Monday, January 31, 2011
I was struck by a couple of exchanges between Assange and Kroft. First, there was the discussion about Assange not redacting names of Afghans who had assisted U.S. and Coalition forces:
Kroft: The most persistent criticism from within the press has been that you have behaved recklessly from time to time. And the example that they cite is the fact that you've decided to release Afghan documents without redacting the names of people who had provided intelligence to the U.S. government.
Assange: There's no evidence, or any credible allegation, or even any allegation from an official body that we have caused any individual at any time to come to harm in the past four years.
Kroft: The Pentagon said that they've gone through all of these documents and they found the names of 300 people.
Assange: Well, that's new public information to us. It's possible that there are 300 names in the publically released Afghan material. We don't pretend that that process is absolutely perfect. We did hold back one in five documents for extra harm minimization review and we also improved our process. So, when Iraq came around there was not even a single name in it.
Kroft: I mean, there have been reports of people quoting Taliban leaders, saying that they had the names of these people and that they were going to take retribution.
Assange: The Taliban is not a coherent outfit. But we don't say that it is absolutely impossible that anything we ever publish will ever result in harm. We cannot say that.
Yet let's consider Jonathan Foreman's recent article in Commentary on Wikileaks where he cites Assange telling The Times of London that Afghans who had assisted U.S. and Coalition forces had behaved "in a criminal way." Foreman writes, "They were, in other words, on the wrong side, mere collaborators who had put themselves in danger of reprisal. It would seem that, in Assange's worldview, the Taliban is the legitimate government of Afghanistan, resisting imperialist invaders."
Then, of course, there is the clandestine nature of Wikileaks:
Kroft: For somebody who abhors secrets, you run a pretty secret organization.
Assange: That's not true. What we want is transparent government, not transparent people. We are an organization who one of our primary goals is to keep certain things secret to keep the identity of our sources secret so secrecy is an inherent part of our operation.
Kroft: The State Department would make the same argument. They have...doing very sensitive work that they're trying to make peace and negotiate situations around the world. Very delicately. It's very important that they do this in secrecy. What's the difference?
Assange: We don't say that the State Department should have no secrets. That's not what we're saying. Rather, we say that if there are people in the State Department who say that there is some abuse going on, and there's not a proper mechanism for internal accountability and external accountability, they must have a conduit to get that out to the public. And we are the conduit.
In other words, it's secrecy for me but not for thee. I don't buy Assange's claim he believes the State Department is entitled to its secrets. If anyone from the State Department or somehow has access to State Department information sends him documents is he going to reject them? Hell no. Assange accepts whatever he receives at face value. Given the sheer number of documents Wikileaks has received how can he and his organization have verified the veracity of the information? How do we know someone who has an axe to grind hasn't falsified these documents or made them up out of thin air?
Clearly, Assange does not care about such things. His objective is to weaken, if not to destroy the United States. And if that means providing aid and comfort to our enemies then so be it. Yet perhaps the only way to discredit Assange and Wikileaks is if it can somehow be conclusively demonstrated the State Department cables, documents pertaining to the Wars in Afghanistan and Ira and other documents he has received and disseminated contains false information.
The British born Barry is best known for arranging the James Bond theme and scored the music in a dozen of the Bond films. He also scored the music for films such as Born Free, The Lion in Winter, King Kong, Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves.
I think Barry's finest work was done in Midnight Cowboy especially the "Midnight Cowboy Theme" featuring Toots Thieleman's unmistakable harmonica.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Matters became more complicated today when Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia's Islamist movement, returned after nearly two decades of exile in London.
Ghannouchi has been portrayed as a Muslim leader who favors democracy. Indeed, in 2001, Azzam Tamimi wrote a book about Ghannouchi titled, Rachid Ghannounchi: A Democrat within Islamism. (On a side note, it was Tamimi who in January 2008 said during a debate on Iranian TV that Israeli Jews should go back to Germany. So perhaps it was Tamimi who gave Helen Thomas her inspiration. But I digress.)
For his part, Ghannouchi insists he's no Khomeini. Yet no less an authority on the Middle East than Martin Kramer notes the Sunni cleric has long admired the Iranian Revolution. Gabriel Schienmann also warns us not to be fooled by Ghannouchi citing his support for Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the destruction of Israel.
Now there are those such as California State University political science professor Asad AbuKhalil who argue that the Tunisian protests are entirely secular in nature while others such as Daniel Larison at The American Conservative argue the Islamists enjoy little influence in Tunisia and thus there is little chance they will rise to power. The Tunisian uprisings might well be secular in their inspiration. Yet Islamists like Ghannouchi know an opportunity when they see one. Even if an Islamist government doesn't come to power in Tunisia they could play a key role in shaping a future government. A future government that might very well be more repressive than the Ben Ali regime and a future government that might also be quite anti-American.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Caroline Glick of The Jerusalem Post has certainly given the matter some thought and she is not optimistic. While Glick does not see Hosni Mubarak being overthrown she does think he will soon choose his successor:
But the same observers are quick to note that whoever Mubarak selects to succeed him will not be the beneficiary of such strong support from Egypt's security state. And as the plight of Egypt's overwhelmingly impoverished citizenry becomes more acute, the regime will become increasingly unstable. Indeed, its overthrow is as close to a certainty as you can get in international affairs.
And as we now see, all of its possible secular and Islamist successors either reject outright Egypt's peace treaty with Israel or owe their political power to the support of those who reject the peace with the Jewish state. So whether the Egyptian regime falls next week or next year or five years from now, the peace treaty is doomed.
Let us not forget that there was a time when Egypt was Israel's greatest enemy. They thrice went to war during Israel's first quarter century. Of course, that can be easily forgotten considering Israel and Egypt have been at peace for a period longer than when they were adversaries.
However, just because Israel and Egypt have been at peace for more than three decades doesn't mean they are friends. When I spent a good part of the summer of 1988 in Israel, the tenth anniversary of Camp David Accords were approaching. People who talked about Egypt generally said something along the lines of, "We're at peace but it's a cold peace."
Indeed, there have been times during Mubarak's long reign where it has been downright frigid. In 2002, Egyptian TV broadcast a 41-part mini-series across the Arab world based on the "Protocols of Elder Zion" despite protests from both the United States and Israel. The following year, "Protocols" was put on display next to a Torah in the Library of Alexandria. It was only last month that Al-Liwaa, Al-Islami, an Egyptian government weekly, published an article proclaiming Jews have no right to be in Israel and that Israel will cease to exist by 2025. Earlier this month, Abdullah Al Ash'al, a former Deputy Foreign Minister accused the Mossad of involvement in the bombing of the Alexandria church. While Egypt has not fired a shot at Israel in nearly forty years, the Mubarak regime has been content to tolerate anti-Semitic sentiments and outright hostility towards Israel.
Nevertheless, Mubarak has kept the Camp David Accords in tact. Israel and Egypt are not at war. Yes, Mubarak has governed his people very poorly and he has no one but himself blame for the current state of affairs. But after Mubarak, who can say Egypt won't rip up the Camp David Accords and go to war with Israel? Couple that with a regime in Iran bent on Israel's annihilation and we could see the Middle East explode like it never has before. Lord help us.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Vice-President Joe Biden's assertion in an interview with Jim Lehrer that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is not a dictator has to rank amongst the daftest things that have crossed the threshold of his lips.
It certainly ranks up there with his assertion during the 2008 Vice-Presidential debates that the United States and France had "kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon." That would certainly be news in the streets of Beirut.
Or how about when he told Katie Couric during the '08 campaign that FDR had gone on television to talk to the American people after the 1929 stock market crash despite the fact that Herbert Hoover was President and television didn't exist? Ms. Couric didn't even bat an eyelash.
And yet they call Sarah Palin stupid.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I was struck by one of the quotes Costa highlighted concerning Romney's position on the merits of a prospective GOP presidential hopeful having a background in business:
I don't know who all is going to get in the race, but I do believe that it would be helpful if at least one of the people who's running in the Republican field had extensive experience in the private sector - in small business, in big business.
Somehow I don't think Romney was referring to Herman Cain.
But I'd put up Cain's private sector experience against Romney's private sector experience any day of the week. I also think Cain resonates with conservatives in a way Romney never will no matter how much money he spends.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
|SPARC speaker rejects affirmative action policies|
|Written by Elliott Burr - Town Crier Staff Writer|
|WEDNESDAY, 26 JANUARY 2011|
Promoting diversity over qualification is degrading California and the country, according to Ward Connerly, chairman of the American Civil Rights Coalition and former University of California regent.
“We’re more obsessed with diversity than competence,” said Connerly, who spoke at the South Peninsula Area Republican Coalition (SPARC) meeting Jan. 19 at Fremont Hills Country Club in Los Altos Hills. “We all pay a tax when we’re more concerned about diversity than merit. … And you wonder why California can’t balance its budget.”
Connerly, an African American political activist who opposes racial and gender preferences, suggested that discriminating on the basis of immutable traits such as gender, color and ethnicity to forward a group creates a separate class of people who are treated differently.
He said policies like affirmative action – an effort to balance race, gender and ethnicity inequities in universities and businesses – promote social stratifications. Work ethic, he said, should drive success, not discriminatory policies.
Proponents of affirmative action argue that certain populations’ qualifications exist, but they lack the economic means to attain higher education.
“If you wonder when the time to pull the plug on affirmative action is, the time is now,” Connerly said. “There have been more preferences installed in the last two years than the last 10 years.”
Connerly also touched on illegal immigration and the need to tighten national borders. California, he said, is overrun with residents who are part of an “underground economy.”
“Look at our hospitals, look at our schools, our prisons, our employers, look at our taxes,” he said of undocumented workers. “These people are part of an underground economy. … People who work but pay no taxes … increase the burden on the rest of us.”
If California doesn’t do something about illegal immigration, the state is “going to drown,” Connerly said.
“I hope and pray (newly elected California Governor) Jerry Brown can get a hold on this,” he said.
Contact Elliott Burr at email@example.com
SPARC is a local organization that aims to energize the Republican base in support of GOP goals. For more information, visit www.sparcgop.org.
Earlier this month, Kelly Williams-Bolar has been sentenced to ten days in prison and three years probation for sending her daughters to get their schooling in a district in which they do not live. Williams-Bolar, who lives in a poor section of Akron, Ohio, sent her daughters to a school in a neighboring district where her father resides. Williams-Bolar registered her daughters at her father's address rather than her own.
Williams-Bolar served nine days of her sentence and was released today. She should have never been incarcerated for a second. But since this is a felony conviction, Williams-Bolar will now be unable to obtain her teaching degree.
So I guess this means Williams-Bolar's daughters will be kicked out of school? Is this justice served?
If Williams-Bolar had access to vouchers to send her daughters to the school of her choice she would not have suffered the indignity of being arrested, put on trial and deemed a convicted felon. Kelly Williams-Bohar is no criminal. I hope Ohio Governor John Kasich sees fit to pardon Williams-Bohar.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
How exactly does Obama think we got under a mountain of debt in the first place? At one point, President Obama noted that countries in Europe invested more in roads and railways than we do. Modeling ourselves after Europe isn't exactly a sound strategy when you consider the fiscal state of Europe is more perilous than our own.
President Obama spoke of innovative American individuals such as Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and innovative American companies like Google and Facebook. But innovation comes from the individual and entities established by individuals. Did Edison, the Wright Brothers, Google and Facebook seek government handouts?
I might have given greater weight to President Obama's remarks about education had he spoken about school choice rather than more federal control of education. When it came to illegal immigration, Obama was downright shrill when he said, "And let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation."
The President gave short shrift to foreign affairs. He spoke of how our troops in Iraq leave with their head held high. They do so because of the President Bush's surge, a policy vigorously opposed by the White House's current occupant.
Speaking of the current occupant, I am not sure how he can say our reputation around the world has been restored when the Chinese openly mock us at a White House state dinner.
It was nice of President Obama to say he supports the aspirations of the Tunisian people. But what of the aspirations of the people of Egypt, Lebanon and, for that matter, Iran?
I did applaud, however, when President Obama called upon colleges and universities to allow military recruiters and the ROTC to their campuses now that DADT has been repealed.
Of course, no one will remember a word of this speech in a day or two. After all, President Obama's actions in the coming weeks and months will speak much louder.
2010 was the year activists redrew the battle lines in American politics, erasing "R" and "D," fusing red and blue, blurring conservative and liberal, and creating bright contrast between political professional and citizen.
The Sammies celebrates ordinary Americans who take extraordinary steps to advance our freedoms.
This year, SAM will recognize their achievements with new categories, more prizes, and the best party we've ever thrown!
These extra-ordinary Americans help all of us relate to citizenship on a personal level, and inspire us all to re-imagine how we can engage in our democracy.
CATEGORIES & SUBMISSIONS INFO
The official deadline for the 4th Annual Sammies is January 28, 2011.
We strongly encourage you to nominate the work of others, as well as your own work. To enter, click here to fill out our submission form.
Modern Day Sam Adams:
Like the original Samuel Adams, this strategist sparked a revolution, redrawing the lines of the political landscape. The Strategist united people behind a vision that successfully acted as both change agent and connector.
In the spirit of Paul Revere, who warned the colonists and, more importantly, knew which doors to knock on, The Messenger is a master of the media, awakening the American people to the principles and cause of liberty.
the Public's Servant:
No cash prize as the award goes to a public official
This honoree holds themselves and their institution to a higher level of responsibility. From school board leader to congressman, the public servant awardee has enacted or helped to enact tangible improvements to their district or community from their elected or appointed position.
The Reformer is a leader in their community who works to improve and make more responsive-and responsible-the institutions of government. The Reformer is someone who organized reform measures that contributed to better government.
Government without watchdogs is like a free all-you-can-eat-buffet. The Watchdog is a citizen who took risks by blowing the whistle or effectively making known information that promotes good government, good citizenship, or both.
In 2010, newcomers to the political scene accomplished what professional politicians couldn't. The Rookie is someone who engaged in politics for the first time. Please submit an inspiring story about how you engaged and what you accomplished.
Please direct all questions to Nic Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org
The King's Speech, True Grit and The Social Network were amongst the ten films nominated.
The only film amongst those nominated that I have seen is Toy Story 3. Since the Academy resumed nominating ten films rather than five it seems they will include one animated film in the mix. Last year, they nominated Up (and yes I saw that one as well).
I'm not sure having seen only one of the ten films nominated says more about me or the films. Although I could probably be persuaded to see The Black Swan to observe the delicate interaction between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.
This development comes scarcely a fortnight after Hezbollah ministers resigned en masse from Hariri's cabinet while he was visiting President Obama at the White House. It was widely believed that Hezbollah members were going to be indicted by a UN tribunal for the assassination of Hariri's father, Rafik, in February 2005. It was, of course, the Hariri assassination which sparked the Cedar Revolution resulting in the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon two months later.
I cannot say that I am surprised by this turn of events especially when Druze leader Walid Jumblatt announced last Friday that he would back Hezbollah.
Following Jumblatt's endorsement of Hezbollah, Samir Geagea, a leading figure amongst Lebanon's Maronite Christian community, predicted that a Hezbollah controlled would turn Lebanon "into Gaza."
So how will the Obama Administration going to respond to this development? Yesterday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley gave some indication when he said a Hezbollah controlled government would be "more problematic" and supporting it economically "would be a difficult for the United States to do." Well, stating the Hezbollah would be "more problematic" and "difficult" is a far cry from stating the United States will not recognize a Lebanese government controlled by Hezbollah. I mean it's not like Hezbollah is building housing in East Jerusalem.
Monday, January 24, 2011
I remember ESPN Classic broadcasting a marathon of LaLanne's old programs when he turned 90.
Well, I am sure LaLanne now has a whole new audience he can show the finer points of fingertip pushups.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Obama had planned to attend the game if the Chicago Bears had won the NFC Championship game.
However, we won't avoid Obama entirely on Super Bowl Sunday. The Preident will be part of the FOX pre-game show when he sits down with Bill O'Reilly.
Then again the O'Reilly-Obama interview could be better than the game.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Now Olbermann has been dismissed from the airwaves.
This is what we call poetic justice.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
While it is certainly noteworthy occasion it does seem to obscure the fact exactly two years have passed since Barack Obama was sworn into office by Chief Justice John Roberts. We have arrived at the mid-way point of Obama's presidency and his promises of hope and change have made some nostalgic for JFK's high hopes.
Perhaps the most memorable part of Obama's inauguration speech was his proclamation of a "new era of responsibility." Well, President Obama has spent a good portion of his first two years in office holding others responsible for his actions, most notably President Bush. Combine this with his efforts to transform American society beyond recognition the American electorate responded by electing a Republican Congress.
Despite the Democrats recent electoral setback, President Obama's numbers have rebounded. A Gallup Poll from earlier this week had his job approval at 49% while his job disapproval was at 43%. While that is long way from approval ratings of near 70% he enjoyed in May 2009 when the Tea Party was in its nascency. However, it might be all he needs. If Obama is not faced with a Democratic primary challenger it will be nearly impossible for any Republican to dislodge him from the White House next year.
On the other hand, a week in politics is a lifetime. If the economy does not improve, if Obamacare is still an issue and if there is a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil, heaven forbid, it could mean someone other than Barack Obama will be taking the oath of office two years from today.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Last night, the National Library and National Archives of Canada had been scheduled to show the documentary Iranium, which concerns Iran's nuclear programme. However, there were complaints by the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa. Then came subsequent telephone threats as well as two suspicious letters which prompted the Archives to close early.
It should be noted that the National Libary and National Archives of Canada is located on Wellington Street and is next door to the Supreme Court of Canada and a short distance away from Parliament Hill. On a personal note, I spent many hours at the National Archives working on my undergraduate thesis so I know the place intimately. When you enter the building the first thing you see is Glenn Gould's Steinway piano.
Well, this was too much to bear for Moore who has issued an order that the National Archives show the film. Moore stated, "The Iranian Embassy will not dictate to the Government of Canada which films will or will not be shown in Canada." Moore has represented his Vancouver area constituency in the House of Commons under the Conservative Party banner since 2000 and was appointed Minister of Canadian Heritage by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in October 2008.
The National Archives will show Iranium sometime next month. The film is due to premier in the U.S. on February 8th.
This is absolutely fantastic news. The fact that it is even possible for Giffords to have recovered sufficiently to be released from intensive care less than two weeks after she was shot in the head at close range is a testament to both the spirit of Giffords as well as Dr. Peter Rhee and the staff at Tucson University Medical Center.
Today, I came across a reply to my post written by Daniel Larison in The American Conservative. Larison agrees with my assertion that whomever succeeds the Ben Ali regime won't necessarily be an improvement. However, he takes issue with my other assertion that this could present an opportunity for al Qaeda to assert its influence and impose Sharia law. Larison writes:
First of all, the main question is not whether the so-called Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb will try to "assert its influence," which is minimal, and the group is in no position politically or militarily to impose anything on Tunisia. The real question is this: is Ghannouchi's interim government going to be accepted by the protesters as an acceptable caretaker until new parliamentary elections? If not, and if the protests escalate against the entire regime associated with Ben Ali, there is no telling what might happen next, but a military coup becomes more likely.
I have little quarrel with Larison's analysis and I certainly hope he's right about al Qaeda not having a strong foothold in Tunisia. This article on Magharebia seems to support Lairson's argument. Nevertheless, I am not one to underestimate the capacity of al Qaeda to create terror. Indeed, Lairson does not discount the possibility "they couldn't try to cause some disruptions and launch some attacks inside Tunisia." Given Tunisia's current state of affairs, a single successful attack by al Qaeda in Tunisia could be all that it takes to move them from being a marginal to a major player in Tunisian politics.
In just over five years, Lieberman went from being the number two man on the Democratic ticket to public enemy number one amongst Democrats. His vigorous defense of the Bush Administration on the War in Iraq sealed his fate with liberals who would choose Ned Lamont to be the Democratic Party's standard bearer in Connecticut in the 2006 election. Lieberman would run as an Independent Democrat and was re-elected with the solid support of Republicans.
Of course, Lieberman was no conservative and he didn't pretend to be. Shortly after his re-election, Lieberman told Chris Wallace, "I agree more often than not with Democrats on domestic policy. I agree more often than not with Republicans on foreign and defense policy. I'm an Independent."
There is a price to be paid for independence. You will invariably make people angry. So despite his initial opposition to Obamacare it really should have come as no surprise that Lieberman would have eventually got on board with it.
So Dave Weigel is probably right to say Lieberman would have lost had he sought re-election next year. But in the long run I think Lieberman will be remembered for his transparent decency and willingness to act on principle.
"Labor dominated Israeli politics for the country's first three decades, producing a string of prime ministers that included Israel's founding father, David Ben-Gurion, and the slain prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin. Mr. Barak briefly served as prime minister in 1999 and 2000.
But in recent years, Labor has been reduced to a midsize party, with just 13 seats in the current parliament. Many party members hold Mr. Barak responsible for the party's demise, and accuse him of abandoning its socialist and dovish ideals to remain in power.
Yohanan Plesner, an [Israeli] lawmaker, said it was a sad day for Israel. "This is the day the Labor Party was buried for good," he said."
Not at all! It is a great day for Israel and for the West. It represents another nail in the coffin of the statist, leftist, progressive movement that brought so much damage to Western Civilization in the 20th century.
For several generations, the socialists who founded and ran the Labor Party completely dominated Israeli politics. They managed to take a country with arguably the greatest concentration of brain power, creativity and potential entrepreneurship and mire it in a collectivist funk. It is only in the last generation, during which the Israeli economy, having at last been freed from the shackles imposed largely by the Labor Party, has soared in a frenzy of free market activity.
Ehud Barak is the author of several efforts at blatant appeasement of Israel’s Arab enemies, and for that he is no hero in my book. But if the action he just took results in the further marginalization, demoralization and delegitimization of the Left in Israel, then he may yet be recorded as a hero of the Jewish people.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
If the judge for some reason dismisses the charges against Baby Doc then all hell will break loose.
Needless to say, the plot has thickened.
Kirshner was a music publisher, manager, concert promoter extraordinaire and master of ceremonies. Here's a piece highlighting his five greatest contributions to pop culture. Amongst them were Bobby Darin, The Monkees and his stable of songwriting talent in the Brill Building which included the likes of Neil Sedaka, Neil Diamond, Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil.
Kirshner sure made a splash on popular music. Or more aptly, he made a splish-splash.
While Koch makes it clear Palin "scares the hell out of me" he nonetheless felt compelled to speak up on her behalf:
Why do I defend Palin in this case? I don't agree with her political philosophy: She is an arch conservative. I am a liberal with sanity. I know that I am setting myself up for attack when I ask, why did Emile Zola defend Dreyfus? Palin is no Dreyfus and I am certainly no Zola. But all of us have an obligation, particularly those in politics and public office, to denounce, when we can, the perpetrators of horrendous libels and stand up for those falsely charged. (Emphasis mine) We should denounce unfair, false and wicked charges not only when they are made against ourselves, our friends or our political party but against those with whom we disagree. If we are to truly change the poisonous political atmosphere that we all complain of, including those who create it, we should speak up for fairness when we can.
Koch concludes his piece with high praise for the former Alaska Governor:
While I disagree with her and I am prepared to oppose her politically, in the spirit of longed-for civility I say, Ms. Palin you are in a certain sense an example of the American dream: You have the courage to stand up and present your vision of America to its people. Your strength and lack of fear make America stronger and are examples to be emulated by girls and boys, men and women who are themselves afraid to speak up. You provide the example that they need for self-assurance.
Ed Koch is a liberal with sanity. If only he wasn't the exception to the rule.
Monday, January 17, 2011
I think it is safe to say Baby Doc didn't come back to Haiti to drink in its healing waters. Given the abysmal progress with recovery efforts for last year's earthquake, the cholera epidemic and the chaos of last November's elections, Baby Doc sees an opportunity.
Even without the events of the past year it can be argued that Haiti has seen little improvement since Baby Doc was driven from power. There have been a dozen Presidents and four military coups over the past twenty-five years and life in Haiti is as nasty, brutish and short as it has ever been in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Forty per cent of Haiti's population is under the age of 25 and thus has no memory of Baby Doc or his brutality and might be inclined to welcome him with open arms. Yet I am not sure what makes anyone think Baby Doc would govern with any more benevolence this time around.
As of this writing, no attempt has been made by Haitian authorities to arrest Baby Doc.
Friday, January 14, 2011
So what happens next? Will Ghannouchi be able to placate the populace? Will there be elections? If so then how soon? Of course, even if elections are conducted in a free and fair manner let us remember that Tunisia isn't exactly known for having transparent institutions or a vibrant civil society. You don't wipe away endemic corruption much less cultivate a population that is unafraid of civic participation overnight. While it is clear that Ben Ali and his family wore out his welcome with the Tunisian people it doesn't necessarily mean what comes after will be an improvement.
The thing that has caught my attention about the events in Tunisia is the support it has received from al Qaeda. If elections are not held in a timely manner or if the results of said election are not deemed acceptable by the new administration an opportunity could present itself for al Qaeda to assert its influence and impose Sharia law. Should such a development come to pass then it could have grave implications not only in the Middle East but for the United States and the West. We could have an Afghanistan in Africa.
My prediction for this Sunday? Patriots 41 Jets 0.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Now the liberal media is up in arms over Palin's use of the term "blood libel." Or more precisely the liberal media is upset that Palin accused them of manufacturing one.
Yet this is exactly what the Krugmans, the Fondas, the Olbermanns and others have done. They took a horrific situation and cast the blame for it at her door in an effort (in Olbermann's words) to dismiss her from politics and public life. All Palin has done is call them to account and has done so in her usual candid and vivid manner.
But for those who reservations about Palin's use of the term "blood libel" then please consider the following. Shortly after the 2008 presidential election, I wrote an article titled, "Sarah Palin is the Israel of American Politics." By that I meant to say, "If Sarah Palin were a member state of the UN she would be condemned daily by the General Assembly for transgressions both real and imagined." Allow me to elaborate:
Those who hate Israel are prepared to believe any unkind word said about it. If Israel-haters are told that Israelis use the blood of Palestinian children to make Purim pastries they accept it as the gospel truth. Those who hate Sarah Palin are prepared to believe any unkind word said about her. When unamed sources from the McCain campaign were alleged to have said Palin didn't know Africa was a continent, the Palin haters accepted it as an article of faith. Never mind that Palin led an effort to have Alaska divest its holdings in the Darfur region of Sudan. Those who hate Palin are not interested in the truth. They are interested only in seeing grievous harm come to her.
Well, more than two years have passed and as the events over the past several days have demonstrated Sarah Palin is still the Israel of American politics. There is a strong segment of the American electorate prepared to believe any negative word about Palin at face value. And as we have seen that includes everything up to and including being responsible for mass murder.
But then again being the Israel of American politics isn't entirely a bad thing. Given that a majority of Americans support the State of Israel and that a majority of Americans don't think Palin (or for that matter Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh) bear any responsibility for what happened in Tucson there is every reason to believe that Palin will come away from this only stronger.
Monday, January 10, 2011
In an interview with the Boston Herald, Menino said, "There's nobody that can beat him."
Well, Menino should know. Last November, Menino was elected to an unprecedented fifth straight term for the Hub's top job.
Although Menino has been plagued by health problems since his re-election, when he speaks people should listen, mumbles and all.
Woody Allen said that 90% of life was just showing up. Well, Menino has followed that adage. If there's a community event anywhere in the city chances are Menino is going to be there. I think it would only be a slight exaggeration to say that Menino has probably walked on every street, road and public alley in Boston. While Menino might not represent the entire Bay State he does know the public mood of a substantial part of it.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
So too has Jane Fonda, The Daily Kos and John Nichols of The Nation. I am sure there will be more to come.
Their criticisms of Palin center on the SarahPAC map which targeted 20 Democratic Congressmen who had voted in favor of Obamacare with crosshairs. Amongst those Democrats was Gabrielle Giffords.
Do these people really think Sarah Palin wanted Gabrielle Giffords and those other Democratic Congressmen murdered?
Do these people actually believe Palin's political activity constituted a death threat to Giffords and the other Democratic Congressmen?
If so they why didn't they object when Democratic Leadership Council essentially used the same tactic against President Bush during the 2004 presidential campaign?
Do these people honestly believe Palin inspired Jared Loughner to commit murder and mayhem?
As of this moment we don't know why Jared Loughner did what he did today and we might never know. But if they believe in their heart of hearts that Sarah Palin was the catalyst for this heinous act then it says a great deal more about Paul Krugman, Jane Fonda, The Daily Kos and John Nichols of The Nation than it does about Palin.
Please call in at 602.508.0960 and let us know your thoughts. Tune in locally to KKNT 960 AM or listen live online at KKNT960.com.
If we have time, we will also discuss efforts by the FCC to impose Net Neutrality on the internet.
Update from Fox News: Update:
Huffington Post has live updates on their blog. Check out the Twitter updates also on Gabrielle Giffords which are breaking even faster (I recommend using the free Tweetdeck). This is very sad and our prayers go out to Giffords and her family. One staffer has been confirmed dead. There may be as many as 6 killed and 12 injured, including a 12-year old girl, Afghan vet, and three staffers. It has also been reported that Federal Judge John Roll was one of the fatalities at the Tucson shooting. The gunman is described as a young male and has been arrested. The shooting took place at a grocery store in Tucson where Giffords was holding an event. Giffords is considered a moderate to left Democrat (self-described blue dog) and generally gets along with most people.
I'm already being attacked on Twitter for exposing the shooter's left wing leanings. The left is back to their hypocritical censorship! PaddyDuffy: "The Intellectual Conservative runs with "Loughner's Favourite Book Communist Manifesto" headline. How in ***** is that relevant?"
Tune in to the Alexander and Goldman Show tonight to follow this.
Screen shots from one of the shooter's YouTube videos:
His return culminated today with a speech to his followers in Najaf.
True to form, his speech was full of denunications of the United States. Yet if it wasn't for the United States, Sadr would not have the power and influence he enjoys.
If Saddam Hussein was alive and still in power, Sadr might have met the same fate as his father and his older brothers. Now I know Sadr would have accepted martyrdom. Yet if Sadr was given the choice between martyrdom and having significant power in running Iraq's government he would choose the latter ten times out of ten. Sadr has the United States to thank for that choice.
Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head today during a constituency event outside a grocery store in Tuscon. Giffords later died of her injuries. She was only 40.
FNC is reporting that three other people were also killed including a child.
Giffords was elected to her third term as the representative for Arizona's Eighth District last November.
She is survived by her husband astronaut Mark E. Kelly.
UPDATE: Giffords is alive and in surgery.
Obviously, the situation is touch and go. But if she pulls through never will I have been so happy to get something wrong.
UPDATE: While Giffords has a long way to go there's a good chance she will survive her injuries.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for six other people who have now been identified.
Judge John Boll, the Chief Justice of the Arizona District Court, was a friend of Giffords and went over to her event to say hello with no way of knowing what was to happen.
Gabe Zimmerman, a member of Giffords' staff, is also amongst the dead. He was to be married this summer.
Christina Taylor Green had just been elected to her school's student council. What better way to learn about public service than to meet her local Congresswoman? She was only 9.
Dorwin Stoddard, a local pastor, also died in the attack. I haven't seen any details about the lives of Dorthy Murray and Phyllis Scheck other than if not for the act of a deranged man they would have woken up tomorrow.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
I attended an outstanding symposium on January 6, 2010 for right-leaning bloggers by Americans for Prosperity discussing the proposed Net Neutrality legislation. Speakers included AFP's Phil Kerpen, Jon Henke from Digital Society, Larry Spiwak from the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies, Jim Harper from the CATO Institute, and Seton Motley of Newsbusters and Carolyn Brandon. (AFP's Phil Kerpen and Herman Cain pictured in photo to right)
Net Neutrality is a "solution" in search of a "problem." Net Neutrality would give the government power to regulate the cost of accessing the internet - prohibiting cable and telephone companies from restricting content or access (so for example, users who are heavily using the internet downloading or uploading massive amounts of video could not be charged more, and everyone would be prohibited from paying more for faster service).
Kerpen said that Net Neutrality is being pushed by a bunch of astroturf left wing organizations like Free Press as well as Marxist professors, although they're trying to fake that it's a grassroots effort. They use attractive Hollywood actors and actresses as spokespersons in order to manipulate people on this issue. Congressional Democrats whine that it's necessary because "women and minorities' voices are not being heard."
Kerpen informed us that Google is one of the biggest proponents behind Net Neutrality, since they own YouTube, one of the biggest bandwidth users on the internet. Erik Telford, AFP's social media director, refers to Google as the Haliburton of the Obama administration. Not surprisingly, the Obama administration has bought a huge buy of google search results for "Obamacare" and directed them to the Health and Human Services website. Wonder how much taxpayers' money that used?
John Fund wrote an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal exposing the left wing interests who are really behind Net Neutrality. The FCC heavily relied upon the reports of several left wing interest groups in order to justify their push for Net Neutrality, mostly ignoring analysis from standard, reputable think tanks. The reality is, there isn't a problem. People aren't reporting massive complaints with their internet cable companies.
The truth is that increased regulation will increase costs and deter investment. The FCC relies on a propaganda report from Free Press which says it won't - but that report has been refuted by Ph.D Economists.
The FCC has issued an order justifying Net Neutrality rules. The FCC is overstretching their authority by delving into this area. Disturbingly, they have waived the fee for complaints.
Jon Henke expressed concern to the group of techie right-leaning bloggers present that there are no tech leaders on the right fighting this. The left has plenty of experts, but there is no real tech advocacy group on the right. We need more tech advocacy organizations on the right in order to combat this.
Jim Harper from the CATO Institute discussed proposed "Do Not Track" legislation, which is sort of an internet version of "Do Not Call" telephone legislation. It sounds like a good idea, but the legislation is designed to protect us from the corporate sector, while government is allowed to run roughshod over our privacy. Unfortunately, some Congressmen who are strong privacy advocates are joining forces with pro-regulatory Congressmen on this, thinking this is the way to protect privacy.
Harper said the European Union is looking into updating its Data Protection Directive of 1995. The proposed changes would require websites to delete their past history of interaction with visitors or customers if requested. This would be very costly and hurt business. And it's not about privacy; Europe is not into protecting privacy, it's goal is to hurt the U.S. and multinational corporations.
An FCC source admitted that the FCC creating rules for mergers that have nothing to do with mergers. Their goal is to create policy through regulation. This is disturbing - policy at this important level should be created by Congress.
Regarding the left wing organizations promoting Net Neutrality, Seton Motley pointed out that the abbreviation of Public Interest Groups is P.I.G. He expressed surprise that Brent Bozell, a leading conservative on the right, is supporting Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality is an assault on the industry to effect an ideological outcome.
Seton said there are two key components of Net Neutrality: Paid Prioritization and Non-Discrimination. The left opposes the former and supports the latter. His video explaining what's wrong with Net Neutrality is here. It's not that we're not for any government action, we just prefer Congress to the FCC regulating here.
Wireless expert Carolyn Brandon said that Free Press wants the FCC to investigate MetroPCS simply because they want to offer unlimited broadband for $40/mth! About as ridiculous, AARP complained recently that there are TOO MANY choices in the wireless industry. There is no physical spectrum shortage in wireless, the spectrum is unlimited. It's the government that is artificially limiting wireless carriers' space. It's a regulatory-driven shortage. That is what needs to be fixed.
For more updates from the symposium today, check out the Twitter hashtag #novspeaks
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Today was also a big day for Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven who were elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The pair will be inducted along with longtime baseball executive Pat Gillick (who was picked by the Veterans Committee) as well as sportswriter Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News and Florida Marlins radio broadcaster Dave Van Horne who will be bestowed with J.G Taylor Spink Award and the Ford C. Frick Award, respectively. (Of course, I remember Van Horne when he did the TV play-by-play for the Montreal Expos on the English language CBC). After both falling short a year ago, Alomar received 90% of the vote from the BBWAA while Blyleven managed to sneak over the 75% threshold with 79.7% of ballots cast. The ceremony wil take place in Cooperstown, New York on July 24, 2011.
Alomar spent 17 seasons in the big leagues with the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox (twice) and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He amassed 2,724 hits, a .300 lifetime batting average, ten Gold Gloves for his defense at second base and back to back World Series rings with the Blue Jays in '92 and '93.
It is widely believed the BBWAA did not elect Alomar last year because of an incident that took place in 1996 in which he spit in the face of umpire John Hirshbeck over a called third strike (I saw this game on TV). Alomar later said Hirshbeck was bitter over the death of his young son who was afflicted with Siemerling-Creutzfeldt Disease. However, Alomar and Hirshbeck would bury the hatchet and join forces to raise money to combat Siemerling-Creutzfeldt. Hirshbeck later publicly called for Alomar to be elected to the Hall.
As for Blyleven, time was running out on his candidacy having been rejected by the BBWAA thirteen years in a row. Blyleven won 287 big league games but lost 250. But he generally pitched for mediocre teams and lost a lot of 1-0 games. Let's also say that his personality is very off color (language warning) and that has probably turned off some Hall voters over the years.
Yet Blyleven's possessed arguably the best curveball ever thrown by a pitcher in big league history. His 3,701 strikeouts are good enough for fifth on the all-time list. Had Blyleven pitched with teams like the Oakland A's, Cincinnati Reds or Baltimore Orioles early in his career he probably would have exceeded 300 wins. Instead he pitched for teams like Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians and California Angels. Nevertheless, he did collect two World Series rings from the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1987 Minnesota Twins.
As for some of the players who were on the ballot whom I deemed worthy of cgreater onsideration for Cooperstown, relief pitcher extraordinaire Lee Smith's vote dropped 2% and although Alan Trammell's got a 2% increase he still got less than 25% of the overall vote. It's tougher to get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame than it is to get elected to Congress.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
The assassination of Taseer throws Pakistan's already troubled political situation into even more chaos. Taseer's assassination comes scarcely 48 hours after the liberal, secularist MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) withdrew from the coalition government led by the Pakistan's People Party (PPP).
Taseer was part of the PPP and an ally of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto. It is worth noting the third anniversary of Bhutto's assassination took place a week ago.
The PPP is trying to form an alliance with the main opposition party led by former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. For his part, Sharif has given Pakistan's current Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani 72 hours to comply with his demands. He has also threatened to withdraw his support for the PPP government formerly led by Taseer.
Now some could argue that this is a typical week in Pakistani politics. The only problem is that what happens in Pakistan has a direct bearing on the War in Afghanistan as well as on the broader War on Terror (regardless of whether the Obama Administration chooses not to use the term). Let's also not forget they have nuclear weapons. As we all know, nukes and a jihadist ideology mixed together does not bode well.
Monday, January 3, 2011
As of this writing, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack although it is being speculated that al Qaeda either had it a hand in the attack or was the source of its inspiration.
It is not the first time that Egypt's Christian community has been violently assailed. During Orthodox Christmas last year, seven Copts were killed and 26 were injured in a drive by shooting perpetuated by Muslims in the village of Nagaa Hamadi, approximately 250 miles south of Cairo. To make matters worse, several thousands Muslims burned and looted Coptic homes, businesses and churches during funeral services for the seven parishioners. Yet Egyptian authorities were utterly indifferent in their response which goes a long way in explaining the level of Coptic anger at this latest attack.
With Orthodox Christmas coming up later this week (January 6th), one must wonder if there will be more violence in store for Egypt's beleaguered Coptic Christian community.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Saturday, January 1, 2011
The show will also be available a few days later at AlexanderAndGoldmanShow.com. We (mostly) concluded the biggest Arizona story of 2010 was SB1070 - the feds suing Arizona; the biggest national story was Obamacare; and the biggest international story was Climategate emails - although the mainstream biased media didn't give it much coverage, treating Wikileaks as if it was a bigger story....