Monday, June 30, 2008

The hazards of working from home

The flip-side of having to travel so much is that when I'm not traveling, I get to work from home. The flip-side to working from home is that, well, it's not always so quiet.

Today's my older boy's birthday, and I gave him this ESP V-500 - a favorite of the heavy metal crowd - this morning. I think I should have waited until I was done working for the day.

Media bias watch

Venezuelan president and comic book commie dictator Hugo Chavez is a favorite target of my ire, so of course this article on a budding political crisis for Chavez in today's Telegraph caught my eye. The article starts off innocently enough:
President Hugo Chavez, the "socialist revolutionary" leading a global campaign against America's "empire", is facing a political crisis in Venezuela where crucial elections are approaching and old allies have turned against him.

Mr Chavez, a devoted admirer of Fidel Castro, has forged an anti-American front with leaders ranging from President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

At home, however, Mr Chavez is in trouble. State elections are due in November and Venezuela's opposition, which now includes former followers of South America's standard-bearer for socialism, is expected to perform well.
But then it veers quickly into anti-US/pro-Chavez territory:
...General Raul Baduel, who served as defence minister and rescued Mr Chavez from an American-backed coup in 2002...
Let's get one thing straight here. While it's pretty certain that the Bush administration favored the coup, there's not a shred of evidence that the US had anything to do with it. That the US "backed" the coup is vintage Chavez propaganda, which the Telegraph reporter here is only too happy to parrot.

Then there's this paragraph, describing textbook dictatorship:
Under Mr Chavez, Venezuela's government has become a one-man show. He takes almost every decision himself, working into the early hours, scrawling his signature on official papers. His ministers are powerless. Mr Chavez no longer chairs cabinet meetings, delegating that task to his vice-president.
Shortly followed by:
Mr Chavez, who is a twice-elected leader, not a dictator...
It's small wonder the world hates the US. They're lied to over and over again about US actions while every pissant commie is held up as a paragon of virtue.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hugo Chavez the drug lord

I've given Venezuela's president many titles here, and now we can add "drug lord". It seems that under Chavez's leadership dictatorship, Venezuela has become the major transit point for cocaine from Colombia bound for Europe.
Anti-drugs officials estimate that more than 50 per cent of all the cocaine consumed in Britain has been trafficked through Venezuela - under the "revolutionary" regime of Mr Chavez. The figure could be as high as two thirds.

Senior commanders in Venezuela's security forces are thought to be profiting from the trade and actively helping the smugglers, notably by allowing them to use military airfields.

"Venezuela is a magnet for drug trafficking right now. It's a huge problem," said a senior member of another Latin American government. "Venezuela is a Bermuda Triangle for drugs."
Something seems to have been lost in translation here. My understanding of the Bermuda Triangle is that a Bermuda Triangle for drugs would be a good thing. But I get his meaning...I think.

Britain to kick another jihadi loose

A suspected al Qaeda leader in Britain, identified only as "U", is set to be released on bail by a British appeals court. This comes just over a week after the release of Osama bin Laden's "right-hand man in Europe", Abu Qatada.
A man alleged to be one of al-Qa'eda's most important operatives in Europe is due to be freed from a British prison next week, it was reported.

After secret negotiations, the prisoner, identified only as U, is expected to be freed on bail from the high-security wing at Long Lartin jail in Worcestershire.

U, a 45-year-old Algerian, is alleged to be a terrorist leader who recruited, trained and facilitated operations.
Fercryin'outloud. The Brits aren't even trying any more.

No good deed shall go unpunished

Two Swedish UN workers in Somalia were kidnapped by Islamist gunmen today during a raid on the town of Hodur. The Swedes were there as part of the UN's mine action service.
Two Swedish nationals working for the United Nations mine action service were kidnapped in Somalia on Saturday by Islamist militants, a UN source told AFP.

Local residents and aid workers said the insurgents attacked the town of Hodur, 370 kilometres west of the Somali capital Mogadishu, around 4:30 am (0130 GMT) but then withdrew.

"The two UN mine action workers were taken from the IMC (International Medical Corps) compound. We don't know their whereabouts and they were taken after Islamists took control of the town," a UN official told AFP on condition of anonymity, saying both were Swedish nationals.
Of the few useful things the UN does, mine action is one of them. Mine action service workers not only carry out unexploded ordnance (UXO) disposal, they educate locals on how to avoid mines and treat and rehabilitate civilians who are too often the victims of forgotten landmines.

No good deed shall go unpunished, at least when it comes to Islamist freakazoids.

USS Cole makes port call in Stockholm

The USS Cole docked in Stockholm yesterday after participating in exercises in the Baltic Sea. It was the first time a US Navy warship has docked there in 7 years.
Most of the ship's 300 crew members have never set foot in Sweden before, and their impression after sailing through Stockholm’s archipelago left them with heightened expectations.

“It was just beautiful,” said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Joshua Winkler of Illinois.

Commanding Officer Cary J. Krause was also struck by the archipelago, not only for its beauty, but also because of the challenge he faced in navigating the 150 metre-long destroyer through the vast collection of islands.

[ ... ]

Besides the current dollar-krona exchange rate, as well as the location of the nearest nightclub, sailors were also interested in having the chance to experience yet another port city.

“Business comes first, play comes later,” said Winkler with a smile.
Life in the Navy can be pretty hard, but I've been to Sweden in the summer time...there is an upside to being a sailor, I guess.

Friday, June 27, 2008

North Pole to be ice free?

Let's just save this link for reference later this summer. According to the article, there's a better than 50-50 chance that the North Pole will be ice-free with this summer's annual retreat of polar sea ice, and will be all open water.
It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic – and worrying – examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.
I ain't buying it, and memory permitting, I'll follow up on this in August.

A different kind of 'honor killing'

Most of the time when one reads about an "honor killing" in the news, the victim is a female member of a family whose actions are felt to have brought dishonor on the family. The actions leading to an honor killing can range anywhere from excessively "western" behavior to "allowing" oneself to be raped. In the twisted minds of the killers, a family's honor is redeemed when male members of the family - usually a father, brother or uncle - kill an "offending" female member of the family.

In an unusual case in Britain recently, the husband of a young lady of Pakistani background was killed because he wasn't the husband hand-picked for her by her family. The murder was sentenced to life in prison.

The Telegraph article provides a story behind the story, though, that's worth reading for its description of life for some female members of Pakistani immigrant families in Britain:
Tom Bayliss, prosecuting, had told the court that Yasmin Khan was one of six children born to Pakistani parents living in Halifax.

She attended a local school until the age of nine when she was taken by her mother to Pakistan.

Mother and daughter moved in with Miss Khan's uncle, Rehmat Khan, and her brother, Arza.

When Mrs Khan returned to Britain her daughter spent her days doing housework. She was not placed in education again for three years.

At the age of 15 she was allowed to return to Britain, with the caveat that she would later return to Pakistan to marry one of her nephews.

Back in Yorkshire, she tried to regain control of her life, finding a job as a receptionist and studying for A Levels at Calderdale College.

Her family disapproved of her behaviour and she was sometimes beaten.

In 2002 she was taken back to Pakistan and told she would only return to Britain "when you start behaving yourself".

Arza Khan was violent towards her and in response to this she took an overdose.

While in Pakistan she met and fell in love with Mr Mehmood. She flew back to Britain and lived for a time away from her family in both Edinburgh and Cardiff.

During this period Arza Khan made telephone calls in which he threatened to kill her.

Miss Khan and her chosen lover were secretly married in Pakistan in October 2004.

However, she became homesick and once again flew home to Britain. He followed, and lived at a secret address in Halifax. It was from this house that he was taken away and executed on February 11 last year.
Positively medieval.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Court: 2nd amendment an individual right

In declaring Washington DC's gun ban unconstitutional, the Supreme Court judged the second amendment right to bear arms an individual right, clarifying once and for all that murky "well-regulated militia" clause. The court's decision doesn't put an end to any kind of reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, but outright bans are off the table.

In DC's case, the immediate effect will be that citizens will be allowed to keep guns in their home, but Mayor Adrian Fenty made it clear today that "guns on the street will not be tolerated", so I suppose a concealed carry law for the district is out of the question for the time being.

With the likelihood of Democrats controlling both the executive and legislative branches come January, this decision comes not a moment too soon.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Swedish kids worried about parents 'net usage

Well here's a switch. It seems concern is growing amongst a lot of kids in Sweden over their parents' use of the Internet.
Dads visiting pornographic websites represented the most common complaint, while philandering fathers were also a cause for concern.

"It seems that my dad is 'unfaithful'," wrote one 15-year-old boy.

"I read his MSN conversation log. I was just curious. And then I saw that he was talking to, like, young girls. And the disgusting part is that he's 53!

"And they talk about sex and how they're going to meet and everything. It makes me want to puke. It really makes me feel bad.

"I don't know if I should tell mum because I'm worried they'll get a divorce. Please, what should I do?"

The report also made it clear that children were not the only ones spending inordinate amounts of time in front of the computer.

One 12-year-old girl called the organization to explain that she rarely got to speak to her mum anymore. Her mother spent most of her time sitting half naked in front of the computer and posting photos of herself on the internet, the girl said.

Another girl's mother had begun devoting all her attention to a computer game.

"I know it sounds ridiculous but my mother has started playing the computer game WoW, World of Warcraft," wrote the 13-year-old.

"This summer she has been sitting up all day and all night and she forgets what's important to me. And when she's not at the computer she's like a lost soul. She just looks straight ahead and says nothing. I'm not doing so well."
It's a strange world we live in.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The media campaign against John McCain

A day after the appearance of a Fortune magazine article on John McCain in which McCain strategist Charlie Black is quoted as saying a terrorist attack on US soil would be a "big advantage" for McCain, the hyperventilating pro-Obama media is in overdrive, portraying such an attack as McCain's wish.

Take a look at what was said, and the context in which it was said:
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.
Clearly, this was a remark - made in response to the interviewer's question - about whether an attack on US soil would help or hurt McCain. Yet the context is completely omitted in all coverage of the "controversial" statement. In fact, the entire article is about how John McCain plans to win the election, and the context in which the interviewer posed the question to Black was all about how world events influence the campaign. But listening to the coverage today, one would think that Charlie Black and his henchmen were sitting around in their leather chairs, smoking cigars and drinking single malt scotch, when Black said " know what would be a big help this fall?"

This is nothing but character assassination for political gain and it doesn't surprise me, but it does disappoint me that McCain is so quick to throw Black under the bus for it.

Change we can recycle

This is fun. Barack Obama and his team of parrots have been squawking the "change" mantra from the beginning, yet his team of national security, foreign policy and economic advisers is a Who's Who of Clinton administration retreads:
National Security Advisers
Richard Danzig...was Navy secretary in the Clinton administration.
Sarah Sewall...was deputy assistant secretary of defense for peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance during the Clinton administration.

Foreign Policy Advisers
Gregory B. Craig...a former Clinton White House aide, served as director of policy planning under former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Anthony Lake...a national security adviser to President Clinton.
Susan E. Rice...served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs in the later years of the Clinton administration.

Economic Advisers
Jason Furman...served as special assistant to the president for economic policy in the Clinton administration.
William M. Daley...served as chairman of President Bill Clinton’s NAFTA Task Force. A few years after the enactment of the trade agreement, Daley became Clinton’s secretary of commerce.
Daniel K. Tarullo...In the Clinton administration, Tarullo served as assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, deputy assistant to the president for economic policy, and assistant to the president for international economic policy.
That kind of "change", I think, we can do without.

Confirmed: De-regulation works

In an experiment to reduce traffic accidents, the German town of Bohmte removed all traffic lights and road signs. Drivers there were told there are just two rules for driving throughout the town: observe a 30MPH speed limit, and yield to vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists on the right. The result:
The local council has hailed the experiment a success as not a single traffic accident was reported last month, compared to at least one serious crash every week before the change.

Our friends the Russians

For the second time in four months, Norway's Aftenposten has a news item on stepped-up Russian espionage activity in Norway.
The Cold War is allegedly over, but Norway's special police unit in charge of intelligence (PST) is convinced that Russian spies are as active as ever. So active, that PST has warned Foreign Ministry officials about specific suspected spies working as Russian diplomats.

[ ... ]

The Russians are said to be especially keen on Norwegian views on possible attempts by Finland and/or Sweden to join NATO. Russia is opposed to expansion of the NATO defense alliance.
Aftenposten ran a similar story back in February.

If Russia's all puppy dogs and rainbows these days, as the Kremlin would have us believe, what's up with the neo-Soviets' preoccupation with NATO?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Turning point

Iraq will be a dangerous place for some time to come, but for the past year and a half or so, it's become less so with each day. Hot Air carried this in their headlines today, with the deliberately misleading teaser "Humiliation: U.S. troops routed by former Iraqi insurgents". It links to this McClatchy article about a soccer match between US troops and local Iraqis, at least some of whom were likely trying to kill the same troops at one time.
...the recent match between members of the 87th Infantry's 1st battalion and several young men from the Sons of Iraq meant much more than the 9-0 score.

For one thing, it was the third time in recent days when American soldiers donned shorts and "Salute to Our Fallen Heroes" T-shirts to go head-to-head and foot-to-foot with teams of opponents who, only months ago, may have been trying to kill them.
Someone forward this to Harry Reid, please.

Bummer: George Carlin dead at 71

More sad news today as we hear that comedian George Carlin has died at the age of 71. A lot of righties didn't like his politics, but that doesn't change the fact that he was one funny guy.

George, you'll be missed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

'The bullet has replaced the ballot'

Zimbabwe's president (and Absolute Supreme Dictator For Life) Robert Mugabe has bullied his way to election victory-by-default with opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai's withdrawal from the presidential run-off election.
Morgan Tsvangirai pulled of Zimbabwe's presidential run-off election today, complaining that a campaign of violence by Robert Mugabe and his supporters made a free and fair vote impossible.

Mr Tsvangirai announced the decision at a press conference in Harare after a meeting this morning of the national executive of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

“We in the MDC cannot ask them to cast their vote on the 27th when that vote would cost them their lives,” he said. “We will no longer participate in the violent illegitimate sham of an election process."

The opposition leader said that President Mugabe had “declared war by saying that the bullet has replaced the ballot".
Mugabe has to cling to power out of self-preservation. If the MDC ever came to power, he'd surely face a trial and ultimate execution.

Neo-Soviets kill newspaper


A newspaper for expats living in Russia has been shutdown by government intimidation over its criticism of Vladimir Putin. When The Exile was informed it was to have an "unplanned audit" of its content by the "Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications, and the Protection of Cultural Heritage" (an Orwellian title if ever there was one), their supporters and financiers dropped them like a "polonium-filled potato".
'They're here,' my colleague whispered. It was 11am, exactly the time the Russian ministry officials said they would arrive at our office to carry out an 'unplanned audit' of our newspaper's articles.

A film of sweat hit my back.

The officials from what is known as the Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications, and the Protection of Cultural Heritage had specifically requested my presence for the questioning, so that I might 'explain' our articles.

I had seriously considered absconding - and now that I was there, I wondered if I hadn't just made the biggest mistake of my life.

[ ... ]

A visit by four government officials to question you about your editorial content would be strange and worrying in any country. But in Russia, where over the past decade journalists and media outlets have been subjected to relentless pressure, brutality, forced exile and even death, it's much more serious.
Read the whole thing.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Obama a good ol' Virginia boy?


Today's Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star has an amusing article suggesting that Barack Obama is a third cousin nine times removed of James Madison's, and (horrors!) a fifth cousin eight times removed of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
In addition to his father's village in Africa, Barack Obama may be able to add Montpelier and Stratford Hall to his list of ancestral homes.

According to a venerable genealogical society, the Illinois senator and presumptive Democratic nominee for president is a distant cousin of both President James Madison, who was born in King George County in 1751, and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, who was born in 1807 at Stratford in Westmoreland County.
Madison's and Lee's descendants are having none of it:
"We can't validate it one way or the other," an official of the Society of Lees of Virginia said of Roberts' findings. The official did not wish to be named.

Frederick Madison Smith, president of The National Society of the Madison Family Descendants, said Roberts' claims are "without merit as now presented." Smith criticized a lack of genealogical documentation in Roberts' work.

"In the absence of a proved genealogy, fully documented for each generation and individual claimed, we cannot consider these celebrity claims to be either 'authoritative' or valid, Smith wrote in an e-mail.
Genealogy is a funny thing. With my Dad's family being from Ireland and my Mom's from Sweden, I could probably trace some tenuous ancestry to both Brian Boru and the present King of Sweden. But I'm not gonna bother.

PC watch

Breaking new ground in PC idiocy, the town council in Tunbridge Wells, England has banned the use of the term 'brainstorming' in favor of 'thought showers'. Why, you ask? It was felt that 'brainstorming' might offend epileptics.
Brainstorming, first coined in the 1890s, was used by psychiatrists to refer to severe nervous attacks. And although since the 1940s it has meant a meeting to produce new ideas, councillors are concerned it may prove offensive to epileptics.
They should have checked first with the subject matter experts:
The National Society for Epilepsy said this was unlikely. It surveyed members three years ago to ask whether they found the phrase offensive.

Spokesman Amanda Cleaver said: 'The answer was a resounding No. It certainly wasn't deemed offensive at all. People thought it was a great word to describe the coming together and discussion of ideas.'
With so many people and special interest groups claiming to be chronically offended, why is it that some people feel the need to inform groups that they should be offended?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hindu terrorists?

Frequent readers of anti-jihad blogs will be familiar with the running joke in which a blogger will write snarky comments about mainstream media outlets who refuse to identify Islamist terrorism with Islam, completely omitting any reference to the religious background of the perpetrators of a terrorist act. The articles usually end with something like "Huh...must have been Hindus or Buddhists, or something". Since Islamists pretty much have cornered the terrorism market, there's usually not much need to tell us in a news item that a bombing in, say, Tel Aviv was committed by Islamists. But that's not the reason the media often fails to identify the perpetrators for what they are...they do it because they're chickenshit PC left-wing nutjobs.

But that may all change if some Hindu nationalists have their way:
A powerful Hindu-nationalist political party in western India has called for Hindu suicide squads to counter Islamic terrorism, causing outrage and embarrassing the national opposition with which it is allied.

The inflammatory comments appeared on Wednesday in an unsigned editorial in Saamana, the official newspaper of the Shiv Sena, a regional party whose politics is based on nativist pride for the people of the state of Maharashtra.

"Islamic terrorism is on the rise in India and in order to counter Islamic terrorism, we should match it with Hindu terrorism," the unsigned editorial said in Marathi.

"Just like Islamic extremism, to safeguard the country and Hindus we must create Hindu suicide squads if Hindu society is to be saved."
I suspect the response from the average Hindu will be something less than enthusiastic.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Osama's "right-hand man in Europe" gives a shout-out to his peeps

Islamist freakazoid Abu Qatada, bailed this week by a British court on technical grounds, celebrated his release from prison by exhorting his followers to kill infidels in a short book published upon his release.
Suspected Al Qaeda leader Abu Qatada is celebrating his release from prison with the release of a book in which he urges Muslims to commit terrorist attacks in the West.

In the 71-page tract, published in English translation on the internet, he repeatedly claims that fighting jihad, holy war, is obligatory for all Muslims and urges them to 'terrorise' non-believers.

Security sources say his clear incitement to violence makes a mockery of the decision to set him free.
Making this even more outrageous is one of the conditions of his bail, which requires British Home Office permission before publication of any statement, article or book. So, either the government approved his incitement to violence or they're simply not enforcing the conditions of his release.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Red Sox watch

The good news is that we're in first place in the AL East, with the best record in the AL at .608, second best in the majors (behind the NL's Chicago Cubs at an astonishing .634). The bad news is that we just ain't gettin' it done on the road. We're doing great at home (28-7) but the road record is a dismal 17-22. Blech.

Meanwhile, the Evil Empire has won five straight and has moved to third place, but they're still 5.5 games out. Suck on that, New York.

If we can hold steady at home and improve our road record, a Boston-Chicago World Series is entirely within the realm of possibility. I'd actually hate to see that for the simple reason that I'd hate to root against the Cubbies.

Revealed: Math nerds responsible for crop circles

A new crop circle discovered in England suggests that crop circles are in fact made by a strange, alien life form. These life forms are commonly known on American college campuses as math geeks.
The most complex, "mind-boggling" crop circle ever to be seen in Britain has been discovered in a barley field in Wiltshire.

The formation, measuring 150ft in diameter, is apparently a coded image representing the first 10 digits, 3.141592654, of pi.

It is has appeared in a field near Barbury Castle, an iron-age hill fort above Wroughton, Wilts, and has been described by astrophysicists as "mind-boggling".
How tragic that these nefarious aliens chose a barley field. That's a lot of beer that will never be brewed.

'We are working on a fix for this and your breasts should be back to normal soon'

Online gamers of Age of Conan were dismayed to find that their female avatars' breasts had been digitally downsized.
Fans of the Age of Conan role-player game besieged internet forums with complaints after noticing that their custom-built characters had dropped several bra sizes.

Many were angry that their previously pert avatars - which they had spent hours creating into icons of exaggerated femininity - now appeared to have "saggy" breasts.

[ ... ]

Multi-player fantasy games like Age of Conan are particularly popular among teenage boys, but even some of the game’s female players were upset at the unannounced change.

"Funcom did reduce the size of the breasts. There is almost no cleavage, just a flat area between them. And YES they do sag," a player called Krystal wrote.

[ ... ]

In a message posted on a gamers' forum, it said that the maximum breast size had been reduced in error during a programming alteration carried out to fix other bugs.

It also promised that all affected characters would soon be re-enlarged

"Funcom can confirm that some of the female models in the game have had the size of their breasts changed," the statement said.

"This is due to an unintended change in data that was introduced in an earlier patch, data which controls the so-called morph values associated with character models and the size of their respective body parts.

"We are working on a fix for this and your breasts should be back to normal soon."
Now, get the hell out of the house and go find an actual woman.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Big shoes

A buddy of mine turned me on to Attack Cartoons a while back. I particularly liked this one.

Iraq: al-Qaeda's Vietnam

The analogies between Iraq and Vietnam started before we even invaded Iraq. Those analogies have finally been proven apt, but not for the US. Rich Lowry writes that if anything, Iraq is al-Qaeda's Vietnam.
Like we did in Vietnam, al-Qaeda in Iraq has run afoul of nationalism and local culture, although in spectacular fashion. It has trampled on the prerogatives of tribal sheiks and issued lunatic decrees, like its banning of the local bread in Mosul — sammoun — because it did not exist at the time of the Prophet.

Like we did in Vietnam, it overrelied on favored tactics even after they proved ineffective or counterproductive; with us, it was ever more bombing runs in the North and search-and-destroy missions in the South, while in al-Qaeda’s it has been mass-casualty suicide bombings.

Like we were in Vietnam, al-Qaeda was sucked into a conflict not of its choosing by the geopolitical assertion of its adversary.
Finally some parallel lines that don't intersect.

Creative headlines

A buddy of mine, a former Marine, e-mailed me this today. In the wake of the media smear of cracker right-wing bloggers over the non-existent Michelle Obama video, I thought it was timely.
A biker is riding by the zoo, when he sees a little girl leaning into the lion's cage.

Suddenly, the lion grabs her by the cuff of her jacket and tries to pull her inside to slaughter her, under the eyes of her screaming parents.

The biker jumps off his bike, runs to the cage and hits the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch.

Whimpering from the pain the lion jumps back letting go of the girl, and the biker brings her to her terrified parents, who thank him endlessly.

A New York Times reporter has watched the whole event. The reporter addressing the biker says, 'Sir, this was the most gallant and brave thing I saw a man do in my whole life.'

The biker replies, 'Why, it was nothing, really, the lion was behind bars.I just saw this little kid in danger, and acted as I felt right.'

The reporter says, 'Well, I'll make sure this won't go unnoticed. I'm a journalist from the New York Times, you know, and tomorrow's paper will have this story on the front page... So, what do you do for a living and what political affiliation do you have?''

The biker replies, 'I'm a U.S. Marine and a Republican.'

The journalist leaves..

The following morning the biker buys The New York Times to see if it indeed brings news of his actions, and reads, on front page:


Monday, June 16, 2008

Smear campaign against righty bloggers?

I've been following off and on the unfounded rumors of a video tape in which Michelle Obama refers disparagingly to white Americans as "whitey". The rumor was first floated in the waning days of Hillary Clinton's campaign, just before she (sort of) conceded defeat to Barack Obama.

The tape, of course, never materialized and it's nearly certain that it never existed. Once that became apparent, mainstream media started piling on conservative bloggers, blaming them for floating the rumor. There are just a couple of problems with that.

First of all the rumor appears to have been first floated by Larry Johnson, a Hillary Clinton supporter. Here's a screen shot just in case the blog post gets flushed down the memory hole and the link doesn't work:

Second of all, conservative blogs - at least the ones I read - were unanimously skeptical about the existence of the tape. Check out Hot Air's initial reaction here, and Little Green Footballs here.

But shortly after the tape rumor started, Bob Beckel appeared on Fox News Channel and appeared to advance the rumor, claiming a "shoe" was about to drop on Michelle Obama. Most astonishingly, Beckel appeared yesterday on FNC claiming he tried to debunk the rumor, and blaming "crackers and right-wingers" for the rumor. Charles at LGF has it all here.

Finally, both NY Times and ABC news, among others added to the chorus blaming conservative bloggers for the hoax.

I'm not generally given to conspiracy theories, but this smacks of an organized effort to discredit and marginalize right-wing bloggers ahead of the national elections. Amazing.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Farewell, Tim Russert

I just got home after my flight back from Las Vegas (hence the lack of posting for the past week), and saw on the news that Tim Russert died. That's a damned shame, and he'll be sorely missed. He was a tough interviewer, and gave nobody a pass with softball questions, regardless of political stripe.

I ran into Tim Russert (almost quite literally) at a bar in Georgetown a few years back. I was turning away from the bar after getting my beer, and almost plowed right into him, beer and all. A graceful dodge on his part averted disaster.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

What might have been (but thankfully wasn't)

At The Daily Mail, writer Ian Kershaw provides an excerpt from his book Ten Decisions That Changed The World, in which he describes a world after Hitler's army pressed the attack on Dunkirk in May 1940 before the Brits could evacuate.
Before the Brussels Conference, Hitler had stipulated three conditions for acceding to negotiations. Churchill must be replaced as prime minister and denied participation in the peace talks. Forced to hand in his resignation, Churchill and his family fled into exile to Canada the following day.

Second, neither the British nor French navies were to be moved from their present positions.

The third condition demanded the signing of the peace agreement in two locations. The British would sign at the war memorial on the Somme, where Hitler had fought and been wounded in 1916, while the French would sign in the same railway carriage in the forest of Compiegne, where the Armistice to end the Great War - the ultimate German humiliation from Hitler's point of view - had been approved in 1918.

[ ... ]

Although Hitler permitted the British Empire to survive, he reduced it to a mere semblance of what it had once been. British rights in the oil fields of the Middle East were to be ceded to Germany, along with the mandated territories in the region and control over the Suez Canal.

Backed by his bellicose foreign minister, Ribbentrop, Hitler insisted on acquiring a swathe of British, French and Belgian colonies in Africa, establishing German rule over much of the African continent.

With Malta, Gibraltar, Algeria and Tunisia in Mussolini's hands - his part of the spoils from the Brussels Conference - the Axis powers dominated the entire Mediterranean.

The complete subservience of the defeated Western democracies to the German Reich was most unmistakably advertised with the disbandment of the French and British navies.

[ ... ]

Soon it became abundantly clear that U.S. interests would be confined to the American hemisphere. Staying out of war was the crucial task.

The U.S. continued its rearmament in case a German-dominated Europe should at some point seek to attack America. But with Britain and France defeated, American interests lay squarely at home. There was to be no provocation of Hitler, no attempt to engage in a conflict in the Atlantic.

Roosevelt looked to secure a naval agreement with Hitler that provided for the demilitarisation of the western Atlantic, leaving the U. S. Navy to concentrate on the looming danger from Japan in the Pacific.

[ ... ]

By early August, German forces reached Moscow. Stalin fled from the city, leading to the complete demoralisation of a Soviet population further threatened by the news that Japanese forces attacking through Mongolia and into Siberia had prompted the Red Army's headlong retreat from its eastern front. Forced back on the Central Asian republics, Stalin saw no other option but to sue for terms.

The subsequent territorial subtractions made the calamitous concessions of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918 look like minor losses.

Most important, the oil of the Caucasus fell to Germany. So did the granary of Ukraine.

[ ... ]

Japan also had greatly extended its material resources by virtue of its brutal occupation of much of South-East Asia.

Deprived of assistance from the Allies, Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek felt compelled to accept the harsh terms that the Japanese sought to impose.

These included China's joining the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, the euphemism chosen by Japan to designate the huge area of its newly captured 'living space'.

[ ... ]

What has happened to the Jews remains unclear. They have disappeared from sight, rounded up by the Germans and their collaborators in the occupied territories of Western Europe and shipped eastward. No one is sure of their subsequent fate. Terrible rumours circulated by underground resistance movements and intercepted by U.S. intelligence indicate that up to 11 million have been exterminated.
Read the whole thing.

In my estimation, not too much of a stretch. Seemingly small things, such as Germany's hesitation in attacking Britain and her allies at Dunkirk -- or of prematurely declaring victory in Iraq and leaving -- can have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences.

In UK, defending jihadis more profitable than fighting them

A lawyer in Britain has made nearly £1million (nearly $2 million US) over the past 12 months defending jihadis in British courts.
A lawyer who represents high-profile terror suspects was paid nearly £1million in legal aid in just 12 months.

Official figures show that taxpayers have handed Mudassar Arani's firm £3.5million to defend extremist suspects over recent years.

The Ugandan-born solicitor tells Muslims never to talk to police and warns that those who speak out against Islamic terrorists 'are playing into the hands of the Government'.

Her clients include hate cleric Abu Hamza, dirty bomb plotter Dhiren Barot and three of the 21/7 attackers.
I'm sure British soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan would just love to hear about this.

Bad news for jihadis: Brits flying Reaper drones, too

While I have mixed feelings over the future of unmanned (unpersoned?) strike aircraft, their effectiveness cannot be denied. Not to mention the added benefit of keeping more of our fighting men and women out of harm's way.

We've been using Predator UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and its follow-on, the Reaper, for several years now, most notably in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now the Brits have joined the club, having just purchased three Reapers from the US, and recently taking out a high-value Taliban target...from a control center in Nevada. The Brits are due to soon purchase a control system of their own and operate their UAVs from a control center in the UK.

UAVs have the capability of greatly reducing the monetary -- and more importantly, the human -- costs of waging aerial warfare. The aircraft and their ground crews still have to deploy to locations close to the action, but the pilots and weapons and sensor systems specialists can remain at their home stations, thousands of miles away.

We used to joke in my Air Force days that the Air Force was the only branch of the service smart enough to send mainly its officers (pilots are all officers) into combat. Seeing that the ground crews are mostly enlisted, I guess that's another Air Force tradition that'll die off.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Air Force shake-up

As I predicted last October, USAF heads are rolling due to last summer's mishandling of nuclear weapons, and a subsequent cock-up in which ballistic missile components were mistakenly shipped to Taiwan. Of course, anyone with half a brain could have predicted that. What I didn't figure was that the first heads to roll would be those of the AF Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the AF; respectively the top military and civilian members of the Air Force. These firings are sure to be the first of many, the next ones surely to be done by their replacements.

In last October's post, I laid the blame squarely at the feet of Gen. Merrill "Tony" McPeak, AF Chief of Staff in the early 1990s. It was his decision to merge Strategic Air Command (SAC) with Tactical Air Command (TAC) which I'm convinced led to the breakdown in discipline within USAF's nuclear forces. SAC, up until that time, was responsible for the Air Force's nuclear weaponry.

My brother Mark, another USAF vet like myself, e-mailed me this morning with his take:
How could things have gotten so bad that it has come to this? This sort of decay doesn't happen in a few years. It is most emphatically NOT due to OPS TEMPO from 2003.

It goes back farther. Like 1992 and the administration of Bush 41. Nuclear "incidents" in SAC would NEVER have been tolerated. Had "special weapons" been loaded on a BUFF when they shouldn't have been, every unit even tangentially connected to the incident would have had their commander replaced within days. Back in the day they may have tossed the Chaplains too, just to make sure.

But a poorly conceived re-organization started the decline. Its poor execution and revision under the Clinton administration hastened it.

The "Frenchification" of the Air Force was complete when they did away with regulations. We are quite possibly the only military orgainzation on the planet that has "intructions" instead of regulations. I still don't know what "Air Force Instruction" replaced 35-10. [AFR 35-10 was the regulation that prescribed dress and appearance. Everyone knew it. I don't know which "instruction" replaced it, either, and that came more than 10 years before I retired. --ed.] But what do I mean by the "Frenchification" of the USAF? Consider the reputation of the French military. Then consider the reputation of the French soldier. The individual soldier, and up to small units, are well regarded. For generations the French soldier, sailor and airman has performed on par with or better than his peers in other nations. So why the low regard for the French military as a whole, if it's made up of quality service men? Because as an organization it is brittle.

Steel is made by adding carbon to iron. It must be done right in order to get the desired change at the molecular level. If too little carbon is added the iron becomes the stuff used for wrought iron gates... Yes it's iron, but it's soft. It doesn't take much for a 7th grade girl to twist it. Add too much carbon and you skip the steel stage and go to cast iron. Take a sledge hammer to a steel pipe and you dent it. Take a sledge hammer to a cast iron pipe and you shatter it. There are many good uses for cast iron... but if you need flexibility and a sharp edge, cast iron is a loser.

The organizational fabric of the French military has been brittle since World War I. And now the USAF is headed down the same path.

It's not going to get better any time soon. Here's my prescription:
  1. Get rid of the Hollywood logo. Go back to the WWII winged star. The one MEN wore on their uniforms when they had higher casualty rates than all others in WWII.
  2. Train the way you want to be able to fight... Because you fight the way you train. Nuff said.
  3. Review every "instruction" - If it's any good, reissue it as a regulation. If it sucks delete it.
  4. Worry less about off-duty "hurt feelings" and concern yourself more with on-duty killing of the enemy.
  5. If basic trainees are taught one thing, it should be "The planes come first." Not a database, not a pee test, not even the soft ball game between CE and Supply.
  6. STOP changing the uniform... We are screaming to the world, and all of our members, that the Air Force doesn't "like itself". Well, it's just the idiots on the Uniform Board. If the AF leadership insists on a redesigned uniform, hire a couple of wardrobe guys from Hollywood (as long as they aren't connected to the new logo). Then promise to stick to the design for at least 10 years.
He makes some very valid points. Of course, many of the problems he rants about started with McPeak, and those that didn't, well, he's definitely the one who set the precedent for those who came after.

Oh, and one more thing about McPeak. He supports Obama, and will likely have a role in his administration should Obama get elected.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Judgment to lead?

It's often said that among the most important qualities for a leader, the ability to surround oneself with good people is at or near the top of the list. If that's true, then Barack Obama is miserably failing his first tests of leadership.

Everyone's heard of Obama's little church problem, with Jeremiah Wright and Pfanatical Pfather Pfleger leading the headlines there. Then there's the radical from the Weather Underground, William Ayers, with whom Obama has associated professionally. And just yesterday, Obama's buddy Tony Rezko was convicted for being an all-around sleaze ball. Also yesterday, Obama announced his little troika to select a running mate.

Obama's veep committee consists of:
  • Eric Holder, second to Janet Reno in Clinton's Justice Department, whose main contribution to "justice" was to push the Marc Rich pardon through at the end of Clinton's second term. The pardon made even most Democrats cringe.
  • Jim Johnson, former CEO of Fannie Mae, the quasi-public housing finance company. Under Johnson, FNMA came under a cloud of suspicion over transparency of executive compensation. Johnson's published compensation was $2 million, while his actual compensation was around $21 million.
  • Caroline Kennedy, daughter and only surviving child of John and Jackie Kennedy. Kennedy's the cleanest of the three, but as a writer and non-practicing attorney, I fail to see what qualifications she brings to the table other than her name.
See this link at Hot Air for Ed's assessment of Holder and Johnson and supporting data for Johnson's and Holder's misdeeds.

One can only hope that with the primaries done and Obama the presumptive Democratic nominee that the media will recover from its collective swoon and start paying attention to the quality of people with whom Obama surrounds himself.

Trials start today in Guantanamo Bay

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-identified mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, along with four others will go on trial today at a special military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay.
The military expects a confrontational hearing when the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and four alleged confederates are brought before a Marine colonel presiding over their war-crimes tribunal.

At an arraignment scheduled for Thursday, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was expected to make his first public appearance since being captured in Pakistan in 2003, held in CIA custody at secret sites and transferred to Guantanamo in 2006.

[ ... ]

The four defendants due to appear with Mohammed are: Ramzi Binalshibh, said to have been the main intermediary between the hijackers and al-Qaida leaders; Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, known as Ammar al-Baluchi, a nephew and lieutenant of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; al-Baluchi's assistant, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi; and Waleed bin Attash, a detainee known as Khallad, who allegedly selected and trained some of the 19 hijackers.
Expect howling and teeth-gnashing on a grand scale from the left on this. They'll say the trials are rigged and will, of course, completely ignore the fact that their earlier complaints were that these dirt bags were being held without trial.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Supplemental income

A police officer in Britain is supplementing his salary quite nicely through racial discrimination settlements with his employer.
Detective Sergeant Gurpal Virdi has been awarded £70,400 after being passed over for promotion for having exposed racial discrimination at Scotland Yard.

[ ... ]

In August 2000, Sgt Virdi was awarded £150,000 by a tribunal for racial discrimination by the Met when he was unfairly dismissed from the force.

[ ... ]

Sir John Stevens, then Commissioner, apologised and agreed Sgt Virdi should be paid another £90,000 compensation by the force for 'injury to his feelings'.
Good work if you can get it.

Political correctness vs. over-reaching statism

A Swedish couple has run afoul of Sweden's tax authorities...for naming their baby daughter 'Elvis'.
Swedish tax authorities have informed a couple in Stockholm that they may not keep the name Elvis for their five-month old daughter. The girl's parents have appealed the decision, Metro reports.

"We talked about lots of names and then Elvis popped up. We thought it was a name that was both pretty and gender-neutral. We're not Elvis Presley fans at all," the infant's mother, Linda, told the newspaper.

The most important factor for the couple, who do not own any of The King's records, was for the name to be "gender-neutral".
I don't know which party to rant about more...the couple whose "most important factor" in naming the baby was gender neutrality, or the state for presuming to dictate to its citizens what they can and cannot name their children.

Meanwhile, back in Jordan...

In the allegedly "moderate" Islamic state of Jordan, an organization there is seeking the deportation of eleven Danes to Jordan to face charges of, well, something to do with some silly-ass cartoons that offended Muslims.
Eleven Danes have been summoned to appear before the Jordanian pubic prosecutor to answer charges of blasphemy and threatening the national peace. They include the cartoonist who drew one of the Mohammed cartoons and editors from 10 of the 17 newspapers that reprinted them.

[ ... ]

Osama al-Bettar, the group's lawyer, said that if the Danes do not appear, the next step will be to inform Interpol and seek their arrest.

[ ... ]

However, the Danish foreign ministry has said that a forced deportation is not a possibility. It would require that the printing of the Mohammed cartoons is punishable in Denmark, which is not the case.
None of that will matter to the Islamist freakazoids, of course. Don't those silly Danes know that Islamic law knows no international boundaries?

Pakistani ambassador to Denmark: How you like us now?

The Pakistani ambassador to Denmark, Fauzia Mufti Abbas, had somewhat undiplomatic words for Danes in the wake of the Danish embassy bombing in Islamabad.
'It isn't just the people of Pakistan that feel they have been harassed by what your newspaper has begun,' she said. 'I'd like to know if your newspaper is satisfied with what it has done and what it has unleashed?'

[ ... ]

'Danes know that they have insulted people around the world by printing and reprinting the Mohammed cartoons, which were done in poor taste.'
Do the words persona non grata mean anything to you, Ms. Abbas?

'Vandalism, not terrorism'

I posted a few items here, here and here nearly two years ago about a synagogue in Oslo that got shot up. A suspect was quickly arrested, and charged with acts of terrorism against the synagogue, and planned acts of terrorism against the Israeli and American embassies. The suspect, one Arfan Qadeer Bhatti, was acquitted. It seems the court thought that firing shots at a synagogue was an act of vandalism, not terrorism.
The judge ruled that it couldn't be proved that either Bhatti or accomplice Andreas Bog Kristiansen entered into a binding and intentional agreement to carry out terrorist acts on the Israeli and American embassies. Heger said he could see no hard evidence for that, nor could he see that the shots fired at the synagogue amounted to a terrorist act.

Rather, he said, the court viewed the synagogue shooting as an act of serious vandalism. He conceded that the taped recordings of Bhatti’s verbal threats contained frightening thoughts and ideas, but ruled that they needed to be understood in their proper context.
This dirtbag doesn't get to walk, though. The article notes that he was convicted for other shootings and for attempted murder, and the court ordered him held under a Norwegian law for up to eight years or more.
Bhatti, who has a long criminal record, was thus ordered held in preventive custody for up to eight years, and possibly longer under the relatively harsh Norwegian sentence known as forvaring. It can result in indefinite custody.

Monday, June 02, 2008

'Global warming' irony alert

Roger at XDA posted on this last week, but I'm just now catching up. A luxury icebreaker full of eco-tourists went for a tour of the Arctic sea ice to get a view of it before it disappears forever due to global warming. In a delicious ironic twist, the ship got stuck in the sea ice, which apparently is unusually thick and solid for May.

From a writer aboard the ship, upon whom the irony wasn't lost:
I am on the bridge of the massive Russian icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, and the tension is palpable. We have hit ice - thick ice.

The ice master studies the mountains of white packed around the ship while the 24,000-horsepower diesel engines work at full throttle to open a path. The ship rises slowly onto the barrier of ice, crushes it and tosses aside blocks the size of small cars as if they were ice cubes in a glass. It creeps ahead a few metres, then comes to a halt, its bow firmly wedged in the ice. After doing this for two days, the ship can go no farther.

The ice master confers with the captain, who makes a call to the engine room. The engines are shut down. He turns to those of us watching the drama unfold, and we are shocked by his words: “Now, only nature can help this ship.” We are doomed to drift.

What irony. I am a passenger on one of the most powerful icebreakers in the world, travelling through the Northwest Passage - which is supposed to become almost ice-free in a time of global warming, the next shipping route across the top of the world - and here we are, stuck in the ice, engines shut down, bridge deserted. Only time and tide can free us.
I read not long ago a book by Dan Simmons entitled The Terror. It's a work of fiction about the actual ill-fated Northwest Passage exploration by HMSs Erebus and Terror in the mid 19th century. In those days, England actively sought a shorter passage to the Pacific, and it was believed that the Northwest Passage was just the ticket. Years of exploration of the Arctic seas and land masses showed even then that in some years, the summer ice opened up more than enough for the passage of ships, and other summers the ice never relented. The ships Erebus and Terror, along with their crews, were lost when they were locked in the sea ice for two or three straight summers after previous years of easy summer going.

The recent summers of relatively clear Arctic sea ice are nothing new, and are being followed now by a summer of unusually thick summer sea ice, which is also nothing new.

Bishop: Climate change deniers as bad as that Austrian sex dungeon guy

Extreme hyperbole alert:
An Anglican Bishop has compared people who fail to take action to prevent global warming to the Austrian man who allegedly locked his daughter in a cellar for 24 years, repeatedly raping her and fathering seven of her children.

The Bishop of Stafford, Gordon Mursell, said that by failing to face up to the truth about climate change, we were - like Josef Fritzl - denying our children a future.
Yup...that goes a real long way to enhancing the credibility of the global warming/climate change crowd.

UK airport security a joke, too

While US airport security is busy frisking grandmothers and elderly nuns, British airport security is busy targeting travelers with cartoon t-shirts.
An airline passenger claimed that a security guard threatened to arrest him because he was wearing a T-shirt showing a cartoon robot with a gun.

Brad Jayakody, 30, from London, said he was stopped from passing through security at Heathrow's Terminal 5 after his Transformers T-shirt was deemed 'offensive.'

The IT consultant was set to fly off on a business trip to Dusseldorf in Germany when he was pulled to one side.

Mr Jayakody said the first guard started joking with him about the Transformers character depicted on his French Connection T-shirt.

'"Then he explains that since Megatron is holding a gun, I'm not allowed to fly,' he said.

Neo-Soviet Russia abandons brief flirtation with freedom

Neo-Soviets to gay demonstrators: Nyet!

A gay rights demonstration in Moscow was quickly put down in what's becoming an increasingly familiar theme in Russia.
Russia's gay rights movement faces oblivion after riot police and the Orthodox Church joined forces to stifle a protest in Moscow.

Yuri Luzkhov, Moscow's mayor, had already banned the city's third Gay Pride march after dismissing homosexuals as Satanists.

[ ... ]

The manner in which the demonstrations were held reflects the Kremlin's increasing intolerance for all forms of public protest.

Political demonstrations in the past two years have been stamped on by the police with increasing brutality.
The government there today is pretty much like the one there pre-1990 or so, but without all the catchy slogans and red banners.

Taliban 'on brink of defeat'?

Through massive attrition (some 7,000 dead bad guys in the past two years) and combat losses in the leadership, one British officer offers an optimistic assessment of the situation in Afghanistan.
Missions by special forces and air strikes by unmanned drones have "decapitated" the Taliban and brought the war in Afghanistan to a "tipping point", the commander of British forces has said.

The new "precise, surgical" tactics have killed scores of insurgent leaders and made it extremely difficult for Pakistan-based Taliban leaders to prosecute the campaign, according to Brig Mark Carleton-Smith.

In the past two years an estimated 7,000 Taliban have been killed, the majority in southern and eastern Afghanistan. But it is the "very effective targeted decapitation operations" that have removed "several echelons of commanders".

This in turn has left the insurgents on the brink of defeat, the head of Task Force Helmand said.
So much for the dreaded 'Spring Offensive' inaccurately predicted by the left-wing media every year.

Danish embassy in Pakistan bombed

A bomb was detonated outside the Danish embassy in Pakistan, killing at least eight.
There are at least eight dead and four wounded after an explosion outside Denmark's embassy in Pakistan, reports Danish television news TV2, citing local sources.

The explosion caused extensive damage to the embassy building and nearby cars. Large back clouds of smoke could be seen high above Islamabad.
And so it begins continues.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Pope blows off seven world leaders so he can blow off Ahmadinejad

Pope Benedict refused meetings with several heads of state so that he could blow off Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without seeming to blow him off.
Benedict XVI has cancelled meetings with seven world leaders to avoid an encounter with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

Mr Ahmadinejad is one of 40 heads of state arriving in Rome on Tuesday for a vital United Nations summit on the world’s food crisis.

[ ... ]

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, President Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, President Evo Morales of Bolivia and several African leaders also asked for a papal meeting.

The Vatican briefly considered a single audience for all the heads of state.

However, it eventually decided to refuse all the requests in order to avoid any potential embarrassment. It did not comment further on the decision.
Good move. That Pope Benedict refused meetings with heads of state he clearly would have otherwise met with sends a more clear message, I think, than just refusing Ahamadinejad alone.