Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailout Plan and Partisan Politics

From economist Thomas Sowell:

Bailout Politics
Nothing could more painfully demonstrate what is wrong with Congress than the current financial crisis.

Among the Congressional "leaders" invited to the White House to devise a bailout "solution" are the very people who have for years created the risks that have now come home to roost.

[...]

The roots of this problem go back many years, but since the crisis to which all this led happened on George W. Bush's watch, that is enough for those who think in terms of talking points, without wanting to be confused by the facts.

In reality, President Bush tried unsuccessfully, years ago, to get Congress to create some regulatory agency to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. [...]

Indeed. Many Republican's did. The proceedings were videotaped, it's a fact of public record, no matter how much Nancy Pelosi and others insist on lying about it.

Sowell connects the dots, but also knows that some sort of plan will have to be implemented to prevent worse consequences. But it's clear that many DID see this crisis coming:

[...] Alan Greenspan, then head of the Federal Reserve System, made the same point in testifying before Congress in February 2004. He said: "The Federal Reserve is concerned" that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were using this implicit reliance on a government bailout in a crisis to take more risks, in order to "multiply the profitability of subsidized debt."

Chairman Greenspan added his voice to those urging Congress to create a "regulator with authority on a par with that of banking regulators" to reduce the riskiness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a riskiness ultimately borne by the taxpayers.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not deserve to be bailed out, but neither do workers, families and businesses deserve to be put through the economic wringer by a collapse of credit markets, such as occurred during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Neither do the voters deserve to be deceived on the eve of an election by the notion that this is a failure of free markets that should be replaced by political micro-managing.

If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were free market institutions they could not have gotten away with their risky financial practices because no one would have bought their securities without the implicit assumption that the politicians would bail them out.

It would be better if no such government-supported enterprises had been created in the first place and mortgages were in fact left to the free market. This bailout creates the expectation of future bailouts.

Phasing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would make much more sense than letting politicians play politics with them again, with the risk and expense being again loaded onto the taxpayers.

(bold emphasis mine) As usual Sowell gets to the point without wasting words, I recommend reading the whole thing.

This crisis was created and perpetuated by Democrats. While some sort of plan or loan to prevent the worsening of the crisis may be necessary, it's vital that we see and understand WHY it happened, who was responsible for allowing it, and prevent it from happening again.


Related Links:

"Bankruptcy, not bailout, is the right answer"

'Congress Lives Up To Its 10% Approval Rating'

Our Democrat-Created Crisis: They blocked a Reform bill co-sponsored by John McCain
     

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Democrats Defend Fannie/Freddie from Regulation - 2004 Video



The video is about 8 minutes and 37 seconds. It clearly shows how the Democrats blocked efforts by Republicans to regulate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, despite evidence of crooked bookkeeping and warnings of the impending financial crisis we are facing today. Note Frank Raines, Obama's campaign finance director, in the thick of it.

Nancy Pelosi is lying when she says the Democrats have no responsibility for the current financial crisis. They actually caused it to happen by preventing the Republicans from stopping it. As the video demonstrates, it's a matter of public record. For anyone who is paying attention.
     

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Broadband is Back! Hooray!

The Wildblue technician came out to the farm yesterday. It turned out the problem was simply algae. It had grown so thickly over the plastic cover of the eye of the satellite dish that it finally blocked the signal. We had a bit of rain just before we lost the signal, I suspect that caused a growth spurt that was the last straw.

I had tried to wipe it off prior to the service call, but it didn't come off, and I didn't want to scrub it hard. I asked the repairman if I should have, and he said it was not a good idea to apply too much pressure, because it could crack the plastic, which is soft and bendable.

He replaced the eye instead of cleaning it, and suggested that I climb a ladder up there every couple of months, and gently wipe the eye clean with a wet, soft cloth, before the algae has a chance to build up. So that's what I'm going to do.
     

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Our internet "Crisis": To be or not to be (on-line)

Our Wildblue Satellite broadband internet service has gone on the fritz. For the past few days, we've had to use dial-up, but even that hasn't been working reliably. We are supposed to get 10 hours a month of free dial up service from Wildblue, but it only works sporadically. I spent a long time on the phone with customer support, but they could not help. They said there was nothing wrong on their end, with the satellite or the dial-up.

We have a repairman scheduled to come out on Monday for the satellite problem, so hopefully we get the broadband access back then. I crawled under the house to see if rats had chewed through a cable or something. Every thing looked fine, so I would guess it's a problem with the modem or the dish.

As for the dial-up problem, I decided to sign up again with our former dial-up ISP service, ISP.COM, to see if we have the same problem as with Wildblue's dial-up. Happily, we don't. ISP.com seems reliably consistent, so the dial-up problem with the Wildblue service must be something on their end.

Not having internet access for the past couple of days has been a real eye opener.

I remember in the early days of the internet, I used it quite a lot. But sometimes I got sick of it, and I would just take a break from it for one, two or three days. It was no big deal, I had plenty of other stuff to do; my life didn't revolve around the computer.

Nowadays, it's not so easy to just stop using the internet. I have gotten tired of it, but whenever I have resolved to not use it for a few days, it seems impossible. I've come to depend on it for so many things. For example:

The weather. Living on a farm, I really need to know what the weather is going to be like, so I can plan my work day. My choice is to wait for a generalized weather broadcast that will probably be inaccurate anyway, or go on-line and look at the satellite maps myself, and see what's coming. I can also get a personalized weather forecast for our exact location, from our local TV station's website.

On-line banking. Bills are due, it's too late to use snail mail. Gotta go on-line and do it!

Major purchases. Our 15 year old washing machine broke down this week. Time to buy a new one. First thing I would do nowadays it go on line and find the new one I want. The place we want to buy it from is 40 miles away. Why not call them up, buy it over the phone? They deliver. It's easy to do when you know what you want already, and the internet makes that easier.

News. I've come to realize, that I get most of my news and information on-line, from trusted sources. I never sit down and watch network news anymore. Sometimes I have it on the TV while I wash dishes or feed the dogs, and I half listen to it, just to stay in touch with the current crap the MSM is pushing. But I don't rely on it, because it is such crap.

The past few days, I've had to rely on it. It's been a very disheartening experience. I'd forgotten what it's like, to depend so much on the MSM for information. I fear it's what the majority of Americans do, and it explains a lot about why things are the way they are. It seems that most people are not well informed, and feed on the junk-food sound-bites of the MSM.

For instance, I keep hearing about how John McCain picked Sarah Palin, a "totally unknown person that nobody ever hear of", according to the MSM. Well I heard of her last year, quite a bit too, as her name was being bandied about as a possible veep pick. That's because I read about things on-line that pertain to the GOP, because it interests me.

But the MSM doesn't share my interests. When they talk about the GOP, it's usually about some "scandal", real or imagined. It's not hard to see why someone who relies on the MSM for their news would agree with the MSM's assessment that "nobody ever heard of Sara Palin".

I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets their news and information from the internet. But I think I've assumed that a lot of other people do too, when in fact, they don't. Chances are that the people who watch garbage TV also look at garbage internet when they are on-line.

And amongst those who do get their news and information on-line, many (if not most?) are left leaning, and get their "talking points" and such from their preferred sources.

The MSM also has their on-line presence, so they still dominate the public discourse and choose the topics. At least on-line you can pick and choose somewhat, even amongst their offerings. But with radio and TV, you get what you get. It's awful to think that that is what the majority of Americans do, but it probably is. I guess I should be thankful that we still have choices. Before the internet, I used to rely on magazine subscriptions for news I was interested in. The internet is easier. May it continue.

Then there is blogging too. I didn't used to blog, but now I do, and it becomes addictive. I can take a break from blogging, buy even when I do, it's tempting to just look in and check on comments, and the site meter, etc. It's wonderful to be able to express you opinions on an open medium like the internet, and connect with like minded people, and share information and learn things. Chas' Compilation is primarily about sharing whatever it is I'm reading and learning about. When others chime in with their own two cents about what they know on a topic, it's often interesting and fun.

All things considered, taking a complete break from the internet isn't nearly as easy as it used to be. I've come to depend on it to quickly find the information that I want. It's been like having the computer from Star Trek at my fingertips; the ultimate encyclopedia. The education that I always wanted from college but could never find.

Even so, the Web Withdrawal of the past few days has had some good effects. I've remembered how much I enjoy books; I have a stack of them I want to read, and I'm promising myself not to neglect them. I've got a few hobbies and subjects that I would like to pursue, that the internet can help me with, but that also involve things off-line that I like to do; I'm resolved to do them.

The internet is a great tool; Google and WikiHow etc, are great helpers, but the internet is no substitute for living. Yet it can enhance it. It's all a question of balance.

I may be blogging less while we are restricted to dial-up. But even after we have broadband back, I may not blog quite so much; I may be more particular about what I blog about. I have rediscovered how much I enjoy being away from the computer, and I think being away from it more also makes me appreciate it more. So there.

We'll see how long this lasts, when the broadband comes back. ;-)


Related Links:

A Different World Indeed...

Childhood, Past and Present

I'm still stuck with 24K dial-up - aargh!

10 Days without windows... The Machine Stops
     

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Does your state have a personality?

The United States of Mind
Researchers Identify Regional Personality Traits Across America

Certain regional stereotypes have long since become cliches: The stressed-out New Yorker. The laid-back Californian.

But the conscientious Floridian? The neurotic Kentuckian?

You bet -- at least, according to new research on the geography of personality. Based on more than 600,000 questionnaires and published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, the study maps regional clusters of personality traits, then overlays state-by-state data on crime, health and economic development in search of correlations.

Even after controlling for variables such as race, income and education levels, a state's dominant personality turns out to be strongly linked to certain outcomes. Amiable states, like Minnesota, tend to be lower in crime. Dutiful states -- an eclectic bunch that includes New Mexico, North Carolina and Utah -- produce a disproportionate share of mathematicians. States that rank high in openness to new ideas are quite creative, as measured by per-capita patent production. But they're also high-crime and a bit aloof. Apparently, Californians don't much like socializing, the research suggests. [...]

Read the rest for more details. The article also has an interactive map of the USA, where you can click on five categories in the left sidebar, which will pull up a map showing how each of the 50 states rates in that category. Placing your mouse cursor on each state will give you a list of all the scores for that state.
     

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Homer Simpson joins Micky Mouse Fatwa?

Cartoon In London Daily 'Al-Quds Al-Arabi' On Saudi Sheikh's Call To Kill Mickey Mouse

A well-known Islamic propagandist issues a fatwa calling to kill Mickey Mouse, and cartoon characters shout, “Thank God, we’ve killed Mickey!” [...]

I don't think Marge would approve.


Related Links:

PIGLET strikes back...

Of Mice and (Muslim Clerical) Men: Kill Micky
     

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Syrah Palin bombs in San Francisco



Palin Syrah: Wine Drinkers Balk at a Chilean Wine With Hints of Alaska
An organic wine from Chile has oenophiles in San Francisco turning up their noses. But there’s nothing wrong with the wine. It’s the name that bothers them:

Palin Syrah.

The wine from a boutique vineyard in Chile was once a strong seller, but now it’s an outcast in the City by the Bay because its name comes way too close to a certain governor from the state of Alaska, says Celine Guillou, co-owner of the Yield Wine Bar.

Palin Syrah — pronounced Pay-LEEN — takes its name from a ball used in a Chilean-style hockey game, and it has been on the bar’s wine list for a while. But sales have plummeted ever since John McCain named Sarah Palin to be his running mate. [...]

I'm not surprised. Sounds like a typical knee-jerk reaction by unthinking San Francisco morons. It's the kind of thing I've come to expect from "the city that knows how". It can be painful and hazardous to be surrounded by unthinking knee-jerks who kick a lot. After 24 years of it, we finally left, without regrets.

Hopefully the good Pay-LEEN will find sane buyers elsewhere. I hope we can get it here. Chilean wines are often excellent.
     

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Financial Crisis: a free-market solution?

Government has a role in "steering" the economy, but when it interferes directly it often causes more problems than it solves. A trillion dollar bailout is wrong in so many ways. So what, if anything, should the government do? Here is some ideas from Edwin Feulner at RealClearPolitics.com:

A Free-Market Fix
[...] Let’s begin by noting that there is a legitimate federal role in extraordinary circumstances. There are things Washington needs to do to keep our economy functioning. For example, it was a smart move for the Federal Reserve to pour $150 billion into the system. The Fed exists, after all, to make sure money keeps moving and credit remains available.

But as lawmakers debate buying up hundreds of billions in assets, they should realize that the government’s aggressive meddling in financial decision-making is what got our economy into this mess in the first place. The long-term answer isn’t more federal control, it’s a return to free-market principles.

One way to do so is to make sure that any bailouts are as limited as possible. If a private firm is so integral to the financial operations of the economy that it requires assistance, so be it. But in that case, the taxpayers’ should be investing as little as possible, and company employees and stockholders should suffer the consequences of their bad investments.

Also, lawmakers should avoid turning the rescue package into a Christmas tree, loaded up with goodies for special interests. One proposal in a Senate bill would require 20 percent of any profitable transaction to be deposited into a special fund that pays for low-income housing. That’s a silly idea that would, in the long run, only serve to make things worse. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) It goes on to demonstrate some "silly ideas" and shenanigans that have gotten us to this point, and allowed this to happen. If the government has a role to play at all, it should be watching out for the interests of taxpayers, not saving corrupt institutions at taxpayers expense.

We keep hearing about the projected costs of a bailout. What about the projected cost of no bailout? How can you make a rational judgement about the answer to the one question without also knowing the answer to the other?

What about a third option; a limited bail-out, that does some damage control, but does not protect the unscrupulous? We have more options than just a choice between a trillion dollar bailout, or nothing.
     

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Our Democrat-Created Crisis: They blocked a Reform bill co-sponsored by John McCain

This financial crisis was preventable, but Democrats lead us into it by blocking a bill passed by the Senate Banking Committee that would have prevented it. From Nealz Nuze:

THE DEMOCRATS AND THE FINANCIAL CRISIS
[...] Out of all of the stories I brought you yesterday, this one was the most requested. An article on Bloomberg.com called How the Democrats Created the Financial Crisis by Kevin Hassett. Here's the set up ... back in 2005, Alan Greenspan warned that Fannie and Freddie were on the path to putting our entire financial system at substantial risk. For the first time, a Fannie and Freddie reform bill was passed by the Senate Banking Committee. The bill was co-sponsored, by the way, by none other than John McCain. The bill would have required Fannie and Freddie to eliminate their investments in "risky assets" and it would have given a regulator the power to say "no way."

Here's the rest of the story from Bloomberg ...
"If that bill had become law, then the world today would be different. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, a blizzard of terrible mortgage paper fluttered out of the Fannie and Freddie clouds, burying many of our oldest and most venerable institutions. Without their checkbooks keeping the market liquid and buying up excess supply, the market would likely have not existed.

But the bill didn't become law, for a simple reason: Democrats opposed it on a party-line vote in the committee, signaling that this would be a partisan issue. Republicans, tied in knots by the tight Democratic opposition, couldn't even get the Senate to vote on the matter."

Now how does Barack Obama fit into this picture?
Do the words Community Reinvestment Act and ACORN come to mind
? How about the fact that Obama worked as a community organizer for ACORN. Yesterday I read you some quotes from leaders of so-called community groups bragging about their harassment tactics on banks aimed at getting them to make more loans to unqualified buyers. I'm sitting here waiting for some reporter to ask Obama is he was ever a part of any effort to force a bank to make loans to marginal homebuyers. I'm going to be waiting a long time ... 'cause it ain't gonna happen. Such a question would be clearly anti-Obama. Maybe even racist!

(bold emphasis mine) Once again, hindsight has proven Mac to be right in his judgments. More proof that we need John McCain as POTUS.
     

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Is there proof the Obama campaign is behind Palin smears?

It seems there is. From Nealz Nuze:

OBAMA CAMPAIGN LINKED TO PALIN SMEARS
Wow. A blog by the name of Jawa Report has done some extensive research and come to a very startling revelation .... Barack Obama's campaign may be responsible for some of the viciously untrue smear videos about Sarah Palin. For details, you need to visit the Jawa Report, but here is a brief synopsis of their findings.

For weeks, we have seen these videos spreading rumors about Sarah Palin – things like Palin was a member of an Anti-American separatist organization. Now, Barack Obama's chief media strategist, David Axelrod, is notorious for stuff like this. He is the master of what they call "astroturfing," which means that he plants campaign messages on the internet and makes them appear as if they were the creation of these left-wing, Daily Kos, MoveOn type websites. In reality they are a front. They may be spread by these types of websites, but in the end, they are the product of the Obama campaign.

The videos have been connected to a professional Public Relations firm called Winner & Associates. Company employees and family members of this Winner and Associates have been connected with the placement of these videos on Youtube, on company time. These employees and family members sent notices to Democrat Underground and Daily Kos, trying to get these videos to be seen and spread.

Other evidence on the site includes the fact that the voice-over artist in the videos has worked extensively with David Axelrod's firm, which has a history of engaging in these types of phony grassroots efforts ... oh and the voice-over artist has actually worked directly with the Barack Obama campaign.

Within one hour of Jawa Report posting the information, the Winner and Associates employees had removed all the videos from Youtube and began to remove any traces of his activities. In time? Apparently not. Convenient.

There's a lot more, folks. It's just some information to keep in mind.

I'm not surprised. Isn't this what they call "Chicago style politics"? Where is the MSM on this? Why is it always bloggers that have to dig up Obama dirt?


Related Links:

Obama Thugs go after NRO Journalist

Barack Obama; the larger, complete picture

When you can't debate, restrict your opponent
     

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Of Mice and (Muslim Clerical) Men: Kill Micky

Sharia Law says: Micky Mouse must die?


Any religion can be taken to absurdity, but Islam seems to have more than it's fair share of absurd clerics.

Islamic scholar: Mickey Mouse must die
On Aug 27 Sheikh Muhammad Al-Munajid told viewers of a religious affairs programme that mice were agents of Satan and that Sharia law called for the extermination of all mice: from the common house mouse (Mus musculus) to cartoon mouse (Mickey Mouse).

A former diplomat attached to the Islamic Affairs Department at the Saudi embassy Washington, al-Munajid appears regularly on Saudi television to discuss religious and ethical topics.

On Aug 10 he denounced the Beijing Olympics as the “bikini Olympics,” saying the immodest dress of women athletes was “satanic” and earlier issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against women’s participation in the Olympics as the games were also “satanic”. [...]




To be fair, I have heard of extremist Christians also complaining of "satanic" Disney cartoon characters. But they don't issue fatwas, and they are a small minority and nobody takes them very seriously. I wish I could say the same about some of these Islamic clerics. Many have "issues" about fun.

[...] According to a translation of the broadcast prepared by the Middle East Media Research Institute, al-Munajid was asked to state the Islamic legal teaching on mice. He responded that mice were called “little corrupters” in Sharia and it was permissible to kill them at all times.

“The mouse is one of Satan's soldiers and is steered by him,” he explained, adding that should a mouse come in contact with food, the food must be disposed of as the mouse is an impure creature.

“According to Islamic law, the mouse is a repulsive, corrupting creature,” al-Munajid said, adding that he was concerned that popular culture had given mice an undeserved positive image.

“How do you think children view mice today – after Tom and Jerry?” he asked.

“Even creatures that are repulsive by nature, by logic, and according to Islamic law have become wonderful and are loved by children. Even mice. Mickey Mouse has become an awesome character, even though according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases.”


Don't get me wrong; I'm all for killing vermin. I live on a farm, and I kill vermin. One doesn't have to be Muslim or even religious to understand that vermin carry diseases and need kill'n. It's just that in a modern, enlightened culture, people generally understand that one can make distinctions between disease carrying vermin, domestic pets, laboratory animals, and cartoon characters. Mice can be each of these, yet each is distinctly different, and not hard to understand. But if you are slavishly devoted to rigidly interpreting a book according to 7th century standards, in a completely literal and narrow context, you are going to cause a lot of problems in the 21st century. Like having to kill everyone and everything that disagrees with your interpretation of your 7th century religion.

The truth can always hold up to scrutiny. The Islamic world could benefit greatly by scrutinizing many of their long-held beliefs. In this regard, I think there are some reasons to be hopeful. The 21st century beckons us all. I think we can all get there in one piece, and live in peace, if we don't become unduly overly-concerned with things like rodents in all their many manifestations. Or women in sports. Or short pants on soccer players.

As for this particular cleric, I have to agree with George Handlery at the Brussels Journal:

Duly Noted: Mickey Mouse Must Die
[...] There must be a shortage of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Animists and Buddhists to kill. When will the Religion of Peace go after Donald D.?
Indeed.



Here is a video of the cleric who feels threatened by Micky Mouse:

Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid: Mickey Mouse Must Die!




Related Links:

Is Islam compatible with a free society?

Hamas Micky Mouse becomes Martyr on TV
(apparently mice are good when they die for Jihad)

Omar Sharif and other Arabs in a changing world

     

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Iran: No neckties, no Barbies, no fun


The above comic is about the Saudi Religious Police, but it seems Iran also has a serious "Barbie" problem. Here's a few articles that came out earlier this year, about the "No Fun" Fashion Police in Iran. It's interesting what the Iranian government chooses to see as serious problems:

Iran's new enemy: Imported ties
Iran's war on neckties: The importation of ties, which "contradict the nature of Iranian culture," must come to an end, a senior Iranian customs official said Thursday.

"We must adopt serious actions in order to put an end to the importation of ties," Iranian Customs Deputy Director Asgar Hamidi was quoted as saying by Iranian news agency Fars. "We must change import laws to that end."

In addition to his customs duties, Hamidi also heads the Iranian program for the "development of culture, modesty, and headdress."

The custom of wearing neckties developed in Iran during the Shah's regime. However, in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution, ties were banned by authorities because they were perceived as a sign of westernization. Since then, senior Iranian officials and government ministry employees have shunned ties.

Notably, volunteers for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard walk the streets with scissors in order to cut ties should they encounter them.

'Modesty patrols' doubled
Meanwhile, Iranian police said this week that it will be doubling "modesty patrols" on the country's streets. The patrols are undertaken by special vehicles carrying women wearing black veils and a police officer who reprimand Iranians caught violating modesty regulations. [...]

It goes on about the war to fight western fashions, which Iranians are increasingly exposed to through the internet and satellite TV. Some "problem". Only if you're a control freak.

And of course, the next article follows logically from the first:

Iran launches war on 'Barbie doll invasion'
Iran's toy market is being inundated by models of Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter and the young must be protected from their harmful cultural effects, the prosecutor general was quoted as saying on Sunday.

"Promoting figures like Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter and the uncontrolled import of CDs of video games and films should alarm all the country's officials," Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi was quoted as saying by the student ISNA news agency.

"We need to find substitutes to ward off this onslaught, which aims at children and young people whose personality is in the process of being formed," he added.

Dori Najafabadi's comments came in a letter to an Iranian vice president, urging measures to protect "Islamic culture and revolutionary values".

While officials regularly lambast Western culture for polluting the minds of the public, Western toys have become a regular and popular feature on the shelves of toy shops in Iran in recent years. [...]

Read more about this "serious" problem, and the proposed solution.

I think the real problem in Iran is letting a government with this mindset have nuclear weapons. If they freak out over neckties and Barbie dolls, and even publicly bludgeon women and also men who make fashion statements, what are they likely to do with a nuclear bomb?

Most of the Iranian people are quite normal I'm sure, but their current control freak government is far from sane. If a real election ever happened in Iran, they would be thrown out. Which is why they don't allow real elections to happen.


Related Links:

Slaves to Fashion or Fascism?

Is it time for regime change in Iran yet?

Women's rights in Iran; the right to be a penguin

Iranian Fashion Police Publicly Bludgeon Women
     

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Friday, September 19, 2008

The roots of the financial crisis

The short answer, from Neal Boortz:
DEMOCRATS NOT TO BLAME? NONSENSE
About Nancy Pelosi. She says the Democrats share absolutely none of the blame for the current financial goings-on. She's wrong. In fact, she's lying because she knows here statement to be untrue. I'm going to unload on this when I get back, but here's your primer:

1. Almost all of the financial problems we see today are based on bad mortgage lending. That would be lending money to people to buy homes who didn't qualify for a loan.

2. The Democrats, under Clinton, strengthened a government-created monster called the "Community Reinvestment Act." This law was then used by "activists" and "community organizers" (like Obama?) to coerce lending institutions to make these bad loans ... millions of them.

3. Now we see what happens when political "wisdom" supplants good loan underwriting. When private financial institutions are virtually forced to make loans to people with a bad credit and job history .. this is what you get. Enjoy it.

The Democrats have offered us a candidate who is very anti-private sector. Obama believes that America is great because of government and those who, like him, deride the profit motive. If Americans are stupid enough to believe his socialist drivel and put him in office .. .then we will get just what we so richly deserve. This week is just a preview.

The Democrat's chickens have come home to roost. The Republicans aren't completely blameless, as they also played their part, insofar as they supported it, enabled it to proceed. Not to mention the reckless spending of the past two Bush terms.

It's worth noting that John McCain warned about this years ago. And just as he was right in pushing for the Surge in troops years earlier, he was also right about this. He is not part of this problem, but he is part of the solution.


UPDATE:Neal Boortz used to be a real estate attorney as well as a radio host, and was closing loans for some of the very institutions that are in trouble today. With that insight Neal goes into more detail about how this crisis came about in his article at Real Clear Politics:

The Rest of the Meltdown Story
[...] OK .. so we all know that a lot of really bad real estate loans were made. The political class would sure love for us to believe that the blame here rests squarely on "greedy" (try to define that word) mortgage brokers and lenders. The truth is that most of the blame rests on political meddling in the credit decisions of these mortgage lenders.

Twenty years ago the buzz-word in the media was "redlining." Newspapers across the country were filled with hard-hitting investigative reports about evil and racist mortgage lenders refusing to make real estate loans to various minorities and to applicants who lived in lower-income neighborhoods. There I was closing these loans in the afternoons, and in the mornings offering a counter-argument on the radio to these absurd "redlining" claims. Frankly, the claims that evil mortgage lenders were systematically denying loans to blacks and other minorities were a lot sexier on the radio than my claims that when credit histories, job stability, loan-to-value ratios and income levels were considered there was no evident racial discrimination.

Political correctness won the day. Washington made it clear to banks and other lending institutions that if they did not do something .. and fast .. to bring more minorities and low-income Americans into the world of home ownership there would be a heavy price to pay. Congress set up processes (Research the Community Redevelopment Act) whereby community activist groups and organizers could effectively stop a bank's efforts to grow if that bank didn't make loans to unqualified borrowers. Enter, stage left, the "subprime" mortgage. These lenders knew that a very high percentage of these loans would turn to garbage - but it was a price that had to be paid if the bank was to expand and grow. We should note that among the community groups browbeating banks into making these bad loans was an outfit called ACORN. There is one certain presidential candidate that did a lot of community organizing for ACORN. I won't mention his name so as to avoid politicizing this column.

These garbage loans to unqualified borrowers were then bundled up and sold. The expectation was that the loans would be eventually paid off when rising home values led some borrowers to access their equity through re-financing and others to sell and move on up the ladder. Oops.

Right now this crisis is being sold to the American public by the left as evidence the failure of the free market and capitalism. Not so. What we're seeing is the inevitable result of political interference in free market economics. Acme bank didn't want to loan money to Joe Homebuyer because Joe had a spotty job history, owed too much money on his credit cards, and wasn't all that good at making payments on time. The politicians told Acme Bank to figure out a way to make that loan, because, after all, Joe is a bona-fide minority-American, or forget about opening that new branch office on the Southside. The loan was made under politicial pressure; the loan, with millions like it, failed - and now we are left to enjoy today's headlines.

So ... why aren't you reading the whole story in the mainstream media? Come on, are you kidding me? [...]

I wish he was kidding.


Related Links:

Mac on Obama and Fannie and Freddie

Guess which monkeys had their grubby little fists in the cookie jar

The economic mess: Mac is right - we need more oversight
     

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is Europe poised to follow Britain's example by legalizing Sharia Law?

Fjordman at the Brussels Journal sees exactly that:

Europe’s Decline – Hurrah! We Capitulate!
This story is extremely serious. The European Union is now about to do what senior officials have already agreed upon years ago in meetings with Muslim nations, as documented by Bat Ye'or in her book about Eurabia: To officially recognize sharia law in European countries: [...]

The writing has been on the wall for some time. Europe's socialist elites and Islamic Sharia Law enforcers both have one thing in common; they have no use or respect for the freedoms and rights of the individual. Thus, they also loath American freedom and power, and want to see it diminished by any means possible.


The Pope just completed a vist to France, Tiberge reports:

France’s Decline – How Christian/Muslim Was/Is France?
The Pope’s visit to France is now over, but already there are some repercussions. Benedict XVI spoke at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris, delivering a discourse unanimously praised for its high intellectual level. However, Dalil Boubakeur, grand mufti of the Paris mosque, is not pleased. The reason? “The Christian roots of Europe” so often evoked by Benedict XVI. “The Muslim culture was sufficiently present in France during the Middle Ages. You cannot exclude the contribution of the Muslim civilization to French society,” Boubakeur told Le Parisien. [...]

Predictable. And so it goes.


Related Links:

Our Culture, What’s Left Of It

An interview with Theodore Dalrymple

Sharia Law now legal in Great Britain?
     

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The Lying King instructs the MSM

It's a foreign language version, with political subtitles added. Amazing how well it works. It's 3 minutes 18 seconds long:



Hat tip to Tammy Bruce: The Lying King's Plan for Palin.
     

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

GM unveils their new electric car, the Chevy Volt


GM debuts the Chevy Volt

DETROIT (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors unveiled the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle on Tuesday, allowing outsiders their first full look at the car GM says will go on sale in 2010.

"The Volt symbolizes GM's commitment to the future," said Rick Wagoner, the company's chairman and CEO.

The Volt will be driven by electricity stored in a large T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack running the length of the car. After charging for several hours, the Volt will be able to run for up to about 40 miles without using gasoline.

GM did not announce pricing for the car, which will have the equivalent of about 150 horsepower and a top speed of 100 mph, the automaker said.

To charge the batteries, drivers will plug a cord into one of the ports just ahead of each of the side mirrors. The cord can then be attached to an ordinary home electrical outlet.

The car will cost "less than purchasing a cup of your favorite coffee" to recharge, and use less electricity annually than a refrigerator. The Volt should cost less than 2 cents per mile to drive on electricity, GM said, compared to 12 cents a mile on gasoline at a price of $3.60 a gallon. [...]

There is a small gas engine as well that kicks in if the batteries run down, but if I understand it correctly, the gas engine doesn't turn the wheels, it generates electricity, so it's a truly electric car, not a hybrid.

To me it looks beautiful, but some people have actually canceled their orders lost their enthusiasm for the car after seeing this, because they expected something more boxy and angular looking. That's kinda dumb, because this new design is meant to make it more aerodynamic, to help you get more distance out of the battery charge. Form AND function, what more do you want?

Read the whole thing for more details, I think it's an exciting new development.
     

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Sharia Law now legal in Great Britain?

Unbelievable. From A. Millar at the Brussels Journal:

From Magna Carta to Sharia Law – Britain’s Decline
[...] It is almost unbelievable that this should occur in a modern, democratic, Western country, and, moreover, under a government that claims to be liberal, and to care about the right of women and homosexuals among others. But, tracing the actions of the pro-Islamic Labour Party, and of modern liberalism more generally, it should have been predictable. Modern liberalism is not a force for human rights and equality (though it still uses these terms where they can be of use in breaking down British tradition); it is a selfish urge for freedom for one’s own self – others be damned. Multiculturalism frees the liberal from the demands of ‘culture.’ Mass immigration frees him from the need to know his history. Invoking the Inquisition of three hundred years ago frees him from having to confront the reality of Islamic fundamentalism. The establishment of sharia law no doubt frees him from holding any position whatsoever.

I have pointed out before, that the Labour government has colluded with extremist Muslims, even employing a Holocaust denier as an advisor on Muslim affairs. Ken Livingstone, the former Left-wing Mayor of London, has also openly embraced Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a man who believes that wives can be beaten into submission, that homosexuals should be executed, and pregnant Israeli women should be murdered. The UK’s Left-wing Respect Coalition Party asserts that opposition to radical Islam is “the new racism,” and this dangerous sentiment is now received wisdom among those closer to the center of the political spectrum. But Islam is neither a race nor ethnicity, but a religion, and one that has Asian, Black, and White followers. A 2006 UK government report entitled ‘Young Muslims and Extremism,’ notes that a significant number of White Britons were being drawn into Islamic terrorism, and we have seen a few example of White Muslim jihadis since then.

The sharia courts operating in Britain, will hear and pass legally binding judgment on cases involving divorce, financial disputes, and even domestic violence. But, it will not end there. According to the Daily Mail, sharia court officials have said, that they hope, “[…] to take over growing numbers of 'smaller' criminal cases in future,” and extremist clerics have already asserted their aims to establish sharia law for everyone in Britain.[...]

The Left has never been interested in the rights of women, gays, or other minorities. They simply foment and exploit discontent wherever they can find it, and use it as a weapon to fight the status quo. They will dump support for the rights of women and gays, the moment it becomes expedient for them to do so.
[...] Conservatives and Christians have criticized the so-called “gay lifestyle,” and liberals have always furiously denounced those conservatives and Christians for saying this. But liberals are those who have remained utterly silent when extremist Muslim clerics have called for the execution of homosexuals or the beating of women. The liberal establishment generally, and the Labour government in particular, has betrayed their professed belief in human rights and equality, and are ushering in extremism and intolerance. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) As if this isn't bad enough, there is a bill pending passage that would give religious minorities additional rights, possibly reinforcing sharia. I recommend reading the whole thing for the details.

Here is a link to a post I did a while back, about the alliance of Western Leftists with Islamic Extremists:

Socialism in Islamic hands: a tool to make the present world order unworkable
Socialism has plenty of dangers inherent to it in it's own right. But what if it were infiltrated and used by a third party, one with no interest in using Socialism as a stepping stone to Communism, but as a stepping stone to an Islamic Sharia-law state? Recent election results in European countries indicate this may be happening on a larger scale than anyone imagined, as Socialist parties there make large gains by running Muslim candidates to gain Islamic votes. [...]

Their plan seems to be working. This is not the first time this tactic has been used. The ayatollah Khomeini was swept to power in Iran on a wave of Leftist power and support. He promised to institute a secular, socialist state. Instead, he instituted a theocratic sharia law state. The Leftist leaders were killed or driven out, and their followers subjugated. There is a lesson in that for the European socialist elites, but they seem blind to it.


Related Links:

The truth about Sharia based societies

Is Islam compatible with a free society?

Islam Fails Muslims by Impeding Democracy and Economic Development

"Honor" killings of Muslim women in Europe

Do we need a "Star Wars" strategy for Islam?

Sharia Law in Minnesota?

     

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Palin and Media Bias: Is the European MSM even worse than our own?

From Soeren Kern at the Brussels Journal:

Forces of Darkness: What Europeans are Saying about Sarah Palin
Europeans have greeted the news of Sarah Palin’s nomination for Vice President of the United States with a predictable mixture of anger, frustration, resentment and resignation. After more than a year of uncritically praising Barack Obama as a supernatural figure destined by fate to solve all of the world’s problems, European elites are suddenly coming to terms with the unwelcome possibility that the junior senator from Illinois might just be another human being after all.

European commentary on Sarah Palin has ranged from ridicule, to ridicule, to more ridicule, to reluctant acknowledgment that Barack Obama may have met his match. In any case, many European elites are sensing that the Democratic presidential candidate, by failing to pick US Senator Hillary Clinton as his running mate, may have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

A common theme running through much of European commentary is that Palin lacks qualifications; it is a critique European elites could, but will not, apply to Obama, presumably because he is a Democrat, and thus ideologically acceptable to Europe’s enlightened class. Many Europeans lament that Palin is (according to Europeans) pushing the US presidential election into a battle of values rather than of policies, as if there is any real substance to Obama.

But if there is one single aspect to Sarah Palin that threatens the smug certitude of Europe’s secular gatekeepers, it is her Christian faith. It therefore comes as no big surprise that Europe’s media elites have directed the bulk of their fury at American evangelical Christian voters. As if European secularism is not also a religion. [...]

The article goes on to give samples from across Europe, of what European Newspapers and magazines are saying about Sarah Palin. Read it, if you dare. It makes Charlie Gibson's interviews with Sarah seem downright friendly in comparison.
     

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ABC Palin/Gibson Interviews heavily edited

We finally watched the 20/20 interview we had recorded. I thought Sarah did pretty good, but the editing was choppy. What was cut out? From Little Green Footballs:

ABC News Hid Important Parts of Palin Interview
It won’t come as a surprise to LGF readers, but Charlie Gibson’s interview with Sarah Palin was heavily edited by ABC News to make Palin appear more hawkish and less knowledgeable. Mark Levin has the complete transcript, and what ABC News tried to pull here is a textbook example of media malfeasance: Gibson Interview.

Also see: ABC News Edited Out Key Parts of Sarah Palin Interview.

The interview was so egregiously biased, even UPI is calling out ABC News for their blatant double standards: ABC’s Gibson grilled Palin hard, but it may backfire. [...]

I have taken issue with the way her quotes were chopped up and taken out of context and thrown back at her as questions. Not good journalism. But for all the unfairness, I think she held up well; at least no one can accuse Gibson of giving her a "softball" interview. She has demonstrated that she can handle the grilling and defend herself.

Perhaps Gibson should try his hardball technique with Obama. This was on Nealz Nuze today:

This is an interesting look at the differences between Charlie Gibson's interview with Sarah Palin compared to his interview with Barack Obama. 

Take a look at the questions
.

Indeed. Palin supporters aren't upset that she is being asked questions. Obviously she MUST be asked questions, and tough and relevant ones, too. What we're bothered by is the mainstream media's political bias and it's resulting inconsistency, double standards, and at times, dishonesty.
     

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Democrats used the A-Bomb too soon

The Left over reacts. From Peggy Noonan for the WSJ:

Miles to Go
[...] After the past 10 days, it is not remarkable that Mr. McCain has caught up with Mr. Obama. It is amazing that Mr. Obama is still roughly even with Mr. McCain.

There is no denying that Mr. Obama is in a bad place, that he must now be considered the underdog, that he's wearing Loser-Glo. The slide started with the Rick Warren interviews in August, just as America was starting to pay attention. Verdict? McCain: normal. Obama: odd.

Then Mrs. Palin, and the catastrophe of the Democratic and media response to her. Books will be written about this, but because it's so recent, and so known, we're almost not absorbing how huge it was, and is. Here was the central liberal mistake: They used the atom bomb just a few days in. They used it so brutally, and yet so ineptly, in a way so oblivious to the true contours of the field, that the radiation blew back over their own lines. They used it without preliminary diplomatic talks, multilateral meetings or Security Council debate. They just went boom. And it boomeranged.

The atom bomb was personal and sexual perfidy, backwoods knuckle-draggin' ma and pa saying, Tell the neighbors the baby's ours. Then the ritual abuse of the 17-year-old girl. Then the rest of it—bad mother, religious weirdo. (On this latter it must be noted that Mrs. Palin never told a church that the Iraq war was God's will; she asked them to pray that it was God's will. It wasn't the sound of Republican hubris, it was the sound of Christian humility: We can't know the mind of God, we can only pray we are in accord with it.)

All of this was unacceptable to normal Americans. They experienced it as the town gossip spreading rumor and slander before the new neighbor even got to put down her bags. It offended the American sense of fairness. And—it still lives!—gallantry.

Most crucially, the snobbery of it, the meanness of it, reminded the entire country, for the first time in a decade, what it is they don't like about the left. Really, America had forgotten. Mr. Obama's friends reminded them. Unforgettably. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) Noonan maintains that Palin was not bullet proof when she walked into this, but thanks to the Democrats own ineptness, they have practically made her immune to criticism by themselves. They have lost their credibility on the issue of Sarah Palin, at least for now.

The Republicans could still screw up, and the Democrats, well... read the whole thing. The race isn't over yet.
     

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Uh-oh. Look what turned up yesterday...


Yesterday afternoon this proud mama shows up with NINE of the little... "darlings" she hatched out secretly somewhere.

There is another mother hen who's been missing too. Is she going to show up with... this is starting to feel like "The Camp of the Saints". Enough already!

Pat has more photos here: Underage naked chicks
     

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Brussels' Mayor bans 9-11 observances

From Paul Belien at the Brussels Journal:

No Flowers for 9/11 Victims, Stones Thrown at Buses
Yesterday evening youths in Kuregem, an immigrant neighbourhood of Brussels, threw stones at buses of the Flemish public transport company De Lijn. No passengers got hurt though the buses, heading for Flanders, the Dutch-speaking area surrounding Brussels, were damaged and windows were shattered. The youths were said to be angry because earlier in the day Flemish politicians had tried to hold a vigil for the victims of the 2001 9/11 attacks in Manhattan.

Yesterday morning about 100 people gathered at the WTC buildings in Brussels to each lay down flowers in remembrance of the 9/11 victims. The participants were members of the Vlaams Belang party, which strives for the independence of Flanders from Belgium and also wants to halt Muslim immigration. After Filip Dewinter, a VB leader, laid down his flowers, the Brussels police intervened and stopped the ceremony.

[...]

Last week Freddy Thielemans, the Socialist Mayor of Brussels, had prohibited the 9/11 demonstration near the Brussels WTC towers. Mr Thielemans banned the demo arguing that the Brussels WTC towers are situated near an immigrant neighbourhood and that it is inappropriate to hold such a demonstration during Ramadan. An appeal against the Mayor’s ban was rejected by the Council of State, Belgium’s highest administrative court. [...]

The Mayor did allow a demonstration of so-called “truth activists” who claim that the American government was behind the 9/11 terror attacks.

"Racism" is the excuse they used to ban the 9-11 remembrance observances. It's also the excuse they are using to silence their political opposition. They are trying to strip VB opposition leader Frank Vanhecke of his position and eligibility to run for office, by charging him with the crime of "racism" for the publication of an article that he did not write, or even see prior to it's publication. The chilling details of this political lynching are shocking; welcome to Europe's new multicultural fascism.

Just remember, these are the people who insist we must elect Obama. Can you guess why?

"World Opinion" about Obama, and 9-11

I would guess they can all agree about "God damn America". An endorsement from such people speaks volumes about the agendas of all concerned.
     

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My battle with Mothra; what it cost me



I posted a while back about How my Battle with "Mothra" put me in the ER. Well, I finally got the bill.

I expected it was going to cost around $200. I was wrong. The actual cost is $391.00. Quite a lot for squirting a little bit of saline solution into my ear to flush it out.

I suppose I shouldn't complain too much; I'm still alive to tell the tale, unlike poor Mothra. Thank goodness for Medical Savings Accounts. The next best thing to Godzilla.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Clip of Palin interview on ABC

Here's a short 3 minute clip from Thursday:



From Tammy Bruce:

Sarah's ABC Interview
And she did just fine. Remember my warning/standard to you: all Sarah needs to do is not completely truck up. She can get some things wrong, or be unclear on issues, whatever, and she'll be just fine. But frankly, other than in the edited-to-make Sarah-look-bad segments ABC has sent out, I think she did a fine job.

[...]

Personally, I would have liked The Messiah to have been subjected to a Charlie Gibson-like Inquisition two weeks after he announced he was running for President. Come to think of it, has anyone yet to ask Barry how many countries he's traveled to (pre-World Tour), or what the Bush Doctrine means, or what relevance Alaska has when it come to Russia?

So, she did just fine and no matter what the campaigns say, it's our assessment as The Deciders that counts [...]

The clip above is about 3 minutes and 17 seconds long. Pat has a clip on his blog that is about 10 minutes long:

Sarah Palin: "Mr Charlie, don't tread on me!"

Both clips are choppy, heavily edited. It would be interesting to see the whole thing, and if it's any better. I didn't see that whole broadcast last night, and I suspect these clips were shortened for the internet.

Tonight is supposed to be more exclusive interviews by Gibson with Palin tonight on "World News" and "20/20," which will broadcast a one-hour special edition at 10 p.m. ET/ 9 p.m. CT.

I hope it won't be a bunch of heavily chopped and edited bits like these. That just makes you wonder what they cut out, especially when they cut Palin off in mid-sentence. We're going to watch or record the next segment tonight, I hope it's better.
     

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23,000 attend McCain/Palin rally in Virginia



Massive crowds, missing MSM; Update: More photos added

The same Obamedia cultists in American newsrooms who didn’t miss an opportunity to tout The One’s ability to draw massive crowds are AWOL when it comes to showing America the massive crowds turning out for McCain-Palin. (Nothing on the front page of the WaPo website; no crowd shots included in the WaPo “Day in Photos” gallery. And, of course, zippo on the front page of the NYT website.) [...]


Visit the link for more photos, facts and commentary, and a link to even more photos of the Fairfax, Virginia rally.
     

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MSM does their best to Kill the Messenger

They can't effectively talk about the message, so they attack the messenger. The smears and lies continue. It seems they just can't help themselves:

ABC News blows it

Washington Post blows it

Whoopi to McCain: Do you want me to be a slave again? (Video added)

I though Gibson would at least try to be fair... what WAS I thinking? Instead he not only quotes Palin out of context, but uses fragments of quotes as well, to twist their meaning. What a disingenuous weasel he turned out to be. Not to mention, a condescending prick.

As for Whoopi, she's like Rosie; they're both hilarious as comedians, as long as you don't have to take them seriously. Like so many Hollywood people, in matters requiring critical thinking, they tend to be more emotional than rational.


Related Links:

Debunking the Lies and Smears about Sarah Palin!

Palin and the Negligent Malevolence of the MSM
     

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Iraq meets 15 out of 18 political benchmarks

Real progress is being seen in Iraq, even as Nancy Pelosi & company do their best to downplay and discount it.

Political Progress Has Accompanied Increased Security in Iraq
[...] When Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker first reported on the results of the surge a year ago this past week, top congressional figures were quick to point out that the Iraqi government had satisfied only three of the 18 benchmarks set up as barometers for progress.

[...]

But the White House is now reporting that 15 of the 18 benchmarks set up to measure the Iraqi government’s effectiveness have been satisfied.

A critical turning point may have been reached in February of this year when the central government passed three pieces of legislation simultaneously: the Provisional Powers Law, the Amnesty Law and a national budget.

While political progress remains uneven, it is not non-existent, according to U.S. State Department reports and recent congressional testimony. The remaining unmet benchmarks concern the disarmament of militias and the distribution of oil revenue.

But the legislative measures that have come to fruition, especially in the past few months, demonstrate that Iraq’s government is in fact taking better advantage of the improved security climate, top administration officials claim. [...]

Read the rest for more details of how things are improving. You won't hear about it in the MSM, they are too busy trying to smear McCain and Palin.
     

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

9-11 Firemen deaths and WTC radio problems


A couple of months ago I bought a police scanner. Since then I've been reading up a lot on police/Fire/EMS communications. It was while researching that topic that I came across this article, which dealt with a question I had always wondered about:

Why police made it out of the World Trade Center when firefighters didn't
NEW YORK — Minutes after the south tower collapsed at the World Trade Center, police helicopters hovered near the remaining tower to check its condition. "About 15 floors down from the top, it looks like it's glowing red," the pilot of one helicopter, Aviation 14, radioed at 10:07 a.m. "It's inevitable."

Seconds later, another pilot reported: "I don't think this has too much longer to go. I would evacuate all people within the area of that second building."

Those clear warnings, captured on police radio tapes, were transmitted 21 minutes before the building fell, and officials say they were relayed to police officers, most of whom managed to escape. Yet most firefighters never heard those warnings or earlier orders to get out. Their radio system failed frequently that morning. Even if the radio network had been reliable, it was not linked to the police system. And the police and fire commanders guiding the rescue efforts did not talk to one another during the crisis.

Cut off from critical information, at least 121 firefighters, most in running distance of safety, died when the north tower fell, an analysis by The New York Times has found.

[...]

A six-month examination by The New York Times found that the rescuers' ability to save themselves and others was hobbled by technical difficulties, a history of tribal feuding and management lapses that have been part of the emergency-response culture in New York City and other regions for years. [...]




[...] Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer held his two-way radio to his ear. He tried to edge away from the noise in the north-tower lobby, hoping the reception would improve. Still no good. Minutes before, he stood on a street corner in Lower Manhattan and watched as American Airlines Flight 11 flew directly overhead and crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Now, as the first chief to reach the building, he was sending fire companies up the stairs, including one led by his own brother, Lt. Kevin Pfeifer, who did not survive. Then he found that he had no way to speak with the rescuers starting the long climb: Once again, the firefighters were having terrible radio problems inside this high-rise building.

Now, Pfeifer tried to turn on a device known as a repeater, which had been installed at 5 World Trade Center to help solve those problems by boosting the radio-signal strength. The repeater didn't seem to be working, Pfeifer said later.

Another fire chief arriving at the trade center tried a second repeater in his department car. That did not work, either.

By 9:30 a.m., after both planes had struck, a rumor was circulating that a third hijacked plane was headed to New York. Assistant Chief Joseph Callan recalled feeling the north tower move. "I made the decision that the building was no longer safe," the chief told the Fire Department's oral-history interviewers.

"All units in Building 1," he announced over the radio at 9:32. "All units in Building 1, come out, down to the lobby. Everybody down to the lobby."

Virtually no one answered his call.
It seemed that few people, apart from those standing near him, heard it. Chief Peter Hayden, who was at the scene, said: "We had ordered the firefighters down, but we weren't getting acknowledgments. We were very concerned about it."

By the department's own estimation, the radios they used, some 15 years old, were outdated.

In many instances, firefighters said they simply never got the order to leave because the radio system worked only intermittently. Firefighter Steve Modica said he tried different channels, without success, to reach a friend who had gone up ahead of him.

"It's a disgrace," he said. "The police are talking to each other. It's a no-brainer: Get us what they're using. We send people to the moon, and you mean to tell me a firefighter can't talk to a guy two floors above him?" [...]

The problems weren't all technical. It seems there were problems with the police and firefighters not to communicating with each other, for a variety of reasons.

The article ends with the story of an heroic rescue in process, right up to the end, when the 2nd tower collapses on both rescuers and evacuees. It seemed an abrupt way to end the article. But then, the story it was describing also ended abruptly.




A closer look at the more technical aspects of the radio communications problems is offered on this page at Wikipedia:

Radio communications during the September 11 attacks

The page goes into detail about many things. But there seemed to be some questions about the repeater that was supposed to boost the fireman's radios. There was some confusion over whether or not it was working. The firemen in the lobby seemed to think it was not working, but the police and other services were using it, as well as some firemen, who hadn't been told it wasn't working. The control console in the lobby may have been malfunctioning, or wasn't being operated properly:

[...] The Port Authority repeater, intended to allow communications inside the towers, did not appear to work as intended on September 11. The system, also called Port Authority Channel 30, was installed after the 1993 World Trade Center attack. News accounts said the system had been turned off for unspecified technical reasons. The Commission report said it was customary to turn the system off because it somehow caused interference to radios in use at fire operations in other parts of the city. The documentary film gives different information, with a Fire Department member from Engine 7/Ladder 1 claiming that the aircraft's impact caused the system to fail. Evidence suggests the remote control console in the lobby command was not working but the repeater was. The radio repeater was located in 5 World Trade Center. A remote control console was connected to the repeater allowing staff at the North Tower lobby command post to communicate without using a hand-held radio.

A Motorola T-1300 series remote control is built in a telephone housing. The dial is replaced with a speaker and volume control. This remote control uses a two-wire circuit to control a base station.

In a review of the logging recorder track of the Port Authority repeater, someone arrived early during the incident and began to establish a command post. From the command post in the lobby of the North Tower (1 World Trade Center), the user can be heard trying to transmit using a remote control unit. After several failed attempts to communicate with a user on the channel, the user steps through every channel selection on the remote, trying each one. The recording contains the tone remote control console stepping through all of its eight function tones. Someone says, "...the wireline isn't working," over the Port Authority channel. Something that looks like a Motorola T-1380-series remote is shown in the documentary. The fact that users pressing buttons on the remote control can clearly be heard on the logging recorder shows the transmit audio path was working. The recording does not reveal whether or not the console function tones were keying the transmitter.[19]

Some users in the North Tower lobby interpreted the remote control unit not working as a failure of the entire channel. Other fire units, not knowing the channel had failed, arrived and began using it successfully. The recordings show at least some units were successfully using the repeater to communicate inside the North Tower until the moment it collapsed.[20] The Commission report says the lobby command may not have worked because the volume control was turned all the way down or because a button that must be pressed to enable it had not been pushed. [21]

On the audio track, an outside agency, possibly in New Jersey and using a repeater, comes through the receive audio on the Port Authority Repeater 7 system. An ambulance being dispatched by the outside (non-FDNY) agency is heard. This may be what the FDNY had described as interference caused when the repeater was left enabled at all times. The distant user appears to be repeated through the system, (possibly on the same CTCSS tone as was configured in Repeater 7). This appears to be a distant co-channel user on the same input frequency as Repeater 7. It's possible that by the random button pressing, a user sent a function tone that temporarily put the base station in monitor and that's what caused the outside agency's traffic to be heard. This is unlikely because subsequent transmit function tones should have toggled the receiver from monitor back to CTCSS-enabled. [22]

[...]

At any incident of this size, there is likely to be some overlapping radio traffic. In the same way that large incidents exhaust all the firefighting vehicles and staff, the radio channel resources may become taxed to their limits. NIST says about one third of the fire department radio transmissions were not complete or not understandable. [32]

Some radio users had selected the wrong channels. For example, on the Repeater 7 channel, a unit was heard to call Manhattan dispatch and Citywide. Although the circumstances that lead to the user selecting the wrong channel are not known, this can occur when the user is trapped in darkness or smoke and cannot see the radio. Users will typically try to count steps in a rotary switch channel selector starting from one end of the switch's travel.

A communications van operated by FDNY responded to the incident. Its radio identifier was, "Field Comm." A back up van was in use on the day of the incident because the primary van was out-of-service. The back up van was destroyed and audio recordings of tactical channels used at the incident site were lost. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) It's awful to think that the repeater wasn't utilized properly because of a possible misunderstanding of the controls of the lobby equipment. But none of that can be verified, as all of the equipment was destroyed when the buildings collapsed, as well as the radio communications van that the fire department used.




Hopefully we can learn to improve the communication systems involved, both the human and technical aspects, so we can keep more of our heroes alive.




Pat has some really good poetry tributes on his blog today. Below are some of my previous 9-11 posts.


Related Links:

The 9-11 jumpers; they didn't "jump"

2,996 Tribute to Lorraine D. Antigua

Debunking Rosie O'Donnell's Stupidity

Highrise Security and our post 9-11 reality
     

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"World Opinion" about Obama, and 9-11

Many claim that World Opinion wants us to elect Obama for president.

World wants Obama as president: poll
US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may be struggling to nudge ahead of his Republican rival in polls at home, but people across the world want him in the White House, a BBC poll said.

All 22 countries covered in the poll would prefer to see Senator Obama elected US president ahead of Republican John McCain.

In 17 of the 22 nations, people expect relations between the US and the rest of the world to improve if Senator Obama wins.

More than 22,000 people were questioned by pollster GlobeScan in countries ranging from Australia to India and across Africa, Europe and South America.

The margin in favour of Senator Obama ranged from 9 per cent in India to 82 per cent in Kenya, while an average of 49 per cent across the 22 countries preferred Senator Obama compared with 12 per cent preferring Senator McCain. Some four in 10 did not take a view. [...]

It's a BBC poll. In other words, a bunch of commie-socialists want to see a weaker America. No surprise there. And the worlds tin-pot dictators, authoritarians and fascists also want us to have the weakest president possible, for obvious reasons. Duly noted.

It's also worth noting what another poll on world opinion says about 9-11:

No consensus on who was behind Sept 11-global poll
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, there is no consensus outside the United States that Islamist militants from al Qaeda were responsible, according to an international poll published Wednesday.

The survey of 16,063 people in 17 nations found majorities in only nine countries believe al Qaeda was behind the attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people in 2001.

U.S. officials squarely blame al Qaeda, whose leader Osama bin Laden has boasted of organizing the suicide attacks by his followers using hijacked commercial airliners.

On average, 46 percent of those surveyed said al Qaeda was responsible, 15 percent said the U.S. government, 7 percent said Israel and 7 percent said some other perpetrator. One in four people said they did not know who was behind the attacks. [...]

It goes on to give a break-down for individual countries. Much of it is predictable, but there are some surprises. More of the French and the Germans believe al Qaeda was responsible for 9-11, than do the British. A whopping 30 percent of Mexicans believe we did 9-11 to ourselves! Conspiracy theory is alive and well south of the border, apparently.

I take all polls with a grain of salt. Polls often reflect the views of the people paying for them, and are used to shape public opinion as much as report on it.

While I can't be certain how accurate polls are, I am certain there are many people in the world that I would rather be hated by, then loved by. Their endorsement for a president is a sign, to me, of who we should NOT pick.


Related Links:

Obama: Community Organizer-in-Chief

"Citizen of the World" needs history lessons

The world should be given the right to vote in American Elections to make "correct" choices
     

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