Egyptian jihad group calls for Christian genocide

August 14, 2012

Coptic cross

Via Raymond Ibrahim:

According to today’s issue of El Fegr, “Elements of terrorist, jihadi organizations distributed leaflets today inciting for the killing of Copts in Suez, Ismailia, and Upper Egypt, promising them [Copts] a tragic end if they do not return to the truth.”

An image of a copy of the letter appears on El Fegr’s website. Titled “An Urgent and Important Notice,” it begins by calling on “all brothers and sisters” to “kill or physically attack the enemies of the religion of Allah—the Christians in all of Egypt’s provinces, the slaves of the Cross, Allah’s curse upon them…” It proceeds to promise a monetary reward for whoever helps “achieve Allah’s rights against his enemies.”

(…)

This genocide has been called until Egypt’s Christians “return to the truth,” a reference apparently meaning that Egypt’s Christians must either embrace “the truth”—that is, Islam, which they must convert to—or else return to the truths of the religion, which holds that Christians must embrace their subhuman dhimmi status (Koran 9:29).

The ongoing persecution of religious minorities in the Muslim world is something rarely reported in our mainstream media, which instead hangs on every word about “Islamophobia” uttered by CAIR and its allies. But, unlike those claims, the persecution of Christians, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, Jews, and Buddhists in areas where Islam dominates or seeks domination is all too real — and often fatal.

One of the founding, core ideals of the United States is freedom of religion, the right to practice one’s faith -or no faith at all- without fear of punishment. We consider it a universal, unalienable right, pre-existing any government, endowed in all by Nature and Nature’s God.

It would be nice if the current administration could be bothered to speak out for that right, on behalf of those suffering genuine oppression.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Republican backstabbers* try to do to Paul Ryan what they did to Sarah Palin

August 14, 2012

Republican insiders “help” Paul Ryan

Hey, Congressman Ryan! Need some help pulling that knife out of your back that was stuck there by unnamed Republicans?

You’ve heard them on television and read them on POLITICO — cheerful, defiant statements from Republican political professionals about Mitt Romney’s bold masterstroke in tapping Paul Ryan as his running mate, and turning the 2012 presidential race into a serious, far-reaching debate about budgets and the nation’s future.

Don’t buy it.

Away from the cameras, and with all the usual assurances that people aren’t being quoted by name, there is an unmistakable consensus among Republican operatives in Washington: Romney has taken a risk with Ryan that has only a modest chance of going right — and a huge chance of going horribly wrong.

In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives — old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike — the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.

It is not that the public professions of excitement about the Ryan selection are totally insincere. It is that many of the most optimistic Republican operatives will privately acknowledge that their views are being shaped more by fingers-crossed hope than by a hard-headed appraisal of what’s most likely to happen.

And the more pessimistic strategists don’t even feign good cheer: They think the Ryan pick is a disaster for the GOP. Many of these people don’t care that much about Romney — they always felt he faced an improbable path to victory — but are worried that Ryan’s vocal views about overhauling Medicare will be a millstone for other GOP candidates in critical House and Senate races.

Let’s get to the caveats: No one is asserting that Washington operatives in either party are oracles or seers. What’s more, it is not as if there is anything like unanimity in GOP circles about the merits of the Ryan pick, though the mood of anxiety and skepticism is overwhelming.

Most of all, if you are one of those people who thinks if someone has something negative to say, they should have the guts to put their name on it, you won’t find much to impress you in this article. Nearly all the Republican professionals interviewed for this story said they would share their unfiltered views only “on background” rules of attribution.

You can guess what the criticisms are: “too young;” “too radical;” and my favorite, “not ready to be president.” As if Joe Biden is ready for anything other than a straightjacket?? If this looks familiar, it’s because this is almost exactly what was done to Sarah Palin in 2008 by anonymous DC insiders who felt threatened by a genuine reformer and someone who wasn’t “in the club.”

Now it’s Paul Ryan’s turn: another young, charismatic reformer who actually believes one can be honest with the American people about the problems we face. More worried about preserving their cushy staff and consulting jobs than dealing with our looming fiscal train wreck, Republican “pros” run to Center-Left shill Politico to make their fears known (and suck up to the other side)  –“But, oh, don’t quote me by name, but Ryan’s budget plan is just too radical, and his Medicare plan will scare the elderly, and… and… and can I still come to next week’s cocktail party?”

Bah! These “pros” make me want to puke.

Math. Doesn’t. Lie.

We are running out of time before the clock strikes midnight and we turn into a Greek pumpkin. The Republican ticket is the only one even close to offering a real solution, and yet these “wise old hands” are doing everything they can to tear it down — and for what? So they can a have a frisson of excitement from playing “Secret Source?” For a pat on the head and a reassurance that they’re still important?

As a friend suggested, I wonder how many of these “loyal-but” Republicans are ex-McCain campaign staffers?

God save us from our enemies, for our “allies” are bad enough.

RELATED: A similar story in The Hill. Ed Morrissey reports on an IBD article that argues Ryan’s plan is hardly radical, no matter what pants-wetting Republican insiders might say.

*I had another word in mind, beginning with “chicken,” but this is a family show.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Nancy Pelosi opens mouth, reaffirms she is a partisan hack idiot

August 13, 2012

Let me tell you another fairy tale…

The House Oversight Committee, headed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA (There are some of us left)), has filed a civil suit against Attorney General  Eric Holder to force release of subpoenaed documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal that the DoJ is refusing to turn over, claiming executive privilege.

Now, you may think what we’re seeing is a constitutional clash between equal branches of the government, each trying to assert its independence from the other. Or maybe you think this is a valiant effort to get at the truth that’s being blocked by a near-criminal Attorney General and his “Chicago Way” president. (1)

Don’t be silly, silly. It’s all about suppressing minority voters.

No, really. Nancy said so:

Democratic lawmakers blasted the filing of a federal lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi charging that the effort is an attempt to suppress voter rights.

“This partisan lawsuit wastes taxpayer dollars and resources, and is a distraction from the urgent business before Congress: acting to create jobs and grow our economy,” she said in a statement. “It is also designed to distract the Justice Department from its critical job of challenging state laws designed to restrict the rights of Americans to vote.”

So, there you go.  Yet another example of “Democrats think you’re so stupid and gullible, they can say anything and you’ll believe it.” Because everything is racism.

Really, there has to be someone left among Democrats who’s embarrassed by this moron.

I hope?

RELATED: Earlier posts on Operation Fast and Furious.

Footnote:
(1) Guess which one I believe.

via Steve in TN


Kurtz: Don’t expect the culture wars to end any time soon

August 13, 2012

Rock’em-Sock’em Politics?

National Review’s Stanley Kurtz (1) looks at the “Red/Blue map” of America that first became famous in the 2000 election, then considers the current race with its sharp ideological contrast between Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan, and comes to the conclusion that our ideological war over the nature of the United States is only going to get sharper and louder before it ever gets better: “Two Tickets, Two Americas.”

First we need to understand that our political divisions are real and growing. They are rooted not in top-down political rhetoric but in profound and lasting social and cultural differences. For a while, analysts tended to make light of our polarization, fruitlessly predicting year after year that our culture war (still raging) was just about to end. If anything, the culture wars have expanded now to include the whole of politics. It used to be that only arguments over gay marriage or abortion were stigmatized as moral abominations. Now even differences over health care reform and the deficit are super-charged with moral accusation.

Whichever way this election goes, these divisions will only deepen. Fundamentally, this is because what President Obama and the increasingly left-leaning coalition he leads actually want is impossibly far from what red America is willing to accept. Until very recently, this gulf has been hidden by Obama’s refusal to level with the American people about his goals. What the public still doesn’t understand, despite the president’s somewhat more open left-turn of late, is just how far left his second-term agenda aims to go. I’ve laid out some of it here, and Americans are simply not prepared for what is about to hit us should Obama win. So while an Obama victory would indeed allow the president to entrench some of his most controversial policies, his restless tendency to push things ever further to the left will almost certainly generate dynamic new movements of opposition.

Kurtz goes on to point out that a Romney victory, even if a landslide as I and others believe possible, won’t end this struggle. The Left has had a taste of what it can achieve and, controlling as it does the still-dominant culture-shaping media, it will likely see a conservative win as only a temporary setback.

Hang on to your hats; this ride has only just begun.

Footnote:
(1) Kurtz is the author of, so far, two great books about Obama: “Radical in Chief,” a political biography of Obama that I reviewed here, and “Spreading the Wealth,” which looks into Obama’s plans for a second term and which I’m currently reading.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Napolitano’s DHS: another sex-discrimination lawsuit filed

August 13, 2012

Following up on this item, I think we’re starting to see a pattern:

A second employee at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is suing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano over claims his career was curtailed due to anti-male bias at the agency, The Post has learned.

Jason Mount alleges in court papers that he was denied 43 promotions because he’s a white male and that he took a lower-grade job because of “how serious the discrimination and retaliation had become.”

Mount, 37, filed suit on July 31, about two months after ICE official James Hayes Jr. sued Napolitano for $3 million for allegedly pushing him out of a top job in Washington, DC, to make way for Dora Schriro, later named New York City’s jails commissioner.

(…)

His DC federal court filing details dozens of incidents in which he was allegedly passed over for promotions despite being fully qualified.

The litany of allegations include Mount’s September 2010 application to fill an assistant-special-agent-in-charge, or ASAC, post with Homeland Security Investigations in Boston.

Despite receiving “a rating of 100 percent on the knowledge, skills and abilities rating factors for the position,” Mount says, he was never contacted “to take part in an interview or further selection activities.”

Instead, court papers say the job went to a woman who was one step lower than Mount on the federal civil-service pay scale.

In addition, the woman, Linda Hunt, hadn’t completed an 18-month tour of duty at HSI headquarters in Washington, which “is required to be considered for an ASAC position,” the suit says.

Because of “the severe and pervasive retaliation and discrimination,” Mount says, he “essentially committed career suicide” in December 2011 and asked for a reassignment, “stating that he would be willing to accept a downgrade” in rank and pay.

Once could be a disgruntled employee just looking for payback; twice makes that less likely and starts to indicate a pattern. What lends credibility to Mount’s claims, in my opinion, is his refusal and that of his attorney to talk to the press about the suit. Usually, I’d expect people making bogus claims to go find their nearest Gloria Allred clone and call a press conference, hoping to win in the court of public opinion and persuade the other side to settle out of court (or at least get TV appearances and a book deal), knowing their case is weak on the merits. This, on other hand, has the look of someone who wants to go before a jury.

We’ll see. It could be bogus, but my gut feeling is that this is a case of smoke indicating fire. Yet another reason to elect a new administration that can bring some adult supervision to the DHS “animal house.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) Mitt Romney introduces Paul Ryan as his running mate

August 11, 2012

By now you’ve all heard that what’s been speculated widely is true: Mitt Romney has picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate. Here’s video of the Governor’s introduction of Ryan, and Ryan’s acceptance speech:

Good speeches from both men, but I really like what I heard from Ryan. Andrew Malcolm provides the transcript, but I want to highlight one part:

But America is more than just a place…it’s an idea. It’s the only country founded on an idea. Our rights come from nature and God, not government. We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.

This idea is founded on the principles of liberty, freedom, free enterprise, self-determination and government by consent of the governed.

This idea is under assault. So, we have a critical decision to make as a nation.

We are on an unsustainable path that is robbing America of our freedom and security. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The commitment Mitt Romney and I make to you is this:

We won’t duck the tough issues…we will lead!

We won’t blame others…we will take responsibility!

We won’t replace our founding principles…we will reapply them!

We will honor you, our fellow citizens, by giving you the right and opportunity to make the choice:

What kind of country do we want to have?

What kind of people do we want to be?

We can turn this thing around. Real solutions can be delivered. But, it will take leadership. And the courage to tell you the truth.

That last would be a nice change, wouldn’t it?

Ryan is right to point out that this is not just a battle over economic records, but of ideas — on the nature of the economy, the relation between citizen and government, and the very essence of America, herself. Obama himself has opened the door several times to making this a battle not just about the economy (though his record there is awful enough), but about ideas and ideology, about a choice between being a growing, vigorous United States populated by freeborn citizens, or being a senile, declining “North American Europe,” populated by wards of the state.

The choice is clear, and it’s ours.

LINKS: Twitchy has some fun with liberals who are busy pointing out something shocking — Paul Ryan is a White male!! *gasp!* The horror… Speculation on how Joe Biden is taking the news. Is this the speech that won Paul Ryan the VP nod? The first of the Romney-Ryan ads. It’s a good one. James Pethokoukis thinks Romney-Ryan would complete the Reagan Revolution. Erika Johnsen thinks Ryan is ready for his close up and provides great moments of the congressman taking down President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tax Cheat Geithner. Roger L. Simon calls it “Romney’s Gutsy Choice.”

PS: ST has announced she will be at the Romney-Ryan Charlotte event tomorrow. Expect photo ops with both men. 

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Your DHS professionals in action: maturity is a relative thing

August 10, 2012

It’s nice to see that the women’s movement in this country, at least on the Left, has come so far that they now feel free to subject their male colleagues to the same frat-house disdain and abuse they and their forebears endured:

Janet Napolitano-run Homeland Security treated male staffers like lapdogs, federal discrimination lawsuit charges

A blistering federal discrimination suit accuses agency honcho Janet Napolitano of turning the department into a female-run “frat house” where male staffers were banished to the bathrooms and routinely humiliated.

James Hayes Jr., who now is New York’s top Homeland Security cop, claims Napolitano filled top spots in Washington, D.C., with two of her gal pals who were bent on tormenting male employees.

The suit identified them as Dora Schriro, who is now running the city Department of Correction, and Suzanne Barr, the chief of staff for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Soon after Schriro and Barr were hired in January 2009, male staffers were treated like lapdogs, Hayes claims.

Barr “moved the entire contents of the offices of three employees, including name plates, computers and telephones, to the men’s bathroom at ICE headquarters,” the suit says.

Barr also stole a male staffer’s BlackBerry and fired off a message to his female supervisor indicating that he “had a crush on [her] and fantasized about her,” Hayes claims.

Sometimes, Barr took a more direct approach. In one case, she called a male colleague in his hotel room and screamed at him using sexually humiliating language, the suit says.

Hayes claims that after he reported the abuse to the Equal Employment Opportunity office, Napolitano launched a series of misconduct investigations against him.

And this is the mindset of people charged with the solemn responsibility of protecting us from another 9/11.

I feel more secure, don’t you?

Now, of course, we don’t know the truth of Mr. Hayes’ claims; he could just be an embittered ex-employee who’s just making stuff up for some reason. But it rings true. For some reason, and to put it bluntly, many on the Left lack maturity. Whether it’s vandalizing the White House or excusing people who poop on police cars — and now, it seems, workplace sexual harassment– time and again Our Betters on the Left (all bow) seem to think it’s okay for them to do things they would denounce as crimes against nature, were they committed by Republicans.

That’s not to say Republicans and conservatives don’t have their problem children, too. (John Ensign, anyone? Larry Craig?) But we, at least, usually police our own and send the offenders away. That’s because conservatives recognize that this behavior is juvenile, wrong, and unworthy of someone granted the public trust and the dignity of office.

For many on the Left, that seems to be a feature, not a bug.

via izzysroses

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


August 10, 2012

It’s like that great scene from Key Largo. What does Johnny Rocco want? He wants more: http://goo.gl/ax9Ei

(Shoot. Video linking doesn’t work on a reblog. Pooh.)

International Liberty

While I disagree with statists, I sometimes admire their discipline. They are very good at staying “on message.”

I am 100 percent confident, for instance, that they intend big tax hikes on the middle class, even though they would piously swear an oath to the contrary. Indeed, I suspect more than 90 percent of them secretly would like a value-added tax.

It’s not that they necessarily dislike ordinary people, but privately they understand that you can’t finance big government by taxing rich people.

Simply stated, there aren’t enough of the “1 percent.” Moreover, rich people have significant control over the timing, composition, and level of their income, so class-warfare tax hikes inevitably will fail to generate much revenue (yes, the Laffer Curve exists).

So it makes sense that they want to screw the middle class, but it’s also obvious that they don’t want to admit this is their…

View original post 464 more words


The Great Northern Teddy Bear War of 2012?

August 9, 2012

Agent of Swedish Imperialism

Hey, we’ve had the War of Jenkin’s Ear, why not a diplomatic row over a child’s toy?

Belarus-Sweden teddy bear row escalates

Belarus has taken strong diplomatic action against Sweden following a stunt involving parachuted teddy bears.

Sweden says all of its diplomats have been expelled from Belarus, which has also closed its embassy in Stockholm.

Belarus was angered when a Swedish public relations firm dropped about 800 teddy bears with pro-democracy messages from a light aircraft.

President Alexander Lukashenko sacked his air defence chief and head of border guards over the 4 July incident.

He told their replacements not to hesitate to use force to stop any future air intrusions from abroad.

Belarus is Europe’s last Stalinist state, run by a whack-job former Soviet apparatchik, Alexander Lukashenko. I’m sure, after he passes from the scene, they’ll be reabsorbed by increasingly authoritarian Russia. Meanwhile, I eagerly await Wolf Blitzer’s breathless reporting in a CNN special on The Teddy-Bear Crisis.

And UN observers. Mustn’t leave out the UN observers.

via Slublog

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The mess Obama inherits

August 9, 2012

Heh. 

via Dan Mitchell

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#FastAndFurious : gun used in plot to kill police chief supplied by ATF?

August 8, 2012

Someone has got a helluva lot to answer for:

A weapon tied to “Operation Fast and Furious” was seized in Tijuana in connection with a drug cartel’s conspiracy to kill the police chief of Tijuana, Baja California, who later became the Juárez police chief, according to a U.S. government report.

The firearm was found Feb. 25, 2010, during an arrest of a criminal cell associated with Teodoro “El Teo” García Simental and Raydel “El Muletas” López Uriarte, allies of the Sinaloa cartel.

Tijuana police said they arrested four suspects in March 2010 in connection with a failed attempt to take out Julián Leyzaola, and that the suspects allegedly confessed to conspiring to assassinate the police chief on orders from Tijuana cartel leaders.

The suspects had an arsenal of weapons and ammunition, and one of the firearms traced back to the operation that the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF) was monitoring from its field office in Phoenix.

Adrian Sanchez, spokesman for Leyzaola, said Leyzaola was unavailable for comment.

So far, the House Oversight Committee has laid blame for the operation on the Phoenix ATF and US Attorney’s Office for the fiasco known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” in which more than 300 Mexican citizens and at least one, perhaps two US federal officers were killed by weapons supplied by the ATF to Mexican drug cartels. However, that was only part one of the committee’s report. Parts two and three will deal with the Department of Justice’s failures and its obstruction of the committee’s investigations.

In the meantime, the thousands of firearms let loose by our government are going to be the source of a lot of misery on both sides of the border for years to come.

via Bob Owens

RELATED: Earlier posts on Operation Fast and Furious.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Fruits of the Arab Spring: peaceful, tolerant Muslim preacher pardoned?

August 7, 2012

Maybe, but the web site of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president and that of the preacher himself are doing their best to scrub the news from their sites.

Via Raymond Ibrahim, behold another consequence of Obama “Smart Power” diplomacy in Egypt:

Wagdi Ghoneim, the Islamic cleric whose many terrorist-connections and activities got him exiled from Egypt where, under Mubarak’s rule he was sentenced to do five years in prison, has, according to several Arabic news sites, just received a general pardon from Egypt’s new president, Muhammad Morsi.

Ghoneim is especially renowned for his hate-mongering and constant incitements to kill Christians, Jews, and secular Muslims. Most recently, he praised Allah for the death of Coptic Pope Shenouda, cursing him to hell and damnation—even as many Egyptians were mourning him during his state funeral.

What a sweetheart of a guy. So happy he’s free to return to Egypt to contribute to its future and that of the whole Middle East.

Yeesh.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama really needs to borrow the Evil Queen’s magic mirror

August 7, 2012

Man of the People?

Hey, kids! It’s time for another episode “How Clueless is Barack Obama?” This week, the president played of his favorite cards from the Deck of Cheap Politics, the Class Warfare card, to compare Governor Romney to a “Robin Hood in reverse,” because his tax plans would, supposedly, steal from the poor to give to the rich. The location of this stirring act of Bryan-esque populism?

A $500 per-plate fundraiser before rich liberals in Connecticut.

President Obama, fresh off another monthly walloping in the fund-raising race, attacked his Republican adversary by giving him an unflattering nickname: “Romney Hood.”

Obama, outraised in July by Mitt Romney and the Republicans for the third month in a row, blasted the GOP challenger’s tax policy, which the President said translated into taking resources from the poor to benefit the rich.

“It’s like Robin Hood in reverse,” Obama told a crowd of about 500 supporters at a fund-raiser in Connecticut Monday night. “It’s Romney Hood!”

A pool reporter covering the cash grab at the Stamford Marriott, where 500 “guests” paid $500 each, noted that the colorful description of Romney generated the largest applause of the evening.

“The crowd laughed and roared and whistled its approval,” the reporter wrote.

At least Obama was among those who share his lack of any sense of irony.

Speaking of which, this scene of liberals denying reality brings to mind an excerpt from the opening of Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death:”

THE “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal — the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince’s own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the “Red Death.”

Somehow fitting, no? A feckless leader and his sycophants hide from reality and laugh as if nothing is wrong. Rather than plague, however, it has been the policies of  President Obama and the progressives –the Prince and his courtiers– that have wreaked havoc in the land. And it won’t be some pestilence stalking the corridors of power on election night, but Nemesis, in the guise of the voters’ wrath.

LINKS: More at Breitbart.

RELATED. A lack of self-awareness seems to be endemic on the Left, as witnessed at the annual Democratic Socialists’ of America awards dinner last May. Be sure to laugh and point. Meanwhile, we’ve heard recently that the President has a visceral dislike for Governor Romney.  Moe Lane has an interesting theory of why — jealousy:

I think that it’s very simple: it’s not that Mitt Romney was born rich, gave it away, and got rich again that infuriates Barack Obama so.

It’s that Mitt Romney had a father who loved him.

Ouch.

PS: Romney 2012, because I want a president who’s not still looking for meaning in his life.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Curiosity Fantastic photo from Mars landing

August 6, 2012

Last night, America returned to Mars with the successful landing of the rover “Curiosity” in the Gale Crater region of the Red Planet. While there’s been no sighting of lost cities, canals, or Thuvia (yet), we do have this amazing image:

(Click the image for a larger version)

That is Curiosity about six minutes into its seven-minute descent to the Martian surface. The larger upper portion is the parachute, while the lander itself is the lower dot. The photo was shot by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, from more than 200 miles away. There’s video of the related news conference here.

After all that’s gone wrong the last few years, it’s a nice reminder of the amazing things we’re capable of. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a snapshot of one American space vehicle taken by another American spaceship — around an alien world 350,000,000 hundreds of millions of miles away.

How cool is that?

Seriously, I want an art print of this.

EDIT: In my excitement, I was sloppy with the information: Curiosity’s route covered 350 million miles. Mars is closer than that in a straight line. I blame geeky excitement, and thanks to Mike in the ST comments.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Syria: Endgame for the Assad dictatorship?

August 6, 2012

If not the beginning of the end, having one’s prime minister run away and defect is not a sign that all is going well:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government suffered a significant blow Monday when Prime Minister Riyad Hijab fled with his family to Jordan, two months after taking the top post.

Hijab said he defected. Syrian state media said he was fired.

“I announce today my defection from the killing and terrorist regime and I announce that I have joined the ranks of the freedom and dignity revolution,” Hijab said in a statement read in his name on Al Jazeera television.

State television, however, said Hijab was terminated and replaced by his deputy, Omar Ghalawanji.

​​The news came hours after state media said a bomb exploded at the state television building in Damascus, wounding several people.

Mind you, Hijab was only appointed late last June. He probably packed his bags before going to his swearing-in ceremony.

Regardless of whether he was fired or quit, this is another sign that the Assad dictatorship, often described as a mafia-government that kept the family’s Alawite sect on top of Syrian society, is crumbling faster and faster. Just three weeks ago, a bomb blast in Damascus killed the Syrian defense minister, a former defense minister, and Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law, showing that not even the core of the regime is safe from the rebels. After that, I’m sure that other Syrian officials besides Mr. Hajib have had similar thoughts of saving themselves:

Hijab’s departure followed an accelerating stream of defections from Syria’s armed forces, including that of Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlas, a former confidant and close friend of Assad’s who fled to Turkey a month ago, then went to France to join his father, a once-powerful former defense minister.

Last week, Syria’s top diplomat in Britain defected, telling the British Foreign Office that “he is no longer willing to represent a regime that has committed such violent and oppressive acts against its own people, and is therefore unable to continue in his position.”

Real power in Syria is wielded by Assad’s inner circle of friends, family and the powerful chiefs of his security forces. But the defection of the head of Assad’s government nonetheless sent a strong signal that his support is rapidly unraveling even within the ranks of those assumed still to be loyal.

Hijab, a former agriculture minister and a member of the ruling Baath Party, is a Sunni Muslim from the eastern town of Deir el-Zour, which has been in open revolt against the government for more than a year.

The Associated Press, quoting rebel leader Ahmad Kassim, said three other ministers defected along with Hijab, but that report could not be separately confirmed.

In addition, the wire service said that Turkey’s state-run news agency reported that Syria’s first astronaut had joined opposition forces. Mohammad Ahmad Faris, 61, crossed into Turkey after reaching the headquarters of the Free Syrian Army in the city of Aleppo, meeting with rebel commanders there and declaring his solidarity with the umbrella group of rebel fighters, the Anadolu agency reported.

This uprising in Syria is largely Sunni vs. Alawite, and there have been atrocities committed by both sides. Regional actors are deeply involved, the Saudis giving substantial aid to Sunni jihadist elements, while Iran has dispatched Revolutionary Guards to aid the regime. Turkey may be mobilizing an army on the border with its former province, and the Russians have sent in their marines.

Meanwhile, what’s our Smart Power team doing? We issued a statement:

Meanwhile, in Washington, the White House said the defection indicates the momentum is with opposition forces and the Syrian people.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the defections are reaching the highest levels of the Syrian government and demonstrate that the Syrian people believe Assad’s days are numbered.

Vietor said the quickest way to end the bloodshed in Syria is for Assad to recognize that the Syrian people will not allow him to continue in power. And Vietor renewed U.S. calls for Assad to leave power and allow for a political transition.

Of course, and in fairness, there’s not much Clinton, who’s on her way to Turkey for talks, could do in this situation. Three years of the “Obama Doctrine” (whatever that is) have made US influence in the Middle East nearly a joke and, absent strong leadership from us, local forces and regional actors are going to look out for their own interests. Apparently we do have …er… “secret plans” to assist the rebels, though how much influence that would give us is an open and even dubious question, as is the consequences of any intervention on our part; don’t forget that Barack’s Big Adventure in Libya was a direct (and unintended) factor in the collapse of neighboring Mali.

While the Syrian regime seems to be heading for its fall, and while there are good humanitarian and geopolitical arguments for intervening (the weakening of Hizbullah being one of the latter), there are very good arguments against it, such as the risk of empowering Sunni jihadists and getting involved in another sectarian war so soon after Iraq.

Perhaps the best thing to do is just what the administration appears to be doing: call for a transition, keep everyone talking, aid the rebels a little to keep the door open with them and perhaps strengthen the hand of whatever moderates there may be, and offer what good offices we have to all sides to prevent Syria’s civil war from becoming a regional conflict.

LINK: More at Hot Air.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) In which Bill Whittle tries to depress me. And succeeds

August 5, 2012

I’ve mentioned before that I consider myself  a child of the space program, following the heroics of our astronauts from Mercury to Apollo and even getting to stay home from school on launch days. When the government program declined, I took heart in private efforts to put Mankind into space, and I was happy that California, my home state, the state that had achieved so much in aerospace and technology, was taking the lead in private space efforts, hosting two of the budding industry’s leading companies.

And then I watched this:

But at least we get a high-speed train to nowhere

Confiscatory taxes, insane regulation, and a state government controlled by a party dedicated to looting the taxpayer to pay for a spoils system that rewards its clients, instead of governing for the good of all. California’s only success these days is in driving its most productive people elsewhere.

Will the last business to leave California please turn out the lights? 

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Email ties Solyndra scandal directly to White House

August 3, 2012

Obama’s Chief Investment Adviser

If former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley knew about Solyndra’s financial troubles, and yet the DoE still went ahead with restructuring the loan to illegally subordinate taxpayers in the event of default, what are the odds Barack Obama didn’t know?

Buried in the treasure trove of White House emails related to Solyndra released Thursday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee is one suggesting that concerns about Solyndra’s viability were shared all the way up to then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley a full six months before the company went bust.

(…)

As Solyndra began sinking for good last August, [OMB analyst Kelly] Colyar sent an email summarizing the events leading to a near total taxpayers loss of the $535 loan.

“You may recall that DOE announced in March that they had restructured the Solyndra loan,” Colyar writes. “Prior to this restructuring, OMB staff expressed reservations about the prospects of the company and DOE’s proposal.”

And here’s the key line: “The issue was discussed with the NEC and the Chief of Staff.”

In the end, of course, the loan restructuring went through anyway and, Colyar writes, “Unfortunately, the scenario which OMB staff had feared has materialized.”

That “unfortunate situation”, of course, was a bankruptcy that left taxpayers unable to recoup almost all of $535 million loan blown by Solyndra.

Sure, Daley and the National Economic Council signed off on the loan restructuring without consulting their boss. Uh-huh. Would you care to buy this lovely bridge, too?

Ed Morrissey calls it a bombshell:

This, however, is much more serious.  This is the first time Obama’s inner circle has been tied to the restructuring and its illegal subordination of those taxpayer loans.  If Daley was briefed on the details of that restructuring before it got put in place and it still went forward, one can infer that Daley didn’t raise any objections to it.  It’s hard to imagine that Daley would have gone out on that limb without getting approval from the man to whom he directly reported — Barack Obama.

I think it’s time the Energy & Commerce Committee called Mr. Daley in for some testimony under oath, don’t you? Not only should the federal government not have ever been playing the role of venture capitalist, a role it’s lousy at, but its failure to write off Solyndra at an earlier stage, when Colyar first warned about it, cost the taxpayers an additional $394 million. And it broke the law by putting taxpayers behind outside investors —including an Obama bundler— for claims on assets in case of a bankruptcy. Which is just what happened.

Remember what Obama said a few weeks ago? “We tried our plan, and it worked!”

Heckuva job, Barry.

RELATED: Earlier posts on Solyndra.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama’s year in one photo

August 2, 2012

Perfect. 

via Richard Brookhiser

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Video proof: What really happened yesterday at Chick-fil-A

August 2, 2012

Yesterday was a “national day of appreciation”  for Chick-fil-A, a national chicken sandwich (and other stuff) chain, which had come under fire from the reactionary, ignorant, and nigh-Fascist Left, which had called for boycotts and even threatened to deny business licenses, all because President and COO Dan Cathy said in an interview that he held to the Biblical definition of marriage, that it is between one man and one woman. The company in no way discriminates in their service or employment, but, well, that wasn’t good enough for the Defenders of True Tolerance. Chick-fil-A had to be punished for one man’s Wrong Thought.

Boy did they get a surprise, yesterday.

But pictures don’t tell the whole story, so intrepid reporters Ben Howe and Bruce Carroll made a videolog of their trip to a local Chick-fil-A.

What they found was shocking:

Now, that’s what I call “Gaydar!”

Seriously, the reaction of the Left and of Liberal Fascists such as Mayors Rahm Emanuel, Tom Menino, and Ed Lee has been beyond all reason. Don’t like the owner’s personal opinion? Don’t shop at his store. Tell your friends. But don’t invoke the power of the State to destroy his business, his employee’s jobs, and the businesses of his franchisees, who may not even share his opinion. If guys like Dan Cathy get punished for a private opinion, if they don’t have freedom of conscience, none of us do.

And the proper way to deal with the reactionary Left is what we saw yesterday and in the above video: support and mockery. Show your support by buying some of the attacked person’s products and make fun of the Left. They can’t handle being mocked, and their reactions are amusing.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


And speaking of “freedom of conscience”

August 1, 2012

ObamaCare’s contraceptive and abortifacient mandates took effect today:

As of July 31, 2012 a business owner who objects to abortion had the freedom of conscience to make sure that her company’s insurance policies did not pay to facilitate the practice. But as of today, August 1, she no longer has that freedom. The ObamaCare contraceptive and abortifacient mandates take effect today, hailed by the Obama regime as a great and wonderful thing.

According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “President Obama is moving our country forward by giving women control over their health care. This law puts women and their doctors, not insurance companies or the government, in charge of health care decisions.”

What about pro-life women? Do they not exist?

Not in the eyes of Barack Obama, Kathleen Sebelius, or the Left, they don’t.

Be sure to read the rest.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)