Archive for December, 2006

The Carnival’s up, a few items, and this year’s favorite videos

Sunday, December 31st, 2006


A few current news items from Maria and Larwyn:
Dictator’s daughter told her father would hang as she enjoyed beauty salon
In the beauty salon, and elsewhere in the Jordanian capital Amman, the 39-year-old mother of five, who is nicknamed “Little Saddam’ because her temperament so closely resembles that of her father, is much-feared.

Especially if her upper lip is not waxed just right.

Knowing the enemy, and a World Exclusive: Saddam Hussein’s Last Interview.

Nancy’s going to have a heck of a time Draining the swamp.

My neighbor TigerHawk explains Some of the things I believe, but cannot prove: regarding risk


My two favorite You Tube videos this year:
First, Bryn having a haptic moment:

Too bad I sing like a frog or I’d audition for her understudy. Love the Spanish subtitles, too.

and second, the cannonball guy:


The last Christmas card of the year, from Maria.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t do year-end predictions, and I never make New Year’s resolutions. Have a wonderful New Year’s eve.

How I almost made $5 this morning

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

As the NYT won’t listen to my very assertive requests to cancel my subscription, I browsed through the contents of this morning’s edition and found their annual Sunday Magazine obituary issue, quaintly named “The Lives They Lived”.

The front page shows in neon signs JUNE ALLYSON EUGENE LANDY STEVE HOWE and a dozen others. Before looking inside, I said to The Husband, who was just getting out of bed and had walked into the kitchen for a glass of water,

I bet you $5 they don’t mention Jeane Kirkpatrick.

The Husband might have been half-asleep but is very familiar with the NYT editorial criteria.

He declined to wager. Darn.

Sure enough, no Jeane Kirkpatrick. Instead, they had Anais Nin’s “other husband”, and the Naked Guy. Can’t say I had heard of those two before.

At least The Economist showed more grace: in their year-end “Special Holiday Double Issue”, they have her obituary, along with op-ed comment (“Certain sentences from her most famous article, “Dictatorships and Double Standards” – written on her summer holiday in France, published in Commentary magazine in November 1979 – now induce a sigh.” [link added], and we all know how deeply The Economist has been sighing):

Her actual job was ambassador to the United Nations, the first woman to do it. She found the UN a dangerous place, the work miserable, and Security Council debates “more like a mugging than anything else”. There, too, her shade seemed to haunt the corridors in the days before she died. Her style at the General Assembly was a model for John Bolton’s, confrontational and blunt to a degree, and the present ambassador, as he resigned amid general hooting, candidly acknowledged his debt to her. But times were different then. Mrs Kirkpatrick represented an America that had become, under Jimmy Carter, an apologetic and unconfident country. She saw no need to compromise or conciliate on anything, but instead came out furiously fighting against the “expansionist” Soviet Union and its client states. “There is…only one revolutionary society in the contemporary world,” she cried in 1984, “and that is our society.”

America still remains the one revolutionary society in the contemporary world. Thank you, Ambassador Kirkpatrick.


Cinnamon Stillwell writes about how the Experts Discover Men And Women Are Different! Cinnamon explains,
The manly virtues include character, confidence, honor, inner strength, pride, responsibility, loyalty, generosity, industry and dignity.

The antidote to the trans confusion, male girlfriends, and weepie guys? The Discovery Channel Guys, of course! Not one wuss in the lot – and Bear Grylls looks great without a shirt on.

Unfortunately he waited to take off his shirt until he was adrift on the Pacific Ocean, but still…

Saddam to hang at 10PM EST

Friday, December 29th, 2006

A top Iraqi official said Saddam will be executed before 10 p.m. EST Friday.

I certainly hope al-Jazeera carries the execution. This is why:
Earlier this year when I went to listen to Dan Senor, one of the main points he made was that

Arab Muslims are voting and holding their governments accountable; al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya have broadcast this around the regions… This is very powerful and very important.

Specifically, on Saddam’s trial, he stated,

The trial sends a message to almost every ruler who identifies with Saddam. The only thing that never happened is the governments to be held accountable – until now. The trial’s being aired by al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya. Senor spent half a day with one of Saddam’s attorneys and was told that other area rulers are terrified, and particularly mentioned Al-Assad.

One dramatic development in the trial in recent days was Saddam’s admission that he was responsible for the 1981 assassination of a small Sunni town where 150 people killed and the town was razed.

It is important for Iraq to close this 3-decade chapter [in its history].

Let’s not underestimate the power the image of Saddam’s execution will carry across the Middle East.

Update Round-up at Right Voices

Iraq The Model has the latest.

Update, Saturday December 30 While CNN spouts off how Saddam – whose own official documents suggest that a staggering 5 million executions were made during Baath era alone – was a”champion of the Arab cause”, Gateway Pundit points out that Saddam was hanged inside one of his former torture centres. As I said above, area rulers are watching.
The Anchoress, who’s a much better woman than I, grapples with the issues of morality. Me, I’m glad the SOB’s dead. So is Pamela.

And now for The Very Briefest of Neocon Retrospectives. More from Claudia Rosett.

Another update: Again, we can be proud that the United States of America brought him down. And that no dictator can ever feel entirely safe again.

Hat tips: Larwyn

Later update, Sigmund, Carl and Alfred and Dr Sanity examine the reaction from the Left.

Ken’s idea of a good time = celebrate tyranny’s Golden Jubilee

Friday, December 29th, 2006

When he’s not using taxpayer money to pay for high-ticket lawyers to defend him from bloggers, Red Ken’s always looking for a good time.

What better, then, than to pull out all the stops in 2009 to celebrate 50 years of communist paradise in Cuba?

And it’s going to be an all-out all-city event:

The event, to be staged in 2009, will involve street parties, sports venues and some of London’s leading museums as well as the closure of Trafalgar Square.

Although the Mayor’s office refused to provide budget estimates, it could cost up to £2 million.

Even when Ken says,

“We’ve got the backing of the Cuban government for a massive festival to celebrate 50 years of justice in Cuba,”

one can’t help but realize that
1. the Cuban government’s backing won’t include financing
2. Ken’s idea of “justice” is, in a word, perverse.

However, since the celebration won’t take place for another 2 years, here’s to hoping that by then Cuba will enjoy a free society.

Now, that would be cause to celebrate: I love Trafalgar Square – I might even join in.

Badillo speaks out on education

Friday, December 29th, 2006

In today’s WSJ, Stalled in America: Why one Hispanic immigrant is being trashed for his blueprint for success

Like many millions of other immigrants, New Yorker Herman Badillo is living the American Dream. His new book, “One Nation, One Standard,” is a call to arms for Hispanics who are being shut out of that dream. So why are some of Mr. Badillo’s fellow Hispanic Americans now calling him a race traitor and bashing his book even before it was published yesterday?

Strictly speaking, Herman Badillo’s not an immigrant, since he was born an American citizen, and, as I have said earlier, “Hispanic” is a convenient construct, but the article is very interesting:

first consider the credentials Mr. Badillo brings to his subject. He arrived in the U.S. as an 11-year-old orphan in 1941 and by 1970 was elected the first Puerto Rican-born U.S. congressman. Mr. Badillo has since been deputy mayor of New York under Ed Koch, run for mayor himself and was former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s counsel on education, eventually leading efforts to reform and restore to excellence the City University of New York system.

Out of this experience comes Mr. Badillo’s blueprint for immigrant success in America. The main focus of “One Nation, One Standard” is the Hispanic community, and his central theme is education, without which, he emphasizes, no amount of work or other opportunity will help a person rise. What’s got his critics in a tizzy is Mr. Badillo’s assertion that Hispanic parents cannot depend on the government to educate their children.

As a parent, I would insist that no parent can depend on the government to educate their child. In a true sense, education implies a formation on moral, intellectual and social values that transcends the classroom, and which can not be provided by a school.

In the case of immigrants, as I blogged about last year, prior generations of immigrants were directed towards what it meant to live in an American culture by school and other social institutions, and now schools purposely avoid doing that for the sake of multiculturalism.

Instead, he says, they must push their kids and rise up against a system that steers Hispanic and other minority children into segregated classrooms of designated underachievers.

The most grievous mistake any parent can make is to allow their child to be placed in bilingual ed. As Dr. Krauthammer noted,

As the results in California have shown with Hispanic children, it delays assimilation by perhaps a full generation. Those in “English immersion” have more than twice the rate of English proficiency of those in the “bilingual” system (being taught other subjects in Spanish while being gradually taught English).

However, school administrators who get funding for bilingual programs will place the children in those programs because it justifies their jobs and it generates funding. By doing so, they deny these children the means to success not only in our country but across the world.

The article on Badillo continues,

The critics have focused on a few phrases in the book noting that the Hispanic immigrant community has not always placed as high a value on education as, for instance, Asians have. This is not an insult and does not sound like one when you actually read his book.

It is not an insult – it is the truth.

As Mr. Badillo explains, the Hispanic cultural experience was formed in part by centuries of Spanish colonialism and the feudalism it spawned in Latin America, followed by decades of dictatorships and strongmen. This cruel legacy has imbued many people with a subconscious notion that stations in life don’t change, and a sense that help can only come through the luck of having a benevolent leader.

“One Nation, One Standard” calls on Hispanic Americans to throw off those mental shackles and claim the rights and opportunities that other citizens enjoy. His goal, he told us in an interview this week, is to sound an alarm that what is now the country’s major immigrant group is at risk of becoming the first such group not to follow the path of each generation doing better than the last.

After I left liberalism I’ve disagreed with many of Badillo’s politics, and I’m glad to see that he refers to himself as an ex-liberal. He’s right on the mark when it comes to education. The book is called One Nation, One Standard: An Ex-Liberal on How Hispanics Can Succeed Just Like Other Immigrant Groups, and I’ll be reading it.



Friday, December 29th, 2006

The latest from Venezuela is that Chavez to shut down opposition TV

The Devil’s Excrement compares Latin America to Asia:

The problem is regional. Most countries in Latin America, with the relative exceptions of Brazil and Chile, continue to be focused on commodities and some basic products derived from them.

Asia has been going the other way, looking for the growth needed to improve the life of their populations, China, India, Korea, Malaysia and other countries in the region have bent over to attract foreign investment and create friendly atmospheres for them. Some like India had excellent educational systems in place. Others decided to invest not only in education, but in high quality education at all levels and staring from the bottom.

Venezuela News and Views looks at The new Venezuela: Chavez or else and how the cult of uniformity kills natural joy.

Alek Boyd is closing up VCrisis,

I once felt that my dignity was being trampled upon. I once believed that by exposing the vices and double discourse of chavismo I was doing my bit for my country. No more. Most of my countrymen, on both sides of the divide, think otherwise and behave accordingly. Chavismo is but a manifestation of Venezolanismo and its time has come. The country has changed for good, those who were in the back of the list are now in power and with a fresh mandate. Whatever comes after depends on them, in the meanwhile many folks around are having the time of their lives.

I had a very interesting conversation after the Venezuelan election with Miguel, Alek and Daniel, in which Daniel said that he had predicted that Chavez would win, but not even the Chavistas were predicting the 20 point lead. In today’s WSj, Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s article, The Populist Persuasion explores Venezuelan and Latin American politics:

To make a proper analysis of the political scene at the start of 2007, let’s first dispel the myth that Latin Americans rushed to embrace Marxist revolution at the polls in 2006. There were hard-left “victories” in Venezuela and Bolivia but neither of those elections qualify as democratic. The Venezuelan contest was riddled with irregularities, including and unaudited voter registry, and Chavez-controlled judiciary and electoral council, and the incumbent’s use of state oil revenues in the campaign. It is impossible to divine voter preferences in that race.

(You can listen to my Pajamas Media podcast with Daniel for a detailed explanation of the labyrinthine Venezuelan electoral process.)

O’Grady’s article contains one object lesson for the USA:

But there’s another reason, too, I think, that Latin America cannot seem to get out of the spin cycle of populism. And that is the intellectual impoverishment the region suffered in the second half of the 20th century, when the state got control of academia and the liberal debate about what constitutes a free society was silenced. The observation of Venezuelan-born journalist Carlos Ball in this column on Jan. 5, 2001 – that after 40 years of far-left control of “the schools, the univerisities and arts” in Venezuela “the general public [had] fallen under a well-organized system of leftist indoctrination” – applies to the vast majority of Latin nations.

And it also could in the long run apply to the USA, as many institutions are grappling with that problem.

O’Grady ends her article by explaining,

Defeating chavismo is as much about refuting an ideology that rejects individual liberty as it is about containing a military threat. This requires a challenge to the populist paradigm that now pervades Latin political thought. It is an achievable goal but one that, as Mr. Ayau can attest after years of hard work, won’t come easy. Until we get such an intellectual breakthrough, expect persistent instability and lots of Latin emigrants, with or without Chavez.

It doesn’t take a psychic to forecast that 2007 will bring more of the same.

Update … meanwhile, in London

Bloggers in Lebanon

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Michael Totten’s back in Lebanon, and has a terrific report on Hezbollah’s Putsch – Day One, with his own photos. As always, Michael does exceptionally good blogging and you must read the entire post. One thing is clear, Michael loves Lebanon and its people.

Mary joined Michael in Beirut, and she also has pictures.

Judith went to Israel and later met with Mary.

Three fascinating reports by three bloggers I’ve had the honor of meeting, and who I greatly admire.

Meanwhile Hezbullah has been handing out cash rewards based on the number of Jews killed and injured by ‘Palestinian’ Kassam rockets that are shot from the Gaza Strip

Hugh pounded him to a pulp

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Joe Rago gets his butt handed to him. Hugh Hewitt did the honors:

what is it about this vast collection of pensions, and time servers, and tenured editorialists, and beat reporters covering car crashes, that makes it better than the blogosphere?

JR: I’m sorry, I’m not following the question.

HH: What is journalism, in your eye, that blogosphere isn’t? What’s so great about the mainstream media?

You can listen to it here.

While Joe, who graduated college less than 2 years ago and is twenty-three years old (I have a pair of Ferragamos that are older than him), was clearly outclassed in every way, what I want to know is, why did the WSJ publish his ridiculous article on its op-ed page? This wet-behind-the-ears kid hasn’t even bothered to read the WSJ’s own Best of the Web, which showcases exactly that: the best of the web.

Maybe the WSJ wanted the bloggers to blog about it?
(h/t Larwyn)

Update: An exploration of the blogosphere by someone much more knowledgeable and experienced, The Blogosphere at War, and the information warriors.

Reid to Bolivia, grim milestones, and other items

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Reid to Bolivia
Elephants in Academia emailed with this news, Sen. Harry Reid Traveling to Bolivia This Week

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will join a bipartisan delegation on a trip that includes stops in Bolivia and Ecuador, two members of Latin America’s recently emerging left. International trade and anti-drug efforts are among the topics on the senators’ agenda.

As Academic Elephant said,

I’m sure Amauris Sanmartino is top on their agenda.

Amauris Sanmartino’s the Cuban dissident critical of President Evo Morales’ ties to Havana. Even when he’s a permanent resident in Bolivia, he was arrested and will be deported to Cuba. Babalu has where to contact Harry Reid on behalf of Dr. Sanmartino. (Update: Dr Sanmartino’s going to Gitmo)

Harry will miss the funeral

Grim milestones
Barcepundit says, WHAT A MORONIC REPORT. Go read about it.

Moral exhibitionism
Dr. Sowell writes,

Progressives are in the business of complaining and denouncing — as a prelude to seeking sweeping powers to control other people’s lives, in the name of curing the ills of society. The last thing they want is to discover and discuss how millions of people rose out of poverty by entirely different methods, often by freeing economies from the control of people with sweeping power over other people’s lives. Poverty and economic disparities are the raw materials from which the political left manufactures a sense of moral superiority, self-importance and political power. Against that background, it is understandable how they strive to keep poverty alive as an issue, even as they claim to want to end poverty, by playing lady bountiful to the poor. Even as they define deviancy downward, many of the progressive intelligentsia define poverty upward, so that people with amenities that even the middle class could only strive for, two generations ago, are still called “the poor” or the “have-nots.” Except for people who can’t work or won’t work, there is very little real poverty in the United States today, except among people who come from poverty-stricken countries and bring their poverty with them. Talk about “the working poor” still resonates in politics, but most of the people in the bottom 20 percent of American households are not working full-time and year-round. There are more heads of household who work year-round and full-time among the top 5 percent of American heads of households than among the bottom 20 percent. The left has striven mightily to make working no longer necessary for having a claim to a share of what others have produced — whether a share of “the nation’s” wealth or “the world’s” wealth. They have also striven mightily to inflate the number of people who look poor by counting young people with entry-level jobs, who are passing through lower income brackets at the beginning of their careers, among “the poor,” even though most of these young people have incomes above the national average when they are older. The real obsession of the left is in gaining power or, at the very least, engaging in moral exhibitionism.

Peace Prize, you ask?
Via Larwyn, Arafat’s Orchestration of 1973 Murders Acknowledged by State Department

How much different would the history of the Middle East be if the world had been forced to face the reality of Arafat’s involvement in the murder of American diplomats over 30 years ago?

Update Doug Ross has The Friends of Terror Scrapbook

Two podcasts
Louisiana Conservative interviewed Wild Bill. You can listen to the podcast here

If you haven’t listened to it yet, go to Eternity Road and listen to Francis Porretto’s wonderful tale fo the Census taker

Last, but not least
a truly beautiful post.

Edwards Enters Race

The Spanish surgeon

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

The Spanish surgeon’s been in the news, not to be confused with the Spanish Prisoner,

The Spanish Prisoner is a confidence game dating back to 1588

Key features of the Spanish Prisoner are the emphasis on secrecy and the trust the confidence artist is placing in the mark not to reveal the prisoner’s identity or situation. The confidence artist will often claim reputation for honesty and straight dealing, and may appear to structure the deal so that the confidence artist’s ultimate share of the reward will be distributed voluntarily by the mark.

Of course one’s stretching the imagination when trying to find any similarities between the Spanish surgeon and the Spanish Prisoner ploys. What’s clear is that the Cuban free-healthcare apartheid system doesn’t even work for the big honcho:
Reuters says, Spanish surgeon rushed to treat Castro:

Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, an intestinal specialist, traveled to the Caribbean island on Thursday aboard an aircraft chartered by the Cuban government, according to Spain’s left-leaning El Periodico de Catalunya newspaper.

The plane carried medical equipment not available in Cuba in case the leader needs further surgery due to his progressively failing health, the newspaper reported.

By the way, in Spain, conservative politicians questioned the use of Spanish funds to pay for medicines being sent to the Cuban leader since June (h/t Val). But I digress.

The Beeb‘s a little more specific about Dr Garcia Sabrido’s skills:

Dr Garcia is an expert on intestinal ailments, particularly cancer.

If you do a Google Scholar search, here’s Neoadjuvant Chemoradiation With Tegafur in Cancer of the Pancreas: Initial Analysis of Clinical Tolerance and Outcome and Dr. Garcia Sabrido also presented a paper at the 2nd World Congress of the World Federation of Surgical Oncology Societies, Naples, Italy, September 19-22, 2001: the doctor’s a cancer specialist.

Therefore, when the doctor categorically says,

“He hasn’t got cancer,” Garcia Sabrido said, adding that he believed Castro could be physically capable of running the country again. “While respecting confidentiality, I can tell you that President Castro is not suffering from any malignant sickness.”

one must believe him. You can even watch him say it.

After all, as Taranto points out,

Of course, Spanish doctors have lots of experience dealing with dictators who are still dead.

This is all speculation on my part, folks. Nothing to report … for now.