Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Bush to Reporters: Lighten Up
As seen at today's Best of the Web, this remarkable anecdote from Holly Bailey, writing in Newsweek:
I Have Had My Differences With Members of the Press. But it's Nothing That Burying them Under Tons of Earth Won't SolveDoes President Bush have it in for the press corps? Touring a Caterpillar factory in Peoria, Ill., the Commander in Chief got behind the wheel of a giant tractor and played chicken with a few wayward reporters. Wearing a pair of stylish safety glasses--at least more stylish than most safety glasses--Bush got a mini-tour of the factory before delivering remarks on the economy. "I would suggest moving back," Bush said as he climbed into the cab of a massive D-10 tractor. "I'm about to crank this sucker up." As the engine roared to life, White House staffers tried to steer the press corps to safety, but when the tractor lurched forward, they too were forced to scramble for safety."Get out of the way!" a news photographer yelled. "I think he might run us over!" said another. White House aides tried to herd the reporters the right way without getting run over themselves. Even the Secret Service got involved, as one agent began yelling at reporters to get clear of the tractor. Watching the chaos below, Bush looked out the tractor's window and laughed, steering the massive machine into the spot where most of the press corps had been positioned. The episode lasted about a minute, and Bush was still laughing when he pulled to a stop. He gave reporters a thumbs-up. "If you've never driven a D-10, it's the coolest experience," Bush said afterward. Yeah, almost as much fun as seeing your life flash before your eyes.
Perhaps I'm misjudging the poor woman. But I have a feeling that Mr. Bush's predecessor would not have gotten this treatment; he would have been called "playful", or "carefree", or some such. He certainly would not have received a totally-unfounded accusation involving "burying [people] under tons of earth".
Honestly, I don't think the President was feeling homicidal. I suspect he was just experiencing what many men occasionally do -- hey look, there's a really cool big machine, let's fire it up and drive it around a bit! (In the process, he was also disproving the accusation that used to be standard about him -- that he's "all hat and no cowboy". Clearly, the man doesn't mind getting his hands dirty.)
I mean, have a look at the Wikipedia photo, which Ms. Bailey helpfully links. Doesn't that look like fun?
And frankly... given what the press, Newsweek included, has been writing about him these past six years, I'm glad to hear that he still has a sense of humor.
Of course, if Ms. Bailey finds the Presidential beat too nerve-wracking for her, she could always ask for a transfer. For example, she could cover Dick Cheney's hunting expeditions.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
"Welcome to Palestine"
Caroline Glick, an editor of the Jerusalem Post, has written a disturbing new editorial there:
In the world of international diplomacy few issues receive more wall-to-wall support than the notion that it is essential to establish a Palestinian state. Leaders worldwide are so busy speaking of how essential it is for a State of Palestine to be founded that none of them seems to have noticed that it already exists.(emphasis added)
This state was officially founded in the summer of 2005, when Israel removed its military forces and civilian population from the Gaza Strip and so established the first wholly independent Palestinian state in history. Israel's destruction of four Israeli communities in Northern Samaria and curtailment of its military operations in the area set the conditions for statehood in that area as well.
And so it is that as statesmen and activists worldwide loudly proclaim their commitment to establishing the sovereign State of Palestine, they miss the fact that Palestine exists. And it is a nightmare.
She does not provide references, so fact-checking her assertions is difficult. But the assertions themselves -- on what conditions are like among Palestinians today -- are alarming.
Of course, neither [Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni nor [Israeli Defense Minister Amir] Peretz, who insist that Israel's most urgent priority is to establish Palestine, is willing to recognize that Palestine exists already. They refuse to acknowledge what we already know: Palestine is a terror state and an economic basket case fully funded by the international community. Indeed, over the past year since Hamas won the Palestinian elections, international assistance to the Palestinians has increased dramatically.Read the whole thing. And remember where those Palestinian funds come from.
As Ibrahim Gambari, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, noted last Thursday, official Western aid to the Palestinians, not including Arab and Iranian support for Hamas and Fatah, increased by 10 percent in 2006 over 2005, and stood at $1.2 billion.
The Palestinians, who receive more aid per capita than any people on earth, are needy not because they lack funds. They are poor because they prefer poverty, violence and war to prosperity, peace and moderation. So it is that 57 percent of Palestinians support terror attacks against Israel.
(Hat tip: Israpundit.)
More Self-Parody: "Poop for Peace"
Every time I get to thinking that, hmm, maybe the American peace movement should be taken more seriously, I come across something like this.
Is this for real, or is this a parody? No, it looks like people are taking it seriously -- here are instructions, from two years ago, for, uh, expressing your desire for world peace.
Personally, it looks to me just like a simplistic perception that War Is Bad, Dude, coupled with a juvenile desire to feel that you're Doing Something About It -- by giving a special name to something you were doing anyway. But I'm just a warmongering neocon Zionist; what do I know? (Answer: I may not know much, but I have enough dignity to keep my excretions private, thanks.)
Hat tip: LGF. (And thanks to my lovely wife for calling it to my attention.)
Monday, January 29, 2007
I Support President Bush
It seems to me that I hear those four words far too infrequently these days. For a nation at war, that's just not right.
I support President Bush. Period. No qualifications, no "if only he would...", no "except for" pet peeves.
President Bush is the Commander in Chief of the United States armed forces. Those forces are fighting a war on our behalf, the outcome of which will determine the course of Western civilization for decades to come -- perhaps even centuries to come. If we don't want Islamic sha'aria imposed upon us, if we don't want to have to worry about daily Islamofascist terror attacks at our local supermarkets, then we need to support the President who is fighting these things.
Do I agree with the President on everything? Hell, no! I still cringe every time he says "nucular". "Intelligent design", I firmly believe, is a singularly bad idea. I still don't know what on Earth Bush was thinking with the UAE ports deal, and I'm relieved that the issue was taken out of his hands. The ever-growing Federal Government, which has grown tremendously on Bush's watch, truly alarms me. The list goes on.
But when your very survival is at stake, other issues become secondary. This is not the time to debate a higher minimum wage; rather, we should ensure the long-term survival of a country that can afford such things. And debating the merits of legalized gay marriage seems irrelevant, when we're fighting a war against an ideology that prefers its homosexuals dead.
Orson Scott Card, as is his wont, puts the matter quite well:
I'm a Democrat -- a Scoop Jackson, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Joseph Leiberman Democrat. The kind that believes freedom is worth fighting for -- both our freedom of other people's as well.Indeed. We are now hearing, more and more, from both sides of the aisle, about "symbolic resolutions" to express disapproval of President Bush's management of the war, and of our national security. This is the equivalent of a passenger trying to wrestle the controls away from the driver. (Perhaps the passenger is a better driver; perhaps the current crisis could be handled better. But you don't switch drivers in the middle of a crisis, and you don't joggle his elbow; you help as much as you can, and then you stay out of his way.)
The kind that places the interest of the American people and, yes, of the world at large over the temporary political advantage that can be derived from attacking a President in wartime.
So when I watch Democratic leaders completely ignore the security interests of the United States in order to engage in cheap sloganeering ("bring our boys home!") and demagoguery, I am filled with shame and rage.
Are they really so completely ignorant of history that they do not realize the golden opportunity we have, and the disastrous consequences of not seizing it?
. . .
The Left always wants someone to "do something," but never wants to do anything that works. And never wants to admit that President George W. Bush has ever done anything right.
Well, he has; and the Democrats right now are doing something dangerously wrong. Every word they say strengthens and encourages our enemies, while discouraging and weakening our friends and allies in the Middle East. They are the best weapon Al Qaeda and the murderous Iranian and Syrian governments have against us. Every time they open their mouths in their misleading and deceptive attacks on Bush and demands for unilateral withdrawal from Iraq, they are helping ensure the future deaths of Americans and others, at home and abroad.
As Card points out, publicly challenging the President on his wartime leadership is not just speech; it actively emboldens our enemies. Our soldiers in the field are demoralized by knowing that their Congress does not support them or their mission -- and the terrorists see that demoralization, and are encouraged by it. This can, and will, result in the deaths of more American troops.
I can only wonder how our elected representatives, with their impassioned speeches against the President's new plan -- while presenting no reasonable alternative of their own -- would respond, if they only knew that their words made the deaths of Americans more likely, not less, as a direct consequence.
As a result, I have signed the pledge. And I want to declare, now more than ever, unequivocally and without reservation --
I support President Bush.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Greetings to both of my regular readers! (Or to the one regular reader I have left, as the case may be.)
My apologies for the long hiatus; I've been busy with various non-blogging activities ("life", in other words). But perhaps it's time to get back in the saddle again... and where better to start than some ripe low-hanging fruit.
Or perhaps low-hanging fruit is a bit too close for comfort. It seems that an Israeli promotional event is causing widespread panic in southern Lebanon. Specifically, an Israeli local paper, called Ha'Ir, chose to use green helium balloons with their logo on them... and, after they were released, some of them blew across the border into Lebanon.
So now there are Lebanese who are being rushed to the hospital for suspicious symptoms, after inhaling the contents of these helium balloons. Lebanon's government-controlled news agency, al-Manar, is calling them "poisoned balloons" and claiming that they were dispersed by Israeli military aircraft. Some of the balloons have been exploded by the Lebanese army; others have been passed over to Italian UN troops for "examination".
(Thanks to Ha'aretz for the explanation; I don't read Arabic, I'm afraid. There is an English-language version of al-Manar, but it doesn't have the Green Balloon story yet; I'll have to check back again tomorrow.)
There's just so much wrong with this story, it's hard to know where to begin. Israel now stands accused of trying to poison innocent Lebanese... using helium balloons? (Only this past summer, remember, Israel was bombing Hizb'allah strongholds throughout southern Lebanon, and was criticized mercilessly for it. Are we to assume that the Israeli generals have started a "balloons, not bombs" campaign?)
And innocent Lebanese are now supposed to be stupid enough to pick up strange balloons, with Hebrew writing on them, and breathe them? (As my lovely wife points out, Israeli children are cautioned, practically as soon as they learn to walk, not to approach "suspicious objects". But in Lebanon we seem to have adults opening up strange balloons and inhaling the contents, just to see what would happen... and then blaming Israel for the results.)
It almost seems superfluous to point out that, if Israel ever did want to use, uh, helium balloons as an offensive weapon -- well, why on Earth would they be "dispersed" from Israeli military aircraft?
Please, just take a moment and picture this with me. We imagine a two-seater F-16, painted in Israeli colors and armed to the teeth, flying at several hundred miles per hour over the northern Galilee. The warcraft crosses the border into Lebanese airspace. Both pilot and navigator are remaining cool, prepared to react with split-second timing, ready for anything. And then, at a predetermined instant, a target is reached and the pilot says, "bombs away, Shmuel"... at which point the navigator, feeling like an idiot, releases several dozen green helium balloons. The balloons float serenely above the Lebanese landscape while the F-16 makes its getaway. Perhaps a half-hour later, a Lebanese couple, out for a stroll, look up; the woman says, "Look, Mahmoud, what do you suppose that is?" Mahmoud replies, "I don't know, it looks like some sort of strange green balloon with Hebrew writing on it. Let's pop it and take a sniff."
Unbelievable. Does the need to blame Israel know any bounds at all?
I do hope that Israelis exhibit their usual sense of humor about this. I could easily imagine an Israeli in a clown outfit, with a package of green balloons and a tank of helium and nothing better to do on his day off, driving up to the Lebanese border and having fun. ("You want helium balloons? I'll show you some helium balloons!")
UPDATE: A day later, the Green Balloons story still does not appear on the English-language al-Manar site. The original story, datelined January 27 2007, still appears on the Arabic-language site. A quick search on Google News finds 22 articles on the subject, including this Jerusalem Post article:
Balloons drifting from Israel into southern Lebanon sparked a panic among villagers over the weekend amid rumors they were filled with poison gas. The balloons were apparently part of an advertising campaign by a newspaper in northern Israel.I'd suggest "paranoia" as a likely diagnosis, Doctor.
Results of tests conducted by UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon showed the balloons did not contain any dangerous gases, a Lebanese security official said Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give statements to the media.
. . .
After the balloons were first discovered Saturday in the southern Lebanese town of Nabatiyeh, the Lebanese army issued a statement warning residents not to touch them, pending an investigation. Pictures of the green, orange and black balloons were splashed across newspapers over the weekend and on Monday.
The state-run National News Agency and the Al-Manar TV channel of the Hizbullah guerrilla group claimed the balloons contained toxic gas and had been dropped by Israeli military aircraft, further stoking public fears.
At least five people were hospitalized in southern Lebanon complaining of nausea, dizziness and low blood pressure following contact with the balloons, Lebanese newspaper reports and hospital officials said.
Khalil Malli, a resident of Nabatiyeh, was the first to discover the balloons, finding a bunch tied together with ribbon in his backyard. He told Lebanese media that a "suspicious smell" emanated from them and when he spotted the Hebrew writing he alerted police and journalists in the area.
Not long after, Malli and other members of his family began feeling lightheaded and nauseous and were taken to a hospital for treatment.
Rana Jouni, a journalist in southern Lebanon, reported feeling the same symptoms after a visit to the Malli home during which she took pictures of the balloons. She reported the same suspicious smell.
"About a half an hour after taking the pictures I began feeling dizzy and out of breath. Soon I couldn't breathe and then I felt my arms become numb," she told The Associated Press Monday from her bed at the Najda al-Shaabiya hospital in Nabatiyeh where she was admitted Saturday.
Dr. Samer Suleiman, an intensive care doctor at the hospital, said that although Jouni and the other patients complained of symptoms that are consistent with exposure to toxic gases, blood and urine tests did not reveal exposure to such gases.
"We have no explanation for it," Suleiman said of the contradiction between the patients' symptoms and test results.
By way of contrast, this much shorter article appeared at India e-news:
Similar reports can be found at al-Jazeera and the UAE's Gulf News. The latter is an editorial, and it recommends that the UN deal "firmly" with Israel for having "dropped" balloons that were "filled with poisonous gas". (I have to wonder -- can the Lebanese take any of this seriously? They had firm evidence, not six months ago, of just how deadly the Israeli military can be when it wants to be, against the targets it considers important. And now we're supposed to believe that the IDF is playing games with balloons?)
Israel planes dump 'suspicious green balloons' on LebanonIsraeli planes violated Lebanese airspace and dumped green balloons over the southern port city of Tyre, Lebanese security sources said. Lebanese troops cordoned off the area around the coast of Tyre Saturday and prevented people from touching the 'suspicious balloons' after reports indicated that some people were poisoned when they did.
According to sources, similar green balloons were dropped over the market town of Nabatiyeh, 54 km south of here.
Five people suffering from nausea and dizziness were brought into hospital after they touched the 'suspicious green balloons', said a hospital source.
Google News gave the al-Jazeera article top billing, by the way. (Thanks, guys.)