Friday, December 15, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
This is discouraging--more than that even--it is depressing.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
As I've argued in these pages, it is a disaster for the United States that we have so few H-1B visas available for high-skill foreign workers who want to become part of the American economy. We spend years educating foreigners, especially in technical fields, and then refuse their requests to work here. Instead we say "No, go back to Bangalore or Taipei and compete against us with what you've learned here."
It is truly insane from an economic point of view. America was made great by immigrants. The current nativist trends within both political parties, but especially the GOP, represents the worst of American narrow-mindedness and a complete lack of an understanding of history.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The Inland North
You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."
|What American accent do you have?|
Take More Quizzes
But in another sense, Spain's immigration problem is more severe than any other in Europe. Its population seems to have lost the appetite for procreation altogether. The average woman has 1.32 children, a figure that would have looked like a misprint to any social scientist before the 1980s. As a result, Spain's native-born population will begin contracting with shocking rapidity after 2014, and it is too late to do anything to stop it. Already Spain has gaping holes in its labor supply. The strawberry fields and clementine groves of Andalusia require tens of thousands of pickers every year. The tomato-growing greenhouses near Almería rely on Moroccan labor, and Eastern Europeans staff many tourist hotels. During the recent regional elections in Catalonia, when candidate Artur Mas urged that newcomers be held accountable to measurable assimilation criteria, the left-wing daily El País ran a picture of the Spanish factory that made Mas's campaign posters. It was manned by Pakistanis, of whom Barcelona has about 30,000. (In November, Pakistan announced it was opening a consulate there.) Naturally, sub-Saharan Africans would like their own piece of this economy.
Sniffer bees with a nose for explosives are set to make a major breakthrough in the war on terror. An extraordinary invention by a small British company is being praised by American scientists who have been testing it. Researchers at Inscentinel Ltd, which has just three employees at its Harpenden, Herts, HQ, have developed an amazing "sniffer box" to harness the bees' incredible sense of smell.
Bee sniffer squads could be on duty at airports, train stations and other terror targets within a year, say the scientists. Los Alamos sniffer squad trainer Tim Haartman, an entomologist - insect specialist - at the lab, said: "The technology is there. It's just a case of putting it into production."
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Among the points I liked in Barnett's book (although I don't necessarily agree with all of them):
p. 3: “Amazingly, the U.S. military engaged in more crisis-response activity around the world in the 1990s than in an previous decade of the Cold War, yet no national vision arose to explain our expanding role.”
p. 4: “. . .the Pentagon spent the nineties buying a far different military—one best suited for a high-tech war against a large, very sophisticated military opponent. In short, our military strategists dreamed of an opponent that would not arise for a war that no longer existed.”
p. 19: “Until September 11, 2001, we basically had no reproducible strategic concepts to guide our use of military power.”
p. 20: on policymakers: “. . .most of those policymakers are neck-deep in day-to-day management issues and are rarely able to step back from their never-ending schedule of fifteen-minute office calls to actually contemplate the big-picture question of Why?”
p. 23: “The fewer the rules, the more war you have.” “Throughout the 1990s, the Pentagon lurched from Somalia to Haiti to Bosnia to Kosovo, and it did so without the slightest understanding why.”
p. 25: “Doesn’t it seem weird that the same senators who prattle on during Sunday news programs about the world is a chaotic, unpredictable place still always seem to show up on C-SPAN following some security disaster to decry yet another “intelligence failure”?”
p. 27: “I believe that history will judge the 1990s much like the Roaring Twenties—just a little too good to be true. Both decades threw the major rule sets out of whack: . . .”
p. 30: “. . .I prefer comparing George W. Bush to Harry Truman rather than Ronald Reagan.”
p. 32: “While the world’s population has doubled since 1960, the percentage living in poverty has been cut in half.”
p. 38: “. . .President Richard Nixon and eventual Secretary of State Henry Kissinger—looking at the Soviets more like a global mafia we could tolerate rather than Nazis we needed to exterminate.” “Cold War really ended in 1973 and not in 1989”
p. 40: “MAD was a stroke of sheer brilliance on McNamara’s part, . . .“
p. 44: “The eight-year period 1987-1994 saw 9,575 global casualties from terrorism, but over the next nine years (1995-2003), the total jumped to 27, 608.”
p. 49: disconnectedness is the problem, not Islam, etc. – disconnected nations need to be connected to globalization
p. 94: “Since we could not easily track down the individual terrorist spread across this global network, we did the one thing we know how to do well: we invaded a nation-state.”
p. 96: “. . .light leadership touch displayed by the Clinton Administration for eight years.” “Bush Administration felt that they had to reestablish civilian control over the military when they came into power in 2001.”
p. 140: “So I added up all the response days, and the results ere rather striking: the Middle East was already accounting for more than half of all the four services’ cumulative response days in the 1980s, with the percentage rising to 75 percent for the Navy and Marine Corps. More important, the cumulative number of response days for all four services was rising over time. There were not that many more individual operations in the 1980s than in the 1970s (an increase of only 20 percent). It was just that the responses in the 1980s were getting a lot longer, so the total number of response days increased by roughly 70 percent.”
p. 141: On defense budget: “If underequipped troops are sent overseas for crisis response, Congress does not catch the blame, the White House does. . .”
p. 178: “we are never leaving the Gap”
p. 200: “Growing economies generally beget happy societies. . .”
p. 217: Arab states would have had to invent an Israel if none existed
p. 218: “In 1980, the Middle East accounted for 13 percent of global exports. Today that share is 3 percent, with the overwhelming bulk being oil and natural gas. A generation ago, the Middle East attracted 5 percent of the global flow of foreign direct investment. Today that number is a mere 1.5 percent.”
p. 219: “When competing against countries that aggressively educate their populations, countries with large natural endowments will lose every time.”
p. 238: added up crisis response days: 1970s – 10,415 total days (not including Vietnam); 1980s – 17,382 days (increase of 66 percent); 1990s – 66,930 days
p. 239: “Of the thirty-seven major conflicts spread around the world in the 1990s, thirty-four occurred in countries with annual per capita GDP totals of less than $2,936.”
p. 244: “The share of total investment in the U.S. economy that is financed by foreign sources now reaches close to 20 percent, while in the 1970s that shre rarely rose above 5 percent.”
p. 298: America’s task – global bodyguard
p. 299: America accounts for about half of entire world’s state spending on defense
p. 309: “When America turned its back on the world following World War I, the globalization it inevitably helped destroy was largely of Europe’s creation. But the globalization of today is largely of America’s creation.”
p. 317: America’s military response to 9/11 “pathetic”; “Pentagon completely unprepared to fight in Afghanistan”
p. 347: “The general magnitude of global warfare has decreased by over fifty percent since peaking in the mid-1980s, falling by the end of 2002 to its lowest level since the early 1960s.” “today’s level is still 16 percent less than it was in the late 1980s”
p. 351: University of Maryland’s Peace and Conflict Ledger 2003 . p. 352: only 32 countries out of 161 with serious conflicts—U.S. is only involved in a “handful”
p. 358: “American nationalism is unique for its focus on past achievements linked to future triumphs. Most nationalism around the world expresses itself in past tragedies linked to current grievances.”
p. 364: “The Bush Administration seems top-heavy in bold decision makers and short on visionaries. . .”
p. 365: “Most Americans are constantly confronted with pointlessly hyperbolic media debates about tactics, but are exposed to almost no calm deliberations regarding strategy.”
p. 373: State Department in desperate need of transformation
p. 378: if world stops buying U.S. debt, America is in trouble
Monday, November 27, 2006
The Democrats are being lauded in Europe and much of the Americas as the heroes of the hour, rescuing the USA from those mad neocons. But in most of Asia the perception is quite different -- of the Democrat majority as a threat, an enemy of trade, and a busybody across a broader range of issues than the Republican human rights campaigners with their predictable religious focus.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
The United Nations has a term "population support ratio" (PSR) that I think is helpful. I am reading the Pentagon's New Map by Thomas Barnett. He makes the following point: The big hitch is this: Current U.N. projections say that by 2050, the potential support ratio (psr, or people aged 15-to-64 per one person 65-and-older) in the advanced economies will have dropped from 5-to-1 to 2-to-1, while in the least developed regions the psr still will stand at roughly 10-to-1. That means that worker-to-retiree ratios in the Core will plummet just as the retirement burden there skyrockets - unless the Gap's "youth bulges" flow toward the older Core states. Japan will require more than half a million immigrants per year to maintain its current workforce size, while the European Union will need to increase its current immigrant flow roughly fivefold - but both have great difficulty acceding to that need.
Immigrants (legal or illegal) are helping keep America's PSR higher--it is not what it should be, but the US is much better off than Japan and some European countries if you are looking at 2050. The UN has a chart projecting the percentage of the population 60 or older. By 2050 41% of the population of Italy will be over 60; for Japan 42% of the population will be over 60; for the US 26% will be over 60. The average for developed countries is 32%.
One quote from the book: Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone’s tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don’t provide them with enough money.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
On July 15, MSNBC's "Connected" program discussed the July 7th London attacks.
One of the guests was Pierre Rehov, a French filmmaker who has filmed six documentaries on the intifada by going undercover in the Palestinian areas. Pierre 's upcoming film, "Suicide Killers," is based on interviews that he conducted with the families of suicide bombers and would-be bombers in an attempt to find out why they do it. Pierre agreed to a request for a Q&A interview here about his work on the new film.
Q - What inspired you to produce "Suicide Killers," your seventh film?
A - I started working with victims of suicide attacks to make a film on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) when I became fascinated with the personalities of those who had committed those crimes, as they were described again and again by their victims. Especially the fact that suicide bombers are all smiling one second before they blow themselves up.
Q - Why is this film especially important?
A - People don't understand the devastating culture behind this unbelievable phenomenon. My film is not politically correct because it addresses the real problem, showing the real face of Islam. It points the finger against a culture of hatred in which the uneducated are brainwashed to a level where their only solution in life becomes to kill themselves and kill others in the name of a God whose word, as transmitted by other men, has become their only certitude.
Q - What insights did you gain from making this film? What do you know that other experts do not know?
A - I came to the conclusion that we are facing a neurosis at the level of an entire civilization. Most neuroses have in common a dramatic event, generally linked to an unacceptable sexual behavior. In this case, we are talking of kids living all their lives in pure frustration, with no opportunity to experience sex, love, tenderness or even understanding from the opposite sex. The separation between men and women in Islam is absolute. So is contempt toward women, who are totally dominated by men. This leads to a situation of pure anxiety, in which normal behavior is not possible. It is no coincidence that suicide killers are mostly young men dominated subconsciously by an overwhelming libido that they not only cannot satisfy but are afraid of, as if it is the work of the devil. Since Islam describes heaven as a place where everything on Earth will finally be allowed, and promises 72 virgins to those frustrated kids, killing others and killing themselves to reach this redemption becomes their only solution.
Q - What was it like to interview would-be suicide bombers, their families and survivors of suicide bombings?
A - It was a fascinating and a terrifying experience. You are dealing with seemingly normal people with very nice manners who have their own logic, which to a certain extent can make sense since they are so convinced that what they say is true. It is like dealing with pure craziness, like interviewing people in an asylum, since what they say, is for them, the absolute truth. I hear a mother saying "Thank God, my son is dead." Her son had became a shaheed, a martyr, which for her was a greater source of pride than if he had became an engineer, a doctor or a winner of the Nobel Prize. This system of values works completely backwards since their interpretation of Islam worships death much more than life. You are facing people whose only dream, only achievement goal is to fulfill what they believe to be their destiny, namely to be a Shaheed or the family of a shaheed. They don't see the innocent being killed, they only see the impure that they have to destroy.
Q - You say suicide bombers experience a moment of absolute power, beyond punishment. Is death the ultimate power?
A - Not death as an end, but death as a door opener to the after life. They are seeking the reward that God has promised them. They work for God, the ultimate authority, above all human laws. They therefore experience this single delusional second of absolute power, where nothing bad can ever happen to them, since they become God's sword.
Q - Is there a suicide bomber personality profile? Describe the psychopathology.
A - Generally kids between 15 and 25 bearing a lot of complexes, generally inferiority complexes. They must have been fed with religion. They usually have a lack of developed personality. Usually they are impressionable idealists. In the western world they would easily have become drug addicts, but not criminals. Interestingly, they are not criminals since they don't see good and evil the same way that we do. If they had been raised in an Occidental culture, they would have hated violence. But they constantly battle against their own death anxiety. The only solution to this deep-seated pathology is to be willing to die and be rewarded in the afterlife in Paradise .
Q - Are suicide bombers principally motivated by religious conviction?
A - Yes, it is their only conviction. They don't act to gain a territory or to find freedom or even dignity. They only follow Allah, the supreme judge, and what He tells them to do.
Q - Do all Muslims interpret jihad and martyrdom in the same way?
A - All Muslim believers believe that, ultimately, Islam will prevail on earth.They believe this is the only true religion and there is no room, in their mind, for interpretation. The main difference between moderate Muslims and extremists is that moderate Muslims don't think they will see the absolute victory of Islam during their lifetime, therefore they respect other beliefs. The extremists believe that the fulfillment of the Prophecy of Islam and ruling the entire world as described in the Koran, is for today. Each victory of Bin Laden convinces 20 million moderate Muslims to become extremists.
Q - Describe the culture that manufactures suicide bombers.
A - Oppression, lack of freedom, brain washing, organized poverty, placing God in charge of daily life, total separation between men and women, forbidding sex, giving women no power whatsoever, and placing men in charge of family honor, which is mainly connected to their women's behavior.
Q - What socio-economic forces support the perpetuation of suicide bombings?
A - Muslim charity is usually a cover for supporting terrorist organizations. But one has also to look at countries like Pakistan , Saudi Arabia and Iran , which are also supporting the same organizations through different networks. The ironic thing in the case of Palestinian suicide bombers is that most of the money comes through financial support from the Occidental world, donated to a culture that utterly hates and rejects the West (mainly symbolized by Israel ).
Q - Is there a financial support network for the families of the suicide bombers? If so, who is paying them and how does that affect the decision?
A - There used to be a financial incentive in the days of Saddam Hussein ($25,000 per family) and Yasser Arafat (smaller amounts), but these days are gone. It is a mistake to believe that these families would sacrifice their children for money. Although, the children themselves who are very attached to their families, might find in this financial support another reason to become suicide bombers. It is like buying a life insurance policy and then committing suicide.
Q - Why are so many suicide bombers young men?
A - As discussed above, libido is paramount. Also ego, because this is a sure way to become a hero. The shaheeds are the cowboys or the firemen of Islam. Shaheed is a positively reinforced value in this culture. And what kid has never dreamed of becoming a cowboy or a fireman?
Q - You say that a suicide bomber is a 'stupid bomb and a smart bomb' simultaneously. Explain what you mean.
A - Unlike an electronic device, a suicide killer has until the last second the capacity to change his mind. In reality, he is nothing but a platform representing interests which are not his, but he doesn't know it.
Q - How can we put an end to the madness of suicide bombings and terrorism in general?
A - Stop being politically correct and stop believing that this culture is a victim of ours. Radical Islamism today is nothing but a new form of Naziism. Nobody was trying to justify or excuse Hitler in the 1930s. We had to defeat him in order to make peace one day with the German people.
Q - Are these men traveling outside their native areas in large numbers? Based on your research, would you predict that we are beginning to see a new wave of suicide bombings outside the Middle East?
A - Every successful terror attack is considered a victory by the radical Islamists. Everywhere Islam expands there is regional conflict. Right now, there are thousands of candidates for martyrdom lining up in training camps in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Inside Europe , hundreds of illegal mosques are preparing the next step of brain washing to lost young men who cannot find a satisfying identity in the Occidental world. Israel is much more prepared for this than the rest of the world will ever be. Yes, there will be more suicide killings in Europe and the U.S. Sadly, this is only the beginning.
I could not find the interview at the MSNBC site. However, I discovered who Pierre Rezhov is and hope to go back and look at some of his documentary trailers when I have time.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean and the Democrats -- supporters of the Iranian nation?
Thursday, November 09, 2006
- Iraq played a role in the Republican defeat, but I am not sure it was as dominant as some Democrats and analysts say. It would appear to me that Bush should have eased Rumsfield out sometime this summer--the day after the election makes less sense to me. I have read that Rumsfield was willing to resign a year or so ago, but Bush did not accept his resignation. If Rumsfield had been eased out, it might have helped save some Republican seats--for some voters Rumsfield's departure would be seen as a sign that Bush might be looking at something else besides "more of the same." I don't think the Democrats have much of an Iraq policy, but Bush didn't appear to have anything to offer except "stay the course."
- The administration and Republicans failed to communicate the good things that were happening in the economy. The stock market is at a record high which means everyone with an IRA or a 401 or 403 plan is making money. Also unemployment is at 4.4%.
- Republicans, especially in the House, seem to be poorly led and inept at campaigning. Democrat campaign ads were superior to those run by Republicans--I think a good TV ad is worth more than going to nursing homes and shaking hands for TV news clips.
- The Republican defeat did rid the party of some of its less capable members (Allen in Virginia and Hayworth in Arizona are two examples). Maybe new blood will arise. I know Newt Gingrich is a polarizing figure, but the Republican party needs thinkers or visionaries like him. It can't just be a party of Hastert Hacks.
- More evangelicals seem to have voted for Democrats in 2006. I haven't read the data, but I believe in many cases Republican corruption created some disillusionment. I anticipate that the evangelical vote will become less Republican, especially if the Democrats run a more moderate or conservative candidate.
- The Pro-Life movement has taken a hit and I think it will be greatly weakened. Given the South Dakota results, it would appear that Americans want abortion as an option. In addition it will be harder to press its agenda in Washington with the Democrat majority. I know Senator elect Casey in Pennsylvania is pro-life, but pro-life Democrats are still a very small minority. Also will he be able to stand up to the pro-abortion pressure in his party? Finally, Bush will have great difficulty appointing any Supreme Court nominee that is even somewhat pro-life and have the Democrat Senate approve the nominee. He barely got nominees through when Republicans controlled 56 seats in the Senate.
- Democrats appear to be against free trade in many cases (especially if they had strong union support). Many of them have not come to grips with globalization and outsourcing. It raises the possibility that America will slip into some kind of protective, isolationist posture. What America needs is a drastic retooling and new way of thinking that will help it face the realities of the 21st century--Democrats want to go back to a world economy that no longer exists.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.
But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.
Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said access to the site had been suspended “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.”
Note my italics in the second paragraph. Saddam would appear to have the technology to build a bomb. If so can you make the argument that Bush was right on--if he didn't go into Iraq, it would have had nuclear weapons along with Iran and North Korea.
Hypocrisy is mightier than the sword. When you preach/teach/nag against something and people find out you’re doing the thing you preach/teach/nag against, you are a hypocrite who deserves ridicule, especially if you’re high profile.
Christians constantly are being watched, and rightly so. Any little thing we do that appears hypocritical, unbelievers jump on it. To justify their own sin and rebellion, they “expose” ours and say, “See? The self-righteous hypocrite!” They rejoice when they “discover” we’re human, too!
But I’m glad they’re watching me. I defy the stereotype of what a Christian should be. Remember the car commercial catchphrase, “This ain’t you daddy’s Oldsmobile”? Well, I ain’t your momma’s Christian.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Also Franky Schaeffer (son of the famous theologian-cultural warrior Francis Schaeffer) had an op-ed piece the other day in the Dallas Morning News announcing he was fed up with Senator Allen's (R) campaign in Virginia and was changing his registration to Independent. I have not kept up with Franky's career, but he was on the far-right of most evangelical circles. Either something is happening in his life or the Republican Party.
Friday, October 27, 2006
I have been trying to keep up with the 2006 elections, but I have to admit it that I have let some races slide as responsibilities have interfered. Also for us in East Texas, not much is happening. Louie Gohmert (R) should cruise to a win for the district's congressional seat--his Democrat opponent has had media problems over some sort of arrest in Florida. Surely the Democrats are capable of finding someone better. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R) should cruise to reelection. The Governor's race has been a bit more lively with Kinky Friedman making his one-line quips--his only problem is that some have racial overtones. I think Rick Perry (R) should be reelected, although no one is excited about him.
A month or two ago it looked like Democrats would easily take over the Senate and House, but it has been getting increasingly more competitive. Michael Barone projects a slight Democrat majority in the new House. Larry Sabato sees a nip and tuck race for Senate control. You also have to consider governor races if you are looking ahead to redistricting. Dick Morris seems to change his projections weekly as he follow polls like a large-mouth bass following a minnow.
Putting all this together on this particular day, it looks like the Democrats should take control of the House, but the Senate--that will be close. However, I have noticed a number of conservative Democrats leading their Republican rivals in some House races. Some of them sound like Republicans even on social issues--last night CNN had a clip on a race in North Carolina where liberals were bemoaning how conservative the Democrat candidate was (Heath Schuler, 11th congressional district). Schuler sounded like he was on the Religious Right. Also more recently Harold Ford, Democrat running for the Senate in Tennessee, is using religous language in his campaing.
There may be a resurgence of moderate Democrats if a number of these candidates win. It is hard to say if they will all carry their convictions into office, but if they do I would presume that it would create problems for Nancy Pelosi and the left-liberal wing of the party.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
|You scored as A classic novel. Almost everyone showers praise upon you for your depth and enduring relevance. According to your acolytes, everything you say is timeless, erudite and meaingful. Of course, none of them actually listen to you. Nobody listens to you at all, but it's fashionable to claim you as a friend. Fond of obscure words, antiquated notions and libraries, you never have a problem finding someone to hang out with. The fact that they end up using you to balance their kitchen tables is an unfortunate side effect, but you're used to being used for others' benefit. Oh the burden of being Great.|
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Intended or not, the release of the Senate report, around the fifth anniversary of 9/11, has been read as definitive proof that the Iraq war stands alone, that the terrors that came America's way on 9/11 had nothing to do with the origins of the war. Few will read this report; fewer still will ask why a virtually incomprehensible Arab-Islamic world that has eluded us for so long now yields its secrets to a congressional committee. On the face of it, and on the narrowest of grounds, the report maintains that the link between the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq cannot stand in a Western court of inquiry.
But this brutal drawn-out struggle between American power and the furies of the Arab-Islamic world was never a Western war. Our enemies were full of cunning and expert at dissimulation, hunkering down when needed. No one in the coffeehouses of the Arab world (let alone in the safe houses of the terrorists) would be led astray by that distinction between "secular" and "religious" movements emphasized by the Senate Intelligence Committee. They live in a world where the enemies of order move with remarkable ease from outward religious piety to the most secular of appearances. It is no mystery to them that Saddam, once the most secular of despots, fell back on religious symbols after the first Gulf War, added Allahu Akbar (God is great) to Iraq's flag, and launched a mosque-building campaign whose remnants--half-finished mosques all over Baghdad--now stand mute.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
To summarize: The Senate report gives two versions of Zahawie's name without ever once mentioning his significant background. It takes at face value his absurd claim about the supposedly innocent motive for his out-of-the-way trip. It accepts similarly bland assurances made by the government of Niger. It is unaware of the appearance of A.Q. Khan in the narrative. It does not canvass the views of our allies, or of tried-and-tested experts like Ambassador Ekeus. It offers little evidence and no argument in support of its conclusions. It is a minor disgrace, but a disgrace nevertheless.
One thing should be kept in mind, however: The often violent protests that erupted in the Muslim world in the wake of the cartoon controversy have often been manipulated and fuelled by Islamists. The bile currently being flung at the pope is no different.
But the attacks against the pope are especially grotesque. The severe criticism -- often coupled with threats of violence -- directed at the speech held last Tuesday by Benedict XVI is not just an attack on the head of the Catholic Church. The malicious twisting of the pope's words and the absurd allegations made by representatives of Islam represent a frontal attack on open religious and philosophical dialogue.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The first of these urges originates within the Moslems' own sphere. The Moslems remember the power with which once they not only ruled their own domains but also overpowered half of Europe, yet they are painfully aware of their present economic, cultural, and military impoverishment. Thus a terrific internal pressure is building up in their collective thinking. The Moslems intend, by any means possible, to regain political independence and to reap the profits of their own resources, which in recent times and up to the present have been surrendered to the exploitation of foreigners who could provide capital investments. The area, in short, has an inferiority complex, and its activities are thus as unpredictable as those of any individual so motivated.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Friday, September 08, 2006
While often ignored in the Western media, human rights abuses in the Islamic world are a daily occurrence. Both Muslim states and ad hoc religious courts order mutilation and execution, not only of criminals but also of individuals—mainly women—who have not committed anything which would be considered a crime in other societies. In some cases, Shari‘a (Islamic law) tribunals issue death sentences for those acquitted in regular courts. In other cases, religious leaders invoke religion to sanction non-Islamic practices such as honor killings and female genital mutilation.
Original Islamic jurisprudence, however, does not necessarily mandate such severe punishments. In the early twentieth century, it even seemed that the introduction of modern legal codes in Muslim majority countries might ameliorate regular Shari‘a punishments, but in recent decades, traditionalists have pushed a back-to-basics program which has augmented application of Shari‘a punishment. Rather than modifying Islamic practice, many self-described Islamist reformers make matters worse by advocating retrenchment rather than reform.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The London Times: A sinister alliance has developed between far-Right groups and Islamist extremists who are united in their hatred of Jews, Israel and Zionism and are contributing to increasing anti-Semitism in Britain.
Haaretz has a slightly different view: The panel attributed the escalation to flare-ups in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (but did not specify a direct connection), as well as the "anti-Semitic discourse" being held openly among Muslims, the extreme left and, to a lesser extent, the extreme right.
The London Times, for some reason is ignoring the panel's inclusion of the left in the rise of anti-semitism.
Conspiracy theories flourish in politics, and most of them have no more basis than spring training hopes for the Chicago Cubs.
Whenever things turn dicey for Republicans, they complain about the "liberal media" sabotaging them. And when Democrats get in a jam, they take up Hillary Clinton's warnings about a "vast right-wing conspiracy."
For much of the past five years, dark suspicions have been voiced about the Bush White House undermining its critics, and Karl Rove has been fingered as the chief culprit in this supposed plot to suppress the opposition.
Now at least one count in that indictment has been substantially weakened -- the charge that Rove masterminded a conspiracy to discredit Iraq intelligence critic Joseph Wilson by "outing" his CIA-operative wife, Valerie Plame.
He ends his article with: These and other publications owe Karl Rove an apology. And all of journalism needs to relearn the lesson: Can the conspiracy theories and stick to the facts.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
For months, the Moose has observed that if you seek anti-Semitic and anti-Israel filth on the internet, look to the left side. Comment threads and diariists regularly rant against Jews and the Jewish state. What is striking is the degree to which it is tolerated and the "respectability" these sites receive from the Democratic establishment.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Friday, September 01, 2006
Mr. Armitage was one of the Bush administration officials who supported the invasion of Iraq only reluctantly. He was a political rival of the White House and Pentagon officials who championed the war and whom Mr. Wilson accused of twisting intelligence about Iraq and then plotting to destroy him. Unaware that Ms. Plame's identity was classified information, Mr. Armitage reportedly passed it along to columnist Robert D. Novak "in an offhand manner, virtually as gossip," according to a story this week by the Post's R. Jeffrey.
It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame's identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue. The partisan clamor that followed the raising of that allegation by Mr. Wilson in the summer of 2003 led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, a costly and prolonged investigation, and the indictment of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges of perjury. All of that might have been avoided had Mr. Armitage's identity been known three years ago.
Bush and his advisors may be guilty of other failures, but this is not one of them. I can't get over how much media type and Democrat hype was spent on this issue. My early thoughts of this affair was that it was "much ado about nothing." I am sure most people in the Plame-Wilson social circuit knew she was CIA--most of the time where you work is common knowledge so hundreds of other people may have know.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Outsourcing is not necessarily the problem if America's creative juices are flowing. However, if the flow of computer jobs to India and China continues, America needs to be moving to the next generation of whatever creates wealth and maintains a standard of living. In the past we have seen the textile industry move out of America, but with new technologies and ways of creating wealth, I don't think anyone has missed it. I know in the short-term it created problems for workers, but the transition was made. It is being made in the automobile industry now--the days of Ford and GM are finished (Chrysler is already German owned).
But if America is complacent, we face big problems 10 years from now. But also I read that Japan and European countries such as Germany are also experiencing outsourcing. Volkswagen has a major production facility in Bratislava, Slovakia
I found this person's frustration typical, when I asked for a response. My only problem, and probably yours, is that we are not 69! And some of you may have a different eschatological view! Also some American cars have more foreign parts than a Toyota or Honda.
Good question, I could expound on it for hours but the bottom line is that we are pricing ourselves out of the market. We can't just keep increasing wages without there being a corresponding increase in performance, i.e. productivity, quality, service etc... . Government is talking about a higher minimum wage which is raw inflation. It doesn't just raise the wage for those at the bottom, the whole scale is jacked up a notch. If you move the new guy from six dollars an hour to seven dollars, the guy that was getting seven is going to be angry unless he gets eight dollars an hour. Union people like it because the whole scale goes up and the union dues are based on the wage rate.
In agriculture where they are competing with Mexico and Central America, they can't raise the sale price of their product because of the competition. Their only chance is to find low wage labor or some type of mechanized more efficient way to do it.
In 1978 I was plant superintendent of a plant building work-over rigs in Victoria Texas. There was such a demand that our normal suppliers couldn't meet our needs. For example we were getting the draw works brake wheels made of cast steel from Latrobe Pennsylvania. They started giving us lead times like 6 months that we could not live with. We went on a world search and got a bid from Japan for 30 day deliver air shipped and at a cost significantly lower than Latrobe. We were afraid of quality but we had no choice but to try them. To our surprise they were much better than the Latrobe product. Do you think we ever went back to Latrobe. But we didn't tell our competition where we were getting them but the found out soon enough.
I was a Ford and GM man having had Fords, Chevy's, Pontiac, Oldsmobile's and seemed to always have problems with the service departments. The problems weren't that bad but I just couldn't get them fixed and sometimes I would get the car back with the problem fixed but something else was wrong and that was the last straw with Olds. I bought a 1983 Maxima and put nearly 200,000 miles on it in 10 years. But I don't know anything about Nissan service since nothing ever went wrong with the car. I finally sold it because I wanted something newer and would have got another Maxima except the I got a deal on a 93 Camry that I couldn't turn down. I'm still driving the Camry today with nearly 200,000 miles on it and currently have no need to sell it unless I want something for show. I still have the original exhaust system on it. I took it in to be checked at about 70,000 miles since I had never had a muffler that lasted that long. The mechanic looked at me like I was joking and said that system will outlast the car, it's all stainless steel. It's beginning to look like it might even outlast me.
I had a friend that got a Tarsus at the same time I got my Camry. He had more glitz and bells and whistles and liked to rub it in and couldn't understand why anyone would buy a plain Jane Camry. Three years later he was having major problems, radiator, transmission, alternator, etc, not cheap little things. Seven years later the Tarsus was junk. I've been driving my Camry for 13 years with no major repairs and I'm still getting over 30 MPH on the highway and above 26 in town. A couple of weeks ago I was riding with a guy with a relatively new Chrysler which was beautiful but I was irritated by the road noise.
I was watching CNBC one morning and they were interviewing a GM big wig. They asked him what they were going to do to get back on track. He started talking about there new styling and a bunch of glitz which really shot my adrenalin up. I fired in an e-mail and said forget the glitz and work on quality. Since the interview was still going on they asked him about more quality and less on the styling and he said no it's styling we need, we have to sell cars in California. I fired back another e-mail asking how explained the Camry success, which was about as plain as you can get but pure quality. By that time the interview was over so I didn't get any answer from the GM guy but CNBC e-mailed me back and basically said, good point.
When Ford was competing with GM and Chrysler, quality wasn't a big thing since they were all equally bad. For some reason they still haven't recognized that it isn't business as usual. Toyota has been around for nearly 50 years, then there is Honda and Nissan that came later and the big three still haven't figured it out. And now we have Hyundai from Korea that is getting better quality and overall value ratings than US cars of the big 3. I think we are our own worst enemy.
Lincoln is bragging that they are now giving a 70,000 mile warrantee for the power train, Hyundai's is 100,000 for the power train and 60,000 bumper to bumper. Lincoln is a Joke!!! Lincoln is bragging about something they should be ashamed of.
We may have to have a depression to get things back on track.
We are falling into a trend of Socialism which will bring us to an end that won't be pretty.
In 1992 my company sent me and another plant manager to Europe to look at labor saving equipment. In Europe if you hire a new employee you usually have to keep him for the rest of his life. For them if they can find a machine that will keep them from having to hire that person and the machine costs less than $200,000 it's a no brainer, you get the machine if you can afford it. Of course you see unemployment rates of around 12% or higher. I think in places in France unemployment may be over 20%. In our case we came home with all the numbers and started working on ROI studies. In about every case we were at a break even situation. If the union forced increased wages, we would automate.
You have to compete to stay in business and if you can't do it in the US, you find someplace else where you can or you close up shop.
A significant increase in the minimum wage could send millions of jobs overseas. There is no free lunch and we are living off borrowed time.
But I'm not worried at 69 I think I can take what ever comes but I'm glad I don't have to depend on a job. Actually I'm listening for the Trumpet and watching for Christ on the cloud. I'm ready for the Rapture. That's my exit strategy.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
What does emerge from Hubris is further confirmation of what we knew all along: the extraordinary venom of the interdepartmental rivalry that has characterized this administration. In particular, the bureaucracy at the State Department and the CIA appear to have used the indiscretion of Armitage to revenge themselves on the "neoconservatives" who had been advocating the removal of Saddam Hussein. Armitage identified himself to Colin Powell as Novak's source before the Fitzgerald inquiry had even been set on foot. The whole thing could—and should—have ended right there. But now read this and rub your eyes: William Howard Taft, the State Department's lawyer---I will let those interested read the rest of the story.
Monday, August 28, 2006
In September 2002, in a letter to President Bush, the U.S. Catholic Church discussed the concept of just war vis-a-vis Iraq. There are three commonly accepted principles for just war. These are 1.) Just cause 2.) legitimate authority 3.) probability of success and proportionality. According to the Catholic bishops, did the United States have just cause to wage war against Iraq in 2003? The bishops wanted direct evidence of either Iraq's complicity in the September 11th attacks or of an "imminent attack of a grave nature." On this count, the Bush administration had no such evidence and a war against Iraq was not just.
Did the United States have "legitimate authority" to go to war against Iraq? The bishops required broad public support and approval from the United Nations. In March 2003 Bush had Congressional authorization and a majority of support in U.S. public opinion. However, the U.S. clearly did not have the support of the United Nations. In fact, Kofi Annan declared the war illegal.
Finally, a just war should have a "strong probability of success and proportionality." Regarding this issue, the Bishops asked the following rhetorical questions of President Bush: "War against Iraq could have unpredictable consequences not only for Iraq but for peace and stability elsewhere in the Middle East. Would preventive or preemptive force succeed in thwarting serious threats or, instead, provoke the very kind of attacks that it is intended to prevent? How would another war in Iraq impact the civilian population, in the short- and long-term? How many more innocent people would suffer and die, or be left without homes, without basic necessities, without work? Would the United States and the international community commit to the arduous, long-term task of ensuring a just peace or would a post-Saddam Iraq continue to be plagued by civil conflict and repression, and continue to serve as a destabilizing force in the region?... Would war against Iraq detract from our responsibility to help build a just and stable order in Afghanistan and undermine the broader coalition against terrorism? "
Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Office of Social Development & World Peace, Letter to President Bush on Iraq, September 13, 2002.
In hindsight, it is clear to me that the United States failed the third criterion for just war in a very convincing way. The leadership of the U.S. Catholic church clearly believed the war against Iraq was not a just war. Finally, the Catholic bishops, like the prominent political scientists and historians, predicted a disaster in Iraq some six months prior to the start of the war.
Rumsfeld has not only sunk the Bush ship, he has sunk the Republican ship with his stagnation in Iraq for the last three years.
Bush could have been a great president but the cloud of Iraq will destroy him like Vietnam did Johnson.
Rumsfeld abdicated to his generals, continually saying I'm doing what my Generals tell me what to do.
If the Generals were calling the shots and obviously not getting the job done, they should have been fired along with Rumsfeld but Bush didn't have the brains or guts to do it.
This separates Bush for presidents like Lincoln and even Truman, who fired generals until they found the ones that would get the job done.
But for Bush to watch this fiasco go on for 3.5 years is totally inexcusable.
I'm a conservable republican that has never voted democrat and a retired LtCol but this type screw up is totally without excuse. Brain Dead stupid.
Bush is going down and he is taking the whole republican party with him. What a tragic end to what started out to be such a brilliant presidency.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides' hatred of the United States. But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.
I can remember reading from the 1960s on charts in newspapers and news magazines comparing the nuclear strength of the US vs. the USSR. Now an example of government "over-classification" of what everyone can see if they go back to an old issue of US News & World Report or some other public publication. 1971 vs. 1996
Friday, August 18, 2006
Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of the Palestinians’ legal case, their foremost argument for a "right of return" has always rested on a claim of unprovoked victimhood. In the Palestinians’ account, they were and remain the hapless targets of a Zionist grand design to dispossess them from their land. In the words of Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen), Yasser Arafat’s second-in-command and a chief architect of the 1993 Oslo accords: "When we talk about the right of return, we talk about the return of refugees to Israel, because Israel was the one who deported them." The political activist Salman Abu Sitta has put it in even more implacable terms:
"There is nothing like it in modern history. A foreign minority attacking the national majority in its own homeland, expelling virtually all of its population, obliterating its physical and cultural landmarks, planning and supporting this unholy enterprise from abroad, and claiming that this hideous crime is a divine intervention and victory for civilisation."
The claim of premeditated dispossession is itself not only baseless, but the inverse of the truth. Far from being the hapless victims of a predatory Zionist assault, the Palestinians were themselves the aggressors in the 1948-49 war, and it was they who attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to "cleanse" a neighbouring ethnic community. Had the Palestinians and the Arab world accepted the United Nations resolution of November 29, 1947, calling for the establishment of two states in Palestine, and not sought to subvert it by force of arms, there would have been no refugee problem in the first place.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
It sounds like yesterday's newspaper:
Growing lawlessness... led to the formation of citizen organizations for defense and reprisals... . Notable among these were... thugs drawn from the lower reaches of society... .
Ready to sell their services to the highest bidder, groups... competed against each other to serve the rival Shiite and Sunni camps in their incessant squabbles...
Yesterday's Financial Times on today's Iraq? No, Efraim Karsh on eighth-century Baghdad. Forgive yourself if "the more things change, the more they stay the same" comes to mind.
In his nervy, tightly documented Islamic Imperialism, Karsh challenges scholars and Muslim leaders to refute his own picture of Islam: an imperialist seventh-century Arabic movement that forced itself on neighboring lands such as today's Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Egypt for secular colonialist payoffs - money, booty, territory.
According to Karsh, Muhammad, by claiming Allah's authority to act as both a political and religious leader, was able "to cloak his political ambitions with a religious aura" and "channel Islam's energies" into geographic expansion.
Anyone not expert on early Islam will need a scorecard to follow the innumerable murders, impalings, decapitations and dismemberments that marked the early Islamic caliphates and Shiite/Sunni split. You think what's happening in Iraq is new? So many severed heads get sent from one leader to another in Islamic Imperialism, you wonder why "Fed Head" didn't get off the ground as a Meccan firm.
From Muhammad's farewell address in 632 ("I was ordered to fight all men until they say, 'There is no God but Allah.' "), to Saladin in 1189 ("I shall... pursue them until there remains no one... who does not acknowledge Allah"), to Osama bin Laden in 2001 ("I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah..."), Karsh finds Islam's outward imperialism consistent.