Quote of the day

June 30, 2008

John Bolton, on the Administration’s nuclear deal with North Korea:

The only good news is that there is little opportunity for the Bush administration to make any further concessions in its waning days in office. But for many erstwhile administration supporters, this is a moment of genuine political poignancy. Nothing can erase the ineffable sadness of an American presidency, like this one, in total intellectual collapse.

Ouch!  Feeling beat up

(hat tip: RCP)



Asked and answered

June 30, 2008

I asked yesterday who would stand for the people of Zimbabwe against their murderous tyrant, Robert Mugabe, and argued that, ideally, the African nations themselves should take the lead. Today, those nations gave their answer: Zimbabwe can go to Hell.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe presented himself before fellow African leaders Monday hours after claiming victory in a violent Zimbabwean election, confronting African critics who call his 28-year rule increasingly illegitimate.

Mugabe, 84, flew to the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to take his seat among heads of state at a summit of the 53-nation African Union.

His appearance poses one of the most divisive challenges in years for the African bloc. Several African leaders are urging their counterparts to reject the results of Friday’s Zimbabwean election and impose sanctions, send peacekeepers or compel Mugabe to enter a government with the country’s opposition.

"This is a moment of truth for regional leaders," Asha-Rosa Migiro, deputy secretary general of the United Nations, told the African heads of state at the summit’s opening. Migiro called Zimbabwe’s crisis "the single greatest challenge to regional stability in southern Africa."

Both England and France on Monday urged the African Union to take a tough line with Mugabe. In Beijing, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States would press the U.N. Security Council for action, but said the African Union should take the lead at its current meeting, wire services reported. The union was also prodded by a group of global "elder statesmen" that included retired South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.N. secretarygeneral Kofi Annan.

Mugabe strolled into the summit hall without fanfare. Leaders of Egypt, Tanzania and Uganda walked alongside him.

So much for "international urgings." The situation in Zimbabwe isn’t even on the agenda at the conference, and his fellow dictators presidents are reluctant to bring it up for fear of calling their own legitimacy into question. Most disappointing and indeed sickening of all is South Africa, which owes the end of apartheid to international pressure to end White minority rule.

Ed at Hot Air asks a good question: Since we’ve poured billions into aid for Africa, to the benefit of these now-silent "leaders," why on Earth should we continue to aid them when they refuse to take any responsibility for their own region? Better the money should to to organizations that bypass governments altogether so that more of the money actually reaches the people it’s meant to help, rather than line the pockets of corrupt, craven dictators.

LINKS: Indeed, his brother-leaders at the AU summit hailed Mugabe as a hero.

You’re kidding? (I hope…)

June 29, 2008

Is Google, owner of Blogspot, shutting down anti-Obama blogs?

If true … wow.

(hat tip: Tigerhawk)

UPDATE: More at Bloggasm. (h/t Sister Toldjah)


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Silly Sunday

June 29, 2008

The nanny-state provides such rich material for satire. Take these three examples, all courtesy of Blue Crab Boulevard:

In Britain, local councils clearly have their priorities straight: potholes? Nope. Dilapidated neighborhoods? Nah. Improved local services? Don’t be silly! Focusing on what the British people need most, these local pols are set to regulate the number of holes in a salt-shaker:

Research has suggested that slashing the holes from the traditional 17 to five could cut the amount people sprinkle on their food by more than half.

And so at least six councils have ordered five-hole shakers – at taxpayers’ expense – and begun giving them away to chip shops and takeaways in their areas.

Leading the way has been Gateshead Council, which spent 15 days researching the subject of salty takeaways before declaring the new five-hole cellars the solution.

Officers collected information from businesses, obtained samples of fish and chips, measured salt content and ‘carried out experiments to determine how the problem of excessive salt being dispensed could be overcome by design’.

They decided that the five-hole pots would reduce the amount of salt being used by more than 60 per cent yet give a ‘visually acceptable sprinkling’ that would satisfy the customer.

The council commissioned Drywite Ltd – a catering equipment company based in the West Midlands – to make five-hole shakers and bought 1,000 of them at a cost of £2,000, giving them away to fast-food outlets in their areas.

Whew! I was afraid they were wasting public money…. Tongue

Also from the Motherland, a shipment of Chilean kiwi fruit was rejected because it didn’t meet European Union standards: they were one millimeter too small.

Tim Down, a market trader for 25 years, said he was not permitted even to give away the 5,000 Chilean fruits, each of which is about the size of a small hen’s egg and weighs about 60g.

Mr Down said his family run firm would lose several hundred pounds in sales because of the ban.

“It is bureaucratic nonsense, they are perfectly fit to eat,” Mr Down said at his stall at the Wholesale Fruit Centre in Bristol. Inspectors from the Rural Payments Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), made a random check on his stall, and found a number of his kiwis weighed 58g, four grams below the required minimum of 62g.

Mr Down said that 4g in weight was the equivalent of about one millimeter in diameter.

He said: “They (the inspectors) went through a lot of my stock using their own little scales.

Monty Python, where are you when we need you?

Finally, the topper comes from Sweden: a local school confiscated the birthday party invitations a young student was distributing because he didn’t invite two of his classmates, and now the matter has become a subject of parliamentary inquiry:

The boy’s school says he has violated the children’s rights and has complained to the Swedish Parliament.

The school, in Lund, southern Sweden, argues that if invitations are handed out on school premises then it must ensure there is no discrimination.

The boy’s father has lodged a complaint with the parliamentary ombudsman.

And if that fails, there’s always the European Court of Human Rights. You laugh — just wait. Big Grin

(Hat-tip also to reader John of Shikoku)


Compelling national interest

June 29, 2008

Like John at Power Line, I don’t generally believe in a resort to arms absent a compelling national interest*. However, sometimes simple humanitarianism and compassion for those in misery requires direct action, as it does now, in Zimbabwe:

A baby boy had both legs broken by supporters of President Robert Mugabe to punish his father for being an opposition councillor in Zimbabwe.

Blessing Mabhena, aged 11 months, was seized from a bed and flung down with force as his mother, Agnes, hid from the thugs, convinced that they were about to murder her.

She heard one of them say, “Let’s kill the baby”, before Blessing was hurled on to a bare concrete floor.

Blessing, who may never be able to walk properly, was one of the youngest victims of atrocities against the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change in the run-up to last Friday’s sham presidential election.

(Emphasis added)

Who then will stand for the people of Zimbabwe? The EU and Zimbabwe’s former colonial master, Britain? They’ve spent so much time degrading their military capabilities that the idea of an EU intervention is laughable, even discounting their aversion to anything other than holding another meeting. Us? Our dance card is full as it is with Afghanistan and Iraq, though it might come to that in the end.

Ideally, the nations around Zimbabwe would act to end this horror. But, as Ed at Hot Air has pointed out, President Mbeki of South Africa has repeatedly covered for the tyrant to the north. As the dominant regional power South Africa should be taking the lead. Instead, it does nothing. Given South Africa’s recent history of benefiting from foreign pressure to end the tyrannical apartheid regime, one can almost cut the irony with a knife.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s nightmare continues.

*(Yes, I believed then and do now that we had a compelling national interest in liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein. For a comprehensive analysis that holds up even in the absence of WMDs, look here.)


Worth reading

June 28, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson on things that don’t add up:

That the World’s Saint, Mr. Gore, who lectures on carbon emissions and green behavior, built an ecological monstrosity of a castle that gulps energy at gargantuan rates; while the world’s villain, George Bush, built an eco-friendly, far more modest house that uses a fourth less power than the average home. But then when one compares the Kerry homes, the Edwards playhouse, and all the other liberal mansions, it makes sense. Modern liberalism for our elites is really a psychological state, in which an individual crafts an all-encompassing world view in the abstract to offset a rather materialistic and self-centered desire in the concrete. Here in California Sens. Boxer and Feinstein, and Rep Pelosi live like the privileged they are, while decrying the plight of the less fortunate. Someone who forbids drilling in ANWR rarely decides to down-size her home. A Senator Dodd who rails at the mortgage lenders’ greed has no problem taking a cut-rate loan from them–if it is a question of buying appropriate homes for his sixty-something efforts at establishing a young family. Hypocrisy is a human, not a political sin per se, but something about the combination of neo-socialist politics and extremely elite personal tastes suggests that there is a direct rather than an accidental connection—in the mind at least the former making possible the latter.

A victory for free speech in Canada

June 27, 2008

Under tremendous pressure (and ridicule) for their persecution of Canadians for exercising their rights to free speech, the Orwellian British Columbia Canadian "Human Rights Commission" has dropped all charges against Mark Steyn and Maclean’s magazine. As Ezra Levant, another victim of the HRC’s star chamber, writes:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission, like any petty tyranny, has a strong instinct for survival. As I predicted last week on the Michael Coren Show, that instinct would cause them to drop the complaint against Mark Steyn and Maclean’s. And so they did.

With an RCMP investigation, a Privacy Commission investigation and a pending Parliamentary investigation, they’re already fighting a multi-front P.R. war, and losing badly. Not a day goes by when the CHRC isn’t pummelled in the media. Holding a show trial of Maclean’s and Steyn, like the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal did earlier this month, would be writing their own political death sentence.

So they blinked. Against everything in their DNA, they let Maclean’s go. That’s the first smart thing they’ve done; because the sooner they can get the public scrutiny to go away, the sooner they can go about prosecuting their less well-heeled targets, people who can’t afford Canada’s best lawyers and command the attention and affection of the country’s literati.

Be sure to read the update at Ezra’s site for the difference between the Human Rights Commissions and the Human Rights Tribunal: the former are the "prosecutors" who charge and the latter are the "judges." In this case, the British Columbia HRC refused to continue the auto da fe prosecution of Steyn and Maclean’s, thus they never went before the judges, who have a 100% conviction rate.

Stalin would have loved that.

(hat tip: LGF)

LINKS: More at Hot Air.

UPDATE: I goofed. It was the federal Canadian Human Rights Commission that dropped the investigation. Steyn and Macleans still face the Political Correctness Inquisition in British Columbia.