Thursday, September 29, 2005

 

Honor killing in Denmark

Just saw this at LGF.

Todays episode of "killing my little sister" brought to you by The Religion of Peace(R).

Gadamn sickos.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

 

They Don't Get It

But it is the fans who should be asking, not Congress.

Major League Baseball has put in place some regulations to curb steroid use but currently it seems the players union is blocking any real attempts at reform.

MLB was brought before Congress today, ESPN reporting: (Sen. John) McCain wanted to know why the process has moved so slowly, asking (players union head, Donald) Fehr repeatedly: "Don't you get it?"... "We're at the end here, and I don't want to do it, but we need an agreement soon. It's not complicated. It's not complicated. All sports fans understand it," McCain said. "I suggest you act and you act soon."

While I don't like Congressional hearings and all the grandstanding they produce, I do like to see proffessional athletes and their representatives get the treatment. The problem is that it shouldn't take the threat of government regulation to get results. The fans should be the ones who step up and demand that sports leagues and their players come clean.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

 

Sketch Comedy in Russia

I got home about 2 hours ago after spending about 10 and a half hours acting in a Russian sketch comedy show called Filiet or at least it sounds like that. The scene was about a Russian grandmother called Baba Nurie who would marry Chinese men so that they could get their green cards for 1000 rubles ($35). They could pay extra to consimate the marriage. I and a polyglot from Cameroon played employees of the Guiness Book of World Records who wanted to record her record setting 1000th marriage. Another polyglot from Kyrgyzstan played the latest Chinese husband.

It was a lot of fun. We started the day at a dacha about 20 km. from Moscow. We spent half the day outside riding on a horse driven wagon shooting lines and various angles approaching the dacha. The Russian actor who played the wagon driver was so good he fooled me into thinking he was just a hired hand who was taking care of the horse. The second half of the day was shot inside with Baba Nurie and her Chinese husband serving us borsch while she described her scheme and the fact she had a beautiful granddaughter who wanted to go to London.

The humor was very stereotypical. I had performed in one other scene for this show and it involved some Russians who lived in America going on a picnic and imbibing and then being brutalized by a New York City police officer. I played the police officer. The idea being that America is such a stuffy, unfun place that if you open a bottle of vodka outside you will be arrested. Ok, this is pretty close to the truth. The scene we shot today had the Englishmen as being shocked by the primitive conditions of rural Russia, overly polite, and befuddled. The Chinese man was subserviant and constantly smiling. The Russian woman was clever and a survivor. I don't begrudge Russians choosing to highlight the positive in the Russian characters on their TV shows. Of the few Russian sitcoms I have watched and understood there are no weak, stupid men which is quite a difference from the U.S. I just wish they were a little more enlightened in their characterizations of other nationalities. Oh well, it is comedy and somebody had to get hurt. Maybe they will discover husband bashing.

Monday, September 26, 2005

 

Iraq & The Media

I agree with Bill C that it isn't entirely ignorant to believe we're losing in Iraq. Its the wrong impression, of course, but its understandable how one could get it. With that in mind, I came across three posts today, all dealing with a different aspect of media reporting.

Bill Roggio:
The attacks on Baghdad, while having no real military value, are achieving the desired political and propaganda effects of feeding the Western media’s passion for gory headlines that project failure in Iraq. It should be noted that Coalition successes in targeting al Qaeda leadership and operatives rarely, if ever, leads in the headlines, while al Qaeda successes get top billing. Today is no different - the headline At Least 25 Are Killed in Day of Violence Across Iraq [New York Times] sells, while al Qaeda Commander and 20 Terrorists Killed in Raid does not exist, unless you happened to stumble upon this site.
John Podhoretz:
A little more than two weeks until the constitutional referendum in Iraq, and the signs are remarkably good about this remarkable document's passage: Registration to vote is heavy, and religious and political leaders of the Shi'ites this week renewed their commitment to a "yes" vote. And yet I just saw an MSNBC report by correspondent Peter Alexander, who said there was nothing new in Iraq other than more suicide bombing attacks against American troops. Alexander offered the nonsensical time-frame observation that since Hurricane Katrina came ashore, 42 Americans have died. I don't know what that's supposed to mean, but its intention is clear: To make people feel negative and depressed about the situation in Iraq when in fact Iraq is probably on the verge of a vote as historic, if not more so, than the January vote.
Wretchard:
Counting the wounded as casualties means Portillo's assertion is not only unfounded, but the opposite of the truth. The reader will notice that the proportion of wounded to killed has changed from 9.3:1 in 2004 to 6.6:1 in 2005. This is consistent with the DOD briefings that there are fewer attacks, but since these may involve larger explosives in the case of IEDs, the attacks kill a larger proportion of the targeted vehicle's occupants. Still, the number of killed and wounded is 73% of last year's figures. In the last three months, the number has been 50% of the same period last year. This was quite an interesting result, considering news accounts that Iraq is 'descending into chaos' and that things are going 'from bad to worse'. Counting the wounded, the figures for September 2005 so far are lower than for any month in 2004 and 2005. Yet the mood conveyed in the press is that things are sliding into the abyss. That may be true for other reasons, but with US casualties at a quarter to a seventh of their historical values in a month full of offensives and important dates, the honest analyst must at least ask himself if something is changing on the battlefield.
Too bad honesty has nothing to do with media coverage of the war.

(Note: This will probably be my last post for about two weeks. I'm off to California for the week, to be followed by a road trip back to Chicago.)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

 

Finding the truth in Iraq

I don't believe it is entirely ignorant to believe that the Iraq war is not going well. That, in fact, we are losing. I just saw the cover of a recent Time magazine asking whether the war was winnable. I am sure that most of the mainstream media (MSM) is giving out similar information. From todays Day by Day by Chris Muir:

Michael Yon's readers got him night vision gear for his reporting from combat.

Former Iraq bureau Chief Hannah Allam's employer-Knight-Ridder-got her an award for 'regularly out-reporting & and out-writing the competition'.

The reporter who said her reporting was incomplete because she could not leave her hotel?

Yup. She has won the admiration of the entire press corps for the quality of her coverage.

Finally, accurate reporting.

If you don't know who Michael Yon is go to his website and read his dispatch's from Mosul. Nothing but the truth about the war. Read what the soldiers are saying and decide for yourself whether we are making progress or not. Ask yourself if withdrawal makes any sense at this point. Go and look up the blogs of other soldiers who are/have serving/served in Iraq and take them as an aggregate because they are the best reporters we have in Iraq. Maybe even the best writers.

Friday, September 23, 2005

 

At The Pork in the Road...

If you haven't heard of it already, Porkbusters is a site exposing some pork projects recently approved by our government. While the question being raised is: Why can't some of these project's funds be used to fund Katrina relief instead? Another question to keep in mind is: Why were these projects approved in the first place?

Here is a list of the $40 Billion in projects identified so far including the "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska at $315 million.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

 

Mexico's Bid For Dual Sovereignty

Undermining US sovereignty and the rule of law

This Saturday, Mexico is staging elections for the advisory council of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad. Persons born in Mexico or to Mexican parents who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to vote. As I understand it, elected seats on the council are assigned proportionally among US states according to the number of eligible voters in each. Illinois qualifies for 6 such seats. An Illinois state Senator is (registration required, see BugMeNot) running for one of them:
If state Sen. Martin Sandoval succeeds in his next election Saturday, he will serve in Mexico City as well as Springfield.

Sandoval is running for a seat on an advisory council created by Mexico President Vicente Fox in 2002 to incorporate Mexicans living in the United States into his government's policymaking.

Sandoval would be the first elected official in the U.S. to serve on the advisory council. That raises the peculiar prospect of the Cicero Democrat offering policy advice in an official capacity to Mexican Cabinet members while creating laws in Illinois.

As it turns out, no law or rule prohibits it, in Mexico or in Illinois. Mexican officials call it an honorary position.
If there isn't a law against it, there should be. After all, should Sandoval serve on the advisory council, he becomes, in effect, an agent of a foreign government.
Sandoval shrugs off questions about conflicted loyalties.

"I see no conflict at any point. There are always people who will have questions," he said. "I have looked at the four corners of this. I see upside all over the place."

Sandoval said his participation is especially logical because a large share of his constituents were born in Mexico. More than 42 percent of Sandoval's Senate district is foreign-born, the second-highest rate in the state, according to Roosevelt University researchers.
Implicitly, Sandoval is asserting that the governments of Illinois and the US are incapable of appropriately addressing the concerns of Mexican-Americans, a claim without precedent in American history. Considering the number of Mexicans illegally in this country, this is no doubt partly true. But established diplomatic channels exist to handle these matters. What Mexico intends goes far beyond addressing the concerns of illegal aliens. By forcing state, local and federal governments to compete for the loyalty of even some American citizens, it creates dangerous divisions among us. It is a bid for joint sovereignty. It is an outrage.

(Yes, I know, AVQ. But they just keep coming.)

This has already happened in some areas of local governmental affairs. From what I understand, the Illinois DCFS has practically ceded jurisdiction over cases involving families of Mexican decent to the Chicago Mexican couslulate. In effect, Mexico City has direct influence over the social policies in neighborhoods adjacent to mine. This is more than just offensive to me; this can directly affect my quality of life. For instince, the disposition of family cases can have a direct bearing on the mental health of people, or the later behavior of children, who live in my city. Those making these decisions are not accountable to Chicago (or Illinois) voters in any way. Due to my nationality, I can't appeal to Mexico City for redress of grievances. How long before other issues are handled this way?

What happens when Mexican-Americans represented by Sandoval dislike legislative or regulatory actions taken in Springfield or Washington? Does he take their complaints to Mexico City, circumventing the established American political process? This completely undermines the constitutional structure of our government. Why are Mexican-Americans entitled to the special privilages of using the clout of a foreign government to assert political power on their behalf? When a foreign government interferes with the functioning of our state and local governments, how long before the very idea of American democracy is compromised? How long before Mexican laws and courts begin competing with, or trumping, American laws and courts?

I don't understand why this isn't getting the attention it deserves. Maybe it will after Congress holds hearings about dual citizenship later this year. Americans shouldn't tolerate this blatent and unprecedented infringement of our nation's sovereignty. This kind of thig should be nipped in the bud.

(Incidentally, I love Oscar Avilla's idea of 'ordinary citizen:'
The advisory council members are generally ordinary citizens--teachers, social workers or the heads of immigrant advocacy organizations.
No bias there.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

 

America & the UN

We should admit the UN is, in effect, our enemy and act accordingly.

A Chicago Tribune editorial from Sep 14 supporting John Bolton's efforts at the UN concludes:
But too many nations have stakes in the derelict status quo. Late Tuesday, the UN General Assembly agreed to offer the summiteers a weak "outcome document" that abandons many ambitious reforms or leaves them for later. If the heads of state settle for that, Annan, the posturing but failed reformer, will look even weaker.

Bolton, by contrast, now is identified with a priority many Americans support: that the UN no longer be a clubhouse where diplomats dither while, elsewhere, dictators murder their people and genocidal armies exterminate innocents.

Bolton spoke Tuesday of the summit as a first step toward reform. "We have certainly obtained a number of priorities that we felt were very important--on terrorism, on human rights, on management," he said. "There are things we didn't get. This is a negotiation among 191 countries and this is the United Nations as it is, and you know, you judge it as such."

You judge it as such. But you no longer go along just to get along. Americans can be proud of their government's long overdue assault on UN timidity, negligence and corruption.
Ramah Kudaimi from the Communications Department of the Council On American-Islamic Relations responded:
Unfortunately there is absolutely no blame placed on the United States for the current obsoleteness of the United Nations. The (Tribune editorial) board seems to believe that all nations but America want the United Nations to remain unchanged.
He next whines about US protection of Israel at the UN and goes on to complain that the US only looks out for its own national interests. He concludes:
The United States has been indifferent and hostile to the United Nations. It has acted several times unilaterally instead of waiting for this international organization to discuss and choose the moral path of action. American governments have withheld dues to ensure the UN secretary general fully understands that all the UN does must be approved by the U.S.

John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, is not doing anything extraordinary by criticizing the United Nations and calling for reforms. The extraordinary thing will be if he or some American official finally admits the United States has cared more for its national interests than for ensuring the United Nations becomes a viable organization for the entire world.
I just don't get it. How can one argue that the US is simultaneously pushing for reform and trying to preserve the status quo? Which is it? What's wrong with the US using the UN to further our own national interests? Every other government does the much the same thing, except those, of course, too feeble, foolish or corrupt to act in their country's national interest. (They try to procure wealth for their elite and/or pursue utopian fantasy ideologies instead.) And if its important to respect majority opinion among UN member governments, why isn't it equally important that those same governments respect majority opinion in their own countries?

Consider this chart, a statistical log of the actions of the UN human rights system which are critical of the human rights record of specific states covering the last 3 years. How can anyone argue that Israel, the US and India are worse violators of human rights than either China, Iran or Uzbekistan? Who can take such a system seriously?

Also, its instructive to recall how damaging corruption sanctioned by the UN has been to US interests. Iraq became a diplomatic and public relations disaster almost entirely as a result of endemic corruption within the UN system. (Remember all those UN/NGO reports claiming that Iraqi children were starving and dying due to the effects of the 'US imposed' sanctions?) From the Tribune editorial:
In truth, oil-for-food put a tremendous amount of money--evidently $100 billion--into play around the world. And some of it did buy food.

But Hussein used every trick in the book--bribes, kickbacks, illicit surcharges, favors to cronies--to profit from the program. Apart from enriching his slaughterhouse regime, he exploited oil-for-food to buy friendships in influential UN member nations. Those nations, in turn, could lobby for the relaxation of international sanctions that were slapped on a dangerous Iraq after the Persian Gulf war. And many of those influential governments (France, Russia and China, to name three) were nicely positioned to keep the UN Security Council from ever enforcing its lip-service ultimatums to Hussein.

Did interference that nefarious really happen? Volcker's new report says the beneficiaries of Hussein's scams included not only Benon Sevan, the high UN official overseeing the program, but also 'present and former politicians and diplomats, members of organizations supportive of Iraq, members of influential families in the Middle East, lobbyists and media figures.'"
World outrage should be directed at the UN for what it has become. Instead, aided by their media allies and the global elite, the UN serves as a forum where anti-US forces redirect world outrage at the US. The UN is, in effect, an enemy of the US. Instead of trying to reform the UN, we should be working on destroying the whole rotten structure completely.

Monday, September 19, 2005

 

Yet More Clintonian Lies

The Permanent Revisionist is the personification of selfishness

Former President Bill Clinton attacked President Bush in an interview with George Stephanopoulos. As usual, most of Clinton's statements were distortions or outright lies. For example:
Breaking with tradition under which US presidents mute criticisms of their successors, Clinton said the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq "virtually alone and before UN inspections were completed, with no real urgency, no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction."
Contrast that with this Clinton quote from 2002:
"People can quarrel with whether we should have more troops in Afghanistan or internationalize Iraq or whatever, but it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons."
John Hinderaker comments:
This has never happened before. Until now, both parties have recognized a patriotism that, at some level, supersedes partisanship. Consistent with that belief, former Presidents of both parties have stayed out of politics and have avoided criticizing their successors. Until now. The Democrats appear bent on destroying every element of the fabric that has united us as Americans.

Clinton's vicious attack is even worse in the context of his wife's Presidential bid: it is fair to assume that he was motivated not only by partisanship, but by his own desire to re-occupy the White House, and, most likely, wield once more the levers of power.
--------------------------
This attack was false in every respect. The invasion of Iraq had the support of dozens of nations. The UN's inspections could never be "completed," but the UN itself had reported that large quantities of WMDs remained unaccounted for. On the other hand, Clinton's suggestion that there was "no real urgency" about the situation in Iraq was probably sincere, as it typified Clinton's approach to terrorism: he perceived no urgency after the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, or after al Qaeda's attempt to simultaneously destroy a dozen American airplanes over the Pacific in 1995; or after the attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998; or after Saddam's attempt to assassinate former President Bush; or after Saddam repeatedly tried to shoot down American aircraft; or after the Cole bombing in 2000; or after the Taliban took over Afghanistan and converted it into a training ground for anti-American mass murderers; or after any number of other provocations. So, naturally, Clinton saw no urgency with respect to dealing with Saddam's regime. Of course, had Saddam facilitated a post-9/11 attack on the U.S. using chemical or biological weapons, you can imagine how harshly Clinton would have criticized Bush for his lack of foresight.
Hinderaker has much more. Bryan Preston comments:
Clinton is nothing if not an opportunist. He is driving a knife into Bush's back to finish him off and benefit himself. He senses some personal and political profit in renouncing everything he has said over the past ten years regarding Iraq to adopt a line that is 180 degrees out of sync. Recall that Clinton is perhaps the most cautious President we have ever had. He never made a move without consulting polls, and after the failure of HillaryCare he never introduced initiatives more daring than the V-Chip and school uniforms. Clinton is not by nature a bold man; the damage done to Bush after Katrina signals that he sees an opportunity and is willing to seize it.

Clinton is also, with his Clinton Global Initiative, simultaneously using the legitimacy that Bush gave back to him to seize the initiative on his ultimate quest, which is to become either the actual or de facto head of the United Nations. Having ended the Bush presidency as a center of global authority, should Clinton seize the UN mantle he will hold enormous sway on the world stage.
Clinton is selfishness personified. He has conclusively demonstrated that he is loyal to his own political ambition above all else, no matter the harm done to our institutions, political traditions, or national security. He wants to be President of the World. Nothing is more important to him. His whole presidency and ex-presidency have been dedicated to fulfilling this goal.

Friday, September 16, 2005

 

Able Danger

The latest on Able Danger from AJStrata:
Rep. Weldon has responded to the 9-11 Commission’s brazen dismissal of Able Danger today:
"For the 9/11 commission (search) to say that this did not exist is just absolutely outrageous. It’s a total denial of the facts,” said the Pennsylvania Republican.
He also hints at some of the witnesses for next week’s hearings (during which, of course, I have an all day meeting to attend!):
Weldon said witnesses will include an FBI agent who will testify that she set up three meetings in 2000 between the FBI’s Washington field office and the Able Danger, but each was cancelled at the last minute. Weldon also said another witness will testify that he was ordered to destroy documents related to the Able Danger project.
What will be important is when the order to destroy the documents came. If it happened in February 2001 when Able Danger wrapped up, no big deal - just unfortunate. If it was in the summer or fall of 2000 - well then I want to know who gave the order.
So do I.

UPDATE: Dick Morris has this today:
The recent publication of some once-cen sored parts of the 9/11 Commission report reveals that, in 1998, federal intelligence sources had shared their concern that al Qaeda could be planning to use passenger airplanes as missiles on suicide raids against prominent targets in the United States. This is the first time we've heard that that the possibility of such a suicide mission was raised at the federal level during the Clinton years.

But the entire thrust of the administration's attitude toward air safety and security was based on the happy assumption that no terrorist would ever engage in a suicide bombing using airplanes. Now the question arises: Why did not the Clinton Administration re-evaluate its air safety measures in light of the 1998 warning?
Good question.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

 

China's Bachelor Bomb

Few people are aware of the impending demographic time bomb ticking away in China:
In a trend fraught with troubling political and social implications, China will soon find itself with a marriage-age population remarkably out of balance, with about 23 million more young men than women available for them to marry in this decade and the next - what demographers term a 'marriage squeeze.'

This impending surplus of unattached young men could be a driving force behind increased crime, explosive epidemics of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and even international threats to the security of other nations. Yet the Chinese government has done little to address its demographic destiny.

The coming squeeze is largely the legacy of the government's one-child policy, along with societal modernization. As a result, the nation's fertility rate has fallen dramatically, from around 6 children per woman in the 1960s to around 1.7 currently.

But the society's strong cultural preference for sons has not changed. In recent decades, ready access to ultrasound technology has enabled parents to learn the sex of their unborn children and has led to widespread female-specific abortion.

(Emphasis mine.)
Gender imbalances are common in developing countries, though nowhere else is it this pronounced. Such are the consequences of social engineering efforts affected by a totalitarian regime. By denying its populace the most fundamental freedoms and trying to maintain control over all aspects of life, China's Communist regime all but created its own demographic destiny. In addition to ordinary, everyday repression, through despicably inhuman measures -- including forced abortions and mandatory sterilizations -- they have rigidly enforced the one child policy for more than one generation. Thus the stakes for couples desiring sons became all or nothing.

The authors acknowledge Chinese Communist policies exacerbated social preferences, but imply that the regime should do something to address it. Just what, exactly, do they want the regime to do? Cull the excess bachelors? With its track record, anything -- absolutely anything -- is possible.

 

Should Katrina Investigation Be Independent?

No.

Lynn Sweet notes Democrats want equality with Republicans in investigating the response of federal, state and local officials to Hurricane Katrina:
Congressional Democrats and Republicans are facing off over the nature of a commission probing how governments at all levels failed to prepare for and respond to Hurricane Katrina.

Democrats are stepping up their demand for an independent committee to investigate the botched relief effort, calling for a panel modeled somewhat along the lines of the 9/11 Commission.

Rejecting the notion of an independent panel, this afternoon the GOP-controlled House is scheduled to vote on the creation of a congressional committee to review state, local and federal response to the disaster. The panel will have 11 Republicans and nine Democrats, and it was not clear Wednesday night if Democrats would have any subpoena power.
Good for the House. Too bad the Senate is unlikely to do this any time soon. Democrats just can't accept the fact that they aren't equal to Republicans -- elections matter.

Also, we don't need any more 'independent' investigative panels like the Sep 11 Commission, which, though formally disbanded, still(!) has its own agenda. (As it has seemingly from the moment of its inception.) Consider its reaction to the latest Able Danger revelations. AJStrata comments:
The 9-11 Commission has made a very strange move one week out from Senate hearings on Able Danger: they claim Able Danger cannot back its claim of identifying four of the 9-11 highjackers and trying to alert the FBI of the presence of Al Qaeda in the US in the summer of 2000. Like they would know?
Former members of the Sept. 11 commission on Wednesday dismissed assertions that a Pentagon intelligence unit identified lead hijacker Mohamed Atta as an member of al-Qaida long before the 2001 attacks.
Note that the commission doesn'’t address the full Able Danger claim - identifying possible AQ in country and trying to alert the FBI. The statement only mentions one terrorist: Atta.

How do they know the Able Danger team is wrong? Especially after the Pentagon did a complete '‘about face'’ as a result of their review of their files: which dwarfs the material the 9-11 commission was allowed to retain on the subject.
Kean said the recollections of the intelligence officers cannot be verified by any document.

"Bluntly, it just didn'’t happen and that'’s the conclusion of all 10 of us,"” said a former commissioner, ex-Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash.
Really? Then what caused the 9-11 commission to rush back to the US and start researching the claims? How could some small program that simply identified possible Al Qaeda members cause the 9-11 Commission to scramble so breathlessly to get information from the DoD if it was not tied to 9-11? The record of the commission’s reactions to Shaffer'’s claims in Afghanistan are completely at odds with this current position.

Gorton and Kean, please tell us what caused your mad scramble then? I strongly suggest you be prepared to answer that question, and back it up with internal documentation and notes, before next week!
Captain Ed reacts to Gorton's statement:
Exactly how the ten commissioners came up with this consensus never gets explained by Kean or Gorton. Thanks to the work of their staffers, none of them ever heard testimony from either Col. Tony Shaffer, the DIA liaison, nor Captain Scott Phillpott, the program's director. Neither did they speak with civilian contractor J. D. Smith, whose work produced the documentation which has since disappeared. They don't even acknowledge that the Pentagon itself, while announcing that they could not find the program's data, did find three more witnesses that corroborate Phillpott, Smith, and Shaffer.

If one had to concoct a scenario which shows the methodology of the 9/11 Commission, it could hardly illuminate it better than this. Without hearing witnesses nor reviewing evidence, the Commission reached a hard and fast conclusion that, not coincidentally, fits within their determined narrative. They give no explanation for their blunt statement of "fact", and present no deliberation. Apparently the discovery of evidence that doesn't fit within their report makes the evidence untrue, no matter how many witnesses come forward to verify it.

To put it bluntly, as Slade Gorton says, the Commission did nothing but put a quasi-official imprimatur on a series of speculations that have collapsed since the discovery of Able Danger and other revelations about what the Commission missed in its investigation. It wrote the report it wanted to write, and ignored evidence and testimony that discredited its conclusions. The board of bureaucrats recommended an expanded bureaucracy while blaming operational personnel for not "connecting the dots", ignoring the fact that the bureaucracy -- aided by one of the Commissioners themselves -- created a Byzantine legal environment which actively suppressed the data-sharing necessary to make the proper analysis.

Now they want to shade their eyes and cover their ears as the evidence they missed or actively ignored comes to light. Let them. It will only demonstrate their lack of investigatory detachment and marriage to their preconceived narratives all the more.
Regarding an independent panel to investigate Katrina, I agree with Captain Ed's conclusion:
It's precisely this kind of unaccountable hackery that should advise against creating even more independent commissions that allow Congress to avoid the political responsibility for doing its own investigations.
And I'm really looking forward to those Able Danger hearings next week.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

 

Galloway vs Hitchens

George Galloway will debate Christopher Hitchens on the topic of the war in Iraq tonight at 6 pm CDT. (Via Ace.) A live audio link is here. The sponsor's web site hypes it:
Mr. Galloway, debating against the war, is a highly respected Member of Parliament who recently electrified the U.S. with his appearance at the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations responding to charges related to Iraq’s oil-for-food program. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer described Galloway’s speech in the Senate as “a blistering attack on U.S. senators rarely heard.” He penned “Mr. Galloway Goes to Washington” based upon his recent Senate Subcommittee hearings. Mr. Hitchens, debating pro-war is a widely published polemicist and frequent radio and TV commentator. He is the author of “Love, Poverty and War,” and “Blood, Class and Empire.”

Moderated by Amy Goodman, WBAI radio host “Democracy Now” and author of 'Exception to the Rules.' Presented by The New Press, International Socialist Review, Center for Research and Social Change, and cosponsored by Nation Books.
Hitchens, on Galloway, in his most recent Slate column:
Fawning on dictators, posing and posturing for a state-controlled press in front of a coerced audience, managing to overlook the existence of death squads and torturers, and praising the invasion and occupation of neighboring states—this is the same George Galloway who in 1994 flew to Baghdad and addressed Saddam Hussein in the following terms, commiserating with him on his failure to annex the Arab and Muslim state of Kuwait:
Your Excellency, Mr. President, I greet you in the name of the many thousands of people in Britain who stood against the tide and opposed the war and aggression against Iraq. … I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.
Now, you can be a flatterer of dictators and murderers and still—just about—be a pacifist, or "anti-war." But here is what Galloway said about the car bombers and beheaders and suicide fanatics of Iraq, again this July 30 at the Al-Assad Library, as broadcast by Syrian state TV and by Al Jazeera the following day. He informed the Arab world:
Two of your beautiful daughters are in the hands of foreigners—Jerusalem and Baghdad. The foreigners are doing to your daughters as they will. The daughters are crying for help, and the Arab world is silent. Some of them are collaborating with the rape of these two beautiful Arab daughters...
As for the jihadist and Baathist resisters: They "are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day."
If nothing else, this should make for some fine entertainment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

 

Katrina: The Real Disaster

This post by the editor of the Intellectual Activist exposes some uncomfortable truths about the spectacle of the Katrina disaster.

Here are a couple of illustrative quotes to get your dander up:

There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit—but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals—and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep—on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.

...
What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. And they don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.


Read the whole damn thing.

 

Iraq II

Ralph Peters says we're winning in Iraq:
And the Western media continues to insist that Iraq will fail. Although the noise level dropped in Katrina's wake, we're being warned that Iraq's Sunni Arabs, registering in large numbers, are going to vote against the draft constitution.

Wait a minute — isn't that what democracy's about? A few months ago, the media's complaint was that the Sunni Arabs wouldn't participate in elections. Well, they intend to participate this time. And if they vote down the draft constitution, maybe Iraq will disintegrate. But there's also a good chance that the Sunni Arabs will see that democracy works and join the political battle, instead of battling with bombs.

We must stop being impatient with the Iraqis and insisting that their every effort is doomed. Despite great difficulties, the Iraqis continue to move their country forward. Not one of the 'expert' claims that Iraq would fail has yet come true.

So what's happening in Iraq while recovery efforts from Katrina also defy the doomsayers? A combined U.S.-Iraqi force cleaned out the terrorist base at Tal Afar with remarkably low losses. Sunni-Arab 'rejectionists' are preparing to join other Iraqis at the polls. International terrorists have become hated in Iraq. The number of tip-offs we receive has soared. And the country just plain refuses to fall apart.

At this rate, the media may have to send the mayor of New Orleans to Iraq. Just to foul things up and make some headlines.
UPDATE: The Tradesports market now puts the odds for the ratification of Iraq's constitution at 3 to 1.

Monday, September 12, 2005

 

Vote For Pedro MARTY!

I haven't watched too many reality TV shows (I caught the last half of Gene Simmon' s Rock School and thought it entertaining) but I have been following the CBS show Rock Star INXS.

INXS has been holding a competition for their new singer and my friend Pat's cousin, Marty Casey has now made the final four. You can vote here on Tuesday but voting is only open for a four hour time period following (not during) the shows broadcast which runs from 9-10pm Central Time (Wednesday 2-3:00 GMT).

I've never met Marty but I've seen his former band, the Lovehammers play a few times and liked them. Weather you would like to see a friend's relative, (or a friend of a friend's relative!) succeed or promote local (Chicago) talent or just root for the good guy with both talent and personality in the entertainment field, please take the time to VOTE FOR MARTY! on Tuesday.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

 

Iraq

Very quietly, things are going reasonably well for the US of late. The political process seems to be working. Sunnis are participating, registering in large numbers to vote in the October 15 constitutional referendum. The current Tradesports market places the odds of electoral approval at 2 to 1 in favor. Also, terror attacks have diminished significantly. (As has media interest in Iraq. Even accounting for Hurricane Katrina, this is no coincidence.) Strategy Page (from September 8) reports:
Terrorists are spending more of their time running, and less time planting roadside bombs or attacking Iraqi police and government officials. In the last two weeks, attacks are down by about half. Some believe that the terrorists are massing their strength to try and disrupt next months voting. But on the ground, there are more and more towns are patrolled by Iraqi police, or pro-government tribal militia, and not al Qaeda or Sunni Arab terrorists. It's becoming more and more difficult for the terrorists to hold ground, much less build and use roadside or car bombs. The objective here is to turn central Iraq into an area where the terrorists are constantly on the run, and eventually run right into the ground and out of business.
In a superb series of posts, Bill Roggio has been covering the ongoing US/Iraqi Anbar campaign, outlining US strategy and placing individual operations into proper context. In the recent Tal Afar operation, Iraqi forces, for the first time, have taken the lead. Wretchard comments:
The insurgency is now in a position where it must choose between staying away from the Iraqi constitutional process, in the hopes that Syrian, Jihadi and international Leftist support will enable it to prevail against the new government; or concede its cause is lost and join the Iraqi government. Considering the physical oil deposits and seaports of Iraq are in areas the insurgency does not control, the largely Sunni insurgents face a declining power-curve relative to the Shi'ites and Kurds. Is it better to strike a deal now, while they have some leverage left or continue on with dwindling resources against increasingly powerful foes? Can the insurgency wait until the United States withdraws completely from Iraq?
In an update to his post, Wretchard refers to the Iraqi insurgency in the past tense:
The enemy has not been without successes, proving tactically adaptable and ruthless. Yet at heart his strategy was static: it was to inflict a low but continuous rate of casualty on US forces and broadcast that fact to the world. The enemy center of gravity was the US electorate. They attached video and camera crews to their striking units in the same way that US forces attached supporting weapons to theirs, creating the first combined media-military arms in history. Using these new type of formations they relentlessly projected the message, 'we are in charge'. And people believed them.

Those two competing strategies met each other head-on in Iraq. The US strategy was far superior in the conventional sense. The enemy strategy was arguably the more creative and daring; with a far larger "information" dimension than the American. Each approach had its strengths and weaknesses. The American approach emphasized changing reality and letting perception follow. It played to American strengths: logistics, training, advanced weapons, tactical speed. The enemy approach was to manage perception, both among its own base and in the field of public opinion, while striving to inflict as much damage as it could on US forces. Although it was America that first used the term, it was the insurgents who truly perfected the process of "shock and awe": the mind-altering application of battlefield force. But shock and awe are evanescent while dying tended to be permanent. My own guess is that the issue is no longer in the balance. While some combination of political or military blunders could still save the insurgency the fundamentals are against them.

In retrospect, the insurgency's greatest failing was its inability to create a "national united front" against United States "occupation". To the end it remained a sectarian movement; and the narrowness of this focus was probably the price of its alliance with Syrian intelligence and Al Qaeda, whose tent was never large enough to admit the Shia or the Kurds. The moment of greatest danger to OIF probably came in April of 2004, when the towns west of Baghdad -- Falluja in particular -- erupted along with Moqtada Al Sadr's Mahdi Army in the south. Then, if ever, was the time to realize a "national united front".
It seems premature to declare the insurgency history. But Wretchard's prognostication record in this area is pretty good. Let's hope he's right again.

 

September 11

There's nothing tragic about this


Mark Stein reminds us that there is nothing tragic about what happened 4 years ago today:
Sept. 11, 2005 -- the fourth anniversary of the start of the war. That is, if you believe it's a ''war'' A lot of people didn't want to, even in those first days.

About a week after, one of my local radio stations held a fund-raiser and this is how their trailer for it opened. Cue the terminal-illness-movie-of-the-week soupy piano. Then:

''After the tragic events of Sept. 11 . . .''

And, by the time I'd heard it half-a-dozen times, I retuned the dial and never listened to the station again.

It wasn't a 'tragic event' or even one of a series of unfortunate events. It was an 'attack,' an 'act of war.' I sat at the lunch counter with a guy who'd tuned out the same station on the grounds that 'I never heard my grampa talk about 'the tragedy of Pearl Harbor.' ' But, consciously or otherwise, a serious effort was under way to transform the nature of the event, to soften it into a touchy-feely, huggy-weepy one-off. As I wrote last year: 'The president believes there's a war on. The Dems think 9/11 is like the 1998 ice storm or a Florida hurricane -- just one of those things.'
Sad, but true.

But I must quibble with Stein about this: Today isn't the fourth anniversary of the start of the war. Lest we forget, al Qaeda's first attack on the World Trade Center occured February 26, 1993. The real tragedy is that for 8 years we had a feckless President who, despite repeated al Qaeda attacks, refused to fight back.

Friday, September 09, 2005

 

Berger Fined

Former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger has been fined:
"Former National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger was fined $50,000 by a federal judge yesterday for illegally taking classified documents out of the National Archives by stuffing them in his pants.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson, in ordering the fine, ignored a recommendation by government lawyers that Mr. Berger -- the Clinton administration's most senior national security official -- pay a $10,000 fine as part of a plea agreement reached in April.

'The court finds the fine is inadequate because it doesn't reflect the seriousness of the offense,' Judge Robinson said in handing down the sentence. She also ordered Mr. Berger to surrender his access to classified government materials for three years, perform 100 hours of community service and serve two years' probation.
A fine of $50k doesn't reflect the seriousness of the offense either. Even a year in jail and a $100k fine, the maximum possible penalty, wouldn't sufficiently reflect the seriousness of the offense.

Too bad Berger won't be required to answer some questions under oath during the upcoming Able Danger hearings.

Related posts here and here.

 

Crescent of Embrace

Embrace of what?

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Four years after United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a reclaimed strip mine near Shanksville, Somerset County, on Sept. 11, 2001, the design that will serve as the national memorial was unveiled here yesterday in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hall of Flags.

"Crescent of Embrace" will feature a Tower of Voices, containing 40 wind chimes -- one for each passenger and crew member who died -- and two stands of red maple trees that will line a walkway caressing the natural bowl shape of the land. Forty separate groves of red and sugar maples will be planted behind the crescent, and a black slate wall will mark the edge of the crash site, where the remains of those who died now rest.

(Via lgf)
Here's an image of the winning design:



Absolutely outrageous. Zombie breaks it down.

How could anyone even conceive of crafting a memorial to victims of Islamic terror dominated by a giant red Islamic crescent, much less actually propose such a thing? Unless, of course, the desired result is to commemorate just the terrorists. What, exactly, is it the designer is trying to communicate? It is unbelievable that something like this was even submitted, let alone that it was selected. What were those judges thinking?

Please let the National Park Service and the winning designer, Paul Murdoch, know what you think.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

 

Why Not Call Them Refugees?

The first refuge of a (Leftist) scoundrel

John Kass notices (registation required - see BugMeNot) that Jesse Jackson and President Bush have found common ground:
The images that bother folks are the images of chaos and barbarism, of looting and mob action, of anger and reports of rape, shootings. African Americans worry that whites will seize on such images to reanimate long-held prejudice.

And many whites, who don't consider themselves prejudiced, have quietly begun reconsidering the urban poor and are quietly afraid.

The problem wasn't those folks looting grocery stores for food or water. It was those looting electronic stores for TVs they couldn't operate because there was no electricity to run them. They're looters. Most were black, because New Orleans is predominantly black.

Politicians understand that people who see that on TV lose sympathy for the refugees. Viewed as threats, they aren't attractive to taxpayers asked to fund what are commonly called social programs.

One way for Jackson to address these negative--albeit accurate--images is to re-establish the pecking order of guilt, by throwing the charge of racism against those who bring the pictures, ideas, words to the rest of America.

So now, if you apply the word 'refugee' to black people, you're racist, and white people--particularly moderate, middle-class Americans who constitute the breadbasket of the tax base--are frightened to death of being accused of racism.

Bush, meanwhile, doesn't need pictures of the dead of New Orleans seeding emotional ground already plowed by his opponents: that he's not merely indifferent to the plight of the poor, but that he would be rid of them.

So he tries to limit the pictures, and Jackson tries to limit the words.

Such manipulations matter to politicians. But they don't matter much to the refugees, or to the dead.
But such manipulations have implications for society as a whole. A society incapable of confronting its problems honestly is a society in denial. Along with their sympathizers in the media, Leftists and race baiters deserve the lion's share of the blame for this. But leaders and politicians of all stripes who allow such distortions to go unchallenged or who are too cowardly to speak out against such tactics are complicit. Those taking refuge from Katrina's aftermath are what they are; race mongers like Jackson are what they are. Its time, as the saying goes, to call a spade a spade.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

 

Spicoli takes a boat ride



I guess he thought Brooke Shields was in New Orleans

Sean Penn's attempt to try and make search in rescue look easy and, let's face it, make President Bush look foolish (Why else bring along your personal photographer?) ended comically. Pinhead. Clown. Asshat. I'll take Charlton Heston any day of the week.

(Fill in your own personal Fast Times at Ridgemont High reference)

 

August in Moscow

Autumn arrived promptly in the middle of the month. One thing you can say about summertime in Moscow, it is mild. Inna and I leave for Uralsk, Kazakhstan tonight for her best friend Feta's wedding. Before we go here is a short roundup of goings on over this past month.










The month began with the 22nd birthday party of Genya. She and her husband Mikhail are good friends who live in Moscow and are originally from Uralsk. The first picture is Genya and Inna in Genya's apartment. The second picture is Mikhail and Inna watching over Kalbasa (SP?) during Genya's birthday picnic along a man-made lake in Moscow.







On August 11th, a little after 3 a.m. there was a loud boom outside our window waking up both of us. Normally I would assume this was just someone lighting fireworks. A not uncommon occurrence. However, this time my wife noticed flames so we got up and saw a Toyota Rav 4 burning about 30 feet from our window. We watched from a safe distance as the car burned. The fire department showed up fifteen minutes later and put the car out before its gastank exploded. My wife thinks it was deliberate and that jealousy was the motivation. She heard the owner of the car show up at about four in the morning crying over the loss of her car. As you may discern, my wife does not have a very high opinion of the motives of her fellow Russians.


The next weekend I got a call from a friend who I hadn't seen in many months, Kyle. I meet Kyle in Moscow, he had a business here renting apartments to American businessmen. The city of Moscow stupidly decided to tear down a number of large hotels without replacing them so the city has a chronic shortage of hotel space. Kyle lived in California and travelled to Moscow on occasion, he had a girl named Sveta running this side of the business and he handled booking and schedules. Kyle's wife decided she wanted a divorce so he sold his business and moved back to California but his wife wanted him to go through a lot of counselling. Being from Texas, Kyle did not put much stock in navel gazing so he went through with the divorce. As you can see from this picture he is doing ok. That is Anna, his 19 year old girlfriend. My wife said she felt old at 22. I assured her I am not going to trade her in any time soon. Oh yeah, Kyle is 56. ;-)


The following week our friends Travis and Uliya asked us to meet them at Doug and Marty's Boarhouse. A favorite expat hangout in Moscow. It was Thursday night so it wasn't extremely crowded. Travis spent his time between the roulette wheel and the blackjack table. I lost $100 playing blackjack and sat with my wife and Uliya between their trips to the dance floor.








The last picture is a cow. Anyone from Chicago might recognize this cow from a few summers ago when cows sprouted up all over Chicago each painted with different artwork. I am fairly certain that is the same style of cow that was in Chicago. Can anyone confirm?

I am off to Kazahkstan and I promise plenty of pictures of the wedding. We will be back the 24th or 25th of September. Happy 1st blogoversary!

Monday, September 05, 2005

 

Property Ladder

I just noticed this new show on The Learning Channel. Here is the description of a particular episode:

"Father-Son Flip Fiasco"
This is Anthony's first flip, and he is concerned about making a profit.


I say a show like this is the equivalent of the daytrading fad.

 

Oil Shale bonanza

According to the Rocky Mountain News, Shell has worked out an 'ingenious' method of removing oil from rock. There are potentially a trillion barrels of oil in shale in the state of Colorado.

Drill shafts into the oil-bearing rock. Drop heaters down the shaft. Cook the rock until the hydrocarbons boil off, the lightest and most desirable first. Collect them.

Please note, you don't have to go looking for oil fields when you're brewing your own.

On one small test plot about 20 feet by 35 feet, on land Shell owns, they started heating the rock in early 2004. "Product" - about one-third natural gas, two-thirds light crude - began to appear in September 2004. They turned the heaters off about a month ago, after harvesting about 1,500 barrels of oil.

While we were trying to do the math, O'Connor told us the answers. Upwards of a million barrels an acre, a billion barrels a square mile. And the oil shale formation in the Green River Basin, most of which is in Colorado, covers more than a thousand square miles - the largest fossil fuel deposits in the world.


A trillion barrels would supply the U.S., at 25 million barrels a day, with enough oil for 109 years. I wonder if Shell is buying a lot of long-term out of the money light sweet crude oil puts?


Saturday, September 03, 2005

 

Some Thoughts on Katrina and its Aftermath

-Watching Fox and CNN gives completely different perspectives. (Natch) I watched Soledad O'Brien dress down the head of FEMA, Michael Brown. It was a rant. By the end, I thought she was possessed by Kayne West. Shep Smith had his own moment of on-air anger frustrated with the speed of the relief efforts.

-New Orleans as metaphor for Iraq. I think most people have the same frustration with the Bush administration'ss light touch and inability to communicate their message. I know I wanted to see lawlessness stopped but I didn't want anyone shot for trying to get food and water or even clothes for that matter. I would have loved to have seen the preparations that were being made and the progress relief aid and National Guardsmen were making to the disaster area. I think it greatly helps someone's state of mind to know when they can expect relief. However, I don't want to hinder the process of relief by putting reporters in the mix. Nor do I think we need to scrutinize the efforts of FEMA down to the individual level when they are preparing a response.

-We are starting to hear about all the steps that could have been taken to prevent all those people being trapped in New Orleans. Could the Mayor and Governor done more, yes. So why was Mayor Nagin on radio swearing like a sailor? Hmmmm, guilt?

-I watched Real Time with Bill Maher this week. His panel was Michael Eric Dyson, Bradley Whitford and Mary Francis Berry. Maher started the discussion by pointing out that there was no one on the panel with a conservative perspective but that was alright because he was so angry with the Bush administration because of the mishandling of the disaster relief. Then the most vile Bush bashing I have heard in a while began. I thought I was watching a thread from Democratic Underground being read aloud. Berry was compelled at one point to say the local authorities held some responsibility for what happened. You know things are getting a little loony when Mary Francis Berry is the voice of conservatism. Maher thinks that the mishandling of the relief efforts will be Bush's Waterloo. I think he will come out of this looking pretty good. (See below)

-Former Congressman from Louisianna, Bob Livingston was just on Fox saying that New Orleans would be rebuilt. The more I thing about it the more I am sure that it will never be the same city and that it good. I heard Mayor Nagin talking about the big drug problem within New Orleans. He said that the situation on the ground is extremely dangerous because the addicts were running around trying to get a fix. They were breaking into drug stores looking for something to take the edge off.

-Livingston said that we would rebuild Miami or any other other city after a disaster. I can't help but think New Orleans is incredibly vulnerable to a terrorist attack. A few well placed bombs and you could take out the city, again. I am sure that New Orleans will be drained and that the French Quarter, Superdome and business areas will be functional but vast areas of poor residential homes will be abandoned and eventually bulldozed.

-After more thought I am sure it is in Bush's character not to want to brag or criticize others in a crisis. That is why we don't see a Republican Begala or Carville running out to a talkshow to assassinate the character of Mayor Nagin. There are Republicans who look into Nagin's culpability but it is a more decentrallized effort. Like Buckhead who broke the fake but real Bush National Guard papers. I think this is why Bush's opponents keep getting bushwhacked. Those with Bush Derangement Syndrome run with any potential scandal or misstep by the President without first scrutinizing the truth of the charges. Bush or his surrogates do not respond and this encourages the critics to take it further. From the 2000 election to the looted museum to the Plame affair to the missing WMDs, the left assumes the worst and cries foul and usually looks foolish. Bush keeps his mouth shut (and a tight rein on leaks) and he comes out looking like his opponents are nuts. So I can hardly blame him for keeping his mouth shut when it comes to the current round of charges. Still, there is a price to this policy. I know Bush's supporters get frustrated by this lack of concern for public relations. Also, I can't help but think the left is getting more shrill because of their lack of success. Some thoughtful members of the left have said that they must change their rhetoric. However, the usually response has been exactly what Bill Maher's panel said. In a nutshell, it is time for the Democrats to grow a pair.

-If anybody knows where I can find the Kanye West rant video, let me know. I have only seen clips and I especially want to see the part where West says that Bush does not care about black people. The look on Michael Myer's face is of total shock.

DIEGO:

the federal plan advises state and local emergency managers not to expect federal aid for 72 to 96 hours, and base their own preparedness efforts on the need to be self-sufficient for at least that period. (Wash Post via Instapundit)

Louisiana disaster plan, pg 13, para 5 , dated 01/00: 'The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating'... ( from Drudge, see photo of some of the 255+ unused buses here - no one has yet claimed they were inoperable).

From NOLA: Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding.

Bush needs to carefully defend himself on this issue. Some Democrats and the MSM will try to damage him politically. He should not resort to finger pointing but he cannot allow the current rhetoric being spewed forth to go unchallenged. Let the people of NO say whatever they like, they are suffering and will say things in frustration that are understandable given their situation. But politicians and the like should not be allowed to rant without consequence.
(all emphasis mine)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

 

Those Bastards, They Killed Kenny!

Well, the Ken Griffey Jr. trade, anyway...

With the Sox weathering out a 12-16 August as the trade deadline approached yesterday, the buzz was that Kenny Williams was back on the track of Cincinatti slugger Ken Griffey Junior. Williams, a man not afraid to pull the trigger on big deals, spent the entire day on the phone trying to get some help for the Sox' anemic offense according to ESPN.

When the dust cleared, yesterday's big news was that Ross Gload had been recalled up to the big league club. I'm sure THAT announcement put fear into the hearts of other clubs readying themselves for the upcoming pennant drive and play-offs.

What happened Kenny???

And what about you guys - any predictions on how the last month of the season will shape up? Will it be a repeat of the dominance of May & June with Podsednik back, or is it more sub-.500 ball and a first-round exit now that the aces' arms have tired out?

DIEGO:

From what I've read on CBS and ESPN sports sites over the last month the GM's agreed to the deal for Jr. but Reds "higher ups" (owner/president?) wouldn't allow it because the Reds were going to pay too much of Jr's salary. Kenny then upped the Sox share of salary responsibility but the Reds still refused.

In my opinion the Sox do not need Griffey. They sure could use him and I was in favor of the trade for him because he would help the offense but if the defense and offensive execution do not improve then I don't think the Sox will win in the playoffs. Griffey would have made this team better but I don't think his bat would have been enough to overcome some of the mistakes I've seen them make lately.

Get'em on, get'em over, get'em in. The Sox seem to be getting runners on base but they are not getting them over and in. The defense seems to have given away a few runs too many as well. Those are the areas they need to address if they want to win.

 

Russian Orphan Scam

My wife and I were watching a Russian crime show tonight. Actually, I was watching as she translated. According to this show the employees of the orphanage, a psychiatric hospital and the police worked together to commit orphans and steal apartments that are giving to the orphans when they reach their eighteenth birthday. Doctors of psychiatry would visit the orphange and routinely report that orphans were mentally ill. They would give the children impossible tests and when they failed they would be marked. This was especially true if they knew that the child's mother abused alcohol or drugs. At times, to control the children, they are given Demerol to keep them passive.

Children as young as 5 years old were sent to mental hospitals. Electro-shock therapy is a treatment. One girl had over twice the recommended voltage (460v) used during a session which left her permanently damaged. The government gives the orphans an apartment to live in and a stipend when they turn eighteen. When the orphans are committed this is split among the people that conspire to keep these poor people away from the small amount that Russian society gives them.

It is common for foreign couples to come to Russia to adopt children. The Delta airlines flight between N.Y. and Moscow is known as the baby flight. I took it once. Once. I can report many children were on this flight and I am sure that it was the first time that any of them had been aboard an airplane. For a Russian couple who wants to adopt a child, there is no charge. In fact the adopting parents are paid a small amount by the government. But really it is a labor of love. As you might have guessed an American couple would be expected to pay more. What you wouldn't realize is that the government is not charging them for the children, it is the people working at the orphange. They make a great deal of money selling these children to Americans.

There is no word low enough to describe people who would abuse orphans for any reason. I would say that any Americans who come to Russia to adopt remember that it is a negotiation but it is most important that you are taking that child away from a life of misery. Give them as little money as possible but get that child out of here.

Update:

After talking with my wife about the life of a Russian orphan I learned that these people are treated like second class citizens. There are many children living on the streets of Moscow who chose to live there because the conditions of the orphanages are so poor.

U.S. Embassy in Moscow's International adoption page

The Irma Pavlis case and a lot of information about the way that bribes corrupt the Russian adoption system and hurt Russian orphans:

It’s easy to picture an average dealer in this illegal industry: loving children and wishing them well, having access to local court and educational bodies, or most likely working there; having orphanage directors as friends; perfectly sure what he is doing is a good deed. What’s more, he — although more often it’s a she, a business-like middle-aged woman with a pedagogical degree and work experience — is a criminal and knows that what she is doing is actually human trafficking. And if somebody asks the dealer to assist some quiet Americans from Chicago, the dealer is not going to be too scrupulous about papers and certificates. These Americans couldn’t possibly buy children to beat them, not for such huge sums. And you can’t get so much money from Russians.

6,000 adopted Russian children in the United States and another 3,000-4,000 worldwide is a market with a minimum turnover of $100 million a year. Much of this money goes to Russian children traders.

It’s the fault of the abovementioned middle-aged ladies that Russian nationals have to wait for ages before they can adopt an orphaned child, although the priority of Russian foster parents is stated not only in the Hague Convention, but in a dozen other documents. And these ladies are to blame also that stories similar to little Alexei Pavlis’s will be repeated, unless the current “market” situation changes.

 

LinkJacking

New Meme Time

From this moment on may the practice of asking others to go through your blog to anothers for whatever reason be known as linkjacking. And that Instapundit is the first victim of deliberate linkjacking.

So, if you have a blog, you have a decision to make: To keep InstaPundit or to dump InstaPundit?

Well, I've to the answer: DO BOTH!!

How, you ask? Link to InstaPundit through this little blog! I mean, even if you don't like what Glenn Reynolds said, there's a chance you'll still read or refer to his blog as a source of information or a lead/source of tips. And, you might want to refer to a post of his.

But if you've decided you want to "de-link" InstaPundit, you can still refer to him without giving him the links. Give them to me instead! Remember this post?

Here's how you'd link to InstaPundit: http://www.basilsblog.net/?url=http://www.itsapundit.com/

Here's how you'd link to his "ACLU does good work" post: http://www.basilsblog.net/?url=http://itsapundit.com/archives/025206.php

So, to link to InstaPundit or a post on his site, preface it with http://www.basilsblog.net?url=

After that part, put what you would normally put for the link.


They say parody is the sincerest form of flattery. Or they don't. Gotta admit this is pretty funny, though.


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