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Monthly Archives: July 2005

Whoa

July 7th, 2005 - 2:17 pm

Buddy Brian Dubravac emailed this pair of pictures, the first one from London after the attack. The second I assume you’ve seen before.

Eerie.

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Careful What You Wish For

July 7th, 2005 - 2:09 pm

Joe Goat emails:

REPORT: One UK Homicide Bomber Was Recent GITMO Release

7 July 2005; 12:54 ET: Preliminary reports from a source inside the Pentagon indicate that one of the operatives involved in this morning’s bombings in London was recently released from the prison at Guantanamo.

The link is here, but it’s not a permalink. Scroll down to the second (for now) story.

If true, then the Pentagon has made a terrible mistake. And even if it isn’t true, I hope those anti-Gitmo yammerheads will finally take a hint.

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Required Viewing?

July 7th, 2005 - 12:36 pm

Frontline will rebroadcast its “Al Qaeda’s New Front” program from a while back. You can set your TiVo for PBS tonight, or watch it here on the web.

I didn’t catch it the first time around, so I can’t say if the show is good, bad, or neither.

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Terror

July 7th, 2005 - 12:16 pm

A first-hand account from London:

A GP who helped treat casualties following today’s bus explosion outside the London headquarters of the British Medical Association has described the scene.

Dr Laurence Buckman, from the BMA’s GPs committee, said the front of BMA House in Tavistock Square was splattered with blood and body parts were strewn across the road.

The building was turned into a mini hospital while casualties were moved away from the road and were waiting to be taken to hospital.

Reminds me of one of the worst moments on 9/11.

Not sure if I was watching CNN, FNC, or MSNBC, but they were reporting from a triage station set up on the street in front of a Manhattan hospital. From the looks of it, they were ready for the worst. Or at least as ready as could be expected on a day like that. The doctors and nurses and police had taken over much of the street, figuring there simply wouldn’t be room inside for all the casualties.

They had beds, they had supplies, they had equipment. They were ready, the pretty blonde doctor told the camera.

Later, CNN/FNC/MSNBC cut back to the pretty doctor. “They haven’t brought anyone to us,” she said. “They haven’t brought anyone in.”

There was no one to treat. There were hardly any injured. Most everyone seriously hurt was in fact seriously dead. All that preparation, all that smart thinking – for nothing.

The attacks in London today weren’t on the same scale as 9/11. So here’s to hoping Dr Buckman’s efforts aren’t in vain.

UPDATE: Kim Hill was there that day.

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Roll the Videotape

July 7th, 2005 - 11:42 am

Trey Jackson has video of responses to today’s London bombings.

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Live8 – Number One with a Bullet

July 7th, 2005 - 11:18 am

Max Boot:

Africans continue to be tormented not by the G-8, as anti-poverty campaigners imply, but by their own politicos, including Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, who is abetting genocide in Darfur, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who is turning his once-prosperous country into a famine-plagued basket case. Unless it’s linked to specific “good governance” benchmarks (as with the new U.S. Millennium Challenge Account), more aid risks subsidizing dysfunctional regimes.

Any real solution to Africa’s problems must focus on the root causes of poverty

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Shocked, Shocked

July 7th, 2005 - 11:15 am

Well, duh:

July 7 (Bloomberg) — A group calling itself the al-Qaeda Organization in Europe claimed responsibility for bombings that killed at least two people and injured hundreds in London today.

“The time has come for the revenge from crusading Zionist nation of Britain,” the group said in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site. The statement couldn’t be authenticated.

Does it really need to be?

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Terror

July 7th, 2005 - 9:56 am

Something tells me the Brits are made of sterner stuff than the Spanish.

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London Recalling

July 7th, 2005 - 9:24 am

unionjack.jpg

Fourteen years ago in London, terrorists tried to kill me.

There was nothing personal about it, mind you; they were literally trying to kill anybody at the time. It was February of 1991, during the thick of the Gulf War, and I was a visiting student at Oxford. On the morning of the 15th, I had planned to catch the early train to Victoria Station for a London day trip, but thanks to spending the previous evening out on the town (I have a vague memory of doing shots with a couple of Californians at an after-hours nightclub), I was slow getting out of bed and missed the train.

That hangover might have saved my life. During the thick of that morning’s rush hour, a bomb went off in a Victoria Station garbage can, killing one man and injuring 40 others. Because of the world situation, everybody’s immediate first thought was, “Arab terrorists,” but the bomb turned out to have been planted by the IRA, which had tried to murder Prime Minister John Major and his cabinet in a mortar attack on Downing Street just eleven days earlier.

The Victoria Station bombing had an unexpected effect on me and the other students, and that counts for both the Brits and the Americans. After the Downing Street attack, there was a lot of nervousness and quiet talk about keeping a low profile and avoiding possible terrorist target locations.

After Victoria, though, everything changed. The shift was remarkable and consistent from the most bleeding-heart New York Chomskyites (one of my roommates) to the most reactionary Southern right-wingers (er, me): everybody got mad. To an individual, the reaction was, “I’ll be damned if I let these barbarians make me change my plans, or my mind, or my life.”

I fully expect to see the same reaction out of Britain after today (it’s already started, in fact; check out the fire-breathing denunciation from London Mayor “Red Ken” Livingstone), and woe betide the Islamofascists who’ve been hiding in plain sight in their midst until now.

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Late Night Rambling

July 7th, 2005 - 12:02 am

What’s a well-meaning libertarian supposed to think about Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement and replacement?

First off, friends of small government aren’t exactly losing an ally in Sandy D. A story from this week’s Time explains why:

O’Connor’s aversion to drawing bright lines in Supreme Court decisions made her vulnerable to the argument that she forced constant changes in the law and guaranteed that nothing would ever be settled. “You had to go back to the court every time you wanted to change public policy,” says John Yoo, a former Deputy Attorney General under the current President Bush and now a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Instead of setting out broad principles that determined cases once and for all–and thus allowing Congress and state legislatures to move on–the incremental approach adopted by O’Connor forced litigants and legislative bodies to constantly go back to the court for their next set of orders. Yoo argues that made the high court a de facto chief administrator. “It sucked [decisions] away from the political process,” he says. “And that has the effect of concentrating power in the Supreme Court.”

In all fairness, maybe O’Connor’s nitpicking ways were (are?) necessary in an age when Congress and State Assemblies are unwilling to tackle polarizing issues like abortion, Federalism, etc. Then again, maybe she just liked playing boss.

O’Connor’s habitual hairsplitting is reflected in the Court’s recent decisions on Ten Commandments displays. It’s OK in this one small way; it’s not OK in some other. (Frankly, I don’t care, except to the extent that such judicial micromanagement is bad for the Republic. My advice to my fellow atheists is this: “Buck up, friend. We’re in the minority and always will be. If your skin is so thin as to be offended by a little tablet written by somebody else’s imaginary buddy, then you aren’t tough enough to be an atheist. Obviously, you’re in need of something bigger than you to rely on, but aren’t willing to join the mainstream. So go worship Pan or Wicca or some other marginal God/Goddess/Whatever.”)

Anyway – we were talking about the Supreme Court, so I’ll save my rants about my atheist, would-be comrades for another day.

I haven’t done all my reading on Bush’s likely nominees, but what little I’ve gleaned isn’t promising. Alberto Gonzales – apparently the mostly likely nominee – looks good at first, especially to a pro-choice/small-government advocate like myself. Then again, he’s no fan of the Second Amendment, as Bill Quick noted on Wednesday. Bush’s other potential nominees follow the same pattern: Good (but not great) on some issues, and terrible on others.

The good news is, the Supreme Court isn’t the end-all be-all of every issue ever.

Gun control? In my mind, it’s nearly a dead issue. Yes, states and localities might still pass stupid laws, and the Supremes might very well uphold them. But there’s a big difference between gun registration and gun confiscation. Americans have submitted to the former, but the latter quite simply won’t ever happen. There are too many gun owners with too many guns – and too many of us are very good shots.

Abortion? While I’m nearly as pro-choice as they come, I still think this is a state issue. Even though first-trimester abortions are legal everywhere, you still can’t get one just anywhere. And yet women who need or want one still get the nasty business done. If the Supremes were to knock down Roe v Wade, Utah might outlaw abortion, but California wouldn’t. Honestly, I’d give money to Planned Parenthood to provide transportation to Utah women to travel to California. We have 50 laboratories for democracy – let’s use them. And let’s not rely on the whims of the ever-changing Supreme Court to decide such a vital issue.

States’ rights? The Supreme Court has let us down here time and time again. Frankly, so have the States. In Olden Times, if you paid the Danegeld you’d never be rid of the Dane. In Modern Times, if you take then Danegeld, you’ll never be rid of the Dane. A few brave states have, now and then, on one issue or two, talked about states’ rights. The rest of the time they’ve taken Washington’s money and (sometimes, quietly) bitched about the strings. When the states get serious on this issue, then so will I.

So what’s the small-government enthusiast to realistically hope for? Someone better than O’Connor and not as bad as David Souter.

Question is: Does my small hope make me an optimist or a pessimist?

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Required Reading

July 6th, 2005 - 5:47 pm

Great Der Spiegel interview here with Kenyan economist James Shikwati. A sample:

SPIEGEL: Mr. Shikwati, the G8 summit at Gleneagles is about to beef up the development aid for Africa…

Shikwati: … for God’s sake, please just stop.

SPIEGEL: Stop? The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

Read the whole thing (and send a copy to Bono and Saint Bob). The interviewer’s disbelief at hearing such heterodoxy is almost as enjoyable as Shikwati’s bracing good sense.

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Masters Of Somebody Else’s Domain

July 6th, 2005 - 2:37 pm

After reading the comments in my earlier post about the confluence between a recent property seizure in Oakland and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s wild defense of eminent domain in the Kelo decision, I did a bit more digging into the lead developer on the Oakland project, Forest City Enterprises, Inc.

Forest City is a publicly-traded development and real estate conglomerate involves a huge tract of Brooklyn in New York City. The Ratners are proposing to turn it into a condo-shopping-basketball-arena complex; Bruce Ratner of Forest Park is the owner of the New Jersey Nets. The Ratners are lobbying the city and state of New York to exercise eminent domain powers to seize properties in Brooklyn for this project.

(Incidentally, Bruce Ratner’s brother Michael runs the far-left humanrightsnow.org website, and is president of the George Soros-funded “Center for Constitutional Rights,” and is one of the major legal players trying to free the terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Quite a family there.)

In addition to the Uptown Project in Oakland, Forest City is a prime contractor in a gigantic shopping mall project in San Francisco which involves eminent domain seizures of private property. The company is also partnered with the New York Times to build the Times’ new headquarters in Manhattan–on a site that was seized especially for the Times by New York City. Small surprise then that the Times is (thus far) second only to Nancy Pelosi in cheerleading for the Kelo decision.

Speaking of Pelosi, as the Democrats’ leader in the House, San Fran Nan has been the beneficiary of a great deal of campaign largesse from the Ratners. “>large amounts given to the DCCC (18 donations of $1000 per donor, vs. Washington Post by now?

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The “Little People” Have Big Ears

July 6th, 2005 - 9:44 am

Last month, Dickie Durbin expressed surprise that his Nazi-Soviets-Pol-Pot slander got noticed in the press. It hasn’t been very long since his surprise would have been understandable–an awful lot of stories involving left-leaning politicians didn’t get reported in the MSM.

As Dickie found to his dismay, the internet has changed all that. Thanks to Drudge, Chuck Schumer is getting a similar lesson today.

You don’t just have to worry about your pals in the press any more, boys. The “little people” are listening, too. And we don’t need to ask the permission of any ideology-addled editors before we report on what we’ve heard.

UPDATE: Just for the record, I’m neither shocked nor particularly offended by Schumer’s “statement”; it’s about what I figured his position would be… but I’m also reasonably sure that he didn’t want it publicized. Ten years ago, it wouldn’t have been.

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Holding Fourth

July 4th, 2005 - 1:52 pm

The wife ran the Peachtree Road Race this morning, for the umpteenth time. I watched. Later tonight, grilled pork tenderloin with the secret family basting sauce (okay, okay, it’s mostly white vinegar).

Today’s Bleat is particularly lovely, made better by the inclusion of the bane of bottle-rocket warriors everywhere, the dreaded Whistling Moon Travellers. That little pause between the shriek and explosion always freaked me out (unless I was the one doing the shooting, of course).

Read Smash. And this.

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A Note To MTV

July 3rd, 2005 - 11:00 am

Dear MTV,

After seeing your “coverage” of yesterday’s Live 8 concert, I have come to the conclusion that your network sucks like a turbocharged Electrolux.

This was not exactly a revelation, mind you; the “M” in “MTV” hasn’t stood for “music” since, oh, I’d guess about the time of the original Live Aid broadcast in 1985. Which, of course, was a million times better than the pathetic, drivel-soaked and endlessly-interrupted-with-empty-”host”-blather excuse for coverage this year. Oh, and the picture quality was miserable as well. I’ve seen less pixelization in cheap Malaysian VCDs.

What kind of moron breaks away from the first full Pink Floyd performance in 25 years to have some twit talk about t-shirts he saw on a train? Are you people just stupid, or tasteless, or some sick combination of the two?

Never mind answering–I can guess. With the exception of an occasional episode of Ozzy Osbourne’s show a couple of years back, I haven’t actually watched MTV in over a decade, and yesterday I remembered why.

It’s because you suck.

NOTE: Giving credit where it’s due, XM Radio’s coverage was outstanding.

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San Fran Nan’s Paper Trail

July 2nd, 2005 - 4:44 pm

Remember when I speculated on “the prospects of developers making campaign donations–or outright kickbacks–to local politicians” in return for using eminent domain to seize properties? And remember Nancy Pelosi’s shrill defense of the Kelo decision?

Well, now. Check this out:

The city of Oakland, using eminent domain, seized Revelli Tire and the adjacent property, owner-operated Autohouse, on 20th Street between Telegraph and San Pablo avenues on Friday and evicted the longtime property owners, who have refused to sell to clear the way for a large housing development.

The properties in question were seized to make room for the “Uptown Project,” which is intended to replace under performing properties (at least in tax collection terms) with pricey condos.

I did a little Googling and found out that the prime contractor for the Uptown Project is Forest City Residential West, Inc. Forest City Residential West’s co-chairmain of the board is Albert B. Ratner.

Ratner donated $1,000 to Nancy Pelosi in the 2004 election cycle. He and various other people named Ratner and identified as working for Forest City also gave thousands more to the the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee over the last few elections (in addition to Republicans like Mike DeWine and Rick Santorum, but as far as I can tell, neither has stood up to compare Kelo to holy writ).

Everybody knows politicians can be bought. Who knew they came so cheap?

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Moral Relativism At NBC News

July 1st, 2005 - 8:19 am

I have a friend whose father was one of the Iran embassy hostages in 1979-81. I can’t even imagine what his reaction will be when he sees this bit on Brian Williams’ MSNBC blog:

Many Americans woke up to a curious story this morning: several of the former Iran Hostages have decided there is a strong resemblance between Iran’s new president and one of their captors more than 25 years ago. The White House and most official branches of government are ducking any substantive comment on this story, and photo analysis is going on at this and other news organizations. It is a story that will be at or near the top of our broadcast and certainly made for a robust debate in our afternoon editorial meeting, when several of us raised the point (I’ll leave it to others to decide germaneness) that several U.S. presidents were at minimum revolutionaries, and probably were considered terrorists of their time by the Crown in England.

Williams repeated the comparison on NBC Nightly News yesterday (I just heard the clip on Laura Ingraham’s radio show). He didn’t include the little caveat about “leave others to decide germaneness” on the air.

The last time I checked, the Founders didn’t seize hostages, or parade them before the press, or hold show trials with bound and gagged blindfolded diplomats as “defendants,” much less institute a brutal police state after winning their Revolution.

And the network news yahoos still wonder why their ratings are in free-fall.

UPDATE: Williams has posted a rather pompous non-apology apology.

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The New Stupid Party?

July 1st, 2005 - 7:04 am

Remember when Glenn was musing over which party would benefit from the Kelo decision? Wonder no more:

The House voted yesterday to use the spending power of Congress to undermine a Supreme Court ruling allowing local governments to force the sale of private property for economic development purposes. Key members of the House and Senate vowed to take even broader steps soon.

Last week’s 5 to 4 decision has drawn a swift and visceral backlash from an unusual coalition of conservatives concerned about property rights and liberals worried about the effect on poor people, whose property is often vulnerable to condemnation because it does not generate a lot of revenue.

The House measure, which passed 231 to 189, would deny federal funds to any city or state project that used eminent domain to force people to sell their property to make way for a profit-making project such as a hotel or mall. Historically, eminent domain has been used mainly for public purposes such as highways or airports.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) introduced a similar measure and immediately drew a Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), as well as Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who is number three in his party’s leadership. The House bill is sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.). Its Democratic co-sponsors include Reps. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), Maxine Waters (Calif.) and Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.).

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the measure. “When you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court, you are in fact nullifying a decision of the Supreme Court,” she told reporters. “This is in violation of the respect of separation of powers in our Constitution.”

Real dumb, Nancy. Not only are you completely ignorant on the constitution, you’re putting yourself on the side of developers and tax collectors and in opposition to homeowners.

By the way, Nan–nearly 70% of Americans are homeowners. Keep it up!

UPDATE: Check out this interview with Pelosi:

Q Could you talk about this decision? What you think of it?

Ms. Pelosi. It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It’s an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.

Q Do you think it is appropriate for municipalities to be able to use eminent domain to take land for economic development?

Ms. Pelosi. The Supreme Court has decided, knowing the particulars of this case, that that was appropriate, and so I would support that.

That’s a prime candidate for inclusion in the Stupid Politician Utterance Hall of Fame. Check out the rest of the interview, it’s clear that Pelosi had no idea what the House resolution which passed yesterday was actually about.

Back when Dick Gephardt retired, one of the knocks on Pelosi moving up to the minority leadership was that she was just a socialite fundraiser who didn’t have a grasp of either policy or communications. Looks like that read was dead-on.

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