"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours." -Sir Charles Napier
BigEarth of New Mexico sez, The warmest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great national moment, reserve their neutrality.
Bill Whittle's mom sez, If you can’t say anything of deep and meaningful scientific or political import that is not supported by fact, reason, historical precedent and in-depth step-by-step logical analysis then don’t say anything at all!
:: Thursday, January 30 ::
AN ELBA FOR SADDAM
There is talk about finding somewhere for Saddam Hussein to live when we knock him out of power as an alternative to war. In this scenario, he would step down, but why would he do that after the dictator's recent 100% victory in Iraq's recent election?
But let's entertain the fantasy for a minute. Will the French give him a guarded apartment next door to the Duvaliers? Will Idi Amin be looking for a roommate soon in Saudi Arabia?
A near-Southpark vision is in my head of Saddam getting cuddly with Noriega in Miami, but we should imprison him in Guantanamo, giving him a little spot in Cuba with Uday and Qusay's heads as tiki torches. I cannot foresee any rescue for him there, and it would give Amnesty International something else to bitch about.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SENTENCES
We await the sentencing of the shoe bomber today.Fox News wonders whether Richard Reid (Abdel Rahim) will get the sixty-year sentence or life without parole. This is the nonsense in sentencing people who set out to kill but fail. Why do we consider giving a lighter sentence to those who miss their target? He tried to murder a plane full of people.
The Unabomber also tried to murder a plane full of people. Remember the old USA Today headline, "Ted Kazinsky, a Hero to Some."
Last night the "worst President in all of American history", according to former veteran reporter Helen Thomas, spoke about the state of the Union. Thomas' days of objectivity obviously gone for good, her words finally outdid the stupidity of the remark by Al Gore, back when he had power (HA!) and declared Bill Clinton to be "the greatest President in American history". Considering the amount of information available to these people, only Maureen Dowd has given us worse.
GO TO HELL, FRANCE
Best statement in W's speech: "The course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others." Carve it in stone, in huge letters, in the center of DC.
Then there was the call for a health care system run by doctors instead of trial lawyers and frivolous lawsuits. I would have paid money to see the look on John Edwards' face.
THEN THERE WAS A REBUTTAL
By the Governor of Washington, who recalled his Chinese indentured-servant heritage and did the obligatory support-the-President-in-the-war-effort thing you know Democrats hate to do. Why this guy? Governor Locke? As in John Locke? Oh - were we supposed to be thinking about that Locke? Sorry, no could do.
As he blathered on about his Chinese heritage I could only think of the Democrats' Chinese heritage, the one begun in 1996 with donations funneled from Beijing through Indonesia into DNC accounts while China coincidentally acquired (acquested) our most sensitive nuclear weapons technology from the paper bag behind the copy machine at Los Alamos.
Of course the governor tried to say something to stop those tax cuts in the name of the economy. Remind me, Governor, why did you lose Boeing? You imply we are standing alone in the war effort... read any papers in the last year? Hello, Alliance! Britain? Turkey? Qatar? Australia? Israel?
Further, this governor, from the state of Senator "Osama-was-a-humanitarian" Murray, was no Fred Thompson, the Tennessee Senator who offered a tough, no b.s. rebuttal to Clinton's 1994 post-Republican landslide speech and called Clinton on his political cross-dressing.
A house belonging to a Hamas supporter blew up in Gaza this morning. The Palestinians blame the Israelis. The Israelis claim the house was destroyed by the premature detonation of material in an explosives lab in the house.
This has happened before and was acknowledged by Hamas spokesman Abdel Aziz Rantisi on November 2, who referred to those dead as martyrs. But with PA police and armed Hamas disallowing access to the ruins, it may take longer to determine who did it than it did to solve the mystery of the USS Maine.
Now the problem, do we call today's dead "martyrs" and thereby acknowledge the home explosives lab, or stick with the claim that it was a rocket launched by an Israeli helicopter at election time?
Fox News reported this morning that Saddam Hussein has served his scientists with death certificates that will be used if they talk to the western inspectors. Why don't we organize a large operation to simply kidnap these guys simultaneously? Perhaps our imminent war can achieve that goal as well. A big roundup of certainly willing kidnap victims.
This death certificate delivery brought to mind an old memory of the death threat that Linda Tripp found on her White House office chair. As she became more aware of illegal activities within the Clinton Administration, she found in her chair a copy of the "Clinton death list" which was widely circulated at the time and is still a fascinating read.
Bryan at Junk Yard Blog beat me to it. His thinking on the matter is smart and scary. This should be the smoking gun that the left has been demanding, not that a decade of violations wasn't already a whole lot of smoke.
At first I dismissed this weekend's remarks by Saddam Hussein's son, Uday, as the kind of worthless trash talk we get from these people before a fight, remembering the threats by Muammar al Qadhafi that blood would run in the streets of America just before Reagan sank two of his attacking ships and blew up his Tripoli palace in 1986.
On the other hand, this is not the first time Uday has so spoken. He is remembered for a biological threat back in September 2001, just before the Anthrax got mailed. We must also remember the "humanitarian" gestures of the Clinton Administration, bringing former Iraqi republican guards to America to live.
Yesterday afternoon while driving out of Charleston, SC, what may have been a C-17 flew over the interstate. It was one thing to see the giant plane approach, but it started to turn just over the trees. I don't know how that thing stays in the air. It seemed to hover. Strattling two lanes, I watched and waited for it to drop straight to the ground.
The C-17 was introduced ten years ago, and is known for being able to use a runway as short as 3000 feet. Watching a takeoff is said to be as much an optical illusion as the low-flying turn I witnessed.
It may have actually been a C-5, but I don't think they keep those in Charleston. The C-5 is much larger, but the smaller C-17, still enormous, has unlimited range with in-flight refueling, a higher ceiling, greater speed, and shorter takeoff and landing distance.
Click those links for a lot of great photos, they will make you very proud.
To guarantee enough women will vote for his good looks, Senator and Presidential hopeful John Edwards of North Carolina is getting ready to kiss a little longer at the podium at the DNC. If he loses, he can return to his trial lawyer roots and sue Wrigley for temporomandibular joint disorder.
Yesterday was supposed be election day in Palestine, but we learned a month ago that it was not going to happen. Was anyone surprised? Was anyone less surprised to learn that Arafat blames the Jews for having to cancel, er, postpone the election?
Will the disenfranchised of south Florida march in solidarity with the authoritarian Palestinian and Iraqi regimes? - Oh, they already did. The Floridian war protesters would have been able to enjoy a march at home were it not for the meddling Freedom marchers who had the nerve to protest on the same day.
I was so hopeful, thinking of the recent election in Iraq, covered by CNN's Paula Zahn in a special report called "Iraq:You Decide". I suppose history will demonstrate that Iraq was just far enough away from Israel to carry on with what turned out to be a 100% vote for Saddam Hussein, and without the nuisance of an Israeli occupation, the Iraqis managed to count all eleven million votes overnight.
Last night's writing was a letter to a local plumbing company explaining that you do not bill for work done in response to damage caused on a previous service call... especially when the return visit did not fix the damage.
This morning my water pressure is at one-fourth, but it has warmed to forty degrees outside. The ghost who I swear is in my house broke a seal downstairs. Oh, well, I was going to find a new plumber anyway.
Besides, there are important men to think about today...
Friday's Weekend Journal is one my two favorite sections in any newspaper, specifically the next to the last page, where I often find very good, very entertaining writing.
This past Friday featured an article on contemporary Christian martyrs, subtly pointing out a key difference between them and today's more talked-about martyrs with genocidal missions and visions of paradisiacal virgins dancing in their heads, the sort who have Ramsey Clark for an ally, as his recent supposition that Jesus Christ was too a terrorist is discussed in another same-page article.
But then this is a holiday. And that same page taught me about an obscure but evidently essential figure in the civil rights movement. Bayard Rustin, who left his temporarily communist sympathies behind, went on to practice Ghandian nonviolence. His quirky, taboo lifestyle forced him out of the spotlight for the sake of the Movement, but seeing the cause as greater than himself, he served humbly and served very effectively.
The print version of the current Baptist Informer presents the biography of a Virginia slave and missionary named (interestingly) Lott Carey. He was able to purchase his own freedom and that of his children (his first wife died). Preaching the Gospel, Carey and another organized the Richmond African Missionary Society, and took his preaching to Africa. This just blows me away. He took the religion of the slave masters back to Africa, in the dangerous ocean travel of the early 1800's.
Today we see so many black Americans, particularly men, renounce their Christian upbringing and their names, taking on Arab names and embracing Islam, in something of a backlash to the slavery in America's history. What mystifies me is the lack of interest in the slavery that is ongoing, in Africa, of Africans, Christian Africans, by Islamic rulers.
It is obvious that something real was driving the likes of Lott Carey and Bayard Rustin, a driving force I fear will be as commonly forgotten and ignored as the truth about Africa.
Highly recommending Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven , for being so rich in content, so visually rich, that my mother and I were able to discuss the film in great detail for more than an hour afterward. The view it gives of 1950's Connecticutt leaves me with the same time-travel feeling I got from The Age of Innocence, a certainty that I have actually seen the past. It is one of the few times I can remember viewing that period comfortably in color, and this director loves color.
The lighter side of the film deals with all the manners of the 1950's American housewife. The second best quote in the film: "..and your chicken was divine."
There are two big social issues in this film, the stuff of daily college newpaper obsession, but this director is able to make a film about those issues without the pandering or condescension we recently got from the Church of Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine.
It was remarkable to have a movie simply present the vision, then let you sit back and know for yourself what complete bullshit the race situation was. While Mrs. Whitaker's character was back-and forth against where her heart was leading her, it was relieving to know that at this particular time the likes of King, Randolph, and Rustin (especially Rustin, considering the film's main two issues) were a civil-rights machine with a warm engine.
Director Haynes, unlike Moore, trusts his viewers' intelligence, and as a result you will be in the company of more intelligent viewers.
James Taranto at Best of the Web highlights something at the New Jersey school next to Chapel Hill. Duke University's African and African-American studies program is featuring something of a free female Mumia. According to the department's web page, she spent spent fourteen years as a "political prisoner" in a federal prison.
The claim that Whitehorn was a "political prisoner" led us to think there was something Duke wasn't telling its students; after all, America does not throw people in prison for political reasons.
Planting a bomb in the U.S. Capitol Building in 1983 was the culmination of a lifetime of radical protest for Laura Whitehorn, and 14 years in federal penitentiary have only solidified her stance as a committed American revolutionary.
You don't say! Right, Mr. Taranto? You are sending me back to UNC this past summer, when Chancellor Moeser mandated Koran study for incoming freshmen (and freshwomyn), in what he called an act of "academic freedom". Anyone read that book? Did it examine the other half of the Koran, the part that calls Christians and Jews "the worst of created beings"?
Duke's faculty has no problem with Whitehorn's bomb. This is the one that destroyed a Senate bathroom, to protest Reagan's action in Grenada. Attempted murder (murder) and destruction of property are OK with the academics if you are of University approved skin color, sexual orientation, and religion. And again it shows how correct are the likes of Dennis Prager and Ann Coulter are about the left, that the only religion they respect is the one that hates America, and that they actually don't care at all about the things for which they march.
The Washington Post has never used the term "freedom fighter" to describe Oliver North, according to a Nexis news data system search. But when two women were sentenced December 6 on charges of conspiracy in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Capitol, the Post's first eight words were: "Laura Whitehorn and Linda Evans, self-described freedom fighters." Is there a lesson here? Perhaps Ollie should have declined to testify before Congress and bombed it instead.
"I just think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."- Sheryl Crow
You mean she didn't explain how not to have enemies?
So how do you not have enemies?
-help them force out the Nazis they let march right in, to the tune of half a million American lives? -NO
-have a great American President effectively demand, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"? -NO
-foreign aid to the tune of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars? -NO
-buy the only product they have to offer when we could buy from Russia, produce our own, or convert much to solar? NO
-re-elect Bill Clinton? -NO
-send Madeleine Albright, a Jewish woman, to negotiate with the Muslims? -HELL NO
-pressure Israel to stick with it's side of OSLO but allow the PLO to repeatedly violate the agreement? -NO
-send James Carville over to help re-elect the buffoon who offers them strategically priceless territory? -NO
-have Senator Murray of Washington declare Osama bin Ladin a humanitarian school-builder? -NO
-give them a taxpayer-funded nuclear power plant? -NO
Send them movie stars with pre-approved opinions to speak against us? -MIGHT WORK...if only we would do as they say.
Mel Gibson was just interviewed by Bill O'Reilly about his film in-the-making about Jesus Christ, in Latin and Aramaic, and featuring a particularly graphic reenactment of the suffering inflicted on Jesus up to His execution.
I am OK with this, while I am sure the pious, including many I respect, will come out in great numbers condemning the presentation of the crucifixion as entertainment. They will be wrong.
We have seen graphic horror (appropriately represented, we agreed), in the storming of the beaches of Normandy in Saving Private Ryan, in Schindler's List, and in the mass execution scenes in the made-for-TV movie of Herman Wouk's The Winds of War.
This film will give, so far, the best idea of what level of suffering the Savior took on so that the people he loved would not have to suffer. Part of the discomfort, and even the offense, that many will feel in response to the images will be due to the fact that people do not want to admit or acknowledge the frightening magnitude of God's justice, the severity of punishment that all deserve for wrongdoing.
With that acknowledgement, however, comes a much clearer idea of the greatness of God's love, that he would take on such pain to save the people He loves and satisfactorily serve justice. Gibson's presentation may very well increase the overall reverence people have when glancing at a sculpture of the crucified body.
The bright side of this North Korean crisis has one more angle than the obvious: they aren't blaming the Zionists. Even if they cannot refrain from the "American Imperialism" mantra, how refreshing it is to hear threats of destruction by an enemy who does not share the Arab nations' compulsion/obligation to say the Jews are the reason for all this trouble.
Speaking of the bright side, check out this satellite photo (scroll down 1/4 page) of the Far East at night. You will be able to discern North Korea's borders by the nearly complete absence of electric light. As its accompanying article points out, hardly any other image could so well represent the complete failure of the type of government that is the Stalinist hell of North Korea.
By contrast, in a daytime space shuttle photo of Israel, you can discern its borders, particularly with Egypt, by the successful agriculture, defined by the straight line along Egypt's Sinai.
The banner at the bottom of the TV screen reads, "Iraq accuses inspectors of spying."
Well, ah, yeah. Exactly. The inspectors are there to see if Iraq is keeping secrets. Full disclosure has been demanded of Iraq. Is this a sign that Iraq is going to make the connection and finally understand, or an unintended admission that they are hiding something?
If two congressmen and a movie star, with all their influence and power, could not turn up anything on their fact-finding missions to Baghdad, what's to worry about the inspector spies? Should we send back Bonior, McDermott, and Sean Penn to make them feel better? We should throw in Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter with a deal to rebuild the Osirak nuclear reactor. There, there. All better.
The plane in this week's Charlotte crash is said to have been too heavy, and that the ramp operator refused to sign the paperwork that would have allowed the plane to fly. A supervisor signed it instead. The load weighed some 100 pounds short of the maximum allowed.
I feel sorry for that supervisor, imagining how many at that airport are thanking God it wasn't them. Even in the unlikely scenario that he criticized the ramp operator for being too cautious, he still would have been right to sign the release..
..because the plane, according to regulations, was not overloaded. 100 pounds under the max is not overloaded. Obviously, the officials who determined the maximum load ( the government? the NTSB? ) got it wrong. What do you bet the media try to put the blame on the supervisor for not forseeing that combining a heavy load with a recently repaired elevator would cause a crash? (And doesn't repaired mean repaired?)
Interestingly, three of the dead are from Marsh Harbor, where a year ago the singer Aaliyah's plane crashed from overloading. There, the pilot and the singer's people argued over the weight, but the pilot gave in. We saw another deadly example of overloading in the film Saving Private Ryan, after the plane had been loaded with thick metal sheets to protect the officer on board from enemy gunfire.
We have seen planes be remarkably strong as well. The plane that hit Tower Two should have broken apart before reaching its target, especially on the last turn. It was flying way past its maximum speed at that low altitude.
But to reiterate, falling short of the maximum is not overloading, but we live in an age that has contempt for reason and will say the supervisor and the pilot should have known better, but by a standard of gut feeling.
I have my own two-tower protest, aimed at the misinformation that gives Malaysia's Petronas Towers credit for tallest building in the world. Granted, they are lovely, and a bird's-eye look at the floor plan shows architect Cesar Pelli's eye for traditional Islamic geometric design. Also, the problem-solving accomplished for the foundations is very impressive.
And, forgive me, but the comparison to Yamasaki's Manhattan twin tower design speaks for itself. In the most unfortunate timing, a travel columnist writing for Gourmet's September 2001 issue (which you know was published a month in advance), semi-originally described the World Trade Center as "lifeless," and as the boxes the Petronas Towers came in.
Nevertheless, the spires of Petronas may reach higher than the roof of Chicago's Sears Tower, but Sears' antenna reaches higher than the spires. I disagree with counting the needles and antennae, and this case is fouled by counting the Petronas needles but not the tower atop Sears. That why I say the Malays cheated.
When you stop pandering and measure by roof height (441.9m for Sears, 413m for Petronas), America still wins by far.
We spent Sunday morning just riveted to the cycle of TV news about a hijacked, er, actually stolen, plane circling Frankfurt with a suicide wannabe threatening to fly into a tower. The newsman at CNN reported the evacuation of tall Frankfurt buildings, "skyscrapers", he called them, decribing them as 30 - 40 stories tall.
I wondered. A while back it was reported that Israeli counter-terrorism had foiled a plot to destroy the Azreili Tower in Tel Aviv. It was described as Israel's tallest building and the tallest in the Middle East. While it was a wonderful report of good news, the Azreili Tower is not the tallest in the Middle East. It is not even Israel's tallest. (It is Tel Aviv's, for the time being, but the City Gate in Ramat Gan soars over it.) Very surprisingly, the Arabs posses many taller, five in Dubai alone, even when not counting their spires.
Also a surprise, there are three in Baghdad that are taller, although unsurprisingly named Saddam Mosque or Saddam Tower.
Back to Frankfurt. The CNN reporter, amid his observations of the 30 to 40-story skyscrapers, seems to have missed the eight buildings taller than 40 floors, especially the 70-story MesseTurm, and the Europaturm Tower, which stands taller than the Chrysler Building.
Nitpicky? Yes. But when new stories like this happen, we are presented with so little information that is stretched to world-record length, as if nothing else in the world is happening. With so little to report, this Ashleigh Banfield wannabe could not even report the obvious as he drooled over the chance of hosting the live broadcast of another plane crashing into a tall building.
If the plane had not been forced to land, do you think the double-suicide bombing a few minutes later in Tel Aviv would have gotten such strong and immediate news coverage?
Over the weekend plans were announced for the tallest freestanding tower on Earth, to be built in Australia. (See here.) It will function as a solar powered generator. The article, to my dismay, refers to the Petronas Towers as the world's tallest buildings. Excuse me, but a needle on top of a building does not the tallest building make. The Malays cheated.
At a cost of $600 million the tower will power 200,000 homes. I recall the words of Hadden Suit in Carl Sagan's Contact. "Why build one when you can have two for twice the price?" That would give these people something else to bitch about.
Massachusetts truly surprised me a while back at the release of its commemorative twenty-five cent piece, when the state's design featured a patriot with a (gasp!) firearm. The liberal state of Massachusttes must have made the connection that that particular armed populace could face the tyrant and allow liberals to be liberals. More recently, a significant drop in gun crime in the Boston area has been reported, in the Boston Globe. (To clarify, that is the same Boston Globe that did "not really fire" columnist Jeff Jacoby for "not really" plagiarising US history when he corrected a number of widespread misconceptions about the Signers.)
Well, it seems that the reduction in gun violence is not due to more gun control, but (gasp again) arresting and punishing gun criminals. However, they aren't quite yet making the connection:
Perhaps nobody, including Evans, would have predicted during the summer that the data would turn out as they did.
It would help them to notice Virginia's NRA-endorsed "project exile", and its success in reducing gun violence by severely punishing gun felons, as opposed to:
What's most striking, Evans said, is that the 375 people arrested on firearms charges had an average of 22 prior offenses on their records. One person had 122 prior offenses.
My second favorite paragraph gives some hope that they just might figure it out:
Evans didn't dwell on the decrease, in part because the future is clouded by hefty budget cuts and by the potential for hundreds of officers to retire as thousands of inmates convicted of violent crimes return to city streets over the next few years.
Memo to Boston: do you remember when NYC Police shot the innocent man they thought was a rape suspect reaching for a ?? in his jacket instead of freezing on command? When Susan Sarandon, Al 'Tawana Brawley' Sharpton, and Company marched againt Mayor Guiliani's strict police enforcement? The Mayor pulled back the police, and rape and murder rates soared.
It also brings to mind the recent crime wave in the West Bank. It seems the kleptocrats in charge of the Palestinian Authority (to clarify, the same PA that has suspended this month's elections because of the Jews) have hoarded the available money for police.