Thursday, February 28, 2008

Today's events

Today at the Hartford Marriott - the Anheuser-Busch deep dive.

Heh. Or should I say 'hic'.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

'Murderous dictators: cool, huh?'

A column in the Times of London by Daniel Finkelstein takes a look at the infatuation the left has with communist leaders like Fidel Castro. A few choice money quotes:
Yet still the [Harriet Harman,] Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, the Leader of the House of Commons, a member of the Cabinet, is in love with Fidel. When asked, earlier this week, in an interview: “Fidel Castro - authoritarian dictator or hero of the Left?” she answered unhesitatingly - “hero of the Left”.

[ ... ]

Let's eliminate from our inquiries the idea that Fidel was somehow better than the rest of them, better than Honecker and so forth. Those cigars, those battle fatigues, that beard. Kinda cool, no? No. Death sentences for those who want to flee, prison sentences for dissidents, gags for the press, jail for homosexuals, ruinous central planning for the economy, his support for a nuclear first strike against America, his opposition to any kind of reform, his four-hour long speeches, his personality cult. Fidel Castro was just like the rest of them.

[ ... ]

Go to Tate Modern and you will find an exhibition of Soviet art - workers joyfully producing tractors or some such. In the bookshop you can buy a book of posters from the cultural revolution. Hitler memorabilia is not on sale. They wouldn't dream of having a room full of artfully designed Juden Raus! posters.

I struggle a little to understand the distinction being made here, but I think it is this. It's not that the liberals are unaware that millions died under Mao and under Stalin. It's just that they think it was different. Hitler had a killing machine; under Mao (“the greatest man of the 20th century”, according to Tony Benn) and Stalin many people just up and died.

[ ... ]

Which leaves me with one final reason for the Left's attitude to communism - that anyone who defies the United States is somehow seen as a valiant progressive, whatever their crimes. I am sure that Castro's resistance to the US is a major reason for Harriet Harman's admiration.

From time to time, Left thinkers make an effort to reconcile liberals and America. From Tony Crosland in the Fifties to Jonathan Freedland's admirable and convincing book Bring Home the Revolution, the efforts have failed. Almost anyone - a homophobic, misogynist Islamist cleric for example - is given some credit if the US is their punchbag.
It's worth noting that this anti-US sentiment isn't restricted to George Bush's America. The far left doesn't just despise America under the Bush administration...they despise American ideals.

Medieval customs v. common sense

When Muslims in Britain and elsewhere seek special accommodations for their religious beliefs, it's usually something silly and innocuous that can be chuckled at, but easily agreed to. Sure, go ahead and put little arrows on the ceiling pointing to Mecca. This latest from the Daily Mail, though, shows just how fundamentally incompatible Islamic practices often are with modern-day necessities. Note that I don't say incompatible with "western values" in this case. We're talking universal standards. Or what should be universal standards, anyway.

Muslim medical practitioners and students in Britain are objecting to a mandate for bare arms below the elbow on the grounds that it's 'immodest'. The mandate is obviously necessary for proper scrubbing and to prevent the spread of infection while treating patients.
Health officials are having crisis talks with Muslim medical staff who have objected to hospital hygiene rules because of religious beliefs.

Medics in hospitals in at least three major English cities have refused to follow the regulations aimed at helping tackle superbugs because of their faith, it has been revealed.

Women medical students at Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool objected to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands and removing arm coverings in theatre, claiming it is regarded as immodest.

Similar concerns were raised at Leicester University and Sheffield University reported a case of a Muslim medic refusing to "scrub" because it left her forearms exposed.

[ ... ]

Dr Charles Tannock, a Conservative MEP and former hospital consultant, said: "These students are being trained using taxpayers' money and they have a duty of care to their patients not to put their health at risk.

"Perhaps these women should not be choosing medicine as a career if they feel unable to abide by the guidelines everyone else has to follow."

But the Islamic Medical Association insisted that covering all the body in public, except the face and hands, was a basic tenet of Islam.

It said: "No practising Muslim woman - doctor, medical student, nurse or patient - should be forced to bare her arms below the elbow."
Can't lift more than 50 pounds? Don't pursue a career in warehouse work. Can't bare your arms? Don't pursue a career in medicine.

At what point does one stand up and say enough is enough?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Demoted for defending Israel

A government worker in Sweden was demoted from his position as head of a migration board for running a blog in which he voiced support for Israel.
A Swedish Migration Board employee with 20 years' experience is charging that he was demoted due to his pro-Israel political views.

[ ... ]

In his spare time he also operates a personal blog in which he expresses his support of democratic freedoms and espouses support for the cause of Israel in particular.

“I want to defend freedom and democracy. I try to be humble and just. Therefore I must—as every good democrat must—defend Israel,” reads a passage describing the content of Eriksson’s blog, Sapere aude!.

[ ... ]

He claims that when his new supervisor, Eugene Palmer, learned of his blog, he decided to do what he could to force Eriksson out of the agency.

[ ... ]

Palmer, who assumed responsibilities as head of of the Migration Board's Division for Asylum Examination last summer, recalls being notified of the blog’s controversial contents by other employees at the Migration Board just prior to Eriksson’s return in August.

He says he was not alone in his questioning whether it was appropriate for someone with Eriksson’s position at the Board to publicly express opinions about such a sensitive topic.

Iranian citizens starting to get testy

Over this past weekend, Iranian citizens came to the defense of a woman being arrested by the "modesty police" for not dressing modestly enough. When police reinforcements arrived, a full-fledged riot ensued, and the police backed down after making some token arrests.
Instead of meekly submitting to her fate, the woman fought back. A young man - it is unclear whether he was accompanying her - came to her defense and joined her in fighting the police. In an attempt to subdue – and humiliate him - the police grabbed the young man and threw him into the garbage can nearby.

That was when the large crowd, predominately made up of young people, rose up against the police and attempted to liberate the young woman themselves.

Faced with a full-blown riot - complete with angry crowds with garbage cans being set on fire - the frightened police jumped into the van and fled the scene, except for one unfortunate officer who was left behind. The policeman was reportedly attacked and beaten by the mob.

The police returned, reinforced by a full-fledged anti-riot unit. To gain control of the situation, members of the unit fired warning shots into the air and threatened to fire directly into the crowd. There were reports of between 10-15 arrests.
The cell phone video is very low quality, and isn't helped much by the fact that the camera is held at a 90 degree angle much of the time, but it gives an idea of the scope of the resistance.

Change we can believe in

I caught this one over at The Last of the Few this morning, and thought I'd pass it on. Pretty descriptive of the media's infatuation with Barack Obama, don't you think?

Yuppies brace for three hours of living hell

All Starbucks shops across the US will close for three hours today at 5:30PM for barista training.
Starbucks is closing the doors at its 7,100 stores across America for a brief barista re-education.

CEO Howard Schultz announced the 3-hour closure starting at 5:30 p.m. local time Tuesday to energize 135,000 employees.

He wants baristas to share their passion for making espresso, or as he says, "to pull the perfect shot, steam milk to order and customize their favorite beverage."
That's the official line. But what are they really up to? Could this be a case where an article that appeared in The Onion seven years ago was oddly prescient?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Left-wing novelists are making me crazy

I've posted before about author Stuart Woods, whose novels I've always enjoyed but have lately been turning me off with not-so-subtle lefty preaching in his Stone Barrington series. It seems the political polarization in this country has gotten to the point that authors can't resist evangelizing their political beliefs.

In John Grisham's latest, The Appeal, the hero and heroine are a small town legal team driven to the brink of bankruptcy in pursuit of a lawsuit against an evil big corporation whose evil CEO is perverting justice by hiring a murky "consultant" to place a favorable candidate on the state supreme court where the case will be appealed. I should note here that the CEO and the corporation as described in the book are evil. But Grisham would have us believe that all corporations and chief executives would be just as evil if they could get away with it.

The candidate, a "good" conservative who's unaware of the string-pulling going on in the background to get him elected, has the following thoughts while being probed by the puppeteers on his political beliefs:
Abortion? Opposed. All abortions? Opposed.
Death penalty? Very much in favor.
No one seemed to grasp the contradiction between the two.
This simple-minded pro-abortion argument is put forth by Grisham as if executing murderers and killing unborn babies are one and the same.

Hey, Grisham...of what crimes have unborn fetuses been convicted? Wanker.

Ralph Nader dashes Democrats' hopes again

The presidential hopes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton suffered a crushing blow today when Ralph Nader announced his candidacy for President of the United States.
Ralph Nader is launching a third-party campaign for president. The consumer advocate made the announcement Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." He says most Americans are disenchanted with the Democratic and Republican parties, and that none of the presidential contenders are addressing ways to stem corporate crime and Pentagon waste and promote labor rights.

Nader also ran as a third-party candidate in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. He is still loathed by many Democrats who call him a spoiler and claim his candidacy in 2000 cost the party the election by siphoning votes away from Al Gore in a razor-thin contest in Florida.
I think someone forgot their talking points. Didn't Chimpy Bushitlermchalliburton steal the election in 2000?

In any event, this is good only for John McCain. The envirowhackos won't be able to help themselves and will cast their votes for Nader, although if Obama is the nominee, maybe not in such large numbers as would certainly be the case if Clinton is nominated.

Editorial cartoon of the day

Saw this Clay Jones cartoon in this morning's Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star and I thought it captured the NYT-McCain non-scandal perfectly.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Entomophobia watch

The president of Turkmenistan was so horrified by the sight of a cockroach scampering across the desk of the evening news program that he fired 30 employees at the state-run television station.
Thirty workers at a Turkmenistan television network have been sacked after a cockroach was seen scuttling across the newsreader's desk during a live broadcast, it has been reported.

The large brown insect crawled a full lap of the newsdesk on the 9pm news programme, Vatan, before the blooper was aired again on the 11pm edition.

The national station was bombarded with calls from disgusted viewers, who said the cockroach's guest appearance had put them off their dinner.

But the mishap was to have more far-reaching consequences than the odd uneaten meal.

Officials from Turkmenistan's ministry of culture discovered the insect's guest appearance the following morning, and swiftly informed the country's president, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedo.

He was so horrified that he fired 30 workers from the station, the Guardian reports.
Decisive action.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Times of London: Is America ready for 'dangerous left-winger' Obama?

Amazing that it takes a British columnist to ask the question that, so far at least, American columnists have largely failed to ask.
...surely even critics of the US could scarcely deny that there have been real causes for American pride in the past 25 years: the fall of the Berlin Wall; the victory in the first Gulf War in 1991; the nation's unity in grief and resolve after September 11. Heck, I suspect most Americans got a small buzz of patriotic pride this week when they heard that one of their multimillion-dollar missiles had shot a dead but dangerous satellite travelling at 17,000 miles per hour out of the sky so that it fell harmlessly to Earth.

But not, apparently, Michelle Obama, wife of the man who is now the putative Democratic candidate for US president, and at this point favourite to succeed to that job. In what might be the most revealing statement made by any political figure so far in this campaign season, Mrs Obama caused a stir this week. She said that the success of her husband Barack's campaign had marked the first time in her adult life that she had felt pride in her country.

[ ... ] reveals much about what the Obama family really thinks about the kind of nation that America is. Mrs Obama is surely not alone in thinking not very much about what America has been or done in the past quarter century or more. In fact, it is a trope of the left wing of the Democratic party that America has been a pretty wretched sort of place.

There is a caste of left-wing Americans who wish essentially and in all honesty that their country was much more like France. They wish it had much higher levels of taxation and government intervention, that it had much higher levels of welfare, that it did not have such a “militaristic” approach to foreign policy. Above all, that its national goals were dictated, not by the dreadful halfwits who inhabit godforsaken places like Kansas and Mississippi, but by the counsels of the United Nations.

[ ... ]

He plans large increases in government spending on health and education. He wants to tax the rich more to pay for it. He is against companies using the opportunities of free markets to restructure their operations in the US. He is vehemently protectionist. He continues to insist, despite the growing evidence that this left-wing nostrum would be lunacy, that the US must pull its troops out of Iraq with the utmost dispatch.

[ ... ]

That a new era in American politics is beginning is not in doubt. But are Americans really ready to leap all the way across in one go to embrace a European-style Left?
An excellent question, indeed.

Saudi life laid bare

Once again, we take a peek at Arab News, the official English-language news from Saudi Arabia, for a look at life in the freakishly xenophobic Wahhabist kingdom.

In this installment of "Saudi life laid bare" we find a column on domestic violence.
A Saudi nurse held the hand of a 10-year-old boy and took him aside to whisper in his ear: “Aren’t you the man of the house? Don’t you feel protective of your sister?” The little boy answered, “Yes.” So she said to him, “Why don’t you advise her? You are responsible for her.”
The sister's age? 18.
This incident happened when an 18-year-old girl, with her head uncovered, came to the clinic ahead of her mother and younger brother. Her red hair said much about her rebellious character and her mother appeared weak and helpless.

Silly outrage watch

Some Muslims in Britain are in a purple fury over crisps (potato chips and the like) that may contain trace amounts of alcohol.
Furious Muslims have called for a boycott of many types of Walkers crisps after it emerged that certain varieties contain trace elements of alcohol.

Some crisp types use minute amounts of alcohol as a chemical agent to extract certain flavours.

[ ... ]

However, a spokesperson for Walkers told the Times that there was nothing the firm could do about listing the traces of alcohol in some of their products.

She said: "There is not enough room on the packaging to list things beyond allergy-causing ingredients that can make people ill.

"A minimal amount of alcohol is used to extract the flavour of some crisps."
I doubt even a mass spectrometer could pick up traces of alcohol in these chips. And surely the enjoinder against alcohol in Islam was intended to keep people sober, not to fret over minute amounts of it that may come into contact with the body.

But this isn't really about the alcohol, anyway. It's about bending infidels to their will.

Another Obama whopper

Linked last night over at Hot Air, in which His Holiness appears to make up a story on the fly about an army unit in Afghanistan that had to scrounge AK-47s from dead jihadis because they didn't have enough weapons and ammo of their own.

I'm, uh, shall we say a bit skeptical about this. OK...not to put too fine a point on it, I think it's complete and utter bullshit.

Thankfully, we have a completely fair and unbiased media eager to probe deeply into statements made by all presidential candidates regardless of their political party. What's that? Oh, uh...never mind that last part.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Visualizing the effects of the surge

The maps* above and below are more or less self-explanatory. Note the differences in areas of al Qaeda in Iraq activity between December 2006 and December 2007. (Click images for larger views.) The insets at lower left show the improvements within Baghdad.

What immediately stands out, right after the greatly diminished AQI presence, are the paths leading straight to the Syrian border with Iraq.

Which begs the question: What the hell are Obama and Clinton doing having their advisers play footsie with the Syrian president?

* The maps are from a presentation by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which sourced the maps from Multi National Force-Iraq (MNF-I).

And so it begins...

As predictable as the sunrise, the New York Times and the Washington Post rolled out a hit piece on John McCain as soon as it was evident he would be the GOP presidential nominee.
The New York Times quoted anonymous aides as saying they had urged McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman to stay away from each other prior to his failed presidential campaign in 2000. In its own follow-up story, The Washington Post quoted longtime aide John Weaver, who split with McCain last year, as saying he met with lobbyist Iseman and urged her to stay away from McCain.
As Allahpundit over at Hot Air says:
A sex scandal that may not be a scandal tucked inside an ethics scandal that may not be an ethics scandal tucked inside an ethics scandal that was a genuine scandal 20 years ago, and for which McCain has begged forgiveness ever since. The Paper of Record.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Danish MP to Islamic supremacists: 'Go to hell'

You just gotta love the Danes. Consistent in their defense of western values in the face of brainless political correctness and multiculturalism, a Danish member of parliament has told the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir to go to hell.
The leftist Socialist People's party leader gives the extremist group Hizh ut-Tahrir, a piece of his mind

In an uncharacteristic move, Villy Søvndal, leader of the Socialist People's Party, responded to the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir's demonstration last Friday, by severely criticising them in his blog.

He stated in his blog that the group was to 'seek other pastures' and that their 'undertakings had no perspective, nor future, in Denmark'.

In an interview with Jyllands-Posten newspaper, he continued to lash out at the extremist group whose demonstration had delivered a direct threat towards Danish society, telling them to 'go to hell'.
Good. I don't suppose you'll ever hear that kind of talk from an American leftist socialist (read: Democrat).

Hizb ut-Tahrir's publicly stated aim is an Islamic caliphate spanning much of the globe. They insist that they're pursuing their goals peacefully through political means, but they're a less than honest group. From the link:
Hizb ut-Tahrir adopts the methodology employed by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when he established the first Islamic State in Madinah. The Prophet Muhammad limited his struggle for the establishment of the Islamic State to intellectual and political work. He established this Islamic state without resorting to violence. He worked to mobilise public opinion in favour of Islam and endeavoured to sway the political and intellectual elites of the time. Despite the persecution and boycott of the Prophet Muhammad and the early Muslims, they never resorted to violence.
Anybody with even the most superficial understanding of the history of Islam knows that's a bald-faced lie.

I wish I were in Hawaii this week

Not so much because it's cold, but because I might be lucky enough to get a view of a bus-sized satellite being blasted out of the sky by a missile.
The Pentagon may try to shoot down failing spy satellite USA 193 on Wednesday, according to amateur sky watchers.

Ted Molczan, the dean of North American satellite spotters, who keeps an eye on the heavens from his Toronto apartment's balcony, on Monday posted on a satellite-observation Web site a "Notice to Airmen" issued earlier that day by the FAA's Honolulu Control Facility.
The reason given for shooting it down is public health concerns over the satellite's hydrazine fuel, mostly unspent due to its very short career in orbit. But, as the article points out, the bigger concern is over the advanced surveillance technology carried aboard the satellite falling into the wrong hands.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Norway's intel agency warns of Islamist radicals, wants to hire them

In one article, Norway's Aftenposten today reports on a warning from Norway's intelligence and security agency, PST, that the country faces rising Islamic extremism:
Norway's state police agency in charge of national security (Politiets sikkerhets tjeneste, PST) reported Tuesday that Islamic extremism "will represent a considerable challenge" for Norway in coming years, and that it sees "indications of rising radicalism" both inside and outside the country.
And in an adjacent article, they report that PST wants to hire more Muslims:
The man who heads Norway's national security agency PST needs more knowledge of militant Islamic networks. He wants to employ more Muslims and persons with non-Norwegian background to help fight terrorism.
Taken together, it just looks kinda funny.

Castro calls it quits

This AP report on the retirement of Fidel Castro reads like an obituary. In fact, given that news agencies maintain draft obituaries for public figures which can be quickly published in the event of a notable death, I've got a hunch that the AP did just that and replaced the word "died" with "retired".

Castro's younger brother, Raoul, will assume the presidency and doesn't appear likely to make sweeping changes to Cuba's communist state, George Bush's hopes notwithstanding. But at just five years Fidel's junior, I wouldn't expect him to hold the office for very long, so who knows...maybe Cuba will see democratic reforms in our lifetimes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Of buncombe, bunkum and the Democrats' programs

Found this at a post by Mark Dunn over at XDA today...

From "The Bad Boy of Baltimore", a biography of H.L. Mencken by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers:
"By the mid-1930's, thanks to the New Deal, all that self-reliance had changed, prompting Mencken to declare: 'There is no genuine justice in any scheme of feeding and coddling the loafer whose only ponderable energies are devoted wholly to reproduction. Nine-tenths of the rights he bellows for are really privileges and he does nothing to deserve them.' Despite the billions spent on an individual, 'he can be lifted transiently but always slips back again.' Thus, the New Deal had been 'the most stupendous digenetic enterprise ever undertaken by man.... We not only acquired a vast population of morons, we have inculcated all morons, old or young, with the doctrine that the decent and industrious people of the country are bound to support them for all time. The effects of that doctrine are bound to be disastrous soon or late. 'When someone asked, "And what, Mr. Mencken, would you do about the unemployed?" He looked up with a bland expression. "We could start by taking away their vote," he said, deadpan. Mencken was not surprised when the majority disagreed. "There can be nothing even remotely approaching a rational solution of the fundamental national problems until we face them in a realistic spirit," he later reflected, and that was impossible so long as educated Americans remained responsive "to the Roosevelt buncombe."
"Buncombe", apparently, is an alternate spelling of "bunkum", according to, something of which Democrats know much, and which is defined as:
1. insincere speechmaking by a politician intended merely to please local constituents.
2. insincere talk; claptrap; humbug.

Aftenposten: US a "former" super-power

In an article on Norway's hesitance to immediately recognize Kosovo as an independent state, Norway's Aftenposten describes both the US and Russia as "former super-powers":
Russia, which long has supported Serbia, is furious over Kosovo's declaration of independence, and would have vetoed it had the issue come up before the UN Security Council. The US supports Kosovo's independence, so Norway is caught between the two former super powers.

Chinese pot calls American kettle black

The government of China is getting their collective panties in a bunch over US plans to shoot down its own errant spy satellite.
China is concerned by U.S. plans to shoot down an ailing spy satellite and is considering what "preventative measures" to take, the Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

"The Chinese government is paying close attention to how the situation develops and demands the U.S. side fulfill its international obligations and avoids causing damage to security in outer space and of other countries," spokesman Liu Jianchao said.
The article goes on to mention China's shoot-down of its own satellite last year in which they tested a ground-based anti-satellite missile on an aging weather satellite.

China has also allegedly targeted US satellites with ground-based lasers.

Update: Russia's also got their borscht in a boil.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

An interesting week or two ahead

The Serb region of Kosovo today will declare its independence from the Serbian state. Serbia, along with their Russian patrons, will not be pleased, while Kosovar independence has the full backing of the European Union and the United States.

Meanwhile, Hizballah's terrorism chief Hassan Nasrallah is calling for "open war" against Israel, with 50,000 Hizballah "activists" massed in southern Lebanon. That 50,000 number seems unlikely, but certainly there are more than a handful there.

Update: Kosovo's gone and done it.

Death knell for HD-DVD?

An unconfirmed report suggests that Toshiba may be preparing to withdraw its HD-DVD format offering, effectively ceding the market to Sony's Blu-ray technology.

I've never had the chance to view a side-by-side comparison of the two competing formats, but let's just hope this isn't another VHS v. Beta competition in which Beta, the superior technology, lost to VHS.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ayaan Hirsi Ali takes her case to European Parliament

Spurned by her own adoptive country and left to her own defenses by the US government, Ayaan Hirsi Ali now finds herself asking the EU parliament to pay for her protection.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been in Brussels to plead for political backing for a controversial proposal to get the EU to pay for her protection.

She was invited by French Socialist MEPs, who launched the initiative to set up a special fund for the former Dutch Parliamentarian who has received death threats because of her critical views of Islam.

"Today I find myself in the embarrassing position that I have to come to ask for help," she told the European Parliament. "I need you to support this fund to protect people like me whose only crime is free speech."

Ms Hirsi Ali has been living under police protection since the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004, with whom she made a film about Islam's treatment of women. A note targeting her by name was found on van Gogh's body.
How pathetic is it that not one western nation (or group of them) who claim to value and be defenders of free speech, can protect one brave soul who actually stands for those values?

I can has ur coffee?

If you don't get it, click here.

Did Saudi officials threaten Britain with terror attacks?

Widely thought to be the fountainhead of Islamist terrorism, a report in today's Daily Mail suggests that Saudi Arabian officials claim the ability to turn the tap on and off at will.
Investigators working on the fraud probe into Saudi arms deals were told they faced "another 7/7" and the "loss of British lives on British streets" if they continued the inquiry, secret papers reveal.

Saudi Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless the corruption investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was stopped, according to documents shown to the High Court.

The previously secret files reveal the warning by the Saudis that they would go ahead and cut off intelligence links with the UK about potential terror strikes and suicide bombers.

It was alleged in court that Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, was behind the threats to withold information.

During the hearing, he was accused of flying to Britain in December 2006 and issuing the warning which forced Tony Blair to call for an end to the investigation into alleged bribery and corruption involving deals between British arms firm BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia.

[ ... ]

It also emerged that 24 hours after Foreign Office officials met Prince Bandar, a Saudi national security adviser, No 10 informed the Attorney General they wanted to make further representations on the case.

Three days later Mr Blair wrote to the Attorney General.

Helen Garlick, assistant director of the SFO, told the court that officials from the Foreign Office had told her that "British lives on British streets" were at risk.

She said: "If this caused another 7/7 how could we say that our investigation, which at this stage might or might not result in a successful prosecution, was more important?"
At the time, Tony Blair was pilloried by the press for rolling over for business interests by halting the investigation. At first glance, stopping the investigation in order to protect lives on the streets seems a less contemptible motive. But is it really?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Norwegian media not quite up to Danish standards

Aftenposten "pixeled out" the Mo pictures

Norway's Aftenposten issues an admission that unlike major newspapers in Denmark, those in Norway have no balls.
Norway’s major newspapers have no plans to publish the controversial "Mohammad Cartoons", following the decision by Denmark's leading newspapers to reprint them today.

[ ... ]

The Danish papers said they wanted to show their firm commitment to freedom of speech after Tuesday's arrest in Denmark of three people accused of plotting to kill the man who drew the cartoon.
A "firm commitment" apparently lacking in Norway.

Dark ages misogyny

When I saw this article, I figured they just had to be talking about an Islamic school. Nope.

In the interests of fairness, since we here at the Pool Bar are quick to point out the backwards tendencies of fundamentalist Islam, I have to post this. It seems a Catholic school near Topeka, Kansas operated by the St. Pius X Society objected to a female referee officiating a boys' basketball game on the grounds that "a woman could not be put in a position of authority over boys because of the academy's beliefs".
The Kansas State High School Activities Association said referees reported that Michelle Campbell was preparing to officiate at St. Mary's Academy near Topeka on Feb. 2 when a school official insisted that Campbell could not call the game.

The reason given, according to the referees: Campbell, as a woman, could not be put in a position of authority over boys because of the academy's beliefs.

Campbell then walked off the court along with Darin Putthoff, the referee who was to work the game with her.

"I said, 'If Michelle has to leave, then I'm leaving with her,"' Putthoff said Wednesday. "I was disappointed that it happened to Michelle. I've never heard of anything like that."

Fred Shockey, who was getting ready to leave the gym after officiating two junior high games, said he was told there had been an emergency and was asked to stay and officiate two more games.

"When I found out what the emergency was, I said there was no way I was going to work those games," said Shockey, who spent 12 years in the Army and became a ref about three years ago. "I have been led by some of the finest women this nation has to offer, and there was no way I was going to go along with that."
A Pool Bar toast to the other refs who refused to go along with this idiocy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Seven years after Bill Clinton left Washington

Seven years after Bill Clinton left Washington DC, evidence surfaces that while he may not have had sexual relations with "that woman", he may have done so with plenty of others.

Hat tip to my brother Mark for sending this along.

Melanie Phillips: Replace Archbishop Rowan Williams

The Daily Mail's Melanie Phillips delivers a proper spanking to Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose bizarre thoughts on the inevitability of sharia law in Britain angered so many.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is fighting for his professional life after saying that the application of Islamic Sharia law in this country was "unavoidable" and that it was not an "alien and rival system" to English law.

The unprecedented outpouring of fury at his observations has caused people to question his fitness for office, with at least two members of the Synod already calling upon him to resign.

In his defence, his supporters claim the entire row has been got up by the "tabloid press".

This old chestnut ignores the fact that people went ballistic straight after they heard Dr Williams say on the radio that the principle of one law for everybody was "a bit of a danger" - well before any newspapers even wrote their stories.

[ ... ]

To bolster his claim that there was nothing novel about his proposals, Dr Williams said the state already delegated aspects of law to Jewish religious courts.

The statement repeated that there were "overlapping jurisdictions" between English and Jewish law and that British Jews could choose between two systems of justice.

But this is totally untrue. Jewish law has no legal authority in Britain, and British Jews have never asked for it.

Jewish religious courts can arbitrate in disputes only on a voluntary basis, and Jews must be married and divorced according to the same law of the land as everyone else.

The distinction is crucial. Does Dr Williams not understand this?

[ ... ]

Dr Williams is said to be profoundly shocked by the reaction to his remarks. Well, we are all profoundly shocked by him.

He should stand down and Dr Nazir-Ali, who is trying to defend the religion and culture of this country, should take his place.
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth is more concerned about the controversy than the bizarre thoughts of the man who caused it.

Danish newspapers reprint Mohammed cartoons

In a show of solidarity with Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who was being stalked and targeted for death by a group of Islamist freakazoids, every major daily in Denmark reprinted the now-infamous dreaded cartoons of blasphemy.
The country's media has been quick to demonstrate solidarity with the cartoonist who was the target of an alleged assassination plot

Newspaper readers woke up on Wednesday to find a controversial image of the prophet Mohammed once again making headlines.

Even though the image of a lit bomb growing out of the prophet Mohammed's turban was first printed in Jyllands-Posten newspaper in September 2005, editors from all of the country's major dailies decided to re-print it on Wednesday after it was discovered that Muslim extremists had plotted to assassinate the man who drew it, Kurt Westergaard.
I doubt the reprint will generate the seething and teeth-gnashing it did the first time around.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


So, the wife and I had big plans to take our three kids, all of whom are of voting age, out to vote this evening. We were planning on leaving for the polls at around 7PM. While checking something online as we were getting ready to head out, I saw that 7PM is when the polls close here in Virginia. This was at around 6:57. I thought the polls closed at 8.

So here we sit, disenfranchised voters all, due to some vast left-wing conspiracy that had us believing we still had an hour to vote. I feel like some dumb-ass voter in Palm Beach in 2000 who left the polls not knowing who they voted for.

Danes roll up group plotting to kill cartoonist

Danish authorities have rounded up a group of Islamists suspected of plotting to kill a cartoonist who drew one of the dreaded Mohammed cartoons back in 2005.
Early Tuesday morning, Danish police arrested several people with a Muslim background suspected of conspiring to kill Kurt Westergaard, a Danish cartoonist with Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten.

A formal statement by the police setting out details of the action is expected within the next few hours.

Kurt Westergaard is one of the 12 cartoonists who on 30 September 2005 published cartoons of Muslim prophet Mohammed.

The group arrested includes Danish as well as foreign citizens. The Danish Security and Intelligence Service have followed the group for months.

[ ... ]

Kurt Westergaard’s cartoon depicting the prophet wearing a bomb turban with a lit fuse attracted particular attention. What the cartoonist wanted to say with his cartoon was that many people exploit the prophet to legitimize terror. However, the cartoon was widely seen as a depiction of the prophet as a terrorist.
Unfortunately, I doubt this group will be the last to try to kill one of the cartoonists.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Obama jaw-dropper of the day

A Che Guevara image on a Cuban flag is displayed prominently in Barack Obama's Houston campaign office

It would appear that Barack Obama is backed by Che-loving commies in Texas. I guess this is what they mean by "change".

What's almost more astonishing is that this was shot during a news segment on a Houston TV station, and the reporter made no comment about this at all.

Hat tip: Hot Air.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Illinois mall shootings a case of sudden jihadi syndrome?

Police released this sketch of the suspected shooter in last weekend's mass-murder at a Lane Bryant store in Illinois. He appears to be wearing a kufi, commonly worn in the US mostly by African-American Muslims.

Was this a case of sudden jihadi syndrome, or just a botched robbery? I've questioned the robbery story since I first heard about this. I mean, seriously...who the hell robs a women's clothing store in a mall?

Attempt to bomb North Sea oil rig?

There's breaking news from the UK on a suspected explosive device discovered aboard the Safe Scandinavia, forcing the evacuation of all hands.
More than 500 oil workers are being evacuated from a rig in the North Sea after a major security alert, the the Ministry of Defence said today.

Five RAF and a number of coastguard helicopters are involved in the evacuation. Sources said the evacuation followed a security alert regarding a “device” on board the Safe Scandinavia, 175 miles north-east of Aberdeen.
More than 500 oil workers on a single oil rig? Who knew?

Update: It was a hoax.

Unpopular science

According to a Times of London article, the issue of Muslim inbreeding is the "elephant in the room" that nobody likes to talk about.
A government minister has warned that inbreeding among immigrants is causing a surge in birth defects - comments likely to spark a new row over the place of Muslims in British society.

Phil Woolas, an environment minister, said the culture of arranged marriages between first cousins was the “elephant in the room”. Woolas, a former race relations minister, said: “If you have a child with your cousin the likelihood is there’ll be a genetic problem.”

The minister, whose views were supported by medical experts this weekend, said: “The issue we need to debate is first cousin marriages, whereby a lot of arranged marriages are with first cousins, and that produces lots of genetic problems in terms of disability [in children].”

Woolas emphasised the practice did not extend to all Muslim communities but was confined mainly to families originating from rural Pakistan. However, up to half of all marriages within these communities are estimated to involve first cousins.

Medical research suggests that while British Pakistanis are responsible for 3% of all births, they account for one in three British children born with genetic illnesses.

[ ... ]

He added that the issue is not talked about. “The health authorities look into it. Most health workers and primary care trusts in areas like mine are very aware of it. But it’s a very sensitive issue. That’s why it’s not even a debate and people outside of these areas don’t really know it exists.”

Woolas was supported by Ann Cryer [Who was muzzled more than two years ago for broaching the subject. --ed.], Labour MP for Keighley, who called for the NHS to do more to warn parents of the dangers of inbreeding.

“This is to do with a medieval culture where you keep wealth within the family,” she said.
Of course, with the government-run National Health Service in Britain, it's the British taxpayers who pick up the tab for all those birth defects.

In neo-Soviet Russia, everything old is new again

I posted a piece last August about the revived practice in Russia of institutionalizing political opponents. Today's Sunday Telegraph carries another example of this practice in the period leading up to last December's elections in Russia.
To the men in white coats who locked him away, Artem Basirov was a confused and paranoid lunatic who was a danger to himself and others. His own diagnosis of the condition that led to his detention in a Russian psychiatric hospital was simpler: it was his dislike of President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Basirov, 20, a university student, was among a group of pro-democracy activists planning a protest against President Putin's increasingly authoritarian rule ahead of last December's elections.

But on the night before the planned demonstration, he was snatched by secret service officers, taken to a state psychiatric hospital and forced to undergo a month of "treatment", during which he was fed mind-numbing drugs.

Mr Basirov's incarceration inside the Soviet-era psycho-neurological clinic, details of which have been passed to The Sunday Telegraph, is the latest case in which opponents of Kremlin rule have been hauled off to state-run mental institutions.
Unfortunately, the caterwauling leftist media here in the US is too busy wailing over the fabricated and imagined totalitarian excesses of the Bush administration to even notice when a real tyrant is actually abusing human rights.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Abolish the IRS? Yeah, right

So, Mike Huckabee just had an ad on Fox News Channel in which he vowed to abolish the Internal Revenue Service. How very Ron Paul-esque, pandering to disgruntled taxpayers during the heart of tax season.

Here's the skinny: If a politician tells you he (or she) is going to replace the current income tax system with a federal sales tax or flat tax system thus abolishing the IRS, he's playing you. The US government, like every other government everywhere on the planet, requires money in order to operate. One can argue -- fairly -- that the government frequently spends money unwisely and wastefully, but no reasonable person can argue that the government has no authority to collect money from its citizens to spend on the behalf of those citizens. And some instrument of the government must exist to collect that money.

Sure, the IRS would likely be reduced in size if the tax structure were simplified and tax enforcement became less of an issue. But to claim that a simplified tax structure would eliminate the need for the IRS (or a similar organ of another name) is to play us for fools.

Cold War redux

Russian espionage activity in Norway is at an "all-time high", according to Norway's Aftenposten.
Russian agents in Norway have reached levels as high as during the Cold War, warns the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST).

[ ... ]

"I’m not going to comment on individual countries, but there are more countries active [in espionage] in Norway than people would think," PST chief Jørn Holme told Norwegian daily Aftenposten.

Holme said unnamed sources indicate that Russian espionage activity is at an "all-time high", and other countries have also stepped up their activities in Norway.

[ ... ]

However, researcher Jakub Godzimirski of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) says Russia does not view Norway as a military threat.

"Seen from Moscow’s perspective, Norway is interesting because it is a member of NATO and the Kremlin sees Norway as an American outpost," Godzimirski told Aftenposten.

"In addition, Norway is a significant gas and oil exporter," he said. "In the gas sector, the two countries compete in the same markets in Europe."
So, according to Mr. Godzimirski, it's nothing to worry about because Russia doesn't see Norway as a "military threat". It's just that whole NATO and economic competition thing.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hook-handed hate imam to be extradited to US

Someone this ugly should not be allowed to roam free

Abu Hamza, delightfully ugly even without the hooked right hand and milky left eye, will be extradited by Britain to the US. He's serving a seven-year prison term in Britain, but will serve a life sentence here.
Hate cleric Abu Hamza faces spending the rest of his life in a U.S. jail. The Home Office approved his extradition yesterday and the hook-handed preacher could be handed over within months.

Government sources say they never expect to see him back in the UK. "This is very good news," said one.

The charges against Hamza, 50, include organising terror training camps and assisting an armed gang who abducted a party of Western tourists in Yemen in 1998.
Unfortunate that American taxpayers will be keeping this shit bag alive for the next 30 years or so, but it beats him walking out of jail in a few years.

Flush with petro-cash, Russia to build weapons, hire aging rock band

Russia continued its cold war mongering with threats to expand an arms build-up in response to US plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Europe. I still fail to understand how, unless Russia plans to rain missiles down on Europe, a missile defense shield is a threat to Russia.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that Russia will "always respond" to any moves made in the new "arms race".

Speaking on Russian television, Mr Putin said that there was a "new turn in the arms race".

"Russia will always respond to this new challenge," he said, promising "new weapons that have the same characteristics, and in some cases better characteristics, as those being built by other countries."
Meanwhile, Russia announced plans to hire 1970s power rockers Deep Purple for a big party.
Veteran British rockers Deep Purple have been invited to play for one of their best-known fans, the man likely to be Russia's next president.

Dimitry Medvedev and outgoing president Vladimir Putin are expected to attend a party at the Kremlin thrown by Gazprom on Feb 11 to which the band has been invited.

Mr Medvedev has told interviewers that Deep Purple, known for hits such as Smoke on the Water, is his favourite band. The band's management declined to comment.

Mr Medvedev recently said that the country is so rich from an oil-fuelled boom that billions can be doled out simply by a click of the fingers.
Spoiled rich kids.

AFP: Honor killings have nothing to do with Islam

An Agence France Press article on Swedish news web site The Local has news about the Swedish government's efforts to combat honor crimes in Sweden. Of course, the article is swift to point out that Islam doesn't condone the practice.
Sweden said on Thursday it had set aside 32 million kronor ($4.9 million) to fund local efforts to combat so-called honour crimes.

[ ... ]

Honour-related violence, including killings, are sometimes seen by male relatives as a way to avenge their honour if a woman is suspected of being unchaste and of having brought shame on her family.

While such crimes are most common in some Muslim parts of the Middle East and Asia [and Africa, and Europe, and... Ed.], and are increasingly being seen in certain immigrant communities in Western countries, experts say Islam in no way condones the practice.
To be fair, I've long theorized that such practices were Arab cultural traditions that predate Islam, and that Islam was simply a means to codify and propagate the practices. Islam is the common thread that links such disparate cultures as Arab, Persian and others.

But, no...Islam has nothing to do with it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

McCain: Last man standing

I say "last man" because Huckabee and Paul don't count. With Romney out of the race, John McCain is the presumptive GOP nominee.

So, we're left with three choices in November:
  1. Sit out the election in protest
  2. Vote for Obama or Clinton in protest
  3. Vote for McCain
No matter how much I look at and consider McCain's transgressions against traditional conservative policy, letting Obama or Clinton walk through the election just isn't an option for me.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

'Asian' cops in Britain aiding and abetting criminals

A disturbing report in the Daily Mail says that 'Asian' (PC code for immigrants from Muslim countries) cops in Britain are hindering the crackdown on "honor killings" and other quaint practices, and non-Asians are afraid to say anything lest they run afoul of Britain's ridiculous thought-crime laws.
Some Asians in the police and in Government jobs have been accused of blocking the crackdown against so-called honour killings.

It is alleged they are not only failing to help desperate women trying to flee abuse and arranged marriages but are actively encouraging punishment for those they believe are breaking traditional taboos.

Terrified victims who seek official help are even being tracked down by a network of Asian men working in Government departments and social services, according to a study written by the think-tank Social Cohesion.

One woman was found by her family after she signed on at a Jobcentre where a member of the Asian community was working.

The report also claims some Asian police officers actually return women to their abusive families or refuse to act against men enforcing 'traditional' roles.

Meanwhile, non-Asian officials and police officers are scared of acting against families who abuse their relatives for fear of being branded as racist, the report says.
So to summarize: Britain has a fast-growing immigrant population whose "cultural values" run counter to British law, is putting members of that immigrant population in positions of authority, and everyone else is afraid to do anything about it.

Isn't that just dandy.

Transition to communism to cost Hugo big bucks

Venezuelan president and buffoon-in-chief Hugo Chavez is about to find there's a heavy price to be paid for nationalizing the country's oil industry. He'll have to shell out $235 million to StatoilHydro of Norway for confiscating their stake in Venezuela's Sincor oil project.
Norwegian energy group StatoilHydro looks set to receive USD 235m in compensation from Venezuela for cutting its stake in the Sincor oil project.

According to the report from Dow Jones Newswires, StatoilHydro -- Norway's biggest company -- would receive the compensation in cash this year.

The Sincor heavy oil project is one of several in Venezuela to be nationalized in President Hugo Chavez's attempt to transform the country into a socialist republic.
Sweet, sweet schadenfreude.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Radical Islamists receiving money from American taxpayers

Fox News reports that the Mad Mullahs of Iran are receiving US funds through the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
The World Bank is using millions of dollars in American taxpayer funds to help Iran build up its industrial and natural gas sectors, FOX News has learned.

This comes at a time when the United States and the United Nations are actively working to discourage the international community from conducting commercial transactions with Iran and its energy sector, in particular.

The World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) provides financial guarantees to secure foreign investments in developing countries, and the U.S. government is one of the agency's largest contributors. U.S. contributions since 2000 have totaled nearly $24 million.
Funding international organizations has its place, but the money has to come with some oversight and strings attached.

The Telecaster Titan

In the previous post I mentioned that Bill Kirchen, who played a show last night at the Colonial Tavern in Fredericksburg, VA, wrote the intro to Commander Cody's Hot Rod Lincoln. That was just an impression I'd picked up from a news article, and I didn't realize he was actually a core member of that '70s "Rockabilly" band.

The man put on a fantastic show last night, and is an absolute master of his craft. At the age of 60, he plays as energetically as any 15 year old with his first electric guitar, but with the wisdom and mastery that only comes with age, experience and tractor trailer loads of talent.

He plays a Fender Telecaster that's probably as old as I am, and he plays it like nobody I've seen. He palms the knobs as he's playing notes to make the sound of a truck horn or a train, does impressions of musicians like Jimi Hendrix, and just gets the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. He's one of the best guitarists I've ever seen live, certainly the best I've seen in a small venue.

He tours extensively, so check here to see if you're lucky enough to have him playing near you.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hot Rod Lincoln

The gentleman at left is Bill Kirchen, who wrote the intro to the '70s Commander Cody hit, "Hot Rod Lincoln".

He's doing a sound check here prior to his show tonight at the Colonial Tavern in Fredericksburg.

(Mobile blogging is so cool!)

Bad day for flying

I don't normally do red-eye flights coming back from the west coast, but I really needed some time in the office today, so I took a 22:35 flight out of San Francisco last night rather than losing the whole day in the air.

The flight from SFO got into ATL on time, and the flight from ATL to Richmond (a regional jet) actually pushed back from the gate 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Since I fly between ATL and RIC a couple dozen times a year, I know what turns to expect depending on whether the flight departs to the east or the west. When this flight made one more steep turn than usual, I knew something was up.

Sure enough, a couple minutes later the pilot came on the intercom with the bad news; the flaps were stuck and wouldn't fully retract, so we had to return to ATL. To make matters worse, the flaps wouldn't extend any more, either, meaning we had to land at a much higher than normal speed. To the pilot's credit, he brought the RJ in for a smooth landing, but the rollout was long, and I think he was standing on the brakes. He used every foot of the runway, and there were crash vehicles standing by. Purely precautionary in this case, I think.

Delta conjured up a replacement aircraft pretty quickly, and we were soon airborne again for RIC. On initial approach to Richmond, the pilot reported a 300 foot cloud ceiling, meaning visibility was pretty limited. I think 300 feet was a generous estimate. Once we broke out of the cloud cover, we were on the ground in about 8 seconds.

Better late than dead, I guess.