Tuesday, January 31, 2006
It was so great to see Justice Alito at the State of the Union, in his judicial robe, on the same day he was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in.
Before the President's arrival, preliminary news was reported that Cindy Sheehan, a guest of Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), was "detained" and removed from the Capitol in handcuffs. Here is the AP report.
As President Bush arrived, he was trailed by Congressional leaders: Frist, Blunt, Pelosi. I didn't see Reid, but behind Nancy Pelosi was Barak Obama. Last I looked, Obama wasn't an official Senate leader. Hillary Clinton was already seated, but Obama came in with the leaders. Interesting, and it may mean something.
As an aside, it was scary that I recognized so many faces and had names to go with them. I'm turning into a political geek.
I loved how President Bush opened the speech:
Today our Nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken from her so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King.
There were so many things he said in the speech that stood out. Too many--I know, because my post was getting too long, and I had to cut a lot. Here are some of them.
But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger.
Tell that to Senator Kennedy, whose face reddened (and blood pressure probably raised) as he angrily called for the defeat of Alito's nomination.
Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer, and so we will act boldly in freedom's cause.
At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half - in places like Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran - because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom as well.
I'm really glad he included Zimbabwe, because Robert Mugabe is making it a hell-hole.
There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honor in retreat.
Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning. (Republicans: standing ovation. Democrats: seated.)
And those who know the costs also know the stakes. Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting the enemy in Fallujah. He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American. Here is what Dan wrote: "I know what honor is. It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to.... Never falter! Don't hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting."
Staff Sergeant Dan Clay's family was given a long standing ovation.
The Palestinian people have voted in elections — now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace.
[T]he nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons.
I ask you to reauthorize the Patriot Act. (Republicans: standing ovation. Democrats: seated.)
America is always more secure when freedom is on the march. (Applause on both sides. Fox News showed Hillary Clinton. She was clapping but wasn't happy about it.)
On the domestic side:
Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing.
I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent. (Republicans: standing ovation. Democrats: seated and not even clapping.)
Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security (Democrats: standing and cheering).
I am pleased that Members of Congress are working on earmark reform. (Very happy John McCain.)
I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year.
Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment ... move beyond a petroleum-based economy ... and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.
He proposed the Advanced Energy Initiative to encourage research in alternate energy sources.
President also wants to encourage math and science education, and for this he proposed the American Competitiveness Initiative. But really, how will this happen when we have an entrenched education bureaucracy with crummy teachers who can't be fired and no real incentive to improve? How will math and science start looking impressive enough and sexy enough to encourage students to head in that direction?
Through the Helping America's Youth Initiative, we are encouraging caring adults to get involved in the life of a child — and this good work is led by our First Lady, Laura Bush.
I will continue to nominate men and women who understand that judges must be servants of the law, and not legislate from the bench.
Here are parts of how he closed the address:
Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing.
Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?
Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom's advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward - optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of victories to come.
The President's speech was well done. Not exciting, but not flat either. I am encouraged to hear him repeat his determination to defeat our enemies and pursue liberty. He said it many times and in many ways, in idealistic terms and in specifics. I hope he said it enough times that the Democrats had it sink in.
On the domestic side, I don't hold a lot of hope. The Democrats are too far around the bend with Bush Derangement Syndrome. But if some of what he proposed gets passed (permanent tax cuts and true medical liability reform please!), then we'll at least be off to a good start.
In Sunday's Beacon News Online, Gary Bisby of the Chicago Sun-Times reported on the latest effort by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). They want more humane treatment of fish by fishermen.
"Just like dogs and cats, fish feel pain, so if you wouldn't hook dogs through the mouth and drag them behind your car, you shouldn't hook fish through the mouth and drag them behind your boat," said Karin Robertson of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
PETA has come up with a "Code of Angling Ethics," which advises fishermen to use barbless hooks and handle fish with wet hands.
A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which issues fishing licenses, said, "We did receive the letter from PETA and are currently reviewing it."
I've heard some people at work say that they've heard other people making a big deal about how close the vote went for Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court (58 - 42). "Oh, look how divisive this nomination was!" "He didn't get broad support--not at all like Justice Ginsburg."
None of that matters. Alito's first name is now "Justice."
I'm not concerned about all the votes against Alito. This is an election year, and the Democrats needed to let some of their members--the ones up for re-election--have a chance to play to their base by voting against Alito. It's all posturing and party politics, and no doubt there will be other issues where the Republicans will hold similar votes.
Don't fret yourself. All is right for now with the judicial world.
Of these, I've seen Crash and Good Night, and Good Luck.
Crash was well-made, and the agenda was more subtle than usual, but it still had the obligatory cast of characters: oppressed, angry housewife, the misunderstood gang member, and the white racist cop who learns the error of his ways.
Good Night, and Good Luck was just plain boring. We had a group who went to see it, and one of the guys summed up the movie this way: "I watched the whole thing, but some of it was filtered through my eyelids." Exactly.
But Hollywood rewards those who toe the party line. When the time comes for the Oscars to be awarded, it won't much matter. The wrong movie will win, because the truly good movies weren't nominated.
Academy Awards: Big whoop.
Monday, January 30, 2006
All it will take, says the draft of a visionary proposal by the U.N. Development Program, is to getting (sic) rid of all the pesky nations of the world.
In fact, the plan endorsed by prominent world figures including Nobel laureates, bankers, politicians and economists to end nation-states as we know them is also designed to end health pandemics, poverty and "global warming." So far, the U.N. hasn't mentioned whether the proposal will do anything for obesity.
The goals of this program concern me, especially the goal of ending poverty. Didn't Lyndon Johnson fight a War on Poverty? And how successful was he?
And how will abolishing nations end health pandemics? Short of using the neutron bomb on everybody but me, health pandemics will come because that's the nature of, well, Nature.
Don't even get me started on global warming. I'm coming to the belief that global warming is a figment of some commie-socialist's imagination as a means of alarming the world's population enough that they'd be willing to abandon national sovereignty in favor of a Great Global Savior (GGS, aka UN). Remember (gasp!) the Ozone Hole? Nobody hears about it anymore, because it morphed into global warming, which is ever so much more alarming and worthy of UN control over everything.
Most of the focus of the U.N. plan is on global warming – a climate change phenomenon some consider to be more theory than reality. But it seems to be the central component in the U.N.'s globalization scheme for the future – the very organizing principal behind the push to eliminate borders, sovereign governments and autonomous nation-states.
If the scheme seems far-fetched, consider that it already has the backing of the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to the London Independent.
Of course the nations of France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Bill Gates (no doubt his foundation has a higher net worth than many of the countries currently in the UN) would approve of the UN taking over the world, because their leaders would have a better chance of running things than they do now. For them, it's all all about hamstringing and eventually decapitating (with a few other choice mutilations thrown in) the US on the world stage. The UK surprises me a little, though.
To justify the sweeping changes proposed by the commission, a new concept of "security" was offered. The U.N.'s mission under its present charter is to provide "security" to its member nations through "collective" action. The new concept expands the mission of the U.N. to be the security of the people – and the security of the planet.
Thus, in their speeches to the U.N.'s Millennium Assembly in 2000, both Secretary General Kofi Annan and President Bill Clinton made reference to this new concept, saying national sovereignty could no longer be used as an excuse to prevent the intervention by the U.N. to provide "security" for people inside national boundaries.
To provide security for the planet, the plan called for authorizing the U.N. Trusteeship Council to have "trusteeship" over the "global commons," which the plan defines to be: " ... the atmosphere, outer space, the oceans beyond national jurisdiction, and the related environment and life-support systems that contribute to the support of human life."
The UN wants to control our air, water, atmosphere, and everything beyond that, in the interest of protecting our health. It would eventually look like this:
No smoking, because it's bad for you. No popping popcorn in the microwaves at places of employment, because somebody might find the smell offensive. No drinking coffee, because it contributes to stress. You have to eat oatmeal, even if it makes you puke, because it lowers cholesterol. They will never stop.
The managed economy of the former Soviet Union will look like Disneyland (and Stalin will look like Walt Disney) by the time the UN gets done setting its controls in place.
Isn't anybody listening (or reading, whichever they do best)!?! Does the Bush administration want to keep supporting this organization that is hell-bent on destroying our nation one little piece at a time? God forbid the UN should succeed in getting their program established. I just pray the Lord will smack President Bush upside the head and wake him up to what's going on just down the road at the UN. We need to yank all funding to the UN and throw the bums out on their collective (pun intended) ear.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
So today I went with another friend who still hadn't seen Walk the Line. This was my second time, and I loved it just as much this time as I did the first.
What surprised me was that Walk the Line is still in my local movie theater. It opened November 18, 2005. It's now January 29, 2006, and the 3:20pm show was pretty-well filled. The main section (stadium seating) was crowded enough that a lot of people had to sit in the front section. More than two months after it opened!
Meanwhile, Tristan + Isolde, which I wanted to see, opened January 13, and is already gone from the theater. Too many new movies opening this weekend, I suppose, and this one didn't seem to get much publicity.
The long-time movies still playing, besides Walk the Line, are The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong.
You'd think that Hollywood might get a clue someday about what kind of movies normal Americans want to see. We like inspirational movies, movies that we don't have to worry about being disgusted or grossed-out by. We like movies that are uplifting rather than degrading. If Hollywood could only figure that out, they'd make a TON of money. And we'd feel safe going to the movies again.
We also want movies like Mr & Mrs Smith, with shooting and explosions and lots of broken glass.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
The first thing I found in the Chernus column was cynicism.
Before I go on, I want to explain that I have my own well-developed streak of cynicism, but it's tempered by a generally positive disposition. At work, even though I hate my job, I still spend my workdays in a cheerful mood. There is always something to enjoy in life, even if it's fleeting.
But when I read Chernus, I see a cynicism that seems firmly set in a negative, dismal outlook on the world. It can't be much fun to be him when he is looking at Middle East events.
There's plenty of public celebrating in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as Hamas relishes its victory. But I suspect that there's plenty of quiet, discrete celebrating going on in Israel, too. Certainly Bibi Netanyahu and his Likud followers must be delighted. The Hamas victory will give them fresh grist for their right-wing, hard-line mill and probably plenty of votes in the upcoming Israeli election.
The idea that he believes Netanyahu is delighted at the Hamas victory is disturbing, especially in light of Netanyahu's statements this past Thursday. But perhaps Chernus sees all events only in a political gain-or-loss context.
A sizeable portion of Israeli Jews are convinced that "the Palestinians" (as if several million people were all one person) really want to destroy the state of Israel. That deep-seated fear, more than anything else, keeps the Israeli public supporting harsh repressive policies in the Occupied Territories.
This statement is indicative of Chernus's predeliction within the column for making vague or unsupported accusations. What "harsh repressive policies in the Occupied Territories" is he talking about? Building a fence to make it harder for terrorists to blow up innocent Israelis? Since many of his readers are not familiar with Israeli policies or Palestinian daily life in a detailed way, it would have been helpful if he had specified a repressive policy or two.
The first statement in that paragraph, though, is even more stunning to me. His wording indicates that Chernus does not actually believe the destruction of Israel is a goal of "the Palestinians." Yet this flies in the face of the stated goal of Hamas (which the Palestinians just elected to govern them) to destroy Israel. And this goal was just reaffirmed by an alleged senior Hamas leader. More from Chernus:
What you won't hear, outside some left-wing Jewish circles (which continue to flourish, thankfully), is the story of how Israeli policies have sustained and promoted Hamas over the years. Israel started funding the fledgling Hamas nearly 30 years ago. Ever since, Israel has supported Hamas. The funding may have stopped (though maybe not; who knows?).
This is news to me, so I did a google search (israel fund hamas). I found one article (25 May 2003) in a website called Emperor's Clothes (dedicated to providing "information and analysis that exposes how the mainstream media deceives people about US foreign policy") that cites a June 18, 2002, UPI article as the source for the claim that Israel funded Hamas. The Emperor's Clothes article takes a step-by-step approach to discrediting the UPI claims of Israeli funding of Hamas. But I'm not sure how credible the Emperor's Clothes website is, since this same article later claims there is a "love affair between the PLO and the CIA."
Google also gave a link to an analysis piece in Prison Planet, which cites a UPI article (broken link) and provides a quote stating that Israel funded Hamas.
All the rest of the google results related to Hamas funding said they got their funds from Iran, Saudi Arabia, expatriate Palestinians, or charities in the US and Europe, including the Holy Land Foundation. Plus, a History of War article on Hamas has no mention of Israeli funding or supportive involvement in Hamas.
My gut reaction to this claim of Israeli funding of Hamas is that it is bogus but so beloved by Israel-haters on the Left, that they accept it as fact. Then again, that may be my own prejudice showing.
When a nation sends its youngsters, day after day, to be persecutors and executioners in an unjust cause, it creates a spiritual wound that can take generations to heal.
This is how the Left sees Israel: "persecuters and executioners in an unjust cause."
Here is how Chernus describes the way Hamas will govern:
It will moderate its rhetoric and its actions. And it will join secret talks with the Israeli government. But in those talks, Israel will be forced to confront the root of the problem -- not "terrorism," but occupation. Hamas never wavers on this point. It insists that all negotiation begin from this basic premise. In other words, it demands that all parties in the negotiation base the talks on reality rather than imagination. That's the only way to create a just and lasting peace.
Not "might moderate" but "will moderate." And the "reality" is that the problem is not terrorism but occupation. The Left sees Palestinian terrorism not as a problem but as the understandable, inevitable reaction to Israel's problem of occupation.
Israel and the U.S. are busy making pompous statements that they simply will not deal with a government that aims to overthrow another nation and relies on armed violence to do it.
By the same principle, of course, a Hamas-led government would have to refuse to deal with the U.S. until its troop leave Iraq--and with Israel until its troops leave Palestine. If you want to see leaders who rely on violence to overthrow and dominate other nations, you need look no further than the U.S. and Israel.
This is the heart of the Left: Excuse terrorists and the governments that support them, and always, always blame the US and Israel.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Moments after official election results this afternoon certified a large Hamas victory in Palestinian ballots, members of the terror group planted their green flags on the main parliament building in Ramallah, with some Hamas gunmen declaring hard-line Islamic law will soon be imposed in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian security sources in the area told WorldNetDaily.
The Hamas demonstration prompted clashes with rival activists from the currently ruling Fatah Party and highlighted longstanding worries Hamas will use its gains to impose a Taliban-like Islamist regime on the Palestinian population.
Final results released by the Palestinian Central Election Commission showed Hamas won 76 seats in 132-seat parliament, with the Fatah garnering only 43 seats.
Another WorldNetDaily article quotes a "senior Hamas leader" who reveals the plans Hamas has for the future (emphasis added).
Hamas, which catapulted to power in this week's Palestinian elections, will soon make public a "peace initiative" in which it will offer to trade strategic land with Israel, cease attempts to capture parts of Jerusalem, and sign a 10-year renewable cease-fire with the Jewish state, a top Hamas leader told WorldNetDaily during an exclusive interview.
But the Hamas leader said the plan, which he justified using Islamic tradition, is a temporary machination to ease international and U.S. hostility toward his group in hopes of receiving financial assistance, explaining Hamas will not give up its goal of destroying Israel.
Meanwhile, the People's Daily Online reports today that Iran is thrilled with the PA election results, quoting Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi.
"The Palestinian people faithfully chose the option of resistance and are to fully support it," the spokesman said.
As would be expected, Israel's reaction is slightly different. Ynet News reported yesterday on Likud Party Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks in the wake of the PA election. Here are some key quotes:
Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday "the state of Hamastan – an offshoot of Iran - has been established before our eyes.”
Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday "the state of Hamastan – an offshoot of Iran - has been established before our eyes.”
As to the speculations that Hamas will become more moderate now that it has won the elections, Netanyahu said, “This is what they said about the ayatollahs when they took control over Iran.
“We cannot reach an understanding with Hamas, as their main goal is to annihilate Israel. We must return to the Likud’s policy of deterrence,” he concluded.
It is clear to anyone who wants to see the truth: The Palestinians do not want peace. They were given a choice between peace with Israel in a two-state region (Palestine & Israel), with Abbas and his Fatah party on that side, or a one-state region (Palestine, after wiping Israel off the map), with Hamas. The Palestinian people, with free elections, sided with the group that is dedicated to destroying Israel.
Anyone who denies the genocidal desire of the Palestinian people is beyond being a fool. Those who will help Hamas, or go along with Hamas's programs, will be working on the side of genocide--the side of evil.
There is such a thing as bad publicity after all.
Creators of "Jerry Springer - The Opera," the musical that sparked outrage among conservative Christians when shown on British television, say protests and lobbying have dented ticket sales for a tour in what they call a blow to freedom of speech.
The entertainment industry's double-standard knows no bounds. In their eyes, freedom of speech applies only to themselves. They want to be allowed to produce shows that are offensive to Christians, and I don't have a problem with their right to do just that. But they complain that when Christians protest, the Christians are delivering a "blow to freedom of speech."
[T]he profanity-laden show...based on television host Jerry Springer's brash talk show, depicts Jesus being referred to as "a little bit gay" and features Eve attempting to fondle his genitals.
At least two Christian lobby groups, Christian Voice and the Christian Institute, have led a campaign against it, calling it gratuitously offensive and blasphemous.
They also argue that no one in Britain would dare put on a similar show depicting other religions in such an irreverent light.
The article later describes a time when someone did dare to put on a show about another religion:
Just over a year ago, a theater in the English city of Birmingham scrapped a play about a woman and her sick mother visiting a Sikh temple after hundreds of Sikhs gathered outside the playhouse and pelted it with stones.
When was the last time we heard about Christian protesters throwing stones?
The entertainers who scream the loudest to be allowed their own freedom of (offensive) speech are usually the ones who scream the loudest when the people they offend speak up. Theater owners can put on whatever shows they want to, but they're not guaranteed an audience.
Let the theater put on its Springer show. Let the protesters protest. And we'll see how long the show goes on.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
"There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands," Mr. Sada said. "I am confident they were taken over."
Mr. Sada's comments come just more than a month after Israel's top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Moshe Yaalon, told the Sun that Saddam "transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria."
I've been talking about this since before we invaded Iraq. I was frustrated up to here (hand way above head) when President Bush practically told Saddam, "I'm giving you a whole month to cover up your tracks, before we come in after you." What did anyone expect Saddam to do while we had our military cooling its heels in Kuwait? Take inventory of his WMDs and leave the list prominently on his desk for us to find?
Democrats have made the absence of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a theme in their criticism of the Bush administration's decision to go to war in 2003. And President Bush himself has conceded much of the point; in a televised prime-time address to Americans last month, he said, "It is true that many nations believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. But much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong."
Said Mr. Bush, "We did not find those weapons."
That's the other frustrating thing that President Bush did. If I can figure out that Saddam would hide his weapons, most likely by sending them to Syria (and maybe on to Lebanon), then why didn't President Bush or Secretary Rumsfeld, or Secretary Powell, or anybody else say that they believed Saddam could have shipped them to a friendly nation for safekeeping? Why did they say they thought the intelligence turned out to be wrong? That just gave the Democrats a big, giant club to beat the President with, when the Democrats should have been the ones to be clubbed.
The discovery of the weapons in Syria could alter the American political debate on the Iraq war. And even the accusations that they are there could step up international pressure on the government in Damascus. That government, led by Bashar Assad, is already facing a U.N. investigation over its alleged role in the assassination of a former prime minister of Lebanon.
Let's hope Sada's allegations pan out. It's really the only thing that makes sense of all the facts we have:
1. Saddam used WMDs on his own people
2. We warned Saddam we were coming
3. When we invaded, we didn't find WMDs
The next test of President Bush's good sense will be to see if he tries to inspect Syria for WMDs. He should, whether he goes through the UN (bad idea, but likely to be encouraged by Secretary Rice) or through our own or friendly nation's (Israel? Britain?) intelligence service (better idea). The last thing I need is more frustration with the President.
And the last thing the world needs is another crackpot, like Assad, with WMDs.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Responding to accusations Saddam Hussein is being "demonized" as his trial resumes, a U.S. group has released videotapes documenting torture and murder ordered by the former Iraqi dictator.
"Television news understandably will not broadcast these videos, but they are nevertheless an important record of Saddam Hussein's crimes against humanity," said FDD President Clifford May.
May believes it was necessary to "set the record straight" after Saddam defense attorney Ramsey Clark, the former U.S. attorney general, complained to American media that the former leader was being "demonized."
The videos are available here. They are extremely graphic and include sound.
I'm curious. When Ramsey Clark complained to the American media about Saddam's "demonization," was the media sympathetic? The cynic in me would guess that they were. Can't be calling Saddam a butcher, mass-murderer, torturer, exterminator, genocidal tyrant. That would be to "demonize" him.
By definition, though, there's no such thing as demonizing a demon. Saddam was a demon when he ruled Iraq, and he raised his sons to be demons as well. His sons are dead (good riddance), and Saddam is facing Iraqi justice (Lord willing, it will truly be justice in the end).
The Left and its media partners delight in showing the Abu Graib and Gitmo pictures as often as they can, but they can't bring themselves to show the 9/11 footage, any footage of the things Saddam did (and he did videotape many of his atrocities), or the beheadings by al Qaeda operatives--even edited. They don't want us to remember who our enemies are and what they're capable of.
The Left is happy to demonize America and her Commander-in-Chief. But they refuse expose the real demons. Heaven help the people who rely on the Left's media for their understanding of the world.
Chris Malott has a great post on the attitude of the Left toward our military. It's appalling, but not surprising (there's that cynic in me again).
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
But while getting Alito out of committee is a great step, the good news is that the buffoonery doesn't end.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said things are different from when the Senate considered Breyer and Ginsburg, who were confirmed 87-9 and 96-3 respectively. "There was not the polarization within America that is there today, and not the defined move to take this court in a singular direction," Feinstein said. (emphasis added)
There most certainly was a "defined move to take this court in a singular direction." It's just that the direction was to the far left with some activism thrown in as a special bonus.
And Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), who we usually don't hear much from, had this to say:
"Judge Alito's record as a professional - both as a Justice Department official and as a judge - reflects something more than a neutral judicial philosophy," Kohl said. He noted that Alito has refused to call the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision "settled law."
Alito's record "suggests a judge who has strong views on a variety of issues, and uses the law to impose those views," Kohl said. (emphasis added)
Talk about chutzpah! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Using the law to impose their own views is what the liberal judges have been doing for the past forty years.
Here's a Republican response that I like:
If Democrats want to make judges a campaign issue, "we welcome that debate on our side. We'll clean your clock," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Note: The Times calls Sheikh al-Ansari "a leading insurgent" and calls al-Zarqawi "Iraq's most wanted man" and a "terrorist." It's encouraging to see that the Times is willing to use the "T" word, at least for al-Zarqawi.
According to Sheikh al-Ansari, Zarqawi never takes off the suicide belt he wears.
“He told me: ‘I would rather blow myself up and die as a martyr — and kill a few Americans along the way — than be arrested and humiliated by them’.”
I'm good with that plan (not the killing a few Americans along the way, but the rest of it). If we arrest him and he finds that humiliating, great! If he wants to blow himself up, even better.
The fewer terrorists there are blowing up innocent people, the better off the world will be.
The Sheikh's account was passed to the Sunday Times by an intermediary and was a report of a two-day meeting with Zarqawi.
“He is known by America and the world as the prince of beheadings, the murdering sheikh of innocents, the blood spiller,” said Ansari.
By contrast, he said, Zarqawi seemed a “simple” man and put on a show of humility at a two-day meeting to secure the co-operation of the Army of the Victorious Sect and other groups with Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The meeting led to the subsequent announcement about an umbrella body called the Mujaheddin Council, which posted a statement on the internet two weeks ago. The council claims to be representing Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Army of the Victorious Sect and the four lesser-known Sunni groups. Other leading Sunni groups were conspicuously absent.
The development suggested to some Middle East watchers that despite his reputation, Zarqawi may be struggling to consolidate his grip on the resistance. Many Iraqis have tired of violence and politicians were beginning negotiations this weekend to form a coalition government after election results announced on Friday.
“Zarqawi is not in the position he used to be before — he seems to have lost the hospitality that he enjoyed in the past in Iraq,” said Dr Nimrod Raphaeli, a specialist at the Middle East Media Research Institute in Washington. “He is trying to find a new base and new links with other groups.”
Every new indication of a slip in Zarqawi's grip on terrorist power is good news. Every time the Iraqis, especially the Sunnis, grow more disillusioned with the terrrorists, it's good news. The best news will be when Iraqi or coalition forces catch up with Zarqawi and give him the chance to choose his own fate. Insha'Allah, it will be soon.
I've been around older women before who have said, "We're of an age."
What age is that, exactly? Is it 50? Is it 60? Does that mean that they're the same age as each other? Or does it mean they're from a certain "age" in terms of time period (Depression era, World War II)?
Does anybody know what that means?
Sunday, January 22, 2006
The story is told from the perspective of both Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint, one of the missionaries, and Mincayani, one of the Waorani tribesman the missionaries have come to reach.
When I read Through Gates of Splendor, I was fascinated. It told the story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot and how they came to Ecuador to try to reach this tribe. They both appear in End of the Spear, and Jim is one of the five men killed by Mincayani and his fellow tribesmen. But what I liked in the movie, which wasn't in the book, was the look we had into Waorani tribal life and the way the violence of that life was not-so-slowly decimating their numbers. We saw the reason for the urgency that Nate Saint felt, the urgency that was behind the risk the missionaries took in approaching the tribe.
Chase Ellison, as young Steve Saint, did a superb job in his role. Louie Leonardo, as Mincayani, carried the film, expressing the tribesman's devotion to a lifestyle that left precious few men alive long enough to be grandfathers. And Chad Allen portrayed Nate Saint in the beginning of the film and the adult Steve Saint at the end with an understated grace that served the film well.
Christians will love this film, but I can't speak for non-Christians. I'm aware of some people who revere primitive cultures as being somehow purer, more aware, and closer to the earth than civilized cultures. I don't know how they would view the salvation--both spiritually and physically--of a killing, dying tribe in Ecuador.
I wholeheartedly recommend this film. There is violence, but no profanity, nudity, or sexual scenes. It is an uplifting look at the impact that Christ can have through His willing, devoted followers.
One last note: Don't leave the moment the credits start. There's a fun video clip of the real Steve Saint and Mincayani that's worth watching. Once this video is over, the rest is just credits, and it's safe to leave the theater.
Friday, January 20, 2006
The people at my church who have heard of this movie are excited about having a Christian-sympathetic movie to see. But then this controversy came up, as reported in today's WorldNetDaily.
The actor who plays Nate Saint is a gay activist, and some Christians are upset. Blogger Jason Janz, of Sharper Iron, has blogged about it, excerpting from an article that appeared in the The Advocate, a magazine that deals with gay issues. In addition, WND reports, "Ingrid Schlueter, co-host and producer for the Christian radio show "Crosstalk," heard on 85 stations nationwide, says listeners are upset about Allen's role. "
Here's my question: What's more important, the message of a movie, or the actors conveying that message?
If it's the actors, then it was right to raise a stink over Memoirs of a Geisha using Chinese actresses to play Japanese women. And somebody should have objected to Kate Winslet playing an American woman in Titanic. And the director of Vertical Limit should be ashamed of himself for using a Sudanese man to play a Sikh from the Indian sub-continent. Oh, and don't forget that Linda Hunt played a man in The Year of Living Dangerously.
And if it's the actors, then straight people should rush right out to watch Brokeback Mountain, because Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are both straight.
But it's not the actors who matter, except for how well they portray their roles. The message is what counts. And that's why I won't be seeing Brokeback Mountain or Syriana, or Constant Gardener, or Munich, or any of the other movies that Hollywood likes to call "important."
And that's why I will be seeing the End of the Spear.
Here's another question: How will gay activists ever come in contact with the love of Christ that Christians are always talking about, if those same "loving" Christians keep shoving gays away?
From the WorldNetDaily article:
Nate Saint's son Steve Saint, who served as a producer, a stunt pilot and had a bit part in the film, believes it was God's plan to have Allen in "End of the Spear," according to Agape Press.
Saint admitted, however, he was shocked when he learned Allen was homosexual.
"I could feel physical pain," he recalled, "thinking [that] somebody that lives a lifestyle like that is going to depict my dad."
But after further reflection, he began to see Allen's involvement might be God-ordained.
Some Christians might be offended by Allen's role, Saint realized, but "I thought, 'What happens if I stand before God someday and He says to me, "Steve, I went out of my way to orchestrate an opportunity for Chad Allen to see what it would be like to live as your father did."' And then I could picture Him looking at me and saying, 'Steve, why did you mess with my plan?'"
We need to quit getting hung up on the stupid, pointless details and start focusing on what's important--not a Hollywood kind of important, but a God kind of important.
Five missionaries went to Ecuador to share the love of Christ with a tribe that was slowly destroying itself. And though the tribe destroyed these five men, Christ's love ultimately saved the tribe.
I'm going to go see it. I hope you do too.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
It's getting really cold in Russia, even by their standards, so drastic measures are called for to keep the animals warm.
In the ancient town of Yaroslavl, 100 miles north of Moscow, a travelling circus said it had been forced to start giving its trio of Indian elephants vodka mixed with water in buckets as the mercury dipped.
In Lipetsk, where meteorologists recorded temperatures of minus 32C, the zoo's contingent of macaques was being fortified with cheap French table wine three times a day and in other zoos camels, wild boars and reindeer were being given regular shots of vodka to stave off the chill.
If they give the macaques some cheese to eat before they give them the French table wine, then the macaques won't know they're being given the cheap wine.
Here's my concern, though: Should they really be plying wild boars with strong drink? Don't wild boars cause enough damage when they're sober? I don't know if these zookeepers are thinking clearly.
Also, I don't know if I'm sadly out of date on the science of hypothermia, or if it's the Russians, but when I lived in Montana back when I was in high school, they told us never to drink alcohol in freezing weather. It gives you a temporary rush of heat as the alcohol causes the blood vessels to dilate, but that rush of heat is really your body expelling heat through your skin. And that can cause hypothermia even faster than if you didn't have the alcohol.
I wish the Russians and their animals the best in this cold snap. Vashe zdorovie!
The Independent reported today about a study conducted by the University of California. I can tell that the folks at the Independent aren't from the US, because they didn't identify which UC did the study, but it must be UC Davis, because that's the one with Hildegarde Heymann, professor of viticulture and oenology.
Here's the bottom line: If you're going to have wine and cheese, don't bother drinking the good wine.
[The] researchers found the cheese always masked the flavours of a pricey vintage. Where the tasters would have expected to hold forth on the berry and oak flavours of a full-bodied cabernet sauvignon or the light tannins of a pinot noir, it was found they were indistinguishable from a bottle of plonk.
[They] found all the cheeses reduced the flavours and aromas of wine, regardless of cost, exploding the myth that a fine cheese can be enhanced by a perfect wine.
There you have it. Better living through science.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
But that was yesterday. Today life is so much better.
AOLNews reported the weekend's box office receipts, along with a bit of detectable media bias. The encouraging part of this was that the four top-grossing films were family-friendly films. These were:
1. "Hoodwinked," Weinstein Co., $16.6 million.
2. "Glory Road," Disney, $16.5 million.
3. "Last Holiday," Paramount, $15.7 million.
4. "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Disney, $12.2 million
Number five was the horror flim, Hostel, with $11.7 million.
"Hoodwinked" received mixed critical reviews but its opening day was a financial triumph for a movie that was made for a relatively paltry $15 to $20 million. Weinstein Co. hoped to expand its showings this week to as many as 3,000 screens.
The "mixed critical reviews" is common for family (kid) films. Many critics only appreciate "daring" or "bold" films that "push the envelope." Films like Brokeback Mountain. But for a film that families enjoy, the critics say, "ptooey!" which is what I say to their reviews.
Another PG-rated film, "Glory Road," was in second place and made some $3 million dollars more in its opening than expected.
Why is it that the people who estimate the "expected" box office take never seem to realize how badly Americans want to see a movie they can wholeheartedly enjoy or that will not offend their faith? The Passion of the Christ was horribly underestimated. So was Narnia.
[Hoodwinked] was held back to January so it wouldn't have to face the big Christmas-season guns such as "King Kong" or "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which was fourth for the weekend and has now grossed more than $260 million. (emphasis added)
In terms of lasting power, Narnia is a winner. It opened a week before King Kong, and is beating out King Kong weekly now.
But the really agenda-driven statistic from this article is this one (obviously written before the Golden Globes were announced):
"Brokeback Mountain," director Ang Lee's story of two rugged Western family men concealing their homosexual affair, had the highest per-location average of any movie in the top 10, at $10,330 per location. It was ranked No. 9 in ticket sales over the long weekend.
In spite of - or perhaps because of - the controversy over its gay theme, "Brokeback Mountain" has done well in every market where it has played.
"This film has everything going for it: the critical acclaim, the word of mouth and, of course, the seven Golden Globe nominations never hurt," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "It's become the must-see movie of the season."
So with all the other movies, they looked at total box office take, or at accumulated gross sales. But with Brokeback Mountain, they had to look at per-location average in order to find some good financial numbers to report. Because they needed to find some good numbers to support their statement that Brokeback is "the must-see movie of the season."
But, if you look at the top-ten list, it's obvious that "Fun With Dick and Jane" is more of a must-see than Brokeback. And Narnia, with $260 million gross (so far) is actually the must-see movie of the season.
They don't get it. They won't get it. And they really hope that we won't get it either.
Monday, January 16, 2006
A new Zogby poll indicates a majority of Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval.
That sounds suspicious to me, since I believe a majority of Americans want the President to fight the GWOT and keep us safe. I found the reason for the apparent discrepancy between the Americans' desire for safety and the results of the poll in the way the question was worded:
"If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."
Those agreeing were 52 percent, disagreeing were 43 percent, and 6 percent didn't know or didn't answer. Well, duh!
When they say, "...wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge," most normal people think about wiretaps that are set to monitor all calls coming from or going to a particular American citizen's phone. Of course people would think that's wrong, illegal, and impeachable.
What I want to know is how people would respond if the question were asked this way:
"If a security agency learned that an al-Qaeda member was placing a call to someone in the US, and the President authorized the agency to listen in without first getting approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."
This is a no-brainer. Well over 50 percent would say a resounding No!
This is agenda polling at its worst. They oversimplify and distort the facts of a situation, ask questions based on the distortion, and then report the results as though they accurately reflected the views of the respondents on the real situation. It stinks, and Zogby should be ashamed.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Federal agents have launched an investigation into a surge in the purchase of large quantities of disposable cell phones by individuals from the Middle East and Pakistan, ABC News has learned.
In one New Year's Eve transaction at a Target store in Hemet, Calif., 150 disposable tracfones were purchased. Suspicious store employees notified police, who called in the FBI, law enforcement sources said.
In an earlier incident, at a Wal-mart store in Midland, Texas, on December 18, six individuals [of Middle-Eastern origin] attempted to buy about 60 of the phones until store clerks became suspicious and notified the police. A Wal-mart spokesperson confirmed the incident.
Possible purchasers of disposable cellular phones could also include political extremists, terrorist supporters, sympathizers or others simply shaken by the recent revelations of the spy agency's widespread monitoring of calls, including calls to and from the United States to foreign countries. (emphasis added)
If we ever needed evidence of the mainstream media's complicity in damaging the war effort, this it. Maybe they're just stupid as a stump and don't realize the consequences of what they write, but if they are they don't deserve to be providing "news" to our nation. And if they're not stupid, then they're doing it on purpose and don't deserve to be providing "news" to our nation.
Here's a rough timeline that proves the point:
Early December 2005, the New York Times reports that the NSA is monitoring the phones of terrorists, including the phone calls made to or from the US by those terrorists' phones.
On December 17, 2005, President Bush admitted the NSA was indeed monitoring terrorist phones. (Note the anti-Bush wording in the CNN article's opening paragraph: "...President Bush took aim at the messenger Saturday...")
On December 18, 2005, six Middle Eastern-looking men in Midland, TX, attempted to purchase 60 disposable cell phones, but ran away without the phones when the police showed up.
In the ABCNews article about the disposable phone purchases, most of the speculation about the purchasers' purpose was about using the phones to blow things up, the way the Madrid train bombs were set off. It's as if they're intentionally being dense about this. But it couldn't be more obvious:
1) The New York Times tells the terrorists that the NSA knows their phone numbers and are listening.
2) The terrorists figure out how to get around our surveillance.
What other choice tidbits of classified information about the GWOT is the MSM sitting on while they wait for just the right moment to use it to damage the Bush administration? God forbid we find out the answer.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Hugh has been well-amused by the Democrats' attempts to find something to pin on Alito. Laura has gone as far as making fun of some of the Democrat Senators. Both of them played the same wonderfully satisfying audio of Senator Specter smacking down Senator Kennedy. This was when Kennedy attempted to force Specter to call an executive session of the Judiciary Committee for the purpose of voting on a subpoena to get the records of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP).
It's the misinformation about CAP that I want to address today. AP writer, Jesse J. Holland, wrote today about the Alito hearings and how they've progressed. In the middle of his article (this is a news article, not an editorial), he has this paragraph (emphasis added):
The federal judge's membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton, which discouraged the admission of women and minorities at the Ivy League school, has been a divisive issue at Alito's confirmation hearings, which entered a fourth day Thursday.
The highlighted portion of Holland's description of CAP's purpose is false. It has the same distortion that the Senate Democrats are trying to get across. Laura Ingraham was the editor of CAP's newsletter at the time, and she corrected the error on her show this morning. In fact, she was corroborated by her then-boss at CAP, Judge Andrew Napolitano, who was a guest on her show. Neither of them remember ever seeing Samuel Alito's name during their time with CAP, so any connection he had was not as an active member.
The purpose of CAP was two-fold. First, they wanted to get the ROTC back on campus, after an anti-miltary group of students burned down the ROTC building and the Princeton administration refused to rebuild it or provide an alternate location for the ROTC. The second purpose was to ensure that Princeton's academic standards were not lowered in the pursuit of women and minorities. That's it.
Meanwhile, even assuming for argument's sake that the Democrats' spin is correct and CAP wanted to prevent women and minorities from admission, what the Dems are doing is accusing Alito of guilt by association. He received their newsletter, therefore he must have agreed with everything they said.
Here's how Fox News explained Alito's connection to CAP:
Alito, who graduated in 1972, repeatedly told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he could not remember ever signing up with CAP, and said the only reason he would have joined was because of his participation in ROTC. Princeton, like many American universities at the time, had grown hostile toward the military's presence on campus amid turmoil stemming from the Vietnam War. The university's ROTC offices were firebombed during Alito's senior year, and he was forced to finish training at another school.
But the Democrats won't let go of the subject, unless it's to hound him about Roe v. Wade. They really don't have anything else they can use to challenge Alito. So the hearings will finish up with more Democrat posturing, pontificating, and pandering to their loony-left base. And Hugh and Laura will get a little more mileage out of the hearings for their radio shows.
Then Alito will be confirmed. What a great country we live in!
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
First, Michelle Malkin's column in today's WorldNetDaily is on Senator Hillary Clinton's attempted transformation into a centrist war hawk for the 2008 Presidential election (which she denies she's running for). She's jumping on the body armor bandwagon in the hope of appealing to voters who support the troops and the war.
Unfortunately (but typically), her call for lots more body armor for our troops runs against what the military wants or needs.
Hillary bashed President Bush and Vice President Cheney for callously letting troops die and said she was "just bewildered as to how this president and this vice president continue to isolate themselves from different points of view."
You want different points of view? Listen to soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade, who must don some 40 pounds of protection and gear while fighting in the desert heat. Capt. Jamey Turner, 35, of Baton Rouge, La., a commander in the 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment bluntly reminded the Associated Press: "You've got to sacrifice some protection for mobility. If you cover your entire body in ceramic plates, you're just not going to be able to move."
Second Lt. Josh Suthoff, 23, of Jefferson City, Mo., said: "I'd go out with less body armor if I could."
Yep, Hillary is in tune with our military.
Next, Dr. Ted Baehr, of the Christian Film & Television Commission, discusses the Left's deranged criticisms of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe in today's WorldNetDaily.
The criticism has been unremitting from the liberal elite. The books have been derided for their positive depiction of Christian spirituality and Western virtues. In the Dec. 4 issue of The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Laura Miller calls Lewis' insertion of Christian metaphors in his "Narnia" books "a terrible betrayal." In her Dec. 7 review of the movie, Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times made snide comments about the movie and the book's Christian metaphors, calling it "a medieval vision of Christianity for another dark age."
Philip Pullman, an author whose "Golden Compass" fantasy trilogy explicitly seeks to encourage children into faith of materialist atheism and rejection of traditional morality, has called the books, "so anti-life, so cruel, so unjust. The view that the "Narnia" books have for the material world is one of almost undisguised contempt."
Be sure to read the whole column, if you're a Narnia (book or movie) fan.
Finally, Heather Mac Donald has an eye-opening look at the legal clinics that are extensions of university law schools. This is in today's OpinionJournal. She exposes the liberal-agenda, social activism of these professor-run clinics that do little or nothing to provide real-world legal experience to law students.
Today's clinical landscape is a perfect place to evaluate what happens when lawyers decide that they are chosen to save society. The law school clinics don't just take clients with obvious legal issues, such as criminal defendants or tenants facing eviction. They take social problems--unruly students in school, for example--and turn them into legal ones. Florence Roisman, a housing rights activist at the Indiana University School of Law, has inspired clinicians nationwide with her supremely self-confident call to arms: "If it offends your sense of justice, there's a cause of action." (emphasis added)
This article is both excellent and worrisome at the same time. Not only are the law schools turning out liberal-activist lawyers, at some point down the road many of these lawyers will become our nation's judges.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
This idea came from a Focus on the Family magazine letter to the editor. A woman had written that whenever she orders something or subscribes to a publication, she uses a different middle initial, so she can see who is selling her name to other companies. She said she used "X" for Focus on the Family, and in 15 years, she had never received mail from any other company with an "X" as the middle initial. So she was coming clean with them and admitting that "X" wasn't true. She finally realized she could trust them with her real initial.
So I tried the same thing. "T" is for the travel magazine I subscribed to. "H" was the health products I ordered about the same time. I got a lot of Skye H. Puppy for a while, but that one hasn't come lately. The travel magazine is still going strong selling my name, though, and now they think I fit the profile of the New York Times.
The letter the Times sent said, "In addition to producing Pulitzer Prize-winning world and national news coverage...." This made me think of Walter Duranty and his discredited Pulitzer for his reporting on Stalin's Soviet Union in the 1930s. The NY Times still lists Duranty's Pulitzer in their list of awards, but they include this statement.
Another selling point they thought might make me cough up the subscription price was this beauty: "With TimesSelect, you'll get access to content that isn't accessible anywhere else online, including the Times Archive, interactive features with Times columnists like Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman...." You can't go much further left than Paul Krugman.
Reading the Times would only give me Lefty Propaganda Apoplexy Syndrome (LPAS) in addition to fattening the coffers of a newspaper whose goals are at cross-purposes to mine.
No, I don't think I'll be subscribing, as "T" or "H" or "J" or any other initial.
Which Judge Samuel Alito is.
This article in today's WorldNetDaily is a case in point. It deals with Sen. Arlen Specter's questioning of Alito today.
Responding to a question by Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., Alito said he agrees "with the underlying thought that when a precedent is reaffirmed, that strengthens the precedent."
But in a reference to terminology Specter used during the confirmation hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts last year, Alito said he doesn't believe in the idea of "super-duper precedents."
"It sort of reminds me of the size of laundry detergent in the supermarket," Alito said.
Specter was contending that decisions such as the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion should be enshrined in law, because they have been reaffirmed so many times in subsequent cases.
Once upon a time, most of these Senators were able to get a law degree and even pass the bar, but it looks as though they've forgotten a whole lot of what they learned. "Super-duper precedent?" Oh, please!
Hugh Hewitt said on his radio show yesterday of Senator Joe Biden, that Biden proves the theory of relativity. The more Biden talks the longer it takes for time to pass.
And over at Hugh's blog, his post about Senator Joe Biden has this report of Hugh's joy over Biden:
I just sent Joe flowers. Really. How could I not do so? He makes my job so easy, so full of smiles. I just left Duane, my producer the message, that he needs to grab the entire Joe audio, and to prepare... outakes of all of Joe's many ahs, aaaahs, uhmms etc, but also a montage of his "puzzles," "puzzleds," and "puzzlings."
The message [to Sen. Biden] read "Thank you, thank you, thank you for being you."
Slow Joe Biden: A testament to the proposition that, truly, anyone can be a United States Senator.
Chris Malott has this inspirational post on the confirmation hearings. A must-read, if you're a Republican.
The article opens this way (emphasis added):
A British airline banned its staff from taking Bibles and wearing crucifixes or St. Christopher medals on flights to Saudi Arabia to avoid offending the country's Muslims.
British Midland International also has told female flight attendants they must walk two paces behind male colleagues and cover themselves from head to foot in a headscarf and robe known as an abaya, the Mirror newspaper of London reported.
It looks as though the female flight attendants have to wear the abaya all through the flight, but that may not be the case. The article isn't very clear on that point.
The airline's staff handbook says: "Prior to disembarking the aircraft all female crew will be required to put on their company issued abaya. It will be issued with the headscarf which must be worn."
If the abaya is required only when the flight attendants get off the plane, then I don't really see a problem with that. It becomes a matter of safety for the airline's employees, especially in light of Muslim men in some parts of the world who believe they have the right to rape uncovered women. If I were to set foot on Saudi soil, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'd be covered up to the rafters.
The concern that I have is the airline's policy of not offering its employees any reasonable options.
The employees' union wants staff members to be able to opt out of the flights, but the airline says the only option is to transfer from overseas staff to domestic flights, which could mean a loss of about $30,000 a year in wages.
About 40 staff members have filed complaints since the route began in September.
Some of the male members who are homosexual have called in sick, because they are afraid of traveling to Saudi Arabia, where homosexual activity is punishable by flogging, jail or death.
Not much of a choice, really. Fly to Saudi Arabia when we tell you to, or take a hefty cut in pay. And the gay men risk their very lives. If a male flight attendant appears gay to one of the Saudis on the flight, how can he be sure he won't be arrested when the plane lands? The airline doesn't seem to care about this.
When safety is the issue, it pays to be careful, but British Midland International appears to have distorted view of what's important, and they're being rigid about it. If I ever need to fly on a British airline, it won't be British Midland.
Monday, January 09, 2006
The article didn't mention global warming, which surprised me. Nearly every time there are unusually high or unusually low temperatures, the scientists blame it on global warming. And I'm still mystified about how global warming brings about freezing weather.
My friend, the astrophysics major, and her two left-leaning friends tried to explain it to me, using the scenario from the movie The Day After Tomorrow, but I wasn't convinced. Later, I saw an article in The Guardian about how global warming is slowing down the Gulf Stream, and this article gave a convincing explanation of what drives the Gulf Stream and how global warming can slow down and someday even stop the Gulf Stream.
Here is how The Guardian article described the Gulf Stream currents:
The current is essentially a huge oceanic conveyor belt that transports heat from equatorial regions towards the Arctic circle. Warm surface water coming up from the tropics gives off heat as it moves north until eventually, it cools so much in northern waters that it sinks and circulates back to the south. There it warms again, rises and heads back north. The constant sinking in the north and rising in the south drives the conveyor.
Global warming weakens the circulation because increased meltwater from Greenland and the Arctic icesheets along with greater river run-off from Russia pour into the northern Atlantic and make it less saline which in turn makes it harder for the cooler water to sink, in effect slowing down the engine that drives the current.
Good enough. Until you look at a map of the ocean currents. After the description from the Guardian article, I expected the Canary Current (the one that heads southward from the north end of the Gulf Stream) to be cold, but it's warm. How does it stay warm if Greenland and the Arctic circle are feeding it cold water? Or is the warm water that affects Great Britain actually the arrow heading northeast from the top of the Gulf Stream? Is that the warm water that is in danger of turning cold from too much melting of Greenland's ice? It doesn't sound like it, from the way the article talks about a south-to-north-to-south circuit of surface water.
So if we melt too much of Greenland and the whole Gulf Stream conveyor belt comes to a screeching halt, then would the Northern Hemisphere get colder and colder, farther and farther south? And would the tropics get hotter and hotter without the circulating cold water to come back down (which it doesn't seem to do in the Atlantic anyway, judging by the currents map)? And what happens when all the southward-migrating cold water meets the northward-migrating warm water? Do we get lots of tornadoes and hurricanes?
And what about Asia? The North Pacific currents seem to fit the conveyor-belt model better than the North Atlantic, but nobody's talking about that one slowing down. And even if it has slowed down, that slowdown wouldn't explain this year's low temperatures.
India and Bangladesh and Japan and China don't have the same kind of circulation effect as Great Britain. While Britain is at the north end of the Gulf Stream, China and Japan are in the solid warm water section of their current. And India and Bangladesh are in an area of warm water as well.
How could Asia's cold weather possibly be explained by global warming's effects? It has to be able to be explained by it, because global warming is global. And if Asia is just experiencing year-to-year weather fluctuations (which is my personal theory), then why do the global warming enthusiasts, like my friend's friends at the party last year, insist that last year's horrible hurricane season was explained by global warming and not as just a year-to-year weather fluctuation?
Scientists like to explain that a theory (like the Theory of Evolution) is not just some wild idea that someone has come up with. It's a model of how things work that scientific observation of all the different facts and factors has confirmed over time, until the theory becomes as good as fact. The global warming theory has been accepted as fact by a large portion of the scientific community, but for myself, there are still too many questions unanswered and too many phenomena unexplained for me to accept it as fact just yet.
In the meantime, it looks like Asia may need our help.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Makes sense, in a Canadian-government sort of way.
When Western governments are mislead (sic) by a handful of silly socialists into believing that fewer guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens leads to enhanced public safety, they have all paid the price – in blood.
For instance, as I wrote in an October 2003 column, British authorities saw a 35-percent increase in gun violence in 2002 alone – not so ironically, that's just six years' removed from a nationwide ban on personal ownership of most firearms. So bad is the violence now that police say it has "spread like a cancer" across the whole of the country.
And in March 2000, WND reported that, since Australia banned private ownership of most guns in 1996, crime has risen dramatically on that continent – armed robberies by as much as 45 percent.
Dougherty's reference to Great Britain is a concern.
The company I work for has corporate offices in England, and theoretically I could transfer to the UK office. If I did, I could write (and sell) all kinds of travel articles and photos of the cool places to see in the UK and the nations nearby. It sounds like a dream job.
But England has banned the ownership of guns, the crime rate has jumped, and the people who are prosecuted most heavily in home-invasion crimes are the gun-using homeowners who have the nerve--illegally--to defend themselves. So how would I defend myself (can't count on the police to be Bobby-on-the-spot) if someone broke into my flat? I'm not sure exactly how much deadly force is allowed.
My idea is to get a crossbow with a trigger pull and some nice metal bolts. I know a guy who built a crossbow out of a car's leaf spring when he was a teenager, but I think that would be too much power for a home-defense situation. Still, I don't know if I'd be thrown in the slammer for using one.
Would a sword be allowed? Knives? What do people in England do to defend themselves against criminals? I hope they're not expected to just roll over and play dead and let the bad guys have their way with the homeowners and their property.
I don't know. Maybe I just don't have the proper UK non-self-defense mindset. I think I need to do a little more research on the ramifications of gun control in the life of the UK regular people before I sign up for a transfer.
As someone who is critical of the Standard Operating Procedures of the Mainstream Media, it's my duty to behave the way I expect them to behave. And part of that is giving my corrections the same emphasis I gave the misinformation when I first posted it. So here it is:
On December 17, 2005, in my post entitled, "Movie Choices," I said the following:
One little note: Brokeback Mountain is already gone from the local theater. It only lasted a week. The talking lion and the giant gorilla shoved the gay cowboy movie aside. Good.
I based this conclusion on the fact that somewhere on the internet, possibly IMDB, reported December 9, 2005 as the day this movie opened, and on December 16, my local theater multiplex (which had shown previews and had movie posters for it in the lobby) was not showing it. I didn't expect movies not to actually open when they open.
This week Brokeback Mountain is, indeed, opening at the local multiplex. I hope it bombs. The celebration of adultery (straight or gay), which leaves families wounded and in tatters, is the wrong message to be sending.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Steyn's column is entitled, "It's the Demography, Stupid." Basically, Western European countries have a half-life of about fifty years.
And the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they're running out a lot faster than the oil is. "Replacement" fertility rate--i.e., the number you need for merely a stable population, not getting any bigger, not getting any smaller--is 2.1 babies per woman. Some countries are well above that: the global fertility leader, Somalia, is 6.91, Niger 6.83, Afghanistan 6.78, Yemen 6.75. Notice what those nations have in common?
Scroll way down to the bottom of the Hot One Hundred top breeders and you'll eventually find the United States, hovering just at replacement rate with 2.07 births per woman. Ireland is 1.87, New Zealand 1.79, Australia 1.76. But Canada's fertility rate is down to 1.5, well below replacement rate; Germany and Austria are at 1.3, the brink of the death spiral; Russia and Italy are at 1.2; Spain 1.1, about half replacement rate. That's to say, Spain's population is halving every generation. By 2050, Italy's population will have fallen by 22%, Bulgaria's by 36%, Estonia's by 52%. In America, demographic trends suggest that the blue states ought to apply for honorary membership of the EU: In the 2004 election, John Kerry won the 16 with the lowest birthrates; George W. Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest. By 2050, there will be 100 million fewer Europeans, 100 million more Americans--and mostly red-state Americans.
These numbers, and Steyn's reference to "red-state Americans" reminds me of what Rabbi Daniel Lapin discussed back in September. There are two Americas: the Secular, and the Religious. Secular America is losing population, while Religious America is gaining.
Looking at the world demographics, that split carries over. Secular nations are losing population, and religious nations are gaining.
So the world's people are a lot more Islamic than they were back then and a lot less "Western." Europe is significantly more Islamic, having taken in during that period some 20 million Muslims (officially)--or the equivalents of the populations of four European Union countries (Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and Estonia). Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the West: In the U.K., more Muslims than Christians attend religious services each week.
Can these trends continue for another 30 years without having consequences? Europe by the end of this century will be a continent after the neutron bomb: The grand buildings will still be standing, but the people who built them will be gone. We are living through a remarkable period: the self-extinction of the races who, for good or ill, shaped the modern world.
Steyn's analysis is depressing because it rings true. We can fight Islamofascism with our military, with homeland security, with individual vigilance. And we must. But in the long run, how will we fight if there is no other nation left to fight with us, or to be fought for? The picture Mark Steyn paints is that of a demographic tsunami in slow motion. You can resist the flood, but eventually it sweeps away most things in its path.
People can build barriers to prevent flooding, but Europe has shown no hint of being willing to withstand the population flood. And although America's people want immigration to be checked and controlled, our leaders--especially in the Senate--don't seem any more serious about it than Europe is. I suppose that's because much of our leadership lives in Secular America.
If a population "at odds with the modern world" is the fastest-breeding group on the planet--if there are more Muslim nations, more fundamentalist Muslims within those nations, more and more Muslims within non-Muslim nations, and more and more Muslims represented in more and more transnational institutions--how safe a bet is the survival of the "modern world"?
Here are five questions, the kinds of things I tell people once in a while when the subject comes up. I'll answer them, and if you'd like to, you can post your answers in the comments section.
1. What advice did your parents give you, during your youth, that you actually followed?
My mom told me once, when I was in high school, never to drink beer if I'm eating ice cream. She was firm but didn't offer any details, and I didn't ask for any. I simply figured she must know what she was talking about, and I've never done that. About 10 - 15 years later, I reminded her of her advice, and she had no idea why she would have said such a thing.
2. What's the best parenting advice anyone ever gave you?
When my kids were heading into the teen years, someone at work mentioned that he and his wife had a response to door-slamming that worked for them. When a kid slams a door, you pull the pins out of the hinges and take their bedroom door away for 24 hours. No yelling. No frustration.
Each of my kids slammed the door twice after the rule went into effect, and then that was the end of the problem. It was a thing of beauty!
3. What movie have you watched the greatest number of times?
For a long time, that was either Apollo 13 or October Sky, followed closely by Braveheart. But now the winner is We Were Soldiers. I love chick flicks, but I come back over and over to the true(ish) stories that celebrate the best of who we are.
4. What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Before we had kids, my husband and I took a four-month bicycle trip through much of western Europe: England, France, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Belgium, and Scotland. If you're on a bicycle, Scotland and France are by far the best (lots of side roads that don't have much traffic). Switzerland doesn't have many side roads, so you're stuck on the major highways with all the cars. Oh, beware the sheep in Scotland if you're on a bike--they panic when they see you because they didn't hear you coming. Hundreds of pounds of blindly charging ovine power can do a lot of damage if they hit you.
5. What is your favorite Bible verse?
It varies, but there's something that keeps me coming back to Habakkuk 1:5 "Look at the nations and watch--and be utterly amazed! For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."
Post your answers. I'd love to see them!
One of my favorites is this one:
I resolve never again to launch a bowling ball over the roof with a trebuchet. And Harry, if you're reading this, again I'm very, very sorry about the Lexus.
I had to look up trebuchet: "A medieval catapult for hurling heavy stones."
I don't understand (and I'm not sure I really want to) the whole UPC Barcode thing, either.
Be sure to read them all. They're quick, and you just might find the one that you need to make while the year is still young.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
When you are boating on the Niagara River, there are signs marking the point at which you must go ashore or else you will be sucked over the falls. With Iran moving toward the development of nuclear weapons, we are getting dangerously close to that fatal point of no return on the world stage.
Yet there are few signs of alarm in our public discourse, whether among politicians, the media, or the intelligentsia. There is much more discussion of whether government anti-terrorism agents should be able to look at the records of books borrowed from public libraries.
Mark Steyn had some similar criticisms back in mid-December. While the president of Iran calls for the destruction if Israel (and, presumably, the rest of the West once Israel is gone), our diplomats spout diplomatic diplomacy with no fangs behind it. Not even any teeth. Just useless gums.
Thomas Sowell continues:
We could deter the nuclear power of the Soviet Union with our own nuclear power. But you cannot deter suicidal terrorists. You can only kill them or stop them from getting what they need to kill you.
We are killing them in Iraq, though our media seem wholly uninterested in that part of the story, just as they seem uninterested in the fact that the fate of Western civilization may be at stake just across the border in Iran.
Of course they would like us to prevent Iran from going nuclear -- if it can be done nicely by diplomacy, with the approval of the U.N., and in ways that do not offend "world opinion."
It is as if we were on the Niagara River and wanted to go ashore before it was too late, but did not want to turn on the motors for fear of disturbing the neighbors with excessive noise.
But at that point, the choice is between being serious or being suicidal.
The Republicans (most of them, anyway) have decided to be serious when it comes to Afghanistan and Iraq. The Democrats have chosen the other option about the entire Global War On Terror. But when it comes to Iran, even the Bush administration looks as though it's sliding on past the warning signs and heading for the falls.
Chris Malott at Malott's Blog has a great post about what he calls "Lethal Peace," an excellent term. He concludes this way:
Even with all our weapons and soldiers, we are only as powerful and effective as our political system allows us to be. Its sad that the radical base of a party that controls neither the White House nor either body of Congress can team with the liberal media to effectively emasculate our defense and foreign policy. I suggest that it may be a very "lethal peace" that they procure.
Do you think maybe if a nuclear bomb was detonated on American soil the Democrats might approve of the NSA wiretaps? It would definitely be harder for them to convince the country that we are not at war.