Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Guns for tickets

What the creaters of this program don't realize is that Philly fans are driven to carry guns by Philly teams:

The Philadelphia 76ers and police officials Tuesday announced a program aimed at curbing gun violence by exchanging tickets for guns.

The one-week program opens Wednesday. Anyone can bring a working gun into a city police station and exchange it for a voucher good for a pair of tickets to an upcoming 76ers game, no questions asked.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Bikinis over burkas

A very cool (and also hot) video by 28 year old Norwegian-born Brit Deeyah, the "Muslim Madonna" takes on Muslim subjugation of women (you can watch a Quicktime here). It's not just about shedding her burka in favor of a bikini, also showing a series of Muslim women's rights activists removing strips of tape from their mouths.

Sadly but predictably, she has been receiving death threats and has had to cancel some concerts and hire a team of bodyguards: "I can't walk around without bodyguards. I would be lying if I said abuse from religious fanatics did not upset or scare me."

The song pulls no punches; some lines:

"Does the truth only come from the top of a holy man's spire?"

"From three paces back, covered head to toe, like the rules that the man says and written just for show."

"You can stand up, lay down, or follow. What will it be? Will it all be the same tomorrow?"

"We don't take it lightly when you threatening women. How you have so much hate and you fake your religion?"

"If you're that religious and not for trendy clothes, then what you doing even watching videos?"

I fear for this girl's safety but applaud her courage (and love those abs!)

More on WMD

A followup on the last post, via Powerline:

[Georges Sada, second in command in Iraq's air force] has written a book, "Saddam's Secrets," that details how the Iraqi dictator used trucks, commercial jets and ships to remove his WMD from the country. At the time, the move went largely undetected, because Iraq pretended the massive movement of materiel was to help Syrian flood victims.

Nor is Sada alone. Ali Ibrahim, another of Saddam's former commanders, has largely corroborated Sada's story.

So how was Saddam able to use his "cheat and retreat" tactics without being found out? He had help, according to a former U.S. Defense Department official.

"The short answer to the question of where the WMD Saddam bought from the Russians went was that they went to Syria and Lebanon," said John Shaw, former deputy undersecretary of defense, in comments made at an intelligence summit Feb. 17-20 in Arlington, Va.

"They were moved by Russian Spetsnaz (special ops) units out of uniform that were specifically sent to Iraq to move the weaponry and eradicate any evidence of its existence," he said.

[The IBD article previously linked] could have added that we now know that Saddam trained thousands of terrorists at three or more training camps in Iraq, up to the beginning of the war in 2003. So the fear that Saddam might slip WMDs to terrorists for use in the U.S. was anything but far-fetched.

It is also important to note that only a tiny percentage of the documents left behind by Saddam's regime that potentially relate to WMD programs and support for terrorist groups, and only a tiny percentage of the audiotapes recorded in Saddam's office, have been translated. So far, we haven't even seen the tip of the iceberg; but even that has been enough to require the conventional wisdom to be re-evaluated. It seems virtually certain that there is much more to come on these subjects.

When the Iraq Survey Group reported that it was unable to find Saddam's WMDs, it was treated, understandably, as a huge news story. The news media interpreted the ISG's failure as undermining, to a great degree, the administration's case for the war. Fair enough. But now it appears that the administration, along with the CIA and the intelligence services of all other countries who assessed the issue, likely was right after all. Why isn't this equally big news?

News they'll attempt to bury

The main rallying cry of the antiwar crowd has long been "Bush lied." Of course, no serious person really thinks that relying on unanimous global intelligence that later turns out to be incorrect is "lying," since the key part of a lie is actually knowing you are wrong, so the "lied" thing has been pretty thoroughly debunked. It has still popularly assumed that the intelligence, and by extension the president, was wrong on this portion of the case for war.

But now the evidence is mounting that not only did Bush not lie, he wasn't even incorrect. As, I would add, most of us coming at this thing without some agenda have always expected, applying Occam's Razor.

It will be interesting, as the facts continue to come forward, what creative methods the mainstream media will find to ignore or downplay the evidence. Even with a campaign to ignore the obvious, I suspect that a year or two down the notion that Saddam had no active WMD program will look pretty silly in retrospect, at which point it's former proponents will just pretend it never existed or they knew right from the start. Recall how smoothly former Afghanistan theater protesters segued into shouting that Iraq was a distraction from the "real war" and chasing bin Laden there, as if they had ever supported such a thing to begin with. That's the great thing about protesters, when in doubt they can always just move the target.

Here is a summary of recent developments, coiurtesy of Investor's Business Daily:

Now that Leno and Letterman have had their way with Vice President Cheney's hunting accident and the port controversy, maybe we can get back to something really important — like Saddam's WMD program.

Yes, the linchpin of opposition to the Iraq War — never really strong to begin with — has taken some real hits in recent weeks. And "Bush lied" — the anti-war mantra about the president, Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction — looks the most battered.

Inconveniently for critics of the war, Saddam made tapes in his version of the Oval Office. These tapes landed in the hands of American intelligence and were recently aired publicly.

The first 12 hours of the tapes — there are hundreds more waiting to be translated — are damning, to say the least. They show conclusively that Bush didn't lie when he cited Saddam's WMD plans as one of the big reasons for taking the dictator out.

Nobody disputes the tapes' authenticity. On them, Saddam talks openly of programs involving biological, chemical and, yes, nuclear weapons.

War foes have long asserted that Saddam halted his WMD programs in the wake of his defeat in the first Gulf War in 1991. Saddam's abandonment of WMD programs was confirmed by subsequent U.N. inspections.

Again, not true. In a tape dating to April 1995, Saddam and several aides discuss the fact that U.N. inspectors had found traces of Iraq's biological weapons program. On the tape, Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law, is heard gloating about fooling the inspectors.

"We did not reveal all that we have," he says. "Not the type of weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use. None of this was correct."

There's more. Indeed, as late as 2000, Saddam can be heard in his office talking with Iraqi scientists about his ongoing plans to build a nuclear device. At one point, he discusses Iraq's plasma uranium program — something that was missed entirely by U.N. weapons inspectors combing Iraq for WMD.

This is particularly troubling, since it indicates an active, ongoing attempt by Saddam to build an Iraqi nuclear bomb.

"What was most disturbing," said John Tierney, the ex- FBI agent who translated the tapes, "was the fact that the individuals briefing Saddam were totally unknown to the U.N. Special Commission (or UNSCOM, the group set up to look into Iraq's WMD programs)."

Perhaps most chillingly, the tapes record Iraq Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz talking about how easy it would be to set off a WMD in Washington. The comments come shortly after Saddam muses about using "proxies" in a terror attack.

9-11, anyone?

In short, let us repeat: President Bush was right. We had to invade to disarm Saddam — otherwise, he would have completely reconstituted his chemical, nuclear and bio-weapons programs when inspectors left.

Saddam probably knew better than to use them himself against the U.S. But it's likely he wouldn't have hesitated giving one or more to terror groups with which he had routine contact.

Lest you think we're making the case entirely based on these tapes, let us assure you that other evidence — mounting by the day — points to the same conclusion.

We've been very impressed by the story told by Georges Sada, the former No. 2 in Iraq's air force. He has written a book, "Saddam's Secrets," that details how the Iraqi dictator used trucks, commercial jets and ships to remove his WMD from the country. At the time, the move went largely undetected, because Iraq pretended the massive movement of materiel was to help Syrian flood victims.

Nor is Sada alone. Ali Ibrahim, another of Saddam's former commanders, has largely corroborated Sada's story.

So how was Saddam able to use his "cheat and retreat" tactics without being found out? He had help, according to a former U.S. Defense Department official.

"The short answer to the question of where the WMD Saddam bought from the Russians went was that they went to Syria and Lebanon," said John Shaw, former deputy undersecretary of defense, in comments made at an intelligence summit Feb. 17-20 in Arlington, Va.

"They were moved by Russian Spetsnaz (special ops) units out of uniform that were specifically sent to Iraq to move the weaponry and eradicate any evidence of its existence," he said.

These are extraordinary developments. They deserve a full airing in the media, since they essentially validate part of Bush's casus belli for invading Iraq and deposing the murderous Saddam.

But once again, the mainstream media have dropped the ball. They seem more interested in Dick Cheney's marksmanship and American port management than in setting the record straight about one of the most important developments of our time.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Iran's education dollars at work

Have to admit, I had no idea:

"Tom and Jerry" was part of a Jewish conspiracy to present mice as clean, an Iranian official said. Hasan Bolkhari, an adviser to the Iranian Education ministry on mass media, said Hollywood Jews created the cartoon in an attempt to turn around the dirty image of mice, because Nazis had stigmatized Jews as mice. "The mouse is very clever and smart," Bolkhari said in a televised seminar on film last week monitored by the Middle East Media Research Instuite. "Everything he does is so cute. He kicks the poor cat's ass. Yet this cruelty does not make you despise the mouse. He looks so nice, and he is so clever...This is exactly why some say it was meant to erase this image of mice from the minds of European children, and to show that the mouse is not dirty and has these traits."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Crushing dissent

There's a pretty amazing story brewing in Minnesota, where two television commercials featuring Iraq war veterans and their families have been running. Nothing notable about that, until the state Democrat Party made it their official position that it is "un-American" to support our federal government's position in Iraq, and have begun a campaign of initimidation to attempt to ban that any such expression of support from television or radio airwaves. Power Line has the remarkable and disturbing details.

I doubt this story will get much if any national attention (imagine the top of the fold furor if Republicans attempted to remove Cindy Sheehan from the airways!), but it certainly should from any outlets who at least pretend not to be Democrat cheerleaders. This is a shameful episode and we can only hope that the national party will condemn this embarrassing conduct and shake up the leadership in what is obviously a very broken state party.

Selective outrage

Captain's Quarter nails it with this comment on the fake indignation of the press:

"When our media has the testicular fortitude to report on terrorists honestly, then they will have gained the moral authority to lecture any White House on censorship and the responsibility of fully informing the public."

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


This has to be my favorite story of the week so far:

SPOKANE, Wash. - Fans of No. 5 Gonzaga have been asked to stop yelling "Brokeback Mountain" at opposing players.

The reference to the recent movie about homosexual cowboys was chanted by some fans during the game Feb. 6 against Saint Mary's, and is apparently intended to suggest an opposing player is gay.

Naah...you think? Then again, it could be intended to suggest that the whole team is gay. Or the whole school is gay. Or the whole state of California is gay (not just San Francisco). Or they could just be giving their Oscar pick - did anybody yell "Capote!"? The author of this AP report needs to keep an open mind as to what these students might mean - not that there's anything wrong with that.

Might as well make it official

Inspired by the 1994 Republican Contract with America, Strata-Sphere imagines what a 2006 Democrat counterpart might look like:

This 2006 Congressional Democrat Contract With Al Qaeda lays out what the Democrat Party promises to do if they are given majorities in Congress this fall:

As Democrat Members of the House of Representatives, and as citizens seeking to join that body, we propose not just to change current policies, but even more important, to restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives.
That is why, in this era of official evasion and posturing, we offer instead a detailed agenda for national renewal, a written commitment with no fine print. We call this our Contract With Al Qaeda”

This year’s election offers the chance, after 4 years of one-party control, to bring to the House a new majority that will transform the Nation’s policies towards Al Qaeda. That historic change would be the end of government that is too focused in Iraq, too intrusive, and too obsessed with possible terrorist attacks. It can be the beginning of a Congress that respects the privacy of all peoples, including members of Al Qaeda here in the US.

On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Democrat majority will immediately pass the following major legislation, aimed at restoring the pre 9-11 mirage of security and world harmony and ending this Administration’s policies for National Security:

FIRST, we will finally kill the Patriot Act so that no member of Al Qaeda will fear using our libraries to access international websites, access their email, or do basic research on major US installations and population centers. We will guarantee full privacy due anyone who makes it to our shores without question. In addition, we will roll back all provisions that put terrorism on an equal footing with Drug Traffickers and Organized Crime, which we understand greatly insults members of Al Qaeda who consider themselves above drug lords.

SECOND, We will enact legislation to release all Al Qaeda members now held in custody in the GITMO Gulag, while providing legal counsel to all who have been unfairly detained during this unfortunate international misunderstanding between Al Qaeda and America. We will ensure all detainees have options for bail and parole so they can continue with their life’s efforts while the legal issues surrounding their detention are worked out. Every ex-detainee will be provided the services of an ACLU lawyer.

THIRD, we will pass legislation ensuring that all Al Qaeda members will be free from government monitoring of their phone calls and emails with comrades back home monitored without probable cause. Probable cause will not include the normal desire to call home to friends and family. We see this act as protecting US citizens and Al Qaeda alike from warrantless surveillance.

FOURTH, as part of our revamping of immigration laws, we will ensure Al Qaeda members are treated the same as any other illegal immigrant now in America. We will provide you amnesty, a driver’s license, health care and education support once you are able to sneak past our borders.

FIFTH, as with warrantless electronic surveillance and in anticipation of pending civil lawsuits, we plan to pass legislation that bans warrantless searches of person and luggage at airports and other major transportation centers. It makes no sense to allow random searches of travelers if we are going to end targeted surveillance of communications. And we find both actions to be religious profiling and against the common sense norms of all liberal Americans.

SIXTH, Also, in line with the unfair targeting of Al Qaeda communications and persons travelling, we plan to submit legislation ending the practice of no-fly lists. This practice is biased towards people with common names and has limited the rights to travel of nuns and babies in the past.

SEVENTH, in an effort to demonstrate our sincere apologies for the actions of President Bush towards Al Qaeda, we plan to return the State of Iraq to the despot dictator of Al Qaeda’s choice by calling for the immediate withdrawal of our military forces to the safety of European soil. We encourage Al Qaeda to do what they please with the Iraqi people.

EIGHTH, we will submit and pass legislation that will mandate any questioning by US agents of Al Qaeda members to (a) be done in the presence of an ACLU lawyer, (b) never last more than 30 minutes, (c) be done indoors, in climate controlled conditions, (d) include an offering of proper food and beverage and (e) require every question to use the word ‘please’.

NINE, we promise to immediately begin impeachment of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous enemy, the Imperial President W Bush, and we will promise to not stop our efforts until we have removed this thorn in Al Qaeda’s side - even if we have to make up scandals to get it done.

We the undersigned candidates of the Democrat National Party do swear that if elected, and given control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, we will enact the above Contract With Al Qaeda.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The green mind at work

"Natural-food grocer Whole Foods Market Inc. said [in January] it will rely on wind energy for all of its electricity needs, making it the largest corporate user of renewable energy in the United States," the AP reports.

"It's a sales driver rather than a cost," Whole Foods regional president Michael Besancon tells the AP. "All of those things we do related to our core values: help drive sales, help convince a customer to drive past three or four other supermarkets on the way to Whole Foods."

As James Taranto notes, the Whole Foods message is...gas up that SUV and do your part to help promote energy conservation!

Shadegg on education

I don't know much about Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) except that he lost a bid to replace Tom DeLay as House Majority Leader, but this quote on the federal government's role in education tells me he's my kind of politician:

"I personally believe there is no place in the federal government for a Department of Education. It is not in the Constitution. There is no mention anywhere in the Constitution that the federal government has any role in education. I believe that the federal government doesn't have a role in education. I have several members of my family, including my wife, who are teachers, who are not at all happy with the so-called No Child Left Behind bill, which I think has gone far astray from what it was even intended to do. And I would like to hope that at some point we could get the federal government out of the business of education altogether, and acknowledge that this is policy that should be decided at the state level."

Olympic city silliness

Is anybody else as worn out as I am by references to "Torino" in connection with the current Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy? I can understand it in an Italian language story, but it makes no sense anywhere English is being written or spoken. I suppose the whole thing is just another example of awkwardness in the name of political correctness, but when is the last time you heard "Roma" used instead of "Rome?" If you're going to use "Torino," how can you continue to use "Rome," or for that matter "Italy?"

My favorite mixed message was a report from ESPN's Lisa Salters that began "Welcome to Torino, Italy. It may not be Venice or Rome, but..." Italy...Venice...Rome? Can you say that on TV?

Complicating the issue for those who have reached my age is that any time we hear "Torino" we think of an ugly 1970's Ford.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Fighting the remnants of segregation

Morgan Freeman is one of the finest actors of our generation, probably best known for his performance in The Shawshank Redemption, which is in my opinion in the inner circle of the greatest movies ever. But he is also a great man, and as we have reached the early stages of Black History Month it's worth looking back on his stinging comments on the subject that aired on 60 Minutes the Sunday before Christmas.

He called the concept of a month dedicated to black history "ridiculous."

"You're going to relegate my history to a month? I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."

He noted that there is no "white history month," and said the only way to get rid of racism is to "stop talking about it." He believes the labels "black" and "white" are an obstacle to beating racism.

"I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man," Freeman says.

Indeed, historian Carter G. Woodson's Negro History Week, which he designated in 1926 as the second week in February to mark the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln and which was the forerunner of Black History Month, was never meant to be permanent. Woodson said he hoped the week could one day be eliminated — when black history would become fundamental to American history.

I think we reached that point a long time ago, and it's time to stop this vestige of segregation. "Black history is American history." Perfectly stated.