Friday, February 23, 2007

An object lesson for the Democrats

Here's what happens when you pander to the hard left to get yourself in power:

ROME -- Romano Prodi couldn't live with them and couldn't live without them. The far-left fringe of his fragile coalition, they are the parties that noisily opposed the premier's U.S.-friendly policies on keeping Italian troops in Afghanistan and expanding U.S. bases in Italy.

Those tensions forced Prodi to resign Wednesday after he lost a key foreign policy vote in the Senate - and threaten to usher in a new era of turmoil in Italian politics.

Prodi needed the leftists to edge out Silvio Berlusconi in elections in May 2006. But they have paralyzed his ability to govern.

From the start, Prodi's government was fraught with friction, as it struggled to meet European Union demands to cut Italy's budget deficit and increase productivity while seeking to please its electorate by maintaining Italy's generous welfare state.

But foreign policy proved to be its downfall.

Prodi and D'Alema's efforts to raise Italy's profile in NATO and the EU while weaning the government away from Berlusconi's cozy relationship with Bush were not enough to please the more radical wing of the center-left alliance.

"I believe Italy is today the only country in the West where nearly 10 percent of the voters believe in an anti-American platform," said political analyst Stefano Folli. [Ed.--Signore Folli should come visit. He might be suprised at how many American voters believe in an anti-American platform.] "This explains the aversion to foreign policy, which is an aversion to the alliance with the United States."

For example, Lidia Menapace, a member of the Senate's Defense Commission, says U.S. and NATO bases are an "infringement of Italian territory" and that after the fall of the Berlin Wall NATO should simply "dissolve itself."

While Prodi has tried to play a major role as a peacekeeper in Lebanon, his ally, Communist Party leader Oliviero Diliberto, returned from a visit to Lebanon and Syria and said Hezbollah was a "victim of stereotyping."

Pictured on his party's Web site wearing a Palestinian scarf, Diliberto assailed Israeli criticism of his visit as "offensive."

Another communist leader, Marco Ferrando, defended banners held up during a recent protest that called for the release of a group of Italians arrested on terrorism charges as Red Brigades suspects.


"Let's hope that after this trauma, the radical left understands that political suicide is in nobody's interest," D'Alema said.

Clinton understands this, I believe. Should she get herself elected by the Cindy Sheehan, 911-Truther crowd, she won't have the political capital to accomplish much more than overseeing our withdrawal from Iraq.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pig Farsi?

To skirt the few sanctions the U.N. has imposed on its nuclear program, Iran is renaming the blacklisted firms involved in acquiring nuclear technology for the mullahs. They put their turbans together to see how best to pull the wool over the eyes of the IAEA, and here's one of the new names they came up with:

Sookht Atomi Reactorhaye Iran

Landlady: Oh I'm sorry. I didn't introduce you. This is Ron. Ron Vibbentrop.
Johnson: Oh, not Von Ribbentrop, eh?
Vibbentrop (Graham Chapman, with German Accent): Nein! Nein! Oh. Ha ha. Different other chap. I in Somerset am being born.

"Atomi Reactorhaye"?! That's the most suspicious thing I've ever heard. "Yes, Hello, this is Mr. Ameneikhay calling from North Minehead. Ouldcay ouyay easeplay Edexfay emay entay oundspay ofway utoniumplay?"

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

We torture people. Islamists "forcibly interrogate" them.

Those who are "forcibly interrogated" are later killed. In passive voice. By no one in particular. Don't forget, the mainstream media are not unbiased, and not merely anti-Bush. They are on the other side.

The FBI has been handed a gift by Kenyan authorities: Daniel Aljughaifi, an American citizen and convert to Islam who signed up with al Qaeda in Somalia to wage jihad against anyone standing in the way of Islam's continuing conquest of North Africa. He even talked with his new friends about turning Ethiopa into a fundamentalist Islamic state, which would be quite a trick, considering that less than half the population of Ethiopia is Muslim. He was captured by Kenyan authorities after he and his buddies got their butts kicked out of Somalia by Ethiopian troops. If these jihadis have dreams of turning North Africa's Orthodox Christians into dhimmis, they'll have to get better at defeating them when they're soldiers. Aljughaifi proved his bravery as a Muslim warrior by beating up an unarmed (and probably tied-up) flight attendant.

While there, he helped forcibly interrogate an alleged spy against the rebels, a flight attendant who was later reported killed.

Though the criminal complaint against Aljughaifi clearly states that the flight attendant (who the jihadis thought had photographed them on the plane to Somalia) was beaten, slapped, and told (by a gun-wielding Aljughaifi) that he would be killed, the reporter chooses to call it "forcible interrogation." Our media give every benefit of the doubt to our enemies while tearing down--at every opportunity--the men and women who risk their lives to protect ours.

Aljughaifi was born Daniel Maldonoda, and his chosen Muslim moniker may be intended to ally him with his murderous brethren in the al-Jughaifi district of Fallujah. He also appears to have been a contributing member of the website (where he and other posters frequently end their comments with the phrase "Unite and Conquer"), as well as the author of a rather lame blog. In May of 2006 he wrote about his move to Egypt. His last post was in August of 2006. I suppose he then packed his bags, left his burqa'd wife and three little jihadi babies, and went off to join the militia of the Islamic Courts Union, who had taken control of Mogadishu in June. In one of his posts he wonders, "Am I a Wahabbi?" Well, Daniel, you might be. But I'll tell you what you certainly are: a traitor. May you rot in prison.

You can read the government's complete criminal complaint against Aljughaifi here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Is Iran having money trouble?

An article from Reuters today suggests that Iran may be showing signs of cash-flow problems. Russia has announced it is delaying work on Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant because the mullahs are pulling the old "check's in the mail" trick with January and February's required payments. Their excuse supposedly has something to do with switching from paying in dollars to paying in Euros: dollars are punctual, Euros are tardy. Sounds kind of like Boeing and Airbus. Who would have though that cash has a work ethic?

But the real reason behind the missed payments is likely a matter not of which currency Iran is using but of how much of it they've got. To cover their current expenditures--including frivolities like lobbing missiles around the region, smuggling arms to terrorists, and confiscating everyone's satellite dishes--the Iranians need oil to remain at or above $65 a barrel. It's under $60 a barrel and will likely remain so for some time. The Saudis can live with revenues at that level, and they can do it with a smile knowing they're screwing their Shiite rivals across the Gulf.

Depending on whom you ask, Iran has between 30 and 80 billion dollars in foreign cash reserves. (The vice-governor of their central bank says they like to keep the exact amount shrouded in "mystery" ... kind of a "hidden Imam" approach to fiscal responsibility.) If you trust the lower figure, their 2006 budget called for spending nearly all of it, apparently in the hopes that 2006 oil prices would be sustained into 2007. Well, not only did that not happen, the ayatollahs' Powerball pool didn't come through either. And Mr. Ahmedinejad hasn't cut back on the spending, unless you count stiffing the Russians as an economic strategy.

Iran's brinksmanship becomes more frightening when combined with the possibility that their pockets are empty. The Shiite penchant for glorifying humiliation and defeat--along with Ahmedinejad's membership in an apocalyptic cult that makes mainstream Islam look nearly rational--could mean a very ugly end-game. The Iranian people are already suffering from double-digit inflation. A confrontation leading to a total blockade of the regime or to all-out war could easily spiral into a crisis with worldwide ramifications, not least among them that it's 13 degrees outside and my furnace is already cycling about every ten minutes. On the brighter side, Iranians are growing increasingly fed up with Ahmedinejad, to the point where he's resorting to shutting down criticisms he apparently cannot answer. We can only hope that the Iranians give the madman the heave-ho before he ruins it for everyone.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Uh oh. The Chinese are in for it now.

What, me worry?

Saw this headline on Yahoo this afternoon:

Fortune: Year of Pig will bring disaster

... and immediately thought, Hmmm. I bet I know what this is about. The promise of a whole year of porcine imagery is sure to get the Islamists' panties all in a twist. Much seething will surely ensue, followed by the obligatory Friday-afternoon chanting and burning things, with a strong chance of occasional explosions and head-chopping.

But no! The article opens with the dire predictions of some Feng Shui master, who thinks the Year of the Pig bodes ill for reasons more mystical than political. Apparently, the elements of the pig (whatever that means) are fire and water, which make for conflict, which therefore mean we're in for a year of stuff blowing up around the world. Wait, haven't things been blowing up on a daily basis for the last few years anyway? Whatever. I learned not to look for reason in the arguments of the religious back in my days in Catholic school. Whatever the supposed cosmological reason for the coming chaos, it does start to sound like it's related to that other reason that Tom Pain has been howling about since the last Year of the Snake.

He noted that the Russian AK-47 rifle, a weapon of choice among insurgents around the world, was invented during a pig year.

"So it will not be surprising to see more gunbattles, murder with guns and bombing attacks in 2007," he said.

And I thought we were through with all that.

In any case, it turns out that Tom Pain's Islamo-sensor wasn't malfunctioning after all, as the article gets around (in the 27th paragraph) to the real reason we should nervous.

While the pig is beloved by the Chinese, the animal is offensive to Muslims, who consider it unclean.

Here we go ...

For that reason, Chinese New Year celebrations have to be handled with care in Malaysia and Indonesia, mainly Muslim countries with large ethnic Chinese minorities.

For the first time in its history, Indonesia introduced a special set of postal stamps to mark the Lunar New Year. But concerns over Muslim sensitivities led the postal service to drop plans to put a large pig on the stamps. It chose a Chinese temple instead.

"We took the middle path," said Hana Suryana, director of the Indonesian postal service.

The "middle path" apparently being the all-too-common one of suppressing anything that differs from the mindless unity of Islam.

Still, that was progress for a country where ethnic Chinese, who make up 5 percent of the population and have long faced discrimination, once were not allowed to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

"That has changed now, but we still feel uncomfortable celebrating the day in a large way because there are some people who cannot accept that Chinese culture is a part of Indonesian culture," said Jhony Tan, a trader in Jakarta's bustling Chinatown.

Yusri Mohammad, president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, said he had no problem with the Chinese celebrating the pig year in his country. He said decorative pictures of pigs in shopping malls are fine — as long as Chinese don't start using live pigs or eat pork in public.

And what pray tell, Mr. Mohammad, will happen then?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I am curious (not).

The Associated Press Department of Headline Blandification turned out a real winner this afternoon:

Obama says voters curious on his faith

Aside from being written in Engrish, this headline manages both to alter reality and to misrepresent the article's focus, and in just seven words! Somebody deserves a raise.

To be clear, this is not the fault of AP writer Henry C. Jackson, who actually puts the point more sharply in his article:

Obama's religious background has come under scrutiny because he attended a Muslim school in Indonesia from age 6 to 10.

I like that Jackson resisted the common antique-media trend of qualifying any statement that might be seen as skeptical of Islam's cloak of benevolence. Attendance at a Muslim school in Indonesia is not the same as attendance at a Catholic school on Long Island, and it is a fact deserving scrutiny. Here's what Obama had to say in answer to the public's supposed "curiosity":

"If your name is Barack Hussein Obama, you can expect it, some of that. I think the majority of voters know that I'm a member of the United Church of Christ, and that I take my faith seriously," Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Perhaps I'm not representative of the average voter, but I'm not curious about Obama's faith. I'm disdainful of his trumpeting it, and it only diminishes the already slim chances I will vote for him. If I vote for a Democrat at all, it will be for Clinton (who I believe deserves not to be addressed by her first name just because her husband can't step out of the spotlight).

In any event, only five of the article's 29 paragraphs focus on the issue of faith. Jackson strays quickly from the piece's supposed topic to other aspects of Obama's candidacy--ones that might interest voters more than his early connection to a death cult that keeps hundreds of millions of people locked in ignorance, misogyny, and primitive superstition. Those aspects would apparently be his skin color and whether or not he's quit smoking.

In the interview, Obama also said his race might be a "novelty" this early in the presidential contest ...

The greater novelty would be Obama's stature (admirable, in my opinion) as the first U.S. presidential candidate deserving of a fatwa for irtidad (turning from Islam to another religion), a crime regarded by many Islamic "scholars of jurisprudence" as deserving the death penalty. Don't blame me ... It's in the Koran. His status as an apostate might put the kibosh on any plans for hand-in-hand strolls with Saudi princes. Wait, maybe I should vote for him.