Thursday, April 30, 2009

Churchill and Torture

In last night’s press conference, President Obama used Winston Churchill’s refusal to use torture during WW II, as an example of a courageous leader who stood on moral principles rather than take the easy way out in order to extract information from captured prisoners. To say the least, Obama was being either disingenuous, or ignorant of the differences between the German prisoners of war and the Islamo-fascist terrorists in custody after September 11.

In 1940 the Germans did not posses weapons of mass destruction. President Bush did not know the capabilities of al-Qaeda and their potential to use WMD against targets in the USA. The events of 9-11 had given ample notice of the willingness of terrorists to use any weapons at their disposal. London and Madrid are additional examples of the desire of Muslim terrorists to engage in mass murder.

In addition, in 1940 the prisoners in British hands were soldiers captured while in uniform. Using torture against them would have yielded unimportant information, and would have invited retaliation against captured British soldiers in German camps. No such fear of retaliation exists today. American prisoners in the hands of al-Qaeda or the Taliban are brutally executed, regardless of our behavior or methodology of interrogation.

During World War II, the British knew the locations of German bases, spies were providing information about invasions, the Allies knew the positions of troops and eventually Enigma was decoded. Thus, ordering torture of prisoners would have been unnecessary and counterproductive. I have no doubt that, from what I know about Churchill, had he faced the type of enemy we are facing today, he would have used any means at his disposal to extract information from captured prisoners. Of course, not using torture, but enhanced interrogation techniques. Waterboarding is such a technique.

In conclusion, since Obama has become such a fan of Churchill, he should pay heed to three of his quotes:

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

There is no such thing as a good tax.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

The following are quotes from predictions made in 1970, when the first Earth Day was celebrated. I am not commenting on them because they so ridiculous and at the same time so sad. For those of you too young to remember, the scientists quoted were the top authorities of the time, and their predictions were discussed on the three TV networks (yes, we survived with only a dozen channels) and the printed media as factual and scientific.

The media has changed, but their gullibility and desire for sensationalism has not:
“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean
temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about
twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist, 1970

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” • Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day, 1970

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” • Life Magazine, January 1970

“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” • Kenneth Watt, Ecologist, 1970

“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”• Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University, 1970

“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”• New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day, 1970

“We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” • Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist, 1970

“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.” • Kenneth Watt, ecologist, 1970

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” • George Wald, Harvard Biologist, 1970

“We are prospecting for the very last of our resources and using up the nonrenewable things many times faster than we are finding new ones.” • Martin Litton, Sierra Club director, 1970

“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist, 1970

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist, 1970

“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.”• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist, 1970

“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that
in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living
animals will be extinct.”• Sen. Gaylord Nelson, 1970

“By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist,

"Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support... the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution... by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half..."Life Magazine, January 1970

"There is growing doubt that the agricultural ecosystem will be able to accommodate both the anticipated increase of the human population to seven billion by the end of the century and the universal desire of the world's hungry for a better diet." Lester Brown, founder, Worldwatch InstituteScientific American Magazine, 1970

"I'm scared... I'm 37 and I'd kind of like to live to be 67 in a reasonably pleasant world, and not die in some kind of holocaust in the next decade." Paul Ehrlich, biologist, Stanford UniversityLook Magazine, 1970 Earth Day issue

Paul Ehrlich is 76, and still alive. Population has increased by a couple of billions, famine does not exist, except when food is used as a weapon. The world has not become colder, and the only threat is from global warming caused by the hot air of environmentalists and their cohorts in the media.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Steyn on Subprime Demography

For a long time I have been interested in demography. This interest peaked when I read America Alone, by Mark Steyn, where he makes some of the most interesting analysis of population trends and the impact that those trends are having on the geopolitical situation around the globe.

In another interesting article for National Review, Mark Steyn looks at the current financial crisis and the demographic trends impacting the housing and subprime mortgages. Well worth reading.

Here is a paragraph to wet your appetite:
Which is the situation much of the developed world is facing. A bank is a kind of demographic shorthand, by which old people with capital lend to young people with ambition and ideas. Unfortunately, the western world is running out of young people. Japan, Germany and Russia are already in net population decline. Fifty per cent of Japanese women born in the Seventies are childless. Between 1990 and 2000, the percentage of Spanish women childless at the age of 30 almost doubled, from just over 30 per cent to just shy of 60 per cent. In Sweden, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, 20 per cent of 40-year old women are childless. In Germany, 30 per cent of all women are childless. In a recent poll, invited to state the “ideal” number of children, 16.6 per cent of Germans answered “None.”

I am back...

Sorry for the interlude, but I was away enjoying a vacation that included a strict limit on news and politics. Now I am back, and ready to comment on the political scene.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

The White House is denying that Barack Obama bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

You be the judge. Maybe he was just admiring the king's shoes.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Naivete of the Obama Administration

The Obama administration has just announced that it will seek a seat at the United Nations Human Right Council, joining such paragons of democracy like Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritius, the Russian Federation, Saudi-Arabia and Senegal. The only democracy in the Middle East is not allowed to join the council and it is consistently singled out for condemnation.

Anne Bayefsky has written intensively on the topic, and has once again authored an article that is a must read for those who care about human right and fairness. Click here to read the article in its entirety.

Do as I say, not as I do...

Times threatens to shut down Globe.

This is a headline that appears on today on the Boston Globe. When reading further we find out that the New York Times Co. bastion of liberalism, fairness and promoter of workers rights has given the unions at the Boston newspaper an ultimatum demanding $20 million in concessions. The articles continues:

"Executives from the Times Co. and Globe made the demands Thursday morning in an approximately 90 minute meeting with leaders of the newspaper's 13 unions, union officials said. The possible concessions include pay cuts, the end of pension contributions by the company and the elimination of lifetime job guarantees now enjoyed by some veteran employees, said Daniel Totten, president of the Boston Newspaper Guild, the Globe's biggest union, which represents more than 700 editorial, advertising and business office employees."
Ideologically I agree with give and take process of negotiations, and the give and take it entails, but there is a sweet irony in seeing the New York Times being in this position. After all, how often did they write editorials critical of labor? My recommendation to the NYT Co. is to call executives at Walmart and see if they will bail them out.

In the meantime, when asked to comment, executives at this corporation that exists thanks to news reporting, declined to comment.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Si vis pacem, para bellum

Right-winger, hardliner, against peace, rancorous.

These are some of the epithets attached by the media to Avigdor Lieberman, the new Israeli foreign minister, and am I happy to hear it. Great news. If The Guardian, the BBC, the New York Times, and the mainstream media in general are against him, he must be doing something right.

After years of negotiations, concessions and restrain, Israel is isolated, vilified and has become a pariah among the nations. A new direction is needed, and one that the enemies of Israel will understand. This new direction was outlined yesterday in Lieberman’s maiden speech. Daniel Pipes, writing for Front Page magazine has summarized and critically evaluated the speech. Here is the article:

Avigdor Lieberman became foreign minister of Israel yesterday. He celebrated his inauguration with a maiden speech that news reports indicate left his listeners grimacing, squirming, and aghast. The BBC, for example, informs us that his words prompted “his predecessor Tzipi Livni to interrupt and diplomats to shift uncomfortably.”

Too bad for them – the speech leaves me elated. Here are some of the topics
Lieberman covered in his 1,100-word stem-winder:

The world order: The Westphalia order of states is dead, replaced by a modern system that includes states, semi-states, and irrational international players (e.g., Al-Qaeda, perhaps Iran).

World priorities: These must change. The free world must focus on defeating the countries, forces, and extremist entities “that are trying to violate it.” The real problems are coming from “the direction of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq” – and not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Egypt: Lieberman praises Cairo as “a stabilizing factor in the regional system and perhaps even beyond that” but puts the Mubarak government on notice that he will only go there if his counterpart comes to Jerusalem.

Repeating the word “peace”: Lieberman poured scorn on prior Israeli governments: “The fact that we say the word ‘peace’ twenty times a day will not bring peace any closer.”

The burden of peace: “I have seen all the proposals made so generously by Ehud Olmert, but I have not seen any result.” Now, things have changed: “the other side also bears responsibility” for peace and must ante up.

The Road Map: The speech’s most surprising piece of news is Lieberman’s focus on and endorsement of the Road Map, a 2003 diplomatic initiative he voted against at the time but which is, as he puts it, “the only document approved by the cabinet and by the Security Council.” He calls it “a binding resolution” that the new government must implement. In contrast, he specifically notes that the government is not bound by the Annapolis accord of 2007 (“Neither the cabinet nor the Knesset ever ratified it”).

Implementing the Road Map: Lieberman intends to “act exactly” according to the letter of the Road Map, including its Tenet and Zinni sub-documents. Then comes one of his two central statements of the speech:

I will never agree to our waiving all the clauses - I believe there are 48 of them - and going directly to the last clause, negotiations on a permanent settlement. No. These concessions do not achieve anything. We will adhere to it to the letter, exactly as written. Clauses one, two, three, four - dismantling terrorist organizations, establishing an effective government, making a profound constitutional change in the Palestinian Authority. We will proceed exactly according to the clauses. We are also obligated to implement what is required of us in each clause, but so is the other side. They must implement the document in full.

The mistake of making concessions: He notes the “dramatic steps and made far-reaching proposals” of the Sharon and Olmert governments and then concludes, “But I do not see that [they] brought peace. To the contrary. … It is precisely when we made all the concessions” that Israel became more isolated, such as at the Durban Conference in 2001.

Then follows his other central statement:

We are also losing ground every day in public opinion. Does anyone think that concessions, and constantly saying “I am prepared to concede,” and using the word “peace” will lead to anything? No, that will just invite pressure, and more and more wars. “Si vis pacem, para bellum” - if you want peace, prepare for war, be strong.

Israeli strength: Lieberman concludes with a rousing call to fortitude: “When was Israel at its strongest in terms of public opinion around the world? After the victory of the Six Day War, not after all the concessions in Oslo Accords I, II, III and IV.”

A few thoughts about the demonstrations in London

A contrarian approaches a group discussion and says: “What are you talking about, so that I can disagree with you?” For some, the issues are not important. The important thing is voicing opposition.

So once again we have a meeting of the major economic powers, and the usual suspects, like hibernating bears, have emerged from their hideaways ready for action. The boredom and energy accumulated since the last G-20 meeting needed to find an outlet by smashing the windows of The Royal Bank of Scotland or the nearest McDonald. How creative. If these demonstrations had taken place in Fort Lauderdale or Acapulco I would have thought that these were C students on spring break who have consumed an excessive amount of alcohol and recreation drugs. Let’s put it this way, the demonstrators were not of the caliber of those who demonstrated on Bloody Sunday in Moscow or Alabama in the 60’s.

The next thing that has been puzzling me for a long time are the different groups that get together to protest. Talk about a confederacy of dunces. Ethiopians Against Genocide, Palestinians, Arabs, Anarchists, anti-Wars, Environmentalists, Greens, anti- Capitalists, Communists, Trotskyites, Free Tibet, Maoists, Marxists, anti-Globalists, and Skin Heads, just to name a few. These characters have as much in common as cats and dogs.

Why is it that every so often we see among these groups a gay flag and feminist slogans? The fact that a group feels oppressed does not justify its association with other groups who claim oppression. Given a chance, many of these demonstrators would exterminate gays and place women in a time machine sending them back to the seventh century. How can gays and feminists fail to realize that any association with Islamists, Palestinians and Arabs is the equivalent of Jews protesting with Nazis? Do a search on Google images and see the way gays are hanged in Iran or Afghanistan or Saudi-Arabia. And those are the lucky ones. The unlucky ones are thrown from a roof or buried under a collapsing wall.

Gays and feminists have to realize that it is under a free society that they will achieve equality. The only country in the Middle East where you can see feminist and Gay Day parades is in Israel. If gays and feminists feel like demonstrating, do so. But not together with those who, when push comes to shove, want to destroy you.