright, given their 20 year long pastoral association, Wright’s allusions to Obama’s honest (or lack thereof) are worth noting:

MODERATOR: What is your motivation for characterizing Senator Obama’s response to you as, quote, “what a politician had to say”? What do you mean by that?

WRIGHT: What I mean is what several of my white friends and several of my white, Jewish friends have written me and said to me. They’ve said, “You’re a Christian. You understand forgiveness. We both know that, if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected.” [In other words, says Wright, on the Left we all understand that you have to lie to the American people and hide your real viewpoints in other to get elected.]

Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever’s doing the polls. [Again, he's saying that Obama is lying because that's the only way he'll get elected.] Preachers say what they say because they’re pastors. They have a different person to whom they’re accountable.

As I said, whether he gets elected or not, I’m still going to have to be answerable to God November 5th and January 21st. That’s what I mean. I do what pastors do. He does what politicians do. [Obama lies.]

I am not running for office. I am hoping to be vice president. [If you listen to the live broadcast, the very receptive audience screams with laughter at this point.]

I’m not going to dissect any more. It was rather sickening to listen to him. The bile, illogic and dishonesty that flows from him made me feel really bad.

Apropos the fact that Wright’s mental perambulations are really horrible for Obama, some are wondering whether Wright, either out of spite because Obama shunned him or out of avarice because there’s money somewhere, is trying to line himself up with the Clinton faction. If that’s the case, Shakespeare couldn’t have done any better with a plot of ego, avarice, and treachery.

The wildly funny thing about all this is that, because the “non-racial” Obama has managed to back himself into a corner where he is clearly the black candidate, the Democratic party pooh-bahs are supporting him in trickles and floods, despite his falling numbers, because they can’t afford to alienate their single most reliable voting block: African-Americans.

Your nanny state at work

The sign at the baseball game said “Mike’s Lemonade $7.00.” So, when Christopher Ratt asked his 7 year old son what drink he’d like, and the boy said Lemonade, Ratt ponied up the money. It was only later in the game that a security guard noticed the bottle in the boy’s hand and asked the father if he knew that it was an alcoholic beverage. The father did not (as I would not, although I would have probably already have checked the ingredients for artificial sugars, which I hate). From there, things got really, really ugly:

The 47-year-old academic says he wasn’t even aware alcoholic lemonade existed when he and Leo stopped at a concession stand on the way to their seats in Section 114.

“I’d never drunk it, never purchased it, never heard of it,” Ratte of Ann Arbor told me sheepishly last week. “And it’s certainly not what I expected when I ordered a lemonade for my 7-year-old.”

But it wasn’t until the top of the ninth inning that a Comerica Park security guard noticed the bottle in young Leo’s hand.

“You know this is an alcoholic beverage?” the guard asked the professor.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Ratte replied. He asked for the bottle, but the security guard snatched it before Ratte could examine the label.

An hour later, Ratte was being interviewed by a Detroit police officer at Children’s Hospital, where a physician at the Comerica Park clinic had dispatched Leo — by ambulance! — after a cursory exam.

Leo betrayed no symptoms of inebriation. But the physician and a police officer from the Comerica substation suggested the ER visit after the boy admitted he was feeling a little nauseated.

The Comerica cop estimated that Leo had drunk about 12 ounces of the hard lemonade, which is 5% alcohol. But an ER resident who drew Leo’s blood less than 90 minutes after he and his father were escorted from their seats detected no trace of alcohol.

“Completely normal appearing,” the resident wrote in his report, “… he is cleared to go home.”

But it would be two days before the state of Michigan allowed Ratte’s wife, U-M architecture professor Claire Zimmerman, to take their son home, and nearly a week before Ratte was permitted to move back into his own house.

And if you think nothing so ludicrous could happen to your family, maybe you should pay a little less attention to who’s getting booted from “Dancing with the Stars” and a little more to how the state agency responsible for protecting Michigan’s children is going about its work.

You can read the rest here and I can guarantee you that, by the time you’ve finished the article, little Leo won’t be the only one nauseated.

Hat tip: Earl

Technical difficulties

Sorry for the silence. I get my internet through the same company that gives us our cable TV. Last week, Mr. Bookworm ordered High Definition service, which requires a new box. The box never came, but they disconnected us from Turner Classic Movies, which is really the only channel I ever really watch.

Yesterday I finally got around to calling the ISP, and the service department discovered that the box had gotten lost and that they’d shut down some of our premium service. I got a promise that the box would go in the mail and the assurance that my TCM would return — which it did.

Today, however, I had no internet connection. It turned out that, when the ISP re-sent the box order, it also reset my account, putting my internet into hibernation. I’ve got internet again, but now my router isn’t working — with a resuscitated internet, my router reset itself, and lost all its codes. I’ll save that problem for a little later in the day, since Mr. Bookworm is the wireless user and he won’t be home for hours.

Only 8:00 my time and I already feel wrung out!

Bringing a whole new meaning to shaken baby syndrome

I got pretty nauseous watching this one.  The villagers insist that no babies were harmed in the making of this bizarre religious ritual, but the mere fact that these villagers doing the throwing must themselves have been thrown as infants is itself a good indication that it causes brain damage.  Let me just say apropos multiculturalism that not all cultures are created equal and some are definitely more deranged than others.

From my brain to yours

I got this wonderful Mama Cass song stuck in my head after hearing it on the radio Saturday.  Perhaps if I pass it to your brain, it will leave mine.  It’s a great song, but there’s only so much musical perseveration one can take:

Jimmy Carter, loathsome old man

The New York Times again gave a forum to Jimmy Carter. This time Carter defends his immoral, illegal decision to consort with terrorists, something that would be objectionable if the ordinary private citizen were to do it, but that rises to outrageous levels of indecency when a former President does the same thing.

Carter’s most recent column is worth fisking because it either shows the thought process of a senile immoral old man or, more scarily, the thought processes of a liberal immoral old man:

A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE Washington policy in recent years has been to boycott and punish political factions or governments that refuse to accept United States mandates. [That's cute. Hamas, which (a) took over Gaza by war, (b) announced its intention to destroy Israel, (c) terrorizes its own citizens, and (d) routinely and purposely attacks civilian targets, especially children, is just a "political faction[] or government[] that refuse[s] to accept United States mandates.” This is truly an Orwellian perversion of language.] This policy makes difficult the possibility that such leaders might moderate their policies.

Two notable examples are in Nepal and the Middle East. About 12 years ago, Maoist guerrillas took up arms in an effort to overthrow the monarchy and change the nation’s political and social life. Although the United States declared the revolutionaries to be terrorists, the Carter Center agreed to help mediate among the three major factions: the royal family, the old-line political parties and the Maoists.

In 2006, six months after the oppressive monarch was stripped of his powers, a cease-fire was signed. Maoist combatants laid down their arms and Nepalese troops agreed to remain in their barracks. Our center continued its involvement and nations — though not the United States — and international organizations began working with all parties to reconcile the dispute and organize elections. [I can't comment about this, knowing nothing about it. Any information from others who do would be helpful.]

The Maoists are succeeding in achieving their major goals: abolishing the monarchy, establishing a democratic republic and ending discrimination against untouchables and others whose citizenship rights were historically abridged. After a surprising victory in the April 10 election, Maoists will play a major role in writing a constitution and governing for about two years. To the United States, they are still terrorists. [Considering that Maoists are arch communists, and considering that arch communists have invariably enacted arch repression, I rather wonder about Carter's sanguine view of these guys as just good old liberal style Democrats. After all, the original Maoist -- that would be Mao himself -- was a psychopath who oversaw the death of 70,000,000 of his people. Again, information on this subject would be appreciated.]

On the way home from monitoring the Nepalese election, I, my wife and my son went to Israel. My goal was to learn as much as possible to assist in the faltering peace initiative endorsed by President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Although I knew that official United States policy was to boycott the government of Syria and leaders of Hamas, I did not receive any negative or cautionary messages about the trip, except that it might be dangerous to visit Gaza. [Who are you going to believe -- Rice or Carter? Given that Carter has been caught in lie after lie over the years, while Rice has not been shown up as a liar even once (one may disagree with her, but she doesn't lie), I have absolutely no doubt but that this is a blatant lie.]

The Carter Center had monitored three Palestinian elections, including one for parliamentary seats in January 2006. Hamas had prevailed in several municipal contests, gained a reputation for effective and honest administration and did surprisingly well in the legislative race, displacing the ruling party, Fatah. [Except for that little fact that it eventually took over leadership from Fatah by a small civil war, complete with atrocities. Apparently things like that just don't bother Carter, the cheerleader for leftist oppressors. Bad as Fatah is, Hamas is worse.] As victors, Hamas proposed a unity government with Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah as president and offered to give key ministries to Fatah, including that of foreign affairs and finance.

Hamas had been declared a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, and the elected Palestinian government was forced to dissolve. [Aside from the fact that it took over and rules Gaza by terror, there is that little problem of Hamas' stated policy of destroying Israel, one dead child at a time. Frankly, if Carter doesn't consider that a terrorist, what is a terrorist? George Bush? Cheney? That lying skank Condi Rice (Carter's theory, not mine, of course)? I'd really like him to set down his definitions so we can get an insight into his Orwellian use of language.] Eventually, Hamas gained control of Gaza [care to explain how, Mr. Carter, or would that raise too many twisted linguistic difficulties?], and Fatah is “governing” the Israeli-dominated West Bank. [You ,appreciate, I'm sure, all the deep meaning behind those quotation marks. Gaza is "real" government, Fatah is a puppet government. We know which Carter prefers.] Opinion polls show Hamas steadily gaining popularity. [Because a terrorist organization is liked by a population raised to hate and kill, does that mean it's no longer a terrorist organization? Apparently in Carter-world it does.] Since there can be no peace with Palestinians divided, we at the Carter Center believed it important to explore conditions allowing Hamas to be brought peacefully back into the discussions. (A recent poll of Israelis, who are familiar with this history, showed 64 percent favored direct talks between Israel and Hamas.)

Similarly, Israel cannot gain peace with Syria unless the Golan Heights dispute is resolved. [There's not much of a dispute. When Syria held the Golan Heights, it used that advantage to kill Jews. It will do the same again. Of course, since Carter has no problem with the Jews -- he did want to "f**k them" in 1980, blaming them for his defeat -- I can see where he thinks there might be a dispute: dead Jews versus not dead Jews. Hmmm.] Here again, United States policy is to ostracize the Syrian government and prevent bilateral peace talks, contrary to the desire of high Israeli officials. [The US might be ostracizing the Syrian government for a few other little problems, such as the fact that it's a shill of Iran and Hezbollah, that it sponsors world-wide terrorism, and that it's planning to go nuclear. Silly stuff like that, you know. Even in Carter-land, is it really possible for everything to be caused only by Jewish conspiracies?]

We met with Hamas leaders from Gaza, the West Bank and Syria, and after two days of intense discussions with one another they gave these official responses to our suggestions, intended to enhance prospects for peace [Please keep in mind as you read this that Hamas had the last laugh by denying all the agreements Carter purported to make on its behalf]:

Hamas will accept any agreement negotiated by Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel provided it is approved either in a Palestinian referendum or by an elected government. Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshal, has reconfirmed this, although some subordinates have denied it to the press. [I notice that Meshal hasn't gone out of his way to repudiate those denials. In any event, given that Palestinians by a vast majority have announced their intense desire to murder all Israelis, I don't see many of them passing this referendum. Same for the "elected" Hamas government.]

When the time comes, Hamas will accept the possibility of forming a nonpartisan professional government of technocrats to govern until the next elections can be held. [Pardon me while I laugh myself sick. These are the people whose only skill is sucking up world dollars and turning them into bombs.]

Hamas will also disband its militia in Gaza if a nonpartisan professional security force can be formed. [Only someone truly naive or deeply evil would believe this given Hamas' history. It's like speaking with Hitler in 1942, and then writing an op-ed saying he'll be pleased to disband the Gestapo, or at least to rename it to something with fewer negative connotations, such as the "Friends of the Jews" organization.]

Hamas will permit an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants in 2006, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, to send a letter to his parents. If Israel agrees to a list of prisoners to be exchanged, and the first group is released, Corporal Shalit will be sent to Egypt, pending the final releases. [This is truly obscene. Hamas has held in captivity for two years a young man who was merely standing guard duty. In exchange for his freedom, they except the release of hundreds of convicted killers. Not guards, killers. Aside from how disgusting this is, I'd like to remind all of you that Israel has frequently released killers in return for promises from the Palestinians. None of the promises have been kept, but the killers have done what killers will do: killed again.]

Hamas will accept a mutual cease-fire in Gaza, with the expectation (not requirement) that this would later include the West Bank. [I believe this promise. The cease fires usually last one or two days while Hamas/the Palestinians regroup, and then, having enjoyed a breather, the cease fire magically terminates. I believe the technical term for this strategic little breather is hudna.]

Hamas will accept international control of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, provided the Egyptians and not the Israelis control closing the gates. [Hamas apparently hopes that it will have the fox guarding the hen house. Or at least Carter hopes that's the case. More cynically than the American fool, Hamas probably hopes that Egypt, which is less then thrilled by having radical Islamic guerrillas stream into the country, will be less adept than Israel at preventing incursions.]

In addition, Syria’s president, Bashir al-Assad, has expressed eagerness to begin negotiations with Israel to end the impasse on the Golan Heights. He asks only that the United States be involved and that the peace talks be made public. [1938, 1938, 1938, 1938, 1938, 1938....]

Through more official consultations with these outlawed leaders, it may yet be possible to revive and expedite the stalemated peace talks between Israel and its neighbors. In the Middle East, as in Nepal, the path to peace lies in negotiation, not in isolation.

Now that I’ve fisked what Carter has to say, I feel confident concluding that he manages to be both a fool and entirely evil. This is a very, very bad man, and the US should muzzle him with every weapon in its arsenal of laws against treason and consorting with enemies.

Rock, meet Hard Place

San Francisco is a very crowded little city. Although it covers only about seven 49 square miles (it’s a little square about 7 miles on each side), it’s the fourth most populous City in California, with almost 800,000 people crammed into that little space. Interestingly, though, San Francisco did not end up going the tenement/apartment route of other old big cities such as New York. Instead, San Francisco opted for itty-bitty houses — or, at least, itty-bitty by American standards. I grew up in a 1400 square foot house, with a hefty 3 feet on each side to separate us from the neighbors. While that’s big for Calcutta or even Sorrento, it’s a small house by American standards. Many houses don’t even have that gap between neighbors, instead sharing both side walls with their neighbors. Here, this will give you an idea of these houses (many of which are now two resident flats):

San Francisco is also a very green thinking city (although you wouldn’t be able to tell that from how dirty and traffic-jammy it is). It probably had one of the earliest recycling programs in the Country, going back to the late 1970s or early 1980s. San Franciscans take their recycling very seriously.

Given the City’s architectural peculiarities, and its fanatic commitment to all things green, I found surprising the fact that it’s now penalizing those of its citizens who live in impossible housing but are still trying to save the planet, one plastic bottle at a time:

San Francisco residents, already facing some of the highest housing prices and parking fines in the nation, now have a new nightmare to watch out for – $100 tickets if their garbage or recycling cans can be seen from the street.

“It just blew me away,” said Richmond District resident Catherine Fox, one of 189 people who have been dinged since the city started handing out the tickets last month.

Diana Tsoi lives on the same street as Fox and got hit with a $100 fine around the same time as her neighbor.

“It’s just ridiculous,” Tsoi said. “Some people don’t have anywhere else to put these big cans but along the side of their house.”

Too bad, because under a law passed two years ago by the Board of Supervisors, it’s no longer good enough just to get your cans off the sidewalk once they’ve been emptied – you have to get them out of sight as well.

Completely out of sight.

Not an easy task, considering every home now gets three 32-gallon cans, each of which measures about 19 by 24 by 38 inches.

“I had mine tucked into the side of the house 20 feet back from the curb,” Fox said.

Not good enough.

If someone complains, the city sends out the garbage cops, and if the bins are in sight, you’re cited. The ticket shows up in the mail.

The supes passed the out-of-sight-or-else ordinance as an add-on to the existing law that requires cans to be off the sidewalk by 6 p.m. on pickup days.

Things were quiet for the first year, with the Department of Public Works sending out “educational” warnings instead of tickets.

At one point, believe it or not, there was a self-appointed can cop driving around neighborhoods on a motorcycle, snapping pictures of offending bins and turning in people.

Starting in March, the real tickets started going out.

“I don’t remember any warning, and I’m pretty alert,” Fox said.

Both she and her neighbor Tsoi said they plan to fight the citations.

“I have a hearing date for later this month,” Fox said. “It’s the same day as my son’s 14th birthday.

“I thought I’d take him along as a civics lesson.” (Emphasis mine.)

Welcome, oh San Franciscans, to the green nanny state.

A depressed Democrat

Marin is about as liberal a community as one can possibly find.  That means that the analyst for the local political newspaper is a liberal too.  Right now, he’s a very depressed liberal, since he’s absolutely certain that the Democrats are imploding, leading to the inevitability of a McCain victory:

Arizona Sen. McCain will be victorious on Nov. 4. The heroic McCain is the only Republican with any hope of attracting independents and moderate Democrats. That’s something that Republicans, facing annihilation after the unpopular Bush-Cheney era, desperately need. While I acknowledge questioning my sagacity in late 2007 during McCain’s dark days, he ultimately vindicated my hunch.

McCain now faces a Democratic Party tearing itself apart. If the 1980 Jimmy Carter-Ted Kennedy primary contest taught us anything, it’s that a party divided upon entering a national convention will lose. I acknowledge the economy has tanked, there’s no way out of the Iraq fiasco and that public confidence is as low as the price of gas is high. Yet when it comes to losing presidential elections, the Democratic mantra is “Yes, I can.”

In fighting for the top spot, Clinton not only has taken the luster out of the once-sparkling Obama, she has managed to amplify her already negative image. That will be fatal in the fall election.

McCain will win IF he gets back on his Straight Talk Express and distances himself from the befuddled Bush. While this will displease the political right, hatred of all things Clinton will keep them in the Arizonan’s camp. McCain’s problem is that he’s off to a slow start by pandering to the shrinking GOP base. Perhaps wiser hands will steer him back to the middle after the Minneapolis convention.

As for me, I hope he’s right.  McCain, despite his myriad flaws, is infinitely preferable to either Hillary or Obama.

By the way, I can think of one other reason Hillary might not win, although it’s a silly one.  I just realized as I wrote this post that I always refer to McCain and Obama by their last names, because those names are unique in the political race.  I refer to Hillary, however, by her first name, not as a sign of disrespect, but to distinguish her from her husband.  The fact that a woman ends up with this casual appellation does not bode well for subliminal signals about her stature.  Others are probably going to pick up on this same subliminal “girl” quality, and are not going to give her quite the deference given the “men.”  She’ll lose for that reason too, I think.

Can this culture be saved?

Honest to God, I really do wonder sometimes if the garden-variety fusion betwen Islamic and Arabic culture is salvageable:

A teenage Iraqi girl who fell in love with a British soldier when he was in Basra was murdered by her father in an “honour killing”, it was revealed today.

Rand Abdel-Qader, 17, was suffocated and then hacked at with a knife after her family discovered she was friends with the 22-year-old soldier who she knew only as Paul.

The pair first met when Rand was working on an aid project for displaced families but it is thought the soldier is unaware of the girl’s fate.

She was stamped on, suffocated and stabbed – leaving her with puncture wounds all over her body, including her face.

Her own mother, Leila Hussein, has spoken out about the crime, revealing how her husband called out that he was cleansing “his honour” as he carried out the murder.

She told the Observer he was arrested after the brutal murder but was released without charge two hours later because it was an “honour killing”.

“He was released two hours later because it was an ‘honour killing’. And unfortunately that is something to be proud of for any Iraqi man,” she told the paper.


Five months on, she was brutally killed and buried without the traditional mourning ceremony in a mark of her “impurity”.

Her uncles are also said to have spat on her body because of the shame they felt she had brought on the family.

These people were not “radical Islamists,” they were not bomb throwers, they were just an every day family of Arab Muslims whose men mutilated a 17 year old girl to death and spat on her body because she had the temerity to like a man. This ferocious level of misogyny and self-loathing (because only people who really hate themselves can be so insecure about the face they present to the world) may be beyond any remediation.

We told you so….

….but you wouldn’t listen.  You had to go ahead and do it anyway, and only now, when things are getting serious, are you figuring it out yourself.  These are words parents say to teenagers, and conservatives say to liberals.  In teenage land, you end up with pregnancies, STDs, and substance abuse.  In liberal land, you end up with increased greenhouse gases and world starvation:

The worldwide effort by supermarkets and industry to replace conventional oil-based plastic with eco-friendly “bioplastics” made from plants is causing environmental problems and consumer confusion, according to a Guardian study.

The substitutes can increase emissions of greenhouse gases on landfill sites, some need high temperatures to decompose and others cannot be recycled in Britain.

Many of the bioplastics are also contributing to the global food crisis by taking over large areas of land previously used to grow crops for human consumption.

The market for bioplastics, which are made from maize, sugarcane, wheat and other crops, is growing by 20-30% a year.


Concern is mounting because the new generation of biodegradable plastics ends up on landfill sites, where they degrade without oxygen, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This week the US national oceanic and atmospheric administration reported a sharp increase in global methane emissions last year.

“It is just not possible to capture all the methane from landfill sites,” said Michael Warhurt, resources campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “A significant percentage leaks to the atmosphere.”

“Just because it’s biodegradable does not mean it’s good. If it goes to landfill it breaks down to methane. Only a percentage is captured,” said Peter Skelton of Wrap, the UK government-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme. “In theory bioplastics are good. But in practice there are lots of barriers.”


Bioplastics compete for land with biofuels and food crops. About 200,000 tonnes of bioplastics were produced last year, requiring 250,000-350,000 tonnes of crops. The industry is forecast to need several million acres of farmland within four years.

I like to say “I told you so” when I forecast something good, viz, “I told you you’d get the promotion.”  It depresses me when I forecast something bad.

An article about Islam most amazing for what it doesn’t say

I already knew that UC Berkeley was going to host a “scholarly” conference aimed at reconstructing Islamophobia. The promotional material, complete with the names of radical Islamist speakers, made it pretty clear that the conference’s focus would be on whitewashing Islam, as opposed to addressing a canker in one of the world’s major religions. Well, what can one expect of UC Bezerkeley, a school that used to be described as Kremlin West?

However, I did expect a little more of the San Francisco Chronicle, not because it’s anything but a liberal newspaper, but because I thought its own journalistic pride would demand at least a bow to the realities of terrorism in today’s world. How silly of me. The paper manages to report on the conference with one inverted allusion to 9/11 (you’ll see what I mean below) but otherwise without mentioning anything about the world-wide acts of terror perpetrated daily in Islam’s name.

I’m not going to fisk the whole piece, but let me give you a preview into what the article contains. It opens with some eye-catching puffery about Obama’s middle name and whether women with headscarfs should be searched at airports. From there, it explains that these questions and others are being addressed by world renowned scholars at a Berkeley conference, at which

the professors aim to study and understand how a religious identity of 1.2 billion people around the world has become fused with a monolithic set of beliefs and racial category. Under this dynamic, the beliefs of a Muslim engineer in Silicon Valley are rendered the same as those of a shopkeeper in Baghdad or a Hamas politician.

Perhaps the public is justifiably confused because, too often, the engineer in Silicon valley keeps his mouth shut about the distasteful beliefs of that Hamas “politician” — don’t they mean terrorist? — or because “man in the street” polls of Muslims show that their views are in remarkable harmony with their more activist brethren.

The article does the obligatory comparison to other groups that have been considered dangerous, including Jews. It makes no reference to the fact that Jews, for example, were considered dangerous only by taking the absence of evidence as proof positive that they were weaving dangerous behind the scenes conspiracies. Antisemities were wedded to the notion that, when it came to the horrors that Jews were planning on visiting on the world, the absence of evidence definitely wasn’t evidence of absence.

In that same vein, neither the conference nor the article give any consideration to the difference between an amorphous conspiracy theory unsupported by any concrete evidence whatsoever and this:

I guess that kind of more subtle analysis was a bit beyond the academics gathered in Berkeley.

The panelists spent a lot of time focusing on how unfair it is for people to attack Obama’s middle name and Muslim past. I actually think it’s stupid, too, but that’s because I don’t believe Obama has any religious affinity for Islam. I think that, more significantly, he has a Leftist affinity for those who champion radical Islam, and that this attitude is much more dangerous than any lingering longing he might have for a prayer session in the mosque.

The panelists apparently did mention 9/11, but only to put it in context: It started up attacks on Muslims that were comparable to the Spanish Inquisition:

Panelists at the conference traced the roots of Islamophobia well before Sept. 11, 2001: They include slavery, colonialism and the Spanish Inquisition against Jews and Muslims beginning in 1492.
Cultural phenomenon

Marquette University Professor Louise Cainkar presented a paper about hate crimes against those of Arab origin, a category that includes Christians but is often conflated with Muslims in post-Sept. 11 pop culture. In analyzing patterns in the Chicago area, she found that hate crimes were fewest in African American neighborhoods in the South Side, despite the high prevalence of Arab shopkeepers. But anti-Arab hate crimes were highest in “white flight” suburbs. A mosque in a southwestern suburb of Chicago came under a “three-day siege” by neighbors after the Sept. 11 attacks and had to be protected by more than 100 police officers in riot gear, Cainkar said.

As for me, I hold no truck with the Spanish Inquisition, since my ancestors too suffered from its effects, which is how they ended up in Hungary, rather than staying in Spain all those hundreds of years ago. Be that as it may, a little historical context is useful. The Spanish Inquisition’s primary focus was heretical Christians, not Muslims or Jews. Those who raise the Spanish Inquisition as an indictment against the West for its treatment of Muslims are confusing it with the fact that, at about the same time, in the 15th Century, Spanish Nationalism developed and took shape in the persons of Ferdinand and Isabella. They spearheaded the movement to drive out of Southern Spain the Muslim conquerers who had installed themselves there centuries before. In other words, the Muslims were kicked out because the indigenous people rose up against their Imperialist oppressors, something that should leave Leftists rejoicing. And as always when there was upheaval, everyone went after the Jews.

What’s very clear from the news report is that neither the conference participants, nor the reporter, have any interest in the much more compelling question of radical versus non-radical Islam, and whether anything can be done to make the latter less passive and more vocal. The obvious purpose of the conference is to whitewash Islam, and the Chron happily, and without any shame, went along with that approach. As I said at the start, the Berkeley would host this academic travesty is unsurprising, but I naively expected that the Chron would at least pay lip service to the facts on the ground (almost 11,000 acts of terrorist since 9/11 in the name of Islam), without joining in the Berkeley whitewash.

UPDATE:  Welcome LGF readers!

Another door to the past closes

I didn’t know about it, but in 1945, a celebrated dogfight occurred over Germany, with an American pilot, James Finnegan, shooting down Germany’s top ace, Gen. Adolf Galland.  Here’s what happened in the air 63 years ago:

In an interview Mr. Finnegan gave 12 years ago for a Web site devoted to Galland’s career (, Mr. Finnegan said that on the day he shot down Galland, he was escorting some Allied bombers when he “saw two objects come zipping through the formation, and two bombers blew up immediately. I watched the two objects go through the bomber formation, and thought, ‘That can’t be a prop job … it’s got to be one of the (new Messerschmitt Me) 262 jets.”

He fired off a 3-second burst, then hit the throttle on his P-47 and found “I was going so fast, I went right through everything, and guessed my speed at about 450+ mph.” Mr. Finnegan figured he had hit one of the German jets, but wasn’t sure, so he “recorded it as a probable.” The “probable” turned out to be Galland and he was indeed shot down.

It was only much later that Finnegan learned that he had shot down Germany’s top flyer.  And it was even later, in the 1970s, that the two met and became friends, reminiscing about their war time experiences.

This is news today because Mr. Finnegan died on Tuesday, aged 85.  The war may have been the reason he made the newspaper upon his death, but I find equally newsworthy the fact that he went on after the war to live a good life and raise a family that extends far into the next generation:

During the war, Mr. Finnegan met an Army nurse named Frances in France. They married after the war and began a family.

He worked as an engineer for Pacific Telephone & Telegraph and during his off-hours he kept flying planes until, at his wife’s urging, he grounded himself until the 1970s, when their children were all grown and he could take to the skies again.

“She was fine with it,” Dennis Finnegan said. “She used to fly with him all the time.” Frances Finnegan died three years ago.

By 1977, Mr. Finnegan was working as the San Francisco liaison between Pacific Telephone & Telegraph and law enforcement agencies. When he retired from that position, he got a job as an investigator for the Marin County district attorney and later became chief investigator. He retired from that job in 1987 and opened up a private investigator business, which lasted until he had a debilitating stroke in early 1998.

Mr. Finnegan is survived by two daughters, Michelle Sabourin of Santa Rosa and Kathleen Willmers of Kenwood; three sons, James Finnegan of Fresno, Dennis Finnegan of Novato and John Finnegan of Long Beach; 12 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

R.I.P., Mr. Finnegan.

Show me the money(man)

WARNING: British bloggers — do not write about this story.

In England, a convoluted case played out in which the government froze funds in British banks that were to be sent to Al Qaeda, the funds’ owners challenged that action, and the court held against the government. As a result of this successful court action, the court further ordered that the individuals who brought suit couldn’t be named, because they’d be “smeared” with the Al Qaeda brush (never mind that they were voluntarily financing Al Qaeda and using British funds to do so).

As Dr. Rusty Shackleford explains:

Under U.N. Resolution 1267 and its subsequent addendums, the Security Council:

obliged all States to freeze the assets, prevent the entry into or the transit through their territories, and prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer of arms and military equipment, technical advice, assistance or training related to military activities, with regard to the individuals and entities included on the Consolidated List.

The British papers have known who these individuals are but the gag order has meant they have to keep their mouths shut. All they can do is issue broad, broad hints, in the hopes that others will figure it out. As Shackleford again explains:

For instance, this Times piece:

The man, who can be identified only as G, is one of five people who challenged the Treasury’s powers to freeze terrorist suspects’ bank accounts in a successful High Court action…The judge banned publication of G’s name but The Times is aware of his identity, which is published on a United Nations Security Council list of terrorist suspects linked to al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

However, Americans are not bound by this Court order, and Shackleford now reveals who the mysterious “G” really is: MOHAMMED AL GHABRA.

You and I, of course, probably don’t know a whole lot about this man — or even anything at all. The Treasury Department, however, is pretty well-informed about Mr. Al Ghabra and, from the point of view of Western security, it’s not a pretty picture:

Al Ghabra has organized travel to Pakistan for individuals seeking to meet with senior al Qaida individuals and to undertake jihad training. Several of these individuals have returned to the UK to engage in covert activity on behalf of al Qaida. Additionally, Al Ghabra has provided material support and facilitated the travel of UK-based individuals to Iraq to support the insurgents fight against coalition forces….

Apart from the financial and logistical support activities that led to his designation, Al Ghabra maintains contact with a significant number of terrorists, including senior al Qaida officials in Pakistan…

Al Ghabra is also in regular contact with UK-based Islamist extremists and has been involved in the radicalizing of individuals in the UK through the distribution of extremist media.

You can read the rest here, at the Jawa Report.  I’ll just leave you with Shackleford’s last word on the subject, which is well worth thinking about:

The fact that I was able to identify G so easily makes one wonder if these kind of gag orders are effective? And, in fact, doesn’t the public have a right to know who the UN has designated a terrorist? Especially when that terrorist may be living next door or down the street?

Sun rises in east

It’s always disheartening when some liberal political body, long after conservative tocsins have been ringing a frantic warning, suddenly — and too late — realizes that the warning was in fact valid. For example, conservatives kept saying that biofuels would cause food shortages, a thought liberals pooh-poohed. Now that there are actual food shortages, liberals are announcing with shock that biofuels cause food shortages as if it’s a completely new idea, rather than something that should have been obvious. (That’s the point of my post title, by the way. Liberals are slow to grasp the obvious.)

Today’s edition of this “Oh, my God!  The sun actually rises in the east” syndrome, is the report (surprise!) that terrorist groups are using children, not just as targets, but as weapons:

Insurgent groups and militias in Iraq are recruiting children for attacks, according to a United Nations official.

The findings of the UN special representative for children and armed conflict echo concerns expressed by the US military about insurgent tactics.

In some cases children are paid to carry out attacks, the UN envoy, Radhika Coomaraswamy, told the BBC.

Last month, the US released footage of what it said was al-Qaeda propaganda showing children being trained.

The US says children are being taught how to use guns and carry out kidnappings in addition to other terrorist activities.

You can read the rest of the story here.

I guess I should be glad that the anti-American cadre has finally figured out yet another obvious thing, but frankly I just find the whole thing disheartening.  These people, people with a lot of real power and a lot of media power, always figure things out only after the narrative has already been pushed so far in one direction that America never recovers from the ugly propaganda aimed against it.  Likewise, these belated realizations of the obvious also spring up only when the facts on the ground have become so extreme that a situation that could easily have been resolved in the beginning is a logistical nightmare in the end.

The tortoise and the hare

You all know Aesop’s class tale of the race between the tortoise and the hare: At the starting gate, the hare picks up so much speed that it soon vanishes completely, while the tortoise plods on behind. Within sight of the finish line, however, when the hare looks backwards and realizes that the tortoise isn’t even in the same time zone, he decides to refresh himself with a little nap. As he sleeps, the tortoise, who has never slowed his steady pace, comes abreast of him, passes him and, before the hare has a chance to regroup, crosses the finish line, winning the race. Aesop’s moral: The race is not always to the swift.

Now tell me if that story doesn’t remind you of the current state of the Presidential race. Hillary and Obama, bickering all the way, were put on the fast track by the MSM. One after the other, each was anointed as the obvious successor to the disastrous George Bush. Neither could fail. Hillary had the unbeatable, overwhelming Clinton machine behind her; Obama had that indefinable charisma liberals lust after. McCain was shunted aside as an irrelevant old man.

Something interesting is happening, though. The bloom quickly faded from Hillary’s rose when the MSM fell in love with Obama. And while the MSM is still in love with Obama, Obama is struggling to deal with his own past. Absent any substantive political record, his associates and acolytes are coming under scrutiny, and it’s not a pretty picture. Whether he courted them or they courted him, they’re locked in an embrace on a pretty unappealing dance floor, and ordinary Americans are looking on Obama as an increasingly less attractive partner for a political romance.

Meanwhile, John McCain plods steadily on. He appears here, he appears there. He makes nice, quiet little speeches. He does what he has to do distance himself from George Bush, because he knows that, if he comes too close, he gets tarred with the BDS brush (or just with the “we’re sick of Bush in the White House after 8 painful years” brush.) As to this distancing, I’m betting that George Bush, being a gentleman, a pragmatist, and a politician, if he spoke with McCain, would say something along the lines of “Do what you have to do to win, Buddy-Boy. It won’t hurt my feelings.”

So, despite the fact that Hillary and Obama hurtled out of the starting gate, and have been helped with big, big pushes from their sycophants in the media, I’m wondering if they’re not going to be forced into something analogous to nap mode as they near the finish line. They’re being shackled by the garbage that’s being dug up about them, as well as by the fact that, under stress, his charm fails and her scolding increases. Meanwhile, McCain just keeps moving forward, slowly, steadily and, perhaps, inexorably.

Knee-jerk anti-growth attitude

Greenies are always encouraging people to abandon their cars and opt for alternative, group transportation, such as buses, trains, carpools, etc.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, one of those alternative forms of transportation is the ferry.

Up in Marin, if they use the ferry, drivers can avoid endless traffic jams over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco, not to mention the hellacious driving conditions in downtown San Francisco.  They’re also insulated from the problem of parking in San Francisco, where parking is is either prohibitively expensive or, if you’re not willing to bankrupt yourself, nonexistent.  So, as I said, the ferry is a wonderful and beautiful (really beautiful, as you traverse blue waters, watch seals playing, pass by Angel Island, travel between the two bridges, and watch the SF skyline emerge) way to keep your car off the road and, presumably, to limit its spillage of those nasty greenhouse gases.

Of course, the more people who get this message — driving bad, alternative transportation good — the more people who will line up to take that alternative transportation.  And, reality being what it is, the way to get to the alternative transportation source is to drive there.  That’s why the ferry plaza at Marin’s Larkspur Landing, which is the main stop for journeys in San Francisco, is having some problems:

The district is wrestling with how to accommodate a growing number of ferry patrons. Each weekday, the Larkspur terminal is packed with 2,000 cars parked in stalls, auxiliary lots and even on sidewalks and in bicycle lanes.

“We are bursting at the seams,” said district Engineer Denis Mulligan, who addressed the Building and Operating Committee on Thursday.

The obvious solution for this problem, one that will continue to encourage fewer drivers on Marin’s highways and San Francisco’s streets, is more parking, and that’s precisely what the district wants to create:

The district plans a two-phase parking plan to add more spaces.

With $12.8 million in federal funding in hand, the district will spend $1.4 million to create another 200 spaces by reconfiguring the lot. Bike lanes and disability access also will be improved. That work is slated to start in summer and be done by December.

The district also wants to build a parking garage at the terminal in the existing lot, a concept considered in 1999 but dropped when ridership softened.

But in recent years the trend has been strongly upward, with ridership growing 5 percent to 10 percent annually this decade. With more riders expected in coming years, officials say more parking is needed.

The system will see a new $12 million high-speed ferry, which will hold 499 passengers, plying the bay from Larkspur to San Francisco by early 2009. Additionally, the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit is looking to get commuter rail approved by voters in November, and a terminus is planned near the ferry terminal.

You’d think that the environmentalists would be delighted.  They have been demanding for years that the Bay Area infrastructure be rejiggered to accommodate alternative transportations and they’ve been haranguing drivers for years to drop off their solo cars and travel in packs.  But showing that there really is no way to make an environmentalist happy, short of reverting to a completely preindustrial era, the environmentalists are not happy at all:

But the Sierra Club letter to the district from chairman Doug Wilson of Mill Valley said more parking would be the wrong approach.

“We believe strongly that, in this era of AB 32 (addressing global warming) and major concern about climate change, we should not undertake projects that encourage auto use, thereby increasing greenhouse gas emissions,” he wrote.

Bridge officials counter that having a parking lot puts drivers on the ferry and takes them off the roads.

The Sierra Club suggested the federal funding, which will pay for more than half of the garage, should instead be used for shuttle service to the ferries. But bridge officials said the federal money can only be spent on parking.

“It is very heavily regulated money,” said Celia Kupersmith, district general manager. “It’s not available to be spent on anything but the parking garage.”

Shuttles to the terminal have been tried by the district in past years, but have failed to generate strong ridership. Marin transportation advocate David Shonbrunn said the shuttle system was doomed from the start.

“The shuttles failed because of the vicious competition the district itself provided by having free parking at the terminal,” said Shonbrunn, who is calling for paid parking at the lot.

I assume you caught, as I did, the fact that the Sierra Club’s demands actually depress, rather than increase ferry usage.  This leads one to conclude that the environmentalists don’t have that much of an interest in solutions that work.  They’ve get a template that they stick to — no new buildings, no cars, shuttles, etc. — and they’ll apply that template to any situation, no matter how counterproductive.

I am blessed to live in a very beautiful part of the world.  It’s a wealthy community and has been able to enjoy the luxury of open spaces (a luxury that drives up the price of homes).  In that past, Marin, and to its aesthetic benefit, Marin has indulged the Sierra Club.  However, when the Sierra Club starts doing things that not only inconvenience people who are trying to abide by Sierra Club principles, but also makes demands that run counter to the Club’s own goals, you have to wonder how long liberal Marin-ites are going to be forgiving of the Sierra Club’s ever more strident demands.

Effortless beauty

I have been an Ella Fitzgerald fan for decades. To my mind, there are few pleasures greater than hearing Ella sing one of the classics from the heyday of American popular music. I was therefore delighted to see the graceful homage the guys at Power Line paid to her today, the anniversary of her birth. One of the things the post tries to do is get to the essence of what made her special. They quote a reader who said of her singing:

She sings the song so beautifully we naturally recognize the beauty of the singer as well. She doesn’t have to work to be noticed; she gives no sign she cares about that. She glories in the music, and that becomes her glory.

That’s true, but a little too abstract for me. I can be very concrete about such things as her phrasing, diction, and spot-on-tunefulness, but those are a little too cold for me. When it comes right down to it, what I adore about Ella’s singing is how effortless it feels. You never hear the woman sweat a song. She just opens her mouth and this glorious sound flows out. No Mariah Carey ululating, no Kurt Cobain screeching, no Whitney Houston shrieking. There’s a complete absence of breathiness, squeaks or whining. It’s just this incredible flow of pure voice, whether she’s crooning a ballad or swinging some jazz. I know of only two other singers who have that relaxed virtuoso quality: Bing Crosby and Doris Day. Whether you like them or not, they too seemed like vessels through which the music flowed, rather than laboring engines forcing out sound.

Here’s a great recording of Ella, which displays every one of those vocal gifts.

Watcher’s Council

Sadly, the Watcher of Weasels suffered some sort of catastrophic technical failure and was unable to fulfill the ordinary Watcher functions this week. At Joshuapundit, however, Freedom Fighter has kindly taken the time to assemble links to the articles the Council Members would have voted on, had there been a vote, so you can see which posts the Council members selected from their own blogs for the week, as well as the posts and articles from other sites that piqued their interests.

In the meantime, we wish the Watcher well, and hope for a speedy computer recovery.

UPDATEWolf Howling and Soccer Dad have also been thoughtful enough to link to and review the submitted posts.  As always, whether or not there’s actually a vote, the reading is mighty fine when the Council members get together.

A reminder that European democracy is something of a myth

In America, we think of historical Europe as a place were voiceless mastered were ruled by high-handed aristocrats. We assume that those days are over, wiped away by war, revolution, and the simple passage of time. The European Union, however, periodically provides timely reminders that Europe is still ruled by high-handed authoritarian figures who ignore the masses, ostensibly for the latters’ “own good.” As it happens, this new aristocracy isn’t one of blood, though; it’s a political class made up of well-attired Leftists:

European Union countries agreed in Lisbon to approve the union’s new constitution Wednesday, and today Denmark’s parliament is expected to do the same, reports Politiken newspaper.

The news was released via the Liberal Party’s newsletter and indicated a majority of political parties are ready to ratify the treaty for Denmark. There was no press release or conference held for the move, which will effectively put an end to any possibility for a referendum.

Many experts had previously expressed their belief that a majority of Danes might vote against the treaty if a referendum were held. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a staunch supporter of the EU treaty, will now be spared any difficulties from such an occurrence.

The original treaty was recalled for revision three years ago, after referenda in the Netherlands and France voted against ratification. But experts also say that Denmark’s current move to ratify the treaty without a public vote goes against tradition and poses a democratic problem.

‘Politicians with the “yea” parties have an obligation to put the treaty debate up for discussion,’ said Marlene Wind, head of the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for European Politics. ‘They haven’t done that, and now their failure to get the EU issue on the agenda almost looks like a scandal.’

And if you wonder why I accuse these new tyrants of being Leftists, look at who is defending this move that will destroy individual freedoms around Europe:

Michael Aastrup Jensen, the Liberal Party’s EU spokesperson, denied that the treaty was slipped in behind the public’s back.

‘All of us in parliament agreed that this was the most talked about treaty ever,’ he said. ‘We’ve had hearings, written blogs and debated it on our homepages, and there’s been over 500 formal parliamentary questions put to the government about it. So I’m not buying the claim that this has been done in silence.’

Note how talking about it is, in Jensen’s mind, just as good as actually letting the little people vote on the damned thing.

If you’d like more information about the new European aristocracy, one as cavalier of the “little people’s” rights as the old one, and one that is every bit as damaging, you should read three books:

Mark Steyn’s America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It

Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within

Melanie Phillips’ Londonistan

And while I’m on the subject of Europe, a word about Poland, a country that continues to distinguish itself in the post-War era with a social conscience that other countries should envy and would do well to copy.  In today’s Warsaw Voice, there is a moving article about the April 15 ceremonies honoring the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, an act of staggering courage that the Polish President Lech Kaczyński beautifully describes:

“World War II witnessed a lot of heroic deeds,” Kaczyński said. “But the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising stands out even amongst heroic deeds. The ghetto insurgents weren’t fighting for victory but for honor. They resolved to fight in what was a hopeless situation. Living conditions in the ghetto are best summed up by the fact that 100,000 of the initial 450,000 people sent here died from hunger, disease and German oppression within a year,” the president said, referring to the Nazis cramming 450,000 people into an area of less than four square kilometers in the spring of 1941.  (Emphasis mine.)

A speech such as this one constantly reminds us that Europe, like all countries, manages to encompass the best of man and the worst of man.  I can only up that in the upcoming and inevitable culture war between Europe and the radical Islamists the European elitists have invited in, a humane, but strong, Europe emerges, one that is willing to fight honorably the the continuation of a civilized, pluralistic Western culture, rather than the dark side of Europe, one that gleefully slaughters those it classifies as lesser and different.

Mixed up priorities

Please study the above photo very carefully. Doesn’t that look like a nice room? You can see that it’s fairly spacious and well fitted out, with nice colors, lots of light, and pretty curtains? I bet a lot of dorm students are looking at it enviously, as are a lot of kids who are forced to share a room with siblings.

What makes this room different from the rooms I’ve described is that it’s a prison:

Inmates enjoy such comfort in jail that they are ignoring chances to escape, a prison officers’ leader has claimed.

In one example, a drug dealer regularly broke into a Yorkshire jail over a six-month period, using a ladder to climb the walls and supply inmates with drugs and mobile phones.

The intruder walked across the yard with the ladder and used it to climb up to a cell window, which had been pulled apart with a crowbar and covered by a dummy grille.

Glyn Travis, the assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: “It was an extraordinary case because none of the prisoners inside tried to escape when no doubt they had the opportunity.

“It tells me there’s something wrong in society when people are breaking into prisons to bring in drugs, but the prisoners are quite happy to stay inside.”

Inmates at a top security prison recently told Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, that conditions there were like a “holiday camp”.

They said they enjoyed the use of satellite television and video game consoles as well as their free bed and board.

Prisoners receive wages topped up by bonuses for good behaviour, while drugs are sometimes cheaper in jail than on the streets.

It is understood that there have also been examples of prostitutes being smuggled into HMP Sudbury, a Category D prison, in Derbyshire.

(Emphasis mine.)

I have no doubt that not all British prisons are so luxurious. There’s also a certain logic to making a prison pleasant. Marx might say that a pleasant prison is the opiate of the prisoners — they’re less likely to engage in violent activity or, as the above story demonstrates, to try and escape. They’ve been removed from circulation, so they’re not victimizing the population at large, and they’ve been pacified, so they’re not victimizing each other or the guards, either.

Still, one does feel that there should be a punitive element to imprisonment that goes above and beyond just the loss of freedom. And as experiences in American prisons have shown, there are ways other than creating a resort-like atmosphere to reduce prison violence. Therefore, while I hope that Western jails never become nightmarish places where prisoners are horribly abused by each other and by their guards, I do believe the threat of imprisonment would have more of a deterrent effect if the cell didn’t look nicer than ones room at home.