« December 2005 | Main | February 2006 »

January 31, 2006

Going Postal

Always at the forefront of equal opportunity, the USPS now has its own female psycho killer!

January 31, 2006 at 06:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 30, 2006

PA in the Hole

Palestinian Finances are notoriously opaque. However, Al Jazeera has an analysis made by the Associated Press purporting to show the major sources of the PA's revenues for 2005. I have converted this into graphic form below:

Palestinian finance data 2005

Since at least 80% of PA revenues come from external sources (and no one is really sure how or if the PA manages to collect the 20% of domestic tax revenue included in their budget), the new government is really over a barrel if foreign governments stop writing the checks.

January 30, 2006 at 02:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Scholars, eh?

Today's London Times has a story based on a report by Rome's La Repubblica alleging that a senior member of Iraq's Association of Muslim Scholars has been involved with kidnapping westerners for ransom. Among the victims of these plots was Margaret Hassan, the long-time head of the Iraqi office of Care International.

January 30, 2006 at 01:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 29, 2006

Dumb as a Post?

Sometimes obituaries are like three minute morality plays. This one is simple: man with train wreck of a life wins the lottery; train wreck continues, but on better tracks.

William 'Bud' Post

William "Bud" Post, who died on January 15 aged 66, was, like Vivien Nicholson in Spend, Spend, Spend, a warning that a huge financial win does not guarantee happiness.

In 1988 Post, who had $2.46 in his bank account at the time, pawned a ring for $40 and handed the money to his landlady to buy tickets for the Pennsylvania state lottery. He won $16.2 million, to be paid in annual installments of $500,000 a time.

Within two weeks, he had spent $300,000 of it; within three months, he was $500,000 in debt. He bought a car lot, a restaurant and an aeroplane (though he could not fly). He fell out with his brother, who tried to put out a contract on the lives of Post and his sixth wife; shortly afterwards, matters deteriorated for her when her husband fired a rifle at her Pontiac.

It's all just downhill from there. . .

January 29, 2006 at 05:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

End of the Road Map to Nowhere

Israeli author Michael Oren in Friday's WSJ on the Palestinian elections and their implications for Israeli security: (link for WSJ subscribers | Temporary | Local copy)

A solid majority of Israelis accept that they cannot continue to occupy the West Bank and Gaza without endangering the moral and demographic foundations upon which the Jewish state is built. That same majority would prefer to negotiate with a freely elected Palestinian leadership toward the creation of a Palestinian state that would live side-by-side with Israel in a relationship of mutual and permanent recognition. In the wake of President Mahmoud Abbas's failure to disarm and dismantle terrorist organizations, however, most Israelis internalized the conclusion that no Palestinian leadership was capable of meeting the minimum requirements for peace. Consequently, these same Israelis have resolved to preserve their national interests by supporting the Kadimah party -- which, in the absence of peace talks, advocates drawing Israel's borders unilaterally.

The advent of a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority will not alter these basic Israeli conclusions. Under Fatah, the PA expressed a willingness to renew the peace process but took none of the antiterror measures necessary to reactivate the talks. Hamas does not want peace talks, and will do everything to ensure that such discussions do not take place. In either case, Israel, in order to ensure its vital interests, will have to act unilaterally. There is no doubt that the Hamas victory will enable the right-wing Likud to point out the folly of the Gaza withdrawal and the danger of future unilateral pullbacks. Nevertheless, the outcome of the elections has confirmed Israeli doubts about the Palestinians' willingness to negotiate, and will more probably reinforce popular support for unilateral moves.

It is axiomatic (if not really understood in many quarters) that a precondition for a negotiated peace is that both sides must first truly want peace. Now that Palestinian voters have a replaced a government that pretended to want peace (while privately continuing to support armed struggle and incite violence) with one that openly is unwilling to accept a negotiated peace, Israel is sheltered from international pressure against unilateral moves to secure its borders. Unless and until the Palestinians decide they are ready to live in peace with Israel, this disengagement may be the only solution.

January 29, 2006 at 03:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Left's OJ Case

The infamous murder trial of OJ Simpson continues to polarize American public opinion. An NBC News poll conducted ten years after the trial shows that whites believe Simpson was guilty by a margin of more than 7:1. Conversely, blacks believe he was innocent by a more than 2:1 margin.

Similarly, more than fifty years after the conviction and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for stealing nuclear secrets for Stalin's Soviet Uniion, leftist continue to believe in the innocence of this benighted couple. This in spite of numerous declassified Soviet files unambiguously proving that the Rosenbergs were valued KGB agents who made significant contributions to the USSR's atomic weapons program. Joseph Rago reports for the WSJ's Opinion Journal from a forum at Fordham Law School on the "artistic influence" of the Rosenbergs, featuring lefty writers E.L. Doctorow and Tony Kushner:

You would think, by now, with a half-century of scholarship behind us and a great deal of damning evidence on display, we would not have to be arguing about the guilt or innocence of various iconic figures of the late 1940s and 1950s: Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White or, perhaps most notoriously, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. But the martyr status of such figures seems irresistible, even today, to a certain kind of sentimental leftist. They still remain symbols of some malevolent American quality--never mind the truth of what they actually did.

. . . The notion that anyone would today deny their fundamental complicity in Soviet subversion is extraordinary, almost comically so. But comedy was not quite the mentality at the Rosenberg event. "Ambiguity is the key word, I think," said Mr. Doctorow, regarding our understanding of the past, though in this instance ambiguous is precisely what it is not.

Mr. Kushner argued the Rosenbergs were "murdered, basically." Mr. Doctorow went further, explaining that he wanted to use their circumstances to tell "a story of the mind of the country." It was a mind, apparently, filled with loathing and paranoia--again, never mind the truth of the charges against the Rosenbergs or other spies of the time. "The principles of the Cold War had reached absurdity," he continued. "We knew that the Russians were no threat, but we wanted to persuade Americans to be afraid" and so impose "a Puritan, punitive civil religion." Pronounced Mr. Kushner: "Our failure to come to terms with a brutal past, our failure to open up the coffins and let the ghosts out, has led to our current, horrendous situation."

January 29, 2006 at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

Good news from Iraq

According to Iraq The Model, Iraqi newspapers are reporting that tribal groups in the Anbar Province have arrested 270 foreign terrorists as part of an effort to round up Al Queda members. (Via Instapundit.)

January 27, 2006 at 03:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

The real Palestinians?

I am of two minds on the apparent electoral triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian elections. On the one hand, Hamas defeated a corrupt, two-faced regime that had been speaking to the West of Palestinian victimhood and a negotiated settlement with Israel while spreading hatred and tactical acceptance of a "two-state" solution as a way point on the path to the destruction of the Zionist state. On the other hand, while Hamas appears to be free of corruption and dedicated to the welfare of the Palestinian people, they are religious fanatics and on record as rejecting Israel's right to exist. Israel, and the West, therefore face a starker threat from a more representative, more straighforwardly hostile Palestinian government.

But this new mideastern reality may hold some promise for a long term settlement. For one thing, if Hamas is capable of delivering a more effective, more efficient Palestinian government, ordinary citizens may be less likely to sign up to become human bombs. There is also something to be said for clarity. For years, Europe, in particular, has tilted towards the image of Palestinians as victims, suffering at the hands of the Israeli occupiers. Now, with a newly elected Palestinian government ruled by a party that is on record as opposing the existence of the state of Israel, it will be harder for well-intentioned, but naive, outsiders to endorse Palestinian claims.

Of course, the "realist" wing of American foreign policy, represented by the bureaucracy at the State Department, as well as in the Democratic opposition, will likely gloat at the apparent self-inflicted wounds of Palestinian democracy. In this meme, Bush's unrealistic policy of embracing democracy in the Arab world will have resulted in the emergence of radical regimes, opposed to peaceful change. Perhaps, but democracy forces politicians to be sensitive to their people's needs. If Palestinians continue to suffer defeat and degradation in their (losing) military struggle against a Jewish state, perhaps they will tire of continuous intifada, and militate for creating a more stable, prosperous Palestine.

At least one can hope.

January 26, 2006 at 11:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Assad's Got 'Em?

Today's NY Sun has an interview by Ira Stoll with a former high ranking Iraqi air force officer who claims to have direct knowledge that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were moved to Syria before the US invasion.

The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.

The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, "Saddam's Secrets," released this week. He detailed the transfers in an interview yesterday with The New York Sun.

Sada's account seems plausible to me, and may explain why all the world's intelligence agencies were convinced that Iraq did have an ongoing WMD program. Getting Assad to admit to having these weapons and turning them over for destruction will be quite another issue. As Matt Drudge would say, developing . . .

January 26, 2006 at 01:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 24, 2006

Conservatives win in Canada

Does the defeat of Canada's Liberal government in yesterday's elections mean that all the Americans who moved to Canada after Kerry's loss to Bush are going to move back? More importantly, do we have to let them back in?

January 24, 2006 at 05:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack