Friday, November 30, 2007

Republicans Mental Health Beats Dems 2-1

In mental health, you are often as healthy as you think you are, and the mass psychosis many Democrats suffer from derives as much from their inner instinct that tells them they are probably acting out neurotic tendencies and committing social peccadillos [actually crimes in some cases] because they had a bad family background.

Most conservatives [and most of them are Republicans] have a well-ordered existence with goals they achieve in a slow but steady fashion. They have orderly family lives and usually go to Church or contribute to society as part of "giving back."

Democrats often have disorderly lives with bouts of addiction or other marginally self-destructive behavior. They are likely to be divorced or have a LGBT orientation. Or at least they consider themselves as victims of some sort of exploitation or conspiracy.

Of course, these are generalizations and some liberal Democrats live lives of harmony and orderly goal-oriented loving-kindness. And some conservatives are nasty and marginally sociopathic. But in the main the Gallup Poll linked above is valid.

I believe liberals and Democrats often dislike their parents and consciously pattern their lives against the advice they received at home when they were young.

In the end, temperament has as much to do with mental health as anything else. I as an independent have a moderate temperament, though, like Jonathan Swift, I suffer from "saeva indignatio" when I see injustice and the suffering of innocents.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Favre-Romo Faceoff Goes Back to Romo's WI Roots

Pete Rozelle would never have let happen the ridiculous situtation below:
Thursday night's showdown is stirring up a hornet's nest of controversy for its lack of TV availability. The NFL's cable network will televise the game and they are in a heated dispute with a number of cable operators who are refusing to offer the league-owned network to their subscribers. Some other providers offer it for a fee.

Best game of the year [or tied with the Indy/Pats game].

Lotsa history here. In my own family, my Uncle Father Bill Knoernschild was the pastor of the Burlington parish where Romo grew up. Though I have no proof, I assume Fr. Bill baptized Romo, born of Hispanic parents, back in 1980 in Burlington, WI.

But Romo personally had a Stendhal moment in 1993, he says, when he went to Milwaukee Cty Stadium [where I watched many a Packer game] and saw young Brett throwing the laces off the ball. He decided then and there, he said a while back, to become a QB in the hope of emulating his hero, Brett.

I think I'm getting the game on ESPN, but sadly, many will miss this contest or have to go to sports bars to witness the best face-off in the NFC.

The NFL Commissioner should be ashamed, but we all know he and the owners are basically businessmen.

Wealthy Perv Suggests Water-Boarding Our Youth

Serial Sadistic Monsters proliferate in Hollyweird and its New England Gothic counterpart. Here's James Taranto's great take on Stephen King's latest twisted hallucinations.....
Fox News reports on author Stephen King's latest horror fantasy:

King has a solution for how to prove once and for all whether waterboarding is torture: Have Jenna Bush try it.

The bestselling author offered his unorthodox investigative method in a Time magazine interview during a discussion about the media's coverage of celebrity news.

"I said something to the 'Nightline' guy about waterboarding, and if the Bush administration didn't think it was torture, they ought to do some personal investigation," King recounted to Time. "Someone in the Bush family should actually be waterboarded so they could report on it to George."

"I said, I didn't think he would do it, but I suggested Jenna be waterboarded and then she could talk about whether or not she thought it was torture," King continued.

This reminded us of "Fahrenheit 9/11," in which distended documentarian Michael Moore approached various supporters of Iraq's liberation and demanded that they "send" their own sons to serve in the military there--notwithstanding that in America only adults can join the military, and neither their parents nor anyone else can compel them to do so. In a 2005 Slate article, Christopher Hitchens underscored the creepiness of this rhetorical device (grit your teeth for the obligatory anti-Christian snark):

Oh, Jesus, another barrage of emotional tripe about sons. From every quarter, one hears that the willingness to donate a male child is the only test of integrity. It's as if some primitive Spartan or Roman ritual had been reconstituted, though this time without the patriotism or the physical bravery. Worse, it has a gruesome echo of the human sacrifice that underpins Christian fundamentalism.

It reminded us, as well, of a story that the New York Times reports on today:

Megan Meier died believing that somewhere in this world lived a boy named Josh Evans who hated her. He was 16, owned a pet snake, and she thought he was the cutest boyfriend she ever had.

Josh contacted Megan through her page on, the social networking Web site, said Megan's mother, Tina Meier. They flirted for weeks, but only online--Josh said his family had no phone. On Oct. 15, 2006, Josh suddenly turned mean. He called Megan names, and later they traded insults for an hour.

The next day, in his final message, said Megan's father, Ron Meier, Josh wrote, "The world would be a better place without you."

Sobbing, Megan ran into her bedroom closet. Her mother found her there, hanging from a belt. She was 13.

"Josh Evans" turned out to be a fake. Megan was the victim of a cruel hoax, carried out in retaliation for her having dumped a neighbor girl with whom she had been friends.

What makes this story not just tragic but shocking is that the perpetrator of the hoax, Lori Drew, is the mother of Megan's erstwhile pal. At the time she created "Josh," Mrs. Drew was 47.

We do not pretend to understand what motivates a grown woman to behave so viciously toward a girl barely a third her age. But perhaps it is not insignificant that Lori Drew lives in a society in which famous entertainers feel free to trumpet their fantasies of aggression against other people's children.

S. King's fantasies have made him a lot of money. Maybe now he can begin to keep his perv delusionary ravings to himself.

And the creepy perv "Mom" should be arrested, tried, and hopefully convicted for internet assault---though the publicity from her sick psychosis [wishful thinking] could drive her [or perhaps it's a short putt] mad to the point that she might emulate poor Megan.

AFTERTHOUGHT I was reading Time's latest [11/27] edition on "America by the Numbers" and noted that a creep named Grunwald who claims to have editorial responsibilities in an anti-prayer rant against Georgia Gov. Perdue. The rest of the mag, which should be used as toilet paper, is similarly anti-God [or rather anti-Christian] much like Hitchens above.

Hope its circulation keeps going the same way as its editorial content---spiraling downward.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bill Clinton's Flip-Side Antics Damage Spouse's Campaign

The MSM wants Hillary as distaff-POTUS, but mainly wants Bill in the White House wings doing what he does best---alternatively charming and disedifying the American public.
It sells papers and gives Jay Leno another eight years of monologue material. Nuggets:
"Ladies and gentlemen," Clinton told 400 Iowans at the start of his three-city swing, "I have had a great couple of days out working for Hillary."

In the next 10 minutes, he used the word "I" a total of 94 times and mentioned "Hillary" just seven times in an address that was as much about his legacy as it was about his wife's candidacy.

He told the crowd where he bought coffee that morning and where he ate breakfast.

He detailed his Thanksgiving Day guest list, and menu.

He defended his record as president, rewriting history along the way.

And he explained why his endorsement of a certain senator from New York should matter to people.

"I know what it takes to be president," he said, "and because of the life I've led since I've left office."

I, me and my. Oh, my.

Thankfully, this will sober up Bubba and get him to practice a little of that promised self-discipline that his narcissism keeps postponing.

The ultimate self-absorbed "Boomer" demonstrates for all why his was the "worst generation."

Or at least, the "Least Greatest."

UPDATE Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that the Bubboid did tell another monster fib right there in front of sweet unsuspecting Iowans.
Late in his 50-minute address, Clinton told the crowd that wealthy people like he and his wife should pay more taxes in times of war. "Even though I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning, I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers," he said.

In truth, Clinton did not oppose the Iraq war from the start — at least not publicly.

If the former president secretly opposed the war but did not want to speak against a sitting president (as some of his aides now claim), what moral authority does he have now? And did he share his objections with his wife? She started out as a hawkish Democrat but is now appealing to anti-war voters.

In truth, Bubba did say publicly he did support the original invasion.

But who cares about the truth when you have such a compleat character entertaining you with tall tales and half-truths and ........

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Price of Oil: How Much Speculation &"Manipulation?"

Foreign Policy has an interview with a Wall Street analyst for Oppenheimer. Here are some nuggets:
I [Fadel Gheit] listen to the view of the largest international oil companies. I spent several hours with the head of the [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)] two years ago. At the time it was after Hurricane Katrina and oil prices were $62. He said, “Sixty-dollar oil is not good for OPEC; it’s not good for the global economy; it’s going to bring some dislocation; it’s going to bring government action.” And so I asked him, “Realistically speaking, what do you think is the ideal oil price?” And he said, “In our view, $45 is what we would like to see. That would give both producer and consumer some breathing room. It would give OPEC some sustainable demand growth, but also allow economic growth without inflation and so forth.” If OPEC would have been happy with $45 oil, and if the large international oil companies believed that oil prices above $40 would not be sustainable, how could they be so wrong, and oil prices be almost double what they were saying? The reason is the financial players.

That said, the biggest fear that OPEC has right now is that the same price volatility that brought oil prices from $50 to nearly $100 within a year could bring oil prices back down to $50 in a very short period of time. And who knows? Maybe the bottom is not even reached at $50 and could go even lower.

It’s very hard for me or anybody to think that we can maintain our level of growth with zero or a low level of inflation and have $100 oil. People who think this way are really daydreaming. It doesn’t happen. By excluding food and energy [from core inflation figures], we are really misleading people. From the gas pump to the supermarket to the department store, everything that you bought a year ago would cost you more today. I’m not saying it’s only energy that is causing this, but energy is a major component of the cost increase because it impacts everything we do. High oil prices will eventually slow down economic growth, if they haven’t already, and I believe they will start pushing inflation higher.

I do believe that there is a role for the U.S. government to play here, and that the government should be able to correct wrongdoing. The oil markets have been left almost unguarded. And I do believe that the financial institutions, while making billions of dollars in profits, are wrecking global economic growth. The same bubble that happened in housing and tech stocks will come back and haunt us. The U.S. government has an obligation to reign in some of this excessive speculation. Otherwise, there’s going to be a very bad ending.

Some background:
FP: The International Energy Agency is now saying that it’s really growing demand from China and India, not tight supply, that is driving these high oil prices. What do you make of that argument?

FG: Well, that is also true, but does it change the equation so much that we see oil prices up 60 percent in less than six months? Obviously not. I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and I can tell you, I try to justify $60 oil and I can’t find any plausible reason to think that oil prices should be a dollar above $60, let alone above $90 or $100.

FP: So what about derivatives trading—

FG: That’s exactly what I’m focusing on. I truly believe that major investment banks and a large number of very high-risk-taking financial players have seized control of the oil markets, especially in the last six months. During that time, oil prices moved in one direction and market fundamentals really moved sideways or even lowered. Demand has slowed down significantly. We have seen all kinds of indications that we are reaching a breaking point here. We’ve seen what happened to gasoline margins on the West Coast; they’ve dropped to an almost 18-year low. All this is an indication that something is wrong with the system, that supply and demand fundamentals do not justify the current price. But if the current price is based on speculation, there is no limit to how high oil prices can go. Basically, as long as there is somebody willing to bid higher, the price of the commodity will move higher.

Although there are a lot of culprits, Gheit points at commodity traders as the chief malfeasants in the whole mix, followed by culpability on some OPEC players:
FP: How much of the price of oil right now is really a “risk premium” associated with political turmoil in places like the Middle East, Venezuela, and Nigeria?

FG: Well, it’s very difficult to really quantify it. I wish there were a scale or a yardstick that one can use to do that, but one can deconstruct the $97 oil price and compare it to the $67 oil price only three months ago and see what happened in the world to push oil prices by $30 over a very short period of time. And basically, I can cite a few: The sharp drop in the U.S. dollar because of the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates; increased tension in the Middle East with tough talk by the administration against the Iranians; also, the dispute between the Kurdish rebels and Turkey—all of these things basically gave the financial players additional ammunition, if you will, to push the fear factor to a higher level. I do believe that oil prices are inflated, and significantly. If I were to quantify how much, I would say at least $40.

FP: So, in other words, our own fear is driving up the price of oil?

FG: Well, if you are a commodity trader, you want to do your best to push the commodity price in the direction that you forecast. And obviously, when you have a lot of financial players making bets on much higher oil prices, they would like to see a self-fulfilling prophecy. They want to see oil prices reach the level that they put the bet on. So, they can spread rumors. And if the glass is half empty or half full, they will say it’s empty.

To my knowledge, there is no oil shortage. Any willing buyers will not have a problem finding oil. Global inventories are over 4 billion barrels. In simple math, that is the equivalent of all the oil produced in the Middle East for six months. So, the fear premium, in my view, is totally exaggerated; it’s not justified by logic or market fundamentals. Again, it’s very difficult to quantify fear. But that is the psychological factor, in my view, that is bringing oil prices to these unprecedented levels. For instance, I don’t believe that Iran is going to cut oil exports, because Iran needs the revenue more than the world needs Iran’s oil. We have to be logical in assessing the risk. And obviously, financial players want to exaggerate the situation so that the risk premium increases and they make more money.

The US has a role to play, but the caution or gun-shy posture of the going-going-gone GWB administration will predictably keep anything from being done.

Unless I am totally wrong, and I hope I am.

Bernard Lewis and Annapolis

The Wall Street Journal has a magisterial article on the upcoming Annapolis Conference by Bernard Lewis:
Herewith some thoughts about tomorrow's Annapolis peace conference, and the larger problem of how to approach the Israel-Palestine conflict. The first question (one might think it is obvious but apparently not) is, "What is the conflict about?" There are basically two possibilities: that it is about the size of Israel, or about its existence.

If the issue is about the size of Israel, then we have a straightforward border problem, like Alsace-Lorraine or Texas. That is to say, not easy, but possible to solve in the long run, and to live with in the meantime.

If, on the other hand, the issue is the existence of Israel, then clearly it is insoluble by negotiation. There is no compromise position between existing and not existing, and no conceivable government of Israel is going to negotiate on whether that country should or should not exist.

PLO and other Palestinian spokesmen have, from time to time, given formal indications of recognition of Israel in their diplomatic discourse in foreign languages. But that's not the message delivered at home in Arabic, in everything from primary school textbooks to political speeches and religious sermons. Here the terms used in Arabic denote, not the end of hostilities, but an armistice or truce, until such time that the war against Israel can be resumed with better prospects for success. Without genuine acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State, as the more than 20 members of the Arab League exist as Arab States, or the much larger number of members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference exist as Islamic states, peace cannot be negotiated.

A good example of how this problem affects negotiation is the much-discussed refugee question. During the fighting in 1947-1948, about three-fourths of a million Arabs fled or were driven (both are true in different places) from Israel and found refuge in the neighboring Arab countries. In the same period and after, a slightly greater number of Jews fled or were driven from Arab countries, first from the Arab-controlled part of mandatory Palestine (where not a single Jew was permitted to remain), then from the Arab countries where they and their ancestors had lived for centuries, or in some places for millennia. Most Jewish refugees found their way to Israel.

What happened was thus, in effect, an exchange of populations not unlike that which took place in the Indian subcontinent in the previous year, when British India was split into India and Pakistan. Millions of refugees fled or were driven both ways -- Hindus and others from Pakistan to India, Muslims from India to Pakistan. Another example was Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, when the Soviets annexed a large piece of eastern Poland and compensated the Poles with a slice of eastern Germany. This too led to a massive refugee movement -- Poles fled or were driven from the Soviet Union into Poland, Germans fled or were driven from Poland into Germany.

The Poles and the Germans, the Hindus and the Muslims, the Jewish refugees from Arab lands, all were resettled in their new homes and accorded the normal rights of citizenship. More remarkably, this was done without international aid. The one exception was the Palestinian Arabs in neighboring Arab countries.

The government of Jordan granted Palestinian Arabs a form of citizenship, but kept them in refugee camps. In the other Arab countries, they were and remained stateless aliens without rights or opportunities, maintained by U.N. funding. Paradoxically, if a Palestinian fled to Britain or America, he was eligible for naturalization after five years, and his locally-born children were citizens by birth. If he went to Syria, Lebanon or Iraq, he and his descendants remained stateless, now entering the fourth or fifth generation.

The reason for this has been stated by various Arab spokesmen. It is the need to preserve the Palestinians as a separate entity until the time when they will return and reclaim the whole of Palestine; that is to say, all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel. The demand for the "return" of the refugees, in other words, means the destruction of Israel. This is highly unlikely to be approved by any Israeli government.

There are signs of change in some Arab circles, of a willingness to accept Israel and even to see the possibility of a positive Israeli contribution to the public life of the region. But such opinions are only furtively expressed. Sometimes, those who dare to express them are jailed or worse. These opinions have as yet little or no impact on the leadership.

Which brings us back to the Annapolis summit. If the issue is not the size of Israel, but its existence, negotiations are foredoomed. And in light of the past record, it is clear that is and will remain the issue, until the Arab leadership either achieves or renounces its purpose -- to destroy Israel. Both seem equally unlikely for the time being.

Lewis is correct that both sides have committed wrongs in the past, and I sadly concur that the talks will predictably founder on the existential demand that the Arabs will put forward that Israel destroy itself.

Mad Scientists Stage Putsch for World Domination

The Daily Telegraph has a piece by Christopher Booker on why Gordon Brown's politics match his grim Son of Shrek visage:
This year will be remembered for two things.

First, it was the year when the scientific data showed that the cosmic scare over global warming may well turn out to be just that - yet another vastly inflated scare.

Second, it was the year when the hysteria generated by all the bogus science behind this scare finally drove those who rule over us, including Gordon "Plastic Bags" Brown, wholly out of their wits.

It's apparent that lousy dumb politicos [Al Bore comes to mind] have completely hyped and hystericized the concerns about pollution and climate into some sort of Cargo Cult hyperspace Science [h/t: Richard Feynman].

By now, according to the Gore-bots serially mendacious "Inconvenient Truth[iness]," we in Florida should be battening down the hatches for the incessant hurricanes that his prize-winning Oscar flick predicted due to GWB's not signing Kyoto. Katrina was a media scam just like the Plamegate fiasco, where blame-game fingerpointing and scapegoating eventually blamed the wrong people [Louisiana Gov Blanco was at fault for not even requesting USG aid for days] in order to achieve spurious dishonest agendas. Booker notes:
On the one hand we have the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change coming up with yet another of its notoriously politicised reports, hyping up the scare by claiming that world surface temperatures have been higher in 11 of the past 12 years (1995-2006) than ever previously recorded.

But the truth is exactly the opposite:

This carefully ignores the latest US satellite figures showing temperatures having fallen since 1998, declining in 2007 to a 1983 level - not to mention the newly revised figures for US surface temperatures showing that the 1930s had four of the 10 warmest years of the past century, with the hottest year of all being not 1998, as was previously claimed, but 1934.

And urban legend is produced by the constant repetition of falsehoods, as Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and ridiculous mountebanks and impostors in the UN & the US Hollyweird media complex understand.

As the famous movie director John Ford said after one of his screenplays was shown to be actually factually false despite widespread popular belief to the contrary:

"Print the legend."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Never Sound Victory, Always Sound Retreat

Tom Maguire points out that the Fifth Column advocating defeat [or in Dingy Harry Reid's bleats to the Democrat flocks of sheeple, declaring it last March] may run into trouble when the defeatocrat left runs in the General Election next Fall.

Tonight I watched Hannity deconstruct Hillary by showing before and after videos demonstrating, amid nice montages of flip-flop slippers, her odious waffling on Iraq.

Even the Boston Globe chimes in in a moment of clarity. Are we going to experience one of those vaunted "paradigm shifts" or "sea changes" the academicide victims in the ivy dungeons love to proclaim?

Not if the usual suspects among the Kossacks and Puffington Horde are to be trusted. But of course, they aren't to be trusted, and that's the reason the shift may occur without their even feeling the earth move---they have levitated far above any mere cognitive level and are now functioning completely in the realm of mass psychosis, ruled by emotion and resentment.

Box Office Equals Vox Populi

Libertas has the skinny on the colossal revenues [/sarc] taken in by the current crop of anti-war agigprop put out by the Hollyweird 10 sixty years later [now they number thousands]:
Total revenue (foreign and domestic) from five anti-war films: $76.7 million.

(BDS-afflicted Southland Tales added to pour salt on the wound.)

* A Mighty Heart - 17.5 million
* In The Valley Of Elah - 10.0 million
* Rendition - 15.0 million
* Lions For Lambs - 33.9 million
* Redacted - 0.1 million
* Southland Tales - 0.2 million
Total: $76.7 million

Total revenue from a single kick-some-terrorist-butt film: $80.0 million.

* The Kingdom - $80.0 million

And of course these figures are the result of the immensely influential leftist movie reviewers from the NYT, New Yorker, and other FIFTH COLUMN publications.

Lions for Lambs accounts for nearly half the Fifth Column revenues and might even break even, though with the fading sunset luminaries who were formerly stars [Streep, Cruise, Redford], it might have been a nostalgia flick to note how far these three have fallen.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lahoud Leaves----Good Riddance.

Right-Wing Nuthouse has a post entitled "Countdown to Chaos." My guess is that if Hezbollah or Syria make a move, France & Israel will drag the reluctant inhabitant of the Oval Office into fixing Lebanon.

Lahoud's bloody crime wave as president reminds me way back when after heir-apparent to the Presidency of Lebanon Tony Franjieh, wife and infant child were murdered in the late seventies, State INR Chief Phyllis Oakley told me that Tony’s family had stayed with her and hubby Bob in Maine the previous summer. They had all gone to see The Godfather and Tony left the theater shaking…. “That movie is about my family and my country.”

His one-year old toddler was killed by tying a grenade to his bib and pulling the pin.

Gateway Pundit has more. I hope that constitutional means are followed, but Hezbollah needs to be smacked hard. This time we should help Israel more than before.

Friday, November 23, 2007

When Agitprop becomes Agitpoop

The Washington Post has an article so silly that it must be some sort of backstairs deal in retaliation for the Post's accurate positive reporting on the success of the surge.

In what only can be called an exercise in sustained wrongheadedness, the Pravda Redux going under the name of Center for American Progress [Regression, actually, in Orwellian "War is Peace, Love is Hate" antonyms] has an article by John Podesta, but probably penned by a C-List analyst named Lawrence Korb & his quill carrier. Here is the single funniest [unintentionally, for sure, because Korb & quill carrier are clueless] paragraph I've read recently on anything:
Proponents of the current path claim that, after four years of failed strategies, the surge was needed to get Iraq on track. They point to recent declines in the overall level of violence and cooperation at the local level between some Sunni insurgents and U.S. forces. But the progress being made at the local level often undermines the stated goal of creating a unified, stable, democratic Iraq. [emph. mine]

This is analysis made via funhouse mirrors. In other places, the "analysis" is simply contrary to present fact [AKA lies]:
Iraq is the issue of greatest concern to voters. Progressive candidates should be offering clarity on Iraq and pushing for a real change in course.

Actually, that would be illegal immigration, seconded by health care, with Iraq at least third down the list---but facts are anathema to devout "progressives," who revel in the delusion that what should be actually trumps reality.

As the surge works, you will see San Fran Nan frantically thrashing about to counter our success in Iraq with the failure the Democrats are so deeply invested in. There's a word describing her and Dingy Harry and their orc-phalanxes in Congress.

That word was used in the title of Barry Goldwater's tide-changing book "None Dare Call it Treason."

I do hope that the Demcorats campaign on Iraq and illegal immigration, two issues that might vault the feckless Republicans back into power in Congress, and dare I say it, keep them in the Oval Office. America deserves no less.

NY Crime Plummets, along with Stock Value of NYT

The New York Times writes on the decline in homocides in NYC not mentioning Rudy Giuliani, whose tough policy on crime, along with Police Commissioner Bratten's, was and still is deemed widely as being responsible for the decrease in murders and violent mayhem in the Rotten Apple.

In a closely related blog piece, Mickey Kaus notes that the stock value of the New York Times has decreased from over $50 in 2002 to around $17 at current market value. Looks like articles so one-sided that they do not mention the real reasons for the decline in crime are causing the decline in value of what used to be considered as the "newspaper of record."

At current rates, according to Mickey Kaus in his "Pinch works fast" snippet, we can see the NYT around $5/share in another half-decade---and then a fire sale and no more ruining the brand by a nitwit epigone scion.

However, one paragraph in the article on crime is worth looking at:
In the 412 killings this year, the number of people with previous arrests for narcotics was striking: 196 victims and 149 assailants. And 77 percent of the assailants had a previous arrest history, while 70 percent of the victims did, the statistics showed. Killers and those killed are overwhelmingly male and most in both categories are between 18 and 40, according to the police analysis. In terms of race and ethnicity, whites make up 7 percent of victims and assailants, while 66 percent of the victims and 61 percent of the assailants are black and 26 percent of the victims and 31 percent of the assailants are Hispanic.

Unless you are a mindless leftist victim of mass psychosis caused by media prevarications and tilt, this is serious food for thought.

Get the Led out with Kashmir

Kashmir is my favorite Led Zeppelin piece and I wish I could do the video on my blog. Maybe later, but if you hit the link, enjoy....:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lieberman for VP---Republican?

The Financial Times has a good piece from early November about Joe Lieberman and his commonsensical view on US foreign policy.
Mr Lieberman ... said he might not vote for the Democratic presidential nominee next year.

He argued that George W. Bush and the Republican presidential candidates remained truer than the Democratic party to its tradition of a "moral, internationalist, liberal and hawkish" foreign policy that was established by presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy.

"The Democratic party I grew up in was unafraid to make moral judgments about the world beyond our borders," he said.

"[Today's Democrats] are inclined to see international problems as a result of America's engagement with the world and are viscerally opposed to the use of force - the polar opposite to the self-confident and idealistic nationalism of the party I grew up in."

Joe L. dismissed suggestions that he run as VP along with John McCain, himself a centrist Republican whose views on illegal immigration have gotten the former war prisoner in Dutch with most Republican voters and most centrists as well.
Mr Lieberman, who is now an "independent Democrat", dismissed speculation that he would consider becoming the running mate of John McCain, the Republican contender.

However, if Joe would eventually consider a position on the ticket, it would only be, IMHO, as a running mate with a true conservative, such as Fred Thompson, an ideological step Lieberman would predictably be loath to take.

However, the Palm Beach County Chairman of the Republican Party [ret.] told me that when JL was on the ticket with AG in 2000, the 40+% of the Jewish community in Florida who are Republicans voted heavily for Joe, as one of their own, and thereby made the FL election vote so famously close that year. Were Joe to be VP on a Rep ticket, he could have the same effect on Jewish voters of a Dem stripe, and a few close states might go red in '08.

Not that this might foreseeably come about, given present circumstances, but in this election year, as in the college football season, perhaps anything might happen.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

UN "scientists" are never wrong, except when they are.

The Ministry of Truth, AKA the NYT, is caught in another ham-handed self-spoof today by James Taranto, the watchful WSJ arbiter of NYT absurdities, which occur on a daily basis. Here is Taranto's column in Best of the Web:
"The Scientists Speak," reads the headline of the New York Times editorial, which informs us that there is no question the New York Times editorialists are right:

The world's scientists have done their job. Now it's time for world leaders, starting with President Bush, to do theirs. That is the urgent message at the core of the latest--and the most powerful--report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 2,500 scientists who collectively constitute the world's most authoritative voice on global warming.

Released in Spain over the weekend, the report leaves no doubt that man-made emissions from the burning of fossil fuels (and, to a lesser extent, deforestation) have been responsible for the steady rise in atmospheric temperatures.

There is no doubt! These are scientists, after all, and they're working for the U.N. They don't make mistakes!

Or do they? Here's a news story that also appears in the Times today:

The United Nations' AIDS-fighting agency plans to issue a report today acknowledging that it overestimated the size of the epidemic and that new infections with the deadly virus have been dropping each year since they peaked in the late 1990s.

We're so confused. Didn't the scientists speak? How could they have gotten it so wrong? After all, they're scientists!

Here's a quote from the Washington Post that may shed some light on the matter:

"There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda," said Helen Epstein, author of "The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS." "I hope these new numbers will help refocus the response in a more pragmatic way."

Could it be that we are watching the same phenomenon with the whole global-warmist hysteria? Our bet would be yes.

However, the devil with a deep-blue dress on must also occasionally, like a broken clock, be correct. Here Taranto damns the NYT with faint praise:
So far as we know, pigs have not flown, and hell has not frozen over. But something almost as unusual happened: The lead story in today's New York Times--stretching two-thirds of the way across the front page--is about Baghdad, and it's good news:

The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad's streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.

As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.

Iraqis are clearly surprised and relieved to see commerce and movement finally increase, five months after an extra 30,000 American troops arrived in the country.

Of course the Times notes that "the depth and sustainability of the changes remain open to question"--which is just another way of saying that journalists can't report on things that haven't happened yet*. Blogger Edward Morrissey notes just how remarkable is this story's appearance in the Times:

Just two months ago, the paper gave MoveOn a price break to run an ad that accused General David Petraeus of treason and perjury even before he testified about the security improvements. The editorial board called Petraeus' testimony "empty calories" and complained of his "broken promises and false claims of success" and asserted that Petraeus had not given an "honest accounting" in his Congressional briefings.

The Times waited until the success of Petraeus could no longer be denied to publish the truth.

The Washington Post, though, has a story you probably won't read in the Times anytime soon:

Abu Nawall, a captured al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, said he didn't join the Sunni insurgent group here to kill Americans or to form a Muslim caliphate. He signed up for the cash.

"I was out of work and needed the money," said Abu Nawall, the nom de guerre of an unemployed metal worker who was paid as much as $1,300 a month as an insurgent. He spoke in a phone interview from an Iraqi military base where he is being detained. "How else could I support my family?"

U.S. military commanders say that insurgents across the country are increasingly motivated more by money than ideology and that a growing number of insurgent cells, struggling to pay recruits, are turning to gangster-style racketeering operations.

U.S. military officials have responded by launching a major campaign to disrupt al-Qaeda in Iraq's financial networks and spread propaganda that portrays its leaders as greedy thugs, an effort the officials describe as a key factor in their recent success beating down the insurgency.

The Times, in an effort to promote the notion that al Qaeda has nothing to do with Iraq, has actually adopted a house style of referring to al Qaeda in Iraq as "al Qeada in Mesopotamia" and describing it as a grassroots Iraqi group that "the Bush administration says" has foreign leadership. It would be more accurate to identify it as "al Qaeda's Iraqi branch, which recruits local mercenaries to murder their countrymen."
* Except, of course, when "the scientists speak."

It is difficult for an institution that once prided itself to be "the newspaper of record" to now be regarded as a shill for opponents of the USA whereever they may be overseas, from Chavez to Putin to Ahmed..jad. By the time Pinch deconstructs the family heirloom, it may be as relevant as the Christian Science Monitor, except that it would be less accurate.

Scientists should be taken seriously when they find a clean way to get stem cells; they should not when extrapolating ambiguous data into the future as to climate at the end of the 21st century.

Leave that to astrologers, who have a higher ethical standard than the payday-to-prognosticate quacks who get research monies from lefty "think tanks" that reward "scientists" for coming to the "right" conclusion.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Created Equal?

Slate has an article sure to upset the group-think crowd. William Saletan writes supporting IQ as an indicator of something:
Evolution forced Christians to bend or break. They could insist on the Bible's literal truth and deny the facts, as Bryan did. Or they could seek a subtler account of creation and human dignity. Today, the dilemma is yours. You can try to reconcile evidence of racial differences with a more sophisticated understanding of equality and opportunity. Or you can fight the evidence and hope it doesn't break your faith.

I'm for reconciliation. Later this week, I'll make that case. But if you choose to fight the evidence, here's what you're up against. Among white Americans, the average IQ, as of a decade or so ago, was 103. Among Asian-Americans, it was 106. Among Jewish Americans, it was 113. Among Latino Americans, it was 89. Among African-Americans, it was 85. Around the world, studies find the same general pattern: whites 100, East Asians 106, sub-Sarahan Africans 70. One IQ table shows 113 in Hong Kong, 110 in Japan, and 100 in Britain. White populations in Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States score closer to each other than to the worldwide black average. It's been that way for at least a century.

What could have brought about such differences?
In fact, there's a mountain of evidence that differential evolution has left each population with a balance of traits that could be advantageous or disadvantageous, depending on circumstances. The list of differences is long and intricate. On average, compared to whites, blacks mature more quickly in the womb, are born earlier, and develop teeth, strength, and dexterity earlier. They sit, crawl, walk, and dress themselves earlier. They reach sexual maturity faster, and they have better eyesight. On each of these measures, East Asians lag whites and blacks. In exchange, East Asians get longer lives and bigger brains.

How this happened isn't clear. Everyone agrees that the three populations separated 40,000 to 100,000 years ago. Even critics of racial IQ genetics accept the idea that through natural selection, environmental differences may have caused abilities such as distance running to become more common in some populations than in others. Possibly, genes for cognitive complexity became so crucial in some places that nature favored them over genes for developmental speed and vision. If so, fitness for today's world is mostly dumb luck. If we lived in a savannah, kids programmed to mature slowly and grow big brains would be toast. Instead, we live in a world of zoos, supermarkets, pediatricians, pharmaceuticals, and information technology. Genetic advantages, in other words, are culturally created.

Read the whole article. It's first in a series. Tomorrow, Saletan will attempt to refute the statements above.

After you read them all, you can make the call.

UPDATE: For a view on this issue, go here

Germany: Aircraft Carrier with Sausages?

The Wall Street Journal has an opinion piece calling Germany the "soft underbelly of Europe," an ironic reference to Italy & the Mediterranean during WWII. After a couple of paras on European leniency to convicted terrorists, author Mark Helprin adds:
the variations in European attitudes and capabilities vis-à-vis responding to terrorism or nuclear blackmail are what make Germany such an attractive target. Unlike the U.S., France, and Britain, Germany is a major country with no independent expeditionary capability and no nuclear weapons, making it ideal for a terrorist nuclear strike or Iranian extortion if Iran is able to continue a very transparent nuclear policy to its logical conclusion. Though it is conceivable that after the shock of losing Washington or Chicago, the U.S.--or Britain after Birmingham, France after Lyon--would, even without an address certain, release a second strike, it is very unlikely that, even with an address certain, any nuclear power would launch in behalf of another nation, NATO ally or not, absent an explicit arrangement such as the dual-key structure during the Cold War.

Germany was targeted and narrowly missed a Madrid-like terrorist catastrophe when bombs on trains failed to explode last year. They were traced to Lebanon, but the Germans ostrich-like were in deep denial and downplayed the failed attempt at mass murder on their soil.
Looking at Germany, then, Iran sees a country with nothing to counter the pressure of merely an implied nuclear threat. Jihadists see the lynchpin of Europe, easy of access and inadvertently hospitable to operations, that will hardly punish those who fall into its hands, and that can neither accomplish on its own a flexible expeditionary response against a hostile base or sponsor, nor reply to a nuclear strike in kind. Thus the German government should be especially nervous about cargos trucked overland from the east.

What might be done? NATO could abandon the mistaken belief that Europe, having seen the end of history and the end of war, will always be in the clear. It could publicly make known to Russia that, for the purpose of maintaining the balance of power necessary to keep the gate to Western Europe closed and the prospects of war dim, it will judiciously and proportionally match Russian military expansion.

For its own protection, and thus that of Europe, Germany could more closely integrate and where appropriate reintegrate itself into the expeditionary and nuclear retaliatory structures of the U.S., Britain, and France without moving nuclear weapons forward to German soil; end leniency for terrorists; step up defensive measures as if it is just about to be hit; and embrace limited missile defense against potentially nuclear-armed Iranian intermediate-range ballistic missiles rather than accept the Russian thesis that 10 interceptors will perturb the nuclear equation.

However, as their denial of any knowledge of the Holocaust during WWII, the Germans are capable of sustained and willful ignorance of its responsibilities. Helprin says:
What are the chances of this? Though the West comprises the richest grouping of nations the world has ever seen, it has somehow come to believe not only that it is not entitled to its customary defenses but that it cannot afford them. And looking ahead strategically so as to outmaneuver crisis and war has, unfortunately, long been out of fashion.

Wealth and passivity have produced a passive satiety that Germany and other European countries find comfortable in their so-called foreign policy, which consists mainly of second-guessing pro-active allies like the USA. Hopefully Sarkozy is starting a trend which pushes back toward the continental appeasement the EU shows towards foreign threats.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving Paean from Mark Steyn

Thanksgiving is a peculiarly American feast, to celebrate what Bismarck called the incredible luck of the United States of America back in the nineteenth century. We have managed to avoid a lot of the political childhood diseases that afflict most of the members of the United Nations.

Despite America's being disparaged constantly by supercilious Old World Euro-types, people keep flocking to our country and overstay tourist visas. Or just cross our southern and northern borders at an alarming rate, jumping the queue in front of legal aspirants for immigration. Mark Steyn does a little payback for the aforesaid disparagement and condescension from across the pond:
Americans think of Europe as Goethe and Mozart and 12th century castles and 6th century churches, but the Continent's governing mechanisms are no more ancient than the Partridge Family. Aside from the Anglophone democracies, most of the nation-states in the West have been conspicuous failures at sustaining peaceful political evolution from one generation to the next, which is why they're so susceptible to the siren song of Big Ideas – communism, fascism, European Union.

If you're going to be novelty-crazed, better the zebra-mussel cappuccino than the Third Reich.

Even in a supposedly 50/50 nation, you're struck by the assumed stability underpinning even fundamental disputes. If you go into a bookstore, the display shelves offer a smorgasbord of leftist anti-Bush tracts claiming that he and Cheney have trashed, mangled, gutted, raped and tortured, sliced 'n' diced the Constitution, put it in a cement overcoat and lowered it into the East River. Yet even this argument presupposes a shared veneration for tradition unknown to most Western political cultures: When Tony Blair wanted to abolish, in effect, the upper house of the national legislature, he just got on and did it.

I don't believe the U.S. Constitution includes a right to abortion or gay marriage or a zillion other things the Left claims to detect emanating from the penumbra, but I find it sweetly touching that in America even political radicalism has to be framed as an appeal to constitutional tradition from the powdered-wig era.

In Europe, by contrast, one reason why there's no politically significant pro-life movement is because, in a world where constitutions have the life expectancy of an Oldsmobile, great questions are just seen as part of the general tide, the way things are going, no sense trying to fight it. And, by the time you realize you have to, the tide's usually up to your neck.

So Americans should be thankful they have one of the last functioning nation-states. Europeans, because they've been so inept at exercising it, no longer believe in national sovereignty, whereas it would never occur to Americans not to. This profoundly different attitude to the nation-state underpins, in turn, Euro-American attitudes to transnational institutions such as the United Nations.

But on this Thanksgiving the rest of the world ought to give thanks to American national sovereignty, too. When something terrible and destructive happens – a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan – the United States can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply.

My brother is the head of a USAID education project in Banda Aceh and will remain there for another three years on a five-year contract. These small kindnesses never make it to American newspapers, or are pooh-poohed by corrupt UN agencies attempting to politicize the weather.

No good deed,,,,,

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Republic Critic Smacks Down Redacted

When a center-left publication like the New Republic calls an anti-war movie an atrocity against our minds, you know that the movie must be mighty bad. Christopher Orr deconstructs Brian De Palma's entire oeuvre over the last two decades as he alternately belly-punches and dissects with a scalpel this ridiculous flick:
...the "found" footage gimmick, while perfectly adequate to conveying the rhythms of daily life, is almost uniquely unsuited to capturing the discussion and commission of war atrocities--activities that, as a general rule, people hesitate to perform on camera.

The entire second half of the film is a series of contrivances intended to get around this inconvenient fact. Easily the most preposterous is De Palma's having his camera-happy marine (Izzy Diaz) secretly film the rape and murder of the young girl with a tiny, helmet-mounted camera because he thinks the repulsive footage will help him get into film school. (Since, as we all know, USC holds open a few slots for self-documented war criminals.) But there are other contortions almost as ridiculous: The fat, bullying rapist ringleader (Daniel Stewart Sherman), who seems to go out of his way to make sure he's standing in front of a security camera every time he threatens to kill his squad-mates if they squeal on him; an unintentionally hilarious scene in which a soldier is filming himself on the street when a van pulls up and masked insurgents jump out and abduct him.

Worse, De Palma seems to think the spliced-together format releases him from such typical cinematic obligations as narrative continuity, character development, and aesthetic vision. Almost every scene in the latter part of the film is a self-contained, hyper-theatrical minidrama, an episode intended to express, as bluntly as possible, exactly one ideological data point: War turns men into monsters; the military brass coddles offenders and punishes whistleblowers; we all watch and do nothing.

Thanks to Redacted's clumsy, transparent politicking, the crime it portrays never feels remotely real, despite being closely based on an actual atrocity committed by American troops in Mahmudiyah in 2006. (De Palma evidently relocated the events in order to wedge in an awkward, pseudoliterary reference to John O'Hara's Appointment in Samarra.) Redacted is intended to be shocking, controversial, and, yes, offensive to some viewers. The surprise is that De Palma is now too inept even to offend.

Bill O'Reilly wants to have picketers outside the multiplexes, but if the picture is this bad, calling attention to it might get viewers who might otherwise not attend. This is about the fourth exercise in Hollyweird's putting out toxic anti-war garbage that viewers don't want to see.

Can't wait to see the bottom line these degenerates generate!!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Queen Hillary Blown Away by Hurricane Camille

Camille Paglia notes the momentary disarray of Hillary's campaign with a few acerbic asides. First on Hillary's hijacking of the Senate seat in New York & its methodology:
Hillary's stonewalling evasions and mercurial, soulless self-positionings have been going on since her first run for the U.S. Senate from New York, a state she had never lived in and knew virtually nothing about. The liberal Northeastern media were criminally complicit in enabling her queenlike, content-free "listening tour," where she took no hard questions and where her staff and security people (including her government-supplied Secret Service detail) staged events stocked with vetted sympathizers, and where they ensured that no protesters would ever come within camera range.

That compulsive micromanagement, ultimately emanating from Hillary herself, has come back to haunt her in her dismaying inability to field complex unscripted questions in a public forum. The presidential sweepstakes are too harsh an arena for tenderfoot novices. Hillary's much-vaunted "experience" has evidently not extended to the dynamic give-and-take of authentic debate. The mild challenges she has faced would be pitiful indeed by British standards, which favor a caustic style of witty put-downs that draw applause and gales of laughter in the House of Commons. Women had better toughen up if they aspire to be commander in chief
Camille then points out the convergence of that "compulsive micromanagement" with old-fashioned feminism of the bra-burning emotionality that simply should absent itself from presidential campaigning---especially when more-heat-than-light Ann Lewis gets involved. Ann is an old sparring partner of Camille's who lacks Camille's deft touch and her brother Barney Frank's brains and wit:
Aside from the stylish Huma [Abedin], there's definitely something weird and cultish in the sycophantish cathexis onto Hillary of the many nerds, geeks and vengeful viragos who run her campaign -- sometimes to her detriment, as with the recent ham-handed playing of the clichéd gender card. I suspect the latter dumb move, which has backfired badly, came from Ann Lewis (Barney Frank's sister), a fanatical Hillary true believer who has been spouting beatific feminist bromides about her for the past 15 years. (The transcript of my tangle with Lewis about Hillary on CNN's "Crossfire" in 1994 is reprinted in my second essay collection.) Hillary seems to have acolytes rather than friends -- hardly a reassuring trait for a potential president whose paranoia has already been called Nixonian. Isolated monarchs never hear the bad news until the people riot and the lynch mob is at the door.

Paglia then jump-shifts to the larger perspective of why the Democrats or anyone has fielded a more capable female presidential candidate. After she notes Nancy Pelosi's grandmotherly charm [I say nothing about Pelosi's ham-handed wrong-footed political
clumsiness] and Mediterranean warmth, Camille switches to Dianne Feinstein's political dexterity & interesting combination of expertise and gravitas without Hillary's self-righteous screechiness.

Unmentioned by Paglia is the fact that Feinstein has her husband's enormous profits from military-related contracts she herself engineered and maneuvered through Congress. This ginormous baggage has gone un-noticed by the vigilant investigative sleuths in the MSM, particularly the LAT, but in a campaign would be an elephant in the boudoir of a Feinstein candidacy.

Camille finally dodges what I believe is Hillary's mortal flaw, her inability to project Pelosi's skill with family relationships and Feinstein's expertise/gravitas. Hillary appears too brittle and too wonky without redeeming character assets to overcome these obvious character deficits.

Until she can overcome her compulsion to control and micromanage, she will be a sort of Jimmy Carter without the smile. Ultimately, a confection rather than a rich nutritious multi-course dinner.

American Politics: Passage to India?

I once had the occasion to be in Mumbai [then Bombay] for a week during statewide elections in Maharashtra State, one of the most populous in that populous country. I watched the [Muslim, not Environmental] Green Party's long cavalcades wind through the crowded streets with songs and very un-Islamic pictures and behind giant emerald flags with what appeared to be Arabic script written on them---like Saudi flags. John Dickerson has an interesting anecdote about "plantgate" in Slate that could indicate that the US is sliding inexorably toward the seething factionalism and countless political tricks that the ingenious sub-continentals have invented in only sixty years of Democracy since their independence. In Slate, John D. relates about Hillary's questioner:
I didn't think the question was a plant at the time. It sounded a little general and prerehearsed, but a lot of town-hall questions sound that way. Days before the controversy broke, Bhagyashree Garekar, a correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times, asked me if I thought the questions had been planted at Clinton events we had both attended. I said I didn't think so. No candidate would be so stupid. When news broke that at least one had been, I called Garekar to ask what had tipped her off, since she hadn't made it to the Newton event. "This is common practice in many foreign countries, particularly India," she said. What was supposed to be a free-flowing exchange sounded rehearsed to someone with firsthand knowledge of the practice.

Only a cloud no larger than a man's hand.

Perhaps America's passage to India may be more than getting one's computer fixed via phone at 3AM.

Or perhaps Hillary's mysterious girl Friday of Pakistani heritage had come up with the idea---given the tightness of the Clinton Inc. ship, we'll probably never know.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The New Republic Reviews Lions for Lambs

Christopher Orr is hardly a conservative movie critic, but his take on Redford's latest failure is perhaps the most perceptive. Although many others have waxed eloquent about the multiple failures of this bomb---which manages to waste more star-power than any since the turn of the millenium. Norman Podhoretz in The Corner was the most derisive, but Orr's piece articulates the overwhelming patronizing condescension Redford has for us all:
But Lions for Lambs is not merely a silly, shallow movie about the war: Its ambitions are broader and more scattered. Not content to stay focused on its central issue, it dabbles and babbles hither and yon, tossing off sophomore term-paper opinions on such topics as Americorps, consumerism, student loans, and corporate ownership of the media.

Late in the movie, Roth, fresh from her interview, has an anguished discussion with her editor. Should they run the story the senator has given them? Did their early, credulous reporting in the run-up to the Iraq war make them just as culpable as its planners? Should they have quit their jobs when their network was bought by a soap company in the 1990s? Have they (gasp) sold out?

It's an odd, awkward scene, and I confess that it wasn't until this point that it struck me that, on a certain level, Lions to Lambs isn't really about the war on terrorism at all; it's about the boomers. The movie's backward focus, its lectures on peripheral issues, even the inclusion of the otherwise unnecessary professor-student storyline, are all hints that this may be less a political document than a cultural one.

What? The most self-absorbed narcissistic generation since Incroyable et Merveilleuse in the 1790s actually can't get away from navel-gazing? Redford is always sincerely supercilious, if you can wrap your brain around that oxymoron. Cruisie baby is a yeller and at times a screamer---his understanding of psychology underpins every cinematic moment he is on screen. And Streep must adopt the tics and twitches of over-the-hill past-their-prime journalists somewhat like Dan Rather in drag. Finally, Orr spanks the chief perp in the movie, Redford's weary smug sneer:
the liberal professor [Redford] is disappointed that his students lack the passion
and fervor of his own youth. It's on this last point that Redford is at his most patronizing. When, repeatedly, the film criticizes today's kids for being more interested in making money than in making a difference, one is tempted to reply: Yes, Mr. Redford, what a lucky thing it is for all of us that when you were young you eschewed fame and fortune.

The contemptible Redford's only hope is that victims of academicide will force their students to watch, as Orr notes:
The screening of the film I attended also hosted a sizable contingent of students from American University, who came with their professor. It seemed apt. Lions for Lambs is a movie no one should bother seeing unless they're getting credit for it.

I wish Orr had quizzed the students out of the mentor-minder's earshot on what THEY had thought of the cinematic lecture.

Perhaps Hollyweird's shot at ensuring a loss in Iraq has evaporated, now that the surge is succeeding and the MSM has gone silent on events in Mess o' potamia.

Just when these turncoats and traitors thought they had another Vietnam to be brave about protesting, the war turns around and gets won. Tsk, tsk. Destiny sure plays some weird tricks!

UN Seeks to Control Internet: 1984 is here.

The United Nations has had commissions and committees on freedom of information since the sixties when a new wave of third-world nations joined the UN.

In the doublespeak of the UN, freedom of information means freedom for the governments of their respective countries to control information crossing their borders. The seventies had the Group of 77 pushing for UN licensing of reporters, among many innovations seeking to restrict or control information.

Since then, the UN has regenerated various plans to control the flow of information, always masking their intentions with the word "freedom" in the terminology. Because, of course, the UN has roughly 200 members of which most are run by families [Saudi Arabic & the Gulf states], military [most Arab countries & Burma, the PRC & N.Korea], and political kleptocracies [Latin America] all of whom detest political opposition or ban it outright. The sixty or so "free" or "democratic" countries are of course the most prosperous, and the most politically liberal.

The UN is counting on defections from the free countries among political liberals to allow it to cajole or even coerce the USA to give up ownership [through ARPA, the original DOD "inventor" of the internet---apologies to Al Gore]. GWB is becoming wobbly like his poppy and could look for legacy points by selling out USA ownership and control.

John Hawkins has my response already at his site. The internet is in its own way the last best hope for mankind overcoming the bureaucratic kleptocracies & quasi-totalitarian Lilliputians that attempt to tie down the US Gulliver with a thousand tiny threads.

The UN has become largely a joke as far as international governance is concerned. Let's not turn a joke into a tragedy.

Price of Oil: Supply & Demand + Speculation?

The Financial Times has an article with a misleading scare headline on Drudge of "No Relief. Saudi Oil Minister Rejects OPEC Raise." That's for next week's meeting. Minister Ali Naimi goes on to say:
But with prices close to $100 a barrel, Mr Naimi left the door open to action when the oil cartel meets in Abu Dhabi next month, signalling the group was “watching” the market very carefully and Saudi Arabia would “look at all the information available”.

Nonetheless, he said a decision on a rise at the Abu Dhabi meeting was still “premature”.

Repeating Saudi Arabia’s argument that Opec had “nothing to do with where the price is today”, Mr Naimi said oil inventory levels were still comfortable
Long-time OPEC watchers believe that the markets will self-correct as consumption declines, trouble spots like the western Gulf of Mexico and Nigerian Delta are corrected, and speculative options traders calm down.

Unless a disaster occurs, the dreaded $100 psychological plateau will not be achieved.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Crime King Chavez Told to "Shut Up" by Spanish King

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article by Moses Naim, editor of Foreign Policy magazine and the author of "Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats Are Hijacking the Global Economy," on how Chavez's rule in Venezuela is creating the world's major hub for crime and smuggling and other syndicates attempting to subvert law and order. Naim, himself an all-but-avowed socialist, makes some strong accusations in the LA Times piece:
Venezuela has become a major hub for international crime syndicates. What attracts them is not the local market; what they really love are the excellent conditions Venezuela offers to anyone in charge of managing a global criminal network.

A nation at the crossroads of South America, the Caribbean, North America and Europe, Venezuela's location is ideal. Borders? Long, scantly populated and porous. Financial system? Large and with easy-to-evade governmental controls. Telecommunications, ports and airports? The best that oil money can buy. U.S. influence? Nil. Corrupt politicians, cops, judges and military officers? Absolutely: Transparency International ranked Venezuela a shameful 162 out of 179 counties on its corruption perception index. Chavez's demonstrated interest in confronting criminal networks during his eight years in power? Not much.

Naim proceeds to delineate the outlines of Hugo Chavez's illegal activities, including subverting UN guidelines on arms control and production.
In Uruguay, an outraged legislator dropped this bombshell a few weeks ago: A group of Venezuelans had engineered the sale of Iranian arms and munitions to his country, using Venezuelan companies as a cover to bypass the U.N. embargo on Iran's arms trade. Likewise, the guerrillas in Colombia seem to have no trouble acquiring weapons through Venezuela-based arms dealers.

Naim notes that other leftist "elected" leaders of Latin American countries are in the organized crime spree, including the President of Argentina:
While this situation has so far been rather invisible to the rest of the world, it is patently clear to those in charge of fighting transnational crime. Anti-trafficking officials in Europe, the United States, Asia and other Latin American countries are paying unprecedented attention to Venezuela. These officials are not particularly interested in Venezuelan politics or in Chavez's policies. All they care about is that the tentacles of these global criminal networks are spreading from Venezuela into their countries with enormous power and at great speed.

The numbers speak volumes: About 75 tons of cocaine left Venezuela in 2003; it is estimated that 276 tons will leave the country this year. Before, the main destination was the United States; now, Europe is increasingly the target. Italy and Spain are two new important and lucrative end-user markets, and earning in euros is undeniably better than getting paid in dollars these days.

A senior Dutch police officer told me that he and his European colleagues are spending more time in Caracas than in Bogota, Colombia, and that the heads of many of the major criminal cartels now operate with impunity, and effectiveness, from Venezuela. The cartel bosses aren't exclusively Colombians -- there are Asians (especially Chinese) and Europeans too. Caracas' most posh neighborhoods are home to important kingpins from around the world, including some from Belarus, a country that Chavez notably has visited several times.

Venezuela appears near the top of lists compiled by the anti-money-laundering authorities as well. Money moves in and out, and not just through electronic inter-bank transfers. The combination of private jets, suitcases full of cash and diplomatic immunity has opened up new possibilities. Recently, one Venezuelan member of the boliburguesía -- the new mega-rich -- was caught carrying at least one suitcase full of money. He was discovered by a customs officer in Buenos Aires but not arrested. Turns out he was traveling on an executive jet with senior members of the government of Argentina's president, Nestor Kirchner.

Meanwhile at a Latin-American summit in Chile, the King of Spain walked out when serial buffoon Hugo Chavez called former Spanish Prime Minister Aznar a "fascist". The Socialist PM of Spain Zapatero praised Aznar as the elected representative of the Spanish people even though he did not agree with Aznar's "ideology."

Buffoon Chavez rudely said he had a right to be rude and stupid, as he represents the Venezuelan people [Oops, I made that last part up, fat Hugo said he had a right to say what he wanted.] He is in the Naomi Campbell/Sean Penn/Cindy Sheehan eternal child tantrum mode more and more as the blog below notes. Venezuela News and Views has a long analysis and description of Chavez's descent into petty tyranny, as he plans a totalitarian dictatorship more suitable to his Hitlerian temperament. [My interpretation.]

Friday, November 09, 2007

UPDATE: Joe Lieberman: Dem Party Captive to Loony Leftists

UPDATE: I find that my original blog first draft written yesterday afternoon advocating Joe for Repub VP has been seconded by Bill Kristol [or vice versa, as I didn't see the memeorandum piece until five minutes ago]. Giant minds, yadda, yadda...!

Joe Lieberman is a pillar of honesty in a very morally and intellectually polluted Democratic Party. I can recall the days of Democrats like Scoop Jackson when Democrats were as eager as Republicans to oppose threats to our national security---even when they might have to pay a price by alienating Stevenson-loving one-worlders who believed the UN should take over international affairs, leaving each country at the mercy of the General Assembly, with only a veto action in the UNSC protecting America's sovereignty.

The days of Jackson and other patriots in the Democratic Party are almost gone. The one holdout in the party against zany protect-our-enemy-punish-our-ally crowd is Joe, who knows that the ultra-left Democrats comprise only a tiny--but noisy---minority of the Democratic Party itself. They are a lot like the old Stevenson-wing as epitomized by the California Democratic Councils I worked with back in the '68 Campaign, which Senator Cranston employed as a personal vehicle of political aggrandizement. This tiny noisy minority is concentrated in moonbattery-marinated Hollyweird and its East Coast alphabet TV network allies, state university academicide victims, and nutty gender-specific constituencies that go beyond protecting their own interests and try to proclaim an agenda of defeatism and abdication of sovereignty on the international stage and entitlement niches in our domestic politics.

I bear a grudge against Alan Cranston because his last appearance on the national stage was typically wrong-headed, as he hounded Amb. April Glaspie out of the Foreign Service for following Sec. of State Baker's instructions. Baker played the role of sanctimonious hypocrite as he let April hang out to dry.

Joe Lieberman has defended America's over-the-horizon defense against terrorism to the detriment of his own career. Yes, he is an ardent Zionist and that IS an agenda. But he is open and straightforward in defense of his beliefs and values---unlike the shifty bobbing and weaving of the Dem candidates---from ambulance-chasing Silk Pony frauds to flip-flopping Hillarious hilarities---none seems able to avoid pandering to the noisy minority of those who despise American values while employing American freedoms to advance their agendas.

I am still an independent leaning conservative---and want to follow an agenda much like The New America Foundation is laying out in broad strokes. But the old Dems I admired have ceded the commanding heights of their party to ne'er-do-wells like Edwards, has-beens like Dodd & Biden [& sadly Richardson who has disgraced himself by exceeding the cut-and-run crowd in his rampant cowardice].

And the two Front-Runners are wannabes who are too naive [Obama] or double-dealing both-sides-of-an-issue [HRC].

Wouldn't a third-party McCain/Lieberman ticket be worth looking at? Except for the two-ton rhino of illegal immigration in the family room, they cover all the other bases. [Note: I subsequently discover that Bill Kristol posted a Lieberman VP--without a specific candidate---in the Weekly Standard's weekend edition---synchronicity is marvelous.]

Who's Calling Whom "Plastic?" Redford Punches out Mormon Romney.

Anyone watching a movie that came out a while back called "Out of Africa" knows that Robert Redford was over the hill long ago.

I met him long ago while a youthful enthusiast for Eugene McCarthy back in '68. He is vertically challenged [as is Paul Newman and Tom Cruise] and now it appears mentally unable to express his opinions about candidates except in terms of style.

It would have been fine with me if Redford had bothered to critique Romney on issues, but this shallow lil Hollyweird legend goes for the jugular, calling Romney's impressive campaign skills a residue of Mormon proselytizing and Romney's own eloquence "plastic."

Hmmm..... Redford lives in Utah. I wonder if he's inadvertantly showing he's a religious bigot, but too afraid to say it out loud in Mormon Utah?

A short gutless bigot? You make the call....

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

US Soldiers "Cheat" to stay with their Units

Surveying the sorry sad sacks, to use a WWII slang for slackers and loo-zers, populating the blogosphere [I noticed how many Sad-Sack loo-zers won in the Blog contests], it's easy to forget that our nation still retains a strong sense of esprit de corps even while liars like Scott Beauchamp and other low-life loo-zers stain the internet with their lying distortions.

USA Today has a story on how our soldiers in Iraq memorize the answers to traumatic head injury tests in an effort to remain in the field with their units. [h/t: WSJ]

One of the many reasons I'm proud to be an American.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Confessions of a LedHed

David Browne has an overstuffed and uneven piece on Led Zeppelin in the New Republic. Most is fluff about other bands, but he does approach reality from a distance:
Of course, the reasons for Zeppelin's enduring appeal start with their music. Some of their songs (the acid-washed psychedelia of "Your Time Is Gonna Come" from Led Zeppelin, for instance) feel dated. But thanks to the manner in which Page drew upon blues and Stonehenge folk, most of their records sound ageless in the same way Nick Drake's exquisite ballads do. Led Zeppelin may have been the prototypical '70s rock warlords, but unlike their peers and contemporaries like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles (much less Deep Purple or Grand Funk), Zeppelin seem far less wedded to a specific era.

I would say "warlocks" rather than "warlords," as for a short time, Rolling Stone magazine reported they had bought up a few haunted castles around England. Also, "Those Dancing Days are here again" hearken to a W.B.Yeats poem almost line by line.
There's also the matter of the Led Zeppelin sound. In keeping with the band's unapproachable-gods status (and their notoriously arrogant manager, Peter Grant), "Whole Lotta Love" and "Kashmir," among others, felt in their day massive and all-conquering, cocky and confident. In the way the band generally favored sonic wallop over nuance, Zeppelin helped make overpowering rhythm a dominant part of pop music.

Browne goes on to compare the incomparable with run-of-the-mill bands of today. Then:
In terms of preserving its stature, Led Zeppelin also made all the right moves. They broke up at the right time, immediately after Bonham's death in 1980. The popular image of the band remains trapped in amber at the height of their stardom--they never got old or grew uncool. (Compare that strategy to that of the Stones, still making millions on the road but tarnishing their legacy by subjecting us to unnecessary rack-fillers like Steel Wheels and Voodoo Lounge.)

So true about Jagger & his motley moppets. But they'rrrrre baaack!
As part of a tribute concert to the late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, the band's three surviving members would be re-forming for a one-off performance in London on Dec. 10 (just postponed from Nov. 26, thanks to Jimmy Page's fractured finger). If that weren't enough of a stairway to, well, some type of heaven, another long-waited announcement followed on its heels: The entire Zeppelin back catalogue would finally be sold digitally, on iTunes and other services, ending the band's longtime wariness toward the new medium (and surely guaranteeing that Jimmy Page's grandchildren will never have to worry about day jobs).The concert announcement touched off such a mad Internet dash for tickets that the server handling the requests crashed.

I'll see if I can scratch together a few thousand pounds for the spectacular.

Will Charlie Wilson's War Hurt Jack Murtha [and Others?]

The Influence Peddler has a nice little piece on Jack Murtha's grasping fingers and hands concerning Charlie Wilson. Last night I saw the trailer, shone on Influence Peddler and laughed when Dan Rather's face with an Afghan cap and jersey reported on TV "from the Pakistan/Afghan border." During my brief media career, I worked with a CBS cameraman who had accompanied Dan during his adventures in "Afghanistan," where CBS showed him breathlessly reporting on a "firefight" while he huddled in a foxhole. The CBS fellow, named Hartigan if I recall, said that Dan's producer hired a Pak movie crew in Islamabad, moved outside of Rawalpindi a few miles away on a screen set, staged a "son et lumiere" rendition of a "firefight" which CBS filmed as Dan played war correspondent. I have no way of knowing if this story is true, but Dan's subsequent career allows one to give creedance to Hartigan's account. Here's a letter I posted to Influence Peddler on my own tiny contribution to Charlie Wilson's saga of single-minded [along with girls and booze] overthrow of the Soviets:
Ha! Aaron Sorkin also skated past Denis Neal's involvement with Charlie Wilson, which I as an employee of Neal & Company implemented. Back in '88 Denis & Charlie asked me to start up a PAC to raise a large sum of money. I did so after weeks of scrounging [and bumping into Bob Torricelli at several functions asking for cash only], we had around $25K, which Denis matched in a certified check which he asked me to take to DNC HQ by hand. I gave it to the DNC sherpa of John Kerry, who was DSCC chair that election cycle. That was July.

At his office Christmas Party in December, Denis asked me & Charlie into his office and shook my hand. He informed me that that $50K & "other considerations" had caused John Kerry & Chris Dodd to vote with the Republican minority on the Senate Foreign Relations Cte on aid to the Pak military. Denis said $450 million got by the House & Senate to Zia [who was killed that year] largely due to Kerry's behind-the-scenes manipulations.
Charlie winked, we all raised our glasses of single-malt, and lit cigars.

That wasn't in George Criles' book either, but that's the way Washington "works." And I'm sure that would have been too "real-life" for Aaron Sorkin!

And the Influence Peddler quotes John Fund on another issue Sorkin will skirt as the Dems get credit for opposing the Soviet Union at the same time Jimmy Carter was plucking the hem of the Kremlin's robes [according to KGB records recently opened] to get USSR support for Mondale in the '84 election. Here's Johnny!!! [Fund] on Jack:
But in 1981, the House Ethics Committee became concerned that Mr. Murtha had, at a minimum, violated House rules that required he report any attempt at bribery, which he had not. A special prosecutor, Barrett Prettyman, was appointed to oversee the committee's investigation. He soon expanded his probe beyond the six House members who were directly involved and began moving against Rep. Murtha. He was also rumored to be offering deals in exchange for testimony that would take the scandal inside the office of Speaker O'Neill.

That was the final straw from the irascible O'Neill. He determined to shut the investigation down, and the story of how he did it makes up a fascinating part of Mr. Crile's book, "Charlie Wilson's War" (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003)...

Crile reported that in early 1981 Speaker O'Neill called Rep. Wilson into his office and told him he wanted him to join the Ethics Committee right away. The Texas congressman had been pestering him for years to get a lifetime seat on the board the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. "It's the best perk in town," Mr. Wilson told Crile. "It means that I get the box right next to the president's box for the ballet when I want it. I get to go to all the cast parties, meet all the movie stars, and I get an extra invitation to the White House every season."

O'Neill made it clear he would appoint Mr. Wilson to the board he coveted, but that he would have to join the Ethics Committee to take care of the Murtha matter. "It's a package deal, Chally," O'Neill is said to have told Mr. Wilson.

"The word on Charlie was that he didn't talk," ex-Rep. Tony Coelho, who became majority whip after O'Neill's retirement, told Crile. "From time to time the speaker needed to mount irregular operations, and Wilson was one of those irregulars Tip could count on." Mr. Wilson didn't need any prodding for his task: "He was a happy warrior as he raced to the rescue of his imperiled friend John Murtha," Crile wrote.

Crile reported that prior to Mr. Wilson's arrival on the Ethics Committee, it had largely given Mr. Prettyman, the special counsel, a free hand in his probe. That quickly changed: "Before Prettyman could fully deploy his investigators to move on the Murtha case, he was informed that the committee had concluded there was no justification for an investigation." The Ethics Committee chairman, Rep. Louis Stokes of Ohio, suddenly declared "This matter is closed."

Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.

Crime does pay.

Edwards Candidate for Crown Prince of Smarm

Reason Magazine points out something I was unaware of, the fact that Mitt Romney's wife suffers from MS. Were she the wife of Smarm-in-Chief John Edwards [h/t: Mickey Kaus] there would have been dozens of Ann Curry reach-arounds and hug-fests concerning the sad fate of his spouse. But Romney has class. Matt Weigel on the one-trick Silk-Pony video on his site:
Apparently this John Edwards ad is a blockbuster: Hits the right marks, pounds Edwards' themes, starts the tears flowing like an Usher ballad.

I actually think it's one of the most sleazy, manipulative little political commercials of recent years. "If you're looking for heroes, don't look to me," says Edwards. "Don't look to Elizabeth." No problem! But why shouldn't I?

"We have support. We have health care. We have the American people behind us." There's the first invocation (so far) of the non-existant Edwards personality cult. At the start of his events, Edwards often says something like "a lot of you are asking how Elizabeth is doing. She's fine!" And I hear that as often as not this gets a muted, bemused reaction.

So, think of the working people: "They are the ones that we speak for." Hey, thanks again. "They are the ones that we stand up for." You're too kind. I'm sure America's Montage Farmers are going to sleep easier tonight because John Edwards exercised his larynx and lower body.

"And Elizabeth and I decided in the quiet of a hospital room." Subtle. "After 12 hours of tests and after getting very bad news." Even subtler. His wife has cancer. "We're not going to quietly go away. Instead we're going to go out there and fight for what it is we believe."

Oh the humanity! And John in armor is riding out for the first windmill to joist. Watch the video and see why Weigel compares Romney to Edwards in the following way:
There's no TV ad pimping her [Mrs. Romney's] illness. If Romney has no emotions, than Edwards has only the basest ones. There's not enough Lysol on the eastern seaboard to scrub his slime away.

But wait, there's more...
But I don't want to pick on Edwards. We're starting to see a cleavage between ego-driven and movement-driven presidential campaigns. The most ego-driven Democratic campaign is still Hillary Clinton's. As she showed this week her staff will turn any attack into an unacceptable personal assault. She didn't parselmouth her way out of an immigration question: The mean other candidates piled onto her. Barack Obama's rhetoric is mostly about the average voter; he wants "us" to take back politics, he's one of "us" against Washington. Hillary's campaign is about her being president. Your power depends on whether or not the president thinks you're "invisible," and if you give her your vote she will gratefully remember that you exist.

Clinton's, Obama's and Edwards' messages are illustrative of how they view the presidency. For Clinton it's a restoration of her political machine, the one that was doing such a great job before the-Supreme-Court-handed-George-Bush-the-presidency. For Edwards it's a bully pulpit that he'll use to bully people, taking away Congress's health care until they give it to you, etc. For Obama it's an amorphous inspirational job; it should be more open, more accessible. Less power should flow towards it, more power should flow towards you.

I disagree with Weigel's final salute to Ron Paul, but libertarians are a tough crowd.

Anne Applebaum Speaks Truth to Weeniehood as Sean Penn Visits Hugo

Anne Applebaum is a multilingual polymath who wrote Gulag, arguably one of the top five books of the twenty-first century just as Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago was arguably one of the most influential books of the twentieth century. The end-product of socialist dictatorships was vividly described in both books with encyclopedic accuracy and horror.

So why do Americans, especially those never disciplined as children, go to places where governments impose iron restrictions on whole populaces, forgetting the lessons that Anne and Alexander have imparted so well? Anne takes a look at unspanked Sean & Naomi, the cellphone-throwing runway looker, and draws lessons herself from their visits to revolutionary Venezuela and its revolting leader Hugo.

After a wonderful tongue-in-cheek understated must-read pair of descriptions of the two superdupers above in Caracas, she gets to the point:
In fact, for the malcontents of Hollywood, academia, and the catwalks, Chávez is an ideal ally. Just as the sympathetic foreigners whom Lenin called "useful idiots" once supported Russia abroad, their modern equivalents provide the Venezuelan president with legitimacy, attention, and good photographs. He, in turn, helps them overcome the frustration John Reed once felt—the frustration of living in an annoyingly unrevolutionary country where people have to change things by law. For all his brilliance, Reed could not bring socialism to America. For all his wealth, fame, media access, and Hollywood power, Sean Penn cannot oust George W. Bush. But by showing up in the company of Chávez, he can at least get a lot more attention for his opinions.

As for Venezuelan politics, or the Venezuelan people, they don't matter at all. The country is simply playing a role filled in the past by Russia, Cuba, and Nicaragua—a role to which it is, at the moment, uniquely suited. Clearly, Venezuela is easier to idealize than Iran and North Korea, the former's attitude to women being not conducive to fashion models, the latter being downright hostile to Hollywood. Venezuela is also warm, relatively close, and a country of beautiful waterfalls.

Most of all, Venezuela's leader not only dislikes the American president—so do most other heads of state—but refers to him as "the devil," a "dictator," a "madman," and a "killer." Who cares what Chávez actually does when Sean Penn isn't looking? Ninety years after the tragedy of the Russian revolution, Venezuela has become the "kingdom more bright than any heaven had to offer" for a whole new generation of fellow-travelers. As long as the oil lasts.

Anne Applebaum and Peggy Noonan are the two most brilliant, classy journalists of our generation, distaff department. And maybe of any department.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Saudis Least of Many Evils in Middle East Cauldron

King Abdullah's visit to London sparked all sorts of blograge and tut-tutting from British newspapers.

The uppermost complaint from most Americans lies in the fact that 15 of the 19 WTC attackers were "Saudi." These statements about 911 overlook the fact that Bin Laden purposely put his Yemeni kids with Saudi passports on the planes—I was political officer in the US Embassy in Saudi and all the names of the “Saudi” hijackers were Yemeni, believe me.

The key POLITICAL point overlooked in the Times article on the King's visit is that the Royal Family would control the terrorist-generating donations of its citizens if it could muster a quorum in the Royal Family to do so. The RF resembles a bit the huge “Polish Parliament” of the eighteen hundreds where legendarily one veto could stymie a huge majority and very little business could ever be accomplished. King Abdullah must make policy with the cooperation of senior royals such as the "Sudayri Seven" boys, now six, whose oldest brother was King Fahd and whose next oldest is Crown Prince Sultan.

King Abdullah is seen as a reformer, but no one can control the deeply religious and even reactionary Saudi populace, which is much more prone to religious excesses than the RF leadership.

Bin Laden is of Yemeni descent, as are a huge plurality of Saudi citizens. In 1930 the Saudis annexed about two-thirds of Yemen, roughly like the US did in Texas/Cal in 1848, and millions of angry Yemenis who are potential followers of Bin Laden are wealthy and prone to volunteer for Jihadist suicidal junkets into Iraq. The Saudis from the Hijaz [Jidda, Mecca, Medina, Yanbu] are lackadaisical and would not volunteer, but the crazies from the Nejd are fanatics. They and the Saudified Yemenis are the angry young jihadists who become insurgents.

Saudi has so many issues that are insoluble to western logic that any generalizations simply fall short. Suffice it to say that the Royal Family itself is split into many factions and the country, as I mentioned above, has widely differing ethnic and ethos divisions---from Egyptianized Hijazis to Persianized Shi'ites in Al Hasa in Eastern Province.

Indeed, Saudi Arabia can be seen to reflect every manifestation of the wide-wide-world of Islam.

Blackwater Prince Creates Intell Start-up with Cofer Black

The Washington Post reports breathlessly that "Blackwater's Owner Has Spies for Hire" in a colossal instance of hyping a lede. Turns out that Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, has spun off a company that, well, can be hyped as follows:
The Prince Group, the holding company that owns Blackwater Worldwide, has been building an operation that will sniff out intelligence about natural disasters, business-friendly governments, overseas regulations and global political developments for clients in industry and government.

The operation, Total Intelligence Solutions, has assembled a roster of former spooks -- high-ranking figures from agencies such as the CIA and defense intelligence -- that mirrors the slate of former military officials who run Blackwater. Its chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of counterterrorism at CIA known for his leading role in many of the agency's more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas. Its chief executive is Robert Richer, a former CIA associate deputy director of operations who was heavily involved in running the agency's role in the Iraq war.

Total Intelligence Solutions is one of a growing number of companies that offer intelligence services such as risk analysis to companies and governments. Because of its roster and its ties to owner Erik Prince, the multimillionaire former Navy SEAL, the company's thrust into this world highlights the blurring of lines between government, industry and activities formerly reserved for agents operating in the shadows.

Ooooo..... What a concept!

Trouble is, this sort of integrated analytical/operational multitask firm has been around for decades. I worked for a year for IRIS [Int'l Reporting Info Systems] in '82-83 which was started by Anthony Stout, National Journal owner, and some investors including Ted Heath, Robert McNamara, and other international heavyweights of the day. The idea was roughly the same as described above, and I worked directly for the Editor of the International Herald Tribune, who reported to the former Station Chief in Moscow, who in turn reported to the former Station Chief in Athens. Senior State, CIA, and other agency officials, some on Sabbatical from their home government jobs, populated the senior levels, and run-of-the-mill "regional experts." news reporters and ex-diplomats formed the heart of the working cadre.

IRIS was looking for the gazillion dollar client, and my Middle Eastern chops gave me access to the marketing side of the venture as well as churning out ad hoc intelligence analyses. The working level was crammed with Brit journalists fleeing the Thatcher regime's Reagan-lite reforms of the UK, and they were as a rule Bolshie as any Soviet nomenklatura wannabe. I met and became friends with Tony Hodges, Helena Cobban, and many other UK refugees, including Christopher Hitchens, who had fetched up at The Nation. We all drank like fish and partied til dawn.

Soon, Tony Stout's epicurean tastes and massive spending on frills like a French kitchen and walk-in humidor sank the IRIS operation, along with the inability to sign long-term clients as opposed to one-off contracts.

Similar operations followed, and more traditional firms like Kroll branched into sleuthing out origins of pelf and plunder looted from capital-flight countries. Pakistanis and ASEAN countries provided many contracts, as did oil countries like Nigeria and Indonesia. I myself workied with Denis Neal on Jordan, Pakistan, Sudan, and bits and pieces of other contracts. Indeed, I worked with Charlie Wilson at one remove through Denis, and had a behind-the-scenes role in founding a PAC which ended up raising money to pay Senator John Kerry for his Senatorial National Compaign Committee. I took the check for $40,000 personally to Kerry's assistant at the DNC in '88, I believe, just in time for the fall elections and a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on military aid to Pakistan. I found all the details during Neal's Christmas Party later when Denis and Charlie and I celebrated with others the success of our operations in the Neal & Co. Capitol Hill offices.

I can't wait to see how Hollywood distorts the events in "Charlie Wilson's War." One thing they won't point out in the movie is how Kerry & Dodd voted with the Republicans to send $450 million in military assistance to Pakistan, which Denis told me my $40,000 check had helped expedite ["along with other considerations," Denis added!] Nice leverage any way you look at it. But the movie will print the legend.

Probably just like the WaPo article cited above.