Archive for February, 2012

Y’All Come Back Now, Hear?

Excellent idea! Capital!!

For the first time, representatives of the Ministry of Tourism will attend the annual SBC which will take place in June in New Orleans. Southern Baptists are the second largest Christian community in the United States after the Catholic Church. In the United States there are 16 million Southern Baptists, affiliated with about 45,000 churches.

Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov: “Each year, about 11,000 delegates participate in the SBC. Christians account for up to 50% of American tourism to Israel. We believe that the new collaboration with SBC, will help promote incoming tourism and will increase the number of tourists visiting Israel, holy to three religions”.

The years 2010 and 2011 were the best years for tourism in Israel and it would appear that, according to early signs, 2012 will even surpass these records.

Not only is this a brilliant tourist ploy—you love Jesus, come see where he lived and breathed—it’s a great political ploy. And I mean that complimentarily. Israel is libeled in the press all day every day; but to have 16 million supporters and defenders in America—almost all of them voters, concentrated in just a few states—like I said: brilliant.

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Aggie, We Need a New Award!

Poor, poor Tom Friedman. Try as he might, we’re still not more like China, as he’s always wished (though give Obama credit for trying). His public shilling for the Saudi Mideast, ahem, “peace” plan somehow fell short of producing the desired result (the annihilation of Israel for the Saudis; we’ll be charitable and allow that Friedman, idiot that he is, hoped for peace).

And now this (NY Times piece if you’re counting):

After the onset of the Arab awakenings, it was reasonable to be, at worst, agnostic and, at best, hopeful about the prospect of these countries making the difficult transition from autocracy to democracy. But recently, looking honestly at the region, one has to conclude that the prospects for stable transitions to democracy anytime soon are dimming. It is too early to give up hope, but it is not too early to start worrying.

Lord knows it is not because of the bravery of the Arab youth, and many ordinary citizens, who set off these awakenings, in search of dignity, justice and freedom. No, it is because the staying power and mendacity of the entrenched old guards and old ideas in these countries is much deeper than most people realize and the frailty or absence of democratic institutions, traditions and examples much greater.

First of all, Egypt got exactly what it wanted: Islamist rule. Certainly, the military still has too big a say, but didn’t I just see a headline that the religious parties wound up taking 80% of the seats?

But this is nothing like what Friedman once envisioned last May:

May I suggest a Tahrir Square alternative? Announce that every Friday from today forward will be “Peace Day,” and have thousands of West Bank Palestinians march nonviolently to Jerusalem, carrying two things–an olive branch in one hand and a sign in Hebrew and Arabic in the other. The sign should say: “Two states for two peoples. We, the Palestinian people, offer the Jewish people a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders–with mutually agreed adjustments–including Jerusalem, where the Arabs will control their neighborhoods and the Jews theirs.”

If Palestinians peacefully march to Jerusalem by the thousands every Friday with a clear peace message, it would become a global news event. Every network in the world would be there. Trust me, it would stimulate a real peace debate within Israel–especially if Palestinians invited youth delegations from around the Arab world to join the marches, carrying the Saudi peace initiative in Hebrew and Arabic. Israeli Jews and Arabs should be invited to march as well. Together, the marchers could draw up their own peace maps and upload them onto YouTube as a way of telling their leaders what Egyptian youth said to President Hosni Mubarak: “We’re not going to let you waste another day of our lives with your tired mantras and maneuvering.”

I told you he was a shill!

He also said this:

“[Arabs] know their own human potential and it was not being in any way developed,” Friedman said. “If I got to write the ‘bill of particulars’ for all these Arab regimes, they would be guilty of the worst crime I can think of: the soft bigotry of low expectations about their own people.”

The revolution in Egypt carried particular significance, given its size and stature in the Arab world. Friedman spoke about his experiences covering the downfall of its former president, Hosni Mubarak, and the challenges still facing the country. He characterized the current transition of moving from “Middle East wholesale” to “Middle East retail.”

Whatever the [bleep] that is supposed to mean.

Friedman is the preeminent bull[bleep] artist in journalism today. That’s saying something, needless to say, as he’s got stiff competition on the Times op-ed page on his off days. But I’d say Krugman is merely a pretender, and who reads Maureen Dowd anymore?

I offer a $5 reward to the first person who can provide proof that this jerk ever once knew what he was talking about. So sure am I of my position, I’m already lighting a victory cigar with a five-dollar bill.

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Portland, OR

Kidz will be kidz

Businesses in Northeast and Southeast Portland were damaged overnight and the vandals explained their actions in e-mails, police said.

The vandalism comes ahead of a planned Occupy Portland march and rally in Portland on Wednesday afternoon as part of the Shut Down the Corporations Day of Action. The event is also known as the F29 march and organizers said they will be focusing on corporations that are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Police said at about 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, a U.S. Bank branch near S.E. Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard and S.E. Main Street had windows broken out and the ATM was damaged. Police said rocks were found inside and outside the building.

Portland is hip; they have great coffee and restaurants; they have more body tatoos and piercings than any other city in America… in short, it’s kind of a yucky place.

- Aggie

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Not As Cool As Making Water, But Still Wonderful

I’ve never heard of anything like this in the US. Have you?

- Aggie

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Water Into Wine

Maybe not a miracle, but pretty [bleeping] cool [hat tip Yerushalimey]:

Military troops around the world, no matter where they are instated, know that even with the best training, personnel and arms, they cannot survive battle if they are lacking one vital thing: water.

Among the concerns of military heads is to ensure water sources are always available, even in the most arid of places.

One Israeli company took up the challenge to ensure water can be readily available, anywhere and at any time, by extracting it from the most common of things: air.

Water-Gen, based in Rishon LeZion, Israel, specializes in water generation and water treatment technologies integrated with tactical military vehicles and ground units. Their technology extracts water from the ambient air humidity, and turns it into drinking water.

Initially, the system filters the air so that water can be extracted and accommodated in containers. Then, it is cooled and purified into drinking water. This water can be served from a tap within the system or inside the cabin.

According to the Water-Gen, the device, which can be fitted onto vehicles, produces 10-20 gallons (40-80 liters) of pure drinking water a day, even in harsh weather and field conditions. The system, which is operated by solar or electric energy, is designed to meet military needs and standards, the company adds.

The company has wide-scale pending patents for the systems and technology. In 2011, it completed a three-week experiment with US Army ground units (Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment), in which its systems provided the soldiers drinking water throughout the drills.

Ha! Suck on that!

I love the name of the website, It’s all about Israeli technology and innovation.

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Death Knell for Death Panels?

And I was so looking forward to the Fox television series!

Bipartisan legislation to repeal the healthcare law’s cost-control board sailed through a House panel on Wednesday, raising pressure on the Senate to take up the bill and dealing President Obama a political blow.

The Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee vote was 17-5, with ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) crossing the aisle to vote for repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board. There were no amendments.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) said she favors getting rid of the board but wouldn’t because the repeal bill offered no alternative for controlling Medicare costs and wasn’t paid for.

Exactly. The Empress Sebelius and her appointed panel would dispense medical justice as they saw fit, beholden to no one, and with both eyes not on the medical chart, but the bottom line.

Obama may look electorally strong now, but he’s out on a lot of skinny branches. ObamaCare could crumble; the Middle East could go up in flames (more flames, bigger flames); Fast & Furious could blow up (also more and bigger); the economy could falter (ditto).


It’s “Far From Normal”!™

For the first time I can remember, the GDP rate was revised upward last quarter (according to the Commerce Department—didn’t see that coming in an election year), but that didn’t stop Blue Ben Bernanke from preaching gloom and… well, mostly just gloom:

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke headed to Capitol Hill Wednesday to give Congress his semi-annual report on the economy, and what he had to say wasn’t exactly rosy.

The job market remains “far from normal,” household income is flat and access to credit remains too tight for many people, he said. Meanwhile, rising gas prices are likely to reduce consumer buying power and the housing market remains a drag.

This whole administration is a drag—a bummer, a buzz-kill, a downer, a killjoy.

When asked about the job market, Bernanke pointed to data that shows about 43% of America’s unemployed workers have been so for six months or more.

“The concern in particular is that people who are out of work for six months or more will be starting to lose skills,” Bernanke said. “And that’s really one reason for urgency to try to get jobs created and try and bring the economy back to a more normal labor market.”

What are you talking about, Blue Ben? We’ve been in recovery for almost three years! We grew at 3% last quarter (nudge-nudge, wink-wink). Gas prices aren’t a drag on the economy, or not just. They are administration policy! Just ask the Energy Secretary. Heck, ask the President! The only way to take the heat off the Solyndra (et al) scandal is to jack oil up to $200 a barrel.

Besides, those long-term unemployed are perfect candidates to join Food Stamp Nation, which as Jesse Jackson tells us is heaven on earth.


How Cool is This?

Pretty, pretty cool (ignore the pun):

Filmed for the first time, the icy “finger of death” is an unprecedented look at nature’s beauty — seen at it’s devastating worst.

Called a brinicle (or brine icicle), cameramen Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson used a time-lapse camera to capture this awe-inspiring event beneath the Antarctic ice shelf for the upcoming Discovery Channel special series, Frozen Planet.

“We were just blown away by how beautiful they were,” producer Kathryn Jeffs told Jeffs was in Antarctica with Miller and Anderson to capture the unique event. “We were exceptionally excited and we knew we had something that had never been filmed before, never been seen before. No one has really seen the formation of a brinicle.”

This magnificent yet terrifying phenomenon is caused by brine, or naturally occurring salt water, which tends to be denser than the surrounding seawater and has a lower freezing point. When super cold brine trickles down, the warmer seawater surrounds the cyclone with a brittle layer of ice.

When I hear the phrase “icy finger of death”, I think of Kathleen Sibelius’ thumb pointing down in reference to a case before her imperial death panel. But this is pretty scary too.


The Loving, Lovable Left

What was it Charles Blow said about Mormonism?

Let me just tell you this Mitt ‘Muddle Mouth’: I’m a single parent and my kids are amazing! Stick that in your magic underwear.


A group of socially conservative leaders is demanding Huffington Post publisher Arianna Huffington apologize for allowing a column to be published on her website that compares Catholics to pedophiles and attacks communion as a “barbaric ritual.”

In the letter dated Tuesday and obtained first by, the group — never fans of the online news site — writes that the website, recently purchased by AOL, is “complicit in bigotry” for publishing columnist Larry Doyle’s article about Rick Santorum’s Catholic faith.

“Larry Doyle’s recent anti-Catholic screed in the Huffington Post, ‘The Jesus-Eating Cult of Rick Santorum,’ is bigoted and unacceptable, and a perfect example of ‘flame-throwing, name-calling, and simplistic attack dog rhetoric’” that Huffington pledged to avoid when she launched the Huffington Post in 2005.

“His column should be taken off your site, and you should issue an apology for ever publishing such trash,” the group wrote.

Hey you Jews, stop laughing! Just because you hear this kind of crap about your faith every single day…


Good News, Bad News

The good news is Israel has the codes for Iran’s missiles:

Russia gave Israel codes for breaking Iran’s missile defense system in return for codes of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) Israel sold to Georgia, WikiLeaks claims.

The information was among 5 million emails released this week by WikiLeaks, which said it worked in cooperation with the Anonymous hacker group. The leaked information focused on the U.S.-based Stratfor global intelligence company.

A source identified as “A” was quoted in an e-mail from a Stratfor employee as having heard from a “former Mexican cop” and military analysts that “the Georgians are frantically looking for a replacement for the Israeli UAVs that were compromised.”

The bad news is that it’s news. Whatever advantage that gave Israel, it’s gone.

Thanks, Wikileaks. Every document dump they made only proved Israel’s claims of being surrounded by hostile and threatening regimes. My impression was that while every other country was embarrassed by something released, Israel just stood back, arms crossed, nodding its head as if to say “What have I been telling you?” And this is the thanks it gets.

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The Good Terrorists

Not that it matters who did it, but the terrorists allied with Israel’s peace partner, Mahmoud Abbas, just shelled Israel:

The military wing of Fatah said Tuesday that its operatives fired a locally made projectile at the Israeli city of Ashkelon.

The Al-Aqsa brigades said in a statement that the rocket was fired at 8:30 p.m. in response to Israeli attacks on Jerusalem.

“Israeli attacks on Jerusalem”? Don’t ask. It makes about as much sense as negotiating with terrorists sworn to your destruction.


The Sino-Syndrome

You all can watch your Downton Abbey or Justified or CSI: Dubuque.

I’m going to make a big bowl of popcorn and tune my TV to China. It promises to be quite a show:

Washington and Beijing disagree about the best way to handle the Syrian uprising, which is hardly surprising. What’s new is the way they are openly impugning each other’s motives. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton labeled China and Russia’s veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution against Damascus “despicable.” The Xinhua News Agency fired back that the U.S. is “harboring hegemonistic ambitions.” The spat is a harbinger of conflicts to come.

Beijing continued to hold to its authoritarian ideology, but Presidents from both parties gambled that aiding the spread of economic freedom would eventually lead to political freedom.

While China’s leaders resisted such notions internally, warning Party members against the Western plot of “peaceful evolution,” they avoided disabusing the Americans of the belief that the Communist Party could be guided toward playing a constructive role in the world. Deng Xiaoping’s maxim in foreign affairs was “conceal our capabilities and bide our time.” The implicit message was that once China became strong enough it would end the era of U.S. dominance in Asia.

At the same time, demands for democracy are building within China. This helps explain why Beijing sometimes seems to have moved away from Deng’s maxim to conceal its ambitions. China has a long history of foreign political movements inspiring domestic demands for reform. The Communist Party wants to hold back the tide of people power movements in the Middle East and protect fellow autocratic regimes, taking the lead internationally if necessary.

Beijing will pay a heavy price for doing so. Even among Chinese, support for Damascus is unpopular. By putting its ideological values above the need to constrain the Assad regime from murdering its own people, it has destroyed the myth that it is more a pragmatic than ideological power.

China’s friendships with rogue regimes have been interpreted in the West as efforts to secure resources and markets. But it is becoming clearer that Beijing actively seeks to undermine the U.S.-led order that enabled China to prosper, because the values of that order conflict with the Communist Party’s hold on power.

Chinese officials often accuse their foreign critics of having a “Cold War mentality.” While the U.S. never entirely trusted China, it also hasn’t viewed it for decades as an ideological enemy to be fought on all fronts like the Soviet Union. But if Beijing insists on pursuing the policy indicated by its support for Syria and other rogue nations, the U.S. will have no choice but to more aggressively counter Chinese influence. If not a Cold War, a Cool War is looming if China stays on its current antagonistic course.

This jibes with my own thinking: China’s foreign policy is crafted in direct opposition to ours.

As Groucho Marx sang:

I don’t know what they have to say,
It makes no difference anyway,
Whatever it is, I’m against it.
No matter what it is or who commenced it,
I’m against it.

Your proposition may be good,
But let’s have one thing understood,
Whatever it is, I’m against it.
And even when you’ve changed it or condensed it,
I’m against it.

And as Bette Davis said:

Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!


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