Just Too Funny

April 5, 2007

Grill Scouts
From Novosti, a Russian news service:

The government of Belgium’s French-speaking region of Wallonia, which has a population of about 4 million, has approved a tax on barbequing, local media reported.

Experts said that between 50 and 100 grams of CO2, a so-called greenhouse gas, is emitted during barbequing. Beginning June 2007, residents of Wallonia will have to pay 20 euros {$26} for a grilling session.

The local authorities plan to monitor compliance with the new tax legislation from helicopters, whose thermal sensors will detect burning grills.

Scientists believe CO2 emissions are a major cause of global warming

Good thing helicopters don’t emit any CO2!



Bush’s Approval Rating High Among Middle Eastern Communists

April 4, 2007



New York Post

April 1, 2007 — WHILE elements of the Left in the United States and Europe are calling on Western democracies to abandon Afghanistan and Iraq to the Taliban and al Qaeda and surrender to the Khomeinists in Iran, new alliances are emerging against the jihadists in the region. In much of the Middle East, most notably Afghanistan and Iraq, the Left is part of these new alliances.

* In Iraq, two rival Communist parties, along with Social Democrats and other center-left groups, supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and continue to play a significant role in the new pluralist system. They are resolutely opposed to a premature withdrawal of American and allied forces, as demanded by the U.S. Congress.

* In Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party is at the heart of the democratic movement to against the Islamic Republic’s attempt to dominate the country through its Hezbollah surrogates. The Lebanese democratic movement includes other parties of the Left, notably the Socialist Salvation Movement (Inqadh) and the Movement of the Democratic Left.

* In Iran, virtually the whole of the Left rejects President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-Americanism and calls for normalization of ties with the United States. The recently created independent trade-union movement is emerging as a vocal challenger to Khomeinism.

Perhaps the most interesting new anti-jihadist alliance, however, is taking shape in Afghanistan. After months of discussions the leaders of several parties that had fought each other for two decades have come together to set up a new alliance called Popular Front (Jibheh Melli).

One major figure in the group is Burhaneddin Rabbani – an Islamic scholar who served as Afghanistan’s president after the Communist regime’s collapse in 1992. As founder and leader of Jami’at Islami (Islamic Society), Rabbani was one of the first Afghan leaders who started the resistance movement against Soviet occupation. Yet Rabbani has agreed to enter the Popular Front along with leaders of Afghanistan’s dissolved Communist Party.

Both rival wings of the Communist Party will be present in the new front. One wing, known as Parcham (The Banner) had always been pro-Soviet; the other, known as Shoeleh-Javid (Eternal Flame), had Maoist sentiments.

The new front will also include center-left figures such as Nuralhaq Olumi and Muhammad Gulabzvi, along with anti-Soviet mujahedin commanders such as Gen. Muhammad Qassim Fahim, a former defense minister.

BEFORE the U.S.-led inter ventions in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, much of the Middle Eastern Left shared the views of its U.S. and European counterparts with regard to America.

“We looked to the Left in the West and imitated it,” says Awad Nasir, one of Iraq’s best-known poets and a life-long Communist. “We heard from the United States and Western Europe that being Left meant being anti-American. So we were anti-American. And then we saw Americans coming from the other side of the world to save us from Saddam Hussein – something that our leftist friends and the Soviet Union would never contemplate.”

Mustafa Kazemi, spokesman for the new Afghan front, expresses similar sentiments. “Our nation is still facing the menace of obscurantism and terror from Taliban and al Qaeda,” he says. “Thus, we are surprised when elements of the Left in the United States and Europe campaign for withdrawal so that our new democracy is left defenseless against its enemies.”

IRAQ’S parties of the Left were shocked when the new Socialist government in Spain decided to withdraw from the U.S.-led coalition in 2004. “We had hoped that with a party of the Left in power in Madrid we would get more support against the Islamofascists, not a withdrawal,” says Aziz al-Haj, the veteran Iraqi communist leader.

Tareq al-Hashemi, vice president of Iraq, has also gambled his impeccable progressive record on the success of the pluralist experiment in his country. “Our enemy is al Qaeda, not the United States,” he says.

Jumblatt, the Lebanese leader, says he realized that his life-long anti-Americanism had been misplaced when he saw “long lines of people, waiting to vote in Iraq, in the first free election in an Arab country.”

Samir Qassir, a Lebanese center-left leader murdered by the Syrians, often spoke of anti-Americanism as “the last refuge of the scoundrel” in the Middle East. “Politics is always a question of choice,” Qassir said in one of his last articles. “Here in the Middle East, we face a choice between democracy and alliance with the United States on one hand and surrender to religious fanatics and terrorists on the other.”

SKIMMING through the Middle Eastern press these days can produce unexpected results. It’s not rare to see a virulently anti-American article by an American or Western European leftist – and, alongside it on the same page, a pro-American article from an Arab, Iranian or Afghan progressive figure.

In Iran, for example, Hussein Shariatmadari – the ultra-Islamist editor of the daily newspaper Kayhan and a theoretician of the extreme right – often admiringly cites such American leftist figures as Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Jane Fonda.

Having all but abandoned its traditional opposition to capitalism and the bourgeois democratic system, much of the Western Left is forced to cling to anti-Americanism as its backbone.

To be sure, anti-Americanism is not the ailment of the Western Left alone. Extreme-right parties are also vehemently anti-American. Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the French neofascist National Front, is as opposed to the new democratic Iraq as Spain’s Socialist Premier Jose Luis Zapatero.

In the Middle East, however, a good part of the Left, while not especially enamored of the United States, sees it as an ally against Islamist and totalitarian pan-Arab movements.

Anti-Americanism is a luxury we cannot afford in the Middle East,” says Adnan Hussein, a leftist Iraq writer recently picked by the Financial Times as one of the 50 most influential columnists in the world. “Blinded by anti-Americanism, the Left in the West ends up on the same side as religious fascists and despots.”

Parviz Khosravi, a veteran of Iran’s Communist movement, cites history as justification for the Left’s rejection of “banal anti-Americanism.”

“During the Second World War, all movements of the Left supported an alliance with the Western democracies led by the United States because the common enemy was Fascism,” he says. “Today, we are in a similar position. Progressive forces in the Middle East are threatened by an Islamist version of Fascism. An alliance with Western democracies is not only desirable but necessary.”

PRESIDENT Bush, the bete noire of liberals and leftists in the West, might be surprised to learn that he has a better image among liberals, leftists, secularists and even moderate Islamists in the Middle East.

While Chomsky and Moore see the United States as “an evil power,” many leftists in the Middle East see it as a force for good that ended the tyranny of the Taliban in Afghanistan, dismantled the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and forced the Syrians out of Lebanon after 30 years of occupation.

“In our region, the United States has become a force for the good,” says Jumblatt, who recently met President Bush at the White House for a surprise meeting.

Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri is based in Europe.


Deja Vu All Over Again

April 1, 2007

Munich Betrayal 1938


Iranian Hostage Crisis 1979


British Hostages 2007


The smell of irresolution

For weeks, there had been noticeably less bloodshed and chaos in Iraq’s most dangerous areas. The number of civilians murdered in Baghdad, for example, had dropped from 1,222 in December to 954 in January to 494 in February. US military deaths had dropped 20 percent during the first month of General David Petraeus’s new counterinsurgency strategy , while the number of suspected terrorists captured had soared tenfold.

Nevertheless, the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate chose to move ahead with legislation requiring the United States to withdraw its troops from Iraq. Of course a US withdrawal is precisely what Al Qaeda wants — Osama bin Laden has crowed that “the failure of the United States . . . in Iraq will mean defeat in all their wars.” Wouldn’t it have made more sense, then, for the terrorists to continue lying low, doing nothing that might queer the American retreat?

What could Al Qaeda have hoped to gain by shattering this relative lull with last week’s horrific attacks? The carnage included a suicide bombing in a Baghdad market that killed at least 60 people, mostly women and children, and a triple car-bomb massacre in Diyala province that left 28 civilians dead. But why now? With Washington’s top Democrats embracing the surrender agenda — Senate majority leader declared on Tuesday that “this war is not worth the spilling of another drop of American blood” — why would the terrorists unleash a renewed wave of slaughter and mayhem?

For that matter, why would Iran have chosen this moment to seize 15 British sailors and marines? One of the hostages was forced to write a letter urging the British government “to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq and let them determine their own future.” But Britain has been withdrawing its forces from Iraq, reducing troop levels from 40,000 in 2003 to just 7,100 as of February. Prime Minister Tony Blair recently announced that 1,600 more troops will be pulled out this spring. So what was the point of Iran’s unprovoked ambush?

The answer in both cases is that this is how totalitarian aggressors react to faintheartedness.

“In Middle Eastern warfare,” writes retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters in the New York Post, “a classic tactic has been to retreat in the face of strength, but to attack when your enemy withdraws or shows signs of weakness.” British troop pullouts and congressional cut-and-run votes prompt not fewer outrages and less mayhem, but more. The smell of irresolution doesn’t satiate the totalitarians’ appetite; it makes it keener.

Six years after Sept. 11, and so many people still refuse to absorb this fundamental fact of life.

The United States reacted with diffidence to the kidnapping of its citizens and the bombing of its embassies, so the jihadists attacked the Pentagon and destroyed the Twin Towers. Israel abandoned Gaza to the Palestinians, and the Palestinians turned turned Gaza into a launching pad for increased terror. The new Democratic leadership trumpets its eagerness to leave the Iraqi people to the mercy of barbarians? The barbarians pocket their gains and go on killing.

Bernard Lewis, the renowned scholar of Islam and the Middle East, was recently quoted as saying that too many political leaders today exemplify “the spirit of Munich — a refusal to acknowledge the danger we face and a belief that through accommodation we can avoid conflict.” He added, sadly: “I look around and I see more Chamberlains than Churchills.”

But that may be unfair to the British prime minister whose name is a synonym for 1930s-era appeasement. Once Neville Chamberlain realized that Adolf Hitler was unappeasable, he declared war on Nazi Germany. Today every member of Congress knows exactly what radical Islamists are capable of. Some who voted last week for a fixed deadline to withdraw US troops from Iraq had previously warned that any such deadline would be disastrous. Senator Hillary Clinton, for example, said in 2005: “I don’t believe it’s smart to set a date for withdrawal. I don’t think you should ever telegraph your intentions to the enemy so they can await you.”

The enemy hasn’t changed since 2005. Nor have the stakes in this war, nor the courage and commitment of the American troops fighting it. What has changed is control of Congress, and the air is heavy with the smell of irresolution.


April 1, 2007

Mubabe’s Mess

Investor’s Business Daily

March 30, 2007

Africa’s Ills: Famine, disease, crumbling infrastructure, poor education, shrinking incomes — these are just a few of Africa’s afflictions. And, as Zimbabwe shows, many are self-inflicted.

African leaders often point fingers at the West for “not doing enough.” But last week’s meeting of the Southern African Development Community shows why sensible wealthy nations are reluctant to give aid.

For at that meeting, some of Africa’s so-called leaders disgraced themselves by endorsing the brutal, murderous regime of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe’s 27 years of misrule have taken a country that was once prosperous — the breadbasket of Africa, it was called — and turned it into a poverty-stricken hellhole rife with famine, genocide and terror, and lacking rule of law.

The Heritage Foundation’s recent Index of Economic Freedom ranked Zimbabwe 154th out of 157 countries in terms of economic freedom — and dead last in Africa.

“Corruption is endemic, inflation is in triple digits, most economic activity is informal, and controversial land reform has seriously undermined agricultural production,” the report said. Gee, tell us what you really think.

Sadly, that description doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what Mugabe has wrought. His thugs have taken to beating and jailing thousands of his opponents.

The U.S. State Department’s 2006 human rights report scored Mugabe for his “unlawful killings and politically motivated kidnappings,” along with routine use of torture.

Seizures of farms from highly productive farmers have led to widespread hunger. Meanwhile, economic mismanagement has sent inflation soaring to 1,700% a year. Real output per person has plunged two-thirds since 2003.

With the economy imploding (see chart at link below), the government has simply taken to printing money. Faced with such economic chaos, more than 3 million people — many of them Zimbabwe’s most productive citizens — have become refugees in neighboring countries.

Given that performance, you’d think Mugabe would come in for a bit of criticism by other leaders in the region.

But you’d be wrong. At the SADC meeting, 14 leaders issued a communique in which they, as the Times of London put it, “reaffirmed their solidarity” with Mugabe. That is, they supported a murderous dictator and even called on the West to drop sanctions against his regime.

The very day the SADC repeated its support for the 83-year-old tyrant, the U.N. issued a frightening forecast of more starvation for Zimbabwe, where some 1.4 million people are, in U.N. parlance, “food insecure.”

Zimbabwe once had plentiful food — it even exported it to neighbors. Today it needs 1.8 million metric tons of food to feed its people, but grows a third of that.

After all this, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the European Union had the temerity to say Friday he’ll soon seek “substantial” food aid from Europe.

If the EU has any sense of morality, it will say sure — we’ll give you all the food you need. But Mugabe has to go.

Sadly, they won’t do that. Because even as Zimbabwe prepared its request for European food aid, Mugabe was announcing in Harare that he’ll be “running” for president in 2008. If the past is any guide, his foes will be beaten, arrested, tortured, disappeared or forced into exile.

And Zimbabwe’s horrors will multiply.

We remember well in the 1980s, when the anti-apartheid movement — including African nations — agitated forcefully for sanctions and a cutoff of trade and aid to South Africa’s apartheid regime. It worked.

In fairness, we call on the world to apply the same tough sanctions against Zimbabwe and Mugabe, whose crimes far outstrip anything of which South Africa’s rulers were guilty. No more aid — until Mugabe goes.


Must See BBC TV

March 31, 2007

I never thought I’d say this, but the BBC has produced one of the best Televised Journalism pieces I have ever seen. On Global Warming, no less. The ultra liberal BBC, the British version of PBS, has tied together the most comprehsive coverage of the science, along with the economic, political and historical background to understand how we got where we are today.

No plane ticket needed, it’s on You Tube, linked here:


I promise, you’ll never think of Global Warming in the same way again.

Tortured Logic For Sure

March 31, 2007

Speaking about the latest Dem attempt to defund the troops in Iraq:


“Four of the bill’s most consistent critics said Thursday they had told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi they would help round up support despite their intention to vote against it.

“Despite my steadfast opposition, I have told the speaker that I will work with her to obtain the needed votes to pass the supplemental, but that in the end I must vote my conscience,” said Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif.



Let’s see if I have this right.

It would violate their conscience to vote for the bill, so they will vote against it, and merely encourage others to vote for it?

So therefore, they cannot be denounced for voting against it, which is apparently what their constituents want, but they can encourage their compatriots to vote against their vote ? Vote as I say, not as I do ?

Or, vote against my conscience, please !


The Fear Mongering Complex

March 21, 2007

The Media Likes Scaring US, and We Like It.

By John Stossel

I’m embarrassed by my profession.

We consumer reporters should warn you about life’s important risks, but instead, we mislead you about dubious risks.

I first started thinking about this when interviewing Ralph Nader years ago, before he stopped speaking to me. Nader worried about almost everything: Food? “It can spoil in your own refrigerator,” Chicken? “[It’s] contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides.” Flying? “Inadequate maintenance.” Carpets? “Rugs are dirt collectors. And dirt collectors mean internal, indoor air pollution.” Coffee? “Caffeine is not very good for you.”

He went on and on. Just interviewing him was exhausting. Nader and interest groups like his fuel the Fear Industrial Complex: the network of activists, government bureaucrats, and trial lawyers who profit by scaring people.

The media should be skeptical of their prophesies of doom, but we rarely are.

My TV program, “20/20,” has done frightening reports on the dangers of paper shredders, soccer goals, lawn chemicals, cell phones, garage-door openers, and more. There’s always some truth behind the scares — someone got hurt, or some study somewhere found a risk. But we rarely put the danger in perspective. We give you a breathless rush of alarm over every possibility, often delivered with a throbbing rock beat.

Sometimes we don’t even get the numbers right. Remember the summer of the shark? It was nonsense. That summer the number of shark attacks was hardly different from two previous years. But in those other years we had an election to cover, or OJ was on trial. Mid-summer 2001 didn’t bring many sexy stories, so Time did a cover story on “the Summer of the Shark.”

It should have embarrassed the media into putting risks in perspective. But it didn’t.

Listening to us, you’d think our growing exposure to pesticides, food additives, and other mysterious chemicals has created America’s “cancer epidemic.” But in truth there is no cancer epidemic — cancer incidence is flat, and death rates have been falling for years. But such good news doesn’t get much play. No interest groups benefit from it.

Remember the breast-implant scare? Some lawyers and activists said silicone from breast implants caused lupus, breast cancer, and more. Connie Chung did a scare story on CBS, the FDA banned silicone implants, and soon many women were certain that their medical problems were caused by their implants.

How could they not think that? The Fear Industrial Complex told them they were being slowly poisoned. Lawyer John O’Quinn helped spread the fear and reaped the reward. He sued implant makers again and again until they paid his clients over $1 billion. Fortune called O’Quinn and his partner “lawyers from hell.” O’Quinn won’t say how much money he made off those lawsuits, but he’s now rich enough to have a warehouse that holds 900 valuable cars.

After the suits from O’Quinn and others bankrupted implant maker Dow Corning, and after many women were terrorized — some so much they cut their own breasts open to get the implants out — scientists started saying there’s no evidence that silicone causes autoimmune disease and cancer. Study after study failed to find a link. Sherine Gabriel, chair of the department of health sciences research at the Mayo Clinic, announced that there was “no significant difference in the occurrence of connective tissue diseases between the women who had the implants and the women who did not.”

The FDA has now re-approved silicone implants, and thousands of women are having implants inserted, implants that contain the very same silicone that was used before.

So has O’Quinn apologized for scaring women and bankrupting Dow Corning? No. Did he give the money back? Of course not. The lawyers never do.

Instead, O’Quinn impugns the authors of the medical studies. “Who bought and paid for that science?” he said to me, indignantly. He told me he’s proud to sue rich businessmen.

Reporters rely on lawyers like O’Quinn, bureaucracies like the FDA, and interest groups like Nader’s to give us safety warnings and “dirt” on evil companies. We should be more skeptical. The Fear Industrial Complex has motives of its own.