Monday, November 3, 2008

More closing arguments: Obamanomics

Three great pieces on the dangers posed by Obama's economics policies. Just highlights – read them in their entirety if you have time.

From Chicago Boyz: Why isn't Detroit a Paradise?

In 1950, America produced 51% of the GNP for the entire world. Of that production, roughly 70% took place in the eight states surrounding the Great Lakes: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

[…]

Yet, a mere 30 years later, by 1980, we called that area the “rustbelt” and it became synonymous with joblessness, collapsing cities, high crime, failing schools and general hopelessness.

What the hell happened?

Obama happened.

Of course, not Obama personally but rather the same ideas that Obama espouses. What those ideas did to the Great Lakes states, they can do to the entire country.

Via Chicago Boyz, at Free Republic: An American businessman's letter to Obama

It's long but powerful. The conclusion:

In short, Mr. Obama, your political philosophies represent everything that is wrong with our country. You represent the culture of government dependence instead of self reliance; Entitlement mentality instead of personal achievement; Penalization of the successful to reward the unmotivated; Political correctness instead of open mindedness and open debate. If you are successful, you may preside over the final transformation of America from being the greatest and most self-reliant culture on earth, to just another country of whiners and wimps, who sit around looking to the government to solve their problems. Like all of western Europe. All countries on the decline. All countries that, because of liberal socialistic mentalities, have a little less to offer mankind every year.

God help us...

David Harsanyi at the Denver Post: If it redistributes like a duck ...

Now, I'm not suggesting Obama intends to transform this nation into 1950s-era Soviet tyranny or that he will possess the power to do so. I'm suggesting Obama is praising and mainstreaming an economic philosophy that has failed to produce a scintilla of fairness or prosperity anywhere on Earth. Ever.

[…]

From 1982 until now, every arrow on nearly every economic growth chart, every health care chart, every chart that matters, points in one general direction — and that's up.

Obama — who, it seems, is running not only for president but also national babysitter/accountant/daddy/icon — ignores this success and claims he can "invest" (will that euphemism ever go away?) and disburse your money more efficiently, smartly and fairly than you can. How could any American accept the absurdity of this position?

Obama and the post-racial illusion

I have a new piece up at Pajamas Media in which I argue that, while it's understandable that some people will be persuaded to vote for Obama because of his skin colour, rather than his policies, an Obama presidency is unlikely to usher in the 'post-racial' era that Americans are being promised, and in fact could have a negative impact on America's black underclass. You can read the piece here.

The piece was inspired in part by a video, embedded below, by a black conservative called 'Zo', which has deservedly become a big hit on YouTube, and has been linked by many conservative blogs. They should have given this guy half an hour of prime-time at the Republican convention, and he deserves to become a star of the Republican Party in the years ahead.

Via the links on his YouTube page I've found some great blogs by black Republicans. Here are a few links, and you can find lots more blogs and resources via these: Zo's blog, Hip Hop Republican, Bob Parks, Rational Black Man and Black Man with a Gun. You might also want to consider donating to the National Black Republican Association. These guys have a lot of guts to go against the 'conventional wisdom' of their peers, the party that's considered their 'natural home', and the narrative spun by the mainstream media, and they deserve the support of all conservatives.

Over to Zo…

Saturday, November 1, 2008

VDH: The End of Journalism

Victor Davis Hanson on the US media's wholesale abandonment of journalistic integrity:

The media has succeeded in shielding Barack Obama from journalistic scrutiny. It thereby irrevocably destroyed its own reputation and forfeited the trust that generations of others had so carefully acquired. And it will never again be trusted to offer candid and nonpartisan coverage of presidential candidates.

Worse still, the suicide of both print and electronic journalism has ensured that, should Barack Obama be elected president, the public will only then learn what they should have known far earlier about their commander-in-chief — but in circumstances and from sources they may well regret.

Read the whole thing. I agree with most of what VDH says, but if Obama wins and the Democrats make gains I'm not sure if his prediction of long-term damage to the reputation of the MSM will hold true.

The Democrats will likely bring back the Fairness Doctrine, and pursue other measures to curtail the influence of talk radio, bloggers and other new media outlets, which (along with a few conservative outlets like Fox News and the WSJ) have dared to question Obama's motives, past associations and fitness to be president.

At the same time they'll do everything in their power to prop up the 'old media' that has in effect become an arm of the Democratic party, and which will spend the next four years portraying the Obama presidency as a spectacular success enjoying universal support, whatever the reality.

Closing arguments from Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn has a timely reminder about Obama's utter lack of substance and achievement at National Review:

In Tokyo last week, over a thousand people signed a new petition asking the Japanese government to permit marriages between human beings and cartoon characters. “I am no longer interested in three dimensions. I would even like to become a resident of the two-dimensional world,” explained Taichi Takashita. “Therefore, at the very least, would it be possible to legally authorize marriage with a two-dimensional character?”

Get back to me on that Tuesday night. We’ll know by then whether an entire constitutional republic has decided to contract marriage with a two-dimensional character and to attempt to take up residence in the two-dimensional world.

Read the whole thing.

An exceptional American

A powerful endorsement of McCain from Quin Hillyer at the American Spectator. Here's his conclusion, but do read the whole thing, especially if you're a wavering voter…

So there you have it: John McCain as a patriot firmly rooted in the American traditions of free enterprise, limited government, strong defense, personal accountability, and a decent respect for the cultural standards of the broad middle of the American public. Those are the constituent elements of American exceptionalism -- and to his great credit, John McCain is an American exceptionalist, and an exceptional American.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Ayers ad to end all Ayers ads

Not, unfortunately, produced by the McCain campaign but by Kathy Shaidle and The Nose on Your Face. The McCain campaign should take this, polish it a little and run with it from now until November 4.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Some talking points for McCain

Jonah Goldberg at NRO was asking for readers' thoughts on what McCain should do in the next two debates. I planned to fire off a quick email, and ended up with a pamphlet – I've been turning these ideas over for a while now, so I may as well put them out there.

I can't believe that no-one in the McCain campaign is thinking about this stuff – and sure enough it appears they're ready to 'take the gloves off' – but going on previous form I think they need all the help they can get.

1. At some point, and perhaps several times, Obama will try to link McCain to Bush. McCain should respond along these lines:

"You're desperate to connect me to President Bush aren't you senator? Well let's get something straight right now: I've had my disagreements with President Bush, and they've been well-documented. But the President is a decent and honorable man who loves his country, and what a lot of people seem to be forgetting is that he has kept this country safe from terrorist attack for seven years (emphasis), something that no-one believed was possible in the aftermath of 9/11. The President has been demonised by you and your fellow Democrats, and by your cheerleaders in the mainstream media, but I will not (emphasis) disown him for the sake of political expediency; that, Senator Obama, is your game, as you've shown by your attempts to disassociate yourself from the terrorist Bill Ayers, who plotted to murder American soliders, the racist preacher Jeremiah Wright, the convicted fraudster Tony Rezko and the other radicals and extremists who helped you get where you are today."

2. As lots of people are saying, with the bailout bill safely passed McCain should go on the attack over Fannie and Freddie, and the CRA (although I appreciate that there's a 'racial sensitivity' issue there). Specifically, McCain should point out that Obama voted against tougher regulation of F&F, then ask Obama:

"Why don't you tell the American people how much money you got from Freddie and Fannie?"

If he dissembles McCain should say: "If you don't tell them, I will." When Obama continues to dissemble, as he surely will, McCain should say (preferrably over the dissembling):

"You took almost $130,000 senator. And now you're returning the favour by pretending Fannie and Freddie had nothing to do with this crisis."

He should say that Democrats "took the money and looked the other way", although perhaps without saying Obama did so. Of course he should also bring up Johnson and Raines: "Far from calling for Jim Johnson to be punished senator, you rewarded him by putting him in charge of the committee to select your running mate!"

3. Related, he should bring up the Acorn connection, pointing out that Obama helped to train and fund the radical groups who pressured (intimidated? shook down?) the banks into giving loans to unqualified borrowers. He should say something like:

"Wall Street certainly takes much of the blame, but so should the Democrats who looked the other way, and so should you and your radical friends who were there right at the start of this thing."

He should also bring up Annenberg, make the Ayers connection again, and talk about the $100 million for improving schools that was diverted to Acorn and other radical groups.

See Stanley Kurtz's NYP story for more on the above if you haven't already.

4. McCain should point out all the instances of Obama saying one thing to get the nomination, and another thing once he got it. He should deride Obama's claims to have 'worked across the aisle'. And if push comes to shove, McCain should confront Obama on ideology. He should call him a socialist:

"You know senator, you've come a long way without ever telling the American people what you really stand for - nobody really knows, and I think the American people deserve to hear exactly what you believe. If you believe that socialist policies are best for America, you should have the courage of your convictions and say so, instead of hiding behind all this talk of hope and change and bipartisanship. You have the right to propose whatever policies you want senator, but what you don't have the right to do is insult the intelligence of the American people by pretending that those policies amount to anything other than bigger, costlier and more intrusive government. And that, senator, is called socialism."

5. Related, when Obama starts riffing on 'hope' (or even if he doesn't), McCain should say:

"You talk a lot about hope senator. Well I believe the American people deserve to be given more than 'hope' (derisively). They don't want 'hope'. They want assurances, they want specifics, they want certainty. They need to know that their leaders are going to help them, not hold them back, by cutting taxes and by giving them the freedom to raise their families and run their businesses in the way they see fit."

He could add that the Democrats have been "peddling hope" in America's biggest cities for decades, and what has the result been? Rising crime, failing schools and broken families (implicitly pitching to black voters here).

"I want to replace the Democrats' culture of dependancy with a culture of responsibility."


And:

"Likewise, America's friends around the world need more than 'hope'. The people of Iraq need to be assured that the next President of the United States won't abandon them just so he can pander to extremist elements within his party. The people of Georgia, Ukraine and other former Soviet republicans need to know that the United States will stand with them in the face of Russian aggression. And oppressed peoples around the world need assurance too. The people of Iran, Venezuela and Cuba need to know that the dictators who control their countries and harbour terrorists won't be given legitimacy, and a propaganda coup, in the shape of a visit from the US President."

6. McCain should bring up the attempts by the Obama campaign to shut down discussion of his past by bombarding radio stations with protest calls, and threatening radio and TV stations that run anti-Obama ads with legal action.

"Is this what you mean when you talk about a new kind of politics senator? Threats, intimidation and bullying tactics? If that's the case I think I'd rather stick with the old politics."

"What is it you're afraid of?"

Any more suggestions welcome. And if someone from the McCain camp happens to stumble across this, feel free to copy and paste into Mac's teleprompter software. Hell, you can even take credit for it.

Saudi cleric calls for veils with one eye slit

…because seeing both a woman's eyes makes the guys sooooo horny!

From the BBC:

A Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive.

The question of how much of her face a woman should cover is a controversial topic in many Muslim societies.

The niqab is more common in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, but women in much of the Muslim Middle East wear a headscarf which covers only their hair.

Sheikh Habadan, an ultra-conservative cleric who is said to have wide influence among religious Saudis, was answering questions on the Muslim satellite channel al-Majd.

I can see his point – I came over all hot and bothered just looking at the photo that accompanies the story, and had to take a cold shower.

But surely this would make it difficult for the women to drive, or watch a movie… hang, on though, they're not allowed to do those things anyway are they? So that's OK then!

And why stop at one eye-slit? Why not have no slits at all? There are already versions of the niqab that have a mesh grille instead of slits, but while this might stop the men from thinking impure thoughts, it does have the disadvantage of allowing the women to see out, which means they could easily be corrupted if they were to cast eyes on one of those hot, 400-pound Saudi man-babies.

Why don't they just seal up all the holes, and mount a radar on the top so the women don't bump into things – like bats! Or give them guide dogs. Or to be on the safe side, why not just keep them chained up in the cellar?

The BBC – the web's one-stop-shop for all your 'Aren't those Muslims whacky?' stories. Just remember not to get judgmental, because who are we to say they haven't got it right?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Why Republicans should pass the bailout bill

Bill Kristol makes a good case. His conclusion:

So House Republicans should help pass the bill. I think it's the only responsible thing to do in terms of the economy. But I also think it's the only way McCain has a chance to win. To those House Republicans who care about conservative principles, about limited government and free markets--I'd ask this: How much damage will a president Obama and a Democratic Congress do to the causes you care about? Electing McCain gives us the best shot at solving this crisis in a way that doesn't lead to a permanent and perhaps irreversible expansion of the size and scope of government. Following up on Sarah Palin's victory, principled House conservatives should vote yes tomorrow. Passing the bailout would give McCain a fighting chance to win, which in turn provides the best chance--the only chance--for conservative principles to prevail in the next few years.

A couple of shots that Palin missed

Palin did great tonight, but she was so focused on getting her own talking points across that she missed a couple of great chances to nail Biden.

1. When Biden talked about there being '7,000 madrassas' on the Afghan/Pakistan border, and said we should be building schools instead, Palin could have replied, "Actually Joe, madrassas are schools, and what with Afghanistan and Pakistan being Muslim countries, if we build non-religious schools there we'd have a pretty hard time finding kids to go to them." (Expect Palin would have said "go to 'em", in that endearing Frances-McDormand-in-Fargo voice).

2. When Biden repeatedly lied about Obama's pledge to meet unconditionally with the bad guys, Palin should have said "Hey, Joe, I can show you the video on YouTube. And then I'll show you the video in which you say 'No clean coal here - send it to China'."

But overall a great performance, comfortably exceeding most people's expectations. Too bad she only has a few weeks in which to keep improving. Imagine what she could be like if she had a few months…

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How McCain should respond to Obama's "he can't use a computer" jibe

How should John McCain respond to Obama's misleading and grossly offensive ad that claims McCain doesn't know how to send email or use a computer? We now know that in fact McCain can use a computer, but doesn't find it easy because of the injuries he suffered while a PoW in Vietnam.

Of course, if the McCain campaign points this out they'll be accused of 'playing the PoW card', and apparently McCain doesn't want to make a big deal about his disability. But I don't think they should let such a nasty and unsubstantiated jibe go without responding.

Allahpundit asks: Why doesn’t McCain want people writing about this? Is the perception of a president slightly limited by injuries he suffered heroically at war more damaging than the perception of a president who’s not incapacitated at all but chooses not to go online because he’s old and wholly removed from the culture? I don’t get it.

I don't get it either. And I'd add that creating the perception of Obama as either insensitive, too dumb to check his facts or both could do him some real damage.

I think the McCain campaign could respond to this by making it another style versus substance issue, and by hammering the judgement theme again. They can mention why McCain finds it hard to use a computer in passing – the public can work out for themselves what an egregious slight the Obama ad was.

Here's a suggestion for a McCain ad, which would be accompanied by headlines referencing the Obama ad and other appropriate images. I'd also love to see Palin say something along these lines in speeches – it makes sense not to have McCain talk about it, but let Palin come to his defence:

“Barack Obama thinks John McCain isn’t fit to be president because he can’t use a computer or send email. Apparently he thinks that’s pretty funny.

Actually, Senator McCain CAN use computers. He just can’t use them as easily as most people, because of injuries suffered years ago in the service of his country.

But he’s never let that hold him back. Because John McCain believes that it's not how you get your information that's important, it’s what you do with that information; it’s not how you communicate, it’s what you say.

Barack Obama may have his own Facebook page, but that doesn’t qualify him to be president.

Only John McCain has the experience, the knowledge and the judgement to lead.”

I'm Monkey Tennis Center, and I approve this message.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The BBC and GlobeScan: The Ben and Jerry's of international public opinion

A new BBC poll shows – big surprise – that pretty much the whole world wants to see Barack Obama elected President of the United States.

Allahpundit speculates that such findings might help McCain more than Obama, given how big a hit The One's performance in Germany proved to be with the folks back home, and points out that, either way, being rated unfavourably in a BBC poll should be seen as something of a badge of honour.

I wrote about the highly dubious polling produced by the BBC/GlobeScan partnership with regards to global warming climate change last year. GlobeScan and its fellow-travellers at the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes and World Public Opinion are focused almost exclusively on promoting leftist talking points, which of course chimes nicely with the BBC's own worldview.

In case you're in any doubt as to where their sympathies lie, here are a few other BBC/GlobeScan polls we've known and loved:

Iran is probably developing nuclear weapons, but we can talk them out of it, and anyway this isn’t about Iran, it’s a global problem

Pakistanis: Without Musharraf, Pakistan would look a lot like Rhode Island

Loss of innocent life generally preferable to torture

Too much free trade globalisation a bad thing

You can almost smell the funding from some Soros-linked operation. As for methodology, I'm guessing they sample roughly 50/50 from college campuses and slums.

Here's a message from GlobeScan president Doug Miller.

'At the same time, we consider ourselves part of the democratic process, "letting the people speak" to decision-makers on matters that affect them - at meetings of world leaders, expert forums, and the boardrooms of major companies.'

It's Saul Alinksy and community organising on a global scale. And we all know who the world's biggest and bestest community organiser is, don't we?

Update: A guy from GlobeScan has left a comment, and I've replied.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Michael Moore is a lot of things, but he isn't stupid

Daniel Hannan has a good post up about a poster promoting Michael Moore's latest book, which contains blurb to the effect that if rich people were drafted into the military "they won't be so eager to start ridiculous wars". Hannan points out that Moore's trope is rather undermined by the fact that John McCain has a son serving in Iraq (McCain of course also served his country), while soldier sons of both Sarah Palin and Joe Biden are heading over there soon.

Hannan headlines his post 'Michael Moore: the stupidest white man', but he misses the point. Moore is crafty, cynical, manipulative, a prolific liar and a vile human being, but he isn't stupid. Along with other propagandists on the left he's making a fortune selling his particular brand of the 'two Americas' shtick to losers, who will pay good money to be reassured in print and film that their lowly station in life is no fault of their own, but rather is the result of a vast conspiracy waged against them by rich and powerful elites.

In his movies Moore is simply offering a cruder version of the fare that's been pumped out by 'serious' filmmakers these past few years, to critical acclaim that's proven inversely proportional to box office receipts. And slapstick outsells satire every time, although the awards and approval that have come Moore's way – notwithstanding the fact that his 'documentaries' don't even come close to fulfilling the criteria for that genre – are a nice bonus.

There's a conspiracy all right – and it's being waged against the ignorant and the self-loathing, by Moore and the rest of the powerful, elitist Left. But Moore is one of the few people getting rich out of it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Terrorists in Need

Lost amid the Obamamania at Pajamas Media, I have a new piece up on the revelation that £20,000 of BBC charity money ended up in the hands of the terrorists who bombed London in July 2005. Accidents can happen, but the episode is an inevitable consequence of the BBC's softly-softly attitude to most things Muslim. You can read it here.

Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration…

"Remember, if anything should happen to me, you must go to Gore and say 'Obaamu barada nikto'."

Click on the image to see the full-size version.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Summer camp Gaza style

I have a piece up at Pajamas Media on the summer camps for youngsters in Gaza being run by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, at which children are religiously indoctrinated, taught to hate the US and Israel and glorify violence, and otherwise abused.

It’s that time of year again: school’s out, the kids are under your feet, and, much as you love the little brats, you find your patience being tested. Eventually, after clearing yet another dirty plate, or tripping over a discarded sneaker, you give them a well-deserved piece of your mind: “Why don’t you get out of the house and do something useful, like memorize the Koran or learn how to fire a shoulder-launched rocket?”

You can read the whole thing here.

Empty T-shirts for an empty suit

The vapidity of Obama's 'youth appeal' is splashed across two pages in the Review section of today's UK Observer newspaper. The piece is online here.

The main article, by Amy Larocca of New York magazine, rehashes all the well-worn points about Obama's popularity among young people – the endorsements by pop and movie stars, the 'cool' factor, his mastery of the internet and so on (although Larocca neglects to mention that the McCain campaign has recently enjoyed great success with its web video ads).

Nothing new there, even for British readers. Lines such as 'Obama understood from the start how to use the net' aren't exactly piercing political insight.

Accompanying the article are photos of seven suitably hip young Americans, wearing Obama T-shirts and photographed against authentically 'grungy' urban backdrops. And beside the photos are 'vox pops' in which they explain why Obama appeals to them.

The interviews are littered with the usual references to hope'n'change, and the vaguely articulated belief that Obama is, and will be, 'different' in some way. (Interestingly, the only one of the seven who's slightly skeptical about Obama says that, while he's supportive of his candidacy he's actually voting for Ralph Nader.)

Facts, and an acknowledgment of reality, are conspicuously absent from the testimonials. Jordana, 24, says: "For America to be this beacon of democracy it always says it is, it needs to acknowledge its flaws, look to other countries as models and build up from there."

Viola, 23, thinks Obama "has a new way of dealing with other countries without looking only at American self-interest". Sei, 18, says: "I saw Obama on television saying that you don't necessarily need experience if you have belief, and that sometimes experience can cloud your vision. I thought that was interesting and cool."

But my favourite Obamaniac is Tony, a 30-year-old… wait for it… community organiser! Tony is a Che Guevara wannabe who, in his peak cap and combat jacket, could also pass for an Obama action figure, and here's what he has to say about the man who's clearly his role model:

"I wear the T-shirt because I admire Obama's forthright and genuine rhetoric; he is just cut from a different cloth from most politicians. After everything that went down in Florida in 2001 I was very cynical about the whole political process. He has revived hope in me as well as others."

Got that? Tony, who professes to be 'cynical' about politics, admires Obama's forthright and genuine rhetoric. It's clearly lost on Tony that rhetoric is, by its very nature, anything but forthright and genuine. Tony is also frightened by the 'threat' from people who might be resistant to the 'change' Obama would bring about.

Tony wears his ignorance like a badge of honour.

Read the whole thing, and shudder at the naivety, and outright stupidity, of some of the people who will be voting for Obama in November.

Update: Thanks to Ace and JWF for linking. Also Dan, who highlights a few more examples of youthful ignorance.

Terry in the comments points out another howler from Tony that I missed – he thinks the Great Stolen Election was in 2001. Or perhaps he turned up, stoned, at the polling station in November 2001 and was told there was no election – it might explain why he's so cynical.

If they ever introduce a basic intelligence test as a prerequisite for being allowed to vote, the Dems will be truly screwed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Short on global warming alarmism? Make some up!

The BBC has long been famous for passing off global warming fiction as news. And with dearth of fresh alarmist news to report, they've apparently decided that putting global warming propaganda into their fictional output is a more effective means of propagandising – they've resorted to making stuff up about people making stuff up. I have a piece up at Pajamas Media on Burn Up, the atrocious global warming drama that the Beeb screened last week. You can read it here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Red Cross spokeswoman equates Nato with the Taliban over civilian casualties

The BBC has been making hay with the news that a US airstrike in Afghanistan last week apparently killed around 50 civilians, sending its reporters hiking through the mountains to collect first-hand accounts of the tragedy, and generally giving the incident the sort of coverage that it wouldn't give to a story about 50 civilians being killed by the Taliban.

It's no more than we've come to expect from the BBC, and the Western news media in general. But grudging credit where it's due: when Peter Allen of the Beeb's Radio Five Live interviewed Carla Haddad, a spokeswoman from the International Committee of the Red Cross, about the incident he at least attempted to make a distinction between civilians being accidentally killed by Nato forces, and the Taliban's deliberate targeting of civilians.

Haddad was having none of it. Despite being invited to do so by Allen, she refuses to accept that there's any difference between Nato's actions and those of the Taliban, instead falling back on platitudes about appealing to 'all parties' in the conflict, and generally doing a passable imitation of a greased weasel playing Twister.

Here's the interview (I hope – this is my first attempt at recording and embedding audio. Web 2.0? Here at Monkey Tennis Centre we're still at Web 0.05). Allen first talks to a guy from international development think-tank The Senlis Council, who, while not being overly critical of Nato, says it should put more boots on the ground and rely less on airstrikes. He starts talking to Haddad at about 1:45.



In case the clip malfunctions, or disappears, here are the key exchanges:

Peter Allen: When you say you’ve appealed to all parties does that mean you actually talk to the Taliban and say ‘The suicide bombing must stop.’

Carla Haddad: The ICRC is in regular contact with all parties to the conflict, be it Nato/ISAF forces, US-led coalition forces, the Afghan Government or the armed opposition, which includes the Taliban. So the ICRC has contacts with everyone on a regular basis, and tries to remind them regularly of their obligations under international humanitarian law, or what is also called laws of war, which explains that they should distinguish between military objects and civilians.

PA: It’s probably worth pointing out, that of course, that when you get a suicide bomber, quite deliberately they walk into a crowded place and take out a lot of civilians, and do it deliberately, and that, at the least, the allied forces do intend to hit only combatants; they don’t aim for civilians but sometimes they strike them. So there is a difference…

CH: We’re not speculating on… what we’re deploring is the casualties; and many casualties are civilians. Each force has to take into account international humanitarian law and to respect it. We will not speculate we do not know the details of what happened in every single incident. All we can say is that casualties are civilian they are either injured or killed and all parties to the conflict should spare them and should make sure they’re distinguishing between military objects and civilian objects.

As an afterthought, she adds that the ICRC 'deplores' the Taliban's suicide attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul last week. Perhaps she was worried about leaving listeners with the impression that the Red Cross supported it.

There's such a thing as not taking sides in a conflict, but this is ridiculous. The moral equivalence on display is nauseating. Haddad, and her colleagues at the Red Cross, clearly see Nato as no better than the Taliban, and the Taliban as no worse than Nato.

This is the sort of no-fault leftist claptrap that blights the work of not just the ICRC, but the UN and other transnational NGOs. There are no good guys or bad guys, just victims and oppressors, and Nato and the Taliban are equally guilty of oppressing the Afghan people.

Of course it may be that Haddad is personally sympathetic to the Taliban's aims, and just wishes it was a little more discerning in its target selection – you've got to love her characterisation of mass-murdering religious fanatics as 'the armed opposition'.

The line about 'not knowing the details' of various incidents is a transparent cop-out. And does she honestly believe that Nato and US forces need 'reminding' of their obligations under international law?

Like Allen, I'd dearly love to know what form the ICRC's 'regular contact' with the Taliban takes. Does someone from the Red Cross really call up the Taliban to complain about civilian casualties? If so what does the Taliban tell them? "Sorry, that was another software glitch"? or "Our boy mistook that busload of schoolchildren for a Humvee"?

Either Haddad is lying, which is perfectly plausible, or the Taliban is playing the Red Cross for the well-intentioned dupes that they are. Either way, by refusing to concede that the Taliban are the real enemies of the Afghan people, the ICRC is undermining the effort to defeat them, and ensuring that it'll be needed in Afghanistan for a very long time to come.

Then again, maybe they just want to ensure that they're never out of work.

Thanks to Rusty for the link.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

BBC plays 'Guess the Victims' over Jerusalem attack

I also have a piece up at Pajamas Media, on the - probably unintentional - symbolism of a Palestinian using a Caterpillar machine to murder Israelis. You can read it here.

The US media has long enjoyed playing the game of ‘Guess the Party’, wherein the affiliation of Republican politicians accused or convicted of wrongdoing is prominently featured in news reports, while that of misbehaving Democrats is buried in the depths of the story, if it’s mentioned at all.

The BBC appears to have developed a couple of variants on the game – Guess the Nationality of the Victim/Aggressor and Guess the Sex of the Victim – to be played when reporting on deaths in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This morning the Beeb headlined its report on yesterday’s murders of three Israelis by Palestinian Hussam Dwayat ‘Jerusalem attacker acted alone’. The report began:

A Palestinian who went on a bulldozing rampage in west Jerusalem on Wednesday apparently acted alone, Israeli police say, despite claims by militant groups.

Hussam Dwayat was at work on a building site when he drove his front-loader vehicle into the street and started mowing down cars and ramming buses.

He killed three people and wounded dozens more before security personnel climbed on the vehicle and killed him.

The fact that people died doesn’t make it into the headline or the first two paragraphs. And you have to get all the way to paragraph 12 – after the BBC presents a couple of theories for Dwayat’s actions, which, while not exactly excusing the attacks, suggest that the behaviour of Israelis may have driven him to his wits’ end – to find out that two of the dead were women, and beyond that to realise how close Dwayat came to murdering two babies as well.

The BBC also doesn’t mention that the male victim was 68, and soon to be a grandfather. In fact its reporters fail to get so much of what’s relevant into the crucial opening lines of the story that if this was a test-piece in an exam for entry to journalism school they would probably have flunked it – and this despite the fact that BBC reporter Tim Franks watched the whole thing unfold.

Update: The BBC updated the story while I was writing this post, and the details of the victims have been pushed even farther down the report.

Contrast the story with the BBC’s reporting of incidents in which Palestinians are killed by Israeli troops or airstrikes. A quick search of the BBC’s site reveals a steady stream of headlines such as 'Four children die in Gaza strike', 'Palestinian children die in blast', 'Family killed during raid in Gaza' and 'Outrage over killing of Gaza boys'.

If children aren’t mentioned in the headline, they’re invariably mentioned in the first line of the report, and the facts that they were Palestinians, or lived in Gaza, and were killed by Israelis, are also prominent.

Again, contrast that with a February BBC story headlined ‘Gaza rockets injure two Israelis’, in which you have to get to paragraph five to learn that one of the victims was aged eight.

In the case of yesterday’s story the BBC appears more concerned with reassuring readers that Dwayat was some kind of unhinged loner, and not a terrorist. In the process of doing so they’ve essentially relegated the killings to the status of an industrial accident.

Readers’ perceptions are often framed by a quick glance at the headline, or the first paragraph of a story. Casual readers of the BBC’s website must get the impression that the Israelis deliberately target children and other Palestinian civilians on an almost daily basis, while Israelis are occasionally the victim of some mishap or criminal act.

Clearly the BBC doesn’t want its readers to know that Palestinians kill women and children. After all this would undermine the image, so carefully cultivated by the BBC and other media outlets, of Palestinian terrorists as ‘militants’ engaged in a war against an occupying army – or ‘urban guerrillas’, in the words of BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston, the first kidnap victim to develop Stockholm syndrome before being seized.

The tactic is subtle, but very effective, and it stinks to high heaven. But as we’ve seen, if enough people complain, they’ve been known to withdraw lies and misleading reports. You can complain here.

HonestReporting.com has a rather more scientific analysis of bias in BBC headlines and reports.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Desmond Tutu, Neocon

It took a few years, but Archbishop Desmond Tutu is finally coming around to the idea of using military force to topple dictators and liberate their subjects.

In an interview with the BBC, Archbishop Tutu urged the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe, and said he would support the deployment of a UN force to restore order in the country.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, the former anti-apartheid leader said: "I think that a very good argument can be made for having an international force to restore peace."

This is a welcome development. And if the Archbishop’s going to be consistent, then we can shortly expect him to revisit his opposition to the Iraq war, and perhaps even confer retrospective approval on the Bush administration.

Tutu was an outspoken opponent of the invasion. Like many others he was critical of the flawed intelligence that was used to justify the war. However, he also contemptuously dismissed the secondary justification for the invasion – regime change.

This is what he said in a speech in London in February 2004.
‘But if now the reason being trumpeted for the war is regime change, why there and not for example, Burma? Or North Korea? And who makes the decision about which regimes should be changed? And what authority do they have to do whatever they think, may think is right? Or is it a matter of might is right, and to hell with the rule of international law?’
Leaving aside the silly and disingenuous argument that ‘if we can’t intervene everywhere we shouldn’t intervene anywhere’, and that the coalition had a sound legal basis on which to take action against Iraq, Apparently Tutu has apparently now conferred on himself the authority to decide which regimes should be changed.

Doubtless the Archbishop would protest that Zimbabwe is a different situation from Iraq. He might claim that his international force won’t be going in to effect regime change, but simply to restore order and safeguard the distribution of aid. Any intervention would, of course, spell the end of Mugabe’s rule.

Some might howl at this blatant double standard, accusing the Archbishop of deciding that intervention is okay, just as long as it's not America doing the intervening. And they might point out that if past experience with African 'peace-keeping' forces is anything to go by, the women and children of Zimbabwe are likely to be in as much danger from their liberators as they are from Mugabe's gangs.

But I prefer to celebrate the news that Archbishop Tutu has finally accepted the reality that sometimes, regrettably, it’s necessary to take military action against bad people in order to save innocent lives and establish democracy, up to and including killing anyone who gets in the way (His Grace hasn’t as yet gone into specifics as to the rules of engagement under which his ‘international force’ will operate, but I’m assuming that if they come under fire from Mugabe’s thugs, he’ll allow them to defend themselves).

This is quite an about-turn for the veteran human rights campaigner. In addition to opposing the Iraq war, Archbishop Tutu has been a vocal critic of Guantanamo and the military tribunals system. He’s also attacked Israel, going so far as to compare Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank with apartheid. However, he’s been such a powerful force for good in Africa, standing up to dictators of every political stripe, whether black or white, with equal forcefulness, that we can perhaps forgive him the occasional anti-American or anti-Israel outburst.

His Grace, like many soft-left types, appears to be motivated by a frustration with injustice, both real and imagined, and by the notion that if we just show kindness to evil people, then they’ll stop being evil. Despite the fact that they share a fondness for the Israel/apartheid analogy, I would certainly set him apart from bitter, hate-filled leftists like Jimmy Carter (who, lest we forget, played a key role in bringing Mugabe to power).

And anyway, it appears that His Grace’s anti-intervention days are now behind him. Many prominent neocons started out as lefties, and Archbishop Tutu appears to be the latest to see the light. Now I'm looking forward to his 'Why we can't let Iran get the bomb' speech.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Afghan biofuels: a magic bullet for energy security?

Two of my pet subjects are the war on terror and global warming, and they overlap in the area of energy independence. While I'm a global warming skeptic, I do think that for security reasons the West needs to wean itself off Middle Eastern oil by developing alternative energy sources.

Reading about the struggle to discourage Afghan farmers from growing poppies for the heroin trade, I've wondered for a while whether it would be feasible to get them to grow biofuel crops instead, which would have the multiple benefits of reducing the supply of heroin, cutting off funding for terrorists, helping the Afghan economy and producing energy without diverting farmland from food production.

It turns out that people a lot smarter than me have been thinking the same thing, and I have a piece on the subject up at Pajamas Media, which you can read here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Obama is now the only obstacle to victory

Matthew Continetti has a piece up at The Weekly Standard on the clear signs of progress being made in the War on Terror, and he rightly gives much of the credit to the policies of President Bush. And it's not just the jihadists that are being defeated – it's also those who opposed the President for political expediency. Continetti writes:

The left's analysis of jihadism has been proved incorrect at every turn. It argued military power would be ineffective against the terrorists. Wrong. It argued that intervention in Iraq would energize bin Laden's movement. That movement is in shambles. The left argued Iraq was a lost cause. It isn't. The left argues that a "war on terrorism" is futile, that defeat is inevitable, because terrorism is a "tactic," not an enemy. Nonsense. President Bush has demonstrated through perseverance and (more often than not) sound policy that the war on terror can be won. And right now we're winning it.

A Barack Obama presidency, however, could still enable the jihadists to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and would also encourage Iran to step up its efforts to cause mayhem in Iraq. Lebanon and elsewhere. With the help of his supporters in the media, Obama is already attempting to airbrush his record of defeatism and misjudgment over both Iraq and Iran (see this piece, by Danielle Pletka, also at The Weekly Standard, for an account of Obama's evolving Iran position).

He may not be allowed to get away with it. As Jennifer Rubin, discussing Obama's U-turn on Iran at Commentary magazine's Contentions blog writes:

In short, the road back to the middle of the road will be treacherous for Obama. As he tries to moderate his views, on Iran most clearly, he will, it seems, face frequent reminders from the McCain camp that the new positions seem adopted especially for the general election. In a world of YouTube and Google, not to mention campaign websites, the job of the McCain camp is made much easier.

The left, unfortunately, will likely prove more resolute than the jihadists. While Islamic extremists can be killed, their bases destroyed and their ideology discredited in the Muslim world, the left will simply fine-tune its tactics in its relentless war on America and the West. And seizing the White House would be the first step on the road to victory.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hugh Hewitt on Obama's rhetorical style

Hugh Hewitt recently did a wonderful takedown of Obama's rhetorical style which you really ought to listen to. It's funny, but also extremely incisive. Bottom line: most of the time Obama has no idea what he's talking about.

Go here. The clip you want is number 29, hour 2 of the May 20 show (clip number 28, which is hour 3, is titled 'Obama audio' but it's clip 29, 'Dean Barnett', that you want).

The essence of Hugh's analysis starts at around 7 minutes and lasts about 3 minutes, but you should listen from the start to get the context, and listen to the rest of the hour, and hour 3, if you have the time.

Someone with more time and expertise than me needs to put this on YouTube, with a slideshow of shots from Obama rallies.

Muslim gangs threaten UK prisons; government responds with 'diversity events'

I have a piece up at Pajamas Media on the British government's typically insipid, politically-correct response to the news that Muslim gangs are threatening to take over a high security prison:

Faced with the threat of violence from gangs — Muslim or otherwise — prison officers at Whitemoor would probably prefer Tasers and pepper spray to development days, focus groups, and diversity events, but the official response is entirely in keeping with the muddled thinking that pervades Gordon Brown’s government when it comes to dealing with Islamic extremism. Ministers appear torn between trying to reassure the public that they’re being tough on terror on the one hand, and avoiding causing offense to “moderate” Muslims on the other — notwithstanding the fact that genuinely moderate Muslims shouldn’t be offended by reasonable measures taken to protect British citizens from terror attacks.

You can read the article here.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Remote Amazonian tribes for Obama

Talk about getting your message across…

These guys have had no contact with civilisation, they've never heard of electricity or television, and they certainly can't speak English.

Yet somehow, they just know






Things were going great until the plane made a low pass, and the locals spotted the 'Hillary '08' sticker on the cockpit…


Update: Thanks to Ace for linking. Also Jim, who has a fine take of his own on the story. Those poor hicks, clinging bitterly to bows and arrows and human sacrifice…

Also Rob at Say Anything (don't worry Rob, only liberals could possibly find a race angle in this, and we're long past caring what they think).

Jules Crittenden looks at the eco-angle…

I don’t know how big a carbon footprint these guys have, but the message here is pretty clear. If you want to save the planet and you aren’t living in a grass hut in Amazonia shooting arrows at passing airplanes, then you’re a chickengreenie.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Defending Beckham

Yesterday Allahpundit posted a video that's apparently a huge hit on YouTube, of David Beckham scoring from around 60 yards for LA Galaxy against Kansas City Wizards. Beckham hit the ball into an empty net, on the bounce, after the Wizards' goalkeeper had pushed upfield for what I assume was a late corner kick.

For the benefit of American readers wondering what the hell the Wizards' keeper was doing at the other end of the pitch, keepers will often do this if their team is trailing by an odd goal late in a game, reasoning that leaving their net undefended is a gamble worth taking in an attempt to grab an equaliser – after all, if you're losing anyway it hardly matters whether it's by one goal or two.

Allah sniffed that he couldn't see what all the fuss over Beckham's strike was about, pointing out that any professional soccer player should be able to hit a 24-foot-wide target from 60 yards, and he was absolutely right.

In Beckham's defence, however, I sent Allah the video of Beckham scoring from the half-way line for Manchester United against Wimbledon in 1996, having spotted Neil Sullivan off his line. Allah was gracious enough to post the video, and concede that the goal was rather more impressive.

A heated debate has inevitably been raging at Hot Air on the merits of soccer vis-à-vis American football, which I don't intend to restart here. Two very different games requiring different sets of skills.

One observation though. Of the excitement over Beckham's latest effort, Allah asked 'Is this just a by-product of the collective European mancrush on Beckham?' I would suggest no – it's more likely the by-product of Americans new to soccer who don't understand how easy it was for Beckham to hit the target; of generally stupid people who have a low novelty threshold, and of hysterical Beckham worshipers, who tend for some reason to reside in Asia.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mullahs' mouthpiece mangles elephant idioms

I know Iran is in fairly dire economic straits, but if the mullahs want to wage an effective propaganda war against the West, the least they could do is fork out a few rials to supply their various mouthpieces with some dictionaries of English idioms. Because when you're trying to chastise your enemies in their native tongue, nothing blunts the impact of spittle-laden invective like getting your figures of speech mixed up.

In an editorial in today's English-language edition of the state-controlled Kayhan newspaper, under the headline 'The White Elephant', Kian Mokhtari writes:

Is there something wrong with the world's sense of what is happening in Iraq? Do we have to continue to ignore the white elephant of the illegal US occupation of Iraq and the resulting civilian deaths of around one million people, in the same way that we have stood by and watched Palestine ripped to pieces by the occupying Zionist regime?

The US is increasingly concentrating its firepower against the Iraqi forces opposed to the US-led occupation of their country while sending the Iraqi army out to fight Al-Qaeda operatives. The US is busy killing Iraqi patriots sick to death of US murder, rape and torture of Iraqi civilians, while Maliki's government has been lumbered with the task of funding the United State's so-called fight against terror.

'Illegal US occupation'… 'one million civilian deaths'… 'Palestine ripped to pieces'… 'murder, rape and torture'… the New York Times should sign this guy up under some international leader writer exchange programme. Ultimately, however, the polemic is diminished because the author made the schoolboy error of confusing his elephant expressions.

The phrase Mokhtari was grasping for was, of course, 'elephant in the room', 'elephant in the living room' or some variant on that saying, meaning something that's impossible to ignore (my personal favourite is the British 'elephant in the drawing room'). 'White elephant' describes something whose cost exceeds its usefulness to the point that it becomes a liability.

We shouldn't be too hard on Mr Mokhtari. His English is clearly very good, and it's not uncommon for English speakers to confuse the two expressions – there are warnings to that effect on the respective Wikipedia entries. And there are those who would argue that Iraq has become a white elephant for the US, although that's clearly not the context in which Mokhtari was using the phrase (similarly, many supporters of US efforts in Iraq would say that Iran is the elephant in the room in the context of the continuing instability in the country).

But the whole point of a hostile regime addressing its opponents in their own language is that it's supposed to have an unsettling and corrosive effect. It says 'we know you', ' we understand you', and 'we're not embarrassed to share our ideology with you'. And to political leaders it says 'we're so confident that your people will believe our propaganda and turn against you that we're appealing to them directly'.

And if, after the first line of what's supposed to be some paradigm-shifting rhetorical flourish, all the reader is thinking is: 'He meant elephant in the living room, not white elephant – idiot!', then it's hard for them to take what follows seriously – particularly when it's so over the top that it verges on the comical anyway.

At the moment the war between the US and Iran is one of words, rather than weapons. And if you can't get a simple phrase right, there's a danger that when you say perfectly sensible things like

Islamic Republic of Iran recently apprehended a group of terrorists responsible for the Shiraz mosque bombing atrocity. They had been trained by the UK, US and Zionist agents. Among items discovered in their hideouts were: poison gas and chemical agents to cause maximum human casualties at other venues on their to-do list.

people might not believe you.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lean times for climate change alarmists

I have a piece up at Pajamas Media on how, slowly but surely, the tide is turning against the climate change alarmists and in favour of those who are either skeptical about the existence of man-made global warming, or who believe in taking a more responsible approach to any problems that might arise from climate change, whether natural or man-made.

Long story short: the alarmists have yet to produce a single shred of evidence to support their claims that man-made CO2 emissions are causing irreversible and catastrophic changes in the Earth's climate. There's no proof that the warming seen in the last century was outside the natural range of variation in the Earth's temperature, and no proof that it has been caused by man. All the alarmists can offer is wild speculation, based on guesswork which is itself based on the output of discredited and essentially worthless computer models.

There is, however, ample proof that 'global warming' is not happening in the way the alarmists have for years been predicting that it would: we have the graphs showing that CO2 emissions are continuing to rise steadily, and we have the temperature data showing that there's been no increase in global temperatures for ten years now – and that, indeed, in recent years the Earth has cooled slightly.

Contrary to what Al Gore says, the science isn't settled, and the debate isn't over.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Freed Gitmo detainee, struggling to adapt to life on the outside, blows himself up in Iraq

Politicians, anti-war groups and the mainstream media complain ceaselessly that America should close Guantanamo Bay, and either return the terror suspects being held at the camp to their home countries or put them on trial in civilian courts in the US. More than 400 detainees have indeed been returned to their countries, where they’ve either been tried for offences committed there, kept under some form of supervision or freed without charge.

One such detainee was Abdallah Salih al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti who was repatriated in 2005 and subsequently acquitted of terrorism charges. While some jailbirds try to make the most of their freedom by ‘putting their life back together’, in Iraq last week Ajmi turned that concept spectacularly on its head by blowing himself apart. Ajmi, along with two other Kuwaitis, detonated two explosive-filled vehicles in Mosul, killing themselves and seven other people.

Ajmi is apparently the first former Guantanamo detainee to carry out a suicide bombing in Iraq, but he’s not the first to return to the fight after being released. Last year the Pentagon reported that at least 30 former detainees had been killed or captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan (you can find details about seven of them here). The AFP story about Ajmi puts the number of Gitmo alumnus "confirmed or suspected" of having returned to terrorism at 36.

The UK Guardian reports that Ajmi was captured attempting to cross from Afghanistan into Pakistan in 2001. The US military opposed his release from Guantanamo, claiming that he presented a continuing danger. The case against Ajmi in Kuwait collapsed on a technicality: the court ruled that alleged testimony from Guantanamo was inadmissible because Ajmi hadn't signed it.

The report adds: ‘The involvement of an ex-Guantanamo detainee will make it harder for civil rights lawyers in the US and Britain who have been fighting for the release of the remaining prisoners at the camp complex.’

We should be so lucky. It’s likely to take more than a few dead bodies in Mosul to silence the calls from The New York Times, Human Rights Watch and others for Guantanamo to be closed, and its inmates either freed, regardless of the consequences, or moved to prisons or military bases in the US – and afforded a whole swathe of additional rights in the process, including new opportunities to challenge their detention.

Nobody is pretending that Guantanamo and the military tribunals system is the perfect solution for dealing with 'enemy combatants' captured in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but unfortunately no-one has as yet come up with an alternative that doesn't run the risk of allowing dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of fanatical, trained terrorists to go free. The phrase ‘legal minefield’ has never been so appropriate, although perhaps the minefield metaphor should be updated to include explosively formed penetrators and suicide bombers.

McCain, Obama and Hillary have all pledged to close Guantanamo if they're elected, although, as the LA Times reported recently, none of the three has offered specifics about how they would deal with the suspects being held there. The best McCain could come up with in a recent speech was: "I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with our allies to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control."

The Times story highlights the main stumbling block in the way of closing Guantanamo: the Pentagon wants to retain the ability to detain those individuals it considers most dangerous indefinitely, regardless of whether it has strong evidence against them. But, even were Congress to pass such a law, the anti-war lobby and their lawyers would begin fighting it just as soon as they’d shaken off their hangovers from the ‘End of Gitmo’ party.

Leaving aside the human rights specialists and activist judges, the legal establishment hasn’t been overly helpful, appearing to treat the problem of how to strike a balance between civil liberties and the rights of detainees, and the need to protect the public, as a conundrum to be pondered to the nth degree, rather than a matter of life and death.

Guantanamo, and the wider legal and constitutional issues arising from the War on Terror, have been addressed by some formidable legal minds, including US Court of Appeals Judge Richard A. Posner, whose book Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency is reviewed by the Weekly Standard’s Peter Berkowitz here, and John Yoo, the former Justice Department official who found himself framing much of the Bush administration’s legal response to 9/11 and its aftermath. But the fact that people have time to write books about these issues doesn’t bode well for the prospects of coming up with solutions any time soon.

Meanwhile, for the presidential candidates it’s all about pandering to the perception, certainly held by many in the US and abroad but magnified by politicians and the media, that America’s image somehow needs repairing. Even McCain, who’s steadfast in his support for the Iraq mission, apparently feels compelled to throw the Guantanamo bone to the less-hysterical elements of the anti-war crowd.

For the lawyers and human rights groups who are determined to spring as many detainees from Guantanamo as they possibly can, the motivations are different. While some are no doubt acting out of principle – however naively – others aren't much concerned with the guilt or innocence of those whose release they're battling to secure; for them it's all about embarrassing the US and the Bush administration, and if, every so often, one of those freed detainees happens to blow a few innocent people to pieces, that's a risk worth taking.

The anti-war crowd, and the left in general, are exemplars of political expediency, and have never been overly burdened by the unpleasant consequences of their supremely principled actions. And their efforts are cheered on by a media that takes as much delight in seeing the Bush administration defeated in the courtroom as it does from seeing US forces and their allies frustrated on the battlefield.

The US needs to come up with a watertight legal framework for dealing with the threat from radical Islamists, who often have no national allegiance, and refuse to abide by even the most basic conventions of war, fast. Those who have their reservations, but who aren’t ideologically invested in seeing Bush and the Republicans defeated, should ponder the backlash that would follow if another freed Guantanamo detainee mounted a successful attack closer to home. Last week it was seven dead in Mosul. Next time it could be 50 in London, or 500 in New York.

In the meantime, perhaps some of the shysters and Atticus Finch wannabes who are so desperate to see the inmates of Guantanamo walk might like to meet with the families of those who were murdered by Ajmi last month. They would be able to reassure the bereaved that, while his release proved fatal for their loved ones, at least justice was seen to be done.

Update: I thought of speculating in this post that some in the MSM/anti-war/human rights crowd might try to suggest that Gitmo turned Ajmi into terrorist. But I thought 'Nah, I'm getting paranoid.'

Then, via Ace, I see this…

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

UK Muslims launch group to counter extremism; extremists counter with said extremism

Unlike the rest of the BBC’s news operation, its Newsnight programme (it's on late in the evening on BBC2) isn’t afraid to tackle stories about Islamic extremism in Britain. Last night it carried a report on the launch of a think-tank set up by British Muslims to counter Islamic extremism.

The Quilliam Foundation (named after a 19th century British convert to Islam) aims to set up rehabilitation centres for former and ‘wavering’ radicals, organise training for preachers, and counter attempts to radicalise Muslims in colleges, prisons and mosques. Its website is here, and you can read more about the organisation, and the background of some of its members, here.

Its founders are former members of the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir, and the organisation has the support of respected British politicians and academics, including Sir Paddy Ashdown and Conservative MP Michael Gove, author of Celsius 7/7 (which is akin to Mark Steyn’s America Alone but without the jokes).

After the report there was a pretty entertaining studio debate between Maajid Nawaz, the foundation’s director, and Azzam Tamimi of the Hamas-linked Institute of Islamic Political Thought.

You can watch the video of last night’s programme here (link at top-right). The video will be available until 10.30pm UK time today, although you may still be able to find the report elsewhere on the site after that. The report starts at around 22.40, and the debate between Nawaz and Tamimi starts a few minutes further on.

Nawaz – who while studying in Egypt was jailed for his membership of HT – basically runs rings around Tamimi, whose only contribution to the debate is to call everyone associated with the think-tank neocons and Zionist stooges.

At one point the presenter, Jeremy Paxman, asks the evasive, weasel-mouthed Tamimi: "Do you accept there is a problem with the interpretation of Islam if some young people thing that the only way to legitimately express it is to strap explosives to themselves and blow themselves up?"

Tamimi replies that the problem has to be dealt with within Islam – which of course is exactly what Nawaz’s organisation wants to do – and accuses the foundation of ‘attacking Islam’.

Nawaz highlights the Islamists’ (yes, he freely uses the term ‘Islamists’) inability to separate religion from politics, and asks how his colleague Ed Husain – a particular target of Tamimi’s ire – "can be at war with Islam for criticising people who want to blow themselves up in Palestine" – which, as he points out, is something Tamimi himself has publicly aspired to.

It’s too early too say how successful the Quilliam foundation will be, or whether their motives are entirely genuine, but I suspect they’re the real deal. At times during the debate Nawaz talks about ‘right-wingers on both sides’ and appears to equate ‘neocons’ with Islamists, but I think that’s a case of sloppy language – the word has after all been bandied about by the media to the point where few people know what it means. And he doesn’t fall back on the usual lazy arguments about Muslims being radicalised by Western foreign policy.

The fact that the foundation is already being attacked by the extremist–riddled Muslim Council of Britain (which the Government happily talks to and funds), and by leftist commentators, suggests they’re on the right track.

There’s more from Ed Husain here and here – the comments on the second piece, at the lefty Guardian's website, include some high-quality British moonbattery.

Ed at Hot Air has news of a similar, Europe-wide initiative here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

If an MSM celebrity is caught in a park with a rope around his genitals, and the MSM doesn’t report it, does the story get around?

Along with many other people, I’ve long suspected that CNN’s hyperactive global business correspondent Richard Quest was on drugs, and sure enough he is.

Judging by Quest’s on-screen demeanour, I’ve also long suspected that he has a rope permanently tied around his neck, concealed under his clothing and with the other end tied around his genitals.

Turns out that’s true as well. Under the headline Kinky News Network, the New York Post reports:

CNN personality Richard Quest was busted in Central Park early yesterday with some drugs in his pocket, a rope around his neck that was tied to his genitals, and a sex toy in his boot, law-enforcement sources said.

Quest, 46, was arrested at around 3:40 a.m. after a cop spotted him and another man inside the park near 64th Street, a police source said.

The criminal complaint against Quest said the park was closed at the time - something Quest should have known because of all the signs saying "Park Closed 1 a.m. to 6 a.m."

Quest was initially busted for loitering, the source said. Aside from the oddly configured rope, the search also turned up a sex toy inside of his boot, and a small bag of methamphetamine in his left jacket pocket.

It wasn't immediately clear what the rope was for.

Can we infer from that that it was immediately clear what the sex toy was for?

The reports adds:

Quest's lawyer, Alan Abramson, had a much more innocuous version of events.

"Mr. Quest didn't realize that the park had a curfew," Abramson said. He was simply "returning to his hotel with friends."

The New York tabloids and the blogs are having a field day with this. But CNN, along with the rest of the networks that are signed up to the MSM’s own version of the Hitler/Stalin pact, are either playing down the story or ignoring it altogether.

CBS and ABC have brief reports buried in their showbiz sections, while CNN and MSNBC have nothing. Their reporters are presumably too busy chasing stories about politicians and celebrities being busted for things like drug possession and kinky sex.

Quest is, of course, free to get his kicks however and wherever he wants (within the constraints of the law - and I'm sorry, but 'Park Closed' means 'Park Closed').

And I for one am not going to take the cheap shot of demanding that the MSM applies its usual standards of scrutiny to one of its own.

From the sound of it, it seems that Quest may already have tried to hoist himself by his own petard.

Update: Thanks to Kate and Rusty for linking.

And for the benefit of any pedants making a beeline for the comments form, I know what 'petard' means. I just had to explain the joke word by word to the editor of a well-known web round-up mailing from a well-known US newspaper, and when you spell it out it doesn't seem so funny.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

BBC on child marriage in Yemen: Move along folks, nothing Islamic to see here

In Yemen you don't have to spell out D-I-V-O-R-C-E to hide what's going on from the kids, because it's the kids who are getting divorced. The BBC reports:

A Yemeni court has annulled an eight-year-old girl's marriage to a man in his 20s, after she filed for divorce.

The girl, Nojoud Mohammed Ali, took a taxi to a judge’s office on her own, after running away from her husband.

Lawyer Shatha Nasser told the BBC she heard about Nojoud by chance and instantly decided to represent her.

"Child brides are common in parts of Yemen, but this case received wider attention because it reached court," she said.

The report adds that Yemen has no legal minimum age for marriage, although the wife is only allowed to live with her husband once she has reached puberty. Nojoud told the court she had signed the marriage contract two-and-a-half months ago on the understanding that she would stay with her parents until she was 18, but her parents forced her to go and live with her husband a week later. The court was told that the marriage had been consummated.

The CIA factbook lists the religion of Yemen as 'Muslim, including Shaf'i (Sunni) and Zaydi (Shi'a), small numbers of Jewish, Christian, and Hindu'. And Wikipedia states: 'Less than 1% of Yemenis are non-Muslim, adhering to Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism.'

So I suppose the reluctant bride and her groom could have been members of a gun-toting, bible-bashing minority Christian sect clinging to ancient traditions like child marriage out of a sense of bitterness. However, while I wouldn't want to go jumping to conclusions, given that Nojoud's father is called Mohammad it's highly likely that they were Muslims.

And the BBC defers to no-one in its skill at navigating the minefields of multiculturalism, so it manages to report the story without mentioning the ‘M’ or ‘I’ words.
Perhaps the BBC doesn't think that Islam is issue here. After all, it also reports that:

Yemen is one of the world's poorest countries.

and...

The courtroom was packed with members of the press and human rights activists, who are using the case to highlight the need for more child protection in Yemen.

So there you go - the problem of 8-year-olds being married and sexually abused can probably be sorted out by lifting Yemenis out of poverty, and getting social services involved.

Compare the BBC's kid-gloves approach to the eccentricities of Islam with its recent reporting on the polygamy sect bust in Texas:

Texas authorities have continued raids on a ranch belonging to a breakaway Mormon sect, removing a total of almost 200 women and children since Thursday.

No problem mentioning the religion there. Every BBC report on the story refers prominently to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and some mention Bibles.

Most reports also include the following stock sentence:

Members believe a man must marry at least three wives in order to ascend to heaven. Women are taught that their path to heaven depends on being subservient to their husband.

Maybe the BBC could included a similar sentence, by way of establishing context, in reports such as today's from Yemen. Here's a suggestion:

There is no minimum marriage age for men or women under Islamic law. Mohammed was betrothed to his second wife, Aisha, when she was aged six, and the marriage was consummated when she was nine and he was 52.

Of course, they'll do no such thing, despite the fact that in a recent lecture the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, stressed that broadcasters should not shy away from reporting on sensitive issues regarding any religion (the lecture is linked at the top-right of the page):

...we have a special responsibility to ensure that, whatever the difficulties and the sensitivities, the debate about faith and society and about the way people with very different beliefs encounter each other – that this debate should not be foreclosed or censored.

Thompson's words are laughable. Time and again the BBC cows to threats, and even the possibility of threats, by Islamists, whether apologising for jokes made by presenters, calling Muslims who killed Christians in Turkey 'nationalists', changing the plots of dramas to avoid causing offence, or apologising for showing the merest glimpses of the Mohammed cartoons.

Perish the thought that, confronted with honest reporting about extreme aspects of Islam, Westerners might be more resistant to millions of people arriving in their countries from Islamic countries, free to practise their customs and under no obligation to assimilate. And perish the thought that people might be a little more supportive of US-led efforts to stop Islamic extremists dominating the Middle East.

You can find a serious discussion of child marriage in Islam, by a Muslim writer, here.

Of course, the BBC aren't the only ones in the UK living under self-imposed dhimmitude.

Update: Freeborn John links, and has extended thoughts on both child marriage in the Islamic world and the BBC's bias in general. Also linked by Pajamas.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We must listen to the IPCC say the climate alarmists – except when it's not hysterical enough

As the Earth chills, polar bears and penguins gambol on the expanding polar ice, and Al Gore tries to repackage his patented brand of hysterical dishonesty, the BBC's chief global warming climate change alarmist, Richard Black, is scrambling around with increasing desperation for stories to keep the doomsday scenario alive.

And so we get reports like this on the BBC's website. Under the headline 'Forecast for big sea level rise', Black writes:

Sea levels could rise by up to one-and-a-half metres by the end of this century, according to a new scientific analysis.

This is substantially more than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast in last year's landmark assessment of climate science.

Sea level rise of this magnitude would have major impacts on low-lying countries such as Bangladesh.

The findings were presented at a major science conference in Vienna.

The research group is not the first to suggest that the IPCC's forecast of an average rise in global sea levels of 28-43cm by 2100 is too conservative.

And so it goes on. The story, which reports findings by a UK/Finnish team, is suitably adorned with a beautiful yet poignant image of a Bangladeshi woman up to her waist in water, clutching a child.

For the sake of keeping the arithmetic simple, let's consider a sea level rise of 0.9 meters, towards the low end of the projections that have got Black so excited. This would require an average rise of a 100mm per decade for the next 90 years, or 10mm per year. Buried deep in Black's article is the current average annual rise: 3mm.

So how are the researchers able to predict a more than trebling in the rate of sea level rise? By using that paragon of reliability, the computer model, of course.

And into this particular computer model they fed information about ice caps melting as a result of rising global temperatures, regardless of the fact that the global temperature hasn't risen in the last ten years, and fell last year (it's projected to fall again this year, but unlike the alarmists we'll stick to observed facts). And regardless too of the fact that the Antarctic ice is at record coverage, the Arctic ice is recovering after recent melting, and ocean temperatures aren't rising.

The report reaches new heights of absurdity when Black quotes another scientist, Steve Nerem from the University of Colorado, as saying: "There's a lot of evidence out there that we're going to see at least a metre of sea level rise by 2100."

How the hell can anyone, let alone someone who purports to be a scientist, say they have 'evidence' that we're going to see something? On what planet does that constitute acceptable scientific methodology? And how can Black, with a straight face, include such a self-evidently preposterous statement in what purports to be a science report?

No scientist, of course, has ever produced a single grain of evidence to support any of the tenets of man-made global warming climate change. All they have ever produced are predictions, projections and guesswork, all of which have been based on the now-discredited hypothesis that global temperatures would continue to rise in line with CO2 emissions.

Another thing that's interesting about this story is that Black appears to have lost faith in the all-seeing, all-knowing, IPCC. You'll be aware that, whenever a 'rogue' scientist or politician raises doubts about the causes, effects or very existence of global warming climate change, the BBC, Gore and the rest of the alarmist movement invoke the IPCC, which they claim represents the views of the world's leading scientists, as the dissent-crusher of last resort.

Leaving aside the fact that the IPCC is not a scientific body, but a hopelessly politicised and bureaucratised offshoot of the United Nations that uses science when the science fits its agenda, and disregards it when it doesn't, it's strange then that Black is only too ready to doubt the findings of the IPCC when someone comes up with an even more alarming prediction than it can offer.

But we shouldn't be that surprised, because of all the reporters shilling for the alarmists, Black is one of the most shameless, shouting about every new finding, however unconvincing, that fits that alarmist narrative and ignoring any evidence that doesn't. At least his colleague Roger Harrabin had the decency to hold out for a couple of emails before caving in to threats from an eco-fascist (Glenn Beck video here if you haven't seen it). In Black's case, no threats are necessary.