Sunday, March 23, 2008

Qatar; Looks 21st Century, Acts 7th Century

By way of Michelle Malkin, I found an update on the new church in Qatar. Globe and Mail reports,
Qatar's first Christian church has no cross, no bell and no steeple.

And when thousands of worshippers gather at Our Lady of the Rosary to mark Easter, they pray no one will notice.

"The idea is to be discreet because we don't want to inflame any sensitivities. There isn't even a signboard outside the church. No signs at all," said Rev. Tom Veneracion.

For Qatar's fledgling Roman Catholic community, the sprawling $15-million, dome-shaped building, a 15-minute drive into barren desert is a victory, built with the blessing of the current emir.

But critics in this devoutly Muslim country call it a desecration, with a militant website last week threatening retaliation against the congregation. One former politician has called for a national referendum to decide its fate.

Lahdan bin Issa al-Muhanada, a popular columnist in Doha's Al-Arab newspaper, argues: "The cross should not be raised in the sky of Qatar, nor should bells toll in Doha."
But it remains unclear whether average Qataris will accept the church, or whether a backlash will force it to close.
At this point it doesn't even matter that the ruler of Qatar allowed a church to be built. What matters is that there is even a debate about it in a supposedly modern and up to date country that expects to hold the Olympics in 2012. What matters is that there are useful idiots in the West, where freedom reigns (for now) who preach accommodating these "devoutly Muslim" barbarians and tolerating their intolerance of anything anywhere that deviates from the teachings of Islam. If Islam demands respect, Islam had better grow up and start giving respect. Respect is a two way street.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Energy for the Future?

When even the New York Times runs a negative article on ethanol, you know that people are starting to discover the scam.
MOUNDVILLE, Ala. — After residents of the Riverbend Farms subdivision noticed that an oily, fetid substance had begun fouling the Black Warrior River, which runs through their backyards, Mark Storey, a retired petroleum plant worker, hopped into his boat to follow it upstream to its source.

Nelson Brooke, the executive director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper, walked along an area of the river near Moundville, Ala.

Oil and grease from a biodiesel plant had been released.

It turned out to be an old chemical factory that had been converted into Alabama’s first biodiesel plant, a refinery that intended to turn soybean oil into earth-friendly fuel.

“I’m all for the plant,” Mr. Storey said. “But I was really amazed that a plant like that would produce anything that could get into the river without taking the necessary precautions.”

But the oily sheen on the water returned again and again, and a laboratory analysis of a sample taken in March 2007 revealed that the ribbon of oil and grease being released by the plant — it resembled Italian salad dressing — was 450 times higher than permit levels typically allow, and that it had drifted at least two miles downstream.

The spills, at the Alabama Biodiesel Corporation plant outside this city about 17 miles from Tuscaloosa, are similar to others that have come from biofuel plants in the Midwest. The discharges, which can be hazardous to birds and fish, have many people scratching their heads over the seeming incongruity of pollution from an industry that sells products with the promise of blue skies and clear streams.

“Ironic, isn’t it?” said Barbara Lynch, who supervises environmental compliance inspectors for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “This is big business. There’s a lot of money involved.”
So let's review. Food prices are rising because so much of our food crop is being diverted to biofuels. The government takes on more debt and skews the market due to subsidies to biofuel producers because biofuels can't compete on their own in the free market. The natural landscape of our county is damaged in order to plant more crops to be turned into biofuel. There is more environmental damage. And now we have to deal with pollution from biofuel plants?

On the other hand, there is the energy source that dares not speak its name: nuclear.
The fear mongers would have us run screaming at the mere mention of the word with thoughts of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and The China Syndrome colliding in our minds. However,
Consider: At an average 1,000 megawatt coal plant, a train with 110 railroad cars, each loaded with 20 tons of coal, arrives every five days. Each carload will provide 20 minutes of electricity. When burned, one ton of coal will throw three tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We now burn 1 billion tons of coal a year—up from 500 million tons in 1976. This coal produces 40 percent of our greenhouse gases and 20 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.

By contrast, consider a 1000 megawatt nuclear reactor. Every two years a fleet of flatbed trucks pulls up to the reactor to deliver a load of fuel rods. These rods are only mildly radio-active and can be handled with gloves. They will be loaded into the reactor, where they will remain for six years (only one-third of the rods are replaced at each refueling). The replaced rods will be removed and transferred to a storage pool inside the containment structure, where they can remain indefinitely (three feet of water blocks the radiation). There is no exhaust, no carbon emissions, no sulfur sludge to be carted away hourly and heaped into vast dumps. There is no release into the environment. The fuel rods come out looking exactly as they did going in, except that they are now more highly radioactive. There is no air pollution, no water pollution, and no ground pollution.
You should especially read about the objections to nuclear energy.
Another objection to nuclear power is the supposed waste it produces. But this is a mischaracterization. A spent fuel rod is 95 percent U-238. This is the same material we can find in a shovel full of dirt from our back yards. Of the remaining five percent, most is useful, but small amounts should probably be placed in a repository such as Yucca Mountain. The useful parts—uranium-235 and plutonium (a manmade element produced from U-238)—can be recycled as fuel. In fact, we are currently recycling plutonium from Russian nuclear missiles. Of the 20 percent of our power that comes from nuclear sources, half is produced from recycled Russian bombs. Many of the remaining isotopes are useful in industry or radiological medicine—now used in 40 percent of all medical procedures. It is only cesium-137 and strontium-90, which have half-lives of 28 and 30 years, respectively, that need to be stored in protective areas.
Environmentalist fear mongers are hoping that no one look into their claims. They get angry when people do. And over the past few generations they've conditioned a docile public to accept their semi-regular pronouncements of doom, and to panic every time a new prediction of death and destruction is brought forth. It doesn't matter that all of the past predictions of a falling sky have proven false. We are trained to forget the past. This one, this time, they assure us, is the real thing. They have computer models to prove it. And they have propaganda campaigns to shut down their critics. Are they part of the global Jihad? They do seem to have the same end, the destruction of Western Civilization. But rather than a seventh century caliphate as their utopia, they yearn for the fantasy past of the noble savage, when people lived at peace with their neighbors and in harmony with the Earth. Only someone who truly has forgotten or never studied the past can believe in either one of those fantasies.

Both the Islamic fantasy and the environmental fantasy have to be stopped because unfortunately we live in the real world.

UPDATE: Here is a great piece on the connection between biofuels and famine.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

First Christian Church Opens in Qatar

Yep, that is correct. According to this report,
DOHA, Qatar - Thousands of worshippers gathered Saturday for the consecration of Qatar's first Christian church, ending decades of underground worship in this Sunni Muslim and deeply conservative Persian Gulf nation.

Cardinal Ivan Diaz, envoy to Pope Benedict XVI, presented the new Roman Catholic parish of Our Lady of the Rosary with a chalice offered by the pope. Many congregants wept when a relic of Saint Padre Pio da Pietrelcina was dedicated in the five-hour mass.

Three dozen bishops and priests gathered to celebrate the mass, which was conducted in English with prayers in the Tagalog language from the Philippines, Hindi, Arabic and other languages.
Not only that, but,
Nearby, five more churches are under construction for other Christian denominations in this oil-rich state, where over 70 percent of the population are expatriate workers.
Out of respect for local sensitivities, the exterior does not feature any religious symbols that identify the building as a place of Christian worship.
Does this mean that Qatar is taking its first baby steps out of medieval Islamic theology to join the rest of us in the 21st century? Will a synagogue be built next? Maybe a tiny one in case they decide to allow Jews into their country, maybe even Jews from Israel? Don't count on it. Believe it or not, there is an ulterior motive here.
The consecration and construction appear to be signs of Qatar's efforts to open up to the West as it seeks a bid for the Olympic Games in 2016.
With the "genocide Olympics" in Beijing, the next logical step would be offering legitimacy to modern theocratic Islamofascists. Do you think Qatar will allow Israel to participate? We know that answer to that.
Qatar's most ambitious move to open up to the world has come through sports. It held the 2006 Asian games and hopes to win the 2016 summer Olympics
The 2006 Asian games did not include Israel, an Asian country, and nobody cared. Just as if Qatar is given the 2016 Olympics, the Olympic committee won't be bothered that Israel isn't included. They'll give it as much thought as they allow for the 11 Israeli athletes that were massacred in Munich.

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Gratitude and Ingratitude

Nobody says it better than Mark Steyn. In his take down of Jeremy Wright and his protege, Barack Obama, he makes an interesting and instructive comparison between Irving Berlin and Michelle Obama.
The song the Reverend Wright won’t sing is by Irving Berlin, a contemporary of Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin and Lorenz Hart, all the sophisticated rhymesters. But only Berlin could have written without embarrassment “God Bless America.” He said it directly, unaffectedly, unashamedly — in seven words:

God Bless America
Land that I love.

Berlin was a Jew and he suffered slights: He grew up in the poverty of New York’s Lower East Side. When he made his name and fortune, his marriage to a Park Avenue heiress resulted in her expulsion from the Social Register. In the Thirties, her sister moved in with a Nazi diplomat and proudly flaunted her diamond swastika to Irving. But Berlin spent his infancy in Temun, Siberia (until the Cossacks rode in and razed his village) and he understood the great gift he’d been given:

God Bless America
Land that I love.

The Reverend Wright can’t say those words. His shtick is:

God damn America
Land that I loathe.
Irving Berlin came to the United States at a time when if you were going to make it, you had to make it on your own. There were no government handouts ready for each and every immigrant, legal or illegal, who made it to these shores. Rather than seethe and whine about the hardships and the anti-Jewish prejudice of the day, he worked to succeed and get past all of the hardships and prejudice.

My grandparents came to the U.S. from Russia and Poland around the same time Berlin did, and for the same reasons. As Jews, they wanted to escape the Cossacks, the pogroms, the hatred that kept them prisoner in the ghettos. While neither of my grandfathers made the same kind of living Berlin did, they both contributed to the U.S., made a decent living and raised families. Actually, neither one of them did anywhere near as well, even, as Barack and Michelle Obama, but I never heard either one of them ever complain about having to work hard and struggle. They didn't think anyone owed them anything beyond what they earned. They were able to bounce back from setbacks without demanding welfare. Their children went to public schools, rode busses to get places, and had no resentment about their situation. At least, I never heard it if they did. They were a different breed back then than we are today.

So, Michelle Obama, shut up and stop your whining. You have more than most people in the world can even dream of.

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Sports News

I rarely (does never count as rarely?) cover anything sports related in this blog. However, this was just too good to pass up. According to the intrepid reporters at The Onion,
The Green Bay Packers addressed questions concerning the current status, future plans, and whereabouts of recently retired quarterback Brett Favre by announcing Monday that they had sent him to the country to live on a beautiful farm with a very nice family.

"We know you loved Brett Favre, but he wasn't happy here. He couldn't stay here," Packers general manager Ted Thompson told hundreds of quiet but tear-streaked Packer fans assembled at the televised Lambeau Field press conference. "And he loved you, too—he loved you very much indeed—but he needed to go someplace where he could run and jump and throw his favorite football around. And he couldn't do that here anymore."

"So we took Brett out behind the Don Hutson practice facility last night, and we… Coach McCarthy and I, we… We gave him one last hug, and we said goodbye to him, and Brett went away forever," Thompson said, his voice breaking several times. "Those loud banging noises you heard were probably the truck backfiring. He went to the farm in a truck, you know."
Yes, read the rest, but only if you are able to hold back the tears.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Must Read

Others have already linked to it, most notably (because that's where I first linked from) American Digest, then Melanie Phillips. David Mamet, in the Village Voice, offers an essay he calls: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'. It's beautiful. It's concise and intelligent. I'm sure liberals and progressives hate it. Some of his story is also my story. I've read it twice so far.
I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances—that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired—in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.

For the Constitution, rather than suggesting that all behave in a godlike manner, recognizes that, to the contrary, people are swine and will take any opportunity to subvert any agreement in order to pursue what they consider to be their proper interests.

I also read his book, The Wicked Son. It's kind of a polemic on Antisemitism and anti-Semitic Jews. It's not for everybody, but it was one of those books that I had to pick up and read immediately.

I once heard a conservative comedian on the radio tell the audience something to the effect that he used to be a liberal. Then he learned to read.

Once I was headed in that direction, reading Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, F. A. Hayak, Victor Hanson, Eric Hoffer, Robert Kaplan, and Daniel Boorstin helped clarify my thinking. But I'm still reading. I'm a slow learner.

As I was examining links to include in this post, I came upon this one, in which a liberal reviewer laments Mamet's change and wonders if his writing will suffer because of it. Of course we know that talent is function of one's liberalality and that the amount of talent one has is directly proportional to how progressive one is. What a dope. I'm betting that Mamet's change in thought will change the thoughts of this and other reviewers.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Writing the Truth About Palestinian Society - Sort of

It took the massacre of 10 teenage Jewish seminary students to do it, but some news outlets are actually seeing fit to condemn the Palestinians. Not all, even in their denunciations though, can bring themselves to use the word "terrorist" to describe Palestinian - uh - terrorists. For example, read the following column by Nolan Finley of the Detroit News.
No matter what atrocities are committed in their name, the Palestinians never forfeit their victim status.

Last week, a gunman burst into a Jerusalem seminary and sprayed it with bullets, killing eight Jewish students and wounding nine. The victims were teenagers and young adults. They weren't soldiers. They were innocents studying to be men of peace. And Palestinians danced in the streets over their deaths.

Did you hear a whisper of protest from the United Nations? Notice any words of denunciation from the European Union? Did the American college professors lobbying to promote suicide bombers to "sacrifice" bombers find anything unseemly about the Gaza jubilation?

All rose rapidly in condemnation when Israel finally lost patience with the relentless barrage of rockets fired into its southern cities by Hamas, demanding the Israelis remove their tanks and troops from the Gaza Strip. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice fretted that Israel would derail her ill-conceived peace process.

But Israel acted in response to unprovoked attacks on its civilians. It did so only after enduring months of daily rocket assaults aimed indiscriminately at homes, hospitals and schools. It was motivated only by self-defense.

The Palestinians who fired the rockets and shot the guns can make no such claims to justify their actions. They are aggressors, aiming to provoke.

And why not? The Palestinians have used violence to further their political goals without consequence. They engage in the genocidal brainwashing of their children, and their supporters pretend it's just harmless rhetoric.

No matter how heinously they behave, no connection is ever drawn between their affinity for bloodshed and the suffering of their people.

Instead, whatever they do is excused as the legitimate response of an oppressed people, and they are time and again brought back into the fold.

No wonder they continue to kill.

There is an unspoken expectation that Israel must endure steady assaults on its sovereignty and security so as not to upset the rotten apple cart that is the Middle East.

The promise is that if Israel sits on its hands and ignores the thousand cuts, it will someday have peace.

What other country would agree to such a flimsy trade-off? What other people would tolerate a shower of bombs without responding?

Israel's reluctant resignation to the violence has not brought it any closer to peace. The only thing that has curtailed the attacks is the construction of a wall between Israel and its tormentors, and even that is denounced, as if there's something unfair about not opening your doors to your would-be killers.

Israel should be permitted -- encouraged -- to sweep the Gaza Strip clean of Hamas and the other militant groups, and should be able to respond to attacks the way any other country would -- by smashing its attackers.

Coddling killers only invites more killing. Those who long for peace in the Middle East must accept that to get there, the killers must be wiped away.
Those are strong words, but the word "terrorist" never shows up does it? And as much as Finley blasts the Palestinians, he still runs a regular column by local Imam Mohammed Ali Elahi, who constantly engages in the very moral inversion that Finley condemns. Why?

Once before, in the aftermath of the Gaza elections that propelled Hamas to power, Finley told the truth about Palestinians and local terror apologists were in an uproar, going so far as to try and pass a resolution in the state house condemning him. Those Islamo-Nazis and their fellow travelers don't like to be exposed as the vile hate mongers that they are. I'm waiting to see if they try the same trick this time. I hope they do, only so that people can see that they really do sanction the murder of Jews by Islamic terrorists. I'm guessing that if they do go on the attack, they will try and camouflage their desire with talk of condemning all terrorism against all innocent people; and yes, this was a tragedy, but-

They always find a way to justify killing Jews.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Basic Economics, Part 2

Well, I finally finished the book, Basic Economics . . . about a week ago. It's just taken me this long to find the time to write a brief post on it.

After finishing it, I think that it's even more worth reading than I did in the first post. Yes, Sowell does repeat himself at times, using the same story to illustrate more than one point, but the fact remains that he makes a great case for free markets over a controlled economy. But we've seen that. Think of the differences between East and West Germany, North and South Korea, Eastern and Western Europe, Cuba and the United States. Don't forget Taiwan and Hong Kong vs. China. Which way were people running? Who was killing people in order to stop their escape from workers' utopias? And then there's the rise of Singapore, while the countries around it remain mired in poverty. The fact that there are some in government and media who still want us to believe that the economy can be brought under control without destroying it, makes me wonder if these intellectuals are half as smart as they think they are. Who are they trying to kid?

The chapters on "Market Myths" and government meddling are worth rereading. Except you (or at least I did) end up getting angry that special interests are allowed to feed off of the rest of us in the interest of "fair trade" and "preserving American jobs". Why do special interests have so much power anyway? It's because the government has too much control over the economy as it is. They have created a system that fosters corruption, that has industries battling each other for government largess. In creating tariffs in order to protect jobs in the American steel industry, more jobs were lost than were protected due to artificially high steel costs. Why is sugar so expensive? Because of tariffs leveled against foreign sugar? Remember the gas lines under Jimmy Carter in the late 70s? They were because of laws capping the price of gasoline. Power shortages in California? Same cause, different politicians. Why do our leaders do this? In order to buy votes of course. Their first loyalty is to themselves.

Both Obama and Hillary are out to kill the goose that laid the golden egg in their rush to redistribute wealth from those who earned it to those who want it. They're going to kill us with Universal "Health Care." One of the biggest points Sowell makes is that all of these schemes to "level the playing field" and to end "exploitation" of the poor by the rich, price controls, wage controls, have all been tried numerous times throughout history, and they've led to increased misery and suffering every time. A major theme throughout the book is that there is a reason that things have prices. And if we allow the government or any organization, even if they pretend that they are benevolent, to raise or lower prices or wages according to whim, they will skew the market and cause shortages and worse chaos than there was before the meddlers began "fixing" things. You know what else? The Great Depression was not a failure of Capitalism, It was a failure of government. These are all facts and concepts that aren't taught in our schools, so people don't know. They're open to every demagogue who promises to make life easier and increase their wealth at the expense of the "evil greedy capitalist."

OK, that's it. No more posts on this book. I've said everything I have to say . . . I think. Now go out and read it.

P.S. Over at American Digest, there is an interesting post that relates directly to all of this and gives another reason . . . not . . . to . . . vote . . . for . . . O - b - a - m - a. Or will it be O'Bama for St. Patrick's Day?

And who is more of a Lady Macbeth? Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama?

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

More Reasons Not to Vote for Obama

Is he going to renegotiate NAFTA or not? As two articles from American Thinker show, not even Obama knows for sure. They do show, however, that he is a foreign and economic policy dolt. For example, in the first article by Thomas Lifson,
After suggesting that he would invade our ally Pakistan and talk to our enemy Iran, Barack Obama has moved on to potentially damage our relations with Canada, our friendly neighbor and number one foreign oil supplier.

Under the terms of NAFTA, Canada is prohibited from cutting off oil exports to the US if there is a worldwide shortage or supply disruption unless supplies are also rationed to Canadian consumers by the same amount.

After the Hillary/Obama debate, Canada's trade minister pointed out that if NAFTA is re-opened, Canada might want to opt out of this clause, which would then leave Canada free to sell its oil to any other country for whatever price it could get.

Both Clinton and Obama have made a big issue out President Bush's alleged insensitivies to other countries. And now these two geniuses are blithely talking about canceling a trade agreement with our two neighbors on which both their economies now depend.
But, as Rick Moran reports, he may have only been kidding,
This is all the more incredible because it has now been confirmed.

At Tuesday night's debate, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama traded charges that the other was not serious about reforming NAFTA - the North American Free Trade Agreement. Unions have been up in arms about the treaty for years because it rewards the mostly non union labor in Mexico while taking union jobs away from Americans - at least in theory. There have been no definitive studies showing NAFTA is a negative for the American worker.

Regardless, both candidates trashed the agreement and said they would reopen it to renegotiation. But Obama went a step further; according to Canadian TV he actually had one of his primary aides get in touch with the Canadian government and assure them that Obama was just demagoguing the issue and that he would not press for any major changes.

The Obama camp denied this story and called it a smear. Evidently CTV doesn't like being referred to as a liar because they have released the information that the Obama camp couldn't afford to have out there - the name of the Obama aide who spoke to the Canadian government:
Or maybe he's just too busy perfecting his planned invasion of Pakistan to give much thought to NAFTA.

Equally as troubling, is Obama's relationship to his mentor, the anti-Semitic, Pastor Jeremiah Wright, Jr, also covered at American Thinker.

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